1 "I Once Was Lost, But Now I'm Found"
Many of us sang Jesus Loves Me as children. "Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong." (Anna B. Warner) We learn from a young age that we are weak, but He is strong. We also sing the familiar hymn, Amazing Grace, "I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind but now I see." (John Newton) Another song that comes to mind asks, "What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus." (Robert Lowry) In each of these three songs we see this little word, "but". I am happy to say that "I once was lost, but now I'm found." I was born into a sin cursed world, but God loved me so much that He gave His only Son to die for me. I had no hope for the future... but God gave me everlasting life. I am poor and needy... but God supplies all my needs. I am weak... but He gives me the strength I need each day. I face trials and storms... but God calms the troubled seas of life. I may have fears... but God gives me peace. For every trouble I face, God is there. Let's search the scriptures and find help in those two little words, "...but God..." I leave you with the words of another faithful old hymn by Charlotte Elliott. "Just as I am, without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me, And that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!"
2 "But There Is A God In Heaven"
"Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation. The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof? Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, the secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;" Daniel 2:25-28
I have been praying that God would show me the next theme to use in our devotional thoughts. My Bible reading brought me to the book of Daniel and God opened my eyes to these verses. Daniel had been carried away captive by the Babylonians as a child. Chapter 1 continually refers to Daniel and his peers as "children". He was well favored and wise and was chosen to be schooled in the king's palace and be fed of the king's food and drink for three years. (Daniel 1:4) I have always liked 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." Daniel was young and he had been taken captive into a strange land, but he "purposed in his heart" to stay true to his God. In chapter 2 the king had a dream and wanted the wise men of the land to interpret the dream. The problem was, the king forgot the dream, but still demanded the wise men of his kingdom to tell him the dream and its meaning. "The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king's matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean. And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is non other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh." (Daniel 2:10 & 11) The situation was hopeless. The task was impossible. "Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:" (Daniel 2:19 & 20) Daniel went before the king and said, "The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, ..." (Daniel 2:27 & 28) There are times in our lives when our situation seems hopeless... but there is a God in heaven. There are times when we are faced with the impossible... but there is a God in heaven. Sometimes troubles come quickly into our lives and we don't understand... but there is a God in heaven. You may be faced with questions that the wisest person you know can't answer, "but there is a God in heaven..."
3 But God Shall Supply Your Need
"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19
Paul was writing to the church at Philippi and was very thankful for all they had done for him. "Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:14-19) It is wonderfully amazing the way God gives to those who give to His work. We can see this written in His Word in Malachi 3:10. "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Give to the Lord. You may feel poor and needy, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
4 But God Loved Us While We Were Sinners
"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 5:7-8
Philippians 4:19 reminds us that God will supply all our need, so today we will look at our greatest need. If you asked several people what was their greatest need, you may come up with as many different answers as you have people. I believe that our greatest need is salvation. In this great book of Romans we see, "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) Without salvation we are lost with no hope of life. "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" (Ephesians 2:4-8) What love! That a Holy God would give His only begotten Son to die for me! What love! That the dear Lord Jesus would lay down His life to pay for my sin! Won't you accept His great gift of love today? "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him form 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)
5 But God Is The Strength Of My Heart
"But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped...Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever." Psalm 73:2, 25 & 26
I was reading in the book of Daniel last week and I noticed these verses. "For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me." (Daniel 10:17-19) First I noticed that the angel called Daniel "greatly beloved", in verse 11 and also verse 19. I thought about that and wondered if God thought those words about me. My mind went to John 3:16, and I realized that God indeed greatly loved me and He made a way that I could have eternal life with Him. The next thing I noticed about these verses was that Daniel said, "there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me." Do you ever feel like that? Are there times when you have no strength, even to the point that it seems a burden to breathe? You are not alone. In our Psalm above David said, "my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped..." Maybe you have stumbled under your burden to the point that you can say like David, "My flesh and my heart faileth..." Keep reading the verse, "but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever." I often feel like I can't go on... but God is my strength. Daniel said he "touched me... and he strengthened me." God can give you strength through His touch. Daniel also said, "And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened..." God can give you strength through His Word. Let the Lord speak these words to you, "peace be unto thee, be strong, yea be strong."
6 But By Every Word Of God
"And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." Luke 4:4
If we made a list of our needs, bread or food would be near the top of the list. Our physical bodies can't live without nourishment. We also need the Word of God for our spiritual well-being. We would not eat a large meal on Sunday and go all week without eating. But some people go to church on Sunday, but they don't feel the need to open their Bibles throughout the week. We need to feed on the Word of God daily for wisdom in our Christian walk. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." (Colossians 3:16) We can trust in the Word of God that He never changes. "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89) We can read and study the Bible and it is also good to memorize the scriptures. God can bring those verses to mind when we need them for comfort, peace, or to help us overcome temptation. "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." (Psalm 119:11) God's Word can lead us and guide us. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105) One more for dessert from Psalm 119:103, "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"
7 But Ye Shall Receive Power
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts 1:8
If a tree falls across the power lines coming into my house during the night, then my alarm clock wouldn't go off and I may oversleep. I wouldn't be able to hear the morning news, do my WII Fit exercises, or take a hot shower. I could not curl my hair, or see to brush my teeth. You could not have your cup of coffee or bacon and eggs, or even a hot pop tart. You may sit in the dark and eat a bowl of cereal with warm milk. We would miss out on doing all these things and the day would just be starting. How much could you do at work if you did not have your computer, copier, fax machine, and phone service? If our source of power were cut off we could barely function in our world today. The new church grew rapidly in the beginning of the book of The Acts because they had a source of power. Jesus appeared and left this message for His followers, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." God would send the Holy Ghost to give them power to be witnesses for Him. Look at the boldness of Peter and John in chapter 4. "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, ...Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:8-13) We don't have to be scholars to witness for the Lord. We just need the power of God through the Holy Spirit on our lives. They were threatened but they didn't quit. They prayed, "And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,... And when they had prayed... they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness." (Acts 4:29 & 31) If I try to be a witness for the Lord without the power of God on my life, then it is like drinking a cup of coffee from a pot that is not plugged in. My words would come across cold and bitter. We need to pray for boldness and for the power of God to be on our lives.
8 But Rather Seek Ye The Kingdom Of God
"And he said unto his disciples, Therefore, I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?...Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you." Luke 12:22-24 & 27-31
We have been looking this week at Philippians 4:19, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." We looked at scriptures which teach us that God supplies our spiritual needs of salvation, strength, and power through His precious Word. Many people would put food and clothing at the top of their list of needs. If we pack the car to go on vacation and we just can't get anything else squeezed in, we have to choose what to leave at home. We will surely make room for our clothes and some food. These are necessities that we must have. Jesus tells us in the verses above that we are not to worry about food and clothes. He reminds us that God knows we need these things. "But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you." Pray for spiritual things, like those we looked at this week. God will supply our spiritual needs, and also the physical needs. He understands our emotional needs and provides for our financial needs. We need to trust in Him. I leave you with the great truths of Romans 8:28, 31 & 32. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose... What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"
9 But God Was With Joseph
"And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house." Acts 7:9 & 10
Stephen preached this sermon from the scriptures we have in the book of Genesis. "And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian." (Genesis 39:1-2) Joseph was 17 years old and Jacob, his father, sent him to see about his brothers. They saw him coming from a distance and planned to kill him. They decided to sell him as a slave instead. They dipped his coat of many colors in the blood of a goat and sent it back to their father to make him believe that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast. These bad things happened to Joseph, but our verse above tells us "And the LORD was with Joseph..." After a while, his master's wife lied about Joseph and he was thrown into prison. Joseph was doing the right thing, but things got worse. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes things in our life seem to get worse, even when we do the right thing. Look at Genesis 39:20-21, "And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison." Again we see, "the LORD was with Joseph..." Joseph's brothers would not give him mercy. Joseph's master gave him no mercy. But the Lord gave him mercy. Praise the Lord! When your situation seems hopeless and no one seems to care, the Lord is merciful. "Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." (Psalm 106:1) When you feel like the world has turned against you, remember the story of Joseph and these words, "but God was with him. And delivered him..."
10 But The Butler Forgot Joseph
"And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days: Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler. But think on me when it shall be well with thee and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon." Genesis 40:12-15
Maybe Joseph sees this as a turning point in his life. God has given him the interpretation of a dream for Pharaoh's butler. Surely the butler will speak of him to Pharaoh. Look at verse 23, "Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him." Day after day he waited to be released from this dungeon. The next chapter begins, "And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river." (Genesis 41:1) Pharaoh dreamed a disturbing dream and the butler remembered Joseph. Verse 9, "Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day:" The butler finally remembered Joseph, after two full years. Yesterday we saw that sometimes bad things happen to good people. Today we see that sometimes our good deeds are not remembered. You may go the extra mile to help someone, and that person may not even acknowledge your help. You may help a co-worker on a project or report, and have your name left off completely. You may visit the nursing home and spend time with a grandmother that doesn't remember who you are. We are human and we sometimes forget. Maybe you made a promise to a child that you would do something special, but something else came up and you forgot to even tell them your plans were changed. You may hear of a dear friend being sick or in need and you plan to send that person a card, but you forget. Yes, we all sometimes forget, but we can be sure that God will remember the things we have done for His glory. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (II Corinthians 5:10)
11 But God Meant It Unto Good
“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Genesis 50:20
Joseph was sold as a slave as a young boy by his brothers. He was carried to a distant land where he also spent time in prison for lies that had been told on him. Joseph could have been bitter and angry at his brothers for all the pain and suffering he had encountered. I don't know too many people who can look back on their lives with such love and forgiveness as Joseph did. "And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not; I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them." (Genesis 50:15-21) Many of us can quote Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." But can we look at the trials in our lives with the forgiving spirit that Joseph had? “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)
12 But As For Me And My House, We Will Serve The LORD
"Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:14 & 15
Our pastor, Jeff Woods has preached on Joshua lately, and our Sunday School lessons have also been on Joshua. Each time I hear stories of Joshua, I think of these verses. I especially like the last line, "but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Joshua took a stand for the Lord. He was the leader of the Israelites after the death of Moses. When I started thumbing through the book of Joshua to find this verse, I started at the beginning of the book. In chapter 1 of Joshua God tells him, "Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. 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. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." (Joshua 1:6-9) These verses are at the beginning of Joshua's role as leader. Our scriptures above come at the end of Joshua's life. In Joshua 24:29 we read that Joshua died at the age of 110. Joshua made the decision to serve the Lord many years before, and he stuck with it. Look around you today. Many people are serving many things. But... we can serve the Lord. Look back on your life. You may have made the decision to serve the Lord years ago. Are you still serving the Lord? You may have let things hinder you from serving God, but... you can choose this day, to serve the Lord. Look to the future. You can be like Joshua and come to your last days on this earth, still proclaiming, "...but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
13 "God Is No Respecter Of Persons: But..."
"Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." Acts 10:34 & 35
God made a covenant with Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee; And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." (Genesis 12:1-3) Throughout the Old Testament, the children of Israel were God's chosen people. The New Testament begins with the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son. John tells us, "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" (John 1:11 & 12) Because Jesus came and opened up the way of salvation to "whosoever," we can become children of God. Jesus appeared to the disciples after He was risen. "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" (Matthew 28:18 & 19) God gave Peter a vision of animals let down on a sheet and told him, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." (Acts 10:15) I am so thankful that God opened the way of salvation for other nations. We can be saved. You can be saved. "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) "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13) We don't have to be Jews to be in God's family. He made a way of salvation... all you have to do is believe.
14 But He That Believeth Not Is Condemned Already
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:16-18
I want to go back and read verse 18 again, "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." We often quote John 3:16 and that is good, but it would be even better if we continued with verse 18. It is sad to think of all the lost people in the world who don't even realize that they are lost. They do not think that they are "condemned already". Some may think that they are not ready to go to heaven, but they believe that they will turn to God before they get old and die. This morning I was reading in the book of Joel and the Lord showed me a verse that stayed with me most of the day. "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision." (Joel 3:14) Everyday multitudes die and go to spend eternity in hell because they did not make the decision to follow the Lord. They did not realize that in not deciding to follow Jesus, they were deciding not to follow Him. "The day of the LORD is near." I continued reading into the book of Amos... "Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light." (Amos 5:18) I often hear people say, "Well, they are better off now" when their loved ones die after a time of pain and suffering. If they were not saved, they are not better off. We need to see the gravity of this matter so we can be better witnesses for Christ. Have you made the decision to follow God? "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision." (Joel 3:14)
15 But They That Wait Upon The Lord Shall Renew Their Strength
"He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:29-31
I often travel the side roads to work, instead of going down main street, to avoid some of the traffic. Many times I see people walking down the streets. I recently noticed that some of these people have great infirmities and handicaps. I wonder if the elderly gentleman lost his arm in war. I pass a beautiful young lady who struggles with each step. I often see wheelchairs on the sidewalks. Others limp with canes, taking great care not to stumble and fall. I pray for the people I pass each day, and ask God to forgive me for my grumbling and complaining. We have come through another week, and I am tired and weary. I get tired working, every day on the job, but I am thankful that I have a job. I get weary cooking and cleaning and doing laundry. But I am thankful for the food I eat and the clothes I wear. I am blessed with a home filled with modern conveniences that make life easier and more enjoyable. God has been so good to me. Sometimes I get weary. But this verse tells me that if I will wait on the Lord, He will renew my strength. When I open my eyes and see all the goodness of the Lord on my life, it gives me a thankful heart, and fills my soul with a sweet peace that gives me rest. As I see those who struggle with each step, it sends conviction to my heart and helps me lift my feet a little higher with great gratitude to my God. We all get weary. Sometimes we fall. But we can give thanks and praise to our God and trust in the Lord for our strength.
16 But Jesus Called The Children Unto Him
"And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." Luke 18:15-17
I love little children. Mike and I have five children and we raised them up in church. With Susanna, the youngest, now 19, we enjoy planning things for the children at church. We meet with them once a month and visit a nursing home. The people there enjoy seeing the little children and hearing them sing. We like to plan fun activities for them which are centered around God's Word. We have good Sunday School teachers in our church and our children are welcome in our worship services. They sing together during our Sunday evening services. We should do all we can to make families with young children feel welcome in our churches. The disciples tried to send the children away, but Jesus called them to Him and blessed them. Mark 10:16 tells us, "And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them."
17 But I Have Prayed For Thee
"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." Luke 22:31-32
This is a familiar story to many. Peter told the Lord that he was ready to go with him to prison and to death. Jesus told Peter that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed. Just as Jesus knew this about Peter, He knows all of our faults and failures, too. But I am thankful that just as Jesus told Peter that He prayed for him, He prays for you and me. Jesus knows all about me. He knows my strengths and he also knows my weaknesses. He knows all about me, yet He loves me so much He died for me. We read in Romans 8:34, "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." Also in Hebrews 7:25, "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." We can find great power through prayer, but there are times in my life when I don't know how to pray. Sometimes the valleys are so low I don't feel like my prayers reach up to heaven. In times like those it is comforting to know that my Lord and Savior prays for me.
18 No Man Cometh Unto The Father, But By Me
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6
The first verses of this chapter are too good to skip over. "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. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:1-6)
Jesus tried to prepare the disciples for His death. A short while before He said, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again....Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes... And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die." (John 12:27-33) Jesus told His dear friends that He was troubled, but He told them "Let not your heart be troubled..." He wanted to comfort them. Many people use John 14 to tell about the mansions in heaven, but I am amazed by verse 3. "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." Jesus came to die and make a way for us to go to heaven to be with Him. The mansions in glory are not the reason I want to go to heaven. I want to go so I can spend eternity praising my dear Lord for saving me and giving me eternal life. We have been looking at the little word, "but". This verse says, "no man cometh unto the Father..." Oh, how sad it would be if the verse ended right there. But we have three little words that make all the difference. "no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." Jesus is the way, the only way, the truth, the living truth and the life, everlasting life.
19 But Jonah Rose Up To Flee From The Presence Of The Lord
"Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD." Jonah 1:1-3
God showed me the verse in Daniel 2:28, "But there is a God in heaven..." and I began looking for other verses with this little conjunction. I read the book of Jonah this morning and noticed several verses in this small book that begin, "But..." We begin with Jonah 1:3, "But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD..." We know the story of Jonah. God told Jonah to go and preach to the wicked city of Nineveh. Jonah went in the opposite direction as he tried to run from God. He went down to Joppa, then he went down into a ship, and eventually he lay down in the sides of the ship and went to sleep. We may criticize Jonah and say that anyone should know that you can't hide from God, but how many times has God told us to witness to someone and we went in the opposite direction? When we try to run from God's Word or hide from the Lord we stop looking up and begin going down. We also notice that as he got on the ship going in the opposite direction, "he paid the fare thereof." When we disobey God's Word we will pay the price. It may not be immediate, but sin can cost us our health, our wealth, and our Christian testimony. Just as Jonah was sent to Nineveh, we have been sent to share the good news of the gospel. "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Matthew 16:15)
20 But The Lord Sent Out A Great Wind Into The Sea
"But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not." Jonah 1:4-6
We saw yesterday that Jonah tried to run and hide from God... but God sent a storm into Jonah's life. I do not believe that every storm in our lives comes as punishment. The disciples once asked Jesus who had sinned in the case of a man born blind and Jesus told them it was not from sin, but that God would be glorified. Sometimes storms come into our lives through no fault of our own. But, in our verses above, God sent the great and mighty storm to wake Jonah and send him in the right direction. Sometimes guilt and conviction may keep us awake at night, but not always. Jonah was asleep during the midst of this terrible storm. It is also important to notice that Jonah was not the only one affected by this storm. The mariners threw their goods overboard to lighten the ship. They suffered great loss from this storm and feared for their lives. When we have sin in our lives it affects those around us. The shipmaster woke Jonah and told him to pray to his God. "And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you." (Jonah 1:9-12) Jonah had no doubt that God sent the storm. Sometimes we go through storms and trials and we don't understand why. But when God sends a mighty tempest into our lives because of sin, we need to listen to His wake-up call and obey His voice.
21 But I Will Sacrifice Unto Thee With The Voice Of Thanksgiving
"The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped abut my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD." Jonah 2:5-9
Jonah told the mariners that they could throw him overboard and the sea would be calm. He knew that if he stayed on the ship they would all be killed in the storm, so he let them throw him overboard, knowing that he would surely drown. "So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows." (Jonah 1:15-16) I am amazed by the next verse. "Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." (Jonah 1:17) I am not doubtful that God let the whale swallow Jonah. What amazes me is that Jonah was there three days and nights before he prayed to the Lord. Doesn't that sound like us? We have problems and we try to work it out, or wait it out, and when we finally get as low as we can go, we pray. Our troubles and cares compass us about like the waves that passed over Jonah and we feel like we are drowning in our sorrow. Our doubts and fears have a choke hold on us like the sea weeds that wrapped around Jonah's head. We sink farther and farther down until we hit bottom, then we remember the Lord. Jonah finally realized that his only hope was in the Lord. "But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD." (Jonah 2:9) Are you sinking in despair? Sacrifice, give yourself to the Lord. Be thankful unto God. Make good on the promises you have made to the Lord. And proclaim in your heart and head, "Salvation is of the LORD." "And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land." (Jonah 2:10) No person in the whole world was ever happier to be on dry land. I'm sure Jonah rejoiced to see the sun shine again. He breathed deep to take in the fresh air. He must have looked for a drink of fresh water and maybe something to eat. The Lord saved him, from the mighty winds, from the raging sea, and from the belly of the whale. Sometimes we believe that God did all of that for Jonah, but we don't have faith that He can answer our smallest prayers. We need to put our trust in God. "Salvation is of the LORD."
22 But Let Man And Beast Be Covered With Sackcloth And Cry Mightily Unto God
"And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?" Jonah 3:1-9
I used to picture Jonah in my mind crawling up off the beach, covered in sea weed, smelling like dead fish, hair and clothes matted with mud and muck, entering into the city of Nineveh looking more like a sea monster than a preacher. But the map in my Bible looks like Nineveh was about 400 miles from the sea shore, so I guess Jonah had time to clean up his clothes before he entered the great city. Nineveh was a wicked city, filled with violence, but the people of Nineveh repented. Jonah preached and verse 5 tells us that the people believed God. They understood that the message came from God and they humbled themselves in true repentence. Jesus spoke of Jonah to the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 12:41, "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here." The gospel message is still being preached today. Oh, how we need to humble ourselves before the Holy God Almighty.
23 But It Displeased Jonah Exceedingly
"And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country: Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?" Jonah 3:10 and 4:1-4
Now we see the real reason Jonah ran from God. He did not want God to forgive the Ninevites. The Assyrians were the enemies of Israel and Jonah wanted God to destroy Nineveh. "So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city. And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to life. And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night; And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?" (Jonah 4:5-11) Nineveh was a wicked city, but the people repented and God had mercy. God told Jonah there were 120,000 people that did not know their right hand from their left. I think God was letting Jonah know that even though there were wicked people in the city, there were 120,000 people who were children, or unlearned. God was showing Jonah that he is a merciful God. He did not even want to destroy the cattle. Let's put this story in our neighborhood. Do we only witness to people on the "good side of the tracks" and avoid people on the "bad side of the tracks"? If someone who was wickedly deep in sin gets saved, do we love them as Christians should, or does it make us angry that God forgave them? Do we want to see God punish our enemies and say like Jonah that we would rather die than see God forgive them? We should pray for our enemies. Jesus said, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 6:43-45)
24 But The Spirit Of The LORD Came Upon Gideon And He Blew A Trumpet
"Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the LORD had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father's household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night. And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built. And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they enquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing. Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it. And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar. Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar. Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel. But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him." Judges 6:27-34
If you are not familiar with the story of Gideon please read the 6th and 7th chapters of Judges. The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon while he was threshing wheat by the winepress. He wasn't out in the open where the wind could carry away the hulls of the wheat, but he was hiding down in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. The angel said, "The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour." (vs 12) I'm sure that Gideon did not feel like a mighty man of valour, hiding from the enemies. He said, "Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us?" (vs 13) After Gideon built an altar unto the Lord, God told him to throw down the altar of Baal and cut down the grove. That night, with the help of ten servants, Gideon did all that God had said. Again, he does not seem like a mighty man of valour, as he did it at night. But I like verse 34. "But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him." The trumpet was the sound of war. "And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies." (Numbers 10:9) We can't stand in our own power and fight the Lord's battles. But when the Spirit of the Lord is on our lives we can take a stand against sin. Once Gideon blew the trumpet, other Israelites came to join the fight. If we can be like Gideon and take a stand for what's right, then it may give courage to others around us to stand with us. Are you hiding your Christianity, or are you sounding the gospel trumpet and letting your light shine?
25 But Noah Found Grace In The Eyes Of The Lord
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD." Genesis 6:5-6
Without the truth in this verse we would not be here today. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD." God is gracious in His mercy. In the dark days of judgment, when the storm clouds rolled overhead, God made a way of salvation. Not only did God save Noah and his family to preserve life on earth, God also made a way of salvation to give us eternal life. Through Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son, we have saving grace. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" (Ephesians 2:8) We have sustaining grace found in Hebrews 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 12:28 shows us serving grace, "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:" James 4:6 reminds us that we have sufficient grace. "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." God also gives us strengthening grace. "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." (II Timothy 2:1) We can sing of grace and speak with grace. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord... Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. " (Colossians 3:16 and 4:6) We could go on and on with the marvelous gift of God's grace, to the very end of the scriptures as we have them today. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." (Revelation 22:21)
26 But God Raised Him From The Dead
"And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead:" Acts 13:29 & 28
The weather has started turning cooler and autumn is here. We will soon begin to think about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many people, even those who aren't Christians celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus. You can get your stable and miniature Mary, Joseph, and shepherds out of storage to display in your home, and still not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. Some will also dress in their best and go to church on Easter Sunday. But Christianity is more than the birth of Jesus and His death on the cross. This short verse, "But God raised him from the dead" tells the greatest miracle of all time. Paul told the Romans, "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." (Romans 10:9) The resurrection separates Christianity from all other religions. My God lives. It would not be enough to believe all the miracles in the Bible and not believe in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand, because I believe that Christ was raised from the dead, I have no problem believing all the other miracles in the Bible.
27 But God Gave The Increase
I chose these verses for our devotions and I "borrowed" this devotional from our time of youth jubilee a couple of years ago.
“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.” I Corinthians 3:6-8
The last plate had been served. The last cup of iced tea had been poured. Everyone was busy: washing dishes, wiping tables, stacking chairs, and bagging trash. We collected salt and peppershakers and then I started gathering the glass jars of red, white, and blue flowers to put away for another day. One little boy came up to me and said, “Those are pretty flowers. You just gotta keep watering and watering.” I carried those jars to the shelf and as I went back for more he said again, “You just gotta keep watering and watering.” He then turned and ran off to join the other kids. I had to make one more trip and when I got to the corner table, and picked up the last jar, there was about two inches of water in the blue marbles in the bottom of the jar. I laughed as I showed it to the women in the kitchen and repeated the little boy’s words, “Those are pretty flowers. You just gotta keep watering and watering.” In his way, this small child tried to help as he watered the flowers. As I thought on this I remembered these words of Paul in I Corinthians 3:6-8, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.” I want to thank each of you who had a part in the Youth Jubilee. We all labored together. The Word of God, the precious seed, was planted in the hearts of these young boys and girls. Others watered, and God gave the increase. Thank you for your prayers and support. Thank you for the unity you showed as you all worked together in “one accord” for the Lord’s work. Thank you for cooking and cleaning, and giving your time and talents for God’s glory. All through the week, as the preachers and singers planted the seed, you kept watering, and watering, the garden of pretty flowers. And you did it with smiling faces, even when I didn’t have my camera in hand. Thank you! God only knows how these lives will bloom… and you helped water.
28 But God, Who Is Rich In Mercy
"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind: and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:1-7
"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us," We talked about God's grace and today I want to talk about God's mercy. I once heard a preacher say that "Grace" is getting what we don't deserve, and "Mercy" is not getting what we do deserve. We were lost in sin, and God had mercy. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" (Titus 3:5) Hebrews 4:16 shows us that we can go to God and find mercy and grace. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." If we search the scriptures to find verses on mercy, we would also find the sad verses of Luke 16. "There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." (Luke 16:19-31) The rich man cried out for mercy, but it was too late. Don't wait until you cross over from this life to death to call on God for mercy. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ today and be saved. Hell is not a joke. God is real. Heaven is real. These scriptures are true. Ask God for saving grace and mercy now, before it is too late.
29 But God Knoweth Your Hearts
"No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." Luke 16:13-15
We cannot serve God and the world. The people of Jesus' day did not accept these truths and after 2000 years people still don't follow these words of our Lord. Many parents push their children toward future fame in sports or beauty pageants. I hear of the time and money that is spent by parents to insure their children are going to go far in the world. They give everything to make sure their children are "highly esteemed" among their peers. I worry that parents are pushing their children for success for life in this world, and are forgetting to prepare them for eternal life. We cannot serve God and the world. This applies to all of us. We may go to church and serve God in word, but we need to follow Him with all our heart. Jesus said, "...but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." What are you living for? We cannot servie God and the world.
30 But God Is Faithful
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." I Corinthians 10:13
"But God is faithful." What a wonderful truth! Faithfulness is a virtue that we appreciate in our friends and family. Sometimes we fall or those we love let us down. But God is faithful. This verse reminds us that God can help us overcome temptation. God will never let us down. Paul opened this letter to the Corinthians telling them of God's faithfulness. "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." (I Corinthians 1:9) He also reminded them to be faithful in I Corinthians 4:2, "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." Let's strive to be faithful. "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)" (Hebrews 10:23)
31 But God Will Redeem My Soul From The Power Of The Grave
"But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah." Psalm 49:15
This Psalm was written 1000 years before Jesus came to earth to die for mankind. Men and women of the Old Testament had faith in God that He would provide a Lamb for the sacrifice. Since the days of Christ we have faith that Jesus came and died and rose from dead to save those who would believe. Death has no power over Christian believers. This sets Christianity apart from all other religions. We do not have to fear death. Paul's writings to the Corinthian believers are very clear about the resurrection. "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept... Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (I Corinthians 15:12-20 and 51-58)
32 But God Be Thanked
“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Romans 6:17&18
Cooler winds have begun to blow and a few leaves have started to let go. I get up in the dark and I pull out my sweater for the brisk days. I like the fall. I went to the store and bought all those special baking ingredients that line my cabinet shelves this time of year. Those special spices remind us that Thanksgiving is not too far off. Thanksgiving. A festive time of year for feasting with family and friends. Thanksgiving. A favorite time of year for giving thanks to God above for His many blessings on our lives. I am thankful for my family and friends. I am thankful for my church and Christian family. The list could go on and on as I thank God for my home, my job, my food and clothes. But I am thankful most of all for God's gift of salvation. As the verse tells us above, we can be thankful that we are no longer servants of sin. I don't have to live a sinful life. God has put a desire deep in my heart to serve Him. He has given me a deep settled peace in trusting in His Word. He gives me joy in walking the Christian way. He gives me freedom from the sins of the past, and hope and strength for each step of today. I have the promise of a heavenly home for eternity. Yes, we have so much to be thankful for. Let's start early and keep praising Him throughout the holiday season.
33 But He Said, "It Is I; Be Not Afraid."
"And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went." John 6:18-21
Matthew tells us of this same event. Jesus told the disciples to get in the ship and go across the sea. (Matthew 14:22) This tells me that storms may come into our lives even when we are following God. Some men preach that if you are in God's will, you will have peaceful sailing. The disciples were doing exactly what Jesus had told them to do, but dark storms clouds rolled overhead and the wind tossed their little ship. We are living in troubled times. Many have lost their jobs and are facing financial troubles. Storm clouds of sickness have over-shadowed others. Fears and heartaches are bringing others to tears. Where can we turn when the storms of life threaten us? We can turn to the one and only Lord who can calm the storms with the sound of His voice, "Peace, be still." John 6:20 is a short verse that you could memorize easily. "But he said into them, It is I; be not afraid." Listen to the Lord as He speaks those gentle words to your heart and soul. "It is I; be not afraid."
34 But Be Filled With The Spirit
"Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” Ephesians 5:17-20
I have been praying for our church. I want to see our church grow, not only in number, but also in Spiritual growth. God led me to the book of Acts and I prayed that God would show me what I can do to help our church. Several verses stood out in my mind. They continued in prayer in one accord. (Acts 1:14) Peter preached for them to believe and repent. (Acts 2:38) "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42) "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:45-47) I made a list of many of the things they did; pray, believe, repent, give, fellowship, testify, exhort, praise God, etc. These were all action verbs. I looked at each word and read the first few chapters again to find verses to represent each thing on my list. Then God showed me the most important thing of all. "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost..." (Acts 2:1-4) They were filled with the Holy Ghost. If I will empty myself of the things of this world and be filled with the Spirit, I will pray and read my Bible. If I am filled with the Spirit, I will have love and compassion for lost souls on their way to hell and I will be a witness for the Lord. If I am filled with the Spirit, I will sing praises to my God, I will give to the Lord's work, I will be faithful to the Lord, and I will worship in one accord with my Christian brothers and sisters. If I am filled with the Spirit, I will not be filled with bitterness, or pride, or envy. God wants us to be filled with the Spirit. I am praying that God will fill me and use me to glorify His name. Acts 2:6 begins, "Now when this was noised abroad..." If we will make ourselves available to God, and ask Him to fill us and use us for His glory, then the word will get out. People will hear that God is moving in our churches and souls will be saved and our churches will grow.
35 But God Hath Chosen The Foolish Things Of The World
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." I Corinthians 1:18-31
These are more verses than I usually use, but they all go together. I started with verses 27 & 28, "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are:" These verses were true back in Bible days, and they are still true today. I know intelligent people who see preaching as foolish. There are mighty people who see Christians as being weak. Many times those who are wealthy, see us as poor, because they judge us by our possessions. God has given us a simple plan of salvation. Even a child can understand that all you need to do is admit that you are lost and believe that Christ is the only One who can save you and confess your sins as you trust in Him. God paid the greatest price for salvation, His only Son, but has given it freely to all who believe. All the wealth in the world can't buy salvation, but God hears the cry of a poor, lost sinner. It is hard for the strong and mighty to bow down to anyone. But, one day every person is going to bow to the Lord. "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." (Romans 14:11) Don't wait until it is too late to hear God's Word. Believe and be saved by His marvelous grace.
36 But God Said, "No"
"Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building: But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name..." I Chronicles 28:2 & 3
David was a great king. We can read much about King David in the Old Testament and he is even mentioned in the New Testament. He is called a man after God's own heart. "And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will." (Acts 13:22) The Holy Spirit was on David. "Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah." (I Samuel 16:13) When David wanted to build a house for the Lord, Nathan, the prophet, thought it was a blessed idea. "And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies; That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains. And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the LORD is with thee." (II Samuel 7:1-3) God spoke to Nathan that night and told him to tell David that he could not build the Lord's house, but He would build David a house for ever. This came to pass as David is in the geneology of the Lord Jesus. Many verses in the New Testament refer to Jesus as "the son of David." David served God and had the best of intentions in wanting to build a temple for God, but God said, "No." We need to pray about everything in our lives, because sometimes God tells us, "No." We may be serving God and living for Him. Our pastor and Sunday school teachers may think it is a wonderful idea. But when we pray about it, God may not let us proceed. We don't always understand why God tells us no to certain things, but He knows best. We read in Isaiah 55:8, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD." We don't understand the ways of the Lord. But we can pray and read His Word and trust in Him to lead us in the right way. "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)