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WEDNESDAY May 23, 2018

Individual Gifts

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

1 Corinthians 12:11

One of the major problems that Paul wrote about was the use and abuse of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Church. God wanted to bless His people, and the people of God wanted to be blessed, but they were abusing the gifts given to them by the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote to correct the people in Corinth. As the Corinthians exercised their spiritual gifts in the Church, it was to be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40). God wanted unity and diversity in the body of Christ.

Underline the phrase, distributing to each one individually as He wills. Understand, it is not as you will; it is as God wills. It is important to operate our gifts under this basis, with the understanding, it is however God wants to manifest Himself continuously in and through our lives––fully and completely.

It is also important that we should not covet someone else’s gift. We are all a part of the body of Christ, so we need to be satisfied and content in wherever God has called us to be in ministry. Then we will be happy and joyous––never striving. It is when we strive that we shall have problems––seriously. When we are not content, we become dissatisfied and desire a gift that someone else has––that is covetousness.

Understand, God gives us gifts and talents, not so we can use and abuse them or build our own kingdom, but it is always to enhance the work of God and to build His kingdom.

God, in His mercy and goodness, has endowed every man with certain gifts, talents, and capacities. These are not to be used selfishly for our own profit, but for the glory of God, and for
the building of His kingdom.
~Billy Graham~

TUESDAY May 22, 2018

Different Kinds of Tongues

… to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:10

Paul concluded with two other gifts of the Spirit––speaking in different kinds of tongues and the interpretation of those tongues. Speaking in tongues is the ability to speak a foreign language without having learned it. The gift of the interpretation of tongues is the miraculous power to understand the language spoken.

In Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, as I was getting baptized by the Holy Spirit, a lady next to me spoke in French, and I spoke in Greek. I had never studied Greek in my life; it was through the baptism of the Holy Spirit that I spoke in another tongue.

In Acts 2:4, as the disciples were in one place, the upper room, and in one accord, the Holy Spirit came upon them: And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Those who heard them were all amazed and marveled. In Acts 2:7-8, they said to one another: “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?”

When a person speaks in a different tongue, is it a message from God? No, a person is glorifying God in praise and worship. We saw this happen when people from every nation were represented in Jerusalem. They heard the disciples of Christ speaking in their own dialect, glorifying God for His marvelous works (Act 2:5-12).

So those who have been given the true gift of interpretation of tongues will magnify the Lord. It is so beautiful and incredible how the gifts of the Holy Spirit operate in the Church today.

God requires that his gifts should be sought for. He designs to be honored by our asking. Just as He is to be thanked by us after He has
bestowed His blessings.
~A.W. Pink~

MONDAY May 21, 2018

Same Spirit Working Among Us

…to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits…

1 Corinthians 12:9-10

Paul continued to mention other gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gift of miracles can be used to cast out demons, heal the sick, or even raise the dead, or whatever else God wants to do. The Apostle Peter told a lame man: “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).

Prophecy, in the primary sense, is a gift whereby a person is given a divine revelation. The Prophet Isaiah was given divine revelation concerning the coming Messiah––Jesus Christ:

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever (Isaiah 9:6-7).

The discerning of spirits is a much needed gift, especially in an afterglow service. A believer would be able to detect if there was a person bringing attention to themselves, or whether there was a demon possessed person present. A person with this gift would know whether a person was speaking truth through the power of the Holy Spirit, or if there was a person among them speaking through a demonic influence––from Satan.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter was able to discern the lies of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-4).

The Holy Spirit gives liberty to the Christian, direction to the worker, discernment to the teacher, power to the Word, and fruit to faithful service. He reveals the things of Christ…
~Billy Graham~

SUNDAY May 20, 2018

For the Profit of All

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit…

1 Corinthians 12:7-8

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, mentioned nine different gifts given to Christians individually. Underline the key phrase, for the profit of all. Understand, when we minister to the body of Christ, our spiritual gifts benefit other believers in the Church. That is why people have different spiritual gifts according to what the needs might be.

In verse 8, he referenced the word of wisdom, which is having divine insight into solving difficult problems. Paul also spoke about the word of knowledge, which is information divinely revealed to a person.

If you think about a human body, we each have ten fingers and ten toes. But not everybody wants to be a toe; they would rather be a part of the body, in the light––where everyone sees them. What happens if God calls you to be a toe? The toes are very important to the body. Without the big toe, a person would lose their balance; they could not walk correctly.

In the Old Testament, during times of war, Israel would cripple their enemies by cutting off their thumbs. Why? They could no longer shoot a bow and fight against them––it would cripple them.

Many Christians have become spiritually crippled in the Church because they are not submitted to what God’s order is concerning the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In Costa Mesa, the afterglow services were amazing! People would stay at church until twelve at night to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit while worshiping the Lord. When was the last time you worshiped the Lord privately and asked to be baptized by the Holy Spirit?

The purpose is not that you might get more of the Holy Spirit, but that the Holy Spirit might get more of you.
~Chuck Smith~

SATURDAY May 19, 2018

Diversities of Spiritual Gifts

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6

Paul taught the Corinthians that there are a variety of spiritual gifts given to believers in the Church. However, there had to be unity among the believers in order for the gifts to be operated effectively in the body of Christ. Otherwise, these spiritual gifts would be hindered by their carnality.

Paul, later in the Epistle, explained to the Corinthians that spiritual gifts are not effective when not used in love. If someone has the gift of teaching, and they do not have love, then their words become as a noise––there is nothing really being said. 1 Corinthians 13:1 explains: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1).

It is important to understand that in ministry we depend on the Holy Spirit to work through us. There is a variety of different gifts given to us by God, not only the gift of speaking in tongues. Therefore, each person in the body of Christ will need to know which gifts they have been given. God has given us spiritual gifts, but it is up to us to develop them and, by faith, use them. A man or woman of God must be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be able to operate their gifts by faith effectively.

We should not covet someone else’s spiritual gift, as there are so many different gifts distributed among us. Christians need to quit looking at other people and concentrate on what Christ has given to them.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation
or shadow of turning.
~James 1:7~

FRIDAY May 18, 2018

Jesus is Lord

Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:3

Paul made it very clear that those who confessed Christ did so by God’s Holy Spirit––this really speaks of unity among the believers in Christ. What else do we see in this verse? We see the Trinity of God mentioned––God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It is the same as when we see the Trinity at the baptism of Jesus Christ in Matthew 3:16-17:

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Now listen carefully, as 1 Corinthians 12:3 teaches us something very important that we must know as Christians. Some people have said they have heard a Christian speaking with a demonic voice. Understand, this is not possible; if you are a child of God, you can never do that. However, it is true that no demon can call Jesus Lord.

In the seventies, Bob Mumford, a teacher from Florida, brought into the Church false doctrine; he taught that a Christian could be demon possessed. He falsely taught there was the demon of smoking or the demon of gluttony. This is not true. There have also been other false teachers such as Kenneth Copeland and Kenneth Hagin who have taught people positive confession. Seriously, all these false doctrines are the same doctrines from the past, only they have been disguised under different names.

We should no more tolerate false doctrine than we would tolerate sin.
~J.C. Ryle~

THURSDAY May 17, 2018

Dumb Idols

You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led.

1 Corinthians 12:2

Paul believed that the problems he had to address were largely due to the Corinthian believers having worldly attitudes. He also knew one of the biggest problems was lack of spiritual maturity.

There was so much sin in Corinth. It was the party city of the world––full of idolatry. Men and women from Athens would travel to Corinth. Ships docked at Corinth, and the sailors came among the Corinthians to take part in the city’s activities. Many men would lay with the prostitutes in the city. Christians were being greatly influenced and led away by all the different idolatrous, pagan practices. Demons took possession of these idols. Some “believers” were actually involved in demonic spiritualism!

Think of how people in leadership and in the congregation are influenced by worldly practices. They are carried away by hundreds of television channels and different websites that tempt them. So many Christians fall into sin because of their computers. If a person can sit in a leadership class or within the congregation and not be convicted by the Holy Spirit, then something is definitely wrong. They are not listening to God.

Billy Graham said there are three things that would take a man or a woman down: money, power and sex. Be accountable, otherwise you are going to fall one day. When Christians fail to listen and hide their sin, then God has to expose them. Everyone will know about it. Understand that you are the one who will stain your name because of your sin. When that happens who is hurt? It is your spouse, your children, other family members and friends.

Carnality and immaturity are responsible for many churches that divide. It affects our churches because they cannot grow, and they close down.

Whatever a man seeks, honours, or exalts more than God,
this is the god of idolatry.
~William Ullathorne~

WEDNESDAY May 16, 2018

Do Not Be Ignorant

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:

1 Corinthians 12:1

Paul the Apostle dealt with carnality, immaturity and the problems with exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Corinthian Church. The reason Paul wrote this letter was because he did not want the saints––believers to be ignorant of the spiritual gifts.

Understand, the word “gift” is not the most literal translation from the Greek. In the original language, it is “spiritual things,” but the word gift is used in other verses. It is important for believers in Christ to understand that there are 21 gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are found in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and in Ephesians 4. The Lord distributes them to us––individually.

What is one of the big problems in the Church today? Christians are ignorant concerning spiritual matters. What is the cause of this problem? Believers in Christ are not growing in the knowledge of the Scriptures to maturity. They are ignorant, not knowing the Word of God.

How many people in the Church have read through the entire Bible at least once? If Christians never read Genesis through to Malachi, then they really are not going to understand the New Testament. They will not see the fulfillment of God’s Word from the Old Testament to the New Testament. The Old Testament verifies everything in the New Testament.

Also, if Christians do not read all the books of the Bible then they will not have a good balance in the Word of God. In fact, that is how people become confused and get deceived into false teaching. Any person not knowing the full counsel of God will begin to teach things that are not true. As Christians, let us be wise in all that God has for us.

Ignorance is your disease; knowledge must be your cure.
~Richard Baxter~

TUESDAY May 15, 2018

Fulfilling the Call of God

I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.”

Psalm 40:8

Paul had great wisdom when he taught; he was an amazing scholar. He also skillfully wrote and organized his Epistles. He trained and discipled Timothy. Paul became a spiritual father to him. Perhaps his own father had died. It was Timothy’s mother and grandmother who taught him the Word of God (2 Timothy 1:5).

Even though Paul had the desire to preach to the Jews, God had another idea for him. God was sending him to the Gentiles, even though He had more expertise to preach to the Jews than Peter! Paul, at the end of his life had many accomplishments. He had completely obeyed and fulfilled the will of God in his life. We can learn so much from Paul; he had the right philosophy in ministry and left us with his legacy in Philippians 3:8:

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

Take time to write down all your accomplishments, everything that you have done professionally and financially. Understand that one day, all those degrees and diplomas are going to burn. People spend years on their careers, and it can become an obsession. The family may suffer if a husband is so focused on his education or work, rather than being the spiritual leader in his home.

Remember, life is not about doing your own will; it is about doing God’s will. He has a purpose and a plan for our lives. If you are open to the Holy Spirit, God will use you to fulfill the call He has for your life. In the end, what really counts is what you have done for Jesus Christ.

Any work done by a follower of Christ to the glory of God is “gold, silver, precious stones.” But if any follower of Christ works with any self-interest or personal ambition involved, it will be “wood, hay and stubble”
and will be burned.
~Billy Graham~

MONDAY May 14, 2018

The God of All Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When Christians give comfort to other people, it is better if they have experienced the same situations as them. If they have experienced the same circumstances, then they will be able to relate to the person they are comforting. You see, how can anyone give comfort to other people when they have not gone through the same thing?

On one occasion, people who meant well tried to comfort a person who lost a loved one but their words were not comforting––it caused them misery. If you have never experienced a death in the family, never had cancer or anything else, then what can you really say? At times, we need to learn to be quiet. It is sometimes better to keep silent and comfort a person going through a tragedy by just being there in their presence––just listening to them.

I have two friends who have both lost a son. I had nothing to say to them, I had never experienced losing a son. But we hung out with each other, and while they just poured out their hearts to me, I listened––that is the way it is. I believe with all my heart we have to be in tune with the Holy Spirit, so that when we speak, we have God’s wisdom, and then we shall not say anything foolish.

Many people experience pain and suffering; they face tremendous trials. God can use us to tell them how He comforted us during our difficult experiences. We need to direct people to the God of all comfort, and not to ourselves. God, as their heavenly Father, will comfort them.

God doesn’t comfort us to make us comfortable,
but to make us comforters.
~Billy Graham~

SUNDAY May 13, 2018

Mother’s Day

…do not forsake the law of your mother;for they will be a graceful ornament on your head,and chains about your neck.…

Proverbs 1:8-9

The Scriptures speak so much about the influence that a mother has on her children. A godly mother instills in her children’s hearts the Scriptures. What important exhortation is given to children in Proverbs 1:8-9? It is the importance of not forgetting what you have been taught by your mother during your childhood and even as you entered your adulthood. Her godly teaching is what adorns your life.

Mothers are women of great influence. It is believed King Solomon’s mother Bathsheba, was the woman in Proverbs 31. She instructed the young king about the dangers of wine and seductive women. Bathsheba taught Solomon not to spend his time drinking and getting drunk or to waste his strength on sensual lusts. As the next monarch of Israel he needed to be a godly example to God’s people––Israel. Bathsheba gave her son very wise counsel.

Lois and Eunice were also women of influence; they passed on their faith to Timothy. His mother and grandmother instilled the Christian faith into his life when he was a child (2 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 3:15). His father was a Greek, and it is thought that perhaps he had died. The Apostle Paul treated him as a son in the faith and continued to build on the foundation his mother and grandmother had given to him. Timothy became a young minister, and the Lord used him to share the Gospel with others.

Honor your mother today and bless her for her godly influence.

The influence of a mother upon the lives of her children cannot be measured. They know and absorb her example of attitudes when it comes to questions of honesty, temperance, kindness, and industry.
~Billy Graham~

SATURDAY May 12, 2018

Concerning Spiritual Gifts

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:

1 Corinthians 12:1

Paul continued to deal with carnality and the lack of spirituality in the Corinthian Church. He taught them about the manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He spoke to them about the necessity of unity among them. Since the Corinthian church had a real problem with division, he emphasized the oneness of the Church; they all needed to be on the same team.

Christians need to be one with Christ and the body of believers in Jesus Christ. I really believe the reason many Christians create disunity is because they want their own way. They are not team players. So many people in the Church think they are like superstars. Yet, we are not. If a baseball player is not joined together with the rest of his team because he is acting like a superstar, then the team will never get to the World Series. It is the same in the Church; nothing can or will get done. The Church will be ineffective in reaching people for the kingdom of God.

I am thankful for Pastor Chuck Smith because he groomed and matured men like myself in God’s Word and in the Christian faith. Then, I and many other pastors could go out and do what God had called us to do. Chuck gave to us many opportunities. He helped give us a good start in the ministry. If it was not for him, where would we all be today?

I think of how many people in a race, at the starting line, get off to a fast start. They run so fast. But how many truly finish the race? Especially when people run in a marathon race. The Christian life is like a race.

I really believe in it is not how you start; it is how you finish the race––that is very important.

A team doesn’t win the championship if its players are
working from different agendas.
~John C. Maxwell~

FRIDAY May 11, 2018

Be Still

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalm 46:10

God will use people who have eternity in their hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11), those who really have their eyes on Him, and who meditate on His Word. At times, they may feel like they are living on the edge and without help, but they know their faith is being tested. They continue to trust in the Lord as they go through all their conflicts and problems. God calls them to be still and to know He is God. When they are still before Him, He can speak clearly to their hearts and cause them to know He is still on the throne.

One of the most important things in life is to be still by having your devotional time every day with the Lord. Why? You will learn to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit speaking to you. He will give you the wisdom you need. Before you open your mouth to speak, you will have heard from the Lord, and you will be able to say something solid to encourage others. We cannot speak to others until we have first heard from the Lord. He is the one who speaks to our hearts as we sit still before Him.

Remember, when we speak to others, it is not to bring glory to ourselves, but to bring glory to Him––Jesus Christ our Master and Savior. He is to be exalted in the earth, not ourselves. When we are still before the Lord, we also need to pray for our world that has so many problems––we know the solution––it is God.

Shut the world out, withdraw from all worldly thoughts and occupations, and shut yourself in alone with God, to pray to him in secret. Let this be your chief object in prayer, to realize the presence
of your heavenly Father.
~Andrew Murray~

THURSDAY May 10, 2018

Stay Awake!

Then He [Jesus] came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Matthew 26:40-41

Jesus taught His disciples and us a very important lesson. When He faced the cross, knowing He soon would be betrayed and arrested, He asked His disciples to watch and pray. Why? So they would be able to face this time of temptation. But the disciples did not pray; they slept, and gave in to the weakness of their flesh. Sleepiness took over, and He found His disciples sleeping. What happened to the disciples as a result? Then they all forsook Him and fled (Matthew 26:56).

When you think about sleepiness, you have to realize, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, this habit can be a very dangerous enemy in your life. It can keep you from the blessings of God. Understand that you are often your worst enemy. I have learned that if you stay up late at night, then you do not get your rest. Then you are not giving your whole heart and body to God. You do not have the capacity to operate. When the enemy comes, you are not watching and praying, so you fail and run. You have no strength to stand against the enemy.

Another danger is that you can become excited and distracted about things you do for yourself––surfing, working on cars, or whatever else it may be. What about the things of God? Do you no longer get excited about serving Him anymore?

We can become so complacent. We get excited about things that are temporal, but we should be more excited for the eternal things and for what God has for us.

A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest;
so shall your poverty come like a prowler,
and your need like an armed man.
~Proverbs 24:33-34~

WEDNESDAY May 9, 2018

Spirituality

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:1

The attitudes and problems of many of the Christians in Corinth were due to their carnality, instead of spirituality. Many of them were not willing to do what God declared in His Word. Yet, God had a purpose and a plan for their lives. God intended to use their lives, but because of their carnality, they were cheating themselves out of His blessings.

Today, spirituality is a minority instead of a majority, especially when you take into consideration people’s devotional lives. If we want to be spiritual people, then we need to spend quality time on our faces before God. We cannot just spend five minutes reading a single devotion. We need to read the Bible systematically and take time to meditate––thinking about what we have just read. The Scriptures need to make sense to us.

I find the best time to be with the Lord is early in the morning. I know some people like the evenings, and others prefer mornings. But it is good to spend time with the Lord in the morning, because when you get up later, you have no time to mediate on what you have read. The day is already going, and there are too many other things to think about.

We need to follow Christ’s example. He went early in the morning to spend time alone with the Father: Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He [Jesus] went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed (Mark 1:35).

The essence of meditation is a period of time set aside to contemplate the Lord, listen to Him, and allow Him to permeate our spirits.
~Charles Stanley~

TUESDAY May 8, 2018

Mind Your Manners

Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.

1 Corinthians 11:33-34

Now that Paul had instructed the Corinthians on how they were to reverently partake of communion together, he made sure the problems concerning their greediness and selfishness were solved. He basically instructed them to be gracious to those who they were eating with. The Corinthians needed to wait for one another to eat––it was polite. They needed to learn good manners.

Once again, notice how Paul spoke of judgment; he warned them and told them he was coming to set other things in order in the church in Corinth. In what Paul had to say to the Corinthians, he never pulled any punches. He talked straight, even though it might hurt; he always told them the truth. Paul knew the truth would set men free.

Usually, people do understand that when we are invited to eat at a restaurant, before anyone begins to eat, they should wait until everyone is seated and also served. Why? It is polite to do so. When I was invited to see the King and Queen of Tonga, before I went before them, I had to learn their customs and know what I needed to do. I could not just presumptuously walk in before the King and Queen and sit down to eat.

In the same manner, we need to learn what the Bible says about the communion service. When we partake of communion, we need to remember who we are worshipping––a King, a Prophet and a Priest––the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one we worship day and night––the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Worship comes before service, and the King
before the King's business.
~John Blanchard~

MONDAY May 7, 2018

Judge for Yourselves

For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

1 Corinthians 11:31-32

Paul used great wisdom in speaking with the Corinthians about partaking of communion in an unworthy manner and the just judgment of God that followed as a result. If only they had taken an honest examination of their lives before the Lord. It was their responsibility to judge themselves before partaking of communion. If they did, then they would not be chastened by God. How did Paul say God chastens His people? He chastens them with these three things––weakness, sickness and death. God does not mess around!

Once a month, on a Sunday, we have communion. It is important to understand that if a person has any guilt that is disturbing their conscience, then they should not partake of communion. Before taking the cup and the bread, they need complete peace in their life. Those people who do not take the time for self-examination, to make sure they are not living a life of sin, will suffer the consequences. God will judge and chasten those of the congregation who partake in communion in an unworthy manner. They can become weak, sick, or they can even die.

The best thing Pastor Chuck Smith taught me was to judge for myself, in any situation, according to whether or not I had peace in my life. Honestly, if you do not have peace in whatever situation you may be, then do not do it! Remember, our actions will influence those around us. Our neighbors are watching us closely, and they see what we are doing, whether good or evil. We should live in a way that does not bring shame to the Lord. Christians need to be good witnesses, because their families, friends and neighbors are watching––bottom line.

What I live by, I impart.
~Augustine~

SUNDAY May 6, 2018

Fear the Lord

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.

1 Corinthians 11:28-30

Paul gave the Corinthians an exhortation and an opportunity to examine their lives in Christ before they partook of communion. He instilled the fear the Lord in their lives, because there were serious consequences to taking communion in an unworthy manner. For this reason, many suffered weakness, sickness and even death!

It is important to learn to fear the Lord. Ananias and Sapphira did not fear the Lord and lied about how much they sold a piece of land for. They only gave a portion of the proceeds as an offering. In their hypocrisy of wanting to look good before men, they had not lied to men, but to God. They both lied to the Holy Spirit and were found guilty (Acts 5:1-4).

When Peter confronted Ananias, God judged him, and he fell down dead (Acts 5:5-6).Then, three hours later, Sapphira was questioned by Peter. At this time, she did not know what had happened to her husband and also lied to the Apostle Peter. He told her: “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately, Sapphira fell down dead (Acts 5:7-10).

During communion, think about how many people do not fear the Lord. Just because they are not dropping dead does not mean God is not judging. Do these kinds of lessons apply today? Yes, they do! God has His ways and His perfect timing. If you are not living right before God, and you partake of the cup and bread, it is very possible, through the Lord’s chastening, that you may become weak or sick or even physically die. It is important to learn to fear the Lord, so we do not willfully sin against Him.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
~Proverbs 9:10~

SATURDAY May 5, 2018

Found to Be Guilty

Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 11:27

Paul spoke to the Christians in Corinth, those who had come to the communion table, but they were living a sinful life. As Christians, if they partook of the cup and the bread while being guilty of sin, they would be chastened by the Lord. This was the very reason why many Corinthian Christians had become weak, sick or even died.

Think of all the people in Church that partake of communion when they should not––but do it anyway––even with a warning. No one should partake of communion, knowing that they are in sin––that is not right before God. The Scriptures are very clear; they would be found guilty.

Christians need to approach the Lord’s Supper reverently. As believers, we have to know our limits. We have our freedoms in Christ, yes, but we do not have the freedom to sin. Paul tells us IN Romans 6:1-2: What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Maybe the reason people’s lives are in a mess is because they are found to be guilty.

A believer in Christ cannot take communion just to prove to other people they are living a righteous life, when they know they are in sin. That is not right, you become a hypocrite. I am warning Christians––it is a big deal. If you do partake of communion while in sin, you are only looking for God to judge you! Until your heart is right, you should not take communion. Before we partake of communion, we have the opportunity to examine our lives before the Lord. During that time, ask yourself, “Should I take communion, yes or no?”

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead
me in the way everlasting.
~Psalm 139:23-24~

FRIDAY May 4, 2018

An Important Ordinance

In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

1 Corinthians 11:25-26

Paul brought serious attention to the communion service because the Corinthians had moved away from the truth of God to do their own thing. They had set up their own rules. The Corinthians did not know theology or fully about their Savior Jesus Christ; because they should have known this memorial.

Did they not understand that communion is an important ordinance? Paul was having a very difficult time with the Corinthian Church, especially with those who held to their traditions, and those who were going down at night into the city and compromising with the prostitutes. The Corinthian believers were to learn to partake of communion in a reverent manner in remembrance of Jesus Christ––Himself. They become not only one with the Lord, but one with each other.

Think of how many people after partaking of communion go back to drinking and partying. They have no fear of God. The Church is chosen by the Lord. He desires to see purity and holiness in the lives of His people. But we have homosexuality, lesbianism and sexual impurity in the Church. Yet, Christ is trying to work in the middle of all this sin.

Like Paul, I must not only teach you the importance of communion, but make you accountable for the Lord’s Supper. For one day you and I will have to give an account of our lives to God.

Don’t ever let the Lord’s Supper become something ordinary or boring it tells us about the greatest event in human history: Jesus death for us.
~Billy Graham~

THURSDAY May 3, 2018

True Order of Communion

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

1 Corinthians 11:23-24

The Lord’s Supper is one of the one of the greatest institutions that Christ has given to the Church. Paul was very concerned in the way the Corinthians were partaking in communion, because the believers were not taking the communion seriously. Therefore Paul brought in the true order of communion; he went over exactly the way it happened when the Lord Jesus instituted it. They were to mimic what Christ did.

The first memorial of communion was actually established in the Old Testament, in Exodus 12, when the first Passover was instituted. The Passover is a type of the communion service. God spoke to Moses and called His people to leave Egypt. Before they left Egypt they had the first Passover, or communion service. The children of Israel were to kill a lamb and with the lamb’s blood make a sign of the cross on their doorposts (Exodus 12:21-23). The children of Israel were told to keep the Passover as an everlasting ordinance. They were also commanded to eat unleavened bread (Exodus 12: 14-15), and to tell their children why God establish the Passover (Exodus 12:24-27).

The Passover continued on the 14th of Nissan, around March or April, until Christ came at the same time to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Christ died on the cross and through the shed blood of Jesus Christ we have our deliverance. Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb: For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). Christ gave to us a new memorial bringing it into the New Testament times.

In approaching the table of our Lord, we dare not forget the cost to our elder Brother, the Man who was from heaven. He is our Savior;
He is our Passover!
~A.W. Tozer~

WEDNESDAY May 2, 2018

Behavior Not Fitting of Praise

What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.

1 Corinthians 11:22

Understand Paul was speaking to Christians. He saw how the Corinthians behaved selfishly in their love feasts. When they partook of communion they were supposed to be serious about the Lord, it was a sacred time! They did not have their eyes on the Lord; or on anyone else’s needs but mostly on themselves. It was the attitude of me, myself and I. Paul was angry. He was not going to praise their bad behavior, it was not praiseworthy.

The wealthy Corinthian believers were putting to shame the poor as they were putting up their noses while they ate and drank. They never shared! Paul really rebuked and exhorted them for their selfishness in connection with the Lord’s Supper as if to say, “I cannot tell you anything good because everything you do is for yourselves.” Paul was really upset––it was not right. They would eat, drink and get drunk when taking communion. He basically told them to go to their own homes if they wanted to be selfish––but not to behave this way in the Church!

I remember in the hippie days when we would go to a home and have communion together. We would pass the cup, and everybody drank from the same cup––everybody––gems or no germs. We did not complain or hesitate, we just drank from it. We partook of the same bread, as it was passed around and we all broke a piece from it. There was a common oneness among us.

Nowhere is God so near to man as in Jesus Christ; and nowhere is Christ so familiarly represented to us, as in this holy sacrament.
~Richard Baxter~

TUESDAY May 1, 2018

Selfishness

Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.

1 Corinthians 11:21

Paul previously spoke about unity, and interestingly he opens this next verse with being in one place––unity! Then he continued on to give the Corinthians a second rebuke. He would exhort the Corinthian believers about their selfishness in their agape feasts meaning “love feasts.”

Remember the Corinthians had potlucks and everyone was supposed to share the common food with everyone one else. Yet, not every person was being treated the same. When the believers came together they would not share. So where was the unity? What about the common oneness in communion among them and the love? There was no love! So, Paul strongly rebuked them.

Selfishness was something that the Corinthian church had to face. When it came to partaking of the Lord’s Supper––every one of them who served themselves first, were not thinking of their brother or sister in Christ.

Have you ever watched people at potlucks or parties? Honestly, you can really get to know who the greedy people are; usually they are the ones first to get in line for the food in front of others. They are not thinking of other people but themselves.

I often wonder where is the unity and the love in the Church today?

If I really love God my innate and persistent selfishness will have received its death-blow.
~Alexander Smellie~

MONDAY April 30, 2018

For Better or Worse

Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.

1 Corinthians 11:17-20

Paul first spoke to the Corinthians about their disunity. He rebuked them about the divisions in the Church. It was a clear mark of their carnality and not spirituality. If there was no unity among them, then there was disunity. Paul was not a divider; he was a unifier!

At first everyone ate and fellowshipped together, but over a period of time, as the Corinthian church began to grow, different cliques formed. The rich would only sit, eat and hear the Word of God with other rich people at the agape––love feasts. They would only bring food and drink for themselves, and neglect the poor. The rich became greedy and were guilty of hypocrisy.

Instead of becoming one with each other, these groups eventually became separated. The rich became selfish and it even came to the point where people came to get drunk. They were not listening to the Word of God. How could they become one in unity when they were living a life of impurity? The Lord’s Supper was a holy time whereby they became one with Christ and one with each other as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Whenever there is division and not unity in a Church, then God cannot not move the way He wants to move. In fact, when there is a person who is not in unity, you cannot get anything accomplished. Those who are not in unity will question and argue with you about everything. However, when you are flowing with the Holy Spirit, you are in unity with the people around you in ministry, and there is a mutual trust in each other.

The division of Christians is the sin of fratricide.
~J. A. Motyer~

MONDAY April 30, 2018

For Better or Worse

Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.

1 Corinthians 11:17-20

Paul first spoke to the Corinthians about their disunity. He rebuked them about the divisions in the Church. It was a clear mark of their carnality and not spirituality. If there was no unity among them, then there was disunity. Paul was not a divider; he was a unifier!

At first everyone ate and fellowshipped together, but over a period of time, as the Corinthian church began to grow, different cliques formed. The rich would only sit, eat and hear the Word of God with other rich people at the agape––love feasts. They would only bring food and drink for themselves, and neglect the poor. The rich became greedy and were guilty of hypocrisy.

Instead of becoming one with each other, these groups eventually became separated. The rich became selfish and it even came to the point where people came to get drunk. They were not listening to the Word of God. How could they become one in unity when they were living a life of impurity? The Lord’s Supper was a holy time whereby they became one with Christ and one with each other as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Whenever there is division and not unity in a Church, then God cannot not move the way He wants to move. In fact, when there is a person who is not in unity, you cannot get anything accomplished. Those who are not in unity will question and argue with you about everything. However, when you are flowing with the Holy Spirit, you are in unity with the people around you in ministry, and there is a mutual trust in each other.

The division of Christians is the sin of fratricide.
~J. A. Motyer~

SUNDAY April 29, 2018

Do Not Be Contentious

Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.

1 Corinthians 11:13-16

Paul was not making rules and regulations, on whether they were allowed to have long or short hair, it was not the issue. He directed the Corinthians not to be contentious about such customs. Paul was instructing them about the proper order of authority for men and women in the Lord.

During the hippy days everybody had long hair. Hippies had come to church with no shoes, and they dressed really shabby. Yet, here was Chuck Smith––bald. God has a sense of humor! In response, other churches from across the country called Chuck and said, “How can you dare have these hippies come into your church?” But the Lord had called Chuck to minister to them.

As Christians we can get so caught up with traditions, rules and regulations. There is nothing wrong with long hair. I mean, how long is long? It all depends on the styles. I can remember when my son Raul Jr. had his blonde, long hair in high school; it grew all the way down, past his back. It is important to understand that we cannot get critical or legalistic otherwise we cannot go forward with what Christ has called us to do.

Seriously, do not argue with people, just take them to the Scriptures, and if they do not accept it, then that is between them and God, but let us live at peace with one another.

By pride comes nothing but strife,
but with the well-advised is wisdom.
~Proverbs 13:10~

SATURDAY April 28, 2018

Dependency

Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.

1 Corinthians 11:11-12

It is important to understand what Paul was teaching to Christians, the Corinthian believers. Those who were married were not independent of each other. Why? When they came together they became one––not two. Go back to Genesis 2:24: Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. A husband and wife were to cleave to one another, which means in the Hebrew “to adhere, to be glued.” Husband and wife need each other.

Sure husbands and wives are going to have disagreements, problems and situations in their marriage, but they need to seek the Lord. Many men, especially as they get older, can come to a place where they stop caring and they get a bad attitude towards their wives. Sometimes men are coarse and cold. Husbands can shut down and tune out their wives. They just ignore them. Men are also distracted by sports, and fishing and they can become very neglectful to their wives.

If you are a Christian husband you have to care about your relationship with your wife. Women like to be told how much they are loved. If you are ignoring your wife, may the Holy Spirit convict you because that is not the way to handle difficult situations in your marriage. The biblical way is to repent and ask for forgiveness. Then you both can move forward. You do not have to keep bringing up the past because that is what ruins marriages––it is like poison––you cannot do that.

Does Christ do that to you? No! Once Christ has cleansed and washed you, then you can go on with your life. The Bible is very clear. You see, all things are from God––including marriage.

A good marriage is the union of two good forgivers.
~Ruth Bell Graham~

FRIDAY April 27, 2018

Culture Changes

For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

1 Corinthians 11:8-10

What was Paul speaking about in these verses? Once again Paul was speaking about God’s divine order. He was teaching God’s Word to the Christians in the culture of that time. He taught that man had to be the spiritual leader of his home, of his wife and children.

In this culture, if a woman was veiled she was considered to be married.If she was not veiled, then she might be seen as a prostitute. So, if a man saw a veiled woman, he would show her respect––she was married. However, if she was unveiled she might be a prostitute, and then a man would approach her, talk to her and offer her something to be with her.

Think about our culture today, it has changed drastically. People live together and they do not want to get married. God gave the order for singleness and dating. There are instructions in 1 Corinthians 7, telling us exactly what to do. Many people divorce, it can be for any reason. Yet, God has given us the order for marriage and divorce (Matthew 19:1-8).

Paul spoke to Christians about not defrauding one another in marriage. If there are problems in your marriage, you can both agree to separate for awhile, but not to divorce. This is when you can both come to an agreement that you want your marriage to work, so you separate for a time of prayer and fasting (1 Corinthians 7:4-5).

However, when both marriage partners are denying themselves, and one of you begins to get tempted, then you should come back together. Otherwise there is the temptation to commit adultery. If you have come to that place in your marriage, you may want to talk with someone about it––before it is too late.

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times —
always with the same person.
~Mignon McLaughlin

THURSDAY April 26, 2018

God’s Divine Order in Marriage

For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.

1 Corinthians 11:6-7

Notice how Paul, in addressing the issues of head coverings, it brought to mind the value of Genesis 2:18-24. Adam was first created and then Eve. Adam said of the woman:

“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Where did Eve come from? Man. In Hebrew the word Man is “Ish” whereas the Woman is called “Ishah.” God established marriage and created the order––fully and completely. In marriage, as the Man is the head of the woman.

However, in the marriage, there can be situations of abusiveness. The male figure can become very dominating in the home. He can begin to control his wife and children. Everywhere she goes, he goes, and she cannot do anything without her husband. These stressful situations can cause the woman to have a nervous breakdown!

In marriage it is good to have time apart from each other, so each person can grow in Christ. You have to be able to trust each other as husband and wife. You cannot be with your wife or your husband twenty-four-seven, otherwise something is wrong. You have to work out your own marriage. I am not telling you how to handle your marriage, but I know I like my space, and my free time to be alone with the Lord––bottom line.

Woman takes her being from man, man takes
his well-being from woman.
~Thomas Adams~

WEDNESDAY April 25, 2018

The Value of Women

Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.

1 Corinthians 11:4-5

We need to understand that in no way was Paul putting women down. He was actually trying to lift women up because women were highly esteemed by God–– they were not to be treated as trash. In history, women were treated like slaves, there were no equal rights. The Greeks believed they could have a wife to bear their children and a concubine on the side for their pleasure. The Romans treated women as things; as prostitutes they were not respected.

Consider today’s many men and women; they still have some of the mentality of the Greeks. They have affairs outside of marriage––that is called adultery! Other cultures have the same attitude as the Romans. There are cultures in the east, where women walk behind the men. Husbands can tell a woman they are not wanted. They can choose from the other wives they have married. Imagine that! Muslim women are often abused and beaten by their husbands. Their wives have to be fully covered in public, they are completely veiled––it is their culture––that is the way it is! These poor women are suffering!

Paul brought up the subject of head-coverings, because the woman wore veils. It was common in the Corinthian culture. The word covered means “veiled.” Husbands had their wives veiled, so that other men would not lust after her. They should not be unveiled as they would be identified with the 1,000 prostitutes who had their head uncovered or had their heads shaved. Paul warned the Corinthians about these things.

Prayer is not so much submitting our needs to God
but submitting ourselves to him.
~John Blanchard~

TUESDAY April 24, 2018

God’s Order of Submission

But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

1 Corinthians 11:3

First Corinthians 11:3 teaches God’s divine order for men and women in the Church. God made man and woman. Therefore, God has given the order for the Church and the way it has to be maintained. Paul gave the order of submission––simply. Do you see the order? Jesus Christ is the head! He is the main person. We see Christ, man, woman and God is the head of Christ.

Yet, many women have problems with Paul’s teaching. When some women read 1 Corinthians they think Paul was a male chauvinist––he is not––you have to read further into what he wrote; especially

2 Corinthians. Paul also gave to us the divine order for women in ministry. They can teach in Sunday school, and in the mission field, especially if there are no men to teach. However, they cannot take the place of a man as a senior pastor. Why? Paul gave us the reason:

And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression (1Timothy 2:12-14).

Christian men need to be the spiritual leaders of their homes. They must be men of integrity, men who take the authority in their home in love, never in an abusive way (Ephesians 5:25). Understand that if your husband is not a Christian, then you must lead your children spiritually.

Yet, how many women try to control their husbands? Fathers are not respected in the home because of mothers who are trying to take the headship. If a woman wants to be in authority, and they try to manipulate, there is going to be friction in the marriage––like sandpaper! As a result, there will be problems and conflict between each other. Who is going to see it? The children! There must be God’s order in the home.

A home with no head is a disaster, one with two is a monstrosity.
~John Blanchard~

MONDAY April 23, 2018

Remember Me

Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.

1 Corinthians 11:2

Paul was in Corinth for eighteen months. After he left, Paul kept in contact with the believers and asked them to remember him––his integrity and all he had taught them. Paul used the word tradition which means “ordinances.” These should be passed down from one person to another. Paul taught the same concept to a young minister Timothy: And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2).

Those Christians in a position of leadership need to pass on what they have learned to other faithful men. They should not keep what they have been taught to themselves. As they passed on biblical truth to others, then God would continue to use their lives.

However, Paul did not teach legalism. Christians can get so caught up with legalism and forget about the grace of God given to them. Christians become legalistic when they look into a mirror and forget who they really are. They want other people to live up to their standard, instead of God’s standard. Christians cannot do that!

Do you remember when Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their legalism? They were unloving (Matthew 15:2-3). Paul also warned about legalism in Colossians 2:8:

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

You see, the problem is man’s traditions and laws and not the Word of God. When you read the Bible you will see that the heart of God is very different than the heart of man. Paul set things right, he encourages me.

Legalism is always unloving.
~Robert M. Horn~

SUNDAY April 22, 2018

Imitate Christ

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:1

Understand that 1 Corinthians 11:1 better belongs to the previous chapter. Since Paul had some negative things to say to the Corinthian church, he opened 1 Corinthians 11:1 on a positive note. Paul wanted them to know who they were to imitate him and Christ. He gave a strong encouragement to believers to follow him as he followed Christ. We are to copy Christ.

So, Paul gave to the Corinthians an important key in their Christian walk. They needed to become imitators of the one who was leading them and the one they were serving––Jesus Christ. Paul was imitating Christ, the Corinthians could learn from his life. He directed them to pattern their lives after him because he patterned his life after Christ.

Paul had earlier rebuked the Corinthian church for being schemers; they had not been honest in what God had called them to do. Christians were causing division in the church because they were jealous of those who were spiritual, those people who were really doing God’s will.

The temple of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, had one thousand prostitutes that would come down to be among the men. In Corinth there was also a lot of drinking and partying. So, many of Christians in Corinth were compromisers.

Paul will deal with so many matters, but in particular, how they were not really appreciative of what God was doing in the Church. He had to address their unfaithfulness, because they should have been faithful to the teaching of God’s Word.

Are you imitating Christ and following what He has spoken in His Word?

Christ doesn’t imitate the world in an attempt to win the world
Christ stands alone.
~A. W. Tozer

SATURDAY April 21, 2018

Self Examination

Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

1 Corinthians 10:32-33

The Apostle Paul was a man of real integrity. God allowed him to write fourteen letters of the Bible. We need each of them because there is nothing but doctrine in these books. When we read Paul’s Epistles, they will exhort and rebuke us. Paul spoke very directly because he had a real heart for the people of God. In fact the entire Bible should bring us to a place of self-examination.

Paul exhorted the Corinthian believers to a place of self-examination. They should not only be thinking about themselves but others. In the use of their Christian freedoms, they should never give an offense to other people. Why? It could keep them out of the kingdom of God!

We need our conscience checked by the Holy Spirit so that we do not stumble other people by our actions. We need to be motivated by love as we do exactly what God’s Word says. As we take time to examine our hearts, then, God can use our lives to the fullest for the glory of Jesus Christ.

In a time of self examination, King David prayed for God to test his heart. He knew God could reveal his sinful heart:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

When is the last time you asked the Lord to search your heart?

I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind…
~Jeremiah 17:10~

FRIDAY April 20, 2018

Judge Your Liberty

“Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:29-31

As we come to the end of I Corinthians 10, Paul gave the balance of responsibility that the Corinthians had with their liberties in Jesus Christ. He does not let the issues die but clarifies to them about their conscience and the conscience of others. If they went ahead with their liberties without consideration for the conscience of a weaker Christian who was made to stumble, then there was a big problem.

Another issue in the Church was legalism. At no time did Paul ever bind people with rules and regulations. He never denied the freedom of the mature Christian to enjoy his privileges in Jesus Christ. God has given us the Holy Spirit who convicts a person of sin, righteousness and judgment. Christians are called to live by the law of love. We need to judge ourselves before we do something by asking ourselves, “Why am I doing it?”

Paul brought everyone back to the main point in one sentence. It really sums up everything. Whatever they did, whether eating or drinking, was to be done for the glory of God. Then they could have a clear conscience, their actions had pure motives. However, if they went ahead and used their freedoms to make a weaker brother stumble; then shame on them, their actions would result in being in trouble with God.

What about us? Do our actions have pure motives? Will they cause another Christian to stumble? Remember judge your liberty against Paul’s key statement: …whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

My liberty is controlled by my love for my
brothers and sisters.
~Jan Kaleta~

THURSDAY April 19, 2018

For Conscience Sake

If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience sake. But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.”

1 Corinthians 10:27-28

Paul continued to address the problems of Christian liberty and a Christian’s conscience in exercising that liberty. If they were invited to eat at a non-believers home, and they served them meat; then they were to ask no question about it being offered to an idol. Just eat the food that was served before them without any question. Then they would have a clear conscience.

However if another believer told them it was offered to an idol, then for their sakes, because they are weaker in the faith, do not exercise your Christian liberty in front of them.

On one occasion, my son Ryan was invited to go to the movies. As he was sitting watching; his conscience convicted him not to be in there, and he left. He is a leader. What would happen if he had stayed? When the lights came on, people would have seen him there. If they knew Ryan, those people would have been stumbled.

The next time they heard Ryan preach, they would not believe the message––that’s the bottom line. Remember, it is not only about your Christian liberties, or your conscience it is about others, and what they think about you when you have stumbled them!

Conscience is the moral consciousness that an action is or is not in accord with moral judgment.
~John H. Gerstner~

WEDNESDAY April 18, 2018

Without Question

Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.”

1 Corinthians 10:25-26

Paul, through God’s wisdom, solved a big problem in the church of Corinth. What was the problem? Paul told the believers to eat meat from the market and ask no questions about whether it was offered to idols or not. Why? Because then they could eat with a clear conscience. Paul brought in the Scriptures to back up what he was saying. He quoted from Psalm 24:1: The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness…

In Romans 14:6, Paul explains to us further: He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. There is no bondage in Christ, whether a person eats or doesn’t eat it is about their own personal conscience before the Lord.

Once again, Paul addressed the issues of not having to abstain from certain foods. He warned, through the Spirit of God, that in the last days, there would be those, who would depart from the faith. They would teach others to abstain from marriage and certain foods. They had a seared conscience. He corrected their erroneous doctrine by saying:

…God created [every creature] to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:4).

Legalism is self-righteousness. It is the belief that God is satisfied with our attempt to obey a moral code.
~Erwin W. Lutzer~

TUESDAY April 17, 2018

Seeking the Well Being of Others

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.

1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Understand, Christians have freedoms in life, but they should take into account not to do things that will make others stumble. Christians need to be responsible. It is so simple. Yet, they often go back into bondage to things in the world. We all have freedoms but we do not do those things because we do not want to be disqualified.

Christians get disqualified because of their failure to listen to what God has spoken to their hearts. They need to keep check of their liberties. If they cause others to stumble guess what happens? God cannot use their lives; they are cut short of His intended plan for them.

Here is the important key to the issue of our Christian freedoms. Paul tells us, if you really love your brother and people in the Church then do not stumble them. In Philippians 2:4 Paul told believers: Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Paul points us to Christ as our example of selflessness:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:5-6).

Are you more concerned with your own interests and freedoms than the well being of others?

Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion; it is like a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.
~Billy Graham~

MONDAY April 16, 2018

Provoking the Lord to Jealousy

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?

1 Corinthians 10:21-22

The Apostle Paul made a total separation between partaking of the Lord’s Table and partaking of the table of demons. Idolatry is defiling. If they turned back to idolatry they would be enslaved to these gods––it was wrong. This is what was happening in the Corinthian Church, and why God could not use many of their lives––they were not clean vessels.

God uses clean vessels. When God called Isaiah to be his prophet, in a vision, he was in the presence of a holy God. Then Isaiah said:

“Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

Isaiah was very aware of his sinfulness. What did God do? Then one of the Seraphim flew to Isaiah with a live coal from the altar. The angel touched Isaiah’s mouth and he was cleansed. The angel told him: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” God could now use Isaiah as a prophet to speak to His people Israel. He was a clean vessel ready for His master’s use.

God cannot use dirty vessels; He only uses clean vessels––remember that. Think of how many people partake of the Lord’s table in an unworthy way. Paul tells us that the reason people are sick, weak or they have died was because their lives were operated in the flesh, they were not partaking of the Lord’s table in the right way(1 Corinthians 11:27-31).

…be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master,
prepared for every good work.
~1 Timothy 2:21~

SUNDAY April 15, 2018

Fellowship with Demons

Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.

1 Corinthians 10:20

Paul made a clear distinction concerning sacrifices made to demons; they were not made to God. In Corinth, Christians were buying meat at the butcher’s shop that was sacrificed to idols. If they knew it was meat offered to idols, could they eat it? Of course they could! They were not under the Law; but under grace. However, if they invited a Christian who was weaker in the faith to eat with them, and that person found out that the meat was offered to an idol, they could be stumbled.

So, what Paul was saying to the Corinthian Christians was to not eat meat offered to idols for the sake of their weaker brother. Christians, out of love, needed to be far more concerned about their weaker brother’s conscience, rather than exercising their freedoms.

Yet, think about Christians who do exercise their freedoms today. They need to be very careful with their freedoms. Why? They can cause people to stumble.

Paul was also saying that demons were a part of man’s worship. He wanted to make sure they understood that idols were inhabited by demons. In the Old Testament, the children of Israel were guilty of provoking God to jealousy with their idolatry and worship of demons:

They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger. They sacrificed to demons, not to God; to gods they did not know, to new gods, new arrivals that your fathers did not fear (Deuteronomy 32:16-17).

What about us, have we provoked God to jealousy?

If you love anything better than God you are idolaters: if there is anything you would not give up for God it is your idol… and conversion means
a turning from every idol.
~C. H. Spurgeon

SATURDAY April 14, 2018

Living Sacrifices

Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?

1 Corinthians 10:18-19

Paul scripturally directed the Corinthians in the partaking of the communion service, by referencing back to the Old Testament offerings. Leviticus 1 speaks about the burnt offering. What is the burnt offering? In typology, the burnt offering is the consecration of your life to God.

We see an example of this in the New Testament in Romans 12:1-2, where God wants us to be a living sacrifice not a dead sacrifice:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

The grain offering in Leviticus 2 is the sacrifice of thanksgiving or it can represent the dedication and devotion of my life to God. In Leviticus 3, there is the peace offering, which speaks of my right relationship with God––as a friend. Just like Abraham, a man chosen by God to be “the father of nations.” He was called a friend of God (James 2:23).

The sin offering found in Leviticus 4, is for unintentional sin. We all sin, but there is a sin called a transgression. What is the difference? A transgression is a willful sin, a person plans it out, even though they know it is wrong, and then they do it. They transgress against the truth of God. The trespass offering is found in Leviticus 5; it is for willful sin. The Word of God is so clear when you study it––amazing!

No sin which we are capable of committing has ever taken God by surprise for He knew we were just like that.
~ Alan Redpath~

FRIDAY April 13, 2018

Biblical Symbolism of Communion

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.

1 Corinthians 10:16-17

Paul, before he concluded I Corinthians 10, spoke about the communion service. He gave the separation and essentials concerning the communion. Underline in your Bible the clear understanding of what the bread represents: is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

What Paul is teaching us as Christians, is that when we partake of communion, we are not literally eating the flesh of Jesus Christ and drinking His blood, as the Catholic Church teaches. The juice and the bread become a type; they are only a symbol, signifying the blood and body.

Later, in 1 Corinthians 11:27-30, Paul gives warning to the Corinthians about partaking of communion in an unworthy manner:

Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.

Before you partake of communion, examine your heart. Why? Our hearts are deceitful and wicked (Jeremiah 17:9-10). We need to understand that the Lord wants us not to be condemned. He wants us to partake of the communion righteously and freely because of the love and grace of God. However, if you are playing around with sin, in time, the judgment of God will fall on your life.

We believe that Jesus Christ spiritually comes to us and refreshes us, and in that sense we eat His flesh and drink His blood.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

THURSDAY April 12, 2018

Judge for Yourselves

I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say.

1 Corinthians 10:15

Paul was a Pharisee––he knew the Law. In every letter, Paul quoted from the Old Testament to verify what he was saying, and to make sure that the grace of God was not polluted. He quoted from the Old Testament more than anyone else. The Corinthians could judge for themselves that what Paul was saying was true, according to the Scriptures.

God’s Word needs to be taught in the Church, otherwise people will compromise. They need the conviction of God’s Word to take effect in their lives. In Orange County and other places, people go to church, but then they compromise. They go drink and party and go back to church on Sunday. If the Word of God is not taught, then their commitment will be shallow.

The heart of God is being spoken in His Word. It is pure. The Word of God is inspired––written by men who were moved by the Holy Spirit:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

When you take time to read and study through the Bible, the Holy Spirit brings conviction. A Christian should be wise and able to judge for themselves whether what they are doing is right before the Lord. They need to check their motives for what they are doing. Pray and ask God to help you to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, so that you do not walk in the flesh––but in the Spirit.

One compromises here another there and soon enough the so-called Christian and the man of the world look the same.
~A. W. Tozer~

WEDNESDAY April 11, 2018

Flee Idolatry

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

1 Corinthians 10:14

Paul confronted many issues in the Church. He spoke to the Corinthian Christians because he wanted them to make wise judgments in their lives. Paul gave them a serious exhortation––flee idolatry.

Paul’s message fits into our own generation because there are so many people who are caught up with the sin of idolatry. If you do not believe me, check it out. India is a country that has a great Hindu and Muslim population. The Hindus have huge temples that have altars upon which place their sacrifices––water, food, flowers and incense. They also worship the cow and will not kill it, in case it is an ancestor. Buddhist and other idolatrous religions are not accepted by God.

In Exodus 20:3-5, God commanded His people:

“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.”

It is so important to know who we are worshiping. Christians worship God. The word God, speaks of the triune God––God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 46:9 declares: “…for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me.”

Today, get rid of anything that has become an idol in your life. Whatever has taken first place in your life, as a priority, is an idol. Remember, God has to be first––number one.

You don't have to go to heathen lands today to find false gods. America is full of them. Whatever you love more than God is your idol.
~D.L. Moody~

TUESDAY April 10, 2018

Escape Temptation

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

This is an amazing Scripture for Christians because it tells us God will help us to bear temptation. We see an example of this truth in the story of Joseph. His brothers were jealous of him and placed him in a pit. Instead of being killed, he was sold into slavery in Egypt (Genesis 37:12-36).

In the house of Potiphar, Joseph was in charge of everything in the household. Potiphar had a wife who was very beautiful; however, she was a seductress, and tempted Joseph every day to lie with her. Then one day, she made herself ready and grabbed hold of him by his garment. Joseph was young, in the prime of his life, he could have yielded to temptation, but instead, he told Photiphar’s wife he would not sin against God. Joseph escaped from temptation––he left his garment in her hand and ran outside naked! (Genesis 39)

Then what happened to Joseph? He was falsely accused and placed in prison for two years. He could have complained to God, asking, “Why me?” Even in prison, Joseph was faithful, and, in time, God promoted him. In God’s plan for Joseph, he was made second to the Pharaoh, and during the seven years of great famine, he helped his family (Genesis 40-47).

The key to overcoming temptation is this phrase: I cannot sin against God. In any situation, always choose the way of escape. Keep a righteous life. In a season of temptation, you usually know when someone is after you. Take action; avoid them by taking different paths. Remember, you can either give in to someone or run. As God was with Joseph, He will be with you. If you do what is right, God will use your life tremendously.

If evil were not made to appear attractive,
there would be no such thing as temptation.
~Billy Graham~

MONDAY April 9, 2018

Take Heed

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

1 Corinthians 10:12

Paul addressed the sin of pride in the lives of the Corinthians.

What will make a Christian fall? Pride! Proverbs 16:18 warns us: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. When you think you are right all the time, and everyone else is wrong, be careful, because you have a problem with pride. Understand who is

right––it is God. He is always right, and His Word is always right.

There are some Christians who think they have the liberty to go to clubs or parties were there is drinking and dancing. Others, in the privacy of their homes, sit looking at things on their computer that they should not be looking at. Do these people believe they will be able to stand and resist temptation? No, they will fall into temptation.

Seriously, when people allow the world to come into their lives, there is no real holiness. Worldliness will affect their minds and hearts, and the devil will use those things to hook them back into the world. I believe this is why so many people remain in spiritual infancy; they never mature.

It is good to know your weaknesses, so you can stop doing those things that tempt you to sin. The Holy Spirit will speak to your heart, and you will place boundaries in your life. Then you will grow and mature.

In your Christian walk, there can be no excuses for manipulating your circumstances in order to compromise. Be straight out––either you are going to say “Yes” to Christ, or you are going to say “No.” If you truly want God to use your life, then you need to live a holy life. Remember, we cannot see God without holiness.

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness,
without which no one will see the Lord.
~Hebrews 12:14~

SUNDAY April 8, 2018

Written Admonition

Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

1 Corinthians 10:11

Paul told the Corinthians that all these things written in the Old Testament were examples, so they would be admonished by them. Paul saw the Corinthians as his children in the faith; he loved them, and he also admonished them.

As a pastor, you love the body of Christ. There is nothing worse for a pastor than seeing the life of a believer being destroyed by sin. If they fall into sin, they cannot be used in ministry, until they repent. It really breaks your heart because you can see they had so much potential. A Christian who wants to be used by the Lord must be blameless in all their actions. Spiritually speaking, in all that we do and in all that we say, we must have clean hands, lips and feet. In fact, as a Christian, our whole life has to be clean––holy. We are set apart to become a living sacrifice in our service to the Lord:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2).

As a pastor, and a shepherd over the flock of God, I am admonishing you, through the Word of God, to slowly read over 1 Corinthians 10, so that you can see for yourself how sin destroys lives. I do this because I love you and care about what happens to your life.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
~Psalm 51:10~

SATURDAY April 7, 2018

Destroyed Lives

…nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.

1 Corinthians 10:9-10

Notice what Paul said to the Corinthians as he reflected back to the children of Israel in the wilderness. Serpents had come among God’s people, and they began to bite them. Moses was told by the Lord to make a fiery serpent and to place it on a pole. All the people had to do was to look up at the pole with the bronze snake, to be healed. However, many among the people had calloused hearts, and they refused to look up at the pole with the bronze serpent, so they died (Numbers 21:5-19).

Interestingly, in the New Testament, Jesus referred back to this story because it is an illustration or type of the cross. In the same way, Jesus would be lifted up on the Cross, and those who looked to Him for their salvation would be saved:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:14-16).

Now do you clearly see, through this example, how the types and symbols in the Old Testament are found in the New Testament?

In 1 Corinthians 10:9, underline the word tempt. Understand that you and I tempt the Lord by our sinful actions. We test the patience or the avenging power of Christ when we sin and do not obey His Word. Keep short accounts with the Lord by confessing your sin daily. Do not let one sin rule over your life.

One leak will sink a ship; and one sin will destroy a sinner.
~John Bunyan~

FRIDAY April 6, 2018

The Penalty of Sin

Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell…

1 Corinthians 10:8

Paul wrote seventeen verses in 1 Corinthians 10 to warn the Church about misusing their Christian liberty. But why does Paul take the Corinthian church back to the Old Testament? This is where God established His Law, and where the stories deal with the problems of lust––the work of the flesh––not of the Spirit.

It is really important to understand that in the Church, there is too much sin. Our Christian liberty is overrun with sin; it is ruined with carnality. When you try to manipulate your circumstances to find ways to compromise, I believe you do not know how Satan works. Christians will always battle these three things: the world, the flesh and the devil.

Paul explained how to overcome our flesh and walk in victory. As you listen, study and obey God’s Word, the Spirit of God has control of your life. Yet, we continue to battle because our flesh always wants to be on top again––to dominate your life. Yet, Paul is very clear; in Romans 8:13, he warned those who walk after the flesh: For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Always keep the flesh down! If not, it is just a matter of time before you become a casualty. It is important to draw lines in your life so you do not compromise. God will not put up with sin; He is omnipresent and sees everything.

When the Lord comes again, He will come for a spiritual Church. When the rapture takes place, I really believe there are going to be millions left behind because of their carnality in the Church. Like I said, I am just the messenger; I am just warning you.

When He [Christ] returns is not as important as the fact that
we are ready for Him when He does return.
~A.W. Tozer~

THURSDAY April 5, 2018

Be a Watchman

“So you, son of man [Ezekiel]: I [God] have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me.”

Ezekiel 33:7

We need to read Ezekiel 3, 18, and 33. It is about the watchman’s duty––it will convict you. Like Ezekiel the prophet, we are called to be watchmen. The watchman’s responsibility was to stand watch while everyone slept. He watched from the highest tower of the walls that surrounded a city to warn of approaching enemies. When he saw movement, he would blow a ram’s horn––shofar––to awaken the people to get their weapons, and rush to the walls to defend the city.

The LORD said, “…if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul” (Ezekiel 3:19).

In this sinful world, we are all watchmen. We must warn the lost when we see something wrong. We do not have to preach to them, but share with them and allow the Holy Spirit to speak and move in their hearts. We should not keep silent. There is a last day for everyone. We will be held accountable for their blood.

If you call yourself a watchman, and you are trying to warn others, but you fail to warn yourself first, you will have no power. If you are not a vessel of holiness to be used by the Lord to tell people the truth, then God will hold you responsible. You cannot be a watchman and live a life of sin and lies–no possible way. However, when you speak as an instrument of God’s holiness, and the people do not repent, their blood is on their hands.

What kind of watchman are you?

If sinners be damned, at least let them leap
to hell over our bodies.
~C.H. Spurgeon~

THURSDAY April 5, 2018

Be a Watchman

“So you, son of man [Ezekiel]: I [God] have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me.”

Ezekiel 33:7

We need to read Ezekiel 3, 18, and 33. It is about the watchman’s duty––it will convict you. Like Ezekiel the prophet, we are called to be watchmen. The watchman’s responsibility was to stand watch while everyone slept. He watched from the highest tower of the walls that surrounded a city to warn of approaching enemies. When he saw movement, he would blow a ram’s horn––shofar––to awaken the people to get their weapons, and rush to the walls to defend the city.

The LORD said, “…if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul” (Ezekiel 3:19).

In this sinful world, we are all watchmen. We must warn the lost when we see something wrong. We do not have to preach to them, but share with them and allow the Holy Spirit to speak and move in their hearts. We should not keep silent. There is a last day for everyone. We will be held accountable for their blood.

If you call yourself a watchman, and you are trying to warn others, but you fail to warn yourself first, you will have no power. If you are not a vessel of holiness to be used by the Lord to tell people the truth, then God will hold you responsible. You cannot be a watchman and live a life of sin and lies–no possible way. However, when you speak as an instrument of God’s holiness, and the people do not repent, their blood is on their hands.

What kind of watchman are you?

If sinners be damned, at least let them leap
to hell over our bodies.
~C.H. Spurgeon~

WEDNESDAY April 4, 2018

Polluted with Sin

“The people sat down to eat and drink,and rose up to play.”

1 Corinthians 10:7

Paul spoke to the church in Corinth because it had become polluted with sin. He addressed those who loved the world and were carnal. They were continually making excuses for compromising with the world.

Since we have modern technology, it is important to screen what is in our computers. There has to be a balance. We can either use our computers to glorify God and build up our Christian life, or we can make the excuse that we are trying to keep up with the times. However, there is a danger because before you know it, you will infect your heart and mind.

Today’s Church has become polluted; it is sick with sin. Many of Christians attending church are into pornography. Do they not understand that a little leaven––sin––leavens the whole lump? They cannot be in the world and be in Christ; they have to draw a line––either they are in or they are out––bottom line. Christians are not puppets on a string! We all have a free will.

Christians must also be careful of what they watch on the television. Honestly, I remember back in the fifties and sixties watching black and white television, and it was all family oriented––it was pure. Despite the liberalism that came in the seventies, you would not hear any cussing. Today, on regular television we hear cussing and see nudity. Television programs will show just enough so you can imagine the rest of the story in your mind. They leave you with a cliff-hanger. What will happen next?

When you continue to read biblical stories, you need to relate them to your life. We should have no excuses for sin. If you are doing wrong; in the end, you will have to answer to God. I am just the messenger. May the Holy Spirit minister to the Church today!

What you put into your minds, will go into your hearts.
~Raul Ries~

TUESDAY April 3, 2018

Eat, Drink and Play

As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink,and rose up to play.”

1 Corinthians 10:7

Paul referred back to Moses when he was on top of Mount Sinai, and God gave him Ten Commandments on tablets of stone, written with the finger of God (Exodus 31:18). God told Moses to come down from the mountain because the people were guilty of idolatry and corruption. Joshua thought there was war in the camp, but Moses knew it was not; it was singing. Moses saw Aaron with the golden calf he had made, along with God’s people drinking and dancing (Exodus 32:1-6, 17-19).

What did Moses do? He took the Ten Commandments––the Law of God, threw them down and broke them. Then he called Aaron and demanded to know, “What happened?” Aaron blamed the people for making a god––the calf. Who taught them to worship this way? The Egyptians! Israel was already contaminated by the Egyptians among them. They believed they were missing out on the leeks and the garlic in Egypt, but they were dreaming; it was the lust of their flesh.

Moses, in his absence, had left his brother Aaron in charge, and instead of being holy, he compromised with the people. He crafted the golden calf. Moses was so upset he said: “Whoever is on the LORD’s side—come to me!” God judged Israel and sent the Levities with swords; they killed three thousand, and God sent a plague among Israel. He is a God of love, but also a God of judgment; He will not put up with sin (Exodus 32:25-35).

Think about Moses. He was in God’s holy presence, but the people were in the flesh. Often, there is not much difference between us and the children of Israel. Even among the leaders, there is compromise.

If the presence of God is in the Church, the Church will draw the world in. If the presence of God is not in the Church the world
will draw the Church out.
~Charles Finney~

MONDAY April 2, 2018

The Sin of Idolatry

And do not become idolaters as were some of them…

1 Corinthians 10:7

In returning to 1 Corinthians 10, Paul gave a stern warning about idolatry. This is more than having an actual idol; it is the worship of anything that we place first in our lives. Whoever you spend most of your time with, or whatever dominates your life, that has become your god. It could be your motorcycle, your car, your husband, your wife, or even your children. It could be anything.

Understand that we need to have a good balance concerning our priorities in life. When we become unbalanced in our priorities, we can feel condemned. As you place God first and bring back a godly balance to your priorities, then by the grace of God, you can have peace with God. If you place God first in your life, you do not have to worry about anything. Matthew 6:33-34 tells us:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

I like to seek the Lord first thing in the morning. I go to the beach, and as I read my Bible, God speaks to me through His Word. It is so awesome to hear what God wants for my life, and to be prepared the rest of the day. I make sure I am following the Lord, and I am not doing my own thing each day.

God speaks to all of us all the time, but are we really listening? When He is not our first priority, sometimes God will use different situations to get our attention so that we might seek Him.

Seek the LORD while He may be found,
call upon Him while He is near.
~Isaiah 55:6~

SUNDAY April 1, 2018

Easter

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

Matthew 28:5-6

In Matthew 28:5-6, the angel at the tomb of Jesus Christ told the women who had come bringing spices: “…He is not here; for He is risen.” The resurrection is the very reason we celebrate Easter––Christ has risen! Death and the grave could not contain Him. He defeated death when He died on the Cross.

What does this mean for us? All who come to Him and accept Him as Savior will receive eternal life. John 3:16 explains simply: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” What an incredible gift God has given to mankind

Without Christ, people fear death, but death is conquered by Christ. Second Timothy 1:9-10 reveals to us the plan of salvation and what Christ accomplished through His death on the Cross:

…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…

As we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ and God’s free gift of salvation, let us not forget to share the good news of the Gospel with others.

The cross was not a tragic failure;
it was a triumphant rescue.
~G. Campbell Morgan~

SATURDAY March 31, 2018

It Is Finished!

… He [Jesus] said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

John 19:30

When Jesus announced, “It is finished,” what did He mean? At that very moment, the veil in the temple of the Holy of Holies was rent from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). Now we can approach God’s holy throne (Hebrews 4:16). Sinners have gained access to the Father through His Son: For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all… (1Timothy 2:5-6). As we repent of our sins, we can be forgiven (1 John 1:9). The blood of Christ, washes away our sins:

…and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood (Revelation 1:5).

Imagine, Jesus took on flesh and blood and, in the moment of His death, defeated the devil, who had the power of death:

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Can you comprehend how much Christ’s sacrifice has accomplished on your behalf? Christ died a cruel and agonizing death; the goodness of God was poured out in such abundance of grace for the work of our salvation. Amazing! Amazing!

In the cross, sin is cursed and cancelled. In the cross, grace is victorious and available.
~G. Campbell Morgan~

FRIDAY March 30, 2018

It Is Finished!

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

John 19:30

All of the Gospels tell us of the crucifixion and death of Christ, but I really love what the Apostle John wrote. I think he really understood who Christ was and what He was sent to accomplish in His life. In the midst of all that was happening, John’s Gospel records Jesus’ final words just before He gave up His spirit and died “It is finished!”

What was finished? Jesus had done what the Father had called Him to do. He came to earth, gave the message of hope and salvation to the people, and then gave His life to save the souls of sinners—men and women like you and me––who were heading towards hell.

It is important to understand, before Christ’s death on the cross everyone who died went into hell. No one went to heaven. All the prophets and godly men and women in the Old Testament were in Abraham’s Bosom—a compartment in hell. They were not tormented, but they were not in heaven (Luke 16).

When Christ died on the Cross, it was the beginning of the end for death. Isaiah the prophet wrote about Jesus when he said: He will swallow up death forever… (Isaiah 25:8). Hosea 13:14 says: “I [God] will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death…” Jesus on the cross said, “It is finished,” because He had done what God had promised in the Old Testament. He had gone to the Cross to defeat death and the grave.

In the Cross, sin is cursed and cancelled. In the Cross, grace is victorious and available.
~G. Campbell Morgan~

THURSDAY March 29, 2018

Submitted to God

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

John 18:37

Jesus stood before Pilate in judgment. In Pilate’s mind, he was in control. He would decide the fate of Jesus. However, Pilate was not the one in control; he was merely an instrument of God. He was being used by the Father to accomplish His plan for the salvation of the world, through His Son Jesus Christ.

Notice, when Jesus was asked by Pilate whether the accusations against Him were true, He spoke the truth. He did not try to hide the truth. He did not try to defend Himself or explain the situation. He revealed God’s plan and purpose for His birth into this world. He gave a proclamation of the truth to Pilate. Jesus was indeed a King, but not just any king. I Timothy 6:13,15, tells us who He is:

…Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate… He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords…

Revelations 1:5 tells us: …Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood…

Jesus stood in front of Pilate, ready to fulfill God’s plan. He would prove how much He loved us by giving His life on the cross for our sins. Think about that! His very own blood was to be shed so that we could be washed of our sin.

The distinctive feature of Christianity is blood atonement. Without it we cannot be saved. Blood is actually a symbol of the death of Christ.
~Billy Graham~

WEDNESDAY March 28, 2018

Broken Hearted

Then He [Jesus] came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

Mark 14:41-42

After Jesus prayed and submitted His will to the will of the Father, He went back to the sleeping disciples to get them up. It was time; everything He had been telling them would happen. His time was at hand. There would be one more earthly journey for Christ––it would be to the cross, but after His death, there would be an incredible event––the resurrection!

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus knew Judas would betray Him, but it must have broken His heart. This man was chosen to be a part of Jesus’ Twelve Disciples; he walked with the Lord for three and a half years. Yet, as one of His closest friends, he chose to betray Him.

As we read about the betrayal and arrest of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, our attention focuses on the character of Judas Iscariot. We cannot imagine how he could have so willingly betrayed Him to the religious leaders. It is beyond us. But John 12:4-6 reveals to us his true character when Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus’ feet:

But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.

Even though Judas was a thief and betrayed Him, Jesus was broken- hearted for His friend—for his lost soul. Does your heart break for lost souls?

If the soul be lost, the man is lost.
~John Flavel~

TUESDAY March 27, 2018

Forsaken for a Moment

Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.” … And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You.Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless,not what I will, but what You will.”

Mark 14:34, 36

As Christ was getting closer to the Cross, the duality of His nature became more evident. We see the intimate nature of His relationship with the Father, as He went before Him in prayer, but we also see His very real humanity, as He sought another way—something besides the Cross—something besides the suffering. That was the very human side of His nature.

When I read Mark 14:34, 36, it grieves my spirit, because I cannot imagine the depths of Jesus’ despair as He faced the cross; He was sorrowful unto death! Can you imagine His emotional strain as He was praying to the Father asking if there was another way?

Jesus, through all His grief and sorrow, submitted to His Father’s will. He would do whatever the Father asked of Him. He set His face as flint and went to the cross for the salvation of men, but in doing so, He would be forsaken by God for a moment. Jesus cried out: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Jesus had placed upon Himself the iniquities of us all, and God could not look upon sin.

When we are going through trials, many times we pray and ask the Lord to take us out of our situations. We ask Him to deliver us from sorrow, grief, pain and temptation, but we forget He is with us through these things. He never forsakes us. If we submit to God’s will, He will sustain us. Through our lives’ greatest trials, He will be with us.

He [Jesus] was forsaken by God for a moment in order that you would not have to be forsaken by God eternally.
~Chuck Smith~

MONDAY March 26, 2018

The Power of God

Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?”

Mark 12:24

Yesterday was Palm Sunday and the beginning of the Passion Week—the last week of Christ’s life on earth before He was crucified, buried and resurrected. It was an incredible week as Jesus taught the Scriptures while knowing what waited for Him on Friday––His crucifixion.

During this last week, the religious leaders tested Him constantly. They tried to find a way to seize Him without making the people angry, as, at this time, He was in favor with the people, and many followed Him. The religious leaders wanted to turn the people’s hearts against Jesus.

In Mark 12:24, Jesus answered a question given to Him by some Sadducees. These religious leaders tested Him, because they did not believe in the resurrection. They asked about a woman who had been married seven times, because each time her husband had died, as was the custom, she married the next brother. The Sadducees asked Jesus whose wife she would be in the resurrection.

Jesus’ response to the Sadducees’ question was stunning; they were the religious leaders of the day, but they knew nothing of God’s power or the Scriptures! Jesus gave a serious accusation against them. It was their responsibility to know the Scriptures, and, in knowing them, they should have been aware of the power of God.

Do you know the Scriptures and the power of God proclaimed in them?

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts
and intents of the heart.
~Hebrews 4:12 KJV~

SUNDAY March 25, 2018

Palm Sunday

Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’Hosanna in the highest!”

Matthew 21:9

Beginning with Palm Sunday, we enter Passion Week––the period of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, His betrayal, crucifixion and resurrection. During this time, Jesus went go from the people’s hero to the people’s enemy. But no matter what the people called Him, He would always be known as the Savior of the world.

It was on Palm Sunday that Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The people waving palm leaves lined the streets and cried out, “Hosanna, Hosanna”—“Save now, save now.” However, they were not looking for a Savior for the forgiveness of their sins. They wanted a conquering hero––someone who would rid them of their oppressors.

When the people saw Him entering the city, they cried out in utter desperation and in great excitement at the same time. God’s people thought the time of Roman occupation was at an end. Surely, Jesus would expel the Romans and free them.

Yet, as the last week of Jesus’ life played out, God’s people became disappointed in the King the Lord had sent to be their Savior. The excitement of Palm Sunday diminished for the people during the week leading up to the cross, and many who had cried out “Hosanna,” would reject Him and cry out, “Crucify Him,” instead.

What are you crying out to Jesus today? It should be the cry for your salvation––Hosanna––save now!

It is not your hold of Christ that saves, but His hold of you.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

SATURDAY March 24, 2018

A Ransom for Many

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.”

Matthew 20:18-19

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. Almost 2000 years ago, this was the day when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem to shouts of, “Hosanna, Hosanna,” from the people. They were crying out to the Savior, “Save now, save now.” Before the entrance into the city, Jesus had taken the disciples aside, on the way to Jerusalem, and told them He would be betrayed, sentenced to death and crucified.

Even though Jesus had told His disciples of His fate, the mother of James and John, who were known as the “Sons of Thunder,” came and asked Jesus if her two sons could sit at His right and left hand sides in His kingdom (Matthew 20:21). Jesus addressed these two disciples and asked if they thought they could endure His suffering. They believed they were able!

If only James, and John and their mother really understood what Jesus was about to go through on the cross, I do not think they would requested these heavenly positions. Jesus faced the cross, but these two disciples were more concerned about themselves. Jesus used the opportunity to teach all His disciples about servanthood.

As Christians, we can be more concerned with our position in the Church, than what God called us to do––serve the people. Jesus was to be their example. He told them: just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

Are you serving God’s people, or are you more concerned about position?

He who came in humility and shame will return in spectacular magnificence.
~John R. W. Stott~

FRIDAY March 23, 2018

Make Godly Decisions

Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.

1 Corinthians 10:6

Notice, Paul is not just bringing up the past; he is explaining about Israel’s past history, so the Corinthians would know what happens when they chose to live in the flesh. Circle the words “our examples” and the word “we.” This also applies to us––you and me!

This is why you need to be careful of worldly friends; they can cause you to compromise. Have you ever had non-believers encourage you to compromise by saying, “You can ask God to forgive you afterwards?” Seriously, if they can get you to compromise in one area of your life, then you will continue to compromise in other areas of your life.

Christians who are continually trying to keep up with their friends in the world and later ask God to forgive them, need to know they are not really repenting. Seriously, that is not true repentance. They are abusing the grace of God. If they are you still doing the things they have repented for, then they had better read a biblical dictionary to see what repentance means. Biblically, we need “to turn from evil, and to turn to the good.”

Christians know the truth, and they need to understand that “to much is given, much more is required.” God has given all of us a free will to make decisions whether right or wrong. I encourage you to make godly decisions, especially when faced with the temptations of the flesh. What kind of decisions are you making in your life right now?

God has a plan and the devil has a plan, and you will have to decide which plan you are going to fit into.
~Billy Graham~

THURSDAY March 22, 2018

Power of the Holy Spirit

…I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

Joel 2:28-29

The Old Testament is important, and it needs to be studied reverently. There are so many mysteries written that I never saw until I read a book on symbols and types, and they were pointed out to me by studying with Pastor Chuck Smith. Christians really have to know what typology and symbols are in the Bible. We should never over-spiritualize God’s Word, or the Scriptures will become distorted. Always let the Word of God speak directly to you by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We need the power of the Holy Spirit to baptize us so we can have discernment, the word of wisdom, and the word of knowledge. We are living in days where we need God’s supernatural power like never before. If we do not have discernment, then leaven––sin––will get into the Church, and we shall get infected. God will never accomplish His work that He wanted to do through each one of us individually. He does not operate through dirty vessels, but clean vessels (2 Timothy 2:21).

God hates sin. He does not put up with it. If you do not have holiness and the fear of God in your life, you really have no power. The power of the Holy Spirit is supernatural––not natural. Remember that! Every single day the Holy Spirit leads and guides us, He helps us not to walk in the flesh, but to operate in the Spirit. There are too many natural men––those who are walking after the flesh in the Church.

I want to make a difference by doing the things of God. In the remainder of my life, I want God to speak through me as much as He can. I want to please God. Open your heart to God and He will give you the power of the Holy Spirit so you can do His work.

I do not want to be like other men, I want the Holy Spirit to use my life.
~Raul Ries~

WEDNESDAY March 21, 2018

Murmuring and Complaining

…all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

1 Corinthians 10:3-5

In the wilderness, the people began murmuring and complaining. Why did God’s people start murmuring and complaining? It was the mixed multitude that had come out of Egypt with Israel; they had influenced God’s people (Exodus 12:37-38; Numbers 11:4-6). The mixed multitude messed up the camp; they walked in carnality––in the flesh––always murmuring and complaining. Yet, Christ was the Rock, the One they could depend on.

Many of the Hebrews had not learned their lessons in bondage as slaves in Egypt. They would not enter the Promised Land in freedom; instead they walked in the flesh––in carnality––for forty years in the wilderness; that was most of their lives. They were the ones who died in the wilderness. Imagine, those who were parents were supposed to teach their children about the Lord––they failed.

Paul knew that the cause of the problems in the Corinthian church was the same as the mixed multitude, in the Old Testament. The wilderness symbolically is a type of walking in the flesh. The Corinthians lacked godliness–––they were walking in carnality––in the desires of their flesh. They were abusing the grace of God.

Be careful! The mixed multitudes in the Church, in your home, or wherever you may be, will always bring unbelief to your hearts. Why? They are always murmuring and complaining; they are never satisfied. They will always cause problems in your life because they want you to walk in the flesh and not the spirit––bottom line.

The reason I love the Old Testament is because it has taught me so much over the last forty years––the stories are amazing!

Know the lessons in the Bible, and live by those lessons.
~Raul Ries~

TUESDAY March 20, 2018

Walk in the Spirit

How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:2-4

Paul taught the believers in Corinth such important lessons. He explained to them the symbols and types learned through studying the lives of the children of Israel as they journeyed through the wilderness, across the River Jordan, and into the Promised Land. When they knew the symbols and types in the Bible, there would be no excuses for their sin and failure. Then they could now comprehend what needed to be applied to their Christian lives.

The children of Israel had to cross the muddy Jordan River, which relates to Romans 5-7, reckoning the old man to be dead. In the Bible, baptism does not save you. It is symbolic of the old life that had dominated you being rendered inoperative, and coming up out of the water in newness of life (Romans 6:1-4). It speaks of your relationship with God.

The Promised Land is not heaven; it is walking by the Holy Spirit’s power, because in the Promised Land you have giants to face. In this life, we will have enemies, problems and tribulations, but it is only by walking in the Spirit, that we can conquer them. Our flesh is going to try to come back and rule over you until the day you die, but we enter into victory in our Christian walk in Romans 8, walking by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We should walk in obedience and have purity of mind and heart. Then, through Jesus Christ, we shall have victory––not defeat.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. ~Romans 8:1~

MONDAY March 19, 2018

Grow in Understanding

…all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

1 Corinthians 10:1-2

Paul gave to the Corinthians historical facts from the Bible so they could learn. He passed on his heart and intellect as he shared from the Scriptures. Paul gave to them pictures and types so they would be taught not to make the same mistakes as the children of Israel. By using the illustrations and stories from the Old Testament, and brining them into the New Testament, he also showed what happened to a believer when they came to Christ.

In Egypt, God had a purpose for Joseph; he brought his father Jacob, his brothers and their families to Egypt during a famine. Later, when a new Pharaoh arose, the Egyptians became threatened by God’s people who had greatly multiplied. They decided to make of slaves the Hebrews. In learning types and pictures, understand that Pharaoh is a type of Satan, and Egypt is a type of the world in which we live.

What are we supposed to be while living in the world? We are to be light and salt! When we are in the world, we are going to be persecuted and hated by the world. Remember, Satan hates you! Who is Moses a type of? He is a type of Christ––a deliverer.

It is important for Christians today to understand what Paul was teaching to the Corinthians. He verified the types and pictures found in the Old Testament and then established them in the New Testament, so we can know how they apply to our Christian walk. Paul gave to us the understanding about the children of Israel in Egypt, the Red Sea, the wilderness, the Jordan River and the Promised Land.

Have you grown in your understanding of the types and pictures in the Bible? How will you apply this knowledge to your Christian walk today?

…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
~2 Peter 3:18~

SUNDAY March 18, 2018

Spiritual Ignorance

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud…

1 Corinthians 10:1

As we return back to 1 Corinthians 10, I want us to understand that Paul’s audience was the Church––not non-believers. He exhorted them about their Christian liberties, and how their liberty should never be exercised in front of someone else’s weaknesses. Paul did not want the Corinthians to be unaware of the Scriptures, a translation of a Greek word which means “ignorant.” He did not want them to be ignorant about God’s Word and continue to live their lives in compromise and carnality.

Paul wisely decided to take the Corinthians back to the beginning of Israel’s history when they came out of Egypt, moved through the wilderness, and came through the Red Sea. As the children of Israel traveled, God placed a protective covering––a cloud which continually went with them. God’s guidance, protection and presence went with them.

Christians need to study the historical facts in the Bible. They need to know the stories so they will not be unaware or “ignorant,” concerning the Scriptures. God’s Word not only warns us against offending God and sinning against Him, but teaches us of His character, and how He guides our lives and protects us. Many Christians who do not listen and learn from the stories in the Bible lack understanding of the Scriptures. They learn the hard way as they reap consequences. Do you not think it is better to read your Bible, learn and be wise?

I am praying for the Church, pastors, those in the congregation and for people in the world. God’s Word burns in my heart. I see the corruption, more than ever before, and the need for God’s Word to be preached.

“Did not our [Disciples] heart burn within us while He [Christ] talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”
~Luke 24:32~

SATURDAY March 17, 2018

St. Patrick’s Day

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

Matthew 28:19

Patrick was born into a Christian family in England, but had no interest in the church. As a youth, he was captured by slave traders and taken to Ireland. It was a place filled with magicians and pagan practices, the people were in spiritual darkness. He believed God was chastening him because he was among those who had turned away from God. So, he would pray night and day to the Lord. In Ireland, through trials and suffering, Patrick came to know Christ personally.

Finally, Patrick escaped and found a ship that carried him back home. He began to study for ministry when, in a vision, God called him to return to Ireland to preach to the people who had enslaved him. He traveled across the Irish countryside bringing the Gospel to the hostile, pagan Celts. Patrick wrote a poem of faith and trust in God, which he named the Breast Plate:

Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Patrick brought the light of Christ into the spiritual darkness of Ireland.

In obedience to God’s call to go to Ireland, he was able to plant 300 churches, and 120,000 Irishmen were saved and baptized into the Christian faith. By faithfully preaching the Gospel, he laid a good foundation for Christianity. His ministry lasted 29 years. As the “Apostle of Ireland,” he lit such a fire there.

Hence I cannot be silent, and indeed I ought not to be, about the many blessings and the great grace which the Lord has deigned
to bestow upon me.
~Saint Patrick~

FRIDAY March 16, 2018

Turning Away From Truth

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

2 Timothy 4:3-4

As we move forward into the 21st century, we must be careful of the Emerging Church. This movement has denied the inerrancy of the Scriptures. It isare no longer teaching the truth. The Emerging Church may look appealing, but their influence will move you away from the cross. I believe that the Emerging Church will be the cause of a great apostasy––a falling away from the truth of God.

Another problem of living in this century is that many believers in Christ have no real conviction. They are not convicted by the movies they go to, the music, or the magazines they read. Understand, if those things are worldly, they do not uphold Christian values––they are infecting their minds. Christians really need to discern and be careful what they watch, listen to and read.

A greater danger that has captivated the minds and hearts of many people is the internet. Some people may say they look at the internet for information or to keep up with the times. But seriously, I just want to warn you as your Pastor, the internet has a way of attracting you to immoral sites––it will grab your heart. Honestly, you do not want to keep infecting your mind by going to these shameful websites. If you do not listen to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, your heart will become calloused. Then the Holy Spirit will be hindered from effectively working in your life.

Be careful with your Christian liberties. Keeping up with the times will make you carnal. You do not have to keep up with anybody––keep up with the Holy Spirit!

Because truth is unpopular it does not mean
that it should not be proclaimed.
~Billy Graham~

THURSDAY March 15, 2018

Worship God

Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!Tremble before Him, all the earth.

Psalm 96:9

Worship is very important in the life of a Christian. But a lot of the worship music that we listen to today is not scriptural. Many worship leaders have taken out the cross, the blood of Christ, His atonement and His redemption, from many of the lyrics in our music. If you listen to worship music, it may have a cool rhythm, but you have to carefully listen to the lyrics––is it about Christ?

When I go back to the old praise albums from the Maranatha singers, I notice how much inspiration there is in the lyrics of those songs. One night I could not sleep, so I listened to the worship music all night long. It was like being in the Holy of Holies. Another album called “Beautiful Worship” blew me away––it is incredible; as I listened, once again I was brought into the presence of God.

Understand that a time of worship before the Lord prepares your heart to receive from the teaching of God’s Word. Worship in the lives of those called to ministry will help them to accomplish the work they are called to do for the Lord. King Jehoshaphat sought the Lord with the people of Judah. Recorded for us in 2 Chronicles 20:21-22, they went into battle against their enemies singing:

…he [Jehoshaphat] appointed those who should sing to the LORD, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: “Praise the LORD, for His mercy endures forever.” Now when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come out against Judah; and they were defeated.

In times of spiritual battle––worship!

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
~Psalm 95:6~

WEDNESDAY March 14, 2018

Powerful Conviction

Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.

1 Corinthians 10:6

Paul readily quoted the Scriptures because he knew them so well. We can tell he was a good student of God’s Word from the way he had written. Paul was an excellent, powerful Bible teacher because he was in tune with the Holy Spirit. He really had an intimate relationship with God.

Pastor Chuck Smith was like Paul. He could quote the stories from the Bible because he had a photographic memory. It is incredible how he thought! When Chuck taught, he hardly looked down at his notes. You see, his mother taught him the Bible from birth! The Word of God became such a major part of Chuck’s life that he never got into drugs or alcohol. Chuck went to one movie, and the whole time he was there, he felt so convicted because he thought the Lord was coming back.

I believe that 1 Corinthians 10 should be taught carefully, and not in just one sitting. In fact, if you did not have the whole Bible and you only had this one chapter to read, you would be powerfully convicted by what is written. You would come to know that Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords!

It is important to understand, what is missing in the lives of many people is the failure to really listen to the Holy Spirit and what He wants to share with them, as they study the Scriptures. We cannot just skim over the chapters and passages of the Bible. We must wait and listen for His still small voice. At times, we will be encouraged and comforted. On other occasions, we will be exhorted or convicted when we read the Scriptures.

What has the Church gained if it is popular but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?
~A.W. Tozer~

TUESDAY March 13, 2018

God’s Servant

Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished.

Deuteronomy 34:7

Moses had gone up to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which was across from Jericho. He was not allowed to go into the Promised Land, but the Lord showed him the land from the mount. Moses, being 120 years old, died there and was buried by the Lord:

So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day (Deuteronomy 34:5-6).

Imagine, Moses is the only person that God buried. The Bible gives more insight into his death; Satan came and fought for the body of Moses. Why he wanted the body of Moses we do not know. Perhaps he wanted to take his body and possess it, so he could deceive the people of Israel?

Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 9)

Yet, behind the scenes, God was already molding and shaping the next leader of His people. Joshua was chosen to be the next leader. He was not looking for a position; the Lord chose him to take the children of Israel across the Jordan River and to fight the battles in the Promised Land.

You have to study the entire Bible because there are so many lessons to be learned. Then, when people come to you with their questions about the Bible, they will want facts. When you know the Word of God, you can tell them the facts––with facts comes faith!

Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

MONDAY March 12, 2018

Do Not Misrepresent God

…all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

1 Corinthians 10:3-5

Paul was reflecting back on everything in Israel’s history in the Old Testament. Paul knew all the stories and used his knowledge to give a clear account of what took place in the New Testament Scriptures. This was a great benefit to the Church in Corinth.

At this particular time in the wilderness of Zin, the children of Israel were thirsty again. In Numbers 20:3-1, they contended with Moses and said:

“If only we had died when our brethren died before the LORD! Why have you brought up the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here?”

Moses went to the Lord with the children of Israel’s quarrel. God directed him to speak to the rock. This became a test for the leader––Moses. In anger, he hit the rock once, and then twice, and then the water came out abundantly. God asked Moses, “Why did you misrepresent me to the people as an angry God, when I was never angry with the people?”

Sadly, as a result of misrepresenting God, Moses was unable to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:12). However, even though he was not allowed to cross over the Jordan River, God would allow Moses to see the Promised Land from a distance (Deuteronomy 34:1-4).

There can be many areas in our lives in which we have misrepresented God to the people around us. How have you misrepresented God?

Be careful, dear friends, that you do not misrepresent God yourselves. You who murmur; you who say that God deals hardly [barely] with you, you give God an ill character… and so you stain the honor of God.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

SUNDAY March 11, 2018

Disobedience

“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God.”

Deuteronomy 28:1-2

When you study the Old Testament, it is really important to pay attention and observe the characters in the Bible, especially those in the history of the nation of Israel. God had chosen them as His people. As we study, we find out what God had told them to do, and, in the end, why they were found to be in a condition of isolation and completely hated by the other nations of the world. God wanted to bless his people, but he could not. Why? The whole situation boils down to one word––disobedience.

It is really important to learn from Israel’s mistakes and to understand what happens when you are disobedient to God. This is why the stories from the Old Testament have been brought into the New Testament––so we can be taught to avoid the consequences of disobedience.

Just like the children of Israel, when we are disobedient, God cannot speak to us or bless us until He sees our hearts turn back to Him. As we repent and turn from our sin, our relationship with God is restored. Then He can begin to rebuild those areas in our lives that have been torn down by our enemy––Satan.

Christians have spiritual battles every single day. Satan and his demons hate us; they are our main enemies. These adversaries know our weaknesses, and when we do not have our spiritual armor on, they try to tempt us to disobey God’s Word. They also will attempt to deceive and depress us, so that we do not read and pray. If they succeed, then we will not be able to perform our duties as a Christian. When we are not full of the Holy Spirit, we are not able to engage the enemy and win.

When the Holy Spirit is in full control of our lives, He will expect our obedience to the written Word of God.
~A. W. Tozer~

SATURDAY March 10, 2018

Moses, a Man Called by God

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush.

Exodus 3:1-2

The Apostle Paul took the Corinthians back to the Old Testament Scriptures to learn from Israel’s history. He told them the story of Moses, a man called by God to lead His people out of bondage in Egypt and into the Promised Land. Moses lived in the land of Egypt for 40 years, and, somehow during that time, he became aware that his brethren were Hebrew.

Then one day, he saw a Hebrew slave being mistreated, and he killed the Egyptian. But the next day, the murder was found out. Moses immediately fled; Pharaoh sought to kill him (Exodus 2:11-15). Yet, God had a plan for Moses’ life. Incredibly, it was not until Moses was 80 that God was able to use his life.

Moses went from being in a palace, to becoming a shepherd in the wilderness, taking care of dumb sheep. Moses had learned to be a somebody in Egypt for the first 40 years of his life, and in the next 40 years, he had learned to become a nobody. The Lord molded and shaped Moses’ life in the wilderness. As a shepherd, he would learn to be a loving and kind leader to God’s people. When God’s people went into Egypt, there were only 72 people; by the time they left, they had multiplied to some 3,000,000.

One day God spoke to Moses from out of a burning bush. Moses became God’s servant––to do exactly what God called him to do. Perhaps you are in a place where you are just about to be promoted, but God has something else for you. How long will it take you to align yourself with God’s perfect will? What will God use to motivate you to move?

Whenever God means to make a man great
He always breaks Him in pieces first.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

FRIDAY March 9, 2018

Symbolism in the Bible

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware [ignorant] that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea...

1 Corinthians 10:1-2

The Apostle Paul used the Old Testament Scriptures to give believers in the Corinthian church a clear illustration of Israel. He did not want them to be ignorant about the Scriptures. They needed to heed the warnings in God’s Word, and so he shared with them about God’s people. He told of Israel’s great exodus from Egypt and their journey, by the way of the wilderness, to the Red Sea. God had guided them by a pillar of cloud by day and gave them light by a fire by night (Exodus 13:17-22).

God miraculously opened up the Red Sea, and the children of Israel passed through on dry ground (Exodus 14:21-22). Later, Israel would cross over the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. This was a time when they had many enemies surrounding them.

Paul taught the Corinthians how Scripture from the Old Testament was referred to in the New Testament. This also clarified for them that it was the same God in the Old Testament, who was in the New Testament. Israel was the same nation then as they were in the days of Paul––nothing had changed.

When you read your Bible, know that there is a lot of symbolism in the Scriptures. Egypt is a type of the world; the wilderness is a type of the child of God walking in the flesh; they wander as they do not have the Spirit of God governing over their life. The Jordan River is the baptism of the believer. The Promised Land is not heaven, as in heaven there are no battles. In Canaan, the Promised Land there will still be enemies to defeat.

When you come to Christ, you will need to read both the Old Testament and the New Testament to understand the Word of God.

In the Old Testament we get the facts; in the New Testament we find the explanation of the facts.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

THURSDAY March 8, 2018

A Disciplined Life

Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:26-27

Paul had one goal––to win! Nothing was going to stop him from serving the Lord. He disciplined his life and gave to the Corinthians the illustration of fighting like a boxer. Do you know what, not as one who beats air means? He is not fighting as a shadow boxer. Paul was not just pretending; in the spiritual warfare, he kept his body under submission.

Paul, by saying, I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, used a term in the Greek language that literally meant, “to give himself black eyes” all day long. Paul was saying that––I beat myself black and blue to keep my flesh down. He concluded that he brought his body into subjection because he did not want to be disqualified––no possible way.

How many pastors, elders and sheep––those people in the

congregation––were on fire for the Gospel when they were first saved? They witnessed to so many people and then, later you hear that they have grown cold––slipped away from their faith and became backslidden; they are no longer walking with Christ. Then what happens? People get stumbled because they are watching people’s lives; it is the nature of man to watch other people.

There are so many who begin the Christian race, but where are they now? Some are disqualified from running the race because they have fallen into sin. They have never finished the race. It would be good for them to lay aside the sin that has ensnared them, and by God’s grace, get back up again. If that is you, get back up and finish your race!

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
~Hebrews 12:1~

WEDNESDAY March 7, 2018

Imperishable Crown

And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.

1 Corinthians 9:25

The Apostle Paul explained to the Corinthians that, when a person was competing for a prize, they should view them as if they were in a wrestling match. Wrestling is very strenuous on your body. When someone is wrestling, they have learned how to take down their opponent and pin them to the ground to win. The word temperate means “to make a lot of sacrifice.” This happens especially when it comes to training. Someone who competes in a wrestling match must watch their diet and train very hard to make the team.

Paul made another good point as he gave an eternal perspective to Christians. An athlete will spend a lot of time and effort training and competing for a temporal prize, but a Christian must live a disciplined life for the reward of an imperishable crown! The Bible tells us of other crowns that can be given as a reward in heaven. First Thessalonians 2:19 speaks about the crown of rejoicing: For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? In James 1:12 is mentioned the crown of life: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

Also, in 2 Timothy 4:8, we find the crown of righteousness: ...there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. As Christians, if we are to compete in a spiritual race, then we need to lead a disciplined life of sacrifice and holiness. In the end, the Lord will be the One to hand out the crowns.

There are no crown-bearers in heaven that were not
cross-bearers here below.
~C.H. Spurgeon~

TUESDAY March 6, 2018

Run to Win the Prize

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

1 Corinthians 9:24

Paul must have liked to watch sports because he used the illustration of a race. He gave to the Corinthians a picture of an athlete competing for a prize, to show them how they needed to be disciplined in their walk with Christ. Paul knew that it took training and discipline to run a race. An athlete who wanted to compete in a race had to discipline his time and watch what he ate. He kept a close track of how he was competing, and how well he was training.

This is true of athletes in the Olympic Games; they are looking to win a gold medal. They are not going for the silver or bronze––they want the gold! Athletes know the harder they work, the better chance they have to win. Seriously, if an athlete is going to compete in the Olympics, he does not stay up with his friends drinking and hanging out until twelve o’clock in the evenings! No way! He would never make it in a race.

It is the same with any sport: martial arts, baseball, football, soccer or basketball––all these different sports take a lot of training and discipline. Do you think a coach will choose a person to be on the team who is not disciplined? No possible way! He will want to choose winners!

Imagine, an athlete can have all the medals they have won in their life hanging on the wall, but really what value do they have? Christians should place all their medals in heaven, because one day that is where they will be, and that is where it counts.

It has been a wonderful experience to compete in the Olympic Games and to bring home a gold medal. But since I have been a young lad, I have had my eyes on a different prize. You see, each one of us is in a greater race than any I have run in Paris, and this race ends when God gives out the medals.
~Eric Liddell~

MONDAY March 5, 2018

Become All Things to All Men

…to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

1 Corinthians 9:22-23

Paul, through his ministry, hoped to be used by God as an influence in saving people from eternal separation from God. Notice how beautiful this Scripture is because it shows how Paul was willing to become all things to all men to win souls. He also wanted to make sure that the Corinthians understood that they were all working together in harmony with the same goal––to save souls. Paul and the Corinthian believers did not have separate identities; they were to be a united, working together as a team!

Paul proclaimed that a Christian has been called by God and placed in the body of Christ to accomplish a specific task successfully. He can work through them; He gives to them His anointing––the power of the Holy Spirit.

Understand that, even though some people will never be able to go as a missionary to South America, Africa or China, they can still support missionaries. They can become an important part of missionary work as a supporter. Believe it or not, when they get to heaven, they will be rewarded for their support! Even though they never went on the mission field, they have been a supporter of missions from right where they sat in church.

Have you ever thought about your involvement in missions? Pray and ask the Lord what it is He wants you to do? It might be that you are called to go into the mission field, or you may be called to support a specific missionary.

A congregation that is not deeply and earnestly involved in the worldwide proclamation of the gospel does not understand the nature of salvation.
~Ted Engstrom~

SUNDAY March 4, 2018

Winning Souls

…to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law…

1 Corinthians 9:21

Paul not only ministered to his Jewish brethren, but he also preached the Gospel to the Gentiles. He reached out to them with the law of Christ, not the Mosaic Law. Paul had surrendered his life to God, so he could be used by Him, as a tool, to help influence both Jews and Gentiles alike to come to Christ––I like Paul.

I believe with all my heart that it is very important to share our faith in Jesus Christ with others. We do not have to force the Gospel upon anyone, but when the Lord opens the door, we need to have the boldness to share the Gospel.

The Bible encourages soul winning. In Daniel 12:3, we are told: Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. In James 5:20, we read: Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. Proverbs 11:30 tells us: The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.

Jesus gave His disciples a command: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… (Matthew 28:19). As a disciple of Jesus Christ, when was the last time you reached out to witness to someone? God desires to use our lives to influence others towards heaven. Are you actively engaged in winning souls?

…look Christ in the face — whose mercy you have professed to obey — and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world.
~William Booth~

SATURDAY March 3, 2018

Servant to All

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law…

1 Corinthians 9:19-20

Paul did not fleece or charge anyone for the Gospel. He had no obligation to any man; he preached the Gospel freely, out of love for God. He had given himself completely to Christ and to the ministry of the Gospel. He lived a life of self-denial––he emptied himself––in service to the Lord

Paul, in his ministry, reached out to the Judaizers, which means in Greek, “to live according to Jewish customs.” The Judaizers were Christians who had decided to adopt Jewish customs and practices, namely the Law of Moses. Paul, while in Antioch, rebuked the Apostle Peter because of his hypocrisy. He had moved away from the truth of the Gospel and began to return to the Law when God, through Jesus Christ, had given him grace:

I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?” (Galatians 2:11-14)

Paul also tried to reach the Pharisees with the Gospel; they were a Jewish sect that acted superior to others. They observed strict Jewish traditions and the written Law of Moses. They were also guilty of being hypocrites. As a servant of all, Paul preached the Gospel to them anyway. As a servant of God, will you preach the truth of the Gospel to anyone?

Oh God, if you want me to serve you I will. I’ll be what you want me to be. I’ll go where you want me to go.
~Billy Graham~

FRIDAY March 2, 2018

Entrusted with a Stewardship

For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.

1 Corinthians 9:17-18

Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand that he preached the Gospel willingly; it was a call of God; he was not forced. He understood that, if he preached the Gospel willingly, then the Lord would be the One to reward him. Paul understood that there was to be no charge for the Gospel––it was free! He knew he was ultimately accountable to God for what He had called him to do.

Think about all the TV evangelists who always ask for money and abuse their authority. They really need to read 1 Corinthians 9. There are well- known speakers and also well-known music groups who charge large amounts of money––we do not use them. However, we do give an invited guest-speaker or musicians an offering, as they have needs; but for them to set a price for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that is wrong. We should never charge for the Gospel. We are not celebrities; God has called us to be servants.

As a pastor, a steward, which means “a house manager,” I have to be wise with everything God has entrusted to me. This means the church carpet, chairs and everything else that is purchased for the church. I make the best decisions possible with the money people entrust to the church. I never abuse it, because it is given for the kingdom of God, which is our number one priority.

Each one of us has been called to be a steward of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One day, we will be judged for our stewardship, and, if faithful, we will receive rewards.

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards
of the mysteries of God.
~1 Corinthians 4:1~

THURSDAY March 1, 2018

God’s Providence in Purim

“Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”

Esther 4:16

Jewish people across the world celebrate a holiday known as Purim. It is held on the 14th and 15th days of Adar, the twelfth month of the Jewish calendar, which usually happens at or around the same time as March.

Esther, out of all the women in Shushan was chosen to be the next queen of King Ahasuerus, an ancient King of Persia (Esther 1-2). At this time, the King’s adviser, Haman, was angered by Mordecai, Esther’s cousin and adopted father, who would not bow before him. Seeking revenge, filled with jealousy and hatred, he persuaded the King to kill all the Jews in the empire (Esther 3:3-6). Haman intended to wipe out the Jewish population of about 2,500 people.

Mordecai called on Queen Esther; he wanted her to use her influence to stop the deadly plan. Esther asked that her people fast, and then she would courageously go before the king. If she went before the king unannounced, it was certain death; however, if he held out his scepter, she would be saved (Esther 4).

Esther was granted audience before the king (Esther 5), and in the end, Haman was hanged on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordecai (Esther 7). By God’s providence, Esther was in the Persian kingdom for such a time as this, and the Jewish people were saved. The people were glad and rejoiced, as the feast of Purim was celebrated (Esther 9).

Do you recognize the providence of God in your own life? By God’s providence, you have been placed in this period of history, at the right time and at the right place, for His purposes to be accomplished.

God's providence is like the Hebrew Bible; we must begin at the end and read backward in order to understand it.
~A. J. Gordon~

WEDNESDAY February 28, 2018

Passion to Preach the Gospel!

For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!

1 Corinthians 9:16

Paul had an unmovable, central passion in his life ...Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! He was compelled to preach the Gospel; it was the main thing driving him! Paul was called by God to preach the Gospel––Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected.

When you have God’s call on your life, you will have the same passion to preach the Gospel. You will not be so concerned about yourself, but your deepest concern will be for the lost multitudes of people in the world who do not know Christ as their Savior. That must be your driving force as you serve the Lord––year after year. When you look at the thousands and millions of people who are lost, you realize the Gospel is not about the church building, money or anything else. It is about the people, everywhere you go, who need the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jude, the brother of James and in all probability the step-brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55-56), wrote to believers to have compassion on people and to help save those who are perishing:

And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh (Jude 22-23).

Have you lost your passion for people to be saved? Ask the Lord to reignite a passion in your heart to preach the Gospel as your serve Him.

Some men's passion is for gold. Some men's passion is for art. Some men's passion is for fame. My passion is for souls.
~William Booth~

TUESDAY February 27, 2018

Financial Blamelessness

Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.

1 Corinthians 9:14-15

Notice how Paul declared to the Corinthians that those who preached the Gospel should live by the Gospel. Yet, he chose to never receive or use any of those means. Paul wanted to remain blameless; he never sent out any letters for support––he would rather die than to see a valid accusation stand against him.

Churches that receive financial support from God’s people must remain blameless. Churches must have a Board of accountability for their financial business. In fact, the Church Board should be the ones responsible to set the pastor’s salary. Any pastor responsible for overseeing a church will need to have godly people on his Board to give him godly advice and wisdom.

We have auditors come every year to Calvary Chapel Golden Springs, to verify that everything is done correctly. Anyone who tithes at our church can look at their tithing records for accuracy. We are blown away by the Lord’s provision. He is moving us ahead, as we continue to be faithful stewards. We are able to continue to use the offerings to support the operation of our church and spread the Gospel.

Sadly, there are churches that have abused their offerings. When they get caught, they are in big trouble. This is why it is so important to have a Board of accountability to make sure churches are blameless and to avoid them going bankrupt. Everything financial needs to be taken care of legally. Otherwise people will be hurt––big time.

We must make every effort to be above all suspicion in the matters of finances and statistics. We are not only accountable to God’s people,
but also to our Master.
~Billy Graham~

MONDAY February 26, 2018

Unused Entitlement

Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?

1 Corinthians 9:12-13

Paul, once again, told the Corinthians that, even though he and Barnabas (1 Corinthians 9:6) had a right to receive support, they would not take any money from anybody. As they preached the Gospel, they understood that they needed to trust in the Lord for His provision.

Paul also brought to the Corinthians’ attention the Old Testament Scriptures, and how the priests in the temple were provided for by God’s people. As the people brought their animals into the temple to be a burnt offering, the priests were given a portion for their provision, as they served the Lord. If the Corinthians understood how God provided for the priests in the Old Testament, then they could come to understand the same concept for supporting ministers in the New Testament.

As we serve the Lord, God will provide for each and every one of us. However, with all He provides, we must be faithful with those things entrusted to us. In our Christian life and ministry, the Bible teaches us an important concept, if you are faithful in the little things; God will give to you bigger things.

Can God trust you with the things He has given to you? What about your finances, are you managing them well? Are you over-using your credit cards? Think about your future. Are you saving or spending? Be wise and careful with your money. Learn to put God first (Matthew 6:33) and to live within your means. If you do what God says in His Word about money, God can bless you.

A budget is telling your money where to go instead
of wondering where it went.
~John Maxwell~

SUNDAY February 25, 2018

God Never Fails

Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?

1 Corinthians 9:10-12

Paul talked straight to the Corinthian believers. Those in ministry should be supported by the people; that way they can do God’s work. Paul brought to their minds the other Apostles who had received such support. Yet, even though Paul was entitled to the same right as they were, he never used his right to take monetary support from anybody. Paul knew God would never fail him.

Paul lived his life by faith and according to the Scriptures. In his lifetime, he made three main missionary journeys. He had traveled all over Asia Minor and Europe. During that time, he never asked for anything. As a missionary, he went by faith as the Lord led him, and he trusted that God would provide for him.

Interestingly, George Muller was like-minded. He cared for over 10,024 orphans during his lifetime. He prayed for the necessary provisions for them and never asked directly for money. George never took a salary in the last 68 years of his ministry, but trusted God to put in people’s hearts to send him what he needed. He never took out a loan or went into debt.

I think the reason many people do not have provision is because they have unbelief. Really, truly, they are trusting in other people instead of God. People will always fail you, but God will never fail you.

God is not looking for great men of faith. He is looking for common men to trust His great faithfulness.
~Hudson Taylor~

SATURDAY February 24, 2018

Support for Ministers

Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about?

1 Corinthians 9:8-9

What did Paul do to confirm all that he had spoken previously about receiving support for the work of the Gospel? He used the Scriptures to confirm and verify to the Corinthians that he had not spoken on his own authority. In 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul quoted from Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7:

Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

Paul helped the Corinthians to understand, scripturally, the correct concept of supporting a person called to be a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If a minister is faithfully laboring for the Lord––spiritually–– and the church can afford it, should they not support him? Of course!

However, I believe with all my heart that a pastor should not take a salary until he makes make sure the people are well taken care of, and also the financial needs of the building. Chuck Smith was a good example to those in ministry. He worked for seventeen years in a regular job, while working in the ministry full-time. He firmly believed, “Where God guides; God provides.” Chuck learned the blessings of being in ministry because he saw and knew personally how tremendously God had provided.

God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s provision.
~Hudson Taylor~

FRIDAY February 23, 2018

Provide Necessary Provisions

Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?

1 Corinthians 9:6-7

Paul brought up another great point to the Corinthians. Was it not right for Barnabas and himself to receive support like other ministers of the Gospel? If somebody wanted to support them, was it all right? Of course! They had the right to accept support, but they did not take from anyone, even though they could, because the Lord was providing for them.

Paul, to help the Corinthians understand, gave them an example of a person going to war; his expenses would be totally covered. What is the first thing the government does when a person enlists to go to war? Everything is given to them for free: the helmet, flack-gear, boots, pants and even their underwear! They are not charged for anything. The government also gives them a salary––of course––they are going to war!

Notice how Paul brings up other different practical examples to show how someone in ministry can be supported. Just as a vinedresser plants a vineyard and eats freely of its fruit, or how a shepherd is able to drink milk from his flock, so those who are really and truly called into ministry should be supported. The Church has the responsibility to support the minister so he can do the work of the ministry without asking for anything; his needs are met.

For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
~1 Timothy 5:18~

THURSDAY February 22, 2018

Defense Against Accusations

My defense to those who examine me is this: Do we have no right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

1 Corinthians 9:3-5

Paul had received a letter from someone in the church accusing him of taking money from people, but he was blameless. Paul challenged the letter and brought up the fact that he had worked with his own hands for his provision. The Lord was the one who provided for his needs. He also defended his right to financial support; if it was given and not asked for, it was perfectly fine to accept a love offering for support. Yet, Paul did not take financial support from anybody. I love Paul and the way he worked.

Paul had never ripped off or cheated anyone. He had not fleeced the flock of God. He never asked anything from anybody and never talked about his needs. Paul was not guilty; he gave of himself and was blameless. Paul also made the point that, if he or those with him were free in Jesus Christ, could they not have a wife, like Peter and the other Apostles? So when they traveled they were not alone?

The subject of financial support brings up an important issue. Christians should not bring attention to their financial needs in public prayer or by simply asking for support. None of the Apostles did that. Nobody really needs to know about our lack of finances. The Lord is the one who must supply our needs. When God provides, you know it. Chuck Smith taught us, “Where God guides, He provides.” How we need to learn this lesson!

If you are always talking about your needs to someone, you will become known as a person who is not being sincere. Guard your conversations and be blameless. Our provision has to come from the Lord. Do not take money from people. Years later, they may come back and accuse you.

Christians should be springs, not sponges.
~John Blanchard~

WEDNESDAY February 21, 2018

A Christ Centered-Life

Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 9:1-2

Paul began 1 Corinthians 9 by asking four great questions that needed to be answered. He presented to the Corinthians his apostleship; he was called to be a servant. God had sent him out as an apostle. Paul and the other Apostles were examples of spiritual leadership––their servanthood was evident. It was characterized by the genuine concern for other people and not for themselves. The Apostles had a personal love relationship with Christ and fulfilled His Word, even to the point of being persecuted, prosecuted, beaten and killed.

Another requirement to be an apostle was having seen the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul saw the Lord on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). Paul had taught the Corinthians the Gospel. As he spent time with them, they had come to know the Lord. Paul saw the believers in Corinth as his family; he served them and they became a sign––evidence of his apostleship.

Paul, from his own experiences, understood his liberties––freedoms in Christ; they were based on the law of love. Paul knew how easy it was for others to be offended and stumbled. We all have liberties––freedoms, but because of love, we should not cause another person to stumble. Our behavior should never bring disputes among believers in Christ; neither should our liberties be misused. We should never injure another Christian.

True Christian liberty has to be exercised properly, because it either builds a person up spiritually, or it will tear them down. Therefore, the key to Christian liberty is love for my brothers and sisters. We do not want to see them stumbled. I hope we are convicted by God’s Word––especially those serving in ministry––as we all need a Christ-centered life.

Go, labour on; spend and be spent—thy joy to do the Father's will; it is the way the Master went; should not the servant tread it still?
~Horatius Bonar~

TUESDAY February 20, 2018

Wounding Weak Christians

But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

1 Corinthians 8:12-13

Paul made it very clear to the Corinthian believers that, if they caused a weaker brother in Christ to stumble, they were actually sinning against Christ! It would be better to eat a plate of vegetables than to go ahead and use their liberty to eat the meat offered to idols and make a weaker brother stumble. So, those who had liberty should be more sensitive towards those who did not have the liberty to eat meat offered to idols.

Christians in the Church today really need to walk in integrity and live by the power of the Holy Spirit. Each person needs to know what they can and cannot do in Christ. They need to know their weakness. Remember, there are other Christians who are not as strong in the faith, so we must be sensitive to them. The Bible is very clear; out of love, we should not want a brother or sister in Christ to be stumbled by our liberty. We should never want to see them walk away from their faith in Christ.

How many people have left the Church because they were stumbled by another brother or sister in Christ? What if that Christian never came back to church? Think about that! What about your neighbors? As they watch your life, have they been stumbled?

May God change our hearts and lives by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that we do not cause anyone to stumble.

Conscience is the detective that watches the direction of our steps and decries every conscious transgression
~Billy Graham~

MONDAY February 19, 2018

Presidents’ Day

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

I Timothy 2:1-2

Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. It was originally established in 1885, in recognition of President George Washington. In fact, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government, even though February 22 is Washington’s actual date of birth.

The holiday became known as Presidents’ Day after it became a part of the 1968 Monday Holiday Law, to provide more three-day weekends. This Act was signed into law on June 28, 1968, and took effect on January 1, 1971. Congress hoped to "bring substantial benefits to both the spiritual and economic life of the Nation."

While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, Presidents’ Day is viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents, past and present. President Trump is in office and we, as Christians, have an obligation to pray for him. It is important to act upon God’s Word and intercede for our great country’s leaders in the White House. Why? Because of the important decisions President Trump and his Cabinet will need to make.

On June 6, 1944, on D-Day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called upon Americans to support the nation through their fervent prayers. A part of the President’s speech said:

I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer––As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips.

Never be prayer less––never cease to pray for our country’s leaders.

Prayer is not the least we can do; it is the most.
~John Blanchard~

SUNDAY February 18, 2018

Have Integrity in Your Heart

For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

1 Corinthians 8:10-11

1 Corinthians 8 is a chapter that speaks about integrity. Paul stepped up to the plate and made a clear distinction; the Corinthian Christians should be different; they needed to be people of integrity. When it came to their liberties, they should consider who they might stumble when eating meat offered to idols. In fact, their influence would condemn a weaker Christian because he would not have the same liberty.

For example, in the Old Testament, what was the vow of the Nazarite? A Nazarite was a person who would not cut their hair or drink wine. They were called to be separated to God; they acted differently from other people. They had a life of integrity. Samson, from birth, was called to be a Nazarite (Judges 13:5). However, Samson lacked integrity in his life; he compromised in so many areas. Finally, the harlot Delilah made such a fool out of him (Judges 16).

Christians are called to be separated to God. Yet, so many Christians compromise, especially when it comes to drinking. If you go back and study wine in the Old Testament, they drank grape juice. When it became fermented, it would turn into real wine. The Bible teaches: Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise (Proverbs 20:1). I take the Bible literally––alcohol will cause you to act and look a fool. People who see you will be stumbled. You will lose your integrity and hinder them from following Christ.

Character in the life of the Christian is very important. Integrity is not just a word; it is the quality of being honest and having strong moral and ethical principles. Are you known as a Christian with integrity?

I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.
~1 Chronicles 29:17 NIV~

SATURDAY February 17, 2018

Consider the Weak

But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.

1 Corinthians 8:9

Paul continued to instruct Christians not to use their liberty in Christ to become a stumbling block to weaker Christians. They needed to consider the weaker brother or sister because they had a duty to be sensitive to them. In Corinth, there were Christians whose conscience did not let them eat meat offered to idols. Yet, if they witnessed another brother eating meat offered to idols, they would become stumbled by their liberty. Who would be at fault in that situation? It would be the Christian who had the liberty, but was not listening to the Holy Spirit.

As Christians, we have to be sensitive to our weaker brothers and sisters in Christ. They may not have the same freedoms. It would be good to consider what Galatians 5:13 tells us: For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Our actions need to be motivated by love.

1 Peter 2:16-17 explains that, even though we are free in Christ, our liberty should not be used for wickedness: …as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God… We should never use our freedoms in Christ to gratify our flesh or for evil intentions. We need to be considerate of weaker believers. Our behavior can cause them to stumble.

Christians need to walk in holiness; our lives should be blameless. We must be men and women of integrity. Then, God will use us to be a good influence to people. They will see our godliness and begin to trust us.

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
~1 Corinthians 6:12~

FRIDAY February 16, 2018

Be Conscious of Stumbling Others

However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.

1 Corinthians 8:7-8

Paul once again addressed the issue of meat offered to idols. He made it very clear to the Corinthian Christians that they were not under bondage to anything. The believers were no longer under the Law. God was on their side; they were under grace. Paul spoke to Christians that were committed and dedicated to one God. They had singleness of heart and singleness of mind. These believers were free to eat the meat, having a clear conscience before the Lord.

Paul instructed Christians that were free to eat meat offered to idols, to be conscious about the weaker brother at the table who would be stumbled. Even though they had certain freedoms, out of pure love, they should lay aside their freedoms and not eat the meat. It was more important not to cause them to stumble. Honestly, it is all about one word––love.

As Christians, we have to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. There are weaker Christians who could be stumbled by the things we do, especially our children, because they learn by example. We need to be blameless in our lives before them. If our children are stumbled, then whose fault is it? It is our fault because we did not listen to the Holy Spirit.

Many a professing Christian is a stumbling-block because his worship is divided. On Sunday he worships God; on weekdays God has little or no place in his thoughts.
~D. L. Moody~

THURSDAY February 15, 2018

Worship No Other Gods

“You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God….”

Exodus 20:3-5

Among the population in Corinth, there were many people who were worshiping idols. The Corinthian Christians needed to come apart from them and be separated to the Lord.

When a person worships an idol, they may be unaware that they are in fact worshiping demons. In Deuteronomy 32:16-17, Israel’s sin of idolatry provoked God. It was the same as worshipping demons:

“They [Israel] provoked Him [God] to jealousy with foreign gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger. They sacrificed to demons, not to God, to gods they did not know, to new gods, new arrivals that your fathers did not fear.”

Most people understand that Satan and his demons like to possess animals. They cannot possess Christians, but they love to try and play with their minds. They can harass and depress them. Many Christians are unaware that they may have allowed Satan and his demons to get a foothold into their homes. They are at a loss, trying to understand why their home is in constant turmoil.

Often times there is a problem with leaven––sin in the home. If you want your house to be at peace, you must get rid of all the leaven––sin. Do you have beer or wine in the refrigerator? Are there any drugs in your home? Understand, those things will open a door to demonic activity. Satan is not stupid; he knows when there is an open door to oppress, depress and harass you! Shut the door on Satan; never let him back in.

The devil's war is better than the devil's peace. Suspect dumb holiness. When the dog is kept out of doors
he howls to be let in again.
~Samuel Rutherford~

WEDNESDAY February 14, 2018

Valentine’s Day

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

John 15:13

On Valentine’s Day, most people think about romantic love. They want to show how much they love a person by giving to them flowers, heart-shaped candies, and by taking them out for a candlelight dinner. Valentine’s Day is a good time to show those who are close to you just how much you really love and care for them.

Do you know where this famous, romantic holiday came from? Saint Valentine was a priest in Rome who helped those who were persecuted by Claudius II. Valentine was tried for his crime against Rome and refused to renounce his faith in the Lord. He was cruelly beaten with clubs and beheaded on February 14.

Valentine gave no regard for his own life; instead, he showed Christ-like love to those who were being brutally persecuted. He never turned from his faith in the Lord, and willingly laid down his life for his friends; that, my friend, is true love––it is a selfless love. Valentine sought to do what was best for others, no matter the cost. We should remember and celebrate the life of a man who did not value his own life greater than others.

When you celebrate Valentine’s Day today, think about all the people you know, and love them sacrificially. Love them more than yourself, and extend the love of God to them, no matter the cost. Think about Christ’s great love and how He sacrificially gave His own life on the cross to save yours. Follow His example, and love people into the kingdom of God.

God has never been casual about the condition of the lost.
~John Greenleaf Whittier~

TUESDAY February 13, 2018

A God Centered Life

For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6

Many Christians choose to abuse what is written in 1 Corinthians 8. They use their freedoms in Christ as an excuse for their sin as they compromise. Understand, the Lord watches over us twenty-four seven. If we lie and cheat, the Lord knows; He sees us. We can never get away with anything. Many people, because of compromise, have been placed on the shelf. They are just collecting dust. God can no longer use their lives unless they repent.

Even today, it is getting to the point a lot of ministers are compromising and getting very liberal, they are drinking and doing things that dishonor God. There is little holiness in the Church today. Among the leaders in the Church, there is no fear of God. There are drugs, drinking, fornication and adultery among leaders. This is why we do not see revival.

As Christians, everything we do should be motivated by the love of God. So, we should be conscious of the choices we make, and whether or not they are causing others to stumble. People watch our lives and they see when we compromise. Maybe you are not aware, and you need to take an inventory of your life, so you can take care of your sin.

The Christian life is not all about you; it is about God. We must be Christ-like and keep God at the center of all things––in everything we say and in everything we do.

Christ pleased not Himself, but lived in total devotion to the honor of God and the welfare of mankind, and when He died He set a crown of beauty upon a God-centered and an others-centered life.
~A. W. Tozer~

MONDAY February 12, 2018

Dealing with Idolatry

Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.

1 Corinthians 8:4

When Paul came into the city of Corinth, it had a lot of problems with sexual sin, lawsuits and division. He was very concerned about the Christians living there. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 8, dealt with another major issue––idolatry. He wanted the Corinthians to be aligned with God––to know the only God. Idols were as nothing in the world. Paul made a clear distinction between the false idols and the one true God.

Idolatry is not just a practice among people in history. Today, Buddhists still place fruits––apples and oranges––before their idol Buddha. In India, they worship many gods. The Hindus are under a lot of bondage because they will not eat cows. Why? A Hindu believes in reincarnation, and to them, a cow is holy; it is even possible that one of their ancestors could be reborn as a cow!

In Greece, in the city of Athens, there are still so many idols that are very pornographic. It is very interesting that Greece, with all its idolatry, is in a financial crisis. The Lord declares in Isaiah 44:9-10 how foolish it is to worship an idol:

“Those who make an image, all of them are useless, and their precious things shall not profit; they are their own witnesses; they neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed. Who would form a god or mold an image that profits him nothing?”

Idols can never answer your prayers. They cannot see or hear. There is only one God––the Living God, El Roi–– “the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13). Our God will hear your prayers and answer.

“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and His Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last;
besides Me there is no God.’ ”
~Isaiah 44:6~

SUNDAY February 11, 2018

Are You Compromising?

Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.

1 Corinthians 8:1-3

In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul spoke to the Corinthian believers about their freedoms in Christ. The Corinthians lived in a culture that worshiped many Greek gods. Those who worshiped these deities would place offerings of meat and wine before them. So, when a believer in Christ went into a home, and they became aware that the meat given to them had first been offered to idols, they did not want to eat it.

Paul tackled the problem and told the Corinthian Christians that it really did not matter, because they did not believe in those deities. They could even go to the market and buy meat that was offered to a deity and eat with a clear conscience. The Corinthian believers worshiped one sovereign God; they were not compromising in any way.

However, in the Church, there are Christians who use their liberty in Christ to look for ways to excuse their sin. They often get caught up with wanting to drink one beer or one glass of wine. Yet, in Romans 14:12-13, Paul reminded Christians they were accountable for their actions; they should not stumble another believer:

So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.

If you are in ministry, you should not drink. Seriously, are you willing to lose your anointing just to drink? God does not compromise when it comes to His holiness. Yet, there is a lot of compromising in His Church. Are you compromising in your life, so you can excuse yourself of sin?

Compromise is like dry rot in the fabric of the Christian church; sooner or later the structure will give way.
~Mary S. Wood~

SATURDAY February 10, 2018

God’s Model for Marriage

A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment—and I think I also have the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 7:39-40

Paul continued to give advice to wives and widows. A wife should not divorce, unless she had biblical grounds; she should live together with her husband until he dies. As a widow, she is free to marry, but only in the Lord. She should never marry a non-Christian, as she would be out of God’s perfect will for her life. Paul sincerely felt that a widow might be happier if she would remain unmarried, the same state as he was––unmarried. She could give herself to God fully and completely. Paul gave good advice because he believed he had the Spirit of God––and he did.

It is important to know that if you are a widow and you have problems with remaining unmarried, then you should pray to God so that He could bring to you the right person to marry. During this time of prayer, you should wait on the Lord and be patient. When seeking the Lord’s perfect will in marriage, make sure the Lord has spoken to you from His Word. You have to ask the question, “Did God really speak to me?”

My wife and I have been married for over forty-five years. We have had problems like everyone else. I believe with all my heart that one of the reasons we have stayed so long together is that we want to honor God and we do not want to displease the Lord. Neither do we want to set a bad example for our children and our grandchildren.

It is very important to do all that is written in the Word of God concerning marriage. We need to follow God’s model for marriage. Then we can set a godly model for marriage for future generations.

As God by creation made two of one, so again by marriage
He made one of two.
~Thomas Adams~

FRIDAY February 9, 2018

Godly Advice for Fathers

But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.

1 Corinthians 7:36-38

Paul seems to be addressing a very unique situation in the church of Corinth. If there was an older virgin daughter––a single person who was still living at home––it would be good for her father to look for a bachelor to be her husband, but only in the Lord. However, if his daughter wanted to continue to stay home for the rest of her life, she could help him clean the home and take care of any other duties. A daughter can be at home and help her father in his old age.

In many cultures today, we do not have arranged marriages. A Christian woman can marry whom she pleases, but only in the Lord––another Christian. If you are a daughter who has lived at home with your parents for a long time, there is nothing wrong with you leaving home to get married––it is good.

A father and mother of an older daughter getting married should not condemn their daughter for leaving them. Parents should never place a burden on an older daughter to stay home and take care of them. A father and mother should be able to give their daughter their blessings.

However, if a daughter wants to live with her parents, she can go to work and help in the home. There is nothing wrong with that. Parents can make the decision to have her stay home, so that everyone can be unified in that decision and responsibility.

A happy family is but an earlier heaven.
~John Bowring~

THURSDAY February 8, 2018

Serve the Lord without Distraction

And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.

1 Corinthians 7:35

Paul did not want to lord over God’s people. He wanted them to be aware of the dangers in letting distractions move them away from serving Christ. Virtually anything could distract them from what God had called them to do in their lives.

Underline 1 Corinthians 7:35 in your Bible. Have you noticed how many Christians are distracted today with so many other things in their lives? Why should we serve the Lord zealously? Surely Christ is coming soon. Many Christians are not really looking for the coming of the Lord. They have grown comfortable in their lives, and they have lost their urgency to reach others for Christ.

Make the decision today not to let anything in your life distract you from serving the Lord Jesus Christ. We are living in the last days when Jesus is going to return. Revelation 22:12 assures of us His coming: “And behold, I [Christ] am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.”

In 2 Timothy 4:8, Paul’s son in the faith, Timothy, a young minister in Lystra wrote about the reward given to those who faithfully wait with expectancy for Christ’s return:

Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Are you living in this world with the constant expectancy of Christ’s appearing? If you are, you will not be distracted by the things of the world.

Learn to shut out the distractions that keep you from
truly worshipping God.
~Billy Graham~

WEDNESDAY February 7, 2018

Caring About the Things of God

There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:34

Notice how Paul, once again, brings up the point about being single. This time Paul compared the marital cares of a married woman with a woman who is single––a virgin, who is focused solely on serving the Lord. A single woman can serve the Lord without any distractions. But a married woman, even though she loves the Lord, still has the great responsibility to care for her family. She can serve the Lord, but she has to balance her duties because she is also focused on how to please her husband.

Paul explained that if a single woman became caught up with serving the Lord, then she was not going to get caught up with sexual sin––fornication. They have spiritual, disciplined lives. By serving the Lord with all their hearts, they will keep their bodies pure until God brings them a husband.

So, whether married or single, despite life’s cares, we need to have a singleness of mind when serving the living God. Deuteronomy 11:13 tells us: …love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul…

Matthew 6:33 will also help us to keep our life’s priorities in order: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. There are many things in life that can stop us from serving God.

What are some of the things in your life that are hindering you from serving the Lord? Seriously, if you switch your priorities and place God first, He will help you put your life in good order.

How can you have a dead service with a living God?
~Leonard Ravenhill~

TUESDAY February 6, 2018

Do you Have Time to Serve God?

But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife.

1 Corinthians 7:32-33

Paul wanted the Corinthians to face their responsibilities honestly. They should not be completely tied down with life’s cares to the point that they cannot serve God. Paul was basically saying, “Do not be worried or burdened down about anything.” They should have time to serve the Lord as much as possible. Then he continued to state how a single person, who is dedicated to the Lord, can have a full commitment to Christ. His whole life belongs to the Lord; he does what God has called him to do without the care of other responsibilities. If a person is single, they are free; there is nothing to hold them back.

However, Paul gave the opposite side; a married person, who also loves the Lord, has many other responsibilities. Even though they love to serve the Lord, they will have a lot more responsibilities. They have to be tentative to their family’s needs. A husband must still take care of his wife and children. Paul gave great counsel to those who are married and to those who were single.

Even our material possessions should not hinder us from serving God. It is important not to forget that we cannot take anything with us when we die. Our material possessions will always be left behind for someone else to spend or even misuse––think about that! While we live, let us use wisely our money, use wisely our time, and use wisely what God has given to us––our gifts and talents. God will anoint each of us and do so much more with our lives than we could ever imagine. God will bless us.

They who neglect their duty to God, never really fulfill any duty to man.
~Charles Finney~

MONDAY February 5, 2018

Life is too Short, Live for Christ

But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Paul spoke to the Corinthian believers about the time––it was short. They should live in the expectancy of the Lord’s imminent return. A husband and wife need to make an important agreement together. They should not get so bogged down with their marriage and be wrapped up in the cares of this life. Both the husband and wife should live to be used to serve the Lord. They should look to the Lord’s return because time was short.

There are men who will take what Paul has said in these verses out of context. They think they are free to neglect their wives and do whatever they want to do––they are now free! No, that is not the right context. I have also known people who have been married for a long time and they will not serve the Lord apart from each other. God does want us not to be in bondage in our marriages. A husband and wife often have different spiritual gifts to be used by God separately.

I thank God for my wife! She is a missionary. We both can serve the Lord apart from each other and do His perfect will. We trust and love each other. We both recognize that when the Lord returns, He should find both of us serving Him and doing His perfect will. Understandably we have other responsibilities––home, job, children and grandchildren, but we should not spend more time on family, than to look for the coming of the Lord. We need to be careful to make sure there is a good balance in our marriages and take consideration in the reality of Christ’s coming.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
~Ephesians 5:15-16~

SUNDAY February 4, 2018

Doing God’s Will in Marriage

Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.

1 Corinthians 7:27-28

Once again, Paul gave good advice to the Corinthian believers concerning marriage and singleness. If God had given the gift of singleness to any believer, that was good; but if they married, that was perfectly acceptable, as well. Proverbs 18:22 tells us: He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD.

However, Paul also knew that a married couple would face difficulties.

Anyone who has been married for any length of time knows that marriage is hard. A marriage relationship is where two separate people’s wills work together as one will. The couple should pray together, and both partners will have to be in constant submission to the Lord. As a married couple, decisions have to be made together. It is important to ask the Lord what He wants when making decisions, because it is never about getting your way.

In a marriage relationship, whenever any problems or issues come to surface, the best thing to do is discuss them first together and then pray them through. Remember, ask the Lord for His will in the matter. It is incredible when two people can come together in agreement. Both their wills have gone out the door because they want to do God’s perfect will.

In marriage, you have to come to an agreement together. Otherwise, you will have a home that is divided. There will be no peace in the home, your children will see it, your grandchildren will see it, and God sees it.

The perfect marriage is a uniting of three persons––a man and a woman and God. That is what makes marriage holy.
~Billy Graham~

SATURDAY February 3, 2018

Remain Pure

Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is:

1 Corinthians 7:25-26

In the church of Corinth, Paul addressed those who were virgins; they had no sexual contact with anyone. However, there are three different interpretations of the possible situations of these virgins. First, Paul was speaking with a father who had virgin daughters. Second, Paul was speaking to those who lived under the same roof, but they were not having sex. They slept in different beds which was a common practice in Corinth. Third, Paul was speaking to those who thought they were more spiritual because they were virgins. We really do not know which of these interpretations was used.

Paul encouraged those not married to remain as he was––unmarried. A person who was single could be used to serve the Lord fully––without distractions. Paul gave a young minister, Timothy good advice: Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity (I Timothy 4:12).

Single Christians should be set apart for the Lord’s use. It is the Lord’s will for them to stay pure and have self-control over the passion of the flesh:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God…

Single Christians should not act like those in the world who do not know God.

A pure heart breathes after purity.
~Thomas Watson~

FRIDAY February 2, 2018

You Are Brought At a Price

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.

1 Corinthians 7:23-24

Paul brought into view the key to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He revealed to the Corinthians that the Gospel message had to do with being redeemed by Jesus Christ. Do they realize just how much Christ paid for their lives? Jesus Christ redeemed every Christian by His precious blood. He died on the cross so they could be saved.

In Jesus Christ, a Christian becomes a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17). They are no longer under the Law but under grace. Christians live under God’s grace. He has given to them His peace. In Ephesians 2:14-18 Paul explains to us how Christ is our peace:

For He [Jesus] Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Our sin separated us from a holy God. He was unapproachable. The Law condemned us but Christ through His death abolished death and sin. Jesus brought us near to God; we now have access to Him.

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.
~1 Timothy 2:5~

THURSDAY February 1, 2018

Remain in the Same Calling

Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave.

1 Corinthians 7:20-22

Paul instructed the believers in Corinth that if they became a Christian when single or married; then they should remain in that called state.

At this time there were slaves in Corinth that had become saved. Paul spoke to these Christian slaves as if to say, “If you have to be a slave for the rest of your life, then serve your master the best you can. Maybe through their good example, they would bring their master to the Lord.”

Besides even those who were not slaves are called to follow Christ––as His slave. In Ephesians 6:5-9 Paul again addressed the same subject:

Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

Today, Paul’s counsel can be used between an employer and his employee. We should set a good example at work. Employees should not arrive late to work but be on time. They should never take advantage of their employers by taking extra breaks and standing around idle. Instead they should work hard and be men and women of integrity.

Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together.
~Billy Graham~

WEDNESDAY January 31, 2018

Keeping the Commandments Matters

Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.

1 Corinthians 7:18-19

Why would Paul bring up the subject of circumcision when he was speaking about marriage? Most Gentiles in this culture were not circumcised. The Jewish Law said you could not be a believer until you were circumcised. The Jews were more concerned about the outward appearance.

Paul told the Corinthians it was not about being circumcised, it was about faith and grace in Jesus Christ. When you come to the Lord it does not really matter whether you are circumcised or not. It is being born again of the Holy Spirit. Circumcision is nothing––obedience is the key. So, they did not have to become circumcised. Paul was trying to teach freedom and peace and not rules and regulations. The Corinthian believers needed to serve God by obedience; they need not get caught up in the Law.

Underline in your Bible the part of the verse that says, keeping the commandments of God is what matters. As Christians, we have to obey God’s Word. Seriously, do not be so concerned with outward appearance. Be more concerned in keeping the Word of God.

The difference between disobedience and obedience is marked by the individual's attitude toward the sin.
~Donald Grey Barnhouse~

TUESDAY January 30, 2018

Walk in Contentment

But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches.

1 Corinthians 7:17

The Apostle Paul explained to the Corinthians that if God had called any of them to be single––be single. If God had given anyone the gift of singleness, then, God bless them! But if anyone was married––stay married; whatever the state––married or single––walk with God in contentment.

If you are not content, do not run off somewhere and find a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Neither rush off to get remarried. I would say to you today, if you are having problems in your marriage––and your marriage is on the rocks, you need to give yourself to prayer and fasting. Wait on the Lord. Whether married or single you should want God’s best for your life. Wait on the Lord and be obedient to His Word. Understand God wants to bless you.

Paul had learned to be content in ministry. Whether rich or poor, he was content with his circumstances. He said: …for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. (Philippians 4:11). Apply this important principle to your own life. Be content in your married or your single life.

If you are discontent then take your discontentment before the Lord. He can help you have a change of heart and become content with His perfect will for your life. God has not called us to bondage, but to His beautiful peace and contentment so that we can rest in His grace and mercies.

I am always content with what happens, for what God chooses is better than what I choose.
~Epicetus~

MONDAY January 29, 2018

Be a Spiritual Influence

But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

1 Corinthians 7:15-16

Underline this important Scripture in your Bible. Paul told the Corinthian believers that if they were married to an unsaved partner who wanted to leave; they had the freedom to let them go. Why? God had called them to peace––not bondage.

In situations like these, where a Christian is married to a non-believer and they want to leave because of your commitment to Christ, there has to be peace in your life––bottom line. I knew a man who became a Christian but when he made that commitment to Christ, his wife left him. He remained single––no girlfriends––nothing, and waited and prayed for five years. He waited and waited until he heard she had finally married someone else. His wife never wanted to go back to him. Then, later, the Lord brought him a Christian woman and he married her. He has been happily married to his new wife ever since.

Then again, it could be possible that during the period of waiting God might bring a husband or wife back into the marriage. Keep praying for them. The Lord could use your life as an example and a witness. God can do a miracle and bring a marriage back together and unite them as one.

However, a Christian should not divorce their spouse just because they are a non-believer. If they want to remain married to you then remain married to them. You can be a great influence in their life to bring them to Christ.

Your influence is negative or positive, never neutral.
~Henrietta Mears~

SUNDAY January 28, 2018

God Hates Divorce

They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”

Matthew 19:7

The Pharisees continued to question Jesus. If God did not want His people to divorce then, why did Moses give them a certificate of divorce, so they could put their wives away? The Lord revealed to them the reason; it was because of the hardness of their hearts: “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:8).

A man was given a certificate of divorce because they were so stiff-necked. Notice how Jesus took them back to the beginning, back to Genesis, where God first established marriage. The Lord never intended for a man and women to be divorced.

It is important to understand, that God hates divorce. Malachi 2:16 tells us what God says about divorce:

“For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the LORD of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”

Be careful not to be led by your own heart, or put yourself as a counselor in your own marriage. If you do not give God a chance to work in your marriage then you will reap the consequences. He gives to you His counsel from the Scriptures. Stick with what God tells you about marriage in His Word, as it is foundational for a marriage relationship to work.

Honestly, it is up to those who are married to obey the Scriptures. Once read; they are now responsible.

Divorce is always a bombshell. However much it has been anticipated and even thought through, it almost invariably turns out to be much harder for both partners than either ever imagined.
~Andrew Comes~

SATURDAY January 27, 2018

Testing the Lord

The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”

Matthew 19:3

When the Pharisees came to Jesus they were testing Him and acting very self-righteous. Interestingly, these Pharisees would divorce their wives for any little thing. If there was too much or too little salt on their meat; then they would get a written divorcement! Can you believe that?

Jesus took the Pharisees back to the Word of God and said:

“Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

In His answer, the Lord took them back to the book of Genesis, before the Law was even written! Jesus quoted from Genesis 2:5, 24. There are some people who would argue that we should not accept anything written in the Bible, before the Law, in the book of Exodus. If that was true then why were these Scriptures in Genesis quoted by the Lord in the New Testament? Even Paul, in Ephesians 5:31, when he taught on marriage also went back to Genesis 2:24. I love it!

How many times do married couples test the Lord too? Think about all the hypocrisy in Christian marriages when they are acting like the Pharisees––self-righteous. In church everything looks good, but at home they are arguing and yelling at each other in front of their children. Then, the children will not respect their parents because of their hypocrisy. The parents have a poor testimony in their home and that is often why their children rebel.

A man who does not practice what he preaches
destroys what he builds.
~Bonaventura~

FRIDAY January 26, 2018

A Sanctified Family

For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.

1 Corinthians 7:14

Paul brought to light a very important point. A marriage partner may not be saved, but they are set apart. If the wife is a Christian, then through her, God will keep the family sanctified. It is as if a protective ring is around the family.

In another letter, Paul addressed how a marriage works. In Ephesians 5:21-33, he spoke to husbands and wives about being Spirit-filled. He also explained the order of marriage. The husband is to be the spiritual leader in the home, while the wife, is to be submissive to her husband: Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. The word submit means “to be placed underneath in rank.” It refers to a positional place in the marriage.

Husbands need to understand that the reason women are able to submit to their husbands is because they are loved by him. If a husband does not love his wife, then she will not readily submit to him. The only way a husband is going to receive respect from his wife, is for the husband to love––love––love his wife! Take care of your marriage––or it will not work.

You have to be honest with yourself in marriage. What are you doing to provoke your spouse? What is my problem within the marriage? What do you need to change to be a better husband or wife? What about being a good example to your children? When they grow up how will they act in their marriages? Seriously, married couples need be true to what is written in the Scriptures––obey them.

The Christian is supposed to love his neighbor, and since his wife is his nearest neighbor, she should be his deepest love.
~Martin Luther~

THURSDAY January 25, 2018

Willing to Stay Married

But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.

1 Corinthians 7:12-13

Paul gave very good advice to those already married to non-believers in the Corinthian church. He instructed them that if a man has a non-believing wife and she is willing to stay with him then he should stay with her. The same goes for a woman who is married to a man who is a non-believer.

In 1 Peter 3:1-6, the Apostle Peter used the example of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, as an example for women who were married to non-believers to follow. Rather than trying to speak to their husbands about the Lord, she would do better to influence him by her godly conduct and by being submissiveness to him, as to the Lord.

In 1 Peter 3:3-4, the apostle also instructed that a women’s emphasis was not to bring attention to her outward appearance; but instead, they should cultivate the hidden person of the heart:

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

However, if a husband does not treat his wife right his prayers will be hindered. He cannot be verbally abusive. A husband cannot act nice at church, but then at home his words are like cutting swords. In such cases it might be necessary to separate, but not divorce. Allow God time to work, wait on Him for a change of heart and then come back together.

He that loves not his wife and children breeds a lioness at home and broods a nest of sorrows.
~Jeremy Taylor~

WEDNESDAY January 24, 2018

Be Faithful to Your Wife

Let your fountain be blessed,and rejoice with the wife of your youth.

Proverbs 5:18

Solomon pleaded for faithfulness in marriage. He should know, as he had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines! (1 Kings 11:3)

Today, we have a problem with faithfulness in marriage. So many married people are broken because of a husband or wife who has been unfaithful to them. Many might excuse their infidelity as a point of weakness. Yet, I believe their unfaithfulness is a result of the lust of their flesh. It is a seductive work––flirting with the secretary, playing little games, writing little notes, going to lunch, and, then you both end up in bed together.

A husband needs to be faithful to his wife. He should not go and be with anyone else, but stay faithful to her. His wife belongs to him and his love should be only for her––nobody else. He should not share his sexuality, by spreading what God has given him as an intimate gift only between him and his wife, with another person:

As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her [your wife] breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love. For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress? (Proverbs 5:19-20)

It is a blessing to have a wife. It is in marriage where real love is shown. The husband and wife should be in unity, and look for sexual pleasure only with each other. A husband is to be enraptured, which means: “intoxicated” with his wife’s love. It is your wife who will have your children. Imagine, it is such a joy to have children.

The model for marriage is “Founded on pure love and
cemented in mutual esteem."
~Charles H. Spurgeon~

TUESDAY January 23, 2018

Keep Your Marriage Vows

Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.

1 Corinthians 7:10-11

Paul, within the first half of his letter, began to deal with the problems of divorce in the church at Corinth. Paul wanted the believers to know what God had commanded, this was not a command from himself. He wanted to make sure they understood the sacredness of marriage.

In Genesis 2:18-25, we find the first ordination of marriage. The Lord saw the emptiness of man and He did not want him to be alone. He made a helper, a woman, right from Adam’s own body. Adam was not looking for a woman––God brought Eve to him! God put Adam and Eve together. Adam was content––fully and completely.

I believe with all my heart that people often take marriage too lightly. If couples have problems and they cannot get along that is not a good reason to file for a divorce. You will need to ask the Lord for strength to keep your marriage vows said before Him. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). There are many couples who have been married a long time, but the only reason they have not divorced is because they believe in the declaration of God’s Word. Even though they have gone through great difficulties; they have remained obedient to God’s Word and they have always reconciled their differences.

Sadly, the rate of divorce today is out of control. The divorce rate in the United States is still about 53%, but sadly, the divorce rate in the Church is climbing. The teaching on marriage is getting more liberal. Those who teach in the Church must stay true to what is written in God’s Word.

It is not marriage that fails, it is people that fail.
~Harry Emerson Fosdick~

MONDAY January 22, 2018

Remain Single or Get Married?

But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

1 Corinthians 7:8-9

Paul addressed some very important things concerning marriage. In regards to both Jews and Gentiles, the Corinthians had some very important questions. When they accepted Christ and became Christians, what if they were married to a non-believer? What should happen about their marital status? What about widows? Can they get remarried? Whether people were single, widowed, married, or divorced they had many questions about relationships.

One important thing Paul told them is that if they could not handle being alone, then get married! Better to marry than to go around lusting and committing adultery in your mind. A person has to know their own limitations. If they are continually having issues with sexual desires; then they need to get married rather than giving into lust.

Concerning widows, if a husband or wife dies then that person should wait on the Lord and only marry another Christian. A widow should not go around picking and choosing a marriage partner. They need to be wise and pray beforehand. Why? They need to take into consideration whether they should bring another woman or man into their family circle, among their children and grandchildren. Then again, you might decide to ask the Lord for the gift of singleness, and serve the Lord single.

Scripturally, Paul gave both the married and single people some very good advice. But will you take his advice?

Don't look around for a life partner, look up. Any other choice than God's will mean disaster.
~Anonymous~

SUNDAY January 21, 2018

The Gift of Singleness

But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.

1 Corinthians 7:6-7

Paul spoke by permission to the Corinthians, he wished that everyone could be like himself––having the gift of singleness. It is a great gift! If you have the gift of singleness, then you can do whatever you want to do for the Lord. You do not have the responsibilities of a marriage and you can be used more effective as a single adult. I know single men who are missionaries and they serve the Lord powerfully. There is absolutely nothing to distract them as they serve the Lord in full capacity.

However, many single people want to be used by God but at the same time they cannot maintain themselves sexually. They begin to focus on looking for a wife or husband. If they strive to marry someone, they may end up marrying the person God did not intend. Then, he or she may become a great difficulty––I see it all the time. Honestly, biblically, a person should not be looking for a wife or a husband. Remember, Adam was not looking for a wife. It was the Lord who brought Eve to Adam.

Do not limit God in what He wants to do in your life. Wait for God’s perfect will in marriage. As you continue to pray for God’s will in your life, your desires will be aligned with His. Psalm 37:4 tells us: Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. It is important to wait on God to bring you your mate––the person you will spend the rest of your life with until you die.

Are you waiting on God for His best?

Single doesn’t mean you don’t know anything about love, it just means you know enough to wait for it.
~Chuck Smith~

SATURDAY January 20, 2018

Refrain from Intimacy

Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

1 Corinthians 7:5

Paul taught that under certain circumstances that it was alright for a married couple to refrain from sex. He further instructed that the only reason there was to be no sexual contact in marriage was for a time of prayer and fasting. However, this period should not be too long. If that happened there would be problems in the marriage. So that Satan does not tempt them to go elsewhere, a married couple should come back together sexually and break the time of fasting and prayer.

What does fasting and prayer accomplish in your marriage relationship? First, it is a time of denying yourself so God can work in your marriage. Second, as God works in both of your lives, He will help to solve the problems in your marriage.

Some of the problems in a marriage result from a hardened heart towards each other. Another difficulty is when a husband is caught looking at other women. It happens when they walk down a hallway, or driving down the street in their car. If they are checking out other women, then they have a big problem. Another issue is viewing dirty things on TV. It is estimated that 75% of people, both men and women in the Church, have issues with pornography! Ask the Lord to help you because any of these situations will harm your marriage relationship.

The real problem is that there is a lack of self-control––people do not have it! Christian couples need to be Spirit controlled––or they will not have a marriage. Do not let Satan have a field day with your marriage!

How soon marriage counseling sessions would end if husbands and wives were competing in thoughtful self-denial!
~Walter J. Chantry~

FRIDAY January 19, 2018

An Affectionate Relationship

Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

1 Corinthians 7:3-4

Paul was bringing attention to another important aspect of marriage, that a husband must show affection to his wife and both husband and wife must yield to one another sexually because when they became married they became one––not two.

This is where marriages get into trouble. If a husband is not being nice to his wife and he is not taking care of her, then there will be fighting. Once they are having arguments what is one of the first things a woman will do? Often they will say to their husband, “Do not touch me,” meaning sexually. This causes major problems in the marriage. If the wife is bitter she will cause her husband to commit adultery because she will no longer yield to her husband sexually.

Understand, God created women in a different way; they are more emotional. A good wife, while her husband is working, has been taking care of the home––all the cooking, cleaning as well as diligently taking care of her children. Then, when the husband comes home and sits down and watches the television all night, he has not given her any attention or communication. When he wants to go to bed she does not respond. Men need to understand it does not work that way, there has to be a relationship between each other.

This is not the way God intended marriage to be. It is not good for a wife to become hardened or callous. Marriage is a union, where a wife has dependence on her husband and vice versa.

First man must choose his love, and then he must love his choice.
~Henry Smith~

THURSDAY January 18, 2018

Living Within Your Means

The rich rules over the poor,and the borrower is servant to the lender.

Proverbs 22:7

Paul established the principles of God’s order for marriage. Every person should have one husband and one wife, and they should be content. Even though marriage is hard, those who have a strong relationship with the Lord will work out their situations and problems. They will never divorce, no matter how bad it has become because they do not want to bring shame to the Gospel or their children.

It is important to understand that in a marriage there will be struggles, tension and stress. These struggles may come through overspending. It can happen when a wife is always shopping and spending money, when, as a couple, they cannot afford it. Same goes for the husband spending too much money. This kind of spending can become a big problem in the home. Where is all their money going to?

It is the responsibility of both husband and wife to watch over their finances. A married couple will need to learn to live within their means; otherwise financial debt will bring incredible stress. One of the main financial downfalls of a family is credit card debt––it is killing us! Credit cards are not cash; you have to pay back the money with high interest.

Consider today when there are still so many people who are losing their jobs and homes. There are cut backs everywhere. If a husband and wife cannot get along because of their finances and they are constantly at each other there will be constant problems. It would be easily settled if their spending would stop. Imagine, one day they might not be able to pay those credit cards back––then what are they going to do!

If a person gets his attitude towards money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life.
~Billy Graham~

WEDNESDAY January 17, 2018

Marriage and Ministry

…Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.

1 Corinthians 7:1-2

Paul addressed other major issues in the Church of Corinth. He wrote to them and gave personal answers about marriage and singleness. First, by priority he addressed the single person. Paul shared how God has created everyone with sexual desires; and Christians are able, according to God’s will, to be married to each other. It was natural for a man to desire a women or a woman to desire a man. However, it might be that a person has the gift of singleness.

Paul shared from his heart his personal advice that it was better to remain single in ministry. He encouraged those who had a call to ministry, not to get married because it could become a hindrance to their call. A married person might not be able to entirely concentrate on what God had called them to do (1 Corinthians 6-7).

However, it is important to understand that a couple really needs to know that God has placed them together as husband and wife in ministry. If you marry a partner who is going in a different direction, then you are going to have a hard time in ministry. A husband and wife must be one in the ministry or there will be major problems––it is just the way it is.

Billy Graham made this lasting and loving statement concerning his wife:

Ruth [Graham] was my life partner, and we were called by God as a team. No one else could have borne the load that she carried. She was a vital and integral part of our ministry. And my work through the years would have been impossible without her support.

The Christian married couple can be a powerful weapon
in the hand of Jesus.
~John Benton~

TUESDAY January 16, 2018

Avoid Sexual Misconduct

It is good for a man not to touch a woman...

1 Corinthians 7:1-2

Paul warned the Corinthian believers that a man should not touch a woman sexually outside of marriage. The word touch means “a physical relationship.” Paul was saying it was better to remain celibate. They needed to be pure before God and pure in the ministry––having a clean walk with God so they can keep active in ministry. However, Paul stressed that to avoid sexual misconduct, a man and a woman should marry.

If a man had a physical relationship with a young woman outside of marriage, then they would be disqualified from ministry––immediately. Understand, God does not disqualify a person; they disqualify themselves. It is especially sad to see young men who get disqualified. I think about all the wasted opportunities. God was raising them up into the ministry, and they were being trained but they got disqualified––sad. God gave to them amazing gifts and talents, they had so much potential, yet the prospects and possibilities were completely missed––big time.

Many people think they will never fall, but I have seen so many people fall into sexual sin. Falling into sexual sin can happen when a person is lonely and they begin to look for love. Then they get themselves into a very difficult predicament.

Pastor Chuck Smith believed that people can be restored over a period of time. However, he would wisely take into consideration the person’s problems and situations. How did the incident happen? What were the circumstances? Have they been honest in coming forward to confess their sin? Was there true repentance seen in the person’s life?

Marriage is more than finding the right person;
it is being the right person.
~Anonymous~

MONDAY January 15, 2018

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

…and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.

Ephesians 6:19

Today we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was bold in his speeches against the many injustices happening during his lifetime. He fought peacefully for the civil rights for all citizens. He never used violence and even spoke against the use of violence. He kept to the teachings of Christianity. Yet, there were many who would have him remain silent. But as a Baptist minister, he continued to speak the truth with boldness. His most famous speech “I Have a Dream” was given in Washington D.C. in 1963, to more than 200,000 people.

Eventually, Dr. King’s work led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sadly, in 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray while he stood outside his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee. He was only 39 years old, but his work created major changes in civil rights for people all around the world.

The Apostle Paul, despite persecution, asked for prayer that he might speak boldly the Gospel. Even though there were many who tried to silence Paul, the Lord encouraged him. Just as he testified of Christ in Jerusalem, he must bear witness of Him in Rome (Acts 23:11).

Both the Apostle Paul and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are great examples to each one of us. As Christians, we are never to remain silent in the face of injustice, we should speak up. No matter what is going on in the world, we should boldly testify of Christ and be His witnesses to all men.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent
about things that matter.
~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.~

SUNDAY January 14, 2018

Answers to Questions

Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me…

1 Corinthians 7:1

Paul was responding to a lost letter that we do not have in Scripture. In his reply to the Corinthians he gave enough information to let us know what was happening in the city. He was asked questions by the believers in Corinth about matters of marriage. The new coverts in Corinth really wanted to learn from the Word of God. Paul, in his answer, addressed people who were single, married, divorced or widowed.

Remember, Christians in Corinth came from a pagan background. There was every kind of vice you could ever imagine in your mind. People came by ship, and docked in Athens to trade. Then, they traveled only 45 miles south to get to Corinth. The place was a sex city, with wild partying and drinking. Once there, a person could have anything they wanted sexually.

I can imagine the genuine concerns of Paul as he came into Corinth. He had observed all the filth that was going on in the city for six months. There were 1,000 prostitutes that would come down from the idolatrous temple of Aphrodite. It was thought that a greater number lived within the city. Every night these prostitutes would do business with the sailors, or other men who came into town. In the end, Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching and exhorting the Christians in Corinth.

There are many warnings in the Bible against sin. The Scriptures are very clear about drinking, drunkenness, fornication, child molestation, homosexually, lesbianism and adultery. All these things affect the Church. No wonder we do not see revival––there is no shame. Seriously, every individual person in the Church needs to be revived first.

It is a good thing to put up in your house the question, “What would Jesus do?” It answers nine out of ten of the difficulties of moral casuistry.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

SATURDAY January 13, 2018

Flee Sexual Immorality

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Paul gave a direct command to the Corinthians––flee! They should run from sexual sin. We too should run from sexual immorality. Fornication is a sin against your own body! What else did Paul say? If we have submitted our lives to Jesus Christ, then we are to follow God’s orders in His Word. The Lord wants to use our bodies to glorify Him. Understand, we were brought at a price. The cost of our redemption was the shed blood of Jesus Christ; His death on the cross. Our body is no longer ours, we belong to God.

There is so much sexual sin in the Church today. People, both young and old need to hear and learn from what Paul is teaching in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. Seriously––there can be situations where married couples are destroyed. Many couples divorce because of infidelity, and then the entire family breaks up––it is terrible. There are cases when a husband has committed adultery, caught a venereal disease, and passed it on to his wife!

Young people need to understand that it is only the Lord who can bring to them the right person to marry. As they are praying and asking the Lord; they will not go wrong. But to go and have sex from person to person––that is not right before God.

Are you obeying the Word of God? If you want God to honor your commitment to Him, then there should be no compromising. Live in godliness and holiness to the Lord and He will bless you.

God thought of sex before man did, and when man leaves God out of his sexual thinking he is in trouble.
~John Blanchard~

FRIDAY January 12, 2018

Our Bodies are Members of Christ

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

1 Corinthians 6:15-17

Paul was exhorting the Corinthians concerning sexual immorality. Literally certainly not means “never should it ever be!”

Many Christians in the Church today are having sex with their girlfriends or boyfriends. Men are being unfaithful to their wives and committing adultery. Are they not listening to the warnings in God’s Word?

No wonder there is an increase in sexual transmitted diseases such as AIDS and gonorrhea. Did you know that AIDS has spread everywhere? It has become a world-wide epidemic? It has been recorded in 2016, that about 36.7 million people are now infected with the deadly disease.

Our bodies are now members of Christ; we are joined to the Lord in one spirit with Him. We are separated from the world, and we should no longer walk according to the ways of this world:

… you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles [non believers] walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness (Ephesians 4:17-19).

1 John 2:6 tells us: the one who says he abides in Him [Jesus] ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. Are you doing that?

Unity in Christ is not something to be achieved:
it is something to be recognized.
~A.W. Tozer~

THURSDAY January 11, 2018

Living in Holiness

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.

1 Corinthians 6:12-14

Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand that they had liberty to do whatever they wanted to do in life, but they also needed to understand that they should not be brought back into bondage. They should not become like a dog that goes back to his own vomit. Neither should they be like a pig. You can clean a pig but the moment you release him, what does he do? He goes right back to the mud! (2 Peter 2:22).

Paul preferred holiness. He wanted God to use his life. Paul, like an athlete, wanted to run the Christian race and become a winner. He did not want anything to keep him from being free. He wanted to live his life by the grace of God, but wanted nothing sinful to hold him down.

Paul went on to explain that we are the temple of the living God. The Lord lives in us and if we defile the temple of God we will not be effective Christians. We do not want to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Therefore the body is not for sexual immorality. Sex is only for marriage.

Something is wrong with people who remain in sexual sin in the Church. Are they are not getting the message? How can they sit in a service teaching God’s Word without conviction? Understand that God’s blessings will only come through living in holiness as we submit to Him our lives. We need to die to self and walk with Him in newness of life.

Our chastity should be as dear to us as our lives, and we should be as much afraid of that which defiles the body as of that which destroys it.
~Matthew Henry~

WEDNESDAY January 10, 2018

Transformed

And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:11

Underline this Scripture. The Corinthians needed to understand their lives were transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. They were no longer to live a life of sin, like the non-believer. They had a new life, a new talk and a new walk––new mannerisms––in the Lord. Paul was very clear biblically and doctrinally.

In Romans 12:1-2, Paul the Apostle calls to us to present ourselves to God. As we are in God’s Word; the Lord helps in our transformation:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Paul also gave practical actions that we can take to help us to become a new man, renewed in the spirit of our mind in Ephesians 4:22-24:

…put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Once we are saved, we became new creations. The old man becomes dead. We now live a new life, pleasing God in everything we say and do.

The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.
~D.L. Moody~

TUESDAY January 9, 2018

Examine Your Spiritual Life

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Wow! Paul warned the Corinthians not to be deceived. He wanted them to know that if they were making a practice of sin they would not inherit the kingdom of God. Paul talked to them straight; he was very clear.

Notice in Galatians 5:16-21, Paul reiterates this truth:

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

As a child of God we should no longer live our life in the flesh––fulfilling our sinful desires. Otherwise we bring shame to the Gospel. If you find yourself in any of these categories––in these types of sins and lifestyles, you need to repent. Did you forget what God has done for you?

Reflect on 2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 1 John 1:6 tells us: If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

Examine your life to determine whether you walking in the light or in the darkness.

The power to live a new life depends upon daily communion
with the living Lord.
~John Eadie~

MONDAY January 8, 2018

Will You Accept Wrong Doing?

Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!

1 Corinthians 6:7-8

Paul’s advice to the Corinthians was to accept the wrong doing. What was hindering them from just making things right between each other? Paul pin points their problem. It was their pride that hindered them from making things right. If they were not going to get justice, then why strive? What else could they do? They needed to put those brothers and sisters in the hands of the Lord and be at peace with God. Better to be right with the Lord and innocent, rather than guilty of being unforgiving.

Besides, Christians in Corinth were acting just like those who were accused of wrong doing. They too were cheating and doing wrong to other believers. They were talking against other people in the church and judging them. They were not right with God or each other. Could they not just admit they were wrong?

Christians often fail to get along with each other, love and forgive one another. Can we not humble ourselves before God and man and pursue peace? Paul instructs us how to solve some of these difficult issues among ourselves:

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Do you find yourself angry and bitter against another believer? Are you guilty of speaking about another person behind their back? Why not take the matter before the Lord and ask Him to help you forgive them?

If it is possible, as much as depends on you,
live peaceably with all men.
~Romans 12:18~

SUNDAY January 7, 2018

A Marked Distinction

I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!

1 Corinthians 6:5-6

In the Corinthian church, it seemed as if a lawsuit had already been filed against another Christian. Paul wrote to them so that they would have the wisdom and knowledge to deal with the situation. Paul in his experience acted as a lawyer. The ruling he gave made an example of the situation. His decision in the matter would set a standard for the Church to follow.

Paul’s admonition corresponded to the ruling standards of the Jewish community that held that it was a blasphemy to bring a case before a court of idolaters. He rebuked the Christians for taking their brethren––Christian friends, to the world––heathen courts. He made a marked distinction between the world and the Church. Believers needed to do what was right before God, and, if possible, never take a brother to court.

The Church today needs to understand the laws of the land, but it also needs to understand the Word of God, so there is no confusion. The difference with the worldly courts is that the non-believer does not have the Spirit of God. Often they are not really fair. Worldly lawyers and judges are often corrupt. They might lie and cheat, and they are not always careful with their judgment.

Some judges get caught up in their power; they think they are gods. The guilty deserve judgment, but what about the innocent people who did not deserve harsh judgment? These judges and lawyers forget that one day they are going to stand before the real Judge. They will have to give an account to God for all the judgments and decisions they have made.

Imagine what will happen that day when Jesus Christ comes!

Punishment, that is the justice of the unjust.
~Augustine~

SATURDAY January 6, 2018

Taking Care of Business

Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge?

1 Corinthians 6:3-4

Paul was very concerned about brethren in the Church going to the world for judgment against another brother. Paul explained that one day we are going to judge demons––fallen angels, for the Lord. At this present time there are demons incarcerated in hell (2 Peter 2:4). When Christ comes again at the second coming, these angels will be judged––amazing!

Paul continued to really exhort the Corinthians as if to say, “Why do you have such a hard time taking care of business here on earth, when in the future you are going to judge angels?” They should not have to pay a lawyer or go to court against each other. Paul had given them the authority to judge such matters in the Church. If the Corinthians believers could settle the issues between themselves, it would be so much better.

Paul also pointed out that men in leadership positions should not be immature. They should be the ones to make important judgment in the Church. Why? If the Corinthians placed in charge men who were immature, they might give the wrong judgment.

Those placed in leadership positions must be mature and prove themselves faithful: Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2). They must be men of the Word, prayer and the must live a life of holiness: “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business” (Acts 6:3).

Justice is the greatest interest of man on earth.
~Daniel Webster~

FRIDAY January 5, 2018

Judge for Yourselves

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

1 Corinthians 6:1-2

Paul wrote clearly to address another problem in the Corinthian Church. One of the major issues was Christians going to court with lawsuits against other believers. Paul posed his own question to them, as if to say “Should a Christian go to a secular court and place a lawsuit against another Christian?”

Then Paul answered his own question, with other questions that gave them the right perspective. The Church should be the place where believers resolve conflicts with other believers. Only after that, and as a last resort, could they in some situations, appeal to the legal authorizes.

Paul had already addressed the subject of judging. Simply it is an obligation to judge matters in the Church. Paul had already judged the situation with the man who had been sleeping with his step––mother. At the same time, he had also judged the leaders for not doing anything about it. Paul instructed them on church discipline.

It is important that we understand what Paul was teaching. Any issues should be dealt with by the church elders, so everything is agreed upon, as they take care of the business. Then everyone can go away content and serving the Lord. Yet, when people go to court they go for the jugular––even among Christians?

Church discipline is very necessary today. It brings the fear of God into the Church. It is biblical and has to be done in the love and grace of God.

God does not discipline us to subdue us, but to condition us for a life of usefulness and blessedness.
~Billy Graham~

THURSDAY January 4, 2018

The God of Second Chances

For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

1 Corinthians 5:12-13

Paul concluded Chapter 5 by defining church order, church government, and church theology. The Corinthians were not to judge the world, they were to judge themselves. Church leadership should have been able to judge problems within the Church of Corinth. Paul had the heart of a pastor. He knew God cared for the person in sin, but he also knew the Lord cared that this person repented. While this man stayed unrepentant, the believers in Corinth could no longer fellowship with him.

Paul had previously used the metaphor of leaven––as a type of sin, so the Corinthians could understand how sin affects the Church. A little leaven––sin, infects not only that person, but the whole church. The Church should not allow sin to become an infective product. The Holy Spirit would become grieved, and there would be no holiness in the camp.

Christians need to be honest and repentant. They should not live a double standard of life. Otherwise they really do not have a vision of God (Isaiah 6:1), or understand the holiness of God. But, what do people try to do? They isolate their sin and they do not own up to it. Yet, no sin can be considered an isolated event because it affects others.

If you have been disciplined by church leadership, know that God still loves you. He is the God of second, third and fourth chances. You just need to repent. The purpose for discipline it is not to destroy but to save.

Real repentance produces confession and forsaking of sin, reconciliation and restitution, separation from the world, submission to the lordship of Christ and filling of the Holy Spirit.
~Vance Havner~

WEDNESDAY January 3, 2018

Lacking Salt and Light

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.

1 Corinthians 5:11

Paul referred to a third letter; it was not first or second Corinthians, but a letter that was lost. In that letter Paul gave a command not to associate with Christians in sin. However, we have to work with people in the world. We meet with non-believers at the gas station, stores, gym and some are our neighbors. As Christians, we need to love and pray for them, but we do not need to fellowship with them. We do not have to go to their parties, or go out to eat with them, but it is up to us, we make the choice.

It could be that you are among non-believers so you can be a witness to them and lead them to Christ. But it is important to understand, those you are around need to see the difference in your life. Otherwise, they will think you are just like them. We live in a fallen world; so we need to be salt and light to everyone around us.

Many peoples’ problems and situations in the Church stem from the attitude of not seeing sin as sin––it is a big issue. No wonder there are no revivals. Christians are not the salt and light in the world! We have the answer for people in the world––Jesus, but we are not effective witnesses. So people in the world remain lost!

Many Christians have left their first love––Jesus. They need to return to their first love. We all need a change of attitude, heart and mind. It begins individually––with God. Will you begin today?

If you can't shine, at least twinkle!
~Alistair Begg~

TUESDAY January 2, 2018

Separate from Believer in Sin

I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.

1 Corinthians 5:10

As we now return to 1 Corinthians 5, Paul addressed the problem of sexual immorality. He was not speaking to people in the world––the Gentiles; he was speaking to the Church! Paul wrote to the Corinthians because they showed no shame or guilt. Everybody continued life as if the sexual immorality was acceptable. That was why Paul instructed the believers not to fellowship with such a person. They should not eat with them. Why? So they would repent.

If you look at the Church today, there is still a big problem with sexual impurity. If a person continues to play on the idea that they can get away with sexual sin, then they are in trouble. The lustful thoughts in their mind and heart will be acted out.

When a believer sins, immediately the Holy Spirit convicts them and they should repent. The Word of God should also bring conviction to their lives. Otherwise the Word of God is not being effective in their lives. They are just reading––to read. What I do not understand is, as a child of God, how can someone continue in sin and not feel conviction and guilt?

If you fellowship with a believer in sexual sin, you are approving of that person. It is as if you are saying it is alright to be with them. You allow the sin to continue when you should turn them over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh. The Bible is very clear. Nothing has changed.

It is incredible how people try to hide their sin. But when they get caught; they have to reap the consequences of being in sin. People need to draw the line in the sand––they should not compromise their purity.

God requires an inward purity as well as an outward performance. ~John Blanchard~

MONDAY January 1, 2018

New Year’s Day

Righteousness exalts a nation,but sin is a reproach to any people.

Proverbs 14:34

Many new and good changes have been made by our President. Prayer is back in the White House, and we have a favorable Presidency to Christianity. New plans have been made to have Jerusalem named as the capital of Israel.

This is a huge step in the right direction. But if we really want God to bless America, and to continue to shed His grace and mercy on our land, we need to deal with the issues of sin. America is known to be a great country, but it is also known for its immorality. Remember, righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34). Sin is not just a reproach to our country but also a reproach in our churches.

The Apostle Paul had to address the issue of sin in the Corinthian church. Sexual immorality had infected the Church in such a way that even a man was shamelessly sleeping with his step-mother. The Church needed to purge out the sin. They needed to be sincerity in their repentance.

What is the condition of the Church today? How many people are living in sexual sin while attending church? Are there believers in adultery, sleeping with another man’s wife? The list goes on. There is little righteousness today! Sin needs to be dealt with in our lives––bottom line.

God wants us to be salt and light to our communities. We need a spiritual revival in our nation, and that begins with you and me, getting on our knees, and on our faces before God in prayer––fully and completely.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
~2 Chronicles 7:14~

SUNDAY December 31, 2017

New Year’s Eve

Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.

Psalm 25:4-5

A new year needs new direction. As we seek the Lord; He will guide the course of our lives: I [God] have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths (Proverbs 4:11). The Lord will show us His ways, and teach us how we are to conduct our lives: He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His ways (Proverbs 25:9). I [God] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you (Proverbs 32:8).

If we walk before the Lord in blamelessness, and continue to be upright before Him, He will bless the path of our lives:

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path (Proverbs 2:6-11).

God’s path is the way of righteousness. Everything we do and say should glorify God. It is a good practice to keep company with likeminded men and women; those who have faithfully walked with God a long time. They will mark a good path for you to follow. Proverbs 2:20 tells us: So you will walk in the way of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous.

Each and every day walk with God. Read His Word and pray. Then trust God to guide your life to where He wants you to be (Proverbs 3:5-6).

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
~Psalm 16:11~

SATURDAY December 30, 2017

God’s Guidance

Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.”

Matthew 2:19-20

Notice how God continued to give His guidance to Joseph and Mary; an angel, in a dream, told them it was now safe to return to Israel. Herod who had tried to kill their Son was dead. It is amazing to see the hand of the Lord direct their lives. We can reflect back and see how God’s guidance influenced them.

Remember, the Lord chose Mary to be the one in whom the Son of God was conceived. This conception was through the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). In God’s perfect timing; Elizabeth, who had been barren, was now six months pregnant. Mary journeyed to see her aged cousin, and stayed there for three months (Luke 1:39-40; 56). Meanwhile, the Lord had spoken to Joseph in a dream not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife.

In God’s sovereignty a world-wide census was taken. Mary, even though great with Child, had to take a difficult journey with her husband to be registered in the City of David––Bethlehem. There was no room in the inn. Christ was born in a lowly stable and laid in a manger for his bed (Luke 2:1-7).

Even when Herod was determined to see the young Child killed, God’s guidance kept them safe. The Lord directed Joseph to escape to Egypt. Later, Joseph guided by the Lord, returned to Israel. Once again, Joseph heeded yet another dream given to him by the Lord and turned to the region of Galilee. They all settled in the city of Nazareth (Luke 2:22-23).

Every step of the way Scripture was being fulfilled, the events fit together like a perfect puzzle––amazing! Now, do you trust God to guide your life?

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye…
~Psalm 32:8~

FRIDAY December 29, 2017

Refusing Comfort

Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Matthew 2:17-18

Herod, the king of Judea, was greatly troubled when he heard the news of a new King born in the region he ruled. His reign would not be shared with another. Secretly, he had inquired of the wise men as to the time the star appeared to the wise men. Herod asked them to bring back word when they found the Child. Why? He supposedly wanted to worship Him (Matthew 2:3-7), but he was incredibly insincere and blatantly lied about his motives.

Herod had murder in his heart, and worship was so far from the truth. All he wanted was to destroy the young Child. God warned the wise men, and they did not revisit Herod, but returned to their own country another way (Matthew 2:12). Joseph was warned by an angel of the Lord in a dream to take Jesus and His mother Mary and flee into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-14).

Herod, in fury and anger at the wise men not returning to him, devised an evil plan to insure the destruction of the young Messiah. He would exterminate the One, named King of the Jews. He determined the possible age of the Child from the wise men. Then he ordered the horrific slaughter of all the male children from the age of two years old and under in Bethlehem, including the surrounding districts (Matthew 2:16).

We live in a world opposed to Christ. The Bible tells us that man’s heart is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Even today, innocent people suffer horrible atrocities because of those who are evil. Anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one due to acts of violence can be hard to console. Only God can soothe their grief. He is the God of all comfort.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us…
~2 Corinthians 1:3-4~

THURSDAY December 28, 2017

Come to Worship Christ?

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

Matthew 2:1-2

Wise men––Magi from the east––often traveled in a large caravan of people for security. These wise men studied the stars using the natural science of astronomy. They had seen a sign, the star of a King, and had followed its path into Judea. Once there, they began to inquire among the people: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?”

Why had they traveled so far? What was the purpose of their long journey? With all sincerity, these men had come to worship the newly born King. The star had gone before them and stood right over the place where the young Child was. Their long journey was rewarded when they came into the house and found Jesus with Mary, His mother.

Immediately, these wise men fell down and worshipped Jesus. In an act of obeisance, they brought precious gifts for the King, gold––represented His royalty, frankincense a most exquisite fragrance His deity, and incredibly expensive myrrh His coming death (Luke 2:9-11).

Jesus is worthy of our worship. He is our King––should we not adore Him? Psalm 95:6 tells us: Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. During Christmas, many people will reflect on the birth of Christ and attend church, but is their worship sincere? Going to church at Christmas time can become more of a family tradition.

It is important to understand that only those who know Christ as their Savior and King can truly come to worship Him.

“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him
must worship in spirit and truth.”
~John 4:24~

WEDNESDAY December 27, 2017

Those Who Look for Redemption

Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age… and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38

Anna, a prophetess, was only married seven years before she was widowed. Since her widowhood, she had faithfully served the Lord, both during the day and night by fasting and praying in the temple. Notice that old age and widowhood never stopped Anna from serving her God. She entered the temple just as Simeon spoke his prophecy about Christ.

Even though Anna was elderly, she remained spiritually alert. Like Simeon, she also recognized the Child and acknowledged Him as the Messiah. In that very instant, she gave thanks to God and spoke prophetically about Him. Anna must have been well known among the people. They would have taken seriously her prophetical words about Christ. He was born for those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem, and that time had surely come––amazing!

What is redemption? In the Old Testament, the word redemption simply means, “a ransoming from imprisonment for debt or slavery.” The the redemptive work of Christ redeems an individual from the debt and slavery of sin. What is the penalty for our sin? Romans 6:23 tells us: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Seriously, knowing the just penalty and the payment due for your sins, which is death, what should be your main concern in view of eternity? Are you one among the many who are looking for your needed redemption?

…but with His [Jesus’] own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
~Hebrews 9:12~

TUESDAY December 26, 2017

Consolation of Israel

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

Luke 2:25

Simeon was known as a man of great character. He was just––his life was conformed to God’s high standard of rightness. Therefore, in the eyes of God, he was deemed righteous. He was also strongly devout; he displayed a godly respect for the things of God. Simeon was a true example of a man who feared God.

Simeon patiently waited on the Lord for the “Consolation of Israel,” a name used for Christ––the long awaited Messiah. We do not know how long he had waited, but we see him being led into the temple by the Holy Spirit at the perfect time and place to see Jesus Christ.

Soon, Joseph and Mary, Jesus’ parents, brought the Child into the temple to present Him to the Lord according to the law (Luke 2:22-24). Simeon’s greatest desire in life was now before him––the Lord’s Christ. He held in his arms the Child he knew was destined to comfort Israel. God had kept His promise to Simeon. Elated and empowered by the Holy Spirit he said:

“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).

Simeon, prophesied that not only was the Christ Child given for the comfort and salvation of Israel, but He would be light to the heathen nations––the Gentiles as well. All people were to be blessed by the Messiah’s light and knowledge of salvation that had come through God’s chosen people––Israel.

“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God.
~Isaiah 40:1~

MONDAY December 25, 2017

Finding Christ in Christmas

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Luke 2:15-16

The shepherds believed the angel’s words. The Lord had revealed to them that Christ the Lord was born! In unison, they agreed to leave their fields and flocks to go into the crowded city in search of the Child. They found the Babe, lying in the manger, just as the angel had told them.

After the shepherds had seen Jesus, they publicly made known what was told them about this Child. Those who heard marveled. Mary, the mother of Jesus, pondered all these sayings in her heart. As the shepherds returned to their flocks of sheep in the fields, they glorified and praised God, not only for what they were privileged to hear, but for whom they had found. They had found the Babe––Christ the Lord. They had seen Him for themselves with their very own eyes (Luke 2:17-20).

Perhaps, this Christmas Day you find yourself melancholy and alone. All you seem to do is spend your days, and even your nights, in some field of work. You may feel empty, unfulfilled, and this question might come to mind, “Is this all there is to life?” But you have yet to discover the glad tidings of the Babe, wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in the manger.

If you search for Christ the Lord in the Scriptures, you will find Him. The Lord will make the significance of Christ’s birth and His amazing purpose He has planned for your life known to you personally. This Christmas Day could be the very day you find Christ! Then you, too, will praise and glorify God for the birth of His Son––the greatest Gift He has given to you.

[The Bereans] searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether
these things were so.
~Acts 17:11~

SUNDAY December 24, 2017

While Shepherds Watched

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

Luke 2:8-9

While shepherds faithfully watched over their sheep outside on this dark night, all of a sudden an angel stood before them, and the glory of the Lord illuminated the darkness all about them. They were in awe at the heavenly sight. Maybe they covered their eyes to shield themselves from the brightness or stared at the angel completely speechless? The angel spoke to them:

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12).

Can you believe that these insignificant shepherds were chosen to hear about the birth of Christ? Contained within these good tidings was His purpose for coming. Jesus was to be the Savior––for all people. For confirmation of the angel’s words, they could go and find the Babe, wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger in the city of David.

Then, as described in Luke 2:13-14, instantly the night sky was filled with a multitude of the heavenly host––angels praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” It is important to understand that God’s heart towards mankind is for good. He desires for everyone to rejoice about the good news of His Son. Not one person on earth has been excluded from the opportunity to find God’s peace and salvation through Jesus Christ.

“For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples…”
~Luke 2:30-31~

SATURDAY December 23, 2017

No Room for Jesus

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:6-7

The streets and inns were occupied with people who had traveled into the city of Bethlehem for the worldwide census. Everywhere Joseph and Mary looked for a vacant room to find rest was filled to capacity. They must have knocked on many doors and inquired to see if there was a place, but there was none available. The only location left open was a humble stable, where animals were kept.

Then, Mary went into labor, but she had no midwife to help her give birth to her Son. She wrapped him in the swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger. Our Savior, the King of kings, was born and laid in a humble manger used to feed the animals. Jesus, Creator of the world, took on human flesh. He was both human and divine:

He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth… (Colossians 1:15-16).

It is important to understand that even though God sent His Son to be the Savior of the world (John 3:16), most people were oblivious to the miraculous event of Christ’s birth. What about today? So many people during Christmas time fill the streets of cities as they shop in stores for gifts. Yet, do they stop to think about the greatest gift––God’s Son?

When Jesus knocks at the door of your heart, will you let Him in? Why not make room for Jesus in your life this Christmas and accept Him as your Savior?

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
~Revelation 3:20~

FRIDAY December 22, 2017

A Difficult Journey

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

Luke 2:4-5

Under the Roman rule of Caesar Augustus, a decree was issued that the known world should be registered. This census took place while Quirinius was governing Syria (Luke 2:1-3). Some believe that this was done for the taxation of the people. Joseph would have had to leave Galilee with Mary to travel to Judea, to the city of David––Bethlehem.

Imagine how difficult this harsh journey must have been for Mary. She was near the time of giving birth to her Son. She was described as being great with child (Luke 2:5 KJV). Joseph and Mary would have traveled more than 90 miles over the rough and rugged terrain.

Yet, they both believed what God had spoken to them and trusted Him for the outcome. This difficult journey was a part of God’s perfect plan, just as the Prophet Micah foretold:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).

Sometimes, God will allow different situations in your life to happen. These events may take you on a difficult journey. It is important to stay committed to the Lord and believe His Word. Through your submission to His plans, even in the most arduous times, your faith will grow stronger.

Belief is not faith without evidence but commitment without reservation.
~Leighton Ford~

THURSDAY December 21, 2017

A Light in the Darkness

“Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 1:78-79

Under Roman rule, the Jewish nation was heavily burdened. They endured a harsh existence in a land no longer freely theirs. A Roman soldier could tap anyone on the shoulder, and they would be forced to carry his gear for a mile. The Jews were forced to pay taxes which funded the Roman army who occupied them. The Romans were cruel; a person could be sentenced to death by crucifixion for their crimes.

As Zacharias concluded his prophecy, there was a glimmer of hope among the dark days of oppression. Their Messiah would come as a light––a dawn in the darkness. He was their Dayspring to bring to His people peace. War had brought their enemies into their gates; the Roman presence in Israel was such an unwelcomed intrusion.

It is important to understand that our own lives have an enemy––death. Because of sin, we all sit in death’s shadow. We live in the fearful knowledge that each new day could be our last. Death is something we cannot control; it is an unwelcome intrusion. But who can help us?

Our Dayspring––Jesus Christ––visited us like the dawn that ends the darkness. As Mary’s child, He took upon Himself human flesh. He was able to destroy death’s hold over us when He died on the cross:

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Hebrews 2:14-15).

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.
~Isaiah 9:2~

WEDNESDAY December 20, 2017

Prophet of the Highest

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins.”

Luke 1:76-77

As the child John grew, the hand of the Lord was with him, he became strong in the Spirit. He would live in the area of the desert until his ministry began. Zacharias, in his prophecy, gave an explanation of his son’s ministry. In biblical times, when a king visited, a herald would proclaim his coming. The people would prepare the way by removing all the rocks and trash from the roads to make them as smooth and straight as possible.

Likewise, John the Baptist, would herald, Jesus the King of kings––the king of the Jews, and make ready a people prepared for the Lord. John would give a strong message; the people needed to repent. His words would convict them, and they would see their need for the forgiveness for their sins. The people’s hearts were made ready for their coming Messiah.

As John ministered to the multitudes of people, he was questioned as to whether or not he was the Christ. He left this testimony in Scripture:

...when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ” (John 1:19-20).

When Jesus began his ministry, He asked John to baptize Him. John, before his Lord, took a position of humility and said: “It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose” (John 1:27). It is very important to notice John never pointed people to himself; he always pointed them to Christ. Who do you point others to, yourself or Christ?

“…I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”
~John 1:34~

TUESDAY December 19, 2017

A Priest of Praise and Prophecy

Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied saying: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us…”

Luke 1:67-71

Zacharias, filled with the Holy Spirit, not only praised the Lord, he also prophesied. He spoke of God’s visitation among His people—Israel. Their Messiah, the horn of salvation, would come through the household of David (Psalm 132:17). Zacharias praised God for his nation’s redemption, salvation and rescue from their enemies. He declared what had been spoken through God’s prophets since the beginning of the world.

Imagine, the people were very familiar with these ancient spoken promises. God, in His mercy, would perform the oath He swore to their father Abraham. It was the great hope of the people of Israel––to be delivered from the hand of their enemies, so they could serve the Lord without fear, in holiness, all the days of their lives (Luke 1:72-75).

Now the time had come to see the prophecy’s fulfillment. John would be used of the Lord to prepare the way for the Messiah. He was to be a witness to His true Light:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world (John 1:6-9).

Do you prefer to live your life in the darkness or in the light?

“…Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
~John 3:19~

MONDAY December 18, 2017

What Child Is This?

Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.

Luke 1:65-66

Imagine, all the people who lived around Zacharias and Elizabeth were in awe of what was happening. They began to discuss the miraculous events surrounding the birth of this new born child––John. At first Zacharias was mute, and the people perceived he had seen a vison in the temple. Then Elizabeth, in her old age, conceived and gave birth to a son! Now, after the child was given the unexpected name of John by his father, Zacharias began to speak. As the people discussed these unusual events, news began to spread throughout all the hill country of Judea.

What did these extraordinary happenings mean? Clearly the people were aware that God was doing something, even though they could not understand the full picture of His plan. So, for the time being, they kept what was spoken in their hearts. They were left with a probing question in their minds, “What kind of child will this be?”

Among all those people in the hill region of Judea who had heard what had transpired, were there any who could truly perceive what had happened, according to the Scriptures, concerning John and his ministry in relation to Christ?

Notice, it is the same today. How many people will not understand the spiritual significance of Christmas? Instead, they will enjoy a commercialized holiday. But perhaps family members will ask you about the Babe in the manger, saying “What Child is this?” Will you be able to answer them, “Christ our Savior,” and tell them the Christmas story?

“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord.”
~Luke 2:11~

SUNDAY December 17, 2017

Birth of John the Baptist

Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.

Luke 1:57-58

Mary had stayed with her cousin for three months; then came the time for Elizabeth to deliver her baby. The Lord in His mercy had taken away her shame of not being able to have a child. Elizabeth had a time of seclusion, but now her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had blessed her. He had given her a son––everyone rejoiced (Luke 1:56-58).

The miracle of Elizabeth giving birth in her old age was not the only wonder to happen. On the eighth day, those present expected the baby to be named after his father Zacharias, but Elizabeth had said no, his name would be John. Confused by an unfamiliar name not found in their family lineage, they looked to Zacharias for further confirmation (Luke 1:59-62).

Zacharias motioned for a tablet, and in their amazement, he wrote the name––John. Immediately, his tongue was loosed and he could speak, just as the angel had said (Luke 1:20). The very first words to come out of his mouth were pure praise to his God (Luke 1:59-64).

When Zacharias first heard the angel Gabriel’s message, he had spoken words of unbelief. He could not even imagine the possibility of a child being born to him in his old age. But now, when what was spoken had taken place, and he had obediently called the child John, he praised God, fully and completely.

It is very important that we examine what comes out of our mouths. Do we question God’s Word in unbelief? Or do we believe His Word and have nothing but praise on our lips?

I will extol the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. ~Psalm 34:1(NIV)~

SATURDAY December 16, 2017

Rejoice in God my Savior

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.”

Luke 1:46-49

Mary responded to all that had been spoken to her by the angel Gabriel and Elizabeth her cousin. She spontaneously began to magnify the Lord in her sweet song of praise. Mary had indeed been made to rejoice; God, who is mighty beyond measure, had done great things. Mary was blessed and she praised His magnificent holy name.

Imagine, Mary, in humility, recognized that she was a lowly maid servant to be used in God’s hands. Her life’s story, as the mother of Jesus, would be remembered for all generations. It is important to understand that this holy Child she carried would not only be Savior of the world, but He would be her own Savior. Mary, although pure, needed salvation herself; although blessed among women, she was not sinless like her Savior.

Mary saw herself in the correct light; she understood the profound truth of her insignificance, compared to the greatness of God. But do we? Imagine, we are but a speck of dust in this vast universe, but God in His love and affection is mindful of us, and gave us dominion over His creation:

What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet…(Psalm 8:4-6).

When was the last time you worshipped the Lord for His magnificence, His Salvation, and all the great things he has done in your life?

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad.
~Psalm 126:3~

FRIDAY December 15, 2017

Mary, Blessed Believer

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

Luke 1:42-45

Mary hastened to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who spoke, by the Spirit, as the baby leaped in her womb to give a confirmation of what the angel had already told Mary. She was chosen by God to be the mother of her Lord. She was blessed among women. Elizabeth assured Mary that those things spoken to her would be fulfilled. Notice how Elizabeth said, my Lord; this Child would become her personal Lord and Savior. She was so humbled by Mary’s visit and commended her for her great faith.

Imagine, Mary stayed with someone within her own family who completely understood her situation. Mary may have felt alone as a young, unmarried, pregnant teenager, but she found solace with her cousin Elizabeth, an older woman who embraced her. Mary was encouraged by Elizabeth’s friendship; she was a woman in tune with God’s purposes.

Are you in tune with God’s plans and purposes? Jesus left heaven and came to earth as a baby. He came to accomplish His mission––our salvation. Jesus made that clear when He said: I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance (Mark 2:17). Have you embraced the truth of the Gospel message? Who is Christ to you personally? Have you repented of your sins and asked Him to become your personal Lord?

If you do this day, the Christmas story will take on a whole, new, blessed meaning. Imagine, you will join the family of blessed believers in Christ!

“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
for He has visited and redeemed His people.”
~Luke 1:68~

THURSDAY December 14, 2017

According to Your Word

“Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

Luke 1:36-38

The angel Gabriel greatly encouraged Mary; the Lord had already been at work in the life of her cousin Elizabeth. She had been barren, and yet God, through His power, had miraculously given her life––a child was conceived in her lifeless womb. God did something far greater, Mary, as a virgin, would carry the Son of God in her womb. Mary, moved by faith, willingly agreed to be used by the Lord and voiced her full submission to God’s Word.

Mary’s reaction to the angel’s words revealed her heart of faith, which was very different from Zacharias the priest. When he was told by Gabriel that Elizabeth was to have a child, he questioned the possibility; they were too old to have children. Zacharias was rebuked by the angel for his unbelief, but Mary, by faith, delighted to do the will of God.

In Psalm 40:8, David expressed his attitude towards doing the will of God. He wrote: “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.” This Psalm was also prophetical; it spoke of Christ and His willingness to do His Father’s will. Jesus said to the people who followed Him: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38).

What was the Father’s perfect will in the life of Christ? He was to die: “…I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father” (John 10:17-18).

Do you delight to do the will of God, no matter how impossible it seems?

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin…
~Isaiah 53:10~

WEDNESDAY December 13, 2017

Holy One––the Son of God

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”

Luke 1:34-35

In awe and wonder, Mary inquired how this miracle of Christ’s conception would happen. She questioned, but never doubted God’s Word in unbelief. The angel answered her finite mind’s curiosity. The Holy Spirit, who is the third person of the Trinity, would come upon Mary, and the power of God would overshadow her. She would carry the precious Seed within her womb. Jesus, the Son of God, would be born of Mary.

Throughout the Bible, the Trinity is seen; one God in three persons, all having the same divine attributes. God the Father is holy (Exodus 15:11); Jesus, God’s Son, is holy (Acts 3:14); and the Spirit is called the Holy Spirit. On one occasion an unclean spirit–demon––recognized Jesus as the Holy One and said: “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” (Luke 4:34).

Only a holy sacrifice could suffice for the sacrifice of our sins. The Apostle John confirms in 1 John 3:5, that Jesus had no sin: And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Jesus met the requirements to be a holy sacrifice for our sins:

knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:18-19).

If the demons know the authoritative names of Jesus, how much more should you?

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name…
~Philippians 2:9~

TUESDAY December 12, 2017

Son of the Highest

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.

Luke 1:32-33

Notice, the angel proclaimed that the birth of Jesus would eventually fulfill the prophetic promise given to King David during his life. God, the Father, will give to His Son the throne of David to secure His kingdom forever (2 Samuel 7:16). Jesus, the Son of the Highest, God coming in flesh (John 1:14), was born into the earthly bloodline of King David:

…concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness (Romans 1:3-4).

Jesus has two natures, earthly and divine. Immanuel––God with us, showing He is divine. Jesus wept, for He is also human. He is both human and divine. A troubled demon knew of Jesus’ divinity. He used Jesus’ title, “Son of the Most High God” as he addressed Him:

And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me (Mark 5:7).

Jesus, Son of the Highest, came for one purpose––to die on the cross, so we could be forgiven of our sins and so we could spend eternity with Him (John 14:1-3). Hebrews 2:9 plainly tells us the reason He took on mortal flesh:

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

Christ was God, not because he was virgin born.
He was virgin born because he was God.
~Robert Clarke~

MONDAY December 11, 2017

His Name is Jesus

But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.

Luke 1:29-31

Mary was troubled––unsettled in her thoughts––but the angel reassured the trembling woman. Mary had found favor with God. Then the angel told her the most amazing message: Mary would conceive in her womb, a Son; she would name him––JESUS. This miracle would be a fulfillment of Scripture found in Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel––God with us.

Imagine, Mary, a young teenager, had been chosen to carry Jesus in her womb. The Jewish people knew the Scriptures and understood by them, the Messiah would be born. They fully expected Him to be their Savior and to save them from their oppressive enemies. This was the great hope of the Jews, suffering under a Roman occupation––that the Messiah would deliver them and set up His kingdom on earth.

Mary’s child was to be called JESUS. In Hebrew this name was, Yehoshua, shortened to Joshua, which means “Yahweh is salvation.” What was the purpose of His birth? The name JESUS relates to us His mission––for He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). But Jesus is not only Savior to the Jewish nation. God has shown His love by giving His greatest gift––His Son––for the salvation of the whole world!

This Christmas season, are you mindful of God’s plan to bring about your own salvation? The birth of Christ shows God’s great love towards you.

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~

SUNDAY December 10, 2017

An Angelic Announcement

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

Luke 1:26-28

The angel Gabriel, during the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, was sent by God to give another incredible message. This time, the angel went into a city in Galilee––Nazareth––to a young virgin, Mary. She was engaged to be married to Joseph and must have been surprised, even shocked, to be approached by an angel with such an amazing salutation!

The angel reassured her that in God’s sight she was highly favored; His holy presence was with her. Mary was blessed among women. But how would she be blessed? God had a plan for her life––more than she could ever imagine. The good news soon to be told to her by Gabriel would make her rejoice.

Even though, at this time, Mary did not fully understand the reason for the angel’s visit, the message of the angel was in accordance with the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures. She was a human vessel, chosen, among all the women on earth, to perfectly fit into God’s plan. Everything was about to fall into place; she would soon understand.

Most Christians do not have encounters with angels; our life changing experiences are usually based on God’s Word. He transforms our lives (2 Corinthians 5:17) and then begins to use us to do His will on earth. God, in His wisdom, often does not show us His entire plan for our lives––He takes us on a journey of faith, one step at a time. Even if we do not understand the path God is leading us on, we must simply trust in Him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths.
~Proverbs 3:5-6~

SATURDAY December 9, 2017

God’s Word Comes to Pass

Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Luke 1:24-25

Zacharias performed his duty, burning incense in the temple while the people worshiped and prayed outside (Luke 1:9-10). They began to marvel that he took so long. When he came out, he could not speak. The people supposed he had seen a vision in the temple as he gestured to them, but he remained speechless (Luke 1:21-23).

Then, in God’s time, what the angel Gabriel had told Zacharias came to pass––Elizabeth became pregnant. She kept herself hidden for five months, with the wonderful knowledge in her heart that God had answered her prayer for a child. In biblical days, it was a shame not to have children. Others may have looked down on her, but not anymore; that reproach was completely taken away. She could rejoice in the miraculous things God was doing in her life.

Imagine, as Elizabeth and Zacharias continued to serve God faithfully, obediently walking in all the Lord’s commandments, God’s plans and purposes were being fulfilled in their lives. Not only were they chosen to become the parents of John, they would hold a special part in the story of the Savior’s birth. John was Jesus’ cousin, and he would herald, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

It is important to know that God has a purpose and a plan for each of our lives. As we walk with God in obedience to His Word, His plans will naturally unfold in our lives. We each have an important part in the proclamation of the Gospel. Are you open to the unlimited possibilities of God working the impossible in your life?

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
~Jeremiah 29:11~

Friday December 8, 2017

Son of the Highest

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Luke 1:31-33

The wondrous birth of Christ was announced to Mary, a virgin, by the angel Gabriel. Cradled within her womb would be the long awaited Messiah. Declared in the angel’s special greeting was the Baby’s name, JESUS.

Later, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph. He was reminded of his earthly lineage: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20). Prophecy tells us that JESUS was connected with King David’s royal throne. Joseph, as a son of David, was in Christ’s royal lineage.

Joseph was also told by the angel, the purpose of the name of JESUS: “And she [Mary] will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

JESUS, pure, sinless and divine, was named the Son of the Highest; greatness preceded Him. He is the King of Kings and will reign forever and ever… Christmas is a perfect time to reflect on God’s amazing plan of salvation. God sent His Son incarnate to earth for our sinful sakes. Why not accept JESUS as your Savior this Christmas? Then one day, you, too, will enjoy His everlasting, kingdom.

The sum and substance of the preparation needed for a coming eternity is that you believe what the Bible tells you and
do what the Bible bids you.
~Thomas Chalmers~

THURSDAY December 7, 2017

Unbelief in Glad Tidings

And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”

Luke 1:18-20

Zacharias, even though he served God as a priest, questioned the possibility of having a child; because both he and his wife were elderly. He thought it very unlikely that it would happen as the angel had told him. Gabriel had a rebuke for the priest. He was an archangel who stood before the presence of God and had come from the presence of His holy throne room, as His messenger, to give Zacharias glad tidings.

As Zacharias’ heart of unbelief was revealed by the angel, he was told he would remain mute until the time that the things told to him would come to pass. The Bible is God’s infallible Word. There are many prophecies given in the Old Testament concerning the certain events surrounding Christ’s birth and the actual birth of Jesus Christ, that were fulfilled in the New Testament.

The odds of God’s Word coming to pass are impossible by human terms, but 2 Peter 1:20-21 assures us of the Scriptures infallibility:

…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Despite all the evidence, how many people choose not to believe God’s Word and the glad tidings of the Gospel message He brings to us?

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place…
~2 Peter 1:19~

WEDNESDAY December 6, 2017

Make Ready a People

“For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Luke 1:15-17

John, even from within the womb of his mother, was filled with God’s Spirit. When Mary, pregnant with the Messiah, visited Elizabeth, we read of his incredible reaction: And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb (Luke 1:41). John was likened to Elijah, a bold and powerful prophet, yet Jesus told His disciples: For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist (Luke 7:28).

As a man, he would take upon himself the vow of a Nazarite; he would drink no wine or strong drink––he was set apart to God (Numbers 6:1-21). He preached in the wilderness of Judea and baptized many in Bethabara, beyond the Jordan. He was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4; John 1:28). What was John’s compelling message?

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight’” (Matthew 3:2-3).

Imagine, over the years, this same message has been preached to the multitudes. Have you responded to the message and repented of your sins? Are you ready to meet the Lord––the One who sits on the throne of David?

Never will Christ enter into that soul where the herald of repentance
hath not been before him.
~Joseph Hall~

TUESDAY December 5, 2017

The Silence is Broken

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.”

Luke 1:13-14

In the days of Herod––the most vile and wicked king, Zacharias the priest served God in the temple. His wife Elizabeth was barren, and there was little hope of a child being born to the aged couple. They were both described as being righteous and blameless before God, walking in all the commandments (Luke 1:5-7).

Four hundred years of silence spanned between the pages of Malachi and Matthew. Although the Lord had not spoken through any prophet for some time, the stage was being set for the entrance of a King, but not just any king. Before His royal birth, a forerunner would prepare His way. Earlier, the Prophet Isaiah prophesized about John:

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together…” (Isaiah 40:3-5).

In God’s perfect timing, the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias in the temple. Zacharias became afraid, but the angel told him he had come in answer to his prayer. Elizabeth would have a son, and he was instructed to call the name of the child, John (Luke 1:8-14). Never doubt God’s times of silence; He is at work behind the scenes of your life, fulfilling His plans.

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
~1 Corinthians 2:9~

MONDAY December 4, 2017

Peace without End

…Of the increase of His government and peacethere will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:7

Solomon’s reign was peaceful, but after his death, his kingdom became divided. Rehoboam, his son, ruled over the southern tribes of Benjamin and Judah, while Jeroboam ruled the other ten tribes (1 Kings 12:16-17). Sadly, later in history, Solomon’s temple and the walls of Jerusalem would be destroyed. The people of Israel, along with Solomon’s riches, would be carried away into a long Babylonian captivity (2 Kings 24-25).

With this unthinkable devastation, how would God accomplish His promise to King David? Who would sit on the throne? Would there ever be a lasting, peaceful reign in the future? It is important to understand that throughout the history of Israel’s kings, the royal bloodline of King David continued. In fact, the scarlet cord wove its way gracefully through the lives of five women. Tamar, who acted as a prostitute, Rahab a prostitute by trade, cursed Moabitess Ruth, the wife of Uriah, and then a young, virgin maid named Mary (Matthew 1:1-5,16).

Mary, poor and humble, lived in the insignificant town of Nazareth. She was betrothed to Joseph, a lowly carpenter. Both Mary’s and Joseph’s families were linked directly to the lineage of King David (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38). Jesus, the Prince of Peace, would be born of Mary. He is God, the King of Kings who will establish the throne of David forever.

Imagine, there are still so many wars troubling our world today. But, let us not be distressed; at the end of the age, Jesus Christ will reign, and there will be peace without end (Isaiah 2:4).

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
~Luke 1:32~

SUNDAY December 3, 2017

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Christmas time is when we reflect on Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Christ: For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given… A Baby was born in a humble shelter and placed in a manger, in the town of Bethlehem. He came to us as an innocent Child, and yet, upon His shoulder would rest the government––He would be a great and just Ruler.

God’s Son is given the names: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. What incredible titles given to this Baby! What an amazing prophecy about the coming Savior. He came for one solitary purpose––the salvation of men.

Imagine what Mary thought when she held her baby for the first time in her arms. She knew who He was. She not only knew God’s Word and His prophecies, but the angel Gabriel had revealed God’s plan to her. Gabriel told her she was favored by God, and chosen to conceive a child by the Holy Spirit: He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David (Luke 1:32).

When she was holding her baby––Jesus, I think she must have pondered on everything the angel Gabriel revealed to her. She must have been amazed. How could this defenseless child hold so much responsibility? Although human, He was God. Through His willingness to be obedient to the Father’s plan, salvation for all men came to the earth in the form of an innocent babe.

The hinge of history is on the door of a Bethlehem stable.
~Ralph W. Sockman~

SATURDAY December 2, 2017

The One Ruler in Israel

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”

Micah 5:2

As Christmas draws near each year, I cannot help but go back through the Old Testament and read the incredible prophecies of the coming Messiah. I am amazed by the words written by the prophets, declaring His birth. God is so good, because He provided every clue, every opportunity for people to recognize Christ––the coming King.

The Prophet Micah told the people of Israel, the Messiah would come from the small town of Bethlehem. He would be the One to be Ruler in Israel. He was from everlasting. He was God, yet, He would come to earth as a small child. He would leave His heavenly home, the throne of God, His Father’s side, and come down to live among mortal men.

From this one book of the Old Testament, and in this one verse, we clearly see how God was telling His people He was sending His Son to them. There is no way they could not have recognized Him when He came to them, born in this very small town of Bethlehem––but many failed and missed the miracle of His birth.

Just as God used the prophets of the Old Testament to foretell the people of the coming Messiah, He used John the Baptist to point people to Christ when He came (Matthew 3). Today, we have the entire Bible and the full counsel of God. The Bible points us right to our Savior from Genesis to Revelation. At Christmas time we celebrate His birth. Do you recognize Christ as your Savior? Receive the eternal gift He brings—salvation!

Rejoice that the immortal God is born that mortal men
may live in eternity.
~Jan Hus~

FRIDAY December 1, 2017

Keep No Immoral Company

I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people…

1 Corinthians 5:9

Paul wrote to the Corinthian church in God’s perfect timing. There were those in the Corinthian church who thought, “Well Paul is not here, so we can do whatever we want.” But Paul, through the Holy Spirit, was in prayer for them, and the Holy Spirit was speaking to him. Then, when he received reports about their sexual immorality, he most probably confirmed the whole situation. Paul, at that point, already knew what should happen in the Corinthian Church, and he basically told them, “Even though I am not there, in my spirit I am there with you––praying.”

If you look at our nation, and even in the Church, you can see that there is a problem with sexual impurity––it is huge. There are night clubs and strip clubs to go to. Readily available to anyone are pornographic magazines and videos. When I am teaching at any service, I can look out into the congregation or at thousands of people attending a conference, and I see many of them nodding their heads in agreement with me. But are some of those very people listening in sexual sin? Is there genuine conviction when they hear the message, or have their hearts have become calloused?

If a person agrees with the message, but in their heart there is sin, then something is wrong with their conscience. The Word of God should bring conviction to their hearts and minds. They should immediately repent. It is as if the Church has gone into slumber like never before. I think we are living in a time when God has spoken, but it could be very possible that He will stop speaking to a lot of people until they repent. Seriously, do you really want reap the consequences of your sexual sin?

Each man's sin is the instrument of his punishment, and his iniquity is turned into his torment.
~Augustine~

THURSDAY November 30, 2017

Sincerity and Truth

…but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

1 Corinthians 5:8

Paul exhorted the Corinthians to get rid of sin and to serve God in sincerity and truth. We too should fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth. These are two good characteristics in the Christian’s life. Joshua, before he died, challenged the people of Israel: Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth… (Joshua 24:14).

We need godly leaders who will stand and challenged us to examine our hearts and lives according to the principles of God’s Word. In our Christian walk, there will always be battles and temptations. Why? Satan wants to sift us. But God allows temptation in our lives as a spiritual test:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4).

If we fail the test, we shall have to retake the test until we pass it––remember that. Many people have to retake the test over and over. But when you pass the test, you will get to experience and see what God has prepared for you on the other side––it is incredible.

As you overcome the battles and temptations in your life, you will become a greater witness of the Gospel. When you remain steady and on course in your Christian walk, people will see your discipline and consistency. They will open up to share their lives with you because they have begun to trust you.

Are you serving God in sincerity and truth? Is your life a good testimony?

Though the power for godly character comes from Christ, the responsibility for developing and displaying that character is ours.
~Jerry Bridges~

WEDNESDAY November 29, 2017

Purging of Sin

Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness…

1 Corinthians 5:8

Paul had asked for a purging of sin––leaven. The Corinthians needed to get rid of all the leaven in the camp. Remember, leaven in Scripture is always a type of sin. Paul had also given to the Corinthian believers some deep insights into the symbolic meaning of Christ as their Passover (Exodus 12; 1 Corinthians 5:6-7).

Seriously, think of all the sin in the church today, and how one little sin can affect a whole church! It is no wonder that the Holy Spirit cannot do an effective work! Sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). God is still moving, but not in the way he used to move.

I remember going to afterglow services at Calvary Costa Mesa and watching God work. People were healed and were baptized in the Holy Spirit and were speaking in other languages––the power was amazing! If you came to any service, you would see cars parked on MacArthur Blvd., all the way from the 405 freeway. When you got off the freeway, parked and walked up to Calvary Chapel, you felt the Holy Spirit––you felt the presence of God––I remember that clearly!

Everywhere you went, you felt the power of the Holy Spirit. I would see Hippies witnessing to other people in the streets and in the parks about the Lord. But this generation has become silent. Why? Because of sin; they really have nothing to say––there is no power. The only way to witness is through God’s Holy Spirit. He is the One who can empower us.

How we need to return to the holiness of God!

There is not a better evangelist in the world than the Holy Spirit.
~D. L. Moody~

TUESDAY November 28, 2017

A Godly Rebuke

Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

1 Corinthians 5:6-7

What is leaven? It is the yeast in the bread––a symbol of impurity––sin. Paul was saying, “You have to cleanse the camp.” He then brought in Christ, as he took the Corinthians back to the Passover in Exodus 12.

God was bringing upon Egypt a tenth plague––the death of the firstborn. God commanded His people to kill a lamb at twilight, and its blood was to be sprinkled on the doorposts. The Lord would see the blood, and He would pass over the homes of those who believed. In Scripture, the Passover is symbolic of the Cross of Jesus Christ, His death, His redemption and His atonement for our sins.

In remembrance of the people’s deliverance from Egypt, God commanded a memorial be kept––the Feast of Unleavened Bread:

‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations… Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel’ (Exodus 12:14-15).

In the Book of Joshua, Achan brought sin into the camp and caused Israel’s defeat in battle. He sinned against the Lord when he took clothing, silver and gold from the spoils of war and hid them under his tent (Joshua 7:20-21, 25). In the Book of Acts, Ananias and Sapphira both lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11). What did God do? In judgment, He killed them!

We need to remove the leaven––sin from our lives. God might not kill us, but He will chasten us––big time!

By chastening, the Lord separates the sin that he hates from the sinner whom he loves.
~Anonymous~

MONDAY November 27, 2017

Delivered to Satan

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

1 Corinthians 5:4-5

Wow! What did Paul mean deliver such a one to Satan? The person who had fallen into sin in the Corinthian Church was a Christian––right? Yes! Paul spoke with boldness and called for this person to be excommunicated. He told the Corinthians to let Satan have him. Let him break him! Why? In doing so, God would allow the Devil to chasten him in such a way that he would either run back to the Lord, broken over his sin, or he would go back into the world and serve the Devil.

Not everybody in the church is walking in the Spirit. Excommunication is biblical; it is what we must do to discipline people who sin in the church. Do we have a right to do that? Yes! Paul tells us what to do. We ask them not to fellowship here anymore––to leave––until they get right with God, or they will infect others in the church.

We are much more interested in the spiritual man, hoping he will repent and be restored. They cannot come back until they get right with God. Why? If you leave them in the church, and they continue to sin, as a carnal person, they will cause tremendous damage in the church.

What was the root problem of the man in sexual sin with his step-mother? His flesh! This man had yielded to his fleshly desires. Paul has given to us the book of Romans, and in Chapter 5-8, he dealt with the subject of reckoning the old man to be dead––death to self. Read it!

What a blessing it is to have spiritual people in the church!

Spirituality begins to have real meaning in our lives as we begin to exhibit simultaneously the holiness of God and the love of God.
~Frances Schaeffer~

SUNDAY November 26, 2017

A Problem with Pride

And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.

1 Corinthians 5:2-3

Paul started out 1 Corinthians 5 by rebuking the Corinthians; they had become arrogant––they had a problem with pride. Paul was also upset because here was a growing church that God wanted to use, but there was sin in the camp. So how could God move through the leadership, the pastors and the congregation?

Paul let the Corinthians know he knew things were definitely wrong, and, although absent, he had already judged the person sleeping with his step- mother. Why? Paul knew God’s Word and what needed to be done; he was there with them in spirit––as if in person.

Notice how Paul was a man that was led by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who leads, guides and empowers our lives––not the flesh. Do you realize what sin will do? The Bible is very clear. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30), so He cannot do His effective work.

Understand, people do not respect Christians who go see dirty movies, watch pornography, or listen to worldly music. You cannot be two people. You must be the same person wherever you go. That is what the Bible teaches. Do not bring sin into the church; there needs to be holiness in the camp. God does not mess around. He will judge you if you are being prideful or acting like a hypocrite in the church. You cannot hide from God. The Lord will not be mocked.

There is nothing that human pride resents so much as to be rebuked.
~G. B. Duncan~

SATURDAY November 25, 2017

No Shame of Face

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!

1 Corinthians 5:1

The Corinthian church was operating and blossoming; it was a church full of people. But the pastors, leaders and the people were allowing sin to run rampant in the church. Paul had heard the report that was circulating of sexual immorality in the church. Remember, the word report means “common knowledge.” So, although the sin was well known, they had not confronted or rebuked the person for sleeping with his step-mother; they just let it go.

This church had a problem. The leadership was sick, and the people had become like the leadership. It was just as the Scripture Hosea 4:9, taught: like people, like priest––remember that. The Corinthians had become so carnal, and Paul corrected them. He told the Corinthian believers that they had no shame. How could they allow sin in the church when it was God’s holy place?

The Church is a place for people to come to learn God’s Word. Christians are taught, and, as they mature, they are commissioned to go out and reach the world for Jesus Christ. Think about it; the Church is on a mission! My mission has never changed. When I was called by the Lord and put into the ministry, I knew exactly where I was heading. I knew that God had anointed my life, and I aligned myself with His purposes.

Yet, think of how many people have been disqualified because of sexual sin. Christian leaders in the Church drink, lie, steal, fornicate and commit adultery. They try to stay in ministry, pretending as if nothing is wrong. They have no shame of face––no shame!

We can certainly bring shame to the name of Christ by our bad witness.
~D.L. Moody~

FRIDAY November 24, 2017

Do Not Be Hypocritical

Your glorying is not good…

1 Corinthians 5:6

Paul had called for a separation from those in the church who were living in sin. The Corinthian believers should not fellowship with those who were in sin. They needed to cut fellowship with them until they repented.

Think of all the people who manipulate and excuse themselves of their sin while acting spiritual––that is hypocritical. No wonder there is no power in the church today. The Holy Spirit cannot do His effective work, and I am convinced that nothing is going to happen in the lives of people unless the church repents.

True repentance happens when the Holy Spirit convicts you. Then you repent before God (1 John 1:9), and, if need be for accountability, you come forward privately and tell someone you trust, that you have messed up your life (James 5:16). If you sincerely confess your sin and what you have been doing, without hiding your sin, then that is evidence of the Holy Spirit working in your life.

But when somebody is caught in sin they have hidden, and they say they are sorry, often that is not true repentance. How can you trust that person? Especially when you find out they have been doing that particular sin for many years? That is not repentance––my friend. If that person had not been caught in sin and held accountable, would they have continued doing the same sinful behavior?

Prayerfully, may today be a day of true change and true repentance where God’s people heed the warnings in the Word of God. Understand, the Holy Spirit can help each of us to live godly and holy lives.

Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
~Galatians 5:16~

THURSDAY November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving

…giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:20

Today is Thanksgiving, a time when families gather together to eat, fellowship and thank God for His faithfulness, blessings and provisions. Christians should always give thanks to God for all things, in the good times, and even in the bad (Job 1:21). We should especially thank Him for our salvation: In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

When the Pilgrims left England in 1620, in search of a new land where they could freely worship God, it was not an easy journey. When they arrived, it took time to establish a village at Plymouth. During the first winter, only half of the Mayflower’s passengers and crew survived.

However, in God’s providence, an Indian named Squanto from the Pawtuxet tribe came to meet them. Years earlier, he had been kidnapped by an English Captain and sold into slavery. Squanto had returned to his land, and because he had learned English, he was able to communicate with the Pilgrims. He showed them how to plant corn, extract sap from maple trees, and catch fish in the rivers.

The Pilgrims had their first Thanksgiving feast in November 1621. Governor William Bradford invited Native Americans, including Chief Massasoit from the Wampanoag tribe. It was not until 1863, during the Civil War, that Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving:

…I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

What will you thank God for this Thanksgiving?

Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
~Psalm 100:4~

WEDNESDAY November 22, 2017

Destroy the Flesh, Save the Spirit

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

1 Corinthians 5:4-5

Paul instructed the church that this erring brother, who was sleeping with his step-mother, needed to be excommunicated until he repented. Just as parents must discipline their children in love, so the local church needs to be able to discipline a brother or sister in sin––fully and completely.

We are living in the gutter today––living lives of sin. The thoughts and imaginations of men are so corrupt. Sexual immorality happens both in the church and outside the church. I am shocked over the things I have seen and heard in the church. It is causing problems everywhere we go!

However, church discipline is not a group of pious policemen out to catch a criminal. Rather, it is a group of broken-hearted brothers and sisters seeking to restore an erring member in the family of God. When there is true repentance, we want to restore that person and bring them back into the fold––not throw them out.

Men and women can fall spiritually when tempted with sex, but they can also fall into sin with money or pride. Seriously, there are so many things in this world to entrap them. I understand there is not one perfect person in the church, but human imperfection should never be an excuse for sin.

You can tell when a person is sincere when they repent, because they are mournful over what they have done. You can see their hearts––they come to church broken. Do you need to come before the Lord broken and mournful over your sin?

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart— these, O God, You will not despise.
~Psalm 51:17~

TUESDAY November 21, 2017

Judge the Matter

….that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.

1 Corinthians 5:3

It was while Paul was away that he had heard about the sexual immorality in the Corinthian church. He knew about a man sleeping with his step-mother, and it had become common knowledge among the Corinthian believers; yet, nobody was doing anything about it. Paul needed to address the issue, as the leadership was not standing for righteousness; there was no true holiness in the church.

If a man is called to be in the ministry, they need to have integrity and walk in holiness. They should not counsel women alone or continually, and it should be in public, when other people are there––never alone. For accountability, men should not go out to lunch with other women. It is important to have accountability and integrity in our lives.

I personally do not go to movies; I have made that decision in my life. Why? If I was buying popcorn and there was a bad movie playing, even though I was not going to see that movie, people might see me, not knowing which movie I was going to––then there goes my witness. I am a shepherd––a pastor. I need to count the cost if I want the power of the Holy Spirit to preach. As a pastor, I need to be an example and live what I preach. I have to watch what I do and where I go. Remember, “to much is given, much more is required.” You need to live the Christian life too.

Be careful, because once people see you compromising, they will mark you for the rest of your life as an ungodly person who walks in the flesh and not in the Spirit. Understand that whatever you are doing it is in front of God. He is the one who sees; He is the one who hears; He is omnipresent. God keeps the records––not me.

What kind of movies do you watch? What kind of music do you listen to?

Abstain from every form of evil.
~1 Thessalonians 5:22~

MONDAY November 20, 2017

Take the Right Action

And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned…

1 Corinthians 5:2

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, told them they had become puffed up––arrogant. They needed to take the right action and mourn over the sin in the church. Paul was also concerned because the Corinthian believers were falling into sexual sin with the temple prostitutes who would come out at night to seduce the men. They were not only able to persuade the non- believer, but believers to engage in sexual immorality.

I have seen too many men, young and old, fall into sexual sin. While living in a sinful world, we are still susceptible to our sinful nature. Falling into sexual sin can happen when you fall out of love with your wife, and a young girl comes up to talk to you, and you fall for her.

Men are often enticed with prostitutes because of lust. These women appeal to a man’s flesh because they might do things that other women might not do. Men are often tempted to watch pornography because it is so easy to access. Anyone can fall into this danger because of cell phones, computers, internet and movies. Men, and even women, can get caught going to these different websites––it is a big problem.

Seriously, if you are watching pornography, you will eventually mark yourself. It will stain your character and bring you into perversion. Did you know those images will always remain in your computer or cell phone? That is why a crime detective can seize a computer in your home or take your cell phone for evidence.

Some people can become prideful and hypocritical in hiding their sexual sin. But the key to repentance is to be sincerely mournful. Be honest––do you have a problem with pornography? Has it taken over your life? Satan knows your weaknesses, and he will use your sexual addiction to destroy you. Realize the dangers; take the right action and repent.

The thief [Satan] does not come except to steal,
and to kill, and to destroy…
~John 10:10~

SUNDAY November 19, 2017

Shocking Immorality!

…and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!

1 Corinthians 5:1

Notice how Paul made the distinction between the Gentiles and the Christians in his letter. He was shocked that nothing had been done about the ongoing immorality in the church. It was so bad that the unthinkable had happened; a man was having a sexual relationship with his step- mother! Think about that. It was shocking! In the world, it is to be expected; but the Corinthian church had accepted the same worldly attitude; they thought nothing of it, and they just let it go.

In the book of Proverbs, Chapters 5-7, 9, the Scripture speak about the whorish woman. She did not know God, and her life was empty. Whether married or single, she went about to fulfill her own agenda––to seduce men. She knew exactly how to draw away young, naive men to herself, or she looked for a husband who had problems at home with his wife. The whorish woman knew exactly what to say to entice them.

Men are very vulnerable and become easy prey. They fall into sin with women because they yield to the lust of their flesh. In fact, women do not have to be beautiful for them to fall into sin. Men are even willing to sell themselves out of their spiritual inheritance for lust. The Scriptures tell us: …by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; and an adulteress will prey upon his precious life (Proverbs 6:26).

It grieves and breaks my heart that so many men have fallen into sin with immoral women, and they keep on falling! This continues to be a real problem both inside and outside the church. Seriously, the best way not to fall prey to a seductive woman is to be in the Word of God––period.

Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
~Psalm 119:11~

SATURDAY November 18, 2017

Sexual Misconduct

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you…

1 Corinthians 5:1

Notice, there was no fear of God in the Corinthian church. The Corinthian believers had also lost their influence; they were no longer salt and light in their community. They had become utterly disgraceful. Did they not believe in the judgment of God?

In Christ, we are supposed to be salt and light to the world. The Bible warns us not to flirt with sin. But even in our churches today, there are so many problems with sexual misconduct. There are opportunities to fall into sexual sin, all the time.

Prostitutes stand on corners and wait for an opportunity to seduce men.

I knew a man who thought he would never get picked up for paying to be with a prostitute. But the woman he chose to solicit was an undercover police woman. He got caught and put in jail. Yet, there are men who think, “It will never happen to me.” But if you do not have a guard, it is easy to sin. I guarantee it will happen in your weakest moment as you take your eyes off the Lord, or when you are not in the Word of God, you will fall.

Falling into sexual sin can be as easy as meeting a woman in a grocery store, or when a waitress becomes friendly with you. If you decide to keep going back to that same restaurant, before you know it, you have begun a relationship; and, in the end, you will be sleeping with her! When you fall, it will affect your family, friends, and those whom you work with. They will not trust you anymore. They will think, “He might do it again.” Then you are marked. If only men would stop to think of the consequences.

Therefore, it is good to be with other godly men, so that you have accountability and integrity in your Christian walk.

Nowhere does the Bible teach that sex in itself is sin. But from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible condemns the wrong use of sex.
~Billy Graham~

FRIDAY November 17, 2017

The Heart of a Shepherd

Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

1 Corinthians 4:18-21

Paul finished 1 Corinthians 4 with a final exhortation, as there were still issues of pride among the believers––so much so that there remained those who thought Paul would not come to them. Sometimes Paul needed to use the rod of correction––the Word of God. Depending on their response to his letter to them, he may not have needed to rebuke them, but he could come in love and gentleness.

Notice how Paul lived by the will of God. He was so genuine because he was always directed by the Holy Spirit. If Paul came to them, it would be in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in the power and might of this world.

Paul posed a good question: “Should I come and discipline you or shall I come in love and in a spirit of gentleness?

Paul had a heart of a shepherd when he cared for the flock of God. Why? Because he loved the people––just as I love the people of God today.

Paul, before he left for Rome to face his death, exhorted the Ephesian elders as shepherds––those who were called to be pastors over the flock of God:

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock (Acts 20:28-29).

Seriously, we need to be thankful for the faithful men of God who fulfill their call to shepherd God’s people.

…I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
~Jeremiah 3:15~

THURSDAY November 16, 2017

Imitate Me

Therefore I urge you, imitate me. For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.

1 Corinthians 4:16-17

Paul urged the Corinthian believers to imitate him. Why? Paul had imitated Christ. Timothy was a great help to Paul; he was like a son to him. Paul had trained him in the ministry. As a loving father, Paul exhorted and corrected Timothy to get him back on track:

Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you (1 Timothy 4:14-16).

Paul sent Timothy to the Corinthians. When he arrived, he would be able to personally share with them about Paul, and he would tell them of Paul’s integrity in ministry.

As a Christian, it is important to be a man or woman of integrity. We are to imitate Christ in all that we say and do:

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma (Ephesians 5:1).

It should be our aim in life to always be pleasing to God (Hebrews 13:6).

By this I know that You are well pleased with me, because my enemy does not triumph over me. As for me, You uphold me in my integrity,
and set me before Your face forever.
~Psalm 41:11-12~

WEDNESDAY November 15, 2017

A Father’s Tenderness

I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

1 Corinthians 4:14-15

Paul was like a father, he was not putting the Corinthians down or shaming them; he was telling them the reality of living the Christian life. He spoke to them with the tender mercies of a father. Paul saw them as his children; he had begotten them through the good news of the Gospel.

Notice God’s love in Paul’s heart, as if he said to them, “How many teachers care for you like I care for you?” He warned them about their carnality and that there was no security for tomorrow. Paul knew that if they did not listen to him, he at least had warned them. He sincerely cared for the believers’ walk in Christ. Observe how Paul greeted Timothy: …a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Timothy 1:2).

It is important to understand that God’s character is that of a loving Father. As Christians, we are set apart from the world. The Lord treats us as His sons and daughters:

“Come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord. “Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).

We have been adopted by God through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5). We are the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8). Yet, God, as our Father, will lovingly correct us (Hebrews 12:6-11). As a Father, He has shown us His mercy.

As a father pities his children,
So the LORD pities those who fear Him.
~Psalm 103:13~

TUESDAY November 14, 2017

The Filth of the World

Being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.

1 Corinthians 4:13

Paul spoke to the Corinthian believers with great humility, much like Peter who taught us to be clothed with humility: …be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). The ministry was a call of God; it was not an occupation. Again, Paul taught them that ministers of the Gospel were not to seek popularity or seek to have their names in lights.

He explained that the Christian life is often just the opposite. Paul and the other apostles were defamed and mistreated, as the filth of this world. Hebrews 11:36-38 describes the scenes of how Christians were being treated:

Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

Are any of these things happening to you? Underline the word filth in your Bible (1 Corinthians 4:13). Understand that, at times, Christians are treated like rubbish. You have to count the cost of the Christian life; it is not always easy. When things get difficult, you need to be able to trust God. As those who believed in Christ before us, we need to understand that we are not of this world; God has provided something better for us (Hebrews 11:10).

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths.
~Proverbs 3:5-6~

MONDAY November 13, 2017

Christian Endurance

To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure.

1 Corinthians 4:11-12

The Apostle Paul gave a perilous view of Christianity. He told the Corinthians what real ministry resembled. Paul was a good steward. He worked with his own hands as a tentmaker, for hours. He provided for his own needs, and then he preached the Gospel. Often he experienced hardship, hunger and thirst. He endured many trials and persecution. You see, Paul lived in very depressing times, when Rome ruled and Christians were horrifically persecuted.

It is important to understand the lessons about the Christian life as seen in the Bible, especially if you are going to be a leader. People need strong leaders; they do not respect weak leaders. In times of great trial and temptation, a leader must be strong so others can see the Lord’s strength and grace working in their lives.

Paul had an affliction and prayed to the Lord for it to be taken away, but the Lord told him: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul declared to others:

Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

We live in difficult times; many Christians are still being persecuted throughout the world today. Even in your weakness, those around you will come to know that you trust in Christ.

…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…
~Hebrews 12:1-2~

SUNDAY November 12, 2017

Fools for Christ

We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, But we are dishonored!

1 Corinthians 4:10

Paul needed to reeducate the believers in Corinth, as if to say, “As ministers of the Gospel, I am going to tell you who we really are.” The ministry is not about popularity; it is about suffering and even death. They had lifted themselves up, thinking they were wise, strong and distinguished. But Paul reminded them that they were nothing. In reality, they had never tasted the sufferings of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Paul knew the cost of ministry. It was not a place of comfort or a place for anyone to enrich themselves. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, Paul gave to them the true perspective of following Christ:

…in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness…

During the time of the Roman Empire, Christians refused to profess Caesar as Lord, and, as a result, many Christians were put to death. It is believed that when Paul faced death in Rome before the Roman Emperor Nero, he had said, “Jesus Christ is Lord!” Then, Paul was beheaded.

A crown is not given to you until you have been to the cross.
~Raul Ries~

SATURDAY November 11, 2017

Veterans Day

“How the mighty have fallen,and the weapons of war perished!”

2 Samuel 1:27

Today is Veterans Day, and, once again, Americans will remember those who have bravely served our country. At first, this day was called Armistice Day, and on November 11, 1919, it marked the anniversary of the end of World War 1. A resolution was passed in Congress, and beginning November 11, 1926, it became an annual observance. Later, in 1938, it became a national holiday. In 1954, Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

During the final days of the Civil War, President Lincoln gave a stirring speech to help turn the tide of bitterness and disunity in the country. He hoped to bring about lasting unity and reconciliation among the people:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

In 1959, two metal plaques were placed by the entrance to the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Inscribed were the words: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” These words have become the VA motto. The government was obligated to care for those who had been injured during the war and to provide for the families of those who had died in battle.

To care for him who shall have borne the battle.
~Abraham Lincoln~

FRIDAY November 10, 2017

A Spectacle for Christ

For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.

1 Corinthians 4:9

Paul once again gave to the Corinthian believers the correct perspective of ministry. The ministry is a place of suffering. As an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul was willing to be a spectacle. This is where we get our English word “theater.” Paul was willing to die for Christ, as if put on display in the eyes of earthly men and heavenly angels. If the apostles were put to death, men and angels would see it and hear about it.

Notice what Paul says: the apostles were last––not first––last, as men condemned to death. They were nothing; the apostles were appointed to death! Paul knew that the world hated and despised him and the apostles of Christ. If they were killed, Paul said in confidence: For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21). When Paul died, he would be alive before the Lord. You see, Paul and the apostles already knew who they believed in, and they knew their Savior, and they knew what they had been called to do.

Paul and the other apostles were not going to give in to the world. They would not compromise with carnal Christians in the church. It was as if he told the believer in Corinth, “We are not going to dance to your tune or play your game.”

Seriously, the ministry is not what people think it is. It is not a place of promotion––it is a place of suffering. Who do we minister to? We minister to suffering people who need the Lord.

No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar, but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness
and spiritual sterility.
~A. W. Tozer~

THURSDAY November 9, 2017

Pride and Popularity

You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you!

1 Corinthians 4:8

Paul has taught me so much in these epistles. He was burning with passion, as he wrote to the Corinthians with all of his heart. He told them they were already full and rich, but he was being sarcastic. Paul wanted nothing to do with those who had popular sections in the church. The people were not appreciative of Paul or the other apostles. However, Paul did not care; he knew God and what the Lord had done through the apostles.

To their shame, he addressed them as if they were ruling as kings! Paul was literally saying, “So you think you have got it all!” Yet, Paul did not even think of himself that way, neither did Peter. Should Paul reign with them? Never! Paul wanted nothing to do with their pride––he would always be a part of Christ.

Humility is the key to usefulness; if you really want to be used by God, you have to be humble. You cannot have a haughty attitude. It is important to know the heartbeat of Jesus Christ, the One who has called you, anointed you and is sending you to do the work of God. It is not your work; it is not your foundation; Jesus is our foundation––He is the Rock!

Time changes, but the teaching the Word of God is the most important thing. I do not trust anything experience oriented; I do not want any of that. The Word of God brings me to a place of stability––a balanced life in the Lord. Jesus is the Word––the logos––it is incredible.

Are you drawn away to be a part of the prideful and popular crowds? Stay uncompromised and remain with those who love the simplicity of the Word of God.

Be attractive and winsome, but do not compromise your convictions for the sake of popularity.
~ Billy Graham~

WEDNESDAY November 8, 2017

Why Boast?

For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

1 Corinthians 4:7

One of the things Paul noticed in the Corinthian church, and as he traveled through Galatia and the other cities, was that many people were full of pride. He knew one of the missing ingredients in so many of the leaders’ lives was––humility. Paul the Apostle began 1 Corinthians 4:7, with three important questions that needed to be answered by the believers.

We need to recognize that it is God who has anointed us for the work of the ministry. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. He opens the doors and shuts the doors. It is not about us, it is about Him––Jesus Christ. We must live in the present, teaching, leading and discipling people with the same common vision that was given to us. But we cannot take the credit.

In the book of Philippians, Paul poured out his heart to the believers. He taught in Philippians 2:5-8, that Christ is the greatest example of humility:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Men love to take the credit––that is pride. We cannot boast. Again, we are nothing; it is God who gives us the knowledge, the passion and the spiritual insights. If we are going to serve the Lord, we need humility in our hearts, otherwise, we cannot serve him––there is no possible way.

True humility is a kind of self-annihilation;
and this is the centre of all virtues.
~John Wesley~

TUESDAY November 7, 2017

Learn Not to Be Puffed Up

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.

1 Corinthians 4:6

It seems that in the ministry, and in other different work places, people want to climb the ladder of success. Yet, God created and knew each one of us before we came out of our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16). The Lord was watching over you and already knew who you were going to become. He is God. Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior have been given gifts and talents; God has a work for them to do.

Paul was chosen to become an apostle, one born out of due season,

so there would be a balance in the apostleship (I Corinthians 15:8). He gave us balance in doctrine––fourteen letters to teach and disciple us. God prepared Paul. God told Ananias that He had a purpose for Paul’s life. He became obedient to the call of God and entered into the ministry.

When you realize that we are nothing, and it is God who has done the work, there is no reason to get puffed up. We should not think we are better than another person. We always need to be attached to the Lord, not man. We do our best and let God do the rest. Then God brings us peace of mind. We are at peace with ourselves and with everybody else.

We need to have an attitude of humility and not be puffed up with pride.

Pride can be so subtle. If you have stopped receiving from other people, and you are no longer teachable, then you have a problem with pride. We should never demean others. We need to be content and not be in competition with others.

Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition
is gone, pride is gone.
~C.S. Lewis~

MONDAY November 6, 2017

Making Good Judgments

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.

1 Corinthians 4:5

As you read and study Paul’s letters, you can see he was quite a person. He sat under one of the greatest Jewish teachers, Gamaliel; a professor of that time, concerning the Law and the Scriptures. Paul was a great intellect; he soaked in the Word of God and became a zealous Jew, persecuting the church. Yet, you can see, when he became a Christian, how God transformed his life and gave him a real heart to take the Gospel to the lost.

In writing his letters, Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians, he really exposed the sin in the Church. We know that Corinth was a party city with a thousand prostitutes, who would come down and seduce both those in the church and the non-believers. When you go to Corinth, the Bema Seat is still there today; this is where Corinthians would go for judgment. Though there was much judgment given in the city, the Corinthian believers were not judging themselves by examining their own behavior.

Paul wanted to be direct and straightforward as he wrote to the church in Corinth. He did exactly what God had called him to do. He informed and exhorted them concerning their carnality. He addressed the sharp divisions over choosing different teachers, such as Apollos and Cephas. Paul gave to them the right perspective; these teachers had roles in God’s plan to plant and water. It was the Lord who gave the increase. God should get all the glory (1 Corinthians 3:4-8).

God does not want us to be divided in the church; He wants us to be centralized in the Gospel of Jesus Christ––in Christ Himself.

Yes, it is Christ, Christ, Christ, whom we have to preach; and if we leave Him out, we leave out the very soul of the Gospel.
~C H Spurgeon~

SUNDAY November 5, 2017

Learn to Be Faithful

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

1 Corinthians 4:2

Stewards of God have to be faithful. Paul first defined what a servant means. What is incredible is this word servant means “an under rower.” Paul, as a servant of Christ, made the clarification that he had submitted himself to become an under rower of Jesus Christ. Paul is also saying a believer in Christ is not the captain of the ship. I like that!

In the Roman times, the under rower was a slave on the lower deck of a ship. He would be chained with other slaves. It was the worst place to be, as it was hot and humid, and they were often beaten. These men had to work really hard to get to shore.

Then, as Paul continued to speak about faithfulness and stewardship, he wanted the believers to understand the unity of everyone working together as servants and stewards of the mysteries of God––the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

At Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, Chuck would place men in janitorial work. Romaine was the main person who would oversee these young men as janitors, doing church maintenance. As servants of Christ, they had to learn to serve without murmuring and complaining. These men learned first to be servants, as they sat and learned under Chuck Smith, and today, many have become pastors in different places all over the country.

When it comes to faithfulness, if you are faithful in the little things, God will make you greater in the bigger things. He is in charge; we have to get that into our minds. If you never learn to be a servant––an under rower–– you will never become a steward. You will never take care of God’s things. God only trusts faithful people. You have to be faithful to God, because you are dealing with the eternal––not the temporal.

Faithful in little = Faithful in much.
~D. L. Moody~

SATURDAY November 4, 2017

The Nature of True Servanthood

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

1 Corinthians 4:1

In 1 Corinthians 4:1-6, Paul directed his letter more to the pastors. Paul spoke about the false view of superiority in the church. The believers needed a clear picture of what a true pastor should be like. Paul put a stop to the division caused by choosing favorite leaders. He wanted people to become lovers of God––not man.

Paul the Apostle was never in a box, and for that reason, he was criticized and put down. People did not like him. He had suffered so much in his ministry as he preached the Gospel. Yet, Paul had such great friends like Luke the physician, Apollos, Cephas and Peter, whom Paul had to rebuke (Galatians 2:11).

Paul was never a man-pleaser even until the day he died. He truly believed in God. He never bowed his knees to anyone or compromised. Paul did not want to be like Peter or Apollos; he wanted to be like Christ––that was always his main emphasis.

Yet, some pastors believe they are better than the sheep––God’s people. It is a strange concept that some pastors can have; they live to enrich themselves. The sheep serve the pastor, rather than the pastor serving the sheep. Yet, the pastor is no better than the sheep.

There are those people who will worship the pastor and do everything for him. They really do not have an opportunity to serve the Lord in the way God intended for them. A pastor should never Lord it over the people. They are called to serve the people. It is about people’s souls. People die every single day; they are going to hell––by the multitudes––so sad.

The preaching that this world needs most is the sermons in shoes that are walking with Jesus Christ.
~D. L. Moody~

FRIDAY November 3, 2017

God Is My Judge

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.

1 Corinthians 4:3-4

Paul now addressed his enemies, those Jews who had come against him. He did not judge himself; he believed there was nothing in his life to which they can point a finger. Paul knew that eventually he would be judged by the Lord. One day God would open up the books and judge. Paul had such a heart for God that he poured out love to them. He was more concerned about eternity, because once his enemies died, then they would face eternity––they would be lost forever.

We may judge each other, but, in the end, God is the one who judges us. If you are a Christian, you should never feel condemned. But if you are living a life of sin, know that what you are feeling is not condemnation, but conviction. When you are doing something wrong, in your conscience and mind, you know!

The Holy Spirit will convict you! Conviction should lead you to repentance; it will get you back on the right road! The Devil likes to condemn people; God does not do that. Condemnation makes you get sorrowful and melancholy, and you will not have God’s peace in your life. Paul the Apostle tells us: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1).

If we are believers in Jesus Christ we have already come through the storm of judgement. It happened at the cross.
~Billy Graham~

THURSDAY November 2, 2017

Be Faithful

Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

1 Corinthians 4:2

Paul wanted the believers in Corinth to understand that, as a servant––an under rower, and a steward––a house manager, they would need to be obedient to God in the oversight of the small things He had given to them. Then, God could make them a steward over greater things.

Faithfulness is found all the way through the Scriptures. Underline this one word in 1 Corinthians 4:2––faithful. In the Old King James it means trustworthy. Can you be trusted with whatever God gives to you? As stewards in the kingdom of God, if you are married, think of the responsibility as a husband you have to your wife and your children. If you are a grandfather, you have the responsibility to be an example to your grandchildren.

A servant of God has such a big responsibility to lead other people by their example––to much is given, much more is required. You can only lead people as far as God has taken you––bottom line. Remember that one day we are going to have to give an account for our wives, children, bank accounts, and for all God has given to us. So it is really important, in the sight of the Lord, to manage all He has given us the best way we can, because we shall have to give an answer to God.

As a servant of God, memorize this important principle: if you are faithful in the small things, God will make you a steward over bigger things. It is really important as a servant to learn how to lead faithfully. Remember, God calls us, and He opens and closes the doors. He is the one who promotes, and He is the one who takes down. Galatians 5:22 tells us: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness… So be faithful in what He has called you do.

Fruit that is never out of season: faithfulness
~John Maxwell~

WEDNESDAY November 1, 2017

Servants of Christ

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewardsof the mysteries of God.

1 Corinthians 4:1

Paul taught the Corinthian believers that they were servants. They were likened to those men who were under rowers on large ships, or like stewards––house managers. A steward was a person who was in charge of a household. Everything in the house that belonged to the owner was entrusted to them to oversee. The Corinthian believers were servants of God, who had revealed to them the Lord’s mysteries––they were entrusted with Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are also His servants, entrusted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Can you believe the responsibility we have? God has basically said to us,

“Now, here you are; manage the things I have given to you.” Think of how many people mismanage what God has given to them. How can He move us on to the next level if we are not faithful stewards? How can he take us to the next place in doing the will of God?

Imagine, God did not entrust to us a million dollars, as we might miss manage or misspend it; he gave us more than a million dollars. He gave us the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is far better than money. The Gospel is the most valuable thing in the world. It is the greatest thing––there is nothing more valuable than that.

God has also revealed to us His mysteries by His Spirit: But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10). Christians, through the Holy Spirit, understand the mystery of the Gospel––the message of the cross.

The blindness of unbelievers in no way detracts from the clarity of the gospel; the sun is no less bright because blind men
do not perceive its light.
~John Calvin~

TUESDAY October 31, 2017

Camp Jubilee

And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.

Leviticus 25:10

Today, at Calvary Chapel Golden Springs, we celebrate Camp Jubilee!

Interestingly, the word Jubilee is a biblical word stemming from Jewish culture. There is some debate whether the celebration happened every forty nine years, or fifty years. The year of Jubilee followed the last year of seven Sabbatical cycles and was announced by a blast from a shofar; (an instrument made from a ram’s horn), on the Day of Atonement.

Men who had become poor or in debt could sell their land or become slaves themselves; their land or freedom would be returned, and any debt would be cancelled in the year of Jubilee. It became a time of great emancipation in Israel. Then God would be remembered as a God of mercy (Leviticus 25:8-13; 47, 55).

This is the wonderful, biblical backdrop for the vison of Camp Jubilee. It which was established when God commissioned Sharon, Pastor Raul’s wife, as a young mother, to protect her children and the children of the church from the evil events taking place on the LORD’S day, October 31. God instructed her to take back His day and celebrate the victories of the LORD of Hosts.

Now think about your sin. It took the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on the cross, to bring about your great emancipation. In God’s mercy, your sins are forgiven; Jesus Christ paid a debt you could not pay.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses . . . God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
~Colossians 2:13-14 ESV~

MONDAY October 30, 2017

We Are Christ’s

…For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

1 Corinthians 3:21-23

In this chapter, Paul left the Corinthian believers on a good note. They are were to be comforted because they were in Christ, and He is in God. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the cross. Without the cross there would be no preaching, and we would be hopeless (1 Corinthians 15:14-19).

God can give a person such a passion to preach and share the Gospel it becomes a fire burning within them which cannot be quenched. This passion can only come through the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter preached the cross with boldness and authority when giving a defense for a man that was healed in Jesus’ name. The Holy Spirit empowered him:

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole” (Acts 4:8-10).

If every person in our three Sunday services would be on fire for the Lord and share the message of the cross, do you think our church would be just standard? No way! On Sunday and Wednesday nights there would be three thousand people; every night the church would jam-packed. Why? People would be zealous; they would have the fire of God in their hearts. They would desire to be in church to learn the Word of God, and then they would go out into their communities to win people for Christ.

We are Christ’s; it is by the grace of God we are saved. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we, too, can share the message of the cross with others.

You do not understand Christ until you understand his cross.
~P. T. Forsyth~

SUNDAY October 29, 2017

Man’s Futile Wisdom

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness” and again, “The LORD knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” Therefore let no one boast in men…

1 Corinthians 3:19-21

The Apostle Paul quoted from Isaiah 44:25, which tells us how God makes the worldly wise, utterly foolish: …Who turns wise men backward, and makes their knowledge foolishness. Paul cuts through the deception of worldly wisdom with the truth of God’s character. God is all wise, and, in comparison, man’s wisdom is not only foolish, but futile––empty.

Paul described the Lord’s character in a letter to Timothy: Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise… (1Timothy 1:17). God is Creator. He used infinite wisdom when He created the earth: The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens (Proverbs 3:19). It would be wise to fear God, which means to stand in awe of who He is: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

God, in His wisdom, chose to have the simple message of the cross preached throughout the world as the way of salvation: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). It is foolish to reject the Gospel! Yet, today, if a person stood and started to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ on a college campus, there would be many complaints. People hate the message of the cross; it offends them.

What is sad is that the professors who teach Bibliology classes in the colleges have become liberal; they do not believe in the inspiration of the Word of God. Many professors in the colleges think they are really smart, but, really they are very foolish. They only have limited knowledge, God has eternal knowledge, and He has always existed.

To God our Savior, who alone is wise,be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
~Jude 25~

SATURDAY October 28, 2017

Self-Deception

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.

1 Corinthians 3:18

Paul the Apostle was pouring out his heart to a carnal church. He had built on a solid foundation––Jesus Christ. Paul made clear in his letter to the Corinthians that the foundation for them to continue to build on was Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10-11). Then, Paul warned the believers about losing their eternal rewards. They were going to have to stand before the Lord to see if their works would endure the fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

The Corinthians needed to seriously consider their motives in serving Christ, and how they were using their gifts and talents. Would they be able to rule and reign with Christ in the future? Or would they just make it into heaven because salvation is a free gift of God? How would the way they lived their lives for Christ affect their rewards in eternity? If they truly had the right motives, the Lord would reward them in eternity!

As Paul continued his letter, he gave another warning about self-deception. Paul spoke to the congregation and exhorted them not to use worldly wisdom, but to rather become fools in the eyes of the world. In reality, they had become wise. Why? The cross of Christ to those who believe is the power of God to salvation (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Yet, people can still be deceived. Some person believe they can take drugs, cuss, drink alcohol and do all the things of the world, and still be able go to heaven because they are going to church and reading the Bible, but that is not true; it is only for those walking in holiness

(1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 6:9-10). This is the reality of life and eternity––it is not a game. It is important not to take advantage of the grace of God. Are you walking in holiness?

Without holiness there is no wholeness, no spiritual happiness —
and no heaven.
~John Blanchard~

The Temple of God

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Even though Paul was absent from the believers in Corinth, he still heard the rumors that circulated about them. They lived in the most sensual city in the whole world, and Paul knew they struggled with carnality, even to the point where they had allowed a man to be in sexual sin with his own step mother (1 Corinthians 5:1). Can you imagine their poor testimony?

As Paul instructed these immature believers, he told them that they were the temple of God. What did he mean? The word temple, was in reference to the Holy of Holies, covered by a veil, where the nation of Israel kept the Ark of the Covenant. The high priest would go into the Holy of Holies once a year, on the Day of Atonement, to offer the blood of a sacrifice and the incense on the mercy seat for the sins of the people (Exodus 26:31-35).

The priest would have to be consecrated. Why? Man was approaching God, and the Lord is a holy God. If there was any sin in his life, he would be killed by God instantly––think about that! Paul was saying to the Corinthians that God dwelt in them, and their bodies were no longer theirs, they belonged to God! They were to live holy lives––set apart for God.

Christians are those who have repented of their sins, accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and became born again of the Holy Spirit––God now dwells in them. We must take care of our temples––our bodies, physically, emotionally and, most importantly, spiritually. We too must live holy lives.

A holy God calls his people to holy living. It is inconceivable
that it should be otherwise.
~John Blanchard~

A Christian’s Enduring Works

If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

1 Corinthians 3:14-15

Paul continued to speak about the Bema Seat of Christ, where God will evaluate a Christian’s life. What will be tested by the fire? A Christian’s motives in serving the Lord, witnessing, and in their giving to God. If you have just played the Christian role in life, then all of your works were done in vain. At the Bema Seat of Christ, you will have nothing to show.

Then you will stand in the presence of God, totally naked, with nothing.

But you will still be in heaven. Why? Salvation is the free gift of God. We are not saved by works, but true faith brings true works that are lasting.

Seriously, there are Christians who have not served the Lord, or witnessed for Christ. They have not built spiritually in their lives. Instead, they spent their time building their lives physically and materially, when in reality, all those things are going to burn! Jesus taught His disciples:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).

There will be those who will just make it into heaven. But there is a standard in heaven where you will be able to rule and reign with Jesus Christ. I want God to use my life in eternity, as much as he used it on earth, so I can bring glory and honor to his name.

Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
~Revelation 20:6~

Tested by Fire

Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.

1 Corinthians 3:12-13

Paul spoke in reference to the Bema Seat of Christ, a time of judgment when every believer who has placed their faith and trust in God, will one day be judged for what they were entrusted to accomplish on earth. As children of the light, our works will be placed into the fire to test the value. We will either be rewarded, or we shall suffer the loss of our reward.

Interestingly, Paul started out, with the most valuable commodity––gold, and not the least valued material––straw. Everybody loves gold; it is very shiny and valuable. Today, it has become one of the most invested, precious metals. Yet, in the last days, gold will become worthless (James 5:1-6). Proverbs 11:4 tells us: Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

We know for sure that everyone who has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior has already had their sin taken care of at the cross. Christians will never stand before God to be judged for their sins:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).

Each and every one of us will die one day. Not one person will escape death, and after death, comes judgment: And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). No wonder God has placed such urgency and care for people in my heart.

We will go past the judgment seat of Christ in single file.
~John Blanchard~

Our Foundation is Jesus Christ

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:11

I have circled this verse in my Bible. I do not ever want to forget that the foundation is Jesus Christ––not Calvary Chapel, not Chuck Smith, not anybody else. Jesus Christ is the foundation––the Rock.

The Rock of our salvation is Jesus Christ; He is our foundation––amazing! Everything has to be centered in Christ. My testimony, life, giving, and teaching all have to be centered on Christ. The more of Christ, the better the ministry will be. When there is a solid foundation––built upon the Rock, Jesus Christ––there will be lasting fruit.

We need a solid foundation to build our lives on––which is Jesus Christ. Do not build on sand; you need solid ground if you are to stand against the storms that will come. In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus taught us an important parable:

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I [Jesus] will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

Be careful how you build. Examine the foundation; is it rock or sand?

“I have learned to kiss the waves that throw
me up against the Rock of Ages.”
~C. H. Spurgeon~

A Wise Master Builder

According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.

1 Corinthians 3:10

Paul gave us the key to why he was called to be in ministry––the grace of God! God’s free grace was given to him. Now he could build, using the Lord’s wisdom. Paul knew God used a whole team, not just one person. We are all a part of God’s building team––a part of the ministry. Paul finished this verse with a warning. We are responsible to God for the work we are given to do for Him. So, we need to be careful how we build.

Paul was an incredible person who stood as a great motivator, leader, teacher of theology, and a great defender of the faith. He could have gotten puffed up and gone on his own way. He was a Pharisee who sat at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), but he never boasted in himself. When Paul got saved, the first thing he did was to go to Arabia for three years to spend time with God (Galatians 1:18).

In my first four years of ministry, we had 25 people who met in our home, and then in our Kung Fu studio, for a Bible study. We never grew in size, but then, we were not looking for people to come to our study. We were content where God had us––happily teaching God’s Word. I never thought that Joe Salaiz, Dale Goddard, Ron Wilkins and I would become pastors! We were all friends who grew up together from Baldwin Park.

It was the Lord; He receives all the glory and all the honor. Who are we? We are nothing but dirt. But God has chosen to use us because He loves us, and He wants to use us as instruments of His righteousness.

So, if a person is used by the Lord to build further upon the foundation He has already laid, then they must give the glory to God.

A concern for the glory of God is the ultimate motive for Christian living.
~Anonymous~

SUNDAY October 22, 2017

Fulfilling God’s Ministry

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.

1 Corinthians 3:9

Paul used two metaphors––a field and a building. What does a farmer do with a field? He has to cultivate it in order for something to grow. Our lives need to be cultivated, spiritually. As we begin to cultivate our lives, we will grow and become mature. Imagine, I have been cultivating my life for over 40 years––amazing!

When Paul spoke about us being God’s building, he explained that as a Christian, even though you and I have an imperfect body, in that body, God lives; it has now become God’s temple. Paul develops these truths later in the chapter as he addressed the Corinthians about their sexual sin. They were giving God a black eye by the way they were living. Paul did not want the Corinthian believers to be destroyed by their carnality, so he took them under his wing as a spiritual father.

As a young pastor, Chuck Smith took me under his wing and watched over me like a spiritual father. He taught me and others within Calvary Chapel, by example. He shared that when he started ministry, he had nothing. He never had a salary, and he struggled for seventeen years. When he got out of seminary; he thought he was so cool. God humbled him. For a living, Chuck went and picked up dead bodies, so he could provide for his family.

Then he had an unexpected call from a member of a church of 25 people in Costa Mesa that was going to close. God not only called him there, but the Lord revealed to him that he would become a shepherd of many flocks. Through Chuck’s ministry, there are many Calvary Chapels. The Lord did the work; it was not Chuck Smith. Chuck fulfilled his ministry.

“Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord,
that you may fulfill it.”
~Colossians 4:17~

SATURDAY October 21, 2017

God Gives the Increase

I [Paul] planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

1 Corinthians 3:6-8

Paul wanted the church in Corinth to understand that, whether he planted or Apollos watered, they worked together as one. God uses human vessels––servants––to do the work in the ministry. The men God used were not gods to be worshiped, celebrities or anyone special. Paul reminded the believers that he and Apollos were nothing! God was the one who brought the increase.

It is God’s Church––His people. God adds people to a church, and sometimes He will subtract others. He does whatever He wants with people’s lives. Why? The success of any ministry is not dependent on any one person. Pastors and leaders are just like everybody else. They get up in the morning to take a shower and comb their hair. Leaders have the same problems we have.

So, why then do people place these men on platforms? That becomes idolatry––we cannot do that! Idolatry is the worship of something above God––be careful! If God uses a man to plant the seed of God’s Word or to water it, the glory must be given to the Lord.

Then, Paul introduced another important subject. He warned the Church about a day of judgment. We already know that the non- believer is going to the White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). But Paul developed the subject of the Bema Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9-10), when Christians will either gain or lose their reward. What we receive in heaven will depend on our attitudes and motives here on earth. Was it to build the kingdom of God?

The only kingdom that will prevail in this world is the kingdom
that is not of this world.
~Anonymous~

FRIDAY October 20, 2017

God’s Ministers

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?

1 Corinthians 3:5

Paul must have been grieved with the Corinthians. He wrote

1 Corinthians, an Epistle which had 16 chapters, to deal with their spiritual problems. Even though Paul was not in Corinth physically, he was pouring out his heart to these believers. He must have been very hurt over their lack of spiritual maturity.

The reason for their carnality was because they were immature; they had not matured spiritually. Therefore, Paul could not go very far with them.

The marks of carnality––strife, envy and divisions––were the things that divided the church. Paul reasoned with the Corinthians that they should not be divided over different teachers. Paul and Apollos were one––unified. They were just men––ministers, servants of the Lord––whom he used for His glory. In fact, God can use a donkey to speak to people!

Chuck Smith was approached by a pastor from another church who had taken his CDs and preached his sermons to his congregation. He asked Chuck if that was alright. He responded to him and explained that there was no problem. Why? Chuck told him whatever ministered to him through the study was God speaking to him––it was not Chuck. So there was nothing wrong with him using Chuck’s sermons, because it is the Holy Spirit who brings conviction to the heart of a person––it is not man’s doing.

God uses a man and through His Holy Spirit that man preaches a message to the hearts of people. The Holy Spirit speaks to the people. Pastors are just God’s instruments to get the Word of God out to them.

The minister is a servant.
~Chuck Smith~

THURSDAY October 19, 2017

The Cure for Carnality

…for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

1 Corinthians 3:3-4

Paul watched what was going on inside the church of Corinth. He came to the conclusion that almost everyone was carnal. The majority of the church was sick, and they needed doctoring. It was as if he had to give them the right medicine––the Word of God––but the church was rejecting it. Yet, the Word of God was the only thing that could heal them. They needed to return back to the Lord and stop the carnal things they had been doing.

I am stunned when I see what is happening inside the church and not so much outside the church––it really can shock you! People can sit in church every Sunday and Wednesday, as they listen to the Bible study, and still they commit gross sin––think about that!

Pastors are actually speaking to sinful people and giving them their medicine––the Word of God––but often they refuse to take it; they do not obey the Scriptures. You cannot force people to take their medicine, even though you know it is the only way to heal them. Christians need to allow God to work in their lives so they can become instruments of His righteousness. Jesus told the Pharisees: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2:17).

We are all born into sin––we have a sin nature. We are born spiritually dead (Romans 3:23). We are all in need of the Great Physician. Only Jesus can forgive our sins and give us life eternal (John 17:3). Will you repent of your sin and ask Jesus to make you well?

God never forgives sin without at the same time changing
the nature of the sinner.
~lain H. Murray~

WEDNESDAY October 18, 2017

Immaturity

I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able…

1 Corinthians 3:2

The Apostle Paul wrote about three different types of people: The non-believer, the Spirit filled believer, and the carnal Christian. A carnal Christian straddles the fence; they are influenced by their fleshly desires. They want to be a spiritual person, but at the same time, they lean more towards being a natural man––more carnal than spiritual.

Paul wanted to reach the world for Christ, but as he looked at the church in Corinth, he saw so many carnal people. They had their own agendas in life, created law suits against each other, were tolerating sexual immorality and caused confusion over spiritual gifts. Paul really exhorted the church about their carnality, because they were keeping other people from coming to Christ, instead of bringing them to Christ! What happened to their maturity?

Carnality is a reality in the church today––big time. When people have problems, I let them talk freely; and after about five minutes, I know exactly where they are at spiritually––just by listening to them. They are usually immature. The Church lacks maturity. A mature Christian creates unity in the body of Christ.

Like Paul, I want to reach the world for Jesus Christ. I thank God that I get opportunities to see and speak to people in the world every day. I do not want to lose contact with the outside world. I want to know what is going on in the world so I can minister to non-believers. I desire to see people’s hearts. I want to see what they think about the Church and about everything else that is currently going on in the world.

Are you keeping others away from Christ because of your carnality?

I believe that one reason why the Church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the Church.
~C.H Spurgeon~

TUESDAY October 17, 2017

Babes in Christ

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:1

Paul could not speak to those in Corinth as mature Christians. He described them as babes in Christ. What if you gave milk to a baby until they were ten years old? Think about how many Christians are like that! They have remained in an infant state, and they have not developed to the next level of their spiritual growth.

Many Christians are not where God wants them to be. They cannot even witness about their Christian faith. Yet, the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses study what they believe. When they come to your door, they can defend what they believe. But if you talk to Christians, it will sadden you. If you ask them to sit down and tell you what they believe about Jesus Christ or their faith, they do not know.

What if their neighbor came to ask them a question about the Bible? If they have not studied, they cannot answer. They would have to go ask their pastor. Yet, Christians need to read and study for themselves––bottom line. Why? If we do not study, pray and spend time with God, how are we going to be ready for God to use us? We will not be ready to witness to others when the opportunities come. God uses people who have the knowledge of Him. Besides, we are supposed to be ready to give anyone an answer to their questions about Christ:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15).

What kind of God do you serve? Do you know the attributes of God? That is theology! He is righteous, omnipotent, holy––eternal.

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
~Psalm 90:2~

MONDAY October 16, 2017

Having the Mind of Christ

For “Who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16

Paul tells us that we have the mind of Christ. Only those who have been born again of the Holy Spirit have the mind of Christ. We have His knowledge, wisdom and discernment. God will use people whose lives are full of the Holy Spirit! Understand, we are accountable and responsible to the Lord for the knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures.

The Apostle John spoke a lot about the Holy Spirit, especially in John 13-16. He also introduced the truth about sin, righteousness and the Devil (1John 3:4-10). As Christians, we have become empowered by the Holy Spirit to overcome the world, the flesh and the Devil (1 John 5:4). We are set apart and have become holy to the Lord. People around us will see a genuine transformation of our lives. They should not be stumbled by our carnality––our fleshly behavior––but as they see the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, they will be drawn to Christ and even convicted of their own sin.

Years ago, when I got saved, the Lord reminded me that I cannot convert anybody; it is the work of the Holy Spirit. What is the first thing He does? The Holy Spirit is “with” that person; He will not leave them alone. He convicts them of their sin. When a person accepts Jesus as their Savior, the Holy Spirit dwells “in” them. Then the Holy Spirit comes “upon” them and gives them the power to overcome sin and live the Christian life.

Eventually, everyone will come to a place where they will have to make a decision about Christ. They will either accept Jesus or reject Him. They will repent and become born again of the Holy Spirit, or they will continue to walk in their old, sinful life.

The mind of the unregenerate man can easily hear and mentally comprehend the facts set forth in the gospel, but only the Spirit of God can make the inward man experience the spiritual power of those truths.
~John G. Reisinger~

SUNDAY October 15, 2017

The Natural and Spiritual Man

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.

1 Corinthians 2:14-15

Paul gave to us doctrines that are very important. He spoke about the natural man––a person ruled by their body appetites, who does not understand the things of God. Man was created by God––spirit, soul and body––the spirit being dominant. When man sinned the body became dominant, so the order changed to––body, soul, then spirit. When a person is born again (John 3:5), the original order is restored back to––spirit, soul and body.

Christians have become regenerated, transformed and redeemed. They are justified by faith. A person having the Holy Spirit within them can now understand the things of God (John 14:17). We are so rich in Christ, not with money or material things, but with the spiritual things that God has given to us–––His love, grace and mercy. We are super rich––billionaires in the kingdom of God.

When we share the Gospel with other people, it is by the power of God’s Spirit working in our lives. They see the power of God in our speech and the way we act and come to Christ. Yet, some non-believers may get mad at us when we share with them about God. They may say, “Do not talk to me; I do not want to hear it!” But honestly, they do not understand––they are lost souls. We must continue to faithfully pray for them. If only they knew who they were rejecting. It is not us, they are rejecting Christ.

So, if a person will not accept what you are saying, do not get offended. Everything has to do with Christ, not you. Do not get hurt. Know that you are called to be a disciple of Jesus Christ––period.

I could not bear to be an ‘ignoramus’ or an ‘agnostic’ about God! I must have a God! I cannot do without him.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

SATURDAY October 14, 2017

Comparing Spiritual Things

These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

1 Corinthians 2:13

Imagine if the Jewish leaders would have understood the Scriptures; they would never have put Jesus Christ to death on the cross. They crucified the Messiah, Christ, because they were ignorant and foolish. The Pharisees and Scribes were the religious leaders, but they did not understand the Scriptures or the supernatural things of God.

Yet, Paul, Peter and James had an incredible factor in their lives––the wisdom of God. Paul spoke about the interaction between the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, all believers can now compare spiritual things with spiritual. As we study and memorize God’s Word, the Holy Spirit educates us. When we share the Gospel with other people, the Holy Spirit is able to bring back into our minds the Scriptures. It is as if we have become walking encyclopedias.

In some churches, the pastor will teach topically. He chooses his favorite topics in the Bible to teach, but then you only have a part of the Gospel. When you read the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament, you will go through every subject, as you cover the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. This is a balanced teaching of the Bible, because believers receive the full counsel of God.

Christians can open up their Bibles and compare prophetical Scriptures concerning Christ in the Old Testament with the fulfillment of Scripture in the New Testament.

Can you believe how simple that is? Simple!

Proper understanding of the Scriptures comes
only through the Holy Spirit.
~Martin Luther~

FRIDAY October 13, 2017

The Spirit of God

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

1 Corinthians 2:12

Through the Spirit of God, we can understand God’s Word. When we study and read the Bible, we are not left ignorant. Why? God has revealed the meaning to us. Then we are able to give His Word to other people. How marvelous!

Understand, theology is the study of God. How many of us have studied in-depth the basic doctrines of the Bible? In order for us to be good students of God’s Word, we need to know what we believe theologically.

2 Timothy 2:15 tells us: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. We really need to know and understand what we are sharing with others.

Christians should know that God sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, so we can be redeemed through His atonement. As believers, we need to understand that we are justified by faith. Then, when we die and stand in the presence of God, we will be glorified, with a new body, having a new heart and mind.

When you are born again, you become a new creature by the power of God’s Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is really important that people see the change in your attitude and character. They should see the difference in the way you speak. Then, over a period of time, others in your family, friends and co-workers will believe the Gospel, because they will see the change.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
~2 Corinthians 3:18~

THURSDAY October 12, 2017

The Deep Things of God

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 2:10-11

Paul spoke about the revelation, inspiration and illumination of the Scriptures, as we read the Word of God. Paul knew he had divine power behind his preaching. When he opened his mouth, it was the Holy Spirit speaking through him. It was supernatural and divine, whereas men’s wisdom in this world is natural; it is not of God. We know the deep things of God such as redemption and atonement.

If you attend a literature class with a non-believing professor who is not Spirit filled, you will read the Bible as if you are studying Plato or Socrates. There will be absolutely no effect in your life. Yet, when Ryan opened the Bible and read for six hours in Panama, the Word of God was beginning to take effect in his heart and mind, in order to get him to where he is today.

I really believe the Word of God was so effective in his life that it was better than rehab! As Ryan made his confession of Christ, immediately there began a transformation. God did not work in a spectacular way––there was no lightening––but in the Lord’s own way, a silent way, He was working in Ryan’s heart.

God still moves in our hearts that way; even when we sleep He works. He is working out all the issues in our lives that He wants to change. Through the Holy Spirit, the Lord has revealed to those who love Him, the deep things of God. After the Lord has spoken to you, He will continue to mold and shape your life. Then you will speak with authority and boldness in the name of Christ. As you do that, the Word of God will never come back void.

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
~Isaiah 55:11~

WEDNESDAY October 11, 2017

God’s Revelations

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9

Paul quoted from Isaiah 64:4; which initially referred to the captivity of Israel and God’s deliverance of His people. The prophet Isaiah spoke of these events through the Lord’s divine revelation to him. Since Christians are born again of the Holy Spirit, in a similar way, we can now know the things of God. We have the ability to discern what God is saying through His Holy Spirit.

God has amazing plans for our lives! Ryan, my son, was a drug addict, but when He came to Christ, his life was transformed. In three years, Ryan went through all of Chuck Smith’s 2000 Series, 3000 Series, and all his in-depth and topical studies. He has gone through seminary by listening to Chuck. Ryan loved Chuck Smith, and he continues to listen to him and learn.

God has used Ryan in ways you could never imagine. God even gave him an opportunity in Australia. They placed him on national radio. At first he thought he would be on for about ten minutes, but he was given the main conference time. Ryan has been empowered; the ministry the Lord has given to him is by the power of the Holy Spirit. He has become an effective instrument to be used wherever God has called Him, and God has received all the glory.

Now, my son, Raul Jr. is going through Chuck’s teachings as well. Many people have gotten hooked by Chuck! Why? He has taught us the pure teaching of God’s Word, which has caused us to grow and develop.

Honestly, where would we all be without the Lord? We would be nothing. We were lost, and yet God found us, cleansed us and washed us. Then God has given you and me an opportunity to serve Him. What we do with that opportunity will determine how our future will turn out to be.

…for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.
~Luke 15:24~

TUESDAY October 10, 2017

Hidden Wisdom

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

1 Corinthians 2:7-8

The Jews believe that Isaiah 53, in the Old Testament, refers to the nation of Israel, when in reality it is speaking about the Messiah–– the Anointed One of God––Jesus Christ. In the past, and even to the present day, Israel has not understood the cross. But it has now been revealed to us as believers; we understand what the cross means.

God’s Word is like a hidden treasure. There is so much to discover in the Bible. The message of the cross, Jesus Christ crucified, was always there in the prophetical books of the Old Testament. As you study prophecy, you will find many Scriptures about Christ and His death on the cross. Psalm 22:14-15 describes for us His suffering:

I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.

As a brand new Christian, I can remember I had a strong desire to get a Bible. “Who placed that desire in my heart?” The Spirit of God placed a hunger and thirst for the Word of God. When I went to Calvary Chapel, I went there for the teaching of God’s Word.

I notice people reading all kind of novels, but those books are not going to help them spiritually. Read the Bible and buy books by authors who have spent time with God. These writers are the ones who will really challenge you to go deeper with the Lord.

I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the LORD, who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.
~Isaiah 45:3~

MONDAY October 9, 2017

Be Mature

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.

1 Corinthians 2:6

Paul spoke about God’s wisdom and how it unites believers. A baby Christian will need the milk of God’s Word, but a mature person is able to eat meat––learning more in-depth Scriptures (Hebrews 5:13-14). Paul was a mature Christian, having a good understanding of the Scriptures. He had an assurance of what he believed. He knew the power of God’s Word and was not ashamed to proclaim the Gospel boldly:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek (Romans I:16).

Mature Christians need to keep growing and developing. There are people who are mature in Christ, who have been in ministry a long time, but there is no more elevation in their growth. They have basically flat-lined––leveled out in their spiritual growth. No matter how mature you are in Christ, you have to keep growing and reaching your goals. It is not a time to become comfortable.

I can remember Dr. VanCleave at ninety-five years old, walking down the hallway, teaching the book of Romans. His son died before him, but he was still teaching the Word of God. It was the same in the lives of Alan Redpath and Dr. Duffield. Dr. Orr was a genius! He reached the heights of Fuller Theological School in missions. He taught at West Covina for me so many times. Dr. Orr taught the Word simply to the people in the congregation, so their hearts could be touched.

Are you continually growing in your relationship with Jesus Christ, or have you grown comfortable? Are you still boldly sharing your faith?

Happy is he who makes daily progress and who considers not what he did yesterday but what advance he can make today.
~Jerome~

SUNDAY October 8, 2017

Faith in God’s Power

…that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:5

Underline this verse in your Bible to remind yourself that Paul did not receive his faith from books or professors––his faith stood in the power of the Lord. If a person has the wisdom of man, they do not have the power of God––right? They are a natural man, because they do not have the Holy Spirit and they are not connected to the Lord. People who are not born again (John 3), do not understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14).

When Jesus was teaching His disciples, He did not say to them, “Give me the definition of eschatology.” Jesus simply asked them, “Who do men say that I am?” His disciples answered Him and said, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah, and others, one of the prophets.” (Mark 8:28).

Then Jesus directed this question to them personally: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” In Mathew 16:17, Jesus explained to Peter that his confession did not come from man; it came from God: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Peter did not have to go to school to discover this truth; what he had spoken was a revelation from God.

The Apostle Paul wanted to know the same thing: “Who is Jesus Christ?” Each of us will need to answer Jesus’ question, “But who do you say that I am?” Prayerfully read the Bible and ask God to reveal to you, through the power of the Holy Spirit, who Christ is. Consider carefully your answer as accepting or rejecting Christ will determine your eternal destination.

Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord
except by the Holy Spirit.
~1 Corinthians 12:3~

SATURDAY October 7, 2017

Spirit Empowered Words

And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.

1 Corinthians 2:4

Paul always sought to glorify God in everything he did through the power of the Holy Spirit. He came to preach and testify of the cross of Jesus Christ. Paul taught the Word of God to the Corinthian church simply, he did not come to them as an intellectual or a professor. He preached and taught in such a way that they could understand. He came as a humble servant of God––as a shepherd over the flock.

Paul was qualified to be a professor, but he taught so simply. He taught believers to become all things to all men (1 Corinthians 9:22). He preached the simplicity of the cross, using words that were in demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power. The word demonstration means “legal proof” or “presentable to the courts,” as when you are bringing the evidence before a judge. What is the powerful evidence of Paul’s preaching? He received his words from the Lord; his teaching was given to us by the power of the Spirit of God.

People who have gone to seminary learn a lot of theological terms, such as numerology and eschatology. These words should not be used to impress people. Theology is good for anyone to learn in seminary, but the common people going to church will not know what you are talking about.

Our words must be inspired by the Holy Spirit. If you are not inspired by the Holy Spirit, you have nothing to say; all you have are notes and facts copied from somebody else. Our message should center on the cross of Jesus Christ. It is the most important part of the Gospel message. But we also need to learn to mimic Christ because we are crucified with Him. Why? So we can be spiritual men and women.

The Christian's birthright is the power of the Holy Ghost.
~Lionel Fletcher~

FRIDAY October 6, 2017

Tremble at God’s Word

I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.

2 Corinthians 2:3

Paul was a Roman citizen, a Rabbi taught under Gamaliel, knowing the Old Testament Scriptures. He was one of the best teachers among the Hebrews, an intellectual, and such a masterful man. He was a persecutor of Christians, but the Lord spoke to him. In complete surrender he became God’s chosen vessel to give the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9). After three years in the desert, waiting on the Lord, he wrote fourteen letters of doctrine. He became a theologian, but taught the Bible simply––as simple as the ABC’s of the alphabet––Christianity is simple!

When you read Paul’s letters, you do not get confused. He taught theology in a way that was simple to understand. Paul explained justification by faith so simply. I have been in theological classes where I have questioned, “What are they teaching?” Yet, God speaks to us through His Word in such a simple way.

When we share God’s Word we should not go over people’s heads. We should aim to make disciples of Christ––not intellectual Christians––otherwise they will get puffed up with knowledge. If a person desires more profound things from God’s Word, then it is good to go to Bible school or seminaries. Understand the common folk just want to know what God has to say to them.

Paul was qualified to be a professor, but in giving God’s Word he was humble. Within his personal demeanor, he felt like he could not teach those in the church of Corinth. Paul takes you back to 1 Corinthians 1:18. What is the most important thing? Christ and the message of the cross.

…on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.
~Isaiah 66:2~

THURSDAY October 5, 2017

Keep it Simple

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

2 Corinthians 2:1-2

Notice how Paul is so clear in his teaching; the central theme is the message of the cross. It is a message that must be passionate in our hearts. Do you not see around you a world full of problems? Yet, there are so many Christians who do not have the real message or any real passion in their heart for the hurting, and for the spiritually lost people in the world.

There is an important lesson to learn from 2 Corinthians 2:1-2. It is directed to those who have wisdom. Be careful not to become an intellectual. Let me tell you why. You can get a biblical degree, but when you talk to regular people you cannot always use your education. If you try to pass on knowledge from theological books you have read, or the Greek and Latin you have learned, you will not connect with sinners or the common people––simply. Often times what you try to share is too theological, when the message needs to be simple. Paul was a genius, but he wrote theology simply. We must realize many people are just learning how to read and comprehend the Bible.

Understand, the common people come to church empty. They are having a tough time just being who they are and dealing with life. People have their problems at home, with their children, and at work with their employers or whatever else it might be. They should not leave the church spiritually empty.

I remember when I started learning from Chuck Smith, at first, I did not learn Greek and Hebrew, I learned the simplicity of God’s Word––Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Simply teach the Word of God simply.
~Chuck Smith~

WEDNESDAY October 4, 2017

Glory in the LORD

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God––and righteousness and sanctification and redemption––that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”

1 Corinthians 1:30-31

Notice the four great things Paul lists concerning our relationship with Jesus Christ. Christ became for us wisdom from God, our righteousness by faith in Him, He has sanctified us, and we are separated to Him. Christ paid the price for our redemption. We are redeemed by His precious blood.

So, why do people take the glory for themselves? That is what people in the world do. They are always glorifying themselves. They want to be called by a title they have earned, a title hanging on their wall. People can become puffed up. Yet, that is not the way of the cross. God should receive all the glory for all that we have become and all that we do.

God is not impressed with anyone’s looks, or with our social position in society, our heritage or financial status. He does not use a person according to their education, MA, BA, or doctorate. It is according to the grace of God. He will use the most unlikely people, if they are willing to submit themselves to Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of God’s grace leaves no room for anyone to boast about anything. If salvation was the work of men surely we would have some great boasting sessions. Understand we are just God’s servants. He raises one up and places another person down (Psalm 75:7).

The ultimate goal is not about us; it is about the Lord! You do not have to impress anybody, you only have to impress the Lord. Be sincere and straight with people about what God has done in your life. Always give the glory to God for what He has done––seriously––it is our chief end.

I will not glory because I am righteous, but because I am redeemed; not because I am clear of sin, but because my sins are forgiven.
~Ambrose~

TUESDAY October 3, 2017

Used for God’s Glory

…and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are that no man should glory in His presence.

1 Corinthians 1:28-29

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, they had some men in the city who were very key people. God used Paul to lead them to salvation. They were used to enhance the ministry, and to help Paul advance the kingdom of God.

In the New Testament times, Jesus chose Peter a fisherman, Matthew a tax collector and Simeon a zealot as His disciples, and to accomplish His will. If I had to make a team I would only want to choose people who are winners; but not so with God. He chooses whomever He wants to choose. It is not my choosing. He just wants those He has chosen to bring glory and honor to His name.

It is important to study 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, so each of us can see how God might want to use you and me. God has chosen each one of us! I hope that you want God to use you! God is on the throne, He has used so many young men and women. He has used older men and women. God uses us by the power of the Holy Spirit for His glory and by His grace. It is the work of God and not men.

We just need to be ready for God to use us––I am ready for God to use my life to whatever capacity He wants to use me. What about you? Are you available to Him? Are you open to the Holy Spirit?

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…
~1 Peter 2:9~

MONDAY October 2, 2017

The Person God Chooses

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty…

1 Corinthians 1:27-28

Notice what Paul is saying in this Scripture, it is not the smartest, or the most beautiful people that God uses. It is people who say, “Here I am Lord, use my life.” God uses whoever wants to be used by Him.

I do not know if you have ever stopped to think about the kind of person God chooses to accomplish His work. Perhaps you think God has to use someone who is very talented, wise, and very righteous, but when you look around, you will be surprised! 1 Corinthians 1:27 is Chuck Smith’s favorite verse, and it is basic Calvary Chapel’s philosophy––right there––incredible.

God has used ordinary men to be Calvary Chapel pastors. Men like Chuck Smith who ministered to hippies in the Jesus Movement. Greg Laurie, a hippie on drugs, who came from a broken home as his mother divorced many men. Mike McIntosh, because of drugs, thought someone had blown a huge whole in his head. The Lord healed him. Steve Mays was shot and left to bleed to death. He was found by an old lady, who cleaned and bandaged his wounds. She shared the Lord with him and he accepted Christ. God has used Jeff Johnson, Jon Courson and so many others. God saved all these men and has used them for His glory.

When people look at men like these, they sometimes place them on a pedestal. They think, “If I can only be like them.” God is not a respecter of persons. He gives any person the opportunity to be used. No matter how young or how old they are, it is never too late to be used by God in His kingdom!

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
~Colossians 3:12~

SUNDAY October 1, 2017

Know Your Calling

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.

1 Corinthians 1:26

Paul spoke concerning the call of God on the believer’s life. God’s call is His enhancement in our lives. It is important to know the calling and anointing of God on your life. It is also necessary to know the purpose of His call, and that Jesus is your sufficiency. It will make all the difference in everything you do. Remember, you never have to copy other people, but be the person God has called you to become. Then you will be genuine in your call and content wherever He has placed you. The Lord will mold you into the person He wants you to be––remember that!

Our whole heart must belong to the Lord. Why? So we can sense within us God’s heartbeat. When I read the Scriptures, I feel the heartbeat of Paul and Peter. I know the heartbeat of Christ, and that makes me keep my eyes on the Lord. I continuously feel passionate about teaching and spreading the message of the Gospel.

Think about what God has called you to do? Have you allowed the Lord to use your gifts and talents in the ministry? Remember, God will use the humble and weak to proclaim the Gospel. Why? So He will get the glory.

As you spend time with God on your face before Him, be open to the Holy Spirit and God will reveal what He has called you to do. Then do the ministry God has given to you with all your heart. Seriously, the Lord has the best plan for your life, one that you cannot even image:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1Corinthians 2:9).

God knows what He is going to make of us.
~James Montgomery Boice~

SATURDAY September 30, 2017

Yom Kippur

For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.

Leviticus 16:30

The Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur––the Day of Atonement began the evening of September 29 and will finish at sundown this evening. Do you know the significance of this day? It is one of the Jews' most holy days of the year. The Jews observe this day with giving gifts, prayers and repentance for their sins committed during the past year. During this time the Jews usually fast, and read from the book of Jonah.

The Hebrew word for atonement is “kaphar” meaning “to cover” and “to make expiation for an offender––to free him from charge.” In the Old Testament the people’s sins were transferred to a goat that was released into the wilderness, it became a literal scapegoat (Leviticus 16:10). In the New Testament, Christ would die to take away our sins once and for all:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit… (1 Peter 3:18).

Paul, in Romans 6:10 expounds on this amazing truth: For the death that He [Jesus] died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Christ’s atonement in the New Testament brought us into God’s favor and a restored relationship. Any sinner that repents and puts their trust in Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross has forgiveness of sin and salvation.

There is no penitence, gift or any other thing that man can do to erase his sin. Forgiveness of sins can only be removed by the death of Jesus Christ who shed His blood on the cross for the sins of the world.

Release! Signed in tears, sealed in blood, written on heavenly parchment, recorded in eternal archives. The black ink of the indictment is written all over with the red ink of the cross: “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.”
~T. De Witt Talmage~

FRIDAY September, 29 2017

God in Comparison to Man

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1 Corinthians 1:25

Paul brought to light the power of the Gospel versus the weakness of man. Man always believes he is smarter than God because he has learned so much in universities, taking philosophy, or sociology classes. Yet, it is God who is the one to give us His wisdom and knowledge:

…attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2-3).

Understand, God is the Creator of heaven and earth; He created us in His own image: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth . . . So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:1; 27).

Many times professors in universities will put down Christianity. They still have that same wisdom and philosophy as the Greeks. Yet, everything they know is from reading and memorizing a book––it is worthless against the truth of the Gospel. They believe in the philosophy that somebody else has written. Many times they can become intimidated by Christians because they do not know about God. They will even try to brain wash students and discredit the Bible.

Think of what God has done in your life and heart today. Wow––look how the Lord has changed your life! It is the greatest evidence of Christ and the cross working in your life.

There are some sciences that may be learned by the head, but the science of Christ crucified can only be learned by the heart.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

THURSDAY September 28, 2017

Christ, the Power and Wisdom of God

For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 1:22-24

Christ is the power and wisdom of God. Yet there were Greeks and Jews who did not believe that Christ was incarnate in the flesh. They did not believe that Jesus had come to die for the sins of the world (John 3:16). The message of Christ crucified was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. But to those who are being saved, today, the cross of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes in Him.

The cross is important because it speaks of Christianity. If you have come to Jesus Christ, accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, and trusted in the message of the cross––you have salvation. The cross changes your attitude and your heart. Then, one day we are going to have to give an account to God for our lives. As a Christian our names are written in the Book of Life. We will not have to stand in judgment for our sins in time to come (Revelation 3:5; 21:27).

However for those who are perishing, they will face a future judgment. and they will have to give an answer as God for everything they have done. God keeps a record (Revelation 20:11-15). The only way that our sins can be erased is through the cross of Jesus Christ––through His death. Otherwise you will be held accountable and found guilty in the presence of God.

The cross changes people's lives, from sinners it makes them saints. The cross determines a person’s eternal destiny.

The cross stands high above the opinions of men and to that cross all opinions must come at last for judgment.
~A. W. Tozer~

WEDNESDAY September 27, 2017

The Foolish and the Wise

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

1 Corinthians 1:20-21

Paul takes up the subject of Christ and the cross. The cross was invented by the Persians and adopted by the Romans who copied them. There are three types of crosses: the T type, the ordinary cross or the cross in the shape of an X. The cross was used to crucify criminals. Usually the cruel punishment was reserved for thieves and murderers. It was a shameful thing to be crucified.

It was illegal to crucify any Roman citizen, and the punishment of crucifixion was never mentioned in polite society. It would be comparable to speaking about the gas chamber or the electric chair. It would not be a common conversation among people because it was so terrible.

Paul explains that there are only two groups of people in this world. There are those who are perishing––people that are spiritually lost, and those who are being saved. You are either a Christian or non-believer. There is no middle ground when it comes to Jesus Christ. You are either for Christ or against Christ.

Jesus was crucified with one thief on His right hand, and one on His left for the sins of the world: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). The cross of Christ is so absurd to some people; they just do not believe its powerful message. Yet, it is amazing what the message of the cross has to offer––salvation. It is so important that we grasp the message of cross. If you trust in the cross of Christ, you have salvation.

Our salvation consists in the doctrine of the cross.
~John Calvin~

TUESDAY September 26, 2017

The Message of the Cross

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

1 Corinthians 1:18-19

Notice how Paul reproved the philosophers, astrologers and those educated in his day. Why? They thought they were so intelligent, but they did not know about the Gospel. It is the same when you go to college to get an education. Teachers in colleges teach psychology and philosophy classes to give you knowledge. Often young adults are taught big syllable words that can impress people. But consider this; Paul was a very educated man:

If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless (Philippians 3:4-6).

Yet, Paul told the brethren how his education meant nothing to him:

…I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8).

What was the message Paul gave? The message was simple––the cross. Paul gave the message of the cross simply; he did not use big words, just two little words––the cross. Think about that! People should get impressed when they see Christ in us and working through us, without saying one word. That is a sinner’s greater testimony.

The righteous One upon the cross is the sinner's only point of contact with the saving power of God.
~Lewis Sperry Chafer~

MONDAY September 25, 2017

Preach the Gospel

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.

1 Corinthians 1:17

Paul, after his letter’s introduction and then addressing the issues of division, closes 1 Corinthians 1, by bringing to the believer’s attention the powerful message of the Gospel. Why? In the Gospel message is the central theme of the cross, it was the instrument of death––and the Christian life is a life of death to self. The cross is where our flesh is nailed. Jesus told His disciples they must live a life of self-denial: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

A Christian should also grow to know Christ and associate with His sufferings:

…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:10-11).

We not only have the power in Christ’s resurrection, we have power because of the Holy Spirit:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My [Jesus’] witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

The word for power here is the Greek word dunamis. God’s dunamis power will give the believer the strength and ability to achieve His will. His power enables us to live the Christian life.

Are you living your Christian life in the power of the Holy Spirit?

To be filled with the Spirit is to have the Spirit fulfilling in us all that God intended him to do when he placed him there.
~Lewis Sperry Chafer~

SUNDAY September 24, 2017

Do Nothing in Your Name

I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other.

1 Corinthians 1:14-16

Paul had written to the Corinthians about the problems of division, but he pointed them back to the unity of Christ, through one Savior––Jesus Christ. They should not be divided. Then Paul reminded them of their spiritual baptism into Jesus Christ–– they were to be one body––the Church of Jesus Christ. In comparison, the heathens, at the time, were being baptized for the dead.

When we accept Christ by faith we are baptized. It is a picture of the old man being put to death. As believers we are baptized into a newness of life:

…do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).

Our life has been completely changed by Jesus Christ. How then should we conduct our Christian walk? As Christians we need to walk in the Spirit: …Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). We should walk circumspectly: See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16). We also should walk worthily: that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10).

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
~Galatians 5:25~

SATURDAY September 23, 2017

Dealing with Division

Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

1 Corinthians 1:12-13

The subject of division can turn out to be a blessing or a cursing. It can be hurtful and damaging. It really depends on the intention of the people causing the problem. Usually self-seekers try to build their own kingdom and exalt their own name. They have their own agenda and can cause a lot of damage to a ministry.

Paul the apostle, being wise in ministry, gave this sound advice:

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple (Romans 16:17-18).

But God can actually use division for His purposes. Such was the case of Paul and Barnabas, when both of them disagreed about taking John Mark on another missionary journey. John had turned back and left them in Pamphylia. Paul thought John to be too immature to bring him along again. The issue caused Paul and Barnabas to be divided:

Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God (Acts 15:39-40).

God actually used the disagreement to enhance the ministry. Now there were two missionary teams. Barnabas was used in Cyprus to begin a brand new work. While Paul was used to spread the Gospel in Macedonia (Acts 16:10). We should endeavor to serve the Lord for the glory of His name, never our own.

Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name…
~Psalm 29:2~

FRIDAY September 22, 2017

Is Christ Divided?

For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

1 Corinthians 1:11-13

Paul had begun to hear about the contention among the believers in the church of Corinth. Among themselves they had chosen their favorite leader. Notice Paul’s common sense questions to them, and then think about this one important question he said: “Is Christ divided?” We really do not need an explanation for any of Paul’s questions. He is simply pointing them back to Christian unity.

When people begin to choose and follow their own favored leaders, division begins. If we begin to name and identify with only certain teachers, then we become no different than the Corinthian believers.

Pastors and teachers are not to make a name for themselves. Neither are they to make disciples for themselves––bottom line. So many people want to be something when they are not. We should always be little––humble before Christ. If the Lord becomes the main person in your life; then you will remain small in comparison with Christ. That is important because the more humble you are before God; the more He can use you.

Seriously, if people have to constantly mention your name and talk about you all the time, then something is wrong. We have to remember we are just His vessels––His servants. God can do whatever He wants to do with our lives. He is the One who gives to us the knowledge and wisdom in everything we do and say. He is the One who has called us and anointed us. We should always be speaking about Christ.

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
~Colossians 3:17~

THURSDAY September 21, 2017

Please, No Divisions, Among Us

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

1 Corinthians 1:10

As Paul was writing this letter to the Corinthians, he started out on the subject of peace; but before he could continue, he had to change course to address the problems of division in the body of Christ. Paul is speaking to believers in the church; not non-believers. These Christians needed to be united, not divided.

Why was there division among the believers in Corinth? Many believers in the church had become carnal Christians––under the control of their fleshly appetites. It was not just being in a sexual sin that made these Corinthian believers carnal. Carnality is immaturity. Those who were carnal had become division makers, and they caused considerable strife.

You can always recognize a carnal Christian because their words cause division. When people become jealous or angry, instead of building up the body of Christ, they begin to tear others down. Be careful not to get infected by carnal people’s gossip. Be careful with your own mouth! Gossip can create a big mess. Others can grab hold of what has been said and gossip begins to spread. Remember, what we say can affect anyone around us, including our kids.

Those who truly walk by the power of the Holy Spirit bring peace and not problems. That is a sign of maturity. Chuck Smith always used to say, “Let’s disagree agreeably.” Why cause division? Why not work together in harmony with the Holy Spirit? We need to examine what comes out of our mouths. Seriously, are your words bringing peace or division?

Satan always hates Christian fellowship; it is his policy to keep Christians apart. Anything which can divide saints from one another he delights in… Since union is strength, he does his best to promote separation.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

WEDNESDAY September 20, 2017

Fellowship with Christ

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:9

Paul spoke about the close fellowship the Corinthian believers were to have with Christ and among each other. The Greek word for fellowship is koinónia, it means “participation, and communion.”

The Apostle John explained to the believers in Christ:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-3).

I love that we have fellowship with one another, and we have the same fellowship with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. But there is another important truth given to us in 1 John 1:6-7:

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

These verses become a good gauge to examine ourselves. In the light and truth of what is declared in 1John 1:6-7; we should be able to see whether we really do have fellowship with God. We do not want to be self-deceived. Discern for yourself, are you walking in darkness or in the light?

The power to live a new life depends upon daily communion
with the living Lord.
~John Eadie~

TUESDAY September 19, 2017

Eagerly Waiting For Christ’s Return

… waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:7-8

Paul used the word waiting in this verse because it means to “wait with eagerness.” What are we to eagerly wait for? We need to eagerly wait for the coming of Lord Jesus Christ. The problem with some Christians is they have lost sight of the coming of the Lord. What eventually happens to them? These people will lose hope.

What has kept me during these last forty years in ministry? It is what Chuck Smith always taught me, Jesus is coming soon. In Matthew 24, Jesus taught His disciples about the end times. He exhorted them: Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming (Matthew 24:42). We need to watch for the signs of the end times and our Lord’s return.

I have read the books of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, the Minor Prophets and the Epistles. All these books speak so much about the coming of Christ. There are almost 500 prophecies concerning Christ. Over 300 of them were fulfilled in His first coming, and the rest will be fulfilled in His second coming. It is important to understand that the day of the Lord Jesus Christ in Scripture is speaking of the rapture of the Church––the body of believers and the Day of the Lord is speaking of the tribulation period (1 Thessalonians 5:1-5, 2 Thessalonians 2:2).

Paul also wanted to remind us that we are lacking nothing as Christians. If God started a work in our lives; He will finish it. When the Lord comes, He wants to find each of us blameless. We should be found living holy lives, and blameless in everything we do.

LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart…
~Psalm 15:1-3~

MONDAY September 18, 2017

Confirmed in Christ

…even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift…

1 Corinthians 1:6-7

Paul mentioned the word testimony which in the Greek is marturias meaning “a witness, evidence.” The work of Christ in our lives is evident to others. It is a miraculous work He has done in us, through Christ, “the Anointed One.” Jesus has given to us a solid guarantee of our salvation. How are we confirmed in Christ? We are confirmed by the Holy Spirit:

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come [salvation]

(2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

It is important to notice the Holy Spirit’s involvement in the church of Corinth, as we go through the entire book of 1 Corinthians. Yet, what was the problem concerning the Holy Spirit in the church? The believers in Corinth were misusing the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit. These spiritual gifts are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. Paul made known that all these gifts were given by God, through the working of His Spirit:

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.

(1 Corinthians 12:4-6).

Are you using the gifts of the Holy Spirit for God’s glory, or for your own purposes?

What the Spirit does is exactly what the Lord does; the Spirit's work is not an additional or special work beyond the Lord's;
the Spirit is the Lord at work.
~F. D. Bruner~

SUNDAY September 17, 2017

Enriched in Christ

…that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge…

1 Corinthians 1:5

Paul told the Corinthian believers how they had become so rich in Jesus Christ. What did Paul mean when he said “in all utterance?” He was referring to the biblical truth they had learned from studying God’s Word. It is the same with us. If we study God’s Word and learn His truth, we shall be enriched “in all utterance.” We shall be able to speak God’s truth to others. God’s Word is so powerful.

When Paul spoke about “all knowledge” he meant that we must continue to study and learn the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. Our study of the Bible should not be once in a while––from time to time. We must go through the Bible every day. Often when we read a passage of Scripture for the first time, we may not understand, but later, reading from the same passage the Lord showed us something new. He will give to us the complete understanding.

God’s Word should never become old to us. It should be new to our hearts every single day! As we increase in knowledge, wisdom and spiritual understanding, the Lord can use our lives tremendously:

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9-10).

We can speak the truth of Jesus Christ through the power and work of the Holy Spirit. Since becoming a Christian how many times have you read through the entire Bible?

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through
His poverty might become rich.
~2 Corinthians 8:9~

SATURDAY September 16, 2017

Times of Seclusion

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

Galatians 1:15-17

When Paul became saved, the first thing he did was to spend three years in the Arabian desert, waiting on the Lord to train him and get him ready for what God intended to do in his life: Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days (Galatians 1:18). Paul was enriched with the knowledge of God before setting out to do his ministry. He spent time in seclusion as He studied God’s Word.

Think about how quick people want to enter ministry but they are not fully prepared. If we have not taken the time to enrich our lives with the knowledge of God’s Word, how can we effectively share His truth with others? We should be able to give to others the full counsel of God; not just only our testimony, the amazing things God has done in our lives.

I can remember when I first was saved; it took me four and half years to really get rooted and grounded in God’s Word. I attended Calvary Chapel and listen to Chuck Smith. I needed to know God and His Word intimately. Then I could understand the call God had for my life. I have learned in ministry that it takes a lot of labor and discipline to study God’s Word. As we learn the Word of God our knowledge of Him expands. Daily being in God’s Word causes us to be built up and we grow spiritually.

Remember, the perfect will of God is for you to know God intimately. You will know Christ and then understand what He wants you to do. Once you know Him intimately, then it is natural to serve Him.

To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
~Ephesians 3:19~

FRIDAY September 15, 2017

God’s Grace Given

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:4

Paul, here, continued with the theme of grace. He thanked God for His grace, seen in the lives of the people in the Corinthian church. Notice how Paul was so personal; he was genuinely concerned for the body of Christ––the church. He was aware of their needs, and he prayed for the people.

A shepherd––a pastor of a church, should be genuine in his concern for the people. If a pastor is not concerned about people, he will not mention them at all. Paul made very clear the call of a shepherd:

“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

The Apostle Peter shared with the elders of the Church the importance of taking care of God’s people:

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock… (1 Peter 5:2-3)

It is wonderful for a pastor to see the grace of God working in the lives of the people in the Church of Jesus Christ. Remember, grace only comes through being born again of the Holy Spirit. Grace is free; grace is a gift, and it is not given by any human merit.

Grace is what all need, what none can merit and what
God alone can give.
~George Barlow~

THURSDAY September 14, 2017

God’s Grace and Peace

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:3

The greeting given to the church of Corinth began with an important word––grace. Why? We are saved by grace: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Grace was a salutation given by the Greeks, whereas the word Shalom––meaning “peace,” was a common greeting given by the Hebrews. The title in the greeting, the Lord Jesus Christ can be broken down to mean: Lord, which speaks of His title and indicates relationship. Jesus is His name, which represents Him to be our Savior. The word Christ, means “Messiah, He is the anointed one of God.”

Now we can receive a full picture of who Christ is––God: For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). As we grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ, the more we shall understand the grace and peace of God.

Paul, in this greeting, also invites us to come into this wonderful grace. We are saved by grace, not by works. When we experience the true grace of God, then we shall experience the true peace of God.

We cannot understand the peace of God, until we understand the grace of God. I hope that all Christians will come to know more about God’s grace and experience a greater peace of God in their lives. Remember, the Lord is ever-present. He is always in the presence of our lives.

We will never properly understand the work of God which takes place in the Christian life unless we first of all have some kind of grasp of why
we need the grace of God.
~Sinclair Ferguson~

WEDNESDAY September 13, 2017

Sanctified Saints

…to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours…

1 Corinthians 1:2

Paul used the word sanctified because it is in reference to our position “in Christ.” In the book of Ephesians this phrase “in Christ” and its various forms are used more than 40 times. The word sanctified means “set apart.” We need to get that into our minds. We are set apart, not to be exclusive, but God sets us apart so He can use our lives.

When are we set apart? The moment we are born again by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said to Nicodemus:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:3, 5-6).

We are also called to be saints. What does that mean? God is calling us to be holy or “holy ones.” This is the practical side of sanctification––living out your calling. Paul talked about the Church––the body of Christ–– those who are positionally sanctified in Christ Jesus are called to be saints. Paul has explained to us the benefits of being a recipient of what God has done for us.

Christians have so much to thank God for in their lives! It would be good to spend time in prayer to thank God for all He has done in your life.

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
~2 Thessalonians 2:13~

TUESDAY September 12, 2017

Minister to the Immature

…and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth…

1 Corinthians 1:1-2

The Apostle Paul, in writing his letter to the Corinthians, spoke about relationships and how important they are. Sosthenes was called a brother in Christ. In the Greek Sosthenes means “safe strength.” He was one of the Jewish synagogue leaders who gave his life to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Immediately, Paul began to minister to this man. He invested time into his life, so that Sosthenes could win other Jews to the Lord.

Like Paul, we are to minister to God’s people; we should never take from them. Mature Christians need to help new, immature Christians grow spiritually into maturity. We need to help them in their faith.

Paul loved the Corinthian church––the believers. He had tried to feed them spiritually, but they were caught up with becoming part of the Corinthian’s sinful society. They were partakers of the sin and carnality happening in Corinth. Paul could not speak to them as spiritual people:

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal… (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).

I think Paul has given to us one of the greatest signs of maturity in a person’s life. It is when a man or woman feeds daily on God’s Word. The Word of God has become their source of spiritual food and, as a result, they will become mature in Christ. Is there any carnality that you need to lay aside, so that you can grow to full maturity in Christ?

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.
~1 Peter 2:1-2~

MONDAY September 11, 2017

9/11Terror Attacks Remembered

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Today marks 16 years since the 9/11 attacks that shocked our nation and the entire world. Terrorists linked to the Islamic group al-Qaeda used calculated, callous and criminal plans to do the unthinkable––fly planes into buildings! America has promised to “Never forget.”

On September 11, 2001, four airliners headed for California were hijacked by 19 Islamic extremists. They carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Horrifically, two planes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center, in New York City. The devastation took the lives of over 3,000 people; among them were more than 400 firefighters and police officers. Another plane also hit its target, the Pentagon, just outside Washington, D.C., while yet another plane, after a heroic struggle between the passengers and the terrorists onboard, crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.

When such turmoil and tribulation happens, where should we turn to for comfort? The God of all comfort––He is able to give us the mercy and strength we need in the difficult days ahead. Those who have experienced God’s comfort for themselves can share His comfort with others who have suffered the loss of loved ones or experienced distress.

Since 9/11, how many other countries have suffered the brutal attacks of terrorism? Recently, terrorists targeted Barcelona, London, Manchester and Paris. We live in a sinful, fallen world, filled with much evil. What comfort does the Gospel of Jesus Christ bring to us? Peace.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer,
I have overcome the world.”
~John 16:33~

SUNDAY September 10, 2017

Sending a Letter

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:1-3

Paul stated his name at the very beginning of his letter and then continued with a greeting. This is the Greek way of writing letters. We sign our names at the end of our written letters today. When Paul wrote his letter to the church of Corinth, he wanted them to know the author right from the beginning. Paul, as an apostle and servant of Jesus Christ, wanted those in the church, to know his authority. He was called of God; this was His identification. When the people in the church of Corinth read Paul’s letter, they were not to take it lightly.

When somebody writes a letter to you about something you said, did or perhaps, something they can see in your life, do you disregard the letter as being critical? You really have to ask the question, “Why are they saying that to me?” Is it critical? Have you spent time in prayer reading their letter to find out if you actually did do something wrong?

If it is a person of godly character who wrote the letter, and not some strange person, it is good to examine yourself. It is like taking a magnifying glass and looking deeply into your heart and mind. I like to critique myself, as I take what was written, to the Lord. I never take it lightly. Perhaps this person has seen something in me that even my family has not seen. You have to really listen to the Lord.

We are not perfect; anyone of us can make great mistakes. Often we can come to the conclusion, they were right!

Few men truly know themselves as they are… to study one’s self in the light of God’s Word, and carefully to go over one’s condition…and using all the tests which are given us in Scripture, would be a very healthy exercise; but how very few care to go through it!
~C. H. Spurgeon~

SATURDAY September 9, 2017

Called by God’s Will

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God…

1 Corinthians 1:1

Notice how Paul, in his introduction, told us how he was “called” to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. His apostleship was through the will of God. An apostle means an “ambassador”––one who is going to be sent. Paul was sent to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15).

It is important to know God’s will for your life. The day I got saved, I never doubted that I was in God’s will. At that time, I decided to submissively place myself under Chuck Smith at Calvary Chapel, to sit, listen and learn from his teaching. I never promoted myself but waited on the Lord.

Then one day, Chuck wanted to speak with me in his office. I shared with him my testimony––how I had started a small Bible study in my home in Baldwin Park. I had invited all my friends who had just become saved. Chuck just smiled. Then he asked some of the men at the church to come into the office. They all laid hands on me and prayed. A couple of months later, I was ordained through Calvary Chapel––I never asked. Then I attended their first Shepherd’s School. That is how I became the pastor of Calvary Chapel West Covina––amazing!

Many men have left our church and started other Calvary Chapels. It is the Lord who does the work through them. The Lord chooses the man and places an anointing on him. God sees the desire and passion of these different men, and He sends them out. God already knows the people who need to go to that church.

Do you know God’s will in your life? You have to have the anointing and the call of God in your life. It is the anointing on your forehead––the work of God’s Holy Spirit in your life.

It is God who anoints us, sets His seal on us and puts His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit. No church hierarchy or committee can do that. Only God. Our life and ministry reflect God's anointing or lack of it.
~A.W. Tozer~

FRIDAY September 8, 2017

Exhortations and Rebukes

…for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

1 Corinthians 3:3

The church in Corinth had a big congregation. Paul wrote not just one letter but two letters to the Corinthians because the problems were so bad there. Paul spent time in Corinth, thinking and developing a strategy on how to reach these carnal people who called themselves Christians. Some of the major problems were division, immorality, and the abuse of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. So, Paul really, really exhorted the church. It is believed that there was a third letter to the Corinthians than was lost.

After writing his first letter, Paul received some bad news from Corinth. Over a period of time false apostles came in to undermine Paul. So, he decided to write back a second letter to the Corinthians to inform, exhort, and rebuke them; it was a sharp letter.

Paul was not a person who was afraid to rebuke or exhort people. Paul named those people who were heretics or false teachers. One time he even rebuked the Apostle Peter to his face as he had compromised with the Jews:

Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-21).

Paul stood on the truth and on the righteousness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What does your life stand on? Truth or falsehood?

God and his truth cannot be changed; the gospel is not negotiable.
~John Marshall~

THURSDAY September 7, 2017

A Chosen Instrument

But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.”

Acts 9:15

God chose Paul to be His instrument and told Ananias to pray for him. Although a theologian, he was a very simple hearted person. Paul worked as a tent maker to make money for his journeys (Acts 18:3). The Scriptures imply that Paul had a family. When he was in jail, his nephew came to visit him: So when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul (Acts 23:16).

Paul, on his second missionary journey, had come to Corinth in the fall of 50 A.D., and founded the Corinthian church. It is a pretty amazing place. As you are coming from Athens, going around to the base, you come to Corinth. Then as you stand there looking up at this big hill, right in front of Corinth, that has been excavated, there is a huge altar called the Bema Seat, where the leaders of the city would make judgment.

There is also the temple of Aphrodite where a thousand prostitutes were living and at night would come down to the city and seduce the men of Corinth. If you stand there looking up, you can really get the picture in your mind of that scene. It was like Sodom and Gomorrah; they were drinking, partying, and having sex.

God will send a pastor, and place him in the community where He wants to reach the people living there. He is God’s instrument. Understand it is God who does the work. Any church that is founded is not my church or another pastor’s church. I will ask pastors, “How much did you pay for your church?” I remind them, “It is the Lord’s Church; He paid for the Church by His own blood.”

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood
~Acts 20:28~

WEDNESDAY September 6, 2017

Balanced Teaching

…to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.

1 Corinthians 1:2

The Apostle Paul was born in Tarsus. He was a Roman citizen of high stature. Tarsus was located on the south east coast of Asia Minor. Today it is known as modern Turkey. Being born in Tarsus Paul had a great advantage. He was certainly fluent in the Greek language; which at that time was the best known language of the day. Paul also spoke in Aramaic. It is no surprise that God inspired Paul to write all of his 14 letters in Greek, to reach throughout the whole Roman Empire.

Paul had also gone to Jerusalem where he sat under the teachings of Gamaliel. He knew Hebrew, the language used by the prophets, to write the Old Testament. In whatever place he went, Paul, with his unique background had the perfect balance to be able to teach both the Jew and the Gentile.

The Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Think of all the different translations we now have; NIV, NLT, NET, but within them, there are changes that have been made from the original language. Some Bibles have deletions, so we do not understand what was said in the original language. These versions are watering down God’s Word so that we do not get the full meaning. We cannot water down God’s Word. We have to speak God’s Word exactly how it was written.

This is why we have to study, pray and use the Strong’s and Young’s concordances to look up words and examine the passages in their original language. We want to be correct in teaching the truth. Otherwise we are changing what was given to us. If we deviated from the truth we are teaching false doctrine. Paul never changed what was given to him.

Well knowing that the Scriptures are perfect as dictated (or spoken) by the Word of God, and his Spirit, a heavy punishment awaits those who add to, or take from, the Scriptures.
~Irenaeus~

TUESDAY September 5, 2017

Called Out Ones

To the church of God which is at Corinth…

1 Corinthians 1:2

The Greek word for church is ekklésia meaning “called out ones” that is those who are called out of the world to serve the Lord. I often think of those men who have served the Lord faithfully. They have been such an influence in my life: Dr. Van Cleave, Dr. Duffield, Alan Redpath, Chuck Smith, Romaine, and even my Kung Fu Instructor, Jimmy H. Woo.

Over the years I have continued to dwell on what my teachers have taught me. I quietly listen to that still small voice of their instruction. When they spoke, I disciplined myself to write down whatever they taught me on a piece of paper, or I wrote it down in my Bible. Then I have the lesson right there in-front of me, to always remind me in the future. I believe that keeping notes to reflect back on what was taught to me was real wisdom.

Christians are called out of the world to serve the Lord. It is wisdom to surround yourself with godly men and women, those who know the Word of God and have walked with the Lord faithfully. If you place yourself under good teachers, and learn from their wisdom and experience in ministry you will do well.

Remember, no man is an island. Who are the teachers that you have placed yourself under? Are you writing down valuable notes from what they are teaching you, to reflect on later in your life? Learning lessons from men who have started well and finished well is a good practice. Many have left behind a wealth of books to glean from. Those teachers are the ones who will be the greatest influence in your life.

Discipleship is more than getting to know what the teacher knows. It is getting to be what he is.
~Juan Carlos Ortiz~

MONDAY September 4, 2017

Labor Day

When you eat the labor of your hands,You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.

Psalm 128:2

Today is Labor Day. In the late 19th century the trade union and labor movements grew. It was proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor. They created a labor movement that set aside a “workingmen’s holiday.” The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor.

It is believed that either Peter J. McGuire, cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, first proposed the holiday. Congress passed an act to make Labor Day a legal holiday. By 1894, thirty U.S. states officially celebrated the official holiday. What is interesting is that the Sunday before the Labor Day holiday was called Labor Sunday and attention was given to the spiritual and education features of the labor movement.

In the United States this public holiday honors the American worker for all the contributions that workers have made to strengthen, and prosper our great country. The American work force is recognized for their efforts in a yearly tribute on the first Monday in September. Many people have street parades, festivals and even speeches are given to celebrate the occasion.

Being on a Monday, the holiday has become known as, Labor Day Weekend. It is considered to be the unofficial end of summer. It also marks the time when many children go back to school, and when many sports activities begin. We work and enjoy the temporal benefits of our earthly, hard labor. How much more should we labor to serve the Lord for His eternal benefits given to us?

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor
is not in vain in the Lord.
~1 Corinthians 15:58~

SUNDAY September 3, 2017

Called an Apostle

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

1 Corinthians 1:1

The Apostle Paul was such an incredible person. After Jesus elected the twelve disciples, one, Judas betrayed Him. Later, it is believed, that Paul was the one chosen to replace him, when the Lord called him into the ministry (Acts 9). Paul wrote that he saw the Lord after the resurrection:

After that He [Christ] was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep [they died]. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time (1 Corinthians 15:6-8).

Now, we have 14 letters of doctrine that we would have never had. In the book of Corinthians, Paul will address the problems of getting along with one another, jealously, and covetousness among believers.

Paul was a Jew, but born a Roman citizen. He was taught by the well- known Rabbi Gamaliel. In Acts 22:3 he said of himself:

I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.

God intercepted his life and called him to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ:

“…he [Paul] is a chosen vessel of Mine [Christ] to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:15-16)

Out of all the people in the world, God chose Paul––a theologian. Think about how God has chosen you to spread the Gospel.

... [God] called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began…
~2 Timothy 1:9~

SATURDAY September 2, 2017

A Unified Church

To the church of God which is at Corinth…

1 Corinthians 1:2

The city of Corinth, at this particular time, was the most important city in Greece, especially for trade, it was the center of commerce. Corinth was the capital of the Roman providence of Achaia. It was ideally located on the empire’s most important travel route that went from east to west.

When Paul arrived he was amazed at what he saw, there were at least 400,000 people who lived in the city, including Greeks, Italians, Jews, and some from different places such as Africa and Europe. Corinth was fourth in size among the great cities of the Roman Empire and was noted for its culture and corruption. In this time period, people had a saying “to live like a Corinthian” which meant to live like the worst of all sinners.

The Apostle Paul was a person that loved God with all his heart. He had a heart for the Gospel and for people. The Lord used him to bring this tremendous letter of 1 Corinthians to the people who needed it the most––the people in the city of Corinth. Paul wrote to a church that had a lot of carnal Christians; those who were serving with the wrong motives. Paul spent about a year and a half in Corinth (Acts 18:1-11).

We can learn so much from what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, because their problems are the same problems in our churches today. His letter deals with one of the greatest dilemmas in the Church, the issue of not getting along with other people. We are supposed to be united, but so often we are divided.

Unity is of the essence of the body of Christ.
~R. B. Kuiper~

FRIDAY September 1, 2017

Get Back On Track

Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan. I also assigned duties to the priests and the Levites, each to his service, and to bringing the wood offering and the firstfruits at appointed times.Remember me, O my God, for good!

Nehemiah 13:30-31

Nehemiah was able to get God’s people back on track. What a leader! Can you imagine? He got rid of all the leaven––a type of sin. Nehemiah was a good organizer and administrator. Nehemiah made sure everything ran smoothly. Nehemiah finished the book of Nehemiah by writing: Remember me, O my God, for good! He was a man of God whose heart was so big for God.

King David’s life got off track when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband by placing him in the heat of the battle (2 Samuel 11). God used the prophet Nathan to help David get his life back on track. After telling him a parable about a rich man who took a poor man’s only ewe lamb for a feast (2 Samuel 12:1-4), David made a judgment and said: “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:5-7).

Convicted by his sin, David sincerely repented and prayed to the Lord:

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin (Psalm 51:1-2).

Does your spiritual life need to get back on track? Take an examination of your life before the Lord and see if you have allowed sin to creep back into your life. How far has that sin taken you away from the Lord? If you are backslidden, like King David, ask the Lord to cleanse you from your sin. God will have mercy on you.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by
Your generous Spirit.
~ Psalm 51:12~

THURSDAY August 31, 2017

Undefiled Lives

And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite; therefore I drove him from me. Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites.

Nehemiah 13:28-29

The priest, Eliashib, had given his son Joiada, in marriage to the daughter of Sanballat––an enemy of God and Nehemiah. Eliashib, by allowing this union between his son and the daughter of Sanballat, had defiled the priesthood.

Nehemiah cast Joiada out of his presence, as he was disobedient to the Law. It was written that the priests: …shall not take a wife who is a harlot or a defiled woman, nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for the priest is holy to his God (Leviticus 21:7). In Malachi 2:11, God had said to Judah: For Judah has profaned The LORD’s holy institution which He loves: He has married the daughter of a foreign god.

Daniel is a good example of someone who refused to defile himself. As a captive in Babylon …Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank… (Daniel 1:8). The Lord honored Daniel and would use his life tremendously: Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs (Daniel 1:9).

In Mark 7:21-23, Jesus taught defilement comes from within a man:

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Have you purposed in your heart not to defile yourself with any of these sins?

It is not the nature of sin to remain in a fixed state. Like decaying fruit, it grows more rotten. The man who is bad today will be worse tomorrow.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

WEDNESDAY August 30, 2017

The Sin of Solomon

“Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless pagan women caused even him to sin. Should we then hear of your doing all this great evil, transgressing against our God by marrying pagan women?”

Nehemiah 13:26-27

Nehemiah reasoned with God’s people. He used Solomon’s downfall as an example. Solomon was blessed with wisdom, wealth and honor, such as no other kings before or after him (2 Chronicles 1:8-12). His success as king was dependent on his obedience; he needed to follow after the Lord (1 Kings 2:3-4). The Lord had previously commanded His people:

Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly (Deuteronomy 7:3-4).

However, in Solomon’s reign, there was a big problem. He had married all these pagan women:

But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites— from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods” (1 Kings 11:1-2).

What was the result of Solomon’s disobedience? …when Solomon was old …his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David (1 Kings 11:4). Solomon went as far as to worship these foreign gods.

Are you planning a marriage to a non-believer? Do not do it! Consider the concluding thoughts of Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes 12.

Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.
~Ecclesiastes 12:13~

TUESDAY August 29, 2017

Contending with Compromise

So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves.”

Nehemiah 13:25

Making a stand is not a popular thing to do, but Nehemiah forcefully did just that! He even went as far as to strike some of the Jews and pull out their hair! Can you see this picture? He gave some of them a beating so they would get the point! Nehemiah, from then on, made them promise to keep God’s Word. They would no longer make arranged marriages between their children and the pagan men and women.

The Apostle Paul is a good example of someone who contended with himself: But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27). Paul kept his body under subjection. Literally, the word discipline, in the Greek, gives to us the picture of a boxer who buffets his opponent. Paul disciplined his flesh––his body appetites, as if to beat his flesh black and blue.

Christians need to deal with their flesh––their fleshly desires, every single day. How is the victory won over their flesh? They need to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh to gain the victory. Paul explains:

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish (Galatians 5:16-17).

The key to walking in the Spirit is to remember that our flesh has been crucified: And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). Remember, the cross is the instrument of death.

“Whoever desires to come after Me [Christ], let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
~Mark 8:34~

MONDAY August 28, 2017

Unequally Yoked

In those days I also saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and could not speak the language of Judah, but spoke according to the language of one or the other people.

Nehemiah 13:23-24

Nehemiah saw the situation among God’s people; they had continued to intermarry with the pagan women. As a result, their children could no longer speak or understand the Hebrew language; they spoke in other dialects. What would be the outcome? These children would not be able to understand the teaching of God’s Word. Instead, they would learn the idolatrous practices of these pagan women. They would grow up not knowing the Lord.

As Christians, we are instructed not to be unequally yoked:

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).

In marriage, and even in business, we should not have an intimate union with a non-believer. Why? Non-believers may not want to go to church, and your home will become divided. What will happen to your children? Will they grow up not knowing the Lord? Just as darkness and light do not mix together nor should a marriage union between a believer and a non-believer. In business, a non-believer may cheat on their taxes. They may want to operate the business unlawfully and dishonestly.

God does not place unfair restrictions on our lives. He foresees the future dangers and tries to help us to avoid the unhappy results of our disobedience.

Never be yoked to one who refuses the yoke of Christ.
~Anonymous~

SUNDAY August 27, 2017

Taking Good Steps

Then I warned them, and said to them, “Why do you spend the night around the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you!” From that time on they came no more on the Sabbath. And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should go and guard the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of Your mercy!

Nehemiah 13:21-22

The merchants and sellers had spent the night lodging outside the city of Jerusalem. They were determined to see if they could gain entrance into the city to sell their goods on the Sabbath. Nehemiah warned them not to return or he would lay hands on them–– I like Nehemiah. He was ready to strike them if necessary! He commanded the Levites to cleanse themselves, guard the gates, and sanctify the Sabbath. Nehemiah took good steps to ensure the Sabbath was kept.

Notice how Nehemiah prayed the second time to the Lord: “Remember me, O my God….” Nehemiah was a great leader; he only cared about what God thought of his actions. He wanted the Lord to remember what he had done. He had set everything back in order according to God’s Word. Everything he had done was for God’s glory. He did not care for the opinions or even the actions of men against him. He prayed for God’s protection and mercy over His life.

Fathers, as the spiritual leaders, and the heads of their homes, should make sure sin does not creep into their homes. What is your family watching on television or social media, on their computers or phones? Are any drugs or drinking being tolerated in your home? If so, take steps to cleanse your home of anything that is a compromise to God’s Word. Fathers should guard their homes from any worldly influences. They should be the ones to make sure their whole family is attending church.

An avoidable absence from church is infallible evidence
of spiritual decay.
~Frances Ridley Havergal~

SATURDAY August 26, 2017

Taking Firm Action Against Sin

So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark before the Sabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and charged that they must not be opened till after the Sabbath. Then I posted some of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens would be brought in on the Sabbath day. Now the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice.

Nehemiah 13:19-20

Nehemiah took immediate action to stop the Sabbath from being profaned. He commanded the gates to be shut and stopped the pagans from coming in to sell their wares. The servants could not open the gates until the Sabbath was over, from six o’clock Friday evening, until six o’clock the next day. Nehemiah let them know that they were no longer welcome to sell anything on the Sabbath. Pretty soon, the pagan merchants and sellers would get the message.

Joseph had to take a firm stand against sin when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. He continuously refused her attempts. In Genesis 39:9, Joseph told this brazen woman:

“There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Day after day, Potiphar’s wife continued in her attempts to seduce Joseph. Then one day, she grabbed hold of Joseph’s garment and asked him to lie with her. What action did Joseph decide to take? He ran! Genesis 39:12 gives to us the details: But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.

Do you cave in to temptation or do you resist temptation? You must take a firm action against sin.

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
~James 4:7~

FRIDAY August 25, 2017

Disobedience Brings Disaster

Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”

Nehemiah 13:17-18

Nehemiah had to rebuke the nobles of Judah. What were they thinking! Did they not learn from their history? Did they forget the reason why they spent 70 years in Babylonian captivity? God’s people did not keep the Sabbath year for 490. The 70 years they took from the Lord, they had to repay. God had told His people in Exodus 19:5:

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.

Then in Deuteronomy 28:1-14, God told them how they would be blessed in the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 28:8 the Lord promised:

The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

God had warned His people that if they disobeyed, they would become servants to the people of another nation:

A nation whom you have not known shall eat the fruit of your land and the produce of your labor, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually (Deuteronomy 28:33).

How we also need to learn from our past mistakes! Do we really want to suffer the consequences of our disobedience? Quickly learn the lesson that disobedience brings disaster in our lives. Why should any of us miss out on all the blessing He has for our lives?

To pay the price of obedience is to escape the cost of disobedience.
~John Blanchard~

THURSDAY August 24, 2017

Observances

In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions. Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 13:15-16

Remember what God’s people signed? They signed a covenant and agreed that they were not going to work on the Sabbath day; they were going to obey God’s Word. They needed to keep the requirement of not working on the Sabbath day. Nehemiah had warned them do not do it!

Yet, here were God’s people going right back to what God had said not to do. In just a small amount of time, they had reverted back to disobedience. On the Sabbath day, when everything was supposed to be closed, they allowed the heathens to set up shop. They could sell provisions, doing exactly what God had said should not happen.

Even today, on Friday at six o’clock sundown, Jerusalem and all of Israel closes down; a few things remain open. The Shabbat––the Jewish Sabbath–– remains until the six o’clock the next day. The Jews have three elevators, during the Shabbat, they have a Shabbat elevator that will stop at every floor. Why? They consider that pushing a button as work! When they eat at the hotel, they will not use cash; it is considered work. Instead, they will use a credit card. The Jews eat, pray together and go to the synagogue to pray to God. It is amazing to see their religiosity.

Our Sabbath can be any day of the week, but are we working so much that we are failing in the priority to attend church at least once a week?

And they [believers] continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
~ Acts 2:42~

WEDNESDAY August 23, 2017

Doing a Service for God

Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for its services!

Nehemiah 13:14

Nehemiah was a man used by God for a specific purpose; the Lord had a plan for his life. Through seeking God’s will in prayer, Nehemiah discovered what the Lord had called him to accomplish. He was called to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem and bring a revival among God’s people. Nehemiah brought reform in the lives of God’s people. He prayed to God as if to ask Him, “Do not forget what I have done.”

Christians have an eternal purpose in life. It is to serve the God who saved them. As they begin to grow in Christ and develop in their relationship with Him, they will discover their spiritual gifts and talents to be used for His glory. God has a plan for their lives: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

Imagine, God not only remembers what we do for Him, but He even remembers what we say! The Lord has a Book of Remembrance:

Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name (Malachi 3:16).

When we go home to be with the Lord, we want to hear the Lord say: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord”

What have you done for Christ? What will you do for Christ today, tomorrow and in the future?

Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.
~C T Studd~

TUESDAY August 22, 2017

Appointing Faithful Men

Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse. And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouse Shelemiah the priest and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah; and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah; for they were considered faithful, and their task was to distribute to their brethren.

Nehemiah 13:12-13

Nehemiah appointed faithful men over different areas, those who would not be neglectful in their ministry, but faithfully carry out their duties. We can learn a similar lesson from Moses’ situation in the wilderness. He led multitudes of people and was judging them himself, from morning to evening. Moses’ father-in-law advised him to appoint men to help with the work, otherwise he would wear himself out (Exodus 18:13-18). Jethro told Moses to teach the people and bring the difficult situations to God (verses 19-20), but select men to help him with smaller matters:

Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens (Exodus 18:21).

In Acts 6 a complaint arose. The twelve Apostles’ priority was to study the Word of God (verse 2, 4). So they decided to appoint qualified leaders to serve the people. They would choose godly men who would be faithful in their service to God:

“Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:3-4).

Stephen was chosen. He became the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:59).

“Be faithful until death, and I [Jesus] will give you the crown of life.”
~Revelation 2:10~

MONDAY August 21, 2017

Putting People in their Place

I also realized that the portions for the Levites had not been given them; for each of the Levites and the singers who did the work had gone back to his field. So I contended with the rulers, and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their place.

Nehemiah 13:10-11

Once again, Nehemiah began to set things back in order. He threw out Tobiah the Ammonite from the house of God, cleansed the rooms, and brought back into the storerooms the articles, grain and frankincense (Nehemiah 13:8-9). Then Nehemiah had to rebuke the leaders and officials for their neglect in their duties––how sad. But this is exactly what a good leader does.

Nehemiah, as the leader, had left men in leadership positions to oversee the house of God. Obviously, these men were not strong enough with the people; they let them do whatever! The rulers had neglected to take care of the Levites who were supposed to be supported by the ministry.

God has placed me as the pastor over this whole church, and I feel responsible for the oversight. The Lord has given me men to come alongside me and to help me with the work of the ministry. There is no way one person can do it all. God has given them all gifts and talents to help me with everything that needs to be done in the ministry.

What kind of leader do you want to be like? Nehemiah who accomplished God’s will or the officials who neglected their duties? Ask yourself if you have this unfaithful attitude, “When the boss is away the mice will play?” Or in the absence of your overseer can you fulfill the task given to you?

Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
~1 Corinthians 4:2~

SUNDAY August 20, 2017

Getting Our Lives Back in Order

So it was, when they had heard the Law, that they separated all the mixed multitude from Israel… And it grieved me [Nehemiah] bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.

Nehemiah 13:3, 8-9

In response to hearing the Law, God’s people began to separate themselves from the other nations. Nehemiah, after returning from Persia, had found out that Eliashib the priest had allowed Tobiah to live in the house of God (Nehemiah 13:4-7). The people had compromised and allowed a little leaven––a type of sin, to enter the camp.

Imagine, Nehemiah had gone away for a short while (we do not know how long exactly), but the people had already returned back to their old ways. Nehemiah became a little upset and threw everything that belonged to Tobiah outside he cleansed the house of the Lord. Can you believe that? I like Nehemiah; he did not mess around!

Moses had a similar situation with the children of Israel in the wilderness. He went up to Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:12-15) to receive the Ten Commandments. He was gone for 40 days and 40 nights (verse 18). In Moses’ absence the people convinced Aaron, Moses’ brother, to make a golden calf and worship it (Exodus 32:1-5). God’s people had committed great acts of sexual perversion. God’s judgment had to come upon them.

Why do God’s people not learn their lesson? Believers can make a great commitment to God and promise to obey His Word. He blessed them, but then they begin to disobey. Do you not understand our bodies are the temple of God? We need to live holy lives (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Those who are backslidden need to come back to the Lord, as He is the One who cleanses our lives.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
~Psalm 51:10 KJV~

SATURDAY August 19, 2017

Amazing Grace

On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people, and in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God, because they had not met the children of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing.

Nehemiah 13:1-2

We have come to the last chapter of the book of Nehemiah. God’s people heard the Scriptures as the Book of Moses was being read to them. They came to an understanding that they were to be separate from the other nations. God’s Word made it clear that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God.

The Moabite and the Ammonite nations came through Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Lot had chosen to live near Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 13:10-12). Later, Lot lived in the city of Sodom (Genesis 14:12). When God’s judgment was about to come on Sodom and Gomorrah, some of Lot’s family, being influenced by the life in the city, would not leave. Besides, they thought Lot was only joking (Genesis 19:14). The angels delivered Lot, his wife and his two daughters (Genesis 19:15-23). Then God utterly destroyed these cities. However, Lot’s wife turned back, and she became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26).

Lot’s daughters may have believed they were the only people left living in the world. So, they decided to get their father drunk and lay with him (Genesis 19:30-35). Through incest, Lot’s daughters had children; and their descendants were the Ammonites and the Moabites (Genesis 19:36-38). These nations refused to give Israel assistance; instead they hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel. God cursed these nations and forbade them from the assembly of God (Deuteronomy 23:3-4).

Yet, in God’s mercy, love and grace, Ruth, a Moabite, married Boaz and became a part of the bloodline of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-17). How amazing is God’s mercy, love and grace towards us!

God's grace turns out men and women with a strong family
likeness to Jesus Christ…
~Oswald Chambers~

FRIDAY August 18, 2017

Consecration

For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chiefs of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. In the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah all Israel gave the portions for the singers and the gatekeepers, a portion for each day. They also consecrated holy things for the Levites, and the Levites consecrated them for the children of Aaron.

Nehemiah 12:46

Notice how the holy things were consecrated to the Lord for their use for the children of Aaron. At this time, Nehemiah left to go back to Persia. He was accountable to the king to return after twelve years. He then came back again to Jerusalem as the governor of Judah (Nehemiah 13: 6-7).

Imagine, after the people of God had studied God’s Word, prayed, worshiped, and signed the covenant, Nehemiah now saw that the people had already begun to backslide––how sad. It had become chaotic! What had happened? When Nehemiah left, Eliashib the priest had compromised by allowing Tobiah the Ammorite to have a room in the house of God (verses 4-5). The Scriptures forbade it! (Deuteronomy 23:3-6) Nehemiah was grieved; his well-known enemy was in the camp! Also, the Jews had intermarried with women of Ashod, Ammon and Moab (verse 23). The priesthood and the people should have remained consecrated to God.

How we need to live consecrated lives before the Lord! We should never compromise with the things of the world. God has set us apart from this world: …He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love… (Ephesians 1:4).

Nehemiah was a man who consecrated himself to the Lord. God heard his prayers and used his life to bring about a great revival. As governor of Judah, God would again use him to put things back in order. May we learn from the life of Nehemiah. If we consecrate our lives to God, He will hear our prayers and do a great work through us.

But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The LORD will hear when I call to Him.
~Psalm 4:3~

THURSDAY August 17, 2017

Walking in Obedience

And at the same time some were appointed over the rooms of the storehouse for the offerings, the firstfruits, and the tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions specified by the Law for the priests and Levites; for Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who ministered. Both the singers and the gatekeepers kept the charge of their God and the charge of the purification, according to the command of David and Solomon his son.

Nehemiah 12:44-45

In the past, the nation of Israel had sinned against God. The Scriptures record for us their constant decline and apostasy. Their disobedience had been an ongoing problem. They would say, but they would not do! God’s people never obeyed Deuteronomy 6 and Deuteronomy 28-30. Neither did they listen to Joshua’s exhortation he gave towards the end of his life (Joshua 22-24).

All the way through the book of Judges, Israel fell into a terrible cycle of sin. In 1 and 2 Samuel, Israel rebelled. They did not want to be governed by God; they wanted a king to rule over them like the other nations. Even during the history of 1 and 2 Chronicles, God’s people would not listen to His Word; neither would they keep their covenant with God.

In the book of Nehemiah, God’s people had taken new steps of dedication; they began to walk in obedience with their God. After being out of fellowship with the Lord, God’s people had returned. Remember, they had not heard the Word of the Lord for so long, and publicly there had been no prayer within the congregation. Now, all of a sudden, by the Holy Spirit, they had come to a place of great conviction.

In what condition is your relationship with the Lord? Do you find yourself in a place of disobedience? If you are not reading God’s Word or praying, it is time to take the necessary steps to return to church. As you hear God’s Word once more, the Holy Spirit will convict you and do a new work in your life. Then you can begin again to walk in obedience with your God.

Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth;
shall you not know it?
~Isaiah 43:19~

WEDNESDAY August 16, 2017

Celebration and Dedication

Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps.

Nehemiah 12:27

Incredibly, the time had come for the wall of Jerusalem to be dedicated. After all the teaching of the Scriptures, listening to God’s Word, meditation on it, praying and worshiping the Lord, God brought about a revival among His people. As they had spoken to the Lord, they had waited on Him to speak. They were allowing God to fill them. In this beautiful chapter the Lord is honored among them; He is lifted up.

As we read the Scriptures, pray and worship the Lord, may He bring us into a place of a real consciousness of the majesty of Christ. When we come before Him, there should be a true reverence, humiliation and a separation of our lives to the Lord. Philippians 2:10-11 reveals the supremacy of Christ:

…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Knowing that Christ is Lord should cause us to serve Him with all of our hearts. We not only need to love Him, but we need to learn all about Him. Our obedience to Christ should be a response to His love, as He has freely given to us all that we need in life: His [Christ] divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness (2 Peter 1:3 NIV). Does your life bring honor and glory to Christ?

Give to the LORD the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!
~1 Chronicles 16:29~

TUESDAY August 15, 2017

Are You Ready to Follow the Lord?

Now these are the priests and the Levites who came up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, Shechaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah, Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, and Jedaiah.

Nehemiah 12:1-7

Going back to Nehemiah 8, we saw the revival that had come because the people were reading and studying God Word. It had been such a long time since the people had read the Word of God. In Nehemiah 9, the people of God continued in the Word and prayer. When they began to read the Scriptures, it caused great conviction, repentance and renewal of a covenant––an agreement with God.

In Nehemiah 10, they signed the document as they were ready to follow the Lord. The list of names continued through Nehemiah 10-12; it included the family names of priests and Levites who had returned from Babylon (Nehemiah 12:1-26).

During the year churches will take young adults to youth retreats and children to summer camps. While they are there, the youth and children spend uninterrupted time studying God’s Word and praying. As they listen to the studies, they often become convicted by the Word of God. At some youth retreats, while sitting around a bonfire, the leaders have those attending write on a piece of paper whatever they want to get rid of in their lives. It is as if they, too, have made a covenant with God. Then they will take that piece of paper and cast it into the fire.

However, understand it is one thing to offer God a passionate prayer of confession, and quite something else to live an obedient life after we say, “Amen.” Do we really mean what we pray? Are we truly ready to follow the Lord?

“Whoever desires to come after Me [Jesus], let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
~Mark 8:34~

MONDAY August 14, 2017

Repentance is the Fruit of Revival

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

Nehemiah 9:1-2

In the book of Nehemiah, we have seen a big turnaround in the lives of the children of Israel. They had placed their individual names on a document in a covenant to obey God’s Word (Nehemiah 10). But what did it take to get there? Repentance!

If you read books written in the eighteen and nineteen hundreds, there are many written about revival. But when does revival really come? When John the Baptist preached his message, it was simple: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Jesus’ message was the same:

Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15-16).

You may ask “What is the Gospel?” Paul declared the Gospel simply:

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures… (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Do you believe the message of the Gospel? On an individual basis repentance is the fruit of revival.

“Therefore bear fruitsfruits worthy of repentance…”
~Luke 3:8~

SUNDAY August 13, 2017

Consider Your Residence

These are the heads of the province who dwelt in Jerusalem. (But in the cities of Judah everyone dwelt in his own possession in their cities—Israelites, priests, Levites, Nethinim, and descendants of Solomon’s servants.) Also in Jerusalem dwelt some of the children of Judah and of the children of Benjamin…

Nehemiah 11:3-4

Nehemiah 11 records a long list of names of people who dwelt in the city of Jerusalem, and those from among Israel, who dwelt within other cities and villages. Nehemiah listed the names of the urban population and leaders of the providences who lived in Jerusalem (verses 3-24). Included were the Nethinim, descendants of the Gibeonites (Joshua 9). People from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin had also settled in Jerusalem.

Also listed are the names of the priests (verses 10-14), and all the Levites who took care of the business outside of God’s House (verses 15-18). Then the gatekeepers and temple servants were recorded (verse 19-21). Nehemiah wrote down the names of the overseers of the Levites at Jerusalem and the singers (verse 22). The sons of Asaph led the worship in the house of the Lord. They did not entertain the people, but prepared the people’s hearts to receive the Word of God. Pethahiah, the Persian king’s deputy, was also entered on the list of names (verse 24). Then verses 25-36 listed all the names of the rural community.

No matter where you reside, God has placed you there. He has a plan and purpose for your life. He has given you gifts and talents to be used for His glory in the kingdom of God. You might be a gifted worship leader, pastor, administrative assistant, or a maintenance worker in the church. Other people have secular jobs. In whatever area you live and work, you are to be servants of the Lord and a light to all those around you.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill
cannot be hidden.”
~Matthew 5:14~

SATURDAY August 12, 2017

Wisdom from God

Now the leaders of the people dwelt at Jerusalem; the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to dwell in Jerusalem, the holy city, and nine-tenths were to dwell in other cities. And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 11:1-2

Nehemiah was not just a wise builder, but he was a wise captain. He had placed his trust in the Lord. Nehemiah knew the city of Jerusalem needed to be repopulated in order to defend the city from attack. There were about 50,000 who had returned home from Babylon. So, from out of the 50,000 who had returned, 5,000––ten out of every 100 of them would need to remain in the city.

Many people did not want to live within Jerusalem. They had purposely chosen to dwell in the outskirts of the city because Jerusalem was not rebuilt––it lay in ruins. The people were vulnerable to their enemies’ attacks. They needed to make sure they were no longer susceptible to their constant assaults. However, living in Jerusalem was not forced upon the people; they willingly volunteered to live in the city.

Wisdom for making good decisions is something we all need for our daily lives, especially when it affects others. The Bible teaches us in James 1:5: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

It is vital to come before the Lord and, in prayer, ask Him for His wisdom for the problems and situations in our lives. He will answer the righteous––those who are in Jesus Christ, whom He has made in right standing with God through His shed blood. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— (1Corinthians 1:30).

For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man
who is good in His sight….
~Ecclesiastes 2:26~

FRIDAY August 11, 2017

A Willing Sacrifice of Yourself

Now the leaders of the people dwelt at Jerusalem; the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to dwell in Jerusalem, the holy city, and nine-tenths were to dwell in other cities. And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered them to dwell at Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 11:1

Now that the children of Israel had given to God what was due, their tithes and offerings, they willingly gave themselves to God. Notice that they began to choose those who would stay in Jerusalem and those who would go to other cities. This whole scenario was set up so those who dwelt in Jerusalem could serve the Lord.

The Bible is full of examples of those who willingly sacrificed their lives in God’s call to serve the Lord. In the song of Deborah, the only woman judge of Israel, she mentioned the people of Israel and their leaders who sacrificed their lives in times of war. They faced the enemy together with God on their side:

“When leaders lead in Israel, when the people willingly offer themselves, bless the LORD! …My heart is with the rulers of Israel who offered themselves willingly with the people. Bless the LORD! (Judges 5:2, 9).

Jesus is the ultimate example of a willing sacrifice. Before going to the cross, He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if it is your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Hebrews 9:28 gives us the reason for Christ’s sacrifice: …so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Are you willing to go and serve the Lord in whatever place He may call you? Is your life an offering and a willing sacrifice? (Romans 12:1-2)

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep
to gain that which he cannot lose.
~Jim Elliot~

re be serious
and watchful in your prayers.
~1 Peter 4:7~

THURSDAY August 10, 2017

Never Neglect God’s House

For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the grain, of the new wine and the oil, to the storerooms where the articles of the sanctuary are, where the priests who minister and the gatekeepers and the singers are; and we will not neglect the house of our God.

Nehemiah 10:39

We have now come to the final conclusion statement of Nehemiah 10:39 …we will not neglect the house of our God. This last important phrase stands out, because God’s people had been guilty of neglecting the house of God in the past. They had their priorities all wrong. Remember, instead of taking care of God’s house, they were more concerned about building their own houses:

“Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:4).

In today’s society, people are neglecting to come to church. Instead, they want to stay in the comfort of their own homes watching the service from televisions or other devices; but what about serving the Lord and fellowshipping with other believers? Hebrews 10:24-25 exhorts us not to be isolated in our worship of God:

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Listen, I want you to remember one thing; you are the temple of the living God––the house of God. I beg you, by the mercies of the living God, to take to heart what God has said in His Word concerning giving and you will be blessed. We are living in the last days before the Lord returns. Seriously, we should be in church and be prayerful while we still can!

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious
and watchful in your prayers.
~1 Peter 4:7~

WEDNESDAY August 9, 2017

Receiving Tithes

And the priest, the descendant of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes; and the Levites shall bring up a tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the rooms of the storehouse.

Nehemiah 10:38

The priests were descendants from Aaron, from the tribe of Levi, who would receive the tithes from the people. In the Old Testament, God’s people would willingly give a tenth of everything, whether financial or from their lands’ produce, to the Lord (Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:21-28).

Tithing to the Lord goes even further back to the time of Abraham. He tithed to the Lord: …blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all (Genesis 14:20). In Genesis 28:20-22 Jacob made a vow to God concerning tithing:

“If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

You may ask, “What is the principle of giving in the New Testament?” In the beginning of each week, we should give to the Lord, with a cheerful attitude from the work we do: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper… (1 Corinthians 16:2). So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).

There is another interesting principle taught concerning tithing from these Scriptures. We do not take from people; we receive from them the tithes they are giving to the Lord, in obedience to His Word. Do you honor God by your obedience in tithing?

“I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings
that cost me nothing.”
~2 Samuel 24:24~

TUESDAY August 8, 2017

Offerings Filling Storerooms

…to bring the first fruits of our dough, our offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees, the new wine and oils, to the priests, to the storerooms of the house of our God; and to bring the tithes of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities.

Nehemiah 10:37

As the people obediently brought into storerooms the best of their breads, fruits, wines and oils the necessities of the priests were provided. The Levites were able to live from all these tithes and offerings.

The Apostle Paul often collected offerings to help with the churches’ necessities in Jerusalem: And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:3). Then Paul became the recipient of financial support from the churches of Macedonia:

…that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints (2 Corinthians 8:2-4).

Paul was a man of great financial integrity. He was a tentmaker by trade (Acts 18:2-3). In Acts 20:33-35, Paul told the elders of the Church:

“I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak…”

It is important that the tithes be brought into the house of God so that the ministry can be provided for, and the Church can continue to spread the truth of the Gospel to other communities.

“…And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
~Acts 20:35~

MONDAY August 7, 2017

Bring God Your First Fruits

And we made ordinances to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of the LORD; to bring the firstborn of our sons and our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks, to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God….

Nehemiah 10:35-36

Through this revival, God brought about true change among His people. They had separated themselves from the other nations and became submissive to His Word. They also parted themselves from mixed marriages. As they kept the Sabbath observances, they willingly gave to God from their first fruits. None of the people stole from God what belonged to Him (Malachi 3:10).

Paul the Apostle instructed the churches in Galatia and Corinth, and this applies to all of us, that we should give tithes on the first day of the week:

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper… (1Corinthians 16:1-2).

Imagine, if God’s people were obedient in their giving to the Lord, then many churches, television programs and radio stations would not have to become beggars for support. You have to give to God what belongs to Him. We should give God our best, not our cast-offs––things we no longer want or anything that does not have real value.

Remember, the more your take for yourself, the less you will have. No wonder we are in debt and lacking in provisions! Our offerings to God should be from our best––we should give to God first.

Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with
the firstfruits of all your increase…
~Proverbs 3:9~

SUNDAY August 6, 2017

The Altar of Our God

We cast lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for bringing the wood offering into the house of our God, according to our fathers’ houses, at the appointed times year by year, to burn on the altar of the LORD our God as it is written in the Law.

Nehemiah 10:34

Among the priests and the people, were chosen those who would bring wood into the house of God. They made an altar for the burnt sacrifices, according to what was written in their Law (Exodus 38:1-7). In the Old Testament, God required an animal sacrifice for sins. Hebrews 9:22 explains: And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

Interestingly, God tested Abraham and told him:

“Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22:2).

Abraham obeyed the Lord:

So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together (Genesis 22:6).

Isaac questioned the absence of the sacrifice in verse 7:

“My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

Abraham answered: “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” God did not allow Isaac to be killed as He had provided a ram in the thicket (Genesis 22:8-14). On that very same place; 2000 years later, Jesus died on the cross. The Lord had provided an offering, Jesus became a living sacrifice. Our heavenly Father gave to us His only Son for the sins of the world (John 3:16).

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
~John 1:29~

SATURDAY August 5, 2017

The House of God

Also we made ordinances for ourselves, to exact from ourselves yearly one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: for the showbread, for the regular grain offering, for the regular burnt offering of the Sabbaths, the New Moons, and the set feasts; for the holy things, for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our God.

Nehemiah 10:32-33

The people of Israel respected God and His Word. In making a covenant with Him, they resumed their tithing. God’s people made the choice to serve the Lord and began to set everything back in order, according to what was written in their Law. In their history, Joshua had challenged God’s people to make a choice: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve …as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

As Christians, we need to set godly priorities for our lives. At times, we fail to put God first. Are you obeying God’s Word and putting into practice the things you have read? How is your prayer life? Are you still tithing to the Lord, or have you stopped giving? God challenges us in Malachi 3:10:

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”

Be honest with yourself. Have you neglected the house of God by not contributing to the work of the Lord? Every day we make life choices. We can choose to make God our number one priority or focus on ourselves and what we want to do in life. We must keep accountable before the Lord, as He has made atonement for our sins through Christ (1 John 1:9). Then, like the children of Israel, we can set our lives back in order.

The last thing one knows is what to put first.
~Blaise Pascal~

WEDNESDAY August 2, 2017

Walking with God

“… these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes.”

Nehemiah 10:29

The people had joined together to walk in obedience to God’s Law. These dramatic changes happened in their lives because they had heard the Word of God and responded. The Scriptures took a dramatic effect in their lives. It had caused them to stand true to what was written, and they decided to live by what was required of them. All this happened as a result of the people standing outside for six hours, listening to the Word of God (Nehemiah 8).

We need to walk closely with God. In our personal relationship with the Lord, the Scriptures tell us how to walk with Him. Like Israel––God’s chosen people––we need to …keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him (Deuteronomy 8:6). Understand, we are no longer under the law, but grace (Romans 6:14), but in the New Testament, Jesus said:

“‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).

We are living in the last days before Christ’s return. Ephesians 5:15-16 exhorts us: See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Romans 13:13 also exhorts us: Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.

If I walk with the world, I can’t walk with God
~Dwight L. Moody~

TUESDAY August 1, 2017

Adding Your Name to the List

Now the rest of the people—the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding––

Nehemiah 10:28-29

Nehemiah had the people agree to the covenant and they placed their own seal on the document––amazing! They all understood that by adding their seal, they had agreed to enter into an oath of obedience to God. If God’s Word was not obeyed, then His chastening would come instead of His blessings. This is exactly what Moses had told them in Deuteronomy 28:1-2:

“… if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:”

Moses continued to elaborate on all the blessings of obedience (Deuteronomy 28:3-14). Then the children of Israel were warned of the consequences of not obeying the Lord:

“But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you” (Deuteronomy 28:15).

Moses, from Deuteronomy 28:16-68, described to the people the awful results of their willful disobedience. Sadly, God’s Word had come to pass; God’s people had experienced captivity. Other nations now despised them, as they had to serve these foreign people. Interestingly, we all have to serve somebody. Do you want to serve the Lord or serve your flesh?

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
~Romans 6:16~

MONDAY 31 July, 2017

He Knows My Name

The leaders of the people: Parosh, Pahath-Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, Hodijah, Hashum, Bezai, Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, Ahijah, Hanan, Anan, Malluch, Harim, and Baanah.

Nehemiah 10:14-27

Within Nehemiah 10, there are lists of names to be read which can become very laborious and monotonous. However, I believe the Holy Spirit wanted to put each person’s name in the Scriptures to remind us how God knows each one of us by name. We are not just a number to God; we are important to Him and He thinks about us all the time.

Think about this incredible passage of Scripture for a moment, Psalm 139:17-18:

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You.

Consider this! Before Jesus met a person, He already foreknew them. In John 1:17, Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Jesus already knew the Samaritan woman. When He had asked her about her husband, she answered: “I have no husband.” Jesus responded by revealing her sinful life: “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly” (John 4:17-18).

Jesus also saw a chief tax collector who had gone up into a tree to see Him. Jesus knew Him by name and said: “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house” (Luke 19:5).

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.”
~Isaiah 43:1~

FRIDAY July 28, 2017

Heads or Tails?

“Here we are, servants today! And the land that You gave to our fathers, to eat its fruit and its bounty, Here we are, servants in it! And it yields much increase to the kings You have set over us, because of our sins; also they have dominion over our bodies and our cattle at their pleasure; and we are in great distress. And because of all this, we make a sure covenant and write it; our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it.”

Nehemiah 9:36-38

God’s people became servants in their own land! Think about that for a moment, they were no longer free! King Artaxerxes and the other Persian kings took the increase of the land all away––everything the Lord had given them. This happened because of their sins. Now they were in great distress! God had warned them that they would not be a head nation, but they would become the tail:

“The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail” (Deuteronomy 28:43-44).

The people made a covenant with God because of all the turmoil they were enduring. They hoped revival would come. If only they would have listened and observed the commandments, they would have prospered:

“…the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them” (Deuteronomy 28:13).

Does that sound like America today? We should be a God-fearing nation, one that serves the Lord and prospers. Seriously, our land is becoming a foreign land––a place full of heathen gods. We need to pray for America, the Land of the Free (2 Chronicles 7:14). Those who come to America should hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ; we need to be a light to them.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill
cannot be hidden.”
~Matthew 5:14~

THURSDAY July 27, 2017

Failure to Serve the Lord!

“For they have not served You in their kingdom, or in the many good things that You gave them, or in the large and rich land which You set before them; nor did they turn from their wicked works.”

Nehemiah 9:35

God’s people openly repented before God. They had not served the Lord in the Promised Land. He had blessed them with a fruitful and productive land. Moses had warned them of what God had said beforehand:

“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess…Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you—‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him….” (Deuteronomy 6:1-3, 13).

Joshua led the people into the Promised Land, and towards the end of his life, he carefully instructed the people:

“But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Joshua 22:5).

Yet, God’s people failed to serve the Lord or turn away from their wickedness. What about us? Have we failed to serve the Lord? God has given us good things and wealth. We should not throw away the years of our lives in wickedness or waste our wealth on ourselves. Do you not realize that God wants to use our lives to make a difference in His kingdom?

Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
~Psalm 2:11~

WEDNESDAY July 26, 2017

The Just Judge

“However You are just in all that has befallen us; for You have dealt faithfully, but we have done wickedly. Neither our kings nor our princes, our priests nor our fathers, have kept Your law, nor heeded Your commandments and Your testimonies, with which You testified against them.”

Nehemiah 9:33-34

Within the long and sincere prayer of God’s people was the acknowledgement of their sins. Everything that had happened to them as a nation was a direct result of their wickedness. They knew the Lord was just in His judgments. Israel had not obeyed and kept God’s law. No one, from the kingly positions in the land to their fathers, had kept the Lord’s commandments or testimonies.

As Christians, think about our own lives. God is just and we were once wicked. Jeremiah 17:9-10 tells us the truth about our hearts and minds:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”

Although God has done a transformation in our hearts and lives, if we neglect to listen and obey God’s Word, after a given period of grace, the Lord will turn us over to be chastened: “For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:6). God is a just judge. He can use someone else or a difficult circumstance to accomplish His justice. He has ways of getting our attention.

Although painful, chastening has its benefits; it is for our own good. Hebrews 12:10-11 confirms that chastening is …for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness… afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

The Bible insists that God is entirely just, and that therefore ultimately justice will be done, and will be seen to be done.
~D. A. Carson~

TUESDAY July 25, 2017

Our Awesome God

“Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and awesome God,who keeps covenant and mercy: do not let all the trouble seem small before You that has come upon us, our kings and our princes, our priests and our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until this day.”

Nehemiah 9:32

Historically, in this lengthy prayer, the people mentioned the days of the kings of Assyria as the reign of King Sennacherib. God’s people are up to their current time period. Before their great, mighty and awesome God, they acknowledged their sin. God is holy. Their sins were no small matter, nor were their consequences. What God had allowed to happen to them was not to be taken lightly––it was serious. Israel now knew the terrible effect their sins had on their nation. From the greatest to the least, sin had affected their kings, princes, priests, prophets, leaders and the people.

Lessons from history can be applied to our present time. We often do not take our sin seriously. Many people take their sin lightly. They do not understand, according to God’s Word, that they are sinning against a holy God. It is a big deal! If you think your sins are a small matter before God, you are wrong. Look around you; who is being affected by your sinful ways?

Other people will reap with you the consequences of your sins. This is exactly the reason why we are in the mess we are in these days. Yet, if we yield ourselves to the Lord and ask for mercy, God will give us His grace. We will be able to enjoy the grace of God and what He wants to do in our lives. Then, as a result, we shall recognize our God’s greatness and His might. Our God is awesome––I love that.

God is good! Every day I am so happy and excited to see what God wants to do in my life. Every morning I make myself available to Him. I want to know God’s goodness and mercy––I want to know the Lord!

For the LORD Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth. ~Psalm 47:2~

MONDAY July 24, 2017

Great Mercy

“Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; for You are God, gracious and merciful.”

Nehemiah 9:31

Once again the people reflected on God’s great mercy. When placed in the hands of their enemies, even though they suffered, they still recognized that in the midst of their troubles, God had mercy on their lives.

There were times in Israel’s history that God could have wiped them out entirely. In Deuteronomy 9:13-14, God spoke to Moses and said:

“…‘I have seen this people, and indeed they are a stiff-necked people. Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.’ ”

Then in Exodus 32:10, God once again spoke to Moses: “Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.”

Moses stood in the gap for the children of Israel and became an intercessor for them. He knew God’s character was merciful and pleaded on their behalf (Exodus 32:11-13).

Imagine, the Lord in His great mercy has not consumed us because of our sins! Ephesians 2:4-5 tells us:

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…

Seriously, in your life would you rather have God’s mercy or God’s judgment?

Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
~Lamentations 3:22-23~

SUNDAY July 23, 2017

God’s Patience with People

“Yet for many years You had patience with them, and testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen; therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.”

Nehemiah 9:30

God is so patient with His people. He had sent them His prophets to speak His messages to them. Yet, they would not listen, and they suffered the consequences. Israel became captives of people from other lands.

God has sent us His Son to be our Savior, but so many people do not listen to the Gospel message. Scientists can calculate complicated mathematics and create satellites to place in space. America has even landed a spaceship on the moon! Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin were the first two human beings to walk on the surface of the moon. Yet, men do not believe in God, even though they are searching for Him.

Scientists throughout the world also study biology and physics. They understand cell structure––atoms, protons, neutrons and electrons but many of these brilliant minds cannot fathom the simplicity of believing in God. They cannot conceive it! They are blind to the truth, yet it is right there in front of them. God created everything and He is in command.

NASA spends so much time, money and effort in trying to reach different planets such as Mars. But instead of trying to reach planets in our solar system, imagine if all that time, energy and money was used to seek and convert the spiritually lost in our world for Christ. The earth would be more like the kingdom age––seriously (Isaiah 11:1-10). But men are selfish, greedy and usually have their own agendas––think about that.

God is so patient with us. The God who created the universe has sent us His Son so we can know Him. He has communicated with us. Read the Bible; He is nearer than you think (Acts 17:27).

Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain
who sets the planets in motion.
~Isaac Newton~

SATURDAY July 22, 2017

A Failure to Hear

“And testified against them, that You might bring them back to Your law.Yet they acted proudly, and did not heed Your commandments, but sinned against Your judgments, ‘Which if a man does, he shall live by them.’ and they shrugged their shoulders, stiffened their necks,and would not hear.”

Nehemiah 9:29

Even though God had mercy and delivered His people, their deeds and consequences stood as a testimony against them. The Lord directed them back to the His law, but once again they rebelled. What was the problem? The priests were not to blame. It was the failure of the parents to pass on to their children from generation to generation God’s commandments and the great things He had done. Sadly, there came a generation that did not know the Lord or His works (Judges 2:10).

Psalm 78:5-7 explains what the parents should have done to keep the knowledge of God in the minds and hearts of the next generation:

He [God]…appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments….

From Israel’s past history to the present time, not much has changed. Go back to the work God did through Moody; it is not the same today––it is dead. It is the same with Finney, Spurgeon and even with Chuck Smith, including those after him. It seems that after God does a work in the first generation, it is not often seen in the next generation. How parents need to pass on to their children the wonderful knowledge of God!

We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wonderful
works that He has done.
~Psalm 78:4~

FRIDAY July 21, 2017

Merciful Deliverances

“But after they had rest, they again did evil before You. Therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them;yet when they returned and cried out to You, You heard from heaven; and many times You delivered them according to Your mercies….”

Nehemiah 9:28

The people’s prayer recited the sinful cycle of Israel’s behavior. You would think they would have learned from their mistakes, but they continued to sin. However, when Israel was chastened by the Lord, as He allowed their enemies to rule over them, the people returned to God. At last they remembered their God’s greatness and cried out to Him. The Lord heard from heaven, and in His mercy, He delivered them.

I have often noticed that people will come to church during a great difficulty or tragedy. God, it seems, has finally gotten their full attention. But after the Lord answers their cries for help, they frequently fall back into their old sinful ways. You must come to God just as you are and open your heart to Him. Then you can get rid of the garbage––the sins in your life.

Do you want to get close to the heart of God? Then wait in the presence of the Lord, and He will move in your life. The only way God can move unhindered in your life, and show you His mercy, is for you to continually come before Him and ask forgiveness of your sins (1 John 1:9). You need to abide in Christ (John 15).

Once a month on a Sunday night, we encourage the people to stand up before the Lord to worship Him. We have seen great results. Some people are healed, while others have drawn closer to God. As His people wait on the Lord, they receive from Him. They get to know who the Lord is––that is important. As people finally come to a realization that without God they can do nothing, many have surrendered their lives to Him.

Show us Your mercy, LORD, and grant us Your salvation.
~Psalm 85:7~

THURSDAY July 20, 2017

God’s Chosen Deliverers

“Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies, who oppressed them; and in the time of their trouble, when they cried to You,You heard from heaven; and according to Your abundant mercies You gave them deliverers who saved them from the hand of their enemies.”

Nehemiah 9:27

As God’s people are praying, they continue to go through their entire history. In the book of Judges, we learn that because of their disobedience, they constantly fell into the hands of their enemies. God chose different men and one woman, Deborah, to be judges––leaders that would be used of the Lord to help deliver His people.

When God goes to war, He chooses the most unlikely soldiers. He hands over to them the most unusual weapons to accomplish His will. God took care of every problem; His ways confounded their enemies. Shamgar killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad, and he also delivered Israel (Judges 3:31).

The Lord used Jael, a woman, to kill Sisera, the captain of King Jabin’s army. She killed Israel’s enemy with a tent peg. She placed it right through his temple while he was asleep (Judges 4:17-21). Gideon was used by God to fight the Midianites, who were as numerous as locusts. He went with 300 men who were not armed with swords or spears. They used simple pitchers with torches, as they blew the trumpets (Judges 6:11-16; Judges 7). Samson, by the Spirit of the Lord, singlehandedly killed 1,000 men with a jaw bone of a donkey (Judges 15:14-17).

When we come to Christ, we often forget that God wants us to learn how to fight our battles against the enemy with Him (Ephesians 6:10-18). Christians have to recognize their weapons are not of this world.

…For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God
for pulling down strongholds….
~2 Corinthians 10:3-4~

WEDNESDAY July 19, 2017

A Rebellious State

“Nevertheless they were disobedient and rebelled against You, cast Your law behind their backs and killed Your prophets, who testified against them to turn them to Yourself; and they worked great provocations.”

Nehemiah 9:26

Wow! Once again the past generation was fully described. Even though God kept His Word to them and brought them into the Promised Land, they rebelled against Him. They did not even respect the anointing of God’s prophets. They refused to listen to them, and, instead killed them! They willfully rejected God, and their behavior caused God’s judgment to come upon them.

It is amazing to me how many times in the past, in the present and looking into the future, there will be people who will be just like the children of Israel. They will begin to forget God’s power, goodness and everything He has done in their lives. They come to the point of rebelling against him and have to suffer the consequences of their bad choices.

In the hippie movement, we saw the love and the power of God. The people enjoyed the simplicity of a life of God’s love––love––love! Christians really loved one another and trusted one another. Now churches have become a place of backbiting, fighting and even hatred. The people murmur and complain. When there is no harmony or unity, Satan causes confusion and division. Yet, we are the Church of Jesus Christ! It is incredible how far down we have gone.

Paul warned believers that people will become apostates (2 Timothy 4:1-4). They will try to destroy the work of God, as they do not truly fear Him. There will be people who become coldhearted betrayers, who will even come against those of their own families (2 Timothy 3:1-4). Yet, God is on the throne.

“ ‘A man’s enemies will be those of is own household.’ ”
~Matthew 10:36~

TUESDAY July 18, 2017

Delight in God’s Goodness

“And they took strong cities and a rich land, and possessed houses full of all goods, cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and grew fat, and delighted themselves in Your great goodness.”

Nehemiah 9:25

Uninterrupted in prayer, the people remembered the beautiful land the Lord had given them. It was full of produce and well watered. They could just enjoy everything God had provided for them. Israel delighted in God’s goodness.

As we venture out in our own personal lives, we must recognize everything that we have gained has been given to us by God. We were born naked and began with nothing. Do you remember when you were single? If the Lord has blessed you with a wife, children, a home and everything you have accumulated then you, too, can delight in His goodness. All God has done in our lives is because of His greatness, His goodness, His grace and His mercy. We do not deserve anything; it is the Lord who has blessed us. It is all God––He did it all!

As Christians come into a greater consciousness of their Creator, they need to be thankful and worship God for His goodness, love and mercy. He has given them everything good in this life. Believers must worship Him for the rest of their lives. God deserves all the glory and honor due to His name.

God did not save us so we could have a successful career as a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer in this life. In fact, whatever your career may be, you are to bring glory and honor to His name. Remember we are nothing apart from Him. Eventually we are going to spend eternity with God, and worship is what a relationship with God is all about.

Delight yourself also in the LORD,
and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
~Psalm 37:4~

MONDAY July 17, 2017

Possessed Inheritance

“So the people went in and possessed the land; You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hands, with their kings and the people of the land,that they might do with them as they wished.”

Nehemiah 9:24

God’s people continued to recount their long history. Through Abraham, the Lord built His nation. He used Moses to lead and deliver His people from their bondage in Egypt. Through God’s goodness, the people had divine guidance and provision in the wilderness. He gave His people the Promised Land that they may enjoy their inheritance.

However, Moses misrepresented the Lord to the people as an angry God. It cost Moses––big time. He could not enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:10-13). God would use His servant Joshua to lead them into the land (Numbers 27:15-19). He established the work and fulfilled His promises to His people. God had chosen men who would accomplish His work. God worked with humble men, anointed them and used them. God began the work, blessed the work, supplied for the work and, in the end, the Lord got the glory.

All God wants us to learn is to be a man or a woman of faith. We need to be obedient and respond to what He has told us to do. How are we going to do it? We need to seek the mind of the Lord and go through the doors He opens––doors that no man can shut (Revelation 3:8). Any doors that are shut, we dare not open, unless God opens those doors to us. Seriously, we do not want to set out to do any work for God that is from our own will. It has to be all of God and His perfect will.

Then just like God’s leaders in history, we have to trust God for His guidance, direction and provision. Then we will learn firsthand where God guides, God provides.

Where God guides, God provides.
~Chuck Smith~

SUNDAY July 16, 2017

The LORD Our Creator

“You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven,the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all….”

Nehemiah 9:6

God’s people declare a great truth in their prayers and praise of the Lord. The LORD is Creator. He made the heavens and the earth. Psalm 19:1 confirms this truth: The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Psalm 147:4 proclaims: He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.

God had said to Abraham in Genesis 15:5: “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” God had promised to David: “ ‘As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant…’ ” (Jeremiah 33:22).

Galileo was wrong about his count of the stars. When he looked at them through his homemade telescope, he increased the count of visible stars from about 3,000 with the naked eye, in one hemisphere, to 30,000. But the stars are innumerable! If only scientists would have read the Bible, they would have found out these evidences in the Scriptures.

Scientists should have also read Nehemiah 9:6, because God not only created the heaven––the sky and space of our galaxy––but the heaven of heavens, all the other galaxies in the universe. Recently, through today’s technology, such as the Hubble space telescope, astronomers have discovered many more spiral galaxies. Incredibly, even a new solar system has been found. It has seven earth-like planets orbiting a nearby star––amazing!

Incredibly, the Gospel was written in the stars. The Star of Bethlehem was a sign in the heavens that the Messiah was going to be born.

“For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
~Matthew 2:2~

SATURDAY July 15, 2017

True Worship

…“Stand up and bless the LORD your God Forever and ever! Blessed be Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise!...The host of heaven worships You.”

Nehemiah 9:5-6

In review of Nehemiah 9, the greatness of God stands out. The people came to know that God was the only One to be exalted. Imagine the hosts of heaven––the angels who forever come before the Lord. There were myriads––millions upon millions––surrounding His throne. It must be an incredible sight in heaven as the host of heaven worships God! John, who wrote the book of Revelation, described what he saw:

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels . . . and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:11-12)

Do we really worship our great God? The angels do! The host of heaven worships the Lamb of God––Jesus Christ who was slain on the cross. Worship of God is important. Lately, I have observed that most of the worship has become entertainment. The worship leader is coaching the people, rather than leading the people into the presence of God.

When we are worshiping in God’s presence, there should be nothing that distracts us. The Lord should have your complete attention. Our worship needs to come naturally as an expression of our love for God. As we stand in His presence, true worship comes from our hearts. Just as Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, God has to become real in our lives if we are to worship Him sincerely.

“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship
in spirit and truth.”
~John 4:24~

FRIDAY July 14, 2017

Enjoying God’s Promises

“Moreover You gave them kingdoms and nations, and divided them into districts. So they took possession of the land of Sihon, the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan. You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and brought them into the land which You had told their fathers to go in and possess.”

Nehemiah 9:22-23

Remember when the children of Israel were commanded to go into the Promised Land and take full possession? God had a short plan; it was only about an eleven day journey. But because of their unbelief, the children of Israel had to take the long way and it took them forty years!

Those who entered the Promised Land under Joshua’s Leadership were indeed blessed. The people’s prayer in Nehemiah 9 reflected on the fulfillment of God’s promises. God had told Abraham:

Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).

“…I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies” (Genesis 22:17).

There are estimated to be 5467 promises in the Bible. As you read through the Bible, underline the promises that speak to your heart personally. Stand on God’s promises––He is true to His Word.

For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him amen,
to the glory of God through us.
~2 Corinthians 1:20~

THURSDAY July 13, 2017

Abundantly Sustained

“You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst. Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing; their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.”

Nehemiah 9:20-21

As the children of Israel accurately and prayerfully uttered their history together, they recalled the goodness of God in the wilderness. The Lord had given them His Spirit to instruct them. He abundantly sustained them. He met all their needs physically, emotionally and spiritually.

There is no better way to remain steadfast with the Lord than to think on His greatness and goodness. He takes good care of us. Jesus reassures us of His faithful provision:

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you” (Luke 12:27-31).

Jesus also spoke of the Holy Spirit; He will instruct and guide us:

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13).

Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand
or whenever you turn to the left.
~Isaiah 30:21~

WEDNESDAY July 12, 2017

Manifold Mercies

“Even when they made a molded calf for themselves,And said, ‘This is your god That brought you up out of Egypt,’ And worked great provocations, Yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, to lead them on the road; nor the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way they should go.”

Nehemiah 9:18-19

Notice that even though the children of Israel were stiff-necked and rebellious, God still directed their steps. He was a light to them. Numbers 14:2-4 tells us exactly what God’s people were like:

And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! …Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt” (Numbers 14:2-4).

The children of Israel were guilty of complaining against the Lord. They acted rebelliously and wanted to choose another leader. Instead of fully following the Lord to the Promised Land, they wanted to turn back to Egypt. Psalm 78:8 records their sinfulness: And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness. Psalm 78:17 reveals their hearts: …a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.

Do you find yourself complaining against God? Are you rebelling against His Word? No matter how difficult this earthly journey may be, your heart must be set to steadfastly follow the Lord. God will not forsake us; He will give us His manifold mercies as He guides us through this life.

God never promises us an easy time, only a safe arrival.
~Anonymous~

TUESDAY July 11, 2017

Stiff-Necked People

“But they and our fathers acted proudly, hardened their necks, and did not heed Your commandments. They refused to obey, and they were not mindful of Your wonders that You did among them. But they hardened their necks, and in their rebellion they appointed a leader to return to their bondage. But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful,Slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them.”

Nehemiah 9:16-17

The people of God not only reflected on God’s grace, mercy, kindness, longsuffering, and forgiveness, but they remembered how the prior generation of Israel and their leaders’ rebellion in the wilderness.

God had blessed His people tremendously. He had delivered them from Egypt and given them a promise of a new land. The children of Israel had seen God’s great miracles, yet they rebelled. When Moses was on top of the mountain of God, Mount Sinai, and spoke with the Lord (Exodus 24:12-13), the children of Israel made a god––a golden calf. This is where Israel’s rebellion started:

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him” (Exodus 32:1-2).

The Lord punished His people for their sins and sent a plague among them (Exodus 32:35). God told Moses to tell His people:

“Say to the children of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you. Now therefore, take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do to you’ ” (Exodus 33:5).

Seriously, sometimes God has to humble us and strip us of our pride. Our self-will needs to be broken before the Lord can lead us into the promises and blessings He has planned for our lives.

If we learned humility it might spare us humiliation.
~Vance Havner~

MONDAY July 10, 2017

Possess the Promise

“You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger,and brought them water out of the rock for their thirst, and told them to go in to possess the land which You had sworn to give them.”

Nehemiah 9:15

God’s people continued their prayers and thought on God’s miraculous provision in the wilderness. There were estimated to be between 2.5 million to 3 million people who had left Egypt: Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children (Exodus 12:37). In the wilderness God provided His people with bread: “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you (Exodus 16:4). Psalm 78:24 gives us another description of God’s provision:

…He had commanded the clouds above, and opened the doors of heaven, [God] had rained down manna on them to eat, and given them of the bread of heaven (Psalm 78:23-24).

God also preserved His people by giving them water out of a rock! Moses was commanded to strike a rock: Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink” (Exodus 17:5-6). Psalm 78:15-16 gives to us another account: He split the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink in abundance like the depths. He also brought streams out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.

God had led and provided for His people as they neared the Promised Land. The Lord kept His promise. Now by faith, they should have entered and possessed the land. Instead, the Lord had to chasten them. He had to lead them on a longer journey in the wilderness than He intended. Those older than twenty, except Joshua and Caleb, died in the wilderness because of their unbelief (Numbers 14:29; Numbers 26:65). They never made it into the Promised Land or enjoyed His promises to the fullest.

If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
~2 Timothy 2:13~

SUNDAY July 9, 2017

Joy of Obedience

“You came down also on Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them just ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments. You made known to them Your holy Sabbath,and commanded them precepts, statutes and laws,by the hand of Moses Your servant.”

Nehemiah 9:13-14

God’s people remembered when God descended on Mount Sinai. They witnessed the thundering and the flashes of lightening (Exodus 20:18). Moses was called by God to come up to the mountain. He would be given the tablets of stone, the law and the commandments (Exodus 24:12). God’s people needed to obey Him because He had a good plan for their future.

Understand that obedience does not just come by hearing God’s Word, but by doing His Word. Unless God’s people actually apply the Word of God to their lives, they are not really being obedient to the Scriptures. When we are living in disobedience, God will give us a period of grace. He will continue to sustain us and still show us His love and mercy. But within that space of time, God expects us to correct the areas of disobedience in our lives––always.

If we, as God’s children, do not obey Him, then He will get our attention by using affliction. Understand affliction is God’s rod of correction. It is God’s way––never our way. God always wins. Why? He is in control. He will never force you to do His will, however He cannot contradict His Word.

What do you really want out of life? You see, it all depends on your submission to God as to what the outcome will be. The end results can be good or bad. That is why you need to seek the will of God. When you submit to God, you will have joy, peace and contentment in your life.

Joy is the natural out-come of the Christian's obedience
to the revealed will of God.
~John Blanchard~

SATURDAY July 8, 2017

Red Sea Reflections

“And You divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and their persecutors You threw into the deep, as a stone into the mighty waters. Moreover You led them by day with a cloudy pillar, and by night with a pillar of fire, to give them light on the road which they should travel.”

Nehemiah 9:11-12

God’s people continued to reflect on their long history, as they prayed and gave praise to their God. They reflected back on the mighty miracles of the Red Sea crossing. God divided the sea so they could walk through on dry ground. As the Egyptian army pursued them, the children of Israel began to be fearful. They thought they were going to die (Exodus 14:10-12), but God protected His people, He destroyed the Egyptian army:

So the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained (Exodus 14:27-28).

It is good to reflect on God’s goodness and praise Him for His faithfulness in our lives. Otherwise, like God’s people, we are prone to forget what God has done for us in the past. When we get our eyes off the Lord and place them on our problems, unbelief and doubt creep into our lives. We may even think we are going to die!

So often, we think God is not in control, but He is in control. When we feel God is not helping us, we get tempted to take situations into our own hands. We even have the tendency to criticize or falsely accuse God––that is our nature. But as you look back over your life, God brought you through the trial––right? Never criticize or falsely accuse God. Instead, remember His goodness.

High in the heavens, eternal God, thy goodness in full glory shines; thy truth shall break through every cloud that veils and darkens thy designs.
~Isaac Watts~

FRIDAY July 7, 2017

Remember Gods Mighty Acts

“You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heard their cry by the Red Sea. You showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh,Against all his servants, and against all the people of his land.For You knew that they acted proudly against them.So You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day.”

Nehemiah 9:9-10

As the prayer of the people continued, they acknowledged that God is a God who sees. He had heard the cry of His people in Egypt. In response the Lord did miraculous acts and delivered them from bondage. Egypt was full of pride and the Lord humbled them. Through Israel’s great deliverance, the Egyptians would come to know God: …the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them” (Exodus 7:5).

God became known among His own people: …that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son’s son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD” (Exodus 10:1-2).

The fame of God’s name would reach to other heathen nations. Rahab, a prostitute in the city of Jericho, told the spies from Israel:

“I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt… (Joshua 2:9).

The next time you see yourself in a difficult situation or problem, remember the Lord’s mighty acts in your own life. How did God rescue you? In what ways did God fulfill a specific need in your life?

I will remember the works of the LORD;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
~Psalm 77:11~

THURSDAY July 6, 2017

Prayers of Revival

“You are the LORD God, who chose Abram, and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and gave him the name Abraham. You found his heart faithful before You, and made a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites—to give it to his descendants. You have performed Your words, for You are righteous.”

Nehemiah 9:7-8

Nehemiah listened to Israel’s entire history in a prayer of revival. In this prayer, we are going to hear about the greatness of God, the goodness of God and the grace of God. It reveals the majesty of the Lord and the depravity of man. Nehemiah 9 shows us God’s holiness and just how sinful we are––it is incredible.

The prayer revealed how Israel reacted to God’s great kindness, mercy, and goodness. They responded with great provocation, and because of their sins, they suffered and had great distress.

Even when we fall short and act terrible, God is kind, merciful and good.

Do you know what God desires for your life? You need to separate yourself from any sin, deny yourself, and make sure you remain hungry and thirsty for the Word of God. It is good to keep focused on the Lord.

Nehemiah 9 is one of three great national prayers that are recorded in the Bible. Ezra 9 and Daniel 9 are also incredible prayers. I can see the main reason behind these prayers; it is 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

America, as a nation, needs to be revived. Those who read God’s Word can prayerfully seek Him in humble intercession. Our great nation needs to turn to God and be forgiven. Only then can revival come.

When God is about to do a great work,
he pours out a spirit of supplication.
~Jonathan Edwards~

WEDNESDAY July 5, 2017

Words of Worship

“You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.”

Nehemiah 9:6

The Levites led the people into words of praise and adoration: “Stand up and bless the LORD your God forever and ever! Blessed be Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise! They worshiped their God––the Creator––and acknowledged that He alone is the Lord. They knew that angels––the host of heaven––worshiped His glorious majesty.

Psalm 148 is another wonderful psalm that invites us to praise the Lord. Praise must resonate in heaven and rise from the depths of the sea:

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens! …Praise the LORD from the earth, You great sea creatures and all the depths… (Psalm 148:1-4, 7).

All people who inhabit the earth, both great and small, should praise the Lord:…Kings of the earth and all peoples; princes and all judges of the earth; both young men and maidens; old men and children (Psalm 148:11-12). In our busy lives, it is easy to forget that we need to praise the Lord. There are so many reasons in our lives to praise God. Why not stand up and bless the Lord by praising Him each day of your life?

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven; to His feet thy tribute bring. Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, evermore His praises sing.
~Henry Francis Lyte~

TUESDAY July 4, 2017

Independence Day

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”

Matthew 12:25

British tyranny marked the rule of King George III over thirteen American colonies. High taxation and a long list of other grievances spurred the American rebellion. Thirteen colonies united in their cause––there was no division among them. A five man committee was assigned to draft a declaration. Thomas Jefferson was largely attributed with the work. On July 2, 1776, the vote was approved for the separation from Britain. On July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration of Independence was written by godly men who recognized the Supreme Judge of the world. These men united together to address the suffering and injustices of the British. Within the Declaration of Independence are these important statements:

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by authority of the good people of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and Independent States… all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved.

The war for America’s independence lasted from 1775–1783. On September 3, 1783, a treaty was signed in Paris, whereby Britain agreed to recognize the sovereignty of the United States, and formally ended the war. Every year, July 4, is the day we celebrate the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation. As Americans, we must continue to be united. Divided we shall never stand against our enemies.

As a leader, unity begins with you…
~John Maxwell~

MONDAY July 3, 2017

Stand in Exaltation

Then Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, andChenani stood on the stairs of the Levites and cried out with a loud voice to the LORD their God. And the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said: “Stand up and bless the LORD your God forever and ever! Blessed be Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise!”

Nehemiah 9:4-5

Nehemiah 9 is a long chapter that magnifies God’s greatness, faithfulness and grace. It is all about God. He is the main subject. The chapter covers who God is, what He does for His people, and what His people must do for Him. Remember, as Ezra read from the Book of the Law, the people stood for six hours and listened. They placed a great significance in the worship of God and the reading of God’s Word.

The people had a true hunger for God’s Word. As they began to understand the Scriptures, joy filled their hearts. As the Word convicted the people, in humility before the Lord, they confessed their sins. In obedience, they had separated themselves to their God. Now they stood to their feet in worship. They exalted God’s greatness. God’s Word had an incredible effect on their lives. It is amazing to see how they reacted.

Today, many people’s relationship with God is very shallow––there is no depth. People will say they know God, but there is no true evidence that God’s Word has taken any effect. Who is this God we serve? Men like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knew God. But what about us? I believe there has to be a recognition of God’s attributes. If we do not understand the character and attributes of God, then how can we become like Him?

When you hear the teaching of the Word, what kind of response do you have? Your reaction should be the same as God’s people in the book of Nehemiah. Otherwise, God’s Word is not having an effect in your life.

“Everything about God is great, vast, and incomparable. He never forgets, never fails, never falters, never forfeits His word.”
~Arthur W. Pink~

SUNDAY July 2, 2017

Our Daily Priorities

And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God.

Nehemiah 9:3

Nehemiah comprehended the greatness of God in his life. He stood in awe with the people. Psalms 33:8 tells us: Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. Nehemiah knew the right way to come before the Lord’s presence. It was through fasting, prayer and confession of their sins.

On this particular day, the people continued to read the Book of the Law. They had prioritized their time; one fourth of their day way given to prayer, as they confessed their sins. Another fourth of the day was given over to worship. The whole congregation stood before the Lord singing, as if they were having their own worship conference––amazing!

In comparison, today’s church services will only have about 30 minutes of worship before the teaching of God’s Word––think about that! During that time, we should bring ourselves before the Lord to worship and confess our sins to Him. 1 John 1:9 tells us: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In my personal life, I take the time to fast and daily pray. Why? I desire to sit before God to make sure the closet of my life is clean before the Lord.

What about your daily priorities? How much time do you spend on yourself? I often give people this interesting challenge: write down on a sheet of paper, every half hour, what you are spending your time doing. Then, as you look over what you have written, you will know what your greatest priorities are in life.

A man's heart has only enough life in it to pursue one object fully.
~C. S. Spurgeon~

SATURDAY July 1, 2017

Unequally Yoked

Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

Nehemiah 9:2

In obedience to God’s Word, the people separated themselves from the foreign people among them. God’s people were commanded not to intermarry, as those people from other nations would influence them to worship other gods (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). The Lord wanted His people to be set apart. They were to be His special people:

“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 7:6).

What happens when you are unequally unyoked together with a non-believer? If you are in a relationship with a person who is not a Christian, you will eventually become influenced by them. There is no middle ground; either you are being an influence to others, or others are influencing you.

Christians in Corinth lived in a city full of idolatry and temple prostitution. The Apostle Paul reasoned this important truth with them:

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

It is God’s perfect will that you marry a Christian. If you are dating a non-believer, ask the Lord to help you obey His Word and separate from them. Why? God has called us to be separate.

Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”
~2 Corinthians 6:17-18~

FRIDAY June 30, 2017

Be Separate

Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

Nehemiah 9:2

Notice how God’s people began to separate themselves from all the foreign people––those among them who were not Jewish. God’s people were commanded to not intermarry with foreigners. Why? Those from other nations were full of idolatry; they worshiped idols and even sacrificed their children to them. God had called them to be separate:

Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly (Deuteronomy 7:3-4).

God warned His people that if they intermarried with these idolatrous people, their hearts would be turned away from Him. Then they would have to face His judgment as a consequence. The Prophet Jeremiah records the iniquity of their fathers. They had turned their back on God and did the unthinkable:

But they set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.’ (Jeremiah 32:35)

In judgment of His people’s sins God allowed the Babylonians to take them captive (Jeremiah 32:36). In His mercy, God had allowed His people to return.

“…For I will cause the captives of the land to return
as at the first,’ says the LORD.”
~Jeremiah 33:11~

THURSDAY June 29, 2017

Fasting, Sackcloth and Ashes

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads.

Nehemiah 9:1

God’s people had a time of celebration; they were glad and rejoiced. After they had read and studied the Word of God, the people were stirred up to fast, confess their sins and pray. Why? Surely they wanted to deny themselves in the presence of God. Revival and reform would happen among the people. But first, there was a true mourning over their sins. The people fasted and wore sackcloth––an irritant to the skin––like sand paper. They also placed dust on their heads and humbled themselves before their God.

It is important to know that whenever we fast; we are to abstain from the things our body craves. Have you considered the purpose behind fasting? Isaiah 58:6-7 tells us what God considers to be a true fast:

Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?

If you want to learn how to pray, read the prayers in the Bible. Herbert Lockyer has an excellent book called all the prayers of the Bible––it is incredible. As you learn to pray, ask the Lord to mold and shape your life. He has given you the power of the Holy Spirit, who will bring about a revival in your life––one that you have never seen before.

Revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God . . . a deep repentance, a breaking down of heart, a getting down into the dust before God with deep humility, and a forsaking of sin.
~Charles G. Finney~

WEDNESDAY June 28, 2017

New Beginnings

Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.

Nehemiah 8:18

Every day during the Feast of Tabernacles, Ezra read from the Book of the Law. On the eighth day they gathered for a sacred assembly. Interestingly, in numerology, the number eight is the day of new beginnings. God had begun to do a new work among His people.

Once we accepted the Lord and became Christians the Bible tells us we have become new creations in Christ: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). God has done a new work in our lives. In Christ, we have a brand new life ahead of us. Our old life and the sins we had committed are erased––fully and completely.

Now, day by day we must read God’s Word to grow in our Christian walk. Second Peter 3:18 tells us: …but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must become rooted and grounded in God’s Word but also in His love. As we do, we shall be filled with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:16-19). Then as trials come to test our faith we will be able to endure:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4).

If you are experiencing trials, always keep an eternal perspective.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
~2 Corinthians 4:16~

TUESDAY June 27, 2017

A Time of Celebration

So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness.

Nehemiah 8:17

The Feast of Tabernacles had not been celebrated since the time of Joshua, or throughout their time of captivity in Babylon. It was not until Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, and Ezra read the Word of God to the people, that this important feast was once again held. As the leaders reestablished the Feast of Tabernacles, it became a time of celebration, and it caused the people to become full of joy and gladness.

Understand obedience to God’s Word will bring joy and gladness into our lives. Instead of resisting God’s Word and suffering the consequences, learn to delight to do God’s will. David, during his trials, wrote: I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (Psalm 119:4). This prophetical Psalm spoke of Jesus Christ. He delighted to do God’s will by going to the cross for our salvation:

Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God’” (Hebrews 10:5-7).

Doing God’s will take great sacrifice. Mary submitted her will to become the mother of Jesus. She said to the angel: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” Despite the difficulties she would face, she also rejoiced in praise: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

Joy is the natural out-come of the Christian's obedience
to the revealed will of God.
~John Blanchard~

MONDAY June 26, 2017

Obedience

Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim

Nehemiah 8:16

In obedience, the people had gathered all kinds of tree branches to make for themselves booths––temporary homes. God’s people obediently followed what God had said in His Word. During the Feast of Tabernacles, they would live in these booths seven days. Understand that pretending to be in these outside booths, became a perfect opportunity for the parents to teach their children about the Lord.

God wanted the parents to pass on to their children the knowledge of the Lord, how He had led them out of Egypt. As they traveled through the wilderness, God had provided for them before they went into the Promised Land. The parents would have spoken to their children and said, “Let me tell you the story concerning Egypt, Moses and our journey through the wilderness.”

In any family, one of the most important things to do is to pass on the wonderful stories of the Bible to their children, and grandchildren. Psalm 78:4 is a reminder of how we should teach our children about the Lord:

We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.

Do you make it a daily practice to retell the stories of the Bible to your children? What about sharing with them the wonderful works God has done in your own families’ lives?

Tell your children about it, let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.
~Joel 1-3~

SUNDAY June 25, 2017

Remembrance

And they found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.”

Nehemiah 8:14-15

The leaders of Israel had made an important discovery in the Word of God. The Lord had commanded them, through His servant Moses, to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. They had read:

“ ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD... It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.’ ” (Leviticus 23: 34).

The leaders restored the feast and made sure the Word of God was obeyed. God’s people were to make booths––makeshift houses to live in for a week. They sent the people away to gather and bring back the needed materials to make the booths as written in Leviticus 23, 40-43.

And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days… All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.’”

Notice the main reason God established this feast. The Lord desired they would always remember how He took them out of Egypt, cared for them in the great wilderness until they entered the Promise Land. It was a feast of remembrance to be kept every year, from generation to generation.

The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness—Israel, when I went to give him rest.”
~Jeremiah 31:2~

SATURDAY June 24, 2017

Head of the Home

Now on the second day the heads of the fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the Law.

Nehemiah 8:13

The leaders of the Israel had gathered together with Ezra to understand the Word of God. They desired to be obedient to God and His commands. It was necessary to learn the Law, so they could lead God’s people.

It is very essential for a husband to be the spiritual leader of his home. As the head of his home he should take care of his wife (Ephesians 5:21-24). A husband should read and study God’s Word, to be equipped to lead his family. The Bible is also very clear about the role of a father. A father can find in the Word of God the instructions he needs to raise his children:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4 AMP).

Remember your children are a blessing from the Lord:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them… (Psalm 27:3-5).

A father must be a good role model for his children. By his godly example he will greatly influence the lives of his children. Is your character in the home, and at church, a good reflection of Christ to your children?

The righteous man walks in his integrity;
his children are blessed after him.
~Proverbs 20:7~

FRIDAY June 23, 2017

Understanding the Scriptures

And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

Nehemiah 8:12

Notice, once the people dispersed after hearing God’s Word, they went away greatly rejoicing. Why? Because they were helped by the priests to understand the Scriptures Ezra had read to them.

When people leave the church service after hearing God’s Word they should go out rejoicing––not sad. The pastor should expound the meaning of the Scriptures to the people. When they have gained a good understanding of God’s Word, they will leave rejoicing.

Jesus, in Galilee, had explained to His disciples about his death and crucifixion. He told them He would rise again on the third day (Matthew 16:21). But His disciples did not fully understand. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, in unbelief, two of Jesus’ disciples travelled on the road to Emmaus, discouraged (Luke 24:13-14).

Unrecognized, Christ joined the disciples on their journey. He asked them the reason for their sadness. Cleopas, surprised that the traveler had no clue to what had transpired over the past few days, explained about Jesus’ death. They thought Jesus would have redeemed Israel. Although told by the women of His resurrection, the Lord had not been seen by any of the other disciples (Luke 24:15-24). Then Jesus said to them:

“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:25-27).

If you are discouraged by a difficult circumstance, ask the Lord to open your understanding of the Scriptures and by His Spirit He will!

And He opened their understanding,
that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
~Luke 24:45~

THURSDAY June 22, 2017

Be Still My Soul

So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.”

Nehemiah 8:11

Interestingly, as the Levities quieted the people, we see there was complete order in the entire service. It remained in control because the Levites were leading. Their words caused the people to be still and there was a time of silence.

When God’s people are in distress, it benefits them to be still before God so He can speak to their hearts. When I want to be alone with God, I get on my Harley and go up to the mountains. I want to be away from people; otherwise I am always talking with them. I try to take every opportunity to be still before God. Then He can speak to me and quiet my soul.

David is a perfect example of how to be still before God. In times of distress He described how he quieted himself: Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me (Psalm 131:2). Then David wrote in Psalm 23:1-3:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul…

Knowing who God is makes a great difference in how we handle difficult situations. The widow of Nain wailed in grief. She was bereaved of her only son. The Lord saw her sorrow and had compassion on her. He told her: “Do not weep.” Those who carried the coffin “stood still.” Then Jesus brought her son back to life. God was glorified (Luke 7:11-16).

Remember everything happens for a purpose. Often our trials are allowed so that God’s glory can shine out in our darkest moments.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
~Psalm 46:10~

WEDNESDAY June 21, 2017

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10

Nehemiah and the leaders had encouraged the people to enjoy what God was doing among them. This day was holy, a time of celebration and rejoicing; not a time for the people to be sorrowful. They should rejoice and delight in their restored relationship with God.

When our church service is completed, I encouraged people to fellowship. Why? The people begin to open their hearts as they share with each other how God spoke to them through the message. In their time of fellowship, they begin to rejoice––I love that.

God does not want us to be sad when we face hard trials in life. Knowing that our God will help us to overcome our circumstances, we should rejoice! Jesus was to be crucified on the cross; but He still had joy. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to look to Him as our example:

…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus had the joy of knowing He would be reunited with the Father after His death on the cross (John 17: 5). Even though we must endure trials; remember God is still on the throne! James 1:2-3 encourages believers: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

Joy is delight at God's grace which enables us to endure our trials.
~George Seevers~

TUESDAY June 20, 2017

Mourning and Weeping

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.

Nehemiah 8:9

Notice how the people expressed tremendous amounts of emotion. God’s Spirit was working in their hearts. Among those who gathered in the open square, were the older Jews. These elders began to reflect on their past disobedience. For years, the Jews had suffered in captivity. What had happened to them was a direct result of disobeying what God had told them in Deuteronomy 28-30.

In Babylon the Jews could not worship the Lord. Now that, Nehemiah had secured the city by rebuilding the wall, they could safely worship the Lord together without concern of their enemies attacking. As they heard God’s Word and worshiped Him; they knew, in their hearts, God’s grace was extended to them. This older generation understood how they had failed. Then they were overcome with emotion, which caused them to break down, and they mourned and wept.

People will suffer the consequences of their sins. Many realize they have sinned against God, and in repentance they weep and mourn over their sinful mistakes. Understand that all those who are broken in heart over their sins, will be comforted by the Lord. The Bible tells us: The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit (Psalm 34:18). As a sinner comes back to God, He extends His mercy and grace to them (1 John 1:9). The Lord will restore their lives. Then they will not mourn anymore, but worship the Lord freely.

If find yourself far away from the Lord, and still captive by your sins. Then sincerely repent and come back to God (James 4:7-10). He loves you!

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
~Matthew 5:4~

MONDAY June 19, 2017

Making Sense of Scripture

Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

Nehemiah 8:7-8

The Levities interpreted the Word of God to the people. They were helped to fully understand what was being read––the Scriptures made sense. Notice, in these verses, the references to the word “understand.”

It was given twice for emphasis. It was not only necessary to have Ezra read from the Scriptures to God’s people, but it was just as important for the Levities to help the people understand what was being read to them.

It is the pastor’s responsibility to teach the Word of God, simply, to the people, so they can understand the Scriptures. Christians have been given the Spirit of God to help them understand God’s Word: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things… (John 14:6). The Holy Spirit helps us understand the things of God. First Corinthians 2:12 explains to us:

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

You must be born again to understand the Scriptures (John 3).

However a person, who does not have the Holy Spirit within them, cannot understand spiritual things:

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).

The Spirit of God knows the things of God because He is one with God.
~Matthew Henry~

SUNDAY June 18, 2017

Bow Down and Worship

…Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

Nehemiah 8:6

Notice how the people showed their devotion to God as they worshiped Him. They openly lifted up their hands in worship and waited upon the Lord to speak to them––incredible! Can you imagine all these people as they bowed their heads and worshiped with their faces to the ground? God was in their mist––this must have been such an awesome sight!

During the church service attention is given to worship. Why? Worship prepares the heart for the Word of God. We become in tune with how the Lord desires to speak to us. Interestingly, God has placed more emphasis on His Word than on worship. David, who worshiped the Lord from a youth reveals to us this truth in Psalm 138:2:

I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name.

As a teaching ministry we give great attention to the Word of God. However, once a month we have our night of prayer and worship. It is a time when we can openly lift our hands to the Lord in complete surrender, uninhibited, as we worship Him. We should never sit in a worship service with our arms folded and not sing. Understand that as we enter into a time of sincere worship; our hands are open to receive from God.

When was the last time you came to church and worshipped the Lord in complete abandon?

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand…
~Psalm 95:6-7~

SATURDAY June 17, 2017

Our Great God

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God.

Nehemiah 8:5

The people stood up in reverence to hear God’s Word. Can you imagine standing for six hours to hear the Word of God? Interestingly, by the time of Christ, the rabbi’s actually sat down while the people remained standing. In our churches today, we have the people sit, and the teacher is the one who usually stands to teach God’s Word.

Then, notice how Ezra blessed the Lord––the great God. He magnified Him to the people as a great God. The Bible declares: For the LORD is the great God, and the great King above all gods (Psalm 95:3). In many countries over the entire world, there are still many earthly deities that are worshiped. But, our God is above them all. He is the only true God: “I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me…” (Isaiah 45:5). His incredible character is described in Psalm 147:5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.

Christians serve a great God! What great things has He done for each one of us? By God’s mercy and grace; He has saved us. We were once dead in our trespasses and sins but God has made us spiritually alive with Christ. Heaven is our eternal destination. It is an inheritance that cannot fade away. Our salvation is a gift of God. We only need to exercise faith to believe in Christ’s finished work on the cross (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:1-10).

If you do not know our great God, prayerfully and reverently read the Scriptures. The Lord wants you to know Him (John 17:3). Then you too can serve the King of gods and worship Him for His greatness.

Inasmuch as there is none like You, O LORD
You are great, and Your name is great in might.
~Jeremiah 10:6~

FRIDAY June 16, 2017

A Word to the Privileged

So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose; and beside him, at his right hand, stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and at his left hand Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.

Nehemiah 8:4

Ezra, on a platform of wood, stood and shared the Scriptures. (This is the first time in the Bible that a platform was mentioned). On his right hand were six priests and on his left hand were another seven priests, thirteen men in total. The men and women were so blessed to be taught the Scriptures.

Imagine those who are privileged to work in a church or other Christian establishments all day long. How God has blessed them! They are can freely talk about the Lord with their co-workers. There may be pictures with Scriptures placed on the walls and worship music playing in the background. Those who work in a Christian environment, even though they have their personal struggles, are protected from the evil things of this world.

Remember this is not something everyone gets to experience. There are many people in our congregation who have to work daily in a secular environment. They do not have the same privileges or blessings. Although God is with them, they cannot talk openly about the Lord. They may be subjected to listen to foul language, worldly music and maybe surrounded by uncaring people.

Often, these poor people come into the church, weeping and crying, asking for counsel and prayer. The Word of God ministers and comforts people who are so broken. The Lord gives to them His precious promises found in His Word to give them hope.

Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life.
~Psalm 119:49-50~

WEDNESDAY June 14, 2017

Hearing with Understanding

So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month.

Nehemiah 8:2

The Children of Israel had assembled. Ezra began to read and teach all those who were able to understand. This Scripture is used to teach parents why we do not have babies or young children among those sitting in the sanctuary. Only adults who understand the teaching of the Word of God should be in the sanctuary. Why? First, this is the only time when the parents can be fed the Word of God without distraction. As they come to listen, God will speak to them individually. Second, parents will not be concerned about the needs of their children while in service. Third, children can be disruptive to other people who have come to listen to God’s Word.

Our Sunday school teachers diligently study to teach Bible lessons to the children at their level of understanding. However, it is important for the parents to take the responsibility to read God’s Word to their children at home every day. Parents should teach their children to memorize the Scriptures. Children are greatly influenced in the home, as they may only spend about six hours a week in church. Biblically, it is not a church’s responsibility to train up children in the ways of the Lord––it is the parent’s duty (Proverbs 22:6).

Among the orthodox Jews, believe it or not, they teach their children to memorize the Law of God––Genesis through Deuteronomy. When we see them doing their prayers by the wall in Jerusalem, they are often repeating the words from the Torah.

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way,
when you lie down, and when you rise up.
~Deuteronomy 6:6-7~

TUESDAY June 13, 2017

The Value of God’s Word

…When the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities. Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel.

Nehemiah 7:73; 8:1

In Nehemiah 7, you will find a list of names. These were the Jewish captives who returned to their cities in Jerusalem and Judah (Nehemiah 7:6). The last sentence of Nehemiah 7:73, goes with Nehemiah 8:1. The children of Israel came into the cities around the period of 444 B.C., at the time when they celebrated the Feast of Trumpets––Rosh Hashanah––the Jewish New Year. It began a ten day period of consecration and repentance before the Lord.

Nehemiah began to gather all the people together, in the open square, by the Water Gate. In this place Ezra was called upon to read the Book of the Law of Moses––Genesis though Deuteronomy. The people came in unity to be taught the Word of God.

There are some important principles that we need to understand from what was about to happen. When Ezra stood up to teach the Word of God, everyone stood and listened to the Word of God. Ezra read for six long hours––that amazes me! Why? It shows to us their dedication and reverence for God’s Word.

In comparison, most people only spend about six hours a week to study God’s Word in church. They usually attend Sunday morning and evening services, and then, Wednesday evening. As we come and sit down in the sanctuary, to hear God’s Word, do we listen reverently? God desires to speak to us so we can apply His Word to our own personal lives. Ask yourself these questions, “How important is God’s Word to me? Do I really value the Bible?”

It is a miracle how God has so long preserved His book! How great and glorious it is to have the Word of God!
~Martin Luther~

MONDAY June 12, 2017

Disloyalty and Division

Also they reported his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.

Nehemiah 6:19

The enemies’ next attack was to bring about disloyalty and division. There were people from the inside of the city who had compromised. They wanted to remain friends with Tobiah and keep in communication with him. He even received an invitation to the dedication of the walls! Eliashib the priest also collaborated with Tobiah; to the point of giving him a room in the house of God––the holy temple (Nehemiah 13:4-8). Nehemiah knew his enemy was poisoning these people from within the city.

Did they not understand that he had tried to kill the Nehemiah––the man chosen to do the work of God? He was an enemy who came against them. These Jewish leaders had absolutely no discernment to what was really going on. They even tried to persuade Nehemiah that Tobiah was doing good. Tragically, as they embraced Tobiah as their friend, he was still writing intimidating letters to Nehemiah that contained false accusations against him.

Yet, Tobiah could not put any fear in Nehemiah’s heart. In the end, Nehemiah was shown to be a man of vison and integrity. The wall was built. Nehemiah’s prayer worked! God received all the glory and honor.

In the body of Christ there exist such people as Tobiah, who purposely bring about disunity and division. Yet, there are those people in the body who will still fellowship with such a person. They know they have caused problems in the congregation, but they do not realize that as they keep these relationships, they are being poisoned against the ministry. As they listen to slander and false reports they will begin to mistrust the leadership of the church. It is the same with people who listen to those who teach doctrine contrary to what is being taught from the pulpit.

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
~Romans 16:17~

SUNDAY June 11, 2017

Family Connections

Also in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them. For many in Judah were pledged to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.

Nehemiah 6:17-18

Nehemiah’s enemies had failed to manipulate him to come outside the city. However, Tobiah continued to form friendships from within the city. He was determined not lose touch with the people. He also married the daughter of Shechaniah, which gave him political ties with this Jewish leader. Through these compromising family connections, and other friendships, Tobiah persisted in bringing disorder within Jerusalem.

Parents in the church often compromise their position with their children. When their children become teenagers, they enter into a period of rebellion. Why? Our children have a little evil heart––like everybody else. Some may get into drinking, drugs, or fornication. At that time you will need to make a persistent stand for godliness and holiness––if not, they will run your home and bring disorder into your families lives!

In our home, we taught our kids that if they lived at home they were expected to attend church twice a week. If they refused they had to leave and get their own job. Why? Then they could find out what real life is about. Even though they may think we are square and old fashioned, that is alright, because I would rather see them in heaven.

Seriously, teenagers are so naïve and gullible. They may choose to look at worldly magazines, enjoy the Hollywood scene, and watch adult shows on MTV, which can totally destroy their minds. As parents and grandparents we have to fight against worldliness in the home. If we do not want to see them perish; we had better draw the lines––no compromise. I am not talking about legalism, or being harsh, because we need to love them. Use godly authority as you teach them God’s Word.

Children need to he trained, not just in the facts of life,
but in the ways of life.
~Anonymous~

SATURDAY June 10, 2017

A Finished Work

So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.

Nehemiah 6:15-16

When the other nations saw the rebuilding of the wall was accomplished, they had to come to one obvious conclusion. The God of Israel had accomplished the work––I love that. God was with Nehemiah and His people as they worked together––it was undeniable. The nations watched Nehemiah’s life as he relied on God. He never moved to the right or the left, he just stayed steady on course. There was no compromise in his life.

I have known a barber that has a shop in old town San Dimas since 1965. Over time, he has built up customers, and through his integrity they have come to trust him. He does not even have to advertise for new clients. People keep coming back to him because they know they will get their money’s worth––he does a great job. A ministry must build integrity and gain the people’s trust, and that takes time. As a church remains in one city, over the years, people will see its steadfastness and consistency in ministry. They will observe a church’s integrity and be influenced to stay.

Like Nehemiah, determine in your heart that you will not compromise. Do not do something that will cause you to sin against God. If you compromise in the beginning of your walk with God, then you will compromise the rest of your life. Seriously, you will build a bad pattern of yielding to sin. Instead, obediently submit to God: Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

As you make a stand against sin, it may seem that you are like the Lone Ranger. But when you stand for holiness and righteousness, the heavens will open up and God will bless you, I guarantee it.

A holy God calls his people to holy living. It is inconceivable that it
should be otherwise.
~John Blanchard~

FRIDAY June 9, 2017

Divine Retribution

My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.

Nehemiah 6:14

Nehemiah is a prime example of allowing God to hand out His divine retribution, on all those who came against him. He lifted up the situation in prayer. The Lord would exercise His justice and repay Tobiah and Sanballat, for their evil works. He would also repay the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who gave false prophecies in an attempt to make Nehemiah afraid.

When God dealt with His people’s enemies, He often allowed their plans to simply fall back on themselves. Remember Haman? He wanted to annihilate the Jews; especially Mordecai, the older cousin of Queen Esther (Esther 2:7). Haman made a gallows to hang Mordecai because he was unafraid of him (Esther 5:14). God used Esther to deliver her people. In God’s divine retribution, Haman was hung on the very gallows he had made of Mordecai (Esther 7:9-10).

Chuck Smith was a good example of leaving situations in God’s hands. Even though he had been stabbed in the back so many times, he would turn around and say––I love you. Even if they had slandered him and said they were sorry, he would take them back and hire them. That was just the way Chuck was––he had peace.

However Chuck Smith was a man of wisdom. When someone was not right with the Lord, figuratively he would hand them a rope. Then he would let the rope go as long as it could. You know what Chuck taught us? What usually happens is that person will end up hanging themselves. In other words, as Chuck watched them, their motives would become obvious. He was smart. Chuck did not have to do anything because these people would entrap themselves.

He will repay my enemies for their evil. Cut them off in Your truth.
~Psalm 54:5~

THURSDAY June 8, 2017

Character Assassination

For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me.

Nehemiah 6:13

Sanballat, and Tobiah had instigated a smear campaign to damage and destroy the character of Nehemiah. He was the leader among the Jewish people he had come to help. For him, to run into the temple for safety would show he was a coward. He would be guilty of unbelief. His lack of trust in the Lord would affect all those people under him.

Jealousy was the major sin behind these enemies trying to assassinate Nehemiah’s character. They hated the fact that he had come into the city to make it safe. Nehemiah was making sure there was a strong defense by rebuilding the walls and gates. Sanballat and Tobiah were unable to come into the city whenever they pleased. That meant they could not harass, threaten, or wipe out the people anymore.

Who is our greatest slanderer? Satan. He is the one who loves to defame and damage your character. He attacks your integrity as a believer. Have you ever gone to the store and the person checking out your items at the register says “Excuse me, there is not enough funds”? It is so embarrassing. Those standing in line behind you might say, “Another person who does not pay their bills.” They immediately start thinking evil about your character. Seriously, you know that you always pay your bills, there is money in the bank, but you cannot prove it––it happens all the time.

Yet, Satan would love to bring these kinds of false accusation against you. Why? He would use anything that he can to slander your character, and destroy your ministry. The best way to protect your character is to have no appearance of evil. Keep up your guard!

Abstain from all appearance of evil.
~1 Thessalonians 5:22~

WEDNESDAY June 7, 2017

Showing No Cowardice

And I said, “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.

Nehemiah 6:11-12

Nehemiah was not bothered by what Shemaiah had told him. Notice, how he responded, as if to say, “You think I am going to run?” Nehemiah counted his life as nothing; besides he was not doing this work for himself––it was for the Lord and His people. Nehemiah answered the false prophet with righteousness––I love that. In other words Nehemiah told him, “I do not have time for you!” Why should he flee and stop doing the work of God for pettiness? Nehemiah had a great attitude. He was not even upset, and he just kept focused.

Notice once more, Nehemiah’s discernment. He saw straight through Shemaiah’s false prophecy. As Nehemiah spent time in prayer, most likely the Lord gave him a word of knowledge. God gave him discernment and he recognized that Shemaiah was a hireling. Nehemiah’s enemies had hired him. This prophet was not sent by God––he had been paid off. Nehemiah was in tune with the Lord; he heard God’s voice and peacefully left the situation in the Lord’s hands.

Think about people who have lost sleep for days, months, and even years, over someone telling them something that was not true. They become so worried and waste valuable time over nothing. That kind of stress will kill you! It is better to leave them and what was said alone; in the hands of God. Then you can get yourself focused on what God wants to do.

Seriously, remain focused––let God do the work He has called you to do in your life.

Cowards run the greatest danger of any men in a battle.
~Anonymous~

TUESDAY June 6, 2017

Espionage

Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed,at night they will come to kill you.”

Nehemiah 6:10

Shemaiah, was a false prophet, and he became yet another tool used by the enemy. Satan had set another trap for Nehemiah through Tobiah’s and Sanballat’s plan to hire Shemaiah. Nehemiah would disregard Shemaiah false words; he continued to have great discernment.

Remember not every person who comes to you is from the Lord. These days, there is a lot of deceit among people, even in the church. When someone comes to you with a message from the Lord, ask yourself, “Is this a plot to hurt me, or to destroy me spiritually?” Then write down what was told you and wait on the Lord. If what was said does not come to pass, it was a false message––it was not from God.

Every Christian needs to have godly discernment; which is a gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:10). We can know whether somebody is being truthful or not, as we come into God’s presence, in prayer. The Lord will give us discernment through His Word, or give you a word of knowledge and let the situation be known to you (1 Corinthians 12:8).

Remember, Satan turns himself into an angel of light. Paul warned the Corinthian church of this truth, because they were listening to false apostles who were causing them to stray from the simplicity of the Gospel message. Paul told them in 2 Corinthians 11:13-14:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

If Satan dared to use Scripture for the temptation of our Lord he will not scruple to use it for the delusion of men.
~Donald MacLeod~

MONDAY June 5, 2017

Strengthen Our Hands

Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.

Nehemiah 6:9

Whenever Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem insisted that Nehemiah meet with them, he refused. Nehemiah did not depend on his own strength to fight his enemies. He turned to the Lord in prayer and he was able to deal with their constant attacks through God’s strength. If Nehemiah would have left his position in Jerusalem, and compromised, he would have gone into eternity early. Nehemiah through the Lord’s strength and wisdom protected himself. He did not place himself in a vulnerable situation. Instead he was smart enough to send messengers with his reply.

Seriously, there are times to go into difficult situations boldly. When you know the Lord is with you and He has gone before you. Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, refused to bow down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. They were bold. As a result they were cast into the midst of a burning, fiery furnace (Daniel 3:5-6), but God was with them. The king was astonished. He saw four men, unharmed by the flames. One of them was described in appearance as the Son of God (Daniel 3:25).

Yet, there are other times when we cannot go into a bad situation. King Saul wanted to kill David. It would have been unwise for David to stand before the king and try to reason with him. Saul, in rage, even cast a spear at his own son, Jonathan. (1 Samuel 20:33). After that happened Jonathan knew that his father was determined to kill David. As friends, Jonathan and David had devised a plan. David would escape Saul (1 Samuel 20).

Over the last forty five years of ministry, there have been difficult situations in my life. Unless the Lord had strengthened me, I could not have dealt with them. Spiritual attacks from Satan cannot be endured without the Lord.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
~Psalm 27:1~

SUNDAY June 4, 2017

Engaged in a Deadly Battle

But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner. Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says, that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king.

Nehemiah 6:4-6

Nehemiah’s enemies were very persistent in their attempts to force him to meet with them. Four times they persisted to see if he would give in and compromise. However, Nehemiah regularly checked in with the Lord and waited on Him for discernment. God revealed to him that behind their scheme and their plots, they wanted to kill him.

Nehemiah was in a deadly battle but he never compromised. So, the fifth time his enemies tried a different tactic. They published a false letter that spread slander about the Jewish people, saying they planned to rebel. Then, they slandered Nehemiah’s character. They said the only reason Nehemiah wanted to rebuild the wall was to set himself up as king! Yet, Nehemiah never stopped God’s work because of their petty lies and threats.

Think of how many churches are destroyed by slander. Maybe a person does not like the pastor, or the tremendous work God is doing through him? They then become filled with jealousy and begin to spread a bunch of lies about him and the ministry. How can they think of such things? Understand the human heart is very deceitful.

Think about the different areas of your life where the enemy tries to get you to compromise. The enemy is so persistent my friends. Then, you must strengthen that area of your life. But any time you raise a defense against the enemy, believe me, you are going to have a fight on your hands. Compromise is a deadly force. You must fight the enemy or slowly you will be defeated, and he will wound your life.

We can tell when we have been influenced by the world. It is when we find ourselves neither hot nor cold, just compromised.
~Malcolm Watts~

SATURDAY June 3, 2017

Fully Committed

…Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm. So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?”

Nehemiah 6:2-3

Up to now in Nehemiah 6, we have studied about compromise, slander, threats and intrigue. Satan had used these three men, Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem the Arab to target Nehemiah, and to stop God’s work. But Nehemiah was fully committed to the Lord, and from that point, he had entered into a greater spiritual warfare.

Nehemiah was a thinker. He not only had the knowledge of God, but he also had godly discernment. When Nehemiah received the invitation from Sanballat and Geshem, he fought back with what God had called him to do. Nehemiah knew the only reason they wanted to meet with him was to kill him. He knew they were not telling the truth, and saw straight through their deception. Nehemiah was a prayer warrior, and kept in tune with God. Through his prayers the Lord would save him from his enemies’ constant plots to kill him.

It is important to understand that when we are fully committed to the Lord, and His work, this is when we enter into a greater spiritual battle. Often we are not aware of the spiritual warfare surrounding us, but it is a battle that we must face constantly in our lives. Satan has adversaries, people that he will use to try to destroy you. His wants to put an end to the work of God in your life.

Christians who desire to be used of God must be prepared to enter spiritual warfare. They should be knowledgeable of God’s Word, and be in constant prayer. Understand you will need to be in tune with God and use discernment. We often get ourselves into trouble when we have not stopped to hear God’s counsel and we end up getting hurt.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
~Ephesians 6:11~

FRIDAY June 2, 2017

The Snare of Fear

For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, “Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.”

Nehemiah 6:9

Notice the attacks of the enemy against Nehemiah had come when he had closed the gaps in the wall, and needed to hang the doors in the gates. He had almost fulfilled the work of God (Nehemiah 6:1). Nehemiah had remained focused and undeterred by his enemies.

Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, threatened to tell the King of Persia that Nehemiah intended to make himself a king in Jerusalem, thinking they would make Nehemiah and the people afraid. But Nehemiah rightly discerned that their threats were yet another attempt to weaken the work, so it could not be fully completed. However, Nehemiah did not fear man; he feared God, and placed his trust and confidence in the Lord.

King David was another man who placed his confidence and trust in God. He was hunted by King Saul––a jealous king who sought to kill him. David spent a great amount of time on the run, constantly being pursued by Saul. Yet, David had confidence in God’s deliverance, he wrote:

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies (Psalm 18:2-3).

When people come against us we have a tendency to become fearful. If we become terrified of our enemies, and the plans they have schemed against us, then we shall become weak and find ourselves in deep trouble. Proverbs 29:25 tells us: The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.

Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings, from the wicked who oppress me,
from my deadly enemies who surround me.
~Psalm 17:8-9~

THURSDAY June 1, 2017

Inventors of Evil

Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart.”

Nehemiah 6:8

Nehemiah stood on the truth. He simply refuted Sanballat’s, Tobiah’s and Geshem’s lies. He simply told them, their false accusations were not true. The Jews were not rebelling and Nehemiah was not setting himself up as their king. Nehemiah knew these things were a fabrication; his enemies, from within their own hearts, had invented evil lies.

Seriously, as Christians if we were not walking in the Spirit, or remaining in God’s Word, we can begin to invent evil things in our minds against another person. Perhaps a person did not smile at you in church on Sunday. It irritated you to the point of talking about that person. Before you know it, you have invented a whole story behind the reason of them not smiling. But maybe they did not feel like smiling because someone in their family had died. Imagine you just slandered them! At times we can act so ungodly.

The Apostle Paul told of God’s anger against ungodly men who suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). Paul, in Romans 1:28-32 gave a detailed description of the ungodly:

… being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Notice within this long list, Paul mentioned, inventors of evil things. We can be guilty of fabricating untrue scenarios in our hearts and minds. Ask the Lord to help you to be a man or a woman of truth.

Truth exists; only falsehood has to be invented.
~George Braque~

WEDNESDAY May 31, 2017

Combating Intimidating Threats

And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim concerning you at Jerusalem, saying, “There is a king in Judah!” Now these matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together.

Nehemiah 6:7

Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem could not get their own way. They wanted to meet with Nehemiah but he had always refused them. So in an attempt to corner Nehemiah into submitting to their request, they now used intimidating threats. Using their plan of intrigue, they tried to force him into a meeting. Nehemiah’s enemies would not let up on their pressure. They even hired a false prophet so the people would believe the lies he spoke.

It is so sad when people stoop so low as to start threatening others because they cannot get their way. If a person, who has been threatened, still refuses to yield to them, then it could be that they may face an even worse type of hostility and pressure from them. Many try to intimidate people by using brute force, having a determination to cause them harm.

But who fights our battles? The Lord will fight the battle. We do not have to worry about it––our enemies can say whatever they want. God can turn the tables on our adversaries’ tactics, and they will be the ones who end up getting hurt. As Christians, we are taught in the Scriptures how to deal with our enemies. The Apostle Paul in Romans 12:18-21, taught:

… If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

God is not always a God of immediate justice,
but He is a God of ultimate justice.
~John Blanchard~

TUESDAY May 30, 2017

False Rumors

Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. In it was written: It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says, that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king.

Nehemiah 6:5-6

So far, Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, had failed in their attempts to destroy Nehemiah. As enemies of the Lord, they continued their relentless attack. Geshem had spread damaging reports and circulated false rumors. He had said the Jews were going to rebel, and Nehemiah’s only intent of rebuilding the wall, was to set himself up as their king. A servant presented a letter to Nehemiah, which stated these lies.

People, who are enemies of the Lord, can circulate false rumors about you. They misjudge and criticize everything you are trying to accomplish for the Lord. These people are often bitter and jealous of what God is doing in your life. Given the opportunity, they will tear you down and seek to destroy your character.

Then there are other people, even in the church, who feel they are always right in their perception of individuals. They come across as if they never sin, and tend to think they are better than anyone else. These types of people are like the Pharisees––the Jewish religious leaders who were self-important and hypocritical (Matthew 23:1-35). These types of people have a critical spirit.

Be careful when you are invited to someone’s house to fellowship with a group of people. Out of the blue a person with a critical spirit may begin to judge others, or spread rumors about someone in the church. They speak evil about a person when they usually do not even know the full facts. We should not listen or be influence by such people. Otherwise we can become the ones to spread slander and false rumors.

An evildoer gives heed to false lips;
A liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue.
~Proverbs 17:4~

MONDAY May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,

Philippians 1:3

Today we commemorate Memorial Day. In 1868, Memorial Day was first called Decoration Day. It was a day to honor the fallen soldiers of the Civil War. In the Arlington National Cemetery, at least 5,000 people gathered at the grave site of over 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers. They respectfully decorated each grave. Later the day was changed and called Memorial Day. It became a day to honor all of our men and women who died in any war.

Memorial Day became an official holiday in 1971. It was traditionally observed on May 30, but now it is on the last Monday in May, making the observance a three day weekend. Most people enjoy an extra day off work and cherish the quality time with family. Many families gather together to barbeque, picnic and watch the parades or sports.

However, it is our duty on this Memorial Day to keep these fallen heroes in our minds and hearts. We need to pray for their families who still miss them each and every day.

We live in unstable times, as there are many nations of the world still at war. Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to kill. They try to cause fear and chaos in whatever country they strike. ISIS recently targeted and killed, twenty two innocent people, many of them children, attending a concert in Manchester, England.

In these difficult days we need to continue to pray for all our armed forces. We should be thankful for our brave men and women who are ready and willing, if necessary, to lay down their lives to keep America free.

We must thank our God for the graces and comforts, gifts and usefulness of others, as we receive the benefit and God receives the glory.
~Matthew Henry~

SUNDAY May 28, 2017

The Enemies’ Persistence

So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner.

Nehemiah 6:3-4

Notice how Sanballat and his company persisted in their attempts to coax Nehemiah away from Jerusalem. It was a constant attempt to get Nehemiah to leave his duties––overseeing the finishing touches of rebuilding the wall of the city. They wanted him to compromise his leadership position while he took time off to meet with them. It was a hidden ploy. One Nehemiah easily recognized and continually refused.

There are so many people who fall prey to Satan’s persistent and divisive tactics. In a time of temptation they compromise their position in Jesus Christ. If we are to win the battle, we must be alert to even our thoughts of compromise. We need to be mindful of the very moment, when we begin to contemplate evil. Then we can guard our personal lives from compromise at home, in church or in our place of business. In every area of our lives we must not consciously cross those fine lines of compromise.

When Christians are tempted to compromise, the Holy Spirit will convict them. As the Holy Spirit warns us, it is as if an alarm immediately goes off. The Holy Spirit is a person. When we give into temptation and sin, the Holy Spirit is grieved (Ephesians 4:30). If we do not repent God cannot use us as an effective instrument of His righteousness.

On one occasion I went to the store to purchase an item and the person who took my money gave me back too much change. I could have taken advantage of the situation and kept the extra money. But the Holy Spirit placed a conviction in my heart. I had to return the money and not compromise. You see, we have to always be honest and speak truth.

Keep the truth and the truth will keep you.
~William Bridge~

SATURDAY May 27, 2017

Snares and Slander

Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm.

Nehemiah 6:1-2

Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem the Arab, were Satan’s instruments of unrighteousness. They hated the work that God was doing through Nehemiah’s life. At first they had slandered Nehemiah. He turned to God in prayer and never bothered to listen to their insulting words. Now they wanted to draw Nehemiah away from the city to one of the surrounding villages. But Nehemiah was wise and discerned their intent. He knew it was a snare so they could kill him. The only reason Nehemiah did not become discouraged was because he always kept his eyes on the Lord.

Satan uses ungodly people as his instruments to slander godly people. The ungodly speak against people of integrity, without any truth, to stain their character. They will try to defame them by using lies. Slander can cause so much damage to a person’s life. Then Satan tries to entrap the godly with snares, to draw them away from Gods work. Using these methods he tries to discourage and destroy them.

It is important to understand and take notice of Satan’s tactics. We often experience the same attacks that Nehemiah endured. It seems whenever we are doing a great work for the Lord, and He is using our lives tremendously, Satan attacks. He comes against us because we are a tool that God is using. Satan would love to damage that tool. How? He tries to slander us or bring a snare into our personal lives.

Lies and false reports are among Satan's choicest weapons.
~J. C. Ryle~

FRIDAY May 26, 2017

Target the Leader

Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm.

Nehemiah 6:1-2

Sanballet, Tobiah and Gesham wanted to destroy Nehemiah––the leader. They knew that if they could get to the leader they could destroy the whole work of God. Nehemiah became their ultimate target. They wanted to kill him. But Nehemiah, as a leader, was a visionary and discerned their intent. It was very hard for these enemies to try and defeat him.

When a leader begins to build a church in their communities, the devil is not pleased. So what does Satan do? He attacks the leadership. If he can create disunity between them, the church cannot continue, and Satan has achieved his task. People cannot follow a divided leadership. Satan tries to discourage the leaders. If he can discourage them and get them not to trust in God, he has once again accomplished his work.

This is exactly what happened to Elijah. Discouragement and fear caused him to flee two hundred miles to the south. In 1 Kings 19:4, despair had caused him to lie down and pray to the Lord: …that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” The Lord basically asks him, “What are you doing here? I have a task for you; quit feeling sorry for yourself, get up! (1 Kings 19:9-18).

As a pastor, I face the enemy––Satan every day of my life. He works within different situations in my life, to try and destroy the work of God. But how can we do anything else but serve God? Peter was a fisherman, he had a regular ordinary job but when Jesus called him to be a disciple he was to become a fisher of men. Jesus had many of His disciples leave Him as He taught them. But Peter knew he could not go anywhere else.

But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
~John 6:68~

THURSDAY May 25, 2017

Remember the Good

Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.

Nehemiah 5:19

Nehemiah asked the Lord to remember him, like a reminder, of all he had done for God’s people. He wanted the Lord God not forget but to keep a record.

Remember we all have a work to do for the Lord and we must see it through to completion. It is important to understand that God keeps a record of all the labor we do for His kingdom. We are to work for eternity and not for the temporal. Our purpose for serving God is His glory alone. God will weigh our actions and motives and one day we shall stand at the Bema Seat of Christ ––a place of judgment and rewards:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

We are co-labors with Christ. Jesus has built a solid foundation for the Church and we continue to build His kingdom. Our work for the Lord is as gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw. All our works shall go into the fire to see if they are worthy of a reward:

Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

If we keep all these things in perspective, we shall do fine.

A concern for the glory of God is the ultimate motive for Christian living.
~Anonymous~

WEDNESDAY May 24, 2017

Heavy Burdens

And at my table were one hundred and fifty Jews and rulers, besides those who came to us from the nations around us. Now that which was prepared daily was one ox and six choice sheep. Also fowl were prepared for me, and once every ten days an abundance of all kinds of wine. Yet in spite of this I did not demand the governor’s provisions, because the bondage was heavy on this people.

Nehemiah 5:17-18

Notice how Nehemiah constantly gave of himself to the people from his own wealth. The people and even their leaders were his whole focus. He was especially sensitive to the people because he knew of their heavy burdens. He was selfless. He cared about the people and not himself––he was a true leader.

Jesus invited burdened people to come to Him. He wanted to give rest to those who were heavy laden. Those without Christ are found in bondage to the heavy burden of sin. Jesus invited them to come to Him:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Often we have made a mess of our lives but we can rest in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. He has secured our salvation and our sins have been erased (Isaiah 43:25). As we get to know Christ and understand His will and plan for our lives we shall become less burdened. We can rest in Him and find peace with God––fully and completely.

What are you weighted down with? Do you feel you have the weight of sin and the pressures of the world on your shoulders? Perhaps you have the burden of a guilty conscience? Whatever your burdens may be come to Jesus and He will take care of the problem.

“I have come that they may have life,
and that they may have it more abundantly.”
~John 10:10~

TUESDAY May 23, 2017

Continue God’s Work

Indeed, I also continued the work on this wall, and we did not buy any land. All my servants were gathered there for the work.

Nehemiah 5:16

Nehemiah feared the Lord and did not live off the people, he used his own resources. Instead of taking from the people he gave of himself to the people. His focus was on the needs of the people, on their welfare and not himself. As their leader, he set a good example and continued to work alongside them.

Jesus is always interested in the people needs. When Jesus came to Capernaum, He looked out among the multitudes and was moved with compassion. He saw people who were, weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd (Matthew 9:36). When Jesus came from heaven to earth; He came to serve mankind. He came to give and not take. The Lord was among the people, teaching, preaching and healing the sick.

Later, James and John asked the Lord if they could to sit next to Him in His glory––in heaven, Mark 10:37, which displeased the other disciples. Jesus called the disciples to Himself and explained about servanthood:

“You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:420-45).

Jesus taught his disciples contrary to their thinking and showed them through His example how they were to continue the work of the ministry. They needed to place the people’s needs above their own. They were not to become great for their own benefit, but to serve the people in humility.

I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
~Acts 20:35~

MONDAY May 22, 2017

Having the Fear of God

Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the governor’s provisions. But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God.

Nehemiah 5:14-15

Notice the key to Nehemiah’s successful leadership; he feared the Lord. Under the service of the King Artaxerxes, he was an appointed governor over the people in Judah. During his twelve years of being in power, he never took advantage of the people. Nehemiah trusted the Lord for his provision. He never looked to the people to meet his needs.

Yet, the previous governors had selfishly taken provisions away from the people and used their money to make their lives more comfortable. They had even given their servants authority over the people. The governors were corrupt. Nehemiah, as a leader, did not do what everyone else was doing. He did not act corruptly or compromise his integrity. Why? Nehemiah knew that eventually he would have to stand before God. Then he would have to give an account of his life for everything God had given to him. The fear of the Lord in his life made him a righteous leader.

The fear of the Lord is a key factor in our lives as Christians; we must not be like everyone else. Just because everyone else is acting corruptly does not mean that we should follow along. We must have the fear of the Lord in our lives and resist compromising our integrity. Understand that one day we must give an account for our actions and words. As a leader we should not make ourselves comfortable by living off God’s people. We are called to serve God’s people and minister to them.

Do not trust in oppression, Nor vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them.
~Psalm 62:10~

SUNDAY May 21, 2017

Shaken Out

Then I shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out each man from his house, and from his property, who does not perform this promise. Even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD. Then the people did according to this promise.

Nehemiah 5:13

Nehemiah was very expressive in the way he addressed the leaders and priests. Through his action of shaking out his garment, he basically told them, “If you do not keep your word, may God judge you, and shake you out like this garment!” He wanted them to understand that God would empty them––they would lose everything. The Lord touched the leaders hearts and they agreed with Nehemiah. They saw Nehemiah was for real––he meant what he said.

When Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to the spiritually lost people of Israel, He told them to tell the people, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. In Jesus’ name they would heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons and even raise the dead (Matthew 10:5-7). Jesus Christ was the people’s Messiah. He could either be accepted or rejected. The disciples were instructed to act in accordance to the people’s response:

If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet (Matthew 10:13-14).

Those who foolishly reject the Gospel message will remain empty and lost, without God’s salvation. If they stay unrepentant they will face eternal judgment, even worse than Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 10:15).

When offered God’s free gifts of salvation do you reject it or accept it?

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~Romans 6:23~

SATURDAY May 20, 2017

Keeping Your Promises

So they said, “We will restore it, and will require nothing from them; we will do as you say.” Then I called the priests, and required an oath from them that they would do according to this promise.

Nehemiah 5:12

Notice how the leaders came under full submission to Nehemiah. They did not resist him, but promised to restore to the people what was taken. These men respected Nehemiah’s word because he gave them godly counsel. The leaders saw the undeniable anointing of God in his life––I like that. Nehemiah also addressed the priests for their injustices. They were also at fault because they had ripped off God’s people.

Nehemiah had called the priests and required an oath from them. In the Old Testament, if a person gave a promise––a vow it was taken very seriously, especially a vow given to God. He would hold them accountable and expected the vow to be kept. In Deuteronomy 23:21, Moses instructed God’s people concerning vows to God:

When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you.

However, in the New Testament, Jesus did away with vows and simplified how we should agree with each other:

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool… But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’

It is important to be a man or a woman of your word. Be true to what you say. Ask yourself, “Do I make good on the words I give to people?”

Men many times eat their words, but God will never eat His.
~Thomas Brooks~