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SATURDAY March 23, 2019

Trust God in the Day of Battle

So it came about, on the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan. But they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son. And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash.

1 Samuel 13:22-23

The Philistines had gone out to the pass of Michmash; the day of battle was on Israel’s doorstep. Israel would have to engage their enemies with 600 men and no weapons. They were defenseless. The only swords found among them were with Saul and Jonathan. What could be done?

Saul as King of Israel was not leading his men––he had no guidance from the Lord. Where was Saul’s faith in His God? What was going on in his heart? Saul had been disobedient and rebellious towards the Lord. God had taken His Spirit away from Saul––the situation was demoralizing.

How different the situation was when King Hezekiah received a threatening letter from the Assyrian King Sennacherib. He tried to intimidate Israel with the accounts of his victories over other kingdoms. Sennacherib warned Israel they would not be delivered from him.

Trusting God, King Hezekiah took the letter and spread it before the Lord. Earnestly he prayed: …O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone” (2 Kings 19:19). Hezekiah caused the people of Israel to trust in God and not to fear. As he prayed in faith, look at God’s answer:

And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead (2 Kings 19:35).

There were no manmade weapons used in this battle! Amazing! Now when a day of battle comes into your life, will you trust God and pray?

At the root of the Christian life lies belief in the invisible. The object of the Christian's faith is unseen reality.
~A. W. Tozer~

FRIDAY March 22, 2019

Are You Weaponless?

Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears.” But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man’s plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle; and the charge for a sharpening was a pim for the plowshares, the mattocks the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goads.

1 Samuel 13:19-21

The Philistines gathered a multitude of fully armed men against Israel. They were ready and equipped for war. The Philistines were the ones who had modern technology in war. They had many chariots and other weapons––swords and spears. Saul’s army trembled in fear; they were unequipped to fight against the Philistines. Israel, as a nation, had no real weapons among them to go out into the battlefield––they were extremely weak. Only the royal family, Saul and Jonathan, had swords.

In fact, the Israelites were controlled by their enemies. There were no blacksmiths found among the people of Israel, so they could not make swords or spears. The people of Israel had to go to the Philistines to get their equipment for work in the fields, sharpened.

How many Christian ministries or believers find themselves unequipped for spiritual warfare? They have absolutely no defense when the enemy gathers a great army against them. I pray that none of us would fit this category, but there are candidates in every church and generation.

The Apostle Paul explained to Christians how every piece of the weaponry is available to them to fight the enemy (Ephesians 6:10-18). Do not find yourself in a situation where you are weaponless; take Paul’s instructions seriously: Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11). Think on today’s message and allow God to speak to your heart.

We live in a perpetual battlefield ...The wars among the nations on earth are mere popgun affairs compared to the fierceness of battle in the spiritual unseen world.
~Billy Graham~

THURSDAY March 21, 2019

Hardly a Threat to the Enemy

Saul, Jonathan his son, and the people present with them remained in Gibeah of Benjamin. But the Philistines encamped in Michmash. Then raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies. One company turned onto the road to Ophrah, to the land of Shual, another company turned to the road to Beth Horon, and another company turned to the road of the border that overlooks the Valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

1 Samuel 13:16-18

Israel, for the first time in their history, had a king and their own army of men. Saul’s son Jonathan was a valiant man of war, and he was very loyal to his father. He remained in Gibeah with Saul and his 600 men who had not deserted the king. Previously, Jonathan, with 1,000 men at his disposal, attacked a Philistine garrison in Geba; he won a great victory, even though his father took the glory for the battle (1 Samuel 13:3-4).

After an embarrassing defeat at Geba, the Philistines gathered together a greater army at Michmash––a garrison that had a massive army–– a multitude of people as the sand on the seashore. The Israelites had become an abomination to the Philistines, and they fully intended to wipe out their forces. In comparison, Saul only had 600 men (1 Samuel 13:15), hardly a threat to such a massive Philistine camp.

Michmash was a small town in the territory of Benjamin, about 7 miles from Jerusalem. It was on high ground surrounded by dangerous precipices. Imagine, the army of the Philistines and the army of the Israelites faced each other across a great gorge. The Philistines, having such a large troop at Michmash, released raiders to wreak havoc in the area. They wanted Israel to remain weak and subservient to them.

As a Christian, are you hardly a threat to the enemy because you have grown weak in the faith by yielding to your carnal desires?

The idea that this world is a playground instead of a battleground, has now been accepted in practice by the vast majority of Christians.
~A.W. Tozer~

WEDNESDAY March 20, 2019

Stripped of Power

Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people present with him, about six hundred men.

1 Samuel 13:15

Saul suffered the consequences of his own foolishness and sin. Not only did he lose his kingship, his troops decreased dramatically. In the battle against the Ammonites, there were 330,000 fighting men of Israel (1 Samuel 11:8). Saul chose for himself 3,000 men; most deserted––fled. They scattered and hid in caves, rocks and holes––anywhere they could find. God stripped Saul of his men, and he only had 600 weak men left!

When his men saw the weakness of his leadership, how could they remain? Saul was no longer being led by God. Who was going to follow such a man? Both Saul and his army had deteriorated, all because of the king’s pride and stupidity––it happens all the time.

Samson was a judge in Israel, and he also became a foolish man. When God’s Spirit came upon Samson, he received strength. On one occasion, he killed 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey (Judges 15:14-17). It was God’s strength that helped Samson overcome the Philistines.

Samson often failed to obey God’s law. He visited Delilah––a prostitute. After he allowed lust to rule his life, the Lord departed from him. Delilah betrayed him into the hands of the Philistine lords. Samson’s strength was gone, and his enemies overcame him. They plucked out his eyes, and he became sport for his enemies. It was not until Samson cried out to the Lord that God, in his mercy and grace, gave him back his strength one more time before his death (Judges 16:20-35).

We need to pay close attention to the lessons learned in these storie, so we do not make the same mistakes.

Are you sure you want your personality taken over by One who will require obedience to the written Word? …Who will strip away from you many loved objects which secretly harm your soul? Unless you can answer … yes…You may want the thrill of the victory or the power, but you do not want to be filled with the Spirit.
~A.W. Tozer~

TUESDAY March 19, 2019

Foolish Actions

And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”

1 Samuel 13:13-14

It was Samuel’s duty to do the sacrifice; it was written in God’s law. Saul knew better than to take the opportunity and just to do it. Samuel made Saul understand, “Listen Saul, you are so foolish! You disobeyed God. You did not sin against man; you sinned against God!” Saul had done a great sin before the Lord. He was in total rebellion against God.

God could no longer use Saul’s life; he was no longer anointed. The Lord was harsh with Saul; He rebuked him for not keeping His commandments. He would be replaced by a better man––a man after God’s own heart. Saul was a man after his own heart. He could have reigned for a long time, but now it was over–– it was the end of his reign.

Circle the word foolishly in your Bible! Take warning and do not be like Saul. Do not fight and argue with people and demand your own way, thinking, I am the captain of my own ship! I am the boss! If you force labor on yourself and on other people, it will bring division, confusion, anger, and other difficulties within the body of Christ. When people have tried to force themselves into positions, some churches have even died––they no longer exist.

If you are not a man or woman after God’s own heart, then you are not the man of the hour. Unless you match the man or woman after God’s own heart, you will never remain in the perfect will of God. You have to be a man or woman after God’s own heart, which means you are understanding with others, caring, loving, and you obey what God says.

As the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, so denial of God is the height of foolishness.
~R.C. Sproul~

MONDAY March 18, 2019

Excuses, Excuses

Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the LORD.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.”

1 Samuel 13:11-12

When Saul was confronted by Samuel for doing the sacrifice, he was full of excuses. His excuse to Samuel was that he felt forced to do the sacrifices to the Lord because of the circumstances. Multitudes of Philistines had gathered for war, and his men were scattered. Saul was not called to be a priest; he was a king from the tribe of Benjamin. He knew only the Levites were called to be priests, but he justified himself anyway.

I believe with all my heart, Saul’s excuse to Samuel was not true; instead of feeling forced to do the sacrifice, he was motivated by the power to lead––to show off in front of the people. Saul’s actions made a clear statement––I am King––I can do what I want. Saul did not get his counsel from the Lord or wait on God’s perfect timing. Saul willfully disobeyed God and performed the sacrifice, regardless.

The same folly found in Saul’s life can be seen in Christians who get themselves into an area of ministry where they are not called to be. Be careful of that. If God has not called you into a specific ministry, and you place yourself there by force, any service performed for God will become forced labor. Any service given is not exercised from God’s call for ministry or His anointing over your life. You are in the wrong place. It would be best to back away.

In the ministry, you cannot do whatever you want. You have to wait on God’s perfect timing. Always make sure you are serving in the places where God has called and anointed you. This way, you can flow with the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, you will become like Saul––foolish.

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.
~Benjamin Franklin~

SUNDAY March 17, 2019

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, Roman family in Britain, but he had no interest in the church. As a youth, Patrick was captured by slave traders and taken to Ireland. It was a place filled with Celtic, pagan practices, where people lived in a deep spiritual darkness. At the time, Patrick believed God was chastening him because he never followed the Lord. He suffered six years of slavery, herding sheep and pigs. In Ireland, as Patrick prayed night and day to the Lord, he 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. His motivation for his mission is summed up in his confession:

According to the measure of one’s faith in the Trinity that one should spread God’s name everywhere and offer his gift of salvation to all people with confidence and without fear, even in the face of danger. If we really know the triune God we claim to worship, if we really believe that God is awesome, majestic, wonderful, and worthy of all praise, then we will be about the spread of God’s name, regardless of the consequences.

Patrick brought the light of Christ into a land of spiritual darkness.

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 of Christianity in Ireland. His ministry lasted 29 years, and as the “Apostle of Ireland,” he lit such a spiritual fire in the land.

It behooved us to spread our nets, that a vast multitude and throng might be caught for God.
~Saint Patrick~

SATURDAY March 16, 2019

Rightly Confronted

Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. And Samuel said, “What have you done?”

1 Samuel 13:10-11

As soon as Saul finished presenting the burnt offering to the Lord, Samuel came. The King of Israel went to greet the prophet Samuel; he was the one called to offer burnt offerings to the Lord. Samuel was a priest, a descendant of those belonging to the tribe of Levi (1 Chronicles 6:16-30). Only a Levite could offer sacrifices to the Lord.

On arrival, Samuel immediately confronted Saul with his sin: “What have you done?” Did Saul not realize the seriousness of his rebellious actions? In taking the position of a priest, Saul had placed himself in a position only reserved for those from the tribe of Levi. His disobedience disqualified him from serving the Lord as King of Israel.

In ministry, some people have the wrong idea that disqualification from service can happen only when a person falls into sexual sin––but no. There are other sins that can disqualify a person from serving the Lord. It could be flaws in their character: a bad temper, a grouchy attitude, a habit of lying, a tendency to disobey the Lord, or a life of utter rebellion. Seriously, there are so many reasons a person can be disqualified from service. In reality, these people have forgotten who God is, and they no longer have the fear of the Lord.

The Apostle Paul did not want his flesh––any carnal desires or his old nature’s tendency to sin––to disqualify himself from serving the Lord. He was self-disciplined. Paul kept his flesh in subjection: …I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. Do you keep your flesh under control?

We must have a spirit of power towards the enemy, a spirit of love towards men, and a spirit of self-control towards ourselves.
~Watchman Nee~

FRIDAY March 15, 2019

Overstepping Your Boundaries

Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering.

1 Samuel 13:8-9

King Saul waited for the prophet Samuel to come and offer a sacrifice to God at the set time arranged. Samuel seemed delayed, and under pressure and looking at the circumstances of war, Saul became impatient. Saul stepped into the office of the priest and went ahead and offered a sacrifice of consecration to the Lord. Saul was King of Israel, but he overstepped his boundaries in this one action. He intruded into an office God had not called him to. Saul’s disobedience would cost him his future; he would lose his kingship––his whole future was about to change.

A major problem within ministries in a church is when people overstep God’s set boundaries for their lives. When they think they can do a better job than somebody else, they cross over into a position they were not called to do. It may be because they became jealous. However, if they do not listen to the Lord, like Saul they will be completely disqualified.

Do not interfere with God’s work. Never get in the way of God. Let people alone. Stay out of it––keep your hands off other people’s positions and ministries. God will accomplish what He wants to do––do not fight against God––you will not win. Seriously, do not be stubborn and try to be the captain of your own ship, with no accountability or integrity. Stop thinking you are better than anyone else, or you will find yourself on the shelf. God will remove you.

Are you trying to step into a position God has not called you to? Instead, listen to the Lord and be content wherever he has placed you to serve Him.

As you commit your life to the Lord, He begins to plant His desires in your heart, then guides you according to His plan.
~Chuck Smith~

THURSDAY March 14, 2019

When Leaders Fear

When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits. And some of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

1 Samuel 13:6-7

Remember, Saul had blown the trumpet and had taken the glory from Jonathan––his son’s victory in battle. Even though King Saul was acting as a warrior a short while before, in the next moment, he was indecisive and weak––sad! As the Philistines gathered against Israel, notice the weakness of Saul’s army; they were so scared to fight them. The men were hiding in caves, thickets, in rocks, in holes and pits. What kind of army is that? They had no faith! Honestly, this was a reflection of Saul’s leadership; he had not rallied his troops to be men of action.

If you are a leader in the Church and you lose your strength, power, and vision, those who follow your leadership example will also become weak. They will not be men and women of faith. People look to the strength of a leader; they must go first into battle––before anyone else. If a leader is weak, they will discourage people engaging in spiritual warfare. Those who follow your example naturally look to your strength in the Lord for the battle ahead. When they see your trust and boldness in the Lord, then they will also become bold in the fight against the enemy––Satan.

As a godly leader, you set the temperature for those around you. If you have no joy, others will see it. If they notice that you are not excited, but are grouchy-looking, complaining or fearful, they will become just like you. Remember, they are your disciples. Examine your life. Do you hide in fear when you see the enemy launching an attack, or are you a fearless leader?

The fear of God is the death of every other fear; like a mighty lion, it chases all other fears before it.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

THURSDAY March 14, 2019

When Leaders Fear

When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits. And some of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

1 Samuel 13:6-7

Remember, Saul had blown the trumpet and had taken the glory from Jonathan––his son’s victory in battle. Even though King Saul was acting as a warrior a short while before, in the next moment, he was indecisive and weak––sad! As the Philistines gathered against Israel, notice the weakness of Saul’s army; they were so scared to fight them. The men were hiding in caves, thickets, in rocks, in holes and pits. What kind of army is that? They had no faith! Honestly, this was a reflection of Saul’s leadership; he had not rallied his troops to be men of action.

If you are a leader in the Church and you lose your strength, power, and vision, those who follow your leadership example will also become weak. They will not be men and women of faith. People look to the strength of a leader; they must go first into battle––before anyone else. If a leader is weak, they will discourage people engaging in spiritual warfare. Those who follow your example naturally look to your strength in the Lord for the battle ahead. When they see your trust and boldness in the Lord, then they will also become bold in the fight against the enemy––Satan.

As a godly leader, you set the temperature for those around you. If you have no joy, others will see it. If they notice that you are not excited, but are grouchy-looking, complaining or fearful, they will become just like you. Remember, they are your disciples. Examine your life. Do you hide in fear when you see the enemy launching an attack, or are you a fearless leader?

The fear of God is the death of every other fear; like a mighty lion, it chases all other fears before it.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

THURSDAY March 14, 2019

When Leaders Fear

When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits. And some of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

1 Samuel 13:6-7

Remember, Saul had blown the trumpet and had taken the glory from Jonathan––his son’s victory in battle. Even though King Saul was acting as a warrior a short while before, in the next moment, he was indecisive and weak––sad! As the Philistines gathered against Israel, notice the weakness of Saul’s army; they were so scared to fight them. The men were hiding in caves, thickets, in rocks, in holes and pits. What kind of army is that? They had no faith! Honestly, this was a reflection of Saul’s leadership; he had not rallied his troops to be men of action.

If you are a leader in the Church and you lose your strength, power, and vision, those who follow your leadership example will also become weak. They will not be men and women of faith. People look to the strength of a leader; they must go first into battle––before anyone else. If a leader is weak, they will discourage people engaging in spiritual warfare. Those who follow your example naturally look to your strength in the Lord for the battle ahead. When they see your trust and boldness in the Lord, then they will also become bold in the fight against the enemy––Satan.

As a godly leader, you set the temperature for those around you. If you have no joy, others will see it. If they notice that you are not excited, but are grouchy-looking, complaining or fearful, they will become just like you. Remember, they are your disciples. Examine your life. Do you hide in fear when you see the enemy launching an attack, or are you a fearless leader?

The fear of God is the death of every other fear; like a mighty lion, it chases all other fears before it.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

WEDNESDAY March 13, 2019

Facing the Multitude

Then the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude. And they came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth Aven.

1 Samuel 13:5

Israel had now gathered at Gilgal to join Saul; the Jewish nation was preparing for war once again. A multitude of Philistines had gathered with iron chariots and every kind of weapons available. Imagine, it would be like Russia coming against a weaker nation.

Through Jonathan, Saul’s son, Israel had just won a victory against the Philistines, Saul had stayed back from battle, yet he took all the glory for the victory. Jonathan and the Lord should have received the praise and glory, but the people had been deceived into thinking Saul had won the battle. He had blown a trumpet––a sign of victory. Now the men of Israel believed their king attacked the garrison of the Philistines, and deception set in––dangerous!

Sadly, in Saul’s life we see how easy it was for pride to take over his character. Saul was trying to be someone he was not. He took the glory. This sin of pride will lead him to greater sin––one step at a time he gets himself into trouble––slowly, he will step downward until he loses the kingship.

Now with a new battle on the horizon, victory will soon turn into defeat. Pride and fear play a huge factor in the unfolding events. God’s people will fear as they face the multitudes gathered against them. They forgot about their God again! Saul falters and does something he never should have done and reaps terrible consequence.

…if a man has not cast his fears on Christ, he must bear them himself. The safety of the Rock is for those who have put their trust in the Rock. All others must face their enemies alone.
~A.W. Tozer~

TUESDAY March 12, 2019

Blowing Your Own Trumpet

And Jonathan attacked the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear!” Now all Israel heard it said that Saul had attacked a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel had also become an abomination to the Philistines. And the people were called together to Saul at Gilgal.

1 Samuel 13:3-4

The Philistines had continued to harass God’s people. Then the Lord placed in the heart of Jonathan, Saul’s son, to go out and fight against them. Saul’s son Jonathan was a young fighter; he zealously and courageously fought on the frontline against the Philistines. God used Jonathan mightily and gave him the victory.

Yet Saul was the one to pick up a trumpet and blow it––claiming victory. He made a big spectacle in front of the people, even though he had nothing to do with it. Saul as a king was getting older; he found himself unable to do what Jonathan was accomplishing in battle. Instead of giving credit to whom it was due, in pride, Saul decided to take the glory for himself for the victory won. Understand, God will not share his glory with any person.

How many people try to take God’s glory for themselves in ministry? They are not actively in the fight, but they want to blow the trumpet and take the credit. They had nothing to do with the hard work or the victory won. That can become a big problem with people; it is so easy to blow your own trumpet and place the pronoun “I” in everything. Be careful not to blow your own tune, or you will get yourself in big trouble.

Another issue is many older people wish they were young again and envy the young. Honestly, if God has called someone younger in the ministry, and they are doing a better job, take a back seat. Do not get in the way. Think about it. Those who are young will be the ones to take the baton in the ministry, and the Lord will continue to bless the work.

The most effective poison to lead men to ruin is to boast in themselves, in their own wisdom and will power.
~John Calvin~

MONDAY March 11, 2019

Giving Way to Sin

Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, Saul chose for himself three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in the mountains of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. The rest of the people he sent away, every man to his tent.

1 Samuel 13:1-2

After Samuel gave his testimony before the king and the people, he entered into a time of retirement. At this time, Saul had now reigned as King of Israel for two years and was about 40 years old. Saul was now showing signs in his character that he could not handle the power given to him. Pride began to sneak into his life.

Let me make a serious statement. We need to hear the warnings of God when He speaks to us about something serious in our lives. Why? If we fail to heed His voice when He shows to us areas of sin, those same areas are where we will stumble and fall into sin. The problem surfaces when a child of God is not listening to what the Lord has to say to them in His Word.

It is believed by some scholars that King David penned Psalm 119. In Psalm 119:9-11, godly wisdom is given to heed God’s Word and avoid sin:

How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word. With my whole heart I have sought you; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I may not sin against You (Psalm 119:9-11).

Notice the key actions you can take to not give way to sin in your own life: Heed God’s Word, seek God with your whole heart, do not wander away from God’s Word, and hide God’s Word in your heart. Are you making a daily habit of doing all these things?

It was sin that made our bodies mortal ... therefore do not yield obedience to such an enemy.
~Matthew Henry~

SUNDAY March 10, 2019

Consider What God Has Done

“Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

1 Samuel 12:24-25

Samuel exhorted the people of Israel to fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all their hearts. They really needed to consider everything God had done for them in their past history. God, through the prophet Samuel, warned His people and said, “If you do wickedly, God will turn you over to your enemies to be chastened.” Israel would not get away with their sin.

As a Christian, consider everything God has done for you. Why go back to wickedness! We need to remind ourselves in every way what God has done for us. That is the great theology in the Bible. Understand, it is not what you have done for God, but what God has done for you! Seriously, there is nothing you can do for Him, but to please the Lord by giving Him your whole heart in truth and obedience.

The Bible gives to us a stern warning. Paul taught the Corinthian Christians, that those who choose to continually and willfully sin against God may need to be turned over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh, so on the Day of the Lord Jesus Christ––judgment––their sousl will be saved (1 Corinthians 5:5). Christians really need to take heed to what God is saying to them through the Scriptures.

Where does your life stand before God? Are you guilty of willful sin? Then consider the great things God has done for you and repent. Through the power of the Holy Spirit you can deny the things of the flesh. Understand, God has done everything in His power to provide a way for you to not lose your soul in eternal judgment (John 3:16).

There are many followers who have likewise never stopped to consider who God is, what He has done, and what He demands of us.
~A. W. Tozer~

SATURDAY March 9, 2019

Never Cease to Pray

“For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.”

1 Samuel 12:22-23

Israel was chosen to become God’s special people. He became their God, and they became His people––accepted. Israel had a relationship with God, but His blessings were contingent on their obedience. Samuel addressed Israel; despite their disobedience, God would not forsake them. Samuel then made an important statement: even though Israel was in rebellion, he would not sin against God and fail to pray for them.

Notice, it is a sin not to spend time in prayer with God. The Lord is the One trying to speak us, but if we fail to have close communion with God, the conversation is only one way. Prayer is a priority for Christians. We need to give ourselves constantly to prayer and the Word. The Word of God is never a priority over prayer, and prayer is never a priority over the Word of God. We need the balance of them both. How can you understand the Word of God apart from prayer?

In your prayer time, allow God to speak to your heart; make sure that you are responsive to God. Pray not only for your needs, but for the needs of others, using intercessory prayer. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are instructed to: …pray without ceasing. Follow the example of Jesus in developing a life of prayer. He prayed in the morning and night. Sometimes all night long! Before Jesus chose His Twelve Apostles, He prayed all night: …He [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God (Luke 6:12).

As believers, we bear the name of Christ––Christians. So we need to follow in His footsteps. We need to be men and women of prayer. Pray without ceasing; speak with God constantly.

Not to pray is to live in sin.
~Raul Ries~

FRIDAY March 8, 2019

No Satisfaction

Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing.”

1 Samuel 12:20-21

In the past, Moses had told Israel’s forefathers: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Now Samuel exhorted God’s people again. He reiterated God’s conditions for following Him––serve the Lord with all your heart and do not backslide. He warned Israel, if they decided to leave the Lord, they would go back to an emptiness of life, and nothing would satisfy them.

There are Christians who choose not to serve God with all their hearts; they serve the Lord only partially––not with all their heart, soul and strength. The problem today is many Christians are not totally sold out to serve the Lord. Instead, their hearts are divided, and they find themselves following after empty, vain things.

Understand, God never leaves us, but we leave Him for other things: our cars, our houses, our pets, drinking, drugs, or sex––these things will never satisfy us. God is the only One who can satisfy us. Could it be other things have taken first place in our lives?

If you have left God to seek and search after other things, you are going to become an empty person. People who search for other things become miserable. Apart from God, all other things are temporal––they will burn or take wings and fly away–– but the things of God endure forever. So the only way to be happy, and joyous, is to be in the perfect will of God. God wants us to invest our lives in the kingdom of eternity.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
~Matthew 6:33~

THURSDAY March 7, 2019

Pray for Us!

So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel. And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves.”

1 Samuel 12:18-19

Samuel prayed to the Lord and God answered his request––it came to pass! He was an ordinary man, just like you and me––flesh and blood––and yet God answered his prayer––amazing! Samuel’s commitment to God was tremendous. God showed His power to His people, but there was no real repentance. They did confess they had done wrong by asking for a king, but they never really confessed they had rejected God.

It must have been such a sight for God’s people to hear the thunder and see the lightening in the sky. Israel would have known God was giving them a sign of His displeasure. Israel said words of repentance with their lips, but showed no remorse––words are cheap. God wanted true repentance. Notice, Israel did not even have the confidence to pray to God for themselves; they asked Samuel to pray to the Lord for them.

It is so easy to try and appease God with our words, but God sees the heart. It is the heart of man that is the problem:

“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” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).

Christians constantly need to examine their hearts before the Lord. If you find yourself paying lip service to God without any real change or repentance, ask Him to help you change your life by the power of the Holy Spirit. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life.

A great part of your prayer work should be imploring the Almighty for a greater measure of his Spirit.
~Walter Chantry~

WEDNESDAY March 6, 2019

A Great Rebuke

“Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the LORD will do before your eyes: Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the LORD, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves.”

1 Samuel 12:16-17

Notice, Samuel was not pleased with Israel’s choice for a king. Neither was God. Samuel rebuked Israel, but they were happy to have a king, and they did not receive the rebuke he gave to them. It was not the season for thunder and rain, and yet Samuel prayed to the Lord to send thunder and rain. His answered prayer would further show to Israel the great sin of asking for a king and refusing the Lord to reign over them.

As a Christian, it is good to listen and receive a rebuke from a godly leader. Too often, Christians can take a rebuke the wrong way. They might take it personally, thinking, They do not like me, when God was really trying to speak to your heart. God was trying to rebuke you for something you had done. The Bible teaches us that when a rebuke is given, it is actually for our benefit:

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).

A rebuke from someone has to bring about a change of heart. Then what happens? God can use your life. There is no rebellion; instead there is peace, love, unity and harmony.

Let us humbly sit at our Lord’s feet to receive rebuke or instruction as He sees fit.
~C. H Spurgeon~

TUESDAY March 5, 2019

The Sin of Rebellion

“If you fear the LORD and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the LORD your God. However, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers.”

1 Samuel 12:14-15

God gave Israel some important conditions to fulfill in their relationship with Him. They were to fear the Lord, serve Him, and obey His voice, and God would be with them. The Lord made His grace and mercy available to Israel. He gave them an opportunity to repent and do what was right. However, if they chose to rebel against God, He would turn against them. Israel would not get away with their sin of rebellion.

Throughout Israel’s history, their forefathers had also been rebellious: …they [Israel] rebelled against the words of God, and despised the counsel of the Most High (Psalm 107:11). What did Israel fail to remember? What happened to them as a result of their rebellion?

Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; they did not remember Your abundant kindnesses, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea (Psalm 106:7 NASB).

…they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them (Isaiah 63:10 NASB).

The same problem of rebellion would be found in King Saul’s life. Samuel would rebuke Saul (1 Samuel 15:23). Do you have a problem with rebellion? Are you self-willed, doing just as you please? God is not going to put up with rebellion in your heart. Remember the Lord’s kindness, listen to His counsel, obey His voice, and do not rebel.

Surely no rebel can expect the King to pardon his treason while he remains in open revolt.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

MONDAY March 4, 2019

Let God Reign Over Your Life

“And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king. Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired. And take note, the LORD has set a king over you.”

1 Samuel 12:12-13

Samuel showed Israel how their priorities were all messed up. Even though Nahash, King of the Ammonites, came against the city of Jabesh, they would not submit or surrender to the leadership of God! Israel wanted God’s help, but they still did not want Him to reign over them. They did not want a theocracy; they wanted a monarchy––a king to reign over Israel. Think about how self-willed Israel had become.

Samuel let Israel know the truth. Rather than ask God to deliver them, they wanted to go to man! Israel used the arm of flesh for help––human strength––not God’s divine aid. God desired to help them in the battle, but now they received a king. Samuel wanted Israel to take note and pay close attention to his words. In getting what they wanted, King Saul was going to be harsh. When that happened, Samuel wanted them to remember exactly what they had asked for.

Yet Samuel gave the children of Israel a key to their walk with God. They needed to consistently follow after the Lord. The nation of Israel had a very inconsistent walk with God––it was like being on a roller coaster!

Many Christians have a walk with God like the children of Israel. They forget what God has done in their lives and choose to go back to their old lives––sad. How is your walk with God? Is your disobedience making your life like a roller coaster ride? Life is harsh without God––it can be all up and down. Refocus your priorities––let God reign over your life.

I [God] only wanted to remove [things] from the temple of your heart that I might reign unchallenged there.
~A.W. Tozer~

SUNDAY March 3, 2019

Dwelling Safely

“Then they cried out to the LORD, and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD and served the Baals and Ashtoreths; but now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You.’ And he LORD sent Jerubbaal, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side; and you dwelt in safety.”

1 Samuel 12:10-11

Samuel continued to remind Israel of their history. Their forefathers were guilty of idolatry. They had trusted in idols: the Baals and Ashtoreths and they constantly forsook their God. When the Lord allowed their enemies to come against them, they cried out to Him for deliverance. If only they would have listened to Him in the first place, they would never have had to cry out to the Lord.

We can read their repetitive history in the Book of Judges; every time a godly leader would die, they would go right back into sin! Now in front of Samuel, Israel, confronted with their past history, acknowledged their sin and pleaded with God. If He would help them against their enemies, then they would serve Him once again. Was this true repentance? No!

However, when Israel cried out to the Lord, in His mercy, He delivered them from their enemies. When God’s people would enter the Promised Land, if they obeyed Him, God would keep His promise to them:

“But you will cross the Jordan and settle in the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest from all your enemies around you so that you will live in safety” (Deuteronomy 12:10 NIV).

When you have problems and situations in your life, understand you could be the problem––not God. If you have become haughty and arrogant against God, you will have a life of strife and not peace. You will be at war with God. When you are at peace with God, then you will have peace.

I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
~Psalms 4:8~

SATURDAY March 2, 2019

Forsaking God

“When Jacob had gone into Egypt, and your fathers cried out to the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. And when they forgot the LORD their God, He sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab; and they fought against them.”

1 Samuel 12:8-9

The prophet Samuel retold Israel’s history. Israel had constantly forsaken God. He heard their cries when they became slaves in Egypt. God sent Moses to deliver them. Through His faithful servant Moses, God did many wonders. He delivered His people so they could worship Him.

The book of Judges says, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera (Judges 4:1-2). When Israel cried out, God used Deborah and Barak to deliver His people. God fought against Sisera by using the forces of nature, the stars from heaven, and He overflowed the River Kishon (Judges 4:4-23; Judges 5).

Samuel wanted Israel to know God had not forgotten about them; Israel was guilty for forsaking their God. God had warned them over and over again, until finally, His chastisement and judgment came upon them. God used heathen nations to chastise Israel. Only then did they remember God and cry out to Him to save them. Yet this sinful cycle continued, and God’s people experienced defeat after defeat because of their disobedience.

Have you forgotten God, His past deliverances, and have you strayed away from Him? Are you now living a life of disobedience? God, in His love, will get your attention by allowing trials in your life. He desires to have restored fellowship with you. Forsake your sin and obey the Lord.

It is indeed the enemy of our souls who makes us forget that we are never at the end of God’s love.
~A.W. Tozer~

FRIDAY March 1, 2019

Reasoning with the Rebellious

Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the LORD who raised up Moses and Aaron, and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt. Now therefore, stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous acts of the LORD which He did to you and your fathers….”

1 Samuel 12:6-7

Samuel rehearsed Israel’s history to them, to remind Israel of all God had done for His people. Israel had been so rebellious in choosing a king to reign over them, instead of choosing the Lord. So, Samuel took them all the way back to their past when God, in His awesome power, came through for them––so they would not forget. God was their Deliverer. He rescued them from slavery in Egypt so they could serve Him! It was good for Israel to be reminded and learn of God’s faithfulness.

We can also learn a lot about ourselves from Israel’s history. In the Old Testament, and even in the New Testament, everywhere we read about Moses and the children of Israel, we can learn from their rebellion and failures. What is God trying to tell us today? I believe with all my heart, the Lord wants us to learn from their examples in the past, so we do not do the same things and make the same mistakes.

Christians need to be reminded of who they are in Christ. Let us go back and reflect on what God has done in our past––how He came and delivered us from our sins––delivered us out of hell’s pit! Do you remember how the Lord helped you financially? In your trials and temptations, when you almost slipped away, do you recall how God gave you a way of escape and put your life back in place? God is so faithful. Seriously, He comes through for us every time. Today, take time to think back and remember all He has ever done for you.

I will remember the works of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
~Psalm 77:11~

THURSDAY February 28, 2019

God is Our Witness

Then he said to them, “The LORD is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they answered, “He is witness.”

1 Samuel 12:5

Notice Samuel’s heart; he stood before God, King Saul and the people with a clear conscience. During his lifetime, he did was right before God and the people. They were called to test his life and be a witness before the Lord––who could strike Samuel dead! They all bore witness that he had served God with all his heart.

We need to have a heart like Samuel. Before people, we need to have a testimony that we have served God with all our heart. Take some time to mediate––think on––these important verses about serving the Lord:

It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him (Deuteronomy 13:4 NIV).

“…love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Joshua 22:5 NIV).

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord (Romans 12:11 NIV).

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV).

We need to recognize we have a great responsibility to serve the Lord and to have a testimony that is blameless––fully and completely.

If we desire to become leaders for God, we must give ourselves totally to the Lord and obey whatever orders He gives us.
~Warren W. Wiersbe~

WEDNESDAY February 27, 2019

Blamelessness

“Here I am. Witness against me before the LORD and before His anointed: Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I received any bribe with which to blind my eyes? I will restore it to you.” And they said, “You have not cheated us or oppressed us, nor have you taken anything from any man’s hand.”

1 Samuel 12:3-4

As Samuel continued his farewell speech, he separated his life from his wife and children, to give a sole account of himself, “I am here.” Samuel’s life was an open book to people; he showed himself to be blameless and made himself accountable to them.

Samuel was pretty bold! He declared before God, King Saul and the people, that if he was guilty of any theft, cheating, oppression, or receiving a bribe from anyone, he wanted to make it right in their presence. He asked, “Have I done anything to anyone?” He gave an opportunity for anyone to speak up in the presence of them all. However, if all agreed with his testimony, and that he stood before them blameless, then they were to say, “Amen.”

Sometimes Christians can be guilty of oppressing others, cheating, and being deceitful. That is not right in the eyes of God. Seriously, what will people find out about you? When the real truth comes out about your hidden sin, they will be disappointed. Remember, one day we shall have to give an account before God. The book of our lives will be opened and read. We all need a good testimony and to end our lives well. Allow God to do a work in your life, so you can be blameless before God and men.

Memorize Acts 24:16, place your name in this verse, and make a practice of it daily in your life.

“This being so, I [Paul] myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.”
~Acts 24:16~

TUESDAY February 26, 2019

Farewell Speech

Now Samuel said to all Israel: “Indeed I have heeded your voice in all that you said to me, and have made a king over you. And now here is the king, walking before you; and I am old and grayheaded, and look, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my childhood to this day.”

1 Samuel 12:1-2

As Saul became reestablished as king, Samuel took a back seat into retirement, he watched God work in Saul’s life. Samuel gave his farewell speech to the king and the people of Israel. He gave a tremendous speech; he spoke about his integrity before God and man––I like that!

Samuel spoke to the people about how they desired to have a king like the other nations. They had settled for a monarchy instead of a theocracy. Samuel gave testimony of himself––his life of integrity––not his children’s. Samuel’s life of integrity was an open book for all to read. He gave a full account of his life in the kingdom of Israel, which began in the tabernacle as a young child.

As a pastor or leader grows older and they near death, they will often recount their days in the ministry. Most godly preachers prepare a farewell speech; they address their congregations in a final message, unless they die suddenly. If that should happen, people could listen to the pastor’s final message that they gave. Imagine, the Lord would be the One to prepare their farewell speech.

Many other leaders in the Bible had given a farewell speech: Moses, Joshua, David and Paul. Think about it. If you were going to give a farewell speech to those gathered around your deathbed, what would you say to your family and friends? Would it be a speech building yourself up, or would it be a humble, farewell speech proclaiming all God has done in your life? Is your life of integrity an open book for people to read?

Tranquil and happy, though very weak. My theology is very simple. I can express it in few words and they are enough to die by. Jesus died for me. What simplicity!
~C. H. Spurgeon~

MONDAY February 25, 2019

A Time of Rejoicing

Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.” So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal. There they made sacrifices of peace offerings before the LORD, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

1 Samuel 11:14-15

The prophet Samuel unified the nation of Israel. At Gilgal, on the opposite side of the Jordan, the prophet renewed the monarchy. Saul was reestablished as King of Israel. Saul started well; he had a great opportunity to become a good king. To become a great king, Saul needed certain godly qualities to lead God’s people. Sadly, Saul really did not have these good qualities––he had great weaknesses in his character that would arise later in his life. He would not finish well.

For now, God allowed Saul to be the anointed King of Israel. Saul was man’s choice––he was never God’s choice. Remember, God wanted a theocracy, but the people had made a choice for a monarchy––sad. Israel as a nation showed its weakness in wanting a king to rule over them. As sacrifices were made, all the men of Israel greatly rejoiced. Despite the choices Israel had made, God was still leading His people.

As Christians, we have a great opportunity to be a good influence in our homes, our church and in society. God help us to be good leaders, to put away our flesh, and to reckon the old man to be dead (Romans 6:6-23). No matter what position we are serving in the ministry, leaders always have to search their hearts. When God leads our lives, there will be rejoicing; but when we begin to work in the flesh––our carnal man, there will be no rejoicing––only mourning and bitterness.

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.
~Proverbs 29:2~

SUNDAY February 24, 2019

Confidence in the King

Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is he who said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the LORD has accomplished salvation in Israel.”

1 Samuel 11:12-13

Notice, at this point, Saul had not done anything great as a king. God took Saul and exalted him a little in the battle against the Ammonites. He wanted to show the people Saul was their anointed king. When the people of Israel saw the king’s wisdom, power, judgment and his strategy used against the Ammonites, they become more confident in their king. The people realized Saul had success in battle because the Lord was leading him.

Some of the people wanted the men who opposed and rebelled against Saul being king, put to death. However, Saul did not want the people’s focus to be on the rebels by putting them to death on a day of victory and rejoicing. Saul did not want to overshadow Israel’s time of rejoicing against their enemies, the Ammonites, by shedding more blood.

He showed himself as a king of mercy and directed the people to know salvation belonged to Israel––God had delivered His people. King Saul wisely placed the people’s focus back on the Lord. However, later in his life, Saul would fail in his leadership. His disobedience would greatly influence the people of Israel, and they would lose their confidence in him.

As Christians, our God is King. We place our full confidence in Him and not in man. The Bible tells us: It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes (Psalm 118:8-9). We can be used by the Lord to be a strong influence in people’s lives. We have a responsibility to direct people to the Lord and not to us. If we place their eyes on us, we shall fail them.

When the leader lacks confidence the followers lack commitment.
~John Maxwell~

SATURDAY February 23, 2019

Stalling for Time

Therefore the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will come out to you, and you may do with us whatever seems good to you.” So it was, on the next day, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch, and killed Ammonites until the heat of the day. And it happened that those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

1 Samuel 11:10-11

The Ammonites, led by Nahash, came against the people of Jabesh. Fearful, the men of Jabesh wanted to make a covenant with the Ammonites, but Nahash gave them one condition. He wanted to pluck out their right eyes, crippling them. The elders of Jabesh asked for more time; maybe other men in Israel would be willing to save them. If no help came from anyone, then they would face their enemies.

The men of Jabesh made it seem to the Ammonites as though no one was coming; they told the Ammonites they would be presenting themselves to them the next day. At that time, their enemies could do whatever they wanted to do to them. What were the people of Jabash actually doing? They were stalling for time. Meanwhile, King Saul had gathered the men of Israel for battle to help them.

Notice, King Saul, as a leader, organized his troops. Saul stationed his men in three complete ranks; he knew exactly how to set up his men for battle against the Ammonites. King Saul strategized against the enemy, so Israel would not be defeated––they would get the victory. He planned a surprise attack, and sent his troops against the Ammonites during the morning watch, from about 2:00 am – sunrise. Saul led Israel to victory because of the Lord. God was with the king.

A good leader needs to be organized in their strategy to defeat the enemy. In a spiritual warfare, what kind of leader are you? Do you plan a winning strategy against your enemies so you are not defeated?

Worldliness, sinful pleasures and personal ungodliness have often been the cause of the church’s disgraceful surrender to the enemy.
~A.W. Tozer~

SATURDAY February 23, 2019

Stalling for Time

Therefore the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will come out to you, and you may do with us whatever seems good to you.” So it was, on the next day, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch, and killed Ammonites until the heat of the day. And it happened that those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

1 Samuel 11:10-11

The Ammonites, led by Nahash, came against the people of Jabesh. Fearful, the men of Jabesh wanted to make a covenant with the Ammonites, but Nahash gave them one condition. He wanted to pluck out their right eyes, crippling them. The elders of Jabesh asked for more time; maybe other men in Israel would be willing to save them. If no help came from anyone, then they would face their enemies.

The men of Jabesh made it seem to the Ammonites as though no one was coming; they told the Ammonites they would be presenting themselves to them the next day. At that time, their enemies could do whatever they wanted to do to them. What were the people of Jabash actually doing? They were stalling for time. Meanwhile, King Saul had gathered the men of Israel for battle to help them.

Notice, King Saul, as a leader, organized his troops. Saul stationed his men in three complete ranks; he knew exactly how to set up his men for battle against the Ammonites. King Saul strategized against the enemy, so Israel would not be defeated––they would get the victory. He planned a surprise attack, and sent his troops against the Ammonites during the morning watch, from about 2:00 am – sunrise. Saul led Israel to victory because of the Lord. God was with the king.

A good leader needs to be organized in their strategy to defeat the enemy. In a spiritual warfare, what kind of leader are you? Do you plan a winning strategy against your enemies so you are not defeated?

Worldliness, sinful pleasures and personal ungodliness have often been the cause of the church’s disgraceful surrender to the enemy.
~A.W. Tozer~

FRIDAY February 22, 2019

Glad for the Help

When he [King Saul] numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. And they said to the messengers who came, “Thus you shall say to the men of Jabesh Gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have help.’ ” Then the messengers came and reported it to the men of Jabesh, and they were glad.

1 Samuel 11:8-9

Can you imagine what an awesome army Israel had for battle? They were 330,000 strong. Imagine them looking down the hill at the Ammonites below. Even though the men of Jabesh were fearful, they were now glad because God will fight for them. The Lord will use His servant King Saul.

Think about our lives. So often we are made fearful by men who come against us. We need to remember, whoever it is that comes against us; who will help us? The Bible tells us: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1 KJV). We may feel vulnerable and weak, but we must place your confidence in Him: “…I am poor and needy; yet the LORD thinks on me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.” Paul instructed believers that Jesus is our High Priest, through Him we can come boldly to the throne of grace:

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16).

As a Christian, are you in need of help today? Be glad, God is with you and He will be your help.

…For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
~Hebrews 13:5-6~

THURSDAY February 21, 2019

The Power of the Holy Spirit

Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused. So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, “Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen.” And the fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.

1 Samuel 11:6-7

Notice, the Spirit of God came upon Saul. Finally he was beginning to show his real call as King of Israel, but only as the Spirit of God worked in his life. In godly anger, Saul decided to give the people an example so they did not rebel, he took a yoke of oxen cut them up and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel saying: “Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen.” Saul had placed great pressure on the people and the fear of the Lord came on them.

Remember the problem in Acts 6, when the widows were being neglected? The twelve Apostles asked that the brethren to find from among them seven men to take care of the business. What were their needed qualifications? The brethren looked for men, who were full of the Holy Spirit, men of faith, and of good reputation (Acts 6:1-6).

Imagine out of these seven men, one of them gave a powerful sermon (Acts 6:7), and became the first martyr––Stephen (Acts 6:8-15; Acts 7). Another became a prophet––Philip. An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip to go south, into the desert on a road from Jerusalem to Gaza. There came an Ethiopian man, of great authority who was reading the book of Isaiah. Philip explained to him about Christ, and the man believed that Jesus was the Son of God, and was baptized (Acts 8:26-40).

Where did these men start? Waiting on tables. Who promoted them, Peter, James or John? No, God. Understand, the call of God can never work apart from the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.

If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference…
~A.W. Tozer~

WEDNESDAY February 20, 2019

Leaders Remain Among the People

So the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and told the news in the hearing of the people. And all the people lifted up their voices and wept. Now there was Saul, coming behind the herd from the field; and Saul said, “What troubles the people, that they weep?” And they told him the words of the men of Jabesh.

1 Samuel 11:3-5

When Nahash came against Jabesh the people wept, and it became known to King Saul. Notice where Saul was working, he was in a field with the herds, among the people. As King of Israel, he had not separated himself from the people, he had not distance himself from them. Saul, at this point, did not think of himself above the people. He remained approachable and humble. Saul had no body guards, and the people felt good about their king.

Sometimes leaders who are placed in a position of importance become proud and unapproachable. They separate themselves; all of a sudden they think they are above the people, when they should remain humble and among the common people. They forget when they were nothing.

Leaders who have become distant from the people and live a different standard of life forget who got them there in the first place. If it was not for God allowing them to serve Him in that position, where would they be today? They would be a regular person, nobody would even know them.

I have never forgotten where I came from––Baldwin Park––we had nothing. I know God has placed me where I am today, I want the Lord to keep moving in my life, and I will keep following Him.

Never get comfortable with everything God has blessed you with and never forget where God has taken you from. Seriously, we can easily forget who has promoted us. Can you imagine the blessing each of us has in serving God with all of our hearts?

God often goes to the gutter to find the recipient for His grace. He lifts him out, washes him and transforms him making him into a child of God fit for His kingdom––that is God’s grace.
~Chuck Smith~

TUESDAY February 19, 2019

A Cruel Covenant

Then Nahash the Ammonite came up and encamped against Jabesh Gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a covenant with us, and we will serve you.” And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, “On this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all Israel.”

1 Samuel 11:1-2

Saul was now king of Israel, when Nahash the Ammonite man who oppressed the people of Jabesh. Interestingly, the name Nashah in the Hebrew language means “serpent.” It is important to see the problems when different leaders rise to power. They want to conquer, dominate and rule. There were great power struggles––pride. In fear, the people of Jabesh were willing to make a covenant with Nahash. A covenant was an “agreement, a contract or a binding promise.” The people of Jabesh were ready to compromise with Nahash just to have peace, not war.

Nahash was wicked and cruel. He agreed to make a covenant with the people of Jabesh, but in doing so, he wanted to cripple and maim the people. He wanted them to agree to pluck out their right eyes! In biblical times, the right hand was a sign of strength, in the same way, the right eye was considered to be more valuable than the left. When men fought in war, the right eye was the sharpest eye used in battle.

The people of Jabesh made no rush decision, they requested a week to think about Nahash’s unreasonable terms for peace. During that time, they would try to find support, perhaps an ally––someone to help them fight against Ammonites. They turned to men––what about God?

Understand our enemy––Satan, the great dragon, the serpent of old, the Devil (Revelation 12:9), always wants to cripple us. What is Satan’s cruel intent? He shows us no mercy, his goal is to seek to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). We have a strong ally against him––God.

He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
~1 John 4:4~

MONDAY February 18, 2019

President’s Day

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.

Proverbs 29:2

Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin in Hodgenville, Kentucky on February 12, 1809. He later was elected the 16th President of the United States in 1861. In his life time Abraham Lincoln left a legacy of freedom.

The people had endured a great civil struggle––war. Abraham Lincoln was used by God to bring a divided nation together under one Union, the Constitution. He was also known for the great emancipation; the final document was signed and took effect January 1, 1863. Lincoln remarked, "I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper." Many people rejoiced.

Today, Donald J. Trump is the 45th President of the United States of America. Although not a perfect man, we pray God would continue to use him in leading our great country. It is important for our children and grandchildren that the Constitution, our country’s freedoms and Christian liberties be upheld. We must never forget our brave men and women who have fought and died to keep our nation free.

Under the Trump administration, our ties with Israel have been strengthened. The United States has opened its new embassy in Jerusalem on May 14 2018, the 70th anniversary of the making of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948. Many people in Israel rejoiced.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked President Trump for having the courage to keep his promises. He went on to say, “The truth is that Jerusalem has been, and will always be, the capital of the Jewish people, the capital of the Jewish state.” Biblically, any president, that takes office or any other nation would be wise to befriend the nation of Israel.

“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 12:3~

SUNDAY February 17, 2019

Has God Touched Your Heart?

Then Samuel explained to the people the behavior of royalty, and wrote it in a book and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house. And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and valiant men went with him, whose hearts God had touched. But some rebels said, “How can this man save us?” So they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.

1 Samuel 10:25-27

God surrounded Saul with valiant and faithful men; those whose hearts were touched by the Lord. However, there were those who opposed Saul. There were men on the other side––rebels––who could not stand him.

These verses spoke to my heart personally because if we are to turn the world upside down for Jesus Christ, then we need men in the ministry whose hearts have been touched by the Lord. Men like these will become one with a leader God has called into ministry. They will flow with them because they are of one mind, one heart and one spirit.

Men who have been touched by the Lord have the same passion and vision. They have genuine qualities to serve alongside a leader in the ministry. Men who have not been touched by the Lord can become enemies of a leader; they become problem people in the ministry. Why?

They may be jealous of a new leader because of the position God has placed them in. Jealous people cannot stand rivals. Understand that if God has placed a person in a leadership position; then God will keep them there. They do not have to worry about men who are rebellious.

Seriously, I pray that God will give me men whose hearts have been touched by God. I know they will be faithful to God and to me. Men like these will continuously stand behind you, they will always love you! Has your heart been touched by God to come alongside a leader in the ministry, to serve with them and be a loyal and faithful friend?

“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth.”
~John Wesley~

SATURDAY February 16, 2019

Are You Hiding from God?

So they [the people of Israel] ran and brought him [Saul] from there; and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen, that there is no one like him among all the people?” So all the people shouted and said, “Long live the king!”

1 Samuel 10:23-24

Saul had a call to be king, but he had hidden himself among the equipment, and he could not be found. Saul failed to respond to God’s call on his life. It was a folly not to respond. Saul’s actions revealed a great weakness in his character. I believe Saul did not want to be king. Yet, he could not get away from God. The Lord showed Samuel and the people where Saul was hidden, and they went to fetch him.

Saul, taller than anyone, stood before the people, and they all shouted, “Long live the king!” This is an English term that is still used today; a proclamation is made following the accession of a new monarch. In the Hebrew language the phrase Long live the king, means “Let the king live.” Understand, King Saul became man’s choice and not God’s choice.

Jonah was a prophet who tried to run away and hide from the call of God. He did not want to preach to the Assyrians in the city of Nineveh. They were cruel and wicked. Jonah tried to take a ship and go in another direction. He thought, Finally I have got away from God, but the Lord sent a strong storm, which almost broke up the ship. The men on the ship found out Jonah was running away from God. Jonah, to calm the storm, asked to be thrown into the sea!

Yet, God sent a great fish that swallowed Jonah. In the belly of the fish he prayed to the Lord. Jonah became submissive to Him. God directed the fish to Nineveh, and command Jonah once more to give His message to the people (Jonah 1-4). A true son or daughter cannot run away and hide from God! He is omnipresent.

There will be no peace in any soul until it is willing
to obey the voice of God.

~D. L. Moody~

FRIDAY February 15, 2019

Hiding from the Call of God

And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was chosen. When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was chosen. And Saul the son of Kish was chosen. But when they sought him, he could not be found. Therefore they inquired of the LORD further, “Has the man come here yet?” And the LORD answered, “There he is, hidden among the equipment.”

1 Samuel 10:20-22

Notice, Saul had been anointed to be the King of Israel, and just as Samuel was ready to introduce him to the tribes of Israel, when it really came down to taking the position, Saul was nowhere to be found. Even though Saul was tall and handsome in his outward appearance, he had a great weakness in his personality. Saul hid on the day of his coronation. He did not have the courage or boldness to say, “Yes, I am going to become king.” Instead, Saul was trying to hide from the call of God.

I really believe Saul did not have the leadership skills to lead God’s people. Although Saul had a small hint of humility in his life, hiding from the call of God was not a sign of true humility. Saul did not what to be king or serve God. In the end, the Lord had to expose where Saul was hiding to Samuel and the people; he hid among the equipment.

The people of Israel did not really know the truth about Saul; they had no idea what they were getting into! Think about it. What if that happened when the President of the United States was elected? Instead of the President addressing the public in front of the TV cameras and accepting office, what if he was found hiding in the closet? What would people think? They would question, “What kind of man is this?”

There are Christians who will hide from the call of the Lord. Even though they have been anointed by Him, they will not operate under the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Are you hiding from the call of God?

Churches were fruitless and failing because the men leading those churches had “missed their way,” when it came to the
divine call to ministry.

~C.H. Spurgeon~

THURSDAY February 14, 2019

Valentine’s Day

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

John 15:13

Historically, Valentine’s Day––or as some still refer, Saint Valentine’s Day––has its first origins in a historical account of martyrdom. The story is told of a Roman priest named Saint Valentine. The Roman Empire, during the reign of Claudius II, banned soldiers from marriage if they had not fulfilled their military duties and persecuted Christians. Valentine assisted them both; he performed marriages against the order of the state and aided Christians.

Valentine was then imprisoned, tortured and beaten. Finally, he stood before the Emperor and refused to renounce his Christian faith. Valentine was beheaded on February 14, 269 A.D. Since then, the Christian Church has set aside February 14, as a day to commemorate Saint Valentine.

However, it was thought that Geoffrey Chaucer, an English poet from

14th century England, was attributed with modernizing the version of Saint Valentine’s Day to express romantic love. During this medieval period when men treated women with chivalry and courtly love, on Valentine’s Day they gave them love notes and flowers. Valentine’s Day has spread all over the world to become a happy occasion in which love is still expressed by the giving of cards, candy and flowers.

Yet God has ultimately shown us His divine love through the sacrifice of His own Son––Jesus Christ: 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). Jesus Christ, for our salvation and forgiveness of sins, died a brutal death. The Romans tortured, mocked and crucified Him. Knowing that Jesus demonstrated His love towards you in such a sacrificial way, what do you think should be your response towards Him?

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
~1 John 4:10~

WEDNESDAY February 13, 2019

A Needed Rebuke

Then Samuel called the people together to the LORD at Mizpah, and said to the children of Israel, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all kingdoms and from those who oppressed you.’ But you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, ‘No, set a king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and by your clans.”

1 Samuel 10:17-19

The prophet Samuel publicly addressed the children of Israel. They were to be reminded of God’s faithfulness in their past history and be rebuked for their stubborn request for a king. They wanted to be like the other nations––sad. They had rejected God as their King!

Have you come to a place where you have forgotten God’s deliverance? Desiring to become like the people in the world, are you complaining and discontented? In stubbornness, have you strayed away from the Lord? Perhaps you have even come to the point where you no longer want God to govern over your life. There are times when you need a good rebuke from the Lord. Today, remember the goodness of God, His faithfulness, His grace and mercy in your life, so you can return back to Him:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God… (Ephesians 2:8). I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13).

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).

Never reject God’s reign over your life!

All that I was, my sin, my guilt, my death, was all my own; all that I am I owe to thee, My gracious God, alone.
~Horatius Bonar~

TUESDAY February 12, 2019

Digging for Information

Then Saul’s uncle said to him and his servant, “Where did you go?” So he said, “To look for the donkeys. When we saw that they were nowhere to be found, we went to Samuel.” And Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me, please, what Samuel said to you.” So Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But about the matter of the kingdom, he did not tell him what Samuel had said.

1 Samuel 10:14-16

Saul’s uncle was digging for information from his nephew Saul. Notice, at this time, there was a hint of humility in Saul’s life; he never boasted about himself being anointed king. He chose not to repeat everything told to him by the prophet Samuel. He let his uncle know what Samuel had said about the donkeys being found, but nothing more. He never told his uncle about being elected King of Israel

Humility is to be a part of our Christian character. The Apostle Paul taught believers to be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2 NIV). The Apostle Peter exhorted younger Christians to be in submission to their elders and to each other. He exhorted: …and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). When struggling with worldliness, the Apostle James instructed: Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up (James 4:10).

Humility is also an important key in ministry. True humility is a sign of a good leader. A person anointed by God for ministry should wait upon the Lord to be promoted. It is important to never promote yourself. A Psalm of Asaph, a choir director in the service of King David states: For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another (Psalm 75:6-7 KJV).

A humble spirit loves a low seat.
~William Gurnall~

MONDAY February 11, 2019

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

And it happened, when all who knew him [Saul] formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” Then a man from there answered and said, “But who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb: “Is Saul also among the prophets?” And when he had finished prophesying, he went to the high place.

1 Samuel 10:11-13

The people recognized that something was very different in the life of Saul. They saw him prophesying among the prophets, and they wondered what he was doing in this leadership position. They knew Saul’s family connections; he was from the tribe of Benjamin, the son of Kish, and he seemed out of place in this position among the prophets.

Understand, when God anoints a person for leadership, many times people will begin to talk among themselves. They wonder why a person was placed in such an position. Especially if they were familiar with them personally, they may question in their minds, Who do they think they are in this leadership position? They may ask, “Has God really appointed and anointed them, or did they place themselves in this position?”

Do not feel intimidated if this happens to you. Even Jesus’ brothers questioned His call. To them he was just a familiar brother, but he was the anointed Son of God. His brothers challenged him to do His works openly and show Himself to the world: “…If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” For even His brothers did not believe in Him (John 7:3-4).

Understand, it is important to keep your eyes on the Lord and not on other people. Focus on what God has called you to do.

I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

~Psalm 16:8 NIV~

SUNDAY February 10, 2019

God Gives Us Another Heart

So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him [Saul] another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day. When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.

1 Samuel 10:9-10

Notice the necessary quality of character for Saul to become king––he needed another heart. Not only did he have to become another man, but his heart had to change. Samuel’s words spoken to Saul had come to pass––they were fulfilled. Saul had the full power of the Holy Spirit in his life. He prophesied, and he became another man, and his heart was changed. Look at all the character changes in Saul’s life!

God is able to give a person, or even a nation, another heart. The nation of Israel was guilty of idolatry; they had a heart of stone. God had poured out His judgment in fury upon Israel and scattered them among the nations (Ezekiel 36:18-19).

Afterwards, for His holy name’s sake, and so the nations would know He was Lord, God would bring back Israel from all countries where they had been scattered and give them their own land. He did this, not for Israel’s sake, but so His great name would be known. Ezekiel gave a prophecy to the house of Israel concerning His work in their hearts as a nation:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

When we become Christians, God gives us another heart––a new heart! We become a changed people. The Lord has put His Spirit within us and given us a new thirst for His Word.

God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"
~Galatians 4:6~

SATURDAY February 9, 2019

Lessons of Obedience

“And let it be, when these signs come to you [Saul], that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you. You shall go down before me [Samuel] to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do.”

1 Samuel 10:7-8

As Saul obediently followed God’s instructions, and as he saw the fulfillment of the signs told him by the prophet Samuel, the Lord was with him. God wanted Saul to learn lessons of obedience. He knew Saul was self-willed. Samuel told Saul to go down to Gilgal, a place of worship, to wait there for seven days, and then Samuel would offer sacrifices to God. Samuel would have further instructions for Saul to follow.

Saul obeyed the Lord. When Samuel arrived seven days later, he make sacrifices to the Lord. The burnt offerings were sacrifices of consecration, and the peace offerings were sacrifices of fellowship. Saul would need to always listen to the detailed directions given to him by Samuel. In doing so, he would do exactly what God told him.

Now if we jump to 1 Samuel 13, two years later, what happened? Saul was now King of Israel. Saul and the men of Israel faced a multitude of Philistines who had gathered for war against them. Samuel had once again instructed Saul to wait seven days at Gilgal, and he would offer sacrifices, but when it seemed Samuel delayed his coming, Saul took it upon himself to take the office of a priest––when he was not a priest. Saul’s self-will got the best of him. King Saul disobeyed the Lord. He made an excuse to Samuel as if to say, “We could not wait for you” (1 Samuel 13:11).

God is also teaching us lessons of obedience. What specific instructions has the Lord given to you to obey from His Word? Can it be said of you that you have obeyed the Lord?

Obedience is the highest practical courage.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

FRIDAY February 8, 2019

Turned Into Another Man

“After that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is. And it will happen, when you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they will be prophesying. Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.”

1 Samuel 10:5-6

It is thought that the prophet Samuel had students who served in priestly, Levitical roles in the tabernacle and in worship. They went to a place known as the “School of the Prophets.” These men were not worldly intellectuals. Here they would have learned about God’s laws as taught from the Book of Moses, and as prophets, they had the gift of prophecy––knowledge given to them by the Lord.

God was bringing about this whole situation for His purposes. The Lord was going to do a new work in Saul’s life––he would actually prophesy with them––and God would change the heart of Saul. He would become completely another man––different. Saul would have a big change in his life. Some people think Saul was never truly born again, but after reading the Scriptures, I believe you cannot say that; Saul was given a promise of a new life.

The disciple Peter loved the Lord, but many times he operated in his own strength. He vowed to remain with the Lord even to death, but when Jesus was arrested, Peter fled. In sorrow and deep repentance, Peter wept. The Lord restored Peter’s life and commissioned him into the ministry. Only when Peter was broken, humbled, and filled with God’s Holy Spirit during Pentecost, did he become another man.

In order to be a leader in ministry, you have to become another man; you cannot be the same man you used to be. There has to be a spiritual change in your life.

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me [Jesus] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
~Acts 1:8~

THURSDAY February 7, 2019

Following Instructions

“Then you shall go on forward from there and come to the terebinth tree of Tabor. There three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall receive from their hands.”

1 Samuel 10:3-4

The prophet Samuel continued to give specific directions to Saul. After Saul found the two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, he was to go forward from there to the terebinth tree of Tabor. At this place he would meet another three men who were going to Bethel, which means “the House of God.”

Samuel told Saul exactly what they would be carrying. One would be carrying three goats, another three loaves of bread, and the other a skin of wine. He also told Saul they would greet him, and the one carrying the bread would give him two loaves. Saul was to receive the loaves from him.

Imagine, Saul was given very detailed instructions by the prophet Samuel. Saul simply had to follow and obey what Samuel was saying to him. It was important that Saul listened to Samuel, because Samuel listened to the Lord. As the new King of Israel and commander of Israel’s armies, Saul was to remain in submission to the authority of God. He needed to learn to follow instructions given to him from the Lord, through the prophet Samuel.

As Christians, it is important for us not only to read God’s Word, but obey it. Can you follow the detailed instructions given to you in God’s Word?

Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge…
~Proverbs 12:1~

WEDNESDAY February 6, 2019

Word of Knowledge

“When you have departed from me today, you will find two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys which you went to look for have been found. And now your father has ceased caring about the donkeys and is worrying about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?” ’ ”

1 Samuel 10:2

Notice, once again in directing Saul’s future, Samuel used a word of knowledge. This is a spiritual gift that is still used in the Church today. In

1 Corinthians 12:8, the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge are spiritual gifts that are mentioned together: …for to one [believer] is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit… The word of knowledge is simply information given to a person by God––knowledge in which they otherwise would not have had.

Many Christians are still ignorant of their spiritual gifts given to them by God. Paul the Apostle mentioned 21 gifts that are given to believers in Christ, by the Holy Spirit. The word translated gift in the Greek language is literally “spirituals.” In 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, there is a set of nine gifts, in Romans 12:6-8 is another seven gifts, and in Ephesians 4:11-12, yet another five. Paul taught believers in the Church of Corinth that spiritual gifts needed to be exercised in order––not in chaos. We need order in the Church, otherwise people will get turned off to the Gospel.

Understand, God desires to bless people and do a work in their lives. It is good to be content with the gifts God has given to you. He knows what you can handle. There are those who can get puffed up or have the mentality that they are more spiritual than anyone else. When you are using the gifts of the Holy Spirit, never try to bring attention to yourself. Satan can use your pride to destroy you.

God never loses sight of the treasure which He has placed in our earthen vessels.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

TUESDAY February 5, 2019

The Lord’s Anointed

Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: “Is it not because the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance?”

1 Samuel 10:1

When Samuel anointed Saul as king and commander over Israel, a large bottle or basin of oil was poured on top of his head; it ran down through his hair, eyes, mouth, beard, and dropped all the way down his clothing until it reached his feet. He would be covered with oil! In Israel, the manner of pouring oil over a king’s head represented God’s anointing. Saul was consecrated––separated to God––and the power of the Holy Spirit was now upon his life.

Later, King Saul would become jealous of a young man named David who was anointed to be the next king of Israel. The Lord had found a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 16:10-13). Due to Saul’s disobedience, God would remove His Spirit from Saul (1 Samuel 16:14). David eventually fled from Saul because the king sought to kill him. One day, David had an opportunity to kill Saul, but he would not harm him. Why? Saul was the Lord’s anointed. David told his men:

“The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.” So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul…(1 Samuel 24:6-7).

As Christians, each of us is to be regarded as the Lord’s anointed. We should not say a word against each other. Be honest; how often have you secretly gossiped about someone behind their back? Understand, you may not seek to murder someone, but you may be guilty of murdering someone’s character through gossiping. Think about it.

Be deaf, be blind, be dead to gossip, and it will grow disgusted with you and select a more sensitive victim.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

MONDAY February 4, 2019

Announcements

As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us.” And he went on. “But you stand here awhile, that I may announce to you the word of God.”

1 Samuel 9:27

Samuel separated Saul from everyone. He would announce to Saul, God’s Word. Samuel told Saul what God had revealed to him. Saul received his call from God––among the people of Israel, he was to be placed in an exalted position as king, under the guidance and direction of the King of kings. Saul was to be consecrated––a vessel in which God could work through––for the benefit of His people.

A prophet announced God’s Word to Saul, but an angel announced to Mary, a young virgin in the city of Nazareth, the Word of God:

“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. 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 1:30-33).

Imagine, the Lord wants to tell us His plans and purposes for our lives but are we listening? In Jeremiah 29:11NIV, the Lord says: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” There are times when it is good to be separated from everyone else so that you can hear the announcement of the Word of God to your heart.

How can you know God’s plans for your life if you do not take the time to stand still for a while and listen to the Lord?

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
~Jeremiah 33:3~

SUNDAY February 3, 2019

The Dawning of the Day

When they had come down from the high place into the city, Samuel spoke with Saul on the top of the house. They arose early; and it was about the dawning of the day that Samuel called to Saul on the top of the house, saying, “Get up, that I may send you on your way.” And Saul arose, and both of them went outside, he and Samuel.

1 Samuel 9:25-26

Notice, Samuel spoke to Saul on the top of the house––the roof! That might seem weird to us, but in Israel the house tops had flat roofs, and it was a place where many different things were done: bathing, sitting, washing and hanging clothing. Remember King David and how he fell into the sin of adultery? He saw Bathsheba bathing on top of the roof, and he lusted after her (2 Samuel 11:1-4).

The prophet had called to Saul from the top of the house, at the dawning of the day, to speak with him before sending him on his way. Saul listened carefully to all Samuel’s words. More importantly, think about how God calls to us to meet with Him. Is there a place in your house where you daily meet with God? Do you read God’s Word and listen to what He says to you before you go on your way?

Seriously, we should never leave our homes without seeking the Lord and praying for our day. We never know what the day ahead holds for us. It might take self-discipline to wake up early from our sleep––before the dawning of the day––but it is a spiritual necessity to listen to the voice of the Lord. We need God’s wisdom and guidance for each day.

King David, despite his failings, wrote: O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water (Psalm 63:1). Does your life seem spiritually dry? Has something else replaced your thirst for God? Renew your fellowship with God; seek Him at the dawning of the day.

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.
~Psalm 5:3~

SATURDAY February 2, 2019

Seat of Prominence

Now Samuel took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall, and had them sit in the place of honor among those who were invited; there were about thirty persons. And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion which I gave you, of which I said to you, ‘Set it apart.’ ” So the cook took up the thigh with its upper part and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, “Here it is, what was kept back. It was set apart for you. Eat; for until this time it has been kept for you, since I said I invited the people.” So Saul ate with Samuel that day.

1 Samuel 9:22-24

The prophet Samuel gave Saul a place of honor––a seat of prominence. The Lord had promoted Saul––he would become King of Israel. Yet Saul, at this time, still did not fully understand what was happening in his life.

Samuel seating Saul in a place of honor reminded me of a parable Jesus taught in the New Testament. Jesus had gone into the house of a ruler of the Pharisees to eat (Luke 14:1), but He noticed how the proud lawyers and Pharisees chose for themselves the best places to sit. He used this occasion to teach them a lesson of humility. The parable was about receiving an invitation to a wedding feast and taking the best seat:

“When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you” (Luke 14:8-10).

In any occasion, we should never place ourselves in a seat of prominence. We might be embarrassed at the outcome. Remember, promotion does not come from man––it comes from God.

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles
himself will be exalted.”

~Luke 14:11~

FRIDAY February 1, 2019

Remain Humble

“But as for your [Saul’s] donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not be anxious about them, for they have been found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on you and on all your father’s house?” And Saul answered and said, “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?”

1 Samuel 9:20-21

The prophet Samuel spoke a word of knowledge to Saul; he knew the donkeys that were lost for three days had been found. He also spoke to Saul about his anointing; he was chosen to be Israel’s king. However, Saul really did not understand what the prophet was saying to him.

Saul responded, “Who am I? As a Benjamite, we have no line of kingship” His lineage was from the smallest tribe of Israel––Benjamin. The men from the tribe of Benjamin were courageous. In fact, did you know the Apostle Paul came from the tribe of Benjamin? Notice, Saul, in the beginning, seemed like he was going to be a humble king, but later in his life, his pride would noticeably come to the surface.

I have noticed, when some people enter into the ministry, they begin with a humble attitude. They even have a similar response as Saul, “I do not deserve this potion; who am I?” In fact, as they serve the Lord, they are willing to do anything. Then pride begins to surface. They feel they are better than anyone else. Instead of serving others, they like to be served.

Understand, pride, money and sensual sin will disqualify a person from ministry. When you begin a life in ministry, it is important to understand that you not only have to start well, but finish well.

Pride thrust proud Nebuchadnezzar out of men's society, proud Saul out of his kingdom, proud Adam out of paradise, proud Haman out of the court and proud Lucifer out of heaven.
~Thomas Adams~

THURSDAY January 31, 2019

The Desires of Your Heart

So when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said to him, “There he is, the man of whom I spoke to you. This one shall reign over My people.” Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, “Please tell me, where is the seer’s house?” Samuel answered Saul and said, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for you shall eat with me today; and tomorrow I will let you go and will tell you all that is in your heart.”

1 Samuel 9:17-19

The next day, Saul drew near to the gates of the city, the main place where the judges came to make judgments. As soon as Samuel saw Saul, God identified him. He completely pinpointed Saul out to Samuel because they had never met. Saul was the one Samuel was to anoint as Israel’s king. God is not the author of confusion—everything He does is perfect––complete––it just flows. Everything that was happening was going according to His perfect plans.

When Saul and his servant arrived, the first person Saul met was Samuel. The prophet Samuel invited Saul to eat; afterwards, he would tell Saul all that was in his heart. Saul could not understand why the prophet was treating him so nicely. Samuel, as a leader, was in tune with God’s voice and knew what was on Saul’s heart.

Notice, like God knew what was in Saul’s heart; He knows whatever concerns or desires you may have in your heart. God already knows all that is in your heart. He can also speak to other people about your needs. He will lay them on their heart. They will become sensitive to your concerns, desires or needs. Those who have a close relationship with the Lord will know when you need prayer and minister to you.

Our duty is found in the revealed will of God in the Scriptures. Our trust must be in the sovereign will of God, as he works in the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives for our good and for his glory.
~Jerry Bridges~

WEDNESDAY January 30, 2019

Spiritual Perception

So they went up to the city. As they were coming into the city, there was Samuel, coming out toward them on his way up to the high place. Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear the day before Saul came, saying, “Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to Me.”

1 Samuel 9:14-16

Notice how the prophet Samuel was a real spiritual leader; he had spiritual perception. Samuel knew how to wait and listen for the voice of the Lord. God had given Samuel a word of knowledge. He had prepared his heart and told him exactly what to do. The Lord pinpointed the time when Saul would come to the city. Samuel knew ahead of time Saul would be chosen as commander, even before he arrived.

The Lord heard the prayers of His people; they were complaining and crying out to God for a king. God gave instructions to Samuel. He was to anoint Saul as the commander over His people––king. Saul would be used of God to save His people from their enemies––the Philistines.

The anointing oil Samuel used spoke of Saul’s consecration of life. Saul was separated to the call of God. The Lord’s anointing on Saul’s life would help him accomplish God’s will as king. Samuel and Saul were two different leaders. Samuel as a prophet did exactly what God told him to do; he was obedient, whereas Saul, when he became king, would be full of excuses––disobedient.

The reason we get into so much trouble in our lives is because we do not have an ear of spiritual perception. We are not receiving or following instructions from God as we should. Some people may excuse themselves by thinking, Well, this is an example from the Old Testament––no––no––no––the entire Bible is the Word of God to adhere to.

To be entirely safe from the devil’s snares, the child of God must be completely obedient to the Word of the Lord. The driver on the highway is safe, not only when he reads the signs, but when he obeys them.
~A. W. Tozer~

TUESDAY January 29, 2019

The High Places

And they answered them [Saul and his servant] and said, “Yes, there he is, just ahead of you. Hurry now; for today he [the seer] came to this city, because there is a sacrifice of the people today on the high place. As soon as you come into the city, you will surely find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat. Now therefore, go up, for about this time you will find him.”

1 Samuel 9:12-13

All the way through the Old Testament, you will hear the term, high places. There is a distinction between the high places that the pagans worshiped on and where God’s people worshiped the Lord. Often God’s people could not go to Jerusalem or Shiloh, which were the main places of worship. So they would bring their sacrifices to an elevated place to worship, usually located on a hill.

Notice, the prophet Samuel blessed the sacrifice. This was the first time in the Bible that we see someone giving a blessing for food. Thanksgiving was yet another form of worship. Our tradition of praying and giving thanks for our food started from this chapter and verse.

Calvary Chapel Golden Springs is a place built for people to come and worship the Lord. How do we worship God? Many people would answer by our singing: Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful (Psalm 147:1). Yet worship is not only singing––it is in giving of our thanks: I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart (Psalm 9:1 NIV). Our offerings are also an act of worship: I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you… (Psalm 54:6 NIV).

Understand, worship is presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1-2).

We are saved to worship God. All that Christ has done in the past and all that He is doing now leads to this one end.
~A. W. Tozer~

MONDAY January 28, 2019

Searching for the Seer

Then Saul said to his servant, “Well said; come, let us go.” So they went to the city where the man of God was. As they went up the hill to the city, they met some young women going out to draw water, and said to them, “Is the seer here?”

1 Samuel 9:10-11

As Saul and his servant went towards the city to search for the seer, God, without them realizing it, was working behind the scenes, directing their steps. They met some young maidens who had come to draw water. Saul was so tall and handsome, and the women detained them for some time, engaging in a long conversation, explaining in detail where they could find the seer (1 Samuel 9:12-13).

As you search the Scriptures, you will find out God’s will for your life. Understand, the Bible is the voice of God. As you follow God’s voice; He guides your steps, sometimes without you realizing it. When you have met a person, have you ever been aware of His plan unfolding before you? Did you suddenly realize He guided you to the right person to speak to, at the right place, and at the perfect time? Understand, there are no coincidences with God.

King David wrote Psalm 23. We can see God’s presence and His guidance throughout the different seasons of his life. Think on these verses; what season of life is God guiding you through? What comfort have you found in His presence?

The LORD is my shepherd… He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me… Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

For this is our God, our God forever and ever, He will be our
guide even to death.
~Psalm 48:14~

SUNDAY January 27, 2019

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.”

Psalm 122:6

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This commemoration marks the day when Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration camp, was finally liberated on January 27, 1945. Auschwitz was a prison camp, an extermination camp, and a slave labor camp. During the war, the German Nazis conducted the systematic killing of 6 million Jews––a terrible genocide that must not be forgotten. A sign at Dachau Concentration Camp reads, “Never Again.”

I am sure many people would rather forget the shocking pictures of starving men, women and children, who were shaven and stripped bare before death––let alone the gas chambers and mass graves of the dead and dying. It is too hard for the mind to conceive––unthinkable. Understand, humanity without God is utterly wicked––debase. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Man without God can commit such inhuman atrocities!

Yet God’s love is greater than hate. Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsie knew this truth. The family hid about 800 persecuted Jews and other refugees. The family was later arrested for their actions. Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsie were sent to the notorious Ravensbruck concentration camp–near Berlin––where Betsie died.

The Jews are God’s chosen people: For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 14:2). Through the bless nation of Israel, all the other nations of the world are blessed (Genesis 12:2). Through them the Messiah would come. God will bless those who bless Israel (Genesis 12:3). It is important to pray for Israel and the peace of Jerusalem.

“There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still.”
~Corrie Ten Boom~

SATURDAY January 26, 2019

God’s Prophets

Then Saul said to his servant, “But look, if we go, what shall we bring the man? For the bread in our vessels is all gone, and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What do we have?” And the servant answered Saul again and said, “Look, I have here at hand one-fourth of a shekel of silver. I will give that to the man of God, to tell us our way.” (Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: “Come, let us go to the seer”; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.)

1 Samuel 9:7-9

Saul’s servant had suggested they go and speak to the man of God about the lost donkeys. He knew that whatever the seer spoke came to pass. It was customary to give food, water or something else of value to the seer for his help. Saul and his servant discussed what kind of gift they could bring to the man of God. The servant had one-fourth of a shekel of silver. The amount may have only been worth pennies today, but silver in the days of Samuel was rare.

Notice the short commentary added for our understanding. A prophet was known as a seer (1 Samuel 9:9) and had spiritual perception––the Lord spoke to them: “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream” (Numbers 12:6). However, every word predicted would have to come to pass for anyone to be a prophet from the Lord (Jeremiah 28:9).

Isaiah was a prophet who lived about 700 years before the birth of Christ, and yet he prophesied in Isaiah 7:14, about the coming Messiah: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” In Luke 1:30-33, the prophecy was fulfilled––incredible.

Prophecy is not given to make men prophets, but as a witness
to God when it is fulfilled.
~Issac Newton~

FRIDAY January 25, 2019

The Man of God

When they had come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, let us return, lest my father cease caring about the donkeys and become worried about us.” And he said to him, “Look now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honorable man; all that he says surely comes to pass. So let us go there; perhaps he can show us the way that we should go.”

1 Samuel 9:5-6

Saul, with his servant, went to seek his father’s lost donkeys. After a period of time, Saul thought to go back home in case his father became worried, but his servant suggested that they should go see the Prophet Samuel; surely this man of God could help them. A prophet had the spiritual ability to hear from God.

There are no prophets today like those in the Bible, but there are those who proclaim God’s Word like the prophets did. In the pulpits across America and the world, there are men of God who are called to preach the Gospel and teach the body of Christ how to grow in the Lord as Christians. They teach them the Word of God.

Understand, pastors are like faithful shepherds who watch over their sheep. In the Book of Jeremiah, God told His people: “…I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15). Peter denied Jesus when He was arrested and crucified, but after Christ’s Resurrection, the Lord restored Peter’s life. He called him into the ministry as a shepherd. Jesus said to Peter: “Feed My sheep” (John 21:17).

How does Jesus see people? …like sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36). Jesus is called the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls (1 Peter 2:25). King David declared: The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want (Psalm 23:1). Is Jesus Christ the Shepherd of your soul?

For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.
~Psalm 95:7~

THURSDAY January 24, 2019

God Can Use Donkeys

Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. And Kish said to his son Saul, “Please take one of the servants with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.” So he passed through the mountains of Ephraim and through the land of Shalisha, but they did not find them. Then they passed through the land of Shaalim, and they were not there. Then he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they did not find them.

1 Samuel 9:3-4

Saul’s father Kish lost some of his donkeys. Kish sent his son Saul, with his servant, to look for the donkeys. Who do you think was creating the problem of the lost donkeys? The Lord was creating the entire situation. God allowed them to get lost. Israel had asked for a king, so God began to work through the circumstances so their request would be fulfilled through the election of Saul.

God wanted to speak with Saul, so behind the scenes, He was arranging the incidents so Saul’s path would eventually lead him to Samuel. During this time, God had already spoken to Samuel; he already knew about Saul and his servant searching for Kish’s donkeys. He led them to Samuel in hope of getting knowledge of the whereabouts of the donkeys. However, through the prophet Samuel, Saul would be elected king; otherwise, how was this going to happen? Imagine, God used the circumstances to draw Saul to Himself––to elect him and anoint him to be king.

Do you understand that by creating a difficult circumstance, God often is drawing you to Himself? Think about that. God used donkeys to get Saul to where he needed to be. What is God using to get your attention and draw you to Himself?

Regardless of how God draws us near, our response should be this: Lord, I am here; speak to me and show me what you want to teach me.
~Charles Stanley~

WEDNESDAY January 23, 2019

The Man of Choice

There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power. And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.

1 Samuel 9:1-2

In 1 Samuel 9, a king was chosen for Israel. God allowed it, but this choice came from a request made by men. God reinforced their decision by giving them what they wanted. The man of choice was Saul. Notice in the Hebrew language the meaning of the names in Saul’s linage: his father’s name was Kish, meaning “bent as in bending a bow or laying a snare.” Abiel means “God is my Father,” Zeror means “a bundle,” Bechorath means “the firstling, first fruits or first-born,” and Aphiah means “I will make to breathe or perhaps helpless or breeze.”

Notice, some of the meanings of these names found in Saul’s family line reflect pride and self-glorification. Remember, Saul was the choice of the people––not of God. From the meaning of these names, you get a good idea of what kind of man Saul was going to be. In the Hebrew culture, your name identified a relevant situation that happened, or it would reflect the person’s character.

Saul was a Benjamite. He came from one of the smallest tribes in Israel, but he was a mighty man of power. The word power does not speak of his strength, but of the wealth he possessed. Saul’s name means “asked.” By the time he was elected king, he was about thirty-three years old. He was good looking, in his prime, tall, strong and healthy, but God looks at the heart.

God doesn’t look at outward appearances when he recruits men for His purposes – education, wealth, connections. No, the Lord looks in favor on the man who is humble in spirit, and who trembles at His Word.
~D.L. Moody~

TUESDAY January 22, 2019

Consider What You Ask God For?

And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the hearing of the LORD. So the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed their voice, and make them a king.” And Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Every man go to his city.”

1 Samuel 8:21-22

The people of Israel rejected God as their King and were determined to have a king like the other nations. At this point, the decision was made. God told Samuel to give them a king. He had warned Israel and given them the opportunity to repent, but they refused to listen. Now Israel would get their king, and they would suffer the tremendous consequences.

In Israel’s past, in the wilderness, there was another situation where they made a request to God. The mixed multitude complained about the manna––bread from heaven––and they were not satisfied with God’s divine provision. They wanted to satisfy their lust for meat. In Numbers 11:18-20, Moses told them:

“…you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the LORD, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt.” Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the LORD who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?”

Do you ever consider what you ask God for? Sometimes what you ask for is not good for you. Even when God gives you the answer of no, you sometimes persist in your request and do not heed what God is trying to warn you about. Seriously, you need to hear the voice of God. What you are asking for could become a snare to your life. After careful consideration, perhaps you can let go of your request and be satisfied with His answer––no!

He gave them [Israel] their request, but sent leanness into their soul.
~Psalm 106:15~

MONDAY January 21, 2019

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.

Hebrew 12:14

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an American Federal Holiday marking his birthday. The holiday takes place every third Monday in January, which is near King’s actual birthday on January 15.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a strong message––one of peace and racial justice. He spoke simply, clearly and powerfully so people could understand the seriousness of the message he proclaimed. There must be no room in the human race for racism. King reasoned with people, hoping to reach the human heart. He likened man’s hateful actions to darkness and man’s loving actions to light:

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

As a minister and civil rights activist, because of the many injustices people endured, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marched in peaceful protests. King is well known for his moving speech, “I Have a Dream.” Tragically, he was assassinated April 4, 1968. His life and legacy continues to inspire others. In fact, his message was far from silenced, for it is still carried on by others today.

Peace if possible, truth at all costs.
~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.~

SUNDAY January 20, 2019

Stubbornness

Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

1 Samuel 8:19-20

Israel still demanded a king even though God warned them about his faults and flaws. They continued to be so stubborn. They still had a chance to repent. Instead of repenting, the people willfully rejected the counsel of God given through His faithful prophet Samuel.

Notice, just like the other nations, they wanted an earthly king to go fight their battles. Israel looked at the model of the world and desired to be just like them. Sadly, God’s people had decided to model their lives after the heathen way of life. What happened to God? What happened to the King of kings?

Do you find yourself having the same attitude as Israel––stubborn? Maybe you have rejected godly counsel, thinking, I do not care what I have been told by my leaders. I will show them. You go ahead and willfully sin. This is nothing more than stubbornness in your life. In rebellion, you want to do things your way. Yet have you stopped to consider the consequences you will pay for your rebellious actions?

Christians cannot model their lives after people in the world. We must not become like them. A Christian should desire to become more like Christ! We cannot fight our battles on our own. It does not work like that. Christ is the One who fights our battles. Honestly, I cannot fight my battles without Jesus. God fights my battles; believe me, I need God to fight my battles.

When you fight alone, you stand alone. When you let Jesus fight your battles, you have the host of God’s angel army behind you.
~Billy Graham~

SATURDAY January 19, 2019

Turning a Deaf Ear

“And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day.”

1 Samuel 8:18

The children of Israel asked to be governed by a king like the other nations around them––an earthly king––not God. The Lord, knowing the future, described to Israel what their king would be like. King Saul would use the people to build his own kingdom and seek his own glory.

During Saul’s reign, he would have no real peace. He would disobey God and, in his rebellion, lose the kingdom. God would not put up with his rebellious behavior. In the end, the Spirit of God would depart from Saul, and an evil spirit would harass him. Saul’s life would not have a good end.

When Israel finally got what they wanted––a king, Samuel told them they would cry out to God, and He would not hear them. Under Saul’s reign, they would suffer. God basically told Israel, “I came to you, but you rejected Me as your King. Now you have to suffer the consequences. When you cry, I am not going to hear you.” Do you think through Samuel’s announcement they still had a chance to repent? I believe that they did––but they refused.

How sad it is when God turns a deaf ear to your cries! Of course He hears you, but He will not answer until you repent (Isaiah 59:2). God has turned you over to your own desires. It could be that after getting what you wanted, you are now stuck in a snare. Then you come to understand that the thing you wanted the most has brought utter defeat in your life.

There are so many lessons to learn from the Bible. It is important to learn the lessons God is trying to teach you.

Is God in very deed your God? For if He be, He will rule your soul; He will dominate your whole spirit, and sway His scepter over your whole heart.
~C.H. Surgeon~

FRIDAY January 18, 2019

False Humility

So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots.”

1 Samuel 8:10-11

God allowed a man named Saul to be king. As a man called to lead God’s people, he had the choice to do what was right or wrong. Sadly, he would become a weak king and a weak leader.

When God called Saul, from the very beginning he was so humble. Yet

I believe, he had a false humility, and God saw right through it. When Saul was to be anointed king, the leaders of Israel could not even find him––this showed his weakness, not his strength (1 Samuel 10:17-25). Saul did not like to confront situations, and he always justified his actions. He was full of excuses.

Saul was going to use the people of Israel. He would take their sons and daughters for himself and make them work. The finest men would be assigned to be in his army. The daughters would become perfumers, cooks and bakers––sad (I Samuel 8:12-17). What does that show us? Saul was a self-made man. He did not genuinely love the people––he would use the people to build his own kingdom, for his own glory.

As a leader, you can become a Saul, which is man’s choice, or you can become a David––a man after God’s own heart––God’s choice. It is up to you. Through false humility, you can become a Saul. Honestly, if you have to avoid confrontations, you are weak. You have to be able to speak straight and truthfully before God and man. When you are in the wrong, you must be humble before the Lord and be able to repent.

There is nothing more awful than conscious humility; it is the most satanic type of pride.
~Oswald Chambers~

THURSDAY January 17, 2019

Be Forewarned

“According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”

1 Samuel 8:8-9

Before God honored His people’s request for a king, the Lord reminded them of their history when He brought them out of Egypt. They still wanted to serve other gods and remain in bondage––they forsook Him. Even until this present time, they did not want the true and living God.

God saw in His people the same rebellious spirit.

Now God would give His people what they wanted––a king. He forewarned them of this earthly king’s behavior in his rule over them. Seriously, they would live to regret their request for a king, because his reign would be harsh.

Many people decide to do things their own way––sad, but true. Spiritually speaking, those who reject God’s rule over their lives will find themselves spending a long time in the wilderness. They reap the consequences. There are leaders like that. They also want to do things their way. It is heartbreaking when men reject God’s reign over them.

Understand, most men will try to please you. They will tell you what you want to hear, and you will like their counsel. Man tends to pat us on the back, but God sees when we need to be rebuked. That is why it is important to have God rule and reign over our lives. God will always tell you the way it is. Like it or not, He speaks truth to you for your own benefit.

“There is no broader way to apostasy than to reject God’s sovereignty in all things concerning the revelation of Himself and our obedience...”
~John Owen~

WEDNESDAY January 16, 2019

How to Handle Rejection

But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”

1 Samuel 8:6-7

God’s people asked Samuel for a king to rule over them. Instead of a theocracy, they chose to have a monarchy. God wanted to reign over them, but the people wanted a king. They would rather be in bondage than to be free––sad. This was not the perfect will of God. The people had taken the permissive will of God, and not His perfect will.

Samuel took the people’s rejection personally and became completely offended. He prayed to the Lord and took his complaint to God, who gave him the true reason for their ungodly behavior. The people had not rejected Samuel; they had rejected God. Notice, Samuel did not go to anyone else with his problem; he sought the Lord. God gave him the answer and corrected Samuel’s focus.

When people reject us, we become offended––that is our human nature––but too often we find another person to talk to. That is how gossip begins and how people can become divided. When we are offended, we must not infect the ears of other people. Instead, follow Samuel’s example and take the situation to the Lord. Seek Him in prayer, and He will give you a new perspective on the situation.

Sometimes we forget our God is the King of kings. Many times people are not rejecting you––they are rejecting Christ. They do not want Him to rule over their lives.

The only sin God cannot forgive is the sin of rejecting Christ––turn to Him in repentance and faith––and He will forgive.
~Billy Graham~

TUESDAY January 15, 2019

Make Us a King

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”

1 Samuel 8:4-5

Can you believe this? Because of the bad testimony of Samuel’s sons, the elders began to complain. They could not see how this corrupt leadership could continue. So instead of looking to God, they looked to the example of the heathen nations who were ruled by a king. This was so tragic. God wanted to reign over them, but they no longer wanted God to rule over them––they wanted a king!

God desires to rule over people’s lives and bless them, but if people see a lack of spiritual leadership in the church, they will go elsewhere. Jesus Christ needs to be seen, not only in the leadership, but in any believer’s life, otherwise they will go back into the world. We have to be concerned with people’s spiritual needs and help them to grow in Christ.

The church needs leaders who are spiritual––those who can lead people to trust in God. A person in a leadership position must have biblical answers for the people. They must give them the hope in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to be men and women of the Word (2 Timothy 2:15). Those called to preach in the pulpit must preach Christ! That is the priority. People need to be saved!

…our current popular version of Christianity––comfortable, humorous, superficial, entertaining, worldly-wise is exposed (by the lack of power to transform lives) … No man has any business walking into a pulpit to entertain. He is there [instead] to present Calvary in all its fullness of hope and glory.
~A.W. Tozer~

MONDAY January 14, 2019

Succession in Leadership

Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.

1 Samuel 8:1-3

God called Samuel and anointed him to be a judge in Israel. However, this position should not have been passed down to his children. Why? Samuel’s children were not walking with God––they were corrupt. Their selfishness and greed led them to take bribes and pervert justice. Those called to lead cannot be carnal, but spiritual.

God calls many godly people into the ministry, but that does not mean a succession of leadership will continue through their children. Understand, a position in leadership is not transmitted. Neither should you pass on a leadership position by suddenly laying hands on people (1Timothy 5:22). Church leadership should be carefully chosen (Acts 6:3). In fact, some people serving in a church should not hold leadership positions. They do not have a genuine call of God on their lives.

A person with a true call of God in the ministry assists the Senior Pastor. The dictionary definition of an assistant is: “a person who assists or gives aid or support; a helper.” A leader in the church needs to be a model of true servanthood. They are called to care for the body of Jesus Christ.

If you are called into the ministry, understand you must count the cost. It will require long hours as you assist the pastor and serve the people. Ministry is a call of God; it burns deeply in your heart.

There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do the little things.
~D.L Moody~

SUNDAY January 13, 2019

A Circuit Preacher

And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. He went from year to year on a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, and judged Israel in all those places. But he always returned to Ramah, for his home was there. There he judged Israel, and there he built an altar to the LORD.

1 Samuel 7:15-17

Samuel, as a judge, was a good and faithful leader. He was a servant to God’s people. Samuel, year after year, consistently ministered to God’s people. He was a circuit preacher, traveling from city to city, and finally returning to his home town in Ramah. Notice how beautiful Samuel’s relationship was with the Lord. In his home he built an altar and worshiped the Lord. Samuel had a close relationship with his God, and the Lord blessed him.

How we need to follow Samuel’s example in his faithful commitment to serve the Lord. When you dedicate your life to the serve the Lord, He will bless your life. As Christians, God has placed a call on our lives––for all of our days. It is good to have a special place of worship in your home where you have intimate fellowship with God.

Serving God takes personal sacrifice, especially as we take time to minister to other people. In helping us to understand the cost of discipleship, Alan Redpath wrote:

We are prepared to serve the Lord only by sacrifice. We are fit for the work of God only when we have wept over it, prayed about it, and then we are enabled by Him to tackle the job that needs to be done. May God give to us hearts that bleed, eyes that are wide open to see, minds that are clear to interpret God’s purposes, wills that are obedient, and a determination that is utterly unflinching as we set about the tasks He would have us do.

Are you sincerely concerned for people in the world? Are you ready to count the cost of serving the Lord Jesus Christ in reaching them?

A living God needs to be served in a living way.
~C.H. Spurgeon~

SATURDAY January 12, 2019

Restoration

So the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore into the territory of Israel. And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. Then the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered its territory from the hands of the Philistines. Also there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.

1 Samuel 7:13-14

Notice, after Israel’s great victory against the Philistines, the Lord restored to them the cities previously taken by their enemies. Then God gave them peace––peace all around. There was no more war.

God is in the business of restoration. When a person has suffered defeat after defeat and returns to the Lord in true repentance, He begins the process of restoration. David needed to be restored after his sin of adultery and murder, and, in repentance, prayed: Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit (Psalm 51:12).

In your life, are you in desperate need of restoration? If you are backslidden, in sin, and living a life of carnality, begin with repentance and allow God to start a whole new work in your life. God will restore your joy, your strength, and give you peace––peace all around. You will not be at war with God, or yourself:

For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God… (Romans 8:6-7).

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace… (Galatians 5:22).

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast (1 Peter 5:10 NIV).

What verse relates to your circumstances? How will it help in your restoration?

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…”
~Joel 2:25~

FRIDAY January 11, 2019

The LORD Has Helped Us

And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”

1 Samuel 7:11-12

Although afraid, Israel had relied on the Lord in their battle against the Philistines. The people’s hearts were right before their God, and He listened to Samuel’s prayer of intercession. The Lord defeated their enemies. Samuel set up a stone memorial in remembrance of the Lord’s deliverance and called its name Ebenezer, “The Stone of Help,” because God gave Israel a great victory.

In our earthly battles, when we rely on the Lord, great victories will come. Problems only happen when we stop relying on the Lord and start trusting in other people. Seriously, if we forget to rely on the Lord and fail to seek Him, then we are going to experience defeat. So we must place our confidence and trust in Him.

Have you ever read the beginning verses of Psalm 121? Some scholars believe it to be the “Soldier’s Psalm, or the Traveler’s Psalm.” A soldier faces peril at war, and a traveler on a road leading upwards to the city of Jerusalem can encounter danger. They must confidently rely on God’s help:

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep (Psalm 121:1-4).

In life’s difficulties, where does your help come from?

Our help is in the name of the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

~Psalm 124:8~

THURSDAY January 10, 2019

The Enemy Confused and Overcome

Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the LORD thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel.

1 Samuel 7:10

Remember, Israel was defeated before their enemies in a previous battle. Yet the moment they got right with God, He listened to Samuel who was interceding for the people. When they faced the enemy this time, it would be a different situation. Israel was anointed by God’s Spirit, and they were powerful because He was in their midst. The Lord was going to help Israel and give them the victory.

God had seen Israel’s heart of repentance and moved to give them deliverance. Notice, as the Lord thundered upon the Philistines, He confused them, and they were easily overcome. The Philistines were defeated. Who fought and won the battle for Israel? The LORD! He expanded Israel’s borders by restoring their territory from the hands of their enemies (1 Samuel 7:14).

In the same way, God will work in our lives. The moment we repent of our sins and cry out to the Lord, He listens. The Lord will fight our battles. God will begin to bless us and expand our borders. He will give us victory instead of defeat. Our confidence, trust and faith should remain in our God. What do we have to worry about if our lives are right with God? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

When God foresees that we must meet a deadly opponent, he assures our victory by bringing us down in humbleness at His own feet. After that, everything is easy. We have put ourselves in a position where God can fight for us, and in a situation like that, the outcome
is decided from eternity.
~A.W. Tozer~

WEDNESDAY January 9, 2019

The Ministry of Intercession

And Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. Then Samuel cried out to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD answered him.

1 Samuel 7:9

Israel had repented of their sins. They came to Samuel and earnestly asked him to pray for them. They were afraid of another defeat––the Philistines were arrayed for battle against them. Samuel once again offered a sacrifice of consecration. Notice, the Lord heard and listened to Samuel’s intercession for the people. The Lord would fight for them.

Understand, God hears the prayers of godly men and women who intercede on behalf of others, and He answers them. Abraham interceded for the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. He said to the Lord: “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord” (Genesis 18:27). Judgment fell on these cities, but the lives of his nephew Lot and his daughters were saved (Genesis 19).

If you want to be used by the Lord to intercede for others, keep away from sin. Sin hinders our prayers; it places a barrier between us and God, and He will not answer us:

Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear (Isaiah 59:1-2).

To have a ministry of intercession, our lives must remain consecrated to God. Many people remain separate from God because of their sins. They are bound to go into eternity without God. When was the last time you stood in the gap to intercede for them?

We must begin to believe that God, in the mystery of prayer, has entrusted us with a force that can move the heavenly world and can bring its power down to earth.
~Andrew Murray~

TUESDAY January 8, 2019

Going Forward

Now when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel had gathered together at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines. So the children of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the LORD our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines.”

1 Samuel 7:7-8

Israel realized their need for God and repented. Then the people asked Samuel to intercede for them and to not stop praying for them! They needed God’s help to be saved from their enemies. Even though they had repented and consecrated their lives before the Lord, they were still greatly afraid of the Philistines.

Think about your personal life. Are there any areas of hidden sin that are hindering your fellowship with God? It could be sin has caused spiritual defeat in your life. Have you sunk into a deep depression because of the consequences of your sin? Seriously, sin affects your life.

Like Israel, do you now realize your need for God? Then call out to Him in repentance. God wants consecration––the sanctification of your life. God can take care of your sin if you repent. He wants to act on your behalf––to move you forward. C. H. Spurgeon preached a sermon entitled, “Forward.” He challenged the people in the congregation:

“Forward is your only way; you are shut up to it. You have no armor for your backs; and whatever dangers lie in front, there are ten thousand times as many behind. It is onward or nothing; nay, onward or dishonor; onward or death.”

Be honest about your life. Are you going forward in your walk with God or backwards?

You must go forward in personal attainments, growing in gifts and in grace, in fitness for the work of God, and conformity
to the image of Jesus.

~C. H. Spurgeon~

MONDAY January 7, 2019

Spiritual Revival

And Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the LORD for you.” So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the LORD. And they fasted that day, and said there, “We have sinned against the LORD.” And Samuel judged the children of Israel at Mizpah.

1 Samuel 7:5-6

Israel had fully repented of their idolatry and committed themselves only to God. They had begun to align themselves completely with God’s purposes and His will. Samuel recognized a change of heart among the people and prayed to God for them. He became an intercessor for the people.

At Mizpah, when the people poured water out of a basin before the Lord, it spoke symbolically of their consecration to God. The people had taken a step of faith. They fasted, denying their flesh, and humbled themselves before the Lord. God looked within their hearts and saw their confession and true repentance. Israel had finally accomplished what God required of them. He could now act on behalf of His people. But listen! It took twenty years for them to come to this point!

God could give Israel the victory over their enemies. Notice, when there was real repentance among the people, there was real spiritual revival in Israel. It is the same with us. When there is real repentance in our lives, there will be real spiritual revival. That is the only way God can work in our lives. Spiritual renewal comes through the confession of our sins, which, in turn, brings true spiritual revival in our lives.

Are you in need of a personal revival?

A revival does two things. First, it returns the Church from her backsliding; and second, it causes the conversion of men and women; and it always includes the conviction of sin on the part of the Church. What a spell the devil seems to cast over the Church today!
~Billy Sunday~

SUNDAY January 6, 2019

Return to the LORD

Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.

1 Samuel 7:3-4

The Ark of the Covenant, which represents God’s presence, remained in Kirjath Jearim for twenty years, and still the people of Israel had not repented of their idolatry. Samuel, who had grown up in the tabernacle, became a judge in Israel. He spoke to the people about true repentance. God wanted His people to return to Him with all their hearts; only then would His deliverance come.

Samuel, as a spiritual leader, told Israel to put away the foreign gods from among them––the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of fertility. They must prepare their hearts before the Lord and serve Him only. The people responded to Samuel’s words, and the entire nation repented.

Today, anything you have placed before God that has first priority in your life is an idol. It can be social media, your car, your house, your wife or husband, even your children. God expects us to repent of any idolatry. He desires that we daily prepare our hearts before Him. He wants to be first in our lives. We need to serve the LORD with our whole hearts.

As Christians, do we really listen and respond to God’s Word taught by a spiritual leader––a pastor? Honestly, many people need to come to the place of repentance, repentance, repentance. I cannot say it enough times––there has to be true repentance. This must be the humble condition of our lives before God’s deliverance can come.

Another proof of the conquest of a soul for Christ will be found in a real change of life. If the man does not live differently from what he did before, both at home and abroad, his repentance needs repented of, and his conversion is a fiction.
~C H Spurgeon~

SATURDAY January 5, 2019

Lamenting After the LORD

Then the men of Kirjath Jearim came and took the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD. So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.

1 Samuel 7:1-2

God was displeased with Israel because of their sin of idolatry. When Israel faced the Philistines in battle, instead of repenting and asking the Lord for His help, they used the Ark of the Covenant as a good luck charm. The Ark of God represented the Lord’s presence among His people, but God was not pleased with Israel. They not only lost the battle against the Philistines, but the Ark of the Covenant was taken and remained in the hand of the enemy for seven months (1 Samuel 4-5).

During that time, God struck the Philistines with tumors. They attempted to move the Ark of God to other Philistine cities, but they also suffered great destruction. Rats plagued the land, and many people died. Those who remained continued to suffer from tumors. In the end, the Philistines sought to return the Ark of God to Israel (1 Samuel 5-6:1-12).

The people from Beth Shemesh received the Ark of God with rejoicing. In excitement, some of the men removed the lid and looked inside. They had forgotten to respect the holiness of God. The Lord struck dead 5,070 men from among the people. So a decision was made to send for the priests in Kirjath Jearim, because they knew how to handle the Ark of God correctly. It remained there––twenty years! Israel lamented after the Lord; they had missed out on the blessings of God (1 Samuel 6:13-19).

Think about people who have missed out on the blessings of God because of their sin. Could it be they have forgotten to respect God’s holiness? In His love, God has to chasten them so they can be restored.

Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
~James 4:9-10~

FRIDAY January 4, 2019

Our Vision

Where there is no vision, the people perish…

Proverbs 29:18KJV

In the Book of Proverbs, King Solomon wrote, where there is no vision, the people perish…Think about how many businesses and churches have been successful. The Lord has blessed the people that are employed by them. However, years later, what has happened to these places? If the people leading the businesses or churches no longer keep on with the vision they first had and lose their passion, then they will fail to continue to be prosperous.

Understand that people can eventually lose their vision and passion. As a kid in high school, I can remember driving around and seeing churches packed out with so many people. Returning about thirty years later, I found that there was nobody left in these churches. They are now just empty buildings. Something happened! I believe with all my heart the leaders lost their vision and passion that they once had.

It is important to understand that once we begin to lose our passion and vision for what God has called us to do, then it is the end of our ministry or corporation. It could be the end of our lives. As I look to the end of my life, I want to make sure I finish well––completing all the things God has called me to do. God is so faithful. I look over all the years of ministry and thank Him for all He has done. He has kept all His promises.

We all have to have a vision and a passion to fulfill what God has given to us. We need to move forward continually––all the time. What kind of a vision do you have for 2019?

God help us. We've got to have a vision for the Lord's work and for the accomplishing of the Lord's work. People that are without a vision perish.
~Chuck Smith~

THURSDAY January 3, 2019

Be Ready

“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Matthew 24:44

Basically, being ready for Christ’s return is having Him be Lord of your life. Yet, spiritually speaking, a lot of people are sleeping. In Luke 21:36, we are exhorted to watch and pray. There is so much in God’s Word that has already come to pass. We must continue to study God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation.

People ask a lot of questions about the events predicted in the Bible. The key to the seven last years of history is the Rapture of the Church. The Scriptures tell us that there will be a generation that will never die: …in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15:52). People will be disappearing; they will go to heaven. Imagine the chaos on earth!

Every time I go to Israel, I sit on the Mount of Olives and think about Christ’s return. The Bible tells us that when Jesus returns, He will step on the Mount of Olives, and the Mount will cleave in two, releasing a stream of water that will flow backwards into the Dead Sea. Nothing has lived in the Dead Sea––the water is too salty––but when Jesus returns, there will be fish! I have never doubted what has been spoken in the Scriptures.

Every day is a New Year for me because I have a relationship with Christ. I am so glad that God has given me another New Year to live. I give God thanks for all He has done in my life. Think about what God has done in your own life, and do not forget to give God thanks.

He that has come once is to come again. He will come a second time. The Lord will come. He will come again, for He has promised to return. We have His own word for it. That is our first reason for expecting Him.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

WEDNESDAY January 2, 2019

God’s Guidance

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.

Psalm 32:8

Do you need God’s guidance as we enter into a brand New Year? Of course! Psalm 32 gives instruction and teaches us so that we can learn from God’s wisdom. I encourage each one of us to start the coming New Year with a clean heart and God’s guidance.

In Psalm 32, we read how King David could not get away from God’s correction. He had committed adultery, lied about it, killed Bathsheba’s husband, and tried to keep all his sins a secret for about a year. God sent the prophet Nathan to David to confront him about his sin and bring conviction. David’s sin would bring terrible consequences within his family.

God loved David and disciplined him as a father would discipline his own son. He did not want him to remain in his sin. God’s hand of discipline was upon David; he could not hide from His presence. David felt the guilt of his sin and the heaviness of God’s discipline, until he acknowledged what he had done before the Lord.

The Lord graciously led David to a place where he would confess his sin and repent. In His kindness, God had led David to repentance. After true repentance, God began to once again speak with David. Fellowship was restored. The Lord would continue to instruct David and guide him.

Have you ever tried to hide from God? Understand that you can never hide from the presence of God. Instead of running from God, get alone with Him and take an examination of your life. If there is any secret sin found within your life, repent, and the Lord will erase your sin. The Lord loves you and wants to restore your life. If you are sincere and truthful, though you may reap to your sin, God‘s mercy will fall upon you.

“…do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God
leads you to repentance?”

~Romans 2:4~

TUESDAY January 1, 2019

New Year’s Day

“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 1:4-5

In the time of the prophet Haggai, a remnant of God’s people had returned to Israel. They were supposed to take care of the house of God, but they got caught up with themselves and with their own homes. They were selfish. God’s people had no place for worship––the temple needed to be rebuilt. What was God’s complaint? They were neglecting their relationship with God and the house of the Lord which was torn down.

What are your priorities this year? The philosophy of the world today is me, myself and I, but God must always be first in our lives. Matthew 6:33 instructs us: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. God must be first––we need to be last. I know we can all get so busy, but we should not waste our time. What responsibilities do we need to take care of and what things should we do?

Today, the house of the Lord is becoming neglected and less of a priority for our worship. Instead, it has become a place of entertainment. Anybody can come to church and live how they want to––in sin. Let’s start this year on the right foot. Understand, this may be your last year on earth. If you think this way, then your priorities will change.

Seriously, we need a renewal of heart and purity of life today. Let us have an ear to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church. May this year be a better year in our worship, in our giving, and in the eternal things we do. May God continue to lead and guide you this New Year as He becomes your number one priority.

As God is exalted to the right place in our lives, a thousand problems
are solved all at once.

~A.W. Tozer~

MONDAY December 31, 2018

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 inquired of the wise men as to the time the star appeared. Then Herod asked them to bring back word to him when they found the Child. Why? Supposedly, he wanted to worship the Child, but he blatantly lied about his motives (Matthew 2:3-8).

Herod had murder in his heart, and worship was a cover for the truth. All he wanted to do was destroy the young Child. God warned the wise men in a dream not to return to Herod, so they returned to their own country another way (Matthew 2:12). Joseph was also warned in a dream to flee. He was to take Jesus and His mother Mary to Egypt (Luke 2:13-15).

As the wise men did not return, Herod, in fury and anger, devised an evil plan to insure the destruction of the young Messiah. He would exterminate the One––named King of the Jews. He had determined the possible age of the Child from the wise men. Then Herod ordered the merciless slaughter of all the male children, aged two years old and under, in Bethlehem and its surrounding districts (Matthew 2:16).

The Bible tells us that man’s heart is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). We live in a world opposed to Christ. Even today, innocent people suffer horrible atrocities. They suffer persecution because of their love and worship of Christ. 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~

SATURDAY December 29, 2018

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. She remained a widow for about eighty-four years. Notice that old age and widowhood never stopped Anna from serving her God. She faithfully served the Lord by fasting and praying in the temple day and night.

Even though Anna was elderly, she remained spiritually alert. As Simeon spoke a prophecy about Christ, Anna entered the temple. Like Simeon, she also recognized the Child Jesus as the Messiah. In that very instant, Anna acknowledged Him and gave thanks to God as she spoke prophetically about Jesus. Anna was well known among the people, and they would have listened to her and paid close attention to what she spoke about Christ. For those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, had come––amazing!

What is redemption? In the Old Testament, the word simply means, “The action of paying ransom for something, or regaining possession by clearing a debt.” The redemptive work of Christ redeems us from the penalty of sin. What is the penalty for our sin? …the wages of sin is death… Yet what redemptive benefit do we receive when we accept Jesus as our Savior? …the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

Are you among those who are looking for redemption?

…but with His [Jesus’] own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
~Hebrews 9:12~

FRIDAY December 28, 2018

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 just––his life was governed by God’s high standard of justice. Therefore in the eyes of the Lord, he was righteous. He was also 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 for the “Consolation of Israel,” a name used for Christ, the long awaited Messiah. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death, until he had seen the Lord’s Christ. We do not know how long he waited, but Simeon was led into the temple by the Holy Spirit, at the perfect time to see the Child Jesus.

When Joseph and Mary brought the Child into the temple to present Him to the Lord according to the law (Luke 2:22-24), Simeon’s, greatest desire was fulfilled. God had kept His promise to Simeon. He saw with his own eyes the Lord’s Christ. Simeon held in his arms the Child, and 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:

“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).

Then Simeon blessed the family, and spoke to Mary about Jesus’ destiny, and foretold of a future event when a sword of sorrow would pierce through to her very soul (Luke 2:34-35). He was speaking of the Cross and the hope of forgiveness it would bring.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God…

~Psalm 42:5~

THURSDAY December 27, 2018

Finding Jesus

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.

The shepherds had found the Babe––Christ the Lord––the Savior. 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 about her Child 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 had heard from the Lord, by the angel, but for who they had seen with their very own eyes (Luke 2:17-20).

Perhaps, this Christmas season, you find yourself melancholy and alone. Your days are monotonous, all you do is work, eat and sleep. You may feel empty and unfulfilled in your field of work. You question, “Is this all there is to life?” But you have yet to discover the significance of finding Jesus, the Babe, wrapped in swaddling cloth, lying in the manger.

This Christmas season could be the time when you find Christ! Then, as He changes your life will change, you too will praise and glorify God for the things you have heard and seen. Your life will be filled with joy, hope and peace.

Apart from the bright hope of the Gospel everything
would be meaningless.
~Poul Madsen~

WEDNESDAY December 26, 2018

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

Outside on this dark, starry night, shepherds faithfully watched over their sheep, when all of a sudden an angel stood before them, and, the glory of the Lord shone around. They became afraid at the sight of the angel, and perhaps they covered their eyes to shield themselves from the intense brightness. The angel spoke to the shepherds and calmed their fears:

“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” (Luke 2:11).

Incredible, God had chosen humble shepherds to hear about the birth of Christ. The angel’s message told the purpose for Christ’s coming. He was to be the Savior of the world––for all people. The angel also told the shepherds where to find the Babe, in the city of David. They only needed seek the Babe, wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger to confirm the angel’s wonderful words (Luke 2:12).

Before they left to find the Christ, suddenly the night sky was filled with a multitude of heavenly host––angels praising God saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14)

The Bible proclaims to every one of us the good tidings of Christ and the purpose for His coming. That is why Christians celebrate Christ’s birth at Christmas time. If you do not know Christ, then like the shepherds you need only search the Scriptures to find out if these things written about Him are true.

… [They Search] the Scriptures daily to find out whether
these things were so.

~Acts 17:11~

TUESDAY December 25, 2018

Christmas Day

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 within the city of Bethlehem were filled with people who had traveled there for the worldwide census. Joseph and Mary looked everywhere for a vacant room to find rest, but every place was full to capacity. Mary was expecting to have her Baby soon. Imagine how tired both of them must have been as they continued to knock on so many doors for a place to stay. Finally, the only place available to them was a humble stable, where animals where kept and fed.

At last, having found a safe place to stay, Mary went into labor, and gave birth to her Son. Imagine, our Savior, the King of kings was born! Then, Mary wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and gently laid Him in a simple manger. Think about this amazing day. How many people in the city of Bethlehem knew that the Savior of the world was born? Hardly any, most people remained oblivious to the wonderful miracle that had taken place.

Sadly, even today, there are so many people who remain unaware of the true meaning of Christmas. Our streets of cities are full people getting gifts for friends and family, but how many of them have stopped to think about God’s greatest gift given to us?

About 2,000 years ago, in the city of David was born a Savior––Christ the Lord. This Christmas take time to contemplate the great meaning of Jesus’ birth, so you can be filled with tremendous joy.

The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets.
~J.I. Packer~

MONDAY December 24, 2018

Journey to Bethlehem

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 scholars believe that this was ordered for the taxation of the people. Joseph left Galilee, with Mary, to travel to Judea, to the city of David––Bethlehem.

Joseph and Mary traveled more than 90 miles over the rough and rugged terrain. Imagine how difficult and harsh this 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). Yet, Joseph and Mary believed what God had clearly spoken to them. They trusted the Lord for the outcome.

The difficult journey to Bethlehem was a part of God’s perfect plan, as this was where Jesus would be born. The prophet Micah, with pin point accuracy, gave a prophecy of His birth:

“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 difficult situations to happen in your life. It is important to stay committed to the Lord and believe His Word. No matter the journey God may have ahead of you, through obedience and submission to His plan, your faith will grow stronger.

Belief is not faith without evidence but commitment without reservation.
~Leighton Ford~

SUNDAY December 23, 2018

Incarnation of Christ

…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 2:5-7

Do you understand what Christ did for us? Think about the Lord Jesus Christ and His humility. He took the form of man and died on the cross for you and me. There is no king, no queen, and no prince who has ever made that ultimate sacrifice.

In Greek, the word translated being means “an unchanging position,” or “being originally.” When Christ came, He took the body of a man; He never gave up His unchanging nature as God. Even though He had a body of flesh, He never lost His deity. He continued to have the nature of God––it was never lost.

Jesus was God incarnate; God in the flesh. He felt our pain, and took upon Himself our sin. Yet, Jesus was sinless; He never sinned. Jesus made Himself of no reputation. In the Greek language the words translated made of no reputation means, “emptied Himself.” When Jesus came as a Servant, He humbled Himself and died in our place because He loved us.

So as Christians, what do we believe?

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man (Nicene Creed).

If we waver on the Incarnation we cease to be Christian.
~C.S. Lewis~

SATURDAY December 22, 2018

Firstborn Over Creation

He 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, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

Colossians 1:15-17

This week we will celebrate Christmas, the birth of Christ. In Him we have redemption, through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7). The word redemption means “to be rescued by ransom.” We do not deserve redemption, but Christ paid for our salvation on the cross. Christians rejoice because they have an eternal hope––heaven.

Who then is Christ? In Colossians 1:15-17, we see the preeminence of Christ. The Greek word for image is “likeness,” and “supreme expression.” Jesus is God. Jesus was not created; He has equal power with God to create, but He is first above all things––which places Him as deity––as God. Firstborn speaks of Jesus’ supremacy and authority over all created things:

The word firstborn is translated from the Greek prototokos. The word portrays two eternal facets of Christ. It declares that He is the Head of Creation. “Firstborn” does not refer to age but to supremacy over all Creation (Henry Gariepy).

Every created thing was made for Jesus Christ and for His glory. Man was made in the image of God to bring Him glory. The universe, including our earth, was made by Him for His glory. Jesus Christ holds everything in the universe together––every planet, every cell, and all atoms. The moment He lets go––everything would fly apart. Christ, who created earth, came to earth, to save those who live on the earth.

To some people Jesus is nothing. To others, He is something. Then there are those to whom Jesus is everything.
~Henry Gariepy~

FRIDAY December 21, 2018

A Rod and Branch

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.

Isaiah 11:1-2

The prophet Isaiah spoke a brand new prophecy. He gave a picture of a tree stump, and all of a sudden a Rod came up from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch from out of its roots. Isaiah proclaimed a prophecy that the Messiah would be born within the lineage of Jesse, who was the father of King David. Jesus Christ came from the bloodline of King David––amazing.

The Branch in Hebrew is Nezar, the root word for Nazareth. Many Bible teachers believe this is a prophetic reference to Jesus growing up in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23). Also mentioned in Isaiah’s prophecy is the seven fold work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus Christ. Christ is wisdom!

In the book of Matthew 1, we have the genealogies of the lineage of Christ. It was very important for the Jews to know their genealogy. Usually they would not have women written in their genealogy, but in the book of Matthew 1, we find four different women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba, which speaks of the grace of God––fully and completely.

Through both Joseph’s and Mary’s lineage came the Messiah. Satan tried to destroy the godly line of Christ. Yet, God told Adam and Eve when they sinned in the Garden of Eden: And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel (Genesis 3:15). This is yet another prophecy about Christ, as a Seed, born of a woman, to triumph over the enemy––Satan.

This is God’s gift of Christmas: the cradle—His Son; the Cross—His life; the crown—His coming kingdom.
~Billy Graham~

THURSDAY December 20, 2018

One to be Ruler in Israel

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Methe One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old,from everlasting.”

Micah 5:2

Understand that when you study prophecy in the Bible there are hundreds of prophecies in the Old Testament. The first time Jesus came, He came as a humble servant. In the second coming, He is coming with all power and judgment to a world that has rejected His love and grace.

Micah prophesied of the coming Messiah. He referenced where Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, would be born, 500 years before it happened in Bethlehem, Judah. How did Micah know that when he did not even live in that time period?

Jacob, on his deathbed, spoke individually to his twelve sons and gave each of them a prophecy. Judah was the son to receive the inheritance, passed down from generation to generation: The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people (Genesis 49:10).

Jacob’s prophesy spoke of the Messiah. Jesus would come through the lineage of the tribe of Judah. In Hebrew, Judah means, “praise.” The name Shiloh is taken for the word Shalom which means “peace.”

Later, King Herod, threatened by the reports of the birth of the King of the Jews, gathered the chief priests and scribes to ask where the Christ was to be born. Notice their answer? They said: “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ” (Matthew 2:6).

Yet these religious leaders, failed to believe in Jesus! Do you believe?

A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.
~Numbers: 24:17~

WEDNESDAY December 19, 2018

For Unto Us a Child is Born

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. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:6-7

The prophet Isaiah gave dual prophesies about Christ’s first coming, and then, His second coming. First he prophesied of Christ’s birth 750 years before He came, and, then second, he takes us further into the future, two thousand years later, to His second coming. Isaiah foretold of Jesus’ return back to earth to establish the millennial kingdom. Christ will reign and govern on earth for 1000 years with a rod of iron (Revelation 19:13-16).

Understand, this Child––Jesus Christ was born for us––for all mankind. Notice the names of Christ in these verses because they establish both His humanity, and His divinity. He came as a Child, yet He was the Son of God––the Savior of the world. John 3:16 tells us: 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. Philippians 2:5-7, also speaks of both His divinity and humanity:

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.

Now slowly read Isaiah 9:6-7 again. What does each name of Christ mean to you personally?

“Infinite and yet an Infant. Eternal, and yet born of a woman. Almighty, and yet nursing at a woman’s breast. Supporting a universe, and yet carried in a mother’s arms…”
~C.H. Spurgeon~

TUESDAY December 18, 2018

The Light Has Shined

“Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, as when at first He lightly esteemed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward more heavily oppressed her, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, In Galilee of the Gentiles. 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 9:1-2

Isaiah 9:1-2, described a future time when the nation of Israel would come out of gloom and darkness into a beautiful light. These incredible verses point to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15). The nation of Israel would come out of darkness into the greatest light of the knowledge of salvation.

Even though God judged Zebulun and Naphtali; yet, these are the regions where Jesus Christ went to preach the Gospel of light––to the darkest places. Jesus Christ would be born and later would begin ministry in Galilee. The people around the Sea of Galilee would see a great light. Who was that great light? Jesus Christ! The people there would come out of darkness because He would take to them the Gospel of salvation.

God in His mercy and grace has called us out of the darkness:

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 (I Peter 2:9).

If you are a person in distress who does not know Christ, do not remain in gloom, walking in the darkness of your sin, and living in the constant fear of death’s shadow. Come to the Light!

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
~2 Corinthians 4:6~

MONDAY December 17, 2018

Prophecy of the Virgin Birth

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

Isaiah 7:14

This is incredible! Isaiah the prophet spoke a prophecy 750 years before Jesus Christ was born. God gave us a sure sign “…the virgin would conceive and bear a Son.” The word virgin in Hebrew is “almah” meaning, “young woman.” Eight out of nine times "almah" is translated "virgin," because young, unmarried, women in the Hebrew culture were strictly to be virgins before marriage.

When the Old Testament was translated into Greek (the Septuagint), the translators used the word “Parthenos,” a word descriptive of a young woman who has never known a man sexually. Joseph never had relations with Mary until after Jesus was born (Matthew 1:25). . Mary’s conception of Christ was a miracle––amazing.

The word virgin in some of the newer translations of the Bible has been changed. Instead of the word virgin they have used the phrase “young maiden,” which discredits the virgin birth and incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah foretold that Jesus Christ would be born of a virgin, and He would be called Immanuel. What is the meaning of the name Immanuel? The word Immanuel means, “God with us” or “With us is God.” Immanuel is the prophetic name of the Messiah.

The miracle and marvel of Immanuel––God with us––defies description… Jesus was the heart of God wrapped in human flesh. He was God in the garb of humanity. He was God walking the earth in sandals. (Henry Gariepy)

Christ, who walked among us, was a demonstration of perfect humanity. God's majesty was mercifully sheathed in the
soft envelope of human nature.
~
A.W.Tozer~

SUNDAY December 16, 2018

Dayspring from on High

“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

As Zacharias concluded his prophecy, he gave tremendous hope to the Jewish people. When the Dayspring, Jesus Christ appeared, He would bring light. The Jews sat in darkness; they were despondent, and felt hopeless because of the Roman occupation and oppression. They lacked peace with God in the face of persecution.

One of the beautiful titles of our Lord is “Dayspring,” which literally means, “sunrise.” Zacharias in his hymn of praise and prophecy echoes and announces the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy (Malachi 4:2), by the birth of Christ––“the Dayspring from on high has visited us.” It was very dark when Jesus, our Dayspring came from on high. But he came as a glorious sunrise “to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into peace. (Henry Gariepy)

Still in the world today, people sit in darkness––a spiritual darkness and ignorance concerning Christ. They need the Dayspring from on high! Jesus Christ––visited us like the dawn that ends the darkness. We all face the shadow of death. We live in the knowledge that each new day could be our last. Death is something we cannot control; it is an unwelcome visitor. But who can help us? Christ, as the Child of Mary, took upon Himself human flesh, and conquered death’s power when He died on the cross and rose again from the dead.

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He [Christ] 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~

SATURDAY December 15, 2018

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

In answer to prayer, God had given Zacharias a son in his old age. Zacharias the priest was filled with the Holy Spirit, and continued to give a prophecy that also told of his son’s future ministry. The hand of the Lord was with John, Zacharias’ son, as he grew (Luke 1:66). He became strong in spirit, and later lived in the area of the desert until his ministry began.

Zacharias’ son was chosen to be the messenger of God Most High. As the prophet of the Highest; he would herald the Messiah and make ready a people prepared for the Lord. He would call out to the people to repent so they could be forgiven of their sins (Matthew 3:1-3). He would become known as John the Baptist because he would baptize the people in the Jordan River (John 1:28).

As John the Baptist preached repentance, many people would be deeply convicted and they would turn to Christ. Their hearts would be made ready for their coming Messiah. The Jews would send for the priests and Levites from Jerusalem to question John. They would inquire, “Who are you?” We can read his testimony in the Scriptures: ...He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ” (John 1:20).

John the Baptist would proclaim to those who came from Jerusalem: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the LORD,” ’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” John the Baptist would quote Scripture from Isaiah 40:3, and always point people to Christ––the Son of God. Who do you point people to?

“…I [John the Baptist] have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”
~John 1:34~

FRIDAY December 14, 2018

God Has Visited His People

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, but 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 132:17-18). Zacharias praised God for his nation’s redemption, salvation and deliverance from their enemies. He declared what had been spoken through God’s prophets since the beginning of the world.

Imagine, the people of Israel were very familiar with these ancient 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 the Baptist 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 stand in awe of Christmas lights or the true Light which gives light to the world?

“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
~John 8:12~

WEDNESDAY December 12, 2018

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 reproach among the people (Luke 1:25) and had given her a child. While pregnant, Elizabeth sought seclusion, but now her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had blessed her. God had given her a son, and everyone rejoiced (Luke 1:56-58).

Elizabeth gave birth to her son in her old age, and it was a miracle, but that was not the only wonderful thing to happen. On the eighth day, when they circumcised the child, 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 (Luke 1:63). Immediately, his tongue was loosed and he could speak, just as the angel had said (Luke 1:20, 64). His first words uttered were 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 imagine the possibility of a child being born to him in his old age. But now, when what was spoken by the angel had taken place, he obediently called his son John, and had nothing but praise on his lips for his God.

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)~

TUESDAY December 11, 2018

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 in praise to all that had been spoken to her by the angel Gabriel and Elizabeth her cousin. She spontaneously began to magnify the Lord. Imagine, Mary, in humility, recognized that she was just a lowly maidservant to be used in God’s hands. Mary had indeed been made to rejoice; God, who is mighty beyond measure, had done great things for her. Mary was so blessed and she praised God’s magnificent holy name. 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 Mary’s own personal Savior. Mary, although blessed among women, was not sinless like her Savior. She also needed salvation. Mary saw herself in the correct light; she understood the profound truth of her insignificance and sinfulness, compared to the greatness and holiness of God. But do we?

You may consider yourself a good person, someone who helps others and seeks to live by a high, moral standard, but what light does the Bible shed on those thoughts: …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God” (Romans 3:10-11).

It is God who is mindful of us. He loved us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8), and gave His life for us. Jesus has done great things for us!

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
~Romans 5:8~

MONDAY December 10, 2018

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 hurried to visit her cousin Elizabeth. As she entered the house and gave greetings, Elizabeth’s baby leaped for joy in her womb. She then was filled with the Spirit and spoke to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Elizabeth was so humbled by Mary’s visit. Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus.

Notice how Elizabeth acknowledged Mary’s child as, “my Lord;” Jesus would become Elisabeth’s personal Lord and Savior. Elizabeth, by the Holy Spirit, gave Mary confirmation and assurance of all that was told her by the angel Gabriel. Imagine, Mary stayed with someone from 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. Elizabeth was a woman in tune with God’s purposes, and Mary must have been encouraged and comforted by her friendship.

Like Mary and Elizabeth, are you in tune with God’s plans and purposes? Do you recognize Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? If you do this day, the Christmas story will take on a whole new, blessed meaning. Imagine, you will rejoice as you become one of the blessed believers in Christ!

“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
for He has visited and redeemed His people.”

~Luke 1:68~

SUNDAY December 9, 2018

For With God Nothing is Impossible

“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 did the impossible; miraculously, a child was conceived in her lifeless womb. God did something far greater, in the life of Mary. As a virgin, she 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 plan. 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 the angel Gabriel that Elizabeth was to have a child, he questioned the possibility, thinking they were too old to have children. Zacharias was rebuked by the angel for his unbelief, but Mary, by faith, was 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 for the sins of the world (John 3:16), to give salvation to anyone who believed in Him.

When the rich young ruler walked away from Christ because he would not give up his riches to follow Him, the Lord told His disciples that it was “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” His disciples replied, “Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:24-25)

“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
~Matthew 19:26~

SATURDAY December 8, 2018

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 (Isaiah 6:3); Jesus, God’s Son, is holy (Acts 3:14-15); and the Spirit is called the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13) 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~

FRIDAY December 7, 2018

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Today is the 77th anniversary of the surprise, aerial attack on Pearl Harbor, a naval base on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii. The Japanese, who anticipated that the United States would enter into World War 2, sent about 200 aircraft in a wave of attacks which decimated the airfields, destroyed more than 300 aircrafts, and 20 American naval ships. More than 2,400 Americans died, including civilians on the island, and 1,000 more people were left wounded. The Japanese goal was to destroy the Pacific fleet.

One survivor on board the USS Arizona said he saw more courage, more heroics, more valor and more sacrifice, that day, than a person should see in ten life times. The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked congress to declare war on Japan, stating this was, “A day that will remain in infamy.” The President gave a speech condemning the attack and asking the US Congress for a state of war, and concluded:

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph––so help us God. I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

On August 15, 1945, an announcement was made that Imperial Japan had surrendered. The surrender was officially signed on September 2, 1945, and, finally the conflicts of World War 2 were brought to a close.

We resolve that our strength, our vigilance, and our devotion will forever keep America the land of the free and the home of the brave. We resolve that we will keep faith with those we have loved and lost. And we resolve that, always, we will remember Pearl Harbor.
~Ronald Reagan~

THURSDAY December 6, 2018

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. 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).

When Jesus came to earth, He took on a human nature. So Jesus now 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––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~

WEDNESDAY December 5, 2018

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. In Luke 1:54-55, apart of the Song of Mary, this young virgin knew of God’s prophecy: “He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.”

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).

Jesus is not only the Savior for the Jewish nation, but for the salvation of the whole world! This Christmas, are you mindful of His great mercy and love? Then sing praises to Him!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare Him room…
~Isaac Watts~

TUESDAY December 4, 2018

Rejoice, Highly Favored One

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 Mary––a young virgin. She was engaged to be married to Joseph, and must have been shocked to be approached by an angel with such an amazing salutation!

The angel told her to rejoice, because 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.

Mary did not yet fully understand the reason for the angel’s visit, but the message of the angel would be 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 Timothy 3:16-17). 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~

MONDAY December 3, 2018

Turning People to the Lord

“And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 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 1:14-17

The angel Gabriel told Zacharias, a priest, that his wife Elizabeth would have a son. He was to name his son John, meaning, “God is gracious.” What was God’s plan for his life? John had the same vow as a Nazarite, he would drink no wine. He was to be set apart for the work of the Lord.

As John developed in his mother’s womb; he was already filled with the Holy Spirit. His mission was to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist would prepare the way for Jesus Christ so that when He came, the people would be ready to receive Him as their Savior.

In his life, John the Baptist never promoted himself, but proclaimed to the people the Messiah––Jesus Christ. He knew his ministry would decrease as Jesus Christ’s ministry increased. John the Baptist would preach to the Jews who would come to know the Messiah. King Herod would place John in prison. Jesus would speak to the multitudes saying:

“For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.’ Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist…” (Mathew 11:9-10).

Like John the Baptist, how can you be used in preparing people to receive Jesus Christ? May God fill you with His Holy Spirit and use your life to turn many others to the Lord this Christmas.

This Christmas, accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Give Him the gift that He wants––your heart, your soul, your life.
~Billy Graham~

SUNDAY December 2, 2018

Silence was Broken

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him [Zacharias], standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 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.”

Luke 1:11-13

The Christmas story began when 400 years of silence was broken. Zacharias, one of the priests, performed his regular duties burning incense in the temple while the people prayed outside (Luke 1:8-10). They waited and marveled that he took so long. When Zacharias came out of the temple, he could not speak. The people supposed he had seen a vision in the temple. Zacharias gestured to them, but he remained speechless (Luke 1:21-23).

What had Zacharias seen? He had seen the angel Gabriel who brought him a message from the Lord. Zacharias’ wife Elizabeth, who was beyond the age of childbearing, would become pregnant. God had heard the prayers of this dedicated priest. The angel Gabriel told Zacharias to name his son John. The voice of the Lord had not been heard among His people. Imagine, at that very moment, 400 years of silence was broken.

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).

Did you 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.

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~

SATURDAY December 1, 2018

The Certainty of the Gospel

Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

Luke 1:1-3

Luke was not an Apostle; he was a Greek who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. He knew Theophilus––a great Roman governor. It is believed that Luke was a physician and the governor’s personal doctor. He took the opportunity to write and share with Theophilus an orderly account of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Understand, the Bible is not an ordinary book; it is God’s inspired Word. At this particular time in history, the voice of the Lord had not been heard for 400 years. From the last book of the Old Testament––Malachi, to the first book of the New Testament––Matthew, in-between those two books, the old and the new, there was nothing but silence for a four hundred year period. The Word of God had not been heard; God had not spoken to man. There had been no visions, no dreams nor angels sent with a message among His people. The Word of God had ceased as His judgment came upon the nation of Israel.

Then, according to God’s plan, He began to reveal His light through a young man that would be born––John the Baptist. He would preach the straight forward message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ––repent or burn. The people needed to turn from their sins and repent. When was the last time you shared the certainty of the Gospel, as seen in the Scriptures, with someone? It will bring conviction to their hearts and save them!

God is not silent. It is the nature of God to speak. The second person of the Holy Trinity is called ‘The Word’
~A.W.Tozer~

FRIDAY November 30, 2018

The Holy Presence of God

So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have brought back the ark of the LORD; come down and take it up with you.”

1 Samuel 6:21

Notice, the people of Beth Shemesh began to recognize that God was powerful, God was great, and God was holy. Their ungodly actions had caused the death of so many. The only way God could truly bless His people was to bring them back into a reverence for His holiness. They needed to reverently come into His presence and bow before Him in Spirit and in truth.

A decision was made by the people of Beth Shemesh to send for other priests who knew the right way to handle the holy articles of God:

Then the men of Kirjath Jearim came and took the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab… and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD (1 Samuel 7:1).

The Ark of the Covenant would remain in Kirjath Jearim, meaning, “town of the forests,” a long time. It would be twenty years before Israel would return to the LORD with all their hearts (I Samuel 7:2-3), and about fifty years before David would bring the Ark to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). What a long time for the people in the city to have missed out on the blessings and presence of the Lord among them.

I think about the many different churches and individuals who have missed out on the blessings of God. I have seen many church leaders fall into sin. It is often their wives and children who pay the consequences for their sin and disobedience. We serve a God who is perfect and holy. If only men, as leaders, would recognize the holiness of God and desire to have the presence of God back into their lives! Only then will the blessings of God and the return of His presence be with them and their homes.

Do you desire the blessings and presence of God to return to your life?

The Christian life is to live all of your life in the presence of God.
~R.C. Sproul~

THURSDAY November 29, 2018

Standing Before a Holy God

And the men of Beth Shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? And to whom shall it go up from us?”

1 Samuel 6:20

When the men of Beth Shemesh opened the lid to the Ark, judgment came. God immediately brought a great slaughter. They recognized that God was holy, yet they had not respected the holiness of God. In response to God’s judgment, the men of Beth Shemesh asked a good question, “Who is able to stand before this holy God?” The only true answer is, “Only those who are made righteous in Christ Jesus!”

The Bible clearly states: But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption… (1 Corinthians 1:30). Only those in Christ are able to stand before a holy God in righteousness. A further explanation is given in 2 Corinthians 5:21: For He made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

In the book of Exodus, Moses asked if He could see God. The Lord told him: “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” (Exodus 33:20, John 1:18).Through Moses’ brother Aaron came the priesthood. A person who was a high priest could not approach a holy God without holiness in his own life; otherwise, his life would be forfeited.

It is the same with us; we cannot serve God while in sin. God is holy and we are to be holy––separate to God: But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). Do you now understand how Christians are able to stand before a holy God?

Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
~Psalm 24:3-5~

WEDNESDAY November 28, 2018

Approaching the Holiness of God

.Then He [God] struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck fifty thousand and seventy men of the people, and the people lamented because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter.

1 Samuel 6:19

Why did God bring such a great slaughter among the people of Israel? The men had taken the lid off the Ark of God and looked inside. Apart from what the Philistines had placed inside the Ark, what else would they have seen? Three objects inside––Aaron’s rod that budded, the jar of manna, and the Ten Commandments. There may be some of you who say, “So what if they saw the three items––nothing wrong with that!”

God clearly spoke to my heart. Here were unclean men––sinners––who were looking into the holiness of God. Those who looked into the Ark of God were not consecrated. In their excitement to see the Ark, they became careless and looked inside. They had no respect for the holiness of God. Remember the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark? God did not judge them like that, but those men who looked inside the Ark were struck by the LORD with a great slaughter.

Understand that when we try to do the work of God in our own righteousness, God will not bless it. You cannot handle the things of God without holiness. If you are going to serve the Lord, he wants you to be set apart––holy. He cannot bless people who are not holy; there has to be holiness in our lives. God will not put up with sin. God is holy. If you are not set apart––holy, then expect to receive the judgment of God.

Especially if you are a leader in the Church, you are held more accountable than anyone else––you cannot excuse yourself, because you have been taught the holiness of God. Hebrews 12:14 tells us: Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.

The Gospel is not an announcement that God has relaxed His justice or lowered the standard of His holiness.
~
Arthur W. Pink~

TUESDAY November 27, 2018

Trespass Offerings

These are the golden tumors which the Philistines returned as a trespass offering to the LORD: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron; and the golden rats, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and country villages, even as far as the large stone of Abel on which they set the ark of the LORD, which stone remains to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.

1 Samuel 6:17-18

Why did the Philistines send back golden tumors and golden rats inside the Ark? They gave them as a “trespass offering.” In Israel, a trespass offering was made by sacrificing a ram or lamb. It also involved restitution. God forgave a person, but He also expected them to make good for any wrongdoing:

“If a person sins and commits a trespass against the LORD… he shall restore what he has stolen, or the thing which he has extorted, or what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or the lost thing which he found, or… sworn falsely. He shall restore its full value, add one-fifth more to it, and give it to whomever it belongs, on the day of his trespass offering” (Leviticus 6:2, 4-5).

The gold from the Philistines was restitution for taking the Ark and dishonoring God. A New Testament example of making restitution is that of Zacchaeus. He was a tax collector who extorted money from the people of Israel. Jesus forgave him of his sin. As a Christian, Zacchaeus restored all that he had taken from the people––fourfold (Luke 19:8).

Jesus has forgiven you for your sins, but have you made things right? Have you given a recompense for anything stolen or said and done to others?

Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, …to give him who has need.
~Ephesians 4:28~

MONDAY November 26, 2018

Sacrifices of Consecration

The Levites took down the ark of the LORD and the chest that was with it, in which were the articles of gold, and put them on the large stone. Then the men of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices the same day to the LORD. So when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.

I Samuel 6:15-16

The men of Beth Shemesh received the Ark of God and offered burnt offerings to the Lord––sacrifices of consecration. I am sure the Philistines were relieved to be rid of the Ark because of all the plagues they had suffered. When the five lords of the Philistines observed the Ark was well received, they returned back to Ekron––one of the five cities of Philistines.

The Book of Leviticus explains the different types of burnt offerings the priests offered to the Lord in the tabernacle. Leviticus is known as the book of holiness because the word, “holy,” is used more in the Book of Leviticus than in any other book of the Bible. In Leviticus 20:7-8, God’s people were told:

“ ‘Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the LORD who sanctifies you.’ ”

God’s people were to be set apart. They were given detailed instructions on how the various sacrifices should be performed. Understand that in the Old Testament, the only way to approach a holy God and receive forgiveness of sin was through sacrifices. The people of Beth Shemesh completed sacrifices that symbolized consecration to the Lord.

In the New Testament, sacrifices are no longer made. Jesus Christ became a living sacrifice for us. We are able to approach a holy God only because of Him.

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.
~Romans 12:1~

SUNDAY November 25, 2018

A Time to Rejoice!

Now the people of Beth Shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley; and they lifted their eyes and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it. Then the cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and stood there; a large stone was there. So they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD.

1 Samuel 6:13-14

As the Ark of God arrived at Beth Shemesh, the people of the city were outside reaping the wheat harvest. They became excited at the sight of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark represented God’s presence among His people. God was back among them, and they would be blessed. It had been seven months (1 Samuel 6:1) since they had seen the Ark, and they greatly rejoiced to see it!

During Israel’s history, they went through different seasons. The nation suffered great distress and oppression. Often their sorrow was due to their lack of obedience to the Lord. Yet there were times of dancing and rejoicing as God, in answer to their cries, delivered them from their affliction in Egypt:

And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians…” (Exodus 3:7-8).

Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying: “I will sing to the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!” …Then Miriam the prophetess… and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances (Exodus 15:1, 20).

Life can bring different seasons of sorrow and rejoicing, but too often your seasons of sorrow can be due to your own disobedience. If this is so, call on the name of the Lord; He will bring back into you times of rejoicing!

You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; they rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice
when they divide the spoil.
~Isaiah 9:3~

SATURDAY November 24, 2018

Divine Direction

Then the cows headed straight for the road to Beth Shemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right hand or the left. And the lords of the Philistines went after them to the border of Beth Shemesh.

1 Samuel 6:12

The Philistines placed the Ark of God on a cart and hitched two milk cows that headed down the road to Beth Shemesh, meaning, “the House of the Sun.” The place was a priestly city. Since the priestly line had become corrupted, resulting in the death of Eli and his sons, the priests were found to be unfit to lead and teach the people––sad.

The cows were lowing as they went. They were separated from their calves and were displeased. The animals did not want to go, but they finally adjusted. God was directing them. They knew their Creator. God’s sovereign hand was guiding the cows to take the Ark to its new destination. The Ark was no longer in the hands of Israel’s enemies.

In the same way, God’s sovereign hand worked in the life of Elijah. He told him to go hide by the brook Cherith, and during the drought, He would send ravens to feed him bread and meat:

“Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there” (1 Kings 17:3-4).

On another occasion, Elijah fled from the wicked Queen Jezebel who sought to kill him; God, once again, fed him as he slept under a tree:

…suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water (1 Kings 19:5-6).

When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

FRIDAY November 23, 2018

Nothing Happens by Chance

“And watch: if it goes up the road to its own territory, to Beth Shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we shall know that it is not His hand that struck us—it happened to us by chance.”

1 Samuel 6:9

The Philistines decided to check to see if everything that had happened to them might have been just a coincidence. Notice their comment; “…it happened to us by chance.

Many people believe in fate, destiny or chance. But we worship a God who is in complete control. He is the Creator of the universe, and the earth did not come into existence by chance: the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork (Psalm 19:1). God laid the foundations of the earth, so it should not be moved forever… (Psalm 104:5).

God created us. Each one of our lives did not happen by chance:

For You [God] formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them (Psalm 139:13-16).

Neither did God’s plan of salvation happen by chance: just as 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). For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29).

God has a foreordained plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). We need to come to know Him. Will you seek Him today?

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for
Me with all your heart.

~Jeremiah 29:13~

THURSDAY November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Day

…I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You. Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

Psalm 118:28-29

David, the sweet Psalmist of Israel, had a heart of praise. He praised God in every season of his life, no matter what he faced. Through good times and bad, he penned the most magnificent Psalms of worship, praise, adoration and thanksgiving. In Psalm 103:1-5, David blessed the Lord and recounted His benefits:

Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Thanksgiving is a perfect time to remember all the benefits the Lord has bestowed upon us. As families gather around the table to eat their Thanksgiving dinners, it would be good to take time for each family member to share what they are most thankful for. God is good. He has given us so many blessings, especially those of us living in America.

Excerpts from an article, “Time of Thanksgiving,” by Billy Graham, November 22, 2009, expressed what we should be thankful for:

We should thank God for the spiritual blessings, beyond the power of human tongue to describe. But more than any other spiritual or material blessing of God’s offer of salvation through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The same one who gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16) is the giver of every other benefit.

This Thanksgiving, I want you to receive the gift of God’s grace which is His Son Jesus Christ. Make it a day of real thanksgiving in which we fall on our knees and give humble and sincere thanks to God for all the spiritual and material blessings that He has poured down upon us as a people.
~Billy Graham~

WEDNESDAY November 21, 2018

Greater Accountability

“Now therefore, make a new cart, take two milk cows which have never been yoked, and hitch the cows to the cart; and take their calves home, away from them. Then take the ark of the LORD and set it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you are returning to Him as a trespass offering in a chest by its side. Then send it away, and let it go.”

1 Samuel 6:7-8

The Philistines’ priests and diviners advised their people on how to send the Ark of the LORD away. The Philistines were ignorant of God’s commands in transporting it. The Ark of the LORD was to be carried on the shoulders of the Levite priests of Israel, with two long poles placed through the golden rings on the sides of the Ark. The Philistines placed it on a cart to send it away. However, God allowed it. He did not punish them.

Later, when King David set the Ark of the Lord on a cart to carry it just like the Philistines. When King David tried to move the Ark of the Covenant in the same way, it created problems. When the oxen stumbled, the cart tipped, and Uzzah, one of the drivers, put out his hand to hold onto the Ark. When he touched the Ark, God struck him and he died. He aroused the anger of the Lord (2 Samuel 6:7).

David knew the proper way to move the Ark of the Covenant, but he failed to follow God’s instructions, and it had devastating consequences. David knew the Word of God. Yet the LORD did not hold the Philistines accountable because they had no knowledge on how to carry the Ark.

As Christians, we are held to a greater standard of accountability––to whom much is given, much more is required (Luke 12:48). If we do not obey God’s Word, we shall have greater consequences, because we have known the truth and have chosen not to follow God’s commands.

It was the belief in the accountability of a man to His maker that
made America a great nation.
~A. W. Tozer~

TUESDAY November 20, 2018

Hardened Hearts

“Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He did mighty things among them, did they not let the people go, that they might depart?”

1 Samuel 6:6

The Philistines needed to learn from past experiences. The Egyptians and Pharaoh went through ten plagues, all because of their hard hearts:

And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he hardened his heart, he and his servants. So the heart of Pharaoh was hard; neither would he let the children of Israel go, as the LORD had spoken by Moses (Exodus 9:34-35).

Notice the problem. The priests and diviners warned the Philistines not to make the same error as the Egyptians. The Philistines had begun to harden their hearts before God, just like the Egyptians who would not let God’s people go. Surely they did not want to suffer like the Egyptians!

The Holy Spirit is the person who warns us not to harden our hearts after hearing God’s voice: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (Hebrews 3:7-8). What does “in the rebellion” refer to? It refers to those who rebelled against God in the wilderness. Many of God’s people had evil hearts of unbelief; they went astray in their hearts––they did not follow in the ways of the Lord.

Unbelief and the deceitfulness of sin can harden people’s hearts (Hebrews 3:13). You may know people in your family who have hardened their hearts towards the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Prayerfully ask the Lord to soften their hearts before He honors their chosen position of hardening their hearts before Him.

Truth arouses emotion and incites to action. So does error. If we reject the truth and embrace error the consequence is heart-hardening.
~A.W.Tozer~

MONDAY November 19, 2018

Give God the Glory

Then they said, “What is the trespass offering which we shall return to Him?” They answered, “Five golden tumors and five golden rats, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines. For the same plague was on all of you and on your lords. Therefore you shall make images of your tumors and images of your rats that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will lighten His hand from you, from your gods, and from your land.”

I Samuel 6:4-5

The Philistines were advised by the diviners to make five gold rats and five tumors––symbols of the plagues. They were to give God glory, but how can the Philistines give glory to the God of Israel when they do not believe or worship Him? I really do not know! Perhaps they were trying to play a religious role, but that would never work.

King Nebuchadnezzar sought glory for himself. He made a 90 foot, golden idol, thought to be of himself, to be worshipped. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused to worship it and were thrown into a fiery furnace. When the king saw that these Jews were delivered from the fire, he made an incredible decree that glorified God. Throughout all the land, no one could speak against God of Israel, or there would be grave consequences, “because there is no other God who can deliver like this” (Daniel 3).

However, later on King Nebuchadnezzar became so proud, he took the glory for the greatness of his kingdom. God immediately humbled him. He was driven from men and dwelt with the beasts of the fields. The king ate grass like an ox, his body became covered with hair that looked like eagles’ feathers, and his nails grew to be like birds’ claws (Daniel 4:32-33). When King Nebuchadnezzar’s understanding returned to him after seven years, he praised the King of Heaven (Daniel 4:34-37).

It is important in our lives that we give glory to whom it is due!

Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name;
worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

~Psalm 29:1-2~

SUNDAY November 18, 2018

An Offering for Sin

So they said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but by all means return it to Him with a trespass offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed from you.”

1 Samuel 6:3

The Philistine priests and diviners told their people what to do. Inside the Ark of God they were to place trespass offerings. They believed the LORD would honor their sacrifice. Did you know the Philistines knew about giving trespass offerings to the LORD, just like the Israelites? Even as heathens, they knew to send the Ark of God back with an offering, in hopes of removing God’s hand of chastisement and wrath against them!

Even today, people try to make offerings to God, in hopes that He would remove their sins and they could escape from His judgment. They will offer the LORD money and do good works or acts of obeisance. Yet, what does the Bible teach us about having our sins forgiven?

Understand, we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). God is a holy God (Isaiah 6:3), and our sins have separated us from Him (Isaiah 59:2). We cannot, by our own merit, reach God. It is God who reaches down to us: For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

Christ is the way of salvation. Through Christ’s death on the Cross, we are forgiven: In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins… (Ephesians 1:7). …Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many (Hebrews 9:28). The Apostle Paul testified: …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 15:3-4). The Gospel is very simple. Do you believe this to be the way of salvation? Your eternal destiny––heaven or hell––depends on your answer.

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~

SATURDAY November 17, 2018

Seeking Advice

Now the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months. And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, “What shall we do with the ark of the LORD? Tell us how we should send it to its place.”

1 Samuel 6:1-2

The Philistines moved the Ark of the LORD from city to city for seven months, but the plague that God sent among them was not removed. Many of the people died, and others continued to suffer tremendously from tumors––thought to be hemorrhoids. So the Philistines sought out advice from their priests and diviners.

What is the practice of divination? In Latin the word means “to foresee, to be inspired by a god.” It suggests an attempt to gain answers to questions using occult rituals or witchcraft. These practices were forbidden to the Jews.

God told the people through Moses: “‘you shall not eat anything with the blood, nor shall you practice divination or soothsaying [foretelling events]” (Leviticus 19:26). God also commanded in Deuteronomy 18:10-12:

“There shall not be found among you anyone …who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD…”

Today many people do not see the danger in experimenting with occult practices: astrology, Ouija boards, tarot cards, palm readers or any method of fortune telling. All these practices will open a door to the darkness––they are demonic. As a Christian, rid your home of their influence––turn on the light to get rid of darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

Brother Christians, modern witchcrafts and wizardry are to be abhorred and condemned, and you will be wise to keep clear of them, trembling to be found acting in concert with those who love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.
~C.H. Spurgeon~

FRIDAY November 16, 2018

Cries that Reach Heaven

Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. So it was, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, “They have brought the ark of the God of Israel to us, to kill us and our people!” So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go back to its own place, so that it does not kill us and our people.” For there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. And the men who did not die were stricken with the tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

1 Samuel 5:10-12

The Ark of the Covenant was passed on to yet another Philistine city–– Ekron. After knowing what had happened to the people in Ashdod and Gath, the Ekronites cried out in terror. The people pleaded for the Ark of God to be returned to its own place. Already there began a deadly destruction throughout the entire city. Those who did not die were stricken with the tumors––possibly hemorrhoids, and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

Why did the cry go up towards heaven? What kind of cry was it? It was no a cry of repentance, all the Philistines were interested in was to be rid of the plague. They wanted relief––that was it.

Interestingly, God hears the wicked when they cry out. He is aware of everything that is going on in their lives. The problem is not with God; it is with the people. They can cry out all they want, but they have to cry out to God in repentance. Understand, the LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit (Psalm 34:18).

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
~Psalm 34:15-16~

THURSDAY November 15, 2018

Great Destruction

Therefore they [people of Ashdod] sent and gathered to themselves all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” And they answered, “Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried away to Gath.” So they carried the ark of the God of Israel away. So it was, after they had carried it away, that the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction; and He struck the men of the city, both small and great, and tumors broke out on them.

1 Samuel 5:8-9

The Ark of the Covenant was moved to a second Philistine city––Gath. God sent the same affliction upon them––tumors. Imagine their pain! The Philistines had tried to solve the problem by moving the Ark of the Covenant to a different city, but the problem continued on! They still did not get it! They should have recognized God’s chastening and wrath and turned from their wickedness, but they lost the opportunity.

In comparison, look at the story of Jonah. God called Jonah to go to Nineveh and to pronounce His judgment. What was the reason? It was because of their wickedness that had come up before Him (Jonah 1:-2). For a time, Jonah resisted and fled. After being swallowed by a great fish, he prayed to God, and the Lord had the fish spit him out on dry ground (Jonah 2:10).

Again the Lord called to Jonah. He was to give the people in Nineveh a message. This time Jonah obeyed the Lord: … he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” Were the people’s hearts hard, stubborn and rebellious? No! They listened to the message given by Jonah. What happened? The people believed God, and from the greatest to the least, they fasted and prayed. They heeded the decree of their king (Jonah 3:5-9). When God saw their true repentance, He did not bring His judgment.

God is merciful. We only need to turn from our sin to receive it.

God leads us to eternal life not by our merits
but according to His mercy.
~Augustine~

WEDNESDAY November 14, 2018

Getting Rid of the Problem

But the hand of the LORD was heavy on the people of Ashdod, and He ravaged them and struck them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory. And when the men of Ashdod saw how it was, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is harsh toward us and Dagon our god.”

1 Samuel 5:6-7

Notice the Philistines’ hardness of heart in the comments they made. They would not repent and never submitted their lives to the God of the Israelites, yet they recognized they were afflicted by Israel’s God, and their suffering was a direct result of God’s harsh hand towards them.

Notice, instead of taking care of the problem, they wanted to get rid of what they thought was the problem. Yet the problem still remained in their lives––sin and darkness! The only reason they wanted to get rid of the Ark of God was to rid themselves of the inflammation of the tumors––probably hemorrhoids. God was chastening them and bringing His wrath upon them, but they did not want to listen to Him.

It will be the same for many people during the Great Tribulation. When God’s judgment and wrath is poured out upon the earth, and instead of turning to the Lord in repentance, people will hide themselves in the dens of the rocks. The stars from heaven will fall to the earth and every mountain and island will be moved out of its place. Yet rich and poor alike will say to the rocks, “Fall on us.” Instead of calling out to God, they will hide from His presence within caves and between rocks (Revelation 6:13-16).

Within the Scriptures concerning the Last Days, we still see the hardness of people’s hearts and their stubbornness––rebellion.

The idea that God will pardon a rebel who has not given up his rebellion is contrary both to the Scriptures and to common sense.
~A.W. Tozer~

TUESDAY November 13, 2018

No God like Jehovah!

And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon’s torso was left of it. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor any who come into Dagon’s house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.

1 Samuel 5:4-5

Israel had been defeated in battle. God allowed the defeat because He was chastening His people. The Ark of the LORD was captured and placed in the house of a Philistine god, Dagon, an idol which looked like half man––half fish. Despite Israel’s backslidden position, God was still working. The Philistine idol Dagon had fallen face down before the Ark of God. The LORD was showing His enemies that He was greater than their gods!

How many times do we become like Israel? Whenever we become spiritually blind because of our sin or pride, and we stop listening to the LORD, we are chastened by Him. This happens when we are not being submissive to God’s perfect will. We become defeated, and that is hard.

Another problem in the world today is that there are still people who worship other gods––idols. The people in India worship many deities, such as Brahma and Shiva. The Inca people still worship the sun god––Inti. People in eastern regions worship Buddha and Krishna. The LORD desires that all people would come to know Him and be saved. Through the Prophet Isaiah, the LORD says, “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22).

It is important to understand that everyone has an opportunity to come to the knowledge of Jehovah God––Creator of heaven and earth––to worship Him alone. The LORD is just. He will give each person a chance to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and come to know Him.

There is none like unto thee, O Jehovah; thou art great,
and thy name is great in might.
~Jeremiah 10:6 ASV~

MONDAY November 12, 2018

Obey the Gospel Truth

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?

Galatians 3:1

The Apostle Paul knew that Satan could deceive Christians about the truth of the Gospel. The Galatians had become captivated into thinking they were justified by keeping the law. They had turned away from grace. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul tells us: 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.

Honestly, I am concerned about Christians who become proud of what they know. They understand the light of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4-6), but they can get caught up in different schools of theology. If influenced by a Calvinistic ministry, they may become proud or self-righteous. Those who have embraced five point Calvinism believe God only chooses certain people––they are one of them and they are eternally secure.

Others may attend a church that is Pentecostal. Once again, pride may set in because they believe no one else is as spiritual as they are. Yet another church may place great emphasis on teaching of the Word of God. Christians who are knowledgeable can become puffed up because they can quote Scriptures, books of the Bible, key words, and Greek and Hebrew definitions. They become proud because they feel they know more than anybody else.

We need to have a good balance in our lives. There is nothing wrong with being spirit-filled, having biblical knowledge, or having eternal security, but where is the doctrinal balance in our lives? What should we preach to others? We should be preaching Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected. My goal is not theology; it is that I might know Him and the power of His Resurrection. We must teach others that Christ is the center of theology.

Law and love have no quarrel. The conflict arises between law and grace as a way of salvation.
~Walter J. Chantry~

SUNDAY November 11, 2018

Veterans Day

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer… in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation… My Savior, You save me from violence. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.”

2 Samuel 22:2-4

Today is Veterans Day. It is a day set aside to honor and remember those men and women in the armed forces who have courageously fought and died to keep this great country free. It is amazing that November 1, 2018, marks the Centennial Commemoration of the end of World War 1. In tribute, a fitting war-time poster has been designed with a red poppy and barbed wire.

Not everyone knows the symbolism of the red poppy worn by many people, especially in Europe. The red poppy grows wild in many fields in northern France and Belgium where some of the deadliest battles of World War 1 took place, and where many men died. A bronze plaque contains the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” written by World War I Canadian soldier, John McCrae, at the Essex Farm Commonwealth Cemetery in Ypres, Belgium. John was a doctor who treated wounded men in the field.

John saw that the resilient red corn poppy was the first flower to grow in the war-torn earth. After John had buried a friend, he was moved to pen this well-known, wartime poem making the poppy a symbol of remembrance.

President Donald Trump issued a proclamation designating November 2018, as National Veterans and Military Families Month. He encouraged all communities, sectors of society, and all Americans to acknowledge and honor the services, sacrifice, and contributions of veterans and military families for what they have done… to support our great Nation.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
~John McCrae~

SATURDAY November 10, 2018

Ichabod

Then she [Eli’s daughter-in-law] named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured…”

1 Samuel 4:21

The glory of God had departed from Israel because of their continual disobedience. Instead of taking the LORD of Hosts into the battle against the Philistines, they took the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant represented God’s presence among them, but His presence was no longer with them––Ichabod––the glory of God had departed.

Does God’s glory depart from individuals or congregations today? I believe with all my heart it can. Churches and people can become religious; as a result, they have no real presence of God in their midst. There are churches that accept sin in their congregations. People can attend church and yet live a life practicing sin––they do not repent.

God is gracious. He loves people and will try to get their attention by chastisement. At times, He will cause them to become sick, or He will cause them to become weak. There are even instances when He will bring death. This is what Paul warned the Corinthians about:

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 [die]… we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world (1 Corinthians 11:28-34).

Therefore, every one of us has to take a serious examination of our lives. Is there a sin that you have become blind too in your life? How many opportunities has God given to you to repent before He says, “Ichabod,” and there will be no more glory? God’s presence will depart from your life. While there is still opportunity, come back to Christ in sincere contrition.

God Himself is here waiting our response to His Presence.
~A.W. Tozer~

FRIDAY November 9, 2018

God is Omnipotent

Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the LORD.

1 Samuel 5:1-3

The Philistines had possession of the Ark of God and brought it into Ashdod, one of their five major cities, and set it in the house of their god, Dagon. This god was awful––it was half human and half fish. It had a fish tail and looked like a mermaid. The Philistines knew of the God of Israel; they had heard about the plagues in Egypt and were fearful. So now that they had captured the Ark of the Covenant, they wanted to see who was more powerful. So they placed the Ark of God at the feet of their god.

Notice their blasphemy! But when they awoke the next morning, their god, Dagon was bowing down to the Ark of the Covenant. He was showing His power to this heathen nation. I like God’s humor. Even though Israel had been disqualified, and God’s people were nowhere near, God was still working among their enemies.

God was not going to bless the enemy; He would ensnare them. Do you know how long it was before the Ark of God was returned to its position? It took twenty years! All because of Israel’s sin!

Understand, God does not need you and me to make Himself known to other people. He can reveal Himself to anyone. If we do not learn our lessons of obedience, a lot of years will be wasted. Like Israel, you can disqualify yourself. Time is too short. We need to get right with God so we can be useful in His work. Only what we do for Jesus Christ will last.

An honest man with an open Bible and a pad and pencil is sure to find out what is wrong with him very quickly.
~A.W. Tozer~

THURSDAY November 8, 2018

God’s Glory Has Departed

Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

1 Samuel 4:21-22

It is interesting that Eli’s daughter-in-law called her child Ichabod, meaning “inglorious,” the glory of God has departed. What a name to give a child! However, the name fit exactly what had happened in God’s judgment of Israel. The Ark of God, which represented God’s glorious presence, was captured.

How sad it is when God has to write Ichabod––My glory has departed–– over the top of His Church. How tragic it would be if God had to write Ichabod on anyone’s forehead––the glory has departed from somebody’s life. This happens when a person continues to sin and refuses to depart from their sins.

There are people on whom you can clearly see the anointing God has placed on their foreheads. Yet because they became captured by their sin, blindness came over their eyes. They would not listen to God, and they excused their sin––Ichabod was written on their foreheads.

God’s grace is beautiful. I love God’s grace, but we need to be careful not to take advantage of His grace. Listen carefully to what the Apostle Paul exhorted Christians 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?

We need to live a life of holiness––separated to God. How many times have you been captured by your sin and become blind to it? I think the only way we can come to a place of holiness is when our will is broken. In humility, before God, we need to confess our sin, and He will cleanse us.

The grace of God will do very little for us if we resolve to do nothing for ourselves. God calls us to co-operate with him
in the perfecting of character.

~W. Graham Scroggie~

WEDNESDAY November 7, 2018

Recognizing the Presence of God

Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, for her labor pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, “Do not fear, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer, nor did she regard it. Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!”

1 Samuel 4:19-21

Eli’s daughter-in-law, on hearing the terrible news of Israel’s defeat, the Ark of God being captured, and the death of her father-in-law and her husband, went into labor. Tragically, after giving birth to her son, she too would die. Her last words named her newborn––Ichabod, an expression for the deep regret of God’s glory departing from Israel.

The glory of God departed all because of Israel’s disobedience. How sad and terrible for the presence of God to depart from the nation of Israel. The Ark of the Covenant was where God’s presence dwelt among His people. Imagine, God would no longer to do a work among His people as long as the enemy had the Ark of the Covenant.

I believe there is a tremendous lesson to be learned from these Scriptures. God allowed the Philistines to take the Ark of the Covenant, and, for a time, He gave them an opportunity to repent. The Philistines should have recognized the presence of the Lord dwelling among them, as they had the Ark of the Covenant in the temple of their god.

What about each one of us? Everyone in their life-time will have the opportunity to come and know God and have His presence in their life.

A right understanding of the Bible opens to us the only path
into the presence of God.

~A. W. Tozer~

TUESDAY November 6, 2018

God’s Word Comes to Pass

Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.

1 Samuel 4:18

At the mention of the Ark of God being captured, Eli became distressed and fell backwards off his seat, broke his neck, and died! God’s Word had come to pass. Interestingly, Eli had judged Israel for forty years. In the Bible, forty is sometimes the number of judgment. God had told Eli that he was going to be judged, along with his family. Just as it was declared by the Word of the Lord, so it came to pass.

It is important to know that when God has spoken something, it will happen in the future––God’s Word will come to pass. There are prophesies that have been spoken in the Old Testament that have come to pass. In Isaiah 7:14 is a prophecy concerning the birth of Christ. “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

In the New Testament is the future prophecy of the Rapture of the Church:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

God’s Word warns us about sin in Galatians 6:7: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. Understand, we can never get away with sin. Sin leads to spiritual death (Romans 6:23).

Sin denies man the power of God in this life and the
presence of God in the next.
~John Blanchard~

MONDAY November 5, 2018

Captured and Killed

Then the man said to Eli, “I am he who came from the battle. And I fled today from the battle line.” And he said, “What happened, my son?” So the messenger answered and said, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter among the people. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead; and the ark of God has been captured.”

1 Samuel 4:16-17

Eli was told of Israel’s defeat, the death of his sons, and how the Ark of God was captured! He really did not get too upset about the news of his sons––he already knew they would be killed because of the prophecy––but he was upset when he heard about the capture of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of God was never to be possessed by the enemy.

I believe with all my heart that the Ark of God should have stayed in its place in the tabernacle. It should have never been taken into battle. God’s people should have prayed to God and taken the Lord of Hosts with them into the battle. Instead, Israel took the Ark of God as a good luck charm. Imagine, because they were not in tune with the Lord, they lost the battle, and the Ark of God was taken by the enemy!

Israel’s defeat showed the weakness of God’s people, but also the strength of their enemies––the Philistines. They had suffered one defeat after another––it was like a chain reaction. Understand, there was no way Israel could have had the victory over their enemies without true repentance.

It is the same with us; we cannot have the victory over enemies unless there is true repentance. Christians should be aware of three main enemies: The world––all its lusts and pleasures, the flesh––the old sinful nature, and the devil. When we are born again, our faith will give us victory over the world (1 John 5:4). Christ gives us victory over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:53-58). We must put on the whole armor of God to stand against the devil (Ephesians 6:11).

There is only one answer to defeat and that is victory.
~Winston Churchill~

SUNDAY November 4, 2018

Are You a Respecter of Persons?

When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, “What does the sound of this tumult mean?” And the man came quickly and told Eli. Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were so dim that he could not see.

1 Samuel 4:14-15

When the news of defeat came from the battlefront into the city, a great outcry was heard. Eli was old, his eyes were dim, and he could only see shadows. Even though he asked what the noise was about, in his own heart, he knew that the judgment of God had fallen––Israel had been defeated. The man from the battlefront confirmed Eli’s worst fears.

Eli, as a leader, was at fault because he never, ever took the time to discipline his children. His lack of discipline was the reason his sons turned out to be so very corrupt. They had infected the camp of God.

Eli should have corrected and chastised them. It could have been that, because they were his children, he showed partiality to them. Did his affection for them cause him to overlook their sinful behavior?

What was Eli’s mistake? The Lord had told Eli that he had honored his sons more than honoring Him (1 Samuel 2:29). Eli should not have been a respecter of persons. It is important that we do not become a respecter of persons towards anybody. Understand, it does not matter who it is in your family that is in sin––a nephew, a son or a daughter. If you love them, then take care of the problem; otherwise, they can be destroyed by their sin.

Many times we are not willing to correct and discipline someone who is in sin. We should never be afraid of man––the fear of man brings a snare (Proverbs 29:25). Understand, God is not a respecter of persons. He will correct those He loves.

The heavenly Father has no spoiled children. He loves them
too much to allow that.

~Fred Mitchell~

SATURDAY November 3, 2018

God’s Chastisement

Then a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line the same day, and came to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. Now when he came, there was Eli, sitting on a seat by the wayside watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told it, all the city cried out.

1 Samuel 4:12-13

Israel had a false concept of their God. They thought they could go into battle and win without true repentance in their lives. The whole problem in their camp was sin. Israel had broken fellowship with God. All the Lord wanted to do was to draw them back to worship Him in spirit and truth, but they were so stiff-necked that they would not do it.

So the judgment of God set in throughout the camp of Israel. The Lord would not put up with sin. Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were among the thirty thousand dead, just as the Lord had spoken. The man of Benjamin, having torn clothing and dirt on his head, ran from the battle line into Shiloh with the terrible news. At this time period in Israel, tearing the clothing and placing dirt on the head was a sign of deep sorrow.

Although tragic circumstances occurred in the lives of the people in Israel, we need to learn from their experiences. Notice how God used the Philistines to discipline His people for their sin. Although God used them as a thorn to Israel, He used evil for good. In the same way, God will allow evil in our lives for good. The Lord will discipline a person who has strayed away from His presence to bring them back to Himself––to be governed by His lordship.

Do you have a false concept of God? God is our Father and we are His sons and daughters. When He chastises us, it is because He loves us.

Any chastisement that ever reaches us comes for our profit, that we might be partakers of God's holiness.
~Donald Grey Barnhouse~

FRIDAY November 2, 2018

Devastating Defeat

So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent. There was a very great slaughter, and there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. Also the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

1 Samuel 4:10-11

Israel did not learn their lessons. They went out to battle, but God was not with them. Previously, four thousand men of the army in the field died, but as the judgment of God began to roll through the camp, thirty thousand died, including Eli’s two sons––incredible.

David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba was serious. David and his family suffered the terrible consequences. He sincerely repented of his sin (Psalm 51). When David willfully numbered the people, the consequences were even worse. David once more recognized his sin:

And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O LORD, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly” (2 Samuel 24:10).

When God gave David three choices for the consequences of his sin (2 Samuel 24:11-14), he fell on the mercy of God, rather than into the hands of his enemies. His sin of numbering the people cost the lives of seventy thousand men: So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel from the morning till the appointed time. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men of the people died (2 Samuel 24:15).

We need to learn the lessons God is trying to teach us. Making a willful choice to sin is very foolish. Understand, the consequences of sin will not only affect your life, but it will hurt those in your family, and the lives of many other people around you.

Sin is three-dimensional and has consequences in three directions: toward God, toward self and toward society. It alienates from God, degrades self and injures others.
~A.W. Tozer~

THURSDAY November 1, 2018

Spiritual Warfare

“Be strong and conduct yourselves like men, you Philistines, that you do not become servants of the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Conduct yourselves like men, and fight!”

1 Samuel 4:9

The Philistines were given a stirring speech––a pep talk. Despite the knowledge of Israel’s God and His mighty acts, they were determined not to become servants of the Hebrews. They would rally together and fight against them. Yet it should have been God’s people who were ready to defeat their enemies––sad.

As Christians, we must fight the good fight––a spiritual warfare. The Apostle Paul gave an inspiring letter to motivate young Timothy:

But you, O man of God, flee these things [greediness, desire for riches, and lusts] and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:11-12).

Paul gave another exhortation to the Corinthian Christians: Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV). In the book of Ephesians, Paul, in all seriousness, wanted Christians to be ready to fight a spiritual warfare:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:10-11).

Seriously, are you prepared to fight the good fight? As Christians, we need to be daily in the Word, in prayer and in fellowship with other believers. We must pursue God and have Him at the center of our lives. To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love.
~A. W. Tozer~

WEDNESDAY October 31, 2018

Camp Jubilee

Blessed be the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle—

Psalm 144:1

King David was a man of war. God had trained his hands for war from the time he was a humble shepherd boy. He protected the sheep and killed lions and bears. He fought against Goliath, the Philistine giant (1 Samuel 17:34-37; 49).

God had anointed David to become the next King of Israel. David ran from King Saul who persecuted David relentlessly. Saul was troubled with an evil spirit and jealousy, but David would not raise a hand against him. Through David’s struggles, God was his Rock. The Lord had not only taught David to fight a physical battle, but a spiritual battle.

Today, at Calvary Chapel Golden Springs, we celebrate Camp Jubilee!

It is a day to lift up the name of the Lord of Hosts and to celebrate the saints of old. We remember the victories of David and the stories of Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What of Moses, Joseph, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Elijah, Barak, Deborah and Samson? These Bible stories are amazing, and they should be rehearsed to our children. Camp Jubilee celebrates how God used their lives in the many victories of the LORD of Hosts.

As our children learn the stories of the Bible, they will understand that God is their Rock. They need to be trained to fight a spiritual battle against a spiritual enemy. Like the saints of old, are you and your children ready to engage the enemy in a spiritual battle?

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
~Ephesians 6:12~

TUESDAY October 30, 2018

God is in the Camp

So the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp!” And they said, “Woe to us! For such a thing has never happened before. Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.”

1 Samuel 4:7-8

Notice how Israel’s enemies––the Philistines––were more conscious of God than His people! The Philistines recognized the mighty acts of God done in the past, in Egypt, and became afraid.

The Egyptian Pharaoh would not let God’s people go. So the Lord sent ten plagues on the land Egypt. The water became blood. Frogs, lice, flies and locusts covered the land. God sent a pestilence that killed many of their livestock. The Egyptian people were plagued with boils. Heavy hail rained down, and God brought an eerie darkness upon Egypt––darkness so dense it could be felt. Still Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the Hebrews go. Finally, the Lord brought a tenth plague––all the firstborn in the land of Egypt died. God delivered His people, and Pharaoh’s army, who pursued them into the wilderness, drowned in the Red Sea (Exodus 7-14).

The Philistines rejoiced in their false gods because of the victory they had won over Israel, until the Ark of the Covenant came into Israel’s camp. They believed God, who did wonders in Egypt, would crush them in defeat. Yet the power of God was not among Israel.

Seriously, the enemy knows the power of God within our lives, but we are too busy trying to go out to battle without seeking the Lord or listening to Him. We get defeated. The enemy is speaking about everything God has done in our lives, but yet we do not recognize His voice calling us to repentance. Is the door to defeat open in your life?

Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious. Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power, Your enemies shall submit themselves to You.”
~Psalm 66:1-3~

MONDAY October 29, 2018

The Shout of War

And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook. Now when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, “What does the sound of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” Then they understood that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp.

1 Samuel 4:5-6

Notice, there was a loud, emotional shout from within the camp of Israel. The Ark of the Covenant was now in the midst of them; surely they would defeat the Philistines in the next battle, but God was not with them. Israel was so excited, but God would bring their hypocrisy to an end.

I think of how many people become moved emotionally to worship the Lord; they get excited by the music. True worship has to come from the heart––in spirit and in truth. It brings the people into God’s holy presence. Before the message is given by the pastor, worship prepares the people’s hearts to receive from God’s Word.

Yet some people in the congregation will raise their hands to worship the Lord, but their hands are filled with sin. They want the blessings of God without true repentance. No way! One thing God will not stand for is hypocrisy and sin. You may continue in your sin a little or a long time, but if you do not repent, the time will come when your road ends. You see, God desires to use your life, but He will also put a stop to your hypocrisy.

Jesus sat at a well and spoke to a Samaritan woman. He explained to her: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Even though her life was sinful, she had a pretense of worshiping the Lord (John 4:16-19). It is important to daily examine your life before the Lord to see if there is any unrepentant sin or hypocrisy. Is your worship sincere, from the heart, in spirit and in truth?

Without the heart it is no worship. It is a stage play. It is an acting of a part without being that person, really. It is playing the hypocrite.
~Stephen Charnock~

SUNDAY October 28, 2018

The Ark of the Covenant

So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

1 Samuel 4:4

Instead of listening to what God was trying to tell them, Israel believed the Ark of the Covenant was going to help them in the battle against the Philistines. Imagine, they had just become religious. They no longer had a personal relationship with the Lord; instead, they were trusting in religion. Israel should have turned to God and repented; they should have said, “We have done wrong.” They did not do that––sad.

Notice those who were given the responsibility of handling the things of God––the Ark of the Covenant. Eli’s wicked sons, Hophni and Phinehas! They were in obvious sin––taking the sacrifices from the people, and lying sexually with the women in the tabernacle––and, yet, these evil men were involved in managing the holy things of God.

Think of how many people have become religious instead of having a personal relationship with God. They trust in their religious relics and do not trust in God. People need to focus on what God is trying to tell them through His Word so He can minister to them. Otherwise, they will find themselves in trouble. Find a quiet place to spend alone-time with God. As you humble yourself before God, laying aside your pride, pray about the areas you are struggling with in your life.

Those like the sons of Eli should never be in the ministry; it is dangerous. They will destroy the ministry. God is looking for humble men and women, those full of the Holy Spirit, having a good character, to serve in the ministry.

I am one of those who do not think that the beauty of holiness consists in beauty but rather in holiness, in that holiness which is God and which comes from God and in which alone there is strength to live
and work and pray.

~John R. De Witt~

SATURDAY October 27, 2018

An Unexpected Defeat

And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies.”

1 Samuel 4:3

God intended for the children of Israel to be defeated. He wanted to teach them a good lesson––without God they could not do anything. Every time Israel did not depend upon God, He allowed something to happen to them to draw their attention back on Him until they sought the LORD with their whole hearts.

The Philistines were encouraged because they had already defeated Israel in the first battle, but God’s people were left confounded. Instead of seeking the LORD, the elders of Israel asked: “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines?” They were angry at God and blamed Him for the defeat. God’s people were not sensitive to the Lord. They should have known the reason for the defeat and, in humility, repented.

Israel believed that the Ark of the Covenant could be used as an escape from their enemies. The Ark of the Covenant was never intended to be a relic to be worshipped; it represented God’s presence among His people.

We can learn so much from God’s people in the Old Testament. God wants us to seek Him with all of our hearts, not only in the big battles of life, but also in the small battles. There are the little foxes––sins that can creep into our lives. We need to stay alert and vigilant against sin.

When we get ourselves into big problems, understand, it is not God’s doing––it is our own doing. God has given to us discernment and wisdom. We should be able to recognize why we have been defeated. Can you see the reason why you were caught in a snare and became entrapped? Why not examine your life today? The problem is often you, not God.

We have many leaders into temptation, but it is
our fault if we follow them.

~Thomas Adams~

FRIDAY October 26, 2018

Trust in God

Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines, and encamped beside Ebenezer; and the Philistines encamped in Aphek. Then the Philistines put themselves in battle array against Israel.

1 Samuel 4:1-2

God was dealing with the people of Israel. They had not placed their trust in Him, but in a relic––the Ark of God. So the Lord was going to take away the object of their trust.

In the same way, God has to deal with our lives. We have our trust in people or things, but God wants us to place our eyes on Him––to trust Him in everything He does in our lives. In everything we do for the Lord, we need to continually seek Him. We need to pray about everything we do for the Lord, otherwise it can become a snare instead of a blessing.

God gave the children of Israel a blessing––the Promised Land. When Israel went out to battle against their enemies, they proceeded without seeking the Lord. They took no counsel from Him. It was the same with Joshua. Israel was tricked into making a treaty with the Gibeonites who were afraid of them: But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors (Joshua 9:3-4).

These men from Gibeon dressed in very old clothing and took with them spoiled supplies as if they had been on a very long journey. The Gibeonites asked Israel to make a covenant with them. Joshua and the men of Israel trusted in their own wisdom: Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the LORD. So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live… (Joshua 9:14-15). Later, Joshua discovered their deception, and due to his promise, they were not killed (Joshua 9:16-27).

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~

THURSDAY October 25, 2018

God’s Prophet Established

So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the LORD. Then the LORD appeared again in Shiloh. For the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

1 Samuel 3:19-21

God was with Samuel; He did not let any of His words fall––fail. God began to spread His Word in the land of Israel. It had traveled about 150 miles from Dan to Beersheba. Samuel was promoted by the Lord; he had not promoted himself. Samuel was just growing in the Lord, and God began doing a tremendous work in his life. Everyone knew and recognized that God had called Samuel to become His prophet.

The term, by the word of the Lord, was used every time God called someone to become one of His prophets. It was always by the word of the Lord that a prophet was given God’s message to be shared with others. God always instructed the prophets that they were to take God’s word––His message––to His people. Why? God loves the people.

The same is with all of us. God loves us. He has given to us His Word. Remember, Jesus prayed and said to the Father:

“For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me” (John 17:8).

Moses spoke of a coming Prophet. Jesus is God’s Prophet. Have you listened and heeded His Gospel message?

"Moses said, 'The Lord God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you.’ ”
~Acts 3:22~

WEDNESDAY October 24, 2018

God’s Judgment Revealed

And he said, “What is the word that the LORD spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the things that He said to you.” Then Samuel told him everything, and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.”

1 Samuel 3:17-18

Eli recognized something was wrong, so he questioned Samuel. He wanted to know what the Lord had said to him. The Lord was no longer speaking to Eli, but he knew God was now speaking to Samuel. Perhaps Eli thought God was going to send a blessing?

Eli had come to a place in his life where he became so callous. What was God trying to tell him to do? What was God looking for in Eli’s life? Repentance! Notice that when Samuel told Eli the bad news, we see once more Eli’s poor character. He still had no repentance; instead, he had an indifferent attitude, “Oh well, whatever happens––happens.” Sad!

How many times do people come to the same place and attitude in their lives as Eli? Have you ever thought, “Oh well, whatever happens, will happen? I will take God’s judgment like a man!” Have you failed to repent before the Lord? Understand, God will try to get your attention and speak to your heart. Make sure you do not let your heart grow callous; you need to listen and repent while there is still time.

Never put off repentance. Remember you are never guaranteed tomorrow––think about it.

What insanity is it that persuades multitudes to defer the effort to repent till their death-beds? Do they imagine that when they are so weak that they can no longer turn their bodies they will have strength to turn their souls from sin? Far sooner could they turn themselves
back to perfect physical health.

~A. W. Pink~

TUESDAY October 23, 2018

Obedience

So Samuel lay down until morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision. Then Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son!” He answered, “Here I am.”

1 Samuel 3:15-16

Eli the priest failed to hear the warnings of God, until finally he found himself placed on the shelf––unusable. God could no longer use his life. Eli never disciplined his sons; he should have taken care of it. What happened? From the time the prophecy was given, God’s judgment fell on his entire family. Eli and his sons would all die, and no one left in his family would come into the priesthood. What a terrible curse! Eli suffered great consequences for knowing about his sons’ sins, and yet, doing nothing.

It is possible as a leader to go through all the motions of serving the Lord, attend Bible studies, and yet come to a place where the home is neglected. If we do not set our priorities straight, it is possible that we too could be removed from the ministry. Paul gave the requirements to be in the ministry to Timothy. One of the requirements is found in 1Timothy 3:4-5, and it stresses the necessity to have your home in order. A leader should be:

…one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)

Notice how Samuel, as a young child, was obedient. He had to go and tell Eli the priest that God was going to bring His judgment. When God speaks to us, we must speak; we must not be afraid of man. The Bible says: The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe (Proverbs 29:25). When God prompts you by His Holy Spirit to share His Word with others, He will give you the Words to say.

“For you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,” says the LORD.
~Jeremiah 1:7-8~

MONDAY October 22, 2018

Failed Restraint

“For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them. And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

1 Samuel 3:13-14

Notice the reason for God’s judgment on the house of Eli. He knew of the gross sins of his sons in the tabernacle. That was Eli’s sin! They had taken the people’s sacrifices, and they also had sex with the women who were serving the Lord. The Hebrew word for restrain means “rebuke or discipline.” Eli did not take the time to rebuke or discipline his sons. Eli had come to the point in his life where he and his sons had crossed over the line. God pronounced His judgment; their sins were now beyond any atonement.

What lessons can parents today learn through Eli’s sin and failure? Parents must take the time to biblically discipline their children. We have a great responsibility and duty to our children to train them in the ways of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6). Parents are held accountable by the Lord.

Husbands and fathers need to have their homes in order. They need to take the headship. Husbands must love their wives. Fathers must act lovingly towards their children, because if they are too strict, they can often break the character of their children.

A father must be a godly influence in the lives of his children. Fathers are to be living examples––models for their children to follow. It is important to sit down with your children and teach them how to listen to the voice of God. If you have not learned to listen to the voice of God, then how can they learn to listen to the voice of God?

Children will imitate their fathers in their vices,
seldom in their repentanc
e.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

SUNDAY October 21, 2018

Knowing God is at Work

Then the LORD said to Samuel: “Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.”

1 Samuel 3:11-12

Samuel was given a divine message from the Lord. Before this time, Samuel did not speak intimately with God, but now there was fellowship between them. God was speaking to Samuel. He was now a prophet for the Lord.

At this time in Israel’s history, there was a spiritual change. God had spoken a prophecy concerning Eli’s house––his family lineage. It would cause a tingle or a ringing in the ears of the people in Israel. The word translated tingle is a Hebrew expression. If someone stood by you and cupped their hands and made a loud noise next to your ear, it would cause your inner ear to ring. This expression was tremendous, because in Israel there was nothing spiritually happening––no spiritual discernment or His people receiving the Word of God.

Within God’s prophecy given to Samuel was the promise to remove all of Eli’s family from the priesthood. From the time this prophecy was given to Samuel; it took many years for it to be fulfilled in the kingdom but God made sure the prophecy was understood in Israel.

It is important to understand that biblical prophecy––which is the gift of foresight, the ability to predict, declare or give a description of something happening in the future––has been given in the past, for the present, and also for the future.

We all delight in hearing God's voice in words of forgiveness and comfort. But are we willing to hear His voice in unvarnished truth and naked honesty? "Speak, for your servant is listening" or are we?
~A. W. Tozer~

SATURDAY October 20, 2018

Speak, Your Servant Hears!

Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”

1 Samuel 3:10

In this verse the Lord called Samuel’s name twice, and Samuel immediately responded, “Speak, for Your servant hears!” Notice how Samuel reverenced the holiness of God and was ready to hear the Lord speak. Samuel opened his heart to the Lord and received His calling and His commission. Samuel was ready to be sent.

Leaders should be good listeners. They need to hear God’s voice, but they also need to listen to people. Sometimes, as they minister to others, they talk too much. It is really easy for them to talk at length without giving an opportunity for the other person to speak. They should listen to them and be ready to hear what the other person has to say.

It is also important for leaders to be approachable. They are to have the heart of a servant and be available to minister to the people. At times, leaders can have a problem with pride. They get to a place where they think they have arrived and know it all. If you are a leader, be careful; pride can sneak into your life and make your heart callous.

Leaders need to remain teachable. They must be able to learn from what other people have to say. They may fail to receive from different teachers the Lord is using, and they become critical. Honestly, it does not matter who is speaking. Why? It is the Word of God, and God’s Word never comes back void. What is important is to hear God’s voice through the message. When you listen to a message, you should hear what the Lord is saying to you and what you need to apply to your own life––bottom line.

Lord, there seem to be a thousand voices calling to me in this world. Help me to discern Your voice above them all and obediently listen!
~A. W. Tozer~

FRIDAY October 19, 2018

A Servant Who Hears

And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD had called the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

1 Samuel 3:8-9

Notice, God was speaking to Samuel, but why was He not speaking to Eli? How do you think Eli felt after hearing God’s voice for most of his life, and then God was not speaking to him? Eli was too weak to become jealous; he knew why God was no longer speaking to him. It was because of his disobedience. In his life, Eli had no godly character left anymore; he was a poor father and, in the eyes of God, a poor priest.

Eli now recognized that God was speaking to Samuel, and he gave the young boy instructions on what to do. How did Eli know what to do? He was experienced. Eli had once heard the voice of God for himself. God was now beginning to prepare Samuel. God was already looking ahead. Samuel could not look ahead, but the Lord could.

In the future, God would raise up Saul as king. He was the people’s choice, not God’s choice as a leader. God would reject Saul as King because of his disobedience. David, a man after God’s own heart, would become king. Later, King Saul, out of jealousy, would persecute David and try to kill him. David would never raise his hand against Saul. God saw ahead and placed Samuel as a prophet.

Samuel never became jealous of Saul or David in his life. He accepted his position in the kingdom––as a prophet and not as a king.

The Bible reveals the Father’s overall plan for the world and provides general guidelines for life. But how can we know His specific plans for us? Listening to God is essential to walking with God.
~Charles Stanley~

THURSDAY October 18, 2018

Knowing the Lord

Then the LORD called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” He answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” (Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him.)

1 Samuel 3:6-7

Eli was frustrated with Samuel; he had woken him from sleep twice. Eli told him again, “Go back to sleep.” Samuel was a godly child serving the Lord in the tabernacle, but he did not know God in an intimate way.

It is kind of like the sinful woman of Samaria had knowledge of God, but did she really know Him personally? As Jesus engaged in a conversation with her, He revealed that He knew how she was living a sinful life:

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “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 4:16-18).

Although she spoke religiously and talked about worshipping the Lord, slowly she perceived who He was––the Christ, the One who knows all things. Her eyes were opened, and she shared the good news with all the people in the city (John 4:19-26, 28).

Many people come to church and say they know God, but do they really? Do they only have knowledge about Him, or do they really know Him personally? Being religious is very different from having a personal relationship with the Lord. God loves people, He knows all about their lives, and He desires a personal relationship with them.

What about you individually, have you become a true Christian? Ask the Lord to forgive you of your sins, and accept Him as your Lord and Savior, so that you can have a personal relationship with Him.

We aren’t only called to become Christians; we are called to be Christians. Most of us know about God, but that is
quite different from knowing God.

~Billy Graham~

WEDNESDAY October 17, 2018

Hearing God’s Voice

…the LORD called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!” So he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” And he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” And he went and lay down.

1 Samuel 3:4-5

Can you imagine how Samuel felt when he heard a voice call to him? He did not know Jehovah God or discern His voice. He was just a child, and thought it was Eli the priest, but the whole time it was the Lord. Samuel respected Eli, he never spoke against him. Did you notice the willingness of this young boy? He jumped up out of bed because he was so eager to do anything in the tabernacle.

Samuel had a great attitude, but Eli told Samuel he was hearing things and to lie back down. I believe the reason God would continue to call Samuel was because He was training him to hear His voice––to discern. He was teaching Samuel to tune in––so He could teach him who He was. God was stirring up his heart.

Seriously, today’s teenagers do not even want to get up out of bed! This is a good lesson for kids. Also, as believers, there are many voices that we can hear today, but do we recognize the voice of God? That is the most important thing––especially as leaders. If we do not know the voice of God, we are in deep trouble.

Leaders have a great responsibility to be tuned in to the right voice, especially when there are so many needs in the ministry before us. It is very important not to get caught up in our own little worlds. If you are in tune with God in the ministry, He will use you to help others, and then you will be a super-blessed saint.

The Bible speaks to you in the very tones of God’s voice.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

TUESDAY October 16, 2018

God’s Calling Recognized

And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see, and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the LORD where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, that the LORD called Samuel…

1 Samuel 3:2-4

Eli was very old, a heavy man, and he could hardly see. As a father, he was weak; he had no power to discipline his sons. He also had no power with God. Therefore, Eli had lost his authority to do anything because of his compromised life. Eli was told by a man of God a prophecy that his generation would be cut off (I Samuel 2:23).

God, in His sovereignty, raised up a new person––Samuel. He was going to do a brand new work through him. Samuel was in the tabernacle serving the Lord by taking care of sweeping and cleaning. In the mornings, he was the one who opened the doors of the house of the Lord (1 Samuel 3:15).

Samuel went to sleep, and all of a sudden, God called to Samuel while he was still sleeping. Samuel was only a young boy, and he did not yet know the Lord personally. He did not understand what was going on, or what God had planned for his life. God came to him that night because he had placed a call on his life. The Lord would call to Samuel four different times!

How many times has God called you? It may not be once or twice; He may call to you four times or more! Why? I believe God will call to you until you recognize who God is.

How delightful are God’s ways and the going forth of His will. Not by might nor by power, neither by native ability nor by training are men made apostles, but by God’s effectual calling.
~A.W. Tozer~

MONDAY October 15, 2018

A Submitted Life

Now the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.

1 Samuel 3:1

Remember, Israel at this time was not seeking the Lord. They had the same philosophy as in Judges 17:6: …everyone did what was right in his own eyes. God saw that the nation of Israel no longer wanted Him to reign and rule over them. There was no revival going on; everything was spiritually dead. It was just like today. Many countries are spiritually dead. In England there are massive cathedrals with only twenty-five people gathered to worship.

At this time in the nation of Israel, God needed a man––someone after His heart. He chose Samuel. Hannah, Samuel’s mother, had made a promise to dedicate her son to the Lord. After she weaned him, she took him to the tabernacle and left him there. In obedience, he began to submit his life to the Lord. The heart of Samuel was in tune with the heart of God. The Lord began to call to him, even though at first he did not have any spiritual discernment or recognize God’s voice. God, in his sovereignty, had chosen Samuel to be a prophet to the people.

This lesson is good for teenagers. It is important for them to know that God can call them right from the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). I believe, by God’s sovereignty, He calls to everyone because He is not willing that anyone should perish (John 3:16). However, once a person reaches the age of accountability, they have a choice whether or not to accept the Lord.

Like Samuel, as a young adult, if you become submissive to the Lord, you will begin to enjoy doing God’s will because the people will be blessed. You will make a difference to the world because you are the salt of the earth––called for a major purpose in the time we are living in.

God brings about reformation when his people return to the Word of God as their sole source of doctrine and practice.
~John H. Armstrong~

SUNDAY October 14, 2018

Priestly Duties

“ ‘And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left in your house will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and say, ‘Please, put me in one of the priestly positions, that I may eat a piece of bread.” ’ ”

1 Samuel 2:36

Eli’s life, as a high priest, was to be consecrated, but his life and his son’s lives became corrupt––this earthly, priestly line failed. The man of God, who prophesied, spoke of Eli’s priesthood ending. Understand that the priests who served the Lord in the tabernacle received a portion of the sacrifice for their provision. Yet in the future, all position and provision, sought after by those in Eli’s family line, would cease.

In the tabernacle at Shiloh, in the Holy Place, was placed the golden lampstand––the Menorah. There were no candles, but little cups that were kept filled with oil. One of the priestly duties was to make sure the light burned constantly every day––it could not go out. The oil was symbolic of the Holy Spirit. The seven branches creating the lampstand were later used as a picture of the seven churches that Jesus Christ spoke about in Revelations 1:4; 2.

Then in the Holy of Holies, separated by a thick veil, was the ark of God. The ark of God speaks of God’s presence in the midst of His people. Once a year, only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement––Yom Kippur. The high priest would place the blood of the animal sacrifice into a basin and then sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat––the golden lid where two cherubim’s faced each other––to be a covering for the sins of the people.

Understand, the high priest’s life needed to be kept consecrated to the Lord; otherwise, in the presence of a holy God, he could be killed. Do you have a consecrated life? Do you realize that in the kingdom of God we shall be made kings and priests? Think about that!

To Him [Jesus] who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
~Revelation 1:5-6~

SATURDAY October 13, 2018

Faithful Priest

“ ‘Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever.’ ”

1 Samuel 2:35

Imagine, God sent a man of God to deliver a message of judgment that would come on the household of Eli the priest. Eli’s priestly line would come to an end. However, within this prophecy was the proclamation of a new priesthood––the priesthood of Jesus Christ, the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. This priesthood would be an everlasting priesthood (Hebrews 7).

Jesus Christ has become the mediator between a holy God and sinners:

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

There are many people who fail to see and understand that Christ is our High Priest. The Scriptures point us to Christ as being the only acceptable sacrifice for our sins when He died on the Cross (Hebrews 10:11-14). No other earthly priest can take away our sins. Jesus died and rose from the dead. He passed into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us (Romans 8:34).

Only Jesus Christ can forgive us of our sins. Are you burdened with guilt and sin? Do you know Jesus Christ as your High Priest? He alone can forgive you and give you the hope of eternal life (John 3:16).

For it was fitting for us to have such a High Priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens...
~Hebrews 7:26 NASB~

THURSDAY October 11, 2018

The Goodness of God

“ ‘Behold, the days are coming that I will cut off your arm and the arm of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. And you will see an enemy in My dwelling place, despite all the good which God does for Israel. And there shall not be an old man in your house forever.’ ”

1 Samuel 2:31-32

Eli and his sons did not honor the Lord; there was no true repentance and no fear of God. Eli’s ministry as a priest was going to be over. God’s judgment would come, and the tribe of Levi was going to be cut off––it was enough––no more!

Despite the judgment foretold to Eli by the man of God, I noticed within these verses the goodness of God mentioned. The Lord had been good to Israel, but they, too, as a nation, would suffer the tremendous consequences of their disobedience. Psalm 73:1 confirms to us God’s goodness towards His people: Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart.

God’s character is good. King David, a man after God’s own heart, also experienced the goodness of God. He was sure that the goodness of God would follow him all the days of his life (Psalm 23:6). In Psalm 34:8-10, David encouraged people to know the goodness of God:

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.

Have you tasted and seen that the LORD is good? Continue to seek the LORD and He will give to you His goodness.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory;
no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

~Psalm 84:11~

WEDNESDAY October 10, 2018

Honor God or Despise Him?

“Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.’ ”

1 Samuel 2:30

Eli’s sons’ actions did not honor God in the tabernacle; their wickedness showed they despised Him. Eli’s sons were given the opportunity to know and serve God in the tabernacle, but they did not know the Lord. They were called “sons of Belial,” which meant they were worthless, evil, wicked and ungodly men (1 Samuel 2:12 KJV).

We are all given the opportunity to know God and serve Him. In our lives we must choose to honor God. In heaven God is honored by those who cast their crowns at his feet, saying: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelations 4:11).

How can we honor God? Proverbs 3:9-10 tells us to: Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine. In Malachi 3:10 the Lord promises a blessing to all those who obediently honor Him with their tithing:

“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.”

Do you faithfully honor God in your tithing, giving to Him from all He has blessed you with? 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV tells us: Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you…? Therefore honor God with your bodies. How are you honoring the Lord today?

We owe God every honor that is in our power to give Him. Our everlasting grief lies in giving Him anything less.
~A. W. Tozer~

TUESDAY October 9, 2018

Sin in God’s Dwelling Place

“ ‘Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?’ ”

1 Samuel 2:29

Notice, the man of God had delivered a serious rebuke to Eli the priest. He was guilty of honoring his sons above honoring God. Eli’s sons were ripping off the people and having sex with women inside the tabernacle. He did not put a stop to their wicked behavior, so he had become a part of the problem. Eli had become a respecter of persons, and the priesthood was corrupt because of this; he was as guilty as his sons.

Eli was the high priest of Shiloh, but his sons did not know the Lord. They were corrupt. This was a sad testimony for me to read in the Bible. As the high priest, Eli was busy with his ministry. Every day he was a man very involved with the lives of other people. He would light the seven oil lamps in the inner chamber––the Holy Place. He daily did the work of God, but sadly he never took the time for his home.

In Israel, the people would bring their meat sacrifices to the tabernacle, and only a designated portion could be kept for the priests to eat. However, Eli’s sons threatened the people and forcefully took what did not belong to them, from the people. The people’s free will offerings to God were stolen. Eli’s sons just took them. Before God it was a serious offense (Leviticus 17).

We cannot honor our children above the Lord. It is a parent’s duty to correct and minister to their children when they are misbehaving, especially if you are involved in ministry. Will you allow sin to be brought into the house of the Lord? As Christians, we are held to a higher standard of life. We need accountability and even church discipline.

The principle use of public discipline is not for the offender himself, but for the Church, It exceedingly tends to deter others from the like crimes, and so to keep the congregation and their worship pure...
~Richard Baxter~

MONDAY October 8, 2018

Offerings Made by Fire

“ ‘Did I not choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be My priest, to offer upon My altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod before Me? And did I not give to the house of your father all the offerings of the children of Israel made by fire?’ ”

1 Samuel 2:28

Even though Eli came from the chosen, priestly lineage of Levi, going back generations to Aaron, Moses’ brother, God’s judgment was coming upon his household. Eli’s sons refused to listen to their father, and they did not know the Lord. God is a just God. In Isaiah 61:8, the prophet Isaiah reveals the Lord’s character to us: “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will direct their work in truth, and will make with them an everlasting covenant.”

God directed Moses to establish the priesthood though his brother Aaron. He had two sons Nadab and Abihu. They offered profane fire before the Lord––an offering they were not commanded to do. What happened? In Leviticus 10:2, God judged them: So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

Moses gave the reason to his brother Aaron why God devoured them: “By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.” Aaron, as a high priest, understood and held his peace. I believe there is a lack of the fear of the Lord among the people in churches today. Even though we are now under grace, we must never forget our God is a holy God, and our lives must glorify Him.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Peter confronted Ananias when he and his wife Sapphira lied about the true amount of their offerings given to the Lord. What happened to them both? Ananias, fell down and breathed his last. Then Sapphira, …fell down at his feet and breathed her last. Peter gave them an opportunity to tell the truth but there was no true repentance (Acts 5:1-11).

For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who
do not obey the gospel of God?

~1 Peter 4:17~

SUNDAY October 7, 2018

Discipline Your Children

Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Did I not clearly reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house?’ ”

1 Samuel 2:27

Now Eli’s sons were not growing in the Lord like Samuel. They were going away from the Lord. They had nothing spiritual in their lives. What was the weakness of Eli? He did not take the time to discipline his children. Eli could not control his family. Yet these were the leaders of God’s people! The Lord intervened in the absence of repentance and sent a man of God, a title given to a nameless prophet, to pronounce His judgment.

Today, how many children are lacking discipline in their homes? The Bible has much to say about the discipline of children; we only need to read the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 13:24 gives godly parents this advice: He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly. As parents, we need to do our best to discipline our children in love, while they are young.

I do believe in spanking. However, I do not think that when a child becomes of age, they should be spanked. They should be punished in other ways. As long as a child lives in your home, you should do your best to correct them, so that they will follow in the ways of the Lord.

There are some parents who cannot control their children; they are afraid––timid. There are children who will throw a fit if they cannot get their way. They will throw dishes and scream until they get their own way. I have seen parents who become afraid when a child gives them a dirty look. What if a child is taking drugs and becomes aggressive? Parents may have to call the police; then they will learn their lesson and change their attitude. Minister to them, apply discipline, and let them learn.

Children respect discipline. They want to be guided. It gives them a sense of belonging, a sense of security.
~Billy Graham~

SATURDAY October 6, 2018

Growing in the Lord

And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the LORD and men.

1 Samuel 2:26

Samuel was called by God. He grew, he developed, matured and became wise. The Lord acknowledged Samuel as if to say––that is my child. He had anointed him and called him to become a prophet in Israel.

How do we really know God has called us? I remember when the Lord called me, I did not hear an audible voice, and there was no lightning from the sky. I was sitting with the Lord, not really knowing how to read the Bible. I was a heathen for so many years, and I was ignorant of the Scriptures. I did not know the stories of the Bible––Moses, Daniel or Samson. So I opened the Bible and just began to read. Then as I began to place the pieces together like a puzzle, the puzzle came together for my own life.

Before I became a believer in Christ, I would look at people and children and felt nothing; but now as a Christian, there is a tugging in my heart––I hurt for them. I began to see people very differently. I saw people without Christ––lost and going to hell. It was as if scales had fallen from off my eyes, and I had a brand new picture of those around me. People were hurting and crying out; they had no direction in life.

The woman of Samaria shared Christ with the people of the city, and they all came to see Him for themselves. Jesus then said to His disciples: “…look at the fields for they are already white for the harvest!” (John 4:35). People were coming to know and receive Jesus as the Christ. Understand that when God begins to put a call on your life, it is because He sees a need in the world. You are His disciple. He will anoint you for His work. What field has God called you to do His work in?

“The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
~Matthew 9:37-38~

FRIDAY October 5, 2018

God’s Judgment

“No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the LORD’s people transgress. If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?” Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them.

1 Samuel 2:24-25

When anyone sins against another person, the situation can be resolved––God will judge. But when anyone sins against the LORD, who will intercede for them? Notice the seriousness of Eli’s sons’ sins, they would not listen to their father’s rebuke, and, worst still, they were far from listening to God. Judgment was coming––big time.

Eli should have done the right thing and removed his sons from their priestly positions in the tabernacle. Although he rebuked them, he did nothing to change the situation. He allowed them to continue to do whatever they wanted. Now God was going to remove them from the world. The situation would come to an end––they would die.

When I read what happened to Eli’s sons, it breaks my heart––it is so sad. His sons could have been used by the Lord, but they were killed by the LORD. It was a result of their father’s negligence. Think of how many homes today are messed up because the father has neglected to take the leadership of the home. The children are doing what they want to do. So many fathers fail in the area of spiritual leadership––sad.

Understand that when it comes time to disciplining your children, you still have to be loving, kind and moderate. Fathers need to be firm, but also give children the space to breathe. Talk to them and minister to them in love. Remember, there should be a balance when disciplining your children.

Rebellion, waywardness, lack of discipline, confusion, and conflict prevent happy relationships within the home. But God is interested in your family, your marriage, your children. He shows us the ideals and the goals for the family.
~Billy Graham~

THURSDAY October 4, 2018

Lack of Spiritual Leadership

Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people.”

1 Samuel 2:22-23

Notice the seriousness of the sin of Eli’s sons; they not only abhorred the sacrifices, but they were having sex with the women who cleaned outside the tabernacle. Eli’s sons were guilty of seducing the women who served the Lord. Notice, Eli did not really discipline his sons; he just talked to them. What were they doing still working in the house of the Lord? Eli should have kicked them out! He let them continue to sin when they should have been removed from their priestly positions.

In the Bible, we find other men who were weak in the area of disciplining their children. Even though King David was a strong leader, he was not a good disciplinarian. His sons caused havoc in his kingdom. Amnon lay with his sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-14). In revenge, Absalom killed his brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13:23-29), and later, in rebellion and pride, Absalom took over the throne of David and raped his father’s ten concubines (2 Samuel 16:20-22).

It is important for you as a father to be the spiritual leader in the home. It is good to be a strong leader as a father, but remain balanced in your discipline of your children. As you correct your children, teach them to check their hearts before the Lord. Read the Proverbs to them! Remember, as a father, you have to set a good pattern of leadership for them to follow. Then they have to make a final decision on who they will serve (Joshua 24:15).

There is no such thing as a self-made spiritual leader. He is able to influence others spiritually only because the Spirit is able to work in and through him to a greater degree than in those he leads.
~Oswald Sanders~

WEDNESDAY October 3, 2018

Blessings of Godly Heritage

And Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “The LORD give you descendants from this woman for the loan that was given to the LORD.” Then they would go to their own home. And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile the child Samuel grew before the LORD.

1 Samuel 2:20-21

Notice the marked contrast between Eli’s household and Elkanah’s household. The Lord could not bless Eli’s family because of his sons’ wickedness. However, God was abundantly blessing Elkanah’s family. Hannah had been blessed with three sons and two daughters. Why was God blessing Elkanah and Hannah? They were in God’s perfect will; they had lent Samuel to serve the Lord. They had done everything God had called them to do.

God desires to also bless our homes and the lives of our children. Think on Psalm 127:3-5. Notice what is said about our children:

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; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Our sons and daughters are gifts from the Lord, and we are given the responsibility to direct and guide them. Children trained in the ways of the Lord will be able to engage in spiritual warfare. Wherever God sends them and in whatever position they are given, they will be effective leaders.

However, Proverbs 17:25 tells us: A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him. Also Proverbs 19:13 states: A foolish son is the ruin of his father…

If our children grow up with no understanding of right and wrong … no desire to live with integrity … no faith in God … their souls will be impoverished and they will miss life’s highest good.
~Billy Graham~

TUESDAY October 2, 2018

Blessings of a Godly Mother

Moreover his mother used to make him a little robe, and bring it to him year by year when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.

1 Samuel 2:19

Hannah’s godly character as a mother is seen as she continued to help supply Samuel’s needs when he served the Lord in the tabernacle. She watched over him. Hannah had an important ministry; it was to take care of the family. Her home was her priority; she took care of her husband and all of her children. Hannah was like the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31, a woman who worked willingly with her hands:

She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar. She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants (Proverbs 31:13-15).

She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet (Proverbs 31:19-21).

She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants. Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come (Proverbs 31:24-25).

As a godly woman, how can you minister to the many needs of your husband and children? Read through Proverbs 31 today and ask the Lord to continue to shape your godly character as you seek to serve your family.

There is no nobler career than that of motherhood at its best. ~Elizabeth Elliot~

MONDAY October 1, 2018

Hirelings

But Samuel ministered before the LORD, even as a child, wearing a linen ephod.

1 Samuel 2:18

In contrast to Eli’s sons, Samuel, who was dedicated to the Lord by his mother Hannah, had a different upbringing. In the tabernacle, Samuel ministered before the Lord. His mother trained him in the ways of the Lord from a young child. Obviously, Eli did not take the time to properly train his sons. Could it be that Eli’s sons became hirelings––just being in the priesthood for the money––as a profession? Tragically, Eli’s sons thought only about themselves and forgot to care about the people. Though Eli failed as a father, his sons ultimately had a choice.

It is so easy to become a hireling in the ministry. You can tell when someone’s heart begins to change because they no longer have a servant’s heart. They are looking to be paid to serve. Those called to

serve in the ministry should never charge money; people should never be motivated to serve for monetary gain. Although God allows people in full time ministry a salary, I believe it should be spent wisely.

In ministry, it is good to keep a check on your motives. For instance, if you never got paid, would you still serve the Lord? Do you desire that people call you by a title? Do you want the recognition? People will reverence those called into the ministry, but you must give the glory to God. In ministry, be blameless before the Lord and the people.

Leaders in the Church have a great responsibility. Think of all the

TV evangelists who have come to the place where they have abhorred the sacrifices of the Lord. When the people are giving willingly to the Lord, some TV evangelists take the best for themselves. From the money given, they buy themselves expensive clothes and beautiful houses to live in, as they take big salaries––sad.

Serve God with integrity, and if you achieve no success, at least no sin will lie upon your conscience.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

SUNDAY September 30, 2018

Set the Standard

And if the man said to him, “They should really burn the fat first; then you may take as much as your heart desires,” he would then answer him, “No, but you must give it now; and if not, I will take it by force.” Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.

1 Samuel 2:16-17

Notice the gravity of the sin of Eli’s sons’ they threatened God’s people and forcefully took from the sacrifices. They thought of themselves first and could not care less for the people. Their sinful behavior caused the people to abhor the offering of the Lord. Eli should have disciplined his sons.

Understand, if you have a young adult living at home, and they do not want to live by the set standards in your home, sit down with them, share the Scriptures, and then pray with them. They need to understand you cannot allow sin to continue in the home. However, you must talk to them in love. Then if they still do not want to obey, and rebel, let them know, “Here is the exit.”

Parents must be like Joshua in the Bible and set godly standards in their homes. Joshua challenged the children of Israel when he said, “…as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). That is why parents must take the time to be with their children––to love and guide them. It is important to build relationships with your children while they are young. As parents, you may be your children’s only godly model to follow.

It is important to build trust in your relationship with your children. As children grow and mature, let them know you understand their desire to be more independent. Allow children to make mistakes. Remember how many times you fail, even as an adult? If they prove themselves to be responsible, you can allow them more freedom.

Parenting is the most important responsibility most of us will ever face, and none of us does it perfectly.
~Billy Graham~

SATURDAY September 29, 2018

Priestly Duties

Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; and the priest would take for himself all that the fleshhook brought up. So they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. Also, before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who sacrificed, “Give meat for roasting to the priest, for he will not take boiled meat from you, but raw.”

1 Samuel 2:14-15

Eli’s life still stands as a warning on what not to do as a father. Look what his sons were doing. They took the meat intended for the sacrifices for themselves. Eli’s sons were in the priesthood, but they were wicked. God would judge them; they would die. Eli was either a poor disciplinarian, or it could be he was too strict with his children when they were young.

I am not an expert in raising children, but I like to share with parents what I have learned over the years. I believe parents should be careful not to be legalistic––living by strict rules and regulations. There needs to be a balance in the home, because if a parent is too strict and rigid, their children will want nothing to do with Christianity. When they are older, they will exit out of the Church.

Think about it––is God like that with us? We do not live by the law. God has given to us His Grace, and yet parents try to keep their children under the law. It is good to give your children enough room to make mistakes, but allow God to minister to them through His Word. Even though they may not want to hear, the Word of God will convict them.

As a father, I did not give my children an hour Bible study. I would share with them God’s Word for about five minutes, and then I would tell them what God desired for their lives––that was it. I let the Lord minister to them. Now I have three boys that have grown to become my friends. We talk about everything––we have a friendship––we love each other.

Parents, pray that God may crown your home with grace and mercy.
~Billy Graham~

FRIDAY September 28, 2018

Do You Know God?

Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the LORD. And the priests’ custom with the people was that when any man offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fleshhook in his hand while the meat was boiling.

1 Samuel 2:12-13

Notice how verse 12 gives to us an important insight into the spiritual condition of the priestly leadership and the nation of Israel. It will be very interesting, as we study 1 Samuel, to compare insights with what is going on in the Church and in America today. As a nation, we have sunk so deep into sin. We are living in a time when so many people do not know the Lord. Seriously, it is a time of apostasy.

How has the condition of the Church affected the nation? I believe it is time for the Church to repent and cry out to the Lord. But are we too spiritually blind to cry out to God? Christians cannot run towards the world and embrace sin. They must stop and make a stand for righteousness. There is far too much compromise with the world. As believers, we cannot do what we think is right in our own eyes.

Imagine what people must think. They will watch, hear and perceive what is happening in the Church, and they will make judgment. Jesus Christ said to the Church of Ephesus:

…I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works... (Revelation 2:4-5).

Examine the spiritual condition of your life. Where do you find yourself today? Have you sunk deep into sin? Is Christ no longer first in your life? Have you lost your first love? Then repent and turn back to the Lord.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
~1 John 1:9~

THURSDAY September 27, 2018

Ministering Before the Lord

Then Elkanah went to his house at Ramah. But the child ministered to the LORD before Eli the priest. Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the LORD.

1 Samuel 2:11-12

In these two verses, there is a clear contrast between of the righteous and the wicked. Young Samuel was righteous. Eli’s sons were wicked. Eli was a Levite, and he had been placed in a position of leadership in the tabernacle by God. Yet he was a faithless priest. Notice what was said about his children––his sons did not know the LORD.

I believe with all my heart there was a reason for Eli’s sons being the way they were. Something may have happened when they were children. Perhaps Eli was busy and did not take the time to train his children in the ways of the Lord, or perhaps he was too strict.

There can be a problem with leaders who get caught up in serving and worshiping God––they can neglect their families and children. The proof is in this chapter. I also believe parents need to be careful not to be like dictators in their homes, but allow their children to make mistakes. Nor should we try to mold them into our image. They should be molded into the image of Jesus Christ––very important.

We learn to be parents as we look at our mistakes that we have made. When God gives us children, we need to be graceful towards them. Understand, children make mistakes. They will rebel, get bad grades, and even get kicked out of school. This is all a part of growing up; there are very few kids who are perfect. My children are not perfect, but I am so blessed by the Lord, because I can see what God has done with my children. They have brought me much joy and happiness.

Children do need the guidance of their parents, and we guide them more by the example we set than by any other way. We need to be firm and sane and fair and consistent––and, above all, we need
to discipline in a spirit of love.
~
Billy Graham~

WEDNESDAY September 26, 2018

God Protects Our Paths

“He will guard the feet of His saints, but the wicked shall be silent in darkness. For by strength no man shall prevail. The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth. He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed.”

1 Samuel 2:9-10

Hannah praised God and proclaimed, “He guards the feet of His saints.” I like that! She trusted God in a very dark time in her life, and through prayer, prevailed over her rival Peninnah. There are many Scriptures that speak about how God protects our feet. He is the One who directs, guides, and protects our path as Christians:

Psalm 18:33 He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places.

Psalm 40:2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.

Psalm 56:13 For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?

Proverbs 3:5-6 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.

Consider these Scriptures. As a Christian, in what place do you find yourself today? Wherever place you find yourself, trust God to take you to higher ground, to deliver you, to keep you ,and to direct your path.

To trust God in the light is nothing, but to trust Him in the dark––that is faith.
~
C.H. Spurgeon~

TUESDAY September 25, 2018

God’s Supremacy

“The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up. The LORD makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap, to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory. For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and He has set the world upon them.”

1 Samuel 2:6-8

Hannah recognized that it was God who puts up one person and puts down another. In Psalm 75:6, we find that promotion comes from the Lord: For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.

In Hannah’s song of thanksgiving and praise, God’s supremacy over the earth is seen. In Deborah’s song, she sings of Israel’s victory over their enemies. Deborah proclaimed God as the Supreme Monarch of the universe––the Lord of Hosts, who fought against King Jabin and his captain Sisera:

The stars from their courses fought against Sisera. The torrent of Kishon swept them away, that ancient torrent, the torrent of Kishon. O my soul, march on in strength! (Judges 5:20-21)

David trusted God with his spirit and earthly life. He wrote: Into your hand I commit my spirit…My times are in your hand… (Psalm 31:5, 15). In our own lives, God is at work. Rest in the truth that your spirit and the time you have here on earth are both in God’s hands.

Nothing in all the vast universe can come to pass otherwise than God has eternally purposed. Here is a foundation of faith. Here is a resting place for the intellect. Here is an anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast. It is not blind fate, unbridled evil, man or Devil, but the Lord Almighty who is ruling the world, ruling it according to His own good pleasure and for His own eternal glory.
~
A.W. Pink~

MONDAY September 24, 2018

God’s Sovereignty

“The bows of the mighty men are broken, and those who stumbled are girded with strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, and the hungry have ceased to hunger. Even the barren has borne seven, and she who has many children has become feeble.”

1 Samuel 2:4-5

Hannah had been blessed with a child, and she praised God for answered prayer. The birth of Samuel gave her so much joy, as much as if she had seven children. Hannah prayed for a child and was blessed to know Samuel was dedicated to God––lent into His service. God had increased Hannah’s position in life, and Penniah’s, had decreased.

In His sovereignty, the Lord lifts up one and puts down another. In the story of Esther, we see God’s sovereign hand at work. Haman was a man full of pride and arrogance. King Ahasuerus had promoted him above all the princes. People bowed to Haman to show him obeisance, but Mordecai, who was a Jew, would not bow to him. Haman’s pride was wounded; he became full of anger, and not only sought to kill Mordecai, but he wanted to annihilate all the Jews in the kingdom (Esther 3).

God, in His sovereignty, used Esther, a beautiful, young orphaned woman, to save His people. Esther was chosen to become the king’s new queen above all the other women who were brought before the king. Hearing the plight of her people, she went before King Ahasuerus and interceded for the lives of her people (Esther 2, 4-5).

Meanwhile, Haman sought to hang Mordecai, but the Lord exalted and honored him. Haman had no knowledge that Esther was Jewish. The Lord humbled Haman, and, in the end, he was hung on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. The Lord in His sovereignty saved Mordecai.

Thank God for His sovereign work in saving your life through Christ.

No matter what season of life you’re in—we all have something to seek God for. But what happens when God is seemingly silent or doesn’t answer a prayer the way we’d like? In these times, it’s important to understand the nature of God, His sovereignty and His love.
~
Billy Graham~

SUNDAY September 23, 2018

Guard Against Pride

“Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth, for the LORD is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed.”

1 Samuel 2:3

Penniah could no longer provoke Hannah and make her miserable. Hannah was no longer barren; she now had a child. The Lord silenced her rival; Penniah could no longer be so proud.

How many times do people, especially in leadership, become arrogant and proud? Seriously, pride can easily be noticed by what words come out of the mouth. Proverbs 16:18 warns against pride: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

As Christians, we need to remain humble, and not proud and arrogant. We must remember, God is the One who works through us to minister to others. It is His anointing in our lives. It is God’s Word that has the power to transform lives––it is nothing of us. Pride is what caused Satan to fall:

“…I [God] destroyed you, O covering cherub… Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground.”

God is omniscient. He has infinite knowledge and understanding. The Bible declares: Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite (Psalms 147:7). The words of the prophet Isaiah challenge us: Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable (Isaiah 40:28).

The LORD is the One who increases our knowledge. Our capacity for spiritual knowledge and wisdom does not come from studying books. When teaching the Word of God to other people, we must be careful to remain simple and not give to them our gained, intellectual knowledge from books. God uses those who remain humble and simple.

All who exalt themselves wage war with God.
~
John Calvin~

SATURDAY September 22, 2018

Is God Your Rock?

“No one is holy like the LORD, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.”

1 Samuel 2:2

Notice in Hannah’s song of praise the holiness of God is declared. She also professed God to be her Rock. Who is the Rock? Jesus Christ. It is important to build the foundation of your life on the Rock and not on the sand. In Jesus’ earthly ministry, He taught the people an important parable; those who heard His words and put them into practice were likened to a wise man who built his house on a rock:

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I 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” (Matthew 7:24-25).

Notice, when the floods came and the waters beat on the house, it did not fall because it was built on the rock. Jesus continued the parable with a warning:

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.” (Matthew 7:26-27)

Notice, the house that fell had no solid foundation. In this world we will have many trials, so Jesus needs to be our Rock. This is very important in your Christian life. Think about what Jesus taught. Who are you most likened too, the wise man or the foolish man? Is Jesus your Rock?

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.

~Psalm 18:2~

FRIDAY September 21, 2018

A Heart of Rejoicing

And Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.”

1 Samuel 2:1

Hannah wrote a song––a prayer to the Lord. Notice how beautiful this is; her heart was rejoicing in the Lord. Hannah rejoiced because God had answered her prayer––she had a baby. Hannah did not go around bragging; she was quiet while rejoicing. She mentioned her horn, which is a picture of the strength of an ox or a steer in the use of its horn. It speaks of her victorious strength being exalted by the Lord.

There is a future prophecy within Hannah’s song; she proclaimed how she was rejoicing in God’s salvation. Who is our salvation? It is Jesus Christ. Our salvation is in Him. We rejoice in what the Lord has given to us. I rejoice because of the ministry the Lord has given to me. I am able to see other people growing in Christ and serving in the ministry. For me, the greatest prayer of rejoicing is found in what the Apostle John has said: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth (3 John 4).

Honestly, it is incredible to see other Christians continuing to walk with the Lord. I rejoice to see how they are still excited about what God is doing. They are the ones who are in unity, continuing to be servants, and God is using their lives fully and completely. They are servants who would do anything for the Lord. On the other hand, it is sad to see those who are not serving and not walking with the Lord.

Understand, the only place where we can rejoice is in Jesus. There is nothing or no one like Jesus. If you try to rejoice in anything else, you will find there is no satisfaction. He is the only one through which joy can come. May the Lord give you a heart of rejoicing as you continue to walk in fellowship with Him.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
~Philippians 4:4~

THURSDAY September 20, 2018

Crying Out to God in Prayer

In my distress I called upon the LORD,and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple,and my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Psalm 18:6

After reviewing 1 Samuel 1, I have realized the importance of prayer in the life of a leader. Looking at the character of Hannah, you can see she was a woman who was dedicated to the Lord––a woman of prayer. Hannah sought the Lord and poured out her heart to Him in her difficult situations and problems. She did not go to the priest or even to her husband––she went to the Lord. The Lord heard the bitterness of her soul and answered her prayer. He brought joy and comfort to her heart.

In ministry, I have seen how my wife, through much prayer, has chosen certain women to be a part of the women’s ministry. These women are in one mind with her; there is complete unity. God lifted them up to come and serve with her. In the same way, through prayer, the Lord has also given to me faithful men, those who work together with me as a team. They are in one mind with me; there are no divisions.

In the women’s ministry, the women have shown themselves to be submissive to the leadership of this church, and that is why they are here. They have proved themselves by sitting and listening to the teachings in the women’s ministry. This is an important part of the qualifications of ministry. I thank God for the women’s ministry and for their concern and ministry to other women––I love that.

However, when other people see that the Lord has raised up a new person in the ministry, and God begins to use their life, other people can get jealously, strive or talk about them. Those people get disqualified from ministry. Remember it is the Lord who puts up one and takes down another. You cannot get anywhere if you are not submissive or are divisive.

Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayers
and worn with thanks.
~
Thomas Goodwin~

WEDNESDAY September 19, 2018

A Godly Wife

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house,your children like olive plants all around your table.

Psalm 128:3

Elkanah’s wife Hannah had no haughtiness in her life. She was a godly woman who recognized the power of God in her life with humility and simplicity. Can you imagine what it was like when God revealed to her heart how He was going to use her son Samuel in ministry?

Imagine what it would be like if God spoke to your heart as a father or a mother, saying, “I am going to use your children in the ministry.” I have looked at my boys and wondered how God was going to use their lives. In fact, I see some of the fruit of what He is doing already. Then I think about my grandchildren and, if the Lord tarries, my great grandchildren, How many of them are going to follow in the footsteps of the ministry?

Sometimes we have the concept that our children have to be pastors, assistant pastors, elders or deacons. We should never try to make them into clones of ourselves. One day the Lord spoke to my heart about my children, saying, “They do not have to be pastors; they can be used in ministry, in business, or in any profession where I send them.” I believe with all my heart, the best thing we can do for our children is to be godly examples and allow God to use them just as they are––seriously.

Also, it is important for husbands to learn that their wives, like Hannah, are very important in their lives; they are their helpers. As mothers they have a duty to take care of the children in a godly way. That does not mean your wife cannot be involved in ministry, but the home should not be neglected. It is good to be in agreement together so there is no rubbing of the elbows––friction. Everything should flow in unity, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, in a good balance.

Without Ruth’s partnership and encouragement over the years, my own work would have been impossible. We were called by God as a team.
~
Billy Graham~

TUESDAY September 18, 2018

Children of the Lord

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; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127:4-5

When our children become teenagers, they go through physical changes in their lives. These are the most critical years when they begin to change emotionally, and they want their independence. It is important not to break the character of a child when you discipline them, or you will have a rebellious child. It is important to build their character. You have to minister to them. Remember, it is the Word of God given to your children that counts; it will never come back void (Isaiah 55:11).

Many parents in punishing their children make the mistake of continuously taking away their privileges. They keep taking away and taking away until their children are frustrated. Parents should not be forceful or place them into a box––limiting their freedom. Teenagers need to be given the same grace and liberty that God has given to them.

Do not think as parents that you can set down the law as rules and demand your children to live by them. Chuck Smith would say, “Blessed are the flexible.” There is a time to say no, and a time to say yes, and even a time when you have to be in the middle––flexible. We live in a different society; pray for God’s wisdom. Otherwise, there are going to be big problems in your home.

Understand that teenagers will ditch school, want to lock themselves in their rooms while playing loud music, yell, scream, and demand things from their parents. They feel like adults as they go through all these emotional changes. We all went through it, right? Parents of teenagers need to trust in the faithfulness of God.

Children need love, especially when
they do not deserve it.
~
Harold S. Hulbert~

MONDAY September 17, 2018

Lent to the Lord

“Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD.” So they worshiped the LORD there.

1 Samuel 1:28

In his leadership as a father, Elkanah recognized that God was at work. He was in complete unity with Hannah and in agreement that, after Samuel was weaned, he should be given back to the Lord. Hannah kept her word––a vow of consecration. She did not covet Samuel for herself, but she gave him back, not for two or three years, but for his entire life.

Hannah had brought the sacrifices of consecration to the temple. God had loaned Samuel to her, and now she loaned him back. Do you know what the word lent means? The word lent means to “to return or dedicate,” literally translated, “to make him owe to.” The idea is a complete, irrevocable giving up of the child to the Lord. Samuel belonged to God––he was to be all His.

Understand, our children are on loan to us as a gift from the Lord. Parents have a great responsibility to train up a child in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). If you are a leader involved in the Church, and you are failing to train up your children in the ways of the Lord, then you have no business being in full-time ministry. Billy Sunday preached the Gospel to thousands, and yet his sons became alcoholics and died alcoholics.

Some leaders today are trying to do ministry without fulfilling their God- given ministry at home. You can get involved in a ministry, but is it blessed by God if you are neglecting your home? If God has called you into the ministry, there is a balance. Take heed to the Scriptures in your responsibility to train your children. Be flexible in your schedule, because your children will not always stay little. They will grow up to be teenagers.

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb is a reward.
~
Psalm 127:3~

SUNDAY September 16, 2018

Granted Petition

And she said, “O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the LORD. For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.”

1 Samuel 1:26-27

Elkanah and Hannah had come together by faith and naturally had sex. They had no doubt in their minds that the Lord would give them a child. God touched their lives, and, through Elkanah’s seed, Hannah became pregnant. It was not weeks or a month later; it was immediately! God did a miracle, and He fulfilled His promise.

Hannah gave a proclamation to Eli the priest. She reminded him of the time she stood by him in the temple, praying to the Lord for a child, and the Lord had granted her petition. She was a godly mother who, from birth, had brought young Samuel up in the ways of the Lord.

A husband and wife must have a consecrated life to the Lord if they are to be a strong influence in the lives of their children. Understand, our children have been given to us as a gift from the Lord. Through Hannah’s life, I believe God is speaking to parents about the importance of training their children in the ways of the Lord. Fathers and mothers should read Bible stories to their children and give them Scriptures to memorize.

I remember when I brought my son Ryan a calendar, and it had a proverb for every day of the year. He kept it right by his bed, so that every morning, each proverb could be memorized. The Word of God was going into his heart, and when he spoke, the Word of God was proclaimed.

Understand, God uses human instruments to fulfill His promises and purposes. That is why you must place God’s Word in the hearts of your children so the Lord can use them. Remember, God’s promises are sure; when He says something, it is going to happen––He will do it.

The firmament of the Bible is ablaze with answers to prayer.
~
T. L. Cuyler~

SATURDAY September 15, 2018

Obedience

Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, one ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh. And the child was young. Then they slaughtered a bull, and brought the child to Eli.

1 Samuel 1:24-25

Hannah did not go up to the temple until Samuel was weaned. Hebrew children were normally weaned by their mothers by the age of two or three, but it may have been that Samuel’s mother continued to train her son spiritually and physically. The word translated weaned means “to deal fully.” If you study Hebrew culture, mothers would be responsible for their children until the age of 12; then they would be turned over to their fathers until 18, and then to the state––interesting. Hannah willingly and obediently brought Samuel to the tabernacle, and he may have been as old as twelve.

During the time Samuel was with his mother, Elkanah took the rest of his family and continued to worship the Lord yearly at the tabernacle in Shiloh. It seemed as if Elkanah and Hannah grew even closer to the Lord. They were in the will of God; there was no disagreement between them. They both knew God had a purpose for Samuel’s life.

Hannah obediently followed through on her vow to the Lord. Samuel was to be consecrated to God––set apart for Him. God later blessed Hannah with other children, three sons and two daughters (1 Samuel 2:21).

It is important for us as believers to understand that we are set apart for the Lord. The Greek word hagios means to be separated––to be consecrated to God. It is also used in reference to the saints, those who are set apart––Christians. We need to realize the importance of being consecrated and separated to God. Have you really, truly given your life to Jesus Christ for Him to do a work?

Consecration is resolution that is not afraid of sacrifice.
~Anonymous~

FRIDAY September 14, 2018

A Living 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.

Romans 12:1-2

Consecration––it is your reasonable service to the Lord. Have you given Him your eyes? Your hands? Your feet? Your body? Every part of yourself should be completely given to God so He can do as He wills with your life. In the Old Testament, the priest would take the oil and place it on his right hand, his right toe and right ear. This is so he could do the work of God with his hands, walk in the ways of God, and hear the things of God. That was a part of the ministry.

The root meaning of the word consecration in the Old Testament means “holy, or holiness.” In Hebrew it is Qadash, a verb which means to be consecrated, to be dedicated or to be holy.” Anything that is holy is set apart. It is removed from the realm of the common, and it is moved to the sphere of the sacred. I like that. This is what God has done with our lives. We are not to be common, but we are to be separated from the common, because God has called us to a consecrated life, a dedicated life, and to a holy life.

In the New Testament, in the Greek, the concept of consecration is holiness. There are three main words in the Greek culture that are associated with the idea of holiness. Hieros which is reflective of ritual holiness. It is only found twice in the Bible, and used in 1 Corinthians 9:13, and 2 Timothy 3:15. But hagios reflected the divine will of human obligation to God––to be separated, to be consecrated to God. Hosios reflected piety and devoutness to God. Holiness is accomplished by the anointing and leading of the Holy Spirit in my life. It is not the work of men, but it is the work of the Holy Spirit and of God.

What is holiness except Christlikeness?
~
John R. W. Stott~

THURSDAY September 13, 2018

Keeping a Promise

So Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him. Only let the LORD establish His word.” Then the woman stayed and nursed her son until she had weaned him.

1 Samuel 1:23

Hannah had asked for a child, and when God gave to her a son, she promised to give him back to the Lord. How did the Lord know she would give the child back to Him? I believe God saw the heart of Hannah. The Lord knew she would keep her promise to Him. Hannah was a godly person. I also believe she knew God had a purpose for the life of her son Samuel. How wonderful it is that God could trust her.

How many times have we felt like God has not answered our prayers? The problem is unbelief within our hearts––it has happened to all of us. How long until God answers? We need to just wait––that is always the hardest part. We often forget it is not our timing; it is God’s timing.

Most people want their prayers answered instantly––right now! Many times we are like our children, trying to bargain with God. Yet the Lord may have us in training, waiting on our knees for a long time to see the true attitude of our hearts and your minds. Will we keep the promises we have made to Him?

Can God really trust you to make decisions with the wisdom He has given to you in accomplishing His work? Think about it. Look at what He has entrusted you with––incredible! Will you do your best with what He has given you? Do you procrastinate or place aside the role and responsibilities He has given to you? God has to be able to trust you.

God is faithful, but what about you? Faithfulness comes in your commitment to Him. Are you faithfully committed to God?

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much…
~
Luke 16:10~

WEDNESDAY September 12, 2018

Consecrated to God

“…Who then is willing to consecrate himself this day to the LORD?”

1 Chronicles 29:5

Are you willing to consecrate yourself to the LORD? He calls us to be separated to Him. Yet Christians often excuse themselves for their lack of consecration. They try to justify their unholy actions so they can be like other people. They easily find excuses for why they went to an R-rated movie, or for why they lied. Believers often use excuses to protect themselves from accusations. They justify their position, when in reality, they do not want to face the facts––they sinned and failed. There are no excuses for sinful actions when the Bible tells us not to do it.

Christians have to be good examples to others who know them. We have other people’s eyes upon us. Understand, there are things in your life, and in my life, that we will have to stop doing for the sake of Jesus Christ. We cannot partake of anything that will make another person stumble. It is hypocritical to preach one thing and then be found doing something else.

Seriously, there is a big problem with Christians today. They can give out to others their knowledge of the Bible, but they are not living what they preach at home. Christians cannot allow sin in their lives. No way. That will make them hypocrites––men and women of double standards. God does not have double standards. He has one standard––holiness and consecration. That is it.

As a Christian, if you are not consecrated to the Lord, do not expect Him to use you to the full extent to what He can. It will never happen. Understand, God desires to use your life. He loves you so much.

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~

TUESDAY September 11, 2018

Never Forget 9/11

“…in Me [Jesus] you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Today marks the 17th anniversary of 9/11. America has promised to “Never forget.” These planned attacks shook our nation to its core. Terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. This day marked the worst terrorist attack to happen on US soil and in the world.

There were nineteen al-Qaeda members who hijacked four US passenger airliners. Two airplanes were flown into the Twin Towers in New York. One crashed into the Pentagon, and another, after a heroic struggle by passengers, crashed in the open countryside of Pennsylvania. They prevented an attack on the US Capitol. In all, an approximate total of 2,996 people were killed.

We live in a sinful, fallen world, filled with so much evil, violence and tribulation. The suicide bombings, shootings and stabbings have continued, but Jesus wants us to know that He has overcome the world. In Him is our peace. Jesus said to His disciples: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

What comfort does the Gospel of Jesus Christ bring to us? Peace, joy and hope. Our Savior Jesus has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light, through the Gospel (2 Timothy 1:10). We have an eternal hope in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
~
Romans 15:13~

MONDAY September 10, 2018

Dedicated to the Lord

Now the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the LORD and remain there forever.”

1 Samuel 1:21-22

God needed a leader for the nation of Israel, and to fulfill that need, He placed the desire for a child in the heart of a mother who could not have children. Hannah, through her sorrow, was drawn to the House of the Lord, where, in prayer, she opened her heart and poured out her spirit to God. In answer to her petition, God allowed her to have a child.

The baby was named Samuel meaning “heard of God” or “asked of God.” Samuel was to be consecrated to the Lord by his mother. Hannah vowed to give him back to the Lord. He was to be a Nazirite––no razor would touch his head and he would not drink anything of the vine. He was consecrated to the Lord.

Hannah not only gave her life to the Lord, but she turned around and gave the life of her son to the Lord. Even before Samuel had any knowledge, she immediately consecrated him to the Lord. Imagine Samuel, as a young child, who was separated to the Lord, and how he would later influence the nation of Israel.

There are many people who desire to be in ministry, but they do not want to be consecrated to God. I know I am not like other, regular men. I am like a Nazirite, consecrated to God––separated to God––for the work of the ministry. I have to constantly examine my life, be accountable and remain in submission to the Lord. It is important to be a man of integrity.

Seriously, you never know how a man is going to affect the world for Jesus Christ, if that man is willing to give his whole life to God.

It does not take great men to do great things;
it only takes consecrated men.
~
Phillips Brooks~

SUNDAY September 9, 2018

The Power of Prayer

Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the LORD.”

1 Samuel 1:19-20

Elkanah and his family went to worship the Lord in Shiloh. When they returned home, he knew his wife. The Lord remembered Hannah, and she became pregnant. Through prayer, they now had a beautiful relationship. All because of God, a husband and wife became one in mind and heart. What an incredible testimony of what God can do in a marriage, through prayer.

Like never before, we need praying men and women who will stand in the gap to pray. The only reason I am here today, preaching the Gospel, is because of prayer. Grandpa and Grandma Kopp, Uncle Paul, Eddie and Naomi Farrel prayed for me for years. Perhaps there were others who prayed for me when I was a child. I know this is the reason why I am here.

Whoever would have thought that God would use my life? I look back to when I was in Baldwin Park High School, then in Vietnam, and when I came back, how God got hold of my life. He has done such a tremendous work in West Covina, Diamond Bar and the whole world. If I would have tried to plan it, it would have never happened––it was the plan of God, all because of prayer.

Now seeing and knowing what God can do through the power of prayer, I look ahead, and I wonder what He will do in the Church in the next ten years! I also continue to pray for my children, my loved ones, my friends, and even my enemies. Who knows what God will do in their lives?

God answers our prayers not because we are good,
but because He is good.
~
A W. Tozer~

SATURDAY September 8, 2018

Prayer Changes Things!

Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.” And she said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

1 Samuel 1:17-18

God used Eli the priest as a leader to tell Hannah, “Go in peace and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.” Eli took a leap of faith and made a proclamation: “You will have a baby.” God had seen Hannah’s heart and answered her prayer.

Notice, through faith and through prayer, there was an instant change of Hannah’s countenance, attitude and personality. Her life was changed through prayer. She believed through faith and received from the Lord her petition. Prayer is so powerful; it can change the heart of a man or a woman––totally. Prayer changes things! It can change a person’s heart.

The Lord can even change and direct a king’s heart: The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes (Proverbs 21:1). When King David repented of his sin of adultery with Bathsheba, he asked the Lord to cleanse his heart: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).

Although David reaped the consequences for his sin, God got hold of his heart. He repented and was back in fellowship with God.

Prayer is important. Knowing that God can change the direction of a person’s life through prayer, we should never give up praying for someone. Whether you are praying for a backslidden family member, a friend or even a king, know that prayer changes things. How we need to pray every morning and evening––every day, week, month and year.

God shapes the world by prayer.
~
E. M. Bounds~

FRIDAY September 7, 2018

Prayers of Sorrow

But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.”

1 Samuel 1:15-16

Hannah humbly corrected Eli the priest. She did not want to be misjudged as a wicked woman. Hannah was not a drunkard; she believed in the Lord. She wanted the priest to know the reason why she had come into the temple. It was because she had a great need. Her prayer was of the deepest kind––the pouring out of her soul to God.

Even though her prayer was not heard by the priest, it came from her heart. Before the Lord, there was nothing left within her; everything she had sorrowed about was poured out in weeping to the Lord, as if to say, “Here God––it is all yours.” Hannah laid everything she was going through before the Lord. He knew her thoughts, her heart and her needs.

King David was a man of prayer, and God was His refuge. He wrote in Psalm 63:2: Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. David enjoyed fellowship with the Lord and pursued the Lord diligently. He said: So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.

David had such a love for the house of God, and his written thoughts reflected his heart: For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness (Psalm 84:10).

Like David, do you continually seek the Lord in His sanctuary? When was the last time you poured out your soul to the Lord in prayer, like Hannah?

God always answers us in the deeps,
never in the shallows of our soul.
~
Amy Carmichael~

THURSDAY September 6, 2018

Lack of Discernment

And it happened, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!”

1 Samuel 1:12-14

Hannah was silent; only her lips moved as she prayed from her heart to the Lord. She had come to the house of the Lord to commune with God, and to pour out her anguish to Him. Eli the priest watched her and made a proclamation: “She is drunk”––a misjudgment. He did not have any discernment. Perhaps it was common in these times for women to be found drunk, because the priest was so quick to think Hannah was drunk.

Eli was the priest, yet he was not sensitive to Hannah’s needs when she came into the temple to pray. There are many hurting people who come into the Church to pray to the Lord. As leaders, are we sensitive? We often mistrust and misjudge people. Men and women who are leaders in the Church have a duty to be sensitive to hurting and sorrowful people.

It is important to understand that men who are called to be leaders are not only to be priests in their homes, but priests in the Church. I believe the only way for leaders to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading is for them to be like Hannah––preparing their hearts in prayer before the Lord, and being in fellowship and communion with Him. Then leaders will be on target when they speak. They will have discernment. That is why it is important to be in prayer and in the Word of God.

Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.
~C.H. Spurgeon~

THURSDAY September 6, 2018

Lack of Discernment

And it happened, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!”

1 Samuel 1:12-14

Hannah was silent; only her lips moved as she prayed from her heart to the Lord. She had come to the house of the Lord to commune with God, and to pour out her anguish to Him. Eli the priest watched her and made a proclamation: “She is drunk”––a misjudgment. He did not have any discernment. Perhaps it was common in these times for women to be found drunk, because the priest was so quick to think Hannah was drunk.

Eli was the priest, yet he was not sensitive to Hannah’s needs when she came into the temple to pray. There are many hurting people who come into the Church to pray to the Lord. As leaders, are we sensitive? We often mistrust and misjudge people. Men and women who are leaders in the Church have a duty to be sensitive to hurting and sorrowful people.

It is important to understand that men who are called to be leaders are not only to be priests in their homes, but priests in the Church. I believe the only way for leaders to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading is for them to be like Hannah––preparing their hearts in prayer before the Lord, and being in fellowship and communion with Him. Then leaders will be on target when they speak. They will have discernment. That is why it is important to be in prayer and in the Word of God.

Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.
~C.H. Spurgeon~

WEDNESDAY September 5, 2018

Making a Vow

And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish. Then she made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”

1 Samuel 1:10-11

Notice how Hannah dealt with her painful situation by expressing her heart to God. She was not bitter towards the Lord or to her husband. She was in bitterness of soul. The word bitter means “deep anguish.” Hannah was in deep anguish as she poured out her heart to God.

God had Hannah on her knees––praying. She asked the Lord for a male child. She then made a vow to give him back to the Lord to be used for His glory. I believe Hannah’s prayer was aligned with the heart of God. She began to be in tune with the needs of the nation of Israel. Hannah recognized the need for a man to become a leader in the nation.

Making a vow is very important. When you make a vow to God, he expects you to pay it. Notice what is said about making a vow in Ecclesiastes 5:2-5:

Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few. … When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—better not to vow than to vow and not pay.

In Hannah’s prayer, she also vowed to set the child apart as a Nazirite. She prayed a prayer of consecration for her son. He would not drink of the vine, and no razor would touch his head. The greatest need in leadership is for consecration. Our families must be consecrated to the Lord––as for me and my house we shall serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).

Our lives should be so arranged and consecrated
that the Holy Spirit truly is in charge

~A. W. Tozer~

TUESDAY September 4, 2018

Bitterness of Soul

So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the LORD.

1 Samuel 1:9

The name Eli means “God is high.” As a priest in the temple, he was to lead the people in everything that pertained to the worship of God, but Eli was not taking care of his own home––his sons dishonored God. His sons’ sinful actions were leading them straight towards hell.

Billy Sunday was a preacher who had three sons. They all ended up as alcoholics and died terrible deaths. He was too busy preaching the Gospel for Jesus, while his sons were bound for hell. Do you not understand as leaders that, even though you may be busy serving the Lord, your wife and your children need you? Even Billy Graham said he regrets and wished he had spent more time with his family.

When you have time off work, are you more concerned about what you want to do for yourself? Some men have this attitude, “Hey, you are lucky to have me today!” Why not take the time to enjoy what your wife or children want to do? It is not the quantity, but the quality of time that counts. When you are with your family, do not have a sad face because you are not getting to do what you want to do––that is part of dying to self. Do not start murmuring and complaining.

I know, for myself, I do not like going to the mall. I want to go to the surf store, but I die to myself. Even if you are with your family at the mall, and they take forever shopping for clothes, make the best of the time spent with them––make it nice––even if you have to be at the mall for three hours!

Take time with your children. … Your children not only require a great deal of your time, but they long and hunger for it.
~
Billy Graham~

MONDAY September 3, 2018

Labor Day

And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

The Apostle Paul urged the Christians in Thessalonica to recognize those who labored among them. Paul wanted them to acknowledge those in the body of Christ who were leaders who admonished them––instructed, taught and warned them. They were to esteem them highly, in the love of Christ, for all the hard work they had done among them.

The first Monday of September is a day set aside for laborers in America in recognition for all their hard work. Almost every employee across the country will have a day off to rest from their labors. Today, as summer draws to a close, people will enjoy their long summer weekend by having picnics, pool parties and family barbeques.

Many children have already started school, but others will start later, after the long Labor Day Weekend. I am sure they will appreciate a few more days enjoying the summer holidays before they go back to school. It is important, as our children and grandchildren attend different schools, to continually pray for them and keep them in the Word of God.

It is the Lord who calls each one of us to work and to provide for our families. We should recognize those who work hard to provide for our families and those called to lead us in the Church. Today, take the time to give thanks to the Lord for all of them and continually pray for them.

You can’t truly rest until every area in your life rests in God.
~A.W. Tozer~

SUNDAY September 2, 2018

Grieved in Heart

Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”

1 Samuel 1:8

Elkanah may have been insensitive to his wife’s needs, which is often typical of a husband. He felt bad for Hannah and knew she suffered greatly because she could not have a child. In his love for her, he gave her a double portion of the offering to present to the Lord. Nothing is said about Elkanah loving Peninnah. He obviously loved Hannah more and tried to ease her pain.

However, Hannah continued to be miserable and not eat. Elkanah wanted her to stop weeping. He told Hannah, “Am I not better to you than ten sons?” Nope! He should have been sensitive to her needs, but he was not. Elkanah was supposed to be the spiritual leader of his home, but he could not see his insensitivity. Hannah was hurt; she had a big problem. In the end, she knew her husband could never help her––it was to be between her and God.

A husband may see that his wife is sad, but he is often not sensitive to his wife’s needs. He does not know how to minister to her. She is struggling with something in her life, while he continues to be on cloud nine, in glory, being blessed. Husbands and fathers who are leaders in the Church can be available to minister to other people and have answers for them, but when it comes to their homes, they do not know how to console their wives or their children. Men can be selfish and not sensitive to them.

In life’s difficulties, how can you become a greater comfort to those around you?

There are countless opportunities to comfort others, not only in the loss of a loved one, but also in the daily distress that so often
creeps into our lives.

~Billy Graham~

SATURDAY September 1, 2018

Provoked

And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the LORD had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.

1 Samuel 1:6-7

Elkanah had two wives. One of them, Peninnah, was blessed with children, and in having them, she became Hannah’s rival. She made Hannah cry because she could not have a child. I believe Hannah’s heart was being tested. Could it be that Hannah was being covetous for children? Would she be content to have a child for God’s glory alone?

The cruel harassment Hannah received from Peninnah drew her to her knees. She did not get bitter, curse at her rival, or act in her flesh–– lashing out in anger. Hannah came to God to worship. She did not walk away from the Lord in her sorrow; instead, she pursued Him.

Let us use Peninnah’s character as an illustration of Satan. This woman tormented Hannah, as if to say, “Look at me. I have children and you have none!” Notice, once again it is mentioned that it was God who had closed her womb. Did Hannah know this was the Lord’s doing? I wonder if Satan used this to torment Hannah. Did the enemy whisper words of condemnation in her ears and make her think she had done something awful, and the Lord was punishing her by denying her children?

Sometimes this is how Satan harasses women. He provokes them in their minds, as if to say, “You cannot have children because of what you did in the past.” Understand, Satan always brings up our past to try and discourage us and make us turn from the Lord. At times, he will place doubt in your heart, especially when you have prayed, and it seems you have not received an answer from the Lord.

When we get harassed or condemned by Satan, we have to be like Hannah and come before the Lord in prayer.

Satan, the hinderer, may build a barrier about us, but he can never roof us in, so that we cannot look up.
~J. Hudson Taylor~

FRIDAY August 31, 2018

God Is In Control

And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the LORD had closed her womb.

1 Samuel 1:4-5

Notice an important observation––the Lord was in control of Hannah’s life. The only reason she could not have children was because the Lord had closed up her womb. Hannah knew that there was no possible way to have a child unless God opened her womb. It had to be God.

God wanted to see the heart of Hannah. He was working over a period of time to draw Hannah to her knees, in a season of weeping, in bitterness of soul. God wanted to be the center of her life. He had to bring her to the point in her prayers where she was willing to pray, “If you give me a child, then I will give him back to you.” She had to have a change of heart as she prayed. God would give her a child when she was aligned with His will and purposes. Her beautiful baby was to be given back to the Lord.

God often works over a period of time in our lives. Sometimes we do not like it when He brings us to a place where we need to wait on Him. Understand, He is working in our hearts. So many times we ask God for something that is for our own benefit, instead of asking for His plans and purposes to be accomplished. When we are praying, God may not answer us until far in the future, when He sees our change of heart and attitude.

We really need Jesus to be at the center of our lives. Understand that through prayer, we can align our will with God’s. Now do you see the importance of prayer in your life?

The marvellous and supernatural power of prayer consists not in bringing God's will down to us, but in lifting our will up to his.
~Robert Law~

THURSDAY August 30, 2018

Sacrificial Worship

This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.

1 Samuel 1:3

Elkanah was a man dedicated to tradition and to the Law. He went every year to Shiloh to worship and offer sacrifices to the Lord. At this time, Shiloh was the place of worship. When the children of Israel came into the Promised Land, God had them assemble the tabernacle in Shiloh: Now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of meeting there… (Joshua 18:1).

This was before the permanent Temple of the Lord was built by Solomon in Jerusalem. Shiloh was about 15 miles north of where Elkanah lived. Hannah’s husband was a faithful man. He was spiritually leading his home by going up to Shiloh to worship the Lord, but Hannah was still struggling with not having a child.

Even though Hannah was well taken care of physically and financially, she remained unhappy. Hannah knew, by not having a child, she was looked at negatively by others, and she remained in bitterness of soul.

Interestingly, this is the first time in the Bible that we read about the name, the Lord of Hosts, which means, “the Lord of the armies,” or “Lord of all creation.” Incredibly, this tremendous name of God is mentioned 281 times throughout the whole Bible, especially in the Minor Prophets.

Hannah needed to look to the Lord of Hosts, “the Lord of all creation,” to help her. Do you make every effort to go to church to seek the Lord of Hosts in the battles you face in life?

Those whom God leads, he leads to his holy hill, and to his tabernacles; those therefore who pretend to be led by the Spirit and yet turn their backs upon instituted ordinances,
certainly deceive themselves.
~Matthew Henry~

WEDNESDAY August 29, 2018

Family Conflict

And he [Elkanah] had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

1 Samuel 1:2

God’s design in marriage was for one wife (Genesis 2:21-22), but Elkanah had two wives, and it was the cause of major problems in his home. One wife was named Hannah, which in Hebrew means “gracious,” and the other, Peninnah, which in Hebrew, means “coral” or “pearl.”

Hannah was barren. In this culture, if a woman could not have children, then a man could take a second wife to bear his children. Peninnah, as a rival, took every opportunity to mock and mistreat Hannah because she had no children. Her comments became a constant reminder to Hannah that Peninnah had been blessed with children, while she had none.

Hannah was loved by her husband despite not having a child, but she was always depressed––miserable. Between the two wives, there was constant strife; there was no peace in the home. Instead, there was a big war while Elkanah tried to make peace with both of them.

Hannah desperately wanted a child, but only the Lord could change her circumstances. She needed to pray; in time, she would pour out the anguish of her heart to the Lord. She would ask God for a child, and, in His time, the Lord would answer her request.

Are you in anguish because of a difficult situation in your home? Pour out your heart to the Lord. He is listening. God will answer.

Prevailing prayer is that which secures an answer. Saying prayers is not offering prevailing prayer. The prevalence of prayer does not depend so much on quantity as on quality.
~Charles Finney~

TUESDAY August 28, 2018

God’s Plans and Purposes

Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.

1 Samuel 1:1

The name Elkanah in Hebrew means “God has created” or “acquired of God.” Elkanah’s ancestry went back to the tribe of Levi (1 Chronicles 6:33-38). Yet he was not a part of the Aaronic priesthood. Again this shows God’s grace in how he chooses people.

Elkanah had two wives. In the Old Testament, God allowed polygamy, but it was never His intention for a husband to have multiple wives. Notice in Genesis 2:21-22, that the Lord brought the woman to the man:

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

It is important to understand that in Deuteronomy 21:15-17, the Law of Moses addressed issues concerning polygamy. The Old Testament records showed all kinds of trouble that followed the practice of polygamy. Abraham, David and Solomon all had problems because of the plurality of their wives. Jesus made it clear that God’s original design was never to have more than one wife. In fact, divorce was only allowed because of the hardness of man’s heart (Matthew 19:4-6, 8).

Are you having problems in your marriage today? Could it be that you have allowed your heart to become hardened, and, in disobedience to God’s Word, you have chosen not to love your wife?

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…
~Ephesians 5:25~

MONDAY August 27, 2018

Called of God

...the LORD called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!”

1 Samuel 3:4

The Book of 1 Samuel begins with a summary of the life and work of the prophet Samuel. In order, he was known as the last of the judges and the first of the prophets. Samuel was considered to be one of the greatest figures of Israel’s history between Moses and David. Many people do not see the beautiful picture of Samuel as a leader. He was just a common, regular, young boy when God began to speak to him.

The name Samuel in Hebrew means “asked of God.” He was asked of the Lord through prayer, and he became a miracle baby. He did not even know how God was going to use his life. God rose Samuel up, not to defend the nation, but to become a proclaimer to the nation––a witness.

God was no longer speaking to Eli the priest. He was not in tune with God because his whole household was out of order––his sons were acting as heathens. The priestly leadership in Israel was corrupt, and great consequences and tragedy would befall the nation.

When fathers do not take the leadership of their homes, their children will become weak leaders themselves. Children need to grow up with prayer and godly leadership in their home. If they have never been taught how to lead in a godly way, then they will not know how to guide and lead their homes in godliness––through prayer and the Word. They have to have good role models to follow in their homes.

Are you a good role model in your home for your children to follow? Do you daily pray with them? The one day when God calls to them, they will answer.

Set your children a good example. … Many parents preach to their children but do not set a good example.
~Billy Graham~

MONDAY August 27, 2018

Called of God

...the LORD called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!”

1 Samuel 3:4

The Book of 1 Samuel begins with a summary of the life and work of the prophet Samuel. In order, he was known as the last of the judges and the first of the prophets. Samuel was considered to be one of the greatest figures of Israel’s history between Moses and David. Many people do not see the beautiful picture of Samuel as a leader. He was just a common, regular, young boy when God began to speak to him.

The name Samuel in Hebrew means “asked of God.” He was asked of the Lord through prayer, and he became a miracle baby. He did not even know how God was going to use his life. God rose Samuel up, not to defend the nation, but to become a proclaimer to the nation––a witness.

God was no longer speaking to Eli the priest. He was not in tune with God because his whole household was out of order––his sons were acting as heathens. The priestly leadership in Israel was corrupt, and great consequences and tragedy would befall the nation.

When fathers do not take the leadership of their homes, their children will become weak leaders themselves. Children need to grow up with prayer and godly leadership in their home. If they have never been taught how to lead in a godly way, then they will not know how to guide and lead their homes in godliness––through prayer and the Word. They have to have good role models to follow in their homes.

Are you a good role model in your home for your children to follow? Do you daily pray with them? The one day when God calls to them, they will answer.

Set your children a good example. … Many parents preach to their children but do not set a good example.
~Billy Graham~

SUNDAY August 26, 2018

Doing Right in Your Own Eyes

When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.

Judges 2:10

The Book of Judges revealed the people’s philosophy: In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6). Everyone was humanistic; Israel no longer had any conviction or integrity. The only reason they came back to the judges and prophets was because they did not want to suffer oppression––the consequences of God’s wrath. However, God’s grace and love was always there for the nation of Israel.

When God gave the nation of Israel judges, they would repent of their sins; but what I find incredible is that every time a judge would die, they would go right back into sinning. In the Book of Judges there was a generation that arose who did not know the Lord. There was no respect and no real heart for God among the people. In the Book of 1 Samuel,

the people of Israel were still idolatrous and disobedient to the Lord.

I think we are living in a generation where many children still do not know the Lord. Why? Their parents have not been faithful in spending time teaching them about the Lord. Children can grow up in the Church with knowledge of God, but do they really know the True God, the Living God––Jehovah Yahweh.

Children will know God is real by watching the lives of their parents. They are living examples to them in the home, but if you do what is right in your own eyes in front of your children, then do not be surprised if they grow up not following the Lord.

Let no Christian parents fall into the delusion that Sunday school is intended to ease them of their personal duties. The first and most natural condition of things is for Christian parents to train up their own children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

SATURDAY August 25, 2018

Petition Granted

For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.

1 Samuel 1:27

The Book of 1 Samuel starts with prayer, and the Book of 2 Samuel ends in prayer––interesting. The prophet Samuel’s birth was in answer to prayer. His mother Hannah prayed for a child because she was barren––she had no children. The LORD heard her prayer and granted her petition. It was important for Hannah to pray for this child at this time in the history of Israel. God had found Samuel––a man called to be an intercessor for His people, so that they would not be destroyed.

Israel acted wickedly. Samuel prayed for them and stood in the gap. He told the people: “…far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way” (1 Samuel 12:23). Later, in the book of Ezekiel, Israel sinned again, and God said: “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30). God could not find one man to stand in the gap and pray for the land of Israel.

Understand, men and ministries are birthed through prayer. The Church is here because of prayer. Men of God did not suddenly wake up one day and say they wanted to be in the ministry and start a fellowship. Someone was praying behind the scenes for them.

Do you realize that, as a Christian, you are where you are today because somebody has prayed for you? Every one of us was going our own way, doing our own thing, until God saved us (Ephesians 2:1-3). Only then did we begin to have an eternal purpose in life. God is looking for one man who will be totally sold-out to do His work and to pray, as they stand in the gap for people. Has God found such a person in you?

I turn the hearts of men through God by prayer.
~Hudson Taylor~

FRIDAY August 24, 2018

Loving One Another

The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. The salutation with my own hand—Paul’s. If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

I Corinthians 16:19-23

Priscilla and Aquila were converts to Christianity. They were tent makers. Paul also worked as a tent maker, and Priscilla and Aquila became Paul’s close friends. They helped Paul and worked with him in the same trade. They had a deep affection for one another. Aquila and Pricilla risked their lives for Paul’s sake. In Romans 16:3-5, Paul tells us more about them:

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house.

It is also important to understand that in the early church, they would greet each other with a holy kiss on each cheek. A man would greet another man this way, and so would a woman with another woman.

Then in a final benediction, Paul took a pen and personally began to write his concluding words. He had dictated most of the letter, but now he finishes the letter with a warning and edification in his own hand. Those who did not love the Lord were going to be accursed, the Greek word anathema, means, “let him go to the lowest hell.” Paul then edified the saints with the Aramaic word Maranatha (KJV)––O Lord, come!

Paul ended his letter with the grace of God. How much grace is given to us! So as Paul’s love was with the Corinthian Church––so my love is with you. How we thank God for this important letter to the Corinthian Church, may we love one another.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down
one’s life for his friends.
~John 15:13~

THURSDAY August 23, 2018

Refreshed in Christ

I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied. For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.

1 Corinthians 16:17-18

Paul was very glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus. Stephanas’ name means “crown,” Fortunatus’ name means “fortune,” and Achaicu’s name means “belonging to Achaia.” These three men were used of the Lord to bring to the Corinthian church whatever they were lacking spiritually, but also they helped out financially. I love that! Paul told the Corinthians these faithful men should be respected.

Seriously, these are the kinds of men that you want in the Church because they sincerely love people. That is the way the body of Christ should work. If we are working together in harmony, then we will be sensitive to one another’s needs, especially spiritual needs.

Paul thanked God for another brother in Christ––Philemon––for his ministry to the saints. His name means “affectionate.” He was also used by the Lord to refresh the saints:

I thank my God, …hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother (Philemon 1:4-7).

The word refreshed means to “receive attention, to enjoy the kind attention of friends.” How do you treat people? Are you sensitive to their spiritual or financial needs? Ask the Lord to use your life to refresh other believers in Christ.

Do all the good you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can.
As long as ever you can.
~John Wesley~

WEDNESDAY August 22, 2018

Submission in Ministry

I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints–– that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.

1 Corinthians 16:15-16

Paul drew attention to leaders who had labored with him in the ministry, those who had given their whole lives to Jesus Christ. They were common men, just like anybody else, but Paul gave them recognition because they had put their lives on the line for the sake of the Gospel.

The name Stephanas means “crown.” He and his family were Paul’s first converts in Achaia, and he ministered in the city of Corinth. His entire household was devoted to the ministry of the saints––believers in Christ. They helped Christians and the poor. In love, they looked after them, feeding them, being kind, giving them God’s Word, and even taking them into their home. Imagine, there are people in the Church today who, like Stephanas, are devoted to the ministry of the saints––fully and completely.

Paul also mentioned the importance of submitting to each other. This is one of the problems in the Church, especially among leadership. People refuse to submit because of pride. Yet the body of Christ––the Church––should be one, working together as a team, seeking to help each other in the work of the Lord.

I have seen leaders become so proud when they have become famous, that they stop speaking to people and separate themselves, as if they are something special. We cannot be by ourselves; we have to be among the people––not keeping our distance. In the ministry, it is important for people to see us so we can be available for them. They want to talk to us. If Christ came and walked among the people, we should be open to help the body of Christ, never thinking of ourselves.

…submitting to one another in the fear of God.
~Ephesians 5:21~

TUESDAY August 21, 2018

Stand Fast in the Faith

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Paul delivered to the saints an exhortation––be watchful and alert! They needed to stand fast in the faith and be brave and strong. I like that! The word watch means “to keep awake, to be vigilant, and to be on the alert.” Why should we be on the alert? Our enemy––Satan––is walking about like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8).

Today, more than ever, Christians need to be awake and alert, because the days we live in are uncertain. In fact, you never know what may come. Be a watchman for Jesus Christ––vigilant––standing fast, making sure your faith is steady and on course. Be stable and take a definite stand against the enemy––Satan. We need to maintain the truth of God’s Word. Never compromise and bend under pressure.

Christians must be mature and take heed to what has been said in the Scriptures. When we are exhorted, we should remain strong in the Lord, not weak. We must continue to walk by faith and show ourselves to be faithful, forgiving and strong. We can only do this by being baptized by the Holy Spirit. He will give us the inward strength we need to be strong in the Lord.

Notice, Paul also said that everything we do should be done in love. The emphasis is always God’s agape love––His unconditional love. Anything that is not done in love has no value. We need to be loving, kind, honoring one another, giving preference to one another (Romans 12:10). In all our service and activities: giving, praying, and reading, in our friendships and in our work, we should be motivated by God’s love.

It is the love of God which constrains us (2 Corinthians 5:14).

Prove your own selves, and may the Lord prepare you for the crucible and the furnace which assuredly await you.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

MONDAY August 20, 2018

Understanding God’s Will

Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time.

1 Corinthians 16:12

Another person in the Church was Apollos. He was very knowledgeable in the Word of God, even though, at first, he only knew the baptism of John. Aquila and Priscilla explained to him the Scriptures more fully. Like Paul, he was an excellent teacher (Acts 18:24-28). Apollos was unable to come to Corinth, but Paul understood God’s perfect timing. He did not think evil of Apollos. Paul understood God’s will and that Apollos would come when the Lord permitted.

It is important to understand that everybody has their different schedules. We should never get angry or bitter towards people when they are not able to come and do ministry with us. It is all according to God’s will.

Many people struggle with the subject of God’s will. But if we read the Scriptures daily, we will clearly understand God’s will for our lives. Understand, God’s will is that we live pure and holy lives:

It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God… For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, 7 NIV)

God’s desire is that we make the most out of every opportunity given to us. We need to understand God’s will for our lives. It is His will that we would walk carefully and wisely, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-17).

I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame, and I choose it above all things
on earth or in heaven.
-A.W. Tozer~

SUNDAY August 19, 2018

Making Disciples

And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. Therefore let no one despise him. But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I am waiting for him with the brethren.

1 Corinthians 16:10-11

Paul taught another important aspect of ministry––not only stewardship with money, but also good stewardship with people. They were to be seen as yet another opportunity in ministry. Paul’s main focus in ministry was other people and for souls to be saved.

Paul poured himself into others. He was training a young disciple named Timothy who was called into the ministry. Paul was like a father to him. Paul sent Timothy to visit the believers in Corinth. He told the Corinthians that when Timothy arrived, they needed to accept him with open arms. They should treat him right and love him.

The Corinthians should not despise Timothy or strive with him. He should not be made to feel inferior because he was young. They needed to let him be freely used by the Lord. He loved the Lord. Timothy really wanted to do ministry, and he should be allowed to teach them the Word of God.

Timothy would journey to see Paul (2 Corinthians 1:1). Can you imagine how excited Paul must have been? Once Timothy arrived to see him, they would become a great team together, doing the work of the Lord.

Like Paul, have you taken the time to disciple a young person and help equip them for the work of the ministry? We need to pour our lives into the lives of the young. One day we shall be gone; they are the Church of tomorrow––the next generation. Prayerfully ask God to help you be a good steward with all the lives of those around you.

The making of a disciple means the creating of a duplicate.
~Juan Carlos Ortiz~

SATURDAY August 18, 2018

Open Door of Opportunity

But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

1 Corinthians 16:8-9

Paul drew near to the close of his first letter to the Corinthians, but he still desired to express further what was on his mind. He would continue to write a second letter to the Corinthians. In this next letter, he told them about the sufferings he endured in the ministry and, in everything he went through, how he received comfort from the Lord.

When Paul was on his way to Corinth to be with the believers, he changed his itinerary. The Corinthians came against Paul. They criticized him, believing he was not a man of his word. They could not rely on him. Yet in their thinking and motives, they were the ones full of carnality. They did not understand the reason or the truth about Paul’s journeys.

Paul had gone to Macedonia, which is today Greece, to visit the churches there ( 2 Corinthians 1:16-17).. He went to encourage the pastors and the people in the congregation. He also went to Ephesus, until the time of Pentecost. As Paul prayed, God was shutting and opening doors. He was in God’s perfect will. As Paul served God, he encountered adversaries. Many people came against him and the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Understand that when God begins to use your life, there will be enemies; not everyone will like you––people will get jealous of God’s anointing in your life. Do not waste your time with people who do not like you, no possible way. Just keep plowing forward, and keep your eyes on the Lord.

The Lord gives to us many opportunities to share the Gospel. How many opportunities has God given to you? The question is, will you be faithful to go through the door he has opened for you in the work of the ministry?

God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible. What a pity we plan to do only the things that we can do ourselves. ~A.W. Tozer~

FRIDAY August 17, 2018

Stewardship with Opportunities

Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits.

I Corinthians 16:5-7

Paul made sure that someone was approved by the Corinthian church to carry the monetary gift needed for the Jewish Church in Jerusalem. Paul would go to Jerusalem, but he would not touch the money. He wanted to be blameless.

We need to love and care for one another in the body of Christ. We should be concerned for the poor. You can never out-give God by giving to those in need. Some people are genuinely poor, but others stand on the street corners, and they are cons. Some people do not like to work–– they want hand-outs. We need to be wise and ask God for discernment when we give to the poor.

Paul also had an opportunity to first visit Macedonia and then go onward to visit the believers in Corinth. He loved them tremendously, even though they did not believe he would come to them. The heart of Paul was always for the people; he never wanted to take anything from them. He always gave of himself to others.

Paul always prayed for open or closed doors. Notice the word if––if it was God’s will, then Paul would go. He was hoping to be with the Corinthians, if it was God’s will––then he wanted to do it. Paul recognized the Lord’s leading.

If God opens a door of opportunity, are you willing to go? Are you sensitive to what God is saying to you in your prayer life––listening?

He may want you to walk through an open door, but if it is closed, stop!

You never want to force your way through a door.

I know not the way God leads me, but well do I know my guide.
~Martin Luther~

THURSDAY August 16, 2018

God Provides Your Needs

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

Understand that if you give willingly and hilariously to the Lord, He will not let you down financially! He will take care of your needs.

However, some Christians, instead of praying for their needs, ask other people to help them. Understand that when you go to somebody else, and you tell them of your needs, and then you receive provision, that is not the Lord. When the Lord provides your needs, it is in answer to your prayers. When you pray, God will speak to a person’s heart. They will be moved to help––that is the way it works. Then you can give thanks to God.

One time an evangelist made his needs known to others––black shoes, size 9, and a tape recorder. Somebody gave him those things. Then he went and told Pastor Chuck Smith, “Look how God provided!” Chuck corrected him and said, “No, you go thank the person who gave those things. You told them your needs. So do not thank God. Thank them.”

It is important not to tell other people your needs. Remember, God is in control. He knows what your needs are. Prayerfully wait on Him.

Some people are not really good at handling their money. Think of all the people who go crazy with credit cards; they get into great debt, and that is not good house management. My philosophy is the same as Pastor Chuck Smith. He taught me––if you cannot afford it, do not buy it.

Many times, God cannot trust people with money because they do not manage their money well. They need a balanced budget. God will give you the bigger things, if you are faithful with the little things (Luke 16:10).

To keep debt, dirt, and the Devil out of my cottage has been my greatest wish ever since I set up housekeeping… Poverty is hard,
but debt is horrible.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

WEDNESDAY August 15, 2018

Do You Handle Money Well?

And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.

I Corinthians 16:3-4

Paul wanted to remain blameless. He did not want to handle any money. He had told the Corinthian believers of the financial needs in Jerusalem. They should assign a responsible person to carry the gift to the city, and Paul would go with them.

Paul was wise. Many people get themselves into financial trouble when they have no accountability. Pastor Chuck Smith always taught us to stay away from counting money in the Church. I know my spiritual gifts––they are to preach and teach God’s Word. Like Paul, I stay away from money to be blameless. Our main focus at CCGS is to give God’s Word out to the people.

Churches need to have a board to hold them accountable and to make sure, financially, everything is in order. Then, if ever there is an accusation, a good paper trail has been kept to trace their finances. Many churches receive a black eye when audited by the IRS. Our church has certified CPA audits; they come once a year to check the books. They look at every receipt before giving us a final report.

Many churches place so much emphasis on giving money, when they should never beg for finances. We never want to get caught up in money issues. In fact, we have learned some amazing lessons as we continue to trust, believe and watch God provide.

What about your own personal finances; are you responsible and careful in your spending? One day we will have to give an account to God.

There are two ways in which a Christian may view his money — “‘How much of my money shall I use for God?’” or “‘How much of God's money shall I use for myself?’”
~W. Graham Scroggie~

TUESDAY August 14, 2018

Good Stewardship

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, that there be no collections when I come.

1 Corinthians 16:1-2

Paul concluded the book of 1 Corinthians by dealing with three main areas of ministry: stewardship, money and God given opportunities, given by God to each of us individually. The word stewardship means “house manager.” We are entrusted by God to manage everything He has given to us. In the call to ministry, we tend to forget that it is not our ministry; it is God’s ministry.

Christians need to be good stewards of everything that is given to them by the Lord. They need to value His resources and use them with diligence. Understand, these things were given to us by the Lord; we are to never take advantage and selfishly use what God has given to us.

Paul shared with the Corinthian church about the collection to be taken for those in Jerusalem who were poor––those who were really struggling and had no money––nothing. Notice how Paul wanted to be blameless; he stayed clear of handling the money. He let the Christians in Corinth know of the financial needs in Jerusalem; he laid it on their hearts to give and collect the offering.

Understand, the Jews would worship from Friday sundown until Saturday sundown the next day. Once Jesus died on the cross and resurrected, the Church started to worship on Sunday, not on Saturday. Sunday is the first day of the week. Notice, Paul did not talk so much about the amount to be given, but the heart of giving. I believe you need to give your best to the Lord. You can never out-give God. Remember, it is more blessed to give than to receive. How can God be honored with your finances?

The world asks what does a man own?
Christ asks, how does he use it?
~Andrew Murray~

MONDAY August 13, 2018

Be Steadfast

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

Notice how we are to live the Christian life; we are to keep busy, always serving the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Lord returns, He should find us doing what we were called to do. So we need to continue to be: steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.

Nehemiah was called by God to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. He began the task in tears, prayer and fasting. Nehemiah encountered a lot of opposition from enemies both outside and inside the city. They came against the work of God. Yet this man of God never budged. Despite their mockery, false accusation, and other constant attacks, Nehemiah continued to rebuild the wall. He rallied the people, and under his leadership, the wall was completed in 52 days (Nehemiah 1-6).

Christians should not get disillusioned, become weak, or lose heart in their service to God. They should always place their eyes on Jesus Christ. Understand, each of us individually will be rewarded in eternity, so do not give up. We must pursue the Lord always and be rooted and grounded in His Word.

Then, as God places something on our hearts to do for Him, we will be guided by His Word. God will give us His strength, wisdom, protection and provision to fulfill all that He has called us to do.

For it is in Him [Christ], and in Him alone, that men will find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge …in spirit I am by your side, watching like a proud father the solid steadfastness
of your faith in Christ.
~Colossians 2:1-7 (J.B. Phillips)~

SUNDAY August 12, 2018

Saved by Christ Alone

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:56-57

How do we have victory over sin and death? Not through Jesus’ mother Mary, not through Buddha, not through Krishna, nor through Mohammad, but through our Lord Jesus Christ. It is important to understand what the Scriptures declare concerning our salvation; it is only through Jesus Christ: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Jesus told Thomas, one of His disciples: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).The Apostle Paul also made it clear that salvation was only through Jesus Christ. God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth: For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all…(1 Timothy 2:5-6).

Jesus Christ died for our sins. Do you really know what victory was gained by 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 (2 Timothy 1:9-10).

Are you attempting by your own merits to get to heaven? Have you placed your trust in someone other than Jesus Christ to have your sins forgiven? May the truth of what is taught in the Scriptures lead you to genuine salvation through Jesus Christ alone.

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~

SATURDAY August 11, 2018

Citizens of Heaven

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”

1 Corinthians 15:53-55

Is death is swallowed up in defeat? No! In victory! This is a victory for the Church! The Apostle Paul reaffirmed the hope of the Resurrection and the hope of our earthly bodies being transformed into glorious bodies:

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself (Philippians 3:20-21).

The Old Testament saints, Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham, understood that they were pilgrims on this earth. They were just passing through:

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Hebrews 11:13). …they desire a better, that is, country, a heavenly country. Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city (Hebrews 11:16).

Abraham knew the promises of God. He looked forward to eternity with God: For he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10). What are you looking forward to in this journey of life?

Christians have a dual citizenship on earth and in heaven––and our citizenship in heaven ought to make us better people here on earth.
~Warren W. Wiersbe~

FRIDAY August 10, 2018

The Mystery of the Rapture

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

I Corinthians 15:50-52

The Apostle Paul gave to us an incredible insight of a great event that is going to take place. In fact, he thought it would happen in his own time. It is the Rapture of the Church where, in a twinkle of an eye, at the last trumpet, believers in Christ will not physically die, but they will be taken to heaven. You would never find the word Rapture in the Bible, but we do find the Greek word Harpazo, the phrase meaning “caught up.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 speaks about the Rapture of the Church. It is a mystery where millions of people will disappear. Imagine, there is an entire generation that is not going to die physically. In that moment they will receive a new incorruptible body. I believe, as I read the Scriptures, that at the trumpet sound and in a twinkle of the eye, during the Rapture, the bodies of Christians will be immediately glorified. They will be instantly in the presence of the Lord.

The word changed in the Greek is allasso, meaning “to transform.” There is going to be an instant transformation of those raptured to heaven. It is just like a butterfly that comes out of its cocoon, but it will happen so fast that we will not see it.

If Jesus came today, would you be ready to go?

We shall be changed! The perishable raised imperishable; the mortal becoming immortal; weakness giving way to power; the natural to the spiritual. When Christ comes, we shall be changed!
~A.W. Tozer~

THURSDAY August 9, 2018

The Image of the Heavenly Man

As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

I Corinthians 15:48-49

Paul explained to the Corinthian believers about the first man Adam and how he sinned, but Christ came to take away sin. To those who are born again, there is given an incredible promise. As we were of Adam, now we are going to become like Jesus Christ Himself. One of these days we are going to be just like Him––I love it! We will be known as He is known, and we will be able to recognize everybody in heaven (1 Corinthians 13:12).

A Christian who believes in Jesus Christ will die in Jesus Christ, and they will one day receive a heavenly body. They will be with the Lord in heaven. Imagine our new bodies in heaven; we shall be able to see the Apostles: Paul, Peter, James and all the martyrs of the first century Church. They are all there in eternity. It must be incredible when you first enter in the gates of heaven and see all the billions and billions of people in eternity, before the presence of the Lord.

We know in the Last Days, before Christ returns, things will grow worse and worse (2 Timothy 3:1-5), but in heaven it is going to be incredible.

We have an amazing hope to share with other people––a hope that is laid up in heaven for us. It is written in the word of truth––the Gospel (Colossians 1:5). At this time, we need to focus on the Author and Finisher of our faith––Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:2).

Bless God that there is in us resurrection life, and that there awaits us a resurrection morn!
~J. J. Bonar~

WEDNESDAY August 8, 2018

The Lord from Heaven

However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.

I Corinthians 15:46-47

Paul told the Corinthian believers that the natural body first dies and then afterwards comes the spiritual body. Adam was made of the earth; his physical body eventually died, whereas Jesus, though coming in the likeness of man, is fully God. He told the people: “…I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38). He came and died on the cross for our sins. What did He do after He died? He resurrected. Before His death Jesus declared:

“…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” (John 10:17-18).

Jesus is God. The Scriptures reveal the deity of Jesus Christ to us:

In the beginning was the Word, [Jesus Christ] and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (John 1:1-3).

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:9-10).

For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one (1 John 5:7).

Only the Lord from heaven––Jesus Christ, God’s only Begotten Son–– could save us from our sins because He is sinless. His sacrificial death was accepted by God the Father.

And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.
~1 John 3:5~

TUESDAY August 7, 2018

Christ Gives Us Spiritual Life

It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

1 Corinthians 15:44-45

Notice how simply Paul explained the resurrection. The flesh––our natural body––first has to die physically, and then comes the spiritual body. When somebody dies, if you pick up their body, there is no spirit. The body is placed in the grave, and over time, it turns into worms until there is nothing left; it goes back into the earth, but our spirit will live on forever and ever in a glorified body in heaven.

Paul explained the Scriptures concerning the first and second Adam. The first man Adam sinned, and Christ––the last Adam, redeemed us by His blood. He became the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and through Him we have eternal life (John 1:4, 29). Paul theologically explained about this further in Romans 5:12-21.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, sin entered the world: Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12). Adam was our earthly father and Eve our mother, and because of their sin, we are now living in a world full of sin, and our sins have separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2).

In the Old Testament, God’s people would have to shed the blood of an animal to cover their sin (Hebrews 9:22). In the New Testament, Jesus came, died on the cross, and through His shed blood, took away our sins once and for all (Hebrews 9:23-28). Now when we are convicted by the Holy Spirit, we can ask Jesus Christ to forgive us, and He will cleanse and wash us of our sin by His blood (1 John 1:7-10).

…in whom we have redemption through His [Jesus] blood, the forgiveness of sins.
~Colossians 1:14~

MONDAY August 6, 2018

The Opportunity for Eternal Life

Jesus said to him [His disciple Thomas], “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 14:6

People who deny the truth and have not accepted Jesus Christ as the only way to receive eternal life, will not go to heaven; they will die in their sins (Romans 6:23).

There is a big difference between heaven and hell. In heaven, there will not be any sickness, sorrow, death or darkness (Revelation 21). Yet people in hell will be in darkness, not for a hundred years, but for all eternity, as they think back over their lives and all the sins they committed––never to be erased. Understand, a person in hell never dies; they remain completely conscious of everything.

Imagine how Hitler, after he killed 6 million Jews, must be tormented in hell! There are degrees of punishment in hell. For all eternity there will be gnashing of teeth, wailing, torment, screaming and yelling. I believe one of the worst things to happen to a person is that they will never be able to see the light; they will never see God. Instead, they will spend all eternity in darkness with every foul demon and wicked person––that is the second death (Revelation 20).

People do not understand or realize that the only opportunity they have to accept God’s plan of salvation is right now. Once they close their eyes and take their last breath, that is it––they are done (Hebrews 9:27). The angels come and take them to hell. When a Christian dies, the angels take them to heaven. When the thief on the cross was being crucified alongside Jesus, he said; “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus told him: “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:42-43).

Seriously, Jesus is the only way to heaven. Please, I beg you, do not wait––accept Jesus Christ as you Savior today!

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
~2 Corinthians 6:2~

SUNDAY August 5, 2018

Our Hope of Heaven

So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.

1 Corinthians 15:42-43

Paul explained to the Corinthians that once a person dies, their body will go back into the earth and decay. It is corruptible. However, our bodies will be raised in glory. There was hope given to them of a brand new, beautiful, perfect body without any disease! Understand, our spirits are eternal––living forever in a glorified body.

I have seen many elderly people, those who do not know the Lord, lose hope. They just sit in their chairs, not even watching television. They lie on their beds early in the evening just thinking and contemplating. Think of the torture in their minds as they endure life without Christ.

As Christians, we need to prepare for whatever illness may come. We must never allow the enemy––Satan––to place doubts about the resurrection in our minds. Believers in Christ should be excited because they have an eternal hope. They should wait for death with great anticipation, because they know they will be with Christ in heaven. One day we will have a glorified body. In heaven there will be no more pain, tears, sorrow or death (Revelation 21:4).

How different things will be for those who reject Christ. I think of all my family that did not receive Jesus Christ as their Savior; I will never see them again. Those who go to hell will remember everything. They will be able to think back to the time when they rejected Jesus Christ––they did not believe in Him. People will be able to look back with regret on everything they did forever and ever––but not us.

Beyond this vale of tears there is a life above; unmeasured by the flight of years, and all that life is love.
~James Montgomery~

SATURDAY August 4, 2018

God’s Glorious Creation

There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.

1 Corinthians 15:40-41

Paul continued to speak about the different distinctions between celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies. There are celestial bodies that we see in the heavens: the moon, the stars and the sun. Then there are terrestrial bodies––earthly bodies––human beings, beasts and insects. Though a believer’s body may die, in the resurrection they will be given a new glorified body fit for heaven.

During the night at San Onofre, I looked up into the sky with some of the men I go surfing with, and we saw a satellite go by. It was amazing. Then against the dark sky, we observed the stars––incredible. These men were non-believers, and, as we stared at the starry sky, I made a significant comment, “Look how God has created this amazing universe.”

Everything God created is for His glory. Psalm 19:1 tells us: The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. The Bible declares: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). What is even more incredible is that God sent His Son from heaven to earth to die for our sins (Philippians 2:5-8).

Have you ever looked up into the heavens and everything on earth and really considered who created all these things? Have you thanked and worshiped our Creator for sending Jesus Christ to be our Savior?

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?
~Psalm 8:3-4~

FRIDAY August 3, 2018

Be Certain About Eternity

But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.

I Corinthians 15:38-39

Paul made a distinction between the different types of bodies, those of plants and animals. But what kind of body will we have? It is a mystery. But when Jesus died, He had a body that could walk through walls. He could eat and drink. One day we are going to have a glorified body. In heaven we shall recognize each other. The Bible teaches that we shall be known as He was known (1 John 3:2). We shall be like Jesus.

We have no guarantees in life for tomorrow. Jesus taught us to abide daily with Him (John 15). We make plans in life and that is great, but we need to make sure we are walking with the Lord, because if you die today, you do not want to make a mistake and miss eternity.

Once you die, there are no second chances, and there is no purgatory. You cannot pray for the dead to go from one place to another. There is only heaven and hell. Yet people play with their lives and their souls. What if you died in a car accident tonight? All of a sudden eternity is before you. You do not want to gamble with eternity. We think it is always going to be somebody else who will die, but your day to die might be today!

You want to make sure you know in whom you believe so that, if you died of a heart attack or in an accident, you know you would be in the presence of the Lord––that is the assurance you have.

Nothing but glory will make tight and fast our leaking and rifty vessels.
~Samuel Rutherford~

THURSDAY August 2, 2018

How Are the Dead Raised Up?

But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain.

I Corinthians 15:35-37

Paul taught that the moment a believer dies and takes their last breath, and their brain stops functioning, their spirit, the real person within them, comes out of their body, and instantly, they are present with the Lord. The old tent––their dead body––stays back here on earth. It is lifeless, and the physical body decays.

When my father died, his chest caved in, and I was the one who wrapped him and picked him up to take him to the hearse. There were people ready to take him to a place where they would prepare him for his burial. He was so light––there was no life left in him. I knew that was not my real dad because he was now in the presence of the Lord.

What a real hope and genuine assurance we have when we know Jesus Christ. We are not afraid to die. If we died today, our bodies would become like an empty shell, and we would be in the presence of the Lord. Can you imagine when we take our last breath and enter eternity?

Make sure in whom you believe, because you will have great assurance at the time of your death. John, the beloved disciple of Christ, wrote in

1 John 5:13:

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Does your faith in Christ stand in the full assurance of His salvation?

Faith rests on the naked Word of God; that Word believed
gives full assurance.
~H. A. Ironside~

WEDNESDAY August 1, 2018

Awake to Righteousness

Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.

I Corinthians 15:33-34

Paul warned the Corinthians of deception. They needed to wake up! He wanted them to understand that if they hung around those who held to the philosophy: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die,” then they would be infected by them, and their lives as Christians would be corrupted.

People in the Church, and especially young adults in High School, need to learn: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” Christians who study and obey the Word of God have established good habits, but if they begin to hang around bad company, they will be influenced to compromise. They will stumble as they become just like them. When a believer compromises, they think, I am only going to have this one drink.

Pastor Chuck Smith used to say, if you came out of the world and you were an alcoholic, then you should not get a coke from the bar. If you were a homosexual, then you surely do not want to go to West Hollywood, because you will fall into sin and end up backsliding. Do not hang out with people who used to do the things you did when you were in the world.

Be careful with the friends you choose. It is important to understand that you become who you hang out with. Are they trying to get you away from God, or are you drawing them to God?

Think of how many people fall into sin by feeding their fleshly desires when they watch movies or programs on their computer. They ask pastors, “Why did I fall?” But no wonder! Whatever you feed your fleshly desires with that will influence your character, and who you are going to be. We should know better because we know the Word of God. We should be investing in the kingdom of God and not our flesh.

Associate yourself with people of good quality for it is better to be alone than in bad company.
~A. W. Tozer~

TUESDAY July 31, 2018

Eat, Drink for Tomorrow We Die?

I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

I Corinthians 15:31-32

Paul was willing to face death daily for Jesus Christ. He wanted the Corinthians to understand about dying to their fleshly desires daily, but also in life they could die anytime. Paul recalled the fierce persecution that he had encountered in Ephesus. The Romans placed Christians in an arena with lions. We do not have any records, but it could have been possible that Paul referenced a time when he fought hand to hand with lions.

Paul also mentioned our position––it is always––in Christ. Every time you see in Christ in your Bible, you should mark it. Paul also referred back to the hope of the Resurrection. If there was no God and no Resurrection of Christ, then what was the sense of him being persecuted and facing beasts in Ephesus? If what he believed about the Resurrection was false, then He had no hope. So why would he risk his life?

Seriously, if there is no hope for us in the resurrection, we might as well eat and drink because, when we die, we shall be non-existent. Sadly, this is still the philosophy of the world today: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” People who have this mindset believe there is no longer any hope for tomorrow. No hope in the resurrection. But that is not true.

Paul used common sense to combat this way of thinking. People who have embraced this worldly philosophy need to be reached with the Gospel. They need to be convinced that there is life after death. Nobody knows when they are going to die––their day may come today! Hopefully they will not gamble with their souls in the face of eternity.

The great weight of eternity hangs upon the small wire of time.
~Thomas Brooks~

MONDAY July 30, 2018

Christians in Jeopardy

Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour?

I Corinthians 15:29-30

Paul addressed another issue in the Corinthian Church, the baptizing of people for the dead. The Corinthians may have adopted pagan practices and mixed them with Christian tradition. The Mormons use this Scripture to support baptizing people for the dead. We do not accept it as doctrine because Jesus did not teach it, we do not find it taught in the Gospels, and we do not find it practiced in the Book of Acts or Paul’s Epistles.

Paul the Apostle’s life was constantly in jeopardy, and he was exposed to danger. The Pharisees hated him as they hated Christ. There will also be those who will hate you. Honestly, we are living in days when we are in danger almost every hour. In America, if there is a change towards a more liberal government, decisions and changes will be made against our religious freedom. In the future, as Christians, we could be in jeopardy, and many people could be killed for the sake of the Gospel.

I believe we are in one of the most desperate times in America’s history. I think of the young people who have their lives ahead of them. They are the ones who are going to see major changes in America and in the world. I believe with all my heart, it is all leading to the One World Government.

In the Midwest, many people have armed themselves with guns. They are ready to protect their homes and their families in case of a revolution that they believe may come in the future. If that happens, there will be military conflict in the streets. We are watching and experiencing all these different issues––but so many people are blind to what is going on in our world today.

Who more innocent than Christ? And who more persecuted? The world is the world still.
~John Flavel~

SUNDAY July 29, 2018

All Things Subject to Christ

For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

1 Corinthians 15:27-28

Throughout the Bible, we see how the Trinity––God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit––works together in harmony––three in One. Paul spoke about the dominative reign of Jesus Christ and God the Father in the time to come. We understand that Satan had already lost the battle when Jesus died on the Cross for our redemption.

Christians who were raptured to heaven will come back with Jesus Christ at the Second Coming to reign and rule with Him. We will have our new immortal bodies. However, after a thousand years, Satan will be let out of the bottomless pit to tempt the nations. He will gather an army that rebels against Christ, which will be destroyed. Satan and every demon will be brought into submission. They will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7-10).

At The Great White Throne Judgment, the books will be opened, and those who were not found in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire. Every person who took the mark of the beast on their forehead or on the back of their hand will also be thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death (Revelation 20:11-15). Then God will create a new heaven and a new earth, and Christ will rule and reign forever (Revelation 21).

Incredibly we have the promise of the Holy Spirit given to us as a guarantee of our salvation (Ephesians 1:14).

In Him [Jesus] you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.
~Ephesians 1:13~

SATURDAY July 28, 2018

Death the Last Enemy

Then comes the end, when He [Jesus] delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.

1 Corinthians 15:24-26

What is the last enemy that Paul mentioned? Christ’s victory over a final enemy. Death is the last enemy that Christ will vanquish. I love that! Understand that we are a trichotomy––body, soul and spirit. Our bodies hold our spirit within us. Even though our cells regenerate, every day we are dying. Over time, as we look in the mirror, or if we look back at an old picture of ourselves, we can see the difference in our appearance.

We should not be depressed as we grow older; we should be excited! Paul encouraged us when he said: 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). Paul was saying that our bodies will eventually collapse and die, but inwardly our spirit––the real us––is being renewed day by day. The older we become, the younger we become in spirit, ready to be in the presence of the Lord. That is why we have such a great hope––the Resurrection––the raising up of a person.

One day, Jesus Christ is going to come again at the Rapture of the Church (1 Corinthians 15:52-54). Then, while believers are in heaven, the seven-year tribulation period will happen on the earth, followed by the Second Coming of Christ. This is when Jesus sets up His kingdom for a thousand years, and Satan will be bound for a thousand years in the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1-3).

Both Jew and Gentile will go into the kingdom age and repopulate the earth during the thousand years of Christ’s reign, after the Great Tribulation. Understand, there is going to be a judgment day, and there is going to be a resurrection day!

The resurrection and the judgement will demonstrate before all worlds who won and who lost. We can wait.
~A. W. Tozer~

FRIDAY July 27, 2018

Christ the Firstfruits

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

I Corinthians 15:22-23

Paul plainly stated the reason for why we all die. It is because of sin. He spoke about the sin of Adam and Eve. They partook of the forbidden fruit, and because of their disobedience, death spread to all men. Adam and Eve brought sin into the world. If Adam and Eve had never sinned in the Garden of Eden, we would live in a different world––but they did sin, and now we are all born in sin and need a Savior.

As believers, the moment we die, we are in the presence of the Lord. Paul gave us this assurance when he said:

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

The first resurrection continues over a process of time as Christians die and go to heaven. It began with Christ; He is the firstfruits, and it will be completed when Christians from the tribulation period are martyred and enter into the heaven. After the Day of the Lord––God’s Judgment on the earth––the tribulation period, Jesus returns to earth with His saints to establish the kingdom of God.

The second resurrection is the resurrection of damnation––the second death. This happens at the end of the thousand year millennial reign of Jesus Christ at the White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20). It is important not to get confused with the resurrection.

God fits our souls here to possess a glorious body after; and he will fit the body for a glorious soul.
~Richard Sibbes~

THURSDAY July 26, 2018

Hope of Eternal life

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.

I Corinthians 15:20-21

Paul, through his own personal witness and the Scriptures, had given to the Corinthians the assurance that Christ was not in the grave––the Resurrection was not a myth––Christ was risen!

Romans 5:12-20 explains to us how death came through Adam’s sin but eternal life came through Christ. Eternal life is a present gift, but the believer enters into the fullness of it when they die.

Understand that in the Old Testament, everyone who died went to Hades where there where two separate compartments, one side of torment, and the other of comfort called Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16).

In the New Testament, after Jesus died on the cross, He went down into hell, and those captive on the side of Abraham’s bosom, He set free! The saints of old, who died before the cross, were taken to heaven. Then hell became one massive place. Ephesians 4:8-10 gives to us the explanation:

“When He [Jesus Christ] ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Jesus made a change, anyone who died after the Cross went to heaven immediately, as Paul says in (2 Corinthians 5:8). Do you see how important it is to grasp the Scriptures?

We may positively state that nobody has made any progress in the school of Christ, unless he cheerfully looks forward towards the day of his death, and towards the day of the final resurrection.
~John Calvin~

WEDNESDAY July 25, 2018

Thorn in the Flesh

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.

2 Corinthians 12:7-8

Can you imagine what Paul must have felt like when he had a thorn in his flesh? He asked God to remove it three times, but God allowed it to remain. The Lord told Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul surrendered to God’s will. He wrote: Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Many people suffer with cancer, and they sometimes get very concerned. I do not blame them. But God is in control. Ask yourself, “Who has allowed these things to happen?” Whatever we are going through, whether it is cancer, diabetes, stroke, headaches or stress, know that God has you where He wants you. Seriously, is God in charge or not? Otherwise, you would not suffer with such an illness.

I believe with all my heart that if we do not suffer, we will never know God’s will or know Him intimately. I never really knew about suffering; I honestly thought that illness was for those who were weak people. But when I begin to suffer, I began to understand, and I repented before God for my lack of compassion towards others. I understand that the Lord allows these situations, not only to open our hearts so we can really trust Him, but He also uses affliction for His purposes and His glory.

Unless we are raptured, every one of us will die, and God knows when that time will be. We are here temporarily, so we cannot get comfortable.

If we remember that by death we are called back from exile to home, to our heavenly fatherland, shall we then not be filled with comfort?
~John Calvin~

TUESDAY July 24, 2018

What is Heaven Like?

I know a man in Christ…such a one was caught up to the third heaven. …whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities

2 Corinthians 12:2-5

The Apostle Paul was caught up into Paradise, he did not know if he was dead or alive. It was possible that this happened when he was stoned in Lystra and left for dead (Acts 14:19-22), or he could have had a vision. Either way, he had no words to describe what he had seen and heard in Paradise. It was a mystery.

Even though Paul saw Paradise, there remained in his life a thorn in his flesh. The reason God allowed Paul to suffer physically was to keep him where he wanted him to be––living by God’s sufficiency and by His grace.

When Christians become sick and near death, they are not afraid to die. God has given them the assurance of heaven through His Word. It is as if they are not even here on earth anymore. They are just about a breath away from heaven. The angels wait as if to say, “Let us go!” The moment they take their last breath, the angels take them to the very throne of God.

Sometimes we become skeptics. As we are human, we can have lapses of faith, and Satan is there, whispering to us not to believe. He brings doubt into our hearts, especially for those dealing with illnesses. We have to mediate on what is written in the Bible about heaven and believe in it. Otherwise, we are going to struggle when we are dying on our beds.

Do you have the assurance of heaven?

The Christian's heaven is to be with Christ, for we shall be like him when we see him as he is.
~Charles Hodge~

MONDAY July 23, 2018

Men Most Pitiable

Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

I Corinthians 15:18-19

Notice how Paul concluded his argument for the resurrection. If the resurrection is not true, then we are pitiable––miserable––because anyone who had already died would have perished without hope. Many people in this world are miserable because they do not have Jesus, and they have no hope. Incredibly, we do have hope because of what has been written in the Scriptures. How sad not to have the hope of salvation.

In all four Gospels is the record of Jesus’ death and burial. While buried in the tomb, many things were happening behind the scenes. When Jesus gave His last words on the Cross and His spirit departed, at that time, Jesus went down into hell to Abraham’s bosom, which is amazing to me. This is a place where the saints––all those who were made righteous by faith––waited for Christ to come after being resurrected (Luke 16). When Jesus came, they all packed up and ascended to heaven with Him (Ephesians 4:8-10).

Notice Jesus’ words to the thief who accepted Him––while the other thief rejected Him––as He hung on the Cross: “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). The thief who accepted Him while he died on a cross went to Paradise that same day!

I believe with all my heart that the reason people backslide is because they really do not have a picture of what heaven is going to be like. How can they stop attending church and walk away from Christ when these things written in the Scriptures are a reality––they are true?

Heaven is a reality, not seen by eyes of flesh, but made known by revelation and received by faith.
~Archibald Alexander~

SUNDAY July 22, 2018

Faith that is Futile

For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

1 Corinthians 15:16-17

Notice, Paul was very repetitious in his argument for the Resurrection. He gave the Corinthians an important key in its defense. If the Resurrection was false, they remained dead in their sins. That meant they were not cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb; they were not going to heaven; there was no redemption––there was nothing––it was all emptiness.

How sad it would be if we had no hope, no assurance of our salvation or of our resurrection after death. If heaven was not real––it was found to be a myth––then we would not see any of our loved ones who have died. If we become non-existent, then we might as well eat, drink and die. But that is not true. Paul spoke about life after death––our resurrection.

False teachers try to destroy the foundation of the Resurrection, especially in the lives of young believers. They do not try to persuade those who are mature in the faith, but those who are babies in Christ. False prophets and teachers will always go after young believers and try to brainwash them. They try to take them away from the truth of Jesus Christ. But the Holy Spirit seals our hearts and minds, and, as we grow in the Scriptures, we can stand on the solid foundation of the Resurrection. We will be able to give people, those questioning our faith, an answer.

There are many people in the world who do not have the assurance of Christ’s Resurrection. It is so simple to go to heaven, and yet, people go to hell because they refuse to believe. Matthew 25:41 tells us that hell was made for the devil and his demons; it was never created for man. Through unbelief, man chooses to go into eternity without Christ, and without hope, into hell, and then into the Lake of Fire.

It is unbelief that shuts the door to heaven and opens it to hell. It is unbelief that rejects the Word of God and refuses Christ as Savior…
~Billy Graham~

SATURDAY July 21, 2018

Found False Witnesses?

Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.

1 Corinthians 15:15

In Corinth and among the Greeks, there were people who did not believe in the resurrection. Among them were false teachers who tried to deceive and discourage the people. Yet Paul, with the love of Christ, tried with a logical argument to say that if Christ had not resurrected from the dead, then there was nothing after death. Then Paul and those with him would be found false witnesses. But in truth, Christ had risen from the dead.

Paul was a true witness of Christ’s Resurrection. He gave to the Corinthians his final analysis and made people responsible for the words he gave to them. He used the Old Testament Scriptures to back up the resurrection scripturally, those verses that dealt with Christ’s death and Resurrection before it ever happened: Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Psalm 16:10.

Paul had faithfully preached the Gospel. Those people who listened could either receive the Good News, or they could reject it. They either stood in the truth of the Gospel, or they fell away. There are so many people who receive the Gospel, but they do not continue to stand in the Gospel. Christians need to stand fast in the Gospel by faith.

Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand that the sign of true salvation was if they stood fast. Remember how he told them:

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 (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).

The Corinthians could not have success unless they were fully committed and followed what Christ had said in His Word. They needed to hold fast to the Gospel. It is the same with each and every one of us.

Farewell, I wish our souls may meet with comfort at the journey’s end…
~John Bunyan~

FRIDAY July 20, 2018

Do We Have an Empty Faith?

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.

1 Corinthians 15:13-14

Paul continued his logical argument for the Resurrection. He gave a powerful defense by reasoning, if there were no resurrection; then our faith and preaching of the Gospel would be in vain. We would be wasting our time if it was not true, there would be nothing after death.

The Greek word for resurrection is used 42 times in the New Testament. The word resurrection means “raising up.” The Resurrection is the central message of Christianity. Without the Resurrection there is no hope of eternity for anyone of us. There are three proofs of the Resurrection: our salvation, the Scriptures, and the many witnesses that saw Jesus after he died and rose again. Yet people reject the Resurrection, they really do not believe in life after death. Some believe it is over for good, there is no consciousness, and we do not remember anything anymore––that is not true. There is life after death!

Our salvation is through the grace of God. We also have the Scriptures to back up what Paul has said. The New Testament was not completely written when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, so the reference to the Scriptures would be those found in the Old Testament concerning the Resurrection of Christ: Job 19:25-26, Psalm 16:8-11, Isaiah 25:8, and Isaiah 53:10. Paul also saw Jesus Christ, and he had a powerful testimony.

Each one of us has a testimony. Through Christ’s death and the shedding of His precious blood you have been given the gift of salvation––freely. As people watch your life transform, your personal testimony can be used as a great influence. It can touch many lives and lead people to Jesus Christ.

The resurrection of Christ, as the evidence of the sacrifice of his death being accepted, and of the validity of all his claims, is a much more decisive proof of the security of all who trust in him than
his death could be.
~Charles Hodge~

THURSDAY July 19, 2018

The Truth of the Resurrection

Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

1 Corinthians 15:11-12

So you do not get jealous of other people, underline 1 Corinthians 15:11. Paul explained that it did not matter who shares the Gospel with a person or if someone else leads them to know the Lord. Paul gave to us a beautiful concept. Sometimes we get to give out the Word of God, like a seed it drops down into the soil of a person’s heart. Someone else waters it, and then it grows. Then it is the Lord who does the reaping.

Earlier, in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7, Paul addressed division in the Corinthian church. He gave to them this same concept of planting and reaping:

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I 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.

Back in 1 Corinthians 15:12 Paul entered a logical argument concerning the Resurrection. He reasoned biblically with those who did not believe. We come across people like this every day––those who do not believe. Especially in universities, among the young adults; they have been brainwashed. Understand that if there is no resurrection we might as well go home and live like hell, because what hope do we have?

People who have no hope are empty, that is why they drink and take drugs, fornicate and commit adultery. People are not happy even though they may be rich; they are never happy about anything. Think of all the opportunities we have to minister to people like these.

If Christ be not risen, the dreadful consequence is not that death ends life, but that we are still in our sins.
~G. A. Studdert Kennedy~

WEDNESDAY July 18, 2018

God’s Grace Towards Us

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

1 Corinthians 15:10

Paul attributed the dramatic change in his life to the amazing grace of God. Notice how many times Paul mentioned the word grace in this verse. It was the grace of God that saved you, and it saved me! Grace made me zealous for God. This is why I go out into the streets, in the gym, or where I go, I share the grace of God. I want everybody else to know the amazing grace of God.

Pastor Chuck Smith wrote a foreword to my book Fury to Freedom. He wrote that my conversion was like that of the Paul the Apostle because I too was persecuting Christians––my father-in-law, my mother-in-law and I was mistreating my wife. I hated Christians––all those who knew the Gospel.

As I step back and look over the years of my life, I see what God has done. It is amazing. It is all the grace of God. He has brought me to a place where I feel compassion for all those who are lost. When I meet people like me, I love to talk to them, because I can relate to them.

I believe with all my heart, you have to be upfront and bold when sharing the Gospel. Even if sometimes you might get persecuted. As we give people the truth of the Gospel, often those people who persecuted us are the very ones who will come to Christ. As the Holy Spirit moves on their lives they are greatly convicted. By God’s grace, and in His perfect timing, they will come to know the unmerited favor of God that is free.

How great is the grace of God in our lives! Spend time reflecting on the grace of God in your own life. Then pray for God to give you many opportunities to share the Gospel of Grace with others.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found, t'was blind but now I see…
~John Newton~

TUESDAY July 17, 2018

Shepherd God’s Flock

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; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

1 Peter 5:2-4

Pastor Chuck Smith spoke to us about some evangelists who were running the Christian race, but they ran fast like rabbits. They did not really study because they had their own ready-made sermons they could preach. Yet, someone who teaches the Word of God steadily, line upon line, for 30, 40 even 50 years, is like a turtle. The rabbit wears out immediately, but the turtle, even though it is slow, has great endurance.

Understand, evangelism is great but it is not going to last like teaching, educating and bringing the people to maturity––this is the key. That is why I love teaching, on Sunday morning, Wednesday nights and Sunday nights. God has called me to be a shepherd, and to take care of His people. The congregation needs attending; they need to see their pastor’s presence, so they can be ministered to, as they receive the Word of God.

Men who are called and anointed to be pastors––shepherds over God’s people––need to be among the people. The duty of the pastor–teacher is to feed and tend the flock. He watches over them and tends to their needs, spiritually speaking. The pastor–teacher, is to study the Word of God, and wait on the Lord. Then he will have something to share with the people. As they are nourished, they will begin to develop and grow spiritually. This is the heart God gives to those called to leadership.

He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with
His arm, and carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those
who are with young.
~Isaiah 40:11~

MONDAY July 16, 2018

Sharing the Gospel

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

In Acts 1:8, Jesus Christ spoke His last words on earth to His disciples, and really to us. His words are words of vision because through the Holy Spirit coming upon His disciples, they would begin to do a great work in reaching the world for Christ. It is important to understand that in one sense, the book of Acts does not have an ending. We are people of the book of Acts and His works will continue from to generation to generation, until Jesus returns.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit we have the power to overcome sin, and become witnesses. The Greek word for power is dynamis meaning “might.” It is a word of action. Through the Holy Spirit’s power we can be a bold witness for Christ in our homes, at work, at school, when we go out into our neighborhoods, or wherever we travel. Witnessing does not stem from our own natural abilities; it is supernatural, through the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.

When I look at the Church of Jesus Christ today, I do not see the power of the Holy Spirit among many believers. As Christians become Spirit filled, other people should be getting saved through their witnessing and manner of life. As disciples, we need to go out and tell people about Jesus Christ, not always by preaching or teaching, but by being an example to them. They need to see our lives as we overcome sin and temptation. A life of obedience––that is it!

What type of witness are you being to those who need Christ?

And He [Jesus] said to them, "Go into all the world
and preach the gospel to all creation…”
~Mark 16:15~

SUNDAY July 15, 2018

Least of the Apostles

For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

1 Corinthians 15:9

Paul had great humility, he never bragged or spoke about himself; he always spoke about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and God used him mightily and powerfully. I like Paul’s attitude.

When Paul was saved, at first, the other Apostles did not accept or trust him. Why? He had greatly hated and persecuted the Church. When he was on his way to Damascus, the Lord appeared to him, and a light shone around him from heaven. Paul fell down. Then Jesus spoke to him: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Paul replied: “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 9:4-5).

At that particular moment Paul was converted, but the Lord had blinded him. He remained in the city for three days––blind. The Lord, in a vision spoke to Ananias, and commanded him to go lay hands on Paul so he would receive his sight. Ananias was very apprehensive because Paul was well-known for killing Christians.

But as Ananias obeyed the Lord, the scales immediately fell off Paul’s eyes and he could see. He was baptized with the Holy Spirit. Paul was never the same again. The Lord commissioned him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Notice how he was so humble in sharing his testimony (Acts 9). When Paul gave his testimony, he confessed to persecuting Christians. Paul consented to killing believers and putting them in jail: Acts 22:4-5; 1Timothy 1:12-13, and Galatians 1:13.

When was the last time you humbly shared your testimony with others?

And they [Christians] overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb [Jesus Christ] and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
~Revelation 12:11~

SATURDAY July 14, 2018

Witnesses of the Resurrection

…and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 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 15:5-8

It is incredible that the Lord placed Paul, in such a position, as to write fourteen letters to us. We see the hand of God on his letters as we can learn important doctrine. Paul referred to all the witnesses that saw the Resurrection of Jesus Christ; all those who were commissioned to spread the Gospel. It was not thousands of people who saw Him, but those who did see Jesus risen from the grave were the ones who went out and infected the whole world with the Gospel. The command of our Lord in Matthew 28:18-20, and Acts 1:1-8, is the great commission!

Paul also saw the risen Christ when he was on the road to Damascus. He referred to himself as one born out of due time. Paul recognized that he was not one of the original twelve disciples. Judas betrayed Jesus, and although the disciples cast lots, and added Matthias; later God chose Paul. He really was the one who took Judas’ place as an Apostle. This was why Paul, in his letters, referred to himself as the Apostle of Jesus Christ.

It is important to understand, not only those who saw the risen Christ were commissioned to spread the Gospel, but every single one of us has also been commissioned to take the Gospel to the world. One day we are going to die, then who is going to carry the baton of the Gospel if we do not do it? We do not have to be ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16).

When we are at home, or as we shop and go about our day, we need to share with people––giving them the truth of the Gospel. Otherwise how will they come to have a personal relationship with Christ?

When we preach Christ crucified, we have no reason to stammer, or stutter, or hesitate, or apologize; there is nothing in the gospel of which we have any cause to be ashamed.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

FRIDAY July 13, 2018

Can You Defend the Faith?

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 15:3-4

Paul gave to the Corinthians the entire Gospel because it was given to him. What a good way of witnessing! He passed down to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Also notice how Paul always used the Word of God to back up what he taught––according to the Scriptures.

Paul would have known the key passages in Scripture that described how Christ died, as in Psalm 16:10: For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. This convincing prophecy is found in Isaiah 53:8-9:

He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked—but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.

Paul knew typology, in Genesis 22, in the Old Testament, Abraham is a type of God the Father; his son Isaac is a type of Christ; the wood for the sacrifice is a type of the Cross. The three-day journey to Mount Moriah speaks of the Resurrection. All these types are shadows to come. They are found in the New Testament and demonstrate the truth of Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures.

The majority of Christians cannot defend their faith. The problem is their lack of studying and knowing God’s Word. We need to learn from Paul how to defend our faith using the Scriptures. If Jehovah Witnesses or Mormons came to your door with their doctrine, can you defend your Christian faith? They stand fast on false doctrine, but you have the true doctrine. The problem is, do you know biblical doctrine?

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
~2 Timothy 2:15~

THURSDAY July 12, 2018

Declare the Gospel

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.

1 Corinthians 15:1-2

Paul declared the Gospel––the good news. He gave the Corinthians the genuine belief concerning the Cross, the Blood, the Resurrection, Christ’s Ascension, with Jesus Christ sitting at the right hand of the Father, and then, Christ’s Return. That is the Gospel! Paul placed a strong emphasis on the Gospel. Notice the three words he used in reference to the Gospel: the Gospel is preached, it is received, and in the Gospel we stand. We stand firm in the Gospel by faith in Jesus Christ––unmovable.

Paul greatly encouraged us to continue in the faith and not to fall away. If we continue to stand firm in the Gospel, we will be saved. If we do not continue in the faith, then we are going to be in deep trouble. If we sin, instead of moving away from Christ, we need to ask for forgiveness. First 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.

Nothing can remove someone from the Gospel of Jesus Christ if they are truly born again by the Holy Spirit––there is no possible way, so long as they abide in Christ (John 15). The only way a person falls away from the Gospel is when the Word of God is being preached, and they do not listen. They do not receive it, but continuously reject the Word of God; then they do not stand, but fall into sin. If there is no true repentance, that person’s faith is in vain.

It is really wise to understand the Gospel; it brings us to salvation. Without the Gospel, there is no salvation. It is incredible how the Gospel works. The Gospel is about Jesus Christ–– Himself. Through Christ who came, died and rose again, we have the hope of eternal life.

The power to proclaim the greatest news in heaven or on earth was not given to the angels. It was given to redeemed men… Every Christian is to be a witness; every follower of Christ is to preach the Gospel.
~Billy Graham~

WEDNESDAY July 11, 2018

Will You Choose Heaven or Hell?

“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

Paul taught the truth of the Resurrection in 1 Corinthian 15. For the child of God he gave a solid, doctrinal implication that there was something eternal when they died––it was eternal life:

So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).

When a Christian dies they go to heaven. But a non-believer, who chooses not to repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, will condemn themselves to hell––a place of torment in outer darkness (Matthew 8:12; Matthew 25:41).

Chuck Smith gave an illustration of darkness when he went into the Oregon caves. He walked downward, deep into the earth, and then the guide turned off the lights. Chuck said there was an eerie feeling, because you could not even see your hand. Imagine being in such darkness forever, never to see the light, and while in darkness, to remain in torment and pain. In hell, a person has their memory and will be able to go back over the years they lived on the earth––thinking, for all eternity, of everything they did. That is real torture and torment.

In Revelation 20:10-15, Satan, the Antichrist, and all the demons, along with hell and death, will be cast into the Lake of Fire. When the Book of Life is opened, whoevers’ name is not found written in the Book was also cast into the Lake of Fire forever. Think about how horrible that is!

I cannot preach on hell, unless I preach with tears.
~D. L. Moody~

TUESDAY July 10, 2018

Turning Away From the 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

Some of the believers in the Church of Corinth had the same skeptical attitudes of the Greeks. At this time in Church history, Greek philosophies had invaded and infected the Church.

In the Church today, many people are infected by the Emerging Church movement, and they have moved away from a true faith into a false faith––it is sad. I believe with all my heart, the problem is that these people were not rooted and grounded in God’s Word. They do not know God’s Word. Anyone who is not grounded in the Scriptures will become a great candidate for deception. They are unstable and can easily be deceived into believing in false doctrine. Paul warned Timothy that people such as these have itching ears––they listen to false teachers. As a result, they turn their ears from listening to the truth of God’s Word.

Imagine the deception Satan has brought to different people and cultures in the world. I have traveled all over the Orient to Thailand, Japan and China. I have encountered religions with strange doctrines, such as Buddhism and Taoism. People there are deceived. Yet despite false teaching, China, through the underground Church, has a great revival happening. Many Chinese people are tired of doctrines that have left their lives empty and without hope.

We are so blessed to live in America, the land of the free, where the Bible is taught and honored almost everywhere and anywhere.

Just as America has grown and prospered within our framework of our constitution, so Christianity has flourished and spread according to the laws set forth in the Bible.
~Billy Graham~

MONDAY July 9, 2018

Preach the Resurrection of Christ

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

Acts 17:30-31

Corinth was a Greek city. The Greeks did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. Paul had traveled to Athens to preach and declared that Christ had resurrected. In Acts 17:32, some of the listeners made fun of Paul, while others got hooked by what he preached. They wanted to meet with him and hear him further on the subject of the resurrection: And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.”

In Greek theology, the people believed in many gods. Most Greek philosophies considered the human body as a prison, and they welcomed death as a deliverance from bondage. So they really did not care what they did with their bodies––their flesh was as nothing. It was not sinful to have sexual encounters. That is why sin was prevalent in Corinth. It was a city of pleasure where 1000 prostitutes would come down every night to seduce the men. Men and women had a great time in Corinth fulfilling their fleshly desires.

Paul wrote a great chapter, 1 Corinthians 15, which has 58 verses. It is literally one of the greatest seminary courses––an exegesis––that gives an explanation of biblical text about the resurrection from the dead. Listening to Paul, it would be difficult to walk away from this chapter not convinced that the Resurrection is real. Because Paul spoke on the Resurrection, he was also able to tie in the subject of the Rapture of the Church, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58––amazing.

The angel rolled away the stone from Jesus’ tomb, not to let the living Lord out but to let the unconvinced outsiders in.
~Donald Grey Barnhouse~

SUNDAY July 8, 2018

Decently and in Order

Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.

1 Corinthians 14:39-40

The Apostle Paul ended 1 Corinthians 14 with a final therefore. He once again placed emphasis on the gift of prophecy; it is a principle gift because it is used in the teaching of God’s Word. Paul also taught the Corinthians a whole theology on the gift of tongues. But notice how Paul finished this chapter by saying not to forget to speak in tongues. The gift of tongues should continue to be manifested in the Church.

Let me bring up an important point about those who are called Dispensationalists, those who do not believe the gifts of the Spirit are for today. They believe the gifts ceased in the early church. Yet Paul clearly taught that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today. The gift of healing, the word of knowledge, the gift of tongues, and all other gifts are needed in the Church. They need to be fully exercised in order for the Church to continue Christ’s work. When Christ comes back, we will not need any of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, because we are going to be just like Him.

Paul had set everything in order, biblically. What did Paul begin with?

He started with love. What did he finish with? Order. The Church needed order. If there is no order in the Church, there is disorder, chaos and confusion. Paul gave us the key to the whole matter of spiritual gifts in chapters 12-14 of Corinthians. He made sure everything was done decently and in order in the Church.

May God manifest Himself in our lives and, through the Holy Spirit, work through us––fully and completely.

Those who deny that the gifts are for us today and those who insist upon making a hobby of one gift are both wrong, and we are all suffering the consequences of their error.
~A. W.Tozer~

SATURDAY July 7, 2018

Do Not Remain Ignorant

Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.

1 Corinthians 14:36-38

Paul reasoned with the Corinthians, “Are you the only spiritual ones? Does God only speak through you?” God speaks to everybody.

Guess what else Paul stated in these verses? He declared what he had written to the Corinthians was the Word of the Lord. God commanded it. The Lord was speaking to Paul, and it was important for the Corinthians to listen carefully. Paul also challenged them that, if they did not listen to God’s Word, then they would remain ignorant––bottom line.

In the 1950’s, many Baptist pastors were sent to seminary in Germany. When they left, they believed in the inspiration, revelation and illumination of God’s Word. Yet after graduating from college, they came back to the United States as non-believers––totally brainwashed that the Word of God was not God’s Word. These men went to Germany as Christians and came back not believing in the Bible.

We must not be ignorant concerning the Scriptures. It is important to know what the Bible declares concerning the Word of God:

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 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 (2 Peter 1:19-21).

Revelation is the act of communicating divine knowledge by the Spirit to the mind. Inspiration is the act of the same Spirit, controlling those who make the truth known.
~Charles Hodge~

FRIDAY July 6, 2018

Understanding Submission

Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

Many people believe this Scripture presents Paul as a male chauvinist. However, this is one of the most misinterpreted Scriptures in the Bible. Paul was really grounded in theology. So what is the true context of these Scripture verses?

Paul had a big problem with the Corinthian women; in the synagogue, men sat on one side, and the women on the other side. When the Rabbi was teaching and came to a passage that the women did not understand, they would interrupt the public teaching and shout over to their husbands. Communication was going back and forth between everyone, and it caused chaos in the Church.

Paul saw the problem and taught the Corinthians that, instead of interrupting the teaching of God’s Word, their wives should wait until they got home. As the husband was the head of the home, their wives could ask them the meaning of what was taught in the synagogue.

Understand, this Scripture is not teaching submission, as if the husband is the boss sitting on the couch as king. As he turns on the TV, and anything he wants, he claps his hands, and his wife gets it for him. He orders the woman to submit. No, this is not the proper order.

Honestly, we sometimes have the view that women are less than men.

But who is the humble servant of all? Christ. God says that the husband is to love his wife, and, as he loves his wife like Christ loves the Church, I guarantee that automatically the wife will love and submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:22-33 ).

As a husband, the Christian is to look upon the portrait of Christ Jesus, and he is to paint according to that copy.
~Charles Spurgeon~

THURSDAY July 5, 2018

God is Not the Author of Confusion

For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

1 Corinthians 14:31-33

Underline this important verse. It states that God is not the author of confusion. There is order in every believer’s life, and they are in complete control. The Spirit of God did not suddenly take them over and cause them to speak in tongues in public. There is no possible way that a believer can say, “God made me do it.”

Paul taught that everyone was in submission to the prophet. So in every church there was order. Disorder brings confusion. That is why Paul rebuked the Corinthians, because they were out of order in the Church. God is a God of order, not confusion. The Corinthians needed to know God’s Word intimately, as well as Jesus Christ Himself.

On one occasion, Chuck Smith told me he had studied the Bible all Saturday night in preparing a message. The Lord changed his message in the morning, and it flowed even better. It is important to understand that you cannot become so inflexible; you have to be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading––giving a message is not just academic.

Pastors and teachers can sometimes get in a box, and they do not allow the Holy Spirit to operate. So what do they do? They grieve the Holy Spirit and do not allow Him to move the way He wants to move.

Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.
~Corrie Ten Boom~

WEDNESDAY July 4, 2018

Independence Day

Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.

Isaiah 30:18

Today we celebrate the day the United States of America officially declared independence from England. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of separation from England, and the final revision on the Declaration of Independence was made on July 4, 1776.

While the founders declared man was endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, which include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Francis Bellamy said we are a nation built upon liberty and justice for all. Today we can be thankful for the godly wisdom of the men who have set up our nation as a democracy, with liberty and justice for all.

If these unalienable rights written in the Declaration of Independence are endowed by God, our Creator, then we must understand His character. He is a just God, giving justice to all. Think about Psalm 9:7-9. These verses accurately describe Him as our Just Judge:

But the LORD abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, and He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.

Job knew the character of God, and even though God allowed him to suffer tremendously, he said: Surely, God will not act wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice (Job 34:12). Imagine, we serve an amazing God and live in an amazing country!

I pledge allegiance to my flag [the Flag of the United States of America]
and to the Republic for which it stands
one nation [under God], indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.
~Francis Bellamy~

TUESDAY July 3, 2018

Edify the Uninformed

Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent.

1 Corinthians 14:29-30

In setting order in the Corinthian Church, Paul instructed the Corinthians that if a prophecy was spoken by someone, they should first wait on the Lord to see if God was really speaking. A prophecy that has been spoken should also be verified by the Word of God.

Sometimes, as you read God’s Word, the Lord will give you a prophecy. It is best to write it down and put it away until the perfect time comes for it to be shared. This has happened to me. I kept my mouth closed and waited on the Lord, and then when the prophecy came to pass, I could then share it. In my first old Thompson Chain Reference Bible, I would have all these dates written when God would speak to me. It is incredible to go back to all the prophecies God gave to me about this ministry, when before that time, there was nothing––it is amazing!

When I was a new Christian, God spoke to me through Isaiah 42-45. It is amazing to see the hand of God and how these prophecies have come to pass. Even more things will come to pass, not because of me, but because God has said it. Understand that if God said it, then it will come to pass. If it does not come to pass, then it was not God.

In our Christian walk, we must look to God, the great Author and Finisher of our faith. He is the One who opens and closes the doors to do His work. As we constantly hear His voice, we can move forward, step back or even stand still. In these last days, we need to be good listeners––more than ever before. We need to have a hunger and thirst for His Word. Then God will speak to us every single moment.

Unless God imparts the spiritual ability to hear his voice, one hears nothing but meaningless words.
~Ronald Dunn~

MONDAY July 2, 2018

A Church in Order

If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.

1 Corinthians 14:27-28

Go back over 1 Corinthians 14, because I want you to notice how many times Paul used the word tongue or tongues. As you do, you can tell there was a problem concerning the use of the gift of tongues in the Church. Paul, through the sound teaching of God’s Word, brought order back into the Corinthian Church. There were no more excuses for being out of order.

Paul instructed that if there was no interpreter for someone who spoke in tongues, then a person with the gift of tongues should keep their mouth closed. They should not say anything, but keep silent in the Church. Paul taught that the gift of tongues should not be spoken openly, in public, but it was something beautiful to be kept and exercised as they spoke to God in private.

In fact, Donald Gee was an amazing theologian to the Protestant Charismatics and the Pentecostal churches. He warned them about using the gifts of the Spirit for selfish satisfaction, and not to get caught up in fanaticism or to forsake the pure worship of God. Yet they did not listen to him, and today, there is no proper order for the gifts of the Spirit in the Pentecostal churches.

In a broad general sense, Calvary Chapel is the middle ground between fundamentalism and Pentecostalism in modern Protestant theology. In fact, we believe that this is at least part of the reason
why God has raised up this ministry.
~ Chuck Smith~

SUNDAY July 1, 2018

Spiritual Gifts Used for Edification

How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

1 Corinthians 14:26

Notice what Paul was teaching the Corinthians; spiritual gifts given to them by God were to be primarily used for the building up of the Church. Paul taught believers that they were edified through the Scriptures:

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).

Imagine, God nearly chose 40 authors to write 66 books of the Bible. He spoke to them through the Holy Spirit, as they wrote down these letters in different periods of history, yet the authors’ letters fit together perfectly. The Bible tells us:

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 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 (2 Peter 1:19-21).

Yet many people will still challenge the authenticity of the Bible; they say the Bible was merely written by men. Liberals have always tried to discredit what is written in the Bible. They question what is of Paul and what is not. Understand, if you mess with one little word in the Bible, you have messed with the whole Word of God (Revelation 22:18-19). They need to keep their hands off the Bible and let the Book speak for itself!

The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home.
~Augustine of Hippo~

SATURDAY June 30, 2018

God is Among Us

But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.

1 Corinthians 14:24-25

Paul reiterated to the believers in Corinth that if a non-believer heard the Word of God being taught in a language he knew, then any prophecy within that message would be clearly understood. The non-believer would be convicted by the Holy Spirit, and He would lead them to salvation. It was a miracle. Afterwards, he would fall on his face and worship God, while reporting that God was truly among the body of Christ––beautiful. Now he truly feared the Lord.

If a Christian, as a friend, brings a non-believer into the congregation, even though he may be an atheist, he will hear the Word of God. As I teach from the pulpit through a book of the Bible, I do not know the non-believers who are listening in the congregation. Yet the Holy Spirit pricks their hearts so they can become saved.

But what would happen if I stood up at the pulpit and spoke in tongues? How would that help them? It would not; that person would think I was a babbler! It would cause confusion in the Church, and the non-believer would not come to know Christ. The Scripture is very clear; there should be no confusion in the Church.

It is important for Christians to invite the non-believer into the Church so they can hear the teaching of God’s Word, experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and be saved. We should talk to people and not keep the Gospel to ourselves. When was the last time you invited someone to Church? Do you care for other people’s souls?

The gospel is not to be preserved like the Crown Jewels, locked in our ecclesiastical strong room. It is to be spread locally,
and to the ends of the earth.
~Herbert M. Carson~

FRIDAY June 29, 2018

Conviction of the Holy Spirit

Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?

1 Corinthians 14:22-23

Clearly there is something not right in this verse. Paul had previously told the Corinthians not to speak in tongues in the presence of non-believers in the Church. J. B. Phillips, who translated the New Testament into Greek, has said this is a copyist error. The translation should read: Therefore tongues are for a sign to those who believe but not to unbelievers… Then the Scripture makes complete sense.

Understand, Paul was not putting down the Corinthian believers; he was correcting them and teaching them the right interpretation of what they should be doing in the Church. Paul wanted the Corinthians to recognize there would be nothing but confusion if people spoke in tongues in the main church service. People were not being spiritual when they spoke in tongues in this setting; they needed to stick to the Scriptures.

Paul brought order to the Corinthian church. If a believer spoke in tongues, instead of bringing a non-believer to Christ, they would push them away. However, if they heard God’s Word spoken to them in their own language, then what would happen? They would understand what was spoken, and, because of the Holy Spirit’s conviction, they would be saved.

Remember, salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit.

Many people have come to Christ as a result of my participation in presenting the Gospel to them. It’s all the work of the Holy Spirit.
~Billy Graham~

THURSDAY June 28, 2018

Be Mature

Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. In the law it is written: “With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people;and yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,” says the Lord.

1 Corinthians 14:20-21

What does Paul mean in these verses? He literally defined and separated the Corinthians into two categories––those who were mature and those who were immature. Paul taught that in a main church setting, it would be a sign of immaturity to start speaking in tongues. It would show which Christians were not rooted and grounded in the Word of God––those who did not understand the Scriptures.

A mature Christian who was grounded in the Scriptures would know that when a non-believer or carnal Christian was present in the Church, they should not speak in tongues. A mature believer in Christ knew that by doing so, they would quench the work of the Holy Spirit. They did not want to bring confusion to the body of Christ. They made sure proper order was kept in the Church.

Paul quoted a very important prophecy from Deuteronomy 28, and from Isaiah 28:11-12 written in the Old Testament that referenced all the different languages Israel would hear. The prophet Isaiah gave a prophecy that God would use people such as the Babylonians, Medes, Persians and the Romans––those having different native languages other than Hebrew––to bring His judgment upon His people Israel.

Yet some people mistakenly try to use Isaiah 28:11-12, to say that Paul was encouraging people to speak in tongues. They believe Isaiah taught about the gift of tongues, and that it would come to pass. They also believe the gift of tongues was given as a sign that God’s presence was in the Church, so those backslidden or a non-believer could come to repentance.

Repentance is something that is brought about in the human heart by the work of God the Holy Spirit.
~R.C. Sproul~

WEDNESDAY June 27, 2018

Clear and Simple

I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

1 Corinthians 14:18-19

Paul told the Corinthians that he exercised the gift of tongues, and spoke more in his spiritual language, given to him by the Lord, more than anybody else. He was not boasting or being prideful. Paul just wanted to give the Corinthians an important comparison and perspective of what spiritual gifts really edified the Church.

Paul stated he would rather speak five words in the normal human language than ten thousand words in the language God had given him. Why? If Paul spoke in tongues to other people, then no one listening would understand and be edified. He would bring disorder in the Church, and any non-believers present would be confused.

Paul was forbidding the use of speaking in tongues in a normal Church service. He taught us, as believers, that the only way to allow the gift of tongues to be exercise doctrinally and biblically was either in an afterglow service or in private. Paul clearly explained the order of using spiritual gifts, line upon line, and precept upon precept.

We really do not need to the look at the Scriptures in the original Greek language to understand what Paul was saying to us. Christians need to examine how he taught and learn from the Scriptures. Paul expounded the Scriptures to us clearly and simply––I love it!

The Church right now has more fashion than passion, is more pathetic than prophetic, is more superficial than supernatural.
~ Leonard Ravenhill~

TUESDAY June 26, 2018

Edify the Uninformed

Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.

1 Corinthians 14:16-17

Paul spoke about the non-believer, the uninformed, being present among believers in the Church of Corinth. If a believer used the gift of tongues, that was good for them, but what about those among them who did not understand? They were not being built up. So what should they do? They needed to use the gift of tongues in private.

In the Church today, it is important that these spiritual gifts should be used in an afterglow service, in a small crowd, or at home, privately. We should not exercise the gift of tongues in front of non-believers, because they do not understand the things of God; they will think we are crazy!

If Christians use the gift of tongues while non-believers are present, they will not know what is happening. It will tear them down; it will not build them up. Non-believers will become suspicious, thinking, “What is this?” It could discourage them from coming to know Christ, so we need to be careful.

However, if prophecy is exercised, while the Word of God is being taught, a backslidden person or a non-believer will understand. The Holy Spirit will convict them and bring them to repentance. They will understand everything that is being spoken and will come to a place of agreeing with what is said––amen to that!

Come, Holy Spirit, God and Lord! Be all thy graces now out-poured on the believer's mind and soul, to strengthen, save, and make us whole.
~Martin Luther~

MONDAY June 25, 2018

Fruitful Understanding

Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.

1 Corinthians 14:13-15

Paul basically repeated what he had previously said concerning the gift of tongues. He instructed the Corinthians on how to use their spiritual gifts in public worship. God’s Spirit should be at work, as they exercised their gift of speaking or singing in tongues, but never their flesh––in carnality.

Paul told them he sang in the Spirit, in a language that was common to the people; at that time it was Greek.

Did you know that you can sing and pray in the Spirit? The common language of today is English. So when you worship in the Spirit, you should express yourself to God in the language that is understood by everyone. When expressing yourself to God by singing, you will not bring confusion to the body of Christ. I have heard people sing in the Spirit––it is amazing. It sounds like angels singing in the presence of God.

In these last days, surely we need to be open to the Holy Spirit of God like never before. He wants to baptize us in the Holy Spirit, but we have to become like little children––to be free in the Spirit of God––as we worship Him. God wants to manifest Himself to the hearts and lives of people through all of the 21 gifts of the Holy Spirit.

“The Christian’s life in all its aspects—intellectual and ethical, devotional and relational, upsurging in worship and outgoing in witness—is supernatural; only the Spirit can initiate and sustain it. So apart from him, not only will there be no lively believers and no lively congregations, there will be no believers and no congregations at all.”
~J.I. Packer~

SUNDAY June 24, 2018

Zealous for Spiritual Gifts

Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.

1 Corinthians 14:12

Notice the problem in the Corinthian Church. They were zealous for spiritual gifts, but there was no order. Paul exhorted them because their priority was to use the gifts that edified the body of Christ.

God has gifted me with the gift of exhortation. When I exhort God’s people, it is because I see what is going on in the Church. Pastor Romaine, Chuck Smith’s assistant pastor, also had the gift of exhortation. He would often say things that people did not like to hear, but he was right.

Honestly, when people keep going to different counselors, it is usually because they really want to hear what they want to hear. Most people will not do what a pastor or fellow brother or sister in Christ has advised them to do through God’s Word; they usually want to do their own thing.

It is important for believers to learn to listen for the Lord’s voice, through reading the Word of God. But if they are not in God’s Word, how can they listen to God’s voice?

If people come to you for counsel, always point them back to the Lord–– to the cross of Jesus Christ. Do we think we have the wisdom to tell people what to do? Are we greater than God? We are not. The Prophet Isaiah tells us:

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).

In a difficult situation, there are mature believers who will listen to the Holy Spirit. They will read God’s Word, pray and wait. They will do what God’s Word says. Then they will come back and tell our pastors that it worked. If we really put God’s Word into practice, we will find the solution to our problems.

The counsel of the LORD stands forever…
~Psalm 33:11~

SATURDAY June 23, 2018

Significance of Language

There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance. Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me.

1 Corinthians 14:10-11

I have heard believers, as they have been baptized with the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, and one person spoke in French. At Calvary Chapel, in an afterglow service during a time of prayer, you could hear the distinct sounds of diverse languages as some people, through the Holy Spirit, were praising the Lord.

On one occasion, while sitting in my room, I asked the Lord to baptize me with the Holy Spirit and give whatever He had for me. No man laid hands on me; I was alone. During this time, God gave me the gift of speaking in tongues in the Greek language. I do not know Greek, but as I praised Him, I recognized the Greek word Kurios––which means Lord. As I began to look up other words in Greek, I understood that what I was speaking was not a message in tongues, but I was praising the Lord.

Many people are afraid to speak in tongues because, intellectually, they think they are foolish, but it takes a step of faith. It is the same with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit; we use them by faith. If spiritual gifts are not used in the lives of believers, they will not go forward; they stay in the same place. The vision that God has given to them will never develop unless they really submit to what God has called them to do.

How many spiritual gifts do you possess in your life? More importantly, are you using the gifts God has given to you?

God commands us to be filled with the Spirit, and if we are not filled it is because we are living beneath our privileges.
~D. L. Moody~

FRIDAY June 22, 2018

Speak to Be Understood

Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.

1 Corinthians 14:7-9

Notice how Paul dealt with the problems of speaking in tongues. He helped the Corinthians to understand how spiritual gifts should be used in the body of Christ by giving them illustrations of different kinds of instruments. People understood the different sounds and recognized how they were to be used.

Israel would use a trumpet sound––shofar––to warn the people of the enemies’ approach. They had time to ready themselves for battle. If the shofar did not use the right sound, the camp would be in confusion and disorder. The people of Israel would not be ready to fight the battle.

When we attend a concert, and the orchestra is playing in harmony, and somebody plays their instrument out of tune, what happens? The music is ruined. Think about how many people in the Church are out of tune with God and with the Holy Spirit. They do not even know what is going on. They are not in the Spirit, but they are in the flesh––fully and completely.

God is a God of order. When we use our spiritual gifts, they should be used in harmony with the other gifts in the body of Christ. They should not stand out or cause confusion. When a person speaks God’s Word, it should be spoken in a language that everyone can understand.

The Holy Spirit illuminates the minds of people, makes us yearn for God, and takes spiritual truth and makes it understandable to us.
~Billy Graham~

THURSDAY June 21, 2018

Communication

But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching?

1 Corinthians 14:6

Paul told the Corinthians that the main purpose of spiritual gifts was to build up the Church. It was about communication. Even though God had given them 21 different gifts, the believers in the Corinthian church were having problems with carnality. It is the same problem in the Church today. Many people are drinking and on drugs, or they are in sexual sin.

There are believers in the Church who talk like spiritual people, but they are not spiritual people. Many believers are not using the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so there is no power or conviction in our churches. Where there is carnality, there will be no leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit. He is grieved and He cannot work.

I remember at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, on Thursday nights in the Fellowship Hall, the elders made themselves available to pray for the people, so they could receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and be given God’s gifts. It was completely packed out. But where is that same zealousness and excitement today? It is not found in the Church.

How many churches do you know of that hold afterglow services, including us? Zero. Afterglow services have ceased. People would rather be entertained instead of sitting at the feet of Jesus and waiting for the Holy Spirit to do something supernaturally. It is going to take a revival in order for God to return us to our first love and revive the Church.

May God pour out His Spirit to touch our hearts and help us to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

Revival begins with God’s own people; the Holy Spirit touches their heart anew, and gives the new fervor and compassion, and zeal,
new light and life…
~Andrew Bonar~

WEDNESDAY June 20, 2018

Edification of the Church

He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.

1 Corinthians 14:4-5

Paul knew the Corinthians had issues with the gifts of tongues, but building up the Church, using the gift of prophecy was their greater purpose. Paul clarified that a person who uses the gift of tongues builds up themselves, whereas those who exercise the gift of prophesy build up the Church. How does this happen? It happens when a person teaches God’s Word. They automatically use three gifts to build up the Church: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge and prophecy.

Paul also explained that when a person interpreted tongues, it was to edify the body of Christ with a Psalm––a praise to God. This is what happened in Acts 2, when about 120 disciples were baptized by the Holy Spirit. People from about thirty nations heard the disciples speaking in their own dialect––praising the Lord (Acts 2:1-11). Notice, they were not saying, “Thus says the Lord,” to give a message, but they were speaking about the wonderful works of God––I love it.

Paul’s teachings on the gifts of the Holy Spirit are important because there are dispensationalists who do not believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today. They teach that most of the gifts stopped with the Apostles. As a result, they teach biblical knowledge to God’s people, with steady on course points. They are not anointed or open to be led by the Holy Spirit to teach; this is not what God intended.

Although these men are good teachers, they lack the anointing of the Holy Spirit, unlike Paul or the apostles who were men full of the Spirit.

When the Gospel of Jesus Christ is presented with authority––quoting from the very Word of God––He takes that message and drives it supernaturally into the human heart.
~Billy Graham~

TUESDAY June 19, 2018

Edification and Exhortation

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

1 Corinthians 14:1-3

Paul uncovered many spiritual truths and brought order to the Corinthian Church. He spoke to them primarily about gifts that had to do with communication. As God baptizes us with His Spirit, it becomes simple to speak in tongues, but some people do struggle with unbelief.

Does everybody speak in tongues? No. Paul tells us in Romans 8:26 that if you do not speak in tongues, you can groan––privately. It is not used in public, but in secret. God sees your heart. If you do not speak in tongues, in prayer, you can groan. When you groan, you may not understand what you are saying, but God understands, especially if you have a real need. He listens and has compassion.

Many Pentecostal and Charismatic churches place the emphasis on speaking in tongues, whereas the Calvary Chapel churches have a good doctrinal balance. Paul emphasized prophesy. The word especially means “rather,” because a person should rather use prophesies, as it is a superior gift in the Church.

God’s Word is very clear concerning the gift of tongues, because when a person is speaking in tongues, they are speaking mysteriously in the Spirit. Nobody understands them. What is spoken is between that person and God, whereas the purpose of prophesying is for edification. It builds up, exhorts, and brings comfort to the Church.

When we preach or teach the Scriptures, we open the door for the Holy Spirit to do His work. God has not promised to bless oratory or clever preaching. He has promised to bless His Word.
~Billy Graham~

MONDAY June 18, 2018

Revive Your People

Will You not revive us again,That Your people may rejoice in You?

Psalm 85:6

Christians need to be able to recognize the gifts that God has given to them individually. Sadly, many people do not use their spiritual gifts; they remain dormant in their lives. It is as if they have placed their right arm in a sling for months or even a year. What is going to happen when they take their unused arm out of the sling? They are not going to be able to use that arm. When a believer’s spiritual gifts remain dormant in the Church, they have not taken advantage of what God has given to them.

Believers in Christ murmur and complain because they have no power; and yet, God has given them the power, but they do not use His power in their lives. Instead, they get caught up with their own circumstances, problems and issues. They simply forget to ask God for His help. There are so many things God wants to do in our lives; He is the only One who can work in our lives through the power of His Holy Spirit.

Christians need to be revived. Each believer should return to the place where they first came to the Lord and were excited––a time when they wanted to save the whole world and give to other people what they have found in Christ. What has happened to that excitement in their lives?

Seriously, if you lose your passion and zeal for God, then other things will take priority in your life. You will get your eyes off the Cross of Jesus Christ and be sidetrack from what He intends to do in your life––from the past to the present and into the future.

I remember experiencing what Christ has done in my life, and I never want to lose that passion until the day I die. May God help us to continue to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so we can move forward in whatever God wants us to do.

Revival is the exchange of the form of godliness for its living power.
~John Bonar~

SUNDAY June 17, 2018

Father’s Day

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. And seven sons and three daughters were born to him.

Job 1:1-2

The Bible tells us that Job was a blameless and upright man. He feared God and shunned evil. Notice the character of Job. The word blameless means “without moral blemish or morally whole.” Every day he confessed his sins and watched what he did before God. He was a righteous man who hated evil.

Job was a godly husband and father to many children. He had seven sons and three daughters. He was in touch with his children and watchful over his home. As a godly father, he sought to be the priest of his home. He was interested in the righteousness of his children. He understood the sacrifice of consecration, even though it was not yet given in the Levitical Law. In Job 1:5, we see how Job went before the LORD for his children:

Job would send and sanctify them [his children], and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly.

As a father, have you taken the responsibility of being the spiritual leader of your home? A father has a godly duty to be the king and priest of his home and to lead his family to worship the Lord. Fathers should pray with their children and teach them the Word of God in a very simply way, in the morning, before they go to school. It would be wise not to give the enemy––Satan––an open door of opportunity to come into your home because of your lack of spiritual leadership.

Fathers, are you being faithful to pray for your children regularly?

The righteous man walks in his integrity;
His children are blessed after him.
~Proverbs 20:7~

SATURDAY June 16, 2018

Desire Spiritual Gifts

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.

1 Corinthians 14:1

As we come to the end of the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul concluded the subject of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and left the Corinthians with principles of spiritual worship. The believers in Corinth were schemers and division makers. They had also become very egotistical. Paul helped them to understand that they had grieved the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit could not work among them, not until they had the right attitude.

The Corinthians needed to worship God and give Him all the glory. This was exactly what Paul had done in his life. He had written 14 Epistles, and within each one of them, he had given so much insight to believers in Christ. Paul wrote about: doctrine, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the grace of God, the peace of God, and the mercy of God. In every letter, the words grace and mercy are used––amazing!

Paul concluded 1 Corinthians 13, in 1 Corinthians 14:1, by telling believers in Christ to pursue God’s agape love––unconditional love––and furthermore, for them to desire spiritual gifts. He made a principal statement about desiring spiritual gifts; the emphasis was not to be the gift of tongues, but the gift of prophecy. Why? Prophecy edifies, it comforts, exhorts and builds up believers in Christ.

Spiritual gifts are important. If a believer fails to use any of their spiritual gifts, then not only will that person miss out, but also those in the Church. Remember, our desires for certain gifts must be aligned with God’s purposes. Understand, it is not what you want; God sees what you need in your life.

The best gifts are those which benefit the whole body.
~Harry Kilbride~

FRIDAY June 15, 2018

The Greatest is Love

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

God the Father gave up His son for us. Christ was sent into the world to save sinful man. He redeemed the world to Himself. Otherwise, we would have no hope; we would perish. That is the Gospel. When Jesus was on the Cross, the love of God was demonstrated to us. Romans 5:8 tells us: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Christ died for each one of us.

Once touched by Christ’s love, we must abide in His love. It is a command of Christ, maintained by our obedience to Him: “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” (John 15:9). Love identifies us with Christ and each other (John 13:35). The love of God should be in our hearts: …the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5).

God’s love is sacrificial, John 15:13: Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. Jesus Christ laid down His life for you and me––that is sacrificial love. Have you ever laid down your life for someone else? When you think more about someone else than yourself, then that is sacrificial love.

What the world needs is the love of Christ. Christians need to love those who do not know Christ; those who need to be won by the love of Christ––who are going to perish. Christians need to have manifest in their lives more of God’s greatest gift––love.

Love — and the unity it attests to — is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world. Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are indeed Christians and that Jesus
was sent by the Father.
~Francis Schaeffer~

THURSDAY June 14, 2018

Put Away Childish Things

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

1 Corinthians 13:11-12

Paul gave the Corinthians an eternal perspective; in heaven they would see the full meaning of everything. Even though he spoke with great understanding, they never corrected their problems. So Paul would come to set the record straight. The Corinthians were carnal, and many would not grow to know the Lord intimately, as God intended. Paul wanted them to develop and mature. He wanted them to know spiritual things, so they would not remain immature––as baby Christians for the rest of their lives.

The Holy Spirit was speaking to the Corinthians, but the reason they did not grow was because they did not have the desire to learn and study. It takes hard labor to study and read the books of the Bible. This is why they struggled with their flesh all the time. Paul had told them: for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

Think of the Church today and how many Christians remain in infancy. They do not go forward into maturity. There are so many that do not know how to go through the ABC’s of Scripture to mature in the things of God. Spiritually speaking, they are not eating meat––they are still on milk. They are like the Corinthians who Paul exhorted: 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).

As a Christian, are you moving forward by faith into maturity or being carnal; are you remaining in immaturity?

God would have us not merely ‘take a stand’, he would have us walk. Too many have taken a stand and are still standing; for years they
have made no progress.
~Vance Havner~

WEDNESDAY June 13, 2018

Perfection of Christ

For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

1 Corinthians 13:9-10

Think about a biologist. Does he know everything about biology? No, of course not. Do I know everything about the Bible? No, of course not, only in part. But when we enter heaven, we shall know the full meaning of everything.

Who is perfect? Jesus Christ. Paul spoke about the Second Coming of Christ. When Jesus comes again, we will not need the gifts of the Holy Spirit because we shall have a perfect body. We will not need the gift of prophecies, tongues, or any of the gifts, because we shall be perfect, as He is perfect. We shall be in the presence of Jesus Christ––bottom line.

However, it is important to understand that most of the dispensationalist theologians have taken the liberty, from 1 Corinthians 13:8-13, and given a new interpretation of the Scriptures. These fundamentalists believe that the word perfect is speaking of the full canon of the Scripture. That is, they do not believe in the gift of tongues, or most of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, because they came to a stop in the apostolic times––I disagree.

The word perfect is in reference to Jesus Christ coming again, and not the full canon of the Scriptures. As we are not perfect yet, we still need the teaching of the Word of God; it brings exhortation to our lives, and it keeps us in line with Him. But until Christ returns, we need the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our lives––tremendously. But once again, they will not have any profit or value unless used with the love of Christ.

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
~Colossians 3:14~

TUESDAY June 12, 2018

Active Spiritual Gifts

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

1 Corinthians 13:8

When Paul communicated with the Corinthians that love never fails, he was dealing with the view of their life being transformed in the face of trials. It speaks of their endurance. Jesus never fails us.

However, 1 Corinthians 13:8 has been the cause of strife in the body of Christ concerning the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Dispensationalists defend their position that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for today by using this verse. They believe all the 21 gifts stopped here; everything ended early, with the Apostles––fully and completely.

Think of how many believers have been hurt by the dispensationalist teaching. They are not allowing the Holy Spirit to really operate in the body of Christ, which grieves the Holy Spirit of God. Even though they are great teachers, for them, it is all about knowledge, reading, studying and teaching from books––but knowledge puffs up.

I have noticed they do not have the same power as someone filled with the Holy Spirit. They cannot communicate in a spiritual way, but they can communicate intellectually. So who are the people who gather around them to listen? Intellectual people. Yet why do people seek knowledge instead of seeking what Paul taught about––love?

When we develop a love relationship with God, He enables us to relate to other people through the Word of God. A person filled with the Holy Spirit has listened when God has spoken to their hearts. Seriously, most people are simple-hearted and want to learn God’s Word, simply. They will find a church where the Holy Spirit of God is working and speaking.

Simply Teach the Word of God Simply.
~ Chuck Smith~

MONDAY June 11, 2018

God’s Enduring Love

[Love] ...does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:6-7

Notice what Paul taught––love should never rejoice when someone has fallen into sin. We should not be like our enemies who wait to see if we are going to fall into sin, so they can rejoice over us. Love is never malicious; it does not find pleasure in someone’s downfall. Instead, true love causes us to have compassion and to pray for others––for God to save and bless them.

Love rejoices in the truth of Jesus Christ––in the Gospel. At times, love must be tough in order to lead a Christian away from unrighteousness into righteousness and truth. Romans 12:9 tells us: Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.

Notice the four main characteristics of love: it bears, believes, hopes, and endures––this is real love. Through love, God gives us the power, not to be abused, but to be able to bear anything that comes into our lives. He helps us to bear truth in the face of difficult situations. God’s love helps us to endure. Love believes all things. This does not mean that love is gullible, but it accepts truth, as stated in the Scriptures.

Love hopes. Hope is one of the basic elements of our faith––it keeps on hoping no matter our disappointments. Loves endures; this speaks of our steadfastness. It is the Spirit that conquers, and has glorious triumph and fortitude. We have endurance in Jesus Christ. He is our example.

Notice, if I insert my name in these verses, it does not fit. But try to put your own name in these verses now to see if it fits. Of course it does not fit! But if you place the name of Jesus in there, it fits perfectly. This is the divine love of God that He wants us to possess in our own lives.

Endurance is the ability to stand up under adversity; perseverance is the ability to progress in spite of it.
~Jerry Bridges~

SUNDAY June 10, 2018

The Perfection of True Love

[Love]…does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil…

1 Corinthians 13:5

Paul described true love, the perfection of love, in great detail in

1 Corinthians 13. He taught that love is not rude; it does not behave rudely towards people. Neither will love seek its own desires; or be provoked to think evil about another person. It is always building up.

In the book of Philippians 2:3, Paul tells us that love causes us to consider others better than ourselves. We should never think ourselves better than another person. If we think we are better than others, then that is pride and sin before God. He cannot bless us like that.

God’s love leads us towards Christ. Love is also a sign of true faith in God. It is manifested by our obedience to Christ, not our disobedience:

“If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15; 21, 23). Love moves us to true service––where God can use our lives to serve Him.

Love must be shown towards God. Matthew 22:37-38 speaks about the first commandment––loving God with all our heart and being. In John 13:34-35, Jesus commanded that love be shown to one another:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Then Jesus taught us that loving others is more important than any ritual, in Mark 12:33: …and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” All these things show us how God’s love operates.

All men are our neighbours, and we are to love them as ourselves. We are to do this on the basis of creation, even if they are not redeemed, for all men have value because they are made in the image of God. Therefore they are to be loved even at great cost.
~Francis Schaeffer~

SATURDAY June 9, 2018

Love is Patient and Kind

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up…

1 Corinthians 13:4

We have now come to 1 Corinthians 13, the chapter of love. God demonstrates these aspects of His love to us all the time. Paul gave a description of how His love operates in the life of a Christian. The gift of love is the practical application of God’s love in our Christian lives. Love is patient and kind; it covers over situations, but most of us have a problem with putting love into practice.

When someone rubs us the wrong way or says something about us, we want to retaliate by cutting them off; we stop speaking to that person. What happened to the love of Christ? How can we continue to serve the Lord when we have broken fellowship with God because of a lack of love in our lives? It is not until we repent and tell the Lord honestly what is in our hearts that God can work. He is the only one who can change us. If we do not go to the Lord, we are going to run into big problems. We must not harbor hate in our hearts; otherwise, we cannot have unity with others.

Honestly, there has to be a breaking point where two people humble themselves and apologize to one another. Then there can be restored unity and oneness in Jesus Christ and with one another. Our relationship with God is vertical––upward, if our relationship with God is in right standing, then our horizontal relationships with other people will be alright.

Understand, love does not envy. People who are envious have a longing for what another person has; they have displeasure at someone else’s blessings. Love does not brag; you should not brag about yourself. Love is not puffed up. Love is never full of arrogance and pride, having no humility. Understand before God, pride is a sin.

Love should be the silver thread that runs through all your conduct.
~J.C. Ryle~

FRIDAY June 8, 2018

No Love, No Profit

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:3

Paul spoke to a church in total carnality, not spirituality; there was nothing spiritual about the Corinthian church. He spoke to them about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and how they would become ineffective, unless they practiced what they preached.

Paul clearly referred to great acts of selflessness, such as a believer giving all their possessions to the poor. But if there was not the motivation of love, no matter how great the sacrifice, it would count as nothing. Love is more important than self-sacrifice, you can even give your life, but without love, it is all in vain.

You see, we can go out and feed the poor, but if we cannot get along with people and love them, then what good is that? Loving people is a very hard thing to do, both in the Church and in the world, because we all have different personalities and moods. Yet we need to get along with others. This can only happen when we die to ourselves as God speaks to our hearts. We, too, need to practice what we preach.

Also, if our lives are not right with others, it is best to come before the Lord and tell Him what the problem is, so we can take care of the problem. Some people resist reconciliation, and that is not true love, it is not a full submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If there is no love between each other, then how can we edify and build up one another?

Every one of us is weak in this area––for sure. I confess I have a hard time with people who I cannot get along with. But as a leader, I have to examine my heart before the Lord.

Love is the hardest lesson in Christianity; but, for that reason it
should be our most care to learn it.
~William Penn~

THURSDAY June 7, 2018

For God So Loved

“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

It is really important not to get confused when we speak about the word love. The word love in the Greek has four different meanings. Agape love is a divine love, the unconditional love of God for man. Eros is the physical love, or intimate love, of sexual passion. Phila, is an affection between loyal friends. Storge is family love––the love and affection found between a parent and children.

Yet out of all these, agape love is the most important––the divine love of God. As Christians, we need to have God’s love for others. It must be a part of our daily lives. No matter how exciting and wonderful our spiritual gifts may be, if they are not ministered in love, they are nothing. The only way for Christians to use their gifts effectively is to be motivated by love.

Love towards God was the first commandment given: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Jesus extends the bounds of love, not only towards God, but to one another:

“ ‘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 22:36-40).

The main evidence of Christian maturity is not only growing in love for God, and love towards His people, but reaching out with His love to a lost and dying world. There are so many lost souls that need to be saved by the love of Jesus Christ.

Nobody will know what you mean by saying
that ‘God is Love’ unless you act it as well.
~Lawrence Pearsall Jacks~

WEDNESDAY June 6, 2018

Love, the Key to Spiritual Gifts

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:1-2

In I Corinthians 13, Paul had come to the place where he expounded on just four letters––love. Christians often struggle with love, but love needs to be perfected in each one of us individually. Understand that even though we have the gifts of the Holy Spirit, if we do not practice them in love, they become as nothing but sounding brass––they have no value to anybody.

In these verses, Paul gave three examples of spiritual gifts being used, but having the absence of love. The gift of tongues, if spoken without love, would become like a clanging cymbal. The word clanging is the Greek word for “a harsh loud noise.” If love was absent, it would be like the body without the soul. People could speak in tongues or have the gift of prophecy, but unless they used their gift in love, it was of no value.

The word mysteries literally mean truths that cannot be known by human reason; they are given by divine revelation––a supernatural work of God. It is incredible that, though we can have understanding to all mysteries, all knowledge, and have faith to remove mountains, yet without love, it is all nothing. People can have incredible spiritual gifts, but if they are not exercised in true love, it is all in vain.

Maybe this is the reason why the Church has lost its power––love is not evident. Remember, the true evidence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit is love––love is the key.

Without love all the gifts and powers of the Holy Spirit
are meaningless and worthless.
~ Chuck Smith~

TUESDAY June 5, 2018

Open Your Mouth in Boldness

…and for me [Paul] , that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Ephesians 6:19-20

Paul was in prison, bound in chains, and guarded by Praetorian Guard. In fact, Paul was chained to a guard, and every four hours the guard was changed. He asked the Church to pray for him so He could share the Gospel with boldness. He wanted to tell these hardened men about Jesus, in hopes of another converts. Paul desired to speak the truth of God with boldness as he witnesses. He did not want to be timid or afraid, but powerful and without fear when he spoke.

Can you imagine how many men came to Christ through Paul who shared the Gospel with them over the period of two years? Paul truly was a person who spoke by the Holy Spirit in boldness.

What do these important Bible verses say to you about being a witness for Jesus Christ personally?

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).

…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).

Are you timid and afraid to share your faith? Then ask others to pray for you so that you can have boldness to share your faith with others.

Our faith becomes stronger as we express it;
a growing faith is a sharing faith.
~ Billy Graham~

MONDAY June 4, 2018

Give God the Glory

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:6-8

As Christians, we use our gifts in the body of Christ by the grace of God. Our gifts are to be used in humility as we learn to be servants to the Lord and the body of Christ. God is to be our main source––the One on the throne. It should never be you or me.

When a person is using the gift of teaching, there are actually three gifts that are being manifested: the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, and prophecy. God has given me the message to a variety of people. At times, after I have taught, a person will come up to me and ask, “Did my wife speak to you?” I let them know, “No! It was not me.” I do not know their names or their problems. It was the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, and prophecy spoken through the power of the Holy Spirit.

On one occasion, Chuck Smith was teaching at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, and he made up a story, as an example, about someone who was fleecing God’s people––taking their money. The next day a person called and said, “How come you were talking about me?” Chuck told him, “I do not even know you!” God used the message to expose that evangelist.

Understand, as God uses the gift of teaching to minister to people, some of them will try to exalt you. You have to give the glory to God. It is better to just change the subject. If you are looking for pats on the back, understand that God will never share his glory with anybody. Instead, make sure you have the love of Jesus Christ, and He will use you mightily when you open your mouth to give the message from Him.

I want to give God all the glory and all the praise for what has been accomplished in my life…
~Billy Graham~

SUNDAY June 3, 2018

Shown a More Excellent Way

Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

1 Corinthians 12:29-31

Paul mentioned all these different gifts in one verse––amazing! Notice how they vary; we are not all given the same gifts by the Lord. Even if we have the best gifts, understand, if we do not have love, then we become a zero––spiritually speaking, crippled. We become of no use to the body of Christ because we are handling the gifts ourselves. We hinder the Holy Spirit because we are not listening to God and what he has for the Church.

In Ephesians 4:11-12, we find another set of gifts. Also in the book of Romans 12:1-21, more are mentioned, making twenty-one gifts of the Holy Spirit altogether. So think about what God wants to give to you. Ask and allow the Holy Spirit to give you what fits best in your life, so you can be more productive in the body of Christ.

God also gives us talents. As we develop our talents, we glorify Him. I think of all the gifts God has given me, such as the martial arts. He has also gifted me in so many other areas. People have many different talents–– basket ball or football, riding motorcycles or playing golf. These are talents! Whatever you do!

Have you noticed how many baseball players use their talent God has give them? God gave them the coordination and ability to play baseball, but they go for the money and the fame. We should never take the credit for God’s gifts and talents for ourselves; they are God’s gifts. We need to remember it is the Lord who gives us talents. He does not want us to become puffed up in pride.

Gifts and talents that God has given to people always find their highest use and highest expression when they are used to glorify the Lord.
~Chuck Smith~

SATURDAY June 2, 2018

True Baptism of Spirit

…helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:28

Paul continued to show to the Corinthians the diversity of gifts given to individual believers. He mentions the gift of helps; this is an area where some people do not want to be. Yet the word helps, pertains to the work of a deacon. In the Church, deacons are there to help the pastor. The gift of administration can also refer to the work of bishops and elders who are capable of administrating the Church.

Then Paul referenced varieties of tongues, which is when a person speaks or sings to God in a language he does not know. It could be a human language or a heavenly language. Often in a Pentecostal church, a person will stand up in the middle of the sermon and begin to speak in tongues. Then, another person will stand to give an interpretation. Often it is not a true interpretation because what was actually spoken was a prophecy. Understand, there are no messages in tongues. So how do we discern?

A true interpretation of tongues is praise––like a Psalm exhorting or giving back praise and worship to God (1 Corinthians 14:2). The greatest example is when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost (Acts: 2:11-12). Other people heard them speak in their own dialect. The disciples were not drunk, as some people thought. Peter backed up the experience through Scripture when he quoted the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17-21).

There are some churches that say, everyone has to speak in tongues as true evidence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit. We disagree; not everyone has to speak in tongues. In fact, the evidence of true baptism of the Holy Spirit is love.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of life and light and love.
~A. W. Tozer~

FRIDAY June 1, 2018

God Appointed

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings…

1 Corinthians 12:27-28

Notice what Paul said to believers in Corinth. He reminded them that God uses each person individually. He then gave examples of individuals who were appointed in the Church. First, the apostles; second prophets––those who spoke for God; third, teachers––those who explain the Word of God in simplicity, so people can grow spiritually.

After that, miracles––those who can cast out of demons or raise people from the dead––the miraculous. Then Paul mentioned gifts of healings, given in the plural tense. It is important to understand that not only one person should pray for the people. It is good to have others praying too. At church, I am not the only one praying for people; there are a lot of people praying. Why? Otherwise, people will begin to look to man, instead of looking to God. As a spiritual person, you need to be careful and not use God’s gifts to bring attention to yourself––seriously.

Some healing evangelists are well-known, because when they get on stage, they do ridiculous things to bring attention to themselves. When a person wants to be in front of people and demonstrate themselves to others––with all their gifts and talents––understand that is pride. They have forgotten that God is the One who lifts them up, and He is the one who knocks them down.

Honestly, it is better to go and pray in a room where nobody knows about it and allow God do whatever He wants to do.

But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
~Matthew 6:6~

THURSDAY May 31, 2018

Care for One Another

…that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

1 Corinthians 12:25-26

When God looks at the body of Christ and sees a part of the body lacking, He then places and replaces those people who are needed to make up the full body of Christ. This is why we need each other.

As members of the body of Christ, who should we care for? Should it be for ourselves? No! We should care for one another. Seriously, we do not need the Greek translation for this verse; it is plain enough for us all to understand in English.

Often we do not suffer with other people. We lack compassion and can become self-centered. We can have a bad attitude towards someone who is sick, and we think it is their problem they are sick; it is not something that concerns me. Honestly, I did not have compassion on others, or put this Scripture into practice, until I got sick.

We should also rejoice when everybody is rejoicing because God has done a great work through another person’s life. But there are people who are saying in their hearts, I wish that was me. Seriously, that is the truth. Yet they should be glad they are not in front, because they do not realize what those people go through––all the spiritual and physical attacks they must endure from the enemy.

If God has called you to administrate, usher, pray, clean or help, then know this one thing––this is where God has you. Be content in the Lord, so you can be an effective member in the body of Christ.

It is a fearful sin to make a rent and a hole in Christ's mystical body because there is a spot in it.
~Samuel Rutherford~

WEDNESDAY May 30, 2018

God Composed the Body

And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it…

1 Corinthians 12:23-24

God arranges members of the body so that each person can function properly and can be of the greatest use in the body of Christ. Understand, you are a great instrument to the body of Christ. So never allow Satan to condemn you or beat you up in your mind, causing you to think that you are not needed in the body of Christ.

Many people these days are remaining at home to watch the service. However, it is important to understand that if believers stay at home to worship, and they do not attend church, how can they truly be fed by the Word of God, be in unity, and learn where they can be used in the body of Christ? How effective will they be apart from the rest of the body? They cannot. That is why we must come together in unity at church, so we can learn how to become a part of the body of Christ. Then we can accomplish the work of God together––fully and completely.

Remember, no man is an island––you cannot remain separate and think you do not need the rest of the body. We need you and you need us! But most important, we both need God. If we are going to function and operate correctly in the body of Christ, in this life, then we all need the head of the body––Christ.

Together, with Christ, we have an important job to complete.

To place ourselves in range of God's choicest gifts, we have to walk with God, work with God, lean on God, cling to God, come to have the sense and feel of God, refer all things to God.
~Corneluis Plantinga~

TUESDAY May 29, 2018

Many Members, One Body

But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.

1 Corinthians 12:20-22

Paul promoted unity in the body of Christ. He told the Corinthians the Church was to be one body. Not two bodies! If there were two bodies, that would be a strange abnormality––right?

We cannot say to another member in the body of Christ, “Go away. You are not needed.” Understand that in the body of Christ, even though you may be a weaker member, you are needed, just like I am needed. We all need one another if we are to fulfill the great commission, if we are going to build the kingdom of God.

However, sometimes those who are weaker are the ones who complain. They wish they could be somebody else because they are discontent with where God has placed them to be. Perhaps they want to be the person who is chosen to be in front of others. Seriously, if God wanted you to be that person, He would have made you be the other person.

Get it right before the Lord and quit coveting something that is not yours in the body of Christ. In the place you operate your gifts, be content and faithful where God has you. Christ has made the body as He wills, and He has placed you right where you belong. So, just do what God has called you to do in obedience to Him.

May God baptize you by His Holy Spirit and help you to be fruitful and productive in the things He has called you to do.

The only person in this world who enjoys complete contentment is the person who knows that the only worthwhile and satisfying life is to be a means, however humble, to God's chief end
His own glory and praise.
~J. I. Packer~

MONDAY May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle!

2 Samuel 1:25

Today is Memorial Day. We have set aside this day to remember the fallen men and women in our armed forces. Historically, in 1868, Memorial Day was first called Decorations 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 gravesite of over 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers. They respectfully decorated each grave. Later, the name was changed and called Memorial Day. It became a day to honor all of our men and women who died in 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 appreciate an extra day off work and cherish the quality time with family. This day is also seen to mark the beginning of summer. Many families congregate together to barbeque, picnic and enjoy the parades or watch sports.

However, we should never forget the freedoms we enjoy are a direct result of the unselfish sacrifices of those men and women who willingly died while serving their country. Many husbands, wives and close relatives will mourn as they visit the cemeteries or memorials to lay flowers at their loved ones’ gravesites. Customarily, but often forgotten, is the pause for silence at 3:00pm in the afternoon to remember the fallen.

As a nation, we should stop in silence, not only remember these fallen heroes, but to pray for their families. Our children should be taught the value of honoring those who have died. In gratitude, our homes should proudly show the American flag.

Our debt to the heroic men and women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude.
America will never forget their sacrifices.
~President Harry S. Truman~

SUNDAY May 27, 2018

Placed How God Pleases

If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

1 Corinthians 12:17-19

Paul used the subject of the complete anatomy of the body to help the Corinthians understand how they function, in unity, as a part of the body of Christ. The human body is not fully composed of just an eye or an ear––that would be senseless. It could not operate that way. In a human body, all five senses are very much needed. Neither could the Church operate this way; everyone is needed.

Many people become dissatisfied because they desire a different gift. Some people in the body wish they were a hand instead of an ear, and they come to a place of murmuring and complaining. Yet every part of the body has been placed together by Christ––as He sees fit. He knows exactly wherever each person belongs. So be satisfied and content where God has placed you, otherwise if you are discontent, you will create problems in the body of Christ.

Understand what God’s Word declares in this verse: God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. Underline this phrase and memorize it; make it a Gospel truth in your life––seriously. It is not what pleases you! Learn that, so you do not get outside of your boundaries and want to be in somebody else’s place or covet their spiritual gift. Then as a part of any church, you will not have problems serving in any ministry.

Whatever ability a faithful Christian may possess, he ought to possess it for his fellow believers, and he ought to make his own interest subservient to the wellbeing of the church in all sincerity.
~John Calvin~

SATURDAY May 26, 2018

All Part of the Body of Christ

If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?

1 Corinthians 12:15-16

Paul made a very clear statement to the Corinthians about the different functions of the members of the body of Christ. He used the illustration of a human body, to help them understand that a body could not function without all the body parts working together. It is the same in the Church––you cannot have a successful ministry through which God can work unless all the parts are working together in harmony.

Think about how every part of your body is needed. Even though the toe is in darkness most of the time, you cannot walk without it; you have no balance without that stinky toe––seriously. The ear is another important part of the body. Without the ear, you would not be able to hear, and you would have to learn sign language to communicate. We need our ears to hear, eyes to see, nose to smell, toes to walk, and fingers to touch and move. If any part of the body is missing, the body becomes defective; it cannot function as it should.

Paul used all these examples so that believers would see how every part of the body is necessary and important. We fit together perfectly to make up the body of Christ. God places all the parts together for the benefit of the body––the Church. Each person should know their spiritual gifts and where they belong in the body of Christ.

Understand that the head of the body is Christ, and He, through the body, brings glory and honor to God, as He builds His kingdom––that is the key.

When the individual believers in a church know their gifts, accept them
by faith, and use them for God’s glory,
then God can bless in a wonderful way.
~Warren Wiersbe~

FRIDAY May 25, 2018

We Are Members of Each Other

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.

1 Corinthians 12:13-14

In the body of Christ, there are many members, but we are all a part of one body. We do not operate individually. Calvary Chapel is not the only church being used by the Lord; that is why there is diversity––God is on the throne. In fact, God is using many different non-denominal Christian churches. We are only one speck of what Christ has been building.

The body of Christ is not only in Calvary Chapel Golden Springs in Diamond Bar, but the body of Jesus Christ is in every part of the world. Christian churches are one with us––in Jesus Christ. The body of Christ is much bigger that we think.

The body of Christ is like the human body, which has: eyes, hands, feet and toes, all working together as one. Ephesians 4:4-6 explains how we work together in oneness of faith:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

In the Church, the Holy Spirit unifies the body of Christ. There is oneness of fellowship with other Christian denominations. The Word of God teaches us that we have oneness of faith and a oneness of fellowship: And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:42). It does not matter if you travel around the world to other churches; we are one with other believers––instantly.

The Church isn’t just a particular building or congregation but the spiritual fellowship of all who belong to Jesus Christ. If we belong to Christ, we also belong to each other.
~ Billy Graham

THURSDAY May 24, 2018

One Body in Christ

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12

Paul was an expert theologian. He biblically taught the Corinthians how to correctly minister to the body of Christ. Paul taught order, unity and diversity in the body of Jesus Christ. Then the gifts of the Holy Spirit could be in full operation in the Church––otherwise they could not. Paul helped them to understand that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were to be used to benefit everyone.

God is a God of variety, and He works through unity and diversity. We see so many different types of people and churches in the body of Christ. Each of us, as members of the body of Christ, needs to be submitted, not only to the body of Christ, but most important to the Head––Jesus Christ. The Lord will help us to develop our gifts, so they will be fully manifested in the body of Jesus Christ. However, we need to be unified, not divided, if we expect Jesus to use our lives.

It is necessary to also be in oneness of Spirit:

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments (Psalm 133:1-2).

Also, the Apostle Peter exhorted us to be of one mind: Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous… (1 Peter 3:8).

You cannot have the gifts of Christ apart from
the government of Christ.
~A. Lindsay Glegg~

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 ac