Thursday, April 30, 2009

Don't Let the Lamp Go Out

1 Samuel 3:2-4 KJV
And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see;
And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep;
That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.

My focus is on the passage that says that the lamp of God was about to go out. Exodus 27:20-21 insists that this lamp was never to go out. I am of the opinion that Eli had grown too blind to care for these lamps and his sons were too negligent. Physically the priests were neglecting the lamps just as spiritually they had neglected their own relationship with the Lord.

Some would say that this is a reference to the time of evening; that Eli was headed to bed late enough those lamps were near to out and would be soon refreshed with the new shift of priests in the morning. Some say that by the time morning arrived six of the seven candles would be extinguished but that the western most lamp would never go out.

But given the context it seems to be more significant to me that merely the time of night that Eli and Samuel went to bed;
Verse one, there was no open vision. The Word of the Lord was precious.
Verse two, Eli's eyes waxed dim (which would have nothing to do with time of day)
Verse three, this lamp was about to go out

A change in Jewish leadership is taking place here. The priesthood, which should have been the place of receiving the Word of God, has so quickly become corrupted that God's Word, like the eyes of Eli, had become dim through that vehicle. The lamp of God has just about become extinguished in the Temple, hundreds of years before Jesus came, God had already begun to remove Himself from that Jewish tradition. From here on out in the Word of God, the priesthood, even the that of the High Priest, is almost completely insignificant if not unseen. From this passage on, the focus of God's Word is through the prophets and not the priesthood.

I am most concerned today with the fact that this lamp was so soon dimmed out when it obviously was meant to be a bright light in Israel throughout their history.
Would to God that our lamp will not grow dim more quickly than is God's plan.
Would to God we would maintain our relationship with the Lord in such a manner that He continues to give us His vision for our lives, ministries and usefulness to Himself.

One day each of us will see our natural eyes grow dim. May God grant as I grow older physically, I grow more mature spiritually!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Soul Seekers

Proverbs 29:10 KJV
The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.

I think it is interesting that the Almighty so worded some phrases in the Scriptures that even the learned cannot come to agreement on its subject. So it is with this passage. Among the scholars there is disagreement on whose soul is "his" soul.
Does the just seek the soul of the bloodthirsty or
Does he seek the soul of the upright or
Does he seek his own soul

Those that would know the best don't know.

This does not discourage me in the least. Neither does it cause me to question my Bible at all. I trust that Almighty God could have communicated an exact subject had He desired to do so. I occurs to me that the purpose of the passage is not that the just would seek any one type of soul, but that the just are "soul seekers."

A characteristic of the just is that they care for the souls of men.
They of course seek their own soul's well being.
They make their calling and election sure. They search the Scriptures for direction in life. They bow before the Lord and worship.

They seek the souls of lost men whether they be evil or good.
They recognize that there are men labeled "bloodthirsty" who, like Saul of Tarsus, will quickly respond to the gospel. They also know that even good men like Cornelius, must be born again.

The just seek souls. It is their character, their nature. They do not particularly judge which souls they seek; they seek all souls, knowing that no soul could be any more worthy of condemnation than their own soul and that the blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient to justify the sins of any man who will come to Him.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Two Men

Acts 1:10 KJV
And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
John 20:12 KJV
And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
Luke 24:4 KJV
And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
There is every reason to assume that the two that appeared to the disciples as Jesus was taken into heaven are the same two that appeared to Mary at the empty tomb of our Lord. A comparison of the tree passages where they are specifically mentioned tells us they are more than mere men, they are angels.

Angels ministered to the Lord after His temptation by the devil (Matthew 4:11) and while He was in the garden before his capture (Luke 22:43). And angels performed a ministry of comfort to the disciples of the Lord at His resurrection and at His ascension into Heaven.

Monday, April 27, 2009


John 20:20 KJV
And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
The disciples had every reason, from a human standpoint, to be down hearted. Jesus was gone!
They had seen Him captured and tried
They had watched Him die and be buried
They had visited the now empty tomb and
They believed they would never see their Lord again

Certain sounds of hope had been heard. Some of the women claimed to have seen the Lord. And, they said, they had been instructed to tell the disciples they would see Jesus too. But still, this is hope against hope. This is the impossible far beyond hoping for. Could Jesus REALLY be alive?

Hopelessness turned to awe and then to gladness when they saw the Lord.

Our lives, too, can be filled with crushing defeats that seem to us there would be no way to reverse them. We can face challenges that appear to overwhelm us. But we, who are believers, will see the Lord. And when we do no sorrow here will remotely dim our gladness.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Linger a Little

John 20:10-12 KJV
Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

I do not want to read into this passage anything that is evil in the disciples but I do detect, I think a little haste, if not competition between them.
They ran
One outran the other
The one who ran second however went a step further into the sepulchre
The one who ran first then went in also

And as soon as they had seen the place, they both went home.

But Mary, who had been to the tomb earlier and had first sen that the stone was rolled away, lingered still longer; weeping. And it is she who is blessed with the sight of both the angels, and then the resurrected Jesus Christ.

There is too much competition in our ranks even today. We want to be the biggest, the fastest growing, the friendliest or whatever else. And if we are not competitive, we are certainly in too big a hurry. Seeing Christ doesn't go to the greatest; it goes to the one who lingers a little longer. He reveals Himself to the one who, with broken heart and tender emotion stays at Calvary, not because she is the last one there, but because she just waits that much longer.

May we linger with the Lord today!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Eternal Jewels

Proverbs 25:4 KJV
Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.

Proverbs 25:11-12 KJV
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.

Malachi 3:17 KJV
And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.

1 Corinthians 3:12-14 KJV
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

I am afraid we have misplaced our focus when it comes to eternal jewels. We often think of it as an external bauble that must be given us in glory and that we then lay at the feet of the Lord. I rather believe that God is refining His people and we are the jewels laid at the feet of the Lord.

God seeks to refine us and remove the dross from our lives and He uses two tools very clearly seen in Proverbs 25; the word fitly spoken and the wise reprover. Woe is it to the man who has not an obedient ear!

God's refining process begins, of course, with our receiving saving faith in Jesus Christ. But it does not end there. Over the course of life our Lord will bring various voices to bear, each one like a sculptor, chipping away a little more of the world's image from us. Some of those voices will use encouraging and comforting words. Other voices will carry a more harsh tone. But each is equally necessary as God fits these apples of gold into the pitcher of silver.

Friday, April 24, 2009

This Oft Resorted Place

John 18:2 KJV
And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.

John Gill says Jesus used this oft resorted place,
....partly for refreshment and rest after he had been preaching in the temple, and partly for prayer, and also for private conversation with his disciples.

I love the concept of "this oft resorted place" for Christ. Because it was a garden, I have visions of beautiful flowers and fragrances. It was, for Christ, a quiet place, away from the activity which would have accompanied Christ's every trip to Jerusalem, partly because of His notoriety and partly because He generally came to town during one of their holy days.

Barnes rightly says,
"Every Christian should have some place - be it a grove, a room, or a garden - where he may be alone and offer his devotions to God."

This place also reminds me, however, of that place where Daniel was trapped. His enemies knew where to find him; he would be in prayer. Judas likewise knew just where to find Jesus. That place that was perhaps Christ's most precious was also the place where the violence that ended in Calvary began. No Christian, however careful in devotion, can absolutely protect themselves from enemies in the world and the resulting havoc they may make in our lives. Only as we are steeled in our walk with the Lord can we endure such attacks.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Believer's Security

John 17:2 KJV
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

Scofield's Notes say
It is Christ who commits the believer to the Father for safe keeping, so that the believer's security rests upon the Father's faithfulness to His Son Jesus Christ.

I was thoroughly blessed this morning by Scofield's words concerning this text, especially, "the believer's security rests upon the Father's faithfulness to His Son Jesus Christ."
It is not our faithfulness to the Lord that brings us security
It is not even the Father's faithfulness to us that brings our security
It is the Fathers faithfulness to His only begotten Son that brings our security

God's goodness to us, through Christ is far greater than we could ever have asked.
It is not a goodness to us because of what we have deserved.
It is not a goodness to us because God is a push over for us.
It is a goodness that is expressed to us because Jesus Christ deserves it.

God loves us, but He does more than that. He loves us through Christ. Jesus has earned His Father's love. And we who have trusted Christ are loved by the Father because He so supremely loves His Son.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Why Excellent Things

Proverbs 22:19-21 KJV
That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

God has given to us "excellent things in counsels and knowledge" for at least these three reasons:

That thy trust may be in the LordGod's Word gives me reason to trust in the Lord. Gives me reason to be saved and reason to live my life in a manner that rests upon Him and not upon my own will.

That [He] might make thee to know the certainty of the words of truthGod wants my trust to not only be upon Him, but upon His Word. And in truth, there is no such thing as an honest trst in the Lord that is not grounded in a firm faith in the Word of God. To trust in a god who is the figment of our own thoughts is to be truly blind, and heading to the ditch!

That thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee
God has every intention of using His children to bring others to a saving faith. Faith is not produced in the human intelligence. Faith is a gift that comes from God and is passed on from one who has faith to another who lacks it. And we pass on that faith to those who ask us, not when we tell them our own opinions but when we give to them what God has given to us from the Scriptures.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Diligent Thinking

Proverbs 21:5 KJV
The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.

John Gill
A man that is thoughtful and studious, and wisely forms schemes in his mind, and diligently pursues them; the issue of it is, generally speaking, prosperity and plenty: such a man is usually thriving and flourishing; and this holds good in things spiritual, as well as in things temporal.

I came to view this passage from two directions;
One, a diligent person thinks.The diligent man puts effort into his thoughts. He is not content with the thoughts that are tossed with the wind of every issue that comes his way. In any given day our minds will be exposed to countless ideas upon which to think. The news will give us things to thing about. Conversations with people will cause us to think. Things that we see as we travel will cause thoughts in our heads. On and on goes the list of influences into our thought life. But the diligent man forces those things to take the back seat in his mind. His thoughts are more purposeful, even if they are more difficult to maintain. He diligently guards those thoughts and works on them.

Two diligent thinking likely produces diligence in living.
As a man disciplines himself to think upon deeper, more meaningful, even more difficult things; as he labors in his life of thought those very thoughts begin to take the form of activity in his life. The reason his thoughts tend to plenteousness is because they produce more than idle imaginations. They produce ideas he turns into realities.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Abide In Me

John 15:7 KJV
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

John Gill says
Abiding in Christ is here explained by his words or doctrines abiding in his disciples; ... This abides when it comes in power, and becomes the engrafted word; and may be said to do so, when such, in whose hearts it has a place, and has taken deep root,
Continue to have a relish and savour of it,
A true and hearty affection for it,
Esteeming it above their necessary food;
When they hold fast the profession of it,
Stand fast in it,
Steadfastly abide by it, and
Constantly attend on it;

He goes on to say concerning answers
.... this must be understood not of temporal things, as riches, honours, profits, pleasures, or whatever even the carnal mind of a believer himself may sometimes desire; but of things spiritual, and with such limitations and restrictions as these; whatever is according to the will of God, for the Spirit of God himself asks for no other for the saints; whatever is for the glory of God, and for their own spiritual profit and edification; and whatever is agreeably to the words and doctrines of Christ, which abide in them.

I wonder if we can be said to abide in the Lord at all if we test this passage on whether we receive earthly and temporal things. We take what is truly spiritual and then we apply it to the material and become disappointed when our equation doesn't work!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Will Not Talk Much...

John 14:30 KJV
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
This is said after Jesus had twice told them to "Let not your heart be troubled" otherwise this would be a very troubling sentiment. Not only would they hear less from the Lord, but they would be exposed more to the prince of this world.

Jesus speaks to us both through the Word of God and the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Through the course of history His voice seems to have ebbed and flowed. The times when His voice was most often heard has not been, as we might think, during the times of real ease, but in those times when Christians were the most persecuted. I doubt that those who lived during the times of the most effectiveness in Christianity thought that they were being all that effective. They were not the largest congregations or the fastest growing or the most powerful influences on the outward view. Rather, they were persecuted and hunted. They were driven from their homes and repeatedly lost all of their possessions; so much so that they came to believe they would be best off without any of them at all! It was only after years had passed that we are able to look back on their lives and see the souls that were impacted by their testimonies.

So while the days we live in appear to be growing worse, there is hope that in these darker days, we might actually accomplish more real work for the Lord than has been done in these two hundred years or so of spiritual ease in America.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Too Many For Me

Judges 7:2 KJV
And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

We sure do love the numbers mentality in our churches today. We have forgotten that David was chastened for judging Israel and that God would not allow Gideon to enter battle with too many soldiers. Of course there are other Scriptures where numbers do count so it all has to be in balance. It is important to keep track of certain numbers so we do the best job possible in ministering to souls. But we also must remember who gives every victory.

Gideon's army was pared down to a number that could not possible win a military battle. His three hundred men, armed with only a trumpet, and empty pitcher and a lamp inside the pitcher faced a challenge that was beyond all human skill. Only God could have wrought this victory!

We are too quick to put into place plans of action that are worldly and designed to succeed rather than to simply trust the Lord and obey Him. We follow after
Church growth gurus,
Self appointed experts, and other
So called spiritual consultants

We search the country for those who seem to have been successful and we do what they do hoping for the same results. Whatever happened to just obeying the Lord.

Gideon's men only had
A lamp - the Word of God
A pitcher - their body to bear that light, this vessel had to be broken before it was effective
A trumpet - their voice to herald the Word

And with that, even the smallest band of believers can do great things for the Lord.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Though He...

John 12:37 KJV
But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:

This is a recurring theme in several of the past chapters of John. Almighty God, who can do anything, did not make these people believe on Jesus Christ.

Jesus, to be sure, did many miracles in the presence. There were all sorts of evidences that He is the Son of God. But Jesus did not resort to either
Bribery or
To make them believe.

He simply
Told them who He was
Reinforced His Word with action
And left it up to them to receive or reject.

I often would like the Lord to force my will on others. I would like Him to
Make someone believe or
Make someone follow or
Make someone make things easier on me than they currently are.

This is not what God does. The question is not whether I am going to be able to make others be what I want them to be. The question of Christianity is whether I am going to follow the Lord as I know He wants for me; even if following is the more difficult path.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How To Fix Thoughts

Proverbs 16:3 KJV
Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.

It is interesting to note that the Bible says the way to change our lives is by what we think and the way to change what we think is by what we do.

When a person comes to me with problems of sin. I do not tell him to change what he does first of all.
I tell him to get into the Bible.
I tell him to hear good preaching
I tell him to listen to Christian music
Our actions, more often than not, are in a large measure influenced by the things we think about. That is why the Bible says
Philippians 4:8 KJV
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

On the other hand, if a person is having trouble with his thoughts. If he is thinking about the wrong things: then I might advise him to change what he is doing;
Change the places he goes
Change the entertainment he practices
Change the crowd he hangs out with

The Bible says that if we will commit our works to the Lord, then our thoughts will be established.

I advise people who are unhappy to put on a smile anyway. I advise them to try to make other people happy. And more often than not, when they will do that, it makes them happy too.

God’s Word is true and right altogether. We must trust and obey it all!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tell Us Plainly

John 10:24 KJV
Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.

When I was just beginning as a preacher there was a man who would come to visit me several times a week. Louis was a little off mentally, but not so much that he could not think some pretty serious thoughts. As much as I would try to show him the Word of God, Louis could never come to the place where he just believed that Jesus was the Saviour.

As a young preacher I was distressed about this and kept searching the Bible for that one magic verse that would finally open his eyes so he could see Jesus as God in the flesh. I never found that verse. I could have wished, in those days, that Jesus had told us more plainly that He is God.

But over the years I have learned a few (some would say very few) things.
One, I have learned that Jesus has told us as plainly as is necessary.
The Bible does not come up short in any way. God as given us very clear very precise and very effective proof that Jesus is the Christ, the Saviour of the world. If one does not see it, it is not because God has not provided it.

Two, I have learned that it is not up to me to make people see Christ for who He is.
These Jews said to Jesus "tell us plainly" they even accused Jesus of making them doubt. And Jesus' response was not to say, "Hey guys, I'm sorry, I should have been more clear." His respnse was to say, "I told you and ye believed not."

Let's remember that the Christian life is a life of faith, not sight. There is no proof in the world that would make the willfully blind see the truth. And there is more than enough to convince those whose hearts have turned to Jesus that He is their Saviour. I do not need to concern myself with convincing the stubborn and hard hearted. I only need occupy myself in ministering to the tender and faithful.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Because They Cannot See

John 9:41 KJV
Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

I am reminded of
Proverbs 9:8 KJV
Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
And similar passages that elevate that person who is wise enough to receive instruction and humble enough to accept rebuke. That is the principle found in Jesus' words to these Pharisees. If they had been humble enough to recognize the spiritual blindness, then there was a spiritual cure present with them in Jesus Christ, but because they could not see that they were blind, then there was no hope for them.

The reason some never get saved at all is because they refuse to see themselves as in need of salvation. Satan has effectively blinded their eyes. They believe they know good and evil and can choose their own salvation. Being so blinded, they remain eternally blind.

The reason Christians never mature in the faith or overcome certain sins in their lives is for practically the same reason; they refuse to see themselves in need of instruction, correction and rebuke. They think they can handle things on their own. They are certainly not going to allow another sinner to give them any direction in their lives. They may come to hear preaching, but if that preaching gets too close to their own troubles then they label the preacher as judgmental and find someplace where they will not be forced to confront their sin.

And because they cannot see that they cannot see they never find victory and maturity in their Christian walk.

Monday, April 13, 2009

No Division Here

John 7:43 KJV
So there was a division among the people because of him.

This division was completely the problem of ignorance and lack of faith. The Scriptures do say that the Christ was to come from the seed of David and from Bethlehem. But they did not take the time to discover that is exactly where Jesus had come from.

Most divisions in churches today can be settled if those attending them will do two simple things:

One, study the Scriptures.
Many divisions happen because people hear what the preacher says but they do not realize that his preaching was from the Bible and not merely his opinions. People have so many opinions about spiritual things that are not based upon any solid Biblical principle or doctrinal truth that they assume the preacher is doing just as they would do; preaching what he thinks rather than what the Bible says. If Christians would carefully study the Scriptures it would resolve a lot of divisions.

Two, trust the Lord.
These Jews just would not believe what the Lord was teaching. Another group of spiritual divisions happens because there are people who would argue with the Bible even if they knew that the Bible said it. They know what the Bible teaches; they just do not trust what it teaches. They have their own views and the Bible is not going to change their minds. No man of God can reconcile with that!

It's a simple plan, but one that will work. We would have much less division among professing Christians if we would study the Scriptures and trust the Lord.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

No Place

John 8:37 KJV
I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

There is an interesting progressive study about spiritual fathers that takes place beginning at this point.
Abraham as father
God is Christ's Father
The devil is the father of these Jews

But my attention became focused this morning on this phrase, "... my word hath no place in you."

At that very moment they were hearing the words of Christ. But those words wer not taking root in them. They heard them, but they could not find lodging. There was no place for them.
And though they, as the leaders of the Jews, had the written word of God committed to them. And though they were presumed experts in that written Word, even it had found no place in them. They
Read it
Studied it
Interpreted and
Taught it
Wrote books and commentaries about it
But they would not let that Word have a proper home in their hearts. It was a system they practiced, but they missed God altogether. They used (or rather abused) that Word of God to be the barrier between them and a real walk with the Lord.

And we face a similar challenge even today. We can hear the Bible and even practice the Bible, and we can do that in such a way that it actually becomes the wall that separates us from God.

My prayer today is that the Word of God will find a place in me.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Which Meat Do We Want

John 6:26-27 KJV
Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

The spiritual battle we will war with the entirety of our lives is the battle of which meat we labor to obtain.

Jesus said these who had followed Him (and who will, by the time this chapter is over, turn away from Him) had sought Him not for the miracles (the spiritual work in their hearts) but because He had fed them. But then Jesus said the meat they should labor for is not that meat that perishes (we eat it and a few hours later we must eat again) but we should labor for a meat which never perishes. They of course said they wanted that meat, but it becomes apparent that even then they understood the meat to be a physical fulfillment and not a spiritual one.

It has been my experience that we, just as the Jews did in John chapter six, tend to turn everything into a physical experience rather than a spiritual one. Even when we do those things that are spiritual in nature, we often do them because we desire in exchange a physical/temporal reward.

Our challenge
Our battle
Our struggle

Is to labor for the meat which, “endureth unto everlasting life”: to truly labor for spiritual rewards and not worldly ones.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Search the Scriptures

John 5:39 KJV
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

What a great challenge for all of us to remember. We are to "search the Scriptures."

The Bible is not the source itself of eternal life. Some have gotten off course in making
The Bible
The local church
The baptistery waters
The missions program

Or any number of other things the focus and emphasis of spiritual life.

The fact is Jesus Christ is the emphasis of a truly spiritual life and those things either aid us in our relationship with Christ or are the response of having a spiritual life. Sometimes we mask the fact that we do not have a real walk with God by convincing people that a walk with the Lord IS any one of or a combination of the things above.

Search the Scriptures. Few things could be more important! But in searching them, do not be satisfied with anything less than finding Jesus Christ Himself.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Divided Before Conquered

Joshua 13:7 KJV
Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and the half tribe of Manasseh,

Though God had given them some supernatural victories and they had taken many of the cities of the Promised Land there was still "very much land to be possessed." Israel would, in fact, never fully conquer the Canaanites.

Still, God told Joshua to divide the land. These were "by faith" operations. It is as if God had led them super supernaturally to gain their foothold in the Promised Land, but from here on out the battles would be
Slower to win
More individually won and
With less of that obvious supernatural power

It was not that God quit leading them or helping them. But He did place much more responsibility upon the shoulders of the children of Israel themselves.

Battles won without struggle are won battles we will not celebrate long. In order to appreciate and grow from struggle, we must struggle personally and we must struggle painfully. Then the victory is sweet and the fruits of it long lasting.

When I first got saved it seemed like God did so many miraculous things for me. Each day was a wonder. Since then God has set me on a course that has involved much pain and sometimes very intense suffering. But God is still there and God is still leading and helping. He is now in the slow process of molding me into the image of my blessed Saviour. May I truly submit to that molding process.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Of the Lord

Joshua 11:20 KJV
For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses.

The Lord gave Israel several cities in supernatural ways. Had God chosen to, God could have caused each of these cities to surrender to Israel. But it was "of the Lord" that these cities would harden their hearts and that they would do battle with Israel.

It is not always of the Lord for us to have peace on earth. There are certain enemies that we are to do battle with all of our lives. We are never to make peace with sin in our flesh. It is of the Lord that we fight it with every ounce of our energy. There will also be times we must do battle with false doctrine or with wolves that creep into God's fold.

We are soldiers. And as good soldiers we will be forced to endure hardness. And that in no way indicates that we are out of the will of God.

25th Anniversary

This is insignificant to most I know, but a milestone in my life. 25 years ago today I preached my first sermon as a pastor of a New Testament Baptist Church. I can see it as if it were yesterday. Anita and I arrived into Astoria in the afternoon of April 7th. We rented a room at the City Center Motel and went to have a small bite to eat at the brand new McDonald's just a block or so from the room. While there we met Rod Karen and Jennifer Hockley, soon to be some of the most important people in our lives! Even today we consider them family. The Hockleys Rowlands, Sculls and us met with the Pasco family on their rented property on the Peter Johnson Turn Off Rd. It was on that property we would conduct the first service of the new church about to form.
April 8th was a beautiful spring day. The sun shone, but their was a mist of rain at the same time. On the way from the motel to the Pasco's home that morning, we stopped at Hauke's Market at Smith Point and bought some coffee for the Pasco's. I stayed in the car as Anita ran into the store. The view over the Young's Bay and into the mouth of the Columbia River was breathtaking. What a blessing that God had called us to live there! The 13 years we ministered in Astoria are, to this day, some of the most rewarding of my life. It was not an easy task by any means.
We went hungry often the first couple of years.
We were depressed from time to time at the slow progress of the church

But our kids were born there.
Anita and I developed our relationship as husband and wife there. and
God blessed us more than we could ever possibly describe there.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


John 2:12 KJV
After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.

I was struck by the fact that when Jesus went from Cana to Capernaum, His mother and His brethren accompanied Him and His disciples.

This is not to say that they were with Jesus everywhere He went. But they were with Him, it seems, as much as not.

They sought to speak to Him in Matthew 12
They urged him to go to Jerusalem and did not believe in Him in John 7
His mother, of course, was there for His crucifixion and
His brothers James and Jude became leaders in Christianity

Even Christ's earthly family was key and vital to His ministry and to the future work of faith. Therefore we may extend that and say that our own earthly families are also key and vital to our ministries today and to the assurance that it extends to those generations of our families that will follow us.

And we may then interject the importance of having our families with us and emphasizing raising them to understand and receive the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ and then to surrender to serve the Lord with their lives.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Power to Become

John 1:12 KJV
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Here is one of the most important verses in the Gospels, and thus likely one of the most well known (at least in the Christian circles I am around) so I will not have anything new to say from it. Still I want to avoid the tendency to avoid a verse like this because fearing it is over stressed.

This is a simple Scripture concerning the process of salvation:
One believes
Becoming a Christian is no difficult chore. It is not complicated; it does not take physical effort. It really doesn't even take spiritual effort because the faith to believe is given us of the Lord. (If we have a struggle at all it is that we either think we have to work up that faith or that we have to force that faith into the person with whom we witness.

It is not that difficult. We simply believe.

One receives
Through believing we receive Christ. The context indicates that this isn't "receiving Jesus in our hearts" but that we affirm Him as who He is; the only begotten Son of God, the Saviour of all who call upon Him.

We acknowledge both our dependence upon Him and His willingness and ability to meet our need of a Saviour.

One becomes
The result of believing and receiving Christ is that we become sons of God. It isn't joining a club. It isn't enlisting in a movement. Those we cold do on our own power. But to become part of God's family; that is something only God could do.

And it implies more than merely being set free of the guilt of our sin. If that is all that happened at salvation, we could be set free and left to ourselves. It implies that God has elevated the saved to a status beyond grace. What joy to be a child of God!

To my readers:
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For this and more than 3800 earlier Daily Visits with God visit There you will find daily visits going back to 2006.
If you have been blessed by this blog, please subscribe to my feed and share it with others.
For more resources from Pastor Marvin McKenzie visit
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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Jesus Himself

Luke 24:15 KJV
And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.

It is has been a bright, sunny weekend (after having snow on the ground just last Sunday) and it is not difficult for me to imagine what it must have been like on that day when Jesus was resurrected.

The women had been at the sepulchre early in the morning and had found the body of Jesus missing. After the testimony of the angels that He was risen they told the apostles. Peter ran form the place where they were to the tomb and found it empty, as the women had said.

Now two of the disciples (probably one of them was Peter) were travelling to Emmaus, talking together about the events of the day. The Bible says "while they communed....Jesus Himself drew near...."
Now, we are coming together on this Sunday morning to commune together and reason concerning the things of Jesus Christ; His death burial and resurrection and what those things mean to us personally.

May Jesus Himself draw near today and
May our eyes be opened to see Him.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Every Tribe; Every Man

Joshua 4:4-5 KJV
Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:
And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:

I am focusing on the word "every" in these two verses.

  • Israel was to take "of every tribe a man" and then
  • Those men were to take "every man of you a stone."

There is individual and personal responsibility here. Every one had to do his part. It is representative, I know. And there are some things in the Christian life that can be accomplished through representatives. For instance we can't individually go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every Creature. But we can accomplish this commission through representatives. We send missions and support them for that work.

  • But every one of us ought to help support those missionaries
  • And every one of us can be a witness in our own town

One reason for our personal participation is to teach the same participation to our children.

  • That we have crossed into a life with Christ
  • That we have served Christ in those ways He has called and
  • That we can show that to the next generation

Is key to the continuity of a faithful Gospel message.

To my readers:
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For this and more than 3800 earlier Daily Visits with God visit There you will find daily visits going back to 2006.
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Friday, April 03, 2009

Followers have a right to ask this

Joshua 1:17 KJV
According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.

Gill says this is not to be taken as a condition of their following Joshua but as a reason for it. Joshua had proven himself as one that was strong and of good courage and as one who walked with the Lord. For forty years he had faithfully served alongside Moses. He and Caleb had urged Israel to enter into the Promised Land at Kadesh Barnea and they were the only two Jews still alive from that day to enter into the Promised Land these many years later. He had entered into battle while Moses stood watch and prayed (Aaron and Hur holding up his hands). Certainly he had proven himself.

But this is a fair thing for those who follow Christians to ask of us.

  • Be strong and of good courage and
  • The Lord thy God be with thee

We who ask souls to follow us to Christ have every reasonable right to ask us to keep ourselves in the presence of the Lord and to, through His presence, be strong and of good courage.

May the Lord make it so!

To my readers:
I would love to hear from you. Leave comments below.
For this and more than 3800 earlier Daily Visits with God visit There you will find daily visits going back to 2006.
If you have been blessed by this blog, please subscribe to my feed and share it with others.
For more resources from Pastor Marvin McKenzie visit
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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Things to Take Heed Of

Luke 21:34 KJV
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

This is an important verse as our Lord tells us those things that we may get so caught up in that we are unaware when Christ returns.

Surfeiting -Barnes Notes defines this as,
Excessive eating and drinking, so as to oppress the body; indulgence in the pleasures of the table. This word does not include “intoxication,” but merely indulgence in food and drink, though the food and drink should be in themselves lawful.

Drunkenness -
Barnes Notes once again say,
Intoxication, intemperance in drinking. .... All nations have contrived some way to become intoxicated - to bring in folly, and disease, and poverty, and death, by drunkenness; and in nothing is the depravity of men more manifest than in thus endeavoring to hasten the ravages of crime and death.

Cares of this life
Because of the tenor of the two preceding issues, I would guess that this has to do with the over use of the things of life. We get ourselves over whelmed simply by getting too much of this life.
A person might have so much debt that it consumes their thoughts
A person might have so many possessions that they take too much time to maintain
A person might have so many plans that there is little time left over for the Lord or
A person might have so much money that they become preoccupied with the managing of it

Jesus said "....take heed to yourselves..." don't let this happen to you. You know it can happen, I have warned you of the dangers of it. Take heed and don't allow it to happen to you.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Our Enemies Know Our God Better Than We Often Do

Deuteronomy 32:31 KJV
For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.
Moses' song concerning the Rock is filled with picturesque wonder concerning the person of Christ. A Christian would do well to spend much time pondering each verse in this passage which deals with the Rock, applying the verse to the Christian relationship with Jesus.

Today my thoughts were on this phrase, "even our enemies themselves being judges." The people of this world are, without question, judges. They judge Christians and professing Christians all of the time.
They judge the credibility of our message in contrast to our lifestyle
They judge the impact that Christians have in our world today versus the impact that those who are not Christians have
They judge the history of Christendom in both its positive and negative aspects

My challenge, I believe, is that I am not sure that most professing Christians see our Rock and different than their rock. It evidences itself in the fact that we are so quick to do things in the very same ways that a worldly person would do them.
We would buy our possessions the same ways
We would manage our moneys the same ways
We would plan our retirements the same ways

And by doing so, we demonstrate to the enemies of Christ that we don't even believe our Rock is not as their rock. They are just different rocks.

Before the enemies of Christ will ever glorify our Rock we, who proclaim ourselves as His children, must bring glory to Him.