Monday, December 19, 2011

Freedom from Shame and Fear

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Zephaniah 1:1-3:20

"In that day you shall not be shamed for any of your deeds in which you transgressed against Me....and no one shall make them afraid."  Zephaniah 3:11, 13b (NKJV)

What is the condition of your soul today?  Are you operating in joy and confidence or are you laden with guilt and fear? 

How is your anxiety level?  The Bible speaks directly to the condition of your heart.  Isaiah 32:17 says, "The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever."  When we stand in Christ's forgiveness, the result is great boldness and rest.

Scripture clearly teaches that there is forgiveness for all those things that could cause you shame.  He will give you beauty for ashes! (Is. 61:3)  You needn't be afraid any more.  Our God will fight for you.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Nations

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Micah 1:1-4:13

Many nations shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths". For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Micah 4:2 (NJKV)

God has always had a heart for the nations. His purposes were never contained in Israel. The Jewish people were never the end; they were the BEGINNING. They were the Chosen People in the Old Testament, but the key question is, "Chosen for what?"

God's desire is always for those who are outside - those who have nothing - those who are far off. This should be our heart, too.

The nature of fallen flesh is selfishness and self-centeredness. Today, lift your eyes off your own circle of need and see those who need the word of the living, loving God. It is there that we will find the heart of God.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Amos and the Plumbline

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Amos 7:1-9:15

Thus He showed me: Behold, the Lord stood on a wall made with a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand.  And the Lord said to me, "Amos, what do you see?"  And I said, "A plumb line."  Then the Lord said: "Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel ...  Amos 7:7-8 (NKJV)

It is wonderful when God speaks prophetically to His people.  There is ALWAYS encouragement, up-building, and comfort in God's prophetic ministry (see I Co. 14:3). 

But, you might ask why are there so many seemingly scathing prophecies in the Old Testament?  Aren't there times when God absolutely rebukes and judges His people for their sin?  The answer is YES!  But, let's look further. 

EVEN IN THE HARDEST WORDS FROM GOD, THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE OF REDEMPTION.  Even when it seems that He is scolding us severely, there is the touch of mercy and promise.  We must remember this important characteristic of all that God does.  He is by nature a Redeemer.

At times, He drops the plumb line into your life.  He measures you.  He identifies those areas that are out of line with His will.  He shines the light on the errors of workmanship and the times you cut the corners.  This seems to be such a severe rebuke.  What if He condems the whole building because of bad workmanship?!

Always remember: God turns the light on not to hurt but to heal.  If He drops His plumb line into your life, there is always the promise that He will set things right and bring a new era of blessing.  The book of Amos ends with such a promise:

"Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord...the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and all the hills will flow with it.  I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.  I will plant them in their land..."  Amos 9:13-15).  The God Who drops the plumbline is also the God Who redeems!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Battle for Truth

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Daniel 8:1-27

"...and he cast truth down to the ground." Daniel 8:12 (NKJV)

Daniel is an amazing book. It, along with The Revelation, tells us much about the spiritual battle surrounding the end of our world. We can draw valuable instruction and inspiring lessons from the stories and visions of this small prophetic book.

Daniel prophecies the great battles we are fighting today. Perhaps the most crucial is the battle for truth. All Christians should be champions of truth and truthfulness. There is an incredible deception at loose in our world today. False and empty philosophies fill our culture. But we are carriers and custodians of the which Francis Schaeffer called "true truth".

That truth is rooted in the reality of God our Creator. It is embodied in the Person of His Son. It is the wisdom by which this world was created. All facts, sciences, and verities flow out of and are in agreement with God's Word.

Today, you can lift up and walk in that which our spiritual enemy seeks to cast down. You can abide in the Truth.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A New Heart

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Ezekiel 35:1-36:38

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 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. Ezekiel 36:25-26 (NKJV)

Grace is at the very core our our relationship with God. Many have erroneously interpreted the Old Testament as being a system built on man's efforts to keep God's law. One of the primary purposes of the law is to show us our profound need for a Savior - our need for grace. It is not a means of self-justification.

God says that He will cleanse us. This is HIS work. He does not say, "I will show you how to cleanse yourself." He does not say, "I will inspect, guide, and approve your self-reformation." He says that He will do that which He alone can do. He will wash us with pure water.

God does an inside job of removing the cold deep interior of man. He brings life and vibrancy to the deepest core of our being. Only He could do such a thing. All we can do is recognize, receive, and enjoy this wonderful work of grace. He will then live IN us bring power and freedom. This is the great promise of life that we enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Good Shepherd

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Ezekiel 33:1-34:31

Therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.  I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them -- My servant David.  He shall feed them, and be their shepherd.  Ezekiel 34:22-23 (NKJV)

One of the most vivid images of the ministry of Jesus is that of a shepherd.  He is our Good Shepherd.  The metaphor has deep and important meaning.  We, God's people, are likened to sheep -- lost sheep.  We are a scattered flock open to danger, disease, and abuse. 

This is the condition of fallen man.  We are like sheep without a shepherd.  We need to shepherding ministry of Jesus.

Scripture says that the Father's great plan for us is not simply to accept us and allow us to pledge our allegiance to Him.  He promises to send -- to raise up -- to establish wonderful shepherding care over our lives.  Jesus is our good shepherd.

In this passage there is a succession of "I will's".  God says, "I will search for you...I will seek you...I will bring you in...I will feed you...I will give you rest...I will bind you up...I will strengthen you."  It is a wonderful picture.  Such is the care God promises to His people.  This is more than membership -- it is communion.  It is more than acquantance -- it is acceptance.

Such is the relationship God desires with His people.  Jesus is our Good Shepherd.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Origin of Satan

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Ezekiel 27:1-28:26

You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. Ezekiel 28:14-15 (NKJV)

You may have wondered where the devil comes from. Here, as well as Isaiah 14, is the explanation. Lucifer was originally an angel (perhaps an arch-angel) who had a very special assignment. He covered the throne of God. It appears that musical instruments and beautiful stones were a part of his armament and apparel (vs. 13).

He succumbed to spiritual pride. He became enfatuated with his own excellence. In so doing, he invented evil. This points out an interesting and important truth. Sometimes the greatest battle and the greatest temptation is found among those closest to the throne of God.

Lucifer had a position literally overshadowing God's throne. From that position he conceived the greatest evil. Similarly, there is always a tremendous battle surrounding the worship of God! There is spiritual warfare over the access to the presence of God.

Are you today experiencing major resistance and extreme temptation. Perhaps it is because you are in the right place doing the right thing! The battle is most intense AT THE GATES.

So don't falter. Don't lessen your resolve. Don't let down your guard. You are in the right place and you will prevail IN HIS PRESENCE.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

His Word is Sure

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Ezekiel 12:1-14:11

Therefore say to them, "None of My words will be postponed any more, but the word which I speak will be done," says the Lord. Ezekiel 12:28 (NKJV)

Have you ever grown weary of waiting on God? Have you ever wondered if His promises are true? One of the salient truths of Scripture and experience is that God's timing and our timing are not usually the same. We are impatient, but God is faithful. We grow tired, but God never wavers.

We must make a ground-level decision. Is God faithful, true, and good. He never lies. His words concerning us WILL come to pass!

This is the great fight of faith. We believe that there is a God in heaven Who sees all and knows all. He is infinitely just, good, and powerful. There is a day ahead in which He will make all things right. He will fulfill His good word. We live with this hope.

God fulfills His promises!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Don't Forget Your Destiny

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Lamentations 1:1-2:22

...She did not consider her destiny; therefore her collapse was awesome... Lamentations 1:9 (NKJV)

It has been said that sin is often a case of temporary insanity. Israel forgot who she was!!! She forgot the great calling God had given her. She forgot the history of great men and women who had carried the mantle. She forgot who God made her to be.

Therefore, she fell for the lies of temporary lovers. She settled for momentary solutions instead of holding for promised destiny. She had a great calling, but she suffered an equally great fall. Why? Because she forgot who she was.

Temptation always speaks to us of immediate relief. It lies to us telling us that the promised destiny will never come. We sell out our future for a bowl of beef stew (Gen. 25:29-34).

Today CONSIDER YOUR DESTINY!!! Meditate on the grand future before you in God. Consider the good things God yet has for you. This is one of our greatest weapons in the fight against sin. HOPE IN GOD!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

At Which Table Do You Eat?

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Jeremiah 51:1-52:34

And as for his provisions, there was a regular ration given him by the king of Babylon, a portion for each day until the day of his death, all the days of his life. Jeremiah 52:34 (NKJV)

The king of Judah was given rations at the table of the king of Babylon. We might think it finally turned out well for Jehoiachin, the defeated king of God's people. Instead of languishing in prison, he had was given a place of favor and provision in a foreign land.

In our carnal desire for comfort and security, we might think this is not so bad after all. But let's look at it for what it really is, and draw lessons for today.

Jehoiachin was a KING! Yet he now was conquered and owned by a foreign king. He was eating at the wrong table. Many believers today are in the same condition. We are kings and should be living in our own land enjoying God's gracious provision. Instead we are captive and living under the hand of carnal bondage. The provisions may be adequate, but they are not freely given by a loving God.

Are you satisfied with token rations? Too often we walk in defeat and consider the allowances of our difficult situation to be good enough. But God wants to return you to His original purposes. YOU ARE A KING! He wants you to live in a land of freedom.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Like Shiloh

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Jeremiah 26:1-27:22

"Then I will make this house like Shiloh....". Jeremiah 26:6 (NKJV)

As we read the Old Testament prophets, we read a story of the judgment of God. Repeatedly, God's people have disobeyed and rebelled against God. Despite faithful warnings from God, they refused His grace and goodness, His beckoning to walk in blessing.

With reluctance, God backed away from them. This is an example of the judgment of God. He does not always bring devastating catastrophe. He does not usually rain down fire. His usual means of judgment is to back way and remove His presence.

He says that He "will make this house like Shiloh." Shiloh was once the most important location in Israel. It was there that the Tabernacle in the wilderness. Was erected in the days of Joshua. It was there that the seat of government once rested. It had seen some of the greatest moments in redemptive history. But now it lay desolate.

There is a great lesson here. We cannot rest on yesterday's glory. We cannot believed as the Pharisees did years later (John 8:33) that our past accomplishments or lineage guarantee God's favor.

Nothing takes the place of radical, complete, whole-hearted surrender. It is that people who will always walk in God's best.

Friday, October 14, 2011

God's Word a Hammer

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Jeremiah 23:21-25:38

"Is not My word like a fire?" says the Lord, "And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?" Jeremiah 23:29 (NKJV)

God's Word can break open the hard places. It is like a hammer. Many times we find ourselves in difficult situations. Human ability to perform runs its course, and we find ourselves halted and shut down. There is however something stronger than our circumstances. It is the Word of God.

The reason a hammer works is because of its hardness, its constituent strength. It does not crack or fracture under pressure. In a sense, the hammer "enforces its will" on that which it strikes. So it is with God's Word.

But a hammer must be USED. It does not operate on its own. Someone must pick it up and swing it. So it is with the Word of God. So bring God's Word to bear in your situation today. It will break open the hardest barriers.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Full Ministry of Jesus

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Jeremiah 22:1-23:20

"I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor shall be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking," says the Lord. Jeremiah 23:5 (NKJV)

Jesus is our all-sufficient savior and king. It is marvelous to consider the ways He has made provision for us. His care is complete reaching to every area of life. He is the great shepherd of the sheep.

In His provision, He comes to us through many that He has raised up to carry aspects of His care. We find this vividly described in the Book of Acts where it says that there were "none among them who lacked"(Acts 4:34).

He promises to feed us, to defend us, to bring us hope, and to banish our despair. He is to us righteousness and peace. This is the direct ministry of the Lord to us. But, He also uses His servants to fulfill this ministry.

So are you open to the full ministry of the Lord? He says, "I will set up shepherds, and prophets, and leaders, and vessels who will bring Me to you." This is part of what it means to be Christ's body.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Fire in My Bones

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Jeremiah 19:1-21:14

Then I said, "I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name."  But His Word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back and I could not.  Jeremiah 20:9 (NKJV)

There are many vivid images in Scripture for the Word of God.  The Word is described as light, as a lamp, as bread and as water.  A little later in Jeremiah, the prophet says that God's Word is like a hammer that shatters rock (Jer. 23:29).  In that same passage, we are told that the Word of God is like a FIRE. 

Here today, Jeremiah EXPERIENCES the fire of God's Word "shut up in his bones."  God's Word is like a fire.  In this passage, Jeremiah has the Word working in His life, but is refusing to release it!  There are interesting insights here. 

First, God's Word is ACTIVE.  We should not expect the Word of God to be simply information that we can learn and store passively.  Hebrews 4:12 says that God's Word is living and powerful.  It always moves inside of you.  As you read and meditate on Scripture today, you should realize that God will through His Word MOVE YOU.

Secondly, the Word of God goes DEEP INSIDE YOU.  Jeremiah speaks of it being "in my bones."  God's Word is not peripheral.  God reaches to the core of who you are.  He speaks to the base of your being.  There is an interior resonance, a chord that the Word strikes in us.

Lastly, God's Word will accomplish that for which it is sent (Is. 55:11)!  You cannot hold it back.  It is EFFECTIVE.  I am so glad that my hope rests not in myself or my ability, but in the faithfulness of God and His Word.

Monday, October 10, 2011

His Words Were Found

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Jeremiah 14:11-16:15

Your words were found and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts. Jeremiah 15:16 (NKJV)

Three things we do with the Word of God! First, we FIND His Word. This may sound simple. Shouldn't we just read the Bible. Yes, of course. That's the start. But it is more that just reading words on a page. It is also finding there the nuggets of gold, the treasures of truth, the priceless gems of gospel and grace that feed your soul.

As we gaze at the truths of Scripture, we then INGEST them. We "eat" the Word of God. What does this mean? Eating is more than just swallowing and forgetting. We chew, we taste, we savor, we fully receive digesting and incorporating the nourishment into our entire body. the Word literally becomes a part of us.

Lastly, we rejoice. We JOY and ENJOY the life in the Word of God. This is more than a response or reaction. This is a decision. Because we love God's Word, we value it. As we receive it our joy is full.

This is the great territory of all those who are called by His name!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Heart of God

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Jeremiah 2:31-4:18

Can a virgin forget her ornaments or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number. Jeremiah 2:32 (NKJV)

Hear the heart of God. There is certainly no doubt that our God is awesome in splendor, majestic in power. He is all in all and NEEDS nothing. But in this passage, hear His heart!

This is an incredible truth. The God Who created the universe and holds all power and authority is speaking of a LOVE RELATIONSHIP. while there is no lack in God, yet He speaks here as one who desires reciprocal relationship. In a sense, He has made Himself vulnerable to us.

It is wonderful to consider that even though God does not need us, yet He desires to relate with us. He calls us and beckons us to come into thrilling and invigorating relationship to Him.

Without weakening God, I would like to say to you today that He misses you when you stay away from Him. We may often remark how we miss our quiet time during a bust season. Well, God misses it, too. So spend time today rekindling the most important relationship you have!

Monday, October 3, 2011

What Do You See

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Jeremiah 1:1-2:30

Moreover the word of the Lord came to me saying, "Jeremiah, what do you see?"  And I said, "I see a branch of an almond tree." . . . And the word of the Lord came to me the second time, saying, "What do you see?"  And I said, "I see a boiling pot..."  Jeremiah 1:11,13 (NKJV)

Jeremiah chapter 1 is so full of truth -- so many lessons.  We find the great power of God's Word released through prophetic ministry to tear down and build up (1:10).  We find the God's eternal perspective on who we are and what we are to do (1:5).  We find three ways we are to stand up for God in our world -- like a city, a support beam, and a wall (1:18).  It is truly rich stuff!

Central to this chapter are two images.  God twice asks Jeremiah, "What do you see?"  The two visions are 1) an almond branch, and 2) a poiling pot.  These two are pictures of God's work in us and through us.  God is always wanting to GROW something in us.  He also desiring to REFINE and PURIFY us.

The almond branch speaks of new growth.  Jesus spoke about His desire for us to be fruitful.  This requires that we be attached to our nutrition source (see John 15).  If we do that, we will bear MUCH FRUIT.  Part of the reason we have daily disciplines of prayer and Bible study is so that we can be the almond branch that buds and grows.  Today, God is growing something fantastic in your life!

The boiling pot speaks of God's activity to change us.  He is working to remove the impurities and elevate our intrinsic quality.  Like gold or silver, He is refining us so that His qualities shine through us.  Today, there is something God is wanting to boil off of you.  He is always desiring to change you for the better.

So let these two operations go forward in your life today.  Fruitfulness and refining.  Do you see it?  Can you see these two things taking place?  Like Jeremiah, God asks you, "What do you see?"

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Full Ministry of the Lord

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Isaiah 30:12-33:9

Like birds flying about, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem.  Defending, He will also deliver it; passing over, He will preserve it.  Isaiah 31:5 (NKJV)

God desires to do a FULL MINISTRY in each of our lives.  We often see or understand or receive only one apect of His ministry.  But, He wants to bless you completely.

In this small verse, we see three stages of God's work for you.  First, there is the ministry of DEFENDING you.  Far too often, we are simply under attack.  We are harried and bothered by Satanic harrassment.  God wants to DEFEND you. 

But there is another level.  He wants to DELIVER you!  He does not simply want to keep the enemy at bay.  He does not just desire to beat back the opposition.  We wants to DELIVER you out of the mess so that you are no longer fighting the same old battles.  He will DELIVER you!

Lastly, He desires to PRESERVE you.  This speaks of the sustaining, upholding, enablement of God.  He wants you to PREVAIL.  Preserving means that when it's all said and done, you're still standing and you are propering!

So where are you?  Are you surviving (on the defensive all the time)?  Or are you being delivered from your enemies?  Are you walking in the providence of God -- preserved for every good work?

God wants to do a FULL MINISTRY in your life.

The Faith Walk

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Isaiah 30:12-33:9

Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.  Isaiah 30:21 (NKJV)

The guidance of God is wonderful.  For anyone who seeks to do the will of God, there is a continual prayer, "Lord, guide me."  We sincerely desire to be led by the Lord.

This passage is about guidance, but there is an interesting insight that we should notice.  The prophet says that you will hear a word from the Lord!  It is a word of guidance.  But, notice that this word is BEHIND you. 

I would think that the word ought to be IN FRONT showing the way.  But instead this passage says that the word will be behind you pushing your forward. 

This is the true faith walk.  We often desire for God to be so visibly AHEAD of us that we move forward TOWARD Him.  Actually, it is rather easy to move ahead when you see the Lord in the road ahead beckoning you to come.

But this Scripture says He will be behind you.  Ahead of you may well be darkness and question marks.  Ahead of you may be a pure faith walk like jumping off into a void.  But, you will have a word from the Lord BEHIND you propelling you forward.  By faith in God and God alone, you take steps of obedience.  He said that this is the way for you to walk, and His instruction is all you need.  You don't require appealing circumstances.  You don't demand confirming evidences.  You rely one hundred percent on the word you have heard.

We move by faith having just enough light for the next step.  It is not a halogen lamp shining out miles ahead.  It is just enough to take that needed step.  And our God promises that He will keep you in the way.  If you veer off to the left, He will correct you.  If you lag off to the right, He will pull you back in. 

This is the GREAT ADVENTURE.  Hear today the Word BEHIND you that will propel you into your glorious future.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

His Work in Us

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Isaiah 25:1-28:13

Lord, You will establish peace for us, for You have also done all our works in us. Isaiah 26:12 (NKJV)

Paul would write years later, "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Eph. 2:10) The grace-filled life is the peace-filled life. Some have mistakenly said that grace is New Testament and law is Old Testament. The Bible, however, is a grace book from start to finish.

God never commands us to do that which He does not also ENABLE us to do. We are His workmanship. He does His work in us and through us. That brings real peace!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Day of Righteousness

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Isaiah 15:1-18:7

In mercy the throne will be established; and One shall sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.  Isaiah 16:5 (NKJV)

There is something in every human heart that desires to be right and to be righteous.  We may fear justice but we earnestly desire it.  Written into our very fiber is a sense that everything should someday be set right.

In this world, it seems that true justice is but a fleeting wish that rarely materializes.  Wrongs often go uncorrected.  Injustice seems to have its way.

But a day in coming when God will set things right!  Only He can do it.  His throne of justice will be a throne of mercy.  He will rule in truth and will bring perfect righteousness.

It is for this future world that we now prepare.  It is for that day that we live.  Everything will be made right.  Our God has promised it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What Lies Ahead

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Isaiah 10:1-11:16

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  Isaiah 11:9 (NKJV)

A life without hope is a living hell.  It is the firm expectation of good to come that keeps us moving forward -- that keeps us alive.  What is your vision of the future?  What is your expectation? 

Isaiah is full of words and pictures of a great future that lies ahead of each of us who follow Jesus.  He is the Rod, the stem of Jesse (11:1), He is the Branch -- the root.  He is the seed planted in this earth that will grow into a glorious future.  Ultimately, He will redeem His creation.  In that day, the wolf will dwell with the lamb.  The calf and the lion will lie down together.

God has determined to fill the earth with His glory.  The magnitude of this promise is immense and wonderful.  But remember, YOU are part of this drama.  He has promised to fill YOU with His knowledge -- with His glory.

Our present discomfort does not compare to the magnificent future that lies ahead.  With this hope in our hearts, we can overcome any obstacle. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Deliver Your City

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Ecclesiastes 7:1-9:18

There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares around it.  Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city.  Yet no one remembered that same poor man.  Ecclesiastes 9:14-15 (NKJV)

The Bible says that the kingdom of God is live leaven in the earth.  It is small, and seemingly inconspicuous -- like a mustard seed.  It operates quietly and in hidden fashion.  We should always be wary of times when it seems the people of God are openly powerful.  We are like a "poor wise man" living in a besieged city. 

Yet in our humility and in our insignificance, we become immensely powerful.  It is through this "poor wise man" that the city is delivered!  When the church operates as "salt and light" in the world, there is great power released to change our world.

Our battle is not simply economic or social.  It is not merely political or educational.  It is a battle of wisdom and it is spiritual.  We should major on being powerful BEFORE GOD rather than powerful BEFORE MEN.  Even though men quickly forget our name, yet God remembers.  Our names are written in Heaven's Hall of Fame.  That is all that matters.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Two are Better than One

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Ecclesiastes 4:1-6:12

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.  Ecc. 4:9-10 (NKJV)

God designed us to walk together.  We are meant to live helping each other and cooperating with each other.  It was John Donne who penned the words:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

These thoughts are heightened when we consider the Body of Christ.  In our individualistic, self-centered Western culture, we too often go it alone.  But, as the writer states, "no man is an island."  If mishap befalls your brother, it affects you.  Also, if success comes to my brother, I am with him increased.

We are not just a part of mankind, we are part of one Body in Christ.  It is important to surround yourself with those who will "hold your rope" when you are in need.  The added benefit is that each of our lives are elevated.  It is the best way to live.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Eternity in Their Hearts

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Ecclesiates 1:1 -3:22

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NKJV)

The Providence of God!  Underneath our lives and underneath this world is the wonderful, life-giving providence of God.  He sustains us day by day.  He gives us life, hope, beauty -- the very air we breathe. 

I know that some may respond with skepticism at my words and the words of Solomon.  No doubt, sin has deeply marred this beautiful world.  Pain courses through our existence.  Yet, in the words of words of Dt. 33:27, "The eternal God is your refuge, and  underneath are the everlasting arms."

In His redemptive work, God has surrounded us with tokens of His goodness.  We glimpse Him in His creation, and in the wonder of our world.  There are moments when we feel we can see eternity.  In that sense, we today have one foot in this world and one in the world to come.  It is beautiful.

One last note.  Solomon says we cannot find this out.  What He means is that the grandeur of how God created us and how we sustains us will always be hidden in Him.  We will never fully exhaust the knowing of God.  We can only love Him, serve Him, worship Him, and stand in awe. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A New Kind of Praying

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Job 40:1-42:17

And the Lord restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends.  Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Job 42:10 (NKJV)

There are two dimensions in our lives: the upward and the outward; the vertical and the horizontal.  One of the foundational realities of Scripture is that these two are connected.  The vertical (upward) speaks to our relationship to God.  It is aimed at heaven.  The horizontal (outward) deals with our relationship with people and engages us with earth.

For Job, restoration from God was tied to reconciliation with men.  Only when he was willing to pray FOR his "friends" was blessing released to heal his own personal brokenness. 

We are all by nature inwardly focused -- turned in on ourselves.  It is part of what Scripture calls the flesh.  God's plan is to bring us to immense freedom and joy.  This involves giving us a new center -- a new focus -- a new core.  As we turn from self-centeredness, God uses people with their faults and frailties to draw us out of our introversion. 

Rather than praying so hard for yourself, try praying for those who give you problems.  Rather than asking for relief from their inconsistencies, pray for blessing on them!  Such is the key to new joy is us.  That is breakthrough!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Glimpse of Heaven

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Job 37:1-39:30

When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy... Job 38:7 (NKJV)

It is common for men to speculate and wonder at what Heaven will be like.  If you know Jesus, Heaven is your ultimate destination.  Heaven means eternity and whole lot more!

One of the consistent images concerning Heaven is that of incredible joy and exultation before God.  Heaven means worship in the richest and most powerful dimensions imaginable.  God speaks to Job in a kind of rebuke asking him if he was witness to eternal realities at the moment the world was created.

In that moment, THERE WAS WORSHIP.  Scripture says the morning stars sang in perfect harmony.  There was shouting because of the goodness of God in creation.

It always encourages me to consider what is going on in Heaven right now.  Despite our frantic, frustrated, stressed-out existence here on Planet Earth, there is great joy, peace, and power in Heaven.  So we pray today, "Our Father, Who is in Heaven, may Your Kingdom come -- Your will be done -- on earth as it is in Heaven!"

Monday, August 29, 2011

One in a Thousand

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Job 31:1-33:33

If there is a messenger for him, a mediator, one among a thousand, to show man His uprightness.  Job 33:23 (NKJV)

True friendship is a gift from God.  A faithful counsellor is beyond value.  Many a time, we find ourselves in a place where we need words of direction, comfort, and encouragement.  Job found himself in such a place.  A faithful messenger showed up in the person of Elihu.

Friendship is not simply AFFECTION or SIMILARITIES.  Friendship is more than CHEMISTRY.  True friendship reaches to the place of helping each other see the Hand of God in our lives.  We can only do this as we walk together in the circumstances and challenges of life.

We have a friend in Jesus.  The Holy Spirit is our Comforter.  He then uses brothers and sisters in the Lord to stand as exhorters and encouragers as we trace out the path God has laid before us.  Such a person is of great value.  They are "one in a thousand."

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Refined to Shine

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Job 23:1-27:23

But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. Job 23:10 (NKJV)

Testing is not designed by God for DESTRUCTION. It is designed for PROMOTION. In the Kingdom of God, everything either goes forward or it goes backward. It either improves or it erodes.

While all things OUTWARD are passing away, we are INWARDLY being transformed (improved) day by day. God knows the surpassing worth of your life. The indication of this is the PRICE He paid for you! In that you are GOLD, He has determined to show His glory though you.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Getting to Know God

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Job 20:1-22:30

Now acquaint yourself with Him and be at peace; therefore good will come to you...Yes, the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver. Job 22:21,25 (NKJV)

There is an important truth recorded in Isaiah 55:8 where it says that God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts as far as the heavens are above the earth. His ways are beyond our ways. We so often have a tendency to bring God down to our level. We want Him to conform to our ways, our plans, our reasoning.

But He calls us up to where He is. He tells us to get acquainted with Him and His ways.

Our God is awesome - majestic in power - great in wisdom - infinite in strength and justice. HE KNOWS BEST! So here is the great plan for your and my life. We are being elevated to know the One Who created this entire universe. He has already come to where you are; now He calls you to come up to where He is!

When we become acquainted with Him, we begin to find the answers to EVERYTHING. "Acqaint yourself with Him and be at peace!" Pray today as Moses did, "Show me your ways, O Lord." (Ex. 33:13) it is there that we will find true worth, true value. He will be your gold.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Job 8:1-11:20

Can a papyrus grow without a marsh? Can the reeds flourish without water? While it is green and not cut down, it withers before any other plant. So are the paths of all who forget God; and the hope of the hypocrite shall perish.  Job 8:11-13 (NKJV)

We are designed for fellowship with God.  It is like water to a plant.  As I write these words, we are in the heat of summer.  Beautiful plants in our flower beds at home are wilted badly due to the lack of adequate water.  You and I are the same way.  We are designed to flourish in the waters of continual fellowship with God.

So, how does your garden grow?  The very purpose of daily prayer and Bible study is nourishment and replenishment.  They are NOT the actions of religious duty.  We should enjoy it and benefit from it.  For this reason, our enemy fights it.

The disciplines of nourishment for your spirit work almost opposite to those for your physical body.  Physically, the less you eat or drink, the more you WANT to eat and drink.  You get hungry.  You get thirsty.  Spiritually, however, the less you "eat", the less you want to "eat".  Conversely, the more your pray, the more you WANT to pray.  So it is with Bible reading and study.  People who stay away from God's presence, find it harder and harder to even want to return.

The busy-ness of life can starve us.  We lose touch with our water source.  As a result, we wither and languish.  So, today, drink deeply from the waters of life.  Let your insides be restored.  It is the best -- the highest -- way to live.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Why Bad Things Happen

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Job 4:1-7:21

Behold, happy is the man who God corrects; therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.  Job 5:17 (NKJV)

Why do back things happen to good people?  This is the age-old question asked by believers and skeptics alike.  Job is the biblical character who embodies the plight of those who seemingly suffer for no apparent reason.  These are, by most standards, good and moral people upon whom disaster descends.

The counselors of Job seek to find explanations for these sufferings.  In most cases, their wisdom and advice seems to only offend and frustrate Job further.  But amidst their words can be found glimpses of divine truth. 

Suffering is never without a purpose.  This may sound brutal in some people's ears.  The devastations and destruction witnessed today in Somalia and Sudan cannot really be a backdrop for blessing, can they?  Evil is alive and well on Planet Earth.  But, God has not determined at this time to remove sin and suffering from our world.  Instead, He seeks to redeem.  This is harder to perceive when we consider the big picture of international disaster (tsunami, plague, genocide), but on a personal level, we might see more clearly.

It has been said that God never wastes a hurt.  He does not always prevent sin, but He ALWAYS provides a solution to sin and suffering.  He is a redeemer.  Therefore, we should always seek to see our circumstances through the eyes of a providential God. 

God's corrections are a sign of His love, not of His hate.  He does not want us to be robots, so He allows us a degree of self-determination.  Then He is with us when the inevitable correction and chastening come our way.  Scripture says that when He does this, He deals with us as a father would with the son He loves.

So, don't wilt under the loving corrective hand of God.  He deals with us as with sons.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Praying for Your Family

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Job 1:1-3:26

So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, 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. Job 1:5 (NKJV)

Job prayed for his family. He knew that in the course of daily and weekly activities, his sons may have done foolish and offensive things. Therefore, he regularly prayed for them asking that the Lord forgive and withhold judgment.

There is a special place of prayer that God grants us for our family members. This does not mean that they will not ultimately be responsible and answerable for their own actions. But, it does mean that you have a special place of authority to intercede in their behalf.

This is a godly duty granted to all parents for their children. So today, hold up the needs and the circumstances of your family. Touch heaven for your loved ones.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Finding Your Place in God's Great Story

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Esther 4:1-7:10

For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish.  Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?  Esther 4:14 (NKJV)

This is the most famous, most often quoted verse from this small, beautiful book of Esther.  "For such a time as this."  There are so many layers to what God is saying here. 

First, THE PLAN OF GOD WILL GO FORWARD.  God had determined that He would deliver the Jews.  This is an action of sovereign God Who brings to pass that which He desires. 

Second, Esther is offered the OPPORTUNITY to be a part of this great plan.  Esther has a choice.  God is going to accomplish His will.  Esther has the choice of joining God's plan or running from it.

Third, Esther must RECOGNIZE GOD'S HAND in her life.  Mordecai tells her to re-examine the very reason she lives where she lives.  Re-examine why her life has taken the course it has taken.  Esther is called to discover the HIDDEN HAND OF GOD at work in her life.

Fourth, Esther must display COURAGE.  Just because God is guiding your life, that doesn't mean there is no risk.  In verse 16 she says, "If I perish, I perish!"  We are not allowed to see the results of our actions before we take them.  We must move in pure faith trusting that God will meet us. 

Lastly, Esther's actions reach far BEYOND HERSELF.  She is certainly in personal danger.  But her entire people are in danger.  Her actions -- her own small actions -- count for a much larger picture.  I think that is what God says to us today, too.  "You think you're just affecting your own life, but really your actions affect an entire host of others." 

So today, realize that your life counts for a much larger story.  It is the story of God's working in our world -- in your world.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Battle Over Worship

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Esther 1:1-3:15

And all the king's servants who were within the king's gate bowed and paid homage to Haman, for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai would not bow or pay homage.  Esther 3:2 (NKJV)

There is always a battle over worship.  God reserves all true worship for Himself.  Scripture says that He is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5 and 34:14).  He wants our whole heart and will not share it with any other. 

The world and the devil seek to divide our heart by asking (or demanding) that we offer token allegiance from time to time.  "Just bow the knee for a few moments!"  "Just say a quick word and then you can go on your way."  We might think this is so insignificant that we can "fudge" for a moment and God would understand.  God would, in essence, look the other way.

Mordecai stands in the heritage of a long line of men and women who would not bow the knee.  He would not cave in under temporary, passing pressure.  He would not defile his heart.

The result, as we shall see in this wonderful book of Esther, is that he brought down a firestorm of persecution not only on himself but upon all the Jews in Persia.  This is also the setting for a powerful intervention by God. 

Scripture says that "the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." (II Chron. 16:9)  God is looking for those who are not ashamed or afraid to stand for Him.  Just like Mordecai, God will show Himself strong in behalf of such people.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An Enemy in the Courts

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Nehemiah 12:27-13:31

And I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God.  Nehemiah 13:7 (NKJV)

From time to time, we all need "housecleaning."  Either through ignorance, carelessness, or worse, we may allow foreign things to take up abode in our hearts and our homes.  These things may sound like they are friends to us, but they are really enemies.

In Nehemiah's day, Tobiah had been an enemy from Day One.  He had fought against the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem.  Inexplicably, after the wall was successfully built, the high priest, Eliashib, invited Tobiah to set up residence "in the courts of the house of God." 

There is only one thing you can do with a "Tobiah."  Throw him out!  God calls each of us to regularly do a good old fashioned housecleaning.  It's good for you.  Don't rest on yesterday's revival fires.  Every morning and every evening pray as David did:
     "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)

Isn't amazing how quickly "Tobiahs" can creep into our hearts.  May you have a clear heart and a clean house today!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Giving the Sense

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Nehemiah 7:23-9:21

So they read distinctly from the book of the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them understand the reading. Nehemiah 8:8 (NKJV)

There was a great celebration that day. The city of God was restored. The wall was built. The Word of God was once again central in the life of God's people. It was a time of great joy declaring that "the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh. 8:10).

It is important to know the details of how this unfolded. Ezra stood before the people to read the Scripture. But there was a problem. Due to 70 years of Babylonian captivity, the crowd was comprised of many who no longer understood the Hebrew language. Therefore, they needed interpreters.

From within the leaders came those who could "give the sense" and help them to understand what God was saying. This is foundational to all that we do in the Lord. It translates and interprets the Word of God into our world.

To this we are all called.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Two Themes of God's Present Work

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Nehemiah 3:15-5:13

Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon.  Nehemiah 4:17 (NKJV)

Nehemiah is a wonderful book about restoration.  God rebuilds the devastated, beaten down areas of our lives!  He gives us a new future.  First, there must be the re-establishing of vital, powerful, God-honoring WORSHIP.  Then, He leads us in the rebuilding of the walls of our lives.  He fills in the gaps.  He repairs the burnt out areas. 

There are two major themes that the Holy Spirit has been emphasizing and re-emphasizing to the Church in the past few decades.  Those two themes are CONSTRUCTION and WARFARE.  These two are at the core of what God wants for each of our lives.  He wants to build something great in you, your family, and your church.  This is more than just blessing you.  It means He will build you according to His good plans for your life.

But there is also an enemy who seeks to thwart and stop this restoration.  We have become aware of a realm of resistance that is hidden yet powerful.  Therefore, we must daily take up our weapons in spiritual warfare. 

So there you have it.  With one hand we build, while with the other hand we war.  Such is required for the advance of the Kingdom of God in our day.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Re-building the Walls

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Nehemiah 1:1-3:14

Then I said to them, "You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire.  Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach."  Nehemiah 2:17 (NKJV)

Many of the stories that we find in the Old Testament have great meaning to us beyond simple history.  Such it is with the story of Nehemiah. 

Ezra had overseen the rebuilding of Solomon's Temple.  About fifteen years later, Nehemiah arrives to lead in building a wall around the city of Jerusalem.  The Temple stand for worship and relationship with God.  The walls stand for the way we live our life in the world.  Here's the important truth we need to grasp:  It is very possible to have a good vertical relationship with God while in your personal life "the walls are broken down."  You know and love God, but you are constantly under attack and being beaten up by the devil

The message of the book of Nehemiah is that we need to have walls of strength built in our personal lives so that we can live to the glory of God.  When our "walls" are broken down, we are vulnerable and suffer continual set-backs.  When the "walls" are built, we can live in discipline, protection, and hope.

In Nehemiah's day, the walls were built with brick and mortar.  In our day, they are built with forgiveness, healing, truth, integrity, and all the host of Christian virtues.  May you take ground today!  May your defenses be steadfast!  May you grow in grace and truth.  Such is a blessed life.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Return to Your God

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Ezra 10:1-44

The Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, "You have transgressed and have taken pagan wives, adding to the guilt of Israel.  Now therefore, make confession to the Lord God of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives."  Ezra 10:10-11 (NKJV)

Israel had returned from Babylonian captivity.  After 70 years of exile, they had come home.  Their original problem had been idolatry.  They had gone after foreign gods until God finally poured out judgment.  Now they were already falling back into the same patterns.  By intermarrying with pagan wives, they were opening themselves up to compromise in their very households.

This is symbolic of a problem we encounter today.  We are called to evangelize the world, but unfortunately too often the world evangelizes us.  Marriage is an earthly symbol of our spiritual relationship with God.  We are to be totally in love with Him.  Unfortunately, too often we have divided hearts.  We love "pagan wives."  We get joined to the world in such a way that it challenges our love relationship with Jesus.

God has one answer for that: REPENT.  If a man or woman were cheating on their earthly spouse, what is the best immediate advice you could give them?  That's simple.  QUIT!!!  Break the bad linkage.  Don't negotiate; don't think about it; don't try to figure it out.  Just QUIT IT. 

That may seem harsh to some people.  But it is the only answer to spiritual adultery.  RETURN TO YOUR FIRST LOVE.  That is what Ezra called for Israel to do in his day, and that is what God calls for us to do today.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Delivery of God's Word

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Ezra 7:1-8:20

One the first day of the first month he began his journey from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him.  For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.  Ezra 7:9-10 (NKJV)

Ezra made a four month journey to deliver the Word of God.  Even though he was traveling back to his original home, his journey is similar to the Great Commission.  He went to make disciples.  He went carrying precious cargo for the purpose of raising up a new generation of God-seekers/God-followers.

God was with him in the journey.  It says here that "the good hand of God was upon him."  Jesus said the same thing: "...and lo, I am with you always" (Matt. 28:20).  He will be with us as we step out of our comfort zones and into His mission.  It may be across an ocean or across the street.  This is His heart -- for those who have not heard or been taught.

Ezra "prepared his heart."  This is important.  Scripture says that "the preparations of the heart belong to man" (Prov. 16:1).  It is our responsibility to prepare our heart for God's service.  We do this by keeping it clean and clear -- in communion with God -- free and alive. 

Then Ezra did three things: the NKJV says he prepared his heart to "seek" the Law of God.  Another translation says "STUDY."  Ezra was a continual studier of the Word.  He did not rely on yesterday's teaching.  He always sought "fresh bread."  Then, he DID it.  Ezra did not study the Bible simply to be smart or impressive.  He wanted to do what he learned.  This leads to the third thing he did: he TAUGHT.  Ezra did not consider the goal of his life to be himself.  He wanted others to benefit.  He became a conduit for blessing. 

God calls us all to do as Ezra did.  Get into God's Word, then live it, then share it.  God Himself has promised that His hand will be upon us as we do this.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Day of Fulfillment

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Ezra 3:1-4:23

But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the father's houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard afar off. Ezra 3:12-13 (NKJV)

What a scene! After much labor, much struggle, and overcoming much discouragement, the foundation was laid. For young and old, this brought forth a flood of emotions. Old men began to weep. The young shouted for joy. This was truly a "God moment". The long-awaited promise had come into reality.

Such moments are part of our faith journey in God. We work. We wait. We hope. We endure. The worst thing we can do is quit - give up - cease. God has promised that if we continue with Him a day is coming in which our joy will be full even to overflow. God's promises never fail. They simply may be long in coming.

ENDURE. CONTINUE. Your eyes will see the goodness of God in the land of the living.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Greatest Endeavor

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
Ezra 1:1-2:70

Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house Jerusalem which is in Judah. Ezra 1:2 (NKJV)

Restoration is an amazing, awe-inspiring event. It is also extremely rare. Few people really deny themselves for the sake of a greater cause. Paul once said "all seek their own, and not the things that are of Christ Jesus." (Phil. 2:21) The vast majority of humanity is devoted to one end: self.

There is a greater, eternal cause: the building of a house for our God. This house is eternal. In the days of Cyrus it was located in Jerusalem. Today it is located in the shared hearts of all those who follow Jesus.

There is no greater cause. It is worth all our efforts. May a house, an abode be built on earth in which Almighty God can show Himself mighty. There is nothing greater.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Source of Our Strength

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Chronicles 35:1-36:23

There had been no Passover kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet; and none of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as Josiah kept... II Chronicles 35:18 (NKJV)

Josiah was one of the greatest kings in Israel's history. He restored the worship of God. He brought back the primacy of God's Word. However, it was too little too late. Within a few years God's judgment would fall on Judah and they would be carried off to Babylonian captivity for 70 years.

The writer of Chronicles makes an amazing observation. In all the years since the days of Samuel, there had been no proper celebration of the Passover! No wonder Israel had steadily grown weaker and weaker.

Let's give present day application. The celebration of Passover points to the central significance of the Cross of Christ. In the Old Testament, they looked FORWARD. In the New Testament, we look BACK. Failure to "celebrate" the Passover means failure to love and revel in the Cross. A Cross-less Christianity is destined to die. A life focused on what God has done for us in Christ will always be strong.

Let's celebrate the Passover today! Not the formal ceremonial ritual, but instead the inward adoration of our awesome Savior - crucified, buried, and risen again.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

National and Personal Revival

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Chronicles 33:14-34:33

Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul...And he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin take a stand. II Chronicles 34:31-32 (NKJV)

National revival must be accompanied by personal revival. Josiah was one of the greatest kings of Judah. He "stood in his place" and made covenant with God. He did this both for himself and for his nation.

He reformed the outward structures but he also made a personal commitment to follow the Lord "with all his heart and all his soul". Then he led all the people to take the same step.

I am impressed with the phrase "in his place". Where is your place? Where do you take a stand? God has granted each one of us a particular "place" in which we live and move and make decisions. We sometimes refer to a persons "place" as their entire life situation.

The beginning of all true reform and all true progress is to stand "in your place" and make covenant with Almighty God. This will change your world. When we all do this, we will have national revival!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

When Hard Questions Come

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Chronicles 8:11-10:19

Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she cameto Jerusalem to test Solomon with hard questions...and when she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart. II Chronicles 9:1 (NKJV)

Our job is to make Jesus famous. May the whole world know of His greatness, His grandeur, His majesty. We way to write across the skies: Our God is good!

When we do this, we can expect that the world will come calling. Like the queen of Sheba, the world comes full of questions. Our job is not just to tell the good news but also to meet the world with real answers to hard questions. This is part of the territory.

We cannot dodge the tough issues of life. It is in these challenging areas that the truth of God's Word shines brightest. When the world asks honest questions we must respond with real answers.

Some people are afraid of tough questions, but we need never be afraid. With prayer in our hearts and the Word of God in our hands, we can rise to all challenges.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Glory in the House

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Chronicles 4:1-6:11

Indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, ... that the house, the house of the Lord was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God. II Chronicles 5:13-14 (NKJV)

The presence of God was so thick you could feel it! It was a cloud -- a shining brilliance filling the air. God Himself came down and inhabited His house. This is surely one of the high points of biblical history.

I must admit. I am envious. I would so love to have stood in that old temple as the glory of God came down. But, I am reminded: we are heirs of an even greater reality - a greater presence. We receive that which is only promised in the Old Testament. THAT IS EXCITING!

How did it happen then? If we can see how it came about then, perhaps we can also unlock how the glory can be released today. The answer is plain. They spoke and worshipped AS ONE. Nothing can stop a united people. When we walk in agreement and our hearts are aimed at heaven, the power of God is released. May this be a reality in our day!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Man of Rest

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Chronicles 22:1-23:32

Behold, a son shall be born to you, who shall be a man of rest... I Chronicles 22:9 (NKJV)

God's plans always are fulfilled out of peace and rest. A busied and frenzied spirit cannot carry out God's best plans. Solomon's name means "peace". It is under his rule that the house of God is built.

Throughout Scripture, peace and true rest are at the center of God's will. When we believe God, we come to a place of rest. When we receive His righteousness, peace is imparted.

This does not mean "inactivity". Remember, God's house is BUILT in this rest.

Are you walking in God's rest today?

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Sin of Counting

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Chronicles 19:1-21:30

Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.  I Chronicles 21:1 (NKJV)

The last half of David's life (after the adultery with Bathsheba) was characterized by difficulty.  The last major mis-step of David had to do with numbering Israel.  I have heard preachers and teachers use this passage to say that we should never count the number of people attending our services or participating in our ministries.  They say that David got into trouble for numbering the people, and we will get into trouble with God if we do it, too.

I think this is a misreading of Scripture.  Don't get me wrong.  "Counting" can get into carnal yearning for success or, even worse, betterment in competition with other churches.  I don't think God is pleased with such carnal evaluations.

It is a godly thing to desire to know how many people we are touching -- how many people have met the Lord -- how many people are being ministered to.  It is equivalent to knowing how many sheep are in your flock.  If you don't know how many, how do you know if some are missing -- perhaps getting picked off at the edge of the flock.

So, what was David's sin here?  The parallel passage in II Samuel 24:1 gives us some insight.  There is says David was moved to number Judah and Israel.  Remember, during David's day, all Israel was one nation.  It was only long after David was gone that Judah and Israel split apart.  It is likely that David already knew of growing dissent between these two factions that could ultimately erupt into civil war.  By numbering Israel, David was making an assessment about which side would win in a war.

This is equivalent to figuring out how many people are on the two sides of a church split.  We do this to start lining up how we can manipulate or survive such an eventuality.  This happens all the time in church politics.  AND GOD HATES IT.

God does not want His people to fight.  He wants them to love each other.  David's sin was in that he was sizing up a "church split."  God says, "Don't get into pitting brother against brother."  Seek ways to bring peace instead of figuring out how to survive the battle.  This is the heart of God.  This is also why God dealt so severely with David.  We are called to be peacemakers.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Do It - Don't Do It

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Chronicles 16:37-18:17

Then Nathan said to David, "Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you." But it happened that night that the word of God came to Nathan, saying, "Go and tell My servant David, 'Thus says the Lord: "You shall not build Me a house to dwell in.'" I Chronicles 17:2-4 (NKJV)

Nathan spoke quickly and told David to move ahead with plans to build God a house. We should be careful to distinguish between the word of man and the word of God. Nathan was certainly a great man of God, but in these verses he clearly got ahead of God. He spoke out of his own heart.

Later that night as he sought God, he learned that God's plan was NOT what he had told David. Frankly, this shows the greatness of the man of God, Nathan. He was not so stubborn or prideful that he could not hear God correct him.

Imagine how he felt as he returned to tell David the true word of God! At times we speak too quickly. We miss the timing. When this happens, face up to it and get back on track. Don't let pride keep you from finding God's best.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When We Find We Can't Do It

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Chronicles 12:19-14:17

"David was afraid of God that day, saying, 'How can I bring the ark of God to me?'"  I Chronicles 13:12 (NKJV)

God has called us to do the impossible.  He has called us to carry His awesome presence even though we are incredibly frail and faulty human beings.  This task will bring us to the end of ourselves.  That's what happened to David.

He knew that the ark of the covenant should be returned to its rightful place in the Holy Place.  He knew that far too long it had rested in alien territory.  He knew what God wanted.  Unfortunately, he set out initially in his own wisdom -- in his own ingenuity -- in his own plans.  The result was that a man died!  How can such a holy cause bring such tragic results???

In his despair, David cried out telling God how it was impossible for him to fulfill this task.  This is the place to which God wants all of us to come -- the end of ourselves.  In despair, we cry out to God, "I can't do this!!!"  It is at this point that true wisdom is ours.

God showed David the right way to deliver His presence.  The result was an awesome celebration.  So, I say to you today:  "DON'T DESPAIR."  Even though your abilities may be few.  Even though your failures may be many in your own eyes.  God will carry you to your destiny. 

It is all a part of His plan.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Overcoming the Enemy in Your Midst

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Chronicles 11:1-12:18

"But the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, 'You shall not come in here!'  Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David)."  I Chronicles 11:5 (NKJV)

Right in the middle of God's territory was a stronghold of the enemy.  It was called Jebus.  The inhabitants of this Philistine garrison had one thing to say to the newly crowned King David: "YOU CAN'T COME HERE!" 

That's the wrong thing to say to a warrior.  David certainly had his flaws, but one thing he DID NOT do was live with compromise.  He could not countenance the presence of enemy defiance in the midst of the promised land.

He set a reward for the first man to attack the Jebusites.  He declared war.  He proclaimed "open season" on all who defied God's rule.  As a result, this long-standing enemy stronghold came down.  He renamed this city, and it has become one of the most important in world history:  JERUSALEM.

Remember this: your Jerusalem is first of all a place of battle.  It must be won!  It will not simply wait for you to walk into it.  It is controlled by an enemy who defies you to try.  In order to win your "city" you must declare war.  You must have a certain kind of violence.  This is what Jesus spoke of when He said, "The kingdom advances with violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matt. 11:12).

So, are you violent today, or are you beat down?  The Spirit of the Lord says to you, "Rise up.  Do powerful things today."  God will fight for you as you take your Jerusalem.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Saul's Story

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Chronicles 9:1-10:14

"So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance." I Chronicles 10:13 (NKJV)

King Saul did three things wrong. For these three, God removed him from the throne. His first mistake was PARTIAL OBEDIENCE. When God told him to thoroughly wipe out the enemies of Israel, he only partially did the job. Secondly, he usurped the office of priest. Samuel took too long in coming to offer sacrifice, and, under pressure, Saul took it on himself to do this priestly function. Lastly, Saul consulted a medium, the witch of Endor.

We can take some positive lessons from Saul's failings. First, BE SURE TO DO ALL THAT GOD SAYS. Ninety percent is not good enough. Go all the way! Second, FUNCTION IN YOUR CALLING. This will often require that you wait on God's timing. Lastly, SEEK ONLY THE LORD for your guidance. Our God is a jealous God.

Saul is a story of unfulfilled potential. At key points, he compromised. We should take stories like his and renew our commitment to walk the high road of the Kingdom of God.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Service of Song

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Chronicles 5:18-6:81

"Now these are the men whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the Lord, after the ark came to rest." I Chronicles 6:31 (NKJV)

Interesting phrase in this verse: "the service of song." it brings up a question: what is the purpose of music and song in the life of the congregation? Far too often, music is viewed as performance or entertainment. We rate the worship based on song selection and personal preferences.

One of David's great strengths was his elevation of the VERTICAL dimension in the life of Israel. He appointed music and song ministers FOR SERVICE upward to God and outward to the people. Their work served as a vital and foundational element in the advancing of God's purposes.

The anointed ministry of music and song is absolutely vital to the effective work of God. Through Spirit-inspired worship, the atmosphere is changed. We enter a higher realm wherein the power of God is freely released.

May we believe and receive this higher dimension in our personal lives and in the church!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Chronicles 4:5-5:17

"Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, 'Because I bore him in pain.'"  I Chronicles 4:9 (NKJV)

Several years ago, Bruce Wilkinson wrote and published a small book based on this verse and the one following.  The book was entitled The Prayer of Jabez.  It sold millions of copies and became an instant devotional classic.  The heart of the book is the four requests made by Jabez in verse 10: 1) bless me, 2) enlarge my territory, 3) may God's hand be with me, and 4) keep me from evil.  It is a great little book.

As I read the book, I noted that little is made of the "pain" aspect surrounding Jabez.  The four requests are fantastic, but they come in a context -- the context of Jabez's life. 

He mother named him Jabez which means "He will cause pain."  What a name!  This is probably not a reference to the actual pains of childbirth, but instead to the circumstances surrounding his birth.  Usually, the father named the child in the Old Testament, so we can assume that the father was absent, perhaps dead.  This little passage appears in the midst of lengthy genealogy, but, unlike all other names, it is dropped in with no reference to the father's name. 

Here is a principle: HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE.  People who have been hurt, tend to inflict pain on others.  This is a tactic of our enemy, Satan.  He seeks to injure someone, and then spread that injury to others.  This little boy named Jabez had some very painful things to happen around him when he was very young.

But, that's not the whole story.  He grew to become an HONORABLE man.  When he prayed, his last request was that he NOT PASS ON HIS PAIN TO OTHERS.  He wanted to curse to stop with him!  In my opinion, this is far greater than the other four requests he made.  It took more courage -- more faith.

May we be BLESSING GIVERS and CURSE STOPPERS.  This is an incredible call on every follower of Jesus Christ. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Freedom and Captivity.

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Kings23:31-25:30

"Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive the rest of the people who remained in the city and thedefctors who had deserted to the king of Babylon, with the rest of the multitude." II Kings25:11 (NKJV)

Thus ended a long story in God's workings with Judah. They were carried off to captivity in BBylon. God had pled with them for decades on end to return to Him. Yet they had persisted in their idolatry and rebellion.

Several truths come to mind as we consider this story.

1. God's judgments are true. He will not wait forever. Today it is popular to speak of the patience and mercy of God. But we should not forget that His mercy is tempered with truth; His patience will not last forever. He WILL bring judgment.

2. The sad truth of far too many believers is that they follow PARTIALLY. The end result of their path is not freedom but slavery. God wants His people free. But, that freedom must be to follow Him fully, or it will result in greater slavery.

3. If God's people do not allow Him to rule them, He will allow the world to take charge. Babylon is not God's highest plan. He wants us to be "a kingdom of priests." But if we will not come under His sovereign rule, He will turn us over to others to discipline us. Far better to willingly yield our hearts now.

We were made for freedom. We must remember that true freedom is only in Christ.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Kings 17:1-18:12

"He (Hezekiah) removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan." II Kings 18:4 (NKJV)

As Israel travelled for forty years through the wilderness, God did incredible miracles of provision, deliverance, and healing. In Numbers 21, we read of a time when "fiery serpents" came among the people. Deliverance from the bite of the serpent only came when Moses fashioned a snake of brass and lifted it on a pole. All who looked on the bronze serpent were healed. It was a landmark miracle pointing to Jesus on the Cross. Jesus Himself underscored the significance of this miracle (John 3:14).

Nearly 500 years later, the bronze serpent was still around. There were no longer any miracles surrounding this artifact - only memories of what had happened. But an added dimension had surfaced. Israel now BURNED INCENSE to it. They worshipped the memory of a miracle.

This is a strange danger for all who follow Almighty God. We can begin to worship not just Who God is but what He has done. This is a subtle form of idolatry.

Here's the lesson: WE CANNOT LIVE ON YESTERDAY'S MIRACLES. Great as they are and glad as we are that they happened, we must have FRESH BREAD.

The Israelites called it Nehushtan, meaning "bronze thing." Do you have a Nehushtan? Are you living in the past?  Let's thank God for what He has done. But let us reach forth for greater things in our day. Remember, He is not "I WAS". He is "I AM".

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Getting the Foundation Right

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Kings 15:1-16:20

"...he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin."  II Kings 15:9,18,24,28 (NKJV)

The Northern Kingdom (which we call Israel as compared to Judah in the south) was in trouble from Day One.  When Jeroboam rebelled against Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, he immediately set up an alternative worship system.  This new system was no longer based in Jerusalem but instead in Bethel and Dan (I Kings 12:29).

Foundations are extremely important.  If a house is built on the wrong thing, it will never be right until the correction is made.  This applies to every area of life.  This is why REPENTANCE is so important.

Repentance means that we return to right foundation.  We get back to the way God wants things to be.  Unfortunately, many people try to build their lives on a mixture.  Sure enough, they love Jesus.  But they mix in a few compromises.  They never deal with some very important foundational matters.  They are totally devoted in MOST of their life, but there are these one or two areas that never get touched, never get ministered to.

As a result, even though a certain degree of God's blessing rests on them, they always come up short in some way.  They are like many of the good kings of Israel.  They do really great things, but a little phrase always follows: "he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam."  Another way of saying this would be: he/she did really fantastic things, but he never quite dealt with that lying thing... or he never really dealt with the anger thing...or he never let God handle the secret compromises.

Repentance does not mean that YOU deal with these things.  It means you LET GOD deal with these things.  You may not have the power -- but God does!  Repentance is allowing God to clean the house up.  Let's do that today.  May we rise to new levels of blessing as we allow God to correct all the bad foundations.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You've Gotta Want It!

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Kings 13:1-14:29

"Then he (Elisha) said, 'Take the arrows'; so he took them.  And he said to the king of Israel, 'Strike the ground'; so he struck three times, and stopped.  And the man of God was angry with him, and said, 'You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.'"  II Kings 13:18-19 (NKJV)

We are at war.  The spiritual battle that surrounds us is bigger than we usually realize.  Warfare can bring out the best or the worst in us.  It is in war that heroism shines.  It is also in war that cowardice is revealed.  The challenges of warfare flush out our true character.

In order to win in battle, we must make some very basic decisions.  DO WE REALLY WANT TO WIN.  If so, then we pull out all the stops, we declare war, and we do not let up until victory is ours.

This is the lesson from the passage today. Elisha commanded the king of Israel to strike the ground with arrows.  King Joash tentatively struck the ground only three times.  He hesitated.  Elisha declared to him that if he had been decisive and struck the ground repeatedly, then he would have gotten complete victory over his enemies.  Instead, he would only attain partial success. 

This is one of the besetting problems of the church today.  We attain on a half victory.  The reason for our lack of success is not that we don't have talent or resources.  It is because we lack follow-through.  DO NOT LET UP UNTIL THE VICTORY IS COMPLETE!  Declare war!  Do not hesitate!  Do not faint!  The victory belongs to those who carry the calling all the way to the finish line.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Selling Out the Sacred Things

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Kings 10:32-12:21

"And Jehoash king of Judah took all the sacred things that his fathers, Jehoshaphat and Jehoram and Ahaziah, kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own sacred things, and all the gold found in the treasuries of the house of the Lord and in the king's house, and sent them to Hazael king of Syria.  Then he went away from Jerusalem."  II Kings 12:18 (NKJV)

Fear can cause people to do foolish things.  Fear can push a person to give up the fight and cave in to compromise.  Fear can lead a person directly into bondage.

Jehoash was one of the better kings that ruled Judah.  But, in his latter days, a fierce enemy arose in the person of Hazael, king of Syria.  Hazael conquered the lands surrounding Judah and proceeded to advance on Jerusalem.  Out of fear, Jehoash sold all of "the sacred things" to buy his freedom. 

These "sacred things" are symbolic of those vows we have made to the Lord.  They represent those areas of dedication we have risen to as we worship and follow our King.  But, we should remember a very important principle:  EVERY VOW WILL BE TESTED; EVERY COMMITMENT WILL BE CHALLENGED.

Fear threatens us with ruin.  Fear intimidates us with disaster.  Fear pushes us into self-preservation.  Just as surely as a man or woman sets themselves to serve the Lord, there will be a challenge to that commitment.  The devil will threaten you with ruin.  He will bargain with you to allow you to survive.

In these moments, we are tempted to sell "the sacred things."  After all, we think, better to survive another day, than to die under our enemies threats.

So, I speak to you today:  DO NOT BACK AWAY FROM YOUR SACRED VOWS.  Do not allow the enemy to threaten you into a "sell-out."  God will uphold you.  You will survive.  You will even prevail.  That is God's best plan for you!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Facing Jezebel

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Kings 9:14-10:31

"Then he said, 'Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord.' So they had him ride in his chariot." II Kings 10:16 (NKJV)

Jehu was a dynamic and courageous leader. For a very short period of time, he banished Baal worship from Israel. He withstood evil kings. He rallied God's people. Most importantly, he brought down the evil actions and influence of Jezebel.

Jezebel was a woman who subverted the godly rule of Israel. She used cunning and treachery to steal and to kill. She was INTIMIDATION personified.

Each of us must face down the Jezebel spirit. It seeks to manipulate you into bondage. It works behind the scenes to exert pressure toward compromise.

The only answer to Jezebel is pure COURAGE. You can not out maneuver the Jezebel spirit. You can only face it and challenge it straight up. This is exactly what Jedu did.

What seeks to intimidate you? What seeks to bully you into bondage. Face it with courage and faith. Jezebel will come down!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Open Our Eyes

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Kings 6:1-7:20

"So he answered, 'Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' And Elisha prayed and said, 'Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.' Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." II Kings 6:16-17 (NKJV)

There is an invisible world around us. It is the spiritual world in which God operates by the power of the Holy Spirit and his angelic hosts. It is also the realm in which the spiritual battle against Satan and his demonic forces takes place.

Our present visible world is largely a reflection of this hidden spiritual realm. This is why prayer and righteousness are such powerful forces. It is also why sin and ungodliness can rise up with such devastating impact almost instantly.

Elisha and his servant met this hidden realm in the most dramatic fashion. They were cornered, with no way of escape. It seemed that EVERYTHING was lined up against them. Then Elisha prayed a pray, and the entire situation shifted.

Their eyes were opened to the forces of righteousness surrounding them. As a result, the flow of the conflict turned in their direction.

My God open your eyes today to see spiritual reality. May you see clearly what God wants. He will lead you in victory. This is the breakthrough that God wants! We can begin now to praise Him for that which is coming our way.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Total Identification

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Kings 4:18-5:27

"And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm.  He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes."  II Kings 4:34-35 (NKJV)

The Shunammite woman's son had died of an appartent cerebral hemorrhage.  Displaying incredible faith, the woman ran to the man of God seeking healing for her son.  When Elijah came to the child, he did an amazing thing.  This is a demonstration of how God wants to heal.

Elijah stretched himself out on the child in TOTAL IDENTIFICATION -- mouth to mouth, eye to eye, hand to hand.  This is a picture of what Jesus has done for us.  Initially, Elijah had sent his servant Gahazi with his staff.  He had commanded Gahazi to place the staff on the face of the child.  When this had not brought about the healing, Elijah, the old man, finally walked into the room.

Jesus does not just send a token of His presence.  He does not give us techniques or formulas.  HE COMES HIMSELF.

When He comes, He totally identifies with our condition.  He breathes into us.  This is how He totally heals us!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Only Limitations on God

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Kings 3:1-4:17

"Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, 'Bring me another vessel.' And he said to her. "There is not another vessel.' So the oil ceased."  II Kings 4:6 (NKJV)

God's river is abundant.  There is no limit to what CAN do or what He WANTS to do.  If there is any limitation, it will be on our part.

The widow in this passage was commanded to prepare for a miracle.  God wanted to provide for her need, but He did it in an interesting way.  He could well have rained down shekels on her house.  He could have moved on the heart of a friend to give her money.  He could have intervened with the creditor and had the debt cancelled.  Instead, He chose to multiply the small resources in the widow's house. 

She had a small jar of oil.  She was commanded to gather vessels AS IF she had a vast supply.  Then, interestingly enough, she was to simply pour the small jar of oil into the larger vessels.  As she did this, a miracle took place.

We are called to POUR OUT the small amount that we possess -- nothing more, nothing less.  The only limitation we will find will be in the area of PREPARATION.  Are you preparing for a little bit, or are you preparing for a vast harvest?

This widow's need was met.  The supply that God gave her flowed out of His heart of love for her.  All she was called to do was OBEY and BELIEVE.  May God do a similar work in us today.  Go out and find many vessels that can receive the oil of God's blessing.  He will fill every one.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

No Matter What

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Kings 1:1-2:25

"And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, 'Ask! What may I do for you?'  Elisha said, 'Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.'"  II Kings 2:9 (NKJV)

The call to discipleship is a call to follow NO MATTER WHAT.  A disciple is one who has made a commitment and, having set his hand to the plow, does not look back (Luke 9:62).  Such a commitment has become rare in our day.  Many people make bargains with God in which they give only "so much", and God must then give them "so much." 

Each step of discipleship will call for you to lay your life down.  This is the path that Elisha had chosen.  He made a commitment to follow Elijah.  Despite three attempts to get Elisha to turn back, he remained resolved saying, "I will not leave you!" (vss. 2,4,6).  HE WOULD NOT QUIT!

Finally, Elijah, in exasperation, asked Elisha, "What is it you are after, young man?"  Elisha's answer was that he wanted ANOINTING.  He wanted FULL ANOINTING.  He wanted a double portion!

Here's the question for us today.  How much of God do we want?  There are ample opportunities to turn aside and stop.  God will even bless you if you do.  But, what are you really after?  If you want more of God, you must continue to pursue.  You must follow NO MATTER WHAT.  This is the calling and definition of a true disciple.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Need for Good Leadership

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Kings 22:1-53

"Then he (Micaiah the prophet) said to him (Ahad, king of Israel), 'I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd.  And the Lord said, These have no master. Let each return to his house in peace.'"  I Kings 22:17 (NKJV)

Ahab went to the prophet seeking the word of the Lord concerning military actions he was about to undertake.  He wanted to know what the Lord had to say.  This is a very wise thing to do, but we should be prepared to hear from God, no matter what He should say.

Ahab was one of the worst leaders in the history of Israel.  It is no surprise that the prophet brought him a negative word from the Lord.  Here's what God said:

Israel was LEADERLESS.  They were scattered.  They were live sheep without a shepherd, scattered on the many hills of Israel.  This was hard to hear, but it was true.  There had been a failure of leadership in Israel.  Therefore, they were not ready to go to battle. 

We always want to hear positive, encouraging words from God.  But are we ready to hear correction or rebuke.  We are anxious to here Him say, "Go forward."  But are we willing to hear Him say, "Not now."

What happens when there is a failure of leadership.  Scripture says that each one returned to his own house in peace.  What this means is that when people do not rally around a cause, they slack off and go home.  They fall back into personal interests. 

May a powerful zealous people rise up in our day that will be united to serve the King!  May our hands be cast in decisive action to advance Christ's kingdom.  May our hearts be yielded to the leadership of the Holy Spirit! 

Israel failed in their day.  May we succeed in ours.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Still Small Voice

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Kings 19:1-21

"and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'" I Kings 19:12-13 (NKJV)

After some of our highest victories can come some our lowest moments. Such was the case for Elijah. There are few more dramatic victories than the one at Mt. Carmel. In a clear face-off between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, Elijah showed the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be the ONE TRUE GOD. But this victory was followed closely but a deep depression. Some have called it Elijah's "cave experience".

He wanted to die! He felt that he was all alone and there was no future. He hid in the dark recesses of a cave. But it was there that God met him and renewed his calling.

Self-doubt is a terrible thing. It makes the greatest warriors want to quit. It undermines confidence to the point that we doubt everything. This was Elijah's condition.

God did not overwhelm him with wind, fire, or earthquake. God's highest plan is not to YELL at us. God spoke softly - yet with awesome authority.

Scripture says that when Elijah heard the still, small voice, he "hid is face in his mantle". The mantle symbolizes your original calling, your original mandate, your special assignment from God. He will always call us to return to that original calling. It is still true. It is still operating. No matter how up or down your life may be, there is a primary purpose for which God placed you on earth.

Don't stay in the cave. Hear God speak to you today. "I yet have work for you to do."