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The Goodness And The Severity Of God

June 27

"Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
being bound in affliction and iron
because they rebelled against the words of God
and despised the counsel of the Most High:
Therefore he brought down their heart with labor;
they fell down, and there was none to help."
Psalm 107:10-12

When people rebel against the Word of God, they will dwell in darkness. The Word of God is light, and those who reject it cannot help but be in darkness. Many who reject God's Word live in anger, bound in chains of bitterness.

"And this is the condemnation,
that the light has come into the world,
and men loved darkness rather than light,
because their deeds were evil.
For everyone practicing evil hates the light
and does not come to the light,
LEST HIS DEEDS SHOULD BE EXPOSED."
John 3:19-20

The Word of God pierces the heart and sheds light on the evil within man. Because of that, many reject the Word because they can't stand it exposing their sin, so they cling to their sin and want nothing to do with the light that exposes it. That leads to despair. They sit in darkness and affliction, rejecting the Word and remaining in the shadow of death.

Some will finally come to the conclusion that they just can't stay there, the darkness is too dark. When they have been brought low, they have a choice: stay as they are and die, or surrender to the Word of God and find salvation, and herein is hope.

"Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them out of their distresses.
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
and broke their chains in pieces."
Psalm 107:13-14

The crux of the matter is the battle raging in man to maintain his own will. He will accept nearly anything rather than surrender his will. The pride of man is the most difficult thing in life to let go of, so he remains in darkness. He does not, he can not, he WILL NOT allow the light to expose his sin.

Oh if only they could know how surrender brings peace. The barrier to peace is sin, the barrier to peace is rebellion, the barrier to peace is self-will. But should a man be brought so low that he has no way out, and should that man choose surrender, then the darkness lifts because the light banishes it. In the light of surrender he will find mercy, and the light will break the chains in pieces.

"Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God..."
Romans 10:22

You can't have one without the other.


Lest Leanness Come To Your Soul

June 26

"And he gave them their request,
but sent leanness into their soul."
Psalm106:15

God sent mighty judgments upon the Egyptians who held the Israelites as slaves. And one remarkable thing the Israelites saw was that none of those judgments fell upon them, only upon the Egyptians. Their preservation during the horrific judgments was nothing short of miraculous. Finally Pharoah let them leave, but no sooner had they left but he changed his mind and sent his armies after them to destroy them. With their backs to the sea and the Egyptian armies in hot pursuit, God parted the waters of the sea and the children of Israel went across on DRY LAND. Then when the armies followed, the waters went back and the entire Egyptian army drowned.

Can you imagine witnessing these things? How astounding! How awesome! God supernaturally protected his people and they saw signs and wonders previously unknown to man.

How then could they so soon forget these things and complain to God as they journeyed through the wilderness?

It is in our fallen human nature to complain. It is our fallen human nature to never be satisfied. When a person has walked a long time with the Lord and has seen the awesome things he has done in his/her life, how then can he complain when his demands aren't met? What an insult to God!

The walk with God is the battle of wills, but it shouldn't be so. We complain, we rebel, we demand  ...and sometimes the Lord lets us learn a lesson by giving in to our demand, and we end up with leanness of soul. We've become a spoiled brat. We stomp our foot and cross our arms and refuse to accept that we cannot have our way! And frightfully, he may go ahead and let us have our way in order to teach us that it will never bring the satisfaction we long for, but will instead let us experience what it is to have leanness of soul.

To walk with God is to put one's hand into the hand of his Father, his God, his all, and to trust completely that he is in charge of everything that happens in our lives. As a wise Father, he desires our TOTAL trust. When we complain, we are demonstrating the spoiled attitude of the child who thinks ill of the Father who has been so good to him.

When the Lord says "no," let it go at that. He knows what he is doing. He has a plan for the life of his son or daughter, and he crafts all the elements in life to bring to pass the success of that plan. The believer needs to come to the place where he thoroughly trusts that all that his Father does in his life is in his best interest. If there is a problem in your life, it is there in your best interest. Don't demand that the problem go away, but rather ask the Lord to show you what you can learn in the circumstance. Don't stomp your foot or fling yourself on the bed in a temper tantrum. The worst thing that can happen is that the Lord will relent and allow you to have what you're demanding even though it is not his plan for your life, so that you'll eventually come to realize that it is empty and does not satisfy.

What a joy to the Father when a son or daughter has a heart of willingness to surrender all to him and to cooperate with him in the working out of his plan for his or her life. What a joy to the Father when the child loves him, when the child brings praise and worship to him, when the child delights in him, when the child totally trusts him in all and every circumstance in life. This is maturity, but few ever reach it because human nature is such that we react to circumstances rather than react in total trust in our Father.

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus..."
Philippians 2:5

Jesus went through some horrendous things, yet he did it all with the right attitude. He surrendered to the Cross because he trusted the Father. He surrendered to the Cross because it was through that atonement that multitudes will be saved. He surrendered to the Father's plan and the fruits of that will last for all eternity.

Therefore:

"...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,
WHO FOR THE JOY THAT WAS SET BEFORE HIM
ENDURED THE CROSS, despising the shame,
and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-2

For the joy that is set before you...

God's plan for your life is in your best interest, for your best eternity. Surrender therefore to all it takes to get you there, with a heart filled with praise and thanksgiving for that joy which is set before you.

Put All Supernatural Occurrences To Intense Scrutiny

June 25

"If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams,
and he gives you a sign or a wonder,
and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you
saying, ‘Let us go after other gods which you have not known
and let us serve them,’
you shall not listen to the words of that prophet
or that dreamer of dreams..."
Deuteronomy 13:1-3

And the chapter goes on to say that the penalty for false prophecy is death. How much clearer can God make the point that we are to RUN from false supernatural experiences?

People run to and fro looking for a message from a prophet, anything, as long as it makes one feel good. False prophets usually give nice-sounding words that "tickle the ears" and in this passage the Lord is solemnly warning his people NOT to run after such.

Friends, most of what's out there is false. If God wants to speak to you through a true prophet, then HE brings about the circumstance and then he CONFIRMS the word given so that you will know without a doubt that the word is from Him. It never happens on your initiative, a true word from God always comes unexpectedly from the Lord. This has happened only a few times in all my life, not many, and that's how it should be.

One might say, "well he's not enticing us to go after other gods." So I ask, which kingdom do you suppose a false prophet gives a word from? There are only two sources of supernatural power, the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Does a word coming to pass indicate that the prophecy was from God? Satan is well able to give a word and then MAKE it come to pass.

Satan will speak through a medium or a channeler and can speak to you things with details that no one could have known. HE DOES IT ALL THE TIME.  Were you called by a nickname when you were five years old? Do you think Satan doesn't know that? Therefore if a medium mentions the nickname, that is NOT proof that the word he/she gives is from God. It is a SNARE to you, to deceive you, and to entice you to further delve into "New Age" practices and occult things -to bring terrible judgment upon you.

This is absolutely forbidden by God and the judgment for frequenting mediums and any other "New Age" or occult venue is deadly. So sinful is this, that the judgment on it goes down to the third or fourth generation of those who do such things. The judgment is often mental illness or premature death. When you see a family in which more than one member has a mental illness, or more than one member meets an untimely death, consider the possibility of occult involvement even to the third or fourth generation back. How can God make it any clearer, you shall NOT go there. It is an abomination. A deadly one.

Anyone who is involved with the supernatural which is not from God commits "spiritual adultery."

King Saul, the first king of Israel, was desperate to know what the outcome would be in an upcoming war, so he visited a medium in a town called Endor. FOR THAT SIN, HE LOST HIS LIFE.

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

And not only did Saul die for this, but his sons also died.

"So Saul, his three sons, his armor-bearer,
and all his men died together that same day."
1 Samuel 31:6

Folks, STAY AWAY from anything occult or "New Age." Scrutinize carefully any new practices being brought into the church, because Satan delights in bringing in false supernatural things especially to churches. Anything "emergent" is not of God. If you hear the words "contemplative," or "mystical" -RUN.

In any circumstance where something supernatural takes place, put it under intense scrutiny because most of what is out there is false. Every legitimate thing that God has, Satan counterfeits. Watch out for the counterfeits, they come in nice packages.

Does God interact in supernatural ways with his people? Of course he does. But he will always be the one initiating, and he will always confirm his Word. He will never leave you wondering if that was God or not. Do not feel guilty for intensely scrutinizing any supernatural occurrence, the stakes are too high and the warnings too dire.




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Amazing How He Has Orchestrated It All!

June 24

"O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your creatures—
this great and wide sea,
in which are innumerable teeming things,
living things both small and great."
Psalm 104:24-25

It is awesome to meditate on the wonders of God's creation. Truly has he made them all in wisdom. I love to look at the animals and observe the "instinct" God has placed in each of them. HOW does the salmon know to swim upstream to the place where it was spawned? HOW does the squirrel know to forage and store up food for the winter? Indeed, HOW does the squirrel know that there will BE a winter? HOW does the bear know to spend the winter in hibernation, without eating or drinking? HOW do the birds know to migrate south for the winter? HOW do they know how to fly in formation? What is the attraction of male to female and female to male which perpetuates the species? Where does that come from?  HOW are dogs attracted to dogs and not to cats? Why not to cats? Indeed, what IS instinct? Who Can explain it?

vs 10-13
"He sends the springs into the valleys,
they flow among the hills;
they give drink to every beast of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
By them the birds of the heavens have their home;
they sing among the branches.
He waters the hills from his upper chambers.
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of your works!"

How can one explain the ecology of the earth? What a wonder to observe how the Lord has provided springs of water to satisfy the earth and to bring forth food from the ground! What a wonder to observe how it all works together!

vs 14:
"He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
and vegetation for the service of man,
that he may bring forth food from the earth..."

When you consider how the world was made with everything provided for every man and beast, how can one not bring praise to the God of Wonders who has orchestrated it all! Indeed, if one takes the time to consider all these things, how cannot the heart swell in adoration to the One who created it!

vs 33:
"I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being."

Oh halleluyah, praise the Lord God forever!

God Himself Obtains The Victory For Us In Our Battles

June 23

"Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me, bless his holy Name!"
Psalm 103:1

Among his benefits is the fact that those who are his live a life totally different from those who are in the world. To those who are in the world: you're on your own. To those who are the Lord's, it will be an adventure. You'll find yourself out on the battlefield, and you'll find that the enemies are "giants."

"For if you carefully keep all these commandments
which I command you to do,
to love the Lord your God,
to walk in all his ways, and to hold fast to him,
then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you,
and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves."
Deuteronomy 11:22-23

And this will always be the case, we will go up against giants, against enemies greater and mightier than we are. Israel was constantly facing giants. That's a picture of what our walk with the Lord will always be, what we are confronted with will be far greater and mightier than we are. BUT - we are guaranteed the victory over them only IF we carefully keep all that the Lord commands us to do.

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
and he delights in his way."
Psalm 37:23

The steps of the believer are ordained by God, and he will never lead him to a place without providing what is needed to succeed in that place. We are never, EVER, left on our own. This will be a call to faith, because the challenge will always be greater than us, we will constantly need to be in the will of God knowing that that is our everlasting protection.

"No man shall be able to stand against you;
the Lord your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you
upon all the land where you tread, just as he has said to you."
Deuteronomy 11:25

But the victory necessitates that one be in good standing with the Lord, that there remains no rebellion in his life, that he is totally obedient to the Captain of the Hosts. What soldier on the battlefield would dare refuse the command of the General? If that's so obvious in the natural, how much more necessary is it in the spiritual warfare we are in? Obedience is crucial!

King David was in such a conflict when he stood against the giant Goliath. One part of this story that I love follows the picture of that arrogant Goliath taunting the Israelites. Forty days, morning and night, he'd face the Israelites and taunt them with insults, and they were terrified. Then along came David. He was the "man after God's own heart," and he did not fear the giant. Listen to the confidence in his voice:

"For who is this uncircumcised Philistine,
that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
1 Samuel 17:26

David went and stood before the giant and said to him:

vs 35:
“You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin.
But I come to you in the Name of the Lord of hosts,
the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied."

David took a stone and toppled that giant, and then - and I love this  - he killed the giant with the giant's own sword. Sort of like Haman hanging on the gallows he built for Mordecai. (Esther 7:10)

The Lord looks for Davids and Joshuas to carry out his will. Those who live in unbelief won't dare to venture into that minefield. But those who know their Lord will proceed because they know that it is the Lord who sent them, therefore the Lord will obtain the victory. Do not hang back because of fear, otherwise you'll never know the savor of the victory and the awe in which you will stand before God with a heart filled with praise.

The Earth Is Going To Be Dissolved

June 22

"Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you will endure;
yes, they will all grow old like a garment;
like a cloak you will change them,
and they will be changed."
Psalm 102:25-26

Everything in this world is going to be dissolved. We are told this several times in God's Word:

"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind."
Isaiah 65:17

"Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth,
for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away."
Revelation 21:1

Nothing of this world is going to remain, it's all going to be dissolved. The first time, the earth was flooded by water in the days of Noah. The next time it will be by fire. It's easy to imagine, because nuclear bombs in the possession of evil men could alone bring this about today. Whether this is the way it's going to come to an end, or whether the Lord himself is going to bring it to an end, the bottom line is that nothing from this world is going to last.

 "...the earth standing out of water and in the water,
by which the world that then existed perished,
being flooded with water.
But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved
by the same Word, are reserved for fire
until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."
2 Peter 3:7

There are great works of art worth hundreds of thousands of dollars; great sculptures, great monuments and cathedrals, the great wonders of the world - it's all going to come to an end.

Therefore, if it's all going to be dissolved, of what worth is it? God places no value on great works of art. He's not impressed with their value being reckoned in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's all going to come to an end.

vs 11-12:
"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved,
what manner of persons ought you to be
in all holy conversation and Godliness,
looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God,
wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved,
and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?"

Therefore, let us not be fools in putting value on things that have no real value. Let us instead seek the Lord, because he is forever and those who belong to him are forever. The earth will be dissolved. Heaven and hell will remain, but the things of the earth will be no more, in fact the Scripture above says the former things won't even be remembered.

But the end of the earth as we know it is not the end of existence. God is going to create a new earth wherein righteousness dwells. To this we aspire, to live forever in a world of peace and joy. How important is it then, to seek things that will have value in the world to come?

So, one might ask, what of today will have value in the world to come?

One's relationship, or lack thereof, with Almighty God. And it has to start with being born into the Kingdom of God. Jesus said one MUST be born again in order to enter the Kingdom of God.

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh,
and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Do not marvel that I said to you,
‘You must be born again.’"
Luke 3:6-7

Once a person is born again, what will endure for all eternity is the fruit emanating from his relationship with the Lord. When one is born again, he enters into a whole new life. Jesus has taken the penalty for the man's sins, and now the man belongs to him. He embarks on a life totally different from the life he lived before, and it's a walk of faith. All his growth in the Lord and the fruits from the works God leads him to do, all will accrue treasure in heaven. What could possibly be more important then, than finding out how to enter, and then how to walk by faith? What could be more important than one's relationship with Jesus Christ, and the joyful worship we bring to him? What could be more important than leading others to Christ, that they too might have eternal life? There is NOTHING more important.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy
and where thieves break in and steal;
but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust destroys
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-21

Where is your treasure?

Turn from what has no value. Find out what will last forever.

The Humble Get The Best -While The Greatest Fall

June 21

"And you shall remember that the Lord your God
led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness,
to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart,
whether you would keep his commandments or not."
Deuteronomy 8:2

"...to HUMBLE you."

The sin of pride was the sin that caused the downfall of Satan. He had it all. He was the most beautiful, wise, and powerful angel in heaven. After awhile, the accolades got to him and he felt invincible. He began to think on how he might rival God himself. He managed to persuade a third of the angels in heaven to follow him in a revolt against God. He lost, of course, and was dethroned and expelled from heaven.

Then, when God created Adam, Satan was jealous. God had done something without Satan's valuable input, and God made great promises to the human race, which absolutely enraged Satan. God gave Adam what Satan so craved, he gave Adam authority over the earth. In his hatred, Satan knew that the one way he could oppose God was to cause Adam to sin and lose his standing with God just as he did, and also his authority over the earth. Satan succeeded in causing Adam's rebellion which resulted in corrupting the human race, and from his new standpoint of claiming authority over man, Satan has proceeded down through the ages to corrupt and pervert and oppose all that God loves, and all that God does with man.

If you understand this thoroughly, it will become obvious why God so hates pride. Pride was the cause of Satan's fall, and pride is the greatest tool in Satan's hands which he uses to bring men down. Therefore, when a person is born again into the Kingdom of God and begins his journey with the Lord, God will always be watching for pitfalls of pride because the danger in pride is so great. It's the thing that can cause a man to be lost.

vs 3:
"So he humbled you, allowed you to hunger,
and fed you with manna which you did not know
nor did your fathers know,
that he might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone,
but man lives by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord."

Throughout the journey of the believer, man will come again and again to the end of his resources, only to find the provision of God that comes out of the blue. After awhile, the man will realize that the most important thing he can do in his walk is to "live by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord." In other words, when he comes to a problem insurmountable, his heart must be trained to bring the problem to God because God will speak a Word that will bring the solution.

This is the way a believer has to walk with God. The Lord gave this mighty example for us in order to make us know that his ways are trustworthy and there's no limit to his power. We can know for a surety that in all the stories we journey through, God will provide the solution for the times when there are no solutions. This is the walk of faith -- not expecting to control everything in our own resources and through own smarts, but instead to not resist being humbled because in our humility we will see the power of God.

vs 4:
“Your garments did not wear out on you,
nor did your foot swell these forty years."

This means that in all of their journey, God provided for them in a supernatural way. Didn't Jesus say:

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’
or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
for after all these things the Gentiles seek.
For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you."
Matthew 6:31-33

Always pay attention when the Lord says "if," or "but." This passage in Matthew, this Word proceeding from the mouth of the Lord, states that your life must not be centered around worrying about material needs; no, God is saying that IF you spend your life seeking FIRST the Kingdom of God, and that's what each believer is called to do, THEN all your material needs will be met as surely as they were provided for the Jews in the forty years of their journey through the wilderness. When they had no water, God provided water flowing out of a rock! And thus he will do for us. Where there is no way, he will make a way. If you are seeking FIRST his Kingdom and his righteousness, your provision is guaranteed. I have walked with him for many years, through some very, very rough and very, very scary times, but I have never lacked a thing. And on many, VERY many occasions, the provision came in totally unexpected and surprising ways, which is oftentimes God's way of strengthening us in the faith. It's a principle you can trust, because it's Almighty God who guarantees it.

"Jesus said to her, 'Did I not say to you that if you would believe
you would see the glory of God?'”
John 11:40


We Enter Through Much Tribulation

June 20

"We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
Acts 14:22

Why is that so?

It's so because we have an enemy.

You don't hear a lot of preaching about Satan, also called the devil. Some, even among the clergy, don't even believe he exists. That's been one of Satan's greatest deceptions, making people believe he doesn't exist. That way, people will of course blame God for the horrendous things Satan does.

The Bible has MUCH to say about Satan, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, so one cannot believe the Word of God and disbelieve God's Words about Satan. You can't "allegorize" him, he's not a symbol, he's not a force, he's a created being, a fallen member of the angelic host who tried to usurp God's place in heaven and was cast out of heaven permanently. He now lives in hatred for God and tries to corrupt and destroy all that God loves.

Jesus spoke of Satan to unbelievers:

"You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will do.
He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth,
because there is no truth in him.
When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources,
for HE IS A LIAR AND THE FATHER OF IT."
John 8:44

He is a liar. And that is his chief method of operation - lies. The very first Biblical record of Satan occurs in Genesis chapter 3 which shows Satan approaching Eve saying to her, "Has God said...?" creating doubt in her, and then he tells her that what God has said is not true. (Genesis 3:1-4) And he continues to say to mankind today, "Yeah right, did God really say.....? Well it isn't true!"

He has never changed his chief way of corrupting human beings. To this day he continues to suggest to the mind of man that what God has said is not true. And this is how he brings them down.

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy."
John 10:10

And that's the TRUE explanation for the destruction in the world. God doesn't murder, steal, kill, or destroy. That's Satan's record. So if you've been blaming God all this time for whatever destruction has happened in your life, you've been blaming the wrong person.

So why DOES God allow it?

You can tell a child not to touch a stove, but to the child those are only words. He will not believe your words until he has touched that stove. Likewise, growing up in the knowledge of the truth takes a lifetime of learning. God uses the evils in the world to mature us and teach us to walk by faith in his Word. Though he has given us his Word, we oftentimes don't believe it until we touch the stove.

What lies have you believed? What part of God's Word do you not believe? Do you think he might be wrong in some area? If you've believed that, you've been deceived. God is not wrong, God is the essence of truth.

God has already pronounced Satan's doom. Satan's efforts will come to an end. He has a window of time and that's all. But for those who have overcome him, they will have an eternity of joy and peace ahead.

So when a person faces a painful situation brought on by sin and by its originator Satan, what is that person to do? He is to take it immediately to God and open up God's Word, the Bible which he has given us. Through prayer and seeking direction from God, the Lord will speak to that person through his Word. It was his Word which was violated, and it is his Word which will lead to victory.

Again, Jesus said:
"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy..."

BUT, he added:

"I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."

And there you have it. Although attempts will be made against you to bring you to destruction, Jesus has come to bring to you LIFE, and that -- more abundantly. It depends on whom you listen to -- the liar who comes to destroy you, or the one who has said:

"I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life."
John 14:6

Have You Believed Lies About God?

June 19

"Oh, that they had such a heart in them
that they would fear me and always keep all my commandments,
that it might be well with them and with their children forever!"
Deuteronomy 5:29

The image of God that many hold is one of sternness and judgment. And surely, he can be that. But sternness and judgment IS NOT HIS WILL.

The Lord yearns for the heart of man. He desires that man follow his commands "THAT IT MIGHT BE WELL WITH THEM."

Where does one get the image of God as a harsh and cruel judge? Surely he is portrayed that way in parts of the Bible, but it's not because he wants us to know him that way. If you had a child prone to running out into the street in heavy traffic, you would first explain to your child how dangerous that is, and your hope would be that your child believe you and never run out into the street. Why? Because you take pleasure in restricting your child? Of course not, it's a command that comes from the depths of your love for your child. But if your child refuses you and takes it as a command he just does not want to obey, and then runs out into the street, you'll have to take more drastic measures to save his life. Whatever it takes, you'll do it. You'll do anything to teach him that he must not run out into the street.

The Lord conveys this very sentiment in this passage in Deuteronomy. God doesn't have "control issues." He doesn't give us commands because he delights in controlling people. God is love. He loves us and he watches over us jealously. He has told us HOW to walk "that it might be well" with us.

God wants our trust. Children forever ask their parents "why...?"  But there are things you can't explain to a young child. If you tell your child not to take candy from a stranger, the child will ask "WHY?" But it's difficult, if not impossible, to convince a child that someone offering them something good can actually be doing that with evil intent. Children are innocent, and if a stranger comes up to them with a gentle smile offering them something good, the trusting child is easy prey for that wolf in sheep's clothing. So the parent simply says "don't do it," because the innocent, trusting, child isn't going to understand the "why."

God did not place us on this earth and then leave us saying, "see you at the end, hope you make it." No, God gave us a book explaining everything to us. He reveals to us who he is, who we are, what our purpose is, and how to get there. For the parts where we fail and incur guilt for disobedience, he sent his Son to bear the judgment for us. How can anyone think he is a terrible Father who only wants to smack us when we do wrong? That is SO FAR from the truth. He has told us he is love. He is a wise Father who wants us to obey him because he wants our best ...that it might be well us.

If you had a stern or unloving father, if your father was rigid and hateful, then that's the image you may have of God. A very wrong image. If you never received love from your father, it's going to be very hard for you to believe that God loves you, especially if your life has consisted of bad things, trauma, loss, and rejection, then you're going to blame God for all that. But you're blaming the wrong person. God has very, very clearly showed us in his Word that there is an enemy bent on your destruction. He said this about him:

"Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil
walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."
1 Peter 5:8

Seeking whom he "MAY" devour. What does that mean?

It means Satan is a legal expert. He is constantly watching for disobedience because when a person accepts a lie from Satan, the rebellion in that acceptance opens the door to evil. He tells you God is mean and unfair in commanding you not to run out into the street. If he can get you to believe that, then he'll suggest that you have the right to freedom of choice, so why not just follow your desire and go ahead and run out into the street. Then when you get hit by a car, you blame God. THAT is how Satan works.

Apply your heart to understanding God's Word because it is his revelation for you, that it might be well with you "AND with your children." Never, EVER believe the lie of Satan who presents an incorrect picture of God for you to believe. Satan is THE FATHER OF LIES. Jesus said of him:

"When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources,
for he is a liar and the father of it."
John 8:44

God is LOVE. He loves YOU. Believe him!

Discover Your Calling

June 18

"I will set nothing wicked before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me."
Psalm 101:3

Life is all about choices. The choices you make will affect both your life and your entire eternity. If a man truly understood this, he would spend his time making choices that will increase his status in the life to come. Oh if only one could be given a glimpse of the day he stands before the Lord. On that day he will understand, on that day he will see the result of his choices. Hopefully he will hear:

"Well done, good and faithful servant;
you were faithful over a few things,
I will make you ruler over many things.
Enter into the joy of your Lord."
Matthew 25:21

This is not about salvation, that issue is settled for the believer. No, on that day will be the review of what each one has done with the talents, gifts, and abilities given to him. God has made us unique, each one. There is not another like you in all the universe. You are as unique as your fingerprints. As unique as your DNA. And he has fitted you with the talents, abilities, gifts, and even the personality appropriate for you to be able to play your part, your unique part, in the walk through this life. Your talents are needed. The expression of your gifts is needed. No one else on earth can do what you alone are fitted to do.

You must never compare yourself with someone else because you are not called to do what anyone else is doing. Do not envy another his gifts or calling, that's a dead end road. Bring YOUR gifts and talents and present yourself before the Lord asking him to show you the role you, and you alone, are to play in this lifetime.

A short testimony: There was a man who had a similar calling to mine. One day I heard him speak to a Bible study class, and he told many stories of how the Lord used him to bring others to salvation. In the stories he told, it was obvious to me that his winsome personality drew people to him. He just had such a way with people. My approach was far different, so I thought to myself, "if only I could be like him, then I'd succeed." I went home that night excited and went into my room, closing the door behind me. I went before the Lord, thankful for the glimpse of HOW to approach people and convinced that if only I could be like this man I would be far more able to win souls to Christ. But I had no sooner gotten the first word out of my mouth, "Father," when the Lord interrupted me sternly and said to me, "Shall the clay say to the potter, 'why have you made me thus?!'"

I stood there absolutely dumbfounded, my mouth open, shocked, and I said to the Lord, "you mean you WANT me the way I am???" I could hardly believe it. I had thought I was asking for a good thing, but the Lord was not pleased and he let me know it the very moment I opened my mouth to speak.

I've thought of this many times through the years, and I've realized the uniqueness of each one's call. To ask to be something else is to insult God by suggesting that he made a mistake when he made you. I felt the brunt of his anger that day, and from that day forward I have never again asked him to make me like someone else, I pray instead for grace to carry out as perfectly as possible the unique part I play. And he has since opened doors to me that I never would have dreamed possible. Far more, in fact, than those of that man I had envied.

You can see the same results if you wholly dedicate yourself and your life to the Lord and seek from him grace to rise to the call and carry it out with all your heart. No call is insignificant, and regardless what you think of yourself, your gifts and talents can be put to work to create treasure in heaven for all eternity.

Again, it's all about choices. Just as you could spend your life acquiring treasure in heaven, so also you can spend your life avoiding your call if you so choose. It's your choice. One can come to the end of his life and say, "I did it my way" ...and then be shown the results of that, or one can come to the end of his life and say, "I did it HIS way," and be shown an entirely different result. The Lord will never violate the gift of free will which he gives to everyone. If you want to choose YOUR way, then you are free to walk that way. He won't violate your free choice. Just remember, the fruit of what you choose will affect your eternity forever.

"And everyone who has this hope in Him
purifies himself, just as He is pure."
1 John 3:3

Choose the good, choose the right, choose the pure, follow after Christ. Why would anyone choose any different? Think about it ....WHY?



Daily Devotional Weekly Summary

Week Ending June 17

June 11
. Religious Rituals Are A Stench In God's Nostrils
http://along-emaus-road-blog.blogspot.com/2017/06/religious-rituals-are-stench-in-gods.html

June 12
. Teach Me How To Successfully Finish Boot Camp
http://along-emaus-road-blog.blogspot.com/2017/06/teach-me-how-to-successfully-finish.html

June 13
. The Secret Place
http://along-emaus-road-blog.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-secret-place.html

June 14
. What To Do In The Worst Of Circumstances
http://along-emaus-road-blog.blogspot.com/2017/06/what-to-do-in-worst-of-circumstances.html

June 15
. On Judging
http://along-emaus-road-blog.blogspot.com/2017/06/on-judging.html

June 16
. Is Your Idea Of God Too Small?
http://along-emaus-road-blog.blogspot.com/2017/06/is-your-idea-of-god-too-small.html

June 17
. Happiness Is Not Pleasure And Pleasure Is Not Happiness
http://along-emaus-road-blog.blogspot.com/2017/06/happiness-is-not-pleasure-and-pleasure.html

Happiness Is Not Pleasure And Pleasure Is Not Happiness

June 17

"You who love the Lord, hate evil!"
Psalm 97:10

It might be a surprise to some that the word "hate" is something we are commanded to do. It's very important though, to understand HOW we are to hate. Simply put, we are to hate evil. Many do not understand how evil evil is. Evil is the opposite of all that God is. Evil is sin and we are to hate, to abhor, to flee from sin -because sin is a destroyer. That bears repeating: sin is a destroyer. When it manages to ensnare a person, its object is to destroy that person. Some people toy with evil. They think dabbling in it "a little" is not so bad. Oh how they do not understand. There is nothing in any sin however "small," that has any other object than to destroy the human being.

"But each one is tempted when he is DRAWN away
by his own desires and ENTICED.
Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin,
and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death."
James 1:15

There is no happiness in sin. Sin provides pleasure by its very nature - otherwise no one would sin, would they? Satan presents sin to a person as pleasure, and very few can resist pleasure - until they understand that that pleasure is fleeting, and it can never bring true happiness. Happiness is not pleasure, and pleasure is not happiness.

When a person is overcome with sin, the lack of happiness in it will slowly dawn on him, and he may begin to realize he has been duped. In the state of destruction, that's when a person may call upon the Lord. When a man realizes he's been destroyed, then perhaps he will turn to the God of salvation. And one of the first things he will learn from God is that the fear of the Lord is what will lead him to the happiness he sought in the wrong places.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding;
for by me your days will be multiplied,
and years of life will be added to you.
Proverbs 9:10-11

And he will learn that there is only one thing in life that he is to hate -and that is to hate evil.

"The fear of the Lord is to hate evil;"
Proverbs 8:13

Once he understands that, the Lord will begin transforming him and in that transformation he will come into a true happiness he never knew before. One who has been deep into evil and comes to experience the joy of goodness, his heart will swell in praise to God for the transformation within which brings "joy unspeakable and full of glory."

He who has been forgiven much -loves much!

Is Your Idea Of God Too Small?

June 16

"His lightnings light the world; the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
The heavens declare his righteousness,
and all the peoples see his glory."
Psalm 97:4-6

Sometimes we have an inadequate picture of the Lord in our minds. To many he's just there. Period. No more. They know he is just there.

Oh that mankind would be given to know the majesty of God, the God before whom the mountains melt like wax. He breathes out galaxies and keeps all together in its right place. The Lord is far greater than our minds imagine.

"...what may be known of God is manifest in them,
for God has shown it to them.
For since the creation of the world
his invisible attributes are clearly seen,
being understood by the things that are made,
even his eternal power and Godhead,
so that they are without excuse..."
Romans 1:19-20

When you look at the stars at night, think of the vastness of them, for each one is a sun like our sun. God is the creator all and the creation declares his glory. From the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly, to the hugeness of the universe, it is all his handiwork.

You started out as a single cell too small for the human eye to see; imagine the miracle of bringing that cell to become a human being with sight and hearing and taste, and awareness, one who can speak and think and sing. Oh bring to him your praise and thanksgiving, stand in awe before him, for great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.

Here is a presentation that demonstrates God's greatness and his glory. Watch it and then watch it again, and marvel at the greatness and wonder of God.



On Judging

June 15

"Then I commanded your judges at that time, saying,
‘Hear the cases between your brethren,
and judge righteously between a man and his brother
or the stranger who is with him.
You shall not show partiality in judgment;
you shall hear the small as well as the great;
you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence...'"
Deuteronomy 1:16-17

Think about it. Do we judge righteously without partiality? Are we influenced by what we know about the person? If the person is a lowly sinner that we have been acquainted with, how does that influence the way we look at him/her? When the person is famous, doesn't that affect how we look at him? When it's someone in the news, an actor or actress, a member of the political party other than the one we ascribe to, doesn't that affect our judgment? What if it's someone we love? Does that make us partial to him/her? We see by the Word of God here, that it's very difficult to pass righteous judgment because of the sentiments we hold toward the person involved.

Some will say we are not to judge, but that must be qualified. No, we are not to judge a person because we all have skewed opinions and sentiments toward people. But we are commanded to test issues, and that necessitates judging.

“Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”
1Thess. 5:21-22

We are commanded to correct and to rebuke.

"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage...
2 Timothy 4:2

John the Baptist rebuked Herod the king on an issue of immorality. He called the Pharisees and Sadducees "a brood of vipers."Today, he would be accused of being unloving, unkind, intolerant, with no respect for leaders, a hater, and most of all un-Christian. Obviously the command not to judge must be qualified.

In cases of discerning whether something is good or evil, and in cases of seeing an obvious evil that needs to be addressed, we are COMMANDED to judge. We can always know when something is good or evil, because the Word of God determines that. When we see something that needs correcting or rebuke we do so, but then we leave the people involved for the Lord to deal with.  We don't determine the outcome, we don't pronounce a curse or a punishment on the person, we judge the issue and leave the person to God.

When the Lord comes, he will bring righteous judgment. Scripture tells us he will rule with a rod of iron. He will not be partial, he will not be influenced in any way, he will not consider the status of any person. He will not be bribed or blackmailed. He will not suggest a plea bargain. He will not grant early release for good behavior. His judgment will be totally righteous, impartial, and true.

"He shall judge between many peoples,
and rebuke strong nations afar off;"
Micah 4:3

And this is the way he judges YOU. There will be no self-justification, no blaming someone else for your sin, no partiality because you're "mostly a good person;" his judgment is totally impartial and righteous.

So we see that when people chant, "don't judge," they reveal that they don't know the Word of God. "Correct and rebuke," he said. That's a form of judging that we're not only allowed to do, but commanded to do.


What To Do In The Worst Of Circumstances

June 14

"Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to him with psalms."
Psalm 95:1-2

How many of the people of the Lord actually sing to him and bring to him thanksgiving? We're too busy. Our attention is on the cares in our world. We know God is there, we know all comes from him, but we can't seem to make time for him, nor do we have time to speak to him other than when we need him. We're glad we can go to church on Sunday because there we will worship him and fulfill that "obligation," but how can one relegate worship to our God to one day a week?

Brothers and sisters, we have to make time. There is nothing in our lives more important than praise and thanksgiving to the One who provides for us and sustains us. When you're driving in your car, you can be singing. When you're upon you bed, you can be singing.

Praise and thanksgiving are two of the most powerful tools we have in our walk with the Lord. The great apostle Paul was never too busy to bring his love and worship to the Lord. Let's look at an incident in his life in which he gave a response that almost no human being would even think to give. He and Silas lay bloodied and bound in a dungeon. What could be worse than that?

"And when they had laid many stripes on them,
they threw them into prison,
commanding the jailer to keep them securely.
Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison
and fastened their feet in the stocks."
Acts 16:23-24

It's almost beyond belief what their response to these terrible straights was:

vs 25:
"But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
and the prisoners were listening to them."

You scratch your head and wonder "How on earth...???" Singing hymns to God??? While laying black and blue, bloodied and bound in a dungeon?

Prisons in those days were not like the prisons of today. There was no tv to watch, no three meals a day, this was a dungeon. It's hard to imagine how on earth these men could enter into praise and thanksgiving while in such pain and in such a terrible place. It's SO contrary to human nature. When we're hurt, when we're unjustly accused, unjustly punished, our reaction is a deep and overwhelming anger, a brooding over the injustice of it all. But Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God!!!

What did they know that we don't know? What kind of depth did they hold in their relationship to God? What could possibly motivate them to be singing while in the worst possible circumstances?

But watch how a surrendered heart singing praise to God in terrible circumstances evokes a response from heaven:

vs 26:
"Suddenly there was a great earthquake,
so that the foundations of the prison were shaken,
and immediately all the doors were opened
and everyone’s chains were loosed."

WOW! ...Oh WOW! Put yourself there. Can you imagine seeing that?!   They must have been stunned!

A short testimony: one night when I was in a terrible situation, I was laying in bed late at night. It was totally dark because my bedroom was on the backside of the house and there wasn't even a light pole anywhere out back, it was totally dark. In that darkness, I raised my arms in praise to God and suddenly I saw light coming out of my arms. I was absolutely astonished as I realized this was a response from heaven.

If you're in a terrible situation, refuse the demands of your human nature and turn your heart instead to praising God for all that he is, and for all that he does. Bring to him thanksgiving for all you can think of. Sing hymns to him. And then watch for the response from heaven.

The Secret Place

June 13

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High,
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."
Psalm 91:1

This is a favorite psalm for many believers. It promises protection for those who abide in the secret place of the Lord. But it's speaking only to those who know the Lord intimately, because those whose trust is wholly in the Lord will run to him FIRST in any trial, in any threat, in any fear that may come upon them, and there in the secret place of the Most High they will find refuge. The reason this is called the secret place, is that only those who truly know the Lord and belong to him, will know how to enter that secret place. A stranger will not even know about it, let alone enter it.

The MANY versus the FEW:

"Enter by the narrow gate;
for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction,
and there are MANY who go in by it.
Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life,
and there are FEW who find it."
Matthew 7:13-14

The few who find it will find in the Lord that secret place where one may hide from danger, the secret place that will be a refuge for him, because he will learn to place all his trust in the Lord. Nothing can touch him without going through his Lord's hand. The Lord said the way is difficult, but those who abide in Him will never go through anything alone, the very presence of the Lord will be with them in every circumstance in life. They will find comfort there, they will receive direction there, they will find refuge in Him.

"I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in him I will trust.'”
Psalm 91:2

They will trust him because they know him. Once they have EXPERIENCED the presence of the Lord and his care for them, their trust will become firmly established in him.

vs 4:
"He shall cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you shall take refuge;"

People who don't want to take the Word of God literally miss out on many of the precious truths revealed in that secret place. This psalm contains an example of this. "How can God have feathers?" they exclaim.

This is a picture of the mercy seat which sits in the chamber called the Holy of Holies, deep into the Temple where only the high priest may enter. The ark of the covenant is in there, which is a chest containing the ten commandments. But on top of that chest sits the mercy seat, the mercy one finds in the Lord. Then there was placed above it two angels made of gold, one on each side of the chest, their wings, or their feathers, covering over the mercy seat and touching each other.

This is the secret place, the place of mercy, under the shadow of the wings, under the shadow of the feathers. There was a huge veil at the door of that innermost chamber, preventing anyone but the high priest from entering. But when Jesus was crucified, that veil was torn in two, signifying that those covered with the Blood of Jesus may now enter that inner chamber and have direct access to God himself, and from that day on this redeemed person will be in the secret place of the Most High, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty.

Many are called, but few accept that call. For those who do, all the provision of God becomes theirs as they are invited into the secret place of the Lord, to abide there with him, in his presence, forever.

Teach Me How To Successfully Finish Boot Camp

June 12

"The days of our lives are seventy years;
and if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
yet their boast is only labor and sorrow,
for it is soon cut off, and we fly away."
Psalm 90:10

On a yardstick, our lives on this earth take up 1/16th of an inch, and then we "fly away." The rest is in eternity. How important, then, to find out here -what it's all about. Life is so short. Then eternity.

We spend our lives here in boot camp. The status of a believer's  life in eternity depends on how well he finished boot camp. It's not a matter of salvation, that's an entirely different issue. I'm talking here of those who are saved. One's status in eternity will depend on the degree to which he grew in the Lord and fulfilled God's plan for his life.

It's crucial because there are things that can only be learned in this present life. In heaven, you can't learn unconditional love because there's no one there to frustrate you or cause you pain. You can only learn unconditional love by achieving it here, in the settings of stress and frustration. Growing in the ability to love unconditionally is a great, VERY great virtue in God's eyes. Another example is how we learned to walk by faith. In heaven all is provided freely, there's no unseen circumstance calling for the walk of faith. Only here in our limited perspective can we learn to walk in God's Word when things seem bleak. It is in this life that we learn and grow, only here can one acquire "treasure in heaven."

Picture yourself on the day you stand before the Lord in heaven. There you will see what "could have been" had you used your days on earth wisely. If you think that you might have regret, now is the time to change that. Now is the time to get with the program.

"So teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
Psalm 90:12

Pray with me:
Father, the cares of this world force me to place my concentration on them. I'm so involved in the things I have to do -that I have very little time for you. I pray you Father, get the message across to me that it is of the utmost importance that I place my concentration on the things I need to learn as I walk through boot camp. Help me to bring YOU into all that I do, all that I care about, every circumstance in life, so that through them I be not consumed with anxieties and cares, but instead that I might learn what it is you would have me learn in each of the stories of my life. Help me be mindful that every circumstance of my life has been ordained by you, and has been ordained with PURPOSE. Father, I don't want to have REGRET when I stand before you and see what "could have been." Help me, oh help me Lord to embrace every circumstance that comes my way and use each one to grow in them with a totally surrendered heart. Help me to be willing for you to change me. Help me to cooperate with you in your plan for my life. Instead of fighting my circumstances, help me to allow you to grow me up in the faith. I only have one shot at this Father, please help me to make it a good one. In Jesus's name I pray.

Religious Rituals Are A Stench In God's Nostrils

June 11

"I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever;
with my mouth will I make known your faithfulness to all generations."
Psalm 89:1

This could only be written by someone who has known God personally. He is so moved by the faithfulness of God that he bursts forth singing of his tender mercies.

This is not "religion," this is personal relationship, the "born again" life, and it is what all true believers experience. "Religion" is a system commanding what we must do for God, but relationship, or covenant, is what God does for us. God is not pleased with religious rituals, in fact they are a stench in his nostrils. Man seeks to please God, or to impress God, or to appease God with something "religious," but God calls this profane. Religious rituals make man FEEL holy, but true holiness is the man bowed before the Lord in repentance, waiting on his mercy and seeking his will.

When God reveals his will to a believer, it will never consist of some religious ritual. It will not consist of lighting a candle or trusting in a statue or a medal, no, when God reveals his will to a believer it will point to the person's need for repentance. And then the man or woman whose life is surrendered to God will experience the touch of God in his life in such a way that it will cause him to sing of God's mercies forever and make known his faithfulness as he testifies to all of what God has done.

"Let no one cheat you of your reward,
taking delight in FALSE HUMILITY...:
Colossians 2:18

Religious ritual is false humility. Priests wearing silks and satins and parading with a cross or a statue -this is the picture of false religion. The next time you observe such "holy" occasions, look at the priests and bishops parading in their regalia and know you are looking at false religion; many of those parading as such are not even saved.

vs 23:
"These things indeed have an APPEARANCE of wisdom
in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body,
but are of NO VALUE against the indulgence of the flesh."

No, the Lord is not impressed with man's religion, he is looking for a surrendered heart. Rosaries and statues and candles and processions - these are a stench in his nostrils because by doing these things man assures himself that he's doing something "holy," ...but it's FAR from holiness, in fact it's profane. Man has sanctified the profane and profaned the sacred.

If you want to please God, bow your heart before him. Bring down your pride. Confess your sin. Open your heart to whatever he will say to you. And above all, immerse yourself in his Word, the Bible.

“But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
and who trembles at my Word."
Isaiah 66:2

Put away the profane religious rituals, flee from them. God doesn't want a rosary, he wants a heart. You can't replace repentance with medals and statues. You can't bring your offering to God YOUR WAY, that is the sin of Cain who did not come to God with the lamb sacrifice, but with the works of his hands - and he was rejected. You have to come to God HIS way, and to know his way, you have to know his Word. He is looking for those who will know the TRUTH, and who will worship him in spirit, and in truth.

"God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and TRUTH."
John 4:24