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The Great Shepherd

August 23

"Blessed is the man who walks not
in the counsel of the ungodly,
nor stands in the path of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and in his law he meditates day and night."
Psalm 1:1-2

"...his delight is in the law of the Lord..."

He's not speaking here of the Levitical law. The word "law" here is the Hebrew word "torah," which is "teaching."

This is a call to be separate from the world. It's a call specifically to NOT walk in the counsel of the world because the Scriptures tell us that the philosophies of the world are "foolishness." (1 Corinthians 3:19) Therefore, if you are going for counsel to an "expert" in the world, then you are asking for foolishness. What he says may sound good, but in the end you'll see that it was foolishness. These experts and counselors have no use for the Word of God, in fact they scoff at it. None of those will give you the truth because they don't KNOW the truth, they're rooted, they're steeped, in the philosophies of the world.

So then, how can one be guided by truth?

God is the SOURCE of truth. Jesus said, "I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life..." (John 14:6) If you truly want to be guided by truth, then turn to the Word of God. Bring your trouble to the Lord and ask him to guide you by his Word, and he will. But first you have to know his Word.

"The entirety of your Word is truth,
and every one of your righteous judgments endures forever."
Psalm 119:160

When you have made the Word of God the foundation of your life, you will be like a tree planted by the water. You will not wither because your roots go deep and you will find success in what you do because your foundation is solid. Your help comes then, from the Lord himself.

vs 3:
"He shall be like a tree planted
by the rivers of water,
that brings forth its fruit in its season,
whose leaf also shall not wither;
and whatever he does shall prosper."

Turn therefore, turn away from the world and the philosophies thereof. Put your trust in the Lord. He knows the end from the beginning, he knows your past and your future, he alone knows your mind and he alone knows the depths of your heart. It is he who fashioned you, and it must be he who walks with you, the great Shepherd guiding his sheep in the way they should go.

The Reverence Due His Majesty

August 22

"Then Jesus went into the Temple of God
and drove out all those who bought and sold in the Temple,
and overturned the tables of the money changers
and the seats of those who sold doves.
And he said to them, 'It is written,
"My house shall be called a house of prayer,"
but you have made it a den of thieves.’”
Matthew 21:12-13

The church, the place people go to worship God, is a holy place, a place set apart for believers to worship together. But oh how far it has fallen from holiness. Many of the churches today are little more than social clubs. Churches try to draw people by delighting them with the kind of musical performances that are only too close to what you'd hear in bar rooms. Lights and strobes and smoke and all manner of entertainment is what makes up a great part of church life today. This is hideous. It's the kind of thing that Jesus would go into with a whip and drive out. His house cannot be a house of performances and entertainment. His house is a house of prayer.

Friends, God is holy. He's not looking for hearts to be stirred up by foot-stomping, hand-clapping fun. When one comes before the Lord, he is looking for two things: 1. reverence before him. And 2. repentant hearts. We come to the Lord to bow before the King of all creation. We bow, we surrender all to him, inviting the Spirit of God to move over us and cleanse us and bring us to repentance before him. In such a setting, the Holy Spirit is free to move and minister to the people. It is the Lord's delight to minister to his people, but it's hard to picture a bowed heart and repentant soul in any of the gatherings of today.

There is a place for joy in the Lord, beautiful praise and worship before him, but not for the kind of carnal antics practiced in so many of today's churches. When people come together to worship the Lord, let them WORSHIP HIM and do so from a right heart. The focus moves from us to HIM. To adore and magnify the greatness of our God. To bring thanksgiving for the wonders he does in our lives. To feast on his presence.

Oh Father, purify our hearts. Consecrate us, make us temples that you will be happy to dwell in. Let us soak up the glory of your presence so that we can then go out and bring your glory to the hurting masses who need you so much. It's all about YOU, Father. It's all about YOU. Please teach us that!

Let Them Alone

August 21

"Then his disciples came and said to him,
'Do you know that the Pharisees were offended
when they heard this saying?' But he answered and said,
'Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.
Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind.'"
Matthew 15:12-14

Those who have walked with the Lord a long time feel they have to correct wrongs when they see them. This is not always true. It's true that we must always be ready to defend the faith or to respond to questions:

"...always be ready to give a defense to everyone
who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you..."
1 Peter 3:15

But we are to use wisdom to discern when that is the case or when a reply is not advised. In this passage in Matthew, we are shown that when people oppose you with argument, you are to remain silent more often than not. "Let them alone" should probably be our instruction more often than not. When someone either opposes you or asks you a question, judge first whether they really want to know the answer, or whether they just want to argue. If they do not have a true heart seeking understanding, "Let them alone," saith the Lord.

One of the most important elements in our walk with the Lord is the prayer we put into it. Pray always for discernment. Pray for guidance. Pray for wisdom. Always be ready with an answer, but at the same time be ready to remain silent.

This is a discipline too few have mastered, including this writer. The normal knee-jerk response is to speak back, but more times than not the Lord would have us be silent and "Let them alone." This requires an intimacy with the Lord and a willingness to be led by him according to his leading in every situation, and the humility to be willing to stifle a come-back that he would have us not to give.

Are You A Bruised Reed?

August 20

"A bruised reed he will not break,
and smoking flax he will not quench,
till he sends forth justice to victory;
and in his name Gentiles will trust."
Matthew 12:20-21

The heart of God holds close those who are bruised, who have no more than a spark left in them. If you are so depleted that you feel useless and hopeless, call upon the Lord Jesus Christ. He will hear your cry and will raise you up on the way to recovery.

Many times it is the broken and depleted whom the Lord calls. In fact, he often waits until a person is in this condition, because prior to this they are still demanding to "do it my way." Salvation requires utter surrender to the One who has created the person.

God has made each one with a God-shaped void inside, and he often lets a person try to fill that void with whatever the person thinks will satisfy it. The person will go through one thing after another, always thinking "if only I can attain to this, I'll be happy." Or "if only I had this, I'd be happy." There is nothing and no one on earth who can fill that void, and at last when the person has exhausted every search and tried everything there is to try, yet remains miserable, that is when the heart can be reached.

Jesus said he did not come for the healthy, wealthy and wise, he said he came for those who need a physician.

"And their scribes and the Pharisees
complained against his disciples, saying,
'Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?'
Jesus answered and said to them,
'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.'”
Luke 5:30-32

Repentance is when a person realizes his pitiable state. The person who brought me to the Lord so many years ago when I was broken, asked me, "Have you been a successful lord over your life?" I answered, "Obviously not. I am so broken." He then led me to Jesus and asked if I were willing to surrender my life to his Lordship. There was no hesitation about whether to take this offer. On that day I was born again, and I can testify that Jesus Christ changed my life totally and completely. The smoking flax was put out and a new fire put within. I will spend all eternity looking for words to adequately thank him. Walking with Him has been the joy of my life.

Daily Devotionals -Week Ending August 19

August 13
. The Itching Ears Gospel Is The Broad Way To Hell

August 14
. All That Is Done In Pride Is Lost

August 15
. Seizures Don't Speak, Do They?

August 16
. He Wants To Spend Time With You

August 17
. There Is No Joy Like The Joy Of A Surrendered Heart

August 18
. For The Sake Of Those Who Will Receive It

August 19
. Four Hundred To One – Pretty Good Odds

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Four Hundred To One -Pretty Good Odds

August 19

“The kingdom of heaven is like a man
who sowed good seed in his field;
but while men slept, his enemy came
and sowed tares among the wheat
and went his way. But when the grain
had sprouted and produced a crop,
then the tares also appeared."
Matthew 13:24-26

The parable goes on to say that the servants asked whether they should uproot the tares, but the master said no, because you'd uproot the good wheat too, because tares in a wheat field look exactly like the wheat as they're growing.

It's often difficult to discern false teachers, false ministers, false prophets, because they look like the true. Often they have very winning personalities, and have an air of credibility about them, and that's why so many fall for them. They're pleasing to listen to. They say nice things. They always speak "uplifting" things. But that's exactly how a wolf in sheep's clothing looks. They look like the sheep.

So how DOES one discern the false from the true? Not from looking at them. The only way one can discern is to know the Word of God thoroughly, because their straying from the truth will only be discernible by knowing the truth.

There are people who only want to hear that which is "uplifting." That's the most dangerous thing you can do. Satan is only too happy to bring you "uplifting" messages, especially when the TRUTH of the matter is NOT uplifting.

Satan doesn't care what  you believe, as long as it isn't the truth.

King Ahab had 400 prophets whom he asked whether or not he should go up to battle against the king of Syria. With one accord, they all told him to go and that God will deliver the king of Syria into Ahab's hands. But then the true prophet, Micaiah came to the king and told him that he would die in the battle and his servants would be scattered on the mountains. Ahab listened to his 400 prophets who were all in agreement telling him what he wanted to hear.

Wouldn't you listen to them if 400 of them were telling you something "uplifting?" Would you even consider the one telling you an unpleasant truth? 400 to 1, who wouldn't take those odds? In fact, most would fall for that.

Well, Ahab went to battle ...and died.

Our safety is in the Lord, and ONLY HE can lead us through any skirmish. So when you're up against something and need direction, submit yourself and the problem to HIM, asking direction. He is the ONLY one who can give you the RIGHT direction.

For The Sake Of Those Who Will Receive It

August 18

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Matthew 13:9

How we get discouraged as we try to reach out to the unsaved, and get little response. We must remind ourselves that that was the case even with Jesus. The crowds flocked to him because he gave out healing and miracles, but very few wanted to follow him.

Jesus spoke of a sower going out to sow seed, and he describes the soil that seed would fall into, the condition of men's hearts which will determine how they respond. There are four types of "soil:"

. Soil that's off by the wayside
. Soil that is among stones
. Soil with thorns
. Good soil

These are the four kinds of quality of soul that you will find when you bring the seed.
The soil off by the wayside is the heart that doesn't understand. It's not speaking of the intellect, it's speaking of those who have no spiritual insight, so Satan can quickly snatch the seed away from a person like that.

The soil that's on stony ground, is the heart that receives the Word, but the root doesn't go down deeply in his heart, so as soon as trouble comes, he can't maintain it and falls away.

The soil that rests among thorns represents the heart of one who hears the Word and receives it, but his attention is quickly taken away by his interests, the cares of his world, and the lust for riches and things. These choke out the Word.

The good soil represents the heart who hears and receives the Word of God, and because his heart is good soil, fed and watered by the Word, he goes on to follow the Lord and to serve him, producing much fruit.

The point is that not everyone will be receptive to the Word of God, that was true when Jesus preached it himself, and it will be true with us as well, and we are not to become discouraged because of it. We are to go on reaching out, knowing that the Lord will touch the hearts of those who "have ears to hear."

"Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season.
Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine,
but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears,
they will heap up for themselves teachers,
and they will turn their ears away from the truth,
and be turned aside to fables.
But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions,
do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."
2 Timothy 4:2-5

There Is No Joy Like The Joy Of A Surrendered Heart

August 17

"At that time Jesus answered and said,
'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
that you have hidden these things
from the wise and prudent
and have revealed them to babes.'"
Matthew 11:25

The wise and prudent of this world are steeped in the love of the world, and their goals are the promotion of self ...always ...the promotion of self. More riches, more power, more prestige, more acknowledgment. You can't have it both ways. The principles of the Kingdom of God are the opposite from the principles of the world, and entry into the Kingdom of God requires the death of the pride of man. That's something that those who are wise in the things of the world and those who have made a name for themselves cannot even begin to understand. So God indeed has revealed them to the lowly.

"For you see your calling, brethren,
that not many wise according to the flesh,
not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world
to put to shame the wise,
and God has chosen the weak things of the world
to put to shame the things which are mighty;"
1 Corinthians 1:26-27

Consider carefully your ways. If your intentions in life are to gain wealth or honor, you make yourself ineligible for the Kingdom of God. Entry into the Kingdom of God requires humility and surrender. Not everyone can do that. The death of pride is very difficult. For many ...too difficult.

"Then Jesus said to his disciples,
'Assuredly, I say to you
that it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven.
And again I say to you,
it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”
Matthew 19:23-24

That does not mean that a rich person cannot enter the Kingdom of God, it is only saying that for that person it's going to be very difficult. It will cost him his pride, and for the rich that's nearly impossible. He can no longer be king of his own world, he must surrender to the King of the Kingdom of God. Sadly, that's just unacceptable to many who have advanced their name or their wealth in the eyes of the world.

Friends, there is no joy like the joy of a surrendered heart. There is no peace like the peace of a surrendered heart. When you surrender pride you're not losing, you're gaining more than you could ever imagine.

He Wants To Spend Time With You

August 16

"But without a parable he did not speak to them.
he explained all things to his disciples."
Matthew 4:34

The world may hear quotes from the Bible from time to time, and may even be familiar with some of them, but they won't understand anything but the surface meaning. There are deep truths hidden in the Word of God, which may only be gleaned by COMING ASIDE TO BE ALONE WITH HIM, sitting at his feet, meditating on his Word, and asking him for revelation, asking him to reveal his Word to listening hearts.

Jesus does not reveal his Word to the world, but only to his disciples, his followers, those who choose him over all. These he will privilege to see the deeper meanings in his Word, as he takes them aside daily for a private teaching. "Give us this day our daily bread..." God's Word is our daily manna from heaven.

If you desire to know in more depth the gems in God's Word, take time to be alone with him. Take time every day to sit before him to learn from him, to pray, to read his Word.

Those who have only superficial interest, will only get superficial understanding.

If you desire more of him, and if you desire to understand more of his Word, you'll have to make TIME to spend with him.

Is your life too busy? If so, how much time do you set for yourself for recreation? If you have time to watch tv or to surf the internet, then you can make time for the most important thing in life - time with your Lord.

"I rejoice at your Word
as one who finds great treasure."
Psalm 119:162

Seizures Don't Speak, Do They?

August 15

"So the demons begged him, saying,
'If you cast us out, permit us to go away
into the herd of swine.' And he said to them, 'Go.'
So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine.
And suddenly the whole herd of swine
ran violently down the steep place into the sea,
and perished in the water."
Matthew 8:28

The world will laugh at you if you speak about demons. "C'mon, we're not in the dark ages anymore!" Doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, will put more "sophisticated" labels on anything demonic. They say people have seizures, not demons. They're schizophrenic, not demonized. Anything but demonized. If you deny the truth, how can one be healed?

If you believe the Scriptures, don't be ashamed to see things as they really are. This passage in the Scriptures shows Jesus casting DEMONS out of a fierce man, and going on to cast demons out of many others. How is it that the demons spoke? Seizures don't speak, demons speak. They conversed with Jesus until he cast them out. Demons are real. And they're everywhere. They enter a person when that person opens a door of sin.

The last verse in this passage has always stymied me:

vs 34:
"And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus,
and when they saw him, they begged him
to depart from their region."

They were so "spooked" by what he did that they asked him to leave the area! Incredible. Here was a mad man who was suddenly made whole by Jesus, yet the people asked Jesus to leave.

What would you do? If you saw Jesus ministering to someone and casting a demon out of that person who was made well as a result, would you be so spooked that you'd ask Jesus to leave? Or would you realize that he has the power to set people free from something that held them in bondage all their lives?

One of Satan's great accomplishments has been to convince people that he doesn't exist, or that he's just a force or a power, something abstract. No, he is a person, a fallen angel, and he is very active in the lives of people.

Ask the Lord to show you if there is demonic activity in your life. It's just as certain that there is, as is certain that you are subject to germs, bacteria, and viruses. Once you receive enlightenment from the Lord, pray that he lead you through deliverance. The process of deliverance can take place over a long period of time, little by little depending on the severity of your affliction. It will necessitate confession of sin, because it is sin that made you vulnerable to it in the first place.

Don't feel that you're different because of it, I suspect that almost all are afflicted this way, just as almost all are vulnerable to viruses. But just knowing this could lead you to a degree of physical or mental or emotional health that you've never before known. Bow on your knees before the Lord Jesus Christ, confess sins as he brings them to light, and ask to be set free.

"For this purpose the Son of God was manifested,
that he might destroy the works of the devil."
1 John 3:8

All That Is Done In Pride Is Lost

August 14

“...when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets,
that they may have glory from men.
Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward."
Matthew 6:2

God sees the motive in the heart, and he is always working to destroy pride because pride is the deadliest of all sin, pride absolutely blinds a man. In this passage, the Lord is saying that before you do any good thing, search your heart to make sure you're doing it for the glory of God, and not to appear "holy" to people. There is nothing holy about pride. Every act done from pride has no reward. The praise of men will be the only reward, and that is fleeting.

vs 16-18:
"Moreover, when you fast,
do not be like the hypocrites,with a sad countenance.
For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting.
Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you do not appear to men to be fasting,
but to your Father who is in the secret place;
and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."

The integrity of the heart is shown only in what is done in secret. One must decide in his life whether he wants the praise of men, whether he wants to appear "holy" to men, whether he wants people to be in awe of him and think him great, OR whether he is willing to give up the deeds of pride and stand before God in integrity, before the only One whose approval matters.

All that is done in pride will be lost. What is done before the Lord alone -will be eternal. If you want the eternal, you must be perpetually on guard against the insidious nature of pride.

Daily Devotional Summary - Week Ending August 12

Daily Devotionals -Week Ending August 12

August 6
. Murky Waters

August 7
. Why Do People Gossip?

August 8
. When God Shows You Your Sin It’s Meant To Heal You

August 9
. Don't Begrudge His Prosperity

August 10
. Turn Your Judgments Into Blessings

August 11
. Exchange The Human For The Supernatural

August 12
. The Lord Shall Enlighten My Darkness

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The Itching Ears Gospel Is The Broad Way To Hell

August 13

"For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
'The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'"
Matthew 3:3

That was written 2,000 years ago. Before Jesus's first coming to this earth, John the Baptist was raised up to preach repentance to the people, preparing them for the salvation Jesus was about to bring. And now in this generation, we are again in the role of John, urging people to come to repentance because the second coming of the Lord is near.

"Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season.
Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching."
2 Timothy 4:2

But few will hear. It is written in the Scriptures that the last days will be Satan's final hour, and that it will be a time of great "apostasy." Little could we have imagined the magnitude of that apostasy, for even the clergy have fallen to practicing all manner of evil, preaching only the pleasant words that the world wants to hear.

And what do the masses want to hear? Only "uplifting" messages, how one can be healthy, wealthy and wise, words of a soulish "love," words of self-esteem and tolerance for all. The Word of God, if referred to at all, is used only to assure the crowds that their agenda is "Scriptural," to back up their vile message as they introduce this terrible "gospel" to those who want to hear it. The "itching ears" religion will amass the crowds, and the "mega-churches" will wonderfully pad the wallets of those false teachers preaching such soulish mush as they lead multitudes to hell. In such a setting, they will soundly reject the truth, despising the sound doctrines of the Word of God.

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine,
but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears,
they will heap up for themselves teachers,
and be turned aside to fables."
2 Timothy 4:3-4

Just as John pointed the crowds to repentance, now in these last days those who love THE TRUTH are once again preaching repentance. You won't hear among these the message of how wonderful you can be and how successful and wealthy you can become, and how you can increase your "self esteem." In fact, the last-days message will be the call to reject the popular "itching ears" teachings and instead to fall on one's knees in repentance before a holy God, knowing full well that the true Gospel will cause them rejection, will bring them persecution, and in some cases might even lead to death. The true last-days message will speak of sin, of judgment, of hell, all the things the "itching ears" religion soundly avoids.

"Enter in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate,
and broad is the way, that leads to destruction,
and MANY there be which go in by it."
Matthew 7:13

Though the itching ears crowd will be deceived by messages that feel good, it's the way to hell. The way of righteousness is narrow. Those who choose it will be called "narrow minded." Yes. It is Jesus who said the way is narrow, so narrow that few will find it and the many will reject it.

vs 14:
"Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way,
which leads to life, and FEW there be that find it."

The day of the Lord is at hand. In Matthew 24 when Jesus was asked what would be the signs of his coming, the very first thing he answered was that it will be a time of great deception, and to be very careful not to be deceived.

Take heed to his words. Your response to them will determine your eternity.

The Lord Shall Enlighten My Darkness

August 12

"For you are my lamp, O Lord;
the Lord shall enlighten my darkness."
2 Samuel 22:29

Our journey through this lifetime sometimes leads us through deep trials and traumas and they can be overwhelming. Sometimes our trials will reduce us to a heap of suffering in the darkness. At times like that it seems like the Lord is far away and the heavens brass. For the believer, it can be terrifying when it feels like he can't reach God. The isolation. The feeling of abandonment. The fear it fosters. The hopelessness. The darkness.

But it's an illusion. It's not that the Lord isn't there, it's that we've been blinded to his presence because of the intense darkness of our suffering. Yet whether we feel it or not, the presence of the Lord has not left. He said, "I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you."

"For he himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'
So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper, I will not fear.'
Hebrews 13:5-6

Most people have read "Footprints." Briefly, a person sees the footprints of the Lord alongside his own footprints as the two walked through the journey. But suddenly the person cries out when he sees only his own footprints. Fearing the Lord has forsaken him, he shrieks in fear. But the Lord tells him that where there is only one set of footprints, "that's where I carried you."

There is great wisdom in that. There are times in our lives when all we can do is wait on the Lord, knowing that no matter how severe the suffering, or how distant it seems that God is, the fact is that he truly, truly will never leave or forsake his own. Only in retrospect, when the darkness passes and morning comes, then he will see that truly the Lord enlightened his darkness and carried him through the storm.

"When the waves of death surrounded me,
the floods of ungodliness made me afraid;
the sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
the snares of death confronted me;
in my distress I called upon the Lord,
and cried out to my God;
he heard my voice from his Temple,
and my cry entered his ears."
2 Samuel 22:5-7

Truly, truly, "The Lord shall enlighten my darkness."
Wait patiently, later you will see.

Exchange The Human For The Supernatural

August 11

"I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
so shall I be saved from my enemies."
2 Samuel 22:4

This passage has personal meaning for me, because it contains a spiritual principle which the Lord himself showed me, one that is extremely powerful, one that can change everything.

One evening, my sister, my daughter, my granddaughter and I sat around a table to share and to pray. In the course of the conversation, the story came up about Paul and Silas who had been beaten and thrown into a dungeon, their feet in stocks, their backs bloodied. It was hard for them to get comfortable with those chains on them and with the blood running down on their backs. But then the most incredible thing happened. They began singing praises to God!!!  And that leaves the reader with the question ...HOW??? How on earth could these two men, human beings like you and me, sing praises to God in a situation like that?! It's beyond understanding.

As they sang their songs of praise, a "great earthquake" hit and it was so jolting that their chains fell and the doors were opened. When the other prisoners saw that, they were so stunned that they realized this was an act of God and they ended up being saved. This story is recorded in Acts 16:22-34.

As we sat around that table and were recounting that story ...the room began to shake and we realized we were having an earthquake!!! We just sat there stunned, looking at each other ...we were having an earthquake and we were left speechless. We realized the Lord was showing us something so important that he even caused an earthquake to take place while we were speaking about the earthquake that set Paul and Silas free and which resulted in many being saved.

None of us know what's coming upon this earth, but we've been prepared enough to know that we're close to the days of sorrow. The Lord showed us that day how to respond whenever sorrows hit us. There's power in praise, inhuman, superhuman, supernatural power available to us if only we will do things God's way, defying the natural laws of human nature and stepping instead into the supernatural realm where we will be met by the Lord himself. This is a lesson we will all need to remember as horrendous times are just over the horizon.

Praise changes things. Doing things God's way changes things. Always.

Turn Your Judgments Into Blessings

August 10

"Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years,
year after year; and David inquired of the Lord.
And the Lord answered, 'It is because of Saul
and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites.'”
2 Samuel 21:1

Things don't happen without a cause. King David knew that, so he went to the Lord and asked why famine was on the land. The Lord answered that the former king, Saul, had killed Gibeonites. Saul was dead by now and the slaughter of the Gibeonites took place long ago. So we see that judgments and curses can be brought forward even long after the deed was done that caused them. A spiritual principle to remember.

It's reminiscent of the several passages revealing that judgment continues down to the third and fourth generations.

So David set out to make things right. He asked the Gibeonites how he could make things right with them. They requested seven descendants of Saul be handed over to them, and David complied. Then he went to the graves of Saul and his son Jonathan who had been buried by the enemies who killed them in war, and he brought their bones back to Israel and buried them in the graves of their fathers. After doing all he could think of to rectify the situation, he then went to the Lord and asked the curse to be removed, and "God heeded the prayer for the land."

Folks, we need to understand spiritual laws. Today, people ignore them believing that their sins have been forgiven because of the atoning sacrifice Jesus accomplished for us. That is very true, but there are CONSEQUENCES of sin, and many times those consequences will reach down several generations from the perpetrator's sin.

"The Lord is long-suffering and abundant in mercy,
forgiving iniquity and transgression;
but he by no means clears the guilty,
visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children
to the third and fourth generation."
Numbers 14:18

Children tend to carry on the sins of their fathers. If you look into the descendants of an alcoholic, you'll often see alcoholism down through the generations. If a man sins through violence, there will often times be violence in his descendants.

So what to do when you realize there is such a tendency in your own family, even if the source is a generation or two back from you?

You do as David did. You confess the sins you know about, and ask for forgiveness. Then you do whatever you can to make things right with anyone who was victimized by the sin in your family. And then you ask the Lord to reveal anything more of what you need to know, and you submit the whole subject into the hands of the Lord and ask for guidance. Then, having done all you can, you wait for his response.

Sometimes a judgment or curse cannot be reversed, but in such a situation the Lord will walk with you through whatever you have to face. And if a judgment or curse cannot be reversed, the Lord will make a way to turn it into a blessing, because for those who love the Lord, "all things," ALL THINGS, will be turned around for the good.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are the called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28

Don't Begrudge His Prosperity

August 9

"Whoever walks blamelessly will be saved,
but he who is perverse in his ways will fall suddenly."
Proverbs 28:18

One reason many don't pick up on this principle is that the cause-and-effect doesn't happen immediately. Nevertheless it is a principle that will always hold true: the perverse will suddenly fall. For awhile he/she will seem to continue without consequence, and this very fact will convince him that there won't BE a consequence. But oh, there surely will be!

God has placed certain laws and principles into effect. If you throw a ball up, it will come down. That is the law of gravity. Summer will follow spring, and fall will follow summer. There are also spiritual laws or principles, and one of them is the principle of consequence. A terrible thing about consequence is that it will fall suddenly and without warning.

Do not fret while the wicked continues on, it's only temporary even though it seems to go on forever. Do not be fooled by the continued wealth and success of the wicked, it's going to come to its end.

"But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;
my steps had nearly slipped,
for I was envious of the boastful,
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked."
Psalm 73:2-3

Sometimes it does seem that this is going to go on forever, and because of it the faithful can become disheartened. Why is God allowing the seeming prosperity of the wicked to flourish, while I remain in suffering?

verses 16-17:
"When I thought how to understand this,
it was too painful for me...
until I went into the sanctuary of God.
Then ...I understood their end."

If you could see "their end," then you'd understand this principle of God's Word. Continue on in faithfulness, and don't fret about the prosperity and success of the wicked. Don't begrudge them, what they have now is the only happiness they will ever know.

When God Shows You Your Sin It's Meant To Heal You

August 8

"The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord,
searching all the inner depths of his heart."
Proverbs 20:27

The function of a lamp is to give light. The Lord sees all the areas of the heart and knows a man more intimately than he even knows himself. When  the Spirit of God shines on a dark place within a believer, the hidden things become exposed. And the purpose of it is not to condemn the man, but to bring him to repentance.

Ah, the incomparable JOY of repentance! That which was hidden, that which weighed the man down in bitterness or fear or a hopeless guilt, when it is exposed and the person surrenders that part of himself to the Lord, a tremendous process of healing begins.

If you are stunned when the lamp of the Lord exposes something terrible inside you, something you've wanted to keep hidden, or something you didn't even know was there, do not fear the repentance process. The point of it is to heal you and set you free from the burden that has held you captive for so long. And the fruit of that process is a kind of joy you've never till now experienced. Don't fear it, don't resist it, it's meant for your good. Embrace it!

Why Do People Love Gossip?

August 7

"The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles,
and they go down into the inmost body."
Proverbs 26:22

How people love gossip! Stories being spread are like sweet delicacies and everyone's hungry for them. But most don't stop to consider that what's being said may not be true and a person's whole reputation can be ruined by a gossiper bearing a false or exaggerated story.

Why do people love gossip? Isn't it because a story about someone doing wrong makes ME feel better? If so-and-so is stealing, I feel better because I don't steal. If so-and-so is cheating on his/her spouse, it makes me feel better because that's something I'm not doing. The lust for juicy stories of people going wrong always makes me feel better about myself if I'm not doing what he/she is reportedly doing.

But this is only an illusion. We are all sinners, every one of us, and if hearing stories about someone else's sin comforts me because I don't practice that sin, then I am deceived because I'm convincing myself that I'm a better person who would NEVERRRRRR do that!

But what if MY sins were being spoken about me? Would I not go into a rage and defend myself? Would I not say that what is being said is a gross exaggeration? And if what is being said is true, would I not make an excuse to diffuse the accusation?

Oh fools that we are! Gossip is like tasty trifles - as long as it is about someone else. What folly! No, those who belong to Christ are called to a higher place, the place from which we truly care about others as much as we would care about ourselves, the place where hearing gossip would offend me as much as would a story about myself.

"And just as you want men to do to you,
you also do to them likewise."
Luke 6:31

Guard a person's reputation as you would guard your own, lest the same come upon you.

But how does one do that? It's so very easy to fall into discussion about someone else. The answer is to ask God to put his love for people into your heart. Nothing but love can stop a damaging word about someone. If you find yourself in a situation wherein someone is being gossiped about, say something good about that person. Sometimes that will change the tenor of the conversation. Do not allow yourself to become part of tale-bearing ...lest tale-bearing take place about you.