Daily Devotionals from Grace in the Workplace
Tuesday, March 31 2015
Verse of the Day
Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” [Matthew 21:9 – NKJV]
Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!” [Matthew 27:22 – NKJV]
Many of you have served in the military and others have played instruments in marching bands, but regardless of whether you’ve had any experience with marching in formation, you are probably familiar with the command: “About Face!” One minute you’re facing one direction and a second later, the exact opposite—your perspective has changed by 180 degrees! The passages for today illustrate this to a “T.” As Jesus makes His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the people shout “Hosanna to the Son of David” and less than a week later they respond angrily to Pilate, “Let Him be crucified!” What a difference a week makes!
We are really fickle, pliable, indecisive, and capricious creatures, aren’t we? We change our minds and our allegiances on a dime. We vacillate between this and that, seldom taking a stand when we can avoid it. The Israelites expected Jesus to be a warrior king, one who would deliver them from the Romans and when they learned that He was really a meek servant, they turned on Him. Are we any different? We often try to fit God into a mold or pattern of what we want Him to be and when He doesn’t meet our expectations, we abandon Him. What kind of God do we want: a powerless god of our own creation, or the Creator of the Universe?
Our only hope is Jesus Christ. Only a deep and abiding faith in Jesus will produce the intestinal fortitude needed to be firm in our convictions. Walk with God. Trust and obey! Let’s give thanks that our God is an awesome God who loves us so much that He sent His Son Jesus as a perfect sacrifice to die on the Cross for all Believers! Hosanna in the highest!
Monday, March 30 2015
Verse of the Day
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. [Colossians 2:9-10 – NKJV]
Many devotionals have been written on Immanuel, God with us. The fact that God came to earth to live with us as a man is incredibly important, but that is not the point of today’s passage from scripture. Although He was a man, Jesus in His incarnation reflected the image of God the Father. While He walked the earth, He was God in human form. He was and is perfect. In much the same way, when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are perfected by the righteousness of Christ that God imparts to us. We are brought into fullness by being positionally perfected in God’s sight. Only Jesus and His blood that was shed on the cross for us could accomplish this. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer! Thank you Jesus!
Friday, March 27 2015
Verse of the Day
…fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. [2 Timothy 1:6 – NIV]
Like many children of the ‘50s, I was shipped off to summer camp. Camp was fun; you got a chance to do lots of things that just weren’t possible back home in the city, like shooting a gun or a bow and arrow, canoeing, chopping wood, hiking and camping, and many other outdoorsy things. One of the most challenging skills we learned was how to start a fire with a steel knife, a piece of flint, and some tinder. This required lots of patience and perseverance. Once a fire was started, you had to keep it going, gently blowing and fanning the flames.
As we consider today’s passage, it’s good to keep in mind that the people of New Testament times probably started fires in much the same way as we did in summer camp. Why is this relevant? Well, because it sheds light on the real meaning of Paul’s words. Developing and using the gifts that God gives us takes a great deal of patience and perseverance on our part. We are not to sit idly by, but we are to be engaged to the fullest in sharing God’s Word. So I implore you to do your part in spreading the Good News to all you meet today and every day!
Thursday, March 26 2015
Verse of the Day
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. [Psalm 19:14 – NKJV]
My friend drains a 15-foot putt and after I congratulate him, he says (jokingly), “Chalk it up to clean living.” Of course “clean living” is nothing more than blind, stupid luck. Even a blind squirrel finds an occasional acorn. There’s a difference between clean living and living right.
Living to please God is living right. If my mouth and my heart are pleasing to God then I know I have followed the right path in life. Pursue wisdom and run toward the Prize. Live humbly, love your neighbor, be merciful and just, read and live the Word, be generous, use your gifts to glorify and honor God, and love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. Trust in God and obey Him. Pray that your life will be pleasing to Him.
Wednesday, March 25 2015
Verse of the Day
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” [Acts 9:3-4 – NIV]
Road trips were a big part of growing up in the ‘60s. A bunch of guys and gals would jump into a car (preferably a convertible) and head off to, well, nowhere in particular. These adventures of a misspent youth were fun, but the greatest “road trip” ever took place two thousand years ago during New Testament times. Walking was the only way to travel back then and Saul (later to be renamed Paul) was headed down the road to Damascus toward an amazing experience, a conversion like no other—a direct, intimate and personal encounter with Jesus Christ!
God had a very special purpose in mind for Paul. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He told the Apostles “…you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [see Acts 1:8, emphasis added]. Yes, God handpicked Paul to be His messenger to the Gentiles, and just in case you’re still on your first cup of coffee that means us.
Given his background, Paul would seem to be the perfect fit to share the Good News with the Jews. After all, he was the “consummate Jew,” well-educated and a Benjaminite like his namesake, King Saul. However, God rarely follows human logic and reasoning. Paul’s mission trips spread the Word throughout the Roman world and to the ends of the earth. His epistles are equally notable considering that he got the Word directly from the “horse’s mouth” (from Jesus Christ Himself).
God used Paul in a very powerful and unexpected way to fulfill His Plan. As a Believer, God will be using you too. Be ready to honor and glorify Him forever!
Tuesday, March 24 2015
Verse of the Day
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” [Hebrews 12:14 – NIV]
Many of you remember the tension between the United States and the USSR after World War II. The Cold War kept escalating. We lived with a constant threat of nuclear war (who remembers practicing how to kneel under your desk at school?), and our systems (capitalism and communism) competed against one another on the world stage. Eventually, we reached an understanding and our strained relations eased; hence the title of this devotional—Détente.
As today’s passage tells us, peace is a great thing to seek. Of all the possible conditions that mankind could find itself in, peace is the one that we strive for the most, yet it is rarely achieved. We bicker, fight, and are often at war. So truth be told, peace is really more of a dream than a reality. The author of Hebrews tells us that for us as Believers, peace in and of itself is not enough. We must be holy because “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” This is a high standard indeed, but then what don’t we understand about being Christ-like?
Monday, March 23 2015
Verse of the Day
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. [Psalm 24:1-2 – NIV]
You know, try as we might we don’t always stay grounded in God’s Word. We often fall prey to the world’s ways when it comes to success in the workplace. We tell ourselves that we work hard for what we have and we deserve it. We like to give the very best to our families and to ourselves and by doing so we cater not just to our physical and emotional needs, but to our need for status based on achievement. We buy all sorts of things: cars, vacation homes, fishing boats, electronics, expensive jewelry and watches, designer clothes, and on and on, just to make a statement about who we are and what we’ve accomplished in life.
As Believers we know that the world’s “wisdom” about our success is a myth. Everything we have comes from God. It all belongs to Him to begin with and He only “loans” it to us as His stewards. And since the stuff is really His, maybe we ought to rethink the decisions we make about what we are buying and why we are buying it. Do we really need all the stuff we have? Maybe there are better uses for the money He has provided us with. Maybe we should use it for His purposes, to glorify and honor Him. If He has blessed you it’s so you can bless others. Like Abraham, we are blessed to be a blessing.
Friday, March 20 2015
Verse of the Day
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. [Genesis 3:7 – NKJV]
Self-awareness is the inevitable byproduct of the Fall from Grace and, just to be clear, it is not our natural state. God created us to commune with Him. Before Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they walked and talked with God in perfect harmony and tranquility. They worshiped and adored Him. Their focus was on Him and not inward on themselves. Then they took one bite of the apple and wow, how things changed!
We, too, are self-centered, sinful creatures, but, thanks to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we have the hope of a life everlasting worshiping and glorifying God. We are often told that we are to become Christ-like. In doing so, it is imperative that we shift our focus from ourselves to others. An outward focus on those around us will help prepare us for our time in eternity as we focus exclusively with all of our soul, mind, and strength on loving the Lord our God.
Thursday, March 19 2015
Verse of the Day
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. [Proverbs 1:7 – NKJV]
Like most words in the English language, fear has several different meanings. If we are to seek wisdom, we must learn to fear the Lord, but what kind of “fear” are we to feel or express? What does it mean to fear the Lord? Are we to be terrified of Him; tremble in our boots at the very thought of Him? Is He a monster? Of course not! I’ll bet we can figure out the answer without consulting the dictionary.
God abhors sin, and we know the penalty for sin is death. We also know that God loves us; loves us so much in fact that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross as the perfect sacrifice to redeem us with His precious blood. We are made right with God and have everlasting life thanks to our Savior. But all of us will be judged; so, it naturally follows that the kind of "fear" we are to have for God is the respect, reverence, and awe that He so justly deserves. He is God and we recognize our relationship with Him. We love Him and we worship Him for who He is.
Once we understand our relationship with God, then we can learn His ways and grow in His wisdom. Why would you want to be a fool? Seek out God’s wisdom and instruction. Soak up His Word! It is like sweet honey.
Wednesday, March 18 2015
Verse of the Day
But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him… [Genesis 39:21 – NIV]
Everyone is familiar with the adage, “patience is a virtue.” By nature, we are an impatient lot, always wanting what we want right now. Instantaneous gratification is the name of the game nowadays. So there is absolutely no doubt that developing patience is a good thing; however, I think being content with your situation in life is far more important.
To my way of thinking, patient people still have an expectation that their desired outcome will happen at some point in the future. There is a stifled, subdued expectation, but an expectation nevertheless. On the other hand, content people are fully and completely satisfied with their life as it exists, regardless of the circumstances in which they find themselves.
Few people in the Bible suffered more than Joseph; he is perhaps the epitome of suffering. How ironic is it that we also find that despite his captivity in Egypt, he was content in every situation in which he found himself? Maybe this was ironic, but by no means was it an accident. That’s because, as today’s passage points out, God taught Joseph to be content. So, seek the Lord and His wisdom and maybe you too can find true contentment in your life no matter your circumstances.
Tuesday, March 17 2015
Verse of the Day
For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” [John 5:16-17 – NKJV]
We know from Genesis and the Gospels that both God the Father and Jesus worked—God when He created the universe and everything in it (including mankind) and Jesus as a carpenter from his early years all the way to the end of His life. (And oh, by the way, Jesus had something to do with creation too! See John 1:1-3.)
In today’s passage we learn that both God and Jesus have been working continuously since the beginning of time. In order to better understand this, I think it is important to explore the concept of work before the Fall from Grace. Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to work it. It was pleasurable and not toilsome work. Since God the Father and Jesus are both perfect beings (like Adam and Eve were before the Fall), their work is not burdensome; it is pleasurable. So too will our work be after the Second Coming, but in the meantime we have to toil, suffer, and bear down since we live in a Fallen world. As Believers, Jesus tells us that for all who are heavy laden His yoke is light. Never forget that we are to work as if working for the Lord! Jesus is our example. Follow His lead!
Monday, March 16 2015
Verse of the Day
When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. [2 Chronicles 7:1 – NKJV
I didn’t choose the title by accident. After reading today’s passage it’s all I could say. We have an awesome and magnificent God!
Solomon finally built the Temple for the Name of the Lord after God’s “temporary home” (the Ark of the Covenant) spent years and years bouncing around (sometime literally) from place to place. After the dedication, God occupied His new home in a very visible way. The glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. No longer did He wander. He was “tabernacling” with His Chosen People.
Flash forward to the Day of Pentecost and contrast God occupying His Temple in Jerusalem with the equally visible and dramatic indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Apostles (see Acts 2:1-4). A mighty wind and tongues of fire accompanied the arrival of the Spirit on that day. Today we Believers receive the Spirit without any visible sign, but receive Him we do! Today God no longer resides in a building; we are God’s Temple! He indwells in us. He is constantly with His people! For He is good; for His mercy endures forever!
Friday, March 13 2015
Verse of the Day
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 3:13-14 – NIV]
Like one of my favorite passages, Hebrews 12:1-2, today’s excerpt from Philippians is about “running the race” and keeping your eye on the Prize. But unlike the author of Hebrews, the Apostle Paul stresses the need to forget the past and focus on what’s ahead. Just imagine trying to run a drag race in reverse. That’s scary! In fact “going out in reverse” in any kind of race is nonsensical.
All of us tend to dwell more on the past than we should. We have good and bad memories that we tend to share (maybe a little too often) with others and certainly mull over repeatedly in our minds. There is nothing wrong with an occasional thought about a fond memory or telling a story relating something that others might find fun or interesting, but if you are living in the past you have a real problem.
For a Believer, the past reflects our old life before we were saved; i.e., the ways of the world. Why would we want to focus and dwell on what we left behind? We have a new life in Jesus Christ. He is the goal, the Prize that we are seeking at the finish line. So focus on what lies ahead. Go ahead, go for it!
Thursday, March 12 2015
Verse of the Day
He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given. [Proverbs 19:17 – NKJV]
I’m sure most of you remember Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” He was a selfish, bitter, miserly old man. When approached by two gentlemen who asked him to give to the annual fund for the poor he replied, “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” That was his attitude until he was visited by the three ghosts of Christmas. After their visits, he was transformed into the most generous and caring man in all of London.
How about us? Do we really care about the poor around us or do we just go about our busy lives without really noticing them, without taking time to interact with them, and without taking time to care for them as God would have us do? In Deuteronomy 15:11, God tells us, “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore, I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.” This fact doesn’t provide us with an excuse. Notice that God’s statement that the poor will always be with us is coupled with a command, to be openhanded (generous) towards the poor among us. Caring for the poor is one of Jesus’s central themes. In Luke 6:20, Jesus says of the poor, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”
So what are we doing for the poor? I don’t think it’s enough to just give to your church or to a charity (that’s not a bad thing though!). It is always better to get involved personally. There are lots of opportunities out there to help your fellow man. Check them out.
Wednesday, March 11 2015
Verse of the Day
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” [1 Samuel 16:7 – NKJV]
Most of you don’t remember the song “Heart,” but no matter. It’s from the musical Damn Yankees about a baseball player who sold his soul to the devil. Ironic, isn’t it? God is really the one who cares about your heart. Satan just wants your soul.
In today’s passage, God was rebuking Samuel, who, after looking at Eliab, David’s older brother, immediately assumed based on his appearance that he was the anointed one of God. As great a prophet as Samuel was, he was still human and prone to the same weaknesses and behavioral shortcomings that we all suffer from. Man judges based on physical appearance, while God judges based on the heart.
Our goal as Believers is to become Christ-like. To accomplish this we need to have a heart like our Lord and Savior. In Acts 13:22, God called King David “a man after My own heart.” This should be our calling too. Is it right for us to dare to be like King David, a great man of God? Well, I don’t know why not. Aspire to be the best you can be for your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Matthew 6:24 provides additional insight by telling us that, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” So we should love God completely with our whole heart. Let’s have none of this halfhearted stuff. That may very well lead to a deal with the devil.
Tuesday, March 10 2015
Verse of the Day
Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. [Proverbs 19:27 – NKJV]
You know, it’s a miracle that we ever learn anything in life. Very few of us have developed “listening skills.” We are far more interested in hearing our own voice than the voices of our fellow travelers. Once again the culprit is our sinful pride, our self-centered nature. We think we’re better than others and have an innate need to elevate ourselves over them.
Here are a couple of thoughts. First, pride is sinful. We are called to be humble before the Lord our God and before our fellow man. Being humble means “less of us and more of others.” The humble person has a natural desire to listen and to show respect to those around him. Second, a wise person will listen to others.
Calling listening a “skill” is a misnomer. The reason it’s a “skill that needs to be developed” is because so few of us do it naturally. So, we all need to make listening a natural part of our approach to life. You will never learn anything if you don’t listen to others. And that applies equally to the Word of God. If you want to grow in God’s Word you not only need to read it, but also listen when those who are wiser than you, a.k.a. teachers of the Word, are talking. Pay attention; you’ll be glad you did!
Monday, March 09 2015
Verse of the Day
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. [Matthew 6:24 – NKJV]
What’s really important to you in life? Everyone reading this has a standard of living that is light-years ahead of the rest of the world. Although Americans comprise about 6 percent of the world’s population, we have about half of the wealth. Let’s face it, every one of us has a lot of stuff. And, truth be told, we like our stuff, don’t we? We are, after all, a consumer society, and buying and accumulating stuff is the name of the game.
This is our way of life; it is the economic engine that keeps us going. Is it wrong? That’s not for me to say, but I will say this: It’s wrong when we as individuals become obsessed with our stuff. If our possessions become so important that the Lord our God becomes “less” important to us, then we have a real problem. Notice that I didn’t say unimportant. Most Believers think that as long as they love Jesus then all is okay, but is that really so? Is it enough to love God and your stuff in the same way? Is God satisfied if you love Him halfheartedly? Absolutely not! That was why God found that King David was “a man after My own heart.” David loved the Lord his God fully and completely. That is what we are called to do. We can’t serve two masters. What is stuff anyway? It’s just stuff! Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. So, what’s it gonna be?
Friday, March 06 2015
Verse of the Day
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. [Colossians 3:23-24 – NIV]
Are you having fun at work? Many people hate their job. Others, although they really enjoy what they do, go through periods of dissatisfaction. Sometimes work can be drudgery. Don’t forget that after the Fall, God made work more difficult for us. It’s not supposed to be easy and not supposed to be fun (by fun, I mean it’s not supposed to be a picnic). But, it is supposed to be satisfying and meaningful. So, if you hate your job or are just in a rut, read on.
The way to true job satisfaction is to ask the question “why are you working?” If your answer is “to make a lot of money” or “so I can make a name for myself,” then you are on the wrong track. Almost always, pride is at the center of destructive behavior. If we could only get ourselves out of the way we’d be a lot better off. The real answer to the question is that “we are working to honor and glorify God.” Once we focus on God at work and subjugate ourselves, we are filled with a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment. So work as if you were working for the Lord today. You’ll be surprised at the fun you’ll have!
Thursday, March 05 2015
Verse of the Day
Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. [Judges 2:18-19 – NIV]
You know, try as they might, the Israelites never got it quite right. They never did exactly what God commanded them to do. They always fell just a little short of the mark. They were a stubborn, stiff-necked people. We can trace this tendency towards disobedience to Moses and the Ten Commandments. No sooner did Moses start climbing Mount Sinai than the people clamored for a pagan idol and Aaron made a golden calf for them. And when they finally entered the Promised Land after wandering around the desert for 40 years (more disobedience), they failed to follow God’s command and did not drive out all of the nations that occupied the land.
And so, because of their disobedience, God caused them to be punished. Turning to the passage in Judges, we can see that the people disobeyed God by following other gods and generally ignoring His ways. God’s wrath poured out on them and He punished them by turning them over to their enemies. But God had compassion for His people, and so He raised up a judge to deliver them from their enemies. Then the judge died and the people would return to their evil ways. God would then raise up another judge. This pattern repeated itself throughout the book of Judges and in fact throughout the Bible.
So are we Believers really that much different? All I can say is thank God for Jesus. We are no longer faced with the repetitious, cyclical pattern of disobedience, sinful behavior, and restoration of a right relationship with God, which goes on ad infinitum. Our Savior, Jesus Christ put an end to this once and for all. But, that doesn’t mean that we can disobey and stray from God without consequence. Why would we want to? We need to trust and obey, and if we love God as we should (and again, why wouldn’t we?), then this is the inevitable consequence.
I think the well-known hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” says it best: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.”
Wednesday, March 04 2015
Verse of the Day
However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God. [Deuteronomy 20:16-18 – NIV]
Just what did the Israelites not understand about this command from the Lord their God? Here’s the setting: they were about to enter the Promised Land and God wanted to make sure that they remained a holy people who were totally devoted to Him. A critical part of this process was to ensure that they removed all of the temptations associated with the other nations they were displacing, most importantly their pagan cultures and gods. But, the Israelites really had a problem with obeying God’s commands fully and completely. They always did things halfway. So when they conquered the Promised Land they did not do as God commanded. They spared many of the peoples of the other nations that lived in the land and, by doing so, sealed their fate. They intermarried, started worshiping other gods, and eventually strayed away from the Lord their God.
This pattern of disobedience continues to haunt the Israelites throughout their history. For example, in 1 Samuel 15:22 Samuel confronts Saul about his not being fully obedient to God by failing to completely destroy the Amalekites. Saul had received direct orders to kill everything and instead he ignored God’s command and brought back some of the best sheep and cattle, supposedly as a sacrifice. Samuel chastised him by saying, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
Just like the Israelites, we find it difficult to fully obey God. He wants our entire heart, but all too often we give Him far less. He is our constant Rock; our cornerstone. We are weak and He is strong. Trust and obey Him! Don’t be tempted to ignore His Word. It is so good and so true! It is transformative (a fancy word for life-changing). What can be better than that? After all, that’s what we really need, isn’t it?
Tuesday, March 03 2015
Verse of the Day
Now the [Israelites] entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes… [Nehemiah 10:28-29 – NKJV]
After years of worshiping other gods and idols, the Lord finally lost patience with His Chosen People and their sinful ways and poured out His wrath on them by causing Assyria and Babylon to conquer the northern tribes and Judah, respectively. The Israelites finally returned to Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity in Babylon, first to rebuild the temple and then to repair the wall of Jerusalem under the leadership of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah and the other Israelite leaders got it. They know full well why the Lord their God had poured out His wrath on their ancestors. Let’s go back even further in time. When the Chosen People were about to enter the Promised Land, God wanted to make sure that they remained wholly devoted to Him. A critical part of this process was to ensure that they removed all of the temptations associated with the other nations that they were displacing, most importantly their pagan cultures and gods. But, when they conquered the Promised Land they did not obey as God commanded. They spared many of the peoples of the other nations that lived in the land and by doing so, sealed their fate. They intermarried, started worshiping other gods and eventually strayed away from the Lord.
So Nehemiah and the elders wanted to get it right the second time around. God had allowed them to return to Israel, but that wasn’t enough. God’s people had to restore their relationship with Him. They had to realize their previous sinful ways and take steps to ensure that this sinful behavior never happened again. The way to accomplish this was to remove the temptation by taking an oath to “not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons.”
They got off to a good start the second time around, but it didn’t last long and they were back to their same old ways. Like the Israelites, we are prone to wander. We don’t stay focused on the Lord our God for long, do we? So join me in praying that we will be consistent and constant in our Walk with Him!
Monday, March 02 2015
Verse of the Day
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. [Isaiah 5:20 – NIV]
I am not a theologian, but it is my understanding that almost all of the signs, predictions, and prophesies about the end times were fulfilled shortly after Jesus’ death and resurrection, and that Believers ever since have lived in eager anticipation of the Second Coming. Our lifetime is no different. Several more milestones have occurred.
One of the signs that the end times are upon us is an ever-increasing tendency of the secular world to consider right as wrong and wrong as right. There has been an acceleration of this in recent years. The print and broadcast media, educators, politicians, in fact all of the elite are caught up in the remaking of society. They are abandoning God’s ways in favor of those of the evil one. Most are doing this unconsciously; they are simply being duped. Look around you. Have you ever seen a time when more things that are wrong are being portrayed as right and more things that are right being cast as wrong? Acceptable behaviors, beliefs, and lifestyles are changing right before our eyes.
As disturbing as this is, we know that we are witnesses to the fact that another sign of the end times is being fulfilled, and can take comfort in that. But we have to constantly be on guard that we don’t get brainwashed by all of the media hype. More so than ever before, Believers have to test everything they read and hear against the Word of God. Just because something is portrayed as “gospel” on the network news hour doesn’t mean that it comports with what is right in God’s eyes. Welcome to the end times!