October 31 Devotional

The Word of God is divinely inspired.  That means that man, even though used as the human author, did not come up with the ideas that we find in the Bible.  How can we be sure?  Today I read from a book that Moses penned, and then from a book the prophet Jeremiah penned.  Moses wrote the book of Numbers somewhere between 1450-1410 B.C.  Jeremiah wrote the book bearing his name about 635 B.C.

 

Look at the similarity of these two passages.  Moses had sent twelve spies into the Promised Land, asking for a report on what they saw.  The spies all returned with a message of abundance.  Ten of the spies said they believed Israel could not overcome the inhabitants that were already entrenched in the land.  Two had faith … after the negative report came from the ten … “And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it’” (Numbers 13:30).  Caleb had seen the same giants in the land.  He had seen the same walled cities the others had seen.  He also knew the power of His God, and he was ready for the battle that would come.  The ten without vision turned the heart of the people away from this confident faith, and this is the reason Israel then wandered for forty years in the desert.  Jeremiah the prophet would write (some 800 years later), “But this thing commanded I them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be My people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But ye hearkened not …’” (Jeremiah 7:23-24a).

 

We are living more than 2,500 years later than this writing of Jeremiah, but we all seem to struggle with the same issue.  When are we going to learn that it is better trust God than to trust what our doubting eyes can see in front of us?  If God touches your heart to serve Him in a specific way today, don’t let your doubts about your abilities or resources stop you from serving today.  Doubt cost the Israelites forty years of living in a desert rather than living in that land that flowed with milk and honey.  Instead of eating manna and quail every day for those forty years, they could have had the best the land had to offer.

 

Think about the blessings you might have missed because of the doubt you allowed to block your path.  Don’t let the doubts and fears you have overwhelm the confidence you should have in God!  God is bigger than anything that might come in front of you in His will.  If God called you to go, He will provide all you need along the way.  Step out by faith today!

October 30 Devotional

When I was eight years old, my grandmother contacted my parents and asked if we would move in with her.  Her first husband had died of a wasp sting when my mother was only twelve.  My grandmother had married again, and her second husband died of heart problems.  After his death, she was unable to take care of the house they had purchased, and so she asked for our help.  We moved from our apartment to live there with my grandmother.  What a great privilege for a young boy to live with a grandmother who loved to tell stories of the past.

 

My grandmother was born in 1902 and remembered the first car, etc.  I would sit for hours listening to her stories of the past.  One of my favorite things was to hear stories about her first husband, my grandfather.  I never met him but had heard of his reputation for being a godly man and a man who was always whistling or singing.  I loved to hear the stories about how they raised their eight children based on the Word of God.  My grandfather was not saved until he was twenty-five, and he lived only another twenty-five years before dying of a wasp sting.

 

Today I read, “Thus saith the LORD, ‘Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.’ But they said, ‘We will not walk therein’” (Jeremiah 6:16).  When I read this verse, there were two things that really hit my heart like a sledge-hammer.  First was the admonition from God Himself to ask for the old paths.  I think that these “old paths” are the paths that God wants us to seek today.  I know there are a bunch of “new” idea’s and philosophies that are floating around our churches today, but I believe God would still encourage us to look for the “old paths.”  Instead of trying to figure out what new spiritual trend to follow, I think we all need to get back to the old paths of reading our Bibles; believing what it says; and then obeying what we have read without questions.

 

The second thing that struck my heart in this verse is that last phrase … “But they said, ‘We will not walk therein.’”  Who do we think we are to argue with God?  Why are we so brazen and so often thinking that we know better than God?  I don’t have the answer to these questions, but I do know that I struggle with this every day in my surrender of my will to the will of my Heavenly Father.  It is a constant struggle, but one worthy of fighting!  I want to surrender my entire will to the will of my Father today.  I want Him to control my life today and every day I have left to live!

October 29 Devotional

 

All my life growing up, I was one of the smallest, if not the smallest person in my class.  Even the girls were bigger than me.  I remember being the “joke” of my neighborhood for a whole summer when one of the neighbor girls punched me right in the nose.  Of course, when your nose gets hit it makes your eyes water … I was not crying … (I don’t think you believe me any more than my friends did when it happened).  Back to the point … as a result of being one of the smallest people in my class, I always made it a point to be friends with one of the toughest guys in the class.  This was my early form of life insurance.  However, every now and then, my “body-guard” was not available and I had to face trouble all on my own.

 

I am so glad to be a Christian.  There are many reasons I am glad I’m saved – obviously on the great blessings is eternal life and Heaven.  There is another major blessing to being saved that I want to focus on today.  “But let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice: Let them ever shout for joy, because Thou defendest them: Let them also that love Thy name be joyful in Thee” (Psalm 5:11).  Do you have troubles that are far too big for you?  Trust your strong Friend!  Do you have challenges that you cannot see you way through?  Trust your strong Friend!  Are you constantly bombarded with fears that sometimes get the best of you?  Trust your strong Friend!

 

The old hymn says, “What a Friend we have in Jesus … all our sins and grief’s to bear … what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!”  I agree!  What an incredible friend to have!  When I was younger and any kind of threat came my way, I would simply slide over closer to my “strong friend” and make sure the threat could clearly see his muscles.  I will admit that there were just times it was right to run!  Maybe this is why I developed such speed early in life … it’s called survival.  I am so thankful that knowing God has allowed me to stand firm, and not to run from problems.  I realize that my God is able to handle any challenger that might come my way.

 

The real challenge for me is to stay close to my God.  I want to walk so closely with Him that we can whisper secrets back and forth and know that the other hears them clearly.  I want to maintain the closest relationship with God so that when the difficulties come (and they are sure to come every day), I know where to find Him, and He knows where to find me.  I want to encourage you to make your friendship with God a top priority.  Nothing is more important than this in the world today.  Trust your strong Friend.

October 28 Devotional

But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for Himself; the LORD will hear when I call unto Him.  Stand in awe, and sin not: Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah” (Psalm 4:3-4).  I want to be a godly man.  I want to be a man that is known to walk with God.  I want to be a man who is so close to God that when He whispers something, I hear it like it was spoken over the loud-speakers.  I want to be a godly man.

 

The problem I have is that I want to be a godly man, but I am living in a sinful nature.  I am so thankful that Jesus saved me and that the Holy Spirit lives within me, but I am still involved in a spiritual warfare every day with the enemy that lives within me … me!  Some days I feel so defeated because I have yielded to my flesh and my fleshly desires.  I yearn to be a man of God.  I know that God wants the same thing for me.  He has provided me with this Bible sitting here in front of me.  He has opened an avenue of communication we call prayer.  He is willing to meet with me at any time of the night or day, if I will simply pause and pray to Him.

 

In order for me, or you to be considered godly, we must follow God’s road-map.  It is here in the fourth verse of the fourth psalm.  There are three key things that a person must do to be godly.  First, I must “stand in awe.”  It is amazing to me how gadgets can amaze us, and cause us to be in awe.  When we talk about the latest phone/computer/i-pod, pad, etc., we often stand in awe.  What about the fact that a righteous God found a way to offer forgiveness to an ungodly people?  What about the day the veil was ripped from top to bottom when Jesus died, exposing the previously hidden “Holy of Holies?”  What about the fact that we who deserved Hell, have now been given a ticket that is paid in full to walk on streets of gold?  These are awe-inspiring things.  Spend some time thinking about them today.

 

Second, I must “sin not.”  There is not a great deal of explanation necessary for this.  I need to live a life that is clean.  When I sin, I need to confess quickly, and run away from that sin as far as possible.  A godly person is not characterized by habitual sin.

 

Third, I must “be still.”  This sounds the simplest, but is often the hardest thing to do.  Notice in the verse above that we are to commune with our heart upon our bed.  Take time to reflect on your day as you lay upon your bed.  As God for forgiveness in weak areas; praise Him for victories through the day; and ask Him for a better day tomorrow.  Be a godly person!

October 27 Devotional

Ask of Me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psalm 2:8).  When was the last time you begged God to save someone?  When was the last time you woke up in the middle of the night with someone you know that is unsaved on your heart?  When was the last time you saw a missionary presentation and either asked God to save those people, or even offered to go yourself?  When was the last time you actually presented the Gospel to a person?  When was the last time you went forward and knelt at the altar begging God to give you some spiritual fruit in your life?

 

Life is far too short for each of us to let even one opportunity pass.  Time is one thing that can never be regained!  It would be great (as a few movies have suggested), if we could reverse time and go back to change some things we have done, or to take opportunities we have missed.  The reality is that we cannot do that; we must make good use of the opportunities we have in front of us today.  If we do not look for the opportunities that God will place in front of us, there is a chance that we could walk away from them without noticing.  It is important for us to ASK God to give us the opportunities and then to keep an eye open for them.

 

Some of the best opportunities to lead a person to Christ for me have come from the most unlikely situations.  I recall one time going to visit an elderly lady from our church in our local hospital.  When I entered the room looking for “Mrs. Jones,” I saw a man in the bed.  I jokingly said to him, “I’m sorry, I was coming to visit Mrs. Jones, but you are obviously not Mrs. Jones.”  He smiled and assured me he was not Mrs. Jones.  As I turned to leave the room, I stopped and turned back to the man.  I told him that there was a real possibility that God had led me to that room to meet him.  After a few minutes of explaining the Gospel to him, the man trusted Jesus Christ as Savior.  There are opportunities waiting … we ought to be asking.

 

There is one thing that is most precious to God today … it is not the value of the dollar, or the Euro, or the condition of the stock market, or the latest deadly disease.  The thing that is most valuable to God today is that person you will pass today who is without Christ.  God sent His only begotten Son to this sin-cursed earth to save sinners.  You and I will pass plenty of sinners today.  God has a heart for each of them … do you?  Ask God to give you that heart today and then begin to look for the opportunities He will place before you.  I know He will … He is not willing that any should perish!

October 26 Devotional

O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved.  How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee” (Jeremiah 4:14)?  Which are you involved in today … washing … or wasting?  It is clear that God has a plan for your life, and wasting is not a part of it.  There is such a temptation today to waste time.  Ted Camp once said, “Why is it that today we have more technology and we seem to have less time?”  It is true … we have technology that do all kinds of things for us, but we seem to have less time to do things than back in those days before all the machines were available.

 

If we are not careful we can become so consumed with the “things” that are happening around us that we waste incredible amounts of time on things that are without eternal value.  I believe that God has given each of us this precious time on earth to work for Him.  He has given us goals that He wants us to achieve with our lives, and plans that He wants us to carry out.  The problem is that we become consumed with minor issues and things, and we miss out on the major issues that God had for us to accomplish.

 

I can recall my days back in Bible College when I witnessed this happening first-hand.  I can remember walking into my dorm and seeing a group of guys sitting around one of my friends rooms discussing a “theological” question.  As I entered the room, I was confronted with the question … “Bracelin, are you a Calvinist?”  To which I honestly and completely replied … “No!  I’m a Christian!”  The reality was it was the first time I ever heard that word before.  I then was caught up for the next thirty minutes or so in the conversation around that topic.  By the way, I have since discovered what a “Calvinist” is, and I still do not want that label placed on me.  However … let’s not waste time discussing it here.  HA!

 

My point is that if we are not careful, we can spend hours discussing things that do not help us to “wash our hearts.”  God gave us a Bible that He desires us to study, know and apply to our everyday lives.  He wanted this Book to have a cleansing effect on our lives.  His desire was not for us to become so spiritually educated that we miss the simple, cleansing truths of our Bible.  He wants this Book to be applied to our lives in an everyday way so much that it will affect the way we think, act and speak.  Take your Bible today and apply it to your deceitful and desperately wicked heart.  I know your heart is just like mine … it needs cleaning every day.  The only thing that can do the work we need done, is the precious Word of God!

October 25 Devotional

Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand” (Psalm 149:6).  Be ready with praise to God and the Word of God close by in your hands!  Sounds like a Christian soldier ready for the enemies that are sure to come in this world today.  Two things that seem to be lacking in our lives (in a very general sense) are praise to God, and a good handle on the Word of God.  Recently a young man who is searching for answers from his Bible told me that he has been going from church to church looking for Bible answers to some deep questions in his soul, but he has found the churches he has attended to be more like concerts than church.

 

In my humble opinion, there is a tremendous amount of emphasis on spiritual entertainment in many churches today, and not so much on solid Bible teaching/preaching.  It seems that sermons have become sermonettes, and the beginnings of our services have become productions.  I was in a church not too long ago and was to be the speaker for the morning services.  An assistant pastor met with me to review the schedule prior to the first service.  The first thing I noticed was that the schedule was extremely detailed.  The second thing I noticed was that the music section of the program was a little longer than the time I was given to preach.  I do not mean to over-emphasize the teaching/preaching time in the service, but it seems that there is generally an imbalance in many services.

 

I also do not want to de-emphasize the importance of the “praise” part of this verse.  Again, my concern is that often our praise is what pleases us, without too much regard for what might please our God.  God made us to praise Him!  He has given us plenty of things to praise Him for … beginning with our salvation and going through all of the beauty we see in nature around us.  There is no way we could ever exhaust our praise of all He has done for us.  We need to spend more time in simply praising Him for what He means to us.

 

We also need to be able to handle the Word of God correctly.  There are many today that are promoting false doctrine and philosophies.  It is important for each believer to know what the Bible has to say about these issues, and be well equipped to defend the truths of the Bible.  We have been given a Bible that can pierce to the dividing of the soul and spirit.  It is able to discern what our motivations are and to guide us in the right paths.  We need to open it more.  We need to actually handle it more.  We need to memorize and obey it.  It should be in our hands daily!

October 24 Devotional

We seem to find all kinds of reasons why we will not talk to others about Jesus Christ.  The foundation that most of our excuses come from is generally fear.  Fear of rejection … fear of not knowing the answers when we need them … fear of what might come that we had not anticipated.  We often do not serve God because we fear people looking at us.  God instructed Jeremiah with these words: “‘Be not afraid of their faces; for I am with thee to deliver thee,’ saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 1:8).  Remember, Jeremiah often shared news of judgment coming.  He often stood for a righteous cause in front of unrighteous leadership.

 

Jeremiah certainly knew what it was like to face evil looks when delivering a divine message.  We must remember that the God Who made this promise to Jeremiah is still on the throne today!  That same God is well able to protect us and to shield us from the evil of this world today.  Don’t cower in fear today … stand up and be counted for Jesus Christ!  He will deliver you.  He always has delivered His children in the past.  The thing, or person you fear the most is very small when compared to our God.

 

While others feared the gaze of Goliath across that valley, David remembered the power of his God and charged ahead!  Gideon watched God defeat 135,000 Midianites with only 300 men!  Elijah saw God turn an entire nation back to Himself, even though there were 850 prophets and priests of Baal to defeat.  George Mueller saw God provide food for thousands of orphans for many years, simply by prayer.  Jim Eliot and his four friends, with eyes filled with love, gave their lives up so the Auca Indians of Ecuador could hear the Gospel.  The same men that killed them were eventually won to Christ!

 

The end of the first chapter of Jeremiah says, “’For they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee,’ saith the LORD, ‘to deliver thee’” (Jeremiah 1:19).  Remember today that there is nothing, or no one that can overcome you when you are depending on your God and serving Him completely.  There will be obstacles, and challenges that face you today.  There may even be people who are directly against the cause of Jesus Christ that you will face today.  Remember that God is well able to conquer any enemy that comes your way today.  The key will be to remain faithful and close to your God.  In that position, there is nothing that will come to you that has not first passed by the approval of God.  What a great comfort to know the Ruler of the universe personally!

October 23 Devotional

Have you ever seen a sweet looking, innocent child enter a neatly organized room, and leave with everything in a shambles?  It has happened to me when one of our sweet and precious grandchildren enters my office!  When we think about a “wrecking crew” we are normally talking about something in a negative way.  Two friends of mine work in demolition.  Most of what they do is tearing out old things that are not useful anymore, so that a company can re-build, or use that space for something more productive.  Jesus Christ has done exactly that for those who place their trust in Him.  “Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace” (Ephesians 2:15).

 

There was a huge wall that separated Jews from Gentiles in the days that Paul lived.  In fact, the Jews thought that Gentiles were worse than dogs, and would not even consider eating, or fellowshipping with them at all.  Gentiles generally felt the same about the Jews.  Each viewed the other as “second class” when compared to them.  When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He in effect, broke down the even bigger wall between a righteous God and us unrighteous people.  When looking at that bigger wall, it did not matter if your nationality was Jewish or Gentile … all were sinners and had come short of the glory of God!

 

Look at the beauty of this verse today, not as it regards Jews and Gentiles, but as it regards unrighteous you, and our holy God.  Jesus abolished this wall between you and God.  He terminated, he totally tore down and removed this wall between the Jew and the Gentile; between you and God.  How did He do it?  He took all the sin of the world; from Adam through the last person who will be born into sin; and with His own flesh, He paid the wages of our sin on the cross.  That’s wonderful, but it goes further than that … He did all this having completely satisfied all the laws God had shown to man!  He lived a perfect life all the way through the cross!  He abolished the law as well.  That does not mean that the law is of no use to us today, but it means that the wall of the law that had separated you and I from God has also been fulfilled, and in effect, removed!

 

He did all this to make ultimate peace … between the Jew and the Gentile; but more importantly, between sinful man, and holy God!  Are you looking for peace with God today?  It can only be found in Jesus Christ!  Many are looking for this peace in our world today.  Will you point them to Jesus?

October 22 Devotional

“‘For all those things hath Mine hand made, and all those things have been,’ saith the LORD: ‘But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My Word’” (Isaiah 66:2).

 

I want to be “THIS” man!  I want to be the man that God looks toward.  I want to be the man that gets the attention of God.  I love sports; I enjoy watching whatever game is being shown.  One thing I have learned to hate is the pride that comes along with sports today.  There is a great deal of thumping the chest … of pointing to their name on the back of their jersey … of pulling off the helmet to reveal their faces … of wearing fake glasses that have no glass in them …

 

What are they all trying to prove?  Oh … wait … I see some of those same things in churches today.  No, I don’t mean the same exact things, but I do see a movement to be noticed by those who are in attendance in the church meetings.  I see a good deal of music being sung and produced today that has nothing to do with focusing on God, and everything to do with focusing on the singer(s).  I see preachers who are more interested in hearing an “Amen” from the audience than in pouring his heart into the message God touched his heart with, regardless of how much the people hearing it “like” it.

 

Understand from this simple verse from the Old Testament book of Isaiah that the man (woman) that attracts the attention of God is not the one who is attempting to attract the attention of men.  Be careful … be very careful that you do not fall into this same trap that Satan presented to Eve in Genesis chapter three.  He told her that if she would eat that fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that she would be as gods.  God is not looking for people that are trying to promote themselves, He is busy looking for the person that is “poor” … and “contrite” … and “trembling.”  God is looking for a person who knows that they do not deserve anything from God except His righteous judgment.

 

I am fearful today that we are promoting self-promotion more than an attitude of poverty; a crushed spirit; and people who tremble at the Word of God!  We have drawn God down to where we are, rather than standing in awe of Who he is, and how poor we are when compared to Him.  Take the time today to ask God to humble you.  I know, this is not easy, nor does it come very naturally to us, but these are the qualities God will take notice of in your life.  Seek to please Him with these attitudes in your life today.