“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!
“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!
“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!
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!
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?
“‘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.
“‘Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, that I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightiest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee’” (Proverbs 22:20-21)?
God has given us an incredible book so that we could know the actual truth about what is going on around us both now, in the past, and also in the future! What an incredible book we have in our Bible! Why is it that we feel it is not enough? Why is it that we trust the internet before we trust the Bible? Why is it that we will trust what a friend tells us or a teacher tells us, or a person who is in the government tells us before we will trust the clear teaching in the Word of God? Shame on us!
I have heard some crazy theories about how things are happening around us, and when I ask where this information came from my jaw drops. I can’t believe how quickly we will trust the newspapers, the television reports, or something read on the internet. You know, just because they printed it in the newspaper, or broadcast it on the internet or TV does not make it true. I have had teachers tell me things in a classroom that I knew were false. I had the proof to show that they were mistaken. I am not trying to say that they are always wrong, but they are certainly not the absolute that I want to build my life upon.
I have been studying the Word of God since I could read. I am going to be conservative and say that I have been studying the Bible for over forty-five years, and I have found every word in the Bible to be trust-worthy! This verse tells us that God gave us this Book (the Bible) and filled it with counsel and knowledge. He has given us this book to help us to know with a certainly that the truth we all are searching for is found on its pages! He has given us this book so that we would be able to have an answer when someone approaches us with the questions.
I am convinced that more people are looking for the truth today than at any other point in the history of mankind. Some will tell you that there is nothing that is absolute truth, but these are the very ones who are searching so desperately for the truth. Read your Bible. Study your Bible. Know your Bible. If questions come up in your mind, ask someone for help. Teach others what you have learned from your Bible. The hope for our world is not found in the “things” in this world, or in this world’s wisdom. The hope for this world today is found on the pages of your Bible.
Why is it that we are so centered on ourselves all the time? It is because of the pride that is inside each of us. It is because of the sin nature we each possess. It is because when the Devil fell from Heaven, he introduced his desire to be equal with God to us, and we have believed that the universe revolves around us! Again, simply stated, it is sin. Today I read, “That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ” (Ephesians 1:12).
As much as we have a natural tendency to focus on ourselves, I believe it is important for each of us to make time to focus solely on our Heavenly Father each day! It is good for us to do exactly what this verse says we ought to do. We need to praise God for His glory. We need to stop looking for ways to promote ourselves and our desires and our agendas and begin to look for ways to make God look good. David Gibbs said something like, “Man’s goal in life ought to be to make God look good.” I believe that’s what this verse is saying to us as well.
When was the last time you used the word, “pride” when describing something you did, or to one of your family members? When was the last time you heard yourself saying something like, “I just need to brag on myself a little”? When was the last time you stopped saying something like that to say, “I’m thankful to God for …”? If you have anything that is good … if you have done anything that is worthy of the praise of men … if your children have done anything you feel is worthy of “bragging,” remember where the gifts and abilities that prompted those things came from.
The Devil has constantly promoted the idea that you and I are worthy of praise for something we have done. The reality is that when we do that, we have taken the praise that belonged to God, and we have stolen it for ourselves. That should not happen in our lives, but it is our natural sinful tendency. Unfortunately we have learned that behavior from the enemy of God, not from God Himself.
I don’t know what you’re good at, but I know that if you are good at something, it came as a gift from God. I don’t know what people might praise you for, but please deflect that praise to God. He is the Person that has gifted you to do the things that will draw praise. Make sure today that you return that praise to God. Make sure that when that prayer is answered that you have been asking Him for that you pause long enough to say thank you to Him for the provision. He is worthy of our praise!
When we were kids, we learned a little chorus that said, “Our God is so big, so strong and so mighty there’s nothing our God cannot do.” This is a very deep theological truth that even a child can understand. Today I read a simply, but incredible verse. We live in a time in the history of mankind, when he (mankind in general) believes that he knows everything, and that he doesn’t need the help or interference of anyone, or anything else. I am reminded more and more that I am in need … I cannot solve all the problems that face me … I cannot help those who are hurting … I cannot even help myself. My Bible says, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3).
Hallelujah! I don’t need to be everything … I simply need to know that God Who is great! I do know Him because He loved me so much that He sent His one and only Son to take my place of punishment on a cross! That is great! He not only loved me enough to save me from my sin, He also provides a way to live in His grace every day. That is great! He also provided me with a personal copy of His “love-letter” that I call the Bible. I cannot tell you how much I love this Book! It is my life, my encouragement, my challenge, my source of wisdom and many other things. That is great!
He also gave me an avenue to talk to Him directly, with no one else listening in. I know I’m going to sound old now, but when we were growing up; our telephone was a “party line.” This meant that we shared the phone line with other people. Sometimes I would lift the phone to call a friend (before cell phones … I know, I really am old), and I would hear a conversation already taking place on the phone. I would hang up and try again later. There were times I was talking and would hear a person pick up, and realize the same and hang up. I’m thankful that when I talk with God today, I can tell Him all my deepest secrets, fears and joys without anyone else listening in! That is great!
What I’m trying to tell you today is that there are so many great things about God. He simply is Great! I wanted to take a minute to talk about how great my God is. Not how great my football team is, or my government, or my job, or my ________. I love my God and want you to know that He is great! I want to lift His name high today. Will you join me?
“That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace” (Psalm 144:12). In the verse just above this one, David speaks of his fear of the “strange children” of his enemies. There is a definite distinction made between the “strange children,” and the “sons” that grow“as plants” and“daughters” that are “corner stones”, and “polished” stones. We all know that David had issues with his children … but his heart (that was called a heart after God’s own heart), was for his sons to grow up like strong plants and his daughters to be like polished stones and cornerstones.
It is important for us to understand that if we do not take the care necessary to raise our children in a godly fashion … the “strangers” of this world will be happy to do it for us. I want you to consider the role that parents are to take in the “planting” and “polishing” of their children. We have a responsibility to them, to raise them to be solid and strong in the days ahead.
It is interesting the word pictures that God uses in this verse. A plant takes a great effort to get it to grow strong. It takes a good deal of attention to make sure that that plant produces fruit. There is breaking up of the ground that is required. Sometimes in order to get the principles into our sons that we want, we need to break up a stubborn spirit. After we break up the ground, we need to plant a seed. Of course, the greatest seed we can plant in our son’s hearts is the Word of God. We then must make sure weeds do not choke out the good nutrients that the plant needs, and we need to water and sun get to it to help it grow. We need to help our sons choose good friends and provide good advice that will help them to have the greatest opportunity for success possible.
We are to polish our daughters so they can be good cornerstones. The process of polishing stones is really interesting. It involves placing the stones you want to polish inside a barrel with other rougher stones and water and allowing them to roll around and around while the rougher stones knock off the rough edges of the stone being polished. This means that we need to spend time with our daughters, helping them to recognize the rough areas of their lives and guide them to removing them. It also strikes me that the abrasive process produces the smoothest stone!
Both of these things take a great deal of time, but both are well worth the effort when the finished product is seen. Don’t take the easy path in life; give the effort needed to produce what God wants us to be!
I hated the game “Hide and seek.” There, I said it … I hated the amount of time when you were the “seeker” that you had to count while the others hid. I hated the time I had to WAIT for them to hide. The honest truth is that I didn’t enjoy the “hiding” part either. I would get in my spot and WAIT and WAIT … not my idea of fun. Actually, as an adult, I still have trouble WAITING. Today I read a verse that gives me a reason to WAIT on my Heavenly Father. “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him” (Isaiah 64:4).
Yes, I saw it too … if I want the blessings of God; I will need to WAIT for them. I don’t know about you, maybe you are very patient and you don’t mind the waiting part. I seem to be very impatient when it comes to things I want to see and also for the things I don’t want to see. Today I need to go to the dentist … I hate going to the dentist … I think I would rather go to the mortician. The waiting leading up to the appointment is something I do not enjoy. I also have things that I am very excited to see happen in my life. I have an equally hard time waiting for that to come.
I want to encourage you today (if you are like me) to patiently wait for what God has for us. We who are believers have an indescribable place waiting for us in Heaven. As this verse describes, our ears have never heard the beautiful sounds that Heaven will give us. Our eyes have never seen the spectacular sights Heaven holds for us. These are all dependent upon us waiting for the Lord. It is true; none of us will ever touch Heaven unless we have waiting on the Lord. Without Jesus Christ, our sin blocks any hope of an entrance into Heaven.
I want to end this devotional by encouraging those who are reading this that have been putting off a full trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior. Don’t wait! Today admit that you have sinned in your life. Recognize that God is perfect, and your imperfections cannot enter His Heaven. Accept the fact that Jesus Christ is the ONLY perfect sacrifice for your sin, and that He died in your place, and in payment for your sin. Believe with all your heart that Jesus rose from the grave bodily to secure your salvation. Don’t wait to ask Jesus Christ to forgive your sin; trust His payment for you; believe that His death, burial and resurrection were payment in full for you. Wait for His coming, but don’t wait to make Him your Savior! You won’t regret it.
Yesterday a dear friend of our family graduated into Heaven. We knew this day was coming for her, but we still grieved upon hearing the news. We do not grieve for her, but for we who remain here on this earth. As always, God’s Word perfectly speaks to what we are experiencing at this time. When a friend/family member leaves this earthly life to enter eternal life, it leaves us feeling a little strange. We believe that as Jesus rose from the grave; our saved loved ones have not tasted death at all. After all, He is the resurrection and the life. Any person that believes in Him will never die, but has everlasting life. So the struggle continues between what we can see, and what we believe. I will trust the Word of God before I will trust my own feelings or emotions. As I opened my Bible this morning, I needed some comfort from my Heavenly Father. The 142nd Psalm provided just that for me. Look at some of the highlights of this chapter with me today.
“I cried unto the LORD” (142:1) – Tears are bound to come in this life. We live a series of disappointments, failures, and challenges. Tears are going to come in every person’s life. I want to run to God with my tears. He is a faithful God Who will listen and provide me with answers to the challenges I am facing in my life. Run to Him with your tears today!
“I poured out my complaint before Him” (142:2) – I love this phrase … our God is big enough to handle all our complaints! He is not afraid of them, because He sees the big picture of all that is happening in the unfolding of His plan for our lives. Praise God for a place where we can go to unburden our heart!
“I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man …” (142:4) – This has happened to all of us who have gone through tough times. I was talking with my father upon hearing the news of our friend who just died, and we were talking about how it seems that the Lord draws nearer to us in the challenging times. When my mother stepped into Heaven, I wanted to shoulder part of the burden my father was carrying, but I could not, nor could any other man help. My Dad could look to the right and left and would find no man who could help. But that’s when our God steps in! He is there for us when no other person can help. “I cried unto Thee, O LORD: I said, ‘Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living” (Psalm 142:5). Praise God He is there!
“Over the sunset mountains someday I’ll softly go, into the arms of Jesus – He Who has loved me so.” – John W. Peterson