SCRIPTURE FROM: 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 (TLB)
TEXT: 13 If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust swarms to eat up all of your crops, or if I send an epidemic among you, 14 then if my people will humble themselves and pray, and search for me, and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear them from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land.
OBSERVATION: To build an awesome sanctuary, like Solomon did, and receive the blessings of God on it, must have been overwhelming for Solomon. But it was also made clear to him by God that the beautiful temple would not exonerate the people, should they continue in sin. In fact, God even warned that at times He may have to perform certain acts to get their attention, however in His love and compassion, He also gave Solomon the formula for the people to reconcile themselves with Him again. This living, loving, and caring God that we worship, has not changed, and I believe that He is just as ready to forgive us today, if we will also seek His face.
APPLICATION: At times we may sit and ponder the trials that we face personally, then if we consider friends at church and all that you are praying for with them, you may wonder: “where is God?” After reading this Scripture today, I believe that we should be ever so thankful for the awesome God that we serve, for we are told that in spite of the beautiful sanctuaries we build, yet God will still finds ways to get our attention. However, He showed Solomon how the Israelites should recognize the correction of God, then how they should humble themselves and pray – in other words, don’t go before God in pride or as a know-it-all. But seek His face and ask His forgiveness, turn away from their sin and get over themselves. Then God – only God, will hear from Heaven and heal their land. Friends, we can hardly watch television news for the constant bombardment of crime that goes on in each of our communities. Could this be the correction of God for us? Have you tried humbling yourself before God, seeking His face and asking Him for His forgiveness? I can only assume that often we try to exclude ourselves from the sin, because we are far removed from the crimes. However, in all sincerity I believe that God is the only one excluded. For Christians allowed certain laws to be approved by sitting back and convincing ourselves that it was not meant for us, or we don’t want to offend others that could be impacted. Friends, its time that we stand up against sin and take responsibility for the evil works of Satan in our communities. It’s me – standing in the need of prayer. It’s you (Christian) – standing in the need of prayer. The verse states that ‘If MY people….’ – that’s you and I Brother and Sister. Let’s do our part, then we will be amazed at what God will do with His part!
PRAYER: Thank You Lord, for Your blessings on me, and I believe that each of my readers could give an ‘Amen’ to that also. Thank You for getting our attention, and thank You for giving us the secret on how to adjudicate ourselves, so that You may hear from heaven and resume blessings on our families, our churches and our country. Lord, You are good, and Your faithful mercies last for evermore. I love You Lord! AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: Acts 20:28-30 (NIV)
TEXT: 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
OBSERVATION: Paul called the elders of the Ephesian church together, as he was about to leave town. I wonder if they were aware of the items that Paul was about to warn them about? However, Paul wanted to make sure that they were aware of the challenges they might face, so he wanted to part some advice to them on those challenges. Knowing that our local churches today run so smoothly, with all ‘sheep’ super excited about they Lord and therefore getting along with each other, I know that it will be challenging to apply the truth declared in this passage, but let’s try!
APPLICATION: Churches today split over such minor things, that I believe we could easily reflect on what God may have been showing Paul, and encouraging him to mentor the leaders he had developed in Ephesus. I believe that the easiest thing for church leaders to do today, is to bury their heads in the sand and falsely see everything working to the growth and benefit of the gospel at their church. Friends, I hate to burst your bubble, but if that’s happening, then the gospel of Jesus Christ is not being declared without compromise. For when the Word of God is preached under the inspiration and power of the Holy Spirit, then it will cause men to whimper in their seats and hang their heads in shame. So what exactly might be considered ‘Savage Wolves’ in our churches today? How about: a). Gossip about pastors and elders; b). Teaching or preaching being so worldly based that the Word of God is hardly opened; c). Small Groups’ teaching material without the knowledge, or approval of church leadership; d). No follow-up or accountability to unbelievers attending, or on folks who are struggling; e). Members with other priorities, such as sports, fishing, hunting, etc; or f). lack of commitment to prayer, daily devotions, attending church, visit shut-ins, etc. It is so sad that often people have heard about the Lord, know His power, and will call on Him every time there’s an issue, but don’t expect to see them doing anything in return. Thankfully our God is much more forgiving than most of us, so He stands ready to receive Christians who have fallen prey to the above, and are now ready to serve God faithfully. Run to Him child of God, for the Savage Wolves’ are lurking at every point to distract you from your commitment to your Savior.
PRAYER: Lord, we need You today more than ever before, for Satan has ramped up his attack on Your children. Please help us to be quick to run to You for help. We know that only You can fight the likes of Satan, and we know that anything that serves to pull us away from You, is of the Devil. Lord, we commit ourselves to You again, and we pray that our relationship with You will become so strong that Satan will have to clear all attacks through You before he could lay a hand on us. For I ask all this in the all powerful name of Jesus, my Lord. AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: Acts 20:8-12 (TLB)
TEXT: 8 The upstairs room where we met was lighted with many flickering lamps; 9 and as Paul spoke on and on, a young man named Eutychus, sitting on the windowsill, went fast asleep and fell three stories to his death below. 10-12 Paul went down and took him into his arms. “Don’t worry,” he said, “he’s all right!” And he was! What a wave of awesome joy swept through the crowd! They all went back upstairs and ate the Lord’s Supper together; then Paul preached another long sermon—so it was dawn when he finally left them!
OBSERVATION: Paul was indeed a special messenger of God. He was about to leave Troas, but wanted to enjoy the Lord’s Supper with the saints there before he left. That service grew into a time of Paul sharing the Word of God, and before they knew it, midnight was upon them, and folk were falling asleep, with particular attention on a young man who was sitting in the window. Of course Eutychus fell from the window after falling asleep, down three floors to his death. God used Paul to revive this young man. I believe that many question today, why won’t He also use us like He did with Paul?
APPLICATION: I believe that the question at the end of my Observation is a good one, why won’t God use us to perform miracles? Let me continue with a deeper self examination, hoping that we can get to the root of the problem: Why won’t God use me to speak the truth of God to my unsaved family members? Why won’t God promote me to a place of recognition by my fellow employees, that I’m a child of the King? Why won’t I testify of His mercy at our midweek or Sunday evening service? Why won’t God reveal Himself to me when I read His Word each day? Why won’t He answer my daily prayers to Him? Why won’t He give me the words to share when I meet friends at the store or restaurant? Why won’t He respond to my need to be prepared before I leave home for worship? Why do I get antsy when the preacher takes our service over the hour mark? Friends, could the answer to any of these questions be that it’s because you never do many of those things and therefore never take time to ask God to bless you in those ways? I know, doing any of these things I mentioned will not save you, right? In all humbleness, may I suggest that if you had a sincere relationship with the King of this universe, you would be asking for most of these things, because you would be so anxious to be in His presence and complying with His perfect will for you. For the child whose parent(s) are still alive, or for the spouse whose partner is still alive, don’t you try every day in every way possible to please them? Won’t you also want to do the same for the Prince of Peace, who sacrificed His life at Calvary just for you, because He wanted to ensure that you have everything you need to enter heaven’s gates to spend eternity with He and His Father? Read more into the Scriptures about Paul, and you will find that he went through immense struggles, and beatings, and jails, and mockeries for his faith in God, yet he stayed strong and unmovable in his faith. God may not be using us in the same way that He used Paul, because He may still not be convinced that we love Him more than anything or anyone in this world, and are willing to sacrifice anything in order to serve Him better, or more. Draw close to God, and He will draw close to you my friend.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You are so merciful and wonderful to me, yet I fail You in so many ways. Please forgive me and draw me close to You. My readers and I want to present ourselves as holy sacrifices to You, knowing that we can only do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We need You today Lord. Please guide us unto total Truth and embolden us to be Your witnesses wherever we go. You’re the One that matters oh Lord, and we need You more today than ever before. Into Your hands we commit ourselves anew. AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: 1 Chronicles 28:9-10 (AMP)
TEXT: 9 “As for you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father [have personal knowledge of Him, be acquainted with, and understand Him; appreciate, heed, and cherish Him] and serve Him with a blameless heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and minds, and understands every intent and inclination of the thoughts. If you seek Him [inquiring for and of Him and requiring Him as your first and vital necessity] He will let you find Him; but if you abandon (turn away from) Him, He will reject you forever. 10 Consider this carefully, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. Be courageous and strong and do it.”
OBSERVATION: David was ‘a man after God’s own heart’, so we should pay close attention to his actions and his words. In these two verses we could tell how closely in tuned he was with God, because he spoke to Solomon as if directly from the lips of God. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had an individual like David in our lives, who would be so open with us and share so honestly with us what God revealed to them, and especially what He revealed to them about us?
APPLICATION: For any of us that have, or had, parents that were so close to God that they would speak words of wisdom to us, and try to enrich our spirit at every opportunity with the love, protection and wisdom of God, we are truly blessed! Wouldn’t we have a special appreciation for them, and develop a spirit of trust, love and respect for them, that we would easily listen and quickly follow their advice? From memories of answered prayer, don’t you know that we would make it a point to follow their advice and return love to them in every way possible? Friends, as we meditate on these verses today, I believe that we will also receive a clear understanding of the intimacy of a true relationship with our Lord. For as we are filled to overwhelming with the Spirit of God and the sweet fellowship of His Holy Spirit, not only will it impact our own lives, but we would have a deep and sincere desire to see friends and loved ones do the same. I love the way that the Amplified Version of the Bible helps us to soak in the real meaning of every word, that we might otherwise have quickly read over and not given much thought to. I believe that these words that David shared with his son, are intended to enrich our experience with God and with each other. Who are you praying for, and when last have you gotten with them to see how they’re doing, and what God may have given you to share personally with them? Doesn’t it seem like this world has sucked us into the busyness of its demands, that we hardly have time in our busy schedules anymore to visit, or even call family and friends to show that we care, or to tell them what we feel God is saying to them? I’ve always said that it’s not a matter of time, but of priorities. So will you end the day in prayer by telling God that it really wasn’t a priority to visit that Sunday School member in hospital today? What if He challenged you back by suggesting that your television wouldn’t work tomorrow so that that member will receive more priority from you than the Olympic games? Please know that only God is perfect, so your Brother is being preached at just like you, as we think about the things that please God. I will end by repeating to us what God said through David to his son – Be courageous and strong and just do it!
PRAYER: Lord God, I am so sorry that we confuse priorities with the familiar excuse that we didn’t have time to do Your work. Please help us to practice changing our vocabulary to help us realize the impact of not making Your work a priority in our lives. May the work of Your Holy Spirit be evident in our lives today oh Lord, and may we always prioritize Your work above all else. All for Your glory, Your honor and Your praise, AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: Acts 18:5-6 (NLT)
TEXT: 5 …Paul spent all his time preaching the word. He testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed and insulted him, Paul shook the dust from his clothes and said, “Your blood is upon your own heads—I am innocent. From now on I will go preach to the Gentiles.”
OBSERVATION: Paul was a very patient evangelist of the Gospel of Christ. He had a passion for reaching the lost, and also those who allowed other teachings to hide them from the truth of the Gospel. However, he was a very smart man, and one who was closely in tuned with the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore Paul realized that he could not force anyone to believe on the name of Jesus, so he allowed God to direct him when to move on, so that the people would feel the absence of the Savior. This is still very prevalent today, so let’s dig deeper into this.
APPLICATION: One of the most joyous occasions in a church is to help welcome a new pastor to serve at your church. For those who dig in and work along with the pastor to accomplish the work of the Lord in His local church, one of the saddest events in a church is when a pastor feels compelled to leave your church. Way too often, it’s for reasons very similar to the scenario faced by Paul, for the people are steeped in tradition and refuses to accept the love and preaching from men who, they feel, don’t fit the mold of their personal ideals for a ‘perfect’ pastor. Unfortunately, this could mean that in spite of their gentle heart for the Lord and His work here on earth, yet the man presenting the gospel is a mortal man, and this is often reflected through his casual talk; the friends (church members) that he hangs out with during his downtime; the jokes that he uses to help demonstrate or illustrate the story being preached that day; and the casual dress throughout the week is even being brought into the pulpit. However, he has a passion for the lost; he is a student of the Word of God and faithfully communicates with God about His perfect will for your church. Friends, these same pastors leave our church because of silly things that hurt them and their family, and they go on to another church where God is at liberty to work through them to reach the people of that community. Often these pastors brush the dust off their feet when they leave your church – the dirt of distrust; lack of communication; lack of acceptance and cooperation; excessive gossip about them and/or their family; refusal to allow God in and use you as part of the ministry at your church. Oh that we might remember that we are all equal at the foot of the cross. While here on earth we should be preparing ourselves, with the help of God, to see our old selves changed into the likeness of God as we prepare for that day when we will see Him face to face. Our time here should now be spent getting rid of old habits and the tricks we played on people that hurt them so badly. Our time should be spent in developing an attitude like that of Christ, and getting along with all men and women, even those that the world might look at and wonder why do we bother. Friends, I wonder if the blood of others may not sometimes be upon our shoulders it we had a part in steering them away from the gospel of Jesus Christ.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, it is so challenging to live here on earth and imitate You in every way. Often we find many excuses and reasons why we can’t, but Lord I humbly plead that You would melt our hardened hearts so that we might see our old selves with its flawed character, step aside as we assume the life that You have given to us and demonstrated for us. People need the Lord. They need to see You. They need to hear from You. If that’s not happening through us, then please teach us to step aside and not be a stumbling block to those You are trying to reach. I pray that You might be able to use me Lord, but I would rather Your will, not mine. To God be the glory, for all that You will accomplish! AMEN!