Category: Gospels

The wiles of the devil

Scripture reading for April 18: 1 Chronicles 17-21

We have an enemy who is known to be crafty and who uses schemes and strategy to gain access to God’s people.  His motive is to steal from them, kill them, and ultimately destroy their souls in Hell.  (John 10:10)  Several passages of scripture admonish God’s people to flee temptation and resist the devil.  (Matthew 6:13)  We are in a cosmic battle with evil forces of darkness and are in need of God’s help.

David was a man after God’s heart but he was also prone to temptation and did not always resist.  We all remember the time he stayed back in Jerusalem when his army went to war.  (1st Chronicles 20:1)  It is interesting to note that the incident with Bathsheba is not mentioned here.  But David came and took the crown off the head of the king of the Ammonites who Joab and the army had defeated.  This crown weighed around 75 pounds and was full of precious stones.  David placed that crown on his own head.  (1st Chronicles 20:2)

Right after this, David returned again to Jerusalem and Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census!  (1st Chronicles 21:1)  This was evil in God’s sight because it was motivated by pride and not by God’s direction.  (1st Chronicles 21:7)  It appears that  Satan gained an inroad in David’s life.  We know David was not fighting the Lord’s enemies but stayed home to engage in sexual sin.  He had Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, killed. He took this massive crown belonging to a pagan king and placed it on his own head.  After this Satan was able to incite him to sin that cost the lives of 70,000 Israelites!  Afterwards, David did repent and he bought the threshing floor of Arunah as a place of sacrifice for his sin.  This site became the site of the temple where God’s presence would dwell and where anyone who had sinned could bring a sacrifice with humility and find forgiveness and restoration! 

David’s latter Son, Jesus Christ, would offer Himself in this temple to be the final sacrifice for the sins of the world, bringing victory over Satan. Is there a ‘scheme’ of the devil that has hold on your life and is causing death and destruction? Resist the devil today by declaring the victory of Jesus and His blood!

1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in you faith, . .”

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Mighty men!

Scripture reading for April 17: 1 Chronicles 10-16

In today’s culture, men of God are often portrayed as not too bright, weaklings, or slightly effeminate.  Many men have lost their sense of identity when it comes to serving the Lord.  They tend to take a back seat to women and often fail to be the spiritual leaders of the home or the church.  The “mighty men” of king David would certainly not fit the current portrayal of men who serve the Lord.

The mighty men of David’s bodyguard knew how to fight and had courage!  Jashobeam, the chief of the officers, raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter! (1 Chronicles 11:11)  Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, was a valiant fighter who went down into a pit and killed a lion on a snowy day!  He also struck down an Egyptian who was seven and a half feet tall using only a club, and finished the job with the man’s spear. Three of the mighty men risked their lives to get David a drink from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!  David was so humbled that he poured the water out before the Lord. (1 Chronicles 11:17-19)

To be a mighty man today, we have to be just as tough as King David’s men!  We are in the army of God!  We are wrestling with principalities, powers, and rulers and authorities in the spiritual battle that is before us.  (Ephesians 6:10-18)  We need to have the full armor of God and wield the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, with skill and courage.  God has called men to lead in the home and the Church.  Men are to be men of prayer. (1st Timothy 2:8)  We are to be loyal and honor authority! 

God is looking for “mighty men” (and godly women) who will serve Him loyally and whole-heartedly!  If you are a man, offer yourself to be one of God’s “mighty men”!  If you have a husband or son who needs to make this kind of commitment, pray for him today in faith, believing that God is able to bring them into this place of honor!  One day we will hear our King say: “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things!  Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21)

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God keeps good records!

Scripture reading for April 16: 1 Chronicles 1-9

The first nine chapters of 1st Chronicles offer a challenge as to what we might learn from pronouncing hundreds of names, many that are unfamiliar to us.  Chronicles was written from the view of the priesthood and some think that Ezra helped compile this record.  Chronicles begins with Adam and gives a record of descendants right up to the exile in 586 BC.  This record is basically repeated again with additions right up to the time of Christ in Luke’s Gospel.  (Luke 3:23-37)  God keeps good records!

God listed all these people by name.  He also recorded some comments about certain individuals who were noteworthy.  Of the sons of Judah, Er, the first-born, was noted as being wicked and the Lord put him to death. (1 Chronicles 2:3)  Another man, Hezron, married at 60 years of age and had a son, Segub.  (1 Chronicles 2:21) In 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, Jabez cried out to the Lord for his blessing and an enlarged territory.  Jabez asked to have God’s hand with him and to be free from pain.  God answered his prayer! 

In the last section of this genealogy, there is a record of the sons of Levi.  The Levite families had assigned jobs to do in the temple and for the ministry to the Lord.  The house of Merari, for instance, was assigned to be musicians ministering before the tabernacle from the time of David.  (1 Chronicles 6:31-32)  Aaron and his descendants offered the sacrifices in the most holy place.  (1 Chronicles 6:49)  A later record in 1 Chronicles 9:17-27 describes Levites who returned from captivity in Babylon to be gatekeepers in Jerusalem and the house of the Lord.  A single man, Mattithiah, was a Levite who was put in charge of baking bread for the tabernacle.  That was his primary job.

What do we learn from all this detail?  God is a God of order.  He assigns jobs to His people according to their abilities and His needs.  He knows each by name and makes note of those who do well as well as those who mess up.  Each person is important and the job they are assigned is significant.  Take time today to thank God for the gifts He has given you.  Ask Him to show you the significance of your work and offer your gifts to Him to use for His glory!  Remember, God is keeping a record for Heaven!

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A God of His Word

Scripture reading for April 11: 2 Kings 9-12

My father was a man who was true to his word.  As I was growing up, he would buy and sell cattle worth hundreds of thousands of dollars over the phone.  He would call the banker and tell him how much he needed put into his bank account as a loan.  They would do it and he would always go in later and sign the note. It is a badge of honor to be a man of your word. This trait is honorable because God is also true to His Word! 

2 Kings 9:1-3 “Then Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets and said to him, “Tie up your garments, and take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead. And when you arrive, look there for Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi. And go in and have him rise from among his fellows, and lead him into an inner chamber. Then take the flask of oil and pour it over his head and say, “Thus says the Lord, I anoint you king over Israel.” Then open the door and flee; do not linger.”

The prophet Elisha sent a word with one of the members of the company of prophets.  He was to anoint Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat to be king over Israel.  He was also to give Jehu a mission of destroying the house of Ahab and Jezebel for their murderous and adulterous behavior.  (2nd Kings 9:6-10)  He told Jehu that dogs would devour Jezebel on the plot of ground at Jezreel that she had stolen from Naboth and that no one would bury her.  Jehu went to Jezreel, found Jezebel and had her killed.  As he rested, dogs came and ate up her body, as God had decreed. (2nd Kings 9:34-37)

Jehu went after the remaining sons of Ahab in Samaria.  He came to Samaria and killed all who were left of Ahab’s family.  This was according to the Word of the Lord spoken to Elijah the prophet. (1st Kings 21:20-22)  This word was given several years earlier but God’s Word remains true! God’s Word is the only source of ultimate truth. (John 17:17)  God is faithful to watch over His Word to perform it.  (Jeremiah 1:12)  Heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s Word will never pass away.  (Matthew 24:35) 

Are you known as a person of your word? If you are not, would you ask God for forgiveness and help to become more like Him? He has promised us that if we ask in faith, we will receive!

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The Power of our choices!

Scripture reading for April 9: 2nd Kings 1-3

“What can I do for you before I am taken from you?”  And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” (2nd Kings 2:9) 

This is essentially the same question God asked Solomon when He appeared to him a few years earlier. (1st Kings 3:5)  Solomon asked for wisdom to rule God’s people.  God gives us choices.  One of the tensions in Scripture is between our free will and God’s sovereign will.  God is sovereign but He has chosen to work with man who is made in His image.  Part of that image is the ability to make choices.

Elijah had been instructed by God to tap Elisha to take his place some ten years earlier.  Elisha was the son of a farmer.  He was plowing with 12 yokes of oxen–a big rig of that day!  (1st Kings 19:19)  At God’s instruction, Elijah threw his mantle over him.  Scripture records that he left his oxen and ran after Elijah.  Then he sacrificed his oxen, burning his plowing equipment to offer the sacrifice.  Choices have consequences and rewards and often lead to more choices.

As the time for Elijah’s departure drew near, Elisha had to continually choose to stay near his mentor.  Elijah kept asking him to stay away, but he kept insisting on staying.  If we are going to get all that the Lord has for us, it means we must persevere!  Elisha asked Elijah for the double portion of his mentor’s spirit.  Elijah could not give that himself.  It must come from the Lord.  Elijah gave him a word of knowledge–that if he could see him when he departed he would have what he asked for.  (2nd Kings 2:10-12)  As they walked on together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and Elijah was taken to heaven in a whirlwind right before Elisha’s eyes and the mantle fell to earth!  It was an exciting exit for the prophet Elijah and an exciting transition for the prophet Elisha as he picked up the anointed mantle and began to do greater things than his mentor!

Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the final word from God. He has told HIs disciples to ask Him for whatever we need and He will do it.  (John 14:14)  He has given us the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and bring forth the gifts of the Spirit as they are needed to glorify the Lord.  He has told us, that we will do even greater works because He has gone to the Father.  (John 14:11-14)  Ask the Lord today for what you need!  How much more will God the Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask! (Luke 11:13)

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Provision in ‘dry’ times!

Scripture reading for April 6: 1st Kings 17-19

In 1975, our family went through a drought on the farm.  It rained early in the year, but then quit after the crops were in.  June and July had almost no rain and the corn grew and tasseled, but did not produce silks.  Ears formed but no kernels were on the cobs.  It looked very bleak for feeding our animals and paying the bills.  The soybeans were shorter than usual, but it rained in August when they were blooming and they produced a good crop.  God provided for us in the drought that year! Praise the Lord! 

1 Kings 17:1 “Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before Whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”

Elijah announced to King Ahab that no rain or dew would fall from the sky except at his word for the next few years. He then left in obedience to the Lord, trusting God for His promised provision.  God commanded ravens to feed him by the brook in the Cherith ravine.  After a rainless few weeks, the brook dried up and God sent Elijah to a widow’s house in Zarephath.  This widow was so poor that she was gathering sticks to cook her son a last meal from a nearly empty jar of flour and oil.  Elijah asked her to bring him a little water and a piece of bread.  He encouraged her not to fear, that God would provide for her until the rains came again.  She obeyed and God provided meals for nearly three years from that empty flour bin and oil jar. “Give and it will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)

The times we live in are also dry in many ways.  Our economy is very weak and many are hurting financially. God’s judgment has fallen on our country that has turned to idols.  In times like this, we must listen to the Word of the Lord!  It is imperative that each person hears the instructions God has for them.  We must always give to God first and God will provide for us.  The widow was taken care of during the drought because she took care of the prophet.  Dry times need not be a problem if we walk with God!

Are you going through dry times in your own life? Have you sought God for His instructions to meet the needs you have? Are you willing to give your little to God first to see a miracle of multiplication?

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Glory in the Temple!

Scripture Reading for April 3: 1st Kings 5-8

Solomon had heard God’s decree that he would build the house where God’s Name would reside among His people.  He had a vision and at God’s invitation had asked Him for wisdom.  He knew of the desire of his father David and willingly offered himself to the Lord to build this “House”.  (1st Kings 5:5)

In building the temple, Solomon employed many people.  Some came from lands outside Israel.  Solomon made covenants with many nations and the nations were drawn to Israel during this time of peace. The temple was made of stone, cedar and pine wood, and precious metals.  Craftsmen worked off site on the stones so that the temple could be assembled without saws, chisels or hammers used on the site.  (1st Kings 6:7)  The temple took seven years to construct with thousands of workers meticulously adding every piece and detail in precise order and design. (1st Kings 6:38) 

When the temple was completed, the priests carried the Ark into the Holy of Holies and then withdrew.  None could stand as the Presence of God in the cloud of Glory filled the temple. (1st Kings 8:6-11)  Solomon declared a blessing and thanked God for His faithfulness! Solomon then knelt down, raised his hands toward heaven, and prayed a magnificent prayer of dedication!  In this prayer are eight petitions of God to “hear from heaven” when His people call upon Him for help.  The central focus was forgiveness!  All of man’s troubles are caused by sin, either against God or man made in God’s image.  The consequences of sin bring famine, disease, plague, war, and death.  As God’s people cry out, God’s glory is that He will hear and forgive and act to bring healing and restoration!

Solomon also prayed for the foreigner and those drawn to the temple from other lands and peoples.  Solomon asked God to hear their prayer as well so all peoples of the earth might know His Great Name and fear the Lord!  (1st Kings 8:41-43, 60)  This prayer reminds us of Jesus sending his followers into all the world to make disciples of all nations! His house would be a house of prayer for all nations!  (Mark 11:17)  Examine your heart today as the temple of God. Would your house be a house of prayer for all?

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Sunday rest and reflection–Resurrection

Matthew 28:1-7 “Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus Who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him.”

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Mary and I wish each of you a blessed Resurrection day, as we celebrate the most powerful event in human history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave! “He is risen” was the message of the angel to the first women visiting the tomb to anoint His body. That cry brings us to worship our King, Son of David, Son of God, Who alone defeated the “giant” of sin and death and the grave. He is alive and shows Himself to all who will humbly seek Him.

The Son of God came to dwell among us and reveal the heart of His Father–love for us through His earthly ministry and compassion for our fallen nature. This love caused the Father to give His Son, Jesus Christ, the mission of taking the sins of all people and paying the penalty for our sins through sacrificial death on the cross. Jesus, Alone, did for us what we could not do for ourselves. It is not our good works, our family, our knowledge or position, our church membership, or even our confession of faith that saves us. We are saved by His finished work of paying for our sins on the cross and by His grace extended to us through His intercession and drawing us to repentance and faith.

May God’s amazing grace fill your life today with obedience, faithfulness, and worship with His family as we all gather to declare “He is risen indeed!” Amen! Pastor John and Mary

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Extravagant grace

Scripture reading for March 27: 2nd Samuel 8-10

2 Samuel 9:6-7 “And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul you father, and you shall eat at my table always.”

David was a warrior and strong man of God.  He was always ready to fight the Lord’s battles and sought the Lord for most of his battles.  He had been involved in a struggle for leadership of the nation following the death of Saul and Jonathan, his friend.  God had brought David victory over Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth.  Now David was king, and one of the first acts of his rulership was to seek out any relatives of Saul or Jonathan that he might show kindness to based on his covenant promise to Jonathan. (2nd Samuel 9:1)

One son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth, was still around and he was crippled in both feet from a fall.  David sent for Mephibosheth and greeted him warmly.  He restored all his grandfather’s land and property and placed Ziba, his servant, in charge to work the ground for him.  He gave Mephibosheth a seat at the king’s table like one of David’s own sons! (2nd Samuel 9:7)   This covenant kindness from King David towards a rival was unprecedented.

King David’s actions are much like that of our gracious God!  God honors those who are in covenant relationship with His Son Jesus Christ.  When we are crippled because of sin, He takes us into His house and seats us as one of His own sons.  He restores our property to us and lavishes us with blessing and restoration.  (2nd Corinthians 5:17) We have this amazing kindness and mercy that we can never repay!

Is there someone that you can show kindness towards today? How has God’s covenant mercy affected you ability to forgive those who have wronged you? Can you show mercy for Jesus’ sake?

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Friends that bless

Scripture reading for March 21: 1st Samuel 20-23

1 Samuel 18:1 “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” 1 Samuel 23:16 “And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God.”

When I was in school, I had a best friend named Kendal and we were in the same class from kindergarten until our junior year of high school.  We tried to sit together and be together.   We camped out during the summer and loved to hunt birds and fish.  We often shared our hearts with each other.  Kendal was drafted into the Army and went to Vietnam.  I had gone to college and had enlisted in the Iowa National Guard.  Kendal gave his life serving our country.  I had the privilege of being a pall-bearer at his funeral!  Best friends are hard to find, and even harder to loose!

David and Jonathan were best friends.  The Scripture records their love for each other and how their hearts were knit together.  (1st Samuel 18:1-4) Jonathan was Saul’s son and the probable heir to the throne of Israel.  David was a shepherd and musician who God had selected to be the next king of Israel.  God placed David in Saul’s court to prepare him for his kingship.  Jonathan recognized the favor of the Lord on David and was drawn to him in a covenant love.  They became best friends and shared their hearts with each other.  They made a covenant to help each other and even their extended families.

King Saul became jealous of David’s reputation and was afraid of David’s anointing.  He was insecure and tormented by an “evil spirit from the Lord” because he was in rebellion.  (1st Samuel 17:14, 23)  David played his harp and the evil spirit would leave for a time.  The evil spirit would return and sometimes turn murderous towards David.  Saul tried to kill him on several occasions and David was forced to flee.  Jonathan always tried to patch things up or help his friend. 

Finally, David realized that King Saul was going to kill him.  Jonathan tried one more time to patch things up, but was himself attacked with a spear by his own father!  Jonathan sent David away with tears and reaffirmation of their friendship. (1st Samuel 20:41-42)  When he could, Jonathan would slip away and meet with David.  He always encouraged him in the Lord!  (1st Samuel 23:15-18)

We have a Friend in our Lord Jesus Christ!  He is faithful and true to us, even when the going gets rough!  He provides encouragement and shares his armaments with us!  We can call on Him at any time and he will come.  He will warn us of danger and help us to either face it or escape.  He is a friend by covenant and promises to help our descendants as well!  Praise the Lord–He has called us friends!  (John 15:15-17)

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