Category: Romans

The answer to life’s meaning!

Scripture reading for July 13:  Ecclesiastes 7-12

This quest of Solomon to find meaning is played out every day in our world.  People are going to and fro seeking pleasure, wisdom, meaning and purpose in life under the sun.  They are trying wine, women, sports, building, materialism, and fame to find happiness and fulfillment. Many are laughing and appearing to have fun, but it is shallow and meaningless.   Many are in bondage to sins of the flesh and are miserable.  They go from one form of bondage to another looking for that elusive fulfillment that can only be found in God Himself!

Solomon tells us that the day of death is better than the day of birth.   Death takes away every man and their works will stand judgment.  Being mindful of this should give us motivation for righteous living here and now.    There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right all the time and never sins. (Ecclesiastes 7:10; Romans 3:23)  Solomon found that God had made men upright, but that men in their folly had gone in search of many schemes!  (Ecclesiastes 7:29)  How true of man throughout history and today!

No man knows when the hour of his end will come.  Things don’t always turn out according to a movie script where the good guy wins and the evil person is destroyed!  “The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11)  No one really knows the future or what it holds.  Accidents can come suddenly and death can snatch us from this life without warning!   “As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.” (Ecclesiastes 9:12)

“The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails–given by one Shepherd.  Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.  Of the making of many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.  Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or bad.” Ecclesiastes 12:11-13

Solomon concludes his book with a simple warning.  Have you found true meaning in life here on earth? Are you still searching in all the wrong places? Turn to Jesus Christ today and ask Him for mercy and a new beginning! He lovingly took the penalty for your sins and offers you eternal life in Father’s house!

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The star-breathing God!

Scripture reading for June 8: Psalms 31-35

Psalm 33:6,8 “By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host. . . .Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him!

The Psalms reveal a lot about the character, power and majesty of the God we worship.  God is the subject and object of these writings quite often, and Psalm 33 is especially rich in revelation!  It is one of my personal favorites!  It begins with music–singing, shouting, and instruments played skillfully!  It is fitting to begin with praise and worship when we contemplate the majesty of God!

God is first commended for His Word.  God can be depended on to do what He has said.  He made the heavens by His own Word.  When He spoke, the psalmist states, God breathed out the starry host!  When we think of the vast universe with it’s countless stars, galaxies, and star clusters, stretching out for billions of light-years, we can only worship in awe and holy fear!  He speaks and out of nothing, stars and galaxies appear!  His Word holds the universe together and is the agent that brings faith to those who will hear Him!  (Romans 10:17)  (Colossians 1:17)

God is in total control of the earth and all it’s peoples!  He knows how to stop nations and people from interfering with His plans.  His plans and purposes are established firmly forever!  The nation that serves the Lord will be blessed because that is His plan!  God is watching over mankind and knows everything that is happening.  He knows the hearts of all men and is looking for those whose hearts are sold out to Him.  He will show Himself strong for them! (Psalm 33:18-19)  He will save them and preserve them!

As we contemplate the truths of this psalm, we gain an understanding of the magnitude of the God we worship!  Faith begins to grow that He is truly in control!  No purpose of God can be stopped!  He knows how to stop nations that are going against Him.  He knows how to bless people who are sold out to Him! 

We wait in hope for the Lord’ He is our help and our shield.  In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.  May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22

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What is a ‘fool’?

Scripture reading for June 5: Psalms 13-18

“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”  They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” Psalm 14:1

The fool in Scripture is the one who denies the existence of God.  Why would anyone want to deny that God exists?  Hasn’t God placed eternity in the hearts of all men? (Ecclesiastes 3:11)  Isn’t God evident to all through creation?  (Psalm 19:2-4)   The reason this kind of fool exists isn’t because of an intellectual problem.  It is something much deeper than that!

According to Psalm 14, the reason the fool says that there is no God is because of corruption of character.  These people are vile and do not do anything that would be considered ‘good’ in God’s sight.  These people avoid seeking God so that they do not have to answer for their wicked deeds.  They prefer their corruption and want no ‘God’ to interfere with their evil ways and thoughts.  It is convenient to do away with God or any knowledge of Him, thinking this liberates them from responsibility and judgment.

The Apostle Paul describes the fool’s way of thinking in Romans 1:18-23.  These people have known about God and His ways but have suppressed this truth in unrighteousness.  Having suppressed truth, the lie of their own ‘godhood’ based on their own futile thinking darkens their hearts and souls.   God allows them to follow their darkened understanding and worship creatures and creation rather than the creator. 

The next step is sexual perversion.  (Romans 1:24-27)  When a person rejects God because of their wickedness, God allows that person to be deluded and go deeply into perversion and further depravity in the breaking of God’s laws.  This results in all kinds of sexual sin, lying, greed, envy, malice, strife,  and idolatry.  This is where every ‘fool’ in Scripture ends up without the grace of God.

There is no excuse for staying a fool however, for God is always ready to save, heal and forgive.  We must humble ourselves and admit that He exists and that He will reward and forgive those who seek him.  (Hebrews 11:6)  If you have been foolish in your words or attitudes about God, take time today and repent.  God is faithful and just and will forgive you!  (1st John 1:7-9)

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God turns the tables!

Scripture reading for May 15: Esther 5-7

“If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it; if a man rolls a stone, it will roll back on him.” Proverbs 26:27 “An evil man is snared by his own sin, but a righteous one can sing and be glad.” Proverbs 29:6

We must be careful when we plot revenge.  All judgment and vengeance is the Lord’s.  (Romans 12:19)  The Lord has a way of turning the tables on those who seek revenge and plot evil.  He has ways of protecting those who are innocent and those who are serving Him. 

Haman was thrilled with his position and his influence!  He boasted to his wife and friends of his good fortune and how he was the only one invited to meet with Queen Esther for a banquet.  (Nehemiah 6:1-12)  He was happy, except for one fly in the ointment: Mordecai the Jew would not show him honor by bowing before him!  He complained to his wife and friends who proposed a plan to hang Mordecai on a gallows 75 feet high!  This would have been high enough to display the execution above the walls of the city!  He had the gallows built and was ready for the next day.

But God was moving silently behind the scenes.  The king could not sleep, so he had the chronicles of his reign read to him.  He heard the story of a foiled plot to assassinate him–a plot Mordecai had exposed, thus saving his life.  He asked what had been done for this man and found out it had been overlooked.  He asked who might be in the court to honor Mordecai, and providentially, Haman had just walked in.  The king asked him what he would do to honor someone special to the king.  Thinking it was him to be honored, Haman proposed a grand public honor and was shocked when the king told him to honor Mordecai!  God turned the tables deftly and quickly!

The end of the story finds Haman hanged on the gallows he built for Mordecai after being exposed as the one seeking to kill off all Jews, including the Queen!  It may look as if the wicked get by with their schemes, but not in the end!  Do you have thoughts of revenge or plans to get even?  Why not forgive and turn the table back toward God’s mercy before He turns the tables on you?

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The secret to great power!

Scripture reading for April 29: 2 Chronicles 26-28

People are always curious when someone says that they know a secret that will make them young, rich, beautiful, successful or powerful.  Many people have gotten rich selling secrets relating to these popular desires.  Most of them are people who are playing on the selfish nature of man for their own benefit.  We would do well to avoid them.  But in today’s reading, we find a treasure from the Lord!

Do you want the secret of great power?  Lets look at the life of Jotham, the twenty five year old son of King Uzziah.  This king did right in the eyes of the Lord.  (2 Chronicles 27:2)  The main event recorded of this king was a war with the Ammonites and it says that Jotham conquered them. (2 Chronicles 27:5)  After the conquest, he got a large amount of silver, wheat, and barley for several years.

The secret of his power is found in one verse that makes up a paragraph!   “Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.” (2 Chronicles 27:6)  It is so simple that anyone can grasp this concept.  Faithfulness is the first requirement of a good steward.  Jotham was faithful and he kept the faith all of his life!  He served the Lord his God.  God wasn’t just the God of his father or mother.  He wasn’t just his nation’s God or his wife’s God.  In order to serve steadfastly, you need to know God for yourself!

If you need to ask the Lord to be your God today, take time now and get right with Him.  The path to great power starts with a heart commitment to the Lord in faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.  (Acts 4:12)  We must humbly confess our sins and our need of His grace. (1st John 1:9)    We choose to believe in our hearts and confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and we will be saved.  (Romans 10:9-11)  We are saved by grace through faith in Christ and He has good works for us to walk in.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)  If you continue in the faith, steadfast to the end, you will experience the greatest power available to man–God will raise you from the dead and you will live forever with Him!  (1st Thessalonians 4:13-18)  May the Lord bless you with great power!

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Revenge belongs only to God!

Scripture reading for March 22: 1st Samuel 24-26

Nabal was a “Calebite”, a descendant of Caleb, the faithful spy and conqueror of giants.  Nabal was described as being “surly and mean in his dealings”. (1st Samuel 25:3)  One of his own servants also described Nabal as a man who was “such a wicked man that no one could talk to him”. (1st Samuel 25:17)  He liked to party and alcohol was also a factor in his reputation.  (1st Samuel 25:36) If he were around today, he would fit in well with many in our world.

Nabal was married to a Abigail, a woman described as “intelligent and beautiful”.  Often our mate is the one who can help us with our own sins and weaknesses.  Hearing how arrogantly her husband had treated the servants of David, who had helped protect their herds, Abigail quickly took action to avert a disaster.  She was like the godly woman in Proverbs 31 who was working for her husband’s good.  Abigail took goods and met David and his men as they were coming to seek revenge.  She appealed to David, humbly asking for his favor.  David listened and relented.  Through this godly woman, he heard the voice of God and was spared the shedding of innocent blood though revenge.

1 Samuel 25:32-33 “And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, Who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed by you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand!” Romans 12:19 “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord.”

Returning home, Abigail found her husband at a party, drunk.  She waited until morning to tell him what she had done.  When Nabal heard about her kindness, God struck him with what appears to be a stroke.  The scripture says that Nabal “became like a stone” and soon died.

What lessons can we learn for our lives today from this story of Nabal and Abigail? What were some factors in Nabal’s life that brought him trouble and judgment? How did God show him mercy? How does this story speak to today’s culture in our time?

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Give me a King!

Scripture reading for March 18: 1st Samuel 8-12

1Samuel 8:5,7 “. . .and they said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” . . .”and the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.”

Although they already had God as King, the Israelites had demanded a king like the other nations.  (1st Samuel 8:4-5) God already knew this would happen.  He had told Moses about it! (Deuteronomy 16:14-20)  God knows man’s deepest need is for a relationship Him.  To help us know Him, He sometimes lets us have what we want in order to help us learn what we really need.

God chose Saul, a person who stood above all the others, as Israel’s first king. (1st Samuel 10:23-24)  As Samuel anointed him, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul and he began prophesying. (1st Samuel 10:1, 9-11)  Samuel introduced him to the nation and the people shouted,  “Long live the king!”  But this king would not satisfy the people’s need, but would help them to learn that they needed their real King more than ever!  This first king would soon fail to obey and honor the Lord and fall under God’s judgment.  The people would suffer under his leadership! He would not deliver them from their enemies.

Tomorrow happens to be my 77th birthday.  I lived for a few years without a King!  As a early teen I invited the King Jesus to rule my life, but did not really let Him have complete say over everything.  I am thankful that my King was patient with me.  He let me have what I initially wanted, success in farming, to show me that it did not satisfy.  My birthday request is that my family would all willingly serve Jesus.  A further request would be that all my friends and neighbors would also know this King as Lord, Savior, and Friend! Jesus is patiently waiting for all to acknowledge Him as Lord and King! He meets our deepest need eternally!

“But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.”  That is the word of faith that we are proclaiming: that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” (Romans 10:8-11)

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God stopped the earth for Joshua!

Scripture reading for March 4th: Joshua 9-12

Sometimes the days aren’t long enough to get done everything that we would like to.  Joshua had just such a day when he responded to the call to help the Gibeonites. Joshua prayed to the Lord and asked God to cause the sun to stand still while the nation of Israel attacked it’s enemies.  God listened and a great miracle helped bring victory!

The Gibeonites had earlier deceived the Israelites in order to save their own lives.  Joshua made a covenant with them and then found out that they had lied to him. (Joshua 9:22-23)  As a result, this Canaanite tribe became servants to Joshua and Israel.  A lack of prayer and discernment caused this problem.  A short time later, five Amorite kings had formed an alliance and were attacking Gibeon.  God spoke to Joshua and told him to go and attack and He would give him the victory.  (Joshua 10:7-8)  Joshua and his troops marched all night long and the fight was on.  God helped the Israelites out with a heavy downpour of hailstones, killing more of the enemy than did the Israelites!  The fight was going well, but daylight would soon be gone.  Joshua prayed to the Lord.  God listened to this man and the sun literally stood still in the sky for nearly a day! (Joshua 10:12-14)

This miracle is amazing because of what happened to bring it about.  For the sun to stand still in the sky, the earth had to quit rotating 24,000 miles per hour!  The moon would stand still too!  It is orbiting the earth!  Only God could make this happen!  The hail storm that killed the enemy but did not affect the Israelites is also a miracle! (Joshua 10:11)

Joshua brought the five kings out of the cave they were hiding in and had his men put their feet on the kings’ necks. (Joshua 10:24-25)  They got a visual picture of victory and what God wants us to do to our enemy Satan!  (Romans 16:20)  God alone got the glory for these victories!

What do we learn from this ancient record of Joshua’s exploits?  With God, nothing is impossible!  (Luke 1:37)   Do you have a request that sounds too difficult for the Lord today?  Why not take time to humbly ask God for directions to victory?

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Sunday rest and reflection

March 3, 2023

Greetings!  Hopefully, you are spending part of this day with God’s family in a place of worship!  God redeemed us from slavery to sin to lead a life of worship!  We are to worship personally and corporately.  We come together to meet with God and His family and prepare ourselves for a week of ministry and witness. We come together to hear the Word of God preached and taught by those with gifts of teaching and preaching.  We use our gifts to encourage other believers and pray. The gifts in the body help us to become equipped to do the work God has for each person and the church family.  (Ephesians 4:11-16)

Moses is one of my favorite Old Testament characters.  He was strong and vigorous at 120 years of age.  Evidently the manna and water diet kept him healthy and strong!  Moses was greatly concerned for the next generation.  He wanted them to be blessed and and take by faith all that the Lord had promised as their inheritance.  He clearly understood how their sinful human nature was a danger to them.  He shared that nature and because of his own anger and dishonoring of God would not be able to go into the promised land himself.  Deuteronomy is the record of his last messages preached to this next generation before he died.

God chose the preaching of His Word to be the vehicle of teaching and inspiring this next generation. (1st Corinthians 1:21)  Faith comes by hearing God’s Word!  (Romans 10:17)  Faith also works by love and God calls them to love Him and love each other! (Galatians 5:6) Love is not a feeling, but a commitment to act for the highest good of another.  God’s promises show His love and our faith and obedience show our love in return!  God’s love hasn’t changed!  He is still using preaching to reach people and inspire faith in them. (Romans 10:14-15)  He still desires faith and obedience as a show of our love for Him.   (1st John 5:2-4)  When we walk in faith and obedience and love Him, His face shines on us! (Number 6:22-27)   Have a great day of rest and reflection! In His Love, Pastor John

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Easiest choice ever offered?

Scripture Reading for February 28: Deuteronomy 27-30

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord Your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.  For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

This verse has always baffled me.  God so clearly spelled out His desire for His people’s blessing and life.  He had redeemed them and shown them His love by the signs and wonders and continuous provisions.  Their clothes and shoes had not worn out.  They ate the manna each day for forty years and had meat too.  They drank the water from the rock. (Deuteronomy 29:2-6)  Their enemies had been defeated and God had cared for them. (Deuteronomy 29:7-8)  Moses asked them to make a choice.  Do they want “life and blessing”?  Or would they prefer “death and curses”?  He even gave them the answer: “Choose life!”

But we often think that God’s way is too narrow and too restrictive.  It’s too difficult to try! Moses told the people it wasn’t too hard for them (Deuteronomy 30:11-14) and the Apostle Paul quoted him in Romans:10:6-12.  It is by faith in Jesus Christ that we can be saved from the curses of the Law and the penalty of death.  It is our confession of faith in Jesus Christ’s work for us on the cross that saves us. 

“But what does it say? “The word is near you: it is in your mouth and in your heart”, that is the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth that “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  For it is with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:8-10

Have you made excuses for not making the choice of ‘life and blessing’ in Jesus? What is hindering you today from applying your faith to make a choice for life? Jesus is the only ‘Way’ and ‘Life!’ (John 14:6)

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