Saturday, October 31, 2015


But the LORD was gracious to them, had compassion on them, and regarded them, because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not yet destroy them or cast them from His presence.  (2 Kings 13:23)
None of us deserve the blessings of God.  We have failed Him repeatedly, yet His love is unfailing.  We wander from His will, but not beyond His reach.  That is truly amazing grace!  There are several examples of this grace in 2 Kings 13.
God is gracious in answering prayer (v.1-9).  “So Jehoahaz pleaded with the LORD, and the LORD listened to him….”  (v.4a)  We have often heard that God does not hear the prayers of sinners.  Generally, that is true—and there is a Scriptural basis.  It would be better stated that God has no obligation to hear those prayers.  Yet, sometimes God chooses to do so, as we see with Jehoahaz.  Whether it be the cry for forgiveness from a penitent sinner or the call for help from a prodigal son, it is amazing grace that God responds at all.  There are times we struggle to comprehend why God doesn’t answer some of our prayers.  We ought rather to be surprised that He answers any, considering how often we disobey Him.  That’s grace!  God disciplines the disobedient and we see that in this text, but He does not disown His children, delivering them when they call.
God is gracious in supplying power (v.10-21).  “So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.”  (v.21)  Grace is God’s power for the demands of life.  God’s power can give us insight into future decisions.  Elisha was a man who had tapped into God’s resources and so was able to offer counsel to the king.  This was not a natural gift, but supernatural grace.  Unfortunately, the king failed to fully avail himself of the gracious power of God to achieve an enduring victory.  Such was the power of the prophet that even after Elisha died, a corpse contacting his bones brought a resurrection!  Grace is such that those who have received it, transmit it—even beyond their lifetime.  For example, the grace that rested in Paul flows on into our lives today.  The grace that resided with Spurgeon is still impacting pastors today.  It may be that your parents are in the grave, but the godly prayers they offered are still bringing grace!
God is gracious in giving provision (v.22-25).    “And Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz recaptured from the hand of Ben-Hadad, the son of Hazael, the cities which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz his father by war….”  (v.25a)  God is good—even when we are not.  Grace is the provision of our need.  We are in poverty, but God has plenty.  Someone has described grace with this acrostic: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.  Here we see Israel reclaiming what they has lost.  Thought they were undeserving, God was gracious in granting them victory.
Justice is when we get what we deserve.  Mercy means we do not get what we deserve.  Grace means we get what we do not deserve.  If we receive justice, we will be in hell.  Mercy means we do not have to go there.  Grace means that heaven is opened to us instead.  How precious is this grace!

Friday, October 30, 2015


Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You….  (Psalm 63:1a)
We have a thirst in our soul for God.  This is why humans are inherently religious—we know there is something else, something more—someone above and beyond us that we want to know.  Man was created with the capacity to walk with God—Adam and Eve did, until they chose the path of disobedience and then the fellowship was broken—infidelity disrupting intimacy.  God, in grace, reached out to His fallen creatures—and still does today.  We can once more know the Father through the Son by the Spirit.  Nothing else can satisfy the thirst in our souls.  We must drink from the well of salvation. It is the living water Jesus promised. 
We must also acknowledge that even as God’s people, we may foolishly turn from drinking deeply of God and pursue the world’s empty cisterns.  “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”  (Jer.2:13).
In Psalm 63, we find David in a place of barrenness, expressing this deep thirst for God (v.1).  God will seal up the Scripture, shut up the heavens to prayer, shrivel up the joy in worship—whatever it takes to intensify our thirst, and drive us in desperation to Him.  We find satisfaction in God only when we desire satisfaction in Him alone.  It is not a passion for what His hand can give us, but a desire to see His face and abide in His presence.  This is one reason why God sends troubles into the lives of His children—to drive us to Himself.  Trials have a way of diminishing our taste for the things of this world and elevating our thirst for the eternal.
David desired to see the manifestation of God’s power and glory (v.2).  It was not enough to hear about what God had done for others in the past—he wanted to experience it in the present for himself.   Listening to someone describe the sensation of drinking from a clear, cold mountain stream is not the same as taking a drink!  The testimony can make you salivate, but only the experience can bring you satisfaction.  Theologically, we may know the Lord is omnipresent in our doctrine, but experientially, we long to know Him manifestly in our daily life! 
This demands seeking God wholeheartedly in His Word and in prayer.  The corporate worship with the saints in the house of God can encourage us as we gather with others.  The sermons and songs can stir us to seek God.  It is in the daily quiet time—sitting before and open Bible and kneeling with an open heart in prayer, however, that will ultimately lead us into divine encounters.  This is the only way to know God’s power and glory.
The thirst for God will lead us to be satisfied with His love (v.3-6).  We will meditate on Him and rejoice in God—knowing His lovingkindness that is better than life itself.  We will experience the very life of God (v.7-11) and in so doing find true meaning in life.  Apart from Him, there is only an existence.  In Him, we rejoice—fully alive!  The presence of God does not alleviate all our opposition (v.9-11)—the Devil will see to that!  Yet, God is our Deliverer.  Having Him, we have the victory.  We must press on boldly to the throne room!
Stay thirsty, my friend—thirsty for God—and you will find satisfaction in Him!

Thursday, October 29, 2015


I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
And you shall know the LORD.  (Hosea 2:20)

On July 4, 1776, America’s Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.   It begins, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” and concludes by appealing to God, the Supreme Judge of the world and says, “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”  Indeed, Providence smiled upon them and America was birthed with the blessing of God.  He has been faithful through our meteoric rise, but we have been unfaithful to Him.  Systematically, we are stripping away all reference to God from the public arena.  That vacuum is filled by paganism, Islam and the cults, even as Christianity is held up to contempt.  There are some lessons for us from ancient Israel.  God brought them into a land flowing with milk and honey, but they spurned Him for false gods.  Hosea has a message for such people.

THE LOVE OF GOD SEEN IN A MARITAL ILLUSTRATION (Chapters 1-3). These chapters present the broken home of Hosea (1:1-11).  His marriage would be a living message—a picture of the sermon he preached.  Hosea was commanded to marry Gomer.  Although I do not think she was a harlot at the time, it was in her heart.  She began to cheat on Hosea.  In fact she has children, which aren’t even Hosea’s (v.8-9).  Night after night of shameful living took its toll (2:1-13).  Having all those children affected her figure.  Time and gravity set in and she was not the beauty she once was, and her lovers began to desert her (v.6-7).  Picture this: Gomer has sold herself into slavery to avoid starvation.  Hosea is commanded to go and buy this cheater and bring her home!  He will forgive her and restore her (2:14-3:5).  She has been faithless, but he will be faithful to his promise.  This experience illustrated the relationship of God and Israel.

THE LOVE OF GOD SHOWN IN THE SPIRITUAL APPLICATION (Chapters 4-14).  Gomer broke Hosea’s heart.  Israel broke God’s.  They treated God as Gomer did Hosea (4:1-19).  Reading these verses is like reading the newspaper or watching the TV today.  These same sins are epidemic in America!  We thumb our nose at God; we shake our fist at Him; we bite the hand that feeds us!  Just like Gomer trying to appeal to her lovers, so Israel looked to man rather than God for deliverance.  Don’t we try to do that?  God would break them (5:1-13:16).  He will drive us to our knees, if we don’t go willingly.

As Hosea restored Gomer, so God would restore Israel (14:1-9).  The promise remains, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  It is a personal response.  If enough believers get right with God, a church can be revived.  If enough churches are revived, a nation can be restored!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.  Fight the good fight of faith….  (1 Timothy 6:11-12a)

One day the church doors are going to open and your casket will be rolled down the aisle.  Family will stand there grieving and friends will file by to pay their last respects.  What will they say about you?  When people gaze upon my still form, the one thing I want most for them to say is, “He was a man of God.”  I can think of no greater title.  No better legacy could be left to our children, men, than that.  Whatever else we leave behind, if those who know us best can say, “He was a man of God,” then we have lived a life worth living.  Paul tells us how in 1 Timothy 6.

The man of God knows what to FLEE (v.11a).  The expression “these things” are those discussed in verses 1-10.  There are some things that we must steer clear of or they will ruin our testimony.  What must we flee?

We flee a lazy aptitude (v.1-2).  The man of God is a man of industry and integrity on his job.  He gives a day’s work for a day’s wage.  Men of God are certainly faithful to worship at the church on Sunday, but they are likewise faithful to work at the job on Monday.  Scripture exhorts that whatever we do to do all to the glory of God!

We flee a lofty attitude (v.3-5). The man of God cannot be arrogant and egotistical—full of devilish pride.  Such a spirit is marked by ignorance (v.3-4a), intolerance (v.4b), and impurity (v.5).

We flee a lustful appetite (v.5-10).  As stated earlier we have a responsibility to be effective and excellent employees.  Yet, we dare not become workaholics or idolaters.   You can’t worship God and mammon.  Real success is found in verse 6.

The man of God also knows what to FOLLOW (v.11b).  It isn’t enough to be noted as to what you are against, but what you are for.

The man of God pursues “righteousness.”  He is right with God through faith in Christ and right with others through forgiveness.

He pursues “godliness.”  We reflect the character of God.  People see Jesus in us.  

He pursues “faith.”e HH  The man of God is a man of faith.  Faith comes from the Word and is expressed in prayer.  Are you a man of the Word and prayer?

He pursues “love.”  Love is the preeminent virtue.  It is the great commandment—loving God with all our being and our neighbor as ourselves.

He pursues “patience.”  There is no magic pill to take to become a man of God.  We must also display patience with others.

He pursues “gentleness.”  We recognize that people are delicate—that they have sensitive feelings.  We don’t run over people.

The man of God knows when to FIGHT (v.12).  God has issued a call to arms.

We need to acknowledge the reality of the conflict.  Some of us don’t realize there is a war.  Satan is on the rampage because he knows his time is short.  Our faith, our freedom, and our family are under assault.  Wake up!  Get up!  Stand up!

We will then attain the reward of the conquest.  There is a victor’s crown.  Scripture promises a reward to the overcomer.

Many years ago I made a commitment to be a man of God.  Today I renew that goal.  Will you join me?  Ladies, will you pray for the men?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Have You not kept my feet from falling,
That I may walk before God
In the light of the living?  (Psalm 56:13b)

“God leads His dear children along.”  That’s what the old hymn says—that message thoroughly attested by Scripture and affirmed by our experience.  The way He leads us, however, may be at times perplexing.  The road of life is filled with many twists and turns; we cannot see but a portion of the road before us, so we must trust God who knows the destination where He intends to bring us.  That’s what David discovered on his journey of faith.  It is the testimony of Psalm 56.

Our path does not take us through a playground, but a battleground (v.1-4)!  So long as we are in this world, we will find ourselves in a fight.  Our environment is hostile to faith.  David—a man of war—would say, “Amen!”  The introduction to the Psalm tells us it was written, “When the Philistines Captured Him in Gath.”  Gath was the hometown of the giant Goliath whom David had slain.  David was running for his life from King Saul.  In a moment of panic, he fled into Philistine territory, and ended up in a place where the people would delight to kill him—out of the frying pan and into the fire!  Yet, even so, God had a purpose for David’s life.  We may wish for the: “shady green pastures, so rich and so sweet…Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet…Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright…” and yet find ourselves, “sometimes in the valley in darkest of night that God leads His dear children along.”

We may survive the frontal assault and succumb to the surprise attack (v.5-7).  There were those who would not dare to attack David to his face, but would stab him in the back—distorting his words, organizing opposition from the malcontents, and setting snares to trap him.  This broke his heart and drove him to the One he could trust, as David cast himself on the promises of God (v.8-11).  The hymn writer put it this way:

Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along;
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.
Some through the water, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

God knows every step we take through dark seasons.  He sees every tear we shed as we walk through deep sorrows.  According to David, God stores the tears in His bottle and records them in His book!  He is mindful of our tears and trials.  He does not exempt us from traveling the trail of tears, but He promises grace that is sufficient for the journey now and that our destiny will end in glory.

David expressed confidence that the Lord would establish His feet in the right path and on solid ground (v.12-13).  He always had; He always would. 

Away from the mire, and away from the clay,
God leads His dear children along;
Away up in glory, eternity’s day,
God leads His dear children along.”

The trip may bring many changing conditions in the terrain—sudden storms can break upon us—but one condition never alters—we get there, “all through the blood.”  The One who died for us, while never desert us.  He will deliver us!

Monday, October 26, 2015


Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die?  (2 Kings 7:3)

We’ve often heard the expression, “Don’t just sit there—do something!”  That’s akin to the question of the four lepers we read about in 2 Kings 7, “Why are we sitting here until we die?”  The Syrian army had besieged Samaria and the Israelites were dying of starvation.  The four lepers weren’t welcome in the city because of their loathsome disease.  Even if they could sneak in, they would be only starve.  So they came up with a hare-brained idea, if there ever was one.  They would go to the enemy’s camp and seek food (7:4).  If they killed them, they would be no worse off, for they were dying a torturous death.  Even if they killed them, it would be a quick end to their suffering.  But just maybe they would toss them a few scraps.  To maintain the status quo was certain death. 

That will happen to a church.  It is the sad script being written by many churches today.  They sit on the pew and become “pewtrified.”  They are resistant to change.  They are afraid to take a risk.  I say, “Don’t just sit there—do something!”  There are some valuable lessons to learn in this story.

This was an act of DESPERATION (6:24-33).  Things in the kingdom were desperate indeed.  In the last verse, the king essentially says, “I give up!”  But, at “Wit’s End Corner” God’s grace is found!  God arranges circumstances to bring us to the end of ourselves, so that we might trust fully in Him.  Desperation paves the way for a miraculous deliverance.

Like the citizens of Samaria, the enemy has us surrounded.  We have turned from conquering our foes to consuming our family.  Think about how many churches spend their time cannibalizing each other, rather than assaulting hell!  There is a famine in the land—but not of food—of the Word of God (Amos 8:11.)

God’s preacher gets the blame.  When sports teams start losing, what do they do?  Fire the coach!  What about the players?  Sometimes a coach isn’t effective, but the best coach can’t win without good players.  It wasn’t Elisha’s fault.  The team wasn’t following the rulebook. Many find it easier to point out a scapegoat than to plot out a solution.

This was also an act of DETERMINATION (7:1-8).  It isn’t enough to give up.  We must then get up!  Too many are sitting on the premises instead of standing on the promises!  God can work in the direst circumstances and in the darkest hour.  But our deliverance will not come from human methods, but heavenly might.  Elisha was talking about a miracle. But that miracle will come through some people who get up and do something. God won’t work apart from us.  Never was there a stranger plan carried out by more unlikely people.  They refused to just sit there!  God doesn’t need our ability, but our availability. 

This was furthermore an act of DECLARATION (7:9-20).  When we give up and get up, we must then go out!  There is some news to tell.  If a church just sits there it will die, but if it will go out into the community with the good news of Jesus Christ it will not only survive, it will thrive!  The unbelieving miss the miracle. Those who reject the Gospel, will one day see in heaven what they missed before they are cast out.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.   But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.  Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”  (Daniel 10:12-14)
I recall when my son Christopher was small, we bought him a pair of boxing gloves.  He wanted to use Daddy for a punching bag!  I would have none of it.  If he were going to hit me, I was going to punch back!  So he could reach me, I got down on my knees.  I won the match, of course!  In spiritual warfare, that is the position we must take, as well, if we are to win.  It explains in part why prayer often feels like a battle—it is!  There are several vital lessons to learn about “fighting on your knees,” in Daniel, chapter ten.
We learn some MOTIVATIONS for our praying (v.1).  Daniel was motivated by both the indifference and impotence of the people of God.  It had been three years since Cyrus had come to power and issued a decree that the Jews were free to return to Jerusalem.  Only a small number had gone.  Most had no heart for the work of God.  We know from a study of Ezra and Nehemiah that those who did go back had many enemies in their effort to rebuild.  That set Daniel to praying!  A similar state plagues the people of God today, and ought to motivate us to cry out to God.
We further discover the MANNER of our praying (v.2-3).  It was a prayer that involved intercession and intensity.  Daniel’s praying was a plea for God’s people and exhibited a passion for God’s glory.  This was no self-centered prayer treating God as Santa Claus to grant a list of Daniel’s Christmas gifts, nor a pious ritual, mindlessly recited.  True praying will be much more than that!  Our manner will be that of Daniel’s.
Then, we note the MANIFESTATION from our praying (v.4-9).  There is only one other in Scripture who fits the Being described here—the Lord Jesus Christ.  His description in Revelation 1 that John saw while in exile on Patmos mirrored what Daniel saw while in exile in Persia.  When our prayers rise up, heaven comes down.  We enter the very throne room of grace and encounter the Son of God as we bow before Him.  Prayer involves worship.
This provides the MIGHT in our praying (v.10-14).  Prayer not only involves worship, but warfare.  After a space of being on his face, another being speaks to Daniel—he sees the Son of God has departed, but now the angel Gabriel is there.  Gabriel left heaven with the answer the moment Daniel started praying, but was delayed by a demonic force.  It was the persistent prayer of the prophet that summoned Michael to aid Gabriel in getting the answer through!  The battle in the invisible dimension was determined by the faithful praying of Daniel in the physical realm.  There is power in prayer!
Then comes the MESSAGE from our praying (v.15-21).  The answer comes.  Assurance of victory is provided.  This is how we win!