The Daily Bread: The Steadfast Love of the Lord

Today’s study is on Psalm 107.  Before getting into the Word of God, I want to tell you what this Psalm is about and then we will discuss four examples of God’s steadfast love toward the Israelites. Psalm 107 is the first chapter of Book Five of the Psalms. It opens with a community of thanksgiving and then accompanied by the offering of sacrifices as seen in Psalm 107:22. Each example contains an invitation to give thanks for what God has done for them. Let me point out that God’s steadfast love pertained to His covenant with Israel, which is God’s devotion to His people. He has bound Himself to His chosen people, which today includes Gentiles who have come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

Psalm 107:1-43

107 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to a city to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
till they reached a city to dwell in.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
prisoners in affliction and in irons,
11 for they had rebelled against the words of God,
and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
12 So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor;
they fell down, with none to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
and burst their bonds apart.
15 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
16 For he shatters the doors of bronze
and cuts in two the bars of iron.

17 Some were fools through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
18 they loathed any kind of food,
and they drew near to the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them,
and delivered them from their destruction.
21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
22 And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

23 Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
24 they saw the deeds of the Lord,
his wondrous works in the deep.
25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
26 They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
29 He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

33 He turns rivers into a desert,
springs of water into thirsty ground,
34 a fruitful land into a salty waste,
because of the evil of its inhabitants.
35 He turns a desert into pools of water,
a parched land into springs of water.
36 And there he lets the hungry dwell,
and they establish a city to live in;
37 they sow fields and plant vineyards
and get a fruitful yield.
38 By his blessing they multiply greatly,
and he does not let their livestock diminish.

39 When they are diminished and brought low
through oppression, evil, and sorrow,
40 he pours contempt on princes
and makes them wander in trackless wastes;
41 but he raises up the needy out of affliction
and makes their families like flocks.
42 The upright see it and are glad,
and all wickedness shuts its mouth.

43 Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things;
let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

As you can see from the reading of Scripture, verses 1-3 are an invitation to give thanks. “The Lord is good and His steadfast love endures forever.” As mentioned previously, “His steadfast love is God’s covenant devotion, by which He binds Himself to His people.”[1] In verse 3, the people are gathered from the lands in which they had been held captive. This is an indication of the Babylonian exile. Therefore, the people should be giving thanks for what God did and that He delivered them.

The first example of God’s steadfast love was when God guides those who were wondering in the wilderness to a city as mentioned in verses 4-9. These people were wandering from place to place without shelter and food. They were thirsty and in distress. They cried out to the Lord and He delivered them by to a city to dwell in. The Lord led them to a city to dwell in, filled their hearts and hungry souls with good things. It was through His wondrous works and His readiness to answer the prayers of His people, which displayed His steadfast love.

The second example of God’s steadfast love was that He delivered His people from imprisonment to freedom. See verses 10-16 in which some of His people sat in prisons, shackled in irons. Because they had rebelled against the words of God, He chastised His people with hard labor to get them to repent from their evil ways. He allowed it because His people were defiant against the ways of the Lord. When His people finally called out and cried to Him in repentance, He broke their shackles and freed them.

The third example of God’s steadfast love was when God saved the foolish rebels when they called on Him as mentioned in verses 17-22. “These fools were not without intelligence, but they refused to face the reality that the Lord is God. Foolishness is an ethical-spiritual category and not an intellectual one.”[2] Scripture mentions, “Some were fools through their sinful ways.” Because of their sin, they became sick and did not want to eat food (17-18). They cried out to the Lord and He delivered them from their distress and destruction.

In the fourth and final example, God’s steadfast love rescues those in trouble at sea. In verses 23-31, God delivers those who are in storms on the sea. They cried to the Lord and He calmed the storm through His Devine power. We can compare this to Mark 4:35-41 when Jesus calmed the storm when His disciples were in fear during a violent storm. “Christ demonstrated His power from High when He stilled the waters.”[3]

The Scripture goes on to say that God can turn rivers into a desert and deserts into pools of water. He can turn a fruitful land into a salty waste. God allowed His people to dwell in the land of Canaan, in which He gave it to Israel. The hungry were now prospering and they established a city to live in with crop fields, vineyards, and livestock (Cf. 33-38).

The takeaway from Psalm 107 is to always depend on God in everything. Do not rebel against Him, but live a life of Christ in all that we do. Jesus will provide all of our needs regardless of our circumstance. Only in rebellion will we see God’s wrath, but in our submission to Him, we will see his steadfast love and His wondrous works. His wondrous works are His blessings on our lives and businesses. I shall close with this last verse from Psalm 107:43, “Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.”

References:

[1] The Reformation Study Bible, RC Sproul, General Editor, (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2015), 959.

[2] Reformation Study Bible, 2015, 960.

[3] Ibid, 960.

Copyright © February 25, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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The Daily Bread: Unfaithfulness to God

Today’s study is based on Psalm 106. As I sit and read through this Psalm, it reminds me of our present nation and all of God’s blessings over the years. Our people have turned their backs on God just like Israel. Today, I will be highlighting some of the key points from the Scripture to think about. The following is the entire Psalm so that you may refer to the exact passage for reference.

Psalm 106

Israel’s Unfaithfulness to God

Hallelujah!
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his faithful love endures forever.
Who can declare the Lord’s mighty acts
or proclaim all the praise due him?
How happy are those who uphold justice,
who practice righteousness at all times.

Remember me, Lord,
when you show favor to your people.
Come to me with your salvation
so that I may enjoy the prosperity
of your chosen ones,
rejoice in the joy of your nation,
and boast about your heritage.

Both we and our fathers have sinned;
we have done wrong and have acted wickedly.
Our fathers in Egypt did not grasp
the significance of your wondrous works
or remember your many acts of faithful love;
instead, they rebelled by the sea—the Red Sea.
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
to make his power known.
He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up;
he led them through the depths as through a desert.
10 He saved them from the power of the adversary;
he redeemed them from the power of the enemy.
11 Water covered their foes;
not one of them remained.
12 Then they believed his promises
and sang his praise.

13 They soon forgot his works
and would not wait for his counsel.
14 They were seized with craving in the wilderness
and tested God in the desert.
15 He gave them what they asked for,
but sent a wasting disease among them.

16 In the camp they were envious of Moses
and of Aaron, the Lord’s holy one.
17 The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan;
it covered the assembly of Abiram.
18 Fire blazed throughout their assembly;
flames consumed the wicked.

19 At Horeb they made a calf
and worshiped the cast metal image.
20 They exchanged their glory
for the image of a grass-eating ox.
21 They forgot God their Savior,
who did great things in Egypt,
22 wondrous works in the land of Ham,
awe-inspiring acts at the Red Sea.
23 So he said he would have destroyed them—
if Moses his chosen one
had not stood before him in the breach
to turn his wrath away from destroying them.

24 They despised the pleasant land
and did not believe his promise.
25 They grumbled in their tents
and did not listen to the Lord.
26 So he raised his hand against them with an oath
that he would make them fall in the desert
27 and would disperse their descendants
among the nations,
scattering them throughout the lands.

28 They aligned themselves with Baal of Peor
and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods.
29 They angered the Lord with their deeds,
and a plague broke out against them.
30 But Phinehas stood up and intervened,
and the plague was stopped.
31 It was credited to him as righteousness
throughout all generations to come.

32 They angered the Lord at the Waters of Meribah,
and Moses suffered because of them;
33 for they embittered his spirit,
and he spoke rashly with his lips.

34 They did not destroy the peoples
as the Lord had commanded them
35 but mingled with the nations
and adopted their ways.
36 They served their idols,
which became a snare to them.
37 They sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons.
38 They shed innocent blood—
the blood of their sons and daughters
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
so the land became polluted with blood.
39 They defiled themselves by their actions
and prostituted themselves by their deeds.

40 Therefore the Lord’s anger burned against his people,
and he abhorred his own inheritance.
41 He handed them over to the nations;
those who hated them ruled over them.
42 Their enemies oppressed them,
and they were subdued under their power.
43 He rescued them many times,
but they continued to rebel deliberately
and were beaten down by their iniquity.

44 When he heard their cry,
he took note of their distress,
45 remembered his covenant with them,
and relented according to the abundance
of his faithful love.
46 He caused them to be pitied
before all their captors.

47 Save us, Lord our God,
and gather us from the nations,
so that we may give thanks to your holy name
and rejoice in your praise.

48 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Let all the people say, “Amen!”
Hallelujah!

Psalm 106 focuses mainly on human sin. Israel suffered much due to her own sin against God. Although the people of Israel are God’s chosen people, the psalmist does not assume that he will enjoy God’s blessing, therefore he turns to God for prayer as seen in verse 4. In verse 6, this is an acknowledgement that Israel has deliberately and constantly rebelled against God. Then the psalmist gives an example in how The Lord spared Israel’s life when they had left Egypt and were at the Red Sea. God parted and dried up the waters of the sea so that Israel could escape the Egyptian army. Even when Israel continued to rebel against God and their fate should have been death, God parted the sea and then filled it back in drowning the Egyptian army as seen in verse 7-12.

Again, after the Red Sea incident, they soon forgot His works as their thanks and faith were short lived. Their forgetfulness lead to disobedience. They continued to rebel and God put them to the test (cf. 13-15).

In Horeb, they made a metal calf and worshipped it. They placed a metal idol in the place of God. They exchanged God’s glory to the metal idol and forgot God their Savior and all His wondrous works done in the land of Ham (Egypt) and at the Red Sea. The works mentioned in Egypt were that of the Ten Plagues. If it were not for Moses standing before God, God would have destroyed Israel (cf. 19-23).

They doubted God and despised the Promised Land because of their lack of faith. God raised his hand in an oath showing God’s determination to judge the sons of Israel. The punishment was that they would be scattered among other nations (cf. 24-27).

The Israelites yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor and ate sacrifices of the dead. By worshipping a foreign idol was like becoming a beast of burden. Baal was a god of the eastern Mediterranean region at the time Israel was entering the Promised Land. Eating the sacrifices of the dead refers to such incidents as a Canaanite funeral which involves heavy drinking, feasting, and obscene lust. This provoked the Lord to anger and a plague broke out among them. When Israel took those steps to idolatry, Phinehas took a violent step to bring Israel back to God. God made a covenant with his family to give them priesthood (cf. 28-31).

The people continued to anger God at the Waters of Meribah. Moses suffered because of their sin and his spirit became bitter because of their willful mistrust of God and their survival in the wilderness (cf. 32-33).

The Israelites mixed with the nations as opposed to destroying the people like God had commanded. Because of their willful disobedience, they learned to worship idols, sacrificed their children to these false gods and demons, and the land was “polluted with blood.” They became unclean by their acts. The spiritual reality behind worshipping idols is demonic, which is a world of hostility towards God. By joining themselves to these false idols, they committed spiritual adultery (cf. 34-39).

The Lord’s anger was kindled against His people and he detested His heritage and His people were delivered into the hands of the nations. The Israelites hated those who ruled over them. Their enemies oppressed them. God would deliver them only for His people reject His ways again and again (cf. 40-43).

Then God remembered His covenant and commitment to His people. This caused Him to continue with His people even when they constantly turned their backs on Him (cf. 44-48).

Looking back at God’s own chosen people, all the miraculous works that God did on their behalf, only for them to continue to turn their backs on Him. Then I look at our own nation where the very same things are occurring today. Willful disobedience of God’s ways and precepts. Therefore, God sent His one and only Son, Jesus. Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save everyone in it. But people today reject Jesus and they want to do their own thing and not give God any time.

I wonder what punishment God will place on the United States as she continues down the path she is on? Unfaithfulness to God can only lead to death, destruction, plagues, strife, and punishment.

But there is a way to come back to God through faith in Jesus Christ. Won’t you consider turning your life over to Him today? I pray that you will come to know the loving and risen Savior and will commit your life to Him.

References:

The Reformation Study Bible, RC Sproul, ed., Reformation Trust, 2015.

The Spurgeon Study Bible, Holman Bible Publishers, 2017.

Copyright © February 23, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Do you have other gods besides God?

This evening, I took a few minutes from television to discuss the First Commandment of The Ten Commandments.  The First commandment is taken from Exodus 20:3, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Exactly what does that mean? Let’s first discuss the duties required of the first commandment. According to The Westminster Larger Catechism, “The duties required in the first commandment are, the knowing and acknowledging of God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify Him accordingly, by thinking, meditating, remembering, highly esteeming, honoring, adoring, choosing, loving, desiring, fearing of Him; believing Him; trusting, hoping, delighting, rejoicing in Him; being zealous for Him; calling upon Him; giving all praise and thanks, and yielding all obedience and submission to Him with the whole man; being careful in all things to please Him, and sorrowful when in anything He is offended; and walking humbly with Him.”

What are the sins which are forbidden in the first commandment? According to The Westminster Larger Catechism, “The sins forbidden in the first commandment are atheism, in denying, or not having a God; idolatry, in having or worshipping more gods than one, or any with, or instead of the true God; the not having and avouching Him for God, and our God; the omission or neglect of anything due to Him, required in this commandment; ignorance, forgetfulness, misapprehensions, false opinions, unworthy or wicked thoughts of Him; bold and curious searching into His secrets; all profaneness, hatred of God; self-love, self-seeking, and all other inordinate and immoderate setting of our mind, will, or affections upon other things, and taking them off from Him in whole or in part; vain credulity, unbelief, heresy, misbelief, distrust, despair, incorrigibleness, and insensibleness under judgements; hardness of heart; pride; presumption; carnal security; tempting God; using unlawful means, and trusting in lawful means; carnal delights and joys; corrupt, blind, and indiscreet zeal; lukewarmness, and deadness in the things of God; praying, or giving any religious worship, to saints, angels, or any other creatures; all compacts and consulting with the devil, and hearkening to His suggestions; making men the lords of our faith and conscience; slighting and despising God and His commands; resisting and grieving of His Spirit, discontent and impatience at His dispensations, charging Him foolishly for the evils He inflicts on us; and ascribing the praise of any good we either are, have, or can do, to fortune, idols, ourselves, or any other creature.”

Wow! All of that from one verse! I know that I personally have broken this commandment and I am quite sure you have as well. I did not break it intentionally. For instance, placing anything ahead of God can be considered an idol. Examples are spending too much time on the internet, too much time on Facebook, iPhone, exercise, sports, Super Bowl, work, or anything that takes your mind away from God, etc. There is forgiveness through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is through Christ that we have forgiveness from the old law. Reading through The Westminster Larger Catechism can help a person understand much better what these verses mean, especially when dealing with the law of the Ten Commandments. There is forgiveness for our sinful nature and that is only found through Jesus, God’s one and only Son. If you don’t know Him, won’t you consider asking Jesus into your heart today?

If you have already given your life to Christ, but do not have a committed relationship with Him, I would strongly suggest that you spend time in God’s Word, reading Scripture, which I believe to be the inspired Word of God. Reading the Bible and praying is the key to a “real relationship” with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As you place God in His rightful place, then you will experience His blessings in ways that you never have experienced them before. It is my prayer that you will come to know the risen Savior more intimately and that your life will be filled with fruit of the Spirit.

References:

Quotes taken from The Westminster Larger Catechism included in The Reformed Study Bible, R.C. Sproul, General Editor, Reformation Press, 2015, Page 2459.

 

Copyright © February 19, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

My Friend Ray is With Jesus

Today, as I write this post, I am sad to hear that a very good friend and client by the name of Ray has died. At the same time, I rejoice in the knowledge that Ray was a born again Christian. The reason I know this is that about two months ago, Ray called me and told me that he was facing a heart valve replacement. He had congestive heart failure. He had mentioned that he was concerned about whether he would go to heaven or not? I knew Ray to be a member of a certain Baptist church, but he still was not certain that if he died, he would go to heaven.

I told him that I was glad he shared that with me and then I shared the gospel with him. I am sure he heard the gospel on many a Sunday, but this particular day, Ray was truly listening. After reading and explaining the gospel to Ray, I asked him if he wanted to pray with me and ask Jesus into his heart. He said he did and he prayed this prayer:

“Heavenly Father, I have sinned against You. I want forgiveness for all of my sins. I believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again. Father, I give You my life to do with as You wish. I want Jesus to come into my life and into my heart. This I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

He prayed this prayer and then he had relief and certainty that Jesus came into his heart and redeemed him from hell.

The following are Scriptures from the Holy Bible which explain the way to Christ.

Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death (hell) but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.”

John 3: 3, “Jesus replied, ‘I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’”

John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Romans 10:9-11, “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. With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. Now the Scripture says, ‘No one who believes in Him will be put to shame.’”

2 Corinthians 5:15, “And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.”

Revelation 3:20, “Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me.”

John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish (go to hell), but have eternal life (Heaven). For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

It is my hope that whoever may be reading this post will come to know the true and loving Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If you do not know Him, why not pray that simple prayer as written above, just like Ray? I know that today, Ray is in Jesus’ loving arms and he will be forever residing with Jesus in Heaven. Don’t wait! Today is the day to make that commitment to Christ. I pray that Jesus will come into your heart and that you will live for him before it is too late!

Copyright © February 19, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Daily Bread: A Pure Heart

I have not always had a close walk with God and had allowed sin to enter into my life. God has never failed me and has always led me back home to Him when I strayed away.

Today’s devotion is taken from Blackaby’s Experiencing God Day-By-Day.  It is called Clean Hands; a Pure Heart.

Psalm 24: 3-4 “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?  The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.”

What type of relationship do you have with God? Is it a personal, deep relationship? Or is it a mediocre relationship? Do you pray and seek God through His holy scriptures? Or do you attend an occasional service or say an occasional prayer at a meal? Where are you in your walk with God? Are you a Christian who has never grown any from the day you accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior? These questions are important for you to consider. Exactly, where do you stand with God?

According to Blackaby, “God has requirements for those who want to enjoy intimate fellowship with Him. There is no easy access to God for those with unclean hands or an impure heart. It is an affront to holy God to assume that we can indulge in our sin and blatantly disobey His word, then brazenly enter the holy of holies” (Blackaby & Blackaby, 1997, p. 217).

“There are levels of intimacy with God. The moment you become a Christian you begin a relationship with the Lord. However, if you persist in your sin, sin will separate you from God and keep you from enjoying close fellowship with Him” (Blackaby & Blackaby, 1997, p. 217).

“If you follow only God’s basic commandments but resist every time God gives you specific, personal directions, you will never fully experience the depths of God’s Person. If, however, you are like the psalmist and understand the holiness of God, you will adjust your life to His standards and respond to His prompting so that you may have a deeper fellowship with Him” (Blackaby & Blackaby, 1997, p. 217).

“The closest you get to holy God, the more obvious even your smallest sins become. The more you know of God’s character, the more you will realize the need to wash your hands and purify your heart before you can get close to Him. Are you willing for the almighty God to make you absolutely pure before Him so that you can enjoy the maximum possible relationship with Him” (Blackaby & Blackaby, 1997, p. 217)?

I love this devotion because it reminds me how I have struggled throughout my life. I have not always had a close walk with God and had allowed sin to enter into my life. God has never failed me and has always led me back home to Him when I strayed away. Sin can separate you from God. I know it can because I have lived sin in my life. What was once a very close walk with The Father, I strayed from Him and fell away for a period of time. I allowed sin to enter my life, which caused a separation from God. That was a very dark time in my life. But I ultimately came back to The Father.

According to Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” No one is perfect. But we should not intentionally sin and then expect to have a close walk with God. You cannot commit intentional sins and then carry on as if nothing was wrong! God does not want us to willfully sin and then we think we can have that personal relationship with Him. It just does not work that way.

God wants us to come to Him with a pure heart and wants us to be clean. When Jesus died for us, he took the guilt and the sin and purified us through the shedding of His blood, the blood of the Lamb. As Christians, we should be striving to live pure, holy lives. When we fail, we should be praying for forgiveness and ask God to help us overcome our sins.

Today, I pray that if you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus, the Son of God, I pray that you will surrender your life to Him. Jesus is our only hope in this life. I pray that you will have a personal walk with God and that you may experience God in an intimate and personal relationship.

References

Blackaby, H. T., & Blackaby, R. (1997). EXPERIENCING GOD DAY-BY-DAY: The Devotional and Journal. Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group.

Copyright © February 18, 2019, The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Pornography Addiction: There is Hope

You see, no one really knows how pornography will affect them until they start to view it. Some people can become addicted because they are basically looking for the next sexual fulfillment. When they achieve that through masturbation…

Overnight on Twitter, I was followed by three pornographers. As a rule, I do not allow pornographers to follow me on Twitter or any other social media. I can hear what you are about to say next? “But you are in ministry! You should allow them so that they will hear the Word of God.” The facts are that these accounts are not real people but the pornographers themselves. These accounts most likely contain malicious viruses that are meant to steal your identity and information. Not only that, but delving into pornography can become an addiction for both men and women. Viewing it can destroy marital relationships and you could become estranged from your family. If you view it, you in fact are supporting sexual slavery and human trafficking.

According to www.ProvenMan.org, “approximately two thirds (64%) of U.S. men view pornography at least monthly.”[1] Pornography (Porn) addictions is known as a process addiction which can affect an individual in a negative way. According to www.RecoveryConnection.com, “A general definition of any addiction is behavior repeated over and over again despite negative consequences to oneself or others. … Pornography addiction, a type of process addiction, is predicated upon an ever-growing need to see sexually explicit images. … Statistics indicate that a large percentage of those who suffer from a pornographic addiction, including internet porn addiction, will suffer the loss of a marriage and career. Similar to what occurs in drug and alcohol addiction, neurochemical changes occur in the brain which contributes to the maintenance of the pornography addiction.”[2]

The signs and symptoms can be found on the Recovery Connection website. According to the website, the consequences of porn addiction include destruction of intimate relationships, self- shame and guilt, loss of a career, interference of work or school, financial problems, promiscuity which can lead to sexual encounters with others and sexually transmitted diseases.[3]

On a spiritual level, addiction and the mere viewing of porn can lead to a separation of a full relationship with God. According to www.ProvenMen.org, “There are three ways that porn will affect your relationship with God. 1. Unrepentance prevents your spiritual growth. 2. Secret sin subverts God’s will. 3. Lordship requires surrendering fully to God.”[4] According to Peter in The Didache, I.4, “Abstain from carnal and bodily lusts,” II.2, “…Thou shalt not commit adultery, sodomy, and fornication,” III.3, “…be not lustful, for lust leads to fornication and adultery.”[5] The Didache were the teaching of the Twelve Apostles and referenced Peter’s teaching in God’s Word.

I have known men as well as women who were addicted to porn. Their lives were rooted in sexual deviant behavior in which caused broken relationships, divorce, and even attempted suicide. They were so hooked on viewing sexual images, that they continued down a path of destruction to the next thrill and persuasion. One such person was an acquaintance of mine who was in law enforcement. This guy was also a photographer. He started out photographing strippers and was in fact producing pornographic images. He ultimately lost his job as a police officer, his wife divorced him, and he ended up marrying an exotic dancer. He became estranged from his faith in God and he ended up becoming an alcoholic because his world fell apart.

You see, no one really knows how pornography will affect them until they start to view it. Some people can become addicted because they are basically looking for the next sexual fulfillment. When they achieve that through masturbation, then many times they may become depressed because the act of masturbating to a sexual image has stolen the joy of a true relationship with their spouse. Over time, what may have aroused them before may no longer arouse them. Their next step may be to view more deviant images or even act out a fantasy.

Pornography is a tool of Satan. The facts are that Satan will use whatever he can to destroy lives, deceive Followers of Christ, tear apart families, and tear down and obliterate martial relationships. Satan is a liar and a deceiver. We live in a world where what was once considered deviant behavior is now normal according to the world’s standards. We live in a world where God and Jesus Christ is not loved and worshipped, but where everything should be accepted because after all, we don’t want to offend anyone. This last statement is another lie from the evil one. Porn should be considered vile and evil because it defiles marriage and invites evil into your life.

What does the Word of God say about this?

Matthew 5:28, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

2 Timothy 2:22, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.”

Proverbs 6:25, “Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes.”

Galatians 5:16, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Romans 8:6, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

James 1:14-15, “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Pornography is a tool authored and used by the evil one, the prince of this world. There is hope. You must take a step of faith to ask God to forgive you of this sin. Once you have done that, then you need to take a second step. I would encourage you to reach out to www.ProvenMen.org for help. Not only can they help you but they will partner with you in overcoming this addiction. God uses Christian men and women to help others to not only come to Christ but overcome their sexual addictions. Please don’t allow pornography to rule your life. Make a change today.

If you want to pray and ask Jesus into your life and heart, just stop right now and pray this prayer:

Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. I am not worthy of you. Lord Jesus, I want you to come into my life and into my heart. Please forgive me of my sinfulness against you and my Heavenly Father. I ask you to come into my life and forgive me. In Jesus name, Amen.

References:

[1] www.ProvenMen.org

[2] RecoveryConnection.com, https://www.recoveryconnection.com/addiction-resources/other-addictions/pornography/, retrieved February 15, 2019.

[3] RecoveryConnection.com.

[4] ProvenMen.org, https://www.provenmen.org/pornography-affect-relationship-god/.

[5] The Didache, http://www.thedidache.com/

Copyright © February 15, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Daily Bread: The Forgiving God

As I was reading and studying the Word of God this morning, Psalm 103 ministered to my heart. I will share a few thoughts that have stood out to me. But first, please join me in reading Psalm 103 (English Standard Version):

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;[a]
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.

The entire chapter is full of wonderful kernels of knowledge about how God loves us and will forgive us as we fear and respect Him. Charles Spurgeon takes note of a couple of truths from this Scripture. Take for instance Psalm 103:5, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “As well might the sea be thought to be full or its billows to be still, as the heart of man to be thought to be satisfied! It is a spiritual blessing, a divine grace that comes from the great satisfying God—the God who is himself all sufficient, the only One who can be sufficient to fill the human heart.”[1] Another translation from the Christian Standard Bible reads, “He satisfies you with good things, your youth is renewed like the eagle.”[2] God provides everything that is wholesome and good for his people.

In verses 11, God’s love is measured by the height of the heavens. His steadfast love is so great towards those who love, fear, and respect him and his ways.

Verse 12 speaks as far as from the east to the west. God forgives sins and he completely removes them. The height and breadth of his love and mercy are endless.

In verse 13, “Just as a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Our sins are so effectively removed that we will not ultimately suffer any loss or damage through having sinned. That detriment was laid on Christ.”[3]

All Christians need to have their spiritual life restored and refreshed so that we can have a full relationship and communion with Christ Jesus. Even if we were to neglect our communion with Christ, he can give it back to us again. God can renew our courage to take the gospel into the world, just as like the eagle. He can give us strength to tell others about the love of Jesus and His saving grace.

Today, please pray that God will renew you, restore you, refresh you, and reinvigorate you to do His work and have a true and faithful relationship with Jesus Christ.

End Notes:

[1] The Spurgeon Study Bible: Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 776.

[2] Spurgeon Study Bible, 776.

[3] Spurgeon Study Bible, 777.

© February 12, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, A Division of Marketplace Evangelism Evangelism Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Racism and Hatred: Derived from One Source

Christians, we need to be on our knees praying for the lost, our leaders (regardless of political party), and for the unborn. The war we fight is not a physical war but a spiritual war. We need to practice our faith in love and stop vomiting hatred towards others.

Most recently, in Virginia we have been faced with accusations against our Governor, Ralph Northam because of a racial picture that appeared in his medical school yearbook under his name. He originally apologized for it, then the next day, he denied that it was him. He then went on to say that he dressed up like Michael Jackson and painted his cheeks black with black shoe polish. He is adamant that he will not step down.

Then the Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax has been accused of sexual assault. This allegedly occurred in 2004 at the Democrat National Convention in Boston according to news sources.

Now our Attorney General, Mark Herring admitted that he painted his face black as an undergraduate in college.

All three of Virginia’s top leaders have controversies that most likely will end their political careers.

In reference to the sexual assault, it is reported that the assault was reported to Virginia Congressman, Bobby Scott, as a #MeToo allegation. It is unknown why this was not investigated a year ago.

In contrast to all of this, there are people who have so much hatred against Democrats and Republicans, that they revert to name calling and distasteful conversation on social media. As Christian’s, we should not be name calling and spewing hatred from our lips. Jesus calls Christians to love the sinner but hate the sin.

The Bible tells us that we should keep our tongue from evil and keep our lips from speaking deceitful speech (1 Peter 3:10). Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Proverbs 10:19, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” Proverbs 15:4, The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” There are many more, but these are a few to meditate on.

The issue at hand is a heart issue. Many people are angry at leaders, both on the Democratic and the Republican sides. I am not here defending abortion promoters, but I am here to say that the words one speaks against others that do not have your same views can come across as hateful and pushes the unsaved farther from the Christian faith. Name calling will not win souls.

Giving excuses to substantiate hateful speech and comments do not hold water when compared to the Word of God. Calling unsaved people names will destroy any evangelistic opportunities that may come their way. God is aware of what these people believe. Please don’t play God, as if you know best. Anything you do that does not match up with the plumb line in how Jesus has commanded us to live is not godly. There are other ways to change people’s hearts.

Most recently, I read a fellow Christian’s post to a news article in response to the Rev. Al Sharpton coming to Richmond to speak to Virginia Union University students. The fellow Christian posted Matthew 7:15, “Beware of False Prophets.” Someone pushed back with a disparaging remark against Christians only for the Christian to post a disparaging remark back to most likely an unsaved person. Folks, we cannot be speaking like this to people. Proclaiming Scripture and then telling someone to do something that is vile is destroying evangelical opportunity to bring people to Christ. These types of words destroy opportunities and will only close doors to spiritual dialogue which could possibility lead another to Christ.

If Christian people want to take a stand for justice for the unborn and other atrocities, they can do it without hate filled comments of name calling and profanities. Calling an act evil is not name calling. As Christians, we should not get ourselves caught up in the evilness of the world. This is exactly what Satan wants us to be doing. Satan relished in the fact that Christian’s are telling others off with profanities and hurtful responses. Satan is the author of confusion and lies. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it in full.” 1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Christians, we need to be on our knees praying for the lost, our leaders (regardless of political party), and for the unborn. The war we fight is not a physical war but a spiritual war. We need to practice our faith in love and stop vomiting hatred towards others. We need to put on the whole armor of God as mentioned in Ephesians 6:10-18. God will not honor our disobedience which can separate us from a full relationship with Christ. Before we attempt to pull the small speck from another’s eye, we need to look in the mirror and remove the large plank from our own eye (cf. Matthew 7:5). If we want to make a difference for the gospel, then we need to have love for one another and for our neighbor. Racism and hatred come from one source, and that is from Satan. Love comes from one source, and that is God and His Loving Son, Jesus Christ. We have a choice. I choose love. What do you choose?

Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Copyright © February 8, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, A Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

International Mission Board: Every Church Every Nation

February 6, 2019. Richmond, Virginia. Tonight at Grove Avenue Baptist Church, we had a glorious time celebrating and sending out the International Mission Board’s (IMB) Southern Baptist missionaries and the installation of Dr. Paul Chitwood, the new President of the IMB. Dr. Chitwood is the thirteenth President of the IMB. There were nineteen new missionaries prayed over and blessed to send them on their way to the utmost parts of the world to tell others of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

A few notable leaders present were Clyde Meador, Executive Vice-President of the IMB; J.D. Greer, President of the Southern Baptist Convention; Danny Aiken, President of Southeastern Seminary; Jeff Lorg, President of Gateway Seminary; D. Jeffrey Bingham, President of Southwestern Theological Seminary; John Upton of the Baptist General Association; Dr. Brian Autry, President of the Southern Baptists Conservatives of Virginia; Jerry Rankin, the 10th President of the IMB; and Tom Eliff, the 11th President of the IMB.

The nineteen missionaries to be sent will work jobs alongside indigenous people so that they can learn their customs, ways, and integrate into their society. Doing so opens up the opportunity to show the love and compassion of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

“Please pray for the new IMB missionaries and Dr. Paul Chitwood and his family as they work together to partner with churches to empower limitless missionary teams who are evangelizing, discipling, planting, and multiplying healthy churches and training leaders among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God.” ~ The International Mission Board.

Jesus Christ was worshipped and glorified at the service through song and praise.

To learn more about the International Mission Board, please visit www.imb.org. The International Mission Board is a Baptist Christian missionary society affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Their headquarters are in Richmond, Virginia.

Copyright © February 6, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, A Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Daily Bread: Having Hardship, Fear, and Anxiety

Even as Christians, we may face from time to time hardship, fear, and anxiety. In God’s Word, it says in Psalm 91:1, “The one who lives under the protection of the Most-High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.” If a person is truly a follower of Jesus Christ, he or she lives in the shadow and under the protection of God, our Father who is in Heaven.

My Refuge and My Fortress

91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Psalm 91 is a refuge Psalm that provides God’s people throughout time, an antidote to hardship, fear, and anxiety. In verses 1 and 2, God is our refuge. This is an affirmation that in Christ, we will find safety and peace regardless of the difficulty or circumstance. In verses 3-13, these are the descriptions of how the Lord is our refuge. Because you are a follower of Jesus Christ, your salvation cannot be snatched away. His faithfulness comes from God’s steadfast love and it is certain that He will keep His promises. Whatever terrors come at night, God will see you through. God loves you and it is through His love that we have protection because of our faith in Him.

As we walk through life, if we are walking with the Lord Jesus Christ, we are living under His protection, in His shadow. To do this, we must be close to Him, know Him, and have a personal relationship with Him. There must be a great familiarity with God to have access to Jesus Christ and His protection.

If you want to have access to His love, grace, and protection; if you want to live in His shadow, then pray to ask Jesus Christ into your life. Pray the following prayer:

“Dear Jesus, I am a sinner and lost without hope. I believe that you are the Son of God, that you died for my sins, and rose from the grave 3 days later. I repent of all my sins and wrong doings. I ask you to come into my life and live in me for the remainder of my natural life. I want to live for you forever. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.”

If you have prayed that prayer and you meant it, Jesus will come into your life and you will be living in the shadow of God. Please find a Bible believing church and start attending so that you can be discipled in the ways of the Lord. It is my prayer that you receive Christ today.

 

Copyright © February 6, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, A Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.