Causing Little Ones to Sin

Today’s Devotional is taken from Mark 9:42-48

In our world today, people have an aversion to talking about Hell and sin. It is very offensive and distasteful. People would rather talk about Heaven and forgiveness. It is important to understand that when we ignore sin and the consequence of Hell, we are robbing the power of the Gospel of Christ.

Please look at Mark 9:42-48, “42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’”

Verse 42 is not just about children, but about those in the faith that have been led astray to sin. A child is used as an illustration for the followers of Christ. Those who follow Jesus are little, small, and vulnerable. To lead someone who is a follower of Christ to sin, it would be better if a millstone were tied around their neck and they were thrown into the Atlantic than the consequences of them going to Hell. This is a warning about causing others to sin. Jesus loves us so much. We are all little ones in the sight of God. Therefore, if you are the cause of a Christian to sin, fall from their faith, mess up their relationship with Christ, then it would be better if a millstone were tied around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. Doing this calls for the most severe punishment, going to Hell. If your life is the cause of another’s life’s shipwreck, then you will be held responsible for your actions.

Verse 43 is directed for us. If we are doing something in our lives with sin, then we will be held accountable for what we do. Although Christ died for you, if you have asked Him to forgive you, you should not want to continue to sin. But if you intentionally sin, read what Jesus said about that in Verses 43-45, “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.” Your hands and feet need to be under the control of Jesus so that you will not do things that are not pleasing to God. Your feet should be under the control of Jesus so that you will not be tempted to go somewhere where you shouldn’t go.

In verses 47-48, “47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’” If you are looking at things that you shouldn’t look at, then you need to stop. If your computer is tempting you to look at pornography on line, it would be better for you to smash your computer. Jesus said that you would be better to tear your eye out that to go to Hell. Understand this, if you are still playing with sin and not growing in Christ, then you have a spiritual problem which you better get eradicated as opposed to going to Hell for sin.

Although, the exaggeration of the millstone, gouging your eye out, cutting off your hands and feet are used to make a point. Jesus is talking about the costly and radical renunciations of sinful habits. He has identified the fallen heart as the origin of all defiling sins as mentioned in Mark 7:20-23, “20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

In verse 48, Jesus’ images of the undying worm and unquenchable fire teach the unending torment awaiting those who die under God’s wrath, and thus the eternal significance of each’s individual response to God’s holy law and His Gospel. Mark 9:48, “‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’”

Playing fast and free with sin in your life can affect others and potentially cause them to sin. Your indifference to sin can cause others to stumble and fall away from faith. If you feel that you can come to Christ and He set you free; that you can just do what you want or continue sinning, you are greatly mistaken. What defiles a man or woman comes from inside of that man or woman. Each of us are tempted by our own evil desires.  It is only through Christ and total commitment to Him that we can fight these desires. Total and true commitment leads to a transformation of the heart and a change in our lifestyles and actions. If one was involved in sexual sin prior to coming to Christ, it is not good to go to an R rated movie where you are watching sexual situations on screen or over the internet. This temptation can open yourself up to sin. Your eyes may take a second, third, or fourth look at the pornography you are watching in this R rated movie. You were bought with a price; therefore, you do not belong to yourself. You belong to Jesus, therefore glorify God with your body. You must do this in a way that is radical, because without holiness, no one will see the Lord. We must work out a strategy to eradicate sin. The only way to do that is to trust God and refrain from participating in opportunities to sin. If one was an alcoholic before coming to Christ, it would be best not to frequent bars. Taking that one drink can cause you to fall backwards.

When do we need to take action? The Bible says that we need to act now but in contrast, Satan says that we can do it tomorrow. We must humble ourselves and we must turn all our focus on Jesus Christ and ask Him to forgive us, change our hearts, and live our lives in a way that is holy and acceptable to Christ.

References:

Alistair Begg, Truth for Life, Sermon “Sin is Serious, Hell is Real.”

The Reformation Bible

Photo Credit: Trinity Kubassek; Pexels.com

Copyright July 16, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries.

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Are You a Luke Warm Christian?

I have not always lived for Christ. I was once a much worse and terrible person, but thank God for His eternal love, that He changed my life forever.

I love the Word of God. I take great comfort in knowing that I am saved from an eternal hell and damnation. I have not always lived for Christ. I was once a much worse and terrible person, but thank God for His eternal love, that He changed my life forever. I was once a lukewarm Christian who barely picked up his Bible to read and embrace Christianity. God changed my heart and Jesus transformed me. I am still a work in progress. I still have a sinful nature, but now I find it easier to resist temptation. If you are not embracing your faith, reading your Bible, praying with your spouse, having a conversation with the Father, then I would say that you are lukewarm and have a casual relationship with Jesus. My regret is that I wished that I had not wasted over 30 years in being a lukewarm Christian!

The Bible speaks of being “lukewarm” as a condition that can separate you from God. In Revelation 3:15-16, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” These words were written to the Church of Laodieca.

According to RC Sproul, “Laodicea’s water supply had to be provided from a distant source through pipes. The resulting water was lukewarm and barely drinkable. By contrast, the neighboring town of Hierapolis had medicinal hot springs, and neighboring Colossae was supplied by a cold mountain stream. Christ urges the church to be refreshing (cold) or medicinally healing (hot), rather than like the unhealthy Laodicean lukewarm water supply.”[1]

Being lukewarm is unhealthy. Christ would rather that you either be hot or cold, but lukewarm means that you have no real commitment to Christ. You might just be a church attender who thinks they are saved because your Mom and Dad attended church and you are attending the same church. You will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven on your parent’s coat-tails. You do not have an identity in Christ on your girlfriend’s relationship with Christ and her faith.

I once met a young man that was dating a friend’s daughter. The daughter was a committed Christian and was on fire for Christ. He on the other hand had no identity in Christ. I asked him if he had any spiritual belief’s? His response was that he had a relationship with his girlfriend and was trying to find the Lord through her. Although his quest may be noble, she could not save him from his sin. He would never find salvation by only his relationship with the girl. It would only come through an acknowledgement that he was lost without a Savior, he was a sinner, and he could not save himself. He had to acknowledge that Jesus was the Son of God and that only through Jesus, would his sins would be forgiven. He would have to ask Jesus to forgive him, believe in his mind and heart that Jesus died for him. He had to ask Jesus into his heart and repent, meaning to change his way of life. He would have to start living his life as a changed man, on fire for God.

But many may never grow in the Lord because they may never truly have had a real heart change and transformation to live their life as closely to that of Jesus.

Jesus said in verse 16, “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” This means that Jesus the Christ wants His Followers to be hot, on fire for Him. He wants us to be engaged in our faith, reading the Word of God, praying, and having a full relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Being a Christian is a lifestyle change, hoping and wanting the best for your fellow man and woman. It is truly loving your neighbor as yourself and treating each other with kindness. Being kind to one another is pretty close to loving one another.

Being lukewarm shows no real commitment to God or to our loving Savior, Jesus of Nazareth. Being lukewarm means that you have decided that your relationship with God is not worthy of you spending time with God. You are more or less on the fence, not wanting to offend anyone with talk about Jesus and what He came into the world to do.

Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son (Jesus), that whoever believes in Him (Jesus), will not perish (die and go to hell), but would have everlasting life (Heaven). For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it” John 3:16-17.

Won’t you consider coming to Christ in a full and complete way, so that the Lord will not spew you out of His mouth for you being lukewarm? Don’t be a Follower like those from the Laodicean Church, who had an indifference to Christ and His holy ways of living. Instead, be all in for Christ, not someone who sways every time the wind blows. Be a committed Christian and live your life for Christ like you really mean it! It’s time to get off the fence and engage the Gospel of Christ. Time is short. When will you fully come to Christ?

References:

[1] RC Sproul, Ed., The Reformation Study Bible, (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2015), 2310.

Copyright April 2, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I Can Do All Things Through Christ: Overcoming Anxiety & Worry

I have known born-again Christians who were faced with medical issues. They were concerned and lost sleep over this medical condition. Although through Scriptural encouragement, many continued to worry and could not seem to stop worrying about their condition.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I see this verse as a status on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, as well as other social media platforms. I wonder though when reading through many social media status posts and thoughts of people, do they truly place their trust and faith in Jesus Christ? Do they post this as their motto and when the bad times occur or the challenges of life, do they cave into the humanity of their mortal selves and start to worry and become depressed because their life has been somewhat altered?

I have known born-again Christians who were faced with medical issues. They were concerned and lost sleep over this medical condition. Although through Scriptural encouragement, many continued to worry and could not seem to stop worrying about their condition. Through my own medical conditions, I have learned to accept each condition and have embraced them as they have brought me so ever close to God and Jesus Christ. I have learned to lean on God and His Son in every adversity and emergency.

This morning, I went to a seminar series being recorded at the church that I attend. Dr. Tony Crisp was preaching his series called “Living Beyond Brokenness.” Although I would love to write about the entire series, I will be focusing on one takeaway from his series which inspired me to write this article. The Scripture he shared leads up to Philippians 4:13. If I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, then worry and drama is not of God and is an attack of the prince of this world, Satan.

Worry can lead to depression, which is many times a manifestation of a demonic attack. Worry is not something that we should dwell on, because it separates us from God and His promise. Let’s read Philippians 4:4-19:

“4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Look at verse 6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Being anxious about whatever you are worrying about is not what God wants us to do. Satan relishes in our confusion. Instead of worrying and being so concerned about our health or other circumstances, pray and turn them over to God. After all, that is what it means to say I can do all things through Christ as Philippians 4:13 suggests. Medical adversity may occur as well as life’s problems in Believer’s lives. The world is watching in how we handle these circumstances. By turning all over to Jesus and laying these adversities at Christ’s feet, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” as mentioned in verse 7. Even in adversity, praise God for it. God will see how you handle life’s problems and He will give you strength to get through (cf. verses 8 and 9). Practice these things and they will become part of your life. If you want to truly be successful in walking with Christ, then you must stop worrying about things that you have no control over. Embrace it and continue to walk with Christ as He will see you through. Anxiety is incompatible with trusting in God.

Dr. Crisp suggests that if you are struggling with anxiety and depression, then read through Philippians 4:4-9 at least 100 times. You are not trying to memorize these Scriptures, but you are trying to internalize them so that the oppression will cease. My suggestion is to read these verses at least 10 times each day and pray at least four times each day. Pray in the morning before getting ready for work, at noon, in the afternoon, and at bedtime. Getting into a true prayer life with our Lord is the only way to have a true relationship with Jesus. Not only should you read these Scriptures but also start reading God’s Word. I read early in the morning because it helps me through the day. I also read some at night before bedtime.

For Christ to empower you so that you can do all things through Him and His strength, you must have a real relationship with Him. The only way to do that is to acknowledge that you are a sinner, lost without hope. Pray and ask Jesus into your heart. Ask Him to come into your life and forgive you of your sins. He will surely do that if you ask him. Dr. Crisp stated, “The moment you are saved, you are forgiven for whatever you have ever done in your life. God declares you to be righteous because it’s not that you alone are righteous but is based on the finished work of Jesus Christ that makes you righteous.”

If you do not know Jesus as your Savior, then please read through these Scriptures to understand what Jesus did for you.

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.”

If you want to ask Jesus into your life, then pray this prayer. Once prayed, then you will be saved and have the empowerment mentioned in Philippians 4:13.

“Heavenly Father, I have sinned against You. I want forgiveness for all 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.”

I pray that you will receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and that you will live for Him the remainder of your life. It is through Jesus that I can face tomorrow and the uncertainties of life. As the song goes, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living just because He lives.”

References:

Dr. Tony Crisp, “Living Beyond Brokenness,” Grove Avenue Baptist Church, March 9, 2019.

Copyright © March 9, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

The Daily Bread: Have you felt Defeated?

Have you ever felt defeated? Have you felt like you have lost everything? In Psalm 86, David cries out to God. Were you aware that you can pray this same prayer and it could apply to your own life in our current society? I could certainly make a commentary about the Psalm, but I will not. Instead, I encourage you to read it, and then pray it to God. He will hear your voice and minister to you.

Psalm 86 ~ A Prayer of David

Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.

Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.

11 Teach me your way, Lord,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.

14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
they have no regard for you.
15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.
17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

May the Lord bless you! May the Lord restore you! May the Lord shine His face on you, that you may be saved. (cf. Psalm 80:3)

I pray that God will bless you and forgive you of your sin. Jesus is waiting and wanting to come into your heart. Won’t you seek Him?

Copyright © January 29, 2019. Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Daily Bread: Monday January 28, 2019

May God be gracious to us and bless us; may he make his face shine upon us so that your way may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. ~ Psalms 67:1-2

Blessed be the Lord! Day after day he bears our burdens; God is our salvation. ~ Psalms 68:19

Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; sing praise to the Lord. ~ Psalms 68:32

God you know my foolishness, and my guilty acts are hidden from you. Do not let those who put their hope in you be disgraced because of me. ~ Psalms 69:5-6

God, you have taught me from my youth, and I still proclaim your wondrous works. Even when I am old and gray, God, do not abandon me, while I proclaim your power to another generation, your strength to all who are to come. ~ Psalms 71:17-18

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are protected. ~ Proverbs 18:10

The Christian Life: Colossians 3:12-17

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. 14 Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

May the Lord bless you today and throughout this coming week.