July 21 “Two kinds of fear” & LINKUP

fear, courage

There are two kinds of fear? Fear can be filled with faith or sinful depending on its focus.

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 3 & 4
Psalm 86.11-17
Proverbs 21.17-18
Acts 22.1-30

Ezra 3 & 4:

Fear of man and a higher authority

In chapter 3, even though the people who returned to Jerusalem had the authority of the king behind them, there was still opposition from the people already living in the land. Verse 3 says, “… fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries …” But in spite of their feelings they determined to do what was right and to worship God as Moses had instructed them to do.

Even though there is a move to restrict our rights as believers, we still have a great deal of freedom under the laws of our land. And while Romans 13 instructs us to obey those who rule over us, even that has limitations. Anytime someone in authority asks us to sin, we have a higher authority—that is God and His Word.

There will be times on the job (even when we are within our rights) or in our families where we will feel fear—fear of being ridiculed, fear of being rejected, fear of what people will think, even in some cases, fear of losing our jobs. But, we too, can do what’s right in spite of our feelings. Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it is doing what’s right in spite of it!

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July 20 “Love your enemy”

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“Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matt. 5.44).

What do you value more—your rights when abused and mistreated or the eternal destiny of your abuser?

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 1 & 2
Psalm 86.6-10
Proverbs 21.15-16
Acts 21.18-40

Ezra 1 & 2:

God the Author of human history

Jerusalem

The book of Ezra picks up where 2 Chronicles left off, with a pagan king named Cyrus sending the captives who wanted to return, back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.

Verse 1 says, “that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled …” God was orchestrating the course of human events. History is His-story.

And just as God is in control of the events of human history, He is control of our individual histories, as well. Continue reading

July 19 “The Rapture … will you be left behind?”

confused

Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left (Lk. 17.35-36). Which one will you be?

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 34-36
Psalm 86.1-5
Proverbs 21.13-14
Acts 21.1-17

2 Chronicles 34-36:

Mercy … but then judgment

In chapter 34 Josiah had become king at the ripe old age of 8, but what a king he was! Verse 3 says that he began to seek the Lord in the eighth year of his reign. He would have been just 16 years old. By the age of 20 he was putting a stop to idolatry. Next he began clearing out the temple and getting ready to reinstate the proper temple worship. In the process Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord.

Several things struck me about all this. First, the Word of God was not being taught. People were just doing whatever seemed right to them. The second thing was Josiah’s response to the Word when it was read to him. He tore his clothes, a statement of intense mourning and repentance. He was repenting, not just for himself, but for the nation as a whole, because he realized just how far they had departed from the truth. He understood that they were under God’s judgment because of it.

So he sent Hilkiah and a group of men to meet with a prophetess named Continue reading

July 18 “Paul’s secret to finishing well”

finish-line[1]

Will you finish well or will pride and self-sufficiency show up when least expected? Find out what makes the difference.

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 32 & 33
Psalm 85.8-13
Proverbs 21.12
Acts 20.17-38

2 Chronicles 32 & 33:

He started out well, but …

Wow! What a great start Hezekiah had. When he realized the Assyrian King Sennacherib was plotting to overtake Judah he sprung into action, working with his leaders and encouraging the people by reminding them of God’s faithfulness. Chapter 32.7-8:

7 “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

And when the danger grew worse: Continue reading

July 17 “One reason we fail”

failure

Why do so many believers fail to lead fruitful Christian lives? How can we go from an intellectual knowledge of the Scriptures to a life that reflects Christ to the world?

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 30 & 31
Psalm 85.1-7
Proverbs 21.9-11
Acts 20.1-16

2 Chronicles 30 & 31:

What happens when God’s people come together

Here in these two chapters Hezekiah calls the people to repentance and worship. He sends runners throughout the land even to the Northern Kingdom to extend the invitation. Although most of the people in the Northern Kingdom “laughed at them and mocked them,” the people of Judah came together with “singleness of heart.” What followed was a great revival when the people began giving in abundance to support the priests and Levites and the operation of the temple. And when they did, God blessed them abundantly. Continue reading

July 16 “Child sacrifice & abortion”

pregnant, pregnancy

We shutter to think of any “religion” or worldview that would allow child sacrifice, but is our nation’s view of abortion any different?

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 28 & 29
Psalm 84.8-12
Proverbs 21.6-8
Acts 19.21-41

This is a busy month for me and probably for most of you. I know it’s easy to get off track when kids are out of school and we’re taking vacations, etc., so I encourage you, to do your best to keep going. But, if you do miss a few days, just pick back up where we are. We have so much to gain from remaining faithful and so much wisdom to learn from His Word.

We still have all the epistles in the New Testament and the prophets in the Old ahead of us and I know God is going to show us great things!

bible

And if you’ve just recently stopped by to visit, I hope you’ll join us. Whether you started at the beginning or not, you will benefit greatly from a systematic reading of God’s love letter to us because:

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3.16-17).

On to today’s very important readings …

2 Chronicles 28 & 29:

Child sacrifice & abortion

Can you imagine a king (Ahaz) so evil that he would sacrifice his own children to false gods! And yet, it still goes on today! Children are sacrificed at the abortion clinic, to the gods of drug addiction and drunkenness, to the gods of sexual perversion, to the gods of “I’m too busy with my career” or “I want a divorce, because I just can’t be happy and I’m sure God wants me happy!” and many more.

You may think that I bring up abortion too often. I do so NOT to put any condemnation on someone who has had an abortion in the past:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8.1).

The blood of Christ covers ALL our sins when we come to Him in saving faith. But I do believe abortion is possibly the greatest evil of our day and we must be willing to stand up against it no matter how unpopular it makes us!

The lie that abortion solves “a problem” permeates our society. But conception is more than an “unplanned pregnancy,” more than an inconvenience, more than an accident. It’s the beginning of a new life and ordained by God no matter what the circumstances (Gen. 29.31, 30.22).

It doesn’t solve a “problem;” it creates a much bigger one. The pain and consequences of abortion, not only end the life of a pre-born human being created in the image of God, but leave scars on the heart and soul (and sometimes the body) of the mother, and often the father, as well.

pregnant

If you or someone you know is contemplating an abortion or has had one in the past, I want to encourage you to contact a crisis pregnancy center in your area. They offer help and counseling to those who are pregnant and post-abortive counseling to those who have had an abortion in the past. Many offer counseling to fathers, too. If you live in El Paso you can contact the Pregnancy Help Center and Fatherhood Help Services.

If you are being pressured to have an abortion, you have rights, no matter what your age. LIFECALL can tell you how to protect your baby and your rights. They can even provide an attorney free of charge. God love YOU and YOUR BABY.

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July 15 “Pride … me?”

pride

Stuart Scott says, “Pride is the opposite of humility and it is one of the most loathed sins in God’s sight” (Prov. 16.5). He adds, “We all have pride … The question is not ‘Do I have it?’ but, ‘Where is it?’ and ‘How much of it do I have?’”

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 25-27
Psalm 84.1-7
Proverbs 21.4-5
Acts 19.1-20

2 Chronicles 25-27:

His heart was lifted up to his destruction

In chapter 26 we read about Uzziah who, “did what was right in the sight of the Lord …” (v. 4) and “… as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper” (v. 5) “But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction …” (v. 6).

The rest of the story reveals a king who thought he was above God’s law. He went into the temple and burned incense in the priest’s place. And even when he was confronted by Azariah and 80 other priests, he refused to heed God’s commands. Verses 19-20:

19 Then Uzziah became furious; and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the incense altar. 20 And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and there, on his forehead, he was leprous; so they thrust him out of that place. Indeed he also hurried to get out, because the LORD had struck him.

God is a God of patience and mercy, but He does eventually judge sin. He showed mercy to Uzziah by sending His priests to confront him. But when he refused to listen to their godly rebuke, God dealt with him. Continue reading

July 14 “Giving & the weight of your heart” & LINKUP

giving heart

God doesn’t want us to give grudgingly or of necessity, but giving is a good indicator of our hearts.

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 23 & 24
Psalm 83.9-18
Proverbs 21.2-3
Acts 18.1-28

2 Chronicles 23 & 24:

Separation of church and state?

We hear a lot about separation of church and state, which by the way is not even in our Constitution. But did you notice who God used to preserve the last heir to the Davidic throne? It was the high priest, Jehoiada, who was not afraid to get involved in civil matters like who should be king (ch. 23).

Giving generously

Then in chapter 24 we see the king commanding that an offering be taken up to support the work of God (v. 9). Look how the people responded in verses 10-11:

10 Then all the leaders and all the people rejoiced, brought their contributions, and put them into the chest until all had given. 11 So it was, at that time, when the chest was brought to the king’s official by the hand of the Levites, and when they saw that there was much money, that the king’s scribe and the high priest’s officer came and emptied the chest, and took it and returned it to its place. Thus they did day by day, and gathered money in abundance. Continue reading

July 13 “Compromise & influence”

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Compromise and influence affected one family and a nation for generations. How are you influencing others, especially your children? Often, what you do in moderation, your children will do to excess!

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 21 & 22
Psalm 83.1-8
Proverbs 21.1
Acts 17.16-34

2 Chronicles 21 & 22:

The off ramp of compromise

Can you imagine your brother-in-law becomes the king and the next thing you know there is a knock on the door. There are soldiers outside. They drag your husband out and kill him in front of you and the children! Then they head for the homes of your other family members! Continue reading

July 12 “In defense of our unborn babies”

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As a nation we will answer to God for our failure to defend the fatherless. Pray that our nation as a whole and our leaders, in particular, would repent and change. In the meantime, let’s commit to do all we can for the most innocent and helpless of the fatherless, our unborn babies.

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 19 & 20
Psalm 82.1-8
Proverbs 20.29-30
Acts 17.1-15

2 Chronicles 19 & 20:

Rebuked by God for the people he associated with

Verses 19.1-2, “Then Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned safely to his house in Jerusalem. And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to King Jehoshaphat, ‘Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Therefore the wrath of the LORD is upon you.'”

Here was a man who loved God and obeyed Him in many areas, but God was greatly displeased with him because of the people he associated with!

But, notice that he didn’t respond to the prophet in pride or anger. It appears he had a teachable attitude. I believe he repented and recommitted himself to doing God’s will.

God still corrects and rebukes His children through the reading and preaching of the Word and, at times, through people. How do you respond when rebuked by God? Continue reading