Hunger for the Word

Amos 8:11-12
11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD. 12 “People will stagger from sea to sea And from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.

We have a famine in our country today.  People are starving for God’s Word and they do not even know it.  Sadly, while the Bible is readily available here, people choose to not read it.  Other countries also have a famine, but their famine is caused from a lack of availability of the Word.  They heavily feast on it when ever they get the chance.  Here is a video that shows some Chinese Christians in tears as they receive their own copy of the Bible.  They are in tears over how excited they are.  Where is our hunger like that?  My family owns a lot of Bibles and sadly a lot of them sit on a shelf gathering dust.  Sadly, this describes a lot of American homes.  Where is our hunger and thirst for the word?

We need to get our appetite back.  We need to get into the Word and learn from God.  This world teaches foolishness, the Word of God teaches true wisdom.  This world does not satisfy, but God’s Word does.  It nourishes our souls.  It fills us with the nutrients we need.  It gives us energy for our day.  It guides along a dangerous path.  We need to take advantage of having God’s Word.  People in our countries are literally dying to have a little access to it.  Wake up America!

Dear God, help me to be in Your Word.  Help me to memorize it and learn from it.  Help me to seek the wisdom in it.  Forgive me for squandering the gift You have given me.  It is to my shame that I do not read it more.  Bless those in other countries who have such a thirst and appetite for it.  Help them to get a copy of it.  Protect them from the evil which is in our world.  Amen.

Seek Good and Not Evil

Amos 5:12-15
12 For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great, You who distress the righteous and accept bribes And turn aside the poor in the gate. 13 Therefore at such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time. 14 Seek good and not evil, that you may live; And thus may the LORD God of hosts be with you, Just as you have said! 15 Hate evil, love good, And establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the LORD God of hosts May be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

We live in evil time.  There is evil and sin all around us.  Our culture promotes and celebrates sin.  We live in time where evil is considered good and good is considered evil.  If you stand for what is right, this world considers you hateful and afraid of the wrong.  If you disagree with homosexuality, you automatically hate homosexuals and are  homophobic.    People at times are afraid to voice an opinion in order not to be shamed.  It really is a sad time.  As verse 13 says good people keep silent because it is an evil time.

However, this is not what God wants.  He does not want our silence.  He wants us to take stand, full of love and grace.  We are to seek good and not evil.  We are love good and hate evil.  We are to be full of grace, but yet stand strong against the evil of this world.  We are to love people and hate sin.  Some people think this is not possible, but these people do not truly know God.  With God all things are possible.  When we see our sin before God and realize that God has separated us from our sin when we accept Christ.  Our sin does not define us.  The love of God defines us.  God loves us but hates our sin.  We can look at others, like that, and love them and hate their sin.  We must condemn sin and love people.  We must stand for right actions and push ourselves and others to do what is right.  Only by God’s help is this possible.

Dear God, I thank you that You separate us from our sin.  You love me and hate my sin.  Help me to do that with others.  Help me to love them and hate their sin.  Help me to stand firm and do what is right.  Help me to be firm on what is right.  Help me to speak up and not be silent.  Help me to seek Your approval and not the worlds.  Amen.

A Warning

Amos 2:4-5
4 Thus says the LORD, “For three transgressions of Judah and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because they rejected the law of the LORD And have not kept His statutes; Their lies also have led them astray, Those after which their fathers walked. 5 “So I will send fire upon Judah And it will consume the citadels of Jerusalem.”

The prophet Amos opens up his book by announcing judgement on various nations.  The judgement of each nation all begin with “For three transgressions (nation) and for four”.  Each nation had wrong before God and He had ample reasons to bring judgement against them.  Sadly most nations today do as well.

In my country, we have committed many transgressions.  We sacrifice baby lives in the name of convenience.  We accept things detestable to God, as normal things.  We constantly use the name of the Lord in vain.  We reward some people for bad behavior, in fact we encourage it.  We deny the Word of God, instead we accept the word of men.  For three transgressions of the United States of America and for four, God will one day pour out His judgement and wrath.  We deserve it.  But because God is, who He is, He offers us a chance.  We must repent and return to God.  We must accept His Word and law and not man’s.  We must be a voice for the voiceless and speak up for those who are weakest in the womb.  We must encourage good behavior and reward it.

We will face judgement unless we repent.  Our only hope is the grace of God.  Wake up America!

Dear God, help us turn from our wicked ways.  Help us to return to You.  We deserve Your judgement and wrath, but You are our only hope.  I deserved judgement and wrath, but by Your grace I am saved from it.  Help me to speak for the voiceless.  Amen.

Jonah: The Hateful Prophet

Jonah 4:2-3
2 He prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. 3 “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.”

Jonah had a hatred for the people of Nineveh.  They were his worst enemies.  I would not be surprised if he prayed for their total destruction.  Then God came to him and told him to go there and to the people to repent or God would destroy the city.  Jonah loved the second part, but not the first.  He knew the character of God.  Look at verse 2.  He calls God both gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and full of love and second chances.  These are words and adjectives we use to praise and worship God.  Yet, Jonah found them to be depressing, when God was reaching out to Jonah’s enemies.

He ran the opposite way, trying to flee from God.  He got a boat sailing west, when Nineveh was to the east.  David in the Psalms (Psalm 139) that there is no where we can go that God is not.  God was with Jonah on that boat.  God is with you where ever you are, no matter how glum it might seem.  God raised up a big storm and tossed that boat all around.  Jonah tells the crew their only hope is to throw him overboard.  They reluctantly agree and the storm ceases.  Jonah is swallowed up by a big fish and for three days he lives inside of it.  On the third day he prays for God to forgive him and the fish vomits him out on dry land.  God tells Jonah to go for a second time and he does.

When he gets to this great city, a city that took three days to walk through it, he preaches the worst sermon ever for revival.  We see his message in chapter 3 verse 4.  In forty days the city will be destroyed.  He is still stuck on the second part of God’s message.  Notice the word repent or change or turn is not there.  His message does not give the people any hope.  You do not need a great sermon, if the spirit of God is working in the hearts of listeners.  The people repent, big time.  All of the people, starting with king, humble themselves before God and God forgives them and relents.

Jonah leaves the city and sits down and whines about the whole thing.  This where the verses above come in.  He describes the character of God really well, but instead of being encourage by it, he is depressed.  He just gave the worst sermon ever and got the greatest amount of converts ever and he is depressed to the point of wanting death.  The point the matter is Jonah had hatred in his heart for this people and needed to repent from it.  God graciously included Jonah in His work and yet Jonah was more concerned with his own prejudice over the greatness of God.

In the end all we see is a grumbling Jonah.  We do not know if His was ever turned.  Do you have hatred for a people group in your heart?  If so, you need to deal with it.  God calls us to show love for others not hatred.  The hatred will blind you to the needs of these people.  God can use you to reach to them.  Many of people have turned their hatred into love and graciously brought the Gospel to their former enemies.  And unlike Jonah their hearts are now filled with love.  Go to God and confess that hatred.  Ask Him to change your heart, to be more like His.

Dear God, I confess my heart is sometimes filled with hatred of others.  Forgive me.  Help me to repent and have a love for others.  Help me to not depressed by your characteristics, but filled with praise and worship from them.  Help to me pray for my enemies and love them.  May you just be working in their hearts as You are working in mine.  For everyone is need of You.  Amen.

Be On Alert

Mark 13:32-33
32 “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 33 “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.

It is amazing how many people purposely skip over verse 32 and make some dumb prediction of when Jesus is coming back.  Jesus is only the Father knows when it will be, but He gives us signs to look out for.  Making a prediction of a certain day is dumb, for it is something we cannot know or figure out.  Reading the signs Jesus gave and realizing the hour COULD be near is wise.  My great-grandma use to say every night, that we were one day close to Jesus’ return.  His return is getting closer each moment.  We need to be ready.  Our unsaved family and neighbors need to be ready.

I believe that all of the technology needed for the tribulation period has been developed.  It says in Revelation (Revelation 11:9), that when two witnesses are killed the who world will see their bodies for three and half days and have a massive party over them.  Not only do we have 24/7 cable news programs that can show this, but our computers, tablets, and smartphones can all tune in as well.  If you ever go on Facebook or other social media, you see people going “live” all of the time and streaming their own video.  The technology is there for this.

Also the Bible mentions having a one world currency and people taking the “Mark of the Beast” and using the mark to pay for things.  Just in the past two weeks, a story came out about a company implanting a microchip in their employees.  This microchip will pay for food in the food court and also grant them access to the office doors.  The implanted microchip is the size on a grain of rice.

These are but two signs, but we see many more.  The fact that there is a nation of Israel is one.  The fact that people are striving after peace in the middle east, is another.  People are looking for someone to rise up and bring peace to the world.  They are looking for a Messiah, but sadly they are looking in the wrong places.  In the end times, a so-called messiah will rise and bring temporary peace, but that peace will not last.  Instead he will kill multitudes to enforce it.  Soon after the true Messiah will come and bring everlasting peace.  He is the true King and Ruler.  His name is Jesus.

Jesus wants to bring that peace to our hearts right now.  He stands at the door at knocks, asking to come into our hearts (Revelation 3:20).  When we the open door and ask Him in, we are saved from the terrible times ahead.  God will call His people out before the great Tribulation begins.  It is possible for people to be saved during the Tribulation period, but those people will have to go through that hell.

Have you allowed Jesus into your heart yet?  He is there, perusing you.  He is begging you to save you.  You do not need to beg Him.  His desire is that all are saved, including you.  Make today the day, open the door of your heart and let Him in.  Ask Him to save you.  Ask Him to forgive you and cleanse you.  Our sins make us filthy.  Only the blood shed by Jesus can clean that filth.  We need to believe, by faith in Him, that this is true.  He is the only way and we need Him to save us.  I beg you, do it today for the time is short.

Dear God, I thank you that You have given us signs of Your return.  Help us to pay attention to those signs and be ready.  Help us to share with others how good You are.  I thank you for saving me.  I pray for those who lead to this who are not saved.  I pray that today would be the day that let You into their hearts and let You cleanse them and save them.  I so desire to be with You.  Help me live like the time is short and share the good news about You with everyone.  Amen.

Greatest Commandments

Mark 12:28-31
28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; 30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ 31 “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame sums up these two commandments Jesus gave like this, “Love Jesus and love people”.  All of God’s laws are fulfilled by doing these two.  We need to love God with all that we are.  All of out heart, mind, soul, and strength.  We are to love God thoroughly in all areas of our lives.  Loving Him, should be the top priority in all of the areas of our lives.  We are to give all of our lives to Him and hold nothing back.  Every day when we get up, we need to search out ways to love God in everything that we do.  When God has our whole everything, we will not worship other gods.  We will honor Him and serve Him alone.

The scribe only asked Jesus for one commandment, but Jesus gave him a two for one special.  We need love others the same amount we love ourselves.  When we do that, we will not cover what our neighbor has.  We will not look to steal what they have.  We will seek their good and not their destruction.

By following these two, we will follow all of God’s laws.  Easier said than done right?  Well God is there to help us.  Only by Him can we do these things.  Our nature pulls as away from these two things and we fail at times.  But God is there to pick us back up and help us getting walking again.  Let us do what Phil says, to “Love Jesus and love others.”

Dear God, I need Your help to follow these two commandments.  I thank you for Your grace, which picks me back up when I fall.  You are so amazing.  Amen.

God’s House

Mark 11:15-17
15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; 16 and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. 17 And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS ‘? But you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”

If Jesus was to walk into your church, how do you think He would respond?  Would He turn over the tables and scold everyone?  Or would He praise your church for doing things the right way?  I have to think that a lot of church’s would face His wrath, rather get His praise.  Too many people use church or religious items to make a buck.  If you do not believe me walk into a Christian book store.  There is a lot items sold that have very little to do with Jesus.

Church needs to be about the business of Jesus.  Now that does not mean stuff cannot be sold in church.  It means they should not be sold for a profit.  The people in the temple were selling sacrificial animals and making money off of it.  Church should not be a place for us to make money.  We should not be using church to do business.  Church is not a place to make business contacts.  Church is a place for serving others.

Lord, please help us to treat Your house as special.  Help us to not use church to make money, but for prayer and service.  Help us to be about Your business.  Amen.

Only God Can Save

Mark 10:26-27
26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

One day we will all die.  A lot of people believe they will be able to reason their way into Heaven.  They believe all they have to do is tell Jesus that they were better people than so and so (Whoever this so and so is, they must have been really bad, because everybody believes that they are better than them!  Sorry bad joke).  Any way, most people believe that were better than most other people.  Sadly, entrance to Heaven is not based on a curve.  We do not get in by being better than others.  In these verses, Jesus says that it is impossible for us to save ourselves.  Only through God, through whom all things are possible are we able to be saved.

Jesus, who is the Son of God, came to earth and lived a perfect life.  He willingly laid down and sacrificed His life, in order to pay the penalty for our sins.  His blood was shed for us, as the perfect Lamb of God.  His sacrifice is accepted by the Father and used to justify us.  So that when we come to faith in Christ, the Father looks at us and sees Christ.  All of our dirty, sinful deeds are replaced with Christ’s righteousness.  This is the only way, in which we can get into Heaven.  Jesus is my only hope.  If we are every asked why God should let us into Heaven, the only answer is because of what Jesus did on the cross.

Have you asked Jesus to save you and forgive you?  If not, you currently have no hope.  Seek Him out today.  Ask Him to forgive you.  Ask Him to save you.  Believe in Him that He is the only way to Heaven.  Jesus is the only way.  Trust in Him.

Dear God, I thank you for saving me.  What is impossible for me to do, You did.  All things are possible with You.  There is no one like You.  You are so amazing, so perfect.  You are so Holy and wonderful.  Thank you for everything.  Amen.

Another Paradox

Mark 9:35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

Here we find Jesus imparting wisdom to His disciples.  Do not strive to be first, strive to be last and in doing so you will be first.  Got it?  This teaching goes completely against the human way of thinking.  Our thinking says to be first, I need to knock others out of my way and trample them on my way up.  Jesus says we all have it wrong.  If you want to be great, think lesser of your self and serve others.  He says to go beyond the Golden Rule, which is to treat others as we want to be treated.  Jesus says we are to treat others even better than we want to be treated.  That we need to put their needs ahead of own.  And if we do that, we will be great.

The story is told of Ronald Regan, who was is in the hospital after getting shot.  He accidentally knocked of pitcher of water on the floor.  Instead of calling somebody to clean it up, he got out of bed and did it himself.  The nurse walked in asked him what he was doing.  He told her and said that he was worried that she might get in trouble if somebody found water on the floor.  He put her ahead of himself.  Here was the leader of the country, recovering from gun shot rooms on the floor wiping up water out of concern for somebody else.  Jesus would later do the same.  On the night He was betrayed, He got down and washed the feet of His disciples.  Included in the feet He washed was Judas, who in mere hours would betray Him.  He served the disciples in one of His lowest moments.  If He did it, we should also.  And when we do, we will become great in the Kingdom of God.

Dear Jesus, I thank you for Your example of humility and service.  I thank you that You left Your riches in Heaven and came to earth to be low and die for me.  You taught us how we should act.  Help me to do so.  Amen. 

What We Are To Do

Proverbs 31:8-9
8 Open your mouth for the mute, For the rights of all the unfortunate. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.

We end our study of the wisdom of Proverbs by looking at what God wants us to do.  This chapter starts off by sharing what a mom taught her son, a future king.  The mother told her son how to be a good leader and a good man.  I believe these two verses address more than just leaders.  Through out the Bible God commands His people to look out for those who are less fortunate.  I believe this is an individual command, not a communal one.  God does not tell only the leaders to take care of the widows and orphans, but it is command to each individual.  When the disciples brought the need for food to feed the more 5,000 people, Jesus told them to give something it eat (Mark 6:37).  It was a person command, “You”.  The disciples of course did not have any food to give, but Jesus provided and they served it.

There are people all around us who need our help.  They need our voices.  They need some of our resources.  They need our prayers.  But most importantly, they need our love.  If we see a person mistreated or taken advantage of, we need to open our mouths.  God put us there to witness, not that we could gossip about it, but to help.  God has you and me where we are to do His work.  His work is all around us and not lacking.  We need to get to work and help those around us.  That is God’s purpose for us.  We are wise when do God’s work.  When we fear Him we begin to learn.  When we obey Him, we have learned.  Doing God’s work is obeying Him and it is evidence that we are learning from Him.

Dear God, thank you for having work for me to do.  Help me to do it.  There are suffering people all around me who need to me speak up for them and fight for them and serve them.  Help me to do it.  Amen.