Monday, April 25, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Ruth

Ruth said “…thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”     Ruth 1:16

Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching at a nearby church and I told the story of Ruth’s testimony: How she came out of paganism, poverty, and a precarious future into the happy blessings of God. I summarized the Bible book that tells her story with these five statements.
Our God is the God of tough times.
Our God is the God of romance.
Our God is the God of new beginnings.
Our God is the God of the best blessings.

Our God is the God of salvation!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Devotional Thought From 2 Kings

Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.     2 Kings 17:3

The LORD testified, made it clear, to Israel the kind of lifestyle He expected to see among the people of Israel. He testified through the prophets and Sears. They told the people God’s plan of faith and life. It was simple, basic, clear-cut, straight-forward.

It contained two prongs: 1. Turn from your evil ways. No one argues that Israel, the northern kingdom, was not filled with evil behavior. They are constantly disparaged in the Old Testament for continuing to follow the sin of her first King, Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who we are told again and again, caused Israel to sin. In following evil and the wickedness of Jeroboam the people of the northern kingdom added to that the sin of following the Baalim gods, and caused their children to pass through the fire. This meant that they took newborn infants and burned them on the altar to these false gods. False religion always leads to death, not just spiritually, but often physically as well. 2. The second aspect of what God called upon Israel to do was to keep His commandments, to follow His law, to obey His revelation of what faith living in this world should look like. Had they done so, such a turnaround might have saved them from the disaster that eventually fell upon them.

And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Syria and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes: Because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them.     2 Kings 18:11,12

The consequences were hard. The king of Assyria came, conquered the capital city of Samaria and all the northern kingdom, and carried the people of Israel away as captives, and exiled them in a strange land because they would not obey Him.

For any nation’s long time prosperity the proper path is to respond positively to the revelation God has given. Modern nations are blessed in that they have God’s clear message for national, familial, and individual living set forth in the Bible, if they desire to know what God wants. If the people who desire their nation’s best future follow God’s teaching, and live it out on a daily basis, their country, families, and personal lives will possibly be kept from great disaster.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Devotional Thought From 1 Kings

And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.     1 Kings 18:17, 18

So when Ahab and Elijah meet after God had told Elijah he was going to lift the drought, Ahab looks down from the chariot and asks, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? Ahab and his pagan wife Jezebel were stunned and angry that Elijah had turned the people back to the LORD, and had executed 850 false prophets. In one fell swoop the nation had had a cataclysmic change, in Ahab’s mind a change for the worse, so looking at Elijah he says, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?

Elijah is not intimidated. He looks the King in the eyes and says (let me paraphrase v. 18), “We know who is troubling Israel. Thou art the man. And how have you done it? You have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and worshiped (and still worship) false gods.”

When the preachers of righteousness are criticized for standing against the immoral currents of any society, the leaders and follows of immorality accuse them of troubling the nations. Why can’t you just shut up about what the Bible says is right and wrong? Not everybody believes in your LORD so why must you put your faith out there and make them question their values and actions? Why can’t you live and let live? Why can’t you just let society do what it wants without being critical? You can have your own religion just keep it inside the walls of your religious building and don’t let the public at large know what you think or believe, because it just causes trouble to advocate for spouses to be faithful to one another in marriage, or for preborn children to be allowed to live, or for men to use only the men’s room when in public places, or for government to be righteous, or for preachers to preach the Bible as God’s Word revealed, or for violent criminals to be punished, or… or… or. All of your protestations trouble the nation!

Like Elijah Christians and other moral people reply, “We know who is troubling the nation. It is the leaders and followers of breaking down traditional faith and morality. You are Ahab (Melville’s character named after this wicked king of scripture) chasing after the white whale of no standards, no morality, no restrictions, no obligations, no truth, no righteousness, and when you finally harpoon that situation it will drag you down and drown the nation with you.”

Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Devotional Thought From 1 Kings

And the Lord said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart.     1 Kings 8:18

Solomon here recounts a statement that God made to his father David. David, as you may recall, wanted to build a house (temple) for his LORD. God would not allow it because of David’s bloodied warrior hands. Bur God, who looks on the hearts of men and women knew that David desired to honor Him with such a place of worship, and said (as it were) “Even though I will not allow you to be the builder of My house, David, I know your heart, and your aspiration to glorify me in this way was a good thing. The very fact that this was the intention in your heart, though you could not accomplish your goal, was a good and blessed thing.”

The attitude of the heart is tremendously important in the believer’s life. We can’t always do the things we dream of doing for God, but the fact that in our hearts we have that desire is a good thing, a deep spiritual thing, and God sees it and blesses it.

An old gospel standard by Dr. Bennie Triplett, popular in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, asks: “How about your heart? Is it right with God?” How about the attitudes of your heart? Do you want to bring Him glory by your life and actions, behaviors and dreams? That’s a good thing. Follow your dreams and see what glorious things God allows you to do for Him. And, even if you do not have the privilege of doing all your dreams and hopes for His glory, having it in your heart to glorify the Lord is a good thing, and you do well.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

An Excerpt From “A Snack For Jesus” a sermon on Luke 24:36-48 preached by Rev. Lewis Kisenwether, March 21, 2005, ©2005

v. 37 – Now they’ve heard the story at least twice
from reputable witnesses;
devoted women followers
sincere disciples.
The women quoted angels
and the angels quoted Jesus
yet,
when Jesus appears
they are what:
delighted,
rejoicing,
praising God?

No, terrified and affrighted
They are not prepared for Jesus.
They think He’s a gh gh gh ghost (remember Abbott and Costello or Scooby-Doo).
It’s a natural reaction.
Nobody expects to see dead men walking around.
Nobody except those who believe God can do anything
Anywhere
Anytime.

38 – Jesus speaks to them as if it should have been the most normal thing in the world for His disciples to expect Him to break the bands of death.
WHY?
Are you troubled?
Do thoughts (doubtful) thoughts arise in your heart?
Can’t your faith in me make contact with true reality?
At other times He called them “O ye of little faith.” At this moment it’s still true of them.

So He offers them proof
Check it out
Hands – nail holes
Feet – nail holes
Touch me
Grab hold of me
See I’ve got flesh and bones
When’s the last time a spirit had flesh and bones?
When’s the last time you could grab a ghost by the arm?
When’s the last time they stood still so you could see if they were real?
Well, I am.

40 – and He holds out those precious hands to let them see.
He lifts His feet so they can see.

41 and they are mixed in their emotions
They start to laugh
They’re bubbling over
They’re nearly hysterical
But they still can’t believe it
Somebody pinch me see if I’m dreaming.
It couldn’t be!
What was in that wine we had for dinner?
Can this be real?
I wonder how such a thing could happen?

And Jesus continues to offer proof that He is not a ghost.
“Do you have anything to eat here?”
42 – They went to the equivalent of the kitchen counter
and got Him some of the leftovers from dinner
a piece of fish and some honeycomb

43 – Jesus munched it down
Fried fish is great.
Most people today don’t eat honeycomb, but to them it would have been like dessert
A nice piece of smooth sweet chocolate

I can imagine Him smiling.
Ghost don’t enjoy food.
Not even McDonald’s.
Ghosts are not real.
Get this and get it right:
“We have not followed cunningly devised fables…”  Peter said (2 Peter 1:16).
The resurrection story is not a hallucinatory fairy tale.
It’s not a day dream.
Jesus is real.
And if anybody asks you how you know, say,
HE ATE THE FISH.
HE HAD DESSERT.

HE IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Devotional Thought From 2 Samuel

And the soul of King David longed to go forth unto Absalom: for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.     2 Samuel 13:39

The soap opera of David’s family life which was the result of his sinful assignation with Bathsheba had come to bloodshed. His son Amnon had raped his half-sister Tamar and Tamar’s brother Absalom had killed the rapist and fled from the presence of King David. David was grief stricken at this turn of events and at the loss of his son Amnon, but Amnon was dead and he was comforted and had come to grips with the fact that the boy was gone and he had to live without him. So his heart turned to Absalom, who was the son he most loved, but he could not bring himself to publicly bring the boy home. Whether he thought that would be an act of weakness or bad religion we cannot say for certain, but David felt he must hold the line.

Joab, the Chief of Staff of David’s armies, was able to read David’s heart and he set in motion a plan to turn the king’s heart to forgiveness and a willingness to bring Absalom back to the capital city. He sent an actress, a wise woman of Tekoah, in for an audience with the King and she said she was a widow and told the story of her two sons.  One had killed the other, and now the family wanted revenge on the living son and wanted to kill him. She did not want to lose him despite his sin, he was all she had left. Could the king understand her position, and could he do something to save the boy’s life? Yes, David replied I’ll give orders that you are not to be bothered, and if anyone does continue the action against you or your son bring that person to me and I will set him straight. Not a hair of your boy’s head shall fall to earth.

Then she added Wherefore then has thou thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king does speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished (meaning Absalom). For we must needs die, and are as water spilled from the ground which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him (14:13, 14). If you can do this for my son, why can’t you do it for your own son, even God makes a way for those sinners who are gone out of His pathways to come home.

David realizes Joab’s trick, and is moved to bring Absalom back to Jerusalem.

Even in those days of the Old Testament we see there was  some understanding of God’s relationship to sinners. He devised a means for sinners to be brought home: the Cross of Calvary where Jesus died for our sins, and the empty grave from which He rose from the dead.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Judges

And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.     Judges 2:10

“The times they are a-changin’.” The author of Judges would agree with Bob Dylan’s classic protest song. At this point in Israel’s history with the tribes inhabiting most of the promised land, he notes that all the generation who entered in with Joshua had died. That’s the way of history. People die, whole generations pass away. This is what Israel was experiencing, and the tremendous change the nation faced was that the rising generation, the new generation, would be a generation that did not have a faith relation to God. The author says it this way, There arose another generation after them which knew not the LORD. This is the worst thing that can happen to any nation whose founding was directly related to faith in God. America take note, our founders in the Declaration of Indepence declared; “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” From the beginning it was with reliance on the God of the Bible.

As the generations pass away, historians can relate the movements of history in any given country to how many of its people continue to know, and obey, and express their faith in the living God. The book of Judges tells a story of a declining nation, sliding down into the mire of moral depravity. In Israel at the time of the judges we see the approval, or the acceptance, or at least the appearance of things like: adultery, aggressive homosexuality, false religion, use of prostitutes, and conspiracy. This happens because , as the author of judges writes it, In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes (21:25). The immoral society resulting from such behavior is not a safe one. In peace or in war it is no longer safe
How does a generation grow up in a land that is ostensibly religious, and not know the LORD? While there are many factors the bottom line is that those who named the name of the LORD forgot, or ignored, or moved away from the foundation of God’s revelation, His word. They lost touch with what God was saying to them about daily life. That’s how it happened in ancient Israel. And today, instead of basing faith and action on an authoritative word from God, the Bible, the liberal church accepted literary criticism thus rendering, for many, the Bible into little more than a book of religious stories, interesting, but in no way a document requiring belief and obedience. The evangelical church is trying to hold the line and help people to understand that God has spoken and for the best of life for individuals, communities, societies, nations, and the world, obedience to God’s word is the proper lifestyle. Obedience to the principles of God’s holy word would transform the world for good. When people and communities, and nations do what is right in their own eyes rejecting God’s revelation it also transforms the world, for evil. With each individual who makes the choice for the living God of the Bible his family, and her nation, and their world, the world does becomes a little better.