Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Jeremiah

Moab is destroyed: her little ones have caused a cry to be heard.     Jeremiah 48:4

                On the very day I read this verse in my devotions, TV news reported and showed video of a five-year-old Syrian girl being rescued from the rubble of an airstrike in a city in Syria. She is just one of those rescued amidst the destruction of the Syrian Civil War. The children, whether anyone can hear them or not, set up a cry in the tragedy of war. “Abba, daddy, papa, I’m over here. I’m buried in the stones. I can’t get out. Come and get me. Save me. Hold me. Keep me safe.” There’s weeping and wailing, and crying and praying. On another report on the news that day you could actually hear wailing in the background of a cell phone video, it may have been disconsolate children.

                This news story in a way hearkens back to the judgment of Moab. The Chaldean military of Nebuchadnezzar swooped in crushing the country, breaking it down, destroying the bridges and killing people, making a desolation. They did this without the missile firepower of modern warfare being used in Syria today. It was hand-to-hand, person-to-person, intentional arson, face-to-face stabbing, spearing, trampling, and through it all the wailing cry of children whose parents were dead or enslaved, children who had been burned in the fire, and buried alive in the rubble.        

                Wherever there is war with its merciless destruction, raping, pillaging, enslavement, the children set up a cry. But the killers kill without sympathy, the blood of the embattled and executed stains the earth, the bodies litter the ground, and the children weep, and wail, and cry for themselves, their land, and the world. Moab is destroyed. Wherever the hellishness of war explodes the children cry.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Jeremiah

But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.     Jeremiah 20:11

                Jeremiah, the preacher, was under assault by the society around him. His message was unpopular, he was “struck” which means hit with 40 lashes, put in wooden stocks like those displayed in Williamsburg, VA and other colonial American towns, it would be fair to say people were out to get him, and as a matter of fact this continued for some time following this passage. All because he preached an unpopular message, and to be fair it was a message that was given to him by God.

                You might think that open minded people would say, “Well, it's just his opinion. Ignore him and leave him alone.” They didn’t. You might think they would say, “He just one of those foolish preachers who think God’s word is for everybody.” They didn’t. You might think they would simply mock him, and keep him at arm’s length. They didn’t.

                They wanted him to be afflicted because his preaching stood in judgment of their lifestyle. Even today Bible preachers in some societies find themselves in such circumstances, and in freer countries the time may come when preachers in the free countries experience the same persecution. Even as the storm clouds of invasion by the most powerful nation on earth in Jeremiah’s day appeared on the foreign policy horizon the people refused to heed Jeremiah’s sad prediction. They simply would not believe it. So they pounded Jeremiah with their wrath.

                No preacher likes to be in that position. No preacher likes to suffer because his ministry is unpopular. Jeremiah no more than others.

                But Jeremiah realized that God was with him, as a mighty defender. It was, after all, God’s message he was proclaiming. He was aware that though he was being persecuted, it was his persecutors who would stumble trying to hurt him and stifle the message, and would not defeat or prevail against the prophet, and that the outcome would be their shame, their failure to prosper, and their confusion. Brave faith for a preacher under persecution.

                Modern preachers of the Bible need such faith. If we preach what the Bible says, let’s face it, many in free societies will reject it, and hate it, because it goes against their sinful desires. They will probably hate it to the point of some sort of persecution of the preacher, and the church, and the individual believer. But our hope and realization is that God is with us because our Bible message is His message. In the end it is the persecutors who will fail and fall. Jeremiah’s confidence is still the preacher’s confidence today.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Jeremiah

They have belied the LORD, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine:     Jeremiah 5:12

                The prophet Jeremiah gave some hard to swallow news to the people of Israel, the northern kingdom, and to Judah, the southern kingdom. And, at some point they rejected it. 

                 This is the word of the Lord, the prophet thundered. Pay attention. God has spoken, and it is not good news to the nation, and people who do not repent and change their wicked ways. The marching feet of invaders will thump like thunder. The crops and herds of the land will be baked and roasted to feed the enemy soldiers. Their swords will strike down many amidst the terrorized screams of a defeated people. The people of Israel and Judah, even though they are my people, will be crying, Woe unto us! for we are spoiled (4:13).

                Here is their response to this hard message. That’s not God speaking. We can’t believe he would do that. We won’t be invaded. We won’t be butchered. We won’t starve. That’s just your idea Jeremiah, and we don’t believe you.

                Dear modern-day reader, do you know what happened to Israel and Judah in those days? Do you think it could happen to your country today? Do you think there is a way for a nation today to get out from under such judgment? Food for thought!

Monday, September 5, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Isaiah

The grass withereth, the flower  fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever.     Isaiah 40:8

Things grow, blossom, and die: grass withers, the petals fall from flowers and they fade. The grass and flowers are symbols of all life in this world. The greatest warriors, thinkers, scientists, etc. grow into their potential and eventually die. The wicked thousand year Reich of the Nazis was gone in 12 years. The pyramids recall the once powerful Egyptian dynasties, but they are gone. Babe Ruth, Muhammed Ali, Peter Sellers, and an unending list of former greats have come and gone. The theory of evolution keeps making pronouncements and scientific discovery continues to toss those same pronouncements on the ash heap of scholarship and inquiry.  Nothing is permanent except the word of God which will stand forever. Eternal truth is found in God’s word. His word is revealed in the Bible.

If you want to know what will last; what will be important and true when all other false words wither and fade you will find that in the Bible. How to reform a life, family, a nation, the world: it’s in the Bible. What God said was true when He first revealed it, and it will always be true. It will stand forever.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Isaiah

Behold, a King shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.     Isaiah 32:1

When Messiah returns to earth He will rule as king in Israel and the world. He will rule in righteousness, and the world will know such glory and blessings as it has not known since the days before Adam’s fall. Because of righteousness,the King’s righteousness.  With righteousness permeating the life of humanity, we are told in verses 17 and 18 of this chapter: And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;

That is a glorious prophecy of the future, yet, there is a message here for today. If people of the nations throughout the world would commit themselves (as best they can) to righteousness as God sees it, and has defined it in His word, the Bible, some of the same benefits could be and would be seen in the present age revolutionizing the lives of millions on earth today.

Where there is no barbarous war people could live in secure cities, and towns, and villages. Where there is no butchering terrorism people could let down their guard, and just enjoy safety. Where there is no international drug trafficking or human trafficking the ills of crime would begin to disappear. Where there is no street violence communities would begin to rebound  financially. Where there is no inordinate price gouging on food and medicine starvation and illness disappears. When there is no government corruption nations can truly help their people. When there is a sharing of peaceful technology the desert will blossom like the rose.

The ultimate expression of righteousness in this world will come when Messiah, King Jesus, returns and reigns righteously as predicted in the devotional verse for today Isaiah 32:1. Harry A. Ironside wrote in his commentary on Isaiah (©1952, Loizeaux Brothers): “There will be protection from every ill when Messiah takes over the reins of government.” And Christ’s return will rescue this world.

But until then, if nations and neighbors, faiths and friends, corporations and communities, and all connections of people, however they are connected in this world, would strive for righteousness, this world would experience a preview of universal peace and safety, and quietness and assurance.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Isaiah

Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!     Isaiah 5:20

It should come as no surprise that there are people in our world who call evil good. They say as it were: Oh, killing infants in the womb is a good thing. No baby would want to be born into a family that doesn’t want her. She’d rather be dead than live that way; or, cheating on your wife to have sex with another woman can be good for a marriage; or, enforcing the law against rioters and looters is discriminating so let them burn and pillage as much as they want.

Any observant watcher of the news knows these statements are no exaggerations. And, the same people who say these evils are good, look at preachers of righteousness who call evil evil, and say, it is the judgmental spirit of the religious people that is evil not the actions of the sinners. That’s not an exaggeration either.

God says of these people who reverse reality Woe unto them. Such rejection of truth does not bring blessings. It brings death, destruction, sorrow, broken marriages, dysfunctional family, broken hearts, societal hostility, and the breakdown of civilization. The woe to the purveyors of these falsehoods becomes the woe of the whole world. This is specially true when it is the leaders of a land who would change the rules, and call evil good and good evil. Here’s what Isaiah says about that scenario: For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed (9:16).

Evil is evil. Do not be mislead. Reject the false values of a sin sick society. Live according to goodness as God defines it, and seek goodness for your nation. If enough people follow God’s word nations can be restrained, reformed, revived, and rescued from destruction.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Isaiah

The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! For they have rewarded evil unto themselves.     Isaiah 3:9

The people of God in those days knew better. They had the word of God written in the Torah, and declared by the prophets. They had the believer’s behavior set before them as it should have been lived out, but they chose to ignore it. You could see their rebellion in their faces. Instead of being embarrassed by their sins they declared (announced, heralded, publicized) their sin openly like the people of the wicked and infamous city Sodom had done. It was a defiant proclamation that they would do what they chose to do, even though the sinful behavior was condemned by the word of God.

And, Isaiah says, Woe unto their soul! Woe may mean judgment, grief, regret, misfortune, distress, and Isaiah says that woe will come from the evil they have earned for themselves by their sins.

By their sinning and flaunting it, they have rewarded themselves. They have earned evil unto themselves. Choosing sin means choosing sin's consequences too. This is a basic general observation that if made by anyone could save his/her life from the effects of sin. Choose God’s way and be blessed. Choose sin in revolt against God’s way and you set yourself up for bad outcomes in your personal life.