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Praising in the Fear of God
Praising in the Fear of God

PreacherJP.2004 • April 09, 2020

04/09/2020

Day 100: Praising in the Fear of God


Isaiah 8:12–13 

12 Neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. 13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.  


What does fear mean? Webster says it's "A painful emotion or passion excited by an expectation of evil or the apprehension of impending danger." He went on, "Fear is the passion of our nature which excites us to provide for our security, on the approach of evil."


It's incredible what people will do when they are fearful and afraid. What causes fear? I googled, "How many phobias are there?" And when Google showed me there were 19,100,000 results of my inquiry, I realized how disinterested I genuinely am with phobias. A phobia is an irrational fear of something unlikely to cause harm. According to some websites, anyhow...


God says, "neither fear ye their fear..." What is their cause of fear? Fear of financial failure? Of sickness or death? Fear is a powerful weapon that causes many people to make rash and irrational decisions. What causes that fear? When you step out of the fear of the Lord, you step into the fear of evil.


Listen to Paul's indictment of the heathen,


Romans 3:18

18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.  


Because they do not fear God, they're afraid of everything else. Our world is going mad right now. They're so scared this pandemic will reach them and kill them. A janitor at our workplace told me that his wife was panicking over the whole virus pandemic. She was so worried about dying. He looked at her and said, "Honey, you've been worrying yourself to death over dying if you get this virus, but there you go still puffing on that cigarette after the doctor done told you it was going to kill you if you don't quit!"


Fear should never become an idol. Above all, our concern must be of God. Our wisdom would be to "Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread."


To sanctify means to set apart by itself. It holds the idea of separating what is most precious from what is rubbish. God is what is most valuable. Anything else falls under that. If God is your fear, what else is there to fear?

Interestingly, Isaiah says, "Let him be your dread." He is saying, if fearing God isn't enough, dread Him. Dread is a more powerful word than fear. To dread means to tremble with fear.


To fear God means we are consciously aware of His presence and that He is witness to our doings. The proper fear of God says we are more concerned about offending Him than anything else. The world does not concern itself with the fear of God. They fear a virus. But don't fear to stand before God on judgment day. Anyone who decided to use this virus to manipulate or to lie, to cause harm, or to do evil will not be allowed to use their fear as an excuse.


Fear, if not subordinate to the fear of God, is sin and will be punishable by hellfire.


Revelation 21:8

8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.  


Fearing God allows us to praise Him for His power. It is when we fear Him that we find ourselves enveloped in His might.


Psalm 34:9

9 O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.  


He promises that when we fear God, above all, we will not go without His goodness. No matter what occurs, the saint who fears God knows that God will always do good.


Think about it, saint; if Satan brings the persecutor to your very door and they put a gun to your head and kill you for your faith, you can laugh. Laugh at the fact that the devil has ushered you into the highest crown a person can achieve in heaven...a martyr's crown! Praise His name!


Psalm 27:1

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  


We have no one and nothing to fear except our Lord. And as Charles Spurgeon said, "God has punished Christ instead of me, and therefore he cannot also punish me." What a true blessing! Christ has taken our punishment. What have we to fear, except offending His presence and breaking His heart by our sin?


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The Uninvited Guest
The Uninvited Guest

PreacherJP.2004 • April 08, 2020

04/08/2020

Day 99: The Uninvited Guest


Revelation 3:20

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  


If you're unfamiliar with the book of Revelation, yet, likely, you've heard this verse before from a preacher pleading with you or someone else to open the door of their heart to let Jesus come in. As poetical as that sounds, it's not the context of the passage. I've heard much preaching against the "asking Jesus into your heart" as it relates to salvation. Mainly because some bozo who doesn't even believe in the inerrancy of Scripture says its unscriptural. I don't mean to be tedious nor waste your time. Accepting Jesus into your heart is Scriptural.


Ephesians 3:17

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith...


But understanding that is another thing altogether… Jesus who? Which Jesus are you accepting into your heart? Therein lies the entire problem. We'll get back to this once we address the context of Revelation 3:20 and why I believe it is essential to our day and time in which we live. 


In Revelation 3:14-21, Jesus Christ is making a final appeal to the Laodicean church. This was a very prosperous church. From their perspective, they had everything they could want. They were rich, increased with goods, and needed nothing (See Revelation 3:17). But Jesus saw it very differently. The Laodiceans lived in an area that had cold springs and hot springs outside of town. They had aqueducts that would bring the water into town, but by the time it got there, it was lukewarm. Jesus pointedly tells the Laodiceans that they were like their water supply! Neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm! He tells them, "thou...knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked…" (See Revelation 3:17) What's happened? They had everything money could buy, but they didn't have Jesus. That's why we see Him outside the door, knocking. He wants in so He can clothe them, to give them sight, to provide them with the enduring currency of heaven. Failure on their part to let Jesus in would mean their exposure to the bitter cold that would reveal their destitution when trials of persecution came. 


Churches across this land have had services without Jesus for years. He's been standing outside the door and knocking, but He can't be heard over the rock music. He's been locked out. He wasn't put into the church bulletin, so He's been programmed out. He hasn't been invited in by striving prayer and all-night prayer meetings. He's been left out of the sermons, replaced with an effeminate Jesus, where all is fluffy and bunny rabbits. He's been left out in the cold. He wants His church back! (It belongs to Him, to begin with! He bought it!) He stands outside, knocking, speaking, pleading, when will you let Him in? 


Back to asking Jesus into your heart. Which Jesus? Is it Jesus mild and meek, Jesus who'll sit in your back seat? Is it Jesus who is your co-pilot, your buddy Jesus? Or is it Jesus of Revelation 1:12-18? Jesus "clothed with a garment down to the foot," His perfect righteousness. Jesus "girt about the paps with a golden girdle," His insignia of royalty, expressing His sovereignty. Jesus "whose head and...hairs ...white like wool," His utter holiness. Jesus, whose "eyes were as a flame of fire," His piercing gaze that sees the innermost motives of our hearts and judges their worth. Jesus, whose "feet [were] like fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace," His right to judge. Jesus who's "voice [is] as the sound of many waters," His majesty and might whose word will have the final say. Jesus, who holds "in his right hand seven stars," His security of His messengers. The Jesus who out of "his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword," His power to create and destroy. Jesus, whose "countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength," His display of the glory of God. 


John said, "When I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead." (See Revelation 1:17) That's the Jesus that stands at the door and knocks. That's the Jesus that wants to come in. Power Incarnate wants to sup with you and with me. He doesn't knock for us to open up and sit at our footstool. He wants in to take the throne. Is it that Jesus that you've accepted into your heart? That's the Jesus most churches have kept out. They want to rule. 


Many mistake the concept of accepting Jesus. Why haven't we asked if Jesus will accept us? That's the reality. He accepts us when we meet His conditions. If we don't realize that we're poor, blind, naked, and wretched, He'll not accept us. We must come as sinners in need of His salvation.


So you might ask, what has this to do with praise? Everything. This Jesus is worthy of our praise. He is worthy because of His conquest on Calvary. Conquering sin, death, and the devil, He wants us to surrender our wills to His, but we've got to open the door and let Him in. Our will needs bent to His will. Then and only then will our praise be acceptable. 

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Faith or Trust?
Faith or Trust?

PreacherJP.2004 • April 07, 2020

04/07/2020

Day 98: Faith or Trust?


Matthew 26:39

39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.  


Have you ever gone a little further with Jesus? Why not go a bit more now with Him today? Follow His journey into Gethsemane. Watch Him as He agonizes over the impending separation from His Father for your sins and mine. A cup's prepared for Him: a cup filled with God's wrath; wherein is poured our every offense, stored up against judgment day. Every ill word, every lustful glance, every blasphemous statement, every hateful glare. Misdeed after misdeed, sin after sin, and perversion after perversion. That cup was full of the guilt and shame of our lifetime magnified a billion times over. No wonder Christ prayed, "let this cup pass from me."


There is a lesson here about our asking God in our prayers for certain things. Here we have the Son of God who had never been told no by His Father because He always pleased His Father, being told no for us. The Son of God's faith in the Father never wavered. It didn't flicker or balk at the cross. His heart was broken in that garden. His great delight that for all eternity had been enjoyed in the presence of His Father was going to be severed. His great joy in the Father that from everlasting past had endured without wavering was about to be cut off. He balked at that. It was here that the Eternal Son as the Son of Man learned "obedience by the things which he suffered" (See Hebrews 5:8)


Do you know the difference between faith and trust? We want to be specific in our word choices here. The world has robbed these words and wrested them from Scripture to their own utter destruction. When we say faith, we mean that faith, which believes that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again three days later. That faith. Not the faith that says, "just believe." My question is, believe what? So we mean the faith that saves the soul. When we refer to trust, we mean the trust that has made the deposit of the soul into the hands of God. Faith and trust are synonyms, but they are not precisely the same, and it is in their differences that we wish to draw our thought.


The Bible says that faith is "...the substance of things hoped for..." (Hebrews 11:1). This is what we desire. The things hoped for are our wishes. Like the hymn, Sweet Hour of Prayer says, "Sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer! That calls me from a world of care. And bids me at my Father's throne, make all my want and wishes known..." We are encouraged by the Lord Himself to do this.


Mark 11:23

23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.  


But what happens when God does not move the mountain? What becomes then of faith? Was it that you didn't have enough? What, not even a mustard seed? What, not enough patience? But you've waited years! What? This seems not like a lack of faith. Again, we point back to faith as being that which we desire.


Trust is from a different vein. As one preacher said, "Faith is usually about what we want--Trust is usually about what God wants." 


Could we not imagine that God knows more than we? Our little ideas are not infinite! He knows all with one glance! Trust says, "Not my will, but thine be done." Spurgeon has said, "When you cannot trace His hand, trust His heart."


That my friend is the difference between faith and trust. We could say that are the heads and tails of the same coin. Without trust, faith is vain. Because it is no faith that cannot take no for an answer. Jesus was told no. He was still able to praise His Father by His obedience. So should we.


So have faith, and expect great things from God. But trust God, and expect God to always do good. 





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The Coroner's Report
The Coroner's Report

PreacherJP.2004 • April 06, 2020

04/06/2020

Day 97: The Coroner’s Report 


Revelation 3:1

1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  


“He who is too busy to pray will be too busy to live a holy life. Other duties often become pressing and absorbing and crowd out prayer. If an inquest could be secured on this dire, spiritual calamity, the coroner’s verdict, in many cases of dead praying, would be, “Choked to death.”


--E. M. Bounds


Sardis wasn’t always dead. The coals of love for Jesus were aflame with ardor and intensity! But, alas! The coals began to cool, and the cooler the coals, the easier it is for the enemy to kick the fire and scatter the coals. Coals far apart go out much faster.


Once our praise and prayer life were alive with zeal and fervor! What happened? Just as E. M. Bounds had said, “Choked to death.”


Jesus said this about the matter,


Mark 4:19

19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.  


These three enemies of the soul from this verse choke our spiritual lives to the death.


1) The cares of this world.

Care is defined as a concern, anxiety, caution. One person said it means “to be pained by thinking.” How easily we forget our one duty to our Savior is


Matthew 6:33

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  


2) The deceitfulness of riches.

To deceive means ‘to mislead the mind; to cause to believe what is false...’ And how easy we get our attention focused on obtaining that which is temporary while sacrificing that which is eternal!


3) The lust for other things.

Lust is the unlawful desire for that which is forbidden or that which is not timely. Lust is about getting what I want when I want it. It is the epitome of self-serving. May God deliver us!


Is there any hope for us when we’ve allowed our spiritual lives to be choked out?


The answer is complicated. Simply, Yes. But to get to that yes is the real problem. See, Sardis had a name that they were alive, but they were dead, according to Christ. Most people don’t even know that they’re spiritual lives are languishing. Could that be you? Has your fire for Jesus gone out? Then guess what? You’re dead! Choked to death! Is there hope?


Jesus says there is.


Revelation 3:2

2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.  


Be watchful. That means PAY ATTENTION! If we treated our place of employment like we treated our relationship with God, would we still be employed? If we treated our marriage like we treated our relationship with God, would we yet be married? If we treated our mortgage company like we treat our relationship with God, would we still have a house?


We are to strengthen that which remains. That means we are to get revived. We need to go back to the place in our hearts where God lives and make Him room. May God help us to do this today!

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The Twin Cannons of Prayer and Praise
The Twin Cannons of Prayer and Praise

PreacherJP.2004 • April 05, 2020

04/05/2020


Day 96: The Twin Cannons of Prayer and Praise


Psalm 50:23

23 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: And to him that ordereth his conversation aright Will I shew the salvation of God.  


What does salvation really mean? I’ve talked with countless people who say that they’ve prayed and asked God to save them from this situation or that situation and that they believe in God and all. Still, when pressed about the matter of their soul’s deliverance from hell, that’s a matter that is different altogether. I asked if she had ever prayed and placed her faith in Christ for salvation. Her answer was, “One time, while on my way home from a friend’s house, a semi-truck almost hit me. I cried out to God to save me, and he did.” I asked, “Did you ask him to save you from your sins?” She said, “No.”


God answers specific prayers. If you do not specifically ask God to save you from your sins, and you do not believe in your heart that He died for you and rose again, you’re still not saved. At least not in the most essential definition of the word. What good was it for God to save her from that semi-truck and her to die in her sins? She needed to specifically ask God to save her soul and to believe in her heart. (See Romans 10:9-13) I am thankful that God opened her eyes to this truth, and she did so. The word, salvation, simply means deliverance. Its application depends on the situation.


What about born again Christians? Is there further salvation beyond having the soul saved from sin? Absolutely! Here’s what Paul had to say about the matter:


2 Corinthians 1:10

10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;  


Paul was here speaking about trials of living for God. They were persecuted for their faith and for preaching the gospel, and because of this, they faced circumstances that required salvation, i.e., deliverance from those trials. They weren’t trying to get out of trouble, but they were trying not to die for it! (See 2 Corinthians 2:8-9). In the next verse, Paul spoke of the assistance the church of Corinth had provided in their deliverance: “Ye also helping together by prayer for us....” (See 2 Corinthians 2:11)


Prayer assisted in delivering Paul and Silas from certain death. In our own lives, we’ll find that prayer provides salvation not only of the soul’s eternal destiny but in our day to day lives as well.


The Psalmist said, “Whoso offereth praise,” and before we get off on the KJV is so hard to understand, we need to realize that this has a specific verb tense. I am no grammatical genius by any far stretch of the imagination, but I do know that an “eth” means continuous. There is faithfulness required for offering praise. This isn’t just the “sing a song-and get along” type of eulogy. This is the life of praise. It is the life of praise that “glorifieth me,” says the Lord. Again, the “eth” is there, indicating the continuity of the glory. Just a few verses before this statement, we’re told that prayer in the time of trouble also glorifies God:


Psalm 50:15

15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.  


There’s that word “deliver,” and in verse 23, “salvation” is used. Prayer and Praise are twin cannons that blast the enemy and that glorify God. They are integral parts that belong in our spiritual arsenal. Moreover, the Psalmist continues in verse 23, a further key in seeing the mighty hand of God, “...and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.” The word conversation means ‘daily conduct of life,’ and ordereth (there it is again!) is a word that means ‘discipline.’ He that will discipline his life to live according to God’s will is going witness God’s power and deliverance.


E.M. Bounds said this about prayer,


Prayer opens an outlet for the promises, removes the hindrances in the way of their execution, puts them into working order, and secures their gracious ends. More than this, prayer-like faith, obtains promises, enlarges their operation, and adds to the measure of their results. God’s promises were to Abraham and to his seed, but many a barren womb, and many a minor obstacle stood in the way of the fulfillment of these promises; but prayer removed them all, made a highway for the promises, added to the facility and speediness of their realization, and by prayer the promise shone bright and perfect in its execution.1

1 Bounds, Edward M. The Purpose in Prayer. Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2004. Print.


How’s your praise and prayer life? Are they continuous and faithful? Read the words to this old hymn, Sweet Hour of Prayer. I will confess, there is a verse in there that I didn’t know existed until now:


Sweet Hour of Prayer

Sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer!

That calls me from a world of care,

And bids me at my Father’s throne

Make all my wants and wishes known.

In seasons of distress and grief,

My soul has often found relief,

And oft escaped the tempter’s snare,

By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!


Sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer!

The joys I feel, the bliss I share,

Of those whose anxious spirits burn

With strong desires for thy return!

With such I hasten to the place

Where God my Savior shows His face,

And gladly take my station there,

And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!


Sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer!

Thy wings shall my petition bear

To Him whose truth and faithfulness

Engage the waiting soul to bless.

And since He bids me seek His face,

Believe His Word and trust His grace,

I’ll cast on Him my every care,

And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!


Sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer!

May I thy consolation share,

Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,

I view my home and take my flight.

This robe of flesh I’ll drop, and rise

To seize the everlasting prize,

And shout, while passing through the air,

“Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”

William W. Walford (1772–1850)1

1 Tozer, A. W. Delighting in God. Ed. James L. Snyder. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2015. Print.


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Holding on to Faith, Shipwrecked
Holding on to Faith, Shipwrecked

PreacherJP.2004 • April 04, 2020

04/04/2020

Day 95: Holding on to Faith Shipwrecked


1 Timothy 1:19

19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:  


Sometimes the boat sinks even when you're not the Captain. Life had whisked Paul along, and he found himself seaboard to Rome. He knew the waters well enough and knew the seasons well enough to know that leaving harbor would spell disaster. Winter was coming, and rough seas would be expected along with violent tempests. Paul warned of the dangers, but being a prisoner for being a Christian left him no choice but to go along with the Captain's decision to let loose the moorings and sail ahead despite the warnings. (See Acts 27)


How many of us have gone on ahead of God despite clear warnings?


There is a nautical term for sinking your own ship on purpose. It's called scuttling. 


Scuttling is the deliberate sinking of a ship by allowing water to flow into the hull. This can be achieved in several ways—seacocks or hatches can be opened to the sea, or holes may be ripped into the hull with brute force or with explosives.


The ship in the Bible typifies the direction and destination of our lives. Sometimes the boat of our lives is scuttled by our own doing, sometimes they are shipwrecked by the doing of others. Often, when our ship is wrecked, if we're not careful, we'll point the blame at others. In reality, the vessel is sunk whether we like it or not, and the real issue is, what do we do now? 


Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, and he had a trade route that required sea-vessels to go and get the gold from far away lands. His forefather Solomon knew all about it and made quite a bit of money from it (See 1 Kings 9:26-28). However, Jehoshaphat made the grave mistake of yoking up with the wicked king of Israel in his endeavor, and this caused shipwreck in his life. 


2 Chronicles 20:37

37 Then Eliezer...prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go...


Paul was a man of God who was in the will of God. His ship sank, too (as referenced earlier in Acts 27). Paul is writing to Timothy when he mentions two men who made shipwreck of their faith, "Hymenaeus and Alexander." He used them as bad examples. Before that, he tells Timothy to "war a good warfare," (1 Timothy 1:18) and make sure he's "holding faith, and a good conscience," (1 Timothy 1:19). Why is this important? Because when we don't allow faith and good conscience to man the helm, the wind of the Spirit will not fill our sails and land us in our desired haven. Those two men discovered what happened when they cast off faith and a good conscience. They were shipwrecked. What is faith? It is looking unto Jesus (See Hebrews 12:1-2). What is a good conscience? That is knowing that your heart is right with God and that there is nothing between that hinders fellowship. The conscience is that organ of the soul that recognizes the moral footsteps of God. When we step outside of God's divine law, it sounds the alarm. 


Paul did something here that is sometimes required when warnings no longer work. "I have delivered [Hymenaeus and Alexander] unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme." (See 1 Timothy 1:20


Wow! What does he mean by that? Were these men lost? No. That's the kicker. They were not lost as far as salvation is concerned. But they allowed their ships to venture off course in spite of the warnings of the lighthouse (Paul) and that venture placed them among the crags and rocks that pierced the hull of their vessels and allowed the waters to come in and scuttle their ship. When we get off course and get out of church, what do you think God is really going to do? He's going to let us know what it's like again to have Satan at the helm. 


Don't believe me? Read 1 Corinthians 5 carefully. We don't know the end of Hymenaeus and Alexander. But we do know what happened to the young man in 1 Corinthians 5. The church at Corinth listened to Paul and turned the unrepentant man over to Satan. In 2 Corinthians 2:6-8, the unrepentant man, tired of Satan, repented and came back to God and God's people. 


So what do you do when you're shipwrecked? Realize what caused it. Repent immediately and make things right with others you affected by your sin. Get cleansed by the blood of Christ. Go back to church, every service. Read your Bible and put your heart into it. Make time for real and meaningful prayer. Give yourself to praising God all day long. God can build you another boat. Interestingly, Jehoshaphat, who lost his ships in his first endeavor, did build new ships. When wicked Ahaziah solicited him again, Jehoshaphat refused. 


1 Kings 22:49

49 Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships. But Jehoshaphat would not.  


Lesson learned. 

 


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Prayer or Praise?
Prayer or Praise?

PreacherJP.2004 • April 03, 2020

04/03/2020

Day 94: Prayer or Praise?


Psalm 63:3–4 — 3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise thee. 4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. 


 Does anyone have a prayer or praise? If you’ve been to church for any length of time, you will have heard this question asked. I say, why not have both? How about praise and prayer. The better our prayer life becomes, the better our praise will be.


David wrote this psalm while he was in the wilderness of Judah. Saul had chased him from the hustle and bustle of town, and he couldn’t go to worship at the tabernacle. David wasn’t able to enjoy the interaction of sporting or the marketplace. Instead, he had to find shelter in caves and dens. Not much of a life for the anointed king of Israel! It was in this wilderness that David’s thirst for God intensified. When life has been ripped from you and turned on its head, what truly matters will become apparent.


Notice what David said, “Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee” (See Ps. 63:3)


This morning, I prayed for our teenagers. We have some that are in their senior year, some juniors, and some in middle school. Sports, show choir, graduation, comradery, social events, all canceled. Life has been turned on its head. But is it life? 


The answer is yes, and no. Yes, in the sense that it is a part of life here in America, and in the sense that it is something all teenagers look forward too. Yes, in the sense that it is real and physical and tangible. But is it eternal? David said, “Thy lovingkindness is better than life.” I hope we can see that. We can realize that it is in the wilderness that God is better than all of that combined. I’m praying that God will help them see that He wants us all to put Him first in all things. And, that they would realize He IS BETTER than life. 


Are these things sin? No, but they can be. God wants us to learn to keep Him first. Anything that can take our hearts from God becomes sin to us. Keep God first.


David went on to say, “Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.” This was a common form in prayer. To crouch on the knees and to kneel forward with your face to the ground was considered prostrating yourself. Then, sitting back up while still on the knees and lifting your hands to heaven was praising. Both are acts of worship, and both are acts of prayer. Raising your hands in God’s name in prayer…


Let’s talk about prayer and praise for a moment. How’s your prayer life? Here are a few characteristics that ought to be included in all of our prayers. Robert Murray McCheyne said,


“I ought not to omit any of the parts of prayer—confession, adoration, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession. There is a fearful tendency to omit confession proceeding from low views of God and His law, slight views of my heart, and the sin of my past life. This must be resisted. There is a constant tendency to omit adoration when I forget to Whom I am speaking when I rush heedlessly into the presence of Jehovah without thought of His awful name and character. When I have little eyesight for his glory and little admiration of His wonders, I have the native tendency of the heart to omit giving thanks, and yet it is especially commanded. Often when the heart is dead to the salvation of others, I omit intercession, and yet it especially is the spirit of the great Advocate Who has the name of Israel on His heart. 1

1 Bounds, Edward M. The Purpose in Prayer. Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2004. Print.


If we learn to include these characteristics in our prayers, we’ll find God moving to meet us and to answer us. Without a doubt, we’ll have reasons to praise Him. David said, “My lips shall praise thee.”


When should we pray?


Psalm 63:1

1 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee...


Psalm 5:3

3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.  


Psalm 55:17

17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: And he shall hear my voice.  


The saints of old all concur that the morning is the best time to start. Even the Lord Jesus set the example for us,


Mark 1:35

35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.  


The midday prayer is to get us back on track. The evening prayer is for reflection and confession. Keep a short account.


J. I. Packer had this advice,


Be wholly committed to Christ’s service each day. Don’t touch sin with a barge-pole. Keep short accounts with God. Think of each hour as God’s gift to you to make the most and best of. ...Live in the present; gratefully enjoy its pleasures and work through its pain with God, knowing that both the pleasures and the pains are steps on the journey home. Open all your life to the Lord Jesus and spend time consciously in his company, basking in and responding to his love. ....get on with what you know to be God’s task for you here and now.1

1 Galaxie Software. 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press, 2002. Print.


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Take Time to Praise Before Time Runs Out
Take Time to Praise Before Time Runs Out

PreacherJP.2004 • April 02, 2020

04/02/2020

Day 93: Take Time to Praise Before Time Runs Out


Isaiah 38:18

18 For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: They that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.  


Hezekiah was king over Judah. He was a very godly king. He turned God's people back to God, and the land saw a great revival. But Hezekiah's end had come upon him suddenly. He found that he had a significant infection that was going to cause his death. Even the prophet Isaiah was sent by God to tell him, "Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live." (See Isaiah 38:1)


Up to this point, it appears Hezekiah hadn't entirely given himself up to live as if he was going to die. He lived as if he had time as if he always had more time. Many of us live in the same manner. We live as if tomorrow will ever come, and it will still happen. The question really is, what side of the sod will we be on when tomorrow comes?


Hezekiah suddenly was faced with the penalty of sin as we all will one day face. (Which is death, by the way, See Romans 6:23) You say, what was his crime? I can't answer that because even God cast Hezekiah's sin behind His back. (See Isaiah 38:17) But it wouldn't be hard to figure out that he was indeed a sinner, and the wages of sin are death. We are all going to die, by the way. That day is going to come where tomorrow will not have us in it. In today's world events, the COVID-19 virus has a death rate of 1.8 % of all who are infected. Sin has a death rate of 100% of all who are infected, and ALL are infected. I'd say I'd take the sin infection a bit more seriously!


When Hezekiah got the news that he was going to die, the command was, "Set thine house in order." This clearly indicates that up to this point, Hezekiah's house wasn't in order. So I'm going to ask you, Is your house in order?


I sometimes know in these devotionals, we go a little deeper than sometimes we'd like to go. But I am going to ask you to, "Step out into the water. Wade out a little bit deeper. Wet your feet in the water of his love..." Hezekiah recognized a truth here that we would do well to remember.


When you treat life as if you'll always have tomorrow, you're ill-prepared to enter Heaven. Notice what he said in Isaiah 38:10, "I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years." He went on to say, "For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee..."


Hezekiah recognized that up to this point, he hadn't praised God enough. He realized up to this point that he hadn't served God adequately. He conceded that up to this point, he hadn't learned about God enough.


Randy Alcorn, in his excellent book on Heaven, states,


  Imagine you're part of a NASA team preparing for a five-year mission to Mars. After a period of extensive training, the launch date finally arrives. As the rocket lifts off, one of your fellow astronauts says to you, "What do you know about Mars?"

 Imagine shrugging your shoulders and saying, "Nothing. We never talked about it. I guess we'll find out when we get there." It's unthinkable, isn't it? It's inconceivable that your training would not have included extensive study of and preparation for your ultimate destination. 1

1 Alcorn, Randy. Heaven. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2011. Print.


The question we must ask ourselves is, how prepared are we for our eternal home? For some of us, that eternal home is a place of fiery torment of unending pain. As a preacher friend of mine says, "Some of you are going to hell with gasoline britches on unless you get saved!" Are some of us entering Heaven because we've been washed in the blood of the Lamb, but we're going to look rather foolish? Are we going to be out of place because we haven't prepared ourselves for that place?


Hezekiah was given a moment of mercy in his life. God stopped his life. That sickness caused him to not be able to further industry in Judah or to build more or grow the economy. The illness prevented him from focusing all of his energy on building his empire and gave him the point in time to begin focusing his time on eternity.


God is doing that for you. What will it take for God to get your focus off of this life and onto the next? Hezekiah realizes that the time to get ready for Heaven is today and not tomorrow. Tomorrow may not be here. 


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Praising God at Wits' End
Praising God at Wits' End

PreacherJP.2004 • April 01, 2020

04/01/2020


Day 92: Praising God At Wit’s End


Psalm 107:27

27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, And are at their wits’ end.  


Psalm 107 is a beautiful chapter in the Psalms that exalt the mercy of God in sending circumstances into the lives of people to cause them to stop and think about the direction of their lives. People who are living their lives oblivious to God’s existence or are just not keeping Him where He belongs in their lives. God's proximity to us matters to Him.


God created us to be very close to Him. He created us to have an intimacy that not even marriage can fully appreciate or display, though it is used as illustrative (See Ephesians 5:25-32). Because of sin, our nearest and dearest is the one and only; Me, Myself, and I. We live life as if we are the center of the universe, and the sun, moon, and stars revolve around us. The is only one Center in the Bible’s story, and it’s not us. It is Christ.


Trials were inflicted to draw their hearts to the place where they “are at their wits’ end.” Is that where you’ve found yourself? The King James Translators put in the marginal notes on this phrase, at their wits’ end, as “All their wisdom is swallowed up.” Your wit is your ability to figure out how to navigate life’s troubles and trials. Are you at your wits’ end yet?


The verse that this phrase is found belongs to a passage of verses, Psalm 107:23-32. It describes those who “go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters” (v23). So we’re talking about mariners who get their living by hauling cargo. Then we see in verse 25, “he [that is, God] commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth the waves thereof.” Everything was going great. Suddenly, a mighty wind arises and causes them to “mount up to the heaven...go down again to the depths...[causing] their soul [to] melt because of trouble.” (v25-26)


It is God that brings them to their wits’ end. Why? Does God find humor in our calamities? Absolutely not. He cares enough about us to know that without Him, we are lost at sea, no matter how much money we make. There is nothing like our own prosperity that tends to spoil our souls.


The mariners are forced to cry out for help beyond themselves. Notice verse 28,


Psalm 107:28

28 Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, And he bringeth them out of their distresses.  


Its the cry of the soul that God is listening for. That is praise from the broken heart. In verse 29, “He maketh the storm a calm...” and in verse 30, “So he bringeth them unto their desired haven.”


A haven is ‘any place in which ships can be sheltered by the land from the force of tempests and a violent sea.’ That’s the truth of the matter. The world is under the curse, and we are in it. We only have one safe place, and that is in Christ. He is our “Haven of Rest.”


God is using this generation pandemic to awaken His children. The lost people are awakened, but they don’t know where to turn. They need to see in us not a form of religion but the form of Christ.


Galatians 4:19

19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,  


Paul said that he travailed in birth again. The picture here is that of a woman having to give birth to the same child twice. Can you imagine ladies? That is what Paul is saying. He is saying that he led some people to the Lord that got saved, and they started living for God but then started getting cold in their walk with God because they were succumbing to the temptation of being religious but lacking devotion to Christ. They needed to allow Christ to be formed in them all over again. You know what they needed? Revival. Not the talk about it kind. But the real deal, where Christ actually becomes all in all. People need to see Jesus in us. That’s not just a saying.


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Praising God By Little and Little
Praising God By Little and Little

PreacherJP.2004 • March 31, 2020

Often in my Christian life, I've wasted much time peering into the big picture of God's plan for my life. I wanted to know what the future held for me and what God intended to use me for. For those of you who serve God and especially called to preach, perhaps you can relate to this. Others, who are living their lives day to day, but often wonder and worry over the future and what it entails, this message will be for you as well. God has a unique method. His plan is seen from Him from the beginning to the end, but He doesn't overwhelm us with the big picture and bog us down with the details. He doesn't give us a fatalistic point of view, where we live by fate and believe that our choices won't matter. Instead, He gives us His purposes "by little and little."


God doesn't care if you're a president or a CEO, a housewife or a nurse, a preacher or a Sunday school teacher, etc. etc. God cares about the little things you do every single day. Because He can only truly us in those areas if we are surrendered to the little things. He's concerned about the small choices we make. God cares about the tiny words we use and the significant effect they have on others. He cares about the little attitudes we carry throughout the day. He's deeply engaged in whether or not we are going to make the little choice to depend on Him or rely on ourselves. He cares about the short recreation time we get at the end of the day and how we spend it. He cares about the types of songs we choose or the kinds of movies we watch. He cares about the little things.


Matthew 10:30

30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  


God cares about the little things.


Luke 16:10

10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.  


God doesn't want me peering into the big picture of my life. He wants me filled with His Spirit. To be filled with His Spirit means that I am making the conscience little choices from the start of the day to the end of the day to yield to His guidance and base every small decision upon what He wants me to do. That might seem crazy to some people, but that is precisely what "being filled" is referring too. The word filled means 'to occupy the whole of.' That means there is no room left for anything else. Now, does that mean God doesn't lead me to have fun? Absolutely not! Who do you think invented fun? God's fun is clean. Evil is good inverted. Notice what Sarah said when God had opened her womb and fulfilled His promise to her and Abraham,


Genesis 21:6

6 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.  


God caused laughter in Sarah's life. God will allow us to enjoy life by His fullness, not by the lack of His fullness. Regardless of what our lives are filled with during times of turmoil, we still can find joy in His presence.


Psalm 16:11

11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.  


The text we chose for today was about Moses giving instruction to Israel as they waited on the borders of Canaan land. They had been waiting and waiting to inherit their promised land and were anxious to enter. Moses taught them about the land and that it was holy to God. He taught them that it was possessed by their enemies and that their enemies would have to be deposed if they were to enjoy the land of promise. He explained this that God would "by little and little," "put out those nations before thee." The reason for this is because, if they "consumed them at once," then "the beasts of the field" would "increase upon" them. Israel didn't possess the numbers to inhabit all of the cities at once. If they would have cast out every single enemy and left the towns uninhabited, then the animal kingdom would take over. Then they would have that problem on their hands.


There is a spiritual application here. This is a picture of the Christian life. When we are entering into the victory of Jesus Christ, that promised land represents our souls. It's already holy to God. But there are enemies in God's land; the enemies of the flesh. If we were able to eradicate all of them at once but lacked the spiritual maturity to maintain the spiritual life, we would be overcome by the beasts of the field, i.e., Satan. Little by little, we grow in grace, and God teaches us to rely and depend on Him.


Start with little things in your Christian walk. Start by starting your day with God. Make time for prayer and Bible study. Start reading a good Christian book. Commit to reading just one chapter a day. Make little choices throughout the day that honor God. Before you know it, God will have thrust out the enemy before you and also given you spiritual maturity to possess the land because you understand the vital importance of God-dependence.

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