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Storm Clouds Are Gathering

Storm Clouds Are Gathering

Read Zephaniah Chapter 2

Zep 2:1 Gather together, gather together, O shameful nation, 2 before the appointed time arrives and that day sweeps on like chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD comes upon you, before the day of the LORD’S wrath comes upon you. 3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what He commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD’S anger.

When a nation or a people group begins to stray away from God and His word, bad things begin to happen. Our Lord does not bless a nation or an individual who refuses to believe in Him and take heed to His word. There are many examples of that truth throughout the bible. Zephaniah wrote this book as prophesy of the coming destruction of Judah and Jerusalem. It is not only the ungodly who experience difficulty when that happens. Those who are faithful also suffer. There usually is a remnant of people, true believers, in any land or people group which begins to experience the difficulties of God’s retribution. That was true for men and women in Judah who had not abandoned the Lord. Zephaniah’s word to those men and women is clear in these verses.

In verse 3 he called them the “humble of the land.” He wanted them to know about the coming destruction of their circumstances. There were bad times ahead. In order to prepare for those times, Zephaniah gave them instructions which would help them survive. As our nation continues to fall further and further away from God, having no fear or reverence for Him and His word, we can be very sure that His blessings upon our country are going to be slowly withdrawn. I cannot imagine how any believer could argue against that statement. When that happens, Christians who are alive will suffer collateral damage as a result. Just as Christians in other lands are suffering as we speak, because their home country does not follow God, this will surely happen here as well. Zephaniah’s instructions are equally applicable to us today as they were for the people of Judah.

1. Seek the Lord.

I fear that there are many Christians today who are complacent in this matter. Instead of seeking the Lord, many are simply going about their daily routines, going through the motions of life with little regard for the Lord. There is great danger in simply giving only occasional thought to our Lord. He desires, and even demands, that His children should be consistently seeking Him. He should be consulted at every turn in life, living daily under the umbrella of the wisdom of His word.

2. Seek righteousness.

This one has good application to the SSA man and woman. Most of our same-sex sins are committed because we fail to seek righteousness. Our number one goal in life is to obey and worship our Savior. Seeking righteousness in a sincere, steadfast manner will leave us no time for seeking unrighteousness.

3. Seek humility.

Mankind can easily get puffed up over his ability to live life without regard to God and His word. When a man believes, consciously or unconsciously, that he doesn’t need God in order to cope with life and survive its hazards, he has ceased to be humble. Humility comes when we are fully aware that we cannot live any facet of our lives without His divine guidance. We truly cannot cope with this world without Him. Seeking humility will cause us to accept that truth. God’s promise to the believers in Judah isn’t all flowers and blue skies. His promise is that “perhaps you will be sheltered.” As mentioned before, there is always collateral damage in bad times. Those who have been a part in bringing about dire circumstances will not be the only ones who suffer as a result. God’s children are not always immune. When our country begins to feel the effects of God’s judgment, some of us will suffer. Whether we are of the ones who suffer, or of the ones who are spared suffering, all of us must be careful to seek the three things Zechariah mentioned. It will take a lot of self-control, self-discipline, and perseverance for God’s beloved to remain faithful in hard times. We in America today are spoiled rotten. We tend to fall away at the first mention of suffering. We do not know what real trying times are. Christians who are being persecuted around the world know. If we were able to interview them now, we would find that they remain true to God because they have sought God, righteousness, and humility. We must be prepared for any eventuality.

Prayer: Lord, strengthen us for whatever lies ahead in our lives. Whether or not we undergo sufferings similar to the believers in Judah is not the real issue. These things we should be seeking are vitally necessary in any case. Place within our hearts a desire to sincerely seek You, righteousness, and humility. Strengthen us for all the spiritual battles which lie ahead.

We Are So Wise. Not!

We Are So Wise. Not!

 
Read Psalm Chapter 49
 
Ps 49:13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings. 14 Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them. The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions. 15 But God will redeem my life from the grave; He will surely take me to Himself.
 
Mankind looks for any way possible to avoid facing and accepting truth. God’s word contains a lot of truths which men do not like and do not wish to hear. For example, in the Old Testament, there are many situations in which the Lord asked His people to completely destroy a certain race or people. Another example is when the Lord commanded that certain sinners be stoned to death. Men today cannot understand why God would pronounce such severe judgment on any person or groups of individuals. Even some believers don’t want to think that is a part of our Lord’s character and nature. Nevertheless, it is, and we who belong to Him must accept all of His decisions as valid, whether we agree with them or not.
 
Just a few days ago, I was watching an interview where a reporter was speaking with a woman who was same-sex attracted. In the course of the conversation, she said something like this: “Why would I want to follow and worship a God who would ask people to stone me?” Actually, that is a valid question, but not one which should preclude someone from believing and accepting God and Christ, and accepting their written word. However, we will not ever understand God completely in this life as long as we inhabit these earthly bodies. There is much truth in God’s word which we simply must accept in child-like faith.
 
Atheists are among those who “trust in themselves,” as the writer of this Psalm describes them. But there are also some “believers” who trust in themselves. Some of them may be true, born again believers. But some are pretend believers, who have no clue they remain outside the gate. All three groups, speaking only in regard to SSA men and women, are trusting in themselves.
 
The atheists unknowingly believe they are smarter than God. Even though they do not believe He exists, the foundation of their belief system is that they have infinite knowledge. Therefore, in reality they are “smarter than God” They are trusting in their earthly wisdom; trusting in themselves. Consequently, as they consider the validity of whether their same-sex actions are okay, they deem themselves to be the ruling authority which has the wisdom to make a correct decision.
 
The latter two groups of people have determined that homosexual activity is acceptable in God’s sight. In their way of thinking, they have made a human decision that the word of God is not correct in its evaluation of homosexuality. Either the original manuscripts have been misinterpreted, the biblical writer was not inspired by the Holy Spirit when he penned those words, or God has changed His mind about the subject. All of these ideas are simply examples of men and women who are “trusting in themselves.”
 
It is likely that you do not fall into any of these three groups of people. More than likely, you fully trust that God’s word is true in every respect and you are firmly convinced that you must battle SSA and conquer its influence on your life. But the message for today is for all of us. It is easy for any of us to fall prey to incorrect notions about God and His word. We must always be on guard against our falling away from the truth. All we have to do to see that we are vulnerable to error in our ways of thought is to remember our friends who once believed the truth but are now trusting in their own wisdom and thought processes. To do so is to believe that our wisdom is greater than the wisdom of the One who created all things which exist. That is the ultimate in folly.
 
Prayer: Lord, I have so wanted to take hold of false beliefs and live my life as though they were true. There have been times I have fooled myself into that way of thinking. Yet, in the back of my mind, I knew, because of the presence of Your Spirit, that I was mistaken. I know You have revealed that to Your children who are living that lie. Bring them back onto Your pathway soon. And Lord, pour out your Spirit upon every SSA man and woman who have not accepted Christ as their Savior, and have not accepted Your word as valid. God have mercy.

Get That Whip Out!

Get That Whip Out!

 
Read 1 Corinthians Chapter 9
 
1Co 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
 
If any of us wonder whether SSA men and women have a more difficult time resisting temptation than other Christians, maybe today’s thoughts will answer that question. Of course, anytime we study the life of Paul we should already know the answer. Paul had an extremely difficult life as he attempted to serve Christ and spread the gospel across Asia and Europe. At every turn he was faced with difficulty of some kind; difficulties which most Christians will never have to face. 
 
In this passage, he is comparing the Christian life with a race in which there is only one winner. He did not mean that there would only be one winning Christian; he meant that each of us must live our lives in the same way that a runner would run a race where there WAS only one winner. The runner cannot leave anything to chance. He must do everything possible to help him win.
 
Our focus today will be upon something Paul wrote in verse 27. He BEAT his body in such a way that it became his slave. That doesn’t sound like we should expect to have an easy course as we each run our own personal spiritual gamut through life. The Christian life isn’t supposed to be easy. What has caused us to believe that? Paul had his own battle with temptation to sin. He described it in vivid detail in the book of Romans. Now we can get back to our main point. What does it mean that we must “beat our bodies and make them our slaves?”
 
We must be disciplined. We cannot allow our minds, a part of the body, to lead us to pornography. We have to “beat” it, implying that we bring our minds into submission. We cannot allow temptation to linger within our minds any longer than the first moment it arises. We must not allow our minds to trick us into believing we can drive past that park and easily resist the urge to turn into it. Our minds must be “beaten” so that it is completely submissive to our will; or more correctly stated, submissive to the will of our Lord. 
 
Our mind is a powerful entity. If we are fully determined to control it, we must expend some serious extra energy in order for it to become a slave to righteousness. We must not allow ourselves to believe that we cannot control and enslave our minds. It will require that we take on the mind of a runner in a race. Our competitive spirit, controlled by the Holy Spirit, must be fully energized to finish this race the victor. Any effort less than that will cause us to stumble and fall over and over again, as many of us do. 
 
We will always have trouble staying on course until such time as we fully enslave our minds, forcing it to keep running at full speed toward the finish line. Let us quit believing that our lives should be easy. Let us quit being spiritually lazy. We have a very difficult task ahead of us – that is to become more like Christ every day for the rest of our lives.
 
Our enemy does not have the power to force us to make wrong choices. He only has the power to provide opportunities for us to fail. Our greatest enemy is ourselves. Check out this link: 
 
 
Prayer: Father, we know we have been lazy. We have not focused on the task ahead of us in the same way that a runner approaches a race. That sounds like a lot of work, and it is. Yet, that is what it will take. Give us the desire and the willingness to put all of our energies into running our race. Give us a desire to win. We have been such wimps!!
 
 
 

It Is Not A Bad Thing

It Is Not A Bad Thing

 
Read Lamentations Chapter 3
 
There is so much good word in this chapter that it is difficult to pick out which verses to highlight. This chapter is a beautiful chapter of love. It is a picture of God’s love toward His children which many misinterpret as a picture of God’s wrath. In one sense it is, but the purpose of His wrath in this passage is different than the wrath which He reserves for unbelievers, scoffers, atheists, etc. Let’s begin with this:
 
La 3:39 Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins? 40 Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD. 41 Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say: 42 “We have sinned and rebelled and You have not forgiven.
 
This theme from Lamentations has to do with the way in which God disciplines those who belong to Him. The writer, traditionally believed to be Jeremiah, is lamenting over the destruction of Jerusalem. He was aware that the disobedience of the Israelites was the reason why God allowed Jerusalem to be conquered and destroyed. In this particular verse, the writer acknowledged that God had every right to punish and discipline the nation on which He had chosen as His people. He further explained what the people must do in order to regain their privileged relationship with God.
 
Remember this: the Israelite nation is the Old Testament example of how the Lord deals with New Testament Christians, those who have believed and have been grafted into the family of God. As SSA Christians, our attitude toward God should be very close to the attitude of Jeremiah. We should not complain when our Savior refuses to allow us to travel down the road of disobedience. We should take that as sure proof positive that our Lord loves us; He cherishes us so much that He will do whatever it takes to bring us back into alignment with His will.
 
La 3:1 I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath. 2 He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light.
 
Speaking personally, I have been there. God has afflicted me most severely when I was outside His will; not so much when I was younger and more foolish than wise. But after my later missteps in life, when I had more than enough knowledge and wisdom to know better, He descended upon me with full throttle. That last time hopefully will be concretely implanted within my memory so that I will never again allow myself to endure that much discipline.
 
 La 3:21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.
 
When those who belong to God find themselves under this kind of discipline, these verses offer hope. Without question, it is only because we are loved, dearly loved by our Father, that we can be 100% sure that we will not be consumed, for His compassions NEVER fail! This is one of the most beautiful descriptions of His unfailing love toward us that we can ever find. When we find ourselves being forced to repent, we should be aware that we are the most blessed of all men. We have hope, not because we have any power within ourselves to escape our plight, but because we are loved by our Father.
 
La 3:31 For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. 32 Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. 33 For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.
 
This is another great expression of hope, based on solid truth. Those who belong to our Lord will not be cast off forever. His disciplines always lead us to repentance, which allows Him to shower us with compassion. Verse 33 has an additional truth. Our loving Lord doesn’t want to punish us, no more than a loving earthly parent wants to punish his children. He reluctantly does what must be done, because we have failed to return to Him voluntarily.
 
La 3:24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.” 25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
 
This is our proper response when we have disobeyed. We repent, wait upon Him to restore us, hope in Him, and wait quietly for His deliverance. It will happen.
 
Prayer: Again, as we have said many times before, “Thank You!”
 

Many Voices Crying Out In The Wilderness

Many Voices Crying Out In The Wilderness

 

Read Mark Chapter 1
 
Mk 1:2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way”— 3 “a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.’ ” 4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
 
We all know that this prophesy from the book of Isaiah foretells the coming of John the Baptist. It also foretells that John will prepare the way for the coming of Christ. John preached a message of repentance from sins, baptizing them with water in preparation for Jesus to baptize them with the Spirit. John had a unique role to play in God’s plan to provide atonement for the sins of mankind, or at least to all who would accept Christ for who He is and believe in Him.
 
John is indeed unique, in that he was the one and only man to fulfill this role in the time of Christ. Nevertheless, I am going out on a limb, as I often do, and suggest something that I cannot prove. But, it makes sense and does not contradict anything from scriptures. In today’s world, there are few voices ‘crying out in the wilderness,’ imploring men and women to repent of their misdeeds, and asking sinners to accept Christ and His word.
 
As time draws near to the end of our world, or at least the end of our country, there will likely be fewer and fewer voices of truth which implore men to receive and believe. In some respects the remnant of Christians, true believers, will be much like John the Baptist. They will be a voice calling in the sinful desert wasteland of mankind, begging for men to come to Christ in humble submission.
 
By no means am I suggesting that we are all “John the Baptists,” But I definitely am suggesting that we are perhaps the last voices who will speak out for the cause of Christ before His return. There was one voice calling out in preparation for His initial appearance on the earth, but hopefully there will be more than one voice calling out in preparation for His final return to earth.
 
One thing cannot be denied. We who believe in Jesus and accept His word as the ultimate source of truth, and desire to obey Him and all He has said, must not shirk our duty. We have an obligation, a responsibility, a calling; and that is to never allow our voices to remain silent. There is too much at stake. We have no greater purpose in life than to be about the work of our Father. That work is to be His mouthpiece in a world which seems to be almost totally outside of His will. Men and women are following false teachers into the pits of Hell. They are much like the lemmings of Greenland, who follow their leader off the cliffs and drown in the cold sea.
 
As they make their way toward eternity without Christ, we must become voices in the wilderness, crying out to the masses, pleading with them to open their eyes and see what is ahead. If we who know Him do not do it, they will have no hope.
 
Ac 4:18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
 
The world will try to silence our voices, but we must not allow that to happen. We must speak God’s truth, no matter who does not like to hear it, and no matter how much we are maligned as we speak. There is a better day still out there in the future:
 
Zec 8:23 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’
 
Prayer: Father, we want to be Your voice in these perilous times. We do not want out friends and family to continue to listen to the myriads of false voices that they hear at every turn in their lives. God have mercy, and intervene in the lives of those who are being misled.
 
 
 

What?

What?

 
Read 1 Corinthians Chapter 6
 
1Co 6:13 “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
 
It is very easy to overlook some of the short, simple phrases in the bible. In the latter part of this verse, Paul states something which should be important to us. Our body is “not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” We probably have contemplated the first part of those words many times. We have learned from this verse and from many other verses that our bodies are not designed by God for immoral use. But have we ever given any serious thought to the latter part of that verse? I know I had not until just recently.
 
Our bodies are meant for the Lord. I will not pretend to understand the depth of that thought. We know that we were created in His image. We know that we were created for fellowship with Him. But when we think about that, we usually visualize it in terms of our spiritual beings, not our physical bodies. If we transfer our way of thinking to our physical bodies, how can we understand that they are meant for the Lord? Here are some thoughts for us to ponder.
 
Our bodies belong to Him. They are counted among His vast storehouse of possessions. If He owns the “cattle on ten thousand hills,” He also owns all of the humans He created. They were created for His purposes. That same idea is pictured in the biblical description of the Potter and His relationship with His created vessel. The Potter has the authority to create some vessels for one purpose and other vessels for different purposes. For this reason, let us try to picture our bodies as something which we are only borrowing for a short while. They are not our property; they are only on loan from God. 
 
Consequently, our Father has the right to be in control of our bodies. He wants to walk alongside us and give us good advice about how to care for them and what to do with them. He wants us to consider at every juncture in life; what would the Owner of this body want me to do with it. In the parable of the vineyard and its owner, a caretaker was given control of the vineyard while the owner went away. The owner expected the caretaker to be responsible for its care and to ensure that it produced as much fruit as was possible while the owner was away. Our bodies are like that. Our Creator expects us to use our bodies wisely; to use it as an instrument to fulfill His purposes. If we give that serious consideration, we will take great care in what we do with our bodies.
 
Here is an even more difficult concept to understand. The Lord is meant for our bodies. That is what the last part of this verse stated. Does that mean that His ultimate purpose in creating our bodies was so that He could reside in it? We do know that we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He now lives within us. Does it mean that His intention from the beginning was that He would multiply Himself through His taking possession of our beings? I don’t know. That just explodes my mind into a zillion pieces. The idea that the Lord is meant for the body just doesn’t compute.
 
Well, we will not always have these bodies. We will receive new bodies at the end. But that is a subject for another time. One more thought, and then I am going to rest my brain for a while.
 
Of one thing we can be sure. We are accountable to our Lord for every thought, word, and action. Our minds, souls, AND bodies are His property. We would be wise to think about that 24/7.
 
Prayer: Lord, Your thoughts and Your ways are far beyond our comprehension level. We are eternally grateful that You have desired to own and control our bodies and our spirits. Unless we did not allow You to have complete charge of our lives, we would have no hope. Thank You for taking the reins from our hands, and leading us into a better life; the life which You intended from the beginning.
 
 

It’s A Good Thing……………

It’s A Good Thing……………

 
Read Micah Chapter 7
 
The book of Micah is a scathing account of the sins of God’s people and a prophetic announcement of the coming judgment because of their disobedience. But he also predicts some good things which will come about after God’s wrath has been satisfied. Chapter 4 tells us of the time when our Lord will gather up His remnant, including some of those who had been involved in the sins which led to their plight. Chapter 5 prophesies about the coming of Christ. Some of the following chapters again predict dire consequences for Israel because of their rebellion. But God finished the book with some very encouraging words.
 
Micah ended the book with these beautiful descriptions of our loving, forgiving, merciful Lord.
 
Mic 7:18 Who is a God like You, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. 19 You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
 
If this were the only passage in all of God’s word which delivered comfort to those of us who have been involved in SSA, it would be sufficient.
 
1.       Our loving Father pardons sin. He forgives the transgressions of those He saved from destruction. His love for those He chose to belong to Him will win out over the destructiveness of our sins.
2.       He does not stay angry forever. This is a promise which I have claimed many times. Psalm 30:5 expresses the same sentiment. I was aware of that passage before I became aware of this one from Micah.
3.       He will again have compassion on us. In those times of repentance and shame after a failure, I would have had no hope if it were not for this promise. He has restored His compassion to me many times. Thank You, Lord.
4.       Our Lord “delights to show mercy.” This one may be the greatest phrase in this passage. God does not reluctantly bestow His mercy upon us. When we are begging for His forgiveness for the umpteenth time, we often think that He is contemplating the pros and cons of extending His mercy to us. We think maybe He wishes He had never saved us in the beginning. We think He begrudgingly says, “Well, okay, but just for this last time only.” NOT SO!! He DELIGHTS and takes joy in giving us mercy. It gives Him great pleasure!
5.       God will trample our sins underfoot. I can visualize Him stomping them into the ground, pulverizing them to the extent that they are unrecognizable when He is done.
6.       He will hurl all our iniquities into the depth of the sea. Well, when He throws mine into the sea, watch out for a great rising of the ocean’s water level. They may fill it up, and the waters will flood all the coastal low-lying areas. 
 

As a child and a young adult I never heard this message – this side of our Savior. The churches of the 50’s which I attended had one message only; God is always wrathful and vengeful. If I had not discovered His other attributes when I did, I don’t believe I could have survived the pain and suffering that I endured over my sinfulness much longer. It brought great relief to discover His love, mercy, and grace. It was there all along, displayed all throughout His word, but not taught in the churches I attended. 
 
Prayer: As I have said many times before, “What can I say, other than, ‘Thank You!’”
 
 

That Nosy Jude! How Dare Him!

That Nosy Jude! How Dare Him!

 
Read the book of Jude
 
Jude is a very short book of the bible. It contains only one chapter. One would think that in that short passage, surely there would be nothing in it which declared homosexual behaviors to be sinful. Yeah, one would think that. Let’s take a look at it and see what we find.
 
Jude 1:4 For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
 
Well, that’s not too bad. Sure, immorality is sin; we all know that. But what is immorality? We don’t know what is included in its definition. Maybe homosexual acts are not included. Plus, I haven’t denied Jesus Christ. So I’m okay.
 
Jude 1:7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. 8 In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies……..
 
Well, that didn’t take long. Jude had to get nosy and get into our faces by the seventh verse. Although there are some who explain away the same-sex actions of the men of Sodom as “misusing their same-sex desires,” the message of Sodom and Gomorrah is actually undeniable. Same-sex actions were then and continue to be unacceptable in God’s plan for mankind. It is described by Jude as “polluting their own bodies.” I can assure you I was doing that when I engaged in those actions.
 
Jude 1:10 Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.
 
Jude mentions that the things we understand are instinctive things. What are some of our instinctive behaviors? We can probably be sure that one of them is sexual desires. After all, “unreasoning animals” as mentioned in verse 10 instinctively engage in sexual acts. Also, they are not discerning about whom to have sex with. Jude reminds us that those actions will destroy us. They have no eternal effect on animals, but they certainly do for men and women.
 
Jude 1:14 …………. “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of His holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
 
Let’s see, we do have to wonder what we can say are ‘ungodly acts.’ There seems to be a theme developing here, a thread which weaves in and out of sexual behaviors. The writer’s words allude to the idea that immorality, polluting our own bodies, and sexual perversion are ungodly acts done in an ungodly way.
 
Jude 1:16 These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. 17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
 
Obviously, Jude is speaking of men who do whatever they wish to do. Twice he states it as, “they follow their own evil desires.” We do not have to wonder which of our desires are evil and which are not. It is also significant that he mentions the phrase, ‘natural instincts.’ We are not free to follow our natural instincts. We are to follow God’s word; His commands, warnings – they often are different than our natural instincts.
 
Jude 1:22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
 
I think Jude found just about every way possible to describe our sexual sins. In this verse, he describes them as “corrupted flesh.”  That too is a reference to our humanly desires – things we have come to believe are natural and normal. Jude was very clear: our nature is contrary to God’s will. It has been since the Fall, when Adam and Eve allowed our enemy to misconstrue and twist our natural desires in opposition to God’s plan.
 
Prayer: Well, Lord, You have made this issue very clear. Forgive us when we attempt to justify our ungodly behaviors.
 
 

Taking The Test

Taking The Test

 
Read Psalm Chapter 26
 
Ps 26:2 Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; 3 for Your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in Your truth.
 
There is no magical moment in time when we find that we have spiritually arrived. As long as we walk this earth, we will continue to grow in His love, grace, knowledge, and wisdom. The Psalmist knew this truth. His prayer in this passage was a plea to his Lord; asking Him to continually test, try, and examine him. That is a great lesson for all of us. Our walk with God must be undergoing never-ending scrutiny. 
 
If we listen to the wisdom of the world, we will have no clue as to whether we are heading in the right direction. The world does not consider God’s word to have the final say in regard to right and wrong. Our government also does not feel the need to consult God’s word before acting. The Psalmist has something to say about that.
 
He says that he walks continually in God’s truth. Before anyone can walk in God’s truth, he must know where to find that source of information. There is only one reliable source – God’s word. So many Christians today tend to rely on how they feel in the “spirit.” If a man is grounded in the word of God, his ‘spirit’ will more often than not be aligned with the truth. But is a man doesn’t know the bible, and isn’t consistently studying, learning, and meditating on the word, it is easy for him to be deceived by feelings and false spirits.
 
2Co 11:13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
 
God gave us His word so that we will have a way to test, try, and examine our ways. And as we study it, His Spirit has the opportunity to pour wisdom and truth into our minds and hearts.
 
There’s one other thought from today’s main scripture passage. The Psalmist says, “Your love is ever before me.” How does the writer know that? Is it because he looked around himself and saw evidence of God’s love? Maybe and maybe not. There were times in his life when evidence of God’s love surrounded him, and there were times when he could not see God’s hand upon him. Suppose a man looks around him and can’t see physical evidence of God’s love? Can he also say, “Your love is ever before me?” Yes, he can. God’s word is filled with assurance of God’s love. We cannot read for long before we see a verse which assures us that His love surrounds us now and forever. From scripture, we too gain comfort in knowing that His love is ever before us.
 
Prayer: Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and mind. Never let me stray away from Your truth. And thank You, for Your love, for it is ever before me.

Darkness Doesn’t Last Forever

Darkness Doesn’t Last Forever

 
Read Micah Chapter 7
 
Mic 7:8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. 9 Because I have sinned against Him, I will bear the LORD’S wrath, until He pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see His righteousness.
 
Does this passage ring a bell with you? It does with me. After a period of sinning, God always has called me back unto Him. When that happens, I go through a period of darkness. I used to think that that period of darkness was evidence that my Savior had not forgiven me. I used to believe that ‘this time’, I had strayed too far from God and forgiveness was not a possibility. Fortunately, these verses, and some others as well, have helped me to realize that it is normal that we go through a period of sadness over our willful disobedience. 
 
The Israelites often paid a price for their rebellion, and so have I. In this discourse from Micah, there are some beautiful assurances for us that we are indeed forgiven. The prophet began by stating that the plight of the Israelites was not a permanent situation. The next thought is that “Yes, I have fallen, but it’s not the end of the story.” Here are our sources of comfort we can cling to when we are enduring the aftermath of our sinfulness.
 
1.       “Though I have fallen, I will rise.” – When you and I are despairing over our sins, remember this: we will once again rise.
2.       “Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.” – No matter how dark our sorrow may be, the Lord is still our source of light. He will eventually shed His light into our situation and rescue us from our gloom.
3.       “He will plead my case and establish my right.” – This is also a promise from the New Testament. In it we learn that our Savior, Jesus Christ, sits at the right hand of God, continually interceding in our behalf.
4.       “He will bring me out into the light; I will see His righteousness.” – Why is it important that the Israelites see His righteousness? Why is it important that WE see His righteousness? There’s a pretty simple answer; our redemption, our forgiveness, depends upon only one thing – His righteousness. We will not be able to provide our own righteousness in order to once again walk in harmony with God. It is the righteousness of Christ which will bring about our deliverance.
 
The writer penned this passage with the greatest of confidence. He knew without any doubt that his time and the Israelites’ time of sitting in the dark would not last forever. We can have that same confidence after we have sinned; not because of anything we have done, but because our Savior has promised that He will bring it about. His righteousness has paved the way for each of us, fully repentant and hating the deeds we have done, to receive complete reestablishment of our right-standing with God. It is as sure as God Himself.
 
If forgiveness for our disobedience came about with nothing more than a passing “I’m sorry, Lord,” we could sin repeatedly, over and over, and never have to go through a time of darkness. I agree that does happen sometimes. Our merciful God does not always force us to bear His wrath as noted in verse 9. But when He is dealing with one of His most stubborn children, of which I am the poster child, some amount of sitting in a dark corner is necessary.  I’ve seen plenty of it. But I know now, and I hope you do too, that God will never, never, NEVER, leave us in that cold, dark room.
 
Prayer: Father, Your faithfulness and Your righteousness are my only hope. I thank You from the bottom of my heart; that You have clearly shown me the dark side of my sinfulness. I thank You that Your deliverance will always come about. I have borne Your wrath, as Micah related, and I really didn’t enjoy the experience. But in Your love, You pleaded my case and brought me out into the light. Thank You, my Lord and Savior!
 
 
 
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