FRUSTRATERS OF GOD’S PEOPLE

…discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose… –Ezra 4:4-5

Tim Stanley writes: The religious persecution in Iraq has seen one of the most vibrant Middle East Christian communities almost wiped out – forced to covert, driven from their homes or murdered. Conditions deteriorated after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, improved a little with the US-led surge in 2007 and now, with the advance of Isis, has descended to what might be described as genocide. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/11000168/Iraqs-persecuted-Assyrian-Christians-are-in-limbo.html

There are those who are out to frustrate the purposes of God’s people and they will use fear and discouragement to accomplish their desires. As stated in the paragraph above, those who against God’s people not only use fear and discouragement to hinder the work of God’s people, but when they are in power they will even kill the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the context of the verse above, the people of God were rebuilding the temple as they had been given permission to do. There were those in the land that did not want that to happen and they approached the government to order a “stop work” edict.

Today, in the U.S., we still have the freedom to worship and serve the Lord God Almighty, but those freedoms are under attack. There are those in government positions who would seek to, and at times do, try to discourage, make fearful and frustrate the work of the followers of Jesus.

Let us not be surprise or shocked when these things happen. We are in spiritual warfare. Our adversary, the devil, seeks to destroy (I Peter 5:8). Let us be wise in our walk, bold as we go, being and doing what the Lord desires. May this be so!

Dear Father, regardless of where we live and whatever government we live under, please help us to boldly serve You according to Your desires. May our desire be to serve You above all in the Name of Jesus our Lord!

HAVE RIGHT THINKING!

And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away. —Ezra 3:11-13

Remember the “good ole days?” Now, what was so good about the “good ole days?” Do you remember the old job and think it was better than the one you have now? Was it the old house you used to live in and think it was better than the one you live in now? Do you think of the old town you used to live in and think it was better than where you live now? Do you remember your old friends and think they were better than the ones you have now?

The trouble with thinking the “good ole days” were the best or better days negates the good the Lord seeks to do in your life in the present. To desire to live in the past is not to appreciate what the Lord is seeking to do in and through your life in the present. The present may not feel the same as the past, may not look the same and may not be as comfortable as the past, but that does not change the fact that the Lord is working in the present day situation.

In the verses above the people were excited! They were back in the land after being exiled for 70 years and now the foundation of the new temple was laid. Many of the people shouted for joy, but many of the older people who could remember the old temple wept. They thought the “good ole days” and the old temple were better. But God was doing a new thing! Let us not be captivated by fanciful impressions of the past. Instead, let us be expectant of the powerful presence of the Lord God Almighty in the present and what He desires to do in and through us. Let us look at the “good present and future” and not dwell on the false impressions of the “good ole days” of the past. Let us not be bound by twisted thoughts, but live free by Holy Spirit inspired thinking!

Dear Father, thank You for today. I may not understand all that is going on, but I understand that You will never leave or forsake me and that you will be with me to the end of the age. Help me to rejoice in today, even when it may be uncomfortable because I know You are with me!

THE STIRRINGS OF GOD

…the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia… —Ezra 1:1

C’mon, the sun is up, the day has started, let’s get going. “Ooooh is it time to get up already?” came the reply. He was stirred and now his feet hit the floor, ready to start the day.
It is interesting how the Lord stirs people of all types and backgrounds to do His will. In the above verse the Lord stirred up King Cyrus to allow the Israelites to return to their homeland which was foretold by the prophet Jeremiah.

“The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; he guides it wherever he pleases” (Proverbs 21:1). Nobody, regardless of how weak or strong they are, is outside the Lord’s control. If the Lord decides to move someone to do something, then He will do so. It matters not who they are.

Can the Lord direct the heart of a President to do His will? He sure can. King Cyrus was not allowing the Israelites to return to their homeland because that was his idea, no, it was the Lord’s will and He caused King Cyrus to think that way. Surely the Lord can affect the mind of a President or any other ruler… and He does!

Let us rejoice in knowing that the Lord can turn any person or move any person in any direction to accomplish what He desires. Nobody is outside of His ability to guide. Nobody is outside His control. Everything is moving along according to His plan. We can take comfort in knowing the Lord God Almighty is Sovereign over everyone and over every circumstance!

Father, I am grateful to know that You are in total control. I may not be able to understand so much, but I do understand this and I can trust You fully for what I do not understand. Thank You for the peace You give in Jesus!

WHAT I VALUE

Should not shepherds feed the sheep? … you do not feed the sheep … the strayed you have not brought back …the lost you have not sought … My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. —Ezekiel 34:2-6

If you lost $1000, would you seek for it? How about if you lost $10, would you seek for that? If we misplace something or something we value is lost, then we seek it out. How many of us have looked for lost keys to the car, a lost wallet with all the valuable information in it or something else that we highly value?

Here is a sobering thought for me to think about. How much do I value the lost? Do I value the lost as Jesus wants me to value them? Is there any time that I spend on thinking and praying for the lost and how the Lord might want to work in and through me to reach them? Do I know the passages of His Word that speaks to the responsibility of the saved to share the gospel with the lost? Finally, am I seeking to be obedient to the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 which would include Acts 1:8—- sharing the gospel to make disciples?

In Luke 19:1-10 we truly see the heart of the Lord Jesus and His urgent concern for the lost sheep. This is why Jesus came to earth. He came to “seek and save the lost.” This was the driving motivation of His life. It was the pinnacle work of His ministry. The cross was where Jesus made salvation possible for all who look to Him as the final Substitute Lamb— whether people looked before or after the cross. Jesus is the only way!

Think about how much Jesus loves you by laying down His life for you at the cross! There is not greater love. Now, should not you and I lay down our lives in seeking out the lost to share the gospel with them? When was the last time you and I did so? How much do you and I value what Jesus values? Do we truly value the lost as Jesus does? Oh, may we do so and seek to share the gospel with them. May it be so today!

Dear Father, help me not just to talk about reaching the lost, but help me to be actively involved with You in this work. Your Word clearly says that some plant, some water, but it is You that gives the increase. Be please to give the increase with what has been planted and watered in Jesus’ Name.

THE ECONOMIC ENSLAVING OF FUTURE GENERATIONS THROUGH IRRESPONSIBLE SPENDING

Our ancestors sinned and are no more, and we bear their punishment. —Lamentations 5:7

Does our generation largely have the attitude that it is OK to economically enslave the future generations with our irresponsible spending? That was the mindset of King Hezekiah. He thought it was OK that hard times would be on the future generation as long as peace and security existed in his life-time. “Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord Almighty: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” “The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime” (Isaiah 39:5-8). What a selfish attitude, but is our attitude toward the future generations any better?

The sins of one generation surely have an impact on the next and that next generation has to bear the burden of the previously unfaithful generation. Let us not kid ourselves, WE ARE ECONOMICALLY ENSLAVING FUTURE GENERATIONS WITH OUR IRRESPONSIBLE SPENDING! God’s Word tells us that “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). This one verse reveals two important principles. First, the rich rule over the poor. Those who are wealthy and ungodly have a desire to control people. So is the case with many politicians in the United States and other places. They are wealthy and they stay in office, many for life, to use their wealth and positions to gain authority over the poor. Second, they presently are enslaving the future generations economically by their manipulation of the economy. They are spending us into oblivion and that will impact the middle class and below much sooner that it will the wealthy.

What economic future is there for our children and their children and the ones that follow them? The U.S. debt is presently over $17 ½ trillion dollars and the CBO just projected an almost 1 trillion dollar increase each year over the next 10 years! The debt goes up tens of thousands of dollars by the second and the present U.S. total debt is over 61 ½ trillion dollars (61,542,000,000,000). NOW IS THE TIME TO REVERSE THE DEBT—NOW! LET US NOT ECONOMICALLY ENSLAVE FUTURE GENERATIONS!

Dear Father, please help our leaders to do the right thing. We are an unhealthy nation and our finances surely prove this out. Oh, that You would extend Your mercy and grace to us and revive us as a nation. Thy will be done in Jesus’ Name.

CHECK YOUR COMPASS

My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray… —Jeremiah 50:6

Unfortunately they were not reading the compass correctly and were leading the whole group in the wrong direction. Fortunately they caught their mistake and headed in the right direction to find the next point in the compass course. They found the next point and finished the course, but they lost time with their error.

In Jeremiah’s day the shepherds were leading God’s people astray and the people were like lost sheep. Some things do not change. In our day, in America, there are shepherds that are leading people astray. They call themselves “spiritual leaders” but they are not leading people toward God and His ways. Instead, they are leading people astray. These shepherds do not go by God’s Word and speak contrary to God’s Word. They support and encourage wickedness among the people, teaching things that God hates and they teach saying, “It is the loving thing to do.”

It is said that bank tellers and others who handle money study the real currency so they can easily detect counterfeits. Oh, that we would know God and His Word so we can detect those who are seeking to lead people astray and warn others of them. Beware of spiritual counterfeiters! Read God’s Word for yourself and then you can identify those shepherds that seek to lead others astray. If you are not regularly listening to God through His Word, then you are in danger of being led astray!

Dear Father, please help me to stick to what You have to say and to be sensitive to those who would seek to lead me and others astray. May this be so in the authority of Jesus and by the Holy Spirit’s power.

DESIGNED!

Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun. You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter. —Psalm 74:16-17

Give me evidence that car was created. Give me evidence that house was created. Give me evidence that boat, train, chair, brick, computer, glass, phone, copier, clock was created and had a creator. Give me evidence or I will not believe it had a creator. No, these things just evolved all by themselves and came into being.

Yet so many say that trees in their variety, flowers in great assortments , birds of numerous array, animals of all sorts and fish of all kinds came into being all by themselves through time and change and that there is no evidence for design or a designer. To say there was no design or designer about objects that man has made and sincerely believe it would be cause to put a person in a straight jacket. But, to say there is design and a Designer for every living creature, the sun, moon, planets, stars, all we see and don’t see would sound so ludicrous to multitudes.

We see what man can design and create and it is amazing. Yet so many miss the simple truth that man’s creative ability comes by design as well and that it was the Designer who gave it. Yet, it is the Lord God Almighty who rules over the day and the night, placed every planet in star in their positions and created all life. He made the seasons and created the boundaries of the earth. He even designed the time and place that each of us would live (Act 17:26).

Listen if God did not exist then who decides what is good and evil, right and wrong? If God was not the overall determiner of things, then that would make me a free agent to do whatever I wanted to do. Even those who do not believe in God should be thankful that this is not the case, because if He truly did not exist then this planet would be in utter chaos. What do I mean? Everybody would be doing what was right in their own eyes. They would be doing what they felt like doing. Why? Who needs to follow laws, because if it was only man who made laws then what man is better me and why do I have to follow someone else’s laws? Someone would say that man made the law to be civilized. If God does not exist, why do I have to be civilized, for what purpose? No, people should be thankful because if God did not exist then there would not be a restraint on what people would do.

Some people ask, “If God did exist why is there so much evil in the world?” But that is the wrong question. Ask this one instead. “If God did not exist how much evil would be in the world?” If God did not exist then it surely would be “survival of the fittest.”

Just take a look at the United States. Freedom exists when fair and just laws are enforced. But when the laws are not enforced freedom is in danger and wickedness increases as lawlessness abounds.

There is a Designer and whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or not, we will pass through His “quality control.” Only those who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ will pass that test. May you pass that test. If not, trust Jesus today!

Dear Father, I am grateful to know that all things came into being by Your hand and that man’s ability to create is because he was created after Your image and has that quality. Oh, that many would see Your design in everything around them and not be blind to it.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT…

(They) will know whose word will stand—mine or theirs. —Jeremiah 44:28

I don’t believe what the Bible says! There is no heaven or hell and when we die that is it. There is no existence after this body dies. Jesus did not die for man’s sin and there is not judgment of man after death. There is no such thing as sin. Some man made all this up and made up the Bible as well.

Are you really that sure? Are you going to put your eternal destiny on the line with those statements? Be very sure that one day you will know, but if you adhere to the ideas above, it will be too late to change your mind once death arrives. That is something you can believe in— you will die one day!

Have you read God’s Word, studied God’s Word and not just listen to what somebody negatively says about it? Do you just repeat negative statements that others have made about the Bible or have you truly, honestly and sincerely studied God’s Word and still came to the opening conclusions? I would suggest that anyone who truly wants to know the Truth and reads and studies the Bible for themselves will conclude that this is indeed God’s Word. But, there are many who will not take up that challenge because they want to live according to their own word and not according to God’s Word.

Be sure of this, you will know whose words will stand— God’s Word or your word. Do you really want to risk your eternal destiny with that challenge? I truly hope you do not wait until you die to find out. Oh, that you would come to the conclusion that Jesus is Who God’s Word says He is and that you would truly trust Him as Lord and Savior. May it be so!

Dear Father, thank You that Your Word is fully true and that every Word will come to pass. I am grateful to know I can trust Your Word fully. Oh, dear Father, may many others come to that conclusion as well and trust the Lord Jesus.

PERSECUTED

They were angry with Jeremiah and had him beaten and imprisoned in the house of Jonathan the secretary, which they had made into a prison. —Jeremiah 37:15

Pastor Saeed Abedini is still being held prisoner in and Iranian prison. Twenty-seven year old Meriam Yehya Ibrahim was held in a Sudanese where she gave birth to her second child. What was their crime? They are followers of Jesus and the countries they were in at the time of their arrest were Muslim dominated. There are those in this world who hate the Lord Jesus and those who follow Him, but this is nothing new.

In the verse above the prophet Jeremiah was beaten and thrown in jail. He was falsely accused (Jeremiah 37:11-14). Down through the ages Jewish believers and Christians have been persecuted. This will not change, but eventually will even get worse (Revelation 6:5-11 and Revelation chapter 7). May we truly seek to share the gospel as much as we can and in as many ways as we can while we have the ability to do so openly here in the U.S. May the gospel also go out into difficult areas and may believers be wise in their communication of the gospel in those troubled areas. May it be so!

Dear Father, help me to share the gospel with as many people as I can. Oh, that many would respond and follow You. Thank You for our home in heaven and help us to be faithful in doing Your will until we arrive there. May this be done in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus!

FOOLISHNESS!

Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire. —Jeremiah 36:23

Years ago I read a book about the persecution of Christians in Russia. This guy, Sergei, was enlisted by the KGB to go around to where Christians were meeting, beat them, confiscate the Bibles and Christian literature he found and burn it all. Those ordering him to destroy God’s Word had no problems whatsoever in having him do so. Fortunately, in this case, Sergei came to the Lord after reading some of what he confiscated before burning it. He was eventually killed by Russian operatives after fleeing to the west and speaking out about the persecuted Christians in Russia.

In the above verse, King Jehoiakim had no problem burning the Word of God. As it was read to him he would just throw those portions read into the fire. He would not believe it or pay any attention to it. He did not concern himself with what God had to say.

So it is today. So many people in this world will not listen to or accept the Word of God. Like King Jehoiakim of old, they don’t believe it and will not pay attention to it. Also like King Jehoiakim of old, they will find out one day that what God says will come to pass. Just because someone does not accept the truth of God’s Word does not make His Word untrue. No, it just reveals the person is a fool— at least that is what God says— “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them” (John 14:21).

What would we call a person who intentionally stood in front of an on-coming freight train traveling at high speed saying, “I’m not concerned?” What would we think about a person in a burning house yelling out, “I’m ok, leave me alone?”

Now what about a person who shakes his fist at the Lord God Almighty? A person who curses His Name? An individual that says they don’t need Him? Those who say such things do not understand that something a whole lot worse than a high speed freight train or being in a burning building is coming their way if they do not trust the Lord Jesus Christ! Oh, please, call on the Lord Jesus! He loved you so much that He went to the cross willingly to take the penalty and punishment for your sin so you would not have to. All you have to do is trust the finished work of Jesus and call on His Name to save you. Then… live for Him as He reveals His ways to you in His Word.

If you still are unconcerned about trusting God’s Word, know this, you are going to die one day. That we can agree upon. Then what? If you say that there is nothing after that, what evidence do you have or is that just wishful thinking? You better be absolutely sure! I am. I know where I am going because I have trusted Jesus and there is plenty of evidence for that. Where is your evidence coming from?

Dear Father, if there are any who are reading this today that don’t know You, may they trust You and not “burn Your Word.” Oh, that they would accept the work Jesus has done for them on the cross so they can know You and not be eternally judged on day. May they receive forgiveness of their sins and new life through Jesus today! May it be so!