“But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a Great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and My Name is dreadful among the heathen.” Malachi 1:14 KJV. As God speaks to apostate Israel, He reminds them of their failure to give Him their best. In their backslidden condition they had become accustomed to offering to God animal sacrifices that were broken and lame. This unworthy offering represented their disrespectful attitude towards God. Today, most of our modern religious world has fallen into the same spiritual condition. Because they do not fear God nor love God they try to offer to God things that He will not accept. They offer Him a few minutes of their time and keep the best for themselves. They offer meager offerings when they spend extravagantly on themselves. But we should realize, that our God is a Great King! And because of Who He is He cannot accept a second rate offering. May we have such love and respect for God that we do as the songwriter says: “Give of your best to the Master. Give Him first place in your heart; Give Him first place in your service; Consecrate every part. Give, and to you will be given; God His beloved Son gave…”
“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” Matthew 5:41 KJV. The Roman law under which the Jews lived at that time required them to carry the supplies of a Roman soldier when they were told to do so. This was something they very much despised. So we can imagine how shocked they were when Jesus said to go the extra mile. Only the Lord knows how many times in the early church this was repeated. Some Christian would be told to do this, and rather than complain he gladly complies. And then, as they near the end of the first mile he says with a smile, “I will carry it another mile”. This became a great witnessing opportunity for those believers. And no doubt, some of those hardened soldiers, so surprised by the Christian’s attitude, came to faith in Christ because of their glad obedience. We have many opportunities in our lives to go the extra mile, both in our service to God and to our fellow man. And how could we complain when Jesus went the extra mile for us? May God help us to display this characteristic of genuine love. By God’s grace let us be willing to go the extra mile.
“…My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: and he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.” Isaiah 5:1-2 KJV. In this portion of Scripture we note that the Beloved had prepared all the conditions for his vineyard to yield most successfully during the harvest. He carefully chose the vines, planted them on a fertile hillside, built a tower to watch over it and take care of possible dangers that threatened it, made a wine press to process them; but the grapes turned out wild. Here the problem was not bearing fruit, but that the fruit did not have the expected quality. Sometimes it happens like this in our life. We work, but not with the required effort. We bear fruit, yes, but not excellent fruit, which requires more time and effort. The serious thing is that in the following verses, he explains what the owner did with all the resources he used to take care of his vineyard. He broke down the fence and removed it. The vineyard was trampled. It was left in total neglect, at the mercy of whoever wanted to damage it. Let us reconsider and value the resources that the Father has placed in us to bear fruit. May our fruit be what the Beloved expects!
“And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all His miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us…” Judges 6:13 KJV. After Israel had cried out to God for help, God sends an angel to Gideon. He tells him, “The Lord is with you”. But then, like so many today, Gideon struggles to see how this could be true with all of the troubles that have come on them. This was an error in Gideon’s thinking even as it is with most people today. Even though Gideon’s people had forsaken God, yet God had not forsaken them. We should all grasp this simple but profound truth, GOD IS WITH ME. No matter how difficult the circumstances around me, GOD IS WITH ME. On the dark and cloudy days, GOD IS WITH ME. When my heart is broken, GOD IS WITH ME. He is not with me because of how things are going. He is with me because He promised He would be. He is with me because, even when I forget, He knows that I need Him. When we obey, He is with us for fellowship and friendship. But even when we go astray, He is still with us. Only then, He is with us for correction. Let us walk as those who know, ‘Surely the Lord is with me’.
“He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them who hated me; for they were too strong for me.” II Sam. 22:17-18 KJV. There are times in our lives when we face strong opposition and spiritual enemies that war against our souls. We realize that we cannot overcome them in our own strength or wisdom. But what a blessing it is to know that our Father in Heaven will send all the help we need! Biblical and church history prove that God will move Heaven and earth to help His children! When the enemy comes in like a flood, our God will lift us above the waters. When we can find no help around us, He will send Divine reinforcements to secure us! Even when they are too strong for us, they are no match for our Mighty God. Thank God He still delivers His children! Let us humble ourselves and acknowledge, that the battle is too great for us. And then let us thank and praise God, that our victory is in Him. What a Mighty God we serve!
“(You) who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:5 KJV. In this world there are many sources of power that people look to thinking it will keep them safe or secure. Some look to the power of earthly governments. Others trust the power of science and technology. But what a difference for the child of God who truly comes to understand that we are kept only by the power of God! One of the most difficult and important lessons for believers to learn is that we are not able to keep ourselves. There is no amount of human strength or determination that can keep our souls safe and secure. But when we quit leaning on the arm of flesh and begin to trust in God’s keeping power, then we will experience spiritual victory as God intends. Too many today are trusting in the wrong things to keep them. But may God help us to realize, that there is nothing that is able to keep us except the divine power of the Living God! Many years ago, Barney Warren wrote a song about this. One verse says, “We are kept by the power of God through faith, so long as we walk in the light; Our Helper is Jesus Who faithfully saith, “I’m with you by day and by night.” (Chorus) …By trusting, obeying, By watching and praying, We are kept by the power of God.”
“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,” Jude 1:24 KJV. What a joy it is to know that our God has the power to keep us from falling. He is well able to keep us from falling prey to the devices of the enemy. He is able to keep us from falling when trouble and sorrow threatens to overwhelm our souls. And thank God, He is able to keep us from falling into sin! Too many times when this issue is addressed people complain about our weakness instead of looking to God’s mighty power. But we should rejoice, that as weak and prone to sin as we are, God still has the power to hold us up and keep our lives clean and pure IF we are willing to let Him have His way in us. So the question is not what we think about our ability. It not about our weakness or the wretched condition of the world. The question we each must answer is: “Do I believe God is able to keep me, with all of my weakness, from falling? Do I believe God has the power to keep me clean in the midst of a dirty, sin defiled world?” By God’s grace, let us believe that He is able! It is as the song says, “He’s able, He’s able, I know He’s able. I know my Lord is able to carry me through.”
“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…” Deuteronomy 33:27 KJV. As God’s children we rejoice in the truth of Jesus Christ as our Refuge. We all need a place of security and rest where our souls can find peace. We all need a hiding place from the storms of this cruel world. But there are more difficult times in life, when we recognize our need of more than just a hiding place. In these times we need someone to place His arms under us and carry us because we don’t have the strength to go on. We need someone to hold us up and give comfort to our weary souls. But here we also see our Blessed Saviour as the One we need. God’s Word reveals Jesus as our Great Shepherd Who seeks out the struggling sheep. He is the One Who takes us in His strong arms and carries us when we have no strength to continue. He is the One Who holds us and draws us close to His loving heart. How blessed we are that our Shepherd has a tender and merciful heart towards His struggling sheep. But sometimes it is not easy for us to admit our desperate need. By God’s grace, let us humble ourselves and cry out to our Great Shepherd. Then we will feel the warm embrace of His everlasting arms. And with His strong arms holding us, we know we can make it.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear…” Psalms 46:1-2 KJV. We should realize when we read these familiar words, that they are not simply nice words of comfort. Rather, these are eternal truths we can rest our troubled souls on! And for the true believer, they speak of a real and personal experience with a very real God. We do not overcome fear by nice religious thoughts. Rather, we overcome fear only as we find personal refuge in the Living God! We are delivered from fear when we come into this relationship where we discover Jesus Christ as our only Refuge and our only source of strength. One of the problems with so much fear in our world is, that people are trying to find refuge in things that are failing and unstable. Things like science, medicine, money or governments of men. They try to find strength in the arm of flesh. But when we look to these things, what else could we do except fear? Because none of these things are reliable! None are sufficient! None are what we need. But thank God, we have a Refuge that is secure and unfailing! We have a Strength that is greater than anything we can ever face. We have Jesus to help us in every way we need.
“Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me. Hear me, O Lord; for Thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies.” Psalms 69:15-16 KJV. David was expressing here an experience that is common to all people. He was facing a very difficult situation where it seemed the enemy has come against him like a flood. He feels as if the depths of sorrow will swallow him up. He senses that miry pit of despair trying to draw him back into it’s trap. But the good news is, he knows where to look for help! Remembering God’s goodness and mercy, He calls upon the Lord to hear his humble cry and turn to him with the help he so desperately needed. Today as we face the trials and troubles of our lives, let us always remember where to turn and Who is able to help us! Let us cry out to Jesus our merciful High Priest, Whose heart is always turned to His children. Let us cast ourselves upon the goodness and mercies of God and we will make it through. And then, may we be faithful to praise God for all of His goodness and mercies to us.