Thursday, April 24, 2014

CONSIDER

Suggested Reading: Haggai 1-2

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Seen on the right of the photo is the Tomb of Zechariah. It is located on the foothills of the Mount of Olives facing the Temple Mount. It is cut into the rock and made entirely from that rock. Tomorrow, God willing, we begin our readings in the book of Zechariah. Haggai and Zechariah ministered in Jerusalem as a dynamic duo following the first return of the Jews from Babylon. These two prophets had the assignment of urging the people to complete the rebuilding of the Temple.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Haggai 1:5, 7, 2:7a

Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!…” Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!…and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,” says the Lord of hosts.

 

Haggai was probably one of the older generation who remembered what the Temple of Solomon had looked like. They started construction of a new Temple with great enthusiasm (read Ezra 3:10-13). But the people who had not been to Babylon harassed and discouraged the project. Construction was halted as a result, but Haggai and Zechariah did their job and the Temple was finally completed (read Ezra 4:24-5:2).

The word “consider” is repeated by Haggai five times. Daily through this blog we “consider,” “think about,” “contemplate,” “examine,” “review,” “ponder,” “evaluate,” “assess,” etc. Haggai tells his people and us, “Consider your ways!” As a result of Haggai’s preaching, “The Lord stirred up the spirit” of both the governor and the high priest and resumed building the Temple (Haggai 1:14). Consider Haggai 2:5-7. King Herod, 500 years later, enlarged their Temple, and when Jesus entered that Temple, the “desire of all nations” was present (Haggai 2:7). The ultimate fulfillment of Haggai’s prophecy will be at Jesus’ return to Jerusalem, as predicted by the angels and recorded in Acts 1:6-11.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, through this blog and through the preaching of my pastor, I pray that my spirit will be stirred up so that I may be motivated again to work tirelessly for You, working with Jesus Who said, “I will build My Church,” in Whose Name I pray. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I’ve just found in my home library book #8 in the series, “Day unto Day,” by Jim and Cathy Cantelon (New Testament commentaries), and Nizar and Ellen Shaheen (Old Testament commentaries). There are eleven paragraphs on Haggai, chapters 1 & 2. Here’s just one paragraph from my son-in-law Nizar and my daughter Ellen:

“Even before they had received the official notification (the decree of Persian Emperor Cyrus which had earlier permitted the construction of a new Temple), the Lord had stirred up the people because of the exhortation of Haggai (along with that of Zechariah), and they resumed the building of the Temple; it had been lying unfinished for about 16 years. In his exhortation, Haggai told them the reason they had not experienced the blessing of God upon their fields and finances. They had put their own interests ahead of the interests of God. God desired them to build His Temple and thereby bring glory to Him (1:8). By leaving His dwelling in ruins, they were not honouring God. When believers today do not work to build up the Kingdom of God by pointing the lost to Jesus, and when they do not support or participate in the work of the Lord (the local church and other outreach ministries), then this also does not bring glory to God. Our faithful service to Him and fulfilling His desires should be our primary concern. Many people today are guilty of the same thing for which Haggai rebuked the people of Jerusalem in his day. There was nothing wrong with working hard in their fields or building fine homes; what was wrong was that they did these things while neglecting their duty to the Lord. Their priorities were out of order, and thus the Lord’s displeasure was upon them. For this reason they had not been blessed in their work or income.”

Yours for faithfully keeping the Lord our top priority and experiencing His blessings,

David

P.S. The Day Unto Day series consisted of eight books published over two years. Although it has been out of print for over 20 years, when you do a Google search, it’s amazing how many copies are still floating around for sale. For example, here is one, here is another, and here is yet another.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

“HE NEVER FAILS!”

Suggested Reading: Zephaniah 3

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

On the right of the photograph you can see the southwest corner of the Temple Mount area. The broken foundations of the walls were built thousands of years before modern Jerusalem's walls. Seen in the middle of the photo are new buildings in modern Jerusalem built with the same kind of stone that was used by builders down through the ages. The people who live in these buildings want to be near the Temple area where they "call on the Name of the Lord" with "a pure language." Hebrew has been restored as the language of modern Israel (Zephaniah 3:9a).

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Zephaniah 3:17

The Lord your God in your midst,

The Mighty One, will save;

He will rejoice over you with gladness,

He will quiet you with His love,

He will rejoice over you with singing.

 

Today’s reading begins with a description of the condition of Jerusalem’s leaders at that time. There are corrupt princes, judges, prophets and priests (Zephaniah 3:3) who are in place. But this will not last! Zephaniah is coming on strongly! Daniel and other godly young men are about to come on the scene to shepherd God’s people under the coming Babylonian rule. Zephaniah is optimistic about the future. God gives him prophecies that are full of promises of God’s favour. Our key verse is filled with hope! Someone has said, “The future is as bright as the promises of God!” As the above photograph shows, Jerusalem as a city has been restored. And the spiritual “City of God” described by Zephaniah is under construction by the Spirit of God. Jerusalem is the only city for which the Bible asks readers to pray. Let’s do this today! Let’s all read Psalm 122.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Yes Lord, I am praying for Jerusalem. I sing with You! I am glad and rejoice with You! (Zephaniah 3:14). I have seen the fulfillment of Your promise, O Lord,  to bring the Jewish people back to Israel. Now, Lord, I pray for a mighty spiritual revival where Your Messiah, Jesus, will be Lord and Saviour for the majority! In His Name I pray. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS: actually about 300 words. sorry about that.

I understand that by about 65 A.D. close to a majority of the people of Jerusalem believed that Jesus of Nazareth was Messiah. But then, because of persecution by the Roman appointed High Priest, the actions of those who wanted to overthrow Roman rule, and the cruel response of the Roman authorities, thousands of Jewish Christians left Jerusalem and settled elsewhere. Jerusalem and the Temple suffered destruction in 70 A.D. Eventually, the Romans would not allow Jews or Christians (who were mostly Jews) to live in Jerusalem, and so it became a totally pagan city for at least 150 years. Jews and Christians trickled back there around the year 320 A.D., after Constantine became Emperor of Rome.

I must comment on God’s promise of Zephaniah 3:9, “I will restore to the people a pure language.” In 1979 Crossroads produced a movie called “Apples of Gold.” In that movie our film crew interviewed an elderly lady who was the daughter of Eleazer Ben Jehuda. She told how her father was awakened in the middle of the night and heard a voice saying to him, “You are called to revive the Hebrew language as the everyday language of the people who will come to live in a future state called Israel.” That is exactly what has happened! Today even the menus in the Jerusalem restaurants are in Hebrew. A language that had been dead since the Babylonian captivity has been revived. To my knowledge this has never happened before to any people. I think we can assume that the other promises given by God through Zephaniah will also be fulfilled!!! There are now dozens of Jewish Christian congregations throughout Israel that conduct their services in Hebrew. Zephaniah wrote of God, “He never fails!” (3:5) and God said, “Therefore, wait for Me!” (3:8a).

Yours because “He never fails!”

David

P.S. I couldn’t help but begin singing the song, “God can do anything but fail” (click here for the Charlotte Mass Choir with soloist Albertina Walker).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

SEEK THE LORD

Suggested Reading: Zephaniah 2

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Today, 3,000 years after David fought Goliath in this valley, Israeli famers plant crops here to feed their people. In ancient times Israel lived in the mountainous regions and the Philistines on the more productive farmland all the way to the sea coast. Today's reading informs us of God's future judgment on the Philistines and other nations which surrounded Israel.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Zephaniah 2:3, 10

Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth,

Who have upheld His justice.

Seek righteousness, seek humility.

It may be that you will be hidden

In the day of the Lord’s anger.

…This shall they have for their pride,

Because they have reproached and made arrogant threats

Against the people of the Lord of Hosts.

 

“Righteousness,” “humility,” “pride,” and “arrogant threats” are contrasted in today’s reading! As people whose desire it is to be followers of Jesus, the One Who humbled Himself even to death on the cross, we must learn to be humble before God and people. Pride brings trouble! (Proverbs 13:10). Pride hardens hearts! (Daniel 5:20). Pride causes spiritual decay! (Hosea 7:9,10). Pride hinders our progress! (Proverbs 26:12). “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

It seems that those who seek God and humble themselves before Him are in a perpetual minority. We must firmly resist cultural pressures to just go along with the crowd. For those who believe in the cross of Jesus, “the Lord’s fierce anger” (Zephaniah 2:2) has been born by Jesus as our Substitute. But what about those such as the nations around Israel and Judah who chose to remain in pride and arrogance rather than humbling themselves before God. It is a fact that the majority have it wrong. Jesus said that the “many” are headed for “destruction,” and the “few” for “life!” (Matthew 7:13-14).

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I pray for grace to live humbly before You and before people. You have promised that as I do this, You will lift me up. I thank You Jesus that You humbled Yourself even to death on the cross. I pray this in Your Name Jesus. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

Yesterday from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. I had the privilege to visit with Dr. John Hull, Global Chief Executive Officer of the ministry which sponsors this blog, Crossroads Christian Communications Inc (Canada and the USA). I can’t begin to tell you how encouraged I am. As the Founder of this ministry back in 1962, I support John 200%. Norma-Jean and I have increased our monthly giving. John’s vision encompasses the entire globe. He has spiritual depth and a thorough Bible and theological knowledge (he earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from the world’s largest seminary, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (click here). Add to that 13 years of mentoring thousands of leaders around the world, both in the church and in commerce, during his tenure as CEO of “Equip” (click here). Prior to “Equip” he served as the Senior Pastor of “The People’s Church,” Toronto, for 7 years. He was only 35 years old when he was called to serve that great congregation where he demonstrated the Pastor/Teacher/Evangelist ministry gifts to all of Canada by telecasting for an hour every Sunday on the CTV network across Canada and beyond. I think my blog partners can tell I’m excited about the future of Crossroads!!! (click here).

Yours to participate in reaching the world for Christ!!!

David

P.S. I am making a commitment to pray more fervently than ever for John and the Crossroads team. I’m even wearing a T-shirt that proclaims the mission of this ministry (pictures below).

Monday, April 21, 2014

THE DAY

Suggested Reading: Zephaniah 1

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

Orthodox Jews reading the Scriptures and praying at the "Wailing Wall" or Western Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Today's reading, Zephaniah 1, tells us of the day (a period of time) when Jerusalem shall hear "the sound of a mournful cry" and "a wailing!" (Zephaniah 1:10).

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Zephaniah 1:6

Those who have turned back from following the Lord,

And have not sought the Lord, nor inquired of Him.

 

Zephaniah is the great-grandson of King Hezekiah. Hezekiah led in calling the people back to the true God. But his son, King Manasseh, reintroduced the worship of Molech (“Milcom” – 2 Chronicles 33:1-10), and Hezekiah’s grandson, King Ammon, continued the pagan practises (2 Chronicles 33:21-25). Ammon’s son, King Josiah, picked up from His great-grandfather, Hezekiah, and reformation and revival took place (2 Chronicles 34:29-33). So this makes Zephaniah and King Josiah second cousins. No doubt the ministry of Zephaniah was a big factor in the repentance before God, which began six years into Josiah’s reign and continued for about 25 years.

The powerful content of Zephaniah’s preaching and teaching, which helped bring the people back to the true God, is centred on the judgment which Judah will bring on itself if they fail to repent! He uses the word “day” 11 times in this first chapter. The Judgment Day, when God judges the nations around Judah as well as Judah, is coming. Zephaniah, King Josiah, his cousin, and their generation were spared from the “trouble,” the “distress,” the “devastation,” and the “desolation” which would come later, after Josiah’s death, in the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.

Let us NOT “turn back from following the Lord!” Let us NOT turn back from seeking the Lord and inquiring of Him!!! This blog is designed to help us SEEK and INQUIRE!

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I seek You today. Lord Jesus, You said, “Seek and you shall find!” (Matthew 7:7). I pray for persistence and consistency in inquiring of You, learning of You through daily reading Your Word, meditating on Your Word, and praying constantly for grace to apply Your Word to my life. I pray for this with all my heart in the Name of the One Who is in Himself the full expression of what You have to say to Your human family, the Living Word, Jesus Christ! Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

It will be two years on June 3rd, 2014, since I started this daily two-year journey through the written “Word.” On June 3rd, God willing, I plan to continue for another two years, beginning in Matthew’s Gospel, moving to Genesis, Mark, Exodus, and so on. It will continue to be fresh bread every morning with God, the Holy Spirit, as the fire which bakes the bread. I’m up at 4 a.m. like a good baker, mix the ingredients, put them in the oven of prayer, and take the bread out of the oven at 6 a.m. and put it on the shelf (the Internet). I need help to advertise this bakery. There’s nothing like fresh bread to start one’s day. By 7 a.m. the local bakery around the corner opens. I often slip over there for a fresh loaf. About 50 feet away from that warm and inviting place, I can smell the aroma of the fresh bread. I’m using my imagination now and it’s delicious. My imagination will be reality this morning, God willing, in one hour and ten minutes. It’s almost 6 a.m. and time to sign off for now.

Yours for fresh bread every day!!!

David

Sunday, April 20, 2014

SHIGIONOTH

Suggested Reading: Habakkuk 3

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

A majestic Elk stands poised in Banff Alberta. Today's reading tells us of the flock (sheep), the herd (cattle). It speaks of God making our feet like deer's feet so that we can walk on high places in Him like these elk on a plateau in the Rocky Mountains are doing. Let's go for a walk today. It's Resurrection Day. New life is everywhere!

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree may not blossom,

Nor fruit be on the vines;

Though the labor of the olive may fail,

And the fields yield no food;

Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,

And there be no herd in the stalls –

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength;

He will make my feet like deer’s feet,

And He will make me walk on my high hills.

 

“Shigionoth!” (Habakkuk 3:1). No respected scholar that I can find knows what that word means. The stupendous, glorious, magnificent fact of the resurrection of Jesus out from among the dead is truly so beyond our human capacity to express that we may need  words like the Apostle Paul said were the reason why he spoke in tongues more than all the Corinthian believers (1 Corinthians 14:18)… “In the spirit he speaks mysteries” (1 Corinthians 14:2b). In the very next chapter Paul writes in detail about the “Resurrection!” Paul saw the resurrected Jesus! “Last of all He was seen by me also!” (1 Corinthians 15:8a). Today is “Resurrection Sunday.” Let’s take the time to read all 58 verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 15 (click here). Let’s also take time to worship!!!

Our key verses speak of a “Saturday” grave-type experience when nothing seems to be going the way it should, but “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:18). Sunday is here! He is risen!!! Go ahead! Walk on high places! “Joy” is used as a verb here. It’s an action word! Let us express our joy to God and to all we meet today and every day. Amen!!!

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, like the Apostle Paul I find that my mother tongue is unable to fully express what I feel inside. Paul said, “My spirit prays but my understanding in unfruitful. What is the result then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will also sing with the spirit and I will also sing with the understanding!” I pray for Your grace to pray and sing both with my spirit and with my understanding. In the Name of the risen Christ Jesus! Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

Sometimes I start my blog and I really don’t know where I’m going with the thoughts that spill out through my fingers onto my laptop keyboard. This is now 688 days straight that I’ve been doing this without missing even one day. I think that’s a miracle of God’s grace to me. I know that the risen-from-the-dead Jesus is interceding at the throne of God for me according to Hebrews 7:25…”Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since HE EVER LIVES to make intercession for them.” Jesus is praying for me in that great prayer meeting gathered at God’s throne. Amazing!!! True!!! The word “salvation” is found three times in today’s reading. Thank You, Lord Jesus!!!

Last week I met a master mason…not the religious cultic group in which people are called “Masons”…but a man who builds with stone, concrete blocks, plaster, etc. His name is Randy Herring. Through his trade, he and his wife finance, at great personal sacrifice, a mission to needy children and teens in Honduras. Check out the “Kid’s Ark International Youth Camp” online (click here). He showed me pictures of the camp he has built, which has already impacted thousands for Christ. Randy has built for teaching purposes exact replicas of Biblical sites. The campers are there, so to speak, in the Holy Land, experiencing the places where Bible events occurred. Here is a link to some of the amazing visual aids created by Randy for the children of Honduras. This master mason has created his replicas in exact detail, even to the cracks in the stones as seen in Jerusalem at the Garden Tomb. Just imagine the powerful impact of the Gospel message at this camp! I know that Randy could use the help of others. Let’s pray and ask the Lord how to help him by volunteering on a missions trip or by giving out of our resources as he and his wife give out of theirs.

Yours for knowing Him and “The power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10),

David

Saturday, April 19, 2014

ONE WHO EMBRACES

Suggested Reading: Habakkuk 1-2

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Seleucia was the seaport from which Paul and Barnabas left with John Mark for their first missionary journey (approx. AD 49, see Acts 13:4). Part of the ancient (man-made) harbour can still be seen. In AD 70 it became the base for the imperial Roman fleet. In the light of our key verse, imagine the military and merchant navies sailing over the vast seas. The breadth and depth of the seas are symbols of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord which is predicted for a future time by Habakkuk (Habakkuk 2:14).

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Habakkuk 2:4, 14

Behold the proud,

His soul is not upright in him;

But the just shall live by his faith.

…For the earth will be filled

With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,

As the waters cover the sea.

 

“Habakkuk” means “One who embraces.” This prophet, motivated by love, embraced his people by warnings of imminent attack by the Chaldeans (Babylonians/modern Iraq) and by God’s mercy and restoration at a later time. He reminds Jerusalem that God is “from everlasting,” and that He is “The Holy One,” Who is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness.” When Jesus bore the sins of the world in His embrace He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Could Habakkuk 1:13a be the reason that Jesus was forsaken? Think about it!

The Lord gives His answer in chapter 2. We are thrust forward to future times when God’s message will be common knowledge, written on “billboards,” as one translation of Habakkuk 2:2 puts it. Would you believe television or even a blog? The 16th century priest, monk, teacher, and pastor, Martin Luther, staked his life on the words of Habakkuk 2:4b, words which are quoted in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38, “The just shall live by his faith.” For more of Luther’s story click here. A special person in my life, George Upton, said to me, “Jesus reached out His arms to embrace the whole world, and we nailed His hands to the cross.” Indeed that embrace does encompass the whole world today because of His cross.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, in earth time we’re on Saturday, the day of silence between the death of Jesus and His resurrection. Your disciples, Lord Jesus, were puzzled and no doubt filled with fear as they tried to piece together what they knew about the Messiah from their Hebrew Bibles (read Isaiah 53). I pray for the discipline to spend time today thinking about these things. I have such an advantage over Peter and the others, because I know the third day’s events. I’m filled with wonder, love and worship for Your amazing grace revealed in the Gospels, which the Apostles were yet to write. Amen! Amen! Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

My Son David Reynold, our photographer, and his wife Kathy call their ministry, “World Embrace” (WE). Please pray for them as they embrace the people of Uganda (click here for a prayer focus).

I’m overcome with emotion just now, and I must pull myself back to loving God with my mind, and not just my heart, in order to complete the blog. It occurs to me that discoveries of natural laws, which God built into the cosmos, would revolutionize our ability to communicate God’s truth (all truth is God’s truth). Here I am typing on a laptop computer and posting what is written at the speed of light around the world. Luther wrote out his thesis on paper and nailed it on the outside of the door of the church where he was Pastor, so that people, who would not come to hear him preach, could read it. I’m nailing this to a satellite 22,500 miles above earth, and “the earth” is “filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). Of course, just as Luther’s words were not read by all, so not all will read my words here. Nevertheless, the potential is there for wide, in-depth coverage (like the sea). During the second world war years, 1939-1945, I travelled to church each Sunday in the same way that Habakkuk might have travelled, by horse and carriage (buggy). No, we were not Amish. Millions of country people did this.

Yours for putting God’s message to humanity on billboards, on television, on the internet, and also communicating one-to-one God’s love and salvation,

David

P.S. Behind the Crossroads Centre in Burlington are the satellite dishes which, like billboards, make the message plain so that “He may run who reads it” (Habakkuk 2:2). Also Crossroads has used billboards such as the one below on Bloor Street, Toronto.

The view from the top of the Crossroads Centre in Burlington, Ontario. You can see several satellite dishes in the background. This was during the summer of 2012, when we featured a full-sized replica of the Old Testament Tabernacle as part of Crossroads' 50th Anniversary celebrations. My grandson Adam Mainse (Ron & Ann's son) was one of our tour guides.

Another view of a satellite uplink dish from the roof of the Crossroads Centre. The faithful sacrificial prayers and financial support of partners in ministry (you and me) make it possible to send God's Word around the world.

A billboard in downtown Toronto in the late 1970's advertising a new program called "100 Huntley Street."

Friday, April 18, 2014

THE BLOODY CITY

Suggested Reading: Nahum 3

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The Karnak Temple ruins can be seen along the Nile River. A Statue to Ramses II still stands tall in the Egyptian sun. Nahum prophesied that Assyria would receive the same treatment that they had given the ancient Egyptian capital city of No Amon (Thebes). According to Egyptian records, the destruction of Thebes by Assyria took place in 664 B.C. The destruction of Nineveh, Assyria, is dated in 612 B.C. The decision to include Nahum in the Bible, made by the council of Rabbis, was based on the fact of his accurate prediction of future events. It has been calculated that Nahum probably wrote the book named after him in the year 654 B.C., at least 42 years before predicted events took place.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Nahum 3:18

“Your shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria; your nobles rest in the dust. Your people are scattered on the mountains, and no one gathers them.”

 

It is certain that Nahum knew all about the repentance before God of the king, the nobles and the people of Nineveh approximately 65 years before the writing of this book, as a result of the preaching of Jonah (Jonah 3:1-10). Nineveh, over the space of two generations, had degenerated from a God-fearing people to the people Nahum describes, a “bloody city,” “full of lies and robbery,” violence, and sexual seduction. (Nahum 3:1-4). There is sadness in Nahum’s words at the decline of the moral standards of a once upright people. In our key verse, Nahum puts the blame for this turning away from doing what is right in God’s sight directly on the business community (“merchants”), the government (“commanders”, “captains”) and religious leaders (“shepherds”), the leaders of Assyria.

We who live in the developed world have seen a huge change in moral standards over the past 65 years. From the end of the second world war until now, there has been a steady rise in violence on our streets, in our schools and in our homes. The greatest change morally has been the destruction of millions of little lives in what should be the safest place on earth, the wombs of their mothers. This holocaust against these defenceless lives must call out to God for judgment, as did the holocaust against the Jews by the Nazis. Today’s reading should teach us the terrible results when leaders abdicate their responsibility. Eventually “people are scattered”… “injury has no healing”… and the “wound is severe.”

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I repent for not doing all I might have done to help prevent the moral decline that is obvious to anyone who studies the statistics on violence, family breakdown, sexual promiscuity, etc. I pray for grace to take a stand daily for what is right in Your eyes, holding the truth in love, and living my life with integrity. Keep me faithful to You, O Lord, in reading and making part of myself Your Holy Word every day. May I do as the Psalmist wrote, “Your Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You!” (Psalm 119:11). May my reading today be not just in my head, but may it penetrate my innermost being. In the Name of the only sinless human Person, Your divine Son, Jesus, I pray. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

Some scholars believe that Elkosh (Nahum 1:1), the hometown of Nahum, is Capernaum (“Kafer Nahum” – village of Nahum). After Nahum’s accurate prophesies, some say the name of his village was changed to honour him. Capernaum was the town to which Jesus moved after His rejection in Nazareth. It was the home of Matthew, Peter, Andrew, James and John. A New Testament reading today might be Matthew 4:12-17. Here “Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent.’” I think that Nahum would’ve supported Jesus’ message! I’ll try to put below some pictures of the ruins of Capernaum from the time of Jesus.

I have called myself on several occasions “a champion of loosing causes.” The latest being my attempts to influence a majority of Canada’s political leaders to support the traditional and Biblical meaning of the word “Marriage.” I first met the Hon. Jim Flaherty, minister of Finance at both the provincial and federal levels, at one of my speaking engagements for this cause in the city of Oshawa. He assured me of his support.  He was given a state funeral in Toronto this past Wednesday, a well-deserved tribute. We do have leaders in government who do not “slumber”, as Nahum said of the Assyrian shepherds. But there are not enough leaders who are wide awake and who stand up for just causes. While I believe the marriage issue is important, I also believe that the “slaughter of the innocents” in the abortion industry is the greatest evil in our land. We are in this respect a “bloody city” (Nahum 3:1a). Canada has absolutely no protection in law for the little ones in the womb. The final prophesy given by Jesus is worth reading again in this context (read Luke 23:28-31). May God have mercy on us!

Yours for remembering that on Good Friday, Jesus took into Himself the judgement deserved by all the sin mentioned in today’s reading, all the sins mentioned in the entire Bible, and all the sins of the human race, past, present and future. On that day, Jerusalem was truly “The bloody city.”

David

P.S. Jesus prophesied about the town of Nahum, Capernaum, as recorded in Matthew 11:23-30. Capernaum is only a tourist destination today. This once bustling commercial centre is uninhabited today. Here are some pictures which would seem to support Jesus’ prophecy.

The tourist entrance to the ancient ruins of Capernaum ("Kafer Nahum" - village of Nahum).

An ancient millstone among the ruins of Capernaum.

 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

THE LORD IS GOOD

Suggested Reading: Nahum 1-2

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Looking east from the Zion Gate towards the Mount of Olives you can see Jerusalem's City walls. Perhaps Nahum had such walls in mind when he wrote that the Lord is "A stronghold in the day of trouble."

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Nahum 1:7

The Lord is good,

A stronghold in the day of trouble;

And He knows those who trust in Him.

 

Anyone quickly reading today’s chapters may well assume that Nahum is only about judgment. Why? Because the theme is about the destruction of Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian Empire, as a result of the evil of their rule. By consistent reading of the Scriptures, we would not jump to that conclusion; we would remember that 100 years before Nahum’s prophesies, Jonah preached in the streets of Nineveh, the entire city repented, and they were spared from disaster. Nineveh became the mightiest city on earth. In 1842 the city was excavated by archeologists and they found walls 100 feet high and wide enough to allow three chariots to run abreast, as well as a moat 150 feet wide and 60 feet deep. Nahum predicted Nineveh’s destruction by an “overwhelming flood,” and 18 years later the Tigris river flooded, destroying part of the wall. The Babylonians invaded through this breach and Nineveh was destroyed, and its people subjugated.

Ten times in today’s reading the word “Lord” is found. While God is merciful and patient, justice for the nations must prevail sooner or later in time, and it is guaranteed in eternity. In chapter two, notice the word “excellence” repeated twice. God promises “excellence” to His people. Here’s the challenge to find this excellence! Man the fort! Watch the road! Strengthen your flanks! Fortify your power mightily!

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I pray for excellence in all my ways. May I have the determination spiritually that the people of Israel were exhorted to have physically in their restoration. You are Good! You are my Stronghold in my time of trouble! You know me because I trust in You! Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

Here I am, one month past the date when it was predicted I would die of acute MDS leukemia. As I ride my 1996 motorcycle, I feel like a teenager again, filled with energy and positive thoughts for the future. “The Lord is GOOD!” In the days of trouble over the past two years, I would quote that couplet I heard my father say, “Be my symptoms what they will, Jesus is my healer still.” Lately I’ve been sensing that God may be asking me to conduct healing services on Sunday nights during July and August. God has given me, I believe, a gift of faith for the healing of others. Of course, I’m very aware of another saying my dad said, “Man proposes, but God disposes!” God willing, I’ll report here on the blog by the end of May a decision regarding these healing services. Please join me in prayer for God’s direction. I would hope to sing the great hymns of faith that God’s people have sung through the centuries, as well as preach and teach God’s Word about healing and restoration!

Yours for finding the reasons why God has left each one of us here on earth, and fulfilling His purposes!!!

David

P.S. My son Ron showed me on his computer how you can to take each day’s blog photograph locations and get a 360 degree look all around the place where my other son, David Reynold, took the photos. If you haven’t tried it yet, click the “Google Maps” link under the photo and explore the area by dragging and dropping the little yellow man (located on the bottom right of the map). Then you will get the “street view,” and you can look all around by clicking the right or left arrows, which rotate the view.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

CONTEND

Suggested Reading: Jude

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

From En Gedi, Israel, looking north along the shore of the Dead Sea, the waves, heavy with minerals, roll slowly toward the shore. Today's reading tells about people who are like "waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame."

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Jude 24-25

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,

And to present you faultless

Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,

To God our Savior,

Who alone is wise,

Be glory and majesty,

Dominion and power,

Both now and forever.

Amen.

 

This short but powerful letter gives us a huge challenge, as well as great encouragement. After praying that “mercy, peace and love” would be multiplied, Jude then challenges us to “Contend earnestly for the faith!” The word “contend” means “to assert,” “to affirm,” “to grapple with,” and “to go head to head”! Just think! Jude uses that word “contend” again in describing the confrontation of Michael, the Archangel, with Satan! (verse 9). This gives us some idea as to how we are to engage in the battle for Truth! Jude says that we can do this by (1) Building yourselves up, (2) Praying in the Holy Spirit, (3) Keeping yourselves in the love of God, and (4) Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Let’s read two or three times verses 22 & 23 and decide firmly to “contend” with “compassion!” Finally Jude gives us a most beautiful and powerful benediction, our key verse. Amen!!!

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Yes! I pray Jude’s benediction. Lord God, keep me from “stumbling,” and to be filled with  ”exceeding joy!” In the Name of Jesus, “God, our Saviour!” Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

When I was 12 years of age my mother died. I was angry at God but loved my minister Dad who, at that time, had taken on two country churches in the Ottawa Valley. I listened to sermons and knew that he truly practiced what he preached. But it was not until after he had left for his mission to Egypt when I was 15 that I came to “grapple” with whether to believe in God or not. It was when I was 16 that the owner of the Chrysler dealership, where I worked part time, took me on, not just as an employee, but as a lost soul who needed Jesus. Syd Healey truly contended for my salvation by incessantly quoting Scripture, arranging for me to drive his 1952 Chrysler New Yorker to church (what 16-year-old could resist that!), and the result was that I made a lifetime decision to believe in Jesus Christ and follow Him forever.

By the time I was 18, I was a public school teacher in the village of Chalk River, Ontario. I remember clearly struggling with the challenge of conducting myself as a follower of Jesus should. I memorized Jude 24 & 25 and would quote it often. Later in my life as a Pastor, I would often say those words as the benediction at the close of a Sunday service. To this day, those words fill me with joy and confidence!

Yours for the wisdom that comes from “God our Saviour, Who alone is wise!”

David

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

MARVELLOUS THINGS

Suggested Reading: Micah 7

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Once inside The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, you can look to the right and see the entrance to the adjoining building, which is an Armenian monastery. The present leader of the Armenian Church was once the atheist leader of the Young Communists of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. He testifies to an amazing conversion to Christ.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Micah 7:19

He will again have compassion on us,

And will subdue our iniquities.

You will cast all our sins

Into the depths of the sea.

 

Most of Micah’s words tell of the troubles that will come on the world because of sin, personal and collective. The cumulative result of rejecting God is stated in Micah 7:13, “The land shall be desolate because of those who dwell in it, and for the fruit of their deeds.” Man’s efforts at creating a utopian society have ended up in “desolation.” Consider the end results of the world’s mass murderers in the 20th century. The communism of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot, (perhaps 100,000,000 murders) and the national socialists of Hitler (perhaps 20,000,000). The first four were atheists, and Hitler and the leaders around him, who tried to introduce the ancient pagan gods, despised Jesus and the writers of the Bible because they were Jews. Surely these abysmal failures of mere man are cause for despair. But don’t give up! The future is bright because God is not finished with the world yet. Read the last seven verses of Micah again!!! God has done, and will do, “marvellous things!!!

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, who is a God like You…pardoning iniquity, delighting in mercy, and having compassion on us? Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! I’m overwhelmed by You, Lord. I give You my life again for this new day! I pray that I will not dredge up from the depths of the sea my past sins or the sins of others. May I think, speak and act in the truth of Your Word and in mercy which You have sworn to give us “from days of old!” (last four words of Micah). In the Name of the One Whose mercy and truth took Him to the Cross and from the empty tomb, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I was 17 years old when I sang a solo in the Baptist Church of Renfrew, Ontario. I was very nervous, but as I got into it, the truth of which I sang gripped my heart and the fear left. The song’s words were “Down, down, down, down (I sang the words with my voice going lower and lower), down in the depths of the sea. The sins of the past are all gone at last; down in  the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19b). I had given my life to Christ just over a year before, and I realized that when I expressed the Word of God with my voice, I grew in confidence that those Words were true! (I’ve Googled that song and here’s what I found…click here)

Gossips, backbiters, and judgmental people go fishing down there in the “depths of the sea.” Then they put what they find in their “net” on the aptly named “inter-net.” Please, please, don’t even go there into the sludge of these bottom feeders. I’m sure that there are many lies there. Besides, when sin is confessed and forgiven by God, He puts up a sign that says, “No fishing!”

Yours with thankfulness for sins forgiven,

David