Today—The Best Devotions of My Lifetime!

Although personal devotions—time spent with the Lord—may vary day-to-day, month-to-month or even year-to-year, today was one of the very best devotional times of my life! The time was beyond rich. It was pervasive, exhilarating, and intensely joyful, producing waves of tears.

Afterword, I ran six miles to calm down. Following a shower, I’m still riding a spiritual high. Can’t help but share it. Here’s a summary.

The Bible

Like most believers, I begin by reading a chapter in the Bible—typically a chapter a day from Genesis to Revelation and then repeating the cycle. Rather than reading a weak modern devotional, there follows a series of devotional readings by great saints from the past. “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” C.S. Lewis

American Minute

Today’s passage from American Minute was about the Alamo. It took 13 days for 3,000 of Santa Ana’s men to annihilate 189 Texans and Tejanos in the Alamo. Only a mother, her baby, and a servant survived. The deceased heroes included William Travis, Davy Crockett, and Jim Bowie.

During the 13-day siege and massacre, 66 others signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. It proclaimed, “General Antonio Lopez Santa Anna…having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers, as the cruel alternative, either abandon our homes…or submit to the most intolerable of all tyrannyHe denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience.” The deceased heroes were pioneers, but they were pioneers willing to give all for freedom, especially the freedom to worship according to their own conscience.

The Texas Declaration was reminiscent of the American Declaration of Independence, opening with the proclamation, “that all men…are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and ending with the absolute and uncompromising commitment, “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, or fortunes and our sacred honor.”

Many of the American Declaration signers lost one or all three. The commitments to freedom and to God by the fighters at the Alamo and the signers of the American Declaration of Independence were total. Retreat—physical, emotional, or spiritual—was not an option.

The Puritans: Daily Readings

Each month there is a series of readings by a selected author. The February readings are by John Bunyan (known for The Pilgrim’s Progress; 1,300 editions/200 languages). These devotional readings are from Bunyan’s A Treatise of the Fear of God. The first few entries distinguish between ungodly fear and godly fear. Whoever preaches about the fear of God anymore?

Ungodly fear views God as a sort of celestial terrorist, causing people to flee from God. Godly fear, however, is an overwhelming awe, respect, and reverence for the power of God. It is a soul-deep awareness of the enormity of the sinful gap between God and man, leading to a profound desire to obey. Godly fear draws people toward Him.

There flows from godly fear a number of positive—even exciting—things, expressed in this devotional a day at a time. Today’s devotional focuses on Delight in God’s Commands. Rather than summarize, this one is so powerful and exhilarating it is reproduced here in totality:

Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear they name. [Psalm 86.11]

There flows from this godly fear a great delight in the holy commands of god; that is, a delight to be conformable unto them. “Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments” (Ps. 112:1) This confirms that which was said before, namely, that this fear provokes to a holy and reverent use of the means; for that cannot be, when there is not a holy, yea, a great delight in the commandments.

Wherefore this fear makes the sinner to abhor that which is sin, because that is contrary to the object of his delight. A man cannot delight himself at the same time in things directly opposite one to another, as sin and the holy commandments are; therefore Christ says of the servant, he “cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24);

if he cleaves to the one, he must hate and despise the other: there cannot, at the same time, be service to both, because that they are at enmity one with the other: so are sin and the commandments; therefore, if a man delights himself in the commandments, he hates that which is opposite, which is sin; how much more when he greatly delights in the commandments!

Now, this holy fear of God takes the heart and affections from sin, and sets them upon the holy commandments: therefore such a man is rightly esteemed blessed. For no profession makes a man blessed, but that which is accompanied with an alienation of the heart from sin; nor does any thing do that when this holy fear is wanting.

It is from this fear, then, that love to and delight in the holy commandments flow; and so by that the sinner is kept from those falls and dangers of miscarrying that other professors are so subject to; he greatly delights in the commandments. [emphases added]

There seems to be little fear of God in today’s preaching. But John Bunyan and numerous others graphically illustrate how the fear of God is a powerful influence on the believer and the believer’s journey to maturity.

George Whitefield: Daily Readings

George Whitefield was one of the best known preachers of The Great Awakening, a spiritual awakening so dramatic, pervasive, and powerful that it provided the spiritual driving force for the American Revolutionary War. This devotional was selected to discover more about the Awakening, its influence on George Whitefield, and the widespread transformation of the pre-revolutionary American people.

In a summary of today’s reading, Whitefield proclaims:

Christians are “the temple of the living God,” of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. They who once held a consultation to create, are all equally concerned in making preparations for, and effectually bringing about the redemption of man. The Father creates, the Son redeems, and the Holy Ghost sanctifies all the elect people of God.

Being loved from eternity, they are effectually called in time, they are chosen out of the world…by a free, voluntary, unconstrained oblation, they devote themselves, spirit, soul, and body, to the entire service of him who has loved and given himself for them…It implies no less than a total renunciation of the world; in short, it turns the Christian’s whole life into one continued sacrifice of love to God, so that, “whether he eats or drinks, he does all to his glory.”

The reading emphasizes the uncompromising totality the commitment that God expects from the believer.

The Imitation of Christ, Thomas â Kempis

Today, this great reformation saint also reinforced the totality of the believer’s commitment:

It is the mark of a perfect man, Lord, never to let his mind relax in attention to heavenly things, and to pass through many cares as though he had none…Let not the world and its brief glory deceive me, nor the devil trip me by his craftiness. Give me,

  • Courage to resist,
  • Patience to endure, and
  • Constancy to persevere.

Give me the soothing unction of Your spirit rather than all the consolations of the world, and in place of carnal love, infuse into me the love of Your name.

Day by Day with Jonathan Edwards

Today, Jonathan Edwards glorifies life in heaven. It is a place of perfect rest, but not a place of inactivity. Here’s a summary:

…But yet the rest of heaven does not consist in idleness, and a cessation of all action, but only a cessation from all the trouble and toil and tediousness of action…Perfection of happiness does not consist in idleness, but on the contrary, if very much consists in action…The angels are blessed spirits, and yet they are exceedingly active in serving God…God himself enjoys infinite happiness and perfect bliss, and yet he is not inactive, but is himself in his own nature a perfect act, and is continually at work in bringing to pass his own purposes and ends…So that they (saints in heaven) enjoy perfect rest yet they are a great deal more active than they were when in this world.

The Valley of Vision

The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. Read one each day they preface my personal prayer time. Today’s Puritan prayer reading focused on the gospel. Here’s the summary:

O Thou Most High,

Creator of the ends of the earth,

Governor of the universe,

Judge of all men,

Head of the church,

Saviour of sinners;

Thy greatness is unsearchable,

Thy goodness is infinite,

Thy compassion is unfailing,

Thy mercies ever new.

We bless thee for the words of salvation.

We are lost: but in it thou has presented to us

A full, free and eternal salvation;

Weak: but here we learn that help is found in One that is mighty,

Poor: but in him we discover unsearchable riches,

Blind: but we find he has treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

We thank thee for thy unspeakable gift.

Thy Son is our only refuge, foundation, hope, confidence…

Let us as Christians fill our various situations in life…

And may every place and company we are in be benefited by us.

After these readings and contemplations, my prayer time was unusually rich. As the Psalmist said, “my cup runneth over.”

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

“The Greatest Destroyer of Peace Today is Abortion…”

mother_teresa“The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself, and if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?

Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion. … Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. … But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers.

Jesus said, ‘Anyone who receives a child in my name, receives me’ … By aborting a child, a couple refuses to receive Jesus. Please don’t kill the child. … Give me the child. I am willing … to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child.

From our children’s home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3,000 children from abortion. … America can become a sign of peace. …

From here, a sign of care for the weakest of the weak – the unborn child – must go out to the world … then really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for.”

Mother Teresa, National Prayer Breakfast, Washington, DC, February 3, 1994

Sing a Little Louder (2)

This blog was first posted about a year ago. The astonishing, shocking, short 14-minute Christian blockbuster movie can be viewed here: https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=robo&p=Sing+a+Little+Louder+movie+trailer#id=4&vid=32a843fdd85f277309e5e1b2aebf5849&action=view or

at Kingdom Works here” https://kingdomworks.com/sing-a-little-louder/

Kingdom Works allows the movie to be shown in your church or synagogue for free.

For convenience, the original blog is provided as follows:

An old man tells a profound story about a childhood experience. As a young boy during World War II, he lived in Nazi-controlled Germany. His family regularly attended a church located along side railroad tracks. Trains regularly passed the church during the church services.

They were long strings of cattle cars painfully overloaded with terrified Jews destined for work camps, concentration camps, and usually death. There was no food, no provisions for personal hygiene, and no considerations for people with special needs. In the heat of summer, the extremely cramped cattle cars became ovens. The stench from accumulating body waste was suffocating.

On at least one occasion, a train stopped outside the church. In the absence of air conditioning, the windows were frequently open. The congregation could hear anguished cries of pain and desperate pleas for help.

The pastor raised his voice so he could be heard above the din. When it was time for the choir to sing, the pastor instructed them to, “Sing a little louder,” to cover the disturbing sounds from outside. The compelling experience seared into the boys mind and changed his life forever. The story has become a book and recently a movie.

          What about today? Are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”

  • 55,000,000 unborn babies have been murdered using increasingly gruesome processes euphemistically called “abortion.” When we hear their cries, are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
  • America’s Judeo-Christian culture is being destroyed by massive government-encouraged immigration that includes the immigration of large numbers of criminals, terrorists, and people adhering to religious beliefs that are hostile to Jews and Christians as well as millions of immigrants too poor and uneducated to support themselves. (Refer to Ann Coulter’s new book, “Adios America.”) Are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
  • Our culture, including a large portion of the body of Judeo-Christian believers is rapidly sinking into a moral abyss. Are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
  • The witness of believers is being crushed by the relentless pressures of political correctness. Are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
  • The public school system has become intellectually inept as well as emotionally and spiritually toxic. (Refer to “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children,” by Samuel Blumenfeld and Alex Newman.) Are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
  • The politicians of both political parties are spending America into irretrievable bankruptcy. Are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
  • The United States Supreme Court appears poised to declare the sin of oxymoronic “same-sex marriage” to be a Constitutional right. Are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
  • The military valiantly protects our freedom from without. But our individual freedom is being lost from within by the feeding frenzy of a rabid, out-of-control government. Freedom is a gift from God, not a grant from government. Are we moving to protect that divine gift or are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”
  • Large numbers of believers around the world, especially in the Middle East are being tortured, shot, hanged, burned alive, or beheaded, because they refuse to renounce their Messiah. Are we being told to “Sing a little louder?”

Who among the clergy or laity has the courage to stand up and demand that we sing a new song? No—not the one we will sing in glory, but the new song for today that actively confronts the exponentially increasing evils of 21st Century America.

What would the Apostles Paul, Peter, and John say if they were with us today?

The movie, Sing a Little Louder, is now available for viewing in places of worship. Find it at http://singloudermovie.com/

What will YOU do?

Fall of Roman Empire Mirrors America Today!

Colosseum in Rome

When many of us were in school, we were taught that the Roman Empire fell, because it was overrun by barbarians from the north. Partly right, but only partly. Consider the constellation of conditions that existed at the time. Compare them with America today. The resemblance is inescapable and alarming:

  • Rome was overrun by illegal immigrants, initially assimilating, but later failing to learn the Roman language (Latin). Sound familiar today?
  • Roman military was widely dispersed throughout the known world and greatly strained. America today?
  • Rome had a trade deficit rooted in outsourcing grain production to North Africa. Rome was unable to protect the area from capture. Contrary to today’s media reports, corporate outsourcing is more a result of government actions than so called corporate “greed.”
  • Attila the Hun committed terrorist attacks. Today’s Global Terrorism Database provides information on 150,000 terrorist attacks
  • Roman welfare gave free bread to citizens. Juvenal (circa A.D. 100) said the Roman politicians pacified the citizens and bought their vote with “bread and circuses.” A contemporary quote proclaimed, “Those who live at the expense of the public funds are more numerous than those who provide them.” Today, people working for the government outnumber those in manufacturing by nearly 2:1. Nearly 100,000,000 people are out of work. Only those still collecting unemployment compensation show up in the unemployment statistics.
  • Citizens feared Roman tax collectors who were, “more terrible than the enemy.” Sound like the IRS?
  • Huge government bureaucracies created monstrous debt. Self-evident today.
  • Court favoritism was common. Self-evident today.
  • Infidelity and sexual immorality became normal. Political correctness says every behavior should be “tolerated.”
  • Perverted bathhouses Transgender restrooms and locker rooms anyone?
  • Gratuitous violence, as in gladiator fights, became common. The Roman violence was real. Today, the violence in video games, television, and the movies is so lifelike, they trigger brain responses very similar to real violence, thus numbing the public to violence that should be repulsive.

Do we ever learn from history? Should we learn from history? What are the risks of not learning from history?

The conditions listed above contributed greatly to the breakdown of the family. No civilization has ever survived the breakdown of the family.

Living for self (Humanism, liberalism, progressivism, Marxism, etc.) always leads to the decline of civilizations and ultimate ruin. Living for others (Judeo-Christian tradition, religious and political conservatism) creates a stable culture that can be passed on to subsequent generations. What are YOU willing to do to save America?

What does it take to wake-up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake-up the clergy?

The Family is God’s First and Most Important Support Group!

Families

It’s been trendy, among churches, in the last two or three decades to create all manner of support groups. There are support groups for people dealing with alcohol addiction; drug addiction; divorce; mentally or physically disabled children; and older people, with various forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other chronic illnesses (caregiver support groups).

However, God created the first and by far the most important support group. It’s called the family. Tragically, as Judeo-Christian believers, we have become professionals as slicing and dicing the family in every imaginable way. Walk into virtually any church and find the family shot gunned into widely dispersed groups based on gender, age, marital status or educational level. Each group is tightly proscribed, narrowly limited, and quickly becomes isolated, especially from the family.

The same situation exists whether the church is traditional (Sunday School) or contemporary (home-base groups). The contemporary church simply scatters the traditional Sunday School around the neighborhood, scattering the family as in the traditional church. The increasingly popular home based groups in some cases exert even more pressure on the family, because they are scheduled at different times and places, during the week.

The result is that the family is forcefully splintered at the very place where they should be reinforced as well as worshiping and learning together. Family members lose a sense of the panorama of time and how they fit into that panorama.

Of course, God views the entire panorama of time from the Garden of Eden to the return of the Messiah. Even with our human limitations, it is extremely important that we understand our debt to the 3-4 generations of ancestors who preceded us and our duty to the 3-4 generations of descendants who follow us.

The usual rationale for slicing and dicing the family at church is that each family member is at a different place in life and has different needs. Balderdash! Every family member has exactly the same need to learn that “God is love” and that His love is manifested through us as humility, forgiveness, mercifulness, longsuffering, and a servant’s spirit. Collectively, they represent the character of God and the lifelong journey to grow in them. Those are lessons the entire family can learn together. Each family member helps the others learn those lessons daily.

 

In modern America, the family is being blown apart. The modern church is structured in a way that facilitates the breakdown of the family. No statistics are necessary. It is self-evident that the family is breaking down among the bodies of believers nearly as fast as it is breaking down in the background secular culture.

The church, whether traditional or contemporary must be restructured to strongly reinforce and build up the family, rather than tearing it apart. Families must meet together, worship together, and learn together as they have for millennia. The devastating slicing and dicing of the family has only been part of the church structure for the last 100 to 150 years.

The family is God’s only support group. It is far more powerful than any other. There are major limitations created by the collapsing American culture. Generations are often separated by long distances. People find themselves single following a divorce that was not of their own choosing. There is also enormous cultural pressure to satisfy self, rather than serve others.

Here is a Biblical remedy. Consider forming numerous family support groups, where groups of families can reinforce each others experiences and learn about high risk activities and how to help family members who fall prey to those risks before the crisis occurs. Thus armed, a family, demonstrating a servant’s spirit, may want to consider informally “adopting” someone in crisis as a means of helping that person. Similarly, when generations are separated by long distances, a family may choose to adopt an older or younger generation family locally.

There is still a place for some of those support groups mentioned in the opening paragraph, but only for those people who don’t have the support of an immediate family.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

Urgent Message to Pastors!

During the run-up to the American Revolution, the pulpits of America were aflame with righteousness. In contrast, it is not necessary to characterize today’s cultural chaos. Instead,

 shane-idleman

Consider carefully this word to pastors from Shane Idleman, nationally known pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship, in Lancaster, CA.

One of my great concerns is for the pulpits of America. Many are exchanging truth for tolerance, boldness for balance, and conviction for cowardliness…they are not aflame with righteousness. We don’t want to offend; we might lose our audience. We are not to seek the applause of men but the applause of God.

The pulpit regulates the spiritual condition of God’s people which affects the nation. A lukewarm, sex-saturated culture (and church) simply reflects the lack of conviction in the pulpit as well as the pew. Pastors, we are not just cheerleaders, we are game changers. We are called to stir and to convict so that change takes place.

Granted, there are many wonderful pastors and churches—I appreciate their ministry, but, as a whole, the church has drifted off course. They have lost the compass of truth.

As the moral and cultural war rages between our shores, the need to be awakened from our spiritual slumber has never been greater. “Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is tested” (Martin Luther). This battle is for the very soul of our nation. It’s our choice—stand or fall.

But there is hope for those who are teachable and humble. The journey with God begins with the first step in the right direction. Simply say, “Lord, I’ve been wrong…remove my carnality, crush my pride, draw me closer to You. I repent of my sin and I turn completely and unconditionally to you. You are my only hope. God help me!”

http://westsidechristianfellowship.org/articles/3-15-14-an-indictment-against-america-pastor-shane-idleman/

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

Five Frightening Election Words!

donald trump

Here are five frightening words for all voters who backed losing candidates in the Republican primaries and who are threatening to sit out the November election because they don’t like Donald Trump:

Supreme Court Justice Barack Obama.

The choice in November is clear – it will be either Donald Trump or

Hillary Clinton, and a no-vote or a third party vote is the same as a vote for Hillary Clinton.

If Hillary Clinton, arguably the most dishonest and corrupt person ever to run for President of the United States, wins, she likely will name President Obama to the Supreme Court for several very good reasons:

  1. he has covered her backside, no easy task that, in the email server scandals and now wants payback;
  2. he claims credentials as a Constitutional lawyer;
  3. he is buying a mansion in Washington D.C. and has made no secret of his desire to stay in the capitol; and
  4. he could complete his “fundamental transformation”  of our Republic during a lifetime on the Supreme Court.

If that’s not enough to scare everyone into voting, I don’t know what will.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?