The Urgent Prayer


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 15, 16; Psalm 70; Revelation 6

Today’s Key Passage – Psalm 70

 

If you are anything like me, you probably have a few different types of prayers in your arsenal.  While the words of the prayers differ depending on the day, you probably have certain times of the day in which you talk with God.  For example, I usually spend time with Him in prayer when I first wake up, before going to bed, before each meal, before reading His Word, and before writing one of these messages.  For me, these are the times in which I always pray, and it would feel strange for me to ever miss one of these.  Aside from these prayers, though, there is another type of prayer that is probably familiar to everyone.  We pray these prayers when we get bad news.  We pray these prayers when we start to feel panic.  These are the urgent prayers.

In today’s key passage, we see one of these urgent prayers.  While it is not a long prayer, it is one that cuts to the heart of the matter and expresses David’s need for God’s quick intervention. (Vs. 1)  David asks God to be saved from his enemies (Vs. 2) and from those who might mock him (Vs. 3), referring to God as his help and deliverer. (Vs. 5)  Most of us can probably relate to David’s prayer.  Most of us have probably had those times when we needed God’s immediate help.  Most of us have probably felt that level of panic and fear that David was likely feeling, and have reached out to God to feel His peace.  What is so amazing about David’s prayer is that even in the midst of his distress, he does not forget to give God praise.  Even in the course of begging God for help to save him in a desperate situation, David stops to take the time to worship God for His goodness and His salvation. (Vs. 4)  In our moments of panic, let us all learn from David’s example.  Let us not go to God with our immediate needs, and forget to honor Him with our worship and praise.  Even in the direst of circumstances, we can still find a reason to praise God.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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More Time


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 12-14; Revelation 5

Today’s Key Passage – Ezekiel 12:21-28

 

I am not a morning person.  Each morning, I typically have to set two alarms – one for the time I actually want to get up, and one for fifteen to thirty minutes beforehand to give myself a warning that it is almost time to get up.  No matter what time I set my alarms for at night, when they go off in the morning I always have the same thought as I say to myself, “I thought I had more time.”

The Israelites in today’s key passage also thought they had more time.  The listened to all of the prophets telling them about God’s judgment, and they wrongly assumed that the prophets were talking about events that would happen in the distant future. (Vs. 27)  They even had their own proverb that was popular at the time – “The days go by and every vision comes to nothing.” (Vs. 22)  What they did not realize was that God’s judgment was closer than they thought.  In fact, in less than six years, Jerusalem would be completely destroyed.  They failed to listen to the warnings because they all thought they had more time.

Many people today still react to God’s warnings in the same way as the Israelites.  They know the message of the Bible.  They know that they need to repent of their sins and follow God.  They know they need to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.  The problem is that they believe they have more time.  They think God’s final judgment will happen sometime in the distant future.  In fact, they may be right.  They may live a long life and they may still have plenty of time to turn to Him.  On the other hand, they might be wrong.  We will never know when our time on this earth will be done.  Jesus may come back or He may call us home tomorrow, or we may be here for another 100 years.  Do not fall into the trap of thinking you have more time.  If you have unconfessed sin in your life, repent today.  If you have been waiting to start a personal relationship with Christ, turn to Him today.  If you have been waiting for the right time to reach out to that unbelieving friend in love, do it today.  When the alarm clock of life finally goes off, we do not want to be caught off guard thinking we had more time.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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A Glimpse of Heaven


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 8-11; Revelation 4

Today’s Key Passage – Revelation 4:2-11

 

Recently I was browsing through an airport bookstore while waiting for a flight, when I noticed a large number of books about Heaven.  The spirituality section was littered with books on this topic, including several books from authors claiming to have seen Heaven during a near death experience.  Typically, books like these do really well, often ending up on the New York Times’ bestseller list, because most people are interested in finding out more about the afterlife.  Christians and non-Christians alike buy these books hoping to get a small glimpse into what Heaven might be like.  Fortunately, we do not have to go to these lengths to find out about Heaven, and we do not have to worry about the legitimacy or motives behind the author’s account.  If we truly want a glimpse of Heaven, we need to look no further than today’s key passage.

The apostle John was shown a vision of Heaven, which he relays to us in our reading today.  In his vision, he is taken to the throne room of God where he describes God (Vs. 3), elders (Vs. 4), and living creatures covered with eyes and wings. (Vs. 6)  The living creatures spend day and night continually praising God (Vs.  8), and when they do, the twenty-four elders fall down before the throne of God in worship to Him. (Vss. 9-11)  If you are looking for a glimpse of what Heaven is like, this is it!  It is a place where everyone and everything spends all of their time praising God.  Most of the promises of our new home, like our new bodies that never feel pain or sorrow, are things we will have to wait to receive, but we can begin living today as if we were already there.  We can live every day in the presence of God, and we can continually give, “glory, honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever”. (Vs. 9)

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Defiling the Temple


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 4-7; Revelation 3

Today’s Key Passage – Ezekiel 5:8-17

 

One of the great things about the Bible is that we are able to see the mistakes people have made throughout history.  Hopefully, we are able to learn from these mistakes and avoid repeating them.  For the last several weeks, we have been reading through the prophecy sections of the Old Testament.  It seems like every day, a prophet is denouncing the Jewish people for their sins against God, and today is no different.  In today’s key passage, Ezekiel is speaking out against the people of Jerusalem for their sins, and he focuses on one sin in particular.  The people of Judah were defiling God’s temple by using it to worship other gods.

Before I move on, please understand that God does not really categorize sins.  In God’s eyes, there is no such thing as a “bad” sin or an “acceptable” sin.  In his eyes, all sin is despicable.  With that in mind, I think we can all agree that defiling God’s temple is a pretty bad sin, at least in human terms.  At first glance, it would be like one of us walking into a church today, burning a Bible or a cross, and worshiping some other god.  For most of us, that sounds unthinkable, so our initial impression might be that this particular sin is one that does not really apply to us.  Unfortunately, if we believe that, we are wrong.

The truth is that all of us have defiled God’s temple.  Jerusalem’s sin, which seems so bad to us today, is one that each one of us has committed.  In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, we read, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”  Every time one of us has sin in our hearts, we are in essence defiling God’s temple.  Sadly, most of us commit this atrocity against God daily.  Of course, this is why the Gospel is such good news to us.  Even though we defile God’s temple when we sin, He still loves us.  Even though we commit what sounds like an unthinkable sin, He still forgives us.  He does this not because of anything we have done, but because of His grace if we have faith in His Son Jesus Christ, who took the punishment for our sins on the cross.  The next time you feel the temptation to sin, think about that sacrifice and think about the fact that giving into that temptation will defile the temple of God.  Then ask God to give you the strength to overcome your temptation.  With His help and His mercy, we can keep His temple pure.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Location, Location, Location


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 1-3; Revelation 2

Today’s Key Passage – Ezekiel 1:1-2:8

 

In 2010, my wife passed her real estate exam and has been working as a Realtor ever since.  Along the way, I have picked up a little bit about her business through talking with her and listening to her stories.  While I am far from being an expert, I have learned that the number one rule in real estate is location, location, location.  All things being equal, two identical homes can have an amazing difference in value based solely on their locations.  While location is important in real estate, the same is not true for serving God.

Today we begin reading the book of Ezekiel.  Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah, and both of them were prophets of God who spoke out against the sins of God’s people.  The biggest difference between the two was location.  Jeremiah preached to the people still in Judah, while Ezekiel preached to the people already exiled to Babylon.  Even though Ezekiel was over 500 miles away from Jerusalem, the center of worship for the early Israelites, he did not let his location stop him from serving God.  Instead, he stepped out in faith right where he was.

Many of us can believe the lie that we have to be in the right “location” to serve God.  For example, we might think we cannot serve Him at work unless we work in the ministry, or that we cannot share the message of the Gospel in some situations because it might be uncomfortable.  The fact is that our “location” has nothing to do with our ability to serve God.  Whether we are rich or poor, young or old, introverted or extroverted; we can serve Him.  Just as the number one rule of real estate is location, the number one rule of serving God is obedience.  As long as we have a heart for obedience to Him, we will always be able to faithfully serve Him, wherever we happen to be in our lives.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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The Simplest Defintion


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 52; Revelation 1; Psalms 143, 144

Today’s Key Passage – Revelation 1:12-18

 

During my career as an investigator, I have interrogated thousands of people.  While the purpose and the ultimate course of each interrogation were different, I began each one in exactly the same way.  After a brief introduction, I would ask each of the people I was interrogating to tell me a little about themselves.  I was always fascinated by the way some people chose to define themselves.  Some people would talk about their childhood.  Others would talk about their spouse or their children.  Some people simply were not able to tell me anything about themselves, either because they were nervous or because they had never really thought about how they would sum up their lives in a few short minutes.

Many people throughout the ages have spent a lot of time trying to define Jesus.  Some people literally spend years of their lives trying to come up with a definition for Him.  There are entire books written with the singular goal of trying to define this man who lived over 2000 years ago.  The simplest definition for Jesus, at least in my opinion, can be found in today’s key passage, and it comes from the greatest possible source.  As the apostle John was exiled on the island of Patmos, Jesus appeared to him.  When John saw Jesus in all of his glory, he immediately fell at His feet.  Jesus told John not to be afraid, and then He defined Himself by saying, “I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Vss. 17-18)  In these three simple sentences, Jesus tells us everything we need to know about Him.  He is God, He was dead, but was raised and He now lives forever, and He holds the keys to eternal salvation.  As followers of Christ, each of us will spend our lives building on that definition as we learn more about Him and get to know Him better, but at the most basic level, this simple definition is the best place to start.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Remembering God in a Distant Land


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 50, 51; 3 John

Today’s Key Passage – Jeremiah 51:50-53

 

Following the fall of Jerusalem, the Jewish exiles were taken from their homeland of Judah into captivity in Babylon.  While there, they were surrounded by people who did not share their faith, so each day they were faced with many temptations.  Not only were they tempted to feel like God had forsaken them, they were also tempted to adopt the ways of their pagan neighbors and grow further away from God.  To help ward off these temptations, they received valuable advice in today’s key passage from the prophet Jeremiah.  They were told to, “Remember the Lord in a distant land”. (Vs. 50)  Even though they were far from home, the answer to their survival was firmly rooted in remembering God.

Even today, many of us might be in “distant lands”.  Sometimes those distant lands might be physical.  Some people may be traveling for work, or may have recently moved to a new town.  Others may have recently gone back to school or started a new school.  In other cases, the distant lands can be more emotional or spiritual in nature.  Some people may be starting a new job or beginning a life with a new spouse, or perhaps they have not been to church or read God’s Word in awhile.  Whatever the case, when we find ourselves in these “distant lands”, we are likely to face the temptation to allow ourselves to slip further away from God or to sacrifice our obedience to Him.  In these moments, our greatest strength can be found when we remember God.  It is important that we remember what He has done for us and that we are His.  He has paid a hefty price for our salvation, so when you find yourself in a distant land, remember the Lord.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Becoming an Ebed-Melech


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 37-39; Psalm 79; 2 John

Today’s Key Passage – Jeremiah 38:1-13

 

In today’s key passage, we find another of the lesser-known heroes of the Bible.  The prophet Jeremiah was very unpopular in his day, and our story begins with him being thrown into a cistern by some of the king’s officials. (Vs. 6)  Jeremiah was stuck in the mud at the bottom of the cistern, and would surely die without intervention.  Ebed-Melech, whose name literally translates to “servant of the king”, was an official in the royal palace.  When he heard what happened to Jeremiah, he faced a dilemma.  Because of his faith in God, He realized that the murder plot was wrong and wanted to come to Jeremiah’s aid, but speaking out in Jeremiah’s defense could have been dangerous and could have caused him to face his own persecution.  Fortunately for Jeremiah, Ebed-Melech’s fear of God was greater than his fear of people, so without hesitation he went to the king of Judah to plead Jeremiah’s case. (Vss. 8-9)  With the king’s blessing, Ebed-Melech took thirty of the kings men and saved Jeremiah from his certain death. (Vss. 11-13)

The dilemma faced by Ebed-Melech is one that is still common today.  For example, when we see someone treated badly, we can choose to go along with the crowd or we can choose to stand up for them with love.  Anytime we see an injustice in this world, we will likely face the decision between the fear of man and the fear of God.  As followers of Christ, the fear of God must always win this battle in our hearts and in our minds.  We can all become an “Ebed-Melech” for others, helping them in their times of need.  When we do, we can demonstrate God’s amazing love for us by loving other people, and we can truly be a servant to the King of Kings.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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The Fixed Laws of Heaven and Earth


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 33, 34; Psalm 74; 1 John 5

Today’s Key Passage – Jeremiah 33:19-26

 

Most things in life are fairly unpredictable.  We never know what opportunities or challenges we might face tomorrow, or where we will be in five years.  There are, however, certain things that we can count on to be predictable.  For example, we know that on this day in 2111, the sun will rise at 6:56 am and set at 8:04 pm here in Texas.  In addition, we know that the next total solar eclipse will occur on November 13, 2012, and that Halley’s Comet will be seen again on July 28, 2061.  We are able to predict all of these things because there are a fixed set of laws that govern the movement of everything in the universe.

In today’s key passage, God uses these fixed laws of Heaven and earth to illustrate the certainty of His promises to His covenant people.  He says, “If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth, then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (Vss. 25-26)  Just as we can trust in the movement of the heavens, we can trust in the promises of God.  We can trust Him when He says He hears our prayers (1 John 5:14-15), He will provide for us (Matthew 6:31-32), and that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8)  Most importantly, we can trust Him when He says we can have eternal life. (John 3:16)  Just as God’s laws have governed the universe since creation, His promises for each of us are sure and everlasting.  Trust in Him, and know that He is unchanging and infallible.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Against All Odds


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 31, 32; 1 John 4

Today’s Key Passage – Jeremiah 32:1-27

 

The odds of winning the main lottery jackpot in Texas are roughly 25 million to one.  Despite this fact, millions of people spend their hard-earned money each week on tickets.  It is not that people do not know the odds.  In fact, they are readily available on the Internet and are even printed on the back of each ticket.  When people choose to play the lottery, it is because they are betting against all of the odds that they might win.

The people of Judah were facing some difficult odds.  The prophet Jeremiah was in prison for speaking out against the sins of Judah, and the Babylonian armies had Jerusalem surrounded. (Vs. 2)  All signs were pointing to Judah’s predicted fall.  That is when the Lord spoke to Jeremiah and told him that one of his cousins was coming to ask him to buy a piece of land. (Vs. 7)  Although enemy soldiers already occupied the land in question, God told Jeremiah to make the purchase from his cousin.  Even though all of the facts at the time said the land was worthless, Jeremiah went against all of the odds and obeyed God.  He did not necessarily understand God’s request (Vs. 25), but he trusted God when He said, “houses, fields, and vineyards will again be bought in this land”. (Vs. 15)

There are many times in this life when the odds may seem to be stacked against us, and it is in these times when God asks us to step out in faith and trust in His promises.  In those times, our human minds might want to focus on the dismal facts at hand.  We can all choose, however, to go against the odds.  We can choose to bet on God to do the impossible as we remember his encouraging words to Jeremiah: “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Vs. 27)  Even when things seem desperate, God can always find a way.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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