Answers to Life's Questions

Jul 31, 2006 at 18:23 o\clock

God's Provision

Are we looking to God for our needs ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Exodus 16:1-21 

God's Provision

And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that He heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?

If we enjoyed the vantage point of heaven, above both space and time, we would readily see the hand of God guiding us through history. The continuity of God's dealings with man-kind would then become quite evident, for we would not be bound by the years of one lifetime. But even though we cannot rise above space and time, we are not left without insight into God's providential leading through history. Through the use of types and symbols the Bible miraculously illustrates the essential unity between the Old and New Testaments. By comparing the prophetic types of the Old Testament with their fulfillment in the New, we see that history is proceeding on the course designed by God before time began.

One month after the children of Israel walked away from Egyptian bondage and crossed the Red Sea, they struck a course inward from the sea to the Wilderness of Sin. Their unleavened bread was exhausted, and they began to face the hunger and thirst of the sandy desert. The Israelites murmured that they had it better back in Egypt and should have remained there. But the Lord promised Moses He would rain bread from heaven to feed the starving Israelite multitudes. Moses relayed the message. "And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that He heareth your murmurings against the LORD"(Exodus 16:7). This heavenly bread, referred to as manna, was like the coriander seed of the parsley family, but it resembled the silver-white hoarfrost which covered the ground on Middle Eastern mornings. It tasted like wafers made with honey.

This manna is a type of Christ, foreshadowing God's provision for mankind centuries later. Our Lord said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" John 6:47-51).

The similarities between the Old Testament type, the manna, and the New Testament fulfillment, Jesus Christ, are striking. The pure-white manna descended noiselessly in the night without fanfare. The Christ child was born on a silent night without fanfare. The heavenly manna was to be gathered early each morning. Nine verses of this chapter refer to the morning. We are to seek the Lord Jesus not only early in the day (Psalm 63:1), but early in life as well (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

The manna was clearly a gift from God. Israel did not earn this bread; in fact, this murmuring lot didn't even deserve it. God's salvation is never earned or deserved. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). Manna was God's gift of life to the Israelites. Jesus Christ is God's gift of life to all mankind. Without God's gift of manna, the undeserving Israelites would have died. But without God's gift of Jesus Christ, the bread of life, all the world would be condemned to death.

God's hand is guiding history today as it always has. The theme of His life-giving provision spans the ages. This is the message of God which runs through the centuries: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Past, present, or future, God's provision is always there for those who will receive it.

MORNING HYMN
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim thro' this barren land
I am weak, but Thou art mighty,
Hold me with Thy pow'rful hand.

Jul 29, 2006 at 19:04 o\clock

Tribulation with Joy

What is our attitude toward our problems ?

Author: Mary Wilder Tileston
Source: Joy and Strength
Scripture Reference Luke 9:23 

Tribulation With Joy

And He said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
LUKE 9:23

WE pray Thee, grant us strength to take
Our daily cross, whate'er it be,
And gladly for Thine own dear sake
In paths of pain to follow Thee.
W. W. HOW

THE more you accept daily crosses as daily bread, in peace and simplicity, the less they will injure your frail, delicate health; but forebodings and frettings would soon kill you. FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FÉNELON

We speak of the crosses of daily life, and forget that our very language is a witness against us, how meekly we ought to bear them, in the blessed steps of our holy Lord; how in "every cross and care," we ought not to acquiesce simply, but to take them cheerfully,--not cheerfully only but joyfully; yea, if they should even deserve the name of "tribulation," to "joy in tribulation" also, as seeing in them our Father's hand, our Saviour's cross.
E. B. PUSEY

Take kindly and heartsomely with His cross, who never yet slew a child with the cross. SAMUEL RUTHERFORD

Jul 28, 2006 at 18:42 o\clock

Reaction or Response

How do we act when we are treated badly ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Mark 15:1-20 

Reaction or Response

And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate.

A converted Hindu woman had suffered much at the hands of her unsaved relatives. One day a missionary asked her, "When your husband is angry and persecutes you, what do you do?" The Hindu woman replied, "I just cook the food better and sweep the floor a little cleaner. When he speaks unkindly, I answer him mildly, trying to show him in every way that when I became a Christian, I also became a better wife." Although that husband had resisted all the efforts of the missionaries, he could not resist the sweet silence of his Christian wife. The Holy Spirit used her to win him to Christ.

How do you react when you meet antagonism? When you are mistreated or wrongly accused, do you harbor resentment or seek revenge? Do you attempt to retaliate or verbally abuse those who have abused you?

Jesus had been led away to the high priest. His agony in the garden had been interrupted by His betrayal. To make matters worse, His primary disciple, the Apostle Peter, had denied Him three times. Our Lord had endured both physical and verbal abuse all night long. "And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate" (Mark 15:1). As the Sanhedrin gathered early on the morning of Jesus' crucifixion, they attempted to make the trial official. Yet their single purpose was "to put Him to death" (Matthew 27:1).

Jesus was falsely arraigned, falsely accused, and falsely abused. Yet to all of the trumped-up charges, to all of this pseudo evidence, our Lord made no reply. When the chief priests continued to accuse Him falsely of many things, Mark records that the Lord Jesus answered nothing. So uncharacteristic was it for a person falsely accused not to rise to His own defense that Pilate asked in astonishment, "Answerest Thou nothing?" But the narrative repeats, "Jesus yet answered nothing." It was nothing short of remarkable that Jesus would not retaliate or lash out against those who had treated Him so cruelly and unjustly.

A young sergeant was serving the British army in Egypt under the Highland Regiment. This soldier was an effervescent and shining Christian. When he was asked how he came to know the Lord Jesus as Savior, he recounted his conversion by saying, "There is a private in this company who was converted in Malta before the regiment came to Egypt. We gave that fellow an awful time. On one terrible night he came in very tired and wet. But before getting into bed, he knelt down to pray. My boots were soaked with water and covered with mud, and I let him have it with one on the side of his head, and I struck him with the second on the other side. But he just went on praying. The next morning I found those boots beautifully polished and standing by the side of my bed. That was his reply to me, and it just broke my heart. I was saved that day."

Our response to those who lie against us must never be to lash out against them. As we arise early in the morning, perhaps after a day in which our character has been slandered and our conduct has been slashed, we must arise with a commitment to live a life like the Lord Jesus who, when He was reviled, reviled not again. Only then will we live happily in a world filled with unhappy people.

MORNING HYMN
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood-
Sealed my pardon with His blood:
Hallelujah, what a Saviour!

Jul 26, 2006 at 19:41 o\clock

Wisdom & Riches - in which world ?

In which world are we seeking treasure ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Proverbs 8:1-36 

Wisdom and Riches

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Proverbs belongs to that segment of the Old Testament designated as "wisdom literature." Such proverbial teaching represents one of the most ancient forms of instruction. The wisdom literature of Israel was the chief storehouse of moral and practical instruction for the Jews. It guided the head of state as well as the head of the home. It embodied the difference between right and wrong, righteousness and unrighteousness. But most of all, Israel's wisdom literature taught the Jews how to live before Jehovah. It contrasted the wisdom of the world, a wisdom of possessions, with the wisdom of God, a wisdom of piety.

Proverbs teaches us that all who would live godly must seek the wisdom of God and forsake the wisdom of the world. To seek divine wisdom, therefore, is to seek to know God better and to possess less. Wisdom is God; and speaking as wisdom, God says, "I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me" (Proverbs 8:17). God is to be sought early in life and early in each day of life. When we show Him we love Him in this way, He shows us He loves us by filling our day with His wisdom.

Seeking the wisdom of God and the God of wisdom does not necessarily mean we will be paupers on this earth. God says, "Riches and honor are with me; yea durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver" (Proverbs 8:18-19). The revenue paid by seeking this world's wealth is temporal gain and a frequent deterrent to godliness. The revenue gained by seeking divine wisdom is eternal gain and an everlasting aid to godliness. Therefore, the truly wise person in this world will seek God's wisdom instead of the world's wealth. But should God allow us to have both, our attitude toward our possessions will be, "Every man to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God" (Ecclesiastes 5:19).

An English nobleman once visited Josiah Wedgwood to see how he made his legendary china and pottery. A young apprentice was instructed to give the nobleman a tour of the factory. The nobleman didn't believe in God and was sacrilegious and foul-mouthed, and he consistently ridiculed the Bible during the tour. At first the young apprentice was shocked, but after awhile he began to laugh when the man made his cynical remarks. Josiah Wedgwood was greatly disturbed by this, especially when he saw how his young apprentice was being influenced by this wealthy nobleman. Later the atheist asked if he could purchase a particularly expensive vase. As he handed it to the nobleman, Wedgwood deliberately let it crash to the floor. With a vile oath the nobleman angrily said, "That's the one I really wanted and now it's shattered by your carelessness." Josiah Wedgwood replied, "Sir, there are things more precious than any vase things that can never be restored once they are ruined. I can make another vase, but you can never give back to my helper the pure heart you've defiled by your vile language and sacrilegious talk!"

The nobleman was an example of a man who did not seek the Lord early but sought riches all the day. Josiah Wedgwood is a fine example of a man who early sought the Lord and recognized that his wealth was a gift from God. God never intended that we should not have riches; He only intended that riches should not have us. It is vitally important for Christians who possess wealth not to be possessed by it. Seek the wisdom of the Lord early in the day, before earning the wealth of the world. Then use that wealth in a way which will bring eternal reward.

MORNING HYMN
I take, O cross, thy shadow
For my abiding place
I ask no other sunshine than
The sunshine of His face
Content to let the world go by,
To know no gain nor loss,
My sinful self my only shame,
My glory all the cross.

Jul 25, 2006 at 18:22 o\clock

Never Left Alone

Do we ever feel abandoned or alone in life ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Genesis 28:1-22 

Never Alone

And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.

The patriarch Jacob was a man rarely in solitude. His life was lived in rich association with others. The husband of four wives, Jacob fathered twelve sons, of whom were descended the tribes of Israel. He could not even claim solitude at birth, for he was the second-born of twin sons. It seemed that Jacob's life was destined to be lived in association with others. Even when he died, Jacob was buried in the cave of Machpelah with his parents, grandparents, and wife Leah.

There was one occasion, however, when Jacob was alone, quite alone. After he had purchased the birthright from his brother Esau and had deviously received his father's blessing, Jacob set out to seek a wife. His father charged him not to marry a Canaanite but to journey to distant Paddan-aram and take a wife of the daughters of Laban, his mother's brother. This provided the perfect excuse for Jacob to flee from the wrath of his cheated brother, who had vowed to kill him.

Exiled from home and running from revenge, this solitary wanderer traveled north from Beersheba toward Haran. He camped on a remote plateau near the city of Luz. Here Jacob had time to ponder the events of his early life. Would the God of Abraham and Isaac be the God of Jacob as well? Was the covenant to extend to him? A sense of loneliness crept over him. Fear that his brother had followed him made Jacob apprehensive. He saw the figure of Esau behind every tree and rock. Finally, sheer exhaustion caused him to sleep, even with nothing but a stone for his pillow.

During the night Jacob had a dream. This was no ordinary dream, but a revelation from God. Jacob saw a ladder set up on the earth which reached into the heavens. Upon the ladder were the angels of God ascending and descending. But the most amazing feature of the dream was that at the top of the ladder stood the Lord Himself saying, "l am the LORD God of Abraham . . . and, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places to which thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land, for I will not leave thee."

The words of God must have been music to Jacob's ears. The blessing which God had promised to Abraham and Isaac was now promised to Jacob as well. His lonely heart would never be lonely again. Jacob awakened with a start and gasped, "Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. . . . And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it" and called the place Bethel--the "house of God" (Genesis 28:18-19). Certainly this was a turning point in his religious life. When Jacob arose early that morning it was with a new attitude toward God. Jehovah was not some distant and unknowable god, but one who had been there, right in that very place. There was an open pathway of communication between God and men.

In essence, the revelation of this stairway to Jacob is a revelation of Jesus Christ. He is our ladder of communication to heaven. With regard to salvation, Jesus Christ is our stairway through the stars to the God of heaven. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6). But the Lord Jesus is so much more. To the Christian Jesus Christ is a continual, well-worn pathway to God. The Apostle Paul expressed it so clearly: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man, Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5). The ladder of communication between God and men is Jesus Christ. He is our go-between, our mediator, our ladder of prayer.

Jacob was astounded to learn that communication between God and men was possible. Yet armed with that knowledge, he was no longer lonely. The Father's "I am with thee" to Jacob is God's promise to all His heirs. Jesus said, "And lo, I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20). As the heir of God's promise we need never feel alone. We never are.

MORNING HYMN
When in affliction's valley I tread the road of care
My Savior helps me to carry the cross so heavy to bear
Tho' all around me is darkness, Earthly joys all flown;
My Savior whispers His promise, Never to leave me alone!

Jul 24, 2006 at 16:59 o\clock

Waiting on God

Are we in a hurry and God seems not to be ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Ezekiel 12:1-28 

Waiting on God

And in the morning came the word of the LORD unto me.

Have you ever watched a group of demonstrators carrying placards to call attention to their cause? Perhaps you have participated in a walk-a-thon to raise funds for a charity. Frequently people must do extraordinary things to gain publicity or call attention to their particular beliefs. There is a prophet in the Old Testament who did exactly the same thing at the direct command of God. His name was Ezekiel.

A contemporary of Jeremiah and Dariel, Ezekiel was a priest (Ezekiel 1:3), but never served as such because he was taken captive to Babylon during the reign of Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:10-16). Ezekiel settled with a group of exiles at Tel-Abib, a town in the interior part of Babylonia on the river Chebar. Five years after he arrived in Babylonia, when he was about thirty years of age, Ezekiel received a call from Jehovah to prophesy to the people of the captivity.

Prophesying during the darkest days of the captivity, Ezekiel was met only with indifference and despondency among the people. The captive Jews would not listen to his message. Therefore God instructed Ezekiel to resort to a more dramatic method of proclaiming the destruction of Jerusalem. Instead of preaching or speaking in parables, he would act out the parable. Ezekiel would dramatize what God was about to do with His great city Jerusalem.

God reminded Ezekiel that he lived in a rebellious house amid a rebellious nation and that he should prepare to move out of that house. In order to be a visual representation of the captivity of Jerusalem, God commanded Ezekiel to "dig thou through the wall in their sight, and carry out thereby." So, packing his bags, Ezekiel proceeded to gouge out a hole in the mud wall of his house, making an opening onto the street through which he would pass with his baggage. There he would wait.

"And in the morning came the word of the LORD unto me" (Ezekiel 12:8). Having waited all night, Ezekiel now gave an explanation to the Israelites for his rather unusual actions. Five times in this chapter the word of the Lord came unto him; five times he had to wait on the word of the Lord. True, waiting in the comfort and privacy of his house would not have been as difficult as waiting on the sidewalk while everyone passed by, but waiting on God is never easy.

Sometimes the purposes and messages of God are revealed slowly. His grand designs can never be hurried. The great New England preacher Phillips Brooks was a man of great poise and quiet manner. Yet at times he suffered from moments of frustration when he had to wait on God. One day a friend saw him feverishly pacing the floor like a caged animal.

"What's the trouble, Mr. Brooks?" he asked.

"The trouble is that I am in a hurry, but God isn't!"

We can imagine that having clawed through the wall with bags in hand and waiting on the sidewalk for God to speak to him again was difficult for Ezekiel. Nonetheless, after God initially spoke to him, it was not until the morning that God came to him the second time. Ezekiel did as God commanded him without need for explanation. But then, in full view of everyone on the street, he must patiently wait on the Lord to speak to him again.

You and I must recognize that God leads us every step of the way, whether we understand His leading or not. To hear God say "Go" or to hear Him say "Stay" is usually easier than to hear Him say "Wait"! In potential ridicule, the prophet of God waited all night to hear the Lord God give him further instructions. How long are we willing to wait on God? Do we trust Him enough to wait on Him today?

MORNING HYMN
Not ours to know the reason why
Unanswered is our prayer, But ours to
trust God's wisdom still
And to His love repair.

Jul 21, 2006 at 17:34 o\clock

Getting our Feet Wet

Are we "plunging in" to the will of God for us ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Joshua 3:1-17 

Wet Feet

Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.

Faith is getting yourself in so deep that only God can get you out. This concept of faith is readily seen in the account of Joshua and the children of Israel as they crossed the Jordan River into the promised land.

With the passing of Moses a new servant of the Lord was commissioned to lead the chosen people of God. Joshua clearly had the promise of God that He would be with the Israelites. Be strong and of good courage" (Joshua 1:6). "Only be thou strong and very courageous" (1:7). "Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest" (1:9). "Only be strong and of a good courage" (1:18). Armed with these promises of divine assistance, Joshua immediately sent two men into the land to spy out the city of Jericho. Here the spies met Rahab the harlot and their lives were spared by her hiding them from the king's men. After three days the spies returned to Joshua and reported that all the inhabitants of the land were afraid of the mighty Jehovah and that Israel could easily enter the land and establish a beachhead there.

As a decisive leader, Joshua wasted no time in mustering the Israelite camp. Joshua rose early in the morning (Joshua 3:1) and they removed from Shittim to the Jordan River. Roaring downward toward the Dead Sea, the mighty current of the Jordan is very strong at Jericho, especially during the harvest season. Because of the melting snows in the Lebanon mountains, and the overflowing of the Jordan during the month of Nisan, crossing the river at this season was regarded in ancient times as a very extraordinary feat. It is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 12:15 as a heroic act on the part of the brave Gaddites. Undoubtedly the rushing waters had overflowed the banks when the two spies crossed the river a few days before. But it was altogether impossible for the children of Israel with their wives and children to cross the mighty current. What was a great obstacle for man was a great opportunity for a miracle for the omnipotent God.

After Joshua rose early in the morning and commanded the people to move to the water's edge, they abode there three days. Here they were given instructions as to how to proceed across the water and told to sanctify themselves, "for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you" (Joshua 3:5). In the morning, as commanded, the priests of Israel led the procession to the brink of Jordan's waters. Miraculously when the priest entered the water, bearing the ark of the covenant, the mighty Jordan River "stood upon an heap."

Faith that had faltered at Kadesh forty years before was now tested again. When God caused the parting of the waters of the Red Sea, it was for Israel to escape with their lives from the pursuit of the Egyptian foe. Now, however, Israel was on the march and the foe was on the other side of the river. But the crossing of the Jordan was more of an act of faith than the crossing of the Red Sea. Upon leaving Egypt the Israelites saw God part the waters before they entered them. But now the waters were not parted. Not until the soles of the priests' feet touched the water was the river rolled back. It was not an act of obedience following what God had already done, but an act of faith which caused the priests to enter the swift current of the mighty Jordan

We should never fear God's leading, even into the turbulent Jordans of our lives, for God stands behind His commands with His omnipotence. Trusting God is taking that step of faith. Trust Him today for today's step of faith.

MORNING HYMN
Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise,
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled;
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.

Jul 20, 2006 at 18:01 o\clock

Watchful about Sin

Are we ever watchful about sin in our lives ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: 2 Samuel 11:1-27 

Steps to Sin

And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.

A historian once observed that Abraham Lincoln died in time to be great. That is, if he had lived longer, his greatness may well have been tarnished with mistakes. David was not so fortunate. He lived to make his greatest mistake and to commit his greatest sin with Bathsheba.

David was at war with the children of Ammon, east of the Jordan River. He sent Joab his captain to seize the city of Rabbah, what is today Amman, the capital of Jordan. David remained behind at Jerusalem perhaps because he had become self-indulgent and faced a growing inclination toward enjoying the luxurious life of the royal palace. At any rate, remaining behind ultimately led to his downfall. The steps which David took to fall into sin are characteristic steps. They are identical to those taken by Adam and Eve (Genesis 3), by Achan (Joshua 7:21) and by others. Here are those steps.

First, David was strolling in the evening on the roof of his palace when he saw a beautiful woman bathing in an adjacent house. Sin always begins with sight, or some sensual exposure. The sight of sin is not sin itself. Occasionally we cannot help but look upon sin. But the second glance at what we should not see is always sin.

Second, David "sent and inquired after the woman." Had he not given in to his lust for the bathing woman, he would never have sent for information about her. In essence, he desired her and lusted after her when he knew he could not have her. The sight of sin the second time led David to illicit desire.

Third, 2 Samuel 11:4 indicates, "And David sent messengers, and took her." Like Eve in the garden of Eden and Achan at the battle of Jericho, David now actively participated in sin. These steps in the cycle of sin are universal; they cause us to stumble, as they caused David to stumble. In order to break this cycle, we must be aware that one step always leads to the next. David failed to recognize this, and it led to disgrace in the kingdom of Israel.

To have the king commit adultery was bad enough; but sin is never a private matter. It always involves others. Thus the fourth step in David's sin was to involve an innocent party in his sin. In this case the innocent party was Uriah the Hittite, the husband of Bathsheba.

When Bathsheba told David that she was with child and that it was his child, he unsuccessfully attempted to divert the consequences of his sin. He demanded that Uriah be returned to Jerusalem under the guise of wanting to know how the battle was going. He sent Uriah to his house, assuming that after Uriah had spent an evening at home with his wife, everyone would assume that she was pregnant with his child. But Uriah would not enter the house. A disappointed David even attempted to get Uriah drunk so that he would go home, but to no avail. The die was cast; everyone would know that Bathsheba's child was not Uriah's.

In the morning David callously caused Uriah to be the bearer of his own death warrant to Joab (2 Samuel 11:14). According to the king's instructions, Joab placed Uriah in the heat of the battle so that he would be killed. David now added murder to the crime of adultery. This is hardly what we would expect from the man God had chosen to be king of Israel. It is what we have come to expect, however, when one lingers at the door of sin. Lingering at the door of sin is an open invitation to enter that door, and David stayed too long on the top of his roof while viewing the bathing Bathsheba. Had he fled from the presence of temptation, he would not have entered the cycle of sin. You and I must flee temptation and the presence of evil if we would remain true to God. None of us has developed a resistant strain to the bacteria of sin.

MORNING HYMN
Yield not to temptation,
For yielding is sin
Each vict'ry will help you
Some other to win
Fight manfully onward,
Dark passions subdue,
Look ever to Jesus,
He will carry you through.

Jul 19, 2006 at 19:53 o\clock

Eyes of the Lord

Are we devoted to God in our daily lives ?

Title: God is Looking

Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: 2 Chronicles 16:9 

"The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him" (2 Chron. 16:9).

God is looking for a man, or woman, whose heart will be always set on Him, and who will trust Him for all He desires to do. God is eager to work more mightily now than He ever has through any soul. The clock of the centuries points to the eleventh hour.

"The world is waiting yet to see what God can do through a consecrated soul." Not the world alone, but God Himself is waiting for one, who will be more fully devoted to Him than any who have ever lived; who will be willing to be nothing that Christ may be all; who will grasp God's own purposes; and taking His humility and His faith, His love and His power, will, without hindering, continue to let God do exploits. --C. H. P.

"There is no limit to what God can do with a man, providing he will not touch the glory."

In an address given to ministers and workers after his ninetieth birthday, George Mueller spoke thus of himself: "I was converted in November, 1825, but I only came into the full surrender of the heart four years later, in July, 1829. The love of money was gone, the love of place was gone, the love of position was gone, the love of worldly pleasures and engagements was gone. God, God alone became my portion. I found my all in Him; I wanted nothing else. And by the grace of God this has remained, and has made me a happy man, an exceedingly happy man, and it led me to care only about the things of God. I ask affectionately, my beloved brethren, have you fully surrendered the heart to God, or is there this thing or that thing with which you are taken up irrespective of God? I read a little of the Scriptures before, but preferred other books; but since that time the revelation He has made of Himself has become unspeakably blessed to me, and I can say from my heart, God is an infinitely lovely Being. Oh, be not satisfied until in your own inmost soul you can say, God is an infinitely lovely Being!' --Selected

I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian. --Whitefield.

This classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert. This first edition was published in 1925 and the wording is preserved as originally written. Connotations of words may have changed over the years and are not meant to be offensive.

Jul 18, 2006 at 19:18 o\clock

Praise to God

Is His praise on our lips each day ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Psalm 57:1-11 

Praising God

Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.

The Psalms are the poetry of Palestine. They record the pains and pleasures, the distresses and delights of David and others. Over many psalms is a superscription, that is, an inscription which names the author of the psalm or gives the occasion for its writing or the instrument upon which the tune is to be played. Although these superscriptions are not inspired of God, as the individual psalms are, nonetheless they appear to be highly accurate and provide a good source of information for us regarding the psalms. The superscription for Psalm 57 says, "To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave."

King Saul had been openly seeking to take the life of David. Where could David turn for help? There was no question in his mind that the only place to turn for help was God. Thus he begins his psalm with the prayer, "Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me; for my soul trusteth in Thee. Yea, in the shadow of Thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpassed." The psalmist knew that God would not permit the king to seek his life forever and that one day these calamities would be over. Although he would roam the hills of southern Palestine, nonetheless he would make his refuge the shadow of God's wings.

The first half of this psalm records David's cry to God for deliverance and salvation. He notes that there is someone "that would swallow me up" (Psalm 57:3) and that he lives "among lions. . . whose teeth are spears and arrows" (verse 4). David is fully aware that Saul has prepared a net for his steps and will relentlessly pursue him until the end.

Perhaps you too are being relentlessly pursued, not by the king but by financial distress or physical infirmities. What should your reaction be to these things? David's reaction, in the midst of his distress and cry for help, was the positive statement of verse 5, "Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Thy glory be above all the earth." How could he say such a thing, given his circumstances? How could he remain calm in the midst of his storm? David provides the answer in verse 7, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.

To sing praises unto God while we are being relentlessly pursued by sickness, disease and distress requires a heart that is fixed on God and a tongue prepared to praise Him in the midst of that pursuit. Thus the psalmist issues a threefold call to awake himself to the praise of God. He says, "Awake up, my glory." This is a call for his greatest intellect to give praise to the Lord. The tongue can never express our praise to God until our minds form that praise. Before we can praise God in the midst of our troubles, we must have the mind to do so. David calls for his glory, his intellect, to stir itself in praise of God.

Next he cries, "Awake, psaltery and harp." His fingers will fly in joy over the strings of the psaltery and harp because his mind has become fixed on God. He is determined to praise God regardless of how his enemies pursue him. Let all the music with which we are familiar be attuned to the praise of our God.

Finally he enjoins, "I myself will awake early" (Psalm 57:8). No sleepy verses or weary notes will be heard from us early in the morning. We will rouse ourselves to the highest calling of man, to praise the Lord God among the people. We will faithfully, daily, arouse our intellect and will to the praise of God. We will also employ our fingers and our tongues in praising Him for His great deliverance. We will awake early to set ourselves to that task, the noble task of praising God.

MORNING HYMN
'Tis the grandest theme thro' the ages rung;
'Tis the grandest theme for a mortal tongue
'Tis the grandest theme that the world e'er sung
"Our God is able to deliver thee."

Jul 17, 2006 at 18:29 o\clock

Returning Good for Evil

Have we asked God to help us to return good for evil ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Genesis 26:17-35 

Good for Evil

And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace.

In his "Essay on Criticism" British author Alexander Pope inscribed the everlasting words, "To err is human; to forgive is divine." How easy it is to offend. Yet how difficult it is to forgive the offense. The devil counsels you to hate your enemies, hinder them, and seek every opportunity to destroy them. Our Lord counsels, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). The words of the Lord Jesus sound very idealistic, but in the nitty-gritty of everyday life it is quite difficult to forgive someone who has purposefully persecuted you.

Consider the plight of Isaac. When a famine arose in Canaan, Isaac was driven south to dwell in the land of Gerar. Here Isaac sowed the land and the Lord blessed him one-hundredfold. The patriarch became a very great man with possessions of flocks and herds. This made the Philistines of Gerar envious, and their king, Abimelech, asked Isaac to move elsewhere.

Thus Isaac departed in peace and pitched his tent farther south in the valley of Gerar. Immediately Isaac and his men redug the wells there which were previously owned by Abraham. Then Isaac's servants began to dig a new well. This brought strife with the herdsmen of Gerar who apparently did not want any more of the south country to be claimed by Isaac. The conflict was so great that Isaac named the well Esek, which means "contention." In order to avoid the problem, Isaac peaceably forsook that well and dug another. But this too brought the wrath of the Gerar herdsmen and Isaac named this well Sitnah (hatred). Again the well was given up in order to avoid confrontation. Isaac moved still farther south and his men dug yet a third well. This time they were apparently beyond the range of the envious herdsmen, for no strife followed. Isaac called this well Rehoboth, meaning "wide space," where the Lord would make them fruitful in the land.

Shortly Isaac traveled north to Beersheba. When Abimelech learned that the increasingly wealthy and influential Isaac had come to Beersheba, he quickly paid him a visit. Abimelech hoped to regain the favor of Isaac whom he had earlier expelled. When Isaac inquired why Abimelech and his friends had come, they replied, "We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath between us, even between us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee; That thou wilt do us no harm, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the LORD."

Abimelech and his friends were being quite gracious to themselves by saying that they had done Isaac nothing but good. In fact, they had uprooted him from fields which were giving a one-hundredfold yield. Even after he migrated south, the herdsmen of Gerar took possession of two of Isaac's tediously dug wells. Isaac had much to resent and be bitter about. But in typically godly fashion Isaac was willing to forgive the offenses against him.

A feast was made. Together they ate and drank. "And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another" (Genesis 26:31). Early the next morning they "cut a covenant," that is, they made a pact of peace that they would not harm one another. For Isaac this was a one-sided pact, for he had wronged no one. He could have reacted angrily to the suggestion of the peace pact. But instead, he forgave his offenders and dug another well at Beersheba (the "well of the covenant"). This confirmed the covenant with Abimelech.

To return evil for good is devilish; to return good for good is human; to return good for evil is godlike. The rich and powerful Isaac had no reason to forgive Abimelech and agree to the peace pact except that the love of God constrained him to do so. Isaac’s forgiving spirit is reflected in our Lord's instruction, "Be ye, therefore, merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven" (Luke 6:36-37). It's good advice. Let's heed it today.

MORNING HYMN
More like the Master I would live and grow,
More of His love to others I would show;
More self-denial, like His in Galilee
More like the Master I long to ever be.

Jul 15, 2006 at 13:22 o\clock

Knowing the Lord

What is our own relationship with the Lord ?

Call Him Master

"He appeared first to Mary Magdalene."

--Mark 16:9

Jesus "appeared first to Mary Magdalene," probably not only on account of her great love and persevering seeking, but because, as the context intimates, she had been a special trophy of Christ's delivering power. Learn from this, that the greatness of our sin before conversion should not make us imagine that we may not be specially favoured with the very highest grade of fellowship. She was one who had left all to become a constant attendant on the Saviour. He was her first, her chief object. Many who were on Christ's side did not take up Christ's cross; she did. She spent her substance in relieving His wants. If we would see much of Christ, let us serve Him.

Tell me who they are that sit oftenest under the banner of His love, and drink deepest draughts from the cup of communion, and I am sure they will be those who give most, who serve best, and who abide closest to the bleeding heart of their dear Lord.

But notice how Christ revealed Himself to this sorrowing one--by a word, "Mary." It needed but one word in His voice, and at once she knew Him, and her heart owned allegiance by another word, her heart was too full to say more. That one word would naturally be the most fitting for the occasion. It implies obedience. She said, "Master." There is no state of mind in which this confession of allegiance will be too cold. No, when your spirit glows most with the heavenly fire, then you will say, "I am Thy servant, Thou hast loosed my bonds." If you can say, "Master," if you feel that His will is your will, then you stand in a happy, holy place. He must have said, "Mary," or else you could not have said, "Rabboni." See, then, from all this, how Christ honours those who honour Him, how love draws our Beloved, how it needs but one word of His to turn our weeping to rejoicing, how His presence makes the heart's sunshine.

-- C.H. Spurgeon

Jul 14, 2006 at 18:59 o\clock

Unconfessed Sin - Unanswered Prayer

Have we dealt with our sins before God ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Hosea 5:2-15 

Unanswered Prayer

I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me early.

Hosea was a resident of the northern kingdom. Throughout his prophecy it is evident that Hosea had a tender feeling of compassion for the people of his land.

Alternately he warned the people and then pled with them to return to God in repentance. He knew, regardless of how wicked they had been, if they repented of their sins and forsook their wicked ways, God would receive them back in His love.

In Hosea 5:2 the prophet described the Israelites as "the revolters" and himself as "a rebuker." He saw it as his task to point out Israel's sin and call them to repentance. But there was a problem. Of the Jews he said, "They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find Him; He hath withdrawn Himself from them." God does not answer our prayers if we have unconfessed personal sin in our lives. Again and again the Bible affirms this truth (see John 9:31; Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:1-2).

We should not assume that God will always hear and answer our prayers. There are many things that can militate against God's answer. The greatest hindrance to answered prayer is personal, unconfessed sin. The Apostle Peter, after listing a variety of attitudes that a righteous person will have, makes this observation: "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil" (1 Peter 3:12). Many other things in life block the divine answer to prayer: idolatry (Jeremiah 11:11-14), irreverence for the Bible (Proverbs 28:7-9), family problems (1 Peter 3:1-7), improper motives (James 4:3), prayer without faith (James 1:5-6); but the most certain way to make God unavailable to us when we seek Him is for us to harbor iniquity in our hearts.

If the conditions were met, God would not withdraw Himself from Israel, He would listen to their prayers, and He would answer them. Therefore, Jehovah promised, "I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offense and seek My face; in their affliction they will seek Me early" (Hosea 5:15). The absence of God's influence in their lives would be affliction enough for the Israelites. God was about to get their attention and He would do so by means of the calamities which Hosea prophesied. But once He got their attention and their repentance for sin was made, they would again arise early in the morning to seek the face of God.

If God appears to have withdrawn Himself from you, perhaps you ought to ask yourself these questions: "Have I treated God well enough for Him to answer my prayers?" (idolatry); "Have I heeded God's Word well enough for Him to answer my prayers?" (irreverence for the Bible); "Have I treated my family well enough for God to answer my prayers?" (family problems); "Have I examined my motives well enough for God to answer my prayers?" (improper motives); "Have I trusted God well enough for Him to answer my prayers?" (prayer without faith); "Have I confessed personal sin well enough for God to answer my prayers?" (iniquity). When we can answer each of these questions in the affirmative, there is no reason for God to withdraw Himself from us when we seek Him. He has promised always to be near. Having confessed our sin, let us claim that promise today.

MORNING HYMN
Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer,
Here 'mid earth's sin and sorrow and care;
Men lost and dying, souls in despair,
O give me power, power in prayer!

Jul 13, 2006 at 19:23 o\clock

Christ our Passover

What value do we place on remembering the Lord in His death ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Exodus 12:1-30 

Jesus Our Passover

And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.

At last the climax was at hand. After four hundred and thirty years of dwelling in Egypt, the Israelites were about to leave the land. Their oppressors had endured nine intense plagues; still the heart of Pharaoh was hardened. Moses warned the Egyptian ruler that if he did not let God’s people go, the Lord would pass through the land and all the firstborn of Egypt would die. This was to be the final and most crushing judgment of all.

In preparation for this night, the Lord instructed Moses and Aaron to have each Israelite household separate a lamb from their flocks on the tenth day of the month. This was to be no ordinary lamb, but one without blemish. On the fourteenth day the Israelites would kill the lamb and strike its blood on the two side posts and upper door post of their houses. They were absolutely to remain inside their houses that night, for while Israel would be safely fellowshipping inside their blood-sprinkled houses, the firstborn of all outside would be killed. The Lord would “pass through” the land of Egypt at midnight but “pass over” those houses to which the lamb’s blood was applied.

That the Passover celebration is an Old Testament type prefiguring Jesus Christ cannot be seriously questioned. The lamb was to be without blemish, publicly observed four days to make sure. The public life of our Lord proved He was without the blemish of sin (John 18:38). He was “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29), “without spot or blemish” (1 Peter 1:19), “holy, harmless, undefiled” (Hebrews 7:26). The lamb was to be slain in order that Israel might be saved from death. The blood of Jesus Christ was shed at Calvary in order that He might redeem us from death (Acts 20:28; Hebrews 9:12).

That Passover night was the fourteenth of the Jewish month Nisan or Abib (March/April). God instructed that "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you" (Exodus 12:2). Because Israel was spared by the blood of the lamb, their future took on a new perspective. This was a new starting point in their existence. That night they began their journey to the promised land.

How this typifies the newness that salvation brings to a man's house! When we receive the atonement made for us by the blood of Jesus Christ, new life begins. We are "born again" (John 3:3); we are "passed from death unto life" (John 5:24); we are a "new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17). The believer in Christ doesn't have a new lease on life; he has a new life entirely.

Exodus 12:22 summarizes the Passover instructions given to Israel. "And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning." Even though the blood of the lamb was shed, it still was of no effect until it was applied to the house. So, too, the blood of Christ has no effect for us until it is applied to our lives (John 3:36). But once applied, all who are under the blood are spared from death and begin a journey to life eternal.

The Passover celebration became a perpetual memorial to God's deliverance of Israel. Many years later, as Christ and His disciples met for the Passover meal, He instituted the Lord's Supper which was to be partaken of in remembrance of His atoning death, the true Paschal Lamb. Paul reminds us, "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come" (1 Corinthians 11:26). Israel fellowshipped in their blood-stained houses until the morning. Let each of us remain in the fellowship of those who are bought with the blood of the Lamb, "until that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise, and the glory of His resurrection share."

MORNING HYMN
What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Jul 12, 2006 at 19:32 o\clock

Obedience and Blessing

Do we ever expect blessing without obeying God ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Genesis 22:1-14 

Obedience

And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

Obedience to God’s call is the prerequisite to God’s blessing. If we are not willing to relinquish our own interests in compliance with God's call to duty, we should not expect His blessing automatically to be ours. To Abraham the Lord promised, "I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing" (Genesis 12:2). Before these promises were realized, however, the patriarch had to prove his absolute obedience unto God. Four times Abraham endured the test of obedience and each time it was related to separation. Initially he received the divine call to leave kindred and country behind and journey to an unknown land. Later he found his nephew's herdsmen at odds with his own and Abraham had to separate himself once more from his kin. Still later this obedient servant of God found his wife Sarah engaged in a jealous battle with her handmaid and Abraham had to bid a sad good-bye to Hagar and his young son of the flesh, Ishmael. Each of these events tested Abraham's obedience to God and each was passed with flying colors.

However, Abraham was yet to undergo a final test of loyalty. This was to be the fourth and supreme test of separation. The Lord said, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I tell thee of" (Genesis 22:2).

Abraham's parents were long gone. Lot was gone. Ishmael was now gone. But as long as Isaac was alive, God's promise of blessing was yet intact. Now, however, was the son of promise to be sacrificed? Was he to be gone as well? You can well imagine the consternation in Abraham's heart. He had given up so much; must he give up his only son whom he loved? Reason told him no. But Abraham immediately brought his reason into the captivity of his faith. As soon as he received God's call to duty Abraham took no counsel with flesh and blood but rose early in the morning and set out with Isaac to the land of Moriah (Genesis 22:3). True obedience neither procrastinates nor questions.

The journey was upwards of sixty miles. On the third day Abraham bid the two young men accompanying them to remain behind with the donkey while he and his son went yonder to worship. Abraham grabbed the container of fire and a knife, while the wood for the burnt offering was laid upon the back of his only son, Isaac. How reminiscent this is of Abraham's greater son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who also bore the wood upon which He was sacrificed as a sin offering for us (John 19:17).

Once alone with his father, Isaac pointed out that they had fire and wood but no lamb for the sacrifice. In faith Abraham replied, "My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering" (Genesis 22:8). Yet as they came to Moriah, Abraham built an altar, laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his only son, gently laying him on the altar. As he raised the knife to slay his son, Abraham must have spent an agonizing eternity with his hand in the air. Then suddenly the angel of the Lord called out to him, forbidding Isaac to be slain. A ram was provided and Abraham offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. This totally unexpected ending to Abraham's personal ordeal prompted him to name that place Jehovah-jireh: the Lord will provide.

The supreme test was over. The Lord had not tempted Abraham with evil but rather provided a proving ground for his unflinching obedience. Now Abraham could indeed be the father of a great nation and be greatly blessed of the Lord. Like the patriarch, all who hear God's call to duty must tread the path of absolute obedience before we discover the many blessings along the way. "Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD, that walketh in His ways...happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee" (Psalm 128:1-2).

MORNING HYMN
But we never can prove,
The delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay,
For the favor He shows
And the joy He bestows
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Jul 11, 2006 at 18:13 o\clock

Judgment tempered with Mercy

Do we perceive the mercy of God in our lives ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Exodus 9:13-35 

Mercy Amid Judgement

And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let My people go, that they may serve Me.

One of the great paradoxes of the Bible is God's compassionate practice of tempering judgment with mercy. If ever anyone deserved the biting edge of God's wrath, it was the Pharaoh of the exodus. He was cruel, vindictive, and hard-hearted. When Moses and Aaron appeared before him, seeking the release of the Israelites, Pharaoh was insolent and blasphemous. He deserved to be stricken by God. Yet he was spared through the plagues of blood, frogs, lice, flies, malignant livestock and boils.

Now once again the Lord instructed Moses to “rise up early the morning and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let My people go” (Exodus 3). Yet another plague was to be inflicted on the Egyptians unless their king abandoned his insane rebellion against the Lord God. The first six plagues were accompanied by much suffering and humiliation. However, none of these had actually touched the lives of the Egyptians. This time, if Pharaoh did not relent, God would smite the people and their land with pestilence and they would be cut off from the earth.

Characteristic of God's mercy, the pestilence was not to begin immediately. Moses predicted, "Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now.” God gave the Egyptian king time for reflection. Judgment was impending; but before it came, the mercy of God allowed the rebellious Pharaoh twenty-four hours to consider the folly of his resistance.

But God's mercy did not stop there. Every God-fearing Egyptian had opportunity to respond to God as well. Those servants of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord, probably as a result of the previous plagues, quickly sought shelter for their families and cattle. Those who regarded not the word of the Lord remained in the fields.

Wherever the word of God is heralded, the reaction is always the same. Some believe and receive; others ridicule and reject. When the Apostle Paul delivered his compelling address on Mars' Hill, some mocked, others delayed, and a few believed (Acts 17:32-34). Nowhere is this more emphatically stated than in the final chapter of the Acts. "And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not" (Acts 28:24).

When the period of reflection and response was over, judgment came as promised. The thunder cracked, and the Lord sent hail and fire on the land of Egypt. So fierce was the hail and fire that upon impact great balls of fire ran along the ground. This pestilence smote both man and beast in the fields as well as the herbs and trees throughout Egypt. Yet the land of Goshen, where the people of God resided, was not touched. Neither were the Egyptians who had heeded the word of the Lord and took shelter—another instance of God's mercy, even during judgment.

Perhaps the greatest example of God's mercy in the midst of judgment is seen after the plague. Since many Egyptians had lost their lives, Pharaoh made a halfhearted, mock repentance in order to stay the mighty thunderings and hail. The flax and barley crops were completely destroyed, for the barley was in ear and the flax in bud. But the wheat and rye crops were yet in the ground and not destroyed. Those Egyptians who remained were not left without the hope of a harvest. That's the mercy of God!

Though Pharaoh's rebellion and insolence deserved the utter destruction of God's judgment, yet before, during, and after the plague of hail the mercy of God is evident. God's pity rests on men who have none on themselves. "The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works" (Psalm 145:8-9). Let's thank Him today for His great mercy.

MORNING HYMN
There's a wideness in God's mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea
There's a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.

Jul 10, 2006 at 19:30 o\clock

Summer

On days when I am unable to post, feel free to click on http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/devotion.php/kroll or on http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/ for good reading

Jul 10, 2006 at 18:22 o\clock

Working Together

Do we strive "together" in the work of the Lord ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Nehemiah 4:1-23 

Working Together

So we labored in the work; and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared.

It was not until the year 539 B.C. that the Persian king Cyrus decreed that Jews and other captives could return to their homelands after a long Babylonian captivity. Wave after wave of expatriates made the journey back to a beleaguered land of promise. While yet captive, however, the news came to Nehemiah that the wall of Jerusalem had never been repaired since its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar. Brigands and robbers could attack the city at will. Nehemiah was distressed and became terribly burdened for his home town. He secured the necessary papers from Artaxerxes, the Persian king at that time, to return to his homeland and rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.

In 444 B.C. Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem and soon afterwards went by night on an inspection tour of the city walls. He elicited help to rebuild the ruined fortification both from residents and returnees. Volunteers quickly came to his side, but so did villains. Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite heard that Nehemiah had come to rebuild the walls and "it grieved them exceedingly that there was a man come to seek the welfare of the children of Israel" (Nehemiah 2:10).

At first Sanballat and Tobiah had only scorned the idea that these feeble Jews would fortify their city. But now they had become seriously alarmed. A conspiracy was formed of the Arabians, Ammonites, and Philistines of Ashdod. The enemies of Nehemiah were ready to attack Jerusalem before the fortifications could be completed.

When Nehemiah heard the news of this conspiracy, he made proper response. Nehemiah 4:9 says, "Nevertheless, we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them." Nehemiah immediately turned to God in prayer but just as immediately made preparations to defend himself. This is the delicate balance between faith and works which is needed in each of our lives. With a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other the workmen continued to rebuild the walls. They would both watch and pray. The end result was summed up in Nehemiah’s words, “So we labored in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared” (Nehemiah 4:21). With each one doing his part, the task was finished in record time to the glory of the Lord.

The story could have been much different if, for example, those who worked complained that those who watched were not doing their fair share. Nehemiah’s workmen had to recognize they were all laborers together with God (1 Corinthians 3:9), as we must today if we are going to accomplish anything for God.

The following parable illustrates this principle. A carpenter’s tools were having a conference. Brother Hammer was presiding, but the others informed him that he’d have to leave because he was too noisy. “All right,” he said, “I’ll go, but Brother Plane must withdraw too. There’s no depth to his work. It’s always on the surface.” Brother Plane responded, “Well, Brother Rule will also have to go. He’s constantly measuring people as if he were the only one who’s right.” Brother Rule complained about Brother Sandpaper, saying, “He’s always rubbing people the wrong way.” In the midst of the discussion the Carpenter of Nazareth entered. He went to His workbench to make a pulpit from which He would preach the gospel. He used the hammer, the plane, the rule and the sandpaper. All were important in their own way.

If Christians criticize one another, insult one another, and refuse to work together for God, the task of gleaning the whitened harvest fields will never be completed for His glory. Though differences remain between believers, let us always recognize who the true enemy really is. It is Satan. Each of us possesses different gifts and abilities, but none of us is unimportant in the work of the Lord. Let’s defeat our common enemy this day.

MORNING HYMN
To the work! to the work! we are servants of God,
Let us follow the path that our Master has trod;
With the balm of His counsel our strength to renew,
Let us do with our might what our hands find to do.

Jul 8, 2006 at 19:43 o\clock

Christ our Anchor

What are we depending upon as our own anchor ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: 2 Kings 3:1-27 

Christ our Anchor

And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood.

After the death of Solomon the empire of Israel was sharply divided. The ten tribes to the north comprised the northern kingdom; the two tribes to the south formed the southern kingdom. For the most part, the kings of the south were a mixture of good and bad. Without exception, the Jewish kings of Israel, the ten tribes to the north, were all bad. In 2 Kings 3 is the story of a northern Jewish king who failed to call on God and a southern Jewish king who remembered to call on God.

The defeat of Ahab at Ramoth, and the subsequent dominion of the Assyrians over the territory east of the Jordan, encouraged the king of Moab to revolt against Israel. Mesha refused to pay his annual tribute of one hundred lambs and one hundred thousand rams. The scriptural account of this revolt receives absolute confirmation from the Moabite Stone, discovered in 1868 and now reconstructed at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Jehoram, the king of Israel, sought help from Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, to march against Mesha of Moab in retaliation for his rebellion. Jehoshaphat agreed. They planned to enter Moab by way of the wilderness of Edom. The king of Edom, a vassal of Judah, joined the expedition.

After a seven-day march through the desert, the armies of the Jews and Edomites were without water. They would soon die if something was not done. Jehoshaphat, who wished to consult a prophet of Jehovah, soon learned that Elisha was in the camp of Israel. Elisha told them to dig trenches over the plains and promised that God would both fill them with water and give a complete victory over Moab. This they did throughout the night in order to prepare for God's divine provision of water in the morning.

When the enemy armies of the Moabites rose up early in the morning, the red rays of the rising sun reflected from the waters that God had miraculously sent to fill the Jewish trenches (2 Kings 3:22). The Moabites misinterpreted the red hue of the water to be a lake of blood. They assumed that the allied armies had turned on each other and destroyed themselves. Thus the Moabite armies charged out of their camp to help themselves to the supposed spoils of war.

Rushing in disorder upon the Israelite camp, they were met by the whole army of the Jews and pushed back into their own country. The cities of Moab were razed, stones were thrown into the fields, wells were filled, and fruit trees were cut down. A great deliverance was given to Israel and to Judah because one king, Jehoshaphat, had not failed to seek help from Jehovah. In the midst of a disastrous situation he remembered the words of his forefather David, "In Thee, O LORD, do I put my trust" (Psalm 71:1).

"Can you imagine the captain of a ship, driven about by rough winds and desiring to drop anchor, trying to find a suitable place on board his own vessel? Such a thing seems ridiculous. He hangs the anchor at the prow, but still the boat drives before the wind; he casts it upon the deck but this too fails to hold it steady; at last he puts it down into the hold but has no better success. You see, an anchor resting on the storm-driven craft itself will never do the job. Only as it is thrown into the deep can it be effective against wind and tide. In the very same way, that person whose confidence is in himself will never experience true peace and safety. His actions are as futile as one who seeks to keep the anchor aboard his own ship. So cast your faith into the great depths of God's eternal love and power" (author unknown).

Although Jehoram would have been content to go into battle alone, Jehoshaphat would find contentment only in dropping his anchor in the love and wisdom of Jehovah. Let's not settle for less today.

MORNING HYMN
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?

Jul 7, 2006 at 18:44 o\clock

God's Care for Us

Do we appreciate the Love and Patience shown to us ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Jeremiah 7:1-34 

Love and Patience

Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them.

There is no greater contrast in all the Bible than the love and patience of God with the general disregard for that love and patience by men. Perhaps this theme is more clearly seen in the prophecy of Jeremiah than in any other. Jeremiah is one of the most colorful figures in Hebrew history. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that we know more about his personality and character than we do about any other Old Testament prophets. Called of God when he was but a child (Jeremiah 1:6), Jeremiah knew personally the love and patience of God and prophesied for Jehovah for nearly half a century. His concern was to bring Israel back to God in repentance and faith. Tragically, he stood in the mainstream of an ungrateful people who were rushing to certain destruction, yet they sought not God.

Jehovah was so concerned for His people that He commissioned Jeremiah to "stand in the gate of the LORD'S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD" (Jeremiah 7:2). God would not permit His people to face imminent destruction and death without the opportunity to repent and be restored. Jeremiah's task was to stand between the Jews and certain destruction.

In a delightful picture of the concern of Jehovah for His people, Jeremiah 7 twice indicates that God did not simply commission the prophet and then withdraw Himself from interest in the Jews. Jeremiah 7:13 says, "And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up and speaking but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not." It is natural for anyone who has loved ones facing pending danger to show diligence in dealing with it. The same is true for Jehovah God. It is no impassive God who is seen here. God takes a profound interest in His people. This indicates that God is not disengaged from His people or the affairs that affect them. He mourns over their sin and rejoices in their salvation. Still they do not heed His call for repentance and thus He must deliver them into the hand of the enemy.

The expression of Jehovah's rising early is strengthened in verse 25. Here He reminds His people, "Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them." It is not the prophets alone who are said to rise early with the message of repentance, but God Himself. Day after day, He rises to recommission anew these prophets with their life-changing message.

And what will be Israel's response to this consistent love and concern of Jehovah? Joshua 7:26 indicates, "Yet they hearkened not unto Me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck; they did worse than their fathers." What a contrast! God calls and commissions prophets to bring His message to a wayward people. He rises early every morning and sends forth His prophets. Still, day after day, His people do not hearken unto Him but harden their necks and become even more stubborn in their sin.

Today God is just as concerned about us as He was about Old Testament Israel. He showers His mercy on us as He did on them. He warns us of our sin as He warned the Jews. And much like them, we do not listen, nor do we heed the warnings of those whom He has raised to call us to repentance. Remember, before we arose early to seek God today, He had already risen to prepare this day for us. In response to His great love and concern for us, let us serve Him faithfully today.

MORNING HYMN
Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heav'n to earth come down;
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling,
All Thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure, unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation,
Enter ev'ry trembling heart.