• REVERENCE MY SANCTUARY

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    “Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.”
    Leviticus 26:2

    The word “sanctuary” means “something that is consecrated, a hallowed place, or a holy place.” The opposite would be something that is considered common or unclean. Holy things were never to be treated as common; they were to be reverenced as being set apart to God. Of course, God mentions His “sabbaths” in our text. These were days that were set apart from servile work to be devoted to God. God did not want those days to be treated as any other day, just as He did not want His “sanctuary” to be treated as any other place. These things were to be reverenced. To reverence is to fear, to hold in high regard, or to respect. When God revealed Himself to Moses through the burning bush, Moses was told to take his shoes off because the ground he was on was holy. What made that ground holy? It was holy because God was there. It was holy because of what God was doing there. When Jesus visited the temple during His earthly ministry, He purged it by driving out the moneychangers.

    Although we live in the New Testament era, the sanctuary of God is still to be reverenced. We do not worship in the Jewish temple. However, referring to the church, Paul used these words in Ephesians 2:21-22, “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” The church is a “holy temple”, and the “habitation of God.” The church, of course, is not a physical building, but a spiritual building comprised of its members. God dwells in the midst of His churches. His presence makes the assembly holy and sacred. Worship is not to be ritualistic and formal, but there should be a reverence for God. The Bible says, “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him” (Psalm 89:7).

    More and more we see the tendency in our generation to make church services a common thing. Churches design their ministries to please men rather than to please God. In an effort to make sinners not feel uncomfortable, churches are seeking to make the services as casual, convenient, and common as possible. What ever happened to “reverence my sanctuary”?

  • SHOUT FOR JOY

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    “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.”
    Psalm 32:11

    Is the Christian life free from hardships and struggles? Are we exempt from trials and temptations? We all know the obvious answer to these questions. Surely, we will walk through difficult times and have burdens that we must bear. However, the benefits of being saved far outweigh any incidental sorrows that we might suffer because we belong to Jesus Christ. In fact, the worst day we might endure is better than any day we had before we were saved.

    Our sins are forgiven. God is our Father. Jesus is our Friend. The Holy Spirit is our ever-present Comforter and Teacher. The Word of God is our guide. The family of God is our kin. The past with its sin is far behind us. The future is as bright as the promises of God. The world is no longer our home. We are looking for a city whose builder and maker is God. We will never experience the horrors of hell. We have been given eternal life. Jesus is presently building our mansions. We are not condemned. We have been justified, pardoned by the eternal Judge.

    The Holy Spirit of God is leading us. God has gifted and uniquely equipped each of us to serve Him. We have a story to tell the nations. He will never leave us nor forsake us. We have peace in our souls. The cross is our victory. The empty tomb is our assurance. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. We can do all things through Christ, which strengthens us. If God be for us, who can be against us?

    We are accepted in the Beloved. Our names are written in Heaven. We are kings and priests unto God. Jesus is interceding for us. We are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We are saints of God. We are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. We are more than conquerors through Him. The Eternal God is our refuge and our hiding place. With boldness we can enter into His presence in prayer. We are new creatures in Christ.

    He daily loads us with benefits. Our lives are hid with Christ in God. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Everything is working together for our good. Certainly, we have our share of problems, but how fortunate we are! By faith, we can rejoice in Him. We can “shout for joy” when we count our blessings.

  • AN EVIL REPORT

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    “And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.”
    Numbers 13:32

    The Lord directed Moses to send men into the land of Canaan to search it out. Their job description was not to decide about whether to occupy the land or not. God had given them the land and commanded them to possess it. They were simply to spy out the land and bring a report back to the others.

    When this group of scouts returned, they reported to Moses and the congregation of Israel. Ten of the spies spoke highly of the fruit that the land offered but saw the difficulties involved as being insurmountable. Here are some of their comments: “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we” (31). “…we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (33). Two of the scouts, Joshua and Caleb, had a different view of the possibilities. They said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” (30). It is easy to imagine the tension that must have been in the congregation because of these conflicting reports. It caused great confusion in the camp. The people were weeping. Some spoke of replacing Moses and returning to Egypt, all because of “an evil report.”

    From this familiar story, we are reminded of the power of “an evil report.” It is important to state that it was God that called the report “evil.” It was more than simply a difference of opinion. The report was “evil.” What made it “evil?” It was “evil” because it was a vote against the will of God. God had ordered this occupation of Canaan. These negative spies were influencing their fellow Israelites to disobey God.

    We should never underestimate the power of an “evil report.” Their report, based on lies, had greater influence than the report that was based on truth. It was “evil” because it was a report that was without faith. It was a report of unbelief and doubt. It was also “evil” because it would eventually result in the entire nation postponing the possession of the Promise Land for forty years. We need to be careful to recognize and reject evil reports.

  • AS A LITTLE CHILD

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    “Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”
    Luke 18:17

    The disciples struggled to comprehend the ways of the Savior. A few verses before, our text records that people were bringing infants to Jesus that He might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. They could not understand why Jesus would have the time or the interest in little ones. Jesus responded by saying that the children should not be hindered from coming to Him, and then these words, “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”

    This statement should make it clear to us that children can come to Jesus. He wants them to come to Him. Of course, they must be able to recognize their guilt before God and realize that the death of Christ alone is the payment for their sin. They must then by faith receive Him as Savior. Nowhere does the Bible teach of infant baptism or any form of salvation except repentance and faith. Children can come to Jesus as they are convicted of their sin and are drawn to the Savior. We must all “receive the kingdom of God as a little child.”

    This was an interesting concept to the disciples and to others in our generation. The model that we are given for how to receive the kingdom is a child, not an adult. What might we learn from this? Receiving Christ and His gift of salvation is not about natural ability or maturity, for children are not able to do many things that adults can do. Salvation is God’s miraculous work. Nor is the new birth based on human understanding or intellect. Salvation is not reserved for those who perfectly understand or are exceptionally learned. Regeneration is not simply an academic decision based on acquired information. Salvation is an eternal work of the Spirit of God, wrought in the heart of a repentant sinner, who is sincerely trusting in Jesus Christ as his Savior.

    Coming to Christ “as a little child” reminds us that the Gospel is simple. Too many seek to make the Gospel seem complex or complicated, when it is just the opposite. To come to Him “as a little child” implies that we come without prejudice or pride. We must come to Him in meekness and humility. One cannot come to Christ with aims or hopes of ambition, or with deceit and hypocrisy. We must lay aside our pretense and come, “as a little child.”

  • GIVE ME THINE HEART

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    “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.”
    Proverbs 23:26

    The heart is the center of our being. It is the place of devotion and affection. To whom should we give our hearts? This should be the appeal of every sincere parent, “My son, give me thine heart.” The Proverbs give many instances of the father and mother instructing, warning, and guiding the children. Children should give their hearts to the parents.

    It should be natural for children to hold their parents in the highest regard. The desire of children ought to be to please their parents above all else. However, sin can certainly damage that relationship. The last words of the Old Testament, referring to John the Baptist, say, “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6).

    This message definitely needs to be taken seriously in our day. Fathers need to turn their hearts to their children. Children need the love and attention of their parents. And children need to turn their hearts to their parents. This is something parents should be vigilant about. The Lord wants the parents to maintain a very special place in the hearts of their children. However, the temptation is real and powerful for young people to give their hearts to their peers. It is dangerous, yet very common, for children to be more concerned about pleasing their friends than their parents.

    Not only should the hearts of children be given to their parents, but we all should know also that God wants us to give Him our hearts. This is certainly the will of our Heavenly Father. “My son, give me thine heart.” We are to give our hearts to God. He wants, and deserves, to have first place in our lives. The safest place for our devotion and affection is with God. We ought to love Him supremely. We should strive to please Him above all others. Neither anyone nor anthing should mean more to us than our Lord.

    It is possible for us to be faithful in our church attendance, serve the Lord in various ways, and sing songs of praise to God and not really have our hearts surrendered to Christ. There will always be things such as responsibilities, friends, hobbies, careers, etc., that compete for the place that God wants in our hearts. We must not only guard our hearts, but make sure our Heavenly Father has them.

  • GIVE ME THINE HEART

    0

    “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.”
    Proverbs 23:26

    The heart is the center of our being. It is the place of devotion and affection. To whom should we give our hearts? This should be the appeal of every sincere parent, “My son, give me thine heart.” The Proverbs give many instances of the father and mother instructing, warning, and guiding the children. Children should give their hearts to the parents.

    It should be natural for children to hold their parents in the highest regard. The desire of children ought to be to please their parents above all else. However, sin can certainly damage that relationship. The last words of the Old Testament, referring to John the Baptist, say, “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6).

    This message definitely needs to be taken seriously in our day. Fathers need to turn their hearts to their children. Children need the love and attention of their parents. And children need to turn their hearts to their parents. This is something parents should be vigilant about. The Lord wants the parents to maintain a very special place in the hearts of their children. However, the temptation is real and powerful for young people to give their hearts to their peers. It is dangerous, yet very common, for children to be more concerned about pleasing their friends than their parents.

    Not only should the hearts of children be given to their parents, but we all should know also that God wants us to give Him our hearts. This is certainly the will of our Heavenly Father. “My son, give me thine heart.” We are to give our hearts to God. He wants, and deserves, to have first place in our lives. The safest place for our devotion and affection is with God. We ought to love Him supremely. We should strive to please Him above all others. Neither anyone nor anthing should mean more to us than our Lord.

    It is possible for us to be faithful in our church attendance, serve the Lord in various ways, and sing songs of praise to God and not really have our hearts surrendered to Christ. There will always be things such as responsibilities, friends, hobbies, careers, etc., that compete for the place that God wants in our hearts. We must not only guard our hearts, but make sure our Heavenly Father has them.

  • STIFFNECKED AND UNCIRCUMCISED IN HEART

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    “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.”
    Acts 7:51

    Stephen was giving his powerful defense of his faith in the Savior. His critics had falsely accused Stephen. They twisted his words and recruited false witnesses in an attempt to discredit his message of truth. Before the religious council, this man of God gave a summary of God’s dealings with Israel, including their habitual departures and idolatries. Stephen then spoke out boldly against the hypocrisy of the Jews and their role in crucifying the Lord Jesus Christ. In describing their stubbornness and carnality, he referred to them as being “stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears.” Of course, they did not appreciate Stephen’s assessment. His critics began to cry out against Stephen with a loud voice, ran upon him, took him out of the city, and murdered him by stoning.

    How could they be so blind, so deceived, and so cruel? The Spirit of God led Stephen to call them “stiffnecked.” This word is used several times in the Bible and is another way of saying “stubborn.” These Jews were obstinate. They were not willing to hear the truth. They were hardhearted and deceived. In Exodus 32:9, “…the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people.” God Himself calls them stiffnecked. They were not willing to listen to God
    or His messengers.

    This is a dangerous place to be. They were resisting the message and the messengers, but in reality, they were not willing to listen to God. Our text says of them, “ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.” In their stubbornness, they were unwilling to hear what God was saying. Though the Jews practiced circumcision as a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham, God was more interested in the condition of their hearts.

    God wants our hearts to be yielded and submissive to His truth. The Scripture’s reference to them as “uncircumcised in heart and ears” means they were carnal and fleshly in their hearts and listening habits. They could not or would not hear because of the carnality of their hearts and minds. They were thus resisting what God wanted to do in their lives. Resistance to the preacher usually indicates resistance to God. Our attitude influences our ability to hear. If we are not careful, our stubbornness, pride, or carnality can cause us to resist what God is saying.

  • STIFFNECKED AND UNCIRCUMCISED IN HEART

    0

    “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.”
    Acts 7:51

    Stephen was giving his powerful defense of his faith in the Savior. His critics had falsely accused Stephen. They twisted his words and recruited false witnesses in an attempt to discredit his message of truth. Before the religious council, this man of God gave a summary of God’s dealings with Israel, including their habitual departures and idolatries. Stephen then spoke out boldly against the hypocrisy of the Jews and their role in crucifying the Lord Jesus Christ. In describing their stubbornness and carnality, he referred to them as being “stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears.” Of course, they did not appreciate Stephen’s assessment. His critics began to cry out against Stephen with a loud voice, ran upon him, took him out of the city, and murdered him by stoning.

    How could they be so blind, so deceived, and so cruel? The Spirit of God led Stephen to call them “stiffnecked.” This word is used several times in the Bible and is another way of saying “stubborn.” These Jews were obstinate. They were not willing to hear the truth. They were hardhearted and deceived. In Exodus 32:9, “…the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people.” God Himself calls them stiffnecked. They were not willing to listen to God
    or His messengers.

    This is a dangerous place to be. They were resisting the message and the messengers, but in reality, they were not willing to listen to God. Our text says of them, “ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.” In their stubbornness, they were unwilling to hear what God was saying. Though the Jews practiced circumcision as a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham, God was more interested in the condition of their hearts.

    God wants our hearts to be yielded and submissive to His truth. The Scripture’s reference to them as “uncircumcised in heart and ears” means they were carnal and fleshly in their hearts and listening habits. They could not or would not hear because of the carnality of their hearts and minds. They were thus resisting what God wanted to do in their lives. Resistance to the preacher usually indicates resistance to God. Our attitude influences our ability to hear. If we are not careful, our stubbornness, pride, or carnality can cause us to resist what God is saying.

  • STIFFNECKED AND UNCIRCUMCISED IN HEART

    0

    “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.”
    Acts 7:51

    Stephen was giving his powerful defense of his faith in the Savior. His critics had falsely accused Stephen. They twisted his words and recruited false witnesses in an attempt to discredit his message of truth. Before the religious council, this man of God gave a summary of God’s dealings with Israel, including their habitual departures and idolatries. Stephen then spoke out boldly against the hypocrisy of the Jews and their role in crucifying the Lord Jesus Christ. In describing their stubbornness and carnality, he referred to them as being “stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears.” Of course, they did not appreciate Stephen’s assessment. His critics began to cry out against Stephen with a loud voice, ran upon him, took him out of the city, and murdered him by stoning.

    How could they be so blind, so deceived, and so cruel? The Spirit of God led Stephen to call them “stiffnecked.” This word is used several times in the Bible and is another way of saying “stubborn.” These Jews were obstinate. They were not willing to hear the truth. They were hardhearted and deceived. In Exodus 32:9, “…the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people.” God Himself calls them stiffnecked. They were not willing to listen to God
    or His messengers.

    This is a dangerous place to be. They were resisting the message and the messengers, but in reality, they were not willing to listen to God. Our text says of them, “ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.” In their stubbornness, they were unwilling to hear what God was saying. Though the Jews practiced circumcision as a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham, God was more interested in the condition of their hearts.

    God wants our hearts to be yielded and submissive to His truth. The Scripture’s reference to them as “uncircumcised in heart and ears” means they were carnal and fleshly in their hearts and listening habits. They could not or would not hear because of the carnality of their hearts and minds. They were thus resisting what God wanted to do in their lives. Resistance to the preacher usually indicates resistance to God. Our attitude influences our ability to hear. If we are not careful, our stubbornness, pride, or carnality can cause us to resist what God is saying.

  • MY MEDITATION OF HIM SHALL BE SWEET

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    “My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.”
    Psalm 104:34

    We are frequently reminded of the importance of our thought life. Our minds can easily wander. We can find ourselves thinking of negative things or daydreaming aimlessly. Our thinking will ultimately influence our emotions or feelings, and finally our actions. To gain control of our spiritual lives demands that we must first get control of our minds. Peter said it this way: “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind” (I Peter 1:13). We have to pull our thoughts together.

    The passage we are considering is concerned with more than just casual thoughts, but with “meditation.” “Meditation” means “to contemplate, to dwell on, and to think through.” Meditation involves a deliberate attempt to keep our minds focused on a particular subject or thought, allowing the thoughts to muse or ponder them deeply. In our text, the psalmist gives us some great advice on the content with which our minds should be absorbed: “My meditation of him.” Our meditation, and our
    contemplation, should be of Christ.

    Meditation alone is not the answer if we are not meditating on the proper things. We are taught in other places to meditate on the Word of God, as well as meditate on Him. We should meditate on His goodness. Meditate on the sacrifice of the cross and the sufficiency of His atoning death. Meditate on the power of His resurrection. Meditate on His intercessory ministry for us in Heaven. Meditate on His promise to return for us.

    Our “meditation of him shall be sweet.” It is pleasant to meditate upon the Lord that we serve and ponder His infinite grace and mercy. We also see in our Scripture the fruit of our thoughts. “I will be glad in the LORD.” Our meditation on Him will produce joy and peace in our hearts. There are so many opportunities in our lives to worry and be stressful. Many things seek to steal our joy and victory as Christians. When we allow our minds to be dominated with the negative and are consumed with our problems, it is no wonder that our gladness is replaced with sadness. Meditating on Christ will not cause our problems to disappear, but it will help us keep the right perspective as far as our problems are concerned. There is Someone larger than our struggles. Think about it. Think about Him.

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