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nChrist
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« on: January 10, 2006, 09:04:24 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Exodus 8:1-32

God's Separation

And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let My people go, that they may serve Me.

In a great many respects the righteous and unrighteous appear to be treated alike in this life. God "maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45). However, lest the righteous begin feeling sorry for themselves, we must not forget that a day of separation is coming when the Shepherd will divide His sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-33). The sun will not forever rise on the unrighteous.

But if we look more closely, even in this life God puts a division between His people and those of the world. Satan complained that God had made a hedge around Job. Solomon said that the Lord "is a shield to those who walk uprightly. He keepeth the paths of justice, and preserveth the way of His saints" (Proverbs 2:7-8).

A prime example of the Lord's protection for His people is the plagues of Egypt. After his death, there arose a king over Egypt who knew not Joseph. The Israelites became slaves with taskmasters set over them to afflict them. Moses was called of God to lead the Jews out of this land of bondage and into the promised land. But when Moses and Aaron confronted the Egyptian king about letting God's people go, the pharaoh only increased the burden on the Jews. The ruler hardened his heart and there began in Egypt a series of plagues the likes of which have not been seen since anywhere in the world.

First, their water supply turned to blood. Then frogs covered the land. Next, it was the plague of lice or gnats. After this the Lord said to Moses, "Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh" (Exodus 8:20). The man of God warned the Egyptian king that if he would not let God's people go, the land would become black with flies.

These were not ordinary houseflies but horseflies. They are described by the historian Philo and other travelers as a very severe scourge. More numerous and annoying than houseflies, these gadflies fasten themselves to the human body, especially around the edges of the eyelids, and suck blood from the agonized victim. They would swarm and fill the houses of the Egyptians causing severe pain and distress.

But here for the first time an additional promise is made. God said He would set apart the land of Goshen, where His people Israel dwelt, and absolutely no swarm of flies would enter there. A division between God's people and the people of Egypt was to be formed. In fact, this division meant redemption. God would redeem Israel and protect them from the devastating swarm.

The Bible clearly indicates the purpose of this division was "to the end thou mayest know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth." God's setting apart of the land of Goshen was calculated to impress the worldly Egyptians that Jehovah alone is God. This was no trick of Egyptian magic; it was the direct intervention of God in human affairs. Jehovah caused a plague to fall on the unrighteous and peace to fall on the righteous.

Even today the Lord is separating a people for His name. The believer is set apart as a testimony to the world that Jehovah is God and He is in absolute control of the universe. God's people are to be a distinct and blessed group, in the world but not of it. We are set apart from the penalty of sin that plagues the world around us. Likewise we are set apart unto service for the God who saved us. Let's praise Him today for His grace in our behalf.

MORNING HYMN
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home!

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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2006, 06:45:39 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Daniel 6:1-28

Persistence

Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.

We have all heard the adage "Persistence pays." There is one striking example in Scripture, however, when persistence did more than pay. In the case of Daniel persistence prospered.

The golden years of the Persian Empire were those of Darius the Great. Darius extended the empire from India to the Danube River, even to Greece itself. He also commanded his governors to aid in the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem (Ezra 6:1-12). In his desire to rule well his kingdom, Darius set one hundred twenty princes over the whole kingdom as vice-regents. Over these were three presidents, of whom Daniel was the first. Daniel's prosperity as first president evoked the jealousy of the other presidents, who sought to destroy him. So godly was this man that the only way he could be destroyed was through wretched trickery.

The presidents knew that Daniel would not forsake the law of his God and therefore they proposed an unalterable decree that no one should pray to any person other than the king for a period of thirty days. Unaware of their vicious intent, King Darius signed the decree.

Although Daniel knew that the law had been signed, nonetheless he continued his practice of kneeling before a window opened toward Jerusalem and giving thanks to the Lord three times a day. His envious colleagues laid in wait to catch Daniel forsaking the unalterable law of the Medes and Persians. When they advised the king that Daniel had disregarded his decree, the king was greatly distressed, for he thought highly of Daniel. Nevertheless, he followed through on the punishment for disobeying his decree and cast Daniel into the den of lions. A stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den so Daniel could not escape. His death was inevitable.

Throughout the night the king could not sleep, nor could his mind be soothed with music. He arose very early in the morning and went quickly to the den of lions (Daniel 6:19). Much to his amazement, Jehovah God had spared the life of Daniel and shut the lions' mouths. The king was glad to receive Daniel out of the lions' den safe and sound. After punishing those who had accused Daniel, Darius wrote a decree to all nations that the God of Daniel should be revered and respected as the living God.

The persistent prayer of Daniel may be viewed as a foolish practice, given the law of the Medes and the Persians. But persistence in godliness is never persistence in foolishness. In fact, persistence in doing what is right always leads to prosperity.

A South Carolina man passing out tracts once stopped at a house and rang the bell. He heard noises inside and knew that someone was in there, but no one came to the door. He rang the bell persistently. Finally a man appeared, grabbed the tract from his hand, and rudely slammed the door in his face.

A week later the Christian returned to that door and this time the man received him immediately. After he entered the house, the man took him to the attic to see a rope dangling from the rafters with a box beneath it. The man of the house said, "Friend, when you rang my doorbell last week, my head was in that noose, and I was ready to jump! But you were so persistent that I decided to go down and see who it was. While reading your tract God spoke to me. Instead of jumping off that box, I knelt beside it and gave my heart to the Lord."

Like Daniel of old, who was persistent in doing what is right, this Christian's persistence in ringing that doorbell led to another man's salvation. Regardless of what men may think, persistence in doing what is right always brings the prosperity of God.

MORNING HYMN
Truehearted, wholehearted, faithful and loyal,
King of our lives, by Thy grace we will be;
Under the standard exalted and royal,
Strong in Thy strength we will battle for Thee.

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« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2006, 08:48:58 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Judges 6:1-32

Discouragement

And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built.

The book of Judges recounts the history of Israel during the centuries which followed the conquest of the land of Canaan. These were checkered years in Israel's history, which frequently saw relapses into idolatry. After each time Israel turned aside from the Lord, Jehovah would graciously raise up a judge, who was a military not a judicial leader, to bring His chosen people back to Him. The cycle of relapse, repentance, and restoration occurred frequently during these turbulent centuries.

The narrative of Judges 6 opens with a record of the renewed idolatry of Israel. This time judgment came from the Midianites who swept down through the plain of Jezreel, terrorizing Israel as far south as Gaza. They did not permanently occupy the land, but each harvest season they would arrive unexpectedly and plunder the harvest. What spoil they could not carry away they destroyed. So insecure were the Israelites that they lived in dens, caves, and strongholds to seek safety for their possessions and for themselves.

But suddenly things changed. An angel of the Lord appeared under the great oak by Ophrah, a little township on the southwestern border of the territory of Manasseh. There Gideon, the son of Joash, was beating out wheat with a stick. He did so secretly and with constant apprehension that a wild band of Midianite bedouins might sweep down on him, taking his grain and his life.

Gideon is typical of many believers today. Although the angel of the Lord called him a "mighty man of valor," Gideon's clandestine operations at his father's winepress did not exhibit great valor. For seven years his people had been oppressed by the enemy and this mighty warrior was despondent and discouraged. The angel of the Lord appeared unto him at his lowest ebb to encourage him.

Gideon was startled at first by this stranger, not certain who he was. When the angel proclaimed that the Lord was with him, Gideon's questioning response was, "If the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us?" (Judges 6:13). Gideon believed that if Jehovah had not withdrawn Himself from Israel, the present Midianite calamity would never have occurred. As well, this mighty man of valor, like Moses of old, questioned why the Lord would choose him to deliver Israel. His family was poor in Manasseh and he was the least of his father's household. But in the midst of Gideon's concern the Lord God promised, "Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man."

Gideon was still not convinced. How did he know this person was really the angel of the Lord? Thus Gideon asked for a sign and the angel of the Lord flash-fired the flesh of a kid and unleavened cakes which Gideon had placed on a rock.

Having felt the hand of God upon his life and claiming the promise of divine presence and power, Gideon proceeded to be the delivering judge of Israel. At the command of the Lord he threw down the altar of Baal his father had built. In its place he built an altar unto Jehovah God. "And when the men of the city arose early in the morning behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down" (Judges 6:28). Who had done such a thing? The answer--Gideon, the son of Joash. The fearful men of the city stormed the house of Joash and demanded that he hand over his son to be slain. But the acts of an encouraged Gideon bred encouragement in the heart of his father as well. Joash challenged the men to allow Baal to plead for himself, if he truly was a god. It was becoming increasingly evident to the men of Ophrah that Baal was not a god to be feared, as was Jehovah.

All that was necessary for a discouraged people to rise up against their oppressors was for the heart of one man to be impressed with the presence and power of the Lord. How much the Gideons of the twentieth century need to recognize the still small voice of the Lord saying to them, "Surely I will be with thee." Be encouraged and let God do something courageous through you today.

MORNING HYMN
Take my life and let it be,
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee
Take my hands and let them move,
At the impulse of Thy love,
Take my feet and let them be,
Swift and beautiful for Thee;
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only, for my King.

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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2006, 07:21:10 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: 1 Kings 3:1-28

Practical Wisdom

“And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.”

“How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver” (Proverbs 16:16). These sentiments of Solomon, regarding the preference for wisdom over wealth, stem from a strange dream that changed his life.

Once Solomon attended a solemn procession to the altar at Gibeon, about five miles from Jerusalem. This is where the ancient Tabernacle yet stood. Here the king celebrated an elaborate, religious festival in which he offered a thousand burnt offerings on the altar built by Bezaleel nearly five centuries before. While at Gibeon, Solomon received a dream from the Lord, in which God demanded, "Ask what I shall give thee" (1 Kings 3:5). Solomon barely knew what to request from God. Then he remembered the great task that had been laid before him. He was the king of the chosen nation, a great people that could not be numbered for their multitude. Solomon asked for practical wisdom, the ability to discern between right and wrong and to make immediate judgments that were founded on the truth. He was not asking for spiritual discernment; he wanted to rule the people well. God was pleased with Solomon's concern to be a just ruler and thus granted Solomon's request and added riches, honor, and length of days as well.

An occasion soon arose to test this divine gift of practical wisdom. Two harlots came before the king bearing two children, one dead, one alive. Although their stories were conflicting they did agree both lived in the same house and recently, within days of one another, each gave birth to a child. One woman claimed that the dead child was the result of the other mother's carelessness in accidentally laying on the child during the night and suffocating it. She claimed that the other woman rose at midnight, took her living son from beside her, and placed the dead infant in its stead. When the woman arose in the morning to feed the child, she discovered it was dead (1 Kings 3:21). She also discovered in the morning, at the light of day, that it was not her child lifelessly lying beside her in bed. She claimed that the living child was hers. The other woman disputed the claim saying that the first woman's child had simply died and she was now trying to compensate for her loss by taking the live child to be her own.

The situation appeared hopeless. It was the perfect test for Solomon's practical wisdom. What would he do? The king resolved to appeal to the maternal instinct of the women He called for a sword to "divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other." Immediately the child's mother screamed and requested that the king give her own child to the other woman rather than see him slain. Solomon thus discerned which woman was telling the truth and presented the child to his mother.

The fame of this decision spread throughout all Israel, inspiring fear of the king's justice and a conviction that God had given Solomon exceptional discernment. Israel believed that he would carry out his administrative duties with supreme justice.

Solomon's wisdom, however, appears to have gone beyond mere practical shrewdness in everyday affairs: 1 Kings 4:29-34 indicates Solomon demonstrated significant literary ability in speaking three thousand proverbs and writing more than one thousand psalms. One of those proverbs was, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21). On this occasion, a happy mother had just realized the truth of those words.

MORNING HYMN
Hover o'er me, Holy Spirit,
Bathe my trembling heart and brow;
Fill me with thy hallow'd presence,
Come, O come and fill me now.

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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2006, 06:20:04 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Psalms 63:1-11

First Appointment

O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.

How amazing it is that finite creatures such as you and I may have fellowship with the infinite God. Yet this is our privilege as Christians; it is our right. But rights always bring responsibilities.

Psalm 63 is a gem of a morning psalm. The eloquent preacher of the fourth century, Chrysostom, testifies, "It was decreed and ordained by the primitive fathers, that no day should pass without the public singing of this psalm." It is easy to see why the early Christians sang this song aloud at the beginning of every day. They would start their song, "O God, Thou art my God." This is easy to say, but difficult to live. To say that God is our God conveys a great deal of benefit. Because He is our God, all that He has is ours as well. We are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17). Ours is not an empty relationship with God but one filled with great blessing, great benefit, great privilege.

But all of us who claim the Lord as our God don't just receive special favors from Him; we return special services to Him. This is why in Psalm 118:28 David says, "Thou art my God, and I will praise Thee: Thou art my God, I will exalt Thee." Because He is our God and because we have special rights it is incumbent upon us to exercise certain responsibilities. This David recognizes when he says, "O God, Thou art my God: early will I seek thee" (Psalm 63:1).

While as servants of God we may claim interest in Him, we also must exhibit our duty toward Him. Before all things, at the dawn of every day, before we seek anyone else, before we have our breakfast, "early will I seek Thee."

There seems to be a direct relationship between seeking God in the morning and success throughout the day. Dr. Andrew Bonar once wrote in his diary: "Tonight I gave myself to a time of waiting upon the Lord. I had not been much in the spirit of prayer, but now several things have become clear to me. I realize I have not communed enough with the Lord, nor come to Him as often as I should. Little forethought has been given to the requests I've made. There has been much conversing and outward engagement with men, but I have not been occupied enough with God Himself. I also realize that a closeness to Him gives abundant strength and is like sunlight shining through the clouds on a gloomy day." Bonar recognized that had he sought the Lord early, at the beginning of his day, and walked with Him consistently throughout the day, his evening time of waiting on the Lord in prayer would have been much more productive. The same is true for each of us.

Satisfaction for the soul cannot be found apart from fellowship with the Lord. David the psalmist sought to maintain his companionship with God from early morning until late at night. He made a practice of being in the "presence" of God throughout the day by the blessed privilege of prayer.

When our souls thirst for the Lord as our parched tongues thirst for water, when our appetite for righteousness equals our appetite for food, then we will make it a habit of rising early in the morning to make our first appointment of the day an appointment with God. He will be the first one on our minds in the morning, and the last one on our minds at night.

MORNING HYMN
When morning gilds the skies,
My heart awaking cries;
May Jesus Christ be praised;
Alike at work and prayer
To Jesus I repair;
May Jesus Christ be praised.

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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2006, 01:04:00 PM »

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

Getting Ahead of God

And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

It is sometimes disconcerting to board an airplane at the scheduled departure time and then have to endure a lengthy wait on the runway before being cleared for takeoff. Not only do you miss your appointments in a distant city, but you begin to wonder if the marvels of our space-age technology are so marvelous. Yet just as bad as an unscheduled delay would be an unscheduled hastening of the takeoff. You can imagine the turmoil if a flight scheduled for 2:00 o'clock departure left at 1:30. Getting ahead of what is designed can be just as devastating as falling behind.

Abraham was a great man of faith, a friend of God. When God called him to leave his homeland and go to an unknown destination, Abraham immediately obeyed. Later the Lord promised Abraham that his seed would be as numberless as the dust the earth. But Abraham remained childless. His only heir was Eliezer of Damascus, whom he had adopted. When he questioned God, Abraham was told, "This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own loins shall be thine heir. And He brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and count the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said to him, So shall thy seed be." Abraham believed this promise and the Lord counted it to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:4-6). Yet Abraham and his wife suffered from the same frailties all humans do. After years of expectation and disappointment, they began to wonder if the divine promise was really true. Barren Sarah decided to take matters into her own hands. She had an Egyptian handmaid whose name was Hagar. Herself not able conceive, Sarah convinced Abraham to take Hagar as his wife that she might bear him a son.

Although this was a common practice in the Ancient Near East, nevertheless it was not the fulfillment of God's promise. The appointed time for the birth of Abraham's heir had not yet arrived, but Sarah wanted to force the issue. Shortly Abraham was presented with a son, but by Hagar, not Sarah. An angel of the Lord had previously instructed Hagar to name the child Ishmael. But the heavenly messenger also warned that the child would be a wild man and every man's hand would be against him.

It wasn't until twenty-four years later that the Lord performed a miracle for Sarah and the son of promise was born. Although Abraham was now one hundred years old, this was the promised time and Isaac was the promised son. On the eighth day Isaac was circumcised and months later Abraham made a great feast when the child was weaned. At this festive occasion the behavior of Ishmael betrayed his jealousy. He taunted his young half brother, mocked and ridiculed baby Isaac. As Sarah viewed this it raised her motherly dander. She demanded of her husband, "Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac" (Genesis 21:10).

This grieved Abraham very much for Ishmael was his own flesh and blood. But God comforted him assuring him that, although Isaac was indeed the promised seed, nevertheless God would also make of Ishmael a great nation. Thus, "Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water," and bid Hagar and the boy a sad good-bye (Genesis 21:14).

God was kind to Ishmael and providentially protected his mother and him. But it was clear that Isaac was the child of promise, not Ishmael. Ishmael was the result of the impatience of Abraham and Sarah. The wild man was born because this couple got ahead of God. They believed that God would provide the promised seed but mistakenly attempted to speed up God's timetable. God performs what He promises, but always in His own time. "Wait on the LORD be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the LORD" (Psalm 27:14). That's good advice for us today.

MORNING HYMN
My Jesus, as Thou wilt!
O may Thy will be mine;
Into Thy hand of love
I would my all resign.
Thro' sorrow, or thro' joy,
Conduct me as Thine own;
And help me still to say,
My Lord, Thy will be done.

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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2006, 06:21:02 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Joshua 7:1-26

Sin in the Camp

Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken.

Israel had just won the biggest battle in its military history. The impregnable fortress of Jericho was destroyed by the mighty hand of God. The inhabitants of Canaan trembled in terror before the armies of Israel. But as is frequently the case, a great victory had made them susceptible to a great defeat.

With the ashes of Jericho behind it, Israel now faced the next battle in its conquest of Canaan. Situated east of Bethel, in the foothills of the Judean highlands, was the tiny town of Ai. When spies returned from scouting this town they reported that three thousand soldiers were needed to seize this tiny, indefensible town. What they did not know was that, whereas God had gone with them into battle at Jericho, because of sin in their ranks God would not go with them in battle at Ai. The Israelites soon learned that the difference between victory and defeat is not military strength but the presence of the Lord.

The men of Ai routed the Israelite force, slaying thirty-six of them and chasing the rest all the way to Shebarim. Licking their wounds, they returned to Joshua and the elders who immediately fell on their faces before the ark of the Lord. Joshua thought he had been abandoned by God, but the Lord quickly revealed to him that the defeat at Ai was due to sin in the camp of Israel. "So he rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes (Joshua 7:16). The tribe of Judah was indicated. Then all the families of Judah were marched before Joshua and Zerah pointed out as head of the sinning family. From the family Zerahites, man by man, they were escorted into the presence Joshua and Zabdi was taken. The household of Zabdi remained and Achan, the son of Carmi, was accused.

Joshua bade Achan to give glory to the Lord God of Israel and make a public confession. Achan confessed that his sin began innocently enough when he saw the spoils of war. But immediately that simple sight degenerated into covetousness and to actually taking the accursed thing. But worse than that, because he thought he could get away with his sin, he hid the beautiful garment and the silver and gold he took in the earth beneath his tent. Although succumbing to the temptation to sin was evil enough, Achan's greatest mistake was thinking that he could hide that sin from God.

That we can never successfully hide our sin from God is the teaching of Jesus' parable of the lighted candle. Luke 8:16-17 records, "No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candle-stick, that they which enter in may see the light. For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be made known and come abroad." The seeing eye of God searches even the innermost secrets of men. No sin, however large or small, escapes the eye of God.

Exodus 2 describes how Moses spied an Egyptian smiting a Hebrew, and he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no man watching him he slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand (Exodus 2:12). The very next day however Moses' sin was discovered and he had to flee from the land of the Pharaoh and spend the next forty years in Midian. Moses' sin was unsuccessfully hidden. Beloved King David had a similar experience. After sinning with Bathsheba and attempting to cover his sin through the death of Uriah the Hittite, the trespass of David soon came to light when Nathan the prophet pointed his finger in the king's face and said, "Thou art the man" (2 Samuel 12:7). In remorse King David said, "O God, Thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from Thee" (Psalm 69:5).

>From the sad experiences of Achan and these others, let us learn well the truth that sin is never successfully hidden. We cannot hide our sin from God; we only can deal with it. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Don't try to hide sin today; let God forgive it instead.

MORNING HYMN
Depth of mercy! Can there be
mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear
Me, the chief of sinners spare?

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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2006, 06:22:54 AM »

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.

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« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2006, 05:01:27 PM »

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?
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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2006, 06:32:13 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: 1 Samuel 3:1-21

A Father's Failure

And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to show Eli the vision.

The Bible is filled with remarkable contrasts between people. For example, consider Samuel and the sons of Eli. Samuel, who was not Eli's son but was nurtured in the Lord by Eli, was a young man who found favor in the eyes of God. Hophni and Phinehas, who were Eli's sons but were not nurtured in the Lord by Eli, found nothing but shame in the eyes of God.

Born in answer to prayer and dedicated at birth by his mother to the service of the Lord, Samuel was trained at Shiloh by Eli the priest. His heart was tender toward the Lord and his ears were open to hear God's voice. Eli's sons were "sons of Belial" and instead of being content with that portion of the sacrifices allotted to them by law, they devised devious means of obtaining greater portions of the sacrifice. Moreover, they profaned the Tabernacle with their licentious practices at the very door of the house of God.

1 Samuel 3:13 correctly describes the attitude which led to the downfall of Hophni and Phinehas. Speaking of Eli's sons the Bible says, "His sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not." Here is a classic case of a man so involved in his ministry that he neglected his family. Someone has said, perhaps with tongue in cheek, that if a man sees his sons going down the wrong track, probably it's because he did not switch them soon enough. Eli certainly failed to "switch" his sons and keep them on track for God.

During those days of crisis God had been strangely silent. "The word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision." But God decided to speak face to face with Samuel and in the middle of the night called out to him. The young child's immediate response was, "Here am I." Samuel ran to the bedside of Eli, assuming the voice was his. The priest sent him back to bed, perhaps thinking that the young lad was only dreaming. Twice again this strange phenomenon occurred, and finally Eli recognized this to be the voice of God. His advice to Samuel was that the next time the voice called he should answer, "Speak LORD; for thy servant heareth." The boy returned to bed.

When the Lord called him again, Samuel answered as Eli had instructed, "And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle." Jehovah was about to judge Eli and his family for their failure to heed His word and for the sons' unrighteousness at the temple door. Being the bearer of such information to one who had been both his mentor and friend would not be an easy task for Samuel. He lay until the morning awaiting God's courage (1 Samuel 3:15). When asked by Eli in the morning what the Lord spoke to him through the night, Samuel reluctantly imparted that information to the priest.

In the contrast between Samuel and Hophni and Phinehas it is worthy to note that while Hophni and Phinehas were born into their service, there is no evidence that they ever appreciated their position before the Lord. Samuel, on the other hand, was born outside of the service of God but was dedicated to it at birth. Had Eli "switched" his sons more often and instilled in them a reverence for the Lord, as he did with Samuel, the ears of Israel would have had no occasion to tingle at the tragic deaths of Eli and his wicked sons (see 1 Samuel 4:10-22). Fathers, take care that you don't "gain the whole world but lose your own family."

MORNING HYMN
Take the world, but give me Jesus
All its joys are but a name;
But His love abideth ever
Through eternal years the same.

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« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2006, 06:24:19 AM »

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.

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« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2006, 07:01:13 AM »

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.

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« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2006, 05:29:10 AM »

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.

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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2006, 05:30:50 AM »

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.

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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2006, 12:08:10 AM »

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!

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