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nChrist
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« Reply #300 on: November 06, 2006, 11:05:28 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Isaiah 26:1-21

Prayer and Peace

With my soul have I desired Thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek Thee early: for when Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

One of the prevailing themes of both Old and New Testaments is the constant presence of peace in the hearts of those who abide in God. The prophet Isaiah said it this way, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3). Literally Isaiah said, "Thou wilt keep him in peace, peace." Or God will keep us in double peace. He will give us a double portion of peace when our minds rest on Him.

Likewise in the New Testament Jesus taught His disciples that His very presence would bring them peace. He said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth give I unto you" John 14:27). He told His disciples, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

The apostle Paul understood the principle of fixing our minds on God and enjoying His peace. He counseled the Colossian believers to "let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful" (Colossians 3:15). If our minds are stayed upon God, His peace will rule the affairs entertained by our minds. If, on the other hand, we allow our minds to dwell on the cares of this world, God's peace will be far from our thoughts.

It is for this very reason that the apostle told the Philippian believers, "Be careful for nothing" or be full of care about nothing "but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7). The peace of God that garrisons our hearts and minds cannot exist alongside the cares of this life. Each of us must make the decision whether our minds will dwell on those things that trouble us or on the power of God to deliver us. A mind full of care can be a mind full of peace. The difference is only a prayer away.

Isaiah was in the habit of seeking God in the middle of the night. When the thick clouds of sorrow overshadowed his heart and he no longer could endure the disappointments of that day, he did not allow his mind to dwell on those disappointments, but rather on the Lord's deliverance. Rather than lay his head on a pillow of doubt, he would lay it on the pillow of dependence on the Lord God.

Isaiah continued, "Yea, with my spirit within me will I seek Thee early" (Isaiah 26:9). The experience of meeting the Lord in the darkness of midnight and having his mind freed from fear enabled the prophet to face the new day, eagerly awaiting an additional measure of God's peace. Thus he determined that his spirit would seek the Lord early, fully confident that the Lord would answer his prayer: "Lord, Thou wilt ordain peace for us: for Thou also hast wrought all our works in us" (Isaiah 26:12).

The pattern for dealing with the cares of this world is the same for us today. God has designed us to live at peace with Him, with our world and with ourselves. But we can do this only as we turn our cares over to Him in exchange for His ruling peace. Whatever difficulties you faced yesterday and wrestled with through the night last night, give them early this morning to the Lord, and let Him replace your cares with the comfort of His peace. Remember, God's peace is but a prayer away.

MORNING HYMN

Peace! peace! wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above;
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray,
In fathomless billows of love.

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« Reply #301 on: November 07, 2006, 01:49:56 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Exodus 24:1-18

Reasonable Service


And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

Consecration to the Lord requires separation from evil, devotion to God, and the endless pursuit of holiness. Although the Lord would have all His children be fully consecrated to His service, He requires of us "reasonable" service (Romans 12:1). Consecration made under the influence of emotion or the excitement of the moment is not to be trusted. The believer must carefully, prayerfully and reasonably count the cost of discipleship before committing his life in service to the Lord.

After the great law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai, God sought ratification of the covenant He had made with the Israelites. Once again Moses ascended the holy mountain, this time with Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and 70 of the elders of Israel. When they descended again, Moses relayed to the people all the ordinances of God's covenant. As soon as the terms of the covenant were known, "the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do" (Exodus 24:3). Immediately Moses sensed that the people were too readily consecrating themselves to the ordinances of God's covenant and had not counted the cost. Thus Moses maneuvered to make their consecration more reasonable.

First Moses purposely prolonged the process of consecration. He did not permit the people to ratify the covenant at once. Instead, this great man of God wrote down all the words of the Lord and went to bed. He "rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel" (Exodus 24:4). The altar was built in preparation for the sacrifice without which no covenant was considered binding. By making the people wait one day before they could officially ratify the covenant, Moses reduced the emotional influence of the Israelites' hasty acceptance of the covenant.

Secondly, Moses surrounded the ratification of the covenant and the consecration with impressive ceremonies. He sent the young men, perhaps the firstborn of the families--since the Levitical order had not yet been instituted--and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord. This was to be a solemn occasion, one that the Israelites would not soon forget.

Thirdly, great pains were taken to insure that the people understood the terms of the covenant. They could not properly consecrate themselves to God if they did not fully comprehend what their consecration meant. Not only did Moses relay the words of the Lord to the people when he descended from the mountain, but now, a day later, he read from the book of the covenant in the hearing of all the people. Moses wanted to be absolutely convinced that the people were making a rational decision to give their lives in service to the Lord.

Finally, Moses took the blood of the sacrifice and sprinkled it on the people, saying, "Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words." It was the blood that sealed the covenant. It was the symbol of the covenant. The blood of the sacrifice was placed upon the people to etch in their minds that they were chosen of God and now consecrated to Him.

Choosing a life of consecration to the Lord should be a sensible, reasonable, thoughtful act. The decision to give yourself to God and His service is a solemn act based in reason, not in emotion. It is indeed praiseworthy for a believer to consecrate his life to the Lord, but he must never do so lightly or thoughtlessly. Before committing your life in service to God today, count the cost, for "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).

MORNING HYMN
All for Jesus, all for Jesus!
All my being's ransomed pow'rs:
All my tho'ts and words and doings,
All my days and all my hours.

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« Reply #302 on: November 08, 2006, 08:13:34 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: John 8:1-32

The Gift of Criticism

And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down, and taught them.

It was after a church service one morning in which the minister had preached on spiritual gifts that he was greeted at the door by a lady who said, "Pastor, I believe I have the gift of criticism." The pastor looked at her and asked, "Remember the person in Jesus' parable who had the one talent?" The woman nodded her understanding. "Do you recall what he did with it?" "Yes," replied the lady, "he went out and buried it." The pastor suggested, "Go, thou, and do likewise!"

The Pharisees and Sadducees apparently felt they too had the gift of criticism. Frequently they attempted to ensnare the Lord Jesus. As was the Master's habit, He entered Jerusalem, crossing the Mount of Olives; and "early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down and taught them" (John 8:2). His reappearance in the temple provided an opportunity for the Pharisees and scribes to lay a subtle snare for Him. They brought a woman taken in the very act of adultery. The Feast of Tabernacles had just been celebrated, and acts of immorality during that festive week were not unusual. The scribes attempted to put Christ in a dilemma by quoting the law of Moses. They knew that if He answered that the woman should be stoned, He would violate the Roman law, which forbade such acts. However, if Jesus answered that the woman should not be stoned, He would be violating Moses' law (Deuteronomy 22:24).

The religious leaders were not so much interested in the adulterous woman as they were in Jesus' response to her situation. Their criticism of her was motivated by their desire to entrap Him. But Christ knew well how to repel such attacks by an appeal to higher principles. The same law that adjudged the guilty to be stoned to death also required the witnesses to cast the first stones. Jesus' statement, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her," was sure to bring an end to their criticism. The crowd, one by one, stealthily left the scene. Ironically the only one who was left was the Lord Jesus, the only one of the crowd who had lived a perfect life and had a right to condemn her.

This very teaching is reiterated by the Apostle Paul in Romans 8. Paul asks the hypothetical questions, "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? . . . who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us" (Romans 8:31, 33-34). Only the mind of God could conceive of a plan whereby the one person who lived a righteous life and had the right to condemn us was the very person who laid down that life to die for us. The woman taken in adultery was speaking to the one who did not come into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world.

One businessman keeps a fairly large stone on his desk. The stone is mounted and lettered with one word: "First." This acts as a constant reminder to him of Jesus' words, "He that is without sin . . . let him first cast a stone." When his employees enter his office and there is reason to criticize them for their lack of achievement, the man looks at the stone and recalls his own shortcomings. He deals with his employees in mercy and grace.

This passage of Scripture does not teach us to look the other way when people sin. It does not teach us that we ought to condone adultery or any other crime. What it does teach us, however, is that it is not the responsibility of a Christian continually to be on the lookout for sin in other Christians--or anyone else for that matter. If we have lived a perfect life, we can be watchdogs on others who have not lived a perfect life. But we have enough trouble keeping ourselves in line; we need not constantly be critical of the way others live. Jesus was teaching the critical religious leaders of His day that although the woman was a great sinner, she was no greater a sinner than they were. We must remember the same as we meet others 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.

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« Reply #303 on: November 12, 2006, 11:03:19 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Judges 7:1-25

Glory to God

Then Jerubbaal who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.

Natural man has a penchant for trying to explain away God. The theory of evolution was developed in an attempt to remove God from the arena of creation. Liberal theologians have attempted to demythologize the Bible in order to remove the miraculous works of God from it. Man does all he can to explain naturally the divinely originated phenomena in our world.

God has always been aware of man's desire to usurp His position and authority. Frequently in Scripture can be found accounts where God places men in deliberate situations so they must recognize that their deliverance is solely of Him. When God removes the possibility of any natural explanation, man is left with the inevitable conclusion that God is in the miracle business. Such was the case in our Scripture today.

Israel was assembled and ready for battle. Already the fight had been stayed two days by the dewy and dry fleece so that Gideon could receive a token of God's presence with them. Now the fight was to be delayed again.

On the morning following the second test with the fleece, Gideon and all the people with him "rose up early and pitched beside the well of Harod" (Judges 7:1). Anxious for the battle, they had already moved into military position when God told Gideon he had too many people in His army. Jehovah wanted to be certain that Gideon, as well as Israel and the nations watching, would understand that Israel had won the battle by the hand of God. Therefore he instructed Gideon to command any of the 32,000 troops who were afraid to return home from the front. Much to the surprise of Gideon, 22,000 admitted their fear and retreated. Surely if a battle was won by 10,000 Israeli troops against 135,000 Midianites (Judges 8:10), this would indicate that the victory was the Lord's. But again Jehovah surprised Gideon by indicating that these 10,000 troops were still far too many.

Gideon was to take the troops to the spring of Harod for a strange and severe test. The soldiers were divided into two groups, those who lapped water as a dog and those who dropped to their knees to drink. Whatever the purpose of the test, only 300 soldiers were selected for Gideon's army.

Next God instructed Gideon to go with his servant, Phurah, down to the perimeter of the Midianite encampment and eavesdrop on the Midianites. They overheard one soldier telling another of his dream about a cake of barley bread that rolled into the Midian camp, against the king's tent, and flattened it. His fellow soldier interpreted the dream that this was none other than the sword of Gideon and that God was about to deliver Midian into Gideon's hands. So evident was it that this dream and the interpretation had both come from God that Gideon immediately returned to the host of Israel and said, "Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian." Three hundred men defeated the entire Midianite army and the glory belonged entirely to God.

We must never shy away from impossible situations. When the odds seem least favorable for our success, that is when God can gain the greatest glory from our success. Large armies are not as admirable as dedicated ones. The recruiting slogan of the United States Marine Corps includes the words, "A few good men." God is looking for the same. Will you be one today?

MORNING HYMN
On ev'ry hand the foe we find
Drawn up in dread array;
Let tents of ease be left behind,
And onward to the fray!
Salvation's helmet on each,
With truth all girt about:
The earth shall tremble 'neath our tread
And echo with our shout.

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« Reply #304 on: November 12, 2006, 11:05:12 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Luke 21:1-38

God's Unfailing Word

And all the people came early in the morning to Him in the temple, for to hear Him.

Throughout His teaching ministry Jesus' message enjoyed increasing appreciation. Thousands thronged around Him, not only to view His powers of healing and raising the dead, but also to hear His words. Jesus was more than a prophet, a priest, and a king. The gospel writers describe Him as a preacher and teacher as well. Just before the Passion Week Luke records that Jesus taught daily in the Temple, "And all the people came early in the morning to Him in the temple, for to hear Him" (Luke 21:38). His message was not just novel; it was truth.

Much of what Jesus taught daily in the Temple was prophetic in nature. In the early part of Luke 21 Jesus passed through the temple treasury and commented on the splendor of the magnificent Temple. However, Jesus predicted that it would be destroyed, and His words are descriptive of the days leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70.

The latter half of this chapter is a prophecy concerning Jerusalem during the great tribulation period of this earth. He describes it as a time in which there shall be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars. Men's hearts will fail them for fear. The powers of the heavens shall be shaken. Jesus taught the crowds who followed Him early in the morning to the Temple that God would unleash His vengeance on a sinful world before the Son of Man rode out of heaven in power and great glory to establish His kingdom on this earth (cf. Revelation 19:11-16).

As the people came daily to hear the teachings of the Lord, He knew that His time was quickly coming to an end on this earth. Therefore He reminded them that "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away" (Luke 21:33). It is evident that the Word of God, whether given verbally by the Lord Jesus or inscribed by God in the Holy Bible, is more unshakable than the universe itself. The same God who has the power to shake the very heavens also has the power to make unshakable His Word. While the heavens will not stand according to the prophecy of Jesus, the Word of God will always stand.

Today, in the twentieth century, Jesus does not speak to us and teach us as He did early in the morning in the temple, but He still speaks to us through His Word, God's Word the Holy Bible. We have the benefit of hearing the very same teaching that these heard who came at the dawning of the day to the temple. We can sit at the feet of Jesus today by reading His Word.

H. A. Ironside told of a godly man named Andrew Frazer, who had come to southern California to recover from a serious illness. Though this Irishman was quite weak, he opened his worn Bible and began expounding the truths of God's Word in a way that Ironside had never heard before. So moved by Frazer's words was Ironside, that his curiosity drove him to ask, "Where did you learn these things? Did you learn them in some college or seminary?" The sickly man said, "My dear young man, I learned these things on my knees on the mud floor of a little sod cottage in the north of Ireland. There, with my open Bible before me, I used to kneel for hours at a time and ask the Spirit of God to reveal Christ to my soul and to open the Word to my heart. He taught me more on my knees on that mud floor than I ever could have learned in all the seminaries or colleges in the world."

To spend time in the Word of God yields a much richer understanding of the deep things of theology than to spend time in a classroom. For the person denied a formal education in Bible and theology there is no shame if we spend time at the feet of Jesus. From early in the morning, throughout the day, and into the evening hours the great scholars of the Word become so because of time spent in God's Book and on their knees. Each of us has the same opportunity to do that. Let's take that opportunity today.

MORNING HYMN
Thy Word is like a garden, Lord, With flowers bright and fair;
And ev'ryone who seeks may pluck A lovely cluster there.
Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine, And jewels rich and rare
Are hidden in its mighty depths For ev'ry searcher there.

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« Reply #305 on: November 12, 2006, 11:07:27 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Judges 6:16-40

Fleece or Faith

And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.

Discouraged and pathetic, Israel needed a champion. God had chosen His man. The angel of the Lord appeared unto Gideon, a mighty man of valor, and encouraged him with the promise of God's presence and power. Gideon had broken down the altar to Baal. Idolatry throughout the land of Israel was pounded with a heavy blow. Jehovah alone was now worshipped in Ophrah, and the fame of Gideon spread throughout the land. It was apparent that Gideon was the man behind whom all Israel could rally.

Once again the Midianite Bedouins swarmed across the land. Gideon knew that the time for battle had come, but this time he was ready. Judges 6:34 says, "The Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon." Literally the Spirit of Jehovah clothed Gideon like a garment. The once discouraged and despondent young farmer of Ophrah was now suited up for battle in the armor of the Spirit of God. When he sounded the mustering trumpet, immediately all of the clan of Abiezer gathered around him. Messengers were sent throughout all the land. From Naphtali, Zebulun, Asher, and Manasseh they came, prepared to fight under the leadership of Gideon.

All was ready for the mighty battle, but one thing more troubled Gideon. Again he asked a sign from the Lord. Seeking a sign from God was characteristic of Jewish behavior (1 Corinthians 1:22). With troops arrayed for battle, Gideon spread a fleece of wool on the ground and said to the Lord God, "If the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that Thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as Thou hast said." A heavy dew is very common in the highlands of Palestine. Even today clothes left outdoors overnight must be wrung out in the morning. Although energized for battle, the entire camp of Israel waited throughout the night for the sign from God.

The Scripture records that Gideon rose up early on the next morning and wrung enough dew out of the fleece to fill a bowl full of water (Judges 6:38). Miracle accomplished! However, Gideon entreated the grace and patience of the Lord again and asked Jehovah to reverse the sign. One more night the Israelites waited before entering battle. In the morning the ground was saturated with dew but the fleece was entirely dry. This was proof positive that God was in this battle and that Gideon was His chosen leader.

Frequently much indecision and lack of courage is camouflaged under the guise of "putting out the fleece." Such a practice is not always an admirable one, nor does it always produce admirable results.

When John Wesley was a 32-year-old missionary in Georgia, he fell deeply in love with a young woman he wanted to marry. Some of his friends suggested that perhaps God would have the evangelist remain unmarried and devote his life to his work. One even suggested they draw lots in order to discern God's will for Wesley. The evangelist agreed. Three small slips of paper were prepared: one said, "Marry"; the second, "Think not of it this year"; and the third, "Think of it no more." Wesley drew a slip and with much sadness read, "Think of it no more." Heartbroken, he ended his courtship. Fifteen years later Wesley married a wealthy widow who became a hindrance to his ministry. After 20 years of mutual misery, she left him. He had allowed a fleece to determine his fortune.

When God sets up the parameters, encourages us in a given situation, and calls us to action, let's not be guilty of "fleecing" Him. How much better if Gideon had been remembered for his faith, as was Abraham, than for his fleece. For what will you be remembered?

MORNING HYMN
I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus
Trusting only Thee;
Trusting Thee for full salvation, Great and free.
I am trusting Thee to guide me,
Thou alone shalt lead,
Ev'ry day and hour supplying All my need.

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« Reply #306 on: November 12, 2006, 11:10:33 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: 1 Samuel 15:1-35

Incomplete Obedience

And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.

Incomplete obedience is the half brother of disobedience. Not to obey God explicitly is to disobey Him implicitly. Saul is an example of this kind of disobedience.

Several great military victories over Moab, Ammon, Edom, and the kings of Zobah all strengthened Saul's position as king of Israel and secured for him the loyalty of the people. He was their hero, and he was beginning to know it.

Still the great Bedouin tribe of the Amalekites continued to harass the Jews. In the wilderness at Sinai in the past and in the days of Gideon these Amalekites repeatedly attacked the Israelites without provocation. Thus through the prophets God told Saul to kill the wicked Amalekites and destroy all their livestock. He wanted His people to realize just how much He hates sin, and thus God would not allow them to be enriched in any way by the conquests of their ungodly neighbors.

Mustering a force of 2,000 infantrymen and an additional 10,000 men from Judah, Saul marched to the south against the Amalekites. Saul's victory over the Amalekites was complete and decisive. The Israelite army annihilated the entire tribe as God had commanded. But Saul did something that God did not command, in fact, something that He explicitly prohibited. "And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive . . . and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them."

Twice before Saul had shown himself unfit for leadership because of his disobedience to God. Now God indicated to Samuel that Saul could no longer be king because of his disobedience and rebellion; he would be rejected by God. So distressing was this news to Samuel that he cried unto the Lord all night long, but to no avail. Jehovah's mind was set; Saul must go. Reluctant to deliver such a message to the king and having wrestled about it with God all night, Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning (I Samuel 15:12).

When Samuel approached Saul at Gilgal, Saul piously greeted him, "Blessed be thou of the LORD," as if he had done nothing wrong. In fact, he reported, "I have performed the commandment of the LORD." But Samuel knew otherwise and pointedly asked the king, "What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" Bleating sheep and lowing oxen are seldom informers, but in this instance they revealed the partial disobedience of the king, demonstrating again the principle of Numbers 32:23, "Be sure your sin will find you out."

Embarrassed that his disobedience had been discovered but always ready with an explanation, Saul violated his leadership and squarely blamed the people for this sin. Samuel rehearsed in Saul's ears what the Lord had commanded him to do and how he had failed to keep the Lord's command. Assuming that the prophet would be pacified by the prospects of a sacrifice to Jehovah, Saul thought he had devised the perfect excuse for disobedience. How could God not be pleased with a sacrifice? But Samuel countered, "Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD?" There was no answer. Saul was trapped in his disobedience.

The lesson that Saul failed to learn is one that we must not fail to learn from him. Samuel taught the king, "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice." Obeying the voice of God can never become subservient to acts of worship or service. Obedience is the primary response necessary from a servant to his master. Partial obedience merely betrays rebellion against our master. Thus partial obedience is in reality disobedience. First, last, and always obedience is the best thing.

MORNING HYMN
When we walk with the Lord In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

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« Reply #307 on: November 13, 2006, 01:54:30 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: John 21:1-25

Come and Dine

But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

Have you ever noticed that the most difficult time to serve the Lord is immediately after a defeat in your life? When we are on a spiritual high, serving the Lord comes almost naturally. But when we experience the roller-coaster ride to the depths of despair after some spiritual tragedy, we have a tendency to become complacent. While activity tends to produce additional activity, inactivity also reproduces itself.

The popularity of Jesus Christ had been building throughout His earthly ministry. Thousands of people followed Him through the hills of Galilee, watching His miracles and listening to His teachings. The disciples had become an intimate group, well known for their association with Jesus. As His popularity grew, so did their own.

The culmination of their intimate relationship with the Lord came the night of His betrayal. He had gathered the disciples in the upper room to keep the Passover. They were all there. They ate with the Lord, prayed with Him, sang hymns with Him, pledged their loyalty to Him. Around this meal, the institution of the Lord's supper, the disciples reached a spiritual high. Their heightened spirits, however, were soon to be dashed. Jesus was led away from the garden, He endured a cruel and illegal trial, and the disciples were dispersed. Even though Jesus again and again had told them that He must suffer the cruelty of the cross, the disciples still did not assimilate this tenet of His teaching. With His death and burial the disciples' balloon had burst. Even the resurrection of the Lord and the immediate post-resurrection appearances did not do much to reassure the disciples.

As instructed by the Lord Himself, the disciples returned to Galilee. Their meeting with Jesus on the mountain of Galilee, where He had appointed them, must have been subsequent to the account of our Scripture for today. Seven of the apostles had returned to their vocation as fishermen. How easy it was to be a follower of the Lord when He was present; how easy it was to return to their occupation in His absence.

It was Peter who first suggested that he would go fishing. This does not necessarily imply that he intended to renounce his apostleship in favor of the fishing trade. This is what he knew best; this is what he would do until the Lord commanded him otherwise. Hence Peter and the others entered into a ship and fished all night, but caught nothing. How could this be? Had they lost the knack of fishing during their years with the Messiah? Why were they so unsuccessful at a business in which they had been extremely successful before Jesus called them to discipleship? Throughout the night they fished without any success at all.

"But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore" (John 21:4). For some providential reason the disciples did not recognize the stranger standing on the shore. As He called to them and inquired how successful they had been, they had to answer that they were extremely unsuccessful in fishing that night. It was the resurrected Lord, keeping His rendezvous with them in Galilee. But they did not recognize this until He commanded them to cast their nets on the other side of the ship. This was reminiscent of a similar but earlier command of the Lord with the same result (Luke 5:1-11).

When the disciples had hauled in an incredible number of fish, they came to the shore at Jesus' invitation to "Come and dine" (John 21:12). It was almost as if the Lord was reigniting the fire of intimacy and love that had cooled since their last supper together. Jesus Christ did not want His disciple band to become complacent, for complacency is kin to disobedience.

After we have once served the Lord well and lived in intimate relationship with Him, it is easy to become complacent, to drift from Him and not to sit at His table. However, the Lord calls to each of us to "come and dine"; and if we are to be an effective and useful tool in the Master's hand, we must find our feet under His table frequently.

MORNING HYMN
Revive us again fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.
Hallelujah, Thine the glory! Hallelujah, amen!
Hallelujah, Thine the glory! Revive us again.

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« Reply #308 on: November 15, 2006, 07:33:50 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: 1 Samuel 17:1-27

Little Things

And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.

Occasionally it is necessary to remind ourselves that success in life often depends upon little things. Little people, little tasks and little responsibilities often loom large in the eyes of God.

The Philistines waged frequent raids on Israel. The leader of the Philistines, a giant of tremendous stature named Goliath of Gath, was probably one of the Anakim (Numbers 13:33; Joshua 11:22), a strain of huge men that Joshua drove out of Hebron and who took refuge among the Philistines. No Israelite was a match for Goliath, especially not little David, who was sent to the battlefield to inquire of the welfare of his three elder brothers, Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah. David's task was a small one; he was entrusted with very little. Told to take his brothers an ephah of parched corn, ten loaves and ten cheeses for the captain of the army, David set out to the battlefield. This day began with a small task, but it was to be a momentous day in the history of Israel.

"David rose up early in the morning, and left his sheep with a keeper" and engaged in the small chore his father had commissioned to him (1 Samuel 17:20). As he talked with his brothers, behold the Philistine champion came out again to challenge the Israelites. The armies of Israel stood by, trembling in their sandals; but David was appalled and amazed at the fear that paralyzed the Israelite warriors. Not willing to see his nation shamed or his God embarrassed, he inquired why someone did not stand up to the godless Goliath. "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" Immediately his eldest brother whisked him away to quiet him. Someone entrusted with such a small task as bringing bread and cheese to his soldier-brothers should not be so vocal about the cowardice of the Israelite army.

Yes, David had slain the lion and the bear, but he was still slight in the sight of those around him. Those were but small feats; silencing the giant Goliath would be a gargantuan task. Besides, even if David accepted the challenge, he was too small to wear the armor necessary to enter battle with Goliath. His weapon, a sling, was likewise a small implement. Everything about David was small, including his chances of success against the giant. But as we all know, David's God was victorious; the slight shepherd of Israel slew the giant Goliath.

Horatius Banal, reflecting on God's use of that which is small, realized that little things can frequently be used by God to be great things. He wrote, "A holy life is made up of a multitude of small things. It is the little things of the hour and not the great things of the age that fill up a life like that of the Apostle Paul or John or David Brainard or Henry Martyn. Little words, not eloquent speeches or sermons, little deeds, not miracles or battles or one great heroic effort or martyrdom, make up the true Christian life. It's the little constant sunbeam, not the lightning, the waters of Siloam that go softly in their meek mission of refreshment, not the waters of the rivers great and main rushing down in torrent, noise, and force that are the true symbols of the holy life."

There are no small people, small tasks or small responsibilities in the service of God. You can be small only if you fail to take the bread and cheese as God has commanded. How much happier Goliath would have been if little David had stayed home that day.

MORNING HYMN
Little is much, when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame;
There's a crown and you can win it,
If you'll go in Jesus' name.

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« Reply #309 on: November 15, 2006, 07:36:43 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: 1 Chronicles 23:1-32

Praising God

And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even.

King David, who himself had been a fugitive and a wanderer for many years of his life, would have liked nothing better than to build a permanent dwelling place for the ark of the covenant. But because he was a man of war, Jehovah would not permit David to realize this privilege, so David "called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build an house to the LORD God of Israel" (1 Chronicles 22:6).

The zealous David did all he could to help in the preparations for the building of this temple. He gathered materials, prepared iron for nails and had a crew of masons readied. But an even greater contribution than arranging for the materials may have been David's initiation of the first full choral service. In conjunction with the chief of the Levites, David set apart three families and commissioned them to the service of the temple. These were not just singers, but prophets as well, "to prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals" (1 Chronicles 25:1). Generation after generation their instruction was handed down from father to son, and their art and musical skills were carefully perpetuated.

These families were those of Asaph, the son of Berechiah the Gershonite, the chief singer and also a distinguished seer; of Heman the Kohathite, the grandson of the prophet Samuel and himself "the king's seer in the words of God" (1 Chronicles 25:5); and of Jeduthun (or Ethan), a Merarite, who is also called "the king's seer." Each of the names of these leaders is found in the titles or superscriptions of selected psalms in the Psalter.

From 1 Chronicles 23-25 we learn that the numbers of Levites involved in the service of the temple and tabernacle was enormous. The three families numbered 288 principal singers, divided into 24 courses of 12 each. The total number of Levites engaged in the important task of praising Jehovah with the instruments which David made was 4,000. Six thousand were designated as officers and judges, 4,000 were set apart to be doorkeepers, and the remaining 24,000 Levites were designated to the general "work of the house of Jehovah."

Although to us their work may appear to be mundane, it certainly was not to them. They were to wait on the priests for the service of the house of Jehovah, purifying the holy place and the holy things, preparing the shewbread and the meat offering and assisting in the offering of burnt sacrifices on the sabbaths and on feast days. But perhaps their greatest duty, as well as their greatest delight, was "to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord and likewise at even" (1 Chronicles 23:30).

Rising early in the morning, these Levites would initiate the praise to Jehovah that day. This was not only a responsible position but a very meaningful one as well. Psalm 88, a psalm for the sons of Korah designated as a Maschil of Heman, gives a fine example of what these Levites may have said morning after morning in praising Jehovah. "But unto Thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent [come before] Thee" (Psalm 88:13).

Rising early in the morning to initiate a day filled with praise to God is our privilege as well. May we be as faithful in exercising that privilege as David's choirmasters were. Faithfulness in early praise to God may make the difference between a good day and a bad day.

MORNING HYMN
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty!
God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!

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« Reply #310 on: November 16, 2006, 09:34:15 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Isaiah 37:1-38

Believing is Not Seeing

Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning behold, they were all dead corpses.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Perhaps no more graphic illustration of this truth can be found in the Scriptures than the events recorded in Isaiah 36 and 37. The Assyrian king, Sennacherib, had opened a campaign against Judah by attacking the fortresses in her southland. He was engaged in the siege of Lachish, a city southwest of Jerusalem, when he decided to send a contingent of soldiers against Jerusalem under Rabshakeh, his chief cupbearer. Apparently the Assyrians felt that King Hezekiah would surrender Jerusalem without a fight if Rabshakeh could dishearten the Jewish warriors.

The Assyrian cupbearer made light of Judah's possibilities of victory. Would she rely on the armies of the Pharaoh of Egypt, armies now so weakened that they are likened to leaning on a broken staff? Would she rely on the God of Israel in the face of the might of Assyria? What would Hezekiah and his Israelites do? The servants of King Hezekiah came to seek advice from Isaiah, the man of God. Isaiah assured Hezekiah that God took the blasphemies of Rabshakeh as uttered against Him personally and would destroy the armies of Sennacherib because of their blasphemy. In destroying the armies of the Assyrians the whole world would know "that Thou art the LORD, even Thou only" (Isaiah 37:20). Isaiah predicted that the king of Assyria would never enter God's holy city nor shoot an arrow at it. God would somehow miraculously deliver His city because of the blasphemy of the Assyrians against Him. Hezekiah and the Jews must live lives of faith, for they would not be told how this deliverance would come about; they must trust God.

That very night the predicted catastrophe for the Assyrian armies occurred. "Then the angel of the LORD went forth and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses" (Isaiah 37:36). God had kept His word, even though the Jews could not see through the fog of doubt. Early in the morning they arose to find 185,000 Assyrian corpses. They never had opportunity to move against God's holy city because God always performs what He promises.

On July 4, 1952, Florence Chadwick attempted to swim from Catalina Island to the California coast. It was not the distance that was the great challenge to her but the bone-chilling waters of the Pacific. To make matters worse, a dense fog enshrouded the entire area, making it impossible to see the land. After she had swum for 15 hours and was within half a mile of her goal, Florence Chadwick gave up. Later she told a newspaper reporter, "If I could have seen land, I might have made it."

Not long thereafter she again attempted this same feat. Once again the fog shrouded the coastline and she could not see the shore, but this time she successfully completed her swim because she kept reminding herself that the land was out there, somewhere. With that confidence she bravely swam on and achieved her goal. In fact, she broke the men's record by more than two hours.

Sometimes we do not achieve our goals in life because we cannot clearly see God's hand moving in our behalf. Although we desire with all our heart to reach our goal, the fog of doubt sets in and makes it impossible for us to see clearly. Still, if believing in God we continue to press toward the mark, early in the morning we will see our goal achieved and the battlefield littered with the corpses of the enemy. We must trust God in the dark; we must remember that faith is the evidence of things not seen.

MORNING HYMN
O for a faith that will not shrink
Tho' pressed by many a foe,
That will not tremble on the brink
Of any earthly woe.

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« Reply #311 on: November 17, 2006, 09:11:30 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Psalm 30:1-12

Joy in the Morning

For His anger endureth but a moment; in His favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

In Psalm 30, as in so many other psalms, David promises to praise the Lord. He had experienced a great deliverance and was thankful. He cried unto heaven and the Lord heard him, bringing his soul back from the grave. Thus he exclaims that he will "Sing unto the Lord . . .for His anger endureth but a moment." This thought is reinforced by the delightful expression, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).

How often we have experienced the truth of this verse! Heavy trials weigh us down as we pillow our heads at night. Our minds seem unable to bear the pressure. Restlessly we toss and turn, but our body refuses to rest. We are miserable and feel helpless. Finally sleep comes, but only after hours of restlessness.

The Christian life is filled with the interchanges of sickness and health, weakness and strength, disgrace and honor, want and wealth. Sometimes we enjoy the comfort of being one of God's own; other times we bear the cross of that same privilege. On occasion the south winds of God's mercy blow over our lives; on other occasions blow the north winds of adversity. Nonetheless, when the nipping north winds of calamity chill our nights and cause us to be restless, we may rest in the promise of God that "weeping may endure [only] for a night." God always places a time limit on the suffering and restlessness of His children.

After such a night of struggle, we frequently awake with a vague sense of what transpired the night before. As we gather our thoughts, we wonder why it was so difficult for us to fall asleep. Why were we so helpless and despairing? Things do not look as impossible as they once did. What is it that makes the difference? It is the joy that comes in the morning when we cast our care upon the Lord, knowing that He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7; cf. Job 33:26; Isaiah 26:20; 54:7).

Not only are the trials of the night temporary; they are gifts from God as well. We cannot deny that Christians are often called to endure soul-shaking experiences. In the Christian life there is weeping, and sometimes plenty of it. The nights of adversity are long and frequent. But God never allows them to be endless or without cause.

The cupola of St. Paul's Cathedral in London was painted by Sir James Thornhill. It was necessary for Sir James to complete his work while standing on a swinging scaffold high above the pavement. One day when he had finished a particularly difficult portion with painstaking effort, he stopped to inspect his artistry. As a good artist does, slowly he began moving backwards in order to gain a more appropriate view of his work. A helper working with him suddenly recognized that if Sir James should take one step farther backward, he would be killed in a fatal fall. The man knew that if he startled the man with a shout, it might topple him from the scaffold. As quickly as possible, he grabbed a brush and made a sweeping stroke across the exquisite work that Sir James was admiring. Understandably disturbed, the artist rushed forward with a cry of dismay. When his companion explained why he had taken this drastic measure, Sir James Thornhill burst into tears of gratitude.

We may be sure that no physician ever weighed out medicine to his patients with half as much care and exactness as God weighs out the trials of a sleepless night to us. Perhaps the dawning light of relief seems far away to you, but remember, morning will come, and with it God's promised joy. You have God's Word on it.

MORNING HYMN
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth and song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the day grows weary and long?
O yes, He cares; I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Saviour cares.

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« Reply #312 on: November 19, 2006, 02:24:02 PM »

Title: Web of Conspiracy
Book: Early in the Morning 2
Author: Woodrow Kroll


And it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early, and set upon the city: and, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against thee, then mayest thou do to them as thou shalt find occasion.

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." Conspirators against those who are righteous are ultimately destroyed by their conspiracy. How this is evident in the tragic days following the triumph of Gideon and his 300 men!

Judges 8:33-35 records the failure of the Israelites to live after the defeat of the Midianites as they had during the battle. As a result of Israel's forgetting the God who delivered them, internal strife became more damaging than their external enemies. The royalty which Gideon had refused was coveted by Abimelech, his son by a handmaiden of Shechem. Attempting to trade on his father's reputation, Abimelech harangued the men of Shechem, claiming that it was far better to be ruled by one man, a Shechemite, than by all 70 of Gideon's sons. With money stolen from the sacred treasury of Baal-berith, Abimelech hired "vain and light persons," a band of desperadoes, to slay Gideon's other sons. Miraculously, however, one son, Jotham, escaped the conspiracy.

Abimelech reigned over a limited area in Israel for three years. But his reign did not go unchallenged by Jotham, who fled to Mount Gerizim, where he pronounced a curse on Abimelech and the men of Shechem. This curse came in the form of a parable about the tree that wished one of their number to rule over them. They asked the olive tree, fig tree, and vine in succession, only to be rebuffed each time. Then they turned to the worthless thorny bramble, which accepted their offer to rule over them.

The meaning of this parable was obvious to all. The trees, which are themselves producers, are more interested in fruit than in control; but the thorn, which has nothing to give, seeks to be the leader sheerly for personal gain. Abimelech was a thorn. Jotham cried, "Let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech" (Judges 9:20).

Jotham's curse was not long in being fulfilled. After three years God sent an "evil spirit" between Abimelech and the men of Shechem. The Shechemites revolted and plotted against his life. But Zebul, the governor of the city and an Abimelech loyalist, informed Abimelech of the plot to dethrone him; and a counter plan was hatched. Zebul counseled Abimelech and his men to lie in wait for the Shechemites during the night in the fields before the city. "And it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early and set upon the city"(Judges 9:33). Abimelech massacred the inhabitants of Shechem.

Having treacherously murdered his pseudo-subjects, Abimelech turned his attention to the neighboring city of Thebez. Some of the Shechemites, the men and women of Thebez, fled to a strong tower for safety. Again Abimelech prepared to burn them out, but a woman cast a piece of millstone out of the tower. In ironic reciprocation, the stone found its target the head of Abimelech and broke his skull. Jotham's prophecy was fulfilled.

Abimelech, the would-be-king conspirator, and the Shechemites, his would-be subjects, were caught in the middle of their web of conspiracy. Having destroyed the righteous, they were themselves destroyed by each other. Deception always brings destruction. How much better we are passively to accept the will of God as good, acceptable, and perfect (Romans 12:2) than to conspire self-promotion without the blessing of God.

MORNING HYMN
The God of Abraham praise,
Who reigns enthroned above,
Ancient of everlasting days
And God of love.
Jehovah, great I AM,
By earth and Heav'n confessed,
I bow and bless the sacred
Name forever blest.

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« Reply #313 on: November 19, 2006, 02:26:08 PM »

Title: Failure and Success
Book: Early in the Morning 2
Author: Woodrow Kroll


And Joshua rose up early in the morning and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people of Ai.

It has been aptly said that failure is the back door to success. Nowhere is this adage more graphically illustrated in Scripture than in the capture of Ai. With a task force of 3,000 men Israel had failed miserably in her attempted conquest of Ai because of one man's sin. Achan kept God's people from victory, but once his sin had been dealt with, victory would most assuredly come again to Israel.

The defeat at Ai could have dealt a devastating blow to Joshua's leadership. Joshua feared the Canaanites would hear of Israel's cowardice and their name would be cut off from the earth. His concern really was what such a defeat would mean to the great name of Jehovah God. But his fears were alleviated when Jehovah promised Joshua victory in the second battle of Ai.

The plan of attack for this battle, unlike that of Jericho, was far more likely to be included in military manuals. God told Joshua to put an ambush of 30,000 men between Ai and Bethel to the west. To this was later added another ambush of 5,000 men in the same direction. Meanwhile "Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people of Ai" (Joshua 8:10). When the king of Ai saw what was happening, he too "hasted and rose up early" in the morning (Joshua 8:14). Mustering his Aiite troops, he marched out to meet the main body of the Israelite forces. Because he knew that the enemy was fully aware that Israel had retreated once in defeat, Joshua feigned a retreat, drawing his troops back to the northeast. The Aiite troops followed.

While this was happening, the Israelites that were waiting in ambush entered the now empty city of Ai and burned it to the ground. When the king and his men turned to see their city smoldering, they realized their defeat was imminent. They were surrounded by Israelite soldiers. The Israelites in the ambush then came out of Ai and marched on the rear flank of the Aiite army. Joshua reversed his movement and caught the king and his men in a pincer movement. The people of Ai were defeated; Joshua's victory was now complete.

Joshua had taken the stumbling stone of defeat and turned it into the stepping-stone of success. In doing so he learned the valuable lesson that our greatest glory consists not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall. Others give striking testimony to this fact as well.

In 1832 a young American was a candidate for the legislature. He lost. In 1834 he was again a candidate and this time he won. In 1847 he went to the United States Congress but served only one term. He was not even renominated by his party. He campaigned for Zachary Taylor for president, hoping to be appointed commissioner of the General Land Office. He wasn't. He returned to private law practice. In 1854 he again ran for the legislature and won but soon resigned because he hoped the new anti-Nebraska party would support him for the senate. They didn't. In 1856 he was nominated for the office of vice-president of the United States and lost. In 1858 he ran again for the United States Senate and lost again. In 1860 he was simply nominated as a favorite son from Illinois for the presidency, and later that year he, Abraham Lincoln, was elected president of the United States. Like Lincoln, we must never allow yesterday's mistakes to bankrupt tomorrow's efforts.

Just as there is no failure more disastrous than success that leaves God out of the picture, likewise there is no success greater than the rediscovery of the power of God in our lives. We must never be ashamed to confess that we have failed, for this is but one way of saying we are wiser today than we were yesterday.

MORNING HYMN
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious Thy great name we praise.

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« Reply #314 on: November 21, 2006, 12:06:06 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Exodus 32:1-35

The Deceitful Heart

And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink and rose up to play.

The prophet Jeremiah observed that, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). The Bible gives more than ample evidence to support Jeremiah's observation. In fact, so does this morning's newspaper.

A prime example of how innately wicked the human heart is can be seen in the unfaithfulness of Israel at Mount Sinai. When the people of God encamped at the foot of the mountain, Moses ascended the slopes of Sinai and received the Law. After the people acknowledged the covenant of God and answered with one voice, "All the words which the LORD hath said will we do" (Exodus 24:3), Moses again ascended the mount of God. This time he received God's instruction in the ordinances of divine worship.

Moses' sojourn on the mountain was much longer than anyone expected. After nearly six weeks passed without his return, the people grew impatient and fearful. Had they lost their leader? How could Moses survive on the mountain without food? And what about their God? He was on the mountain too, in the pillar of a cloud that led them from Egypt. Had He forsaken them?

Israel had come face to face with a real test of faith, a test they failed miserably. As long as Moses was with the Israelites, he could encourage them to "live by faith and not by sight." But now he was gone and Israel's faith rapidly evaporated. The desperate wickedness of their hearts came to the fore. The Israelites frantically begged Aaron to make gods for them, gods that would go before them as the Everlasting God had done in the cloud. Immediately Aaron instructed the people to take off their golden earrings, which were then melted down and fashioned into an idolatrous golden calf. Aaron proclaimed that on the next day they would have a feast to the Lord.

The Israelites were like a child with a new toy, barely sleeping that night because of excitement. "And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings" (Exodus 32:6). The people then sat down to eat and drink.

But the Bible says that after that they "rose up to play." This may sound innocent enough, but the "play" in which the people of God engaged was hardly the harmless kind. They fell into the pattern of sensuality that accompanies pagan worship. Idol worship nearly always ended in an orgy so disgusting that it cannot be described. So boisterous was the Israelite orgy that when Moses and Joshua returned from the mount, Joshua assumed that the delirious shouts of the people were noises of war. But the people of God were caught up in a wild frenzy that was both licentious and idolatrous. It was the sight of this frenzy that angered Moses and caused him to cast the tables of stone to the ground, breaking them.

Exodus 32:25 enhances our understanding of the depths to which the Israelites had fallen. Not only were the people worshipping an idol, engaged in a wild orgy, and worked into a frenzy by licentious dancing, they were naked as well. Their nakedness was not only offensive to Moses but it was an affront to God as well.

There is scarcely a depth to which Satan cannot drag desperately wicked human hearts, even the hearts of God's chosen people. New Testament believers must never be deceived into thinking that we have sufficient strength in ourselves to keep us from similar depths of sin. Only the Spirit of God can prevent our wicked hearts from dragging us into sin. Today let us pray as the Lord Jesus taught us, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13).

MORNING HYMN
Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
Try me, O Saviour, know my thoughts, I pray;
See if there be some wicked way in me:
Cleanse me from ev'ry sin, and set me free.

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