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nChrist
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« Reply #330 on: December 06, 2006, 11:47:03 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Job 1:1-22

Standing Tall

And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

The ability to meet affliction with an uncompromising endurance and an unflinching respect for God is one of the marks of true Christian character. Certainly Job is the classic example of a man who met affliction in such a way.

The author begins the book of Job by describing a beautiful pastoral scene in which Job, a respected and honored oriental sheik, or prince, was residing in the land of Uz. Job was a man of extreme wealth, possessing a flock of 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, large tracts of land and an affectionate family of seven sons and three daughters.

But more than this, Job was a man of extreme piety. The first verse of the book describes him as "perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil." So concerned was this man about keeping himself and his family right before his God that he "rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually" (Job 1:5). Day after day he met God early, bringing sacrifices to the Almighty in the event that he or any of his family had secretly sinned against God.

The rest of this chapter's verses, comprising scene two in the first act of Job's life, read like a horror story. Here Satan entered this beautiful country scene and disrupted the simple pastoral life of Job and his family. Notice these features of scene two.

1. Satan's report (verse 6). The day came when the sons of God, presumably the angels, were to bring a report of their activities to Jehovah. Satan also came among them.

2. Satan's activity (verse 7). When Jehovah asked Satan why he had come and from where he had come, Lucifer answered the Lord, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." Satan's activity was a never-ending search for opportunities to disrupt the program of God.

3. Satan's problem (verse 8). It was Jehovah who suggested to Satan, "Hast thou considered My servant Job?" Here Satan would encounter a man who was perfect and upright, one who hated every kind of evil that Satan had placed in his path.

4. Satan's accusation (verses 10-11). The devil had a ready answer for why Job had remained upright. God had put a hedge around him so that everything Job did prospered. Surely if God would remove that hedge, Satan reasoned, Job certainly would curse God to His face.

5. Satan's restriction (verse 12). Jehovah permitted Lucifer to touch all that Job possessed but placed one restriction upon him, "Only upon himself put not forth shine hand." Although God does not always make this temporal restriction with regard to us today, he certainly makes it an eternal restriction.

6. Satan's attacks (verses 13-19). The devil came to menace Job. Like waves of enemy soldiers the reports kept coming to Job until he learned that he had lost all.

7. Satan's failure (verses 20-22). Job arose and reacted with characteristic remorse. And yet, rather than sin and foolishly charge God, Job stood tall and simply stated, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21).

Do not be discouraged when you face the attacks of the wicked one. These attacks are only temporal, and our loving God will have the final word. You may not always understand the ways of God, but you must always trust them, as did Job.

MORNING HYMN
Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely
And long for Heav'n and home,
When Jesus is my portion?
My constant Friend is He;
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

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« Reply #331 on: December 07, 2006, 09:42:10 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Exodus 34:1-35

Ingredients for Service

And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai and present thyself there to Me in the top of the mount.

The man who bows the lowest in the presence of God stands the straightest in the presence of sin. If this truth was known by anyone in the Old Testament, it was known by Moses. Time after time he had to stand straight and tall in the face of Israel's sin. Once even while Moses was communing with God on the top of Sinai, Israel was brewing a pot of sin. Upon his descent from the mount, viewing the golden calf and the licentious behavior of Israel, Moses' righteous indignation caused him to cast the tables of God's Law to the ground, crushing them to pieces (Exodus 32:19). The people were rebuked for their sin, 3,000 men were capitally punished, Moses interceded for the lives of the rest and the golden calf crisis was over.

But there would be more sin, and the tables of stone had to be replaced. Thus the Lord issued Moses another summons to Sinai with these instructions: "And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to Me in the top of the mount" (Exodus 34:2). Note the words, "be ready," "come up," and "present thyself." Moses' renewed call to service contained these three essential ingredients found in every call to service that God issues.

Be ready. The man God uses is the man who is ready, willing, and able to be used. If we are not ready, God will bypass us for someone who is; and we will miss the blessing that could have been ours. The apostle Paul was a man who was ready. In Romans 1:15 he was "ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also." With Paul, preaching was a passion: "For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 21:13). After a long life of service to his Lord, Paul exclaimed, "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:6-7). Paul was ready to preach, ready to suffer, even ready to die in the service of the Lord.

Come up. We cannot be of service to God until we first come to Him in salvation. But Jehovah's call to Moses was not to salvation, but to communion and service. Once the Lord has called us to be saved, He then calls us to "come and dine" (John 21:12). In other words, as Moses, we are called to fellowship with the Lord. We "come up" to the Lord God in prayer. Like salvation, prayer and communion with God precede service (Ephesians 6:18-20).

Present thyself. The final ingredient in preparing for service to God and standing in the face of sin is to present ourselves to Him. Paul begged the Roman believers to "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1). Being ready to serve God is necessary. Coming up to God in prayer is likewise necessary in preparing for useful service. But unless we are willing to present ourselves to God body, mind, and soul as Moses did, there is little chance that He will use us or that we will successfully stand straight and tall in the presence of sin.

When the call of God came, Moses prepared a second pair of stone tablets for the law of God and "rose up early in the morning, and went up unto Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him" (Exodus 34:4). Moses was ready for service, early in the morning, for he knew that there was a lot of sin yet to be dealt with in the camp of Israel. Moses must stand straight and tall in the presence of that sin, as each believer must. Are you ready to rise early each morning and come to God in prayer, presenting yourself in service to Him? Your day will go much better if you are.

MORNING HYMN
Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
Ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner,
It must not suffer loss:
From vict'ry unto vict'ry
His army shall He lead,
Till ev'ry foe is vanquished,
And Christ is Lord indeed.

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« Reply #332 on: December 13, 2006, 05:29:18 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Job 7:1-21

The Hidden Hammer

And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.

The bottom had fallen out of Job's life. All his possessions had been destroyed. His family had been slaughtered, and any hope for a posterity was gone. God had delivered Job into Satan's hand. Those associated with Job could not understand why this had happened. Even his wife counseled him to "curse God and die" (Job 2:9). But Job was fully convinced that if God had permitted this evil to come to him, the evil would ultimately turn to good.

Job's friend Eliphaz expressed surprise that Job, who in the past comforted others, was now giving way to sorrow. His friend wrongly judged that if Job had nothing to be ashamed of, he had no reason to be sorrowful. Theologically he understood misfortune always to be the result of sin. Therefore there was no other explanation than that Job had sinned and the route of escape was not a bitter complaint but a bold confession of sin to receive the fruit of blessing. Understandably Job was offended at the speech of his friend. Eliphaz had magnified Job's complaint and minimized his condition. Just think of it. Life had collapsed around him and Job could think of no specific cause for that. He knew Eliphaz was wrong in his assessment of the situation.

In chapter 7 Job is philosophical about the brevity of life. He knows that the days of man upon the earth are numbered. He likens them to the cloud that is consumed and vanishes away. Since life is so brief and his life is now so filled with anguish, why does Jehovah even bother with Job? Why does He reveal Himself to Job every morning and try him every moment (Job 7:18)? He thought that in his condition, life is worth less than death, and Job desires that "thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be" (Job 7:21). The blows that God permitted Satan to land on Job appear to have been merciless. His life had been upright and just. How could God allow this to happen?

Samuel Chadwick relates that when he was a boy, he often went to the local blacksmith shop to watch the smithy work. He remembers how the smith would take a large piece of iron and place it in the fire with tongs and then work the bellows to make it white-hot. Then after removing the piece of iron from the fire and laying it upon the anvil, he would take a small hammer and begin to tap on the iron. No sooner would the smith tap the iron with the small hammer than a big man on the other side of the anvil would come crashing down hard with a large sledge hammer, hitting the iron on the exact same spot that the blacksmith had just tapped. Inquisitively, Chadwick once commented to the blacksmith, "You don't do much good with that little hammer, do you?" The gentle blacksmith laughed and replied, "No, my boy, but I show that big fellow where to place the blow."

When the bottom fell out of Job's life and his friends came to comfort him, none of them was aware of all that had transpired in heaven before these calamities began. None of them knew that God had given Satan permission to afflict Job. They were totally unaware that while Satan was pounding away at Job with his unholy sledge hammer, each blow was being carefully guided by a loving Heavenly Father. God would show Satan where he could deliver his blows on Job, just as the blacksmith defined for his large friend where he could hit the iron with his sledge hammer.

If you are today experiencing unjust criticism, undue persecution, or sorrow because love is not returned, please remember that as a child of God you can never be afflicted beyond what God, your loving Heavenly Father, gives him permission to do. God is still in control; and though friends may unrighteously condemn us, as long as we live a life clean before Him, we need not be concerned about what Satan can do to us.

MORNING HYMN
Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear,
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

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« Reply #333 on: December 13, 2006, 05:31:20 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Job 7:1-21

God Alone

When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone? And I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day.

The book of Job is an epic poem ranking among the greatest writings of mankind. Alfred Lord Tennyson said that the book of Job was "the greatest poem of ancient or modern times." As the story of a man who lived righteously before God, was fiercely attacked by Satan, continued his righteous life, and had restored to him all that he lost and more, the Book of Job ought to be an encouragement to all of us. Somewhere in the book you and I find ourselves.

It was not bad enough that Job was attacked by Satan, but his three friends, who sought to comfort him, were equally vicious in their pompous assumptions about Job's sin. The majority of Job's chapters record cycles of speeches given by Job's friends and the replies of the righteous Job.

The first cycle contains the speech of Eliphaz. In vivid language Eliphaz describes a vision in which he saw the majestic purity of God compared with the sinfulness of all of God's created beings. Since only the evil perish, Job was experiencing his difficulty because he was evil, Eliphaz thought. His suggestion was that the righteous Job not be bitter but turn to God in repentance.

In replying to Eliphaz, Job likens human life to service in the armed forces, to the life of a hireling, to the lowly lot of a servant. Job can identify with each of these roles, for he too is caught in a life situation well beyond his control. He recognizes that the servant or hireling has but a few days on earth and many of these days are lived in menial meaninglessness. Job feels the same way about his life, now that his family and possessions are gone and his friends have turned against him, assuming his unrighteousness.

I suppose each of us has had occasion to identify with Job 7:4. When Job lies upon his bed at night and sleep does not come, his only thought is, "When shall I arise, and the night be gone?" When financial reversals or personal losses plague us and faithful friends fail us, the nights do seem long indeed. Like Job, we may feel that we are "full of tossings to and fro until the dawning of the day" (Job 7:4).

What can Job do? Where can he turn? Who is the one person who will listen and understand? In the transitoriness of life, who remains the same forever? Job knows the answer; he will make his prayer to God and there find his hope.

Vance Havner once told a story about an elderly woman who was disturbed by her great and many troubles. Some of these troubles were real, but others were imaginary. After friends and family had prayed with her, comforted her and attempted to help her, they reminded her, "Grandma, we've done all we can for you. You'll just have to trust God for the rest." With a look of shock and despair Grandma's eyes flashed back to her family the message, "Oh dear, has it come to that?" Havner notes, "It always comes to that, so we might as well begin with that!"

This is the lesson that Job learned. Sometimes in attempting to provide comfort our family and friends actually do a disservice to us in our need. Sometimes we are misunderstood for our actions. But God always understands and God is always a source of comfort. It always comes to the need to rest in God. We may rest in Him for our health and strength, for vindication from false accusations, for companionship in time of solitude. It always comes to that and thank God it does.

MORNING HYMN
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

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« Reply #334 on: December 13, 2006, 05:33:41 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Genesis 19:15-29

Thinking of Others

And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD.

SELFISHNESS is innate to man's being. Human philosophy says, “Look out for number one for if you don't, no one else will.” The question of the first murderer, “Am I my brother's keeper?” is still being asked in society today. This is indeed unfortunate. When we live self-centered lives we are denied the joy of delighting in others.

Abraham was a man little given to such selfishness. When he and nephew Lot came to a parting of the ways, Abraham gave his kin first pick of the land. Looking eastward on the fertile plain of the Jordan, Lot fell prey to temptation and chose the valley thick with vegetation. Abraham then withdrew to the oaks of Mamre, near Hebron, in the center of the south hill country. Willing to obey the stern inward call of duty, Abraham quietly received the less desirable terrain.

The picturesque valley of the lower Jordan was dotted with five “cities of the plain.” They were Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Bela, which was later renamed Zoar. Sodom, the chief city of this pentapolis, was so wicked that a particularly abnormal sin still bears its name. Here the worldly Lot chose to settle and even become prominent. The men of this city were especially wicked and sinned exceedingly before the Lord. How it must have grieved the genuinely pious Abraham to see his nephew choose these surroundings.

In the course of time three angelic guests stopped at the door of Abraham's tent in Mamre. Abraham greeted them hospitably and made ready a feast. As the men prepared to leave, Abraham accompanied them a short distance toward Sodom. Two of the strangers went on ahead while the third, who was actually the Lord, lingered awhile with Abraham. It was then that Abraham received the crushing news. The Lord had come with His two angels to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The sins of these two cities were so heinous and abundant that God could no longer tolerate their existence. They must be destroyed.

Immediately Abraham thought of Lot. He began to intercede with the Lord in Lot's behalf. After a typically oriental bargaining session, Abraham pled with the Lord not to destroy Sodom if ten righteous people could be found in it. The Lord agreed. However, there could not be found ten righteous citizens in this horribly wicked city and its destruction was certain. The angels prompted Lot to take his wife and two daughters and escape to the mountains. Lot fled, not to the mountains, but to the city of Zoar and as soon as he arrived the Lord rained fire and brimstone down upon Sodom and Gomorrah.

This fierce fire and brimstone that fell from Heaven not only destroyed the cities and their inhabitants but even the soil around them. The entire valley was burned out and utterly destroyed. It is likely that either the Dead Sea originated with this catastrophic event or that the existing sea was greatly enlarged to the south by engulfing this destroyed valley.

And what of Abraham? Is he resting comfortably in his tent while all this is going on? Not at all. Genesis 19:27 records, “And Abraham got up early in the morning” and viewed the smoke rising from the plain. He was genuinely interested in the welfare of Lot and his family and eagerly awaited news of them. The foolish nephew was spared from this devastation because God remembered the concern of Abraham.

Lot had slapped Abraham in the face by choosing the best land for himself. He had broken the heart of God's friend by settling in a center of wickedness. Abraham had every right to care nothing about Lot's welfare, yet he did care. He arose early, unselfishly, for he had learned not to seek his own but the good of others (1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:4). If you want to be happy today, why not spend the day helping others? Be interested in them; pray for them; bring good cheer to them. It will do a lot for you, too.

MORNING HYMN
Others, Lord, yes, others,
Let this my motto be.
Help me to live for others,
That I might live like Thee.

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« Reply #335 on: December 13, 2006, 05:36:42 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Ruth 3-4

Waiting on God

Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the Lord liveth: lie down until the morning.

DURING OUR DARK MOMENTS frequently we become impatient and ask God to speak to us immediately. But sometimes God is silent, and we must be silent as well. When the tears of frustration stream down our cheeks, when defeat and despair hang around us like a shroud, when we don't know which way to turn, we must heed God's advice to the psalmist, "Be still, and know that I am God"(Psalm 46:10).

Perhaps this divine stillness in the midst of the storm is best illustrated in the story of Ruth. A severe famine in Palestine drove Elimelech and Naomi, Ephrathites of Bethlehem, to Moab with their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. Here the sons married Moabite girls named Ruth and Orpah. After ten years the father and sons died leaving three childless widows. Naomi decided to return to her homeland. Realizing the lonely life ahead for her daughters-in-law in a foreign country, she entreated them to remain behind in Moab. After some persuasion Orpah returned but Ruth requested, "Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodges, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people and thy God my God"(Ruth 1:16). Hence, Ruth and Naomi traveled on together.

It was springtime during the barley harvest when Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem. Immediately Ruth went to glean in the field of a wealthy Ephrathite named Boaz, a relative of Elimelech, her father-in-law. Boaz showed kindness to Ruth, allowing her to eat with the Jews, contrary to the Hebrew custom, and eventually came to love her. Full of gratitude to God, Naomi instructed Ruth to claim her rights under the levirate law of marriage. This law, similar to those of the Assyrians and the Hittites, permitted a childless widow to marry her husband's brother or nearest kinsman in order to perpetuate the dead husband's name.

That night, when Boaz went to sleep, Ruth softly came and laid at his feet. During the night Boaz awoke and was startled to see Ruth. She identified herself and asked him to perform the duties of the near kinsman. Apparently Boaz's interest in Ruth had blossomed. However, he knew there was a kinsman nearer than he who must first be given the opportunity to perform this custom. Thus Boaz instructed Ruth, "Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of the kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part; but if he will not do the part of the kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of the kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning"(Ruth 3:13).

In the morning Ruth arose, was given six measures of barley by Boaz, and returned to the house of Naomi. Filled with anxiety over her future, Naomi instructed Ruth in the lesson of quiet faith. She said, "Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall." Boaz kept his word. He called ten witnesses of the elders to take their seats in the gate of the city to ratify his negotiations with the nearest kinsman to Ruth. When the kinsman refused to redeem his possession, that transferred the right of redemption legally to Boaz. Boaz and Ruth were married; she bore a son named Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David. Good things happen to us when we sit still and wait on God.

Like Ruth, we must learn that no one who trusts God is ever forgotten by our Saviour. He is ever praying for us (Hebrews 7:25). We may feel forsaken and forlorn, but our High Priest is always touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15-16). He catches the tears of our anxiety and anguish alike "in [His] bottle"(Psalm 56:8). He is fully aware of our situation. In the meantime, we must simply sit still until we see how the matter will fall and learn the glorious lesson that, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31).

MORNING HYMN
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.

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« Reply #336 on: December 13, 2006, 05:39:03 AM »

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

Satan's Imitators

Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river's brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand.

Of all the brother teams in the Old Testament, Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Hophni and Phinehas, etc., perhaps none was so outstanding as Moses and Aaron. Together they were called upon to undertake the impossible dream—the exodus of Israel from Egypt. Jehovah had made Moses a god to Pharaoh and brother Aaron was his prophet. As a team they stood before the Egyptian king and demanded the release of God's people Israel.

During the new kingdom period the power of Pharaoh was unsurpassed among contemporary nations. At times his kingdom extended as far as the Euphrates River. For Moses and Aaron to appear at the royal Egyptian court demanding that the people of Israel be set free was a challenge to Pharaoh's power. From the start the king's attitude was one of arrogant defiance. Pharaoh said, "Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go"(Exodus 5:2).

But the Lord had forewarned Moses and Aaron of Pharaoh's attitude, informing them that when the king asked for a miracle to prove God's power they should cast Aaron's rod to the ground and it would become a serpent. When Pharaoh questioned them, Aaron obeyed God and, as God had promised, the rod miraculously became a serpent. However, much to the surprise of Moses and Aaron, the king of Egypt called upon his wise men sorcerers to do the same and their rods too became serpents.

Apparently these Egyptian magicians knew the secret of paralyzing a snake by applying pressure on the back of the neck. This would make the serpent become rigid and the pompous Egyptian sorcerers would stroll along the streets using the paralyzed snakes as walking sticks. When they cast the snake to the ground, releasing the pressure, the snake would begin to crawl. Capturing the snake was a simple matter of grabbing it by the back of the neck, renewing the pressure, and making the serpent rigid again.

Such was the case in the contest between Moses and Aaron and the magicians of Pharaoh's court. However, as the Egyptians imitated the miracle of God they did not have opportunity to grab the serpents by the back of the neck and reapply the pressure. Before they could do so Aaron's rod-serpent swallowed them up.

Rather than be stunned by the defeat of his magicians, Pharaoh's heart was hardened. Thus the Lord instructed Moses to "Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning" and to demand that the people of Israel be released (Exodus 7:15). Early the next morning the confrontation took place and as a result of Pharaoh's refusal the Nile River, long worshiped by the Egyptians, turned to blood. Thus began the great plagues of Egypt.

Although in the first two plagues God allowed the Egyptian magicians to imitate His miracles, by the third one they had run out of tricks. Candidly they had to admit to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God" (Exodus 8:19). This did not end imitations of God's power, however, for Satan is the great imitator of God. He has been imitating God through the centuries, and many have been deceived by some clever counterfeits which seem to be of God, but actually are of the devil.

Today the world is deluged with deception. Satan is on a rampage imitating the acts of God. This is why Christians are cautioned to "Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). Moses and Aaron were not fooled or intimidated by the imitation miracles of the Egyptian magicians. Believers today must not be fooled or intimidated by the power of Satan, "because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

MORNING HYMN
Thy Holy Spirit, Lord, alone,
Can turn our hearts from sin;
His pow'r alone can sanctify,
And keep us pure within.

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« Reply #337 on: December 13, 2006, 05:41:27 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: 2 Chronicles 20:1-27

The Lord's Battle

And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa, and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper.

The battle of the forces of good against the forces of evil has raged on for millennia. Ever since Satan's heart was lifted up with pride and he said, "I will be like the most high" (Isaiah 14:13-14), the forces of God have been pitted against Satan and his forces in eternal conflict. This battle continues today. The apostle Paul reminds us that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).

One of the greatest difficulties in being a soldier in the army of the Lord is to recognize that we are but soldiers on the field of battle and not generals in the war room. We are called upon to fight Satan and his henchmen. We are engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the forces of immorality, ungodliness and sin. Still, the battle is the Lord's, not ours. Nowhere is this truth more graphically illustrated than in the story of good King Jehoshaphat.

The quarter-century reign of Jehoshaphat, son of Asa, is one of the rare bright spots in Judah's checkered history. He was 35 years old when he ascended to the throne in 872 B.C. and he continued the work of religious reformation and revival begun by his father. But as is usually the case when a man attempts to serve God, the forces of Satan began to disrupt Judah during the days of Jehoshaphat. As 2 Chronicles 20:1 indicates, the peace of Judah was suddenly interrupted by a confederacy of the Moabites and Ammonites east of the Jordan River. The combined forces of this deadly duo were but a manifestation of the armies of Satan during that generation. What would the king of God's people do? Would he fight or would he knuckle under to Satan's stooges? Jehoshaphat did the only thing a godly person can do. He "set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah."

When Jehoshaphat finished his prayer, Jahaziel, the son of Zechariah, who was in the line of Levites from Asaph, began to prophesy by the spirit of the Lord. He called to Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and gave this message to the king and the people: "Thus saith the LORD unto you, be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's."

Reassured by this word from the Lord, the king and people bowed their faces to the ground and worshiped Jehovah the Lord. Then they stood to praise the Lord God of Israel with a loud voice. And, oh yes, they did one other thing: they put feet to their prayers. "And they rose early in the morning and went forth into the wilderness at Tekoa and as they went forth Jehoshaphat stood and said, hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper" (2 Chronicles 20:20). Having prayed to God and armed with the knowledge that the battle was not theirs but His, the Jews arose early the next morning, eager to be soldiers in God's army. When they arrived at the scene of battle, they found no mighty armies, just dead bodies. Apparently the confused enemy fell on one another. Ammonites killing Moabites and Moabites killing Ammonites. Indeed, the battle was the Lord's.

This is a hard lesson to learn when the battle does not appear to be going God's way. Perhaps that's why so many soldiers today are discouraged and ready to desert the army of the Lord. But you and I must remember that we are taking our place in the Lord's army, just as Jehoshaphat and the Jews took their places so many centuries ago. The battle still rages; the battle is still the Lord's. Let us pray to the Lord God for victory, praise His name for assurance, and then rush off early each morning to do battle with Satan and his armies throughout the day. We have the same confidence as did Jehoshaphat and the Jews, for we have the same God.

MORNING HYMN
Fierce may be the conflict,
Strong may be the foe,
But the King's own army,
None can overthrow;
Round His standard ranging,
Vict'ry is secure,
For His truth unchanging
Makes the triumph sure.
Joyfully enlisting,
By Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord's side,
Saviour, we are Thine!

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« Reply #338 on: December 14, 2006, 11:31:19 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Matthew 16:1-28

Practical Religion

And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

Faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour transforms us from a shallow meaningless person into one filled with the Spirit of God. If we are born again and the Spirit resides within us, our religion ought to be as full of meaning as our lives are full of the Spirit. How terrible to see many religions in which there is absolute meaninglessness because of spiritual ritualism. Jesus encountered this very same thing in His day as well.

The Pharisees were always guilty of practicing an empty religion. This is why John the Baptist called them a "generation of vipers" (Matthew 3:7). The Pharisees were constantly interested in keeping the ceremonial law, but they had the wrong heart attitude toward God. When Jesus called Matthew to discipleship, the Pharisees were right there to question the Lord's disciples, "Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?" (Matthew 9:11). When He cast a demon out of a man who was dumb, the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out devils through the power of the prince of the devils (Matthew 9:34).

Always the Pharisees were seeking a sign from Jesus that He was the Messiah. Time and again He refused to give them such a sign saying that the sign of Jonah was all they would need. His resurrection after a death of three days would be the great sign to them that He was indeed the Messiah. If they would not believe that sign, neither would they believe any other.

At Magdala Jesus again encountered the Pharisees, this time in league with the Sadducees and Herodians, who again asked Him for a sign. As before, Jesus refused to give them such a sign but at the same time He taught them something about the emptiness and blindness of their spiritual ritualism. Jesus noted that the Pharisees and Sadducees could read the weather signs in the heavens. He said, "When it is evening you say, it will be fair weather for the sky is red." This is comparable to our axiom, "Red sky at night, sailor's delight." But Jesus continued, "And in the morning it will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowring" (Matthew 16:3). Or, as we would say, "Red sky in morning, sailors take warning."

Jesus then concluded with the assessment, "O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" These religious leaders could read the skies with the best astronomers and mariners, but could not recognize that Jesus was the Messiah. This was where their expertise should have been, but because they had been involved so long with empty formalism instead of meaningful activity in carrying God's love to the world, they did not have the eyes of faith with which to see Jesus as their Saviour.

An item from a church bulletin clearly points out the inconsistency of pious religion which does not follow through in meeting the needs of people. It is a satirical rephrasing of Matthew 25: "I was famished and you formed a humanitarian club to discuss my hunger...I was imprisoned and you crept off quietly to your church to pray for my release. I was naked and you debated the morality of my unseemly appearance. I was sick and you knew it, yet did nothing but thank God for your own health. I was homeless and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of God. I was lonely and you left me by myself while you went and prayed for me. You seemed so holy, so close to God; but I am still very hungry, desolate, and cold!"

While the Pharisees had all the trappings of religion, all the robes, all the religious paraphernalia, they had none of the heart, none of what true religion is all about. Yet today as well there are many churches and denominations that have all the trap-pings of religion but none of the heart of the Lord Jesus. It is up to each of us to make sure that we attend faithfully those churches which show the heart of the Lord Jesus and not the heart of the Pharisee. Is your church following Jesus or following the Pharisees? Is your religion practical? Make it a point to pray for your church today.

MORNING HYMN
All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and Heav'n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.

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« Reply #339 on: December 16, 2006, 07:36:08 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Genesis 20:1-18

A Lapse Into Sin

Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.

Our folly and God's grace; if you see one, can the other be far behind? Frequent are the occasions when God's children foolishly mire themselves in difficulty only to have God graciously dig them out. Even the venerable Abraham found himself in this situation more than once.

After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham departed from the groves of Mamre and journeyed south to the Negev. Here he dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, pitching his tent in Gerar. Upon arriving in the south country Abraham hatched a plan which he had tried unsuccessfully in Egypt some twenty years earlier. He instructed his wife, Sarah, to claim that she was his sister.

Because of the disastrous consequences which it previously had brought on the pharaoh of Egypt, it is almost inconceivable that Abraham would try this scheme again. Apparently the stern rebuke Abraham received from Pharaoh had by this time faded from his memory. Still, Abraham had only recently received God's assurance that Sarah was destined to be the mother of the promised seed. By spreading the half truth that she was his sister and therefore eligible for marriage, Abraham placed Sarah's virtue in serious jeopardy. This constituted a foolish lapse in Abraham's usually stellar performance as the friend of God.

The arrival of Abraham and Sarah brought a greeting from Abimelech, the warlike king of Gerar. Having heard that Sarah was unmarried, Abimelech immediately sent and brought her into his harem. This likely was done to ally himself with the rich nomad prince, Abraham. Sarah was by this time ninety years old and probably not the beautiful maid she used to be. Suddenly Abraham's lie had come back to haunt him once again.

The whole course of human history could have been different if it were not for God's intervention. Genesis 20:3 begins, "But God," words which usually indicate the turning point between man's foolishness and God's grace. Abraham had lied about his wife and she was now part of Abimelech's harem. Her virtue would undoubtedly be violated. But God warned the Philistine king in a dream that Sarah was already a man's wife. He also caused Abimelech to be afflicted with an illness which prevented him from coming near Sarah. Thus, miraculously and graciously, the mother of the chosen nation was kept from impurity, not because of the wisdom of Abraham, but because of the grace of God.

In the dream God revealed to Abimelech that, although he had done no wrong, nevertheless he must restore Sarah to her husband. If the king refused, his death and that of all his kingdom would ensue. This was enough to convince Abimelech. The king "rose early in the morning, and called all his servants," relaying the message to them (Genesis 20:8). Respecting the authority of the living God, Abimelech was anxious to heed the divine directives. The Philistine wasted no time in returning Sarah to her husband but not without a sharp rebuke to Abraham. Happy to have his wife back safe and sound, Abraham received the reprimand with a sigh of relief. In return he prayed to God and Abimelech was healed along with his wife and maidservants. The kingdom returned to normal.

Once again God's grace had prevailed over man's folly. The results could have been drastically different, however, had not God's providence overruled man's foolishness. Yet, how much anguish could have been spared both Abraham and Abimelech, both Sarah and the Philistine's wife, if there had not been that one lapse from righteousness. The knowledge that God's grace is waiting in the wings is insufficient grounds for contemplating foolish action. As Abraham finally learned, every friend of God must carefully guard against even slight lapses into the folly of sin (Romans 6:1-4).

MORNING HYMN
Sinners Jesus will receive;
Sound this word of grace to all
Who the heav'nly pathway leave,
All who linger, all who fall.

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« Reply #340 on: December 16, 2006, 07:37:47 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Joshua 5:13-6:16

God's

And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.

As they had miraculously left the land of Egypt, Israel had now entered the land of Canaan by a similar miracle. All the people were safely across the swift waters of the Jordan. The army of Israel encamped at Gilgal. Having settled in the land, Joshua and the people were now ready for their first great test—the capture of the outpost of Jericho.

Since Jericho was the most secure stronghold in a string of fortifications defending the eastern front of Canaan, there were many anxious Israelite hearts the night before the conquest began. Joshua himself was pacing the ground at the edge of the Israeli encampment. While meditating on how to attack Jericho, a man appeared to Joshua with a sword drawn in his hand. Intrepidly Joshua asked, "Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?" (Joshua 5:13) The powerful figure identified himself as the Captain of the host of the Lord. This title, so often afterward applied to the Son of God, revealed to Joshua that this was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Joshua must have known immediately the identity of this warrior for he fell on his face to the earth and worshiped Him.

Joshua 6:2 records, "And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor." Although it was the night before the once-a-day treks around the city of Jericho, the Lord's promise to Joshua was, "I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof." Their lines of battle had not yet been drawn. The fighting had not yet begun. Yet the victory was certain. Even before the event occurred, God said "I have done it."

How can this be? How can God say the battle is won before it is begun? The answer is that God is above time. He has no futures nor pasts, only an eternal present. He always deals in what is for Him the "now." Frequently God uses the words "I will" and "I have" interchangeably.

Consider the similar experience of Abraham, recorded in Genesis 17. Abram was ninety-nine years old when the Lord God appeared to him and, as Joshua did, he fell on his face before the Lord. The Almighty God was about to make a covenant with Abraham that he would become the father of many nations. To Abraham God said, "Neither shall thy name anymore be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee" (Genesis 17:5). To a childless ninety-nine-year-old man, whose wife was nearly that age, God said, "A father of many nations have I made thee."

In quoting that promise in Romans 4:17, the Apostle Paul notes, "And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb" (Romans 4:19). It did not matter that Sarah was well beyond the age of childbearing. God said He had made Abraham the father of many nations and we can count God's "wills" as God's "haves."

As twentieth century believers, the promises of God to us which have yet to be fulfilled are in the eternality of God already fulfilled. Thus the Lord Jesus promised, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again" (John 14:2-3). Although this is an event in history future, nevertheless, it is a promise as certain as if it had already been fulfilled. God calls things that are not yet as if they already are.

Hence, even though the battle plan was strange to Joshua, the defeat of the enemy was sure. Trusting the God of completed promises, "Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD" (Joshua 6:12) and the children of Israel proceeded to the conquest of Jericho. Another great victory was won for the Lord God whose "haves" and "wills" are interchangeable.

MORNING HYMN
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

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« Reply #341 on: December 17, 2006, 01:28:59 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Numbers 9:2-23

Divine Direction

And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.

Each of us who is active and aggressive in our service for the Lord finds one aspect of the Christian life more difficult than any other. We find it almost impossible just to sit and not to move when God is not moving us. The best antidote for anxiety is to trust in God and wait patiently on Him.

The movement of the nation of Israel through the wilderness graphically illustrates the need for God's people to wait on Him. Numbers 9 gives God's program for Israel's progression. The Jews were not on a steady march for forty years in the wilderness, neither were they at permanent rest. In fact, their journey was a long series of stops and goes. Both were at the command of God.

God never leaves His people alone, without a witness or guide. Living by faith sometimes means walking in the dark, it never means living without a light. God would provide the natural phenomena of a cloud and fire. On the day that it was erected, a cloud covered the Tabernacle so that it was entirely enshrouded during the day. At night fire appeared in the sky and prohibited Israel from losing sight of the abode of God. Numbers 9:21 summarizes, "And so it was, when the cloud bode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken in the morning then they journeyed: whether it was by day or night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed." Since the length of the stay at any one place in the wilderness could vary from two days, to a month, to a year, Israel's only obligation was to trust God and watch for the movement of the cloud.

Many are the occasions that we find ourselves awaiting direction from the Lord and wondering if it will ever come. But if we let Him be our guide, we will not only "Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him" (Psalm 37:7), but when He does move us we will be certain that our direction is the correct one.

Some years ago a party of fisherman took their small boat into the Gulf of Mexico. They came to their favorite spot, a place they had been many times before. The weather was balmy, the fish were biting, and they completely lost themselves in the hours of the afternoon. By nightfall a dense fog had moved in and they found themselves completely engulfed in the "soup" and could see only a few feet ahead of them. Their hearts raced with excitement. Then one of the fishermen remembered that he had a small compass in his pocket. They had already determined which direction they should go, but the compass pointed in the opposite direction. Now they were faced with a dilemma. Would they follow their own instincts, or the sure rule of the compass? All the men agreed to follow the direction of the compass. After what seemed an endlessly long time, they saw the shadowy outline of the shore emerging through the fog. They found themselves only a few yards from the dock where they started earlier in the day. The reliable compass had told them which direction to go, they trusted it, and they returned home safely.

Let us not be guilty today of attempting to move ahead of God when He says to "sit still." Likewise, when through the Word of God we are moved in a particular direction, let us not question that direction, but do the will of God. The clouds of concern may completely encircle us today but God will remove them in His own good time and will provide direction for us if we simply trust Him and wait upon Him.

MORNING HYMN
Lord, I would clasp Thy hand in mine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine,
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since 'tis my God that leadeth me!

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« Reply #342 on: December 18, 2006, 10:52:56 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Zephaniah 1:1-3:20

Morning Corruption

I said, Surely thou will fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings.

Zephaniah is a book of contrasts. Perhaps no other prophecy in the Old Testament paints a blacker picture of God's judgment than does Zephaniah. It is a foreboding portrait of the day of Jehovah, the day of the Lord. Still, no prophet paints a brighter picture of Israel's future glory.

Zephaniah was a unique prophet. A contemporary of Jeremiah, more is known about the pedigree of Zephaniah than any other prophet. The first verse of this prophecy shows that his lineage was in the royal line; he was the great-great-grandson of good King Hezekiah. His royal heritage makes Zephaniah's rebuke of the nobles and princes all the more significant. He spoke to Judah and Jerusalem as one of their own, as royalty.

Taking occasion from the threat of invasion by the savage Scythian hordes from the north, Zephaniah preached of the coming of the great day of judgment on Judah and Jerusalem. With all the fervor of a revivalist, Zephaniah announced, "The great day of the LORD is near.... That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness.... And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD; and their blood shall be poured out as dust.... Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath...for He shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land" (Zephaniah 1:14-18).

In the three chapters of this tiny book nearly every word is laced with a warning about God's wrath. In chapter 1 the utter desolation of Judah is predicted as a judgment for idolatry and neglect of the Lord. In chapter 2 Zephaniah predicts that the house of Judah as well as her enemies, Moab and Ammon, will be threatened with perpetual destruction. In chapter 3 he turns his attention to the city of Jerusalem, calling it "filthy and polluted" and "the oppressing city."

Hurling invectives at Jerusalem's princes, her judges, her prophets, and her priests, Zephaniah warns that "the just LORD is in the midst thereof; He will not do iniquity: every morning doth He bring His judgment to light, He faileth not" (Zephaniah 3:5). Literally, morning by morning God will bring His judgment on the wicked city of Jerusalem. No one who defies the Lord God ever escapes punishment. Still, the princes, prophets, priests, and inhabitants of Jerusalem paid no attention to Zephaniah's warning. Instead, "they rose early and corrupted all their doings" (Zephaniah 3:7).

Although this section of Zephaniah's prophecy ends with the failure of the people to heed his warnings, nonetheless the prophet concludes with a series of promises (Zephaniah 3:8-20). The general tone of this last portion is messianic, speaking of the day when Christ will gather the nations and assemble His kingdoms, the day in which He will be in the midst of Jerusalem on Mount Zion, and the faithful remnant of Israel will rejoice and sing praises unto Him.

Zephaniah's life as a prophet was a miserable one; he was unheeded and mocked. Still, the future fulfillment of all his prophecies will grant him eternal vindication. It would be Zephaniah's prayer that none of us today rise early to corrupt our ways. Let's answer his prayer.

MORNING HYMN
For the Lord our God shall come
And shall take His harvest home:
From His field shall in that day
All offenses purge away--
Give His angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast
But the fruitful ears to store
In His garner evermore.

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« Reply #343 on: December 19, 2006, 08:05:59 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 #344 on: December 20, 2006, 08:52:14 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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This devotional is freely distributed by Back To The Bible.
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