So I say, “Thank you!”

August 31, 2018: SOAP #3193:  Ezekiel 12-14; Revelation 5

Scripture:  Revelation (NIV) 5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no-one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no-one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Observation:  No one “in heaven, or on earth, or under the earth” was worthy to open the scroll.  Living a good life on earth did not make one worthy.  Living a sinless life in heaven did not make one worthy.  Being seated on the throne of heaven did not make one worthy to open this scroll.  The holiness of God required that the One who would judge must be One who lived as a man, experienced life among those he would judge, had been tempted in every way as people are tempted, overcame every temptation, then died as one who had broken every commandment, His sinless death being available to pay the penalty for those who had sinned.  Sinners would simply use faith to receive His forgiveness!  Thankfully, there was ONE worthy!  He was worthy because of what He did!  He fulfilled every requirement!

Application:  It is for me to receive God’s forgiveness.  I do not receive it as a physical gift given from someone’s hands into my hands.  No, I receive it as a compliment from a friend.  I hear it spoken.  I believe it to be true.  So, I say, “Thank you.”  I store it in my memory and feel better because someone thought good of me.

Prayer:    Jesus, I believe you died for my sins.  I believe that you are forgiving me now as I acknowledge my sins to you, asking your forgiveness, and asking you to be the Lord of my life.  So, I say, “thank you!”    Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

 

How He speaks to me

August 30, 2018: SOAP #3192:  Ezekiel 8-11; Revelation 4

Scripture:  Ezekiel (NIV) 8:1 In the sixth year, in the sixth month on the fifth day, while I was sitting in my house and the elders of Judah were sitting before me, the hand of the Sovereign LORD came upon me there.

Observation:  Although God is not limited by space and time, He enters space and time to interact with people.  It was a specific year, a specific month, and a specific day.  It was a specific place; Ezekiel was sitting in his house visiting with the elders of Judah.  Ezekiel’s house became a unique holy place where God spoke to His servant.

Application:  I can remember specific places and times when God has spoken to me.  This bedroom that we have turned into my office has become one of those specific places.  Late afternoons, early evenings have become specific times.  Although I have never heard His audible voice, He makes me know.  From the assigned Bible reading, He places a seed thought in my mind.  It is a thought that catches my attention.  It is like the bud of a rose.  As I consider it, the pedals begin to unwrap, and the beauty of the flower takes shape.  The pedals were present in the bud all the time, but I did not see them until the flower unfolded.  This is the way I find the inspiration to write the great majority of these SOAP devotions.  Many times, the main thought of the SOAP does not appear until some of the “pedals” are pealed back.  Quite often it is different than the first thoughts I had when I wrote the S (scripture) and O (observation) above.  God is using the process to personally speak to Leon’s heart.

Prayer:    Heavenly Father, You are the Great Speaker!  Thank you for speaking to me through Your Word and opening my understanding to what you are saying to me.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

According to conduct

August 29, 2018: SOAP #3191:  Ezekiel 4-7; Revelation 3

Scripture:  Ezekiel (NIV) 7:3 The end is now upon you and I will unleash my anger against you. I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. 4 I will not look on you with pity or spare you; I will surely repay you for your conduct and the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that I am the LORD. (verses 8-9 and 27)

Observation:  It is clear: all will be judged!  Judgment was coming to Jerusalem.  God was judging them according to their deeds.  I believe it is wrong to take scriptures directed toward the nation of Israel and apply them to other nations.  I do believe that we can see a holy and loving God at work in judging Israel and believe that He will be just as holy and loving in dealing with any nation today.  As He judged Israel “according” to their conduct, He will judge nations today “according” to their conduct.  Our conduct may be different, but our God is not!   He is still as holy as He ever was, and sin is still as sinful as it ever was!

God will judge the United States according to our sin.  We have murdered 50+ million innocent babies created in the likeness and image of God!  We should not think we can escape God’s judgment.  It may be postponed, but not cancelled.

Application:  Judgment is “according to conduct.”  But God has provided a glorious remedy.  I will be judged according to my conduct, OR I will be judged according to Jesus’ conduct!  When I accept Jesus as my Savior and Lord, I am judged according to His conduct!  His death becomes the payment for my sin!!!  He forgives me and cleanses me from all unrighteousness!!! (1John 1:9).

Prayer:    Heavenly Father, thank you seems so insufficient.  I owe Jesus my life for the forgiveness He has provided for me.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

Knowing the Speaker

August 28, 2018: SOAP #3190:  Ezekiel 1-3; Revelation 2

Scripture:  Ezekiel (NIV) 3:4 He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. … 10 And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you.

Revelation (NIV) 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches…  (also, in verses 11, 17, and 29)

Observation:  It is so important to be walking in tune with the Holy Spirit.  It is good to know what God has said, but even more important to hear what God is saying.

As we read the scriptures and meditate on them, we learn what God has done in the past.  As we are open to the Holy Spirit, He opens the scriptures to us to show us what He is saying today!

Application:  God is a speaker!  He likes to reveal Himself to those who appreciate Him and take the time to listen.  As people, we usually do not share the deepest thoughts in our heart with those who only have a few minutes to be with us.  With those in a hurry, we only share a quick greeting or a comment about the weather.  It takes time to develop a relationship that we can trust with our deepest thoughts.  If I do not spend much time with God, I should not expect Him to say much to me.

Prayer:    Heavenly Father, forgive me for saying that I really want to know you, yet so often do not take advantage of the time you provide for me to spend with you.  I am finding that the more I meditate on you, the more you speak to me.    Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

Two Descriptions…

August 27, 2018: SOAP #3189:  Jeremiah 52; Revelation 1; Psalm 143-144

Scripture:  Psalm (NIV) 144:1 Of David. Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. 2 He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.

Revelation (NIV) 1:13 …someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash round his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Observation:  Today’s Bible reading had two descriptions of God.  The first from King David in the book of Psalms and the second from the Apostle John who had been exiled on the island of Patmos.  David knew God’s character and was assured that God could be trusted to care for him, protect him, deliver him.  John knew how far God would go to care for, protect and deliver people—He would go all the way to the cross!  He did not just go TO the cross, He went THROUGH the cross, THROUGH the tomb, and all the way TO resurrected life!

Application:  Sometimes I do not appreciate the awesomeness of having the resurrected Savior of the world living in me.  I move through parts of my day as though nothing special is happening.  There is no part of my day that is not full of potential!

Prayer:   Jesus, the life you live in me is resurrected life.  Thank you.   Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

Showing My Hospitality!

August 26, 2018: SOAP #3188:  Jeremiah 50-51; 3John

Scripture:  3John (NIV) 6 They’ve made a full report back to the church here, a message about your love. It’s good work you’re doing, helping these travelers on their way, hospitality worthy of God himself! 7 They set out under the banner of the Name and get no help from unbelievers. 8 So they deserve any support we can give them. In providing meals and a bed, we become their companions in spreading the Truth.

Observation:  John is writing to Gaius who had opened his heart and home to some traveling ministers.  The traveling ministers had returned and reported back to their home church.  They gave a such glowing report of the hospitality received that John writes a thank-you letter.

My focus was drawn to verse 6, “…worthy of God himself.”  I wonder if it is a hospitality that is worthy of being compared to the hospitality God shows us, or if it a hospitality that we should show God.  Hmmm.

Application:  If anyone deserves excellent hospitality, it is God.  I should show him the greatest hospitality as He lives in my life!  I should always treat Him as the Most Honored Guest!  I want to make Him know that He is welcome to share my life.  I want Him to know that I am honored to have Him spend the day with me.  I do not want to ignore Him or forget He is with me!  What could be too great an imposition in having the Creator of the Universe accompanying me throughout my day!!!   My response to any impositions is one way I can show Him how much I honor Him.  I do not want Him to ever think that I do not value His Presence or that He is not welcome!

Prayer:   Heavenly Father, I honor you!  I know I am unworthy to have you share my life.  Amazing, as you share my life, I get to share your life!  Jesus, thank you for making this possible by dying to cleanse me from the sin that separated me from you.  Holy Spirit show me how to express hospitality that is “worthy of God.”  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

Acts of Kindness

August 25, 2018: SOAP #3187:  Jeremiah 37-39; Psalm 79; 2John

Scripture:  Jeremiah (NIV) 39:16 “Go and tell Ebed-Melech the Cushite, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am about to fulfil my words against this city through disaster, not prosperity. At that time, they will be fulfilled before your eyes. 17 But I will rescue you on that day, declares the LORD; you will not be handed over to those you fear. 18 I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the LORD.’”

Observation:  Who is Ebed-Melech the Cushite?  Why would God have something special to say to this Ethiopian eunuch serving in the court of King Zedekiah?  The answer can be found in the previous chapter (38:7-13).   Although not a Jew, Ebed spoke boldly to the King on behalf of Jeremiah the prophet who had been thrown into a damp, muddy cistern.  At the king’s direction, Ebed gathered some men, found some ropes, found some old rags to be used as padding under the arms of the prophet, then raised Jeremiah to safety.

When God brought judgment on the city, God would personally rescue Ebed!

Application:  God notices the acts of kindness done by those who love God.  God took Ebed’s acts personally and so He took specific, personal action on behalf of Ebed!   “I will rescue you…I will save you…”  Ebed had ministered to Jeremiah, but God was going to minister to Ebed!

Prayer:    Heavenly Father, thank you for noticing and repaying acts of kindness your people do today.  We do not read that Ebed was seeking your hand, but you extended your care to him out of the goodness of your heart!  You look at our acts of kindness as though we had done them personally to you!  …and you repay.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!