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Zion, Dwelling Place of God

Posted by: David Carroll

Psalm 132:13-16 (NKJV)

For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her poor with bread. I will also clothe her priests with salvation, And her saints shall shout aloud for joy.

What is Zion? It is a term used in the Bible that speaks of the Jewish people, Israel. It goes beyond that, and speaks of an ideal nation or society. It is Heaven, which nothing on earth can adequately represent. The temple on earth was a shadow of the real.

What will we do in Heaven? We will be satisfied; we will shout aloud for joy!

Hebrews 12:22 (NKJV)
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,

Revelation 21:2 (NKJV)
Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Revelation 21:23 (NKJV)
The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.

A Slippery Slope

Posted by: David Carroll

1 Kings 11:4 (NKJV)

For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.

King Solomon had asked for wisdom and God had made him the wisest man the world has ever seen. Human wisdom will mislead you when it goes against God's wisdom. It is hard to fathom that after starting so well, Solomon ended so pitifully. The difference between David and Solomon was that of trust. David sinned many times and yet always returned to God with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. David's own intellectual abilities did not get in the way of his trust in the Lord. Solomon sinned and reasoned in his mind that he could handle it. That was his fatal mistake.

However great our strengths, if we rely on them rather than on God, we will be sure to fall. David, the emotional man, loved God with all his heart. Solomon, the intellectual, loved God only with his mind.

1 Corinthians 10:12 (NKJV)

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

Poor Recordkeeping on Purpose

Posted by: David Carroll

Psalm 130:3-4 (NIV)

If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.

Sin separates us from God who is of holier eyes than to behold evil. God must punish sin; He already has, once for all. His wrath and judgment upon sin was carried out upon Christ on the cross.

1 Peter 3:18 (NKJV)

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.

Hebrews 9:28a (NKJV)

Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.

God is a God of justice but he is also a God of love and mercy. He has satisfied his justice and now can rightly offer forgiveness. The Psalm above says that when God forgives, he forgets. He does not keep a record of forgiven sins. But perhaps you and I should never forget so that we can remember all that God has done!

Standing Ovation

Posted by: David Carroll

Acts 7:55-56 (NKJV)

But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!"

Hebrews 1:3 (NKJV)

who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

When Stephen was preaching, he made the Pharisees so mad that they stoned him to death. He was the first Christian martyr. Stephen was ready however. He was full of the Spirit and when he looked up to heaven he saw Jesus standing there. Now in Hebrews we know that Jesus has finished the work he was sent to do, dying on the cross for our sins, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. From this, I can only conclude that upon seeing the love and dedication of Stephen for his Lord, that Jesus stood up in approval to welcome Stephen into heaven.

Magnificent Buildings

Posted by: David Carroll

1 Kings 7:51a (NKJV)

So all the work that King Solomon had done for the house of the Lord was finished

Acts 7:48-50 (NKJV)

However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: "Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, Or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?"

I've been reading about the temple that King Solomon built. Think about all the magnificent cathedrals that have been built over the centuries. But when we visit them, are we inspired by God and his glory? Certainly we are impressed with the dedication and skill with which men built these buildings. However, these buildings are dead. Most of them are no longer here or else they are in a sad state of disrepair. When God builds something, he makes it live. Think about life. It is constantly being renewed. Even the cells within our bodies are being completely replaced every several months with new ones. As amazing as some things are that man's ingenuity has built, man can only dream of building self-repairing and self-reproducing machines. Yet, our own bodies are perfect examples of such. Truly we are the creature and not the creator.

If you ... , then I will ...

Posted by: David Carroll

1 Kings 6:11-13 (NKJV)

Then the word of the Lord came to Solomon, saying: "Concerning this temple which you are building, if you walk in My statutes, execute My judgments, keep all My commandments, and walk in them, then I will perform My word with you, which I spoke to your father David. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel."

God has given both conditional and unconditional promises throughout the Bible. This one is clearly conditional. It is really very simple, "Do all that I have commanded you and then I will perform all that I have said, and I will dwell with you." Building a suitable stone temple will not guarantee God's presence. You can't put God in a box. We must build a suitable temple in our heart by our obedience to His word.

Obedience to an all-wise, loving God, is not a burden. It the loving response of the one devoted to Him, the One who can be trusted. When will we get this one right?

John 14:23b (NKJV)

"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

Full of God's Grace and Power

Posted by: David Carroll

Acts 6:8-10 (NIV)

Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, ... These men began to argue with Stephen, but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.

Acts 6:15 (NIV)

All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Stephen was a godly man. You could see it on his face. Have you ever noticed that about anyone you know? Some people just seem to exude the presence of God in their lives. I hope that people can see that in me. Notice that even when things got rough, it says opposition arose against Stephen, that he was unflappable. This verse tells the secret too, he spoke by the Spirit, his source of power. It must have been like arguing with God! A pointless exercise.

Conflict of Interests

Posted by: David Carroll

Acts 5:29 (NIV)

Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men!

Acts 5:38b-39 (NIV)

...Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.

The Sanhedrin ruling class in Jerusalem wanted to silence Peter and the apostles. I love how they replied that for them, obeying God rather than men was mandatory. We find that when the church was most persecuted was when it grew the most.

I like how one of the wiser rulers concluded his discussion of the issue, a human endeavor is doomed to failure but one that originates from the will of God cannot fail. This is why when we pray in the will of God, we know that our prayers will be answered.

God the Holy Spirit

Posted by: David Carroll

Acts 5:3-4 (NIV)

Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God."

I am struck by this verse not so much because of the story it tells of a deceptive couple in the church, but rather what it indirectly says about the Holy Spirit. Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit. Then this is restated later to say that he lied to God. This clearly equates the Holy Spirit with God. There are a number of people who speak against the Trinity because the word is not found in the Bible. But the idea is certainly there. It is easy to find how Jesus and God are one in the same essence but this rather obscure verse does the same for the Holy Spirit.

No-Cost Sacrifice, an Oxymoron

Posted by: David Carroll

2 Samuel 24:24 (NKJV)

Then the king said to Araunah, "No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

King David wanted to purchase a piece of property which was to be the future location of the temple in Jerusalem. The seller wanted to just give it to him, but David insisted on paying a fair price for it. David thought it would be an insult to offer to God that which did not cost him anything. He knew that it is the giving up which made the sacrifice, and not the sacrifice itself. This is why when Jesus saw the widow put her mite into the offering he praised her for her sacrifice. When we give, we should remember that God does not look at the amount on the check but rather what is left on the stub. Are you giving sacrificially?

A Picture of Fellowship

Posted by: David Carroll

Acts 2:42 (NIV)

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

This is a pretty good picture of how the fellowship of members in the Church ought to be. They study to learn the doctrines of the faith. This is part of their unity, a common belief. They have fellowship with one another by dining together and praying together. So is this what we see in the church today?

John 13:34-35 (NIV)

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Power from Above

Posted by: David Carroll

Acts 1:8 (NKJV)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

The Holy Spirit is Christ in the Christian. While Jesus was here with us, he could not be in everyone of us. That is why He said that it was good that He goes away, so that the Holy Spirit (really the Spirit of Himself), could come to abide in every one of us.

Like any good CEO, Jesus makes sure we are equipped with plenty of Power. Then Jesus lays out the plan for us, three concentric circles. We begin in our own familiar neighborhood, then we move out into the surrounding regions, and finally we encompass the entire world. What is the task? We are to be witnesses of Him, telling people about Jesus and what we have seen and heard and know that He has done in our own life.

He watches over you

Posted by: David Carroll

John 21:4 (NKJV)

But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

The disciples had gone fishing, a rather worldly occupation. They had fished all night and not caught anything. They were tired frustrated but they did not know that Jesus was standing there, watching them. He was interested even in their mundane efforts, having the kind of everyday difficulties we are all so familiar with. Jesus helped them by giving them a bountiful catch and then invited them to come and have breakfast with Him.

Nothing of what we usually think of as being spiritual here in this story, just Jesus love and interest in our physical needs, then his invitation to fellowship with him at breakfast before he sends them out into the world. How like Jesus to make the difficulties we have in this world an opportunity to have a closer fellowship with Him. Have you had your breakfast with Jesus today?

New Devotional

Posted by: David Carroll

I love you Lord...

John 3:16 [NKJV]

For God so loved the world

... because you first loved me.

Paid in Full

Posted by: David Carroll

John 19:30 (NKJV)

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

There are seven sayings that Jesus made while on the cross. This one, I believe is the most significant one. He cried out "tetelestai" which is a greek word that they used to write on bills of lading used to describe a shipment of goods. It meant, that the account was completed, or as we would say today, "paid in full." Folks, the account is finished, it is paid in full. What account? Our sin debt to God. Jesus paid the price for our sins and offers us the free gift of eternal life.

New Devotional

Posted by: David Carroll

I love you Lord...

John 3:16 [NKJV]

For God so loved the world

... because you first loved me.

The Power of His Words

Posted by: David Carroll

John 18:4-6 (NKJV)

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, "Whom are you seeking?"

They answered Him, "Jesus of Nazareth."

Jesus said to them, "I am He. " And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. 6 Now when He said to them, "I am He, " they drew back and fell to the ground.

Jesus had been in the Garden of Gesthemene all night in agonizing prayer to the Father. This scene is of the Priests and Roman soldiers and Judas coming to take Jesus away. Jesus spoke the same words he had spoken when he said "Before Abraham was, I AM", using the name God had given himself with Moses. The force of this statement was enough to knock these men to the ground. Yet Jesus would go willingly, for no man took his life, he laid it down of his own accord. He did this to suffer the wrath of God on our behalf. There is coming a day, however, when he will return in majesty and great spendor to take his rightful throne. I believe that even then we will draw back and fall to the ground in worship.

The only true God

Posted by: David Carroll

John 17:3 (NKJV)

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

There are lots of gods in the world today. But Jesus makes it clear here. There is only one true God and He is the one who sent Jesus Christ. Everything Jesus says is true, including the part about no one being able to come to the Father except through Himself. If a religion does not recognize Jesus for who he plainly says He is, then it is a false religion. Don't get upset with that, truth is exclusive by definition. Logic says that two statements that disagree with each other cannot be both true. The statement that the world teaches "There are many ways to God" cannot be reconciled with what Jesus says. That is why C.S. Lewis said that you cannot say that Jesus was a great moral teacher without also believing Him to be Lord because if what He said is not true, then he is either a liar or a lunatic or something worse.

John 5:24 (NKJV)

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Thanks, I needed that...

Posted by: David Carroll

Psalm 119:71 (NKJV)

It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.

We get jolted back to our senses a lot. Being humbled reminds me of who I really and to whom I owe everything. That is a good thing to know and so I can be thankful for such affliction. You might be sick or bedridden; perhaps that is a great time to catch up with God's word. Time after time, I have seen this in my own life and in the lives of others. God has a way of getting our attention. It's too bad that we don't seem to seek Him except when we need Him. Folks, we need Him always. How we need to remember that.

Do it for Him and by His power

Posted by: David Carroll

Proverbs 16:2-3 (NKJV)

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the spirits.

Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established.

We might consider it pretty bad to deceive people about ourselves. What's worse is when we deceive ourselves. Our good deeds, our giving, our upstanding service all might be seen by the world as wonderful. We could easily convince ourselves too. God looks at the heart. He knows about you things that you don't even know about yourself. We need to allow God to examine our motives and show us what is right.

Do what you do for the Lord and not for yourself or even for other people. This verse says that then you will have the right thoughts with which to plan the kind of work that pleases God. This kind of work will be most beneficial for everybody including you.

Colossians 3:23 (NKJV)

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,

New Devotional

Posted by: David Carroll

I love you Lord...

John 3:16 [NKJV]

For God so loved the world

... because you first loved me.

Holy God, Fear and Worship

Posted by: David Carroll

2 Samuel 6:6-7 (NKJV)

And when they came to Nachon's threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God.

2 Samuel 6:9a

David was afraid of the Lord that day

2 Samuel 6:14a

Then David danced before the Lord with all his might

King David wanted to bring the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem, the new capital city. In the law God had given to Moses, there were specific instructions that the ark was to be carried on the Levite's shoulders but they were moving the ark on a cart pulled by oxen. David's motive was good, but the inattention to obey the details of God's holy word was dealt with severely by God.

Psalm 111:10 (NKJV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.

My dog loves me but when he steps out of bounds I give him a stern correction. Immediately, he will get back in line because he is motivated by a fear of and a respect for my authority in his life. So too, we should be motivated by a fear of and a reverence for the things of God.

Notice that after the correction how David worshiped before the Lord; he danced before Him with all his might. He had a glad heart and was devoted to his God.

Keep it clean

Posted by: David Carroll

John 13:10 (NKJV)

Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you."

Jesus was answering Peter, an all or nothing kind of guy, who at first recoiled from having his feet washed by Jesus but then, decided that if it meant having fellowship with Jesus he wanted the whole bath. The bath represents being saved and made righteous by God when first becoming a believer. Jesus says that for his disciples, there is no need to be bathed again since that has already been done. It is true that we are cleansed from our sin when we are saved by God's forgiveness, but what about when we sin again after being saved? Jesus answers this wonderfully here in this verse. No need to be saved again, that is already done, just wash up those small parts that are dirty. How is that done? By confessing or agreeing with God on a continual basis.

1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In this way, we can keep a short account with God and stay close and clean.

Hearing, but not believing

Posted by: David Carroll

John 12:44-50 (NKJV)

Then Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him-- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."

Jesus speaks clearly and plainly. To hear what He says and not believe it is the same as rejecting Him. Jesus says that is all that is needed for judgment, your decision about what to do with Jesus. He says too, that what you have heard Him say is the same as hearing God the Father say it. It is a matter of everlasting life or everlasting death.

Notice that we are judged not by our good deeds, but by our response to the Word of God.

This is Jesus' last public invitation to believe in Him and notice the passion with which He gives it: "Then Jesus cried out and said." He cried out, pleading that those who would hear Him should believe in Him. Jesus came to save, not to judge. Rejecting Him however will result in judgment.

As a man thinks, so is he

Posted by: David Carroll

Proverbs 15:26 (NKJV)

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, But the words of the pure are pleasant.

When we think of sin, usually we think of sins of commission in which something wrong is done like lying, stealing or killing. We might even consider those sins where a good or right thing was left undone like failing to be kind or failing to be obedient. These would be sins of omission. Perhaps the most pernicious sin is that of the thought life where no one but you and God can see. God, I pray that my thoughts and my words would be pleasing to you.

New Devotional

Posted by: David Carroll

I love you Lord...

John 3:16 [NKJV]

For God so loved the world

... because you first loved me.

A sweet parting

Posted by: David Carroll

Psalm 116:15 (NKJV)

Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints.

We mourn when a loved one dies. If you know that person was saved and heaven bound, it is sweet sorrow. The sorrow is for us, the sweetness is for them.

I heard a story about an old couple who had just arrived in heaven. They were overwhelmed at the beauty of it all. The husband turned to the wife and said, "You know, if you had not feed us all those bran muffins and yogurt all those years, we could have been here ten years ago!"

We fear death because it is an unknowable journey away from the comfort of our life here. Like the unborn baby being made terribly uncomfortable when he passes from his mother's womb to the bright new world, so might death be.

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (NKJV)

6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

Earth: home, sweet home

Posted by: David Carroll

Psalm 115:16 (NKJV)

The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's; But the earth He has given to the children of men.

The heavens are big, way big. I believe God made them that way to show us how big He is. We have made it as far as the moon, and they say we might make it to Mars someday. Despite all the Star Wars movies, we are pretty much locked in here on this earth. I don't believe we will find any life on other planets; the earth is a very special place. One look back at it from a vantage point such as the moon shows a beautiful blue planet unlike any other in our solar system.

The conditions on earth are precisely tuned to support life. Scientists have claimed that the likelihood of finding another planet with all the requirements for life such as we find here is very slim. As beautiful as the earth is, we have managed to mess it up pretty bad, mostly because of our sin. The Bible says that the whole creation groans and labors because of man's fallen nature.

Just like we might like to consider buying a nice new house someday, the Bible says that one day, God will create a new heaven and a new earth for us.

Revelation 21:1 (NKJV)

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.

2 Peter 3:13 (NKJV)

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Trade offs

Posted by: David Carroll

Proverbs 15:16-17 (NIV)

Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil. Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.

We have to make decisions in life knowing that what we will gain may cost us in other ways. Take a stressful job that may require you to be away from your family, or mom going to work to be able to afford that nicer home. Proverbs is not a book of laws rather a book of wisdom. Your choices in such matters ought to be made in light of this wisdom.

The Eternal One

Posted by: David Carroll

John 8:58 (NKJV)

Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."

Jesus was born of a woman and so as a human he began to exist at that point in time. But Jesus' existed prior to that as God himself, the second member of the Trinity, God the Son. "I AM" is the name God gave when Moses asked him what His name was. Thus Jesus is identifying himself with God. Notice the aspect of eternity in the present tense of the statement. Eternity does not have a past and a future, no beginning nor end. Appropriately we can only speak of the eternal now.

Micah 5:2 (NKJV)

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting."

A Pleasing Study

Posted by: David Carroll

Psalm 111:2 (NKJV)

The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them.

I love science. Why do I get pleasure out of that? It is the wonder of fascination with how things are and how they work. From one edge to the other the very small and strange world of quantum particles to the very large and equally strange world of the structure of the entire universe, it is all so wonderful. Sir Isaac Newton one of the greatest minds of all time, once said "My life has been like that of a child walking on the seashore, every once and a while picking up a pebble or a shell that interested me, while the whole ocean of truth lay before me." We are getting close to reaching the very edges of reality in our study of this world we live in, yet the fundamental questions still remain. The simple answer to those questions is found in the first verse of the Bible, "In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth"

Psalm 19:1-3 (NIV)

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.