Friday, April 30, 2010

Divine Mountain Peak

Bill Rice Ranch - First Light Devotionals 

Isaiah 53:4-5 "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."
Isaiah 53 is the equivalent of a mountain peak in the Word of God: you can see it coming and going. You can see it coming in Genesis, and you can look in the rearview mirror and see it in Revelation. It is a mountain peak in the Bible because it speaks of a mountain peak in history. The Lord Jesus and what He has done for us is the very epicenter of all that has happened and will happen. The suffering servant in Isaiah 53 is not talking about a nation-it is referring to the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who suffered for our sin.
I love reading this chapter of the Bible. It is too good to simply skim over. When you read Isaiah 53, pay particular attention to the references to our sorrows, Christ's stripes, and God's satisfaction. Justice says, "Our sin-our suffering." God's grace and provision spoken of in Isaiah 53 says, "Our sin-Christ's suffering." That is an amazing thing!
"Our griefs . . . our sorrows . . .our trangressions . . . our iniquities . . . chastisement of our peace . . . iniquity of us all"
"Despised . . . rejected of men . . . man of sorrows . . . stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted . . . wounded . . . bruised . . . stripes . . . oppressed . . . afflicted . . . travail"
"We are healed . . . it pleased the LORD to bruise him . . . the pleasure of the LORD . . . and shall be satisfied"
Why don't you read Isaiah 53 right now! These are epic verses! Our sins were given to Christ, and God's righteousness was given to us. Our heritage as servants of God is "their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD" (Isaiah 54:17b), and it is worth remembering that today.

Prayer Requests
1. Services tonight in Ripley, TNWoodridge, IL; and Lakeside, AZ
2. Deaf Rally this weekend in Frederick, MD
3. Ranch evangelists preaching this weekend in Leesburg, VA; Bear, DE; Phoenix, AZ (5/1); Glendale, AZ; and Smyrna, TN
Missed a First Light?  Browse the archives here: firstlight-blog 
Bill Rice Ranch | 627 Bill Rice Ranch Road | Murfreesboro | TN | 37128

Thursday, April 29, 2010


If following God means you have to compromise with His word then you are not following God. Pastor Mark Williams

We’re not suggesting you move out of the will of God. You be a pastor- you’ve got a fight on your hands. You be a missionary -you’ve got a fight on your hands. It’s going to be rough, tough, don’t do it if you can do anything else! But if the Holy Spirit of God constrains you- don’t do anything else! - Jack Wyrtzen, the man God used to found Word of Life

When God leads, He doesn't always lead over clover. He doesn't lead through pathways strewn with flowers. He doesn'r always lead going downhill. He doesn't always lead by removing the stones. Because everything is going easy in your life doesn't mean my friend, that you're in God's will. - J. Vernon McGee

It is essential at this point to state emphatically that Marx and his comrades, while anti-God, were not atheists, as present-day Marxists claim to be. That is, while they openly denounced and reviled God, they hated a God in whom they believed. They challenged not His existence, but His supremacy. When the revolution broke out in Paris in 1871, the Communard Flourens declared, "Our enemy is God. Hatred of God is the beginning of wisdom." - Richard Wurmbrand

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


MALACHI 2:10-17

Pastor Rick Jackson


1. Common Heritage [Matthew 3:9]

And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
Matthew 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

2. Common Creation [Acts 17:22-32]

3. Common Problem [Romans 5:12]

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Job 14:1 Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.


1. The Charge [v. 11]

2. The Consequence [v. 12-13]

3. The Corruption [v. 12-13] widespread


1. God’s Purpose for Marriage [v. 14-15]

2. God’s Hatred for Divorce & Domestic Violence [v. 16]

3. God’s Weariness for Hypocrisy [v. 17]

Revelation 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

The God of Heaven

Days of Praise
The God of Heaven
April 28, 2010
"And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land." (Jonah 1:9)
It was by these words that the prophet Jonah identified himself to the merchants of Tarshish as he was fleeing on their ship from the presence of the Lord. This special title, "the God of heaven," seems generally to have been used by the Jews when they were talking to men of other religions, stressing that their God was no mere tribal deity, but the true God who had created the very heavens.
The title was first used by Abraham, speaking to his servant: "And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth" (Genesis 24:3). At this time, the nation of Israel existed only in the promise of this "God of heaven."
It also appears frequently in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, first in the decree of Cyrus the Persian: "The Lord God of heaven . . . hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem" (Ezra 1:2). Even though the Persians followed lesser gods, Cyrus knew that the one God of heaven was the Creator. The name then reappears several times in the book of Daniel, who was living in the palace of the heathen king of Babylon. Its final Old Testament occurrence is Daniel 2:44: "The God of heaven |shall| set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed."
In the New Testament it occurs only twice, both in Revelation. In one instance, John writes that the ungodly nations "blasphemed the God of heaven"; in the other, he says they "gave glory to the God of heaven" (Revelation 16:11; 11:13). In our own witnessing today, especially to those who don't know or believe the Bible, it is also good to stress that our God is not just the God of Judeo-Christian tradition, but the Creator of all things. HMM
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Institute for Creation Research | 1806 Royal Lane | Dallas | TX | 75229

Who Are You?

Bill Rice Ranch - First Light Devotionals 

Isaiah 51:12 "I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass"
Any man with a sense of his own unworthiness may have a tendency to feel like he has no claim on God's peace or God's comfort. But God turns that notion on its head in verse 12: "I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou. . . ."
The Bible says that God's salvation and His righteousness are eternal-they go from generation to generation. In contrast, man is like the grass which withers in the hot sun or the garment that is eaten by moths (see verses 1-6). God says, "I am the One who comforts; who are you to fear?"
We say, "Oh, I have no right to peace or comfort or confidence," but God says, "Who are you?" The children of Israel had forgotten the LORD their maker (verse 13), and He reminded them that He is the One who made everything! God, the Creator of the universe, is the One who comforts--who in the world are you to live without His comfort?

Most of our fears boil down to fear of men. Failures, misunderstandings, ill will, etc., if traced down to their roots, come back to people. God reminds us that He is the One who comforts by asking, "Who are you?" If God made a nation from a barren couple (Abraham and Sarah-verse 2), who are you to fear? If God made the heavens and the earth and will destroy the same (verse 6), who are you to fear? If God made the law-the rules (verses 7-8), who are you to fear?
Our tendency is to think that we are out of place to have peace and comfort. But if you belong to God, you are not out of place. In fact, it is presumptuous to not have what God is able to give.
In contrast to men who are like grass, God says, "But I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The LORD of hosts is his name." (verse 15) He is the LORD, and He is the "God of all comfort." (II Cor. 1:3)
God says, "Who art thou?" and the answer is simple: I am no one. I have no right to be fearful when God gives courage. I have no right to be doubtful when God gives confidence. I have no right to be discontent when God is the source of contentment. I have no right to live in lack when God is the One who provides. And that is good to be reminded of today.
"I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou. . . ."
Prayer Requests
1. Services tonight in Franklin, TN; Ripley, TN; and Woodridge, IL
2. Deaf Rally this weekend in Frederick, MD
Missed a First Light?  Browse the archives here: firstlight-blog 
Bill Rice Ranch | 627 Bill Rice Ranch Road | Murfreesboro | TN | 37128

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Back at the Ranch - May Letter

Subject: Back at the Ranch - May Letter

Back at the Ranch 
April 2010

Dear Friend,

Over the past few years, the Lord has provided for us to install air-conditioning in the dining hall and, recently, to begin the process of air-conditioning the camper cabins as well. We are grateful to report that we believe we have what we need to finish the essentials of air-conditioning for all the camper cabins except for Heidi Mount Lodge. While it is still our plan to finish this also, let me tell you exactly what it will take to be sure that we can finish.
In order to complete the Heidi Mount air-conditioning project, we will need time, skill, and money. Thankfully, as of today (April 20), we do still have the necessary time, though that window is closing. We also have friends who have the skill to get the job done. We are grateful for this as well, since such help is sometimes hard to come by this time of year.
The key, then, to making all of this work is simply money! I have been encouraged by friends and churches who have given toward this goal in the last few days. All have given generously; some have given sacrificially.
Air-conditioning work at the Ranch The cost to finish the air-conditioning in Heidi Mount is $6,500. This amount will cover everything needed to get the job done, including preparation, equipment, and labor. Would you take this moment to prayerfully consider helping? We trust the Lord for this need, so anything He would put on your heart would make a difference in reaching this goal. Please designate your gift to the "AC Project."
None of us can do everything, but all of us can do something if God should so lead. The amount one gives is important, but not nearly as important as the time in which he gives. We now have the time to finish this project if we have the money to do so.
This amount is above and beyond the already significant amount needed for salaries, other projects, and daily/monthly expenses. We thank God for those who have stepped up to give time, money, prayers, and skill that exceed the normal. They understand that this opportunity is limited.
In the past year, thousands of dollars have been given toward the air-conditioning project. While I do not know exactly how all the remaining elements will come together in the next month, I do know Who is in control of the elements. God always takes care of us, and the friends He has given us are a reminder of that care! Thank you so much for your prayers and for your interest in this ministry.

Your friend,
Wil Rice IV,
Bill Rice Ranch, Inc. 
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Murfreesboro, Tennessee 37128
Bill Rice Ranch | 627 Bill Rice Ranch Road | Murfreesboro | TN | 37128

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Bright side to the Tribulation


A bright side of the Tribulation


"And I saw another angel ... saying, do not harm the earth...til we have sealed the bondservants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them who were sealed one hundred and forty-four thousand from every tribe of the sons of Israel" Rev. 7:2-4.

The Spirit of God is gone but the servants of God are these 144,000 Jews.   Many Bible scholars believe that the 144,000 will be Jewish Evangelists, like the Apostle Paul, during the tribulation. He said he was one "born out of due time" 1 Cor. 15:8. Now think about this. The Jews are scattered all over the world. Imagine 144,000 Apostle Pauls preaching all over the world, with the power of God upon them like the Apostle. You talk about revival.
A great multitude saved

"After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands... These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  " Rev. 7:9-14.

Is anyone going to be saved during the tribulation? Yes, a great multitude from every tribe and tongue, under the powerful preaching of these converted Jews who are scattered all over the world and already know the languages.
Then shall the end come

The context is critical here. "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come" Matt, 24:14. This whole chapter is Jesus' answer as to "when shall the end of the world (age) come" vs 3. Jesus is not talking about the rapture but the return to the earth. The whole context is clear about that. More on this later. Too often today people apply it to the rapture and then declare Jesus cannot come until the great commission is fulfilled. NO. If that were so then the coming of the Lord Jesus is not imminent, meaning he could not have come at any time or now! The honest truth is we are a long ways from fulfilling the great commission. We ought to be passionate about trying to fulfill it and get the gospel to every creature. But this passage in Matt. 24 tells us it will be fulfilled during the tribulation. Awesome truth but it all fits. Reread this lesson until it becomes clear to you.  Stay with us and see how it all fits.
O dear people. You passion and mine ought to be to get the gospel to that lost person we meet and have a few minuets with now. It may be the last member of the Body of Christ before the rapture. Wouldn't that be phenomenal if your had the privilege of winning the last person to Christ in this age? All because of Calvary, sumner
Prayer:  Father, You are not willing that any should perish. Help us to realize that the person you put is with may be the last one to be saved and we must get the gospel to them and give them a chance to go to heaven even as someone gave us the gospel one day. In Jesus name.

Please write and let us know how these devotionals have affected your life.



Sunday, April 25, 2010


LUKE 17:32

Pastor Rick Jackson

Memory can be a wonderful thing. Memory can also be a curse. There are some things God tells us to forget. God had Paul say, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” But there are some things God’s wants us to remember.

Exodus 13:3 And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.
Nehemiah 4:14 And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord…
Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
Psalm 63:6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
Psalm 105:5 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;
Psalm 137:6 If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
John 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
John 16:4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.
Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
2 Timothy 2:8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:
Hebrews 13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
Jude 1:17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

But the one I want you to concentrate on for this message is the very simple, very concise words of the Lord Jesus from Luke 17:32 Remember Lot's wife.

Memories can be a blessing. Remembering can strengthen us in our Christian walk. Remember your salvation! Remember decisions of consecration which you have made: baptism, assurance of salvation, church membership, giving God’s way, witnessing…

But why remember Lot’s wife? It must be important for Jesus to say it. Ut must be important for the Spirit of God to move Luke to record it. There are a multitude of reasons but three must suffice for this message. REMEMBER LOT’S WIFE BECAUSE:


1. The Danger of Lamenting Over Temporal Loss [Phil. 3:7-9, 17-19, 4:11-13]

2 Corinthians 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2. The Danger of Worrying About Your Past Mistakes [Phil. 4:13]

If it can be rectified- do it!

If it was a sin- Confess it! 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If it can’t be rectified, and it wasn’t a sin - F.I.D.O.!!!! [FORGET IT & DRIVE ON]

3. The Danger of Worrying About Your Past Mis-steps [Ps. 118:24]


1. We Can Serve Christ [Phil. 3:10-16]

2. We Can Seek Souls [Phil. 1:12-18, 27]

3. We Will See Jesus [Phil. 1:21-23]


1. Obey God Regardless of Men’s Opinions [Gal. 1:10, Acts 5:29]

Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

2. Obey God Despite Circumstances [Phil. 4:11-13]

3. Obey God & Rejoice In It [Phil. 4:3-4]

During the War Between the States a messenger from Stonewall Jackson delivered a message to his pastor. An anxious crowd gathered expecting war news particularly since the letter was dated immediately following a major battle. The letter read, “My dear pastor, I recalled today that my gift to foreign missions was due. Find it enclosed. May the day soon come when this war is over… that we may get back to our primary task of saving the souls of men.”

His heart was on the main business.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? Reason #47

Could it be so that God puts is people in the place He wants them to be to reach others with the Gospel who otherwise would not be reached? Read the rest and you decide. Oh, and rejoice that Celeste is coming home!
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 2010 21:55:21 -0400
Subject: Celeste is coming homefrom rehab! PTL

PTL Celeste is coming home from rehab next Sat, a week from today.
This has been so hard on her. PLEASE pray she will get her strength and energy back quickly.
We have seen 10-20 people receive the Lord Jesus while she has been there. PTL.
We are, as they in Acts, "rehearsing what GOD DID" acts 14:27. How we all need to do that to revive our thinking and actions to "get in the game" and get the gospel to EVERY person possible.
NO ONE refused "Your Ticket to Heaven" In fact they grabbed it and said, "I need or I want that."
Dear People OBEY God and see the joy of God flood your heard.
I LOVE YOU. ABC Sumner, "Prepare to meet thy God" EACH of us must.

Give a "Ticket to Heaven" to every person.
A lady was gloriously saved just reading the tract and told me all about it.
Order online or call 1-877-872-2871 to order my tract "Your Ticket to Heaven." Ask for Sales and tell them Sumner Wemp sent you. They will bill you - I get no proceeds from the sale.
Mark 16:15. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."

Question of the Week: Is there intelligent life in outer space?

Answers Weekly | newsletter archives | contact us
April 24, 2010

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top leftIn this issue . . .

Q: Is there intelligent life in outer space?

A: A number of leading evolutionists, like the late Dr. Carl Sagan, have popularized the idea that there must be intelligent life in outer space. From an evolutionary perspective, it would make sense to suggest such a possibility. People who believe this possibility contend that, if life evolved on earth by natural processes, intelligent life must exist somewhere else in the far reaches of space, given the size of the universe and the millions of possible planets.
One can postulate endlessly about possibilities of intelligent life in outer space, but I believe a Christian worldview, built on the Bible, rejects such a possibility. Here is why.
During the six days of creation in Genesis 1, we learn that God created the earth first. On day four He made the sun and the moon for the earth, and then "He made the stars also" (Genesis 1:16).
From these passages of Scripture it would seem that the earth is very special—it is center stage. Everything else was made for purposes relating to the earth. For instance, the sun, moon, and stars were made "for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years" (Genesis 1:14).

Continue reading as Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, addresses the biblical and theological implications of extraterrestrial life.

Weekly Quick Answer

What should Christians think of Earth Day?
A lot of what is promoted on "Earth Day" (April 22) certainly sounds admirable—such as planting trees, reducing pollution, and conserving natural resources. But many Earth Day celebrations also have evolutionary foundations, and are a doorway to paganism and New Age mysticism.
Christians are to be good stewards in caring for the earth (Genesis 1:28), but we are not to worship it. Instead, we must use it for man's good—and to God's glory.
Want a more in-depth answer? Click here to read more.

News to Note Quick Look

Demotion over design?: For an employee of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Los Angeles, sharing his views on the origins issue in the workplace was allegedly grounds for a demotion. Read more.

Passerine problem-solvers: They're back in the news: crows, which sometimes seem to rival—or beat out—dolphins and chimps for the title of "man's closest intellectual rival." Read more.


Prayer Requests

View the current prayer requests to keep track of and pray for current ministry needs. Thank you!

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Friday, April 23, 2010


Feelings come and feelings go,
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God--
Naught else is worth believing.

Though all my heart should feel condemned
For want of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart
Whose Word cannot be broken.

I'll trust in God's unchanging Word
Till soul and body sever,
For, though all things shall pass away,

— Martin Luther

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Threescore Years and Ten

Days of Praise
Threescore Years and Ten
April 22, 2010
"The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." (Psalm 90:10)
When Moses wrote these words near the end of his life, he was 120 years old (Deuteronomy 34:7), but all the rest of the people of Israel (except Caleb and Joshua) who had been over 20 at the beginning of the 40-year wilderness wanderings, had died there (Numbers 14:28-34), and so there were no others over 60 years old.
In former days men had lived much longer. Adam died at 930 and Noah at 950, but then Shem only lived to 600, and Abraham died at 175 years of age. Thus, the normal life span by Moses' time was down to 70 or 80 years, and he prophesied that this would continue.
It is remarkable that, with all the increase in medical knowledge, this figure has stayed about the same, and there seems to be little the gerontologists can do to increase it.
Furthermore, the latter years are largely "labor and sorrow," just as God told Adam when his sin brought God's curse on the earth (Genesis 3:17-20). No matter how much we try to prolong our lives, we are "soon cut off."
But then, we "fly away"! The soul/spirit complex of the Christian believer, released from its weary body, flies away to be with the Lord. Those left behind may sorrow, but "to depart, and to be with Christ . . . is far better." The Christian may confidently say with Paul: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:23, 21). In the meantime, as our time grows shorter, it is more important than ever that we "walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time" (Colossians 4:5). "So teach us to number our days," prayed Moses (and so should we), "that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). HMM
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Institute for Creation Research | 1806 Royal Lane | Dallas | TX | 75229

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


MALACHI 2:1-10

Pastor Rick Jackson

“Wait Brother Rick, this is for the priests.” “That’s right- but who are the priests today?” “Baptists don’t have priests.” “Wrong. Baptist churches do not have priests, but one of the hallmarks, yea, one of the distinctive of Baptists is that they believe in the Bible doctrine of the priesthood of the believer.”

1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Revelation 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

I. THE WARNING [v. 1-3]

1. If You Don’t Listen [v. 1-2a]

2. If You Don’t Learn [v. 2b]

3. You Will Be Cursed [v. 2c-3]

II. THE WAY [v. 4-7]

1. A Holy Origination [v. 4-5]

2. A Holy Expression [v. 5-6]

3. A Holy Expectation [v. 7]


1. Far Reaching Corruption [v. 8]

2. Far reaching Consequences [v. 9]

3. Far Reaching Considerations [v. 10]

Clod or Clay?

Bill Rice Ranch - First Light Devotionals 

Isaiah 45:5 "I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:"
Can you think of a clod--a very bad person--in your life right now? The term "clod" may be foreign to you, but God often speaks of people in whom He is trying to work as "clay," so perhaps the term "clod" is appropriate! A clod is a lump of dirt or clay that is hardened and cannot be shaped.
In Isaiah 44:27-28, God speaks of a pagan king who was a clod. Cyrus was a pagan conqueror and a clod in every sense of the word. He was a terrible man. Everything Cyrus did for God's people he did as God's shepherd and for God's pleasure (verse 28). Amazingly, in Isaiah 45:1, Cyrus is called God's "anointed"! God says of Cyrus, "Whose right hand I have holden. . . ."
What does all this mean for you and me this morning? The bottom line is that God is in control. He is the shaper of events, of times, of seasons, and of men. In light of that, you can be clay or you can be a clod, but God will win.
When President Reagan was asked some years ago what his strategy was for the Cold War, he replied, "We win. They lose." That is simple enough! By comparison, God's strategy is identical--He will win. He can win with you or He can win without you. It matters to me that He wins with me, not without me; doesn't it matter to you? I don't want to be a clod-I want to be clay!

Remember today that the clods are not in control.It may seem like they are in control sometimes, but remember that God is in control and not the clods. Isaiah 45:5 declares, "I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:" God knew about Cyrus long before Cyrus was even born! Remember, the clods are not in control.
Secondly, remember that you don't have to be a clod!God will work with you or against you, but God will win. As a child of God, why in the name of common sense would you want to be in opposition to Him? God will still have His way, even if I am not receptive and perceptive to what He is doing. You will be a part of what is happening one way or the other!
Thirdly, remember to be clay. Clay is pliable and moldable. Verse 9 says, "Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! . . Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou?. . ." Remember to be clay. I may not always know what God is making, but God does know. There is a plan, a purpose, a design. God is looking for pliable people who He can use and mold for His purposes. The question then is simple: Are you a clod or clay?
Prayer Requests
1. Services tonight in LaSalle, ILCorinth, MS; and Williamsport, PA
2. West Branch Ladies on the Move Conference in Flagstaff, AZ this weekend
Missed a First Light?  Browse the archives here: firstlight-blog 
Bill Rice Ranch | 627 Bill Rice Ranch Road | Murfreesboro | TN | 37128

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pastors and Teachers

Days of Praise
Pastors and Teachers
April 20, 2010
"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers." (Ephesians 4:11)
The four or five specific spiritual gifts mentioned by Paul in this passage are said to have been given "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:12). And all of this is for the ultimate goal that "we . . . speaking the truth in love, may grow up into |Christ| in all things" (Ephesians 4:14-15).
The teaching gift is of particular importance in attaining this goal. The gift of serving as an apostle was given only to the twelve plus a few others (e.g., Paul) who had actually seen the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:21-22; 1 Corinthians 9:1); the last of these was John. The gift of real prophets who could convey God's revelations to men was necessary in that first century before the New Testament was written, but that also has apparently ceased (1 Corinthians 13:8), though there are still many false prophets (Matthew 24:11).
The gifts of evangelists and pastors will continue as long as there continue to be lost people who need to be won and new believers who need to be led (the word "pastor" actually means "shepherd" and is so translated in all its other occurrences). The other two lists of spiritual gifts do not mention either evangelists or pastors, but all three do mention teachers (Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28). Many pastors also have the gift of teaching, but the other two lists indicate that teaching is a gift for many others as well.
In fact, Christ's great commission included teaching people "to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20). And since He in the beginning had created "all things" and is now "upholding all things" (Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:3), this teaching could well include all true education, in every subject. HMM
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Who Are You Serving?

Bill Rice Ranch - First Light Devotionals 

Isaiah 44:18 "They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand."
I know when it is flu season because I get all sorts of information about a flu shot. I recently received a card in the mail that could get me a discount on my flu shot. How miserable! I don't like to spend money on the flu! The flu is bad, getting a shot is bad; and if I had my way, I wouldn't touch either! No matter what you think about the flu shot, it is an inoculation against a coming menace. That is what Isaiah 44 is: an inoculation-a warning-from Almighty God against the wickedness of idolatry.
God ridicules the prospect of worshipping an idol. How ridiculous, He says, for a man to chop down a tree, use half to build a fire to cook his supper and use the other half to build a god (verses 15-17). But the verse that caught my attention was verse 18: "They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand." The person who depends on a man-made god that cannot see or hear is just as blind and without knowledge as his god!
This passage in Isaiah immediately reminded me of Psalm 115 and Psalm 135 in which idols had mouths, eyes, ears, noses, and feet but could not speak, see, hear, smell, or walk. Psalm 115:8 condemns the one who puts his dependence in them by saying, "They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them." A person who puts his dependence in such a god will go through life the same way: without perception, without knowledge, and without sight. In contrast, God Almighty is everything you need for nourishment and knowledge. Taking your hope from God and placing it in an idol is transparently shallow. What a shallow substitute for the real thing!
The point this morning is this: You are only as good as the God (or god) you serve. Is that good news or bad news? Well, that depends on the God (or god) you are serving! If my hope for the future is in some retirement fund or bank account (neither of which is wrong itself), my life is only as good as the market. And how good is that right now? Living that way and trusting in what I know will only take me so far.
Maybe you are not trusting in some market account, but there is still a temptation to trust in some "god" that cannot provide. For instance, placing all my hope in my own savvy or my own abilities is a pretty shallow existence. I am only as good as the God (or god) I serve. If I serve a god that cannot hear, see, know, or perceive, then that is exactly the life I will have!
On the other hand, I honestly do want to know, see, and perceive what God wants me to know, see, and perceive. And the truth is, I can! I can if I am serving the right God. So whom are you serving this morning? To what (or whom) are you looking? Truly, you are only as able as the God (or god) you serve. Is that good news or bad news for you?

Prayer Requests
1. Services tonight in LaSalle, ILCorinth, MS; and Williamsport, PA
2. West Branch Ladies on the Move Conference in Flagstaff, AZ this weekend
Missed a First Light?  Browse the archives here: firstlight-blog 
Bill Rice Ranch | 627 Bill Rice Ranch Road | Murfreesboro | TN | 37128