Author Archives: edsorrell

About edsorrell

Happily married with three beautiful daughters.

Nehemiah 1,2,3; Revelation 16

Nehemiah 1

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said:“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king.

Nehemiah 2

The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”

Nehemiah 3

3Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set its doors in place, building as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and as far as the Tower of Hananel.

Revelation 16

The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: “You are just in these judgments, O Holy One, you who are and who were;for they have shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.”

Merry Christmas everyone!  Today’s reading is not exactly good Christmas reading, at least on the surface.  You won’t find any mention of gift giving, the birth of Christ, Santa Claus, or required church attendance.   You will find reference to other things that might be good to remember during this holiday season, so I will do my best to summarize the concepts here.

Nehemiah was a praying man.  His prayer wasn’t for himself.  He prayed for his brothers and countrymen who were  servants of God.  He prayed for success in doing God’s work.  Nehemiah was focused on God’s purpose not his own comfort.  He was the King’s cup bearer.  I’m sure this was a prestigious position and had quite a bit of job security associated with it.  Yet, he chooses to give it up, to go and do God’s work of repairing the wall.  Nehemiah was able to overcome those who mocked him and ridiculed him.  He knew exactly what his purpose was and was one hundred percent committed to getting it done.  We see his success in chapter 3 as the wall is repaired.  The story of Nehemiah supports the big three concepts found through out scripture; Love God, Love your Neighbor, Die to Self.  Most of us will spend more time focused on these three at this time of year than we do with the other eleven months combined.  That is the power of the Christmas season!

Our reading in Revelation shows us the justness of God’s judgement on mankind.  Regardless of what the actual meaning of the seven bowls of God’s wrath is, we know that God is just in his judgements.  Even though the description of these judgements sound horrible I find relief in knowing that as a believer in Christ I am saved from these horrible judgements.  I find peace in knowing that God will always be just in his judgements, that Christ has given me freedom from God’s wrath.  God I thank You for the wonderful gift of Your Son.

Father God, my prayer this holiday season is that You grant Your servants success in spreading the Gospel to all who are in need of being saved from Your judgement.  Help us go forth this season and share the peace of Christ with all who are missing the truth of redemption.  Holy is Your Name!

Ed Sorrell

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Zechariah 11,12; Revelation 2

Revelation 2

7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

11He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.

17He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.  I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

29He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

I am continually fascinated, awed and most definitely fearful of Revelation.  I find that when I’m among a group of believers, all anyone needs to do is mention Revelation and there is a collective intake of breath. . .a gnashing of teeth even sometimes?  The atmosphere in the room changes. . .ahhh, we all seem to say, the GREAT book of the Bible. . .the one that no matter what we do or how much we attempt to interpret it, we remain confounded.  Yes, even more so than some of the ever so strange happenings of the Old Testament.

And yet, we all want to know what Revelation MEANS, don’t we?  If you subscribe to any belief in the Mayan calendar (and you shouldn’t if you are reading this blog and using it as a learning tool in your life! :-)), it would seem that the end of times is more than quite near.  Are you prepared?  I know I feel some days like I’m not and others as though I completely am.  I mean, what does it take to be ready?  As a believer, one who professes that through faith I am Christ’s and He is my Savior and the only way to God, I should be ready just by that fact, no matter what time or day it is.  However when I read the above verses, what jumps out at me is “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  It is repeated 4 times in Revelation 2.  Do you have an ear?  Do you hear what the Spirit has said?

My experience is that so many of us as individuals as well as church organizations (and by this I mean the building organization, not the body of believers) focus quite a bit on saying that we “get it.”  We profess to have faith.  And yet we don’t live it.  We don’t live it as individuals, as communities of faith walkers, or as church organizations.  For if we do have faith, we fully recognize that we can do NOTHING without God.  It is only through Him that our daily tasks should be carried out, our decisions made, our relationships developed, our words communicated.

When you talk to your boss, do you ask God to give you words?  As a pastor, when you deliver a sermon, talk to a parishioner, act as a “regular Joe” outside of your job, do you actively seek God’s direction in your words, deeds and actions?  Do you do it as a parent interacting with your children?  Or do we, more often than not, carry ourselves through our days without first seeking Him in all things at all times?

If you are like me, you find it hard to do that.  How different my day would look if I spent more time seeking Him in everything I did!  We are not accustomed to that.  We spend so much time being taught how not to do that, especially in our culture.  We are taught to be independent. . .a do-it-yourselfer. . .”pick yourself up by your bootstraps.”  And if we don’t, we are seen as failures.  But the Spirit tells us to seek God first in everything, at all times, in all places.  Because we can do nothing, we are nothing IN Him WITHOUT Him.  He is the only One who can make us perfect – in His time, place and under His ordainment.  Do you have an ear?

Dear Lord, I have an ear. . .I profess that it is only through You that I can hear and see, Lord, and it is only through You that I want to see and hear.  Lift me up Lord as one of Your chosen.  May my faith grow stronger each and every day; may I never let it waiver.  And Lord, please allow me to deliver glory to you however You choose.  Lord, on that day when your Revelation if fulfilled, I look forward to tasting the tree of life, receiving Your hidden manna and seeing my new name revealed on your selected white stone.

Ed Sorrell

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Ezekiel 30,31,32; 1 Peter 4

Ezekiel 30

Cush and Libya, Lydia and all Arabia, Kub and the people of the covenant land will fall by the sword along with Egypt.

Ezekiel 31

11 I gave it into the hands of the ruler of the nations, for him to deal with according to its wickedness. I cast it aside,

Ezekiel 32

All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you; I will bring darkness over your land, declares the Sovereign Lord.  I will trouble the hearts of many peoples when I bring about your destruction among the nations, among lands you have not known.

1 Peter 4

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Today’s New Testament reading is subtitled  “Living For God” in my NIV bible.  It seems ironic that it is paired with three chapters of Ezekiel with subtitles like “A Lament Over Egypt,” “Pharaoh’s Arms Are Broken,” “Pharaoh as a Felled Cedar of Lebanon,” “A Lament Over Pharaoh,” and “Egypt’s Descent Into the Realm of the Dead.” It is clear that God has lost all patience with Pharaoh and the People of Egypt.  He is describing some pretty drastic corrections to a nation that has definitely not been “Living for God.”

The real question for me is “how do I live for God?”  Peter says that I must live in a way that encourages prayer.  He also says I must love my neighbors, watch what I say and how I say it, and put other people’s needs above my own.  It seems like every lesson on living for God comes down to the same three things.  Love God, love your neighbor, and die to self.  It seems like I’ve heard those words before.  Jesus taught the same thing when asked what the greatest commandment was.  It must be important!  I guess I will keep working on this.  I don’t want to be found wanting as the Egyptians were in these chapters of Ezekiel.

Father God, help me to die to myself and surrender all to You.  Help me to love my neighbor and to seek You with all my heart.  I want desperately to live my life for You.  Open my eyes so that I may see Your truth.  Guide my steps so that I won’t be found wanting on the great day of judgment.  Grant me strength so that I may stand strong in my faith when failure looms before me.

Ed Sorrell

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Daniel 8,9,10; Philemon

Daniel 8

8 In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision,….

17 As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. “Son of man,”he said to me, “understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.”

Daniel 9

in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with Him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

23 As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision:

Daniel 10

At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.

Philemon

15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.

Daniel is praised by Gabriel as being highly esteemed before God.  He prays for God’s people and is sent an answer, in the form of Gabriel, while he is still in prayer.   Daniel is definitely someone I want in my prayer circle.  I have pondered many times why some people seem to have a better connection to God.  They seem to get what they ask for a short while after asking God.  They never seem to get held up in wondering if they should be asking or if they deserve what they are asking for.  They just talk to God and He gives them an answer.  I think the reason might be found in these three chapters of Daniel.  He tells how he understood scripture, how he believed what the prophets had said, and how he had faith that God could control the events and change the way things were playing out.  Daniel prays, he fasts and mourns, and he prays some more.  Daniel is rewarded  with visions.  Not just visions, he also gets visits from angels and interpretations of his visions.

Having an active prayer life, for things that are outside of us, for things that are dear to God’s heart, for things that grow His kingdom, is critical for establishing true relationship with the God of the universe.  I get so focused on me that most of my prayer time is spent on me and mine.  I must confess that most of these prayers end without visions from God.   God has yet to send Gabriel to me to explain His plans for the future so that I might have increased understanding.  I often am tempted to blame God for this lower level of interaction, but compared to Daniel, I have to admit that the failure is mine.  I think that the scriptures are full of references where God tells us that He longs for us to have these interactions with Him.  All I need is to believe God’s Word and act in accordance with that Word.

Father, help me to overcome my selfish ways.  Help me to align myself with your ways.  Show me how to have active dialog with you.  Show me how to pray effective prayers so that I can perform the work that you would have me do.  Thank You for Your Word.  May Your Kingdom come quickly, Amen!

Ed Sorrell

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Jeremiah 27,28,29; Hebrews 5

Jeremiah 27

Give them a message for their masters and say, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Tell this to your masters: With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. Now I will give all your countries into the hands of my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him.

Jeremiah 28

From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague against many countries and great kingdoms. But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true.”

Jeremiah 29

10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Hebrews 5

He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.

Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

God was adamant that his people were going into exile under the Babylonians.  It was to be an exile for a fixed time, 70 years, and God made a promise that he would bring them back.  He also planned to prosper them during the exile.  Right away people started looking for prophets that would tell them good news instead of bad.  It was easy to find people who would proclaim the good news that the people wanted to hear.  God was not happy with these false prophets or the people who listened to them. The people who listened to God prospered, those who didn’t suffered the consequences.

I have come to realize that that true suffering comes from not following the will of God.  Actual life events, whether it is winning the lottery or going into exile do not make me happy or depressed.  Failing to recognize and listen to God has left me in some very uncomfortable situations in my life.  I’ve also experienced God during some trying times of my life that enabled me to feel content and know peace while circumstances would have dictated panic and unrest.

Jesus was made to experience suffering also.  Hebrews tells us that Jesus learned obedience from what he suffered.  The fire of suffering and exile can and does bring us closer to God.   Fortunately we have Jesus to act as high priest for us. He is able to intervene for me when I am ignorant and headed astray.  Praise God for his wonderful plan that leads me to salvation.

Ed Sorrell

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Zephaniah 1,2,3; Acts 24

Zephaniah 1

“I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all who live in Jerusalem. I will destroy every remnant of Baal worship in this place, the very names of the idolatrous priests—those who bow down on the roofs to worship the starry host, those who bow down and swear by the Lord and who also swear by Molek,those who turn back from following the Lord and neither seek the Lord nor inquire of him.”

12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, ‘The Lord will do nothing, either good or bad.’

18 Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath.”In the fire of his jealousy the whole earth will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live on the earth.

Zephaniah 2

Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.

Zephaniah 3

15 The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.

Acts 24

15 and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

Our God is a jealous God!  We see it everywhere in scripture.  Nothing stirs God’s anger like His people worshiping other gods.  He is very clear on this matter.  His Word records example after example of people who violated this commandment.  Worshiping of “no god” is not a safe alternative either.  Zephaniah shows us that God doesn’t think very highly of those who “don’t think of God at all”.    How about wealth?  Wealth won’t protect you from God’s wrath either.  It is clear that God intends for us to seek him.  We are commanded to humble ourselves, seek righteousness, and do all that He commands.

Zephaniah points us to what we know: the King of Israel is the answer to our salvation.  With Jesus on our side we have no need to fear any harm.  He has taken our punishment.  He has defeated our enemy; we have reason to rejoice and sing praise.   It is for this reason that Paul could boldly stand trial before Felix in Caesarea.  Paul was no longer afraid; he was able to boldly preach the Gospel to all who gathered at the court.  No other god can save us.  Only the one true God has the ability to save us from the wrath of the one true God!  Praise God that He has provided us a way to avoid His wrath.

Heavenly Father,  I thank You for Your Son Jesus.  I thank You that You have provided a way for my salvation.  I thank You for allowing me to worship You as the One True God!

Ed Sorrell

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Isaiah 53,54,55; Romans 10

Isaiah 53

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God,stricken by him, and afflicted.

Isaiah 55

Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Romans 10

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!

I love reading these chapters in Isaiah.  Isaiah lived approximately 700 years before the birth of Jesus and yet clearly describes the method and means of his death in chapter 53.  It amazes me how anyone can read these verses in Isaiah and not be brought to their knees, while comparing these statements to the accounts of Jesus’ death recorded in the gospels.  Issiah’s account impresses on me the Sovereignty of God.  God has a plan, He knows exactly what He is doing, and He is doing it.  Our ways are not His ways, Isaiah wrote.  We won’t always understand God’s plan, but it is very important to understand that He has a definite purpose and His plan will come to fruition.

Jesus claimed that His purpose was to do the work of the one who sent Him.  He also gave us the task of going out and making disciples of all of the nations.  Paul reminds us of this again in his witty statements found in verses 14 and 15 of Romans.  No one can be saved unless someone shares with them the message of Jesus and the salvation found in His death and resurrection.  This message of death and resurrection resulting in salvation for all people, recorded by Isaiah some 700 years before Jesus was even born!    We serve a mighty God!

Father God, I love to see Your power displayed for Your glory.  I thank You for Your written word and its power to show us the many aspects of You.  I thank You for showing me that You have a plan and that I have an important role to play in bringing that plan to completion.  Help me have “beautiful feet” by empowering me to bring good news to the people who are waiting to hear it.  May Your Kingdom come quickly!

Ed Sorrell

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