All of these devotionals are the result of my own personal reflection on God's word. If you find these devotionals helpful, please subscribe and share them! Thank you for reading!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Matthew 7:12

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."

This message has been ingrained in us since we were in kindergarten.  "Keep your hands to yourself." and "Treat others the way you would want to be treated".  It's the simplest of rules, but it never ceases to amaze me how bad we are at it.

One thing though, is that we often treat others how we would want to be treated as we are now.  It is a completely flawed idea to think that what I want is completely what someone else would want to.  You wouldn't buy your wife an Xbox if she hates video games but you happen to enjoy them.  We, at any given moment, are entirely different people with different sets of needs.  You cannot love someone the way you want  to love them, but only the way they want to be loved.

What good news can you bring to a child whose dad is in jail and whose mother is feeding an addiction through prostitution?  "You are a sinner and Jesus Christ died for you" is of little to no comfort.  Be mindful of other people and you will communicate the gospel, whether by word or by deed. Jesus is a great communicator because he knows each of us intimately.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you if you were in their shoes.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Isaiah 48:10-11

"See , I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.  For my own sake, for my own sake I do this.  How can I let myself be defamed?  I will not yield my glory to another."

It is the popular thing to do in the Christian life to blame it all of Satan when troubles come.  This is an egregious mistake.  Though Satan seeks to devour us, not all affliction comes from him.  Satan's only aim is to watch us suffer.  He delights in our pains, however those who are strong in the Lord are already victorious.

However, is it beyond God to punish us, that we might repent?  To afflict us, that we may seek him more?  It is a dangerous delusion to pretend God is only "love" as we define how we are to be loved.  God will NOT be boxed by our conceptions of Him.  As a parent will discipline their child, how much more will the Lord discipline us?  How much more will we be afflicted if we stray?

God's love is wild and unpredictable.  If we continue to ignore affliction from God and blame it all on Satan, we will fail to repent.  Naturally, Satan is more than happy to take all the blame if it means God cannot discipline you.  God will not share his glory with another.  Satan has no power in your life, so do not underestimate God. Do not make a personal God.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Joshua 13:33

"But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the LORD, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as he promised them."

Sometimes it seems that everyone else always has it so much better than you.  The entire world is getting their share and you're left holding the door for them.

Ironically, Moses was from the tribe of Levi, so you'd expect the Levites to get the choicest piece of land, however Moses allots them no land at all.  Nevertheless, they get something far greater than land: in exchange for their service in the temple as mediators of the covenant of God, the LORD himself becomes their inheritance.

Such is the life of anyone called by God and ordained by him to serve in any capacity (i.e. any and everyone who chooses to bear the name of Christ).  We may not get land, or wealth, or much of any worldly possessions, but our sacrifice garners us so much more than we could ever earn in a lifetime.

Don't underestimate what it means to be called by God.  It means that you lay down your life and your will in favor of the Father's will.  It means to bear your cross, to lay down your life for the world who may not even like you.  It means to be like Christ in word and deed. It means you give up control in holy submission to God, but in exchange through your obedience, God becomes your inheritance as He promised.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ezekiel 37:13

"Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open up your graves and bring you up from them."

Day in and day out, we put our bodies to work.  We demand so much from them that sometimes we work ourselves to the point of exhaustion.  Our dry bones cry out for rest, but can find no relief. And for what?  A pat on the back?  A paycheck? Life at times can seem like a cruel joke, trapped within this grave of a body with no way out.  Truly if there was no way into God, there would be no sense in keeping up this charade.

I may sound grim, but we are dead until we can find relief, until we can find someone to release us from our graves, from our burdens.  Fortunately, it is Christ who says "Come to me all you who are weary and overburdened and I will give you rest."  It is he who exchanges burdens with us, so that the death he died on the cross he died for all.  As Paul says, through Christ's death all have died, but in his resurrection we are remade, reborn, recreated anew.

We are no longer graves, but temples of the Holy God who sets his spirit to rest upon us, who nourishes us from the inside out, and who gives life to these dry and thirsty bones.

If you have a few more minutes to spare, this song is worth checking out:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Deuteronomy 4:29

"But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul."

To seek the Lord is to obey his commandments.  The Bible is clear on this.  Almost everywhere when seeking God is mentioned, you will find a mention of or command toward obedience nearby.  Deuteronomy 4:29 is no exception.

When we seek God, we are not seeking to please him (what could God possibly gain from us?)  Instead, we only seek to be with him, to seek his presence through our obedience which is our connection to the true vine.  When we are in line with Christ, we are in Christ as Christ is in the Father.  If you seek him, you will find him for he will be in you.

When we obey, we simply follow the path God has already laid out for a healthy and functional body. If the heart decides to act out on it's own, we call it arrhythmia, or in baser language, a serious problem and threat to the overall wellbeing of the body.  We never act on our own, but always our smallest actions have large impacts on everyone around us.

So one act of love can completely change someone's life and the life of everyone around them, but so can an act of hatred.  Be mindful of your actions and be careful what you multiply.  You will reap what you sow.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Isaiah 55:2

"Why spend money on what is not bread.
and your labor on what does not satisfy?"

How do you use your resources?  Why do you work day in and day out?  What makes you get up on Monday mornings? Just to make money?  What do you need money for?

If you are like most people, you hate your job and also if you are like most people, you are totally fine with it.  You work to store up for yourself some sense of security, but you dream of doing something else that you love for a living.  So why don't you?

Simply enough, you're afraid.  You are afraid of what might happen to your standard of living, to your family, to change, to stepping out of the boat into the unknown.  Fear is that one thing which can steal your freedom.  It is fear which inhibits us and fear which defeats us.  While we live under fear, we cannot live life to the fullest.

But thankfully, faith is the opposite of fear.  It is knowing that which is unknowable, it is trusting in that which is invisible.  So why labor for that which is not satisfying?  You have only one life to live on Earth, so do not live it in regret.  Do not rely on your money to save you as many people are finding out in this economy, it can vanish in an instant.  But perhaps losing your job will be the best thing that's ever happened to you?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Romans 8:35;37

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."

Are you ready for the trial of your life?  You will face many hardships in this life and surmount so many obstacles, endure many sufferings and go through much pain.  That is the nature of this life we live.  When we become followers of Christ, we face even greater obstacles and pain that we would never have thought possible to overcome, however the good news is this:  we have the strongest and most powerful ally to face them with.

There is nothing in this world, no chasm too deep nor problem so great that God's love cannot overcome.  We become more than conquerors with Christ; we become healed.  Finally we can enjoy life as it was made to be, a gift of love from our Creator.  After all, it's hard to fully enjoy the park with a broken leg and a bleeding wound.  Therefore turn and be healed, your days of running are over.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose... If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:28;31

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mark 1:22-23

"The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority... Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are-- the Holy One of God!"

Who has authority over your life?  A great way to find out is to simply think about your reactions around certain people.  The evil spirit, upon recognizing Jesus, cried out.  Whether it was out of fear of anger of panic the text does not say, but the demon's entire countenance was changed upon encountering Jesus.

A man drunk man when caught doing what he isn't supposed to do will never have sobered up more quickly when faced with a police officer.  That police officer has power of that mans life.  He has authority.  Who has power over you?  If there is anyone who can simply walk into a room and change your entire mood for better or worse, that person has power over you.  And the truth is, you let them have that power.

You choose who (or what) has power and influence over your life.  There are some who give that power to their spouses, some to their exes, some to family, and some to friends.  Therefore be careful who you let have authority in your life because inevitably you will become just like them.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

John 15:4

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."

Nothing good can come out of ministry if it doesn't come from Jesus.  By corollary, everything that comes to pass in ministry is the direct result of a relationship with Christ.  It is from the vine that the nutrients flow into the branches, causing us to bear fruits of all kinds.  The Father is the gardener and Jesus is the vine, we are merely the branch that holds the fruit of the Spirit.

Remember that it is through first seeking the vine that the fruits come, not the other way around.  Do not pray for what God will already provide for you, pray instead to be in close relationship with Christ. To grow deeper in faith and love and kindness such that you will be pruned in order that more and more fruit will be brought forth, fruit to be shared with the starving world.  Therefore seek God's face and his hand will follow.  Remember that without God's guidance, your ministry, no matter how brilliant or successful you are, will fail.  Do these things and your life will not be easy, but it will be overflowing with blessings for you and those around you.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Psalms 68:6

"God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land."

What do you think of when you think of your family?  Do happy memories come to mind, or perhaps only darker ones.  No one chooses the family they are born into, but like them or leave them you only get one, or so we're told.

Sure we all come from one kind of family or another, but there exists a second greater family that surpasses the first:  your spiritual family.  Jesus says, "Who are my mother and my brothers?  Those who do the will of my father in heaven are my mother and sister and brother."

The rebellious live lives of isolation and desolation.  They lack intimacy and true relationship. They suffer when they have no need to and oftentimes they do not realize how much they hurt.  But as it takes people to make you sick, it takes some people to make you well again.

So maybe you don't have a great family life.  Maybe your Christmas mornings are preferably spent alone or your thanksgivings are completely awkward.  The good news of the Gospel here is this: "You don't have to be alone anymore".

And what beautiful news it is.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hosea 2:16

"In that day," declares the Lord, "you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master.'..."

I've never had a husband before, but I suppose it would be wonderful to be married to God.  Imagine that:  The day that God and us become equals through marriage.  Imagine knowing God so intimately.  Social beings that we are, not a single one of us desires to be alone nor is it God's will that we are alone.  God created Eve and gave her to Adam in marriage for this reason, but imagine if you could just be married to God.  What would it be like waking up and he's always there right with you through thick and thin, always whispering I love you, always telling you how beautiful you truly are? No doubt it would be heaven on earth.

From Hosea 2:14 onward, God talks about romancing us, about pursuing us like a young boy lost in love.  How will you respond?  Will you play hard to get?  Will you lead Him on?  Would you scorn his childishness or would you see someone on the side?   Or perhaps one day you fall madly deeply in love with Him and you realize the only thing you ever really wanted was to love and be loved so fully and so perfectly for who you are.

My friends, that day has come.  The bridegroom is here; just walk down the aisle to meet him.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Isaiah 46:4

"Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am He, I am He who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you;  I will sustain you and I will rescue you."

The gods that we seek to create, gods of gold and of stone, gods of video games and of pornography, none of them can deliver us from times of trouble.  None of these things are comforting when a loved one lays dying or when natural disaster ravages your home.  A friend who is only with you during the good times is no friend at all.

These are the words to a perverse generation. Forever do we seek after what is only temporary because we are short sighted.  But there exists eternity.  There exists a God not created but Creator.  We do not sustain it, but He sustains us.  That is his promise, but if we continually seek not to have a relationship with Him how is it that we can live?

Surely we can live for a time, but death awaits all of us.  But did you know death no longer has any hold on us?  Did you know that death is no longer sovereign over us?  Did you know there is one who has defeated death?  When we die, we in fact live if we are being carried by He who created us.  Truly man does not live on bread alone.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2 Corinthians 5:5-6

"Now it is God who has made us for [eternal life] and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.  Therefore we are always confident and know as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord."

Am I "saved"?  That is the burning question I've asked myself for a long time. I had no clue how you could ever have any assurance of such a thing.  You can't earn grace so thusly I cannot at any given time control how much of it I have.  I cannot simply refill on grace if I need some extra (and I do).  It is not a commodity to be traded through indulgences.  If salvation was a process and grace a gift, then one could never know if they've received it until they stood before the King.

Or so I thought.

It is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which is the guarantee of salvation.  It is God's presence with us now that is his promise of eternal life, as it was in Exodus, as it was at Bethlehem, and as it is within our bodies.  We may sin and we may even turn our back on God, but the true mark of salvation is that God will always pull us back to Him no matter how far we go.  Salvation is a flawless path because it's God himself who does it.  So does the Spirit reside within you? Are you "saved"?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

John 6:68

"Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life."

These are the words engraved on a plaque in my father's room.  Oftentimes, they are the only thing that stands between me and complete dismissal of faith as psychological phenomenon. Perhaps Freud was right, and all this is just wishful thinking, but what else do I have?  Where else do I have to turn to?  Perhaps you feel the same way.

Now this may seem that I am trapped by my faith, that even if I wanted to leave, I couldn't.  The fact of the matter is, if Jesus Christ truly is the Holy One of God, there is no reason to ever want to leave.  If there is even a remote chance that this is true, then it would be worth dying for.  I know better than to get rid of the one thing that keeps me alive.  Just as there is no reason to ever put a brick in a washing machine, there is no reason to turn from God.  When times get tough, why abandon God? Isn't He the only one who is able to help you?

Perhaps Jesus isn't all you thought him to be.  Perhaps he doesn't live up to your expectations like the disciples who deserted him.  However, if you let go of all your expectations you will never be disappointed again.  Jesus is as unpredictable as he is unchanging. Persevere until the end and you may just be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Isaiah 33:2;6

"O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you.  Be our strength every morning, our salvation in times of distress... He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure."

How deeply do you long for God?  Can you feel it in your gut?  Does it make you physically uncomfortable at times?  Does everything within you yearn for intimacy with the one true creator?  Isaiah's sentiment is clear:  We are desperate for the Lord.

But more than that we are in desperate need of the Lord; to be our strength every morning and our salvation when trouble comes (when, not if).  Think about your life for a second.  Do you embrace each new day or dread the thought of waking up?  Do you live life fully or just struggle to get by?  I will tell you the truth:  Life was not meant as something to just make it through one more day.  You were made to enjoy life and enjoy it to the fullest, but you weren't made to enjoy it alone.

It is this Branch of Jesse (Isaiah 11:2) that becomes our foundation.  When we fall (when, not if), we do not fall back into the abyss.  We return right to our foundation so we are able to stand again.  So fear God and you will never have need of fear again.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Psalms 95:7-8

"Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts..."

It is a rarity among us to hear God's voice directly, so you would think that after hearing from God himself so directly no one would be able to deny or disobey him.  Quite the opposite, I'm afraid.

Doubt affects the lives of even the "best" Christians (there is no such thing).  Despite every miracle sign and wonder you can witness, it would not be enough to prove so concretely that God is who He says He is.  Doubt is inescapable, but the good news is that it is necessary.

You cannot have great faith without great doubt.  If you could be so sure than you are either too gullible or your God is too small.  Doubt exists to protect us from falling into the snare of lies so readily.  To be able to discern truth is a gift from God himself and it is our duty to use this gift wisely.  We are creatures of doubt, but God is of faithfulness.

So then do not believe solely on the testimony of another, but taste and see for yourself what is real.  Be careful not let your doubts lead you astray, but remember what God has done and can do.  Those who believed but turn away are worse off than they started. They fascinate me for their existence has a great implication.  Can one lose their salvation, or is it that they never really had it at all?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Isaiah 45:10

"Woe to him who says to his father, 'What have you begotten?' or to his mother, 'What have you brought to birth?'"

Ask yourself if you are truly happy with who you are.  Are you?  If you are discontent, then what is it that you need? New job?  New body?  New spouse?  Any spouse?  We all have things we desire, but the truth is you already have everything you need to be happy.  So why aren't you?

The one who asks "Why am I the way I am?" is already in a dire situation.  He is already in the throes of woe who questions his own being, who divorces from himself that which he is from that which he wants to be. And this is what God says, "Do you doubt who I made you to be?  Do you reject being that which I brought you forth to be?"  Such a person will never be happy who cannot accept himself the way God accepts him.

Truly we cannot be anything other than what we were made to be.  Can a chair decide to be a table or a spoon a fork?  A hand is not greater than a foot, but the Head (Christ) is above them all.  Do not wish to be anything more than what your are when what you are is the perfect child of God lest you doubt that God is good and faithful to you.