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!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Proverbs 27:17

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

Men are sharpened for battle.  Just as a dull sword is useless in combat, so is a dull man.  And we know that our war is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph 6:12)  Men, we were not made to wage war against each other.  We are not each other's enemies but it is Satan himself who sows confusion among our ranks so that brother fights brother to tear each other down.  Brothers, this should not be!

We were made to sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron.  We were made to grow stronger together.  And now, it is Christ, the man of men, the king of kings, and the lord of lords, who has bound himself to us eternally by faith.  And when we are bound to him and bound to each other we will not fall but we will prevail against the enemy.  Your brother is not your enemy even though he may attack you.  Realize he needs the truth of Jesus Christ to set him free (John 8:32)  from the true enemy's grasp so that he may join you in the fight.

Do not hate your brother and tear him down, but build him up as a fellow soldier in Christ.  Offer him the Truth and set him free.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

John 6:37

 "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me."

Disclaimer:  I will be gone this weekend for a Men's retreat, so in my stead I leave you with some devotionals by Charles Spurgeon (from his "Morning and Evening").  Again, these are not my reflections and I take no credit for them!

This declaration involves the doctrine of election: there are some whom the Father gave to Christ. It involves the doctrine of effectual calling: these who are given must and shall come; however stoutly they may set themselves against it, yet they shall be brought out of darkness into God's marvellous light. It teaches us the indispensable necessity of faith; for even those who are given to Christ are not saved except they come to Jesus. Even they must come, for there is no other way to heaven but by the door, Christ Jesus. All that the Father gives to our Redeemer must come to him, therefore none can come to heaven except they come to Christ.
Oh! the power and majesty which rest in the words "shall come." He does not say they have power to come, nor they may come if they will, but they "shall come." The Lord Jesus doth by his messengers, his word, and his Spirit, sweetly and graciously compel men to come in that they may eat of his marriage supper; and this he does, not by any violation of the free agency of man, but by the power of his grace. I may exercise power over another man's will, and yet that other man's will may be perfectly free, because the constraint is exercised in a manner accordant with the laws of the human mind. Jehovah Jesus knows how, by irresistible arguments addressed to the understanding, by mighty reasons appealing to the affections, and by the mysterious influence of his Holy Spirit operating upon all the powers and passions of the soul, so to subdue the whole man, that whereas he was once rebellious, he yields cheerfully to his government, subdued by sovereign love. But how shall those be known whom God hath chosen? By this result: that they do willingly and joyfully accept Christ, and come to him with simple and unfeigned faith, resting upon him as all their salvation and all their desire. Reader, have you thus come to Jesus?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Psalm 73:23

Nevertheless I am continually with thee.

Disclaimer:  I will be gone this weekend for a Men's retreat, so in my stead I leave you with some devotionals by Charles Spurgeon (from his "Morning and Evening").  Again, these are not my reflections and I take no credit for them!

"Nevertheless,"--As if, notwithstanding all the foolishness and ignorance which David had just been confessing to God, not one atom the less was it true and certain that David was saved and accepted, and that the blessing of being constantly in God's presence was undoubtedly his. Fully conscious of his own lost estate, and of the deceitfulness and vileness of his nature, yet, by a glorious outburst of faith, he sings "nevertheless I am continually with thee." Believer, you are forced to enter into Asaph's confession and acknowledgment, endeavour in like spirit to say "nevertheless, since I belong to Christ I am continually with God!" By this is meant continually upon his mind, he is always thinking of me for my good. Continually before his eye;--the eye of the Lord never sleepeth, but is perpetually watching over my welfare. Continually in his hand, so that none shall be able to pluck me thence. Continually on his heart, worn there as a memorial, even as the high priest bore the names of the twelve tribes upon his heart forever. Thou always thinkest of me, O God. The bowels of thy love continually yearn towards me. Thou art always making providence work for my good. Thou hast set me as a signet upon thine arm; thy love is strong as death, many waters cannot quench it; neither can the floods drown it. Surprising grace! Thou seest me in Christ, and though in myself abhorred, thou beholdest me as wearing Christ's garments, and washed in his blood, and thus I stand accepted in thy presence. I am thus continually in thy favor--"continually with thee." Here is comfort for the tried and afflicted soul; vexed with the tempest within--look at the calm without. "Nevertheless"--O say it in thy heart, and take the peace it gives. "Nevertheless I am continually with thee."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Acts 10:38

Disclaimer:  I will be gone this weekend for a Men's retreat, so in my stead I leave you with some devotionals by Charles Spurgeon (from his "Morning and Evening").  Again, these are not my reflections and I take no credit for them!

"Who went about doing good."

Few words, but yet an exquisite miniature of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are not many touches, but they are the strokes of a master's pencil. Of the Saviour and only of the Saviour is it true in the fullest, broadest, and most unqualified sense. "He went about doing good." From this description it is evident that he did good personally. The evangelists constantly tell us that he touched the leper with his own finger, that he anointed the eyes of the blind, and that in cases where he was asked to speak the word only at a distance, he did not usually comply, but went himself to the sick bed, and there personally wrought the cure. A lesson to us, if we would do good, to do it ourselves. Give alms with your own hand; a kind look, or word, will enhance the value of the gift. Speak to a friend about his soul; your loving appeal will have more influence than a whole library of tracts. Our Lord's mode of doing good sets forth his incessant activity! He did not only the good which came close to hand, but he "went about" on his errands of mercy. Throughout the whole land of Judea there was scarcely a village or a hamlet which was not gladdened by the sight of him. How this reproves the creeping, loitering manner, in which many professors serve the Lord. Let us gird up the loins of our mind, and be not weary in well doing. Does not the text imply that Jesus Christ went out of his way to do good? "He went about doing good." He was never deterred by danger or difficulty. He sought out the objects of his gracious intentions. So must we. If old plans will not answer, we must try new ones, for fresh experiments sometimes achieve more than regular methods. Christ's perseverance, and the unity of his purpose, are also hinted at, and the practical application of the subject may be summed up in the words, "He hath left us an example that we should follow in his steps."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Romans 16:25-27

"Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen."

Jesus came into the world to bring about the obedience of faith.  It is through this obedience of faith that the only wise God is glorified forevermore through Jesus Christ.  God is no longer a secret, but plainly seen and beheld by all in the person of Jesus Christ through the obedience of faith, that is, the obedience that is faith.

To believe in the One God has sent is a work (John 6:29) of obedience.  We are called to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ (that is the gospel which is Jesus Christ which he also proclaims) (Mark 1:15) and to trust the Lord God.  Those who love the Lord then you trust him as well.  If you trust God has your best interests in mind, why wouldn't you obey him?

And God has proven himself through Christ to be just and good for while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).  He saw us kicking about in our blood and said to us "Live!" (Ezekiel 16:6)  So to him who is able to strengthen us through the gospel be the glory forever and ever!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mark 1:8

"I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

What does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Spirit?  The image here of baptism is one of full immersion.  The Greek word baptizo means to submerge, dip, or immerse in water or the act of bathing or washing something by the same action.  So then what does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Spirit?  If we assume the visual to be the same, it means to be completely submerged and overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit.

The implications of this are huge.  We are not talking about some ethereal power filling us up or some sort of mystical inner force.  The Holy Spirit is a person, not some mysterious energy.  More than that, He is God.  Jesus Christ has come to not only be God with us, but to so completely immerse us in God that we are saturated and fully penetrated by him into every fiber of our being.  As a sponge soaks up water, so our bodies will fill with the Holy Spirit.

And it changes us.  God's eternal presence itself is what changes us.  We are no longer dry and lifeless, but saturated with life.  It is God who cleanses us by his very being.  Jesus has come to baptize us with the Holy Spirit so that we too might experience the life of God forever and ever!  Amen!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Psalms 30:14-15a

"But I trust in you, O LORD; 
I say, "You are my God."
My times are in your hands;..."

 We must not forget that God is not only the God of all there is and all that exists (namely the God of Space), but he is also the God of Time.  He set into motion the cycle we call day and night.  So important was time to him that he set apart an entire day for rest.  Every moment of every hour was created for his glory.  Every second of every minute has been ordained according to his purposes.  So know God is there with you orchestrating every event to the good of those who love him.

God is in the midst of time to the point where Jesus was sent to us not as a fully grown man but as a tiny infant who grew up in time.  When God created the world, he created all of it from start to finish.  Everything that is happening now was actually set in motion at the beginning of time and creation.  Our times is in His hands.

And we know God is good and just because he has been revealed in Jesus Christ to be so.  So we trust in him that in every decision he makes is the right decision to bring the perfect outcome.  Even though we have free will, the one who is truly free is the one who realizes he doesn't need it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mark 1:1-2

"The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet..."

The gospel according to Mark does not begin at Jesus's birth like in Matthew and Luke, but begins in Isaiah 40.  Those familiar with the Old Testament (Mark and potentially his Jewish/Christian audience) know what Isaiah 40 is about from memory.  It announces there will be comfort for God's people and that sin has been paid for. (Isaiah 40:1-2)  It announces the coming of the LORD and the revelation of His glory and one who will prepare His way for Him. (Is 40:3-5)  And though we are but temporary, the Lord is everlasting and his kingdom will have no end. (Is 40:6ff)

Mark is not only saying that the LORD is coming with power to rule with a mighty arm, but in the gentlest of ways as a shepherd tends his flock (Is 40:9-11), but that he is here and his name is Jesus Christ.  This God in Christ, who created the world and whom none can fathom (Is 40:12-14) and is incomparable (Is 40:15-26) is now seen and touched and accessible by all.  He is here to give strength to the weary and power to the weak so that all who trust in the LORD will renew their strength and soar on wings like eagles. (Isaiah 40:27-31)

And that, my friends, is only the beginning, the beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Isaiah 55:1

"Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."

What does it cost to get into heaven?  What must I do and how should I worship?  These are the most common questions people ask about heaven to which the most common answer is "be a good person".  The answer is wrong simply because the questions are also wrong.  Heaven is absolutely free to get into.  It was bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ and you simply need to believe in the message of Jesus Christ.  Simple right?

Actually, it absolutely is.  God needs absolutely nothing from you.  He's GOD, he doesn't need anything because everything is already his.  Heaven is already yours if you believe what God has said.  He has already done everything for you so you need not do anything.

However, if you truly believed in God, we can expect certain reactions:  Thanksgiving and worship of God, faith in what he has done, living a full life according to God's word, and lastly testifying in love and truth to the graciousness of our God.  None of these things buy salvation because salvation is free  and because it is free, these things are sure to follow those who believe it.

So how do you get to heaven?  Don't do anything but rather respond to what has already been done!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Revelation 5:12

In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"

Worthy is the lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world.  Perhaps the image isn't striking immediately until you start to think about what a lamb looks like after being slaughtered (graphic link, click at own risk).  Verse 6 describes this Lamb as "looking as if it had been slain" and since Revelation is a book of symbols, this lamb is none other than Christ.  It is this mutilated and twisted Lamb who is worthy to receive power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and praise.

But this lamb to us was worthy of only death.  This is our God depicted in the most humble and gruesome of ways.  This is our God who was nailed to a cross and was silent as a lamb before the slaughter is silent. (Isaiah 53:7).  What blessed backwardsness is this?  Why is man judging God instead of the other way around?

But the truth is, God did judge us by sending Jesus Christ not to condemn the world but to save it. (John 3:17)  He sentenced us not to death, but to life and life abundant so that all who remain in Christ die to sin as Christ did but are born again into new and everlasting life.  We esteemed him not, but God deemed him worthy to receive power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and praise.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ezra 1:5

"Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites--everyone whose heart God had moved--prepared to go up and build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem."

There was a new generation of Jews rising up when all had been scattered and were living in exile 400 some years.  Under the royal charge and funding of Cyrus, king of Persia, to build the temple of the LORD, all Jews were charged to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.  However, many of them had already forgotten the ways of the fathers and were quite comfortable living in exile.  They wanted to live like the world and give up the traditions of their fathers and the history of their people.  They wanted to forget all about the LORD.

But this new generation did not start a new thing, but they revived the old.  The LORD stirred up their hearts and moved them and they went back to a life they did not know in a land most of them had never been having been born in exile.  All they had were the legends their fathers told but the LORD worked in them to will and to do in order to restore what was.

So too does this generation quickly want to abandon the ways of their fathers to do more newer, cutting-edge, and relevant things, not realizing progress lies not in going forward but in going back to the way things were in the beginning.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Isaiah 41:9-10

"I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.  So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

A passage originally intended for the chosen people of Israel is now extended to all believers by the power of atoning work of Jesus Christ.  It is in this act that God has chosen to be for us that nothing may be against us.  God is free to be any sort of God he likes to be, and in his freedom He has chosen to be our God.  Because god is holy he has called out from the farthest corners a people for himself (what once was Israel and now is the Church) to be a nation of priests and servants.

And so it is that if God has chosen to be for you and your good, who can stop him?  Who can stop the Almighty One from doing what he wants to do?  No one, and that is good news indeed!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

1 John 3:2

"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."

It is when we look upon Christ "as he is" that "we shall be like him".  God has created us to be in his image, that is the human image of Christ, so that we might always reflect God's glory.  Like mirrors, we shine only that which we behold.  So if our eyes are turned towards Christ, will they not reflect his glory as the risen Son of God exalted to the right hand of the Father?

We are children of God.  We are mere children who have not yet grown into heavenly adults with all the rights and privileges of kingdom citizenship.  We cannot yet vote in the Kingdom.  Our adult bodies may fool us into thinking we are grown, they are but flesh and not spirit.  But he who looks upon Christ shall be mature in spirit, perfect in every way and as verse 3 puts it, "pure as he is pure".

But rest assured, my beloved, you will be men and women of God by the power of simply beholding the risen Christ slain from the foundation of the world.  As you draw nearer to Christ your vision of him will only become clearer until the great and fearful day of his coming when you will see him as he truly is:  The risen messiah, broken for you.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Numbers 21:8-9

"The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived."

All who were bitten by snakes and so were afflicted by their venom needed only to look upon the image of their affliction, a brazen snake, and they lived.  It does not say they had no adverse reaction to the poison in their veins, but merely that they lived.  And the symbolism of the Snake is still used today as a symbol of healing because of this.   

However snakes carry a deeper meaning in the Bible.  It is the creature who is accursed above all other creatures.  The bronze snake is the very image of sin though harmless in and of itself.  Likewise has Christ, pure and holy, become the image of sin so that all who look upon him might live.  Whereas all who looked upon the bronze snake lived despite the venom, so all who look upon Christ will live despite all their sin!
Seeing Christ as he truly is, namely as the risen Son of God, has a deep transformative impact on all who behold him.  Look to the Son of God, the only risen Son, and you will live, no longer afflicted eternally but only temporarily.  The poison will pass and by the grace of God we will endure.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Malachi 3:10

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."

What God's people used to tithe was not money, but 10% of their crops every harvest which would be kept in the storehouse to feed the priests and the poor.  As God has blessed you, so in turn do you return to him what he has given so that others may be blessed as well.  However in the 2 verses preceding this one, we learn that those who do not tithe are thieves.

They rob God who deny him his tithe because they deny his the poor of their sustenance and the priests of their wages.  Of such Paul says this ,"He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need." (Ephesians 4:28).  So the opposite of stealing is generosity.  Where you used to take for yourself, now you give to others.

And what is the result of generosity?  Even more generosity from our Father in heaven as he throws open the floodgates of heaven and pours out blessing until your cup runneth over. Test God in this and see if he won't do as He says.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

1 John 5:10

"Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son."

God sent his Son into the world to bear witness on our behalf.  The testimony of Jesus Christ is that though we are guilty, we shall be declared not guilty.  We are justified and set free from punishment.  This is the testimony God has concerning us, that though we have sinned, all is forgiven.

However those who do not believe this message and thus does not trust in the Son of God makes God out to be a liar.

When faced with this beautiful truth, it is unthinkable that anyone should respond by crucifying Christ.  A messenger brings good news and he is insulted, beaten, and killed instead of welcomed.  They do not believe the gospel of Jesus Christ and so accuse God of being a liar.  How broken are we that beautiful truths bring pain when we hear them?  Oh how far we've fallen!

As anyone who has gone through an abusive relationship can tell you, after being told lies and being put down all your life, you can hardly believe when people tell you the truth.  You cannot believe someone loves you and moreover, it actually hurts when someone speaks to you words of affirmation.  Believe in the good news and be patient with those enslaved by the world.  God is not a liar.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Job 32:2-3

"But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him."

As guilty as a person may be, if there is insufficient evidence to convict of sin, there can be no condemnation.  A person is "innocent" until proven "guilty" and because Job had not yet been refuted by his friends, he started to actually believe himself to be innocent.  He justified himself rather than God whom he accused of wronging him, something Elihu recognized rightly to be utter nonsense.

Elihu became God's defense attorney and also Job's prosecutor, showing him his fault and defending God's name.  But it wasn't enough.  God himself stepped out of Heaven to Job's front door and began his cross examination of Job, once and for all convicting him of sin.   But Job was not sentenced.  He was not punished.  Rather he humbled himself and all things were restored to him and more!

So how much more, then, has a God who has proven the world's sin and guilt, exonerate those who humble themselves and repent?  How much more will he restore to them not only their lives, but eternal life?  Through the Law our transgressions multiplied so that we should be proven utterly sinful, but through our Judge Jesus Christ we bear no burden if we humble ourselves and obey.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

1 John 1:1

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life."

You really need to take a step back to enjoy the full enormity of this sentence.

That which is from the beginning is God.  Not any god, but the Triune Creator God, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit who was, is and is to come.  He is the eternal one and the basis upon which all theing draw their being.  He IS by definition and cannot NOT BE.  He is the great "I AM", unchanging and unfathomable and untouched by time.  However...

This creator God speaks to us so that we might hear him.  Christ appears to us so that we might see him.  But this is standard fare as religions go.  They all have their own mystical experiences and visions and voices from the beyond.  But what is unthinkable is that we have touched Him.  We touched the fabric of all being.  At one point , our God was made manifest on Earth and we could physically touch his hands and kiss his cheek and feel comforted by his embrace.  We have touched the Word of life because he has reached out and touched us first so that we might live again and live eternally in fellowship with him and each other so that our joy may be complete.  Who is like the LORD?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ezekiel 34:11

"For this is what the Sovereign LORD says:  I myself will search for my sheep and look after them."

 What we learn in verses 1-10 is that where the shepherds of Israel have failed to take care of God's flock but have instead used and extorted them, God himself will do.  God gave them a sacred charge to care for his people, to strengthen the weak, heal the sick, and bind up the injured.  But instead, they have treated them harshly and brutally.  They have not even gone out to look for the sheep, though they remain scattered over the whole Earth.  They have failed, so God will do it himself.

He like a good shepherd will find the sheep that are lost.(Luke 15; Matthew 18:11)  He will descend from heaven to bind up the broken-hearted and to set the captives free. (Is 61:1)  All his sheep know his voice and obey his command.(John 10:14)  He is the good shepherd who will lay down his life for his sheep.  (John 10:11)  He is Jesus Christ, God, come to shepherd his people.

So do not think of yourself as a shepherd of God's people.  The LORD is against shepherds and holds them accountable for what they have done. (Ez 34:10) That burden is not yours, but it is God's.  It is only through Jesus Christ, the only true shepherd, that you can minister and shepherd the flock lest you carry the burden of responsibility.  They are Christ's sheep, not yours.  Quit feeling guilty and overburdened.  Christ can handle it without you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Acts 19:2

"[Paul] asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"
They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."

How is it that someone can be a believer and while having never received or even heard of the Holy Spirit?  Doesn't the Holy Spirit indwell all believers?  The text makes clear that these were disciples, but does not make clear whose disciples they are.  They were baptized once with the baptism of repentance, but the text then goes on to say that they were re-baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

It seems that their first baptism was inadequate and whoever discipled them left the job undone.  These were nominal Christians.  John's baptism was good, but it was insufficient for salvation.  Some others had come before Paul to Ephesus and preached only a small part of the good news of Christ and went on their way, unknowingly leaving behind a remnant of shallow half-Christians who only think they are saved.

How much of a burden then lies on us, as members of Christ's body, to preach the whole gospel in order to make whole Christians?  We have a charge to make disciples of all nations, not just to baptize but to teach them to obey all things Christ has commanded.  Paul taught in the area two years, making sure all have heard the message and were rightly taught before he moved on.  We ought follow him as he follows Christ.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Luke 9:13-14

"But Jesus said, “You feed them.”
        “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?” For there were about 5,000 men there."

This was 5,000 men, not including women and children.  The problem here is complex and not easily solved with money.  To feed this multitude of people would cost 200 years worth of wages and all that was had was two fish and five loaves of bread.  But when they shared all that they had, they still had extra to collect.

So if you care enough to ask as Jesus's disciples did, "Who will feed all these people?"  You shouldn't be surprised to hear Jesus say, "You feed them."  Jesus gives a very simple and practical solution to a very complex problem.  So simple, in fact, that it seems he doesn't grasp the situation or is being inconsiderate and uncaring.  But Jesus Christ is God and no one understands the situation better than He and still he says, "You feed them."

Jesus doesn't expect you to go out and spend your entire life savings feeding people.  He knows you don't have that kind of money and one person alone cannot solve world hunger.  However, as God has provided you with what little or what plenty you have, share it and God will make it enough.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

1 Corinthians 10:23

"“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up."

Paul in his letter to the Corinthians does not refute their statement but adds onto it.  In Christ there is no condemnation for sin (Rom 8:1) and no eternal punishment for laws that are broken.  How can there be if Christ died for all sin and was raised for all glory?   For the Christian, all things are lawful and permissible.  You can do anything you want with the freedom Christ gives you.  Paul acknowledges this but asks a deeper question, "Why would you?"

Those who have been touched by grace and have been shown God's favor have no need to keep on sinning.  God's love and kindness leads them to repentance (Rom 2:4), no longer his righteous judgments.  In our new found freedom, we are free to pursue relationship with God without consequence.  That is the gift of grace and of the cross of Christ.  No longer must we fear stumbling, but we can boldly approach the throne of grace without fear of reproach.  If you died with Christ, Sin has no hold on you and death has lost it's power.  Don't you believe it?

Do not ask "If Jesus paid it all, why can't I go on sinning?"  If you truly believed Jesus paid it all, you know why.  Don't waste your time sinning when there is a harvest to gain and treasures to store up in heaven.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Luke 14:33

"Therefore likewise, all of you who do not give up all of his possessions is not able to be my disciple."

Jesus is crazy.  Nobody actually takes what he says seriously, or so it seems.  Virtually no one, even Christians, believe Jesus means what he says or if they do believe it they do not live it.  Jesus starts this exhortation by saying that those who do not hate their mother, brothers, father, wife, children, and even their own life are also not able to be his disciples.  Jesus is most definitely crazy for who then could be his disciple?

Or Jesus is the Son of God and everything already belongs to him.

Everything that exists is always and already owned by him.  By giving all things up and acknowledging that you have absolutely no right or entitlement to them, that they are in fact all gifts from Christ's hand, you can then become a disciple.  By admitting that your family is not yours, you give them over to He who can take better care of them that you could.  Even you are not your own, but you were created by Christ, through Christ, and in Christ and bought with a price.

Give to Christ what is rightfully his.  Own nothing but use every good gift God has given you.  Give up everything to Christ and don't be surprised if he gives them back to you as gifts or asks you to carry your cross a little further to Calvary.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Psalm 131:1

"My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me."

Our position in life is that of humility.  Our hearts are not proud but instead laid low.  Conversely, our eyes are not haughty.  We do not look down on others but instead we lift them up and consider them better than ourselves.  But how often does our pride cause us to interfere and stick our noses in places they don't belong?

In a sense, robbing someone else of their privacy is an act of dominance and of pride.  A mother snooping in the affairs of her teenage daughter's room asserts her higher position, whether rightly or wrongly.  When you personally see to it that all of your brothers and sisters in Christ are being kept "accountable", you also act in pride.  With your actions you say, "They will sin if I am not keeping them in line.  They cannot be trusted."  When you assert yourself in places which do not concern you, you show your eyes to be haughty and your heart proud.

In the same way, there are some mysteries not meant to be understood, but just simply accepted and marveled.  The pride for knowledge is a dangerous game, for the more wise (and I mean in a worldly sense) one becomes, the more the foolish things will be used to shame them.  But true wisdom begins with the fear of the LORD.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ezekiel 16:6

“And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’

If you don't understand the allusion, read verse 5.  Israel is compared to aborted infants left on the side of the road to be exposed, tossed out like common trash.  Unwanted by the world and unloved, that is until the LORD passed by.

He saw us kicking about, freshly born infants still covered in blood, crying and helpless, and he said to us, "Live!"  No longer unwanted, no longer a mistake, no longer dying, but now commanded to live.  This life that would have gone to waste has been given new hope, new meaning, and new life.  No longer must we die, but we must live!  It is a command.

So even when the world doesn't want you,  even if your own mother and father forsake you, and even if the everyone turns against you, know that God wants you to live.  God values your life.  You are being taken care of even as you lay kicking and screaming in your own blood, tossed out and trampled on, defiled and broken down.  You are loved so "Live!"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hebrews 4:15

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus Christ reveals that it is indeed possible to be tempted in all things and yet not fall into temptation for we hold that Jesus Christ is fully Human.  It would be a mistake to say, "I am sinful and that's all I'll ever be.  I will never stop sinning so why try?" The thing is, God knows how weak willed you are.  He knows how tempted you are to sin.  He faced all the same temptations, being human himself.  And still he calls you towards perfection (Matthew 5:48) because he knows you can do it.

So how did Jesus do it?  The thing is, he didn't do it on his own strength, but on his Father's.  Jesus Christ was fully human, but he was also fully divine and because his will and his father's will were in line, Jesus never sinned.  In the same way, when we seek relationship with God, our wills are constantly being transformed and conformed by God.  By yourself, it is impossible, but if you are in Christ you are a new creation, able to sin no more!

So, my brothers and sisters, do not give up!  Sin is defeated only when we fight with God to conquer it and we are more than conquerors in Christ!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Romans 9:22-23

"What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory?"

Who are the objects of divine wrath that God bore with great patience?  Who are the ones prepared for destruction that God did endure with long suffering and steadfastness? Ephesians 2:3 says this, "Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath."  All of us together are objects of God's divine wrath.  God has put up with us for so long, with great patience and understanding.  We begin to see just how slow to anger this God is. (Ex 34:6)

And what is the miracle?  That we were prepared for destruction but we were not destroyed.  Those who were once dead are now alive.  Those who were not God's people are called God's people.   Those who were not God's beloved have become loved.  Ephesians 2:4 says, "But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- It is by grace you have been saved."

So then who are the objects of Mercy?  All who are made alive in Christ.  God has carried each and every single one of us.  He has carried the weight of our sin in Christ his Son and has poured out his wrath on him so that all might not perish but a remnant would remain.  He did this so that no one may boast but in Christ alone to the glory of his eternal name.  Amen!

Monday, July 4, 2011

James 2:15-16

"Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?"

James says in verse 17 that dead faith is useless.  And what is dead faith?  It is a lack of compassion and concern for your brother or sister.  It allows you to see suffering and simply go on your way.  It makes you feel great about yourself while another goes without the things they need to survive.  It tricks you into thinking you are alive when you are not.  Dead faith walks past God's children and leaves them to starve.

And if the faith is dead, it is not good for anything.  When batteries die, they need to be recharged or thrown out.  Dead faith does nothing. It doesn't work.  It bears no crops.  It yields no harvest.  There is no righteousness reaped.  There are no works to be had because the faith cannot produce them.  It is dead faith.  Dead.

But if faith brings forth the fruit God desires, then it is alive.  If it remains in the vine, then it will bear fruit.  Works make complete the faith and brings it to maturity.  Faith must be made complete in order for it to save.  Faith must have works, else it is a dead faith and a dead faith is no faith at all.  Faith is dead without works, so we need a faith that works!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

John 15:13

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

 Someone once asked me what it means that I loved them.  I thought about it for a second and this was my reply:

"It means that I would do anything for you, even if it hurt me."

Indeed the deepest and truest love is self-sacrificial in nature.  It gives of itself and never expects return.  It is crazy love, the kind of thing that makes you do all sorts of things you otherwise would never dream of doing.  What's crazier is that when Jesus says this, he is only foreshadowing his own death for his friends.  And while we were still enemies (Rom 5:10), he called us friends! (John 15:15)

God would do anything for us, even if it hurt him, even if it cost him his one and only beloved Son.  He paid the price anyway because of his love, he knew it would all be worth it in the end.  Oh how he loves us!  It's a love that overlooks all of our faults and failures and sees only us.  God is crazy to love us because he is crazy in love with us.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Genesis 24:51,67

"Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed."... Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death."

In the Old Testament tradition, it is your father's responsibility to find you a suitable wife.  You can pick out one that you want, but ultimately the father has the last say in obtaining a wife for you.  Such is the story of Isaac and Rebekah with an interesting twist;  It was Abraham's Father in heaven who directed and arranged the marriage.

Notice in v67 that Isaac loved her, despite having just met her.  Why?  Because the LORD already knows who is compatible because he searches their hearts.  If you submit to His will for your wife, you will not be disappointed (and same goes for ladies).  Because you know that the LORD has made directed your marriage, you know already that your marriage will stand on a firm foundation for what God has joined together let no man separate. (Mark 10:9)

Be content with where God has you.  He knows what you need and when you need it and if he sees fit to give you a wife or a husband it will be not only the right time, but also the right person.  Give up the chase and let God give you grace!  Hallelujah!

Footnote:  Of course this is all contingent on God actually being your Father...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Acts 10:15

"Again a voice came to him a second time, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.""

Are you holy?  Have you been washed by the blood of Jesus Christ?  Has the cross taken away all of your sins?

Truly if you are in Christ by faith in his blood then you are holy.  God has pardoned you.  Because you believed God has done what he has promised, it has been credited to you as righteousness.(Gen 15:6)  So what God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.  You are a new creation (2Cor 5:17) not because of anything you did, but because God cleansed you.  You are holy because God is holy and is the one who makes you holy. (Lev 21:7,15,23;22:9,16,32)

So do not blaspheme God by calling what is holy unholy.  If you have believed in Christ, do not dare to deny what Christ has done through confessing your sinful nature.  You are no longer sinners, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1Cor 6:11)  You have died to it,(Rom 6:2) how can you still confess to be in it?  Profess that "Though I was once a sinner, Christ took away my sin, and by his Power I am kept holy, pure, and blameless" lest you deny the reality of that which justifies you, Christ Jesus and him crucified.

Or do you not believe the gospel of grace so generously poured out on your behalf?