Monday, November 23, 2020

An Offering of Thanksgiving


Giving thanks is possibly more common this time of year, with the holiday of Thanksgiving putting it on our minds. We are (hopefully) more conscious of our gifts and blessings, and more expressive to those to whom we are grateful. Unfortunately, we don’t always think to thank the One who has given us everything. We are thankful for what we have, but do we take time to thank the One who gave it to us? What could we possibly offer to the One who possesses everything?

 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Devotions: The Work and Product of Faith

 

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving

Colossians 4:2 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

While this is not directly about faith, it still fits in with the theme of the last couple weeks. Prayer and thanksgiving are both part of faith. We pray because we have faith in God; faith that He will act, that He cares about us, but also in Who He is. Thanksgiving is the result of faith; seeing God at work, having prayers answered, watching for God in everyday life. These things make us thankful. Prayer is the work of faith; thanksgiving is the product of faith. So for those who walk by faith, it is vital to devote ourselves to prayer. That is where the battle happens and should be our first response to everything. We should be constantly in conversation with God, talking to Him about everything. It is also important to have an attitude of thanksgiving; of seeing everything as a blessing rather than a curse, of looking for the bright side of every situation, and living in light of our faith instead of our circumstances.

For both of these to happen we must be alert. We have to be on guard, ready for the attacks of the enemy. We must also pay attention and keep watch so we can see rightly, not only for the schemes of the devil but also for the workings of God. If we do not pay attention or examine ourselves, we will be ambushed by the enemy and miss the blessings of what God is doing. How can you see God work if you aren’t looking for it? How can you know the weak spots satan will attack if you don’t examine yourself constantly as an army inspects the barricade? How can you be encouraged by memories of God’s faithfulness in the past if you haven’t sought to find them? How can you know who your true enemy is if you aren’t paying attention? Be in prayer, be thankful, and be vigilant!

 

 

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Devotions: See by Faith

 For we walk by faith, not by sight

2 Corinthians 5:7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

In the New Testament, “walk” is synonymous with “live.” We live by what we believe, not by what we see. That short statement is quite profound because it is so easy to get caught up in what is going on around us, in what we see. Yet what really matters is what we cannot see, for we battle against the spiritual forces (Eph 6) we cannot see. We are saved by God and led by His Spirit, both of Whom we cannot see. We will spend eternity in either heaven or hell, both of which we cannot see. One of our goals in life is to bring the light of Jesus to a dying world so that their souls can be saved. All of those are things we cannot see, yet they are really the only things that matter. Our faith is based on what we cannot see, working toward the promise of what we cannot see, guided by a Spirit we cannot see. Faith is the evidence of what we cannot see (Heb 11.) While it is so tempting to pay attention to what is going on around us, we need to remember what is really important and what is really going on. What we see are riots, tension, and fights over politics, but what is really going on is the battle between good and evil, satan waging war on the people of God, and humans behaving selfishly because of the influence of sin. Things seem to be getting worse because they are. The end of time is quickly drawing near and satan is fighting all the harder because he only has so much time left. It is so important for us to fight God’s fight, not ours, to seek to save lost souls before their time is up, and to fight against satan and not each other.

We need to take a step back and allow God to change our perspective so that we can see, live and fight correctly. We need to live based on the truth of God’s Word, not on what the world says; about us, about life and about truth itself. Eternal truths written by the Creator of the universe are so much more important than opinions made by insignificant, fallible, finite beings. We need to see with spiritual eyes, not physical. We need to place our priority on the things of God, not the things of this world. This is done by devoting time to prayer and studying God’s Word. By placing value and priority on God and spending time with Him we will change the way we see.

Are you distressed by what is going on in the world? What do you pay attention to? What are your priorities? Ask God to help you change your vision, to help correct your priorities. Make time to spend with Him so that He can help you see. 

 

 

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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Devotions: Pleasing Faith

 

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

This chapter is often called the “Hall of Faith” recounting those in the Old Testament who lived by faith. It is only by faith that we can please God. Nothing we do is good enough to earn His favor or love. Because we begin life sinful, all of our actions, no matter how “good,” are still not good, like washing dirty sheets in a mud puddle. We cannot become clean on our own because all of our efforts are from the beginning already tainted. It is only by the blood of Christ, His righteousness covering us, that we can be any different. Then, God sees Christ when He looks at us, but we have to have faith first. Without faith, His blood does not cover us. Without faith, we do not have His righteousness. It is imperative that we believe God is the supreme Creator and King of kings. We must believe that Jesus is our Savior, fully God and man, and that He died and came back to life to take the penalty for our sins. And that must be a faith which transforms, one that impacts every part of our life, for even the demons believe who God is, but they do not obey or submit to Him. Along with that faith in who He is, is the belief that He rewards those who seek Him, that is that He is faithful to forgive and grant eternal life to those who earnestly seek Him out. Many people believe that God is God, but they do not obey or listen to Him. They do not seek Him and His will for their lives. As a result, they do not please Him. See, that kind of faith which transforms our lives and motivates us to live for God is what causes us to be pleasing to Him. What do you believe? Do you believe God exists and Jesus is both God and Savior? Does your faith change the way you live? Do you earnestly seek God? If not, ask Him to help you have that kind of faith, to help you seek Him and believe the Truth. Ask Him to reveal the Truth to you. Ask Him to help you please Him.

 

 

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Monday, November 16, 2020

Suffering Multiplies


Hardship meets everyone sometime in their lives. Often called the “winter season” it is a time that feels barren and empty, like there is no life or growth at all. Like walking through a desert, it seems to drain everything, leaving us feeling dry with nothing left. While that is how it often “feels”, that is not how it actually is. Our feelings do not always accurately reflect the truth.

 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Devotions: Weak Faith

 

And have mercy on some, who are doubting

Jude 22 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

Another way to say “doubting” is “wavering faith”. We are to have mercy on those whose faith is wavering. Remember that mercy is not having to pay the penalty we deserve. One of the temptations of growing in faith and gaining knowledge and wisdom through studying the Word is to also grow in arrogance. We can become prideful of our faith and knowledge which leads us to look down on those who are not at our level. This is worse than having a weak faith because pride is the antithesis of Godliness and faith. It is putting self, not only above others, but also above God, and if we are above God we don’t need to have faith in God. It is a dangerous pit fall. Instead of looking down on those who do not match our faith and knowledge, we need to have compassion. We should be concerned for them out of love and a desire for them to grow. That compassion should move us to come along side and help them, as we would someone who walked with a cane. Their condition should motivate us to love, not condemn, to help not put down. Our reaction to others shows the condition of our hearts and if we do not heed the warning signs in time, we will fall. Pride is a very dangerous, yet deceitful, ledge to walk. Let us be on guard, if we think we stand, in case we fall. How is your faith? How do you view others whose faith is weaker than yours? What is your reaction to them? Ask God to help you grow in humility as well as faith, to give you a heart of compassion and mercy.

If you have weak faith, don’t despair. Keep seeking God. He will grow it in you in His time. Keeping seeking Him, stay in the Word, and ask Him to grow your faith. He is faithful to answer!

 

 

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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Devotions: Overcome the World

 

For whoever has been born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

1 John 5:4-5 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

If we are saved by the blood of Christ and have His Spirit living in us, then we have overcome the world because of our faith in the One who has already overcome the world. The battle has already been won. Satan is already defeated. That is why he is working so hard to destroy everything he can, because he knows his time is coming to an end. We need to live as if we were already victorious conquerors because we are. We need to know the truth and live by it so it can set us free. As Christians, the only reason for us to live in bondage is because we have placed ourselves there. Freedom is available. This is not the end. Times will get harder before the end, but they do not have to overtake us. We don’t have to be run down by them. We can live in victory, peace and freedom no matter what happens around us. The key is our faith. Remember the dimmer switch? We need to be in the Word so the lights will be brighter. We don’t have to let satan keep us dim. Freedom comes from the truth which is found in the Word. Faith grows by hearing the Word. Are you ready for battle? Do you live as if you have overcome the world? How bright is your light? Make time to be in the Word regularly so that you can be ready, and live in freedom and peace.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Devotions: Direct Connections

 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

I had always understood this verse in the context of evangelism and salvation, but it has a deeper application. Our faith is like a light bulb, but it doesn’t just have an on/off switch, it also has a dimmer. Before salvation the switch is off, and though it stays on after salvation, its brightness can vary. Our faith can wax and wane, just like the moon reflecting the light of the sun. We reflect the Light of the Son, but our brightness depends on our depth of faith. There are many things that can grow our faith, but the best, truest source is the word of Christ. Basically, the more we are in the Word the stronger our faith will be. Of course, going to church and Bible studies and listening to sermons, etc. will help, but we need a direct line to keep the flow. Just like too many extension cords will cause problems with Christmas lights, not having a direct connection to the Word of God will not give us the strength we need. We need to be directly connected with God to grow our faith, otherwise it will wane just like the moon. There is no stationary phase. If we want a strong faith, one that does not falter when battle lines are drawn, we need to be in the Word consistently; reading, studying and meditating on what it says.

Really, it is very simple. You are what you eat. If you are starving your faith, it will be weak and ineffective. You need to feast daily and deeply to keep your faith strong. How is your faith? Are you feeding regularly and consistently on the Word of God? What plan will you make right now to change that and improve your spiritual nutrition? Don’t put it off. The battle is coming.

 

 

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Monday, November 9, 2020

God is God and I am Not


Deep down we all want to be God. We want to be in control and do what we please. That is why satan was banished from heaven, by trying to become God, and that is the sin he used to trap Adam and Eve, by getting them to believe that disobedience would make them like God. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, though, none of us are. There is only one God, and He does not share.

 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Devotions: Ultimate Authority

 

Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over Me at all, if it had not been given to you from above; for this reason the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.”

John 19:11 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

Pilate was the ruler in Israel, second only to Caesar, and he held Jesus’ life in his hands. He had the power to decide whether to release or kill Him. Yet Jesus made it clear that God still had ultimate authority and control, and Pilate only had that authority because God had given it to him. He was only able to do what he did, and execute the judgment he made, because it was God’s plan. If God didn’t want Jesus to be killed, He would have stopped it. There are several times in the Gospels where the mob came after Jesus to kill Him but He miraculously escaped. No matter what men do, no matter what evil plans are carried out, we have to remember that God has ultimate control and authority. He also has the ability to redeem any sin or wrongdoing and make it into something good.

The second part of this verse refers to the Pharisees. They were experts on the Bible; they should have known who Jesus was. I believe they did know, but did not want to submit to God. They wanted to maintain control. In a sense, Jesus was excusing Pilate’s sin because the Pharisees’ was worse. Pilate was a pawn. This should give us great comfort because it proves that God is in control. Even when bad men have their way, He is still in control. He is working everything according to His GOOD plan that cannot be thwarted. We can have peace knowing that He is the ultimate King and authority. It should also give us comfort knowing that He can redeem, not only Pilate’s sin, but also ours. We are not perfect. We mess up and give in to sin. Yet God can redeem the mistakes we make and turn them into something beautiful if we will surrender them to Him and submit to His will and Lordship.

No matter what happens we can trust and have peace. Are you worried about what is happening? Are you concerned that evil will get the upper hand? Ask God to comfort you. Ask Him to help you rest in the knowledge of His sovereignty and love. Submit yourself to His plan.

 

 

 

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