Thursday, May 6, 2021

Devotions: All You Need

 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I wait for Him.”

Lamentations 3:24 New American Standard Bible

 

Another word for portion is inheritance. God is our inheritance. He is all that we need. This portion of scripture is one of my favorites. Written by Jeremiah, called the weeping prophet, this chapter comes in the middle of a book of sorrow and weeping (hence “lamentations.) He takes a break from his sorrow to express faith and hope in God, giving encouragement to others in their times of sorrow. God’s mercies are new every morning. It is good to seek and wait for God. We can and should wait for God because He is our portion. He is what we need, and we will not find satisfaction, help or anything else aside from Him. This world pretends to have the answers, and offers help and solutions, but they don’t satisfy. Often, they only increase our longings and desires.

What do you seek? What do you long for? Seek the Lord. Find your comfort, help and satisfaction in Him alone. He is all you need!

 

 

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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Devotions: My Hiding Place

 

You are my hiding place and my shield;
I wait for Your word.

Psalm 119:114 New American Standard Bible

 

God is our refuge. Back in David’s time, a refuge was a place in the mountains, usually high up, where people were safe from attack. It was fortified, strong and protected. David hid in many of these kinds of places when he was being chased by various people intent on killing him. God is our refuge now, a “place” we can go to find safety and protection. He may not hide us physically (though that is possible, and has happened miraculously at times), but He will shelter and protect us spiritually, emotionally and mentally. In this passage, the author was contrasting those who are obedient to God, and those who say they are believers, yet live like the world (i.e. double-minded). These people were attacking him verbally because he stayed true to the truth and lived as God called him to. He was calling on God for help to continue living a life that was obedient and pleasing to God, rather than compromising with the world. When times were hard, he sought refuge in God’s word. Scripture is one of our greatest comforts and weapons. It can be used to instruct and strengthen us, and also to fight against the lies of the enemy. God speaks to us most often through His word.

What attacks are you facing? What temptations and struggles are you fighting? Seek your strength and refuge in God and His word. Let Him fight your battle while you stand strong in His presence.

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Devotions: A Good Night's Sleep

 

I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.

Psalm 3:5 New American Standard Bible

 

This psalm was written by David as he fled from his son who wanted to kill him to take the throne. There was a lot of pain and feelings of fear and betrayal, and many mocked him adding insult to injury. Sadly, this situation was ultimately the result of David’s negligence as a parent. In this time of hardship, he cried out to God, confessing his problems and his faith. God was his refuge and shield. He trusted God to protect and deliver him. God had done it before, and he believed in Him to do it again. This verse is poignant because in the middle of his prayer for deliverance, David talks about sleeping. Having been through hard times myself, I know there are usually a lot of sleepless nights. When we are hurting, when others have it out for us, when we are afraid, those troubles will keep us awake at night. But it didn’t happen that way for David. He was able to sleep at night because he trusted God to protect and deliver him. He trusted God to bring a favorable outcome. He trusted God who is in complete control. God sustained him; giving him the strength, hope, courage and rest that he needed.

What are you going through? What troubles keep you awake at night? In what area do you not trust God? Take those troubles to Him. Ask Him to help you trust Him, and remind you of times of His past faithfulness, help and deliverance. Ask Him to bring you a friend who will encourage you with their stories of God’s work in their lives. Trust in the Lord who sustains you, even when you aren’t aware of it!

 

 


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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Devotions: My Prayer for You

 

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1:9-11 New American Standard Bible

 

Paul is writing this letter from prison to the Philippian church. His prayer for them (and for others as seen in other letters) is for their love for others to grow. That is something we all need. It is not possible to love too much as long as that love is genuine and based on the truth. We need to grow in the knowledge of God and His will and understanding. We need discernment so that we can tell what is worthy and what is not. That way we will be sincere, genuine, and without offense while we are on this earth. This is important, not just for our well being, but much more for our witness and testimony as ambassadors for God. Others judge God by what they see in us, and they need to see genuine love, truth, and discernment. So many are turned away from Christ because His people are offensive. This is not referencing the offense many feel to the truth, for that is natural and unavoidable. The problem is when others are offended by the ungodly attitudes and actions they see in us; when we are greedy, selfish, arrogant, argumentative, self righteous, and judgmental. But they will be drawn to those who are genuine, loving and gracious. All of this is the fruit of Jesus’ righteousness working in us. We cannot conjure it up on our own. We have to submit our lives to Him, seek His will and work in our lives, repent when we sin, and desire to be more like Him. It is a gradual, continuous process that comes from a heart that loves God, a heart that seeks to praise and glorify Him. That is the end goal and motivation for all of this.

I pray this for you, that your love may grow through the knowledge of God, that you gain discernment so you can be sincere and without offense because you seek after the righteousness of God for His glory. Amen.

 

 

I apologize for being “silent” on here for the last couple of weeks. We were traveling longer than I anticipated and I have been under the weather since.

 

 

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Translations of Greek and Hebrew words taken from blueletterbible.org

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Devotions: Handling the Truth Truthfully

 

Therefore, whoever nullifies one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:19 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

It is popular in our culture to believe that truth is relative. It is whatever we want it to be. As a result, many people have chosen to ignore the parts and commands in the Bible which they do not like. Unfortunately for them, it doesn’t work that way. The Bible is God’s sovereign Word. It is living and active and relevant. God is our Creator and Judge. He decides what is right and wrong and we have no right to argue. If we refuse to believe Him then we will pay the consequences. Disobedience is tantamount to treason. It is siding with and following His enemy. There is no middle ground. We cannot say we were just doing our thing; that is a lie from the enemy to deceive us into following him. In Revelation, it says that anyone who adds to or takes away from the words in this book will receive all the punishment held within it. It is something God takes very seriously. He has every right to be obeyed, and by refusing we are putting ourselves in His place, making ourselves God. Everything in the Bible is there for a reason. I’m not just talking about the “big sins” either. This counts for everything. All sin is treason against our holy, perfect and righteous God. Teaching others to disregard anything in the Bible is a serious offense, and duly punishable. That is why Paul said that those who teach the Bible need to be very careful how they do it, and to not take up the position lightly. We are held to a higher standard. The false teachers who mistreat the sacred Word of God face harsh consequences. This warning in Matthew does not apply only to official “teachers”, but to all who misuse the Word, especially if they encourage others to follow their example. How do you view the Word of God? Do you believe that it is completely true and to be obeyed? Do you skirt around or ignore the commands and parts you don’t like? Instead of avoiding or disregarding the Bible, whether from confusion or dislike, seek to understand it. Ask God to help you understand what He means and why He put it there. Find the truth. Ask God to help you humbly surrender to Him and apply what He says. Ask Him to give you a heart that desires godliness more than worldliness.

 

 

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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Devotions: True Deliverance and Security

 

My salvation and my glory rest on God;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God

Psalm 62:7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

I like the King James Version which starts the verse “In God is…” He is the source of our salvation, deliverance and victory, as well as our glory and honor. Any of that which we get from earthly things either came from Him indirectly (if it was something He ordained), or is second rate and unworthy, even sinful. We cannot find salvation from sin and death apart from God. True deliverance from sin and death come from God. Other kinds of deliverance, if they are good, are the result of God’s work (rescue from captors, etc.). Our own victory is the result of God’s work in our lives. Even military victories are the result of God’s work. Ultimately, He determines who wins and who loses, all for His good plan and purpose. Glory and honor are things we should look for from God, and not from those around us. The praise of man, if it is the result of our seeking that praise, is not worth having. We should work for the purpose of glorifying God so that the honor we receive comes from Him, and from others seeing Him in us. Paul said that if he were still working for the praise of man then he would not be a servant of God. The reason is because God is the source of our salvation. He is the one who gives us strength. He supports us. Nothing we do is truly only of ourselves in our own strength. We can do nothing apart from Him. It is only by His good grace that we accomplish anything, down to the fact that He gives us every breath we breathe. He is our refuge, the place where we take shelter. At least, He should be. If He isn’t that is why we worry and shake and feel insecure. Nothing of this world can truly give us security, and if we are unwilling to find our security in Him He will slowly take away the things we do find safety in so that we have no choice but to fully trust Him.

Have you found your salvation and glory in God? Do you fully trust in Him? Ask Him to help you seek and trust in Him, and find your security and glory only in Him.

 

 

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Devotions: To Forgive or Not

 

For if you forgive other people for their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive other people, then your Father will not forgive your offenses.

Matthew 6:14-15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

These verses come directly after the Lord’s prayer. Forgiveness is a big deal to God. We have all sinned. We all deserve death. Yet, God chose to make forgiveness possible and He did that by paying the price Himself. We all sat on death row, awaiting execution, but Jesus stepped in and went to the hangman’s noose in our place while we were set free. This is the position of everyone who believes in and accepts Jesus’ sacrifice. It had nothing to do with our merit, and everything to do with God’s love and mercy for us. He is perfect, we are sinful, yet He chose to make forgiveness possible. As a result, our unforgiveness is highly offensive to Him. Who are we to refuse to others what we have accepted for ourselves? Especially since everyone’s sin is ultimately against God. So their sin against us is nothing compared to their sin against Him. What we have to forgive is significantly less than what God has to forgive. Yet He does. By refusing forgiveness we are putting ourselves in the place of God, demanding they pay for their offense, and at the same time saying that we deserve forgiveness and they don’t. That is hypocrisy at its highest. I do not say this in condemnation because I am the worst at this. I have always struggled with unforgiveness, so I say this in encouragement and warning. Don’t take it lightly, instead take it to God.

Notice that it does not say to forgive others for their offenses against you, just to forgive them for what they have done. Often, the things we hold against others are not things they have done to us, especially if we are already harboring unforgiveness against them for something they have done to us. After that, every little thing they do period is offensive to us, even if we are not involved. I say this from experience. The point here is that making people pay for their wrong doing is God’s job not ours. Our job is to love, and when necessary encourage or correct, but not to judge or punish (unless, of course, they are under our authority for that purpose, like children.)

What unforgiveness are you holding on to? What have others done that you hold against them? Take it to God. Ask Him to forgive your arrogance and unforgiveness. Ask Him to help you forgive and see others as He does.

 

 

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Translations of Greek and Hebrew words taken from blueletterbible.org

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Lent week 7: Preparation


In our journey to the Resurrection, we have established that we are mortal, alive only by the grace and breath of God. We have sinned, resulting in eternal separation from God and daily suffering in this life. The fact of sin in our lives and in our world should cause us to grieve deeply.

 

Yet God had a plan from the beginning to redeem us. Jesus came to pay the penalty for our sin so that we only have to believe in Him, surrendering our lives to Him, taking our punishment on Himself. God is calling us to repent, to acknowledge our sin, turn away from it and toward Him. He has promised to forgive us if we ask and is calling us to return to Him. He calls us to live lives of reconciliation, with Him and with others, and also to be agents of reconciliation between Him and the world, directing them to Him.

 

It is important to take this week of Passover as a time of preparation; preparing our hearts for the Resurrection. Preparation and examination are things we should do on a regular basis to keep our hearts and spiritual lives healthy. They are also important to do when taking communion, partaking in the Last Supper. It is an important ritual that carries deep symbolism. In taking the bread and cup, we are remembering the sacrifice Jesus made, how He broke His body and poured out His blood to pay for our sins. Taking communion while harboring sin, intentionally or unintentionally, is a serious affront to God and can cause significant damage to our spiritual lives. We need to look deeply into ourselves and invite God to reveal anything in us we do not see which needs to be dealt with.

 

Psalm 139:23-24 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Search me, God, and know my heart;
Put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there is any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

1 Corinthians 11:23-32 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a person must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For the one who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not properly recognize the body. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number are asleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

 

Passover and Easter are the times when we celebrate this happening. Every time we take communion looks forward to this week. Even if communion is not offered this Sunday, it is still important to come to the day with our hearts prepared. One of the best ways to prepare is to spend time in prayer and fasting. This opens our hearts to God and helps reveal things that are otherwise covered up by the callousness of the world. It makes us more open to hear from God and ready to receive what He says.

 

Use this week to prepare and draw closer to God, to humble your heart and open your ears so that you can appreciate what this Sunday means.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Devotions: Number 1

 

Great is our Lord and abundant in strength;
His understanding is infinite.

Psalm 147:5 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

Our Lord is the greatest, most important being alive with great strength and power. This may seem obvious, but it is important that we recognize and accept God’s greatness and rank. He MUST be the greatest, most important, most powerful and strongest being or He is not God. Then there would be someone or something higher than He is. He would not have the power or authority to pay for our sins, and we would have no reason to trust Him. I think that is the basis of many people’s doubt in God, they do not fully accept that He is number one. They don’t view Him as most powerful or important, so they do not trust Him fully. The enemy uses that to cast doubt. But God is the most powerful. He has all control and wisdom. His way is best. It is imperative that we believe and trust that. What God knows, what He understands, is infinite. There is no end to it. He knows everything that was, is and will be. He can see it all at a glance. That amount of information is beyond our ability to fathom or grasp. We could not handle that level of information. That is why we can and should trust God, because He knows and understands what we are incapable of comprehending.

Do you trust God? Do you believe that He is the smartest, strongest, most important being in existence? Have you made Him Lord of your life? I don’t just mean “asking Him into your heart” but have you surrendered your life to Him, and decided to follow Him, making Him the King and ultimate authority in your life? Ask God to help you understand how much mightier He is. Ask Him to restore your awe of Him.

 

 

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Translations of Greek and Hebrew words taken from blueletterbible.org

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Devotions: All You Need is Love

 

In addition to all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Colossians 3:14 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

In addition to what things? The previous two verses talk about putting on humility, compassion, kindness, gentleness and forgiveness because we have been chosen and saved by God. Those are all good, necessary characteristics of a Christian, but the most important is love. None of those mean anything without love, and to be honest we really can’t have those genuinely apart from love. Without love, kindness is merely being polite. Compassion is just pity. And forgiveness… probably won’t even happen. Love is the beginning of all godliness because it is God Himself. We cannot have God without love, nor the other way around because God is love. We need to put on love first so that the others can develop genuinely.

Another good result of love is that it is the basis of unity. Within the body of Christ, we cannot have true unity without love for one another, and we can’t love each other without that bond of unity and harmony. That does not mean that we agree on everything, or that we always get along, but that we agree to disagree, that we don’t hold things against each other, that we work together for the good of the body rather than ourselves. That is true love; putting others first, so we can’t have unity without love. It is the source of all godliness and unity.

How is your heart? Have you put on love? How do you feel toward others? Is there anyone you particularly don’t like, or that you are holding something against? Ask God to fill your heart with His love, and to help you love others as He does. Ask Him to help you seek unity above your own preferences or agenda (even if it’s a good one).

 

 

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