Thursday, February 22, 2018

Devotions: The Purpose of Our Calling

For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.

1 Thessalonians 4:7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The New Living says that God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Purity is a big deal to God, and that includes more than not having sex before marriage. God wants us to lead lives of purity in everything; spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. Part of holiness and sanctification is being set apart. God has set us apart from the beginning to be His. We are not to be like the rest of the world. We need to be like Him. We need to be pure. We also need to be growing in holiness, that is the other part of sanctification. Once we are set apart for God, we need to grow toward Him continually. It’s not just an on-off switch, but once we are turned on we must grow brighter. It is not enough to stay on but dull. God did not call us to a life of dullness, but to shine brightly for Him. That is our purpose in life, to glorify Him, to shine for Him. We do that by growing in godliness, becoming more like Him. It will not be a steady upward climb. We will fall, but when we do, we need to get back up and keep going. We need to repent and move on. A stumble is never an excuse to give in, nor do we ever fall so far we can’t come back. He will not turn back on His calling (of us), neither should we. Are you living out your purpose?

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Devotions: Made New

For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

Galatians 6:15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Circumcision was a big argument and stumbling block in Paul’s day. For Old Testament Jews it was necessary for salvation, just like sacrifices, but it was also a sign to show who’s they were. It was a pride thing, status. Many could not get past Jesus’ redemption and calling. They could not give up their heritage for Him. It is not much of an issue in the church today, but there are others. Many people try to add things that we have to do in order to be accepted. It is human nature to turn God’s grace into a gospel of works, something that we have to earn. But this verse says that the key is not the physical but the heart. It doesn’t matter so much what we do with our bodies, what matters is what has happened to our hearts. We need to be a new creation. That is what happens when Jesus comes into our lives. He replaces our hard hearts with soft hearts that yearn for Him, hearts that long to be like Him. The way we dress or the music we listen to or the things we do for God mean nothing if our hearts are not renewed. We need to be growing in godliness, transforming daily into His likeness. That is what matters to God, our hearts. Have you been made new?

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Devotions: Sow And Reap

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

There are many deceiving ideas in the world. Many would say that it doesn’t matter what we do, that we are forgiven so we can live however we want. But those lies deceive us. Those ideas make a mockery of God because they are saying that He doesn’t know, doesn’t care, or doesn’t have the power to deal with it. But He does. We can’t deceive Him with our pasty outward lives. He alone knows our hearts. He also knows that we will reap what we sow. Satan also knows this, but he desires to deceive us into following him instead of God. He wants to mock God with our two-faced, noncommittal lives. Know this, that if we live in the flesh (world) we will reap of the flesh, and that means corruption, eternity in torment, for the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. But if we sow in the Spirit, we will reap of the Spirit and gain eternal life. We have a choice: to live in this life, for this life, or to live in eternity, for eternity. We cannot be worldly minded and inherit heaven, we must be heavenly minded to do that. This is evident in a person’s life. Those who live for pleasure show the consequences in themselves: addiction, STD’s, broken families, etc. Even those who serve in the church but do so out of selfish motives gain that end because they are sowing in the flesh. Selfishness has no place in God’s kingdom. Only those who live for God have joy, peace and eternity. What are you sowing?

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Monday, February 19, 2018

What Kind Of Fountain Are You?

Have you ever watched a fountain? The clear tinkle and splash of water is one of the most refreshing sounds. It seems to be a perpetual flow of endless water, always ready, always available, always pure. It beckons to all around to come and partake of the clear, cool water. But not all fountains work. Some are dry entirely, a false vision of life. Others have water in the basin but don’t run. The water in the pool is almost worse than no water at all for it is murky and full of “life” and floaters. Often, these pools smell, too, repulsive to any who come. What kind of fountain are you?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Devotions: Proper Lordship

But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.

1 Peter 3:14-16 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

These verses are talking about when people insult or treat us badly because of our faith. Those times are bound to come. It happened to Jesus Himself, we can expect no less. So rather than be dismayed, accept it for God will reward us for the “good” we do. What does it matter what they think or do to us? And if we continue to do only what is good and right, there will be fewer who want to harm us because we have no need to be punished. The New Living translates verse 15 as “Instead, worship Christ as Lord of your life.” That is the epitome of Christianity. So many think that Jesus is Savior, but obedience is optional. They don’t bow to Him as their Master. But He must be our Lord before He can be our Savior, without Lordship He has no authority to save. Regardless of how we are treated, we need to obey Him as our Lord and not worry about what others think and do. We just need to do what He has for us and be ready to explain why we do it. This does not mean defense in the sense of fighting, but as one would in a courtroom. Give proof and explanation of the hope and love we have. And make sure to do it respectfully and gently, not with arrogance or harshness. We need to live in such a way that no one will have reason to accuse us of anything wrong. Don’t give them reason to hate or accuse, if we don’t then they will be proved as doing it out of malice rather than justice. Keep Jesus as Lord of your life and He will right your wrongs and bring justice to your suffering.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Devotions: An Appropriate Sacrifice

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Easter is at the crux of Christianity. It was at Easter (then called Passover) that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins for all eternity. It was there that He established His deity, proving that He is God, defeated sin and death, and nullified our need to sacrifice animals for every sin we commit (for forgiveness only comes through blood). His death and resurrection accomplished all of this in one fell swoop. He sacrificed everything for us. He gave up heaven and everything He rightly deserved in order to take our place in judgment. What other response could we possibly have than to give everything back, not out of duty or obligation, but out of grateful love and adoration?

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which is the 40 days of preparation before Easter. It was tradition to sacrifice something, give something up, during that period as a way to prepare for Easter, to be mindful of the sacrifice Christ made on our behalf. Would you be willing to give up something for these 40 days? It could be a traditional luxury like milk, eggs, or butter, or maybe sweets or coffee. It could be a bad habit like complaining, smoking, or gossip. Or instead of giving something up, you could take on something good that has been missing in your life, like praying or reading your Bible every day, or working on being more kind or loving. These are just a few of many possibilities, the point is to bring yourself closer to Christ through this time of preparation. Is anything too great a sacrifice for your Saviour? 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Devotions: Celebration of Blessing

I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate harmful beasts from the land so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. I will make them and the places around My hill a blessing. And I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing. Also the tree of the field will yield its fruit and the earth will yield its increase, and they will be secure on their land. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bars of their yoke and have delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them.

Ezekiel 34:25-27 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

This prophecy was made to the Israelites in exile, a promise of physical restoration and blessing, but it also applies to us, a promise of spiritual restoration and blessing. When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin and submit our lives to Him, we enter into a covenant of peace with God. We are no longer enemies or hostile to God. In Jesus’ death on the cross, He vanquished the enemies of God. They are still at large, but their power is broken and their time is limited. We are now safe, we no longer need to fear. Through Jesus’ righteousness, we are made a blessing to the world. God has promised to shower us with blessing. This does not mean that we will have everything we want and will never have a hard day in our lives. It does mean that God will help us deal with the problems that come, He will sustain us through everything, and give us the power and authority to fight our battles. He will bless us in ways we could never imagine, ways that will be far more beneficial to us than a new xbox or Mercedes. He will provide everything we need in this life and the next. We will have full proof that He is God. He will break our bondage to sin and deliver us from slavery to the world.

Today is “Shrove Tuesday”, the day before the beginning of Lent, the 40 days of preparation before Easter. It is a day to celebrate the blessings of God, to remember all He has done for and given to you. Celebrate the many blessings of God!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Tough Questions: Life, Love and Murder

I usually try to avoid controversial issues. My goal is not to debate, argue or force my view on people. My purpose for this blog is to encourage godly growth. But part of growing closer to God is knowing about Him and what He thinks about the issues of life. God does care about the grey areas. My teen sunday school class gave me some topics they didn't understand or weren't sure what the Bible said about them. These are the answers we discussed.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Devotions: A Choice of Words

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

This verse contrasts two options when dealing with people: gentleness or harshness. To compare these two options I will tell a story.
This is the story of Nabal. Nabal was a wealthy man in Israel who was known to have a temper and a bad attitude. While Saul was still king, David was on the run with his followers and camped in the hills above Nabals land. They protected Nabals home from thieves and wild animals, and never took from his flocks for food. One day David sent a courier to graciously ask for food during a time of celebration and prosperity. Nabal not only refused but responded defiantly and insultingly. David was not angry to begin with, but when he heard Nabal’s response he was livid and determined to exterminate everyone belonging to Nabal. Nabal’s harshness and unkindness made a good situation bad, and would have ended disastrously had it not been for a gentle answer. Nabal’s wife Abigail was a wise and gentle woman. When she learned of the situation, she prepared food and gifts for David and humbly went out to meet him. She begged mercy for her foolish husband and sparing for those in their house. Her gentleness and grace soothed David’s wroth and he turned away, sparing the lives of all.
This one story shows the affects our words can have in a situation. Harshness always makes things worse, but gentleness will soothe even a bitter or murderous heart.

How will your words affect your situations today?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Devotions: Bound To God

Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day.

Psalm 25:5 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

God’s truth is the only truth. Anything aside from that is false. If we live by any other truth we will go astray. We need to live our lives and view the world based on God’s truth. Because of that, we need God to teach us His truth and ways. He is the God of our salvation, it is all because of Him. Of course the best way to learn something is to go to the master of that subject, so it is only logical to go to God to learn His truth. We do that by praying, spending time alone with Him, talking about and discussing Him with others, but mostly by reading the Bible which is His Word. The more time we spend in the Bible, not just reading, but studying, meditating and applying, the more we will learn and more like Him we will become. Waiting for God, in this context, does not mean sitting around until He shows up. The Hebrew word literally means to collect or bind together (by twisting). We need to bind ourselves to Him. We need to collect God, gather His truth and Word, and intertwine ourselves with Him. We need to become one. Then we will go where He leads and learn His truth. Seek God, bind yourself to Him.