Thursday, July 9, 2020

Devotions: The Right Kind of Friends


A man of too many friends comes to ruin,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

In the original Hebrew, the two words translated as “friend” are different. The first refers to an associate, companion or fellow. The second refers to a close friend. The original Hebrew also did not include “too many,” but the gist of the text is that if we are too close to or easily persuaded by those who are not closely connected with us, possibly someone worldly or of whose character we are not confident, we will come to ruin. If we place too much trust in a person that is not close to us we will be let down. Other translations suggest this refers to being too friendly with the world. It will lead us astray. But there is a friend, someone who loves us dearly, who will stick with us through everything and never leave our side. They will be a good influence and helps us in hard times. The ultimate “friend” we have like this is Jesus, none loves us more. No one will stick closer to us, and no one will be a better influence. If we are too close to the world or those we don’t know well, if we trust too much in those who are not loyal to us, we will come to harm. We need to find friends who are loyal, good influences and trustworthy. The greatest example is Jesus and we should have no friend closer. No matter who we are close to on earth, we should be closer to Jesus. He knows us better and is more trustworthy than any human could possibly be. Cultivate good friendships on earth, but especially cultivate your relationship with Christ. He is the truest friend you can have, and the closer you are to Him, the better a friend you will be to others.


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Translations of Greek and Hebrew words taken from blueletterbible.org

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Devotions: Rotten Words


Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The word unwholesome literally means rotten, putrid, corrupt. Think of serving food. In the same way it would be inappropriate (not to mention gross) to serve rotten food to a guest, it is inappropriate to allow “rotten” words to come from our mouths. Remember that what comes out our mouths is the product of what is in our hearts. So this is not just cautioning us to watch what we say, but also to pay attention to what is in our hearts. If our hearts are rotten and corrupt, then our words will be also. We should only speak words that are encouraging, which build others us and are appropriate. Sometimes, this requires a rebuke or correction, but it should be done with grace and kindness, not out of the rotten bitterness of our hearts. Politeness and good manners stem from the biblical idea that we should put others first and do what is best for them rather than ourselves. We need to focus on saying what is best for others, rather than saying what will make us look good or sound funny, even if it is true. The rottenness, unwholesomeness of our hearts is at its core selfishness and arrogance. It is thinking of self above others. Corruption begins with pride, and that does not do what is best for others. It is not concerned with edification or grace. Look to your heart. Is it focused on edification and grace, or is there rottenness and putrefaction creeping in? Ask God to cleanse any rottenness and corruption out of your heart. Ask Him to help you put others first so that what you do and say will build others up, rather than spread the rottenness of pride and selfishness.


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Translations of Greek and Hebrew words taken from blueletterbible.org

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Devotions: The Basis of Favor


Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
Proverbs 3:3-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Truth and kindness should be the basis of our interactions with others. It should be so fundamental and consistent that we could imagine it as being tied around our necks. Like a collar that is never taken off a dog, they should never leave us. They should be instinctive, engraved in our inner being. Why do we do this? To have favor and a good reputation with God and man. These are essential components of that. We cannot have a good reputation with God, or have His favor, without them because they are at the core of His being. God is kindness and truth. They are fruits of His Spirit. If we are His children we will display these attributes. The opposite of these attributes are meanness or cruelty and lying. Both of these are attributes of satan. That is why we cannot have favor or a good reputation without them. In order to be viewed as children of God we need to act like God, and that comes from what is written on our hearts. We need to focus on being like God, on having His heart. That happens by abiding in Him, by having our heart and mind set on Him, by being open to His leading, direction and change. If we do that, if we are immersed in Him, then we will act like Him. What entertains your thoughts? What are you immersed in?


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Translations of Greek and Hebrew words taken from blueletterbible.org

Monday, July 6, 2020

Fully Surrendered


Surrender is generally seen as a bad thing, giving up or quitting even more so. We are taught to stick with it, see it through, tough it out, or else. It is seen as weakness. Even the idea of surrendering to God is taboo. We need to be our own person, controlled by no one, dependent on no one. How do we reconcile that with being called to submit and even surrender to God?

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Devotions: The Light of the World


For You are my lamp, O Lord;
And the Lord illumines my darkness.
2 Samuel 22:29 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

This chapter is a song of praise to God for His deliverance. It was likely written after the situation David described in yesterday’s verses. Many of the elements and lines of this song can be found in various psalms, but I want to focus on this one. When David cried out to God asking for deliverance, he was hiding in a cave, fearing for his life, unjustly accused and hunted. It was a very dark time for him, literally and figuratively. But he recognized that God was the light of his life, even if he was dwelling in darkness. This world is dark. So many of the things happening right now cast so much darkness over us because of the one who rules this world. satan is the prince of this world and of darkness. He brings darkness over us through sin. It is only through the light of God’s truth that we can see through the darkness. That is why the world hates God, because His light shows the sin and wrongness of what they are living in. Without His light, they can hide in the darkness and their sin doesn’t look so bad. The only way that we can see where to go, how to live, or find the truth of what is going on is with the light of God. His Word and truth shines a light on our lives and our world so that we can see clearly, but we have to have His word and Spirit in our hearts to see by it. Do you live in the word so that it can light your path? Does the Spirit live in your heart to illumine your life? Seek His word and truth. Ask His Spirit to live in your heart to light your way. Trust in His truth.


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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Devotions: Where to Turn


I cried out to You, O Lord;
I said, “You are my refuge,
My portion in the land of the living…
Bring my soul out of prison,
So that I may give thanks to Your name;
The righteous will surround me,
For You will deal bountifully with me.”
Psalm 142:5,7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Where do you go in time of trouble? To whom do you turn? Our first thought, our first cry for help should be to God. He should not be our last resort. He is in control of everything. He is all powerful and all knowing. Why would we not turn to Him? The word for portion literally means territory. He is our home, our safe place, our inheritance. We should go to Him with everything, immediately. He should not be our crutch, but our life support. Going to Him should be a regular thing; it should be instinctive for us. Have you ever felt like your soul was imprisoned? Maybe by fear, doubt, worry, bitterness? Only God can deliver us from that imprisonment. It is through Him and His truth that we find true freedom. Our desire in our release should not only be for our own satisfaction, but also to glorify God. David knew that God can work everything out for our good and His glory. His greatest desire was to honor God in everything, by life or death. David was anticipating another reason to be thankful. As a result, those who love God would join him in praising God, in rejoicing over God’s redemption and salvation. They will recognize God’s blessings and provision, which will cause them to praise God for His love for us. Is your soul imprisoned? Are you weighed down with the heavy issues in our society? Turn to God, your portion and refuge. Seek His deliverance and look for ways to praise Him for His blessings.




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Translations of Greek and Hebrew words taken from blueletterbible.org

Devotions: God's Delight


The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior.  He will exult over you with joy.  He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
Zephaniah 3:17
~

God is with you. He has not, and will not, forsake you. He will always be near you. He has conquered death and Satan and has the power to protect you. You are a delight to Him, so much so that He is joyful because of you. You make Him so glad that He sings songs of joy. He rests in that quiet ecstasy of complete satisfaction over you. In you is His delight. You make Him so happy that He can’t help Himself, but shouts His love for you to the entire world. Believe it and bask in His love.


This is an excerpt from my devotional Hope In Suffering.


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Monday, June 29, 2020

Draw a Line


So often we are told to be tolerant and accepting. We just need to love people. Above all, we should avoid offending anyone, even at the cost of our core beliefs. Is that biblical? How do we tell the difference between love and compromise? Where do we draw the line?

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Devotions: The Fiery Ordeal


Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
1 Peter 4:12-13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Greek word for “ordeal” literally means burning or refining. The word for testing means trials, temptations, difficulties, etc. As gold is refined through fire and crucibles, so we are refined through the suffering we experience. Whether it is some hardship like job loss or illness, or the test of temptation which will grow us if we resist, we should not be surprised that we are experiencing it. Jesus suffered every trial and temptation that we experience in some way. When we share in His sufferings (meaning when we suffer for His sake, either being persecuted for our faith, or enduring hardship in a godly way and resisting temptation), the Bible says we are blessed. We are counted worthy to suffer for Him and as He did. At the end of time, we will be rewarded for our endurance and perseverance when our faith is proven, we will have reason to rejoice in our suffering because of the growth it caused in us and because it was an opportunity to glorify God. The trick to growth and glory is that in our suffering we have to submit to God and surrender our lives to Him. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we have to accept it as part of God’s will and trust His plan that it will work out for our good and His glory. It is important that we have a good attitude about it. That does not mean that we are always happy and pretend like it’s ok, but we should not complain, whine, or stay in the pond of self pity. That is the whole point of the “ordeal”, in order for refining to have its perfect work, we have to submit to its work and have a godly attitude. So how are you being refined? What testing are you facing? How can you have a godly attitude in what you are dealing with?



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Translations of Greek and Hebrew words taken from blueletterbible.org

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Devotions: Finally Adopted!


For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
Romans 8:15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

When we give our lives to Christ, when we admit our sin is wrong, ask Him to forgive us and commit to live for Him, we are given His Spirit. God exists in 3 persons or parts (think of an egg having 3 parts; shell, yolk and white); the Father, the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us, to help us grow and live like God. However, that Spirit is not one of fear and slavery. It is one of adoption. We start life as enemies of God, eternally separated from Him because of our sin. Jesus died, paying the debt for our sin, so that we could be forgiven. When we accept His sacrifice we are no longer enemies, but adopted children of God. I grew up on a ranch, and one way we would get a cow to “adopt” an orphan when her calf dies is by tying the hide of the dead calf on the orphan. When the mother sniffs the calf she smells her baby and accepts it. In the same way, when we accept Jesus’ sacrifice we are covered (figuratively or spiritually) by His blood which paid for our debt so that when God looks at us He sees His perfect Son and accepts us as His children. That is the Good News of the Gospel! We are no longer slaves to sin, fear or anything else! Let us live as children of God and not enemies of God or children of slavery!



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