Thursday, July 18, 2019

Devotions: Purpose for Good Works

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

This verse is part of the Sermon on the Mount, immediately following the verses which talk about being salt and light to the world. Just after Jesus tells us to be light to the world and to let our light shine for all to see, He gives a specific command about how to shine. We shine by doing good works, but our purpose in that should be to glorify God, not to receive praise for ourselves. That light which we shine is God’s light in us, so if we take credit for the good works others see in us, we are stealing God’s glory. We need to do good and help others, not for our own praise, and not even just for them, but to glorify God, so that others will glorify God. If there is any amount of arrogance or selfishness in what we do, others will see us in it and not God. We need to be genuine and sincere in what we do, and do it out of love for God first, and others second. We need to desire to honor God in everything we do. If that is our heart’s greatest desire, everything we do will shine for Him. What is in our hearts always reveals itself in our actions. We need to make sure that our hearts are right first. Then our actions will follow suit. Where is your heart? Is it your desire for God to be glorified through your actions?

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Devotions: Created to Work

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

We are created by God and for God. We are not separate individuals, self-sustaining and independent who can do as we wish apart from any else. We were created by God for a specific purpose which was ordained by God before the beginning of time. The catch here is that we have to choose to walk in them. He won’t make us, nor will it happen by accident. We have to be intentional about what we do, about being in the will of God and doing what He wants us to do. We can’t just do whatever we want and expect God’s blessing to fall on it. We have to seek Him and what He wants. We all have a purpose, a good purpose, to do good things, but we have to choose to do them. We have to seek God and His will, choosing to follow His lead and surrendering our lives to what He wants while giving up what we want. God made us and saved us for His good purpose. Will you choose to live out God’s purpose for your life by doing the good works He prepared for you, or will you choose to live life the way you want to?

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Devotions: Fruitful Practice

Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.
Titus 3:14 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

There are certain things which should be a part of every Christian’s life, but many don’t know or realize that they should. Working to meet the urgent needs of others is one that sounds like it should be a given, but apparently it wasn’t. The church Titus led needed guidance or at least a reminder to help visiting missionaries, but also those in the community. In those days especially, when Christians were often ostracized, hospitality and charity to fellow believers was essential. It may have made the difference between a family surviving or not. Yet, it was not something that came naturally any more then than it does now. By nature, we tend to look to our own needs first, so we need training and reminding to “learn” to occupy ourselves with the needs of others. We need to be engaged in the lives of others enough that we know when they need what. Then we need to give it. When this says that they need to do this in order to be fruitful, it does not mean productive in a working sense, but producing good fruit showing their true hearts, the fruit of the Spirit. Hospitality and generosity fall under those fruits, if we are not practicing them, we may be hindering the Spirit’s work in our hearts. Are you allowing the Spirit to work in your life? Allow it to lead you to engage with and help those around you.

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Monday, July 15, 2019

The Sky is Falling!

There is a lot of hype about taking care of the earth because it is headed for destruction and life as we know it will end in 20 years if we don’t stop using oil, etc. The two options seem to be to stop using the earth’s resources entirely, or be the cause of the world coming to an end in the next decade. And while the idea of being good stewards of our resources is worth taking into consideration, there is a much deeper, more serious issue that everyone is failing to see.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Devotions: Rightly Proved

Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
James 2:17 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Our faith, the product and also cause of our salvation, isn’t enough in and of itself. That faith must produce something, it must be fruitful. The works or fruit do not bring salvation; otherwise there would be no need for faith. Instead, they are proof of salvation. See, when we are saved, truly saved, the Holy Spirit begins a work in us called sanctification which is the process by which we are made holy and perfect. That process is not completed until we reach heaven, but we grow closer to that goal every day, and it is evidence that the Spirit is in us and we are “in” Christ. If there is no fruit or growth, no evidence of the Spirit being in us, what proof do we have of being saved? That is why Peter and Paul both tell us to work hard to prove our salvation, both for ourselves and for others. We need evidence of being “in” Christ, for our own assurance and for our witness to others. Believing isn’t enough by itself, we must submit our lives to Christ in obedience to His word to be “in” Him. That will in turn produce fruit, the fruit of the Spirit. Do you have proof that you are “in” Christ?

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Devotions: Rightly Justified

Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
Psalm 19:12-13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

This psalm talks about the works and words of God, of His wonderful, glorious deeds and creations, and His perfect commands. His Word is perfect, pure, flawless, righteous, enlightening, desirous, and more precious than gold. Yet, because of God’s perfect word and commands we are made aware of our faults. It is only through the Law that we realize we truly are sinners and unworthy of salvation or forgiveness. That is why the psalmist begs God to forgive the things he does in secret, and to keep him from falling into defiant or willful sin. If we willingly, knowingly turn to sin it will set a hook in us that we cannot easily remove and it will control us. David is not claiming that he can be perfect by saying he will be blameless, but that he will remain “in Christ” and therefore justified, covered by Christ’s righteousness. When we turn to sin, willingly and without repentance, then we are turning away from Christ and His salvation and may eventually reject Him completely. David knew that the key to salvation and grace was maintaining a relationship with God, keeping his heart open to God, repenting when he sinned and determining to start over. It is when we don’t do those things that we fall away from God and “out” of Christ. How do you feel about your sin? Do you hide it? Do you justify it? Or do you abhor it and beg God to forgive you and help you start over?

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Devotions: Rightly Condemned

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

This is one of the most powerful verses in the Bible, when rightly understood. This means that we will not be condemned to hell even though we will sin. The catch is that this only applies to those who are “in” Christ, those who have His Spirit dwelling in them, those who live according to the ways of Christ and His words. Many mistakenly think that if they say they believe and go to church then they can live however they want, but that is misunderstanding grace and salvation. Salvation requires repentance, which means to turn away from sin and submit to Christ. Grace is the good gifts God gives, none of which we deserve, namely salvation, but if we act as if we can do whatever we want then we are trampling the sacrifice of Christ in the mud and treating it as if it didn’t matter. Jesus did not die to free us from obedience but to free us from sin. If we willingly, continually return to that sin without repentance then His sacrifice for us is nullified and we will be condemned because we are not in Christ. Are you in Christ? Do you desire and strive to live according to His word out of love for Him? If yes, then you are and will not be condemned. If you are not in Christ, what needs to change? Is your life of sin worth condemnation?

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Monday, July 8, 2019

Wrath Vs. Mercy

In our church and culture today, God’s love is the main point of focus. Sermons like “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” are frowned upon, and the idea that God is displeased, let alone upset, by anything is taboo. The idea of God’s wrath is being taken out of doctrine and hymn alike. Is that biblical? Is there danger in straying so far to one side?

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Devotions: A Blessed Nation

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.
Psalm 33:12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

This was a psalm of Israel, and spoke directly to the blessings Israel experienced when it was wholly devoted to God alone. Now, this does not apply to a specific nation for our citizenship is spiritual, not physical. The people God has chosen are those who believe in Him and submit to His governance. Those people are blessed (joyful/peaceful as a result of being right with God) because they are right with God, because they have chosen Him above all else and are wholly devoted to Him. The internal misery we experience is a result of turning to something/someone besides God. He has chosen us for His inheritance, we should follow suit and choose Him for our every need. Just as the nation of Israel physically experienced peace when they followed God’s ways and oppression when they didn’t, so we will experience the same spiritually. That being said, any nation which chooses to be founded on the principles of God and to follow His ways will experience blessing, but they will experience downfall and oppression when it turns away from that. As Christians, we need to be sure that we ourselves are wholly devoted to the one true King, forsaking all others as first in our hearts, but we should also pray for our country, that it would turn to the truth and be changed and upheld by His truth so as not to experience His wrath.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Devotions: Freedom In Obedience

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
2 Corinthians 3:17 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

This passage is specifically comparing the difference between salvation by works and salvation by faith. In the previous verses, Paul talks about how Moses had open communion with God, but the rest of the Israelites did not. His face shone with the glory of God, but he wore a veil so that it would not offend or frighten the people. Paul says we are not to be that way, but rather we should speak the truth in boldness. The veil Moses wore is a metaphor for the veil that is over the hearts of those who obey the Law, but do not believe in Christ. The Law has blinded them to the freedom of truth, but when a person gives their life to Christ that veil is lifted and they are freed from ignorance and blindness. That hardness of heart keeps them bound and blind so that they cannot see the things of God, but with the Spirit of God there is freedom! Even as believers we can fall into times of blindness, where we are veiled by our own sin and rebellion, when the truth is prevented from transforming our hearts. We need to keep the door to the Spirit open so that we can remain free in the truth. We need to avoid things that will “grieve the Spirit”. What in your life is preventing you from being transformed by the truth? What is hindering your freedom in the Spirit?

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