2019-07-22 – Luke 9:35
Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 9:35 Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!”
This passage is found at the end of what is called the transfiguration. Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him up onto a mountain to pray. While Jesus was praying, it says that something changed with Him. He was transfigured. “And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming.” Luke 9-29. Matthew gives us a more detailed description of the change in Jesus. “And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.” Matthew 17:2. And with Him stood two other men, also appearing in glory, Elijah and Moses.
After a time, the voice of God the Father came from out of the clouds saying, ‘Listen to my Son, the chosen one.’ This is key. As the disciples were told to listen to Jesus, we are to as well. Too often we only listen to pastors and teachers when it comes to theological issues, and just accept what they say. This is where heretical teachings and practices arise. The question we should ask is, ‘Does what they are saying line up with the Word of God?’ If it does, then accept it and follow it. If it does not, then reject it.
Paul spoke of the Bereans in Acts 17, and this should be our mindset. “Now these (Jews from Berea) were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Acts 17:11. They did not take what Paul said without checking it out first. We also should not accept what someone tells us, even if they are greatly credentialed, without checking it out ourselves. There are some things that are obvious, however, if you have not heard it before or are questioning the accuracy of the interpretation, look it up. And while checking it out, pray that God will reveal the truth to you. Let Christ be the one who validates what men say.
Now this does require discipline. We must be willing and desirous of knowing the reality of what is being said. Let Him show you the truth. He will never lead you astray and will always guide you, through His Spirit, into all truth. And is not the truth what we are striving for?
2019-07-23 – Matthew 5:12
Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 5:12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
You have probably seen the news showing how Christians are becoming more and more persecuted throughout the world. In China, Christians are put into re-education camps in order to get them to renounce their beliefs and accept the government as their leaders. In middle eastern and African Muslim nations, Christians are being killed for their faith. You either convert or die.
These are extreme examples, but the persecution of Christians is on the rise here in the United States. It has not yet reached the level of other places, but it is just a matter of time. There are already cases where Christians face persecution because they will not accept the evil beliefs that those in power are forcing on us. In some places, it is becoming illegal to pray to the true God, but acceptable to pray to false ones. It is amazing to me that it is OK to glorify and worship any God, as long as it is not the Christian’s God.
We are seeing only the beginning of what is coming. I know this part is difficult to think about, however, hear what Jesus said. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” Matthew 5:11. What He is saying is we are to stand strong when we are persecuted. When they persecute and lie about us, saying all kinds of evil against us, we are to rejoice and be blessed. Why? As the focus verse says, our reward will be great in Heaven. For this is exactly what happened to the prophets of old. We are not to back down or compromise, because we know we are the ones who will overcome.
So, when you are ridiculed, cursed at and treated badly on account of your belief in Jesus Christ, stand tall and proud. God is with you and will help you through the situation. And He will reward us beyond anything we could ever imagine. And that makes it all worth it.
2019-07-24 – Psalm 8:4-5
Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 8:4-5 What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!
I am sure that most Christians have heard this verse at least once. This is believed by most scholars to have been written by King David. He is kneeling in humility before God and asking the questions in this verse.
First, let us look at what caused him to pray this prayer. “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained;” Psalm 8:3. David has looked up into the heavens, sees the moon and the uncountable multitude of stars, and He attributes them to God. He does not see this as a universe that either, naturally came out of nothing, or as an infinite universe that has no beginning. (If you would like information regarding the universe coming into existence without God, do not hesitate to email me at [email protected].)
Because of David’s awe of God’s amazing creation, he asked the question of why we are so important to God that He cares for us. For you made Him a little lower than God. The Hebrew for God here is “Elohim”, which is the plural for El, which is God and refers to a triune being, not many gods. I see this as us being created in His image. For God said “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” Genesis 1:26 We rule down here over all living things and have authority over them. Compare with verse 6, “You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,” Psalm 8:6. Therefore, we were made in His image and given authority.
Do we look up into the heavens and gaze in awe of God and His creation? Do we come before Him in humility knowing how much lower we are, especially because of our rebellion? Are we humbled by the fact that God sent His very Son who “…humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” for our sake? Philippians 2:8b I sometimes look at myself and wonder why He cares about me. Then I remember His love and grace. And that says everything.
2019-07-25 – Romans 2:13
Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 2:13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.
Paul is writing to the Romans here, which have many Jews who believed they were saved by their adherence to the Mosaic Law. Their belief is that if they are perfect in keeping the law, and this includes the sacrifices of such as the sin offering, then you are in good standing with God. If they gave great deference to the Law, if they hear it read with attention and professed with their mouths a great desire and willingness to yield to it in obedience, they were the ones who were the saved.
We have many today who believe the same thing, and they think of themselves as Christians. Many believe that if we hear or read the Bible and go to church occasionally, if we sing the words of a song without doing it in worship and praise to God, if we say a short and/or memorized prayer where the words are secondary to the action itself, then how different are we from the Jews who believed that as long as they heard the Law and performed the rituals they were good.
I am definitely not perfect here, however, when I detect this in myself, I immediately ask God to forgive me and I focus on what I am there for; reading His Word, singing as worship, praying in humility, or any other action in my service and adoration of God. We must come to the point where we realize it is not the words we say or the empty actions we perform, but the heart and sincerity by which we do and say these things. Jesus said the following, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37. This was said in answer to the question of which is the greatest commandment in the Law?
Jesus’ words bring additional clarity to our focus verse. The greatest commandment in the Law is to love God with everything we have. And that means whatever we do, whether it be reading or listening to the scriptures, praying to Him, taking communion or whatever else we are doing, ensure we are doing it with our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole mind, and our whole strength. If we do not, then we are mere hearers of the law who are simply going through the motions.
2019-07-26 – 1 Kings 8:61
Verse of the Day Devotion: 1Kings 8:61 “Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”
1 Kings 8 gives the account of the ark of the covenant being placed into the temple which had just been completed. He offered a prayer to the Lord asking that any requests given earnestly and humbly by Israelites or strangers would be accepted by God. At the end of this prayer, Solomon asks for His blessing over the people of Israel plus an exhortation for them as well. This exhortation is the focus of our verse today, which is as much for us today as for the Israelites back then.
The first part says that our hearts should be wholly true to God. Our love for Him should be unquestionable to all who see us. We should desire with all our hearts to please Him, serve Him, and take time to fellowship with Him in prayer. Our love and devotion should be unwavering, never lessening no matter our circumstances. God said He would never leave or forsake us, showing His love is unwavering, therefore ours should be as well.
Second, we should walk in His statutes, always striving to keep His commandments. Our obedience should be universal in that we obey all of them, and not just those we choose to. With this, I say that His desires take infinite precedence over our own. All that we do or think should follow the idea that He is supreme, and I am not. Thus, we should not be divided in our loyalties. We should be totally upright in our ways and submissive to His commands.
Jesus takes these two points in Solomon’s prayer and merges them into one concise statement. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15. As always with Jesus, His position on this could not be clearer.