2019-08-26 – Proverbs 27:17
Verse of the Day Devotion: Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.
Iron is a hard metal. If we have a dull iron knife and wish to sharpen it so that it becomes sharper and can be used for the purpose it was designed, trying to sharpen it using wood will not work. The knife would have an effect on the wood, but there would be no effect on the knife except possibly to dull it even more. Whatever you use to sharpen the knife, it must be at least as hard as the knife itself. And the same is true of the metaphorical meaning; those who are not as knowledgeable in the word, the dull, should be assisted by the more knowledgeable, the sharp.
This is why it is important for Christians to gather together and support each other. The writer of Hebrews is very clear on this subject. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25. We are called to come together regularly in order to encourage each other to stand firm in our faith. This was the practice of the early church. “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42. Note the wording “continually devoting themselves”. This was not a “once in a while” thing. Luke uses the word ‘continually’, and this should be our model as well.
Discipleship is a very necessary component in our Christian walk. As Christians, we are to teach everyone what the truth of this Christian walk is while being open to be taught as well. “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.” Titus 2:1. There is a lot of false teachings permeating our culture today. We see this in a lot of our churches. A big one is focusing on what we can get from God as opposed to what we can give to God. Another is that we cannot be perfect, so why try since all our sins are covered. We who know better need to be on the watch for heretical beliefs and counter them so they can know the truth and not be deceived by these wolves in sheep’s clothing
Too often, Christian fellowship is resigned to a couple hours on Sunday and another couple of hours on Wednesday. And much of it is for entertainment purposes rather than actual fellowshipping, encouragement, and discipleship. We have so many young Christians in our churches, and this is a primary group that needs sharpening, using the metaphor as stated in our focus verse. Discipleship does not have to be a scheduled event but could be just discussions among friends.
It is so important that we take every opportunity to sharpen each other in our Christian life. Let us discuss areas that we find difficult and help each other live it out in our daily lives. What better way is there to show how much we love God then to ensure we all are clear about the reality of this life? And what better way to show our brothers and sisters we love them by helping them clear up wrong beliefs or ambiguities that hold them back from a true understanding? And we need to show through the scriptures why what you believe is truth. And one more thing. If our Christian life is the most important thing, should this not be seen in the amount of time we spend talking and focusing on it?
2019-08-27 – Matthew 5:10
Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
At first glance, to say that the persecuted Christians are blessed looks a bit odd. In today’s mentality, to be blessed is too often seen as a current event. “Wow, I am so blessed having received that check.” Or, “What a blessing my family is together for a week.” Now, let me say that I am not implying these are not blessings, for they very well can be. What I am saying is that even though we are going through incredibly difficult times, we are blessed because we know God is with us through it all. And it is a great blessing that God never leaves us nor forsakes us.
Let’s look at the beatitudes, or the blessed found in Matthew. First of all, lets look at the meaning of the word. It is the Greek word ‘makarios’, pronounced mak-ar’-ee-os meaning ‘supremely blest or a state of supreme happiness’. When we look at these verses, we see something interesting, Jesus is saying, “blessed are the … “ present tense, “for theirs is the kingdom’ or “they shall” future tense. He is saying that they are blessed not because great things are happening now, but great things are promised to them. Note these phrases; ‘theirs is the kingdom of God’, ‘they SHALL be comforted’, ‘they SHALL inherit the earth’, ‘they SHALL be satisfied’, ‘they SHALL see God’, ‘they SHALL be called sons of God’, for your reward IN HEAVEN is great’.
Now, let’s look at the first part of our focus verse. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness”. The idea of this phrase is those who have been or are currently being persecuted because of the Christ-like life that is lived in sight of all others, with no compromise. Because of the light that you are, as stated in a later verse, “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. Jesus then goes deeper in the next two verses. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12. Jesus is linking what happened to the prophets in the old testament to those persecuted for Christ’s sake. After all, they were persecuted for their righteousness and devotion to God. And how are we blessed for our persecution? The Kingdom of Heaven is ours. We are assured our home will be with God. No matter what is done to us, if we stand strong and unrelenting, not giving an inch, we are blessed with a future eternal home with the one who died for us.
I want to encourage us all not to worry about what is happening to us now. If we are insulted, attacked, falsely accused of evil or persecuted in any way, we must not focus on what is happening now, but to know we are blessed because of it. We are not to provoke others to persecute us by violating the law or by our speech through purposefully antagonizing people. If we live our lives as we should, it will no doubt happen. And when it does, be strong and look to God for comfort. They may wonder how we can stand against the persecution we are enduring. It is because they have no idea just how blessed we truly are.
2019-08-28 – Isaiah 58:10
Verse of the Day Devotion: Isaiah 58:10 And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday.
This verse compels us to show compassion on those who are hungry and has nothing to eat. This is the example expressed in this verse however, I would say that any of the three needs found in Matthew 6 are to be included. “For this reason, I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25. In this verse, Jesus is telling His followers not to worry about food, drink and clothing. He will supply them for us. However, He often uses us to make it happen.
The idea here of giving yourself to the hungry is not simply to hand them food and then walk off. It is showing them compassion and letting them know you care. Often, this will be accepted more heartily than the food. Too many feels no one cares about them. We, as Christians, should show how much we care with both our words and our deeds. Take the time to comfort them while meeting their physical needs. And when we provide for those who have needs, our light will shine into their darkness. We can show the light of Christ into their darkness, and even their darkness will be as bright as the midday sun.
It is important to remember that mere words are not enough. James said that faith without works is dead. Look here at what he says, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled, and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” James 2:14-16 How does this meet their need? How does this show the love of Christ? It does not.
And when we do give to the needy, look what the writer of proverbs says, “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed.” Proverbs 19:17. You will be repaid in this life, or the life to come. Of course, this should not be the reason we do it, it should be totally out of love for God and people. God never asks anything of us that He is not willing to give us more for our willingness to sacrifice.
And one more thing. Remember the parable of the sheep and the goats. Here is how Jesus put it. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me. Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me. Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You? Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me. These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:34-46.
For all He has done for us, should we not meet the needs of those we come across? He says if we do, it will be as if doing it for Him.
2019-08-29 – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Verse of the Day Devotion: 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Paul here is helping us understand that when we become Christians, where we truly have given our lives to Him and it is not just words, then we are not the same person we were before. If we are truly in Christ, if we have died with Him and was risen with Him in newness of life, we are no longer the same person. Here is what Paul wrote to the church in Rome. “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” Romans 6:3-7 We who are saved have been baptized into His death, we died to sin and have been raised with Him as well. We are truly not who we were.
So, we are a new creation in Christ. And this means that we are not to look at ourselves as we were, but as we are. We need to put that old life behind us. Our sins having been forgiven; we have the Holy Spirit in us. We are no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit. Here is what Paul said. “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” Romans 8:9 True believers have the Spirit of Christ; therefore, our old life is gone. I am sure we want people to see us this way.
Therefore, we must see others in the same manner. We all know people who have been wild and done things that were not good. We also know people who have treated us wrong in our past. They may have mocked our belief in Christ as the son of God. However, it is important that we look at them as they are now and not how they were. Remember the golden rule. “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. “ Matthew 7:12. One of the ways we can exhibit this is found in the two verses just after the focus verse. “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19. This is a work of God. When we commit our lives to Christ and have become a new creation, He declares us righteous. Our dealings with Christians should be as dealing with a righteous person. There is training that needs to take place, however, all our dealing should be as what they are now, new creations.
All the things we know about someone’s past regarding sin must not be counted against them. We can admonish them, in love, to help them to become more like Christ. If they struggle with a sin, stand beside them and help them overcome. “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” Galatians 6:1.
What a beautiful show of love when we follow this as intended.
2019-08-30 – Romans 14:1
Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 14:1 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.
One thing I have learned in my many years of being a Christian and sharing the word is that there are some who find it hard to give up old beliefs that they have followed for many, many years. This is what Paul is referring to in this passage. Let us look at verse 2 as an example. “One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.”. Romans 14:2. What we see here is a difficulty in understanding that there are no such things as unclean foods within the Christian belief system that matches the Jewish Mosaic law. This does not mean that the belief either way is wrong. What it does show is that both are trying to do the right thing.
Paul addressed this well in verse 3. “The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.” Romans 14:3. As long as neither is sinful within the Christian framework, then there should be no arguing regarding doctrine. If you choose only to eat vegetables, then that is ok. If you choose to eat goat meat, then that is fine too. Neither side is sinning by their choice. The point Paul makes here is found a couple verses down. “He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.” Romans 14:6. If you are thanking God for the food and giving Him the honor and glory, then that is what counts. We are not to judge one another in these areas. But do not put a stumbling block in his way as well. In other words, do not do what another deems sinful in their presence.
This is done so that the ‘weaker’ person, the one who is not as learned in this walk, and has beliefs that they find difficult to give up, will not see you sinning, as he sees it, and condemn you either openly or in his mind. As he says starting in verse 16, “Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:16-17. For God approves and I believe delights in this behavior.
Therefore, when you come across someone who finds your actions as disobedience or sin, which in actuality is not in the Christian belief system, go ahead and abstain in his presence. “So, we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” Romans 14:19. Why have division and conflict when it can be easily averted? Is an action or behavior more important than unity of the brethren? I would say no.