2019-10-07 – Acts 4:12
Verse of the Day Devotion: Act 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour which was the hour of prayer. A man who had been lame from birth was sitting at the temple gate called “Beautiful” begging for financial assistance. Upon seeing Peter and John, he requested financial help from them. Then Peter and John looked at him and Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” Acts 3:6. Peter then helped him up and immediately his feet and ankles were strengthened, and he began to walk. Many people saw this man walking and praising God, knowing that this was the man crippled and begging everyday at the Beautiful Gate.
Now, Peter and John began teaching the people about Christ. “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” Acts 3:17-19. They are calling the leadership to return to true worship and adoration of the true God, not the one they were serving. Note: There were around 5000 men who believed their word when the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came to have them arrested.
The next day, John and Peter were taken before the rulers, elders and scribes where they were asked by what power they healed this man. Peter then, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered by saying that it was Jesus the Nazarene, whom they crucified and whom God raised from the dead; by His name this man has been healed and is standing before them. He added then, “He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone.” Acts 4:11. And then they declared, by our focus verse, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.
The word ‘salvation’ properly denotes any preservation or the keeping of anything in a “safe” state; a preserving from harm. Also, it denotes deliverance of body or mind of the same; sickness, pain, danger, etc. In the New Testament, it is normally applied to the Messiah, Christ, and what He came to do. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10. Mankind cannot, in and of themselves, become found. We were separated from God and did not have the access Adam and Eve had prior to their sin.
What Peter was saying to the leadership was they did not have the power to provide this salvation. Their adherence to the law and its rules and works could not provide what mankind needed. There is only one name by which man can be saved, that being Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. And these words pertain to us today as they did to those in the first century. It is Christ alone, not through any other man or woman, prophet, idol or false god, teacher, leader or any false Christ. Salvation has its origin in God, and the Savior He gave us, and cannot be originated by any power among people.
This word must be preached to all people, letting them know that Christ is the only answer to all our issues; physical, moral or spiritual. Salvation from all these areas are only available by the Creator of all things. Sin caused separation from God, sickness, pain, danger and all things that we suffer today. And the Messiah, Christ is the only source of salvation from all these areas. Our job is to go out and evangelize the world. “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.” Luke 14:23. Many are deluded that salvation comes from many sources, religions, works, etc. It is our job to compel the world to come to God’s house through the only door possible, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and the acceptance of this work. And we must not cave and give in to the arguments of those who question or debate us. The answer is clear and immutable. Stand strong and spread this good news to all we come in contact with. In so doing, we will fill His house, thus pleasing Him and also help those who need and want salvation, receive it. This is love, both of God and our fellow man.
2019-10-08 – Romans 1:16
Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Paul is a man who gave up everything for Christ. And in his day, he was probably one of the least expected to do so. He was a zealous Jew, who knew all the law and the components that came with it in regard to strict adherence to it. Before he committed himself to the work of Christ, his name was Saul from the city of Tarsus. Paul was a disciple of Gamaliel, a Jewish rabbi in the first century and a leader in the Jewish Sanhedrin, of which Paul would eventually become a member. Gamaliel was well respected, being a grandson of the famous Rabbi Hillel who wrote a commentary on the Torah; the first five books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. This relationship with Gamaliel no doubt provided Saul much solid teaching of Jewish law and beliefs. We see Him first at the stoning of Stephen for his supposed heretical belief in Jesus as the promised Messiah, where he held the robes of those throwing the stones and thereby approving of Stephen’s execution. He was on his way to arrest many more Christians in order to rid the world of this cult when Christ made Himself visible to Saul who then realized all he had done was wrong and offered himself totally to the work of Christ.
Because of this Saul, who I will now refer to as Paul, was cast aside by the Jews as an apostate. And by the wise of the Gentiles, “when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.” 1 Corinthians 4:13. However, even though he was considered worthless to the Gentile leadership and the Jewish nation, where before he was regarded with much applause by both, he was not ashamed. “according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” Philippians 1:20. Hope in this context refers to that which is expected with assurance and conviction. It is not something wished for. What Paul is saying is that no matter what befalls him, he will, with boldness and a steadfast strength, not in any way deny the truth of the gospel or water it down; even before emperors or kings, Jewish or Gentile leadership. He will never compromise even in the least. Christ will be magnified and declared the only way of salvation. What drives him forward in this boldness? The fact that the gospel is the power of God for the salvation to everyone who believes, both to the Jews and the Gentiles.
This should be what drives us as well. The truth of the gospel is the most important message ever given to mankind. It shows the only way of salvation. It is absolute truth and we should not be ashamed of this message but should be ready and anxious to declare it to a lost world. Just as Paul lived a life totally contrary to this truth prior to his conversion, we also lived a life contrary to the truth prior to our conversion. And the life we live now is infinitely greater than before. We should never be ashamed of the gospel. The word “ashamed” has the idea of, in the past tense, embarrassed or guilty of one’s actions, characteristics, or associations. And in the present tense, reluctant to do something through fear of embarrassment or humiliation. Are we reluctant to share the truth in certain situations? Have we been ridiculed and become ashamed of a time where we shared the truth? We all need to examine ourselves and see where we are regarding this. To share God’s truth with boldness should be seen as a great privilege because this is our calling from the infinite God who exists and is there with us.
In closing, let us remember the words of Peter, where he wrote, “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. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.” 1 Peter 4:12-16. Whatever we suffer in this life for the cause of Christ will glorify God and will be a source of rejoicing when He returns. We must not focus on its effect on us, but how it glorifies God and how we will rejoice in the end.
However, I cannot end without these words of Jesus, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38. No need to comment on this one, it pretty much speaks for itself.
2019-10-09 – Psalm 95:6
Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 95:6 Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
This psalm was written by David as an invitation to praise and worship the Lord our God. David is encouraging God’s people to come before the Lord and give Him what is due Him.
Praise and worship are not necessarily the same thing. They are both focusing on God; who He is and what He has done. However, praise is a joyful thankfulness of all God has done for us, where worship is an acknowledgement of who God is in relation to who we are. Another way of expressing this is, “where praise is focused on thankfulness, worship is focused on surrender.” Chapter 95 of Psalms is a call to both; therefore, we shall examine both in the context of David’s call in this chapter.
First, we are called to sing for joy to the Lord. “O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.” Psalm 95:1-2. This is a wonderful portrayal of praise. Coming before Him, singing and shouting out our thankfulness to the one who provides everything. We see this idea throughout the bible. “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” Psalm 107:1. “Praise the LORD in song, for He has done excellent things; Let this be known throughout the earth. Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 12:5-6. “Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name.” 1 Chronicles 29:13. And finally, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16. How can we not thank Him; how can we not shout out for joy for His many gifts and benefits; how can we not rejoice for all He has done for us, including the sacrifice of His Son on the cross? Praise and thanksgiving should always be given to Him for all things.
Then we are called to worship Him. We see this in our focus verse, “Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” Psalm 95:6. We are told to bow down to Him in humility, surrendering ourselves to Him in homage and reverence. He created everything that is. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 and “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:1-3. He created everything that is, and that lives and moves upon the earth. And He is infinitely greater and higher than we are. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9. There is no comparison because the distance between finite and infinite is insurmountable.
Because of the above, we are to humble ourselves before our God, Lord and Maker in worship. We are to bow down before Him in surrender to Him, acknowledging our love, reverence and devotion to Him. The idea of bowing down in this verse in the time of David was by prostrating before Him, meaning lying flat on the ground face down. Whichever way we go before Him, be it lying face down on the ground, bowing or kneeling before Him, the idea is adoration, reverence and surrender. Our mind should be focused entirely on Him, emptying our thoughts of everything but Him and our deep love and adoration for our glorious Lord and Savior. We should forget about ourselves and our situations. This should be a very intimate time with Him, where we can realign our priorities with His and spend time in not only speaking to and uplifting Him but hearing what He has to say and making a commitment to obeying and following His words. It should be a time where we acknowledge and declare again that He is our Lord and no-one else, including ourselves.
Praise and worship come from our hearts, expressing our devotion to Him. The outward motions are not what He is looking at, but the deep feelings in the innermost depths of our being. God sees our hearts and recognizes our sincerity or our hypocrisy. How do we develop a sincere relationship with God? “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8. We must focus on drawing near to Him, cleansing our hearts and minds of those things that are not glorifying to Him and replacing them with those things that please and honor Him. And when we do this, He will draw near to us and we can have a relationship that will go beyond anything we could ever imagine.
I encourage everyone here to spend concerted time praising and worshipping are great and loving God. He is worthy of all we can give Him and more. I believe if we can spend more quality time with Him, thanking and glorifying Him as he deserves, it will cause us to grow in our walk with Him and we will find ourselves more content in every part of our life. That is my desire for sure.
2019-10-10 – Deuteronomy 18:15
Verse of the Day Devotion: Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.
These words that Moses spoke to the people were prophetic words from God referring to a future prophet that would come out of Israel. Notice the wording, “The Lord will raise up for you a prophet like ME”. Many at that time believed that Moses must have been referring to Joshua who would be the one to lead the people into the promised land. However, there are some intriguing words spoken by Jesus and the apostles that show who this prophet like Moses really was.
For instance, when Peter was witnessing to the Jews in Solomon’s Portico, he said, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.” Acts 3:23. He is telling the listeners to repent and return to the true faith, so that when the end comes and Jesus returns, they will experience a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. And if they do not return, they will see destruction rather than refreshing. Note also that Jesus is referred to as the Christ about whom God spoke of through His prophets, particularly Moses.
Stephen as he was speaking to men from the Synagogue, referring to the same verse in Deuteronomy, shows that Moses was referring to Christ in a later verse, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.” Acts 7:51-53. The righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers they had become.
There are various verses in the gospels referring to “The Prophet”, using the definite article rather than the indefinite. This no doubt refers to this prophet declared to be like Moses. In the first chapter of John, we see Jewish priests and Levites from Jerusalem going up to John the Baptist to confer with Him regarding the coming Messiah and to question all that he was doing. “This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” John 1:19-20. He knew what they were suspecting him to say, so he states emphatically that he is not the Messiah. Continuing, “They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?’ He said, ‘I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.’” John 1:21-23. Note the question “Are you THE prophet?” John, referring to the words of Isaiah, answers them saying, “A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3. He declared he is that voice declaring the coming of THE Prophet, not the Prophet Himself.
There are many references in the Old Testament, also known as the Jewish Scriptures, that point to the coming Messiah. For instance, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6. And “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14. And lastly, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:15. And there are countless others as well. I know we are several months from celebrating Christmas; however, this is the most important event in all of time and space; so important that it is found throughout all of the Old Testament. Without this coming Messiah, there would be no salvation, no reconciliation with God, and no justification, declaring us righteous. It was so important that most of the prophets declared His coming, like Moses and Isaiah, Micah and Jeremiah. The Jewish leadership refused to see Jesus as “The Prophet” because their presuppositions clouded their minds and they refused to accept what was so prevalent in their scriptures.
I encourage us all to remove any presuppositions that prevent us from seeing the truth of the scriptures, not just where it comes to our Lord and Savior Jesus the Messiah, but in other areas as well. Who knows what we could understand in greater ways if we did. Things would definitely come into greater focus.
2019-10-11 – Matthew 5:17
Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.
Jesus is here at the beginning of His ministry. He has been baptized by John the Baptist, went through the temptations from the devil and now is teaching to a crowd on the mountain. As we read the account of the sermon on the mount, it is important to remember that Jesus came for the Jews, the chosen people. “Jesus went away from there and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.’ But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, ‘Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.’ But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:21-24. Note that He did cast out the demon because of her great faith. (See Matthew 15:28) This is, of course not to say He came only to save the Jews. He would go out to the gentiles through Saul of Tarsus. “But the Lord said to him (Saul), “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;” Acts 9:15.
Because He came to the Jews, it was important that they knew He would follow the Law. But their reason to follow it was different than His. In Exodus we see why the Jews followed the Law. “‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;” Exodus 19:4-5. It was to have a special relationship with Him that was unending; their salvation. However, salvation requires perfection which the Law could not address.
They did not fully understand this. Their following the Law could not bring them perfection. For this reason, the Messiah came. “For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” Hebrews 7:18-19. The Law was set aside because it could not bring perfection, the better hope mentioned here was capable, which was Jesus. “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.” Galatians 3:19. Until the seed would come. And who is the seed? “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.” Galatians 3:16.
So, we see here that the Law was in place, as weak and useless as it was, until Christ came. The purpose of the Law was to show our need for salvation, not for salvation itself. “because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20. The word ‘justified’ means to be declared righteous, therefore we cannot be declared righteous by the works of the Law. Our sins must be removed, and the penalty must by paid. And when the penalty is paid, the sin is not held against us, thus we are justified. If Jesus had sinned, what He did would have paid the penalty for His transgressions, not ours. But because He was blameless, His death paid for our sins. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.
So, wrapping this up, We could not keep the Law perfectly, therefore we could not be saved by works. Without perfection, we could by no means pay the penalty and be justified. This required a perfect sacrifice. Jesus came and lived a life free from sin by perfectly following the law. Thus, because there was no penalty to pay for His own benefit, He was able to pay the penalty for ours. But it took fulfilling the Law completely with absolutely no transgression. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” James 2:10. He fulfilled the Law so that we could be declared righteous and become children of God. So, is the Law important? Yes, for Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15. However, it is to express our love for God, not to be saved, therefore, let us show our love for Him in all things we do.