2019-10-14 – Acts 5:29
Verse of the Day Devotion: Acts 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.
Peter and John were arrested for teaching about Christ as well as the miracle healing of the man lame from birth to the crowds in Solomon’s Portico. They were eventually released; however, they were ordered by the Jewish leadership not to speak of Christ or the healing of this man anymore. But they did not heed their demand. “And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. Also, the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.” Acts 5:14-16.
This did not set well with the High Priest for it went against their firm warning. “But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail.” Acts 5:17-18. However, that night an angel of the Lord set them free and said to them, “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” Acts 5:20. Now, the High Priest ordered the prisoners brought to the council, but the guards could not find them. Then someone came and reported to the council that the two men they had jailed the previous night were in the temple teaching the people about Christ.
When they arrived and were standing before the council, the High Priest questioned them saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” Acts 5:28. However, Peter and the apostles answered with our focus verse, “We must obey God rather than men.“ Acts 5:29.
Francis Schaeffer in his book “A Christian Manifesto” stated, “The bottom line is that at a certain point there is not only the right, but the duty, to disobey the state.” This comes only when what the state commands by way of law is contrary to God’s Law. It is important that obeying God comes before obeying the government. I want to clarify something though. If what the state commands by law does not disobey God, then we are obligated to follow it. It is only when, for example they legislate that all doctors must perform abortions when desired by the patient, that we must disobey because taking a human life is against God’s laws.
We must be ready, as Peter and John were, to do what is right in the eyes of God through disobedience when necessary. Again, if it does not go against the laws of God, then we must do what they command. Christianity is coming under much persecution because people want to do what they want. They hate and abuse those who openly disagree with them. They do not want Christian teachings and values in our public schools, but many other religious ideas are praised. We must be willing to stand up in all areas to any group that demands us to disobey God. He is our Lord, King and Eternal Father; worthy of complete obedience. Are we ready to take such a stand for Christ?
2019-10-15 – Joshua 1:9
Verse of the Day Devotion: Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Moses has died. God now calls Joshua to take the Jewish people into the promised land. “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory.” Joshua 1:2-4. On a side note, this verse is interesting in that it can be interpreted in an intriguing way. Albert Barnes says it best, “Moses, representing the law, is dead; Joshua, or, as that name is written in Greek, Jesus, is now bidden by God to do what Moses could not – lead the people into the promised land.”
I am pretty confident that Joshua was uneasy with this. Thus, God then gives words of encouragement to Joshua. “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.” Joshua 1:5. He assures Joshua that He will be constantly with him. No one will be able to stand before him and prevent the work God has called him to do. This is essentially the same promise He gave to Moses. “No man will be able to stand before you; the LORD your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot, as He has spoken to you.” Deuteronomy 11:25. Here He explains why no man would be able to stand before him; the LORD your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot.
He then tells Joshua not to fear this callling. “Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.” Joshua 1:6. Here God ensures Joshua that he will lead the people and they will possess the land God promised them. Let’s look at the focus verse again. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!” Joshua 1:9a He is referring back to verse 6. This tells me Joshua was definitely unsure about this. He was around 100 years old, but had never led the anyone into battle before, especially with the goal of conquest. And God was calling him to lead the Israelites into the promised land through conquering the current residents. However, as a loving father does, He encouraged Joshua with these words. “Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9b
There are going to be times where God will call us to do a specific work which we will feel totally unequipped for. Now, I doubt it will be leading an army to overthrow a nation, however, many times the task will seem beyond what we believe we are capable of accomplishing. God would never call us to do anything if He was not going to be there with us. In fact, He will work through us to make it happen. “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13. This will accomplish two things. First, it will be done the way God wants it done. And second, we can rely on Him when we feel out of our comfort zone. All we have to do is submit entirely to Him. This is not always easy, but if we do, who knows what can be accomplished through us.
In closing, God gave Joshua a calling regarding entering the promised land in Joshua 1:2. He then told him to be strong and have courage in Joshua 1:6, then comforted him in his fear in Joshua 1:9. And He does the same with us in our callings. He discloses this calling to us, encourages us and then guides us and actually works through us to do His good pleasure. We know that Israel took over the promised land from Canaan and we also know that He will make us successful in our work for Him. What we need to do is, as Joshua did, trust God that we can fulfill His calling and then submit to Him in all things. Remember, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.
2019-10-16 – James 1:5
Verse of the Day Devotion: James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
In order to get the major context of this verse, we need to look at the three verses prior to this. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ” James 1:2-4. Now, this verse can be used for any situation wisdom is needed, however, when you see the words in the above verses, ‘your faith produces endurance’ it makes sense what James is focusing on.
Now, the wisdom that James is no doubt referring to is that wisdom which helps the Christian get through these times of trials, for there is probably no time the Christian needs the wisdom from God more then in how to bear up under the ordeal they are suffering. This wisdom is essentially understanding that for us to be stronger in our faith knowing God is totally in control, it must be tested so that any area where we do not grasp this truth can be strengthened. And the stronger it is, the more endurance we have to continue through it. I believe this is why God does not always deliver us from difficult situations. To paraphrase Francis Schaeffer on this topic, ‘too often we ask God to deliver us from our trials, when we should be asking Him to bring us through our trials.’
Part of this wisdom is seen in James 1:2. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,” How can we rejoice, counting it all joy to suffer these trials? By realizing the following. 1) That God is in control, and He would not have had you go through this if there was not a good reason, 2) Because our faith in God strengthens as we see His help and support though it, and 3) We are glorifying God by trusting Him that we will make it through. It is interesting that in countries where persecution is at its worst, the church is growing and flourishing. Here in the United States, where persecution is much, much less, we see more people leaving the faith, churches losing members and closing their doors. Kind of makes sense.
If we are enduring hard times, we can pray to God for the specific wisdom we need. We all, as Christians, have wisdom imparted to us. One is the knowledge we need Him. Another is how to treat each other. In fact, the bible is a book full of wisdom. And when we read and study His word, we gain much wisdom and knowledge. However, this wisdom may not be fully understood, and therefore God must strengthen it in order to equip us to do His will, no matter what that is. Most times, through trials, our understanding of His word increases.
So, when we find ourselves in a time of trial, consider it a good thing; for your growth and the Kingdom of God. We must see our times of trials as a needed time that will equip us for the times that are coming. For when the end-times arrive, it will be incredibly difficult. When that time comes, we should consider it a time of joy, for we know His return and our deliverance is just around the corner. And when things seem too hard to handle, pray to God for His strength and wisdom to help us through. God is able and willing. All we have to do is ask it of God.
2019-10-17 – Proverbs 19:21
Verse of the Day Devotion: Proverbs 19:21 Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand.
All of us have plans for our future. We have short-term plans; what we will do over the weekend. Then there are middle-term plans; what will we do over the next couple of years. Then there are long-term plans; what will we do in retirement. There is nothing wrong with having plans. They are important in order to determine what will guide us to its fulfillment. However, we should not make those plans concrete, for there is always the possibility that God has something else for us.
There are many things that we may desire for our future. Some of these are obtaining wealth, or the revere of others. Maybe a long and enjoyable life. For others it may be preparing for a livelihood that we enjoy and gives us fulfillment. However, many times our plans, even as Christians may focus on our own pleasures and desires, and not on others and their needs, or even God’s desires. “Then He (Jesus) said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions. And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops? Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry. But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:15-21. This is a bit rough, but this man’s plan in the parable did not look after others, but only for himself. And note what God called him; “You Fool.” ‘This word ‘fool’ has the meaning – properly mindless, that is, stupid, ignorant, egotistic, rash, or unbelieving: unwise.’ (from Strong’s Greek Concordance.)
Even if our plans are not selfish, they may not be what God desires. Therefore, as stated above, they should not be cast in concrete. We must always look to what He desires of us. What if we want to teach science in high school, but God desires us to go out and care for the poor? Quite different occupations, neither of which is sinful. Or, what if we plan on reaching the lost in our nearby cities, but God desires us to preach the gospel in North Korea? This is an extreme example, however, for some this could be reality. We must not ignore God’s plans for us. We as Christians must be open to any calling He has for us.
I remember the book by David Wilkerson, “The Cross and the Switchblade.” This is the story of a country Pentecostal preacher who was called by God to go to Brooklyn, NY to minister to the gangs in that area. God used an article in Life Magazine about seven teenagers who were members of a criminal gang to communicate His will to David. He was a Pastor who was content, and safe, preaching in this small church and would have been happy to stay there until he retired. But God had other plans, and I am sure they did not agree with the plans David had. However, he submitted to God and as a result, two high level gang members were saved and gave their lives over to God and preached to many still in the gangs; Nicki Cruz and Cookie Rodriguez.
Sometimes we do not know the plans God has for us. But He does. “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. This verse is regarding the Jews in Babylon; however, I am confident it is applicable to us as well. He knows the end from the beginning; therefore, He knows all His plans for us. I encourage us all to, when we make plans, to be open to something different if God leads us to another calling. Remember what James said, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit. Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” James 4:13-15.
2019-10-18 – Revelation 3:15
Verse of the Day Devotion: Revelation 3:15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.
This verse is found in the list of the seven churches of Asia Minor and speaks specifically of the last one mentioned, the church in Laodicea. Here we see Christ saying to the church that He knows their deeds, that they are neither hot or cold. What He is essentially saying is that what He sees there is ambivalence and irresolution.
If they had been hot, they would have burned with passion for the truth and God. They would have desired do to all they could for the Lord to bring the gospel to the lost and to give God the glory for all He has done for them; their salvation, sanctification and future glorification. There is a general order of service, but open to whatever is needed by the people.
If they had been cold, they would do things for formality’s sake; because it is the way things are done. Not much is accomplished because the service is more important than the outcome. A successfully formal church is the desired outcome, a service pleasing to the Lord, not necessarily the effect on the parishioners.
We can easily see how hot is very much desired over cold, but why is cold preferred over lukewarm? Because, in the end they are endeavoring to please God without really understanding how. They believe that at least they are giving to God what He desires, formal services which do not deviate from the norm. Lukewarm has the idea of indifference; ‘I do not really care what happens.’ They are essentially Christian in name only.
Let’s look at a classic example of cold and hot; The apostle Paul. Before his conversion on the road to Damascus, he would be considered cold. What He did was because the Law told him to. He was passionate that the Law be completely and totally obeyed. The Law was what was preached, obeyed and therefore important. This was the only way to please God. He went as far as to arrest anyone who belonged to the cult of Christianity. However, after His conversion he became hot. He was fervent for the word and he had a passion for Christ like no other. He preached Christ for what He did on the cross to provide salvation to as many as received; to the point that he suffered and eventually died for the cause of Christ.
My question to all who are reading this is, are you hot, cold or lukewarm? If you are lukewarm, He will spew you out of His mouth. For, just as lukewarm water is a place where germs and bacteria can thrive; ultimately infecting the body, so is the lukewarm Christian capable of infecting the church body with ambivalence, they profess Christianity without really living it out. Here is what Christ said about the lukewarm, “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.” Revelation 3:15-18. Note what He said, “Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” The lukewarm believe they are just fine; they do not need Him.
We need to understand we need Christ, for He is the way of salvation. We must, in everything we do and think, please Him. We must never, as Christians, get to the point that we believe we have all we need, and therefore, we do need Him. Do we really want to be vomited (the actual idea of spit here) out of Christ and the kingdom?