2019-10-21 – Psalm 116:15
Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His godly ones.
This is a beautiful picture of how God views the death of one of His children. We see death as the end of a life. It means decay, absence and their removal, nothing that we prize. We mourn over the death of someone we know because what we see is separation, the loss of the fellowship and love we have for and with that person. We hold all these memories and are saddened that those days are over. However, God knows the end from the beginning, and He has determined our days. “Since his days are determined, the number of his months is with You; and his limits You have set so that he cannot pass.” Job 14:5. And since He knows our days, the end is not a surprise to Him as it is to us.
How does God see the death of the Godly ones? Well, it is not separation, for we will be there with Him. “then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7. And we will be with Christ. “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” Hebrews 9:27-28.
And our new life will be everlasting. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 Our life will never end. For we shall be with God, enjoying the blessed life forever with no end. No longer dealing with the temptations and sins that so easily entangle us (see Hebrews 12:1). No longer growing weary due to the problems and trials we face every day. No longer going without and wondering how we will make it. No longer mourning over hardships that come our way, for we will be at peace, and joy will pervade our existence. No longer becoming tired and weary, for we will experience true rest. “The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; And devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil, He enters into peace; They rest in their beds, Each one who walked in his upright way.” Isaiah 57:1-2.
The trials we face here on this earth are not the product of God, but of man who rebelled against God. However, through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, we as Christians will be delivered from the chaos wrought by the rebellion of Adam and Eve. We will be with God who loves us very much and will provide a place for us with Him forever. He does not like what we go through here, which is why He has prepared a better place on a new earth in a new heaven.
As stated above in Job 14:5, our times have been set. And also His plans for us have also been set. We are here to spread the gospel and bring others to the saving knowledge of Christ. In these times there will be suffering for all saints. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12. Also, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” Philippians 1:29-30. In fact, Paul was told ahead of time that he would suffer for Him. “But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him (Saul) how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Acts 9:15-16
Unfortunately, reaching out to the lost will undoubtedly bring suffering. However, at the end, either of our life or this era, we will no longer experience persecution or suffering, for we will enter our new life full of unending joy, peace and love. Revelation tells us what it will be like. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4.
In looking at death the way God does, we can see that death for the Christian is not a sad event, but a time of rejoicing. For they have been delivered from this life of trials, sickness, pain, persecution and the like, to a life that consists of eternal peace, joy, rest, contentment and love. Yes, we will still mourn, for we are still here. However, God sees one that He loves finding eternal peace and joy beyond comprehension. And this is why the psalmist writes in our focus verse, “Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His godly ones.” Psalm 116:15.
2019-10-22 – Colossians 3:23
Verse of the Day Devotion: Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,
When we received Christ and His work on the cross, He became our Lord. He freed us from the lordship of man but not the responsibility to those we work for. Anything we do now is for Christ and not for men. “Slaves be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” Ephesians 6:5-6. The word ‘slave’ in this verse can be seen as employee under an employer in today’s thinking since slavery is illegal in our society.
In essence what Paul is saying is that everything we do, either for our employers, family, friends, church, or anyone actually, should be done as if we are doing it for Christ. In a way, we actually are, but we must not assume we can do less than our best because it is not “Christian duty”. Everything we do must be as if we are doing it for Him. We are not to just look like we are doing a good job, but we must actually do a good job. When those whom we are working for look at us, and our progress and results, they must see the very best we can do. Just because we are now Christians does not mean we can break the ties we have here. Remember, God led us to where we are, therefore, we actually are doing His work for them.
So, how can we accomplish this? We must be obedient to those we are working for and with. In a work environment, we must do all we are asked to do, when and how they want it done. This is what is meant by ‘ do your work heartily’ Not because we are being forced to but doing it from our heart; with good will desiring the best for them. We should love them as Christ does. There were many times when I worked in computer programming I had to just make it happen because they needed it done immediately. I cannot count the number of times I had to work weekends and late into the evening. In fact, once I was given a task on Friday morning and it needed to be done as soon as possible. I worked straight through till I finished Sunday evening. Not because I wanted to, but because it was needed and only I understood the systems requiring changes. I say this as an example. I wish my heart was completely right during that time period. But I did it as unto the Lord. I also asked for forgiveness for those times where my heart was not right.
When we do this, we are showing our love for them and ultimately, in them seeing us do this, we may have an opening to share the gospel to those we work for and with. If they see us giving our all to make what they need happen, they may be open to hearing why we give our best. What a great opportunity.
Lastly, since we are doing it for the Lord and not men, we know “that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” Colossians 3:24. We may not receive anything from men, but from Christ, we have an inheritance in store for us. Therefore, we must be faithful to God, and when we are Christ will give us this heavenly reward.
2019-10-23 – Genesis 3:4
Verse of the Day Devotion: Genesis 3:4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!
This verse is found in the verses that describe the fall of Adam and Eve. The serpent in our focus verse is described as the most crafty of all the beast of the field. The Hebrew word for crafty means cunning (usually in a bad sense). It also has the idea of prudent and subtle. He then says to Eve, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” Genesis 3:1b. There are several things that is intriguing with this. First, it appears that this was part of a discussion they were having already, and it is questioning her to create doubt in Eve. But more interesting is this creature had the ability to reason and to speak in a way Eve understood.
She then answers the creature by saying they can eat of any tree in the garden except from the one tree in the middle of the garden, for God has told us we will die if we do. At this point she still believed what God told her. Then the serpent counters what God told her. “You surely will not die!” Genesis 3:4 However, it throws in another idea which, as we will see, caused her to doubt what they were told. “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5. Aha, it has now told her that God was withholding something from her. They would not die; in fact they would actually become like God Himself if they did eat.
So Eve began to mull this over in her mind. According to the serpent, they would not die, for the fruit was good for food. It was lovely and looked incredibly delicious and would allow them to gain in wisdom to the level of God. These were the things she, and no doubt Adam also, desired. So she ignored the warning God gave them regarding the fruit and ate it, also giving one to Adam so he could enjoy the same blessing the fruit would impart on her.
Well, it did not turn out that well for them. Yes, their understanding increased, but not as they hoped for. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” Genesis 3:7. They understood they had done wrong and disobeyed God. They felt the need to cover themselves with the leaves of the fig tree. They now lost the peace they had with God. Not only did they not want to see God, but they hid from Him hoping He would not know.
Satan does the same thing with us today. We see many of the rules placed upon us by the Word of God as not really meaning what we had always understood. Satan tempts us by saying, “God really did not mean these things were wrong. Besides, they are enjoyable and will benefit you as well.” And because we see these things as pleasing to our flesh, we have to make a decision. Do we obey God, or do we assume we do not truly understand and, like Eve, partake in the sin. The world does this all the time. However many Christians are also tricked into partaking because they also fall prey to the ‘I know more than God’ syndrome. We may not think specifically we do, but that is the result of pondering the words spoken by the serpent just as Eve did. And I hate to say we all do this occasionally, with no exception for myself.
It is important that we not listen to the words of the enemy. We must become so familiar with God’s Word that we do not fall for the serpent’s cunning ways. We must understand what is acceptable and what is not and stand firm when tempted to go against what God has said. The enemy tempts us with our self-indulgent sinful desires. We need to understand this and tell him, as Jesus did, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan.’ We must use scripture and our desire to please God to defeat the serpent just as Jesus did in His moment of temptation. This must be our goal. We may fail at times, but these times must become less frequent. And when we do, we need to do as John said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. We must remember the words of Solomon when he said, “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12. For just as Eve listened to the serpent and did what she chose which led to death, so will our choosing to do what we want that is contrary to God’s will.
Study God’s Word and know what it says and choose at all times to follow it. It will help in your battle against the temptations of the enemy.
2019-10-24 – John 13:14
Verse of the Day Devotion: John 13:14 “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
While Jesus and the disciples were in the upper room just prior to His arrest, Jesus did something that totally surprised the disciples. “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” John 13:5. This was startling to them because Jesus, the Son of God, wanted to wash their feet.
First, washing of the feet was a normal practice in those days because sandals where the standard foot apparel and washing of the feet was normally the first thing done after a journey once they entered the home. In the case of the average person, the owner would provide a bowl with water and the guests would wash their own feet. However, in the home of the affluent in society, the guest’s feet were washed by a slave of the homeowner. This was normally the role of the lowliest of slaves for this was the most menial of tasks.
In our eyes, it would have been normal for Jesus’ feet to have been washed by one of them. However, this would not have taught the lesson He wanted them to know. Two of the things He wanted them to learn was servanthood and humility. Jesus was showing them they need to desire to serve, not to be served. Paul understood this and wrote to the Philippians the following. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:3-8. Note that this was the attitude of Christ.
Another lesson concerning servanthood is stated in chapter 20 of Matthew. There was a dispute by the disciples because the mother of James and John wanted her sons to have an exalted place in Jesus’ kingdom. “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28. He essentially said that what she was asking was the world’s way, but not the way of the kingdom.
Jesus gave Himself up for us because of His great love. The second person of the trinity, the son of the Almighty God, came to serve and not be served. We see this in His washing of the disciple’s feet as well as His statement to the sons of Zebedee’s mother and His willingness to die for the sins of mankind, His greatest service while here on earth. He was telling them that if He came to serve, and they are to be like Him, then they were to humble themselves and serve, not argue about who was the greatest disciple. And we are to do the same as children of God.
John puts it this way. “The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” 1 John 2:6. We are called to walk in the same way He did, in humility and servanthood. We should be willing to lower ourselves to lift up another. We should be willing to do anything that helps to further the cause of Christ. And again as Paul wrote, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” Philippians 2:3. We must not see anyone as lower than us, but we must be willing to help all. This is what Jesus did, and this is what He showed by washing their feet.
2019-10-25 – Romans 8:18
Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
I am sure that we all suffer or have suffered to some degree due to our Christianity. We may not have to endure what the apostles or those Christians today who live in countries that are hostile to the Christian faith. However, we will no doubt experience persecution for our faith in Christ. Paul put it this way in his second letter to Timothy. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12.
Christian persecution in this country is growing fast. In fact, many Christian organizations are persecuted by those who disagree with them regarding their faith. There are colleges and universities that do not allow Christian organizations to have meetings on campus, however, it is OK for anti-Christian groups to meet regularly. A law school in New York required students to work with a law firm over the summer, however, law firms that held firm to Christian beliefs were not acceptable and several students who selected them were forced to find another firm to work with. In Canada, it is illegal to talk or give a speech or sermon that states homosexuality or transgenderism is an abomination, in fact, there are heavy fines and possible jail time for those who do. The same idea is being talked about by the democratic presidential candidates, in fact, one has said if he becomes president, if they do not declare LGBTQ acceptable to God, a church may lose its tax-exempt status.
What is interesting is that no other religion is being spoken of in this way. Even Islam, which kills those who practice homosexuality are not being targeted. This, to me, makes it pretty clear that Christianity is under attack and ultimately Christians. Abortion is another issue that causes people to hate Christians. Many believe that the murdering of an unborn child is not only acceptable, but also pleasing to God.
There are many groups forming here and all over that will attack and punish those who do not agree with them, and this definitely includes those who live out and speak out about their Christian faith when it comes to LGBTQ, abortion, or any other issues in which the disagree with us.
We must understand this will occur, and we must stand strong and not compromise when it does. In so doing, we will show our love for God in standing up against evil. James put it like this. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. James 1:12. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 And this hope is looking forward to the day when He returns and delivers us from this world.
As our focus verse says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18. Times like this are hard, but they are nothing compared to our new life, which is an eternal one. So, look at these trials and tribulations as of no consequence, in fact, pray for those who perpetrate them on you. Their future, if nothing changes, will be eternal torment. “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48. Remember, Jesus while on the cross prayed that those who put Him on the cross be forgiven for they know not what they do. Many who persecute Christians really do not understand the reality they truly live in. We need to present the truth when we can and pray always for them to come to the knowledge of the truth. Who knows what changes this will bring about in their lives. They may even give their lives to Christ as we have.