2019-11-18 – Romans 14:21
Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 14:21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.
In the first century Jews were accepting Christ and the work He did on the cross in droves. The same can be said of the Gentiles. However, because their former beliefs were not the same they had different opinions as to what was acceptable and what was not. That does not mean that either was wrong, but if they believed it was wrong, then it was wrong for them. There were several ideas in that time period that were most evident. The first was what they could eat. The Jews believed that only those foods that were declared clean by God were acceptable, everything else was not. For instance, sheep were acceptable, but pigs were not. Bass would be acceptable, but not eels. “One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.” Romans 10:2. Another area in that day was when to worship. “One person regards one day above another; another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.” Romans 14:5. One group, Jews, believed that the seventh day (Sabbath) was the day to observe in honor to God, others believed that all days, not necessarily the Sabbath only was acceptable.
However, Paul sees it like this. “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. As for eating, see what God tells Peter. “But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat! But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean. Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” Acts 10:10-15. Some things are not wise to eat, but nothing is unclean as declared by God. And, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” James 1:13. As you can see from this, the Jews had a different view of right and wrong regarding these two ideas.
And many today have similar differences as to what is right and wrong in the Christian walk.. One is that some will not drink any alcohol because they believe it is evil, while others believe alcohol is ok as long as there is no drunkenness. Another area is with clothing. Some believe that men need to be dressed up in suit and tie to go to church, while others believe anything that is not provocative is acceptable, such as jeans and a nice shirt. Both examples within the belief described are OK. However, some have grown up believing a certain way and were taught it was unacceptable to drink even a drop of alcohol, or that any clothing considered casual should not be worn in church.
However, Paul wrote to the Romans that whatever we do as unto the Lord and we truly believe this, honors Him and that It is not declared explicitly in scripture as sin, then we should not judge our brother or sister. However, we must not do what another believes is wrong in their presence. For instance, with the alcohol issue, if someone believes any alcohol is wrong, then no alcohol should be served or consumed. For in doing so, we might cause him to stumble by doing what he believes is wrong; or to judge another by declaring them a sinner. “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. Or, in our example, The one who wears a suit is not to regard with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not wear a suit is not to judge the one who does, for God has accepted him. What is important in this verse is as long what anyone does is not explicitly considered sin, such as theft, murder or deceit, and they are doing it to honor God, then we must accept it as good. And, we should not do anything in the presence of our brothers and sisters if they do not see it as acceptable, for this may cause them to fall.
In closing, we must be careful how we judge the actions of another, for they may truly believe that their actions absolutely honor God; whether they abstain from something or practice something. God knows what is in the hearts of men, we do not. So we must allow God to determine if what they do is acceptable or not. If we attempt to do so, we may falsely judge them and end up in sin ourselves. And that would not be a good thing.
2019-11-19 – Matthew 4:1
Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
After His baptism, Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. This is looked at as the first act of His ministry, a battle so to speak with Satan. This was not something He did of His own accord but was led there by the Spirit for a purpose. I believe that purpose was to show that He could be tempted and not fall as man has, and thus reveal who He actually is, the one who could and would pay the penalty for our sins. Note a similar situation of temptation. “The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 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. When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 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 3:4-7. They also were tempted by Satan, however, they listened to him rather than God. They believed the words of the serpent and followed what he said.
Jesus, on the other hand, did not fall into Satan’s trap. The first temptation was “And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Matthew 4:2-3. Here, Satan told Jesus how to address His hunger. But Jesus quoted Deuteronomy to answer him. “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 8:3. In other words, what proceeds from God is what man lives by, not simply bread.
Then Satan brings Him to the pinnacle of the temple for the second temptation. “and said to Him, If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’; and ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.” Matthew 4:6. This is a quote from the Psalms. “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways.” Psalm 91:11. Satan attempted to use scripture himself, however, “Jesus said to him, On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.” This is a quote from Deuteronomy which says, “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah.” Deuteronomy 6:16. Notice the words of Jesus “On the other hand, it is written…”
Then lastly, the third temptation, which he did from the top of a very high mountain. “and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Matthew 4:9. And of course, He again quoted scripture with this. “Then Jesus said to him, Go, Satan! For it is written, YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY ” Matthew 4:10. And this is a quotation from Deuteronomy again. “You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name. You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you,” Deuteronomy 6:13-14.
This is why we need to study the scriptures and get to know what God said. Jesus used scripture to answer all the temptations placed on Him by Satan, and this is a good way for us to fight temptation. Knowing what God says is good and what He says is sin will give us the weapons we need to resist him and get him to flee from us. We need to take advantage of this so we will be able to say “NO!” to Satan when he tries to defeat us. Remember the words of James when he wrote, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7. And the way to submit to Him is to follow His word completely.
2019-11-20 – Galatians 1:10
Verse of the Day Devotion: Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
Paul here is speaking to the church in Galatia regarding the fact that there were some within their church that were deserting the true gospel and were now following a false gospel. In fact, he was amazed this was happening. “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:6-7. The word gospel, which is the Greek word ‘euaggelion’, pronounced ‘yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on’, meaning good news, and in this context, the great news of our salvation being available because of the shed blood of Christ. What Paul here was saying is that there were many leaving the true gospel and beginning to follow a message that was not good news or the true gospel.
Then Paul states that if anyone preaches or delivers a message regarding the gospel contrary to what he and his coworkers have already delivered, then they are to be under a curse. “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” Galatians 1:8-9.
As stated above, the true gospel is the great news of our salvation being available because of the shed blood of Christ. It defines the payment of the penalty of our sins by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Therefore, a different gospel is one which denies the necessity of a simple dependence on what Christ did on our behalf; namely the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
There are many false gospels out in our world. The more prevalent ones are the gospels of Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. These do not even reference Christ but state the following of their god is the good news. However, there are a lot of Christian cults that are deceiving many, such as Oneness Pentecostalism which teaches there is no trinity and the speaking in tongues is required for salvation. Then there is Christian Science that says Jesus was not the Christ and there is no sin. And Jehovah Witnesses that teach Jesus was Michael the Archangel, that He did not rise from the dead in Human form and the Holy Spirit is God’s impersonal active force, not a person.
And why do we switch to these false gospels? It is because many teachers preach what man wants to hear, not necessarily what is true. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4. This includes what is considered the prosperity gospel, antinomianism which states a Christian can sin because we are not subject to the law, and other Christian heresies.
In closing, it is not our job to preach and teach a gospel where the intent is to please men and seek their favor. It is to preach the truth whereby men are told they are under the penalty of sin and only the death, burial and resurrection of Christ leads to salvation and leads to a Holy walk with Him. Some will be angry and walk away because this is more than they expected or desire. However, many will accept and believe this message and truly become a child of God. This is our calling, and we need to put aside the teachings from wolves in sheep’s clothing and teach the full truth. If not, then we and those who accept the message we give will come under a curse, and this is not a place we want to be.
2019-11-21 – Matthew 10:28
Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 10:28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
There are two different kinds of death. There is the death of the body, and the death of the soul. One is a temporary death; the death of the body. The other is an eternal death; the death of the soul.
Let’s look at both of these. First, the death of the body. According to Jesus, we should not fear those who can only kill the body. It does not matter how old we are, our bodies are breaking down. We can exercise, eat right, do all the things we understand are great for keeping the body in shape. However, no matter what we do, this body will die. It is inevitable. Let’s look at some statistics. The American woman lives, on average, to age 86. The American man, on average, lives to 84. The longest expected life span, based on the longest recorded death in recent years is 122, achieved by Jeane Louise Calmet of France. The oldest man who lived was Methuselah, the grandfather of Noah, who lived 969 years.
Because of the sin committed by Adam and Eve, death was passed down to all living creatures, most importantly, humans. However, as I stated above, if we have become true Christians, and our body dies, we will be given a new body, just like Christ’s. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” Philippians 3:21. What he means by this is our bodies will be like Christ’s; immortal, glorious, and of a type that is able to experience the infinite spiritual enjoyments at the right hand of God. Thus, we do not need to fear those who can kill our bodies, because we have a new one coming that is infinitely better than our earthly body which will be in a glorious life in the presence of God.
However, we should fear Him who can destroy both our body and soul in hell. The killing of the body and soul in hell describes the eternal destiny of those who are not justified, declared righteous, by accepting the work done through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Man can destroy the body; only God can destroy the soul as well as the body in hell. And just as the Christian has eternal life with the Father, the non-Christian has an eternal destiny as well. “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 25:45-46. Note the term ‘eternal punishment’.
In closing, there are two deaths, one is temporary, and one is permanent. We, as Christians, should not fear anyone who can only destroy the body, for these bodies are destined to die, either by the hands of men, illness or old age. We will receive a new body, infinitely better and eternal in nature. However, we should fear God and reverence Him for, unlike men, He is the only one who can destroy the soul as well. Praise God, for as Christians, we have a wonderful eternal life waiting for us to enjoy.
2019-11-22 – Psalm 11:4
Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 11:4 The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD’S throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
This verse is a picture of how God watches over us. This is worded so we, being human and not having a full knowledge of God, can have a reasonable understanding. This starts off saying that God is in His holy temple. He is seated in the temple of His holiness, and His throne is in heaven. Isaiah gives us this image. “Thus says the LORD, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is my footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?” Isaiah 66:1. His greatness is exhibited here in that heaven is His throne, the seat by which, as King, He holds His court, where He dispenses His commands and from where He oversees all His work. Jesus reiterated this thought. “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING.” Matthew 5:34-35. Another verse that truly exemplifies how great God is. “But will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built.” 2 Chronicles 6:18. He fills the known universe and the high heavens. There is no place anywhere that He is not.
Proceeding to the second part of our focus verse, we see His eyes see everything within His vast empire, which is everything He has created, and also outside of this created universe. He see all of our needs and all our desires. God watches over everything; all we do, all we see, all we experience and all the dangers that may be near us. One thought here is that He is protecting us from whatever the enemy may do. He is keeping us safe from whatever comes against us. He knows what the enemy is planning long before he himself knew, for He does know the end from the beginning. The theologian John Gill puts it this way. “Knowing all this, we may be assured that he will interpose when it is best that he should interpose, and that he will suffer nothing to come upon us which it is not best that he should permit. When evil befalls us, therefore, it does not come because God does not know it, or because he could not prevent it, but because, seeing it all, he judges that it is best that it should thus occur.” John Gill from his commentary on the Psalms.
And lastly, His eyelids test the sons of men. In other words, He searches all men’s hearts, into the very depths of our beings, and knows our thoughts, intentions and designs, our wishes and desires. He knows our emotional state and all that either brings us joy and peace, or sorrow and frustration. There is nothing we can do to hide anything from Him. And what does this tell us? We can trust Him completely in everything. We are safe in placing ourselves in His care. In the next verse, the writer of this psalm adds, “The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates.” What is intended here is that He hates the ways of this person and takes account of it. This we cannot hide either. He knows if our heart is filled with love or hatred, goodness or wickedness. There is nothing He does not know about us.
In closing, I want to emphasize the idea that we are safe with Him. We may not like what He allows us to experience, however, we must trust Him because He would never allow us to endure anything that was not going to have a good result. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. This is one of my favorite verses in the scriptures.
Take comfort in this focus verse. It tells us that He fills all the heavens, in fact, the heavens are His throne and He watches over us, not just in what we do, but the why’s and the how’s. We can be content in knowing that we are safe and that nothing surprises Him. And nothing can happen to us that He does not allow because of His great love. Remember this during times of trial; it will help to brings us through.