2019-12-02 – Romans 10:14
Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 10:14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
Paul here in this verse is writing to the Church at Rome regarding the Jews and their inability to understand the message of salvation. He declares in an earlier verse, “For I bear them witness that they (the Jews) have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:2-4.
The Jews, whose forefathers had received the law from God turned to the law as a basis of their salvation. But the prophet Joel states the following, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.” Joel 2:32. As noted in this verse, it is not the doing of the law but calling out to God. Jesus said it like this, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. But because the Jews held to the law due to the traditions of the leaders and elders, they could not accept Christ as the Messiah because He did not act as they thought the Messiah would.
There were many in the first century that did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God. In fact, all the religious practices of that time believed their gods demanded a following of specific rules in order to be saved. It was not just the Jews. However, going back to the Jews, they believed the law was the path to their salvation. So, what is our focus verse saying. To all Christians it is saying the following. First, that how can they call on Jesus if they do not believe? Putting this another way as Albert Barnes so clearly stated, “How could they call on one in whose existence, ability, and willingness to help, they did not believe?” Good question. Then he goes further. And how can they call on someone who they have never heard of. There were many in that day who had never heard of Him. And then lastly, how can they hear of Him if no one tells them?
Paul is calling Christians, then and now, to tell people of the saving knowledge of Jesus, showing that He was the long-awaited Messiah. Quoting Isaiah, he says “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” Isaiah 52:7. Isaiah is saying that God richly approves and is delighted in those who go out and declare the good news of the love of God and His great salvation. In one of Jesus’ last words He says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. He is calling all His disciples to go out and spread the good news. We are the ones who, in our focus verse, are the preachers, the ones He has called to let everyone know who the true God and Savior is. Some are called to go into nations and places far away, others to our neighbors, friends, co-workers and those whom we meet. We must tell them, for if we do not, who will?
2019-12-03 – Psalm 19:14
Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
These are probably the two most difficult areas of our lives to control. When we lose control of our temper, we often speak things we would not normally say and think things that are not all that wholesome.
Often when there is stress or strife, we will say things we will regret later. In these times we lose control and just say whatever comes to mind. We do this out of hurt or extreme anger, and the results are most times not good. James puts it this way. “Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also, the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. or every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:4-8. The tongue can be used for good words or hurtful words. We must be careful what and how we say things, for many a friendship or ministry opportunity has been damaged or destroyed by a simple sentence said out of anger or conceit.
We must always also guard our hearts. The writer of Proverbs says it best. “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23. In other words, the things we think about and how we think about them, will affect the way we act. Think about it, we can say the same words to two different people, one we enjoy being around and another we would prefer not to fellowship with, and the inflexions and tones will be different. We must also understand that often, we do not know how we feel, and we can show a different attitude then what is true. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9. Our hearts can fool everyone, including ourselves. However, it cannot fool God.
As the psalmist writes, we must ask God to help us be loving in the words we say and how we say them. However, he adds, that we let the meditations of our hearts as well be loving. The former comes by way of the latter. If our hearts are filled with anger, hatred or conceit, it will be made known by what and how we speak. It is extremely hard to tame the heart and our mouths. Therefore, we must meditate on good, honorable and loving things, and allow only these things to come out in our words. And we must ask God to help us during difficult times, because they will come. And we must submit to God in all things, no matter what. And when we do, we will exhibit what is acceptable in the sight of God, our Rock and Redeemer.
2019-12-04 – 1 Corinthians 13:1
Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
This verse is speaking of the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. It is just one of many gifts of the Holy Spirit that God gives for equipping us for service to Him. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. Each of the gifts addressed above are all given to us by the Holy Spirit and apportioned to us as He chooses. Some may have only one of them, but others may have several. But it is the Spirit who decides.
Going back to the focus verse which refers to tongues, if we do not have love for others, then we are doing nothing but making noise. There was a lot of contentions within the Church at Corinth. They were so envious of each other’s gifts that unity within the church was on the verge of being destroyed. Paul was telling them that without love for God and man, the gifts and other graces they had were given was nothing in the eyes of God. This is a very strong statement. God gives us the gifts, but if we use them outside of love, then it means nothing.
He goes on in the next two verses, “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2-3. If we practice the gifts of prophecy, understanding mysteries, having all knowledge, faith to move mountains, give all we have away and give our bodies for suffering and death but have no love, there is no benefit for us. People in the church there saw these gifts as something to be proud of, that having them made them special. Which is why they were envious of the gift’s others had but they did not. However, Paul is laying out that these gifts must be secondary to our love for God and man. In fact, everything must be secondary to this type of love. “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13.
Any good thing we do or say must be instigated by love. It should never be done in order to build ourselves up. Jesus put it this way. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:1.
The important thing to keep in mind from our focus verse is that if we use a gift of the Holy Spirit, or give to the needy or feed the poor; essentially, if we do any good deed, do it out of love, not to just build ourselves up or show how great a Christian we are. Love must be the overarching reason we do anything for God. If it is not, then we may assist someone, but Jesus said, we will have no reward from our Father who is in heaven. Let love be the reason for everything we do.
2019-12-05 – Psalm 12:6
Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 12:6 The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
This verse is written in contrast to the verses just prior to it. “Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts” Psalm 12:1-3. These are sad verses, for what David is saying is the faithful and godly men are not around anymore. Those who profess faith and vow to be faithful to God and His ways; the true believers of that day, have fallen and are being false regarding the trust committed to them. They began to speak falsehoods themselves. There was a sad disregard of the truth and they dealt falsely with their neighbors. Their words could not be trusted by those to whom they were spoken. And they spoke with a double heart. This essentially means that they spoke the words with one heart, but in the other was held a different idea. This is generally what hypocrisy is; saying one thing but not what you truly think or believe.
David had arrived at the place where he called out to God to cut them off. This is more a statement of a truth rather than a desire, designed as a warning that all such persons would be punished or cut off. Those being the ones who speaks flattery without belief and boasting in their own ways. And the results of this way of thinking was they believed they were in control. “those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?” Psalm 12:4
The actions of those who acted as such caused much harm to people and God came to protect them. “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” Psalm 12:5. Through their lies, those who once were faithful had fallen away. The people trusted them, yet they betrayed them. The formerly faithful left the truth behind; replaced by self-exaltation and greed. And therefore, this was what was so sad. The ones the people trusted, betrayed them.
However, God speaks in our focus verse that He was not like them. His words are pure in their truthfulness, not mixed with any amount of falsehood. He compared them to silver, refined in the fire seven times. Each time silver is refined, more and more of the impurities are burned away. Also, the words seven in the scriptures denotes a complete or perfect number. The sense is, that the words of the Lord are ‘perfectly pure.’ There is no deception in His promises. There is no flattery in what He says. Men’s words cannot necessarily be trusted, but God’s words can always be trusted. So, be watchful when listening to the words of men, even with those who profess a strong faith in God. As Paul stated to the Bereans, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Acts 17:11. Be careful to check out what is said, for what men say may have errors, but God’s words will not. This will keep us in a place of safety, a place we desire so much, as designated in our focus verse.
2019-12-06 – Matthew 6:21
Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
What do we treasure? This is the question I ask myself when I read this verse. Do not answer this hastily. What things do we spend the bulk of our time thinking about? Are they things that are found in this life, or are they things we shall have in the next life? Now this verse is not saying that we should not think about our lives here. What it is asking is what do we desire more? What takes priority?
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,” Matthew 6:19. Jesus first discusses the things here in this life. Is our priority those things that bring us pleasure here? These can consist of the latest clothing fashions, the most elegant jewelry, the most opulent houses and vehicles. The finest foods, the most expensive treasures, the most beautiful decorations. They also consist of those things that lift us up above others, such as fame, and what gives us pleasure here. Are these what we desire to the point we put our focus on attaining them?
— or —
“but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:20. Is our priority that which pleases God, brings Him glory and provides what is necessary to prepare for our eternal existence after this life is over? We are joint heirs with Christ. Therefore, our inheritance is the Kingdom of God. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” 1 Corinthians 6:9a.
So, to sum this up, which is more important to us? Is it our temporary life here, or our eternal life in God’s Kingdom? Whichever is more important than the other will be what we focus on. Do we obey God’s or our own desires for us? Remember who’s we are. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. And to bring Him glory, we fulfil our calling from God. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. Our calling is to spread the good news of Christ, either through direct teaching and/or showing the love of Christ, to all we come across. We are to share Christ though words and deeds. If we see a need, meet it. This may mean sacrifice, but is that not what Christ did for us? The world needs to know God loves them and our message and good deeds will meet that need.
So, in closing, which of the two above is most important and is our focus? Treasures on earth or treasures in heaven? Our life here is temporary, our life in heaven will be eternal. Where we store our treasures will give us the answer. As for me, I want to store up for the next life. I pray this is your focus as well.