2020-01-01 – Proverbs 17:22
Verse of the Day Devotion: Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.
There are two ways we can focus our thoughts. We can either focus on that which is good, or we can focus on that which is not good. Many things happen in our lives, both good and bad. Some negative situations we cannot control, such as the death of a family member or friend, loss of a job, etc. These can be very difficult times, and there will be a season where our thoughts will be directed at these issues. However, more times then not, we have control over our circumstance and how we react. For instance, when someone offends or insults us. Or, as an actual instance in my life, a contractor goes to your boss and reports to them something you supposedly did which actually never happened. In these cases, we must not focus on these things, but give them to God to work through. We can and should address things that are not truthful about us, but we should never make these things control our lives.
What the writer of Proverbs says is that whether we focus on good things or bad things, they will have an affect on our bodies. If our thoughts are positive and joyful, the affect is good. Likewise, if our thoughts are negative and depressing and stressful, the affect is not good. Let’s look at some of the effects on both sides.
When we focus on the negative, this produces stress. There are various affects that are common to the person who is experiencing high stress levels. These include muscle tension, most pronounced at the base of the neck. Also headaches which can include migraines. Nausea, hair loss and weight gain, rapid heartbeat and chest pains as well as insomnia and fatigue. One other is that stress impacts the immune system making those who are stressed more prone to illnesses. (This information found on the Cleveland Clinic website.)
However, when we focus on the positive, this produces relaxation and positive body impacts. When we laugh and feel deep joy, the body releases serotonin and endorphins which are called feel-good chemicals which make us even happier. This relaxes the body and reduces stress. These chemicals cause our lungs to expand and become replenished with oxygen. Laughter even sends more oxygen-rich nutrients and blood throughout the body. It relaxes the muscles, lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow as well as improving the functions of the blood vessels, which can decrease the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. It also improves our immune system. (This information found on the Medical Daily website.) So, do we want to remain healthy or experience negative impacts on our bodies? According to the writer of Proverbs, a joyful heart is a good medicine while stress and anguish which can come from negative things can hurt our body. So, let’s stay positive. If a negative situation occurs, do what you can but do not focus on it, give it to God and let Him take care of it. Remember what Paul wrote to the Philippians. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:4-8. Dwell on the good, give God your struggles and cares. Your body will thank you.
2020-01-02 – Galatians 3:28
Verse of the Day Devotion: Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Back in the first century, there were many divisions within the populations. Several would be the have’s and have not’s; basically the rich and the poor. Then there were the dignitaries and the normal people. Then there were the wise and the foolish, as decided by the different groups. And of course, the free and the slaves. Each of these groups were looked at very differently. This was the way of the Greek and Roman rulers. And these distinctions were many times accentuated in order for the aristocracy to place themselves at a higher level than the common folk.
When Jesus came, He saw things differently. He focused on one distinction as primary regarding His purpose here on earth. That distinction was regarding following Him. You either followed Him or you did not. And this distinction was not as strict as those of the Greeks and Romans, and even to some extent the Jews, because with them, it was very difficult and sometimes impossible to cross the divide they had imposed on the people. With Jesus, you could move from non-follower to follower by making the decision to follow Him.
In the focus verse, Paul is laying out this same idea. Within the Kingdom of God, there are no distinctions accept whether you are a follower of Christ or not. Everyone is on the same level. First he says there is neither Jew nor Greek. He is not talking about their ancestral line, for that remains. What He is referring to is at this level, all are saved in the same way and all are intitled to the same privileges. Jews often looked down on the gentiles, and I am sure vice-versa. However, within the body of Christ there is no favoritism on account of birth or bloodline. All confess their love and devotion to Christ, and all are saved by His mercy and grace. The same is said regarding the slave and the free man. Being a free man does not give anyone any special claims to Jesus and His grace.
In those days, the woman were looked at as totally subordinate to the male. In the body of Christ, again there are no special privileges associated with the persons gender. Both sexes are seen as being at the same level. Now, this does not mean there are no distinctions in what each of them do. In the parental role, women will always by the mother and the man will always be the father. And there are other distinctions, especially where the Jewish law was concerned. However, within Christianity, both have equal rights, privileges and equal blessings. And, neither are more useful or important than the other.
We must remember that all who are truly Christians are all one in Christ Jesus; no-one is greater or less any other. We must never look at anyone and think we are better or worse than they are. We should never flaunt our spirituality simply because we have more credentials than someone else. All credentials really are is to show how we have been prepared for the work God has called us to. We are all called to specific tasks. Some to teach, yes. But some to hospitality, others to helping those in need, and still others to reaching out to those who no-one else will. We are all equal in the eyes of God no matter who we are or what our talents are. We should see things in the same way as Christ did. There are followers, then there are those we need to become followers. Any other distinctions are truly irrelevant.
2020-01-03 – Isaiah 1:17
Verse of the Day Devotion: Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.
Isaiah is speaking to Judah about its wickedness. They are not living as they ought. “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, “Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me.” Isaiah 1:2. Judah has revolted against God. They are not following His ways but their own. In fact, the Lord speaking through Isaiah declares that they do not even know Him. “An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.” Isaiah 1:3. He compares His people to an ox and a donkey and basically says they know more than Judah, for at least they know who their master is. He continues with, “Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, Offspring of evildoers, Sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the LORD, They have despised the Holy One of Israel, They have turned away from Him.” Isaiah 1:4.
Based on verses 2-4, Judah has abandoned God, choosing to walk in their own way and not God’s way. How sad that God’s people in the time of this writing, having seen all that God has done for them, would walk away from Him when, in their eyes, did not appear to believe they needed Him.
However, God has not rejected them. He still loves them and has a purpose for them. He now tells them what they must do. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil,” Isaiah 1:16. This verse, just prior to our focus verse, tells them what they must do because of their rejection of His way. First, they must wash themselves, making themselves clean. He is telling them to put away their sins, stop committing them anymore. Sin is represented in the scriptures as defiling or polluting the soul; making it filthy. This idea is alluded to by King David when he wrote, “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51:1-2 Sin is like dirt that makes us unclean, and we must wash this filth from us.
God then goes on to say through Isaiah, remove this sin from my sight. Since He sees everything, and nothing can be hidden from Him, He is basically saying to cease from doing evil. Stop it altogether. Do not just wash yourselves, but do not get dirty again.
Now, this takes us to the focus verse. He says to learn to do good. They were obviously ignorant of what was good, so God was telling them to study to see what is good. These include, but are not limited to, seeking justice. This is to be done between 2 or more people when a wrong is done, without respect of persons. They are to reprove those who are ruthless, those who take advantage of others or are cruel and heartless to others. They must not allow them to continue in their evil ways but correct them and get them to stop. They are to defend the orphans and plead for the widow. Both of these groups had no one to plead their case back in this time. They were ignored and left to fend for themselves.
Today, we have similar situations. Our county is moving toward atheism and rapidly at that. Many in this country are defying God and living as they please. And we, or those who come back must learn what it truly means to do good. We must cleanse ourselves from sin and stop doing whatever evil we find ourselves doing. We must protect those who need protecting and help those who need help. We must see other more highly then we see ourselves (Philippians 2:3). We must honor God in all we do. Let us learn what is the right thing in everything and focus on doing them. That is what He calls us to.