2020-01-06 – Matthew 7:1
Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 7:1 Do not judge so that you will not be judged.
All of us make judgements from time to time, and not all judgements are bad. For instance, Jesus does not prohibit civil judgement of the courts upon those who commit evil. We are called to maintain justice in our lives. In the old testament we see the following, “You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous. Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 16:19-20. He also is not referring to judgement by the Church, through its officers, upon those who are walking in sin. A good example was Paul correcting Peter. “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Paul corrected Peter regarding his hypocrisy of eating with the Gentiles until certain men from James came, and he would not eat with them anymore because of how he felt they would think about it. Paul judged the actions of Peter, went to him and corrected him.
What we need to be careful of is negatively judging others rashly, not having all the information but assuming that what we think is going on is going on. Without all the facts, how can we make a valid judgement? One way this happens is when we hear someone say something and deem it to be a negative statement when that is not what the speaker was trying to get across. However, we have already decided it was negative and we accept our judgement accordingly. Or, we assume knowledge regarding others and decide someone is not being truthful or is being duped when they speak about them.
Jesus goes on in the next verse to state, “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:2. This was a proverb among the Jews. It basically referred to how people will judge us, that being by how we judge. We should not judge rashly, for this could cause others to judge us rashly as well. This goes along with another saying Jesus said which covers not only judging, but many other actions as well. “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12. In this, we will be loving others as we love ourselves. If we do not want something done to us, we are not to do it to others. And vice-versa.
Let us be careful how we judge others. If we have to make assumptions in order to conclude the truth, we are not judging correctly. It is important that we give the benefit of the doubt. This is alluded to by Paul. “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Let us always think the better of each other, which Paul says here is what love is all about.
2020-01-07 – Psalm 103:12
Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
This is a beautiful passage that shows how complete His forgiveness is of our sins. First, the idea of the first part of this verse; as far as the east is from the west, denotes as far as possible apart. We cannot imagine this distance because it is so vast. And this is how far he has removed our sins from us Christians. They are removed to an eternal distance by the great mercy of God.
However, not only will He separate our sins from us by an infinite distance, He will remember them no more. Note these verses. “FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.” Hebrews 8:12. And, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25. The meaning of this is that our sins are not charged against us anymore. We are no longer to be punished for these just as if we never committed them. This is how God forgives us.
So, if this is so, and our sins are no longer charged to us, and God will never bring them up to us, we should not remember our past sins either. God has forgiven us, and we should forgive ourselves as well. So often we look into our past and we go over and over those sins we have committed: that we have confessed to God and He has forgiven, but we have not forgiven ourselves. If God has forgiven us, we need to forgive ourselves as well. To hold these things in our hearts and think upon them, condemning ourselves for them, we will not find the peace that God desires of to have. God spoke through Paul the following, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14. We must forget sins we have done in the past for they will only hold us back. They will cause us to condemn ourselves and the enemy will use them against us. We must put them permanently behind us, just as God has put them as far as the east is from the west, pressing forward in doing the things God has called us to do.
In order for us to be dedicated to the work God has called us to, we must focus on the fact He has truly called us to be His hands and feet on this earth. Our past is irrelevant because He has forgiven us. All that matters is us pressing forward, growing in Him and His word; evangelizing the lost and discipling the body. We are to help the helpless, feed the hungry, and encourage the downtrodden. We must forget our past. As I said above, it will only hold us back and minimize what we can do. He desires us to forgive ourselves as He has forgiven us. And He desires us to live in the peace He provides as well.
2020-01-08 – Proverbs 14:12
Verse of the Day Devotion: Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
Many people have a distorted view of Christianity. Much of this comes because of the culture we find ourselves in today. For instance, many have professed they are Christians but have also stated that abortion is a good thing and should be a valid choice for the mothers to choose. Their idea is that a woman should have the right to do whatever they choose with their body. However, the problem with this statement is not regarding their own body, but the body of the child that is within their womb. Some truly believe that God is OK with killing the unborn. Unfortunately, they are wrong in this assessment.
This distortion of the truth has been a problem long before our time. Paul said the following regarding the Jews in the first century, and this was regarding not just their ideas of Christianity, but Judaism as well. And these verses speak greatly about our time as well. “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:1-4. Let’s look at each of these verses a little closer.
First, Paul states his heart’s desire is for the salvation of the Jews. Being an Israelite himself, he understands their situation. They have a zeal for God, they desired to do His will, but they did not understand that righteousness, and ultimately salvation, does not come from the law, but because of the work of Christ on the cross. The observed the law which they believed came directly from God. However, they missed the idea of the coming Messiah who would make things right. They sinned not because they chose to, but out of ignorance. Not understanding that salvation comes through the death of Christ which, if believed and accepted, would have the righteousness of Christ imparted on them, they sought salvation through what they believed at that time, which was their own righteousness. And because of this refusal to accept the truth, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of Christ because they felt the keeping of the law was the answer.
If we look at the beliefs of some in our churches, we see a very similar idea. That is as long as they go to church, read the word, and try to do good, then God will be pleased. Often, their Christian life is separated from the rest of their life, which causes much hypocrisy. Often, they have not been told that this life is an ‘ALL IN’ life. They are not taught that the Christian life is one that is wholly devoted to Christ and the work He did on the cross. They base their salvation on either what they choose or understand, or by what their leadership tells them. It is important that we be as the Bereans were in the first century. “Now these (the Bereans) were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Acts 17:11. We need to check and see if what we are told, and also what we have accepted as true really is truth. If we take the time to do this, then we can ensure that the way which “seems” right is not and make the adjustments to live the life that “truly is” right and pleasing to God.
2020-01-09 – Psalm 9:9
Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 9:9 The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble;
We all go through trials from time to time. Times when we feel oppressed by someone or something, such as a government or corporation, or anything that brings anxiety to our lives. The writer of this psalm, David, experienced this many times, especially during the period where Saul was king over Israel. It is important that we realize that God is not unaware of our circumstances. He is well aware of what we are going through and is there the help us through it.
The Lord is our stronghold and refuge. This term refers to a place at a great height or altitude. It is a place which is not accessible by our enemies or where they can see us; a secure place that provides protection from danger. Note the wording. He does not take us to a refuge, He is our refuge. He states in another verse a similar idea. “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies.” Psalm 18:2-3. And again, “They band themselves together against the life of the righteous And condemn the innocent to death. But the LORD has been my stronghold, And my God the rock of my refuge.” Psalm 94:22.
And God wants us to do the same. He wants us to trust in Him completely during times of trial, anxiety and oppression. Call out to Him. We must go to our prayer closets or other quiet place and call out to Him for help. In fact, we must always focus on the Lord, for when we do it becomes easier to be at peace. One of my favorite verses regarding this idea is also written by David in the psalms. “I have set the LORD continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:18. David continually kept himself in the presence of the Lord, and this is how we must live as well. At all times, day and night. During our private meditations as well as our public professions. It must become a natural position for us; humbly in His presence.
Also, note in this verse, ‘He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.’ The right hand was regarded as the post of honor and dignity. It was also mentioned as a position of defense or protection. The idea is that to have someone at our right hand is to have someone near us who can defend us. “For He stands at the right hand of the needy, To save him from those who judge his soul.” Psalm 109:31. He will save us from those who pronounce a harsh or wrong judgement against us; from those who condemn us in our innocence.
We must always remember that no matter how difficult things get, we have a place of refuge. Regardless of how things look, We have a stronghold. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?” Psalm 27:1. We have no reason to fear or be downcast, for we have a God who is on our side and can never be defeated. We can take comfort in this and praise Him for all His goodness to us throughout our trials. He will protect us, and who better to place our lives and trust in?
2020-01-10 – Romans 10:15
Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 10:15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”
There are so many people in this world have never given their life to Christ. Some because they have heard the message and have decided to reject it. However, there are a great number who have never heard the truth of the gospel; some never having heard it at all and some who have heard about Jesus but do not understand what the Christian life is about.
The verse just prior to our focus verse states, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” Romans 10:14. The reason we use the term unbeliever is because those who are not Christians do not believe Jesus is the Son of God and that He came to die for their sins. So, Paul is asking a fair question. How can they, who do not believe in Jesus, call out to Him? Many people around the world have never heard about the God we serve. They worship false gods that have been introduced to them by the people around them. They are told that these gods are real, and they must please them through various ordinances laid out in their religious rituals. So, if these are the only gods they know, why would they cry out to a God they have never heard of?
Now, at the end of verse 14, Paul asks the question, how can they hear about the true God and His Son Jesus if there is no one to tell them? The answer is simple, they most likely will not hear about Him. The religious leaders of their false gods will not tell them, mostly because they have never heard of Him as well. Also, because they would never speak against the gods they serve for fear of losing their favor. So, it is up to us, as Christians who know Christ intimately, to spread the word of Jesus and the gift of salvation He has provided.
Now, not all of us are called to be missionaries in a foreign country or even away from where we live. But we are all called to reach the lost where God sends us. Jesus said this to His disciples, and through His word, to us. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. This is about evangelism and sharing the good news because you cannot make someone a disciple unless He is a Christian. So, from our focus verse, we are the ones sent by God to the world.
Paul then, in quoting Isaiah when He says that how beautiful are the feet of those bring the good news to the lost. We are all called to preach the gospel, whether in a foreign country, a distant city or only as far as your neighborhood. When we fulfill that calling, our work with its message is a beautiful thing in the eyes of God. It is why we are here. Let’s make it happen and bring the message of salvation to all God brings to our path.