2020-01-13 – 1 Corinthians 10:31
Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Paul here is telling the Christians in Corinth that God’s glory should be the desired result of all we do. This is similar to an old Jewish saying which said, ‘let all your works be done to the glory of God.’ This should be all our desired results. John the Baptist when questioned by his disciples when they said, “And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him.” John 3:26, he answered “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30. John knew that he was simply the one to declare Christ, he was the voice crying in the wilderness that the promised Messiah had come, the Son of God. And when his disciples questioned him, , he answered saying that it is Jesus, the Messiah, that is important and must be followed, not John.
Paul is referring to in previous verses regarding clean and unclean meat. “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” 1 Corinthians 10:23. He is allowed to eat anything, all is now lawful according to God. We see this is the account of Peter when God shows him a vision of a sheet descending from heaven with all kinds of unclean animals. God told him to eat three times, but each time Peter says, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” Acts 10:14b. And three times God tells him, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” Acts 10:15b. He did this in preparation for Peter going to the house of Cornelius, a centurion in the Roman army. Why, because Peter would no doubt be offered food to eat that was not considered clean. And rejecting this food would be an insult to Cornelius and may stifle Peter’s job of presenting the gospel. He could come across to them as believing he was ‘better’ than they were.
Paul tells them not to question where the meat came from, but to accept it with thankfulness. “Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS. If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake.” 1 Corinthians 10:25-27. However, if they tell them it is meat sacrificed to idols, then they are not to eat it. “But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake;” 1 Corinthians 10:28. By eating what they declare as sacrificed to idols, they person who informs you may be weak and unscrupulous may judge or condemn the one who eats it, because they may look at you and say you have fallen into the customs of the idolaters. Again, they could eat it, but it may cause the one who declared the meat as sacrificed to look negatively upon them.
So, looking at the focus verse, whatever we do, whether it is in eating, drinking or whatever, we must do for God’s glory. It is important that we look to those we are with. If they offer us anything that is not sin, then we should be willing to partake, and we should be thankful for it. For in our eating and drinking what they offer, we probably will open the door to discussion and/or evangelism. And this brings glory to God. And in whatever else we do; we must also bring the glory to God. We must not strive for our own glory, or the glory of others, but for the glory of almighty God. When people see our openness to them and that we follow God in all ways and we do not compromise but obey Him in all things, they will be more inclined to ask us about this faith we have and accept Him as Lord and Savior, or accept the teaching we give in order to help them grow in Christ. This is what we are called to do. Do not let tradition get in the way. We must look to our neighbors and those God brings our way above ourselves. “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.” 1 Corinthians 10:24. Whatever brings God glory, and our fellow man is better in the end, this we need to do.
2020-01-14 – Colossians 3:9
Verse of the Day Devotion: Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,
We as Christians are different from those in the world. We have been saved. We died with Christ and we were raised up in newness of life. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Paul here says that we are new creatures. We are not what we were as the old man; who we were before is gone. We have become new, made in the image of Christ. We were predestined to be like Him, because He foreknew we would believe and be saved. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;” Romans 8:29.
Now, since we are like Christ, then we must act like Him. In all ways we are to be like Him. In this verse, we will look at one of the ways we are to imitate Him. That is in being honest in all ways. Lying is one of the vices of the tongue. Paul wrote to the Church at Ephesus the following, “But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.” Ephesians 4:20-25. Because we are in the likeness of Christ, we should never speak falsehood, but we must always speak the truth. This speaks of our neighbors, both those who are in the body with us, or those who are yet unsaved. Why would Christ give us the approval to lie to anyone. He would not, therefore this must apply to all men. If we lie to our Christian brothers and sisters, this will have the result of lessening the bonds we have with them and bringing dissention within the body. If we lie to an unsaved person, we cause them to distrust us and likely destroy the possibility of bringing them to Christ.
Christ never taught us to be deceptive. In every way, we are to be totally honest in how we see things. For example, if we are selling anything, we should be honest regarding its condition and worth. We should never attempt to deceive the buyer regarding how much the object is worth. If we know something, we should let them know about it. For instance, if there is any damage to it, be honest and let them know. Attempting to get more than something is worth is being greedy. We are taking more from them than we are entitled to, This is wrong and can be a form of theft. So, as new creatures, let us focus on being like Christ in all ways. In regard to lying, we must never be dishonest, for it breaks the trust others have in us and will be detrimental to the cause of Christ.
2020-01-15 – Deuteronomy 4:2
Verse of the Day Devotion: Deuteronomy 4:2 “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
We as Christians are called to keep the commandments of God. And it is to be done not because we feel we have to in order to be righteousness, but because we love Him. Jesus told His disciples the following, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15. And again, “You are My friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:14. Notice, if we love Him and are His friends, then we are to keep His commandments.
Many obey the parts they want to obey and ignore the rest, or they add to His commands. According to our focus verse, we must be careful that we only teach what is actually His commands, and do not add anything that He did not say. Let us look at these a little deeper. Both actions, adding to or taking away, can be done out of ignorance. This is the reason we are to study His word and completely understand what He is saying. Paul said it this way in his letter to Timothy. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15. Along with reading His word, it is important that we spend time studying it as well. We must understand what He is commanding before we can fully obey Him.
First, we will look at adding to His word. This happens a lot when we begin to merge our past teachings, either from our times when we did not follow God, or when we add to His words that which we followed from a previous religion. There are many cults out there that claim to follow Jesus but actually serve another God. When I was in the Air Force, I unknowingly became involved in a cult that said we are not to read the Bible with understanding, but to pray read it, and rely on the leader of our particular church to explain any meanings in scripture. I did not fall for it, but I was concerned about those in the cult. Fortunately, I went to a great church and knew many strong Christians. Other problem teachings which are additions to His word are confessing our sins to another so we may receive forgiveness and the idea that the LGTBQ lifestyle is acceptable to God. God loves everyone but still requires from us all to obey the commands that He gave to us.
Also, we must not remove things from His commands. In the word faith movement, they teach that if you pray for something and have faith He will give it to you, then He absolutely will. However, James counters this. “You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.” James 4:2. Notice the last part of this verse, ‘You do not have because you do not ask.’ This is often the verse they quote. However, they do not go any further. The next verse counters their belief. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:3. Having attended several word faith services, I have heard them quote verse two many times, but not verse three. When you leave off the second verse, you are teaching a falsity. You are leading people in a direction God never intended. The above are a few examples of adding and taking away but are by no means the only ones. We must be careful that we do not add things to His word or take away things. When we do either one of them, we are not fully teaching His word for we are changing what His word is communicating to us. We end up leading people in a wrong direction. We must be very careful that we earnestly study His word and know what it says and what it does not say. We may be asked to speak a message or help someone understand some passages. We need to make sure we tell them exactly what His word says. We do not want to lead anyone astray with what we communicate.
2020-01-16 – Acts 16:25
Verse of the Day Devotion: Acts 16:25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;
Paul and Silas are thrown into a Roman jail. The reason was they delivered a slave girl from a demon. “It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, These men are bondservants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation. She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.” Acts 16:16-18. This young girl had a spirit of divination, and her masters were using her in order to gain a profit from what she said. It was believed among the heathens of that time that people like this young slave girl is speaking the truth by the inspiration of their god. And these masters took advantage of it.
However, when she was delivered from this spirit, they saw that their opportunity for profits through their slave had ended, and this angered them to the point that they grabbed both Paul and Silas and took them to the chief magistrates of that place. They lied about what they had done, to some degree, “and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, ‘These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.” Acts 16:20-21. Paul and Silas were proclaiming customs which was not lawful to observe as Romans. Rome considered the Caesars were gods and proclaiming anything or anyone as above Caesar would be considered extreme blaspheme. When they declared this, they were grabbed, and the chief magistrates ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they were finished beating them, they were thrown into the inner prison and their feet were put in stocks. Now, when prisoners were put in stocks, they would spread their legs as far as possible, then they would spread them further, pulling the muscles before putting the stocks on them.
Many would sit in the jail wondering why God would have done this. However, from our focus verse, we see that they were praying and singing hymns of praise to God. They did not stop giving praise and worship to God, even though they had been severely beaten and the muscles in their legs stretched to cause them additional pain. And look what God was able to do through them. “and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.” Acts 16:26-27. During that time period, if any prisoner were to escape, the jailer in charge of him would be required to take his place.
So, what happened? “And he (the jailer) called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:29-30. And they replied, “They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31. What we see here is that because they continued to honor God, giving Him worship and praise, and praying, a man and his family received salvation.
God can use us in many ways for His service. However, there are times when He will use what we do even though we are unaware that we are making a difference. The jailer and his family were saved because Paul and Silas were glorifying the Lord. What is important to see here is that we always need to be God focused, for we never know when someone will be touched by what they see us doing. Let the world see that no matter how tough things get, we will give God the glory because we know that He uses us even when we do not realize it. “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;” 1 Peter 3:14-15.
2020-01-17 – Matthew 5:9
Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
This verse is part of what is commonly called the sermon on the mount. After His temptations, Jesus began His ministry, which started with calling His disciples. He also ministered wherever He went. And great crowds became interested in what He was saying. “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.” Matthew 4:23-25.
Notice what it says in verse 1, “When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.” Matthew 5:1. It looks here like Jesus intended this primarily for His disciples, however, as we read through the entire sermon in chapters 5-7, we see that it had things to say for the entire crowd.
Let’s look closer at our focus verse. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” One important characteristic of God’s true people is to seek peace and pursue it. This is stated by David in the psalms. “Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:13-14. John Wesley in his commentary on the Psalms said this. ‘Seek by all means possible to live peaceable with all men. Pursue it. Do not only embrace it gladly when it is offered, but follow hard after it, when it seems to flee away from thee.’ This is a great way to put it. Do not just accept it when it comes to you but pursue it when it is gone.
Those of us who love God should do everything possible to do good to all people. The word ‘peace’ in the scriptures implies all blessings both temporal and eternal. And peacemakers are those who strive to prevent any type of contention and strife. We are to use our influence to reconcile opposing parties. This includes in the areas of church differences, legal matters, or any hostilities that come between people. Strife and division do nothing positive anywhere it is found. We have many opportunities to help reconcile opposing people. We all can do much to promote peace. And if possible, it should be addressed in the beginning, before animosity has a chance to grow and flourish. Long and most hostile quarrels might often be prevented by a little kind interference in the beginning.
Jesus was referred to as the Prince of Peace. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6. He is the Prince that brings peace to all men. He brought peace between us and God, and He desires peace among all men. Paul says regarding God, “for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 14:33. And those of us who promote peace and tranquility and work hard in bringing peace wherever it is needed, these are those who do the work of God as Christ did, and are worthy to be called God’s children. So, let us focus our attention to eliminate all division and dissension and replace it with peace. This is one of the more important work Christ’s disciples are called to do.