Never Lonely, For God is Present

Saturday, 2019-03-30

Bible Reference: Psalm 23:4
Translation: The Passion Translation (TPT)

Bible Text: Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have! You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way. Your authority is my strength and my peace. The comfort of your love takes away my fear. I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.

OBSERVATION: Psalm 23 is probably one of the best known, most often read psalms, but I wonder how often we stop to really meditate on the words of this wonderful Psalm of David. It is still very applicable to us today, especially in the words of verse 4. For we constantly stand in fear of something, or someone. Yet if we could only assume the confidence of David and talk to our Master about our concerns, and remind ourselves of His ever present help in our time of need, imagine how comforting that would be! Let’s look deeper into this today….

APPLICATION: Not sure if anyone lives without fear today, but in the world I know and experience, there’s a great fear factor in every aspect of life. Think about it friends, we arise each morning and check our surroundings to see if anyone came around during the night to break-in or steal anything. We head off to work and we are in super vigilant mode to make sure that other drivers on the road are being careful and will not hit us. We arrived at work and carefully survey the area before attempting to enter our place of business, for fear that someone might be lurking to follow us in. Throughout the day we are in fear of an armed robbery, or perhaps afraid that the boss might have a plant in our area reporting our activity to try and have us fired. OK, you are probably wondering why am I so paranoid, but hopefully you got my point and understand that we would have to be in a very desolate place or marooned on an island for us to possibly be free of fear in some way throughout our day. David had even greater reasons to fear, for he was chased and forced into battle on many occasions through his reign as king. But I want our key verse to remind us, just as David found, that regardless of what is going on around us, or no matter who might be out to get us, if we have Jesus we have everything. For He is a constant friend, who has no ulterior motives in loving us passionately and in spite of our failures. In another translation, 4b reads: ‘Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.’ Is it interesting how we tend to think of a rod as a punishment tool, yet with reference to the ‘rod’ we are told that God uses it to protect us and to guide us! How reassuring is that? When you feel like you know not where to turn next, or who to trust in seeking help with that, imagine and remember that we have an ultimate friend – a constant guide; One who sticks closer than a brother; One who knows what the future holds, and as we trust in Him, He will guide us through the circumstances that make up tomorrow. He’s my friend, and I hope and pray that you have also placed your faith and trust in Him. We are reassured of His endless love and His ongoing guidance right until the very end!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank You for the reassurance that You will protect, guide and love us until the end of time. Please speak to those who fear about things in this life, convince them of Your power and Your desire to guide us through all aspects of this life. Lord speak to the hearts of those who are hopeless, because they don’t know You personally. May this be the day of decision for them. AMEN!

Things That Cause Us To Deny Christ

Friday, 2019-03-28

Bible Reference: Matthew 26:33-35
Translation: The Passion Translation (TPT)

Bible Text: ^33 Then Peter spoke up and said, “Even if all the rest lose their faith and fall away, I will still be beside you, Jesus!”34 “Are you sure, Peter?” Jesus said. “In fact, before the rooster crows a few hours from now, you will have denied me three times.”35 Peter replied, “I absolutely will never deny you, even if I have to die with you!” And all the others said the same thing.

OBSERVATION: Many will read the theme/subject and immediately answer ‘Nothing, of course’. However, in our Scripture today Jesus actually told Peter and his fellow disciples that they would deny Him. These guys had some very intimate and powerful times with Jesus, and still, under pressure, they denied Him. I wonder what would cause us to deny Jesus?

APPLICATION: Standing before Jesus, Peter was sure that he would never lose his faith in him, nor turn his back on Him. In fact, Peter was convinced that he would always be true to his Master. Now, imagine us standing within the 4 walls of our respective churches. It may have been an exciting service, where we may have heard testimonies of the active, healing power of God in a son’s life, or the saving grace of that daughter that never wanted anything to do with God. The singing led by the praise team may have been heart warming and really served to draw you close to the Savior. You are on ‘cloud nine’ spiritually, and there is nothing that you wouldn’t consider doing ,or saying, in the name of your personal, relational Savior and Lord. Then the moment of truth arrives, you walk outside the doors of the church and into a world that is torn apart by the advisory. Some might tease, or mock, you for attending church, instead of joining them at the baseball game. Some might try to help you understand why your financial resources are limited, seeing that you give so much towards the expenses of your already flourishing church. Some might get in your face about the number of times last week that you chose to attend yet another church service, instead of joining your ‘real’ friends at the pub. Knowing how real most of these circumstance are, do you suppose that’s why we often keep our mouths shut about the exciting church service we attended, or the sweet answers to prayer that blessed our souls, or the sweet personal relationship that we have with the Creator of this universe? Do you suppose these types of intimidation might contribute to the lack of sharing with our friends, or the bragging about the relational highs that we encountered with our Lord? But what would you say to God when He tells you that because of missed opportunities, those friends of yours went to Hell, because no one cared enough to tell them of a better place, or a loyal and faithful Friend who loved them enough to die a cruel death – for the sake of their salvation? What would you say to the spouse or child of that friend who was just murdered at one of his drinking parties by someone he thought was a good friend? After all, you had the keys to a better life. You had experienced the Master, and His awesome love, that reaches beyond all earthly boundaries that we seem to find ourselves entrapped by, yet you never shared that with your friend. Child of God, let me encourage you today to make the most of every possible moment you have, to share the love of Christ with those that you encounter. It doesn’t matter if you’re at school, at work, in the grocery store or at home. If you know Jesus, and you have experienced the love of Christ, and are being blessed by the joy of your salvation, then ask God to help you share that with the one that He appoints for you to meet with today. It may be their last opportunity to learn about God from a real friend who cares about them. And it may be your last opportunity to share with them before they are snatched away from this earth. With Jesus as their Savior, their eternal destination would be secured in heaven. Without Jesus, they are destined for the pit of Hell where Satan will be their eternal destroyer with endless sadness, pain, hatred, and unending damnation. You and I could make a difference in their lives today, God being our helper.

PRAYER: Just as You sent a messenger of hope to help lead us to You oh Lord, I pray that today You will point out those that we need to encourage; those that need to see the love of Jesus in and through our lives; those who need to know that Jesus died for them also, and those who are entrenched in sin. Lord, I am convinced that they need Jesus. Oh that they would surrender their lives to be cleansed and accepted by the Holy and precious Son of God. Father, we have no assurance of tomorrow here on this earth, so please work a miracle in lives today, so that others may actually see Jesus in our words and actions, and that their hearts my feel the desperation of needing to surrender their lives to You. May Your will be done today oh Lord, and if You can use us to help facilitate evidence of that to our friends and coworkers, we would be eternally grateful. AMEN!

Allow God to Use You Today Exactly where You are at

Thursday, 2019-03-28

Bible Reference: Esther 4:12–14
Translation: The Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Bible Text: When Mordecai was told what Esther had said,  he sent back this reply, “Don’t think that you will escape being killed with the rest of the Jews, just because you live in the king’s palace. If you don’t speak up now, we will somehow get help, but you and your family will be killed. It could be that you were made queen for a time like this!”

OBSERVATION: Many will buy a ‘chance’ today, to win millions of dollars in a lotto! Others will attribute their being located in a specific place around specific people as circumstantial, or by accident, or even mere luck. However, we should meditate on the words of Mordecai in this Scripture today, and understand that God has an ordained place for us to be today, with certain people, for a specific purpose that only He knows. Let’s anticipate the blessings that might ensue, as a result of our obedience to God today!

APPLICATION: Mordecai challenged Esther to reconsider her reason for not assisting him in his plea to save the lives of all Jews in the area at that time. Maybe up to this point Esther was thinking that it was because of her beauty that she was favored to be queen under King Xerxes, or perhaps her gentle character or even her kind-hearted attitude. However, was Esther really any worse that some of us? I believe that way too often we tend to attribute our location to something that we have always desired; Our job position on something we have worked hard for, and achieved; Our spouse on the attraction one towards the other; Our church on being the most popular in the area with the best worship music or preaching or teaching of God’s Word. But friend have you stopped to reflect on where you are at in each of these areas of your life right now, and how God had a hand in it all? Have you reflected recently on the gentle, but firm guidance in your life to get you where you are at in every aspect of life? I can personally share that there have been many situations in my life where I can reflect back and see exactly how and why God directed me to where I am today. So do I believe that God has me where He wants me for a time such as this? I can only respond very positively, based on my faith in Him and on the ways that He has operated in my life already. Now I’ve also seen Him close doors, so don’t assume that everything will be super positive, clean and just the way we want it, or like it. If we trust Him for direction in our lives, then we must trust Him for all the benefits and/or fallouts we might see, especially in those cases where answers may of been delivered differently to what we had our minds made up for. Friends, if you are a child of the King – a born-again Christian, you are who you are; and where you are; surrounded by everyone God has ordained to be there – for such a time as this. May God use this time to draw you closer to Himself and to be especially obedient to Him, so that He can use You to accomplish His work right where you are, just as you are.

PRAYER: Father, You are such an awesome God and I thank You for reaching in through hoards of other folk, to acknowledge the needs and opportunities of this simple man. Thank You for loving me that much! I’m sure that my readers and I could identify with the encouragement and push needed by Esther, because we often find it easier to poke our heads in the sand and ignore needs around us. Now we are reminded that we are divinely gifted and purposefully placed where we are in life for such a time as this. Please use us, Your instruments of praise, to continue to do Your will, and may we always be obedient and willing servants. I ask these things in faith, and in the precious name of Jesus, AMEN!

The Word of God is Powerful and Profitable

Tuesday, 2019-03-26

Bible Reference: Isaiah 55:10-11
Translation: GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

Bible Text: 10 “Rain and snow come down from the sky. They do not go back again until they water the earth. They make it sprout and grow so that it produces seed for farmers and food for people to eat. 11 My word, which comes from my mouth, is like the rain and snow. It will not come back to me without results. It will accomplish whatever I want and achieve whatever I send it to do.”

OBSERVATION: Many of us may be more like the servant who buried the talent entrusted to him, instead of investing it. For some of us are not prepared to take the risk of investing gifts given to us – be it monetary, physical, or even special abilities, because we tend to dwell on the negative possibilities instead of the benefits. In our Scripture, God showed us how beneficial the rain and snow is, and then goes on to compare that to His Word and how it will always come back with positive results. Are you willing to risk sharing God’s Word, after knowing its power to how profitable it is?

APPLICATION: Investors will tell you that there are certain investments where your savings will double over time, because of the excellent history of returns and their future prospects. To illustrate the awesome return on sharing His Word, God chose to use the example of snow and rain. We often hear of the devastation of too much rain or snow, and way too often we tend to get hung up on that. However, God illustrated the wonderful advantages of these two elements, for the earth is watered and the plants are given this pure, natural element that they need in order to grow. I thought of another advantage also, because during a visit to Arizona some years ago, I was told about the years of drought often encountered there in the dessert. However, that has never really an issue, because they always had enough water – in fact a river that flows through the middle of Scottsdale, always has plenty of water! Now get this: it’s a manmade river that gets its supply of water from melting snow from the surrounding mountains! People tend to grumble when snow interferes with their daily responsibilities, but God is saying just wait a few days or weeks, I’m providing something very necessary for my people in the towns down-stream! God likened this to His fertile words. He foreknew how many of us will mess up so badly by sharing our own, empty, words with hopes of impressing someone about our Lord. So God gave us His own words in the form of a book – the Bible. I believe He showed us that these words are not only powerful and profitable, but they have already been proven. Think about it friends, there is no other reasonable explanation why simple words from the mouth of a pastor, or fellow Christian could impact the hardened criminal in prison who, in spite of his evil deeds, suddenly sees and understands that Jesus died, so that he might have eternal life and join us fellow believers around the throne as ones cleansed by the blood of Jesus. There’s no need to recreate the words necessary to present to the sinner, for God’s Word is perfect, it is powerful, and it will not return to Him void. May I encourage you to read the Word of God daily; allow it to wash your soul first and foremost, before trying to apply it to all those around you; then share it with others. There is a gospel song with words like this: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Click the link and allow the words of this song to bathe your soul, while drawing you closer to the Master. Soak in the Word friends, so that it might overflow from your lips at just the right times, for the benefit of the Kingdom!

PRAYER: Precious Lord, Your Word is a light unto my path, for it directs me daily and warms my heart with encouragement from a Savior who loves me enough that You sacrificed Your very life so that I might see heaven one day. I am convinced that people need the Lord – those in my neighborhood; in my church; in my city; my state and yes, especially in my country. Use me Lord to not only be an example in their midst, but fill me with Your Word so that Your words might flow freely from my heart through my lips. Oh that You may rule and reign in my town today dear Lord. Please humble each and every reader today, so that they may desire more of You. May we all be filled to overflowing, so that the words of our mouths and the fellowship of our hearts may be acceptable to You, our Lord and our Redeemer. AMEN!

Protect Your Heart From Anything That Might Replace God

Monday, 2019-03-25

Bible Reference: 1 John 5:18-21
Translation: The Living Bible (TLB)

Bible Text: No one who has become part of God’s family makes a practice of sinning, for Christ, God’s Son, holds him securely, and the devil cannot get his hands on him. We know that we are children of God and that all the rest of the world around us is under Satan’s power and control.And we know that Christ, God’s Son, has come to help us understand and find the true God. And now we are in God because we are in Jesus Christ his Son, who is the only true God; and he is eternal Life. Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. Amen.

OBSERVATION: Safe in the arms of Jesus is where I want to be when this life is over, but I would dare say that my goal each day is to be secure in His arms – protected by Him, loved by Him, encouraged by Him and directed by Him. Child of God, I believe that our Scripture reaffirms that when we are securely His and when we surrender wholeheartedly to His will, He will fill us with so much of Himself that there will be little room for anything else. However, to get there we must surrender to His will and His Lordship. A place where all believer should strive to be – daily.

APPLICATION: I was drawn to the first part of this scripture that assures me that if I am truly a child of the King, I am held securely in His hand and under His protection from the Evil One. Then John clearly delineates who truly is controlled by Satan, and I pray that each one reading this devotional have made a firm commitment to graduate from that dark, sinful world, into the welcoming, loving, forgiving arms of our Lord and Savior. If you are still struggling with sin dear friend, then I would recommend that you go back to step one and check your son-ship with the Father. Was that an automatic thing you assumed because you were attending church every time the doors were opened? Was it something where you felt pressured into making a decision, or did you ever feel drawn by God’s Holy Spirit to surrender your old life of sin, and accept Him as Your personal Savior? May I encourage you to use the place, date or time of your adoption into the kingdom of Light, especially the next time that Satan tries to cause you doubt about whose you are? But friends, in spite of all the great insight already mentioned, the very last sentence is a powerful statement. When I think of what might take God’s place in our hearts, I tend to think of anything that might interrupt our personal time with the Lord. These are the times where you are spiritually refueled to go on stronger in the faith. And if anything steps into that space, or disrupts the time you had set aside to be with God, then I wonder if perhaps that’s what John was cautioning us about? For any relationship to flourish, I feel it is important for daily time together. When you are not meeting those committed times, then obviously something else is taking priority over your time alone with God. Perhaps another area might be church attendance. I know, just as staying in your garage overnight will not turn you into a car, so church attendance will not save you! However, I believe that a true child of God would want to be with God’s people at every opportunity. In fact, the Word infers this to be a characteristic of a believer. Furthermore, church attendance gives you the opportunity to praise and worship our Creator – the giver of all good things in this life; you also have the opportunity to be blessed by hearing how God has blessed others and answered their prayers; plus you have the opportunity to minister to others by sharing your God experiences with them. So if you’re not there, will someone go lacking that night, or that day? Will God be understanding of what took priority over Your time with Him? Is another ‘god’ slipping into the picture?

PRAYER: Lord I pray that You might use this devotional to awaken me to the desires of my heart and my relationship with you. May I be found faithful in all things oh God, and may You have prominence in all that I am. Touch the hearts of my readers dear Lord. May each of us be reminded of the priority You placed on making sure that our sins are forgiven, forever. With that same determination, commitment and priority may we be extra careful to not let anything interfere with the overwhelming and powerful role that You play in our lives. I believe that others will see and believe! Thank You gracious and loving God for loving us so much. AMEN!

From The Abundance of the Heart, The Mouth Speaks

Saturday, 2019-03-23

Bible Reference: Matthew 25:42-43
Translation: The Passion Translation (TPT)

Bible Text: 42 For when you saw me hungry, you refused to give me food, and when you saw me thirsty, you refused to give me something to drink.43 I had no place to stay, and you refused to take me in as your guest. When you saw me poorly clothed, you closed your hearts and would not cover me. When you saw that I was sick, you didn’t lift a finger to help me, and when I was imprisoned, you never came to visit me.’

OBSERVATION: I’m sure that most of my readers will read the above, and if they don’t know the scriptures, they are probably wondering which local church, or group of people, might Jesus be referring to. I wonder what forms of testing (in our minds) might we look for when we observe others who claim to be ‘Christian’. What if we used the same methodology as Jesus did, will anyone make it to heaven in our judgment of them today? How do you suppose you and I might fear in His eyes, would we make it?

APPLICATION: There is an old saying that has long been quoted based on what we hear words come from an honest man’s mouth: ‘from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks’. I believe that Jesus is saying that there are attributes about our life that are strong indicators about whose we are. It’s a very sobering and frightful thought, because it seems like we are part of a world where most of us look to meet our own needs, our own wants, our own timelines, our fast-paced, very programmed, full scheduled, selfish world, where helping others are often excluded. All too often we tend to leave it up to the government, or the church, or the pastor, or perhaps family to care for those who are broken, or in need of a hand-up. But did you notice how Jesus never referred to the fact that we should give, so our church could help those in need, or we should vote, so we could make sure that our government helps, even though these are two areas in most countries that will help those in need? Friends, I believe that the intent of Jesus here, is to help us to understand that these are ways that a heart filled with Jesus, would express itself. Look again at the ways that Jesus illustrated this to us: (a) Feed those that are hungry – I heard of someone who took a team to serve meals to the hungry who had come in off the street looking for food. They were so humbled, that it had a serious impact on their lives. When last have we stopped to even chat with a person who hadn’t eaten in 24 hours, or perhaps turned around and purchased a meal to take back for them? Do you suppose that Jesus would do something like that? (b) Those that are thirsty – although similar to (a), yet slightly different. You find yourself thirsty, yet you pass by someone along the road waiting for food or a ride to somewhere. You see their lips parched, but still you drive on by after making many judgment calls on why they are in that position. Would Jesus have gone the extra mile to get them a drink? (c) In need of shelter – you have several rooms that are now unused in your home, but isn’t it virtually impossible to apply the brakes on your car and invite a homeless person to spend the night at your place? I believe that we have even become too selfish to house visiting preachers or evangelists. After all, why should I do that when no one else even considers it? What do you suppose Jesus would do in either of these circumstances? (d) In need of clothes – Many thrift stores will sell pieces of clothing for a quarter most days, because so much has been donated to relieve overcrowding in the closets of the ‘rich and famous’. But I wonder if perhaps Jesus was pointing out that a heart that looks like His would actually see a need, and humbly meet that need for clothing. Yes, you could send them, or take them to the Thrift store, but when last have you passed by someone in need and actually went out of your way to fulfill that need without being asked to? (e) Sick and in need of help – A Christian’s mind is relieved by saying that he would pray for that sick one. And that is commendable, if indeed we remember that promise to pray, after walking away. But carefully notice that Jesus mentioned that we saw the need and didn’t come to help. Do you remember how challenging it was to get around that time as you stayed at home recovering from your surgery, or that time while you were so weak as you dealt with recovery from a serious illness? Didn’t you wish that God would send one of His precious angels to cook a meal for you, or take you to the doctors? Wouldn’t Jesus have been all over that situation? (f) In prison, but totally forgotten by family, friends, the church and society as a whole. Yes that Brother made a mistake, but are they not still your friend? You wouldn’t be able to socialize around church, but don’t you know that there’s a void for that prisoner when you are unable to show that you care? Jesus met us where we were, shouldn’t we do the same for those we care about? Jesus separated the ‘sheep’ from the ‘goats’ based on these principles. What do you suppose would be your sentence, friend?

PRAYER: Father in heaven, we are such a spoiled bunch, You have blessed us with so much, yet we hold it tight to ourselves and often feel like we have earned our blessings and therefore can easily choose what we should do with them. This has hardened us to look on others in need without it impacting our hearts, and for this I humbly ask for your forgiveness, Lord. Christians often ask, and mostly strive to be more like You every day, but I pray today that change would come from impacted hearts, touched by Your ministry, Your character and Your words. Help us to set self aside and assume soft, moldable, usable hearts directed by the Master alone. Those in need, are really in need of Jesus more than anything else, and we all fit into that. Oh that we may constantly be aware of the need for our Savior, and may our hearts be humbled to not only seek Your face for our needs, but for ways to help others. Lord grant us wisdom to move and/or speak just like You demonstrated, so that others might truly see Jesus. AMEN!

How Long Will You Wait?

Friday, 2019-03-22

Bible Reference: Exodus 24:15-18
Translation: New Living Translation (NLT)

Bible Text: 15 Then Moses climbed up the mountain, and the cloud covered it. 16 And the glory of the Lord settled down on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from inside the cloud. 17 To the Israelites at the foot of the mountain, the glory of the Lord appeared at the summit like a consuming fire. 18 Then Moses disappeared into the cloud as he climbed higher up the mountain. He remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

OBSERVATION: In our Scripture today, we will see more about the patient obedience of Moses, and we will have the opportunity to compare our patience, or lack thereof, with this holy man of God. This is an eye-opening experience for every child of God.

APPLICATION: Out of the 168 hours given to us every week, there are some who calculate carefully which one-hour period they will give to God. In other words, some will say that their one hour might be used for a church service, while others will say that because there is a monthly meeting at church that lasts an hour, there will be no church service for them that week. There are some who will attend a church service, but when that hour is up, they become very fidgety and start checking their watch every five minutes with hopes that the preacher sees that and gets the message that it’s time to quit. Friends, there are real life stories behind each of these scenarios, so please don’t assume for a minute that I’m exaggerating. Now I want you to read our Scripture verses again, then stop and meditate on the picture story conveyed in those words. Let’s then allow Moses to be our mentor and leader for a while this weekend, and let’s assume that you and I are two of the 70 elders mentioned in the accompanying story around these verses. Here’s what I believe our conversation might be: So Moses, I am fine in accompanying you on a trip up that mountain tomorrow, but how long will we be gone? You see, I have sheep that must be attended to and a sick child that my wife will be burdened with while I’m away. You see, I have important responsibilities. (Moses) – Son, my allegiance is to God. And as fellow Elders, we must obey the call of God. He said come, and I am merely following His command. There is no time limit, for our God may release us within a few hours, or it may take days. Regardless of our obligations here with our families, our lives are worth nothing without our God. It’s Him first, and then to follow in obedience as to what He tells us to do. Choose you this day whom you shall serve, young man. Friends, with these words on our mind, I believe that we will consider who our true Master is at all times, especially when it’s time to serve God, spend time with God, Worship God, or simply bask in His presence. Added to this, imagine Moses and the Elders waiting on the mountain day after day, and even after the 6th day – still nothing. No I didn’t say one hour, like we are more apt to commit to, nor did I say six hours, which may sound extreme to most of us. It wasn’t until the seventh day that the Lord called out to Moses from the cloud. But that’s not all, Moses then moves on up higher through the clouds and spends another 40 days up there with the Lord. Friends, what hit me hard here in this story, is that Moses was on God’s schedule, and not his own. Will the world continue on without you if God pulled you aside for about 50 days? You better believe it. You may feel like the shop won’t open tomorrow, or the kids won’t get to school, or the family will run out of money. Let me encourage you to get over yourself. The world will go on, your business will go on, and in your surrendered state before the Master of this universe, you will be blessed beyond all measure. Recognize that there is NOTHING more important than time with God. Recognize that your life is so complicated because you are so dependent on yourself and your capabilities. Let us STOP and get in tuned with the Master. He designed us, and this whole world in which we are a part. Don’t ever forget that HE has the power to do every little thing that we worry about, except our temptation to sin. God loves us from the very depths of His heart, and He will take care of us, and those things that we tend to worry about. So why not trust Him completely and wholeheartedly? Be willing to spend time with Him – any amount of time that He might demand. No time-limits, please?

PRAYER: They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall rise up with wings like eagles… Lord Jesus, please forgive us for trying to place You in the same category as our microwave, or our convection oven – instant results. How refreshing to be reminded of Moses, and the time that He spend waiting to hear from You, and then the time just basking at Your feet. Please revive Your church oh Lord – that’s us. For we need to be reminded of the importance of spending time with You without time limits. You alone are God, and we are Your masterpieces created to serve, worship and adore You. Please help us to always be reminded that the Master sets the time we are allowed to spend with Him, not the other way around. Oh that You might become so important in our lives that You will be our top priority. Please move in our hearts, draw us close to You, and use us to encourage others to do the same. AMEN!

The Benefits of Worship and Service to God

Thursday, 2019-03-21

Bible Reference: Exodus 23:25-26
Translation: The Voice (VOICE)

Bible Text: 25 Worship and serve only the Eternal your God, and I will bless you with an ample supply of wholesome food and clean water. I will take away all sickness from you, 26 prevent miscarriages and barrenness, and give you long, productive lives.

OBSERVATION: In spite of miracle after miracle, yet God saw that the Israelites were still tempted to sin and worship idols at every opportunity. Much like ‘believers’ today, I believe. So I want us to meditate on the promises that God told to the Israelites, because I believe that He will do the same for us, if we meet the same conditions stated in these verses!

APPLICATION: I wonder what types of responses we might receive if we asked the typical church attendee in each of our towns, or churches: ‘Why does one worship?’ and ‘Why would one serve God?’. I would imagine that would yield an interesting set of answers! But I also believe that in pondering those hypothetical questions, believers might also be forced to answer those questions from a very personal standpoint: Why do I wake up from my warm bed, forego the trip to the beach on this beautiful day – one of the few that I’m off from work each week? Just as challenging, they might also question themselves: Why do I sacrifice my time in serving at my church? It seems so unappreciated and the good Lord knows that there is so much more that I need time to accomplish in my personal life. I believe by now you have probably pondered these questions personally, and have a few choice answers of your own! But let’s look at this from a scriptural standpoint. You see, I believe that God actually created us to worship Him. The following scriptures help to convince me of this: John 4:23-24; Revelation 4:11; Hebrews 1:6; Friends, I believe that a reminder is in order for us, so that we stop fooling ourselves into thinking that worship is about: Going to church, even though this is one of the best places you can find yourselves at, with other believers; Good worship songs and a rocking worship band, although this truly enhances our worship services; Worshiping a God that you do not personally know – for then you go through the motion without a personal attachment; Worshiping God out of obligation or requirement, rather than from a heart of self gratitude and personal experience with the Almighty. Friends, when our hearts are right with God, we will not only worship Him wholeheartedly, but we will desire to serve Him faithfully from a pure heart. Think about what this type of service might yield, versus a sense of obligation to serve, or just wanting to see all positions filled in a certain ministry area! Please note that God promised the Israelites wholesome food, clean water, good and productive lives in return for changed hearts that show evidence through worship and service. I can only believe that our God is the same today as He was yesterday, and that He has many blessings in store for those of us with thankful and loving hearts who sincerely dedicate ourselves to spreading His love through reaching others for the Kingdom, and serving from the depths of our heart as an extension of God’s outreached hand to those who need Him. Please communicate with your Savior, Jesus the Christ – my wonderful Lord, and commit yourself fully to Him. There is absolutely no telling what He has in store for us when we join Him in Heaven, dear friends!

PRAYER: Precious Lord, I come before You today as one who is not perfect, and I am therefore guilty of many of the things I shared in this devotional. I believe that many of my friends who will read this devotional today will honestly bow before you also with guilt about the things that are discussed above. You know the temptations and sin that distract us from a right and honest relationship with you, and because of this we are prone to wander and therefore not worship You in Spirit and in truth, and we serve out of obligation rather than as a result of our desire to share Your wonderful love with others who need You. Please dear Lord, make us a people who love You from the very depths of our heart, so that we may share with others from that same deep love that we experience. May Your kingdom come oh Lord, and may You be magnified in everything that I do or say. AMEN!

Warning, Prepare For…

Wednesday, 2019-03-20

Bible Reference: Matthew 24:42-44
Translation: The Passion Translation (TPT)

Bible Text: 42 This is why you must stay alert: because no one knows the day your Lord will come. 43 “But realize this: If a homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would come to rob his house, he would have been alert and ready, and not let his house be robbed. 44 So always be ready, alert, and prepared, because at an hour when you’re not expecting him, the Son of Man will come.”

OBSERVATION: In our Scripture today we are receiving yet another warning of something that will impact all mankind. Now it’s up to mankind to take that warning seriously and prepare themselves for the impending, pronounced occurrence, or do nothing, and be prepared for the dangerous, life-threatening results. I will expand on this in the ‘Application’, and I pray that you are concerned enough to continue reading, as this will impact you and your loved ones.

APPLICATION: Through analysis of past weather systems, men are able to predict how many hurricanes we might expect in a given year, and even the impact they may have on certain areas of the world. Meteorologists are therefore able to alert residents of what a storm is currently doing, and what its predictive direction and velocity might be in future hours and days. It’s not uncommon to see some residents begin to evacuate, based on the warnings, while some feel like other things are more important, or they could very well take care of themselves, even if their area is hit with unusually high winds, twisters, etc. Some of these brave men and women survive these horrific weather systems, while others don’t. In our Scripture today, we are being warned of the unannounced, non-predictive, return of Jesus Christ. Notice that no-one knows the day or the hour of His return. It’s not on the radar for our meteorologists to sound the warning, and even if it was, I believe that mankind would be even more stubborn about listening to and doing anything about the warnings, than they do with the hurricanes, or winter storm warnings. I am not all that pessimistic, I’m just sharing what I see each and every Saturday/Sunday morning when church doors open, and teachers and pastors look into the ‘radar’ God prepared for them, the Bible, and they share the warnings and readiness steps with a very small percentage of residents concerned enough to care about their eternal future. Friends, this is not just another warning, like a storm that may dissipate or just turn a different direction. Jesus didn’t say that He may come back, but instead said that He will return to earth to take His children home to glory. If I knew a bad storm was headed my way and could possible endanger all those within the sound of my voice, I would find every avenue possible to get the word out to my family, friends, neighbors and fellow residents. This devotional is an avenue that I have chosen to warn everyone, that Jesus told me in His precious Word, that He would be coming soon to collect His children before the rest of the world is released to Satan and the awful damnation of Hell itself. My prayer, and my sincere wish, is that ALL will be saved and join me around the throne in Heaven. I pray that you will heed the warning given and that you will surrender your life to the lordship of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Please don’t wait, His return could actually occur before you complete your reading of this devotional. Accept Jesus now, won’t you, dear friend? Please see my ‘Footnote’ for tips on accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior.

PRAYER: Lord, I have no reason to doubt Your Word, because so much of it has been proven, or Your predictions have already come true. It frightens me about Your warnings, but I appreciate Your patience, because so many remain undecided as to what they will do with the only One who loves them unconditionally, and has sacrificed His very own Son for their salvation. Lord, as many teachers and pastors try to do every week, I ask today that You might tender the hardened hearts of those that might read this devotional and do not claim You as Lord. May this be the day of salvation for many, is my heartfelt prayer, oh Lord – my Rock and my Redeemer. AMEN!

Find Out How Much You Love God’s Children

Tuesday, 2019-03-19

Bible Reference: 1 John 5:1-4
Translation: The Living Bible (TLB)

Bible Text: If you believe that Jesus is the Christ—that he is God’s Son and your Savior—then you are a child of God. And all who love the Father love his children too. So you can find out how much you love God’s children—your brothers and sisters in the Lord—by how much you love and obey God. Loving God means doing what he tells us to do, and really, that isn’t hard at all; for every child of God can obey him, defeating sin and evil pleasure by trusting Christ to help him.

OBSERVATION: Do you love God? How about God’s children, do you love them also? The extent to which you love God, will show how much you love His children! Is it evident how much you love God? Let’s stop and ponder this Scripture today, as we consider these very important questions.

APPLICATION: Through John, God has actually given us the formula for measuring how well we’re doing in loving God, and in loving fellow believers! In fact we are told in these verses today that the degree to which we love fellow believers is proportionate to how much we love and obey God. Ok, so I’m sure that you probably assume you truly love one another, because you are very sure that you really love God. But do you really?  The Word declares that the love referenced here is not just a verbal thing, or a feeling, but instead if we truly love God, we will do what He tells us to do. For some that will be easy, because we pray and we seek God’s face through His precious Word. When we truly love God, we will not just listen to His commands, His teachings, His instructions for us, and His example that He set for us to follow, but we will be willing to live out in total obedience all that He commands us to do. Friends, our instructions and our reminders will not just come from the pulpit on the weekend, or from a Bible teacher, but primarily come from a one-on-one relationship with your maker. This might include getting into His Instruction Manual, the Bible, daily; it will include communicating with Him throughout your day; it will include sharing with others about the most important thing that ever happened to you. Friends, if it’s truly on the inside, it will come out in your words, actions and attitudes. Don’t know where to start? You may want to follow a good devotional, such as the one you’re now reading, or you may want to look for a Bible Reading Plan of your own. Whatever you decide, just remember to seek God’s face first – as it takes the Spirit of God to truly open your eyes to the spiritual truths of our awesome God. Not much of a reader? It doesn’t matter, when you seek God’s face first and ask Him to open your mind to His ways and His thoughts, and His teachings, you will find that those simple words on a page, actually reveals the perfect will of God for your life right where you’re at during that very moment. Highlight as He speaks to you, and make notes to remind yourself how He spoke to you. Note that in today’s scripture we are taught that through loving God and obeying all that He instructs us, then we will defeat sin and evil pleasures. Our love for God will become so pure and so real, that we will also love everything that God loves and everyone that He loves. So are you struggling with any part of this today friend? Let me encourage you to try the above ideas for at least seven days, and I believe God will give you a burning desire to continue doing the same for the rest of the time you remain on this earth! Love and obedience to God leads to love for the brethren friend!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You not only tell us to love one another, but You have even gone the extra step of showing us just how to accomplish that. How unfortunate, that a God who sacrificed His only Son for us on Calvary, must now tell us how important it is for us to love His Son. How deep the Father’s love for us, even in spite of our unworthiness. Yet how easy it is for us to say that we struggle in loving our Christian Brothers and Sisters, when we don’t fully appreciate the love of our Father, or see fit to obey His simple commands. Please forgive us dear Lord and continue to draw us to Yourself with an even deeper determination to love and obey You. I sincerely thank You for Your love, and for all these things I have asked throughout this devotional, for it is in the precious and loving name of Jesus that I ask, AMEN!