Christian Devotions

Archive for the ‘Discipline’ Category

Firmly Established

And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the Lord for ever. I Kings 2:45

Solomon’s kingdom was firmly established.

Solomon was a wise man by nature. There were factors in the kingdom that he had to eliminate. There were other things that he had to embrace.

This is true of those who would follow Jesus as well. When we become Christians, there are things we need to cut out of our lives. We break some habits that are counterproductive. We leave off socializing with people who would draw us away from our fidelity to Christ.

By the same token, there are new things that we need to add to our lives. There will be mentors and friends from this new way of living. We need to be open to the changes that God will make in our lives.

When something new comes along, we need to evaluate it in light of our relationship with Christ. If it helps us to stay true to our faith in Christ, it is something we need to adopt. If it draws us away from our faith in Christ, we need to cut it from our lives, lest we be drawn away from the faith we profess.

Father, God,

Grant us the wisdom to see what is beneficial and what is detrimental to our faith. Give us the courage to embrace the beneficial, and help us to rid our lives of the detrimental.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Obedience, the Road to Glory

Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  ~~   Exodus 40:34-35   (KJV)

“The Glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”

Here we’re into details. Seven times we see the Israelites did “as the Lord commanded Moses.” They followed their instructions in every specification.

When it was all completed, then the glory of the Lord filled the temple.

How do we apply this to our lives today? Well, there’s obedience. No, it’s not a dirty word. Obedience to the Lord is more to be desired than sacrifice.

It was  not the sacrifices themselves that brought the Lord into the temple. It was the obedience of the people.

God has promised to dwell with us, within in us, if we let Him. But any scrap of disobedience makes our hearts unfit to tabernacle the Lord. Try as we might, we are inadequate to be completely obedient to the Lord.

That’s where the blood of Christ atones for us. He takes on our sin and covers us with His righteousness. What a glorious exchange – our filth for His purity!

Only with a heart bent toward obedience and a reliance on the blood of Christ can we hope to experience the Glory of the Lord in the tabernacle of our hearts.

Father, God,

Help us to hear and be swift to obey. Grant us the grace to acknowledge our shortcomings and the faith to believe that Christ atoned for them all.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Purpose

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;

Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:

Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.

Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.  ~~ 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15  (KJV)

In Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica, he warned them against idleness. What he referred to was the idleness of not earning your way in the world. Not doing the work of the Lord with the purpose He had in mind for your life.

He points to himself as the example of working while teaching. This was not because his teaching was not worthy of payment, but because he wanted to show them the industriousness that needs to accompany the teacher. It is not enough to sit idly by and just think in an ivory tower. One needs to have the experience of the work at hand to base one’s theories upon.

I don’t believe it is any accident that this warning immediately follows Paul’s dissertation on the second coming of Christ. Early church fathers knew and accepted the principle that our time is short (in light of eternity) and that we must be busy about the Lord’s work.

The book of Proverbs was well known in Paul’s time. I memorized Proverbs 29:18 in the KJV when I was a child.

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Sometimes it is a struggle to see the vision God has for your life. When the world seems to cave in upon you, when everything you thought you had is ripped away, when tragedy and destruction mark your path, you have great difficulty seeing a vision of your purpose in God’s world.Those minutes and hours, once spent, are irredeemable.

Our purpose is to serve the Lord and His church. For that we need all the time eternity can offer.

Father, God,

Teach us to number our days so that we may give a good account of them when Your Son returns. Grant that we may be useful in Your kingdom. Help us to see the vision You have for our lives.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Joshua Fought The Battle — Or Did He?

Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.

And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.

And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.

And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.

And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.  ~~  Joshua 6:1-5 (KJV)

We’ve all heard the song “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho…”

But today’s reading says otherwise. The battle was not Joshua’s, but the Lord’s. God gave specific instructions which had to be obeyed. Had Joshua not obeyed the Lord, the walls would not have collapsed.

So exactly what did they do? Well the army marched around the city once a day for seven days — without saying a word. The Ark of the Covenant went before them. And seven priests with trumpets (or shofar) led the Ark.

We have, in effect, the heralding trumpets (seven, the perfect number) leading the presence of the Lord as symbolized by the Ark of the Covenant, followed by the silent army. Imagine the wonder of the besieged citizens of Jericho.

This is not the kind of battle Jericho had prepared for. And this strange parade happens every day for six days. Then on the seventh, the parade circles the city seven times. The shofar sound a long, loud blast, and the army gives a great shout. The walls of the city tremble and collapse.

The army of Israel is, at that moment, the army of God. The city is theirs. But the battle was not Joshua’s, nor even the army’s. The battle was God’s and was won before it began through the obedience of Joshua and the children of Israel.

We need to remember that the battle belongs to God. Our part in this war is to heed the counsel of the Lord and obey.

So what battle are you facing today? What has the Lord told you about it? Have you sought His direction? The Lord’s victory becomes ours through obedience.

Father, God,

Help us to listen to Your voice and heed Your words about our lives. Stiffen our wills to be obedient to Your prompting. Help us to keep silent when You would have us to keep silent, and to shout when You would have us shout.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Sanctuary – God With Us

And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. ~~  Exodus 25:8 (KJV)

God is particular about the temple. Even if it is just a “tent of meeting” there are many details to be attended to. He gives specific instructions about the garb of the priests and the furnishings of the tent. Why is that?

A sanctuary is not just a place. It is a holy place, set apart. For the people of Moses, the tent of meeting was that place.

For the Christian, however, that sanctuary is to be his heart. We have been promised that God will dwell with us. But he won’t dwell in a hovel or a pigsty.

So how do we furnish this new tabernacle for the Lord?

We begin with an attitude of gratitude, being mindful of all the God has done for us. We move to obedience to His promptings as our response to His grace and generosity. And at the end, we find that we have a close fellowship with Him – the ultimate blessing.

In the interim, we clean house of all that would be offensive. We turn our backs on temptation. We squelch the spirit of envy or jealousy. We follow, to the best of our ability, the rules that came down from the mount. And we keep them locked into the very center of our of our hearts as the key to all that we do, or say, or think.

Father, God,

Help us to clean house. Shine the light of your word into the dark places of our hearts so that we may see our offenses and rid ourselves of them. Help us to make a sanctuary in our hearts for You.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Surface or Substance

Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:

And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God?

Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:

Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.

Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? 

~~  Joel 2:12-17 (KJV)

The book of Joel is a warning and a promise with a contingency. That contingency is here.

Rend your heart and not your garment.

We all know people whose faith is all show and no substance. And we all know people whose quiet faith is all substance and not show.

I remember a lady, a quiet lady, who was faithful at church – the quiet one in the corner. If there was work to be done in the kitchen, Ida was working. If something needed cleaning, Ida was cleaning. If someone needed prayer, Ida was praying. She filled every need she could see. She was the living example of “bloom where you are planted.”

Her motivation was simple fidelity to God. His church had a need; she had a willing spirit.

Our country is in terrible shape, morally, ethically, spiritually. We hear people lamenting and decrying all over the place. But what are we doing to correct this sad state of affairs?

All the high-faluting campaigns will be found virtually useless. The people of God must return to Him in prayer and obedience. Nothing man can think of on a philosophical or psychological or sociological basis will be the cure for our sick nation. The cure can only come from God, and it will only come as the people of God turn to Him and follow His edicts. All of them, without diluting the word of God to acquiesce to political correctness.

Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them:

We must rend our hearts to return to fidelity to God.

Father, God,

Help us to see our hearts as You see them. Keep us soft and responsive to Your promptings. Show us the way to lead our world to Your salvation.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

First published 3 December 2012

Purpose

And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.

Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:

Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. ~~ Daniel 1:5-8 (KJV)

The children of Judah were given entirely new names. Their original names referred to God.

  • Daniel – God is my judge
  • Hananiah. –  Yahweh is gracious
  • Mishael – who is like God
  • Azariah – God helps

Their new names referred to the Babylonian Gods.

  • Shadrach – command of Aku, Babylonian god of the Moon
  • Meshach – who is what Aku is
  • Abednego – servant of Nego, the Babylonian god of wisdom

The Babylonians were trying to erase all memory of their past lives in these captives.

But Daniel purposed in his heart . . .

Today, we need to emulate Daniel by purposing in our hearts. We have drifted like flotsam on the tides of culture letting them take us where they will. It is time to be decisive about what we will and won’t do, what we will and won’t  condone.

You will notice that Daniel didn’t make a fuss about his refusal to eat the king’s meat. He simply made a test bargain with the prince of the eunuchs. He went quietly about his business, never veering from his purpose. Would that we could be so purposeful.

Father, God,

Help us to be like Daniel, faithful to the last breath to You and Your commandments. Grant us the strength of will to continue, no matter what would try to distract us or defeat us. We thank You that You are our All in All.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.