Christian Devotions

Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Loving Paternal Advice

Read I Timothy Chapter 6

Here we have a father-figure, Paul, speaking to someone he loves as a son. The letter covers the gamut of Christian conduct and church structure. It contains encouragements and admonitions from Paul to Timothy.

I am sure that Timothy treasured this letter, read and re-read it over and over. And he probably shared it with the churches he was planting.

But I want to focus on the last two verses.

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.   ~~ 1 Timothy 6:20-21 (KJV)

When Paul says “keep that which is committed to thy trust,” he is talking about the gospel, the good news of Christ’s redemption of sinful man. Earlier in this letter, Paul has talked about himself as the worst of sinners, recalling how he once persecuted the church.

This good news that Christ can change the vilest sinner into the serving saint will change our lives, if we but hear and believe. What we believe shapes our actions, and our actions shape our lives.

Paul admonishes Timothy to “avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.” We have a lot of that going on in our lives right now. We have scientific theory being taught in our schools as if it were proven fact when it is in direct opposition to the Word of God.

There is an arrogance in the intellect that wants to believe that we can “know it all,” that we can wrap our puny finite minds around the knowledge and purposes of an infinite God. That’s never going to happen.

Paul’s concluding remark is “Grace be with you.” Grace, God’s endless mercy, God’s righteousness at Christ’s expense. Grace, you were bought with a price. You are not your own.

Father, God,

Help us to be faithful to Your word at all times. Keep us from wandering into endless philosophies and arguments about the faith. Remind us that Your word is the final word on everything.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

First published 17 December 2009 on Garment of Praise

The Lamp of the Lord

The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.  ~~  Proverbs 20:27 (KJV)

In Genesis, the opening of creation is God’s “let there be light.” it is not only the beginning of creation, it is the beginning of our understanding of ourselves.

When we allow God to shine the light of His love into the dark corners of our hearts, we learn what we’ve hidden there. Sometimes we find our sins – of omission or commission – that we’ve left un-repented. And seeing them, we are given the opportunity to repent and set things right.

Sometimes we find the dregs of discouragement or disillusionment. In the light of God’s love we can see them for what they are – temporary setbacks designed to grow our faith and patience muscles.

Occasionally we find the scars of hurts and injuries we’ve suffered in the past. Perhaps they are inflamed and swollen because we’ve not completely forgiven the offender, but simply stuffed the emotions. God’s light can help us to see the offender through His eyes – as a beloved child who has strayed.

When we cooperate with God’s investigation of our spirit, we are enriched. He doesn’t search our hearts to be informed. He searches our hearts to inform us.

Father, God,

Shine the light of Your love in my heart today. Help me to see those things that You would have me see and to correct those things You would have me correct.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

First Published 19 May 2009 in Garment of Praise.

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.

Plans

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  ~~  Jeremiah 29:11   (KJV)

God thinks about you and me. Just as you think about the people in your life, your children, your parents, your friends, your extended family. But God doesn’t wonder what you are up to. He knows. He sees.

God has plans for us, not just humankind in general, but for each and every one of us in particular. He has a vision for our lives – how we will live, what we will do, how it will all turn out.

If we can catch that vision and cooperate with it, our lives will be the best they can possibly be. Seeing God’s vision for our lives can help us to cooperate with his plans and keep us from spending time and energy questing blindly among what seem to be endless options.

It’s easy to say “catch the vision”. But exactly how do we do this?

  • Spend time with Him, quiet time. Listen as much as you talk.
  • Read the Word, letting it sink into your heart and mind.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you what He would have you know.
  • Pray for wisdom and discernment.

The more you hear His voice, the easier it will be to distinguish it from all the other voices in your life and in your head.

Father, God,

Help us to catch your vision for our lives. Grant that we may listen carefully for the promptings of your Holy Spirit and move in obedience to those promptings.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

The Awesome, Awful Truth

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  ~~  John 8:32  (KJV)

Freedom and truth are highly prized in this day – freedom more than truth, I fear.

But without truth, there is no freedom.

So how do we know the truth? There are some clues.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  ~~  John 14:6 (KJV)

Jesus came as savior and redeemer to give us direct access to a Holy God Who will not look upon sin without righteous anger.

I don’t know about you, but the righteous anger of God scares the pudding out of me.

Yes, God is a God of love. Yes, He loves all His creation. We have ample evidence of that.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  ~~  John 3:16-17  (KJV)

Jesus, Himself, is the evidence of God’s love.  Look at these verses carefully. When it says the world, it means every single person in the world, no exceptions.

The daughter who takes care of frailing parents; the man who lives around the street corner under a bridge; the members of the family in the big house on the hill; the loudmouthed gossip at the coffee shop;  all of them. Each and every one of them. And not just them.

He loves the victims of crime AND the perpetrators of those crimes. The saving grace of Jesus, our Redeemer, is open to them all.

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.  Romans 3:20-26  (KJV)

In the eyes of God, the person who steals a pen from a desk is just as guilty as the one who kills people at random. There is no  degree of sin. Sin is sin, period.

We are not ever going to be “good enough” for God. There is no way for us to earn His favor. Only Jesus Christ can redeem us for eternity with Him.

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.   ~~   Luke 13:3  (KJV

So what does it mean to repent?  Is it just being sorry we got caught in something shady? Is it just feeling bad about something we said or did?  Well, not really.  According to Merriam Webster:

Repent means — to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.

This requires a 180 degree change in thinking and behavior.

The other part is believing, believing that Jesus is Who He says He Is; believing that He is the means of our salvation; believing that obedience to His will is paramount in our lives.

Believing that He came for love of us. He loves us – each and every one of us – as if we were His only child.

The awful and awesome truth is that we make the choice. We determine our own eternity. We choose to believe – or we choose to not believe.

Please choose now. Time is running out.

Father, God,

Help us to see ourselves truthfully. Give us the wisdom to acknowledge our sins and the grace to repent of them. Fill us with a hunger to know You and let us empty ourselves of self so that Your Holy Spirit can take full possession.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

 

The Power of Words

A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.    Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. ~~ Proverbs 18:20, 21    (KJV)

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We all remember that old sing-song from childhood. But it is a lie. We have all been hurt by words at one time or another. And we have all probably said hurtful words to others as well.  Words have power. Look at the beginning of The Book. In Genesis we read “And God said….  ”    He created everything, beginning with light by speaking it forth.

And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. ~~Job 1:5   (KJV)

For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. ~~  Job 3:25   (KJV)

See the words of Job. He sacrificed for the well-being of his children. Then he confesses that he was afraid of losing them (and everything else). He didn’t know that the enemy was listening and taking all these things from him because God was allowing Satan to test Job’s faithfulness to God.

Then scripture tells us of Jesus:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   The same was in the beginning with God.   All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  John 1:1-3    (KJV)

And we are enjoined by Paul’s letter to the Ephesians….

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.  ~~  Ephesians 4:29   (KJV)

Words can teach and words minister grace.

What do our words do? Do they teach or minister grace? Do they express fear rather than faith? Let us watch our words today to see that they reflect only the will of God.

Father, God,

Help us to set a seal on our lips. Fill our hearts with Your words. Grant that our words may reflect only Your words and Your heart in this world. Use our mouths to edify and minister to Your world.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

~~  2 Corinthians: 1:3-4 (KJV)

“Who comforts us in all our troubles…”  This particular passage seems to expect that we will all have troubles in our lives. It states troubles as a foregone conclusion, not just a remote possibility.

So often we ask why. Why did this happen? What use are we to make of it? This verse tells us exactly why. We go through troubles in order to comfort others who are going through troubles.

Our God is a God of compassion – not pity – compassion. The root of compassion is patio, meaning to bear or suffer and the prefix com meaning together or with.

The current definition is:  sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

Yesterday, I visited the local funeral home to grieve with and offer comfort to a family who had lost an infant.

We do not understand why we lose infants and children. It matters not whether the immediate cause was disease, accident or murder. The loss of a child is the loss of a future, the loss of a hope.

There will forever be a blank, open, hurting space in our hearts. We do not “get over” this kind of loss. We simply learn to live in an altered universe.

The one constant in our universe is God. No matter the trouble, the hurt, the grief, He is always ready to hold us near to His heart. When bad things happen, we can always turn to Him. He is always there, loving us, bearing with us through everything.

Father, God,

Help us to remember that nothing happens to us without Your foreknowledge, that You are never surprised by circumstance. Remind us that You are our refuge and our strength at all times, no matter what happens to us and around us. Grant us the wisdom to turn to You, not trying to fix things by ourselves. Help us to understand Your love so that we can extend that same kind of love to others.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.