Christian Devotions

Archive for the ‘Scripture’ Category

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.

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Whosoever

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)

Whosoever is the critical word in this passage. It is all encompassing. It excludes no one. It means any one at all.

That includes the child that you cannot seem to control, the co-worker who is undermining your reputation with the boss, the cranky neighbor who threatened to kill your dog if it barks one more time past 9:00 pm.

It also includes those who incite to riot, those who would destroy our society, those who plot against our nation.

For God so loved the world…

All the world, every whosoever in it, good, bad, or indifferent.

God loves them, every one individually. So if we are to be sons and daughters of God, we need to love them as well.

What?! You mean I must love this person I can’t stand to be in the same room with?  How do I do that?

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. ~~ Matthew 5:44-45 (KJV)

See also Luke 6:27-29

Things happen when a believing person prays. They may not be the things we thought would happen, but changes do come about.

The first thing that happens when we pray for someone is that we are changed.We begin to see this person with the eyes of the Father. Any anger and resentment we have against that person diminishes until it disappears.

Whether the person we pray for changes is not our business. Once we pray for that person, the results are in the hands of God.

God is a “whosoever” God. He excludes no one.  Each one excludes himself by disbelief.’

Father, God,

Help us to see all the whosoevers in this world as You see them, through Your eyes of love. Grant that we may pray for them to be wooed back into your family. Give us the grace to rejoice over the prodigal returned.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

And the Lord Gave…

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.

And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.

~~  Daniel 1:1-2  (KJV)

While the book of Daniel is a book of prophecy, both prophecy fulfilled and prophecy yet to be fulfilled, it is also a book of history.

These opening verses are a simple statement of historical fact.

It could be a newspaper account with most of the journalistic questions being answered in two sentences.

  • When: In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah
  • Who: Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon
  • Where: Jerusalem
  • What: Siege and fall

The “why” question is not answered here.

Or maybe it is. “the Lord gave…”

It is a simple statement of the Lord being involved in the everyday activities of men and nations.

More of the why is written in Jeremiah 25 where the reasons for this judgment upon the people of Judah are spelled out clearly. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, has spoken to the nation time after time, and the people have not heeded his words.

God is good enough to give us prophets who will help us to stay on track with His will.

We have them today.

Are we listening?

Father, God,

We sometimes forget that you are involved in the day to day affairs of men. Help us to remember that You are interested in the smallest detail of our personal and collective lives. Grant us the grace to see things from Your perspective. Give us hearts of flesh that we might love Your people as You love them. Stir in us the hunger to seek Your face above all else.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Lord of Hosts

And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there. ~~I Samuel 1:3 (KJV)

Jehovah Sabaoth is a name of God used more than 200 times in the bible. It is so easy for us to get caught up in the fact that God is personal to each of us that we forget His majesty and power.  Translating the Hebrew, we see that the Eternal, Everlasting God commands “masses of people arrayed as for a battle.”  Those are the hosts.

This name of God appears only once in the New Testament:

Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.  ~~ James 5:4 (KJV)

How interesting that it is connected with the pleas of the downtrodden – the underdogs.

I would not like to be among those who kept back the hire of the reapers in this instance. The Lord of Hosts is not a person that I would like to tangle with from the other side of the dispute.

But look at the comfort for the reapers. They are assured that the Lord of Hosts is on their side, that He cares about them, and that He will ultimately make things right.

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. ~~ Romans 12:19

We do well to remember that the Lord we serve is a loving, comforting, personal God as well as the majestic Lord and Commander of multitudes of both people and angels.

We do well to remember that when we think to take things into our own hands, we overstep our boundaries.

Father, God,

Help us to remember who You are in all of your majesty. Remind us that if You are for us, no power in the universe can stand against us. Not that we are able, but that You will undertake for us. Accept our gratitude for Who and What You are.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

  Join me as we worship His Majesty!

Making Things Right

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord.
Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.
And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness. ~~ Jeremiah 23:1-6

Reading this passage, I am struck by its similarity to our times.  We have preachers and teachers who dilute the scriptures and preach a social gospel which is not the word of God. Many of our traditional congregations are dwindling because our church leaders want to be popular in order to garner the gifts of the congregation.

Other congregations are springing up – some of which are true to the Word and others are true to the quest for money.

When we water down the words of God, we are feeding the flock plastic Easter grass, not the nourishing fresh green shoots of a verdant pasture. The Lord promises to let us reap the consequences of our actions. “…behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.

There are multiple adages that echo this truth. “What goes around comes around.” “You reap what you sow, more than you sow, and later than you sow.” “Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” “Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment.”

We know this truth, but we behave as if it weren’t so.

Do not despair. God has promised a faithful remnant. We may have to endure many faithless shepherds and dedicated charlatans, but there is a Redeemer.  We know Him as Jesus Christ. We just celebrated His victory over death and destruction. We have the benefit of the Paraclete that He has sent to dwell with us personally.

If we listen to the whispers of that Comforter, examine everything in the light of God’s word, and obey His directions from the Scriptures, we can be sure that we are in God’s will, doing His work, and reaping His rewards for the faithful.

The word “righteousness” as used in our text for today carries the meanings of justice, virtue and prosperity. Can we be surprised that justice and virtue lead to prosperity?  I think not.

God is clear in His directions. In His world there are no shades of gray. It’s yes or no, right or wrong. Our choice is also clear. But it is our choice to make. Will we be part of His faithful remnant?

Father, God,

Even as You give us clear choices, help us to make the right decisions. We would hear Your voice only. Grant that we may filter out the din and cacophony of this world and enter into your quiet place where we can hear Your words distinctly.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen

Who’s to Judge?

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. ~~Matthew 7:1-5 (KJV)

If you have walked any time in the Christian life, you’ve heard this scripture.  But there is more here than meets the eye.  Read how The Message paraphrases it.

Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

We need to be very careful when judging others. We may not have all the facts.  Lori Hatcher makes that point in her recent blog post entitled Don’t Judge My Liquor Boxes.

This does not mean, however, that we are to suspend all judgment. It merely means that we are to quit judging others. Judging right from wrong helps keep us – that’s US in capital letters – on track.

Our measuring tape is the Bible. It sets forth right and wrong in clear and absolute terms. Do we have the moxie to uphold these Biblical standards? I hope so.

Father, God,

Help us to see the difference between judging and being judgmental. Help us to see right and wrong in actions without ascribing fault to others. Grant us wisdom with our knowledge.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Word

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)

In most cases, it’s better to begin at the beginning.  So we start at the beginning of the Gospel of John. We start with the Word. In this case, the Word refers to Jesus.

Jesus was in the beginning with God the Father. Equal with the Father in creative power, there was never a time when He didn’t exist.  As we anticipate the celebration of His incarnation, we need to remember that Jesus is more than the baby in the manger. He is eternal. There was never a time when he didn’t exist.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  ~~ Genesis 1:1-3

The Word, the Word of God, the Bible, Scripture. This is our point of contact  with Jesus. We have His words. As we study them, meditate on them, commit them to memory, we come closer to the mind of Christ.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; ~~ 2 Corinthians 10:5

As we line up our thoughts and actions with the mind of Christ, we find a peace that defies circumstance. In a world of violence, we can rest in God’s sovereignty. Nothing happens without His knowledge.

Our vision is generally limited to this temporal world. He sees things in the eternal. There is no tragedy in this life that He cannot redeem in the eternal. We may not see that redemption this side of heaven, but it’s there none-the-less.  And it can be a comfort if we let it.

Father, God,

Help us to study Your Word in order to understand Your thoughts. Grant us the vision to see and the hearts to accept what You would teach us of patience and eternity.  Help us to focus on the Word as we anticipate celebrating the incarnation of Jesus.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.