Christian Devotions

Braggarts

Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.    ~~  Jeremiah 9:23-24 (KJV)

People are natural braggarts.

They love to brag about their accomplishments, their possessions, their skills, their powers. But these are not things to brag about. There will always be someone who has accomplished more in less time. Someone will possess more. Someone else will have greater skill in the same field. Another person will be more powerful.

All these things are vain and empty.

God asks us to be proud of only one thing: that we know Him.

So exactly Who is He?

He is the Creator of all things. He is compassionate and gracious. He is slow to anger. He is loving and faithful. His love is shown by His willingness to forgive. He is righteous. He punishes the guilty. He is just.

It is only when we have a close relationship with Him and understand His ways that we have anything to boast about.

If we have accomplished anything, it’s only because we’ve had His favor. Anything we have acquired to possess has been a gift from Him, because He has made it possible for us to acquire it.

Any skills we have are the gift of God for the natural talents He has given us. Without that innate ability we could not have acquired these skills.

Any power we may have is through His grace. Physical strength is His gift from our birth. Political strength is His gift of favor. Financial strength is His blessing.

None of the things people boast about are theirs to brag about. They are all gifts from God. He is the only thing worth bragging about.

Father, God,

Let our mouths be full of Your praise always. Let our speech reflect Your power and might and majesty. Help us to speak of You, not our selves, that we may draw all men unto You.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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Presence

And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;

~~ Genesis 9:9 (KJV)

Beginning in Genesis, we see God deigning to communicate with man, making promises to man. The passage above is quoted from right after the flood when God promises never to flood the earth again.

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. ~~ Matthew 28:20 (KJV)

And the promise is found again in Jesus’ words to the disciples. He gives them the great commission and then a promise “lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

This is not a new concept.

That we should establish ourselves in a sense of GOD’s Presence, by continually conversing with Him. That it was a shameful thing to quit His conversation, to think of trifles and fooleries.  —  Brother Lawrence

But even before that, before Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, we read…

And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.    ~~  Genesis 3:8 (KJV)

It is said so matter-of-factly that we are led to believe this was a common occurrence. That God walked in the garden regularly.

How many of us are constantly aware of the presence of God in our lives? Whether we are sitting in church or scrubbing the toilet, God is present – with us.

Does this thought comfort you or scare you?

In one way, it scares the puddin’ out of me.

God is a witness to everything I do, or think, or say. Therefore I must be very careful of my thoughts, words, and deeds. They must never disgrace the glory of God. They must never reflect badly on the name of Christ.

Every Christian is commissioned to be a witness for Christ.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.  ~~ Acts 1:8 (KJV)

That’s not a part time job. It’s 24 – 7 – 365. An awesome responsibility!

But the thought of God present with me at all times comforts me as well.

It comforts me when I am uncertain what to do next. I can simply breathe a prayer for guidance and be led in the right direction or be content to stay still awaiting his nudge.

When things of this world look terribly wrong, it comforts me to know that He is not surprised by this circumstance or happening. He was there before it, and He has a plan to get me through it – no matter how terrible or devastating it may look on the surface.

The presence of God is an awesome thing. It’s reassuring to know that I have His constant companionship. It makes anything the world or the enemy can throw at me of no consequence because my God is bigger than that.

And it’s humbling, too. Why would a God so big He can create with just a word spend time with me, love me as if I were His only child? Amazing!

Neither disease, nor violence, nor natural disaster can make me fear for my life. God knew my last breath before I took the first one. My life is safe in His hands.

So is yours.

Father, God,

Help us to be more aware of Your presence – at all times, in all circumstances. Give us the grace to look to you rather than the happenings of this world. Thank You for loving us as you do. Let us never bring shame to the name of Christ.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen

 

Good Works

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast. ~~ Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)

Salvation is simple – not easy – but simple.  Sometimes a simple truth can be brought home by something that passes for a joke.  I was reminded of that by Mikey’s Funnies.

A man dies. Of course, St. Peter meets him at the Pearly Gates.

St. Peter says, “Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in.”

“Okay,” the man says, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart.”

“That’s wonderful,” says St. Peter, “that’s worth three points!”

“Three points?” he says. “Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service.”

“Terrific!” says St. Peter. “That’s certainly worth a point.”

“One point!?!! I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans.”

“Fantastic, that’s good for two more points,” he says.

“Two points!?!!” Exasperated, the man cries, “At this rate it’ll just be by the grace of God that I ever get into heaven.”

“Bingo, 100 points! Come on in!”

Trying to work our way into heaven is an exercise in futility. Nothing we can do will earn us a place in heaven. God has clearly stated how we can get there.

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)

Believe is the operative word here. Believe, trust, have faith in Jesus. Take Him at His word.

But what about good works?  Aren’t we to do them?

Of course, we are to do good works. But those works are our “thank you” notes to God for what He has done for us. They are not our tickets to heaven.

Today, take a moment to thank God for His gift of salvation. Or if you are not sure about your salvation, take a few minutes to read John 3:16-17.

Then learn the answer to the one question you need to be able to answer correctly.

He (Jesus) saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. ~~ Matthew 16:15-16

Simon Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples. He followed Jesus daily, listening to His words, watching His actions. He would have gone wherever Jesus told Him to go.

If we can follow Simon Peter’s example, knowing who Jesus is, doing His bidding at all times, we will have grasped the gift of God’s grace. The grace that leads to heaven.

Father, God,

Grant us the wisdom to see your gift of grace, the humility to acknowledge our need, the faith to believe Your word, and the persistence to follow at all times.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

Integrity

He that walketh uprightly walketh surely:

but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.

~~~ Proverbs 10:9 (KJV)

Eventually everything comes to light. We see this everyday in the headlines. People’s underhanded dealings eventually are exposed to public scrutiny.

This political bigwig has taken money from special interest groups.

That public figure has had an illicit affair and fathered a child.

A financial officer is caught with his hand in the till.

All these people thought they could engage in illicit activity and remain anonymous. No one would ever find out. They were deceiving themselves more than anyone else.

God has promised that the truth will come out. We just read it here. We can be sure that if the Lord says it, it is true. Eventually, all will be made known. That’s a scary thought if you’ve been trying to hide things.

Father, God,

Help us to walk in integrity. Keep us from deceptive practices and thoughts, and let us become the righteous people you intended for us to be.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Identity

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  ~~ Genesis 1:26-27  (KJV)

Do you really know who you are? The verse above says we were created in the image of God.  We are to have dominion, to be in charge of the earth. But we are not God.

We have limitations, limitations set by God. But we have an enemy who will continually try to get us to violate those limitations. He is always questioning us “Did God really say…?”  (Genesis 3:1)

That question is designed to make us dissatisfied with who we are. And the enemy is cunning. He will pose that question in whatever form he thinks will prod us to question God.

The enemy was successful in getting Adam and Eve to question God and to violate the stipulation God had set for them. That violation created a separation between man and God.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

Have you ever been homesick? Lonely for someone absent? Then you know what that hunger is. There is something missing – a part of you that is missing.

We are created with a God-shaped hole in our hearts. We run after things to fill that hole, but nothing satisfies exactly. Oh, we can rationalize “if I just had a little more money” – “if my family loved me more” –  “if I had just a little more success” – “if I could have one more drink” – “if I could win (fill in the blank)” – “if…  if…  if…”

None of those things will really satisfy. Only a restored relationship with God can ease that hunger. In His generosity, God has made a way for us to bridge that separation.

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)

We don’t need to let the enemy steal our identity. God has given us a path to friendship with Him again.

Father, God,

Help us to see the wiles of the enemy for what they are – the desperate ploys of a vanquished foe. Remind us of who we are and Whose we are. Grant that we may seek to fill our lives only with You, not with empty things.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

 

 

Uncertainty…

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

~~ Luke 12:16-20 (KJV)

My sainted grandmother used to say “man proposes; God disposes”. I didn’t realize that she was quoting Thomas a Kempis from his Of the Imitation of Christ. And he took his cue from Proverbs 19:21.

There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.  (KJV)

Translated by The Living Bible, it becomes:

Man proposes, but God disposes.

Life is uncertain. The man in our parable is planning to live a long time, so he laid up treasure to support himself through many years. But he will not live to enjoy those treasures because he will die that very night.

God knows our last breath before we take the first one. I find that comforting. He knows; I don’t have to know. I merely have to trust Him.

I was forcibly reminded of that a few weeks ago. A lovely young woman, the age of my daughters, died suddenly in her sleep. She was in the prime of her life, doing what she wanted to do, being successful at her endeavors. She had accomplished much at work that day. And she is gone – in the blink of an eye.

I’m very glad that her last day at work was successful. But I’m sorry that I never talked with her about her relationship with the Lord. I assumed from what I saw in her, but I don’t know.

Do you know that if this were your last breath, you would immediately be present with the Lord in Paradise?  The thief on the cross knew. Jesus told him so. (Luke 23:32-43)

You can be sure of your eternal home.

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)

It’s very simple. Just follow the Roman Road as taught by David Jeremiah.

Father, God,

I pray for everyone who reads this post that they may see and recognize their need for a Savior, that they may read the texts and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that they may come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus, and that they may desire to follow Him forever.

In Jesus’ most precious name, we pray.

Amen.

 

 

Today’s reading is all about speech, appropriate speech and inappropriate speech. The tongue is a small member of the body, but it has great power.

My son, if your heart is wise,
then my heart will be glad,
my inmost being will rejoice
when your lips speak what is right.  ~~  Proverbs 18:20 (NIV)

Your lips can speak foolishness bringing all kinds of adverse consequences. If you speak wickedness many ills can befall you including the destruction of the city.

Flattery, slander, gossip, hurtful talk, quarreling, lying, all are condemned in today’s reading. How many of us have said something in the heat of a moment that we wished we could “un-say.”

It doesn’t happen. Once a word is spoken and heard, it is forever in the memory of the hearer.

In today’s world, our words have become filled with poison of all kinds. Then the words escalate to violence. And it all comes from venom in the heart.

The closing verse for today says:

The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.  ~~  Proverbs 18:21  (NIV)

My grandmother used to say: “Let your words be sweet and tender; you never know when you may have to eat them.”

Father, God,

Grant us the wisdom to speak only those things which are healing, uplifting, beautiful, profitable, honorable, and reverent. Help us to tame the wild tongue.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen