Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Death’

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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Lift My Soul

Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. ~~ Psalm 25:1 (KJV)

I lift up my soul.  What does that mean?  How do I lift my soul?

Well I’d first better figure out what my soul is. According to the dictionary it is…

  1. the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.
  2. the spiritual part of humans regarded in its moral aspect, or as believed to survive death and be subject to happiness or misery in a life to come: arguing the immortality of the soul.
  3. the disembodied spirit of a deceased person: He feared the soul of the deceased would haunt him.
  4.  the emotional part of human nature; the seat of the feelings or sentiments.
  5.  a human being; person.
  6. high-mindedness; noble warmth of feeling, spirit or courage, etc.
  7. the animating principle; the essential element or part of something

For our purposes here, numbers one, two, and seven should give us a good frame of reference.

Looking at number one we get the principle of life – spiritual as distinct from physical. So it’s not something I can pick up and hand over.

Number two gives us the idea of eternal because it survives physical death. The essence of who we are besides our physical description.

And number seven calls it the animating principle – that which moves us.  And names it the essential part of something – the essence of us.

Okay, just as an exercise, write down who you are without referring to another person or to a job or occupation. Take your time. It’s possible, but it’s difficult.

Here’s my try.

I’m wife..   Oops…  I can’t use that , or mother either.

I am a possession, bought with the price of Jesus’ blood, to be grafted into His family as an adopted person.

And I’ve failed again. We’re back to a relationship.

But this is the one relationship that counts. My relationship with God.

So we can turn our eyes toward Him; lift our voices in song to Him; raise our hands in praise to Him. And as we raise our hand, we can also life our souls – offering Him our souls in the sacrifice of praise.

So this day, let us resolve to keep our minds and hearts on him, to remember to thank Him and praise Him for all he is and has done for us.

Let us lift up our souls.

Father, God,

Keep us ever mindful of your loving presence in our lives. Grant us the wisdom to keep You foremost in our thoughts. Help us to life our souls to Your throne on a daily, hourly, basis, that we may be always gratefully thanking and praising You.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen

 

 

 

Faith and 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.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.   

Ephesians  2:8-10 ~~ (KJV)

Most people work to earn a living. In our capitalistic society, you gain money by providing either goods or services to someone who is willing to pay for them. It works fairly well in a free market.

Many religions – even some Christian sects – focus on works as a means of earning heaven. Were that so, one would be putting God under an obligation to pay for some service. Wait a minute!

What does God need – NEED – from us?

Absolutely nothing. There is no service we can do for God which He cannot accomplish without us. There is no physical thing we can provide which He does not already own. So how do we earn our place in heaven?

We don’t!

Our place in heaven is a gift from Jesus. He gave it because He loves us. He satisfied our debt and freed us to live without blood-guilt.

The only thing that can keep us from this blessed gift is us. We need to accept by faith that He has paid the price. That there is nothing we can do to earn a place in heaven.

By the same token, we need to serve God – not because He needs our service, but because we need to serve. Only by serving His purposes can we express our gratitude for what He has done for us.

What we do is the evidence of our faith, more evidence than what we say.

The point is that love and faith lead to behavior. If we love God, we behave in loving ways. If we love the world, we behave in selfish, thoughtless ways. Actions are evidence not origins, effects not causes.

Eternal Life is a gift, not a payment.

Father, God,

Give us the grace to accept Your gift of life by faith in You. Grant that we may be truly grateful for the sacrifice of Your Son and evidence the same by our daily walk. Help us to reflect the light of Your love in this world.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

 

What Makes You Special?

Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.  ~~  Exodus 31:13  [Emphasis mine]

Christians are both different and alike. We are like everyone else in that the same things that happen to others happen to us. We have illness, financial reverses, tragedy, death, loss, success, health and wealth by turns. Life is cyclic. We all know that old saw: what goes around comes around.

One of the things that makes us different, set apart, is how we go through the things that life hands us. When bad things happen, we are not destroyed. When good things happen, we don’t get all puffed up with self-importance.

Why is that? It is because the Lord is sanctifying us – setting us apart for His purposes.

Looking at the word “sanctify” we find this:

    1 :  to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use :  consecrate
    2 :  to free from sin :  purify
    3 a :  to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to
       b :  to give moral or social sanction to
    4 :  to make productive of holiness or piety <observe the day of the sabbath, to sanctify it — Deuteronomy 5:12 (Douay Version)>

Today is the day we remember how God arranged to sanctify us. Our freedom from sin, our purification, was purchased at a price. The price was the death of Jesus.  But not just His death.

Look at what God did. He voluntarily took a part of Himself, Jesus – the second person of the Trinity, and limited Himself to the shape and capabilities of any man.  Then He offered that part of Himself as the sacrifice to clean up our sins.

He was reviled, rejected, scorned, spit upon, scourged, and finally crucified and buried. He allowed all this to bring us to Himself – to set us apart as His children. That’s how much God loves each and every one of us.

While we remember His sacrifice, let us set this day apart for humble gratitude for His generosity and His love.

Father, God,

Keep us ever mindful of Your love for us. Help us always to know that we’ve been set apart for Your purposes. Give us the grace to remain faithful in all things.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Yes, He Notices — and Cares

Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.  Luke 12:5,6  (KJV)

This has been a hard year for one class in our small high school. They have lost two classmates, one to a vehicle accident, the other to a fire. A third classmate’s father died in a plane crash. All this happened within the space of two months.

When tragedies seem to come in bunches like this, it is very common to ask where God was in all this. Why did He let it happen?  Doesn’t he care?

We are not always privy to the thoughts of God. He tells us there are things we cannot fathom. So we do not know how and why these tragedies happen. Sometimes, it is the carelessness of a moment’s prank. Sometimes it’s a flaw in the wiring of an old house. Sometimes the enemy has something to do with it.

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.  Job 1:11  (KJV)

*******

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.
And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.  Job 1:6-12 (KJV)

We do not know all there is to know about life and death. We can only know that whatever happens, God is not surprised. He is here every moment. He will be with us every moment. He has prepared for the things we cannot see in advance.

When  my eldest daughter was about twelve, I let her and the six-year-old go to the grocery store about four blocks from our home. They had to cross a highway and would be out of sight for half an hour or so with the walk and the errand. My husband’s spinster aunt was aghast. Didn’t I care about the girls? There was so much that could happen. Wasn’t I afraid for them.

My response to her was that they were God’s daughters, lent to me for a season. That I could trust Him with them because I knew He loved them at least as much as I did.  And perhaps a smidgen more because of His larger capacity for love.  She just shook her head. And the girls ran the errand without incident.

It is not easy to walk through the loss of a child – no matter the age of that child. But we can take comfort knowing that God is always with our children and is so intimately entwined with their welfare that he numbers the hairs on their heads.

Father, God,

We do not know why and how some of these tragedies happen. But we know that You are always with Your children, every moment, no matter the physical circumstance. We thank You for Your love – for them and for us. Help us to model for the world the proper response for a Christian to have in times of crisis.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

In Memoriam

In Memoriam

Focus verses: Deuteronomy 34:10-12

The death of Moses is the end of an era for the children of Israel. Joshua has been installed as leader by the laying on of hands. But the verses we focus on today are Moses’ epitaph.

Imagine speaking face to face with God. At some point we will see Him face to face, and speak with Him one on one. But Moses did it while he was here. He was used mightily of God and showed God’s awesome and awful power to the Egyptians and Israelites alike.

We can come close to this kind of relationship with God. But it requires that we seek Him above all else, that all our desires and aspirations be laid on the altar of God’s will, that all our relationships be subject to His scrutiny, that all our actions align with His commandments.

Whew! That’s a tall order. And we are incapable of fulfilling it by ourselves. We need Him. We need His Holy Spirit to shine God’s light on our circumstances, so that we can see the world around us as He sees it.

So think about your own epitaph. Will they say of you that you knew God?

Father, God,

Help us to clear our minds and hearts of all the extraneous things that would pull our attention away from You. Grant us the singleness of mind and heart to seek You above all else.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.