Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Disciples’

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

 

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Alone In Gethsemane

Focus verses: Matthew 26:36-56

There is quite a difference between corporate or public prayer and private prayer. Yesterday’s reading was Jesus’ priestly prayer with his disciples in the upper room.

Today’s reading is the lonely agony of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus knew what was in store for His earthly flesh. He knew that He would feel every stroke of the lash, every taunt and disrespectful pull at his beard, every thorn of that crown.

Here we see the human form of Jesus as nowhere else in scripture. There even seems to be a dichotomy between the flesh and the spirit. When He tells the disciples that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, I’m not sure He was referring only to them and their sleeping at post.

Corporate prayer is said aloud, not only for the ears of God, but also for the ears of the people around. Corporate prayer sometimes edifies or brings home a point that may not be obvious. It isn’t preaching, but it is a form of directed prayer that leads the hearer to a deeper truth.

Private prayer is a tete-a-tete with God. Sometimes it resembles Jacob’s wrestling match, and other times it is simply a quiet spirit waiting for instruction. But those alone times hold the greatest power to change our lives.

When the entire world is crashing down around our ears, those alone times give us the sensitive ear to hear the voice of God amidst the chaos. When an ocean of sorrow swells over us to drown us, that closeness with God buoys us above the raging waves. When we are besieged and beset upon by the world, we gain strength to stand under any assault from our times alone with God.

The powerful Christian, the strong Christian, has made time to be alone with God. He has made God the center of the universe and the remainder of his life revolves around that basic core.

We have been strengthened by the assurances of Jesus’ prayer in the upper room. Now we must wait and watch in Gethsemane. This private prayer time is as essential as breath to a Christian life.

Father, God,

Help us to lean upon Your assurances of Your love for us at all times. Draw us closer to You in Gethsemane. Grant that we may hear clearly and obey swiftly when You speak.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Truth Or Else

Focus verses: John 10:22-39

Imagine that you are living in Israel at the time of Christ. You have been taught that a Messiah will come to save His people. You have probably imagined what He will be like. But you didn’t imagine He would be an itinerant preacher who had no army, displayed no military power, and preached a law of love rather than revolution and conquest.

The person of Jesus was an affront to the rabbinical establishment and to the Pharisees in particular. He spoke with the crowds; he ate with sinners; he seemed to side with the Roman occupation.

In this passage, the Jews are gathered around Jesus asking Him point blank if He is the Messiah. Jesus said “I’ve told you before.” But He tells them again. And yet again, they try to stone Him.

Jesus is even more direct in speaking with the disciples. He tells them point blank that He and the Father are One.

These passages are anathema to those who try to say Jesus was a great teacher, but He was not God. If a teacher speaks other than the truth, he is not a great teacher. If he is a great teacher, one must believe what he says. You can’t have it both ways.

Lets put it in the form of a syllogism: Great teachers speak the truth; Jesus was a great teacher, therefore Jesus speaks the truth. In fact He says he is the truth.

We need to drop our preconceived notions and hear what He has to say.

Father, God,

Open our eyes to the truth. Tune our ears to hear Your voice over the din of this world. Keep us safely in Your fold as the sheep of Your pasture. We want to hear clearly so that we may do Your will.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Prince Of Peace

Focus verses: Matthew 10:34-39

Jesus has been called the Prince of Peace. But in this passage, He tells the disciples that peace is not His object here. He has been called to bring salvation to those of this world who will listen to His teaching and accept His gift.

To this day, there is dissension between the followers of Christ and the society of the world. Those who don’t know Jesus and His Word have a totally different standard of behavior.

Even now, there are efforts to silence the followers of Christ. We have petty government officials who believe that you cannot display a nativity scene on public property during the Christmas season. In some schools, teachers will not let students write or speak about anything to do with Christianity.

The children of Arizona are being allowed to decorate ornaments for the White House Christmas Tree this year because the blue spruce is coming from Arizona. But the Forest Service banned the inclusion of any references to Jesus or the religious roots of this commemoration.

This ban was lifted when the Alliance Defense Fund wrote a letter objecting to this restriction. The explanation of the ban is a bit murky and suspect in my opinion. If, however, you read the entire article in this link, you will find that this isn’t and hasn’t been the only effort to silence the voice of Christians.

The words of Micah are applicable to this day. The Christian is under attack from many directions. But the words of Jesus to His apostles are applicable for us. We are to be wise to the ways of the world without subscribing to them.

Like walking a tightrope, it will require balance and training. The Word of God will be our balancing pole, and our daily discipline in the Word is our practice.

Father, God,

Give us the wisdom and courage to speak when we see the Word of God being oppressed and muzzled. Put Your words in our mouths as we practice our obedience to You. Let our words be light to this darkened world.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.