Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Evil’

The Crux of the Matter

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.

They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

~~ Psalm 22:14-18 (KJV)

These five verses seem to bring us to the foot of the cross of Jesus. “I am poured out like water.+ He has become our drink offering, poured out for our sins.

We are taken through the physical traumas that the Lord experienced on the cross, through the throngs of evil men around Him, clear to the casting of lots for his garments.

God gave David a vision, the words of this psalm. A picture of our salvation.

Our salvation was sealed at the foot of the cross of Christ. Without it, we have no offering to God. Jesus became our sin offering so that we could come to God without any other mediator.

It is through Jesus, and Jesus only, that we can come to the Father with the assurance that He sees us only through the saving blood of Christ.

Father, God,

Help us to remember the price of our redemption. Make us mindful of the enormity of Your love for us and the sacrifice of Jesus. Keep us humble and unassuming when we come to You with our prayers.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

First published 9 May 2009 in Garment of Praise.
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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.

Tell Me Again When This Was Written

For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.
Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?  ~~  Malachi 2:16-17   (KJV)

The second chapter of the book of Malachi is a snapshot of our world today. It talks about three important things: the teaching of the priests, the sanctity of marriage, and fidelity to God’s standards.

Let us start with the priests – or the religious teachers. In Malachi’s prophecy, God chastises them for profaning the altar, from turning from God’s teachings, and causing many to stumble. Unfortunately, we have many religious leaders who do the same today. We have the hate mongers practicing their own brand of hate-filled religion in the name of the Lord. We have teachers who teach God’s love – but not His righteousness, power, or judgment. We have others who use the Lord’s house and attendance there to further their political or business ambitions.

We are profaning the altar of the Lord and leading others astray.

Then there is the state of marriage and the family.

Sometimes tragic situations come from marriages when the two parties do not worship the same God. God is not Allah, nor Buddah, nor any of the other names people give their deities. Intermarriage in this passage is talking about marriage between two people who believe in different gods. And it talks about breaking faith with the wife of your youth. You see, God instituted marriage. When a person breaks faith with the marriage, he is also breaking faith with God.

I think, however, that this last verse in the chapter may be the most pertinent. We weary the Lord when we call evil good, and good evil. But we have done just that. Beginning with the Humanist Manifesto, we have tried to displace God in our world and our lives. Our some of our educators are trained with those values, and many of our schoolrooms are filled with those ideas. We have tried to make man the measure of all things. It is false and wrong. And just like the original sin in the Garden of Eden, it springs from an arrogance of the intellect.

Lord, deliver us from such arrogance!

Father, God,

You chastise us with these words. Help us to look carefully at our lives and motives and judge them by these standards. Give us the wisdom and grace to correct our failings insofar as is within our capabilities, and to rely upon You to make up for our shortcomings.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

As We Look for Answers

I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. ~~Habakkuk 2:1-3

Habakkuk was contemporary with Jeremiah. Certainly he had heard Jeremiah’s prophesies. He questioned the Lord’s using the unrighteous nations to discipline the chosen people.

The first thing God tells him is to write this answer down so that it can be disseminated throughout the land. And a written prophesy is more permanent that a spoken one. People hear and forget. People can read and re-read what is written.

It is written so that we may be reading it now. What was true for Israel in that time is still true for us. Evil will not go forever unpunished. Injustice will be corrected. Wrongs will be righted.

Woe to the greedy. Woe to the power-mongers. Woe to the violent. Woe to the licentious. Woe is me!

Look at what is going on in our own country. Greed, usury, violence, licentiousness are rampant in our society. We idolize celebrity and follow gossip as if it were gospel. We indulge ourselves with leisure, entertainment, food and drink until we are insatiable, over weight and out of shape. The consequences of our self indulgence are upon us physically and morally.

We need to look at God’s answer to Habakkuk and change our course.

Father, God,

Help us to see evil as You see it. Let us recognize it for what it is and do all in our power to change it. Keep us ever faithful to You that we may not be led astray into evil doing.
In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Shun Troublemakers

Focus verses: Romans 16:17-20

After a long letter in which Paul has admonished the Romans to love one another and to live at peace with one another; to repay evil with good and to tend the needs of your enemies, he makes this startling statement:

Watch out for troublemakers (paraphrased according to Judith)

But just who are these troublemakers? They are members of the congregation. Were they pagans, the congregation would not be deceived by them. These are people to whom being a Christian is socially and politically advantageous.

And every congregation has them.

They are the people who ask what they can pray for you about and then spread your need in the form of gossip – under the guise of praying.

They are the people who offer to see to the treasury so that they can help determine how the monies are spent – coincidentally advantaging their own pet projects at the expense of others equally worthy.

They are the people who push the beliefs of their conscience onto others in areas where that belief is not critical to the life in Christ.

So what does Paul mean when he says: “Keep away from them”?

I think he means keep away from their influence. He has already said do good to those who do evil toward you. He has already said live at peace with all men. I think he means disregard their conversation and do not make their opinions part of your own.

Paul wants the Romans to be “wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” I believe the Amplified says it best.

If you are well-versed and wise about what is good, you will recognize evil without having to participate in it, either to find out if it is evil or to see how far you can go in deceiving people. This is one place where you do not want to push the envelope.

Father, God,

Put hedges around our hearts that we may not be led astray by silver-tongued self-promoters. Help us to remember that anyone whose speaking does not point to You and reflect exactly what You have said is probably a troublemaker for us. Give us the grace to deal with them kindly, but firmly.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

God’s Legal System

Focus verses: Exodus 23:1,2

God is particular about His people. He knows they need a framework within which to live and operate. So He sets out a system of laws and redresses.

Today, however, lets look at the one that says “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.”

We are swayed, today, too much by vocal minorities and silent majorities. We have crowds of people pushing God’s standards aside to do “what feels good.” And many of us who know the truth stand silently in the wings, watching the players making bad laws and perverting God’s truth.

God loves each sinner. But God still hates the sin that separates that individual from Him. Constant sin, unrepented, can eventually erect an eternal barrier between the sinner and the Lord.

And we stand silent yet in the name of tolerance and diversity. We must be accountable for our silence just as we would be for any other sin.

If My people who are called by My name will turn from their wicked ways and pray and seek My face, then will I hear from heaven and will heal their land. Our land needs healing. We are called to pray and turn from our wicked silence.

Father, God,
Give us the boldness to speak Your truth in all situations. Help us to speak with love to those who are defying Your laws. Grant us favor with those who most need to hear Your truth.
In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Shun Troublemakers

Focus verses: Romans 16:17-20

After a long letter in which Paul has admonished the Romans to love one another and to live at peace with one another; to repay evil with good and to tend the needs of your enemies, he makes this startling statement:

Watch out for troublemakers (paraphrased according to Judith)

But just who are these troublemakers? They are members of the congregation. Were they pagans, the congregation would not be deceived by them. These are people to whom being a Christian is socially and politically advantageous.

And every congregation has them.

They are the people who ask what they can pray for you about and then spread your need in the form of gossip – under the guise of praying.

They are the people who offer to see to the treasury so that they can help determine how the monies are spent – coincidentally advantaging their own pet projects at the expense of others equally worthy.

They are the people who push the beliefs of their conscience onto others in areas where that belief is not critical to the life in Christ.

So what does Paul mean when he says: “Keep away from them”?

I think he means keep away from their influence. He has already said do good to those who do evil toward you. He has already said live at peace with all men. I think he means disregard their conversation and do not make their opinions part of your own.

Paul wants the Romans to be “wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” I believe the Amplified says it best.

If you are well-versed and wise about what is good, you will recognize evil without having to participate in it, either to find out if it is evil or to see how far you can go in deceiving people. This is one place where you do not want to push the envelope.

Father, God,

Put hedges around our hearts that we may not be led astray by silver-tongued self-promoters. Help us to remember that anyone whose speaking does not point to You and reflect exactly what You have said is probably a troublemaker for us. Give us the grace to deal with them kindly, but firmly.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.