Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Good’

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.

Advertisements

Ripened Fruit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)

These fruits seem to me to fall into three categories as they relate to our relationships.  For example, love, joy and peace are truly interior to us. They are part of who we are. Despite any circumstance, we can choose to be loving, joyful and peaceable. These attitudes determine our outward actions at all times.

The next three, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, seem to be our actions toward others. Being patient, gentle and good to others are the mark of the mature Christian. There is no room here for loud voices, argument, and violence.

The last three, faith, meekness, temperance, seem to stem from our relationship with God. Faith is a gift of God’s grace. Meekness, also known as humility, stems from our understanding of our worth in the eyes of God.  Temperance is the result of our knowing that God is in control of circumstances and that we are not in control, therefore excessive responses are not only unnecessary, but also counter productive.

With this picture as our goal, we can only grow in faith and grace.

Father, God,

Help us to grow in these areas. Grant that we may always be loving, joyful and peaceable. Help us to be longsuffering, gentle and good.  Give us a measure of faith, meekness and temperance.

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.

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.

Nothing New

Focus verses: II Kings 19:20-34

In days of old I planned it, now I have brought it to pass… (v. 25)

This verse gave me much comfort in a time of bitter trial. It let me know that God had this event in mind before it happened.

Because God gave man a free will, many things happen that God would not have ordained. But God is all-knowing and is aware of the bad choices that man will make. Because He is aware, He makes provision for our frailties and turns the evil of this world into eventual good.

That is not to say that He needs the evil in this world to bring about good. He simply redeems the situation from it’s evil by using it for good. Joseph told his brothers who sold him into slavery that what they meant for evil, God used for good.

There is nothing new under the sun. The evils man has done in the past will be continued in the future. And the redemption that God has planned will continue as well. Our only hope is in Him and His provision for our well-being. God is never surprised.

Father, God,

Help us to put into perspective the temporal things that seem designed to destroy us. Reassure us that nothing can separate us from Your loving provision.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.