Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Hell’

Decisions

“But as for you who forsake the Lord
and forget my holy mountain,
who spread a table for Fortune
and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny,

I will destine you for the sword,
and all of you will fall in the slaughter;
for I called but you did not answer,
I spoke but you did not listen.
You did evil in my sight
and chose what displeases me.”

Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“My servants will eat,
but you will go hungry;
my servants will drink,
but you will go thirsty;
my servants will rejoice,
but you will be put to shame.

My servants will sing
out of the joy of their hearts,
but you will cry out
from anguish of heart
and wail in brokenness of spirit.

You will leave your name
for my chosen ones to use in their curses;
the Sovereign Lord will put you to death,
but to his servants he will give another name.

Whoever invokes a blessing in the land
will do so by the one true God;
whoever takes an oath in the land
will swear by the one true God.
For the past troubles will be forgotten
and hidden from my eyes.

~~ Isaiah 65:11-16 (NIV)

In today’s world we talk about a God of love. And God is that. He surely is love. But He is also a God of wrath.

As you read these verses, you can’t help feeling sorry for those who forsake the Lord. And it seems a terribly harsh ending.

Look at it carefully, however. God gave man a free will. Man can choose whether he wants God as a part of his life or not. If he chooses to have God in his life, God will honor that. As man repents his wrongdoings, God is merciful and loving and swift to forgive. Like a doting parent, He spoils us and gives us what we want.

The people to whom God is speaking here are those who decided they wanted no part of God in their lives. And again, like a doting parent, God is letting them have their own way. He will not inflict Himself on them in life. Nor will He presume the keep them in His presence after death.

There are only two places to live in this universe. One is in the presence of God and the other is away from God. One is heaven, the other is hell. We choose. And God honors our choice because he gave man a free will.

If we choose to live in the presence of God, we can have a piece of heaven on earth. If we choose the other, well….

Father, God,

Help us to choose wisely. Keep us ever mindful of Your presence and Your will. Grant that we may always be obedient to Your promptings and swift to obey. Deliver us from waywardness.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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Look Deeper

And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.

And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,

Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:

Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.

And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.

But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,

And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.

For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.

And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.

And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.

Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.

And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.

And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.

And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.

And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.

And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.

And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.

Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.

And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.  ~~  Mark 5:1-20

In our modern and “enlightened” age, we tend not to think in terms of spirits. Anything which has to do with aberrant behavior must be some form of psychosis or chemical unbalance that we can treat with counseling or medication.

But if the Bible is true, it is all true. That includes this story about the Gerasene. The man was not psychotic or chemically unbalanced. He was demon-possessed.

There are such things as demons. There is spiritual warfare. We need to be aware that we have a spiritual enemy who seeks our eternal destruction.

If we believe in God, we must believe that the devil exists. We see him in conversation with Eve in Genesis 3.

We are told of his fall in Isaiah 14.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.  ~~  Isaiah 14:12-15

There are multiple references to Satan in the New Testament. And the entire Book of Job is a chronicle of spiritual warfare.

It is part of Satan’s first lie in the Garden of Eden, that mankind can know all things, find answers comprehensible to the finite mind for all questions, discover cures to all diseases and maladies.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. ~~ Genesis 3:1-7

When we buy into this arrogance of the intellect, we fall directly into the enemy’s hands.

Not everything is part of our physical, tangible world. There is a spiritual plane of which we know far too little. But all we need to know of it is contained in the Bible. We’ll not find it in psychology texts. Nor will we find beneficial information in books of new age spirituality.

Our hope and our confidence comes from the fact that God is Lord of the spiritual realm, just as He is Creator and Lord of this world. When we serve Him, when we rely solely on Him, He will preserve us from the wiles of the enemy.

Father, God,

Stop our ears from hearing the enticements of the enemy. Shield our eyes from the lust to which he would tempt us – whatever form it may take. Fill our eyes and ears and hearts with Your Holy Spirit so that there is no room for anything else.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Cause And Promise

Focus verses: Jeremiah 16:1-21

God’s judgment on the nation seems harsh and His separation of Jeremiah from all society seems even harsher. Jeremiah is not to marry, not to enter a house of mourning, not to enter a house of celebration.

And God tells Jeremiah the reasons why this disaster is coming upon the land. It is because the fathers of this generation were unfaithful to the Lord and followed after idols. But more than that, it is because this generation is even more wicked, following after the stubbornness of their own hearts.

God tells Jeremiah that He will scatter the nation to various lands, chiefly to the north (Babylon). But there will come a time when He will not be known as the God who restored Israel from Egypt, but as the God who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where He had banished them. He promises to restore them to the land He gave their forefathers.

Actions have consequences. And like any good parent, God will not stand between His children and the consequences of their own actions. Israel has separated itself from the Lord time and again. Her momentary repentances and fidelities have been many – and short lived. She always goes back to her own devices, following the dictates of the human heart without regard for God and His laws. This fickleness has brought on the diaspora.

When people ask about how a loving God can consign anyone to hell, they are missing the point. God does not consign people to hell. He lets them go their own way. People make the choice, not God.

There are only two places to live in this universe. One is in the presence of God. The other is away from God. The first is heaven; the second is hell.

If you choose to live in the presence of God, acknowledging His sovereignty over all things, you can live in a little piece of heaven on earth. He will honor your choice, and you will have the fullness of His presence in heaven for eternity.

If you choose to live without regard for God, ignoring Him at every turn, He will not push Himself on you in eternity. If you have chosen to live absent of God on this earth, He will honor your choice in eternity. You will have chosen hell over heaven.

Father, God,

Thank You for making it clear that Your judgments are just and righteous. Thank You for promising to restore the remnant. Help us to remain part of Your faithful remnant.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

God Of Wrath

Focus verses: Isaiah 65:11-16

In today’s world we talk about a God of love. And God is that. He surely is love. But He is also a God of wrath.

As you read these verses, you can’t help feeling sorry for those who forsake the Lord. And it seems a terribly harsh ending.

Look at it carefully, however. God gave man a free will. Man can choose whether he wants God as a part of his life or not. If he chooses to have God in his life, God will honor that. As man repents his wrongdoings, God is merciful and loving and swift to forgive. Like a doting parent, He spoils us and gives us what we want.

The people to whom God is speaking here are those who decided they wanted no part of God in their lives. And again, like a doting parent, God is letting them have their own way. He will not inflict Himself on them in life. Nor will He presume the keep them in His presence after death.

There are only two places to live in this universe. One is in the presence of God and the other is away from God. One is heaven, the other is hell. We choose. And God honors our choice because he gave man a free will.

If we choose to live in the presence of God, we can have a piece of heaven on earth. If we choose the other, well….

Father, God,

Help us to choose wisely. Keep us ever mindful of Your presence and Your will. Grant that we may be ever obedient to Your promptings and swift to obey. Deliver us from waywardness.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Who Is Like You

Focus verses: Micah 7:14-20

Despite the sins of the people. God is eager to forgive as soon as they return to Him. His anger does not burn forever. He is a merciful God.

That does not mean that we can presume upon His mercy. We cannot assume that He will forgive the unrepentant. We have seen the destruction of the wicked.

Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment. The reward of fidelity and obedience to God is His favor. The reward of disobedience and faithlessness is separation from God.

“Who is knocking at the door of my heart?”
Pleading, “A lonely little sin.”
“Slip in” we whisper.
And all of hell is in!

Disobedience and faithlessness is sin. And it doesn’t matter if the sin is a big one or a little one. Sin is sin, and it’s always bad.

But repentance — a real change of heart and action — appeal to God’s mercy and forgiveness.

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9 – paraphrased by me)

No one is like God. We have a hard time forgiving even the repentant. But God is eager to forgive at the first sign of repentance.

Father, God,

Show us Your mercy. Help us to realize the all-or-nothing-ness of obedience and faithfulness. Keep us faithful to you. And grant us the heart to forgive others as You have forgiven us.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Mildew

Focus verses: Leviticus 14:33-42

God’s regulations about health are amazing! But I don’t know why I should be surprised. He created us and knows all that we need, all that we might come up against, and all that might harm us.

Mildew is a creeping thing. It starts with a little bit of moisture and spreads until it can literally ruin a whole building, contaminating everyone who enters.

Sin is much like that. It can start with the smallest infraction and move until it consumes the whole of our lives.

A much wiser man than I once wrote:

“Who is that knocking at the door of my soul?”
(in a beseeching whisper) “A lonely little sin.”
“Slip in” we answer in an undertone.
And all Hell is in!

Father, God,

Help us to recognize the beseeching whisper of that lonely little sin. Give us the wisdom to deny him entrance to our hearts. And grant us the strength to stand against the wiles of evil.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.