Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Relationship’

Braggarts

Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.    ~~  Jeremiah 9:23-24 (KJV)

People are natural braggarts.

They love to brag about their accomplishments, their possessions, their skills, their powers. But these are not things to brag about. There will always be someone who has accomplished more in less time. Someone will possess more. Someone else will have greater skill in the same field. Another person will be more powerful.

All these things are vain and empty.

God asks us to be proud of only one thing: that we know Him.

So exactly Who is He?

He is the Creator of all things. He is compassionate and gracious. He is slow to anger. He is loving and faithful. His love is shown by His willingness to forgive. He is righteous. He punishes the guilty. He is just.

It is only when we have a close relationship with Him and understand His ways that we have anything to boast about.

If we have accomplished anything, it’s only because we’ve had His favor. Anything we have acquired to possess has been a gift from Him, because He has made it possible for us to acquire it.

Any skills we have are the gift of God for the natural talents He has given us. Without that innate ability we could not have acquired these skills.

Any power we may have is through His grace. Physical strength is His gift from our birth. Political strength is His gift of favor. Financial strength is His blessing.

None of the things people boast about are theirs to brag about. They are all gifts from God. He is the only thing worth bragging about.

Father, God,

Let our mouths be full of Your praise always. Let our speech reflect Your power and might and majesty. Help us to speak of You, not our selves, that we may draw all men unto You.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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Firmly Established

And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the Lord for ever. I Kings 2:45

Solomon’s kingdom was firmly established.

Solomon was a wise man by nature. There were factors in the kingdom that he had to eliminate. There were other things that he had to embrace.

This is true of those who would follow Jesus as well. When we become Christians, there are things we need to cut out of our lives. We break some habits that are counterproductive. We leave off socializing with people who would draw us away from our fidelity to Christ.

By the same token, there are new things that we need to add to our lives. There will be mentors and friends from this new way of living. We need to be open to the changes that God will make in our lives.

When something new comes along, we need to evaluate it in light of our relationship with Christ. If it helps us to stay true to our faith in Christ, it is something we need to adopt. If it draws us away from our faith in Christ, we need to cut it from our lives, lest we be drawn away from the faith we profess.

Father, God,

Grant us the wisdom to see what is beneficial and what is detrimental to our faith. Give us the courage to embrace the beneficial, and help us to rid our lives of the detrimental.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Knowledge and Wisdom

Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.
They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.
Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image:
And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.

There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.

Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?

Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flames of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.

He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.

And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.

Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.

~~ Daniel 3:8-30 (KJV)

The story of the fiery furnace has been quoted time and again. It’s told in Sunday School and in Summer Bible School frequently.

Our focus today, Nebuchadnezzar. He acknowledged the wisdom and knowledge of these Jewish slaves earlier by promoting them to positions of authority in his kingdom. But he was willing to destroy them because they would not worship him and his golden statue instead of their God.

When that failed, when they came through the fiery furnace untouched by flame or smoke, he acknowledged the power of their God.

Ah, but did he believe? Did he worship God. There is no evidence that he did.

We have knowledge of God today, but intellectual acceptance of the existence of God and His power are not enough. Daniel and his friends communed with God four times daily. They went on purpose to a quiet place where God was the only thing on their minds. The bowed in prayer and listened for His Word.

The key to heaven is a relationship with God. Not just a position in a hierarchy, but a relationship.

I have a friend that meets me for breakfast every Wednesday morning. We eat together; we pray together; we share the daily happenings in our lives.  When something good happens, we celebrate it. When something not so good happens, we pray over it. This is a relationship.

Do you meet God on a regular basis? Do you invite Him into your life every minute (even when you are scrubbing the toilet)?

Knowledge of God is a good thing, but it is not enough. A relationship with God gives you everything you will ever need.

Father, God,

Help us to understand that You are all we need. But we need You desperately. Give us the grace to acquire knowledge of you and even more grace to cultivate a relationship with you. Grant us the awareness of Your presence at every hour of our day. Let us be purposefully seeking you at all times.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Yahweh

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,  ~~  Genesis 2:4  (KJV)

The Lord God… the eternal, self-existent one.

As we have pondered on the names of God, a recurrent theme appears. God is first. We have being only in relationship to Him.

Our society today dotes on the concept of “self-esteem”. But really, we cannot esteem ourselves except in relationship to how God esteems us. Our worth is tied up in His knowledge of who we are.

So just who are we?  First we are His creation – created in His likeness.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  ~~  Genesis 1:26-27  (KJV)

Although we are created in the image of God, a picture of God, we are NOT God. And when we aspire to become God, all hell breaks loose.

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. ~~  Genesis 3:1-6

This is the first sin — disobedience. Disobedience always brings consequences. So does obedience, but that’s another story.

Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.  ~~ Genesis 3:23 (KJV)

And now, man no longer enjoys the intimate relationship he had with God. Rather than walking with God in the cool of the evening, man must search for Him, make special time for Him. This is now a broken relationship.

Ah, but there is reconciliation. Consider this. No matter how man has defiled himself, God still loves His creation.

We have the example of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-24. The father was looking for the errant young man to return. He saw him from afar off.

In just the same way, God is looking for His errant children to return to Him.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  ~~  John 3:16-17  (KJV)

God made provision for man’s reconciliation to Him, to be able to have intimate contact with Him once again, just as in the Garden of Eden.

Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we can have daily, hourly, minute-by-minute conversation with God. With God, the all-powerful, all-knowing self-existent creator of the universe!

How do we get back to that intimate relationship with God?

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  ~~ Romans 10: 9-10  (KJV)

So today, look at yourself. If you have believed and confessed, spend this day blessing the God who created you and gives you access to Himself.  If you have never believed, please look at the evidence – and believe. Confess it with your mouth – say it out loud, even if you are alone at the time. Then rejoice that God has re-entered your life intimately – a life He gave you in the beginning.

Father, God,

Help us to see who and what You are and all the benefits You have provided us. Grant us the grace and humility to come to you, proclaiming our faults and begging Your forgiveness. Let us accept with gratitude all that You have done for us, and give us the wisdom to see You for who You really are.

We ask in the precious name of Jesus.

Amen.

Foundations

 And God spake all these words, saying,
 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Exodus 20:1-17  (KJV)

As Christians, we need to remember the location of these verses. They are the foundational laws for the nation of Israel.

These ten laws are simple and straightforward. The first four deal with our relationship with God. The fifth deals with our relationship to our parents. And the final five deal with our relationships to society in general.

God didn’t give us these laws thinking we could keep them all. He knew better. But He did give them for a standard by which to measure our spiritual growth individually and the health of our society as a whole.

And they have become the foundation of our secular laws — except, of course, for the first four — or five — or six.

Lets see. We forgot the Sabbath and legally did away with the blue laws. We’ve never had a law about taking the Lord’s name in vain – nor about not having idols. And our society seems bent on removing all evidence of God from our daily business.

Then there’s number five about honoring our parents. But the government and the schools seem to want to take charge of the children, shouldering parents out of the way as not capable of teaching or training their own children.

Murder, theft and perjury are the only three left on the books. But perjury seems to be fading fast. People lie all the time with impunity.

So what are we to do? We must begin by starting to restore these laws, one at a time, in the order given. When God is on the throne all else must come into line.

Father, God,

Help us to put You on the throne in our lives. Teach us to pray for our country and its leaders so that we may become once more a truly Christian nation.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

This is a republication of a devotion first published on this blog 28 January 2009.
Thank you for your indulgence.

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.

 

Garment of Praise

Praise is one key to closeness with God.

In the Psalms we are told that God inhabits the praises of His people.

Psalm 22: 3: But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.   4: Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.  5: They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.—(KJV)

How better to draw close to God than to have Him living in your thoughts and speech at all times!

So how can we continually praise and draw close?

One method is to cultivate the habit of close observation. Look at the sunrise, the delicacy of a beta fish, the grandeur of a mountain, the vastness of the prairie or the power of an ocean. When we think about the infinite goodness of God and His precise attention to detail in all His creation, we cannot help seeing his power and generosity.

Today’s Christian is pulled a hundred different directions with the urgency of the “now” world. In our hurry up – go society, time for reflection and solitude is hard to find. But we can train our eyes to notice the small details that God put into this world, especially for our pleasure and edification — and I think, just a little to let us know He’s still here.

Father-God,

Help us to train our eyes to see You in all the little everyday things that touch our lives. Help us to recognize Your hand in our circumstances. Help us to cultivate the grateful heart that will sing Your praises as we learn to see more clearly.

In Jesus’ most precious name. Amen