LIVING IN THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST!

I once received a book titled: Walking in the footsteps of Christ. It was a guide book for traveling in the land upon which Christ walked on earth. It is still my plan one day soon to take a journey to see those locations but until then it is more important to live a life such as He did.

The virtues of Christ are illustrated clearly beginning with His gentle nature. This is important to Christ as He expresses it in Matthew 11:29 when offering an invitation to come to Him. In a world of loud voices and behavior this type of available friendship is welcome indeed.

We also must be willing to deny ourselves that which is (we think) important to our life. It may be as simple as denying sleep or what we consider fun in order to join others in worship (Matthew 16:24), or it may be the ultimate seen in becoming a missionary.

The central focus on Christ is His nature of love (John 13:34). How wonderful our world would be if we loved one another as much as Christ loved us. A part of that love is seen in obedience most especially in the keeping of the commandments as best as we are able (John 15:10). In a secular world understanding obedience seems to be ever more absent. Obedience bespeaks submission but our human nature and its desires does not always allow for this or so it seems.

Christ as our example was benevolent as well (2 Corinthians 8:9). The idea of being charitable to others no matter their needs is commanded and indeed there is great joy to be found in being charitable. No one does it better today than those who call themselves Christian.

All these and more put together bespeak humility which is what God desires. Lack of humility was the downfall of mankind and the beginning of satan’s authority on earth. This requires that we have a forgiving nature. It is likely when our life changes as above we will find ourselves suffering wrongfully but we need to wear that with honor for we know Who we serve. Carrying all this out we will become pure as God desires (1 John 3:3). This is what God demands if we are LIVING IN THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: True spiritual enlightenment happens when everyone is living in the example of Christ.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 John 3:3 “becoming pure”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord purify me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are you willing to deny yourself to show your faith?
  2. What examples of self-denial have you experienced?
  3. Do you love all others?
  4. Have you ever suffered wrongfully?

ARE THE END TIMES ALREADY HERE?

One way to know if the end times are already here or coming quickly is because of ‘deception’. To understand how deception fits into end time theology we need to first understand it and that begins by knowing it is a tool of the wicked. It has no political parties. It covers the broad spectrum of life. Those who fall into this as satan would hope devise means to sir up situations creating chaos where God intended peace (Psalm 35:20). It is seen in those who speak peace yet in there hearts they know they are lying (Jeremiah 9:8).

In Romans 1:29-31 we have a list of sins mankind has invented for ourselves and once we start on that downward slide of which deception is a part it starts moving rapidly. Evil will grow worse and worse as 2 Timothy 3:13 tells us. Paul was concerned that this would happen in the church of his day as it is in our time as well. That satan would make himself look like an angel of light and cause believers to think what once was evil is now good (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Paul did not speak well of apostates and tells their end will be everlasting destruction. It would be wise for us to choose our Christian leadership carefully.

Deceiving spirits are a sign of end times (1 Timothy 4:1-2). It may well be that ‘the church’ is indicating this as non-Christian religions including secularism, humanism and even liberal Christianity dismiss the fundamental truths of God’s Word. The time has come that we need to test the spirits to see if they are from God (1 John 4:1-6) or not. We need to understand that not every inner feeling is from God. Many come out of our own wishes and fears. If we do so we will be able to discern if what we are hearing is from an anti-christ or not. If it is as so many people seem to be listening to and deceived by then perhaps THE END TIMES ARE ALREADY HERE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Deceit destroys until the coming of the Day of the Lord.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 John 4:1 “test the spirits you hear”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I desire to hear only You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Where does deception cause chaos where peace was intended?
  2. What examples exist of the church teaching as good what was once considered evil and how is this apostasy?
  3. Are deceiving spirits more evident in the faith community than in the past?
  4. What are the fundamental truths of God’s Word?

A TREE IS FED BY ITS ROOTS!

We live in a most unique world and the more we distance ourselves from God’s Word as our standard by which to live the ‘crazier’ this world becomes. I say this because it reflects on how mankind views sin.

Growing up in the church my understanding was and still is quite simple. Male and Female were created perfect in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). The problem was that mankind through free will would throw this perfect life away beginning in a simple decision by a single man Adam (Romans 5:12). At that point of eating forbidden fruit righteousness was given up for condemnation. Original sin was in place and all future generations would feel its sting through death. In Scripture we also understand that this is a decision that each individual soul makes and blame can not be passed of.

The problem then (time of original sin) as it continues this day is that humankind desires to substitute our will for God’s. This comes out of pride, unbelief, a desire to be like God encouraged by self promotion and a desire to enjoy what God’s Word prohibits. If as believers we point this out (also looking within ourselves) then we are castigated as judgmental and worse. The more the world distances itself from Scripture the greater the hatred for people of faith will become.

The good news, which anyone can receive for himself, is that Jesus has redeemed us from the bondage of sin by paying the full penalty. The choice as it was for Adam is there for each of us. Our root can now be in Christ and our TREE WILL BE FED BY IT’S ROOTS.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Sin saps our strength unless we return to our Savior.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Romans 5:12 “explanation of original sin”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for redeeming us.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How close or distant are you from God’s Word?
  2. What forbidden fruit do you have before you?
  3. Who is the cause of original sin and why?
  4. What are examples of self-promotion commonplace today?

WINE AND OTHER DRINKS

Not one to avoid controversial subjects I thought today I would share a few thoughts on drink most especially what is referred to as alcohol. Scripture tells us if we trust in ourselves and not God regarding this issue we loose not just for ourselves but the world as well. Wisdom would tell us then that trust requires knowing God’s rules which help us achieve the best for our lives and others.

Jewish teaching believes that the end times will come when mankind’s impudence increases, heresy will be spoken within God’s Kingdom and will not be rebuked, people will not respect each other and wine will raise in price yet drunkenness will increase. In many respects those conditions seem in place today.

Abuse of alcoholic drink is often tied to end times either personally or regarding the return of Christ but it would be dishonest to say it is forbidden other than the abuse of its use. Where the addiction or abuse of drink is discouraged is for those who lead congregations (1 Timothy 3:3) or for those who desire a life of absolute purity such as was told of John the Baptist in Luke 1:15.

It should be mentioned that the “other strong drink” of Luke 1:15 is believed to be  barley beer known to exist in the time of Christ and before.

Wine and other drink was necessary in these times surrounding Christ as water was impure. In fact many medical professionals today will tell you drink in moderation is good for you as is shared in 1 Timothy 5:23. The Jewish culture were known to use wine for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. In fact strong drink in moderation was not uncommon at festivals or to ease pain. Naturally this did not apply to those battling alcohol abuse in which case it was forbidden. Certainly ‘strong drink’ has many evils it can bring upon us even to the point of exclusion from heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). It is why we need to know ourselves and what Scripture tells us about WINE AND OTHER DRINK.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The danger of drunkenness is the destruction that often goes with it.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 Timothy 5:23 “when wine is permitted”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord guide my life in all matters.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How is it if we trust self and not God we hasten the end?
  2. Does God desire all live lives of absolute purity and how is that defined?
  3. What is drink in moderation?
  4. What are the evils of drunkenness and what can it cause according to Scripture?

THE TREATMENT OF MARRIAGE

If I am honest with you who follow these devotionals I need to touch on one of the most painful yet real subjects that face most every individual and family which is divorce.

In a progressively more self centered society and world we are defining relationships such as marriage not only one person or couple at a time but now with the blessing of a judiciary redefining it across the entire societal spectrum. Sadly without an understanding from God’s Word.

From the perspective of the New Testament what was commonly understood as the standard for marriage was that it was for life (between one man and one woman) as stated in Mark 10:2-9. Those were the words of Christ Himself. Today thanks to society (not God’s) standards we humor our human nature and quietly accept every thing from living together before marriage to redefining marriage between any two and sometimes more individuals and who knows what will be next.

Divorces are allowed because of adultery which I addressed when I wrote BREAKING RELATIONSHIPS.  Christ speaks to this in Matthew 5:27-32. In fact if we are totally honest with ourselves Christ calls it adultery when two divorced individuals marry each other. I suspect by now if you are still reading this I may have offended many or perhaps most of you. Indeed God’s truth is a hard pill to swallow. Our comfort comes in Acts 10:43 that tells us forgiveness comes in our believing in God. Only in true repentance and a turning around of our lives are these chains removed. In the meantime efforts to reconcile a broken relationship must be made. That requires that we acknowledge that there is no such thing as ‘no fault’ divorce as so many states allow. This is how we need to look at THE TREATMENT OF MARRIAGE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Divorce destroys God’s divine plan unless through repentance damage is repaired.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Mark 10:2-9 “marriage is binding”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen my marriage or understanding of it.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do you treat your relationships?
  2. Have you experienced separation and how have you handled it?
  3. Where has society turned away from Scripture regarding relationships?
  4. What is the danger of ‘no fault’ divorces?

THINK THE WAY GOD THINKS!

Many of us as students in the various schools we attend or have attended may have had a favorite teacher. Perhaps even to the extent they impressed you to such an extent that your life’s path mirrored theirs. That is what it means to disciple and is what God desires of we who follow Him. The perfect example of this is to think the way God would think as best as we can know through His Word.

The Bible tells us, as any good teacher would agree with, there must be tests to overcome and the first recorded in John 14:15 is obedience. God expects our love to show up in obedience to His Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Every teacher to create the maximum  learning experience has to have rules or chaos would break out.

In addition we must be faithful which will show in our bearing much fruit (John 15:8). That can come only when we abide in God’s Word. You cannot think God’s thoughts unless you know God’s thoughts and that requires we study it eagerly. Doing this we will grow in love for one another (John 13:35) and the divisiveness of the world will begin to end. But know this that when your disciplining begins to bear fruit you must remain humble and know we are always the student and God is always the teacher.

Doing this God will reward us for He is a giving God. Perhaps at the top of the list is we will be brothers and sisters with Christ as He Himself proclaimed in Matthew 12:48-50. We will be enlightened by Him (John 8:12). We will also be guided by the Holy Spirit Who will reveal to us things yet to come (John 16:13) and we will be honored by God the Father (John 12:26). This all and more if we desire to THINK THE WAY GOD THINKS.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Disciplining demands we remain devout to our Divine Creator.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: John 16:13 “Lives guided by the Holy Spirit are a reward for our disciplining.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord help me in being the best disciple I can for You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Where is the failure in many of our educational settings?
  2. What does it mean to surrender all (Luke 14:33) if we want to be God’s people?
  3. What does it mean to you to be a brother/sister of Christ?
  4. How are you doing in your discipleship journey?

DEPRAVITY AND THE CRUCIFIXION!

During the season of Lent we look to the cross and the forgiveness of sin. Within that truth are many other truths. One of those is the extent of man’s depravity and how far mankind will take it.

Within our human nature lies a vileness that must be controlled. At the crucifixion Pontius Pilate tried washing his guilty hands of the affair. The Roman soldiers depravity was seen in their mocking and savage acts against Christ. It seems to continue yet today in the criminal statistics and the many ways bullying happens. This crucifixion occurs each time we mock someone or abuse them in some fashion.

Romans 1:29-31 is a list of man’s depravity but shows in verse 32 that “not only do they keep doing these things but they applaud others who do the same, thus forming a godless society opposing everything God wants from His beloved creation,humanity” (from the Jewish New Testament Commentary).

The extent of depravity is that it begins in the human heart (Jeremiah 17:9) and it takes over our entire body expressing itself through our senses such as the speaking of evil (Romans 3:9-19). Only a society and people who fear God and learn humility will be saved from this curse. It will not be easy because this condition is in each of us from birth (Psalm 51:5) and covers the entire earth (Genesis 6:5).

To correct this problem we must convince the impenitent (Romans 2:5) to say “I’m sorry” and change their behavior in a positive way. Those who will not hear must somehow be instructed and gotten to listen (Jeremiah 17:23). People must be shown ‘light’ is a far better option than ‘darkness’ (John 3:19). Their mind must convince their heart (Titus 1:15-16). It is only when this happens that we can learn the message that comes with DEPRAVITY AND THE CRUCIFIXION.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The depravity of mankind leads to defilement unless we accept deliverance offered through Christ’s death and resurrection.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Romans 3:9-19 “The extent of mankind’s depravity is in their entire being”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I come humbly before you acknowledging all my sin.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are contemporary societies politically correct ways of bullying?
  2. How do we attack people emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually?
  3. What steps would you take to correct a depraved nature/society?
  4. What brings people to say ‘I’m sorry’?

 

THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT!

Occasionally  various people will say “the devil made me do  it” with the intent of being humorous or some other less than  serious purpose. Truth be told there is a supernatural realm in which as Christians we believe there are angels who serve God for good and demons who serve the devil for bad (Matthew 12:26-30). The Bible takes these two spiritual realms for granted as should we if we say we believe in the Bible.

This should cause us to want to know a little more about demons and how they can affect us emotionally, mentally and physically. First we must know demons are evil but subject to the Lord and His Disciples (Luke 10:17-18). This is important to know as demons have an enormous amount of power (Luke 8:29) which can do us harm if we do not exorcise them through the power of the Holy Spirit.

When demons attack they come in force (Mark 5:8-9). For many it is a battle that when you feel you have one licked there are others that come at you from another direction. The task is to remain strong in the Spirit. Demons recognize Christ (Mark 1:23-24) and His ability to destroy them. Demons know their destiny (Matthew 8:29).

Despite this knowledge mankind continues to  offer sacrifices to them as to any false god (1 Corinthians 10:19-20) which they gladly receive. The hope being that their deceit will cause people to leave the faith (1 Timothy 4:1).

I believe we need to look at the emotional, mental and physical ailments of people very carefully. Often the case will be that they are not insane or afflicted with disease, but rather a demon or demons who need to be exorcised. Though we may jest there can be a great deal of truth when we proclaim THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT!

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Demons desire to deprive man from deliverance.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: MARK 1:23-24 “demons recognize Christ”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen the power of the Holy Spirit’s presence within me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Are demons also able to affect us spiritually and why or why not?
  2. What demons if any do you carry?
  3. What is your plan for fighting personal demons?
  4. How are demons false gods and give examples?

WHAT IS GOD’S PLAN FOR YOU?

We fill each day with activities that we have somehow convinced ourselves give us fulfillment. Perhaps even meaning and purpose. Yet how many of us look at our journey in this life as fulfilling God’s purpose for having given us our existence?

If we are fulfilling God’s plan you will know it quickly. Much like the time of Cyrus recorded in Ezra 4:5 those doing good were discouraged and frustrated as counselors were hired to block their efforts. Hindrance by those who are evil will always try to stop anyone who wants to carry out the truth of God’s Word. Despite this we must stay true to confronting apostasy (falling away from God’s truth) 24/7 even if we experience what is clearly described in 2 Timothy 3:10-17.

When we do the will of God He will allow our plan to be fulfilled. One of the best examples of this was King Solomon building God’s Temple (1 Kings 5:5). When we sincerely take up doing God’s will we will be blessed in our efforts. In this regard we can learn from David who in Psalm 17:3 shows his determination. We like David will be tried and tested but we must remain resolute in our effort.

There will be delays in our efforts. Rules, regulations, legal challenges and more will be put before us often by those who knowingly or unknowingly are serving as satan’s minions. Satan already defeated at the cross will continue to fight until the last day. As with the Apostles and Disciples of old we must not doubt or be uncertain in our purpose for God has a plan for each of us. Ask yourself today WHAT IS GOD’S PLAN FOR ME?

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The purpose of mankind is to proclaim God’s promises in all its purity.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Ezra 4:5 “evil will hinder God’s purpose but not defeat it”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord my purpose is to serve You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Who are the evil who do not want God’s plan fulfilled on earth?
  2. What examples in Scripture show God’s will being fulfilled?
  3. What of God’s will have you taken up to fulfill in your life?
  4. What delays have you experienced in carrying out God’s plan?

RELATED BLOG: What’s my purpose?

THE GREAT DAY!

If you are like me you fill your calendar with wonderful events to look forward to. What I do not look forward to is the end of these mini-celebrations of life. To keep the next event ever before me I do things to help prepare for its arrival. In a sense to hurry it along.

Of all the events we should look forward to as Christians the most important is referred to as ‘the Day of the Lord’. For some it will not be pleasant. It will be a day when the faithless will be punished (Isaiah 13:6-13). The wrath of God will finally be released as no horror movie in our society has ever displayed.

Biblical tradition teaches us that Elijah the prophet will return. Many believe to Israel to let them know Christ is the Messiah and He is coming back. The day will be brought upon us with the sound of the trumpet or shofar. The wonders of Heaven above us will change in a manner (Acts 2:19-21 and Matthew 24:29) that will indicate Christ is about to return. That will drive many of those still living to call on God’s Name. Also as 1 Corinthians 3:13 tells us God’s fire will reveal and refine what is worthy to remain in the Kingdom and destroy what is not.

In truth it will be the best day ever as we will be wed to God for all eternity (Hosea 2:19-20). Scripture tells us it will take place on the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:11-12) from where Christ first ascended. It will truly be THE GREAT DAY.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The devil’s deceptions will end on the day of the Lord.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Acts 1:11 “place of Christ’s ascension and return”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Come Lord Jesus come.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Can we in this life expedite Christ’s return?
  2. Does an understanding of end times change how you live?
  3. What all will happen prior to and the day of Christ’s return?
  4. How do you feel about last minute conversions?