SET IN THEIR WAY

I suspect most all of us know someone who won’t change their mind especially when it comes to learning about God. In Scriptural terms that is referred to as being impenitent. A form of stubbornness that has dire consequences.

First it is important to find these individuals. Those who willfully disobey. An example in Jeremiah 44:15-19 shows such a group of women and wives who heard the word of the Lord but continued in their sinful ways. Today many hear God’s Word yet continue to intentionally sin. For some who continue to defy the teachings of God He may well blind their hearts (1 John 12:40) to the point of eternal punishment. For these individuals even the witnessing of the resurrection would not persuade them as Christ tells us in Luke 16:31. Sadly we see today the next step taken by the impenitent. It is outright rebellion against any who hold to or speak the truth (1 Thessalonians 2:15-16).

These actions by the impenitent and of hardened hearts will have consequences as mentioned earlier. Though they may think themselves free they are in truth in spiritual bondage. Christ referred to this as ‘spiritual slavery’ (John 8:34). Sadly they and the world remain blind to their sin and will only understand when they face eternal destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). That is the danger of being SET IN OUR WAYS.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Impenitence is an impediment that has eternal implications.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: John 12:40 “Impenitence seen in hardness of heart”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may my heart always remain open to You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Who are those today who hear God’s Word yet continue to knowingly sin?
  2. How are impenitent showing rebellion against Christians today?
  3. Do you know anyone in spiritual bondage?
  4. Why is eternal punishment of little concern to so many?

GOD IS NOT PLAY-DOH

As much of the world grows ever more distant from God and into a globalist (one world) mindset it attempts to redefine God. Like Play-Doh we want to take all the gods of all the religions and personal viewpoints and make a one size fits all god or perhaps no God at all.

With the Bible as my foundation that is not possible. As Psalm 102:27 tells me “God is the same” and “He does not change (Malachi 3:6)”. As society and all its many components like to twist, bend and blend things it is hard for them to fit God into a box of their choosing without redefining Him. It can’t be done. God follows along the line black or white, good or evil, light or dark. There is no variation as James 1:17 tells us.

The unchangeable nature of God the Father applies to God the Son in the person of Jesus Christ as well. Hebrews 7:24 tells of this unchangeable nature. Another well known verse Hebrew 13:8 tells us “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever”. It is not God or Christ Who are molded according to our choosing but we who must allow our Lord and Savior to mold us. We know that is God’s purpose to mold us “for we are the works of His hands (Psalm 138:8) and He will continue to work on us until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Always remember we are the Play-Doh. GOD IS NOT PLAY-DOH.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The immutability of God can overcome the imperfection of man.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Malachi 3:6 “God does not change”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord mold me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Are you trying to change God?
  2. What is your foundation for knowing God?
  3. How is the world trying to change God?
  4. Are you able to be molded?

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF IMAGINATION

Growing up I was a fan of Walt Disney and his wonderful world of imagination. There was Frontier land, Adventure land and of course Fantasy land. A child (and adult) could pretend and imagine most anything. That has changed after Mr. Disney died to a more politically correct theme park in many ways but imagination goes on all around us.

At times as I look out upon God’s creation my thoughts or imagination still run wild, in a good way, through the high plains grass surrounding my acreage. As crazy as it may sound I still see puppy dogs in clouds and imagine hearing God’s majestic voice in the rolling thunder before a summer storm.

Imagination contains within itself a great deal that is positive but we are also warned in Scripture (Jeremiah 18:12) not to let it become wilful guided by an evil heart. A heart conceived in sin and guided by human nature to do that which is contrary to the will of God. A heart that Proverbs 12:20 tells us can be filled with deceit. Even our imagination must be reigned in at times.

The good news is that when Christ returns we are promised a cleansing (Jeremiah 3:17) of our evil hearts and the wonders of imagination and though as God designed will be ours. I pray earnestly for that WONDERFUL WORLD OF IMAGINATION.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The immortality of imagination is illuminated when under God’s influence.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Jeremiah 3:17 “cleansing of imagination”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord guide and release my imagination.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. In what ways can imagination be evil?
  2. In what ways can imagination be good?
  3. How is your imagination fed by God’s creation?
  4. How is your imagination?

REAL ENLIGHTENMENT!

A great many people go around talking of academic credentials. The extent of their education (masters, doctorate) and where their degree was obtained from seems to be a big deal. Yet the enlightenment that comes with head knowledge despite how extensive it is quite often is unable to connect with heart knowledge and certainly does not match up to it.

Perspective on life going on around us and understanding what truly matters (most especially in the hereafter) is best found in spiritual illumination or understanding. Many of the most intellectually brilliant people in the world have at some point come to that understanding.

The key  then is how do we come to that illumination. Hebrews 6:1-8 tells us it happens when we are converted. We come to the knowledge of God initially by a born again experience. When we fling wide open the doors of our hearts to the Holy Spirit. It will be as Christ shares with us in John 16:13 that the “(Holy Spirit) will guide you into all truth”. At that point the world and its many actors will seem like so many ants scurrying about not knowing they are encased in an environment that leads them nowhere.

Paul understood this well when we read in Ephesians 1:18 that our “eyes of understanding” are opened and we now see where our hope and inheritance lie. It is not things of this life such as power, money and what many consider glamorous. It is something far greater than that. It is eternal. It is REAL ENLIGHTENMENT.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Spiritual illumination removes ignorance.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY:  John 16:13 “Spiritual illumination by the Holy Spirit”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord come into my heart and open my eyes.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How does perception of life change with spiritual illumination?
  2. How does heart knowledge increase?
  3. What are similarities between colonies of ants and humans?
  4. Have you received spiritual illumination?

DON’T BE SO LAZY!

How many times has that expression been used of someone who is lazy or not giving their full effort on a project. In today’s society reducing effort seems to be the norm. Longer vacations, fewer hours, entitlements without responsibility and more are increasing while labor is de-emphasized.

The results as Scripture points out is an increase in poverty which is indirectly referred to in Proverbs 20:13. More likely when a person does not work hunger will result (Proverbs 19:15) and begging often seems natural to follow.  To those capable of work who refuse we hear the admonishment of Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 that “if any would not work neither should they eat”. Workfare rather than welfare in many cases seems a sound principle. In fact the more we avoid labor and gravitate toward idleness the more we grow in bondage to it and find ourselves surrounded by ruin (Proverbs 24:30-34).

Numerous locations in the Bible admonish against idleness including Paul’s listed earlier. A good example is the ant of Proverbs 6:6-11. As children we are amused with ant farms and their constant motion gathering and providing for winter.

It is not only the ant Scripture uses but it also references the ideal woman as one who labors hard (Proverbs 31:10-31). This passage more than any other perhaps supports the working woman.

Most importantly we need to consider for whom we labor. Labor certainly is critical in life but one day it will come under judgment and our labors (beyond supporting ourselves on earth) will be in vain. We see this explained in 1 Corinthians 3:8-14. Most importantly don’t let anyone ever have to say to you DON’T BE SO LAZY.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Identifying with God’s image does not allow for idleness.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “admonishment against idleness”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen me to labor for You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How are we encouraging laziness in our world?
  2. What are solutions to this problem?
  3. Do entitlements increase or decrease poverty?
  4. What is good versus less valuable labor?

DRIVEN AWAY

One of the primary reasons people fall away from Christian faith is a showy or empty display of religion. In one word it is called hypocrisy and it comes in many forms. Among the faith community we are to be especially careful as the Apostle Peter noted in writing what is recorded in 2 Peter 2:10-22.

The dangers of hypocrisy are many among which are those who are self-righteous (holier than thou). Christ pointed out an example of this in Luke 18:11-12. Standing firm against sin is one matter but doing so in a prideful manner while not being without sin ourselves is indeed hypocrisy. What our Lord and Savior seeks is an expression of love but in a humble fashion and that includes any action take that may be charitable in nature (Matthew 6:2).

Again it is important to stand on the truth of Scripture when the world around us seems to be falling apart as we see in our reading of the Bible. As this is occurring rather than be highly critical it would be advisable first to look within ourselves and correct our short comings (Matthew 7:3-5).

Another area of concern are they who call themselves Christian and yet are merely bound by tradition. Matthew 5:1-9 shares Christ’s view of this. What Christ seeks goes far beyond some nice words spoken by us in a worship setting. He wants all of us, and that means our hearts. If our heart is not right with God then we are no better than the Pharisees of Christ’s time (Luke 11:39). When our hearts change then it will be less likely that others will be DRIVEN AWAY.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Hypocrisy often happens when people are left spiritually hungry.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY:  Matthew 15:8 “Hypocrisy bound by traditions”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord You have my heart.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Where do you see the hypocrisy in Christians and the church?
  2. What Scriptural figures displayed this hypocrisy?
  3. How do you bring back a former Christian to the realization of a full and true faith?
  4. Are there hypocritical areas in your life?

THE HOSTS OF HEAVEN!

Occasionally you hear the expression ‘hosts of Heaven’. It is a term used of sun, moon, stars and of angels. Generally looked upon with favor as part of God’s wonderful creation. When used as objects of worship as some soothsayers, cultures and faiths do  it then becomes idolatry. We are warned in Deuteronomy 4:19  to “take heed…lest we feel driven to worship them”. We were created by God and meant to worship Him only so what we should do is appreciate how God set the sun, moon and stars in the expanse and did so in such vast numbers each uniquely placed. Admiring this and all their beauty we see the greatness of God’s might and power (Isaiah 40:26). What to me is especially interesting is how each was given a name by God many noted in Job chapter 9.

Angels also are looked upon as hosts in Heaven. They too of course were created by God as Nehemiah 9:6 tells us to worship our Creator. In addition they were meant to minister positively to believers and to Christ with a more active role when Christ returns (Matthew 13:41). In addition I believe as 1 Kings 22:19 tells us that angels will join us at the Throne of Heaven. Indeed when understood properly we can truly appreciate THE HOSTS OF HEAVEN.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The hosts of Heaven help us raise high our Hallelujahs.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Isaiah 45:12 “hosts of Heaven created by God”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for the hosts of Heaven.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Who look upon the sun, moon and stars in an idolatrous fashion?
  2. What is special about the sun, moon and stars?
  3. Have angels been a part of your life?
  4. Do you take time to appreciate God’s Heavenly creation?

SPIRITUALLY UPLIFTING

Spiritual music is a blessing that almost defies description. When your entire body, soul and spirit unite in singing praise to God it truly moves one to tears as at that moment you feel the presence of God most closely or so it is for me.

Hymnody and the singing of praise and worship music has been around since creation in one form or another. They have been sung after great deliverance’s, victories, answers to prayer and simply to praise our Lord and Savior.

Much of Scripture are words of hymns including one well known as the ‘love chapter’ recorded in 1 Corinthians 13. These hymns, as are all spiritual songs, have the primary purpose of worshiping God. This was understood by David as noted in 2 Chronicles 23:18. One specific example is how important the singing of hymns are following sacramental gatherings such as noted in Matthew 26:30 where a hymn was sung after the Lord’s Supper the night Christ was taken captive before His crucifixion and resurrection experience began.

Hymns truly uplift me especially when I sing with the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:15). To sing in any other fashion seems less than inspiring to me and others around me but I can’t imagine how it must sound to God. If we don’t do so now in our practice of hymn or praise singing then I believe it is time to begin to unite our voices singing to our God in a way that is truly SPIRITUALLY UPLIFTING.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Hymns help human nature uplift itself from hopelessness to hope.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Chronicles 23:18 “purpose of hymnody”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I praise You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What types of spiritual music are there?
  2. Which is most spiritually uplifting to you?
  3. How does your spirit feel when in the midst of spiritually uplifting music?
  4. When do you most enjoy singing?

 

 

EATING CROW

The expression ‘eating crow’ is often associated with a person’s pride being hurt. Expectations or maybe even promises were not fulfilled and so you would have a feeling of humiliation.

Humiliation is often the only way to bring us back to reality. To put us in our place so to speak. Perhaps even to understand a Savior who would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey rather than a more stately animal.

Humiliation is necessary in cases of pride (ex. Haman in Esther 6:6-13), arrogance (Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:28-33), boastfulness (Philistine in 1 Samuel 18:42-50) and sin both personal and national such as shared in Daniel 9. These characteristics are not what God desires of us who follow Him. In God’s eyes it is “the first who will be last, and the last who will be first”.  In fact humiliation can be good for a person as it may lead to brokenness which may lead us to Jesus as His own words in Luke 20:18 show.

The remedy for humiliation and how to handle it is to know that if our humiliation comes out of or strengthens our faith we should not feel shame for it will lead to Heaven. In the meantime the cure for humiliation is obedience to God, and awareness that we are not self-sufficient but that our sufficiency lies in God’s grace alone (2 Corinthians 12:9). Understanding this it is no longer necessary for us to be EATING CROW.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY:  Humiliation should humble all entering the House of God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Luke 12:9 “Remedy for humiliation”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord help me control any pride I may have.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How or when have you experienced humiliation?
  2. Have you ever felt exultation after humiliation?
  3. How do you keep pride under control?
  4. What is the danger of self-sufficiency?

HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY

The lie has been around since the creation of mankind. We see it first used in Genesis 3:1 when satan twisted God’s Word (ultimate and absolute truth) and truth has been twisted, bent and broke ever since. All lies or variations of lying that continue to do harm wherever it shows up.

God’s plan is for each of us to be upright (righteous, honest) in ALL matters. In fact it is a Christians obligation as Paul implied in 2 Corinthians 13:7. Doing so we become the ‘good ground’ of which Christ speaks in Luke 8:15 keeping God’s Word and with patience bearing fruit as a result. Living out our lives in this fashion others will see God through us and in a fashion we will be spreading His Kingdom.

As the old saying goes that ‘honesty is the best policy’ so it would seem only natural that with honesty come blessings. Since the time of the Old Testament (ex. Isaiah 33:15-17) we see that it will bring advancement unto the ultimate example which is our salvation. David affirmed this in Psalm 15:1-2 describing honesty as a Godly characteristic. Certainly if we desire to grow in His (God’s) image then being upright should be second nature at all times.

The world around us will not like our speaking truth in love as the world and those in it become ever more comfortable ‘living the lie’. For we who wear the mantle of Christianity we must break away from that world for the world we seek is yet to come. A world where HONESTY IS THE ONLY POLICY.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The holiness of Christians demands honesty be held in the highest regard.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Luke 8:15 “Honesty is necessary for a righteous man”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen me to always speak truth in love.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Where in modern society is lying in its many forms most evident?
  2. What is a ‘wordsmith’ and why is being one often dangerous?
  3. What examples of advancement does Scripture give for sharing truth?
  4. Is speaking truth important to your life?