HOW THE WORLD SHOULD SEE US!

Having recently shared how a Christian’s spirit should be on the inside it is equally important how that spirit should manifest itself to the world. Scripture gives us many rules to guide our living one of which is to remain pure as God and the law He has given us is pure (1 Timothy 5:22). That comes with being content with what we have (Hebrews 13:5). Those who are not content often are led to break God’s command and covet what is not legally ours. That can include property or person.

It is also important that we show our love to others when needed through the act of forbearance (Ephesians 4:2). That is to say that when someone needs our  support, most especially during a difficult time, we will be there for them. To uplift ones spirit as one day God will uplift ours into eternity is truly important.

Our conduct should always be honest speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:25) with one another. Sadly in a world filled with satan’s deceptions that is often not the case. One of those truths is that mankind is to be industrious (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12) in providing for oneself and our family. The Bible, I believe, strongly discourages laziness and the dependency mind set it generates.

As to how we should react to others, God tells us we are even to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44) as Christ Himself directs us. That sadly may cost us our life in a world growing ever more hateful but we must continue to pray for peace and act accordingly. It is only natural if we want to be a part of God’s Kingdom which is built on peace and joy (Romans 14:15-17). A Christian living in such manner will be truly liberated.

Life for us should be conducted in such manner for as Titus 2:14 tells us: we are here to be purified for Christ’s purpose. In so doing using Christ as our model we are to be about good deeds. For truly that is HOW THE WORLD SHOULD SEE US.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Manifest Christian faith in growing more Christlike.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Titus 2:14 “good deeds manifest who we are”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen me to grow more like You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is ‘pure’ lifestyle?
  2. How should the church view an entitlement mentality?
  3. Is it possible to love an enemy out of their hateful behavior?
  4. Do you feel liberated as a Christian?

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO KNOW GOD!

The heavens are fascinating to many including myself. Why should it not be since Genesis 1:7 tells us “God made the firmament”. The great expanse between our universe and God was created so that we may know God. In fact if we do not know God it is our fault as God and His attributes are clearly evident in the firmament He has given us (Romans 1:18-20). It shows us God’s eternal power and nature. To not see and understand this makes us the fool as Scripture attests too.

As a fan of all things natural, I am constantly fascinated by how nature acts and how each element of it no matter the size is placed so precisely and operates with such precision and efficiency that only an omniscient God could have done it (Psalm 19:1). The evolutionary slime theory much of mankind has bought into is for me the ridiculous.

One day the firmament we have before us will signal the end times have arrived (1 Corinthians 15:52) and then those who acknowledge Christ as their Lord and Savior will ascend above the firmament (Ephesians 4:10) to God in the highest Heaven. Indeed IT IS IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO KNOW GOD.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The firmament is the finger of God pointing us to His Divinity.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 19:1 “the heavens proclaim God”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:  Lord help me understand You  better through Your creation.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Is it possible God’s Word has reached all people by the mere existence of His Creation?
  2. What makes the expanse of space (firmament) so fascinating?
  3. Are you a weather watcher in its fullest definition?
  4. How will the firmament declare the end times?

FILLED WITH GRACE

As a follower of Christ we are to show certain character traits both inside and out. That is not always easy but by God’s strength an effort must be made. Grace is that which is attractive to others and makes a person beautiful more so than any other attribute we are bestowed with. It is both internal and external. Today we look at several internal graces where it all begins.

Colossians 3:12-13 in showing how we can become a new person lists several characteristics among which is kindness. The ability to forgive and accept forgiveness. In a world of sin it is often said that Christians must “speak truth in kindness” but always with a forgiving heart as our Savior showed in His life.

Grace is also seen in humility (1 Peter 5:5-6). If honored show humility in receiving the honor. Submission and not pride is what God desires from His faithful. Our exultation for a life lived in Christian faith will come one day “in due time” as verse 6 informs us.

Gentleness in a contentious world where anger comes easily is also key. In James 3:17-18 we see that to be true. When some are quick to fight or make war (though necessary in  exceptional circumstances) as Christians we should be about seeking peace. This comes with gentle speech and action yet with firm resolve. To not do so will only see a response of violence.

In seeking God’s image for our own we must be about love. What it means to be filled with love is clearly defined in 1 Corinthians 13. Love is what its all about and to have a heart of love is to have the heart of God. Indeed to have the heart of  God requires we be filled with the Holy Spirit. With His presence in our lives His fruits will be evident through our lives (Galatians 5:22-26) among which are self-control and so much more.

All of these will allow us to experience this life as God intended. A life filled with peace (Philippians 4:7) that will allow for a smooth transition into an eternity with our Triune God. That is what it means to be FILLED WITH GRACE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Living in God allows grace to grow greatly.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Philippians 4:7 “a life of peace”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I live the life of grace you wish for me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do you define grace?
  2. What causes others to be less than gracious?
  3. What does it mean to have a heart of love?
  4. Is your life filled with peace?

THAT IN WHICH YOU CAN BE CONFIDENT!

I doubt there are few who would disagree with me that the world is going crazy. There was once a time when all its various institutions (government, news, education and even churches, etc.) were looked upon with greater favor than they are now. Sadly the desire for money, power and self satisfaction have brought they and other institutions to the low point we are at now. The question then must be asked in what or whom should we place our confidence?

The first and most obvious answer is God the Father as Christ noted in John 14:1 and in His Son Jesus Christ (John 20:31). In a world becoming ever more secular there is no one else who can give us the fullness of life we seek now and for all eternity.

In an effort to build on this rewarding relationship it is important to become well informed on Their teachings. This begins with the writings of Moses (Pentateuch) centered in the first 4 books of the Old Testament (John 5:46). Christ Himself here spoke of how Moses foretold of His coming as the Messiah which early Messianic Jews agreed with (Genesis 49:10, Numbers 24:17 and Deuteronomy 18:15-18).

In addition  the recorded words of the early prophets lead us to Christ as He in Whom we can have confidence. Finally the recordings of the Gospels (Mark 1:15) which contain first hand accounts of the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.

Each of us have been given the free will to choose in what or whom we will place our confidence. Our decision has enormous consequences. Choose carefully in THAT IN WHICH YOU CAN BE CONFIDENT.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Follow God faithfully and feel His presence forevermore.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: John 14:1 “God as object of our faith”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord my confidence is in You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. In what or whom do you place your confidence/faith?
  2. How did the world fall into secularism so fast?
  3. How did the early writings (both within and outside the Bible) point to Christ as our Savior?
  4. How did the Bible come to be universally accepted as God’s Word?

THE MEANING OF BEING A FATHER

Society seems evermore confused about the roles of a man, woman and child as well as how to define gender. At the forefront of this confusion is our ‘educational’ community where the mind of man is redefining with it’s human mind what God has predetermined and given to us in His Holy Word.

Today  we look at fatherhood. A term traditionally given to those responsible for the care of others. Examples are George Washington known as the Father of our Country. Scripture has always understood the father as the head of the house. This from the spiritual perspective not a physically abusive or domineering viewpoint. Those who abuse this understanding Christ clearly calls out in John 8:44 as coming from their father (small f) the devil and not conducting ourselves according to the will of our Father God.

The Bible tells us Abraham, Isaac, Joshua and Job  were examples of devout fathers. The reason was how they carried out their God given duties. The first of which is to love their children or any child placed under their care no matter in what capacity. This is not a ‘free reign’ kind of love but one where instruction as God’s Word provides is given (Proverbs 1:8) and abided by. It is in this way that a child will grow up as God commands honoring their father and mother and respecting their elders.

Doing so we are following the teaching of 1 Thessalonians 2:11 which is that the father is to exhort (encourage), comfort, guide and warn their child or children as necessary. It is a part of the training process given to a father to carry out. Not doing so judgment in some form will fall upon a home as a father did not restrain his child (1 Samuel 3:13). Chastening or fatherly correction may be necessary and should be used when in order and properly understood (Hebrews 12:7).

Today there is confusion on the structure of accountability and who is responsible for what. Mankind in its ‘infinite’ wisdom is redefining what God clearly laid out. Each of us now according to our free will can choose guidance from God our Father (Matthew 7:11) or go it alone. You  choose THE MEANING OF BEING A FATHER.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Male parenting or fatherhood is best guided by our Father God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: James 1:17 “the Creator Father God as role model”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord help me in my understanding of what it means to be a father.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Why do so many have trouble defining roles as traditionally understood from Scripture?
  2. Why were Abraham, Isaac, Joshua and Job considered devout fathers?
  3. What is the proper understanding of correcting a child?
  4. How will you and your family define the father’s role?

RELATED BLOG: The parent-child relationship

THE FARMER

I am not a farmer though growing up on one. Today many who farm feel they have to own hundreds if not thousands of acres of ground. I remain as steward over 80 acres entrusted to my family since my great grandparents turned over its soil for the first time as Homesteaders. It is why today we look at what Scripture tells us about farming and farmers.

It is acknowledged according to Biblical teaching that Cain was the first farmer. We are told in Genesis 4:2 that he was “a tiller of the ground”. Perhaps we see through Cain and his brother Abel, involved in animal husbandry (raising sheep), a bit of the seed in so many today who enjoy gardening and raising backyard chickens even in our cities. Others who farmed were Noah (had a vineyard as written about in Genesis 9:20), the prophet Elisha who plowed the ground with oxen (1 Kings 19:19) before joining Elijah on a journey of prophesying and finally King Uzziah who we are told in 2 Chronicles 26:10 “loved the soil”.

Anyone ever responsible for a farm (much less a yard in town) knows it requires diligence to maintain. A person can not do as Proverbs 24:30-34 tells us and sleep away the day with hands folded hoping that the land and livestock will care for itself. The principle of being rewarded for your labors is best illustrated in 2 Corinthians 9:6-11. Today’s idea of being entitled to something and not working for it is certainly against the advice of Scripture.

What we can also learn from farming is the lesson Christ shared in Luke 12:16-21. Here Christ tells us all our labor no matter how successful we become is in vain if we leave God out of the equation. There is so much that God intends for us to learn from selecting the seed through the entire process until harvest. Indeed God has richly blessed THE FARMER.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The face of the Lord can easily be seen by a farmer who is faithful.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Luke 12:16-21 “God is key for a successful farmer”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for sharing Your creation with me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  Have you been given a piece of ground to care for?
  2. What have you learned from this opportunity?
  3. What all is involved in farming?
  4. What makes a person want to own a piece of ground?

 

FIRE!!!

There are few who aren’t mesmerized by fire. Be it a campfire, fireplace or even some major fire related catastrophe. Why the amazement? Perhaps it is because of how we are told God uses it in Scripture.

For me it begins with the fact that God made Himself known to Moses through a burning bush (Exodus 3:1-6). Fire indicates God’s power (Exodus 9:24) which will one day be used to punish the wicked as Christ Himself spoke in Matthew 25:41 and will occur in the end time as noted in Revelation 19:20. Interestingly enough when this end time comes all of “the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).

Knowing this Peter who may have been Christ’s closest friend asks all a legitimate question. If everything we seem to be in such hurry to accumulate is destroyed why are we not more about living lives of holy conduct and godliness (2 Peter 3:11) and by so doing hastening the return of God (vs. 12)?

Fire can also represent God’s glory. This occurred on what we now celebrate as Pentecost. On this day tongues of fire sat on the devout men of God filling them with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). At this point for those of us who truly desire God’s presence within us 24/7 will know and understand what it means to be a child of God. That is what is so wonderful about FIRE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The Spirit of fire fills the forgiven so we never forget our Father God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Exodus 3:2 “Fire manifests God”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord fill me with the fire of Your Spirit.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Why do you enjoy watching fire (assuming you do) ?
  2. Knowing ‘the rest of the story’ about earth and our possessions why are we not more about living godly lives?
  3. How do you honor Pentecost?
  4. Have you welcomed the Holy Spirit into your life?

RELATED BLOG: Are you special?

THE LAW OF THE LAND

Those who have ever grown up on or owned a piece of ground know how valuable it is both in a physical and spiritual sense. Throughout Scripture God uses the ‘field’ to explain His message.

One such time was a message that would  stir controversy and still does so today when going into the field on what we call Sunday (Shabat, Seventh Day). God’s Levitical law (25:3-12) required that time as a period of rest for all people. Christ changed the understanding or interpretation at least somewhat in Matthew by gathering food that day. Today it still causes controversy but one thing that needs to be understood is that the Sabbath is to be a day in which God is honored and which is holy.

Christ in Matthew 13 used the soil and that which relates to it frequently. He spoke of it in parables distinguishing good from bad. In many ways the field is a parallel of life: good soil and bad, seed that is clean versus mixed with weed seed or seed from other crop types. Recently picking rocks and pulling weeds on my ground I can attest to its difficulty yet importance. As with God it is desired for best results to rid oneself in life of that which does not help in producing the best end result.

Fields often cause controversy when ownership is changed. Sadly many fall in disobedience to the command of coveting what is someone else’s (Deuteronomy 5:21). Scripture is clear that a transaction agreed upon is proper. Should the buyer know that property he purchases may have future additional value that is simply good business and acceptable.

Finally, one day the land will hold each of us as it serves as a resting place for our physical nature until called to return home to our Lord and Savior. In the meantime it is good we study God’s Word in order to better understand THE LAW OF THE LAND.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Fields are ways for farmers to have fellowship with our Heavenly Father.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Matthew 12:1 “Sabbath rest”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for land to till and learn from.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do you believe Sunday should be treated?
  2. How does rocky soil and weed filled fields apply to life?
  3. How should the value of land be rightfully determined?
  4. How should land be rightfully used?

HUNGER!

Those reading this likely when hungry can go to a refrigerator and get nourishment in some form rather quickly. For that privilege we should be thankful to God. Yet God expects more from us when Christ shares in Matthew 25:40 that when we give food to the hungry it was as if we fed Him.

Today I want to look for a few moments at the idea of famine in its various forms which will never go away. In fact it will get worse as we grow nearer the 7 year tribulation before Christ returns to earth (Matthew 24:7). In fact it will get to such a point that in the end times food will be carefully measured out (Revelations 6:6) with some being more fortunate than others. A situation that has already begun and becoming more evident with each passing day.

Famine can be either physical hunger as Abraham experienced told in Genesis 12:10 or it can be spiritual as mentioned in Amos 8:11. Either way the lack of it ends in death. Growing up reading and studying Scripture was important but equally so was its memorization. Once in our heart we will never starve spiritually.

The causes of physical famine are recorded throughout the Bible. Hail, drought, insects or enemies of one sort or another will always exist in this life. Our sin may in all likelihood be another reason (Exodus 14:12-13) we experience physical or spiritual hunger. God has shown that famine can be the result of God’s punishment (2 Kings 8:1).

Famine can be long and severe as Genesis 41 and Deuteronomy 28 show. As individuals and nations we need to understand this and correct the errors of our ways. Even then as we near the time of Christ we need to understand their will always be HUNGER.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Famine is the fault of disobedience to our Heavenly Father.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Chronicles 15:3 “spiritual famine and its harmful nature”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord keep  filling me with Your word.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What groups are best supported for their world hunger efforts?
  2. How can you help combat hunger locally (example are food banquets and food pantries)?
  3. How is Revelation 1:6 already beginning today and what lesson is that for us?
  4. How does spiritual famine look?

 

HOW SIN STARTED!

Sin began as a 3 step process. In God’s creation we have Lucifer who wanting to be like God is banished to earth where as satan he personifies all evil in his temptation of mankind (Genesis 3:1-5). Second we have God creating a perfect world for man and woman yet the first woman Eve is deceived by the purveyor of sin (2 Corinthians 11:3) and finally Adam in his disobedience of God’s command sinned and through his sin the universality of sin came upon all mankind (Romans 5:12).

The consequences of Adam’s sin are also 3-fold. First is being driven out of paradise (Genesis 3:24). We will have labor for any comforts we desire and finally we will have to face death (Genesis 3:19). This was not God’s plan but the result of original sin. Sadly, much of mankind by their own free will out of ignorance has chosen to alienate ourselves from God (Ephesians 4:18). We can continue to walk in spiritual blindness as the majority of the world does or we can be changed by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Only then will we have the understanding that faith alone saves through grace (Hebrews 11:3). Only then will we return to the way that leads to the narrow gate that leads to salvation and living according to God’s plan (Matthew 7:13-14). This is God’s desire for man’s response to HOW SIN STARTED.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The fall of man comes from failure to remain obedient to God’s Word.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: John 3:16 “only God can change the consequences of man’s fall into sin”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord increase my understanding.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Who are the purveyors of sin in this world?
  2. How are women deceived today?
  3. How do deceived women bring men into sinful action by their own choosing?
  4. How does God view man who claims belief in Jesus yet who live lives otherwise?