ARE YOU EASILY ANGERED?

Some people seem to just naturally get angry easier. As this is not a positive characteristic it is important to understand what the causes are and how to cure the problem if it has permeated our lives.

We all need to watch our temper. Being quick to get angry is something which all to many find themselves doing. Saul was guilty of this as shared in 1 Samuel 20:30. A Fruit of the Holy Spirit is patience and showing patience in difficult times should be goal of all.

Irritability leading to anger also comes out of complaining. Complaining is something which comes far to easy for all of  us. Falling into a negative frame of mind rather than see the positive certainly causes irritability and as this negativity boils anger is often the end product. The children of Israel were a good example of this as written about throughout the book of Exodus.

Only God can cure this condition if it is a part of our nature and it begins with opening our hearts to love. What happens then is our lives change dramatically examples of which are shown in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

A second cure is opening our hearts to one’s of peace. When we have the peace of God in our hearts we will no longer see the negative we once saw, but rather only that which is true and beautiful (Philippians 4:7-8). Indeed our lives will be guided by the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-26) and we will no longer be EASILY ANGERED.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Irritability changes our inner nature as Scriptures find it difficult if not impossible to inspire us.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE OF TODAY: Galatians 5:22-26 ” the cure for irritability”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord keep all which irritates distant from my life.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  Is it possible to remove irritations from life?
  2. What irritates you most?
  3. How do you deal with anger?
  4. What does it mean to live a life of love and peace?

WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN DEATH AND RESURRECTION?

Jesus through the Gospel writer John (John 11:11-14) describes death as simply a state of being asleep though physically dead. As Christians we often comfort ourselves in times of death with words such as “the deceased is in a far better place”. Indeed Paul in Philippians 1:23 speaks those very same words. In fact death puts us in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

This presence is somewhat defined by Scripture beginning with our ability to identify others. At the transfiguration of Christ (Matthew 17:3) Peter experienced this in carrying on a conversation with Moses and Elijah who were a part of history years earlier. Two figures among many whom I hope to meet some day in eternity. As Christ’s words express in Luke 16:25 it would also seem to be a time of comfort and enjoyment. Certainly nothing to fear unless we are choosing a life contrary to Scripture. The chasm that cannot be crossed (vs. 26).

In this moment we will be souls without our new body (Revelations 6:9) awaiting the resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) when we will all have a new body like unto the Lords. This is WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN DEATH AND RESURRECTION.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The intermediate state is one of inheritance and all that which identifies us with our Lord and Savior.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 5:8 “immediate presence with the Lord after death”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for Your presence.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What does it mean to be in the presence of the Lord?
  2. Are all ‘others’ you want in your eternal presence aware of a saving faith?
  3. Is your life being lived out according to Scripture?
  4. How do you understand death?

NO NEED TO BE ANXIOUS!

A great many of us are anxious over matters of this life. Generally it involves matters about money or our general well being. When we are in this state of anxiety about earthly needs we are insecure and that is not a description that is synonymous with being a Christian.

In fact Scripture tells us if we rest in the Lord any matter involving evil (matters contrary to God’s Word) should not bring us insecurity for God will handle all that is wicked in His time (Psalm 37:1-10). Most especially we need to be careful in our quest for gain ($). For many that journey takes us farther and farther away from our Lord (1 Timothy 6:17) to the point of eternal separation. God will provide what we need. That is all that matters. This is vividly pointed out by the words of Christ Himself in Luke 12:16-21. When we find security in our own actions trusting ourselves rather than the Lord that is when our troubles first truly begin.

So what is the cure for insecurity? Most importantly we must rely upon God’s promises. The words of David in Psalm 37:1-26 lay out the cure for us in easily understood language. The thing is we need to hear these words not just for a moment but we must remain steadfast in them 24/7 (Isaiah 26:3). We then will be like Paul recorded in Philippians 4:11  that in whatever situation we find ourself in “we will be content”.

The best words if we ever feel insecure are words Christ Himself gave to us in Matthew 6:25-34. The answer for our insecurity is put God first and then there will be NO NEED TO BE ANXIOUS.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Insecurity increases when our influence is outside the inspiration of God’s Word.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Philippians 4:11 “content no matter what”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord my security lies in You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are people most anxious about that brings them feelings of insecurity?
  2. Why is work necessary if God will provide what we need?
  3. How do you find contentment?
  4. is there anything which makes you insecure which you should bring before the Lord?

FREEDOM FROM SIN AND GUILT AWAITS US

We often look at the smallest of children as symbols of innocence. Free from any sin or guilt yet it isn’t long before that innocence goes away and human nature appears through acts of disobedience and defiance. As Christians we believe this is innate in all of us through the original sin of Adam and Eve (Romans 5;12). Only Christ can save us from this (vs. 16) and return us to a right relationship with God.

The Word of God speaks of 4 kinds of innocence toward which we should strive. The first is the absolute innocence just mentioned which comes through our relationship with Christ alone (2 Corinthians 5:21). Second our lives should be conducted in a manner in which Christ’s was which is to assure ourselves of legal innocence much like Pilate proclaimed of Christ in Luke 23:4. Making every effort to follow in Christ’s footsteps will help keep us on the right path.

Their are two remaining kinds of innocence. The first is moral innocence. This requires we conduct ourselves in a manner where our conscience remains clean based on our being obedient to God’s law. The last is spiritual innocence. We should be as 2 Peter 3:14 tells us found by our Lord and Savior “in peace, without spot and blameless”. As I have shared often before this requires we live lives displaying the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). A life of innocence in union with our Lord and Savior can be ours. FREEDOM FROM SIN AND GUILT AWAITS US.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Innocence often comes through instruction and influence.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Romans 5:12 “innocence lost by disobedience”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord make me clean.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  Why is Christian parenting so important in the life of children?
  2.  Why does evolution (macro) conflict with original sin and need for Christ?
  3. What is necessary to remain morally innocent?
  4. What is necessary to remain spiritually innocent?

FAITH THAT IS BINDING

An interesting spiritual lesson can be learned from the text recorded in Matthew 9:18-26 which details the story of raising the daughter of Jarius from the dead by Jesus. This was one of 3 such experiences recorded in Scripture and highlights one of the 4 type of miracles that we see Jesus perform during His ministry. The others being removing demons, affecting weather and healing. When Christ was involved in such a healing or miracle we see that it could either be by touch, word or a combination of the two and it invariably affected a wider range of people in the vicinity. It seems that as in this situation that the only requirements were in addition to the presence of Christ that there be a softened heart and humility. With that in place Christ would utter only two words “talitha cumi” meaning maiden arise. When done according to the will of God and for His glory the outcome was inevitable.

Today, as it was for Jarius, death and illness should drive us to Christ. It should make our relationship all the stronger and it should be the message when ever someone has passed on at their funeral service. We need to believe even when all hope seems lost. Only Christ and His power can raise us to life if not on earth then certainly for eternity. Today each of us have an opportunity to build with Christ a FAITH THAT IS BINDING.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Faith flourishes when fully found in our Savior.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Matthew 9:18-26 “true faith”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord give me the faith of Jarius.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How strong is your faith?
  2. Do you come to Jesus in all situations?
  3. How are the miracles of Jesus seen in the world today?
  4. Will you be able to believe when all hope seems lost?

REMOVING SATAN FROM THE SOUL

Certain events stand out in our life that we can recall into our later years. For me the shooting of JFK, the landing on the moon, the terrorist attack on the twin towers are just a few of those. Likewise in the time of Christ there were some defining miracles such as the feeding of the 5000 and the one we look at for a moment today which is the healing of the mute person from demon possession.

As Matthew 9:32-34 tells us Jesus had brought before Him a man possessed by the devil who had made him mute. This was the 5th miracle of the day for Jesus after having had dinner at Matthew’s home. In many ways the example of this man is much like how the devil possesses mankind today by silencing them and often forcing others to make them realize the depth of their sin even to the point of bringing them to Jesus as was done in this example.

One lesson that is garnered from these few verses is that in order to remove the effect you have to remove the cause. Take out the devil and the problem is solved. Seems common sense yet so few understand the logic of this. The key is how to remove satan and the only way is to remove him from the soul and replace him with the Holy Spirit. Once the Holy Spirit is present within us their is no room for anyone else. When we assist or witness such an experience in ourselves or someone else we are witnessing a miracle such as occurred in Matthew 9.

It should also be noted as in this healing that when the devil is confronted directly and unashamedly then he leaves for he has no response. I find that to be the case anytime someone argues irrationally against the Scripture that their response is the same. They either come to a realization of  their wrongs or they remain in their sin. Either way our lives need to be about first and foremost about removing SATAN FROM THE SOUL.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Replacing satan with the Savior in everyone’s  soul should be the job of all Christians.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES: Matthew 9:32-34 “removing satan is the task at hand”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord help me to take on satan head on whenever confronted.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How should a person deal with demon possession?
  2. What are examples of removing evil causes to have a positive effect?
  3. What great events in your past (most especially your journey of faith) do you remember?
  4. What are signs that satan is in someone’s soul?

JESUS REJECTED

If anyone needs to be humbled it is often best to turn to those closest to you such as friends and family. Christ discovered this on his second visit to Nazareth where he had lived and there He received His second rejection.

The Pharisees were a group of individuals that did not see who Christ truly was or perhaps it was that they knew full well and did not want to relinquish their hold on the people at the many levels on which it existed. This example of Jesus rejection is recorded in Matthew 13:54-58. It is in this text that I believe we can learn two primary lessons both dealing with unbelief.

The first is that unbelief is the greatest hindrance to God’s favor. Many of the people of Nazareth and most especially those involved in the Temple such as the Pharisees were not able to bypass who Jesus once was and had now become and looking upon Him as dangerous to their stranglehold on the communities faith they were very vocal against all He did and stood for. It is somewhat like our country when we express unbelief in our foundational Christian faith it hinders us from being all that we can be as well. Not only as a nation but also as individuals as well.

Secondly, unbelief is hazardous to our health. In Mark 6:5-6 we are told that Jesus “could do no mighty works because of their unbelief”. Unbelief on the part of anyone  personally or as a larger group blinds the eye, poisons the heart and robs us of joy. God wants us to develop our faith in Him and our Savior and to realize the fulfillment of all the promises He has given us. The key is that we not be a part of a world that has REJECTED JESUS.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The reality of a rejected Jesus by anyone reaps no rewards.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES: Matthew 13:54-58 “rejection response”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I never reject you in any way.

QUESTIONS TO  THINK ABOUT:

  1. Why didn’t the Nazarenes believe who Jesus really was?
  2. How does our past life influence our present and future?
  3. How many promises does God give us in His Word?
  4. How do you remove unbelief?

FINDING PURPOSE

Our purpose on this earth is actually quite simple. God sent Jesus to us, Jesus first send the Apostles and then Jesus through Scripture directs each of us in Luke 9:2  to “preach the Gospel and heal the sick”. No matter the number of years we are given in this life unless that is our focus and our legacy then we have fallen short of the expectations I believe God has of us.

The best illustration of this is recorded in Luke 9:1-6 and I believe from it there are many lessons we can take with us. First I believe our call to ministry can only come from and through God for in Him is our source of power. We can see that in ministries across our nations where when that is the conviction those ministries are successful sometimes beyond imagination but when someone is sharing the Gospel only to make a living then they as much are guilty of sacrilege.

I believe God’s plan is for us to bring ruin to the kingdom of darkness and we do that by effective preaching and witnessing. This requires that we share the Gospel of faith, hope and love. A faith that helps us to know that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. A hope that can only be found in a relationship with our Lord and Savior and finally showing love to all those around us so that they might come to this understanding. When we conduct ourselves in this manner and preach these words then we can say we have FOUND PURPOSE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: A purposeful plan has preaching about our Triune God as its primary purpose.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Luke 9:1-6 “finding purpose in life”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord help me to fulfill Your purpose for my life.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Have you found your purpose?
  2. How are you fulfilling your purpose?
  3. Do you share your faith, hope and love with others?
  4. How should one handle those who do not want to hear?

SALVATION CAN ONLY BE FOUND IN JESUS!

Recently a US Senator attacked an applicant for a government position for having traditional Christian beliefs. Thankfully the individual replied to this Senator in a polite and compassionate way despite the Senators loud and angry questions. It made me ask myself the question that we should all ask which is: How much do we really believe what we say we believe? In addition we might also ask ourselves: How much are we willing to suffer for those beliefs? Growing up in the Lutheran tradition I have always appreciated the words of Martin Luther when quizzed about his positions by the Roman Catholic church. He once made the statement (and I paraphrase) “that unless you can convince me on the basis of Scripture I cannot recant (take back) what I have written (or spoken). Furthermore here I stand and can do no other”.

Sadly in our now politically correct world the viewpoint that there is only one way to Heaven which is through Jesus (John 14:6) has now nearly become a hate crime for which Christians must be punished. That experience was one that John the Baptist had and as a result of standing firm on his view of ‘one way’ through Jesus he would loose his head literally. This was told of in Matthew 14:1-12 and is rich with spiritual lessons for each of us.

I believe one lesson which men such as John the Baptist and Martin Luther show us is that when we are truly convicted then the Word of God cannot be silenced. In fact with each such persecution event the message grows ever faster. These times are upon us again as the Senator showed and as so many of the ‘elite’ media and comedians on late night television do as well. In fact the more evil a society becomes the more likely its members will attack and even kill Christians.

The good news is that God is still in control and as is so often seen in the Bible and in our lives those who attack us are in some measure now or later going to receive punishment. In addition we have the good news that no matter what the voice of evil might shout it is still true that SALVATION CAN ONLY BE FOUND IN JESUS.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The one and only way is our Savior Jesus Christ.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Matthew 14:1-12 “standing firm in the faith”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I always stay strong in my expression of faith in You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How much do you really believe what you say you believe?
  2. How much are you willing to suffer for your belief in Christ?
  3. Do you stand on the truth of Scripture alone?
  4. How do you respond to someone who attacks your faith?

HAVING A FEW FRIENDS OVER FOR A MEAL!

There is only one miracle I am told that is in all 4 Gospels and that is the feeding of the 5000. It happens as a result of a crowd gathering to hear Christ’s message and bring their sick to Him. The time was difficult as Jesus had just heard about his first cousin John the Baptist’s beheading and they may well have been tired from their other journeys yet the crowds came.

Christ as we know did not turn anyone away nor scold them for their desires but rather in an orderly manner went about His work. The miracle was that a few loaves of bread and a few fish were turned into a feast for the 5000 men and their families who had gathered and when it was all over there were still 12 baskets of ‘crumbs’ left that were gathered up.

The message in this miracle are many beginning with the fact that although I suspect most thought it ludicrous that these few rations could feed a moderate size city we are to always be obedient. Mankind in difficult circumstances tend to focus on the problem when our focus as followers of Christ is to put that focus on Him. It is as one popular Christian hymn verse tells us which is to always “turn our eyes upon Jesus”.  Doing so we know Jesus will give what He promises and that in the vernacular of some is what is truly ‘cool’.

It is time our society understand that our Lord and Savior wants us to know fulfillment both  physically and spiritually (body, soul and spirit). His entry point for each of us may be different meeting us where our needs are but we should never doubt that He is all sufficient to meet every need. After we understand this then it is time we go out and help others. TO HAVE A FEW FRIENDS OVER FOR A MEAL (and so much more).

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: We each should make meaningful miracles like our Master for the multitude.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Luke 9:10-17 “the message from the 5000”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord help me serve others as you have served us.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are ways that you can multiply what you have for the benefit of others?
  2. Is there a message in how people are to be helped by feeding the soul and person at the same time?
  3. What organizations most represent this type of ministry in our society today?
  4. Do you believe in a policy of ‘waste not, want not’ as you are going through life?