CAST INTO EVERLASTING FIRE!

Satan is alive and well (for now). He is not the cute halloweened costumed character in red with a pitch fork and smirk on his face. What he is is the source of all evil sending out demons to draw millions away from God and by using pride and other character traits follow the devil himself.

Any action by any individual or group to remove God’s Word from our daily life is an action inspired by satan. Christ spoke this very sentiment in Mark 4:15. To make mankind turn away from God, satan has to find individuals willing to attack Scripture and Christianity. Those who in any way are part of this are demon possessed not unlike Judas was (John 13:27).

What satan seeks, and has always sought, is to be worshiped like God. This was made evident at the time of the temptation of Christ (Luke 4:6-8). As Christ said so should we say: “Get behind me satan”.

Sadly millions fall for his lies every day as he is the great deceiver (Revelations 12:9). Many in fact may think they are good Christians when in reality they are not following the truth Scripture lays out for our lives. Today we need to beware of any who would cause us to doubt God’s Word (Genesis 3:1) or even those who might twist Scripture as occurred during the second temptation of Christ.

Should any who fall for the ways of satan there is only one ultimate end. Christ shares that end with us in Matthew 25:41. The devil and his followers will be CAST INTO EVERLASTING FIRE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: All who serve satan will be sacrificing salvation.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Matthew 25:41 “Hell is a place of everlasting punishment”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I never leave your side.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are satan’s methods of deception?
  2. How is God’s Word being removed from our daily lives?
  3. What do you know about the satanic ‘church’?
  4. How does one fight satan?

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?

THE FARMER

I am not a farmer, although I grew 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?

 

A SOURCE OF ENCOURAGEMENT!

For a moment consider who it is that is the person or persons who when you need a lift up gives it to you. There are many ways it can be done. By their thoughts, word or deeds we feel better in their presence. Not everyone has that skill or chooses to have it. The reason as A. W. Tozier once said is the “opaque veil that hides the face of God”. That veil is a self-centered nature that does not share God’s image with others through our lives.

Acts 11:23 shares with us the example of Barnabas who it is said “encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord”. Barnabas as our role model in this regard was an interesting person. We are first told of how he encouraged in Acts 4:36-37 where we see him selling his land and giving it to the movement of the early Christian church. Today giving to church for many beyond a token amount is like having your teeth pulled much less giving a substantial amount.

Barnabas making the apostles comfortable with Paul (formerly Saul) in Acts 9:27 displayed his skills as an intermediary. Bringing people with the same mission together. A mission to further God’s Kingdom on earth.

Barnabas was the person everyone needs in their organization. He was a ‘worker bee’ carrying whatever proverbial water was needed to  wherever it was needed. We see this as more of his life is laid out in Acts 11:22-30. In fact as he traveled with Paul he was looked upon with such favor that they referred to him like the Greek god Zeus. He certainly was well thought of holding the ear of the only church council in Jerusalem (Acts 15:12).

Barnabas certainly was a role model for all who are able and desire to uplift others. Despite this he was still human and had his faults occasionally carried away (as are many of us) by the hypocrisy of the times (Galatians 2:13). Despite this flaw he as well as each of us should always strive to be A SOURCE OF ENCOURAGEMENT.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Barnabas boldness brings beauty to what it means to be Christian.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Acts 11:23 “The example of Barnabas”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I desire to be a source of encouragement for others.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How can you be a source of encouragement for others?
  2. Are you willing to do and give as much as Barnabas for the mission of furthering God’s Kingdom on earth?
  3. What types of activities do the ‘worker bees’ of the church do?
  4. Have you volunteered to help in some way in your House of Worship?

COME AND SEE!

For many it is difficult to tell others about Jesus though that is the ‘Great Commission’ given to all believers. In this reluctance we have as our role model one of the apostles better referred to as emissaries (those who are sent out) by the name of Philip. For those who love horses this is your emissary to have as a role model for his name bespeaks a love of horses. It also tells us a great deal more beginning with the fact that he brought Nathanial to Jesus and the manner he did it is our example if we are reserved in our role to bring others to Christ.

Philip we are told in John 1:46 simply said “come and see” to Nathanial. Philip was one of the least mentioned apostles who it is said not only had a Greek name but spoke it also. His love for the Greeks and their trust in him is indicated in John 12:20-22. The lesson we can learn from Philip here is that even the least mentioned of us can go to our own people or perhaps within our own communities and instead of getting into deep Biblical discussions simply invite them to a Bible believing church by saying “come and see (for yourself)”.

Philip is also of the first 12 apostles or emissaries the one who had some reservations himself not unlike many of us. This is indicated in his being tested by Christ before the feeding of the 5000 (John 6:5-7). If we have ever been uncertain we can know that those who knew Christ personally felt the same way but they overcame it.

Philip had to be gently rebuked by Christ (John 14:8-12) until he too realized the power Christ had placed within him. A man by the name of W.A. Criswell once said that the “first impulse of a born again Christian is to win somebody to Jesus”. That impulse should be in each of us so that as Philip one day we will gather in an upper room spoken of in Acts 1:9-14 only for us the upper room will be in Heaven. Until then look around yourself and invite others to simply COME AND SEE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Philip’s persuasiveness came through his personal dedication to promoting our Lord.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: John 1:46 “how to bring someone to Christ”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord lead me to tell others to “come and see” who You are.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How difficult is it for you to tell others about Jesus?
  2. What does it mean to be an emissary (sent out) for Jesus?
  3. Who can you invite to “come and see”?
  4. Who do you want in the upper room (Heaven) with you one day?

 

SATAN WANTS A ‘D’!

Life would (and one day will) be grand if it were not for satan for it is he who desires a ‘d’ in every respect. It is satan who wants to depress us, defeat us, cause disunity and ultimately destroy us.

As Christian believers we must not allow this to happen in our lives and the life that takes place around us. Certainly it is not God’s plan for our lives as He would have us experience all the good He created which is contrary to satan.

For this to happen we turn to Abraham as our example who had what Judaism refers to as a ‘resurrection faith’ which means that he trusted in God when everything within your human nature would say it is impossible. This example of trust (faith) is seen in Romans 4:16-25 where we read of Abraham known as the ‘Father of true believers’ trusting God that he would still be the father of many nations even though Sarah his wife was childless and age 90 and he himself was age 99.

When we like Abraham have this kind of faith which is a “no questions asked” kind of faith we then bank righteousness which is the building of a character approved by God.

Abraham, who descended from Shem who was one of Noah’s 3 sons and who survived the great flood was key in the lineage of Christ (Matthew 10:1).  He also foresaw Christ’s coming (John 8:56) and in his justification by his faith found an eternal home in heaven (Luke 16:19-25).

Today we need to take on the faith of Abraham and cast satan aside for it is in the example of Abraham’s faith that we experience God’s goodness.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The example of Abraham is to abide and abound in the goodness of God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Romans 4:21 “the trust of Abraham”.

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

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How are you countermanding the four d’s of satan?
  2. How can you grow into an Abraham like faith and trust?
  3. How could it be that Abraham would foresee Christ centuries after he had physically died?
  4. Do you have a resurrection faith not unlike Abraham?

RELATED BLOG: Are you growing in your faith?

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

In my personal devotion today Pastor David Jeremiah shared some information on the man Moses who is revered among 3 religions and spoken of more in the New Testament than any other Old Testament figure. As we go through life building our legacy Moses is someone we can look to as a role model. Guilty of manslaughter as a youth Moses turned his life around and was admired for his bravery, faithfulness, compassion, loyalty and vision.

Looking at the life of Moses we begin with the fact that he was a believer in God and a hero of the faith listed among others in Hebrews 11:24-29. As verse 25 tells us he gave up the pleasures of sin for time spent with Christians and the suffering they faced.

Moses as mentioned earlier was also faithful to God even to the extent that his faithfulness would be remembered long afterward. For me that is important as well being brought up in a family where parents and especially my one grandfather emphasized the study of the Bible and importance of the church to our lives.

Humility which I believe God truly desires of His followers was also part of who Moses was (Numbers 12:3). Today humility remains key to a strong Christian character yet with societies efforts to get us to focus on self to the extent it does and its rush to bestow titles and awards for most every action makes humility difficult to live by yet God appreciated that of Moses.

Moses was also respected (Exodus 33:8). Respect is shown by our manners around other people. Knowing when to stand, sit or offer our hand are a few of many ways this is shown. One example that we may occasionally experience is when doors need opening or a seat is given up to an elderly person. Easily done and speaks volumes of the person offering it.

Finally we see Moses as being logical especially when speaking to God (Number 14:12-20). The ability to use our brain and express things in a logical fashion even to God in prayer is important. As the old saying goes “God gave us a brain now we need to use it”. When asked the question WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE my answer is simple. I am a man of God who desires to live life as great men such as Moses did.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Moses was a man who we could mold ourselves after.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Hebrews 11:23-28 “Moses, a hero of faith”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord help me build my life around the heroes of the faith.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What will future generations remember about your faithfulness?
  2. How does one show humility in today’s world?
  3. How can we show respect to others?
  4. How do you build your thinking skills?

GALILEE: A PLACE OF WELCOME

In an ongoing effort to occasionally bring you some thoughts on one of the 175 events accorded to the life of Christ I would like to share with you a time when Christ returned to Galilee prior to performing His second miracle. In Galilee it seems Jesus was most comfortable and was a place where many if not most miracles were performed and where much of His ministry took place. Galilee has always been a fascinating place for me with a mountainous terrain and where many of the 12 Disciples would come from that Christ held closest to Himself. It is not unlike leaders today turning to those who come from a person’s home area serving as closest advisers often time. What is also interesting about Galilee is that it was the fulfillment of prophecy written hundreds of years earlier in Isaiah 9:1-2. To me that is evidence that we live under God’s Divine Providence and that He guides the lives of those who follow Him to ultimately carry out the plan He had for mankind.

I believe that Galilee also shows us that when God through Jesus Christ feels welcome miracles and blessings will follow as they did in Galilee. That should be a loud message to each of us that if we welcome Jesus warmly into our lives wonderful things will take place. One person said it best when it was said that “when you want what God wants then God wants what you want”. Wise words to live by.

Finally I believe we all need to look to a safe place of refuge somewhere in our lives just as Jesus did to Galilee (John 4:1-3). Only good things can come from having such an environment in our lives. Just as GALILEE WAS A PLACE OF WELCOME  for Christ so should each of our hearts become such a place. It is inevitable that blessings will follow thereafter.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: As Galilee gave comfort to Jesus so should God’s Word give equal comfort to each of us.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: John 4:43-45 “Christ returns to those who welcome Him most”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I welcome you into my heart for all time.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What all does the Scripture tell us about Galilee that can most especially be applied to our lives today?
  2. Where is a place of refuge for yourself in this world?
  3. Who do you turn to first when most needing support for a cause you want to champion?
  4. With God’s presence in your life have you discovered additional blessings?

 

 

IT’S ALL ABOUT LIGHT!

Our lives revolve around light. We seek it out at every opportunity. When it is cloudy we go into a kind of funk waiting for the sun to shine again. So it is with our spiritual lives as well. Unless the ‘Son’ of God shines in our lives our lives will remain in this state of ‘funkness(?)’.

For a moment I would like to examine the life of a Biblical figure named Cyrus whose name means ‘sun’ and who shed light on some important issues. When Cyrus was King of Persia as a Gentile he issued a decree after being stirred up by the Spirit of God to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:4). In that regard he set a precedent that should still be followed today where Gentile and Jew work together in helping one another. It is one of many examples I use for my continuing emphasis on our need to support Israel especially during these difficult times.

In this regard we see where to be a part of light in this world you need to be as Cyrus was a ‘rebuilder (Isaiah 45:28)’. It is so critical that we be such a person in the areas which affect us daily: faith, family, freedom, friends and for many their finances as well.

I believe as a devout Christian each of us has been appointed as Cyrus was (Isaiah 45:1) to such a task. To do that we must liberate those who live in darkness and that means putting on the full armor of God and most especially the ‘armor of light’ spoken of in Romans 13:12. For truly IT’S ALL ABOUT LIGHT.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Cyrus causes us to consider the importance of light as we consider our role as Crusaders for Christ.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Ezra 1:4 “Jews and Gentile cooperation”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord light my path before me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is your understanding of the importance of light?
  2. What in our lives and in our world need rebuilding?
  3. How can we begin the steps to rebuilding in each of these areas?
  4. How can you help others become liberated?

A FAVORITE PLACE TO TRAVEL

We are a nation of travelers. We enjoy going to places where we re-unite with family, experience some special event or simply to take some time off to rest or rejuvenate ourselves. The one place often overlooked in all this is the place(s) we should most desire to travel to which is a place of worship. For so many getting ourselves and family ready to go to church is more than we can bare or so we think. We may even fall back on the old adage that “God’s presence is everywhere” so we can worship at home or any number of places.

To put all this in perspective we need to look at how God’s chosen (nation of Israel) journeyed or toke extended trips and it begins with their center of worship which was and is Jerusalem. They would travel there at least 3 times a year (Passover, Pentecost, Sukkot). These journeys, as should ours whether they be on a Sabbath morning or otherwise, generally began with prayer. Paul exemplified this in Romans 1:10. Prayer for guidance and safety should be done but even more so to a place where we can worship God with all our attention.

What is important in all our planning for life’s many journeys is that we begin with a faith which produces dependence on God. If God wills for us to have a successful journey it will happen (James 4:15). The key is that in our selection of A FAVORITE PLACE TO TRAVEL we look to come to Him first. That center of worship begins in your heart, journeys to a center of worship and then acknowledges God’s presence wherever we are.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Journeys of joy begin with Jesus.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Romans 1:10 “prayer in preparation for a journey”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I always seek your presence.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is your favorite place to journey?
  2. Do you seek out God’s house (a church) regularly?
  3. If God is present everywhere why do we need a church building?
  4. What makes Jerusalem so important?