THE ONE VEHICLE THAT WILL TAKE US TO OUR DESTINATION

Our journey has come to its end. As each of us travel through this  place and time, and have journeyed over these past 5 years, we have come upon many sites where we stopped a moment to consider its influence on our journey but as we considered yesterday our final destination was and always will be the “eternal city”.

Today we conclude with what vehicle we use that will help us reach our destination. The world offers a great many models on the showroom floor (secularism, marxism, post modernism, new spirituality, islam, etc.). Some are for show only and won’t even start. Only one can be driven off (Christianity) with a GPS (the Word of God) that guarantees we will reach our destination.

That Word of God spoken of since the time of the prophets is the Holy Scriptures (Romans 1:2) that is “living and powerful, piercing and discerning all thoughts and intents of the heart”(Hebrews 4:12). In fact as Paul shares in Philippians 2:16 the Word of God is life itself and isn’t that what everyone seeks-life.

This day there is only one travel guide or vehicle we need. It is the Holy Bible of our Christian faith. It consists of Old Testament law as Christ acknowledged in the words of Mark 7 and New Testament Gospel. It is God’s revelation to us seen and spoken through the life of Christ and recorded in the Holy Word. It is THE ONE VEHICLE THAT WILL TAKE US TO OUR DESTINATION.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The Word of God is the only writing that has any true worth.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Philippians 2:16 “the Word of God is the Word of life”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for Your Word.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  How does Christianity differ from all other worldviews?
  2.  Why is the Bible God’s one and only recorded Word?
  3.  Why does the Bible continue to remain the most sought after book year after year?
  4.  Are you a devout Christian and if so why?

 

LIVING UNDER GRACE

In pioneer time, as some do today, animals would be yoked together in order to unite them for purposes of work. The yoke served its purpose but many an animal would fight the yoke until broken to it. Scripture references a yoke in much the same fashion. Until we understand the yoke properly it is figurative of oppression (Deuteronomy 28:49), subject to demonic influence and may cause us to be under submission such as noted in Jeremiah 27:8. This is brought on by our living lives captive to sin (Lamentations 2:14).

The question might then be asked if a yoke is ever easy to bear and the answer is most certainly yes. When the yoke is looked upon as total commitment to godliness through the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ Himself offers this to each of us as seen in his own words recorded in Matthew 11:28-30. When we acknowledge God’s sovereignty over our lives our willing obedience to all of His Word comes naturally. Being a Christian is no longer legalistic with strict works required of us. We now have lives that are changed both in our inward manner and our outer behavior. Indeed now we are LIVING UNDER GRACE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: A yoke that yields to our Lord is an easy burden to bear.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Matthew 11:28-30 “Christ defines what a yoke should be”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I desire to be yoked to You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  Are you yoked with Jesus?
  2.  Have you experienced true freedom?
  3.  Does living out a life of faith come natural for you?
  4.  Are there any burdens you still bear?

A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

Each of us in our lifetime will choose a belief system. Those who claim to have none fall under the beliefs of secularism, humanism or materialism. In the instance of every religion there is cause, effect and accountability in some fashion. As a Christian I choose to believe in a God who created all (cause) for mankind who having all fell into sin (effect) and now our accountability requires a Savior Jesus Christ.

But what of the hundreds of other religions including some who claim the label Christian? We can’t all be right (despite those who claim many paths to God). How do you determine a false religion. First is to judge the religion or faith against the truth of God’s Word. I believe many, including some Christian, have been and are deceiving followers but are under satan’s authority (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). This is apostasy. The description of these backsliders is well described in Jeremiah 5:23-31.

An additional way to detect false religions are those caught up in ceremonialism of which Mark 7:3-13 speaks. What our Lord and Savior desire are the heart’s of mankind and not the many outward symbols and human created traditions. Christ shared this concern in His Words recorded in Matthew 6:5. One example was prayer where the intent was evident. We need to understand the desire of God is simple heart to heart conversation with no interference. Indeed the true power of a right Christian faith is not in formalism from which we should turn away (2 Timothy 3:5) but in our having A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: False religions rejoice in the reign of the great deceiver.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 “false religion is characterized by a falling away from the one true God”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord keep me on the straight and narrow way.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do you deal with those who don’t hold to the Bible as God’s Word?
  2. What deceptions in the Christian faith should we watch out for?
  3. What ceremonies and displays are evident in the church today?
  4. Do you have a personal relationship with God?

WHY?

For every effect there is a cause. To find that cause a good journalist or one who seeks the truth has to ask the five tough questions of who, what, when, where and why. The how then seems to fall right in place. This is important when understanding the nature of justification. An act which considers all of us guilty via original sin yet innocent before God. My understanding is that though we are born in sin, Christ’s death redeemed us from sin and by His grace we are saved. In other words we can’t earn our way to salvation but we can fall out of grace.

With this understanding my works become the evidence of my faith as explained in James 2:14-26. There are numerous ways faith can be shown as being dead. A death that exists when the body is without the spirit (vs. 26). When the Holy Spirit is present within us and our faith is alive then the entire world outlook changes.

When we are justified and receive it fully into our lives then life is running on all its cylinders and the fruits are many. Scripture tells us we will understand the concept of forgiveness, we will live in peace and holiness and we will know the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7).

The evidence of this will be our works as understood earlier in my comments. It will also be seen in our wisdom (understanding) mentioned in James 3:17, our patience (James 5:7-8) and perhaps even a need to suffer (James 5:10) as Christ’s Apostles and Disciples did before us. When confronted about the reason for your Christian faith this becomes the answer to the question of WHY?

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: God’s justification shows us just before the divine judgment.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: James 2:14-26 “How faith proves itself”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for taking away my guilt.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. In what ways can faith be shown as dead?
  2. How does man abuse the idea of justification (reason used for actions)?
  3. How can a perfect God and His Word be used to justify our lifestyle?
  4. Why are fully understanding the who,what,when,where, why and how important in all matters we question?

IMITATION CAN TAKE US FAR

In a recent travel I had the opportunity to visit a sacred Jewish site. It was asked of us as we entered to wear a Yarmulke (skull cap). For those few moments I felt a sense of identifying with the Jewish nation. In a fashion I was imitating them. It is said that “imitation is the best form of flattery” and indeed it is. In fact it is also Scripturally sound.

Paul expressed it best with the words: “imitate me as I imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1)”. For we who call ourselves Christians that is the very least God would hope and expect from us. I do so willingly because of the results I see from Christ’s leadership shown in His time on earth and His life lived in all that is the fullness of God (Colossions 2:9).

God’s Word tells us that if we are going to live our lives in the religious (non-secular) realm then living as those who truly are in obedience to the one true God is what we are to do and Christ as fully man and fully God is our #1 role model (Hebrews 13:7-8). In a very real sense this brings alive the words to “put our money (and all else) where our mouth is”. No more hypocrisy if you call yourself Christian.

In this regard Stephen perhaps led the way. He showed that martyrdom for the faith is noble. His death being an imitation of the Lord’s only by stoning rather than the cross (Acts 7:59). As followers of our Triune God we are given instruction as recorded in Hebrews 6:12 to imitate the heroes of our faith for they understood as can we the promises we will one day inherit. Indeed IMITATION CAN TAKE US FAR.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Imitation when identifying with Christ will lead to a rich inheritance.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 11:1 “importance of imitation”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may my life imitate Yours.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What does it mean to imitate Christ in a very real fashion?
  2. Who’s lives do you flatter through imitation?
  3. What is the relationship between obedience and leadership?
  4. How would your life change if you ‘imitated’ Christ?

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?

“DADDY”

Growing up as a child speaking German there was a prayer I said before eating that began with the words ‘Abba Vater’ which can be translated as ‘daddy’ for indeed God is our loving Father. When we acknowledge God as our Father we become heirs with God and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-17). I believe it is important for us to take some time and let that soak in. No matter our circumstances in this life we have the ultimate Father. No excuses for our behavior.

As joint heirs with Christ that makes us heirs of ALL things (Hebrews 1:2). Obviously that does not mean we can go out and take whatever we want but it does give a new perspective to the once popular song “this land is your land”. Carrying it further we are now seeds of Abraham and heirs according to all promises given him (Galatians 2:29). This does not come automatically to every one but only those who come to it through faith (Romans 4:13-14) by grace (Acts 15:11).

What is special at this point is we begin to realize our inheritance even as we live in this life. One example is the presence of ministering angels who help us prepare for the salvation that will ultimately be ours (Hebrews 1:13-14). Indeed throughout Scripture believers are assured of eternal life (Titus 3:7). In this life there is no child without a father as we all can have the ultimate DADDY.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Our heritage is that we are spiritual heirs of Heaven.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Romans 8:17 “joint heirs with Christ”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for adopting me as Your child.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What does it mean to have God as our Father?
  2. What were the promises made to Abraham?
  3. What does it mean to have a ministering angel?
  4. Do you have a saving faith?

 

A PATH OPEN TO EVERYONE

There are a great many groups or organizations people strive to join only to grow weary of them or seeing them dissolve or become obsolete over time. The one ‘club’ everyone should desire to join, where the membership benefits are indescribable and will last forever, sadly many turn their back on.

This ‘club’ we refer to as the Christian faith and it is open to all. The only requirement is to “call upon the name of the Lord” (Romans 10:13). Naturally, you need to be serious in doing so meaning you place your trust in Jesus (John 6:37) and acknowledge His divine nature (John 14:6). A person can remain any culture they come from such as Jew or Gentile, only needing to accept Christ as their Savior. As Paul shared in Acts 4:12 “there is salvation in no other name under Heaven”.

The evidence lies in the written Word of God (John 20:31). Books and Words that help us “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God”. A book that should be in every home, school and public place for it alone has the written word that can save mankind. A Book that speaks of Christ Who will show us there is A PATH OPEN TO EVERYONE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Christ’s plan is not exclusive but open to all who exclaim His Name.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Romans 10:13 “What is necessary to be saved”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I fully accept You as my Savior.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Is the Christian faith exclusive or inclusive?
  2. How difficult is it to become a Christian?
  3. What is a Messianic believer?
  4. Have you placed your trust in Jesus?

TOTALLY AMAZED!

It seems as if it takes more and more to totally amaze us as advancements in technology and other areas of life jettison us forward. Each day I look for that which astonishes (an emotion of perplexed amazement) to make my life more interesting.

Today we will look at what caused amazement or astonishment in the Bible. The first was God’s judgment on mankind. Often I believe we are too quick to dismiss evil governments and disastrous weather events as not being an act of judgement. Of course not all are but as Israel experienced in 1 Kings 9:8-9 weather trends and events certainly can be. If we forsake God His judgement can be very real.

The Bible also speaks of astonishment at the urgent message some ministries are so capable of sharing. There are few revivals in our American culture any more though badly needed but wherever in the world they do occur it is amazing to see their impact. For myself having experienced one it was life transforming and amazing indeed.

Miracles certainly astonish. A good example of that is King Nebuchadnezzar’s reaction to Daniel’s friends protected from intense fire (Daniel 3:24). Those miracles showing God’s presence still occur today yet many credit the event to someone or something other than God.

Certainly the life of Christ should amaze or astonish. Each time I open the Scripture His Words (Luke 2:47) astonish me. Most especially in guiding me into a life where “it all fits” together so well under His guidance.

Finally, what is amazing to me are the great conversions that continue to take place around us. Especially where Christian persecution is taking place. Indeed much in creation that is majestic can amaze or astonish but nothing so much as what God has done, is doing and will continue to do in the lives of people. That is what leads me to be TOTALLY AMAZED.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Astonishment occurs when you associate yourself with the atonement of Christ.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Acts 10:45 “the astonishment of conversions”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I am totally amazed after turning my life over to You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are different ways God has shown judgment on mankind?
  2. What astonishing ministries does Scripture speak of?
  3. What miracles have you seen or heard of?
  4. Where are great conversions to the Christian faith occurring today?

LIVING WITHOUT FEAR!

ISIS, illness and death, phobias of every kind imaginable and even political campaigns bring fear to peoples lives. If we chose we could live in fear constantly driving us away from God and/or the secure life He desires for each of us.

If we desire to live without fear then we simply need to read Psalm 112:7 where we are told that the blessings of those who fear (trust) in God is that we will “not be afraid of evil tidings”. In fact the entire chapter of Psalm 112 provides us with assurances that should bring us a serene and calm spirit that is secure and unafraid.

If Psalm 112 is not enough then I would suggest looking further into Scripture that can lead us to a life that is fearless beginning with Numbers 13:30 in the example of Caleb who “quieted (brought calm)” to the people because of His and there belief in God’s promises. That assurance is also found in Romans 8:28 and numerous other places.

Paul was another example of fearlessness when we read in Acts 27:22-26 how his strength came from his belief in God. Indeed that is as it should be. Our faith should turn any bad news into topics for prayer and objects of trust. The answer to our LIVING WITHOUT FEAR is that we have the hope that only a Christian can have.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Fearlessness comes with faithfulness to God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 112:7 “living unafraid”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen my faith.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Do you live without fear?
  2. Why or why not?
  3. What promises has God given us?
  4. What are you doing to strengthen your faith?