WALK IN THE TRUE SPIRIT

At times I suspect many of us have moved around aimlessly without any purpose. It certainly has no exercise benefit due to how its carried out. If anything it allows the ‘wanderer’ a time to think and organize their thoughts.

Today zombie movies are all the rage. They personify an aimless lifestyle best. In Scripture Cain had this curse placed upon him for having killed his brother Abel. We are told in Genesis 4:12 and 14 that he would be a “fugitive and vagabond on earth”. Truth be told no matter what form it takes all wicked for their unrepentant sin will wander continually (Psalm 109:1-13) and sadly so will often be the fate of their families.

When sin takes over a life it digs in deep. It builds fences around people where it often seems impossible to find even a small gate by which you, through the power of God, can break through. That in fact is the only way to help someone end a futile life. To command the evil spirit leave (Acts 19:13) and by the power of God once again return to a life created in God’s image and WALK IN THE TRUE SPIRIT.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Wanderers are most often in spiritual warfare waiting for someone to show them God’s way.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Genesis 2:14 “an aimless life is a curse”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord give me continual purpose.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. Have you ever had ‘wandering’ experiences?

2. Who are the wanderer’s in today’s world and why are they wandering?

3. How can you help someone break out of this vagabond lifestyle?

4. What is it to walk in the Spirit?

 

PAYMENT FOR WORK PERFORMED

The discussion of wages causes conflict in so many ways that it is appropriate we have a basic understanding of God’s Word regarding the matter. The phrase that comes most to mind when speaking of wages is Romans 6:23 that the  “wages of sin is (spiritual) death”. Since wages are a payment for work performed we know that continuing in sin leads one to spiritual death now and for all eternity. Thankfully the remainder of vs. 23 tells us a way out.

Three principles regarding wages are important to know. First they must be paid promptly (Deuteronomy 24:15). When payments are delayed you get into situations of credit and loans which can easily lead into some tragic outcomes. It seems to me the view of cash and carry and keeping bills paid currently is very scriptural.

Principle two is that holding back wages is a sin and forbidden (James 5:4). In fact it is considered fraudulent. At times someone might feel a person’s work is poorly done and so something is held back. Problem is the quality of work received and the agreed upon wages are two separate matters.

Finally monies gained from means that are contrary to Scripture should not be given in church coffers. Monies where some fraudulent method was used are not what God seeks. A days work for a days wage that is carried out to the best of ones abilities are wages well deserved and to be tithed back to the work of God’s Kingdom. In this way we honor PAYMENT FOR WORK PERFORMED.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Watch carefully how wages are earned and withhold not from willingly giving to the work of furthering God’s Kingdom.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Deuteronomy 24:15 “wages must be paid promptly”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord guide me in my money management.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  Loans, credits and holding payments can cause what sort of conflict?
  2.  Some countries for their church membership assess a tax. Is this Biblical?
  3.  How do you separate work done from wages received?
  4.  What are sinful ways money is gained that should not go to churches?

A HEAVENLY FRAME OF MIND

To be a person of the world for many is an important matter. We strive to be well traveled, well read and well connected. We desire to be linked in as one internet program encourages. To the extent that it adds meaning and purpose to life it is not all bad unless it leads one away from God’s Kingdom and the furtherance of it. Christ said as much telling all to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Here He was speaking of basic things yet I believe the Lord blesses those who call Him Father often in far greater ways as well.

Each of us need to join Paul and say “it is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 5:20). In fact how we live in this world takes on a whole new dynamic. We now become “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2) to God not “conformed by this world but transformed”. We now seek a heavenly mind (Colossians 3:1-2) looking for and toward Jesus (Hebrew 12:1-2).

Things of this world play a much smaller role in our life. The ways of the world discussed in the media and elsewhere now fall into a different perspective. You see life in a new and more vibrant way. You now have A HEAVENLY FRAME OF MIND.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: To be unworldly requires we understand the importance of being united with Christ.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Galatians 2:20 “Live for Jesus”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I look to You in all matters.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. Should a Christian believer mix in worldly affairs?

2. How do worldly affairs have an evil influence?

3. What does it mean to seek God’s Kingdom first?

4. Describe a Heavenly mind?

SEEK THAT WHICH IS PURE IN ALL THINGS

Some years ago I met a Jewish rabbi on his way to Bridgewater, SD where he was involved in making kosher (clean) the killing of buffalo if my memory serves me correct. At that time the concept of ‘uncleanness’ was not on my mind as it is this morning.

Throughout history of Jewish and Gentile people we have attributed uncleanness to demonic forces which cause illness, mental issues such as depression and moral temptation plus so much more. As a body humanity desires purity in all its many aspects. In fact we live in a world of contrasts with the demonic side representing death, illness, sin and hell while God in all His purity represents life, health, freedom from sin and Heaven.

The laws of purity are many and good for us to be aware of and follow. We should all seek purification such as spoken of in Isaiah 6:5-7. That involves a knowledge of God’s Word (Bible) and prayer (1 Timothy 4:5).

This process of purification (in a sense being made kosher) is necessary because we are all unclean (Ecclesiastes 7:20) even if righteous. That includes our entire body, soul and spirit (Isaiah 1:5). If we wish to be found blameless we must repent crying out the words of Psalm 51:4 “against You (God) have I sinned…” With this renewed faith (belief) we then should desire to be baptized (Ezekiel 36:25) with the cleansing water of forgiveness. Take captive every thought, word and deed and SEEK THAT WHICH IS PURE IN ALL THINGS.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Uncleanness is brought about by a lack of understanding and unbelief.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Ezekiel 36:25 “cleansing by water”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I desire all that which is pure in Your Kingdom.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are the laws of purity?
  2. What contrasts exist in life between pure and evil?
  3. How does the devil play on our human nature causing us evil?
  4. What steps are you taking to purify your life?

OATH OF ALLEGIANCE

Every day most of us make a vow of one sort or another. A vow is a voluntary pledge to fulfill an agreement. It is often done in holding to traditions and is no more or less than what Christ tells us in Matthew 5:37. Today we would say our word is our bond or our handshake is our agreement. Those who hold to this understanding are those who are constrained by the Holy Spirit to act accordingly.

Jewish tradition generally held that vows were short term lasting 1-3 months and could only be broken if done in exaggeration (see Jephthah’s vow in Judges 11:1-12:7), made in error or made under duress.

Oaths, especially done in the name of God, on the other hand were forbidden (Matthew 5:33-36). Oaths have a more solemn and eternal aspect. They are held in abeyance to God’s Word, his command to love and to live in righteousness. The key is when we use the name of God we need to be careful how we do so.

Returning to vows there are numerous examples such as what one gives to the church (Psalm 76:11) especially in tithing (Genesis 28:22), or perhaps pledges made when becoming a part of a tradition (Numbers 6:1-21). The key whatever the pledge is it must be voluntary , spoken and binding save for the earlier explanation. All this being said may we pledge our thoughts, words and deeds to God in fulfilling His Word in our lives and all those we touch in His Kingdom and may our OATH OF ALLEGIANCE be to God first and foremost.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Vows should never be spoken in vain.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Matthew 5:33-37 “oaths and vows”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord You are all I need.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  How is the pledge of allegiance a vow and not an oath?
  2.  How have vows changed especially in recent years?
  3.  Is it right to say ‘so help me God’ in a court of law or elsewhere?
  4.  What oaths and/or vows have you made?

REMEMBER TO STAY IN THE WORD

Life is not complicated. Each of us can choose one of two paths. A way of righteousness (acceptable in the eyes of God) or unrighteousness (wickedness). The paths are so far apart you cannot bound back and forth. At the end of the righteousness path is reward and the Kingdom of Heaven. At the end of the unrighteous path of life is a burning fire of punishment (Isaiah 66:24). Harsh words that you can choose to believe or not but if you accept the Bible as God’s Word it is reality.

The good news is we have a righteous Messiah who died for all including the unrighteous (Romans 5:6-8). That death gives us opportunity to change. We can remain in wickedness or turn in obedience to God. Either way know that one day ALL will be raised from the dead (Daniel 12:2). Some to everlasting life and others to everlasting death.

In this world we need to be aware of who the unrighteous are. First they are all who would suppress the truth (Romans 1:18). As God’s Word is truth they would want to remove it whenever possible and at the very least argue against it. Examples of unrighteous behavior can be found in Romans 1:29-32. Not only do they act in such wicked manner but they take great pleasure in their unrighteous lifestyle. For their doing so we know the outcome.

For the righteous our response to this behavior is guided by God’s Word. In the Word we are told not to fellowship with the unrighteous (2 Corinthians 6:14). For indeed light is incompatible with darkness. Always remain humble in God’s Word but also REMEMBER TO STAY IN THE WORD.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The unrighteous are unworthy of union with Christ.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 6:14 “the righteous must not fellowship with the unrighteous”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord keep me in the truth.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. What is your attitude toward the unrighteous?

2. Where is unrighteousness most evident?

3. How does understanding the end result affect you?

4. How did Christ relate to the unrighteous?

 

THROWN INTO THE FIRE

It is hard to imagine anyone wanting to go through this life and not wanting to or being fruitful. Not just fruitful or productive in an ordinary way but in a God pleasing way. The cause is easily noticed when you look around. One such cause is from unfaithfulness to the Word of God. An example in Isaiah 5:1-7 points out those are individuals who would seek oppression rather than justice and live a life of unrighteousness.

A second cause is desiring to be friends of the world or being worldly more than being of God. James 4:4 tells us that “whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God”. Caution is well advised when the ways of the world that go contrary to Scripture seem inviting.

These causes as well as pleading negligence (Luke 19:20-27) will one day be no defense when standing before the Lord. In addition Christ assures us that punishment begins by His rejection of the unfruitful in this life (John 15:6). Worse is the punishment yet to come. One that is described in Matthew 3:10 as being THROWN INTO THE FIRE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Being unfruitful makes one unworthy of being rewarded along with the upright.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: James 4:4 “Unfruitfulness is caused by worldliness.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I desire to be fruitful until my last breath.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What makes people negligent before God?
  2. How is punishment for unfruitfulness begun in this life?
  3. Explain ‘thrown into  the fire’?
  4. Is your life one that is bearing fruit?

A LIFE THAT IS ETERNAL

What is sin? Very simply it is a violation of God’s law (1 John 3:4). Sin defiles every part of our body, soul and spirit and so it should be only natural that we would want to understand it better. By understanding we will no long desire to live in sin which is in our own best interest and certainly is also pleasing to God.

In more recent times sin has become more evident coming out of a movement called moral relativism. Moral relativism tells us there is no sin only sickness. Once that slippery slope was in place it was easy to say there is really no sickness only lifestyle choices. The problem of course is lifestyle choices have consequences and in the case of sin they are eternal. A cost many choose not to acknowledge.

It should be mentioned that the Jewish Torah lists some sin or transgressions as worse than others. Thirty six to be exact which relate to sexual unions, blasphemy, idolatry, robbery, bloodshed and profaning the Sabbath in addition to others. Most especially so if committed intentionally.

The punishment for sin is 3 deaths. Spiritual which is to be no longer in communion with God, physical when our final breath is taken, and eternal separation in what we call hell if forgiveness is never sought. Truth though is God desires to forgive us for His Own sake (Isaiah 43:25). He does not desire to condemn us to eternal death.

Today we need to take responsibility for our own sinful nature (spirit). We need to stop allowing sin to destroy our body, soul and spirit, but rather take on a new nature. A nature or Spirit that gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6). A LIFE THAT IS ETERNAL.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Transgressions are earthly trials that cause great tribulation.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Hebrews 9:15 “Christ died for our transgressions”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I am in need of Your forgiveness?

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. What is sin to you?

2. How does sin defile us?

3. Explain moral relativism?

4. Do you ever consider the eternal consequences of your actions?

 

 

JUST A FEW THOUGHTS ON THANKSGIVING

It is important today to consider Thanksgiving. Perhaps the reason our culture wants to give it little consideration (unless you are Macy’s with some commercial interest) is that it comes out of Judeo-Christian culture. The Puritans when first coming to American shores would model holidays after Old Testament guidance. Thanksgiving is modeled after Sukhot or Feast of Tabernacles mentioned in Zechariah 14:16-19. Then as today it is meant to celebrate the harvest and in fact if you did not remember this day you would bring down judgment upon next years crop. In fact of all the special events and times of the year giving thanks to God was the one event never to be forgotten or given up. As Christians we must always remember this day in a rightful way before we enter the more self centered holiday society has made of Christmas.

Giving thanks in proper fashion is also important. Paul in writing his letters to the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:1-9 and 2 Corinthians 1:1-11) opened with words of thanks. Today during what we call the ‘holiday season’ we are often more concerned with sending a letter to Santa telling him what we want. The contrast of two holidays.

Finally a word on how we can apply this in a very practical way in our own lives. Growing up our family once upon a time gave thanks before each meal and then again after the meal. In 1 Timothy 4:3 we are told the “foods which God created are to be received with thanksgiving”. After the meal Deuteronomy 8:10 shares that it is good we thank God for the blessing just consumed. JUST A FEW THOUGHTS ON THANKSGIVING.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Thanksgiving is a time to remember all the blessings come from God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Zechariah 14:16-19 “origin of Thanksgiving”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for all Your blessings.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do you keep Thanksgiving?
  2. How has society begun to commercialize the day of Thanksgiving?
  3. Do you offer thanks at mealtime?
  4. Do you follow your meals with prayer?

NO SHARE IN HEAVEN

The universe (all that is) fascinates me. From the heights of the sky to the depths of the ocean. From the smallest particle seen under a microscope to all of creation that travel will allow me to see. The reason is that I understand the God of the Bible to be the King of the Universe and I want to know Him as well as I can during my journey in this life. Enlarging our universe only happens through knowledge and understanding. So let the journey begin or continue.

God created the universe through His Son Christ Jesus. John 1:3 speaks of this pre-incarnate work of Christ. Even the great mind of Albert Einstein said that “God does not play dice with the universe”. His awareness of probability mathematics did not allow for an evolutionary chance model of creation. Those who disagree we call Epicureans. They who have always believed a ‘do your own thing’ model and are slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe (Galatians 4:3) and have not this mature understanding.

My understanding is at creation we have been given the sky (that which we can see and study), paradise where souls rest until the gates of the final Heaven are opened to us to live eternally with God. Until then God through the angelic world and in our lives has allowed for free will and Lucifer, as a fallen angel, took advantage of this introducing sin to mankind both in our physical and moral universe.

We must know though that God has not abandoned us. He is still active in the world (James 5:7-8). The laws of science we have today is how God is currently running the universe. These laws cannot say how God might eventually change them. What we can say for certainty is that if you are not born again of God in the present you will have no reservation in the future Kingdom for the unrighteous have NO SHARE IN THE THIRD KINGDOM OR HEAVEN.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Understand the universe and you better understand God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: John 1:3 “God created the universe through His Son”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for opening Your universe to me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK  ABOUT:

  1.  What is probability mathematics and how does it relate to the universe?
  2. Who are the Epicureans today?
  3. Where are the rules of the universe found?
  4. Is Revelations the key to the universe?