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?

TERROR!!

Terror is alive and well in our society. For the most part it is against the true church and that which the true church stands for. It comes I believe in 3 packages with the first being those who are fearful of what the true church stands for. Lukewarm or non-Christians who support directly or indirectly groups like the ACLU, atheists and others who want freedom from religion are in this group. They want to remove crosses and all semblance of Christianity from daily life and a politically correct society is not resisting. These individuals are somewhat like the Israelites in Exodus 34:29-30. They know where the one true God is (seen through His Word, etc.) and they are afraid to look honestly into His face.

The second group who for various reasons are dealing with the truth of God’s Word in a different fashion. They are revisionists who want to redefine the simplicity of God’s Word in its truth in order to justify their sinful behaviors.  Here Christians need to be careful as to how we respond to this form of fear that is attacking us. As Romans 11:20 shares our thoughts, words and deeds should be humble and loving and not haughty. True Christians should condemn with an equally loud voice any ‘Christian’ who acts or speaks violently against someone. As I have said many times, we should speak truth but in love. This second group terrorizes true Christians by demanding acceptance and agreement with their sinful lifestyle which we cannot do.

The third group who terrorize Christians are those who actually kill whether they believe their religion demands it of them or their government or some other entity. Today all 3 of these types of terrorist treatment are attacking we who remain true to our faith and I do not believe it will get better but rather worse. I believe we are rapidly drawing to a close when one day every one of our life’s actions will be held accountable (Ecclesiastes 12:14). A day when those not saved will stand before God in judgment (Revelations 20:11-15) and then they will understand true TERROR.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Terror touches all living without the safeguard of God’s promise.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Psalm 91:4-5 “Protection from terror”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for shielding me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is the ‘true’ church?
  2. How should we deal with those who ‘terrorize’ us no matter to what degree?
  3. How are those living sinful lifestyles terrorists?
  4. Are you ready to be held accountable for every action?

 

TIME TO LOOK UP!

Epidemics and catastrophes have been around for sometime. They fall under the heading plagues and can be attributed to divine judgment on occasion (Exodus 9:14) as in the case of the 10 plagues of Egypt. I believe that both our Lord and Savior do not desire to send these judgments upon us but when mankind hardens their hearts, close their minds and try to trap God and Christ (for example agnostics and atheists) then it seems inevitable.

In Exodus chapters 7-12 we read of the ten Egyptian plagues used by God to free the Jews from Egyptian slavery. God turned against the Egyptians what they worshiped (River Nile, beetles, frogs, and weather). A message for we today who seem to be more about worshiping nature than nature’s God.

The message behind the Egyptians plagues seems clear. When the Israelite’s were told to slaughter a lamb and place the blood over their door posts to avoid the angel of death. We today are also only saved by our taking on the blood of the Lamb of God (Christ Jesus). Indeed it is as the words of one famous hymn which states “nothing but the blood of Jesus”. We all need to gaze toward heaven with spiritual  eyes on our raised Messiah from where our help comes.

The final judgment one day will again bring plagues upon the earth (Revelation 8:6 through chapter 9), Today we read of asteroids coming dangerously close to earth and so much more. For all of us I believe it is TIME TO LOOK UP.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY:  Plagues are a plight that should bring us to prayer and confession.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Exodus 9:14 “plagues are divine judgment”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord my faith is always and only in You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is the fine line between worshiping nature versus appreciating nature?
  2. What does it mean to see with spiritual eyes?
  3. What are the final plagues or judgments recorded in Revelations chapters 8 and 9?
  4. What end time signs seem to be stirring as a possible warning?

GO TO COURT?

In a perfect world all the members would conduct themselves according to the principles of God’s Word. There would be no credence given to those who want to remove Christianity from the public record. Today we can only dream of a people where all are filled with faith, hope and love. One day in Heaven that dream will become reality.

Until then we live in a society that increasingly wants to separate church and state. That being the case we as Christians must be fully aware of God’s view in our dealings with others. Christ made it clear in Matthew 5:40 that we are not to take to court others with intent to sue.

Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 on litigation between believers. The reason is that Christians are forbidden in a secular court. Ever more so we are seeing pagan judges handing out judgements totally lacking in understanding of God’s will and Word. A person or society not filled with the Holy Spirit cannot and will not apply Scriptural principles in judgment and therefore we must not put ourselves before these judges.

As we enter a more global society with multiple world views, the pagan nature of mankind will grow stronger drawing the time of Christ’s return to earth ever faster. As believers we look forward to that time. Until then remember God’s Word when considering whether or not to GO TO COURT.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Lawsuits are for the lawless who do not labor under the Lamb of God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Matthew 5:40 “Christ speaks on lawsuits”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I seek Your faith, hope and love for myself and the world around me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Should a Christian ever become involved in a lawsuit?
  2. What is the future of our countries judiciary?
  3. What steps would you take before legal action is considered?
  4. Is there a place where people are filled with faith, hope and love toward one another?

JUDGING OTHERS

Going through life on earth there is a great deal of judging that takes place. It happens as parents raise children, someone in authority makes a judgment over another or perhaps most evident in a judicial court room.

Certain standards exercised by our better judiciary members are based on Scriptural principles: For example all judgment (esp. involving ending life) needs to be balanced with mercy as Jesus showed us in John 8:1-11. Factors that impact these decisions include the degree of repentance felt and that is honestly shown by the guilty.

Any decision needs to be inspired by God and His Word for in that Word lies a balance of love and justice. This is the tragedy in the courts misinterpretation of separation of church and state for God’s Word is our ultimate judge as Christ shares in John 12:48-49.

Important also is immediacy. Judicial delays help no one. This along with the fact that when an effective adjudicator is in place who has the ability to discern a persons’ spirit be it of God, man or some demonic source it is then along with all else mentioned that judging will be done correctly.

It is important to know that if we have God in our heart our conscience should already be judging us. In fact with God’s law (the Bible) ever present before us we stand in continues judgment (2 Timothy 3:16). Any judging that takes place should then be for a select few (Romans 14:6-12) especially if they cause divisions within the church (Romans 16:17).  It is in this instance that congregational rebuke (1 Timothy 5:20) which was once much stronger than it is now needs to return.

One final matter that will grow with time is the issue of litigation between believers and where the trials should take place (1 Corinthians 6). As a nation found on Judaeo-Christian principles that matter was at least somewhat easier to solve but now with an increasing immigrant population sharia courts making decisions based on their spiritual interpretation are starting to show up.  On the issue of judging there is much yet to sort out but if we understand the will of God all will go well in matters of JUDGING OTHERS.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Judging others requires justice for all.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: John 12:48-49 “the ultimate judge”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord guide my judgment.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Is there mercy anywhere in a death sentence?
  2. Should all issues be judged in a courtroom?
  3. How does Sharia law fit into our Judaeo-Christian system of government?
  4. The role of the Bible in the courtroom?

NO LAST WARNING!

As children we may have heard our parents utter the words: “this is my last warning”. If indeed it was the next time we did wrong there was a substantial price to pay. So why should it be any different as children of God? We receive numerous warnings but one day there will be a final judgment.

We know at that point there will be a separation of the righteous and the wicked. Jesus Christ clearly explains this in Matthew 13:36-43. The retribution to the wicked is easy to understand. Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 it will come upon those who do not know God or obey His Word. To the saved will be a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8) and a home in Heaven. Your eternity is up to you and you alone.

Knowing this what are the grounds for judgment? Romans 1:17 makes it clear “the just shall live by faith” but Christ shares in Matthew 7:21-23 there are many who say they believe yet their actions show otherwise. The actions or works that come out of our faith (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) are the so called ‘proof that is in the pudding’. In this we let our conscience be our guide (Romans 2:14-16). A conscience that comes when the Holy Spirit is within us and guides us in receiving and understanding the Words of our Lord and Savior given to us in the Holy Bible. Take time every day to study God’s Word for there will one day be NO LAST WARNING!

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The last judgment will be a time of joy for those justified in the faith.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: John 12:48 “Christ’s Word as grounds of judgment”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord help me bring others to an understanding of You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  What does it mean to be righteous?
  2.  How does the Scripture define wicked?
  3.  What awaits the wicked?
  4.  How does a conscience develop?

UNABLE TO REPRODUCE!

The topic for today is one that has caused a great many emotional pain. The problem from my very limited understanding is our misinterpretation of Scripture. The matter at hand are those husbands and wives who desperately want to have children and cannot.

Many resolve this and correctly do so by having foster children, caring for groups of children in some other fashion or through adoption. All are needed and blessed by God. Yet many still feel as if it is a sign of God’s displeasure or judgment. To deny that as a possibility is to deny the truth of 2 Samuel 6:23 but here Michal is childless for her despising of God’s choice of King David.

It seems to me barrenness most often does not relate to biological judgment but more so to explain the actions of people who are passive spectators of their salvation. In 2 Peter 1:5-8 we see the remedy to spiritual barreness as vs. 8 declares. Barrenness is less so of a person not able to have a child as it is of a believer who chooses not to let God out through themselves.

For myself the numerous examples of barrenness until late in life (ex. Abraham and Sarah) is a reminder not only of God’s miraculous power but also that our hidden spiritual nature can be exercised no matter what age we are.

Indeed there are numerous examples where the concept of barrenness is tied to prophecy (1 Samuel 2:5) and the fullness and completion of God’s plan. In this regard it is not a judgment by not permitting childbirth but rather a judgment against those who willingly hide their faith and the result is their INABILITY TO REPRODUCE the message of salvation.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Spiritual barrenness means banishment from all the beauty of God’s many blessings.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: 2 Peter 1:5-8 “remedy against spiritual barrenness”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen me to be a spiritual blessing to all Your children.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are the numerous ways God gives us children?
  2. How is giving birth comparable to acting on your faith?
  3. How can you release the fullness of your faith?
  4. Are you spiritually barren?

EFFECTS OF CHOOSING POORLY!

As our world finds a greater number of conveniences and entitlements (free stuff) our number of bad choices often increase. Our choices and decisions are critical not only to ourselves but our families, friends and even the culture at large. Parents, leaders and others no longer want to meet their Biblically understood responsibilities but rather just be a good friend. These poor decisions if in disobedience to God will effect generations to come (Numbers 14:1-45 especially vs. 18).

Bad choices come in many ways. All showing the casting aside of God’s Word. One of the most prominent is putting the flesh first. Esau is a good example in this case (Genesis 25:29-34). He gave up his birthright or inheritance for some comfort food. A poor bargain to say the least. Consider how often today we put personal desires before what God has planned for us.

Another bad choice is following a false prophet (Matthew 24:11). One who promises wondrous things if followed. Their promises must be tested on past performance and against God’s Word. If there is evil in any form evident flee from it. Charles Spurgeon once said if several promise what is contrary to God you do not choose or follow the lesser evil as that is still evil. No choice is better than a bad choice in my way of thinking.

The rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22 displayed why bad choices are often made. It comes from the inability to give up what this world has given us. Possessions in and of themselves are not evil. When our attachment to them keeps us from doing what is right and good. This is when a bad choice has been made. Being buried in an expensive coffin does not change the fact that you still have 6 feet of dirt on top of you.

In summary the epitome of a bad choice is rejecting the Word of God as shown in Acts 14:44-48. This choice as so many bad choices has eternal consequences. We on this earth are all free to choose according to our will but know those choices are accountable to God. There will be EFFECTS OF CHOOSING POORLY.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Bad choices carry consequences.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Numbers 14:18 “future generations impacted by decisions today”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord guide my every decision.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How are poor choices on display today?
  2. In what way do poor decisions impact future generations?
  3. Who are the false prophets of our time?
  4. Is there anything you are unable to give up to further God’s Kingdom?

 

ONE SHOT ONLY!

In life certain religions (Hindu, Buddhism) have a belief in reincarnation. This view is of a soul that jumps from body to body after death seeking perfection (nirvana). This idea has now entered Western thought. If life in human form looks at our body as just one of many homes to be discarded when no longer useful then responsibility for actions diminishes.

In western society and religions we follow Hebrew 9:27. We are here once and at death judgment takes place. The body dies once. There is no re-incarnation. We are responsible for our actions. Life is a 4 step process: creation, revelation, redemption or rejection and then judgment.

Judgment is a fact whether we like it or not. Death is also a fact (Genesis 3:19). What can be avoided is the final judgment of the unrighteous and it begins by our turning to God. Just as it was for the nation of Israel in Deuteronomy 30:1-3 so we can return to God if we hear and obey His voice. That also requires we turn away from sin discussed in Jeremiah 7:3-7. This is where the ‘rubber meets the road’. For many God is a nice little addition to their lives as long as they (not Scripture) can define Him and He is available when necessary.

For many avoidance of judgment only comes at the hand of humiliation. Humiliation that deflates our pride bringing us humbly back to God. Lucifer or satan fell as an angel for this reason and God seeks a humble servant unlike lucifer when we stand before Him.

Finally judgment can be avoided through prayer. This is affirmed in 2 Kings 19 and 2 Chronicles 20. Israel as can we if we come before God with a pure heart avoid judgment. It is up to us how it all turns out but we must remember we have ONE SHOT ONLY.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Divine judgment will one day sort out the just from the unjust.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY:  Hebrews 9:27 “all die and are judged”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I seek daily your forgiveness and mercy.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is your attitude on reincarnation?
  2. How are you preparing your life for its ‘one shot’ opportunity?
  3. What sins do you need to turn away from?
  4. Have you ever been humiliated into better behavior?

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