GOD HAS A PLAN FOR EACH OF US

One of societies problems is lustful behavior or a sense of ‘wantonness’. Some who feel they lack what others have and which they also desire so they begin not to just want it but even lust after it.

The cause for this begins with people being hasty to receive (Proverbs 21:5) that which with diligent effort and time they might acquire in an honest way. Sadly a society that seems focused on instant gratification does not leave much room for patience.

To this we add greed which often leads to oppression (Proverbs 22:16) and then you compound the problem. Inequality, most especially when Christian faith is no longer a part of the equation, creates the issues we face today that can literally tear a society apart. Out of this you have many who now feel society and life owes them something and so sloth or laziness sets in (Proverbs 24:30-34) and you bankrupt not only a nation through an entitlement mind set but you begin to destroy the very soul of the people who make up this world. Certainly far from what God created.

This type of world that Paul writes of in Romans 13:13 is unbecoming to a Christian and furthers that which satan desires. Sadly the Christian church through preaching doctrinal error has often encouraged this adding to the problem rather than helping to provide a cure. It is time we recall one of Scriptures most quoted verses which is that “the Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). Indeed GOD HAS A PLAN FOR EACH OF US. Let us wait on it with patience.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Want often causes us to wage warfare rather than to wait on the Lord.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 23:1 “trusting the Lord protects against want”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I wait on You patiently.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  How does society further a sense of want through the idea of instant gratification?
  2.  How does greed lead to oppression?
  3.  How does greed and lessened faith tear a society apart?
  4.  How has church doctrinal error added to the problem of want?

SPEAK TRUTH IN LOVE

The subject of tolerance is one we need to explore in a world that is growing ever more divided and secular. Most everyone seems to be seeking truth in different ways and under our Constitution they have the guaranteed right and freedom to do so. The unity which holds our nation together in this environment of great diversity is in the bonds of the Messiah’s love expressed by Christ in His Words on the cross: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). His death for all sinners was in the hope that one day all might come to believe and be obedient to God’s plan for mankind.

That being said, those who seek not only acceptance but agreement from Christians for sinful lifestyle choices should not be surprised when we cannot. We are held to a higher truth than mankind’s own personal convictions. Despite their accusations it has nothing to do with hatred, bigotry or phobias.

Indeed the Bible condemns tolerance toward sin as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13. It is why every one of us must continue to speak out truth in an immoral world. Where evil exists we must not be found (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Evil that can even creep into a church body where belief and obedience to God’s Word is most expected.

Daily we must examine our lives and, as Christ’s words recorded in Mark 9:43-48 in warning about hell, we must remove that which is evil in our lives. We must continue to live our lives in truth and in regard to all around us we must continue to SPEAK TRUTH IN LOVE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Tolerance is a tool often used by those in sin.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Mark 9:43-48 “tolerance to sin in ourselves is condemned”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord guide me in my work with others.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is your understanding of tolerance?
  2. Why does sin demand tolerance from us?
  3. How does mankind pervert the gift of grace?
  4. Are you able to boldly speak truth in love?

OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S LAW

In a world where obedience is often absent in any type of relationship personal or otherwise, I think it important to go to the source of obedience which is God’s law given to all mankind-The Ten Commandments.

The story of the Commandments is recorded in Exodus beginning with God revealing Himself to His people through Moses and the Ten Commandments. This is recorded in Exodus chapters 19-20. The people of Israel commemorate this to this day in the Feast of Shavuot . As they remember it so should we.

Moses had a healthy fear (deep respect) of God on Mt Sinai and after and so should we. The heart of God carved into these stone tablets God’s desires. Likewise God desired they be carved into our hearts not of stone but of flesh softened by the Holy Spirit’s presence within us.

The Ten Commandments are to guide us in that life that when obedient to God help us realize His ongoing concern for our welfare. In these rules of behavior we see not only what is expected of us in our relationship with Him but our relationship with one another. Following these commands the world will be a much better place as our positive response to God’s law will extend well into the future. Indeed it is time as individuals and nations we show OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S LAW.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The Ten Commandments teach us the very thoughts of God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Exodus 10:1-17 “the Ten Commandments given at Mt. Sinai”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I always be obedient to Your law.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are the Ten Commandments?
  2. Why is obedience to the Ten Commandments necessary for a world of peace?
  3. How does God soften the heart?
  4. Explain how the cliche ‘good fences make good neighbors’ might apply to the Ten Commandments?

HOW WE COME BEFORE HIM

One topic I have yet to address that is very evident throughout Scripture and evident in so many ways in our society is that of nakedness. As Christians that which causes us discomfort or unease we like to ignore yet it (nudity) affects us in so many ways. Daily we read stories of incest, adultery, pornography and more. We observe nudity on the street, television, theater and art museums. It is even a part of the necessity for care and healing in a medical setting. So what should we think?

God cannot by His nature create that which is sinful. I believe all God’s creation is beautiful including our very physical presence. Adam and Eve understood this (Genesis 2:25) when living in a righteous state. The problem as it is with everything is when sin came into the picture. Nakedness is a natural state until we fall into sin (Genesis 3:10-11). We are born as a special creation of God without clothing, yet original sin requires that our life in all its aspects (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) must come to God fully clothed in righteousness (Isaiah 61:10-11 and Revelations 19:8). What God cares about is HOW WE COME BEFORE HIM.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Nakedness was natural until sin found a necessity for clothing.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Genesis 2:25 “the original state of mankind”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I fully understand Your plan for me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What sinful acts make clothing necessary?
  2. Is seeing the unclothed human frame acceptable in any situation (ex. museums, hospitals, care facilities, etc.)?
  3. Is there any spiritual significance to our being born naked?
  4. What is necessary to grow in righteousness?

THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WITH US

There is a right way to act and a wrong way. The question for many is which is which. As always the answer lies in Scripture. For example those not yet ‘born again’ of the Spirit live by conscience (Romans 2:14-15) often living properly yet they need the law to  guide them. In contrast the born again believer bases their action upon their new birth (2 Corinthians 5:17) and having the guidance of the Holy Spirit living according to His way as shown in Galatians 5:22-23.

Unfortunately those not born of the spirit may have positive efforts but they do not have the value of those who are (Isaiah 1:14-15). Those caught in this way of life live according to the head thinking appearance important. Truth tells us we are to live according to the heart which through the guidance of the spirit applies that which is in the mind in the proper fashion (Hebrews 8:10).

Once we understand that we cannot do right by our own actions as in the account of Mark 10:17-20 but only through God’s grace it is then we live in true abundance. The answer to issues of morality or right conduct comes when we have THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WITH US.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Morality motivates best when guided by the Master.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 5:17 “morality based upon the new birth”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord help me live morally according to Your will.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. On what do you base your conduct?
  2. Have you ever boasted of your moral actions?
  3. Where does morality begin?
  4. Is your heart and mind connected?

THAT’S SHAMEFUL!

It is really difficult to say what is shameful anymore in a society where “most anything goes”. That being said the Bible does define the characteristics of what is lewd or wicked. When we as nations or individuals give ourselves up to this shameful behavior the prophet Ezekiel tells us (Ezekiel 16:27) God will reject us as He did Israel.

Examples of this are adultery and incest such as declared in Ezekiel 22:11 or in today’s terminology perhaps the idea of sex trafficking of young women or women prostituting themselves which is referenced in Ezekiel 23:21.

The sin in adultery as the book of Hosea discusses is that we as Christians, created in the image of God, are to be married to God and God alone for all eternity. Marriage between one man and one woman is symbolic of that on earth. Whether it be physical or spiritual adultery that bond if broken (though not impossible to heal) is of great concern. That filthiness of adultery is shown in the ‘parable of the boiling pot’ in Ezekiel 24:1-14.

Scripture, I believe, is clear that our Eternal God and Father is outraged when He sees His children in any act of wickedness. Most especially when it is some form of physical or spiritual adultery as is referenced throughout God’s Word. Our not remaining faithful or coming to Him for healing THAT IS SHAMEFUL!

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Lewd behavior leads to a life apart from the Lord.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Ezekiel 16:27 “Lewd behavior is shameful”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen my marriage relationship with You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:’

  1. Why is ‘lewdness’ especially wicked?
  2. What is spiritual adultery?
  3. How does healing occur after adultery?
  4. What does it mean to be married to the Lord?

PROHIBITED OR PERMITTED?

It seems more so than ever people are asking ‘why’ or ‘who says’ when presented with the dos’ and dont’s of life. At some point someone in a position of authority put a rule in place that guides much of our life. Even with these lower level authoritarians there has to be an ultimate judge and lawgiver. It is NOT an individual who sits on the Supreme Court of his country nor on some United Nations judicial body. The ultimate authority is God not man and God has transferred the authority to Jesus Christ Who personified the Word of God in His life.

If we truly believe God is our Creator and final authority then we must also give Him proper respect. In fact dating back to the time of Moses blasphemy or cursing God’s name was grounds for death (Leviticus 24:12-14). Today it is common place and Christians remain sadly silent. That lack of respect which is generated out of unbelief has already been judged and these individuals are guilty as Jesus Himself tells us in John 3:18. The only thing remaining is the final judgment where the soul is sent to…well we all know that ending.

Thankfully we have a righteous judge (2 Timothy 4:8) and if we follow His Word  (Ephesians 6:17) we will receive eternal life by our faith through God’s grace. Today we live in a world that keeps searching for and asking what is truth. Judges define it according to their personal agenda yet should we in our lives or those who sit in position of judge use the Words of God as ultimate authority then it will be easy to know what is PROHIBITED OR PERMITTED.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: With God as judge ALL will be subject to divine judgment.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 Kings 3:9 “a judge is needful of great wisdom”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen me unto obedience to Your will.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  How should our judges make their decisions?
  2.  How has understanding of separation of church and state effected judicial decisions?
  3.  How is the Bible used in judicial decision making today?
  4.  Have you made an appearance before a judge?

DOING HARD LABOR

No matter our age each of us wake up every morning knowing that in some fashion we will have to do labor during the day. Some harder than others. The first thought that generally comes to mind is that which takes physical exertion though what should be of greater concern is our spiritual labor.

When we think of heavy lifting we consider what puts a strain on the muscles of our skeletal system but today we look at the strain on our heart and the first heavy lift is our need to subdue the flesh (1 Corinthians 9:27). Sin and satan are at every turn trying to convince our heart and mind that many of our desires  are okay and natural. Truth be told they distance us from our Lord and Savior as many of our fleshly desires do.

Some of these fleshly desires are not sinful though not good for our well being but others certainly are as Hebrews 12:4 tells us. Scripture  gives us numerous examples of these as clearly shown in God’s law when we disobey what we call the Ten Commandments.

In the meantime once we enlist in God’s army be prepared for strenuous training and long hours. Your journey will not be easy and you may likely be knocked down on occasion but like Paul we must continue to have as our goal the “price of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). With that as our  goal it makes it much easier when we are DOING HARD LABOR.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Spiritual hard labor brings health and happiness.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Philippians 3:14 “reaching goal of spiritual hard labor”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen me each day to labor for You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  What is necessary to subdue the flesh?
  2.  What improper fleshly desires are you doing battle with?
  3.  In what ways are we soldiers for Christ?
  4.  Are you enlisted in the army of our Lord?

 

SAVING OUR SELF FOR THE ONE MARRIAGE

I suspect virtually everyone can identify in some way (personally, family or friend) with a word few like even to speak. The word is fornication. In a day when serving self and being sensitive to whatever lifestyle a person chooses, we have shrugged off this word and its related actions as old fashioned. Yet, if we say we are Christian and hold to the truth of Scripture, we best know what it teaches.

It must be admitted that ALL fall short of perfection, but when a person willfully continues in sinful action, then there is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with. As Christians we are to have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). That being said, we are not to nurture or cherish improper feelings, desires, urges or lusts which includes fornication. Doing so, as Christ shares in Matthew 15:19, shows an evil heart.

In Jewish tradition the nature of this sin was severe because it was considered a sin against the body (1 Corinthians 6:18), and along with idolatry and murder, were transgressions that should never be committed, even if necessary to save ones own life. For myself that leaves some issues still to sort out, especially when it comes to matters of self defense and justifiable wars.

As mentioned earlier, our Lord eagerly forgives if we sincerely come to Him, but if we willfully continue in that which Scripture denounces (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), we will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Not my word, but God’s ,Word, unless you believe not all Scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16) which I do.

The danger in associating with immoral behavior and those willfully participating in it (1 Corinthians 5:9-11) is the disruption it does to Christian fellowship, the utmost experience of which we will realize in eternity. To sacrifice an eternity for a few earthly moments of perceived pleasure should be too great a price to pay for anyone. Whether speaking of an earthly or eternal marriage, we should always be SAVING OUR SELF FOR THE ONE MARRIAGE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Fornication is a failure of remaining faithful to our one true love.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Matthew 15:19 “fornication comes from an evil heart”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen me to resist all which is contrary to Your will.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is the relationship between fornication and idolatry?
  2. How does a Christian explain the multiple wives of many heroes of our faith?
  3. What does ‘sin against one’s own body’ mean?
  4. What are places (or people) of immoral behavior to be avoided?

THE LAW OF THE LAND

Those who have ever grown up on or owned a piece of ground know how valuable it is both in a physical and spiritual sense. Throughout Scripture God uses the ‘field’ to explain His message.

One such time was a message that would  stir controversy and still does so today when going into the field on what we call Sunday (Shabat, Seventh Day). God’s Levitical law (25:3-12) required that time as a period of rest for all people. Christ changed the understanding or interpretation at least somewhat in Matthew by gathering food that day. Today it still causes controversy but one thing that needs to be understood is that the Sabbath is to be a day in which God is honored and which is holy.

Christ in Matthew 13 used the soil and that which relates to it frequently. He spoke of it in parables distinguishing good from bad. In many ways the field is a parallel of life: good soil and bad, seed that is clean versus mixed with weed seed or seed from other crop types. Recently picking rocks and pulling weeds on my ground I can attest to its difficulty yet importance. As with God it is desired for best results to rid oneself in life of that which does not help in producing the best end result.

Fields often cause controversy when ownership is changed. Sadly many fall in disobedience to the command of coveting what is someone else’s (Deuteronomy 5:21). Scripture is clear that a transaction agreed upon is proper. Should the buyer know that property he purchases may have future additional value that is simply good business and acceptable.

Finally, one day the land will hold each of us as it serves as a resting place for our physical nature until called to return home to our Lord and Savior. In the meantime it is good we study God’s Word in order to better understand THE LAW OF THE LAND.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Fields are ways for farmers to have fellowship with our Heavenly Father.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Matthew 12:1 “Sabbath rest”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for land to till and learn from.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do you believe Sunday should be treated?
  2. How does rocky soil and weed filled fields apply to life?
  3. How should the value of land be rightfully determined?
  4. How should land be rightfully used?