You don’t have to receive my devotionals for long to get the feeling I’m passionate about evangelism and about the need for everyone to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. One of the ways to build on this personal relationship is through reading the scriptures–another is through prayer. Lately, I believe the Lord has allowed me to see several situations where even a modest knowledge of the scripture has helped keep me out of a difficult situation, helped me out of one I was already in, or allowed me to see where someone else’s biblical knowledge has helped them. In addition, He’s also shown me some difficult situations that were not handled well due to a lack of the biblical knowledge. What does all this add up to? I don’t think it’s a big secret that the last days are upon us and Satan is as hard-working as he’s ever been…. This fact has recently impressed me with a whole new reason to study the scriptures. The enemy is taking every opportunity to rip Christianity out of our nation, and many of us don’t even understand the Word of God well enough to recognize it when it’s happening–much less do anything about it! In addition, people are starving for the truth, and even many Christians don’t have enough of it stored up in their minds to dish any out. It seems we spend a lot of time making sure we learn our subjects well in school–we “need” good grades. Why? So we can go to college, or so we can get a good job, or both. I’m all for that, but I think we should pay attention to our study of the Bible as well. If you want to be a lawyer, be a lawyer with a vast knowledge of the Word of God… if you want to be a Doctor, or a construction worker, or a domestic engineer, ditto! Whatever it is, do it with the kingdom of God in mind. Although I definitely look forward to our Lord’s triumphant return, I don’t intend to lay down and watch Satan have a party. Our heavenly Father’s entrusted us with the most valuable information ever conveyed to man and we’ve got work to do! If you’ve never had a reason to spend some time in your Bible each and every day, now you have one… or two!
“Jesus replied, ‘you are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.'” Mathew 22:29 In Christ,
I think it’s neat that many times in the New Testament what we would call “death” was referred to as “sleep” by Christ and others. And in contrast, being unsaved or “lost” was often called “dead.” It doesn’t take much time in the Scriptures to get the picture that God sees things entirely differently than we do and His view is from a vantage point that comprehends far more than what our human eyes can see. What would be worse, for example: Being dead (physically) and being “in Christ” or being dead to Christ and still being alive in the body? Any true Christ follower will tell you they’d rather die than deny Jesus is the Christ… and that’s exactly what the Apostles were asked to do. Eleven out of twelve were killed refusing to deny their faith. The twelfth (John) was obviously allowed to live a little longer so God could use him to bring us the book of Revelation–that by no accident outlines the end of all life as we know it today and the beginning of real life!
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15
Although people who’ve lost or are born without limbs can (and do) learn to get around their handicaps, there’s no doubt having all a human’s original equipment is the best way to go. A person who is missing a hand, for example, will have a more difficult time performing some tasks. There will be things they can do, and things they simply cannot do (like chin-ups!). As bad as that might be, however, imagine a hand that is severed from a body trying to do ANYTHING! Many people who choose not to attend church are making both of these analogies a reality in the Body of Christ. The Body will be missing them, and they, all alone, can do nothing for the Body. Left alone long enough, their faith will shrivel and die. God doesn’t want us just to continue to meet to keep us from sleeping in on Sunday morning. He wants us to grow and be all we can be for the kingdom as we spur each other in praise and worship of Him!
“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12
Nobody in their right mind would hesitate to say there is a war being waged on traditional values. Surely that was predicted since the beginning of time, and actually heralds the impending return of our Lord. What galls me is not that the world urges us to lay down our Christian values, but rather when those who profess that they know Jesus do it. Priests, pastors, elders, Sunday school teachers; you name it, there’s someone at every level who claims to be a follower of Christ who will tell you that truth is relative and will not only “wink” at sin, but willfully sin themselves. God will not be mocked. A man reaps what He sows and a man who sows lies unfortunately can take many down with him. Surely sinful man will struggle against sin all the days of his life, but sinning on purpose is actually a sign a person does not know the Lord.
“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he [Jesus] is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:7-9
If you’ve been in the Church a while you’ve surely seen Christian brothers and sisters who always seem to be judging those around them. I sometimes wonder what these folks are saying about me when I’m the one not in the room. Friends, this has got to be one of the most destructive forces in the Body of Christ! And in all fairness, I guess we’re all guilty of it to a point. I suppose it’s part of our sinful nature to overlook our own weaknesses while we emphasize areas where other people struggle. All the more reason we should strive to shake the tendency.
“Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you — who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:11-12
When Jesus called his first disciples, He told them they would no longer be fishermen, but that they would be “fishers of men.” As always, Jesus spoke the truth. These first disciples were the evangelists of the early church. In one day, Peter preached and led three thousand people to the Lord. Jesus’ call to evangelize wasn’t just issued to the disciples, nor just to preachers and church leaders–it was issued to ALL Christians. We’re commanded to labor until Christ returns for us. From the surveys I’ve read and the attitude of many Christians I’ve talked to, I often wonder how well we’re answering Jesus’ call to “fish.” A survey done by one of the largest seminaries in the world reported that less than one in ten active Christians have ever led someone to the Lord. Frankly, I’m shocked and amazed! I guess very few are actually prepared to “follow Him.”
“Then Jesus said to Si ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” Luke 5:10b
Won’t you share the story of Christ’s work in your life with someone today?
It seems like the whole world is looking for a diversion
from the stress and strain of life. Some
are turning to drugs or alcohol, others to sex or to food, and some to drastic
measures like suicide. Jesus spoke of
days like these in one of the last lessons He taught before His crucifixion…
“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighted down with
dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on
you unexpectedly like a trap. For it
will come upon those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may
be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to
stand before the Son of Man.” Luke
In the days before I met my Lord and Savior, I either tried, or came close to trying just about every worldly “stress reliever” there was. None of them ever worked for long! In my Bible I’ve got two words of the above lesson circled in pen. They help me remember my priorities, and for me, they’re the most effective stress relief I’ve ever found! Oh, the two words… “and pray”.
Negative peer pressure is one of those things we blame when we do things we know we shouldn’t. It’s commonly believed young folks fall prey to peer pressure more than adults, but adults are definitely not exempt. I’ve felt myself being led astray by other adults more than I care to mention. Regardless, I think we are all more vulnerable when we leave the sanctuary of our homes, our families, and our churches and go out into the world to school, to play, or to work. The longer we stay out there alone, the greater the chance we’ll get pulled in by the crowd. Since what the “crowd” is up to often seems like a lot of fun, there are many who fall astray and never return. Here’s the bottom line: Negative peer pressure is a tool of the Devil. He uses it to make you double-minded, and once you fall victim, he uses the sin to pull you in and keep you from repenting.
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 6:24a)
“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 12:30)
Choose today to break the tie that’s tempting you to turn away from Christ. Whatever it is, break it, repent, and return to His good and perfect ways.
Sometimes Mondays can really take their toll! There’s been Mondays when I hadn’t even
gotten out of the house yet and I was stressed out! This Monday will be different though… every
time I start to feel the pressure build , I’m going to recite this scripture to
myself. Why don’t you give it a try and
tell me if it works for you, too?
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich
in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —
it is by grace you have been saved.”
Did you ever wonder why you were born at the exact moment,
and into the exact family you were born into?
And what about the country you live in, or the language you speak? Was that all accidental? Would you think about God differently and
consider serving Him more diligently if you knew He has you exactly where
He wants you at this moment in time? And
even if things seem a little crazy where you’re right now, if you’re faithful,
God may just use you to reach people all around you for His Kingdom!
“From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:26-28a