Monday, February 28, 2011

What Does Your Religion Look Like?

The False Righteousness of Religion


Romans 10:2-4

For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.



Depending on what circle you run in, being called religious can be a good or a bad thing. To some, a religious person is someone who doesn’t drink, goes to church all the time, reads their bible every morning, and can even serve as a role model.

While, to others, a religious person is no fun, spends too much time at church, and wouldn’t approve of anything they do- especially if it’s fun! The problem is that we look at a person’s religion through their actions. If they do a lot of good things, they are religious.

And often, with this “religiousness” we apply righteousness. Good deeds are good, but they don’t make us righteous. Only Jesus’ death on the cross can make us righteous. The Jews at the time of Paul’s writing would gauge if they were pleasing God by following lists of hundreds of laws.

If they kept enough, they called themselves righteous, but in reality, Jesus’ imputed righteousness is the only real righteousness to be found! Our righteousness, when compared to God’s, is as a filthy garment (Isaiah 64:6).

Jesus called the religious people of his day white washed tombs (Matthew 23:27). They might look good on the outside, but on the inside they were full of death and dead men’s bones. Look at your life and find areas you are looking to your religion for righteousness instead of Jesus’ work on the cross.

Good deeds are good, even biblical, but they alone can’t make us righteous.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday & Sunday Devotions February 26th – 27th 2011

An Ocean of Lies


Today’s Text Comes from:

Revelation 12:10b

For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.



I read story about a man who took his little daughter camping by the ocean. He tried to get her to go into the water, but when she found out how cold it was, she refused. Then he got an idea. He built a fire, heated some water in a teakettle, and poured it into the ocean. The little girl figured her daddy had fixed it, and she ran into the water without any hesitation!

That was a harmless trick, but it illustrates how Satan works. He mixes a small amount of truth with an ocean of lies. Satan is called "the accuser of our brothers and sisters" (ver10b). He's the ultimate critic of God's creation, and accusation is one of his most effective tactics. When you sin, he's right there to condemn you. "You call yourself a Christian? Do you think God will hear your prayer after that? You shouldn't even be in a church!" He's such a hypocrite. When he is tempting us, he whispers, "Do it! No one will know!" And then after we sin he shouts, "You'll never get away with that!"

When Satan talks to you about God, he lies. That's why it's important to get the truth about God from the Bible. But when Satan talks to God about you, he doesn't need to lie, he just uses your sin against you. He is constantly studying humanity, looking for evidence to bring before the throne of God, trying to cause God to turn His back on us. For that reason, you must learn to distinguish between the conviction of the Holy Spirit that comes from God, and the accusations and condemnation of Satan. Those are two very different things.

A lot of people say, "Guilt is wrong!" No, it isn't. It can be very, very good, if it comes from the Holy Spirit, if God imposes it to bring us back to Him. But guilt can be very bad, if it drives us to despair and hopelessness. Then we've listened to the wrong voice.

When the Holy Spirit convicts you, He uses the Word of God in love and seeks to bring you back into fellowship with your heavenly Father. When Satan accuses you, he uses your own sin in a hateful way to drive a wedge between you and God. He seeks to make you feel helpless and hopeless.

Judas betrayed Jesus Christ, and he listened to the devil and went out and hanged himself. Peter also betrayed Christ but he looked into Jesus' face, and it brought conviction. Later, he came back into fellowship.

So stay out of that "ocean of lies."

The Holy Spirit, the "Spirit of truth" (John 16:13), will always lead you back toward God.



Sunday’s Devotion

The Heart of God


Today’s Text Comes from:

Ezekiel 19:1-2

"As for you, take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel and say, 'What was your mother? A lioness among lions!'"



God gave Ezekiel a lamentation with two sad pictures.

First, He described a lioness that had two cubs. The first cub turned to violence and was taken to Egypt. The mother waited, hoping her cub would return, but it never did. The other cub did even more damage. Because "of the sound of his roaring," everyone was "appalled" (v 7). Nations gathered against him. He was captured and brought to Babylon.

The second picture was of a vineyard owner who planted a vine by "abundant waters" (v. 10). But it was "plucked up in fury" and "cast down to the ground." It settled in the wilderness. Its fruit was dried. "Its strong branch was torn off," and it was consumed by fire (v. 12).

Both pictures describe something cherished and loved, with great potential that was never realized. In these pictures, we see the heart of God. He is like the mother of those two cubs. He had given them life and prepared great things for them. How He longed for them to turn back from their destructive lifestyle! But they never returned.

God also is like the owner of a vineyard who wanted His people to experience His rich blessings. But they turned away. Instead of abundance, they lived as "in a dry and thirsty land" (v. 13). In this lamentation, we feel how God was grieved. He mourned, as at a funeral. We feel His compassion, His pain, His loss.

These pictures help us realize how God looks at our lives. He is like the father of the prodigal, who eagerly welcomed his son back when he returned (Luke 15:11-32). This is the picture of our Father-sadly watching when we sin, hoping we will change our ways, always wanting the best for us, always waiting for us to return.


Father, thank You that You love me and have a plan for my life. Help me to fulfill Your purposes for me. I want to return fully to You and bring You great joy. In Jesus' name. Amen

Extended Reading Ezekiel 19

Friday, February 25, 2011

All the Time...

Often when we pray, we do so "just in case" it might help, but we don't usually expect God to actually come through. Why do Christians have such a hard time trusting in God's goodness? This devotional looks at the reasons and then concludes with some strategies for allowing ourselves to fully trust in God's goodness.


God Is Good


Romans 8:28
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."


"...there is no foundation for comfort in the enjoyments of this life, but in the assurance that a wise and good God governeth the world..." - William Law


We need to ask God for help in all difficult situations, large or small. God wants us to ask and He stands ready to help us, but we have to be prepared to accept His solution according to His timing. He knows how and when to work things out.

Asking for help is easy and costs us nothing except a few moments of our time. Most Christians do this frequently and automatically whenever difficulties present themselves, but there is usually a little shade of doubt that their prayers will do any good. We tend to petition God "just-in-case" it might actually help, but in reality, we surreptitiously expect that either circumstance aren't going to work out, or that we are going to have to get the job done ourselves.

For the most part, we live as though we believe in an impersonal, disinterested Creator. We understand intellectually that God is in charge, but practically, we go about our business as though He's nowhere to be found and that we're going to have to steer the ship in His absence.
We fail to live in the truth of Romans 8:28 because subconsciously, we don't fully believe that God is good. We don't believe that He loves us, nor do we completely trust that He has our best interests at heart. To use a phrase of author John Eldredge, 'we suspect that God is holding out on us'.

Why do we hold onto these doubts when scripture is so unambiguous about God's endless love and immeasurable goodness?

First, many of our relationships on Earth result in betrayal. We believe that we can't really trust anyone because so often when we trust someone close to us, they let us down. This leaves many of us wondering if we can really trust God to come through when we need Him the most. We especially tend to relate to God in the same way as we related to our earthly fathers when we were young. We unintentionally ascribe to Him the same failings and deficiencies we witnessed in our own father. If our father was not around when we needed him, we expect God to be absent too. If our father was especially strict or had difficulty expressing his love for us, then we expect God to be the same. Relating to God as a loving Father is especially difficult for those whose own father was abusive.

Secondly, undermining our belief that God is good and trustworthy is one of the oldest and most powerful weapons that Satan wields. It began long ago in the Garden. "You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen 3:4-5)

One can almost see the changing expression on Eve's face as she wonders, "Really? Should I not trust God? Did He lie to me?" The Devil will do whatever he can to make you doubt God's benevolence and cause you to ask the question,
"Is He holding out on me"?

Finally, our lack of trust in God stems from the observation that this fallen world can be so exceptionally evil. All we can do is wonder at the meaning of it, for we lack God's ability to see how all the puzzle pieces are going to come together in the end to form a beautiful picture. For us, the world just seems to be a random, chaotic collage. We cannot see the glorious pattern God is weaving though it all, and so we wonder in the midst of this confusion if He has walked away and abandoned the world to its own devices.

How, then, can we overcome our reluctance to trust in God and His goodness?

First, we need to understand what is really meant by the phrase, "God is good." What it does not mean is that there is some universally accepted standard of goodness which, if we are to judge His motives and character, God can always be counted on to meet. If this were so, where did this standard come from? Who is able to stand in judgment of God to rate His goodness according to this standard?

The phrase "God is good" is not telling us anything about God's performance or record of achievement. The phrase does not, in fact, it does not tell us anything at all about God. The statement, rather, is telling us about that standard of goodness. It does not answer the question, "What is God like?" It answers the question, "What is goodness like?", and the answer is God.

It would be meaningless to even try to judge God by the very standard which He defines by His being. It would be like trying to judge the wetness of pure water, since water is the very essence that defines wetness. There is no higher authority than God by which we can make an appeal to the nature of right and wrong. Whatever He decrees to be good is good and whatever He decrees to be evil is evil.

The application of this important concept is simply this: we must be wary of judging God. We do this whenever we harbor expectations about what we think God should or should not do in any given situation. We "expect" God to heal our friend with cancer, or we "expected" Him to stop that drunk driver who took the life of our loved one. It's so easy to doubt God's goodness whenever we think we know what's right or wrong, and to then turn around and accuse Him of clearly missing the mark of an obvious standard of righteousness. It's especially easy when the Enemy is whispering in our ear, casting aspersions.

We have to let go of our expectations of God. His plan is good, and for some reason beyond our comprehension, it does sometimes include allowing death, war and disease. I don't know why God sometimes determines it's necessary to allow evil, while other times He intervenes to prevent it. I don't understand His total plan from beginning to end. But I know it's good.

What a huge, daunting responsibility it is to require ourselves to understand the entirety of His plan before we will trust Him! If we will instead step back and trust in His inherent goodness, never question His motives and restrain the impulse to judge God when we don't understand, we will have much greater peace when trouble comes.

If you're struggling with trusting God's goodness, as most of us do, ask the Holy Spirit to help you now. Pray that the pride that causes you to hold God in judgment will be lifted away. When things don't make sense and you cannot see how good will ever come from tragedy, ask the Holy Spirit to humble you so that you can overcome the need to understand God's purposes and simply trust and abide in His perfect goodness.

God is Good!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Are You Willing To...

...Forgive as the Lord forgave you

Forgiving others is not optional for Christians; it is a command. In Matthew 6:12, Jesus taught us to pray, ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’. He made it clear that God’s offer of forgiveness is inseparable from our willingness to forgive others.

Read Matthew 18:21-35

First of all, forgiving others when they wrong us is part of our grateful response to God’s forgiveness of our own sins through Jesus’ death on the cross. His forgiveness is based exclusively on his unconditional love and grace. We do not deserve it. The Greek word for sin in Matthew 6:12 it means literally ‘debt’. Because we have broken God’s law we have debts towards him that we can never pay back. If we ask God to cancel our enormous debts while we refuse to cancel the tiny debts that people owe us, then we act at best inconsistently and at worst hypocritically.

Read Colossians 3:12-15

Secondly, forgiving people is a powerful demonstration of loving them. As God is our loving Father he wants to forgive us our sins, to restore our relationship with him. Just as God requires us to love our neighbor, so are we to forgive them.

• Who is your neighbor?

• How does this passage challenge us in our relationships with people who have hurt us?

Finally, forgiving others what they have done to us is a reliable test for our faith. Does our faith make a real difference in our life? Forgiving others is not easy. It is not natural – our natural response is to want to take revenge. But Jesus forgave his enemies who crucified him – before he died he prayed; ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34).

You may protest that Jesus was the Son of God, and we are not, that it is beyond our sinful human nature to love our enemies as Jesus commanded us to do. However, if Christianity is about having a personal relationship with God, and if God is real and powerful, then surely he will empower those who trust in him to experience the power of his love and forgiveness in their own lives.

Without forgiveness there is no genuine peace. As all of us do wrong and hurt each other, we need to ask forgiveness as much as to forgive. Saying sorry and asking forgiveness from people we have wronged is sometimes even harder than forgiving those who wronged us. But if with God’s help we decide to make forgiveness our way of life, then this way will lead us to peace – peace with ourselves, with others and with God. This peace is a great and wonderful blessing that God wants everyone to enjoy.

• How unique is Jesus in terms of addressing the issue of forgiveness?

• Are there any people that you need to forgive or to ask forgiveness from?

• What are the social implications of the Christian faith, in terms of bringing reconciliation between different people?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Attitude of ....

‘Dealing With Anger’

The Text Comes from:

Ephesians 4:26

And “don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”



Unfortunately we cannot always avoid getting angry. Sooner or later something is going to happen that will upset us. Scripture teaches us that even God gets angry. (Deut. 9:8, 20; Ps. 2:12) Yet God never has a sinful anger. Because He is holy, even His anger is holy. Unfortunately, we’re not God. Our nature is not holy. There is a thread of sinfulness woven throughout our lives and therefore it is easy for us to become sinfully angry.

Note three things about anger:

1- The Attitude of Sinful Anger. Paul refers to bitterness. Some people become angry and it is evident. Others become angry and it is not so evident. Such people are often able to paint a smile on their face while holding anger in their heart. We must be constantly on guard against the presence of an angry attitude.

2 – The Actions of Sinful Anger. The temptation of anger is to attack others. Some attack through acts of rage. Others attack through words of slander. Jesus said – “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” (Mt 5:21-22)

3- The Adversary and Sinful Anger. Perhaps the one thing that makes anger so dangerous is how the devil uses it. Paul tells us that sinful anger gives the Devil a foothold in our lives. The Greek word used here refers to a piece of property. Though Satan cannot possess a believer, he can use angry emotions to take control of our lives.

How can we deal with sinful anger?

1- Reveal it. Rather than let angry feelings fester in our hearts, we need to deal with them daily. We need to confess it as sin and ask the Lord to forgive us. It is also good to find a prayer partner who will help us fight this battle. James tells us – ‘Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.’ (Js 5:16)

2- Replace it. Paul says – “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (vs 32) Whenever we are tempted to become angry and judgmental of others, we need to stop and consider the grace of God that has been shown to us. We deserved the wrath of God, yet instead, God poured out His wrath upon His own Son. If God is so willing to forgive us, can’t we be as willing to forgive others?

Are you struggling with anger? Has someone done something to you that you feel is unjust? Don’t give the Devil a foothold in your life by harboring those angry feelings. Pray to God about what has happened and how it makes you feel. Ask for His grace to overcome your sinful emotions and to replace them with His love. And rest in the fact that God not only knows all about the situation, but also in His time, He will deal with it in a righteous way.



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lord Open Oue Eyes

Learning to See

Today’s Text Comes From:

Mark 8:17-18

"Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear?"



The scientific community reacted with skepticism. They had heard that William Herschel claimed to have discovered a new planet. But he was an outsider, a trained musician rather than a scientist. Herschel had become fascinated with the night sky through study and observation. He had made breakthroughs in telescope design, and he approached his studies with thoroughness previously unmatched.

In 1781, he discovered an object that, at first, he believed to be a comet. But it was revealed to be a new planet (eventually named Uranus)-the first new planet to be discovered in hundreds of years. Some scientists assumed that this discovery was the result of mere chance. They didn't recognize that it was the byproduct of Herschel's thoroughness and new methods. Drawing on his musical background, he realized that the natural senses need to be developed. Even astronomers must learn how to "see."

Herschel's discoveries remind us of the principles Jesus taught about vision. After the feeding of the 4,000, Jesus tried to teach His disciples spiritual truths, but they were preoccupied and could not see or understand his point. On another occasion, Jesus spit on the eyes of a blind man, laid hands on him, and asked, "Do you see anything?" The man said that he saw men "like trees, walking around." Then Jesus completely restored the man's vision, and he "began to see everything clearly" (Mark 8:23-25).

Jesus was teaching us that some people are like the blind man, without any sight. But others are like the man after his vision was partially restored: They see, but not clearly. Jesus wants us to see clearly-physically and spiritually. Today, ask God to open your eyes that you might have spiritual vision and see His teachings clearly.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, open my eyes to understand more of Your truth. Give me insight and understanding. Help me to see clearly and then obey Your precepts. In Your name. Amen

Extended Reading

Mark 8

Monday, February 21, 2011


Comfort or Calling


Bible Verse of the Day:

Luke 9:57-62

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”



Every day is full of decisions…

wake up or hit the snooze button,

whole grain cereal or pop tarts,

dress for comfort or for style,

go to the gym or take a nap,

turn on the TV or read the Bible?

In fact, life is full of decisions and some of these decisions will determine the course of our life. Who will I marry? Where will I work? What where will I live? For many of us in America our decisions will be determined by one concern: COMFORT.

Two thousand years ago those who wanted to follow Jesus faced a similar dilemma. Take a look at Luke 9:57-62:

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Many of us, when we first embraced a relationship with Jesus had the attitude, “I will follow you wherever you go.” That is until we realized His call on our life could lead us to places we’d never expected to go and cost us more than we’d ever expected to sacrifice. There’s nothing comfortable about Jesus’ challenge to these would be followers in Luke 9.

There’s nothing comfortable about Jesus’ calling on our lives today.
The decision remains the same: will we choose our comfort or God’s calling?

In what areas of your life are you struggling with choosing comfort over what God is calling you to do? What specific steps of faith and sacrifice is He calling you to take?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hymn Stories on God's Faithfulness


The Title of Saturday’s Devotion is:

Great Is Thy Faithfulness


Today’s Bible Passage Comes From:
Lamentations 3:22-23
"The Lord's loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."



Thomas Chisholm faced no crises. There were no emergencies or serious illnesses in his family. He had been a successful pastor, salesman, and writer, with little drama in his life.
Yet Chisholm didn't take his blessings for granted. When he looked back, he realized just how much God had blessed him. Reflecting the verses from Lamentations, he recognized that the Lord had been faithful.
In 1923, when he was 55, Chisholm wrote a hymn called "Great Is Thy Faithfulness." Through his words, he shared the truths he had experienced about God. Chisholm knew that God never changes, and He's the same in every season and every kind of weather.
Along with all of creation, Chisholm had been a witness to God's great faithfulness. He had seen how God was faithful to forgive the sins of even the vilest of sinners. He recognized that the Lord could fill troubled hearts with peace. In every situation, He was by our side, ready to encourage and direct our steps. He was able to meet every need-physical or financial, emotional or spiritual.
What is your story? As you look back at your life, can you remember times when it seemed like you were all alone? When you came to a crossroads and didn't know what to do? When you didn't know where to turn? When the future looked bleak and uncertain? When someone you knew faced a crisis?
What happened in those situations? Could you recognize the hand of God? Could you realize He was with you, even when you felt all alone?

Today, think about the faithfulness of God. Start thanking Him. Praise Him that His mercies are "new every morning." And remember that just as He has been faithful in the past, He will be faithful today and in the days to come.
Great is His faithfulness!

Father, thank You for being faithful to me. Take away my burdens, and give me Your peace. I trust my life to You. Thank You for your great mercy and care. In Jesus' name. Amen

Extended Reading Lamentations 3



The Title of Sunday’s Devotion is:

Our Faithful God

Today’s Bible Passage Comes From:
1 Corinthians 1:9

"God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."



Johann Heermann was born in Silesia, Germany, in 1585. As a child, he suffered a severe illness, and his mother vowed that if he lived, he would be trained for the ministry. She kept that vow, and he became the minister of a church in the small town of Koeben, near his birthplace.
This area frequently was marked by conflict, and several times, Heermann and many others were forced to flee during the Thirty Years' War. Heermann lost all his possessions and narrowly escaped death.

But through all of his struggles, Heermann knew that God was faithful. In 1630, he wrote a hymn, known in English as "O God, Thou Faithful God." In the translation provided by Catherine Winkworth, he expressed his gratefulness to God for He was a "fountain ever flowing."

He prayed that God would give him a "ready heart," saying he was willing to do whatever He commanded. Heermann knew he would find fulfillment only from doing God's will.

He prayed he never would speak outside the "bounds of truth," say any "idle word," or "offend the weak." He prayed for God to keep him "calm and fearless" if he faced dangers, and help him "bear the cross when life is dark and cheerless."
Reflecting on the wars he'd experienced, Heermann prayed that God would help him live "in peace and friendship" with all men, and that He would provide what he needed. He finished by declaring his confidence that he would spend eternity with the Lord. He would "hear Thy voice, change Thou this earthly frame, and bid me aye rejoice with those who love Thy Name."

Today, remember the lessons Heermann learned from his life. Truly, God is faithful. You can trust your life to Him.



Father, thank You that You are faithful and true. Take away my burdens, and give me Your peace. I trust my life to You. Use me to impact lives for Your Kingdom. In Jesus' name. Amen

Extended Reading 1 Corinthians 1

Friday, February 18, 2011

Be Open to God's Leading

The Title of the Devotion is:

A New Perspective


Today’s Bible Reading Comes From:

Job 24:1

“Since times are not hidden from the Almighty, Why do those who know Him see not His days?



Job was prosperous and content. Even God declared him to be "blameless and upright" (Job 1:8). Then everything changed. When he began to experience problems, his friends came to help, but they mostly battered him with accusations and cliche's.

Meanwhile, through real pain and loss, Job was forced to look at his life in new ways. He faced serious needs and sensed real suffering. In the process, he seemed to understand how the poor so often are abused and how they must search for food, clothing, and shelter. He saw the impact of broken homes, and realized that people with serious problems don't need platitudes, but hope and encouragement.

Through his experiences, Job became more sensitive and compassionate, and more concerned about the way he used his resources. He realized how easy it can be to criticize, and he saw the impact our actions can have on the lives of others. Job realized how people often take advantage of others. He saw how ungodly people often seem to prosper in spite of their godless lifestyle.

Thinking that they're immune from problems, they can have a false sense of security. But soon "they are gone; they are brought low and gathered up like all others" (v. 24). And Job gained a deeper understanding of God.

Today, make sure that you are open to God's leading in your life.
Remember that He might use circumstances to disrupt your status quo. He may allow experiences that force you to look at yourself and your life in new ways, causing you to seek Him with greater fervor and develop a more intensified prayer life, dig into His Word, and stand on His promises.

Be sensitive to the circumstances God allows in your life. Ask Him to speak to you, and be careful to listen. Let Him teach you, refine you, deepen you, change you.


Prayer: Father, I trust my life to You. Give me a new perspective, with greater compassion for others. I trust in You. Open my eyes to the things You want to show me. In Jesus' name. Amen

Extended Reading Job 24

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nobody Is Without Sin

The Title of the Devotion:

Bible Passage for Reading: John 5:41-47

"I do not accept glory from human beings, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?"


Notes from the Scriptures:

"Glory" is not a word used as much as it once was, because it signifies a kind of praise and honor not so common in our cynical modern world. It means a distinctly high type of praise, so high that we want to bow down in reverence. It is a confusing word, because it also means the thing owned or achieved by someone which is worthwhile of such extraordinary praise.

Christ here asks the question, how can we believe in Him if we seek glory from others but do not seek the glory that comes only from God? We must remember the Scripture that precedes this passage: belief in Christ is the key to His grace, therefore the key to forgiveness of our sins and, ultimately, to eternal life.

Imagine a perfect person, someone who has never done anything wrong. Would such a person not deserve our highest admiration? Of course he would (and unfortunately, many hypocrites pretend to be sinless just in order to earn the praise of others). But the Bible teaches us that nobody is without sin. Only through Christ's grace can our sins be forgiven, and only thus might we truly become glorious.

Of course one of the attributes of belief in Christ is seeking after a deep humility, which poses a dilemma. We cannot advertise our "goodness"; we cannot actively seek the praise of men, if we want the true glory that can come only from God.

So Christ says, "if someone comes in his own name, you accept him; how can you believe (if) you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes only from God?" He does not say that we cannot accept glory from others, or give them glory "in their own name", but He comes awfully close to it. This is especially true when we consider this passage with other of Christ's teachings, found in Matthew. "the meek shall inherit the earth".


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Letting Christ Look into the Closets of Our Hearts

Title of the Devotion:

Search Me God


Bible Verses of the Day: Psalm 139:23-24

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.



Relationships take time. And as time passes we can decide whether we want to go to the next level with the person and open up to them. This doesn’t have to be a boyfriend or girlfriend thing, but anyone. We all have someone we can tell our deepest and darkest secrets to, knowing they can keep our confidence.

These friends know when there is something wrong with us even when others don’t. They have been our friends and been around us for so long that they can almost sense our mood. Those who are outside of this circle don’t really know us, at least not like our closest friends.

We might tell them what is going on in our life, but we usually let them know all of the good. We almost wear a mask for them. This is fine; we don’t want to know what every one’s baggage is, just our good friends. Ironically, sometimes we try to wear this mask for Jesus.

When we pray, we might ask Him to forgive us of our little sins and ask for good things to happen to us, but we never ask Him to search us. We don’t tell Him to look deep down in our heart and see if there is anything we are doing wrong. This gets uncomfortable.

When Jesus does this for us, we then make excuses how that isn’t a problem in our life. Or, we have been living our life with it for so long that we can continue in the sin. We forget that Jesus already knows what is in our hearts
(Jeremiah 17:10 *).

Jesus is waiting for us to allow Him to invade our hearts and cleanse us of those grievous ways. We can’t hide our sins from Him, only keep them from Him. And by holding our sin so tightly, we do nothing but embrace our own death, while pushing away the author of eternal life.

Have you let Jesus look into your heart lately?

* But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” Jer.17:10