Devotional 188: So the People of Nineveh Believed G-d.

Jonah 3:1-10

Jonah Preaches at Nineveh

3 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, [a]a three-day journey in extent. And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

The People of Nineveh Believe

So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying,

Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

As believers we must not mistake mercy for permission. The reluctant, rebellious prophet who went in the opposite of G-d’s direction, even in his disobedience, was made to point people to the Father.

The mariners, to their credit, did not immediately wish to throw Jonah overboard. Surely in such seas, as far as they knew, Jonah was going to drown.

Still, Jonah’s rebellion was so strong that it forced them to find out through pagan means why their voyage was placed in holy peril. Fortunately, G-d was merciful to them in their innocence of Jonah’s crime.

When they did as Jonah requested, and the sea began to calm down, the power of G-d was seen in the natural to the point where the sailors took oaths and made a sacrifice; whether they maintained those oaths is not known, but in the moment, they knew who the true ruler of the seas was, despite whatever other gods they sought in their native prayers. The power of the G-d was revealed to them in the natural world.

In Nineveh, which deal violently with the prophets of its day, Jonah’s prophecy was short, but it says that he cried out. There was no meeting or gathering for him to preach to an assembly as such.

He cried out, and the important distinction here is that they did not spurn Jonah, but they believed G-d. How did a land so sinful come so quickly to a collective mode of repentance, from the greatest to the least, and even among the animals?

G-d imbued the words with the power of His Spirit, so that it penetrated every heart. Given the short time the Ninevites had, there was no time for a process, or for anyone to think about whether or not they wanted to repent; the power of G-d’s Word proclaimed by Jonah was such that none could refute it. The power of the Spirit-filled word had to pierce hearts and unstop ears that before had been resistant to the Father’s mercy. A disobedient rebel was used to convert the hearts and minds of disobedient rebels, and put a right spirit within them.

Jesus told His disciples such: (Luke 12:11)

11 “Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. 12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

And although Nineveh eventually fell because they failed to pass along the values of faith, repentance, and obedience, we have an example of the Father withholding his punishment for those who willing to do His will and live under His covenant of grace, including Jonah, who was actually angry that G-d followed His word and did not destroy the land.

Let’s note then, that although the prophet still desired in his heart to see the city destroyed despite his prophecy, the Lord provided for him until he could see mercy manifested on people he believed the worst of sinners.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

As You have revealed Yourself to us by the power of the blood of Your Son, and called us to also minister to a faithless, mocking, wicked, and adulterous generation while dealing with our own doubt, reluctance, and rebellion, we ask that You also imbue our words and deeds with the power of the Spirit, so that You are revealed to those we tell about you.

May it be so in the natural, as it was with the pagan mariners, and in the spiritual, as it was with the Ninevites.

We ask also for the Spirit’s discernment, that we not cover Your truth in the veil of our politics and self-righteousness, for all fall short of Your glory, and none are blameless before the throne save through the power of Calvary’s atoning work. Forgive us if we have done so, and bring it to mind if we backslide the next time we speak of the goodness of Your Name among those we have been called to prophesy and evangelize.

We thank You also, Father, for protecting and providing for us, that we may see Your mercy manifested among the worst of sinners so that they glorify You and bear more of salvation’s fruit in Jesus’ name.

May Your words be sealed to my spirit, now and forever.

Amen.

Devotional 187: The Lord Looked at Peter…

Getting the Lord’s attention leads to conviction, repentance. and eventually, the joy of salvation.

Luke 22:55-62

55 Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. 56 And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.”

57 But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”

58 And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.”

But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”

59 Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”

60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!”

Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 6And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.

Our earthly goal to model and emulate Jesus looks more like Peter’s walk; full of good intentions, strong words, many stumbles, and on occasion, a heart not up to the task.

It says in G-d’s Word that His eyes roam the earth, looking for remnants of faith, obedience, righteousness, and steadfastness. Indeed, He asks that when He returns, will He find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8)

He says of the Roman Centurion that his faith in Jesus to just speak the words of healing over his servant is unmatched, even in Israel.

Yet Peter was part of the ‘inner circle,’ and we, as His missionaries, have been called out to a higher standard. Jesus came to seek us out, to reveal the Father to us that we might be reconciled through Him.

The only disciple to walk on water, the one whose passion made him cut off a soldier’s ear, the one who repeatedly told Jesus he would stand beside Him when the others fled, the one who stood up in the midst of an assembly and delivered a powerful sermon of deliverance, had, in this moment, realized he only looked to preserve himself; his fighting spirit was as steadfast as jello, and just as quick to dissolve in a moment of persecution.

It is no different with us; Jesus knows we will backslide and transgress. He sees us doing so, over and over, willfully and otherwise. It is then on us to repent, confess, and entreat once more to be under the covenant of grace. He indeed sees our hearts, and knows our thoughts towards Him.

Repentance gets the Lord’s attention as well, as does faith, prayer, and obedience to do the Father’s will, for Jesus Himself does nothing apart from it.

If we are to emulate our Lord, then, we can do no less, and do it with no less devotion and godly focus. And when we have sinned, we must repent with the godly sorrow that leads back to salvation’s narrow road. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

As Jesus then restored Peter, peeling back the layers of his love with the same question asked three times, blotting away each of the denials from Peter’s ledger, so too will He restore us to fellowship with Him.

Let us willingly partake of His sacrifice, count the cost, and carry our crosses to be reconciled once more to the Father’s eternal love, lifting those around us as we go.

Ask yourself today: Am I the centurion, outside of the circle, but recognizing the majesty of who Jesus truly is, or am I Peter, inside the circle, yet denying Him in my spirit knowing full well that I borne witness to the impact of His power in my own life?

Then do what you need to do, in order to be able to say truly in your heart:

“Lord, you know that I love You.”

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

It’s undeniable that when I abide in You, in Your presence, in the Gospel as God’s plan to redeem me, in His Word that will not pass away, I am at my best in every aspect of this earthly life, feeling the best I ever do.

To walk in the Father’s favor is to have the best of everything, but because I don’t stay in fellowship, the enemy slithers up to me at a more opportune time, and consumes me. In that moment, bring to mind that if I never resist him, he will never flee. (James 4:7)

Having been called out of the world, I would not serve two masters. Indeed Lord, You tell me I cannot.

So this day, I once more choose salvation, redemption, forgiveness, and the mercy and grace of the New Covenant, covered by the blood You shed in my place for the remission of my sins. Because of You, though I am one day closer to the dread Day of the Lord, I do not fear it.

As my faith vacillates between that of the foreign centurion who believed, and the fearful rock who denied You, look on me too with love and restore me to Your side once more.

Give me boldness to stand up in the midst of the assembly, humble myself, and point those in my presence to the Father’s throne, and change the world.

May Your words be sealed to my spirit, now and forever.

Amen.

Devotional 186: He Is Not Here

Matthew 28:6

He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

The earthly celebration of the Lord’s rising in victory over sin and death is past, but we are to ever hold these words of comfort in our hearts as we abide until his return: He is not here.

How many times did He say to those He ministered too, and therefore to us, down through the ages, “I tell you the truth…” and “Assuredly, I say to you…”?

Even the angel sitting on the stone confirms Him: “He has risen, as He said.”

So too, He says He will do the same for us who remain in faith (John 6:40)

The faithless mockers would keep Him in the grave, and blaspheme that He is ‘zombie Jesus,’ but they do so because their spirits are attuned to dead things that only appear alive, as Jesus told the Pharisees that the tombstones, though whitened outside, still contained death and corruption within them. (Matthew 23:27)

As our Lord would do, we pray for them, that they come to repentance, faith, and obedience, and if they are within the sound of our voice, we are to speak Truth in love.

We must remember that as He was not of this world, we have also been called out of it, chosen by the Father’s mercy to have the truth of Him revealed to us, grafted in among His people by grace, partaking in the New Covenant given to all nations. We could not come to Him except through the presence of Christ in our lives. (John 14:6)

Having been called out to minister to the lost with our gifts and talents, being called HIs people who were once not His people, let us also declare that where our Lord is not, we are not.

We will not stay on this Earth of sin, but on a new one, purged of all evil. We will not stay in the grave. We will not stay in sin, doubt, pain, and sorrow, no matter our circumstances. He will heal our pain, bind our wounds, and dry our tears.

Certainly there will be times in this life where we will be afflicted, tested, tempted, attacked, and suffering, but let us keep in mind the words of faith in our Heavenly deliverance, even if we don’t experience an earthly one: But if He does not….(Daniel 3:17-19)

In those times, let us proclaim Him all the same, and all the louder, because He’s gone before us to prepare our place, as He will come to meet us, as He went into Galilee to present Himself to His disciples, being revived by the Spirit of the living G-d, which He imparts to us in love, through faith in Him.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

Every generation that believes on You and the One who sent You, marvels that You would make such a painful sacrifice, putting right the Father’s plan that seemed so easily replaced, a field of wheat sown with the enemy’s tares.

It is beyond our understanding, but He tells us in His Word, and through You, that His thoughts and ways are higher than ours, and only for our good,

The faithless mockers, putting their faith in this world, like Demas, turn and leave You behind in the grave. The sinners and doubters are in need of signs to bring them to faith and bolster it, as those who proclaimed they’d believe if You delivered Yourself from the cross, not bothering to seek G-d to reveal You to them.

We pray for them, as You prayed for us.

If indeed, our hearts and treasures are to be of Heaven, then we must be present where You are, and bring it into the midst of wherever two or more are gathered.

In this life, as You said on the cross, we too will feel the Father has forsaken us and left us to die in a dark place. We ask then, that You send the Comforter to remind us of our times of refreshing, of deliverance when there seemed to be none. We ask that He help our unbelief, and remind us that we are sealed in righteousness, for the seals of the tombs of sin and death, separated and irreconciled to our Creator, have been eternally broken.

We only need to come out of the grave into the light of His presence, by Your command, and to the Father’s glory, now and forever.

Amen.

Devotional 185: Let Us Die with Him

The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”

12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.

14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

It was a noble sentiment Thomas expressed, in fact, it was seemingly shared by the rest, but not one that he was ultimately committed to following through. From the time of the beginning of His ministry, Jesus referenced ‘my hour’ as impending.

He didn’t say it would be theirs, but His, and His alone, for He was the only one the Father sent to substitute for us, and the only one counted worthy of doing so, withstanding Satan’s temptations to have the bitter cup of our collective sins set aside for another way within the Father’s will.

But it wasn’t within G-d’s will to find another way, and Jesus gave Himself over to it: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22: 42)

Jesus did speak of the sacrifices they would make in ministering to the world, just not alongside Him. (John 21:18)

And in the Lord’s mercy, when Thomas openly declared his lack of belief in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, though he’d witnessed the rise of Lazarus, his faith was sealed in the recognition of Jesus’ divinity:

John 20:27-28 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

I don’t know how many of us were taught that Thomas did put his hand in Jesus’ side, but the text doesn’t state that. It would have been highly familiar and disrespectful to a King in full manifestation of His heavenly glory, and the mustard seed of faith that was yet buried in Thomas’ spirit checked him from doing it, and responded to the Holy Spirit abiding in Jesus, giving Him his due.

So how are we called to die with Him? The good news is this: We aren’t.

Our sins, doubts, fears, and rebellion are called to die. Our sin natures are called to die. We who are grafted into the Vine are called to live like Christ and to minister to those around us, pointing the way to G-d as His priests, ministers, disciples, servants, friends, brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters of the Most High G-d, leading them to the Throne of mercy and grace, that they too, like Thomas, will become believing, and on their knees cry out to Him: “My Lord and My God!”

Come out of the graves of the world, and rejoice that despite your many sins, you are still counted among the chosen to live with Him forever in a world free of evil, counted worthy to live in the light of the presence of the living G-d Almighty without fear of death for all eternity, for the blood of our Savior will forever erase the multitude of our mortal sins.

May Your words be sealed to my spirit, now and forever.

Amen.

Devotional 184: Who Did the Will of His Father?

Matthew 21:28-32

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ 29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”

They said to Him, “The first.”

Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.

We live as servants to the Lord in our life’s purpose. Once chosen, called, redeemed, and reconciled to the Father in spite of our many sins and wayward walks, our Lord commands us to tell others so they may also come to repentance, seeing the goodness of G-d in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

Jesus admonishes us to be about the work, not about the intentions to work; there is such a thing as too much counsel. There are also those who feel a sense of superiority in the fact that they’ve been chosen, and allow pride to ruin and otherwise sidetrack them from the simple, yet most difficult of commands: Love one another.

Harlots and tax collectors were considered to be the worst kinds of sinners, separated from G-d by their sin, and then John the Baptist came preaching with zeal and passion, telling them that G-d still loved them, and wanted them, but they had to stop what they were doing and come to Him in spirit and truth. Abandoned by the chosen ones whose hands were available to help, but only threw more spiritual stones of condemnation at them, their hearts and spirits responded to the message.

Jesus told them in this parable that if the worst of sinners could respond to the Gospel, what was it in the hearts of the chosen that kept them back when they saw what was happening?

Certainly Paul, the most cynical and prickly of the Apostles, who didn’t even walk with Christ, and persecuted the church, as he says, ‘with zeal,’ knows what he’s saying when he tells us that ‘knowledge puffs up.’ (1 Corinthians 8:1)

In contrast, John, the disciple Jesus loved, tells us that we cannot claim to love G-d whom we haven’t seen, if we hate our brothers and sisters we see all the time. (1 John 4:20)

Jesus Himself tells us that if we are to be with Him in the Father’s presence, we must do the Father’s will. (Matthew 12:50).

Let us reflect today on which of the two sons we truly follow: the one who repents and obeys, or the one who speaks willingness, and leaves his work undone. If we are not among those we deem the worst of sinners, and they’re getting in ahead of us because they receive the message of forgiveness, repentance, and obedience, we will have our answer.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

There are days I feel energized, excited, and fully capable to perform all that the Father asks of me. I am a beacon of light in those times: enthusiastic, excited, happy, and even patient and understanding with those who resist me, forgiving those who stand against me, and in those mountaintop experiences, I praise You with a song of ascent.

My faith feels firm, sealed to my spirit as I go about doing the work I was called to in Your Name, to the Father’s glory, and for awhile I really do believe all things are possible.

There are other days, Lord Jesus, when I feel like the Father should be grateful I’m even speaking to Him. Something or someone has battered my spiritual armor, and got past my guard. They spoke a word, or did a deed, or both, that shook me, angered me, and made me want to call down the Father’s holy fire in such a manner that they would never think to do so again.

You tell me in those moments that I don’t know the type of spirit I’m letting in (Luke 9:55). I get sullen, and prideful, and don’t ask forgiveness. I wonder if the Gospel is nothing but a cosmic hoax sent not by the King and Creator, but merely a divine jester and puppet master. I attribute the behavior of wicked men to a holy G-d, and walk in foolish fearlessness of Him who is able to cast my soul and body into eternal fire, and to wipe it out in an instant.

Today then, I stop, and give heed to the voice of my Father, and ask His forgiveness once again. I regret my rebellion, and remind myself that when I walk in His will, all that He has is mine, and as I fulfill my calling to bring glory and honor to His Name, He will sustain and protect me in all that I do. And I am reminded that Satan has no power over me, save that which in my flesh, I give him, as Adam gave him dominion once he disobeyed the will of his Father by not obeying His command.

Today then, let me be the repentant one who quietly goes and does their Father’s will, that I might be reconciled to Him once more through Christ, who bore my punishment and the Father’s wrath, that I might come to know His eternal love for me when I dwell in His presence forever, praising as I serve.

May Your Word be sealed to my spirit, now and forever.

Amen.

Devotional 183: The Tithe of Everything

2 Chronicles 31:5-6

As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything. And the children of Israel and Judah, who dwelt in the cities of Judah, brought the tithe of oxen and sheep; also the tithe of holy things which were consecrated to the Lord their God they laid in heaps.

Because the king was strong for G-d and did not hold himself from doing the things he asked of his subjects, the people also grew strong for G-d and pleased Him with their offerings and tithes.

There was no holding back of anything, and no secret attempt to hold onto or set aside any money as with those the Holy Spirit struck down in the presence of Christ’s disciples.

The Israelites brought in the secular as well as the consecrated, for if the Earth is His and everything in it, we have nothing save that which He grants us anyway. (Proverb 24:1-3) He allots to us the portions we receive.

Hezekiah was following the Lord’s example then, in that he gave out of his own portion as king (2 Chronicles 31:3), honoring the Law of G-d. How then, can we do less?

Believers of many things, established in paganism and polytheism, worshiped for eons, found themselves adrift when the one true G-d drove out the many, and their works could not stand save for those who rejected his New Covenant. Yet even so, the nations of men, flooded with deadly, grievous, relentless sin, were still granted grace, that we might come to know Him through the strong work of His Son, who took our rightful fate of damnation, that we might share in His glory before the Father’s presence.

Christ tells that all the nations will be gathered before Him (Matthew 25:32), and everyone will give account (Romans 14: 10-12), every motive judged, and thought revealed (Ecclesiastes 12:14), and everyone will rise to an eternal fate (John 5:16-30).

So while we live, let us give Him with glad hearts the tithe of everything, as it may that this night our very lives will be required of us (Luke 12:20), or if not, see His blessing hand pour out over You all that He wants for you, that you will not be able to contain as he delivers you, and places your feet on the rock of His salvation.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

As a child of faith, unable in my own strength to live by Your words and keep Your commands, unable in my own thoughts and flesh to align my spirit to fully to Your will, I plead the blood of Jesus over my sin, doubt, greed, and backsliding.

Help my unbelief, and grant that I not desire to seek a hiding place in the day Your wrath destroys the wretched and arrogant who question Your very existence, Your ways, and the Truth of Your Word.

Thank You for supplying my needs during this dire time, for sustaining me in the midst of this plague, and blessing me with health and strength in the days to come.

I place my trust in You, Lord, with nothing held back, partially offered with a selfish heart. I do it in reverent fear of You, and in faith and gratitude for the salvation You brought to me when I truly sought You, wanting nothing more to keep me from You, that we might meet, and that Your hand would touch me, and put my lowly name in the Book of Life.

I know the fate I deserve, and know, even now, that You keep it from me when I am in my sins. You rebuke the unclean until I come to myself, and restore our fellowship once again.

So today, Father, I place it all in Your Son’s hand, that He might remove my reproach, that I might dwell in Your house, giving you the tithe, offering, and outpouring of all You require: honor, praise, glory, obedience, thankfulness, righteousness, faith, and joy.

May Your words be sealed to my spirit, now and forever.

Amen.

Devotional 182: …But Who Are You?

Acts 19:11-20

Miracles Glorify Christ

11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.

15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”

1Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. 19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

This is a study in contrasts. Here we see that Paul doesn’t have to speak a word to the demons, but the items he touched and used had enough anointing on them to drive out to heal, and drive out evil spirits, and then we have those who used Paul’s name to invoke Christ, and then the sons of Sceva.

These others who invoked Jesus’ power through Paul were likely honored in their requests for their tertiary faith, whether they had the doctrine of Christ or not: “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.”

We don’t have a written record of their success rates, but we do have the record of the spectacular failing of Sceva’s sons. They seemingly had the numbers and credentials to do great work as sons of a devout chief priest. Whoever sought them out would have likely taken comfort in such, and while we don’t know the exact reason for their failure, the demon who challenged them did.

One could imagine the chill that went through them as they heard its question: “… but who are you?”

Perhaps it was as Paul says (2 Corinthians, 5:12) 12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart.

What we have to remember is that even as Christ looks at the heart, so too, do his enemies.

Were the sons of Sceva after a reputation, money, or power? Were they prideful or boastful from a successful exorcism? The text doesn’t say, only that they failed, and that it became widely known, which would have been a shame to their father as well. They seemed to have brought nothing of Heaven’s anointing, only themselves, that they were so thoroughly, shamefully put to flight.

Today, during this holiday season unlike any other, be careful to look within and ask if the demon’s challenge is true of us as well. Does he know you as a child of G-d? Is he gone, or will he beset you and put you to flight, abandoning all you know of Him who wrote your name in the Book of Life?

Today, make time to boast in the heart, trust in the Name, and receive the anointing of Christ to speak to your mountains, and drive out your demons.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

In our frailty, this year has been harder than most for a lot of us. With losses on every side of loved ones, finances, help, and fellowship, we ask Your forgiveness for our lapses in faith, and in the Father’s goodness.

As we prepare to transition to a new year, new leaders, and new circumstances, let us hold fast to the hand of our Shepherd, who assures us no one can snatch us from His hand.

Increase our faith, help our unbelief, and gird up our legs that we might stand where we would fall. Renew our hearts, refresh our spirits, and speak to us in the watches of the night, that we might know You are with us and for us.

We thank You for bringing us to this moment in time, as some have gone on to eternity. We pray for our nation, that it be preserved after hearts of sinful men are done with striking it a blow, according to Your will, that we might turn to You and realize that the signs You spoke of about the end of the age are now truly upon us.

We would be redeemed and reconciled to our Father through You, that we might not falter in the days to come. You tell us that night is coming, where no man can work. Let us follow Your light to the narrow path, that we might enter into our Father’s rest. But while we are here, let us do as You did, and go about doing all things well to the Father’s glory, speaking by the power of the Holy Spirit, and faithfully speaking all that You tell us to say, that none may refute us.

In this holiday season, so detached from the divine nature it once knew, may we honor You in righteousness, peace, and joy.

Amen.

Devotional 181: The High Places Not Torn Down

2 Kings 15:1-4 Azariah Reigns in Judah

15 In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, became king. He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done, except that the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. Then the Lord struck the king, so that he was a leper until the day of his death; so he dwelt in an isolated house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the royal house, judging the people of the land.

2 Kings 18:4 Hezekiah Reigns in Judah

18 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi, the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done.

4 He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan.

Most of the high places were tucked away in the shadowed recesses of the mountains, and used by the Canaanites as well for worship to false gods and feasting.

The pattern of man’s willfulness regarding G-d’s word is that no matter how longsuffering, merciful, and giving G-d is, staying His hand as it regards our rightful punishment, we manage to find His commands too restricting and create compromises and loopholes to do that which He says we should not. The high places, as they were used by Israel, were such. They essentially were hedging their faith that Yahweh was the only true G-d, despite all He’d done for them.

In this way, to our shame and peril, we crucify Christ repeatedly.(Hebrews 6:4)

Since the 2000’s began, we have been hard at work maintaining unholy strongholds and building new high places of the heart, even as the hand of G-d strikes the earth with the first wave of His signs, and reigns in our indulgences with a plague.

The high places of the heart are as collective in a nation as they are personally private: racism, injustice, greed, holding onto power that’s ultimately transitory, hoarding wealth at the expense of helping others while forgetting the lessons of charity, compassion, and love that Jesus taught us as we neglect repentance as something for ‘others’ to do.

Examine today in your own spirit where the high places are in your life, and rest assured of two things:

1-They were planted there by your enemy, so even as you may use it as a place of worship, he comes behind you to defile it to the corruption of your soul, for if you keep focused on the mountainside where your high place is, you will not look up to Heaven and the Father’s hand for your blessings.

2-The second thing is that on the day of your judgement, the rocks and shadows will provide no hiding place for the unrepentant, the nonbeliever, and the faithless, heartless, and prideful. (Isaiah 2:19, Rev 6:16)

Today, remove the blasphemous clutter of your high places, wherever and whatever they may be, before the Lord comes to tread on them (Micah 1:3) and find fault in you.

Build an altar to Him, and let Him set them on fire to purify you once again for Kingdom service.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

We have walked in the shadows of our high places because we were foolish enough to believe they were loopholes to our obeying Your every word. Indeed, they were a source of comfort and ease, recalling pleasant times in the flesh when we did not know Your wrath was upon us, or if we did, we simply didn’t care.

But the covenant Your Son struck with us through You, and through the holy power of His Name and the spilling of His holy blood, we are now bound fast to Heaven, chosen and set apart, far above the high places we have built, rebuilt, and insist on keeping. We keep them because to let them go means we have no more illusion for the excuse of disobeying You.

“You made me this way” is as poor an excuse as when Adam said, ‘The woman You gave me….” You did not, and You offered me a way out that cost You dearly, and hurt You deeply.

Today then, Father, use whatever is to be my coal to seal this vow to my unclean lips, even as Your finger writes it on my heart: I will tear down the high places of my spirit, my house, my family, so that all may be exposed, for there are no secrets from omnipresence, and Your Spirit surrounds me wherever I go.

I confess that my high places are wood, hay, chaff, tares, and stubble, suitable only for burning, and tasteless salt to be thrown out, before I myself am cast into the outer darkness by Your irrevocable Word, and my soul loses its one chance at redemption to live eternally in the light of Your glory.

In righteousness, peace, and joy may we honor You.

Amen.

Devotional 180: What Shall It Profit a Man

Mark 8:36

Take Up the Cross and Follow Him


34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in thi10:19s adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Time and again, the pattern repeats throughout the Word: our fellowship with G-d, righteous, pure, and joyful, clouds over with the distractions and trials of life by His design. When the curses start, we repent, and get back to righting our fellowship with Him.

Christ Himself tells us that we cannot serve two masters, for the love of one will result in hatred for the other (Matthew 6:24), but Solomon tells us that money is the answer to everything (Ecclesiates 10:19). And yet another disciple tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil .

So where does that leave us, who believe.

We are told on one hand by Jesus that we can’t serve G-d or money (Matt: 6:24) and the love of it is the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10), but that it’s also the answer to everything (Ecclesiastes 10:19)

So where does that leave those of us who believe in this system that says anyone can make it, but not everyone does? If, in fact, the silver and gold belong to the Father, as He proclaimed because the Earth and everything in belongs to Him, we are commanded to honor Him with a tithe of our earnings, and offer whatever remains voluntarily. We are to do this in spite of our circumstances, however humble, even to giving out of our poverty as the widow did.

What remains, we are to steward wisely (Proverbs 10:22) and not spend ourselves into needless poverty. And if He so desires to increase our earnings, He will add to it with no anxiety.

We are to give without ostentation, making a show for the praises of men, or our reward is already given to us and has no value before G-d.

Our financial sacrifices, as with every other aspect of our service to Him is to be done in humility, silence, in secret, and with right motives that align with His will to love an help each other. He will reward us openly, according to Jesus, if we are faithful. (Matthew 6: 1-4)

In these times of disparity and greed we are always to re-align ourselves with His purposes for His provision, be it money, or talents to be used in His service for HIs glory.

We can’t honor Him with our lips and kneel at mammon’s altar. With all that’s going on around us, we are to remain steadfast in the one regard the Father asks us to test Him, to give the first fruits of our earnings back to Him so that He can open the storehouses of Heaven to bless us.

Take stock of where you stand, and who you honor with your earnings, however meager. We serve a G-d of abundant joy.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven

As we return to You the portion of our wealth You provided, help us to remember that the Earth is Yours, and everything in it, including the silver and gold,

Grant us overflow that we might use to bless others, giving all with a grateful and humble hard, so that none who are around us are in need.

Let us, in the secret doing, do so with no thought of rewards or praises from men, for doing such cancels our blessing before Your throne, and our reward is given us, fleeting and hollow. It is of no value to Your kingdom.

Let us remember that Your Son does not give to us as the world gives, and tells us the truth that every good thing is from You. Let us remember too, that we are travelers passing through, and our wealth is stored up for the just if we misuse all that You have given us.

Our earthly gain is not worth our eternal inheritance with You, when we are one with You once more.

In righteousness, peace, and joy may we honor You.

Amen.

Devotional 179: All Your Meaningless Days

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

Surely the Father did not give us a life with no meaning. What would be the purpose of it, and where is the glory in it for Him. Why bother redeeming the junk of a meaningless creation?

If our days appear meaningless and without purpose or direction, having no blessings to speak of, no fellowship, and isolation from family, it is because the covenant of the Tree of Knowledge was broken. The Father’s warning words were superseded, and dominion was passed to G-d’s prideful enemy. Adam, in not rebuking his mate and repenting before the Lord, visited the Father’s wrath on all of his descendants. Indeed, he joined her in the breaking, and blamed the Father for his own fault.

If we find no meaning in life, it is because we have also broken fellowship with Him, surrendering faith in eternal life to the transitory, temporary firmness of a creation doomed to eventual destruction, and perpetual renewal, putting their focus on men and women in their own fallen states.

As Jesus said, if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit. (Matthew 15:4)

This is why studying is important, and finding a Word-centered church with Christ as its center from which everything else flows is essential. There are Christians around the world being persecuted and executed who’ve spent more time in G-d’s presence than some who’ve been attending church from childhood.

As servants of G-d, we should not be politically motivated, culturally isolated, compromising with a hostile world not seeking salvation, but rejecting Jesus’ testimony that its works are evil. (John 7:7)

The Father has plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11), promises He’s made to you that only He can keep (Numbers 23:19), works in You that He must bring to completion (Phillipians 1:6), gifts He imparted to You that You offer back to Him, that your works may stand the fires of judgment and purity (Romans 11:29), and most importantly, redeeming grace He imparted to you through the blood of His Son. (Hosea 2:23)

All that is comprised of your soul belongs to Him, and He will even redeem the vessel of dust that contains it. But understand He leaves it up to us to count the cost of sharing in His suffering (Luke 14:25-34), to be steadfast in our faith (Luke 7:9), to love one another (John 13:35), to be bold in our proclaiming His gospel (Luke 12:3), humble in our blessings (Matthew 6:3) and in our bearing (Matthew 23:12), and upright in our words and deeds (Psalm 101:2)

We have proven to Him, and ourselves, time and again that we are unable to achieve His plans for us in our own strength and will, for it always descends into pride and wickedness, and we have no righteousness in ourselves save through our faith in Christ, our only hope of redemption.

Though He remembers we are dust, we will be raised on the last day to spend eternity with our Savior in the light of the Father’s radiance, or to have our flesh punished in flames and the light of our souls snuffed out as if we’d never existed. Such is the way our G-d deals with evil, and our King vanquishes His enemies.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

This land has set itself adrift from Your Word, and has abandoned the very thought of a moral compass.

This land is rudderless, having tongues of bitterness, scorn, and hatred for one another.

This nation honors You with its lips, but genuflects at the altar of money.

With hard hearts and deaf ears. we redefine You to fit that which we want to be true: You will forgive every kind of sin without repentance, and faith in the redemptive, atoning work of the Christ.

We fly flags of pride and hate, and worship the killing weapons we brandish, marking ourselves as ripe for whoever You may deem our modern Assyrians to invade us, for Your angels to exact the price for our multitudes of sin.

We hold others in low regard for words and deeds they spoke in the past that do not reflect our own worldviews, seeking their downfall instead of their salvation.

I would not be among those who find kin with mockers and scorners, Father. I will hold fast to my Savior though the injustices mount, the persecutions increase, or the Angel of Death comes in to deliver my soul and spirit into Your hands.

I pray that You strengthen me not to walk among them, or sit in their seats, or eat at their tables.

You came into my life, and now take the humble place, waiting for me to place You higher. Come now, Lord, that I might see You, and ask for redemption through the power of Your majesty, and the Son of Your love.

Heal our land.

Touch the hearts of our leaders, and set guards over their mouths and hearts as Your Holy Spirit convicts them of their sins. Let them be led to true and godly repentance that cleaves the heart, then forgive them, Father, and establish the works of their hands, that we might be restored rejoicing in Your mercy and grace in the land of the living.

In righteousness, peace, and joy may we honor You.

Amen.