Devotional 204: What to Do

Grace and divine love does not mean we are not to make an effort to please the Father.

John Preaches to the People (Luke 3: 7-15)

Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?”

11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”

12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”

13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.”

14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?”

So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”

15 Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not,16 John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

The baptism ‘unto repentance for the remission of sins’ implies that it’s easier for the work of the Atonement to cover less than more. To clarify: it’s not that the blood is incapable of covering any and all sin through faith in Jesus, just that the walk goes quicker and smoother for us when there’s not so much sin to cover.

And just like putting a disease into remission, there must also be action on the part of the believer to eradicate sin from their life and do our part to heal.

John’s prophesy and proclamation of Christ’s coming gives the people listening to him an opportunity to get their hearts right. The Spirit’s anointing of the message was convicting and different people from all walks of life stepped forward to be baptized and asked an important question: “What must we do?”

In his response, John isn’t lofty. He gives them such practical advice that it seems like it should have been common sense, but at the essence of it was this: Do better.

The advice was in their realms of expertise, and spoke to the troublesome hearts of men. Stop being corrupt. Stop being violent and intimidating unnecessarily. We are not to become better versions of ourselves, we are to become more like Jesus.

In order to do that, He commands us: Come to me.

In the performance of His miracles, there was effort: “Arise, take up your bed, and walk.” (John 5:29)

In the giving of grace, there is effort: “Go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

Today, believer, as you rise to give thanks and praise, and count your blessings, and walk to victory through your trials, remember to seek His guidance. Remember also, have faith in the silence, remembering you are in His hands.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

We give You thanks for the covenant of grace through the agony of Calvary, and the grafting in of the unchosen and unworthy. We are reminded of Your words that those who do the Father’s will are the ones who will enter His rest, and that the strictest standards are for those who are called out of the world.

Let us be mindful that faith without works is dead (James 2:26), and works without faith will not stand the refining fires of the harvest (1 Cor 3: 12-15)

Thank You for the purification, reconciliation, and deliverance of our souls back to the Father, that we may live in a new earth purged of evil, praising in the presence of the Father’s light, in His kingdom ruled by the Son.

Every day, let those of us You chose to reveal to the Father reflect You more, and like John the Baptist, be ever aware that we must decrease.

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

Amen.

Devotional 203: The King’s Standard

Two definitions of the word ‘standard’:

  1. a level of quality or attainment.

2. (of a tree or shrub) growing on an erect stem of full height.
(of a shrub) grafted on an erect stem and trained in tree form.

Indeed, our Father the King has set new standards for us by having the Son call us out of the world as He was revealed to us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

They are His standards for entering into His Kingdom. While they seem intolerably high to us, for G-d, they are normal for fellowship with the Israelites in the Old Testament. As He said to Isaiah, (55:8-10):

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

In the New Testament, we as Gentile vines have been grafted into Israel’s tree of life through Jesus. Let us be reminded they were a people G-d had to keep pruning in order for them to claim the Kingdom of Heaven through the promised Messiah, but when G-d delivered the Promise, just as their fathers did with the land G-d said He’d already given them, they did not believe.

Consequently, the land was taken back from them, and when they relented and tried to get G-d back on their side at their convenience, He took His hand from them, and they were defeated.

In the same fashion, Jesus warns those of Israel who don’t believe that they won’t see the kingdom either. (Matthew 21:31)

To be grafted in under the covenant of grace should then give us great comfort in being assured of the life and age to come. As we have been grafted, so too, must we be trained to form. We are different, yes, but we are all equal and loved in the sight of G-d, as we follow Christ.

Think of it this way: like the grafted branch you were selected, removed, and placed in better circumstances (though it may not seem that way at the moment).

When Jesus tells the disciples He is the Vine and they are the branches, they are admonished in their flesh to stay close to Him, as they depended on Him to impart to them the power to work miracles through faith and the Holy Spirit. In no uncertain terms does He remind them that apart from Him, they can do nothing. (John 15:5)

So today, believers, let us examine ourselves, knowing we’ve been grafted, and are in training, to receive the standard of divine reclamation through Christ’s redemptive work on Calvary, abiding in the power of the Vine.

Are we attracting the pleased attention of our King?

Let us be ever mindful to work to achieve His standards, knowing that as long as His mercy and grace preside over our time, they are given to us that we will not die in our sins.

Let us also be reminded, however, that all things end in tested works and judged lives, irrevocably. He will bring those who’ve met the standards of His sovereign will into His rest, and purge the rest from His sight and kingdom to the consequences of their unbelief for eternity, despite their cries for mercy and grace.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven, as the Earth and everything in it is yours, you are sovereign in deciding who is part of the Kingdom, and what they will do as their service, to Your glory, the highest and best of all standards.

Bind our wandering souls with the power of Your Holy Spirit to Your Branch of Jesse, lest we fall in our own arrogance to die in our sins.

Forgive us, this day, our sins and rebellion, both in the past and in the days to come.

Today, help us to raise the standards of our meager service to yours, reminding us that blessings and cursing should not come from the same source. Convict us as the seed of disobedience seeks to germinate and graft us to a withering vine destined for burning. Find none in us not covered by Your blood, for sin can have no place in our salvation, as You possess none.

Let steadfast, faithful, fruitful service be our standard legacy.

May Your words be sealed to our spirits, now and forever.

Amen.

Devotional 202: Law Abiding

Matthew 3:13-15

John Baptizes Jesus

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”

15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.

Matthew 4:1-4

Satan Tempts Jesus

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Matthew 5:17

Christ Fulfills the Law

17 Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

There are those who seek a relationship with the Father and do not choose to bother with the Son because while Jesus came to tell us of the Father’s desire to love us and see us reconciled to eternal life, he gave us the requirements for that to be possible.

In our manner of living, in all that we say and do, we must reflect the love for each other that Jesus has shown us.

We must serve each other as He served His disciples and all who came to Him.

We must help each other in our imperfect walks, and give the glory of all our provision, protection, and victory to G-d, as the works of Jesus did. (Matthew 5:16) (Acts 3:8)

There are still others who rationalize to themselves that because Jesus did not mention something that was ‘controversial’ in these so-called modern times, that somehow sanctions it. ‘Silence gives consent.’ And the covenant of grace and forgiveness is then seen as license.

Often, these are the very same who mock the Word of G-d as repressive, outdated, and wrong because they read or hear with no desire to understand, content to be mislead by false teachers and prophets, and point to them as the reason for their own spiritual failure. “Jesus didn’t say anything about…”

There can be no ‘cherry picking’ of the Word. Jesus constantly rebuked the Pharisees for doing so, and the Word’s lack of declarative sentences on every personal sin do not give them permission to be practiced. Given the human heart, many would choose to disobey anyway.

There can be no covenant of grace without faith in Jesus, repentance from sin, and obedience to the Word. To invoke Jesus’ name to indulge the flesh in faithlessness, confusing the covenant of grace with permission, the mortal flesh imperils the eternal soul.

Don’t be among those who look to the grace Jesus as an escape from the demands of G-d, remember what He said to His disciples: (John 14:18-20):

Indwelling of the Father and the Son

19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

If Jesus came to fulfill the Law and confirm the Prophets in His resurrected glory to the Jews, and to graft in the Gentiles, being restored to the Father after taking away the punishment for our sins, then mortal flesh and feelings do nothing to set aside the promises and requirements to achieve eternal life.

God’s love is steadfast, not all encompassing: Evil will be punished, and sin will be purged from His Kingdom.

Let us not become cautionary tales of damnation. (Matthew 10:28)

Therefore I pray:

King Jesus,

As men tussle and fight for empty, transitory power in a world that does not belong to them, we see the times unfolding that You foretold, and grace begins to fade. As it was in the times of Joshua, You tell us to make a choice, for to walk between two worlds will see us damned. (Rev 3:15-17)

Pride and confusion are exalted, killers are exonerated, exalted, and their wealth increases.

Skin, money, and injustice are used for the purposes of exclusion, and justified by laws made by sinful men with no heavenly vision, or adherence to the Father’s Word. They believe their failed paper statements superior to Your Truth, and distance themselves from You with every passing generation.

And the earth itself groans under the plundering of its bounty for the sake of mammon.

Forgive us, Lord. We yet believe and stand for You, and in the gap for the lost sheep. While there is yet time before the final harvest, we continue in Your service, doing good to the Father’s glory, and sowing seeds for the Holy Spirit to water and bring to fruition as the old earth passes into oblivion along with all rebel souls.

We beseech others to let them know that the final judgement will be exactly that, sealed to their spirits by all they’ve said and done, to be justified to life or condemned by their own words (Matthew 12:37) with Your final words to them, even to those who claim You but have fallen short:

23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Today, let us not harden our hearts, and choose to follow the Father’s laws that lead to everlasting life, eternal peace, and joy unspeakable.

We ask in Your Name, believing we’ve already received.

Amen.

Devotional 201: Promises to the Faithful

Luke 2:25-32

Simeon Sees God’s Salvation

25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:

29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation
31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”

Other than this story, which is impactful enough as it stands, we know nothing of Simeon outside of this passage. As with some others, nowhere does it say ‘This was the same man who…’ We are told he was just and devout. We are not told he was without sin, or flaws, or what his walk with G-d was like.

What we can piece together from here is that G-d certainly knew who he was, and that sometime in his life he felt Israel’s persecution so keenly, perhaps even suffered some himself, that he asked to know the promises he heard in his youth of Israel’s Consolation were true.

And the Father not only honored his request, but he was among the first to hold His Son, and to deliver a powerful prophesy over him, no doubt bewildering to Jesus’ earthly parents.

Do you ever wonder, believer, if Mary recalled these words, if all that Simeon said came together for her as she watched her son suffer and die, with spiritual demons mocking and cavorting around Him as His holy blood covered our souls to blot out the evil in them from His Father’s sight.

Have you ever wondered if, with all that Jesus suffered, the Father removing him from His sight as he took the penalty of our sins, was more painful than the nails and thorns?

Have you prayed in your own youth, wondered if G-d heard, and later in life saw that He delivered the desire of your heart into your hands?

From this passage we’re told that Simeon held on to that promise, but that the Holy Spirit was sent to assure him, and after it was fulfilled, Simeon was at peace with leaving this world.

That same Holy Spirit was sent to us after we accepted G-d’s Son as our Friend, Brother, Shepherd Lord, Savior, King, and Judge.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

There are none righteous here on the earth that You should deliver us from sin’s hold. We are only worthy of the destruction of the world, as in the times of Noah.

But in Your love, mercy, and grace, remembering we are clay as we live, and the dust of clay when we perish, You would yet see our souls reconciled to You, to see us rejoice in the rewards of our faith in Your promises You have spoken through Your Son, Jesus, as yes and amen.

As we stumble, fall, backslide, run off, disobey, and return to our personal Egypts, remind us through the Holy Spirit that the promise of redemption is sealed to us, for as You sent the Spirit to Simeon, so did Jesus tell His disciples the Spirit would come to them, and give to them more of the revelation and strength of the Christ.

May we blot from our sight the ways of this world, repent, and live such a life of faith before You as we hold on to the promise of eternal life, and bless the Son as we hold on to the reassurances he gave us in Your Word, that You may remember us, as You remembered Simeon in the appointed hour.

Grant to us also that we never waver in our belief we will one day meet Simeon and rejoice with him forever, in the presence of our Consolation along with Your people Israel, grafted into the Branch by Your covenants of mercy and grace.

Today, we humbly, gratefully, reverently, fearfully thank You for sealing Your promises to us through the power, counsel and conviction of the Holy Spirit, and that no matter how much time passes, You will keep them all.

We ask this in Jesus’ Name, believing we’ve already received.

Amen.

Devotional 200: Infallible Purpose, Immutable Promise

Hebrews 6:13-18

God’s Infallible Purpose in Christ

13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. 17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

In these times of great wealth and comfort, alongside moral bankruptcy and all manner of illness, it is clear that most have not fled for refuge in the hope set before us because it’s contained in the Word of G-d. Once the Word is read, received by faith, and preached to the lost by those who believe, it is to be preached further by those who to all of humanity.

More importantly, it is to be obeyed. But Satan has corrupted that within us, making it a point of contention or denial of G-d’s very existence. Yet that is how Jesus overcame the world

As Peter wrote, it would be better not to have known, than to know and go back to the world. (2 Peter: 20-22)

 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”

Though he was speaking to the fate of false teachers, we who don’t are no less accountable.

We see it again in Hebrews 6:4-6

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

As believers, we’ve all heard some variation of this statement: “The Bible is outdated.” Now that the eons old chemistry of humanity is somehow fluid, non-binary and the like, we are told we should no longer say, as G-d did, and Jesus later confirms: male and female, He created them. (Genesis 5:2) (Matthew 19:4)

Use wisdom, truth, and love in your responses (if you choose to respond), but do not gainsay G-d in these matters. If His Word is higher than His Name, and He cannot lie or change His mind, and if all His works were known to Him from the beginning, the Word is immutable.

If His thoughts and ways are higher and better than ours, and if being in His presence is the best thing for us, then we who confess Him and the Son must meet rise to meet His standards, for He already sent Jesus to us to speak His will for us. That is the most He is going to do, because it was the highest price He could pay, to the point where He obscured Jesus from view with dark clouds.

Jesus, in the pain of that moment, quoted David about being abandoned to His fate: “Why have you forsaken me?”

He, the only one who’d seen G-d and lived to tell it, now in His anguish knew what we take for granted: how it feels to be disconnected from our higher selves.

Hold fast to your faith, make it immutable, and think on this:

Of all of the sciences, and all of the arts, and all of that which you can see, feel, and know, there is only one Creator, and we call Him Almighty G-d. If He is not almighty, then we lie with our tongues, our hearts are deceived by He whom we’ve confessed and yielded to as Savior, and we do the work of the evil one in spreading the Word.

Paul, after his conversion, with the scope of his knowledge of the Law, confounded the Jews of Damascus he once called his brothers, in teaching from the same law they used to rebuke and deny the authority and divinity of Jesus, that Jesus was in fact the Messiah. (Acts 9:22)

So hard were their hearts and their violent denials, he eventually shook his clothes, telling them their eternal fate was now on them, and left them to suffer it.

Jesus told the disciples if the people would not hear them, to shake off the dust from their sandals and let their peace return to them.

How will you deal with those who will not hear? What will you say when they accuse you? With whom will you stand if they seek your life, or the lives of your loved ones?

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

You told us persecution would come, and those in whom the Word was not rooted would lose it, some would reject it and return to the world, and others would stand. You did not say the form in which it would come, but that we must be willing to stand against those who would tell us to keep the seeds of their salvation, the words of the Gospel, in our hearts.

We are not to sow, scatter, plant, tend, or water in these modern times. We are not to stand on the corners and rooftops. We are not to stand by our beliefs as truth while everyone who will not hear proclaims theirs as equal to Yours.

Teach us to discern that while the world is different, it is still Yours, and everything and everyone in it was created by You, and only draws its next breath by Your favor as You watch Your children carry out Your plan of loving redemption for the relief of suffering and the redemption of souls back into Your kingdom.

Yet Peter and John preached louder after they were beaten. Your earthly brother James told us to count all persecution as joy, for our rewards are in Heaven.

Our faith is tested in that You are still preached as the Lamb of G-d, and Your doctrine of hearing and spreading the Word for repentance, and working G-d’s will by faith to change hearts and minds as we point the way to the Father, this doctrine fades and echoes into the ceilings of our churches, to be heard no more. Pastors profane their callings, altars, and lead their flocks into greater darkness.

Today we groan, along with all creation, for Your return as the Lion of Judah, returning in the Father’s glory with the angels for the beginning of the end of all manner of chaos and sin.

As faith does not seek proof, remind us that our Father’s Word is already done, as a child takes their parent’s promise in faith, believing it will be so. You tell us the kingdom of Heaven is for such as these.

Remind us also, He watches over His Word to perform it, so when You tell us as you told the thief, we will be with You in Paradise, it is infallible and assured.

Let our tired, frightened, fading spirits be renewed by the Comforter that seals Your promise of eternal life to us, and give us the strength to stand fast in the coming hours of darkness, when no one can work.

We ask in Your Name, believing we’ve already received.

Amen.

Devotional 199: Known to G-d

Acts 15:18 18 

“Known to God from eternity are all His works.

Genesis 22: 38

3  So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”

So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”

And he said, “Here I am, my son.”

Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.

Psalm 65: 1-3

65 Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion;
And to You the vow shall be performed.
O You who hear prayer,
To You all flesh will come.
Iniquities prevail against me;
As for our transgressions,
You will provide atonement for them.

When one has been elected to receive, believe, and obey the G-d’s Word, it becomes more difficult to unravel using the logic of men, who cannot, as the Word tells us, fathom what G-d has done from beginning to end. (Ecc: 3:11)

If indeed He knew us before He formed us, the number of our days, and the hairs on our heads, He is not one to be outwitted by the very souls He created to be redeemed from the power of His rebellious angel and those he took with him.

And though we are exhorted not to, we do grow weary of doing well, we don’t pray for those who abuse us, we want earthly, mortal revenge, and to call down heaven’s fire on our enemies. (Luke 9:54 – 56)

Yet Jesus, even as He remained focused on His journey back to Jerusalem, rebuked the disciples who wanted to put on a show for themselves and whoever was watching, and it tainted the purpose of their walk.

55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.

He confirmed with His prayer for those who demanded His death rather than hear Him preach that sinners could get back to the Father through faith and repentance. (Luke 23:34)

Even so, He must remind us of our calling out of the world because of our refusal to deny our own will and replace it with His, and that as there is a spiritual war in the heavens, if the kingdom of G-d is within us, so too, is the sin of rebellion disguised as knowledge, pride, possessions, and the need for approval of men.

Add in the immediate needs of practical living: food, clothing, and shelter, then we can see the potential to fall into the traps the enemy of G-d has in store for us. Did G-d indeed say…? (Genesis 3:1)

In spite of today’s unfolding of Christ’s prophecies, we are called to endure until the end with obedience, faith, humility, devotion, steadfastness, prayer, discernment, and most of all, LOVE.

Abraham, before he knew G-d would provide a ram, told those who waited for him …’we will return to you.’ As such, G-d provided for Abraham and spared him seeing the blood of Isaac on his hands.

He did not do the same for Himself, but neither did He also slay His Son, for as Isaac was the child of promise to Abraham for Israel, so too was Jesus the child of promise to us to redeem us back to the Father, pure and holy. It is only then, when those souls who’ve declared for Christ have been redeemed, God will purge the heavens and earth of His enemies. Indeed, He will create them anew.

Get to know Him, for He knows you.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

The days you foretold so long ago begin to overtake the land, of brother against brother, nation against nation, and house within house, falling before the scythes of spiritual sickness.

This nation has placed itself on a path to perdition with the idols and vices of wealth on one side, and the idols and vices of self on the other.

False teachers and prophets defile our churches and twist the Father’s Word to the unlearned for their own purposes, as did the Pharisees of your day. They tickle unrepentant ears with soft thorns, proclaiming themselves and those who follow them to be sinless, if they speak of sin at all, not only in your sight but before Heaven’s throne, from which you will judge all the people from all the nations.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident…” as noble a sentiment as it sounded, has not, does not, and cannot apply to all, administered as it was by the hearts of spiritually sick men. In contrast, you say to us : I AM the way, the TRUTH, and the Light. (John 14:6), and there is no plurality in you regarding the Father’s will (John 10:30).

Today, get to know your heavenly Father again, and turn your back on the world which is headed for destruction, and remove yourself and your house from people puffed up with their definitions of themselves, who are headed for destruction.

Declare for Jesus, and the Word of G-d, which He holds higher than his Name, which is already above all other names. Do it while there is yet time or hear the saddest, most heart-wrenching of words He will ever say, which He also prophesied:

Depart from Me. I never knew you.

Devotional 198: A Two-Way Filter

As G-d cannot look on sin, we would do well to remember the reverse is also true. It’s why many won’t believe, but accountability is inevitable. So are the consequences.

Genesis 3:6-8

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was  pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Exodus 20:18-19

The People Afraid of God’s Presence

18 Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

Luke 5:6-8

And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

As believers, we know we serve a holy G-d who cannot look on sin in any form, no matter how small, no matter our own rationale for performing it outside of the fact that we allowed something other than the Holy Spirit to guide us away from that which tempted us to fall.

G-d walked freely with Adam. How that looked, we have no idea, but the word says nothing of veiling His presence from the first man until his mate fell to the serpent’s temptation, and he followed suit. It was only when they covered themselves that G-d stopped walking with them, and veiling and the shedding of blood became necessary (to make the skins that covered the rest of them).

The Israelites, whom G-d actually chose, were so prone to sin and backsliding that they left it to Moses to go speak to G-d rather than collectively stand in His presence, as they saw Him making thunder in the mountains.

Peter, after the great haul of fish that almost broke their nets, asked that Jesus depart from his sinfulness, as his own mercurial nature got convicted in the presence of Christ’s steadfast holiness.

Again, we see it when the demons asked Jesus if He was there to torture them before the appointed time. (Matthew 8:29) They also know there will be a day and time for their own end, regardless of their master’s power.

The witch of Endor rebuked Saul when he told her to bring forth Samuel. (1st Samuel 28:9-19)

James tells us blessings, praise, and curses shouldn’t issue forth from the same mouth. (James 3:10).

But they do, and more often than not. It’s the very reason we must plead the blood of Christ over us, for there’s no withstanding His judgement if we don’t. Think on this: if G-d put dark clouds around His Son as he took on our sins while on the cross, how much more will He condemn the enemies of the Kingdom who don’t believe they are sinners, and accept the message of forgiveness before Christ comes again in glory?

Yet there are those who say that in their humanity they’ll stand before G-d, hurling accusations and questions. And there are those believing He is only all love for love’s sake, and will not hold them accountable for their sins. Indeed, they seek preaching that reinforces unaccountability. More likely, they will be like John, falling at His feet as though dead. But unlike John, they will be cut off, to use Solomon’s phrase, ‘without remedy.’ (Proverbs 29:1)

As holiness cannot abide sin, sin can not abide with holiness. In us, it may move faith aside, but never replace it. It can cause us to stumble, but never to fall. It can break off our fellowship, but not destroy it outright. We’re under the covenant of grace, written by the Almighty, signed by the Son, and sealed by the Spirit. Let us remember to rejoice in the day, to walk in the light, and to seek the Lord while He may be found. He will not cast out any who come seeking.

Shine your light in a dark place today, take the outstretched hands, and lead them as far as they wish to walk. Let the Spirit of G-d do the rest.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

As we reread and study the horrible manner of your death in our place, we cannot begin to imagine the pain of being cut off from the Father’s sight, whom you’ve always known and never been without until that moment you took our sins, and He could not look and still be G-d.

Forgive us, Lord, that we continue to call on You for mercy, grace, understanding, compassion, and power, while we continue to fall into sins of rebellion, backsliding, compromise, and spiritual dullness.

As the prince of this world has no part in you, may we too, with your guidance and power, send him away from us and all those we hold dear in like manner: by the power of the Father’s word.

Let us respond in love to Him, who knew us long before He formed us, knowing we were weak, knowing we would suffer when we were called as you, Lord Jesus, revealed Him to us.

If we must be in rebellion, let it be toward the darkness that seems ever ready to snatch us off the path of righteousness and cast us into the darkness of sinful pleasure or the panic of frantic desperation, taking our eyes off you to indulge in worldly behaviors.

We are disobedient, but yet You walk with us.

We are fearful of G-d’s thunder, but You take us by the hand to come toward Him, knowing He is good.

We are sinful and treacherous, but You look on us with love, and don’t leave us to our unrighteousness. (Luke 22:54-62)

Today, in Your presence, we, like Zaccheus, call Your attention to what we have done to cast out the darkness in us. (Luke 19:1-10) In so doing, we return (once more) to reconcile with the One who loves us for all eternity. Even so, to share it with us as we continue to weave a three-strand cord of righteousness, holiness, and purity.

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

Amen.

Devotional 197: Sealed Doors

He promises us eternal life, not eternal grace.

Genesis 7:13-16

13 On the very same day Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark— 14 they and every beast after its kind, all cattle after their kind, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort. 15 And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life. 16 So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.

Matthew 25:8-13

And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

We must ever be mindful of the fact that, as Jesus tells us, the things concerning Him have an end. (Luke 22:37). He promises us eternal life, but not eternal grace.

The purging of G-d’s enemies from the Kingdom will be complete, and the wicked cut off, as Solomon wrote, ‘without remedy.’ (Prov 29:1) because the opportunity to repent, receive grace, and rise to salvation was given, but dismissed, doubted, and rejected outright.

There will be no compromise for the unbeliever and the unrepentant, but weeping and gnashing of teeth at the casting out. (Luke 13:28)

There will be no bargaining with fence sitters; the Lord will deal more with you if you’re outside of G-d’s will because He wants your heart, that He might raise your spirit and redeem your soul, than ‘hedging bets’ by attending church on the ‘big days’, holding onto heaven like a gambler who believes they will get to place their final card on the table and reap the winnings.

It took the Almighty to seal Noah in, for panicking humanity and high, terrible waves beat at the door. If Noah had not obeyed and tried to seal it himself, they would not have survived.

It will also be true of the Gates of Heaven, when they’re sealed that no sin, no matter how small, will pass through them for eternity.

These are the things concerning Christ that will end. God’s grace, mercy, generosity, protection from evil, blessings, forgiveness, and most importantly, salvation from hellfire.

There is also ‘no remedy’ for remaining undecided or unbelieving.

We are admonished to arm ourselves with His Word, that we might not fall prey to sin when temptation calls, when doubt creeps in, and when rebellion feels good because the judgment is not swift in coming.

Stay true to your Lord, and faithful to your calling so when the door is finally, irrevocably sealed, you are known by name through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Name of Jesus, to Father G-d.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

It is said we may boldly approach and petition the throne as sons and daughters of G-d, redeemed by Your blood to the Father’s glory through our confession, repentance, faith, and obedience to the Father’s will, as You have done.

Yet I find that very much like King David, I’m asking’What is man, that You are mindful of him?’ (Psalm 8:4)

However bold my approach may appear, know that behind it there is a reverent fear, immense love, and inexpressible gratitude that this piece of dirt and dust that houses my longing spirit has been found worthy of the revelation of G-d through His Son.

I marvel that my unworthy, compromising, conditionally loving soul has been deemed worthy of forgiveness, grace, and salvation, and all that You ask is that I make this Good News known to others who have fallen, for it is the Father’s will that none should perish. (2nd Peter 3:9)

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for revealing the Father’s will for me, His mercy on me, and His love for me even in my wretchedness, that He sent You to redeem me.

I confess, profess, and glorify You in proclaiming that today I desire to dwell with the bridegroom in the house of the Lord as a fruitful servant of His kingdom. It will be my eternal honor to give Him praise and do the work of Heaven He’s called my redeemed soul to do, knowing that I am sealed inside the door not just by His Holy Spirit, but as Noah was sealed, by His Almighty hand.

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

Amen.

Devotional 196: Examine and Return

We have an active part to play in the restoration of our fellowship to G-d.

Lamentations 3:40-41

40 Let us search out and examine our ways,
And turn back to the Lord;
41 Let us lift our hearts and hands
To God in heaven.

So very often in the stumbles of our walk to the narrow road and the final judgment, we’ve had to ask forgiveness, but we do say in a way that calls for the Lord to take action in order to restore us.

Purify, renew, take away, strengthen, or whatever variation for whatever sins, we seek His ability to sweep it away. He has promised to do so, but we are not to simply ask, because even though He knows what we’ve done, we ourselves have an active part to play.

In the OT, the Israelites often gathered before G-d and sought His mercy after a period of self examination and confession.

Since the holy G-d cannot look on sin, whenever Israel lost sight of who provided for and protected them, they fell into worldliness to their peril, and opened themselves to the Father’s wrath as He gave them over or punished them, then looked for a faithful remnant to return to Him so He could restore them.

This is a reassuring message, and even under the covenant of grace, He does not excuse our sinning, or let us be passive in the process of restoring our fellowship with Him.

In repentance, Israel had to approach G-d, bringing the offerings He required of them, performing the rituals He commanded of them, and He would hear from Heaven, and restore them to Himself.

If there is any truth to the maxim: ‘Prevention is better than repair,’ it is in this verse from Lamentations. If we claim to love G-d and truly desire to be in His presence when all is said and done, it requires not only faith and obedience.

Faith, obedience, discipline, sacrifice, and prayer are required of us. The sooner we’re convicted of sin and repent of it, the sooner our fellowship is restored and we are back under the Blood of our Savior.

The writer of Hebrews admonishes us to ‘throw off the sin that so easily besets us.’ (Hebrews 12:1)

Jesus tells us to cut off anything of the flesh that causes us to sin rather than imperil our souls. (Matthew 5:29-30)

In our daily walk, the closer we stay to our Lord’s boundaries, we’ll begin to find that keeping ourselves from temptation to sin will keep us from the need to seek grace so often.

The Father himself assures us that if we return to Him, He will return to us, restoring us once more under the covenant of grace, and the wrath of lawlessness will no longer be upon us.

Therfore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

As You are the holy, worthy one covering for my sins, when I break fellowship with Heaven I too feel the frightened anguish You did when the Father hid You from view as you replaced me on the cross, that I may be reconciled to enter into my Father’s rest.

Let the Holy Spirit convict me to present myself to You after examining my ways, confessing and repenting of all I did and said that was not of You or the will of the Father.

Let the voice of the Spirit be firm and unrelenting, that I may come before G-d to confess, repent, and be restored to Him as You are at this very hour.

I understand that is on me to initiate the return to my first love, who is never far from me.

Forgive me today, for whatever backsliding licentiousness, of sin I fell prey to, willingly or not, and cause it to depart from and be hidden from me.

I come now to the altar of the Lord to place the crushing burden of my sins on it for holy fire to consume.

Let me seek once more to restore myself beneath the covenant of grace, but I also ask that my own need become less frequent, that You might impart it to others more freely as I learn to walk blameless in the Light of Your salvation.

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

Amen.

Devotional 195: See and Follow

Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus

46 Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

48 Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

49 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called.

Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.”

50 And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.

51 So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”

52 Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has [b]made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.

In this condensed telling of the story of Bartimaeus, Jesus uses the catalyst of the beggar’s faith to work his healing. He tells the man that his faith has made him well, then gives him an interesting command.

“Go your way.” But something else happens instead.

After receiving his sight, Bartimaeus follows Jesus down the road, but he’s giving thanks to G-d the Father. When we are called, touched, and healed by Jesus, there is nothing better we can do than follow Him, and as He’s always in the Father’s presence, there is nothing better we can do but glorify the Father for sending Him.

When we understand that Jesus came to deliver us physically and spiritually, our initial response is to keep Him in our sight, but as time passes and the healing remains, other things begin to fill thoughts and vision, and we stray from following Him back to the narrow gate.

Jesus tells us though, that when we are called out, touched, and healed, our light is to so shine before men, that they see it and glorify G-d. Luke adds that as Bartimaeus followed Christ, that’s exactly what happened. (Luke 18:42-43)

42 Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

In these tense times, as the prophecies of Christ manifest, increasing in frequency and intensity, we are called on now more than ever to live out the Gospel’s truth, and not our own (my truth, as the popular phrase goes).

Know that there are not many who will throw off their garment and come seeking, but we are not to be concerned with the numbers, only that we speak.

It will be Jesus who chooses who He reveals the Father to, and under which circumstances. The Holy Spirit awaits His command, but we are to plant seeds or reap the newly faithful.

In speaking the Gospel, we obey our Father’s will, and He will reward us openly if we do it in secret. It may well come to that.

Let’s not lose sight of Jesus.

Having received our spiritual sight, there’s no one else we need to walk with, and nothing of higher value than to dwell eternally in the Kingdom of G-d.

Therefore, I pray,

Lord Jesus,

As I go my way, I ask is that You watch over my life, and supplant my will with G-d’s. Don’t let my soul languish among whitened sepulchers.

I want to follow you and glorify God, rejoicing that I will dwell in His house forever with You.

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

Amen.