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 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.

Devotional 194: A G-d of Totality

Isaiah 49:6

Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth
.’ ”

Our Father is partial to us who believe in His Son. In nothing else does He show partiality. If we claim to love Him, we must fully commit to Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:36 – 38)

His wrath abides on all others, and He can’t, and won’t, compromise with sinners if He holds His Word higher than His Name.

He who created the whole universe, and the whole world, and had us replace His rebellious angels, one of whom was made to worship Him and named for light itself.

Like them, He gave us free will to obey Him, and love Him, and keep His commandments, but Adam and Eve were likewise easily deceived, and rebelled against His commandments at the prompting of the one who used to be light, but whose pride made him darkness.

And so we joined the rebellious, the sinful, the outcasts, and the hell-bound. Our wills superseded His, and our pride in our own achievements replaced the fact that our next breath comes from Him, in His mercy.

Yet He provided a way out, first for His chosen of Israel, then in His mercy, for the rest of us.

It’s written, “The Father has given all judgment to the Son.” (John 5:22)

It’s written, “All nations will be gathered before Him.” (Matthew 25:32)

It’s written, “All that the Father gives to me shall come to me, and he that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)

It’s written, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” (Psalm 24:1)

We would be wise to choose to be committed; we are not permitted to straddle spiritual fences. He knows we will weaken and fail, but we must get back up again, and restore our fellowship. In time, the sins may be different in one’s age than in one’s youth, but sin is ever constant.

Paul says it’s a battle we’ll fight to the grave. (Romans 8:5-39)

Let us then, today, even now, confess, repent, restore our fellowship with the One Name under Heaven by which we all shall be saved.

Therefore I pray,

King Jesus,

I give You thanks for your sacrifice on my behalf, that all of my sins are forgiven, and I’m spared from all the debt and wrath incurred by doing them.

Like Paul, I sin when I want to do right, and like Peter, I’m impulsive and backsliding and mocking. But also, like both of them, I feel safe and secure in Your hand when I repent, our fellowship is restored, and the enemy leaves me in Your peace.

My journey back to the Father is only completed by modeling my walk not after theirs, but Yours. I am not sinless, but the Father, in His wisdom, who deals with whole things, has given You as a light to my darkness. As one who is outside of His chosen, Your light shines the greater in my darkness.

I would live in such a way that the enemies of G-d dare not ask to sift me as wheat.

I open my ears and heart today to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, who You told us will give to us what is Yours, ignite our gifts and callings, convict of us of our sins, and guide us back to the Gospel’s truth. He does so that we may be redeemed and delivered from the light that became darkness of his own accord.

In this new year, and this new season, let me be whole.

Heal me of all affliction, physical and spiritual, that I may bear good fruit and be a light and a blessing, not a hiss and a byword.

In faith, I know that whatever challenges You allow to reach me, You will give me the weapons to fight and be victorious, for as Your child, I know that You, and You alone, are All-mighty G-d.

Help me to walk in faith and obedience, keep Your commandments, and do my Father’s will.

Amen.

Devotional 190: Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven

Matthew 5:1-10

The Beatitudes

5 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The result of earthly devotion to Christ is tagged on each end of His sermon by the same one: Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

As servants, we are given gifts and talents by the Master to use to His benefit while He is away from us. In the parable Jesus tells, some are gifted more than others, but all are gifted. The proper use of them brings increase, but not using them, indeed, hiding them, not only results in decrease, but in the Master’s wrath and the loss of position in His service.

Let’s be clear: G-d does not need our money (Haggai 2:8), nor our gifts, for He is the one who imparts them, and we call him Almighty for a reason.

He desires our gifts be put into service to help and bless, coming alongside fellow believers in ministry who are gifted in ways we are not, but all working toward the kingdom’s goals. As we use them, G-d will give the increase, and we will bear fruit for our faith as well as our labor and sacrifice.

The cost comes in trying to live by the spirit in a world of flesh and sin. Paul reminds us this will be a lifelong battle, dividing us within and affecting those around us (2 Cor: 3-11) as we are persecuted for speaking truth to the devil’s power, such as we give him over our lives. The pressure to be silence, and the spirits that work evil around us, can be such that like Paul, we also despair of life.

David, in a show of great strength, even prays for mercy toward his enemies who mock his faith in that they not be slain, just brought down and scattered. (Psalm 59:11)

fIs this a strength, an integrity of spirit, a fast holding to a teaching to love our enemies, that we can honestly say we possess? If struck for the Gospel, or worse, will we count ourselves worthy like Peter and the Apostles? (Acts 5)

Would we have it in us to rejoice for being persecuted in ways that hurt us, interrupted us, incapacitated us, for preaching the Gospel? Or would we renounce Him for comfort, hoping that He will forgive and know our hearts, knowing that He says if we don’t confess and proclaim Him before men, He will not do so before the Father?

As the tides of immorality and turning away from Christ’s teachings unfold around us, under the guises of tolerance and politics, masking sin as rights, freedoms, and patriotism, let more sober minds and holy tempers pray our officials take heed of the words of Zechariah (7:9 -10)

“Thus says the Lord of hosts:

‘Execute true justice,
Show mercy and compassion
Everyone to his brother.
10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless,
The alien or the poor.
Let none of you plan evil in his heart
Against his brother.’

He will turn a deaf ear to our cry of “God bless America” if we do not in turn bless Him as one nation truly under one G-d, while we yet have freedom to worship Him in spirit and truth.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

We are living in an empire unraveling, borne of sin, yet prospered and protected by Your hand, for the Father allowed it to flourish in spite of its evils, according to the His will and plan.

We honor You now with cold lips, hard hearts, and unrepentant prideful spirits that You are giving us license to act upon because we say Your Name to sanction that which we do of our own will, and not from a desire to live according to Your teaching, and to the Father’s glory.

Devotional 189: Remove Your Foot From Evil

Proverbs 4:

27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.

While the entire proverb warns us and addresses how to walk the Narrow Path to salvation, it is true that for most of us, all things considered, the length of earthly years can make it difficult, and we often find ourselves straddling two states of being: Spiritual and Carnal.

It is the line between corrupting flesh that fights the spirit seeking Christ’s salvation through grace. The Apostle Paul reminds us this is going to be a lifelong battle (Gal 5:17)

We would likely answer, “But Lord, we’re only human….”

The Lord would answer He remembers that (Psalm 103:14)

What is given to us to remember is that we are spiritual beings, souls that will be returning reconciled from sin, under the blood covenant of mercy and grace that we entered into with Jesus, who sealed it with His sacrifice by taking our place and punishment on Himself.

In that, the Son reminds us that we are beholden, and should fear He who is able to cast the soul as well as the body to be consumed in the void. (Matthew 10:28)

Our feet may straddle two worlds for a variety of reasons, such as an immediate way out of bad circumstances, monetary rewards based on your silence, sexual favors for advancing careers….etc.

In those moments, we can waver and compromise, even backslide, in our service like the sleeping disciples of Gethsemane. We can view it as when the Word says Satan left Jesus ‘until a more opportune time.’ (Luke 4:13)

Today, let us repent of the earthly sin that creates such opportune times for demonic spiritual conditions that bring us both drama and tragedy in the world, and rebukes from the Throne of Grace that will one day be the Throne of Judgment.

If we stand with Christ and fellow believers, keeping one foot in the world is a conscious choice we are making to choose curses over blessings, for there is no compromising with sin for our Father. He can’t look at it, and He will never forget it without the blood of His Son covering us.

Such is His heart toward us.

Let us remove our feet from evil, rededicate our hearts, guard our mouths, rethink our choices, and consider the motives of our actions as we return to the Narrow Path to follow the Good Shepherd, who possesses the only Name under heaven by which we can be salvaged, reconciled and blameless, to our Father as we dwell in the presence of His glory forever.

Therefore I pray:

Even now, Father, we may stand in sin before You as You turn away, waiting to hear our confessions, our pleas for Your mercy, help, and judge the sincerity of our hearts towards You.

Before men, You affirmed Your Son, once among a multitude when He was baptized, and once again in the midst of Moses and Elijah, in the presence of His closest disciples.

It is, indeed, good for us to be here with Him as well. Today, we open the door to his knock, and prepare our hearts to receive the Gospel, repenting for the Kingdom of Heaven at hand.

I repent of using grace for license, for procrastinating in blessing others when I have time and resources and means, for compromising in my service like an unprofitable servant. I would not be cast into the outer darkness, weeping. Today, I ask that You not blot my name from the Book of Life, and help me not to corrupt the seal of my sinful spirit to your Holy Spirit.

Today, O Lord, through the power and might of the Name of Jesus, I remove my foot from evil, and turn neither to the right nor left, not looking on wickedness and giving rein to deceitful, perverse lips.

Receive me once again into the fold of Your flock, Father, and deliver me from evil. I remove my foot, and set my face to once more follow Jesus, loving You and Him with all my heart, body, mind, and soul.

May Your words be sealed to my spirit, 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 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.