Devotional 208: Spiritual Grasshoppers

The Old Testament sets before us the examples of love, grace, mercy, and justice the Father has for us.

1 Samuel 17:10-11

10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

Numbers 13:32-33

32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 3There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7)

Throughout the Bible we see the Father working through the unlikely, the flawed, and the broken, as we are inherently sinful because the Tree of Knowledge was violated by disobedience. Therefore G-d is just in following through on the physical and spiritual rebuking we incur as a decision to go against Him.

Railing against His sovereignty to discipline His creation we would do well to remember that it is we who break the connection of fellowship with Him, and we are admonished to remedy the breech and seek Him while He may be found. (Isaiah 55:6)

Israel’s trials and redemptions serve as a macrocosm of our individual rebellion. We want to be in control, and set G-d aside for when we need Him, but the ‘problem’ is this: He is omnipotent, sovereign, and holy. He will not compromise with our sinful natures.

If we ever believed we’d never stray from G-d if He manifested Himself to us as He did to the Israelites, (Deut: 7:6) we’re only lying to ourselves. They were so easily prone to grumbling, sin, and backsliding that G-d asked Moses the following question:

11 Then the Lord said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? (Num: 14:41)

In turn, Moses asked G-d this:

15 If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now—if I have found favor in Your sight—and do not let me see my wretchedness!” (Num: 11:15)

As elaborate, long, and repetitious as it may seem, G-d’s presence among the Hebrews seems, the Old Testament sets before us the examples of love, mercy, grace, and finally, justice the Father is capable of showing.

Through the Apostle Paul, writing by the Holy Spirit, we are told the war between spirit and flesh is ongoing, and death is the only thing that can stop it. It will remain so for all generations of mankind, before the sinless Son comes to purge the Kingdom of all Satan’s works.

“The choices are simple. Living them ain’t easy.” (Find Him by Cassandra Wilson New Moon Daughter ℗ 1995 Blue Note Records)

“Nevertheless, because You have said…” (Luke 5:5)

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven

I would not test Your patience, provoke You to anger, or bear Your punishment, including the utter destruction of my very soul. It is the fate of the wicked and faithless, from which Your Son, in conveying Your love for me, has called me out of their company.

Today, and now, I thank You for sending Him to me, for He has counted me worthy to reveal the truth of Your Word to me, and seal me to Heaven by the power of the Holy Spirit, that I might glorify You in thought, word, and deed as I walk in His light back to You.

Forgive me, sovereign Father, and remember my sins, transgressions, iniquities, backsliding, and rebellion no more, through my faith in His redeeming blood on Calvary’s cross.

I choose to serve You, partaking of the covenant of grace and mercy extended to those who are not Your people. (1 Peter 2:10) (Hosea 2:23)

With the praises of a grateful heart, I bless Your holy Name.

Amen.

Devotional 207: Take Heed, All You People

1st Kings 22:13-23

13 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.”

14 But Micaiah said, “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.”

15 When he arrived, the king asked him, “Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or not?”

“Attack and be victorious,” he answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”

16 The king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?”

17 Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’”

18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”

19 Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’

“One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’

22 “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked.

“‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.

“‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’

23 “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”

Unholy things and people know when they’re in the presence of holiness. The witch of Endor rebuked King Saul (1 Sam 28: 9-12). The legion asked Jesus if he came to torment them (Luke 8:28)

So it was with Ahab and the prophet Micaiah, even though Ahab had already humbled himself before G-d in the presence of Elijah after the word he received (1 Kings 21:20-29)

Even as Micaiah did what Ahab’s messenger told him, Ahab knew it wasn’t the truth (1 Kings 22:16) because he knew through Elijah’s word that G-d’s prophets were holy men. It’s interesting to see that even after he asked for the truth, Ahab still allowed him to be punished for it when Zedekiah struck him, then mocked him (v. 24) much like the Romans did to Jesus (Luke 22: 64).

As this was done in the presence of witnesses, Micaiah tells all the people there to take heed of the true prophecy regarding Ahab’s fate.

We are told by Jesus himself that false prophets and teachers will be even more plentiful in the last days. John advises us to test to spirits to see if they are from G-d, that we might discern the lies of those who would presume to speak over own lives. (1 John 4:1)

Let us make sure we take heed in the presence of holiness, that we might learn the truth for ourselves despite all who’d tell us that which we’d rather hear. As some modern day preachers and self-appointed prophets, ‘apostles’, and others abandon the preaching of sin and repentance, the cross and resurrection, the giving of grace and the coming judgment when the one, true, sovereign G-d destroys evil and rids Creation of death for all eternity.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven

As sinners under grace, so prone to temptation, backsliding, and rebellion, You have sent prophets to us that we did not receive, or perceive at the time. We did not listen, even when they told us they received a word from You. We ignored them to our eternal peril.

We do not test their spirits because we don’t meditate on Your Word, or put our faith fully in You, and like the unholy we cry out and lash out at the rebuke we receive as a result.

There are trials we’ve endured that were of our own making because we listened to what we wanted to hear, and not what we needed.

Forgive me, Father, for the times I’ve ignored Your Son who told me what is to come if I continue down a sinful path, for it’s impossible to please You without faith, and to love You without keeping Your commandments, and obeying Your instructions as You order my steps to Your purpose, for Your glory.

Help me to know there are two things of which I can be assured, and the choice is mine: 1- My salvation is sealed by my faith in the cleansing blood of Jesus, and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit who guides me on the narrow path, that I might be free from sin.

2- You have given all judgment to the Son, whose verdict is not only just, but final. I would not have Him spew me out of His mouth with the words, “Depart from me. I never knew you.”

From this day on, I will take heed of the truth, whether or not in the presence of the assembly, for Your Spirit witnesses to mine, and gives me what is the Savior’s, who has given to us what is Yours, that I may be reconciled to You and my sins not only uncounted, but forgotten.

May Your Word be sealed to my mortal heart, that my eternal soul might dwell in Your Kingdom, now and forevermore.

Amen.

Devotional 206: Something Worse Will Happen

As long as we are mortal, we are sinful. Jesus heals us, but He also cautions us.

John 5: 8 – 14: A Man Healed at the Pool of Bethsaida

Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.

And that day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”

11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ ”

12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”

Mark 2:2-5 Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralytic

2 And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

How is it that a paralyzed man who can’t walk is a sinner? His ability to travel is comrpomised, and his body must be cared for.

How is that a man afflicted for thirty-eight years, who can’t walk down to a healing pool, is capable of sin?

Whom could they have caused harm that wouldn’t take revenge, given their physical limitations to defend themselves?

Jesus tells us that it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean: (Mark 7:17-21)

21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

We are also told that Jesus did not succumb to the praises of men because He knew what was in them: John 2:24-25

24 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, 25 and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

We have no way of knowing what sins these men may have committed. Perhaps it was enviable thoughts toward those who weren’t physically limited. Maybe quarrels and cursings with family. Maybe abandonment to drunkeness or anger.

What we can be sure of is this: if the Lord Jesus called them sinners, He knew they were. Should we not take Him at His word that we who wander freely, in full faculties of body and mind, are no less sinners than those abed, on crutches, in wheelchairs, or in some other way disabled?

We can also be assured of this: He is the Redeemer and Healer of all, and while some may be sick in body, all are sick in spirit and prone to the lusts and emotions of the flesh.

Let us be mindful then, to keep our hearts connected to our thoughts as we are reminded by King David: (Psalm 141:3-4)

3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not incline my heart to any evil thing,
To practice wicked works
With men who work iniquity;
And do not let me eat of their delicacies.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

We thank You again today for redeeming us to the Father at the cost of Your earthly life, feeling all that we feel, being tempted as we are, and proving worthy of being our salvation.

We are growing sick and tired, weary of doing good, fearful of spreading the Gospel, and falling away to the teachings of false prophets and pastors who corrupt the Father’s Word for political power and wealth, or dismiss it as fable so they can continue sinning, believing themselves worthy of Heaven, or satisfied with the oblivion and darkness of their graves.

Some have even embraced the conquered enemy You will purge for all eternity.

Gird us up to endure to the end, Lord, that we not be deceived when the false christs come, when the false prophets do great works and miraculous signs. At the cost of our mortal lives in persecution let us not renounce Your Name, or the Father’s love for us in sending You to replace us and take His wrath, that we might receive His mercy and enter His rest.

Today, we meditate on His goodness, and take stock of ourselves, repenting of our sins, lest something worse happens to us in addition to hearing the words we’ll never be able to bear: “Depart from me.”

We are made well in You, by You, and for You, to the Father’s glory. Let us receive it, and keep walking the narrow path.

Let the Holy Spirit seal us for the granting of eternal life, that we are spared the mark of the Beast to come.

In Your Name we ask, believing we’ve already received.

Amen.

Devotional 205: A Foolish Persistence

Our current world is becoming more self indulgent by the day, as in days past, and the Father’s wrath is indeed gathering once more. To persist in the way we’re going is foolishness, and will be punished accordingly.

Judgment on Persistent Unfaithfulness

Ezekiel 14:12-14

12 The word of the Lord came again to me, saying: 13 “Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. 14 Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord God.

In a nation whose imperfect, bloody founding was based on a concept of independence and freedom from tyranny, in the hearts, minds, and times of the founders it was already steeped in pride and hypocrisy.

Yet the Lord heard their prayers in despite their sins, and blessed the nation so that it might be a light to others in showing reconciliation and brotherhood, and for a while, as the Word took root here, He was given His due in the daily lives and routines of most.

Though they twisted His Word as the Pharisees did to justify their sins, praying was part of their daily routine. But then, as now, it seemed the Holy Spirit did not come to convict them of their wrongdoing.

Those they enslaved and abhorred came to know the Gospel of Christ despite the racist interpretations used and preached to them for all of the wrong reasons, as the Pharisees did to the nation of Israel.

So despite its terrifying beginning, modern America prospered and grew.

Today, it is no longer the case that G-d, in His true nature of including all who believe on His Son, is part of the fabric of everyday life. Indeed, He’s being daily relegated to the status of a byword, or some pagan representation of a vague source of power that doesn’t acknowledge sin, so benevolent is its nature.

His Word is not welcome, and His very existence inherent in the design of humanity and His universe is denied by those He created to worship Him for eternity. (Ps 14:1, Rom 1:20)

Now a nation of extremes, both perceived and actual, we have uncoupled the vainglorious attitudes of men now have no counter in the substance of the Father’s commandments:

  1. Love G-d with all your heart, soul, mind, and spirit,
  2. and Love your neighbor as yourself.

The issues with having a nation that has declared itself free and independent, full of rights with no responsibilities, is that the blessings it bestows on itself are only seen now as deserving by the groups that claim them.

If all lives matter, they can’t be selected if the will of the Father we claim to love, worship, and obey is that all should come to repentance and none perish. That is not the call to chaos it is made to seem, for He is still a G-d of order.

As fellowship occurred in the Book of Acts, the Apostles appointed those found to be of willing natures, intelligence, and integrity to see to the distribution of things that would meet the needs of those not able to fully participate, and in so doing freed themselves to the purpose to which they were called. (Acts 4:32-37)

We must rid ourselves of divisive labels: ‘socialism’ would be called loving kindness, ‘redistribution of wealth’ would be called sharing blessings with from the Lord with a joyful heart.

The Lord does not call us to give ourselves into poverty, starvation, and destitution, but to help relieve others from it if we are capable of doing so, for that is the Father’s will to do good that we might glorify Him, and to love justice and give mercy. The widow’s mites were noted by Jesus because she gave out of her own lack, so how much more our offerings from His blessings.

Stop hiding the sin of political power in His Name. He is the the all-mighty, and you are dust.

Stop hiding the sin of pride, immorality, and unbelief in idols and nothingness, for without His Name covering yours, the Book of Life is denied you, and hell waits to destroy your soul. Don’t point to others for your faithlessness; in the day of judgement, it will be you and Jesus, face to face, and no one else standing beside you.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

Forgive us the sin that when we meditate on Your Word to us in 2nd Chronicles 7:14, we do so not as an act of repentance and reconciliation to You and our brothers and sisters we’ve wronged, but for You to smite the nation in Your wrath, and to continue to prosper us in spite of our false pride, arrogant independence, and sense of entitlement that only this nation alone is to be blessed by Your hand, whether or not we believe on Your Son.

As You rebuked and admonished Your own chosen, telling them through the prophet that only three in all their history would be delivered from Your anger, we must now realize that if all nations are grafted into the covenant of grace, none will be spared for their faithlessness.

We are nation founded on genocide, bondage, and even child labor to serve the needs of the few, and in spite of being blessed through Your long-suffering grace, have refused to acknowledge in our independence and freedom, even from You, that the time of self-rule and governance has ended in failure, as all endeavors not rooted in You must. We’ve built the house of a great nation on sand, and no longer abide in the Vine, apart from whom we can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Men and women of selfish, petty, and fearful hearts have been voted in by people of the same.

So today, let the righteous prayers of the remnant, if they have found favor in Your sight, be counted worthy as Moses, Noah, and Job were in those days to stand in the gap and ask that the land be healed to proclaim Your glory to the faithless, that the Earth, and all that it contains, is Yours. (Psalm 24:1)

In the Name of Jesus we ask, believing we have received.

Amen.

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.