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 196: Examine and Return

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

Lamentations 3:40-41

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therfore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

Devotional 181: The High Places Not Torn Down

2 Kings 15:1-4 Azariah Reigns in Judah

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

2 Kings 18:4 Hezekiah Reigns in Judah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

Devotional 163: All That I Have is Yours

John 16:12-15

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”

Luke 15:28-31

28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.

John 8:34-36

34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

If you’ve the privilege of loving someone unconditionally, mutually, reciprocally, where trust and honesty are the foundations out of which that love springs, we can rest in our Savior’s promise that what He has told us has been given to Him as the will of the Father, to redeem our souls to Him, and that we shall inherit with our Lord and Brother a heavenly kingdom..

Grafted in as the sons and daughters of G-d among His chosen, we must remember that in order to inherit the glory, we shall not be made immune from suffering or the world’s troubles, but we have been called out of it to be witnesses to the Atonement of the Son that leads the way to Redemption, that we might live in the light of the Father’s presence, redeemed, spotless, and blameless under the Blood of Jesus.

Through faith we believe this, through prayer we seek the paths to walk, the strength to persevere when persecuted, the power to resist temptation and turning back, to have patience in keeping possession of our souls until the Harvest, and unwavering faith in His promises, which He tells us He’s received from the Father to convey to us.

As He has ascended to G-d’s right hand, the Holy Spirit now imparts to us that very same will. None of the words fall to the ground, none of the doctrine is changed, and mercy and grace are provided for the short term, but repentance and fleshly crucifixion of earthly desires are required for the long term.

It is a discipline, and a sacrifice, producing the spiritual fruits of righteousness and peace. (Hebrews 12:11)

We are the midst of prophetic times, seeing through spiritual eyes all that the Savior has said beginning to unfold.

Let us hold fast, and wrap ourselves in light as with a garment, as our Lord does when He comes to us. (Psalm 104:2)

Therefore I pray.

Lord Jesus,

In the days ahead, in the midst of the trials, we pray for our leaders, our neighbors, our families, and ourselves, that we might acquit ourselves of the spirits of fear, greed, and confusion, which have no part in You, and therefore should not in us. 

Forgive us, and grant us grace if we’ve forgotten, if we’ve fell into temptation to let the world infect us with them, and to let them hold sway over the Comforter You’ve sent to us from the Heaven. 

We repent, and return to that which we know to be true, that You are our Shepherd, and we shall not want. We hold fast to the promise of G-d, that whatever befalls us, our faith in You connects us to He who sent You. We need not walk in fear, but we do not set wisdom aside.

Your words are spirit and life, and we hide them in our hearts, even as we proclaim them from the rooftops, even now, in the midst of present trials. (John 6:63)

Let nothing take us from Your hands, Lord Jesus. We look to You for guidance, strength, and healing, as we pray the earthly leaders raised up in this time begin to look to You as well in all things.

We thank You for protecting our families and ourselves, for You have said the faithful shall be spared according to Your divine will.

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

Amen.

 

Devotional 143: The Price of Admission

Acts 14:21-27

Strengthening the Converts

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” 23 So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. 24 And after they had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. 25 Now when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed.

27 Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

There are times when even as believers, no matter how devout, we lose energy, direction, focus, and motivation to walk the narrow path as we follow and work alongside our Lord, but He has prophesied to us that the closer we walk, the further we travel, and the more we work, the harder it will be.

To share in His glory, the Word assures us we will share in His suffering. (John 15:18-20)

So, we have an unseen G-d, a foolish message, a man who claims to be the only way to be redeemed from eternal damnation, and the promise that the more faith we place in it, the world will hate us for it.

Yet we have this:

John 8:28-30

28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” 30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.

So today, let us measure the strength of our commitment, and continue to exhort and uplift each other in the days ahead. Tribulations are not small things, they are extended,  relentless, disastrous, and spirit crushing. The very origin of the word means a ‘pressing together.’

The Lord would have it so to refine us, to shake out those who are not truly committed, or who haven’t taken stock of the cost. (Matthew 24: 12) (John 2:19)

What’s to come is the reason we must not forsake meeting together, as the writer of Hebrews reminds us. (Heb 10:25)

The fight for our souls is real, and violent, taking place in a realm we can’t see except through divine intervention. It’s a realm we can’t know unless we are willing to seek it, believe in it, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way to be saved from the material world’s condemnation in the day of the Father’s wrath.

As salvation has been extended to all nations through grace (Acts 10:34-35), and the prince of this world corrupts weak people with foolish ambitions, people who don’t seem to realize that one day their lives will be required of them, and their plans come to nothing in the grave, evil people who press their will upon the powerless and turn them against each other using their fear as a weapon, he echoes through the ages all that he spoke to Eve in the garden: Did G-d indeed say…? (Gen 3: 1- 4)

So yes, we are to sow, water, and harvest, but it is the Father who provides the increase, and Christ tells us that it will be worse for the places that don’t receive His message in the last days.

Having been called out of the world, we are not to stay in such places physically or spiritually. Indeed, we are commanded to come out. (2 Cor  6:17)

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven, 

We are thankful that You have widened the circles of Your chosen, that we, appointed to eternal life, have seen the Truth in time for the harvest, and to take part in it, ministering Your Word through the message of Your Son, and through ourselves as His vessels.

There are times we are faithful, but not true, and times we are true, but not faithful. We have our moments, and You understand, but to to dwell in doubt is to backslide, turn away, and fall victim to the perils of this world.

Help us return to godly fear and repentance, restoring our fellowship with You as we seek salvation for ourselves and those we encounter throughout this life You’ve given us. 

May we be salt and light, and may our works stand and remain under the refining fires of judgement. 

May our spiritual fruit be sweet to the taste, and pleasing to You, for without Your Son, we are to be cast into outer darkness if He denies us before You, and says He does not know us.

When we stray, send our Nathan to us to warn us of what’s to come if we continue, send a messenger to say it is not lawful for us to have to give in to the desires of our flesh, and help us make no provision for it.

Let us instead abide under the loving gaze of our Savior, and answer His question: “Do you believe that I can do this?” with, “Yes, Lord.” (Matthew 9:28) and let us exhort and uplift each other along the way.

When the tribulations come, give us the strength of the voices of Paul and Silas, the power to bring down angels that open doors and break chains through praise, giving all glory and honor to You, Father.

We would endure to the end, holding onto the True Vine, following the Good Shepherd, and working in the peace of the Light of the World, under the protection of the blood of the Lamb of G-d, to be raised on the last day by the Lion of Judah, and hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant…”

We ask, in faith believing.

May it be done to us as You have said. 

Amen.

Devotional 85: Repentance and Remission

Luke 24:44-49

The Scriptures Opened

44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise[a] from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

We’ve met the unbeliever who tells us of the contradictions between the Old and New Testaments, but since they don’t have the Holy Spirit, to reveal the truth of the Word, they read it with no understanding and no guide; they are indeed reading a language that’s foreign to them, so they point to the Councils, to Rome, to the frailty of error-prone, sinful men, to colonizing races who created the Bible for purposes of control, and overall  dismiss it as another variation on international myths.

But under the Spirit’s guidance and prompting in writing this blog, I tend to connect verses that line up. It is not a matter of picking and choosing that which agrees with my subject, it is because the Word of the Father is consistent, and reinforces itself.

While we may not understand it all in some matters of G-d’s sovereignty (and yes, we are free to ask about it), if we need any more proof to know that agreement in what’s written across the years is Spirit led, He confirms it with His own words: The Law, Prophets, and Psalms all speak of His work here on earth.

It is now our work, and the churches of America have found themselves adrift because so many are not preaching the repentance and remission of sins, they’re making G-d into some kind of magic genie.

The Prayer of Jabez, written years ago, was being used like an enchanted talisman as the prosperity gospel gained a following; people increased their offerings so their material and financial blessings would increase as well.

G-d knows our hearts, and as He sees in the night the same as the noonday (Psalm 139:12) that is the reason our sins will find us out. There’s no such thing as a secret organization, and there will be no such thing as a hidden sin. We confess and repent (sin no more), and then forgiveness.

It is of those who don’t confess and repent that Jesus speaks of when He says,

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

While we have been chosen and called out of world, and while we are called to minister the Gospel,we are yet capable of sinning.

Remission is a return to an unaffected state, where we are free of the influences of sin.

Jesus tells us to take up our cross, and Paul tells us to crucify the flesh. This is so we remain in a state of spiritual purity in spite of being bound by earthly things. The covenant of grace is for the remission as we repent, but we are cautioned (Matthew 6:22-23)

22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

We cannot claim we follow Christ living worldly existences, but if all fall short, then all will attempt it, and all will fail. It’s just a matter of time and degree. We are blessed indeed to have a cloud of witnesses that encourage us to continue fighting  (Hebrews 12:1) and an Intercessor constantly before the Father on our behalf  (Luke 23:34)

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

If  our faith is as filthy rags before You on our best days, our effort to repent is likely worse. Crucifixion was a harsh, painful, bloody process, and with the exception of the Resurrection, a permanent condition.

It is not so with us, Lord. Our sins are constantly taken down and reused, even enjoyed, though the times in between may grow longer. Blessed are those whose hearts have been truly changed, and who follow the command to sin no more.

I have not guarded my heart, stilled my tongue, or made a covenant with my eyes. I ask for Your help to do these things,  but when I feel the tug of Your staff, or hear the still, small voice of the Spirit checking me, I pull away. I am a rebellious, tempestuous sheep who will not stay inside the fence of Your protection.

My purity is hopelessly soiled until I get on my knees and submit to Your cleansing hand, washing me in the holy blood of Your sacrifice until I once again am guiltless before the Almighty.

I thank You for new mercies, for endless grace, for long-suffering love, and for coming after me in spite of my sinful nature.

Today, O Lord, I ask that You receive me: I confess my sins to You, and I repent of all that I’ve done to grieve you in the year of G-d’s favor. I am sorry that I’ve broken fellowship. I’m sorry for the days when the Father is as abstract to me as the math of astronomers. It is knowledge too wonderful that I can’t attain, and therefore spurn.

I’m sorry when I’m as faithless as those to whom I’m supposed to minister, and they see no difference, for then I am denying You before men, and practicing lawlessness.

I beseech You, once again, that I not go on sinning so grace may abound, but I know that even today, if I fall, You will receive me again if I return.

Strengthen me, Lord, and restore me so that when I return, I may strengthen my brothers and sisters.

I ask it by the power in Your Name.

May it be done to me as You have said.

Amen.

Devotional 74: Rejoice in the Spirit

Jesus Rejoices in the Spirit (Luke 10:21-22)

21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 22 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

Part of the sovereignty of kingship is that the King gets to pick who belongs in the kingdom, and who doesn’t. I’ll admit that seeing this verse, particularly verse 22, gave me pause because in my youth, though I believed in G-d, I did not serve Him, and I wasn’t interested in following Christ.

After all, like so many others say, “I wasn’t hurting anyone.” But I wasn’t helping anyone, either. I was an unfruitful branch, dormant, empty, like the cursed fig tree when my Lord needed me to fulfill an earthly need. My life was undisciplined, spent doing what I wished, not planning for the future, and pretty much coasting and drifting with a jumbled set of ambitions, up to when I had my first child.

Fast-forward to my first day of Pentecost, when the Spirit opened my eyes to all that G-d was and meant to me on a new level, and all that He wanted to do for me and through me.

That brings me back to verse 22. Christ, in His mercy, sent the Spirit to reveal Himself to me, and through Him, reveal the Father. I was a basket case for a few hours, kept asking why, kept feeling His presence all through me. It was a glorious day I’ll never forget.

Fast forward again: No longer a husband, a father of adult children on their own, and I find myself again being able to do what I want, when I want, if I want.

I still don’t always stick to the path and do what I know,  yet again Christ in His mercy, through the Word, tells us this (Luke 9:23-26)

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 

Self-denial, aka ‘crucifying the flesh,’ is a requirement, not an option. Professing to be a follower when I’m not damages both our reputations, and I again become unfruitful.

Paul reminds us in Romans:

What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.

And the writer of Hebrews says this: (Hebrews 10:26-29

26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.[ And again, “The Lord will judge His people. 

Will we backslide? Of course. But we must repent as soon as we’re aware of it. It’s not something we should build up before we do. Again in Hebrews we read: (Hebrews 10:14-16)

14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

Hold Fast Your Confession

19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.

And lastly, the words of Christ:(Luke 9:26)

26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. 

If I don’t confess Him before men, I can’t evangelize effectively. More importantly, He will not confess me before the Father.

I, for one, don’t want to fall into the hands of the living G-d if I’m covered in sin.

Do you?

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus, 

Let today be a day of praise and thanksgiving for Your mercy toward us, for taking our mustard seed of faith and planting it with the promise of eternal life to come, in Your presence, as we worship the Father in Your Kingdom.

We thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who has revealed the Truth of the Father’s word to us, a word that He holds higher than His name, sending You to fulfill it so we are reconciled back to Him, spotless and blameless.

Bring to mind, Lord, that it is only through You we come to the Father, and only because You were willing to put our names into the Book of Life. We would not have them blotted out Lord, by foolishly making Your covenant with us a common thing, lest the Father’s wrath be on us in the day of the His vengeance on His enemies.

You tell us that no one can take us from Your hand, but let us also seek Your face, and know Your voice, holding fast to our confession of You in all that we say and do.

We thank You for redeeming us, for trusting us to do greater works in boldness, proclaiming the drawing near of Your kingdom. Help us to discern the times we live in, and know what to do. Help us not to go down when the enemy would call us from the work. 

And let us, like You, when our days here are done, be able to say: “It is finished,” and enter into Your joy in being with the Father also.

I ask in Your name, believing I’ve received.

Amen