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Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well.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 199: Known to G-d

Acts 15:18 18 

“Known to God from eternity are all His works.

Genesis 22: 38

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

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

And he said, “Here I am, my son.”

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

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

Psalm 65: 1-3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get to know Him, for He knows you.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Depart from Me. I never knew you.

Devotional 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 192: The Kingdom of Heaven at Hand

Matthew 3:2 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

Matthew 4:17 17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

First came John, the Nazarene hermit, who leapt for joy in his mother’s womb in the presence of the Promised One. As he began to fulfill his purpose, he warned of the wrath to come for the unbelieving as well as the unrepentant, and he let them know the time was close. He told them what needed to be done, there would be no compromise, and the consequences of remaining irreconciled.

As Jesus grew and found favor with His Father, and among men, astounding the rabbis in His youth and preaching a different message in a different style from the religious leaders of His say, he was no less emphatic in stating what needed to be done, that there would be no compromise, and the consequences for remaining irreconciled.

Today we see the Lord’s prophecies unfolding on the world stage, and indeed, many of us are taking part in it whether we want to believe it or not. Reading about the end times was interesting, but seeing it come to pass is frightening.

We are watching humanity try, as the Pharisees did, to ascribe spiritual conditions to earthly things. Wealth makes you important, certain politics give a moral high ground, and the faithless and unrepentant take pride in their intelligence and mock the Pharisees of our day as hypocrites, yet don’t seek G-d for themselves.

Their first mistake and most fatal mistake is that they keep describing Him as an ‘invisible man in the sky.’ We are doomed to failure by making G-d in our image, and even some in the church use this description as the messages they preach lessen the emphasis on sin and repentance as the way to inheriting the Kingdom.

Jesus tells us G-d is Spirit. (John 4:24)

The OT tells us G-d is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. He keeps the Word He’s spoken to us. (Numbers 23:19)

This is the time of division the Lord spoke of bringing, where members of the same house will be against one another. Repent, that you might inherit the kingdom at hand.

These times are the heralding of times to come, where two will be working side by side, and one will be taken and the other left. Repent, that you might inherit the kingdom at hand.

We, as believers, will not share exclusively in Kingdom glory without the suffering through our own persecutions the power of His Name brings to bear on our lives. Are we truly willing to die for our faith? Are we committed to abiding in Him, that we might remain fruitful and spotless, reconciled to G-d without fear?

These and whatever such questions apply to your lives, begin to search yourselves and ask them, then repent of your sins.

The kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

Through the power of your blood I am blameless before the Father, yet here on the earth, the temptations come, and sometimes I yield in frustration. I have given in to feelings of anger, loneliness, and doubt, and tempted in the moment, I backslid.

Yet the Father still entreats me to return, and sends You to look for me as the father did his prodigal, and you embrace me, admonish me, and forgive me.

But help me to keep in mind that the Father is long suffering, but not eternally so. He is sending You again to purge the Kingdom of Heaven of all of His enemies, without remedy.

There will be no vestige of sin, no matter how secret, even if the size of a mustard seed, visible to His eyes. I thank You, Lord, for Your willingness to redeem me, for having the Father reveal You to me, for calling me out of the world to do His will to His glory, even as I honor You with the quality of my service.

Remind me that the ten-talent servant worked much harder than the one talent, who didn’t work at all, and was deemed unprofitable in his master’s eyes and cast out.

Strengthen me, and send the Holy Spirit to grant me discernment that the Kingdom of Heaven is near my hand, but I must set out and follow the signs to attain it, enduring to the end of my race, that I might be saved.

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

Amen.

Devotional 191: Lovers of This World

The Abandoned Apostle

Be diligent to come to me quickly; 10 for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.

Demas, like the disciples of Jesus, saw Paul do hard teaching, with hard concepts for the hedonistic, polytheistic people he ministered to understand. And he made a tragic, fatal decision to backslide, indeed, desert, the teachings of Jesus under the covenant of grace, casting his lot with the world.

Those of the flock that abandons the leadership of the Good Shepherd and his hand-picked ministers (and Paul was definitely hand-picked) are prone to attack, to theft, and to death.

Doubtless the persecution Paul suffered and the constant threat of death helped Demas decide he had no heart to persist in Kingdom mission work, and wasn’t willing to give his life for it. He traded his eternal soul for worldly trinkets and counterfeit comfort.

As Jesus tells us no one who undertakes the work and turns back is fit for Kingdom service. (Luke 9:62)

They cut themselves off from the promises of an unchanging, faithful Father to take comfort in the lies of a would-be usurper who will cull the souls of the gullible, skeptical, and unrepentant.

One is well reminded that the prince of this world, as powerful as he may be, is still subject to the almighty King of the universe, maker of Heaven and Earth, the seen and the unseen. In this, we are advised by our Lord not to fellowship with darkness.

John 14 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.

But he does in the rest of us, in matters of degree, in aspects of our lives where we don’t realize he’s operating. It is only through faith in Christ our enemies’ weapons will not prosper, and our sinful souls and corrupt flesh restored and reconciled to enter into our Father’s rest forever.

In pursuing this, we are admonished to love our Father with all of our being, and fear His power to cast soul and body into hell. (Matthew 10:28)

Much like the multitudes followed Jesus at first only because He healed them, the modern multitudes fill the churches when disaster strikes, but they quickly leave when the floodwaters recede and the wildfires are put out. They treat Heaven as an earthly safety net, and not as their eventual fate.

They will know nothing of living on the new Earth in the light of G-d’s glory. (Rev 21:1)

But G-d will not be mocked, and His eyes are open to their motives; it is to their eternal peril, and not by His glory and honor, that they shall be judged. The covenant of grace is not a safety net for the faithless, and there will be no salvation for the followers of Demas back into the groaning, waiting world.

Choose, this day, whom you will serve. (Joshua 24:15)

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus

It is to You the Father has given all things (John 5:22), including the Throne of Judgment, for You have proven worthy to the Book of Life, to call your faithful out of the world once more (John 15:19), call us to repentance and obedience, that we might not be cast out into the unquenchable fire, feasted on by the immortal worm.

I confess, Lord Jesus, the times I have been tempted to follow Demas and renounce the promise of grace through Your sacrifice on Calvary, giving Your last moments to give that grace to repentant thief and to pray forgiveness for Your persecutors.

In those times, help my unbelief and strengthen me to do likewise, for I know that to love my enemies and pray for them is not in me, not in my own strength, and not in my own will. Nor is it in me to walk the extra mile, and turn my cheek.
I know what You say to do, but it is a command I find myself unwilling to obey. It is, as those who turned back from You said, a hard teaching.

Give my prayers the power then to help me do the Father’s will, in fellowship with the power of the Holy Spirit, to love my neighbor as myself.

In the midst of the world’s clamoring for my attention, give me discernment to hear Your voice, and to follow You back through the windblown crowds chasing all manner of false doctrine. Let me turn my back to the backsliders, and yield to You so that I return in joy to the safety of Your unyielding hands.

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

Amen.

Devotional 186: He Is Not Here

Matthew 28:6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

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

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

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

We pray for them, as You prayed for us.

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

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

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

Amen.