Devotional 169: I Feared the People

1 Samuel 15:20-24

20 And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

22 So Samuel said:

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king.”

24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.

In the military there are chains of command that must be adhered to if there’s to be order in the camp. If one is to move up in the ranks apart from his peers, one must be prepared to take the criticism and be able to handle the one who will eventually rebel, either out of jealousy, pride, or genuine dislike.

In battle, those same qualities must be displayed if there is to be victory.

G-d placed on Saul a mission of genocide to be done with the Amalekites troubling Israel and being an unfruitful branch of His creation. Saul’s problem was the he loved the adoration of the people, and was unable to say ‘no’ to them even when he was commanded by the Lord to do something that involved standing against his own.

Christ himself warned us of such displays when He told the disciples to beware of doing good things and making an outward show of piety to receive the praises of men.

 “They have their reward.” (Matthew 6:1-2)

A look at any modern day trend of pop culture reflects the fickle shallowness of the human heart.

The politics of the day also reflect this trend: the voice of ‘the people’ based on all manner of things can cower a leader into fearful compromises that please the few but are not in the best interests of all, and as long as that continues to be the case, the figurative shepherd is being pastured by the flock.

We are commanded, then, to pray for our leaders, that they don’t succumb to this temptation. In that, however, we ourselves are tempted to pray for the leaders we agree with, that they might contend with the ones we don’t. That isn’t the solution.

G-d is not small, and if we pray in faith, we must ask for what would seem to be an impossible change in having our leaders work in their gifts, but be of one accord: to serve and make a difference for those under their leadership, to give respect and honor to each other, and glory for all good things to G-d.

The land needs healing, revival, and fellowship under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth and convicts us when we go astray and are tempted to backslide.

In these times, common ground is not only possible to find, but necessary. So is being of one accord. If we are obedient to do this, G-d will give the increase. (1 Corinthians 3: 1-10) 

Today, let us look for ways to start over, make an impact, and be the faithful but uncompromising servants of the Lord according to our callings.

Let us start from where we are and begin, not fearing the people, but our Father in Heaven, with reverence and holy obedience to do that which He has commanded of us: to love one another, as He loves us.

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven,

We consider it no small, light thing to be called by You to lead. Mankind’s Deliverer was Himself hated and despised for it, but endured all that was prophesied of Him so that we might be reconciled to You.

You are unrelenting regarding us walking in two worlds: to obey is better than sacrifice, we cannot serve You and money, and we are not to be lukewarm in our faith in Christ and the way of Your salvation, that we might be reconciled to You in the age to come.

But the voices of the people are many, loud, and shrill, and breath out murderous threats against those who would testify that their works are evil, and will not receive the truth in love.

We embrace the barriers and run to the spiritual strongholds that bind us as the prince of this world battles the Lord of the Universe. Give us fresh eyes, clean hearts, and right spirits to destroy those barriers. Let our works shine before men so they glorify You, and You only.

We would be fruitful harvesters, smart investors of our talents, and good servants that we might enter into our Father’s rest, the prodigal sons and daughters that are the works of Your hands.

Comfort us today, O G-d, that we are remembered in the Book of Life, and that we are to pray for our enemies, heaping coals on them.

Remind us to give, pray, and fast in secret, be angry and not sin against ourselves and each other as we rejoice openly with those who rejoice, and grieve with those who grieve.

We thank You, Father, in spite of our circumstances whether good or bad, for every good thing. We rest in Your promise of deliverance from the bad, and rescue from the evil sent to do us harm.

Placing our faith and love in the Son, we look to the hills for our help in this time, being still, knowing that You are G-d, and that we are well loved by You so that we need not fear, and we are not ashamed of the Gospel.

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

Amen.

 

 

 

Devotional 166: Uneducated and Untrained

Acts 4:13-17  The Name of Jesus Forbidden

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. 14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”

The Word of G-d is full of story after story about how the attempts at oppression, in all of its forms of ugliness, tries to keep the words of the Gospel, the Atonement, and the Resurrection from spreading,  but Jesus has already told us that His words will not pass away (Matthew 24:35) and that He speaks that which the Father has told Him to say (John 7:16).

Let us be reminded, particularly, of the story of Bartimaeus, who cried out all the more when the crowd tried to stop him. He was so loud that he actually got Jesus’ attention, and was healed on the spot. (Mark 10:46-52).

In this hour of wretchedness and disease, the human need to control things, combined with faithlessness and false worship, has stirred the hearts of men to frustration, fear, despair, anger, hate, defiance, and rebellion.

Their faith has been placed in those who haven’t the knowledge, skill, or motivation to seek wisdom in counsel to plan or lead. Their hearts are made weak and their minds fearful by agenda driven programming, and in the meantime the crisis at hand continues to exact its price among them.

Let those of us who claim to hold fast to faith now manifest it, let those of us who have heard and received the Word in faith now go forward and do the work it has called us to do, for we are told faith without works is dead. (James 2:14-26)

Let us be as the sower of seeds, in truth, boldness, and faith. For those who can, let us be in the makeshift pulpits of our surroundings, at our keyboards or on stage, and sow that into the fields to let the Holy Spirit bring to the Father those He has called out of the world.

For those who have no such training, ask G-d for boldness to be a light on a  hill where you are to those around you having restless, fearful, and angry spirits. Cry out all the more when they come against you, and having done all you can, stand in faith on the promises of the living G-d (Ephesians 6:13) Bring to mind, should you see yourself a grasshopper in your own eyes, these Apostles, uneducated and untrained, taught by a Rabbi who never studied, yet astounded them with His teaching.

It is He who will give you a mouth and wisdom (Luke 21:15)

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus, 

In this, the hour of our visitation, let us be stirred to be one of accord, rejoicing in faith and not fear that You have given us this opportunity to be sowers of the seed of Your salvation, that we might be reconciled to the Father before His restoration of all things in the new heaven and new earth.

Before the throne, we humbly ask to speak the Word with boldness before a wicked, adulterous, perverse generation that mocks, scorns, and falls away. Let us follow fast our Shepherd, that we will not be stand in the presence of the ungodly, scornful sinners. 

Today, we seek Your presence Lord, that we might fellowship with You in a time of refreshing. The path to the other side of a dark hour is emerging, but is not finished yet. 

We are but flesh, seeing what we want to see, hearing what we want to hear, believing what we want to believe, but You have told us the Father’s Word is truth. We are not only to hear it,  not only obey it, but manifest it in love among ourselves and to a dying world.

But we too, are sometimes frail of heart, timid of will, and shouted down. Help our unbelief, Lord, and strengthen us. Stretch out  Your hand to save us from the distractions and destroyers of our faith that allows us to step out and come to You in the midst of the storm.

It is good that we are uneducated, untrained, and unfruitful, so that when Your power is manifested through us, we can’t boast of our own strength and wisdom. Our legacies of ministry, however humble, however obscure, belong to You. They will be the only works that withstand the power of the testing fire in the day of judgement.

Until then, we abide here, witnessing the coming of a new age, watching Your prophecies begin to come to pass, and we pray that we are counted worthy to be profitable servants in whatever way You would have us share the message of salvation, that we might enter into our Father’s rest.

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

Amen.

 

 

Devotional 165: This Jesus…

Acts 2:32-36

32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

34 “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ’

36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.

He is Lord, Christ, Savior, Shepherd, Friend, Brother, Judge, and King of Kings.

He is Son of David, Son of G-d, Son of Man, Bread of Life, Living Water, and the True Vine.

He is the Lamb of G-d and the Lion of Judah.

Yet all of these titles and honorariums will pale in comparison to His coming in glory with His angels. Having been burdened with the sins of those who would strive to be saved and enter into eternal life, He will come again in glory to rid the heavens and earth of the G-d’s enemies in word, deed, heart, and thought.

When John, the encounters the Christ of his Revelations, he tells us that he, the disciple whom Jesus loved, who reclined against his chest at the Last Supper, who was charged from the cross with taking care of Mary after Jesus was gone, fell like a dead man at Christ’s feet. (Rev 1:17).

Gone was the physical, casual familiarity of the close fellowship between Master and disciple, this was an encounter between holy divinity and humanity, and humanity cannot, and never will, prevail in its presence.

This was King Jesus in transcendent glory, and John in his wretched, fragile mortality.

We speak and listen to the Lord through the medium of prayer, yet here Jesus still reached out to touch and reassure His beloved apostle. John says He reached out and placed His right hand on him, and told Him not to be afraid.

Often we discuss the blessing of His blood and the horror of the cross, but not the power of the resurrection and what it truly means for believers.

Jesus tells that when He comes again in glory with His angels, it will be a day of calamity and darkness, unexpected, and those who are the enemies of G-d will be weeping and hiding, or raging and defiant to the last.

Every hidden thing will be revealed, whether good or evil, (Luke 8:17)  every work tested by fire (1 Corinthians 3:13) , accounts of our lives given, accounts for our idle words spoken (Matthew 12:36-37) and thoughts and desires still rooted in the wanting to be in and of a hedonistic world, having faith with no works,  will be balanced by His divine and just judgment. (John 5:30)

We will enter into rest, or be cast into outer darkness.

Let us hear when He says to us to do the will of the Father, keep His commandments, stay faithful, possess our souls through patience, keep aligned with Him through repentance, and seek after life for the sake of the Gospel of redemption and reconciliation.

We can rest assured, as He tells us, that we all will rise to the everlasting life of the ones we chose to serve. (Matthew 25:46)

In this hour of our visitation, let’s prepare ourselves and do what must be done, that when we rise to the great shout of ‘Come forth!’, we enter with Him into eternal life.

Fast, pray, and repent, then plant, sow, and reap, right where we are, to whomever we can.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

Today let us become increasingly assured in faith that it is only through Your revelation of the Father to us, that we are called to dwell among His Chosen in Your eternal kingdom by the cleansing of our sins through the power of Your blood.

We repent of our backsliding, fear, doubt, and worry, for You tell us the Father is aware of what we need before we ask. (Matthew 6:8) Nevertheless, we approach the throne boldly as sons and daughters, but in reverent fear and humility in the presence of G-d’s holy glory imparted to You.

Today, we declare this Jesus is the only name under heaven by which we are saved. (Acts 4;12)

This Jesus will not out cast out those who come to Him with questions, feelings of unworthiness, in godly sorrow and moral wretchedness, with sin-stained hearts, enslaved minds, broken spirits, and burdened souls (John 6:37)

This Jesus will not give up on us if we sin, and will exhort us once again to choose and not compromise, for we aren’t allowed to walk in two worlds, but to be eternal fruitful and profitable kingdom servants giving light to a mortal, dark, and faithless world. (Rev 3:15-17)

This Jesus, who receives sinners, has our names written in the Book of Life, so let us lives that rise to the calling, that we may be salt and light, pointing others to the Father’s glory by following the path trod by the Son, and multiply the flock of His chosen through the works of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us.

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

Amen.

 

 

Devotional 164: The Time of Visitation

Luke 19:41-44

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Our Lord wept over Jersualem because of the relentless resistance, faithlessness, and rebuke of the religious leaders who relied on scholarly knowledge and loved the praises of man.

As we our now shut in, we see the pockets of resistance to something we’ve never encountered before that has hindered us, and in our earthly arrogance would think to throw off the chains it has placed around us.

In the midst of this, pastors are testing G-d, and some are even asking for donations of personal stimulus checks.

This could be the very hour Jesus comes to visit us not as the Lamb of G-d, but the Lion of Judah. We misread the signs of the times to our peril, and must be more discerning like the sons of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32)

It is time to be silent before the Lord, to be obedient and practice wisdom that protects ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. There will be a renewing of our souls as well as the land if we can stay obedient to the call of not moving ahead of G-d’s will; it will not ever be superseded by the will of man. (Zephaniah 1:7)

Let us use this time to spend with our Lord, and recognize this as a time of visitation from Him to reset ourselves, repent of our sins, renew our faith, and renew our commitment to the narrow path that leads to life everlasting, even as we mourn with those who mourn, and rejoice with those who rejoice, not becoming wise in our own opinion. (Romans 12:15-16)

Let us not have Jesus weep over our arrogance, keeping in mind His warning that not everyone who says to Him, “Lord…” will enter into Heaven’s rest with Him. (Matthew 7:21) 

As we cannot know the hour of His return, let us at least discern the hour of His visitation.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus, 

   The hard teachings have now come to the fore during hard times. As Your followers, disciples, missionaries, ministers, artists, and those to whom You have revealed the Father in order that we might serve the kingdom, we ask that You grant us discernment to come to You and see what You would have us do, how to use our gifts, to point the faithless to the Father as they see our good works, and perceive our love for them and for each other. 

   We would not have this hour pass us by in idleness and distractions. Keep our lamps pure and clear, that we set nothing wicked before our eyes, and let us walk uprightly in our homes. (Psalm 101:2-3)

    We rejoice in the days we are yet given, if not the circumstances we find ourselves in at this time. Let us continue to offer praise to You and the Father, seeking through the Holy Spirit to remain connected to the True Vine. 

    Don’t leave us or forsake us, Lord. Forgive us our backsliding and lapses of faith. We would keep our hands on the plow, and not look back, and not turn back, for then we will not be fit for the Kingdom of G-d. (Luke 9:62) 

    It is a dark hour across the world, and we ask that You reach down to us to keep us in Your presence, lifted above the things of the world that hates us. Like Peter, in this hour we cry out, “Lord, save me!” and acknowledge, as He also did, that You are the Son of G-d to whom all authority has been given by the Father.

    We bow our knees, confess with our tongues, and rededicate ourselves to You in service, obedient to the calls on our lives as You finish the work You began in us.

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

     Amen.

Devotional 162: Where Two or Three Gather…

Matthew 18:18-20

18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

19 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

If indeed, the Father has handed over all to the Son, who has proven Himself worthy on Calvary, in the times we cannot gather in unity to praise and worship in corporate fellowship, we can still yet gather, like vineyard clusters, and still have Him move among us.

If we hold by faith to the tenet that He is omnipresent, how then, especially now, can we neglect to ask for heavenly intercession to bind our earthly suffering?

We became for a long time a proud, indulgent nation full of self-righteousness and hatred for our brothers and sisters, enjoying mocking of the faithful, believing in the demon’s call to kill based on skin color and languages;  even now, our Asian brothers suffer slings and arrows, both verbal and physical, through the tongues and hands of ignorant people.

Let’s not neglect to pray for them, as well as each other.

Let us turn our eyes, thoughts, hearts, words, and deeds to Heaven, that we might bind up the suffering, give strength to the struggling, peace to the dying, and light to the spiritually blind, and when they finally look to the hills, let it be our light surrounding His that they see, that they might glorify G-d. (Matthew 5:16)

Let us take heart in the fact that our Father has already seen the fruits of the ending of this plague, and let us go about doing the work in faith, the former and the latter thing, for such work pleases Him, and makes us profitable to the Kingdom. (Matthew 23:23)

The end will come, both the end to this plague, and the end of all things.

We, His hands and feet, His tongue and heart, must remain steadfast in our service, and consistent in our beliefs, though the accuser throws the last of hell’s storehouses at all we hold dear, for there is an end to him and his kingdom as well. It will be renewed, cleansed, and purified by the light of the G-d Himself, for the earth is His, and everything in it. (Psalm 24:1)

Therefore I pray:

Father in Heaven, 

      We are afflicted, for You have allowed it to be so by Your sovereign will. Your creation suffers, and wonders, and grieves, and flares up in bursts of anger and fear, but Your Children, the grafted in and the chosen, are also in the world, and afflicted, for You have not spared them, calling them out of the world to rest and come home.

     We who remain cry out to You to bind the enemy’s workings, that we might be a healed land who once again acknowledges that the earth, and all in it, and the silver and gold, are Yours. 

     We plead the Blood of Jesus over the spiritual strongholds of hate and pride that grip this land in a gory fist of hellfire, that our wounds and diseases might be healed, our hearts burn within us with holy fire, and our eyes opened to the Truth, and Your promises to Your people, for You are not a man that You should lie.

     Reveal Your presence to the gathering clusters of believers who still seek Your face, and ask once more for mercy, grace, and love that we are not worthy to receive, but You still bestow upon us. 

     Forgive us for our pride, and thinking we have done all this in and of ourselves, not realizing that we even breathe but by Your will, until our appointed days are fulfilled. 

    Let us now run the race with an urgent joy, that we might see Your people saved, and once again humbly seek Your presence to start anew, and serve one another down to the least, who is the greatest in Your kingdom. (Matthew 23:11)

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

    Amen.

 

 

Devotional 159: In the Beginning

Genesis 1:1

The History of Creation

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

John 1:1

The Eternal Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

      We’ve been given the gift of life for an undetermined time, and in that time, we make our choices and mistakes, leave a legacy and inheritance, and return to G-d.

Our Lord and Savior tells us we shall rise to eternity, but where we spend it will be determined by how we spend our days. He alludes to the fact that it would be better in those days if we never heard Him than it is to ignore Him.

As we watch His prophecies unfold and our youth walk the roads of self-righteousness along the road to hell in the pride and licentiousness, we are to continue to cry out as voices in the wilderness, and live in such a way as to make an impact that points the sinners, onlookers and naysayers to G-d. (John 8:50 – 56)

Time and again we are given the opportunities to start over and become more like Him in the way we think about, serve, and treat others. (Matthew 23:11)

As we grow ripe for the harvest and faint in the battle, we aren’t to grow weary in doing good, and continue to set an earthly example of the Father’s will for all people of every nation.

Yet the air we breathe today reeks from words of hate, fear, anger, sadness, loneliness, and depression. Still we are to rejoice in faith and tell, and let people make their choices and the Holy Spirit do His work. It grows more imperative then, that we use these new beginnings to tell others of the new life to come under the new covenant of our Lord Jesus, who tells us of a new beginning that will have no end.

 Therefore I pray:

In these times, enemy grows strong, and instills pride in the spirits of the lost and confused. They gather in swarming mobs with voices that let us know that have already chosen, and will not be ruled by Your love. So today, Lord, we ask for a double portion of bold insistence to tell them Your words are spirit and life, and You are the truth and the singular Name under Heaven that all who call on it won’t be turned away.

You will also judge all according to their words, works, and motives of the heart.

Today, then, we have another chance for a new beginning.

Quicken our spirits to watch and pray, sow and reap, and give thanks and praise in all things, holding on to our faith.

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

Amen.

 

 

Devotional 156: The Hour is Coming

John 4:20-24

A Samaritan Woman Meets Her Messiah

20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

In His conversation with the Samaritan woman, Jesus tells her that she too, will worship the Father neither on the mountain or in the city, because when the hour comes for our redemption, we will all be in the presence of the Son at the judgment, and the purging of the Father’s enemies will begin.

As of this moment, this woman, whose people were the mortal enemies of the Jews of that time, is included in the gathering.

This, for her, is a personally confirming statement that aligns with what Jesus said about the Father calling those ‘His people’  who were not. That is, they are not of the Jews, but they believe in the Son, and His titles as Christ, Messiah, Son of G-d, and Son of Man. As the savior, judge, and king of the faithful, He tells us all the nations will be gathered before Him, and all will be judged by Him to eternity in the kingdom of G-d, and the outer darkness so many embrace.

The raging fires, warm ocean temperatures, poisoned soil, rise of immorality, rise of the occult, breakdown of family, greed of the wealthy,  the blurry concepts of gender and sexuality, the drug epidemic that continues to ravage generations, the neutralization of  the emphasis of men, all point us back to the prophecies of Paul (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

Jesus tells us to be discerning of the times. (Matthew 16:1-4)

What we must remember is that this Earth is under Satan’s dominion, given to him by Adam, (Matthew 4:9), and the Tribulation is yet to be. Of that, Jesus speaks to us here: (Matthew 24:1-31)

In the days ahead, in the decade to come, we must be diligent in our work, more focused on Christ than ever before and turning more to the Word of G-d as the worldly trappings of tech, luxury, the rise of AI, the proliferation of corruption and vice begins to unravel the fabric of this nation’s people and economy.

Christ tells them they already have their reward.

Let us be found as the servant who was doing his work when his master returned.

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

Today, we remain still in Your presence, receiving times of refreshing, that our joy may be renewed, our faith strengthened, and our souls sanctified and found worthy to stand before You unashamed.

Forgive us our doubts and lapses when we have grown weary in battle, and pour out Your grace on our misunderstanding of all that You came to do for us, and with us. Forgive us for confining You and the Father to our mortal, limited parameters, as beings of myth and imagination, as jinn who fulfill our wishes with no guidance or accountability on our part.

We ask that you intercede for us to the Father to prepare our hands for war, and for a boldness to finish the work for which You revealed the Father to us, and gave us the Holy Spirit to seal the new covenant of Your atoning blood that redeems us from the grave.

Help us to continually discern the signs that tell us this world is transitory, our journey is not yet complete, and our way is narrow on the holy path as we follow You.

Increase our faith, help our unbelief, and let our praise reflect our joy as we head for eternity with You as our King forever, in the light of the Father’s presence, holy and whole, in spirit and truth.

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

Amen.

 

 

Devotional 154: Having Never Studied

John 7:14-19

14 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. 15 And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?”

16 Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. 19 Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?”

The son of an obscure carpenter, poor, and from the bad side of town where the rabble lived, came Jesus sitting in the midst of the structure of power and influence among the Jews, teaching with such power and authority that the people who heard Him ‘marveled’ at His style, yet continued to place Him back in their own earthly boxes despite all the works He’d performed in their streets and temples.

Remember when He rebuked Nicodemus for his question, “How can these things be?” when He spoke to him of being born again. (John 3:7-10), and His rebuke of the Pharisees and how they taught the people of Israel (Matthew 23:15).

As a child even in the temple, when He sat in the midst of the rabbis they were also amazed at His understanding and answers (Luke 2:41-52). When He sent out the disciples, also unlearned men, He told them not to worry about what they would say. (Matthew 10:19), and in a wry twist of divine comedy, His most steadfast and learned disciple was once one of His fiercest opponents who not only repented, but planted international churches through tremendous victories and demonic opposition who went on to write most of the New Testament (Phillipians 3:1-7)

We join churches, follow pastors, radio preachers, and ministries where we find like-minded believers, but we are not to surrender the unique power the Holy Spirit, who was so graciously given to guide us into all truth. (John 16:13)

Being His disciples here in the modern day then, we must not be irresponsible and neglectful in reading G-d’s Word. It matters, the Word says, that we study and show ourselves approved (2 Timothy, 2:15). Though it’s primarily for Timothy stepping into his new role as a pastor Paul founded, it still resonates down to the ages that when we fail to ground and center ourselves in the foundation of all things related to our salvation, we surrender that power to others and become slaves to egos that fall into temptation, believing themselves to be the voice of a god and not of a man. Remember what befell Herod before the crowds issuing this deadly flattering phrase: ‘The voice of  a god and not of a man.’

We are to point others to the glory of G-d, not share it, and definitely don’t proclaim that we are human divinity, for though the kingdom of G-d is within us, it certainly doesn’t mean attempting to ascend to the Almighty’s throne.

What Jesus said of the disciples could also be true of us: (Matthew 11:24-26)

Jesus Gives True Rest

24 At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. 26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.

So yes, we may rest in His power, but we must also read, study, speak, and most importantly, live in such a way that we might have an answer for everyone who asks of us (1 Peter 3:15):

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus, 

    As Your enemies gather in strength, growing louder in opposition, and those who once sowed and plowed with You have turned back, proving not fit for the Kingdom of G-d, subtle and flashy in their deception among those who surrender the power of Your word to serpents and wolves in sheep’s clothing who lead astray, heedless of the greater condemnation to come, we pray that You gird us up to speak by faith in boldness.

    As Peter caved under the pressure of the moments that heralded Your death, denying You out of fear for his own life after vowing to be by Your side as others fled, we too, are subject to this frailty.

    We are untried, untested, and though You count us worthy as the Father has granted You to reveal Him to us, we count ourselves as unworthy because of all the earthly things we’ve done, denying You in the moment out of fear and a desire to see the results of our emotions manifesting themselves in our flesh, and in the lives of those around us.

    Forgive us, Lord, and once again grant us the grace of the New Covenant under Your blood to start anew, as we once again attest our love for You in godly sorrow and repentance. (John 21:15)

    As we begin this new year, strengthen us to increase our faith and be obedient to the calling we have under Your commission to preach the gospel to every man, and as St. Francis gently admonishes us, ‘If necessary, use words,’ in the time that remains to us.

    May it be done to us as You have said.

   Amen.

 

Devotional 149: Take Heed to Yourselves

Luke 21: 34 –

The Importance of Watching

34 But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

37 And in the daytime He was teaching in the temple, but at night He went out and stayed on the mountain called Olivet. 38 Then early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him.

As believers, we are to lean on the power of Christ’s divinity and sacrifice to be redeemed from sin into the Father’s kingdom, and while it comes with few outlying conditions or duties that we must perform, neither does it come without effort on our part.

After the redemptive truth of the Gospel is revealed and our fealty for Christ declared, we must then expend something to establish it, or as Jesus would say, to ‘settle it in our hearts.’ He told us we would have difficulty doing this, because the world hates Him for testifying that its work are evil (John 7:7) and as His followers, we are called to do the same, and are therefore targets of His enemies, both physical and spiritual.

We are also called to do more than our share  for we are unprofitable to Him if that’s all we do. (Luke 17:10) . The list is daunting: love one another, keep His commandments, give (not sell) to the poor, pray, repent, flee from sin, forgive, and glorify G-d in all we do, say, and think.

How do we accomplish this? By abiding in Him (John 15:5) and by taking heed to ourselves. There are so many pitfalls on the Narrow Path, that even as we follow Him, we are to keep watch over ourselves. This goes to the heart of our mortal pride. Remember the boast of Peter  (Matthew 26:33)  and what came of it.

As Oswald Chambers wrote: “Peter thought he knew where the test would come, and it did not come where he expected it.” (My Utmost for His Highest)

King David asked to set a guard over his mouth (Psalm 141:3) and his son advises us to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23), and so our Lord and Savior reinforces this to us.

Today, let us release that which concerns us and go to Him, because He’s told us that those who seek Him, He will not cast them out. It is up to us, however, to count the cost to follow, and to choose whom we will serve.

If we are to follow then, it is with the understanding that there will be no compromising for our backsliding, no looking the other way.  He will judge us before the throne of His grace, and the works not done for the Kingdom will be cast into the fire, quite possibly alongside us if we are found to be lacking.

Attaining the Kingdom, then, is not a drag-along prospect, but a willing, voluntary following to say to the Father, Son, and Spirit,

‘Yes and Amen. Our spirits align with Yours, and we would enter into our Father’s rest under the reign of the Son, and be filled eternally with the Holy Spirit.’

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus, 

       We rejoice today that You have sent us a comforter, one who reveals to us all the things that are of You and the Father, One in will and purpose, to redeem the souls of unprofitable servants who stumble, backslide, succumb to sin, and frequently need Your mercy and grace to continue on the Narrow Path to salvation. 

       We praise You for letting us know beforehand that we have been deemed worthy to hear Your shout on the last day, and be raised. (1 Thessalonians 4:16)

      We abide in You today, Lord, with repentant hearts and contrite spirits, that You may renew us, cleanse us, anoint us, and sing over us once again to restore our tiring spirits in this body that demands to go into the flames of condemnation. 

     Today, and as we abide in You, every day after, we set a guard over our hearts and mouths, we stay in the Word that will not pass away, and we love one another as You love us, edifying the Body, and doing more than our share as we are called to preach to every man, and keep watch.

Lord, we will take heed to ourselves, lest when we think we stand, we fall. (1 Cor 10:12) 

Let it be done to us as You have said.

Amen.

Devotional 147: I Will Give You a Mouth and Wisdom

Luke 21:10-19

10 Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. 13 But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. 14 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head shall be lost. 19 By your patience possess your souls.

Called to sow the seeds of the Gospel, we are now at the beginning of the end.
The body of Christ is bravely fighting against the powerful minions of hell. They are legion in number, strong in power, and all arond us not only in the places we live, but in our very homes.
The slings and arrows that come daily with being a family are compounded exponentially when the many attack the few proclaiming Jesus as the Christ.
As we can now minister to the world faster than ever before, reaching vast amounts of people globally in almost instantaneous contact, we now see the rise in persecution of our faith and the falling away of many as the message of Christ is obscured and replaced by modern day ‘alternatives’.
Let us be reminded of Jesus’ words that we are to endure to the end to be redeemed (Matthew 24:13)
The challenge comes when the proliferation of resistance to His message and our insistence on its validity begins to affect our finances, abilities, health, and families.
They become more intense as subgroup after subgroup that don’t align with G-d’s word are given free reign to go after believers in all walks of life.
Jesus tells us these attacks will increase in scope and depth, and we’ll be hated by all, but it will be: all to whom He did not reveal the Father, all who practice lawlessness, all who turn aside, all who walk away, all who will not hear, all who will not repent, all who won’t receive, all who will not seek, and all who will not come to Him.
In the midst of this this He says that as we proclaim Him as the only way, He will give us the words and wisdom to silence them, and perhaps turn them to G-d. This is the setting of tables for us in the presence of His enemies, and therefore ours.
Granted access to each other, we are to share what we have been given by the Lord with them.
The choice, upon hearing, is theirs to make, but whether we sow, plant, or water, it is ultimately the Father who gives the increase (1 Cor 3:6)
We need not fear others, but we are to arm ourselves with the knowledge of the Word. Peter tells us to always be ready to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15), but it is Jesus who tells us that He, being greater than Solomon, will give us what we should say, and to settle the matter in our hearts, and trust Him to deliver His message through us in such a way that no one can refute the words we speak, even as the Queen of Sheba ran out of hard questions for Solomon.
Have we settled it in our hearts? Can we? And if so, will we?

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus,

      There are times when the tales of Your daunting ministry to the lost of Israel inspire us to walk farther, but there are other times they overwhelm us with the sheer magnitude of it and the impact it created, as the qualities of our own ministries are to follow Your example.
      Were it not for grace, we wouldn’t be up to the task.
      Were it not for mercy, we’d be cast aside.
      For reasons we don’t always understand, You have found us worthy of revealing the Truth to us, and have called us to put our hands to the plow to begin the work of the Kingdom of G-d, ruled by Your iron will and loving hands.
      As we stand in the midst of those who do not love you, we settle in our hearts that You will do what You say, and that You are who You say.
      We are mindful that this life is preparation for the one to come, this evil world replaced by one of sinless virtue and purity, and we, as Your sheep and the Father’s children, will be forever holy and able to stand in His presence under Your hand and by the power of the Holy Spirit and Your redeeming blood.
      As You judge the nations and our work, let the lost we have ministered to for Your sake bear witness to the motives of our hearts towards them to bring them into the fold, that they too may live eternally to the glory of, and to glorify G-d.

May it be done to us as You have said.
Amen.