March 21, 2019

BIBLE READING: GALATIANS 1

1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

There was a great conflict in Paul’s day about genuine men that were called by God, and perverse prophets that were trying to profit from their preaching. Paul gave some things that differentiated him from the others. It is still the same things that differentiate the truly called men of God from those that are not.

NOTICE THE SOURCE OF HIS CALLING
First, we see that Paul was not called by men, or by any specific man. There was no organization that decided that Paul should be a preacher. Second, Paul was called by Jesus Christ. Third, Paul was called by God the Father. Now there is some debate by theologians about the last phrase in verse one. Some say that this is saying that God raised Paul from the dead. They believe that Paul died that day on the road to Damascus and God raised him up. Then, there are those who believe that that phrase is referring to God raising Jesus from the grave. I do know one thing, that God can do either, or, and all the above.

Why is it important that the source of Paul’s called to the ministry was God and not man? Because men change, but God doesn’t. Because men do not have the power to call, but God does. If one man lets you down, any man could let you down. God has never let anyone down. God has the power to perform the calling he has placed. The calling of God, the Bible says, is “without repentance”. He is called the apostle Paul. That word apostle means “ambassador, or messenger sent out“.

NOTICE THE STRENGTH OF HIS CALLING
If God has power to raise Jesus from the dead, and if God has the power to raise Paul if necessary, from the dead, God has power to raise us. Paul’s strength did not come from himself, it came from Jesus Christ. Remember, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”.

NOTICE THE SUBSTANCE OF HIS CALLING
GRACE: verse four says that Christ “gave himself for our sins”. Grace was the substance of Paul’s calling.
PEACE: the same verse says “that he may deliver us from this present evil world “.
There is no peace without Christ. As Paul was called by Jesus Christ, it was full of grace and peace. Dear friend you have been called of God today. Utilize God’s grace and God’s peace. It is what sets us apart.

March 20, 2019

BIBLE READING: HEBREWS 13

1 Let brotherly love continue.

Well, obviously there are so many different, wonderful, familiar passages that we could do a devotion on today from this chapter. I thought I would expound a little bit on the not so obvious.

“Brotherly love” here is the Greek word Philadelphia. I do not know how accurate it is to call the city Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. I think it would be hard for any city to call itself that. There is not much brotherly love in America today. The writer here is talking about the “love of the brethren”. This is the kind of love that we should have for every brother and sister in Christ. It is interesting to me in this first verse that the word “let” and the word “continue” are the same word. I believe it has been translated exactly as it is supposed to be. It has the thought process applied to it as the following: “continue making brotherly love continue”. In other words, you and I need to work very diligently at making sure that brotherly love does not stop.

Now, there are many things that can make this kind of love stop. Personality conflicts, preference conflicts, power struggle conflicts, and peculiarity conflicts to name a few. Having different backgrounds, having different types of education, coming from different cultures, being from different parts of the country, and traditional religious practices can cause numerous conflicts between brothers and sisters in Christ. We can feel differently about things medically, spiritually, biblically, socially, and of course politically. In our day and time, because of social networking, we have invited everybody to hear our opinions, see our interest, and magnify our differences. We are more in touch than ever before, and we have more conflict than we ever had before. In the middle of all that is the church. Brotherly love is not something that happens by accident or circumstance. Brotherly love is something that must be worked for. It takes sacrifice, humility, and submitting to each other for brotherly love to continue.

Pride is the enemy of brotherly love. Have you shown brotherly love to your brothers and sisters in Christ lately? I don’t just mean the ones that you enjoy, like, have common interest with, and agree with on numerous social, biblical, and political issues. I mean your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with you on things. God has given us a simple command as His children in this short verse. It is easy to understand, and yet very complicated to accomplish. However, God would not ask us to do it if he could not give us the ability, power, and patience to do so. As you go about your day, “let brotherly love continue”.

March 19, 2019

BIBLE READING: HEBREWS 12

5 …….My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

Some of my strongest memories of fear in my childhood were not tripping accidents, barking dogs, or public embarrassment. My greatest fears always involved knowing when my dad got home that I was going to get a spanking. We did not have “time out” at my house, we had “lights out”. LOL. It really used to inflict the fear of God upon me. There is nothing worse than knowing no matter what you do or how well you behave moving forward, there is a payment due for your actions. No one likes to be chastened. I can recall as a child thinking to myself that I would never spank my child if I became a parent. That sure has changed. I realize now that I love my children too much not to chasten them. If I didn’t care, I would not discipline. Deep down, a child knows that his parents care and love them when they consistently and compassionately chasten their children.

This passage says that we should not despise the chastening that the Lord performs on us when we have strayed, and it says that we should not “faint when thou art rebuked of Him”. Why would we faint?

1. BECAUSE IT HURTS
Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous:

2. BECAUSE IT CAN BE CONFUSING
Hebrews 12:3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
“In your minds”. There are times when we don’t agree that we are being chastened, and sometimes don’t fully understand why. We can begin to think God doesn’t love us, or that God is just angry with us, etc. Chastening can be confusing unless we see it for what it is. It’s a sign of God’s love and parenting.

3. BECAUSE IT CONFRONTS OUR PRIDE
Hebrews 12:1 Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
Chastening helps us to understand what sin, or “weight” needs to be eliminated from our lives. Those things that hinder the race that we are to run for the Lord. Our pride does not like being told that we’re wrong, but if you’re like me, I admit that I am wrong a lot.

4. BECAUSE IT REMINDS US WHO IS IN CHARGE
Hebrews 12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
“Rather be in subjection unto the Father”. It is a reminder to us to submit. You and I can fight against the chastening if we wish to, but we will only find out after a long, hard, needless struggle that God’s in charge and we are not. If God may be chastening you right now, a little piece of advice, go ahead and submit to Him and get things right with Him. Because “afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby“.

March 18, 2019

BIBLE READING: HEBREWS 11

Hebrews 11:23-29
23. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.
24. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
25. Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26. Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt:for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
27. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king:for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
28. Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
29. By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land:which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

Many of you would know this chapter as what we call the “hall of faith”. There is listed many individuals and the faith that pleased God in their lives. None of these people were perfect, but God appreciates and honors faith in a person’s life. As we are told about the faith of Moses, as much information is given about his life in this chapter as anyone else. Notice the complete snapshot of his life, and the faith he displayed all along the way:

1. Through a “perilous beginning”, Moses was protected from an evil adversary (23)
2. Through a “prosperous upbringing” as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, by faith Moses kept himself centered despite the laziness that prosperity often brings. (24)
3. Through “pleasurable opportunities” that Moses no doubt had access to, the faith of Moses kept him willing to suffer affliction rather than enjoy those pleasures temporarily. (25)
4. Despite “promised persecutions” for choosing Christ over comfort, the faith of Moses considered that greater wealth, than great wealth. (26)
5. Through faith, Moses did not fear a “powerful pharaoh”, because Moses was able to see a greater authority that no one else could see. (27)
6. Through the tragedy of the “Passover”, Moses taught the people faith, and to trust God, thus protecting their firstborn.
7. Finally, through the “parting of the Red Sea”, the faith of Moses trusted God to make a way of escape through the pressing walls of water across that sea. The very water that drowned his enemies within moments.

Yes, a lot happened to Moses, but when you have faith every step of the way, God can do some miraculous things. May we live “by faith” today.

March 15, 2019

BIBLE READING: HEBREWS 10

10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

* Hebrews 9:25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

“We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ”. Just so we’re clear, nobody took the life of Jesus. Jesus gave it. Jesus “offered” Himself. That means He literally made an offering out of His own body. He did that willingly out of love and mercy for us. The picture presented all through Hebrews is the fact that as man brought sacrifices to an earthly priest for forgiveness of sin, Jesus became our high priest, and He became the sacrifice. That means He became everything that we needed. Notice in these verses something interesting.

* Notice the words used here when speaking of earthly priest: “daily”, “oftentimes”, “same sacrifices”, “can never take away sins”.
* Notice the words used when speaking of Jesus as our High Priest: “once for all”, “one sacrifice”, “forever”, “one offering”, “He hath perfected forever”.

Pretty different aren’t they. I just think it would do us good today, to recall the amazing, and undeserved work that Jesus did on the cross for us. Look one more time at this verse from the previous chapter:

* Hebrews 9:25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; 26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

March 14, 2019

BIBLE READING: HEBREWS 9

22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

Blood had to be shed. That is just the way it was. Of course for years, there had to be a lamb purchased and then brought to the priest to be sacrificed. That means that really it was a sacrifice of finances, a sacrifice of time, a sacrifice of the law, and a sacrifice of tradition. But it had to be a sacrifice of blood. Even then, according to verse 22, there were still some things that would not be forgiven with the animal blood sacrifice. It says “almost all things” were forgiven by law. So our passage says “it was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these”. That was just the way it was.

However, when it came to a permanent sacrifice for sin, “the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these”. A sacrifice was needed that would cover “all” things “forever”. So it would take a “better sacrifice then these”. As a priest would enter into that part of the tabernacle called the holy of holy‘s, he would enter a room that had been built by man, and he would offer a sacrifice that had been paid for by man. But when Jesus died for our sins, He entered a holy place that was not made by hands. And Jesus offered a sacrifice that was not paid for by man. It was all about Christ. You see, the priest and the tabernacle were symbols of the truth, but Jesus Christ was truth. They were “figures of the true”, but Jesus was the real thing.

After a priest had finished his work, he would leave the “holy places” and come back to the other part of the tabernacle. But when Jesus, our high priest, finished His work, He entered “into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:”. That means Jesus is still there, and He is still there on our behalf. He is there “for us”. Jesus came to save “all men“, and to forgive from “all sin“. Blood had to be shed, but when Jesus shed His blood, that was the last time.