Category Archives: Devotionals

What Does God Want?

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
(Romans 1:1)

The Apostle Paul starts his letter to the church in Rome with some very telling statements about himself. If we are careful to consider what he says in just this short introduction we can hear what it is that God is looking for in us.

First of all, Paul was a servant. The word he uses there actually means ‘slave’ and it describes an utter and complete devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the general calling that comes to every person who would seek to know God, he or she must come willingly to Christ and lay everything at His feet, every ambition, every desire, self-will, self-ego, they must all be given to Him in devotion.

When the Apostle Paul was converted on the Damascus Road he saw a supernatural revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, his first words were, “who are you, Lord?”. When Jesus told him who He was his next words were those of complete devotion, they were, “what shall I do?”.  There was no care for himself here, he had a revelation of the Lord of Glory and he responded with a question that sought to know what would please God and fulfill His purpose. Too often today we have that backwards in the church. Too often it is about what we can get from God, how He can fill our needs. God is looking for men who will seek His desires and purpose first. He is looking for bond-servants, those who willingly surrender all rights to self-realization and desire that God’s purposes be realized because they’ve had a glimpse of the love of God in Christ Jesus.

The result of such willing surrender on our part is that God can then give a man a special calling. In Paul’s case it was the office of Apostle. Then came also a specific calling, Paul was set apart for the gospel. He became a spiritual father to multitudes through the revelation of the gospel he received from Christ and wrote to the churches, which writings now make up a large part of the New Testament in our Bibles. God’s desires and purposes were indeed realized and we are greatly blessed as a result.

Through one life surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ the world has forever been changed. God is no respecter of persons, He can do the same through you if you will give Him the reigns to your life. Isn’t the Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world worthy of our willing surrender, doesn’t He deserve that?

Crucified With Christ

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

There is a lot of preaching these days about the cross and how Jesus’ death is the foundation of our salvation, and that is good. But much less is preached about our death with Christ. The subject is a deep and difficult one but one that must be considered carefully. It is my desire to help you consider this truth that death to self and the world is needed for a life in the love and joy of Christ. Four times in the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life the following words are recorded, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” We know that when something is repeated multiple times in the Bible it is done to place special emphasis on that truth. In other words it is God’s way of saying that we should pay very close attention.

We must ask God for a willing heart to embrace this crucified life and please know that the answer will bring difficulty in your life because to be crucified with Christ means death to an old way of living and thinking and those old ways die hard. But the answer will also bring peace and joy beyond imagination as Christ truly lives in you and your life brings glory to God.

When it comes to believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, our heart is ready to say, “yes, I believe.” But when it comes to the point of believing that what Christ has promised us regarding the power of the resurrection life is true of His abiding presence every day and all the day—we do not find it so easy to declare, “I do believe.” It seems to be too much to venture. And yet it is just this faith for which Christ asks and which He is waiting to work within us. Let us not rest until we have bowed before Him and said, “Yea, Lord, I do believe.”

Take the time to read over the verse quoted above from Galatians again and remember that spiritual truth is not easy to grasp but experience has taught me that to take God’s word into the heart and meditate on it and pray on it helps me to understand the truth more and more. And remember that only by the continual teaching of the Holy Spirit in your heart will you be able to grasp spiritual truth. It is His work to reveal Christ, the Crucified One, in our hearts and lives.

Let this be your main goal in devotion; complete dependence on God and an expectancy that He will continually work in you through the Holy Spirit to conform you to Christ until you can say with Paul, “I am crucified with Christ…but Christ liveth in me.”

A Great and Terrible Day

Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations.   (Joel 2:1-2)

These verses declare a great and terrible day is coming and that the alarm should be sounded and everyone should know about it. This passage of Scripture, in its context, was written to the nation of Israel and it declared God’s contention with His own professing people for their sins and it executes upon them the judgment that was written in the law. The general idea is one of a great day of battle.

This passage of Scripture also pictures a coming day in which the Lord comes in righteous judgment, His wrath is fierce, in holiness He will set things right. He will not strive with men forever but will put an end to iniquity and sins. No one can escape the day of God’s judgment.

But in this passage we see also a merciful call to repentance, O thank you Lord! With all our hearts we shall turn back to God, with fasting, with tears, earnestly and honestly humbling ourselves before Him.

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God? (Joel 2:12-14)

We see in this chapter that deliverance follows repentance, God will do great things(v.21). God rebukes the very army of invaders that he allowed to come and devour the land and people. There will come turmoil and difficulty before the great and terrible day of the Lord. And all who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. A remnant shall return, God will do great things!.

I believe we live in an hour such as Israel lived when Joel wrote his prophecy. Just like then,  it is again a time to blow the trumpet and humble ourselves, a time to gather together young and old and let all other interests be set aside and cry out to the Lord. He will be jealous for His land and pity His people. God is near to those of a broken heart and a contrite spirit (Psalm 34:18). He revives the humble and contrite ones (Isaiah 57:15).

Hope in the Midst of Devastation

The word of the LORD that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel: Hear this, you elders; give ear, all inhabitants of the land! Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers? Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation. What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten. Awake, you drunkards, and weep, and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine, for it is cut off from your mouth. For a nation has come up against my land, powerful and beyond number; its teeth are lions’ teeth, and it has the fangs of a lioness. (Joel 1:1-6)

What devastation is described here? Famine and pestilence have come upon the nation of Israel. Devouring insects have eaten up their crops. Drunkenness and stupor have overcome the people. A great enemy has taken away the fruit of the vine. The service of God’s house is forgotten. The farmers are ashamed because there is no harvest. Joy has departed, God’s presence has departed. (v. 16)

These verses not only describe ancient Israel but they describe the state of much of Christianity today. What can be done for such a dire situation? A people must be gathered together to seek the Lord in repentance and faith; Cry out to God for mercy!  “Oh Lord, to Thee will I cry” (v.19).

The meat offering and the drink offering are cut off from the house of God, joy and gladness are gone. The meat-offering, which was bread, signifies the good of love, and the drink-offering, which was wine, signifies the good of faith. Love and faith are quickly disappearing and there is no reverence for God even in His own house.

The house of God is languishing, the place of His glory is fading. But God will build His Church according to His purpose, He will glorify the name of Jesus Christ again in our generation, He will build His house again and the offering of God’s people will flow freely. Let us now lay aside our purposes and seek for His to be fulfilled in this evil time.

The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel 3:16)

The enemy did think to scatter and devour God’s people but it is they who will be consumed. A recompense of righteousness will come, fear not neither be dismayed, the Lord fights for you O Church!

 

I Will Not Leave You as Orphans

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
(John 14:15-18)

In the verses above Jesus began to declare to His disciples that He was going to be returning to the Father soon. Jesus, the Son of God and God the Son, became a man for a short while to complete a very specific task, that of revealing the character of the Heavenly Father and of redeeming all of mankind from the curse of sin. Jesus was about to finish that work which he had to do and His disciples really didn’t understand all that was about to happen. They only knew that they didn’t want Jesus to leave them.

Jesus makes a very precious promise here to His disciples, the promise that He would not be leaving them as orphans. Here was the promise that He would come to them, through the Holy Spirit dwelling within them.  When Jesus was in His physical body he could only be in one place at a time. But the Holy Spirit has a worldwide ministry because He is omnipresent. Jesus came to accomplish a work and then leave. But the Holy Spirit abides forever and ever. The disciples life with Jesus was one of following and faltering. Their life with the Holy Spirit within was completely transformed (read the book of Acts), boldly declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the same place where Jesus had been crucified only months before.

The blessed Holy Spirit has been given to those who obey God, He is a trusted Guide, a beloved Comforter, and a mighty Power. It is no wonder that Jesus said it was to our advantage that He would go away and the Holy Spirit would come. And when the Spirit comes he brings believers into the truth and He brings conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment to the world. The whole basis of the Holy Spirit’s ministry is the work and Person of Jesus Christ. He brings the life of Christ to the believer, and the conviction of the great need for Christ to the unbeliever. What an incredible privilege it is for us today to live in this dispensation of the Holy Spirit. I would like to challenge you to ponder this wonderful gift we’ve been given and seek God with all your heart to enter into the fullness of all He has provided through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer and Temptation

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:21)

Pray without ceasing. (1Thessalonians 5:17)

…whoever calls on the name of the Lord. We normally think of this when a person first becomes saved but it also applies to the daily life of being sanctified and cleansed from the power of sin. Temptations come at all times, life is lived always in a context of storms. Even when things are going well there are still many temptations. As Christians we are born into a world of trials and temptations. We need to pray at all times therefore. We need to pray without ceasing because we are with trials without ceasing.

God warned Israel not to forget Him when they were settled into the land and had plenty. (Deut 6:10-12) So we need to cultivate this life of prayer at all times and not just when a crisis comes.

1) Prayer begins with intimacy, we come to Him not just in times of trial but just because we want to be with Him. Same thing with reading the Bible. This is what it means to call on the name of the Lord. This results in being…

2) Conformed to his character. We don’t just say the name of Jesus like it’s a magic phrase, praying in the name of Jesus means praying according to His character and will. John 14:13-15 – that the Father might be glorified. 1John 3:2 – fully conformed.

Now the great lie of the enemy will be that if you aren’t fully conformed to His image you should just stay away. The Bible is exactly the opposite, we are to come into His presence with brokenness and thanksgiving. If you choose to trust God even though you are going through great temptations, God will save.

Don’t let Satan lie to you that you must first get it right before you come to God. Don’t elevate your faults over the cross. Don’t make a bunch of promises that you’ll do better but trust in His promises, appropriate them. This leads to…

3) The fear of the Lord. This is to be afraid of hurting Him not being afraid of Him hurting us. We don’t have to come to Him with a bunch of promises that we’ll do better. Exodus 34:5-7

God is merciful and He is our defender. Brokenness is good, godly repentance is good, but let it bring you to Him and to rejoice in His embrace, there will be strength over temptation. Temptations will always be there but victory is in Him.

 

Come Unto Me

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
(Matthew 11:28-30)

“Come unto Me”, we find in these words of Jesus the answer to the questions that really matter in life. It is remarkable that He does NOT say, “do this” or “do that”, but rather He simply says, “come unto Me.” If a person really wants to stop sinning and let the song of the Lord begin, there is only one answer, “come unto Me.” Personal contact with the Lord Jesus Christ changes everything.

The person who “comes” to Jesus is one who deliberately lets go of everything else and commits all to the Lord. Jesus gives rest to the one who comes in this way. He promises to be with them at all times through the Holy Spirit whom He gives to His children who obey the call to come.

If you don’t have rest in your heart today you must not ignore it; you must come to the One who gives rest. Anything in your heart that causes division between you and Christ must be cured right away, nothing is so important as being spiritually healthy.

These words of Jesus are a great test of our reality in Christian life, do we dispute and make excuses or do we come to Him? As soon as we end the debates and arguing God will give rest. If you’re debating whether God can deliver from sin, then either let Him do it or tell Him He cannot. Come, if you are weary and heavy laden, come and find deliverance.

In meekness and humility we must come, recognizing our great need and recognizing His great love and power to meet that need. It seems like coming to Jesus is the last thing we do, but once it is done the supernatural power of God comes into our life and then the power of the world, the devil, and flesh becomes paralyzed. Jesus Christ truly is the answer, He is the only one who can satisfy the deep inner longing of every heart. Will you come to Him today with whatever is causing unrest in your soul?

The Humility of Christ

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:3-8)

Recently I have been  considering the second coming of Christ and how awesome and majestic that day will be. With a loud trumpet blast the skies will be split and all eyes will see the King of Kings and Lord of Lords coming in the clouds with legions of His angels, awesome!

But to me that splendor and glory of that day is small compared to the wonder of His first coming when the Creator of the universe humbled Himself and took on the form of a servant, a poor babe. He humbled Himself even to the point of a shameful death on the cross. My mind staggers and words fail to express how amazing this is to me, how glorious He is!

I am often tempted to be proud and to lift myself up so that others will notice me. Oh, how I love to be esteemed and have a good reputation. I am ashamed at such self-seeking desires when I see that my Lord sought rather to empty Himself, seeking no reputation for Himself. He sought to take the lowest place so that He could get under others and lift them up.

I have to admit that this kind of humility is not in me, that is, not in my flesh. On my own I am selfish, proud, arrogant, judgmental, to put it mildly, a wretch. But I thank God for the gift of the new birth by the Holy Spirit. With the Spirit of Christ dwelling in me there are a host of new thoughts and new desires and a love for others that can only be described as Divine. He gives me the mind of Christ and a heart of a giver not a grasper.

Does that mean I’m perfect? Far from it. I am still tempted in many ways and sometimes I fail and fall. But the Lord is always there and as I come to Him in my brokenness and repentance He brings grace and strength to stand and overcome.

Humility is step one in the Christian life and much of God’s working in our lives is to bring about this same mind that was in Christ. If we will submit to His loving hand of correction there will be a sweet aroma of Christ Himself in our lives that will be known wherever we go.

The Voice of God

Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man. O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.  (Proverbs 8:4-6)

Does God still speak today? Sometimes we tend to think that God spoke long ago through the ancient prophets and apostles and now He has stopped speaking directly to men, but this is not the case.

One way to hear God’s voice is to read His Word – the Bible. God’s Word is powerful and living. God’s voice can also be heard through the things that He created and spoke into being, the earth and the stars for example. They speak to us without voice because they are clear evidence of the Creator.

When you marvel at the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, that is God’s voice calling to you. When you lie in bed alone and wonder what is the meaning and purpose of your life, that is God’s voice calling to you. When conscience convicts you of wrong doing or approves of right doing, that is God’s voice calling to you. Are you hearing God’s voice and listening?

Not many are willing to listen to the speaking Heaven these days. Listening doesn’t seem to be very popular right now. Even among religious circles it seems that noise, size, and activity are promoted as what pleases God. But God says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). Our strength and safety lie in quietly listening to Him.

Do you allow enough times of stillness in your life to hear His voice? How do you know it was His voice you heard? One way to be sure is that He will never speak contrary to the Bible. When we are still before the Lord and listen, when we obey His word in love and deal with all sin in our life, when we pray for illumination, then God will speak. He will speak of excellent things!

When Seeing is not Believing

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:24-29)

Thomas and the other apostles were indeed blessed men to have walked and talked and lived with the Lord Jesus when he walked this earth almost 2000 years ago. What an awesome privilege they shared and what blessed men they were.

But the Lord Jesus reserves yet a greater blessedness for those who have believed and not seen Him in His flesh. This is because for all the blessings of being physically with Jesus and beholding his ministry with their eyes, they were still a faltering bunch of men. But when the Holy Spirit would come within them, oh my, how things did change! For these men there was a vast difference between being with Jesus and having Him within them.

Even now, after so many centuries, the promise remains for us to experience this same presence and power of Christ in a far deeper way than Thomas and the others did when Jesus walked this earth with them. Jesus Christ has promised that He will manifest Himself and that He and the Father would come and dwell in us.

This is the true heavenly blessing – a faith that receives the love and presence of the living Lord. You may wonder how you can receive such simple faith. The answer is simple – If Jesus is your whole desire and confidence, He will manifest Himself in power. Jesus will make His promise of “I will be with you always” a living reality and actual experience in your life. This is the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

Such a full life of faith is not beyond reach. Lets take a hold of Christ’s words: “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet believe.”