SCRIPTURE FROM: Hebrews 1:1-3 (TLB)
TEXT: 1 Long ago God spoke in many different ways to our fathers through the prophets, in visions, dreams, and even face to face, telling them little by little about his plans. 2 But now in these days he has spoken to us through his Son to whom he has given everything and through whom he made the world and everything there is. 3 God’s Son shines out with God’s glory, and all that God’s Son is and does marks him as God. He regulates the universe by the mighty power of his command. He is the one who died to cleanse us and clear our record of all sin, and then sat down in highest honor beside the great God of heaven.
OBSERVATION: It appears like through the writer of Hebrews, God may be saying to us that in spite of the many ways that we seek God, and in spite of the evidence often used to identify God’s presence and existence, yet we need look no further than His Son to understand who God is, where God is, and how badly God wants us to see clearly the path of salvation that leads His children to eternity with Him in glory. The big question for us today is ‘Do we know God’s Son’? ‘Have we met Jesus personally and have an intimate, personal relationship with Him’?
APPLICATION: I find it interesting how doubt often develops about the existence of God when:
I’m sure that there are other scenarios that you may think of, but as you ponder over these things please also consider how your personal relationship is with God. For friends, although it may have been one of the above scenarios yesterday, Satan has an eye on you and I as he looks for a weak moment to bash in on our relationship with God. The good news is that God knew all about the temptations that would come our way, and all about the nature of sinful man, and yet He loved us anyway! In fact, He loved us more than we could ever imagine, for He went beyond anything we could ever imagine, by sending His only Son to live among us. Then to resolve the sin issue for us, God allowed Jesus to be crucified on a cruel cross at Calvary, so that through that one sacrifice, each of us that ask, in sincerity, to be saved from our sin, could do so by accepting the free gift of salvation offered through Jesus’ sacrifice. If you are still searching for God, then you are either ignoring the path set out before us through Jesus Christ, or you are calling God a liar and a fake. There is more evidence than we could begin to list, that our God is alive! The Word today shows us how God continues to work through His Son, Jesus, and how this was all orchestrated for one purpose, that we could have forgiveness of sin and a glorious home to which we could look forward to being with our Savior and our God! Do you know Jesus today, friend? Is this news not just exciting for you, but also very personal for you because you are already a son or daughter of the most high God?
PRAYER: Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, and let me stand physically in Your presence on whatever day you decide to call me home. For my friends and I, You have prepared our eternal home; You’ve provided the means for us to get there; and You’ve given us Your Word so that we might know how to be right with You. Lord, may this be the day that You once again touch hardened hearts that we’ve been praying for, and may this also be the day that You reach in and convict the heart of the one who might stumble across this devotional in their search for everlasting peace and satisfaction. Thank You for loving us so much to not just leave us in our sin, but to open the doors of heaven for even us. AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: Philemon 1:4-7 (VOICE)
TEXT: 4 I am constantly thanking God for you in my prayers 5 because I keep hearing about your love and faith toward our Lord Jesus and all those set apart for His purposes. Here’s what I’ve been praying on your behalf:
6 Thank You, Father, for Philemon. I pray that as he goes and tells his story of faith, he would tell everyone so that they will know for certain all the good that comes to those who put their trust in the Anointed One.
7 My brother, because you are out there encouraging and reviving the hearts of fellow saints with such love, this brings great joy and comfort to me.
OBSERVATION: In this translation, verse 7 reads that Philemon was encouraging and reviving the hearts of fellow saints. In the NLT, we are told that Paul was excited because Philemon refreshed the hearts of believers! Ever been guilty of that? Let’s meditate on how we might do that…
APPLICATION: I don’t believe there is anything more satisfying than to walk in on someone speaking something complimentary about you! I suppose the next best thing is probably to read the compliments on our character in a letter, email or newspaper. I realize that we never do the work of the Lord for man’s applause, but I also know that we each need encouraging from time to time. Paul’s applause to Philemon was all about the feedback that Paul was receiving from the church members that met in Philemon’s home. Friends, we must remember that as we strive diligently to live as an example of our Master and Lord, if no one around us notices, then how do you suppose we are doing? Philemon lived such a life of love in the presence of his congregants, that Paul likened it to something that we do to our computer screens when we ‘refresh‘ the screen! To something that we diligently pray for in our churches, when we pray for ‘revival‘, for we want our hearts to be ‘refreshed‘ in the love of Jesus, and our spirits refreshed to the state of when we first met Jesus, when we fell deeply in love with Him for saving our soul. Friends, I want to encourage us to not wait for our encouragement to arrive, before we see the love of Jesus in someone around us. For as we encourage them and see them rejuvenated in wanting to serve Christ even more fully, we too will be encouraged to reach out to Jesus and desire such a filling of His sweet Holy Spirit that it would electrify anyone’s spirit who happens to be near to us. People who need the Lord are constantly looking at those who say they have Him, so they could see what a Jesus filled life looks like. How are you doing with that friend? Can others see enough of Jesus in you that they want to be around you, hoping that some of the joy and love that you exude would rub off on them! Draw close to God friend, and He will draw close to you. In fact, He will overfill your joy and love, so that others will want to know the source of it all!
PRAYER: Thank you Jesus for allowing Paul to encourage his Brother Philemon. Thank You for speaking to our hearts through this Scripture today, so that our hearts might be overfilled and looking for avenues to share Your precious love with others. Please give us more love to share and many more opportunities in which to share that love with others. Draw the unsaved to Yourself Lord, and if I may be of service in that awesome act of love, please use even me. AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: Titus 2:11-14 (MSG)
TEXT: 11-14 God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.
OBSERVATION: In the first 10 verses of this chapter, Paul shares with Titus the importance of teaching older men, older women, younger men and younger women, how to live a God-filled, God-honoring life, and the importance of doing so. This teaching has never been more critical than it is for us today, so as we meditate on this, let’s try to apply it – for the kingdom of God is at hand!
APPLICATION: Telling a politician, or a public figure to include something on ‘right living’ in their political agenda, would almost seem hypocritical compared to the backbiting, hatred and name calling they normally do. Telling an evangelist to hit the streets and demand this lifestyle of those coming out of the bars and dance halls would probably be meaningless to a people are already living the best lifestyle they know how to live. But I believe that just as Paul gave this advice to his fellow laborer and Brother in the Lord, and expected him to share this with those that he found in the local church, we too must be prepared to give this advice to our pastors, teachers and leaders of our churches today. The whole reason for this, comes down to our churches empowering our people not just with the awesome power of God’s Word, but also asking its parishioners to live and practice the life that they are being taught from God’s Word. So in effect, we are encouraging each one to become the church to all those that they come into contact with! I believe that it is our responsibility to live like ‘little Christs’, before all those we come into contact with, especially if we are God-filled, and if we are giving every effort to honor God with our speech, behavior and character. I just love the latter part of this Scripture where we are told that God gave up everything, when He allowed His precious Son to die on the cross for us, for He wanted to make it possible and easy for us to make Him proud of us. How do you feel about your day friend? Did you make God proud in everything that you did? Would others conclude that you are a ‘God-filled’ person, and that you honor God through the things that you say and do? The Word says that when we strive towards these things, we develop an appetite and excitement about the glorious day when our Lord will return! God saw the need for Titus to hear these words from Paul, and I believe that He wants us to also get the picture He is portraying for us today about our earthly condition, in preparation for our heavenly celebration and our eternal home!
PRAYER: Oh that your people may know about You Lord! Oh that we, who are called by Your name, will seek Your face, humble ourselves and pray, and allow ourselves to be so filled with Your presence, Your character, Your love and to seek Your Holy Spirit for every decision in life, so that we may be God-filled and so that we may honor You in all things. Please anoint us today with Your power, so that we may look more like You in the eyes of those searching for the Master. AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: Titus 1:15-16 (TLB)
TEXT: 15 A person who is pure of heart sees goodness and purity in everything; but a person whose own heart is evil and untrusting finds evil in everything, for his dirty mind and rebellious heart color all he sees and hears. 16 Such persons claim they know God, but from seeing the way they act, one knows they don’t. They are rotten and disobedient, worthless so far as doing anything good is concerned.
OBSERVATION: From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks! That’s a popular old saying, or proverb, that has been proven over the years. That seems to be what Paul is warning his Christian Brother and co-laborer about as he heads into ministering alongside Paul and other disciples at the time. It seems like Paul is saying: ‘You will hear lots of things coming from the mouths of the people you encounter, before you get upset with them, learn their heart’s condition first’. This is excellent advice for us today also, so let’s take time to meditate on Paul’s advice.
APPLICATION: I’ve seen scenarios where a new pastor would be asked how would he handle cliques in the church, or gossip by leaders, or other things that strictly results from inside circumstances over time. These questions might come before the new pastor ever stands in the pulpit for the first time. Canned responses may be given to those types of questions, if the new pastor knows nothing about the circumstances that provoked the questions. In most cases, there is hurt built up inside the individuals that ask those questions, and they are hoping that the new pastor will save their world. However, where evil abounds, those types of questions might be more of a test to see how the new Pastor will react to circumstances that might arise. In other words, what might the people be able to get away with. These principles are also seen between church members, or just between people in general. Sometimes comments are made to see if a friend or neighbor will be provoked and respond badly. Sometimes we need to prove the character of someone where we may have predicted their doom. But how often do we say things from the heart to just lift up a Brother, or encourage a Sister, or help them draw closer to the Lord? Friends, I believe you will find it easy to sit and analyze what causes others to act just like Paul predicted to Titus, but I want to encourage you today to join me in striving to draw closer to God, whose character will provoke us to want the very best for our neighbors, coworkers, friends and co-laborers in Christ. Our primary responsibility is to get ourselves right with God. Let that Light that we boast of, be evident in everything fiber of our being. Others are looking at you and I, to see if this ‘Jesus’ that we have bragged about, is for real. Oh that they may see the ‘real’ thing in us today. May others brush up to Jesus as they encounter us today! God being our Helper, Guide, Protector and soon coming King.
PRAYER: In our witness Lord, may others see Your goodness, Your mercy, Your loving kindness, Your forgiveness, Your love and Your unselfish desire to see the best in Your kids. Cleanse our hearts Lord, so that we may fill them with more of You. May the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, oh Lord, our Rock and our Salvation. AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: 2 Timothy 3:15-17 (ERV)
TEXT: 15 You have known the Holy Scriptures since you were a child. These Scriptures are able to make you wise. And that wisdom leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by God. And all Scripture is useful for teaching and for showing people what is wrong in their lives. It is useful for correcting faults and teaching the right way to live. 17 Using the Scriptures, those who serve God will be prepared and will have everything they need to do every good work.
OBSERVATION: Imagine your pastor pulling a young man, that shows a lot of promise, alongside of him and promises to work with him to become an effective minister of the Word of God. What are some things that you suppose your pastor, and your church might expect of this young man? Hours and hours of diligence in the Word; Seminary, or at least Bible School; etc, etc. Now, let me encourage you to look into the Word for instruction on what you should do. It seems to me, that this Scripture today is giving some direction regarding the dilemma, and possibly the answer to what your pastor is facing, so let’s look closely at this….
APPLICATION: Paul, having gone through a wide range of challenges in his ministry, had lots of advice and direction for Timothy who was setting out in ministry. I believe that if we looked at everything that Paul had to offer Timothy, some might say that he had enough challenges of his own, that he would probably do everything possible to discourage this young man from the ministry, although he didn’t! Looking at this from Timothy’s standpoint, we could see where Timothy could easily approach every situation with the same mindset that he saw his local church/church leaders handle situations. However, what adds so much to this story for us is that Paul took on young Timothy as his own son. It shows where Paul cared for Timothy’s well being and for his success in ministry – both for the benefit of the kingdom, and for himself personally. So I believe that the obvious thing that Paul might tell Timothy, is to study the Bible often, and study it very deeply – and I believe that any pastor about to mentor a young ‘Timothy’ would probably do the same. In fact, I believe that any good church leadership would probably tell a young, prospective minister who felt called to the ministry to do the same, and it would be advice patterned after Scripture – today’s Scripture! So why is this important? I believe that for one to teach or preach the Word of God, and tell others about the character and life of Jesus Christ, then it is critically important to get into the Word and saturate yourself with it. There are many other books that we could read where good, qualified teachers have written about the ‘Book’, but please don’t allow that to take the place of you digging into the Word of God often and very deeply. From personal experience, I can tell you that there are days that I might read the Word and I struggle to gain anything personally from it. However, there are days that I can read back over a passage that I previously got nothing from, and God has a special message for me at that time. As I read, I tend to use a few different highlighters: green for highlighting phrases through which I felt God speaking direct to me about something; yellow for highlighting various warnings that God used to get our attention; and red to highlight specific things that God told us not to do. Did I get these ideas from some big seminary and passing them on to you to use? No, but these are tools that I chose to use, so that when I study or refer to that Scripture again, those words will ‘pop’ and quickly draw my attention to them. The other tool I use, is multiple versions of the Bible. Each time I read through the Bible I use a different version. The different ways that some translators or commentators choose to word a passage, might serve to help me better understand what is being said, or what was intended by the sometimes challenging verbiage of some older translations. Other advice I would offer is that it is ‘God’s’ Word, so ask Him to open your mind and your understanding, so that you could grasp what He wants to say to you through the words you are about to read and understand. In training an up and coming ‘Timothy’ it is way more important for him to see and understand from you when he knows that you are in the Word personally, rather than detailing what the textbook says from your seminary. As you learn from, and draw closer to God, you are in much better shape to mentor someone wanting to walk the same path that you took!
PRAYER: Lord, thank You for touching the hearts, minds and souls of men and women around the world who have committed their lives to the full time ministry of Your Word. People still need the Lord, so it is still very important that new ‘Timothy’s’ arise every day and commit themselves to serving the King of all kings! Thank You Father for drawing men and women unto Yourself, and thank You for preparing them for Your ministry. Sometimes You do this through others that might encourage, teach and set a good example for the new minister. Please bless those who fill that role every day! Please continue to bless our churches with new volunteers who will take the ministry seriously and whose sole purpose is to see Your kingdom increase and be glorified. I stand in awe of Your mercy on us oh Lord! AMEN!