Bible Reference: Jeremiah 44:22–23
Bible Text: 22 Today, your land is an object of cursing, a horror, a lifeless ruin because the Eternal could no longer stand your wickedness and the detestable things you did. 23 Take a good look at the disaster that has come upon you. It happened because you burned incense to other gods and sinned against the Eternal. It happened because you refused to obey His voice or follow His law and His decrees, because you ignored His warnings.
Bible Translation: The VOICE
Just from the title you probably had no incentive or desire to open this devotional and read more. That’s pretty normal, because we are creatures of so much stress each day that the last thing we want to hear is another challenge or critical point of view. Sorry friends, but as followers of Christ we must be obedient to the Holy Spirit and stop to meditate on a passage of scripture such as this, when presented with it, because God could very well be getting our attention to warn us of what our own outcome may look like, if we continue in sin and disobedient to His commands. Based on scripture, I believe that God wants us to turn away from our sin (stop doing it and look at God’s plan for us), humble ourselves before the almighty God, seek His face and His heart’s desire for us, and pray for a revived spirit within us individually and, as a family, as a church, as a city and indeed as a nation. Friends, at this time of the year we become so caught up in politics, in Thanksgiving celebrations, and begin thinking about Christmas. If we’re not careful, I’m afraid that we could easily lose our passion for what is really critical in God’s eyes – that we know Him; honor Him; obey Him and seek sincerely to follow Him. In doing this friends, we will earn a deep, sincere, desire to see our family and friends also ‘make the cut’, or generate a desire to know the Savior that we love, adore and live in great expectation of uniting with one day! Friends, as we grow closer to God and live more like Him here on this earth, perhaps He may save our land from desolation and destruction. Most of us would desire that God bless our respective native country, so I sincerely believe that we would also truly regret it if God removed His hand of blessing from us and allowed our land to become an object of His cursing – just because of our neglect of God and His commands. God says in His Word that He puts our leaders in place for His purposes. Let us therefore be sure that we seek His face as we vote on our leaders, and more importantly, let us seek to know God better, understand His directions for us, and seek to follow His will and His way. I believe that this will please God and perhaps earn His blessing rather than His curse, as He did with the disobedient and rebellious Israelites.
Lord, please forgive us for getting so caught up in our own agendas at the expense of our obedience to You and Your commands to us. I am convinced that You are far more interested in our heart, and the desires of our heart, than any earthly concern that we may have influence over. We love our respective home-country and would ask that You bless us immensely in every way. That’s a selfish request because we happen to live here, and whatever happens to our country, affects us. Lord, I also want to ask that You touch the hearts of Your children today so that we may be a vital Christian influence in our country that is representative of the Savior who loves and controls us. I realize that we don’t deserve this Lord, but I ask this so that Your work might be accomplished in our country, in spite of us. I pray that Your children will lift Your banner high so that the world might know the One who reigns over us! AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: James 1:25 (NCV)
TEXT: 25 … the truly happy people are those who carefully study God’s perfect law that makes people free, and they continue to study it. They do not forget what they heard, but they obey what God’s teaching says. Those who do this will be made happy.
OBSERVATION: There are probably more books sold and more seminars attended on this subject than anything else imaginable. I believe that the primary reason for this might be due to the fact that Satan, the ruler of all evil on this earth, is constantly battling for our attention and our affection. But the recipe for happiness taught by James here is not new, for you will find this revelation throughout the Bible in many of the teachings and illustrations placed there for our good. As we meditate on the importance of this today, may we truly find real and lasting happiness.
APPLICATION: I often compare illustrations on marriage to help illustrate the relationship we should strive towards with our Lord. In marriage, many couples attend marriage enrichment classes, or take cruises geared towards married couples, or read books on ways to refresh our marriages. We are looking for ways to refresh our love for each other. Without this, we tend to start taking each other for granted, we relax our initial commitment to love and uphold each other through good times and through the challenging times as well. In fact, many who make no effort to keep their marriages fresh, causes us to hear more about divorce than ever before. James is teaching us here in this Scripture today that true happiness for mankind is found in carefully studying the perfect laws of God, as outlined in His book of instruction – the Bible. Throughout the Bible, we are taught and reminded that God loves us more than we could even imagine. He showed His love for us in many ways, but the ultimate love was shown when He willingly went to the cross as a sacrifice for us. Think carefully about why Jesus went to the cross, for all who existed before that time were not saints that could be equal with God, but ‘dirty’, ‘filthy’ sinners. But, in love, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice on the cross knowing that it would be the means of forgiveness when we ask. So knowing that someone loves us so much, and without conditions placed on why He would love us, why do you suppose we would not want to obey His commands? James reminds us that through obeying God, we not only receive His wondrous love, but we become sons and daughter of the greatest person that ever lived, our Lord and Savior. The contentment this brings to us is pure, unadulterated happiness. Now if we are serious about this kind of commitment to Jesus Christ, and the happiness that results, James said that we would want to continue to study and learn from the teachings of Jesus. Further, we must always be mindful of what we have studied, for it is intended to guide our lives into the total Truth of all that we learn, while making a concerted effort to obey it and live it out in our lives. You see, I am convinced that God created us to illustrate to the world, what a loving, caring God looks like. How do you suppose you are doing with that? It’s very easy for us to see the good, the bad and the ugly in others, but I would suggest that we look inward today and, based on what James is teaching us, evaluate whether you think that we stand a chance of being truly ‘Happy’.
PRAYER: Precious Lord, thank You for Your sacrifice at Calvary. Thank You for loving us enough to offer Your life as a sacrifice for our sin. Thank You for providing Your Word so that we may be reminded of Your love, and also how we may maintain our happiness in You. Please give all those who will meditate on this devotional today, the boldness to demonstrate Your love for us, to all those that we come into contact with. May we be committed to reading Your Word, understanding it’s truth, and practicing it’s values every day in the way that we live and interact with others. May You be glorified through our humble lives today oh Lord. AMEN!
Bible Reference: Philippians 4:8-9
Bible Text: 8 Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise. 9 You know the teachings I gave you, and you know what you heard me say and saw me do. So follow my example. And God, who gives peace, will be with you.
Bible Translation: Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Perhaps before you walk out of the door to your home this morning you already realized that there will be many challenges that you will deal with today. Perhaps there is overflow from the challenges you dealt with yesterday. There may even be unresolved contention that you know you must deal with today. You may be deliberating: why is it that you must awake from your ‘perfect’, ‘protected’, ‘uncomplicated’ dream of contentment and peace at home, and face the reality and cruelty of this wicked world. Friends, I want you to be encouraged with the words from God, through His messenger Paul, for I believe this can apply to all who are reading this devotional today:
There are a few sayings that cross my mind dear Lord, “you are now entering your mission field” and “you are now entering the ‘real’ world”. I believe that most of us feel fairly secure and at peace in our own homes, and we fear the challenge of what this bitter world holds in store for us as we step into it today. Thank You for the encouragement given to us in this passage of scripture today. Lord, we believe in You, and we lift high the banner of truth contained in Your Word. We are more dependent on You today than ever before Savior, for we can only handle today’s challenges with You powerfully working inside of us, and helping us to be more like You. Lord, how will the world know about You if we don’t tell them? Oh that they may see everlasting hope and the love of Christ in all that we do or say today. For this is my humble prayer that I ask in and through the name of Jesus, AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: Hebrews 13:20-21 (ERV)
TEXT: 20-21 I pray that the God of peace will give you every good thing you need so that you can do what he wants. God is the one who raised from death our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of his sheep. He raised him because Jesus sacrificed his blood to begin the new agreement that never ends. I pray that God will work through Jesus Christ to do the things in us that please him. To him be glory forever. Amen.
OBSERVATION: The Bible teaches us everything we need for right living, and in line with God’s commands for us. In this last chapter of Hebrews, we are taught what’s really important in the life of the believer in Jesus Christ, and we are therefore given great direction on how best to pray for our Brother and/or our Sister. Let’s examine this guidance so that we might pray scripturally for others.
APPLICATION: What I found extremely interesting in these verses is that we are taught to really pray great blessings on each other, but as we look closely at the ‘so that’ we will see that these prayers are not just to make us look righteous to the church, or in our community, but rather to glorify Christ. I had a pastor who wore a handsome looking suit for the first time, on a Sunday morning. After his sermon, he received so many compliments on his new suit that he promised never to do that again, because it was obvious that his congregants paid more attention to his new suit than they did to the message God gave him to deliver! Sounds funny, but anytime we do, or say, something that glorifies or promotes our own self worth, we have totally missed the point of promoting Christ. I love the beginning of these verses, for it demands that we pray that our Brother or Sister would have every good thing they need. Isn’t that about the best thing you could pray for someone? But notice that there is not a period after that phrase, but instead goes on to give the ‘so that’, and that the purpose of such a prayer is not for the benefit of making your object of prayer the best person in the congregation, community or workplace, but rather for the benefit of doing what God wants. So an example of this might be that you may very well pray that someone be enriched with wisdom, or perfect discernment, but for the one who loves God and seeks to please Him in everything, that may not be for the sake of choosing the right numbers and winning the lotto, but rather, it may bless them with the aptitude to serve on an important team at church in which God is looking to draw people unto Himself in an unusual and miraculous way. You have no idea how God will use that person for His glory, but as you pray in accordance with what God has laid on your heart, be content in knowing that God will bless so that His perfect will might be achieved. The other part of that wonderful prayer is that you will find reason to glorify your heavenly Father for listening to the prayer of His humble servant to achieve His greatness! The last part of verse 21 is also achieved in my example, for God used His blessing to you, to accomplish His work, for His glory. I believe that the awe in these verses for us, is that when we pray for the benefit of God’s glory, we will see our prayers answered, but we will also see gratified hearts through the blessings of God on us and those we pray for. So pray to the Father, through His Son, for His ultimate glory, and for the uplifting and blessings of the one we are praying for.
PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for the many friends You have blessed me with, and for those You have placed in a position to guide me, manage me, and encourage me. Please bless each of these richly today, so that Your glory might shine through them and bring even more praise to You by multiple others. Please help us to live holy and upright lives, so that Your presence in our lives will shine through every word and every action. People need the Lord more today than ever before. Use us Lord to be You light and Your encouragement to them. AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: Hebrews 13:1-3 (TPT)
TEXT: 1 No matter what, make room in your heart to love every believer. 2 And show hospitality to strangers, for they may be angels from God showing up as your guests. 3 Identify with those who are in prison as though you were there suffering with them, and those who are mistreated as if you could feel their pain.
OBSERVATION: It is evident in this Scripture that we are to love and treat others like Jesus treats us, and that we are not to be selective in the process of doing this. This may seem extremely challenging as we consider loving every believer; hospitality to even strangers; identify with Brothers or Sisters in prison and not just give them ‘canned’ words hoping to comfort them; and also try to understand the suffering, of one who is hurting, to such a degree that you actually hurt with them. This leads us to ‘real’ relationships, not just empty words. Stand by as we meditate further on this…
APPLICATION: I believe that we can seriously say with confidence that the Word of God is alive today, and just as relevant as it has ever been. This Scripture is totally directed to us today, even though it was written and included in the Bible thousands of years ago. The outstanding thing is that this is no coincidence, for the God of this universe – the One who created mankind, knew that His children would not outgrow the selfish desires to please self and to look out for one’s own best interest. However, the reason I believe that you are reading this devotional today, is not just to see how smart, or dumb, I am, but rather hoping that I may share some encouraging thought with you that also helped me. You see, although we are probably some of the weakest creatures on the planet, and we fail often to do those things that we know is right, yet I am convinced that God has placed a desire within us to try and please Him, and possibly try and please others. Therefore, as I learn from the Word, and am constantly reminded of what God expects of me, I look to Him for help and guidance in being obedient to His commands and His teaching. So with that in mind, and in obedience to our Scripture today, let me encourage you and I to:
Friends, as we learn from God’s Word, let us do our utmost to obey it and be more like Christ in every way possible.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, it is such an extreme request to ask that we be more like You, because only You can be God. However, I believe that You would have us follow Your commands, just as You did; walk in Your paths, just as Your specifically did to show us the right path; and love others just as You always loved us, and always will love us, even down to sacrificing Your very life for our sake. Please forgive us for the frequent distractions that we allow to hold us back, and from experiencing Your glory. Lord, may we do something today that others might see as a ‘God-thing’, and may they be drawn to You eternally. May You rule and reign in every aspect of our lives oh Lord! AMEN!