Bible Reference: Exodus 23:25-26
Translation: The Voice (VOICE)
Bible Text: 25 Worship and serve only the Eternal your God, and I will bless you with an ample supply of wholesome food and clean water. I will take away all sickness from you, 26 prevent miscarriages and barrenness, and give you long, productive lives.
OBSERVATION: In spite of miracle after miracle, yet God saw that the Israelites were still tempted to sin and worship idols at every opportunity. Much like ‘believers’ today, I believe. So I want us to meditate on the promises that God told to the Israelites, because I believe that He will do the same for us, if we meet the same conditions stated in these verses!
APPLICATION: I wonder what types of responses we might receive if we asked the typical church attendee in each of our towns, or churches: ‘Why does one worship?’ and ‘Why would one serve God?’. I would imagine that would yield an interesting set of answers! But I also believe that in pondering those hypothetical questions, believers might also be forced to answer those questions from a very personal standpoint: Why do I wake up from my warm bed, forego the trip to the beach on this beautiful day – one of the few that I’m off from work each week? Just as challenging, they might also question themselves: Why do I sacrifice my time in serving at my church? It seems so unappreciated and the good Lord knows that there is so much more that I need time to accomplish in my personal life. I believe by now you have probably pondered these questions personally, and have a few choice answers of your own! But let’s look at this from a scriptural standpoint. You see, I believe that God actually created us to worship Him. The following scriptures help to convince me of this: John 4:23-24; Revelation 4:11; Hebrews 1:6; Friends, I believe that a reminder is in order for us, so that we stop fooling ourselves into thinking that worship is about: Going to church, even though this is one of the best places you can find yourselves at, with other believers; Good worshipsongs and a rocking worship band, although this truly enhances our worship services; Worshiping a God that you do not personally know – for then you go through the motion without a personal attachment; Worshiping God out of obligation or requirement, rather than from a heart of self gratitude and personal experience with the Almighty. Friends, when our hearts are right with God, we will not only worship Him wholeheartedly, but we will desire to serve Him faithfully from a pure heart. Think about what this type of service might yield, versus a sense of obligation to serve, or just wanting to see all positions filled in a certain ministry area! Please note that God promised the Israelites wholesome food, clean water, good and productive lives in return for changed hearts that show evidence through worship and service. I can only believe that our God is the same today as He was yesterday, and that He has many blessings in store for those of us with thankful and loving hearts who sincerely dedicate ourselves to spreading His love through reaching others for the Kingdom, and serving from the depths of our heart as an extension of God’s outreached hand to those who need Him. Please communicate with your Savior, Jesus the Christ – my wonderful Lord, and commit yourself fully to Him. There is absolutely no telling what He has in store for us when we join Him in Heaven, dear friends!
PRAYER: Precious Lord, I come before You today as one who is not perfect, and I am therefore guilty of many of the things I shared in this devotional. I believe that many of my friends who will read this devotional today will honestly bow before you also with guilt about the things that are discussed above. You know the temptations and sin that distract us from a right and honest relationship with you, and because of this we are prone to wander and therefore not worship You in Spirit and in truth, and we serve out of obligation rather than as a result of our desire to share Your wonderful love with others who need You. Please dear Lord, make us a people who love You from the very depths of our heart, so that we may share with others from that same deep love that we experience. May Your kingdom come oh Lord, and may You be magnified in everything that I do or say. AMEN!
Bible Reference: Matthew 24:42-44
Translation: The Passion Translation (TPT)
Bible Text: 42 This is why you must stay alert: because no one knows the day your Lord will come. 43 “But realize this: If a homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would come to rob his house, he would have been alert and ready, and not let his house be robbed. 44 So always be ready, alert, and prepared, because at an hour when you’re not expecting him, the Son of Man will come.”
OBSERVATION: In our Scripture today we are receiving yet another warning of something that will impact all mankind. Now it’s up to mankind to take that warning seriously and prepare themselves for the impending, pronounced occurrence, or do nothing, and be prepared for the dangerous, life-threatening results. I will expand on this in the ‘Application’, and I pray that you are concerned enough to continue reading, as this will impact you and your loved ones.
APPLICATION: Through analysis of past weather systems, men are able to predict how many hurricanes we might expect in a given year, and even the impact they may have on certain areas of the world. Meteorologists are therefore able to alert residents of what a storm is currently doing, and what its predictive direction and velocity might be in future hours and days. It’s not uncommon to see some residents begin to evacuate, based on the warnings, while some feel like other things are more important, or they could very well take care of themselves, even if their area is hit with unusually high winds, twisters, etc. Some of these brave men and women survive these horrific weather systems, while others don’t. In our Scripture today, we are being warned of the unannounced, non-predictive, return of Jesus Christ. Notice that no-one knows the day or the hour of His return. It’s not on the radar for our meteorologists to sound the warning, and even if it was, I believe that mankind would be even more stubborn about listening to and doing anything about the warnings, than they do with the hurricanes, or winter storm warnings. I am not all that pessimistic, I’m just sharing what I see each and every Saturday/Sunday morning when church doors open, and teachers and pastors look into the ‘radar’ God prepared for them, the Bible, and they share the warnings and readiness steps with a very small percentage of residents concerned enough to care about their eternal future. Friends, this is not just another warning, life a storm that may dissipate or just turn a different direction. Jesus didn’t say that He may come back, but instead said that He will return to earth to take His children home to glory. If I knew a bad storm was headed my way and could possible endanger all those within the sound of my voice, I would find every avenue possible to get the word out to my family, friends, neighbors and fellow residents. This devotional is an avenue that I have chosen to warn everyone, that Jesus told me in His precious Word, that He would be coming soon to collect His children before the rest of the world is released to Satan and the awful damnation of Hell itself. My prayer, and my sincere wish, is that ALL will be saved and join me around the throne in Heaven. I pray that you will heed the warning given and that you will surrender your life to the lordship of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Please don’t wait, His return could actually occur before you complete your reading of this devotional. Accept Jesus now, won’t you, dear friend? Please see my ‘Footnote’ for tips on accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior.
PRAYER: Lord, I have no reason to doubt Your Word, because so much of it has been proven, or Your predictions have already come true. It frightens me about Your warnings, but I appreciate Your patience, because so many remain undecided as to what they will do with the only One who loves them unconditionally, and has sacrificed His very own Son for their salvation. Lord, as many teachers and pastors try to do every week, I ask today that You might tender the hardened hearts of those that might read this devotional and do not claim You as Lord. May this be the day of salvation for many, is my heartfelt prayer, oh Lord – my Rock and my Redeemer. AMEN!
Bible Reference: 1 John 5:1-4
Translation: The Living Bible (TLB)
Bible Text: If you believe that Jesus is the Christ—that he is God’s Son and your Savior—then you are a child of God. And all who love the Father love his children too. So you can find out how much you love God’s children—your brothers and sisters in the Lord—by how much you love and obey God. Loving God means doing what he tells us to do, and really, that isn’t hard at all; for every child of God can obey him, defeating sin and evil pleasure by trusting Christ to help him.
OBSERVATION: Do you love God? How about God’s children, do you love them also? The extent to which you love God, will show how much you love His children! Is it evident how much you love God? Let’s stop and ponder this Scripture today, as we consider these very important questions.
APPLICATION: Through John, God has actually given us the formula for measuring how well we’re doing in loving God, and in loving fellow believers! In fact we are told in these verses today that the degree to which we love fellow believers is proportionate to how much we love and obey God. Ok, so I’m sure that you probably assume you truly love one another, because you are very sure that you really love God. But do you really? The Word declares that the love referenced here is not just a verbal thing, or a feeling, but instead if we truly love God, we will do what He tells us to do. For some that will be easy, because we pray and we seek God’s face through His precious Word. When we truly love God, we will not just listen to His commands, His teachings, His instructions for us, and His example that He set for us to follow, but we will be willing to live out in total obedience all that He commands us to do. Friends, our instructions and our reminders will not just come from the pulpit on the weekend, or from a Bible teacher, but primarily come from a one-on-one relationship with your maker. This might include getting into His Instruction Manual, the Bible, daily; it will include communicating with Him throughout your day; it will include sharing with others about the most important thing that ever happened to you. Friends, if it’s truly on the inside, it will come out in your words, actions and attitudes. Don’t know where to start? You may want to follow a good devotional, such as the one you’re now reading, or you may want to look for a Bible Reading Plan of your own. Whatever you decide, just remember to seek God’s face first – as it takes the Spirit of God to truly open your eyes to the spiritual truths of our awesome God. Not much of a reader? It doesn’t matter, when you seek God’s face first and ask Him to open your mind to His ways and His thoughts, and His teachings, you will find that those simple words on a page, actually reveals the perfect will of God for your life right where you’re at during that very moment. Highlight as He speaks to you, and make notes to remind yourself how He spoke to you. Note that in today’s scripture we are taught that through loving God and obeying all that He instructs us, then we will defeat sin and evil pleasures. Our love for God will become so pure and so real, that we will also love everything that God loves and everyone that He loves. So are you struggling with any part of this today friend? Let me encourage you to try the above ideas for at least seven days, and I believe God will give you a burning desire to continue doing the same for the rest of the time you remain on this earth! Love and obedience to God leads to love for the brethren friend!
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You not only tell us to love one another, but You have even gone the extra step of showing us just how to accomplish that. How unfortunate, that a God who sacrificed His only Son for us on Calvary, must now tell us how important it is for us to love His Son. How deep the Father’s love for us, even in spite of our unworthiness. Yet how easy it is for us to say that we struggle in loving our Christian Brothers and Sisters, when we don’t fully appreciate the love of our Father, or see fit to obey His simple commands. Please forgive us dear Lord and continue to draw us to Yourself with an even deeper determination to love and obey You. I sincerely thank You for Your love, and for all these things I have asked throughout this devotional, for it is in the precious and loving name of Jesus that I ask, AMEN!
Bible Reference: 1 John 4:2–3
Translation: The Message (MSG)
Bible Text: Here’s how you test for the genuine Spirit of God. Everyone who confesses openly his faith in Jesus Christ—the Son of God, who came as an actual flesh-and-blood person—comes from God and belongs to God. And everyone who refuses to confess faith in Jesus has nothing in common with God.
OBSERVATION: Ever been questioned, or have you ever questioned whether a Brother is genuine, or a Sister sincere in her faith and teaching? I was in awe this morning as I read the Word, for John, gives us pointers about this very matter.
APPLICATION: Not only will this help us identify the Spirit of God in others, but I believe this also helps us to examine ourselves and the kind of witness we portray to others. Some of the key points we are to consider and/or portray to determine, or prove, the genuine Spirit of God are: (1) Confesses openly about his/her/my faith in Jesus Christ; (2) Acknowledges that Jesus is the genuine, only Son of God; (3) Believes and declares that Jesus came to this earth in human form; (4) Believes that Jesus Comes from God; Belongs to God; And, as verified in other scriptures, He is also God. Friends, we are well aware of the awful feelings we have when we discover that we’ve been given a fake check, or a fake currency note, or perhaps encounter a person claiming to be someone they truly are not. The latter is comparable to us bringing damnation on ourselves when we claim to be a messenger, or witness, or representation of God, without having a first-hand experience with His Son Jesus. Friends, others will see straight through our fake-ness. Our Christianity is evidenced on the outside from a heart experience on the inside. Have you given Your heart to Jesus? Has He been allowed to control Your innermost emotions, convictions and decisions? Have you invited Jesus to take charge and to speak and work through you wholeheartedly? Can others see and feel the Spirit of God working in and through you on the outside and confirm the points suggested by John? Will they know you are a child of the King, or do you need to tell them? Will you commit to speak to God about this? He deserves genuine believers, because He showed His genuine love for us on Calvary in that He offered Himself, in obedience to His Father, to be a sacrifice for those who despised and hated Him. He showed real, genuine, love beyond anything mankind has ever experienced. He loved us with wide, outstretched arms! Do you love and appreciate my Lord enough today to be bold in your witness and tell others of His great love, even if you are certain that they will make a mockery of you? Will they recognize the spirit of God residing inside of you?
PRAYER: Dear God, I am amazed at the genuine love shown for me on Calvary’s cross. You were born into this world, lived among men and in spite of Your love for them, they crucified You. This is the unfortunate evidence of Your human experience here on earth. Thank You for continuing to accept humans into Your kingdom, and I especially thank You for accepting me. Please forgive us when we allow our peers to distract our walk with You. Lord, I am seeking Your help to make me more like You in every way while here on earth, so that others will not be distracted by a sense of false identity. I desire for them to see the hands and feet of Jesus, so that they may be drawn to You oh Lord. Please deal deeply in the hearts of those who will meditate on this devotional today, so that we might not only know You as Lord and Savior, but that we may follow Your example in everything we say and do. To God be the glory, for all that our surrendered, and fully dedicated lives might yield for the Kingdom of God. AMEN!
Bible Reference: Matthew 23:8-11
Translation: Good News Translation (GNT)
Bible Text: 8 You must not be called ‘Teacher,’ because you are all equal and have only one Teacher. 9 And you must not call anyone here on earth ‘Father,’ because you have only the one Father in heaven. 10 Nor should you be called ‘Leader,’ because your one and only leader is the Messiah.11 The greatest one among you must be your servant.
OBSERVATION: These verses really impacted me. Because in our ‘dog-eat-dog’ world, where everyone is greedy after the position just above them, so that they could earn more money, and be looked up to. Imagine how we would feel if the further up we went, the more servanthood was expected of us? That doesn’t even sound right in our world today, and in the work atmosphere in which we find ourselves, right? Then let’s dig into the Word by meditating on this for a while today.
APPLICATION: A new hire will most often start out in the lowest position of an organization, so that they might learn that position and hopefully everything else above that position, as they progress along in their employment. Imagine if, at the beginning of year three, they were told by their employer that they want them to take on more servanthood, along with added responsibility in the organization. Do you suppose they would be just a little confused? I believe in our employment world today, that individuals feel honored to move up, because finally they could have others do all the piddly jobs for them, to help them look good and move up even more. In some environments, supervisors are encouraged to not mix with their employees, because they would lose their respect. But what about the child of God that studies the practices of Jesus, God’s Son, and tries to follow the concepts taught in His Word? Is it not unimaginable to think of a ‘leader’, or a ‘manager’ to lift up their workers and praise them for helping the department achieve their goals? Wouldn’t that leader or manager feel less than adequate before their boss? What about in the church? I hope that you are not seeing your pastors, or elders, or deacons, or teachers, placing themselves on such pedestals that they wait to be served by others. For if we are truly to imitate our Lord and Savior, we would see our main ‘servants’ scrubbing the floor, washing the feet of others, serving food to the hungry and showing the love of Jesus to all they come into contact with. Jesus encouraged us to not even assume titles by which He or His Father were known, for we would never want others to assume for a moment that we are to be looked up to as another ‘Jesus’. For there is none like Him, and we are never to try and assume His place among those with whom we worship, work or mix with. Friends, we are on this earth to promote Jesus, not to be His equal, because we would never succeed in that. While we should strive to imitate His goodness as a sign of obeying His teachings, we must be careful to pass all praises on to Him. For it’s Jesus that we live for; It’s Jesus that we represent; It’s Jesus who loved us enough that He died on a cruel cross to save us eternally; and it’s Jesus who is coming back to gather His chosen ones to accompany Him in glory before the Father. Friends, we are servants of a great BIG God! Let’s remember our role, and His, each day of our lives, and seek to follow His instructions regarding our servant role while here on earth.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, King of all kings and Lord of all lords. Greater than all others, yet You demonstrated servanthood while here on earth, and because You want us to live our life as an example of Yours, I believe that You are commanding that we also be servants to those around us, including those that we may have supervisory charge. In humility You came to this world, in humility You lived, and in humility You were crucified. Therefore to imitate You, we must also be humble. Please continue to work on us, mold us and direct us, so that others will recognize You and want to know You as Lord. AMEN!