Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Defined By Christ

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Therefore, consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices…  Colossians 3:5-9

 Defined By Christ

When we become Christians, we start down a new path in life. Most of the time when we start something new, we have to get rid of at least some of the old stuff. Starting a new life in Christ will change your life ethically. There will be things that you used to partake in, that now cannot be a part of your life if you want to start a new life and grow in Christ. Anything you used to do that is against God’s word and desire for our lives should automatically be out.

Therefore, consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, 
impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry…

We are to consider ourselves dead to immorality such as impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed – which is all idolatry. The core of all sin is idolatry because we are putting these before God and anything that we replace God with is an idol. God deserves first place in our lives, and He cannot share the throne of our lives with anything or anyone if we are to have a right relationship with Him.

But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices…

The list above was primarily sins that we commit outside our body – or physically. This list is more about our heart: anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech, and lying. All prejudice, racism, and slander are gone when a new heart is in control. When we give our heart to Jesus and the Holy Spirit takes us residence in our hearts, He controls our heart, our motives, our speech, etc. as long as we let Him. It is when the “old man” comes, and we give him control that we have problems. 

One other thing that we must let go of so we can thrive in our new life in Christ is shame over where we have been. If we cannot let that go, it will hinder us from growing or moving forward in our new life. Shame is powerful. It is hard for us to think that God loves us despite what we have done. In fact, He loved us when we were doing it and He knew we would do it before we even did it. He forgives us but we have a harder time forgetting and forgiving ourselves and accepting His grace. 

We must shift our thinking from finding our identity in who we were to finding our identity in who we are in Christ. If we carry shame with us, we find our identity in our shame. A shame-based identity is Satan whispering in our ear constantly while we try to pretend he is not. It is the underlying thought that we are not worthy because of what we have done. We can’t stop shaming ourselves because of bad decisions and wrong choices we have made in the past. We may not even realize that it is shame, because to us, it is truth. But the real truth is that in Christ we are new creatures, with new identities. In this new identity we are ready to grow in Him and to be used by Him. 

Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.  Colossians 3:10-11 MSG

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Handwriting On The Wall

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Belshazzar the king held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand. When Belshazzar tasted the wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. … They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone. Suddenly the fingers of a man's hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace, and the king saw the back of the hand that did the writing. Then the king's face grew pale and his thoughts alarmed him, and his hip joints went slack and his knees began knocking together. Daniel 5:1-2,4-6 

The Handwriting On The Wall

One of the most well-known phrases from the bible comes from this text.  A lot of times in business, sports and just in life, everyone seems to know or have heard the phrase, "The handwriting is on the wall."  This phrase is normally spoken when it is clear that without intervention something is inevitable.  It is a warning to do something now to stop a later consequence.

Here we have a man named Belshazzar who was the King of Babylon at this time.  Belshazzar was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. This young man was around to witness what happened to his grandfather when he failed to take heed to the voice of God.  He was around when his grandfather was told by Daniel to stop worshipping idols, to stop sinning, to do what was right and be merciful to the poor.  Belshazzar knew that his grandfather's biggest mistake was thinking that he had obtained all his success on his own.  His grandfather had failed to listen to Daniel the prophet and ended up losing his mind so badly that he finds himself eating grass with the cows every day. Wow! The Bible says he was wet with dew and his hair grew as long as eagle feathers.  His nails grew and became like bird claws and he was in a terrible state for seven years.  Yet when his mind finally returned to him he praised and worshipped the most High God.  This man had lost his mind because he had forgotten who allowed him to become great. This is a good time for me to tell you that God’s Word says in him we live and we move and we have our being.

Many times we may gain success in life but we must remember who the praise goes to.  Without Him we could do nothing, without Him we would fail.  God allowed his grandfather to go through a terrible situation to bring him to the understanding that he needed God always.

Now Belshazzar is on the throne and he finds himself falling into the same trap that his grandfather fell into and he is terrified of what his happening.  One of the greatest mistakes in life we can make is not making mistakes but failing to learn from our mistakes or the mistakes of others.  

If we would learn from our mistakes we would not fall for the same trap that the enemy presents to us each time.  Many times we make the same mistakes because we are not paying attention to the consequences of others or even our own pain. We live for the moment like these men and we tend to think things won't happen to us like it happened to our predecessors. Yet if we look at the Bible it's amazing how history repeats itself.  The biggest mistake is not learning from our mistakes and the second half of that is our failure to keep God in the forefront of our lives. There comes a time when “the handwriting is in the wall” and we must deal with consequences.  

Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 1 Corinthians 10:5-6

Monday, May 27, 2024

Remembering the Sacrifices for Freedom

Monday, May 27, 2024

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.  1Corinthians 16:13

Remembering the Sacrifices for Freedom
Me·mo·ri·al Day: a noun – a day on which those who died in active military service are remembered, traditionally observed on May 30 but now officially observed on the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and the tradition came from the Civil War and a desire to honor our soldiers who passed away in the line of duty.  It was officially proclaimed by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, on May 5, 1868.  He proclaimed The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land…  May 30th was chosen because it was not the date of any particular battle. 

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael responded with a poem she wrote:
We cherish too, the Poppy red
 That grows on fields where valor led,
 It seems to signal to the skies
 That blood of heroes never dies.
She then began the tradition of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war.  Traditionally, the money earned by organizations who sell the red poppy boutonnieres goes to servicemen and Veterans in need. 

Reflections of Blessings
It has been said a million times, but bears repeating.  We often take for granted the gift of freedom and blessings of the life we live.  We have grown up here, without war raging around us and totalitarian government dictating every breath we take, yet we don’t realize how very blessed we are and that we have our military to thank for it. Men and women have sacrificed their lives so we can live free.
Jesus Christ also sacrificed His life for our freedom.  He fought a different battle for a different freedom; ultimate freedom.  Today we also reflect on His sacrifice and find hope only through Him.  Jesus told us, "Greater love has no man than this -- than to lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Jesus did just this.  He showed the Greatest Love to us in His death on the Cross yet He did not deserve to die -- He was not guilty of sin or guilty of any unrighteousness before God. What He did was amazing. 

 This Memorial Day, while you are enjoying BBQ and swimming pools with your family, take a moment to remember why you have the day off.  Take a moment and thank God for the blessings you have because of the people who sacrificed.  Take a moment and thank God that he gave His only son to be sacrificed so we could have freedom in Him and salvation from Sin.   

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.  One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.   Psalm 27:3-4

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Strongholds “Failure”


Strongholds
“Failure” 

Judges 31:1-16:30 (CSB)

Key Truth: “Eliminating obstacles to faith clears a pathway to live The Jesus Way.”

- Failure - “Lack of success; the omission of expected or required action; the action or state of not functioning.”

- Errors become mistakes when we perceive them and respond to them incorrectly. Mistakes become failures when we continually respond to them incorrectly.”- John Maxwell, Failing Forward, 13,18.

Main Question: How do we understand failure and navigate our way through the inevitable errors and mistakes that come our way? 

1.    Failure is unavoidable(Judges 13:1-25)


2.    Failure is a process(Judges 14:1-16:20)


3.    Failure is reversible. (Judges 16:21- 30)

- Ultimately, our worth is not determined by our errors, poor choices, and mistakes, but by our responses to them.

After the Message: Read James 1:12-15. What is the pattern of sin? How are we allured and enticed away from God? What is the result of our sin? Who is the blessed man in these verses? What, then, are we to do to defeat the temptations in our lives?

Friday, May 24, 2024

A Doxology Praising God for His Ability to Keep Us from Stumbling

Friday, May 24, 2024  

A Doxology Praising God for His Ability to Keep Us from Stumbling Jude 24–25 Submitted by Kay Crumley

What comes to mind with you hear the word doxology? For me it is a hymn of praise, one we sang many years ago, often ending a worship service. Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow Praise Him, all creatures here below Praise Him above, ye heavenly host Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost Amen. The definition is that it’s a short hymn of praise to God.  

Can you find Jude in the New Testament? It is the last epistle before Revelations. It is only 25 verses, so we don’t need chapter designation. That seems like there isn’t much to that book. I once did a study of Jude written by Jackie Hill Perry that is a seven-week study. There is a great deal more to that letter written by Jesus’ half-brother than is apparent on first observation. I encourage you to take the time to read that whole book and look for spiritual teachings that will challenge and encourage you.  

Jude opened with a greeting followed by the purpose of his letter. He wanted to write about the salvation all believers have but instead he states, ‘I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.Jude is imploring those reading his letter, that includes us, to contend for the faith, to earnestly debate against falsehoods. It is our responsibility to know and understand the gospel so that anytime we hear false teachings we can stand against that by arguing truth from scripture. How do false teachings get into our churches? Was it more common in the time Jude was writing than today? I don’t believe that is true. Jude explains that ungodly people have entered unnoticed into our churches. These are people who would alter or pervert the teachings of scripture. They even deny that God is our only Master. Don’t we hear teachings that suggest that we don’t really have to follow Jesus but just be good enough? Others seem to believe that accumulating material wealth is all that’s necessary. Some seem to suggest we can buy our way into heaven by sending money to the televangelist. Jude goes on by reminding his readers about God’s hand in destroying those who have refused to hear and believe using examples from the Old Testament. God is a God of Judgement and will bring armies of His holy ones to execute judgement to the ungodly. He describes these ungodly ones, in verse 16, as grumblers, malcontents, who follow their own sinful desires. We must be ready to fight against those who try to cause us to stumble, to fall into sinful patterns.  

Instead, we are to build our faith by keeping our first love for God first. The way to do that is to remember who Christ is, what He has taught, and how He sacrificed for us. Only by holding fast to the love of God can we please our Father. We do that through praying to and having faith in the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit will guide our hearts and minds to the truth. Jude implores us to have mercy on those who doubt so that we can save them ‘by snatching them out of the fire.’ Have you ever considered what sharing the gospel can do for those who hear and believe? Picture in you mind that one who repents, believes, and follows Jesus is being snatched out of the eternal fire of hell.  

Jude ends his letter with this doxology, two verses that praises God for who He is and what He can do.  

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 

25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. 

 

God alone though Jesus’ death and resurrection by the power of the Holy Spirit can keep us from stumbling. When one stumbles, he may fall or at least get off track. However, we stumble spiritually when we accept any teaching that is altered from the gospel of the Word of God. Because He keeps us from stumbling Jesus will bring us before God as blameless or sinless. That is only possible because we are washed in or covered by the blood of Jesus who was sinless and gave His life so we can be forgiven. Jesus presents us to His Father with great joy. That’s the reason to praise Him if I have ever heard one. Because of this, verse 25 lists who we are to praise: the only God, our Savior, Jesus our Lord. To Him alone is all glory, majesty, dominion (control), and authority. But that isn’t temporary, those are all His from the past and into the future, for infinity. Praise and worship belong to God. 

We are not able to be steadfast in our faith without God. He is the One who can make our path straight and help us to endure through all circumstances. The only way that will happen is that we follow Jesus, just at the first disciples did, we must live in Him every day of our lives. Praise God from Whom all blessing flow… Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen 

Devotional Archive