Category Archives: Devotional

Who Should I Fear?: Jesus Over Fear Series, Day 1, Luke 12:4–5

““I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

Luke 12:4–5, NIV

Who do you fear?

Do you fear that which brings death and disease?

Is your mind often filled with “what ifs”?

Do you have the proper perspective on death?

Jesus wants you to take your thoughts off of people (or by extension things) that could kill you. Instead, he wants to fear Almighty God, the only One who has the authority to “throw you into hell”.

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is needed as we face risk from a disease that can be deadly. A sense of God’s sovereignty and holiness is important as we navigate unfamiliar, stormy waters.

If you are a born-again child of God, you no longer need to fear death. Jesus died on the cross that you could be reconciled to our holy God and spend all eternity in heaven.

Psalm 27:1 says it this way-

The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1 (NKJV)

Jesus is our light and salvation. Trust in him today.

Prayer

Lord, free me from the fear of man, disease, accidents or any cause of death. Help me to put all my faith and trust in you. Amen.


Read, pray and then meditate on this word throughout the day.

For more background and context on this passage, consult an online commentary, study Bible or app using Bible Hub, Logos or Bible Gateway.

Faith of a baby robin

Sitting outside before the snow came back last week, I saw an amazing sight more close up than ever before. Newly hatched baby robins were in the nest with their mouths open to the sky, eagerly stretching to eat. A few thoughts came to my mind about how I should be like that baby robin.

What I noticed about the baby robins:

  1. Trust- mom will be back. Do I trust God even when he doesn’t seem immediately present?
  2. Eager- to eat nourishment- do I hunger and thirst after righteousness?
  3. Accepting- of what mom gave. Am I accepting of all that God gives me even if it isn’t what I asked for?
  4. Always hungry- mouths wide open, unashamed. Do I continue to want to grow in Christ and be fed from his Word often?
  5. Still- waiting patiently in the nest, waiting to receive. Have I taken time to be still and know that God is?
  6. The nest shakes as the branch sways but the baby birds don’t run off out of fear of falling. They don’t seem scared at all-only hungry lol. When the circumstances of my life get shaken up and things seem unstable, do I hold on to God?
  7. They don’t fear the hungry cats below- Do I fear my enemies or do I always remember that evil is defeated and God has not given me a spirit of fear?

I love how God speaks through his creation.

Dear Lord, make me more like the baby robin. Help me to fully trust you and seek you always. Amen.

Christian Response in Times of Fear- Part Two

The Commandments of Jesus

Spreading fear on social media or anywhere else puts you in direct contradiction with the commands of Jesus.

Do Not Fear

We are not to have a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7) so we definitely shouldn’t be sharing ideas about the future that cause fear. We are not to fear politicians, billionaires or experts who “may” do terrible things to us, restrict our freedom, or persecute us. We are to only fear “the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

Do Not Worry

Fearful posts are fueled by worry. What if…. or Let me warn you….. Worry is a sin. Jesus said do not worry about tomorrow. (Matthew 6:34)
Jesus said we change nothing by worrying.
He wants you to trust in his love and care. He said
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

Once you obey and stop worrying, you can encourage others to do the same. In this way you fulfill the Great Commission, teaching others to obey the commands of Jesus. (Matthew 28:20)

Love

Jesus said love ❤️ your neighbor. “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”” Mark 12:31
18% of the population, about 40 million adults, have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders. Many more suffer without being diagnosed. It is almost certain that someone reading your posts will already be quite anxious. Are you being a Good Samaritan, helping to heal their wounds or soothe their anxiety? Or are you spreading anxious perspectives with little thought of how the vulnerable may be affected?

Encourage One Another

The Bible has much to say as it addressed the early church about how believers were to help one another.

For every verse posted about fearing a possible future situation, how many have you posted to encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ?

You can share posts that encourage others to:

  • pray without ceasing
  • think on things that are lovely and true
  • keep their hearts ? and mind focused on Jesus
  • be content in all things
  • remember that God works all things together for good for those who love him
  • pray and ask God’s help in all things, with gratitude.

Prayer

Lord, help us resist the temptation to spread fear in this time of uncertainty and heightened anxiety. Guide us is spreading our knowledge of you and encouraging others to love ?, know and obey you. Help us take our eyes off of the future and fear and to focus on you and love ❤️ you with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength. Amen.

Christian Response in Times of Fear: Part One

This is the beginning of a series the Lord laid on my heart. How can Christians use times of fear to draw people to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

Let’s start with a brief overview and reminder of who we are in Christ.

We are called to:

-Show the world we are different because all our faith and hope is in Jesus (Hebrews 6:17-20) and eternal rewards.

-A life of sacrifice and taking up our cross daily (Luke 9:23). We are not to pursue our comfort here on earth. We are to witness to the power of Jesus, the love of God and the importance of giving over every part of our lives to God.

-Remember we were created by God for good works and to walk worthy of our calling. (Ephesians 2:10 , Colossians 1:10 ) God’s Word is clear that spreading fear is NOT a good work because a spirit of fear doesn’t come from God. ( 2 Timothy 1:7)

-To let our light shine so we will give glory to God. (Matthew 5:16) Times of fear are times are darkness and the world is more desperate than ever to see the light of Jesus through his people.

-To be a peculiar people (obviously distinct from the world), a royal priesthood for Jesus. (1 Peter 2:9) In this time when many are fearful and spreading fear it is good for us to be different and use our opportunity as peculiar people to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” as Peter tells us.

-To make it clear that earth is not our home (Hebrews 13:14) so people will ask about the hope we have within us (1 Peter 3:15). That hope within us is Jesus and in him alone we trust.

Conclusion: Who we are in Christ compels us to dispel fear instead of spreading it.

Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes

“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” (John 6:11, NIV)

Background and Setting

“Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” (John 6:1–13, NIV)

The Master’s Plan

After healing many, Jesus was followed by large crowds because of his miracles. He asks a provocative question of his disciple Philip. “How will we feed so many followers?” Sometimes, God asks you a stretch question, designed to get you to go beyond your comfort zone and what you know you can do. The question was based on Jesus knowing what HE was going to do because he has all power. Andrew, another disciple, dares to come to Jesus with a tiny amount of food that can not come close to feeding the crowd assembled. But did he have a mustard seed of faith that maybe, just maybe, Jesus could perform a miracle with a little bit of food? I think so.

Calm in the Midst of Crowds

In the behind-the-scenes with Jesus, tensions were mounting. What about this idea of feeding all these people? What good can the small amount of food from a small boy do? Meanwhile, the multitudes are waiting for Jesus to continue doing his miracles. In the midst of this, Jesus takes his time. He tells the crowd to sit down.

Jesus is in front of a large crowd of hungry people. The situation seems desperate. What will happen? The people are restless, the disciples are worried. But Jesus will not be rushed. He will do things decently and in order. Thanks must be given before the miracle occurs. Jesus will lead them in giving thanks to the One who provides their daily bread.

The text says that Jesus knew what he was going to do. He knew he was going to do a miracle and feed the 5,000. Again, moving patiently and methodically, Jesus gave thanks before he distributed the loaves that miraculously multiplied. He did the same before he distributed the fish. Jesus thanked God in faith for the miracle before it happened.

Jesus Our Example

Thankfulness for food may have been part of Jesus’ daily routine. Is it part of yours?

As you approach Thanksgiving Day, make sure to order your Thanksgiving Day celebration to make time to give thanks. Don’t rush it. Give all in attendance a chance to express their gratitude as well. God’s provision for us is miraculous. Take time to remember that every day, not just on Thanksgiving, each time you set down to eat of the food God provides for you.

It is God’s will that we be continually conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, each day becoming more like him. Christ was thankful. Pray that you become more thankful to the One who provides everything for your nourishment.

The Lord is the Great God

For the Lord is the great God,

the great King above all gods.

In his hand are the depths of the earth,

and the mountain peaks belong to him.

The sea is his, for he made it,

and his hands formed the dry land.

Psalm 95:3-5

Look around this beautiful earth that we live on and remember who created it and sustains it. There is no God like our God! None can compare and none even make the claims of our God.

Psalm 95:3-5 expresses the completeness of God’s power and creation in the way typical of ancient Hebrew poetry.

The first two lines, a couplet, are the background and explanation for the following two couplets. Because the “Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.”, everything is made by him and belongs to him.

The next two couplets explain the breadth of God’s power and possessions. Just as in English we say “From A to Z” to explain something that is comprehensive, so these verses beautifully describe God. The verses are repeating the fact that God created everything but using different examples.

Both the “depths of the earth” and “mountain peaks belong to him.” So too “the sea is his” and “his hands formed the dry land”.

What does this mean for your everyday life? The God who is above all things and created all things has the power to intervene in your life. Whatever problem you are facing, God can create a solution for you.

Knowing that you are loved and forgiven by the Ruler of all brings freedom, peace and joy. So no matter the trials of your life, keep praising God and his power to rescue you.

Praise to a Great God

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.

One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.

Psalm 145:3-4

God you are great! You are everything and everywhere, all-powerful. This makes you alone worthy of great praise.

I must tell others of all you have done and all you have created. Future generations must learn of you, my great God! You have done so much for me!

Return Good for Evil- Joseph

In the book of Genesis is found the story of a dreamer with a multi-colored coat, Joseph. Favored by his father Jacob, Joseph was despised by his brothers. They resented him and his dreams.

Betrayal

Blinded by emotion, Joseph’s brothers sold him into bondage. Joseph was separated from his land and his family by his captors. His beloved father was overcome with grief thinking that his favorite son was dead. Joseph’s brothers became his enemies who did unthinkable evil to him.

Provision for Traitors

How did Joseph, a man of God, re-pay this horrible mistreatment? Joseph made sure that in the time of famine these very same brothers had enough for themselves and their families to eat. He settled them in a land of plenty and welcomed them into his royal palace.

Joseph had the power to destroy his brothers. He could’ve ignored their needs. Instead he chose to lavish kindness on them in exchange for the hatred they showed to him.

The Final Reckoning

But was kind to his brothers only to avoid further hurting his elderly father? This was the question that nagged at the brothers as they received Joseph’s kindness. Once Jacob the patriarch died, the depth of Joseph’s forgiveness would be seen. What would Joseph do to his brothers then? It is at this time that Joseph says these words:

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:15

The story of Joseph is recorded as an example of one who repaid evil with kindness. This principle is repeated throughout the Bible and will later be codified in Mosaic law and the teachings of Jesus. God wants us to learn how to react to the evil we are sure to encounter.

Looking Forward

In Joseph is a type of Christ. Both were betrayed for money, without just cause. Both forgave and returned good for the evil given to them. The suffering of both led to the saving of lives. Joseph is a foreshadowing of the glorious suffering of Christ that led to the salvation of all the world!

Exercise:

Ask God to show you how you can return good for the evil done to you.


Going Further: In-Depth Exercises for Bible Teachers

  1. (Often when Joseph is taught God’s favor is the focus. Remember and teach that God’s favor was seen in the midst of the heartbreaking suffering Joseph endured. Encourage your students to feel the depth of the brothers’ rage and the extent of Joseph’s pain in these first few exercises.) Read the text of Joseph’s brothers betrayal of him. (Genesis 37:12-36) List all the consequences Joseph immediately faced as a result.
  2. If you were in a similar situation, list the emotions you would have felt at the time of the betrayal.
  3. Who else was directly affected and saddened by Joseph being sold away to travelers? How do you think Joseph felt about this? How did the brothers feel about this?
  4. Read Genesis 39 and Genesis 40:33 for more of the personal consequences Joseph faced later in his life because he was a slave in a strange land due to his brothers’ treachery.
  5. Read over the story of Joseph then read the story of Jesus’ betrayal, suffering and crucifixion. Make a list of all the similarities you see. Then read a commentary comparing Joseph to Christ. (Like H.A. Ironside’s Care for God’s Fruit-trees and Other Messages or Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament) Encourage your students to find Christ each time they read the Old Testament.
  6. How can you help your students put their enemies in perspective using the story of Joseph? Do you think that doing so may give them hope?

Exceeding Expectations: The Choice of the Father in the Prodigal Son Story

Exceeding Expectations: The Choice of the Father in the Prodigal Son Story

“Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”” (Luke 15:11–32, NIV)

The Prodigal Son left home with his share of his inheritance from his father. He wastes his money, the land he fled to is hit with famine and he is desperate. His need blinds him so much that he forgets who he is- a Hebrew, loved and kept by the God of Abraham. He is part of a people consecrated to God. As such, he is to avoid pigs. God commands this of his people. But his sins of greed and selfishness have hidden his true identity from him. He is no longer a beloved child of God and a member of a set-apart people but a penniless, hungry stranger in a strange land.

In the midst of his despair, God in his mercy makes the son “come to himself” (or “come to his senses) and remember who he belongs to and where he should be. It is a work of God when one is bought into a right mind. Jesus did this miracle for the man possessed by legions of demons. (Mark 5:15) Humbled but with a growing remembrance of who he is, he sets out for the home he never should have left. What did he expect to find when he returned? The text said he thought that his father would receive him and treat him as a servant. But there were other options.

4 possible responses of the father:

  1. Turn the son away. “You left, so stay gone.” Interesting that the son didn’t even consider this. He must have known the compassion and kindness of his father. Such knowledge makes the demand of his inheritance early even worse. This must have been in his mind as he came to himself. What a wretch he was to be so cruel to a loving father! We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) You deserve God’s anger. (Ephesians 2:3) God could turn his back on you because of your sin. Why doesn’t he?
  2. Allow the son to come back but to work and live like a servant to repay what he took from the father and wasted. The son would get the opportunity to work for his forgiveness. We often feel we need to work for forgiveness. The problem is we can not do enough work to make up for how bad our sin is in light of how holy God is. Our only hope is to throw ourselves at his mercy and rely on him, not ourselves.
  3. Allow the son to come back and live without repayment but not as a full member of the household. The son would be partially restored but not back in full fellowship. He would be more than a servant but less than a son. The Prodigal Son recognized what a privilege it was to be called “son”. He did not feel he deserved that. He didn’t live up to the name “son”. He wrongfully took money from his father and violated the teachings his father gave him by dwelling with pigs.
  4. Eagerly and joyfully welcome the son back as a full member of the household plus repay his foolish deeds with fresh clothes, a feast and a party in his honor. Such unexpected behavior echoes the sacrifices Israelites were commanded to give for their sin in Exodus. Temple sacrifices were like a joyous barbecue. The animals were roasted and eaten in fellowship with the community to celebrate God’s mercy and love of his sinful people who returned to him in humility. The restored Israelites could go back to their homes feeling free from sin and cleansed, joyful and grateful to their God.

Out of these options, the father in Jesus’ story chose only one.

As Jesus told this story the first time, which option do you think the original audience expected to hear? What would you think the outcome would be if you were there? If you heard a story like this today, how would you expect the father to react?

Why did Jesus include the story about the other son at the end? Jesus knew what was in the mind and hearts of the original listeners. He knew the words and attitudes of the son who stayed home reflected what his followers were thinking. He needed to address those heart attitudes to make his point clear. God is most pleased and abundantly merciful to those who humble themselves before him, no matter the sin.

God provides for you. He gives you so much every day. Have you ever wasted what God gave you, like time, talent or treasure? Have you ever been ungrateful for God’s provision and forgotten that he was your source? Have you left God and gone so far away from him that you found yourself deep in sin, unclean before your holy God? If so, you probably feel unworthy and unable to go back to your former beloved status.

But if in humility you go to your Heavenly Father, you will find him waiting for you with open arms of mercy and love. He celebrates your return. (Luke 15:7) It means more to him than you could imagine. Rejoice, knowing that you are loved by a Heavenly Father of abundance. He delights to do above and beyond what you can imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

He sent his Son Jesus to earth that we would have life with abundance. (John 10:10) His love for you is so great that nothing can overcome it. (Romans 8:35-3) He will supply all of your needs according to his riches in glory. (Philippians 4:19) And he knows that your greatest needs are for grace, love and forgiveness. He is faithful and just to forgive your sins and cleanse you from unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Any sin puts you on a path away from God like the Prodigal Son. Go to God in prayer today. Find forgiveness for sin and be restored to full relationship with your Heavenly Father.

Overcoming Fear

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

God frequently reminds his children not to fear. But fear is a common enemy, a part of every day life for many people even today. Is there a way to get through fear? Yes, there is and the answer is a theological one. Understanding who God is and what he does is the key.

If God is who he says he is and does what he says he does for his people, you have the power to gain victory over fear. God’s people can’t do God’s work if they are paralyzed by fear. Isaiah 41:10 reminds you not to fear. It gives two reasons not to fear and three ways God helps you in times of trouble.

You will overcome, in Jesus’ name. Isaiah 41:10 is packed with reasons for courageous hope. Meditate on it in times of fear.

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, gives two reasons not to fear.

  1. God is with you. God’s mighty presence is always with you to comfort you. Often, the scariest thing about going through a trial is feeling that you are going through it alone. As a child of God, you are never alone. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8) Have faith in the presence of God in your life no matter what you are going through. God sees and he cares.(Exodus 3:7) And he works everything out for your good. (Romans 8:28)
  2. God is your Creator and the guide and guard of your life. He is your protective Father. He guides you as the Lord and master of your life. “I am your God”- these soothing words are rich with the love of a father for his children. How marvelous to have the courage of a child of God! Your God implies a personal, close relationship. Love the Lord your God

Next, Isaiah 41:10 states three ways God helps you overcome anything you fear. He will:

  1. Strengthen you. When you are weak, he is strong. God strengthens you physically and spiritually. He gives a supernatural strength at times when you feel you can’t go on. Calling on God will make you run and not get weary. (Isaiah 40:31)
  2. Help you. This Hebrew word, ezer, is the same one used to refer to Eve as Adam’s help meet or helper. In all but one other use in the Bible, is refers either to God or to military allies. Ezer comes from two root words- one means to rescue or save and the other means to be strong. From this word, used 16 times to describe God’s dealings with his people, we learn important characteristics of God. In the New Testament, Jesus promises a helper, parakletos, will come after he is gone. God has the power to help you in every way and he will!
  3. Hold you up- When you feel like falling and the storms of life threaten to knock you down, God’s powerful hand will hold you up. When you feel weak, he is strong.

Call on God, remembering his strength and promises, so fear doesn’t overwhelm you.

Light vs. Darkness- Find Your Victory in Christ

Feeling overwhelmed by all the darkness in the world you see on the news? Or are you battling darkness close to home, in your family, workplace or neighborhood?

You can resist darkness and thrive. How? First, remember the truth that Jesus overcame the powers of darkness. No matter how things look, darkness is defeated through Jesus. The worse thing the evil of darkness can do to you is to kill you and that will just send you into the arms of Jesus. The devil can not win! Here are additional tips to keep you from feeling overwhelmed by the powers of darkness.

  1. Keep your light shining bright by fueling it with God’s Word. Regular prayer seeking God’s guidance along with Bible reading will nourish you and keep your Holy Spirit flame burning brightly so that all may see it. (Psalm 119:130)
  2. Praying and sharing with other Christians is like pouring spiritual lighter fluid on the flame of Jesus within you. As Paul laid hands on Timothy to stir up his gifts, so we need others to cause our light to shine brightly enough to overcome any darkness. (2 Timothy 1:6)
  3. Keep your life free from the power of sin by realizing that you have the righteousness of Christ and confess sin to God immediately. Your light can not shine brightly if you allow sinful behavior, thoughts or attitudes to continue unchecked in your life. (1 John 1:9)

There are times when darkness can feel threatening and overwhelming. Rest in the truth of God’s Word-darkness can’t overtake those who follow Jesus. Walk closely with Jesus and his people to shine brightly in darkness.

This week, look up and meditate on Psalm 119:130, 2 Timothy 1:6 and 1 John 1:9.

Separation: Light and Darkness

Light and darkness cannot have fellowship.

Would you like to grow closer to Jesus and lead the abundant life he has for you? You must understand who you are (identity) and who God is (theology). God’s Word teaches what we need to know. An important biblical concept is separation, the basis of holiness. One far-reaching theme God reveals is light separated from darkness. Learn how understanding the separation of light from darkness establishes who you are in Christ and shows you the nature of God.

Study three verses from the Bible and learn God’s plan for separating light from darkness in your life.

In the beginning of the Bible, after creating earth and light in Genesis 1:1-3, God SEPARATED the light from the darkness.

“God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1:4)

The first time light came to earth, it was removed from the darkness. God’s creative power was not only able to separate but to continue to keep light and dark separated through all seasons and situations. God will help you maintain your separation from the darkness of evil and sin in this world as you journey with him. He does this through his Son, Jesus.

Jesus, your salvation, came to bring light to earth. The choice to follow Jesus means going into the light and leaving darkness behind.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” (John 8:12).

It is the grace of God that gives you the power to take up your cross and follow Jesus. And it is God’s keeping power that will not let anyone or anything take you away from him (John 10:29). How? He gives you wisdom to guide your behavior and the ability to obey.

 

So how will you stay in the light? What does God teach? The Bible uses the metaphor of a yoke to describe learning from another by walking closely with him. God’s Word describes who you should be yoked with to walk in the light. It also instructs whose yoke you should avoid. Connection is followed by separation. Separation determines direction. You will have to choose because you can’t go in two directions at once (Luke 16:13).

To whom should you be yoked? First, God calls those who are his to remain in the light by joining with others in the light. Jesus’ final discourse to his apostles taught the importance of unity among believers (John 17:20-23). Jesus knew that the power of his followers to live out his commandments would come from unity. By loving one another, believers will draw others to become disciples of Jesus (John 13:35). Jesus wants believers to walk together, be yoked together, as one.

Jesus also wants you to be yoked with him, to walk beside him so you will learn his ways (Matthew 11:29). You are to walk in one accord with Jesus and others who love and follow him. In this way, you stay in the light.

Can you walk in the light with Jesus and his followers and in the darkness at the same time? No, you can’t. So the final verse today is a warning about who NOT to join with, who to separate from.

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

God knows what’s best for you. He gives discernment to keep you in the light, separated from darkness. Pray for wisdom about who and what you need to separate from to walk in the light with Jesus.

God Protects You From Evil

Evil spirits can’t rest in the presence of Christ.

Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!”

Mark 1: 23-25

This story describes a guy sitting in the synagogue, looking like any other devout religious man of the time. (You must recognize that those being controlled by any type of evil spirit can look just as normal as you do. They may even appear to worship God.)

But this man is different and Jesus knows it. Jesus is not surprised by evil. You shouldn’t be either. Jesus comes in and the impure, evil spirit made it’s presence known publicly. The evil spirit recognizes Jesus. It knows that Jesus has the power to destroy it and the man he possesses. Jesus doesn’t answer his questions but commands him to come out.

Why didn’t the impure spirit keep quiet? Why did it make itself known? Because evil is restless in the presence of Jesus. It has to go. When Jesus is inside of you, some will reject you. They can not be around you. Their spirit can not rest when your spirit is around. Jesus is too powerful. Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

Jesus protects you. So when someone who is not walking with God gets taken out of your life, don’t fight God about it. It will be for your good.

Escape the Bondage of Your Past

As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and there were the Egyptians coming after them! The Israelites were terrified and cried out to the Lord for help. (Exodus 14:10)

God bought you out of bondage. He set you free from everything in your past that enslaved you. Sometimes, after experiencing this freedom for a while, you feel your past creeping up on you. You thought you defeated the old enemy of a certain attitude, behavior or belief, but there he is right behind you. What do you do? Do you look for help? If you do, who do you look to?

The Israelites had been freed from slavery in Egypt after God inflicted their captors with a series of plagues. The Israelites watched as the mighty hand of God spared them but not the Egyptians. Full of joy, courage and boldness, the Israelites confidently marched away from the land of captivity toward the land of plenty promised by God. But what happened? God caused the Egyptians to go after the Israelites so that his power and glory would be seen. The boldness of the fleeing people of Israel turned into terror as the Egyptians came close to overtaking them. They had a few choices at this point.


They could:

  1. Stop, admit defeat and go back to Egypt with their captors
  2. Perish in the Red Sea to avoid going back to a life of slavery
  3. Cry out to God and see what he would do

They chose the latter. They cried out to God for him to continue his deliverance. They cried out to God trusting that he would not let them go back into bondage. They cried out to God knowing he had not bought them so far only to leave them.

When you feel a formerly defeated enemy coming upon you, intending to overtake you and bring you back into bondage, look in faith to God for his rescue plan. He will never leave you or forsake you. He didn’t bring you this far to leave you. You may not be all you want to be but you are more than used to be. Purpose in your heart that you will not give up any ground to the enemy because your God is an awesome Creator God.

So say like the psalmist, “I lift up my eyes to the hills.

From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

And remember that Jesus came and permanently defeated the enemy for all who believe in and follow him.

Related readings to meditate this week- Exodus Chapter 14, Psalm 121, Colossians 1:13, Titus 2:14, Luke 13:16

Spring Cleaning- A New You Spring Bible Challenge Day 5

Three promises from God’s Word about renewal to encourage you

Are you ready for a change? Spring is a good time to take stock of what you have, decide what you need to get rid of and replace or repair broken things that are no longer useful. It is good to do this not only for your home but for your heart. God wants to give you a fresh perspective and a new beginning no matter where you are right now. God offers you the chance to break free from the troubling things from of your past. He is the source of long-lasting, authentic,  renewal and restoration through Jesus Christ.

Because of his great love for you, God wants you to move forward and grow into the new thing he has for you. Without understanding God’s plan to do a new thing, it is hard to have hope. You may feel stuck in your old ways, old mindsets and old attitudes. You may ask yourself if you will ever change. God’s promises in the Bible give you hope. You can break free and do a new thing through the power of the Holy Spirit!

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, any time is time for a spiritual spring cleaning. Are there attitudes and behaviors you need to ask God to remove from your life? He wants to help you through the work of the Holy Spirit. He left the Holy Spirit here for to teach and guide you in the way you should go- forward!

Throughout the Bible, we see the arc of the theme of God’s plan of renewal. From the Old Testament to Revelation, learn that God is a God of new things and he wants to make you new too.

Let’s look at 3 verses about God as a newness-maker.

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11:19, NIV)

God will give you a new heart of flesh, a heart focused only on him. What does this mean? Sometimes, human hearts grow cold. You grow cold towards God and man. You neglect to thank and praise God for all he does for you. Your affections turn towards other desires instead of wanting to spend time with God. God knows your human condition just as he knew the condition of the Israelites in the time of Ezekiel. If you are willing, he offers to soften your heart and turn it back towards him.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

You are a new creation. Do you believe that? That is who God says you are through his word. But what about those stubborn habits you can’t break, the bad attitudes you want to get rid of? You must persevere and believe that God will follow through on his promise and bring everything to completion that he promises. Resist the lies of the devil as he tells you that you aren’t really new, you will never change and any changes you made will go away.

Through prayer and meditating on God’s Word that you are a new creation, you can change. Remember who you used to be and thank God for how far he bought you so far. Thank him in advance for how he will continue to conform you to the image of Christ.

“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”” (Revelation 21:5, NIV)

At the end of the age, God promises complete newness of all things for every believer. Jesus is coming back and instead of being new creations in an old fallen earth, you will enjoy being a new creation in a new heaven and earth. How exciting! You have a new world to look forward to that is perfect. You will spend all of eternity in this new, splendid place thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross! Thank you Jesus!

Application

It’s never too late to start anew. God makes a fresh spring season each year and he can give you a new heart too. Spend time this spring committing to refresh your connection to Jesus through his word.

Celebrate as you meditate on these verses about God making a new you!

  1. Copy today’s verses either on paper or type them into your phone or computer.
  2. Read and re-read them at least 3 times.
  3. Choose one to memorize:

Isaiah 58:12, Isaiah 40:31, Lamentations 3:22-23, Isaiah 42:10

Look for Rainbows Spring Bible Challenge Day 4

Rainbows serve as a kind of bookends for the entire Bible. In Genesis, God establishes himself as a covenant-keeping God, loving and faithful. In Revelation, we see the fullness of God’s glory accompanied by a rainbow. In between these two, we see the glory of God accompanied by a rainbow as Ezekiel sees the glory of God.

Let’s look at these examples of rainbows in the Bible.

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Genesis 9:12-13

God wanted Noah to know that he would never again destroy all life on earth. The rainbow was to be a reminder of the special trust relationship between God and his people.

We read of the prophet Ezekiel seeing God with a radiance around him like a rainbow.

Ezekiel 1:28 (NIV): Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.

This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. It happened when Ezekiel was appointed and commissioned as a prophet. God was promising to give Ezekiel the words he needed.

And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. Revelation 4:3

At the end of the age, God will create a new heaven and earth for his people. You know you can believe that he will.

Mike Shreve, in his excellent article about rainbows, reports an inspiring fact about them. His father, a pilot, reports that a rainbow seen from above is often a complete circle not a semicircle. This makes me think of the completeness of God’s promises. He will never leave anything undone. He brings everything to completion.

It also confirms a truth seen in the Revelation verse above. The rainbow is said to be “around”, just as we know it looks from above.

Our God is a covenant-keeping God. He is loyal, faithful and loving and will not stop being that way. He keeps his word and he can not lie. He is also the same today as yesterday. This promise of love and kindness is for you. When you see a rainbow, let it remind you of God’s faithfulness. He will bring his purposes to all people.

Whenever you can, stop and take the time to meditate on a rainbow. Let the rainbow of fill you with praise and reverence for the God of glory who created it.