Welcome To Daily In Christ Devotionals

Psalm 119:10-11 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not
wander from your commandments! I have stored up your
word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fear Him Who Can Sendeth To Hell

Let's play a little game... When I say God, you say ... Love. God is love. We learn this very early on in our Christian walk and it is the glue that bonds us to the Savior. One of the first scriptures a new believer memorizes is John 3:16; "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." The love of God is preeminent in the life of a Christian and should dictate everything we do. So knowing this amazing truth, where does fear fit into the equation?

In the tenth chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus is with His twelve disciples giving them many instructions. He tells them to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and make disciples. Jesus says to preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand and instructs them to heal the sick and raise the dead. And he also tells them to not fear those who can kill the body but rather fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. (Mat 10:28)

It is not the schemes and attacks of man we are to fear, but we are to fear God himself. The one who can rightly punish us for our transgressions and cast out the sinner for all of eternity apart from Him. Why would a loving and merciful Savior tell his disciples to fear him? Isn't that like telling your child, "I love you son but remember one thing, I brought you into this world and I can take you out!"

To fear God is to have a deep respect and understanding of His holiness and grace. When we come to terms with our sinful condition and that we are not able to stand in His presence because of it, the fear of the wrath of God should motivate us to cry out to Him to save us. Some people say that fear is the great motivator. Others believe that motivation through fear is abuse and only positive things should motivate us. Regardless of your world view on the subject, one thing remains... Jesus tells us to fear the Lord.

John Bunyan puts it this way. "Christian, let God's distinguishing love to you be a motive to you to fear Him greatly. He has put His fear in your heart, and may not have given that blessing to your neighbor, perhaps not to your husband, your wife, your child, or your parent. Oh, what an obligation should this thought lay upon your heart to greatly fear the Lord! Remember also that this fear of the Lord is His treasure, a choice jewel, given only to favorites, and to those who are greatly beloved."

The fear of God is not something that should cause us to run from Him and hide, but rather, draw us closer to Him for protection. Moses tells the people of Israel that "God came in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin." (Exo 20:20) And second Corinthians tells us (2Co 7:1) Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

The fear of the Lord should motivate our lives. It keeps us from sin, it gives us a reverence for His holiness, and the fear of the Lord puts God back where He belongs in our life; into the center of it. God's perfect love is countered with His perfect justice and when He calls us into relationship with Him we avoid the wrath we deserve because of the justification we have in Jesus Christ. Live rightly before Him and fear Him and you will be counted worthy of the promise of Heaven.

Mat 10:28-32 "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. "So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. (nasb)

Friday, February 26, 2010

When All Hell Breaks Loose

Hab 3:17-19 Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds' feet, And makes me walk on my high places. (nasb)

A common phrase I remember hearing many times in my life was, "when all hell breaks loose." Does it ever feel like all of hell has broken loose in your life and everything seems to be chaos wherever you turn?

Every time I read the local and world news I see the effects of calamity all around us. Father's killing their children, natural disasters such as the horrendous devastation we have seen in the country of Haiti and to its people, and the seemingly relentless famine throughout the world. It is very easy to get caught up in all the devastation and turmoil as we go through each and every day and become distracted from the joy of the Lord.

These verses in chapter three of the book of Habakkuk offer us a different perspective to the subject of turmoil and difficulty in our life. Rather than allowing our difficult circumstances to cause us to question the existence of a mighty God, we shall exult and rejoice in Him during these times. Exultation during times of suffering is quite foreign in our culture. We have been so programmed to think that God is there to make our life full of joy and happiness by eliminating hardship rather than walking along side of us during it. We often forget that the entire Bible is filled with men and women of God who, during much turmoil in their life, continue to give their exultation to the Lord.

To exult means to find extreme happiness or elation. To be jubilant and full of rejoicing. To exult in something reminds me of the phrase to "leap for joy." All of the great suffering aside, there are so many little things that also seem to steal our joy and cause us to blame God and completely put aside rejoicing. Conflicts at work, difficulties in our marriage or with our children, even a long line of traffic sometimes gets us to be negative and frustrated. I am guilty myself of being frustrated many times throughout the day in little things that mean absolutely nothing but steal my joy of the Lord and cause me to grumble rather than exult in the Lord.

So, how do we exult in the Lord daily even when it seems difficult to find God, let alone rejoice in Him?

Rom 5:1-5 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (nasb)

The first step I believe is to have peace with God. Romans 5:1 says having been justified by faith we have peace with God. If we truly understand our sinful condition before a righteous and holy God and know the grace that He shows us by justifying us through Christ, the natural response is to rejoice in Him. Through faith alone God has justified us. He has made us holy and blameless before Him and we now are able to come into his presence forgiven and righteous ourselves because of the cross. Because of this we exult in Him. Now, onto tribulations and difficulties...

When our heart is focused on Him and on our righteousness that has been granted to us through faith, we are able to see tribulation as a way to strengthen our faith in Him rather than detract from it. Tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance proven character, and proven character hope... The thing that most defines a believer in Christ from one who does not believe is hope. There is hope for the followers of Christ. Hope in things present and things to come. Hope that God is good and will prosper us. Hope that He will turn all things to good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Hope that we have an inheritance in Him for a future glory that we haven't seen yet. Hope, hope, hope. Without the hope in God we are almost certain to find the daily frustrations, the natural disasters, and the increased famine and hardships as hopeless.

God doesn't promise us that our cupboards will be full, that our bank account will have money in it, or that we will live to be a ripe old age. But he does promise us that He will always be with us, (Deut 31:6), that he will provide for all that we need, (Phil 4:18-19), and that He will fill us with joy and peace so that we will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:13)

God is good, period. But in order to bathe in His goodness when we get completely frustrated and all of hell seems to be breaking loose around us, we need to make Him the most important thing in our life. I pray that you ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit today and give you a heart of exultation to Him that results in His glorious praise. Peace doesn't occur because of our efforts, but because He grants us the Holy Spirit in our lives to give us the strength to make it happen.

Rely on His strength to do a good work in your life and turn your heart and praise to Him.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

God Wants More Than A Tweet

Psa 1:1-3 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. (nasb)

We are living in such a tag line society these days. What I mean by that is that the average attention span seems to be a matter of minutes or even seconds. Capture me instantly or I will move onto something else.

While having dinner with a friend the other night, we were discussing what we believed could be some serious consequences of this new generational thought. Even in the Christian world we are getting caught up in the one-minute Bible studies, short snippets of messages sent to your cell phone, and very "culture relevant" devotionals that seem to leave God out and pop culture has become the main topic. Please don't get me wrong, I am a huge technology guy and I love the way God can be glorified in numerous ways through this media. But it concerns me that we are falling into the trap of the world and simplifying the message of the gospel to fit our hectic lifestyles. There is a place in our Christian walk for reading a quick tweet or a short message from a Facebook status update. I subscribe to a few myself and get snippets of God's word numerous times throughout the day and enjoy it very much.

So how does all this fit into what the Bible says about our responsibility to seek Him? Psalm 1:2 tells us that a man's delight is in the law of the Lord and he meditates on it day and night. When I read a verse like this a couple things come to mind for me. First, what does it mean for me to delight in the law of the Lord? And second, define meditate.

Psa 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. (nasb)

To delight in something means to find extreme satisfaction in a certain person or thing. Imagine if you will for a moment a place that you have been in your life that was beyond words. I can remember a time when I was around 16 years old and I went to Hawaii. As we were flying high over the little island of Maui I remember the vivid colors of the ocean and the amazing hills that seemed to be never ending. The sky was crystal clear and I really thought as I gazed upon His glory that I could see forever. I was in total amazement of God's creation and was completely delighted to be there at that moment. Shear delight in fact!

God tells us that when we delight in Him he will give us the desires of our heart. When we find our complete satisfaction in Jesus rather than a football game on TV or a mystery novel, He will fill us more than we could ever imagine. But in order to delight in Christ we need to change how we live. Put the remote on the shelf, slow down our hectic lives filled with movies, and entertainment, and a whole lot of nothing and begin taking time to meditate on His law.

Psa 119:97 O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. (nasb)

Time after time the Bible tells us to meditate day and night on the Word of God. This means to focus our complete attention on Him and study and contemplate over the truths we hear and learn. We meditate on this great Book so we can can be careful to do all that is written in it. When we live by the power of the Holy Spirit and meditate on the Word of God we will be fulfilled. It is a simple equation really. Delight in the Lord, meditate on His word day and night, do all that is written in it, and our way will be prosperous and we will have success... (That is an entire writing in and of itself...)

Jos 1:8 "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. (nasb)

Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

So, where are you at today? Are you finding the Word of God a delight to your soul? Do you meditate on it day and night or are you satisfied with a little tweet here and there in you life? I encourage you today to develop a plan to dive into the Word of God. When you open up and discover the amazing truths that He affords us, I promise you, it will delight your heart and your soul...

Lord, help me to find all of my pleasure in you. Give me the commitment and desire to seek you before I turn on the television or fill my time with many of the other distractions that I have placed around me. I want my delight to be in you and your Word.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

This Is The Day That The Lord Has Made

Psa 118:24 This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Today is another day that has been given to me by the Lord. Therefore, I will rejoice. Often I fill my days with so many things that I forget to take time to rejoice.

Lord, please help me to remember to look to you every day and to rejoice and be glad. In spite of the many trials that may occur, I will look up to you and lift my hands in thanksgiving and praise. You made the heavens and the earth. You have saved me from eternal separation from you. You have called me to a greater purpose outside of my own selfish desires. You are a loving and caring God who sent your son to die for my sin. You show me grace and mercy and love each day... I will rejoice.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Till Death Do Us Part... Part Four - Forgiveness

In my last post regarding marriage, Till Death Do Us Part... Part Three, I highlighted what I felt were the five key elements to keeping a marriage in tact and fruitful.

Forgive - Love - Trust - Endure Hardship - Submit

Forgiveness is the first key to unlocking a healthy and happy marriage. One of the problems I discovered shortly after writing Part Three was that all five keys to a healthy and happy marriage involved doing something. Bearing fruit so to speak. Forgiving one another, loving one another, trusting each others motives, enduring, and submitting to the needs of each other. Action, action, action. So my conflict came when I asked myself the question, "what happens when we don't feel like springing into action in our marriage and it takes too darn much effort to keep on doing?"

In this posting I want to work on tackling this question and deal with the first key; forgiveness. Jesus tells us in the book of John to abide in him. A branch can not bear fruit unless it abides in the vine.

Joh 15:4-5 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (esv)

Bearing the fruit of forgiveness in a marriage can only be accomplished when we abide in Jesus. There is no amount of willpower that can sustain us while we are going through difficult times in our marriage like being in Christ can. The New Believer's Bible Glossary defines it this way. "Abide - To remain consistently in fellowship with God by maintaining a close relationship with Jesus Christ." Therefore, for us to "do" all the things we need to do to keep our marriage healthy and happy, we need to first be one who abides. To abide in Jesus means that we need to know him. We need to spend time in His Word daily learning what it means to be like Him. A disciple is one who follows the ways of his teacher and since Jesus is our teacher we need to know everything we can about His character. In order to forgive like Jesus we need to be like Jesus.

Php 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

But sometimes forgiveness is quite difficult. What happens when a spouse has done something so terrible that forgiveness doesn't seem possible? Philippians 4:13 tells us we can do all things through Him who strengthens us. Not some, or a few, but all things...even forgiveness. As challenging as it may be, forgiveness is more for the forgiver than the receiver. One of the things we should remember is that we too have offended and need to be forgiven. All too often we get caught up in the fact that our spouse has done something to hurt us all the while we may be doing things to hurt them as well.

Luke states it so well, Luke 6:36-38 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you."

Forgiveness can be kind of tricky however. It doesn't mean that a person subjects themselves to neglect or abuse, nor does it mean that we are a door mat and allow our spouse to take advantage of our forgiving heart by walking all over us. What it does mean is that we lead like Jesus in our marriage and take the first step towards reconciliation when there has been offenses one to another. And a special message to men... Be the first one to reconcile in your marriage! If Jesus came down to your house and wanted to have a conversation with you and your wife regarding your marriage, I believe it would start somewhat like when God came to Adam and Eve in the garden. Remember what he said? It was something like this, "Adam, where are you?" (Gen 3:9)

So here it is in a nutshell. Abide in Christ daily so we can learn to be like Him so that we can forgive our spouse and when we are offended try to be the first to reconcile... whew!

Lord please forgive me when I offend my spouse. Forgiveness is about changing my heart so I pray Lord that I will be quick to forgive and that you will give me the time, energy, and wisdom to seek you daily. I want to be more like you.

Are You Prepared?

Have you ever rushed into a public restroom only to find that every stall was missing an essential item? Yep, that's right... toilet paper! I remember being in a small group back some 25 years ago and a silver haired widow shared wisdom as to how to avoid this unfortunate situation. As she opened her purse and began pulling out a small pack of tissue she informed the group, "I always carry around this small package of tissue so I never have to worry if there will be the necessary items in the bathroom stalls."

There is a lot to be said about being prepared. But can we really be prepared for everything? Sometimes life deals us a hand that we just weren't expecting. How do you deal with it when you lose a small child to cancer, or a spouse to a tragic accident? How does one prepare for corporate downsizing, losing your ability to provide for your family, or finding out your son or daughter has an addiction to drugs? There are some things in life that are out of our control and no amount of planning and preparation will keep us from experiencing the pain associated with difficulties.

1Pet 1:6-9 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Peter instructs us that our faith will be tested through various trials we encounter and to rejoice over them. In fact, they should result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. And eventually the outcome of our tested faith, being refined like gold in the fire, is the salvation of our souls. Rejoice? How are we supposed to rejoice during our trials? Well, that is another devotional (see trials for more). What I want to talk about here is being prepared...

There are two things in life I know we can be certain of. (No, not death and taxes) We can be certain that life is filled with uncertainties, and we can be certain where we will spend eternity. I know that we can not prepare for every uncertainty that comes our way, but I do know that we can prepare for where we will spend eternity.

Jesus wants to be in a relationship with us for all of eternity. Our relationship doesn't start when we die, it begins right here on earth. Right now. So how do I prepare for eternal living with God?

Joh 14:23 Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

Many people understand being right with God and preparing for eternity to be about doing good things. If I do enough good, and God is pleased with my good, then I will go to Heaven and be with Him in all eternity. Unfortunately there is a problem with this type of thinking. Paul tells us in Romans 3 "as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." So we can't prepare for eternity by "doing" good. Keeping His word is important and doing good does display evidence of our faith, but the good we do doesn't save us.

Being prepared for our eternity is about being in relationship with Christ and not about doing good things. Confessing and repenting from our sins, believing in Jesus as the only way to God, and walking daily in the instruction of His word.

Are you prepared for eternity? I have written many articles regarding our eternal salvation with Jesus. I encourage you to read through some of them and ask yourself if you have been called by God to serve Him for all eternity?

What is your plan for eternity... To walk through this life oblivious to the end or to prepare for a magnificent homecoming on the day of your death, running into the arms of a loving savior?

Regardless of your plan, you will spend eternity somewhere...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Till Death Do Us Part... Part Three

As with most married couples, my wife and I have our share of disagreements from time to time. Well, ok... She talks and I disagree. Whatever the case, there are times when the intimacy just isn't there. Not long ago was one of those times. It didn't last very long and as usual the make up process was quite rewarding.

Shortly after we were back in sync she shot me an email that read something like this,

": ) what can we do to get along all the time?"

It really got me thinking. My first thought was that it is impossible to get along all of the time so why try. I quickly dismissed that negativity and prayed over the question and asked the Lord how to faithfully answer her question. My thoughts, prayers, and Bible reading led to this:

Forgive - Love - Trust - Endure Hardship - Submit

I think the first step for a husband and wife to keep their relationship in the best standing is mutual forgiveness of past, current, and future offenses that we commit against God and each other. Forgiveness is critical to our well being and right standing with God and with each other.

Mat 6:14-15 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Luk 6:36-38 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you."

Forgiveness is like surgery that removes the disease that keeps our spiritual organs from working properly. I know when I am willing to forgive my spouse, my heart changes and I am able to relate more fruitfully than when I harbor bitterness and resentment.

Secondly, love one another. Love is essential in times of difficulty. Love covers a multitude of sins (1Pet 4:8)

Joh 15:12-14 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.

Without the foundation of love, we will not be willing to lay down our lives for each other. Our point, our side, and our pride become more important than the other person's well being.

Third on the list is trust. Trust plays a huge part in any relationship. Not only trusting in the Lord to make our path straight (Proverbs 3:5-6), but in the honesty and integrity of each others motives.

Fourth point would be to expect and endure hardships and difficulties, even if they come from one another. Being from the seed of Adam we are sinful from birth. It isn't something we do, it is who we are by nature. Ephesians tells us that we are born children of wrath, sons of disobedience. Knowing this helps me not get so worked up when I am offended... what should I expect being carnal? Also, when we are at odds I think we forget that the battle is not against each other but against the principalities of darkness (Eph 6). Rather than spending time debating sides, try praying together. We will endure difficulties and prayer will bring back the peace.

James 1:1-4 "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

And last but not least is submission. (Eph 5:21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.) As I submit my desires and will to the Lord (husbands) and display servant leadership then Ephesians 5 & 6 will more easily be established in my family. I submit and love, as Christ does for the church. You submit and respect, as the body does unto Christ.

Forgive - Love - Trust - Endure Hardship - Submit

Lord, I thank you again for the gift of marriage. Please help me to be the spouse you created me to be; forgiving, loving, trusting, enduring, and submitting.