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.

Come by and see our complete Updated Website

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Blessed Are The Persecuted...

Act 9:15-16 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; (16) for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake." (nasb)

While reading through the book of Acts in my studies today I couldn't help but stop at a verse and read over it several times. It is in the 9th chapter in Acts and the story goes like this. God speaks to Ananias and tells him to go to a certain place in Damascus where Saul of Tarsus was praying. (God had previously struck down Paul on the road to Damascus as he was going there to persecute the Christians.) Ananias reminds God about the atrocities Saul has performed against the saints and God reassures Him that Saul is now a chosen instrument of His.

So, why the curiosity you might ask? Here is what I am curious of. In verse 16 God tells Ananias that Saul will be shown "how much he must suffer for His name's sake." The story line would flow just fine without verse 16, so I am wondering why God would say that to Ananias.

After reading through many commentaries I have found a lot that inform us of what those sufferings looked like: "such as weariness, pain, and watchings, hunger, thirst, fastings, cold, and nakedness, perils on various accounts, and from different quarters, stripes, scourges, imprisonment, shipwreck, stoning, and death, of which he himself gives a detail, 2Cor 11:23." (Gill) But very few, if any realy explain why God would have expressed this to Paul.

So I dove into the scriptures for an explanation and here is what I found.

Those who share in the sufferings of Christ
are the ones who are truly blessed.

I think Jesus makes the point incredibly clear in Luke 9 and other verses:

Luk 9:22 saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day."
Luk 9:23 And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
Luk 9:24 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. (nasb)

The point here is that Jesus suffered great things and if we are to follow Him we are to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. I believe God wasn't showing Paul what he must suffer as a form of retaliation... You persecuted me so I will now persecute you. Not at all, on the contrary. In Gods perfect love and grace he was giving Paul a glimpse of what He suffered and was showing Paul that in order to be truly blessed in the service of God one must also suffer as Christ suffered.

Mat 5:11 "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Mat 5:12 "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (nasb)

Mat 24:9 "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. (nasb)

1Pe 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;
1Pe 4:13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
1Pe 4:14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (nasb)

Rev 1:9 I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (nasb)

Time and time again we see the men of God persevering and rejoicing in their suffering with Christ. He reveals His glory to us and gives us the faith and the strength to endure anything that comes our way.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Made Alive In Christ

I overheard a radio program while I was in the gas station the other day. I am not fully certain what the program was or the topic for that matter, but what I did hear was two people talking about homosexuality and that God will come down and judge people who are homosexuals. My very first thought was that God will actually not just limit His condemnation to homosexuals, but He will judge the entire world and those who are in Christ will be saved from His condemnation.

This got me thinking as I drove away from the station. "Is this the message I want to share in my life to and/or about the sin of homosexuality." My other thought was, "What does the Bible say about this?"

I think it is really easy for Christians to condemn and throw out phrases such as 'you are going to go to hell for this or that' or 'God is going to get you.' But is that the message we want to send? Do I want to go around condemning the world or loving them. I heard a quote one time, "No one has come to Jesus because they lost the argument." We can spend all day trying to convince a sinner of their sin and for the most part it will be an exercise in futility. People know when they are doing wrong and if they don't it isn't our job to convince them of it. Let the Holy Spirit do his job and we should do ours...

Does God hate sin? Absolutely He does. Here are just a few verses that talk about this:

Joh 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

1Jn 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

But more than God's hatred of sin is His love for his children:

Rom 5:7-8 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Eph 2:4-8 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

Even when we were dead in our sins Jesus died for us. That is the message I want to share.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Have You Ever Healed A Beggar?

Act 3:1-10 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!" And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (esv)

I have recently started a new Bible study and the first part is to begin in the book of Acts and read the first five chapters. Once I have read the chapters I will begin to memorize the titles within the chapter. Each week I add five more chapters and when it is all said and done I will have read all of the New Testament and memorized all of the titles within the books... That sounds like a lot of work, what have I got myself into? Ok, let's just start with Acts chapters 1-5.

As I was reading through the first five chapters in Acts I came across this passage in Acts 3. It really got me to thinking about how I treat people and especially those I encounter on the streets that are deemed the least desirable. As Peter and John were approaching the temple they ran into a beggar who was a pretty common fixture at the gate. When the lame man asked for money, rather than brushing him off and telling him to essentially go away, they offered him Jesus Christ. They looked at him and with authority told him to rise and walk.

Now here comes the part that I was really impacted by... Not only did they give this lame man a dose of Jesus, but they also walked along with him into the temple praising Jesus. The stopped, shared the Lord, picked him up, and walked along side him praising our Savior. Boy do I fall short of that. I can't even tell you how many times per week I get approached by beggars and I either ignore them or brush them off with a "Sorry, I can't help you."

I have learned a lesson from the book of Acts today that will impact me forever. I will keep you updated if I heal any lame beggars, or just share the love of Jesus with them... Either way, I really see that the way I have been treating them is definitely not the way the Bible shows me to.

Lord, forgive me when I see someone who is in need of you and I only look at them as a nuisance. Please do a work in my heart so I can impact the lives of those I encounter each day on the streets.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Have You Been Transformed?

There is a sense in our American Culture that we are a Christian nation that does Christian things filled with Christian People. I often ponder what God might think about the idea of this. "One nation under God" we say. But what does it really mean for a person to be under God? According to the verses in 2Corinthians to be under God means that we have been reconciled to God through Christ Jesus. That we are a new creation and the old ways of living have passed away and the new way of living has come.

2Co 5:17-20 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (esv)

Being a Christian doesn't mean believing in a philosophy of doing good things for people. There are a lot of non-Christians who help others and do all kinds of good for people. It doesn't mean we are a Christian nation if we profess to be bigger, stronger, and nicer than everyone else. In order for our nation to be a Christian nation we need to look at ourselves and ask one simple question... "Am I a Christian?" Am I following the ways of Christ or am I doing things my way and living the way I feel best fulfills my wants and personal desires? Am I reconciled with God through Jesus Christ?

There are a lot of churches that proclaim that if you said the "sinners prayer" then you are saved and will be for the rest of your life. There are others who say that you need to be saved and then do all sorts of good things for God. And then there is God's Word which says this:

1Jn 3:4-9 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. (esv)

Following Christ isn't about good works or trying to keep the law of God, it is about experiencing firsthand the grace of God and abiding in it. If God's seed abides in you then you desire the things of God and you don't desire to live continually in sin. Practicing righteousness isn't about working for God. It is about being righteous in Christ and evidence of that comes out in our life by how we relate to God and others. If we continually live in sin, this passage declares we have neither seen God or even know Him.

If we claim Christianity in our life we need to do a reality check and see if we are abiding in Him, otherwise it is simply lip service and a way of convincing ourselves we aren't going to go to hell. Jesus addresses this issue in Matthew.

Mat 7:22-23 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' (esv)

Christ will say to the posers of the Christian faith, "Depart from me you poser, you may have tried to look like you were a Christian and even done good things, but I never knew you because you did not abide in me. You did it all for your benefit and your glory and your joy. You were not sheep of my fold."

Today I encourage you to do a reality check. If you have been abiding in God and fighting the effects of sin in your life then praise God for His sustaining grace. If you have claimed the grace of Jesus as your own but have been living life to benefit yourself and not for Christ then I implore you to turn your heart back to Him. If we want to be a Christian nation then we first and foremost need to be nation of Christians. Let's allow Christ to make a difference in our life so we can help impact the lives of those around us.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Our Good Comes From The Lord

The Lord is our source of all things good. True humility understands that apart from the Lord we are filled with all kinds of evil. When we measure ourselves against the things of this world we have a tendency to compare ourselves with others. It is simple to look at someone who we may look better than, act better than or are smarter than and think how good we are.

Our goodness comes from the Lord. Not from our education, status, or income level. It doesn't come from our race, country of origin or religious denomination. Our good comes from being in Christ. We are to be a reflection of His good and put all self aside.

Psa 16:2 I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good besides You."

May you seek Him today and find your goodness in Him.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Finding Hope In Our Struggles

Sometimes we experience a tragic event, loss of a loved one, or some form of physical suffering and we become angry and bitter. Frustration at God and those around us pours from our life like water from a faucet and the only way to close the valve is through the grace of God. I ran into a gentleman today who has experienced great loss. He had a family member die tragically and her fourteen year old son was there to witness it. Unfortunately it shook his faith to the point of bitterness towards God and anger at the church. He lost his family member, his faith, and his hope in a matter of seconds and his life will be forever changed because of it.

Has this happened in your life? Have you ever been so frustrated at God because of a tragic situation that you became angry? I know I certainly have and I believe it is a common reality we share as Christians from time to time.

2Co 4:15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 2Co 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2Co 4:17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 2Co 4:18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 

Paul says something in this part of 2Cor that took me several years to really grasp. During a difficult situation about 10 years ago He led me to these verses and I really looked them over and studied them. I had to believe that what I was going through was important to God and that His hand was working through this time in my life. A couple key words for me were "do not lose heart" and "light momentary affliction."

Paul had gone through some tremendous difficulties in his ministry and his life and for him to be able to call what he went through momentary light affliction and to not lose heart really got my attention. I wasn't sure what it was that Paul had, but I certainly wanted it. The more I studied these verses the more I began to realize what they were saying to me...

Here is my paraphrase, "Keith, what you are going through is hard, really hard. But you are going through it for a purpose and that purpose is so that my grace will be revealed to you and others. Through that grace will come overwhelming thanksgiving in your life because you aren't comparing your difficulty to the things of this world but to the things of God. Those things are unseen right now. One day they will be glorious and this trouble now will be so small in comparison to what is to come. Don't give up, don't lose your faith, and keep your eye on those eternal things."

I know that suffering is hard. I know that some who read this today are going through intense difficulties and my heart and prayers go out to you. I also know that Paul is right. I have and continue to experience God's grace daily in my struggles. I pray for you today to embrace the Lord during your difficulties, love Him with all your heart, and trust that He is working out far more than what we can see in front of us. As for the gentleman that I was talking with today. He is still bitter at God after 10 years. I encouraged him not to give up on his faith. It is between him and God now...

Lord, please help us when we suffer. Lead us through our difficulties and help us to not become angry at you and blame you for them. You are a loving kind God and we know that you care for your children. In your name, Amen