Joshua 24:14-15 –“Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” 24 The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God and we will obey His voice.” NASU
In life, we have to make ‘choices’ and at some point, most people realize that there are ramifications associated with those life decisions. Some never realize that and live in such a way as to fail to take personal responsibility for their bad decisions, expecting someone to take care of them and bail them out when they get into trouble. That is not being a productive member of society nor is it what God expects of us spiritually.
In this situation, Joshua is addressing the people and rehearsing Israel’s history. He brings the people to a clear understanding that where they were and what was before them was theirs only because of God, His grace, mercy, power, and love.
Joshua wanted to bring the people to a decision and commitment to ‘serve the Lord.’ He gave them a choice – They could go back to the old way of life and serve the gods of their ancestors or be “Moon worshippers” as Abram was before God’s call or they could serve the gods of the Amorites in whose land they were living. Those were possibilities or they could, as he and his family had chosen, would ‘serve the LORD’. The people came to the place that they declared they too would serve the LORD and obey His voice. They didn’t but they make the choice that day to come into covenant with God, THE LIVING GOD!
There was a time when many of us made the decision to follow Godand serve Him. It is time to renew that commitment and make the choice to serve Him. There is coming very soon a time when anything less than a total commitment and resolve to Serve God with a Whole Heart will open the door to the opportunity to turn back. If we do that will guarantee that we fall by the wayside. There are going to be pressures that come to mankind that will require a resolve to love God even to death. I am not trying to be morbid but telling you what I know from scripture and what the Lord is speaking to my heart. That time is much sooner than many believe possible. Today is the day of Salvation. Today is the time of decision.
So it is my prayer that you choose to serve the Lord with your Whole Heart and even if you are faced with death, will hold on to your commitment and resolve. God will never leave you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 11:26-28 – “Behold, today I am setting before you a blessing and a curse— 27 the blessing, if you listen to and obey the commandments of
the Lord your God, which I am commanding you
today; 28 and the curse, if you do not listen to and obey the commandments of
the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which
I am commanding you today, by following (acknowledging, worshiping) other gods
which you have not known.” Amplified
I am going to mix the political and the spiritual in this devotional. It may not sit well with some and others will see it as truth. I believe that the reason we, in America and much of the world, are in the mess we are in morally, societally, socially, politically, and spiritually is self-caused. We have done it through Disobedience!
That is not a popular topic in today’s Christian world and one that is seldom heard from many pulpits today. I believe it is that absence in preaching that has helped to create the monster that we now face in declension and depravity that is growing exponentially in our midst. The text I used can be summed up quite simply. “Obey and you will be blessed. Disobey and you will be cursed.”
Before someone argues that a Loving God would never curse people, I suggest that you read the Bible and consider the requirements of God for Obedience. His holiness demands that we be holy. Jesus did not give the disciples the model for prayer to make life difficult but to open the door to the Presence of God and Abundant Life. His instruction for us to “seek first” the kingdom of God and the righteousness of God was to enable us to come into His presence where there is the fullness of joy. Everything God has done has been to bring us back into a relationship with Him and through our obedience, we learn His person and as we learn His ways and witness His acts we learn to Love Him completely.
Christians today need to stop fretting, whimpering and acting as though evil is more powerful than truth and God. IT IS NOT! I believe that we, the born-again believers stand at a pivotal time and how we respond will determine our future on this planet. No, I am not talking about climate change or anything of the like. I am talking about Freedom, Liberty, and Relationship with our Heavenly Father. I am talking about our ability to fulfill our Commission and Mission in Life. I am talking about becoming One with God and realizing the objective Jesus placed before us to “abide in Him” and have His Words “abide in us.”
I do not believe that our societal problems can be solely blamed on liberalism, paganism, neo-Leninism, socialism, a corrupt judicial system, or those on the other side of the political aisle who cowardly refuse to stand against evil. I believe it is because we have “Believed A Lie” and bought into the idea that there are acceptable and excusable sins. THERE ARE NOT! Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). Paul told us in Romans 12:1, that obedience was an act of worship or spiritual service. The Bible is filled with references to obedience and blessing. I refer you to Genesis 22:18; Exodus 19:5; Luke 11:28; and James 1:22-25.
We are told by the apostle John that Obedience proves our Love for God and that Obedience demonstrates our faith in Him. Samuel chastised Saul and reminded him and us that Obedience, in God’s eyes is better than sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15:22-23). Paul again reminded us that Disobedience leads to sin and death. (Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians 15:22). It is the desire of the Father, according to Jesus to “give us the Kingdom.” God wants to bless us and give us peace.
I am concerned that Christians have ceased to fear God more than they fear man. I am concerned that the prevailing mood through the erosion of our convictions is to allow the ‘little foxes to spoil the vine’ and we are allowing things morally and spiritually wrong to have accepted status in our society. The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). Sadly, too many homes have abdicated that responsibility, lost that perspective, and in their pursuit of being tolerant and understanding allowed their children to be stolen from them. Now, they wonder why their adult children are spiritual train wrecks.
America is becoming the murder capitol of the world through abortion and senseless violence that is driven by selfishness. Preachers and churches today are mistakenly attempting to make magnanimous statements of love, inclusiveness, and tolerance for lifestyles the Bible calls an abomination.
God has not called us to be popular but preachers of truth and demonstrations of His Righteousness. Love does not justify sin, it covers it. Covers it, not in hiding it but with Grace, Love, Prayer, and Forgiveness.
I have preachers tell me, “If I preach what you are suggesting, I will run off half my congregation.” I contend, “It would be better to have half a congregation than a congregation that is so filled with leaven the purtifying stench of sin is repulsive.” If what the church is and what the world is, is not different the Gospel has no appeal and power.
I conclude with this “Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now [a]salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore, let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us [b]behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Romans 13:11-14 NASB.)
If we could not impact the world and make a difference God would not have left us here. We have a mission and a commission. We are to be Salt and Light in this world. It is time that we “come out from among them and be separate.” It is time that we not only represent Jesus but manifest Him.”
Luke 21:19 – “In your patience possess ye your souls.”
I am fully aware of the context of this passage but want to use it to speak to a particular issue that I have been aware of in my life and in much of the Christian world – IMPATIENCE! We have been trying to live as Christians with a “Microwave Mentality” for way too long. We have been spoiled with the instant everything in our lives. Unlike our parents and grandparents generations where they had more of a Farmer Mentality we have a Magician’s Mentality. We want it yesterday!
My mother and grandmother cooked most things from scratch, as they called it. I well remember when my mother bought an instant cake mix and baked a cake with it rather than from scratch. Then we were introduced to instant potatoes rather than real potatoes that had to be peeled cooked and mashed. Next was instant coffee which didn’t make it in our house because my dad could not tolerate the thought of not having his coffee brewed or boiled. He normally would take a stove top percolator and remove the insides leaving just the pot, put his water in and then pour in the coffee grounds and boil the coffee. That was fine until you got to the bottom of the pot and your cup would be filled with those pesky coffee grounds. He did graduate to the more modern coffee makers such as Mr. Coffee and that was a major step for him.
The farmer knows that the seed he plants today will not be harvested for weeks or months. He has no expectation of waking up the next morning and having corn ready to harvest or any other crop. Today we expect our food and everything else to be virtually instant. We don’t like to wait!
I am probably one of the world’s worst about waiting especially at a restaurant. I don’t like to sit and wait 30 minutes or an hour for a table. I’d rather go somewhere else. I don’t like waiting at the doctor’s office or in the examination room. I want my computer to operate with blazing speed and when I go to the ATM I expect my cash to be instant. Unfortunately that also spills over into our relationships with others and with God.
I am NEVER late, unless it is beyond my control and then I do everything within my power to notify those who are waiting for me. I don’t like waiting for someone who habitually arrives late because I consider it inconsiderate and an expression of the lack of value of my time. I like meetings to begin on time and when I pray I want an immediate answer. God works on me on that part quite a lot.
We need to learn the value of a patient spirit. It will help eliminate frustration and even enhance our health and well-being. Amazingly, with my lack of willingness to wait on many things I love to fish and can sit all day long fishing without getting a bite and be content. I’m patient. I can hunt the same way. So, I realize that it is a mind-set that I can change with regard to other things that I cannot control. I can choose to learn patience and in so doing learn to rest in the confidence that God is in control and I can trust Him.
If you are an impatient person then you need to hear what I’m saying today and as I’ve been told before “chill out.” I know that’s not a term used today and dates me. I remember once when I was single before my wife and I got married I was out on a date and the lady with me slapped my shoulders and said – “Roy, relax.” I had no idea that I was tense but apparently it was so obvious that she did that. God has done the same thing to me on more than one occasion.
So as you go through this day ask the Holy Spirit to help you to be patient. I know that in developing patience you will encounter things that test your patience and you may not like my advice but it is worth it to LEARN PATIENCE!
May the Lord be with you as you go through your day!
Hebrews 10:19-25 –
“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the
blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through
the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let
us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts
sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who
promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to
love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the
habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day
drawing near.” NASU
I am reminded of Augustine’s declaration, “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” What a declaration! Truly God has made us for Himself. Also, I think of the Catechism that asks the question: “What is the chief end of man? “ The Answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” I believe that the twenty-four elders of Revelation 4:11 agree with that declaration.
The work of God in redemption is to undo the effects of the revolt and rebellion of Adam and Eve the Garden. His plan and desire are to bring us back into right relationship with Him and open the door for us to live in His presence forever! If we think of the Tabernacle and Temple, we are reminded of the veils of separation that existed. I am reminded of the passage in Matthew 27 at the time of Jesus’ death on the Cross. In verse 51 we read, “And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…”
What is the significance of that? Simply that through the Blood of Jesus the veil of separation was removed and now we have access to the presence of God to fully and wholly enjoy Him. That was the last veil that was removed and opened the way for every worshipper to come into experience the presence of God in a new, living, and powerful way.
I agree with A.W. Tozer when he said, “The world is perishing for a lack of the knowledge of God and the church is famishing for want of his presence.” I have minister friends who reflect on gatherings from time to time and say, “God showed up.” I reject that idea, not that God’s presence was not realized but that God just suddenly ‘showed up.’ I contend that He was there all the time! Where is he not? The problem is not that God is not present but that we are not tuned in to His presence. We have a veil that needs to be removed so we can behold Him and in beholding Him we are transformed by that which we are beholding. The Veil Must Go!
I refer you to 2 Corinthians 3:18 – “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” The gates of our eyes, ears, and mouths need to be opened to His presence. Mark told us to “Take heed what we hear…” Another says, “Be careful you hear.”
If there is
anything separating us from God that veil needs to be removed. God is always present, but we are not always
attuned to Him. God is speaking but we are not always hearing. God is always the same, yesterday, today, and
forever but we are sometimes distant from Him.
We allow our minds to become filled with the clutter of this life and
the affairs of humanity to the point that we do not recognize Him and embrace His
instruction in Matthew 6 is important for us to comprehend and embrace as
present realities or possibilities. If
we want the Kingdom of God to come, we must realize that we cannot have His
kingdom without His presence. Psalm
16:11 tells us that in the presence of God there is fullness of Joy. We are told in Psalm 100:4 that we are to
enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.
Our text verse urges us to allow the confidence of His ownership to flood our hearts and instill in us both confidence and courage to enter His presence. If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever then why can’t we have His presence now? If God performed miracles in the past why not now? If God delivered in the past, why not now? If God invited His children to enter His gates and courts in the past, why not now?
It is time to remove the veil from our hearts and allow Him to become Lord of All in our lives! God bless you as you embark on this journey into His presence in a new and powerful way!
2 Corinthians 13:5 – “Test
yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not
recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you — unless indeed
you fail the test?” NASU
The KJV renders this, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” Both are powerful and challenging. The obvious question and one that has a multitude of potential answers are, “How do we test or examine ourselves?” What are the guidelines or the standards by which we conduct this self-check? The most obvious answer is Jesus’ Life and the Word of God.
I suggest that this self-test is needed because of the extent of deception that is in this world and even in the church. I have a friend who has been a missionary in Africa for 40 years say, “We don’t preach come out from among them and be separate anymore.” I cannot argue with that assessment and sometimes in church, it seems that it is more a motivational speech than a message delivered from an anointed heart challenging our lives to be transformed more and more into the character of Christ. Ambition has a place, but it cannot replace the Word of God and the challenge to godliness.
Barnes’ Commentary gives an illustration that I deeply appreciate regarding this verse and this challenge in Scripture. It speaks of the need to take your faith into areas where it has to be proved to test it. The writer uses the idea of a man proving his axe. He takes it to the woods and puts it on the trial of use. It is in the use of that axe that he tests and proves it. If it cuts well; if it does not break; if it is not soon made dull, he understands the quality of his axe better than he could in any other way. Faith that enables a man to endure persecution and maintain his Christian character and reflection of Jesus is tested faith and reflects His indwelling presence.
I like what the apostle John has to say about how we know, and people know we are Christians. In John 13:31-35 we discover a powerful truth and in verse 35 we read, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love is a clear identifier of the condition of the heart. It is the motivator in life and stronger than greed or personal ambition. You may disagree but think about love in your own life or the love of your life. How frequently do people put their own ambitions on hold for love?
The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:13 informs us that Love is the greatest of the trio of qualities mentioned. It is greater than faith. It is greater than hope because love will lead us to faith and is the source of hope in our lives. Colossians 3:14 in one translation says, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Another reads, “…the perfect bond of unity.” The KJV declares it to be the bond of perfection. What greater test of our faith than the test of the depth of love in our hearts?
May God richly bless you as you pursue Him and allow the Love of God to be shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Spirit. Have a fantastic day!
Daniel 6:3 –“Then this
Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an
excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the
whole realm.” NKJV
Over the past few years we have heard a lot about American Exceptionalism with regard to politics but “exceptionalism” or “excellence” is something that we have or should have been hearing in the Church for centuries. Those terms should be descriptive terms regarding Christians, their work ethic, their conduct, their deportment, their relationships, the business dealings their private, personal, public, and spiritual life.In Christ who is the epitome of Excellence, we should manifest it in our lives. We are “in Him” and as John declared in 1 John 4:17 – “…as He is, so are we in this world.”
Daniel rose to the pinnacle of success and leadership because of this spirit in him. That spirit was in him because Daniel “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” In the New Testament we find the words of our Lord telling us to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness…” If God is first in our lives and we seek Him above all else His Spirit will intermingle with our spirit and we will exhibit or manifest “excellence” and thus demonstrate “exceptionalism.” It is not a pride thing but an obedience thing! It is not our ability but His. Truly, without Him we could do nothing but in Him we can do all things!
It is time that we, the Body of Christ, make the commitment to place God first above everything. It is time that we seek to allow the Holy Spirit to have such free-reign in our lives that He can “manifest” Jesus through us so that the world can be impacted by the Love, Grace, Peace, and Power of God. It is time that we realize that we are not permanent residents of this planet and as temporary sojourners we have an obligation to the world, the lost to proclaim both in word and deed THE GOOD NEWS of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
As with Daniel, when we do this, enemies will come out of the wood-work to attack, discredit, and tear us down but as Daniel We Will Overcome if we remain focused, committed, and purposed in our lives. We can live the Abundant Life in this life and we can reach this generation with the Gospel of Christ. Does that mean that we never engage in other activities other than spreading the Gospel – NO! Does it mean that the Gospel of the Kingdom is most important – YES!
I am thankful that we still have a Free Country in which we can worship God according to the dictate of our hearts and can be a launching pad for the Gospel to go around the world. Could that change? Absolutely but God doesn’t and even if we are persecuted, imprisoned, or killed for the sake of the Gospel that is a minor cost with regard to reaching our generation for Christ!
The ministry God has used me in for most of my adult life has been to reach reached people and help establish them in the Kingdom so they are equipped to labor in God’s Harvest! I have, for years, ministered to leaders and as my good friend Dennis Goldsworthy-Davis of San Antonio often says, “When leaders lead, people follow.” So it is time to lead, follow, or get out of the way. The time is NOW! I long to see the True Church rise up to fullness and exhibit The Excellent Spirit as was in Daniel. As that transpires we will see the greatest in-gathering harvest that has been recorded and the greatest time of persecution running parallel to it.
Are we ready? Are we willing? Will we allow God to do it through us? May God bless you as you go through your day!
1 Peter 1:24-25 – “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory
of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls
away, 25 But the word of the LORD endures forever.” NKJV
This is a quote from Isaiah 40:6 that Peter is using to illustrate the abiding nature of God’s Word and the brevity of man. Too often we seem to get those two reversed or so it would seem based on how we live. From the time a person is born, they are in the process of dying naturally. Once we are “born-again” spiritually, from that moment of birth we being the process of living eternally.
As we watch the seasons come and go we see seed-time and harvest, summer and winter. We see things die or go dormant and then in the springtime, we seem them bud forth and there is “newness of life” all around us. The weather begins to warm, the grass turns green, the flowers begin to bloom, the trees bud forth and life is everywhere. Then in a few short months, the cold death of winter sets in and all that life fades into the background. It is the cycle of life.
We are like the grass that lives for a few months then becomes dormant. Our glory or supposed glory withers like the grass, it is fleeting and temporary, but God’s Word endures forever! So, it is not wise to become too absorbed with ourselves and our seeming successes or even our failures because they are temporary. Only that which is birthed out of the Word and Spirit of God lives forever all else fades away into eternal darkness and death.
I have some methods I use doing things. I sometimes find myself telling my wife and others these methods have stood the test of time and work so why change them. But, if I’m not careful I’ll become closed minded and not see the newness that God wants to bring into my life through change. As the cloud moves spiritually we have to move with the cloud-like Israel in their deliverance from Egyptian bondage.
When God sends His “new wine” of the Spirit and begins to do something a bit different than what we are used to we must be willing to allow Him to make us into “new wine-skins” or we’ll find that the “new wine” bursts the old wine-skins and that which He was doing is lost to us. One thing will NEVER CHANGE and that is The Word of God, the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, and the Promise of His Return. Those are etched in granite and will never change!
If you are facing problems know that “this too shall pass.” In, your struggles please know that God and His Word will NEVER change nor will they ever fail. So when the storms clouds roll in, run to the Rock of our Salvation and under the Shelter of His Loving Arms, letting Him hide you in the cleft of the Rock until the storm passes over. His Word, His Promise, His Love will NEVER FAIL!