Tag Archives: Devotion

Obligation or Devotion

It’s funny how things sometimes come around when you least expect it. This morning I was reading in Isaiah chapter 1.  I personally have been a little lapse in my daily devotional time, and decided Isaiah was a good place to begin investing more time and study.  So you may see a few posts sprinkled in on both Galatians and Isaiah going forward. If something strikes me as a Holy Spirit moment, you will know it!

In Isaiah chapter 1 the prophet points out that Israel is doing the things that God required. They were bringing the daily sacrifices  as prescribed in Leviticus. They were carrying out of the feasts during the seasons He had told him was necessary.. It seems like they doing everything they could to obey the Lord and yet God called all this an abomination!   He was angry with them. In fact, He says it is rebellion and sin.  How can this be?  It is simply because they were doing these things out of obligation instead of devotion.

This morning I also read a post from Don at TLP.  He was discussing how the Corinthians were upset that Paul had asked for an offering for the church at Jerusalem.  They thought he was doing something a little crooked.  Don talked about our giving, and I asked his thoughts on tithing.  Don pointed out that if we start to think we must still follow the Old Testament tithing law, we were under the whole law.  God is looking for our all, not just a tithe.  He is looking for our devotion, not our obligation.

Many times I find myself carrying out the obligations that are expected of me by God. I do my study, I write poems when He gives them to me, I pray for those who need prayer, I lead Worship in my church.  All of these are obligations that I have taken on. And at times I find myself doing them just out of obligation and not out of devotion. Do you find yourself in that situation once in awhile?

Anything we do for God should be done because we love Him and are devoted to Him, not because it is an obligation. In Psalm 51, David writes “To obey is better than sacrifice.” There are many who think they are going to heaven because they pay their tithes, go to church,  and they’re good people. They have fulfilled their obligations. But they lack devotion to God.  If God would and them to give everything and leave it behind they would probably have a reaction like the Rich Young Ruler. He walked away sad because he wasn’t willing to give all.  Am I?  Are you?

Let us always walk with the devotion that God had for us.   Isaiah went on to say that we should come and reason together -though our sins are scarlet they will be white as snow. There was no reason that God had tom give His Son.  There was no reason He should extend His mercy to us.  When we come and reason together with God, He says “I gave my all.  I expect the same from you.”    When I don’t what is my reason?

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Impartially Faithful

James 2:1 KJV

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

Imagine if Jesus have been selective in where He applied His faith. Imagine that He was a respecter of persons instead of treating all equally. How much would the books of the New Testament have changed?.

 I can see that the woman at the well in Samaria talked about in John chapter 4 would never have been approached for the gospel. The ten lepers certainly wouldn’t have been cleansed and the one who came back and thanked Him would not have been made whole. He certainly wouldn’t have done anything for blind Bartimaeus – the man was a beggar. If He was a respecter of persons would He have even submitted to John the Baptist and received His baptism in the River Jordan? After all He was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He didn’t have to deal with these people!  They were obviously beneath Him as all of us are.
He certainly would not have chosen the disciples that He had. He would have picked men that were leaders and knowledgeable instead of the riff-raff fisherman that He ended up with. He would have tried to get in with the Pharisees and the scribes because they were the elite in that day. That would have been the crowd to hang around with if you are bringing a religious message of some kind.
And if He was a respecter of persons He certainly would have treated Herod and Pilate differently.  He would not have been silent before the Sanhedrin. He would have tried to appeal to Pilate instead of just making him more aggravated. Why the whole story would have changed if Jesus was a respecter of persons. Aren’t you glad that He wasn’t?
When you read the New Testament you read that Jesus healed everyone that came to Him. Sometimes we miss this. But in every circumstance where there are a multitude that come to Him and bring the sick, the maim, the lame, the blind and the possessed it says He healed them all (Matt 12:15, Matt 15:30, Luke 6:19, Luke 4:40 to give a few verses). He had no respect for their financial ability or how they looked or how they walked, what color their skin was or where they were from. In Jesus eyes they were all the same. They were all sinners that needed to repent. They were all sickly  and needed healing. They were all bound and needed to be freed.
He certainly would not have chosen me. A drunkard and a drug addict who didn’t have time for God and walked away from every chance he got would never make a good disciple, would he? And yet He reached out to me and decided to call me and He gave me gifts and He gave me passion and He gave me the fruit of the spirit and He gave me so many other things. He also gives many of those same things to you.  All things are available to you because He is not a respecter of persons people.
James says here that we should not have the faith that Jesus Christ has given us and then practice it by having respect towards people. This does not mean we don’t have to respect them!  In fact, the world is showing less and less respect for others, and I think it is a sad thing.  Everyone deserves our respect, our admiration.  We should hold others in highest regard according to Philippians 2:3-4.  That is not the same word as James uses in verse 1
The word respect in James 2:1 means to show partiality.  We should treat everybody the same. We will be going into this in more detail as we go along. But I want you to know that if Jesus had respect for people He probably would not choose any of us. He was merciful to us all because He loves us all the same. And that is the way we should love those around us. No exceptions.

 

Obtaining the Crown of Life

James 1:12  KJV

12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

The first 11 verses all lead up to this one.  The blessing that comes from enduring temptation is nothing short of amazing.  We will talk about the crown of life in a moment, but let’s take a look at the other blessings that come from enduring temptation.

The word endureth here is a very interesting word. It literally means to remain under, speaking of staying under a load which has been put on you.  This means we have born the burden of the load until it is finished.  It does not mean that we escape the load, or that we pass it on to someone else, or that we decide to only go part way through a find a means of escape.  It means we carry the load until it has been taken from us – in this case by God.  It also means to persevere, which is to continue in a course of action even if it is difficult or there seems to be no solution.  It is translated endure throughout the New Testament.

As you loom at that definition, does that define how you go through temptation and trial?   Remember, James told us to count it joy when these trials come.  When you enter into a difficult, almost impossible area of temptation or trial, are you determined to go through it all the way to the end?  Or do you look for a way of escape?  The blessing comes with enduring to the end.  God is with you every step of the way, even if you don’t feel Him there, even if you can;t sense His presence.  Many times, God is working the hardest on us when we don’t even know He is working. the  blessing comes when the test is over.

What blessings do we receive?  Joy comes when we realize we have gone all the way through.  Our faith grows because we know if God brought us through that trial He can do it again.  We gain peace because we know, with God’s help, we are through with that battle. Hope is restored that God is with us in every situation.  Our patience is stretched and therefor will be able to withstand more in the future.  Our testimony is alive and vibrant because we can tell others God can help them through their trials as well.  We gain wisdom, knowledge and understanding into the ways of God. because of what we learned as we endured.  We have a deeper sense of how much God loves us, and experience an extra dose of His mercy and grace.  All of these things come as a result of enduring through the trial.

Then there’s the crown of life.  This crown is mentioned here and in Revelation 2:10, where it is promised to those who are faithful until the end, similar to the terms given here.  The crown of life is not associated with eternal life. It is a reward given to those who endure through trials and tests, those who persevere despite the odds, who trust God to bring them through.  It is given at the end of the trial or temptation. I believe it is worth the effort.  I plan to remain faithful and receive that crown from Jesus!  How about you?

Working through the trials that come our way is one of the most rewarding things any Christian can do. The blessings that come to us once the trial is over are well worth the battle, no matter how long it takes to get through it.  I pray that every one of you will not avoid the various trials and tests you will face, but will work through them with the strength of the Lord holding you up, and with your faith and patience fully on display.  This is a testimony that will speak to others in a most dynamic way.  Endure to the end, my friends!

 

Love the Lord With ALL

Ever since my Sunday School lesson and our pastor’s sermon yesterday, this keeps going through my mind. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind” (Deut 6:5, Matt 22:37) It has been rolling around in my head with the question “Do I do that?”. After all, Jesus says this is the greatest commandment, which means I am supposed to follow it. I have to break it down to get a better picture of whether I am in tune with what God wants or not.

Love the Lord with all my heart. The heart is the center of our emotions. We love, or hate or have joy or sorrow in our heart. Only we can know what is truly in our hearts (and God). We often put on one face to look good while our heart has a totally different thing going on inside it. Our heart is what will lust after the things of this world because it is the root of our desires. Many times I find my desires go the opposite way God would want them. My emotions take hold of me and I just can’t seem to control how I speak or think. My heart is out of whack with God. It is in these times that I cry out for mercy because I know my heart has not been right to a brother or sister that I should be loving. I have not forgiven them, or I gossip about them, or I back bite them when they are out of earshot. All of those things start in my heart. Is my heart set on loving God or loving the things of this world?

Our heart is also deceitful (James 17:9). Pride is centered in the heart. That is one thing I want to stay away from as far as possible. It has caused me too many problems in the past. Our heart will mask pride in us so we don’t see it unless the Holy Spirit reveals it to us. I have learned to recognize when pride is starting to rise up within me and can often put it aside. But sometimes my wife has to step in and let me know that my pride was active again. I thank God I have a help mate who is willing to do that, and that He has brought me to a place where I listen to her. Don’t let your heart deceive you into thinking you have no pride. We all have pride – it’s just a matter of controlling the actions that pride manifests in our lives. When we love God with all our heart, pride takes a back seat.

The heart is also what God judges us by. When Samuel came to Jesse to anoint a king, he went through all the brothers and then asked Jesses if that was all. Jesse said he had the youngest out watching the sheep, and God told Samuel not to look at his outward appearance but to look at the heart. Isaiah 11:3-4 tells us that we should not judge by what we see and hear, but with righteous judgment we should consider things. You see, the heart can deceive us, but it cannot deceive God. God will test our heart to see where our true devotion lies. While it is very hard for me to know what is in someone else’s heart, God always knows. If I am totally devoted to Him, my heart will be pure. When my heart is pure, I shall see God (Matt 5:8). That is loving God withal my heart!

Love the Lord with all my soul. The soul represents our lifestyle and the way we conduct ourselves on this earth. Boy, this is going to be tough! As I look at my day, in what ways does my life show that I love God with all my soul? I praise Him every morning before my feet hit the floor. I thank Him for the breath he has given me to live one more day. Thank Him that I can open my eyes and see. I thank Him for who He is and all he has done for me. Then I pray for those I know need a touch. Then I get out of bed.

Once out of bed, I take some time in the word with a devotional study I am going through with a friend of mine. It is a challenging book and we text each other what we got out of that days lesson every day. After that, I get down to my work for the day, or take a shower, or work on music, depending on how the mood strikes me. The rest of the day is spent doing things around the house, or with work or writing. God is always on my mind – praise is always in my head – prayers for those in need come as God prompts me to pray. To me, this sounds good, but how does God see it?

I wonder this all the time. He has given me dozens of songs to work on. I often wonder if I should be taking more time to work on them. The time I spend in His word is not very long – should I spend more time there? I am not a good witness when out in public – I have to admit that. I do not speak boldly to those I encounter, but instead hope they see the joy in my life and will ask where it comes form. I wait for an opening in other words. Should I be doing more?

I often think if I truly loved God with all my soul I would want to tell everyone about His incredible love for them. I would also never speak evil about anyone – I would only speak things that lift up other people around me (Eph 4:29). I would speak thinks that are honest, pure, lovely, just and truthful (Phil 4:8). My mouth would line up with the sweet spirit within. I also would want to spend as much time in His word as I can, taking in all that He has for me. I would have a stronger desire and drive to learn to play the piano better so I can play the songs He has given me. Why don’t I do those things? Is it because I do not love Him with all my soul? My lifestyle does not revolve completely around Him or these things would take priority. Lord, help me to love you more in my soul.

Love the Lord with all your mind. My mind races 100 miles per hour all the time it seems. From one pursuit to another, I am always trying to think one step ahead of myself. I know I must keep it focused on the tasks I have to compete or it will wander off to places I do not want it to go. Believe me, I’ve spent enough time in those other places, places displeasing to God, and I want to do everything I can to avoid going back there. I must keep my mind occupied.

So during the day there’s the mapping job I have, my blog, my poetry, the many songs to work on, some picture books I am putting together for my kids for Christmas, chores around the house, what to have for meals, etc., etc. All these things occupy my mind. And I’m sure you can plainly see that in making that list, I did not mention reading the scripture, praying, praising Him or just being silent before Him. These things mix in all day long. My mind is constantly on the go.

My desire is more time with Him. They say you will take the time to do what you really want to do. If you are not making time form something, it means, in your heart, you really don’t want to do it. I sincerely want to spend more time in the word and more time just waiting on God and listening for His voice. I must make up my mind to take that time despite the distractions around me and the many things that are on my list to accomplish every day. I have all the ability in the world to do this – I just have to do it. If I love Him with all my mind, I will!

I like to play a game called Brain candy quite often. If you have never tried it, look it up on the web. It’s really quite fascinating sometimes. Whenever the challenge for that day is to try and figure out my personality I am said to be creative, imaginative, intelligent, resourceful, caring and compassionate. These things seem to be in my mind enough that they come up with the oddball tests they give you. Others tell me this is very true about me. My mind runs fast and thinks of things on the fly, and that is a good thing at times, and a bad thing at other times. I ask God all the time to help me temper my thoughts with His word so I do not stumble. He is helping me all the time.

That’s my assessment. I do my best to love Him with all that is within me – with all my heart, soul and mind. I often fall short. I am so glad He is merciful to me.

Dear Lord, cause me to hunger more for you. cause me to seek you out throughout the day, to take time to be with you in the midst of all that I have to do, and to honor you with my full attention. You are worthy of the best I can give, and that is all of myself. Help me to live out Romans 12:1 and be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to you, which is my reasonable service. Thank you Lord, for your mercy on me!

Whose Building Your House

Psalm 127

Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Who is building your house, or rather your life?  We look to all kinds of sources to build our lives.  Our jobs bring us income and esteem.  Our relationships bring us social status. Our dietary choices bring us health.   Our exercise brings us physical well being.  Our search for knowledge brings us wisdom and power.  We add or subtract to our lives daily in all these ways, seeking a better life, a better existence. And all are necessary.

But if the Lord is not at the center of it all, it is in vain.  It becomes a worthless existence full of worry and doubt, fear and sorrow, endless pursuits that lead to nowhere.   Our lived without God are unfulfilled,  for He left a little part put of mankind that can only be filled by Him. He made us so that we will have that need.  Some recognize it, many don’t. They try to fill that void with everything except God.  They even try to deny He exists, hoping to rid themselves of the hole in their lives.  The Lord must build our house – with His wisdon, knowledge,  love, joy, peace, patience, forgiveness,  mercy and grace.  

And once He builds it, we must allow Him to watch over us and listen to the warnings the Holy Spirit might bring to us if we are straying off course. He becomes our watchman, and we need to listen carefully and be obedient when He speaks to us.  He always has our best in mind.

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

I must admit I am a terrible sleeperI am often up 2-3 time a night. But in between those tines, I usually sleep soundly.  I am glad the Lord gives me sleep to test my body and mind.  When I rise early to pray, He hears my cries.  He is there waiting for me to call to Him.  If I am rising early for any other reason, it is vanity.  The morning, the first fruit of our day, belongs to Him.

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

I have three children, all grow up now and all back in church. I feel so blessed!  That each left church for a while, but have returned to that heritage my wife and I instilled on them all those years they were with us.  And I am praying my 5 grandchildren will do the same.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full – I feel so blessed!

Feasting on Psalm 119

Whew!~  22 days in Psalm 119 went by fast!  I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.  Before we leave that chapter and head through the rest of Psalms, I decided to recap some of the high points for me (and there were many).  It is amazing the insight the author (traditionally thought to be David) gives on the benefits and blessings of the word of God in our lives.  He may refer to it as judgments, or testimonies, or precepts, or statutes or law, but all pf it comes down to one thing.  Without these words on these pages, we would have  little we could depend on!  So here s my list.  If  missed your favorite verse from this amazing Psalm, comment below!

I will not be ashamed when I keep His word(v 6)
I can cleanse my way by His word(v 9)
If I hide His word in my heart, I will not sin against Him (v 11)
God will remove me from reproach and contempt when I keep His word(v 22)
God will strengthen us in our weakness when we keep His word (v 28)
God will enlarge our heart when we keep His word(v 32)
We will have an answer for or enemies by His word  (v 42)
I will walk in liberty by obeying His word  (v 45)
The word causes us to hope (v 49)
We gain comfort in affliction through His word (v 50)
He becomes our portion by His word (v 57)
Our affliction is good because it teaches us His law (v 71)
His word is faithful (v  86)
His word is settled in heaven forever (v 89)
The word gives us life (v 93)
The word makes me wise (v 98)
The word gives us understanding (v 99)
God himself will teach me His word (v 102)
His words are sweet (v 103)
The word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (v 105)
He is out hiding place and shield (v 114)
The word gives light (v 130)
He directs His mercy to those who keep his word (v 132)
He will plead our cause (v 154)
The word gives us great peace (v 165)

Pretty amazing, Huh!  Tomorrow, Psalm 120!

 

 

 

 

 

Thirsting For You

Psalm 119:129-136  Pe

129  Your testimonies are wonderful;  Therefore my soul keeps them.
I cannot escape how wonderful you are to me Lord.  I can depend on your word to come through every time.  The testimonies contained in your word are written for me.  testimonies of miracles, of deliverance, of healing, of provision, of power, of rest, of fellowship.    They are all written to give me comfort and hope.  I will forever keep your word!
130  The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.
Once I open myself to your word, a light is shed on my life.  A light that will bring me to better things and a better life all around.  I start to understand things I never could understand before.  That light shines all the way down to my heart, and frees it from the darkness that overwhelms me at times.  Even in my simple mind, I start to understand your ways.
131  I opened my mouth and panted, for I longed for Your commandments.
I am thirsty for your word.  Like a deer that pants for the water, so my soul longs after you, Lord.  I need your word. it is the water of life to me.  It keeps me alive from one day to the next.  It keeps me full of life, the same type of life that water gives my body.
132  Look upon me and be merciful to me, as Your custom is toward those who love Your name.
You can see me.  I am right here before you.  You know I love you Lord, and that I love to praise your sweet name.  I can depend on you hearing my prayers when I cry to you, and I know that you will look on me with mercy.  It is your way, Oh Lord.  Your eyes are always on me, and you are full of mercy toward those who love your name as I do.
133  Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.
As I look to your word, my every step is directed toward the plans you have for me, plans for my good, planes to prosper me, planes to bring me to success.  As I stay in your word, iniquity cannot dominate me, because your word will cast put the enemy.  It will drive out negative thoughts and thoughts of evil.  It will keep me centered on you, and that s the place I always want to be.
134  Redeem me from the oppression of man, that I may keep Your precepts.
You sent your Son, your only Son, to redeem me from the oppressor.  He took my sin to the cross, nailed it there, and left it there when He was taken down from that cross.  I no longer have that oppression upon me.  Now, because of the price He pad, and because I have asked Him into my heart, I am able to keep your laws and precepts.  He makes me able!
135  Make Your face shine upon Your servant, and teach me Your statutes.
When your face shines on me, I know you are looking at me.  When you look at me, I know you are aware of what is going on in my life.  When you are aware of what is going on in my life, I know you will help me through any situation I may be in.   These are the times that peace runs over my soul.  These are the times I can learn of your ways, because I am focused on you,and you are focused on me.
136  Rivers of water run down from my eyes,  because men do not keep Your law.
It makes me sad to see men not keeping your word.  There s so much peace and joy in doing what you ask of me.  And there is a freedom that this world just does not understand.  There are times that  weep because I know there are so many who are lost, ho do not know your ways and the joy that comes from keeping them.  Help me be a witness to those who do not know you, or your ways Lord.