Devotions and Lessons
Scripture of the Week:
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
Devotions and Lessons
Scripture of the Week:
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
Do you ever get that feeling of uneasiness when you are faced with a change? Do situations cause so much worry that your whole body and spirit are effected? It is quite normal to have certain feelings but when you become obsessed with certain events that trigger your body to shut down, there is a problem.
Anxiety and the state of being anxious are similar but very different. You see anxiousness is a temporary thing that goes away after an event. Anxiety is a mental state that becomes part of a person when left untreated. The unfortunate thing about anxiety is that any stressful event can cause an attack even when the stress is controllable.
God provides direction and treatment for the state of anxiousness to avoid anxiety. All over the Bible we see a call for peace and patience that He provides.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
Because we are human, we try in vain to remedy problems in ways that we can understand. When the remedy does not include prayer and giving oneself over to God, we lose sight of the truth in the situation (most are temporary things) and ourselves.
Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25
Anxiety is a matter of the heart. It is an attack on our faith and trust in God. The devil likes to take us on paths that cause us to forget God and this one affects every part of our being so we cannot be the light that God wants us to be.
We have this tendency to stress over situations that spin out of control when others place us in situations that they cannot control themselves. Instead of doing the right thing and taking control they burden someone else. If one is already suffering from anxiety this only makes matters worse. The right (but sometimes hard) thing to do is to tell the person to take care of the situation themselves. We cannot solve every problem that is why Jesus said,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
By this we are to,
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22
And Peter reminds us:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:6-8
Paul reminds us how to stave of the stress and anxiousness before it takes us over.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
See the world has got nothing on the healing comfort provided by the powerful presence of God in our lives.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:16
All this to remind you that the world can throw many things our way and give us troubles that we cannot handle. God knows this and is there to help us through. He uses people to help us by calm and happy words of encouragement, provide the shoulder, boost our confidence, and many other ways. More importantly, God provides us with a way of communication that comforts us, eases our hearts and minds through prayer and reading His Word.
If there is a situation that you are thrown into be careful not to overburden yourself. Ask the persons involved to do what they know is the right thing to do even if it causes a little pain and suffering. Remember, pain and suffering is meant to be a temporary state, not one that rules over us. Do not worry or stress over situation that are truly out of your control or you risk unwarranted physical and mental discomfort. Think before reacting in a way that causes more undue stress on yourself and others. Do not bring someone else into a situation that you can actually take care of yourself.
Brothers and Sisters, take your burdens to Jesus. He will comfort you and enable a solution. He is our strength when we are weak and can help us through the fire so we come out with the invisible burn marks of learning. We are meant to be caretakers but we must remember to take care of ourselves and the best way is to keep our eyes fixed on God.
Rob, Servant of God
All throughout the Bible the writers speak of the many different formations of God’s Everlasting Love. His Love is described as loyal, undying, unconditional, reckless, amazing, and much more. This morning I want to discuss another way His Love is described and taught that in a way that we can do the same. I am speaking of His Genuine Love. Paul wrote to the Roman believers:
Don’t let love be a mere outward show. Recoil from what is evil, and cling to what is good. Love each other devotedly and with brotherly love; and set examples for each other in showing respect. Don’t be lazy when hard work is needed, but serve the Lord with spiritual fervor. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in your troubles, and continue steadfastly in prayer. Share what you have with God’s people, and practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you — bless them, don’t curse them! Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be sensitive to each other’s needs — don’t think yourselves better than others, but make humble people your friends. Don’t be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but try to do what everyone regards as good. If possible, and to the extent that it depends on you, live in peace with all people. Never seek revenge, my friends; instead, leave that to God’s anger; for in the Tanakh it is written, “Adonai says, ‘Vengeance is my responsibility; I will repay.’” On the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For by doing this, you will heap fiery coals [of shame] on his head.” Romans 12:9-20
Early Rome Community of Believers
The Word and the Way found itself in Rome. At first they were a community ignored by the Emperor and the Senate but during the tyrannical rule of Nero, Christians were blamed for the fires. This caused a great many people to be persecuted and martyred.
Paul found himself in jail numerous times for stirring up trouble. While a loyal Roman citizen would see it that way, Paul and the believers knew different. With the persecutions happening almost daily, Paul wrote to encourage the people and keep their mind on the truth of Jesus.
Let Your Love Be Genuine
This portion of Romans is literally how we are to love our Father, Savior, and one another in a nutshell. Love is not just a face we put on like make up in the morning, it is the deep inward expression from our hearts that have been convicted to care for others before ourselves. This is one of those portions that really does not need deep explanation as it speaks plainly and clearly what and how we should be.
In this portion Paul tells them that they should remain faithful to the teachings through thoughts and actions of loving kindness. We are not to sit back and let others do the work when we are all commissioned to do the same. While Jesus taught us to love our enemies, Paul tells us to also bless them through our love. He teaches that we are all on the same level being that no human is more important than another but accept our lot in life treating everyone with the same humble heart. If someone wrongs you do not return with harmful words or behaviors but instead envelope the person with the Love of God through your actions and words.
I Know it is Hard
Look, I know the difficulties in this age to be what God desires of us to be but if they could do it back then when their actions led to their deaths, we can do it today. What is the worst that can happen to us? Yes in some countries it does mean death but in other countries it means jail, lawsuits, loss of business, etc. If we lose everything then we have gained more than the person(s) that caused it will ever understand. Yes it will be hard but we are not being literally fed to lions or being run through by a sword. Have patience, continue to love no matter the cost, keep your eyes on the prize (as Paul puts it), stay in the Word and the Word will guide you. But mostly, Love one another just as He has loved us.
Rob, Servant of God
King David fully understood God’s Majesty, Mercy, and Grace, but mostly he understood God’s Love which is the all-encompassing, everlasting, and never wavering. The Psalmist expresses this love God has for us in Psalm 136.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;
4 to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever;
5 to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever;
6 to him who spread out the earth above the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever;
7 to him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever;
8 the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever;
9 the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;
10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt, for his steadfast love endures forever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them, for his steadfast love endures forever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for his steadfast love endures forever;
13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two, for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it, for his steadfast love endures forever;
15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, for his steadfast love endures forever;
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness, for his steadfast love endures forever;
17 to him who struck down great kings, for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed mighty kings, for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites, for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan, for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage, for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to Israel his servant, for his steadfast love endures forever.
23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 he who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.
This situation that is used to describe this love is the exodus from Egypt to the eventual establishment in the Promised Land. It is during this time that the Israelites learned the loyalty that God showed to the covenants that God made to the Patriarchs. This is where they learned the challenges that lie ahead and how God’s enduring, tough, and compassionate Love for His Chosen people would guide them and help them through life.
In the first section the Psalmist speaks of the goodness of God and affirms that He is the mightiest above all others. This is proven in the second part through the description of creation where God created all things that bring forth life. We praise God with adoration for without these things we would not be here. God could have stopped at any moment and just left things the way they were but He created stars, sun, and moon, so that He could create us.
In verses 10-16, the Psalmist discusses the end of the Israelite slavery in Egypt. Here we see God’s compassion and grace at work. God’s compassion for the children of Jacob knows no bounds. He shows mercy on them by saving them from the plagues and making the way out of Egypt possible despite the odds that were against them. This section concentrates on the power of God that split the Sea of Reeds (or Red Sea) and made firm a separation from their captivity. God then leads them through trials and temptations (the wilderness) to get through to the Promised Land.
God’s hand is strong and will protect through the evils that stand in the way of God’s plan in our lives. This is emphasized through the next section verses 17-22 where God made a way possible for the Israelites to go home.
The final section shows that God loves us no matter what. He is the loving parent, protector, provider of all things. This is His free gift to all who obey Him. His Grace is enough for us that we should be compelled to be as loyal to Him as He is towards us. His love is fixed in place, sturdy, unwavering, compassionate, tough, and steadfast.
Steadfast is one of the many words used when translating the Hebrew word, hesed which is used in the original text. The word steadfast is a combination of stede (place), and fæst (firmly fixed). So why use this word to describe God’s Love for us? As we see in the previous paragraph, God’s Love has no bounds and is firmly fixed. It does not stand still but moves as the situation needs, much like a parent’s love for a child. The one thing that remains is that it is unconditional, firmly fixed on His creation. Our eyes and heart are fixed on the Father through our love for Him.
Our love for God should never waver even though we know it will because of our nature. That is why God sent His Son as a true personification of His steadfast Mercy and Grace for us. Though we falter we have a Savior that is the true nature of God’s Mercy and Grace, Jesus Christ. He returned the Word to the world that we should follow the best we can. Our faith and trust in Jesus is proof of God’s undying love.
Rob, Servant of God
There are many things involved in keep the heart pure. Jesus says that what leaves the lips is more dangerous than what enters but sometimes what enters the body has more effect on what comes out, especially if it causes other parts of the body to stumble. There are times in Proverbs where you wonder where the mind of the writer was at that time or if the writer was being descriptive of a personal experience. In one particular section the writer sounds like a drunken sailor sitting in a bar.
Who has misery? Who has regret? Who fights and complains all the time? Who gets bruised for no good reason? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who spend their time over wine, those always trying out mixed drinks. Don’t gaze at the red wine as it gives its color to the cup. It may glide down smoothly now; but in the end, it bites like a serpent — yes, it strikes like a poisonous snake. Your eyes will see peculiar things, your mind will utter nonsense. You will feel as if lying on the waves of the sea or sprawled on top of the mast —“They hit me, but I didn’t feel it! They beat me up, and I didn’t even know it! When will I wake up?. . . I’ll go get another drink.” - Proverbs 23:29-35
Grape Juice, The Refreshing Choice
There were so many things infesting the water that it was more common to drink the juice of fruits and vegetables, more so than not, grapes. The juice from grapes was healthier and easier to access since it was an easy crop. People carried around canteens made from animal skin and these would eventually be called wineskins because grape juice would become fermented.
People would also drink olive oil but that was not as popular and definitely not as easy to access. There are great qualities about it but not really a good choice for hydration. Many other liquids were available but grapes were the best choice.
Wine, Good For You But Not in Excess
Mankind has a way of taking a good thing and making it into something that can be enjoyable and dangerous at the same time. As mentioned above, grape juice was a healthier choice for hydration but when they ferment interesting and somewhat dangerous actions can occur. The writer apparently experienced this in one form or another either personally or by observation.
Proverbs are the writings that warn of the evils of this world. This one tells of man’s attempt to remove pain and suffering through means other than the Word, and dependence on God. Dependence on a man- made thing to ease the pain leads to other issues that cause more harm than good.
What Do You Depend On
Alcohol and other forms of “recreational drugs” change a person’s overall appearance and can really mess up the functions of the body when it is the main source of removing misery and pain. The writer expresses this in an almost comedic yet serious manner and tells of how a dependent person will turn to that thing instead of God.
When your mind is clouded, your heart becomes corrupt and malfunctions through either slowing way down or works overtime to move the corruption out of the body. Filling your heart and mind with the Word, and pouring your heart out to the listening ear (spiritual or a close confidant) is much better than depending on something that becomes controlling and does more harm than good.
What Do We Do?
This one is actually very simple. It is okay to enjoy things that give temporary satisfaction but do not take in so much that it completely clouds your judgement and changes your actions. Jesus never said do not drink, He just warns us not to do it in such excess that it becomes the substitute for God. What motivates and helps you function on a day to day basis physically has ramification on your spirit. One thing remains, which one will help you be right in the next life?
There is one way to Heaven and that is the gift of salvation that God provided. No human action can grant a peace such as there is in heaven. Reward seeking for doing works to enter heaven will get you to the gate to look in but the gate will remain closed. No jihad, or ridding of infidels will get rewarded with peace but condemned to darkness.
There is a sense of joy in all sadness when a person is persecuted for their faith. Now I know that seems odd and disjointed when you think of joy but there is more joy for the one who finds his way in through the darkness and does not waiver even though he is surrounded and jaded by those who could not escape the prison of sin. Do you have a situation where you are being persecuted for your beliefs? Persecution comes in many forms not just from people who are staunch believers in another religious or worldly idealism. It could be by those who you call family, friends, or even coworkers. How is your faith?
O the blessedness of those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 5:10
In God’s Kingdom we will find rest from persecution, there is no more pain and suffering for our beliefs. Works alone do not get us into Heaven but an active faithful obedience does. As believers in Christ we should not seek rewards here on earth because we are freely given the reward for our active and living faith. We have no need for motivations such as self-enjoyment or pleasure (70 virgins, glutinous behaviors, etc.) our motivations is simply to solely love and obey the Lord for there we will find rest.
Doing things for the sake of the Kingdom is better than doing things for self-gratification. Having it all on this earth means nothing. As I mentioned in the opening, Salvation from sin is the free gift of Grace and Mercy for God’s creation. We can do nothing on this earth that provides for entrance to Heaven except for an active faithful obedience no matter the situation.
Our God never does anything slow for we cannot place a time limit on the Father. Instead, the Father is very patient and will do things when He is ready. We see this numerous times in Scripture where God either acted quickly (usually to prove a point) or patiently waited till the right moment when absolutely needed (also to prove a point). Patience and slowness may seem the same to us but they are truly different.
The second letter of Peter tells us:
Moreover, dear friends, do not ignore this: with the Lord, one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some people think of slowness; on the contrary, he is patient with you; for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins. However, the Day of the Lord will come “like a thief.” On that Day the heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will melt and disintegrate, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up. - 2 Peter 3:8-10
Time is Irrelevant
Literally speaking, time is a man-made measurement with which some people use to test God. Human understanding makes it known that 24 hours makes one day, 60 minutes make an hour, and 60 seconds make a minute. Some civilizations counted the year according to the season, some by the lunar cycle, others by the stars and rotation around the sun. All these ways mean nothing to the Lord except the separation of day (light) from night (darkness).
The Book of Genesis tells us that God gave us a way to measure a day through the rotation between daytime and night time. Everything we needed to know about the passing of days was and is written in the sky. On the earth, the cycle of the year is written in the seasons. The two seasons of greatest concern were planting and harvest. In the heavens, time does not exist so things happen as God desires and plans them to.
Why Does God Take So Long To Answer Prayers?
Really the question should be if/when does God answer prayers. The answer is yes He does, but not when we desire it. Sometimes we do not even see the direct results of the answered prayer until the situation is resolved in the way God intends it to be. We can ask and ask all day for a month and our persistence may pay off in good ways or even bad ways. It all depends on the intention of the heart and how it expresses the needs and desires of the person or group.
Do Not Challenge God’s Timing
God is never, ever slow in His actions. He patiently waits until the person or persons is truly ready to receive the answer in the way God intends it to be shown. This means we should never test God with a request for an immediate answer, you might regret it.
God is Slow to Anger
So if there is anything that God is slow about, it is His aggressive jealousy and anger. That is His patience with us. What we see as slow, He is actually waiting on us. Think of what we found in the Book of Job and how long it took between Job starting to question God and His patient yet stern answer. Or better yet, how long did God wait to see if Sodom and Gomorrah would change before He had enough. God’s patience with us was tested before He flooded the earth. He gave Noah a long time to build the ark and (not putting words into God’s mouth) was probably hoping mankind would change so He did not have to destroy and rebuild.
What is the Answer?
As God is patient with us, we should slowly wait and be patient with Him. Still be fervent and persistent in prayer but be sure to ask something that you will not regret. If anyone should be slow it should be us. Our hearts are slow to see the patience of God. We are His creation and abide by His rules, His Plan, His Will, His focus, His Grace, Mercy, and Love.
The messages on the blogs written on this page are within biblical adherence. Though the Scriptures listed in the blogs are directly from the Bible and other related religious writings the explanations and interpretations are in line with Biblical thinking as it relates to today’s world. The use of historical facts are to assist in the validity of the writings. The main writer of this blog site is an Ordained minister in one denomination though the views are related to all denominations so if something is said that does not fall in line with your denominational background, pray for personal discernment and understanding.