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.
These days are getting rougher and rougher do deal with. Friends, as we enter into the next era for this country with decisions on who will be the new figure head there are some things we need to consider. Scripture informs us that God wants us to obey those in authority over us because He has plans for us. We may not like it but in the case coming up this November we need to remember that the new leader is just a figurehead who should make right and proper decisions for the good of the people and not their own selfish desires. The issues that come into his or her hands should not be concerning the needs of the one or two but for the safety of our country and our way of life.
Our ultimate leader is God. He has already given us His standards of living and those are what we should abide by. When God's law is overruled by man's decisions we must not sit idly by and let it happen which is what many have done. God tells us to love one another just as He has loved us so what does that mean? Do we give in to their whims of fancy? No. Do we tell them it is okay to sin? No. Our love to our neighbor is one of loyalty and trust, a sharing of God's Word in His loving kindness. A humble leaning to listen while they open up in their pain. It is sharing in the joy of childbirth and being the shoulder for when someone dies. It is Caring, Sharing, Helping, Chiding.
When we do our civic duty and vote we must choose wisely even with the knowledge that this government is ran by the person who could raise enough funds to buy the electorates. We need to reach into the heart of the electoral college (through prayer) that they make the decision based on merit and not the idol of money. Stay strong in faith and love. God will guide us.
May Jesus come soon and provide for us the Way as it was in the time He walked the earth with Adam. Pray for discernment that our leaders will rely on faith and not false idols.
God's Grace and Mercy be with you all,
There’s just something about Andrew The Apostle that really gets me excited for Christ. Andrew was a Disciple of John the Baptist who met Jesus along with John (the Beloved) who would be the first to begin following Him in the ministry. The reason Andrew is an exciting figure? Andrew is known for bringing people directly to Christ. Andrew was drawn to Jesus’ teachings and since John the Baptist was only a prophet, he sent Andrew to follow and learn from Jesus. Andrew brought Simon Peter to Jesus. He brought the young man with the bread and fish to Jesus. He along with Phillip, brought Greeks to meet Jesus and Jesus prophesied to them of the Word getting out to the world.
Andrew is the epitome of the Fisher of Men for the Glory of God.
When John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God, something must have stirred deep within Andrews soul. You know that butterfly feeling we get when we are around someone we love. Andrew was compelled to learn from Him and stayed near just listening to Jesus’ Words. Thus, Andrew enjoyed precious moments of intimacy with Jesus.
Lesson One: Listen Close and Get Excited for the Lord
When we first met Jesus through someone telling us of him or by learning from our parents about our Savior, there was this mystery about who He is. Once digging deeper and learning more the excitement about wanting to be a part of Him and having Jesus in our hearts in order to tell others about Him just was so crazy good. Then we hear that still small voice inside welcoming us home. I know I shouted His name in praise and worship.
After this, Andrew invited Jesus to come to Galilee where his brother Simon Peter was taking care of the family business. He was skeptical about Jesus thinking Jesus was just another prophet that Andrew would follow for a while then would disappear. Boy was he wrong. Peter was so determined to test Jesus that he challenged Him. After Jesus showed Simon Peter that He knew where to fish, he gave in and dropped his nets to follow Jesus.
Lesson Two: Sometimes people need to see to believe (remember this one we may see it again)
Andrew brought Jesus to Simon Peter so that he may follow Him. We will suffer challenges in our time when people may not believe because they do not see the full results of Jesus in our lives and need proof. That is when we give them a Bible or pamphlet and ask the them to read something. Well, what they do not see is the private prayer that we speak for them to see Jesus work in their own lives. Of course the proof seekers may need additional things so an archaeological Bible may come in handy. The point is pray that they may see with their heart for the proof they need. Jesus will provide.
The third thing to look at involves Andrew and the Bread and Fishes. Jesus had a very large crowd listening and it was getting to be time to eat. What is said here highlights the realism of Andrew’s thought, as he was still learning who Jesus really is. The question in his mind was, "but what good is that for so many?", and recognized the insufficiency of his minimal resources. Jesus, however, knew how to make them sufficient for all those present. Jesus is basically letting Andrew and the Disciples know that He is enough and if they need physical food to survive, He will provide and bring more than what is sufficient.
Lesson Three: Trust Jesus that when you think you just don’t have enough to survive, He will provide you with what you need.
Ever have that time where you just could not provide for your family. You know, that Thanksgiving where you couldn’t afford to give your family a decent meal. You pray and next thing you know, Jesus provides through friends and neighbors. That happened to us. PRAYER WORKS. Jesus provides for the humble faithful servants even when you begin to doubt.
Andrew’s purpose was to bring people to Christ and move others to follow Him. He was not part of the “inner circle” but brought the ones who would be to Him. Andrew will always be remembered as the first called by Christ.
Pope Benedict said that Andrew will be remembered as the Apostle to the Greeks especially after the Pentecost. You could say that he was the first Apostle to truly take the Word to those who were called Gentile.
Peter grew in faith within those three years of personally knowing Jesus but still had some human issues. Peter’s penchant for aggressive behavior and questioning everything exposes some of the major human frailties when it comes to fully understanding the spiritual. Jesus returned and in His ascension appoints the breath of God to enter in His stead and the Disciples (now Apostles) received the Holy Spirit, their lives completely changed. Peter was a more compassionate person, still maintaining some aggression as needed but a very compassionate man who was a warrior for Christ.
So what other lessons can we learn from Peter’s life?
Peter’s mouth and mind sometimes did not work together as we discovered last week when Jesus exclaimed that Satan had stepped in to his speech. Once again in the Upper Room (according to Luke and John) or on the Mount of Olives (Matthew and Mark) Peter took lead in an argument after the washing of feet over who is the greatest Disciple. This lesson is two-fold.
The first thing we need to look at here is that “No one Christian is greater than another”.
We are all part of the Body of Christ and even though this was a dispute basically of who would take the lead, it must be noted that Jesus was saying that they all had an equal share in the Kingdom. Though we have persons with the calling to be leaders in the church, we are all still equally human and thus equally bound to Christ. Yes the judgement will be a little harsher dependent on spiritual gifts and how they were used but we are still equally human.
Peter in his infinite wisdom said that he specifically would follow Jesus to prison and even unto death (Luke 22:33) however Jesus knew that the human side of Peter would fear it because he truly was not ready.
Lesson Two: When you say you will commit, be truthfully committed.
Lack of Commitment denies our faith. Human frailty shows our fears of rejection from others and death for our faith. We need to be fully committed to suffer persecution for our beliefs.
When we take responsibilities in the mission of the church we must fully commit our heart soul and mind to those commitments. Yes sometimes our worldly responsibilities or mental states (exhaustion) get in the way but we must remain committed to the cause of Christ.
Jesus did forgive Peter for his denial and empowered him because of his faith and leadership after Jesus had died. Peter cared more for the safety of the believers and his children than for his own. This leads to our next lesson.
Lesson Three: Keep the Word/Truth/Jesus in your heart and He will protect you.
How often did Peter suffer for the faith? He was beaten, jailed, whipped, and eventually martyred for his firm belief in Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus always looked after Peter and though he suffered, he maintained the desire to serve and spread the Word.
When he dealt with Paul, he finally understood that Jesus wanted all people saved and not just the Jew. . When asked to be the head of the church Peter knew that all the Apostles were equal and no one was worthy to be leader over all Christians. Finally, when Peter was to be executed, tradition states that Peter wanted to be crucified upside down because he was unworthy of suffering as Jesus did. After he died he was venerated as the “first” Pope (Vicar) or substitute for Christ while in life he did not want that because as he understood there is no earthly substitute for God on earth.
We can learn a lot from Apostle Peter and I am not talking about Peter whom the Catholics venerated as the First Pope when he did not desire that. I am talking about Peter the Rock (Cephas), Peter the Fisherman, Peter the Disciple who Questioned His Master, Peter who Thought He Could Walk on Water Himself, Peter the Declarer, Peter the Denier, Peter the Forgiven, Peter the Valiant, and Peter the Man of God.
Peter was a simple fisherman whose life was turned upside down when Jesus came into his life. He was a gruff man who paid little heed to others and was more concerned with caring for his family than worship having no time for “frivolous activities”. This sounds like some people we know today doesn’t it? Maybe even it was our own lives.
Think of that moment that we read about of when Peter met Jesus for the first time. His brother told him about Jesus and still wanted nothing to do with him until that day when very few if no fish were being netted up. Jesus directed Peter to a place on the lake and told him to drop the nets there. Lo and behold, there were so many in the net it nearly toppled the boat.
Lesson One: Listen to the Father because He truly does know best.
Peter was a bit hesitant and did not believe what Jesus was telling him to do at first. When He finally gave in and did what Jesus asked. The result, he fed the community for a week from the haul. God guides us to do the right thing when we listen. There is no entitlement here. He desires us to listen and learn from the actions we do that follow His direction to us. If we do not listen, there is a good chance we will fail only to be picked up once we learn from our mistakes.
Then there was the moment that Peter walked on water when Jesus commanded him. Well, Peter got distracted by the world (the wind and rolling water) causing him to fall into the water. Jesus was there to lift him up and save him from drowning. Jesus exclaims, “Ye of little faith”.
Lesson Two: Keep your focus on the spiritual and not so much in the world, if you fall Jesus is still there, you just have to look.
Peter was distracted by the world around him and lost focus on what mattered most. As difficult as it is in this day and age, our focus should on Jesus. He is the one who saves us, His is the world beyond this one and we cannot take the current world with us. When we begin to rely on worldly things we change our faith and trust. Keeping our eyes on Jesus places Him deep within us so we won’t lose ourselves to sin.
When Jesus asked the Disciples "Who do you say that I am?" Peter was the first to proclaim Jesus as Son of God.
Lesson Three: Do not be afraid to speak truth of Jesus and share your Faith.
When we proclaim that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, The Life, The Son of the Living God, Our Savior, we are telling the world where our loyalties and our faith lies. Do not be afraid to share Jesus.
When Jesus told the Disciples that He must go into Jerusalem and Peter basically told Jesus it was a bad idea and Jesus berated him. What was Peter thinking?
Lesson Four: You cannot stand in the way of God’s Plan (aka God is in Control not You)
God’s Plan is just that, His. Even with our free will we do not have a say in God’s Ultimate Plan for us. When God directs, go His way. If He calls, answer. I learned the hard way in my youth not to go against God’s Plan but after much soul searching and opening my ears and heart (and many bumps in the road) I broke down and listened closer than ever before. I have been faithful and He has blessed.
These first four lessons from Peter’s life with Christ. It does not stop there. Stay tuned later this week as we look at Peter’s reactions during Jesus last 24 hours and what happened after.
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13
Who were these men and why were they speaking of Saving Grace. They were not part of the Sanhedrin, in fact they wanted the Apostles dead. They had no formal school training, their training was living and learning directly from the Word Himself. This means that they got to know Jesus in a way that we will never physically see. The class room was the world and the relationship with the teacher was so personal that they were more than teacher/student, they were a family.
Why am I introducing in this way? Well, each of the twelve had certain attributes and personal lessons they had to learn in order to truly speak and spread the Gospel and share their lessons with the world. Each one had a way of life we can relate to. Like the twelve, we have lessons to learn that get us closer to God in many ways. Over the next twelve weeks we will focus on an Apostle and learn lessons from their life through mistakes and successes according to Scripture and extra-biblical writings from the areas they ministered to. This week we will start with Cephas (Peter) the fisherman who would be known to Catholics as the First Pope.
Sometimes people take Scripture out of context and say “It is speaking about me” when really it was directed to a specific person or people group at a specific moment in time and dealing with very specific issues. The Bible, being God’s Word, is the life instruction manual for those who believe with some hints on His plans for all; and how His creation will be dealt with in the final days. It is also a History book that tells us how others relationships with God and the world sometimes did not equal good times. Yes, lessons can be learned from all Scripture but we cannot just pick and choose what we believe pertains to us and ignore the rest. That is why reading and understanding Scripture is very important when it comes to how we, as Christians, present it to the lost. Case in point, when Paul wrote His letters to believers in specific towns and specific people, not everything can be translated into our daily walk with Christ. Take for instance 2 Timothy 3 10-17, where he gives a final charge to Timothy.
10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The first thing we see in this charge is that Paul is reminding Timothy about himself and some of his persecutions. He says these to give hope to Timothy so as he faces adversity he understands that God, through the Holy Spirit, is with him. Verse twelve is for all Christians because we will suffer persecution at the hand of those who are against us. There is hope as the evildoer will get what is deserved, though it may take a while.
Here is that part that definitely pertains to all Christians, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 timothy 3 16-17).” This is where we get in the picture. Understanding this puts us in the right frame of mind to be in Christ and not just believe.
ISSUE: Not every Christian was raised with a firm spiritual foundation in Christ. Timothy was (v.15). He also lived a life in Christ his whole life; while not many today can say that they paid attention to Jesus since birth. Timothy grew up with the understanding that faith in Jesus saved Him. Some do not see that until it is almost too late.
What happened and how can we translate it to work? Through the early 1900s the Bible was a part of everything that happened. It was read as bedtime stories and taught in school. Prayer, praise and worship, and forgiveness were a part of everyday life. We have lost this when free thinking individuals no longer wanted to hear about an-all powerful being who controlled their lives. They were probably also tired of waiting for Jesus to return. So, we lost the truth in Jesus. A resurgence occurred when misinterpretations allowed people to believe they could be saved then continue to live in their sinful ways. We say that early Hebrew worship practices and even practices during the time of a directly after Jesus are outdated. The traditions of man created by the Popes and early councils were created for control of the masses and attempts to rid the “new religion of Jesus” of all things Jewish. They would have had to remove the truth about Jesus to fully accomplish that one.
SOLUTION: What can we do? Get back into the Whole Word and see the truth of it. Do not be picky and create a doctrine using totally disconnected verses (i.e. Prosperity Gospel). Reach into the ancient writings and understand the difference between traditions created by man versus worship deemed righteous by God.
Christ, through knowledge of His good works in us by the Word prepares us to do good works through our growing faith. This excerpt from 2 Timothy is an example of Scripture speaking directly to Christians; but more specifically Timothy and in retrospect Pastors, Elders, and Deacons, and not the whole world.
In Conclusion: Do not confuse all Scripture to mean something directly to our function as a Christian, we need all of it to understand where we came from, what we are doing now, and where we go from here.
When Moses was speaking in Deuteronomy he gave the one commandment that covers all ten and the subsidiary statutes. It is recorded for us today as Deut. 6:5.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all of your soul and with all of your might”
What is Moses saying when He is telling the Hebrews that this is what God commands. This seems impossible to do. Giving all your heart, mind, and soul to an entity we cannot even physically see, touch, or feel seems like a strange request but it really isn’t when you look at what the actual word used in Scripture means. The Hebrew word used in this verse is ahav. At its most basic translation means fidelity. So what does this boil down to? Loyalty. We always hear that God has the “agape” love for us which He does but He commands us to have not just the extreme devotion of agape but the loyalty of ahav . This is the strongest, most endearing type of love there is. When a man and woman join together in the holy ordnance of marriage, they are commanded by God to have all the definitions and characteristics, and values that define love rolled into one. This does not truly echo the recent human nature saying, “Love is Love” because that is not clearly defined to the common non God fearing and they do not understand the ramifications of what they are trying to say.
In Corinthians 13 where Paul talks of love, he is talking about God’s love for us and how we should echo it without holding any of it back. Nowhere does it equate love with lustful sexually immoral desires of humankind. He is simply stating the solid truth about what true love is which is total devotion to God and His creation.
God’s Love: uninhibited, requited, patient, kind, binding, selfless, honorable, trusting, unfailing, honest, abhors evil intent, forgiving, not given into pride or boastfulness and NOT blind. That is the definition breakdown of the characteristics of love that this generation needs to comprehend.
If we are to love our neighbor’s as ourselves we need to reach deep and check if we have God’s love in us. Without God’s love and acting on our own human instincts we will fail. With God’s Love and sharing His (not ours) loving kindness towards others we will succeed.
There is something going on in the Church that is very challenging to some belief systems and traditions. It has made many people think twice about doing something they should not, while others continue to live the way they want to because "Jesus saved me so I can do whatever I want and I am still good". There is also the, "What you put in the offering plate dictates your membership." Or the ever popular, "You committed these sins and even though you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you do not have the right to do anything to serve others." When I heard that last one had happened to a dear friend I almost went to that particular church and could have had a Jesus Temple incident. My faith and the Word stopped me. So what is happening, Pastors are seeing a trend of fake, lukewarm Christians and calling them out. Paul took some of these issues and gave the Galatians a what for. Let's look at Galatians 4:8-16.
"But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain. Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all. You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me. Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?"
I tell you what, I would not have wanted to be on the receiving end of that letter. Thing is, that is how I feel sometimes when some "holier than thou" Christians easily condemn people and do things their own way and refuse to hear the truth of the Scripture. That last verse speaks volumes for Pastors, Chaplains, and Evangelists (basically all clergy) who do their best to speak only the truth of things without sugarcoating (ex. repent once and your good) or preaching false doctrine (ex. prosperity gospel). Sad thing is, the ones that stand firm in Scriptural, Gospel, Truth are the ones that are sometimes burned at the proverbial stake because of wounding someone's feelings. When the Truth hurts, examine yourself before blaming others. If you feel condemned or convicted then look at your own stint before jamming one elsewhere. Do not be a Judas, be like one of the others who listened attentively and learned.
Challenge: Take a deep breath and read a book of the Bible you have been putting off. But do not just read it, pray over it for a deeper understanding.
We live in a time where God's Word is constantly being put to a test, ignored, changed, and mostly overruled. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, if this continues then we will be the dying breed. One of the problems we have is actually the culmination of the beliefs and traditions we have inherited from years past. Man did not even wait 100 years after the last Apostle died to begin distorting the Word and placing his own interpretation on things that are Holy. We need to remember the words that Paul wrote to the Romans 12 verses 9-21 about being Christian:
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Now, I know that is this day and age it is tricky and this seems like it is easier said than done but it is not really. When someone wrongs you, confront but do not cause harm. Forgive, not strike and let the letter of the law do it's justice. Do not take up a cause with violence but if oppressed, show mercy to the oppressor. Did not Jesus tell His Disciples according to John 13, " A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Remember that kindness towards an enemy heaps burning coals.
Now when the law of the land and other religions try to oppress we must take a stand for Jesus. We must ensure our oppressors know that we will not be shaken by the Devil's snare. Brothers and Sisters, take heed in His Word so we can prosper. Above all, keep His Commandment and remember God's Loving Kindness.
If you have a Christian Brother or Sister who has fallen into the trappings of Societal Christianity and have lost the truth, bring them back. It may be a rough road but we need to get back to the heart of God. The Adversary has tested and tempted man to the point where we can almost no longer turn back. Be vigilant in God's Love. Show mercy and do not turn to violence. Turn the other cheek and do not let the enemy break you.
All creation matters to God, we are designed to take care of it but for some reason we cannot even do that right. So I challenge you to stand firm and do right by His Word. To be the Christian you need to be.
Think about it.
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.