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.
In Ecclesiastes, the preacher discusses many things of the world including wisdom itself only to conclude that it is all vanity, or temporary and worldly things that cannot be taken into the next life. Though he speaks of there being a time for everything under the sun that is just it, under the mortal sun which will pass away. As God’s creation, we should be able to realize what is right and proper to be doing with our time while remembering that our time is borrowed. Many in this world make the most of it by living of the world and losing everything while truly gaining nothing. When someone gains much in the world and cares only for what pleases the individual all the while forgetting his/her origins and their faith, the person becomes lost in self-indulgence.
Let us read what Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 says about “The Vanity of Self-Indulgence”
2 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.[a] 2 I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” 3 I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. 4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines,[b] the delight of the sons of man.
9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
Self-Indulgence is defined as: indulging one's own desires, passions, whims, etc., especially without restraint. I bet we all know someone who is like that or can name a few celebrities who are within that definition.
This is a dangerous path to tread brothers and sisters. As good as it may feel, what use is it when you can no longer enjoy it yourself. Granted some would love to leave an inheritance for their children where they basically want for nothing but what happens when it runs dry or the skeletons of your past catch up with them. The problem with the “me” society is they believe they are entitled to things of which they are not. Even the smallest silver spoon cannot feed for very long. Though you may accomplish one thing that may help others, the indulgences of the flesh are not immortal. Pools of water dry up, trees and plants may wither away, the flesh fails but God’s Word remains. Do not indulge in the earthly pleasures gained through work, use them so that others may see God’s grace as you use the spiritual gifts which help others in their time of need. Jesus will take care of you as you have taken care of others. Feed others who hunger, give drink to those who thirst, and cloth those who are naked.
Brothers and sisters, take heed in the Words of Ecclesiastes as it speaks of the dangers of worldly pleasures and our iniquities. Look towards the Father to find the narrow path that leads to life everlasting. All other things are vanity, and there is nothing gained under the sun.
Are you the type of Christian who would very much like to do something for others, but who did not see how it could be done? Then you are like Apostle Philip. The Gospel of John states that Philip was one of the first to whom Jesus spoke the words, “Follow Me”. Philip brought Nathanael (Bartholomew) to Jesus. Two things to note about Philip are that he knew who to react to and reach a skeptic, and that he had a missional instinct. He was a warm-hearted pessimist who loved Jesus while understanding his place in the world.
You could call Philip the first apologist who could answer the skeptics without missing a heartbeat. Philip taught many in such a way that the Word spread through Northern Africa and Greece quite quickly.
What can we learn from him?
1. Jesus can change our outlook
The negativity of Philip was changed with the miracles of Jesus. It wasn’t instant as we discover with the feeding of the 5000, and the Samarian woman but he eventually changed. Even though we do not have Jesus here in the flesh to make miracles happen, they still do. Scripture teaches us to have a positive outlook on life because a negative one leads to anger, bitterness, and hate. Even in the face of adversity we need to remember that God loves us enough that He sheds His Grace upon us and Jesus showed us Mercy through His sacrifice. God could have let us all be swarmed in the darkness of death and a life without Him because of our sins but His love for His creation knows no boundaries.
2. Develop a Servant’s Heart
Philip was able to be released from his negativity right from the start and his first mission in outreach was almost right away with Nathanael. Our change to servanthood takes time and is given to a full desire to share God’s Word but we are charged with spreading the gospel starting with our family and friends. Because we do not have the Great Teacher right here in the flesh, we depend on each other as Christians to build our faith. Trusting in others as they trust in us, being there at a moment’s notice and placing our full dependence on God instead of the world helps enrich and expand our hearts to the fullness of His Grace.
Philip brought many to Christ and died by hanging in Hierapolis. He began as a fisherman in Bethsaida and finished his time on this earth as a servant of Christ.
I was reading Psalm 45 for my morning devotional the other day and something in it hit me hard. When I saw the part that is normally separated as a second stanza or verse I cried out in anguish because what I read from verses 4-7 has been forgotten by most of the last two maybe three generations. It states:
4 One generation shall praise Your works to another and shall declare Your mighty acts.
5 I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wondrous works.
6 Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts and I will declare Your greatness.
7 They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness and shall sing of Your righteousness.
What concerns me is this: Is this meant only for those who truly believe, the ones who did not fall into the trappings of the manmade Christ, or is this meant for the world and we just have not spread it out enough for the world to understand it. I mean look at it….
The older generation is to praise and declare (teach, inform, make known) God’s Word so that others will know God. Wait a minute…That sounds like Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. There it is twice in Old Testament Scripture. Jesus reiterates it when He was chided for teaching the children, really, so it started back then but it has gotten worse. So those who forget the Old Testament have Jesus to remind them.
I have heard some say, “Christianity has no place in today’s world.” So I retort back, “Christianity thought is needed in this world with all the immorality today. Without God’s Word to guide us we would be the most degenerate generation and the world would belong completely to the Adversary.” Without God looking out for us, this place would be in such a state of demoralization and filled with hate. We would definitely kill each other off.
We have taken the world for granted when we are actually supposed to be the caretakers of His creation. We have hunted and poisoned animals into extinction, poisoned the air, the water and by proxy, the land. We have not meditated (thought deeply, been concerned) about His work of creation. We have squandered it.
Some have said that God is dead and we are in control of our own actions, our own lives, our fate, and all this is the result of free will or free thinking. Some declare themselves god in their own eyes and not understanding the greatness of God.
Finally, we have those who forget where they came from. They cannot remember the lessons of their youth and how great the involvement of God was in their lives through the parents. But we know because…..
OK so we have many people who claim to be Christian but are they??? Do they really know what it means to live a Christ like life? Christianity is not an ethnic group, it is for all humanity.
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy.
The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. (Psalm 45:8-9)
So what do we do? Wake up, follow Jesus and allow Him in. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Let’s finish Psalm 45 with the 14th through 21st verses.
The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season.
You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.
The Lord preserves all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy.
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh shall bless His holy name
Forever and ever.
Now do you understand??????? Go an share the Word. Bring God back to the forefront of this nation.
How blessed is humankind that God created women. Without women, we would not be here. She is a precious jewel that shines bright, priceless and blessed. She is not a possession that can be sold nor a showpiece to be displayed or ridiculed for all to see.
Eve has received a bad rap from all the mess about the fruit from the tree. She has been blamed for enticing Adam after being enticed herself by the serpent. Because of this, women have been treated horribly ever since.
God created woman to be what is translated as helpmeet or companion. Man and woman He created them. He created them to live with one another, one is no greater than the other. A woman completes the man so that they can become one. Which means they complement each other mentally and physically. The woman’s personal body should only be seen by the man that is her husband, no one else.
Man should not treat woman as a slave, a sexual object, or one to be admired in a lustful manner (especially another’s wife). Since the beginning when sin entered the world, women have been look upon as second class citizens owned by man. They have been placed in compromising positions requiring undesirable things to occur. God did not create woman for that purpose.
The morals and ethics of today’s society are corrupted worse than any time in written history. How did we get to the point where a woman gains popularity by being scantily clothed or nude and the society idea of beauty is her only talent? Or the, my daddy is rich so I will popular by making men desire me no matter what I have to do. Why do some think that if they act a certain sensual way that they will gain human love and acceptance. I mean really, grabbing ones genitals while writhing around on stage and singing a sexually suggestive song, what is a man supposed to think? It is morally wrong to discuss and show private matters of desire and lust in public.
I could list all the Scriptures stating the right and proper treatment of each other but that would make a very long writing.
Young ladies who are in Middle and High School and even into College. Just because someone makes you feel special and treats you like a princess does not mean you must give yourself to him (or her). You are still young and that can wait. If the person truly loves you then the person will wait.
Women of any age are human beings, not animals to be sold into servitude, used, or beaten. They are not receptacles for bodily fluids because some man is horny. They are not objects of desire to be used for lustful means then left to fend for themselves when a child is involved.
Men of God, correcting these wrongs starts with us. We must be vigilant in ensuring that the banter comes to a halt. Stop men from treating women in such a way that it disrespects or harms them. Hold our fellow man responsible for their actions against women both mentally and physically. I wonder how those who treat women this way would react if the shoe was on the other foot.
Woman, thou art beautiful. Do not let any man treat you as an object, you are a person, a Child of God.
James, Son of Zebedee, was the elder brother of John and a fellow Son of Thunder. He was zealous for Christ and did not mince words and actions when it came to the life of Jesus and the Faith that developed within. There is not much known about him except that he was part of the inner circle with John and Peter and that he died by the sword 17 years after Christ being the second martyr (first being Stephen whose death was called for by Saul).
Being the elder brother of the one whom Jesus loved one has to wonder if He shared the same love for the elder brother. According to scholars of the past century, it is possible that because of James’ temper and zeal, Jesus may have showered extra compassion for him so that he would learn compassion and love for all men and not just Jews.
We would find out later in the Acts of the Apostles that this is true. But there remains an issue. Since there were three men named James who were close to Christ, one being step brother to Him, some of the historical accuracy was lost in literature. What we do know can be broken down into many lessons but these three life lessons stick out.
1. We, as Christians, must be willing to sacrifice everything for Christ, even our own life.
As is said many times in Scripture, Jesus desires our full devotion. “Because He once loved us” remains true today as it did when He made that one time sacrifice. That by the way is the once talked about in that saying. It is not, as some say, that He loved us one time in our lives then forgot, not by any means. God’s love is eternal and our sacrifice for Him is our full devotion to everything in His name even to our death.
2. Change due to faith in Christ Jesus is inevitable and necessary.
To know and love Christ is to attempt to emulate Him in all things we do. For some people this means a major change in our lives. This means asking (not begging) for forgiveness for past mistakes. Making amends with those who persecute us even if they were the ones who wronged us. Showing care and compassion rather than hate, bigotry, and disgust because of simple differences is the way we should be living. We must learn to love unconditionally as Jesus loves us.
3. Riches and fame are not important, strength in faith and willingness to give silently of the self is.
There are some who want to written in the annals of history as great men and women but they believe that riches and fame is the way to accomplish this. They flaunt their riches and attain control through the greedy desires of others. Some gain fame through being a preacher of the word some want to hear rather than what they need to hear. Some do not give without making it known (flaunting their “helping others”) and do not even mention God. The silent anonymous giver, the person who serves without desire for compensation, the searcher for souls who gives all glory to the Father and takes not for the self. That is who we should be.
James learned this through being directly associated with Christ. He learned this through watching Christ and learning from His mistakes of attitude towards others, even his own kin. James the Great (Older one of the two) would die by the sword speaking the Truth in Christ. Never regretting the day he left his father’s nets in the Sea of Galilee, sacrificing everything for the Glory of God.
What three lessons can we learn from John’s life?
Before we knew Christ, some of us were definitely not good little boys and girls. Gamblers, thieves, divorcees, other miscreants and violators of the Ten Commandments. We all did something we are not proud of.
1. No matter what we had done in the past; if we give everything of ourselves to Jesus, He will make something wonderful from us.
We are a people filled with rough edges and are not worthy of God’s Mercy and Grace. It is through God’s Mercy that He sent us Jesus so that we could be receivers of God’s Grace. John gave himself freely to Jesus and through the years became the example of love. He must have been a hard mold to break but John had a long life to learn of Jesus everlasting love and patience. Once we give ourselves over to Christ, He takes the clay that we are and remolds us into His body. Every piece of our very heart that is turned over becomes new in Him and our past iniquities are forgiven. We are redefined as God’s inheritance and given new life.
Because we are unworthy, we can never fully understand the reasoning behind why God would still love us. Even in our lowest moments and our sinful lives, Jesus loves us.
2. Jesus loves us even as we are is a truth that we should never get over.
Just because we know that Jesus loves us, we should not take it for granted. Just because He loves us does not mean that we can go on living in our sinful ways. We should never forget that Jesus sacrificed Himself for our sinful nature and we should strive to emulate Christ in His Godly ways while forgoing our sinful past.
The older we get, the more set in our ways we are, the more we want to relax, some decide to leave the missions to the young and only give Christian advice to the parents and not concern themselves with the youth. Because we are older, traditions are well settled in us and we cannot escape them without force sometimes.
3. No matter how old we may be, God can use us to accomplish great things.
I do not care if you are 13, 30, 60, or even 90, God will use you on His time and for whatever purpose He has set aside for you. John lived to be 100 and had to be carried into the church sometimes to speak. Here is the best part: His messages were all about God’s Love and how we should emulate it. He never stopped speaking about Jesus and changing souls for Christ.
These were lessons from the life of John. We have seen Christ through Andrew, Peter, and John, so next up is James, the other “Son of Thunder”.
John is the only Apostle that did not become a martyr. He died from old age after exile in Patmos. I know this is a strange way to start this but it is a very important point because Jesus chose him to care for His mother Mary. Thinking on this more, since Jesus is God Incarnate then He would have known John’s devotion and finally his fate making him the perfect one to entrust His mother’s well-being.
John was younger brother to James (whom some confuse as brother to Jesus) the sons of Zebedee, and was the third to follow Jesus. Tradition places John as a cousin to Jesus through his mother Salome being a possible sister of Mary but we do not have concrete evidence. This may be why he and James were part of the “Inner Circle” along with Peter.
His name means, “The Lord is Gracious”, which actually is far from the truth of him until John’s later years. John was an aggressive young man, passionate, zealous, and personally ambitious which explains why Jesus called him and James, “Sons of Thunder”. These attitudes would make for great lessons in faith and changing outlooks on life in Christ. He is the prime example of what can happen if we allow Christ to remake us in His image, while His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
Everyone knows John as the "Beloved" but why is that? Four times in Scripture the description of the love is agape while one is philos. So in the literal sense of the passages John should be described as, "the one whom Jesus kept on loving". He showed this love by the deep compassion for John as he grew from angry youth to gentle, kindhearted, and loving old man.
John was the spiritual one of the group. He was did not question the fact of the truth in the Resurrection and was the first to notice Jesus along the sea side. John would later have a vision in the Spirit that would take him deep into the realm of present/future events so that he could forewarn all of us through his Revelation. He understood the fact that Jesus is eternal, was there in the beginning as the Word through which the world was created, and will be there at the end of all things.
John lived for a full century and it is said he died in Ephesus. He continually talked about tolerance and love. Considering his youth, John learned that intolerance was not a characteristic that Jesus would have us continue and that the greatest thing is 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.