Category Archives: Daily devotions

(Haggai) What You Believe and What You Choose

In reference to the words of the prophet Haggai, my study Bible says this:

“To acknowledge the Lord as God has implications for ordinary decisions of life. It is to live before One who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and who has an agenda. He has a plan that impinges on the details of our lives.” (CSB Apologetics Study Bible; 2017; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, TN; p1143)

Do you believe in God? Then how does knowing He knows all, sees all, and has a plan for you that requires your obedience, effect the choices you’ll make today? I’m talking about your choice of clothing, the places you choose to go, the thoughts you allow yourself to think. How does your belief in God impact your day-to-day?

Haggai brings up an important point. It has to do with how close we choose to live with sin before we ourselves become stained with sin. He paints a picture of someone in dirty clothes rubbing shoulders with someone clean. Does the cleanness ever rub off on the filth so that the filth becomes clean?

Have you ever hugged a dirty, smelly person, and watched the dirt fall from their clothes, and their stench replaced by the scent of your shower gel? The answer, of course, is NO.

But, if you hug that dirty, smelly person, you walk away with smudges on your clothes, and the lingering scent of body odor on your skin. You walk away needing a bath yourself.

You catch diseases by being close to the diseased. But they never catch your health by being close to you.

Choices. You and I will make them today according to what we believe about God. And your choices will impact whether or not God’s will will be done in your life today.

(Nahum, Habakkuk) Seriously

I am not sure the Church takes God seriously enough. We read about His wrath in the Old Testament against His disobedient children and against His enemies, and breathe a sigh of relief because we live after the cross.

The cross: the symbol of love and forgiveness and hope and eternal bliss.

We forget the cross is also a symbol of judgment without mercy, death, and God’s fierce wrath.

Read these Old Testament books and hear God say no one is immune from His wrath. You can call yourself a Christian all day long. But if you have not repented of past sins, and have determined to change in order to obey God today, you are not a Christian. You are His enemy wearing His name.

You don’t just “give your heart” to the Lord, and go on your merry way. Yes, God is love. He is patient, kind, and forgiving. He blesses and protects His obedient children. But don’t ignore the other side of that coin. He’s not a doting grandfather who turns a blind eye on disobedience.

He will not let the guilty go unpunished.

You are not immune from God’s wrath. But I want you to know God turned His wrath on His own Son for you. Jesus paid God’s awful judgment in your place. Accept it. But don’t take it for granted, either.

God seriously hates sin. We need to take Him seriously, too.

(Hosea 1-3) A Real Life Object Lesson

Hosea lived a dramatic object lesson. It’s so dramatic there are people who believe he never actually married a prostitute. They would tell you God simply gave Hosea a parable to tell to the people, the lesson being what their unfaithfulness looked like to a faithful God. Their reasoning is that God would not tell a priest to marry a prostitute because that was strictly forbidden by God’s law.

Myself? I believe Hosea married a prostitute named Gomer in obedience to God, just like other prophets obeyed God by running around naked, or lying on their side for months at a time, or digging through walls with their bare hands, or burying leather belts. I believe the Jews’ rejection of God was as unthinkable as a priest marrying a prostitute, and that was the point of the object lesson. It was a lesson the Jews wouldn’t miss because Hosea married a real life prostitute.

I see myself in this object lesson – faithless, unclean, disgustingly drawn to sin, yet loved by a faithful God who longs to forgive and restore me to Himself. I see a God who blesses me even though I don’t deserve it, blesses me even though I might be faithful today, yet knowing I’ll fail Him tomorrow.

I want to recognize myself in Gomer, as filthy as she is, and learn a lesson here. Rather than pointing a finger at her, I want to recognize God pointing His finger at me:

“You are a sinner, Connie. But I love you. You are unfaithful, Connie, but I want to forgive you. Come to me, Connie. I long to bring you home.”

So today, as I read this first part of Hosea I am encouraged to return God’s love from a purity that isn’t mine. I want to be the woman he sees in me. I want to please Him rather than myself, love Him like He deserves, and run from any sin that would separate us.

I don’t want to miss what God wants me to learn through Hosea’s real life object lesson.

(Ezekiel 29-32) I AM The LORD

Egypt was never identified with God. They worshiped idols. They were the enemy of God. Yet the Israelites went to Egypt for help instead of going to God. Big mistake.

But here’s what spoke to me today: God repeatedly sent word to Egypt, warning them what the consequences of rejecting Him would look like. Why? Why would God continue to warn His enemies about the devastation that was ahead for them?

“Then they will know that I am the Lord.” (28:23,24,26, 29:6,9,16,21, 30:8,19,25…)

I am reminded that God doesn’t want anyone to die without Him, that whosoever believes on Him will have eternal life, that anyone who believes on the name of Jesus will be saved.

It reminds me how God continually works in the lives of every man, woman, and child to bring them to the realization that He is the Lord. He is the way, the truth, and the life and no one goes to God except through Jesus.

It reminds me that instead of praying God would take away the “plague” of COVID, I should pray that this virus will show the world that He is Lord. Simply praying that God will somehow say the word and the virus would disappear, might be praying against His will that we who have turned our backs on Him will humble ourselves, turn from our sin, so that He can heal our land.

Whether it is a virus, or war, or hurricanes and earthquakes, alcoholism, or cancer, or divided families and churches… whatever the consequences of sin might look like… may it do what God intends it to do.

May we hear Him say in the midst of it all:

I AM the LORD.

(Ezekiel 8-11) God Is On The Move In Your Life

The whole time God is talking to Ezekiel about the coming judgment on disobedient Israel, He is moving. My study Bible identifies ten times the Glory of God moved in chapters 9-11, in Amos 7&9, in Proverbs 21, and in Micah 6. Ten time God was on the move to show us that He actively and anxiously waits for His children to come back to Him.

He continues to do that very same thing. He continues to reveal Himself in this situation and that, in this event of nature and that, in this person and that, so that no one HAS to die in His judgment.

“Here I am,” He seems to say, “And here. And here. See me. Come to me and be saved.”

God is on the move today. He has never just sat on His throne reading the newspaper or playing checkers with angels until a few souls should straggle in. He goes before us. He directs us from behind. He stands beside us, always moving, always calling, always working in each heart and life to give us all every chance to decide to submit to Him and to be saved.

I am overwhelmed this morning by the thought of how passionate God is about saving me, a worthless sinner deserving His judgment. I am overcome with love and thankfulness at how much attention He gives to my walk, every decision I make, every minute of every day.

God is on the move in my life. And yours. Because He doesn’t want either of us to face judgment without Him.

Hear Him say, “I’m here. And here. And here.” Then run to Him and be saved.

(Lamentations) Lord, Bring Us Back

If the Old Testament nation of Israel is a picture of the New Testament Church, all of us should share in Jeremiah’s grief. The frightening truth is that if God could turn His back on His chosen people, if the city of Jerusalem and the temple there could be destroyed, the Church had better pay attention.

Read Lamentations with our modern Church in mind. There are so many spiritual red flags here, from a look at starvation in a spiritual sense, to cannibalism which speaks to me of parents – and church members – who try to get what they want out of God while sacrificing the spiritual needs of their children, to the Church once revered now an object of scorn by the world, and seen as an enemy to be destroyed by some.

We have reason to lament.

God’s protection has always been linked to obedience. But there are people who believe the Church is somehow different, that because Jesus told Peter that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church, that the Church’s position on earth is untouchable.

Israel wasn’t untouchable. Jerusalem wasn’t. The temple wasn’t. And it’s my opinion that the Church in 2021 isn’t untouchable, either. God’s demand to be obeyed is as binding as it was in Jeremiah’s day. And disobedience means separation from God, and destruction.

An obedient Church is untouchable.

I am thankful that every time God warns His children about the coming consequences for our disobedience, He leaves us with a bit of hope. The writer of Lamentations prays:

Lord, bring us back to yourself, so we may return; renew our days as in former times, unless you have completely rejected us and are intensely angry with us. (5:21-22)

Yes, Lord. Bring us back to yourself.

(Jeremiah 23-25) Do We Fear God?

The Jews considered themselves God’s chosen, most loved people on earth. Yet they acted like the rest of the world. They claimed to know God – but they did not fear Him.

Their preachers were preaching lies, and the people were soaking it up. God was about to show them what their lack of fear got them.

I wonder if Christians today really fear God. Our divorce rate rivals that of non-Christians. (yes, many non-Christians choose to live together without marriage, but so do many Christians these days). Some Christians carelessly use the Holy Name of God in their speech. There are Christians who lie, are judgmental, laugh at dirty jokes. Christians blend in with the world more and more every day. And many people who consider themselves Christians don’t even bother going to church on Sunday morning.

I’m not sure we fear God. And I think we are seeing the tip of the iceberg what that lack of fear will get us.

(Jeremiah 14) Accountability

Let me make something perfectly clear: I have never seen a sixty foot Jesus, I have never heard God’s audible voice, I’ve never received a new revelation from God. This blog, my entire walk with the Lord is based solely on the words God inspired men to write thousands of years ago – the Bible.

That being said, I am a teacher. I read God’s Word every day, and do so with an ear to hear God speak to me through it’s pages, to teach me what I need to know for today. God’s voice is heard in the written Word as a verse that stands out as I read, or when I read something in a passage that applies to me in the moment, or when a parallel Scripture comes to mind and reenforces what I need to consider.

Then I often share what I’ve learned in this blog, or when I teach a Bible Study or Sunday School lesson. But I take the sharing of those lessons very seriously, because God takes it very seriously. And judgment is severe for those who claim to speak for God but are “prophesying to you a false vision, worthless divination, the deceit of their minds.” (14:14)

Makes a person think twice before taking on a teaching ministry. Or it should!

But as always, I encourage you not to read the “them” as you read the Bible. God has a warning for all of us who sit under the teaching, or read the opinions of Bible scholars, teachers, and preachers. God is very clear to tell us that when the false teachers are judged for their lies, those who believe their lies will be judged as well.

Brian Houston, Brian Johnson, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Jospeh Smith, Peter Popoff, Joyce Meyer, Buddha or Krishna or Mohammed, etc. Do you know what they preach? Do you believe what they say?

You are responsible for what you believe. God told Jeremiah it didn’t matter that the people were being fed lies. The problem was the people believed the lies.

Dear One, there are a lot of lies being tossed about these days under the guise of Christianity. They are being preached and sung in churches all over the world. Maybe in your own church. Don’t just sit there and accept it just because it sounds Christian. A lie is a lie even if it makes you feel good.

And you will be held accountable for what you do with that lie.

Thank you for reading my blog. Now put it away, and open up your Bible to Jeremiah 14 and read for yourself what God says. If my opinions align with Scripture, accept them. If they don’t, throw them away and let me know why you did. I need to know so that if I am wrong, I can recognize it as sin and repent of it.

Whatever you do, don’t accept everything I say, or what your preacher says, or what that praise song says without first checking it for yourself in the pages of Scripture. Because you will be held accountable for what you believe.

And you won’t be able to blame someone else if you believe the lie.

(Isaiah 60) Everlasting Light

I long for heaven. I long to be where God’s splendor outshines the sun and moon. I long to be where there is no war, no threats of harm, no illness, no hate, a place where peace reigns and righteousness describes our conduct. I long to be caressed by God like a mother holding her nursing child.

Violence will never again be heard of in your land; devastation and destruction will be gone from your borders. You will call your walls Salvation and your city gates Praise. The sun will no longer by your light by day, and the brightest of the moon will not shine on you. The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your splendor. (vs 18-19)

I long for heaven. And I know that one day I will be there, because I have repented of my sin and accepted Jesus’ work on the cross, the penalty I deserved for my sin. I am as sure of my future life in heaven as I am of my life today on earth.

I pray you can say the same. This amazingly peaceful, safe, pure, holy, place filled with love, and void of sorrow is real. It’s reserved for those who know God according to the words He inspired men to write, to those who come to Him through Jesus.

I hope to see you there, where God Himself is our everlasting light.

(Isaiah 53) It Is Enough

God has hidden many of the gory details of Jesus’ suffering. Yet He has given us enough of a glimpse to understand the horror, the excruciating pain Jesus must have endured in order to save each of us.

The New Testament tells us Jesus’ captors beat Him, pulled out His beard, thrashed His back with scourges. Isaiah tells us Jesus was beaten so severely He no longer even looked like a human. I think Jesus must have gone through much more than any of us realize.

Did you watch “The Passion of the Christ” without looking away during the scene depicting Jesus’ beating? I couldn’t watch it. But as I sit here today I remember the sounds of those lashes tearing His flesh. It haunts me. And that was merely Hollywood’s imagination as to what went on.

I looked up what constituted a scourging (truthmagazine.com, The Scourging of Jesus, by David McClister). Maybe you know this. Three leather straps about three feet long were tied together, each with either a sharp stone or bone attached to the end. It was designed to lacerate, to cut deep. The victim was tied to a pole, stripped of his clothing, and a strong man would begin to swing the scourge at the back of the one being scourged.

The victim was “lacerated with scourges even to the innermost veins and arteries, so that the hidden inward parts of the body, both their bowels and their members, were exposed to view.” (Ecclesiastical History, Book 4, chap. 15)

They ripped open Jesus’ back and exposed His internal organs. No wonder He was unable to carry His cross. We know that after this brutal beating, they crucified Him, nailed Him to a cross and watched Him die a slow and painful death.

Now, in my thinking, this is what makes what Jesus did so incredible: at any moment He could have disappeared. He could have struck down the soldier wielding the scourge, turned those leather and stone straps into spaghetti. He could have called ten thousand angels to wipe out the entire city of Jerusalem. Yet He chose to stay. He chose to feel each wound. He wanted to save you more than He wanted to escape.

In fact, I don’t think escaping ever even crossed His mind. He loves you that much.

So my question is, why would anyone think what Jesus did isn’t enough to save? Why would anyone think you need the cross plus something else: baptism, church attendance, good deeds? Can you seriously look Jesus in the eye and tell Him what He did was not enough?

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) He didn’t say except through me plus anything.

If you have not yet looked upon the wounded Jesus and known He did that for love of you, I pray you will do that today. God is able to forgive your sins because Jesus paid your account in full. Jesus took upon Himself your sins and took those lashes you deserved so that when you repent of your sins and accept Him as your Savior, you will be saved.

Because what He did that night is enough.