Category Archives: Daily devotions

A Benevolent Master

Genesis 47

Submitting ourselves into God’s hands is a process. He reveals an area of our lives we need to turn over to Him and when we do, He blesses us! But before long He lays His finger on another area of our lives we have yet to submit to Him. And He’s always faithful to bless us when we lay that part of our lives at His feet.

I see that truth demonstrated in Joseph’s dealings with the people during the famine here in the book of Genesis. He didn’t start out by making them slaves. Yet gradually, as they submitted one thing at a time, they become totally dependent on Pharaoh for everything. They gave up their money, their flocks, their land and family, and finally themselves.

But in doing so, they received everything they needed in their lives. They became willing servants to a benevolent master.

Do you see the comparison? The Apostle Paul often identified himself as a slave or servant of Jesus. Is that where you are in your own walk with the Lord? Or are there areas in your life you’re still holding onto, reluctant to give up control?

Let me urge you today to submit that person, or dream, or attitude, or activity to the Lord. The blessings far outweigh your struggle to remain in control. Give your “self,” your family, your health, your plans, your pride to God and become a willing slave to The Benevolent Master.

(I Timothy) The Richest Man In Town

What does God think about the health and wealth/prosperity gospel as preached by the likes of Myer, Copeland, Jakes, Hinn, Robertson, Osteen, etc? In I Timothy 6:2-10 He’s pretty clear. The Apostle Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit calls it false doctrine, godlessness, and the teachers conceited know-nothings, “whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain.”

He goes on and says some people who crave wealth have actually walked away from the faith. It’s that serious.

Please change the channel. If you are listening to prosperity preachers you are in danger. God is asking you to be content with what you have. Not simply resigned to it, but actually ok with it. Content.

Do you take joy in your relationship with Jesus, or would you find a bit more joy with a heftier bank account? You are in danger if you equate God’s blessings with material gain. Believing there is a correlation between God’s blessings and wealth is believing false doctrine.

Be content.

Now that doesn’t mean don’t work hard. In 2 Thessalonians God, through Paul, makes it clear if you don’t work – you don’t eat. He talks to rich people in 1 Timothy without condemning their wealth.

Be content with what you have. Use what you have – little or much- for the glory of God. The widow gave a few pennies, but Jesus commended her as though she’d dropped a million dollars into the offering plate. (Luke 21)

Besides, if you know Jesus as your Savior, if He is Lord of your life, you are already the richest man in town!

(Luke 7) Who’s Doubt Is It Anyway?

I have appreciated considering the opinions of Bible scholars as I read through my Apologetics Study Bible this year. (Holman Bible Publishers; 2017) It often amazes me at the issues they address, indicating the lengths some people go to try and disprove the Bible.

Evidently there is a discussion about what kind of roof tiles that were on the house the paralytic’s friends dug through to get him to Jesus. Yeah, roofing.

And, is it the Sermon on the Mount, or the Sermon on a Flat Area on the Mountain? There is actually a debate about it. Why?

Skeptics use these kinds of things to suggest because the Gospel writers differ on certain details, the Bible must be full of errors, and therefore untrustworthy. I usually just shake my head and move on, but thankful that should someone use arguments like these, I’ll be prepared to point them back to what is really important.

But sometimes the comments in the Apologetics Study Bible are just plain wrong (in my opinion). One such opinion jumped out at me today, and I’d like us to consider 7:18-30. The apologist would have you take for granted that what you read here is the fact that John the Baptist is “expressing doubt” that Jesus is the Messiah because he sent two of his own disciples to ask Jesus point blank if they should be looking for someone else, or was Jesus the real deal?

First of all, all we know is WHAT John did. Scripture does not tell us WHY. So I read what the apologist said as his opinion. You can read my comments as mine – because that is all they are.

Based on John’s life, not just his imprisonment, here’s why I believe we are seeing something other than the prophet’s doubt:

  1. John recognized Jesus before either of them were even born. (Luke 1:44)
  2. John grew up spiritually strong. (1:80). He dedicated his whole life to preparing the way for the Messiah. (Luke 3:4-6)
  3. John had no hesitation in identifying Jesus as the One he’d been telling them about. (John 1:14-15, 29-35)
  4. From that moment on, John’s ministry was all about retreating into the shadows. “He must increase, I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
  5. Now Jesus’ ministry is in full swing. Some of John’s disciples began following Jesus. But obviously not all of them had made the switch. John was in prison, and maybe he was pretty sure he wasn’t going to get out of there alive. Maybe he wanted his remaining disciples to accept Jesus before he died. They needed to believe Jesus was the One to follow. So just maybe John sent them to Jesus because of their doubt, not his.
  6. Here is my final observation on the subject, and maybe the most telling. Jesus proceeds to talk to the crowd about John. Read it for yourself in Luke 7:24-28. Is there a hint that Jesus thought John was doubting? “I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John…”

My point is this: we’ve all made assumptions based on a verse or two. Let me challenge us to let Scripture speak for itself as we consider it all. Think about what you are reading, don’t just assume you know what it means by looking at the face value. Question, then dig deeper into God’s Word to find the answers. Use your ability to reason, and ask God to direct your thoughts.

Sometimes it’s hard to get the voice of our third grade Sunday School teacher, or our youth pastor, or some renowned evangelist or popular author out of our heads. My prayer is that, as we read Scripture we won’t be able to get the voice of God out of our heads, that another verse or passage or story from the Bible will come to mind to help us consider what God is saying to us today. Let’s not just read the Bible verse by verse, but lesson by lesson, truth by truth.

And may God grow us, bless us, and find us faithful to the Truth of His Word.

(Mark 3-6) Not About Me

Do you find it interesting that, of all the Gospel writers, Mark (who is believed to have written Peter’s experiences with Jesus) didn’t write about Peter walking a few steps on the water? Did Mark and Peter omit that fact to save the apostle from the embarrassment of admitting he sank when he doubted? Maybe. But I doubt it.

Scripture doesn’t explain this omission so I can only guess at the reason behind it. On the surface, the fact that Peter even got out of the boat in the middle of a rain storm and walked toward Jesus on top of the water is amazing, and something to celebrate. Talk about faith! Talk about a miracle! Regular old Peter the fisherman walked on water. You don’t hear that happening every day!

Yet when it came to chronicling the life and work of Jesus, Peter kept that detail to himself. I don’t think it was to hide his doubt, or to save face. I think that Peter understood that it wasn’t about him at all. This narrative was about Jesus.

Even today when people hear “walking on water,” they think of Jesus – not Peter. And that’s exactly what I think Peter wanted.

Does my life point to me, do I seek attention and applause? Do I “share” what Jesus is doing in my life so people think what a great Christian I must be?

I want to take a page from Peter’s life. Take me out of the picture. I want my life to be about Jesus, to make people think of Jesus, to shine a light away from myself and point to Jesus only.

It’s not about me.

(Matthew 19) The Impossible

Do you believe all things are possible with God? I do, because Jesus said so. But what are the “all things?”

Does this half-verse mean I can do anything I set my mind to because God can do the impossible? If I’m determined to get that promotion at work, or buy that vacation home at the price I can afford, or get my magic number of followers on SnapChat so I can become an influencer, am I to believe I can succeed because God can do the impossible?

Don’t base your view of God on seven words of a partial verse in the Bible.

What God wants us to know in this portion of His Word is that He can save anybody. He wants to assure us that no one has done so much evil, or is so prideful, or has too hard a heart, that He can’t forgive them when they repent of their sin.

These verses should inspire us to pray for the salvation of our loved ones living so far from the Truth we’re tempted to think they have no hope. God wants us to know they HAVE hope!

Keep praying. Keep being obedient. God might use you to do the impossible in that person’s heart and life.

I beg you, don’t use this verse as a magic wand, believing God has promised to make your dreams come true. He’s not that shallow.

(Matthew 13-15) What Our World Needs

Jesus speaks so often about the difference between head-knowledge and heart-knowledge, of obedience for the sake of the Law, and willing obedience for the sake of Jesus.

Christianity is not a list of rules to follow in order to earn God’s favor. It’s a changed heart that is the result of repenting of sin and accepting the forgiveness God provides through Jesus. It’s a changed heart that wants to obey God out of love and appreciation for having received God’s favor at the cross. It’s willing obedience in light of God’s grace.

Oh, for changed hearts, not just people who do good things, or go to church, or simply wear His Name.

It’s what God demands. And it’s exactly what our world needs.

(Matthew 12:30-32) Unforgivable

Is there an unforgivable sin? According to Jesus there is. But what is it? And what if I’ve already committed it? Is there no hope for me?

Well, first of all, rest assured that while I’m still breathing and my heart is still beating, there is hope. Scripture is very clear that “whosoever believes” will be saved, that to humble ourselves and repent of sin is salvation at the cross. Those who go to Jesus in Truth, He will in nowise cast out.

So what is this unforgivable sin? These verses are confusing at first glance because Jesus makes a distinction between Himself and His Spirit. We know, according to Scripture they are one and the same. So what is blasphemy against Jesus and blasphemy against the Spirit, and why is one more serious than the other?

I don’t know.

But I can tell you my opinion according to what I see in God’s Word. If you want to know what I think, read on.

There were all kinds of blasphemous actions against Jesus. Think of what kinds of things He endured in His three years of ministry on Earth. He was called a glutton, a friend of sinners, Satan himself. He was hated by many. His last day on Earth included beatings, hearing lies said about Him, ridicule, and His painful death on the cross where the abuse continued. Yet, some of His last words from the cross were: Father forgive them!

This tells me the abuse Jesus endured was not the unforgivable sin. He was rejected, despised, and murdered. Yet He was willing to forgive it all.

Rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit is another matter. The work of the Spirit is to woo, to convict, to penetrate the hearts of all people. Rejecting Him is unforgivable. God cannot and will not forgive someone who doesn’t want His forgiveness.

The good news is, the Holy Spirit isn’t one and done. He doesn’t give just one chance for anyone to accept what He offers. He doesn’t just give up after one rejection.

Take Paul for instance. While he was known as Saul he rejected Jesus in a very public way. But do you think the first time the Holy Spirit convicted him of his sin was there on the road to Damascus? I don’t. It was, however, the first time Saul, later Paul, humbled himself and submitted to the Spirit. Paul’s acceptance of Jesus as his Savior in obedience to the Spirit, saw his sins forgiven. All of them.

The unforgivable was forgiven. And that’s a miracle!

Those who reject the continued working of the Holy Spirit who convicts, who reveals Jesus, who speaks Truth, will not – cannot – be forgiven. If you are rejecting the Biblical Truth of God, you have no hope of forgiveness. That opportunity is good only while you are alive on Earth. If you reject it, you will face God on your own, unforgiven.

It’s not too late. If you are reading this post, the Holy Spirit is working in your life. Don’t ignore Him. Don’t reject Him. Open your heart and let Him give you what Jesus died to provide.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. None of it is unforgivable. Only rejecting God’s offer of forgiveness is unforgivable.

I’m praying for you.

(Malachi) Something’s Gotta Change

When you read 2:19, do you think of our modern society? Aren’t we living in an age when evil is applauded, and we’re told if there is a God, He accepts everyone equally?

Malachi says we have “wearied the Lord with (our) words.”

God’s prophetic words go on to say there will be a judgment, and NO ONE will be able to face the judge on their own merit, no matter how much they’ve convinced themselves of their own worth. We need only to look at Jesus.

“Who will be able to stand when He appears?”

I’ll tell you who: those of us who have bowed to the one and only God of the universe; we who have accepted what the perfect Jesus did when He died in our place on the cross of judgment. It won’t be Connie God sees when I stand before Him. He’ll be looking at the righteousness of His Son because I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, and have repented of my sin.

Dear Ones, there is good and there is evil. There is right and there is wrong. There is black and there is white. There is Truth and there are lies. Like it or not, believe it or not.

God has not changed. So we better.

(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.