Thursday, December 31, 2015

Thurs.’s Devo - The Glorious Revelation

This is the last year of 2015! I hope you will all join me next year as we walk through the Bible again chronologically. I have so enjoyed this year and I know God will even reveal more next year. Thank you for joining me in this journey. I pray that it has been a blessing to you. I often pray for each of my readers and wish I could meet each of you personally. I pray that next year is the best year yet for you and your family! May you walk closer and deeper with Jesus.
Read: Revelation 19-22
Today we try to bring Revelation to a close. This is the good part. The time of the marriage of the Lamb has come and the bride is presented. The bridegroom comes to the wedding on a white horse with the armies of heaven as his attendants. First he wars against his earthly opponents. The religious giant, the False Prophet, and the world’s economic system, the Beast, are all judged and thrown into the lake of fire along with their unholy remnant. An angel comes and gets the Devil from the bottomless pit and binds him up for 1,000 years. Then the souls of the righteous through the ages are brought before the throne and they are given the honor of living and reigning with Christ 1,000 years. The ungodly and carnal sleep during this time. After this time, Satan will be released to deceive the nations in the earth of Gog and Magog. Gog is the name of a future anti-christ and Magog will be his kingdom. They will come down and surround the saints and God will send down fire to destroy them. Then the devil will be thrown into the lake of fire. All who are in hell will be judged and death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire.
Then the new heaven and the new earth will come and the old will perish. There will be no more sea because the sea is the picture of demonic underworld. The new Jerusalem will come down from heaven and the righteous will inherit everything from God. This new kingdom will be glorious beyond our comprehension or experience.
John was told not to seal this book because the time is near. Every day it draws closer so let us draw near to our Savior and Lord.
I pray that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wed.’s Devo - The Beast, the Dragon and the Lamb

Read: Revelation 12-18
I hate that I don’t have room to write about everything we are reading. Yesterday in the eleventh chapter we read about the angel sent to measure the temple, the altar and the worshippers. Only the Jewish nation was judged. The Gentiles were spared. Two Jewish prophets came on the scene that moved in the spirit and miracles of Moses and Elijah. They were martyred and after three days came back to life and ascended into heaven like Jesus did. Then we have an earthquake that kills about 7,000.
Chapter Twelve is a scene in heaven. It begins with the birth of Jesus (Ps. 2, Rev. 2:27) and the plan of Satan to stop his destiny. Satan and his angels fight for their position in heaven and are thrown out of heaven to roam the earth. Our accuser is no longer able to have access to accuse us before God. This woman is the Church and she is protected and hidden in God. Satan lives to make war with the Church and all who have the testimony of Jesus.
In Chapter Thirteen, we have the rise of two beast. They were given power by the dragon. The dragon is Satan, the same serpent that beguiled Eve in the garden. The horns represent kingdoms that they rule and the heads are the leaders of these kingdoms. One beast rose out of the sea and the other out of the earth. I wonder if the first beast was a spirit and the second beast was his manifestation on earth as a man. Daniel saw this same beasts which the head was Rome. Rome is the seat of Satan. Living in America and not being Catholic, I am not reminded of the power of the Pope or his influence but the papacy is run with stealth, precision, and much deception. This beast had a head that had a deadly wound that was healed. This happened during the reformation when John Wesley exposed the apostasy of the church. It took years to heal. It is represented by the number 666.
Chapter Fourteen presents our mascot - the Lamb and his followers which are represented by the number 144. The beast falls and great praise is offered to God. But also, seven more plagues like the ones during Moses day are poured out. Then everyone is gathered to Armageddon.
Revelation Seventeen reveals a woman on a scarlet beast. She is Rome (17:18). She will be burned with fire because she killed the New Testament prophets and saints.
I know this is a very broad outline of a very complicated book but if you see Revelation as our Gentile history, it helps to make more sense of it. I don’t claim to have it all right but I think I have the spirit of it.
Lord, thank you that you have this all planned as you do our lives. We are part of this great eternal plan. Help us to walk it our today.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tues.’s Devo - The Seven Seals

Read: Revelation 6-11
Mysteries in the Bible are sealed and when they are unsealed a new truth is revealed. When this happens it starts a spiritual war. I see the seals lining up with the seven ages so the first seal corresponds with the first age and so forth. The white horse had a bow with no arrows and he went forth to conquer. He was the spirit of the Nicolaitans that will culminate in the end as The Anti-christ. He is the deceiver who doesn’t have the sword of the Spirit; he goes by his own doctrine.
Since, we are living in the Laodeicean Age I thought I might put my attention on that church. The city of Laodicea was one of the most important city politically and financially. It housed a great medical school and the people were distinguished in the arts and sciences. The people worshipped the pagan god, Zeus who was the father of all the gods. The city also experienced earthquakes which eventually destroyed the city.
Laodecia means “people’s rights, or justice of the peoples”. We say of this generation that it is the entitled generation because everyone thinks it is their right to have what everyone else has. The people of Laodicean were planning a one-world government. How fitting that an earthquake brought it down in the past and will bring it down again. Just like the city of the past, we are wealthy, full of culture, science is abounding, and knowledge is increasing.
This last messenger of this age will come with the message of reconciliation. He will call the hearts of the fathers back to their children and vise-versa. You can take this literal or in the bigger sense. The fathers are the spiritual leaders. Their hearts will be turned back to serve their people. Church today is run by money and how big its children’s ministry is or how classy it’s coffee shop is but what about the power of the Holy Spirit? The first church was solely built on the power of the Holy Spirit. Where is this power? Have we replaced it with nice buildings and well-run programs?
The good news is that this age is the age of the harvest. Both the wheat and the tares are maturing. A bride and an anti-christ are immerging. Just like the bride is not one person, I believe the anti-christ might not be one person but a world-wide spirit of deception and hatred for Christianity. I believe the Roman Catholic Church will do all the wonders that the anti-christ is attributed. Whether we are here to see it or not I don’t know. We are living our part in God’s timeline.
Lord, may we guard your Word as the most important thing in our lives. Thank you that you have written the end already and it is all good.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Mon.’s Devo - The Seven Churches

Read: Revelation 1-5
Revelation is a book that is being revealed in our lifetime. God is slowly pulling back the veil and bringing its meaning into light. I will give you what I think is revelation but I would encourage you to search out the truths of this book for yourself. Revelation is the revelation of Jesus, himself. He is the one who walks through the candlesticks in all his glory and held the seven stars in his hand. Notice that the churches that this revelation was sent to were all Gentile churches. (Acts 13:44-48; Romans 11:25-29) This is a book given to the Gentile bride. It is the book of her history where each church represents a time in the history of the Church. The messenger of each of the churches was a specific man that God used to bring his main message. The message related to what was going on during that time and what pleased God and what didn’t. It would take a book to talk about each church in detail so I’m going to give you the time frame of each church and let you research the events of that church.
The first church it addresses is Ephesus. The first church represents the time of the early church till 170 A.D. Paul founded the church in Ephesus and he is the messenger. The first church had an enemy - the Nicolaitans. Nicolaitans means “to conquer the laity”. Corrupt leaders sprang up to do this very thing. Each church grows in its good qualities and its bad so this spirit is culminated in the church of Laodecia.
The second church is Smyrna (170 A.D. - 312 A.D.). The messenger was probably Irenaeus who was a disciple of Polycarp. He was militant against formalized religion who served in France. He stood for a unified, Spirit-filled, gift-manifesting local church which manifested the power of God.
The third church was Pergamus (312 A.D - 606 A.D.). The messenger of that time was the bishop Martin who fought against idolatry. He walked in incredible authority, humility and in supernatural power. Meanwhile, the anti-christ spirit was growing more and more in the false church.
The fourth church was Thyratira (606 A.D. - 1520 A.D.). The messenger of the age was Columba of Ireland who walked in the same supernatural power the apostles walked in. He evangelized much of Ireland and Scotland.
The fifth church was Sardis (1520 A.D. - 1750 A.D.). Martin Luther was the messenger of the time. The Nicolaitans had evolved into the Roman Catholic Church which was rising in power and apostasy.
The sixth church was Philadelphia (1750 A.D. -1906 A.D.). The messenger was John Wesley.
The seventh church is Laodicean which means “people’s rights”. Who knows who the messenger is and when it will end but it is our age. Our counsel is to buy of God gold tried in the fire so that we might be rich, and white garments to cloth us and anointing on our eyes so that we might see. Trials bring gold, the blood of Jesus gives us righteousness garments, and the Holy Spirit anoints us to see.
Lord, may we see our condition and repent. May we overcome and be ready when you come again.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sun.’s Devo - Children of the Day

Read: 2 John; 3 John
It is unknown if John is writing this letter to a particular woman or “the bride of Christ”. It doesn’t matter to us because we know it is relevant to us right now. John is concerned that they walk in truth and love. At the time, the church members were having a hard time knowing which traveling teachers to bring into their homes and their fellowship and which to shun. John taught that it all boils down to the doctrine of Christ. If the teachers lived in Christ, then they should welcome them and care for them. If not, they should send them on their way.
So, how does this translate in our society. There is so much apostasy in our world right now it is sad. Homosexuality is considered acceptable behavior along with transexual, cross-dressers, etc. The list goes a long way in the way of disfunction. Family and marriage are being redefined and if we aren’t careful, we will be seduced into coexisting with Satanic thoughts and doctrines. It is going to get much worse and darker because we are in the last day. We must become brighter and brighter against their darkness. If we all look different shades of gray it is hard to tell which holds the true light, but when dark becomes darker and light becomes brighter, it is easy to tell the different. The church stands for the moon which is only visible in the night. Then the day breaks and it becomes lighter and lighter. We are living in the day so we are becoming brighter and brighter, but the world is living in the night and they are becoming darker and darker.
Lord, may we be children of the day.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Sat.'s Devo - Growing in Maturity

Read: 1 John 1-5
First John is a book for the mature who desire to walk with God. He first establishes that we have all sinned, then he spends the rest of the book telling us we don’t have to sin anymore. God is light and when we become born again, we have the opportunity to walk in God’s light. You can tell you are walking in this light if you love your brother, not that you are perfect.
John addresses three people in the second chapter: fathers, young men and children. Twice he says of the fathers that they have known him that is from the beginning. This word, “father” translates “parent”. It is talking to the ones who are mature and have walked with God for a long time and have years of experience. They have spiritual children who they mentor. They understand that Jesus is the one who created the world and manifested himself through many types in the Old Testament from Adam to his actual appearance.
The second group he addresses is the young men. He says of them that they are strong and have the Word in them. These are the warriors who are learning how to wield their sword and fight. They are growing in their gifts and gaining understanding along the way.
The last group is the little children. They know God as their Father and that is enough to sustain them till they grow and mature.
John, like Peter, Paul and Jude warn them of the deception of the anti-christ spirit which is always on the earth. It is the spirit of deception. We have the anointing of the Holy Spirit so we can discern the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, and truth and a lie.
John goes on to say in the third chapter that Jesus came to earth to take our sins away and if we abide in Him, we can not sin. If we do sin than we have not seen Jesus or known him. Sin is of the devil and Jesus defeated him so sin is defeated in us. This is one of those mysteries that I don’t quite understand.
Chapter Four gives us the litmus test to know whether a spirit is false or true. Does it agree that Jesus came to earth in the flesh as our Messiah? Then John reminds us that the Spirit of God in us is greater than the spirit of the world and the Antichrist. So we have no reason for fear. God is perfect love and His love is strong enough to conquer our deepest fears. When we love God and allow his love to dwell in us, then we love others as he does. Because Jesus overcame the world, we have overcome the world. It has no power over us. Believing in God gives us confidence to pray his will and see it come to pass.
Lord, help us to grow in love and understanding.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Fri.’s Devo - Enoch and Noah; Dedicated and Rest

MERRY CHRISTMAS! I blog two weeks in advance to allow for computer problems or out-of-town trips so I sometimes forget what day you will be reading this. I want to thank each of you that join me in trying to unwrap this great and powerful living Word. I pray you have a wonderful day with your family and with your Savior who we honor today. Much love, Ginny

Fri.’s Devo - Enoch and Noah; Dedicated and Rest 12-25-15
Peter was martyred by Nero about the same time Paul was. This letter is one of his last ones. He, like so many of the apostles warned the people of false teachers. A false teacher is a person who denies the basic tenets of the faith. They taught against Jesus and his resurrected power. We all see scripture according to the depth of our revelation and by our experiences. Just because we don’t agree on our interpretations doesn’t make one a false teacher. A false teacher has their core wrong. We are all growing and learning. My interpretation of scripture changes yearly as my maturity grows because revelation is a process. As long as you are seeking the truth from the Word and relying on the Holy Spirit to teach you, you will end up at the right place. Peter explained that some of these false prophets denied the Lord and taught only to make money.
Comparing Second Peter with Jude we see many similarities in their message. I find it interesting that Peter in 1 Peter 3:20 and in 2 Peter, he talks about Noah being the eighth person that was saved on the ark. Jude talks about Enoch being the seventh from Adam. Numbers are very important in the Bible so when I see one I stop and try to understand what the revelation is. Enoch’s deliverance was years before Noah’s and he is the type of the taking away of the bride. Noah’s deliverance is a picture of rest in the midst of apocalyptic judgement. Enoch was associated with the number seven because it was the number of completion and perfection. The bride will be the complete perfection of Jesus. “Enoch” means “dedicated” and he represents the totally dedicated Christian. “Noah” means “rest” which is the promise of rest in the midst of tribulation. If we go as “Enoch” we will not have to rest as “Noah”. Noah was associated with the number eight which means a new beginning. These people will be the ones that will come to Christ and get their new beginning after we are gone. They will be protected through the Great Tribulation in the ark of Jesus.
Jude and Peter talk about fallen angels and the end of the age. Jude speaks of the body of Moses which is explained in detail in the Book of Enoch. So much we have to learn…
Lord, I love how your Word compels us to look closer and wonder more. Your greatness and complexity is beyond our comprehension.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thurs.’s Devo - Paul’s Last Will and Testament

Read: 2 Timothy 1-4
Second Timothy was written at the very end of Paul’s life. He longed for Timothy to come to see him but knew that it might not happen before he was to be martyred so he poured his heart into his last letter. It was his last will and testament. He admonished Timothy to stir up the gift of God that was prophesied over him as a child and reminded him that God had not given him a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and self-control. Paul told him to hold fast the teachings he had given Timothy. He reminded Timothy of Phygellus and Hermogenes who heard the truth and became an enemy to the gospel. Then he reminded him of the rewards: we die to live with Christ, we suffer to reign with him, but if we deny him, he will deny us.
During the time of the early church there was much apostasy as the anti-christ spirit was alive and well in the church. They started as the Nicolatians and evolved into the Roman Catholic Church with a pope taking the place of God. Much of their beliefs were the same but their core was demonic and opposed the truth. Paul warned Timothy against this doctrine and against trying to convince them of their error: “…the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle not all men. apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves…that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
In Chapter 3, Paul gave us a description of what will happen in the last days in the world and in the church. Paul knew that Timothy had been taught the Word of God since he was a child and reminds him that ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. It will make the man of God perfect, fully equipped to do the work he is called to.
At the end of the letter, Paul gave a report of all his leaders and where they were ministering. He told him who to honor and who to stay away from. He bequeathed to him the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord, may we study to show ourselves tried by You, workmen that will never be ashamed but rightly divide the word of truth.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wed.’s Devo - By Faith

Read: Hebrews 11-13
Hebrews 11 is known as the “Hall of Faith”. It begins by giving us a definition of what faith is. Faith is the confident assurance that you will get what you are hoping and praying for. It is the visible proof of what hasn’t happened yet. It is the very essence of Christianity. We believe God created the world and all that is in it though we weren’t there to see it happen.
God always has a plan in everything written in the Word so he had a plan when he chose these men to be in the “hall of Faith”. Abel is the first mentioned and though he had a short life, his life was most important. He offered the perfect sacrifice by faith. Something in his spirit told him that a blood sacrifice of his first fruits might please God. (His name means “son of Adam” which can be interpreted “son of man”. Jesus was the Son of man who offered the perfect sacrifice so Abel is the story of Christ.) The next mentioned was Enoch. Enoch walked with God in such a way that he just spent so much time in heaven he just stayed there. (Enoch is the picture of the overcoming Church that Christ is going to rescue in the end.) Noah was moved by fear and built an ark to save his family from the coming judgment. He knew that there was another land worth all the ridicule and work to get there. He built a huge boat totally on faith. (Noah went through the judgement safe in the ark and came out on the other side. Noah is a picture of the church that goes through tribulation and God preserves.) Abraham was sent to a foreign land to walk it out and claim it for his posterity. (Abraham is a picture of us that walk by faith in this world as if it was the last millennium and Jesus was on the throne literally. ) We prosper when the world is in great poverty, persecution and distress. Abraham had his trials and tribulations and though he never got to literally live in the promise land, he paved the way for his children. That is what we do when we live as overcomes looking for a better day. Sara is a picture of the ones that hold on to past promises knowing that God will do what he said he would. Sara saw her promise of Isaac birthed in her lifetime but she didn’t see it completed. All these people died knowing there was something more - a country - their own country - a heavenly home that couldn’t be found on earth. Verse 14 says that if they had been mindful of that country that they came from, they might have been able to return. But the next verse tells us that they desired a better country that was heavenly. To me, this is saying that we can exercise our memory and go back to a time before we found faith but when we do, we lose our future inheritance. We can not be like Lot’s wife and look back and long for the pleasures of sin but it will kill us now and eternally.
I’ve run out of time, but all the men of faith saw something more that compelled them to keep going and keep trusting God. At the end of that chapter we see that some gave their lives to their belief but their faith gave them a good report. After it is all said and done, God is not looking for our achievements but our faith. To take it further, we complete their faith.
The next chapter tells us that they hang about us waiting for us to complete what they started and believed in and sacrificed their lives for. Our lives are so important in the chain of the family of God.
Lord, let us live by faith today knowing that what we are living for is eternal and waiting for us.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tues.’s Devo - More on Mel

Read: Hebrews 7-10
Today, we learn a little more about this much debated Melchisedec. I have studied him at length and changed my conclusions more times than I care to admit, but today… I see a little clearer, I hope. Melchisedec preceded the established priesthood of Aaron and the Levites. In the day he lived the father was the priest of the house. Mel was a father, priest and a king and this was the order that Jesus resembled - a priesthood where he was Father God, High Priest, and the King of Kings. Mel took his office very seriously and his righteous was well known around the world much like Job’s was. In the third verse it says that he was without mother, descent, having no beginning of days, nor end of life. What that meant during their time was that his birth and death and genealogy was not recorded because didn’t have to prove his priesthood like the Levites did later. Then, the priesthood was limited to the Levite tribe and the family of Aaron so they had to have records. Melchisedec was definitely a type of Jesus in all these aspects. Jesus was born of a humble birth but his genealogy could be traced only on his mother’s side. Who can trace God’s genealogy since he is without beginning and end?
When the priesthood went to the Levites it came through the law. When Jesus became our High Priest, the law had to change. The law given by Moses did not make things perfect but Jesus’s law of grace gives us the hope of perfection. Since we now have an eternal High Priest, we have an eternal hope.
Jesus is now seated in the true tabernacle of God, the throne room. Moses saw this on the mount and was told to duplicate it on earth on a much smaller scale. He did this to show us of what goes on in heaven minus the sacrificing since Jesus became the last and final sacrifice for sins. Since we have a new priesthood, we have a new covenant. The laws of this covenant are written on our hearts and in our minds. We will know that we are his people and we will know God. That is awesome!
The first tabernacle could take their sin away but it could not give them a clean conscience. The blood of Jesus washed our bodies and our conscience clean.
Thank you Lord, that we are them that believe to the saving of the soul. Thank you for being our High Priest and giving us the best covenant of all - the covenant of salvation and grace.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mon.’s Devo - The Ministry of Jesus

Read: Hebrews 1-6
No one knows the author of Hebrew but I have my own theory. I wonder if it is not the conversation that Jesus had with the two men on the way to Emaeus. The Bible says that Jesus explained himself from Moses to then. Hebrews even takes us earlier, back to Abraham but Hebrews is one of the deepest books of the Bible.
Hebrews talks about angels, Melchizedek, the beginning of time and the end of time, and the ministry of Jesus. It says that God didn’t put the world’s future into the hands of angels but into our hands (2:5). Jesus was made a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honor and given authority over God’s works and everything was made subject to him. Because he know lives in us, all of that is give to us. Through his death, Jesus destroyed the devil’s power over death and delivered us from death. He became our High Priest who is able to help us when we are tempted.
Hebrews talks much about this “rest” which means an “abode”. It is a position in God where you find peace in spite of your circumstances. The children on Israel couldn’t enter into this place because of their unbelief. So rest comes by faith. According to Hebrews 4, you can listen to sermon after sermon about Jesus and God, but if you don’t start believing and walking in faith, you will never enter into that place of rest that God entered on the seventh day. It is the picture of the last Millennium. It is waiting for us and available today.
Hebrews 5 tells us about the office of the High Priest. He had to be a person who fought sin and temptation himself so he could understand the struggles of his people. That is why Jesus had to come down as a man and experience our fight against sin and lust. Jesus was a priest like Melchizedek who was known as the “King of righteousness.” Melchizedek was a patriarch who chose to be righteous. He was known by everyone around him and even Abraham honored him and gave him tithes. Melchizedek wasn’t a high priest because of his family but because he chose to obey God. He was the forerunner of Jesus and for us. We are all priests to God after the order of Melchizedek.
Lord, help us to walk in faith, always putting You first.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sun.’s Devo- Encouragement Through the Trials

Read: 1 Peter 1-5
Peter writes this letter to the persecuted churches in Asia Minor which consisted mostly of converted Gentiles. Peter probably wrote this in his last years. He was killed by Nero during Nero’s campaign to kill all the Christians. Peter talks of the lively hope of our incorruptible inheritance that is undefiled and unfading. We are kept by the power of God in expectation of a salvation that will be revealed in the last of time. He encourages them and us to be joyful for this hope we live for because the trials we are facing were more precious than gold. It will all make sense and be worth it in the end…so, Peter tells us to hold on.
Most of these people had been saved out of a lifestyle of lewdness, drunkenness, and idolatries. Peter encourages them to stay holy and pure. They are now a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people that are to praise the one who called them out of darkness into his light. He even told them to honor the king who would one day kill him and many of his converts. He also told them to honor their masters especially if they were mean and unjust toward them.
Peter had a word to wives and husbands. Wives are to let their works and conversation be chaste and exemplify their fear of God. Their beauty should be most evident on the inside. The husbands were to honor their wives as co-heirs yet weaker physically. Everyone was to love one another, love life, watch their talk and seek peace.
Peter talks a lot about trials because the church was in such persecution. He told them to not be surprised that they are facing such opposition but to rejoice that they were able to suffer like Christ. But, he reminds them that they should be suffering for doing good, not for doing bad.
Last of all, Peter tells us to cast our cares upon Jesus, because he does care. Like James, he says that trials make us perfect, established, strengthened and settled.
Lord, we thank you for our trials and pray that they work a perfect work in us for your glory.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Sat.’s Devo - Titus

Read: Titus 1-3
We know very little about Titus but this is what is assumed. Paul must have taken Titus to Crete after his first imprisonment in Rome. He left Titus in charge of the congregation they started in Crete. Personally, Titus was a Greek convert who was not raised in the Jewish religion not circumcised. Paul was an apostle and this is the work of the apostle - to raise up and father young ministers like Timothy and Titus in the work of the Lord. He calls Titus his own son in the faith also and encourages him in his ministry through his letter.
He gave Titus the responsibility of appointing elders for the churches they started. He gives him guidelines to go by to weed out and find the best men. They must want to walk in righteousness and have a track record of good works. They must be able to submit to authority and speak good of all men. Paul always reminds his mentees and himself that he was once a sinner who needed Jesus so he will be patient with others who are babies in the Lord.
He tells him to avoid arguments about truth and how to rebuke a heretic. He lets him know he is sending reinforcements to help him in the ministry.
Lord, let us be good mentee’s to those we mentor and good followers of those who lead us.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Fri.’s Devo - Paul’s Fatherly Advise

Read: 1 Timothy 1-6
Timothy was a boy born of a Gentile father and a Jewish mother, Eunice. Timothy’s father refused to allow Timothy to be circumcised but his mother raised him in the Jewish faith. I would assume Timothy was a misfit because of this. Eunice was converted to Christianity when Paul came to Lystra and Paul took Timothy under his wings. They had a special bond which we see in Paul’s letters to Timothy. Paul calls Timothy his own son in the faith. He warns Timothy to stay away from “vain jangling”. This is arguing with the Gnostics or the Jews about the law and those that tried to reason God into a formula. Paul explains that the law isn’t made for the person who desires to be righteous, but to the person who doesn’t. It shows him the error of his way. To the righteous our law is love.
I don’t know how old Timothy was but I can assume he is a young man who might be considering becoming a bishop or a deacon. Paul gave him the guidelines of a bishop and a deacon. Then Paul throws in another “mystery” statement. This time he is talking about the “mystery of godliness” which is, in his definition, the fact that God was manifested the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory. That is the gospel in a nutshell.
Several times in his letter, Paul warns against seducing spirits and falling away from the faith. He calls their teaching “doctrines of devils”. Today, I would call it “coexisting” and “New Age”, and “Rakki”. The Gnostics had laws that forbid them to marry, called them to fast from meats and gave other self-imposing steps to righteousness. He also encouraged him not to let his age stop the power of God in him from being released or hindered. Paul had laid his hands on Timothy and given him a word of prophecy concerning his gifts and Paul exhorted him to walk in this gift.
Last of all, Paul gave Timothy some father advise on how to treat his elders, women, and servants. He told Timothy to be content at what has been given him and not go after money and position. Instead, follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness and fight the good fight of faith.
Lord, let us be teachable to the advise Paul gave Timothy. Help us to walk in Your light and fight the good fight of faith.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thurs.’s Devo - Rejoice Always

Read: Philippians 1-4
Paul’s letter to the Philippians was to thank them for their monetary support. They were one of his greatest supporters. He admonishes them to be steadfast and to bond together. He warns them against heresy which was probably Judaism and Gnosticism. I did some research on Gnosticism and it seems like it is a cult based on myth and according to the dictionary is the thought and practice whose basic conviction is that matter is evil and that salvation comes through a process. They believe that the creator god is evil and is called Satan, Yaweh, and a list of other names. It has many similarities to Christianity because Satan always counterfeits the real with just enough twist to make it false, unfruitful and harmful.
Paul counteracts this with his letter telling them to be filled with the fruits of righteousness which come by Jesus and give praise to God. He shares his thoughts while imprisoned: he is living for Christ alone. He admonishes them to walk in love toward one another and to esteem each other higher than themselves. He warns them against murmuring or disputing but instead be blameless and harmless shining as lights in the midst of a dark world.
Paul tells them and us to rejoice always and not to worry about anything. Instead, pray for what we need with thanksgiving. It is God’s peace that will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Paul even tells us what to think about: things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and things worthy of praise. Again, he tells us to rejoice greatly. What a great word for our generation where the enemy would love us to live in fear and discouragement.
Lord, we can do all things through Christ because you strengthen us. We rejoice in your goodness.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wed.’s Devo - The Mysteries

Read: Ephesians 1-6
Today, Paul talks about other “mysteries”. In Ephesians 1:9 he talks about the “mystery of his will.” This mystery is that it was God’s will to gather together all things in Christ. The “all things” has to do with anything or anyone who is predestined to be his own. They have all been sealed by the Holy Spirit as the earnest or advance on our inheritance.
Paul prays a powerful prayer in verses 17-23. He explains what his prayer means in Chapter 2. He explains how we have been given a spiritual mind and now we are spiritually seated with Christ in heavenly places. Verse 10 says that we are God’s fabric, which God made from the beginning of time with purposes to fulfill. This fabric is the building material for the temple of God. We are all building it together.
In the third chapter Paul talks about the mystery again. He reveals a little more about it. This part says that the Gentiles are to be a part of the Jewish promise. We are co-heirs with Israel.
In the fourth chapter we read of the gifts God gave to the church. These gifts are actually men: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Their purpose is to edify the body of Christ. We will need them to become the perfect man who is the fulness of Christ. Paul goes on to tell us how to hasten that process: put off the way we used to talk according to our old man and be renewed in the spirit of our mind. We have to put on the new man every day and make a conscious decision to think differently than our old man thinks. We have to see things in the light of the Word and the promises especially when they don’t seem to be happening. Our greatest test is when we have to hold on with no visible hope in sight. And, of course, it goes back to love. We have to walk in love, redeeming the time and knowing God’s will. Our joy must come from God so to sing the Word and to sing from our spirits is a great way to overcome depressing or disappointment. Praise is one of our greatest weapons.
Paul ends his letter with one of the most needed teachings on how to clothe ourselves in God and how to fight the devil and win. The devil is our only enemy and the Word is our sword.
Lord, may the eyes of our understanding be opened and may we know the hope of our calling.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tues.’s Devo - Christ in Us

Read Colossians 1-4; Philemon
Paul must have gotten settled in his Roman prison where he is give much liberty. He is allowed to write and send letters to the church. Paul has just gone through shipwreck and much peril but is able to encourage the churches he started through letters. Colossians 1:9-12 is a great prayer to put to memory and pray for the people on your prayer list.
Later in that same chapter, Paul talks about the mystery of the gospel which is “Christ in us.” That is truly a mystery that takes the help of the Holy Spirit to comprehend. But…if and when we ever do comprehend it, the church will be unstoppable. In the Godhead is all the treasure of wisdom and knowledge. All that is in us! We are not to remain “sinners saved by grace” but we are quickened together with Jesus and have spoiled principalities and powers, triumphing over them. We are risen with Christ and our life is hid with Christ in God. So, let’s put on the new man which is renewed in the knowledge of God. This new man is holy, beloved of God, merciful, kind, humble, meek, long-suffering, forbearing, forgiving and most of all loving. We are to allow peace to rule our hearts instead of fear and to let the Word dwell in us. In it is the teachings of Jesus and songs we can sing to have peace. Everything we do should be done for Jesus we should always being thankful.
Paul ends his letter to Colosse with encouragement to the body and individuals by name. I can’t imagine the joy they had as they heard their name being mentioned in Paul’s letters. We need each other.
Paul wrote a personal letter to Philemon. Philemon was a wealthy man of Colosse who had come to Christ through Paul’s ministry. He had a slave named Onesimus who had run away to Rome. Paul met him in Rome and converted and mentored him. It was now time for Onesimus to come home and repent before his master. Paul is sending this letter with him to encourage Philemon to forgive Onesimus and see that he is a changed man. That is what Christianity is all about…second chances.
Lord, help us to realize the mystery of the gospel and to walk in power and authority and humility. May we forgive and see people through your eyes.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mon.’s Devo - God’s Providence and Protection

Read: Acts 27-28
These chapters read as if they were written by one of the Roman seamen. Paul was put in a ship bound for Rome under the care of Julius. Julius was kind to Paul and allowed him to visit with his friends when they docked in Sidon. They set sail again and at Lycia they changed ships. They left the ship, Adramyttium which means “not in the race” for one called Alexandria which means “man-defender”. Little did they know they would need to be defended against the waves that were coming their way. Satan did not want Paul to reach his destination which is obvious in the troubles they met. God showed Paul that they were heading for a storm that would cause much damage to their ship and be a threat to their lives. So they stayed in Crete for the worse part of the winter and waited till the wind changed and became much softer. Thinking it was now safe, they set sail. An east wind called Euroclydon rose up in a terrible storm. They threw most of their cargo overboard to lighten their load and fought the storm for days. Paul encouraged them with his vision he had had where an angel stood beside him. The angel had told him to not be afraid because he was to stand before the Caesar in Rome and all his fellow seamen would live also. They must land on an island because these people would need to hear the good news.
After 14 nights of battling the storm, their instruments told them they were nearing land. As the men were preparing to leave the ship, Paul told them the only way to be saved was to stay on the ship so they did. Paul made the men eat and give thanks to God.
This is a reminder to us. In the midst of the storms of life our gut reaction is to get out of the storm ASAP, but sometimes we are suppose to just ride the wave and have faith in God. We have to lighten our load by repenting of anything we are carrying that we shouldn’t have, then we just need to keep fighting and trusting.
Paul saved the lives of all 266 people on board. God had a mission for Paul on that island. He was able to heal and pray for many people. He won the trust and respect of his men and the men on the island and God got the glory.
Lord, thank you for the storms that come into our lives. Help us to quickly repent and not give up fighting evil because you will rescue us in your timing.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sun.’s Devo - Paul’s Destiny

Read: Acts 24-26
Tertullus, with the high priest, Ananias, and the elders followed Paul to stand before Felix. Tertullus means “triple-hardened”. He was there as their orator to accuse Paul of all kinds of lies and slander. Felix means delusive. After Turtullus hurled out his accusations, Felix asked for Paul’s rebuttal. Paul was also a great orator so he stated his case which had to do with resurrection from the dead. Felix didn’t know how to judge this case so he suspended it till Lysias could come down and give it clarity. This is a classic case of the world trying to judge spiritual things. They have no grid for it. Felix even made Paul tell his story to his wife who was Jewish to get her opinion. Paul’s testimony of Jesus made Felix tremble in fear. He continued to hold Paul hoping for a bribe but no one offered one.
Two years later, Festus visited Jerusalem and the high priest and Jewish chief tried to persuade Felix to send them Paul, with the plans of killing him along the way. Fetus refused but decided to go see Paul for himself in Caesarea. When he brought Paul out, the Jews yelled out their complaints. Paul answered for himself but Festus wanted to win the Jews favor so he asked Paul if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem. Paul surprised them all by appealing to Caesar. King Aggripa heard about Paul and wanted to hear him for himself so he came the next day. Paul was able to testify before him of the hope of the gospel and resurrection of the dead. He gave him his own personal testimony of how Jesus revealed himself to him. Paul appealed to Agrippa’s heart and almost won him over. The general consensus of the leaders was that Paul was not guilty of anything worthy of death and if he hadn’t have appealed to Caesar, they would have been able to set him free. Paul wasn’t there to be set free. Paul was there to testify before kings and leaders the truth of the gospel. The Jews had played right into that destiny.
If we open our spiritual eyes we will see that many set-backs in our lives are really repositioning us for our destiny.
Lord, help us to not think of earth as our home. Heaven is our home and You have written eternity on our hearts.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Sat.’s Devo - Paul Fulfills His Mission

Read: Acts 20:4-38; Acts 21; Acts 22; Acts 23:1-35
In Acts 21:4 we read that Paul was warned by the disciples in Tyre, through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. Paul traveled from Tyre to Ptolemais and Caesarea. While in Caesarea, he visited with Philip the evangelist. A prophet from Judaea, named Agabus came and prophesied over him that the Jews at Jerusalem would bind Paul and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. Paul now had his marching orders. When the people tried to dissuade Paul, he couldn’t be frightened. He knew it was now time to go to Jerusalem and he knew what awaited him when he got there. He also knew that it would be a great opportunity that God was setting up to spread the gospel to an even greater crowd than he had yet faced. All his missionary journey’s had prepared him for this moment and he was not about to miss it because of a few chains.
In find it amusing that neither Jesus or Paul recognized the High Priest. Maybe it was because Jesus was the High Priest so this man was an imposter and maybe Paul was so heavenly minded he didn’t notice men trying to act the part of Jesus, but for some reason both offended the High Priest.
In verse 5 of Acts 23 it says that Paul “perceived” that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees. That word “perceived” is the same one that is used when it says that Jesus “perceived” what the disciples were discussing among themselves. It was the use of the gift of knowledge which is to know something spiritually that is not naturally known. God showed this to Paul so he could use it in his argument for the resurrection of Jesus.
Paul got his next assignment when he was pulled away from the angry mob and put in prison in the castle. He was told to have courage because he was going next to Rome. If he thought Jerusalem would be intimidating Rome was the ultimate. He was taken to Rome with an entourage of 270 soldiers to make sure he made it. That is God’s protection.
Lord, when we are tempted to be afraid when we don’t understand, help us to remember the great courage of Paul.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fri’s Devo - Choose Love

Read Romans 14-16
Reading Romans 14, I can’t help but think of child-raising. I am watching my children raise their babies and hearing all the opinions of them and their friends and think this chapter should be engraved on their walls. It could read: don’t judge a mother if she decides to bottle feed as opposed to nursing or don’t judge a family who gives their children Mc Donald’s instead of homegrown veggies. Don’t judge a parent who decides to send their children to public school or decide to home school….God accepts them all the same. So, lets not judge one another any more; but rather judge this, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. And, let us follow after the things that make for peace, and things that may edify one another. Let’s look for the good things others are doing and praise them on that. Everyone has to walk their own walk and listen to what God tells them to do. Not all of us are going to just eat veggies like Daniel, or eat meat like the priests, or eat what the raven bring us like Elijah. We have to do what we feel is right for us and our family and give others the freedom to do the same.
If we are the mature then we are to carry the scruples of conscience of the weak. In other words we are to take up for them when we hear others judging them. We can say things like, “if you knew where they came from you would understand. They have come a long way.” There is a way of rebuking someone with love where they don’t even know they have bee rebuked. They usually end up agreeing with you and pass on the words to the next naysayer. We are all in the school of the Holy Spirit and we are all growing so we need to be patient with one another.
Changing the mood, chapter 15 says that Jesus was a Jew to confirm the promises made to our forefathers that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy toward them. We are to rejoice with the Jews because Jesus was sent to us as well as the Jew.
Lord, may we be filled with goodness and all knowledge and also able to admonish one another.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thurs.’s Devo - The Fulfillment

Read: Romans 11-13
Paul asks the question, Has God done away with his people? His answer is a resounding, No. God always has a remnant. When Baal worship had taken over the land, God had 7,000 of his prophets hidden away. Even now and even in the time of Paul there was a remnant of Jewish believers. God has given the Jews a spirit of blindness that they can’t see the truth, but there are always those seekers who break out and see. The Jews are the first fruit and when they become holy, the whole plant will be holy. We are the wild olive branch that have been grafted in. Olives produce oil which stands for the fruit of the Holy Spirit. So we, that have the fruit of the Holy Spirit of God have been grafted in to the true branch of God at the place where the wild and unbelieving Jews were broken off. But the root is Jewish. If we want to abide in the olive tree then we have to humbly walk with God, not judging the unbelievers. If we don’t continue in his goodness we will be cut off. (He is talking to the Gentile nation, not the individual.)
In Chapter 12, Paul talks about the gifts of prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhorting, giving and administration. Paul always follows up teaching on the gifts with a call to love. First Corinthians 12 is all about the gifts and First Corinthians 13 is all about love. Paul sums it up in verse 21 by saying, “overcome evil with good.”
In the last chapter, Paul gives us the hierarchy. God is the only power and everyone under him is subject to him. We don’t have to fear rulers over us if we are obeying the law because our leaders are subject to God. We have to trust God not the leader.
Paul establishes that we are to obey God above all else. In this he is showing how we obey the first few commandments. Then, he teaches that to love our neighbor as ourself takes care of the other commandments. To love God and our neighbor is to fulfill the law. Jesus was the fulfillment of the law and he said the same thing.
Lord held us to put on Jesus and not give any forethought for our flesh.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wed.’s Devo - No Condemnation

Read: Romans 8-10
Romans 8 starts out with a familiar passage that says, “there is no condemnation to them with are in Christ Jesus.” Most people stop there and think that no matter what they do, they shouldn’t feel guilty. The rest of the passage is just as important because it says, “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” “Condemnation” means “an adverse sentence.” To receive no condemnation you need to not only be in Christ Jesus but you need to be walking according to the Spirit. We have a new law called the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” This law is written in our hearts and causes us to be spiritually minded. If we live according to the spirit then we put to death the practices of the body. We now have a heavenly Father that we are heir to. We share in Christ’s sufferings now but we will share in God’s glory later. We hope for what we don’t see now. That is the definition of faith.
The awesome thing is, the Holy Spirit prays for us with an unspeakable sighs and groanings. And we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that all things, all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. And, God’s purpose is to conform us to His image….that is God’s bottom line. Nothing can separate us from His love.
Lord, thank you that we are more than conquerors in You who loved us.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tues.’s Devo - The Law Verses Grace

Read: Romans 4-7
Paul goes to great lengths to say there is no difference between the circumcised and the uncircumcised. The blessings of Abraham were given to him before he was circumcised. Circumcision was given to Abraham as a seal of his righteous faith that he had before he was circumcised. The promise was not one of law but faith. Abraham was the father of faith because he believed in hope against all hope. He knew he was too old to have a son, yet he believed he would because God said it.
Paul says the same thing James does about tribulation. Trials and tribulations work patience which give us experience, which give us hope. We gain patience waiting for God’s deliverance. When it comes we have the experience that God does come through. Then we have hope for the next time we are in a trial. We can look back and see that God answered our prayer last time so he will do it again.
Adam was the figure or type of him who was to come. Sin entered through the first Adam and would exit through the second Adam - Jesus. Death entered in with sin and reigned until Moses brought the law. The law taught them how to atone for their sins through obeying and sacrifices. Adam’s sin made us all sinners but Jesus’ obedience made us all righteous. Ironically, the law made men more sinful, but the grace of the cross makes us righteous and gives us eternal life.
When Jesus died, we died with him and when he rose, we rose with him to eternal life. Once you die, sin has no power over you so we should not let sin reign over our bodies.
In Chapter 7, we read that the law is spiritual which means that every law has a deeper meaning.
Lord, help us to fight the war against sin and win over our lusts.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Mon.’s Devo -The Law of Freedom

Read: Acts 20:1-3; Romans 1-3
In these first few chapters of Romans, Paul is trying to establish the fact that the just live by faith. He explains that even without the law we can know the law. Nature reveals the godhead through observance. Everything in nature has three parts which coincide with the Trinity. We can learn the very nature of God through the things he created. He gives us a picture of what is going on in our nation in regards to our sexual perversions (1:24-32).
Paul puts us all on the same playing field of people who have no right to judge one another. Man is inherently evil yet God is good to all and his goodness is what leads us to repentance. We don’t deserve God’s grace but that is what grace is - undeserved. When Gentiles are convicted of sins and the law, then they are responsible to obey their conscience. God writes his laws in their hearts which is a light to guide them to “the” light. He concludes that a person is not a Jew because he is born a Jew but a Jew is a person who loves God and his law inwardly, in the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter of the law. That makes all God’s true followers Jewish in spirit.
The law brought us the knowledge of sin, but belief in Jesus brings us righteousness by faith. Faith does not void the law but it actually establishes it and gives it power.
Lord, may we live in freedom knowing that the law makes us free.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sun.’s Devo -Paul’s Final Instructions

Read: 2 Corinthians 10-13
Paul understood spiritual warfare. Our fight is not against our fellow man but against spiritual forces in the air. It is our job to refuse to entertain the thoughts and scenes the devil brings to our mind. We are to catch those thoughts that don’t glorify God and that bring fear, hate, anger and unrest.
Paul cared for his people like a man would care for his bride. He wanted to be able to present them to the Lord clean and faultless. He warned them of false teachers and people who were not what they said they were. Even Satan could transform himself into an angel of light so sometimes people do the same thing.
In Chapter 12, Paul humbly talks of himself in the third person. He was the man that was caught up into the third heaven. He had received many heavenly revelations but longed to remain usable and humble. He knew that he was made perfect through his weaknesses and that God’s grace was all he needed to do everything God had called him to do.
Paul closed his letter with these instructions: be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace. It they do all this then the God of love and peace will be with them.
Lord, may we do these things and may we walk in your love and peace.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Sat.’s Devo - The Unspeakable Gift

Read: 2 Corinthians 5-9
We are building an invisible house and our body is the framework. It is to house the presence of God, his Holy Spirit. This is all done by faith.
We also believe by faith that we are new creatures in Christ when we come to him because God sent Jesus to reconcile the world to him. We are now the reconcilers of God sent to the world because we are the righteousness of God in Christ. This is a hard concept to receive but in our righteousness is our power. If we always see ourselves as sinners saved by grace we will never grow to do the wonderful exploits we are meant to do on the earth. Paul asked his congregation if they had received the grace of God in vain. I’m sure we could ask ourselves that question from time to time. Grace is the God-given ability to do what we cannot do on our own. If we never exercise this grace because we always see our sin, we will never grow in power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit.
Paul rebuked the Corinthians for being friends with the ungodly that did nothing but drag them into compromise and the world. We are to compel the ungodly to join our world, not join theirs. Paul wanted to bring them to godly sorrow whose repentance is eternal.
Chapter Nine is the best investment plan on the market. Sow bountifully and you will reap bountifully. We sow to the things of the Spirit and God loves a cheerful giver. You will reap righteousness, and fruits of righteousness and your seed will multiply back to you. If you continue to do this you will realize that the righteous fruit way outweighs any physical return you might receive.
Lord, thank you for your unspeakable give of grace.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fri.’s Devo - From Temporal to Eternal

Read 2 Corinthians 1-4
As I listen to the struggles of people I love and look at the trials of my own life, I feel we can relate to Paul who despaired even of life. Sometimes, death seems like a great option but it is the easy escape and we would miss the joys in the midst of the struggles. We would also miss being used to help others along the way, not to speak of our destiny. It is good to read that in God the promises are always a “yes”.
Reading Chapter 2 brings a smile to my face. Paul realizes that a text may not give his true emotions. In his first letter he condemned the man who was having sex with his step mother, but he wanted his readers to know the emotion behind his words. He didn’t have any sad or happy faces to put in the letter to show how he was feeling. So, in this letter he tries to tell them how hard it was to say it. He encourages them to forgive and comfort him least he be swallowed up in his sorrow.
In Chapter three, Paul explains that the Old Testament law and those who live under it live with a vail over their hearts and it is hard to see Jesus and the truth of the gospel through their vail. Those who live in the freedom of the cross don’t have that vail over their hearts and they can see clearly and receive freely.
In Chapter four we return to the fact that our lives are living sacrifices to the Lord. We may be troubled on every side, not able to understand why, persecuted and cast down but we are not without hope or forsaken and will not be destroyed because through these trials Jesus is made alive in us for all to see. Paul ends it with this: our light affliction is but for a moment but it works in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Lord, may we look at the things that are temporal and see the things that are eternal.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Thurs.’s Devo - First the Natural, then the Spiritual

Read: 1 Corinthian15-16
It is hard for me to remember the mindset of the people of that day but there was a huge argument about resurrection. Paul explains to them that resurrection is the crux of Christianity; without it we have no hope. Before Jesus rose, no one had risen from the grave. Enoch and Elijah never went to the grave. In verse 20 of Chapter 15, Paul says that Christ became the first fruits of them that slept. He rose on the feast they called First Fruits. He was the first fruit to rise out of the ground.
Death was brought into the world when Adam sinned. It was taken out when Jesus rose from the dead but we won’t see the manifestations of that till Jesus comes back and throws Death into the Lake of Fire. We know by faith that our Christian brothers and sisters that have died have passed into eternal life but one day we will see eternity and the manifestation of it.
Paul explains a spiritual concept in verse 46: first the natural, then the spiritual. We are born first of the flesh, then of the spirit. Adam was a type of Jesus (Romans 5:14), but he was born first of the natural. Sin entered through Adam that it might exit through the spiritual Adam, Jesus. We are born of the earth but we are the image of God. Our first birth is our natural birth, but our rebirth or spiritual birth is our salvation in Jesus. When the trumpet sounds and Jesus comes back to earth, our bodies will raise to be with our spirits in heaven and we will have a new body that is not ashes or dust.
Until then we are to be stedfast, unlovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, because we know that our labor is not in vain.
Lord, let us live today with eternity in mind.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wed.’s Devo - Let Love be our Motivation

Read: 1 Corinthians 12-14
Paul explains the way the Spirit works in the church. If a church service is moving in the Holy Spirit then he will disperse his manifestations throughout the crowd. To one he will give a word of wisdom, to another a word of knowledge, faith to another, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues to others. It was never God’s intention that the pastor led the whole show and did all the work of the Spirit. We are a body that all has the same Spirit and we all need one another to get the complete blessings the Holy Spirit has been sent to give us.
There are also offices in the body that God has set. The order is apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, helps, governments, and diversities of tongues. We can all move in the manifestations of the first paragraph but these offices are set by God.
Then Paul tells us to earnestly desire the best gifts and shows us the best way. The best gift and the best way is love. You can be very gifted and be able to navigate the spirit life but if you are not doing it through the best gift of love, then your gift will be tainted and not effective in bringing life to the receiver. Love is the only gift we can take to heaven. We won’t need to prophecy or heal in heaven but we will always have love. Love is the gift that most makes us like Jesus. It should be our prime and only motivation to use the gifts. If it is not them we have moved to witchcraft and sorcery and our aim is selfish gain.
Chapter 14 tells us much about the gift of tongues to help us understand what they are for. Verse 14 and 15 says that praying in tongues is your spirit praying. Verse 16 says that you can bless others by praying in tongues. But, like Paul said, if there is no one in the congregation to interpret what you are saying in tongues it is not going to do anyone much good. So we pray in tongues in our own prayer time unless our church has an interpreter of tongues. In the Old Testament it was prophesied that men would one day speak in tongues so the fulfillment of that prophecy is a sign to the unbeliever that the Word is true. But prophecy will cause an unbeliever to repent because he will hear someone tell him the secrets of his heart.
Lord, thank you for your gifts. Let us walk in the Spirit.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tues.’s Devo - The Rock

Read: 1 Corinthians 9-11
In those days, they believed that to be an apostle you had to have witnessed Christ’s resurrection. Paul is arguing that he is an apostle because he has seen the risen Christ with his spiritual eyes and that their conversions are a sign of his apostleship. So what is an apostle? In the Greek it is an official commissioned by Christ with miraculous powers. We have apostles today and will have more at the days grow closer to Christ’s return. We should honor our spiritual leaders and take care of them financially and with our moral support.
Chapter 10 holds some great mysteries. He talks about the children of Israel being under the cloud and passing through the sea as baptisms. Do they not represent being baptized with water and the spirit? Both are necessary for our walk. He reminds them that the Rock that followed them was Christ. In almost every story about the children of Israel there is a rock. Moses struck the rock and water gushed forth: he sat on the rock and held his hands up so they could win the war. When Moses asked God to show him his glory the Lord told Moses to stand on the rock and when His glory passed, God would hide Moses in its cleft and cover him with his hand. Ex. 33:18-23. God gave his laws on a rock. We learn from Paul that that rock was Christ. He is the Rock of Ages, the Word of God. All the trials that the children of Israel went through were written down for examples for us to use.
Paul gave them some practical advise about living the Christian life which all boiled down to doing everything to the glory of God.
In the last chapter, 11, Paul teaches that the man is the picture of God and the woman is the picture of man or the church. That is why the woman submits to the man and the man honors and loves the woman. Jesus as our head was broken and poured out for us. So, we need to be humble in heart but bold as a lion.
Lord, teach us to live our lives in a way that others will be drawn to our God.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Mon.’s Devo - Walking in Love and Purity

Read: 1 Corinthians 5-8
Obviously, the church at Corinth was full of sexual sin. Paul had heard that a man was having an affair with his step mother. How dysfunctional is that? Paul rebuked them for not putting him out of the church and turning him over to Satan so that his flesh would be destroyed but his spirit would be saved in the resurrection. This scripture sounds harsh but it should be a comfort for us who have lost friends and loved ones who were not walking with God at the time of their death. God is not linear like us so when a person comes to him in repentance any time during their lives, they are saved. If they walk in that salvation they will reap benefits on earth and rewards in heaven. If they don’t walk in it they will have trouble on earth and receive no rewards in heaven. Paul instructed the church at Corinth to disassociate with the later or that person would rub off on others in their walk. You can look at most youth groups to see this is true. Paul would have never made it in today’s churches. We would have accused him of not having grace. He would have accused us of being foolish.
In Chapter 6, Paul told them to stop suing their brothers in Christ. God is our judge. We are to forgive and let God justify. He gives a whole list of people who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Paul reminds us that we have been sanctified so we don’t have to walk in sin or let it have any power over us. He was especially speaking of sexual sins. Our bodies are members of Christ because he bought us with the price of his blood, therefore we are to honor our master. In Chapter 7, Paul gives us all the particulars of walking in purity.
In Chapter 8, Paul talks about the difference between being puffed up and pleasing yourself, or edifying and pleasing others. If what we do offends another in their faith we should abstain from doing it in their presence and pray about whether it is worth doing in private. Love lays down its life for another. It involves sacrifice.
Lord, help us to walk in love and purity.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sun.’s Devo - Stregnth in Our Weaknesses

Read: 1 Corinthians 1-4
Corinth was a Greek city where Paul lived one and a half years. After he left he sent them these letters we know as First and Second Corinthians. He prayed that they would not be lacking in any one of the gifts of God. He also prayed that they would be one and not divided. They were divided on their leaders. They were following people instead of Jesus and this was causing division. This is exactly how denominations got started. Paul admonished them to look to Jesus alone to be their head and to be one in heart. Paul explained to them that God doesn’t usually call the people that the world esteems as wise and wonderful but he chooses the ones they reject. He chooses the weak and foolish and puts his great wisdom and power in them. Then everyone will know that it is God that is the one that is great, not that man. Paul put himself in that category. He wasn’t a great speaker and was afraid of the crowd. He determined to put his emphasis on God and not himself. What Paul did know was that God’s power would make up for his weaknesses. He also had seen that God reveals his wisdom to the foolish and confounds the wise. God gives us the mind of Christ.
In Chapter three, Paul teaches us that we are all building God’s building and the foundation has to be Jesus. The building we are building is our own temple where the Holy Spirit is going to dwell. We are all ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In all this we are to be faithful to do the work of the gospel.
Lord, may we be faithful to build a temple where you can dwell and fill. May your strength overpower our weaknesses.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Sat.’s Devo - The Power of the Holy Spirit

Read: Acts 18-19
Everywhere the gospel went it caused an uproar. Satan’s kingdom was being uprooted and greatly shaken. Paul experienced revival but with it came much opposition. Jesus, himself came to Paul in a dream and encouraged him to speak boldly and not be afraid. He would protect him because he had many chosen in that city that needed to hear the truth. This is what Paul needed to hear to withstand the persecution. He ended up staying in Corinth for one and a half years. After that he went to Ephesus where he was able to preach to the Jews who received his message. He was on his way to Jerusalem for the feast so he left and stopped by Caesarea and Antioch to check on the churches there.
One of the questions Paul would ask them as he traveled was, “have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?” Most of them had not even heard there was a Holy Ghost. They knew of John’s baptism but not Jesus’ baptism. John came and baptized in water for repentance. Jesus gave the Holy Spirit and baptized them for fire and power. Paul walked in this power in such a powerful way that miracles followed him. He prayed for people’s handkerchiefs and aprons and when they went home and placed them on the sick and oppressed they were healed and delivered. The fear of God fell on the people in such a powerful way, even the wizards and witches burned their means of magic in exchange for the real power of God.
This is what the church has been missing that is coming back - the power of the Holy Spirit.
Lord, we welcome your power and Your Holy Spirit. Baptize us again with this power and awareness that we might go out and change the world and undo the works of the devil.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fri.’s Devo - Letters to Thessalonica 11-27-15

Read: 1 Thessalonians 1-5; 2 Thessalonians 1-3
Yesterday we read about the birth of the church of Thessalonica. Since its beginning, Paul had tried twice to revisit and was hindered by Satan (2:18). He finally sends Timothy to learn about how they are doing (3:1,2). Timothy reports that they are thriving in their faith and concerned about Paul and his safety. In 1 Thessalonians Paul expresses his gratitude that they are growing even in the midst of his absence. He reminds them that this Jesus that came back from the dead will come back again in glory.
Paul probably wrote 2 Thessalonians a few weeks after he wrote the first letter. He concentrates on the return of Jesus. He clarified that Jesus won’t be coming back until some specific events take place first. First, there will be a falling away of many and the son of perdition will be revealed. This person is called by John (1 John 2:18: 4:3; 2 John 7) as the Antichrist. He will decide many with his charismatic personality and his healing and miracle gifts.
In the end, he tells them to keep doing the things that pertain to godliness and not give up hope. Perseverance is the key to receiving the reward.
Lord, help us to not grow wearing in well doing. We receive your peace.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thurs.’s Devo - We Have the Truth

Read: Acts 17; Acts 18:1-18
Because Paul was of noble birth himself and accustomed to discussing matters with the officials of the government, he was able to appeal to the hearts of the Greek leaders. In Thessalonica, it was the baser Jews that stirred up the people and gave them such trouble. They twisted their words and roused up the rulers of the city against them. Thessalonica means “victory over falsity”. So, we have to believe God got victory because many came to know him. Paul and Silas were able to escape under the cover of night to Berea. Berea means “the pierced”. The hearts of the Berean’s were pierced and they searched the scriptures to see what Paul and Silas were talking about and found their words to be true. The base men from Thessalonica showed up and stirred the people up so much that they got Paul out and left Silas to teach the converts. Paul left for Athens, the city of the great Greek gods and goddesses. The men would meet daily in the marketplace just to discuss any new doctrine or idea. Paul came with a totally different doctrine and idea. He used their monument of their “unknown god” to appeal to their quest for knowledge. He claimed to know this “unknown god”. They were eager listeners till he mentioned rising from the dead. Then they told Paul they would have to take a rain check. Paul had planted many seeds and a few of the people believed. One of them was Dionysius whose name means “revealer”. He was a member of the court held on Mars’ Hill. The other named was Damaris who was a female. She was an Athenian.
Their day looks like ours where there are so many different religions and beliefs. People are okay as long as you let them believe what they want and “coexist” in unity. But, our gospel is not a “coexist” gospel. It is the truth and it doesn’t give room for any other truth. Eternity is at stake, not just someone’s feelings. Paul and Silas were not afraid to step on toes to tell them the truth and we need to do the same in love.
Lord, give us boldness and gentleness to be Your expression in our day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wed.’s Devo - Walk in the Spirit

Read: Galatians 4-6
Paul talked today about the difference of being a son or a slave. They grow up the same being schooled and led by elders. This is a picture of us going through life. We are all born the same - in sin and bondage. We all face hard times whether we are Christians or not. But, our inheritance is completely different. I love how he adds or corrects himself in 4:9 where it says, “after you have known God, or rather are known of God”. Knowing God and being known of God are two different things. We understand “knowing God” but it is hard to believe sometimes that we are “known of God”. That makes it more personal.
Abraham’s two sons represent the two types of people: saved and not saved. We are all made by God just as Ishmael and Isaac both came from Abraham’s loins. One was the son of the flesh born out of impatience and man’s strength. Isaac was the child that God had promised born from a miracle only He could do. They also represent the two covenants we have. One is of the law given to man on earth. It was given on Mt. Sinai which is Hagar. This put them in bondage to the law just as Ishmael was a son of a slave. But Isaac came from God and represents spiritual Jerusalem which is not of this earth. We are from this lineage if we know Jesus as our Savior.
The Galatians were guilty of allowing sin into their lives and living under sloppy grace. We are given grace which means the ability to do what we can’t naturally do ourselves. It does not give us a license to sin. We are free to walk in the Spirit and when we do this we won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh. We are also called to walk in forbearance and forgiveness. We are to encourage one another to walk in the Spirit also.
Lord, give us Your grace to walk in Your Spirit.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mon.’s Devo -The Law of Freedom -

Read: Acts 20:1-3; Romans 1-3
In these first few chapters of Romans, Paul is trying to establish the fact that the just live by faith. He explains that even without the law we can know the law. Nature reveals the godhead through observance. Everything in nature has three parts which coincide with the Trinity. We can learn the very nature of God through the things he created. He gives us a picture of what is going on in our nation in regards to our sexual perversions (1:24-32).
Paul puts us all on the same playing field of people who have no right to judge one another. Man is inherently evil yet God is good to all and his goodness is what leads us to repentance. We don’t deserve God’s grace but that is what grace is - undeserved. When Gentiles are convicted of sins and the law, then they are responsible to obey their conscience. God writes his laws in their hearts which is a light to guide them to “the” light. He concludes that a person is not a Jew because he is born a Jew but a Jew is a person who loves God and his law inwardly, in the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter of the law. That makes all God’s true followers Jewish in spirit.
The law brought us the knowledge of sin, but belief in Jesus brings us righteousness by faith. Faith does not void the law but it actually establishes it and gives it power.
Lord, may we live in freedom knowing that the law makes us free.

Tues.’s Devo - Grace Through Faith Not Circumcision

Read: Galatians 1-3
I want to back-track to yesterday’s reading and talk about Acts 16:3. Paul circumcised Timothy after all the talk about not needing to be circumcised. Timothy wanted to be circumcised because his ministry was with the Jews and he wanted to remove anything that would keep them from hearing the message he had to share with them. Since circumcision was such a big deal to the Jews he chose to have Paul do this to him so he would remove that obstacle.
Today, Paul reads to the church at Galatia their letter from the elders. He had to rebuke Peter for waffling in his stand about circumcision and his stand with the Jews and the Gentiles. Peter was free when he was with the Gentiles but once some important Jewish leaders came into their fellowship, Peter fell back to his old traditions because of peer pressure. Before I condemn Peter too quickly, I think of all the times I am tempted to slip back into thinking I can please God with works or my righteousness. It is easy to do.
Paul preached a great grace message that is full of thought provoking statements like: “having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?” He started with Abraham and explained what faith is and the reason for the law. Jesus came to free us from the curse of the law which was death, but the law was our teacher to bring us to Christ. We have to have the law first to see that we are sinners then we can embrace faith and find grace to be saved. It is a circle that ends in eternal life. I love verse 28 that says there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond or free, male or female: we are all one in Jesus Christ which makes us all Abraham’s seed and heirs of his promise.
Lord, thank you for making us all on the same level of grace. We are all blessed in You.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mon.’s Devo - The Challenges of the Gospel

Read: Acts 15-16
I can’t help thinking the early church leaders could use Jame’s sermon on trials and tribulation. Ministry is full of them. First, they have to deal with the problem of circumcision and following the Jewish laws. They were having a hard time putting new wine in old wineskins or old wine in new wineskins. Peter put them straight about grace and the law then Barnabas and Paul came in with their testimonies of the miracles they had witnessed among the Gentiles. James followed with a sermon about the prophecies of their generation that God is once again building the tabernacle of David which is God residing in the hearts of the people. He summed it up with a few laws: abstain from pollution of idols, from formication, and from things strangely, and from blood. This seemed to smooth things out and they were able to go about the business of the church which was to make disciples. They sent Paul and Barnabas out on their next missionary trip with letters to the newly established churches in Antioch and Lystra about their new decisions.
All seemed to be going well till Paul and Barnabas had a falling out because Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them and Paul didn’t think it was a good idea. John Mark had deserted them once before and Paul was not willing to take the chance of it happening again. John Mark was Barnabas’s cousin and Barnabas felt he needed another chance. John Mark ended up being faithful but sometimes divisions in the body need to happen to so we separate and disperse our gifts. They ended up going separate ways but both went on to do great works for the kingdom. It is sad when we disagree but so human. If we could learn to disagree with love and see the bigger picture we could save ourself from misunderstandings and heart ache.
Paul took Silas and went through Syria and Cilicia. Their next opposition was the Holy Spirit himself. He forbid them to preach in Asia or Bithynia (which is in Asia). Who knows why they were forbidden to go there but they were called to Macedonia instead through a night vision. There they baptized Lydia and her family, delivered a woman from divination and were thrown into prison to save a jail keeper… all for the glory of God. They were forbidden to go to Asia where the Romans were but instead came in the back door and saw many Romans saved in Macedonia.
Lord, your ways are past our understanding. Help us to just keep walking in the path you set before us and not worry about what we don’t understand or can’t fix.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sun.’s Devo - Joy in the Trials

Read: James 1-5
James is always a timely book because we seem to always be going through trials. We will and we should always be in a trial because we walk on the earth and things are not perfect. My husband and I have been in a two and a half year trial that we can’t seem to get through. I thought we had some breakthrough yesterday only to have it dashed to the ground again. It is totally beyond our control and that is the hardest part - we can’t fix it! Only God can. James reminds us to be joyful in our trials and see that it is all part of shaping us into the image of Jesus. God promises to give us wisdom along the way and He will. If we can learn to be grateful for our blessings we can change the way we see everything.
James also says much about our conversation and controlling what comes out of our mouth. We have the power or life and death in there. He also has much to say about how we treat those who are “the least of these”. We should honor everyone with the same degree and reach out to the unlovely and unloveable.
One of James’s most famous quotes is “faith without works is dead, being alone.” You must have both. Abraham was the example because he heard God speak and his faith made him pick up and go to a land he had never been to. If he had waited to know why, he would have never known. Sometimes we just need to move and the “why” will come after we have obeyed.
James begins and ends with encouraging us to have patience. God will perform his promises. Our job is to expectantly wait for it doing what we have been told to do in the waiting. Sometimes that means just praying and sometimes that means helping someone else and daily walking in the spirit. But, in all we do we are to have joy!
Lord, today we choose to put on joy and patience. Open our eyes to the needs of those around us and may we do your will.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sat.’s Devo - The Motley Crew Expands

Read: Acts 13-14
I got stuck in the first verse as I read the list of names. I decided to do some research on them. Barnabas means “one who encourages or son of peace”. It also means “son of a prophet”. He was from a Jewish-Cypriot priestly family and John Mark was his cousin. Luke described him as full of the holy Spirit and of faith in Acts 11:24. It was Barnabas who embraced Saul when he was first converted and introduced him to the apostles and welcomed him into the body of Christ.
The next on the list was Simeon or Niger. Simeon means “hearkening or hearing.” He was a disciple at Antioch with prophetic and teaching gifts. His surname was Niger which means “black” suggesting he was from Africa.
Lucius means “illuminated”. He was also a prophet and a teacher. He is from Cyrene which is in north Africa. Cyrene encouraged Jewish settlement so the Jews formed one of the four classes in Cyrene. Simon, who carried the cross for Jesus, was from Cyrene.
Manaen is the forth mentioned. His name means “comforter”. He was the foster brother of Herod the tetrarch. He was one of the Christian leaders in Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. According to Josephus, he was a friend of Herod the Great. I would love to hear his story!
The last one was Saul and we know his story. What a motley crew! This is what the church should look like.
As Saul and Barnabas set out on their missionary journey one of the first people they come to is a sorcerer. I’m sure they didn’t feel equipped to take on this false prophet…they hadn’t even been in Deliverance 101 yet. They had more than a class under their belt, they had the power of the Holy Spirit and he had faced many a false prophet. They left him blind, but the deputy he was trying to lead astray was left seeing. I would love to know the rest of the story.
Paul and Barnabas went to the Gentiles to tell them they were invited into a Jewish story because the Jews had rejected their invitation. This news excited the Gentiles but incited the Jews. Their own brothers became their greatest enemies. Their lives were often threatened and they had to have thick skins to stand against the opposition they faced, but God was faithful and many were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. In Lystra they were mistaken to be reincarnations of the gods Jupiter and Mercury. They brought out their priests to sacrifice to them but instead stoned Paul and Barabas. They miraculously rose up and left to go to on to the next town.
Somewhere in this journey Saul (requested) became Paul (little). We have to lose our popularity to become effective in the kingdom. Paul gave it all up for something that could not be take away.
Lord, may we be Paul’s in the kingdom today. Thank you that one day we will hear the rest of these stories.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fri.’s Devo - Revival

Read: Acts 11-12
Revival is messy and requires that everyone open their box a little wider. Peter was called in and scolded for eating unclean food and hanging around unclean people. He had to enlighten them on his new discovery that God was calling the non-Jews to himself, and they received it with joy. God had really come to save the world! When the church found out Greeks were coming to the Lord, they sent Barnabas to Antioch to check it out. They found that the Greeks were sincere in their devotion to God.
It has been one year since Jesus was crucified, and it is the season of Passover. God always repeats the same thing on Passover so we see James murdered and Peter supernaturally break out of prison. This is the picture of Jesus dying and going to the prison of death and resurrecting. Once again, it is a Mary who is the first to see him. Once again, the jailers are in an uproar because their cell is empty. Herod was a type of Satan who prematurely celebrates his victory. He was brought down just as Satan was when Jesus rose from the dead. Meanwhile, the ministry of God’s Word grew by leaps and bounds.
When the church experiences revival we can expect the keepers of the “old way” to have some problems making the shift. But, they can do it if they will. We also see persecution and death, but along with it resurrection and life. The “Mary’s” will be the ones who will get to see it first. They are the ones looking for the change and the ones with hearts to believe.
Lord, may we have hearts like Mary that expect and embrace the new.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thur.’s Devo - A Foretaste of the Future for the Church

Read: Acts 9-10
Reading about Saul’s conversion gives a new power to the fact that God predestines and chooses us. God chose Saul and gave him the most powerful signs of who he was that it was impossible not to believe and be converted. Then God spoke to Ananias the name of the street, the house and the man’s name he was going to. He told him what was wrong with the man and what to do so he could be healed. I want to hear with that clarity.
Saul already knew the scriptures, so once he was told that Jesus really was the Messiah, he was able to immediately preach a sermon. It says that Saul confounded the Jews. I’m sure he did! Saul is a picture of repentance. He was going one way - persecuting and hating the church. God encountered him and he did a one-eighty and preached that Jesus was the Messiah. They wanted to kill him so he had to escape at night in a basket over the wall.
Next, he went to Jerusalem where the Grecians wanted to kill him. He escaped to Tarsus. With Saul converted to the other side, the church had some rest from persecution.
The attention turns to Peter who healed a man who had been sick with palsy for eight years. The whole town of Lydda and Saron converted because of this. Peter raised a lady named Tabitha from the dead in Joppa and many came to believe.
In Chapter 10, Peter was given a lesson in racism. God showed him that every thing and every one He created was clean and worthy of His love and the gospel. God needed to heal this sin in Peter so he could send him to Cornelius, the Italian who feared God. Peter was able to be the carrier of the gospel to this precious man who had been fasting for 4 days. He was saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues and was baptized.
Lord, I know this is coming and it is so exciting to read about. Make us ready.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wed.’s Devo - Stephen’s Last Sermon

Read: Acts 7-8
Chapter seven is Stephen’s trial before the Sanhedrin. Stephen took them on a history lesson through their past. Reading it I realize that Abraham went and roamed a land that he was promised that was to be for him and his offspring. He traveled for years before he ever owned a single plot of it for himself. The first and only land he owned there was what he bought to bury Sarah in. It was a cave like the one Jesus was buried in. Abraham was told that his seed would be in bondage in that land for 400 years and then be delivered out. Each of the patriarchs were buried in that piece of land that Abraham bought.
Moses was raised up as their deliverer. He, like Jesus, was born in a day where the leader of the nation was killing Hebrew babies and like Jesus, he was preserved. After 40 years, Moses emmerged to deliver his people. Like Jesus, he was misunderstood and they rejected him. At this time Moses fled but Jesus died on the cross. When Moses came back it had been another 40 years. The people were now given another chance to be delivered. They almost missed that one too. They had a hard time accepting Moses as their deliverer. Moses spoke of Jesus and the deliverer that God would raise up like himself. He told them when he came to listen to him. Jesus was the one who spoke to Moses on the mountain and gave him the law. But the people rejected that law and went after the gods of the other nations. They sinned 40 years until Joshua finally led them into the promised land. Finally David arose who had the heart of God and understood that the tabernacle of God is within us. Solomon didn’t understand this and build God a house called the temple.
Then Stephen looked at them and asked them, “which of the prophets have our fathers not persecuted?” He explained to them that they have now killed the Messiah. That cost Stephen his life. He died seeing the kingdom of God coming and fell at the feet of Saul.
After this, persecution spread like wild-fire and so did the power of the Holy Spirit. People were being saved, delivered and healed and even sorcerers were coming into the kingdom.
Lord, this is our future. Let us be your witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tues.’s Devo - A Force To Be Reckoned With

Read: Acts 4-6
The Holy Spirit changed the disciples from a cowering fearful lot to a powerful force to be reckoned with. Everything the disciples taught made the religious leaders look guilty and ignorant. In Chapter three, the disciples had healed a crippled man which gave power to the words they were teaching. The high priest and his closest priests were all there in Jerusalem. Peter got up and preached a sermon to them about Jesus and how they had murdered the Messiah. The religious leaders commanded them to be quiet about Jesus but they told him there was no way they could stop proclaiming the truth. They left and went to meet together and praise God for what He was doing. The grain of wheat that had been placed in the earth had produced a harvest of many disciples. The Holy Spirit fell on this group of gatherers and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and boldness.
When the power of God comes down, the fear of God comes with it. Barnabas sold some land and brought all the proceeds as a sacrifice to the disciples. They must have gotten the attention of many of the people because Ananias and Sapphira coveted this attention and went and sold a possession they had. They lied about how much they got for it and kept back some for themselves. It wasn’t wrong that they kept back some for themselves, it was wrong that they lied about it. They wanted the praise they had seen Barnabas get so their hearts were totally wrong. The Holy Spirit in Peter knew and he rebuked Ananias for thinking he could lie to the Holy Spirit and get away with it. Ananias fell dead. Sapphira came in later and also lied and she fell dead. When they heard, the fear of God fell on all the people. When God starts moving, there is no room for pride or selfish ambition. God will have all the glory because it is all due him.
After this cleansing, God was able to move in power and people were healed by the presence that Peter carried. People came from miles around to be healed and to hear their teaching. The high priest was furious and had Peter and John thrown into prison. It wasn’t time for them to be quiet so angels came and let them out. They were found the next day back at the temple preaching. The counsel realized they couldn’t control this tornado so they decided to let it die out on its own. They had Peter and John beaten for breaking out of jail and disobeying them, then let them go. Peter and John left full of joy that they were counted worthy to suffer for the cause of Christ.
Lord, may we become a force to be reckoned with in this world. Fill us daily with the fire of the Holy Spirit.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mon.’s Devo - The Gift and Power of the Holy Spirit

Read: Acts 1-3
Jesus did not come to do away with the law but fulfill it. He had just fulfilled three of the feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits and he told them of the forth one, Pentecost, which they were going to see fulfilled. Pentecost was the beginning of the barley season and one of the things they did during the feast was to count the omer. The omer was a seed. They would put one omer every day from Passover to Pentecost in a bowl. They would count 50. Pete means fifty. This was the seed that was multiplying and after Pentecost there would be a great harvest of wheat. These seeds stood for the Word of God that had been planted in their hearts through Jesus’ ministry but was about to explode on Pentecost. All the Jewish men were to come to Jerusalem three times a year for the different feasts. That is why there were so many men there from different places. They were given the seed of salvation to take back to their cities and spread it. God did a great miracle that day and allowed the disciples to speak the languages of the different tribes of people that came. We need this gift to help spread the gospel. I have heard of people that actually went to foreign places and could speak their language.
God still gives out tongues to anyone who will ask. It is a language that God can understand even though we don’t. It is a great gift to use in intercession because we don’t always know the will of God and how to pray. Praying in an unknown language or “tongues” bypasses our understanding and prays the heart of God.
The main reason for sending the Holy Spirit was to give them power to be witnesses. “Witnesses” means “martyr”. God was giving them power to lay their life down for the gospel. That is what we do when we witness. We die to ourselves for a greater cause. The disciples were going to need this power because every one of them would be a martyr just like Jesus was.
Lord, help us to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and open our minds and hearts to receive everything you have for us.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sun.’s Devo - Jesus, Our Example

Read Luke 24: John 20-21
Of all the conversations that Jesus had, I wish the conversation he had with the two men on the way to Emmaus had been recorded. I would have loved to hear how Jesus explained all the prophecies of himself from Moses to that day. But, he left that for us to explore and find out those nuggets for ourselves. Emmaus was seven miles from Jerusalem and was a place of hot baths so maybe they were going there to relax and try to get over the crucifixion and their disappointment. They thought Jesus was the promised Messiah that was going to redeem Israel. They thought that Jesus had let them down because it was the third day and he wasn’t coming through the clouds in glory and setting up his kingdom. They were devastated because Jesus had let them down. How sweet of Jesus to appear to them and walk with them these seven miles explaining the Word to them. When they had reached their destination and it was almost night time. Jesus broke the bread and their eyes were opened. (Our eyes are always opened when Jesus breaks the bread.)
It says that they rose up that very hour and walked the whole way back to Jerusalem they were so excited. When they got to Jerusalem and told their friends, and Jesus showed up to verify what they had said. He came back with them. I wonder if he walked in his invisible form back with them amused at their change of attitude.
Another thing that stood out to me today was the fact that Jesus met the needs of his disciples, showing them how to reach out to others. They had a financial need to catch fish so they could pay their bills and provide for their family. He gave them a miracle there. They were also very hungry from working so hard and late. He prepared a feast for them they didn’t have to buy or cook. Then he taught them. That is a pretty good prototype for reaching a lost generation.
Lord, help us to see you in the midst of our deepest disappointments and know that you can turn the darkest night to the brightest day.