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.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sat.’s Devo - It’s a Good Day!

Read: Matthew 28; Mark 16
Finally, some good joyous news. The last few days have been heavy and full of sadness but today is resurrection morning! We so need these mornings when we get good news, when we see what we have been praying for manifest, or when our burden is lightened. Dave and I have been on a 40 day fast and we have a little more than a week to go. We are not eating any solid food which neither of us have ever done before. He just retired and instead of going on our planned cruise, he decided he wanted to go on this extended fast. (Not what most people look forward to doing when they retire!) Once we got over the initial light-headedness and hunger pains, we have been able to concentrate on praying and listening to God. I would love to say it has been amazing but realistically it has been hard. God’s grace has surprised me. I never thought we would do it but I can see the end in sight. I have learned some things about fasting that I never realized before. Fasting is not to get closer to God but to defeat the devil. It has made the veil between heaven and earth thinner and we have been more sensitive to the spirits in the earth. Our dreams have been clearer and we remember them better. I am still waiting for some prayers to be answered - still waiting for resurrection day.
Back to our reading. Jesus had told them that he would rise again but I don’t think they thought he would actually come back to earth and walk among them again. This was greater than they could have imagined. That is what I am waiting for …the greater than I can imagine. This scripture gives me hope and faith.
I love the great commission according to Mark. He tells us to preach the gospel to every creature. In the Greek “creature” in this verse means “building, creation, creature, ordinance. “ That gives a whole new dimension to preaching the gospel. I love the signs that should follow us. We need to rise up and start declaring the gospel to the air and see some mountains fall.
Lord, thank you for resurrections! You are the giver of live and You are the restorer of the breach, the builder of all things.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wed.’s Devo - Jesus’ Lasts Words to his Disciples

Read: John 14-17
These are Jesus’s last words to his true disciples. Judas has left to go do his betrayal and Jesus is left with the eleven. He gives them the whole plan in a nutshell. He is leaving and going to prepare a place for them to come to later. He explains that he is God come down in the flesh and that if they can believe this they can do the same things Jesus did and more. Whatever we ask in the name of Jesus, he will do. Jesus was sending the Holy Spirit who is the Comforter to live in them. He is the Spirit of truth. His name is the Holy Ghost and he would teach them about God and help them remember all the words Jesus said. He left them with his peace.
Then he talked about the vine and the branches. He is the vine and God is the keeper of the vineyard. We are each branches of that vine that God has to prune and purge so that we can keep bearing fruit. He speaks of the most important fruit which is love. He said that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend. He called them his friends and in a short time he would do that very thing for them. He then told them to go out and do the same.
Next, he gave them a picture of what was going to be their future: persecution, rejection from the organized church and eventually martyrdom… all this because they knew the truth. He was going to leave them so that the Comforter could come. The Holy Spirit would reprove the world of sin and of righteousness, and of judgment. He would tell them what to say and guide them into all truth. He would glorify Jesus.
He comforted them with this. It would be hard, but if they waited, their sorrow would be turned to joy. This joy would come through asking and receiving and in the fact that Jesus has overcome the world.
Chapter 17 is Jesus prayer for his disciples and also for us. He knew us and loved us before the foundation of the world was laid. The love that Jesus had in him has been given us.
Lord, how wonderful is your love!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tues.’s Devo - Walking Clean

Read: Luke 22; John 13
It is beyond my comprehension that Jesus washed Judas’ feet knowing that he would betray him. John said that Jesus loved them to the end. When Peter questioned his gesture of washing their feet since usually it was the servant that washed the master’s feet, Jesus answered that they would understand later. Washing their feet was like their baptism. Jesus was cleansing their “walk”. They were going to walk in the walk that Jesus walked and they needed clean feet to do it. God told Abraham to go walk the land. He told Joshua that where ever his feet touched he could claim. Jesus put all his enemies under his feet. Our walk needs to be clean.
He was also giving them the way of the kingdom which is to be a servant. The world says that the leaders lord their authority over their servants but Jesus laid down his authority to be a servant of all. We are to do that. The only one we don’t lay down to is the devil. He is the one we exercise authority over. It goes against our nature to be a servant and it is certainly not the world’s way. After he showed them the way of humility he gave them a new commandment which was to love one another as Jesus had loved them. He said that through this all would know that they were his disciples.
Lord, may we walk in love today.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mon.’s Devo - God’s Timing

Read: Matthew 26; Mark 14
The devil is okay to let us keep operating as long as we don’t understand our worth in the Lord and the authority we have. Mary understood who Jesus was and used her expensive perfume to anoint him for burial. Jesus didn’t hear what the disciples were saying but it said that he “understood” what they said which means that his spirit discerned their conversation. He explained to them why she was doing what she was doing and how everyone would honor her one day for doing this. Judas was so mad and jealous that he went straight to the priest to sell the body of Jesus. It probably upset him more when Jesus told all the disciples that one of them would betray him. It must have been a challenge to walk with a master that knew everything they said in secret. Surely Judas didn’t think he could get this one by Jesus. Jesus let him know that he didn’t and that he wasn’t going to stop him. This is the greatest picture of our free will. Jesus knew Judas had betrayed him and was trying to give him a chance to change his mind but Judas still went through with it. Before the night was over, all the disciples were offended because of Jesus.
We have all been there. I have been upset because my prayers didn’t get answered in the timing and manner I thought they should. Peter, who was one of Jesus righthand men denied him three times because he was confused about what was happening. I just have to remind myself that there is a resurrection. Only the things that are suppose to live again will. The rest remains dead and sometimes their are dreams and prayers that need to lay dead. We can trust that God’s purposes which are always best will rise again in the right timing.
Lord, we trust your timing and your power.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sun.’s Devo - Being a Wise Virgin

Read: Matthew 25
The parable of the virgins is a parable worth meditating over. There are certain points I want to bring out:
1. they were all virgins
2. they were all waiting for the bridegroom
3. the wise ones took oil with their lamps
4. the foolish took their lamps without oil.
5. they all fell asleep waiting for the bridegroom to come
6. when the bridegroom came the wise poured oil in their lamps and lit them
7. the foolish begged them for oil for theres.’s
8. the wise refused to give up their oil but told them to go and buy some for themselves.
While they were gone, the bridegroom showed up and only took the ones present. They went into the marriage and the door was shut. When they showed up with their oil, the master told them he didn’t know them but they must wait and watch because they don’t know when he is coming.
The wise virgins knew he was coming that day because she had the oil of the Holy Spirit who tells us of things to come. Jesus didn’t come till midnight but they were ready. The foolish didn’t know he would come that day or they would have been ready. Jesus is going to rapture his bride to the marriage ceremony. The rest will have to watch and wait. They won’t know the day he is coming back.
God has given us gifts and talents to use till he comes for us and our gift to him will be the fruit of those gifts. The last parable is of judgment which will be after he comes back to judge the earth. We will be judged by how we loved the least of these.
Lord, help us to see that the responsibility of our fate lies in our own decisions. Choosing to walk in the power and love of the Holy Spirit is the only way to be the bride. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sat.’s Devo - Rise Up, The Fields are White

Read: Matthew 24
I have heard “Jesus is Coming soon” since I was in high school. I remember people quitting their jobs and going and sitting on a hill waiting for the rapture. Jesus made it clear to his disciples that we must be working till he comes or we will be deceived or grow cold. The more I read Revelation and look around at world events I realize that we are going through tribulation right now. How much of it we will be around for I don’t know but I do know this: we will be here for the harvest of souls. There is yet to be one great harvest and Jesus needs workers to bring it in. I stopped looking for the rapture a long time ago because I realized that it was the escape hatch that robbed so many people of their destiny. Why are we afraid of a little hard times? Jesus came the first time in the middle of the worse time in the world - the Roman Empire was in power. He will come back again in an even worse time. Christians are being martyred in our very country by sick gunmen but if we could interview the martyrs in heaven and ask them if it was worth it they would all give us a big thumbs up. Death is not our enemy - fear is. There is nothing for a Christian to fear about the future. We are the only people who can say that. We are living for Matthew 24 to come to pass and are seeing it with our own eyes. I think the question is, are we going to be a worker in the harvest are are we going to cower in fear? This is our greatest hour. This is why we are put here! Rise up!
Lord, open our eyes to see the harvest around us and be ready in our season.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fri.’s Devo - In the End

Read: Mark 13
History repeats itself over and over. We have seen types of what Jesus describes in Mark 13 through the past which give us hints to the future. During the Maccabees, Antiochus Ephiphines persecuted the Jews and went in the temple and slaughtered a pig making this the abomination of desolation of their day. Something of this magnitude will happen. I can’t help thinking about the dome of the rock standing on the Holy Mount. Daniel talks about a timing of 1,290 days which could mean years. The timing was to start when the daily sacrifices were taken away. About 1,290 years from then Mohammed came on the scene and the papal system became apostate.
The church has know adversity and persecution and I read yesterday that Christianity is the most hated and persecuted religion on earth right now. I don’t know what our abomination of desolation is - maybe it is the mosque on the Temple Mount but we are encouraged to endure till the end. We are also warned that false Christ’s and false prophets will rise and do some miraculous feats to deceive us. The heavens are going to be shaken and when we see these things happen we will see Jesus come in great power and glory and gather the elect from the earth. To the ones left he says to watch because they will not know when their day of visitation will come.
Lord, help us to be strong and fearless because You are with us and You win!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thurs.’s Devo - The True Messiah

Read: Matthew 23; Luke 20-21
The scribes and the Pharisees were the ones who sat in “Moses’ seat”. They were the keepers and dispersers of the law. That was their job but they didn’t do it with the right motive. They did it in a way that it made them look good and condemned everyone else. They looked righteous on the outside but inside their hearts hadn’t been changed. They loved being the ones everyone looked up to and worshipped so when Jesus came on the scene they were not okay with sharing the glory. They had the same spirit of those that killed the prophets because they spoke truth and condemned hypocrisy. Jesus called them serpents and vipers which is what Satan is. There has always been two churches that are growing: one is the true church and one is the counterfeit. The true church forgives and humbly submits to Jesus. The false church holds offense and is concerned about themselves and their own honor. They don’t want to bow to anyone but want everyone to bow to them.
Yesterday, we read where Jesus asked the Pharisees whose son the Messiah would be and they replied, David’s. Today, Jesus explains to a few of them that there is no way the Messiah could be David’s son because David called him Lord and a father would never call his own son, “Lord”. Who the Messiah was was the most crucial question of their day and it was important that they got it right. Sadly, most of them didn’t.
Lord, lead us to be the true church that humbly follows you. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wed.’s Devo - Jesus Silences His Adversaries with Love

Read: Matthew 22; Mark 12
Parables were a popular way of explaining things in the days of Jesus. We call them word pictures. Three groups of people came to Jesus to trick him with their pet beliefs. The Herodians had a descendent of Herod the Great so they were nationalists who were faithful to the government. They obviously didn’t believe in tax exemption for religious purposes. Their question was a trick question to get their people to side with them. Jesus silenced them. The Sadducees were the wealthy priests who loved to argue with their teachers. They didn’t believe in the resurrection, eternal rewards, angels or demons. They believed that their own fate lay in their hands and their works rewarded them on earth. Their question was a trick question about the resurrection. Jesus’ answer silenced them also.
The Pharisees were next. They were the keepers of the law. They not only kept the law but added to it much more. Their strict attention to ethics took the spirit and love right out of the word. So it is no wonder that their question had to do with the law and which one of the 613 commandments was the most important. Jesus silenced them also then turned and asked them a question. He asked them whose son they thought the Messiah would be. They wrongly said “David’s”. Jesus showed them their error by asking them a question to get them to think. One of the scribes came to him secretly and agreed with his answer. To him Jesus said, “thou art not far from the kingdom of God.”
In the way Jesus dealt with each group you can see his compassion even on his adversaries. He was giving each one of them a nugget of truth that could be a seed to lead to their salvation if they would let the ground of their heart receive it.
Lord, let us have your heart so we can know how to answer your adversaries in a way that might entice them to come into the kingdom. Let our greatest aim be to love you and others.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tues.’s Devo - Fruit

Read: Mark 11; John 12
Jesus came to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives. Bethphage means fig house and Bethany means date house. Figs, dates and olives are all fruits that are harvested in the fall. The last three feasts: feast of trumpets, yom kipper, and feast of tabernacles are the feasts that celebrate the harvest of these feasts. Jesus came across a fig tree that was not bearing figs because it was not its season. He cursed it because it had leaves but no fruit. This fig tree represented Israel. In this town of Bethany the people had seen Lazareth rise from the dead and yet they didn’t recognize this was the day of their visitation from the Lord. They missed their season. God’s seasons don’t always coincide with our timetables just as the fig tree didn’t bear fruit yet. The Jews missed their visitation so they were cursed from the roots. We need to be careful that we don’t miss ours. Jesus is coming back to harvest the fruit of the earth. Fruit is not the same as gifts. Gifts are given freely for God’s purposes but fruit is something we purposely yield ourselves to produce. Fruit comes from pruning, cultivating, dying and coming back to life. Jesus hints of the difference between the two in his next speech. He explains that the gift of faith can move mountains but if you don’t have the fruit of forgiveness and love you won’t be forgiven and moving a mountain will be for naught.
In John 12, Mary knew the time of her visitation. She had saved this expensive ointment for this day and knew when to use it. No wonder it made Judas Iscariot so mad. The people who went to praise Jesus as he was coming into town knew their appointment. It was the organized religious group that were suppose to know the time that didn’t. Jesus knew his time also and it was time for the seed to be put into the ground so it would bear much fruit.
Lord, help us to know the times we are in and recognize what you are doing. We want to bear fruit for your harvest.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mon.’s Devo - Occupy Till I Come

Read: Luke 18:15-43; Luke 19:1-48
Jesus makes the statement of how hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven then gives us an example of a rich man who did named Zacchaeus. The rich that think they don’t need anything else are the ones Jesus was talking about but the rich who realized there had to be more were the ones, like Zacchaeus who could receive him. Jesus chose to spend time with him. Zacchaeus realized he was lost so Jesus found him.
Jesus told a parable about the future of Jerusalem. Jesus was the nobleman who would be going to heaven to prepare a place for his followers. They were to occupy and expand his kingdom on earth while he was gone. He gave out authority in different measures to different men and the first two expanded his kingdom but the other hid his light under a bushel and didn’t expand the kingdom. The third man was reprimanded by the Lord for being selfish. He lost the authority he had and it was given to the man with the most. Every man is going to one day give an account for their life on earth.
Jesus entered the city on a donkey following the same steps as the temple passover lamb. The people that had gathered to watch the temple lamb were still assembled when Jesus came. They spontaneously praised Jesus as being the king. This upset the Pharisees who told Jesus to silence his disciples. Jesus said that if he tried to make them be quiet then the stones would rise up and praise him. All creation groans in expectation of the sons of God to be brought forth. These rocks would have been on the earth when God said, “let there be light.” so they were aware of who Jesus was.
Right before Jesus entered Jerusalem he wept over it because they had missed their visitation.
Lord, don’t let us miss our visitation from you.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sun.’s Devo - The Servant

Read: Matthew 20-21
Jesus gave the people a parable about the workers in a vineyard but it was really about eternal salvation. He was explaining that salvation is free to all who ask for it no matter what age you are when you come into the kingdom or how much you have done. Once you come to God in repentance and ask to be in, you are in. It is God who is giving the gift of salvation and he is free to make up the rules. Jesus ends it with this statement, “so the last will be first, and the first will be last.” The owner of the vineyard had paid the ones who had come in last, first.
Right after that they got to see this in action. When James and John couldn’t get Jesus to give them his promise to sit beside him in his kingdom they must have gone to their mother because now she is coming to Jesus. They must have thought about what Jesus told them last time and decided that they were ready to be baptized with his baptism. Jesus told him it was not his authority to grant who was exalted in heaven - that was God’s place and he had already planned who would sit in the seats beside him. The other disciples found out what they had asked and were indignant. Jesus had to have a meeting and calm them down and explain to them again that God’s kingdom wasn’t like the worlds. In the world there are the CEO’s and the managers who ruled over the workers but in the kingdom the one who was the greatest servant was the one who would be the greatest ruler in God’s kingdom.
Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time to be crucified and rise again. He explained this to his disciples but they were in denial and couldn’t grasp it. He was about to live out what he had preached to them. He was going to be the suffering servant who would give his life for all.
Lord, help us to be the servant and lay down our pride and hopes of being exalted in their world. This is not our home.