Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sat.’s Devo - The Glorious New Beginning

Read: Revelation 19-22
When Babylon is burnt to the ground all heaven rejoices and worship God and it is time for the wedding feast of the Lamb. The bride is the guest of honor.
Next we see Jesus on a white horse. Jesus is named Faithful and True and he is crowned with many crowns. He had another name written on him that no one understood and the title Word of God on his robe. (This is another clue to the other horse riders we read about who had no names. God names his people.) On his thigh was written King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
All the kingdoms of the earth gathered to fight against Jesus and his followers. Their bodies became the feast for the birds and vultures. Both the beast and the false prophet were captured and thrown into the lake of fire. The bodies of their followers were killed with the sword that came from Jesus’ mouth and they were eaten by the vultures.
An angel came from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and threw the dragon into the pit and locked him in chains there for a thousand years.
After that millennium, Satan will be let out and go out to deceive those he can deceive. He will bring his army against the city of Jerusalem and God’s people. A fire from heaven will come down and consume them and throw the devil into the lake of fire where he will join the false prophet and the beast. They will be tortured forever.
Then will come the great white throne judgement. God’s believers will be saved and the unsaved of all time will be thrown into the lake of fire.
Next comes the great part! The new holy city Jerusalem will come down from heaven and a new earth will be established with new heavens. Death will be no more and all tears will be wiped, nations will be healed! Everything will be restored and be magnificent! Those who have had their robes washed in the blood of Jesus will be allowed to walk through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life - the very fruit that grew in the Garden of Eden.
Gods call to us is to come and drink freely from the water of life.
Lord, we come to your fountain of life that you offer us daily. We daily drink from your Word, your fellowship and your rest. We eagerly wait your return.
Congratulations! You have read through the Bible in a year!
I would love to hear any feedback if this was your first time to do this or you have been following me for years. It is such an accomplishment and gets better and better every year. I have been reading through the Bible every year for over 40 years and learn so many new things each year it is amazing. God’s revelation never ends. I love each of you for joining me in this wonderful walk. I pray that you join me next year. Tomorrow I will share with you my thoughts about what God is doing next year in 2017 and some of the scriptures I believe He will be highlighting.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Fri.’s Devo - Judgement on the Prostitute

Read: Revelation 15-18
It is finally the end of God’s wrath. He sends seven last plagues. First you see all the faithful overcomes standing before the throne with harps singing the son of Moses and the song of the Lamb. This song praises God for all he has done on the earth. The bowls of wrath were poured out on the earth and all that remained were Satan’s. Their responses to the bowls of wrath was sad; they did not repent. When the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the Euphrates River it dried up and made a way for the kings of the east to march across to the west. They gathered their forces for a great battle against the Lord at Armageddon. The seventh bowl was poured out and a shout came from the throne saying “It is finished.”
John was then taken by one of the angels to witness the judgment on the great prostitute. She stands for Rome and the Vatican. She had seven heads which represent the seven hills around Rome. (Interestingly, there are seven hills around Jerusalem also. The devil always copies the real.) They also represent seven Popes that received sainthood. To be named a Saint, you must have performed at least three bonafide miracles. To date, there are seven that they believe are “Saints” but one of them was self-proclaimed so I don’t know if they count him. This prostitute is also called Babylon the Great. Babylon means “confusion” which is the exact description of any false religion. We read that the scarlet beast will hate the prostitute and destroy her. I wonder if this isn’t the ushering in of the one-world religion.
Revelation 18 brought forth an angel who proclaimed Babylon’s fall. The world mourned her death. Her downfall upset the economic markets who depended on her for their wealth. She was judged for all the prophets and godly people she murdered and for all the people she lead astray.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Thurs.’s Devo - The Thunders, the Rapture and the Harvest

Read: Revelation 9-14
After the terrible trumpets sound, the thunders utter their voices. They are so terrible, God doesn’t even let John write down what he saw. We are told that when the seventh angel begins to make her sound, the mystery of God should be finished. He was then told to eat the book which would be sweet to his mouth but better to his belly. Prophecy is like that when we are dealing with the end and judgment. It is sweet and bitter all at the same time.
In Revelation 11, we take a drastic turn to closely observe the temple of God in heaven. John is told to measure it with a reed which was used as a pen, yet it was like a rod which was used by a king as a sceptre. God’s word is just like that. It is something written and when we speak it it has authority to happen.
He was told not to measure the court because that stood for the earth and people were still entering the gate of salvation. Two prophets stood as olive trees and candlesticks before the God of the earth. These were prophets still on earth that were given the supernatural powers of Moses and Elijah. They would be killed in Jerusalem at Golgatha and rise from the death in three and a half days. How sad that Jerusalem had spiritually been reduced to being compared to Sodom and Egypt. When they rose there was an earthquake like when Jesus died.
The seventh angel sounds his trumpet again and he says, “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” It was now time for judgment. The temple of God was opened in heaven. (I think that this has to do with the Rapture). It goes right into the story about the woman - the Church of Jesus Christ. She is hid by God while Michael and his angels fight the dragon and his angels. He is thrown back down to earth. There he wages war on those that weren’t taken to heaven when God opened up heaven. These will be new believers who come to Christ when the Rapture occurs. This is strictly my opinion… subject to change. LOL!
Revelation 13 is about the evil powers that will rise in the earth during the Tribulation, the mark of the beast, the 144,000 Jews that will be saved during this time and the final reaping of the harvest.
Lord, your plans are always perfect and just and true! Praise be to your holy name!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wed.’s Devo - The Seven Seals

Read: Revelation 4-8
It took me forever to get through the churches but I think it is so important to see that Revelation is the Gentile history. The seals are just as thought provoking but they go back and follow the church ages. Every book that was unsealed was really a scroll with a seal around it. Every church age was given a revelation that the messenger of that church opened. Once opened, that truth was forever opened and passed on through the ages. It is revelation being revealed through time. Only Jesus is able to bring revelation, so he alone is able to open the seals. He does it with much pomp and circumstance as all heaven eagerly waits and watches. The first seal was opened and a man on a white horse comes out with a bow and a crown. His mission is to conquer. During the first church age the Nicolatians arose in the church. Their name means “to conquer the laity”. They had a bow but no sword. They defied the Word of God and wrote their own. They had a crown - no spiritual authority yet the pronounced war on the Saints of God. The first organized church came from the Roman Catholic Church. She is the whore of Revelations 17. In the first church in Ephesus they tried to take the Holy Spirit out of the church and give it all to one “Holy Man”. He starts out being the Anti-christ but he will morph into the false prophet then the Devil himself.
The second seal opens with the entrance of a red horse and a man sitting on him to take peace from the earth. He was given a sword. The next church age was marked with the blood of the martyrs and the growth of the Catholic church. Where the first age only had the spirit of anti-christ, the second age had men who stood in these offices that were crowned with honor and worship. They were more powerful and the anti-christ sprit became a false prophet.
The third seal was opened and a man on a black horse came forth holding balances in his hand. Balances have to do with justice and you see who is holding it. Not the church! Constantine tried to socialize the church and control the people. This was not justice. God wants a people who choose him, not that are ordered to worship him. Persecution only served to strengthen the church. The wheat for a penny and three measures of barley for a penny had to do with the famine and persecution during this age.
The forth beast brought forth a pale horse with Death as the rider and Hell following him. He was given power to kill one forth of the earth with war, hunger, death and the beasts of the earth. Death stands for the anti-christ. It is on a pale horse which is all the other horses mixed together. It is the spirit of anti-christ, political power and spiritual power all mixed into one great anti-christ power. None of these horses had a name till now because before they were not saying. Now we see that their names are Death and Hell. This was the age where the church actually named it’s first Pope.
The opening of the fifth seal revealed the altar and the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God and their testimony. They were given robes of white and told to rest for a little time. When Martin Luther nailed his 38 Thesis to the church door it was the beginning of much persecution. He was labeled a heretic which means whoever killed him would be honored. Persecution spread like never before and many were martyred for their faith. Those martyred then will coincide with the 144,00 Jews that will become martyrs in the end.
The opening of the sixth seal revealed an earthquake. The sun became black as sackcloth and the moon became as blood. Stars of heaven fell to the earth and even the fig tree casted untimely figs when she was shaken by the wind. Not only is this a picture of the tribulation that went on during that church age but of the last and Great Tribulation before Jesus comes back.
The opening of the seventh seal came with seven trumpets blasting. Hopefully, all these blasts will happen after we are raptured to heaven. In them is the total destruction of the earth which leads right up to Armageddon. I have no great insights on this. I feel like it is yet to be revealed.
Lord, prepare us for what is ahead and let us march fearlessly through the future.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Tues.’s Devo - Sardis, Philidelphia, and Laodecia

Read: Revelation 3-6
Sardis was the capital of ancient Lydia and at one time the center of commerce. They specialized in cloth dying and carpet weaving. Gold coins were first minted there and it had a large slave market. They worshipped the god of Cybele and Doers. Cybele was the mother and Doers the son. He was the sun god; she the moon goddess. Notice the counterfeit symbols of their religion. He was the lord of heaven ; she the queen of heaven. He had the key that opens and shuts the gates of the invisible world; and she had an identical key to do the same. He had been killed, raised and ascended into heaven; she carried there bodily by the son. This same god was given the title of our Lord; he is called the Son of God while she is called the mother of God. The worship of the son began to lose power while the worship of the mother literally began to take the place of the son. This is exactly what was happening in the Roman Catholic Church.
Martin Luther was the messenger who broth to light the doctrine of justification by faith which was in opposition to the Roman Catholic doctrine of works, pentance, special prayers and other unscriptural rituals. This period spanned from 1520-1750.
To the followers of the false religion, Jesus said, “Repent.” To the remnant, Jesus encouraged them to walk with Him and they whirl be eternally saved.
The next church was Philidelphia which was 75 miles SE of Sardis. IT was built on several hells where they were famous for making wine. The messenger was John Wesley who lived a live of works and giving to the poor. He would visit the sick and imprisoned working his way to God. He met some Moravians who showed him that the way of salvation was through grace.
About this age, God said there was an open door for them. This open door was the door of evangelism. Every age melts into the next and adds to what other ages have produced. This was the age and continues to be the age were the harvest is being brought in in great proportions.
The last age is the Laodesian Church. It means “people’s choice”. It was a prominent metropolis booming in education, politics, business, arts and sciences. It was known as the city of Zeus. It starts in 1906 and will continue till the end.
I believe that the messenger of this age was Billy Graham. He has done more to pave the way for evangelism aoutsie the walls of the church. He took Jesus to the stadiums, to heads and dignitaries of countries all over the world. His son, Franklin continues his ministry to the “least of these”. John describes this age as people naturally gifted but spiritually impoverished. They are full of pride and the world’s god. First Peter 1:7 says that the gold of God is a Christlike character produced in the fiery furnace of affliction.
Lord, may we be like the church of Philidelphia where brotherly love prevails and the gospel is preached to the whole world.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Mon.’s Devo - The Church of Jesus

Read: Revelation 1-2
Revelation is the revelation OF Jesus Christ. It is also the book of the Church of Jesus Christ and its purpose was to show what was to take place until the end of the world. It is the history of the Gentile Church. It is written by John to the seven churches. Each church stands for a different church age in history and tells us the future of the church. Revelation is insight into something that is not visible to the human eye or has not happened yet.
The first thing Jesus reveals to John is Jesus, himself in his glorified state. He is the seven spirits of God mentioned in Isaiah 11:2, “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. The Lord himself is the seventh spirit - the middle candle in the menorah.
Jesus commands John to write in a book the messages to the seven churches. In his declaration of who he is, Jesus tells us that he has the keys of hell and of death. He also explains that the seven stars that he holds in his hands are the angels of the seven churches and the candlesticks are the churches themselves.
The angel, or messenger of the first church represents Paul who was the father and apostle of the churches. The first church is Ephesus which was one of the largest and fastest growing churches at the time. It was begun by Paul in about 53 A.D. and was located in a very wicked city where they worshipped the goddess Artemis which is Dianna or classical mythology. The church there started out being on fire and powerful. After time, they had let the doctrine of the Nicolatians (see yesterday’s post) slip in and caused them to lose their first love for Jesus. Jesus told them to remember their salvation and where they began and repent. This church age lasted till 100 A.D.
The next church was the church at Smyrna. It started in 100 A.D. and lasted till about 312. This was the persecuted church and no rebuke was given it… only encouragement. Persecution leads to repentance. There were two churches that had emerged. One was the real church - the persecuted one. The other was the established church that had fallen into rituals. Liturgies, hymns, baptism, the teaching of the Eucharist and certain Bible reading had replaced the spontaneous move of the Spirit of God. To control the people from heresy they established bishops or presbyters. There was a split between the Jews and the Christians during this time. Many godly men lived during this time but the messenger might have been a man named Irenaes. He was militant against formalized religion and lead and taught in spirit-filled churches that allowed the gifts to flow.
The third church was Pergamos. Its church age was from 312-606 A.D. Pergamum was the capital city of Asia and was completely given over to Greek idols. Satan had learned that the church only grows stronger in persecution so he tried a new tactic. Constantine was the emperor of Rome so Satan gave him a sign in the sky of a fiery cross and spoke to him saying, “in this sign, conquer”. Constantine took this to mean that if he made Christianity the state religion, they would win in battle. He had Bibles printed and gave money to the church and all seemed well. The blessing turned into a curse. They added the mystery of their gods and goddesses to Christianity and the rosary, celibacy of priests and nuns became a requirement of service. Prayers for the dead, making the sign of the cross, worship of saints and angels, mass, worship of Mary, exaltation of the priest, extreme unction, doctrine of purgatory, praying to Mary, and services in Latin all emerged during this time. Despite all the controlled rituals of organized religion, the true church grew during this time.
Martin, was believed to be the messenger of the church during this time. He was militant against idolatry. God’s message to them was to repent. Great rewards were waiting for those who stood strong for truth.
The last church for today was Thyatira. This was the known as the pagan church. It lasts from 606 till 1520.
During this time the first Pope was named - Boniface 111. They started such heresies as kissing his foot, worshiping images and relics, holy water, canonization of dead saints, fasting on Fridays and during Lent, prayer beads, the sale of indulgences and a list of other things. The Apocryphal books were put in the Bible, and the Jesuit order was founded. The Pope was declared infallible and Mary was proclaimed the Mother of the Church. How did such heresy happen? They took the Bible from the people and they had no truth to compare it to. In John’s time there was a literal woman who was leading them astray, but over the church age, that woman became a spirit of error and apostasy. The answer to them was to have spiritual ears to hear what God was saying. The messenger is thought to be Saint Columba who was a powerful missionary to Scotland, Ireland, and Northern Europe. He taught the pure gospel and began a school to teach others to be ministers of the Word.
I don’t have time to explain all this at length but I encourage you to study further on your own.
Lord, help us to live with eyes wide open to the age we are in. May we stand true to the hope we are called to.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Sun.’s Devo - Hey Jude!

Read: Jude 1
Merry Christmas!!! I pray you are enjoying your family and having a blessed day full of joy and fun. I decided to cut our reading short since we had an extra day due to this being a leap year so we will wait till tomorrow to start Revelation.
Jude is a small book packed with a hodge-podge of mature revelation. It was written by one of Jesus’s brothers, Jude. Once again, we are warned of people who have penetrated the church with heresy. He is talking about the Nicolatians which will be mentioned in Revelation. The word “Nicolatians means “to overthrow the laity”. They practiced sensuality by completely separating their spiritual and physical nature which gave them a license to sin. They eventually established an ecclesiastical order setting up bishops, arch-bishops, cardinals, and popes. God illustrates his anger towards these people giving the examples of his judgement over the angels that rebelled and are in a prison in chains, the children of Israel who rebelled in the wilderness and God killed and didn’t allow them to enter into the land he had promised them, and the people in Sodom and Gomorrha that were given over to sexual perversion. For people who don’t believe in God’s judgement, it would do them good to read Jude.
Then Jude talks about Michael the archangel contending with the devil over Moses’s body. What??? You can look all through the story of Moses and not find any record of this, but if you look in the Book of Enoch you will find the account. Why would God want Moses’ body so bad. I don’t know, but I know that Moses showed up in bodily form at the Transfiguration and so did Elijah - two men whose body was taken and preserved by God. God’s ways are so much higher than mine so that is simply my assumption. Back to the Book of Enoch… there were many historical books that are quoted in the Bible. Jesus, himself quoted the Book of Enoch many times. Other books are mentioned in the Bible like the Book of the Wars, the Book of Histories, the Assumption of Moses, just to name a few. These books held truth, but were not canonized as totally true. The Book of Enoch holds the writings of many people.
After much warning of the deception that was and is in the church, Jude admonishes us to keep ourselves in the love of God. To some people, we are to have compassion and pull them out of the fire to others we are to have distinction.
Lord, thank you that you are able to keep us from stumbling and you will present us faultless. You alone are wise and all glory and majesty, power and dominion are yours.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Sat.’s Devo - Overcoming Victory

Read: 1 John 4:7- 3 John 1:15
It is hard for me to fathom, but the only way to have true love is in God. All other “love” is selfish love. So, the world doesn’t know how to love which is obvious when you look at the divorce rate. The sad thing is that the divorce rate is just as high with Christian marriages. This should not be so. God’s love means keeping his commandments and they are not a burden. So, why is the divorce rate so high among Christians? It is because we have a real enemy who is out to steal our testimony. There is no greater testimony than having a long marriage. I know because I have one. It has been a hard but glorious 40 years of marriage. Walking the Christian life and choosing to love your mate has everything to do with your faith. John 5:4 says that those who are Christians overcome the world and experience a victorious life through faith. There are many times during our marriage that I have had to go back to when God told me to marry Dave and remember God’s plan. I can honestly say that marriage in the Lord gets better and better. I don’t know what I would do without Dave’s friendship, love and fellowship.
John goes on to say that the only way we can have victory over the devil is to be a believer in Christ. Jesus was revealed by God at his baptism when he spoke from heaven and on the cross when God displayed himself through the earthquake, the lightning and thunder and the darkness. He also tore the veil in the temple and rolled the huge stone away, if the other signs weren’t spectacular enough. So God revealed Jesus through water (baptism), blood (cross) and the Spirit of truth. They all pointed to one thing - Jesus was the Son of God.
According to 1 John 5:16-18, when we pray for a person who is a fellow believer and they are walking in sin, God will hear our prayer and bring that person into life. I am praying for such a person right now and it is comforting to know that God has promised to give this person life and that the evil one cannot touch them.
Lord, teach us to choose love and forgiveness. Help us to walk in overcoming victory through Christ.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Fri.’s Devo - True and False Prophets

Read: 1 John 1:1-4:6
First John is the answer to sloppy grace. John doesn’t give us small talk but he tells it like it is. He explains that if we have received the Holy Spirit, then he lives in us. He is our teacher and anyone who teaches us anything that the Holy Spirit doesn’t agree with, it is a false teaching. The Holy Spirit teaches what is true. He leads us to Christ.
The third chapter of John, tells us that those that are born of God do not commit sin because God’s seed is in us and we cannot sin. He uses the example of Cain and Abel. Cain was wicked from the beginning and his sin lead to murder. Abel was righteous from the beginning and he became the perfect sacrifice. Abel is a type of Jesus and Cain is a type of Satan. Abel was also a type of a believer and Cain a type of an unbeliever. John goes on to say that if we don’t live righteously and we don’t love other believers then we don’t belong to God.
These are serious statements and it takes a mature believer to understand them but it is saying that we don’t have to sin… in fact, we shouldn’t sin.
John warns us that not everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit, does. We can test a prophet by their claims. If they say that Jesus Christ didn’t physically come into the world, then they are false. Also, if they are true prophets of God, they will listen to the truth. If they won’t listen to truth, they are a false prophet.
Lord, you are greater than all the spirits in the world and you live in us. Help us to see the power we carry and use it for your kingdom.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Thurs.’s Devo - The Real and the Counterfeit

Read: 1 Peter 5:12-14; 2 Peter 1-3
Just as there were two trees in the garden of Eden, there will be two churches in the world. One is the true church that is based on the Word of God and houses the remnant of God’s chosen people. The other looks good, sounds good and makes us feel good. It has lots of hidden truths that make our ears tickle but it is the counterfeit. The counterfeit always looks a lot like the real. To recognize it, you don’t go out and study all the wrong religions, you study the real - God’s Holy Word.
Peter writes about these people who aren’t afraid of supernatural beings or supernatural encounters with evil spirits. They love new things! They take the Word of God and twist it to allow for their twisted sexual sins and desires. In today’s reading, they were taking Peter’s letters and twisting them to mean something totally different. These people can take the Word of God and twist it so that they allow the sins they are committing to be legal. It is called sloppy grace. These false teachers have no fear of God. Their goal is power and money. They lead people into immorality and deception and control them with fear. Their end will be eternal darkness.
The last chapter of Second Peter warns us against getting tempted to lose faith when Jesus doesn’t return when we think he will. So many people think he is coming back real soon. We should live like he is coming back tomorrow but also like we are going to be her until our life on earth is over. I told you yesterday, that I don’t believe he is coming back for a few more centuries. Peter reminded them that one day to the Lord is a thousand of ours. Yes, Jesus is coming back soon, but we need to get our minds and hearts on the harvest and our work here on earth and not on being rescued. That is what Peter was telling them. God is going to do every one of his promises and he is not slow or behind schedule. He is always right on time!
Lord, make us fully awake today to hear your voice and obey.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wed.’s Devo - God’s Holy Building

Read: 1 Peter 2:4-5:11
We are stones that live and together we make up the temple of the Lord with Jesus as the cornerstone. We are God’s holy priests in that temple with Jesus being the High Priest. Our identity now is that of being God’s people, but we live on the earth as temporary residents and foreigners. We don’t live like the world lives because we do not belong to the world. We must submit to those over us even if they are not Christians. We are going to suffer on this earth but Peter tells us that there is a difference in suffering for doing right and in suffering for doing wrong. If we suffer for doing wrong it is our due punishment and we will not be rewarded for that suffering, but if we suffer for doing wrong, we will be rewarded in heaven.
Wives are to submit to their husbands and husbands are to honor their wives. When this happens, submission becomes a desired act of love, not a yoke of bondage. Husbands and wives should also be of one mind, sympathetic toward one another, loving toward each other as fellow brothers and sisters, and tenderhearted with a humble attitude. They are not to repay evil for evil or retaliate when insulted. Instead they should repay insult with a blessing. Holding your tongue will help you enjoy life and see many happy days. Husbands and wives should search for peace and work to keep it. God is watching over ones who live right but he turns his face from those who do evil.
In Peter’s third chapter, verse 19, he tells us what Christ did when he died. He went and preached to the spirits in prison under the earth in Sheol (just in case you wanted to see that in scripture). He led those in captivity out and they rose with him to heaven.
Even then, Peter was preaching that the end was coming soon. It is still coming soon, but not as soon as some think. We have a lot to do first: we have to learn to be one, manifest Jesus on the earth, and bring in a harvest. There are many scriptures that haven’t been fulfilled yet and every promise will be fulfilled before Jesus comes again. It is better to be about God’s business than trying to figure out when He is coming back. The way we can hasten His return is to obey what we are called to do.
Lord, help us to love our spouses as you wrote for us to and let us be busy about your business.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tues.’s Devo - Godly Living

Read: Hebrews 13; 1 Peter 1-2:3
Hebrews ends with some good advice for godly living. Love is the key. If we love then we will welcome strangers into our houses, we will remember those being persecuted, we will love and honor our mates and we won’t covet what God has blessed others with.
Since Jesus became our final sacrifice, we don’t have to offer up animals. Our sacrifice is to praise God continually, giving thanks to him for all he has done for us. If we would walk in these two things, just think of the joy and peace we would live in. To choose to love and to choose to praise God and be thankful would do away with a lot of things like depression, fear, ungratefulness, envy and strife. What God wants from us is for our good. He wants to prosper us and give us abundant life.
That sounds so simple, but the truth is that in this life we have trials and tribulations. It is not always easy to love people who take advantage of us or who are rude. It is not always easy to praise the Lord when you are in pain or facing financial struggles and family ordeals. Peter reminds us that the trial of our faith is more precious than gold. It will be tried in the fire but it is precious to the Lord. He rewards us according to the way we come through our trials.
Our salvation is such a wonderful gift that the prophets tried hard to understand as they prophesied about it. We are now living in this wonderful salvation. That is worth praising God for! We show our gratitude by living godly lives. We go through the fire so that we will come out holy and clean. Peter said to be holy in all manner of conversation. That is something worth praying for. It is so easy to let our mouths say whatever comes to our mind but we need to filter our thoughts through the mind of Christ.
Lord, we choose to filter our lives through the precious blood of Jesus. It is your word that endures forever, let us say your words.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Mon.’s Devo - By Faith

Read: Hebrews 11-12
God gives us the definition of faith: the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen. It is the assurance of things we cannot see. Everything about Christianity has to do with faith. We believe in a God we cannot see and a Savior we only know in our hearts. We hear from the Holy Spirit who we cannot see either who speaks through our thoughts and countless other ways. But it all takes faith. All the people mentioned in this chapter heard from God and acted on it by faith believing that when they did, they would receive what God had promised would happen. None of them received tangible riches. Abel received God’s acceptance; Enoch received God’s pleasure; Noah received God’s righteousness; Abraham received the promise of a future inheritance; Sarah was the first to receive a token of her promise. She was promised millions of descendants yet she received one son. It says that they never got what they were promised but they received enough to keep hoping for the future.
We will never see all God has promised us in his Word in our lives. It was meant to be that way. That is why we have children that can take the vision God has given us and keep building on it. Every one of Jacob’s sons were given a different mission and a different prophecy. They were to pass it on to their children who were to pass it on to their children. When everyone does the part of their piece in the timeline, it will all bring us to the end of time. The end will happen when we come into unity in the Body of Christ. Our part is to learn about love and acceptance and responsibility so Jesus can come for us. He is coming back for a spotless bride not a fragmented body. We are slowly but surely getting there. His coming back in not so much a time table as it is an event. He is waiting for us to love one another.
Lord, help us to love those that we don’t agree with in doctrine. If they believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead then they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Help us to embrace them without having to share the same interpretations.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sun.’s Devo - Christ our High Priest

Read: Hebrews 8-10
Today we read about the High Priest and his duties. He is the only one who could enter into the Holy Place and he did this on the Day of Atonement. On this day he atoned for the sins of the whole nation for that year. It didn’t take away their guilt but only made them conscious of their sin. Jesus came with a new covenant based on obedience and love for God. Because Jesus loved his Father and loved the world, he became the sacrifice. God called him to be the new High Priest so he had to enter into the Holy of Holies with blood to sprinkle on the furniture in the Temple in heaven. God made it clear that he did not want the blood of animals any more so Jesus brought his own blood into the Holy of Holies in heaven and sprinkled the mercy seat. When he died the six inch thick veil that hung between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies was rent from top to bottom. It was an invitation that now, all may enter in to God’s presence because of the blood of Jesus. God sealed the covenant with the Holy Spirit. God said that the new covenant would be one of the heart and the mind, not ritual. It would not be done by the priest but by the individual.
The next time Christ appears he will be sinless and bring salvation. While we are waiting to be rescued, we are admonished to motivate each other to acts of love and good works. We need to meet together often to strengthen one another, especially the closer it comes to his returning. It is obvious that things are getting worse in the world. People are homeless because of fires, floods and the economy. Evil is all around us and lawlessness is everywhere. But, don’t be dispaired, God works his greatest work in times like these.
Last night I had a dream about the youth revival that is coming. These youth are going to be respectful and full of integrity. They are going to defy what people think of youth. They will have wisdom beyond their age because God is going to equip them to be spiritual leaders to their generation. Things are flipping and the devil is in a tizzy. We can rest in God’s unfailing love and his well-thought-out plan.
Lord, you have written this day in your book and you are not dismayed or discouraged. You are excited and glad and we join in your excitement and expectation.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Sat.’s Devo - Who is this Melchizedek?

Read: Hebrews 4:14-7
The Old Testament is the picture of the natural that points to the spiritual. The spiritual manifested in the flesh in the New Testament and was poured out so that all could walk in the natural, in the spirit. Sounds confusing but it is a continuous circle from the natural to the spiritual in our own lives. God had a priesthood in heaven. He showed it to Moses on the mount and Moses copied all that he saw in heaven and scaled it down to build the tabernacle. Melchizedek was God’s High Priest until Jesus came. Then the office went to Jesus. In the Old Testament, the high priest was the high priest until he died, then it went to one of his descendents.
Hebrews tells us that the high priest is chosen to represent the people in their dealings with God. The job of the high priest was to offer sacrifices for sin. God appointed Jesus to be the high priest after Melchizedek’s order which was heavenly. Jesus became the sacrifice once and for all for sin and offered himself. They didn’t take his life from him, he laid it down willingly.
Melchizedek made a cameo appearance in Genesis 14 when he appeared to Abraham after he fought in the battle against the kings. If you go back to that story and look up the names of the kings he fought in that battle you will find they stood for “chained”, “in evil”, “in wickedness”, “bondage”, “change of father”, to name a few. The other side was just as wicked. Some of their names meant “the dead”, “double-horned mind readers”, “terror”. They fought in a place called Sidon which means “vale of cultivators”. So they were the cults of the day fighting against one another. The only reason Abraham got involved was that the winners took the people of Sodom as their reward and Lot and his family was among them. Abraham went after them to get Lot back. Abraham succeeded and took all the spoils. What a picture of how we should fight and win in spiritual warfare. When a loved one has been take by the enemy, we must pursue them in the spirit and get them back. The place that Abraham fought was called Hobah which was near Damascus. Hobah means “hiding” and Damascus means “sackcloth”. Abraham fought them at night. We don’t fight like the world but we fight in the secrecy of our prayer room, in hiding, in the night. We humble ourselves, fast and pray before God. Then we declare a victory over the devil and take back what he stole from us and more. Abraham left with the spoils of all those kings! He then met Melchiedek who brought wine and bread and they sat and ate holy communion together. He blessed Abraham and Abraham gave him a tenth of all he had taken.
Lord, may we not be afraid to go after what the devil had stolen from us and bring it back into the church of God.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fri.’s Devo - God’s Plan on the Earth

Read: 2 Timothy 4:19-22; Hebrews 1-4:13
God’s nature remains the same but his movement on the earth does change. In the Old Testament, he spoke through prophets like Moses, Samuel, Elijah and Jerimiah, to name only a few. In the New Testament he chose to speak through Jesus. When Jesus left he chooses to speak through his Holy Spirit to all who will listen.
Jesus was God’s son whom God placed his own glory and sent him to earth. He became part man, part God. He felt things like man feels them but learned to see things through his Father’s eyes. Jesus was with God when he created the earth and he will be with him when he ends the earth. Just like that grave cloth that was folded up in the tomb, God will fold up the earth and it will be over as we know it. Then he will make a new earth with new skies and we will live there and Jesus will be the king. One day this whole earth will be under Jesus authority.
Jesus had to come to earth and become one of us so he could become our high priest. A high priest must be taken from the people and be subject to sin so he can relate to them. The high priest in heaven was Melchizedek but he had only walked the earth as a heavenly being. He was not born on earth. Jesus had to be born on earth and die so he could qualify to be our priest and so he could he could take the fear out of death. He was the first to rise from the dead. He warns us not to harden our hearts like the children of Israel did. They woke up every day to miracles like manna and yet their hearts became hardened. When they were faced with an obstacle their default was unbelief and complaining. God finally got fed up with it and killed them all and allowed their children to go into the promised land.
God promises us a place of rest in him where no matter what is going on in our lives, we can rest in our spirit. We need to walk in that now or we will be overtaken by depression and fear. Remember, the word of God is active and powerful and he sees everything. He will come to our rescue! Only believe.
Lord, we trust in your unfailing love for us. We know that we are chosen to live in this century and this dispensation of time. We are so thankful for this privilege. Strengthen us for the day by your Holy Spirit’s power.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Thurs.’s Devo- Let’s Turn the Curse into a Blessing

Read: 2 Timothy 2-4:18
Paul calls Timothy his dear son who has followed Christ like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Timothy didn’t get tied up in the things of the world, but he served faithfully and hard. Then Paul examined some of the bad fruit of his ministry. He names them by name. He warns his people of fighting over doctrine as Hymenacus and Philitus. They loved to argue over issues and eventually got deceived into believing the resurrection of the dead had already occurred. They turned others away to their false doctrines. Paul also reminded the people of Jannes and Jambres who were Egyptian magicians who through sorcery opposed Moses in Exodus 7.
We are reminded that in these days, it will be difficult. People will only love themselves and their money. They will be proud and boastful, scoffers of God, disobedient to their parents and ungrateful. We see that everyday when we turn on the news. It goes on to say that they will be unloving, unforgiving, slanderers and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, puffed up with pride and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. We are warned to stay away from these people.
So lets look at the positive of that. We, as friends of God and followers of Jesus Christ will love only God. We will be humble and meek, lifting up the name of Christ every opportunity we get. We will be obedient to our parents and those in authority over us and grateful. We will be loving, forgiving, encouragers, exhorters of what is good, and exhibit self-control. We will be kind and hate what is evil. We will love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We will be full of the Holy Spirit and do the miracles that Jesus did because he is in us. We will be powerful tools for God on the earth!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wed.’s Devo - Submission is for the Mature

Read: 1 Timothy 6; Titus 1-3; 2 Timothy 1
Paul encourages the mature to act mature. They are to be the examples of what the younger generations should want to aspire to be. In our generation it seems that the older people are looking to the younger for their example. They want to look like them, act like them, and not take the responsibility of being the leaders. Because the older people have given their position over to a younger generation we are lacking the wisdom of the aged.
I also see a lack of respect for the older generation by the younger. The older generation are being pushed out of their jobs to make place for younger executives who lack the wisdom to run corporations. I think things are about to turn around and get in the right position.
Paul talks a lot about submission. The church should submit to their leaders, wives to their husbands, children to their parents, citizens to their governmental leaders and everyone should submit to God. Everyone submits! Submission teaches us humility and reveals our hearts. If we rebel against submission then we are rebelling against God. He put in place the hierarchy of submission to help us train our hearts.
Paul also levels the ground of man’s knowledge. He explained that just because you were raised in a Jewish home and went through all the rituals does not make you a better Christian than a Gentile who came into the kingdom through faith. Rituals or ‘church going’ will not make you righteous. Righteousness is your relationship with God. Paul had been the top of his class in Judaism and gave it all up for prison for Jesus.
Paul also levels the ground about wealth. He warned them about being proud and trusting in their wealth. The only thing wealth is good for is to help others. When we share what we have we are storing up treasures for the future. We are building a good foundation for the true life.
Lord, help us to submit to those you have put over us and to give our wealth to you. We want to build a strong foundation built on love.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tues.’s Devo - Raising Your Family

Read: 1 Timothy 3-5
Today we read about the qualifications of being an elder or a deacon and the qualifications for being on the benevolent list. They all boiled down to how you treat your family. The most important person in our lives should be our spouses and then our children and our parents. Our families are definitely our greatest challenges and yet our greatest joys. It is a great temptation to get involved in ministry outside our families and forget the ones we are going to be held accountable the most. There is little glory in doing the day to day raising of kids and the mundane things of parenting but as a mother whose children are all grown I can encourage you to take your family seriously. I helped many kids throughout my days of rearing my own and looking back, I wish I had paid more attention to the little things. I am very proud of my three sons and mostly I am grateful that they love Jesus and follow him. That has been my greatest achievement. Grades and sports and developing their talents are important, but nothing is more important than teaching them to have an authentic walk with the Lord.
Since I’m on this subject, I’ll share some of the ways I taught my boys to love Jesus. My husband and I tried to live it in front of them. We tried very hard to give them a healthy picture of God. He is a loving father who wants the best for us. We model him by being that loving mother and father. God isn’t about laws and regulations as much as he is about relationship. I tried to have a relationship with my boys and show them that time with them was important to me. I didn’t always do the best job because motherhood is a 24/7 job that gets very tiresome. We do need breaks but I want to encourage you…it goes by so quickly and then they are out of the house and you have all the breaks you will ever need. Today’s society is focused on entertainment and pleasure and those don’t mix with parenting unless you realize that your family is all the entertainment you need and will give you much pleasure in the end if you give yourself totally to your role at home. It is not glamorous or always gratifying at the time, but it will be so worth it in the years to come.
Lord, may you empower us to be the moms and dads we need to be. Anoint our eyes to see the bigger picture and focus on things ahead instead of the moment. Strengthen us for the task of raising godly children and grand children.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Mon.’s Devo - Obeying God

Read: James 4-5; 1 Timothy 1:1-2:15
Paul says that the source of our struggles within ourselves and among ourselves is the fact that we are jealous of others blessings. The answer is to ask God for what you want yourself, but ask with the right motives. If it is just to give you pleasure then it is the wrong motive. Jesus is our example and everything he did was to bless others. If our motives are to bless others through what we have then we should ask for those things. If it is to show off our wealth then our motives are wrong. Paul calls this being a friend of the world. You can’t be friends with the world and a friend of God. To become a friend of the world is to become an enemy to God. We become a friend of God when we humble ourselves, repent of any wrong thoughts and obey God. He gave us his laws but they are for those who need discipline. If we follow after the Lord with all our hearts then we will obey them without trying.
God said that it is a sin to know what to do and not do it. We have a fancy name for that called the “law of omission.” It is the easiest to commit because somehow we can justify ignoring it or pretending we don’t see it. When we don’t do what God tells us to do we miss out on a great lesson or a great blessing. If the matter has to do with other people we struggle with getting involved in their lives. That is when we need to ask for God’s wisdom. If God prompts us to speak up then we have to speak up. If God prompts us to help, then we need to help. If we walk in the spirit then we will hear what the Lord tells us to do and do it. We won’t have to worry about sin or disobedience or judgment.
Paul warned against getting into meaningless discussions with people who don’t have the mind of Christ. It is not profitable to try to convince people of the gospel or your viewpoint. It is better to show them with your actions of love and your prayers.
Lord, we desire to worship you with clean hearts and pure devotion. Help us to walk in holiness and love.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sun.’s Devo - Wisdom from James

Read: James 1-3
James is a book for Christians who desire to grow in their walk with Christ. Our reaction to his first paragraph is a good indicator of our maturity at the time. James tells us to be joyful in trials because the waiting we have to endure produces patience. Sometimes this is an encouragement to me and sometimes it makes me a little upset at God. That is when I know I need to put on my big girl britches and grow up. Life is not about our comfort but about what we are becoming in Christ. James tells us that if we will let our patience grow through our trials, we will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. That is a very worthy goal!
The next part tells us how to get patience and endurance: ask God for wisdom! Our generous, loving on-our-side Father will give it to us every time.
I have been struggling over our next adventure. Our youngest son, his wife, and their two children are coming to live with us. I needed to read this today. Instead of worrying about it, I need to ask for God’s wisdom every time I meet an obstacle I don’t know how to respond. God has an answer for everything. Worrying is the opposite of faith which is why James tells us that you can’t receive God’s wisdom without faith.
A few more tidbits James gives us are not to get angry at people and to learn how to control our tongue. The ability to control our tongues is the ultimate test of maturity. Gulp!
Lord, help us to show our faith by the way we live our lives. Faith is active so help us to walk in love and faith. We lay down our selfish ambitions and choose to walk in sincere love.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Sat.’s Devo - To Phillipi With Love, From Paul

Read: Phillippians 2:12-4:23
Paul has a deep love for the church at Phillip. They are the only church that valued his service enough to support him financially. Paul’ whole life was an offering to the Body of Christ. His foremost desire was to see them grow and mature in their walk with Christ. He was very proud of this church because they were doing just that.
Paul highly commended Timothy who faithfully served with him. He is sending this letter by Timothy so that he could encourage them and bring back a good report. Paul also commends Epaphroditus who was a Roman soldier converted to Christ while watching over Paul in prison. Paul was sending him to accompany Timothy since he missed them. When reading this, I can’t help but feel the sense of family that they all share. Paul was their spiritual father, since so many of them came to the faith through his ministry.
Paul warned them against returning to follow the rituals of the law. These rituals were meant by God to be a shadow of the real. When the real came through Jesus, they were to stop doing the rituals and let the lesson be ingrained in their hearts. To return to circumsism and hand washing was to go backwards, not forwards. Paul tells us to forget the past and press on to finish our race. The end is full of rewards that will make all our trials worth while.
In Paul’s final words he addressed a disagreement between two women, Euedia and Syntyche. He begged them to settle it because they had been such a blessing in their ministry and they were letting the devil steal their testimony.
Lastly, Paul tells us not to worry but to pray about every thing. What we think about is out choice, so let’s choose to think about things that are good, true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. That is the secret to having peace in your hearts.
Lord, we give you our thoughts today and choose to have thoughts of faith and hope.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Fri.’s Devo - Paul’s Letter

Read: Philemon 1:1-23; Phillipians 1:1-2:11
Paul mentored many young men. Timothy and Onesimus were two of them. They were both with him in Rome and grew under his prison ministry. He wrote to Philemon while he was a prisoner, begging him to accept the new Onesimus who had matured and could now be an asset to the church at large. Onesimus had been a slave of Philemon’s before but Paul is asking Philemon to now accept him as a brother.
Paul also speaks of Epaphras, who was a fellow prisoner that converted under his ministry. He mentions others that co-labor with him in Rome. Paul makes it clear to his audience that everything in his life led him up to this moment in Rome. He was destined to go here and spread the good news. Little did Paul know that he was a type of the end-time church. During Jesus time, the religious headquarters was in Rome. It was corrupt and he came to lay down his life there that life might spring from that place. Paul, as a type of “the Church” was to die in Rome because in the last days, the place of religious apostasy will be in Rome. The Vatican will be where the one world religion will set up its headquarters once Jesus comes for his bride. There will be no true believers to stop them but life will also spring up from that place as unbelievers come to the truth.
Paul realized that his only motivation for living was to further the gospel of Christ. He would choose death but for the goal in his heart. He was convinced that to remain alive would help someone in the Body of Christ grow and experience the joy of their salvation. He prayed that his struggle would encourage them to be thankful.
At the end of his letter he reminded them to remember all Jesus did for them on the cross. He, the son of God, humbled himself and laid down his life for the world. Then God highly exalted him to the highest honor and gave him the highest name on earth. One day, every tongue would declare that he was Lord.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Thurs.’s Devo - The Nature of God

Read: Colossians 1:24-4:18
God is constantly revealing new things to those who trust him. There are things written in the Bible that are sealed from our understanding until the time that God plans to reveal them. They are like the seals of Revelation. God keeps them sealed until it is time to open them up. Paul came as the messenger of church of Ephesus. In Revelation 2:1, John called him the angel of the church of Ephesus. Each of the churches in Revelation refer to a different church age and each angel referred to a certain person during that age that unsealed an important revelation God wanted unsealed. Paul came to the church and the new revelation that he unsealed was the fact that the Gentiles were all part of God’s plan and they were to be adopted into the family of God. This was blasphemy to some and good news to others. Paul gave his life and suffered much to bring forth that truth. He stayed faithful till the end of his life. Once a seal is broken, it is forever a truth no longer hidden but a truth that will continue to every generation after that.
Paul’s goal was to birth churches of people that were filled with the knowledge of God’s will and grew in wisdom, understanding and good fruits.
Paul warned them to not let man lead them away from the truth they received by philosophy, vain deceit, traditions of men, and the rudiments of the world. (That is King James talk.) Philosophy is the love of wisdom and knowledge that comes through logical analysis of the principles underlying conduct, thought, knowledge, and the nature of the universe. We can learn about God by observing his creation but the nature of the universe and man is not necessarily the nature of God. This world is Satan’s domain that we are to take back for the kingdom of God, so we are not going to learn about God through logical analysis. God is not logical. He is higher than logic and cannot be understood by our finite minds. To understand God through logic was the temptation Satan gave Eve as they stood looking at the tree whose fruit promised to give them knowledge of good and evil. He told her that she would be as God, understanding these things. We understand God through spiritual discernment. He does reveal himself through nature but everything we learn about God comes through his son, Jesus. Jesus was the manifest presence of God on the earth. We will never understand God apart from his son, Jesus.
Lord, help us to embrace our weaknesses and rest in Jesus as the answer to everything we need to know.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wed.’s Devo - Walk in Victory

Read: Ephesians 5:1-6:24; Colossians 1:1-23
Today was full of deep truths. I underlined: “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” I used to think that life was me trying to figure out what I wanted to do and trying to make that happen. In between, there was blank space where I just existed aimlessly. That is life in the world. Life in the spirit is full of meaning and purpose. Every minute things are going on in the spiritual realm and if we can train ourselves to see, we will respond correctly. We can KNOW what God wants us to do. It’s not a vocation as much as an awareness that every minute is our destiny. Our lives should be full of god-orchestrated events. I look for God’s appointments everywhere I go. If I’m shopping, I try to be aware of the people standing beside me sifting through the clothes racks. I try to keep my spiritual eyes and hears open to be obedient to anything God tells me to do. It might be as simple as acknowledging someone exists. The Holy Spirit gives us love for others, even fellow shoppers we don’t know.
Paul explains that our enemies are not people we see but evil spirits that work through these people and through circumstances. We will not see this with our earthly eyes, we must see this through our spiritual eyes. Understanding this will help us to have self-control and not attack someone who is attacking us. Satan uses whoever he can, and many times he uses us to attack each other. If we can recognize his schemes we can stop his plans before they get off the ground. We are about to have our youngest son and his wife and two kids come and live with us. I’m sure, I will have to remind myself of this truth many times.
God tells us to put on our armor that is spiritual. We have to know truth, be covered with the righteousness of Christ, walk in peace and faith, have the mind of Christ, and use the Word of God. When we have all of these things, nothing the devil brings against us will be able to harm us. Jesus told us that in this world we will have tribulations, but to be joyful, because he has overcome the world!
Lord, may we equip ourselves everyday, to walk in your love and power. Sharpen our spiritual eyes and ears to see and hear what you want us to.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Tues.’s Devo - Gifts to the Church

Read: Ephesians 3:1-5:14
The fact that God had planned from the foundation of the earth to extend the same grace and mercy to the Gentiles as to the Jews was a new revelation God had kept a secret until now. It was Paul’s mission to get this revelation out to the people. It came through much suffering on Paul’s part but he told the people that he was honored to to suffer for them.
I have been reading in the New Living Translation but today they totally missed the meaning. When it says that Christ descended they implied that he descended to earth but the Greek words mean that Christ descended to Hades. He left the grave and went down to the cities of refuge under the earth where the ones that died were sleeping. He preached “captivity captive” and took the keys to death, hell, and the grave with him as well as the many people that believed in his preaching. These people had never had the opportunity to accept Christ because he hadn’t come yet. These were the people that Matthew 27:51-53 talked about walking the streets of Jerusalem after his ascension.
Paul listed the gifts Christ gave to the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Many churches are functioning without all of Christ’s gifts - how much better they would function if they received the gifts God had for them. These gifts are to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. They will continue to operate in these gifts until we all come into unity, mature and become the complete standard of Christ.
Paul rebuked them for telling lies, letting their anger get out of control, stealing, using abusive language, sexual sins and not forgiving. Instead he told them to live a life full of love, following Jesus’ example. We are to flee evil and live in righteousness that comes from knowing God.
Lord, help us to hate evil and love good. May we embrace the gifts that you have given the church and seek to find the gift that we are.

Monday, December 5, 2016

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

Read: Acts 28:1-31; Ephesians 1:1-2:22
You can’t read this without seeing how fickle man is. Paul’s entourage swam to the island of Malta where the people who lived there went from thinking he had a demon to thinking he was a god in the space of a day. Once he gained their favor he was able to heal all that he prayed for. I long for that day…it’s coming!
They left with gifts and everything they needed. They met believers along the way to Rome that received them into their homes and gave them love and hospitality. Once in Rome, Paul was given freedom to live where he wanted accompanied by a soldier for protection. They put the soldier there to watch over Paul to make sure he didn’t escape, but God put the soldier there to keep him safe. God always turns things around for good!
Three days after he arrived he was able to share his testimony before Caesar and many others. They had all heard rumors of this new religion, and were anxious to hear more about it. Paul was able to explain in detail all the prophesies leading up to Jesus appearance on earth. Some were persuaded to believe and others were not. Then he explained the prophecy from Isaiah about the hard hearts of the Jews and the invitation to the Gentiles.
For two years, Paul was able to stay under house arrest and entertain many who wanted to hear about Jesus and salvation. He wrote the book of Ephesians there as a letter to the church in Ephesus. In his prayer for them he explained that God chose us in advance to be his children. We are part of his plan to bring everything together under the authority of Christ in heaven and on earth. He also reminds the Gentiles of God’s love and mercy toward them. God pulled them out of sin and chose to adopt them into the family of God. We should be thankful.
Lord, thank you for your plan.. Help us to be more zealous toward your plan than ours. May your plan become our plan.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sun.’s Devo - Listening to God’s Voice

Read: Acts 27:1-44
Paul left Jerusalem for Italy with two Roman officers and a cargo of other prisoners along with soldiers and sailors. Paul was shown much kindness from Julius, the captain of the Imperial Regiment so he was allowed to freely visit with his friends. Paul was probably the only prisoner that they could trust since he himself had appealed to Caesar.
Leaving there, the trip got worse and worse with bad weather and choppy sea. When they finally reached Fair Havens, a bay in Crete, Paul gave them a word of knowledge that there was trouble ahead if they continued. The crew wanted to go to the next harbor which made more sense because it had a better harbor for protecting the ship during the winter. So, they went against God’s word and followed common sense. They spent days in fear for their lives as they fought the storm without food or sleep. Finally, the sailors tried to escape on a life boat but Paul told the commanding officer that they would all die if they were allowed to leave. The officer listened to Paul this time and made them cut the ropes to the life boat. (I wonder how many of the sailors wanted to kill Paul as they watched their lifeboat sail away, or if the boat broke into pieces minutes after it hit the water and they were glad.)
That night an angel came to Paul and encouraged him that they would all be safe. Paul told the men and to show his peace, he broke some bread and prayed aloud and encouraged them to eat with him. This was a strange thing to do when you think you are fighting for your life, but Paul had gotten a word from God. If they had listened to his first “word from God” they wouldn’t have been in this situation. They were ready to hear this time and ate with him. They were strengthened to go back out and fight. The ship hit ground and started to fall apart. When the soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to keep them from escaping, Julius came to Paul’s rescue. Because of Paul, all the prisoners were spared and they swam to the island of Malta where they were all safe.
This story lets us see the importance of hearing the voice of God and obeying it. Sometimes what God tells us to do goes against common sense but God sees the end from the beginning and knows all things. His wisdom is always right. All the men on the boat were becoming witnesses of Paul’s walk with God.
Lord, help us to be quick to hear and quick to respond to your voice even if it defies reason.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Sat.’s Devo - Paul Stands Before the Political Leaders

Read: Acts 24:1-26:32
Paul had spoken before the religious leaders and given them a chance to repent, but all they wanted to do was to kill him. Then God gave Paul an audience with Tertullus, the governor; Festus, his successor and his wife, Drusilla; King Agrippa and his sister, Bernice. They would have let him go if he had not appealed to Caesar. God wanted Paul to tell the good news to the nation of Rome and give it a chance to repent. God always gives a nation a chance to repent before he pronounces judgement on the nation. Paul was in prison for two years under house arrest. Actually, his house arrest gave him peace from his accusers and safety from their threats of killing him. He was able to write and see his friends. He was not concerned about his comfort or his life - he was concerned about his mission and his destiny of preaching the gospel of the kingdom.
What is worth noting is Paul’s respect and humility before the governing leaders. He realized that God put these people where they were and they were worthy of respect for that reason, if no other. He was concerned about their faith and prayed to convince them of the Way of Jesus. King Agrippa was a Jew, but he was too stooped in tradition and religion to believe the spirit of the law that was manifested in the life of Jesus. So, Paul is off to Rome to speak before Caesar.
I wonder if we miss opportunities to share about our faith because we are too caught up with thinking we should be set free, healed, living in ease. God uses us where we are and sometimes he has to arrange our circumstances so that we will end up where he needs us. This life is not about our comfort or freedom from worry, but about walking in the spirit and fulfilling God’s work on the earth.
Lord, we allow you to put us in circumstances where you can use us. Help us to see the opportunities that you place before us and take them.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fri.’s Devo - Paul Before His Accusers

Read: Acts 21:37-23:35
The church at Corinth had complained that Paul was not a very dynamic speaker, but he sounded pretty confident and dynamic to me as he addressed his accusers. He awed them by speaking in Aramaic and had them eating out of his hand until he dropped the Gentile bomb. Then they exploded. The Roman commander stepped in and ordered him to be whipped until he confessed his crime. When he found out Paul was born a Roman citizen, fear fell on him and he kept Paul over night unchained and unharmed.
The next day Paul was brought before the Jewish religious council to be tried. These were the same people who had ordered Jesus to be crucified. I bet they are wondering when this is going to stop and die down. Paul noticed there were Pharisees and Sadducees in the council so he played them against one another. Another uproar arose and Paul had to be rescued from the crowd again.
Some of the zealous leaders were so upset they wanted to secretly kill Paul and shut him up but God protected him and allowed him to arrive safely in Rome.
God has a real enemy called Satan and Satan recruits people into his army just as God does. These men that hated Paul had hated Jesus and hated God even though they were the “religious” leaders. They had strayed so far from the true God and the Mosaic law that they believed a total lie and worshipped a different god than the true God. This is still happening today. God is building an army of believers, but Satan is also building his army. His army hates everything that is of God and their goal is to stop the spreading of the Gospel, but like Paul, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and we will not die until our message has been spread! Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. We have dealt a huge blow in the enemy’s camp by electing a conservative Christian president, but we can’t lay our weapons down. We need to fight to see him transition into his place and we need to stand alert because the enemy will try anything to get his foothold back or worse yet, lull us to sleep again in our comfortable state. We cannot go to sleep! We have to hold the ground and keep advancing until Jesus returns.
Lord, help us to stay awake and aware of what is going on around us in the natural and especially the spirit. May we always wear our armor and have our sword sharpened and ready to use.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thurs.’s Devo - Clash of Kingdoms

Read: Acts 20:13-21:36
Paul was like Jesus. When it was time for them to leave this world, they knew and they forged toward their destiny. Even after being warned what would happen, Paul could not be deterred. We think of death in such a negative way, but they knew the truth. Death for those in Jesus is promotion, especially when you know it is time to die. Neither of them were afraid of persecution or pain. The reward set before them was what they were setting their eyes on.
One interesting thing to note is that Paul arrived in Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost. This is the feast that represents the giving of the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is characterized throughout scripture with spiritual warfare and power. The world doesn’t like things of the Spirit and the kingdom of Satan will fight the birthing of anything Godly. Paul arrived in Jerusalem, full of the Holy Spirit and the evil spirits there greatly opposed his coming. So the whole city was in an uproar. This is such a picture of what is going on in our country. The kingdom of God is advancing and the kingdom of Satan is causing uproar and madness because it is being pushed back and losing power. The only way the kingdom of Satan can be stopped is by prayer and taking authority over him. We have been given the Army of God to fight for us. They are an invisible army of angles that are waiting for our command. We command them to go to every town and city in America and Israel where there is madness and chaos and we command them to fight for peace and victory. We pray that God will give President Trump wisdom and authority to lead our nation by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you, Lord, for your mercy on our nation and for hearing our prayers. We stand up and say, “Peace be still” to the storm raging around us.