Category Archives: Devotional

Love In Action

So I am trying to kick my blog off with a new design, and with yet another attempt at updating it weekly. No idea how that will go, but let us see. This here post is in response to a few things some friends have said/written and inspired me. It may be a bit of a ramble, as I didn’t write it near as soon as I should have, so the thoughts are not as organized as they ought. But I will do my best…after another cup of coffee…*gets up and refills cup*

Just to tickle your interest, here are the Four Thoughts I will touch on:

1) God is Love/Love is God
2) Manifestation
3) What is Good/Evil?
4) Walking The Walk

Anyways, if you think through I John 4:8 to it’s conclusion…passages about love can be used to describe God. A lot of people use I Cor. 13 as the example for this, but I’m gonna be radical and different. I will use the Love Passage from Romans 12:9-21 since no one ever does. It is all about love in action which describes God pretty well. Here goes (make sure to read this as about God not Love:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is Mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary:

‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

(italics added)

Pretty interesting eh? It really does describe God/Love in action. But to be honest, while this passage can be used to describe God, it’s purpose isn’t to do that. Its to explain to us how He wants us to live. Which is love, love, love, and more love. And it says to leave the dirty work (vengeance) to Him. Which brings me to my second thought…

God has many sides to Him, He is not just Love. He is also Just. Hence the part about Him taking vengeance in the passage above. However, it is interesting that He asks us only to love.

Why is that?

Well think about it: God made us in His image. However, whereas He would be a mural on the Great Wall of China, we are merely a postage stamp. We have many of His attributes, but in much smaller ways with smaller capacities to carry them out. And then after The Fall, our ability to live up to His Image was hampered even further. God knows we have the ability to carry out vengeance (just watch the news every day). But also knows that our smaller capacity and the easily corruptible nature of vengeance will fail to get the job done satisfactorily. It takes a lot of wisdom and knowledge to be Fully Just.

However, to love does not require that. Yes, our capacity for it is smaller than His. But love takes a lot less wisdom and knowledge (have you seen how well a small child loves?) and is not as easily corruptible (at least in the way vengeance is). You just love. That’s it. Go back and read that passage again. Only this time, don’t read it as about God…read it as about how you are supposed to live.

Now think on this: we are supposed to let people know about God. (Matt. 28:19-20) How do I mean this to be done?

Manifest
verb (used with object)
3. to make clear or evident to the eye or the understanding; show plainly: He manifested his approval with a hearty laugh.
4. to prove; put beyond doubt or question: The evidence manifests the guilt of the defendant.

We should live in such a way, that God is made clear to people’s understandings, beyond a doubt! And since the best way we are able to reveal God’s image in us, according to our abilities and capacity, is to love…THEN LOVE! Read the passage above often. Read I Cor. 13 often. This is how we manifest God in this world. Let God take care of the rest, as He has the wisdom and knowledge and power to know what/how to do the rest. Loving? Manifest it. Live it. The more you work on being love in action, the more God will enter into your moment to moment life. May we all be so dilligent.

So…yeah…Not as organized as I’d like. But it kinda spilled out. :) Hope it makes you think. Comment and let me know what your thoughts are! Share links on your facebook for others to read! Subscribe as well please. Thank you!

P.S. Yehuda: my answer to your question of what is good/evil may already be evident to you by now. But let me succinctly summarize it: Anything of God, of Love (in action) is good. Because it reveals God in this fallen world. Anything not of God, of Love (in action) is evil. Because it veils God in this fallen world.


“…and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Hebrews 10:10-39 is basically a three section passage. verses 19-25 contain reasons and ways to persevere, verses 26-31 are some serious warnings about abandoning the Christian fellowship, and verses 32-39 are kinda like a pep talk to those who are persevering, to help them to keep on keepin’ on. Right now I am going to focus on the first section.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:19-25, NIV)

As I said, this passage speaks of some practical reasons and methods to persevere. I am going to take it in a little bit of a chopped up order.

Reasons To Persevere:

1. Confidence To Enter “The Most Holy Place”
In all of history, no one but the high priest, and then only once a year and under special requirements, could ever enter God’s presence in the innermost chamber of the temple. But now, by Christ’s sacrifice of His blood and body, we can. Each and every one of us, at will. He was the only perfect sacrifice possible.

2. We Have A Great High Priest
Sometimes it is best to let the Bible speak for itself: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16, NIV)

3. He Who Promised Is Faithful
(I Cor. 1:9; Phil. 1:6; II Tim. 2:13)
What God says, He will do. So if something is promised in return for our perseverance, we can be assured that it will be done.

4. The Day Approaches
“Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” (I Thessalonians 5:1-3, NIV)
No one knows then it is. When that Day comes there will be no more time to work, play, sin, love, nothing. All that will matter is who we believed Jesus to be (faith) and what we did with that belief (works). Will we be among those who persevered with the belief that Jesus really was who He said He was, and then lived it? Or will we have squandered our hearts and lives? Time may be short. And even if not, it is best to make the most of our time here.

Practical Ways To Persevere:

1. Draw Near To God
This one comes with four conditions to be possible. And may also be the most important way to persevere. For by drawing near to God, we can draw strength for everything else.
a. A Sincere Heart (Ps. 51:16-17)
We must always strive to know that we mean it when we say “I believe,” and not be lukewarm or fake (Revelation 3:15-17).
b. Full Assurance Of Faith
The reasons for persevering that are given above are great reasons to be full of faith. But if not, remember what Jesus did for us while on earth, and still does today. And think over in your heart and mind the facts of the matter. Remember: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)
c. Hearts Sprinkled From A Guilty Conscience
Christ died that we may keep “no record of wrongs,” even against ourselves. (I Cor. 13:5b, NIV) Guilt only holds us back.
d. Bodies Washed With Pure Water
We must allow ourselves to be purified by the Holy Spirit from sin. Pray, read your Bible, do everything you can to fill yourself with the Spirit and rid yourself of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

2. Hold Unswervingly To The Faith We Profess
Don’t stop, don’t reverse, don’t turn. Keep at it. This is the heart, the very meaning of perseverance. Not. Quitting. No matter how hard it gets, how lonely you feel, or how strong you think you are on your own.

3. Spur One Another On Towards Love And Good Deeds
Sometimes we will find a brother or sister in need of some kind advice, or even some gentle prodding. We all have our moments when we become lazy or indecisive, and it is our job to help each other out in these moments. I know if I was having one of those times (and I kinda am now) I would want my brothers and sisters to say something about it to me. And then there are times that parts of the body stop working, or even start damaging the surrounding tissue with the cancer of sin. These are the times when rebuking, teaching, and correcting come into play. (Matt. 18:15-20 ; II Tim. 3:16-17)

4. Do Not Give Up Meeting Together
The Greek word used for “give up” means to desert and abandon. We should meet together as often as we can. Whether it be in church, homes, coffee shops, the park, or even facebook if necessary. Don’t cut yourself off or you will not have the support you need. Your faith will shrivel like a raisin. We were never called to a life of solitude. Remember: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (I Cor. 12:26, NIV…read verses 12-30 tho, good stuff)

5. Encourage One Another
If all members of the body were to push each other on, rooting for one another, we would be able to do so much more than we are now. We each should be cheerleaders for our brothers and sisters, and they ours.

Conclusion:
Always keep these reasons in the forefront of your mind. Don’t stop, and don’t give up. I know, first hand, that it can feel pretty dire sometimes and you just want to quit. But don’t, please don’t.


A Good Lesson To Learn

In Genesis 4:7, God says this: ” ‘If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.’ ” (NIV)

Something that has been on my mind lately, and especially today, is that life is tough. It’s hard. Even as, ESPECIALLY as, a Christan. It is so easy to quit, and infinitely more difficult to persevere.

But then there is passage, from Hebrews (10:19-39)

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. For,

‘In just a little while,
He who is coming will come
and will not delay.’

And,

‘But My righteous one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.’

But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” (NIV)

If you would, read those words again, and let them sink in. Think over their implications. Over the next while, for my own study, I am going to go through this passage, breaking it down to learn what it means for me. I’ll post my notes here, for others to read, in case it helps them as well. In the meantime, I encourage you to take 45 minutes out of your day to watch this sermon. It’s by Mark Driscoll, about the cost of discipleship. It’s very closely related the above passage and what has been on my heart lately. It will definitely make you think about how you are living.

Luke’s Gospel: Investigating the Man Who Is God
Part 63: The Cost of Discipleship
Luke 14:25-35

“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”


Touch Me Lord

Touch me Lord, by the power of Your Name
Touch me Lord, and let me not seek fame
Touch me Lord, and take away my shame
Touch me Lord, and I’ll never be the same


When Life Happens

I was reading in the book of Job today (for those who you who know, I am reading the chronological Bible in a year). The passage that struck me as very important was 1:20-22…

“At [finding out his children had all just died], Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” (NIV)

For those of you who don’t know, me and Jessica broke up…So in some ways I may identify with Job. I’ve had things drastically changed in my life. Now, for people who have based themselves on things…when those things are removed, their viewpoint is really changed. But not Job. No. His viewpoint was based on God the whole time. So when stuff happened, HE STILL PRAISED GOD. He acknowledged God’s sovereignty, power, and praised Him. And note this very important part: “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”

How many of us, when bad things happen, blame it on God, or fall into old bad habits, or take it out on those around us? Is that how we are to show God’s love in our lives to others? Or is it rather by living out in our lives acknowledgment for His sovereignty? It doesn’t matter if God made it happen, let it happen, or what…Can’t you trust God to bring you through it, even if all that happens is that you die and go to heaven? “‘Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him.'” (Job 13:15, NIV)

What our viewpoint is based on…Is it based on our circumstances or feelings or relationships? If so, when those things change (and they will), then our foundation, the basis for our whole outlook on life, will be completely different. But that’s not what God wants: He wants us to be founded on Him, and to rely on Him for everything. Including how we look at life. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:2-3, NIV) In other words, focus on God and His precepts and principles and character. Because God never changes (Heb. 13:8), so our foundation will never change. Everything else we can base ourselves on is from the world. And this world will be shaken: “[In the times of old] His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.'”

Here’s my question to you (and to myself)…Are you blaming God for anything in your life? Even deeper…Have you based your viewpoint…your very self and soul on God or something else?

Will you be shaken?


In This Morning’s Bible Study

I’ve started reading the Bible In A Year in the Chronological Order. Meaning, I’ll be reading the books/chapters of the Bible in the order that the events took place. This morning I read Gen. 8-11, and came across two things that struck me about God’s intelligence and wisdom and also about our own ingenuity…

Genesis 9:20 (NIV) says: “Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard.”
Out of all the professions in the world, a farmer, indeed, the son of a farmer (see Gen. 5:29), is pretty much the best you could do. In a few generations, with the bits and pieces of knowledge that Noah and his sons and all their wives had, they could put back together the human knowledge bank on medicine, building (after all, Noah had built the ark), and anything else they needed…But a farmer in cultures back then were the foundation of the society. If food wasn’t grown, it had to be foraged, which means you all became wanderers. Noah’s knowledge allowed him and his sons (who he doubtlessly taught his skills to) to choose where to settle. Pretty neat of God, eh?

Genesis 11:6 (NIV) says: “The LORD said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.'”
Interesting how God says anything we put our minds to we could do. The study notes in my Bible say, “If the whole human race remained united in the proud attempt to take its destiny into its own hands and, by its man-centered efforts, to seize the reins of history, there would be no limit to its unrestrained rebellion against God. The kingdom of man would displace and exclude the kingdom of God.” The thought that struck me here was…Even though we do not at this point in time have a one world language, we do have global communication…The internet, online chat translator programs, and all sorts of things that make it easier and easier for us to “speak the same language” and to approach again the point where “nothing we plan will be impossible for us.” Scary huh? Makes me wonder if one of the requirements or signs of the end time is when we really start having a global language…

Anyways, those are just some of the thoughts I walked away from this morning’s Bible study with. Thoughts, ideas, questions?


Three Days In

If you haven’t yet, read this blog entry before continuing. It will explain a little.

“He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” (Proverbs 21:21, NIV)

It’s been a bit hectic, as I have to change most of my habits and day routine to just read the Bible. And it has yet to happen at regular times, or in large amounts; but I think that it’s OK to start small.

Of all the things that I’ve read the last three days, the verse above, and the passage below are what stick out most to me.

I Peter 5:6-11, 1:3-9 (NIV)

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

and

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

I read these to my girlfriend yesterday morning when she was feeling stressed about something. And while it definitely helped her, I think it spoke to me as well. I don’t need to worry so much about things. Especially this committing to read only the Bible thing…If for some reason I miss a reading, I don’t think God would want me to stress out, but rather come to Him and just pray. I am protected by His power. :)

-Anthony.


Forty Days In The Word…And Just The Word

I am committing over the next 40 days to spend more time in the Word and in prayer. I’m choosing the number 40 because it is pretty significant in the Bible, and a lot of people went through periods of 40 in which God grew them.

Now what Bible study am I using to do this? None. I am going to read only the Word. NO extrabiblical works at all. No “Purpose Driven Life” or “My Utmost For His Highest” devotionals. I was looking for one to use and then thought, “That would be too easy. Wouldn’t it be more challenging, and helpful, to read only the Word?” Now, if I read an article on Relevant that’s not a big deal. But books and studies specifically meant to be used “along side” the Bible are out.

I don’t know where I’ll start, but I’ll start tonight. And I’ll try to post my thoughts along the way. Tho, if time constraints get in the way, I’ll obviously choose to read the Word and catch up on WordPress later. So we’ll see how this goes. :)

God Bless,
Anthony.


Knowing God

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” (II Peter 1:2, NIV)

What is the purpose of our lives? What is it that we were placed here to do? When I was younger, I was too engrossed in Eccl. 12:13-14 “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (NIV) And more recently John 14:15, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (NIV)

Not that these two passages are wrong. After all, one was spoken by Jesus Himself, and elsewhere in the Bible we are told that God’s Word is never wrong (II Tim. 3:16-17). But that’s not the whole picture. Hardly at all. Rather, these two passages are more the MEANS to the end.

THE END

Duty. Obedience. Command. These are some strong words, that people sometimes use to bully or self-oppress, and at other times to legitimately call another out on their wrongs. But when it comes to the issue of “what is our purpose?” I have a feeling there is more to it then this…Like this is a part of it, but not the whole.

A lot of people might say getting into heaven is our goal. Well, a few chapters after Jesus told us to obey Him, He says this: ” ‘Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.’ ” (John 17:3, NIV) Most of the time you hear about eternal life, it’s paired with “asking Christ into your heart.” Now what does that mean? “Hey Jesus, can you come into my heart and crash a while?” What happens when you later decide to “slip up” and do some drinking or swearing? “Hey JC, can you cover your ears/leave the room a moment? You might not like this…” Tolerance. Bad stuff. “JC” doesn’t like that stuff. Remember, He called out people on tolerance. But in this passage, we get an idea of what it practically means to ask Jesus into our lives and how to get into heaven…And dare I say, our purpose?

THE REASON

“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” (Phil. 3:8, NIV)

If we are to know Christ and God…why? Because He is SO much greater than ANYTHING! Nothing compares. Ever. Nor will anything ever compare. Nor has anything ever compared before. HE IS IT! God is the old, present, and new awesome. I AM THAT I AM is Who should rock our world. “This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.” (Jer. 9:23.24, NIV) It’s not our new sneakers, our grades, the internship we just got into, or even our loved one’s accomplishments we should be proclaiming to the world…It’s God.

THE MEANS

Back to what I knew when I was younger…Obedience and Duty are part of the means, the expression of this love towards God. But what does loving God mean? It means to know Him. All these passages point towards KNOWING HIM. A relationship. Obedience and Duty without love and a relationship are merely religious structures that fall apart when tested by the fire. No, it is a relationship with us the He desires for our lives, and for which He designed us. By obeying Him you can show Him you love Him…but to just obey Him to get into heaven, that shows you to be motivated wrongly.

THE PURPOSE

“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice.” (C.S. Lewis, Til We Have Faces)

Knowing Him is the purpose of our lives. Nothing else compares. So, let us continue to get to know the Lord, “…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13, NIV) Amen.


If Our Faith Has Cost Us Nothing, Then What Is It Worth?

If our faith has cost us nothing…then what is it worth? After all, your faith is only worth as much as it costs you. Salvation is free…but faith is not.

Your faith is worth what it has cost you

2 Samuel 24:18-25
Matthew 13:44-46
Luke 14:26-35
Acts 5:1-11
2 Timothy 3:10-17