Thursday, April 18, 2019

Daily Devotional April 18 - Don't Be Led by An Ass

"...and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him (Balaam). Now he (Balaam) was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him. And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his (the angels) hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her away. But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side. And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again. And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff. And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? And Balaam said unto the ass, because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? Was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, nay. Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? Behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive." Numbers 22:22b-33

What does it take to open the eyes of someone blind to what God is trying to do or say in their life? Even the baser elements of creation are working to tell you about your dilemmas. Once a man or woman has made up their mind, quite often they cannot see clearly, even though all of nature may be trying to steer them, they just can't see it. Also, those who are spiritually blind may not be able to see clearly, in that they have made choices that are determinately not godly.

God brings a great many things to pass to keep you from ruin. Maybe you should be more sensitive if things aren't going your way or if you are having a difficult time reaching your destination. You should at least try to see if it is your own stubbornness and/or spiritual blindness that is leading you to an undesirable end.

Sometimes when the path is not smooth it is God using all of creation to bring you around to your senses. Sometimes it is not God and your enemy is trying to thwart your good efforts by blocking you or standing against you.
How then can youe know?

First: Quit fighting God. You will never see clearly and always be up against this dilemma if you are not receptive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Second: Pray about it. Millions of unnecessary problems and discomforts have come from your own pride that keeps you from going to God in prayer and discussing the very situation with God. So many people try to navigate the path on their own power under their own guidance.

Third: If where you want to go or what you want to do hasn't been sanctioned by God and there are obstacles in your path, it is God working on your behalf to save you from yourself and your foolish choices. But if where you are headed and what you want is a godly thing, count on it being your enemy that is blocking the way. Be sure of one thing; you shouldn't be so blind that an ass would have to give you instructions or directions."

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Daily Devotional April 17 - Filled With The Spirit

"And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Ephesians 5:18-19

In the minds of men and women, good men and women there are too many interpretations of the scriptures. Ask a Baptist about being filled with the Spirit and you get a different answer than if you ask someone from a Pentecostal church. Ask a Catholic and you will find a much different view of the Spirit of God than if you ask a modern Non-denominational member. Even inside of any given church body you might find more than one version of what it means to be filled with the Spirit.

I'm not taking sides here, nor did I mention any of these denominations to set them apart as being more wrong or more right than any other. The point is that there are huge differences in philosophy among the churches. It is my point to clear something up about being filled with the Spirit.

The Bible speaks clearly and carefully lays out truths so that you can not only believe it but grasp it also. The Bible is the Word of God and therefore it will be profound, but God knowing our limitations has made it all understandable. The Bible defines the Bible. Truth upon truth is laid out for those who are seeking to be led by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is the most beautiful thing in all creation. This experience was not meant to be used as a tool for any church to separate one group from another. I've heard one person say to another that they have not been born again if they do not do this or do that. Foolish men and women and church leaders have built rules and regulations around this experience that are not in the Bible. That sounds a little like in the days when Jesus was visiting Jerusalem and met up with the religious folk of the times. I've heard men yell at others as if they were infidels simply because they did not posses a particular gift of the Holy Spirit.

My point is that being filled with the Holy Spirit is, was and will always be a beautiful thing.

  • It will not be beat into you by those who think they are better than you.
  • It will not come to you in the form of anything that others say should happen, but you don't sense in your heart.
  • Being filled with the Spirit of God is gentle and wonderful and gracious.
  • Being filled with the Spirit of God makes you humble and kind, wise and forgiving, consoling and gentle, patient and loving.
  • Being filled with the Spirit of God is an inner work that God does to the faithful. It is best seen in the inner man and not by outward signs. It is a work of God that transcends our religious or denominational bents. God chooses the man, woman, teen or child that will represent Him.
  • Being filled with the Spirit of God is not a game for leaders to play as if they could get a written tally and if everyone in their church possessed a certain gift of the spirit they would be elevated above others.

If anything you will find those who have been filled with the Spirit, speaking to themselves "in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in (their/your) heart to the Lord."

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Daily Devotional April 16 - Personal Therapy

""Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy." 1 Timothy 6:17

The key here is that God gives to all liberally and God has designed us to enjoy life. There are many ways that you could advance your joy meter.  Be friendly to other people. You might find out that not everyone is like those who have misused you or mistreated you.

Take a walk every day (if you can) and just enjoy the natural beauty surrounding you. That's what it was made for.

Sit back in total silence and let God speak to you. There is no enjoyment quite like hearing the voice of God. (Wait, don't say you can't hear the voice of God. You might have to get away from all the other voices around you for a moment, like; TV, radio, your spouse, the Internet, your ipod or blackberry, but you can hear the voice of God)

Create a hobby or re-start where you left off in that hobby you really enjoyed. Even if time has gotten in the way and years have passed, most of the time you can pick up where you left off. If not, it's time to begin anew.

Give something to someone. That's right, just start giving things away (and I don't mean ripped up and torn things or old junk that barely works; that's not giving) give something of value to someone; maybe a grandson or granddaughter, maybe give something to someone you have never met. Last week I met a young black man at the grocery store. He is a business major at the local college. I sensed that he was a reading young man and he is. I brought him three of my favorite books 2 hardbacks and one soft cover, all in great shape. These were books I had been planning to keep in my collection, but God was tugging on my heart and I gave them away.

Plan a scheduled event for yourself. Do something you really want to do for yourself. I know money is tight, but you can't always use that as an excuse. Maybe you will have to work hard, plan and save, but to just keep making excuses why you can't do it is not good for your soul. Maybe you have worked all your life and you are on a fixed income and it just looks impossible. Maybe it is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Pray about it and see the mighty hand of God minister to your personal needs and desires. Of course God wants you to be happy and enjoy life. Who has been telling you differently? They are mistaken. It is not selfish to do something for yourself.

It amazes me at how mixed up Christians are today. I blame the watered down preaching coming from men and women who haven't seen the fun-side of God. So many preachers have been taught by stiff-necked, callous, letter of the law professors that they haven't taken time to build a relationship with God and get to know more of God's perfection, which includes: laughter, joy, peace, enjoyment, fulfillment, enlightenment, happiness, pleasure and fulfillment of desire.

God richly gave us all things to enjoy. Let's get on with it."

Daily Devotional April 15 - Be Part Of Something Bigger Than Yourself

""And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily." Acts 16:5

Even though in America more churches are closing than opening each year (at this time), there are about 1,500 new church start-ups per year just in America. Of course world-wide the number of new church start-ups is staggering. The point is: In the scriptures much is said about the Church. Here in this verse we see that churches were growing daily. If you are not in a church, (a local congregation where people get together to hear the word of God preached, teach their children and provide many blessings and gifts for all that attend, and they also reach out to those who do not attend and in some cases even support others in other countries) then you are missing out on a phenomenon at least and many daily blessings also.

The reason the Church increased daily in Bible times was no different than today. Men, women, teens and children need fellowship; they need to learn their Bible; they need to socialize with people who have identified themselves with the Lord. Can you be saved and not go to church? Of course. But you can be a millionaire and not spend any of your money also. What's the point? Quit wining about what the church does or doesn't offer and get in there and help to make it a better environment with your presence.

Some of the new start-ups are incredible. Some of the mega-churches are growing because they are feeding the sheep. Some of the local denominational churches that have been there for 100 years are doing a great work. Find what's right in them, not what's wrong. Get in a new start up and suffer with the saints. Support your local pastor. Bless him financially and then even more. The mentality that you should starve your pastor is of the devil. If your pastor is not getting paid a handsome sum, provided excellent housing and then showered with gifts, you are not doing your part. Even if your pastor is just not that great, lift him or her up and make them great. The devil is in charge of: tear-the-pastor-down-and-keep-him-down-so-you-don't-have-to-pay-him/her-well-syndrome.

Here is some benefits of going to a church instead of staying home and trying to act as is you were more spiritual or advanced than those that go to church.

  • You will meet some great people
  • You will have the opportunity to reach out to others to help them
  • You will get help yourself when you need it
  • You will sense the presence of God and find more truths inside of yourself that if you try to do it alone
  • You will be building up (not tearing down) the kingdom of God
  • You will receive revelation, visions, special impartations to you inside your soul. Do with them as you please, but you cannot be in a sanctuary and not receive from God, unless you are the one that is spiritually dead.
  • You will receive blessings from others around you, many.
  • You will be strengthened in your faith.
  • You will (if you go to a contemporary service) probably hear the best live music anywhere.
  • You will hear more Bible and read more Bible than if you try to wing it alone.
  • You will see how other people are coping with life and it will advance your consoling perspective in life.

There are so many more. Be a part of what God is doing. God designed the church and to be in the will of God you will have to let your guard down a little and swallow some pride.

You may have been hurt in the past by church members. So what? People are always going to let you down, but that's no reason to abandon the work of God.
You might not life the pastor. So what? It's not about liking anybody. Is that your litmus test whether you are going to learn from someone? If it is you have been duped. You have been learning form writers, philosophers, TV personalities and many others in whom you have never even met. You probably wouldn't like some of them either.
You might feel that the church you were going to is too dry. Then go to another church. Go to a start-up, go to a mega-church or go to another denomination, but go.

What you need that only a church can provide and what you can offer that no one else can is the only reason you really need to become a part of a congregation.

Daily Devotional April 14 - Christians Have Troubles Too

""Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;"  2 Corinthians 11:24-26

I hate to be the one to break the news, but as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, along with the many blessings and benefits, you will have troubles, and not a few. Natural disasters are one thing that all of us can tolerate, because we know that nature takes no captives. We expect nature to deal a heavy blow at times. We understand that nature can be harsh and unforgiving and can come to any of us unknowingly. I think we all agree that the troubles that come with nature are not person specific.

But when your own friends, those that have sat beside you in church, those who have eaten with you and maybe even watched your children; when they become a Judas, it is devastating. When those that you trusted with privy information and those who you relied upon, that you lent your trust to for a season, when they lie about you and steal from you, it is very difficult to understand and sometimes it takes us a long time to get over it. Paul was abused, misused, beaten, lied about, accused falsely and suffered great emotional pain and loss of integrity because those in whom he trusted became turncoats.

I hope you have never experienced the pain of a fellow church member, so-called Christian, deliberately taking advantage of you and trying to destroy you. I have. There are some people that want what you have so badly they will do anything to get it. There are some people that when they really get just how much you love the Lord, they fall to pieces and set out to do wicked things against you. Jesus brings out the best and the worst in people. Those who love the Lord, the best. Those who love themselves more, the worst. Paul was simply trying to tell people what he saw with his own eyes and experienced in his own heart. It was his life-long friends and co-workers in the synagogue that did most of the terrible things to him. But along the way he made enemies also. Along the way when you serve the Lord you are likely to make some enemies.

I just want to encourage you. What others do to you isn't of much consequence in the big picture. God will have his way. What others took from you , God will return multiplied. What others said about you will come back on them, not because God will have to do anything about it, it is part of the consequence of reaping what you sow. What others did to you that caused you to lose ground, and maybe even lose faith in yourself for a time will be renewed like the wings of eagles. Look up to God and thank him that you are worthy to suffer.

I am not saying that there is any pleasure in suffering. I am saying that if you continue in the Lord, God will have his way with you at least as long as others have had their way with you. That's something to look forward to.

Daily Devotional April 13 - Knowing The Bible Is Power

""Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God." Matthew 22:29

Jesus was talking to the Sadducces, one of the Jewish religious sects of the times. They were having a discussion about who the wife would be with in heaven if she married seven times and all of her husbands died. The key point that I want to make is that we are in error when we don't know the scriptures and say we trust in the power of God. Half of the battles that we have with our fellow Christians, and others, is that sometimes neither one of us has the scriptural knowledge to adjudicate a decision or a judgement.

Jesus says, "ye do err, not knowing the scriptures." Well if the religious sect of the times didn't know the scriptures, what makes us think we can know the scriptures? The religious sect of the times were caught up deep into the letter of the law and that law had been altered to add many man made rules and regulations that were not part of God's clear teaching. When you make up laws of your own, you cannot expect them to have the power of a law of God, and they don't.

Today you and I are free to receive the law of grace and to abide in those laws and live them out through faith. We can see what God intended and then live it because the Holy Spirit indwells the believer. We can know the scriptures and the power of God because God is in us. We cannot blame God because a group of people built a religion unto themselves. We can do the same thing today. Many denominations make rules for themselves that have nothing to do with faith or following the doctrines of the Bible. The rules in themselves are of no great consequence, but trusting in the rules of the Church can steer us from the spirit of the laws that God gave to us. More times than not the trouble with church splits can be traced to church rules, not God laws.

Today people are willing to argue about a point, whether denominationally motivated or not, without having the biblical knowledge to make a sensible, godly argument. I believe the Word of God and if there is a clear issue and someone wants to argue with me and does not know the Word of God, I decline. Just as when unbelievers, atheist and agnostics want to argue about the power of God and they deny or talk down the power of God, I also decline. Because I know the scriptures are true and the power of God is real.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Daily Devotional April 12 - Quit Defending False Religions

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;" Timothy 2:5

If you haven't come to grips that Jesus is the only way into a right relationship with God, I pray you will think about it and just give God a chance to explain Himself. God does that in the Bible. God explains the beginning of it all, the pathway from where you were to where you are and where you are headed.

Isn't it sad that so many people are looking frantically in all directions except the one that holds the key to life. Children are indoctrinated into all kinds of religions and cults that steer them away from the one true God and the only mediator between God and man. I'll go along with you, in that, many really are ignorant of the truth and even the existence of Christ. Many simply turn a blind eye to what they see in creation that directs them to believe the intangible based upon the perfection and science of the tangible. But most of all, it is rebellion that has trapped so many from seeing the truth.

Rebellion is well funded by the ego. Millions of men and women, teens and children have heard the call from the Holy Spirit, they have felt the tug on their heart to come to Jesus and they have seen the mighty hand of God at work in this incredible creation, but they can't break away and admit that they have been duped. It is real hard to do, especially if your entire family believes something else.

Some of the major religions of the world don't allow for a person to find themselves, so to speak; they have rules about Jesus, strict rules forbidding them to even contemplate the name; they have hidden all the literature that might inspire someone to come to a knowledge of the truth and they spend countless hours making it miserable for anyone who even begins to think for themselves. 

Next time you are thinking about defending those who believe in false religions, think about what they are doing:
  • Denying God His place in their lives
  • Denying their own people the right to think freely and come to a decision on their own
  • Purposely making it difficult to even consider another way
  • Hiding literature and documents that could inspire
  • Lying about Christians and what they stand for
  • Instilling fear into the hearts of the people
  • Training their people to hate
  • Treating women with disdain
  • Plotting the destruction of others unlike themselves
  • In some cases putting them in jail or even killing them
Does that sound like something to tout about?

Christianity is the only religion with a living Savior, Jesus the Christ. Jesus is the Savior to all men and women, teens and children, of every race, every nation, every religion. Remember what Apostle John said, "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." Just because they don't receive Him doesn't mean that He has not revealed Himself and invited them.