“COME CLOSE TO GOD AND GOD WILL COME CLOSE TO YOU” JAMES 4:8 (NLT)

SunDAY-JANUARY 19
O DEVOTION
O PRAYER
O PROVERBS 19

God  is Compassionate, Gracious, Abounds in Love and Faithfulness

 

Psalm 86:15 New International Version (NIV)

 

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
    slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

 

We live in a world where anger abounds.  We see it daily on display in a variety of ways.  We see it on people’s faces.  We see it in people’s attitude.  We hear it in words people write and speak.  We see it in aggressive driving.  We see it on display on social media.  The list could go on and on about how anger is displayed in our society.

 

Many Christians write things on social media that make me cringe because of the angry words they write and language they use.  I believe that Christians should always edify Christ in words and deed.  We should be encouragers, not discouragers.  As a Christian shouldn’t we be displaying an entire different way than what is the norm for the world?  

 

Have you ever been in a check out line and watch a grumpy, complaining  person berate the cashier?  You see the countenance and body language of the cashier change almost immediately.    Have you notice the carryover effect?  The grumpy person has had an effect on the cashier and on those standing in line.  The cashier’s countenance was once bright and cheerful now is down cast.  A smile has turned into a frown.  An attitude of friendliness has turned into an attitude of detachment, hurt and anger.  Even those in line notice a change in the demeanor and attitude.  As light that God has placed in the world, we have the opportunity to display Him in our lives to others.  We have the opportunity to react in love and kindness rather than in anger.  Anger breeds anger.  Love, kindness, grace, and mercy breaks the binding chain of anger.  

 

In our verse for today, we see a number of things.  First we see that the LORD is compassionated toward us.  Shouldn’t we display the same toward one another.  Second, He is gracious.  Shouldn’t we show grace toward others.  Third, He is slow to anger. There are two types of anger.  The first is righteous anger which Jesus displayed on some occasions.  The other is what most often what we display, sinful anger.  

 

I thought about Jesus coming into the Temple and finding the money changers and turning over the tables and driving them out of the place of worship.  He stated that the Temple was to be a place of prayer and you have made it a den of thieves.  It was their use of sacred space for monetary gain.  It was their attitude toward people.  It was using the place that God had designated for worship and using it for something else.  It was sin.  

Every where I read in the Bible where God’s righteous anger is revealed it is always because of man's sin and rebellion.  Even when man sins, God's love is on display.   God calls man to Him and says that if you will repent I will restore and withhold My wrath.   Yes, there are consequences to our sin.  I bear the marks of the consequences of my sins.  But, by His strips I am healed.   

 

Even in discipline, God continues to remind us He loves us.  God has shown man the right way.  He has revealed Himself to mankind.  He has provided Jesus as the sacrifice so that we can be reconciled with Him.  Recently, I disciplined one of the grandsons.  After the discipline, I affirmed that I loved him.  Every time the LORD has to discipline me, He always affirms His love.  

 

The fourth thing that is revealed is that God is love.  John 3:16 reveals God's love for us.  I learned that verse early in my Christian walk.  It reveals God’s loving nature.  Paul wrote that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Isn’t that love on display.  

 

The final thing that I saw in the verse was God’s faithfulness.  The longer I live, the more I see God’s faithfulness revealed.  He has given me memory.  Those memories continually remind me that God was faithful.  Because He has always been faithful, I can count on Him to be always faithful.  

 

Today's hymn is  Love Lifted Me

 

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
But the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.

Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!

All my heart to Him I give, ever to Him I’ll cling
In His blessèd presence live, ever His praises sing,
Love so mighty and so true, merits my soul’s best songs,
Faithful, loving service too, to Him belongs.

Souls in danger look above, Jesus completely saves,
He will lift you by His love, out of the angry waves.
He’s the Master of the sea, billows His will obey,
He your Savior wants to be, be saved today.

“COME CLOSE TO GOD AND GOD WILL COME CLOSE TO YOU” JAMES 4:8 (NLT)

SaturDAY-JANUARY 18
O DEVOTION
O PRAYER
O PROVERBS 18

Called to be Holy Even as God is Holy

You and I have been called to be holy just as the LORD is holy.  

In 1 Peter 1.16, we read "you shall be holy, as I am holy."   Holy is the predominate attribute of God.  In Isaiah 6:3, we read about the seraphim calling out to each other Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of Host.    In Revelation 4:8 we read8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” 


When you look up the word holy in a Bible Dictionary, holy means a complete separation from all that is sinful and impure.  It is moral wholeness. God is entirely free from all moral evil and is absolutely perfect in every way. God is perfect, pure, complete in all ways.  

When you read the word holy spoken three times, then you know it is important.  We are made holy, not out of our own works, but rather through Jesus Christ.  To be holy means that we are regulated and directed by God's percepts.  In other words, we belong completely to Him.  


In Matthew 23:27-28, Jesus talked about our outward appearance and our inward appearance.  


27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.


The outward appearance is pictured as a white washed tomb.  Inside the tomb was a dead body.  One of the  meanings is to make something bad seem acceptable by hiding the truth.  The outer appearance looked like they were following and doing the work of God.  However, inwardly they were death.  Is your outward appearance a reflection of the inner self?  Jesus wants to wash you from the inside out, not just white wash the outside.  He desires that you be clean.  He desires that you be alive in Him.  


In Ephesians 5:1-2 we  read  


5 Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. 2 And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. 


When we accepted Christ, we became a new creation.  The Holy Spirit came to reside in us.  It means that He instilled in us His character and His heart and is at work in us daily to conform us into His image.  Who are you imitating?  

I reflected on what I have chosen to fill my inner self with.?  Am I imitating the One who saved me?  My old nature desires to take me into areas that seem right with man but violate God’s law and standard; while my new nature desires to be closer and closer to the LORD.  


When I  allow my inner self to be fill thoughts with things that violate God’s teaching, I am imitating the world, not God.  I find when I allow my thoughts to wonder into my old nature, I pray less frequently, less intensely, less intentionally, more formally and less conversational.  I find myself reading and studying God’s Word less because I know His Word will confronted by my arrogant rebellious sinful attitude.


When I allow my thoughts to wonder into the old nature, I find myself not at peace.  I find joy missing in my life.  I find I am anxious.  I find fear creeping into my life and eventually consuming me.  I find myself feeling alone.  I find guilt taking hold of me.  I find that I am easily frustrated.  I find that I am susceptible to being consumed with anger toward others.  The Christian life is not just words but it is a life of action lead by the Holy Spirit.  


The Christian life lead by the LORD is a consistent life in all aspects of living, inwardly and outwardly.  We often say that a hypocrite is one whose words and actions are not consistent.  I would go even further by adding thoughts.  We can harbor things in our heart that are not reflected in our outward actions or speech.  Our thoughts color our view of others and of God’s Plan for ministry through us.  I have found when my thoughts are controlled by my old nature that my worship  become obligatory rather than awe of God and love.  

As I mediated and studied the scripture, God placed several questions on my heart.   Do my thoughts reflect my trust in God?  Do my thoughts reflect my new nature that God placed in me when I was saved.  Do my thoughts reflect the leadership of the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to direct my paths?  Do my thoughts bring honor and glory to God?  Far too often I ignore the Holy Spirit and dwell on the things that are of my old nature rather than dwelling on the things of my new nature in Christ Jesus.  

Scripture tells us that our minds are deceitful.  The Holy Spirit shows us truth.  He shows us what is noble and pure.  He reveals to us what is right, lovely and honorable.  


The Holy Spirit revealed to Paul writing the Church at Philippi that a believer are to dwell on and in the LORD.  When I allow Jesus to control all of me He becomes the One I am imitating.  My thoughts turn to the things of praise; things that are true, things that are noble,  things that are pure, things that are lovely and, things that are honorable.  God tells us to put these things into action in our lives.   It is God's desire for us to be holy just as He is holy.    I want to be an imitator of God through Christ Jesus my LORD.  

Today's hymn is Holy, Holy, Holy

 

Holy, holy, holy!
Lord God Almighty
early in the morning
our song shall rise to Thee
Holy, holy, holy!
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons
Blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy
Though the darkness hide thee
Though the eye of sinful man
Thy glory may not see
Only Thou art holy,
There is none beside Thee
perfect in power, in love and purity.

Holy, holy, holy
Lord God Almighty
Oh thy works shall praise Thy name
In earth and sky and sea
Holy, holy, holy
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons
Blessed Trinity
oh God in three persons
Blessed Trinity!

“COME CLOSE TO GOD AND GOD WILL COME CLOSE TO YOU” JAMES 4:8 (NLT)

FriDAY-JANUARY 17
O DEVOTION
O PRAYER
O PROVERBS 17

Abraham Walks in Faith 

Hebrews 11:8 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going. 

We are introduced to Abram in the book of Genesis 11.  His father along with his nephew, Lot , left Ur and were headed for Canaan.  They stopped in Haran.  Abram's father dies there.  

Scripture records God's instruction to Abram in Genesis 12.1 "The Lord said to Abram:  Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you."

God calls Abram out of his comfort zone.  He tells him to leave everything behind and go to a place that is unknown to Abram.  Although they were head to Canaan when they stopped in Haran, God did not tell Abram where he was taking him.  His instruction was to get up and go and I will show you the land.  In verse 4, we read that "Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed."  

Abram trusted the LORD and followed him.  Abram believed the promises that God made.  We know from reading Genesis 11.30 that Sarai was unable to have children.  But, God promised a great nation would come out of Abram.  He believed that God would show him the land of promise.   

I have a friend whose daughter called and told her parents that God was calling her to do mission work.  She said that she was selling all that she had and moving to the Dominican Republic.  Additionally, she told her parents that she would be responsible for raising the money needed to support herself while on the mission field.  She left her job.  She sold her home and furnishings.  She sold all that she had to follow the call of the LORD.  The LORD has sustained her for a number of years because of her obedience. 

In Mark 1.16-19,  we read about Jesus calling Peter, Andrew, James and John.  Scripture records that they left everything and followed Jesus.  In verse 18, it states that they "forsook their nets and followed Him."  In verse 20, it states that James and John "left their father, Zebedee, in the ship with the hired servants, and went after Him."

Like Abram and my friend's daughter, Peter, Andrew, James and John did not know what the LORD"S plan was for them.  They only knew that the LORD called.  They responded and obeyed the voice of the LORD and followed Him.  

The Psalmist wrote Psalm 25:4-5 New International Version (NIV)

4 Show me your ways, Lord,
    teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.

Abram placed his trust in the LORD and walked in faith. Abram trusted the LORD to show him the path and to reveal and teach him the truth.  He placed his hope in the LORD.  

God changed Abram's name to Abraham.  When Abram left Haran and headed to a place the LORD would show him, his name meant exalted father.  In chapter 17, God affirms his promise that He will make a great nation out of the union of Abraham and Sarah.  He changes Abram's name to Abraham which reflects God's promise.  The name Abraham means the father of a crowd or multitude.  He changes the name of Sarai which meant my princess to Sarah which means mother of nations.  

A few days ago, I wrote about the name change that occurred in each of us who accepted Christ as our LORD and Savior.  He made us new.  Our name went from being omitted from the Book of Life to being recorded in the Book of Life. What a Savior who keeps all of His Promises.  

For those who do not know the LORD, Jesus is calling you to accept His gift of eternal life.  His invitation is open to you right now.  For those of you who have accepted His gift of eternal life, God has a plan for you and a path for you to walk with Him on.  What path is the LORD calling you to follow?  Are you willing to follow Him wherever He leads?  Is God calling you out of your comfort zone and asking you to trust Him in all aspects of your life?  We can depend upon God because He is faithful and keeps all of His promises.  

When I was growing up, one of the favorite invitation hymns was Wherever He Leads I'll Go.

1)    "Take up thy cross and follow Me,"

I heard my Master say;

"I gave My life to ransom thee,

Surrender your all today."

Wherever He leads I'll go,

Wherever He leads I'll go,

I'll follow my Christ who loves me so,

Wherever He leads I'll go.

 

(2)    He drew me closer to His side,

I sought His will to know;

And in that will I now abide,

Wherever He leads I'll go.

Wherever He leads I'll go,

Wherever He leads I'll go,

I'll follow my Christ who loves me so,

Wherever He leads I'll go.

 

(3)    It may be through the shadows dim

Or o'er the stormy sea:

I take my cross and follow Him,

Wherever He leadeth me.

Wherever He leads I'll go,

Wherever He leads I'll go,

I'll follow my Christ who loves me so,

Wherever He leads I'll go.

 

(4)    My heart, my life, my all I bring

To Christ who loves me so;

He is my Master, Lord, and King,

Wherever He leads I'll go.

Wherever He leads I'll go,

Wherever He leads I'll go,

I'll follow my Christ who loves me so,

Wherever He leads I'll go.

 

 

Have a great day loving and serving God and others.

“COME CLOSE TO GOD AND GOD WILL COME CLOSE TO YOU” JAMES 4:8 (NLT)

ThursDAY-JANUARY 16
O DEVOTION
O PRAYER
O PROVERBS 16

Psalm 103:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV)


Praise for the Lord’s Mercies

A Psalm of David.


103 Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:


When I was a senior in high school, I had an assignment to read aloud in class a dramatic piece that was filled with emotion.  We could read aloud poetry or from a play or from literature.  We were to place ourselves in the place of the writer when he wrote the piece and read it with the same feeling as the writer was experiencing when he wrote the piece.  I chose Psalm 103.  

 

As you read the Psalm, you see David's relationship with God is intimate and personal.  David begins listing the benefits of the personal and intimate relationship that he and those who follow the LORD have.  First, David states that God forgives us of our sin when we trust in Him.  Second, David remembers the number of times that he has recovered from illness.  This is a reminder that God is the Great Physician.  Our medical doctors and nurses are His instruments.  This recognizes that God is the source of all healing.  

 

 God provides redemption for all those who chose to follow   Before accepting Christ, we were on the path of destruction.  We were running head long down the path that led to eternal separation from God.  As we traveled on the road to destruction, God called out to you and me.  He called our name and invited us to travel on a different path, a path leading to eternal life.  

 

We see God's character on display.  He is in love with us.  He shows us loving kindness and tender mercies.  He makes His way known to us.  He is our sustainer in times of trials.   He is our comforter.  We see that He is slow to anger.  

 

David reminds us that God does not punish us according to our sin.  We deserve judgment and the penalty that goes with being found guilty for our rebellion.  But, for those who heed the call of the LORD to repent and to walk with Him, he removes judgment and restores us as heirs in His household.  

 

Psalm 103:12 is one of my favorite.  He states that "as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.  How far is the east from the west?  If I boarded a flight in Daytona Beach and flew to Spain, I would be traveling east.  When I arrived in Spain, I took a flight to India, I would be traveling east.  When I arrive in India, I then took a flight to Los Angels, I would still be traveling east.  The final leg of the flight from Los Angels to Orlando would be east.  Never once did I travel to the west.  When God forgives He totally and completely forgives.  

 

Our sin is totally and completely forgiven; not only forgiven but forgotten by God.  He has removed them totally.  Praise to God who forgives and removes our transgressions.

 

Take time to remember all of His benefits.  Take time to praise Him and give thanks to Him for His love and mercy.  Give praise to the One who has not only forgiven but removed our sins totally and completely.  Praise Him, O my soul!

 

Have a great day serving and loving God and others.

“COME CLOSE TO GOD AND GOD WILL COME CLOSE TO YOU” JAMES 4:8 (NLT)

WednesDAY-JANUARY 15
O DEVOTION
O PRAYER
O PROVERBS 15

Psalm 37:5 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)


5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in Him, and He will act,

 

This is my life verse.  It is a constant reminder to me to keep my focus on Jesus.  


Let's examine the words in the verse.  The word commit means that we are totally in.  It is a deliberate action taken by us under the guidance and direction of God.  The word your indicates this is personal.  Our relationship with God is personal.  He deals with each of us as individuals.  In John 10:10, Jesus said "I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance". 


The word way is the path we are walking with the LORD on each day.  In the Psalm 23, we read "He leads me in the paths of righteous for His Namesake."  A few years ago, a group from First Baptist went to Israel.  One afternoon our bus came to a complete stop as a shepherd was leading his sheep along a path adjacent to the highway.  The sign on the side of the road said sheep crossing.  We could see that the shepherd was leading his sheep along a specific path that required him to cross the highway.  The shepherd made sure that the traffic stopped before he led his flock across the highway.  He made sure that all the sheep were safe.  We can depend upon Him to lead us on the right path and bring us safely home.  


LORD means our God is our Sovereign.  He is our Creator.  He is our Savior.  We are to serve no other but Him.  Trust means that we are totally and completely reliant on God.   The word act means that God will act in our best interest in accordance to His Will.   Throughout the Bible, you see God acting on behalf of His people.  He is our shelter.  He is our fortress.  He is our Savior.  


It is my prayer that you will commit your self to the LORD; trust Him in all aspects of your life; and be totally and completely reliant upon Him to act on your behalf.  


Have a great day serving and loving God and others.

“COME CLOSE TO GOD AND GOD WILL COME CLOSE TO YOU” JAMES 4:8 (NLT)

TuesDAY-JANUARY 14
O DEVOTION
O PRAYER
O PROVERBS 14

Psalm 100 King James Version (KJV)


100 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

2 Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

 

Do you recall when you first learned Psalm 100?  It was one of the earliest scripture that I memorized.  I memorized it at age 5 during Vacation Bible School.  


David is excited about worship and serving.  There is no doubt about the joy that permeates his heart.  In verse 1, you see him instructing people to shout happily to the LORD.  When we step into the very presence of the LORD, our soul leaps with joy.  Do you remember in Matthew when Mary comes to visit Elizabeth?  Scripture states that John leaped inside Elizabeth because they were in the very presence of the Holy God Incarnated.  


The other day, I overheard a conversation about coming across the bridge and seeing the buildings and the cross.  The person who was speaking said they hoped they never lost the excitement they feel as they approach the church each week.  That is exactly what David is saying.  He says I am excited about what the LORD has done, is doing and will do.  May I never stop rejoicing and making a joyful noise unto the LORD.  Let the entire earth hear my happiness.  Does the world know that you are happy about what the LORD is doing?  


Recently, I was walking.  Unconsciously, I began singing.  Soon I became aware that I was singing praises unto the LORD.  No, I was not singing at the top of my lungs.  I was singing softly but loud enough for people when they passed me they would hear my singing.  My soul was happy and was singing praises unto the LORD.  


In verse 2, we are instructed to serve the LORD cheerfully.  What a privilege it is to serve the LORD with a glad heart.  We are called by His name.  We are His children.  Because of His love for us and our love for Him, we can serve Him with gladness and with joy.  We serve Him out of love, not out of obligation. Isn't it great that we are called to serve the Living God?  Isn't wonderful that He uses us to achieve His purpose?  We get to come into the very throne room and approach Him with our petitions without worry that we will be rejected.  We know that He hears our voice.   


We are God’s creation.  There is only one God.  We, who are His, are under His care.  We are pictured as being sheep in His pasture under the Chief Shepherd’s care.  The Shepherd will do everything to protect and provide for His sheep.  He knows each sheep by name.  He knows the uniqueness of each of His sheep.  


In verse 4, we are entering His gates singing praises to the King of Kings and LORD of LORDS.  We have been invited into the presence of the LORD.  We are not in the outer courts but inside in His court.  The picture is that we are in His presence engaged in worship.  We can never thank Him enough for what He has done for us.   There is a lot of singing in Heaven. 

You and I have privilege to sing praises to Him now.  Where I stand on Sunday morning, I see a lot of people just standing and not participating in the singing praises.  The singing is not a preclude to the worship service.  Just as giving is not a prelude to the worship service.  Both are an integral part of the worship service.  You might say I don’t have a good singing voice.  My response is that God gave you that voice to be used to praise Him.   One of the ways the Bible says that we praise God is in song.  God loves hearing His children sing His praises and not just stand in silence.


God’s mercy endures and His faithfulness is forever.  We can see both of these in our own history.  If God was merciful and faithful in the past, we can count on Him to be merciful and faithful now and forever.  He is always merciful and always faithful.


As I was writing this devotion, I sang a hymn of praise unto the LORD.  I would like to share with you that hymn.

 O Worship the King.  


1. O worship the King, 
all glorious above, 
And gratefully sing 
His power and His love; 
Our Shield and Defender, 
the Ancient of Days, 
Pavilioned in splendor, 
and girded with praise.


2. O tell of His might, 
O sing of His grace, 
Whose robe is the light, 
Whose canopy space, 
Whose chariots of wrath 
the deep thunderclouds form, 
And dark is His path 
on the wings of the storm.


3. Thy bountiful care, 
what tongue can recite? 
It breathes in the air, 
it shines in the light; 
It streams from the hills, 
it descends to the plain, 
And sweetly distills 
in the dew and the rain.


4. Frail children of dust, 
and feeble as frail, 
In Thee do we trust, 
nor find Thee to fail; 
Thy mercies how tender, 
how firm to the end, 
Our Maker, Defender, 
Redeemer, and Friend.


Have a great day loving and serving our LORD and Savior and others.

 

“COME CLOSE TO GOD AND GOD WILL COME CLOSE TO YOU” JAMES 4:8 (NLT)

MonDAY-JANUARY 13
O DEVOTION
O PRAYER
O PROVERBS 13

You are Commissioned in the LORD'S Army

 

It was a beautiful spring day.  There were two ceremonies that I was required to attend that day.  The first was the Army commissioning ceremony and the second was college graduation.  There were 45 men in my class who had completed all the ROTC requirements to be commissioned as Officers in the United States Army.  We stood in front of the auditorium that morning and raised our right hand and voluntarily took an oath.  My wife pinned my Officer's bars on my uniform.  The Professor of Military Science welcomed us as Commissioned Officers into the United States Army.

 

I remember going into the classroom at the Infantry Officer's Basic Course.  The instructor stated in our first class the following "in a few weeks the Army will entrust to you the lives and aspirations of 44 men because you are their leader."  He went on to further explain what that meant and why it was important.  You and I have been entrusted with the life changing message of salvation that changes people's aspirations and their lives.   

 

The verse for today is Matthew 28:19-20.  

Matthew 28:19-20 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)


19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


Jesus is leaving them to return to heaven.  He is commissioning them to make disciples.  He tells them in Mark 16:15 "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."  In Acts 1:8, Christ said "but, you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."  Jesus entrusted to His disciples with the responsibility of spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth.  He entrusted them to deliver the message of salvation.  


He entrusted them to teach each generation.  What should they teach?  Teach what you have observed and what I have commanded you.  Many in the group that He was addressing had spent 3.5 years with Him.  They had seen the blind receive sight.  They had experienced the calming of the waters.  They had seen fish and loaves feed 5,000 and 4,000.  They had seen lepers healed.  They had seen people's lives restored.  They had placed their hand in the hand of the LORD and felt the nail scars.  They had placed their hand in the side of the risen LORD and felt the pierced side.  Jesus was now commissioning them to continue the work.  


Christ told His disciples "as you are going make disciples".  Making disciples is something that we do.  I like this way of saying it.  Since you are going, make disciples along the way.  Share the good news with those who you come in contact with as you go.  


Where has God placed you so that you are His witness?  I don't think it is happenstance that you and I are where we are.  God has a purpose for us being where we are.  I use this example in my Bible Study class.  In the United States about 65% of Americans identify themselves as Christians.  That does not mean they are.  It simply means that they identify themselves that way.  For purpose of this illustration, let's assume that figure to be correct.  That means in the United States that over 110 million people are lost and are hell bound.  Let's draw it closer to home.  There are about 21 million people who call Florida home.  That means that at least 7 million need Jesus.  Let' come even closer to home.  We are approaching 600,000 people who call Volusia County home.  That means more than 200,000 people are without Christ.  Let's bring it into your city.  That means that there are more than 20,000 people in the city that need Christ.  Lets bring it down to the block on which I live.  That means that there are approximately 17 on the block that I live in that are lost.  Did Christ place you on your block to witness to the people who live there?  Christ commissioned you and me to be disciples in our neighborhood.  


I used this example a few weeks ago.  We talk about reaching the world for Christ.  It begins with one.  There are approximately 1.4 billion people who state that they are Christian.  If that 1.4 billion would witness to just one and that one accepted Christ as their personal LORD and Savior then the number would increase to 2.8 billion.  If the 1.4 billion that were discipled and they witnessed to another person, then the number of Christians would expand to 4.2 billion.  If that 1.4 billion would witness to just one person, then the number would expand to 5.6 billion.  It that group would witness to just one person, the number would reach 7.0 billion.  It has been said that each of us are within 7 people of touching every single person on the planet.  This little exercise shows how just one could touch the entire world.  Our Pastor has asked each of us the question "who is your one?"  


The song today is children's song entitled I'm in the LORD'S Army


I may never march in the infantry
Ride in the cavalry
Shoot the artillery
I may never shoot for the enemy
But I'm in the Lord's army!
I'm in the Lord's army!
I'm in the Lord's army!
I may never march in the infantry
Ride in the cavalry
Shoot the artillery
I may never shoot for the enemy
But I'm in the Lord's army!


As you are going about your daily activities and making contact each day with people, show them the love of Jesus.  You are commissioned by Christ to be His witness.  To our LORD and to us every soul matters.


Have a great day serving and loving our LORD and Savior and others.

“COME CLOSE TO GOD AND GOD WILL COME CLOSE TO YOU” JAMES 4:8 (NLT)

SunDAY-JANUARY 12
O DEVOTION
O PRAYER
O PROVERBS 12

Galatians 2:20 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)


20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  


What do you think about when you hear the words the Holy Spirit indwells us?  Too often we say the words but do not have a clear understanding of what it means to have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us.  In Matthew 14:22-33. we read about  Jesus sending the disciples to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  He went up to the mountain to be alone with the Father.  Scripture states that the boat was tossed about by the waves and the wind was contrary.  


As Jesus approached, the disciples were overcome by fear.  In one of the translations that I read, it states that the disciples were screaming because they thought He was a ghost.  When Jesus spoke to them, the fear that existed in them was changed to confidence and calmness because of His presence.  His indwelling is the source of peace just like it is the source of joy.  

Before I was saved, my life was filled with fear.  Fear extinguished joy and peace.  Although I was a very young boy when I accepted Christ as my personal LORD and Savior, I knew that the life I was living was not the one I wanted to live.  I realized that I was captured in a life where fear would be constantly with me.  


Fear creates uncertainty.  Fear paralyzes.  Satan uses fear to destroy peace.  In the Bible, God tells us to fear not in some form 365 times.  Think about it, that is one fear not for each day of the year.  Therefore, it must be something that our LORD wants us to do if He provides it in the Bible that many times.  


Because of the life that He gave us, I no longer have to fear because I know He is with me and will not forsake me.  Jesus does not promise to remove us out from the midst of life's storms.  Because He is in us and we are in Him, we are anchored firmly in the bedrock person of Jesus, the unchanging, all powerful Savior.  As the storms of life hit us, as they will, we can rest assured that our LORD and Savior is present with us saying fear not because you belong to Me. Jesus is the calming force in the midst of the storm.  David wrote in the 23rd Psalm “yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, You are with me.”  The Psalmist understood that God was with him wherever he walked and therefore he could walk with confidence.  That is a peace that the world does not recognize.  


The last portion of Galatians 2:20 is a word of assurance.  He loved us so much that He took on the punishment for our sin.  Because of Him, I am set free from condemnation.  As the Spiritual says “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last.” Knowing that I am free from condemnation makes all the difference in the world and allows me to have peace.  


Wherever we go, the Spirit goes with us.  He is there constantly guiding us along the path of righteousness.  He is there constantly convicting us and leading us to repent of our sins.  He is there comforting and assuring us in the midst of life's storms.  He is there providing us with confidence to endure and carry on.  He is there providing us with power that goes beyond our own understanding.  He is our power source.  We are totally and completely dependent upon Him.  Jesus makes all the difference in the world.  He changes our outlook as well as our direction.  He is my Savior and King.  He reigns forever and ever.  His rule has no end.  That is why I have confidence in Him.  What a powerful God we serve.  He changes our life from what it was to what it is in Him.  

 

Today’s song is Because He Lives


God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

And then one day, I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives!

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

 

Have a great day serving on loving our LORD and Savior and others.

“COME CLOSE TO GOD AND GOD WILL COME CLOSE TO YOU” JAMES 4:8 (NLT)

SaturDAY-JANUARY 11
O DEVOTION
O PRAYER
O PROVERBS 11

Galatians 4:6 English Standard Version (ESV)


6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

There are several things in this small verse of scripture that standout.  First, when you and I were saved, a status change occurred in our lives.  We changed from being the enemies of God to being His son.  He gave us a new name.  We became a new creation.  Our name went from being omitted in the Lambs Book of Life to be printed in boldface type in the Book of Life.  We were adopted into the Father’s family, not just adopted but with full family rights.  We became sons and daughters of the Most High.  What a privilege to be in the Father’s family.  

Prior to our salvation, our name was not in the Book of Life.  Prior to our salvation, we were relying on self.  Bible states that there are books that will be opened on judgment day.  Those books show people's actions, words, thoughts, deeds, motivations.  In Revelation 20:12, John wrote

12 I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books.

God verifies before judgment that the individual standing before Him is not in the Book of Life.  Why verification?  This to show that justice is fair and is based upon man's own action.  This is  judgment is for those who have rejected Christ and God's gift of salvation.  Those of us found in the Book of Life will not be judged in the same manner as those who are without Christ.  Those who rejected God's gift of salvation will not be judged by grace or mercy.  They have rejected both.  They will be judged by God's perfect standard.  Their works are meaningless in comparison.  


In 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are called as Ambassadors for Christ.  God has appointed His family members to be His personal representatives here on earth.  An Ambassador represents his home country in another country.  The Ambassador is the official spokesperson for the United States in those countries.  He delivers messages to the heads of state in those countries from the United States.  Think about it, God has entrusted His Word to each of us to be delivered to the world in which we live.  Our permanent address is heaven.  The earth is our temporary home.  We are just on assignment here.  One day, we will all be called home.  Until that day, we are called to present God’s message here on earth.  


I like to say that you and I are in the family business.  I believe that God has a purpose for each of us in Volusia County.  I believe that God has placed those who are called by His Name here for such a time as this.  What is He calling you to do here?  Don’t forget that His children are His representatives.  Jesus said that He must be about His Father’s business.  That same applies to you and I.  

The second thing I see in this verse is that God has sent His Spirit into our heart.  When you and I were saved, the Holy Spirit began a work in each of us.  That work will not be completed until we are standing in the very presence of Jesus.  Paul wrote the following words to the Church at Philippi 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)


 He that dwells in each of us is more powerful than he who dwells in this world.  So often, we allow the one who dwells in this world to intimidate us rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to remove the fear and intimidation from us.  He said that He is greater than the he that is in the world.  But, do we trust He that is greater to overcome the powers of this world?  The Holy Spirit transforms us from what we were to what we are and what we will become.  LORD, may I be obedient to Your Spirit who has begun a good work in me.  

The final thing I see in this verse is Abba, Father.  Those of you who have done a word study will recall that Abba is the most personal name used by a child to address their father.  Growing up in the south, the most personal name for my father was Daddy.  When I called out that personal name to my father, it expressed my respect and love for him.   When I called out his name, I knew he would respond.  I knew that he would listen.  I knew he would respond to my request if at all possible.  If I called on the phone and need him, he would come.  


As I read this scripture, I thought about the access you and I have to the Creator of the Universe, the Sovereign God, our Heavenly Father.  When we were saved, Jesus brought me into the throne room and introduced us to the Father.  I was to address the Sovereign God in the most imitate way, Abba, Father.  Only God’s children can address Him using this personal name.  Only God’s children have access to the very throne room.  Our Heavenly Father is never too busy for His children.  


Our Heavenly Father loves to hear our voices.  He loves to have conversation with us.  Conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.  So often, we do all the talking and fail to hear the still small voice of the Almighty God speak.  There is something about being still and quiet that allows us to know and hear our LORD better.  Our Heavenly Father is always present.  Our Father loves us beyond measure.     Our LORD promises to meet our needs.  The Father answers our prayers.  He provides guidance and direction to His children.  He loves us so much that He disciplines us.  Our God  loves us so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross so that we could have eternal everlasting life.  Scripture says that He demonstrated His love  for us  that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.    


Today's hymn is the second verse of the hymn In the Garden.


Verse 2
He speaks and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing; 
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

 

And he walks with me
And He talks with me, 
And He tells me I am his own; 
And the joy we share as we tarry there, 
None other has ever known. 

 

It is my prayer that each of you spend time with Him and listen to Him speak and direct your way.  

Have a great day loving and serving our LORD and Savior and others.  

“COME CLOSE TO GOD AND GOD WILL COME CLOSE TO YOU” JAMES 4:8 (NLT)

Friday-JANUARY 10
O DEVOTION
O PRAYER
O PROVERBS 10

James 1:17 New International Version (NIV)

 

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.


I was reminded about the provision of the Father.  I was reminded about His blessings, His grace, and His mercy.  I was reminded about His daily provision.   I was reminded that that He created everything and when He saw His creation it was good.  I thought about the faithfulness of our LORD.  I thought about His unchanging nature.  Because He never changes, He provides assurance and stability that we desire.  I thought about that our Father is never asleep nor does He abandon His children.  He is always present.  


I thought about the complete illumination that God provides which lights our path.  God lights our path with complete and true light.  In Psalm 119.105, the Psalmist writes "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path."


I thought about the shadows that are created by the sun and other forms of light.  They cast darken spots on the ground.  Psalm 91.1 says "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the All Mighty.  


Then I thought about the perfect light of our Heavenly Father.  Scripture states "Jesus is Light.  What I have observed is that God’s light allows us to see clearly while walking in His shadow.   His shadow illuminates us while the shadows of this world darken.  It is when we walk off His path that His shadow is replaced with the darken shadows of this world.  


Do you remember when Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God?  They went from being in His perfect light to fleeing from Him and hiding in the shadows.  Isn’t that what we do?  When we sin, we move from walking in His light and shadow to walking in the shadow caused by sin. 


We attempt to hid from Him because we like David realize that we have sinned against Him.  We attempt to cover up sin through various ways. For the believer, God does not allow us to escape.  Like David, God confronts us.  His light is present and calls us back to Him.  He never forgets His own nor does He allow His own to live in comfort in our sin.  The Holy Spirit continually calls us back to the Father and reminds us that we are called to walk in the light of the Most High and not hid in sin’s shadows.  

 

Let me encourage you to walk in light of the Father and not in the darken shadows of the world.  

 

When I was a youth, I learned a song Heavenly Sunlight.  Today's hymn is Heavenly Sunlight.

 

Walking in sunlight all of my journey,

Over the mountains, through the deep vale;

Jesus has said, I’ll never forsake thee—

Promise divine that never can fail.

 

Refrain:

Heavenly sunlight! Heavenly sunlight!

Flooding my soul with glory divine;

Hallelujah! I am rejoicing,

Singing His praises, Jesus is mine!


Shadows around me, shadows above me

Never conceal my Savior and Guide;

He is the light, in Him is no darkness,

Ever I’m walking close to His side.



In the bright sunlight, ever rejoicing,

Pressing my way to mansions above;

Singing His praises, gladly I’m walking,

Walking in sunlight, sunlight of love.


 

Have a great days serving and loving our LORD and Savior and others.

 

“Come Close to God and God will come close to you” James 4:8 (NLT)

Thursday-January 9 
oDevotion
oPrayer
oProverbs 9

 

Allow God to Guard Your Mind


1 Peter 2:11-12 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)


11 Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. 12 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation.

Recently, I wrote about changes that I made to my diet to make it healthier.  This past Sunday, our Bible Study group went to lunch at Outback.  They had a promotion meal being offered that included soup, salad, entree with vegetable or potato, and cheese cake for dessert.  Also, they had unlimited bread and butter.  I love their baked potato soup with bread covered with butter.  No steak meal is complete without a loaded baked potato, butter, sour cream and cheese.  Dessert was cheese cake with the choice of toppings.  I refrained from ordering the special and ordered salad ( no croutons) with grill chicken with the salad dressing on the side.  From my previous experience with diets, I know if I said to myself just this one time then it becomes easier to justify the next time and the next time until finally I have returned to my old habits.  


Today, we will examine the battle for our minds.  Just like I wrote about the changes that I made in my food diet, what are the changes that I need to make to my mind's diet that I am ingesting daily?  The brain needs more than nourishment  gained from eating healthy foods.  The mind needs spiritual nourishment as well.  

What are we examining how to grow our minds spiritually?  In Philippians 2, scripture tells us that we are to have a mind like Christ.

Philippians 2:5-7 New King James Version (NKJV)

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 

In Proverbs 4:20-24, we read

Proverbs 4:20-24 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

20 My child, listen carefully
    to everything I say.
21     Don’t forget a single word,
    but think about it all.
22 Knowing these teachings
    will mean true life
    and good health for you.
23 Carefully guard your thoughts
    because they are the source
    of true life.
24 Never tell lies or be deceitful
    in what you say.


In verse 23, God reminds us to careful to guard your thoughts.  Be careful to what you are storing in your brain.   

Every day, Satan throws stuff at you and me.  He piles it on.  Satan knows that sin originates in our senses.  He knows that it starts and matures with a thought.  One of his greatest weapons is to make us dull our minds to sin.  Satan presents sin in its glamour, never in its destructive nature.  Initially the images of sin may shock us.  But Satan continues to show us the beautiful images and changes them to be more and more acceptable.  That is why it is extremely important to guard our thoughts and guard what we allow to come into our minds.  Sin is never acceptable to God.  


Ask God the following questions when thoughts enter your mind:

1.         Are these thoughts evil or righteous thoughts?

2.         Are these thoughts glorifying God?

3.         Are these thoughts completely true?  Lies are always a lie.  Half-truths are always a lie.  


How can I guard my mind?  

1.         Study and mediate on God's Word.

2.         Pray without ceasing.  When unrighteous thoughts begin to take root in our minds, pray for forgiveness and ask God to cleanse us and remove those thoughts.  When Satan brings them back up, as he will, allow God to place in our minds that He has forgiven us from all unrighteousness. 


3.         Live our lives with the mind of Christ.  That means that we are to focus on growing spiritually, not in the ways of the world.

4.         Ask God to be the guardians of our minds.  When I try to be the guardian of my mind, the enemy finds the weak point to enter and attack from within.  When I turn the guardianship to the LORD, He strengthens the defense and is always on guard. 

5.         Don't forget to put on the helmet each and every day.  Keep it securely fastened.  

The Apostle Paul writing to the Philippians wrote

Philippians 4:8 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. 

Are you allowing God to guard your thoughts?  Begin today and it will change your outlook for the day.


Have a great day loving and serving our LORD and Savior and others. 

“Come Close to God and God will come close to you” James 4:8 (NLT)

Wednesday-January 8 
oDevotion
oPrayer
oProverbs 8 


1 Peter 2:9-12 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people for His possession,

so that you may proclaim the praises
of the One who called you out of darkness
into His marvelous light.
10 Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.

This past year, I have been watching the types of food that I am eating.  I tried to eat healthier, more lean meat and fish, fruits and vegetables and less fatty food.  That meant limiting and eliminating many of the items from my diet that I grew up loving to eating such as biscuits and gravy, chicken fried steak, fried catfish and hush puppies to name just a few.   It meant changing my lifestyle.  The result is that I am healthier, have more energy, and have lost weight.  


Peter was writing this letter to teach Christians to live victorious in the midst of a hostile environment.  We are constantly exposed to world system whose aim is to destroy the creditability of the Church and individual believers.  The world system desires for the Church to embrace its values.  When the Church doesn't, then the world system tries to discredit the Church and subject it to ridicule.    


Dr. Scott Pace was the teaching Pastor at First Daytona Beach for a number of years.  Dr. Pace would do a lesson review for teachers on Wednesday night.  He would tell us: "You can tell people what you believe; but, your actions show people what you believe."   It is important that our actions and words match.  


The Apostle reminded the Church that we are called to be different.  The Church is chosen to be different than what people see in the world system.  It is the chosen vehicle through which Christ is revealed to the world.  You and I are chosen to deliver the Gospel message, the message of hope and salvation.  There is no other hope but Jesus.  We are chosen to demonstrate Christ's love for  people.  We are chosen to live out our life daily walking with the LORD.  We are chosen to be different in our lifestyle.  We are chosen to represent Christ whenever and wherever we are.  Jesus said: "You are my witnesses in Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth."  

In Exodus 19:6, we read: "And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priest and a holy nation."  We are ordained by God into the priesthood.  We are under the Great High Priest, Jesus.  He is our leader.  He is our example.  We  have the privilege of serving the King of Kings and LORD of LORD"S.  


Israel was called to be a holy nation.  As believers we are part of a holy nation.  We have the privilege of being the unique people of God.  As his unique people, we have been given the privilege to represent Him and to tell others about His greatness.  


Peter reminds us that we were once in darkness and didn't know God.  We heard and responded to the call from God and were ushered into His light and are called by His Name.  He goes on to remind people that when they were lost they had not received mercy.  When we received Jesus we received mercy from the Father and became His.   


As I was writing this, a hymn kept coming to mind, All Hail the Power of Jesus Name.  Read the words and sing it as a Doxology to our LORD and Savior. 


1. All hail the power of Jesus' name! 
Let angels prostrate fall; 
Bring forth the royal diadem, 
And crown Him Lord of all. 
Bring forth the royal diadem, 
And crown Him Lord of all. 

2. Ye chosen seed of Israel's race, 
Ye ransomed from the fall, 
Hail Him Who saves you by His grace, 
And crown Him Lord of all. 
Hail Him Who saves you by His grace, 
And crown Him Lord of all. 

3. Let every kindred, every tribe
On this terrestrial ball
To Him all majesty ascribe, 
And crown Him Lord of all. 
To Him all majesty ascribe, 
And crown Him Lord of all. 

4. O that with yonder sacred throng
We at His feet may fall
We'll join the everlasting song, 
And crown Him Lord of all. 
We'll join the everlasting song, 
And crown Him Lord of all.


Have a great day loving and serving our LORD and Savior and others.

“Come Close to God and God will come close to you” James 4:8 (NLT)

Tuesday-January 7 
oDevotion
oPrayer
oProverbs 7 

Hebrews 11:7 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

7 By faith Noah, after he was warned about what was not yet seen and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family. By faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

What is faith?  So often, we read a word and assume that we know the definition.  Faith means "belief, firm persuasion, assurance, firm conviction, faithfulness." Faith is confidence in what we hope for and the assurance that the Lord is working, even though we cannot see it. Faith knows that no matter what the situation in our lives or someone else life, that God is at work.


Faith is an action verb.  Faith is the act whereby a person lays hold of God's resources, becomes obedient to what He has prescribed and puts aside all self interest and self-reliance and places their trusts in Jesus completely. It is an unqualified surrender of the whole of one's being and recognizes that we are totally and completely dependent upon Him. It is wholly trusting and relying upon Him for all things. It is more than just intellectually knowing about Jesus.  Faith is personally accepting Jesus as LORD and Savior.    


In Genesis 6:8-9, we read: "But, Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD... Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations.  Noah walked with God."

Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.  Noah was not spared because of his good works.  Noah was spared because he believed in God and trusted Him for his salvation.  We see in these verses that Noah sought a personal relationship with God.  Scripture states that he walked with God.  This is an intentional, determined, consistent and constant walk with God.  Noah sought God.  Noah lived his life in accordance to God's direction.  This set him apart from the rest of society.  


There are two men in Genesis where the writer states that they walked with God.  The first was Enoch and the second is Noah.  This was his lifestyle.  He pursued God's righteous standards.  Was he perfect the answer is no. But, the desire of his heart was to walk with God and to be faithful in all aspects of his life.  He set his face toward God.  

In Genesis 6:14, we read the following words "Make yourself an ark."  God provided a way for Noah to escape judgment.  He provide salvation to Noah and all who would enter the Ark with Noah.  In verse 22, we read these words: "Noah did according to all that God commanded him, so he did."  


Throughout construction of the Ark, the door was open and salvation was available to all.  But, when it came time to enter the Ark, only eight people went in.  Only eight were saved from the judgment of the flood.  Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives were the only ones who believed God and went inside.  


Noah was not an only child.  Scripture records that Lamech, Noah's father, had other sons and daughters.  Lamech was not an only child.  It is recorded that his father, Methuselah had other sons and daughters.  Just a side note, Noah's father died just four years before the flood.  Also, Noah's grandfather, Methuselah died in the same year as the flood.  


I thought about all the relatives that Noah witnessed to over the years.  None of them accepted God's invitation to salvation.  I imagine that his siblings and his extended family thought Noah was some kind of religious fanatic.  He was telling them that it was going to rain.  He was telling them that it was going to flood.  He was telling them that if they did not repent they would perish in the flood.  You have to remember that they had never experienced rain nor had they experienced a flood before.  They most likely passed it off as our crazy relative, Noah. Noah was faithful even in the face of ridicule and the rejection of his warning.     


Brother Bobby Welch used to say that we were to keep keeping on.  That is exactly what Noah did.  He kept working until the LORD told him to enter the Ark. 

Is it your heart desire to walk closer and closer each day with the LORD?  Are you laying hold of God's resources and putting aside all self interest and self reliance and trusting in Jesus completely?  Are you completely surrendered to the LORD in all aspects of your life?  Are you trusting in Him for all things?  Make 2020 the year that you become completely sold out to the LORD.  


Have a great day loving and serving the LORD and others.

“Come Close to God and God will come close to you” James 4:8 (NLT)

Monday-January 6

oDevotion
oPrayer
oProverbs 6 

Daniel 6:10  Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)


10 When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upper room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 


Daniel is an excellent example of a man who trusted God and would not compromise his values or his commitment to the LORD.  Daniel is an excellent example of being consistent in his prayer life regardless of the situation or circumstance.  Daniel is an excellent example of a man who did not hide his total commitment to the LORD.  He lived out his faith daily.  


There are several things revealed in Daniel 6:10 concerning prayer.  First, Daniel had a time that he prayed each day.  Notice it says that Daniel prayed three times a day.  Second, Daniel had a place where he prayed.  Notice that it was in the upper room.  Third, Daniel had a prayer posture.  Scripture states that he knelt.  Finally, Daniel offered thanks to God.  Giving thanks is worship.  

 

In Daniel 5, we read about the fall of the Babylonian Empire to the Medes and Persians.  Darius is made King of the entire empire.  In the Chapter 6, we see Darius organizing the empire into regions.  He appoints three governors and 120 satraps.  The satraps were regional administrators who reported to one of the three governors.  

 

Daniel was appointed as one of the three governors.  In Daniel 6:3, we read these words: "then Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because of his excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm."    The other two governors and the 120 satraps were jealous of Daniel.  I think there were several reasons that they were jealous beginning with the fact that Daniel had gained favor with the King above all the rest of them.  Second, Daniel was not a Mede or Persian.  He was a hold over from the Babylonian period.  The Medes and Persians had defeated the Babylonians.  They did not like having one who had served the Babylonians as a ruler, not just a ruler but the one who the king liked best.  Third, Daniel was Jewish.  You will see it later in chapter 6 when they state that he is one of the captives.  

 

The governors and satraps set out to bring Daniel down.  They examined his conduct.  They examined his morality.  They attempted to find fault in him.  Scripture states that they found "no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was any error or fault found in him."    They determined that the only way to bring Daniel down was concerning the law of his God.  

 

These men play on the King's pride.  They come to him with a plan.  They represented to the King that all of the governors and administrators are in agreement and ask Darius to establish a "royal statute and make it a firm decree that whosoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O King shall be cast into the den of lions."  This is a lie.  Notice who is not present when they make this statement, Daniel.  Darius should have noticed that Daniel was not present.  Darius before he signed the decree did not check to see if Daniel was in agreement.  The group was elevating Darius to god status.  They were placing him above all other gods for this thirty day period.  For a king to be told that he was god like swelled his ego.  Satan is good at disguising the real intent.  

 

In verse 10, we see that Daniel does not change his schedule.  He prays three times each day, morning, noon and evening.  Daniel understood the consequence of his violating the King's decree.  He was faithful to higher King who deserved all honor and glory.  He did not change his place of prayer.  He went to the upper room and opened the window as was his custom and prayed.  Third, he did not alter his posture.  He knelt before the LORD.  Finally, he did not alter his prayer.  He gave thanks unto the LORD. Daniel knew he would be discovered and knew that he faced death.  Yet, he remained faithful to God.  He trusted God with everything, position, prestige, and his life.  

 

Daniel could have avoided the sentence by simply modifying his routine.  He could have changed the time.  He could have changed the place.  He could have changed the position.  He could have kept the window closed.  But, Daniel did none of these things.  He wanted to be faithful to the LORD just as the LORD had been faithful to him.  

 

The men were waiting and watching.  They were aware of Daniel routine.  They charged Daniel with violating the law of the Medes and Persians.  Scripture states that Darius was displeased with himself.   He attempted to find a way to save Daniel.  But, there was no way to save him from the sentence.  I love the statement that Darius makes just prior to Daniel being placed in the lion's den.  "Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you."  Darius recognized that Daniel served God.  He recognized that God could intervene and save Daniel.  God is the source of all salvation.  

 

I remember being 8 or 9 going into a Sunday School classroom.  There on the wall was a poster showing a young man in the midst of a group of lions.  The lions were laying on the ground not paying any attention to the man in their midst.  At the top of the picture was a man looking through a hole in the roof.  There was light shining down on the man in the midst of the lions.  Morning had arrived and Daniel was safe.  Daniel explains that the LORD had sent his angel to close the mouths of the lions. Daniel states that the LORD had found him innocent and not worthy of death.  

 

Pilate made that same determination of Jesus.  Nevertheless, Pilate agreed to put Jesus to death in order to satisfy the crowd.  

 

The picture of the young man in the midst of the lions has stuck in my mind for years.  The only thing wrong with the picture is that Daniel was not a young man when this event occurs.  In fact, Daniel was in his 80's.  Daniel had been praying and worshipping God throughout his life.  He did not allow circumstances to change him.  He followed the LORD's instruction and believed in God. 

 

Do you have a time on your calendar set aside to be with God?  Our calendars reveal what is truly important in our lives.  There are certain things we place on our calendars that are fixed and can not be changed.  Is your time with the LORD one of the fixed items that you schedule around?  Second, do you have a place where you go to pray, study, read, mediate on the Word of God and listen to the LORD to speak?  Do you enter that place expecting to encounter the Living God?  Do you have a posture of worship when you are alone with God?  Let me encourage you to schedule time to be alone with God.  Let me encourage you to set a place to be alone with God.  Let me encourage you to establish a posture of worship of God.  

 

Have a great day loving and serving our LORD and Savior and others.

“COME CLOSE TO GOD AND GOD WILL COME CLOSE TO YOU” JAMES 4:8 (NLT)

Sunday-JANUARY 5

ODEVOTION
OPRAYER
OPROVERBS 5


Ephesians 6:10-18 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Christian Warefare

10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore,

with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace.16 In every situation take the shield of faith,
and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.

18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.


Today's Verse for the Day comes from Ephesians 6:10-18.  This is a very familiar passage.  Paul writes that we are engaged in a spiritual war. In fact, the word that he uses is that we are engaged in close hand to hand combat.  We can count on Satan using all forms of trickery and deception to gain an advantage.

 

He states that we are not engage against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers against rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual host of wickedness in heavenly places.  That is why in verse 10, Paul tells us to be strong in the LORD and in the power of His might.  Paul knows that only in Christ are we able to stand strong against the enemy.

 

The Apostle Paul is under house arrest in Rome.  A Roman soldier is chained to him.  As he is writing to the Church at Ephesus, he examines closely the uniform the soldier is wearing.  The soldier that is assigned to Paul most likely was from the elite troops assigned to guard Caesar.  These soldiers were always prepared to defend Caesar and the Empire.  They always had their equipment with them and in excellent condition.    Each piece is designed to give the soldier the maximum protection when facing the enemy.  Paul instructs us to put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.   God specifically designed this armor not only survive the battlefield but to be victorious on the battlefield.  

 

Paul probably watched as the soldier carefully and thoroughly maintained each piece of his equipment.  The soldier knew that his life depended upon the armor.  He examined it daily and made repairs so that it was always in tip top condition.  He made sure that it fit perfectly so that each piece protected the vital parts of the body.  

 

He examined the shield to be sure that it was treated so that when the flaming arrows were shot at the advancing troops the flames would be extinguished.  By the way, the shield was a full body shield that the soldier could get behind.  Also, when the Roman Legion was advancing, the front rank would place their shields in front of them and they would get behind the shield.  Each rank behind the front rank would place the shields over their heads creating a total shield from the flaming darts being fired by the enemy.  Trusting in God is absolutely necessary to protect us from the enemy.  I envision Christ as my shield and my defender.  It is He that is in front of me.  It is He that extinguishes the fiery darts.  

 

Paul watched as the soldier would check the breastplate.  The breastplate covered the vital body organs.  We are to put on the breastplate of righteousness.  Righteousness and holiness are characteristics of God.   When we fail to put on the breastplate each day, we become vulnerable to the enemy's attack.  

 

The utility belt was used to contain the tunic when the soldier was in close quarter combat with the enemy.  The belt is described as truth.  John Macarthur states the belt of truth ties up all the spiritual loose ends.  We are to guard against hypocrisy.  I thought about just one loose end provides the enemy with an opening to attack us and to damage our witness.  Jesus is truth.  We are to bear true faith and allegiance to Him.  In Revelation 19:11, we read about Jesus coming.  Scripture states that He who sat on he white horse was called Faithful and True.  

 

The shoes were special shoes.  These sandals had spikes in them.  The spikes allowed the soldier to stand firm.  The sandals provided a firm foundation for the soldier.  A Roman soldier went into battle made sure that the sandals were in good state of repair and would not slip when he was in battle.  The soldier would dig in knowing that he was anchored and prepared to do battle.  We are to be anchored in Christ.  When we are anchored in Christ, we are on firm footing. 

 

There is only one offensive weapon, the Sword of the Spirit.  When Satan tempted Christ, Jesus used the Word of God to repel Him.  Satan is powerless against the Word of God.  So often we attempt to fight Satan in our own strength.  Whereas, if we used the Sword of the Spirit, he would depart from us just as he did Jesus in the wilderness.  

 

Let me encourage you this year to daily put on the whole armor that God has issued you.   Some people begin their day by picturing putting on each piece of the armor and asking God to protect them.  

 

Have a great day serving and loving God and others.  

“COME CLOSE TO GOD AND GOD WILL COME CLOSE TO YOU” JAMES 4:8 (NLT)

Saturday-JANUARY 4

ODEVOTION
OPRAYER
OPROVERBS 4


Hebrews 11:5-6 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

5 By faith Enoch was taken away so he did not experience death, and he was not to be found because God took him away. For prior to his removal he was approved, since he had pleased God. 6 Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.

Several years ago, I saw a movie entitled the Jackie Robinson Story. As you know, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier for Major League Baseball. In fact, he played his first game in Daytona Beach. Why Daytona Beach? Other Florida cities would not allow him to play against white players. Daytona Beach allowed him to play at the City Island Stadium, the same stadium that bears his name today.

In the movie there is a quote attributed to one of Jackie's high school coaches. He is quoted as saying to the young athlete "if we walk long enough and talk long enough then we will understand one another." Walking and talking were the key to getting to know one another. The walking and talking led to a better understanding. The walking and talking developed a higher level of trust. The walking and talking led to a intimate personal relationship, a close friendship and love for one another. It is God's desire for us to walk with Him and talk with Him each and every day. As we walk daily with the Lord, we will deepen our personal relationship with Him.  

Many years ago, I heard an illustration about Enoch. For 300 years, Enoch walked with the LORD each and every day. The LORD would stop at Enoch's home each day and they would walk together. Each day, Enoch's faith grew stronger and stronger as he walked, talked and fellowshipped with God. Each day, the trust bond was stronger. Each day the love Enoch had for the LORD deepened. Each day, Enoch and God would arrive a certain point and Enoch would turn around and walk back home.  

There came a day when Enoch and God were walking and talking and they went beyond the normal turn around point. God turns to Enoch and says why don't you come an live in my house?  
Genesis 5:24 states: "And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him." Enoch's actions were intentional. He had a personal intimate relationship with God. God desires for us to have the same type of relationship that He had with Enoch. Each day Enoch's faith deepen as he developed an ever increasing intimate relationship with God. He renewed his walk each and every day. Each day, his faith became stronger and stronger. He became more and more reliant on God and less and less reliant on self. He was focused totally on doing the will of God.  

The writer of Hebrews states that without faith it is impossible to please God. Without faith, it is impossible to walk with God. I was reading John MacArthur as I was preparing this devotional piece. MacArthur stated that "genuine faith does not simply believe that a divine being exists, but that God of Scripture is the only real and true God who exists. No believing that God exists is the equivalent of calling Him a liar."  

One of my favorite hymns is I Am Thine O LORD. Look at the words:


1. I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice, 
and it told thy love to me; 
but I long to rise in the arms of faith
and be closer drawn to thee. 
Refrain: 
Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, 
to the cross where thou hast died. 
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, 
to thy precious, bleeding side. 

2. Consecrate me now to thy service, Lord, 
by the power of grace divine; 
let my soul look up with a steadfast hope, 
and my will be lost in thine. 
(Refrain) 

3. O the pure delight of a single hour
that before thy throne I spend, 
when I kneel in prayer, and with thee, my God, 
I commune as friend with friend! 
(Refrain) 

4. There are depths of love that I cannot know
till I cross the narrow sea; 
there are heights of joy that I may not reach
till I rest in peace with thee. 
(Refrain)

It is my prayer that during 2020, you will be drawn nearer nearer to our precious LORD. 


Have a great day serving and loving God and others.

“Come Close to God and God will come close to you” James 4:8 (NLT)

Friday-January 3 

oDevotion
oPrayer
oProverbs 3 


Genesis 4:4 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

4 And Abel also presented an offering—some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 


The verse for today comes from Genesis 4:4. Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain was the first born. Scripture reveals that he was a farmer and tilled the ground. Abel was the second born. He was a shepherd.  

In Hebrews 11.4, we read: By faith, Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts and through it he being dead still speaks." Both Abel and Cain knew God's requirements. Abel obeyed.  

In Genesis 4:3, you see Cain bringing an offering to the LORD. Scripture states that "Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD." Was the offering the best? Did God tell them that an animal offering was required and Cain just chose to give what he wanted to give? Was Cain simply bringing an offering out of obligation and as an act of worship? Was Cain resentful with having to bring an offering? We may not know the anwswer to these questions, but, what is evident is that Cain did not obey God. He chose to disobey God and did what he wanted to do rather than what God had instructed him to do.  

Abel gave of the firstborn. He gave of the best from the flock. He gave of the best that he had. You read in Hebrews about Abel's zealous heart for God. Abel was faithful. He was obedient. He followed hard after God's ways and obeyed God's instruction.  

When you read the scripture, you see one brings while the other presents. Abel sees the offering as an act of worship. Cain sees the offering as a requirement. Abel wants to give the very best of what he has unto the LORD.  

Although scripture does not provide detail about how each selected what would be brought and presented unto the LORD. I see Abel going through all his flocks seeking just the right animal to present to the LORD. He is painstaking in looking for an animal that is without blemish. As he finds the right sheep, he rejoices and praises God. I see Abel brining the animal to the place where he is presenting his offering unto the LORD giving thanks for being able to worship through giving.  

What you find in Genesis 4:6-7 is that God and Cain have a discussion about the offering. We see in the scripture an unrepentant heart. We see God confronting Cain for his disobedience. Aren't you and I glad that God confronts us when we are disobedient. He will not allow His children to be comfortable in sin.  

God warned Cain about sin being ready to devour him. Sin is described being at the door. If man chooses not to obey God, sin will devour and overpower. In 1 John 3:12 we read: "not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous." I'm so glad that God provides man with warnings that sin is crouching at the door and is ready to pounce.  

Satan is described as a roaring lion who is seeking to destroy. You and I as believers are sentinels. We are there to warn men that the enemy is ready to attack. We are to be prepared for the enemy to attack us in our own lives. Let me encourage you to find somebody who will become your accountability partner during 2020. Accountability partners help each other to withstand the attacks that the enemy launches against us.  

My father would often tell me that he could always tell when he was outside the will of God and following his own will. He said that God removed the song of praise from his heart. He said he could no longer sing with joy. Yes, he could sing the words, but, they were just that words, not worship of the Living God. When he realized the song was no longer residing in his heart because he was following after his own desires, he turned to the LORD and asked to be restored. He stated that as soon as he prayed a prayer of repentance, the song returned to his heart and he was able to worship.  

As we prepare to enter a new year, a new decade, let's commit our hearts to worship the LORD and remain vigilant to guard against the sin that crouches at the door.  

Have a great day serving and loving God and others.

Close: Come Walk With Me

“Come Close to God and God will come close to you” James 4:8 (NLT)

Thursday-January 2 
oDevotion
oPrayer
oProverbs 2 

Genesis 1:26-27

 

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea , over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.  

 

You and I are uniquely created.  There is nobody just like you.  God crafted you with a unique personality, talents, skills, abilities and capabilities.  He crafted you with a specific purpose.  

 

When you read both Genesis 1 and 2, you see the uniqueness of how God created man.  In Genesis 2:7, you see a picture of God forming man differently than the rest of creation.  "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and became a living being."  All other creation was spoken into existence.  But, man was formed by God.  He created man in His own image.  

 

In Genesis 2:7, the word form is a picture of a master artist at work creating a masterpiece.  You see God taking plain ordinary dirt shaping it into the masterpiece of His creation.  Each piece is handled with care.  He takes each piece and carefully and lovingly puts it together according to His design.  Once finished with the physical creation of man, God bends down and breaths His own breath into the nostrils of man giving man life.  Nowhere else in the creation account do you read where God breathed life into His creation.  In all other aspects of creation, God speaks and life appears.  But, not with man.  God bends down and breathes life into man.  It is this breath that makes man unique from all creation.  The breath of God gives man physical life but more important than that it was the breath of God that gave man spiritual life.  

 

You and I are a triune being, body, man and spirit.   It was His breath that made man unique from everything else that He created.  When you read man's theories of the origins of man, you see them denying the breath of God.  They define man only as a physical and mental being.  They deny the third and most important element of man's uniqueness, the spirit that was breathed into us by our Creator.   

 

When man was created, he was created innocent.   Man only knew good.  Everything that man experienced and saw was good.  He walked with God.  He experienced God in His fullness without a veil or shield.  God instructed man on all aspects of creation.  Man was God's caretaker of creation.  What a unique responsibility.  He was the steward of all God had made.  We are still stewards of God's creation.  We will be held accountable for our stewardship of what He created.  All of the earth and the fullest of it are His. 

 

In Genesis 3, it is the spiritual aspect that Satan attacks.  Satan when he rebelled against God died spiritually.  He sealed his fate for all eternity in his rebellion against God.   He set out to destroy the jewel of God's creation.  He set out to destroy the spirit of man.   He set out to destroy man's innocence.  He set out to destroy man's unique relationship with God.  

 

When you read Genesis 3, you see the cunning nature of Satan.  He appears to be something that he is not.  He uses words that sound good but in fact are design to deceive and destroy.  In Genesis 3:4, Satan introduces man to pride.  He tells Eve that when they eat of the fruit that man will be like God.  Satan's appeal to man was for them to change the relational status they had with God.  Satan tells them that they will know both good and evil.   Satan makes the knowledge of good and evil desirable trait. The temptation is that God has withheld from you that is desirable.  Satan's appeal is that you can be equal to God by just eating the fruit.  As we know, it was Satan that sought to become God.  

 

When man sinned, both spiritual death and physical death came into man's life along with other penalties caused by man's disobedience.  Only God could restore the relationship with man.  In Genesis 3, you see Him coming to man in the coolness of the day.  You see Him confronting sin directly.  You see both His love and His judgment.  He took the initiative to restore the relationship.  In Genesis 3, He foretells of the Savior that will come and smash Satan and redeem mankind.  

 

When you and I accepted Jesus as our LORD and Savior, we received once again spiritual life.   We were dead because of our sin nature but were made alive in Christ Jesus.  We were restored to God because of Jesus atoning blood.  O what a Savior.  

 

Have a great day serving and loving our LORD and Savior and others.