Category Archives: Morning devotions

No Separation (Romans 8:38-39)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:38-39 ESV]

There is nothing more horrifying than that thought of being separated from the love of God. And that separation would be the definition of hell. Even among the flames; in the midst of pain and suffering, if God’s love were still there, there would still be hope of rescue and healing and restoration; even if not in this life. Without God’s love, though, there is:

No hope
No rescue
No healing
No restoration and…
No God

THAT is hell and THAT is something that no one would ever want a taste of for even a second. So when people say things like, “That was just hell going through that” or “I’ve been through hell and back” or other such sayings; people have no idea nor do they want an idea. I think we too often minimize hell and therefore we don’t take it seriously enough. Hell is separation from God. The Good News, though, is that through faith in Jesus, you have never, ever been separated from God and never will be.

death
life
angels
rulers
things present
things to come
powers
height
depth
anything else in all creation

None of these things will or can separate you from God’s love. You may think your suffering feels like hell, but it is not. Your suffering here is for but a moment and believe me, you are not alone. If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you are not alone; you are not in hell; you are not separated from God. Granted, I don’t know what your suffering is like. I don’t know how you may be feeling. I don’t know exactly how I would respond in your position. But the one thing I do know is that in Christ Jesus…

GOD LOVES ME

and God loves YOU.

Cling to this wonderful promise in Jesus Christ and rejoice that hell is not your place but rather God’s love is your reality and hope.

God of life and salvation, we praise You that Your love over comes the powers of this world and therefore gives hope through Jesus. May those who suffer know Your love and may they know they are not alone. Give them hope. Give them strength. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

The Pastor -|—

Hate Your Life (John 14:15 and 15:12-15)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” [John 14:15]

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” [John 15:12-14]

Yesterday was a John 14 kind of day (see “Love and Obedience” from March 24) but today is a John 15 kind of a day.

Yesterday I was struck by John 14:15 that talks about loving Jesus and keeping his commandments; that obedience is an act of love, not an act of duty or something to avoid punishment. We obey Jesus because we love Jesus and we want to please him; not in order to get something in return but because he has already given us something: Eternal life through faith in him.

Now today…

Jesus gives the commandment (which, if you love Jesus, you will be pleased to receive) to love one another as He has loved you. Then Jesus goes on to define the ultimate display of love. Are you ready for this?
Laying down your life for your friends.

Then Jesus goes on to say that you are his friend if you do what he commands. So therefore if you love Jesus you will not only freely and joyfully obey him but you will lay down your life for him. In essence, you will “hate your life in this world” (John 12:25)

WHAT?!?

John Piper, from his Solid Joys devotional, “How to Hate Your Life” says this:
It means, at least, that you don’t take much thought for your life in this world. In other words, it just doesn’t matter much what happens to your life in this world.

If men speak well of you, it doesn’t matter much.
If they hate you, it doesn’t matter much.
If you have a lot of things, I doesn’t matter much.
If you have little, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are persecuted or lied about, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are famous or unheard of, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are dead, these things just don’t matter much.

But it’s even more radical. There are some choices to be made here, not just passive experiences. Jesus goes on to say, “If anyone serves me, let him follow me.” Where to? He is moving into Gethsemane and toward the cross.

To love Jesus is to die to this world and cling to the eternal life you have in him. If you are truly clinging to the hope of the resurrection, then what happens in this life really matters very little; for this world can not take away that which God gives through Jesus Christ. But if you are “loving” this life; clinging to it, then you are not looking to Jesus and therefore not loving Jesus.

But if you want a more vivid picture, then imagine this:
Clinging to this life/world rather than Jesus (loving him) is like hanging over a fiery pit and clinging to nothing but a small thread. And you don’t need me to tell you what’s going to happen eventually.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Will you lay down your life for Jesus?
He already laid down his life for you.

Awesome, amazing and mighty God; You loved us first. You love us even though we are sinners. You love us even though we are disobedient. You love us even though we seek this life. Turn our hearts towards You that we may see Your love through the cross of Christ. In Jesus name, Amen

The Pastor -|—

Peace in a Troubled World (John 14)

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” [John 14:1, ESV]

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” [John 14:27, ESV]

Beautiful bookends to a beautiful chapter. The beginning of Jesus’ farewell discourse begins with peace and encouragement to not have troubled hearts. Following this and up through verse 27 Jesus talks about:

Going to the Father
Preparing a place for us
Bringing us home to the Father
That he and the Father are one
In the mean time, giving the Holy Spirit
Not leaving us as orphans
Loving Jesus means loving the Father
The Father loves you

And finally: Peace
So therefore: Let not your hearts be troubled

What a beautiful discourse. And what a great reminder, because think about it, how often do you let your hearts get troubled? How often is your peace rattled?

~ You share your faith with your son or daughter, father or mother, friend or coworker and nothing. They still won’t accept Jesus and therefore it’s easy to become discouraged.
~ You just lost your job, money is tight, your health is not the best; and your heart is troubled about the future and whether things will ever get better.
~ A drunk driver kills someone one, yet another report of ISIS reigning terror someplace, the news reporting another murder involving domestic violence; and you wonder if peace will ever be a reality.

But Jesus says, Do not let your hearts be troubled. I got this. I have overcome this world. I have defeated death. Stuff may happen now that is unpeaceful and discouraging, but think on me. I give you a peace like nothing the world can give, so stop looking for peace there.

And it is this peace; the peace that only Jesus gives, that allows one’s heart to not be troubled. It’s thinking on Jesus that encourages our discouraged hearts. It is faith in the crucified and risen One that truly brings peace in an unpeaceful world.

No matter what you do; no matter how hard your search; no matter how hard you try, you are never going to find or create a situation where your heart will be completely free from trouble or discouragement. Maybe you can do something for the short-term, but there will always be something lacking without Jesus.

So turn to Jesus and let not your hearts be troubled. And know a peace that surpasses all understanding and surpasses anything that this world can promise.

Be at peace, my friends, and praise God always and forever.

God of peace, Your love and compassion and faithfulness is what we truly need in a love-less, compassion-less and faith-less world. May we turn to You and be at peace; knowing that Jesus died and rose that we may have a place at the Great Banquet table and a room in Your Mansion. What a joy to think on this promise. What peace. Thank You, oh God, in Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Have No Fear? Really? (Revelation 15:3-4)

“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
 Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
(Revelation 15:3-4 ESV)

I stumbled upon was led to this scripture this morning for some reason. Funny how the Holy Spirit works sometimes.

In any case…

I started staring and reflecting on the question:
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name?

Seriously who? Who won’t fear the Lord? And why? It is a baffling question, really, when you think about it. God’s deeds are great and amazing. God’s ways are just and true. God is King. God is holy. But way too many people don’t know this or acknowledge this.

What a shame.

I look around and see God’s great and amazing deeds all over the place. I can not fathom the thought that we are nothing but chance; that some random molecules or proteins or whatever it is; came together and started forming the universe and thus life. There is no way whatsoever that life is random. It just doesn’t start out of nowhere and with no reason.

GOD is the author of life and thus God should be feared.

Romans 1:19-20 tells us:
[19] For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. [20] For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

It comes down to emptying yourself and trusting God. I saw this quote on Facebook yesterday that said: If you’re not hungry for God, you’re probably full of yourself. That sounds about right but I would say more than just “probably” full of yourself.

Through creation God has made it abundantly clear that God is God Almighty, Creator of the heaven and the earth. God has made it plain who He is. Just look around and see.

So take some time and reflect on the awesome deeds of God. Consider His just and true ways. Submit to His Kingship and acknowledge God’s holiness. Do this in order to foster and nurture a healthy fear of the Lord that sends you NOT running away screaming but running TO God in worship.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 ESV)

Don’t be a fool. Embrace the wisdom of God and learn from Him.

Creator God, You are holy and awesome and just and true and your ways are wholly righteous. May people run to you in holy fear and cling to Your promises through Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Don’t Kill Jesus (John 11:48)

If we let him (Jesus) go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” [John 11:48, ESV, Bible.com/app]

Earlier on in this chapter, Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and greatly troubled over the people’s lack of hope. Later, when at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, Jesus wept. He didn’t weep because his friend was dead and gone, but rather  Jesus wept because the people were in a state of hopelessness; they didn’t believe that Jesus could do anything. But Jesus knew what he could do and therefore wanted the people to have hope that death is not the end. Jesus wanted people to believe in HIM.

Following the raising of Lazarus scripture says that many people believed in Jesus but others went and reported this to the pharisees; the religious leaders of the day. Their response was troubling (the verse above) as…

They were only concerned about their jobs and not the people.
They were only concerned about their “Church” instead of the Kingdom.
They were only concerned about their job descriptions.

The people were coming to faith in Jesus and that would change the course of the “Church”; the course of history, and (as they feared) the course of their nation. So something must be done (as we read in the rest of the chapter):

[53] So from that day on they made plans to put him (Jesus) to death.

Kill Jesus
Stop this Gospel
Get control of the situation
Stay relevant

Wow, that sounds familiar (and not because I have read this text before). This is familiar because this is happening today in a couple ways:

(1) The Gospel, the Church, biblical interpretation are changing because many feel if they don’t change these then the Church will get left behind. And so in order to “protect” the church; 2000 years worth of doctrine is changing, interpretation of the Bible is “evolving”; and all in a effort to help the Church become/stay “relevant”. So this Pharisaical concern is nothing new as leaders are trying to protect their jobs, positions and status.

(2) This Pharisaical concern is also happening in the local church. This appears through churches afraid to take a stand for what they believe. “Let’s just go along with how things have been done and not upset the apple cart”.Let’s just continue with what the higher ups tell us is the truth,” The fear is that change will cause a disruption in the peaceful status quo.  And so the status quo is fought for, tooth and nail, when fighting for THE Gospel should be the way.

We can not allow things to go on like this. THE Gospel of Jesus Christ is what we should be clinging to and not this Pharisaical concern of relevancy. The Church can not let the culture dictate it’s doctrine. Our doctrine comes from God and God alone through Jesus Christ. Our doctrine is the unaltered Bible; the Word of God. This hasn’t changed and it is not going to change. People need to hear THE Gospel and not some watered down version that meets their needs. To do that causes great harm as anything watered down loses it potency.

Jesus (and him alone) is the Resurrection and the Life. All who believe in him, though they die, will live; and all who lives and believes in Jesus will never die. That is the Good News. Do you really believe this?

If so…

Worship GOD through Jesus Christ
Spread THE Gospel
Give GOD control of the situation
Stay in Scripture

Cultural relevancy is something Jesus never advocated but rather Gospel faithfulness; no matter what the culture thinks or says.

So with Jesus I weep and thus pray…

That the Church remains faithful/returns to faithfulness
That Christians stand strong for what they believe against all odds
That the authority of scripture is held high and untarnished
That the unaltered Gospel is proclaimed with boldness
And that in the face of relativism, the Church does not budge

JESUS is Lord and King. Let’s boldly and proudly announce this and stick with this confession…

…and not kill Jesus.

God, King of all creation, make us bold in our faith that we may boldly proclaim Your glory. Make us strong to stand, that when push comes to shove; as relativism tries to assert it’s so-called claim on the culture, that we stand. Make us unashamed of the Gospel that our hope may be secure in Jesus. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Godly Training (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. [1 Timothy 4:7-8]

I think a lot of Christians waste a lot of time engaging in silly arguments, debates and controversies at the expense of godly training time. Christians also engage in everyday life without proper godly training. Christians deal with stress and temptation without proper godly training. This is basically what the apostle Paul was warning his young friend, Timothy, about. And this is something that all Christians need to take to heart.

Train so you can be ready.

I am currently registered for a half marathon in June. This will be number three for me to add to the three marathons I have already done, so I know the value of proper physical training. The problem is that I haven’t taken my own advice yet and really gotten into my physical training. I need to get moving because I can not expect to do well in June if I don’t prepare my body now. Without proper training my body will take beating and I high doubt I will be able to finish.

The same goes with godly training but godly training has many more benefits than anything we can do to prepare our bodies in this life. Recently I was reporting to my church council that Lent this year was going very well; that my stress level was down considerably from past years. I then went on to say that I have been continuing to exercise my faith through daily Bible reading, devotions and writing on my blog everyday (sometimes more than once). Following the meeting, a council member/friend approached me and said, “Do you think that your reduced stress this year has anything to do with your prayer/devotional life?”

Silly me, I never considered that, but absolutely!

Nurturing your relationship with God through Jesus Christ through worship, praying, reading God’s word, not only strengthens your faith as the Gospel is read and proclaimed to you but it also helps you deal with life now. Don’t get me wrong through, I am not slipping into a prosperity Gospel preaching mode; trying to give you some easy steps to a happy and stress free life (if I ever do that would someone please slap me up across the head). Anyway…what I am saying is that godly training is important in this life to bring glory to God. Because believe me, there are irreverent and silly myths and controversies all over the place and the Christian needs to be ready. So this godly training is not about a happy and stress free life (that is just a pleasant “side effect”). Godly training is about glorifying God today and preparing our souls for eternity.

And so if you don’t engage in godly training now; when life happens and the world challenges your faith, you will stumble and fall. But also, if Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, why wouldn’t you want to train and grow closer to him?

So…

Exercise your faith.
Train your soul.
Prepare your defense.
Be ready.

And when life happens, you can bring glory to God (and not yourself).

What a joy it is to spend time with You, oh God. What a joy to grow closer and closer to You. What a joy to soak in Your holy law. What a joy to give You glory in this life. May You bless our “training” not for us but for You, oh God. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Arise

IMG_20140924_122901

Arise, oh child of God, arise.

Arise and give praise and glory to God.

Arise, oh child of God, arise and see this brand new day.

This is indeed the day the Lord has made so arise, rejoice and be glad in it.

Arise, oh child of God, arise and behold the grace of God.

Arise, oh child of God, arise for God has a special plan for you. Things may not go as you have planned but take heed, oh child of God, that God is in control.

Arise, oh child of God, arise and worship the King, the Lord.

Arise, oh child of God, arise and cling to His son, THE Christ. For salvation is yours through faith him so therefore arise and proclaim the Good News.

Arise, oh child of God, arise for this is a new day of grace.

Arise, oh child of God, arise and know your day will be blessed; for your are His workmanship, His glory, His pride so rejoice and praise his holy name.

Arise, oh child of God, arise and know the awesome love of God.

——————–

Have a blessed and glorious day :-)

The Pastor -|—