Weekly Devotional – May 29, 2021

Repent and Be Saved!

2 Peter 1:2-4 (NKJV)

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus compared us to sheep? It’s partly because the primary way of making a living at that time was herding cattle and sheep. However, it is also because we are a lot like sheep. No matter how tough we act, we are susceptible to a good con job. Cattle will sense danger as they get close to the edge of a cliff and stop grazing and move somewhere else. If the grazing is good. A sheep will stop grazing, look at the edge of the cliff and start grazing again. They will literally graze off the cliff.

We humans are not much better than the sheep. Like the cattle, we sense the danger and turn (repent), but we don’t walk away like the cows. We look back at the good grazing (sin) and we turn back to the way we were and keep grazing (sinning).

There is a lot of talk in the church community about the sin nature. There are many preachers who deceive their congregations into thinking they retain the sin nature after salvation.

To repent indicates you are sorrowfully ashamed of the sins you have committed, and you are turning around and going in the opposite direction. If you are going away from sin, how can you live any longer in it? Having escaped the corruption of sin, we are then partakers of God’s divine nature. We have repented and we have been saved by the Grace of God.

Don’t allow anyone to con you into turning back and walking off that cliff. Keep following God, He will lead you to salvation.

Another argument I get all the time is that Christians have dirty or sinful thoughts. At one time I would have agreed with you. However, I have studied the bible and I have found in the bible where that would be incorrect.

Before we are saved, we look at the life of Christ for inspiration. Christ lived a life without sin from a boy until the day He died on the cross for the sins of the world. By looking and trying to imitate the life of Christ, we can see how to live as a Christian.

They argument is that Satan gets into our minds and leads us astray. Impossible!

When Christ was tempted, every time satan tried to get Christ to do something wrong, He simply quoted a verse of scripture to shut satan up. Some of the people that claim to be saved say that satan gets into their minds and causes them to sin.

Many of the young ministers today say the same thing. That’s because they study the parts of the bible that will make them money, not the parts that will make Christians.

Those ministers and converts that have studied the Bible know that God gave us three things to ensure our salvation.

  1. We have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:16)
  2. God’s Divine Nature. (2 Peter 1:2-4)
  3. The Holy Spirit living in us. (John 14:17)
So, repent today and be saved!!

Weekly Word Definition – Disciple

A scholar, sometimes applied to the followers of John the Baptist (Mat 9:14), and of the Pharisees (Mat 22:16), but principally to the followers of Christ. A disciple of Christ is one who

  • (1) believes his doctrine,
  • (2) rests on his sacrifice,
  • (3) imbibes his spirit,
  • (4) imitates his example (Mat 10:24; Luke 14:26, 27, 33; John 6:69).

Illustrated Bible Dictionary: And Treasury of Biblical History, Biography, Geography, Doctrine, and Literature.

Usually a substantive (μαθητής, mathētés, “a learner,” from manthánō, “to learn”; Latin discipulus, “a scholar”): The word is found in the Bible only in the Gospels and Acts. But it is good Greek, in use from Herodotus down, and always means the pupil of someone, in contrast to the master or teacher (διδάσκαλος, didáskalos). Matthew 10:24; Luke 6:40.

  1. In all cases, it implies that the person not only accepts the views of the teacher but that he is also in practice an adherent. The word has several applications. In the widest sense, it refers to those who accept the teachings of anyone, not only in belief but in life. Thus the disciples of John the Baptist (Matthew 9:14; Luke 7:18; John 3:25); also of the Pharisees (Matthew 22:16; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33); of Moses (John 9:28). But its most common use is to designate the adherents of Jesus.
    1. In the widest sense (Matthew 10:42; Luke 6:17; John 6:66, and often). It is the only name for Christ’s followers in the Gospels. But
    2. especially the Twelve Apostles, even when they are called simply the disciples (Matthew 10:1; Matthew 11:1; Matthew 12:1, et al.). In the Acts, after the death and ascension of Jesus, disciples are those who confess Him as the Messiah, Christians (Acts 6:1-2, 7; Acts 9:36 (feminine, mathétria); Acts 11:26, “The disciples were called Christians”).
    3. Even half-instructed believers who had been baptized only with the baptism of John are disciples (Acts 19:1-4).
  2. We have also the verb, μαθητεύω, mathēteúō, “Jesus’ disciple” (literally, “was discipled to Jesus,” Matthew 27:57);
  3. “Make disciples of all the nations” (the King James Version “teach,” Matthew 28:19); “had made many disciples” (the King James Version “taught many,” Acts 14:21); “every scribe who hath been made a disciple to the kingdom of heaven” (the King James Version “instructed,” Matthew 13:52). The disciple of Christ today may be described in the words of Farrar, as
    1. “one who believes His doctrines,
    2. rests upon His sacrifice,
    3. imbibes His spirit,
    4. imitates His example.”

The Old Testament has neither the term nor the exact idea, though there is a difference between teacher and scholar among David’s singers (1 Chron. 25:8), and among the prophetic guilds the distinction between the rank and file and the leader (1 Samuel 19:20; 2 Kings 6:5). The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

  one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: such as

a: Christianity:  one of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ’s followers according to the Gospel accounts

b:  a convinced adherent of a school or individual a disciple of Freud

Capitalized, Christianity:  a member of the Disciples of Christ founded in the U.S. in 1809 that holds the Bible alone to be the rule of faith and practice, usually baptizes by immersion and has a congregational polity Merriam-Webster

Weekly Devotional – May 22, 2021

Grow Your Patience!

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

I once attended a church in Virginia Beach, Virginia who was trying to increase their attendance by putting basketball goals all around the inside of the church. The preacher wore a referee’s uniform and used basketball lingo in his sermon. The church thought if they used the things of the world to attract the children of the neighborhood to their service, they could grow their attendance. What they forgot is that God gives the increase, not the world. When I visited the church in 1997 their attendance was about 75. When I left Virginia Beach about 10 years later, the church had disbanded, and the world had built apartments where the church building once stood. The apartment buildings were filled.

This church had a young pastor who was just out of the Seminary. He had been taught to fill the church with children’s programs and the church would grow. This young pastor forgot two things:

  1. Children of today have not been raised in a Church environment and are more interested in the things of the world. They had rather go to the beach than to church.
  2. When children go away to college, only an exceedingly small percentage of them return to their hometown. Most of them secure jobs in larger cities.

Children are not the ones who fund a church, they are not the ones who teach the church, they are not the ones who lead the church. Their parents are the ones the church should have tried to attract, and you can’t do that with basketball. To attract adults, you must use logic, truth, and intelligence.

The Seminaries should be run by Preachers, not educators. The only curriculum used in the Seminaries should be the bible. God has included the complete plan to increasing a church in His word.

There was another church in a small town in California who had 17 members and wanted to grow. They were faithful to God and prayed to him for guidance. The guidance God gave them was to build another church in another town, a satellite church. The guidance scared them a bit, but they trusted God. When the second church was completed, they saw their attendance had grown. The Lord led them to start yet another church and again their own attendance grew more.

By trusting God and having the patience to wait on him and do what He asked instead of depending on the world, this little church of 17 not only has several satellite churches but this little church has an average attendance of 3000 on Sunday morning.

Growing patience is not about the world. There is no pill, no fertilizer, no treatment that the world can give that will help a person grow patience.

God, on the other hand, has been helping people grow patient since the beginning of time. All you need to do is believe in Jesus Christ and give your life to Him. You see patience is not something you grow after all. Patience is a gift from God. Only God can help you grow in Patience. You will find that no one who is of the world has the patience to grow.

Just trust God and the patience will come. As this little church found out, it’s not the world that grows a church, it is trust in God and the patience that God gives that grows churches and people.

Weekly Word Definition – Atonement

The definition of Atonement is as follows:

 The English word for atonement originally meant “at one-ment” or “at one with” like being in harmony with someone and in this case it means to be at one with God through the atonement that was made possible by the substitutionary death of Christ on our behalf.  The Hebrew Word for atonement is “kipur” with the verb form being “kaphar” and means “to cover, purge, make reconciliation” and “to cover with or coat with pitch.”  That last definition is remarkably interesting because the same Hebrew word used for pitch is “kaphar” and that is what the Ark was covered with.  When God commanded Noah to build an Ark to save him, his family, and many of the animals from the coming judgment of the flood, he was commanded to cover the Ark with pitch or “kaphar” which is to cover, make reconciliation with, or to purge.  Since the floodwaters were indicative of the judgment of God on fallen, sinful mankind, it is not ironic that God used the word “kaphar” in telling Noah to cover the Ark with pitch. Thus, the Ark is seen as symbolic of God’s salvation and the atonement or covering from God’s judgment (of the floodwaters) as seen in the pitch that Noah applied to the outside of the Ark whereby God sparred Noah and his family from the judgment of sin by an atoning, reconciling covering or cover that the pitch was known for.  This is indicative of salvation being fully a work of God and not of man (Eph. 2:8-9).

And you shall offer a bull every day as a sin offering for atonement. You shall cleanse the altar when you make atonement for it, and you shall anoint it to sanctify it.

Exodus 29:36 (NKJV)

But this shall be the obligation of the prince regarding the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings, at the festivals, the new moons, and the Sabbaths, all the appointed festivals of the house of Israel: he shall provide the sin offerings, grain offerings, the burnt offerings, and the offerings of well-being, to make atonement for the house of Israel.

Ezekiel 45:17 (NRSV)

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD evil is avoided.

Proverbs 16:6 (NIV2011)

Notice the word atonement is only in the Old Testament. Atonement will only cover your sin and they are still there to remind you year after year of the sins in your life.

In the New Testament, through the giving of the blood of Christ, our sins are not covered. Our sins are removed and forgotten by God.

Weekly Devotional – May 15, 2021

Rulers of Tens

Exodus 18:21 (NKJV)

Moreover, you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.

When I joined the Navy in 1976, the first place they sent me was “Boot Camp.” There was 6 weeks of intense learning. There were three things they were teaching you.

The first thing they taught me was to remain silent while the orders were being issued. There were many who learned this the hard way. But in the end, they did learn.

Many of the Psalm teach us the same thing, I especially like Psalm 62:5-8. Though I may only lead tens, my leadership is important. Not because I have man’s training, but because I was appointed and trained by God. It was not man’s training that put me in my position of authority, it was God’s standards and His knowledge leading me.

The second thing the military taught me was how to follow the orders of my superiors. This one, well, let’s just say it was a hard pill for me to swallow.

Before I joined the Navy I had been the boss for several years and their style of leadership was much different than I was used to using. When you are trying to make a deadline in the civilian world, everyone needs to keep working toward the goal in order to meet the deadline. However, if you are a little late no one gets hurt. In the military, if you don’t work hard someone could die.

God’s work is the same as the military, but worse. If you die in war, that is only the first death and the state of your eternal life has already been determined. The state of your eternal life is dependent on how well God’s army is doing its job. If God’s people fail to recruit you as the military recruiter did, the state of your eternal life is in jeopardy (Romans 6:23). God’s people must then teach you how to fight against evil and learn the truth that is in God’s word (Ephesians 6:10-20).

The third thing I learned from the military was leadership. They taught me that each promotion came with a different type and level of responsibility. When you reach the higher levels you take on a lot of responsibility. You only reach the higher levels when your superiors feel you are read to meet the task.

We have many leaders in our churches today that decided out of high school that being a preacher is an easy job. Because of this, many people who might have been saved are dying without knowing how to be saved.

Just as in the military, God is your senior officer and only He can decide whether or not you are ready to handle the responsibility. No College can teach what God already knows. Although I believe college can make a pastor a better administrator, only God can teach someone to be a preacher or teacher and only after they have been called to do so by God. Who knows, God may think you worthy to lead more than ten!!   

Weekly Word Definition – Betroth

To promise “by one’s truth.” Men and women were betrothed when they were engaged to be married. This usually took place a year or more before marriage. From the time of betrothal, the woman was regarded as the lawful wife of the man to whom she was betrothed (Deut 28:30; Jdg. 14:2, 8; Mat 1:18-21). The term is figuratively employed of the spiritual connection between God and his people (Hos 2:19, 20). Illustrated Bible Dictionary: And Treasury of Biblical History, Biography, Geography, Doctrine, and Literature.

To promise to marry, to give in marriage. Merriam-Webster

On betrothal as a social custom see MARRIAGE. Hosea, in his great parable of the prodigal wife, Of course we know of a greater Teacher’s parable of the Prodigal Son, uses betrothal as the symbol of Yahweh’s pledge of His love and favor to penitent Israel (Hosea 2:19-20). In Exodus 21:8-9 the Revised Version (British and American) renders “espouse” for the “betroth” of the King James Version, the context implying the actual marriage relation. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Betrothal (also called espousal) is a formal state of engagement to be married.

In Jewish weddings during Talmudic times, the two ceremonies of betrothal (erusin) and wedding usually took place up to a year apart; the bride lived with her parents until the actual marriage ceremony (nissuin), which would take place in a room or tent that the groom had set up for her. Since the Middle Ages the two ceremonies have taken place as a combined ceremony performed in public. The betrothal is now generally part of the Jewish wedding ceremony, accomplished when the groom gives the bride the ring or another object of at least nominal value. As mentioned above, betrothal in Judaism is separate from engagement; breaking a betrothal requires a formal divorce, and violation of betrothal is considered adultery.

Typical steps of a match were the following:

Negotiation of a match, usually done by the couple’s families with bride and groom having varying levels of input, from no input, to veto power, to a fuller voice in the selection of marriage partner.

This is not as widely practiced as it was historically, although it is still common in culturally conservative communities in Israel, India, Africa, and Persian Gulf countries, although most of these have a requirement that the bride be at least allowed veto power.

Negotiation of bride price or dowry

In most cultures evolved from Europe, bride prices or dowries have been reduced to the engagement ring accompanying the marriage contract, while in other cultures, such as those on the Arabian Peninsula, they are still part of negotiating a marriage contract.

Blessing by the parents and clergy. Exchange of Vows and Signing of Contracts Wikipedia

Weekly Devotional – May 8, 2021

The Perfect Garden!!

Genesis 1:11-12 (NKJV)

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Can you imagine a garden that you only have to plant each year and watch it grow? A garden that has no weeds, no insects eating the leaves, no mold, or anything else to damage the plants. This would be the perfect garden.

In the beginning this was the type of garden man was given to tend. The Garden of Eden contained nothing that would corrupt the plants in any way.

Believe it or not you, as a Christian, have experienced this twice. The first time was at birth. Even though we are born into a sinful world, children have not yet learned to sin. Small children live in their own little world and there is no sin in it.

The Christian experiences this situation a second time at the time they are saved. (Eph. 4:24) Because we are born again into God’s Righteousness and Holiness, we are again in a sin free state. It is not until we listen to others that we are tempted to sin again.

Some preachers like to take advantage of this state of the Christian and send them out to talk to the lost in the community. This is usually a good thing for the church, but bad for the Christian. Instead of using the baby Christian to talk to people, the preacher should be teaching the baby Christian how to resist temptation. How to live by the spirit, not by the flesh.

Once we grow as Christians, we should be able to achieve this state a third time. As we grow as Christians, we learn more about using the Holy Spirit to direct and improve our lives. When we do this, we are living by the spirit and we are living “in Christ.” If we live in Christ every day, then there is no sin in our lives, and we are living in righteousness and holiness and in that perfect state. This is what God intended for us from the beginning of the world.

Genesis 2:9 (NKJV)

And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

As you can see from the verse of scripture above, God gave man a choice between His way of life and the sinful live we now want to live.

Yes, God forbid man to eat from the tree of good and evil. However, God left the tree there for man to see.

God also left the tree of life there and allowed man to eat from its fruit. If man had chosen this tree, we would live forever in the presence of God.

We still have that choice. Like Adam and Eve, we have our choice of eternal life and the destruction of darkness.

What have you chosen for your life?

Weekly Word Definition – Sanctification

The definition of Sanctification:

The state of growing in divine grace because of Christian commitment after baptism or conversion (Merriam-Webster)

In the first instance, to sanctify is to regard or declare “Holy” by separating from common usage to the service of God. (Funk & Wagnall’s Bible dictionary)

Hebrews 13:12 (NKJV)

Therefore, Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.

Ephesians 5:26-27 (NRSV)

to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind, yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.

Ephesians 4:23-24 (NIV2011)

to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Sanctification is not some magic trick that God uses to keep us in line. It is the act of regeneration that leads to sanctification. Regeneration is the act of studying God’s word to the point of building a good relationship with God through the Holy Spirit.

We are not sanctified by the act of baptism, laying on of hands, or with some class that we attend. Only the Holy Spirit can help us achieve sanctification. Notice I did not say the Holy Spirit would give us sanctification. The Holy Spirit will only lead us and help us to achieve sanctification.

Why do we need sanctification? Without sanctification, we are just another person in the large pool of society. Just another person bound for the inevitable pool of sinners bound for the permanent punishment of the wicked.

To have sanctification is to be part of a small group of Christians that will live with God in Heaven.

Weekly Devotional – May 1, 2021

Did You Really Forgive?

And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

Hebrews 10:11-18 (NKJV)

How many times have I heard someone who claim they are a Christian say, “I will forgive what they did, but I won’t forget.” If this is their attitude, they may as well not waste their time.

Forgiving is only half the process. We must follow the example set by God. We must also forget what that person did. If we keep the sin committed by another person in our hearts to use against them another time, then we are the sinners, not them.

Paul makes it very clear in the 11th verse above how the repeated reminder of a sin is fruitless. To truly forgive someone, we must also remove it from our heart so our mind can never remember it.

            No one ever said being a Christian was easy. God has never told us we would understand all His ways, He only wants us to trust Him.

            We can’t have salvation on our terms. Salvation is on God’s terms. Remember, we turned our lives over to Him.

How would we feel if God constantly reminded us of the sins we committed? Jesus paid for those sins and took them away.

In the 12th verse above, it states that after He had made one sacrifice for sin, He sat down at the Right Hand of the Father.

Jesus was the only one qualified to make that sacrifice. He is no longer in a position to make sacrifices, therefore, the sin must be forgotten and removed from existence. If there is no sin, there is no need for a sacrifice.

We must forgive and forget. If God can forget, if Christ can forget, who are we to think we can’t?