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Weekly Devotional June 12, 2021

The Wheat Field Murder!

Genesis 4:1-8 (NKJV)

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the LORD.” Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

This was the first case of sibling rivalry. Each wanting to do better than the other. In doing so they could claim superiority over the other. If you look at it closely, sibling rivalry is silly and impossible. Both came from the same seed. How could either one be superior? They may be different, but neither is better than the other.

The envy Cain had for Abel was the cause of his anger. The envy and anger themselves are not a sin (James 1:20), however as you can see, they will often lead to sin. Anger while not a sin, certainly is not an example of righteousness.

The act of killing someone is not a sin. If it were, God would have sinned when He told the Children of Israel to go into the land of Caanan and kill every man, woman, and child in the land. Had the Children of Israel followed the command of God they would not have sinned. However, they disobeyed God because of the doubts and desires of their hearts. Sin can only come from the heart, not the action. Sin is an attitude, not an action.

Cain also experienced the first instance of jealousy. Again, while jealousy is not really a sin, it did lead to a sin and often does. What jealousy is, must be considered a useless and time-wasting act. In this case Cain was jealous because God chose Abel’s gift over his. It was the gift God chose, God didn’t say Abel was better than Cain. Cain’s jealousy was a vain act.

In Jude 1:11, God inspired Jude to use this as a warning to those who seek to make a profit off Christianity. We have many who preach and teach who are not called to do so. These people are not representing God, they are teaching false teachings to profit from the people.

God doesn’t charge people for coming to or being members of the church. Churches need money to pay for the things needed to run the church, but God has never put a price on anything He does in the church, neither should we. The gift of money in the offering should come from the heart of the individual, not the mandate of the pastor.

When trying to find a new church, always talk to the preacher and your teacher away from other people. Ask them why they started preaching or teaching. If their answer is not, “God called me to do so” then always challenge anything they do that involves the receiving of money.

There are wolves in sheep’s clothing in the church now. Ask God for guidance and be careful.

By the way, “God called me to teach/preach His word.”

Weekly Word Definition – Foreigner

A person born in or coming from a country other than one’s own.

The noun Foreigner has 2 senses:

1. a person who comes from a foreign country; someone who does not owe allegiance to your country.

2. someone who is excluded from or is not a member of a group.

What is the difference between Foreigner and alien?
  1. As nouns the difference between foreigner and alien is,
  2. a foreigner is a person from a foreign country.
  3. an alien is a person, animal, plant, or other thing which is from outside the family, group, organization, or territory under consideration.
Who is considered a foreign national?

A foreign national is a person (male or female) that is a legal resident of a country other than the United States. This person may come to the United States throughout the year, whether on vacation or on business, but their primary home is in another country.

Luke 17:17-19 (NKJV)
So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?
Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”
And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

There are people from all over the world that have been promised a place in Heaven. God will not discriminate against anyone who has the faith needed to become a Christian.

Those who desire to go to Heaven must do so through faith in Jesus Christ. Just because we are from the most powerful country in the world today, does not insure us a place in Heaven. Just because we belong to the original church or the largest church in the world does not matter when it comes to going to heaven.

There are no natural citizens in Heaven. There are only foreigners. We cannot buy a place, win a place in Heaven.

Just as the foreigner in verse 19 above, only our faith in Christ will give us a place in Heaven. We are born into this world and people are born into many different countries, however, according to Christ (John chapter 3), we must be born again to go to heaven. We can only reach Heaven through faith and the healing powers of re-birth.

Have a nice day, foreigner.

Weekly Devotional – June 5, 2021

Honor Your Mother and Father

Mark 10:19 (NKJV)

You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ “

The man Jesus was talking to here came running down the road where Jesus walked and knelt down before Jesus. This was a rich young man who (in the eyes of those around him) was living a life of luxury. The young man had heard Jesus as He taught, and the young man wanted to inherit eternal life.

Many people would be skeptical about what the young man thought eternal life was. Jesus didn’t care what the young man’s motives were, so Jesus began to explain.

Jesus’ first statement was “You Know the Commandments.” Then Jesus began telling the young man what he couldn’t do. Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud. These are the things Jesus told the young man he couldn’t do. But Jesus also told the young man one thing that he must do.

Did you know that not honoring your father and mother could keep you from going to Heaven? In fact, there is more. Look at Mark 7:10. Now think back at all those times you were mad at your father or mother because they would not let you do what you wanted to do.

Why should there be such a discussion concerning my opinion of my father and mother? The idea of God looking at my treatment of my father and mother is daunting.

Your father and mother are your first line of authority in your life. How you treat their authority is an example of how you will treat all future authority. If you disobey their authority, then you will be reluctant to obey all other authority.

If you won’t listen to your parents, all others can expect the same. You may listen to them and obey them, but they will always be waiting for you to disobey.

Paul further explains the difference in this statement as a commandment. Paul tells us that it is the first commandment with promise. All the other commandments Jesus quoted were negative statements. “Honor Your Father and Mother is a positive statement. Positive statements give hope and promise to the world.

God has given the world a way to gain His favor.

If you have always honored your parents, you are certainly on the right road to eternity. However, if you are at odds with your parents, there is still time to make amends so there is hope for you after all. Provided you don’t wait.

Weekly Word Definition – Image

A representation of the external form of a person or thing in art.

synonyms: likeness · resemblance · depiction · portrayal · representation · statue

Genesis 1:26 (NKJV)

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.”

The general impression that a person, organization, or product presents to the public. “she strives to project an image of youth.”

synonyms: public perception · public conception · public impression · persona · profile · face · identity · front · facade · portrayal · depiction

Romans 6:4 (NKJV)

Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

To be buried with Christ in Baptism, is to be immersed under the water so that we may imitate the resurrection of Christ. Just as Christ died on the Cross for the sins of the world, we as True Believers are dead to sin and have risen from the waters of baptism a new person. This new person is free from the bondage sin uses to keep us from the life of Christ. This new life is a newness of mind, spirit, and soul.

Romans 8:1 (NKJV)

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

In this verse of scripture, Paul is using the word flesh to represent the Sin Nature. The sin nature does not walk in the ways of God nor Christianity. The sin nature is the constant urge to do things that are not pleasing to God. To do things that waste the short life span we have and to deprive us of the opportunity to worship God.

When Paul refers to the spirit, he could be referring to the Holy Spirit. When we walk according to the spirit, we are following the guidance of the Holy Spirit that lives in us (John 14:17) The Holy Spirit that comes from God and is part of God.

The sin nature is gone because we are dead to sin, and we have put on the New Man because we now have God living in us and the sin nature was replaced by God’s Divine nature (1 Peter 1:4)

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