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Friday, February 29, 2008

James 1:12

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

For further study - James 1:1-12

In the passage for our devotional reading today we learn about one of the crowns we shall receive at the “Judgment Seat of Christ”. It is the "crown of life," spoken of in our key verse, verse 12. The promise is that we are qualified to receive this “crown of life” if when we are tempted or tested, we endure the temptation and not yield to it. This is a great promise to each of us because each of us will face temptation in the future.

We could conclude our devotional for today, close the Bible and go away rejoicing over the “crown of life” we have coming to us. But wait, there is much more in our reading for today. Let me mention a few blessings for us in this portion of God's precious Word.

There is a way to have “joy”, not happiness based upon happenings, but joy based upon Him. He says count it all joy when we are tested; we must know that this testing is for the development of our “patience”. Oh how I need patience, and I want it right now!

Remember, the testing, which works out patience is for developing us into mature and complete Christians, verse 4. In addition to becoming a mature, complete Christian through testing and patience, we can receive from Him, “wisdom”. All we have to do is ask Him for wisdom. He will give it to us who ask Him for it.

Have you noticed how we are prepared to receive that “crown of life” for enduring and not yielding to temptation? We start by first being confronted by temptation, which makes us patient, mature and complete in Christ.

After He has provided for us to be prepared to face and stand up to temptation, He gives us a crown for doing what He has prepared for us to do. Our Lord is preparing and providing all we will need when we face Him at the Judgment Seat of Christ. What a wonderful Lord He is to us.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for providing a way to endure temptation and testing and the promise that I will receive a “crown of life” as I utilize what you have provided .

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hebrews 1:3

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.

For further study - Hebrews 1:1-14

I could hardly wait to get to the book of Hebrews for our devotional thought for today. As we will have opportunities to go to all the books of the Bible for a devotional thought, I will look forward to the next time through the scripture when we will come again to Hebrews.

Now having said that, let's look at the first chapter of this book of the unknown author, unknown but believed by many to be the apostle Paul. That is a debate for another time. We do know that whoever the human author was, he had the entire book "breathed into" him by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the person of the God-head who inspired the human authors, some 40 of them, over 1,500 years. These men wrote 66 books that have no contradiction and all of the authors speak of the Lord's plan for humankind throughout all the ages.

God, in the past, did raise up the ancient Jewish prophets to speak His word to us. But, as the text says, “in these last days has spoken to us by His Son”. Our key verse tells us where Jesus is, today. He is now seated at the right-hand of the Father in the 3rd heaven.

This is an important truth. It tells us that Jesus is not on His throne, which is yet to come, in an earthly kingdom that will be set up in Jerusalem. This is key to understanding what the future holds for our Lord. His kingdom is yet to come.

There is another precious truth in this first chapter of Hebrews. The reading today explains to us that Jesus is so much better than angels, verse 4. The entire chapter tells us how superior Jesus is to angels who were created by Him.

However, there is a blessing for us with the creation of angels, they are all “ministering spirits”, sent by the Lord to minister to us who are heirs of the salvation that Jesus provides.

These angels are to guard over us, to take us into His presence when we die, and to be “fellow servants” with us in our ministry for Him. By the way, when He does leave the right-hand of the Father to come for us to join Him, the angels will come with Him. I would love to see Him and His angels today.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for dispatching angels to minister to us!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Philemon 1:10

I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds.

For further study - Philemon 1:1-25

It is true that there is no prophetic passage found in the book of Philemon. However, in this little New Testament book, I find Paul as our example of how to work towards a crown that will be given to some at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is the "Crown of Glory" spoken of in I Peter 1:1-4.

The “Crown of Glory” is given to those who are always ready to step up to “feed the flock”, to build them up in the things of the Lord. Peter reveals that we do not serve as "feeders of the flock" for filthy lucre and not by constraint, I Peter 5:2. Peter's exhortation is for us to be an example to the flock.

You know that is what Paul is doing in Philemon. Paul is showing Philemon, by example, how to deal with a former servant of Philemon, the person who stole from him and then fled to Rome, the servant Onesimus.

When Onesimus arrived in Rome, he made contact with Paul and was converted to Christianity. Paul knew the circumstances surrounding the relationship between Philemon and Onesimus, and he is used of the Lord to develop Onesimus into a very profitable brother in the Lord.

Next, Paul having built into the life of the “servant”, now wants to build into the life of his former owner, the one who had been violated. Paul writes to Philemon requesting that he take back his former employee, one who could be very profitable to him in the future, verse 11.

Paul is working towards that “Crown of Glory” Peter wrote about, as he works with both Philemon and Onesimus. Paul was ambitious for these crowns, II Corinthians 5:9, because he knew that these crowns would one day be presented back to the Lord Jesus in thanksgiving for what He has done for us, Revelation 4:10.

The “Crown of Glory” is only one of five crowns we can receive at the Judgment Seat of Christ. We receive a “crown incorruptible” for bringing our body under subjection, I Corinthians 9:27. We will be rewarded a “crown of rejoicing” for being a soul winner, I Thessalonians 2:19. There is the “crown of life” for not yielding to temptation, James 1:12. There is also the “crown of righteousness” for loving the appearance of Jesus Christ as the Rapture, II Timothy 4:8.

In Philemon, Paul, by example, helps us to understand how to receive the “Crown of Glory”.

PRAYER THOT: Lord help me to work towards attaining all five of the crowns so that I can give them back to you in thanksgiving.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Titus 1:1-2

Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.

For further study - Titus 1:1-16

As we come to the book of Titus for our devotional today, there is one portion of this very important instruction from Paul to the church and it’s leadership that immediately comes to my mind. I am referring to Titus 2:12-13. These two verses tell us how to lay aside things that are bad and live that which is good. We do both, the negative and the positive as we are looking for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ.

For another devotional, I'll spend time developing that formula for life in the last days. However, let us look with you now for the instruction Paul gives the local church in the last days.

Paul had commissioned Titus to travel to the churches and make certain they had good leadership and were defending the faith against the apostasy of that day. God's plan for winning the lost to Him is the operation of a local church. The local church has a two-fold ministry, evangelism and education. We must win them and then grow them in the things of the Lord.

Paul would send Titus to the different churches to ordain elders, the leaders of the local assemblies, verse 5. These men had to meet certain qualifications, verses 6-8, and be men who hold fast the “faithful word of God”. These men were to teach others as they had been taught so that all members at that local church might have the right doctrines to stand up against false teachers and false teachings.

Paul warned Titus that even in the local church there would be those deceivers that church leadership must deal with as these “false prophets” endeavored to spread their “false doctrine”.

In light of the central theme of Titus, “how to live right as we await the coming of Jesus Christ”, the local assembly must have Biblical leadership in place to teach the right doctrine as we approach the soon coming of Christ. This warning of false doctrine, false teaching, and deception is the number one sign of the second coming of Jesus Christ, Matthew 24:4,5,11 & 24.

Please do remember, that the Rapture precedes the Second Coming by seven years. The Rapture could happen today!

PRAYER THOT: Help me to understand right doctrine, especially as we approach the time of Your return.

Monday, February 25, 2008

II Timothy 1:9

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.

For further study - II Timothy 1:6-13

Paul, in this letter of instruction to young Timothy, is encouraging his young partner in ministry. He first tells Timothy of the salvation and call of the Lord upon both of them. He reminds his young partner that the Lord does what he does for His own purpose and by His grace, and all of this done in His mind before the world began.

How thrilling it is that the creator of all things, the Lord Jesus Christ, has purposed a calling for each of us, and He did this before our birth, before we were even formed in the womb. He did this before the world began, in eternity past.

Verse 12 in our expanded reading speaks of the future, the day of His return, "that day." Here we are encouraged to understand why we have to sometimes suffer in this world. Paul himself said that he suffered and was not ashamed to do so.

The reason that is possible is because we can know whom we have believed and we can be persuaded that He is able to keep that which we commit to Him until the day of His return.

The basis upon which this is all true is His death, burial, and resurrection, verse 10. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the “cornerstone” of our faith. There is enough evidence that this event, the resurrection, did take place almost 2000 years ago, that the verdict has to be, Jesus Christ is guilty of resurrecting from the dead, abolishing death and bringing to us life and immortality.

Not only is the resurrection the cornerstone of our faith, it is the foundation of Bible prophecy. Revelation 1:18 is the record of the testimony of Jesus that He was alive, dead, and then alive. The death of Jesus was for the washing away of our sin. His resurrection was proof that He was the one who could take away our sin.

The resurrection of Jesus also is the basis upon which He can reveal to us the future as we serve Him until "that day," verse 12. This is our help to ward off the “spirit of fear” and embrace the “spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”, until He does come again.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for your call and purpose for me that you will have happen until that day!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Timothy 1:15

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

For further study - I Timothy 1:12-20

The key verse for our devotional reading today,I Timothy 1:15, was written by Paul near the end of his ministry. His statement speaks volumes of how the apostle had grown in his own life during almost 30 years of ministry.

I am reminded that early in Paul's ministry he referred to himself as "the least of the apostles," I Corinthians 15:9. About half way through his thirty years of ministry, Paul realized that he was "the least of the saints," Ephesians 3:8. Now, towards the end of his ministry, Paul realizes that he is the "chief of all sinners."

It is true, that the closer we get to Jesus, the worse we see ourselves to be. Remember, the way we get close to Him today is by talking to Him and allowing Him to talk to us.

We talk to Him in prayer, which Paul tells us to do, “without ceasing”. The Lord talks to us through His Word, and this is one of the reasons to have a time everyday when you study the scriptures.

First and Second Timothy are referred to as the "pastoral epistles." The author of these "pastors' manuals" gives his young partner in the ministry, Timothy, the instruction that must be passed along to the leaders of the churches that are springing up all over the known world at that time.

Young Timothy is to travel to these churches and assist them in the selection of a leadership team and the training of these newly elected leaders in the proper method of administration in the local church.

God has selected to reach the world through local churches that are planted around the world. The Lord has a way and a plan that these churches must minister.

In both First and Second Timothy, Paul gives the warning to the churches, and all of us that read his instructions, He tells us that the Lord's Return is near. Paul believed that the time when Christ would call us to be with Him in the Rapture was very close at hand.

Remember, when Paul was writing to the Thessalonians about the Rapture, I Thessalonians 4:15-18, he kept using the word "we," believing that in his lifetime he would see the Rapture of the Church. That was almost 2000 years ago. How much closer we must be to the Rapture now.

That is why Paul wanted the church to be operating in a godly fashion, thus Paul's instruction to young Timothy. He charges Timothy to remember his instruction and his study of prophecy, and to "war a good warfare," I Timothy 1:18.

That is how we must live and administer our churches, always moving forward in light of the soon coming of Jesus Christ. The evidence is very clear, The Rapture can happen at any moment, perhaps today.

PRAYER THOT: Lord, help my attitude to be as Paul's was, just a sinner saved by grace awaiting the shout to join You in the heavenlies.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

II Thessalonians 1:3

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;

For further study - II Thessalonians 1:1-12

As we now come to this second letter to the Christians in Thessalonica, it seems Paul evidently writes it very soon after his first letter to the church.

There would be much said in this letter about the Second Coming, including the time of the coming of the “Anti-christ”, how the church would be spiritually at that time and what would happen to those who had heard the gospel message, understood the gospel message, and then "rejected" the love of the truth that they might be saved, II Thessalonians 2:10-12.

Paul, however, starts his letter with thanksgiving to God for the word coming to him of the spiritual life of the Thessalonians. Paul was so pleased that he had heard of their faith that was growing, as he stated it, "exceedingly", verse 3.

Also in verse three we find out how their love for each other was increasing and in fact, "abundantly". Paul also realizes their "patience" even during times of persecution and trouble for these new Christians and how they were able to "endure".

This is an excellent list of objectives for each of us "older Christians", a growing faith, love for each other, patience and ability to endure persecution.

Paul then encourages the Thessalonians with the fact that the Lord will bring judgment upon all those who were persecuting them, "when He shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels", verse 7.

Verses 5-9 indicate that when Jesus comes back this next time, He will come as the "judge". People don't want to hear of Jesus as the "judge". His righteousness, however, demands that He judge sin.

Peter, in II Peter 3, wrote that people would deny the coming of the Lord because they do not want to face judgment. Jesus came as the 'lamb," our sacrifice for sin, but He is also coming as the "Lion of Judah," the coming judge.

Paul then tells the Thessalonians that his prayer for them is that the "name of Jesus Christ would be glorified in them." verse 12.

That must be our goal, our lives glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ.

PRAYER THOT: Lord help me to live a life that is growing in faith, loving others, patient, enduring persecution and glorifying You, dear Jesus.
Friday, February 22, 2008

I Thessalonians 1:10

And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

For further study - I Thessalonians 1:1-10

The extended reading today is another example of the “heart of love” Paul has for those he had led to the Lord or had a ministry in their lives. Paul must have been a real man of prayer. We read over and over again of his prayers for the brethren. Also he is always thanking the Lord for brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul sets the example for a good, and faithful minister to people.

All that I've written is true but the blessings of the truths from the one key verse will take up my space with you for this devotional. Stop a moment and reflect on what the verse says, we "are to wait for His Son to return from heaven." Just think of some of what that means.

Jesus said in the upper room that He was going to Heaven to "prepare a place for us", John 14:2. This place is in His Father's house and He is getting our place ready so that we can dwell together, forever. The Lord exhorted us to watch for Him, because we know not which hour He comes, the spiritual application for us from Matthew 24:42.

As we watch for Him to come from Heaven we are also to pray, Matthew 26:41, so that we will not enter into temptation. What an amazing formula for our daily life, we can have victory over temptation by being watchful for our Lord to come back from Heaven as we watch and as we pray.

Also in verse 10 is the fact that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, by His Father, the most High God. The Resurrection is the “cornerstone” of our faith and the “foundation” of Bible prophecy. It was recorded in Revelation 1:18, that Jesus testified of His Resurrection, after His death. Sometime, look at Revelation 1:19. The Lord, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ tells John the Revelator to write down what was to come, that's prophecy.

The last phrase in verse 10 is a promise that we as Christians will not enter into the terrible time of judgment to come, the seven year Tribulation Period as described in Revelation 4:2 through 19:10. In our verse for today He promises us He will deliver us from that "wrath to come." There is a “judgment period”, yet to come. What a promise!

This passage is a parallel passage to two others, I Thessalonians 5:9 and Revelation 3:10. The book of I Thessalonians is crammed full of prophetic passages, which we will get to in future devotionals. Please notice the truth of the Rapture, I Thessalonians 4:13-18, which explains how He will keep us from the wrath to come. By the way, the Rapture could happen today.

PRAYER THOT: Help me to be pure and productive as I wait for Jesus to come from heaven for me.
Thursday, February 21, 2008

Colossians 1:16

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

For further study - Colossians 1:9-19

As I read the extended portion of our devotional today I can hardly contain myself. His glorious power, Colossians 1:11, has given us all long suffering and patience, with joyfulness. Verse 12 says we are “partakers of the inheritance of the saints”.

We've been delivered from the power of darkness. We have been redeemed through His shed blood, which means we have the forgiveness of our sins. Then He reveals to us how He can grant all these things to us, He is the Creator of all things,verse 16.

Our key verse for today tells us that by Him, by Jesus Christ, “all things” were created. That's “all things” in the heavens and on the earth. All things in creation that are visible to us, and those things we cannot see, the invisible things of this world, He created.

Look at the last words of verse 16, "all things were created by Him, and for Him." I have a note beside this verse in my Bible, “a created one cannot be the Creator". I don't remember where I got that thought from, but it is true.

It seems like the world today is made up of a bunch of “creators”, not the “created ones”. For sure the “created” are not living in light of the fact that the verse says,” all things were created for Him."

The basis for all prophetic truth in the Bible is the reality that the Creator, Jesus Christ, knows the beginning from the end. He is the only One who can tell us what will happen in the future.

Notice verse 17, "and by Him all things consist." He not only brought everything into existence, but He keeps everything together today. He is in charge and has a plan for the world and for each of us in this world.

The last verse in our reading, verse 18 tells it all. The final events in history happen so that He might have the pre-eminence over, and with His creation.

We started these thoughts with what we have in Him and conclude with each of us as the creation giving Him the pre-eminence. We can do that because of what we have in Him.

It is great that the Creator loves us enough to tell us in the prophetic passages of scripture what will happen as we prepare for His return to be the pre-eminent One.

Remember, the creation brought forth by the Creator is the basis for all of prophetic truth. He has a plan for His creation and He let's us know what it is in His Word. What a wonderful Creator.

PRAYER THOT: Help me to remember, that You, Jesus, created man, ultimately me, for Your own purpose and Your glory.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Philippians 1:23

For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.

For further study - Philippians 1:8-23

I have a study that I teach on the book of Philippians, "Personal Power for Practical People from Philippians," a study that helped me to developed Biblical principles in my own personal life. As you read through this book it becomes very apparent that the author of the book, Paul, had a great love for this people living in Philippi.

Notice verse 8 of our extended reading how Paul longed for these people. Paul wanted them to be sincere and without offense until the day that Jesus Christ comes back to earth, verse 9.

When Paul wrote this book, he was a prisoner in jail in Rome, actually in Caesar's house, Philippians 4:22. Verses 15-17 reveals to us that Christ was being preached in “contention and conflict”. Christ was also being preached out of “envy and strife”. Paul's attitude was, praise the Lord, Christ is, in fact, being preached, verse 18.

Am I not correct, this message written by Paul is for “practical people”, with the promise of power to face all of our problems. However, at the same time, Paul was facing a conflict. The conflict that Paul faced was His desire to go and be with the Lord, which would be to his gain, verse 21. At the same time, Paul knew that if he stayed on earth he would continue to minister to the people.

Paul's words are evidence of his love for the people. He was willing to give up going to be with Christ in order to minister to the people in Philippi.

Remember, in this passage, Paul's housing was provided for by the Roman government. Paul was a prisoner in Caesar's household, most likely chained to a Roman guard on a daily basis. But just think, that would have given Paul a "captive" audience to hear the gospel every day, therefore, for Paul to live was Christ, verse 20.

Paul wrote the people of Philippi about ten years after he wrote the Thessalonians about the “Rapture of the Church”, I Thessalonians 4:13-18. Paul was not only conscious that in preaching he could face death soon, but he was expecting the Rapture to happen at anytime.

You can notice the "we" statements when referring to the time of the Rapture, I Thessalonians 4:14, 15 and 17. Paul thought the Rapture would happen in His day. These truths had to be in his mind, as well, when he wrote the people at Philippi.

Stop and think for a moment. If Paul believed the Rapture would happen in his day, how much more should we look for the Rapture in our day, 2000 years after Paul.

PRAYER THOT: Help me to be as Paul and live as if the Rapture will happen in my day.