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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I Timothy 2:1

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.

For further study - I Timothy 2:1-8

Each passage of scripture we select for our daily reading is always laden with additional spiritual application beyond what we focus on for the reading and in my prophetic prospective for that days reading. This is true in today's reading as well.

We are exhorted to pray in our key verse and we are told how to pray. I'll look at this in a moment. Please notice the next verse in our expanded reading, verse 2. The focus of our prayers is to be our political, governmental leaders. We are to pray for them first, before the pastor, the missionary and the evangelist. In other words, pray for the “minister in the government” before the “minister in the church”.

Let me get back to the "how to's" of prayer found in verse 1. “Supplications” are mentioned first in the different aspects of prayer. This is specifically asking for something to happen. Then there are the "prayers." These are prayers that are offered on a 24/7 basis, it's praying without ceasing, I Thessalonians 5:17.

“Intercessions” are prayers we offer to God and are on the behalf of someone who needs to have their name or situation mentioned before the throne of God. The last mentioned type of prayer, “giving of thanks”, should actually be the first prayer offered up to God. We must thank Him before we present our petitions to Him.

Notice again, who we are to pray for first. We are to pray for the kings and all those who are in authority first. These would be political, governmental officials that direct human government in the direction God wants it to go. Remember, God brought human government into existence, Genesis 9:6.

God will use human government, governmental leaders, Revelation 17:17, to accomplish His will and set the world stage for the final drama to play out. In essence, we're talking about God's “prophetic plan” will unfold as He uses human government to direct the world towards the end times.

Therefore, we are to first, pray for those who have the authority. He is preparing this world for the return of His Son and all that follows, as foretold in Bible prophecy.

PRAYER THOT: Help me to remember my priority in my prayer life.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

II Thessalonians 2:3

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.

For further study - II Thessalonians 2:1-12

Our key verse for this devotional, verse 3, has become somewhat controversial. There are those that believe that the Antichrist will come when the "falling away" of the church, apostasy in the Church, has happened. This then seems to be saying that the church will be here when the Antichrist appears.

This belief comes from a wrong understanding of the Greek word used in the passage and translated, " a falling away." The Greek word is "apostasia," which is used one other time in Scripture in the New Testament book of Acts. Acts 21:21 translates apostasia as "forsake." The context is talking about Jews forsaking Moses, or departing from him.

A close and careful word study of the Greek word apostasia will conclude that the true meaning of the word is found in the phrase, “departing from one place and going to another”, not a falling away from the doctrines of the church.

If the word was communicating that apostasy was what it was talking about then the Rapture and the coming of the Antichrist would have happened during the writing of II Thessalonians. Apostasy had infiltrated the early church by the time Paul wrote this passage.

What Paul is saying here is that the Antichrist, the “Son of Perdition”, would not come until the Church departs from one place and goes to another. That is what happens at the Rapture. The scenario for the future according to all prophetic passages is that the Rapture takes all Christians into Heaven and then the Antichrist appears on earth.

This “false messiah” will, at the mid-way point of the seven year Tribulation Period, the coming time of judgment, he will enter Jerusalem. This satanically controlled world leader will enter the Temple in Jerusalem showing himself that he is “God”, verse 4.

Our reading today sets the stage for how events of the Last Days come together. I will deal with the rest of this passage in another future devotional. The Rapture, the Antichrist, and a Temple in Jerusalem are the items that we have discussed today.

Let me remind you that all preparations have been made for the temple to be built in Jerusalem. False teachers and deception presently are a part of our society today, which indicates that Antichrist is nearing his appearance on earth.

Remember, before the appearance of Antichrist and the temple is built, the Rapture happens. Actually the Rapture could happen at any moment. Be ready!

PRAYER THOT: Help me to live today as if this will be the day of the Rapture.
Monday, April 28, 2008

I Thessalonians 2:19

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?

For further study - I Thessalonians 2:1-20

As we read the second chapter of I Thessalonians today, I am reminded that Paul is writing this letter to brand new Christians who at the time of the writing of the letter were only three weeks old in the Lord. One thing I love about Paul in all of his letters is the straightforward approach of helping those he led to the Lord to grow in the Lord.

Paul's message was not one geared to please men but instead to lift up and to honor Jesus Christ, verse 4. Even though Paul was straightforward, he was also gentle even as a nurse that cherished her children, verse 7.

Paul expected these new young converts to walk worthy of the Lord. Throughout all of Paul's writings we see time and time again that we are to walk right and to walk worthy of the Lord.

He exhorted them and us also to walk right, but he also teaches us in his letters how to walk right. Paul, the “father figure” to these Thessalonians, was responsible before the Lord to train them up to serve the Lord.

There is a great thought found in our key verse for today. It is the truth of the “crown” each of us can receive at the Judgment Seat of Christ if we are involved in the ministry that Paul had. Paul’s ministry was soul-winning.Verse 16 declares that the “crown” that we can receive for being a soul-winner is the “Crown of Rejoicing”, verse 19.

This “crown” is one of 5 crowns we can receive at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Paul who also wrote II Corinthians, in chapter 5, verse 9, that he was ambitious to receive all the crowns he could get. The reason for getting these crowns is not to be able to brag about them but to be able to lay them at the feet of Jesus Christ as He sits on His throne in heaven, Revelation 4:10.

We return the crowns received from Christ at the Judgment Seat back to Him in thanksgiving for what He has done for us. Each of us can receive that crown of Rejoicing as we lead needy people to Jesus Christ and see them trust Him for eternal salvation.

PRAYER THOT: Help me, Lord, to be in the business of soul-winning for the sake of those who need a Savior today.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Colossians 1:17

And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.

For further study - Colossians 1:15-29

As we come to our devotional time today we will look at the letter that Paul wrote the people in Colosse, the new church that he had established there, a letter that elaborates our sufficiency in Christ Jesus.

The entire letter is another of the letters that Paul penned during his ministry that would be such a help to the early Christians, as well as to all of us today.

I've been to Colosse, in what is today modern-day Turkey. What remains of the community there is nestled in the mountains high above the area of the church that was located in Laodicea, the area known in Biblical times as Asia Minor.

The area of Colosse today is like the Alps in Europe, breathtaking by it's beauty. Paul reveals to those Christians at Colosse that the beautiful area where they lived had been created by Jesus Christ, verse 16. Jesus created everything and it was created for Him.

We'll take a look at verse 17 in a moment, but first notice what the Lord has done for us by Jesus, through His blood, verse 20. We have been "reconciled" by what Jesus did for us on His cross, verse 21. We who were not in harmony with Jesus, because of our sin, had been alienated from the Lord but by His shedding of blood on the cross we have been "reconciled," brought back into "perfect harmony" with Christ Jesus.

Paul reveals the "mystery" which hath been hid from ages and generations, verse 23, the "church". The "church" is made up of both Gentiles and Jews who have been "born again." That would be all who have trusted in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, that which is the "power of God unto salvation."

Paul told those at the Church in Colosse that because we're born again we have Christ, who "is our hope of glory", verse 27.

Now let me take you back to verse 17. Remember, verse 16 says Jesus Christ created all things in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible, even the angelic creatures, everything was created by Him and for Him.

Verse 17 reveals that all things that Jesus created are being "held together" by Jesus as well, "by Him all things consist", verse 17. That means He holds together every aspect of me as the product of a created being.

The rocks, the mountains, the animals, humankind, by Him all of these things were created. But what holds all of creation together so that today they do not "blow apart"? Jesus is the one who holds all things together. The truth is, one day everything will "blow apart". That's when everything on this earth will "burn up" as foretold in Bible prophecy, II Peter 3:10.

All that Jesus will have to do is release the power that holds everything together and it all burns up, just as Bible prophecy tells us. Then we'll have new heavens and a new earth, the former heavens and earth will burn up. This seems to indicate that Bible prophecy will be fulfilled, seemingly in the near future.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for reconciling me back to You and for holding all of Your creation together until the time of the end.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Philippians 2:16

Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

For further study - Philippians 2:1-16

For a number of years I was in a ministry that used as our key verse and as its theme verse, "holding forth the word of life," Philippians 2:16. I will get back to that great Biblical directive in a moment.

Our extended reading for today is packed with “practical principles” for Christians in a world like ours for today. Remember, Paul is in jail in the household of the Roman Emperor Caesar, Philippians 4:22, and the apostle writes to those he led to the Lord in Philippi how to live this new life.

Let's look at the list of directives Paul passed along to the Philippian Christians and to us for today. Philippians 2:3 reveals to us how to do the work not for our own glory, vainglory, but in lowliness of mind as we look to lift up others.

In fact, Philippians 2:4 tells us not to look out for ourselves but to look to help others. The truth of the matter is that this type of lifestyle can be accomplished only by having a Christ-like mind for thinking right, Philippians 2:5.

Often we have opportunity to learn how to be a leader and fail to look at the one true leader, Jesus Christ, who thought himself of no reputation, and became a servant. Serving others is the true path to leadership. This insight is in Philippians 2:7 which also talks about the “God-man” who came to leadership that way. Obedience, even in the hard task, is the best way to accomplish the ultimate plan.

Philippians 2:8, a passage that shows us that Jesus followed that pattern, is an exhortation for each of us. Philippians 2:14 is one of the hardest verses to appropriate for our daily lives, or at least it is for me.

Paul tells us to do all things, which means "all" things without murmuring and disputing. To follow this profound principle will make us blameless, harmless, and a shining light in our very dark world, Philippians 2:15.

Now we come back to our key verse, Philippians 2:16, which tells us how we must be at the return of our Lord, the day of Christ. We can rejoice in that day and know that we did not run the race of life in vain.

We are prepared for His return as we "hold forth the word of life." It is His word on how to get saved, live our daily lives, and anticipate His return.

Philippians is a great book with personal power for practical people.

PRAYER THOT: Help me to learn practical principles from Your word, dear Lord, and then let Your word produce Your life within me.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ephesians 2:8

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

For further study - Ephesians 2:1-10

What a truth - the message of our key verse in our reading today, verse 8. It is the “grace” of our wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - it is the “grace” by which we are saved. There was no work that I could do to be made pure, only the “blood” of Jesus Christ could cleanse me, and you, and make us whole.

It was God who has made us alive in Jesus Christ and given us the “grace” needed to walk, not after the course of this world according to the prince of the power of the air, but in His power. God's “grace” is that which delivers us from the Satanic power in this world.

By the way, before we leave that thought, notice that the “evil one” is the “prince of the power of the air”. Since the fall of man and the end of the original theocracy, Satan, the devil, has been the “prince of the air”, the ruling entity of this world.

Notice also that even though we are saved by “grace” through faith and not of works lest any of us could boast, there is another side to the story. After our salvation by “grace” and through “faith”, we must “work”. Verse 10 tells us that we have been created in Christ to do “good works” – not “works” to get saved, but “works” because we are saved.

I have said all of this to bring you to the verse that is such a blessing for each of us - verse 6.

Because of His grace made manifest in my salvation and yours, the Lord has in His mind raised us up to Heaven and there to sit with Him on His throne. Now, we recognize that we are on the earth, not in the heavenly places yet. However, God sees us with His Son Jesus on His throne in the heavens.

This is such a precious promise to those of us who have been saved by His “grace”. For a period of time yet, we are still in this evil world under the “prince of the power of the air”, Satan. But our blessed hope is that because of what we have in Christ there is the blessed hope of the future abiding place for each of us who know Him as Lord and Savior.

You remember, do you not, that at the wedding, spoken of by John in Revelation, we as the “bride of Christ” are married to Jesus Christ. Our wedding gowns will be made up of our “righteousness”, Revelation 19:8, which is basically the “righteous acts” or deeds that we do.

Jesus is the one who created us to do these good works, until He comes. All of this as a result of His grace bestowed upon each of us.

PRAYER THOT: Lord because of Your grace, I am saved, but help me to fulfill that which You created me to do as a new creature, to work for you.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Galatians 4:4

But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.

For further study - Galatians 4:1-7

That phrase, "the fullness of time be come in" is the lead-in to what God did, He sent forth His Son for us. Have you ever thought of what is meant by the phrase, "the fullness of time?"

Let me suggest several things to consider. At the first coming of Jesus Christ, the Roman Empire ruled the known world. It is because of the Roman rule that there was a situation in the world for the coming of the Messiah.

For example, there was stability across the known world due to the strength of the Roman government. These days, some 2000 years ago, were days of constant conflict but the mighty Roman army helped to bring a world-wide stability.

The Romans also had an elaborate road system in place that would enhance travel to all parts of the known world. This would allow for the spread of the Gospel message to all parts of the world as the Lord had directed His disciples to do after He departed.

Travel over this road system put in place by the Romans would still need a common currency across the empire so that the travelers could pay their way from place to place as they would spread the message. That common currency was the dinarius.

By the way, in order to spread any message, there needed to be a common language for man to be able to communicate with his fellow man. At this time in history, in the fullness of time, there was the Empire-wide common language of Koine Greek.

The one other factor that would enhance the spread of the gospel would be a meeting place in each town to gather the citizens of that community together to reason with the facts of what Jesus Christ had come to earth to do, to become the Saviour of all of human kind. That meeting place would be the synagogues, which had been built during the time of the Babylonian Empire and were still in operation almost everywhere.

These Jewish worship centers would provide the comfortable venue to discuss the claims of the Gospel and study to see if indeed Jesus Christ was the Messiah He claimed to be and the Saviour promised to the world. In the “fullness of time”, God brought forth His Son to be that Saviour.

This great truth is applicable for today as well - as we look at current events in light of Biblical Prophecy, we can recognize that once again, in the “fullness of time” God will bring forth His Son.

PRAYER THOT: Help me to use my knowledge of Bible Prophecy to explain current events, which show me it is near to the “fullness of time” once again.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008

II Corinthians 5:9

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

For further study - II Corinthians 5:1-9

Paul is writing a word of encouragement to those in Corinth about what the time of death will bring to each of us. Most of us look at death as something to be dreaded, something to be avoided at all cost.

As I remind myself, as well as reminding you also who are reading this devotional, that death is not the “end all”. It is actually the beginning, the beginning of “eternity future”. The Apostle brings to our attention that in our present "tabernacle" our present body, there is groaning.

Let me stop right here. Everyday, as I become aware of another ache or pain that I never have experienced before, I usually spend several minutes or sometimes even several hours worrying about what the discomfort may be and what it could become.

Paul is telling us that we will one day put on a new "tabernacle", a new and wonderful “heavenly body”. Paul talks about confidence and he reminds us of where the confidence comes from.

The Holy Spirit has sealed each of us into the “Body of Christ”. It is the "earnest of the Spirit" that gives us the confidence of where we are and where we will be one day. As we are alive on this earth we are absent from the Lord and we know this by faith, not by sight.

Paul then speaks of another confidence, the confidence that when we die on this earth we go directly into His presence, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, verse 8. At death all born again Christians are transported by angels, Luke 16:22, into the heavenlies, and into His presence.

Now re-read our key verse. Until that victorious time of death when we go into His presence, Paul says He would be ambitious and so should we be the same. Paul wanted to live a life, do the work of the Lord, so that when he saw Him he would be accepted of Him. That should be the same for us, when we see Him we might be accepted of Him.

The very next verse, verse 10, speaks of us then standing at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Paul says he wants to be well-accepted of Christ at that time. This is a Godly ambition, because at the Judgment Seat we are given "crowns" for those works we have done for the Lord, in His power and for His glory.

Then we take these crowns and lay them at His feet as He sits upon His throne, Revelation 4:10, in thanksgiving for all that He has done for us. We must join Paul in this Godly ambition, so that we can give Him the glory.

PRAYER THOT: Help me Lord to live a life that will receive reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ so I can show thanksgiving to You, for all You have done for me, as I cast my crowns at Your feet.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Corinthians 2:9

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

For further study - I Corinthians 2:1-16

I love our key verse, verse 9, it is a promise of things that God will give me and you, if you know Him as Lord and Saviour, things that I can not even imagine. My eyes have not seen them, my ears have not heard them and my heart is void of what these things might be that will come to me in the future.

What we do know is that God has prepared these things. Because I love Him they will come to me. I feel like a little child who has the prospect of receiving “something special” from someone special. In order to receive from God this “something special” we must not only love the Lord, but we must be "born again", become a “new creation”.

Verse 14 states that the "natural man", a lost person without Jesus Christ, will not be able to know about God's gift. Whatever God would count as special, the lost person would consider it all foolishness. The gifts coming from the Lord will be better in focus as we study through the Word of the Lord, the Bible.

Paul explains in this passage the ministry of the Holy Spirit in communicating to the believer what God wants him to know. The first method that God uses to communicate to man is "inspiration," verse 13.

Paul says it wasn't his words and his wisdom but the Holy Spirit breathing into him, as He did into some 40 men over 1,500 years, 66 books, the Bible; with God's message for humankind, II Timothy 3:16.

These "truths" or "revelation" were also God-breathed and given to men, men the Lord Himself chose. None of the prophets received these truths by his own will but were Holy men of God and were able to speak prophetic truth as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, II Peter 1:21.

Maybe the most exciting thought in this passage is that we as Christians have the Holy Spirit living in us to not only empower us but also to teach us through "illumination," a third ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus told His disciples that He must go, but He promised that when He had gone, He would send the Holy Spirit to teach us. And notice, the Holy Spirit would not only teach us but teach us things to come, John 16:7-14.

I must admit that after 50 years of studying God's Word there is much more than I can imagine that the Lord has in store for me, in the future.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you, Lord, for breathing into Godly men, Your Word, and then sending the Holy Spirit, the one who gave men Your Word, to dwell within me and teach me Your Word.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Romans 1:20

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

For further study - Romans 1:19-32

The extended portion of the reading for today is very difficult to read and then apply to our understanding of the Lord's way for us during these days.

The first two verses of our reading for today, including or key verse, reveal to us that all of “mankind” is without excuse, if they reject Jesus Christ. You might say, what about those who have never heard the gospel, the un-reached peoples of this world.

My first response has to be what Paul wrote to the Romans and, in fact, to all of us. All of humankind has the "light of conscience" and the "light of creation". We are all born as sinners but until we sear our conscience we know right from wrong. Also, in God's creation we can see His glory made manifest, Psalm 19.

After these un-reached accept the "light of conscience" and the "light of creation" the Lord will get the message of salvation to them. By the way, this is a great passage for worldwide missions. There are people out there who need to hear, and how can they hear unless we go?

Verses 21-32 discuss a lifestyle that is prevalent today, "man leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their flesh, one toward another, men with men", verse 27. This is referring to a sexual relationship. The passage tells us that woman would do the same, "change the natural use into that which is against nature", verse 26.

Paul explains why this happens in verse 25. It's because mankind "changes the truth of God into a lie and worships and serves the creation more than the Creator". Because of these activities against God and against nature, He will give those who do so over to a “reprobate mind”, verse 28.

Please notice also that Paul warns those who allow this to continue, they are actually sinning against God and nature, they are in a position of receiving judgment as well, verse 32.

Before we conclude our thoughts on this passage I am reminded of a passage of prophetic truth recorded by Dr Luke who wrote the record of the Lord's message, which refer to these days.

The passage in Luke, chapter 17:28-30, speaks of the coming of the Lord back to the earth. The passage describes a day when He comes that will be similar to the "days of Lot". Remember, Lot was one who lived in Sodom.

Remember, the sins of "Sodom", described in our extended reading for today, brought judgment upon the people and Sodom and Gomorrah, which were both destroyed, forever.

We must pay attention to society today, as we study God's prophetic word, ie: Luke's record of the words of Jesus. We must realize where we are in God's time. These days are as it was in the “days of Lot”. It seems that we are quickly approaching the day when Jesus will shout and call us to join Him in the heavenlies. Today could be that day.

PRAYER THOT: Lord, help me to discern the times and to realize that your coming is very close. Help me to live my life in light of this knowledge.