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Thursday, February 28, 2013

I Peter 4:17

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
For further study - I Peter 4:1-19

The Apostle Peter had a very close relationship with Jesus even though Peter was often in trouble with the Lord. There are a number of examples that I could bring to your attention, let me just remind you of one.

At Caesarea Philippi, in the foothills of Mt Hermon, at the pronouncement by Peter that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, Matthew 16, is that one example. Those lips that praised the Lord, a few moments later, would be used to rebuke the Lord.

When Jesus told His disciples that He would have to go to Jerusalem and there be put to death, Peter, the text tells us, rebuked the Lord. The Lord's response was "get behind me Satan",Matthew 16:22-23.Peter was quite the character. As we read I Peter we see that this Apostle had matured and was able to be used of the Lord to remind the body of Christ that "judgment" is coming. The judgment of the "works of Christians."

One of the great past-times of Christians today is judging others. Paul told the Romans to not do that, Romans 14:10. We should not judge others. We must remember that we "all" will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ one day.

Peter goes one better than Paul, he says all judgment must start at the Church, "the house of God." In verse 5 of I Peter 4, Peter also reminds each of us that we will all give an account of ourselves to Jesus.

It is so important for us to remember that there is a "judgment day" ahead. It's not for judging to see if we're saved, that's already been determined before we get to the Judgment Seat of Christ.

This judgment is to determine if our "works" receive "rewards" for doing good works in His power and for His glory.

Bible prophecy, if studied, will reveal to each of us, every day, how close we are to the Rapture when Jesus shouts and calls us up into the heavenlies to be with Him forever. It is within this chapter of I Peter that we can find out how we can, and must live in the end times.

In fact, Peter reminds the readers of this book that the "end times are close, at hand," verse 7. This verse means that the Rapture is an "any moment" event. The days that we are living in now seemingly are the days leading up to the Rapture.

Verse 8 says we must love each other, it covers a multitude of sins. We are also to welcome people into our homes and use hospitality with those from without, verse 9. This hospitality must be done with joy, not grudgingly.

These "how-to-live tips" will prepare us for the Judgment Seat to follow right after the Rapture of the Church. This is an event that could happen at "any moment", maybe today. Keep looking up.

PRAYER THOT: Lord, help me to remember that one day I will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and thank You for the instruction given to us from You through Peter on how I am to live as I await Your shout to join You in the heavenlies.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I Peter 3:22

Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
For further study - I Peter 3:1-22

Our key verse for our devotional reading today, verse 22, tells us where Jesus is right now. I want us to think about this verse in a moment. But first might we peruse the rest of the chapter, our extended reading for today.

Peter tells us, those of us who are husbands or wives, how we are to live with our mate. Verses 1-6 address how the wife should live, in "subjection" to her own husband.

Now the word "subjection" is not a bad word. The Lord speaks of His being "subject" unto His Father. The Word also tells us that we should be "subject" to those who are placed over us in higher authority, in leadership roles in the church and/or in the political arena.

God has a plan for each of us and the wife is to be "subject" to her own husband. Peter then addresses the husband, now that would be me, and those of you who are husbands.

Verse 7 reveals how I, as a husband, and all of you reading these verses who are husbands, must live. We must "honor" our wives lest our prayers be "hindered".

The word "honor" has the instruction within its meaning that says we must "lift up" our wives, place them on a pedestal, give each of them "respect."

If we fail to follow the Lord's directives our prayers will be hindered. By the way, notice that as we live our lives together, the Lord's eyes are upon us, He knows all that we are doing in our husband-wife relationship.

Verse 15 is an exhortation for each of us to have a ready answer to everyone that asks us of our reason for the "hope" that is within our lives. The answer of course is that the "blessed hope" is the truth of the "glorious appearing of Jesus Christ" in the future, seemingly the near future,Titus 2:13.

There is much more in these verses but look once again with me to our key verse, verse 22. Jesus is now in heaven, not on the throne that the "Most High God" will give Him one day, but instead Jesus is "seated at the right hand of God", interceding for each of us.

One day God will give Jesus Christ the "dominion over all of creation." The "kingdom" and His "kingship" comes about when Jesus returns to the earth from the heavenlies to set up His Kingdom.

PRAYER THOT: Help me Lord to be the husband that Your Word tells me I should be, until You come.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I Peter 2:9

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

For further study - I Peter 2:1-10

Right out of the gate in I Peter 2, the apostle helps each of us know how to "grow" in our relationship with Jesus. Peter first informed us of what to "lay aside". The list of items Peter mentions will be the activities that will harm or at least hinder our growth.

These activities to be removed – "malice, guile, hypocrisies, envies, and evil speaking" cause a slowdown in our advancement in the Christian lifestyle the Lord wants each of us to have in Him.

Next, Peter exhorts us to "desire the sincere milk of the Word" that we might be able to "grow'. Notice Peter did not say the "meat" of the Word, a real deep study of the Word of God. What he mentioned was the "milk" of the Word. "Meat" is for "grownups" and "milk" is for those young in the Lord. Now, age here is not talking about how long you have been saved, but how mature you and I might be in the Lord.

From verse 2 we look over at verse 9. This is a logical path to follow as we partake of the milk of the Word so that we can "grow." Then we "show" forth the one who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. But please look again at verse 9.

You might recognize the phrasing as something you read in the Old Testament and you would be correct. Just before the Lord met with Moses to give him the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, in Exodus 19 the Lord tells Moses that the Jewish people have a special calling and He has set them aside for His purpose.

Look at Exodus 19:5-6. The Lord tells Moses the Jewish people are a "peculiar treasure", a "people above all people", a "kingdom of priests", and a “holy nation”. It does sound very similar to I Peter 2:9. What God does when His chosen people, the Jewish people, are disobedient and run away from God's plan for their lives, He then turns to Christians to carry forth the message.

There are some slight changes in the 4 descriptions of the people God wants to use to reach the world but the same game plan is in play. When the Jews rejected Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Savior of the world, He set the Jews aside and gave the present-day ministry to Christians. Remember, I said "set aside" not replaced them.

God still has a plan for the Jews as spoken to Moses in Exodus 19. After the Rapture, during the seven year Tribulation Period, the Lord will re-commission the Jews to "show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light".

PRAYER THOT: Help me, dear Lord, to "grow" so that I may "show."
Monday, February 25, 2013

I Peter 1:13

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

For further study - I Peter 1:13-25

I do want you to read all thirteen verses of our extended reading for today; however, we will focus on the first three verses of our devotional for our time in the Word.

Let me remind you, as I reminded myself as I read these verses, that our "new birth", the fact that we have been "born again", that we are saved means that we should live a "lifestyle of holiness".

The first three verses of our extended reading will set us on the way to that kind of a lifestyle. Peter actually gives us five pointed exhortations that should bring us in line with a daily experience of "holy living."

In verse 13 we see the first three exhortations. "Gird up the loins of your mind" is saying prepare your minds for "action". There is much we cannot control in life but we can control our "minds".

Paul told us to "think right", Philippians 4:8. Paul said to think on things pure, true, honest, lovely, good and just. We are to think on these things. When we "think right" we are "girding up our minds", preparing them for "action".

Peter then tells us to "be sober" which means to be "self-controlled". We are to "hope to the end" when Jesus Christ comes back, when He is revealed. His return is our "blessed hope" and that motivation for us to "lay aside" that which is not Godly and "live" that which is "Godly," as we "look" for Him to come.

Verse 14 tells us to "be obedient" to the Lord and don't walk in the lifestyle of the "former lust" that can take us astray. In other words, be not conformed to previous evil desires.

The fifth exhortation from Peter is the central theme of this passage, "be ye holy", verse 15. Holiness is what the Lord expects of each of us. This is true because He is "holy", and we are to be conformed to His image.

Holiness is to penetrate "all manner of conversation". That's not referring only to how we talk but our entire lifestyle should reveal holiness, even as He is holy.

Remember, this is possible as we prepare our minds, live under self-control, stay away from former lust, and look for the coming of Jesus. By the way, that coming of Jesus could be today!

PRAYER THOT: Dear Lord, help me to think right, live self-controlled, stay away from evil desires and be holy as I await Your soon return.
Sunday, February 24, 2013

James 4:7

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

For further study - James 4:1-17

This fourth chapter of James is a "manual" on how to live in the last days. Please join with me in this devotional reading to learn how to apply the directives for living in light of the sure "promise" that Jesus is coming to call us up to be with Him, and the sure "prospect" that the Rapture will happen real soon, at any moment.

Jesus said, one of the indications that His Second Coming is close is that there will be a time when you see "wars and rumors of wars", Matthew 24:6. James, the half brother of Jesus states that these wars come from the "lust that war in our members", within the soul of each of us, lost and saved.

The "lusts" within each of us must be kept under control lest they take control of us. How wonderful that God gives us the "grace" to have a victory over these lusts. And please notice, God gives more "grace" to those of us who humble ourselves before the Lord and our fellow man, verses 6 & 10.

Many scriptures, and especially in the book of Revelation, speak of the Devil in the last days. The Devil will do everything he can to destroy the Jewish people, he knows if he can get rid of the Jews, the Lord can't keep His promises to them and Satan becomes the "god".

The Devil, also in the last days, will go after Christians, the true born-again believer, in the days before Jesus calls up to be with Him at the Rapture. James gives us the "how-to's" of what we must do to have victory over Satan, in verse 7.

Notice we are not told to command the Devil to do anything. We are to "submit ourselves to God and resist the devil." Then, on the promise and the authority of God's Word, the devil will flee from us.

To submit is to offer ourselves in full surrender to the Lord. This devotional reading for today is indeed an excellent "manual" for living in the last days.

PRAYER THOT: Lord help me to submit myself totally to You so that the lust of the flesh don't control me and so that the Devil will have to flee from me.
Saturday, February 23, 2013

James 2:22

Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

For further study - James 2:1-26 

The second chapter of James is a very interesting chapter in the little book of James. Remember, James was the half-brother of Jesus Christ and also the leader of the first Church in Jerusalem.

In essence, the entire book of James has as its theme, "faith without works is dead". This second chapter of James' letter is really focused on "faith" and "works". The word "faith" is used 12 times and the word "works", 11 times.

The phrase connecting "faith" and "works" is used 5 times. You might remember that Paul, when he wrote Galatians, lifted up "faith" as the vehicle through which we come to salvation.

That, of course, is true which Paul reveals to us in another of his letters that he wrote to the Ephesians. Ephesians 2:8-9 is the foundation for salvation, "we are saved by grace... through faith, it's a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast."

Paul in both Galatians and Ephesians draws attention to "faith"; however, please notice Paul's statement about works in Ephesians 2:10. Those who are saved by grace through faith are then "created in Jesus Christ unto good works."

This is where James comes into focus, especially in the second chapter. James believes that it's "faith" but he says that "true faith" will result in works "which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them," Ephesians 2:10b.

God defines "faith" as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen", Hebrews 11:1. Paul, in the book of Romans, chapter ten, verse seventeen says that "faith cometh by hearing, hearing by the Word of God." God, through His Word, gives us the faith by which we come to salvation.

James believes that everybody can talk a great case and say that they have "faith", in fact, a "saving faith". James tells us that type of "faith", "real faith" will always result in works.

Please don't misunderstand, in this passage of scripture James does not put "works" before "faith" but "faith" that produces "works".

James 2 is a great chapter to be used as a "check" on our "faith". By the way, James does mention that at the Judgment Seat of Christ, right after the Rapture, the Lord will judge us on our "works", not our salvation.

The conclusion of the Judgment Seat is to determine the crowns we will receive, and also the "righteous acts", Revelation 19:8, that make up our "wedding garment" at the marriage ceremony that will join us, the "bride of Christ" into an eternal relationship with Jesus Christ, the "Bridegroom".

The exhortation from James for us today is, "Lets get to work."

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for the "faith" I receive from Your Word, help me to turn that "faith" into "works" for Your glory.
Friday, February 22, 2013

James 1:22

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

For further study - James 1:13-27

Have you ever noticed how practical the Bible is? What a foolish question, of course you have noticed that it is very practical if you have spent any time at all reading through it's pages. I must say that our extended reading for today fits the description of being "practical".

Remember the last reading we had in devotions from James was the first twelve verses of James 1, ending with the promise of the prize, the "Crown of Life" given to those of us who endure temptation. Enduring temptation, in other words, is not yielding to temptation. That "Crown of Life" is given at the  Judgment Seat of Christ.

Now as we read this "practical passage" for our devotional today, we see how to stand against temptation, to be able to endure temptation. Our key verse, verse 22, is a great starting point for being able to endure temptation.

Remember what the Psalmist wrote in 119:11, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."

The first step to not yielding to temptation is to hide the Word of God in our hearts. But then we must be "doers" of that Word and not "hearers" only. If we only "hear" and we are not "doers", we have deceived ourselves.

This is very practical. Verse 14 tells us that our "lust" draws us away from the right lifestyle that we must live to be able to receive that "Crown of Life". "Lust" is a craving, a longing, a desire for that which is forbidden by the Lord.

The Apostle John wrote, I John 2:15-16, that a "love for the world" and the "things of the world" causes us to enter into temptation, through the "lust of our eyes" and the "lust of our flesh". Lust starts with the eyes, we must guard our eyes because the Word tells us to do so. Remember, to be a "doer" of the Word, not a "hearer" only.

Every time I select a passage of scripture for our devotional reading I am amazed how much there is contained within that passage for us to be able to appropriate and live out in our lives.

I've barely shared all that is contained in our reading for today. Please spend more time in this passage. As you do you will see how we can prepare so that we will receive the "Crown of Life" for not yielding to temptation at the Judgment Seat of Christ which takes place right after the rapture as we stand face to face with Jesus.

By the way, the rapture could happen today, keep looking up!

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord, for your practical Word given to me. Please help me to be a "doer" of this Word and not a "hearer" only.
Thursday, February 21, 2013

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 .
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

For further study - Hebrews 13:1-14

I have come to the conclusion that Paul wrote the book of Hebrews, but I won't argue with you about it. The truth is that whoever the human penman was, the Holy Spirit "breathed" the Word into the author. This reality helps me to realize that God is the one speaking to me through this human scribe.

With that in mind, I now approach today's devotional reading, the key verse and the extended reading, with a heart that must be receptive to God's instructions, correction, doctrine and all that is good for me so that I can be the man of God He wants me to be in our world today.

I don't have to guess about how He wants me to live each day of my life. As I read this passage I am instructed, exhorted and encouraged as I read. I must continue in "brotherly love", verse 1. I could have the opportunity to entertain angels, thinking they were strangers, verse 2.

God has given me, and my wife of 53 years, something "honorable", marriage. I should not live a life of "wanting" but be "content" because all my needs are met by Him, the one who will not forsake me, verse 5.

I will not fear what man can do to me, verse 6. The Lord tells me to honor, remember those who have the "rule over me", verse 7. Those over me are responsible to God for their "watch-care" over me.

Verse 9 exhorts us to be not carried away by every whim of "doctrine". God uses "doctrine", in His Word, to teach me through His Word. Every instruction, exhortation and promise is because of verse 8.

The great promise of this chapter is that Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, is the very same every day; yesterday, today, and everyday in the future.

There's one last verse to ponder, verse 14. This old world can offer us no great city; however, there is one that can do everything that "we seek to come", that New Jerusalem, Revelation 21.

I can't even begin to tell you of that "coming city", all that I can say is that the "New Jerusalem", the "city to come", is better than anything in this present world.

The instructions in our devotional reading for today are those activities that will help us make preparations for that "city to come".

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for not leaving me in the dark as to how I should be living for you now and into the future in that "city to come".
Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hebrews 12:2

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For further study - Hebrews 12:1-15

Today, as I read through the extended passage for our devotional, I realized again how practical the Word of God is for us as we travel the pathway of our lives on our journey to go to be with Jesus Christ, forever.

This passage in Hebrews is especially practical and prophetic, as well. I'm sure you will be able to pick up on how many practical truths you can find in these fifteen verses. I'll only highlight a few so that we can rejoice together on how the Lord inspires men to record His Word for us to appropriate daily, for our lives to be lived in His power and His strength.

Verses 5-11 discuss how the "Lord's chastening" can be such a blessing to each of us. Seven times in these seven verses Paul writes about how the Lord will correct us, and in fact, he says in verse 8, that if we "be without chastisement then we are not sons we are illegitimate children".

The writer of Hebrews encourages us with the truth that "whom the Lord loves, He chasteneth", verse 6Verse 10 tells us that the Lord's correction is "for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness".

However, at the same time, Paul tells us that "no chastising for the present seems to be joyous", but if we are exercised by the chastisement it "yields the fruit of righteousness", verse 11, within our lives.

Just reading this passage almost makes me want to be "chastised" because of the blessing it is to those of us who know Him as Lord and Saviour. Verses 12-15 details how we then live as a result of His chastisement.

Go back with me now to verses 1 and 2. What wonderful truth in these two verses. Paul's exhortation is for us to "lay aside every weight and sin which so easily besets us."

We then take off and run the race that is set before us, and we are to "run with patience", this race. I believe we run the race in front of the "heavenly grandstands" as the "witnesses" already in the heavenlies are watching, verse 1.

Then, we are to "look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who went to the cross with a 'joyful heart' even though He despised the 'shame of death' on the cross, and is now 'seated' at the right hand of the throne of God."

Notice, Jesus Christ is not on "His throne" but seated on the Father's throne, at His right hand. Jesus will sit on His own throne during the "thousand year Kingdom", a throne that will be located in the Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, in the future.

We are not today in the Kingdom Period, Jesus is not on His throne and God has not yet given Him dominion over all of Creation. That is yet to come. It is a prophecy of God's Word, Daniel 7:13-14, that will be fulfilled.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for loving me enough to chasten me so that I can partake of Your holiness and bear fruit of Your righteousness.
Monday, February 18, 2013

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

For further study - Hebrews 11:1-21

As we come to our devotional reading for today we will be presented with the "Hall of Fame" of men and women of "faith". I want you to notice that the first six men mentioned in the "Hall of Fame" have an interesting connection to Bible prophecy as well as to "faith".

Our passage starts with the definition of "faith", "it's the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen", verse 1. This is a very important statement about "faith". Notice, it is the "evidence of things not seen".

We don't have to, and in fact, we should not see the things we are "hoping for". Many people say, "show me and I'll believe", the Bible says "believe without seeing". By the way, Romans says, "Faith cometh by hearing, not seeing, and hearing by the Word of God", Romans 10:17.

It's the truth of the Word of God that is the basis for "faith", not things seen. In our extended reading for today, verses 1-21, we see six men who were "men of faith" and also have a unique connection to Bible prophecy.

"Abel", verse 4, was a son of Adam that by "faith" offered a "more excellent sacrifice" looking into the future and the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus Christ. "Enoch", verse 5, was a great preacher, Jude 14, and was one of two men who never died. This makes him one of the two witnesses during the Tribulation Period, along with Elijah.

I say this based upon the three and a half years of ministry for these two witnesses as detailed in Revelation 11:3-12. These two witnesses will die, be resurrected and taken into heaven. This truth from Revelation must be coupled with Hebrews 9:27.

"Noah", verse 7, was another great preacher, with not real good results, he only had seven people believe him. His wife, his three sons and the three wives of his sons. Jesus mentioned in His prophetic "Olivet Discourse" that the return of our Lord will take place at a time when it is like the "days of Noah", Matthew 24:37.

"Abraham", verses 8-19, the "father of faith" is a "man of faith" that plays a key role in Bible prophecy, as it relates to the Jewish people. The Lord promised Abraham, "in the Abrahamic Covenant" that the Jews would be a nation forever and have a land forever, Genesis 12 and 15.

Abraham's son and grandson, "Isaac" and "Jacob", are the "son and grandson of promise". It was through these three patriarchs that God focuses all of Bible prophecy. God made promises to these three, to be fulfilled, in the future. These promises must be fulfilled.

Notice how "faith" plays a role in "things to come", verse 20. I have barely touched the "hem of the garment" of blessings you can receive from this passage on "faith", and the "personalities of prophecy". Please spend more time in this passage, as we await the shout from Jesus for us to join Him in the heavenlies.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for these "men of faith" in the past. Help me to be a "man of faith" in the present, as I look to the "faith".