“Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us.’ And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade ….’” Judges 9:14-15.
God’s people under Gideon were trees, but Gideon was dead and the son of his servant, Abimelech, was all thorns. Looking for relief for their bondage in the midst of the Judges cycle of sin, they turned to a man who first killed his seventy brothers before treating them cruelly rather than turning to God. Abimelech’s story is a cautionary tale to us in many ways. First, just because God is using us, doesn’t mean that He is pleased with us. We should compare words and actions against His Word. More importantly is the bigger lesson of whom we put our trust to save us. Just because our money says ‘In God We Trust’ doesn’t make it so—no more than wearing a WWJD bracelet makes us a Christian. Today, we might put our trust in the economy or politicians, good health or friends. But God and His Word is the only One in which we can trust for salvation. If we look to brambles to reign over us, we will get scratched in their shade.
In what or whom are you trusting?
#devotional #douglaskashorek #trust
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
The Christian life has often been compared to a caterpillar changing into a butterfly. Having wings, butterflies are not concerned with caterpillar things.
So are Christians. Although we are on this earth and our bodies are made of the same substance as the lost around us who are still about earthly things, we are a new creation in Christ.
A transformation happened in Jesus when he emerged from the tomb. Not only did He overcome sin and the grave, He had a body that was changed. It was eternal.
So, it only follows that the members of His body, the church, will be “like him because we shall see him as he is” 1 John 3:2. In fact, those baptized into His death have this promise: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” Romans 6:5.
Thus, we fix our eyes on the eternal and our hearts and minds on things above. The church, then, is not made up of caterpillars. Rather, it’s a gathering of the saved who are being sanctified in the chrysalis of this present life and are looking forward in hope to emerging as a new creation.
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#devotional #transformation #hope
According to the Bureau of Standards in Washington, a dense fog covering seven city blocks to a depth of 100 feet is composed of less than one glass of water. That amount of water is divided into about 60 billion tiny droplets. Yet when those minute particles settle over a city or the countryside, they can almost blot out everything from your sight. Continue reading
“And Gideon said to him, ‘Please, Lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? …’” Judges 6:13.
IF … the Lord is with us … there is a God … He cares at all. How often I’ve heard Gideon’s question posed to me over my years of ministry. The problem is that the beginning premise is flawed. Many assume that we all are basically good people, who haven’t done any really bad sins like rape or murder—so we are unnecessarily or unjustly facing terrible circumstances in our lives from an uncaring, uninvolved, or non-existent God.
Scriptures reveal just the opposite story, though: that we have all sinned and deserve death! When we can grasp this truth, then we begin to see just how the evil in the world is always caused by sinful men, a fallen world, or (gasp) our own bad choices!
In fact, when compared to what could be happening to us, we can see God’s grace in shielding us from what could have been. The financial guru, Dave Ramsey, often answers when asked how he’s doing with “better than my sins deserve.”
This keeps a good perspective. It’s better to ask, “If the Lord were NOT with us, what could be happening to us?”
Do you recognize His grace?
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#devotional #grace #douglas-kashorek
“Command and teach these things” 1 Timothy 4:11.
We are to train ourselves to be godly as godliness has value in this present life and the life to come. We labor and strive with hope in the living God as our motivation to flee from our sinful lives to take hold of the promise of eternal life that God has given us and declared with an oath. So, now it is time to break this down into specific behaviors. Speaking to the young evangelist first but to us by extension, we are to “set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” We must also “devote” ourselves “to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” We must not, and this is perhaps the most challenging—not neglect our gifts. If benevolence, edification, and evangelism are our core values, to not live these instructions out is to sin by omission. James 4:17 says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” To not set an example is to not show edification. To not be devoted to reading, preaching, and teaching is to not show evangelism. And, to neglect our gifts to not serve others is to not show benevolence.
Are you living out our core values?
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#devotional #douglas-kashorek #values
“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. … Be always on the watch, and pray … that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man” Luke 21:34-36.
Often we want to get wrapped up in the issues of in whether Jesus is speaking about the end of the world or the destruction of the temple? Premillennialism or a rapture? The point is that we must watch and pray, so we are prepared. But prepared for what? Not the end of the world but to stand before the Son of Man. What may keep us from doing that? The answer is a scarily accurate depiction of life today. Our hearts may be weighed down with dissipation, which is a wasting from misuse of our talents and time. Drunkenness—terrible escapes from life. Or caught up in the anxieties of life! Life today has lots of those … as well as more leisure time than any generation before ours, thanks to advances in every realm of life. Not using your time and talents for yourself, then, but for God’s Kingdom instead would be one way to prepare.
If the end was in this moment, could you stand before the Son of Man?
#douglas-kashorek #devotional #preparation
“He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away’” Luke 19:26.
Other than a “wee little man” many may not know who Zacchaeus was. As a tax collector, Zacchaeus, in the normal practice of his profession, was a state-sanctioned thief who stole more money from his fellow Jews than Rome said he needed to collect. He was despised, yes, but he was a part of the 1%. A Have—in a sea of Have-Nots. Yet, he repented and was willing to give up his ill-gained worldly wealth for eternal riches. This prompts Jesus to tell the parable of the Ten Minas that ends with the one who had the most wealth and who invested it to present his master with an increase to be given the mina of the servant who had buried his. How unfair that seems from a worldly perspective, yet how often God turns our logic upside-down. To be strong, we must become weak. To gain our life, we must lose it. Rather than fighting our own battles, we must cease striving and know that He is God. In Jesus’ view, Zacchaeus was never richer than when he gave it all away.
Where is your treasure stored?
#devotional #treasure #Luke
By A.B. Simpson — 0ne of Satan’s favorite employees is the switchman. He likes nothing better than to sidetrack one of God’s express trains sent on some blessed mission and filled with the fire of a holy purpose.
Something will come up in the pathway of the earnest man to attract his attention and occupy his strength and thought. Sometimes it is a little irritation or provocation. Sometimes it is some petty grievance he stops to pursue or adjust. Sometimes it is somebody else’s business in which he becomes interested, and he feels bound to rectify. Before he knows it, he is absorbed in many distracting cares and interests that turn him aside from the great purpose of his life.
Perhaps he does not do much harm, but he has missed his connection. He has left the main line.
Let all these things alone. Let grievances come and go, but press forward steadily and irresistibly, crying as you speed toward the goal, This one thing I do! —Philippians 3:13
#devotional #sidetracked #focus
Today, Ed Mathew’s devotional is based in Philemon.
Faith in action is powerful. It reveals the riches of living in Jesus. It leads others to see the beauty of Christianity. It draws people to the Lord. The most convincing faith is a demonstrated faith, II Thessalonians 1:11,12. Actions are more persuasive than words.
Focus question: How does your faith show itself at home, at school, in the workplace, in the congregation?
Update: This was supposed to have been sent to my microblog, but it’s still OK for here.
#faith #practice #devotional
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” John 1:1-2.
Most of us cannot but jot down a few appointments on a calendar and strive to meet them, but looking back on a day, we can see just how nearsighted we are. As we try to understand God’s plan to redeem sinful man, it’s easy to believe Jesus as just another figure in a line of greats: Adam, Noah, Moses, David …. But, Jesus is different.
He is from the beginning, being both God and with God, through whom all things were made. His Only Son’s part in His plan of salvation is integral, but what was the Second Person of the Godhead doing before “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”?
He was the instrument of Creation and spoken to by the Father in Genesis 1:26 as He and the Father are one (John 10:30). Some believe it is Jesus to show up in various theophanies (appearances of God) throughout Scripture … perhaps even Melchizedek himself, in whose order Jesus has become our High Priest forever. He even made His own mother who would give birth to Him.
Do you believe that as God, Jesus is the ‘I Am’?
#Jesus #Word #devotional #dougkashorek
“But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted” Romans 6:17.
“Thank, God!” we exclaim when even trivial things go our way, but few think about how we are acknowledging God’s intimate attention to the details of our lives and how we’re going to the Creator in prayer with thanksgiving.
Even atheists call the holiday we celebrate at this time of year by its name but don’t really think about to Whom we are giving thanks. Giving thanks has become so flippant that our eyes graze over the hundreds of times in Scripture God is thanked.
Like the nine lepers who did not return to give thanks, we are great at asking God to do stuff for us or give us stuff but don’t take the time to let thanksgiving be part of our prayers.
Do we have reason to thank Him? Over and over again. Just the verse above alone is reason to run back to Jesus, fall down before Him, and give Him thanks. We used to be slaves to sin, but He entrusted us with a form of teaching that we could wholeheartedly obey. We spiritual lepers, healed of our affliction, have a lot to be thankful to God for.
Do you truly give thanks to God?
#dougkashorek #Thanksgiving #devotional
“… ‘You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us’” Ezra 4:3.
In this era of inclusion and bending of the rules to accommodate everyone, the drawing of a line of fellowship by the returning exiles sounds really harsh to us. But, it is God who draws it.
It was precisely because His people had erased His line and drawn it where they pleased that they had ceased to be His people and had compromised with the beliefs and practices of every nation around them.
As Ezra had to tell those of the surrounding peoples who opposed them, “You have no part with us,” Nehemiah needed to a few years later when he sought to rebuild the walls.
But why not extend fellowship? Doesn’t God love all people? Yes, but with God a person is either in or out. It’s tempting to want to call seemingly good and loving folks who are doing great deeds “Christians,” but God draws the line still by whether they are in or out of Christ.
It is up to us to have the courage to hold the line and build the wall in the face of opposition or give in to the pressure to re-draw God’s line.
Are you courageous to stand for God?
#devotional #fellowship #love
“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” Acts 8:4.
This statement has always run counter to what I’ve observed in the my two decades of ministry. If evangelism is to happen, then every factor in people’s lives have to be perfect. After things are going well in the marriage, with the kids, with finances, at work, and with friends, then life is stable enough to think about telling someone else about Jesus. But, as long as even just one piece of our life’s puzzle is out of place, then we shrink back into ourselves to lick our wounds and figure it out.
Guess how often Satan is going to make sure that you have a struggle going on if it will keep God’s people from preaching the gospel? Always.
Not Christians in the first century! Like coals of a fire when a large log is thrown onto them, they spread and catch onto other tinder. How frustrated Satan must have been during the early decades of Jesus’ church! Nothing he threw at them worked; those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
How could that be us again? We tell of other things that are important to us. The gospel must become important. Our faith must grow.
Are you telling the gospel?
#evangelism #devotional #struggles #gospel
“Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion” Ecclesiastes 9:4.
Hope, that anchor for the soul, is in short supply today. I meet people everyday who feel defeated in their lives. Perhaps it’s a change they’ve failed to make in their lives. Maybe it’s circumstances they are currently trapped in. Or, possibly they or someone they love have not obeyed the gospel for salvation. Their declaration is always the same, “It’s hopeless!” Continue reading
“Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more” 1 Thessalonians 4:1.
When we justify our choices by our situation, we live in order to please ourselves as Eve did when she “saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” We set ourselves up on the throne of our lives as the ultimate authority over ourselves. When we sow to please our sinful nature, God warns us in Galatians, that we “will reap destruction.”
Instead, we are told in 2 Corinthians to “make it our goal to please Him.” Being resurrected with Him, we live for Him. We must please Him, not us.
And we do this, this chapter tells us, by living sanctified, that is, holy or set apart. We do this by avoiding sexual immorality, not wronging our brother, living a pure and holy life, loving each other, and living to “win the respect of outsiders” and “not be dependent on anybody.”
Just as the Thessalonians were doing this already but needed to be urged “to do this more and more,” so must we.
Who do you live to please?
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