No such thing as a secret Christian

Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him. … Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so they would not be put out of the synagogue” John 12:37-42.

It’s towards the end of Jesus’ three-year ministry, and His hard teachings are separating those who want their heads and hearts full and not just their mouths and bellies. Even though He had proved to them in a variety of ways—even raising a dead man—they still did not believe in Him.

Here, ‘believe’ is used in its truest sense that requires action. If you believe that a truck is going to hit you, you get off the road! The actions because of true belief are outlined in scripture, publicly confessing Jesus as Lord being one of them.

There is no such thing as a secret Christian. A few verses later, after Isaiah shows that true belief requires the actions of an understanding of the heart and a turning from sin, certain authorities who loved the glory of men more are said to believe on a level in which they would not confess Jesus for fear of repercussions. More than just words, they wouldn’t let Jesus be their Lord.

Have you confessed Jesus?

Doug Kashorek

#dougkashorek #devotional #confession

The true definition of repentance

“And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. … Which of the two did the will of his father?” Matthew 21:28-32.

Jesus begins this parable by saying that a man had two sons. So He is speaking of those within the church who claim God as their Father.

Many are like the second son who say he will work in his father’s vineyard but who don’t go. They’re excited to find a group of good and loving people at the church who give them a sense of belonging or sometimes material things, but their service and connection with the body rarely extends beyond attendance at Sunday morning service. Continue reading

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Barely saved?

“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” Hebrews 7:25.

This is why the gospel is good news! Jesus is able to save the the uttermost. Most of us hope just to squeak in past the pearly gates on our own merits or on the delusion that the sins we’ve done haven’t really been that bad to keep us from heaven. We either hope to save ourselves or have God turn a blind eye and barely save us.

Because of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, though, He is able to save to the uttermost. As our mediator and High Priest who always lives (as He’s conquered death once and for all), Jesus ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father to intercede—for not just anyone—but those who draw near to God.

And what an advocate we have in Jesus! He’s the just judge who declares us guilty, sentences us to death, and then bears the penalty for our crimes so that we might share in eternity. This means that nothing can separate us from His love if only we would obey His gospel and trust in His intercession. And that is good news!

Have you obeyed for Jesus to intercede for you?

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Very little relevance?

“And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go ….’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord?” 1 Samuel 15:18-19.

I’ll bet you had to look to see if this quote was from the Old or New Testaments and then breathed a sigh of relief when you saw that it concerned an Israelite king who died long ago and has very little relevance to you. That’s the struggle!

We forget that in 1 Corinthians 10 God uses the Israelites in the wilderness to warn us not to fall into their sins. Or Romans 15:4, which tells us that the Old Testament was written so that with encouragement and endurance we might have hope.

It is very relevant, especially considering that God has sent us also on a mission that begins with the command to “Go.” After explaining that all authority was His, Jesus tells us to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

What if 1 Samuel 15 was calling us into account when we make excuses or justify why we had to modify God’s command instead of King Saul. The kingdom was taken from him then.

Are you obeying the voice of the Lord?

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‘Sing to me of heaven’

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” Matthew 13:44.

Singing to each other about heaven is certainly encouraging. Because this world has its share of troubles and so many of us are going through struggles, we need to be built up by the scriptural vision of where we will spent eternity with the One who saves us when we gather together as the church.

“Sing to Me of Heaven” is such a song. When we do that, we bring release from toils, lift burdens, and shower blessings. We bring happiness to one another and dispel loneliness that comes from walking this world and missing those who have already gone on. We also dispel the shadows and weariness that lay over hearts when we sing of heaven. The Refrain reminds us to help others to fondly dream of better things and keep their eyes fixed on the goal as the shadows of the evening fall.

Heaven is so valuable as a goal for our eternity and our spiritual well-being and perseverance here that we must be willing to sell all of this temporary world that we have to gain it.

Are you singing to others of heaven to encourage them?

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The depth of love

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends …” 1 Corinthians 13:7-8.

We’ve just left a season in which the entire world is focused on love. Flowers were given; chocolates were consumed; proposals were made; and radio stations played songs. What are the best love songs of all time? Those that speak about the greatest love story of all time—and they aren’t just sung during February but every first day of the week by those who know God’s love as demonstrated through the gospel. From the radio we might hear, “I want to know what love is? And I want you to show me.” The answer the singer is seeking is something in the range of superficial to committed from another—the best that human beings can do. Because we’re made in God’s image, we have the ability to love as He loved us, but it took God becoming flesh and dwelling among us to truly show us the depth of love. Up until Frozen, Disney taught that infatuation is love. The opening of “Up” for a deeper emotional look at mature love. When a movie shows a sacrificial love, it’s learned from the pages of the Bible.

Do you sing weekly about the greatest love of all?

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God-centered love

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” 1 John 4:7.

Self-love can be dangerous. It is at the heart of selfishness. Those in the world will do what is right by themselves at the cost of everyone around them and disguise it as ‘relative truth.’ Because they are true to the standard they have set up for themselves, they believe themselves good and loving people. Knowing this, Christians seek so much to love God and others that they may not love themselves. Our relationship with God is planted when we realize God’s love for us in Jesus dying in our place on the cross. It is fed, watered, and tended with study, prayer, and service to those around us and then blooms into an imitation of Christ. This is not a self-centered love but a God-centered love that emanates into every aspect of our lives and is the lens through which we interact in this world. This is how we love one another as Christ loved us. This is how we are truly born of God and know God. Love for one another is not fodder for a checklist. Looking outside of ourselves isn’t just for our spare time or only after our own needs are met.

How do you love?

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God a terrible obituary writer

“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” Judges 21:25.

God would be a terrible obituary writer. You know, no matter how the person lived his or her life, the blurb in the newspaper always says glowing things about the person … but God tells it how it is! They were a chosen race, but they had chosen sin. They were a royal priesthood, but they had bowed down to idols of their own making. They were a holy nation, but they had fashioned the Creator in their own image. They were a people for His own possession, but possessions had been gathered for their own selfish pleasures.

They were all this so they could “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called [them] out of darkness into His marvelous light” 1 Peter 2:9-10. Oh, but wait, how did my Bible get flipped open to the New Testament? We were talking about the Israelites, after all!

There are so many similarities between God’s people in the time of Judges and now that the lessons not learned by them then should be taken to heart today.

What would God change in the obituary of His church if the last verse of this book were written today? What would you be remembered for?

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Devastating compromise

“And the people of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until the evening. And they inquired of the Lord, ‘Shall we again draw near to fight against our brothers, the people of Benjamin?’ And the Lord said, ‘Go up against them’” Judges 20:23.

It had come to this. When God’s people had first entered the Promised Land with Joshua so many years before, they were God’s instrument for justice against the pagan nations about whom His longsuffering had run out. The Israelites shrank back from obeying God and eventually blended in with the cultures around them until they were indistinguishable and the Sodom-like scenario of the previous chapter occurred.

Thus, the corrupt-but-slightly-better eleven tribes went to war against the worst one. After just one day, the losses were staggering, but God, who had promised Abraham that his descendants would number like the stars and sand, in His justice had them fight a second and then third day.

Sin has devastating consequences, and God is constantly refining His people as silver through the fire. Not all Israel is Israel, and not all the Lord’s church is His church.

If you compromise with our culture, will you withstand God’s refining?

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To fellowship God, one or the other

“… God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” 1 John 1:5-7.

Who is on the $5 bill? Most would say ‘Lincoln,’ but really it is just his likeness. Jesus is described as being the image of the invisible God. That means that in every way and characteristic, He is an exact representation of God. He is God in the flesh.

In John 10:30, He tells us that He and God are one, meaning that they are in perfect fellowship with one another. Two who become one flesh in marriage are supposed to be one in fellowship as well. But to be in fellowship with God means to either have God change to be like us or we change to be like Him.

We don’t want a God who has darkness in Him, so we must expel the darkness from ourselves and take on the characteristics of light. Then, this passage tells us, we not only have perfect fellowship with Him but His people, who are striving to become one with Him, as well.

Are you in fellowship with God and His church?

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Counting my blessings is a frightening activity

“So I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours” Matthew 25:25.

Often I find that counting my blessings is a frightening activity because God has given me so much and is expecting much from me in return. It’s the principle of—if much is given, much is expected. It truly makes me wonder if I’m doing all that I can for His Kingdom and Name or if there are ways that I’m squandering my time and resources.

A ‘talent’ in the parable is, of course, a unit of money, but it’s easy to see just how the ready application of this heavenly lesson is that God wants us to bring Him a return on the spiritual blessings He has entrusted us with. And, while each of us as individual Christians and collectively as the body of Christ, need to examine our investment, it is easy to ask ourselves how we are or aren’t using the temporary, physical blessings for His Kingdom and His Name.

We each have food, clothing, and shelter, but beyond the basics, we have cars, possessions, and jobs. God has entrusted you to place you where you are in life with what you have. The church has buildings, grounds, and a bank account.

Are you/we investing or burying y/our talents?

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Worshiping idols but sure of God’s blessing

“Then Micah said, ‘Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest’” Judges 17:13.

Two wrongs don’t make a right—yet this is what Micah and most of the world believes today. Micah stole some money from his mother and restored it to her with a confession. This bright spot in the tale dims quickly as his mother dedicates the money to the Lord by having a carved metal idol made with it. Micah then puts it in a shrine in his house along with an ephod and household gods and installs his sons as priests.

How could straying so far from God’s commands be pleasing to God? The text explains that, like today, everyone did what was right in his own eyes. It was a ‘tolerant’ society in which each sets up his own standard for life and God’s standard, if not forgotten, is just a loose guideline. This is clear when Micah finds a Levite as the Law demands to minister, not at the tabernacle but before his idol, and then proclaims that he’s certain that God will now prosper him.

If we do not return to God’s Word for our faith, life, and worship in our very ‘tolerant’ society, we are just like Micah—worshiping our idols but sure in our minds of God’s blessing.

Are you Micah?

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Persuade me

“And Agrippa said to Paul, ‘In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?’ And Paul said, ‘Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am–except for these chains’” Acts 26:28-29.

Agrippa was a somebody. How dare the lowly prisoner, Paul, try to convert a man of power, influence, and wealth?! Yet, that’s what Paul did–to everyone. It didn’t matter how rich or poor, how high or low the station, how much or little time he had to spend with a person. If Paul was in your proximity, you were going to hear the saving gospel of Jesus Christ!

Agrippa seems a little taken back by this. Perhaps it’s Paul’s boldness; perhaps it’s the power of the message that he was hearing. Whatever the reason, Agrippa was squirming in his seat and didn’t want to hear any more.

Alas, today it seems the opposite is true. Instead of sowing the seed on all kinds of soil, we examine the soil first to determine if we believe it receptive to the seed. And, any excuse is enough to justify not preaching the words of eternal life.

Are the Agrippas in your life ever hearing the good news? Who are you making squirm?

Are you persuading anyone to be a Christian?

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#dougkashorek #devotional #persuasion

He even made his own mother

“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’?

Doug Kashorek

#Jesus #Word #devotional #dougkashorek

Thank God!

“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?

Doug Kashorek

#dougkashorek #Thanksgiving #devotional