Don’t Believe It

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4.1

Do you believe everything that you hear? It can be a very unstable position to be in because, unfortunately, everything that you hear is not true. John warned the early Christians not to believe every spirit. He was referring to teachers and what they teach. Many false prophets had gone out into the world teaching things foreign to God’s word.

How can you know if a teaching is from God? According to John, you have to test it. How do you test it? You have to see if it is in God’s word. The Bereans set a good example to follow. They were called noble because they were open-minded and examined the Scriptures carefully to see if the teachings were accurate, Acts 17.10-11.

The Scriptures are our guide. Paul told Timothy that the holy writings were able to give him wisdom for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. They are inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3.15-16.

Do not believe everything that you hear.

#risingjoy #devotional

Love is action

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

We have come to know love by this: that Jesus laid down his life for us; thus we ought to lay down our lives for our fellow Christians. 1 John 3.16

Love is essential. The gospel message is that Christians should love one another. It is a test of our faith. John wrote that you can know that you have passed over from death to life because of the love you have for the brethren. Without this love, it is impossible to have eternal life residing in you.

When we see a Christian in need, it is not enough to pray for him, though that is very important. We need to try our best to fulfill that need. Our possessions should be the means by which we serve others by showing compassion. If we cannot fulfill it alone, then we should reach out to others for help.

Jesus set the example for this love with his death on the cross. He did what needed to done. We could not do it on our own. Let us follow his example.

#risingjoy #devotional

Choice

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever. 1 John 2.15-17

What is it that drives you? Do you chase after things and live in a house that is filled to the roof top with things that you rarely use? Do you chase after the latest fad or fashion?

John warned not to love the world or the things that are in it. Jesus taught that you cannot serve two masters, Matthew 6.24. One will always have priority. If that priority is the world, you cannot love God. God will not share his throne with anyone or anything. He alone is God. The things of the world do not come from him.

Which would you prefer to have, something that is here today and gone tomorrow? Or would you prefer eternal life? The choice is yours to make.

#risingjoy #1John

Every effort

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to be sure of your calling and election. For by doing this you will never stumble into sin. For thus an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be richly provided for you. 2 Peter 1.10-11

The path to the entrance to the eternal kingdom is not an easy one. It requires effort, energy, and constant growth. The gate that leads to life is narrow and few will find it, Matthew 7.13-14. You cannot sit back, do nothing except go with the flow or follow the crowd, and achieve it.

Jesus taught that the kingdom must have first place in your life, Matthew 6.33. You must pour your interest and energy into making it a priority. The necessities of this life, food and clothes, will be provided. But you must invest in the kingdom.

How can you know the procedure to grow in God’s kingdom? It is found in God’s word. Peter gave part of the answer in 2 Peter 1.5-8. You cannot remain still. You must be adding things to your faith. Excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly affection, and unselfish love will help you to be effective and productive in your pursuit to draw closer to Jesus.

#risingjoy #devotional #growth

Be prepared

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

But set Christ apart as Lord in you hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you. 1 Peter 3.15-16

No one likes to suffer. Most people will do anything to avoid it. However, Peter indicated that it happens. People suffer, even for doing what is right. There is no honor in suffering for doing what is wrong. That should be expected. But, when you are doing what is right, it can cause you to become fearful or your faith to be shaken.

Peter gave the answer to overcome the fear and stand firmly, even in the midst of suffering. Christ must reign in your heart as Lord. He will not share his rule with anyone else. There is something else you must do. You must be ready and prepared to answer anyone that asks why you act as you do.

You cannot be prepared if you do not know God’s word. Jesus used God’s word to withstand Satan, Matthew 4.1-11. Paul told the Ephesians to put on the armor of God, Ephesians 6.10-17. God’s word is the sword of the Spirit. It is how you defend against the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Make no mistake. At some point, you will suffer as a result of your faith. Are you prepared to give your answers?

#risingjoy #answer

Wander

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, he should know that the one who turns a sinner back from his wandering path will save that person’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5.19-20

According to James, it is possible for a Christian to wander from the truth and lose their salvation sending their soul to death. Paul agreed that someone could be discovered in some sin and need to be restored with a spirit of gentleness, Galatians 6.1.

It is not always easy to correct others. However, it may be necessary. The attitude with which you approach someone who is in error may make the difference between the person repenting or being lost forever. It must be done with firm love, showing the error with the scriptures, 2 Timothy 3.16.

While it is not easy to correct someone, many times it is even harder to be the one being corrected. How do you react when someone comes to correct your behavior? Do you get angry? Do you react in a negative way and allow your pride to make you arrogant? Do you make excuses for your behavior? It is important that you remember that your brother or sister in Christ loves you and does not want you to lose your soul.

#risingjoy #devotional

Confess and pray

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness. James 4.16

It is not true that after you become a Christian that you will never sin. You will. You try your best not to. You are vigilant and alert. However, the devil is constantly on the lookout for a way to make you fall. Many times, when you least expect it, it happens. You do, say, or think something that you should not.

The important thing is not to keep repeating the same sin over and over, returning to our former way of life. Hebrews 12.1 tells us to get rid of every weight and sin that clings so closely and run the race focusing on Jesus. If we confess to another Christian the sin that clings to us, we can receive help in our healing through their prayers on our behalf. Knowing that someone is praying for us to overcome sin and being accountable to them is a powerful tool and can help us to heal.

The prayers of the righteous person are powerful.

#risingjoy #devotional #confession

Faith and works

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

But would you like evidence, you empty fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. James 2.20-24

What you believe is important. Faith in God is essential, for without it, you cannot please him, Hebrews 11.6. However, faith, which does not motivate you to act, is useless. Even the demons believe and tremble, James 2.19. Just listening to the word and not living it out is of no purpose, for you are only deceiving yourself.

Abraham is a good example of faith and works. He obeyed when told to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to God, Genesis 22. He acted quickly. It is interesting that the Bible does not tell of the emotions that he was bound to be experiencing. That is not what is important. What is important is that his faith in God motivated him to action.

Faith and works go hand in hand. One without the other is useless. May Christians act according to the faith that we profess to have.

#risingjoy #devotional #faith #works

Living it out

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

So put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the message implanted within you, which is able to save your souls. But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves. James 1.21-22

The message is implanted within every believer. That is the faith or belief that you have. Without faith, it is impossible to please him, Hebrews 11.6. This message is able to save your soul. However, it is not automatic. Your faith must motivate you to act. You must live out the message.

Many people deceive themselves thinking that just because they believe, it is enough. But, James wrote that if you do not live out the message, merely listening to it, you deceive yourself. Christians in the book of Acts could be seen leaving Jerusalem because of persecution. But, they went teaching others with whom they came in contact. They put their faith into practice. There are examples of people doing good works to help others, another way of putting your faith into practice.

You have to make a choice. You cannot embrace evil and good. It is not possible to serve two masters as Jesus taught in Matthew 6.24. You have to get rid of the evil and filthy things and choose the message that is able to save you.

Choose to live the message for all to see!

#risingjoy #devotional

Unshakeable

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

So since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us give thanks, and through this let us offer worship pleasing to God in devotion and awe. For our God is indeed a devouring fire. Hebrews 12.28-29

Unshakeable. Strong. Safe. Haven. Descriptions that do not describe many places, certainly not in this world. Yet, these concepts are descriptive of God’s kingdom, of which anyone can be a part.

There is a condition that is required: obedience to God. You do not waltz in by doing your own thing. You cannot talk your way in. No, you have to do the will of God.

Where is that will found? It is found in the Bible, God’s inspired word, 2 Timothy 3.16-17. It does not matter what man thinks is appropriate or what man wants to do to worship God. What matters is God’s will to be carried out by his people.

Let us give thanks for his word. Let us offer worship that is pleasing to him in devotion and awe. God will not share first place!

#risingjoy #devotional

A great day

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10.31

How do you bargain with the Creator of all things? How do you argue for justice when God’s son was sacrificed to redeem your soul if you obey God? What excuse can you give to justify yourself when your actions do not obey God’s commands?

God is loving. He will not condemn anyone. He is merciful. In the end, he will save everyone. These are the things that Satan wants us to believe, if we believe in God at all.

Yes, God is loving and alive! He is not an image made of stone or wood that has been made by a man’s hands to be worshiped. He has executed a plan whereby all men might be saved. However, he has warned that not all will be saved, Matthew 7.13-14.

Once you know the truth and insist on continuing to sin, there is no sacrifice left for you, Hebrews 10.26. In your rebellion, be aware that there will be a day of judgment when you will answer to God for your lack of obedience to him and it will be terrifying.

There’s a great day coming!

#risingjoy #devotional #judgment-day

Blood

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

… how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. And so he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has promised, since he died to set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9.14-15

Blood was needed. A sacrifice was needed. During the old covenant, the blood was from goats and bulls. Along with the ashes of young cows, the blood was sprinkled on the one who had sinned, the one who was unclean, defiled. It consecrated them and provided ritual purity.

Jesus came to fulfill the law. He became the sacrifice whose blood was shed, that we might have life. He was without blemish. His blood purifies our consciences.

We do not have the ability to present ourselves before God as clean and pure. No matter how many good things we do, we cannot erase the fact that we are stained, unclean and impure. We need his blood to cleanse us and to make us pure.

We live under the new covenant of which he is the mediator. I have the choice to answer his call or not. However, to those who choose to answer and obey his call, he will give the eternal inheritance that he has promised will be ours.

#risingjoy #devotional #blood

Better

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

But now Jesus has obtained a superior ministry, since the covenant that he mediates is also better and is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, no one would have looked for a second one. Hebrews 8.6-7

Better. This word is used to describe the covenant that Jesus mediates as well as the promises on which it is enacted. What makes it better?

Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. He had no sin of his own, therefore he was able to be our sacrifice, perfect, without blemish. Continue reading

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Pay close attention

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Therefore we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. Hebrews 2.1

There is a need to be vigilant and alert. The most important thing that I have in my existence is my salvation. Yet, do I take it seriously? I say that I do, but do I really?

The author of Hebrews writes that we must pay closer attention to what we have heard. In the case of today, it is what has been written. The words were first communicated through the Lord Jesus to his apostles. The apostles then passed them on to others. This is the way that the gospel is spread, by word of mouth, by teaching.

However, there is a warning that is being issued. Pay close attention to what you have heard. Why is that important? Because it is easy to get caught in the current and drift away. Drift, by definition, means the flow or the velocity of the current of a river or ocean stream. We have all heard of people who have gotten caught in a current and had a hard time breaking away. The only solution is to pay close attention to what we have heard and anchor ourselves in God´s word.

#risingjoy #devotional #attention

Reflection of glory

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3.18

Earlier in chapter 3 we read that Moses had to wear a veil when he returned from being with God. The Jews could not look at Moses’ face because of the glory that it reflected. That glory faded with time and the veil was no longer needed. However, the veil remained in place and can only be taken away in Christ.

However, in Christ, our faces reflect the glory of the Lord and there is no veil needed to cover it. There is freedom where the Spirit of the Lord exists. Freedom from the old law, freedom from sin, freedom from being stagnant.

Do you ever feel bogged down like you can’t go forward, that life is a burden that you are not able to carry? Jesus offers to give you rest from that burden, Matthew 11.28-30.

We learn from Christ. In Christ who is the Spirit, we are being transformed into the same image. We are transformed from one degree of glory to another. It does not come from us, but comes from the reflection of Christ living in us through his Spirit. He does the transforming. All we do is cooperate by learning and obeying.

#risingjoy #devotional