Assume

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

(For they had seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him previously, and they assumed Paul had brought him into the inner temple courts.) Acts 21.29

How often do you assume too much? Instead of asking the simple question “Why?” or “What?”, you jump to the wrong conclusions, many times, causing not only yourself, but others great sorrow, not to mention confusion.

Paul had returned to Jerusalem. He had taken a vow along with four others. He had gone to the temple to give notice of the day when their purification would be completed, when the sacrifice would be offered for each of them.

Having almost completed the days of purification, some Jews from the province of Asia, having seen Paul in the city with Trophimus, who was a Greek from Ephesus, stirred up the people. They falsely accused Paul of having brought Greeks into the inner courts of the temple. They assumed that since Paul was seen with Trophimus in the city, Paul had also taken him into the inner courts of the temple making it unclean ritually.

What followed was an angry mob that tried to kill Paul by beating him. When soldiers arrived, the commanding officer was unable to get to the truth because of the disturbance. Paul had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob.

All because someone assumed the wrong thing.

#risingjoy #devotional #assumptions

Anxiety

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs him down, but an encouraging word brings him joy. Proverbs 12.25

Anxiety. It touches most people at some time in their lives. A high degree of anxiety can ruin a person’s health if not dealt with effectively. It can make one fearful to the point of paralyzation. It will rob you of peace of mind.

Where does anxiety originate? It comes from what is fed to your mind. What types of information are you feeding your mind? Do you give it a steady diet of negative thoughts and information? Paul instructed the Philippians of the importance of the things with which they filled their minds. It is important to feed the mind positive things that are true, worthy of respect, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy, Philippians 4.8. These are the things you should think and meditate on.

How do you deal with anxiety? Do you let it paralize you? Do you give in to fear and worry? Paul told the Philippians not to be anxious about anything. They were not to worry. The solution was to tell God all of their concerns in prayer, Philippians 4.6. That solution is valid today.

Anxiety. Do not feed it. Fight it. Choose to allow God’s peace to take its place.

#risingjoy #anxiety

Praying and singing

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God. Colossians 3.15-16

What would you do if you were beaten and thrown into prison unjustly? Would you spend your time crying? Would you rant about the injustice that had been done?

Paul and Silas found themselves in jail in the city of Philippi. Paul had cast a spirit out of a slave girl. Her owners were extremely unhappy that their source of income was gone. Seizing Paul and Silas, they dragged them before the magistrates. The crowd joined the attack against them and the result was a beating and imprisonment.

In Acts 16.25, the Bible says that around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. Paul had written to the Colossians to let the word of Christ dwell in them, not in a small way, but richly. This would lead to teaching and exhorting one another with wisdom and singing.

Paul and Silas were praying and singing and the prisoners were listening. After the earthquake, all the doors were opened and all the bonds of the prisoners came loose. But they did not leave. They were all there when the jailer arrived.

The peace of Christ was in the hearts of Paul and Silas. They left their influence on the other prisoners. What is in your heart? Is your heart controlled by the peace of Christ? How are you influencing others?

#risingjoy #devotional

Lack of knowledge

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Sober up as you should, and stop sinning! For some have no knowledge of God – I say this to your shame! 1 Corinthians 15.34

Some in Corinth were saying that there was no resurrection from the dead. Paul addressed the problem in 1 Corinthians 15.12-19. If this false belief were true, Paul listed negative consequences that would follow. He helped them to think through exactly what was being asserted.

Paul warned the Corinthians that bad company corrupts good morals. He then called them to return to knowledge and good sense, putting away sin.

How do you react when someone tries to teach something that is false? Do you recognize it as false? Do you examine it and question it in light of what the Bible teaches on the subject? Does it agree with what the Bible affirms? Or do you accept it because of who was teaching it?

Would Paul have reason to shame you because of your lack of knowledge of God?

#risingjoy #devotional

Heartbroken

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

The Lord regretted that he had made humankind on the earth, and he was highly offended. Genesis 6.6

Have you ever been offended by someone or something? How did it make you feel? Did you feel grief at the offense? Or perhaps you felt a sense of self-righteousness questioning how that could be done or said to you? We have all felt those feelings at some time.

Have you ever thought that God has felt this way? God had created man and placed him in a world that met all of his basic needs, Genesis 1-2. However, a few chapters later, the wickedness of humankind had become great on the earth, Genesis 6.5. Their thoughts and behavior were evil all the time. It broke God’s heart.

That was long ago in the past. But, it is still true today. When you choose evil over good, when you choose to sin, it breaks God’s heart. Sin separates you from God, Isaiah 59.1-2. It keeps you from walking with him. He wants everyone to repent, 2 Peter 3.9.

Have you repented of the evil in your life? Are you guilty of breaking God’s heart?

#risingjoy #devotional

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