1 Peter 5:8
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
I have learned many valuable spiritual lessons as I have been hiking. One of those lessons has to do with bears.
I praise God that I live on the East Coast. When I hike, I don’t have to contend with grizzly, Kodiak, or polar bears. Only cute, little (comparatively), vegetarian, black bears. Well, as many people are aware of, even black bears can be nuisances. Usually it’s the fault of a human. When we leave our food and trash out, we encourage them to hang around. They will then prowl around looking for something to devour. Hmm…sounds familiar.
A lot of the time we encourage the enemy to attack us. We do it by trying to live in both kingdoms. We try to get God’s blessing using the world’s methods. Or we try to use God’s power to satisfy our lust for material gain. These things signal the enemy to hang around hoping for a free handout.
It is time for us to “clean up our camp.” Seek God today. Is there anything that needs to be put back in order in your life? Christ will give you the wisdom, strength, and courage you need to overcome in this area. Turn it over to Him. Don’t give the enemy a free handout. Use this time to take back any foothold that you have given him in your life.
Tags: Bible, Christian, devil, devotion, distractions, encouragement, enemies, enemy, Holy Spirit, overcoming, praise, problems, protection, spiritual attack, victory
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
This is one of the most interesting Scriptures. The Lamb who is also a Shepherd. What a great illustration of the Christ who took on our weaknesses. He is worthy to lead us, since He has walked where we live.
Christ is our perfect Shepherd. He knows the paths of our lives. He understands the best route to take. He knows when our soul needs rest, refreshment, and nourishment. We must learn to trust Him daily for our every need. We must trust His plan for our lives if we want fulfillment.
I want my life to count for something. Only under the guidance of the “Good Shepherd” will that come to pass.
If I follow the Lord’s plan for my life, then He will lead me to the right places along the way. Yes, sometimes the road will be difficult. But He also knows the rest stops as well. He will bring us to places of refreshment and restoration that we need if we are to make it to the end.
I must learn to trust in His plan for my life. He knows the way a lot better than I do. Once I can acknowledge that, life gets so much more fulfilling.
Whether you have in the past or not – place your life at Jesus’ feet today. Let Him work it out to His glory. Put your expectation in Him to bring you to your destiny.
Tags: Bible, Christ, Christian, devotion, disciple, encouragement, fellowship, God's faithfulness, good shepherd, guidance, Jesus Christ, Lamb of God, path, presence of the lord, protection, trust
Now he [Jesus] had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”
It is interesting to see that The Lord took on Himself the same physical limitations that we have. When He exerted Himself in the heat of the day, it produced hunger and thirst in Him. He knows what we go through.
Walking the road to Sychar made Jesus thirsty. In the part of the world the Lord walked in, the heat could get downright oppressive. Water drawn from deep down in a well was cold and refreshing. Jesus knew that His body needed that kind of a lift.
I was on a hike once where I ran out of water. It was a hot day and I began to dehydrate as I tried to get to the next source of water. I remember the pain as my muscles started cramping up, and each step was painful. It felt like Heaven on earth when I finally arrived at a tiny trickle of water across the trail that I could use to rehydrate my body and fill my canteens.
Of course, as important as water is to our physical well-being, there is a deeper truth. As He continued talking to the woman, Jesus related the need to spiritual water. Think about how thirsty you get when you walk under the blazing sun. You can then understand how thirsty your soul must get traveling through this world filled with problems. You need to do something that offers spiritual refreshment.
Spending time in the Word and listening to the Lord, is like a cold drink to your soul. Refresh your inner man today. Take a nice long drink at the well of the Lord.
Tags: Bible, Christian, cross, dehydrate, devotion, disciple, distractions, drink, encouragement, faith, Holy Spirit, holy worship, listening, overcoming, prayer, prepare, presence of the lord, soul, spiritual drink, thirsty, well, woman at the well
“Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt?’”
God created the seas, rivers, and lakes all for us. He made the world a beautiful place for us to enjoy. Many times I have thought myself blessed as I sat and meditated by a peaceful lake – knowing that only about a hundred people a year even see this sight. Who was there watching when He established that body of water for His pleasure?
We serve a very creative God. He loves beauty and variety. He has made each lake and stream different. Sometimes we need to just stop and look around at the details that make each scene unique.
I don’t know how close you live to green outdoor areas. Hopefully there are parks or other type places nearby where you can go from time to time. In any case, don’t ever get to the point where the outdoors is just a place to play. Never lose your fascination with the sights, smells, and sounds of the green spaces around you – it speaks volumes to us about who God is.
We must be sensitive to the beauty that is around us. Don’t just take it for granted. Even a small garden can be a place of rest and refreshment in your spirit. Give God thanks today for the glory of His Creation. Be thankful that He allows us to share in the enjoyment of what His hands have done.
Tags: beauty, Bible, Christian, creative, devotion, encouragement, fellowship, glory, God's love, holy worship, joy, lake, outdoors, peaceful, praise, prayer, presence of the lord, refresh, spirit, testimony, thankful, water
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”
Yesterday’s post talked about Christ as the Giver of spiritual life. But, right along those lines, Christ is also the Giver of resurrection life. In this verse He is giving us insight into His Second Coming. Actually this is the first time Scripture records Him speaking about His return.
Many people who teach about the end-times don’t even bother dealing with this passage. If you think that way, then you’ve missed the whole point. Because this is the first recorded incident in Jesus’ ministry where He mentions the end-times, that makes it important. No, He doesn’t say a lot about it, but what He does say is at the very core of our belief in the Second Coming.
Jesus explains that there is a day coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and will come out – those who have done good will rise to live; those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. Unfortunately, we usually miss this key. It is the foundation stone for everything else that you will learn about the Second Coming of Christ. Everything else that Jesus teaches builds on this.
The cross is our starting point. We come along about 2000 years later. What Jesus is talking about in this passage hasn’t happened yet. The dead are going to rise and there is going to be a time of judgment with the result being either eternal life or eternal condemnation.
We don’t know when it’s coming, but there will be a resurrection day. As far as the disciples were concerned, it wasn’t new to them. Jesus didn’t start with some new doctrine that they had never heard before. You find teaching on the resurrection in the Old Testament. Job testifies, in chapter 19 of his book, that he knew about the day of resurrection.
Even in the Old Testament, believers understood that God was not going to leave His people in the grave. The Pharisees themselves, as a group, believed and taught that one day God would bring about the resurrection of the dead.
The only thing that was new in His teaching was the fact that it will be the voice of Christ that causes the dead to rise. I’m sure that the Pharisees had some choice thoughts on that subject. We, however, are given a foundation upon which to build the rest of the teaching on the return of Christ.
It is the Lord Himself who is our resurrection. It is His voice who will call us from our graves to a place of victory. This is a day we can all look forward to as believers. Knowing this, we can live our lives in the hope that only springs from victory over death. We don’t have to worry about the future. We are safe in the arms of the Lord.
Tags: Bible, Christ, Christian, devotion, disciple, encouragement, end times, glory, graves, Holy Spirit, hope, Jesus Christ, Life Giver, protection, resurrection, return of Christ, second coming, victory
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”
It’s obvious that Jesus is talking about spiritual life here, because He says, “has now come”. It was not future, but was being fulfilled in the days that Jesus walked the earth. He was really giving the Pharisees a slap in the face because of their self-righteousness. They were the dead people (spiritually) that Jesus was talking about. He was basically telling them, “Wake up! You’re dead and if you want life, you must believe and obey my words.”
It was time for them to hear and live. Jesus loved them and desired that they would pass over from death into life. Unfortunately, their pride kept them from accepting Christ for who He was. Even today pride is one of the biggest hindrances to the move of God in the church.
I think a big part of our problem is not knowing the real issue. We think that our choice is between God and the devil. We either look at it that way or make it a choice between good and evil. The fact is that neither of those choices are what the Lord put before us. The real choice He gives us is life or death. As a matter of fact, there may be a “good” thing that I do too often, and it results in bringing death to my spiritual walk.
As long as I lower the standard by “trying to be good,” I will never attain to the abundant life in Christ. I must seek to let allow the life of Christ to shine through me. That is what will lift me up to where I should be.
Jesus makes an important point here. It is the basis of our hope and trust in Him. Christ is the Life Giver. This is the foundation for everything else. We must go to Him if we really want to live pleasing to God.
Spend time with the Life Giver today. Let the Holy Spirit impart to you the life that only He can give.
Tags: abundant life, Bible, choice, Christ, Christian, cross, dead, devotion, disciple, encouragement, God's love, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, life, Life Giver, resurrection, spiritual life, victory, wake up
I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.
God wants His people to produce fruit. If we are to truly be fruitful, then we need to see the production of fruit from God’s perspective. To make this clear to us, I want to take a little trip back in history. So, ask yourself what God’s ultimate purpose was in choosing Israel. According to this section of Scripture, God made a great investment in Israel. He took a lot of care in it’s development.
Only the choicest vine stock was used. Men of faith and courage who were not afraid to believe God and step out on His Word alone. Men like Abraham, Moses, and David were used to plant the roots of faith deep in the soil of God’s promises.
The Lord cleared the field for them. He brought them to the land of promise and caused their enemies to melt before them. He gave them cities they didn’t build, crops they didn’t plant and wealth that was merely placed in their hands. He did more then they could have ever asked or imagined.
It was the winepress, however, that spoke of Israel’s purpose. All of the above blessings came with an expectation on God’s part. The only reason for a winepress is the pressing of grapes. God expected Israel to yield a crop of good fruit. He wanted them not only to walk in His blessings but to show forth the ways of God. The only logical reason for planting a vineyard is in the expectation of a harvest.
This is where both Israel and the church often miss it. Many seem to be under the impression that bearing fruit is optional. “I’d like to see some fruit in my life”, is their lament, but to God that’s the main reason of redemption. We need to learn the lesson that Israel missed.
God wants the world to see the result of His work in our lives. That is what the fruit of the Spirit is all about. We need to let them shine forth from us. That is what will attract people to God more than all of our fine sounding arguments.
Allow the Holy Spirit to produce in you, the evidence of a changed life. Be fruitful for the Lord.
Tags: bearing fruit, Bible, calling, Christian, Christian witness, devotion, disciple, encouragement, fruit, fruit of the Spirit, fruitfulness, God's will, Holy Spirit, prepare, results, vine, vineyard, winepress
In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.
I find that there is something about being by a river that refreshes you. The noise of the rushing water has a soothing effect on the senses. Many people use the sound of water as a background noise in their homes. It seems to have the ability to calm everything down.
At this time in Ezekiel’s life, he was in the wilderness by the Kebar River. He was there as an exile from his own country. Yet, he was able to focus in on God. It says clearly that as he was by that river, he saw visions of God.
No matter what you are going through, you need to find a place that is conducive to meeting with God. You should learn the places and conditions that calm your soul. These are the places that will really benefit your time in God’s presence.
The Lord can take a quiet, undistracted heart and renew vision, impart faith, and give direction. You may never see the heavens open up like Ezekiel did, but all it will take is one word from God to turn your whole world around.
Spend some time in His presence today quietly listening to hear His voice. Be open to the soft, gentle leading of His Spirit. Allow yourself to be renewed and refreshed in His presence.
Tags: Bible, calm, Christian, devotion, distractions, encouragement, Ezekiel, faith, fellowship, focus, God's faithfulness, God's word, Holy Spirit, holy worship, presence of the lord, refresh, renew, river, vision
I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.
When John wrote this he was in a penal colony on the wilderness island of Patmos. This was not a pleasant island getaway. His only companions were guards and criminals. Survival was a daily issue for him.
Yet, in spite of the harsh surroundings, he took time out of each week to have a special time of worship before the Lord. He called it “The Lord’s Day.” It was a day that he had set aside to hear from God – and God revealed Himself to John.
The result of this time of worship was the book of Revelation. It is the only book of the Bible that guarantees a blessing to any one who reads it and takes it to heart.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what your schedule is like. It is important to regularly set aside some time that is exclusively the Lord’s. This is a time where you put aside your goals for a while in order to hear from Him.
Of all the benefits gained from being a child of God, don’t miss out on the best one. Take time to hear from God. Set aside a day that is the Lord’s day. Even better, use that day to fellowship, worship, and praise with others in the Body of Christ. It will reap great rewards.
Tags: Bible, Christian, devotion, encouragement, fellowship, Holy Spirit, holy worship, Jesus Christ, John, Lord's Day, overcoming, Patmos, praise, prepare, presence of the lord, revelation, schedule, victory
2 Peter 1:17-18
For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
Peter is remembering back to a time when he and two other apostles received a special revelation up on a mountaintop. Jesus was transfigured before their very eyes, taking on the glory that was His from eternity past. He became robed in the majesty that was His before the foundations of the world were established. Peter calls that place the “sacred mountain.”
Where are your sacred mountains? Where are those special places where God’s Word to you changed your life? With me, I remember kneeling next to a bed at a Christian summer camp. There was also a time where God spoke to me about entering full-time ministry. There have been many such times that I can look back on.
The problem I have is that my memory is so short. It is easy for me to forget these deep encounters with God. Unless I record them, I will eventually lose the impact of my meetings with Him. I need to take the time to record these life-changing moments in my journal.
In yesterday’s post I talked about the need to record things. It is especially true when we have life changing encounters with God. These are times that must be kept for our future. To remind us of what we heard. So that when the trials and challenges come, we will remember why we are taking this road. It keeps us on track, spiritually speaking.
It is important that we find a way to remember these special times. Make sure you keep a journal and record your encounters with the Lord. Years later you will be grateful that you did.
Tags: Bible, changed life, Christ, Christian, devotion, disciple, encouragement, glory, God's faithfulness, God's word, Jesus Christ, journal, journaling, mountain, mountaintop, presence of the lord, remember, revelation, testimony, transfiguration