The book of Judges details a period of Israel’s history where a cyclical pattern is repeated. Instead of a King ruling over the people, God appointed judges over the land to settle disputes. However, because the Israelites had not dealt with the other inhabitants of the land and their false gods, they would fall away from the true God and serve idols. This would lead to them being oppressed and plundered by other tribes. God would then raise up a judge to deliver them and the people would repent. However, it would not be long before the judge died, and the people would return to evil until they once again were conquered. Unfortunately, this problem can still persist today. Often those professing Christianity can live in sin and darkness. When their sin ensnares them, they run back to Jesus for deliverance. However, it isn’t long before they once again fall prey to the temptations of this world.
In the time of Judges, the Bible says that because there was no King, “everyone did as they saw fit.” Left to our own fleshly desires, humans can come up with a form of religion and morality that suits their own purposes. It is easy to rationalize and excuse our own lifestyle. In reality, we have set ourselves as King or Queen of our own lives. We do as we see fit. Only in times of need and distress does the need for a savior become evident.
The call of Jesus is a call to death and re-birth. We die to the world and our own desires and are re-born to the Spirit of God and everlasting life. The Christ follower no longer serves him or herself, but serves the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom that is from generation to generation, a kingdom that shall never pass away! The mark of a Christian is not attending service, saying a prayer one time, or following a set of rules and regulations. It is a true surrender. It is giving our life to Jesus fresh every day. Today may you live as a servant of the one true King!
The Bible’s emphasis on prayer is thorough. Jesus’ devotion to prayer is displayed throughout the gospels. The epistles instruct us to pray without ceasing. In Philippians, Paul instructs the church not to be anxious about anything but to go to pray to God ‘in everything.’ It can be a natural pitfall of the Christian life to press into God only in the midst of dilemma. Our circumstances can provoke emotions and stresses that our beyond us, and drive us to the Lord. The loss of a loved one, unemployment, a trip to the hospital, can move us to cry to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. At other times, we can feel comfortable in our situation. We do not feel stretched or pressed, and our prayer life and intercession to God the Father can fade, and lack fervor.
Maturity in Jesus brings with it an understanding of our reliance on God. As Jesus quoted, “man does not live on bread alone, but every word from the mouth of God.” Our daily bread and strength comes from our relationship with God. We are called to live a life in constant communication with the Holy Spirit. Rather than relying on our own skills and abilities, like non-believers, we are to rely on the power and wisdom of God that is delivered to us through prayer. Although we may be confident in where we are in life, and confident in what God is doing, we should remain constant in prayer, knowing that God is bringing us to a higher place. We have been made to bring God worship and glory.
As a Christian, our life is to represent Jesus Christ, and to represent the overwhelming blessing of God in the midst of every situation. This will always be achieved, everything will reveal God’s glory, but His glory revealed through our blessing and righteousness is revealed to our degree of relationship and reliance on Him. As we acknowledge Him in all of our ways, and rely on Him even in the routine of life, understanding that if we can do something well in our own talents, He can do it extraordinarily operating through us. May you rely on God and acknowledge Him in all you do, and may He make your path straight and use your life as a demonstration of His love, power, and blessing!
In this passage of scripture, Jesus had just come down off the mount of transfiguration. Most of his disciples were below and they were unsuccessfully trying to free a boy from demonic possession. Jesus exhorts them that anything is possible to him who believes. However, when the disciples ask Jesus specifically why they couldn’t cast this demon out, Jesus replies that “this kind” of devil only comes out by prayer and fasting (some versions just say “prayer”.)
All things are possible to the person who believes. Prayer and fasting is not just a discipline that somehow in its own right grants new power. It is not in the rote action, but in the transformational process. What Jesus reveals in this passage is that prayer and fasting can take us to a level of faith that is unobtainable otherwise. “Nothing but prayer and fasting”. If there is any stronghold, sickness or disease, any spiritual oppression that has persisted, there is a new level of faith, a new level of belief that can be gained in the secret place of prayer and fasting.
God’s power and love are able to conquer any mountain we face, but it is our challenge to believe in Him. The closer we get to Him, the more we understand the limitlessness of His power and His love for us. This increasing revelation spurs our belief to new levels. Levels which see results. May you speak to your mountain today, and may it cast itself into the sea today!
Praise and worship is an important part of our devotion to the Lord. Praise and worship doesn’t necessarily mean singing. It is about declaring God’s goodness and power; it is about declaring our love and affection for Him. All of God’s creation displays His majesty and might, His justice and mercy, His wisdom and authority. When we praise and worship God, we join history and nature, which all speaks of the glory of the Lord. In 2 Chronicles 20, praise and worship is linked to victory. Judah was about to be attacked by neighboring countries. Jehoshaphat, the ruler of Judah at the time, didn’t know what to do, since it was such a large army against them. He proclaimed a fast for all of Judah and sought the Lord. His prayer praises the Lord’s power and might. He prays “we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” The Lord responded to the prayers of Judah. Jehoshaphat sent people in front of the army of Judah. Their job was to sing to the Lord and praise Him, saying “Give thanks to the Lord, for His steadfast love endures forever.” The Bible says that when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against their enemies. The invading force was completely defeated. In fact, there was so much treasure left behind, it took Judah three days to collect all of it. May you find victory today as you praise and worship the Lord!
Acts 8:35, Revelation 19:10
At the end of the gospels, Jesus declares to His disciples, “And you shall be my witnesses.” It is called the Great Commission, and from the apostles until now, it is the primary mission of the church of Jesus Christ. To be a witness is to be someone who declares what they have seen and heard. God’s son has come to the world to declare righteousness. He died to pay the penalty for sin, and was raised to new life so that we could live in Him, free from sin, alive to God, and filled with the Holy Spirit. As a Christian, we are a witness to what Jesus has done, both in our own lives, and for humanity as a whole. It is the good news of Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.
There is no better job than to be a messenger of good news. In Revelation, it is declared that the ‘testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ A prophetic word is a word that encourages, lifts up, and exhorts all those who hear and believe it. As messengers of Jesus, we spread the news of joy, hope, and love; that Jesus came into the world to redeem humanity, and provide new life. His death brought an end to the punishment of sin, and His resurrection brought a new life filled with a power over all the works of sin and the devil.
As we proclaim this message, we are reminded ourselves. In the midst of life, the news of Jesus Christ can bring clarity to who God is and what He has done. It brings encouragement in the midst of trial, hope when our situation seems lost, and victory in the midst of temptation. Just as the message of Jesus Christ brings life to all those who accept it, it brings light by the Holy Spirit to our own life and situation. Today may the gospel of Jesus Christ rise from your heart and be declared over you, your life, and to all those around you.
1 John 2:12-14
The book of 1 John is a powerful declaration of what it means to be a Christian. Its statements are incisive, dividing people into those who have God the Father in them and those that do not. Its black and white statements cut to the thoughts and intentions of the heart. They challenge the reader by providing a clarity that is striking. However, in the middle of Chapter 2, the letter changes style. Logical prose gives way to poetry; John begins to affirm his Christian readers, and in doing so, reveals the foundation of their identity.
The foundational truth of the believer in Jesus is the forgiveness of sins. Because of what Jesus has done, through faith, the sins of all who believe have been completely washed away by the blood of Jesus. This has been accomplished not through our own effort, but for Jesus’ name. Through the forgiveness that has made us holy, the name of Jesus is exalted above every other name. From our reconciled relationship with God, we now know the Father, we recognize and hear His voice speaking to us. Through the passion of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross, we are born again to new life, and have overcome all the works of the devil. As we wait upon the Lord, the Holy Spirit empowers us and grants us new strength to face the day. The Holy Spirit is present to remind us of God’s word, and hides it in our hearts. It’s the word of the Lord living inside of us each day that produces new life and transforming power. This message is not given as something to strive towards, but as an affirmational truth. A description of who we are in Jesus Christ. Today may you realize who you are in Jesus, and see the overcoming power and strength of the Lord in your life, and fully realize that you have been forgiven, and made in every whole by the blood of Jesus!
2 Cor. 6:2
Throughout His ministry, Jesus chose to spend time with the outcasts of society and the religiously unacceptable. From tax collectors, who cheated the people, to Samaritans, to prostitutes, Jesus accepted people from all walks of life and with all kinds of past. In John 8, Jesus forgives a woman caught in the act of adultery. He provided a living example of the forgiveness and acceptance that God has for humanity through His Son. All who came to Jesus in humility were accepted by Him. Often coming to Jesus took great courage and faith. The prostitute who washed Jesus’ feet, or the woman with the issue of blood, had to overcome the risk of rejection and punishment to approach Jesus. To this day, coming to Jesus requires courage. Although we live in a society with less stringent norms, the pressure of other people’s opinion, especially in religious circles, can prevent people from receiving the grace of God. However, God hasn’t changed. When Jesus’ died on the cross and rose again, He ushered in a new age of acceptance. Grace has been dispensed to the world for all who receive Jesus. Fear of rejection, fear of not measuring up, has been overcome by the blood of Jesus. Through Christ, we are made sons and daughters of God. We are accepted as children by the grace of God. The ingredients are the same as for those who boldly came to Jesus. They simply believed in Him, and believed by faith that He would accept and reward them for seeking Him out. The only ingredient that we must bring is belief. “We must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.” Once you are accepted by the heavenly Father, the rejection of others dissolves. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Today, may God wash away all of the pain, fear, and doubt from rejection, and may it all be replaced with a knowledge of the acceptance of God through Jesus Christ!
The end of Luke chapter seven details one of the most moving stories of passion and forgiveness in the bible. In the midst of dinner with religious leaders, a woman from the city quietly approaches Jesus. The bible characterizes this woman as a sinner; she was recognized the Pharisee. Her wrongdoing and reputation preceded her. She was unacceptable. She enters the house of this religious leader, risking disapproval and shame, and brings with her an expensive flask of perfume.
In an act of pure emotion, she stands behind Jesus as He reclines eating, and begins to weep. Her tears fall onto His feet. She then wipes them away with her hair and kisses His feet and anoints them with the perfume she was carrying. It was an uncomfortable, socially unacceptable, embarrassing, and completely unfiltered act of love, adoration and worship. In the midst of the Pharisee’s judgement, Jesus gives an illustration to illuminate what had just occurred. Two debtors have their debts completely cancelled. One of the debtors owed fifty, the other five hundred. Jesus asks the Pharisee, “Which will love [the moneylender] more?” Jesus then explains that the Pharisee had forgotten the customs of hospitality and affection when Jesus entered his home, but that this woman had come in and provided these acts of hospitality and affection in a deeply personal way. Jesus concludes, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”
It is easy to compare ourselves to others. We can look around and find someone in worse shape, someone who has a worse reputation, and use them to justify and rationalize our own behavior. As we build ourselves up in our own mind, we can adopt an attitude that believes we only need Jesus to forgive us for tiny indiscretions. This is a falsehood. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and the penalty for sin is death. Humanity’s circumstances are the same. None were righteous; all need a savior. Our love and devotion to Jesus is directly related to our understanding of what He has done for us. We have all been forgiven and received life-saving grace. He has made us righteous before God. When we understand where we came from, and how we have been freed from sin and death, our love for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords wells up from within us, producing acts of worship, adoration and devotion. Today may you fully realize what Jesus has done, and may a new love for God spring up from your heart, producing acts of love and worship to our savior.
1 Samuel 2:21, 1 Samuel 2:26
Samuel was dedicated to the Lord. He lived in the temple, ministering to the Lord under the priest, Eli. Eli’s sons also were priests, but they were wicked, worthless men. They abused their position to take advantage of people and commit sinful acts. They didn’t know the Lord, and had no fear of Him. Samuel’s path was different.
The Bible says “Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord.” He aspired to know God. The only way to truly get to know someone is to spend time with them. In our time in the secret place, where we worship, adore, and seek the Lord, we begin to know the Lord more deeply. In His presence is where we “taste and see that the Lord is good.” As we spend time in God’s presence, we experience His love, and our love for Him grows. Obeying His commandments is no longer a burden.
As we seek the presence of the Lord and minister to Him in all that we do, we begin to grow in God’s favor. It is a continual process. The Lord begins to cut things out of our life, and grant us a deeper understanding of Him and His nature. It is in seeking the Lord with all of our heart that He grants us the ability to find Him, and to know Him in a powerful way. His favor grants us the power to carry His love, holiness and His word in a real and tangible way. The anointing of the royal priesthood becomes more evident in our lives. Today as you seek the Lord, may He grant you favor, and may His love and glory flow from your life out to the world.
In this section of the great Psalm 119, the writer prays a prayer of sanctification. He goes before God not to ask for material blessing, or for help in circumstance, but for a transformation that leads to a greater submission to God. The psalmist asks God to teach him, to grant him understanding, to change the direction of his heart, and his gaze, to confirm God’s promise to him, and to turn away reproach. It is a prayer of holiness.
In order to please God, there must be an understanding of God’s desires, and how God wishes us to live. Scripture grants us the basis of this knowledge, but it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can understand all that God has for us, and only through hearing His voice that we learn how God wants us specifically to live. As we walk by faith, God leads us down paths of righteousness.
The psalmist also prays for a heart change. “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain.” Our human desires are often self-serving. It is through the transformative power of God that changes our nature to be like Him, and it is closeness with Him that molds our desires to His will, and draws our heart to His words and ways. This process must come with a turning away from the things of the world. “Worthless things” – be that shallow entertainment, the drama of current events, or simple natural pleasures, must never compete with our attention to God. Our eyes must be fixed on the things that are eternal. In our walk with God, we are also granted promises, both from the Word, and personally. It is a renewed faith in these promises that leads us in faith through trial and storm, and brings us into what God has for us, and in the end, eternal life.
As we speak with God, he confirms His word to us, and grants us a blessed assurance of things to come. All of these requests come from a heart that is seeking after God. It is a prayer that desires a greater surrender to God and His ways. It is through God’s answer to our prayers of sanctification that we reach purity and maturity in Him. As you long for Him and His presence today, may your prayers be answered, and may God transform you into a more perfect and faithful servant.