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.
Jesus was preceded in His 3 year earthly ministry by a powerful prophet, the “voice crying in the wilderness”, John the Baptist. John was called to prepare the way for Jesus. The preparation was powerfully simple; John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Today, repentance from sins is a basic tenant of receiving Jesus and eternal life. The writer of Hebrews refers to repentance from dead works as foundational. To believers at Corinth who are caught up in sinful acts and lifestyles, Paul expresses the need for repentant hearts.
Often, repentance is viewed in relation to regret or sorrow. Paul writes about godly sorrow that leads to repentance. Repentance in the Bible carries the idea of turning around, a change of heart, attitude, and therefore, behavior. A heart that is repentant is a heart that is pliable before the Lord. It is a heart that is prepared to hear the word of the Lord. This was the preparation that was made by John. As the people repented, their hearts were prepared to receive the good news of Jesus Christ. Along with this repentance came baptism. Baptism is an outward symbol of death and new life. As someone is submerged under water the person they were dies, and as they come up out of the water, they rise up as a new creation, a new person. A baptism of repentance is a death to the old behavior and sin, and a new life with a changed heart. The baptism of a new believer is a baptism of death to self and unrighteous, a death with Jesus, and a raising with new life and salvation in Jesus Christ.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we have been baptized into a new hope in Jesus Christ, but the Bible says we are also transformed from glory to glory. As we continue to learn and obey the voice of God, we repent of old lifestyles, ungodly ways of thinking, and dead works. It is this spirit of being open to God changing our direction and actions that invites God to continually move in our lives and transform us to reveal more of Christ’s life in us. Today, may you be encouraged by the Lord’s voice in your life, and may your heart be open and ready to change and repent before the mighty hand of God.
When the Israelites exited Egypt, a pillar of cloud would go before them during the day, and a pillar of fire by night. God’s chosen people were led by His presence. Away from the camp, the distractions, busyness, and uncleanness of the people, was the tent of meeting. It was the place that Moses would meet with God. God would speak to Moses face to face. The pillar of cloud would descend upon the tent. It was here that God would instruct Moses, but it was also here that Moses would come to know God personally, where he would grow closer to the God that brought His people out of Egypt.
When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain of the temple was torn. The separation between the people and the presence of God was removed. Now, Jesus is the curtain, the entrance, to the Holiest of Holies. Through Him, we may boldly approach the throne of grace and enter into a personal relationship with God the father. It is through Jesus that we can enter the tent of meeting and speak to God face to face. We are now able to have an encounter with His awesome presence.
Our time with the Lord should not just be a time to petition God for our desires, or just to intercede, but it should also be a time of growing in relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It should be a time of understanding God’s character, His love and forgiveness. In moments of encounter, we see new aspects of God’s glory, His goodness, and His grace. As He reveals Himself to us, we are changed and propelled to be more like Him. Today, may you leave the camp of the world enter into the secret place, and may God reveal to you more of His goodness, kindness, and His nature!
The Bible is the greatest, most breathtaking book in all of human history. The synthesis of each sentence and book into the whole comes together as a celestial symphony of God’s word. From page to page, God’s plan and desire is revealed. Each book shines light on who God is, his character, and who we are as His creation. Ultimately, it speaks of Jesus and what He has done, who we are in Him, and our future as sons and daughters of God.
For the believer, the Bible is a foundational resource. As the word of God, it acts as the foundation for teaching. God does not change, and He does not contradict what he has spoken and what has been written in scripture. Knowledge of scripture alerts us to erroneous and false teaching, to mindsets and attitudes that would lead us away from Jesus Christ.
Meditation on scripture conforms us to God. As we contemplate scripture, our minds and hearts are transformed. We gain new spiritual eyes. Eyes that see more like God sees. A mind that thinks and understands things ever closer to God’s ultimate perspective. God’s word brings wisdom and understanding that goes beyond natural deduction or psychology. God’s word is a light to our path. It lights the road ahead, allowing us to see further down the road of our own walk in life.
In all situations, scripture brings hope and edification. As we learn God’s commandments and hide them in our heart, we no longer yield to our earthly, natural desires. As we walk through life, the Holy Spirit reminds us of scripture. For a believer, reading and remembering Bible verses that apply to our daily situation can be a powerful step in consistently hearing the voice of God. Today may you have a fresh excitement to read the Bible, and may it light your road ahead, and may you hear the voice of God and the confirmation of the Holy Spirit over His word, and may the words of life be hidden in your heart.
When someone asked Jesus “what is the greatest commandment” Jesus replied “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” This commandment was very different than the focus of the religious leaders of the time. Pharisees and the religious elite focused on the rules and regulations of the law. They would “tithe” off of their trees by picking off every tenth leaf and make other impractical outward gestures to prove their obedience to God’s law. The Bible says that man looks on the outside, but God looks at the heart. Those who benefited or found status in the religious structure were happy to focus on the outward appearance of the law. Their ability to fulfill and walk in line with the commandments of God that were easy to quantify and see gave them power and prestige in Jewish society.
It is easy to fall into this mindset in current church culture. When looking at the Bible as a rulebook, it is easy to judge fellow Christians and create a hierarchy based on past or present mistakes, what is currently considered acceptable or unacceptable “Christian” behavior, or even physical appearance or perceived financial success. Jesus’ answer was not a ‘checkbox’ commandment. It is not a commandment that can be easily gauged. There is no outward zero to one hundred scale on our love of God. Sometimes children in an effort to somehow describe their amount of love will stretch out their arms as wide as they can and declare “I love you THIS much!” Love is hard to measure, but it is proven through action. Love is a powerful force that travels between two people. It occurs only in relationship.
God’s greatest commandment can only begin as the believer begins to speak to God and begins to understand God’s presence in his or her life. As the presence of God invades the believer’s life, the Bible takes new life. The knowledge of God’s goodness and forgiveness through His son Jesus Christ grows. As you spend time speaking to God today, may all outward measures of spirituality or goodness fade away and may His presence become tangible to you and may your love of God grow to new depths!