Blessed are the poor. . .

“. . . the poor in spirit. . . .”

~~ a devotional

by tkbrown

Oftentimes, when we read the Bible, we do so with our mind somewhere else. For example, how often have we read The Beatitudes with our thoughts truly centered on the meaning of those words. Today, I decided to center my devotional upon one scripture, separated from The Beatitudes and viewed in detail according to the scriptures. For this purpose, I chose:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:3 — Holy Bible: New Testament (KJV)

Matthew and Luke present scriptures that say something a bit different from the other–even though both are relating a scripture from the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. While Matthew (above) refers to “. . . poor in spirit . . .,” Luke, in chapter 6 and verse 20, says:

And He lifted up His eyes on His disciples and said, ‘Blessed be ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.'”

Luke 6:20 — Holy Bible: New Testament (KJV)

Granted, most who are poor are also poor in spirit because the poor are usually the downtrodden, those who are accustomed to doing without. When a poor person does without, there is usually no repercussions to anyone for allowing this to be–no one suffers other than the person who is poor. Thus, both presentations are correct. One does not detract from the other.

I decided to see what the Old Testament (Old Covenant) says about the “poor” or the “poor in spirit.”

For all those things hath mine hand made,and all those things have been, saith the Lord; but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”

Isaiah 66:2 — Holy Bible: Old Testament (KJV)

Here, God–Himself–acknowledges that the poor person is much more likely to “fear the Lord” and strive to live according to the Lord’s word. The wealthy are typically much more inclined to focus upon the fortune amassed and the means necessary to keep it. However, being poor by itself does not grant an eternal home with God. Rather, God said, “. . . even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.”

If we are contrite in spirt, God is able to mold and shape us according to His will. Thus, the “poor” must also be “poor in spirit.” He or she must have “a contrite spirit and tremble at [His] word.” Here, I must ask myself: Do I have a contrite spirit? Do I tremble at God’s word? Even if I think the answer is “Yes,” I must study on it to know the truth. The Beatitudes are a small portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which tells us “the spirit” of those who will go to heaven. How often–when we recite these in worship services–do we look at ourselves to determine if our spirit is right with God?

In Luke 18: 9-14, Jesus tells a parable regarding differences between the haughty, self-righteous man and one with a contrite heart.

  • 9 — “And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:”
  • 10 — “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.”
  • 11 — “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself: God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”
  • 12 — “I fast twice in the week. I give tithes of all that I possess.”
  • 13 — “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”
  • 14 — “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

Thus, Jesus said, those who are haughty in spirit will be least in heaven–if they even make it there–and those who are of a contrite, repentant spirit will be in heaven.

Have we ever TRULY REPENTED of something specific we have done? Have we talked to God about it as if He were a long-lost friend whom we had wronged and were begging their forgiveness?

Each of us has, or have had, something for which we should repent with such a spirit! Others may not be aware of this sin, but WE ARE! WE know what we have done, and we know it is wrong–even if it is not wrong in the eyes of man. Are we willing to humble ourselves as this publican did–as the apostle Matthew must have done? Matthew was a publican when Jesus called him to be His disciple. Have we ever declared ourselves to be a sinner” because of our sin whether it be past or present? The cleansing such a prayer provides is beyond the imagination of most.

Reading on in the same chapter, Luke 18: 15-17,

  • 15 — “And they brought unto Him also infants, that He would touch them; but when His disciples saw it, they rebuked them.”
  • 16 — “But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, ‘Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.
  • 17 — “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”

Infants have no sin. They are pure of heart. If they do wrong, they do not realize it is wrong, thus it is forgiven. Jesus goes on in Luke chapter 18 to show that even those who have done good all their lives may be lacking what it takes to make it into God’s kingdom and into heaven. The parable of the ruler shows how a “good person” may not have a “contrite spirit.”

Luke 18: 18-25

  • 18 — “And a certain ruler asked him saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
  • 19 — “And Jesus said unto him, ‘Why callest thou Me good? None is good, save one, that is, God.”
  • 20 — “Thou knowest the commandments. Do not commit adultery. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Honour thy father and thy mother.”
  • 21 — “And he said, ‘All these have I kept from my youth up.'”
  • 22 — “Now when Jesus heard these things, He said unto him, ‘Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me.”
  • 23 — “And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful, for he was very rich.”
  • 24 — “And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, He said, ‘How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”
  • 25 — “For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

From an early age, this parable was powerful to me. I began sewing by hand at about the age of seven or eight. So, I knew how tiny is the eye of a needle! I knew, if this man had been good all his life, yet lacked the contrite spirit required to be a child of God, I must change my ways. For, while I rarely disobeyed, I was far from sinless; and it was time I look that sin in the eye.

There have been times throughout my life when I had to look deep into my soul and come face to face with God about something I had done which was keeping me apart from Him. My prayer, now, is: if anyone reading this devotional has been pricked in the heart and has need for a session of supplication unto you, God–give him or her the strength to humble self before you.

Here in the United States, we are beginning to see the first days of spring–signs of “life renewed,” which has been our subject today. Not all days here are pleasant–some reap harvests filled with pain. On those days, I try to remember–“This, too, shall pass. — Anonymous.

I hope, wherever you are, you can–at least–enjoy some of the weather bestowed upon you. Blessings!

~~~~~~~~~~

Sources:

Eds. Bible Gateway. (1993). Matthew 5. “Holy Bible:” King James Version (KJV). biblegateway.com. (29 March 2021). Matthew 5:3 KJV – Blessed are the poor in spirit: for – Bible Gateway.

Eds. Bible Gateway. (1993). Isaiah 66:2. “Holy Bible:” King James Version (KJV). biblegateway.com. (29 March 2021). Isaiah 66:2 KJV – For all those things hath mine hand – Bible Gateway

Eds. Bible Gateway. (1993). Luke 18. “Holy Bible:” King James Version (KJV). biblegateway.com. (29 March 2021). Luke 18 KJV – And he spake a parable unto them to – Bible Gateway.

~~~~~~~~~~

Photo Above: by geralt @pixabay.com.

~~~~~~~~~~

Blessed are the peacemakers . . .

~~ a devotional

by tkbrown

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”

Matthew 5:9 — “Holy Bible: King James Version” (KJV)

I grew up going to Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and Worship Services from the age of two. So, by the time I was a Freshman in High School (1st year), I was well versed in the Bible. After my fourteenth birthday, I was asked to teach the Sunday night Bible Class for children. There were five ranging in age from five to twelve.

At one point in Physical Science class during my Freshman year, we were studying the Big Bang Theory versus Creationism. I was the only person in the room who supported Creationism. The teacher and all other students in the room supported the Big Bang Theory. Subsequently, I was the recipient of jeers and ridicule from all others in the room–including the teacher. After that–through my High School years–I did not like science and took no more science classes throughout. I never complained to anyone about the incident. In fact, I was in undergraduate studies seventeen years later (1985) when I first mentioned it to anyone. However, I launched extensive Bible Study–personal and group–because I wanted to be able to respond intelligently to questions about the topic.

When my youngest child was a toddler, one Wednesday night in Bible Class we were discussing scientific evidence against Creationism and how to discuss it with others. I asked the preacher (who was teaching the class) how to explain–when engaged in house-to-house Bible Study with someone–the earth’s age when the Bible indicates an age of 6,000 to 7,000 years, and science has unearthed dinosaur and other fossils which are said to be millions of years old. I was convinced by his answer.

He responded, “There is nothing in the Bible that says there were not other worlds before this Earth was created.” He was right! No where does the Bible even hint there were no worlds before this one. Genesis 1:2 says, “And the earth was without form, and void; . . . ” (Eds. Bible Gateway, 1993). This indicates elements existed from which God “formed” the earth. Who can say those elements did not include dinosaur fossils from the remnants of previous worlds?

As I went through Undergraduate and Graduate classes in college, I never had that dilemma again. During undergraduate Physical Science classes, I talked with the instructor after class one night about what had happened in High School. She said, “I will never do that to you or any other student. That teacher was wrong for allowing the other students to ridicule you, and he was wrong for joining them. There was no excuse for his behavior.” Immediately, I knew this instructor knew what she was made of and what other instructors should be made of. After that, I was never afraid to engage as an equal, and the ridicule never again occurred. I grew to really enjoy my science classes because they presented ideas that stimulated my desire to study both sides–Creationism and Scientific Theory.

I do believe there were other worlds that existed before this one. Science is now proving this to be possible by the evidence being amassed to support past life on other planets. Now, as the asteroid flew past our planet in 2018 (Earl, 2018; George, 2018), a meteorite from another asteroid recently fell to a driveway in England (Lewis, 2021), and just last week, one flew past Vermont so closely it “shook and rattled buildings” (Eds. Associated Press, 2021; Eds. CBS Boston, 2021: Hall, 2021), divergent scientific theories attempt to explain the cosmic events. One theory regarding the 2018 meteorite noted the similarities between it and comets sailing through outer space. It was quite long and would have done much damage if it had hit the earth. It probably would have severed a part of the earth which would then have joined it traipsing around through space. Was it perhaps a fossilized portion of another word?

Through the years, I never created a scene about any incident related to the topic of Biblical Creationism Theory versus Scientific Theory of Earth’s beginnings. I peacefully said what needed to be said and exited the topic. I was never one who enjoyed heated disagreements. I have always preferred to calmly discuss concerns to resolve any disagreement. I have continually prayed about this and other related and similar concerns. I have noted much by way of scientific research supporting rather than disproving Biblical Creationism. I have seen the truth of 2 Peter 3:16 which says, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of things in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction,” (Eds. King James Bible Online, 2007). As much as I wish it were otherwise, I can do or say nothing to change the beliefs of those so hardened against the scriptures. I must accept it and move on. I will say, though, my extensive studies on the topics have only served to strengthen my beliefs in God, Christ, and the Creation.

~~~~~~~~~~

Sources:

Earl, Jennifer. (16 April 2018). Asteroid the size of a football field makes ‘surprise’ flyby close to Earth. “Fox News.” foxnews.com. (21 March 2021). Asteroid the size of a football field makes ‘surprise’ flyby close to Earth | Fox News.

Eds. Associated Press, Wire Service Content. (8 March 2021). Meteor Spotted Over Northern New England and Canada. “U.S. News.” The Associated Press: apnews.com. (21 March 2021). Meteor spotted over northern New England and Canada (apnews.com).

Eds. Bible Gateway. (1993) Genesis 1 “Holy Bible:” King James Version (KJV). biblegateway.com. (21 March 2021). Genesis 1 KJV – In the beginning God created the heaven – Bible Gateway.

Eds. CBS Boston. (9 March 2021). Meteor Over Northern Vermont Seen By People Around New England. “CBS Boston.” Microsoft News: msn.com. (21 March 2021). Meteor Over Northern Vermont Seen By People Around New England – CBS Boston (cbslocal.com).

Eds. King James Bible Online. (November 2007). 2 Peter 3:16. “[Holy Bible] King James Bible Online.” kingjamesbibleonline.org. (21 March 2021). 2 PETER 3:16 KJV “As also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be…” (kingjamesbibleonline.org).

George, Steve, CNN. (6 November 2018). Cigar-Shaped Interstellar Object May Have Been Alien Probe, Harvard Paper Claims. “WBZ 04.” CBS Boston: boston.cbslocal.com. (21 March 2021). Cigar-Shaped Oumuamua May Have Been Alien Probe, Harvard Paper Claims – CBS Boston (cbslocal.com).

Hall, Louise. (9 March 2021). Meteor tears across Vermont sky: ‘Extremely bright and absolutely spectacular.’ “Independent.” Microsoft News: msn.com. (21 March 2021). Meteor tears across Vermont sky: ‘Extremely bright and absolutely spectacular’ (msn.com).

Lewis, Sophie. (9 March 2021). Extremely rare meteorite found in wake of spectacular U.K. fireball may contain the “building blocks of life.” “CBS News.” cbsnews.com. (21 March 2021). Extremely rare meteorite found in wake of spectacular U.K. fireball may contain the “building blocks of life” – CBS News.

~~~~~~~~~~

Photo Above: by Daniel_Mingook_Kim@Unsplash.com.

~~~~~~~~~~

All Things Work Together . . .

~~ a devotional

by tkbrown

Romans 8:24-39

  • 24 — “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope, for why does one still hope for what he sees?”
  • 25 — “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
  • 26 — “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
  • 27 — “Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
  • 28 — “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
  • 29 — “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
  • 30 — “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified, and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
  • 31 — “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
  • 32 — “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
  • 33 — “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”
  • 34 — “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
  • 35 — “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
  • 36 — “As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.'”
  • 37 — “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
  • 38 — “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come,”
  • 39 — “nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Source: Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV).

~~~~~~~~~~

Notes:

In the eighth chapter, twenty-eighth verse of his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul tells us to keep uppermost in our mind the promise: “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Oftentimes, we tend to become discouraged by all the negatives in our lives, and we might complain there are not enough positives happening. The past year is one of the times this might be more apt to occur. Is this something you struggle with? Are you discouraged by all that has happened to you, your loved ones, your family, and your country during the past year? If so, you are not alone. Many others struggle with the same spiritual ailment. Furthermore, it is not a new trial faced by modern-day Christians. It has been here since the inception of Christ’s life on earth and before.

When we are tempted by Satan or one of his many demonic slaves, we can rest assured that nothing they do can harm our soul–unless we allow it. There is an old saying my Mama often quoted: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” (Anonymous). As many have pointed out, words can and do hurt, often for a lifetime. However, Paul is telling the Romans, “If you are one of those who have been called according to His purpose, Jesus life, death, resurrection, and ascension offers hope for life after death through Him becoming “sin”–all of the world’s sin–and the sacrifice of His life in place of ours. All who hear His calling, obey His commands, and continue in His Light have this “hope,” and those who abide in His Way can be assured of eternal life with Him and God the Father.

When we mess up, if we have heard and obeyed the requirements He sets forth in the New Testament, Christ and the Spirit make intercession for us with God the Father. Christ determines who is abiding Him and who is not. If I abide in His Way unto death, I not only have the hope of that gift, He assures me I will receive that gift, and I will be in heaven after I die. If I know I am abiding in Him, I no longer have to hope for eternal life, I can know I will receive it–I can “see” it.

I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I am a sinner. Because of my sin, I deserve eternal damnation, not eternal life with God and Christ. When I sin, I have the assurance, as God’s child, Christ will make intercession and insure that sin is wiped from my slate IF I repent of that sin and go back to living the way He has instructed. He also has assured me–as Paul states in Romans 8:28–I can know that whatever happens to me in “this life,” it all works together for my good.

Each trial and tribulation we endure–and remain in Him as we endure–works with all other events in my life for my good. If I learn from my mistakes, I can also learn from the mistakes of others. I can ask (pray) for guidance when I do not know what I should do in a specific situation. He will guide me to the answer in some way. I may read the answer in something I come across. I may hear someone talking and “say” the answer even though that person is talking to someone else. I can even “know” His will by the fact that I have no choice as to what I do. Someone or some statute tells me what I “must” do. Even when what I am doing appears to be sin to others, if I learn from it and address it through prayer, He makes intercession for me. If the prophets of old were hindered from attending tabernacle by being cast into a dungeon–or by some other means–it was not held against them when they addressed it through prayer to God.

Again, whatever life throws at us, we can know it will work to our ultimate good if we abide in the way Christ set forth. No one else can do it for me, and no one else can offer me forgiveness for my sin unless that sin involved that person in some way. We can rest in peace with the assurance that everything we experience and endure will work together for our good. This is faith in His promise. He said it–albeit through His apostle–but He said it; so, it is true.

God knew before we were ever birthed on this earth, what our response would be to His calling. He is omnipotent. He was, and is, and always will be. His Son is basically His apology to mankind for not having a plan for “all” to be forgiven and live eternally with Him in heaven.

I, personally, appreciate His sacrifice. What more can one do to let another know he/she loves that person? God’s Son died on the cross for MY SIN– not His sin–MINE! How can I ever justify not abiding in His Way? How can I ever “not” want to spend eternity with God and Jesus Christ?

If you heed Christ’s calling and obey the instructions He set forth, you too can be assured of your home in heaven. So, whatever happens here on earth–know there is a purpose for it in God’s great plan for things. Know, that everything will work together for your good, too–if you heed and abide in His Way!

In the book, Acts of the Apostles, chapter 10, verses one through five tell of Cornelius, an Italian centurion. He and his whole house were good people; they gave alms and prayed for guidance. Their faith and Christ-like actions came to God’s attention. As a result, God maneuvered events in Cornelius’ life so he and his house could know what they must do to be a part of Christ’s church and abide in heaven forever. Thus, Cornelius and his whole house immediately became Christians–in the middle of the night–and they became the first “Gentiles” to be added to Christ’s church.

Prior to this time, God’s plan of salvation had only been available to those of the Jewish nation. If a Gentile wanted to be the recipient of that salvation, he/she had to first become a part of the Jewish nation. Then they could be offered God’s plan. Christ’s birth, death, resurrection, and ascension changed this. He freely “gave” so that we might “freely live.”

So, if a person iis truly searching for answers, as we see in the example of Cornelius and his household, God will guide that person to the answers, or He will guide others to that person to provide those answers. Then, the choice lies with that person. He/She has the choice to obey or to reject Christ’s teachings. So, the choice that person makes determines their eternal destiny.

I pray that all will want to live with God and Christ in heaven throughout eternity. However, His Word tells me this will not be the case. Many will not believe or obey Christ’s teachings. Even so, I continue to pray all will obey Him.

My hope and prayer is that each of you will have a peaceful and blessed day amid all the turmoil in the world about you. Be Blessed and Stay Safe!

~~~~~~~~~~

Photo Above: by Jasmin Ne @Unsplash.com.

~~~~~~~~~~

Charity

~~ a devotional

by tkbrown

I Corinthians 13:13: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

The word “charity,” in the New King James Version (NKJV), is translated “love.” Thus, in this passage written by Paul to the Corinthians, the two words might be used interchangeably. Apparently, there were many issues concerning the Christians at Corinth. In chapter 13, Paul addresses the need for love to abound. He notes a number of achievements to be worked toward as Christians in Christ’s church; then he cautions that without “charity” or “love” none of these is worth anything in Christ’s church. Though one may attain a high level of honor, without love, that person is nothing in God’s eyes.

How often do we, today, teach the importance of “charity” or “love?” Love, or charity, should be a frequent topic of our Bible lessons. It takes extensive study on the topic to exhibit the love Christ had, and has, for His church.

Love is one character trait deserving of frequent address. Too often we “go through the motions” but they mean nothing to us. Verse 2 says:

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing”–I Corinthians 13:2–NKJV.

Though it is possible to have faith enough to accomplish any feat—with God’s help–if I have not ”charity” or “love,” faith profits me nothing.

Faith, hope, and love are the three most essential characteristics of a Christian. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17–NKJV). “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1—NKJV) Faith is instilled by hearing, reading, and learning the word of God. It is important to follow hearing with study in order to learn the true meaning of the scripture presented. Paul told Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15–KJV). When we hear the Word, that hearing must be followed by our own private study to ensure we understand what is being said, when it was said, to whom, and about what. Thus, we learn the true meaning of the scripture uttered in our hearing.

The more we study God’s Word, the more it impresses upon us the need for love in our own character. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:43-47

43 — “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy,”

44 – “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you;”

45 – “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

46 – “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?”

47 – “And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?”

 The more we try to emulate Christ, the more love we will extend love to others. It is a tall order to “love our enemies and do good to them.” This tells us, if we have not love we are not emulating Christ—we are but pretenders. This pretense means nothing to God and will not ensure entry into heaven. We must grow as Christians if we are to hold the love for others that Jesus requires.

A new Christian has learned to love him-/herself enough to want to spend eternity with God and Christ. A mature Christian has grown in the emulation of Christ so that love is evident. Christ laid down His life to save us. How many of us would do the same?

~~~~~~~~~~

Photo Above: by reenablack @pixabay.com.

~~~~~~~~~~

Sources:

Eds. biblegateway.com. (2021). Holy Bible – New King James Version (NKJV). 1975 by Thomas Nelson Publishers. www.biblegateway.com. (26 January 2021). www.biblegateway.com.

Eds. Biblegateway.com (2021). Holy Bible – King James Version (KJV). 1987 by Thomas Nelson Publishers. www.biblegateway.com. (26 January 2021). www.biblegateway.com.

~~~~~~~~~~

Complaining and Disputing

            ~~ a devotional

by tkbrown

Philippians 2:14-16

  • 14 – “Do all things without complaining and disputing,”
  • 15 – “that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,”
  • 16 – “holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”

As Christians, our attitude toward daily life sets us apart from the world and from those who follow Satan. In Philippians Chapter 2, Paul tells us to “Do all things without complaining and disputing . . . .” An attitude of complaint works against our becoming emulators of Christ.

To be a Christian means to be “emulators of Christ.” In I Corinthians 11:1 (NKJV), Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Was Christ ever complaining about His mission as God’s Son here on earth. No, even in the throes of death, He merely asked God “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46 (NKJV) says, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘E’li, E’li, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ and the King James Version says ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ But He never complained.

When He prayed on the mount during the night preceding his arrest, Jesus asked for “His cup” to pass from Him adding, “but thy will, not mine be done.” Matthew 26:39 gives an account of this: “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’” With Christ as our Mediator with God, we are not expected to accept everything without questioning ‘why’, but we are asked to do even that without complaint or dispute. If we manage our attitude, we will be shown the ‘why’ of those things expected of us. However, even if we are not shown the ‘why’, we are still asked to do without complaint or dispute.

How many times do we catch ourselves complaining about our ‘due’ in life? Even complaining in thought can be destructive to a “Christ attitude.” It is imperative that we review our thoughts in a prayerful attitude, as Christ did daily, to prevent the attitude of those thoughts from spilling into our actual interactions with others. To attempt living our daily interactions without guidance from God and Christ is to make our souls vulnerable to Satan and his wiles.

“Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17 – KJV), Paul tells us. Jesus obviously prayed without ceasing. In studying His life, we often see Him retreating from the world to pray – often praying all night and into the next morning. In our studying of His life, we have already seen this to be true: “So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” (Luke 5:16 NKJV). If even He did so, why should we not do the same? To pray without ceasing does not necessarily mean on bended knee all of the time. If I am to emulate the life of Christ, all that I do must be done with a prayerful attitude. If I am engaging in some activity that challenges my ability to emulate Christ in His life here on earth, I should be uttering prayers for guidance “under my breath” the whole time. Thus, even in times of trial, we are open to God’s guidance. If we ever believe we have arrived at a place where we can achieve this without a prayerful attitude, we have just given our souls over to Satan who deceives us into believing we can do it on our own.

The events of this world today are presenting trying times, and many of us may soon be faced with choices as to whom we follow in life. Are we ready for such challenges? Can we do it alone? Indeed not! We can only meet these challenges with a prayerful attitude.

~~~~~~~~~~

Photo Above: by reenablack @pixabay.com.

~~~~~~~~~~

Sources:

Eds. biblegateway.com. (2021). Holy Bible – New King James Version (NKJV). 1975 by Thomas Nelson Publishers. www.biblegateway.com. (26 January 2021). www.biblegateway.com.

Eds. Biblegateway.com (2021). Holy Bible – King James Version (KJV). 1987 by Thomas Nelson Publishers. www.biblegateway.com. (26 January 2021). www.biblegateway.com.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Healing Power of Faith

~~ a devotional ~~

~~ by tkbrown — ≥∑

“So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief, for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move and nothing will be impossible for you.'”

Holy Bible (New King James Version)Matthew 17:20

If faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain, what can faith do for us in our daily lives? How many times have you said to yourself, “If I could just _____.” Fill in the blank with whatever you may have desired. This is not to say if we ask for a million dollars with an undying faith, we will receive it. We probably won’t, but not because we didn’t have adequate faith.

Perhaps when we do not get the object of our prayers, we ask in the wrong spirit, or we ask for the wrong thing, or maybe we just are not ready for that prayer to be answered. For example, if I ask for something that will lead me astray, I may or may not get it. If I do get it, it will test my resolve to serve God and Jesus. Perhaps God is using my prayer and the object of my desire to refine my faith, making it purer by skimming off the sin associated with that request. The refinement will only occur if I survive the “smelting process,” remaining true to my faith in God throughout or–if I have given in to temptation–returning to that faith at some point in a spirit of repentance.

Sometimes, when we are “too sure of our faith,” we stray because our faith has been placed in ourselves instead of in Jesus Christ and God in heaven above. Sometimes–during this “faith in ourselves”–we fail the refinement process because we have placed our faith in another person or persons rather than in Jesus Christ’s ability to carry us through any storm.

Putting our faith in another follower of Christ–or group of followers– can take the wind from beneath our wings if those brothers and sisters in Christ fail us in a time of true need. It is during such times that we must keep our “eye” on Christ in order to receive His guidance and strength. If I have never truly strayed before, this might be just what is needed for me to realize the depth of my sin and my need for forgiveness. Sometimes, when we are too certain of our faith, we have to fall hard before we can renew that faith by repenting and begging God’s forgiveness.

Then again, there are times when the sin in our lives prior to repentance and the receiving of God’s forgiveness was so great there is no doubt in our mind of our need. Prior to his conversion, Paul (then Saul) of Tarsus had set about destroying the followers of Christ. Truly believing he was doing what God wanted, Paul put everything he had into the effort. Then, he was stricken blind when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. This gave him a few days to think about his past and what he had been doing.

When Ananias came to him and instructed Paul in what he must do, he repented and was baptized immediately (Acts 9:1-22).

Acts 9:1-22 (NKJV)

  • 1 — “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest”
  • 2 — “and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”
  • 3 — “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.”
  • 4 — “Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?'”
  • 5 — “And he said, “Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'”
  • 6 — “So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do‘”
  • 7 — “And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.”
  • 8 — “Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.”
  • 9 — “And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”
  • 10 — “Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias, and to him the Lord said in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.'”
  • 11 — “So the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus for behold, he is praying.'”
  • 12 — “‘And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.'”
  • 13 — “Then Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.'”
  • 14 — “‘And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.'”
  • 15 — “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.'”
  • 16 — “‘For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My names sake.'”
  • 17 — “And Ananias wen his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.'”
  • 18 — “Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.”
  • 19 — “So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.”
  • 20 — “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.”
  • 21 — “Then all who heard were amazed, and said, ‘Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?'”
  • 22 — “But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.”

After this time, Paul was even more zealous for Christ’s cause than he had been against it prior to the forgiveness received when he was appointed the replacement apostle for Judas Iscariot. Later, in Chapter One, Verse Fifteen of Paul’s First Letter of instruction to Timothy, he said: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” In this statement, Paul told Timothy he had “seen the light” regarding the ill-founded reasoning of his past and was not ashamed to admit his wrongdoing because his forgiveness proved Jesus purpose for coming to this earth.

The devotional scripture I have chosen today (below) reveals a faith that would move mountains. This woman had suffered female problems for twelve years. She and been to doctor after doctor and had suffered many treatments–some of them apparently quite painful–to no avail. The only thing she had to represent her faith in doctors was destitute poverty.

When this woman heard about Jesus healing the sick, the maimed, and the demon possessed, she knew she would be healed if it were possible to merely touch the garment He wore. She knew she would not need Him to touch her, she would be healed by the power in the garment He wore. Upon learning Jesus was in the area, she pressed through the crowds surrounding Him and . . . finally . . . she managed to touch the hem of His garment. Immediately, she was healed. Immediately the flow of blood stopped!

When Jesus turned and asked, “Who touched Me?” she just knew she was in trouble. She tried to shrink away and hide–then, He looked here in the eye. She knew, He knew it had been her. So, she went forward and fell at His feet. Tearfully she told of her lengthy plight and her faith she would be healed if she could only touch His garment. She needed not disturb Him, she would be healed by the power in His garment.

When Jesus heard her reasoning behind touching His robe, He said “her faith had healed her,” and He told her to “go in peace.” Can you imagine her relief at the understanding of His forgiveness and of the fact that her faith in Him had saved her? What an example for those of us looking for a source of strength in this day and time! We need look no further than the example this woman provides. Whatever our need, whatever our ailment, whatever our weakness, He will heal us if only we believe.

I pray our hearts will always be open to the guidance and strength Jesus provides if only we believe He can and will. I cannot count the times this has been proven in my life, and I am thankful for each. I know I have sinned and come short of God’s glory. I know Jesus forgiveness for that sin and His guidance will pull me through and into heaven at day’s end. It is my prayer that each person reading this devotional can see the same in his or her life. For those who are not quite there yet, I pray somehow the path can be seen and followed before it is too late.

Blessings, and for those in America and those who join us in spirit this week, Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for Christ, for His forgiveness, and for His loving guidance when I get out of my own way. For what are you thankful this holiday week? Please feel free to share in the comments below.

Mark 5:25-34 (NKJV)

  • 25 — “Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years.”
  • 26 — “and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse.”
  • 27 — “When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment.”
  • 28 — “Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.”
  • 30 — “And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched My clothes?'”
  • 31 — “But His disciples said to Him, ‘You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?””
  • 32 — “And He looked around to see her who had done this thing.”
  • 33 — “But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.”
  • 34 — “And He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your affliction.'”

~~~~~~~~~~

Wind Beneath My Wings – lyrics – BETTE MIDLER

~~~~~~~~~

I know this song may not have been written to reflect faith in Jesus Christ, but it perfectly describes my faith in Him. He is “everything I would like to be” and He is “the wind beneath my wings.” Only with His love, support, strength, and guidance will I be able to be true to my quest of serving God. Listen to the song and apply the words to a faith in Jesus Christ. Let me know what you think. Do you think they can describe faith in Jesus Christ?

~~~~~~~~~~

Source: Holy Bible — New King James Version (NKJV)

~~~~~~~~~~

Photo Above: by Brigitte @ Unsplash.com.

~~~~~~~~~~