Weekly Devotional

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Each person should desire to grow closer to God, understand His will for their lives and do this by a deeper study in God's Word. Study tools provide a way to supplement personal Bible study.  Each week, the devotional posted will focus on a section of Scripture. We encourage you to make daily Bible reading and study a part of your daily routine.

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"...but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" 2 Peter 3:1

He is our Peace.

Posted in Weekly Devotional

How very great are the mercies of God! Those who were once dead in trespasses and sins, who in times past walked according to the course of this world, NOW have been quickened, made alive by the grace and mercy of God....

 We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus that we should walk in good works. All those other characterizations are all past. No more walking according to the course of this world, no more strangers, no more aliens, no more having no hope, no more without God in this world. All that is past! But why and how? Now they were “In Christ”, now they have been made near “by the blood of Christ.” It wasn’t their own doing. It wasn’t something they earned or merited. It was the grace and mercy of God.

 The real beauty of those words, of the picture that Paul wants you to see, is almost beyond our comprehension. It is amazing just to picture in our minds where we once were and where we are at this moment.... from out of Christ to into Christ. We can’t help but ask HOW?     

He is our peace. Notice verse 17 “And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.” He is the One who can bring it all back together and make peace.

 He has broken down the middle wall of partition; those barriers that separate, specifically those that were found in the Old Testament Law. Those that gave rise to the idea of Jew and Gentile and specifically that the Jew was superior to the Gentile; that one group is better than another. In certain areas of our world, people are considered to be born into a certain caste and they can never escape from that caste. If they were born into a family of servants, then they will be a servant, a person born to rule must be served. A high caste person could not go into the market place for he would be contaminated by the common persons. But in Christ Jesus this is no longer a reality... all are one in Christ. He has made both One.

There are two words in the Greek language for new.. One means new in point of time, i.e. a new car, a new pen, a new house; The other is new in quality; first of its kind.

 The law of Christ is not for the purpose of remaking the Jew... Won’t make a Jew out of a Gentile.. or a Gentile out of a Jew... but will make a new man. It won’t make you just like somebody else... but a new person, but only if you are completely given to it

Ephesians 2:14-17

Colossians 2:13-15

Made Nigh, by the Blood of Christ

Posted in Weekly Devotional

Paul has graphically painted in words the pathetic condition of those outside of Christ. They were” without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” But did you notice the wording of this verse it is much like that of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.  Ephesians 2:12 reads “at that time you were” but then notice the joyously happy note of verse 13... “But now in Christ”.. What a difference being in Christ makes!!

The “you” indicates the Gentiles... notice verse 11 where that is clearly shown. And if Christ can destroy the intense feeling of prejudice the Jew held against the Gentile, He can solve all of man’s problems. The Jews had put up barriers and shut out others but they were not the only ones to do so. Man in every generation and locality has done the same thing, just as you and I often do. But there is a place in Christ where that does not exist. Where it no longer matters how much education, money what kind of house you live in, or the car you drive, or the color of your skin or whatever.. we are all one in Christ.

We have been brought near by the blood of Christ. James 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Hebrews 10:22 “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” And again in Hebrews 7:19 “ For the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing if of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” Now obviously we do so through worship, through the new covenant brought into effect by Jesus Christ.

But notice that it all hinges upon one fact, the one thing that makes it all possible... the blood of Jesus. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.

Ephesians 2:13

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Hebrews 9:22

Galatians 3:28

New For A Purpose

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Ephesians 2:10

The Grace of God is a marvelous thing! Paul has spoken of that in the previous verses. We have actually been raised  up that we might sit with Him in heavenly places and that in ages to come He might show the “exceeding riches of His grace.” And then in verses 8, 9 He shows how that Grace is given to us. It is Grace through faith. Not Grace unconditionally, or unlimited. It is not Grace given because of our merit or works. It isn’t my effort that produces the Grace of God.... Nothing about which I can boast. It is the gift of God.

It is through that Grace that we become new creatures, born again, saved. Later on he shows the contrast between those out of Christ and those in Christ and it is the Grace of God that makes the difference. There is a vast difference between lost and saved; between Christian and non-Christian, between the world and God. And that difference is Grace.

Now notice the next verse, our test. The word “for” indicates a conclusion to be drawn from that which precedes it. Because Grace is a gift of God; through faith, we are God’s workmanship. We became new creatures by God’s decree. It is His workmanship that makes us new. Man isn’t born of his own will. We did not choose to be born. Nor is a Christian made of his own effort. When we arise from the waters of baptism to walk in newness of life... it is God’s work that has made us new.

Now that we are new there is a work for us to do. We are “created unto good works.” No wonder that Paul wrote to the Philippians to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Our whole life should now be given to doing those things that we consider good. God ordained that we should walk in them because He wants His children to do that which is righteous, to be God’s children we must live like His Children.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Romans 8:9

John 6:63

How do we live for Christ?

For By Grace

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Ephesians 2:8,9

Universally this is one of the better known passages in the entire Bible. Probably as many people have heard these words or could recite them as any other passage in the Bible. And yet the subject matter that most ascribe to these words is somewhat different than that which the writer had in mind. Most look at these verses as a beautiful passage on Grace ...and that it is. Some look on them as an all encompassing passage on how to be saved... and that it is not. Paul had, I think, two purposes in mind... He wanted to show the greatness of God’s grace and mercy. And he wanted to strike a telling blow at man’s fierce pride.

This text is directed at the root of most of man’s troubles. ..His own pride. It was through pride that the angels of heaven fell away from God and were cast out of glory. 1 Timothy 3:6 Satan himself was lifted up with pride. This attacks man’s pride where he feels the strongest... his own works. How natural that man should boast of his works....he can out swim the fish, out fly the birds, out run the fleetest antelope. Through his inventions he has unlocked the secrets of the atom, removed mountains, changed the course of rivers, sent submarines around the world non-stop, beneath the surface o the rolling seas. All of these have inflated man with an overwhelming sense of importance and pride. And from the very beginning God has sought to control man’s pride. God took control of the building of the tower of Babel, bringing the work to an abrupt halt.  Titus 3:5 says, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20

But in the area of salvation it is not by works. .. Now by saying it is not by works does not mean that salvation is unconditional. God has always extended his blessings to the obedient. Even this passage shows that grace is not unconditional... we are saved by Grace through faith... without faith grace is not extended. Without obedience there could be no faith. James 2:18 ”But someone will say, ‘you have faith, and I have works.‘ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

Man hasn’t earned salvation... the privilege to sit in God’s kingdom... to be in His family. God doesn’t owe me salvation. It is not of myself... It is God’s gift... conditional. Not something that I can boast of meriting. John 6:29 “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” Luke 13:3 “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Matthew 10:32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.” And then Mark 16:16 “He who believers and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” So there are conditions to accepting the Grace that God offers 

Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians

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                                        Ephesians 1:16,17

Paul concludes a powerful section of the letter to the Ephesians with Verse 14. The greatness of God’s goodness to us is shown in these verses. Verse 13 and 14 shows that they share with Paul in the treasure that belongs to Christ. They have heard the word of Truth they trusted or believed in the word of Truth, they have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise, and because of that Paul says that he ceases not to give thanks to God for them. Because of their faith and love toward God and their love unto all the saints.... there can be no faith and love toward God unless it is demonstrated through our love toward all men. These are two fundamental aspects of all religion.

Now notice his prayer.

He prays that they receive the Spirit of wisdom (the Greek word is Sophia; the deep things of God), and that they may be led deeper and deeper into a knowledge of eternal truths. But there are some basics necessary before the Ephesians, or ourselves even, can be led deeper and deeper into that knowledge of eternal truths. First We must have an independent thinking people. Some attempt to avoid that individual thinking aspect of religion. Goldsmith said, “As I take my shoes from the shoemaker, my coat from the tailor, so I take my religion from the priest.” And there are many people like that. But the religion of the Bible shows that you and I must be thinking people. ...thinking our way to God.

Secondly we must have a powerful pulpit. Unless the pulpit exposes the writings of God to the people it has failed. We must not be so interested in what the preacher says as we are in what God says. Preachers must get out of the way. Paul was determined to know nothing save Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). It wasn’t about Paul, it was about Christ.

Thirdly we must love to meditate upon the Word. David said in Psalms 119:70 “I delight in Your law.” And he added in another place that he “mediated in it day and night.” Paul urged that we should “ (Colossians 3:16). How often we are so involved in other things that we simply don’t have time to talk about God’s word.... much less study and think about it!.
2 Timothy 2:15
2 Peter 1:10
1 John 3:19

Get Behind Me

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Get Behind Me

 

"But He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.'” (Matthew 16:23).

Jesus had seen Satan face to face in the early days of His earthly ministry (Luke 4:1-13). He had even said to the devil, "Get behind me, Satan." But when He uttered these same words in the context noted above, He wasn't looking into the eyes of the father of lies. Instead, He was gazing at Peter, one of His beloved apostles. This is the same Peter whom the Lord had just commended for his confession that Jesus is the Christ (Matthew 16:16-17). This is the same Peter for whom Jesus often prayed (Luke 22:32). In fact, this is the same Peter to whom the Savior had granted the very keys of His kingdom (Matthew 16:19). Peter? Satan? How could those two names ever meet in this one man who had left his home to follow Jesus (Mark 1:16-18) and who would later give his life to and for the Lord (John 21:18-19)?

Even though Jesus was looking at Peter, He heard the tone of Satan's temptation in His apostle's voice. Jesus was on a mission. He was getting closer to the time in which He would feel the full force of the devil's wrath via the cross. It would be difficult (Luke 22:44), but Jesus was committed to His mission (Matthew 26:53-54). He did not want or need anyone, even a beloved disciple, to distract Him.

Satan's attacks come from many sources. Sometimes these sources are even friends and family members. Sometimes these individuals mean well but their words nonetheless serve as temptations to us to turn from God. Sometimes these individuals, yes, even friends and family, do NOT mean well and their desire is to knock us off the path to eternal life and drag us down with them on their road to everlasting destruction. We should love these individuals, even as Jesus loved Peter, but we should also make it clear that we will not be deterred in our walk with God. Satan used Peter to try to stop Jesus. The Lord told him to get out of the way. May we have the same determination and courage whenever Satan uses someone, ANYONE, to hinder our service to God.

 

Verses For Daily Study

Questions For Daily Introspection

Day 1

Psalm 119:11

How can I hide God's Word in my heart?

Day 2

Psalm 101:3

What are some wicked things that I could see that would lead me away from God? How can I keep from setting them before my eyes?

Day 3

Psalm 119:10

Why must the heart be involved in service to God?

Day 4

Philippians 4:13

In what ways does this verse encourage me?

Day 5

Philippians 3:13-14

What does it mean to "press to the goal"?

Day 6

Mark 10:29-30

What did Jesus mean by the statement in these verses?

Day 7

Hebrews 12:1

What "weights" must I put off today in order to better run the race that is set before me?

Accepted, Redeemed, Forgiven

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Ephesians 1:6,7

What a thought it is that God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Jesus Christ; He has chosen us before the foundation of the world; He has predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ. And now Paul even addes to that great list of what God has done for us. 

Surely is to His great praise that He has been so wonderful toward us. The gift list that Paul begins here is amazing as to its all inclusiveness. And all of that points toward one great trait of God and that is His grace. God’s grace is that gift of God that we have not deserved. It is providing us with these great gifts even though we do not, nor ever could earn or merit them. Grace is God’s wanting to save us in spite of ourselves and not because of ourselves.

We are accepted. I like the idea so very much of being accepted in the beloved...but notice where that acceptance is, “In the beloved” and it was “by His grace.” Now the implication is quite strong that “the beloved” refers to Christ. Notice the first of the next verse it is “In Him” that we have access to this Grace. In other words the grace of God is shown in Christ....and it is the grace of God that makes us acceptable. Remember because of past sins we are unacceptable to God, of and by ourselves.. we have done those things that would render us unacceptable. But God because of His great love provided salvation anyway.

We are Redeemed. “In whom we have redemption,... in Christ.” The word translated “redemption” actually means “deliverance or to ransom”. It is the same word used for ransoming a man who is a prisoner. It is the word used for freeing a man from the penalty of death. It is the word used for God’s deliverance of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. In every case is it used to describe delivery from a situation from which he himself was powerless. But our redemption was not a simple thing... It cost the blood of Jesus Christ.

We have forgiveness. How marvelous is this word, forgiveness. Grace implies that I am unworthy ..which I am. Redemption implies that I am in a situation in which I cannot find an escape by myself.  Forgiveness implies that the situation is now gone; that I do not have to face those sins or that circumstance again; that God is giving me an opportunity to begin all over again. 

What great blessings God has made available for us! But always remember that Acceptance, Redemption and Forgiveness all come by faith and obedience.

True Love

Posted in Weekly Devotional

" If you love Me, keep My commandments." (John 14:15).
In today's society, there's an apparent disconnect between love and obedience in spiritual matters. It seems as though some feel that stressing the importance of obeying God's Word borders on legalism, ritualism, Pharisaism , etc. Love and obedience are polar opposites in their minds.
Jesus' words in John 14:15 make it very clear that we show God true love BY obedience to His commandments. If we truly love Him, we will do what He says. Jesus' obeyed God's commands perfectly (I Peter 2:22). He came to do the Father's will (Hebrews 10:7). Certainly we would not accuse Him of being legalistic, ritualistic, Pharisaical, etc.
Jesus also said, " Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." (Matthew 7:21). We must obey God if we want to go to heaven. The obedience must be from the heart (Romans 6:17) and not thoughtless or careless. We can talk about love all day long, but, according to our Lord, true love shows itself in obeying His Word. True love for God and true obedience to His commands simply cannot be separated. True love motivates true obedience and true obedience is the result of true love

 

                                      Verses For Daily Study
Questions For Daily Introspection
Day 1
John 15:13-14
How did Jesus demonstrate His love to us?
Day 2
Matthew 15:8
Why must service to God be from the heart?
Day 3
Matthew 12:50
How can I grow in my knowledge of the will of God?
Day 4
Hebrews 5:8
Why did Jesus need to learn to be obedient?
Day 5
John 4:34
Is doing God's will the main focus of my life like it was for Jesus?
Day 6
Matthew 5:20
How must our righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees?
Day 7
I John 1:6-10
What does it mean to walk in the light?

Made Alive

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Made Alive

Ephesians 2:4-7

If you notice in the King James the words “hath He quickened” in the first verse are italicized, which means they are not in the original .. they have been supplied by the translator. The sense is right because the statement is given in verse 5. The point is “those who walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. Among whom also we once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as others”. Vs 2,3 They are being estranged from God because of their willful rejection of His Word, and His way. 

But the beauty of the passage is that in spite of the fact that we have rebelled against God, God still loves us. His mercy was given on the basis of His love not on basis of our goodness. “ Even when we were still dead, separated from God by sin, He made us alive. But how are we made alive? “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) And again, “or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3,4).  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17). “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27).

We were dead in trespasses or sin ... both words imply my own personal responsibility in the departure from God. But in spite of our responsibility.... it is my fault if I sin... I must face the consequences. There is nothing that might impress God sufficiently to save me... His grace made it possible. He has, because of His grace, made us to sit in heavenly places, which would refer to the church.... surely He is not speaking of heaven in the present tense. But we are in the heavenly real... that which was dreamed of and created by God. And it is only in Christ that I can be apart of His body.

Why does God visit that kind of grace upon us? Why permit us to sit in heavenly places in Christ? Why must He demonstrate the riches of His grace? Because of His great love for us. It is His kindness that permits us to be saved in spite of our unworthiness. And the future home in heaven will demonstrate God’s ultimate kindness.

Dead in Sin

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Ephesians 2:1-3

Quite often we fail to realize the seriousness of being  out of Christ. We lightheartedly, laughingly refer to sin with the implication that it isn’t so bad. We even attempt to measure the quality of a man by the sins he has committed. Oh, we don’t want the grievous sins... just the little social sins. But Paul doesn’t make a distinction. He merely shows the danger of sin and how it separates one from God.

To be dead doesn’t mean to be unconscious or going out of existence. To be dead is to change relationships .. to be separate from the former relationships. They do not have any more to do with the things under the sun (Eccl.9:6).They are in a completely new set of relationships.

To be dead in sin is to be isolated by that sin from God... He is as cut off from God as a man in the grave is cut off from us. “The hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.” (John 5:25).

Remember when we hear the gospel, believe in Christ, repent and are baptized, our relationships changed. We are no longer dead in sin we are dead TO sin... we are alive to God (Romans 6:11). 

Sinners walk according to two things: One, they are walking according to the course of this world; Two, they are minding worldly things, more concerned and centered in the affairs o f this world than the spiritual. That is they are walking and living according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan). This is the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. There is a real devil ... he directs the lives of those in sin. There are really only two directives of life that we may, or must, choose: Christ of Satan.

It is evident that both Jews and Gentiles had their manner of life, in the desires of the flesh, and of the mind and they were by nature children of wrath. Nature refers to a conduct practiced so long and habitually that it has become our natural way of living... this is the effect of our transgressions.