Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Hope That Is In You

The Hope That Is In You
As a Christian, you are commanded to be prepared to defend The Hope That Is In You to anyone who asks about it.  
  • 1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
To do that, there are some fundamental things about Christian Hope that you need to know and understand (this is far from exhaustive).
A Christian’s Hope Comes From
  • God’s Grace
    • 2 Thessalonians 2:16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace,
  • Jesus Christ
    • 1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,
  • The Holy Spirit
    • Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Scripture
    • Romans 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
  • Faithfully Enduring Life in a Fallen World
    • Romans 5:3-4 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
A Christian's Hope Is 
  • Living
    • 1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
  • Empowering
    • 2 Corinthians 3:12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—
  • Reliable
    • Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
  • An Anchor
    • Hebrews 6:19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,
A Christian’s Hope Primarily Focuses On 
  • God
    • Psalm 39:7 “And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.
  • Christ’s Return
    • Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
  • Eternal Life
    • Titus 3:7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
  • The Fulfillment of God’s Promises
    • Romans 4:18, 21 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
For those who don’t know Christ as Savior, hope may be based on one’s own ability or resources, other people, circumstances, luck, money, false gods, karma, feelings, selfish desires, etc. All of these are unreliable and certain to disappoint in the long run.
Christian hope defies logic, feelings, circumstances and worldly wisdom; it is based on assurances from, confidence in, and experience with God Almighty! It takes disciplined study of God’s Word and daily submission to the Holy Spirit to prepare and deliver a proper defense of Christian hope.
Hope For Christians Is
  • A wonderful gift from God to His children which helps to sustain their faith and optimism during the many difficult trials that result from their own weaknesses and living in a fallen world.
  • Based on God’s character and plans, not our selfish desires.
  • Tangible evidence of the Truth of God’s Word and the Indwelling Presence of His Holy Spirit; it is not just for our comfort, but mostly for His Glory.
But be sure not to forget the last part of 1 Peter 3:15; defend the reason for The Hope That Is In You ‘with meekness and fear’. We should never be proud, boastful, arrogant, pushy, rude, impatient, judgmental, hypocritical, etc. It is an awesome privilege and responsibility to share the truth with someone blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4). Does your life reflect the glory of God? Are you prepared to defend your hope? We should be very afraid of misleading, discouraging or judging others while we share the truth about God. Always speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Lord God in Heaven, thank You for the hope that You have given. What a gracious gift. I pray that Your children will seek you diligently and faithfully submit to the guidance of Your Holy Spirit while defending the reason for the hope that is within them. Use Your church Lord to further Your Kingdom. Prepare Your children to share the truth. May our confidence always be in You and in You alone. In the precious name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Primary Desire versus Present Duty

Primary Desire versus Present Duty
Fairly early in his letter to the Philippians, Paul very honestly shares an internal conflict he is experiencing:
  • Philippians 1:23-24 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.
Paul is caught between his longing to be with Christ in Heaven and his responsibility to minister to others on Earth. Which one truly honors God? Is a balance between the two possible?
Primary Desire
Being indwelled with the Holy Spirit of God, Christians should experience a very strong yearning to be in Heaven.
  • Romans 8:23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
Why? Because of what God has promised us:
  • An Incorruptible Body that will Last Forever
    • 1 Peter 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, (see also Philippians 3:20-21
  • To be in the Presence of God
    • Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. (see also Revelation 21:22-23)
  • To Experience No More Suffering
    • Revelation 21:4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
  • The Beautiful Surroundings of Heaven
    • 1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (see also Revelation 21:9-21)
Present Duty
Being indwelled with the Holy Spirit of God, Christians should experience a very strong sense of responsibility to serve all of mankind.
  • Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Why? Because of what God has commissioned us to do:
  • To Share the Gospel Message of Salvation through Jesus Christ
    • Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
  • To Share the Love of Christ through Good Works
    • Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
  • To Share in the Battle with Christ against Satan and his Demonic Armies
    • Ephesians 6:11-12 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
What high callings! For a mature Christian to deny the desire to be with God is driven by either dishonesty or a lack of appreciation for what God has promised His children. For a mature Christian to refuse the responsibility of serving others is driven by either selfishness of a lack of appreciation for what God has done for us.
The balance between our Primary Desire and Present Duty is found by:
  • Longing for His Coming
    • Revelations 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
  • Living for His Glory
    • Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Heavenly Father, You have promised us so much in Heaven and called us to so much on Earth. In Your perfect plan, Your Holy Spirit gives us both a strong desire to exit this fallen world to be with you and an unselfish sense of responsibility to live a long life of serving others for the glory of Jesus Christ. In Your love, grace and mercy, may all Your Children find the perfect balance between these high callings. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

When Opportunity Knocks

When Opportunity Knocks
When Christians seek direction for their lives (A.K.A. ‘God’s Will’), there are four sources of information to help direct us: God’s Word, Prayer, Circumstances and Advice. Let’s take a moment to examine each of these in the context of seeking God’s Will.
God’s Word
  • Relevance: The requirements, rules and principles given by God for our good and His glory.
  • Reliability: The Word of God is 100% reliable when correctly understood and applied.
  • Resources: Personal Bible Study, Group Bible Study, Devotions, Sermons, Books, Discussions with Other Believers
  • Risks: The Word of God is often misunderstood and misapplied. Strong desires for a specific outcome can lead even mature Christians to act contrary what the Bible teaches.
  • Relevance: The leading of Holy Spirit to align our hearts with what God desires.
  • Reliability: God’s part in prayer is always loving, holy and right.
  • Resources: Personal Prayers, Group Prayers, Prayers of Others
  • Risks: Prayer is two-way communication with God; we must openly share our hearts with Him and also ‘listen’ for His response(s). Unfortunately, we often ‘hear’ what we want, not what we need.
  • Relevance: The unfolding of events according to God’s sovereign purposes.
  • Reliability: God is always in complete control of all things; He rules creation perfectly.
  • Resources: The events of your life (Opportunities, Breaks, Calamities, Confirmations)
  • Risks: Sin, in all its forms, has blinded many to the eternal purposes of God. The fallen world we live in can mislead even devoted followers of Christ. Sometimes we twist circumstances to justify our desires.
  • Relevance: The counsel from mature Christians that confirm, negate or delay our decisions.
  • Reliability: Reliability of advice is based on the Godly knowledge, experience, wisdom and obedience of the person providing it.
  • Resources: Input given by others (Congratulations, Warnings, Suggestions, Hesitations)
  • Risks: Some people are hesitant to be completely open and honest when asked for advice because they fear damaging the relationship. Sometimes we hear what we want regardless of what is said. If you seek advice from someone not qualified to give it, you will most likely receive poor counsel.
In the Bible, we are introduced to David in the Book of 1 Samuel. Most of us are familiar with the man who defeated Goliath, became King of Israel, led Israel to many military victories, had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba, was the father of Solomon and was the head of the kingly family line from which Jesus Christ was born. But many may have missed the tremendous lesson in David’s story about not misinterpreting circumstances and advice.
In 1 Samuel chapters 13- 15 we see the decline of the first King of Israel Saul. 1 Samuel 15:26 reveals God’s rejection of Saul as king. And even though David was then anointed as King of Israel by the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16:13), it was many years before David assumed the role of king. The remainder of 1 Samuel is an intricate story that culminates with the death of Saul and three of his sons.
Before he died, King Saul tried to kill David many times. Twice Saul threw a spear at David. Many times Saul and His army sought after David with the intent of killing him. And in the midst of being hunted, on two different occasions David had the opportunity to kill King Saul.
  • In a Cave
    • 1 Samuel 24:4 Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’” And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
  • In Saul’s Camp
    • 1 Samuel 26:8 Then Abishai said to David, “God has delivered your enemy into your hand this day. Now therefore, please, let me strike him at once with the spear, right to the earth; and I will not have to strike him a second time!”
But in both of these circumstances, David rejected the temptation to misinterpret the circumstances and the bad advice he was given; he honored God with his words and actions (see 1 Samuel 24:6 and 1 Samuel 26:9). It is very hard to truly appreciate the significance of David’s restraint without reading all of 1 Samuel (actually, Genesis 1 Samuel). However, just from the details included in this devotion, it is clear to see that God has provided a tremendous example of how important it is to put His requirements, rules and principles above our own desires.
When you are seeking God’s Will for your life, if you have a big decision to make, use all the Godly resources at your disposal to help guide you in your decisions and actions.   Remember to weigh the truth of God’s Word, the power of Prayer, the reality of your Circumstances and the wisdom of Advice against the finite perspective of man, the moral weaknesses of humanity, the influence of living in a fallen world and the resulting tendency to misinterpret information and circumstances while selectively taking advice that suits our desires.
When Opportunity Knocks, put God’s standards above personal desire. Thank Him when the two align; trust Him when they don’t. But always praise, worship, obey and appreciate Him.
Father, as a result of our humanity, discerning Your Will can sometimes be difficult. Thank You for providing Your Word and Your Spirit to guide us. I pray for wisdom and obedience for those who truly love You and desire to glorify Your Name with their lives. May Your peace fill the hearts of those who have surrendered themselves to You. Make their way straight. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Beautiful Pattern

The Beautiful Pattern

In his first letter to Timothy, just after thanking Jesus for his love and grace; providing a brief overview of his former sins against Christ and His church; and declaring himself to be the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:12-15), Paul makes an incredible statement:
  • 1 Timothy 1:16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.
In this one verse, God uses Paul’s conversion experience as a model of The Beautiful Pattern of salvation in Christ for all who have and will believe.

Salvation is a divine demonstration of God’s mercy.

  • 1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (see also Romans 9:15-16),

Although many will never turn from their sin, in His love and desire to see the salvation of the lost, God demonstrates tremendous patience with those who will.

  • 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (see also Psalm 86:15 and Romans 8:29).

Just as He did when Christ spoke to Paul on the Damascus road (Acts 9), in a sovereign display of grace, God uses His Word to give the gift of faith that leads to salvation.

  • Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
  • Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Those drawn by the Spirit of God through His Word, who by an act of their will choose to acknowledge the truth about Christ, surrender themselves to Jesus as Lord and Savior.

  • John 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
  • Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
  • Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
No matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, and no matter where you are, when God reaches you with His Word, respond in faith and experience The Beautiful Pattern of salvation in your life. Salvation in Christ results in eternal life with God!


Dear Lord, thank You for the beautiful pattern of salvation which you have displayed in the lives of countless people. I pray that Your Spirit and Your Word work in the life of anyone reading this devotion those does not know Christ as their personal Savior. I also pray that Christians who read this will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for You and how You work in the salvation of Your children. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.