Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Orchard

The Orchard

God is raising up an orchard – a glorious assembly of living testimonies that declare His righteousness.
  • Psalm 92:12-15 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Those who are planted in the house of the Lord Shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing, 15 To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

His trees stand tall and strong; they produce an abundance of fruit. God gave the best that He had, the life of His Son Jesus Christ, for the eternal life of each tree in the orchard. He has placed them in the orchard according to His plan and desires to maximize the harvest. He longs to see the influence and impact on the world of the different fruit He has gifted each tree to produce.

God’s orchard is the church, the body of Christ. Each tree in God's orchard represents a person who has responded to the gospel message of Jesus Christ and has surrendered their life to His Lordship. And although there is much diversity with regards to the spiritual gifts and functions of the different trees in the orchard, there are also crucial commonalities that bring unity, strength, efficiency and effectiveness to the church and its members.

The Trees of God are Built Up in the Love of Christ.
  • Colossians 2:6-7 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
  • Ephesians 3:17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
The truth about Jesus’ Deity, virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death, resurrection from the dead and ascension to Heaven comprises the fundamental nutrients in the soil of the orchard. Each tree stands firm and grows strong in these truths. The love of Christ compels us to love others.

The Trees of God Bear Good Fruit
  • Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
  • Matthew 7:17-20 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
The level of spiritual maturity (love, obedience, discipline, knowledge, etc.), along with God’s sovereign plans and purposes, can impact the amount of beneficial fruit revealed in the life of a believer. But all the trees in this orchard will bear some amount of Godly fruit.

The Trees of God Bring Him Glory
  • Isaiah 61:3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
  • John 15:8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
The purpose of every follower of Jesus is to love God and bring Him glory. The more good fruit we bear, the more honor and glory we bring to God. Some examples of good fruit include: praise to God (Hebrews 13:15), glorifying God (Philippians 1:11), good works (Colossians 1:10), living in a way that reflects what God has done in your life (Matthew 3:8), exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and sharing the truth of Christ with the lost (John 4:35-36).

Proverbs 11:30
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who wins souls is wise.

Are you a tree in God’s orchard?

If you are:
  • Stand firm and strong in the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
  • Bear much good fruit.
  • Bring glory to God.
If you are not:
  • Ask God to reveal His truth to you.
  • Watch expectantly for His response.
  • Be reconciled to God and be planted in His orchard.


Thank You Father for planting me in Your orchard. I praise You for the work You have done in my life. What a blessing to see the vast expanse of trees bringing forth good fruit for Your Glory. I praise You and ask You in the name of Jesus to plant many more trees in Your orchard as they respond to Your Love, Your Truth and Your Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, February 19, 2017



In very broad terms, the Bible is God’s revelation to man of the eternal and absolute truths about love and hate, righteousness and evil, life and death. And in direction opposition to these truths, there is deception.

Unfortunately, deception is a reality of life; we have all been lied to. Any deception is wrong. But because there are eternal consequences, deception about the truth of God’s Word is particularly malicious and destructive. Spiritual and human entities are hard at work to blind anyone they can to God’s eternal truths. And, although demonic spiritual powers are deliberately misleading whomever they can, their human accomplices are often unwitting partners that have already fallen victim to the lies of Satan – many people are completely deluded about the truth. However, there are also truly evil individuals who clearly understand the truth and have knowingly and willingly chosen to stand on the side of wickedness.

This devotion provides a very general overview of the basic truths about spiritual deception as presented in the Bible. Far from comprehensive, the intention of this ‘lesson’ is to ensure that those who read it have at least a basic awareness of the battle over truth and the everlasting consequences of deception.

The Reality of Deception
The Bible clearly indicates that there are many who would deceive us.

  • Genesis 3:13 And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
  • Matthew 24:4-5 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.
Never God
  • Titus 1:1-2 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,

The Risk of Deception
Being deceived leads to corrupted thinking and dreadful decisions.

Attributing the Goodness of God to Luck or to Other People/Powers
  • James 1:16-17 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
Denial of God’s Righteous Judgement
  • Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Contradictions and/or Confusion Over the Fulfillment of God’s Plans
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,
Turning Away from God
  • Deuteronomy 11:16 “Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them,

The Result of Deception
The spiritual blindness that results from deception leads to contempt for the truth of God’s Word.
  • John 3:19-20 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

The Release from Deception
Salvation in Jesus Christ saves us from the fate of the deceived.
  • Titus 3:3-5 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 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,

To deny or disregard the truth about deception
will ensure that you become a victim of it.

You can’t get truth from someone who is already deceived.
  • Luke 6:39 And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?

The Holy Word of God is the only reliable source of absolute truth.
  • Psalm 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
  • John 8:31-32 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

The first line of defense against spiritual deception is to surrender your life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit will help you discern truth. After that, the only lasting and reliable protection against being spiritually deceived is to grow daily in a personal relationship with God through Christ. There are no shortcuts or substitutes; this is only achieved through Bible study, prayer, worship, fellowship with other Christians, regular church attendance, using the spiritual gifts God has given you to serve, sharing the truth about Christ with those who are deceived, etc.
  • 2 Peter 3:17-18 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


Truthful and faithful Father, I pray that Your Word and Your Spirit will protect and preserve those who have trusted Your truth. Please make a way for those who have ignored, rejected, misunderstood or never heard Your truth about salvation in Jesus to hear and surrender their lives to it. May Your sovereign and perfect will be done. I humbly ask this in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. Amen.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

There Is Hope

There Is Hope

Regardless of your circumstances or condition, there is hope. Hope is not found in religion, science, philosophy, politics, the arts, or any other human endeavor. Hope is found in truth. The truth shall make you free.

Do you long for hope? Are you seeking truth? If so, open your heart.

Life Changing Hope is Found
in a Relationship with Jesus Christ

A Relationship Based on the Truth of
Who Jesus is and What He Has Done

The Realities of this Hope are Revealed in the Word of God
  • John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
  • John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
  • 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.
  • John 1:12-13 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
  • John 8:31-32 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
    • Knowledge of God and His Son, Jesus Christ,  is the only way to eternal life in Heaven. Hear this truth. Hope in this truth. Receive this truth.
    • True hope is found by responding to the sovereign work of God drawing us to Himself.
    • Our hope in The Lord brings about faith that results in spiritual rebirth through Jesus Christ.

The Results of this Hope for Those Who Follow Jesus
  • Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 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.
    • Christians rejoice in the hope of the glory of God because we have been reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ.
    • True hope is a product of God working in and through the circumstances of our lives.
    • Our hope in The Lord will compel us to love others as He loves us!

The Reassurances of this Hope as Declared in the Book of Psalms
  • Psalm 31:24 Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord.
  • Psalm 33:22 Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, Just as we hope in You.
  • Psalm 119:116 Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live; And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.
  • Psalm 119:166 Lord, I hope for Your salvation, And I do Your commandments.
    • The Book of Psalms contains contemplations, poems and prayers expressed as hymns of praise to God Almighty; these songs encourage and celebrate our hope in the Lord.
    • True hope is a response to Who God Is and a consequence of What He Is Doing in and around us.
    • Our hope in The Lord should have us singing praises to Him!


Father, may those who know You rejoice in the hope You have given. May those who don’t know You find hope in Your Word that results in salvation in and through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. I humbly and expectantly pray in the name of Jesus. Amen

Monday, February 6, 2017

Faith Works

Faith Works

Near the end of 1 Corinthians, as the Apostle Paul wraps up this letter to the church at Corinth, he provides what, on the surface, appears to be a rather straightforward set of instructions.
  • 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.

However, this is not just a checklist of things to do. This is a call to Godly action by those who trust and serve Jesus Christ. This is a bold proclamation to the church that ‘Faith Works!’ Let’s dig deeper.

Faith Produces Vigilance. With anticipation, resolve, attentiveness and humility we watch:

For God to Work
  • Psalm 111:2 The works of the Lord are great, Studied by all who have pleasure in them.
For Christ to Come
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?
For Temptation
  • From the Flesh – Our Human Nature
    • Romans 8:7-8 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
  • From the World – Our Fallen Surroundings
    • 1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
  • From Satan – Our Great Adversary
    • 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
But we don’t just watch; we respond with the desire and intention of honoring God in all circumstances. We work for His glory!

Stand Fast
Faith Produces Stability. Our lives are built on Christ – He is preeminent. We work hard to keep Him at the center or our lives; grounded in His Word.
  • Colossians 1:23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
We may experience troubles, doubts and failures; but as we work, we stay centered on Him. We never walk away.

Be Brave
Faith Produces Courage. Serving the Lord means facing incredible odds with confidence in Him.
  • Hebrews 11:33-34 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
The work of a Christian is rarely comfortable. Whether the battles are spiritual, physical, emotional or intellectual, we don His armor, engage in the battle and trust Him for the results.

Be Strong
Faith Produces Power. Our strength is made perfect in weakness. Surrendering to Him means victory.
  • Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
The work of God requires the power of God.

Do All that You Do With Love
Faith Produces Love. Without true love, it is all meaningless.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 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. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
No matter what we say; no matter what we have; no matter what we do; if our works are not motivated and empowered by Biblical love, they are of no eternal value.

Jesus’ brother James makes the relationship between genuine faith in Christ and good works very clear.
  • James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

And we read in Ephesians that God did His saving work in our lives so that we can complete the work He already planned for us.
  • 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.

So How About It – Is Your Faith Working?


Loving and gracious Father in Heaven, may the faith of Your people result in the completion of the works You have prepared us for. Never let us confuse works resulting from salvation with working for salvation. You saved us because You love us – this is something we didn’t deserve and could never earn. But now we can show our love for, appreciation of, and faith in You by obediently completing the work You have placed before us; all for Your glory! I humbly make these requests in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.