Thursday, October 29, 2015

Matthew 3:1-12

"Produce fruit in keeping with repentance."  Matthew 3:8

In our world today which emphasizes a "You're okay and I'm okay" mentality, sin and repentance is not a popular topic.  God's Holy Word is the final source of truth, however, and it tells us that we are desperate sinners in the need of God's grace.  It also tells us that we need to turn from our sins to repentance.

In our Scripture passage today John the Baptist was preaching in the desert.  It was John the Baptist's job to prepare the way for the soon coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.  John's message was "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."  (Matthew 3:2)  Many people came out to John the Baptist in the desert.  These people came to John confessing their sins, and they came with a repentant heart.

There were two groups of people who came out to John the Baptist in the desert, however, who did not have a repentant heart.  These two groups of people were called the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees were legalistic and religious leaders who thought they could earn their own way into God's favor.  They also felt that they had a good standing with God, because they were part of the established religious order of the day.

The Sadducees were a more politically minded and worldly group.  Both groups were smug and content in their own self-will, self-efforts, and self-importance. Neither group saw their own sins, and the need for repentance from their sins.  John the Baptist perceived that the Pharisees and Sadducees had unrepentant hearts.  John said to them, "You brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." (Matthew 3:7b-8)  In effect John was saying "Turn from your sins, and show by your lives that you are truly repentant!"

We also must show repentance from sin in our lives.  Repentance from our sins involves turning from sin and going in the opposite direction in our lives.  True repentance involves a change in our hearts which in turn results in changed lives.  Repentance involves deep sorrow for our sins. True repentance also involves turning our lives around and following God's paths and will for our lives. We must show in our lives that we belong to the Lord.  Our life styles must match our professions. We must truly show the fruit of God's Holy Spirit in our lives.  Our lives must exhibit "fruit in keeping with repentance."  (Matthew 3:8)

John the Baptist warned the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 3:9-10 about the need for repentance.  Their status as religious leaders and descendants of the Old Testament saint, Abraham, did not automatically entitle them to God's favor.  The only basis for salvation is the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  The only basis for our salvation is our throwing ourselves at the feet of the Lord and relying on His grace.  We need to turn from our sins in repentance and turn to the Lord.

Church membership and the fact that our parents were Christians will not bring us favor with God. Our own perceived "good works" certainly will not win us favor with God.  Only if we see the depths of and depravity of our sins and sorrowfully run to the Lord in repentance can we experience favor with the Lord.  Only when we turn our lives around and go down the Lord's path can we experience the Lord's eternal favor and blessings.  This life is not about portraying an image like the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to do.  It is about daily turning from our sins in repentance and living a life that is consistent with the will of God.  Is our lives producing "fruit in keeping with repentance?" (Matthew 3:8)  May this be our passion and desire!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Matthew 2:1-12

"They bowed down and worshipped Him."  Matthew 2:11b

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, magi or wise men came from the east seeking the Christ child. When they arrived in Jerusalem they asked, "Where is the One who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him."  (Matthew 2:2)  The Magi were not part of the religious order of God's people of that day by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, God's people at that time would have considered the Magi to be pagans.  Notice, however, the Magi were coming from a long distance to worship and bow down before Jesus Christ, the Son of God!  The Magi recognized Jesus Christ as worthy of their worship.  Meanwhile, the religious people of that day were basically ignoring the birth of our Lord.

Where is Jesus Christ in our lives?  Are we daily seeking a deeper relationship with Him?  Do we have the zeal and desire of the Magi to bow down and worship Him?  "Where is the One who has been born king of the Jews?" (Matthew 2:2a)  What would be the answer to that question in our lives?  Is Jesus both the Savior and Lord of all areas of our lives?  Is He Lord and King over our careers, families, and our daily pursuits and habits?  Has He made a difference in our character and attitudes?  Is Jesus Christ and our desire for Him our consuming passion?

When the Magi came to Jerusalem asking about the Lord Jesus, King Herod and all the people of Jerusalem were upset and in an uproar.  Herod and the people did not want their prized security disturbed.  They prized the security of their daily routines and pleasures above the Lord Jesus. They were seeking and not finding peace in this world.

Peace, however, is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ!  We must be on guard against making the world's pleasures and securities more important to us than our relationship with the Lord.  We must be daily seeking to grow in our love relationship with the Lord through the reading and obeying of His Holy Word.  We must also daily seek the Lord in prayer.

The Magi came to worship the Lord Jesus.  This caused them a great deal of effort, time and sacrifice on their part.  Apparently, however, the Magi felt it was essential to come and worship the Lord Jesus.  We also must daily take time to commune with Him and be occupied with the Lord.  We may and must go to Him with our needs.

We must also thank Him for our blessings.  We, however, must further be occupied with the worship of the Lord Jesus.  Our entire lives must be a sacrifice of praise, thanks, and worship. Notice the Magi brought no gifts to the reigning King Herod.  They brought their gifts to the Lord Jesus.  More importantly, they brought their worship and their lives as a sacrifice of praise to the Lord.  It must be our passion also that our lives will be a sacrifice of praise to the Lord.  "Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of Gods' mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship."  (Romans 12:1)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Psalm 1

Blessed and joyful are we who love and revere the Lord!  Blessed and full of joy are we who obey the Lord and seek to do His will.  Living in a loving and obedient relationship with the Lord is the secret to an abundant and purposeful life.  Joyful and fulfilled are we if we do "not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers."  Psalm 1:1b)

Blessed are we if we do "not walk" or order our lives in the "counsel" or so-called wisdom of the world.  Sometimes the wisdom of the world can sound so logical at first glance.  That's why we need to immerse ourselves in God's Word and in His wisdom alone, and we must not fall for the "wisdom" of the world.  We must not "stand" or station ourselves with those who do not love the Lord.  We must not "sit" or settle ourselves with those who reject the things of the Lord.  This does not mean we shouldn't ever associate with non-believers, because God wants us to be a witness to those who do not know Him.  We, however, must not be caught up with sinful life styles and philosophies.

Blessed and full of joy and purpose are we, if we delight in God's Word.  Blessed are we if we meditate on God's Word.  Meditating on God's Holy Word involves thinking about God's Word with the intention of obeying God's Word.  We must be seeking the guidance of God's Word, so that we can live our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him.  Our study of God's Word must involve more than an intellectual understanding of God's Word.  Our study of God's Word must lead to convictions and wisdom in the things of God.  Our study and meditation of God's Word should lead us to become more like Jesus in our attitudes, thoughts, and actions.

If we are truly seeking the Lord's Holy Word for His wisdom and guidance, our lives will flourish and be successful in God's definition of these things.  Our lives will be spiritually fruitful. Psalm 1:3 says of of the person who delights in and obeys God's Word, "He is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not whither.  Whatever He does prospers."  If our lives are ordered by the Lord; we have joy, peace, stability, and spiritual growth in our lives.  We also experience true Godly success in our lives, because our lives have purpose and meaning in the Lord!

As the Lord's children, we are like trees each uniquely planted where He wants us to be planted. God has a purpose and plan for planting us where He has planted us in this life.  Maybe we would wish to be planted elsewhere than where the Lord planted us, but we must be content and fruitful where God has chosen to plant us.

God provides for us His "trees."  He plants us "by streams of waters."  He provides us the strength and nourishment we need to grow and flourish spiritually in Him.  We must drink from His Word regularly, so that we become all that the Lord wants us to be in His kingdom.  We must be trees that are spiritually fruitful.  Our "leaves" must "not whither," but they must show forth the beauty of our Lord Jesus!

Those who do not know the Lord Jesus are "like chaff that the wind blows away." (Psalm 1:4b) There is no stability or purpose in their lives.  God's children, however, have stability, security, purpose, and peace.  "For the Lord watches over the the way of the righteous." (Psalm 1:6a)  We need not fear what tomorrow will bring.  The Lord has a purpose and plan for our lives today, tomorrow, and next year.  Even if we go through difficult times, the Lord will be with us.  We can trust His perfect leading and will for our lives.  We can and must rest in the Lord's will and promises in His Holy Word.  Praise His name!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Psalm 119:1-16

Welcome to this new blog!  I originally had the devotional blog "Moments With God" at another place online.  Because of some changes there, I have decided to move it here.  This blog will be mostly from some devotional writings I did for my children and grandchildren some years back.  I hope you will find this post and future posts a blessing.  Find the first post below:

"I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sing against you."Psalm 119:11

Reading, studying, and meditating on God's Holy Word is basic to our Christian walk.  We would not think of neglecting food for our bodies, and yet it is sometimes so easy to neglect our Bible reading and prayer life.  It is necessary to read God's Word, however, so that we are able to live our lives for the Lord as we ought.

Meditating on and obedience to God's Word is necessary for our emotional and spiritual well-being. "Blessed are those who whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord,  Blessed are they who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart." (Psalm 119:1-2

Blessed means joyful.  It is the happy condition of those who love the Lord and really want to serve Him.  The world will not give lasting joy.  Material possessions will not give us lasting joy.  Our love relationship with the Lord, however, will give us lasting joy.  As we grow in our love for the Lord, our joy also increases.  This is a joy that one can have even in the midst of of problems, disappointments, challenges, and sorrow.  Only in fellowship with the Lord and in our love relationship with the Lord can we have that joy.

We cannot grow in our love relationship with the Lord, however, without studying and reading His Word.  We need to hide God's Word in our hearts.  God's Holy Word keeps us from unnecessary sins. God's Word keeps us on God's path.  The Lord's path is not always the easiest, but it is always the best and most joyful path for us.  God is infinitely wiser than we are.

Furthermore, by hiding God's Word in our hearts we begin to understand the vastness of His love for us.  We begin to understand the number of promises that He has made to us.  We begin to see that He is a faithful God, and we begin to see that His will and timing in our lives is always best.  Psalm 119:14-16 says, "I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.  I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.  I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word."

There are so many beautiful promises and truths in God's Holy Word that are so directly applicable to our lives!  Some parts of Scripture are more difficult to understand than others, but the writer of this devotional has found some wonderful promises in places of the Bible where one would least expect them.  There is always something new and fresh to be found in the Bible, as we read and seek to apply its truths to our lives each day.  The Lord is so good!

The writer of this devotional has also found it helpful to pray Scripture in her prayers to the Lord. What better way to approach the Lord?  Hiding God's Word in our hearts adds joy and peace to our lives.  God's Word also helps to direct our steps.  We can absolutely count on the truth of every word in Scripture.  Luke in Luke 1:4 said that he wrote the book of Luke and Acts "so that you may know the certainty of things you have been taught."

Let us take our quiet time with the Lord seriously.  Let us dig into God's Word and apply its truths to our lives.  Let us grow in our love of the Lord through our study of His Holy Word.