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June 12, 2020 – Turn From Wickedness

Read Romans 7: 14 – 8:4

“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:4 

 

The biggest problem in turning from sin is knowing that we are in sin. Proverbs 21:2 says, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.”
 
Human nature tells us that we are always right. We can justify any action. We have seen this often in recent days with the riots. Many have said that the burning of buildings and the looting is justified because of the death of George Floyd.  Some have said that it is the only way that the black community can have a voice and be heard. On the other side, police officers who have been guilty of racism or of abuse justify their actions based on the criminal record. 
 
The second problem is having the power to change. Change does not come from self-will. We don’t know the problem,  and therefore, we don’t know the solution. Our heart lies to us. We read in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
 
According to Jeremiah, the most deceitful person in the world is me. My heart lies to me more than anything or anybody. Since it lies about my sin, it also lies to me about the solution. The only power in the world that is able to overcome sin is the Holy Spirit. In fact the Holy Spirit is given to me for the purpose of power. I am not able to become holy without the Holy Spirit. 
 
Since God requires us to turn from sin, that also means that God requires us to turn to the Holy Spirit for the strength.  Romans 7:18 says, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”
 

If there is “no good thing” in my flesh, then it is also true that I can’t trust my flesh to help me do good. My only hope is in God. He has given us the formula: humility, prayer, seek His face, and turn from our wicked way. Before we can turn,  we must in humility seek His face.

 

An Exercise to Increase my Faith: Faith comes by hearing, hearing requires us to be in God’s Word. As we hear, we understand, we know, and we trust. Turning from sin requires seeking God to reveal our sin by His Holy Commands and to realize that the commands are broken in our heart and in our deeds. When we realize our sin, then we need to ask for His strength through His Spirit for the power to obey.  

 



June 11, 2020 – Seek His Face

Read Matthew 6:19-33

“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Luke 11:9 

 

One of the great promises in the Bible is the promise to find if we seek given in Luke 11:9. If we couple that verse with Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you,” we find that God promises that if we seek, we will find God’s kingdom and His righteousness.  
 
It also implies that if a person does not seek God’s righteousness, they won’t find it. 
 

There are so many things to seek. We seek some things every day. We seek relaxation, enjoyment and peace. Most often we are seeking small unimportant things like the car keys. Just because we seek the car keys does not mean that we will find them. God’s promise is only good for the things of God. For instance, here are some things God says to seek  (we have already mentioned the kingdom of God and righteousness).

  • Seek peace – 1 Peter 3:11
  • Seek the Lord – Jeremiah 29:13
  • Seek His commandments – Ezra 7:10
  • Seek His strength –  Psalm 105:4
  • Seek those things which are above –  Colossians 3:1

 

Jesus came to seek and save the ones who were lost. That means that we are also to seek those who would be saved. 
 
In the verse for today, we are told to seek His face. The Hebrew word for face is paniym which comes from a word that means to turn and look. The first thing that we usually recognize is a face. The only way we can see the face is if we are looking in that direction.
 

God gave us a reason for His judgment when He said in Jeremiah 32:33, “And they have turned unto me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction.” When our back is turned toward Him, we have little chance of seeing His face even if we are seeking it. If we are turned to Him, we will not recognize Him or understand His words. 

 

An Exercise to increase my Faith: Seeking God’s face requires a yearning in our heart to have Him communicate with us.  We desire to come into His presence so He will see us and communicate with us. There are many in our world who have never faced in God’s direction to see Him. He is very close to all of us, but in some cases we have to turn around.

 



June 10, 2020 – God’s People Need to Pray

Read Luke 18

“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” Luke 18:13 

 

Today’s lesson is about prayer again. God told Solomon that He needed His people to humble themselves and pray.  Prayer and seeking His face are opposite sides of the same coin. They are the two parts of communication. In all communication, someone has to begin speaking. Truthfully, we are not the ones who started this process of communication. God began communicating to man. God revealed Himself to us in His Word. His Word shares with us that God wants to talk with us.
 
Prayer is a response to God’s revelation. It is accepting God’s communication, acknowledging that we have received it, and agreeing with what we have heard. Then it is asking for more revelation from God. 
 
Prayer is first acknowledging that we are sinners. Humility requires us to come naked before God in confession of our sin. Prayer requires us to see our weakness and His strength. It is a plea for help. We read in Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
 
“Boldly” sounds contrary to humility. It is based on the work of Christ on the cross and is an acknowledgment of my unworthiness without Him, but also our ability to come through Him. It does not exalt us, but His promise. Humility is understood in the words “grace” and “mercy.” We see that it is critical that we see our need and that our prayer is a call for help.
 
The Lord shared a principle of prayer in Luke 18. This is the account of two men who went to the temple to pray. “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.” (Luke 18:11) This was not a prayer for a need. It was not a prayer with humility. It was a prayer exalting himself. The second man simply smote upon his breast crying out, “God be merciful to me the sinner.” The Lord said that this man, not the other was justified before God.  
 

Again, before we can pray, we have to acknowledge who we are praying to. We have to see our need before the God of the universe. In seeing our need, we also have to acknowledge our weakness and our sin.

 

 An Exercise to Increase our Faith: Spend time in prayer and remind yourself who you are praying to. Imagine being ushered into His presence and you are given an audience to say the most important thing on your heart. What would you say?

 



June 9, 2020 – Shall Humble Themselves

Read James 4

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:” 1 Peter 5:6 

 

Our devotions this week are based on 2 Chronicles 7. We are looking at God’s statement to Solomon about an answer to Solomon’s prayer. He says in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
 
We started talking yesterday about “if my people.” Today we are looking at the subject of humility. Why does this world need to see humble followers of Christ? Why can’t we show them that we have more knowledge, more peace, more love and that we are better than they are? I think most Christians believe that we are better, at least better off than the world. 
 
National repentance has to begin with personal repentance. The greatest need that we have as Christians is the knowledge that we need the Lord today. We need Him every day to overcome the pressures and temptations of this world. We need Him for power to love and to do His work in this world. Humility has to be the starting point to meet with God. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:10) 
 
If we show the world that we have no need, that we have it all together, and/or that we are the source of our own strength, they will not turn to God. They need to see something that is honest and authentic – that we are also needy sinners who find hope and power in a relationship with our Lord and Savior. 
 
You will notice that this is the first step God gives to His people. Before they pray, seek His face, or turn from their wicked way, they need to humble themselves. Pride is a problem in our world. It is even a greater problem in Christians because it is the one thing that separates us from our source of strength. Satan would love to make us self-reliant and self-absorbed. 
 

The world needs to see that we have problems, and they need to see the power of God in our life to solve those problems. Pride is the sin of the devil, and it is the sin that fuels most of the problems in this world. The church is filled with prideful people. It is one of the reasons that the world sees no difference in us. They need to see humility.

 

An Exercise to Increase our Faith: How does a person humble themselves in the sight of the Lord? What do we need to look at in order to have the correct view of humility? What does humility look like? We are not looking to have the world’s respect. What we need is God’s power and that comes after we have humbled ourselves. That’s when He lifts us up.

 



June 8, 2020 – If My People

Read 2 Chronicles 7

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 

                

God loves the entire world, but God’s work on this earth is primarily with His people. He has given His word to this world, but they can’t understand it apart from the Holy Spirit. The greatest need is not the transformation of the world. The world has no power to change. The greatest need is for the repentance of the saved. Repentance is a doctrine that affects both the saved and unsaved, but it affects them in different ways. For the unsaved, repentance is a change of mind in relation to their need of salvation. They must see that they are sinners and that Jesus Christ came to save sinners.
 
However, the doctrine of repentance for the saved is a turn from sin. When God spoke to Solomon after the dedication of the temple, He said, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) 
 
There is a great need for God’s people to humble themselves, pray, seek Him and turn from their wickedness. The world needs light. They will see light when our lives are different from their lives. We want to blame the problems in this world on the darkness of this world. We want to blame the problems on the immorality and rejection of God, but the greatest need is not the morality of the world, rather it is  the repentance of God’s people. The great prayer begins with the words, “if my people.”
 

When we look at the New Testament, we see the same thing. Twice in the New Testament, repentance is used in connection with turning from sin. In both cases it is addressed to saved people. In Acts 8:22 we read, “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” This is not written to an unsaved man. A few verses earlier we read, “Simon himself believed and was baptized.” This act of turning from sin is a doctrine given to the church. We are the ones who have the power of the Holy Spirit, the power to change. The greatest problem in the church is sin, and the greatest need in the church is and has always been repentance. We need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we will not be conformed to this world. If we are conformed to this world, then we will be living in the same darkness the unsaved live in, and if that happens, the world will not see the light.

 

An Exercise to Increase our Faith: The responsibility for the direction of this world rests on the shoulders of this world. You can picture a ship in a bad storm looking for a safe haven. That ship can’t change the storm. It can’t still the waves. It needs a light to guide it into a harbor. The light has to shine so that the world may find God, who is our Savior. The light of this world is the Christian who has to be different from the world. 

 



June 6, 2020 – The Equality of Giving

Read 2 Corinthians 1

“But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: 15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.” 2 Corinthians 8:14 – 15 

 

When we give, it is not about us having less and someone else having more. It is about equality. At any time in my life, I may have a need and will need someone else to meet that need. All of the people in my church family will also have some need in their life that will be met by someone else. It may not be a monetary need. 
 
Many are too proud to receive. They feel that it is a sign of weakness if they are unable to meet a need in their life or the life of a family member. That is one of the purposes of the body of Christ. We have the Holy Spirit, the comforter. The word comforter in the Greek is paraklatos which literally means, “one who comes alongside of.” Part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life is “coming alongside someone who has a need.” God has placed me in the body so that my needs may be met and that I in turn can use the gifts of God in my life to meet the needs of someone else.
 
The key is that I have an abundance and will use it to supply your lack. This is a major theme of the New Testament. “Let each esteem others better than themselves. The equality is that when I have a need,  you desire is to meet my need,  and when you have a need, I desire to meet your need. The one who has a little more gives to the one who has a little less.  Looking only to my needs is self-centered living.
 
In like manner, if you have an abundance and I have a lack, you should supply my lack. It should all work out equally for the good of all of the saints and not just for those who have an abundance. The abundance is given to us along with the gift and responsibility to meet the needs of others. We need to realize that every gift that is given to us, is not simply for us, but to give us a supply for the needs of others.
 

Let me give you a simple illustration. “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 Why does God give us comfort? It is because we need to be comforted. That is the present need. But it is more than that. God gives us comfort so that we in turn may comfort others. What comfort can we give them? The same comfort that God gives to us.

 

An Exercise to Increase my Faith:  What has God given to you lately? If you notice that you have been given an extra amount, it may be because you are going to have an extra need in your life. But it could also be because there will be someone that you will meet who has the same need that God has supplied to you to meet that need. Keep your eyes focused on others and you will be able to identify their need when it comes based on what God has given to you.   

 



June 5, 2020 – Giving in Sincerity

Read 1 John 3

“I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.” 2 Corinthians 8:8 

 

The Corinthians at that time were willing to give. But being willing is one thing and giving is quite another. Paul had boasted to those in Macedonia of the willingness of the Corinthians, but now he is concerned lest he would find them unprepared when he came to gather what they had put aside.
 
Now let me say that it is a typical problem in each church. The problem is that what we say of our love for others is not always backed up by how we live. We can say we are a family, but we don’t know if that is true until we see one of the family members in need, and whether the church responds in the way that they would respond to family. We can say that we have a love for one another, but that does not necessarily mean that that is true. It is easy to say that “I love you brother.” It is easy to feel that warm feeling until we are forced to back up that claim with our lives. Love has a price tag.
 
Paul wants the Corinthians to prove the sincerity of their love through their giving. They are a wealthy area and people. They have the wherewithal to meet the needs of the saints in Jerusalem, but they are not under any commandment. They must do it for no other reason than to prove that they have the love of Christ within them. James 2 speaks out on this principle. We are Christians of belief far more than we are Christians of action.
 
We say that we love God. In 1 John 3:17, we read, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” The writer, John, is saying something similar. He writes, “how can we say that we love God whom we have not seen when we hate our brothers whom we have seen?” 
 

He also says in 1 John 3:18, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” Sincere love means that we not only talk about love, but we act in love. That’s where the subject of giving comes in. We love therefore we give. It is not enough to say, we must show the sincerity of our love by doing. 

 

An Exercise to Increase my Faith: Giving is not always about money. God can meet needs without using our wallet. What God desires most is us. He wants us to first give ourselves to Him and to people on this earth. As we give of ourselves, we can be used of God to meet the most important need of men which includes His word and His salvation.    

 



June 4, 2020 – Proportionate Giving

Read 1 Corinthians 16

“Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” 1 Corinthians 16:2 

 

This world loves big givers. When a person gives a substantial donation, their name is usually inscribed on a plaque in appreciation of their gift. When we visited the creation museum, there was a large display showing those who had given substantially to the building of the “Ark Encounter.” There is nothing wrong with showing appreciation for a gift.  Paul’s words of appreciation are written in his writings for those who gave to his work.
 
But God doesn’t look at the amount that is given. God looks at the sacrifice that was made. We read in Ephesians 5:2,  “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”
 
There is a difference between an offering and a sacrifice. Some can give a large amount without giving sacrificially. To them, it is simply an offering. To others, their small gift could be a great sacrifice and an offering. The difference is what they have to go without in order to give that amount. The man who has a great deal of money doesn’t have to go without anything to give substantially, but the impoverished one will give up something of value to give his gift. 
 
God has not asked us to give what we do not possess. “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” (2 Corinthians 8:12) 
 
God has asked us to give proportionately. Our key verse today says that we are to give “as God has prospered us.”  It depends then on how much God has given. A man can give a great deal of money but still consider that the rest of the money that he has belongs to him. Therefore, he does not have a desire to give more, because God has only given so much.
 
Another can give not only of his surplus but also of his need because he believes that God has given everything to him. The more God has given to us, the more we want to give back to Him. Those who see great blessings from God will give more than those who see a small amount that God has invested in their life. 
 

God does not need our money. He wants our money simply because “where our treasure is, that’s where our heart will be.” He wants our hearts.

 

 An Exercise to Increase my Faith: Write down the top ten things that God has given you. Keep them in your Bible for a week and thank Him each day of that week for the good gifts that He has given. As you thank Him, consider what other things should be added to your list. 
 

 



June 3, 2020 – All Good Intentions

Read Matthew 21:28-32

“And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. 11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.” 2 Corinthians 8:10 

 

It is far easier to say that we will do something than it is to actually do what we intended to do. The Bible has a lot to say about good intentions. For instance,  we read in 1 John 3:18, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”
 
You can picture the problem. There are many who say that they love. There are thousands of love songs that express the love of one for another. We can buy preprinted cards to express that love. It is not that expensive to buy a car or to play a song. But love is sacrificial. If we are unable to pay the price of the sacrifice, then our love is only words. That is not real love. It is a pretense.
 
When a person says that they love, that is usually not said in jest or in order to deceive. They really mean those words, but love is not a word, it is an action, and without the action, the words are meaningless.
 
The church in Corinth had the intention of giving money to the poor saints who were destitute. It was real enough, that they started the process of setting aside money. In fact, they began that process a year earlier. But now the process had slowed to a stop. Paul exhorts them to “perform the doing of it.” He wants them to not only have a readiness of will, but also performance.
 
I believe that most of us will one day look back on our life and we will consider our intentions. We meant to… We always thought we would… There were some decisions that we once made that were made to give honor to the Lord,  but we never really carried through with those decisions. 
 
For my dad’s birthday one year, I thought hard about what he needed. I thought of his fishing boat and how it leaked water from a rotted transom. So I gave him a card and told him for his birthday I would replace that wood transom. He would like it and appreciate it. The problem, I got very busy with other projects, and one day I noticed that he had replaced the transom on his own. It is something I regret and have never forgotten. 
 
Jesus told a parable of two brothers who were asked to work in the vineyard. The two had different reactions. The one said, “I will go.” The second said, “I will not.”  We read in Matthew 21:29, “He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.”
 
It is interesting that the one who said no to his dad changed his mind and went. The other said, “I will go,” but he never went. He had the intention of obeying, but in the end, he did not obey. Jesus asked, “Which of these two did the will of His Father?” The answer – the one who went.
 
So it is with us. Intentions are not obedience. To obey means to hear and to do. Many honor God with their words, but their heart is far from Him. Obedience is the ultimate way to show our love.
 

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15 

 

 An Exercise to Increase our Faith: Picture lying on a bed with only a few hours to live. What would be your thoughts on your death bed? Would there be any “good intentions” that you will wish you had actually acted upon? Is there anything that you have promised God that you haven’t carried out?

 



June 2, 2020 – Willingly

Read 2 Corinthians 8

“For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” 2 Corinthians 8:12 
 
The first requirement to giving is willingness. Many times people give because they are afraid of what others are thinking. We have the responsibility to give, but God only asks from you what you are willing to give. If you are not willing, then you had better pray for a willing spirit. Willingness is genuinely lacking in the church today.
 

This is perhaps the most difficult part of the Bible, man’s free will. God is Lord over heaven and earth. Everything is subject to His will. There is evidence of only one celestial being who ever rebelled against that will – the angel Lucifer. Yet, God does not force His way upon man for salvation, for obedience, or for love. He gives man a choice. In fact, He has given man many choices each day.  For instance,

For Salvation: John 3:18  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

For Service: Romans 12:1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

For Obedience: Romans 6:16  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

For Giving: 2 Corinthians 9:7  Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

 

God does not force us to obey, and He does not force us to give to our neighbor. He promises to bless us if we do, but He isn’t ruling over our pocketbook with a rod of iron. In fact God does not seem to want us to have to give out of necessity. He wants us to be willing to give. He has given to us and then out of that abundance, He asks us to use that gift for His glory to care for one another. 
 
There is a lack of willingness in this world. Human nature always wants to make sure our own needs are met first, before we will give to others. We are not sure if we will need the money tomorrow and we feel that a good steward is one who is able to provide for his family no matter the emergency that presents itself. 
 
The problem with most of that thinking is a lack of faith. If we can’t please God without faith, then having every need provided for our today and tomorrow cancels the need to use faith to see God provide. 
 
And the need of another is also immediate. We can’t look first to the needs we have for next week when the man living next to us has a need today. Our pocket is filled with our daily needs, and when we have our daily needs met, then we need to see who has a need that they can’t meet today.
 
Matthew 6:11  Give us this day our daily bread.
 

We assume therefore, that the verse which states, “Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content” (1 Timothy 6:8), is not talking about next month, but today. If we had to wait until next month to see if we have enough, we will not be able to be content today. We will not know tomorrow until tomorrow comes,  but we can know that our needs are met today.

 

An Exercise to Increase our Faith: Answer these questions: What does willingness mean? How do I know if I am willing to give to someone else? How do I know if my own needs are met? When does God ask me to give to someone else?