1 Thessalonians 5:11 (KJV)

Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (KJV)

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Promise of Christ

Pocket Devotions

Romans 9:4g
...and the promises.

Thoughts for Today:

The promises -- the great Abrahamic promises, successively unveiled, have had their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:16: "The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ."

However, there are still more promises to be found in the pages of the Old Testament. For example, there will be a time when the Jews will lead the nations of the world, there will be a universal kingdom and a world King (Jesus), and throughout the earth, government will flow from the city of Jerusalem. Those promises are still there and God intends to fulfill them. Acts 26:6-7: [Paul speaking] "And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today. This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night."

In Joshua 1:2, God spoke to the children of Israel: "Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them--to the Israelites." Let me ask you a question: "Have you ever felt the land on the other side of the Jordan River belonged to you?" I never have. Yet the Jews have an unchangeable and unalterable attachment to the land. Why? Because God Himself gave it to them, singularly. It's an illustration of the point Paul makes in our passage today -- just like the land on the other side of the Jordan river -- God will faithfully deliver upon the promises He has made to us both individually and collectively.

Questions to Ponder:

God has offered to each of us the greatest gift of all -- Himself! He sacrificed His own Son that we might live. Have you received His gift? Romans 10:9: "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. If you have not, pray with me today: "Heavenly Father, have mercy on me, a sinner. I believe in you and that your word is true. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that he died on the cross so that I may now have forgiveness for my sins and eternal life. I know that without you in my heart my life is meaningless. I believe that you, God, raised Him from the dead. Jesus, please forgive me and come into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior today. I give you my life and ask you to take full control from this moment on; I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen." If you prayed that prayer for the first time today, please let us know and we will provide you with additional information.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Undeniable Proof That God is Real

Pocket Devotions

Romans 9:4c
...theirs the divine glory...

Thoughts for Today:

The word used by Paul for "glory" is the Hebrew word "kabowd". Kabowd (glory) is the same word used in Exodus to describe the cloud which covered and protected the Israelites from the sun as they traveled by day through the desert (Exodus 16:10: "While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud.") The glory of the Lord was also in the pillar of fire which led them by night (Exodus 13:21: By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.)

Later, the Lord's glory filled the tabernacle. (Exodus 40:34: Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.);

And it was this same glory of the Lord filling the temple that Solomon built. (2 Chronicles 7:1 "When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.")

Kabowd is the glory of the Lord, and is the tangible, visible evidence of the existence of God. It is what people want most. The Israelites experienced it first-hand: They had undeniable proof that God is real.

Questions to Ponder:

The Israelites had in their presence the one thing for which every man throughout history has searched -- something substantial, something personal -- proof that God is real.
John 20:27-28: "Then he [Jesus] said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.' Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God!'" And such is our response when our Lord moves from the pages of the Bible into our hearts and lives. When He becomes more than just the subject of an entertaining story, or good advice.
Is God real for you?
Have you experienced the "kabowd" (glory) of the Lord?
Jesus Christ is both real and personal. It's reflected in Thomas' response to the resurrected Christ: My Lord, my God. Jesus says to each of us (as He did to Thomas two thousand years ago): "Reach out your hand, touch me, feel me, stop doubting, and BELIEVE! I am the glory of the Lord."

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Introduction to Romans 9

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Pocket Devotions

Review and introduction

Thoughts for Today:

Through the first eight chapters of Romans, Paul has established the principals of salvation. In the twelfth through sixteenth chapters Paul will deal with the practical application of these principles in the life of the believer. However, before he brings us forward into application, he will take us back through some of the problems with salvation which he addresses in chapters nine through eleven.

At this point, some of us may be wondering: "All this is great for the Gentiles, but what about the Jews? Are they now separated from God? Are they no longer His chosen people? And if God changed His mind about the Jews, will He change His mind about us as well?" The next three chapters is a critical component of the Bible because it not only answers these questions, but also demonstrates God's nature and faithfulness by means of the Jews as an illustration:

Chapter nine -- God's past dealing with Israel shows his sovereignty;
Chapter ten -- God's present dealing with Israel shows his fairness;
Chapter eleven -- God's future dealing with Israel shows his integrity.

God's past dealing with Israel (the Jews), has not been because they possessed some superior trait or exceptional national characteristic. In fact, they were quite the opposite. If anything, Israel has demonstrated throughout history that they are just as stubborn, stiff-necked, and weak morally as the rest of humanity. So why did God choose Israel? Because He could. It was His divine and sovereign right to choose -- and He chose Israel. By doing so, God has revealed a lot about Himself -- just as He acted regularly with mercy toward Israel, He will do the same for us. It's His nature.

Questions to Ponder:

I don't know about you, but I need mercy. Every time I think I get this Christian life right, my sinful nature kicks in and I do something I wish I hadn't. I am so grateful for God's mercy. Can you relate? Do you have an unconfessed sin that is in the way of your relationship with God? Our God is a merciful God, will you approach Him now?

Monday, September 8, 2014

What Are You Withholding?


Pocket Devotions

Romans 8:32a
He who did not spare his own Son.

Thoughts for Today:

In the Old Testament, there is the account of Abraham who when called by God to make a sacrifice did not withhold his only son. Genesis 22:9-12: "When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, 'Abraham! Abraham!' 'Here I am,' he replied. 'Do not lay a hand on the boy,' he said. 'Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.'"

Perhaps the reason God poured out so many blessings upon Abraham and his descendants is because he was willing to sacrifice the one thing that mattered to him most, his son. We do the same thing when by faith we place on the altar of God our marriage, career, car, home, bank account, or retirement plans. When we say with sincerity, "All of this doesn't matter in comparison to the price You paid for me, Lord". God can then truly pour out His blessings upon us -- when the stuff in our lives no longer serves as a distraction.

Questions to Ponder:

What are you withholding? Where is your focus?
Is it upon the Cross or some problem or crisis in your life?
What occupies your thoughts?
What's interrupting your relationship with God?
Has something become too important or overwhelming?
Why do you continue to go alone?
God demonstrated His love for us when He did not spare His own Son --
Jesus died that we might live.
Will you trust God with your life and concerns?
What about your marriage, children, etc. ?
Will you place them upon His altar ?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Called and Saved: Is it Fair?


Pocket Devotions

Romans 8:28b
...who have been called according to his purpose.

Thoughts for Today:

The doctrine of election can be tricky business unless we look at it from God's perspective. Think about it like this: Let's suppose I approach ten boys playing tag on the playground and ask "How would you like to learn to play baseball?" Six of the boys say "No we like it here. We're comfortable and having fun." But the other four answer "Sure, we'd like to learn how to play." Who are the ones called? Answer, the four who said "Yes." They are the ones who are taught to play baseball. You might ask, "But what about the other six?" Unfortunately, they are still playing on the playground since that's what they chose to do. In the same way, the lost are lost because they have chosen to be lost.

So why does God operate this way? I don't know. When God created the world, he didn't ask me if He should make it flat, square, or round. When God created spiders, he didn't consult the world's leading entomologists and ask their opinion regarding the advisability of six or eight legs. God made the world round because he wanted it round; and spiders have eight legs because He wanted spiders to have eight legs.

It's simple. Whatever God does is right. His purpose is going to be carried out because He has both the wisdom and power to do so. Don't make the mistake of criticizing God by saying "It's not fair. God shouldn't have the right to call only those He wants called. To save only those He wants saved." God is just and loving. Therefore, anything and everything He does is always right. Besides, He has given us all a choice to make: Will you choose His Son Jesus?

Questions to Ponder:

What have you done with His Son Jesus?
Is He the Lord of your life?
Have you placed Him in control?
Do you trust Him?
He has invited every one of us to know His Son.
Have you accepted His invitation?
Or do you remain preoccupied by the distractions of this world only?
What about eternity?