Read along with me, journaling life thoughts and experiences daily with the selected Bible readings. Because the same reading plan is used year after year, some daily posts may be the same as a previous year, although new content is constantly added in order to have 365 days of fresh devotions. Read along with me! And please leave comments!
6 Those who
trust in their wealth
And boast in the
multitude of their riches, 7 None of them
can by any means redeem his
Nor give to God a ransom
for him— 8 For the redemption of their souls is costly… (Psalm
What is the cost for redemption? How much wealth would it take to pay for
it? The psalmist here observes the truth
that, “the redemption of souls… is
costly.” The NIV Bible states it
this way, “no payment is ever
enough.” All people, rich or poor,
will one day die and their bodies decay.
Whatever wealth one accumulates will be left behind to others. But though our bodies will perish and our
wealth cannot purchase redemption for our souls, the psalmist yet sees hope for
15 But God
will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive
me. Selah (Ps 49:15 NKJV)
Our redemption is totally out of our control. No amount of human ability, or wealth, or
power will redeem us or our fellow human beings. Redemption can only come from God and by His
If I were a wealthy man, I can think of many worthwhile
things I could do with that wealth (and yes, many selfish pursuits as well). But if I had unlimited financial resources I
could become the greatest philanthropist the world has ever known. I would receive the accolades of people everywhere
(Ps 49:18). Yet all of that wealth, or
ability, or wisdom, or knowledge, or good intentions, or sincerity, or love…
(you can insert anything in the place of “wealth”) …none of that can redeem me
or anyone else. My eternal redemption
and everyone else’s is completely out of my hands. Only Jesus Christ is able to purchase
redemption. Only He is able to deliver
from death unto eternal life.
Thank You Lord for Your love that exceeds all else—that provides
what I can never provide.
35 But someone
may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they
come?" 36 How
foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not
plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something
else. 38 But God gives it
a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 All flesh is not the
same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish
another. 40 There are
also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the
heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.
41 The sun has one kind
of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star
42 So will it
be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it
is raised imperishable; 43
it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is
raised in power; 44 it is
sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural
body, there is also a spiritual body. 45
So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the
last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46
The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the
spiritual. 47 The first
man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48 As was the earthly man,
so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are
those who are of heaven. 49
And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the
likeness of the man from heaven.
50 I declare
to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,
nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
(1 Cor 15:35-50 NIV)
We often think of the body as physical and the spirit as
non-physical. The body you can see, touch and feel; the spirit is invisible and
beyond sensory perception. So when Paul speaks of a natural body and a
spiritual body we tend to think of the one as physical and other as not. But
the body that is raised imperishable, though a spiritual body, is apparently still a physical body without the weaknesses and failings we have only known
the physical body to be heir to.
The resurrection of the dead is not just spiritual, but
complete—just as Christ’s resurrection was both physical and
Lord, thank You for shedding light upon my feeble mind.
Thank You for these assurances. Amen.
1 Follow the
way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts…
12 … Since you
are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the
church. (1Cor 14:1 & 12 NIV)
After giving us teaching on spiritual gifts (chap 12) and
the supreme importance of genuine love above all gifts (chap 13), Paul offers
guidance and encouragement in the proper use of spiritual gifts (chap 14). Here
we learn that spiritual gifts are to be beneficial to individuals and to the
assembly of believers—the Church. Therefore, we should “eagerly desire” these God-given gifts. Furthermore, we are
instructed that some gifts primarily serve to build us up individually (a good
thing), while others serve to edify the whole assembly (an even better thing).
That we “try to excel in gifts” shows
us that our skill in using gifts should improve with experience over time.
As a pastor, teacher and leader in the Church, I must
encourage an environment of learning about spiritual gifts. I must strive to
provide a safe atmosphere in which believers are allowed to practice, make
mistakes, improve and eventually excel in using their God-given gifts.
Lord, help me to lovingly guide and release saints in the
use of spiritual gifts.
You have made my days
a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's
life is but a breath. (Ps 39:5 NIV)
I have observed that the older I get, the shorter a lifetime
seems to be. I’m not sure how old David was when he penned this psalm, but he has
clearly come to recognize the brevity of life on this earth. I find the
reference to a lifetime being “but a breath” to be an interesting concept to
contemplate. From the time we take our first breath out of the womb, how many
hundreds of millions of respirations will we have taken in our lifetime? Yet
all the breaths in and out of all mankind added together from the beginning to
the end of time is contained within one breath of God. With one breath God
imparted life to all mankind (Gen 2:7).
I know in my spirit that I am an eternal being, and that my
days of life on this side of heaven are comparatively short. But these days—my
breaths—my present physical life—has been given to me for a reason. The
shortness makes it all the more important I spend my “mere handbreadth” well.
Lord, make the remaining days of my short life meaningful
for Your kingdom and for those I will leave behind.
Now about spiritual
gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. (1 Cor 12:1 NIV)
This simple, straight forward sentence is clearly addressed
to Christian believers (“brothers”). It is a subject, therefore, that not all
people will understand; but that Christians need to grasp. God wants us to be
knowledgeable about the gifts He distributes among us—what His gifts are; what
they are for; how they work. They are “spiritual” gifts, and therefore must be realized
in our spirits, not our minds alone.
Today there is a plethora of assessments people may take to
discover their personality traits, leadership styles, how they tend to lean in
different life and work situations, etc. Depending upon the particular
evaluation, people may be classified as being predominately a certain color,
animal, personality trait, introvert or extrovert, passive or aggressive… Some
of these may be quite useful, but as a Christian teacher, I must first
emphasize teaching God’s gifts from both an academic and a spiritual
perspective. I am charged with making disciples, and Paul admonishes that
Jesus’ disciples are not to be ignorant about spiritual gifts.
Lord, grant unto me intellectual and spiritual understanding
of Your gifts, and the ability to impart that knowledge effectively to Your
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered
to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took
bread; 24and when He had
given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is
broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper,
saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as
you drink it, in remembrance of Me." 26
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's
death till He comes.
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of
the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the
Lord. 28 But let a man
examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks
in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the
said “Do this in remembrance of Me,” but just what exactly did He mean
for us to remember when He instituted the Lord’s Table? We are told to remember
His body, His blood, and His death. But is that all we’re supposed to remember?
He was betrayed, He was unjustly tried, He was beaten and mocked and tortured,
He was severely whipped, He was nailed to a cross and suffered excruciatingly. His
body was mangled and His blood was poured out and He died. –– “This is My body which is broken for
you. . . This cup is the new covenant in My blood. . .” Yes! This is what we are to remember. But may I
suggest that we are not only to remember His suffering and sacrifice, but why He suffered and died.
Verse 27 talks about partaking “unworthily.” So who is worthy to come to the Lord’s
Table? I’ll tell you the answer
to that – Nobody. None of us
are worthy on our own merits. Partaking in a worthy manner doesn’t mean making ourselves worthy. It has
nothing to do with our own good behavior; it means to ascribe the full worth to
what Jesus Christ has done to welcome us into the presence of the Father. He has made us
worthy through His blood and His Cross.
does Jesus want us to remember?” He is
not asking us to remember how much it hurt Him or that it was our fault.
Jesus doesn’t require ongoing remembrance of guilt in order for us to become
His disciples. When we eat the bread and drink the cup, He wants us to remember
that His Blood was shed—once and for all—to cover all our sins so we need never
live under condemnation. Whenever we come to observe the ordinance of Holy Communion,
in addition to being a time of somber reflection, may it be an occasion of joyous thanksgiving for the
victory He has accomplished for us.
Father, thank You for the great love you have demonstrated
in sending Jesus. Jesus, thank You that you came and victoriously won eternal
life for those who believe and receive it. Holy Spirit empower us to live lives
that glorify our Creator and Savior. Amen. -AP
things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us,
on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful
that you don't fall! 13
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful;
he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are
tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Cor 10:11-13 NIV).
In the verses just before this passage we find that “these
things” that happened to “them” (the Israelites) were consequences for sinful
behavior. Those sinful acts included idolatry, pagan revelry, sexual
immorality, and grumbling. The consequences was death by various means. It is
interesting that the lives of those who have gone before us have meaning beyond
their own lifetimes. “These things” that happened to the Israelites of Moses’
day certainly served as lessons to them, but it also had meaning to the
Christians of Paul’s day and to us today.
The history of what happened to
the Israelites as a result of their disobedience to God was recorded as examples and warnings to many
generations hence. Therefore, take heed! Do you think you have your act
together? Watch out! You could fall into the same trap and face dire
circumstances. You are no different that they were; your temptations are not
new to the human race. The good news is that in Christ Jesus you do not have to
die for your stumblings; you can overcome and stand up in the face of the
temptations you face.
There is a sinister spiritual reality present in our modern
world; in the guise of enlightenment it denies the relevance of godly values
given in the Bible. It disputes the validity of biblical precepts. It places
the determination of moral behavior in the hands of general consensus while at
the same time manipulating that consensus toward moral justification. It
coerces society to conform to its moral determinations which seem to be ever
devolving. It convinces individuals that behavior once thought sinful is
actually righteous. It traps people into believing there is no need for
repentance and forgiveness of sin. If I have no sin, I have no need for a
Savior. If God’s book is just a compilation of old fashioned ideas, give it no
credence. If we have progressed beyond the need for an antiquated God, do not
foolishly believe in Him; and ridicule those mentally deficient people who
Wow! What a insidious trap that tempts people into believing
they will be free when they are actually being lured into a deadly cage. Heed this
admonition: While the temptation of the world today is great, you do not have
to be sucked into it. God has provided a way for you to escape the trap. Wake
up! Open your eyes to see! Because if you get to the place where you truly
“think” you have it all figured out, you’re already in that cage.
Lord have mercy on us. May your truth prevail in the hearts
and minds of men and women both inside of and outside of Your Church. Through
Christ. Amen. -AP
19 For though
I am free from all men, I have
made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win
Jews; to those who are under
the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21
to those who are without law,
as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ),
that I might win those who are
without law; 22 to the
weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to
all men, that I might by all
means save some. (1 Cor 9:19-22 NKJV)
This is an interesting passage of scripture that describes
the Apostle Paul’s philosophy of ministry.
He says that when ministering among Jews he followed their Law and
customs. When ministering among those of
other cultures, he would follow their customs.
By complying with the customs of others—by making himself “a servant to all” (v. 19)—it was his
desire to win more people for Christ (v. 19).
“I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save
some” (v. 22).
An initial observation might be to think Paul lacked
conviction. How could he be all things
to all people? How could he live one way
in one culture and live differently in another culture? Where’s the conviction of belief in a way of
life and behavior? Aren’t some things
right and some things wrong? The
parenthetical note in verse 21 should put to rest any confusion as to Paul’s
convictions. He explains that he is not
dissing the law of God, rather embracing the law toward Christ who died to save
men and women of all tribes, tongues, nations and cultures.
Christ’s Church today often struggles with these
concepts. How do we balance the concept
of standing up for right behavior (morality) and shunning wrong behavior
(immorality), with the concept of extending Christlike love, acceptance and
forgiveness to all people regardless of their behavior?
Let me pose a scenario for any Christians reading this entry
to consider: Suppose God called you to
take the gospel of Jesus Christ to a far away culture of people. In this culture the normal courting process
involves boys and girls pairing off when they come of age and engaging in
sexual intercourse. When they find
someone with whom they feel compatible they make a home together. Finally, after living together for a
considerable period of time and discovering that they want to maintain an
exclusive relationship, their marriage is solemnized by a ceremony conducted by
one of the authorities of their people.
In order to bring the gospel to these people how important would it be
to convince them to change the ways of their culture in regard to premarital
sex? Could these people be saved and
become mature, convinced and convincing followers of Jesus Christ without
changing this aspect of their culture?
Now realize that this is not a description of a far away culture, but of
today’s post modern American culture.
How do we adapt to a changing culture that we “might win the more” (v. 19), without
compromising the Gospel of Christ?
the question but I'm not sure I have a precise answer; however, I do have an
opinion. I think it is important for us to separate what is truly the
biblical gospel of Christ from the traditional mindset of culture.
How a society accepts or determines the courting process is not as important as
the fact that they need to accept Christ. But we also need to
recognize the difference between what is culture and what is sinful
behavior. In regard the scenario I gave, God's Word does have
something to say about sexual relations outside of marriage, but other than
that, how people court from one culture to another may be quite
different. I say lead them to Christ and let the Holy Spirit deal with
conviction of sin.
Lord, thank You for loving and saving an unworthy sinner
such as myself. It is my desire to help
lead many others to gain a personal relationship with You too. Help me to minister in the same way as
Christ, who sought fellowship with all people, yet without sin. Through Christ
and for God’s glory. Amen. -AP
1 Now about
food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge
puffs up, but love builds up. 2
The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But the man who loves God
is known by God.
4 So then,
about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all
in the world and that there is no God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in
heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many
"lords"), 6 yet
for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom
we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came
and through whom we live.
7 But not
everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when
they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and
since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no
worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
9 Be careful,
however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to
the weak. 10 For if
anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an
idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols?
11 So this weak brother,
for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against your brothers in this way and
wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall
into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.
(1 Cor 8:1-13 NIV).
Paul is specifically addressing the subject of eating food
that has been first offered as a sacrifice to false gods. Is it okay to eat it
or not? However, it should be understood that Paul is not just using “food
sacrificed to idols” specifically, but as representative of a greater concept.
The greater admonition here is about how we use knowledge we have acquired,
what liberties such knowledge gives us, and how we should and should not
exercise those liberties.
The acquisition of knowledge is not a bad thing. God created
us with the ability to reason. Therefore, as good stewards of what God has
given us, I believe the exercise and development of our intellect is to be
pursued. However, regardless of how much knowledge we attain; as bright and
free thinking as we may become; as skillful as we believe our powers of
reasoning have become honed, it is downright foolishness and narcissism to
believe ourselves ever to have “figured it out.” If we should attain the
absolute height of all possible human intellect, we are still as mindless
microbes next to the omniscient Creator. To love Him and be known by Him is of
infinitely greater importance, and is not a factor of intellect, accumulation
of knowledge, or superior reasoning (vv. 2-3).
We humans like to show off our smarts. We love to argue and
debate. We relish using our intellectual prowess as a weapon to win—to show
ourselves as superior. The greater our understanding, the more free we feel. “I
am not bound by ignorant superstition. I am free of the restraints supposed by
the less informed,” we tell ourselves. We then, in our arrogant liberty and
ignorance of knowledge, lead the weak to destruction and sin against the God
who gave us our liberty and our
ability to reason (vv. 4-13).
Greater understanding comes as we study, learn and grow in
humility before our God and place the best welfare of others before ourselves.
Thank you Lord for the gift of my mind. May I ever be aware
that you have also given me my spirit. May the one never supersede the other,
but grow in tandem for my best health, to the benefit of others, and for your
glory. In Christ. Amen. -AP
1… Yes, it is
good to live a celibate life. 2 But because there is so much
sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should
have her own husband.
3 The husband
should fulfill his wife's sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her
husband's needs. 4 The
wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives
authority over his body to his wife.
5 Do not
deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from
sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely
to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won't be
able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Cor 7:2-6 NLT).
Paul was fully devoted to the Lord’s service. In his
personal experience he had determined that marriage would be a distraction and
a detraction from his ability to give himself wholly to serving the Lord (see
v.7 and vv. 32-34). However, he concedes that not everyone is gifted in the
same way that he is (v. 7), and that the sexual drive is strong in men and
women. So, in order to avoid the inevitable “immorality” of men and women
satisfying their sexual urges outside of marriage, Paul clearly addresses the
bounds within which, and only within which, sexual satisfaction is to be
enjoyed: “each man should have his own
wife, and each woman should have her own husband” (v. 2). It is the
husband’s duty to satisfy his wife sexually, and it is the wife’s duty likewise
to fulfill her husband’s sexual needs. In marriage their bodies are one and
belong to each other.
Today’s American society and Western Civilization at large
really understands and embraces the truth that the human sexual drive is
strong. Satisfying those urges is seen as a given that cannot and should not be
expected to be suppressed. Self control, when it comes to human sexuality, is
seen as nearly impossible and those who do choose to exercise restraint outside
of marriage are ridiculed as abnormal. Young males and females who have reached
puberty are generally given permission and even encouragement by society to
engage in sexual intercourse and to practice sexual experimentation with the
only admonition being to practice “safe” sex. However, by so doing, I contend
that we have lowered and weakened ourselves. We have denied our God-given
ability to live nobler—to rise above mere physicality—to live on a higher
Yes, the sexual impulse is powerful. It has been created to
be so. As a society we would be foolish not to acknowledge this. In our culture
we have perhaps developed an idea of adolescence that is too long (roughly
between the ages of 13 and 21); that’s eight years of sexual suppression before
being considered an adult. But is the answer to therefore teach sexual
liberality at the expense of teaching our children that a higher and nobler
existence and relationship with their Creator is possible—that self control is
not only possible, but healthier both physically and spiritually? I believe
that children and adults alike will be healthier, happier and enjoy a more
fulfilling existence when we aspire to be self disciplined rather than self
satisfying. I believe in this way the sexual union of a husband and wife rises
far above the satisfaction of physical orgasm to a level of combined physical
and spiritual fulfillment that may only be realized by both parties when they
know God’s blessing is upon it.
Lord forgive us of the arrogance of presuming that we are
the arbiters of morality rather than You. Forgive us for erecting standards of
behavior based on our weaknesses rather than the strength You can give us.
Grant me wisdom to share spiritual truth to a world that denies spiritual
reality—that understands only the physical and the intellectual. I confess my
inadequacy and humbly implore Your intervention and enlightenment to break
through to the souls of men and women who seek the truth but are living with
impaired spiritual eyes and ears. In the name of and in the power of Christ
Jesus I pray for my human family. Amen.
9 Do you not
know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers
nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor
slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And that is what some
of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in
the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:69-11 NIV)
This passage points out that in the name of Christ Jesus any
and all sins may be forgiven, and by the power of God’s Holy Spirit any and all
sins may be overcome and put behind us. Various sins are listed and the
consequences to the “wicked”—those whose lives endorse those sinful practices—is
pronounced in no uncertain terms, they “will
not inherit the kingdom
In today’s world this is a controversial passage primarily
because the sins listed and condemned includes specific sexual sins by name. In
our topsy-turvy permissive society certain behaviors once considered sinful are
adamantly defended and championed. This is the deception we are warned against.
The glory of the passage for us, and the truth we should take from it, is that
through Jesus Christ and by God’s Spirit we may be washed, sanctified and
justified. That means we may be freed from the bondage of sin and empowered to
live rightly before our Creator. The deception is that if we are persuaded that
what God calls sin is not sin, but rather is behavior to be endorsed, practiced
and even celebrated, we will oppose any notion of the need for repentance and
forgiveness. The hubris to declare ourselves righteous and in no need of the
Savior is astonishing! “Do not be deceived,” such egocentric reasoning leads
not to freedom, but to destruction of individual souls and to societies.
Thank You God for the love You offer us even as sinful and
unworthy as we are. Thank You for the means You have provided for each of us
individually to be washed (cleansed
of our sins), sanctified (set apart
to fulfill our purpose and thus be fulfilled in our being), and justified (made to be in right standing
according to Your standard). Help us to not be deceived into justifying
ourselves, but to be enabled to acknowledge our sins and short comings whatever
they may be, and our need of relationship with You.
Through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, and by the power
of Your Holy Spirit given to enable us to live accordingly, we pray. Amen. -AP
1 But the
Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of
Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of
them. So the Lord's anger burned against Israel. (Josh 7:1 NIV)
10 The Lord
said to Joshua, "Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11Israel has sinned; they have
violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of
the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with
their own possessions. 12
That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their
backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be
with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to
destruction. (Josh 7:10-12 NIV)
The sin of Achan was that he had taken “devoted things” for
his own possession. The Hebrew term for “devoted things” cherem means things which the Lord has declared must be totally given
over to Him—totally removed from our lives—utterly destroyed. To covet and hold
on to such “things” is an individual sin before God, but that sin is compounded
to societal sin when society allows the sin to continue unchecked. The
Israelites were weakened as a nation; they were unable to stand against their
enemies; they were made fearful; they were “made liable to destruction” as long
as those sins were allowed to continue unabated.
There is a spiritual principle illustrated in this passage.
I see both individual and societal applications.
As an individual, have I taken hold of attitudes, life
styles, opinions, behaviors, etc. that God would term as cherem? Have I allowed myself to become self-absorbed and
self-governing? Have I become my own justifier as to what is right and wrong?
Have I become infected with an Achan-like sin? Or worse yet, have I become a
profligate disseminator of those sins to my society.
As a society, have we allowed our collective consciousness
to be permissive of beliefs and behaviors that God has declared cherem? Has the majority opinion of our
society become one of practicing and celebrating these “things”?
If so, we should not be surprised to find ourselves
weakened. It should be expected that we find ourselves fearful and running,
because God, “will not be with you
anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.”
Lord, open our eyes to see the sin of Achan in our own
hearts. Give us the courage to give up those “devoted things” to You and
eliminate them from our lives, that we may be spared from destruction and enjoy
the peace and prosperity Your blessings bring. Through Christ. Amen. -AP
2 Now it is
required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
(1 Cor 4:2 NIV)
In the context of this verse, the Apostle Paul has stated
that he and other Christian leaders have been entrusted by God as servants of
Christ to bring lucidity to the “secret things of God” (v. 1). Having accepted
that calling, they are then required to show themselves to be faithful of that
trust—faithful to God and to those they have been entrusted to lead.
As one who has accepted the calling of my Lord to ministry,
this admonition speaks directly to me. I must be faithful to my calling, and
those to whom I have been called to be a servant leader must be able to
recognize that faithfulness in me. I will not be without flaws. How I choose to
serve and teach may not always be without mistakes. Of greater importance,
however, is that my honesty, integrity, trustworthiness and faithfulness be
Lord, thank You for the trust You have placed in me. May I
ever be worthy of that trust. Through Christ. Amen. -AP
3Trust in the Lord, and do
good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
yourself in the Lord; and he will
give you the desires of your heart.
5Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this: 6He will make
your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the
(Ps 37:3-6 NIV)
These few verses in this Psalm of David offer a wonderful
progression of actions and resulting benefits:
“Trust in the Lord,
and do good”A dwelling and safe pasture
“Delight yourself in the Lord”The desires of your heart
“Commit your way to the Lord”Your righteousness and justice illuminated
Let’s take these one at a time:
3Trust in the Lord, and do good…
If I will put my faith and trust in the Lord and put
action to that belief by doing good—that is living righteously according to
Godly principles to the best of my ability, then I can trust God for the promise
that follows, which says…
…dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
A dwelling is a place to live and a safe pasture is
where one can be fed without fear. This
speaks of the two most basic of human needs: Food and shelter. What this tells
me then is that if I will trust in the
Lord and obey His ways—“do good”—then He will provide for my basic needs.The next action is…
4Delight yourself in the Lord;
This speaks of what my attitude is in following the
Lord. Many times we may truly be trusting in and following the Lord, but not
very happy about it. But if our attitude is one of un-begrudged delight the
…he will give
you the desires of your heart.
Wow, “the desires of your heart!” This goes way beyond
my basic needs of food and shelter. God wants to provide my basic needs—yes,
but He wants to go far beyond that. He
also delights to grant me the desires of my heart! God doesn’t want me to just
be satisfied, He wants me to be fulfilled!
What a loving God we serve—hallelujah!
And He’s not done yet. He has
more; verse 5 says…
your way to the Lord…
What is my commitment to the Lord and these actions? A
commitment is a solid decision or resolution from which you are unwavering,
which you stick to no matter what. With that kind of commitment, God promises
6 He will make your righteousness shine like
the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
God’s light will eventually expose everything. Whatever
is righteous and just as well as whatever is evil and dishonest will be seen
for exactly what it is. Your joyful obedience and unwavering resolve will be
recognized and the scales of justice will be balanced.
My Lord and my God, thank for these marvelous guidelines and
benefits. May I be blessed with the wisdom and courage to live by Your Word. In
Christ. Amen. -AP
4 ...my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that 5 your faith
should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.(1 Cor 2:4-5 NKJV)
12 Now we have
received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we
might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. (1 Cor 2:12
Some things may only be discerned and known
spiritually. The Apostle Paul, in this
chapter of 1 Corinthians, declares that his teaching and preaching were not
derived from, “human wisdom, but in
demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (v. 4). Paul was indeed an intellectual man and
highly educated. However, he realized
that his intellect and studies were less important than having the power and
inspiration of the Holy Spirit propelling his preaching and teaching. It was more important to hear and be led by
the Holy Spirit than to rely upon his own humanly acquired wisdom.
The application for any who would serve the Lord as a
preacher or teacher is that they certainly must study and develop the mental
and speaking gifts God has given them.
But woe to you if you rely only on those gifts and do not grow and learn
and speak under the Holy Spirit’s anointing and direction.
Lord, grant unto me the fullness of Your Spirit. As I study, may my intellect be sharpened and
my knowledge increased. May my studies
be guided and enlightened by Your Spirit.
I realize that of greater importance than my intellectual development is
my spiritual development. May spiritual
discernment and wisdom from You always accompany my teaching and preaching,
that those who hear may also receive more than the impartation of knowledge,
but spiritually receive of Your love,
power and wisdom.
As I read this psalm of David and write this journal entry,
my wife and I are at our son’s home babysitting our baby granddaughter. They
have a monitoring device installed that allows you to see and hear the baby in
her crib from anywhere in the house. So while I write and my wife reads, we
have this monitor that our ears are inclined to. We are listening for any cry
from the child that we love and care for.
How encouraging it is to know that God is inclined toward me
and hears my cries for help. He loves and cares for me. He delivers me from
sinful entanglements, gives direction for my path and meaningful words to
speak. Like David, I know I can trust Him and am inspired to offer Him my
When I read these verses today, it felt for a moment as if I
were reading about myself. When I was a young man I made some poor decisions
and did some foolish things, the consequences of which have followed me all the
days of my life.
The Lord gave me a vision in a dream long ago. In this dream
I was standing on a wooden walkway looking down into a pit where people were
dancing and rolling in sloppy, slimy mud. They were expending great energy with
this “dirty” dancing and urged me to come down into the pit with them, but I
had no desire to do so.
Some time after that dream, events in my life, against my
own will, drug me into the mire. All I could do was to tenaciously hold on to
the Lord and cry out to Him. He did hear my cry. He did pull me out. He did
establish my steps anew and put a joyful song in my heart again.
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You my Lord! You are worthy of
all my love, praise and adoration. Thank You for setting my feet upon the solid
Rock. Continue to fill my mouth with fresh new words that may draw others near
to you as well. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
29 “The secret
things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong
to us and to our children forever…” (Deut
What are secret things? If something is a secret it is
something that is unknown to me. It may be known to someone, and to that
someone it is not a secret, but as long as it remains unknown to me it remains
to me a secret.
This passage declares a truth that cannot be disputed: God
knows things that are beyond our understanding. He is the omniscient Creator;
alongside Him I am as a mindless microbe. The other truth of this passage is
that I am only responsible before God for the things that have been
revealed—things that I and my fellow microbes have been given the means to
discover—things that God has purposed for us to know.
Some microbes think so highly of themselves as to not
believe in God. They apparently believe that anything beyond their own
understanding doesn’t exist. They do not realize that the beginning of wisdom
is in realizing the infinite measure of that which they do not know. God is far
greater than any creature can fathom. While I cannot comprehend all that God
is, I may yet know the reality of His existence. His love and His presence and
His companionship are part of that which has been revealed to me, not by means
of my own cognitive reasoning, but by means of spiritual revelation. This is
part of “those things which are revealed”—those
things that, “belong to us and to our
Omnipotent and Omniscient Creator, thank You for the truth
you have revealed to me and continue to uncover to my limited being day by day
as I walk in faith. Thank You for Your guidance in my pursuit of both
intellectual and spiritual knowledge day by day. Thank You that, while You are
vast beyond human comprehension, yet somehow I know Your love and the touch of
eternal life. Thank You for providing that I may have relationship with You.
Through Christ. Amen. -AP
13 You, my
brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the
sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command:
"Love your neighbor as yourself."
15 If you keep on
biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each
other. 16 So I say, live
by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Gal
Real freedom is defined by the ability to choose for oneself
how to behave and what course one’s life will pursue. Living in a nation that
establishes laws to assure individual liberties is a blessing, but laws by a
collective society, necessarily dictate what is considered good behavior and
bad behavior. In Christ, however, we are given freedom unrestricted by law with
the exhortation to, "Love your
neighbor as yourself."
Our American society today is becoming one of increased
bullying, it seems. By whatever divisions we have constructed within our
society, coercion to force our freedoms on others is the order of the day.
Whether it is Democrats versus Republicans, progressives versus conservatives,
pro-life versus abortion rights, labor versus management, gay rights, women’s
rights, environmentalists, religious freedom, animal rights, evolutionists,
global warming, gun control…; society has divided itself into almost
innumerable camps demanding that their freedom choices be favored over and
above anyone else’s freedom choices.
In a free society differing opinions is to be expected and
is actually healthy toward positive progress, but the attitude of presumption
that has permeated today’s society has become one of, “biting and devouring each other.” “You will agree with me or I
will destroy you!” Such attitudes, we are told, are to indulge our sinful
nature and to place ourselves once again into bondage to that nature. Such
bullying behavior serves only to nullify the individual freedom—the real
freedom—Christ has offered us.
Lord, thank you for setting me free to be free. While
passionately sharing my beliefs, help me to always and only be motivated by
love and not by hateful sinful nature. Help my nation strike the proper balance
to assure the individual liberties of all without unduly denying the freedom
choices of others. May we live in the freedom for which You have set us free. Amen. -AP
19 “When you
reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not
go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow,
that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat your olive
trees, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the stranger,
the fatherless, and the widow. 21
When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward;
it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.” (Deut
These are guidelines given by God to His people: Don’t be
greedy. Be generous. Leave some of the product of your own labors for the use of
others who may need it. In fact, not to do so may reduce God’s blessings to “the work of your hands” and thus
jeopardize your own prosperity.
The concept is clear: God is not asking people to give
everything away, but only that a portion of what God has blessed them with is
to be left or given for the use of the others who may need it. The principle
God wants us to grasp is that by whatever means you and your family have been
provided for, whether that’s by grain fields, vineyards, orchards, or by a
paycheck from your employer, God wants us to leave something for others who are
less fortunate or who may have need of it.
Lord, thank you for your blessings to me. May I honor You by
joyously sharing those blessings with others. For Your glory. Amen. -AP
26 You are all
sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27
for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with
Christ. 28 There is
neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in
Christ Jesus. 29 If you
belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the
(Gal 3:26-29 NIV)
For centuries the Jewish culture had been built upon their
traditions and their unique identity as “God’s chosen people.” By the time of
Jesus the whole Jewish mindset had become steeped in the concept that as God’s
chosen people they were above other people groups. They were to separate
themselves from all other tribes and nations and therefore not associate with
them in any way.
Here Paul sets the record straight. When God chose Abraham and
promised him that a great nation would come from his seed, that was only part
of the promise. What was God’s promise to Abraham?
will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will
be blessed through him. (Gen 18:18 NIV)
your (Abraham’s) offspring all
nations on earth will be blessed…
(Gen 22:18 NIV)
was not set apart because they were better than other people groups, they were
set apart to be a blessing to other peoples. They were set apart to be the
people through whom the Messiah would come to set all people free who would
believe in and receive Him.
Have you ever known anyone to get into trouble because they
didn’t listen to instructions carefully—maybe they missed a step when they were
building something and it didn’t come out right? Or maybe instruction was given
and they only listened to the parts that they liked or were interested in?
I have sometimes told the story of one of my sons who loved
our family recipe for tuna casserole. One day he decided to make it on his own.
He gathered all the ingredients and made it just like he had seen me do it many
times. When the casserole was finished it didn’t taste quite right. That’s when
he discovered that of all the ingredients for tuna casserole he had forgotten
to add the tuna.
Listen Christians – Somehow the Jewish culture had grown
from only heeding some of God’s
instructions. They got the part about being God’s chosen people. They got the
part about being a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. They got the part
about being set apart and separated from the other nations. But they forgot to
put the tuna in the casserole! They forgot that the whole reason for this was
that they would be a blessing to the other nations—that they were supposed to
be set apart to serve and show the love of God to all nations. As Christians
today, and “heirs according to the
promise” as Abraham’s seed, let us not make the same mistake.
Lord, thank You for blessing me so greatly with Your love and
salvation. Grant me the grace, wisdom and ability to love and be a blessing to
others. Through Christ Jesus. Amen. -AP
who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' 16 know that a man is not justified by observing the
law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ
Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law,
because by observing the law no one will be justified. (Gal 2:15-16 NIV)
Paul is accentuating an important truth here to all people,
whether Jewish or non-Jewish. Before the coming of the Messiah—Jesus—the Hebrew
people lived their lives trying to practice the letter of the Law, following
God’s commandments, practicing the Law of Moses and all the legalistic
amendments added to it over the centuries. Other peoples—Gentiles—did not have
this Law. Oh, they may have had there own laws and codes of conduct, but they
were not the keepers of God’s Law; and so to the Jewish mind, they were
“Gentile sinners” and damned already.
Paul points out that keeping the rules, no matter how good
the rules may be, spares no one from damnation. Only placing one’s faith in
Jesus Christ will bring justification before God. Thus Jews and Gentiles
alike—all human beings—can have a saving relationship with God through Christ.
To any believer in Jesus Christ this should be Christianity
“The just shall live
by faith” (Ro 1:16; Hab 2:4 NKJV).
8 For it is by
grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is
the gift of God— 9 not by
works, so that no one can boast. (Eph 2:8-10 NIV)
This seems so obvious to me. This is biblical truth I have
been taught my whole life growing up in a Foursquare Gospel church. This is
truth understood by true followers of Christ Jesus. It perplexes me that I
still hear so many people—even church-going people—state the belief that, “If
you are good you go to heaven, and if you are bad you go to hell.”
Yes, evil does evil deeds and evil will not go unpunished.
Righteousness follows God’s rules and does good deeds, and thank God for those
who behave righteously. But our justification before God has no dependence upon
our good behavior, but solely upon the goodness of Christ and our faith in Him.
Lord, this is the simple Gospel message. Help me to
communicate it effectively to others, both within and without the Church.
6 For the Lord
your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations
but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule
over you. (Deut 15:6 NIV)
This is a lesson in the responsibility for prosperity. God
does not bless us just so that we alone may enjoy the blessing; He blesses us
that we may in turn be a blessing to others.
I believe this is one of the reasons for God’s continued
blessings upon the United
States. We are the most prosperous nation on
earth today. We, as a nation, give generous aid to other nations, many of whom
seem ungrateful, but we still help them. We take our responsibility to lead in
the world without dominating. Yet, we will not allow other nations to dictate
Also, in light of this passage, dare I pose the question: Is
the fact of our ever looming national debt a sign that God’s hand of blessing
is lifting away from our nation? Lending to others is only half of the equation
will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.”
We must ever continue to be good as a nation, perpetuating
good godly principles. May the USA
never lose sight of that greater purpose lest our prosperity and world position
Lord, watch over, guide and protect our nation. May we be
used by You for Your purposes. May we ever revere You and the values You have
commanded. May we thus continue to enjoy the prosperity enjoyed from Your hand.
In Jesus’ name. Amen. -AP
19 Take heed
to yourself that you do not forsake the Levite…(Deuteronomy 12:19 NKJV)
The Levites were the priests. They were the ministers—the
pastors. Because of God’s calling to the
positions they held, they did not have land of their own. They served full-time
as ministers to the people and had no means to provide for themselves. Their
sustenance was to be provided by the people they served. The people were
admonished to make sure their ministers were well provided for. There were twelve
tribes of Israel.
The tribe of the Levites was set aside to serve in the priesthood. That means
that there was roughly one minister for every eleven people. If the people
faithfully gave a tenth of their income, that would be just enough to provide
for the Levites and care for the tabernacle or temple.
The same principle holds true today. It is the people’s
responsibility before God to make sure their pastors maintain a good standard
of living. Under these provisions it is absolutely necessary that everyone,
without exception, bring their tithes (10%) to present to the Lord. If they do
not, their ministers will necessarily have to live below the average standard
of living of the people they serve.
Lord, even though I am called to serve as a minister, albeit
currently semi-retired, I know this principle applies to me too. I joyfully
bring my tithes to You. Yet, as a minister, help me to teach this truth to
others without seeming to be self-serving.
For Your sake and for the blessing of Your people. Amen. -AP
33 At the
sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour
Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which
means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:33-34
Jesus fully trusted and was completely obedient to His
Father, even to His darkest hour when it seemed He was forsaken.
There are times, even in a Christian’s life, when our God
seems to be cut off; when it may seem He has forsaken us. If Jesus went through
this, what makes me think I won’t. The encouraging thing for me, however, is
that since Jesus experienced this, I know I can stand firm in my trust and
obedience to God NO MATTER WHAT. He is my strength even when I can’t perceive
In C.S. Lewis’ classic book The Screwtape Letters the Senior Demon, Screwtape writes to his
up-and-coming nephew, a Junior Tempter named Wormwood about how this very
resolve in humans thwarts their intentions for evil:
“Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no
longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s (God’s) will, looks
round upon a universe from which every trace of Him (God) seems to have
vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
My God, may my trust in You never waver. May I be obedient
to You even when I do not understand; even unto death. Through Christ.
Today’s Bible Reading:
Deuteronomy 5-6, Psalm 43, Mark 14
SCRIPTURE: Mark 14:38
and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”(Mark 14:38 NKJV)
Previous to Jesus speaking these words, He had informed His
disciples that one of them would betray Him.
Their first response was for each of them to wonder if they could
possibly be the one (vv. 18-19). A
little later that evening Jesus told them that they all would stumble and flee
Him. Their response to this was that
they would all stand by Him and die with Him (vv. 27-31). He then went to the Garden of Gethsemane
and asked them to watch and pray, but they all fell asleep (vv. 32-41).
I say I love the Lord and will serve Him no matter
what. I say I will stand up for and even
die for my faith in Him. Yet, deep
inside, I wonder, like the disciples, could I possibly betray or deny Him to
save my own flesh? My spirit is indeed
willing, but my flesh is weak. How can I
combat the weakness of my flesh? Jesus
says the way to do that—to keep the spirit stronger than the flesh—is to “watch
and pray” (v. 38). I must not be oblivious
to what is going on around me (sleeping); I must be alert (awake) and pray.
Lord, I am willing.
Help me in my weakness.
In the strength and power of Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.