Archives For Devotions

Perception versus reality is often a difficult battle for a Christian. For this world is not my home, I’m just passing through. Paul speaks of this in 2 Corinthians 6 where he talks of persecution versus the reality of situation.

We are treated

as impostors, and yet are true;

as unknown, and yet well known;

as dying, and behold, we live;

as punished, and yet not killed;

as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;

as poor, yet making many rich;

as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

2 Corinthians 6:8b-10

We are treated as impostors in this world, and yet we have the truth. Help them to know the truth, and the truth will set them free. As Paul says later on in the chapter, “widen your hearts” that we who are poor can make others rich.

I am learning a lot about Christian liberty lately from my study in I Corinthians. I have complied a few thoughts, verses, and lyrics that have got me thinking over the past few weeks. Hope they will get you thinking as well.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary speaking of I Corinthians 10:23-33

Note: The welfare of others, as well as our own convenience, must be consulted in many things we do, if we would do them well.


II. He tells them that what was sold in the shambles they might eat without asking questions. The priest’s share of heathen sacrifices was thus frequently offered for sale, after it had been offered in the temple. Now the apostle tells them they need not be so scrupulous as to ask the butcher in the market whether the meat he sold had been offered to an idol? It was there sold as common food, and as such might be bought and used; for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof (v. 26), and the fruit and products of the earth were designed by him, the great proprietor, for the use and subsistence of mankind, and more especially of his own children and servants. Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer, 1 Tim. 4:4, 5. To the pure all things are pure, Tit. 1:15. Note, Though it is sinful to use any food in an idolatrous manner, it is no sin, after such abuse, to apply it, in a holy manner, to its common use.

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2263). Peabody: Hendrickson.

I Cor. 10:19,20 — “What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God.”

 

 

Why Does He Save Us?

jordantmoody —  October 23, 2014 — Leave a comment

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses made us alive together with Christ– by Grace you have been saved-– and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Eph. 2:4-6

So God…

  1. Loved us
  2. Saved us
  3. Raised us

But why?

Have you ever thought about that?

Why did God go through all the trouble to stick with us good for nothing mess-ups?! Well, the answer is found in verse 7 and also in Psalm 67:2

WHY:

So that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  Ephesians 2:7

that your way may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations. Psalm 67:2

The answer isn’t as fuzzy feely as you might have hoped.

  1. God saved us to promote his own grace and kindness.
  2. God saved us to show his saving power to everyone everywhere.
  3. God saved us to glorify himself.

At first, I had a hard time coming to grips with this megalomaniac I was reading about here. But it all started to make sense to me through the following illustration that just popped into my brain the other day.

It’s the 4th quarter, it’s the last 10 seconds, it’s the last shot to win the game. Who do you want taking that shot? I would want my best player taking that shot. I would want the best player in the world taking that shot.

It’s a penalty kick in the 93rd minute of the game. It’s tied 1-1. You make this penalty kick and you win the game. Who do you want taking that kick? The best player, obviously.

For me this whole idea becomes very clear to me when I take into account my inabilities and God’s supreme abilities. God is the best ever.(period) There is nothing else like him. He calls himself I AM THAT I AM in order to insure our awe (pick gaping jaw off of ground) at his infinite state of being. He was there before the foundation of the world. He is. We are. He is the Uncaused Cause. We only exist because he exists. The very notion of existence exists because he exists. Okay. You get the point.

It’s the end of time. You only got one shot at death. Jesus steps up to the plate.

He’s pinch hitting for me. Jesus is up to bat for me.

So when we win. (Revelation says so) I’m glad He gets the glory.

Because He deserves it. He hit the home-run I would never have been able to hit.

Thank-you Jesus.

All glory and honor to your name.

Depression creeps into the life of a believer knowingly and more often than not, unknowingly. But for me, depression seems to drive its way into my heart and park its pity party right at the center of my life. I seem unable to shake the doubts of my in abilities coupled with my seemingly insignificance all the while feeling helplessly hopeless completely inept at succeeding in this life. But whenever I am struggling with these “feelings” I am drawn to the Word of God. It is here that I find rest from my doubts and emotions. It is here in the pages of scripture that I feel God is speaking to me because he actually cares about me. It is here I find that He wants what is best for my life even though it may not seem likely at this moment. He leads me through still waters rejuvenating my soul. Lately, those still waters funneled me towards the pages of 2 Timothy where I found verses 6 and 7 particularly empowering.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:6,7

Here I can find true rest. I know God has called me to preach His word and to serve Him with my life but when and where this happens is completely up to Him. But I have not been ordained with the spirit of uncertainty, doubt, or fear but rather with the spirit of POWER, LOVE, and SELF-CONTROL. Uncertainty of the future is a type of fear that often paralyzes my actions for Him. I am waiting to find out what it is He has for my life and yet find myself completely at His mercy once again. But then I remember His word. I shall not fear what man can do unto me and I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, plans to guide you and not to harm you(Jordan Paraphrase Version). I have the power of the Spirit of God that enables me to love others and to maintain control over myself in circumstances out of my control. It is here that God says, before you were a dying ember but now you are a fiery furnace. Your dying embers were being put out through depression stoked by fear but now your embers are glowing hot with flames fueled by the Power of God found only through His Word which allows me to live sober-minded in this world in order to love the people of this world. God fans our dying embers into a flame so bright that its light pierces the darkness that surrounds it.

Ephesians1:18,19

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Check out this fascinating quote explaining the meaning of Paul’s unique phrase the “eyes of your heart.” It is more than just a misjudging of the location of one’s ocular devices. It is Paul describing the importance of the Holy Spirit’s regenerating work in our hearts allowing us to see the truth.

Paul uses a strange construction here: the eyes of your heart may be enlightened. Usually we think of the eyes as being in our head, and we connect the head with the brain and the brain with the mind. Hence we say that we understand a particular teaching with the mind. But the apostle refers to the eyes of the heart. What does he mean?
He means that by nature we are closed to the things of God. He does not mean that we cannot discuss them nor have intellectual debates about them. But the heart in New Testament terms refers to the central disposition, inclination, bent, or proclivity of the human soul. In simple terms, the bias. Everybody has a bias and prejudices. The word ‘prejudice’ is usually a pejorative term, but what it literally means is to prejudge certain things, to have a standpoint, a viewpoint.
Our natural prejudgment of reality is against God. To receive the truth of God requires that our ‘anti’ bias be changed. The key work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration is not giving new knowledge to the brain but changing the disposition of the heart. Before the Spirit turns that heart of stone into a heart of flesh, we have no desire for the things of God. We may desire the blessings that only God can give us, but we have no affection for the things of God. At the moment of regeneration, the eyes of the heart are opened somewhat, but this is just the beginning. The whole Christian life involves an unfolding and enlarging of the heart’s openness to the things of God. There are concepts, attitudes, and values in my life at present that do not please God, for there will be stony parts to my heart as long as sin abides within me. Sin clouds my thinking, my will, my desires, my affections. There will always be parts of me that need to be opened more and more to let the fullness of God’s truth dwell in me. — The Purpose of God: Ephesians

2 Corinthians 5:21

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

I have been reading 2 Corinthians in my devotions and sometimes verses like this just smack me across the face.

Take a look at what the ESV Study Bible note has to say on this verse: (remember this is all off of one verse)

5:21 This verse is one of the most important in all of Scripture for understanding the meaning of atonement and justification.

Here we see the one who knew no sin is Jesus Christ (v.20) and that he (God) made him(Christ) to be sin (Gk. harmartia, “sin”). This means that God the Father made Christ to be regarded and treated as “sin” even though Christ himself never sinned (Heb. 4:15; cf. Gal. 3:13). Further we see that God did this for our sake– that is, God regarded and treated “our” sin (the sin of all who would believe in Christ) as if our sin belonged not to us but to Christ himself. Thus Christ “died for all” (2 Cor. 5:14) and, as Peter wrote, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (I Pet. 2:24). In becoming sin “for our sake,” Christ became our substitute, thereby bore the wrath of God (the punishment that we deserve in our place (“for our sake”). Thus the technical term for this foundational  doctrine of the Christian faith is the substitutionary atonement– that Christ has provided the atoning sacrifice as “our substitute, for the sins of all who believe (cf. Rom. 3:23-25).

The background for this is Isaiah 53 from the Greek (Septuagint) translation of the Hebrew OT, which includes the most lengthy and detailed OT prophecy of Christ’s death and which contains numerous parallels to 2 Cor. 5:21. Isaiah’s prophecy specifically uses the Greek word for “sin” (Gk. hamartia) five times (as indicated below in bold font)

“surely he has born our GRIEFS; He was crushed by our INIQUITIES; the Lord has laid on him the INIQUITY of us all; he shall bear their INIQUITIES; he bore the SIN of many” (Isa. 53:5-12)

In a precise fulfillment of this prophecy, Christ became “sin” for those who believe in him, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

I cannot get over this phrase from Acts 17:6

6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also,

7 and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”

What kind of effects are you having on the world around you?

I think our culture tries to affect the world in ways that are ultimately ineffective. We try to solve people’s problems through means that sound good and make us look good but don’t solve the problem. We don’t turn anything upside down but rather we spin it around a little.

Take for instance: Michelle Obama’s new upcoming rap album “Songs for a Healthier America.” Yes, the first lady will be producing a rap album to clean kids brains from all the McDonald’s rap albums and catchy slogans by instilling values based on broccoli and carrots. Wait? Fast Food restaurants and chip companies don’t produce rap albums? Hmmmm… Maybe they should spend time counter acting the rap culture. Objectify women and do what you want to do because who cares it’s your life: mo money, mo hoe’s, mo cars, mo guns and mo UNHEALTHY BIG MAC BURGERS! Ok… No self-respecting rapper would ever think about promoting something that’s dangerous for American teenagers.

See the problem? You can try all you want without God and without his plan but to no effect.

A. Rap. Album. For. A. Healthier America. With. Your. Tax. Money.

Ok enough jokes… The problem is… without God, we are nothing.

We try to affect the world in a way that foolishly comes up short.

The only way we can affectively turn the world upside down is through the power of the Holy Spirit. The apostles were given boldness to preach the gospel even to the point of death. But that same power/boldness/grace that the apostles had and helped spread the early church like a wild fire is the same power inside of each one of us. So when you want to CHANGE THE WORLD or when you want to ACTUALLY TURN IT UPSIDE DOWN. Don’t just TRY TO BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE

but rather seek the power you want to see! 

Seek the Holy Spirit through prayer and guidance in the Word of God to find the power to change the world for the glory of God.

I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezek. 36:26–27)

This is a cataclysmic event. “Getting saved” is not about praying a prayer and then continuing to live our lives as though nothing happened. No, when God enters our lives, we are changed from the inside out.
— from Multiply

Float by Faith

jordantmoody —  August 6, 2013 — Leave a comment

These are some of the things I have been struggling with. I have been trying to find God’s will for my life and yet at the same time struggling to find it for myself. I think sometimes if I would just let go and let God I would be better off.

From the Inside Out

Years ago in my hometown, when the community pool was built, Dad often took my brother and me swimming.  I marveled at the way my father could slice the water with a smooth dive, roll over on his back, and float.  Without even moving his arms and legs, he could remain on top of the water.  Amazing!

When I tried it, I sank–immediately.

“Daddy!  Show me how to float!” I cried.

First, he helped me to lie flat-out on top of the water.  His hand gently supported the middle of my back.  And then Dad said the strangest thing.

“Now, relax.”

What?!  Every fiber of my being was tense.  I just knew that if I relaxed, my nose would instantly fill up with heavily chlorinated water.

But I trusted Dad.  He wouldn’t trick me into a catastrophe.  So I tried to relax.

Easier said than done.  Try as I…

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Evidence of Salvation

jordantmoody —  August 6, 2013 — 2 Comments

I have been reading a bit of the Articles and Resources in the back appendix of the ESV Study Bible. If you have one and haven’t looked in the back of your Bible for the “extras” then I encourage you to do so.

Biblical Doctrine: An Overview (ESV Study Bible page 2531)

God uses vastly different circumstances and experiences to bring people to himself. As C.H. Spurgeon said,

“God’s spirit calls men to Jesus in diverse ways. Some are drawn so gently that they scarce know when the drawing began, and others are so suddenly affected that their conversion stands out with noonday clearness.”

The best evidence of true salvation is not having raised a hand or prayed a prayer, or having been baptized or christened. Instead, the true test off an authentic work of God in one’s life is sanctification as God continues the moral transformation he began in regeneration. This transformation will continue until the redeemed person is resurrected and made completely holy in heaven (glorification; cf. Rom. 8:28-30; Phil.1:6; I John 3:2)