Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Perseverance

PERSEVERANCE
Philippians 4:12-14: “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

            Perseverance [per-se-VER-ans] means stubborn determination.  Perseverance requires persistent (tireless) dedication.  George Washington, USA’s first president, first proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving in October, 1621. 

            The dictionary could post a picture of Sarah Josepha Hale beside the word “perseverance.”  It was only because Sarah wrote letters for 40 years to newspapers and magazines that USA sets aside one day of thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving has since become a cherished National holiday in the USA.

            But that didn’t happen until 56 years later in 1677!   
  
            Thanks to Sarah’s dogged perseverance, all 13 unruly colonies—that grew to 50 states—observe one day each year for Thanksgiving. 

            Thanks to Jesus who also perseveres.

            The word lost describes someone who has not yet accepted Jesus Christ as Savior.  As long as they persevere as “lost,” they remain separated from God.  Just like the 13 colonies, “lost” individuals refuse to come to Christ.  But Jesus perseveres.  Jesus went to Jericho one day, determined to “reach forward to what lay ahead”, as apostle Paul wrote in the opening Scripture.

            Jesus was searching for Zacchaeus, who was lost. 
 
            Zacchaeus was a hated tax collector.  But his occupation didn’t make him “lost”.  The story in Luke became a children’s song that I hum as I write.  “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he.”  (Check out the lesson linked below for details about Zacchaeus).
   
            Why Did God Run? was the last devotion.  That dad represents our heavenly Father.  He demonstrates perseverance to kids who’re “dead” and then became “alive” once again.  In other words, all people are “lost” until they return home into our Father’s embrace.  Dad is overjoyed when the “lost” become “found.”  All heaven celebrates when kids come home!  “He climbed into a sycamore tree for he wanted the Lord to see.”

            Everyone is born with a nature bent away from God (Romans 5:12).  Paul wrote in Ephesians in 2:1, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.”  “Lost” refers to people’s moral and spiritual condition separating them from the abundant life that Jesus brings.
 
            “And as the Savior passed that way, He looked up in the tree.”  
                                                       

Take Home Nugget

            “He said, ‘Zacchaeus come down from there!  I’m going to your house today. I’m going to your house today!’”

            Whoever is lost today is who Jesus is pursuing to save.  Jesus’ followers are also persistent in reaching “lost” souls and inviting them to Jesus’ house! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Adapted from “The First Thanksgiving: A Story of Persistence” by Kelly McFadden.

And

“Who Are the Lost?” by Charles F. Stanley.  November’s devotional booklet published by In Touch Ministry.  November 7, 2017.  Georgia. 


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Friday, November 17, 2017

Why Did God Run?

WHY DID GOD RUN?
    
Part three of three in Qualification for Blessings series

Luke 15:22:  “But the Father said to his servants, ’Quick! Bring me the best robe and put it on him.  Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.’”

            “Waah!  I don’t deserve to be your daughter!” I cried myself to sleep.  Whatever punishment my dad decided would be okay with me.

            The Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32 pictures a father who is most understanding.   Any child would like being raised by him!  His two sons were as different as siblings can be.  The older son was responsible and obedient.  The younger son was…well … us. 

            Or, me (!)

            Jesus was telling parables that He hoped would teach eternal truths.

            The younger son wanted to leave home.  So, dad split his wealth and gave the younger his portion of the inheritance.  The older son watched baby brother pack up his stuff and load a camel with all he owned.  “Don’t take what’s mine!” the older brother scolded.

            “All this stuff is MINE!” little brother insisted.  All packed up, baby son was ready to go.  “Bye!” he yelled to them who were left behind.

            “Don’t blow your half of our inheritance!” the older brother warned.  “When it’s gone, that’s all!”

            “Be careful, son.”  Dad wished his son well, “You’re always welcome at home!”

            The boy partied in a faraway land.  When the money was gone, he began working on a pig farm.  He was so jealous of the pigs chomping corn cobs that he decided to go home.  Dad would at least give me good food to eat, he figured.
 
            Check out the lesson linked below for how dad and the older brother reacted to baby brother’s return home.

Take Home Nugget

            Maybe you too, have messed up big time.  Jesus showed us while on earth that God is NEVER in a hurry.  So when He runs, that’s a BIG DEAL!  Papa only runs to welcome His kids home.  He runs to signal that He’s not angry.  He won’t condemn you.  He won’t whip you.  Papa tolerated Jesus’ whipping.  Enough! 

            Jesus was whipped for your and my sins.  Jesus’ blood bought us Dad’s forgiveness when Jesus died on the cross.  Now, we who believe that are welcomed as children of the Most High God—the exact position we lost when Adam sinned.

            Dad runs to bring backsliders a robe to wear—the robe of righteousness.  He also puts His ring on our finger (authority to ask Him whatever we need); Why?  So that our asking can bring His will from heaven to earth.

Thank You Abba, for loving us enough that the sandals assure us to whom we belong as Your precious children! Ephesians 1:18

 Adapted from “When God Ran” by Joseph Prince.  www.JosephPrince.org.  November 2, 2017.
J.D. Griffith

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Our Qualification

OUR QUALIFICATION   
Part two of three in Qualification for Blessings series

Matthew 5:17:  “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Romans 6:14: “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”

2 Corinthians 1:19-20a:  “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me [Paul] and Silas and Timothy, was not a ‘Yes’ and ’No’ but in Him it has always been ‘Yes.’  For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.”

            No one qualifies for God’s blessings because no one—except Jesus—is sinless.  Yet, faith in Jesus is our qualification for blessings.  In fact, Papa promises Believers-in-Christ that “blessings shall come upon you and accompany you” (Deuteronomy 28:2a)!
            See the lesson linked below for a list of these blessings.

            Deuteronomy 28:2b requires that these blessings come “IF you obey the LORD your God.”  No person can do that on mere human strength.  But we CAN in Christ who is our qualification for blessings.  Let’s check out various passages taken from Romans chapter 5:

             5:12-13a says, “Just as sin entered the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all have sinned—for before the law was given, sin was in the world.”

            5:15, 16b says, “But the gift is not like the trespass.  For if many died by the trespass of one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came from the grace of one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! … but the gift followed may trespasses and brought justification.”  (Jus-tif-a-KA-shon means defense, validation, or excuse). 

            5:17-18 says, “For if, by the trespass of one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision and grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through one man, Jesus Christ. … Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.”

Take Home Nugget 

            The single common thread woven through these passages is Jesus’ righteousness.  2 Corinthians 5:17 and 21 say, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! … God made Him who had no sin be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowmen has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8

 Adapted from “Jesus is Your Qualification for God’s Blessings” by Joseph Prince.  www.JosephPrince.org.  October 11, 2017.

J.D. Griffith


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Friday, November 10, 2017

Good Guilt--Regret

   
GOOD GUILT—REGRET 
  
Part one of three in Qualification for Blessings series

James 2:10:  “For whoever keeps the whole law yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”

            No one qualifies for God’s blessings because no one—except Jesus—is sinless.   Just because we’re descendants from the first couple who decided to break God’s one rule, we inherited the sin gene (Genesis 3:6-7).  Sin is the worst gene that God’s kids could’ve inherited.  

            For sure, eating the forbidden fruit did awaken the knowledge of good and evil.  As soon as Adam bit into the fruit, both their eyes were opened.  Their first knowledge was nakedness!  (Genesis 3:7).  Being naked is neither good nor evil.  However, evil handling of nakedness IS a sin.

            Our Father punished Adam and Eve because they disobeyed.  He tossed them out of Eden.  This prevented their eating the fruit from the tree of life which preserves life indefinitely.  How sad watching Adam and Eve’s banishment from Eden!  Angels flashing flaming swords ban anyone entering the garden (Genesis 3:22-24). 

            We understand the first couple’s regret.  They must have longed for that perfect place Papa made for them to play and rule.  Ruling was always Abba’s purpose to make people in His image (Genesis 1:27).  Check out the lesson linked below for exciting Scripture that predicts people’s reign under Jesus’ Lordship.

            The couple’s guilt of disobedience went beyond regret—it was sealed as permanent.  Adam knew better!  Adam was held accountable to God because Papa laid out the rules directly (Genesis 2:16-17), before Eve was created (Genesis 2:18, 21-22). 

            Adam overheard Genesis 3:4-5, “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good from evil.”

            Adam should have butted in with, “NO!”  Backing the Father, “Dad said that we may NOT eat from this tree!”

            Truthfully, both the man and woman WANTED to bite into the fruit because they wanted to be like God.  If they could be like God, they wouldn’t NEED God.  They both wanted that independence and human knowledge.

            They both got what they deserved.

Take Home Nugget 

            Papa understands that we can’t help but pass on sin.  So, people are given an infinite number of do-overs while on earth.  Thank God for our consciences that blare our guilt of sin so that we may correct mistakes before we regret them!

Holy Papa, Forgive me when I get so full of my own intellect that I “forget” to pray my thanks to you!  I do need you, my God, my Creator who blesses me with a new day and the gifts of breathing and living!  Amen. 

 Adapted from “Jesus is Your Qualification for God’s Blessings” by Joseph Prince.  www.JosephPrince.org.  October 11, 2017.
J.D. Griffith


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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ultimate Unfriend

ULTIMATE UNFRIEND  

Matthew 25:11-13:  “Later the others also came.  ‘Sir!’ Sir!’ they said.  ‘Open the door for us!’
“But He replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’  Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour’ [when Christ returns for His church].”

            The key word is “watch.”  Watch pivots to “ready.”

            Twelve-year-old Cassie sighed after reading what her “friend” posted.

            “Cassie, I’m tired of pretending to be nice to Peggy.  If I want to kick and scream at her, I will!”

            Cassie tried to patch their ragged relationship by typing, “I’m sorry, Claire.  Please, try to be polite to Peggy.  She doesn’t even know Ethan!”

            Cassie hit “SEND.”

            Cassie waited staring at the screen of her laptop.  She checked her Internet access.  As other emails arrived, she guessed that Claire had just “unfriended” her on Facebook.

             Is there any more rude way to be slapped across your face than to be unfriended?

            Yes. 

            Believers-in-Christ eagerly await His return to earth.  He is getting ready to collect His bride [His believers, His church] and take us with Him to heaven.  The thing is that no one knows when He’s due to arrive.  So we wait.  We wait and “watch”, just like Jesus advises in the opening Scripture.

            Check out the lesson linked below for more about Jesus’ coming. 

            While watching for Jesus, we’d better be getting ready for His arrival.  Watch and wait is NOT passive.  Watch and wait is active.  Each day can either be filled with earthly distractions or managed wisely.  Time wisely spent includes intervals with the LORD each day.  Only His Word can refresh and guide us victoriously through one day and into another. 

 Only prayer can build a one-on-one relationship between God and His kids.  

Take Home Nugget 

            The opening Scripture ends one of Jesus’ parables where Matthew writes about ten virgins in chapter 25, verses 1-13.  Ten ladies waited for the bridegroom to arrive, each with lamps ready to lead the nighttime procession.  But while five hearts were centered on Christ, the other five who were self-centered, had no oil.  They all watched for Him, but half were not ready when He arrived.  
   
            The Holy Spirit Biblically represents one’s “oil.”  He might lead us into sincere repentance of sins—paving a clear path to God’s throne.  God’s Spirit reminds us of relevant Gospel passages that calm us when we’re freaking out. 

            However we watch and prepare to be ready, let’s practice now.  Tomorrow may be too late!  No one wants to be publically unfriended by a locked door barring our entrance.

Heavenly Father, please keep me watching for Jesus, preparing my heart for His return.  I pray in His Name to be gathered as His bride, Amen.

 Adapted from “Get Your Oil Now” by Pastor Mark Jeske.  www.TimeOfGrace.org.  October 11, 2017.
J.D. Griffith


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Friday, November 3, 2017

Profit-Loss

PROFIT-LOSS 
  
Philippians 3:7-8:  “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my LORD, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”
“I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”—Martin Luther

            The angel Michael won the war against the devil and his angels and Martin Luther’s 95 Theses reformed the church in the last devotion.  Today, we’re learning truths from a different dynamic duel of St. Paul and Martin Luther.  Instead of thanking Martin for nailing the 95 Theses to the church door that reformed Christian background on forgiveness of sin today, we’re learning that losing everything that is not Christ realigns our priorities.
            The people who lost everything after hurricane Maria found what is important.  Puerto Rico is a U.S. island off the coast of Florida.  She slammed high winds and torrential rain on the island that plummeted all power lines to the ground.
            The island was without power for two months awaiting the grid’s rebuilding.  In the meantime, people were sickened by drinking runoff stream water.  Where were the residents sheltered?  Was anyone working and how were they paid?
            Sigh.
            The thing is, Believers-in-Christ keep Him first in life’s priority. 
            Christ is our rock.  We build upon the rock of Christ.  When “the rain came down, the streams rose, and winds blew and beat against the house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundations on the rock,” many clung to Christ.  Jesus taught rock foundation in Matthew 7:25.
            But people in Puerto Rico lost everything.
            Yet, Believers in Puerto Rico never lost faith.  Trusting Christ is EVERYTHING!  The things that were lost was stuff.  Stuff can be replaced.  Few people died in the hurricane.  As the extended disaster claimed more lives, the island began ragged breathing.  Power restored resources needed to handle the loss. 
            Faith is what St. Paul was teaching the Philippians in the opening Scripture.  (See the lesson linked below that shows Paul’s credentials that he instantly abandoned to grab ahold of Christ).  That is the faith that insisted Martin Luther place everything in Christ’s hands.   
Take Home Nugget 
            Heroes we learn about in the Bible’s Old Testament are called saints.  The dynamic duel we learn about today are called saints.  The Believer reading this devotion is called a saint. 
November 1st celebrated ALL SAINTS DAY!
Teach me, Holy Father, to see myself as Your beloved child in Christ!  Empower me to realign my priorities as Your saint while living on earth.  Amen. 
 Adapted from “I have nothing; I have everything” by Pastor Mark Jeske.  www.TimeOfGrace.org.  September 24, 2017.
J.D. Griffith


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