Sunday Reflection: A Passionate Demonstration

This is the only time when we see Jesus display any type of aggressive behavior. This was done to demonstrate how serious an offensive was occurring against God by those in the synagogue. It’s important to note that Jesus acted in righteous anger, and He waited upon the directive of the Holy Spirit before doing so. It is important not to use this scripture as an excuse to give into our temperaments or unrighteous anger.

MARCH 14, 2021 SUNDAY

When the Lord overturned tables in the temple court (Matt. 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18), He drove out moneychangers along with people buying and selling goods. By all accounts, this was a passionate demonstration. Jesus purposefully expressed His convictions and took action. Remembering this is helpful as we think about attachment and detachment—it highlights that being passionate about something can be totally different from a passion that draws us away from God.

Imagine how often Jesus passed those tables and chose to do nothing until it was the right time to act. But pausing didn’t mean He was indifferent. His decision to act when He did—not sooner or later—came out of His obedience to the Father and from His love and concern for the world. Freedom results from confronting and relinquishing unhealthy attachments. But we also should be motivated by love and consideration for the world, without getting caught up in it.

Think about it

• Do you relate to the way Jesus took action in the temple courts? Why or why not?

• When you see an unhealthy attachment in your life, do you tend to respond rashly or to consider the situation prayerfully?

Daily Devotions

Bearing One Another’s Burdens

We’ve all needed someone to talk to before. We’ve all needed help in some form or fashion. We should be able to depend on fellow believers to help us through troublesome times, and we should likewise be willing to help our brothers and sisters when they’re going through trials and tribulations. Rather than casting stones or judgement, reach out to a hurting fellow believer in kindness and empathy as Jesus would have done.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

For every man shall bear his own burden.

Galatians 6:1-5

FEBRUARY 08, 2021 MONDAY

At some point, all of us struggle under the weight of a difficult situation. It might be a sin we cannot overcome, a trial that just doesn’t let up, or a need that remains unmet. However, there’s no need to struggle through it alone, because we have the support of fellow believers as we bear one another’s burdens.

There is an example of this in the book of Acts. Christians of the early church pooled their resources to help meet the material and financial needs of believers who were in poverty (Acts 4:32-35). Paul also displays this concern for others’ welfare in his various letters to growing churches. He knew it was his responsibility and privilege to strengthen them even though he was repeatedly undergoing his own hardships and afflictions.

We can’t wait until life is free from problems before reaching out to others—that day may never come. Though every one of us has his or her own needs, it’s important to remember we can do all things through Christ’s strength. And that includes sharing someone else’s burden.

When we’re willing to wade into a fellow believer’s troubles to help, that person is blessed, and we’re fulfilling the Lord’s command to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Daily Devotions

God’s Power Working in Us

Even after we’ve accepted Jesus Christ, we’ll struggle with sin because we still live in the flesh. Only when we get our glorified bodies will all sin go away from us. However, when we keep our faith in Christ and what He did for us at the Cross, we give the Holy Spirit latitude to work without our lives and help us to not sin.

This doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll never sin again—because we will. Can you really stop every negative thought from entering your mind? No. But when you do sin, you can repent. (This doesn’t mean this gives us a free pass to sin as much as we want, thinking, “I’ll just ask for forgiveness later.”)

We’re still to try our best to live righteously, but even our best is as filthy rags before the Father (“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” – Isaiah 64:6), which is why we must have the blood of Jesus Christ to atone for our sins.

However, instead of getting caught up in rules and the laws of the Old Testament, we’re to live by the New Covenant, which is grace. When you constantly keep your eyes on the Cross, you’ll obey the commandments as a loving response to our Savior, and you’ll actually hold to an even higher standard, such as forgiving others who’ve wronged you and exhibiting the same mercy our Savior does.

We’re all a work in progress, and it might take time for the Holy Spirit to mold us into who He wants us to be. Jesus serves as our mediator, asking the father for grace and mercy when we fail. None of us can keep the law flawlessly. If we could, there would have been no need for Jesus to come. He is the only one who ever lived perfectly. It is only with the help of the Holy Spirit that we can truly live righteously and experience spiritual success.

And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;

Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:

How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?

For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.

11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:

13 And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:

14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.

15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.

16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 3:4-18 KJV

FEBRUARY 01, 2021 MONDAY

It’s easy to become discouraged in the Christian life because of our struggle with sin. Even though we want to walk obediently before the Lord, we often find ourselves thinking sinful thoughts, adopting worldly attitudes, speaking rashly, and acting in ways that are anything but Christlike.

Whenever you feel defeated, remember this: As believers, we have all the power needed to live as God desires, because He has given us His Holy Spirit (John 14:17). So, although you may never achieve success as the world measures it, God’s Spirit is always working towards your spiritual success by …

Illuminating your mind to know the truth. Then you can grow in the knowledge of God and His Word (1 Corinthians 2:12).

Transforming your character. He produces His spiritual fruit within you, making you more like Christ (Gal. 5:22-23).

Aligning your desires with God’s will. He works to help you yearn for the things God wants (Phil. 2:12-13).

Strengthening you. He enables you both to endure hardship and to serve God (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).

Human strength and willpower fall short, but the Lord promises to complete the good work He began in us. And He will not fail.

Daily Devotions

Handling God’s Word Accurately

Just like with any other book, the Bible must be read in the right context. It can be easy to pick one scripture and apply it wrongly. Usually, if you’ll read the surrounding scriptures or chapters, you’ll be able to able to discern the true meaning of a verse—what it’s talking about, the context it’s used in. Maybe you have trouble understanding the Bible in general. I think we all do from time to time, but it’s important that we don’t give up. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s Word to you. You’ll be amazed just how much He’ll reveal to you.

JANUARY 29, 2021 FRIDAY

The Bible is an amazing book because it is God’s words given to mankind in written form. Yet many people misinterpret it. Instead of diligently studying Scripture to discover what God means and how He wants us to live, some people search the Bible to find passages to support their preconceived ideas or preferred lifestyles.

Today’s passage was written to a young pastor named Timothy. Of all the duties a pastor has, the central one is to present the Word of God accurately to the church. But that doesn’t mean nobody else can—knowing how to properly interpret the Bible is a skill every believer should develop. Consider the diligence of the Bereans, who were commended for examining Scripture regularly to gauge the truth of messages preached to them (Acts 17:10-11).

We aren’t free to interpret the Bible any way we want. The goal is to discover what God meant rather than to find a meaning we like. Remember, it’s our Father’s approval we are seeking—not our own or that of others. Therefore, let’s devote time to studying Scripture, use our resources to learn about context, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us to the truth.

Daily Devotions

Evangelism: Every Believer’s Calling

We each have our own amazing testimony. Let’s share them with one another. You never know how much your testimony could bless someone else or draw an unbeliever that much closer to believing.

1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

-Acts 1:1–8 KJV

JANUARY 28, 2021 THURSDAY

One Sunday a man approached me between services to share his story. He had been addicted to drugs and was leading a hopeless life when he heard a Scripture verse in a sermon. He said that one passage led him to place his trust in Jesus Christ.

We all have a story. Oftentimes the more we surrender to God, the more we see His hand in our life. And the more we watch Him work, the more we want to share with others what He has done.

The same was true of the disciples, who gathered around Jesus before His ascension. They heard His command to spread the gospel, make disciples, and baptize people from all nations. Surely this seemed like an overwhelming task for a handful of followers, but they obeyed. Their personal experiences with Christ undoubtedly motivated them to share the good news, and they also must have gained confidence from Jesus’ promise of His presence and power.

Are you passionately telling others about Christ? One of our highest callings is to tell others about Him. As was true for the early Christians, our own experience with the Savior is the most exciting and convincing story to tell.

Daily Devotions

What’s your testimony? You can read a bit of mine in Overcoming Struggles and Doubts About Your Salvation After a Loved One Passes.

Vision Without Boundaries

As followers of Christ, we all have a job to do. We’re to share the good news of Jesus and what He’s done for us with the world. I admit it. Sometimes I fall lax in this area. It can be too easy to get caught up with the world and daily life. Let’s endeavor to be beacons of light for God and let Him use us to accomplish His will. What greater purpose in life is there than that?

JANUARY 27, 2021 WEDNESDAY

Before ascending to heaven, Jesus told His followers to tell all nations about Him. However, many of us aren’t working to fulfill this Great Commission—at least not fervently and purposefully. What might be holding us back? 

Sometimes self-preserving barriers, such as fear, are the reason. For instance, if evangelizing means traveling overseas, we might be concerned about safety or how family and friends will react to our decision. We also might worry about how people will respond to our message.

Another hindrance might be conditional obedience—in other words, when we respond to God’s call but with our own modifications. Instead of being willing to serve where God wants for as long as He wants, we might think, That’s too much money or That’s too much time. We end up settling for something less than what God intended and fail to fully carry out our role in the Great Commission. 

There are many obstacles that can keep us from telling people the good news of the gospel. But when we’re willing to tear those barriers down, we’ll be amazed at what God can accomplish through us. Are you passionately sharing the gospel? If not, ask God to show you what stands in your way. Then pray for forgiveness, and refocus on your part in the mission Jesus gave us all.

Daily Devotions

Characteristics of Christians

Who else suffers from anxiety and stress? I know I do from time to time, but as Christians, we should be able to have peace. We’re supposed to rest in the peace that God gives us upon on salvation. Granted, that can sometimes be difficult to do—especially if your personality errs toward perfectionism and worry (like mine does).

As Dr. Stanely’s devotion for today says, though, we should find hope, joy and peace in everything that happens to us—even our difficulties, for they aren’t in vain. God works everything together for the good of those who love him.

When we feel ourselves beginning to stress or worry, let’s immediately stop and say a prayer turning it all over to Jesus. He is our friend and helper and doesn’t want us to carry those heavy burdens that hinder the working of the Holy Spirit.

JANUARY 26, 2021 TUESDAY

Today’s verse from Romans 15 is Paul’s concise description of how God can transform hearts and attitudes when people trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Instead of being filled with fear, anxiety, frustration, and stress, they can now—empowered by the Holy Spirit—be characterized by hope, joy, and peace.

Yet all too often those old emotions come back when circumstances are difficult. We walk around, weighed down with concerns even though Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30). As anxious thoughts and hopelessness take over, we not only suffer personally but also cease to be a light in the world because Christ is no longer reflected in our life. On the surface, in fact, we appear just as pressured, stressed, and fearful as those without Christ.

Although we don’t rejoice in the adversities themselves, we can find hope, joy, and peace in knowing that our difficulties aren’t in vain. God may be refining our character and melting away things that don’t reflect Christ. If we submit to whatever road the Lord has chosen for us, His Spirit will guide us and—slowly but surely—produce His fruit.

Daily Devotions

The Shepherd’s Care for His Sheep

Good morning, everyone! This is today’s daily devotional from InTouch Magazine. I don’t know about y’all, but I need these daily refreshes every morning.

JANUARY 25, 2021 MONDAY 25

What words come to mind when you think about a valley? The first part of Psalm 23 paints a picture of green pastures and abundant waters. It’s a restful, sheltered, and restorative place where every need is met and God’s care is evident. Some valleys, however, are inhospitable passages with deep shadows and restricted views of what lies ahead. In the “valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4), travelers feel vulnerable to all sorts of dangers.

For the Christian, green pastures and dark valleys are both a part of life. There are times when God’s abundant outward blessings are obvious, and we respond in joy and gratitude. But on other occasions, we’re surrounded by darkness, loss, and pain. Obscured by shadows, the path to the future is filled with fearful uncertainties—the way seems long, with no end in sight.

However, the same Shepherd who cares for us in the green pasture also remains by our side in the dismal valley and leads us though. No circumstance can keep His goodness and lovingkindness from us. We can count on His comfort and protection throughout life’s journey—until we safely reach our Father’s house. 

The Shepherd’s Care for His Sheep

R is for Risen

Easter Sunday is tomorrow, so “risen” seemed the appropriate word for our “R” day of the Blogging A to Z Challenge.

Easter is all about the day that Jesus Christ rose from the grave. He fulfilled the prophecy that He would conquer death. In doing so, he proved, once again, that He really was the Son of God, God incarnate.

Blogging A to Z Challenge: R

O is for Old Testament

The Old Testament makes up nearly three-fourths of the Bible. It’s a huge chunk of it. While Jesus’s time on earth is recorded in the New Testament, the Old Testament contains prophecies foretelling of the coming of Jesus. This is just one of the reasons why the Old Testament is important.

Some Christians believe that the Old Testament is irrelevant to today’s world. They think that all you have to worry about are the teachings in the New Testament. However, that is not necessarily the case for Jesus said:

Jesus said that he didn’t come to do away with the old teachings but to fulfill them.

This doesn’t mean that we still burn sacrifices to God or anything, for Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice that made it so that we wouldn’t have to do that anymore to get forgiveness of our sins. In short, while most Christians no longer practice all aspects of Mosaic law like “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” that doesn’t mean that the teachings in the Old Testament aren’t still important for us to study and apply to our daily lives.

The following link is an excellent resource I found explaining why the Old Testament is important. I encourage you to check it out if you have a moment.

10 Reasons the Old Testament is Important for Christians

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: O