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January 2023 Devotional Thoughts

January 1

Amos 7:7 “Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.”

A plumbline is a line with a plumb bob, or pointed heavy weight, attached which is used for the purpose of determining a vertical or straight upright line. Gravity makes the weight on the line hang directly beneath the point to which the other end of the line has been attached. The Lord showed Amos a plumbline, using it as a straight measuring line of Divine judgment for the people of Israel.

God’s Word is a plumbline of sorts. It determines what is straight, or acceptable to God, and what is not. There are many opinions in the world as to what is good, appropriate and acceptable and what is not. Likewise, there are many opinions as to what God might deem acceptable or unacceptable. However, the plumbline is His Word, the Bible.

“Is it wrong to do this…?” “Should I…?” “Do you think God would approve of…?” To answer these questions we must turn to God’s plumbline, His Holy Word. The problem with many in Amos’s day was that they were standing on the wrong side of God’s plumbline. They were crooked, off centered, out of balance and on the wrong side of the line as far as sin and righteousness was concerned. They were sort of like Belshazzar in the Book of Daniel, they had been weighed in God’s scales and had been found wanting. (Daniel 5:1-31)

The next time, child of God, you are trying to determine the will of God in a given matter, take out the “plumbline,” and let it measure your plans, your actions or your thoughts. You will never go wrong consulting the Bible for direction in life.

January 2

Obadiah 1:15 “For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.”

“…as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee.” This is a sobering thought. This was Obadiah’s warning to the “heathen,” or those who did not know, honor or even regard the Lord God. They needed to know that they would one day be judged by a Holy God, and that they would receive in that judgment according to what they had done and how they had lived.

This is actually not just the message of Obadiah, but the message of the entire Word of God. Paul wrote that the Lord will one day “render to every man according to their deeds….” (Romans 2:6) In fact, in what is considered to be the oldest book in the Bible, the Book of Job, we read, “For the work of a man shall he render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways.” (Job 34:11) Referring to the final judgment called the Great White Throne Judgment, Revelation 22:12 and 13 twice declares that unsaved humanity will be “judged every man according to their works.”

The Lord’s judgments are just and fair. However, as the psalmist said, “Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity….” (Psalms 32:2) The reason this can be said is that the Lord Jesus took our sins to His own body on the tree. (2 Peter 2:24) When sinners place faith in the Lord Jesus, His righteousness is imputed to them, and His righteousness becomes theirs. Blessed truth! In fact, this is the sinner’s only hope. Praise God for His grace shown to sinners through our Lord Jesus Christ!

January 3

Jonah 2:9 “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”

Jonah had been a backslidden and disobedient believer. Because of this, the Lord had prepared several things that worked to bring him back to Himself. This included the preparation of a whale to swallow the man of God. From the belly of that great fish, Jonah prayed the above prayer, and when he finished the prayer, the whale returned the wayward prophet to dry ground.

The prophet crying from the belly of the whale praised God for His goodness, thanking Him and offering the sacrifice of a grateful and adoring heart. He also promised to do those things that he had said he would do, “I will pay that that I have vowed.” But the greatest thing said of the prophet was, “Salvation is of the Lord.” How true! The Lord planned salvation in eternity past, before that salvation was even needed. He worked through the centuries to bring Him into the world that would purchase that salvation through His sacrificing Himself on Calvary’s Cross. And, in order to procure the sinner’s justification, the Lord Jesus conquered death in glorious resurrection. Even the personal application of that salvation is of the Lord, for it is His Holy Spirit that convicts, convinces and draws sinners to faith in Christ. If you are saved today, that salvation is a gift from the Almighty God that loves you. Salvation is truly “of the Lord.”

January 4

Micah 4:1 “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.”

One of Micah’s most familiar and famous prophesies was that of the birth place of the coming Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. See Micah 5:2. However, this prophecy given in the verse in our reading today is also of great importance. It is a prophecy of a coming day when the Lord Jesus will be recognized as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The phrase, “the mountain of the house of the Lord” speaks of the kingdom reign of Christ on this earth, a literal kingdom that will govern earth as promised to David in 2 Samuel 7. This promised kingdom is spoken of throughout Scripture, and is a glorious and wonderful day, a time that the world has really never known or enjoyed. Men have often longed for and dreamed of a utopia, never realizing those hopes, but in that era that lies ahead the world will know peace and prosperity as never before.

Our world has been torn with conflicts and wars from the beginning, and this enlightened and advanced era is no different. There are conflicts raging throughout the world, and the threat of greater conflicts is an undeniable reality. But there is coming day when implements of war will be turned into implements of agriculture, and peace will rule the day. What a blessed hope for an otherwise hopeless world!

You can be a part of that great era if you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. If you have trusted the Lord Jesus, praise Him for that salvation He died to make possible for you. If you do not know Christ, trust Him today! Call upon Him in faith believing in His death, burial and resurrection. The promise is to you, my friend, that “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) Call upon Him now and be saved! Amen!

January 5

Nahum 1:7 “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.”

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O, what a foretaste of glory Divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God. Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.” I love that song. It conveys a message similar to that which Nahum wrote in the above passage. Our Good God, our “strong hold in the day of trouble,” knows all that have trusted in Him. Paul said it this way, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, the Lord knoweth them that are his.” (2 Timothy 2:19)

“The Lord knoweth them that trust in him.” Lynn’s mother used to tell her when she was young, “I know you better than you know yourself.” She wasn’t really fond of hearing that, but it was true, but there was One Who knew her even better. The Lord knows you. He knows how you think and feel. He knows your “downsitting and uprising” and understands your thoughts far off. (Psalms 139:2) He knows your joys and your pains, you disappointments and sorrows. When you belong to the Lord, He knows you, and knows everything about you. And He wants to do that! Remember this, child of God, He knows your days of trouble, and He will be a “strong hold” in that day. You are special to Him, and He is most concerned with every aspect of your life. Just keep trusting in Him, and know that He is lovingly watching over you every moment of every day. Amen!

January 6

Habakkuk 3:19 “The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.”

The “hind” is a deer, one of the most surefooted of animals. Their feet can move most swiftly when needed, they can climb and they can jump unbelievably high. An adult deer can jump higher than seven feet. Habakkuk declared, “…he will make my feet like hind’s feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”

Believer’s have been placed upon a sure foundation, their feet have been paced upon the solid Rock, and their “goings” have been established. (See Psalms 40:2) The path upon which the follower of Christ has been led surely could be considered a high place. The old song spoke of the lowland drear, where the sinner was burdened with sin, but when we follow the Lord, He leads us on a higher plain.

“The Lord God is my strength….” That must have been a beautiful song when the worshippers blended their voices together praising God for His blessings on their lives. Believer, folks all around us are struggling through this live, walking on the low plain of sin and hopelessness. Not so for those who are following the Shepherd. Keep following Him on those “high places.” The air is fresher and the view so much more brilliant from there.

January 7

Zephaniah 2:3 “Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.”

Zephaniah’s message was primarily to Judah, but the truth of this passage is applicable to all. People seek after different things. Some seek fame and fortune. Some seek peace and quiet. Others are not satisfied with peace and quiet, but long after what the Bible calls riotous living. The truth expressed in our verse today is simple; “Seek ye the Lord…seek righteousness and meekness,” and the implied truth is that if you seek that from the Lord you will find what you are looking for. In His teaching on prayer, the Lord Jesus said, “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10)

Take time today to “seek the Lord.” Spend time with Him in prayer and meditation. Contemplate His goodness, and feed your soul upon His Word. Doing so will give you fulfillment that nothing else in the world can provide.

January 8

Haggai 1:5 “Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.”

The seventy years of captivity had ended and a remnant of Jews had returned to the land of promise. They had begun rebuilding the Temple, but because of opposition and a decree from an unsaved king the building had stopped. It was time to resume. Haggai was called of God to call the people back to the work of building the Lord’s house. In our verse today, the prophet proclaimed, “Consider your ways.” They were at ease, and were satisfied to allow the house of the Lord to remain in its unfinished state. It is as though the prophet said, “Think about what you are doing!”

Here is some great advice for us all. We need to stop often and “consider our ways.” What are we doing? What is our goals? What is it that we are tying to accomplish? Is our service for Christ what it should be? Are we wavering in our commitment to Christ and His Church? The message is, “Consider your ways.” I’m sure you have heard the statement, “You should have thought of that.” That was exactly what the Lord was encouraging the remnant to do through the prophet’s message. And, it is exactly what you and I need to do repeatedly: “Consider your ways.”

January 9

Zechariah 10:12 “And I will strengthen them in the LORD; and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the LORD.”

This promise is made to Israel of a future day of restoration and renewed blessings from God. He promises strength, and that through His strength that future generation will be enabled “to walk up and down in his name.” One of the songs we sing says, “I will strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.” And, He does. Amen! A favorite verse of many says, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Lynn and I have lived in Stamey Cove for most of our married lives, and were only blessed to see bald eagles there this past year. A couple of days ago, when sitting in our dining room, I saw an eagle flying up the cove through the gap of the mountain, just above the road. He was flying in a steady climb almost effortlessly. It was the epitome of strength and beauty. The Lord promised Israel that the day would come when He would strengthen them “in the Lord….” He will strengthen you, beloved! Paul encouraged the Ephesians with these words, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” (Ephesians 6:10) Remember, “the Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation….” (Exodus 15:2)

January 10

Malachi 3:10 “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

The above verse is not an Old Testament truth only. The Lord Jesus said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give unto your bosom. For with the same measure that ye meet withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38) The Lord ever expected and demanded His people give toward His work in the world. He did so with Israel. They were commanded to give to the work of the Temple, and promised blessings if they did so. God’s plan has ever been that His people support His work in the world, and do so cheerfully. Paul wrote, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

For the child of God, the giving of their finances to the Lord’s work should be seen as a duty, but it should also be seen as a privilege. God has blessed us with the ability to work, to attain what is needed for our survival in this world. It is only fitting that a portion of that with which He has blessed us be returned to Him. In fact, everything that we are, everything that we own or ever hope to have is a gift from above, from the Father of lights. (See James 1:17) Our Lord is gracious, and gives to all. Let’s trust Him to bless our gifts to Him and to His cause in the world’

January 11

Matthew 3:17 “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

On at least three occasions, the voice of the Father was heard from heaven acknowledging the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God; in the above text, and also in Matthew 17:5 at the Mount of Transfiguration, and in John 12:28 when Jesus prayed that the Father would glorify His Name.

These were added proofs of the Person of the Lord Jesus, along with the miracles He performed and the Old Testament prophesies He fulfilled.

In the first part of this amazing heavenly announcement, the Father acknowledged that Jesus was His beloved Son. In John 3, Jesus referred to Himself as the “only begotten Son of God” when speaking with Nicodemus. Beginning at that point, He referred to Himself as God’s Son repeatedly, and He proved that claim with the miracles that He performed.

In the second part of this announcement, God’s declaration proclaimed, “…my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus never displeased the Father, never violated any of His laws or refused to submit Himself to the Father’s will. His was a perfect, sinless life; the only such life ever lived.

Consider for a moment the phrase, “…in whom I am well pleased.” Because the life of the Lord Jesus pleased the Father, His sacrifice for

sins was accepted, becoming the means of eternal redemption for all who would come to Him in faith. Note the prophecy of Isaiah 42:1. In order for our Lord to be the accepted sacrifice for sins, He had to be without spot or blemish concerning sin. He was! He was well pleasing unto the Father, and the spotless Lamb of God “that taketh away the sins of the world.” Amen!

January 12

Mark 6:6 “And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.”

Unbelief is truly an amazing thing, even causing the One Who knows all things to “marvel.” Their unbelief literally tied the hands of the All Powerful Son of God, for the previous verse said, “And he could there do no mighty work…because of their unbelief.”

Unbelief in the Lord Jesus and His Word is prevalent among many despite undeniable evidence. Paul wrote, “…that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto the them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen….” (Romans 1:19-10) Peter spoke of willful ignorance, which would seem to be an ignorant unbelief that is the result of the exercise of the will of the unregenerate Christ denier. (See 2 Peter 3:5)

Notice what Jesus did in light of the unbelief of some: He ministered to others. Some believed, and for them He could do great things. So can we. All will not believe. In fact, most will not. But we must continue ministering the Word of our Lord, for some will respond in faith believing. They did in His day, and they will in our day. Keep being faithful, child of God, in your service for Christ.

January 13

Luke 5:16 “And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.”

Why did our Lord do this? We must know that His brief ministry, a ministry that had been planned from eternity past, was full, it was busy and it was at times hectic. There were times in that ministry that He did not stop long enough to eat. (See Mark 6:31) In Luke 5, the man cleansed of leprosy went everywhere telling what Jesus had done for him, and this resulted in great multitudes coming together to hear Him and to be healed by Him. It was then that He withdrew into the wilderness, and prayed.

He did so for that was what He needed in His humanity. He needed quiet time, time to spend in prayer and meditation. In the days of His humility, when he took upon Himself the form of a servant and became obedient to the will of the Father, He needed those seasons of prayer and spiritual renewal. What amazing and marvelous grace, that the Lord of Glory so condescended to our low estate.

But He also did this as an example for us. The Lord Jesus was teaching continually during those busy days, and even in those quiet evening prayer sessions He was teaching. He was giving us an illustration of that which we desperately need, that being quiet time alone with Him. O, how we need our spiritual batteries recharged, our spiritual man renewed and strengthened. It is during those “wilderness” seasons of prayer that those needs are met. Have those times, beloved, when you withdraw from all else other than Him, and spend time before His throne in worship, and in seeking His direction for your life. Amen!

January 14

John 8:18 “I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.”

To better understand this verse, read the one before it. “It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.” This came from a charge leveled against Jesus by His adversaries, “Thou bearest witness of thyself; thy record is not true.” They were implying that His testimony could not be trusted for it was not verifiable by a second witness, which was required by the law for controversial matters. (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15) Jesus proved their accusation wrong by acknowledging the Father’s witness. In an earlier devotion, we noted the times that the Father spoke from heaven expressing His pleasure with Jesus, Whom He acknowledged as His Son.

The witness of Jesus concerning Himself was, and is true. He is the very Son of God, God Incarnate. He is the world’s only Savior, and will someday return to the earth as the world’s only King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His death on Calvary, and His resurrection from the dead has made salvation possible, and all who trust in Him are blessed with eternal life. Have you believed the witness of the Son of God? His message to Nicodemus was clear when He said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life?” (John 3:16)

January 15

Acts 13:10 “And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?”

Paul’s ministry was seeing great success on Cyprus in the city of Paphos, but there will always be opposition to the Lord’s work. This opposition came from a sorcerer by the name of Elymas. Here was a man who got his power and ability to persuade from the adversary, the devil. Satan used this man to endeavor to hinder the Lord’s work, something that he is ever doing. After leaving Thessalonica, Paul intended to return that he might minister to this young congregation, but he said, “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:18) This is another reminder to us that we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Believers must be aware of this spiritual conflict that we find ourselves in. To be ignorant of this truth is to invite defeat. Satan is continually trying to “pervert the right ways of the Lord.” Know this, child of God, “…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) This does not mean that there will not be spiritual battles, but it does mean that as long as we are trusting in the Lord, endeavoring to do those things that please Him, and trusting in His strength alone for this spiritual conflict we will will forever be “more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

January 16

Romans 4:18 “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.”

Abraham was a man that had faith in God, who was declared right with God because of that faith, and was filled with hope through His faith. All who are saved enjoy those very same blessings. Notice carefully Paul’s description of Abraham’s faith: “Who against hope believed in hope….” When the reality of his situation should have removed all hope, Abraham’s heart was filled with hope, for his hope was not in his situation, but in the One Who controlled his situation.

Often our situations bring us to the point of what would seem hopeless, but as God’s little ones we are never without hope. The reason for this is that our hope is in the Lord and in His unchanging promises. Whatever your current situation is, whatever your today or tomorrow brings, hope in God! Remember the Psalmist’s words; “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance.” (Psalms 43:5)

January 17

1 Corinthians 1:10 “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

My brother sometimes says, “I might be wrong about that. I was wrong once before, but then I was really right and only thought I was wrong.” I’ve used that bit of dry humor many times, along with saying, “Everybody has the right to be wrong.” I use that when someone else’s opinion differs from my own. Interestingly enough, that is the attitude many really have concerning those who don’t agree with them. It’s the attitude of, “I’m right, and everyone else is wrong.” It’s that attitude that Paul is speaking against for the body of Christ. There’s just no place for that in the household of faith.

There are many things that must be taken into consideration when striving toward unity in the Church of the Lord Jesus. We are all different, coming from different backgrounds, having differing personalities, opinions and tastes. All are not on the same plain in the Church when it comes to spiritual development. Having said that, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, brought together in our common faith. As sinners, we all came to Him in faith, trusting in His power to save us and grant unto us eternal hope. All have been blessed with the same Holy Spirit, baptized by Him into the same body and given the same blessed hope of our Savior’s glorious return. We all feed on the same spiritual food, our Lord’s precious Word. Because of these truths, and because of our Master’s commands, we must seek to be of one mind, and of one accord. Honestly, with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Let’s strive to make that possibility a reality in our lives, and in our church.

January 18

2 Corinthians 5:1 “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

“…we know….” Certainty! Assurance! Confidence! This is the Christian faith, and in this faith there are some things that “we know.” “We know” that our earthly house of this tabernacle, our bodies, are in the process of being “dissolved.” These bodies are in the process of dying. It has been that way for our entire lives. This may not be the most pleasant of thoughts, but it is an undeniable reality. Even though we live our entire lives with this reality, we also know that the dissolving, or death, of these bodies is not going to end our existence. Actually, for the child of God, death will not be an end, but a beginning; a beginning of a much better and eternal existence.

The understanding of this gives a completely different understanding of death, resulting in a completely different response to death than is the norm. For the unbeliever, death is the most dreaded and feared of all the natural courses of life. For the child of God, death is filled with hope, and even excitement. This is so because “we know…we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Beloved, Paul isn’t speaking of dwelling places constructed of wood and stone, but of our tabernacles of clay, our bodies of flesh and bone. Heaven is the hope of the saved at death, and this “we know.” Amen!

January 19

Galatians 3:7 “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

Abraham is considered the spiritual father of all who are justified by faith, for because of his faith, God declared him righteous. He wasn’t declared right with God because of his goodness, or because of his own moral character. The patriarch was justified by faith, as are we.

Faith is simply believing God and trusting in His gracious provisions through our Lord Jesus Christ. The redeemed are not declared right with God because of their good works, for the fact is that “there is none good but one.” (Matthew 19:17; Mark 10:18) Our goodness comes through our relationship with the Lord Jesus, a relationship which is of faith. Consequently, those who have placed faith in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus have been “blessed with faithful Abraham.” He was blessed with imputed righteousness, as are we. Read the following verses: Romans 4:1-12)

When God devised His plan of salvation, He did so in such a way that it was available to all. This blessed plan is simple enough that a child can understand, and so complex that we will marvel at its truths throughout eternity. Praise God for His gracious provision of eternal redemption through the Lord Jesus.

January 20

Ephesians 2:18 “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

The “both” in Verse 18 refers to Jews and Gentiles. In Verse 17 Paul referred to those who were “afar off.” This is referring to Gentiles. He then speaks of those “that were nigh,” referring to God’s chosen people, the Jews. While the Jews were considered “nigh,” and the Gentile considered “afar off,” both were given the opportunity to be declared right with God through faith in the Lord Jesus, and both were given the opportunity to enjoy access to God through the Holy Spirit. Through the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, an offer of “peace” was extended to all, both Jews and Gentiles.

This is a blessed truth. As Gentiles, we were considered “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Then there are five precious words strung together to give us Gentiles hope, “But now in Christ Jesus….” Jesus made hope possible to all, “both” Jews and Gentiles. Praise His Name! Now, you and I who have been “made nigh by the blood of Christ” have the glorious privilege and responsibility to share this good news with others. What a great message, and what a great opportunity to give those around us some good news! Amen!

January 21

Philippians 3:2 “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.”

The word “beware” means to see something, to be discerning, to perceive by the senses. It denotes having an understanding, to have one’s mind directed toward something. There are three things given in this verse that demands the attention of God’s people; “dogs,” “evil workers,” and “the concision.” The word “concision” means to cut up, or to mutilate. There have always been those whose primary goal has been to cut up or to mutilate God’s work in the world. “Evil workers” is fairly easy to understand, but what about “dogs.” Once me and one of the deacons (I will withhold names) were doing some visiting when we heard some really big and really mean sounding dogs barking. We immediately started thinking over the possible scenarios we were facing. This particular deacon (No names) had a bad knee. I said, “I really don’t have to outrun those dogs. I just have to outrun you.” I think his response was something like, “Thanks, preacher!” That’s really not what Paul was speaking of when he said, “Beware of dogs….”

For those of you who have those furry little creatures of which you are so fond, these words are certainly not intended to be offensive, and I honestly know how easy it is to get so attached to “man’s best friend.” However, dogs do not have a high standing in God’s Word. In fact, it is rather difficult, if not impossible, to find anything positive about dogs in the Bible. I think what Paul is speaking of when warning of “dogs” are those whose teeth are always ready to rip into God’s Word, who are ever prepared to devour what the Lord is doing in the world. Albert Barnes wrote the following about dogs as used in this passage: “The term dog also is used to denote a person that is shameless, impudent, malignant, snarling, dissatisfied, and contentious, and is evidently so employed here.” Some interpret “dogs” as referring to Judaizing teachers that were constantly snarling and endeavoring to disrupt the work of Christ in the world. “Beware of dogs.” We must thus beware of those about us who would readily devour the influence of the true Church of the Lord Jesus in the world, and you along with that, child of God.

January 22

Colossians 3:3 “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”

Scripture is clear on this truth, “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) That decree from God is unchangeable, and undeniable. Before you trusted Christ as your Savior, you were dead in your trespasses and sins, and you were facing eternal death in the lake of fire. When you placed faith in Christ, you were crucified with Him through the power of faith. (See Galatians 2:20) That faith associated You with His death, but also with His resurrection. (See the later part of Galatians 2:20; “…nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God….”)

Now that you are saved, you are considered dead to sin, (See Romans 6:2) but alive through Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord! You are also secure and safe in the Savior’s love, for our text declares, “…your life is hid with Christ in God.” The curse of the law has no hold upon you because of your satisfying its demands through faith; you are “dead.” Now that the law can no longer condemn you, you have peace in your heart through your relationship with the Living Lord, and His life is now your life. We are all still facing physical death (unless the Lord comes first), but have the promise of an eternal life where death can never again threaten, sadden or invade our world. Thank God for that hope!

January 23

1 Thessalonians 2:20 “For ye are our glory and joy.”

Paul was the instrument used of the Holy Spirit to establish a church in the city of Thessalonica. He wasn’t there long, only around three to four weeks. In that short time, souls were saved and a church was organized. When reflecting on that church, and the individuals that were brought together by their common faith in Christ, Paul called them his “glory and joy.” How so?

The Holy Spirit had accomplished a great work in that city. One by one individuals had been brought to faith in the Lord Jesus. They had been delivered from paganism, from the deception of religious cults and from the power and penalty of sin. Their lives and their eternities had been radically changed. They were now “new creatures” in Christ. (See 2 Corinthians 5:17) Now they were coming together regularly, worshipping, praying and endeavoring to support Christ’s work around their world. Paul’s thought was, “I glory in what the Lord has done, and is doing in Thessalonica, and it brings me great joy.”

Think about this, child of God. Paul wrote these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So, it’s not a stretch to say that the Church at Thessalonica was what the Holy Spirit gloried in and what brought Him great joy. Let’s endeavor to continue bringing Him glory and joy by our faith and by living our lives according to His good pleasure. Amen!

January 24

2 Thessalonians 3:3 “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.”

There is a truth expressed here that should bring us all joy, peace and assurance: “…the Lord is faithful….” Praise His Name!” He is faithful to His Word. What He has promised He will do! When He said, “I give unto them eternal life,” He will and does do just that. When He promised, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” that promise is a certain reality.

The Lord is faithful to His Church. He promised, “…and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” He said that two thousand years ago, and still stands behind that pledge to this very day. The Church is attacked on every side, but She will not go down, and never be defeated. The reason for this is simple, clear and understandable: “…the Lord is faithful.”

He is faithful to His children. Beloved, He is faithful to you. Sometimes it seems He is not hearing or seeing what is going on in your world. There are times it seems that the heavens are brass, and that your prayers are going unheard. Don’t believe that for a minute. He is faithful to you as His child, and He will be faithful to you until the day He comes and receives you unto Himself. Praise God for the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus!

January 25

1 Timothy 4:13 “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.”

The above words were written by the Apostle Paul to Timothy, the pastor of the Church at Ephesus, but their truths are applicable to all of God’s people. It was a charge to Timothy, but intended to be a charge to all of us by the Holy Spirit. Until the Lord comes for us we must give ourselves to the reading of God’s Holy Word, feeding on its truths and letting it’s counsel guide our steps. We are to allow it’s “exhortations” to challenge us, comfort us and correct us where needed. The precious “doctrine” of God’s Word must become real to us, understood by us and applied to our lives. And all of this until our Lord comes.

Beloved, the truth is that the nearer we come to Christ’s coming for us, the more deception and departure there will be when it comes to the truths revealed in the Word of God. The Lord Jesus revealed that when He said, “Take heed that no man deceive you….” (Matthew 24:4) For that reason, and because His blessed Word is spiritual nourishment for our souls, we must “give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” The phrase “give attendance” speaks of turning the mind to something, to apply one’s self to something, and that something is God’s Word. Before leaving this devotional thought, please examine the next words Paul sent to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:14-16. Let’s endeavor to be obedient to this charge given to Pastor Timothy, and to us all as we look ahead to the coming of our Lord for us. Amen!

January 26

2 Timothy 2:7 “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.”

Paul wrote this words by the Spirit’s guidance, His “inspiration.” As such, his words became an inseparable part of the Word of God. “Consider what I say,” or what the Lord was saying through him was Paul’s admonition to Timothy. He then added, “…and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.” In other words, he was praying that the Lord would give Pastor Timothy an understanding in all things dealt with in the Word of God.

The Psalmist prayed, “…give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.” (Psalms 119:73) Read what Proverbs 2:3-6 tells us following these same thoughts: “Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” When the two disciples were walking with the Lord after His resurrection, not knowing it was Him with Whom they walked, “Then opened he their understanding, that they understand the scriptures….” (Luke 24:45) This is exactly what we need, and the Lord will give it if we will trust in Him. Seek His wisdom in understanding and applying His precious Word. Amen!

January 27

Titus 2:-7 “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”

This seems a pretty big bill to fill, does it not? We are admonished to live our lives in such a way that none observing can have any evil thing to say of us. Now I have to be honest with myself and with you, if you watch me closely enough, you will most likely be able to see something in me that is lacking. The solution to that is for you to quit looking so closely. No, that’s not really so. Just kidding! The solution for me is to endeavor to live my life in line with what the Scripture requires. That isn’t easy, and actually impossible without the Lord’s help. I can’t do it, but “with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26). And, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Here’s the challenge, child of God. Be concerned with the image you project to others around you. Be conscious of the kind of life you are living before your peers, your workmates or family. While the words of our text were primarily aimed at a pastor, the Holy Spirit aims them at us all, and expects all to seek to honor Him by obeying these words. Again, not an easy bill to fill, but possible through His guidance and strength. Someone is watching! Show yourself a pattern of good works and sound Biblical doctrine. The Lord will surely honor your efforts. Amen!

January 28

Philemon 1:2 “And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:”

“…to the church in thy house….” Think about that! Admittedly, this was probably not a very large church, but it was in Philemon’s house. That means that when they gathered, they did so in his house. If there was any opposition launched against the believers, it was associated with his house. If when they gathered the weather was bad, it was Philemon’s house that bore the brunt of that issue. It may have required rearranging furniture, and certainly required extra housework before and after services. This tells us something of the commitment to Christ’s work that Philemon and his family had.

If faith inconvenienced us, would we be willing to be thus inconvenienced? If faith disrupted our daily lives, would we be willing to be thus disrupted? If faith cost us something, would we be willing to pay that price? These are important and probing questions. Faith in Christ does at times inconvenience, it does disrupt and cost something at times. For some more than others. When you think about it though, a faith that does not inconvenience, or disrupt or cost something may not be the right kind of faith anyway. For the early church, faith sometimes required the supreme sacrifice, the sacrificing of one’s life. That was an extremely high price to pay, and many were willing to do so. Even in our modern world, some are asked to pay that price for their faith in Christ. I certainly hope and pray that none reading these words are ever so challenged, but if we are may our Lord give us the grace to stand for Him regardless of the cost or the supposed inconvenience.

January 29

Hebrews 3:13 “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

To “exhort” means to comfort, to encourage and to strengthen. It is actually the same word that is translated “comfort” in reference to the care God has for His own. (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-4) The command given to us is that we have that same care one for another, a care that compels us to offer comfort and encouragement to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Who doesn’t need an occasional boost, words of encouragement ever so often? We all do! In 1 Samuel 30:6 we read of David encouraging himself in the Lord, and while that is a possibility, it is not always that easy to do. Life’s challenges can be discouraging, and that discouragement can be defeating. God has brought together a wonderful group of people here at Good News, and we do need each other. When you come to church, spread words of kindness, concern and cheer. Cards of concern are always a blessing to those who are confined due to sickness or injury. Lift one another up in prayer, and lift one another’s spirits by exhorting one another daily.

January 30

James 1:16 “Do not err, my beloved brethren.”

There are some great one-liners in the Bible worthy of note. One that comes to mind is, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:14) Another is, “Pray without ceasing.” Here, we are given a very simple admonishment, “Do not err….” It can mean, “Do not lead astray,” but can also mean, “Do not be led astray.” “Do not err….”

Unfortunately, this is something we do quite naturally, erring that is. Of all the things that we can do almost without trying, one of them is messing up. If the saying is true, “To err is human,” (and it is) our humanity sure shines through a good percentage of the time. The goal is that through the Holy Spirit and guidance from Scripture the believer keeps that in check. Can it be done? We would not be commanded to do so if it were impossible.

What are some areas to consider concerning erring? What about temper? What about greed? What about jealousy? These are all areas in which we could be led astray. There is also spiritual slothfulness, neglect of spiritual duties and the accumulating of things in our lives that compete with our devotion to our Lord. The bottom line is this, as children of the Lord we should ever be striving toward a life of obedience and a laying aside of those things that could be considered error. The question was asked earlier, Can it be done? The answer is yes, it can be done through the strength and guidance from the Holy Spirit. May our Lord help us in making this admonition a reality in our lives. Amen!

January 31

1 Peter 3:10-11 “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good, let him seek peace, and ensue it.”

When you go to the doctor with a problem, you want him to diagnose your situation, prescribe a course of action and head you back to a place of physical soundness. The Great Physician has here given a prescription for a life that will be loved, that will be good and filled with peace. Who wouldn’t want that? Some people never find that kind of life, only one that is constantly in turmoil, riddled with anger and frustration, and a continual sense of unease.

Who wants to go through life mad? Who wants to go through life in a constant state of frustration? This does not have to be the case for the child of God. Now beloved, none of us are perfect. And, there will always be those things that work against us in this life. But if we will endeavor to live for the Lord, be obedient to His Word and lay aside those things that He has expressly told us to forsake, we will find our lives much more pleasant, enjoyable and appreciated.

Our world is filled with people that literally hate their lives. How tragic! Life is too short and eternity too long to have an attitude of painful endurance when it comes to life. Peter’s prescription for overcoming that tendency is simple: “refrain your tongue from evil, and your lips that you speak no guile; turn aside from evil and do good; seek peace and run after it in order to catch it.” If you do this, you have a good chance of having a life that you love, and days that are filled with goodness. That kind of life is filled with peace. Go for it!


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