BREAD OF LIFE MINISTRIES

DEVOTIONS DESIGNED TO ENCOURAGE, EDIFY & MAKE YOU THINK!!
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Friday, October 31, 2014

HOLD YOUR GROUND

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
Take notice of who is saying this to his readers, none other than the one who denied Christ 3 times.  Peter would know first hand the importance of being alert and sober minded.  He allowed the stress and chaos of the moment back in Pilate’s courtyard to get the better of him (Mark 14:66-72).  Now he is encouraging other believers to resist the wiles of the devil, for he is a roaring lion who seeks to trip us up and eat us alive.  In reality, the devil is nothing more than a toothless lion, never able to do anything more than we allow him to do.  God, being in control of all things, is also in control of what he is allowed to do to us.  Perhaps I am wrong, but I take the beginning of the Book of Job quite literally in that Satan must seek permission to come against any of God’s children.  Those outside the family of God are fair game to him.  
 Believers the world over suffer persecution in the form of discrimination, slander, ostracism and even death for their faith.  In spite of this they continue to stand tall in their faith.  We in America tend to take a more casual approach to our faith, perhaps due to the fact that we’ve never had to stand up against any major persecution.  Atheists relentlessly pound the gavel against Christianity and other religions, yet we don’t feel any pain as a result.
        The devil is out there.  He’s systematically making inroads into what we hold dear to us in this country.  As believers we need to be sober minded and resist Satan on both a personal and church level.  Stand tall in your faith and don’t let your walk become entangled in the traps that have been set to trip you up.  Stick close to the Lord at all times and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in all you do and you will be safe.  Pray for our country, that believers will rise up and a new revival of faith through salvation may occur.  Until next time, walk with the Lord and be a blessing!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

GRACE

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9
      Grace: the unmerited or undeserved favor of God.  What DO we deserve?  We deserve to be punished for our disobedience.  Hey wait just a minute … I’ve not done anything wrong!  According to Almighty God, creator of heaven, earth and man’s first breath we all have.  It’s only by the favor that the Lord has chosen to offer each of us that we have any chance of salvation. 
There is nothing we could ever do to win God’s favor without faith.  Faith is the act of seeing the unseen as if it can be seen.  It’s a choice we all have to make in our lives.  We can either believe in the existence of God or not.  We can accept the Bible as His word without flaw, inspired by God to man or not.  We can acknowledge a need of a Savior to pay the price due for our sinful disobedience or not.  It’s every person’s choice. 
By the graciousness of God we have been invited to join the family of God.  So many reject such an offer thinking it will restrict them or keep them from having fun in this life.  The ‘fun’ this life offers is temporal, but the joy and fulfillment that Christ offers is for all time.
Somehow we, as believers, have to do a better job of presenting the gospel not as a ‘turn or burn’ message, but a message of love, grace and mercy. Forgiveness is there for the taking, however, just as an addict of any sort must admit they have a problem, so do those who are unsaved.  They don’t see themselves as being in need of saving.  Pray for a better way to represent Christ to those around you.  It’s a matter of spiritual life and death.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

LIVING SACRIFICE

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”  Romans 12:1
         The Apostle Paul starts off chapter 12 by speaking about Christian conduct.  The word ‘bodies’ in this verse speaks of the total person.  While sacrifices made to God are killed before they are offered up, here it is speaking of our sacrifice being alive, because we are alive.  There is a death that does take place though; it is the death of our old nature.  This death is necessary for our spirit man to rise up and take dominion over us.  How healthy you are spiritually has everything to do with how much spiritual food you partake of.  If you starve your spirit man you will be prone to following the world rather than the Lord.  Feast on His word. Speak with Him often and take the time to listen for the still small voice of His Holy Spirit.
          We are found to be holy in God’s sight as soon as we become covered in Christ’s blood of redemption.  Now we must seek to become truly holy and therefore pleasing to God through the way we live our lives.  That is how we worship God, with our lives.  Living according to the standards the Lord sets forth in scripture is not restrictive, but rather liberating.  Everyone needs a standard to live by.  Man is wholly incapable to setting up a standard that works for everyone.  He is too egocentric, too self-absorbed.  God set up an attainable set of instructions to follow; however, one must read His word to know what they are.  We can’t live this life successfully on our own.  God will honor our lives if we live for Him and not for ourselves.  Based on the price that was paid for our freedom from our own sin, I believe it’s the very least we can do.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

OUR FOREVER GOD

For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.  1 Peter 1:24-25
         God’s word endures forever.  Peter illustrates that by quoting from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah1. Think about the existence of the grass and flowers of the earth.  They both sprout from out of the ground.  They grow and die all in one season, a short lifespan without question.  Not so with Almighty God.  All the things of this created world will perish in time, but God was and is and always will be (Psalm 90:2).  Now I realize this seems pretty incredible, especially to those outside the faith; however, to the true believer that fact is comforting.  In this world of chaos and disorder God is the one true constant.  He never changes and neither does His love for us.  The evidence of His love is found in the cross; two pieces of railroad tie-like wood.  On that wood the savior of the world willingly died to pay for all our sins.
         The word of the Lord is eternal as well.  It is our light, our sustenance, our peace and our hope. It guides and directs us when we don’t know which way to go.  God left us the Holy Spirit to direct us from within and His word, which we can see and read.  The wisdom of God can be found in its pages.  Why do people have such a hard time going to it regularly?  It’s like driving cross-country with a map or GPS.
       God has provided all we will ever need to be a success for the kingdom. Notice I said “for the kingdom”.  Worldly success is irrelevant to God.  Many a famous, even iconic individual will spend eternity in hell because they ignored God’s call in favor of worldly treasures and fame.  God wishes us all to know Him in an intimate way through a personal relationship.  How close are you to the Lord?  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!

1 Isaiah 40:6-8

Monday, October 27, 2014

FUTURE JUDGMENT

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”  Hebrews 4:13
         So many people are completely unaware of the judgment that is coming.  Even believers don’t seem to know.  According to scripture there will be two judgments: the mercy (or judgment) seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) for believers and the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) for all who have rejected Christ.  
         Nothing we do in this life goes unseen by Almighty God.  He is aware of everything we think, say or do before it takes place.  If you have chosen not to believe in the existence of an all supreme spiritual being who created all things and provided a way of escape from the punishment of sin, that is your prerogative.  That does not preclude you from future judgment.  If all folks go to heaven regardless of the life they’ve lived, why did Jesus have to die?  If God is real and Christ truly did die in your place for your sins, then the choice you make regarding God’s existence is vital to your future destination.
      For believers, Christ provides freedom from sin and life everlasting; however, we must make our life count for something.  Emulating Christ is a great start.  I believe it is right and completely appropriate to ask ourselves on a regular basis, “What would Jesus say or do?” in any given situation.  To know what He would say or do we must become familiar with Him by reading the Bible.  I believe there is no doubt we will all stand before either Christ or Almighty God in the end.  Who you stand before is up to you.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

BEING LIKE CHRIST

“No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Ephesians 5:5
         This whole notion that God is all loving and kind, while correct, has been taken way too far.  So far in fact that many who call themselves believers don’t believe God would ever send anyone to hell.  They avoid speaking of the judgment of God almost entirely, with the thought that only those who are murderers, rapists and child molesters will end up in hell, not them.  Again, as I have said before, people are comparing themselves to other mortals and not whom they need to compare themselves to.  God demands holiness from His people.  It isn’t a suggestion.  I believe His patience with us comes from knowing we are but dust and to dust we shall return.  If we strive for perfection, as a runner strives for the finish line tape, we will end up being pleasing to our Lord.
         It’s not okay to live as we choose in the name of the Lord.  That’s not what Christian living is all about.  We are to stand out in a crowd, not blend in.  Others should see a difference in us, one that draws them to us, not drives them away.  That is the Holy Spirit moving within us.  I’ve often said to people who have told me I was a good person, “Any good you see in me is the Lord. If left on my own I assure you I would be an entirely different person.”  They don’t understand, but it’s a small way of giving God the glory for your life.
          I’m not perfect.  No one this side of heaven is.  But we can try to be more like Jesus every day so that the world doesn’t wonder where all the true Christians are.  Let them see Christ in you. Don’t walk that fine line between the world and the kingdom attempting to live for God on your own terms.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!

Friday, October 24, 2014

SEEKING WISDOM

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
 and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.  For through wisdom your days will be many,
 and years will be added to your life.  If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;…” Proverbs 9:10-12a
         Godly wisdom does not come to us naturally.  We are not born with it.  It’s something that is acquired.  We can and should seek both wisdom and discernment so that we can make Godly decisions in life. 
Wisdom is defined as having “the ability to judge what is true or right.”1 It is using common sense.  Discernment is the use of keen insight or being perceptive.  God can and will grant you these attributes if you ask for them.  Perhaps you will receive them instantly or perhaps not until they are most needed, but God withholds no good gift from those whose walk is blameless.2  Whose walk could possibly be blameless?  Didn’t you know that when you received forgiveness for your sins through the redemptive act of Christ on the cross God from that point on saw you as righteous; blameless in His sight? 
If you use good godly judgment in all your decisions you will add years to your life.  Tension and stress can rob you of longevity and steal your joy.  Godly decisions can lessen your stress because of the confidence you have in God.  We know from His word that He will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8).  We also know He only wants for us what is good and beneficial to us (Romans 8:28). 
Are you in need of wisdom and/or discernment? Worldly wisdom is based on worldly values.  It will never lead you to God.  Seek the face of God and He will provide for you all that you need. Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!
1 The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

2 Psalm 84:10 “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”

Thursday, October 23, 2014

THE COMPARISON

“Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, …”   Galatians 6:4
         How do we know if we are doing right or wrong?  What standard are we using to make that judgment?  Too many people compare themselves to their neighbor, their classmate or their co-worker to determine how they are doing as a person.  They admit they aren’t perfect, but are certainly better than this person or that person.  I believe all created beings can be guilty of this.   We want to believe the best about ourselves so we find people we are decided worse than we are in character and behavior and quickly point out how much better we are then those individuals.  But how can we say that when we know nothing about their personal lives and the struggles they may be going through?  To compare ourselves to another created being is wrong thinking.  God won’t be stacking your behavior up against Joe Bag-a-donuts down the street on the last day. He will look upon your behavior as it lines up with the standard He has laid out in His word.
         The pride spoken of isn’t the haughty, arrogant type, but rather having a healthy pride in your godly accomplishments.  Having personal pride in yourself while keeping a humble spirit is a good thing and a characteristic that believers should seek.  Look at your own actions.  How do they line up with the word of God?  Don’t concern yourself with what others say about you.  We are to please God in all we think, say and do, not man.
         We all want to be liked by others. We all also have the tendency to want to fit in with our surroundings.  It’s our human nature to be like that.  God is asking you to stand apart from the crowd even while you are in the midst of it. We are the same in many aspects, yet are very different at the same time, therefore, be light where you are and compare yourself to no one but God. Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

REMAIN CALM

“A gentle answer turns away wrath,
 but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs 15:1
         “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” is an old American English phrase.  It’s meaning is quite simple; you achieve more positive results by being nice than by being a jerk, if I may put it so plainly.  Too many people use brut force either physically or verbally to achieve their goals. Taking a calm, pleasant approach can and most times will defuse many an unpleasant situation.
There is a saying regarding business that goes like this: “Be nice to those going up the ladder, because you will pass them again on your way down.”  A harsh word can cause bitterness and resentment in the recipient.  At work presently we have a boss that takes a hard approach with the workers.  He assumes all are lazy, shiftless slugs that are looking to get paid for doing as little as possible. While there are those who fit that description, one shouldn’t automatically assume that all do.  He is not received well and it effects the performance of his workers negatively you can be sure.
Those who are attempting to be more like Christ in their daily lives need to learn to remain calm regardless of how you are treated or spoken to.  Your calm demeanor will more times than not bring about a kinder approach the next time.  It’s what Christ did when faced by angry Pharisees who challenged Him and when He was brought before Pilate.  A calm spirit will always win out over an angry or prideful one.  Anger only begets anger and causes it to escalate.  Remain calm, pray in the spirit and leave the rest to the Lord.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

TRUSTING GOD

“Blessed is the one
 who trusts in the Lord,
 who does not look to the proud,
 to those who turn aside to false gods1.”  Psalm 40:4
      I would like to look at this verse using Joseph Benson’s understanding of it; using ‘lies’ in place of ‘false gods’ (see Benson’s note below). 
         There is an obvious falseness to lies.  Worldly possessions are lies in that they promise much more than they truly offer.  Placing our trust in ‘things’ rather than God shows a lack of understanding of our soul’s condition prior to redemption.  It’s a difficult decision to place all your trust in an entity that is unseen, but that is the very nature of faith.  If we could see God it wouldn’t require faith to believe in Him.  Scripture tells us (Hebrews 11:6) that without faith it is impossible to please God.  Just believing in His existence isn’t nearly enough.  Knowing Him should make our lives different.  His Holy Spirit desires to change us from the inside out.  Without trust this can never happen.  Those who turn to the temporal things of this world to survive are placing their trust in empty shells that once cracked and broken are worthless.  Only God never changes.  His love remains the same; unconditional and eternal. 
         Why should someone place their trust in someone they cannot see?  There is no record throughout the Bible of God ever failing to do that which He has promised to do.  Of course, you first have to believe the Bible is God’s inerrant word, free from flaw or defect. If you aren’t willing to accept that then consider the words of French philosopher & author Albert Camus (1913-1960): “I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live as if there isn't and to die to find out that there is.”
         Don’t believe worldly lies and in so doing place your trust in them.  Trust only God, for He always has your best interests at heart. Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!
1 ‘false gods’ can also be translated ‘lies’.

Note: To lying vanities, such as worldly power, and wisdom, and riches, and all other earthly things or persons, in which men are prone to trust; which are called lies, because they promise more than they perform. [Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments; Joseph Benson – Methodist minister; 1749-1820.]

Monday, October 20, 2014

GOD’S MERCY

“Have mercy on me, O God,
 according to your unfailing love;
 according to your great compassion
 blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity
 and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions,
 and my sin is always before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned
 and done what is evil in your sight;
 so you are right in your verdict
 and justified when you judge.” Psalm 51:1-41
         The judgment passed on King David for his adulterous actions with Bathsheba was the death of the son born as a result of their lying together.  David gave into lustful temptation and paid dearly for it (2 Samuel 12:14-19).  In the end he knew his God was faithful to forgive.  Here we see him plead with the Lord for mercy and compassion.  He acknowledges that God’s verdict against him was right and justified.  He never blames the Lord for his son’s death, understanding that the death of his seven day old son was due to his own transgression. 
         It’s difficult for us to grasp the importance of some of the decisions we make.  This is evidenced by the glib way we make some of them.  God wishes for us to be at peace and blessed but we need to live our lives knowing that there is a price to pay for our blessings.  While salvation is and always shall be free of charge, we’re expected to be changed as a result.  To continue on living as if nothing has happened to us is short sighted.  In spite of ourselves God chooses to forgive and bless us.  He freely doles out His mercy and compassion on all who passionately seek it. 
God is never wrong with His judgment.  The fault is always with us.  When we make an error in judgment, be quick to accept responsibility and take God’s verdict in stride.  His judgments are meant to teach us, not punish us.  Instead of blaming God, be like David and say “Against you, you only, have I sinned
 and done what is evil in your sight.”  Take ownership of your misdeed and give yourself over to God’s mercy.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!
1 A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.