BREAD OF LIFE MINISTRIES

DEVOTIONS DESIGNED TO ENCOURAGE, EDIFY & MAKE YOU THINK!!
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Saturday, February 28, 2015

GRACE GIVEN

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  1 Timothy 1:9-10
         1st and 2nd Timothy are letters from the Apostle Paul to his “child in the faith” Timothy.
Here Paul speaks of the grace of God, which is His unmerited or undeserved favor.  When we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior we then fall under the umbrella of God’s grace.  He then favors us above those who are outside the family of God the same way an earthly parent would favor their own child over a child of their neighbor.  Although God established this grace when time began, it came to fruition through Christ when He took on the sins of the world on the cross and died conquering death once for all time.  This is why we who are saved are said to be born twice and only die once.  We die to our old sin nature and are born the second time as a new creature in Christ.  The second death is reserved for all who reject Christ and the life changing forgiveness He provides. Those who experience the second death are cast into a lake of fire for all eternity. (Revelation 20:13-15)
         In these 2 verses Paul is stressing the point that our redemption is by the grace of God and not by anything we could have ever done.  We are called to live sanctified lives with the Holy Spirit’s assistance.  Sanctification is the process of being set apart or made holy for heavenly use.  It is both instantaneous and progressive.  Instantaneous in that the moment we receive Christ we are seen by God as completely righteous and holy or sanctified.  While this is true, our actual entry into holy living takes time, perhaps most, if not all our lives.  It’s in God’s economy that grace, mercy and love reside.  It is the exercise of those characteristics that stays God’s hand against us.  He knows we are but dust and to dust we shall return (Ecclesiastes 3:20). 
         So embrace the grace that has been provided for you to enjoy and do not neglect it, for it is the basis for your redemption.  Without it there would be no hope, with it there is never ending hope. Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!
References used:  Reformation Study Bible and The Asbury Bible Commentary.


NOTE: Paul recommends Timothy as one who will take a genuine interest in the welfare of the Philippians. Timothy is frequently referred to as Paul's child in the faith (1Timothy 1:2, 18; 2Timothy 1:2; 2:1; and Philippians 2:22) and was placed in Ephesus as Paul's representative (1Timothy 1:3).

Friday, February 27, 2015

DON’T BREAK THE LAW

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” 1 John 3:4-6 (NIV)
         As believers in Christ we shouldn’t entertain sin as a regular course of action.  Sin is the deliberate disobedience of religious or moral law.  According to the Apostle John it’s lawlessness, which is quite specifically the disobedience to God’s Moral Law.  An occasional sin, while not excused, is certainly a possibility.  Quite frankly, it’s a probability.  A Christian receives conviction from the indwelt Holy Spirit and changes his course, thus averting negative consequences.  Those that do not shall most assuredly reap the consequences of their transgression(s). 
         John depicts the person who keeps on sinning as one who doesn’t know God.  So many people claim to know God or Jesus, yet their lives reveal just the opposite.  To know the Lord is to love Him and to love Him is to walk in righteousness, not get away with whatever you think you can.  Knowingly sinning with the mindset that you can always ask to be forgiven makes a joke of God’s grace. 
         If you say you’re ‘religious’, what does that mean to you?  Does it mean you strive to be more like the Christ of the Bible in thought, word and deed or does it mean that you warm a pew every Sunday morning and even drop a few dollars in the collection plate?  What we need to keep from practicing sin again as a way of life is to enter into a personal relationship with the Lord, not become ‘religious’.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!
Dictionary used:  American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Reference used:  Reformation Study Bible, P & R Publishing Company, Copyright 2008.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

NO FEAR IN LOVE

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.”  1 John 4:18-19
         What is fear?  Synonyms for fear are “dread, terror, horror, panic, alarm and apprehension”.  Because we are human we still become frightened of future eventualities.  Those that have love in their hearts, perfect love from above, are less likely to become fearful.  As it says, “fear involves torment” and God is not in the tormenting business.  We torment ourselves with worry and panic regarding things we have no control over.  I’m that way sometimes.  I fret over things that will probably never happen.  Where is my faith?  It has temporarily given way to what I perceive to be reality.  While a person’s perception is their reality, God controls all things, so our reality should not be a dreadful thing unless we have said or done something to bring it about.  The dreadful thing would be the consequences we have invited into our life.
         Perfect love casts out all fear. It’s how one can have the peace that passes all understanding in the midst of a storm of unsettled chaos. (Philippians 4:7)  It is a placid state of being that allows fearful thoughts to pass through us yet not reside in our minds. 
         The last statement from verse 19 is pretty amazing all by itself.  God loved us before we even knew Him.  It’s normal for a human to love those that love them, but to love someone first before they even know us is considered abnormal.  In this day and age it might even be classified as creepy or unsettling.  But that’s how this love thing works with God.  He created us and therefore He loves us more than we could ever comprehend.  We come to love Him once we find out about His love for us and the price that was paid for our redemption.  It’s what love is; Christ on the cross, the living, breathing example of love personified.  Be a reflection of God’s love.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!
Dictionary used:  American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  Matthew 22:37-39
            Here we see Jesus quoting from the Old Testament regarding the first and greatest commandment given to man.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) Mark and Luke include the word ‘strength’. For some reason Matthew doesn’t.  Regardless, the point has been made; this is what man owes God; first and foremost to love Him.  If we love God we will be inclined to obey Him.  No, inclined isn’t a strong enough word.  We will be compelled to obey Him. We will be driven to obey Him.  If we truly love God in the Biblical sense we will strive to please Him in all we think, say and do.  Love fuels the fire in our hearts.  Love causes us to exhibit qualities that reflect our Lord; things like kindness, mercy, forgiveness, humbleness and selflessness. 
         The second greatest command is to love your brother.  This comes from Leviticus 19:18 which says “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” If we love our neighbor the way we love ourselves we will seek the welfare of those around us.  We will break out of our comfort zone and do for others just as Christ has done for us.  This is what we owe our fellow man.  This is how they will know we are followers of Christ, that we are not self-seeking, but rather selfless, having no regard for ourselves.  If God meets our every need, that should free us up to serve others, shouldn’t it?  Stop focusing on yourself and put your focus wholly on the Lord.  He is our hope and our salvation.  God alone can see us through this maze called life.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!
References used:  The Peoples New Testament, Westminster John Knox Press (January 25, 2010) and Barnes Notes, Kregel Classics; 8th edition (June 30, 1962).

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

SEEKING GOD

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11-13
         These are in part some of the words the prophet Jeremiah had written in a letter from Jerusalem to those Judeans who had been taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  He wrote to them as a means of giving them hope for their future.  The promise God gives through His prophet is conditional.  It stands as a valid promise to this very day and the condition remains the same as well. 
         The Lord wishes to give us a future and a hope.  Eternity with Him is hope enough and that in and of itself makes our future glorious.  Regarding calling upon the Lord, it is the word ‘when’ that makes it conditional. You must seek God with all your heart.  You mustn’t be double minded.  You mustn’t go about it with a casual attitude.  Seeking God is a very deliberate act that requires all of our heart, mind, soul and strength.  God promises that if we devote ourselves to seeking Him, He will be found.  When we speak to Him either out loud or to ourselves, He will listen.  It is also clear throughout scripture that He not only listens but He responds. 
         Too many people approach God with unbelief in their heart as a person who sticks their big toe in the water to see if they want to venture in.  We must go in full bore, with no hesitation. A half-hearted, double minded man will receive nothing from the Lord, but the person who gives their heart away to God will receive the benefit of all the promises found in His word.  That is the in response to the ‘when’.
          The culmination of our labors for Him shall be rewarded with an eternal home that will defy description.  For scripture clearly tells us in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV) Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!

Monday, February 23, 2015

GOD IS WATCHING

“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”  Proverbs 15:3
         God is ever mindful of our comings and goings.  He knows exactly what is transpiring at each moment of every day.  This is good news for those who live lives that honor the Lord according to His pattern for living.  It’s bad news for those who would do as they please, effectively thumbing their collective noses at the Lord.  Not believing in something or someone frees you up, at least in your own mind, to do that. 
         God is said to be Omnipresent*.  To be omnipresent is to be “present in all places at the same time.” The Lord is capable of this because He’s not confined to a flesh tent, so to speak, like mortal man.  Being all places simultaneously enables Him to know all things, which allows for His Omniscient or all-knowing nature. 
         God is aware of every good and evil deed that is done.  Some might say “then why does He allow terrible things to happen to good people by the hands of wicked men?” God gave man a free will to choose the path He will take.  Many Christians have died throughout the ages at the hand of hate filled, evil men and women; however, God allows this so that He might be glorified in the end.  None of us knows the entire story or the thoughts and heart motivations of each and every player in the scenario.  God knows the very heart of each man and woman He has created.  There are no secrets from Him.  A man’s actions or inactions have condemned him all on their own.  God doesn’t send people to hell; they decide their eternal fate by virtue of their own words and actions or lack there of. 
         Serving an all-seeing, all-knowing God is a personal choice.  You can decide that God must be evil because He allows evil to exist in the world, or you can decide that God is intrinsically good and allows evil as a means of defining mans need for salvation.  The 10 Commandments did that.  They pointed out man’s sinfulness and need for forgiveness.  There will always be men and women who decide to do what we perceive to be evil, perhaps even in the name of God.  But God knows the crux of the matter and will vindicate all those who have died needlessly at the hands of evil men on the final day.  Christian, take comfort in the fact that God is every mindful of your and your situation and He will never give you more than you can handle.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!
*Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

DECENT BEHAVIOR

“Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.  Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh 1.”
         Evil deeds are typically down behind closed doors or under the cover of darkness.  That would lead me to believe that even though some appear brazen in their actions, there must be a twinge of shame or a hint of wrongness to what they are doing.  If that were not true, why not do it in the daylight for all to see?  As believers devoted to Christ we are called to behave decently, which means we are to act with kindness and respect, conforming to recognized standards of morality and conventional behavior.  Not that of the worlds, but rather than set forth by God.  Man’s attempts at moral and conventional behavior pale in comparison to the Lord’s.  Men try to behave with goodness and kindness, but they always ends up giving glory to themselves in the end. 
         Clothing yourself with Christ is like putting on a Jesus jacket.  He goes with you everywhere you go by virtue of the indwelling Holy Spirit, therefore He is aware of your every thought, word, action and reaction.  Just when you think you are alone, Christ is there.  When we have an errant thought that is immoral or unsavory, God is there.  We must be very careful what our eyes see, our ears hear and our mouths say.  Think of it as taking Christ everywhere you go like a best friend, only He is more than a best friend for friends are human and will let you down from time to time.  Christ is our brother.  God is our Heavenly Father.  He wants only that which will elevate us spiritually and not tear us down.  Shun evil and tap into the power to do good by the power of the Holy Spirit within you.  Shed your proclivity* to do the wrong thing and allow the Spirit to guide you into all truth.  It’s the way we are expected to live.  Become more like Christ each day and change the world.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing! 
1 In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit.  [Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®]


* Predisposition; inclination.  [Definitions provided by the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.]

Friday, February 20, 2015

THE REFINING FIRE

“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.”  Proverbs 17:3
         The temperature for refining both silver and gold is roughly 1000 degrees Celsius.  The refining process is used to draw all the impurities in the metal to the surface so it can be skimmed off the top.  The impurities are called “dross”.  They are disposed of because they have no worth.  You, on the other hand, are of great worth.  How does one know their worth?  God created you.  You meant enough to Him to send His Son to die in your place.
         Why do we as Christians have to go through trials in our life? Like the intense temperature used to refine precious metals trials are meant to refine our faith.  God is always watching. Everything done is for our ultimate benefit and not at all to harm us.  As our faith is stretched and molded we start to become what God knows we can be in Him.  It’s a lifelong process that can be a little painful at times, but lessons need to be learned.  Following the pattern for living set forth in scripture requires deliberate action on our part.  Not being perfect we will undoubtedly have times when our spiritual growth plateaus and we stagnate just a bit.  God understands us better than we do ourselves and knows the how and why for our thoughts, words and actions.  He understands that we struggle against a world that would have us ignore the Lord and come out to play.  At times we go AWOL* from our faith as we stop going to church or allow a traumatic event in our life to temporarily cripple our growth.  God is watching.  He patiently and lovingly draws us back to the path He has chosen for us.  He never gives up on us.  He knows our heart.  He can read our motivations.  He knows why we are the way we are, because He made us. 
         So the next time you go through a trial of some sort, know that it is by design and praise God that He cares enough about you to mold you into all you can be in this life.  He loves you and will never fail you.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!
 *AWOL – ‘Absent Without Leave’ is a military term used to describe a soldier who leaves base with proper authorization.  He is considered AWOL.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

KNOWING GOD IS THE KEY


This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”  1 John 5:14-15
         It’s interesting to me how people seem to think that anything they ask of God will be done for them.  Many times these requests involve material wants.  This is not at all what scripture tells us however. There is a key phrase in these two verses that spells out the one requirement for all requests we make of God.  The thing we ask needs to be “according to His will”.  Now if we are insistent God may give us exactly what we ask for to prove a point.  We see that in the Old Testament when Israel insists on having an earthly king like all the other nations surrounding them.  God was their King and Lord, but they felt they knew better and insisted upon having a mortal man rule over them.  God told Samuel, His prophet at this time, to give them what they wanted and the rest is history.  They prospered under Godly kings, yet also suffered greatly under ungodly ones (1 Samuel 8). 
         What we ask for is tied to trust.  Do we trust God enough to do that which He has promised to do?  He’s not a genie in a bottle, dispensing wishes to whosoever.  He is our Heavenly Father who knows us better then we know ourselves and also knows exactly what we need and when we need it.  Our lack of patience and trust cause us to make knee jerk reactions that can tend to make a mess of things at times.
       If we truly love God and are not simply giving Him lip service we will determine to become more like His Son.  In so doing we will begin to have our will line up with His.  Then we will be able to ask what we will and receive that which we request, because it will invariably line up with His perfect will for our lives.  It’s simple.  God knows exactly what He’s doing at all times, we do not.  He knows what we need, we know what we want.  Do you see the disconnect?  Knowing the Lord entails much more than just mouthing His name from time to time or when you’re in a bind.  Knowing the Lord is to spend time with Him.  That is the key component to asking things in His will for you.  Invest your time in knowing God more each day.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!