Category Archives: Daily Devotional

Be Filled With the Spirit

“Do not be drunk with wine, for that is reckless living. But be filled with the Spirit.”

— Ephesians 5:18

The church of Jesus Christ began in earnest on Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers in Jerusalem with great fanfare as recorded in Acts 2. This was 50 days after Christ’s resurrection.

A lady said to me one time, “I wish you would preach a sermon on the Holy Spirit. What is it?” It? Suppose when you get up tomorrow morning, your husband says to you, “Well, good morning, Thing. How are you today, Thing?”

It is obviously a gross insult to depersonalize someone. And to depersonalize the Holy Spirit of God is an insult. So let us consider just who the Holy Spirit is. Now if you were to ask any of the cultists, they would all tell you the same thing: The Holy Spirit is a “thing”; The Holy Spirit is a “force.” It is like gravity, or magnetism, or nuclear energy, or electricity. It is not a person.

But the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a person. Along with the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is one God, in three persons. The Scripture says, “He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27).

Does the Spirit have emotion? The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:30 that we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is not a one-time experience but an ongoing one.

Come, Oh Holy Spirit, and convict us again of our sins. Call us to the Father. Glorify Jesus before our eyes. Melt me. Use me. Fill me.

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, THE HOLY
SPIRIT CAN REIGN IN MY LIFE.

What About Christians Who Fall Away for Good?

“They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us. But they went out, revealing that none of them were of us.”

— 1 John 2:19

How are we to understand it when someone seems to become a Christian, they seem to actively grow, and then eventually they fall away? They leave, and they never come back. The first thing we think of is that these people are somewhere out there someplace. But they were right in the church.

They went out from us, but they were not of us. They were among them, a part of the church, but they really were not of it in its essence. “For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us.”

Many people ask about those that leave the church and apostatize and deny Christ. Have they fallen from grace and ceased to be Christians, or were they never really Christians at all? Two theological systems have been built in response to that question. The Calvinistic system, which says they never were Christians at all and that is why they left. And the Arminian system, which says they once were Christians and now they have ceased to be Christians.

I think John settled once and for all that controversy in this very verse. Their apostatizing is a part of the continual purification of the church.

Father God, it is with deepest sorrow that we think of the people we know who have left the church. We ask You to bring them back to Yourself. You who received the prodigal son with open arms, quicken and make alive those who are spiritually dead…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH AND POWER
ALONE, CAN THE DEAD BE MADE ALIVE.

Can You Have God Without Christ?

“Whoever denies the Father and the Son is the antichrist.”

— 1 John 2:22

As noted before, we hear much said about the beast and the Anti-Christ. But interestingly, John tells us that those who deny the incarnation of Jesus makes one an “antichrist.” Now, therefore, there are a great many individuals and movements and even churches that would fit quite plainly and incontrovertibly into that category. John adds, “No one who denies the Son has the Father” (verse 23).

Now I think it is commonplace among nominal Christians to think that there are those who deny the Son, but nevertheless have the Father. But when someone challenges me about this, I respond: “Just tilt your chin up and talk to God because your argument isn’t with me. I wouldn’t have the gall to say it, but God did, right here, “No one who denies the Son has the Father.” This opponent of Jesus is advertently knocking out the ladder between heaven and earth, between God and man.

Obviously this verse in John referred in ancient days to numerous heretics at that time, such as the Gnostics: they said that Christ came upon Jesus at His baptism and left before His passion, and they separated between Jesus and the Christ and made Christ something other than the person of Jesus.

Of course, all who are agnostic and who are atheists would quite obviously be antichrist in both the senses of opposing Christianity: opposing both the revelation of God and the redemption that Jesus Christ has brought.

Lord Jesus, You are the divine Son of God. We know that no one can come to the Father except by You. Help us to never water down this truth, even in an age of rampant political correctness…

IN GOD’S STRENGTH, WE
PROCLAIM THAT JESUS IS LORD.

Christ vs. Anti-Christ

“…and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and is already in the world.”

— 1 John 4:3-4

Much ink has been spilled over the issue of the Anti-Christ. Just who is he or will he be—or as some want to say, Who was he?

Jesus said in Matthew 24 that many false prophets would arise and lead many astray. We see that one of the aspects of the anti-christos is to be a deceiver as well as an opposer of Christ, and he also will have false prophets as well.

Furthermore, said Jesus, some of these deceivers will be able to do supernatural things: “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Mark 13:22).

We see the activity of Satan directed against Christ, for example, at the temptation. The devil claims to be able to dispose of the kingdoms of this world at his whim. This claim is not denied by Christ.

Furthermore, we have the parable of the tares and the wheat and while we slept, said Jesus, an enemy came and sowed the tares. That enemy would be the antichrist or the devil.

Meanwhile, some people have read too much into the number 666. But in every city in the world, there are probably hundreds of streets at which somebody lives at 666 First Street, 666 Second Street, Third Street and Fourth Street and on and on and on.

John tells us that the spirit of the antichrist is found in those who deny that Jesus has come in the flesh. The spirit of antichrist is to ultimately reject Jesus.

Dear Jesus, we see how many people reject Your holy name and Your divinity. We see how people fight against Your name and claim all sorts of roads to heaven. Thank You for being Who You claim to be…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, CAN STAND
AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST.

The Peace That Passes Understanding

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will protect your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

— Philippians 4:7

James Cash Penney, better known as J.C. Penney, built that tremendous chain of retail stores. Penney was a Christian, but he, like many Christians, had not yet fully learned the lesson of walking by faith. Though his business survived the economic crash of 1929, he had become involved in some personal commitments that were causing him great trouble and stress. In fact, the stress was so severe that it caused the dormant virus of chicken pox, which he had had as a child, to spring to life again in the form of that very, very painful disease of shingles.

He was so crushed and overwhelmed by the constant pain and agony of this disease that he came to the very end of himself and had to be hospitalized. That night in the hospital he was sure he would not survive, so he wrote farewell letters to his wife and son.

He finally went to sleep. The next morning he awoke to singing. It was coming from the hospital chapel just a few doors from his room. He managed to get up, put on his bathrobe, and shuffle into the chapel where he heard a group singing a hymn. As he listened to the words, he was transformed. This was the turning point for him. He said later, “I am seventy-one years old, and the most dramatic and glorious minutes of my life were those I spent in that chapel that morning listening to the hymn: ‘God Will Take Care of You.’”

Oh Lord, our hearts cry out to You for Your grace and Your protection from ourselves. Indeed, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. Thank You that You alone are able to keep us from falling and to present us before Your glory…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE MAY LIVE OUR LIVES SO
THAT ONE DAY WE WILL HEAR HIM SAY, “WELL DONE.”

Pride vs. Trust in the Lord

“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

— James 4:6

I saw a book in a bookstore many years ago with an intriguing title. I didn’t buy it, and now I regret it. The book was entitled Not Made for Defeat. You and I were not made for defeat. We were made for triumph. That, of course, is a picture of a Roman general or emperor coming back from war, his soldiers behind him, flags flying from his chariot. Behind them, in chains, was the army of those who had been defeated and now were being brought as slaves to Rome. But there is a danger in victory—pride. When David faced Goliath, he did not boast. Instead, he put his confidence in the Lord.

It always amazes me how many Americans, even professing Christians, will frequently teach their children: “Be proud.” God gives grace to the humble, but He will tear down the proud of heart.

Pride (in the sense of arrogance, not self-dignity) says that pride is the worst of sins and leads to destruction. C. S. Lewis puts it, “It was through Pride that the devil became the devil.” Trusting in self is like resting on a broken reed that will break completely and pierce your hand.

If we trust in ourselves, if we succeed, we will be proud, and when we run into something too big, we will then be saddened, defeated, and dejected. But if we trust in Christ, we will succeed, and the glory will go to Him and not unto ourselves. That is the Christian way.

Oh God, our help in ages past, I praise and thank You for being my constant helper. Thank You for what You have helped me accomplish and thank You for the victories won. Help me always to give You the glory…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE ARE KEPT
FROM THE DEADLY SIN OF PRIDE.

All Things New

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”

— Philippians 4:4

I remember the words of the classic song, “Old Man River”: “I gets weary an’ sick of tryin’, I’m tired of livin’ An’skeered of dyin’.” Tragically, that is the picture of so many people.

But Paul the Apostle is a great model to us on how to live and how to die. He had become the possessor of a new life through Jesus Christ, who makes all things new. He tells us: “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Even though he sat in a Roman prison waiting to face a possible death sentence, he still rejoiced, and again he said, “I will rejoice.”

He said for me to live is Christ. There is the secret of the fullness of life: Me, live, Christ.

Someone said it is like an arc lamp. When the two components of the self and Christ are put together, they glow with a brilliant incandescence. But if you replace Christ with anything else—with fame, or fortune, or wealth or success or whatever—then you have the smoldering dim smoky lamp that is produced by anything other than Christ.

When the love of Christ takes over the life of a soul, it produces the power of a life which can have a magnetic attraction even for the most scandalous and can change even the hardest of hearts.

Whatever happens in life, we can choose to complain or we can choose to rejoice, through it all. Paul chose to rejoice, and, therefore, they couldn’t keep him down.

Dear Father, give me strength for today to rejoice even when I don’t feel like it. Help me to remember that in You all things work out for the best for those who love You and are called according to Your purpose…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE CAN
REJOICE IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.

To Be or Not To Be

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

— Psalm 23:6

We can’t always say that what Shakespeare’s characters say is what he believed. Nevertheless, I believe Shakespeare was a Christian, and his testimony on that is clear.

Consider the character Shakespeare paints of Hamlet, the melancholy Dane. Consider his view of life as contrasted with that of the devout Christian.

In this famous scene, Hamlet has an unsheathed dagger in his hands. He is wondering whether he should kill himself or not:

To be, or not to be: that is the question…
To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause…

The philosophy of life and death reflected in this passage is vastly higher than the awful secular philosophy of life portrayed by much of the media today, who believe that by simply committing suicide, by flinging the gift of life back into the face of the Giver, by deserting our post, by showing our cowardice, that we are going to solve all of our problems. Hamlet chooses against suicide because the Almighty has set His canon (law) against self-slaughter.

What a vast difference there is to those who come to know Jesus. Through all the difficulties of life, the Savior can sustain us until He brings us safely home.

Lord of life and death, we acknowledge that You decide when we are born and when we die. Thank You that our time is in Your hands. When life becomes too burdensome for us, then help us to cast our burdens on You…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE CAN ENDURE
LIFE UNTIL WE’RE SAFELY HOME.

A Contrasting View of Life

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

— Romans 8:32

There is a big difference between a Christian view of life and a pagan one. For example, the prince of atheists, the Frenchman Voltaire, once said: “I think we human beings are indeed contemptible creatures. I exhort you to enjoy as much as you can life, which isn’t much.”

Of course Shakespeare’s Macbeth said:

Life’s but a walking shadow
A poor player
That struts and frets
His hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more.
It is a tale told by an idiot,
Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

But the Christian view says that God has made us in His image. He has made us a little lower than the angels. The Scriptures say that God cares for us so much that Christ left the glories of heaven and became man in order to suffer a horrible but atoning death on our behalf. We are a part of His bride, which He has bought with His own precious blood. We are looking forward to the beginning of eternity with Him by attending the marriage feast of the lamb. Thus, life to the Christian is of infinite worth and value.

Lord, give me strength for today to live life to the full for Your glory and others’ good. Thank You for letting us bear Your image and making us “just a little lower than the angels.” We are so grateful for all the gifts You give us so freely…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE CAN
SEE HIS LOVING HEART.

What is Life?

“What is your life? It is just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”

— James 4:14

I am convinced that the vast majority of people on this earth live and die without ever having the slightest idea of what life is all about. Now that is a sweeping judgment. I make it, however, in compassion and love. It is tragic beyond words. I have given my whole life in an effort to try to solve that problem. Many live as if it will all end after their life “vanishes away.”

May I call to witness a few people who should, because of their education and their genius, understand what life is all about. One of the most applauded authors of the twentieth century, no doubt, was Somerset Maugham. He said this: “When I look back on my life, it seems to me strangely lacking in reality. It may be that my heart, having found rest nowhere, had some deep ancestral craving for God and immortality, which my reason [his fallen reason] would have no truck with.”

Or consider the British author—another skeptic—Thomas Hobbes, who gave us that concept of government as “leviathan.” He said this: “The life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Not a very high view of life.

For such unbelievers, there was no future, there was no hope, there was no meaning for life. What a contrast we have with a Christian view of life where we are eternal beings created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Too bad so many will miss out on that which human beings were created to enjoy.

Lord of life, thank You for giving me life abundantly. You came to give us this rich and full and purposeful life, and You gave Your own Son to make it all possible…

BY GOD’S STRENGTH, WE LIVE
FULL AND PURPOSEFUL LIVES.