I was supposed to get a delivery yesterday, but the scheduled delivery never happened. The post office marked the reason as “business is closed.” I never knew that I was running a business at my home. If we are, there are no employees, no services provided, and no profits so we are failing miserably. The non-existent business may need to close its doors soon.
I’m assuming that this reasoning was a simple technical glitch or possibly someone wanting to push through their Sunday deliveries. It is possible that someone would assume a business-like order would actually be delivered to a business. By a quick review of the deliveries that often come to my home, one would assume there was a business here. I can understand the confusion.
Today, consider what people would say about you when they look at you. Could they tell that you are a Christian? Would they see some fruit in your life that would point them to Jesus? Do you look like everyone else? Would your actions give them a false assumption? Or is it possible the assumption isn’t false at all? Reflect inward today. Ask God to open your eyes. Are you shining His light? Are you living life on the narrow path? Has your religious routine neglected to impact your heart for Jesus?
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2 [NIV]
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light — for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth — discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. Everything exposed by the light is made clear, for what makes everything clear is light. Therefore it is said: Get up, sleeper and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you. Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk — not as unwise people but as wise — making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:8-16 [HCSB]
It was a morning filled with the chaos of snow. For those who love snow, I’m sure they were enjoying the white fluffy madness. I’ll admit it looked beautiful on the trees; however, I am more thankful for the arrival of spring. I’ve never been a big fan of snow. Driving in the snow is always nerve-wracking. It just so happened that on my drive to work, in front of me was a truck with the fire hazard warning posted on the back. My nerve issues increased as I was concerned I would slide into the truck and that big explosion that we always see in the movies would be my new reality. I kept a very safe distance as I pressed onward.
With the truck before me, I had a nice conversation with God. I considered how I stayed back so far to avoid the fire hazard. I considered how I was intentionally trying to avoid the posted warning before me. The conversation turned to the topic of hell. Heaven and hell are choices. We make a choice. I asked how can someone knowingly travel forward without caution, knowing that without Christ Jesus, the path leads to death and destruction. The Bible is very clear. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Salvation is through Jesus Christ alone (Romans 10:9). He has paid for the sin debt—and that debt was paid in full at Calvary. But there are many who continue to drive closely toward the truck with the fire hazard warning. It grieves me.
Today, remember the cost that was paid by Jesus Christ. Thank Him that He took on the wrath of God for you and me. The wrath of God is satisfied (Romans 5:9). The debt is paid. Everlasting life is ours through Jesus (Romans 6:23). We are right with God because of our loving Savior (Romans 4:25). Pray for those still driving toward the truck marked with hazard. Pray that eyes would be opened. Pray that hearts would be softened. Ask God how you can be a light today in this dark world, pointing to the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!
It didn’t take too long to realize that my van had a fuel gauge issue, as the van continued to show I had a full tank of gas after driving it for a week. I had a car like that before, and knew the quick remedy was to use the faithful trip monitor for mileage and get gas frequently. It was working well for me. I was told it would cost a lot of money to fix the gauge and I certainly didn’t want to make that kind of investment.
Recently, my van has been involved in numerous vehicular accidents. People cannot seem to get enough of hitting the van. At times, I’ll be in the van. At times, it’s park and people ram into it like playing bumper cars. Nonetheless, the accident that began the domino occurrences of accidents did something wild. It fixed my gas gauge. The accident that caused whiplash and days of pain fixed the fuel gauge. What a blessing in the middle of chaos!
Today, look at the blessings around you. Perhaps you are going through a great trial. Maybe you feel like you have been struggling for a long time. But through it all, there are blessings upon blessings. Acknowledge them. Thank the Lord! He is good. Always! And He uses everything—the good and the bad – for His good purpose.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28 [NIV]
In Romans 15:13, we read: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (NLT). We know that Jesus Christ is our only hope. We know that He alone is our confidence. The Bible says, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him” (NIV).
If you have put your confidence in a human at any point in your life, it is likely that you have been let down or hurt. Humans are constantly changing. The hearts of humans are deceptive. Being confident in Christ Jesus is different. We are to rely on what He has done for us. We are to trust in the promises of God. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
It is when we try to place our confidence in something else that we find ourselves in trouble and we are always let down. Today, consider where you have placed your confidence. Are you relying on human effort? Are you relying on friends or family? Or have you put your confidence in God? Are you relying on the One who was and is and is to come?
“For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort.” – Philippians 3:3 [NLT]
God is good. Always. The Psalmist declares this and it is true. God is good, “and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon (Him)” (Psalm 86:5 NLT). “The LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:5 NLT).
Not only is God good, but He does only good. You may hear someone say otherwise or you may think otherwise at times. Understand God is good and He cannot do anything that is not good. He is good. Goodness comes from Him. He only can do good. When something not good is happening, He may have allowed it but He did not cause it.
God uses everything for His good purpose. Remember Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (NLT). If you are going through something right now, trust that He will use it for His good purpose. He is faithful. You are not alone.
“You are good and do only good; teach me Your decrees.” – Psalm 119:68 [NLT]
Jesus said that we could not serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). We know it’s true. Time and time again we find ourselves with divided loyalty. The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates it as “an indecisive man… unstable in all his ways.” Other translations say “double-minded.” That wasn’t even a word until it appeared in the Bible!
All of us have a divided loyalty. We can say we are devout Christians and that we have placed God first, however, we are still in this world and we are still in the flesh. Romans 7:15 says, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate” (NLT). This is the Apostle Paul saying that he wants to do what is right, but yet he doesn’t do it. He recognizes that we have a sinful nature. The struggle is real. We keep on doing evil.
As we are living in this world, trying to live for Jesus, we need to keep in mind that our loyalties are divided a times. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Keep your focus on His Word. When the world tries to pull you closer, remember that we are not of this world. God has a bigger plan for you and I, and it requires a desire for Him. Always aim to take steps toward Him, and the loyalty will become less and less divided, and more and more God-centered.
“Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” – James 1:8 [NLT]
God positions people beside us to help. In a world that tries to teach us to use people and to see what they can do for us, the Bible speaks of a reverse system. Rather than seeking what we can get in this world, and what people can do for us, we are taught that we should seek the best interests of others. We are taught that we are to look out for our fellow man. We are to speak life. We are to encourage, We are to build up.
In Romans 15, the Apostle Paul speaks about people who are strong in the Lord. These spiritually mature are to be considerate to others. We are to recognize what is most important. It isn’t about pleasing ourselves. It is not about us at all. Answering the command of the Lord, we are to love others. We should help others to do what is right. We should invest in people. Build them up in the Lord. This is relationship. This is living intentional. This is reaching outward.
Today, consider who God has placed around you. There are mentors around you, who are being led by the Spirit to help build you up. Then there are people around you who are growing in the Lord. Speak life to them. Walk beside them. Take time with them. Invest in them. Remember that you once were there. Align yourself to them and help them to sink their roots deeper into Christ Jesus.
“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.” – Romans 15:1-2 [NLT]
Today’s devotion is hard to write. I must admit that as a pastor, this verse is one I think upon often. One day I was hit with this overwhelming truth—that my actions—my words and my deeds – could cause someone to stumble and fall. This great responsibility caused me to reevaluate everything. I asked the Lord to please reveal to me if I am being a stumbling block, and to give me the wisdom and discernment to not get in the way of His work and His people. I was deciding “instead to live in such a way that (I would) not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” This doesn’t mean I haven’t done it, but that I pray for more of Him and less of me. I pray that I can live in such a way to embrace and encourage others on their walk, pointing them to Jesus, speaking life, equipping the saints for His kingdom.
Fall on your knees today and seek the wisdom and discernment so that you, too, will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. Seek out the best interests of others. Live with the eternal perspective. Today, decide to live in such a way that you build others up, that you show the love of Christ, that you reach down and raise up. This is grace. It is the same grace that God has shown us when He reached down in our broken world, and through Christ Jesus raised us to new life. We are now co-heirs with Christ Jesus. Live in such a way.
“So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” – Romans 14:13 [NLT]
There is something so awesome and indescribable, the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. People fall on their knees before Him. When soldiers encountered Him in the garden, and He said, “I AM He,” they fell to the ground. When the wise men heard of His birth, they traveled a great distance to fall before Him and worship. Yet, the Bible tells us to clothe ourselves with this presence of the Lord—to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Instead of indulging own evil desires, instead of allowing our sinful heart to control our path, we are to clothe ourselves with Him. How can you be clothed in the Presence? How can someone like you or I be clothed in Jesus? It is because He freely, willingly, purposefully died for us that we can do this. It is because He did not die, but He died and rose again, that we have this great hope. It is because of the Resurrection that we are clothed in His righteousness.
It is because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit among all believers that we have the power to put on His righteousness. When our deceitful hearts try to lead us, the Spirit moves freely within us and we can instead, clothe ourselves with Him. We let go of control. We let go of selfish desires. We let go of our will and say, “Your will be done.” As we are Spirit led, we will not only be clothed in Christ Jesus on the inside—but we will be light bearers to the dark world as an overflowing unto the outside. We will take the presence of the Lord wherever we travel. Today, check to see if you are clothed in His Presence before you start your day.
“Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.” – Romans 13:14 [NLT]