Daily Devotional “Accepting God’s Provisions”

Daily Devotional “Accepting God’s Provisions”
Be different!
December 07, 2023

“By faith [Moses] kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the first-born might not touch them.

By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned” (Hebrews. 11:28-29).

The man or woman of faith gratefully accepts all God’s provisions, no matter how pointless some of them may seem.

When the time came for Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, everything on the human level said it couldn’t be done.

Pharaoh wasn’t about to let two to three million slaves just pack up and leave.

His formidable army was ready to insure that no such exodus occurred.

But when God devises a plan, He always makes the necessary provisions for carrying it out.

On this occasion, His provision came in the form of ten terrifying plagues designed to change Pharaoh’s mind.

The tenth and worst plague was the death of all the first- born (Exodus. 11:5).

To protect themselves from this plague, the Israelites sprinkled the blood of a lamb on the doorposts and lintels of their homes.

When the angel of death saw the blood, he passed over that house. Thus the Passover was instituted.

The blood from those first Passover lambs had no intrinsic power to stave off the death angel, but its presence demonstrated faith and obedience, thus symbolizing the future sacrifice of Christ (cf. John 1:29).

Pharaoh got the message and allowed the Israelites to leave.

But soon afterward he changed his mind and commanded his army to pursue them.

Again God intervened by parting the Red Sea, allowing His people to walk across on dry land.

He then drowned the entire Egyptian army when it followed the Israelites into the sea.

That was a graphic demonstration of a lesson every believer must learn: God’s provisions are always best.

They may sometimes seem foolish to the human intellect—just as “the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness” (1 Corinthians. 1:18)—but the man or woman of faith trusts God and receives His provisions gratefully.

Prayer

Thank God for the wise and gracious provisions He has made for your salvation and ongoing Christian walk.

Further Reading

Read the account of the Passover and the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus 11-14.

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Daily Devotional “Bearing The Reproach of Christ”

Daily Devotional “Bearing The Reproach of Christ”
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December 06, 2023

Moses considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.

By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen” (Hebrews. 11:26-27).

When you suffer for Christ, you bear His reproach.

How could Moses, who lived 1,500 years before Christ, bear His reproach?

Christ is the Greek form of the Hebrew title Messiah, the Anointed One.

Many Old Testament personalities were spoken of as being anointed for special service to the Lord.

Some have suggested that Moses was thinking of himself as a type of messiah, for he delivered his people from the Egyptian bondage.

They would translate verse 26 as, “Considering the reproach of his own messiahship as God’s deliverer.”

However, it seems best to see this verse as a reference to Jesus Himself, the future great Deliverer.

We don’t know how much knowledge Moses had of Jesus, but certainly it was more than Abraham, of whom Jesus said, “Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).

The Messiah has always been identified with His people.

When they suffer for righteousness’ sake, they suffer in His place.

That’s why David said, “The reproaches of those who reproach Thee have fallen on me” (Psalm. 69:9).

Speaking from a New Testament perspective, Paul made a similar statement: “I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus” (Galatians. 6:17).

There’s also a sense in which Christ suffers with His people.

When Jesus confronted Paul, who was heavily persecuting the church, He said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? . . . I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:4-5).

Moses chose to turn his back on Pharaoh’s household and identify with God’s people because he knew that suffering for Christ was far better than enjoying the riches of Egypt.

At some point in time you too will be persecuted for Christ’s sake (2 Timothy. 3:12), so be prepared.

When that time comes, follow Moses’ example of faith and courage, knowing that God will be your shield and your reward (cf. Genesis. 15:1).

Prayer

Follow the examples of the apostles by thanking God for the privilege of bearing a small portion of the reproach that the world aims at Christ (Acts 5:27-41).

Further Reading

Memorize Psalm 27:1 as a source of encouragement when facing difficulty.

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Daily Devotional “The Law Arouses Sin”

Daily Devotional “The Law Arouses Sin”
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December 05, 2023

“But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead” (Romans 7:8).

When confronted with God’s holy law, sinful men are motivated not to obey it, but to break it.

It is a perverse fact of fallen human nature that the surest way to get people to do things is to tell them not to do them.

When people see a sign reading “Keep off the grass!” or “Don’t pick the flowers!” their first impulse is often to trample the grass and take some flowers.

The same is true in the spiritual realm. God’s law reveals what is right and what is wrong—and sinful men choose to do what is wrong.

In his classic allegory Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan vividly depicts the seemingly paradoxical truth that the law does not restrain sin but stirs it up.

In the house of Interpreter, Christian was shown a large, dust-filled room.

A man with a broom, representing the law, appeared and began to sweep. The resulting dust cloud nearly choked Christian.

Bunyan’s point was that just as sweeping a dusty room does not remove the dust but only stirs it up, so the law does not restrain sin but merely aggravates it.

Does that mean the law is evil? Certainly not. “The Law is holy” (Romans. 7:12) since it derives from a holy God.

And it does sinners good by exposing their sin and revealing to them their need for a Savior. The law, then, is not the culprit—sin is.

Using himself as an illustration, Paul notes that “sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind.”

”Opportunity” translates a Greek word used in military terms to speak of a base of operations from which attacks could be launched.

Sin used the law—especially the knowledge of right and wrong it brought—to launch its attacks on Paul.

Don’t be afraid in your evangelism to confront sinners with the demands of God’s holy law.

They must face their utter inability to meet its demands before they will recognize their need for a Savior.

Prayer

Pray that God would help you discern the subtlety of sin’s attacks against you.

Further Reading

Read 2 Kings 17:13-16. Did the Israelites’ knowledge of God’s law keep them from sinning?

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Daily Devotional “The Law Reveals Sin”

Daily Devotional “The Law Reveals Sin”
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December 04, 2023

“What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, ‘You shall not covet’” (Romans 7:7).

God’s holy standard exposes man’s rebellious heart.

So far in Romans, Paul has told us what the law can’t do: it can’t save us (3—5) or sanctify us (6).

At this point the apostle anticipates and answers a question that naturally arises: What, then, was the purpose of the law?

Was it evil? In the next few days we’re going to consider three important purposes the law served.

First, the law reveals sin. Sin is a violation of God’s righteous standard (1 John 3:4); if no such standard existed, there would be no sin.

In Romans 3:20 Paul said that “through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” Romans 4:15 adds, “Where there is no law, neither is there violation,” and Romans 5:13 reveals that “sin is not imputed when there is no law.”

To the question “Is the Law sin?” Paul replies emphatically, “May it never be!” Such a question is as absurd as it is blasphemous; an evil law could never proceed from a holy God.

Paul goes on to say, “I would not have come to know sin except through the Law.”

The law brought the proud Pharisee Saul of Tarsus face to face with his utter sinfulness, revealing his need for a Savior and preparing his heart for his life-changing encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus.

The specific commandment Paul cites, the injunction against coveting, is revealing.

Coveting is an internal attitude, not an external act. It was the realization that God’s law applied to his attitudes, not merely his external behavior, that devastated Paul.

He was forced to realize that all his external self-righteousness was worthless because his heart wasn’t right.

I pray that you too will be “obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed” (Romans. 6:17).

Prayer

Pray with the psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm. 139:23-24).

Further Reading

Read Isaiah 1:14-20; Amos 5:21-27; Matthew 23:25-28. What does God think of mere outward conformity to His law?

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Daily Devotional “Dead to the Law”

Daily Devotional “Dead to the Law”
Be different!
December 03, 2023

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ” (Romans 7:4).

The law can no longer punish those who have died with Christ.

It’s an axiomatic truth that laws don’t apply to dead people. No policeman would issue a ticket to a drunk driver who was killed in an accident.

Nor was Lee Harvey Oswald tried for killing President Kennedy, since he himself was killed by Jack Ruby.

In Romans 7:2-3 Paul uses marriage to illustrate that truth: “For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.

So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress, though she is joined to another man.”

Paul’s point is simple: death ends a marriage because the laws regarding marriage don’t apply to the dead.

The same principle holds true in the spiritual realm.

Since believers have died with Christ (Romans. 6:3-7), the law can no longer condemn them; it no longer has authority over them.

Paul’s use of a passive verb (“were made to die”) indicates that believers don’t make themselves dead to the law; they were made dead to the law through a divine act.

The only provision for paying the penalty the law demands is the Lord Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.

To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians. 5:21).

The apostle repeated that truth in Galatians 2:19-20: “For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live to God.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

Prayer

Thank God that you are no longer under the law’s condemnation (Romans. 8:1).

Further Reading

Read Romans 3:20; Romans 7:12; Galatians 3:24-25. Since the law can’t save anyone, what is its purpose?

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Daily Devotional “Paying Sin’s Price”

Daily Devotional “Paying Sin’s Price”
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December 02, 2023

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Christ paid a debt He did not owe to free us from a debt we could not pay.

In the scientific realm there are universal laws, such as the law of gravity.

These laws are built into the creation by its all-wise Creator and keep it functioning normally.

Just as God has made inexorable laws to govern the physical dimension, so also has He decreed universal spiritual principles.

The most significant of those spiritual laws is that sin demands death; death is the wages sin pays.

The Greek word translated “wages” was commonly used to speak of giving compensation for service rendered.

When God sentences sinners to Hell, He is merely giving them the compensation that they have earned and that His justice demands.

In sharp contrast to the inexorable law of sin and death is the gracious “free gift of God”—“eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Eternal life is not a wage but a gift, and hence it can’t be earned.

Good works, church attendance, or religious rituals will not entitle anyone to it.

After recounting his religious credentials—credentials unsurpassed in first-century Judaism (Galatians. 1:14)—Paul dismissed them as “loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7).

The free gift of eternal life comes only through “Christ Jesus our Lord.” In Acts 4:12 Peter declared that “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”

And in John 14:6 Jesus said simply, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians. 9:15)!

Prayer

Have you lost touch with the reality that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans. 8:2)?
If so, spend some time in prayer today, thanking God for giving you eternal life.

Further Reading

What do the following passages teach about the possibility of earning eternal life: Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:11; Philippians 3:9; Titus 3:5?

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Daily Devotional “Believing in God”

Daily Devotional “Believing in God”
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November 16, 2023

“Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is” (Hebrews 11:6).

Nothing you do can please God apart from faith.

Throughout history, people have tried everything imaginable to gain favor with God.

Most turn to religion, but religion apart from Christ is merely a satanic counterfeit of the truth.

Many trust in their own good works, not realizing that even their best efforts are offensive to God (Isaiah. 64:6; Philippians. 3:8).

And the more we try to justify ourselves, the more we offend God, because “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Romans. 3:20).

Some trust in their family heritage or nationality.

The Jewish people thought they were pleasing to God simply because they were descendants of Abraham.

But John the Baptist warned them, saying, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham” (Matthew. 3:7-9).

Apart from faith, man cannot please God. And the first step of faith is simply believing God exists.

That isn’t enough to save a person—even the demons have that level of faith (James 2:19)—but it’s a start, and by God’s grace can blossom into full saving faith.

God has given ample evidence of His existence. Romans 1:20 says, “Since the creation of the world [God’s] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made.”

David said, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psalm. 19:1).

Creation itself proclaims the existence, power, and glory of God, yet most people “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans. 1:18) by rejecting the Creator and denying their accountability to Him.

Rather than bowing to the true God, they pay homage to “Mother Nature” or evolution. How foolish!

Prayer

•Praise God for the beauty of His creation.
•Worship Him as the giver of every good gift (James 1:17).

Further Reading

Read Romans 1:18-32. Is there a connection between denying God, practicing idolatry, and committing gross immoralities? Explain.

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Daily Devotional “Walking with God”

Daily Devotional “Walking with God”
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November 15, 2023

“Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:24).

Walking with God includes reconciliation, obedience from the heart, and ongoing faith.

When Scripture speaks of walking with God, it’s referring to one’s manner of life.

For example, Paul prayed that the Colossian believers (and us) would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so they could walk (live) in a manner worthy of the Lord (Colossians. 1:9-10).

To the Ephesians he said, “Walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind . . . [but] be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you” (Ephesians. 4:17; Ephesians 5:1-2).

The Old Testament describes Enoch as a man who walked with God.

Though relatively little is said about this special man, we can derive implications from his life that will help us better understand what it means to walk with God.

First, Enoch’s walk with God implies reconciliation. Amos 3:3 says, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (NIV).

Two people can’t have intimate fellowship unless they agree.

Obviously Enoch wasn’t rebellious toward God, but had been reconciled with Him through faith.

Second, walking with God implies loving service. Second John 6 says, “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments.”

We obey Christ, but our obedience is motivated by love, not legalism or fear of punishment.

Third, a godly walk implies continuing faith, “for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians. 5:7).

Colossians 2:6-7 adds, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith.”

By grace Enoch believed God and pleased Him all his life.

Do those who know you best see you as one who walks with God? I trust so.

After all, that’s the distinguishing mark of a true believer: “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6).

Prayer

Praise God for granting the reconciliation, faith, and love that enables you to walk with Him day by day.

Further Reading

What do the following verses teach about your Christian walk: Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 2:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; and 1 John 1:7?

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Daily Devotional “The First Disciple”

Daily Devotional “The First Disciple”
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November 13, 2023

“Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground.

And Abel . . . brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions.

And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard” (Genesis. 4:3-5).

True discipleship is characterized by obedience to God’s Word.

In John 8:31 Jesus issued an important statement to a group of people who were showing an interest in Him: “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.”

Sadly, they rejected His words, proving themselves to be less than true disciples.

Jesus went on to explain why: “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God” (v. 47).

They listened but didn’t really hear. They were interested but not truly committed.

They were hearers of the Word but not doers (James 1:22).

In contrast, Abel did what God told him to do. He was, in effect, the first disciple.

He was probably a better person than Cain—more friendly, moral, and dependable—but that’s not why God accepted his sacrifice and rejected Cain’s.

Abel trusted God, and his faith was counted as righteousness.

Like Abraham, whose faith was evidenced by his willingness to obey God and sacrifice his son Isaac (James 2:21-22), Abel’s faith was evidenced in his obedient offering.

He didn’t rely on his own goodness but acknowledged his sin and made the prescribed sacrifice.

Perhaps God indicated His acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice by consuming it with fire, as He did on other occasions in Scripture (Judges. 6:21; 1 Kings 18:38).

But whatever means He used, God made his pleasure known to Abel.

Abel’s brief life conveys a simple three-point message: we must come to God by faith; we must receive and obey God’s Word; and sin brings serious consequences.

If you hear and heed that message, you’ll walk the path of true discipleship and be assured of God’s pleasure.

Prayer

Make it your goal to please the Lord in everything you do today. Seek His wisdom and grace to do so faithfully.

Further Reading

Read these verses, noting what they say about pleasing God: 2 Corinthians 5:9; Ephesians 5:6-10; Philippians 2:12-13; Hebrews 11:6; and Hebrews 13:15-16, 20-21.

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Daily Devotional “Living Unselfishly”

Daily Devotional “Living Unselfishly”
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November 11, 2023

“If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth” (James 3:14).

A wise person lives for God and others, not for self.

Having characterized spiritual wisdom in the preceding verse, James begins to analyze worldly wisdom in verse 14.

Worldly wisdom is not of God. It has no relationship to Him, is not obedient to Him, and has no knowledge of His truth.

What is the motive of someone who lives according to worldly wisdom?

“Bitter jealousy and selfish ambition.” The Greek word translated “bitter” also means “harsh” and is used of bitter, undrinkable water.

“Bitter jealousy” carries the idea of a harsh, bitter self-centeredness that produces a resentful attitude toward others.

People with bitter jealousy live in a world that focuses on themselves.

They react in a jealous manner toward anyone who threatens their territory, accomplishments, or reputation.

They resent anyone who threatens to crowd their slice of this world.

They consider people who differ from them as implacable enemies.

And they are bitterly jealous of anyone who is successful.

The Greek term translated “selfish ambition” refers to a personal ambition that creates rivalry, antagonism, or a party spirit.

That’s another way of pointing to self. The person who follows human wisdom begins with a “bitter jealousy” that creates an attitude of competition and conflict.

Then “selfish ambition” generates a party spirit and bitterness toward others.

James is saying that ungodly wisdom is self-centered, and its goal is personal gratification at any cost.

What about you? Are you motivated by jealousy and selfish ambition? Be honest in your evaluation. Take a serious inventory of your heart and ask yourself, Am I serving others instead of fulfilling my own desires at the expense of others?

Prayer

•Ask God to convict you when you put yourself before Him and others.
•Repent of any present situations in which you are doing that very thing.

Further Reading

Read the following verses: Genesis 37:4; 1 Samuel 18:8; Luke 15:25-30; Luke 22:24.

•What was the sin in each example?
•Read and study 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 to learn how the qualities of love are opposite to human wisdom.

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