Church: Love One Another as God First Loved You

A church is made up of imperfect people, like you and me. It doesn’t matter what position you hold or role you play in your church body or how long you’ve been walking with the Lord, none of us achieve perfection this side of the Pearly Gates. When a brother or sister in Christ fall, it can be tempting to ostracize them, ridicule them, or banish them from our lives. After all, we don’t want to go hang around sinners now do we? The problem is, we’re all sinners. Being saved and becoming a Christian neither immunizes nor incubates us from sin. Such is not the nature of the world we inhabit.

As a Christian, I’ve made a conscious effort to walk a different road than the one I ventured down before I encountered Christ. Having a relationship with Christ makes me think about sin and view my shortcomings differently than before I knew Christ on a personal level. Yet, daily, I find myself dependent on the Holy Spirit to guide and direct my way. I don’t want anything to come between me and God. That doesn’t mean that nothing will be vying for my attention. To the contrary, it seems like the opportunities to mess up and fall amp up dramatically the more pronounced in my faith I become.

There’s a reason that the Apostle Paul urges us to put on the full armor of God every day. He understood better than most that ours is a daily battle to pursue the righteousness of God versus succumbing to the vices and devices of the Enemy. There’s a reason Scripture instructs us to be careful about assessing judgment on the words and deeds of others. It’s no accident that the Word emphasizes us to treat others like we would want to be treated.

Ephesians 6:10-12 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

When a brother or sister in Christ falls, they need our love, not our condemnation. Who can they rely on to love on them in the hour of their greatest need if not us? This is what it means to be family. We love one another because God first loved us while we were yet sinners. God demonstrated that love through the atoning sacrificial offering of His precious Son, Jesus Christ and He continues to show that love through the power of the Holy Spirit abiding in us.

As a friend of mine once encouraged me: If you find a perfect church, don’t start attending. You’ll just mess it up.

In the meantime, cast no stones.

Peace be with you.

Blessings,

The Devotional Guy™

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Psalm Saturday: Psalm 49 Devotional

In this wisdom psalm, reflecting on the problem that the prosperity of the wicked presents, the writer asserts that he will not fear the rich enemies threatening him. He sees that many ungodly people enjoy many material blessings. Despite their wealth, the writer observes that they are only men who, like everyone else, will die one day. The psalmist is confident that the Lord will vindicate the godly, protecting them from their oppressors. He concludes that the righteous are better off because they have a sure hope for the future. Psalm 49 is a reminder to those walking with God that the power and riches of wealthy men have their limits.

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Psalm 49

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.

1 Hear this, all peoples!

Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,

both low and high,

rich and poor together!

My mouth shall speak wisdom;

the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.

I will incline my ear to a proverb;

I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre.

Why should I fear in times of trouble,

when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,

those who trust in their wealth

and boast of the abundance of their riches?

Truly no man can ransom another,

or give to God the price of his life,

for the ransom of their life is costly

and can never suffice,

that he should live on forever

and never see the pit.

10  For he sees that even the wise die;

the fool and the stupid alike must perish

and leave their wealth to others.

11  Their graves are their homes forever,

their dwelling places to all generations,

though they called lands by their own names.

12  Man in his pomp will not remain;

he is like the beasts that perish.

13  This is the path of those who have foolish confidence;

yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah

14  Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;

death shall be their shepherd,

and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.

Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell.

15  But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,

for he will receive me. Selah

16  Be not afraid when a man becomes rich,

when the glory of his house increases.

17  For when he dies he will carry nothing away;

his glory will not go down after him.

18  For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed

—and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—

19  his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,

who will never again see light.

20  Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.

In the opening prelude, the psalmist exhorts everyone to listen to the message of his poem, both rich and poor alike. The message contained in this psalm applies to the wicked as well as the righteous. To appreciate wisdom, a person must have eyes to perceive it. Spiritual illumination helps us see the truth.

Employing a rhetorical question, the writer points out the foolishness of the wealthy opposing the godly, introducing the idea that the rich enjoy a false sense of security. Riches cannot lessen death’s sting. None of us are able to buy our ticket escaping death. The modern quest for celebrity attempts to circumvent the hard truth that no one is promised tomorrow by fashioning the illusion of living on beyond our earthly life. But fame, like riches, does not prevent the inevitable.

Marveling at the foolhardiness and pride of the wicked, the psalmist points out the idiocy of only living for the present and for one’s self-gratification. Apart from God, the one with the most toys in the end does not win. Only God can make a way for us to escape the chains of our grave. The psalmist urges the righteous to remember to trust in the Lord and the Lord alone for salvation.

Since God works all things for good, there is no need to be jealous of those who have more worldly possessions and material riches then we might possess. Their prosperity is only temporary. None of us can take our things with us when we leave this earthly life behind. The righteous, the writer declares, can depend on the Lord to help the righteous endure while the ungodly shall perish. Those who fear the Lord can expect to enjoy a glorious future everlasting.

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Who were the Sons of Korah?

Psalm 49 is one of eleven psalms credited to the Sons of Korah, a group formed into an Old Testament version of a worship team by King David and employing song and instrumental music to prophesy to the people. The Sons of Korah are a story of God’s redemptive grace and mercy, demonstrating that the Lord is willing and able to raise beauty from the ashes. Their father Korah, son of Kohath, participated in an uprising against Moses and Aaron, garnering God’s wrath and ending in the fiery death of Korah and his 250 compadres. While this marked the end of Korah and his service to the Lord, but God spared his sons. Even though Korah had rebelled against the Lord, God still had a plan and a purpose for Korah’s descendants.

After seven successive generations, the prophet Samuel arose from the line of Korah. The Korahites served as doorkeepers and custodians for the tabernacle. Another group of Korahites fought alongside King David in different military excursions, winning a reputation for being skillful warriors.

But by far the most remarkable achievement concerning the sons of Korah is that they became superfluous leaders in choral and orchestral music in the tabernacle, playing an important role in the thanksgiving services and pomp and circumstance centered on the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.

As modern believers, we can take comfort and gain confidence through the redemptive work that the Lord did in and through the lives of the Sons of Korah.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy and grace and your redemptive power. You can turn good from that which was intended to harm us. You can raise beauty from the ashes. You can redeem a wretch like me. Help me live not in fear or wallow in foolish comparisons, but to trust in You and look to You for wisdom and guidance. Let me live each day gratefully and with a zeal for sharing the Gospel, both through word and in deed. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Why Good Friday Matters

Tomorrow, March 30, 2018, is Good Friday. Kids all around the country will be out for school, enjoying an extra day to play with friends. Families around the globe will be shopping for chocolate, boiling eggs, and traveling in preparation for gatherings with loved ones. My German family members are gathering near Frankfurt, Germany to celebrate the Easter holiday. My uncle Rudiger and my cousin Oliver will be spending time with my Aunt Elke, Cousin Petra and her family. My cousin Andi is sure to be there also with his family. Here in Texas, my Sweet T and I will gather with her folks, Gary and Joyce and sister Sheri and brother David for lunch on Easter Sunday. Mom is spending Easter with friends. Many of us will spend the weekend at Easter Eve and Easter Sunday events.

Why does Good Friday Matter?

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Good Friday makes Easter possible. Without the events that took place on Good Friday over 2,000 years ago there can be no Empty Tomb to celebrate, no Resurrection to rejoice in. And yes, Easter, like Christmas, is a Christian religious holiday. At Christmas, Christians rejoice in commemorating the birth of our Lord Jesus. On Easter Sunday, we rejoice, because after His death on Friday, He rose from the grave on Sunday! Good Friday made that possible. Without Good Friday, there would be no rising to celebrate because there would have been no atoning death to rise from.

Good Friday matters because it is the day that the God of all Creation pulled off His plan of salvation through the shed blood of His precious Son on that renowned Cross at Calvary. On Good Friday, all of the promises and all the prophecies were fulfilled. God’s plan to redeem mankind from rebellion, rejection and separation became reality because Jesus, fully God and fully man, bore the punishment for all of our sins past, present, and future upon his Divine, yet human, shoulders. On Good Friday, Jesus completed his mission, carrying out the Father’s will and plan, making right that which had been made wrong.

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Good Friday matters because on that day, God’s grace and mercy rained down on all mankind, making possible the impossible, washing what had once been unwashable, making it whiter than snow. Good Friday matters because through Christ’s death on the Cross, you and I can take off our old clothes of unrighteousness and put on our new clothes of Christ’s righteousness.

 

Good Friday matters because on that day, long ago, God brought light out of darkness and made beauty out of ashes. On that day, Jesus’ blood ran red, defeating death, so we might claim the spoils of victory. On that day, God who sought us, bought us, giving the gift of eternal life for all who would hear, believe, and receive. Good Friday matters because from that day, all blessings flow.

Amen and amen. All praise and glory be to God.

Jesus is the reason for this season too.

Praying that your Easter is filled with love and joy, friends and family. Happy Easter!

Who do you say Jesus is?

Liar, Lunatic, or Lord

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 51-52.