What is ‘Devout’?

What is ‘Devout’?

Can you be called devout?  The definition of devout:  heartfelt; spiritual; fervent; pious; dedicated and committed.

When the Scriptures speak about someone who is devout, they are giving recognition and praise to such individuals. 

. . . a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.  (Ac 10:2)

Alms means donations, gifts, or offerings.  This verse from the Bible says a devout man gave donations and gifts generously to people, AND he prayed to God continuously.  That sounds very spiritually impressive, doesn’t it?

And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.  (Ac 2:5)

Notice that devout men (and women) can and should come from everywhere on the earth!

Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.  (Ac 13:43)

A proselyte is a person who has converted from one opinion, religion, or party to another.  These new converts followed Paul and Barnabas around, learning from them and wanting to spend time with them.  Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch where Paul’s teachings about Jesus were well-received by some of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. So, when Paul explains God’s salvation has come through Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, the listeners joyfully realize that formal worship in Jerusalem isn’t required or necessary. God will meet them wherever they are, and be with them without sacrifices of any kind.  

Paul and Barnabas encouraged these devout new converts to continue in the grace of God and to remain in His favor.  They encouraged the new believers to carry on in faith and prayer, and obedience which would be connecting with God’s favor. The “gospel” is called the grace (favor) of God, and the new converts were exhorted to persevere in their connection to the gospel by continuing in faith to trust in Jesus.

If we all would like to be categorized as devout, then we should continue in the grace of God also.  God bless you.

Purify Yourself as Unto the Lord

Purify Yourself as Unto the Lord

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.  (1 Joh 3:2-3 NKJV)

Just as the Lord is holy, He desires His children to live morally clean, wholesome lives guided by obedience to the Word of God. 

When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.  (Col 3:4)

If we live a life of Christian purity and devotion now, ‘when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we shall also appear with him in glory.’  This is a promise from God that shall absolutely be fulfilled. 

That’s why it’s crucial that we keep our relationship with the Lord Jesus in good shape and current by reviewing ourselves daily.  If we slip and commit sin, turn to the Lord in repentance, knowing that He forgives and provides repentance and the grace that we need to renew our commitment to holiness.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  (Rom 8:18)

Living obediently for the Lord has its certain rewards.  One day, we won’t even remember the pain and suffering that is a consequence of living on this sin-filled planet!  All of the pains that we receive from human frailties, betrayal, abuse or wickedness will be as nothing when compared with the glories that will be revealed in the future to all who believe in Christ.  Such glory is incomprehensible to us now but God promises that we will surely experience it.  Glory to God!

Instructions for Holy Living

Instructions for Holy Living

Today we’re taking note of the Bible’s helpful ideas about holy living.

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.  22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.  (2 Tim 2:20-26 NIV)

The passage above is talking about different kinds of people who all attend the same church.  Some are precious vessels of gold and silver who can withstand the fires of hardship, heartaches, or persecution.  Others are vessels of wood and earth which are fragile and soon destroyed in the flames of hardship and misfortune.

The people who constantly purify themselves by “being cleansed by the washing of the water of the word” (Eph 5:26 NASB)—reading and obeying God’s Word regularly—are set apart and made holy unto God.

We’re told to run away from the lusts of the flesh.  Instead, we should pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We need to be diligent to avoid unwise and reckless squabbles.  The Spirit of God instructs us to be kind to everyone, able to teach God’s ways to others, and that we should be thankful.  We are urged to treat our enemies gently by sharing God’s Word and wisdom with them, and in so doing, hope to bring them to salvation. 

Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.  (Tit 1:7 NIV)

The book of Titus reminds us that anyone in a place of authority should be virtuous and approachable.  We should not give in to human frailties such as intoxication; physical or verbal abuse; or chasing after or being corrupted by seeking wealth.

Keep away from worthless and useless talk. It only leads people farther away from God.  (2 Tim 2:16 CEV)

Avoid discussions that have no spiritual or eternal value, which can only alienate people from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

These are fairly easy to understand guidelines which are challenging to fulfill without the ongoing grace of God and our obedience to the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  God bless you!

A Light for the Nations

A Light for the Nations

Do you realize that Jesus is the Light for all Nations, and as His disciples and followers, WE are called to shine His light into all of the earth?

For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”
  (Act 13:47 NIV)

I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.  I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles . . .  (Isa 42:6 NIV)

For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”  (Lk 2:30-32)

How can you shine the light of God’s love and salvation into the world? 

  • By serving the Lord obediently and joyfully;
  • By sharing your testimonies of how you came to accept Christ as your Savior and about your answered prayers;
  • By praying for other people’s needs and asking God to bless them and to provide for them;
  • By testifying to the miracles, signs and wonders that God has performed for you; and
  • By living a holy lifestyle in obedience to the Scriptures.

Here is a passage from the Bible that gives us some answers:

Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.  (Phil 2:14-16, emphasis added)

God bless you!

Light Versus Darkness

Light Versus Darkness

Jesus warned His followers that they would have the light for only a little while longer.  We can judge for ourselves if we are living in the light or if we are living in darkness.  Let’s see what the Word of God says.   

If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness.  (1 Joh 2:9 NLT) 

If we catch ourselves disliking people or even hating them, we know that we’re operating in the dark.  May God give us His grace to walk in the Light of Jesus Christ.

But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.  (1 Joh 2:11 NLT) 

The verse above shows us what it’s like to have been blinded by darkness.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  (Tit 3:3 NIV)

The book of Titus, chapter 3 reminds us what we were like before we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior.  Titus urged his readers to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work,to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.  And then, verse 3 tells us that we were at one time disobedient, deceived, enslaved in sin, and living in malice and hatred. 

Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.  (Joh 12:35)

Jesus, our example and beloved Savior, reminds us to walk in the light while it is still available.  Those who walk in darkness don’t know where they’re going, and get off of the path of righteousness. 

One way to remain in the light is to read and to meditate upon the Word of God.  Another test of walking in the light is our obedience to the Scriptures:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  (Phil 4:8)  Let us be obedient to God by meditating upon these worthwhile and noble truths. Jesus told us:  “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  (Joh 16:33)  Trust in His overcoming light even when darkness seems to surround everything.  God bless you.

Reverence for the House of God

Reverence for the House of God

It pleases the Lord when we honor the place where He resides.  Since the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the “house of God” is any building or gathering place where two or more people assemble to study the Word of God, to teach others spiritual truths from the Bible, and to praise and worship the Lord. 

 ‘You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary: I am the Lord.’  (Lev 19:30)

Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.  (Eccl 5:1)

And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ” (Mt 21:13)

From these passages of Scripture we can recognize a number of truths.

The Lord tells us to reverence (respect; regard with awe) His sanctuary.  A sanctuary is a refuge, safe haven, or place of safety.  When we meet with fellow Christians to praise and worship God and to partake of His Word, we are in a place of safety and protection.  Our collective attitude of honor and respect contribute to the free flowing of the Holy Spirit to minister in our midst.

It isn’t a building that is the church—it is the people and the gathering of God’s people together that forms “the church.”  The sanctuary, the House of God, and the church are all synonymous terms.  Any place or building where God’s people gather together to give Him honor and praise can be understood to be “the church”; whether it’s an event room at a bowling alley, a rented meeting room in a hotel, or a family room in a private home.

The Word also reminds us to behave wisely as we enter into the meeting of the body of Christ.  How do we do that?  We “draw near to hear” with a heart full of obedience and true worship.

Lastly, the Scriptures remind us that the church is a “house of prayer” and that its main purpose is a spiritual one and not a monetary one.  God forbid that a body of believers would focus upon money instead of honoring God and His Holy Word.

It is very understandable that God would ask us to show honor and respect for any place where He meets with His people—all who call Him Savior and Lord.  Remember that GOD IS PRESENT when His people come together in His Name.  God bless you.

We Are His Offspring: His Children

We Are His Offspring: His Children

All who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord are children of God.  Here is what the Bible says.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name . . .  (Joh 1:12 NKJV)

For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, for we are also His offspring.  (Act 17:28 KJV)

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith . . . (Gal 3:26 NIV)

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.  (Rom 8:14 NIV)

The Father has loved us so much that we are called children of God. And we really are His children.  (1 Joh 3:1 NIV)

Characteristics of Children

  • In Christ, we are children of God through faith. As such, we are able to feel an affectionate, devoted, and respectful confidence in our Father God.
  • We know that we are greatly loved by our Father. We recognize that we are precious to Him.
  • We have a spirit of ready obedience to our Heavenly Father—because of our love for Him and His love for us. We have an earnest desire to obey Him because we trust that His plans for us are totally good and always in our best interests.

Advantages that Children Receive

  • We are in a loving relationship with our Father, and are continuously surrounded by His supernatural and miraculous favor.
  • We are forgiven, cleansed, and free from bondage.
  • We are entitled to fellowship and communion with our Father.
  • Our Father gives us wise counsel and teaching by the Holy Spirit.
  • Exceeding great and precious promises have been given to us by our Heavenly Dad. We are encouraged to “ask and receive so that our joy may be full.”

Trust God to pour out the benefits of salvation in Jesus Christ upon you.  Because we are His children, He invites us to turn to Him and ask Him for everything that we need.  Put away any timidity, and with loving trust and assurance, ask Abba Father to meet your needs right now.  God bless you.

Loving God’s Law

Loving God’s Law

Should we really love “God’s law” (synonymous with “God’s Word”)?  Yes, we should be devoted to God’s Word and regard it as precious to us.  This also means that we choose to live according to and in obedience to God’s Word.

Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.  (Ps 119:165)  In this verse, the word stumble means to be offended.  Studying God’s Word and obeying it will mature us spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.  What a beautiful blessing.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.  (Isa 26:3)  As we focus on the Lord and His love and goodness, He allows His peace to flow into us and to fill us with assurance. 

Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.  (Pro 3:17)  This verse is referring to Wisdom, and 1 Corinthians 1:24 reminds us that Christ is the wisdom of God!  The ways of Christ are peace-filled and pleasant.  Praise His Holy Name!

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.  (1 Joh 5:3)  This verse reminds us that when we love God, we obey His Word—and do not consider His Word difficult or oppressive.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.  10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.  (Ps 19:8-10)  This passage from the Bible points out that God’s Word blesses us in many ways.  It:

  • Gives us joy,
  • Illuminates concepts of faith for us, and
  • Is better than gold and sweeter than honey for us.

The entire 119th Psalm is all about God’s Word and how it is a blessing to all who love it and obey it.  Study this Psalm and seriously meditate upon its riches.  God bless you!

Ponder the Voice of the Lord

Ponder the Voice of the Lord

Today, we’re going to study the importance of the Voice of the Lord.  We posted an article three and a half years ago on this topic, but since it’s of vast importance, it is worthwhile to investigate again.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders; the Lord is over many waters.  (Ps 29:3)  ~ God controls everything in creation, including every body of water, no matter how large or small!

“If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”  (Ex 15:26)  ~ Obedience to the voice of the Lord attracts God’s blessings.  God states that He is our healer, and that is addressing physical healing.

“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.”  (Deu 28:1)  ~ As we obey God’s voice, He responds by giving us protection from and power over our enemies; blessings in our children, food, and livestock; prominence over other nations; and abundant prosperity.  (See Deu 28:1-14)

The Lord also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake; but the Lord will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel.  (Joel 3:16)  ~ The Lord shelters and becomes a refuge for ALL who will yield to and obey His mighty voice.

His voice is unique in that ALL of creation recognizes it as the sound of the Creator God, the Supreme Being, the Lord of Lords.

And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!  (Rev 19:6)  ~ The voice of the Lord is the voice of the Lord God Omnipotent!

Pay attention to and choose to obey the voice of the Lord, and you shall surely be blessed.

How to Deal With Offenses

How to Deal With Offenses

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  (Ps 32:1)

The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.  (Pro 19:11)

But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  (Mat 6:15)

Some synonyms for the word OFFENSE are:  crime; wrongdoing; transgression; insult; affront; barb; attack; sin; or assault.

When we offend someone, whether intentionally or unintentionally, it is crucial for us to seek to understand how it happened, and to try to soothe and calm the situation.  This can only happen through the grace and wisdom of God.  The Lord will help us and support us with His guidance so that we may work through these situations.

Seek the Lord and pray for His wisdom and guidance in dealing with any offense that you have committed.  Ask the Lord to forgive you, and ask Him to give you wisdom, and also ask Him for divine favor with the person whom you have offended. 

Go to the person that you’ve offended and ask them to forgive you.  Be sincere in your apology, and remain contrite during any discussion so that the person may see that you are truly seeking reconciliation.  Try, as discreetly as possible, to understand what exactly gave offense because you seriously don’t want to repeat it.

If you are the person who is offended, think about what happened and determine what specifically made the exchange offensive or hurtful to you.  Take it to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to heal the wound and to give you His grace to forgive the person who offended you.  He is the Prince of Peace and will bring His peace to your situation and to the relationship if you will put it in His hands.

If the person asks to meet with you, agree to it.  When they ask you to forgive them, do it as unto the Lord.  If the person isn’t a Christian or doesn’t seek reconciliation, then it’s a matter best handled between you and the Lord.  You can forgive and release that person from their offense, and the Lord will see your heart and your sincerity.  He will bless you for your obedience to His Word.  (Ps 32:1; Pro 19:11; Mat 6:15)

We keep short accounts by reviewing the day’s events in the evening.  In a quiet time with the Lord, determine if there are any offenses that you committed and if any were committed against you.  Try to deal with them as quickly, Biblically, and wisely as possible. 

It’s vital that we live in such a way that we don’t give offense to others because in 1 Corinthians 10:32 and 2 Corinthians 6:3 we’re instructed to be inoffensive to all