Day #10: Choose!

"Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I will also disown him before My Father in heaven."

Matthew 10:32-33, NIV


The setting for the statement by Christ is this: He has just gathered His new apostles, twelve in number, and is sending them out to preach to the lost sheep of Israel that the kingdom is at hand. The covenant is to be changed with Christ's death on the cross, and there will have to be a decision made: Will they acknowledge Christ as their Savior or will they continue in their sin and be lost?


The reason that we are taking the time to read the New Testament, every day, is because it reveals the truth about our existence here on earth, and our debt that we owe to Jesus. We have a short period of time - our life - to choose whether to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, to accept all of the terms of His covenant (found in the New Testament) and to live for Him. Those who fail to acknowledge Him, even those who do at first, only to disown Him later, will be lost. Those who do acknowledge Him, even those who failed to do so at first, and live the rest of their lives for Him according to the instruction of His Father, will be saved.


That instruction is found within the pages of the New Testament. We also need to read and study the Old Testament, for it contains the true history of man, the prophesies of Christ, and all of the things that we can know about God, from his holiness and love, to his rewards for the faithful and punishments for the unfaithful. But the Good News of Jesus is something we all must obey and, therefore, something we must all read and consider carefully.


In short, we must choose!


Today's reading is the 10th chapter of Matthew. I pray that you will read it, think carefully about it, and act upon it. The Word of God has the power to change your life, but you must first know what it says, and then choose to do it.

Day #9: Which is easier?

Then behold, they brought Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you." And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, "This Man blasphemes!" But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier to say, Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, arise and walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins" - then He said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." And he arose and departed to his house.

Matthew 9:2-7, NKJV


I believe one of the most serious problems to arise from the worldwide pandemic of the past year has been the loss of focus for many on the most important things. While it is true that the virus that has occupied the world's thoughts has been serious enough and many have indeed died from it, I believe it is nothing compared to the spiritual toll that it has taken. Now, I don't want to discount the fact that many people have drawn closer to God during this time, but many have also moved farther away. Each man will answer for his own deeds, and the question of whether you have moved closer or farther away from God must be answered on an individual basis.


So, the purpose of this devotional today is not one of judgment of others, it is one of introspection. Which have you found to be easier? To think about spiritual things, or physical? Hopefully, we are an intelligent people. We can "walk and chew gum" at the same time, so we can seek both the physical and the spiritual in our lives as well. But having viewed the anger and turmoil that so much of the world is experiencing at the present, it does make one wonder if this great focus on our physical well being has in ways diminished the more important focus on our spiritual health.


Which has been easier for you? To worry about your physical health, or to do something about your soul? It's something worth thinking about.


Today's reading is from the 9th chapter of Matthew. It shows how perfectly Jesus handled the physical and the spiritual and is a model for us all.

Day #8: The Storms of Life

"Then He got in the boat and His disciples followed Him. Without warning, a furious storm came upon the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke Him, saying, 'Lord, save us! We're going to drown!'  He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm." 

Matthew 8:23-26, NIV


Do you get the feeling that we are in the midst of a storm? I think that many people feel that very way but, like Jesus' disciples of old, don't know what to do. The famous phrase that comes from this event, "ye of little faith" probably applies as much to us, at times, as it did to Jesus' disciples two thousand years ago. But, note the cure for this lack of faith: Turn to the Lord for help!


As have all peoples in all times of history, we have been given our share of storms. It shouldn't surprise us that there are storms in life, for they are part of God's test. The wonderful thing about this test is that we can always call on God for His assistance. He may not always calm the storms in the exact way that we would prefer, but He will always calm our souls, if we will let Him.


It's something worth thinking about, during times like these.


Today's reading is from the 8th chapter of Matthew. Read it. Think about it. Get a lesson from it and carry that lesson with you throughout the day. The Word of God has healing qualities, but they only work if you use them. I pray that God will richly bless your efforts as you seek to draw closer to Him through His word.

Day #7: Has God Gone Back on His Promises?

"Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find, knock, and the door will be opened."

Matthew 7:7, NKJV


There's a lot to take in, for a Christian today. Yesterday we witnessed the beginning of a new era in America... an era that I don't believe many will enjoy. It is easy to become discouraged, especially for those who are accustomed to dealing with people who have integrity. I don't believe there are many people left in government who have that particular trait. Since I believe that, I am preparing for the worst, physically, but for the best, spiritually.


That may seem strange until you truly consider the promise above. It was uttered by Christ, therefore it is absolute. I know many of you have been praying that evil men would not succeed in their evil deeds, and now you may feel let down because it may appear that they have succeeded. But don't forget this important aspect of prayer: God's will!


Think back to Jesus' prayer in the garden. He prayed that if it was God's will that "this cup be taken from Me". The cup given to Him at that time was death on the cross. But Jesus did suffer death on the cross, so did God fail to answer Christ's prayer? The answer is obvious: God did answer that prayer, for Jesus prayed that God's will be done.  As we now know from history, it was God's will that Jesus be crucified at that time that our sins might be forgiven. So Jesus wanted one thing: That the cup be taken from Him if it was God's will. In effect, Jesus asked and it was given to Him. He sought God's will and found it. Jesus was not let down by God at all - His prayer was answered.


Now look at the present situation. Evil men with evil intent have appeared to have got away with their evil plans... but have they really? For have we not been praying for God's will at the same time we have been praying for wicked men not to succeed? It may have appeared at the time that wicked men succeeded by killing Jesus, but it actually turned out to be a victory for all who believe in Christ.


The uncertain events of the various times on this earth are no different. If evil men are given power for a moment in time, it does not mean that God's will is not being done. It may very well be that a complacent church in America ushered in these wicked men. No less than a supreme court justice said recently that we were too quick to give up our rights, and he was right! Notice how many Christians and how many churches have "eased back" on their service to the Lord for "health concerns". How ironic that people would try to save their physical health, while at the same time committing spiritual suicide.


Think about that for a moment: Thousands of churches gave up meeting together... for their health! That's like a young man or woman giving up their virtue to save their purity.  Life just does not work that way. So, if you are concerned about the illegal and unconstitutional events of recent days, that is all well and good! But don't act as if God has somehow reneged on His promises. It is just as true today as it was yesterday: Ask and it will be given, seek and you will find.


Unfortunately, I believe what we have "found" is that there is a price to pay for unfaithfulness to God. The question is: "What will we do about it."


Today's reading is from the 7th chapter of Matthew. It contains great hope for those who will embrace the truth's contained in this portion of God's Word.


Day #6: Why Even Bother to Pray?

"Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

Matthew 6:11-13, NKJV


I know a lot of people wonder why they should take the time to pray. They look around this evil world and see evil men getting away with evil plans and they are tempted to think that somehow God has let them down - so why even bother to pray?


Maybe the reason that God wants us to pray is, in part, because there are evil men with evil intentions. They need to be stopped, but why should God stop them if we won't even take a few moments to acknowledge His sovereignty and His power and humbly request His help. Maybe He wants us to remember that our sole reason for being here is to serve Him. Maybe He wants us to realize that we don't even eat, not even for a single day, except for the food He has provided.


Maybe He wants us to forgive others because we personally know how valuable that the forgiveness is that He provides for us. Maybe He wants us to pray to be delivered from temptation, every single day, because we struggle with temptation to sin , every single day.


There are probably a lot of things we do not know about God's reasons for commanding us to pray every day, but we do know that He does indeed command us to pray each day. Maybe days like this particular one will help us to understand a little better. Today, in our nation, there will be an attempt to certify a new President. This despite more than a thousand sworn statements from witnesses in a half a dozen states stating that cheating and fraud occurred. Maybe God wants us to ask Him to intervene on important matters like that.


The reason we pray, for things ranging in importance from our families eating today, to corrupt men being thwarted in their corruption, is this: God truly is in control. He is the only One who not only knows exactly what to do, but who also has the power to do it. So, if you have been trying to go it alone perhaps today is a good time to begin to pray for the things that only our Creator can provide.


Or, we could continue to try it on our own. We see where that has gotten us, don't we?


Today's reading is from the 6th chapter of the Book of Matthew. It is a continuation of the greatest sermon ever preached, by the greatest One to ever preach.