The Gift of Jesus

The Gift of Christ Devo

Daily Reading: (Luke 2:7-8, Matthew 2:11):

“And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.”

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

Way back in Genesis, God proved Himself generous, creating a world of abundance, then choosing Abraham to become the father of the many nations through whom He would show His blessings to the whole Earth. When Abraham’s children had become an entire nation, God rescued them from captivity in Egypt. He provided for their daily needs and gave them a Law to live by and a rich bountiful land in which to live.

Throughout the Old Testament, with few exceptions, God’s people rejected Him and preferred a king they could see. Mankind has continued the pattern Israel set through centuries: We reject the eternal, invisible, immortal, only wise King and desire to rule ourselves. But God loves us, despite all this. Instead of abandoning us or retaliating against us, He offers us a gift, the best gift that has ever been given: His Son, crucified and raised to life again. And He promises He will reign over us in an eternal kingdom that is far better than any of us could ever ask for or imagine. 

The first chapter of the book of John tells us that Jesus came, God is with us. He was with God in the beginning. He was God from the beginning (John 1:1). Everything was created through Him, and life and light belong to Him. He came to Earth to give that light to us (John 1:9). But the people He, Himself, had created did not recognize Him. Most didn’t receive Him (John 1:11-12). Yet to those of us who do receive Him, He gives us the right to enter His family forever, to become children of God (John 1:12; Galatians 3:26; 1 John 5:13), even to reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12).

The gift of Jesus meets all of the criteria for being a perfect gift. Jesus is the perfect gift because God gave Him knowledge of our needs. God knew we needed a Savior, a Deliverer, Redeemer, Healer, and Friend. We needed someone who was fully God and fully man. Only Jesus could meet this need.

Being fully God enabled Jesus to carry our sin. His deity enabled Him to be the Sacrifice who could bear the sin of the world along with the penalties of sickness, poverty, and spiritual death. Being fully human allowed Jesus to identify with what we go through, enabling Him to provide for all of our needs and desires and to care for us in any situation.

Jesus also became our substitute. We owed a debt we could not pay, and Jesus paid a debt He did not owe. Because of Jesus, you and I have freedom. If our greatest need had been more information, technology, money, or pleasure, God would have sent us someone who would have met those needs. God would have sent an educator, a scientist, an economist, or an entertainer. The truth is, our greatest need was redemption, and God sent a Redeemer. God who knows our needs, met our needs in abundance as He sent the perfect Gift.

Even though we don’t deserve and could never earn the gift that Jesus gave to all who believe in Him of everlasting life, God freely gave Jesus to us. God’s love for us in Christ never fades, diminishes, or weakens. God’s love for us remains consistent and continually available.

Jesus is the gift to be received today and every day of your life. The greatest gift you could ever give someone else is to share the love of God, Jesus Christ with them today. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Merry Christmas!

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Love

Love Devotional

Daily Reading: (1 John 2:3):

“We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands.”

1 John 2:3 has brought some to a place of fear instead of receiving God’s love. “If we keep his commands”, but what if I don’t? Reading this in this way will draw a person into law-based dos and don’ts living in fear life.

“We have come to know Him”, the fruit reveals the tree, and those who know Him are the ones who are enabled to follow His Word.

Genuine obedience “keeping His commands” follows trust, which is always based on love. If you trust Jesus but are still worried about your obedience to His commands found in 1 John 2:3 then don’t stop with this single verse, simply keep reading more. In the preceding verses, John will lay a sure and secure foundation of God’s love for you. It is wonderful when we look at the context of 1 John 2:3 because it will not leave you in fear but will bring such peace to your heart. 

In the New Covenant, obedience follows trust, and we trust Him because we know Him, or another way to say this is we have experienced and received His love for us through Christ. However, someone with an Old Covenant mindset reverses the order: “If you wish to know him, you must keep his commandments.” Perversely, this mindset will have the very opposite effect as it will cause you to trust in yourself while alienating you from Christ (Galatians 5:4).

As we move to the next verse, we can struggle even a little more.

“The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).

The insecure believer will read this verse as a threat. An incorrect Old Covenant view will think, “I better do what Jesus commands or else I am not really a Christian. The Gospel truth is that Christianity is not about impersonating Jesus. Christianity is Christ in us (Galatians 2:20).  What John is telling us in verse 4 is that if you don’t have Christ, you can’t reveal Christ.

Your salvation is not based on what you do or don’t do for God. It’s based on whether He knows you. To better understand this truth, take a minute to read the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23. God wants you not your works.

“But whoever obeys His word, truly in this person the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in him. The one who says he resides in God ought Himself to walk just as Jesus walked (1 John 2:5-6 NET).

What we learn from John in verses five and six is that obedience is a fruit not a root. It’s a natural by-product of being connected to Jesus the Vine and allowing Him to live his life through you. Since Jesus is the Word of God (1 John 2:14), to keep His Word is to keep trusting Jesus (Revelation 3:8).

Let’s look even closer at 1 John 2:5 to focus on two verbs:

1.  Our word-keeping (also known as obedience)
2.  God’s love perfecting

Which comes first? Is it our word-keeping that brings God’s love perfecting us or is it the other way around that God’s perfect love perfects us to obedience?

“This is how we know God’s love has done its perfect work in us – we keep His word.” God’s love always comes first. John will say it again in 1 John 4:19: “We love, and walk, and keep His commands, and do everything, because he first loved us.”

The question to ask is, “Who abides in Jesus?” The answer is everyone who confesses Jesus as the Son of God abides in Him (1 John 4:15). You have a union life with Jesus and nothing can change that. If you remain unsure of your position in Christ, you will be anxious and unsettled. You’ll be tempted to pursue dead works in a futile attempt to improve your situation. What John’s desire for us is that we know that Jesus holds us securely in His hand (John 10:28). When we know this, we’ll be able to relax and “live deeply in Christ” (1 John 2:24). Receiving and abiding in God’s love is the foundation for everything in our Christian walk.

Let’s progress to our next verses in 1 John 2:7-8:

“Beloved, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:7-8).

Your primary identity is not “lover of God” but that you are “beloved of God” You cannot be a lover of God unless you know you beloved by God.

The new commandment John writes is sometimes referred to as the law of Christ by Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:21, Galatians 6:2.

What is the law of Christ? 5 words break it down for us, “as I have loved you.”

John heard the message from Jesus. He called it “His commandment” (1 John 3:23) or a “new commandment” (1 John 2:8). We don’t love one another to become the children of God; we love because we are the children of the God-who-is-love (1 John 4:8). As we receive our Father’s unqualified love, we are able to love as Jesus has loved us.

What is the law of Christ? The law of Christ is the power of God that brings healing and restoration to all who receive His love. It is the grace to be loved and to love others in return.

The switch comes in the audience John is addressing in verse nine through eleven.

“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them” (1 John 2:9-11).

John is not talking about Christians at all. He is describing sinners apart from Christ whose minds have been darkened with hatred (1 John 2:9).

When we place what we have read and learned together this is the summary of John’s writing to this point: “When we allow the love of God to take root in our hearts, we find it easy to trust and obey Jesus (verses 3 and 5). As we allow Jesus to express His life through us, we begin to walk and talk like Jesus (verse 6) and we overflow with love for our brothers and sisters (verse 10).

Joy in Jesus

Joy Devo

Daily Reading: (Philippians 1:3-6):

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Joy is a central theme in the book of Philippians. There are 15 explicit references to some form of either the noun “joy” (chara in Greek) or the verb “rejoice (chairo) in this short letter.

In Hebrew, the number 15 signifies a new direction. The number 15 in Hebrew, is “Yod Hey,” is a symbol of the inspiration that comes from the Holy Spirit, and this inspiration gives a new meaning to life and makes way for a new direction. Joy is what has been given to every believer in Jesus Christ. The number five is the number for grace and with fifteen being a multiple of five, fifteen implies salvation, healing, redemption, ascending, and fullness. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Paul writes 15 explicit references to a form of joy in this letter as he would also list 15 spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ in Ephesians 1.

The world tells you to pursue happiness but the difference with happiness from joy is that happiness is dependent upon what happens to us. One minute you can be happy, but the next minute when something bad happens where did my happiness go? Joy is different from happiness because joy does not depend on what is happening in my world in order for me to be joyful. Joy says God is in control of my circumstances. Our joy comes from and flows out of our relationship with God. Joy is a choice with the by-product of joy being peace. As I look to and spend time with Jesus, I enter rest, as I trust and delight in Him, and I find that joy abounds, overflows, is given to me in super abundance.

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:3-6).

When things are not going so well for Paul (he is in prison as he writes this), one of the things he does is he thinks about what God is doing through the lives of others and it causes Paul to thank God every time he does it. Thanksgiving in Paul’s prayers results in his prayers being full of joy (Philippians 1:3-4).

What is joy? The Hebrew word for joy is defined as cheerfulness, calm delight, and gladness.

Here in verses 12 and 14 of Philippians chapter one: “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the Gospel. When you see your trial as a future testimony, you can rejoice in knowing God can use it for the Kingdom.  “And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the Gospel without fear.”

What is it that brings calm delight to your life? For Paul it was brothers and sisters in Christ, which is wonderful. For you it might be your family that leads you to give thanks and brings you to a place of joyful prayers. Think about Jesus. No matter what we go through we just need to be reminded of who we are in Christ, and what is ours in Christ. That is why later in the same letter Paul says the following: “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

If it were not for Paul’s prison time, we wouldn’t have much of the New Testament. His imprisonment had purpose and great value, it has been helping believers for centuries and many have been saved because of the things that Paul wrote in this letter to the Philippians that the Holy Spirit has used time and time again. 

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). I believe that verse 6 is also key to bringing us calm delight. Often in my life when I feel pressure, stressed, and not very joyful it is because something has happened that has brought me to a place where I start to doubt whether I am going to be able to accomplish at I think I need to do. When you put your trust in God that nothing will stop the work of God in your life, this will lead you to rejoice always. The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. This is because you have put your confidence not in your ability, or in the apparent favorableness of your circumstances that are always changing. What you have done is you recognize He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion. God has ordained special things in your life that you will get to be a part of that He will also complete. Sometimes we will experience some prison-like situations because the trials reveal the genuineness of our faith, which brings praise, honor, and glory to God. Our trials allow the testimonies to come forward and for others to hear and believe the Gospel message. So, rejoice that you are in Christ and He is doing a good work in your life.

Prepared

Prepared Devo

Daily Reading: (1 Peter 1:13): “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

How do we become prepared and what is the outcome of a heart that is prepared? The word “prepare” is found 159 times in the Old and New Testament. There are so many verses that show the importance of this word. When it comes to preparedness let’s read the words written from a man who doesn’t want to wait for Jesus to get to the boat, he wants to walk on water to Him. A man who was ready to fight when the guards came to arrest Jesus. The disciple whose strength at times was also his weakness, in that h was the same one who denied Jesus three times and fled, but also was the first to preach after being filled with the Holy Spirit and three thousand people were added to the church. Now that Peter is Spirit-filled he writes the following: 1 Peter 1:13 “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

“Preparing your minds for action” a literal translation is having girded up the loins of your mind. It’s an image of a person wearing flowing garments who will tuck those garments into his belt so that he can run and move about freely and quickly without tripping over his clothes. Girding the mind is a means to hoping fully in grace. What is the mind to be doing so actively that it produces hope? The answer is truth. Hope happens when our minds are girded up with truth, and active in truth. We discover this from the next verse. “Do not be conformed to your former lusts which were yours in ignorance.” The reason we were once led along by all kinds of lusts instead of being led by hope in grace is because our minds were “in ignorance.” So if we want hope to flourish in our hearts, we must gird up the loins of our minds with truth instead of ignorance. Girding up the mind in truth and letting it be active in truth is the means of sustaining full hope in God’s grace.

Peter tells us what the object of the hope is the grace of God which is Jesus Christ.John 1:14: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.”God’s delight is not what you can perform for Him with your strength; His delight is that you hope in what He can perform for you with His strength. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”  Hope fully”. Give way entirely to the experience of hope. Be fully carried away with hope. If you hold back hope from grace, you hold back glory from grace. Show the world that grace is all-satisfying. It will meet your every need.“What does it mean to be ready to make a case for your hope from 1 Peter 3:15? We gain insight into the answer when we go to the words of Jesus who taught this very same thing to His disciple Peter who wrote these words. In the last week of Jesus’ life, Jesus warned His disciples, in Luke 21:12, that unbelievers would persecute them and hand them over to prison and bring them before kings and governors. Then He says, “This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on how to make your case. For I will give you a mouth and wisdom which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict” (Luke 21:14). Now at first, it sounds as if Peter forgot what Jesus taught him.

Peter: “Always be ready to make a case for your hope”(1 Peter 3:15). Jesus: “Don’t meditate beforehand on how to make a case for your hope”(Luke 21:12-14).

This makes the question all the more crucial. How are we to get ready and stay ready to make a case for our hope? The clue is found in 1 Peter 3:15 in the relationship between the phrase “be ready” and what comes just before it in the text. Literally, there is no verb in the phrase “be ready” or “be prepared.” You can see that in the King James Version and the New American Standard Bible because the word “be” or “being” is in italics. So literally Peter said, “Reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts, (and in that way) you will always be ready to make a case for your hope.”  How shall you not fear when the path of righteousness seems to lead to scary places? Answer: Reverence the Lord Christ in your heart, and your fear will be replaced with hope. How shall you always be ready to make a case for your hope? Answer: Reverence the Lord Christ in your heart, and you will always have a reason to give for why you are hopeful.

This is Such Good News Why Don’t More Spread the Good Word? The reason why so many believers don’t testify about the reality of the hope they have in Christ is that they don’t feel very hopeful. And if our hearts are not full of hope in the promises of Christ, then when an occasion arrives to make a case for our hope, we won’t because we don’t hope anchored in Christ.

What this means, then, just as the text says, is that the way to get ready to make a case for your hope is to get hopeful (1 Peter 3:15). When we spend time with our Savior, we leave with a renewed and lively hope in God’s promises, and we will be ready to make a case for our hope.  

Hope

Hope Devo

Daily Reading: (Romans 15:13):

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

What does it look like to put your hope in God?

When you are troubled and disturbed in your soul, putting your hope in God looks like praising Him in the storm (Psalm 42:11). The Hebrew word for praise means to give thanks. So, we put out hope in God as we give Him thanks even while our soul is still troubled. We are able to give God thanks because He is my Savior, He is my God. This leads us beautifully into our next Scripture verse.

“May the God of hope” Paul writes in Romans 15:13, when you think about who God is, of all the wonderful attributes associated with God, all powerful, all-knowing, omnipresent, I think one of the most often-overlooked attributes is that He is the God of hope. If you are not very hopeful in some area of your life, if something is causing you to despair, to be troubled, bring whatever hopeless thing you have to the God of hope and you will be filled with joy and peace (Romans 15:13). Jesus would say about God the Father in Matthew 19:26, “with God all things are possible.” It should be pretty clear He is the God of hope.

When we know of God as the great object of our hope that He is the God of hope it is what fills us with joy and peace.

Where does our hope come from? 

Romans 15:13 gives us the answer: “May the God of hope/(elpis)” Elpis in the Greek means author of hope. So, hope comes from God.

Why does putting your hope in God cause your soul to no longer be troubled? The answer is found in Romans 15:13 but also in Psalm 119:114.

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your Word” (Psalm 119:114).

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him” (Romans 15:13a).

The word “may” is not found in the original translation of the text. Instead, the word is perisseuō to make to abound, to be in abundance.

It is not that you may or may not abound in hope, it is you will abound in abundance with hope as you trust in God and it is a work of the Holy Spirit to help bring you to the place of overflowing hope (Romans 15:13).

How can you have hope (elpis)– an expectation of good, when you have bad news? How can you expect good out of bad? Trust in God.

What does Romans 15 look like in a real-world example?

Years ago, I met weekly for lunch with local pastors. At one meeting we were discussing how difficult Monday mornings can be for any pastor. One pastor shared with the group how the previous Sunday service was incredible, there was so much joy and peace. After everyone left the pastor walked to the back of the Sanctuary and the VBS sign-up list had only one name on it, his wife’s name. He said to us, “I was so discouraged.” Another pastor asked, “what do you do about it? It’s not like you can offer Vacation Bible School for kids of all ages with only one volunteer.”

Moments like that can be discouraging, not hopeful. You can look at that sign-up list over and over again and the names won’t magically appear. The answer to our hopeless, depressing situation is Romans 15. God is the author of hope. Trust in Him. If you are short on volunteers for VBS, take it to God, trust that He will provide what you need, and it might begin with wisdom. As the power of the Holy Spirit sets your spiritual eyes on Jesus you will be filled beyond the brim with a sense of joy, peace, and abounding in hope even when the situation remains the same. God will always give you what you need for the thing He is calling you too. At the next pastors’ meeting we asked about the VBS situation again. The pastor smiled and said, “the members of the congregation were having such a wonderful time receiving God’s love in the worship service they forgot all about the VBS sign-up. The calls came into the church the next day asking the secretary to sign them up to volunteer. It turned out we had more than enough volunteers.”

Protected and Brought Safely Home

Protected

Daily Reading: (2 Timothy 4:18):
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly Kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
To get some context of what Paul is going through when he writes to his young protégé Timothy, we just need to back up a couple of verses to verse 16 where he writes about being on trial because of his faith.
“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth” (2 Timothy 4:16-17).
During the formation of the early church, there were times where thousands were added to their numbers daily. Miracles happened and the Word of God spread in places like the valley of Sharon where for thirty miles everyone believed.  “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you! Get up and put away your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up, and all who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord” (Acts 9:34-35).
So, when we read 2 Timothy 4 and Paul writes, “no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me”, of all the believers who came to believe from Paul, Peter, and others sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, not a single person came to support Paul. Not one! Paul is not exaggerated here. This is great news because it leads to the conclusion that Paul wasn’t rescued or delivered or enabled to complete the task because people came, he can confidently declare “it was the Lord who rescued me, it was the Lord who strengthened me.” There will be times in your life, when no one can help you, but that is alright, the only one who could ever rescue you to begin with is the Lord, and His protection is over you all the time and He will give you the strength you need for whatever it is that you face.

Jesus was also forsaken in His trials; (Matthew 26:56). In this moment of weakness, for Paul to respond with this kind of grace, where does it come from? It comes from Jesus. May it not be held against them, this is the very example of Christ in Paul. As Jesus would ask for forgiveness for the very ones fighting over his clothes at the crucifixion (Luke 23:34).

No one came, “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.” Life is a journey where some things you will face, you will feel all alone in it, know that the Lord stands at your side and He will give you His strength. That’s all you need. The Lord has promised that He will never leave you, He will give sufficient grace for the trials you go through. In the trials is where the testimony becomes, God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness.”

“But (here is the turning point) the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.” Our strength is found the Lord who is always at my side (2 Timothy 4:17). The presence of Jesus is of far more worth than the presence of all our friends put together.
The trials you will go through have a purpose. Paul identifies the purpose of the trial, “through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.”  The next thing Paul writes is that he
“was delivered from the lion’s mouth”. Scholars have debated whether Paul was referencing real lions in the amphitheater (1 Corinthians 15:32) or if he was talking about Nero here? Nero throughout history was compared to a lion on many occasions. Maybe it was both. The point is Paul was rescued so that I might have this very opportunity before me with a captive audience of people from all around the world to preach the Gospel.

 “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:18). This doesn’t mean that Christians on this planet would not be killed by evil attacks. That is obviously not the case. Did you know that Paul will be killed shortly after writing this? What Paul is saying here is found in tandem with the and portion of the statement.
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly Kingdom.
By the time this letter hits Timothy’s hands Paul might already have died because we know that Paul will die in the persecution of Nero, but Paul already knows this too. 2 Timothy 4:6: “For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come.” Whether I live or I die, God is faithful and He is at my side through it all.  Some could quickly jump to the conclusion that God abandoned Paul. You are preaching the Gospel, look at where it got you, you are in prison about to die.  But Paul is setting the record straight that in my most intense moments when no person supported me, I can tell you God is with me. He is at my side and He gives me great strength to face whatever may come.

Whatever may come, my salvation is secure in Jesus (2 Timothy 4:18). You and I will be kept safe in order that we might fulfill all the plans God has for us, and in the end, we will be brought safely into His heavenly Kingdom.

Restoration

Daily Reading: (John 10:10):

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Jesus did not come only to free us from sin or to give us a new nature. He came to give us a new life which includes other wonderful things too. When we preach the Gospel, we are telling people about the new life that Jesus offers to all. “But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out, saying, “Go, stand in the temple courts and tell the people the full message of this new life” (Acts 5:20). 

God never gives us anything bad (James 1:17) meaning that God does not give us sickness, diseases, or any other sort of physical afflictions. Satan is the one who wants to steal from your health. He wants to destroy God-given dreams, dismantled families and friendships. He lies to you to destroy you because he knows there is a call and purpose on your life that is only for you. Our Lord Jesus said He came that we “may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” The Greek word used for life is zoe, and it refers to the highest form of life, the life God lives by. He does not want you to simply keep breathing. He wants you to live a long, satisfying life, full of His goodness, wholeness, and peace.

The question I get asked from time to time is now that the devil has robbed something from me, what do I do now?  The answer was always a part of John 10:10, “the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but…. I have come so you might have life, and have it to the full.” The restoration to abundant life that you seek is found in Jesus.  The word restoration begins with rest. As you rest in Jesus’ grace and finished work, you will see your restoration, we find this truth in Matthew 11:28-30. No matter what you have lost, according to His Word, you can believe God to redeem all that has been stolen from you.

You don’t have to accept defeat or live in despair. You don’t have to be fearful of the future. Instead, you can say, “Lord, restore to me!”, knowing that His sacrifice at the cross has qualified you to receive and enjoy His incomparable restoration.

There was a young woman who was looking forward to starting a family with her husband.  Only to have her dreams shattered when her husband died at a young age. Although her mother-in-law urged her to return to her own country to start over, the young woman refused. Clinging to her mother-in-law, she said, “Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16).

When Ruth followed Naomi, her mother-in-law to Israel, she soon found herself in a tough predicament. Being a Moabite, she found herself among people who were in conflict with Moab, and she had no husband to protect her. It seemed as if the odds were stacked against her. But Ruth didn’t dwell on her unfavorable circumstances. Her declaration of her faith in the God of Israel revealed her dependence on the Lord.

“Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor,” she said to Naomi (Ruth 2:2). Her trust in the Lord as she embarked on the ordinary task of finding work to support her mother-in-law and herself became the starting place for God’s incredible restoration in her life.

What seemed impossible in the natural, Ruth’s life went from having nothing to having an over abundant, blessed life. She had no family, to now having a husband and a son. From being destitute to being well-provided for. And from being an outcast to being not just an accepted and well-loved member of society, part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. This is what the restoration of the Lord will do for you. Because our Lord Jesus has purchased every blessing, including restoration, for you at the cross, you can believe God to redeem all the time that has been wasted and lost. God’s heart is to restore to you whatever the enemy has taken from you.

God’s principle of restoration is not that when the devil has robbed you of something that God will simply restore it back to you. That would be nice but it would simply put you right back to where you started. God’s restoration is not 100% but 120% and even more in the New Covenant! 120% is based on the principle of restitution in the law of the trespass offering found in Leviticus 6:4–5. This principle of restoration was under the Old Covenant of the Law. How much more we who are under the New Covenant of grace—a far better covenant with God, based on better promises (Hebrews 8:6).

In the same way the Lord didn’t want Ruth to just survive, He doesn’t want you to just barely eek through life. Our Lord Jesus never brings us back to where we were, He will increase, improve, promote, and make everything better. Instead of dwelling on unfavorable circumstances, turn to your Savior and expect things to change in your favor. When you put your trust in Him, nothing in your life is beyond His restoration.

Rest Comes with Love

Rest Comes with Love

Daily Reading: (Psalm 127:1-2):

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those He loves.”

“How can I rest with what is happening in my life” is a common question that I get asked from time to time. The answer is the reason you can rest (no matter what is happening in your life) is because you have received His love for you (Psalm 127:2).

Did you know this is the only Psalm that is ascribed as being written by Solomon? What is incredible here is we have the Lord building the house- this is in no doubt referencing Solomon finishing building the Temple. David had the desire to do this for the Lord, but ultimately God determined it would be Solomon to get the job done. In verse 2 when it says that “God grants sleep to those He loves”, this monumental task that was left to Solomon by his father David could have caused him sleepless nights, but instead, God gives Solomon rest. Such a great task would take such great wisdom and this is what God gave Solomon while he slept so that the work would be done. As Solomon wrote, it was the Lord who build the house.

What is it that keeps you up at night? Is it all the things you need to get done the next day? Maybe you are worried about all the crazy things that are currently happening in your life or just generally what is happening in the world today. Jesus says, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest” (Luke 12:25-26)? Worrying does not help you, it makes things worse for you.

Resting is not inactivity. Rest is what leads to great activity. Rest in Jesus will always result in Holy Spirit-directed activity. How we live a life of rest, as opposed to a life of stress, happens when we become conscious of God’s supply to us. When you don’t see the supply, and the One who is supplying you for what He is calling you to, you will worry and will not enter into rest.

Who are those whom God loves? I ask this question because Solomon says, God “gives His beloved sleep.” Who is His beloved? Every believer in Jesus. Because we are in Christ, we are His beloved (Ephesians 1:6, 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Let God be the one who builds it for you. Let God be the one to guard your health, your career, and your marriage. Don’t worry about your needs, instead, give your cares to God because you are His beloved child, and receive rest. Know that He is working on your situation.

The Bible teaches us what we can do when we find ourselves in a puzzling or troubling situation and when the thoughts of defeat start to creep in and threaten our rest. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den at night. What did he do?

“Now the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God” (Daniel 6:23).

When there was nothing he could do, Daniel “believed in God,” and he came out of the lion’s den in the morning “and no injury whatever was found on him.” When you don’t understand your situation, believe in the Lord. Trust in Him. Believe that He loves you and He is your good father. 

Solomon received wisdom, not when he was awake, but when he was sleeping at night. Our night seasons can be the best time to receive teaching and instruction from the Lord. What this looks like practically is when the devil wants to keep you awake at night, use that time to dive into God’s Word.

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8).

Success is found in Jesus. Jesus is our success. See Jesus as your good success, know you have God’s favor and love, and believe that He is working all things together for your good, making your path prosperous.

Many times, God changes your spirit before He changes your circumstances. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). Our soul is our mind, will, and emotions. As those things prosper it translates into good health.

Did you know that when you sleep God gives you more than just rest? “He gives His beloved sleep” has also been interpreted by scholars to mean “God gives to His beloved as he sleeps.” Be established in the Lord’s deep love for you and as you do you will find rest and peace in your soul.

Your Grief turned to Joy

Daily Reading: (John 16:20):

“Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”

One of the things that are so important to ask is, “what will turn their grief to joy?” The context of John 16:20 is that Jesus had just told His disciples in verses 2-3:“They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.” 

When we break this down, they would no longer be allowed to worship with their family and their community in the synagogue because of their faith in Jesus, and even more, many followers of Jesus will be put to death for their faith. But there’s more. “but now I am going to Him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things” (John 16:5-6).

So, Jesus is also going to be crucified, but in His Resurrection, the answer to their grief will be found.

Jesus says in John 16:12: “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” Whenever God gives us a Word that would contain fearful events, He cannot leave us in that place of fear because 2 Timothy 1:7 says “God has not given us a spirit of fear.” Jesus is not giving to give the disciples a spirit of fear, even with this fearful news. “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). Jesus, after sharing the troubling things to come says I have an answer for your troubles, I am sending you the Holy Spirit.Jesus will also conclude with another good Word for them too

“Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:20-24).

Because we live in a fallen world, the promise is that you will have trouble, and you will have grief. It is unavoidable. Jesus said as much when you keep reading in John 16:33. “In this world you will have trouble.” But I am not going to leave you with fear. “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” How did Jesus overcome the world? Through His death and Resurrection. The reason Jesus shared all of this trouble, is so that when trouble comes, we might not be caught off guard and become fearful and stay stuck in grief. Instead, when trouble comes, we might take heart, and receive His peace (John 16:33).

John 16:22-24 is the secret of having your grief turned to joy. “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” The Resurrection is coming and the Resurrection will cause us to rejoice, and turn our grief into joy.

People confuse joy with happiness all the time. Happiness is external, dependent upon factors outside of us, that happens to us. I could go and clean your entire garage for you and cause happiness for you. And then a storm could come and a tree falls on your garage and then your happiness is gone. Happiness comes quite often as a result of things outside of our control. Joy is different, joy is internal. Joy cannot be taken from you by what happens to you. We feel great joy whenever we worship God our Father, we feel great joy when we remember the Resurrection and all that Jesus has done for us. The Resurrection is what turned the disciple’s grief into joy. When a loved one dies, we grieve. But what can give us joy in such sorrow? The promise of the Resurrection. Death has been swallowed up by the Resurrection. We’ll be reunited with our loved ones again who know the Lord. “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all” (Acts 4:33).

Because of the Resurrection, things will change for the disciples and what is available for us as we pray.

“Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:23-24).

Whenever you encountered something that has caused you to fear or grieve, think about the Resurrection and allow God to turn it for you where you have joy.

Time spent with God will put our minds on the victory we have in Jesus. The riches of His glory to meet every single one of our needs. Our inner man will be filled with joy and will be expressed through praise because our despair, and our grief has been turned as we turn our gaze onto the finished work of Jesus Christ. The new way to pray that Jesus says begins with addressing God as “Father”. Jesus came to reveal changes to the way that we relate to God and this was only possible through His sacrificial substitutionary death for us. God wants us to see Him as our Father, that we belong to Him, and we are His beloved child.

Is it possible to turn from your faith?

Daily Reading: (Matthew 24:9-10):

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.”

The question of “Is it possible to turn from your faith?”, has been asked in various forms, such as, “is it possible to lose your salvation?” Some try and justify the answer as yes by taking a singular verse without any context to the verse at all.

“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other” (Matthew 24:10-11).

If this is all you read of what Jesus said you would be inclined to believe that it is possible to turn away from the faith and lose your salvation. This is a flawed understanding of what has happened to a believer at salvation, and who is the One who upholds our salvation. If the New Covenant was struck between you and God then most certainly you could lose your salvation, in fact, we all would, and then what would make that different from the Old Covenant? What would the purpose of the cross be if Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins did not remove our present or future sins too? But if the New Covenant is between God the Father and Jesus the Son (which it is), and Jesus upholds this Covenant then we are simply beneficiaries of this will or Covenant because we are a part of the family of God. This is explicitly what Hebrews 9:15-17 says. It is the wrong question to ask, “can you lose your salvation?” because you were not the author of your own salvation, it was by grace through faith that you were saved, this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). So, the question one must ask is, “is your salvation secure in Christ?”

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other” (Matthew 24:9-10).

So, there are a few things to note here: Barnes Notes on the Bible says the following: “Not that real Christians would do this, but those who had professed to be such would then show that they were not His true followers and would hate one another.”[1]

If someone goes to a church worship service does that make them a Christian? If someone says they identify themselves as being a Christian based on the good works they do in the name of the Lord does that make them a Christian either? The answer to both of these questions is no.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:15, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Some of the people who are attached to the church will not be God’s sheep, they aren’t saved, they never were, and they have pretended to be something they are not. In the last days, they will turn Christians in to be put to death, we learn this from Matthew 24. This is happening even now, in other countries outside of America. This shouldn’t surprise us as we are living in the last days and this will only increase. So, we established that not all who belong to a church are saved.  Let’s continue:

Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in Heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’”

This passage of Scripture has terrified many, and led to the question that even the disciples had for Jesus at another time, “who then can be saved” (Matthew 19:25)? “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26b). You can’t save yourself with your good works, so stop trying. Go back to Ephesians 2:8 and see that salvation is a gift of God. “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, (grace) that whoever believes in Him (faith) shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

John would write the following, “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). John had to reassure a group of churches where “false prophets,” denounced as Antichrist, denied the Incarnation of Jesus, and had believers worried about their own salvation. He wrote to assure them that they “have eternal life”.

Looking again to Matthew 24:10 which says, “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other” (Matthew 24:10). In the original Greek manuscript, it does not say “turn away from the faith.”The English Standard Version of the Bible and several other translations record this correctly: “And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.”

This Greek word here is (skandalizō) and it means to put something in the way that causes one to fall, it is an enticement to sin.[2]

The sin Jesus is talking about will be found in the next Greek word used for “betray” (paradidōmi) to deliver one up to be put to death.[3] This ties directly into what Jesus just said would happen in verse 9 of Matthew 24. 

A correct Greek translation of Matthew 24:9-10:

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will stumble and be enticed to sin to deliver “believers” to be put to death because they despise one another” (Matthew 24:9-10).

When people cast doubt on a believer’s salvation, it reveals how they do not accurately value the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. They are also making light of what our Lord Jesus suffered at Calvary for our salvation, forgiveness, and redemption. Christians who are secure in the Father’s love will be transformed by the renewing of their minds with the power of God’s amazing grace. Born-again believers established in His grace want to live lives that glorify His holy name in every area of their lives. Why? Because grace isn’t teaching, doctrine, or formula. Grace is a person and His name is Jesus!


[1] Barnes Notes on the Bible. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/barnes/matthew/24.htm

[2] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g4624/niv/mgnt/0-1/

[3] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g3860/niv/mgnt/0-1/