The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was continually only evil. — Genesis 6:5
There was sin around when I was growing up, but you had to go looking for it. Now, we have home delivery, just like pizza. Sin is brought right into your house through a conduit you pay for called cable television and the internet. They dump it right in your lap in your easy chair. They spray it all over you.
There are very few decent movies. Sin is everywhere—on billboards, in magazines and books, and in conversations. We live in an unclean and unholy and ungodly and immoral world like we’ve never known in America before. There are evil people who kill in the name of their god and think they are serving him by doing such.
Most of the readers of this devotion worship Sunday morning, as is good. But what have we been doing during this week? Any dishonesty? Any deceit? Any lies? Any lusts? Any immorality? Any malice? Any envy? Yet we come to worship the all-holy God?
Before we come into His presence, we must repent and be cleansed. In such a culture where sin is so often predominant, we are not always able to see our sin. We must ask the Holy Spirit to show us our sin, so we can be cleansed.
Question to ponder: What is the result when we ask God to reveal our sin to us?
Judgment Is Coming…but God – Genesis 6-8 – Skip Heitzig
You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm.Isaiah 25:4
My wife and I once stayed in a lovely old seaside hotel with large sash windows and thick stone walls. One afternoon, a storm ripped through the region, churning up the sea and pounding our windows like angry fists on a door. Yet we were at peace. Those walls were so strong, and the hotel’s foundations so solid! While storms raged outside, our room was a refuge.
Refuge is an important theme in Scripture, starting with God Himself. “You have been a refuge for the poor,” Isaiah says of God, “a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm” (Isaiah 25:4). In addition, refuge is something God’s people were and are to provide, whether through Israel’s ancient cities of refuge (Numbers 35:6) or by offering hospitality to “foreigners” in need (Deuteronomy 10:19). These same principles can guide us today when humanitarian crises hit our world. In such times, we pray that the God of refuge would use us, His people, to help the vulnerable find safety.
The storm that hit our hotel was gone the following morning, leaving us with a calm sea and a warm sun that made the seagulls glow. It’s an image I hold on to as I think of those facing natural disasters or fleeing “ruthless” regimes (Isaiah 25:4): that the God of refuge would empower us to help them find safety now and a brighter tomorrow.
Are you seeking to know and understand the Lord? Even though He’s beyond human comprehension in many ways, God has revealed much of Himself in His Word. And as we search for Him in Scripture, we’ll grow in our understanding of His nature. But this isn’t merely an academic pursuit. Knowing God practically impacts every area of life.
For one thing, knowledge of God influences our prayers. Instead of asking for whatever we want, we’ll seek to ask according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). And we won’t limit our requests in size or scope because we’ll realize that nothing is impossible with God.
The way we view the Lord also affects how we think, behave, and relate to other people. Knowing Him intimately transforms our natural tendency toward doubt and sin. Then we desire to walk obediently before Him, with a pure heart. Instead of loving the world, we seek to please Him by loving His people unselfishly and resisting sinful lusts.
Paul thought knowing the Lord was so important that he made it the primary pursuit of his life (Philippians 3:8-10). Could that be said of you? Self-reformation soon fails, but knowledge of God renews you from the inside out.
“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
Jude, an earthly brother of our Lord, had become a leader in the early church by the time he wrote his epistle. He had intended “to write unto you of the common salvation” but instead was compelled by God’s Spirit to write and “exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 1:3) against the onslaught of false teachers. He writes “to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 1:15).
Few categories of people are so summarily denounced in Scripture as false teachers, those who teach error from within. Nearly every biblical writer echoes God’s hatred of them and their work. Here, Jude refers to Enoch’s ancient teaching to demonstrate the fact that God has always hated false teachers and has warned them of their doom. Unfortunately, many of today’s pulpits and “Christian” airwaves are filled with false teachers and their teaching, leading many astray.
But this is also a lesson to be learned by any who would teach, even born-again, God-gifted teachers. Error is a serious thing in God’s eyes, and a Bible teacher must continually submit to God’s Word and Spirit to discern and teach only truth. Evidently, it would be better for those teachers, seminarians, and others who espouse errors such as humanism, evolution, and other false concepts that a millstone were hung about their necks and that they drowned in the depth of the sea than to lead astray those “little ones” in their influence. JDM
I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. —Psalm 145:1-2
My brother or sister, if we are believing children of God in whom the Holy Spirit nurtures continual joy, delight and wonder, we will not need a storm on the mountain to show us how glorious our Lord really is.
It is a delusion to think that because we suddenly feel expansive and poetic in the presence of the storm or stars or space that we are spiritual. I need only remind you that drunkards or tyrants or criminals can have those “sublime” feelings, too. Let us not imagine that they constitute worship.
I can offer no worship wholly pleasing to God if I know that I am harboring elements in my life that are displeasing to Him. I cannot truly and joyfully worship God on Sunday and not worship Him on Monday. I cannot worship God with a glad song on Sunday and then knowingly displease Him in my business dealings on Monday and Tuesday. WHT124-125
[I]f you will not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship Him on one day a week. TTPI, Book 1/051
A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial.—1 Corinthians 12:7
Although Jesus told us that through the Holy Spirit’s power, we would do greater works than He had performed, the truth is that we are just not availing ourselves of the divine resources. There are notable exceptions to what I am saying, but, by and large, this is the way it is in today’s church. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 1:5: “Our gospel [came] to you … in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance.” At the center of that “power” and “assurance” was the Holy Spirit. These traits are largely lacking in much of modern Christianity because too many of us lack a full encounter with the Holy Spirit.
Some years ago, when I was a pastor in the north of England, another minister in the town (a good friend of mine) said, “You preach about the Spirit’s power, and I’ll preach about the Spirit’s purity. That way we will keep a balance in the lives of Christians in this town.” I pondered what he said and came to the conclusion that such a procedure would produce lopsided Christians, for both congregations needed to hear of the Spirit’s purity and power.
Today’s churches can be divided into two camps—those where the purity aspect is emphasized and those where the power aspect is emphasized. If every church focused with equal emphasis on both these characteristics of the Spirit, we would witness a healthier body of believers. Purity is essential, but so is power. The Holy Spirit supplies both.
O Spirit of purity and power, live in Your church as both. For I need purity to see my destiny and power to follow it. Give me equal measure. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
“The Lord our God spoke to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough.’”—Deuteronomy 1:6
If God allowed us to live on the “mountaintop,” we would not experience trials, but neither would we achieve any victories. The Israelites had gathered at the foot of Mount Horeb while God spoke to them and gave them His law. It was a breathtaking experience! Fire and smoke covered that awesome mountain; lightning flashed, and loud trumpet sounds pierced the air in a deafening crescendo! The ground at the foot of the mountain shook, and the people trembled in fear (Exod. 19:16–25).
As important as it was for God’s people to have this inspiring encounter with Him, their Lord had not rescued them from Egypt in order for them to settle around a mountain in the wilderness. God delivered them so that they could conquer the Promised Land. God wanted to demonstrate His power to the Israelites so that they would trust Him in their conquest of Canaan. Finally, God announced that they had been long enough at the mountain; it was time to go to battle.
The mountain is an enticing place to set up camp. Peter, James, and John were prepared to reside on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus, but their Lord knew that a demon-possessed boy needed their assistance down below (Matt. 17:4, 14–18). At times God will graciously provide you a mountaintop experience. These times come in many settings: during your time alone with Him, at a Christian conference, by reading a Christian book, or at a prayer meeting. You may wish you could spend the rest of your life basking in the glow of your encounter with God. But remember, these mountaintop encounters are God’s way of preparing you for the battles that await you.