“Pilate therefore said unto Him, ‘Art thou a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice’” (John 18:37).
Pilate asked Jesus if He was a king … he had no idea Who he was talking to at the time. Jesus is not “a” king; He is “THE” King of all kings. Jesus is the Lord of all the lords of the earth. There will be a day when every king that has ever walked this earth and wielded great power, will fall to his knees and confess that Jesus is Lord with his very own mouth. Every Queen, Prime Minister, Dictator, Czar, or ruler of any nation will acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord.
The thought that struck me while reading this today was this: What do you think Pilate will be thinking about on that day when he bows his knee? His wife had warned him. His own conscience was screaming out to him to free this innocent man. All his natural instincts gained over years of public service as an official of Rome were telling him to free this man. However, he did what far too many of us do on a regular basis. He listened to popular opinions rather than listening to the voice God places in every one of us. He ignored the advice of his wife, so he could satisfy those who were in front of him. He sacrificed his integrity because of his desire to promote himself before Caesar. As always, this devotional is not about Pilate … it is about you and me. We are under extreme pressure every day to conform to what the world thinks should be normal. Are you willing to stand against the tide, for the King of kings wherever you go today? I hope you are. God needs us to stand today for Him so that others will come to know the intimacy we enjoy with Him. Don’t allow the popular opinions of those around you today to affect your better judgment. Listen to that “still small voice” within you that tells you to stand for right and to defend the truths of the Word of God.
In America today we are celebrating our 236th birthday! We call this day, “Independence Day.” We need some Christians who will be willing to stand for Christ today and be independent from the influence of the world. Don’t allow others to pour you into their mold. Stand tall for Jesus Christ today. He died for you!
As I was preparing to read my Bible this morning, I realized that I would be reading John 17. This is an amazing look into the heart of the reason Jesus came to this earth. Other than the first few words of the chapter, the entire chapter is a prayer from Jesus to God. It reveals so much about the reason Jesus came to the earth to begin with, but it also speaks to what Jesus wanted to happen after He ascended into Heaven. While I was reading, I saw a verse that I had not noticed before. There are so many good verses in this chapter that I had not noticed verse 19 before. “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (John 17:19).
I know this verse at a quick glance may not strike you as unusual, or even as important, but there is an extremely important truth taught here that I want you to see today. Jesus said that for your sake (and mine), He “sanctified” Himself. This word, sanctify, means to separate from wicked things and dedicate yourself to God. It means to be pure; externally from sins of the flesh; internally by renewing the soul. Jesus, as a human being, kept Himself pure from external sin. He never sinned one time … even though it was a part of His character to be perfect; He acted in a perfect manner while here on the earth. He did for us, and for our sin to be forgiven. He also pleased God with how He constantly renewed His inner man.
Getting past all the theological things we could draw from this verse today, let’s focus on what it means to us today. The second phrase in that verse says that as Jesus sanctified Himself, we who are His children ought to sanctify ourselves as well. Jesus set the standard that we ought to follow. He blazed the trail that would be impossible for us to walk without Him. He let us know by His very own life that we can live in a godly fashion in an ungodly world! It is possible for us to show this world a testimony of purity. This world we are living in today is searching for a hero. They are looking for someone who can climb tall buildings and rescue people who are in trouble. The problem is they are looking in the wrong places. Jesus provided for us the only Hero we will ever need. He is depending on you and I to live a holy lifestyle while here on this earth to show those that are seeking the answer. Ask God to help you walk worthy of His calling today. He has set the standard, and His desire is that we follow Him in living a holy and pure life in this world today.
My wife and I had the wonderful privilege to take a trip to Israel some years ago. One of the questions we heard often was, “How was your guide?” Little did we know before we left how important the guide is to a successful trip. We happened to have a wonderful guide, who knew more about the history of our Bible than we did. He had knowledge upon knowledge about the events that were described in our Bibles. We were like two sponges trying to soak up all the information he was passing along as we drove in and around Israel. The pages of our Bibles were coming alive to us as we had not experienced before. We felt as though we were back in Bible College again, learning upon learning. There was only one problem with our guide … he did not know our Savior. With all the knowledge he had gained, he had missed getting to know the God of the Bible. The psalmist explained it so clearly when he wrote, “For this God is our God forever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death” (Psalm 48:14). As wonderful as our guide in Israel was (and he was absolutely incredible), he cannot guide me unto death. I am so thankful for a God … “our God” … to lead me today and every day until I die physically. At that point, I am going to see my Guide face to face! I will live with Him forever because He was the One Who paid my debt for sin! He is the One Who sent the Redeemer for my soul! His Son is the One Who shed His blood on the cross to pay off my sin debt! I not only know this Guide as my Savior, but I know Him as my constant, every day companion. You see, when I open my Bible in the morning to read, I hear His voice through the words on the pages I read. I am thrilled to write this devotional for you, but may I encourage you not to depend on me for your walk with God. Get into His Word on your own, and listen for His loud and clear voice to you. He will obviously guide you and give instruction that will help you walk worthy in this world today. What a great thing to know the God of eternity personally! Don’t take it lightly. The purpose of life is not to know the Bible in some “academic” way, but to get to know your Guide as intimately as possible. The beautiful thing is that where most guides in life are looking to stay away from getting personal with those they are guiding; your Heavenly Father wants an intimate relationship with you. Walk with Him today and listen for His clear instruction for your path. “Be still and know peace – be busy and know panic.” – Ted Camp
I was reading today and saw a phrase that caught my attention. Joseph, the son of Jacob had been sold into slavery and cast into prison because of the false accusations of Potiphar’s wife. While there, he was placed in charge of a part of the prison, specifically to the care of two men who had served in the presence of Pharaoh, but were now in prison. One day, as Joseph approached these two men he noticed something, and asked a question: “And he asked Pharaoh’s officers that were with him in the ward of the lord’s house, saying, ‘Wherefore look ye so sadly today’” (Genesis 40:7)?
The reason this phrase touched my heart is that I believe I rush through life too much. I wonder how many sad expressions I have simply ignored, or did not care to give the time to in my life? I wonder how many people could have been touched for the Lord if I had been more sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in my daily course of life? I am always touched when I read about Jesus sitting on a hillside overlooking Jerusalem, weeping because they refused to believe in Him as Messiah.
How often is my heart stirred without my body responding? Are there times when a message is preached and I am convicted, but continue to stand, singing the invitation song watching others respond? Are there people that God has placed in my pathway for me to reach out to that I simply ignore, or worse, do not even recognize? I don’t want to get to the place that my eyes are so buried in my own interests that I miss the people God has placed along my path to touch. I don’t want to allow conflicts between me and brothers and sisters in Christ to go unresolved. I want to ask for forgiveness quickly and completely. I want to restore broken relationships. I want to walk in a godly fashion before the world and other believers. I don’t want to waste a moment, or an opportunity that God will place before me to represent Him in the sin-cursed world.
I have noticed that we believers love to complain about this world we are living in, and in many cases justly so. However, God did not place us in this world to fit it, but to make a divine difference in the lives of others as we reach out to those He would reach out to. Joseph noticed the sad faces on these two men, and did something about it. What about you and me today? Will we take the time to stop and help … or will we plow right on through life, not making a difference? Stop and help today!
Have you ever been in a crowded church lobby and heard a child call out, “Mom?” Have you noticed that even though there might be twenty moms in that lobby, the one who’s child called, looks? I have seen a Deaf mother “feel” when her child needs her. We all are sensitive to those who we love and care for. This same kind of thing happened in the New Testament.
After Jesus rose from the dead, the first person to arrive at His empty grave was Mary Magdalene. When she arrived, she found the stone rolled away, and the tomb empty. She ran quickly to the disciples to tell them that someone had taken the body of Jesus from His grave. Peter and John ran to the tomb to investigate. They found the grave-clothes of Jesus lying in one place, and the napkin that would normally have been placed over the face of Jesus folded and in a different place. It was at that moment that they believed Jesus had risen from the dead. They returned to tell the others. This left Mary Magdalene alone at the tomb. She was weeping, still assuming that the body of Jesus had been taken.
At this point, Mary met a person she thought was the gardener. “Jesus saith unto her, ‘Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?’ She, supposing Him to be the gardener, saith unto Him, ‘Sir, if thou have borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus saith unto her, ‘Mary.’ She turned herself, and saith unto Him, ‘Rabboni;’ which is to say, ‘Master’” (John 20:15-16a). When Mary heard her name spoken from that familiar voice, her sadness turned to joy. Her mourning turned to rejoicing. Her desolation turned to enthusiasm.
It caused me to think about how well I can hear the voice of God when He speaks to me. Today God does not speak with a voice to our ear. He does speak through His Word to our heart. He does speak through the Holy Spirit within us to our spirit. The question is not whether God is speaking to us … the question really is, are we listening to what He has to say. I believe this is the most important time of our lives to be listening intently for the voice of our Heavenly Father. Mary knew the sound of that voice so much that when He said that simple, “Mary,” it jolted her from despair to exultation! He is speaking to us today. Listen for His voice in His Word today. Pay attention to the whispers of God today within your spirit. Ask God to help you be sensitive to His voice today. He has a great deal to say to us if we will just pay attention to His voice.
You don’t need to go very far to find trouble and challenges. Everywhere we turn in our world today, there appears to be an abundance of issues we are facing that challenge our faith. Abortions are still taking place; famine exists in many parts of the world; we are still seeing earthquakes, tsunami’s, tornado’s, and other natural disasters. If we are totally honest with ourselves, even though these things exist, they do not affect us every day. However, there are problems that you will face today that you understand fully you will need the help of God to face and conquer.
Just before beginning to read my Bible this morning, I told the Lord that I had some challenges today that I know I need His help to be successful. I also reminded myself that I need Him every day, in every situation all throughout the day. After praying that, I opened my Bible and read this verse about God standing for Israel: “God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early” (Psalm 46:5). What a comfort to know that when Jesus returned to Heaven to be seated at the right hand of God, that He sent a Comforter to help us. I realize that as I begin this new day today, the Holy Spirit is within me, ready to help, comfort, guide, convict, and generally defeat the Devil and my flesh … as I yield to Him.
As I yield to Him … did you catch that? God is absolutely ready and able to do His part today. That is not a question. The psalmist stated so clearly that God is able to help, and He will do it early. The area of concern for me is in that “yielding” department of my life. You see, I (possibly you too) prefer the driver’s seat of my life rather than the passenger’s seat. Ever since I got my driver’s license, I have enjoyed the steering wheel in my hand. However, when the storms of life are pressing against me, the best move I can make is to turn the controls of my life over to the Holy Spirit Who dwells within me, and let Him determine the course we will go.
Honestly, in the beginning of that trip, I don’t always like where He is taking me … but I know that He knows the way! I don’t need to have all the answers to the questions of life … I just need to make sure the Holy Spirit of God is driving my life … and not me! He knows the way I should take … He is all-knowing … He is all-powerful …. I am none of those things. Join me in yielding your life to His control and then enjoy the ride!
“You do not have the right to direct, demand, or dictate the Holy Spirit.” – Unknown
Fear … worry … anxiety … anticipation … all these words seem to hover over the human race today. No matter where you turn, there is a story that is meant to scare you and cause you to live in fear. Even in the life of a Christian, fear, worry, anxiety and anticipation are enemies waiting to battle us every day. There is one difference between the world and the believer. We Christians have a God Who is bigger than all our enemies. Look at these verses from Psalm 56 that I read today: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee” (Psalm 56:3) … “In God I will praise His word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” (56:4) … “When I cry unto Thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: This I know; for God is for me” (56:9) … “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (56:11).
Did you catch that theme? I know I needed these words this morning. We are getting ready to board a plane and will fly to Ukraine to help good friends with a Family Deaf Camp there. Every time I prepare for a trip like this, there are many fears that run through my mind. I know, you must think I am not very spiritual. You are right! I am just a lump of clay with all the same fears, doubts, and worry that you might battle. When these times come in my life, I am reminded to run to my Heavenly Father. He controls everything, and He is powerful enough to handle any situation I will face; despite my fears and my humanity.
I don’t know what you’re facing today that might cause you to have fear, worry, etc., but I know that God can help you through these difficult times. There is one key that must be mentioned for that to happen for you and me. We need to develop a daily walk with God. I don’t want to run to God only in the emergency times, I want to have a regular, on-going relationship with Him. I want the times I turn to run into Him to be just as natural as what I am doing every day, all through the day. What an incredible privilege we have to know this incredible God in this intimate way! I hope that today you will spend some time just chatting with Him about the things that are in front of you that could cause some worry or fear. Turn them all over to Him. He is very capable of solving all the challenges you will face today. Don’t waste time worrying about things you cannot change. Trust the One Who can change them, and loves you with a never-ending love. Grab onto His hand and don’t let go!
We hear a great deal of macho talk today about being, “the man.” We hear it in regards to sports, or business, or even in the classroom. The problem is that we are looking at the wrong man when we say that. Pilate, after examining the testimony and life of Jesus Christ turned Him over to his accusers to crucify Him. Listen to how He described Jesus … “Pilate therefore went froth again and saith unto them, ‘Behold, I bring Him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in Him.’ Then came Jesus forth, wearing a crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, ‘Behold the man’” (John 19:4-5). Let’s take a few moments this morning to do just what Pilate encouraged those present at Jesus’ crucifixion to do.
THE Man was someone who endured the mocking of the soldiers in order to reach the cross. Remember, Jesus was not trying to avoid the cross … that was His goal. He came to save sinners. He came to reach those who had previously been unreachable. He came to give His life a ransom for many. But, on the way to that cross, He allowed the soldiers and those gathered around the cross to mock Him. He showed incredible self-control when they cried out things like, “He saved others … let Him save Himself.” For me that would not have been a temptation, but Jesus actually could have exited the cross at any point He wanted. THE Man demonstrated self-control, humility and endurance. That’s what a real man looks like.
THE Man was someone who endured horrible anguish and suffering for the good of others. We see so many today trying to earn the title of, “the man,” by looking out only for their good, or their career, or their desires. When we look on Jesus Christ today, we will see that He lived His life with others in mind every day. He taught and re-taught with great patience so His disciples would get the message after He was off the earthly scene. He constantly stood against the hypocritical Pharisees and religious leaders for the good of the people He had come to reach. He often was seen going through an area other men of His stature would never have gone; to reach people others never would have seen or cared for. This is THE Man! I will thank Him for all eternity for coming to rescue me. How about stopping to thank Him right now? While you are thanking Him, why not commit your life to Him today as He committed His life to you? He held nothing back.
If you listen to the counselors of this world, you would think there is no hope for any of us to live a godly life today. As I write this devotional today, I am reminded that on this day fifty-seven years ago, my father married my mother. The odds were against them to have a successful marriage, just like they are against any of us today. There was one thing that my parents committed themselves to that enabled them to stay married for fifty-two years (my Mom has been in Heaven for almost five years now). They decided from the beginning of their lives together to trust God, and not the counselors of this world! I would encourage you to do the same today and every day.
This world constantly tries to influence us to follow their wisdom, but the key to living righteously in an unrighteous world is to trust God and His Word, and not the counsel of this world. The psalmist said it this way … “Through Thee will we push down our enemies: through Thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us” (Psalm 44:5). Let it be known today that for the Christian living in this ungodly world, conformity to this world will result in destruction. Transformation from obedience to the living Word of God will result in being able to prove what that good, perfect, and will of God. There is a great deal of clamor from this world to follow their way of thinking. God gave us a Bible to help us see the actual road map to success in this life.
My parents faced a good bit of opposition while trying to raise our family according to the Word of God. That should come as no surprise; this world is an enemy of the God and His Word. You need to make a choice similar to what my parents had to make more than fifty-seven years ago. What foundation will you build your life, and the lives of your children upon? The opinions of this world are nothing more than a foundation of shifting sand. The Word of God is a solid rock, but it is far more than a foundation. It is also the Sword of the Spirit that we can use to fight off the enemies of godliness in our lives and homes. Never underestimate the power of one single verse … even one single word in God’s Word. It has the power to “push down” the enemies of God. I don’t know what challenges you are going to face today, but I am sure that God and His Word will be all that you will need to have the victory over those things. What a blessing to rest in the never-changing promises of God!
“The Bible gives much light on commentaries.” – Unknown
We all want to hear the praises of others. It is very important that we each learn who to listen to early in our lives. I will warn you that the praise of men stroke the pride in each of us. When you are playing sports, you are hoping to hear the applause of the fans for you when you make that winning shot. When I was a boy, I would shoot baskets alone, or throw a ball by myself, or hit a ball and I would become the radio announcer. I would tell the situation with the game on the line, and me in the center of the field/court with all eyes on me. I would even make the sounds of the crowd as I prepared to do the amazing athletic activity! All of us have this desire in our lives.
I want to warn you of two things. First, the Devil will always have people around you that will cheer you when you do the wrong things. He will use this applause to encourage you to get out of the will of God, just to hear the praise! Be careful of that. The second thing about the praise of men is that it usually is fairly empty. It sounds good when you are hearing it, but it does not last very long. People often praise you, just to say the words. Solomon had these words to say about it: “It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:5).
There will always be a fool ready to sing your song. Their motivation might be to get you to join their cause. It might be to get you off the track from doing what is right. It might be, to prepare you to help them, or join their cause in the future. It might be just an empty song, just for the sake of singing. Whatever the motivation, it is important for you and I to avoid this kind of praise.
Knowing that we each desire to hear praise from others; and knowing that fools will be ready to give praise; let’s determine that we will do all we can to listen instead for the “rebuke” of the wise. Hmmmm … would I rather hear praise, or rebuke? I would rather the praise, but the reality is that it is the rebuke that will benefit me the most. Today, make it a point to look for those who are willing to help you by saying the difficult things to you. These are the ones who will help us more than those who give empty flattery. Also, try to be the person who is honest with those you love. Don’t be foolish and give empty compliments and praise in order to make friends.
Men have always thought they knew better than God when talking about the issues of life. They have exalted themselves above the Word of God; above the commandments God clearly gave; above the doctrines of the church. Mankind in general continues to think that there will come a time when God will ignore what He has clearly stated, and agree with their ideas and opinions. I want to encourage you to be careful today that you agree with God and not try to struggle against His plan.
I am not referring only to His commandments and doctrine, but His perfect plan for your life. Do you know that God has a perfect plan for you? He has an individual will for you that no one else shares. He has that plan for you so that it fits the perfect plan He has for every other one of His children. We each need to do our part to make His plan work. However, we often act as though we know better than Him, and we do not follow His plan. The psalmist wrote; “Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:22-23).
I’m not real smart, but even I know that I would rather have the salvation of God than be torn apart by Him. Don’t be fooled by the things you hear in this world today. I just read this morning on a news website how religion is being threatened again in our nation. They are trying to remove the word “God” from a simple statement because they say it is threatening to some. Bible verses are being removed from documents that are from the history of our country. We have seen this coming, and we will see it continue. When you see it, be totally aware that God is still God. Those who forget Him will suffer the consequences of Psalm 50:22. They will have none to deliver them.
I do not write this devotional to attack them, but to encourage you to stand strong for God. I want you to experience the salvation of the Lord, not the punishment that comes from ignoring Him. Let it be sufficient for each of us to realize that we are living in a world that hates God, but in a world that desperately needs to know Him. His desire is to shed His love on all them. Even though they might shake their fist in His face, He desires to save them through the blood of His Son. Stay in the center of His will today! He is depending on us to stand for Him in this darkening world!
“All the darkness in the world cannot put out one candle.” – Unknown
There is a familiar story in the Old Testament about Joseph, one of the sons of Jacob. His brothers learned to hate him because he was the “favorite” son, and because he had dreams. He told his brothers of two dreams he had where they all had bowed down to him. Of course, we know “the rest of the story.” They eventually did bow down to him, and God used him to save their lives during a horrible famine in their area. All this is background to one phrase I want to share with you today. After having the dream, Joseph was sent by his father to check on his brothers. When he was approaching them from the distance … “… they said one to another, ‘Behold, this dreamer cometh’” (Genesis 37:19).
I believe this statement was made mockingly, not with admiration. You see, these brothers hated Joseph in the present because he had revealed something to them that was going to happen in the future, and their pride was revolted by the idea. I am not saying that you need to have “visions” that enable you to look into the future and see what’s going to happen. I’m not saying that we need “fortune-tellers” today. I am saying that each of us as believers ought to have a vision and a dream for what God wants us to do in the future that should drive us today.
One of the most spectacular things about being a teenager is an unlimited view of what “could” be. The enthusiasm that recognizes that there are going to be challenges and obstacles, but there are still great opportunities ahead of us. What a sad day when we “mature” enough that we stop dreaming! That is a horrible day when you stop believing that God can do thing that are far beyond your abilities and resources, and you step out by faith. Today I want to encourage each person reading this to keep on “dreaming.” Keep on looking to God for things you cannot reach on your own.
Just as a child might ask help from their parent to reach that peanut butter that is on the higher shelf they cannot reach; ask God to help you reach today far beyond your capabilities into His capabilities. Joseph was mockingly called “this dreamer” by his brothers. A few years into the future, his brothers were praising God that he was a dreamer, and that God had used him to save the lives of them and their families. Don’t let other’s lack of faith influence you from dreaming of what God wants for you!
“Had I cared for the comments of people, I should never have been a missionary.” – C.T. Studd