Daily Devotional 4-9-19

If My People  
 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
 
Solomon had finished building the temple and had offered a long prayer of dedication. In response to the prayers, the glory of the Lord filled the temple to the extent where the priest could not enter the temple to minister. They all fell flat on the ground, a sign of worship to the Lord. The king and the people then offered sacrifice to God and celebrated a dedication festival for seven days. After the celebrations, the Lord appeared to Solomon, and spoke with him.  Today’s text is an extract from the words of God to Solomon.
 
From the text, we observe that the healing of the land of Israel would be based on the attitude of the Israelites. God spelt out the four conditions that would result in the recovery and prosperity of the land of Israel, namely humility, seeking God’s face, shunning evil, and prayer. These four conditions are related. It takes humility and righteousness for one’s prayer to be effective—resulting in the healing of situations.
 
This statement from God to Solomon demonstrates the possibility of a turnaround in any situation in which we may find ourselves. God literally placed recovery and healing of situations in the hands of his people. No bad condition will be permanent if the children of God have an awareness of what to do. The healing of this nation from all the social crisis resides in the prayers and the humility of God’s people. Yes, politicians have their role to play, but true freedom and prosperity resides in the attitude prayer, humility and righteousness of Christians.  In a similar fashion, the healing of families is in the prayers of the saints.
 
I do not know what your battle is. Maybe it is a family crisis, financial difficulties, finding your identity and purpose in life, expecting a change in work situation, etc. I want to encourage you that the solution to all these challenges and requests are prayers away. If we will walk in humility and righteousness and seek the face of God [seek the mind of God] in fervent and effective prayers, God would bring healing to our situation.
 
PRAYER: Lord, grant me the grace to walk in humility and righteousness, as I seek your face in prayer to heal my situation.


Daily Devotional 4-8-19

The Blessing of Brokenness
 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:17
 
The Kentucky Derby is one event that increases the visibility of the state in this country. It is the best horse racing contest in the world.  In this derby, well-bred and trained celebrity horses are enrolled to compete at the highest level. This competition attracts many people who travel from different parts of the world.  This is not just a competition. It is also a business where people make lots of money.
 
This question comes to mind: How does a wild horse become so obedient to the point of responding to its trainer? These wild and untamed horses go through a breaking process to transform them into obedient creatures. For some of these animals their obedience and other good traits take them into celebrity status.
 
Having this in mind, let us explore the difference between a broken and an unbroken person. The former yields to the instructions of God. The latter does not. He or she is still wild and the natural affections have not been transformed yet. The Christian life is not easy to live. Living to please God is not easy. This is because Christians live in the tension between obedience and disobedience, surrender and control, Christ-centered and self-centered, etc. It takes the process of sanctification, through the power and grace of Holy Spirit, to transform us from our “wild” nature into submissive and yielding children of God.
 
The extent to which we yield to God determines the extent to which we love him.
 
The purpose of brokenness is not to deprive us of some seeming comfort. On the contrary, it brings the best out of us. Brokenness enhances our lives by fine-tuning our rough edges, making us reflect more of Jesus. Brokenness makes us matured in Christ, cultivating the fruits of the spirit, because we do not live for ourselves any longer, but Christ lives in us. The process is not easy. However, the Holy Spirit enables us with grace for transformation. Brokenness builds character and helps us to yield to the nudges and voice of God.
 
PRAYER: Holy Spirit grant me the patience and endurance to yield and live a life of self-denial.
 
REFLECTION: What areas of your life have you not yielded to God?


Daily Devotional 4-5-19

The Daily Christian Battle
 
Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. Luke 4:13
 
Our text today takes us into the industry of the enemy of humanity, Satan. After Jesus had defeated him by using the word of God, Satan left him for another opportunity to attack again.  Satan started pursuing Jesus when he was a baby.  Remember when Herod issued a decree to kill all male-born babies within his jurisdiction (Matthew 2:16-18)? That was Satan working his plans behind the scenes to take out the life of Jesus. And, the night when Jesus was arrested, when he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, asking the Father to take the cup of suffering and death from him––I believe that was another subtle intrusion of the enemy’s voice.
 
Spiritual warfare is very real. Every Christian, living faithfully, becomes a prime target of the enemy. He will not relent in his attempts to affect our spiritual vitality with contamination of sin.  He would love to see you backslide in the faith walk. He would love to see you renounce Christ. He would love to see you stop living for Jesus and live for yourself. He would love to see you stop fellowshipping with other Christians. He would love to hear you say, “The bible is not relevant.” He would love to destroy a family. He would love to see that young adult destroy his or her life through drugs, etc. This spiritual warfare is ongoing, and unfortunately, Satan has made many victims. In Ephesian 6:12, Paul tells us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
 
God does not leave us defenseless. In fact, as a child of God, you do not even have to be afraid.  The strength of Satan in this warfare is your unawareness of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11).  We are already conquerors through Christ Jesus who loves us. Jesus’ response to Satan helps us to see how we can also overcome temptation and always realize our victory over the enemy. In all the temptation Satan threw at Jesus, Jesus responded with the word of God, “It is written…” Friends, our sure way of overcoming the many attacks of the enemy is to know and use the word of God, for it is the sword of the spirit with which we defeat Satan (Ephesians 6:17).
 
PRAYER: Lord, make me sensitive to discern the temptations of the enemy, and empower me to walk in victory daily.


Daily Devotional 4-4-19

Tempting God

Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you, and, In their hands, they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” Luke 4:9-12
 
It is very easy to draw a crowd when you use a natural or spiritual gift to be sensational. People gravitate and listen to people who have exceptional abilities, tickling them with their spectaculars. Jesus faced a similar temptation to be spectacular and sensational. However, Jesus knew too well that you cannot draw people into God’s kingdom by spectacles and sensationalism. The faith of people cannot predicate on signs and wonders alone. A gospel founded on sensation-mongering is doomed to fail. Faith that is dependent on signs and wonders alone is no faith at all.
 
The desire to be spectacular and sensational to draw attention to oneself can be so great that one may end up using faith in unhealthy ways. As a pastor, I have experienced the temptation to wow the crowd by using my gifts. However, I have always checked my motives, asking the question, “What is my goal in doing this?” This has kept me from using my God-given gifts to sell myself out.
 
When I was studying at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY, I heard of some churches who practiced snake handling. In fact, I have watched some of their videos on YouTube where a pastor handling venomous snakes was bitten, nearly losing his life. They took the pastor to the emergency room and he recovered after a good battle. You may ask the reason for these churches to handle snakes. These churches base their practice on Mark 16:18. Their practice is a very good example of tempting God.
 
To tempt God means to deliberately put yourself in a risky situation, expecting God to come through for you because of some biblical backing. Tempting God is overriding wisdom to put yourself in a situation, trusting that God will save the day. It also means, to ask God to sponsor or fund your personal agenda, which does not serve his interest. For such people, God leaves them to their folly because they have forsaken wisdom, which is the principle thing (Proverbs 4:7). God does not expect any person to take careless risks in order to sell out their prestige.
 
PRAYER:  Lord, grant me the capacity to use your gifts for your glory and to advance your kingdom. When I am tempted to be spectacular in a way that only serves my interest and not yours, help me.


Daily Devotional 4-3-19

Not Kingdoms of the World, but the Kingdom of God
 
Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” Luke 4:5-8.
 
The relentless devil launched another attack on Jesus. This time, he aimed at getting Jesus to worship him as the god of this world. He showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glories then negotiated for worship in exchange for the all the kingdoms. In 2015, I visited my brother in Japan and toured many places including the beautiful business center, the Minato Mirai in Yokohama, Japan. I enjoyed the sight of the skyscrapers and the beautiful architecture.  If you have been to any beautiful city, anywhere in the world, then you can understand the power of experiencing the splendor. And for some of you, it’s the splendor of nature and the beautiful sights of the sunrise or sunset that brings you much happiness.
 
Sight is very powerful, because what we see can have a tremendous impact on our lives, whether positive or negative. In the Garden of Eden, Eve saw how the fruit was good for food. It was desirable to the eyes, and knowing that it would make her wise, she ate it. She saw it and ate her life into rebellion. Jesus’ temptation is a replay of the temptation of Adam and Eve. Satan is very aware of the fact that what we see could corrupt our minds and hearts, causing us to rebel against God. Many marriages have been destroyed because a spouse started watching porn. Children and young adult lives has been ruined by movies they see or viewing indecent content in the media. Filter what you watch.
 
The devil asked Jesus for worship in exchange for the worldly kingdoms. This would have led to Jesus bowing to the authority of the devil. He would have forsaken his own identity as the One who created the kingdoms of the world. Jesus once again uses the word of God to convey that God is the only Authority people must worship. Many people have shifted their allegiance from God to the gods and idols of this world. They are bowing to authorities because of privileges and opportunities to indulge in the kingdoms of the world.
 
PRAYER: Lord, help me to submit only to the authority of Christ. Grant me the grace to filter what I watch knowing it can ruin or bless my life.


Daily Devotional 4-2-19

Stone to Bread? 

And the devil said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”  Luke 4:3-5
 
This week, we will examine the details of the three temptations that Jesus experienced. Temptations begin in the mind, for the mind is the battleground of the Christian. Jesus’ temptations were all played out in his mind—a reason we need to fill our minds and hearts with the word of God.
 
In our text today, Satan comes to Jesus at the opportune time with a particular temptation. Jesus had fasted for forty days and nights and he was hungry. Satan, being aware of Jesus’ physical need, asked him to turn some of the stones in the wilderness into bread to satisfy his hunger. This was a temptation for Jesus to use his divine power for a selfish purpose—to perform a miracle to meet his own need.
 
God has given gifts to us, and we may ask what we could make for ourselves out of this gift, or we could ask what we could do for others. We live in a world where people are striving to succeed in life, to climb the economic ladder, to leave a legacy for himself or herself. While these are not necessarily evil, many people employ foul means to achieve these desires. Sometimes gifted people end up fulfilling their own agendas using their gifts instead of having the mind to advance the kingdom of God. It is all about the motives!
 
Another side to this temptation: Satan wanted Jesus to quickly seek his way out of hunger using his divine powers. Natural human tendency is to flee difficulties by seeking quick and easy ways to fix our situation. But, the reality is that sometimes God employs difficult situations to shape and mold us for a higher purpose.
 
Jesus’ response to Satan’s trickery reveals the significance of the word of God. Jesus reveals that, yes, physical satisfaction is important, but the word of God satisfies the deepest needs of our soul. Many Christians are meticulous in feeding their physical bodies but their soul and spirit are enduring starvation. The word of God feeds our spirit so that we are not spiritually malnourished—promoting a healthy relationship with God and our neighbors.
 
PRAYER: Lord, help me to use your gifts, and graces to advance your kingdom. Cultivate in me a healthy motive as I serve people with your blessings.


Daily Devotional 4-1-19

The Struggle is Real   

Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days, He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.  Luke 4:1-2
 
Every Christian struggles with three kinds of enemies: the world with its sinful nature, Satan, and the Self (the individual fallen nature). These are constantly battling the children of God in order to make them rebel against the will and word of God. The reality is that we face these battles from the moment we wake up until we lie down to sleep again. To make this more practical, I believe you have had times when you did the very thing you swore never to do again. And you knew God was not happy. Maybe you felt guilty and ashamed about it. Indeed the struggle for you—a Christian—is very real. On the one hand, you desire to please God, and on the other hand, you keep falling short of pleasing God.
 
Our text today is an extract from the narrative of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, where he fasted for forty days and nights. A careful examination of the text reveals three aspects of temptation: the tempter, who is the devil; the one being tempted, Jesus; and the process of temptation (we will look at this in the remainder of this week’s devotionals). Throughout the scripture, we see many stories where God’s people were tempted. In Genesis 3, we find the popular story of the temptation of Eve by Satan. The first Adam fell victim to the temptation, while Jesus, the second Adam (1Corinthians 15:45-47), conquered the devil’s temptations.
 
Satan is not a respecter of persons. If he tempted Jesus, he will come at you through so many angles. Sometimes he knows your weakness and vulnerabilities; therefore, he pushes his wedges through at the right occasion and moment. It may seem impossible to overcome a particular kind of temptation after you have fallen victim to it repeatedly; however, there is a strong case for victory over temptations for you. Jesus overcame the tempter’s subtle devices and traps through the active use of the word of God. Jesus’ obedience to the word of God was absolute to the point where Satan could not floor him.
 
Don’t brood over your past failures; rise with absolute obedience to the word of God and the tempter will flee.
 
PRAYER: Lord, grant me the wisdom and discernment to act appropriately when I am tempted.
 
REFLECTION:  To what temptations do you have the least resistance? Which ones are you able to overcome easily (Hebrews 12:1).


Daily Devotional 3-29-19

Heavenly-Minded

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
 
We conclude our week with an invitation to be heavenly-minded. In the text above, Paul starts by telling us the reason we are to be people who set their minds on this instruction. He said we are God’s chosen people; we are a holy people; God dearly loves us. To me this is revolutionary! In the first place, God has chosen you to be his child. This is a great privilege you have as a person.  There is a special ongoing relationship between you and him. Based on the relationship you can call on him at any time, and tell him of your needs, etc. Secondly, God has made you holy. This may be hard for you to believe, however, the reality is that God looks at you through the Christ Jesus. Thus, you are seen as a holy person. The holiness of God has been imparted into your life. Yes, you are holy. This holiness is not based on what you do. God offers it as a gift to all who believe in Christ Jesus and his sacrifice. Lastly, God dearly loves you with an unconditional love that you could ever imagine.
 
Now, because of the following blessings we have: haven been chosen, made holy, and dearly loved by God—there is a particular way we ought to conduct ourselves. These three blessings make you special in the eyes of God, therefore, you cannot conduct your affairs in just any way. There should be indications in your life that, indeed, you have Christ in you.
 
So, Paul said, you should clothe yourself with compassion, humility, kindness, gentleness, and patience. Let us think about the verb clothe in the text. The clothes you wear are visible; you do not hide your clothes under something else. Now, let us import that idea into the text. Clothing yourself with the above stated virtues means they must become visible in your life. People should be able to tell if you have them or not. Is Paul inviting us to show off our deeds like the Pharisees? No! Instead, you live out these virtues because you have been changed from the inside out.
 
You do not tell people you are holy. They can tell by the fruits you bear. Don’t hide Christ in your life. Clothe yourself with him.


Daily Devotional 3-28-19

Invitation to Transformation
 
…but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
 
One of the gifts of human beings is the mind. The human brain functions in this realm, producing imaginations, thoughts, and ideas. The pattern of a person’s life is a product of the mind. For the Christian, the mind is a battleground between the spirit and the flesh. The wise teacher said, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…” Proverbs 23:7. The mind is such a powerful tool that will determine the direction of a person’s life.
 
Today’s scripture reveals the impact of the mind on spiritual formation. Paul reveals that spiritual transformation begins with the renewing of a person’s mind. So, what exactly is the nature of this transformation? The Greek word transformation translates to “to change from the inside out.” Naturally, an essential part of us remains unchanged though our outer form changes with time.  This essential part of our being serves as the ground for transformation. For us to truly worship and serve God we must experience changes inwardly. When the changes take place, it yields fruits externally for all to see and glorify God.
 
What exactly is this change? Paul describes this change as moving from a life dominated by the flesh and its desires into a life dominated by the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit takes over, we transition from self-centeredness to Christ-centered. For Christ to become the focal point of our life, Paul said, it starts with the renewing of our mind. Thus, we must fill our minds with the word of God. This result is the change of character. In this new life, we clothe ourselves with Christ.
 
Feed your mind and heart with the word of God, and your life will become like the word of God.
 
Reflection: Are there areas in your life where you struggle to yield to Christ?