Ezekiel 10:1-11:25 There was a song in the late fifties called "Hearts Made of Stone." I'm sure the writer of this song had no idea he was quoting Scripture. The promise to Israel in Ezekiel 11:19 is, "Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh."
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Hebrews 5:1-14 Obedience is a word that usually causes us to flinch. Something inside of us does not like that word. That something inside of us is called "the flesh." I recall the story of the little boy who was told over and over again by his mother to sit down and be still. Little Johnny finally obeyed, but he told his mother, "I'm sitting down on the outside, but I'm standing up on the inside." Obeying outside without having an obedient heart inside is still rebellion.
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:5-8, NKJV)
Hebrews 4:1-16 This passage in Hebrews speaks of Jesus as our High Priest who was tempted in all points even as we are tempted. He, however, never sinned. Jesus called himself the Son of man often because He was flesh, blood and bone just as we are. God tented Himself in flesh so He could experience all we experience except sin. As a man, Jesus was subject to temptation just as we all are. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. One thing we often forget is that God sometimes allows the devil to tempt us. God gave permission to the devil to tempt Job. God, however, is not the tempter, as James clearly teaches: "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed" (James 1:13-14).
Hebrews 3:1-19 We live in a day when many are falling away, and one of the main reasons is the severe lack of exhortation between brothers and sisters in Christ. The letter to the Hebrews could be subtitled "EXHORTING BELIEVERS TO EXHORT." We are urged to exhort one another daily while it is still today. If we are faithful to exhort one another, we will not be as likely to fall for the deceitfulness of sin.
Hebrews 2:1-18 We've talked much about winning the race of life and running it well by walking in truth and love. We talked about the crown that awaits all those who love the appearing of Christ. Most of us, however, go through life without the realization that we already are wearing a victor's crown. Listen to what the writer says in Hebrews: "Thou madest him [and all of us] a little lower than the angels: thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands. Thou hast put all things in subjection under him?.?.?.? he left nothing that is not put under him" (vv. 7-8).
Lamentations 2:20-3:66 In my yearly reading the Bible through, one of the books I breeze through quickly is Lamentations. This book is so negative, yet in the midst of the lamentations of Jeremiah are rich nuggets about God's faithfulness. Listen to just a few verses: "It is the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord." (Lam. 3:22-26, KJV).
Psalm 101:1-8 David speaks of walking within his house with a perfect heart. This has been a prayer of mine daily: "Lord, help me to walk in my house with a perfect heart." When I pray this prayer, I am also making a covenant with God:
Titus 3:1-15 Yesterday we learned what older women should teach younger women. Today we see a list of subjects to be taught to younger men. Younger men should be taught to develop the following:
Titus 2:1-15 I don't feel aged, but since I am celebrating fifty-plus years as a Christian as I write these devotionals, I guess I have to admit that the golden years have now overtaken me. When I entered the season of the golden years of my life, I rejoiced because it has been a great season of teaching for me. In this passage of Titus Paul tells Titus that older women should teach younger women. Then he lists those subjects that should be taught to younger women. He says older women should teach younger women to:
A remarkable, amazing, extraordinary life is not restricted to certain individuals or professions. It doesn't matter who you are or how you serve in life. If you're a schoolteacher, businessperson, government leader, stay-at-home mom, athlete, factory worker, hairstylist, student, pastor, it doesn't matter because you were created for extraordinary achievements in that role. The power to accomplish remarkable feats and live an exceptional life is not tied to an occupation but to a disposition of the heart. This is not only God's will but also His great pleasure.
Psalm 97:1-98:9 God loves silence, but He also loves songs of praise and joyful sounds. He created each bird with a special song. I love to be awakened by the song of a red bird, and this happens often since we live in woods that are swarming with red birds. When God created the heavens and the earth, He created them to declare His glory. Even the trees clap their hands in joy. The heavens rejoice and declare His glory. Every time I hear a clap of thunder, I am reminded of the awesome and glorious power of God.
2 Timothy 4:1-22 Paul finishes his final instructions to Timothy, and we all would do well to heed those instructions. Timothy was a teacher and preacher of God's Word. He had the gift of evangelism. We are all preachers, teachers and evangelists if we are true believers. Even though we may not hold the office of teacher, preacher or evangelist in the church, our lives and speech daily preach and teach what we believe to others. Anytime we share the love of Christ with another, we are an evangelist. Paul gives specific instructions about how Timothy should preach and teach. He says:
2 Timothy 2:22-3:17 Yesterday we prayed for those who receive the torch of God's truth from our hand to run the race of life in such a way that they glorify God. In this chapter of 2 Timothy, Paul gives Timothy specific instructions about how to run the race of life well. He says, "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient. In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God preadventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will" (2 Tim. 2:22-26, KJV).
2 Timothy 2:1-21 It was 1996, and Atlanta was hosting the summer Olympics. Runners carried the Olympic torch from the West Coast to Atlanta. Different runners were chosen for the major cities to run several miles with the torch, and then it was passed to the next runner. Our neighborhood was excited because the runners were going to pass the torch just a couple of blocks from our neighborhood. We all turned out en masse to see this meaningful event. It was thrilling to see one runner hand the torch to another.
2 Timothy 1:1-18 Today's New Testament reading is one of my favorite scriptures. I have memorized 2 Timothy 1:7, and I use it often against the enemy as an effective sword of the spirit to wound him when he tries to wound me through fear. Listen to this wonderful scripture: "For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
1 Timothy 6:1-21 Yesterday we were exhorted not to judge others. One of the reasons we are critical and judgmental of others is because we are walking in pride instead of walking in love. There are two forms of pride—superiority and inferiority. We either think too highly of ourselves, or too lowly of ourselves. When we think too highly of ourselves, we delight in criticizing and putting down others. When we think too lowly of ourselves, we often try to elevate ourselves by putting others down. Whether we think too highly of ourselves or too lowly of ourselves, we are not seeing ourselves as God sees us. Humility is seeing ourselves as God sees us, and when He looks at us He says one thing, "You are worth the death of My own Son." This is the price that was paid for you, and therefore you are seen by God as a precious treasure—a treasure worth dying for, and He did just that.
1 Timothy 5:1-25 Later in 2 Timothy Paul writes Timothy and tells him to rebuke those who oppose themselves by going their own willful way even after they have walked for a season with Christ Jesus. We are to rebuke those who will not endure sound doctrine, but who instead walk after their own lusts. In today's reading we see a clear warning to Timothy about not rebuking certain people. Paul says, "Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren" (v. 1, KJV).
One of the main reasons I avoided Christianity for years was its portrayal. I, like many others, saw people of God as Bible-thumping critics who were quick to judge the flaws of others. Or I thought they were passive, backward and ignorant. The idea that Christians were pioneers who lived and thought outside the box, behaving in extraordinary ways, never crossed my mind.
1 Timothy 4:1-16 The Holy Spirit is the "great teacher." Jesus says He, the Holy Spirit, will lead us into all truth, and He will bring to our remembrance everything that Jesus spoke about while He taught on earth. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have a teacher. Some people have deceived themselves into thinking they are their own boss and they don't have to learn anything from any man. The truth, however, is that every day of our lives we are learning something. Our teacher may be experience, environment, hard knocks, etc., but ultimately we are taught either by Satan and his demons or by God and His Holy Spirit. Jesus gave us a great invitation. He said "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).
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