believe

So, as the Holy Spirit says, Today, if you hear his voice, don’t have stubborn hearts as they did in the rebellion, on the day when they tested me in the desert. That is where your ancestors challenged and tested me, though they had seen my work for forty years. 10 So I was angry with them. I said, “Their hearts always go off course, and they don’t know my ways.11 Because of my anger I swore:They will never enter my rest!12 Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that none of you have an evil, unfaithful heart that abandons the living God. 13 Instead, encourage each other every day, as long as it’s called “today,” so that none of you become insensitive to God because of sin’s deception. 14 We are partners with Christ, but only if we hold on to the confidence we had in the beginning until the end. 15 When it says, Today, if you hear his voice, don’t have stubborn hearts as they did in the rebellion. 16 Who was it who rebelled when they heard his voice? Wasn’t it all of those who were brought out of Egypt by Moses? 17 And with whom was God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it with the ones who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18 And against whom did he swear that they would never enter his rest, if not against the ones who were disobedient? 19 We see that they couldn’t enter because of their lack of faith. (Hebrews 3:7-19, CEB)

Do we find it hard to believe the promises we see God has done?

Sometimes it is really easy to say God will do that for others but not for me. God’s grace and promises are for every one else, but not me.

Know that you are not so powerful that you can stop God from fulfilling God’s promises in your life.

When you hear God’s voice and feel the moving of the Spirit, believe.

Loving People. Loving God.

Not just doing…

27 “You have heard that it was said, Don’t commit adultery. 28 But I say to you that every man who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart. 29 And if your right eye causes you to fall into sin, tear it out and throw it away. It’s better that you lose a part of your body than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to fall into sin, chop it off and throw it away. It’s better that you lose a part of your body than that your whole body go into hell. 31 “It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a divorce certificate.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife except for sexual unfaithfulness forces her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. 33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago: Don’t make a false solemn pledge, but you should follow through on what you have pledged to the Lord. 34 But I say to you that you must not pledge at all. You must not pledge by heaven, because it’s God’s throne. 35 You must not pledge by the earth, because it’s God’s footstool. You must not pledge by Jerusalem, because it’s the city of the great king. 36 And you must not pledge by your head, because you can’t turn one hair white or black. (Matthew 5:27-36, CEB)

This passage basically makes all of us adulterers.

Jesus here says it is not just about the act of committing adultery, but you commit adultery if you think about it. Thinking about doing something is the same as doing it. And probably all of us have thought about doing something we shouldn’t with some one who isn’t our partner.

And we can not pledge on anything either. We are all basically sinners. Oh wait we are.

We are all sinners, made saints by Christ.

So in everything you do, try to think pure thoughts and always share God’s love in the world.

Loving People. Loving God.

reason

10 I’m passing on the Lord’s command to those who are married: A wife shouldn’t leave her husband, 11 but if she does leave him, then she should stay single or be reconciled to her husband. And a man shouldn’t divorce his wife. 12 I’m telling everyone else (the Lord didn’t say this specifically): If a believer has a wife who doesn’t believe, and she agrees to live with him, then he shouldn’t divorce her. 13 If a woman has a husband who doesn’t believe and he agrees to live with her, then she shouldn’t divorce him. 14 The husband who doesn’t believe belongs to God because of his wife, and the wife who doesn’t believe belongs to God because of her husband. Otherwise, your children would be contaminated by the world, but now they are spiritually set apart. 15 But if a spouse who doesn’t believe chooses to leave, then let them leave. The brother or sister isn’t tied down in these circumstances. God has called you to peace. 16 How do you know as a wife if you will save your husband? Or how do you know as a husband if you will save your wife? (1 Corinthians 7:10-16, CEB)

Simply because you don’t believe the same things is not a reason to divorce.

You do not have to agree on everything to be married. That is a shocker!

And if your partner doesn’t believe, you may just be giving them a hand up. If you can love and care for each other than you can stay married. Now if one spouse is abusing the other, then you need to end the relationship. God doesn’t want us to stay in abusive relationships.

We need to know though that everyone will not always agree with us. and that is ok. We still need to be about sharing God’s love in everything we do.

Loving People. Loving God.

Sex

Now, about what you wrote: “It’s good for a man not to have sex with a woman.” Each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband because of sexual immorality. The husband should meet his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should do the same for her husband. The wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Don’t refuse to meet each other’s needs unless you both agree for a short period of time to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come back together again so that Satan might not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I’m saying this to give you permission; it’s not a command. I wish all people were like me, but each has a particular gift from God: one has this gift, and another has that one. I’m telling those who are single and widows that it’s good for them to stay single like me. But if they can’t control themselves, they should get married, because it’s better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:1-9, CEB)

Wow. Straight forward and eye opening.

It’s good for a man not to have sex with a woman…

But if you are married then you body belongs to your partner. And you need to fulfill their needs, unless you have agreed to a time of focusing on prayer.

Paul here tells the Corinthians he wishes everyone was like him and able to not be married, but if your sexual urges are too strong then get married so you can take care of those desires and live a life that shows God’s love.

So be married and take care of your partners needs, and show God’s love to the world.

Loving People. Loving God.

forbid

Some Pharisees came and, trying to test him, they asked, “Does the Law allow a man to divorce his wife?” Jesus answered, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a divorce certificate and to divorce his wife.” Jesus said to them, “He wrote this commandment for you because of your unyielding hearts. At the beginning of creation, God made them male and femaleBecause of this, a man should leave his father and mother and be joined together with his wife, and the two will be one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, humans must not pull apart what God has put together.” 10 Inside the house, the disciples asked him again about this. 11 He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if a wife divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” 13 People were bringing children to Jesus so that he would bless them. But the disciples scolded them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he grew angry and said to them, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. 15 I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he hugged the children and blessed them. (Mark 10:2-16, CEB)

Here again we see that if you divorce and remarry you commit adultery. I have a friend who is divorced and she refuses to get married again because she doesn’t want to make the man an adulterer. I applaud her tenacity. Because it clearly says here that if you are divorced and get remarried that you are an adulterer. Now as I said in yesterdays devotion, own that. That is a sin you are committing and don’t have to hide from the world. Not that we need to hide any of our sins because why does it matter what someone, who isn’t God, thinks about our sins.

But here we also have the disciples forbidding children to come to Jesus. How can we forbid anyone to come to Jesus? We need to actively help everyone come to Jesus and believe like a child. Where we believe because we have been told, and not because we have seen.

Let us all share love and grace and not forbid anyone.

Love People. Love God.

sinner

14 The Pharisees, who were money-lovers, heard all this and sneered at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves before other people, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued by people is deeply offensive to God. 16 Until John, there was only the Law and the Prophets. Since then, the good news of God’s kingdom is preached, and everyone is urged to enter it. 17 It’s easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the smallest stroke of a pen in the Law to drop out. 18 Any man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and a man who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. (Luke 16:14-18, CEB)

Here is the good news for those who are divorced and remarried, when someone says what are the sins you are guilty of, you can honestly say adultery. Name it and claim it as your sin.

Now that may sound wrong. Pastor, why would you say that is good news? Well we all try to hide our sin and not let others know what it is. We are afraid people will judge us based on the sins we commit.

He is a murderer, and she is an adulterer. Well we all do it and those who are divorced and remarried can own it.

And see that is really the truth. We do not need to hide our sin, because God already knows it and forgives us. So why do we care what others think about how we sin? It means nothing what someone other than God thinks about your sin.

Sin is something that separates us from God and that relationship is not controlled by anyone but you and God. So don’t judge others, and don’t be worried about what others think of you.

Love People. Love God.

based on

So now there isn’t any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. God has done what was impossible for the Law, since it was weak because of selfishness. God condemned sin in the body by sending his own Son to deal with sin in the same body as humans, who are controlled by sin. He did this so that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us. Now the way we live is based on the Spirit, not based on selfishness. People whose lives are based on selfishness think about selfish things, but people whose lives are based on the Spirit think about things that are related to the Spirit. The attitude that comes from selfishness leads to death, but the attitude that comes from the Spirit leads to life and peace. So the attitude that comes from selfishness is hostile to God. It doesn’t submit to God’s Law, because it can’t. People who are self-centered aren’t able to please God. But you aren’t self-centered. Instead you are in the Spirit, if in fact God’s Spirit lives in you. If anyone doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, they don’t belong to him. 10 If Christ is in you, the Spirit is your life because of God’s righteousness, but the body is dead because of sin. 11 If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your human bodies also, through his Spirit that lives in you. (Romans 8:1-11, CEB)

What is the focus of your life?

Why do you do the things you do?

Is your life based on the Spirit, or on yourself?

Those who live a life of the Spirit are focused on others before themselves. They look to the needs of the other rather than what they need. They are not self centered, but are focused on the people around them and what the situations call for to bring light and love to the world.

So focus on others, and know that God is always with you to fill you.

Love People. Love God.

One in Christ

23 Before faith came, we were guarded under the Law, locked up until faith that was coming would be revealed, 24 so that the Law became our custodian until Christ so that we might be made righteous by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian. 26 You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 Now if you belong to Christ, then indeed you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:23-29, CEB)

There is neither Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female…

Did you catch that?

Jew or Greek. In Jesus day and in the understanding of the Jewish nation there were Jews and those who were not Jewish, or what they termed Greek, or what gets translated as Greek and is really the nations.

slave or free. You were either a free person or a slave of someone. And slaves in this time are not like now but were fulfilling a repayment to someone.

male AND female. Why is this one and and not or? That is interesting. Maybe it is because the first two are creations of human kind and this one is not. Maybe God created this category and it is not under our control.

We are all one in Christ regardless of who we are or where we come from. We are all one in Christ regardless if we see this is true. God created all of us and we are all equally loved by God.

So don’t judge someone because they are different than you. Love them like God does, and remember we are all one in Christ.

Love People. Love God.

Integrity

“As for whoever causes these little ones who believe in me to trip and fall into sin, it would be better for them to have a huge stone hung around their necks and be drowned in the bottom of the lake. How terrible it is for the world because of the things that cause people to trip and fall into sin! Such things have to happen, but how terrible it is for the person who causes those things to happen! If your hand or your foot causes you to fall into sin, chop it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter into life crippled or lame than to be thrown into the eternal fire with two hands or two feet. If your eye causes you to fall into sin, tear it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter into life with one eye than to be cast into a burning hell with two eyes. (Matthew 18:6-9, CEB)

This passage can be summed up in the title of this devotion, integrity.

Live your life in such a way that it points to the love that God has given you. Show forth the grace and mercy you have received and live your life like you should. Say what you mean and mean what you say and allow your life to show that you live the love you received.

Do not lead others astray, just love.

Love People. Love God.

Eternal Life

18 Little children, it is the last hour. Just as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really part of us. If they had been part of us, they would have stayed with us. But by going out from us, they showed they all are not part of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the holy one, and all of you know the truth. 21 I don’t write to you because you don’t know the truth but because you know it. You know that no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? Isn’t it the person who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This person is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Everyone who denies the Son does not have the Father, but the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 As for you, what you heard from the beginning must remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, you will also remain in relationship to the Son and in the Father. 25 This is the promise that he himself gave us: eternal life. (1 John 2:18-25, CEB)

The promise we have from God is eternal life. Not a life that is to come but a life we live here and now, eternally.

We know the truth and we know God is good to the promises that have been made. Do not lose sight of this, even in the midst of those who would lead us astray from God.

Hold tight to the truth and know that God is always for us.

Love People. Love God.