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Seven Days of Devotion
The Weekly Word is a Collection of Devotionals to be read on the Day Listed and presented freely as a service to and for the Body of Christ and Believers throughout the World that We may Hear God Speak to us as the Spirit of God gives us ears to hear and eyes to see what God would have for us daily in relationship to Him.
America has never been more spiritual, yet so immoral at the same time.
A 2009 poll found that Americans are more interested in “faith and spirituality” than they are in Christianity. One expert said, “Americans increasingly want to shape their own faith experience,” what he calls “concoct[ing] a uniquely personal brand of faith.”
“What they’ve done is they have put together a whole series of beliefs and a series of religious practices and a series of relationships and connections—all of that that makes sense to them and helps them to feel good about themselves,” he said.
Why not? In the age of the iPod, iPhone, iMac, and now the iPad, we have “iFaith” and “iGod.”
With iFaith and iGod, you control the home screen. You can write your own programs or apps. You can customize it to your own liking.
You can leave the parts you like, such as love, forgiveness, and heaven. You can take out the parts you don’t like, such as hell, judgment, and righteousness—just highlight them, and hit the “delete” key.
We, as a nation, no longer accept certain truths that our Founding Fathers held. Instead, what we have instead is moral relativism.
What is moral relativism? It is the belief that there are no absolutes. In other words, there is no right or wrong.
Now, to some, this may sound fine in theory, but if you play it out, it is madness!
If you were to go out in the middle of the night and remove all the traffic lights, all the lane markers, and all the signs, you would have chaos.
And for many, that is what their life is: chaos. They have no moral compass to guide them. There is no set of absolutes, just their opinions.
If there is a God in moral relativism, it is a God of our own making. What you really have is people “making God into their own image.”
As it’s been said, “God made us in His own image and we returned the favor.” Instead of us becoming like God, we want God to become like us.
It’s time to get back the other way around again.
A Crown for You
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
With two granddaughters, I am just discovering that little girls like to dress up as princesses. Having raised two boys, I had never dealt with this. But now I know that little girls like to be princesses. This was further confirmed when I was at Disneyland awhile ago and saw little Cinderellas and Sleeping Beauties walking around, complete with full gowns, crowns, and scepters.
There is something about us that wants to be royalty. The good news is that for believers, a crown of life is specifically promised for the man or woman who has resisted temptation and persevered under trial: "God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him" (James 1:12).
It doesn't seem fair sometimes when we see people suffer, when we see someone who has to go through life with a disability or difficulty. But God says, "I have a special crown for those who have endured this. I have a special crown for those who are hurting. I have a special crown for those have resisted temptation."
Maybe while many of your friends caved in and said, "You are missing out on all of the fun," you said, "I am going to be faithful to God. I am not going to do what you are doing." One day, you will have a crown to show for it.
Not only that, but there is also the crown of righteousness, which will be given to those who have served God and have a heart for heaven (see 2 Timothy 4:8). Do you long for the return of Jesus Christ? Then there is a crown that awaits you. So complete the work God has given you to do. Make your life count.
The Reality of Hell
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
—2 Peter 3:9
When I was being interviewed on a Christian television show, I was asked why I spoke so much about eternity. I had never really noticed that before. I thought about it for a moment and said, "You know, I guess the answer is that when you get down to it, it is the most important thing there is."
Most people believe in heaven, and most people believe they are going there. But Jesus said, "Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it" (Matthew 7:13). If we believe the Bible, then we have to accept this simple fact: Most people are actually headed to hell. We are very uncomfortable with that. But the truth is that hell is a real place.
Jesus Christ spoke more about hell than all of the other preachers of the Bible put together. It has been estimated that of the 40 parables that Jesus told, more than half of them dealt with God's eternal judgment and hell. Most of the teaching we have on the topic of hell was given to us by Christ himself. For the very reason that He is the personification of love and grace and mercy, He doesn't want any man or woman uniquely made in His image to spend eternity in hell.
As a pastor, I want to teach the Word of God. I want to help people grow in their faith as followers of Jesus. But when it is all said and done, the greatest thing I want to see happen is that people who were on their way to hell will be on their way to heaven instead. I want people to change their eternal address. That is why I do what I do.
Don't Stop Praying
And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
When Jesus was on the cross, one of the men being crucified next to Him came to his senses and said, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom" (Luke 23:42).
So Jesus said, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (verse 43). You might describe what happened to this man as a deathbed conversion. And this gives a measure of hope to those who maybe have given up on certain people who have no need for God—or at least think they have no need for God. Don't stop praying for them. Because I have heard glorious stories of people coming to Christ right before their deaths. My own mother did not really come to Christ until about a month before she went to heaven, and I had prayed for her throughout my life as a Christian. Maybe you feel right now that someone you know never will come around. But they may.
Or sometimes we fear that certain people who have died are in hell right now. But we are not in a position to say who is in hell. I do think I can authoritatively say who is in heaven, because if a person has put his or her faith in Christ, the Bible assures us that this person is in heaven. But unless you were with someone when they passed into eternity, you don't know what happened. It is possible that someone you shared the gospel with, someone you told about Jesus, perhaps put their faith in Christ in the last few moments of their life. And you might be surprised to see them in glory some day.
I think there will be some surprises when we get to heaven. So don't give up on the people you are praying for.
A Freely Chosen Path
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.
Hell was not made for people; hell was created for the devil and his angels (see Matthew 25:41). It was never God's intention to send a person to hell. He does everything He can to keep us out of it. But God has given us a free will. We have the ability to choose, and God will not violate that. If you want to go to heaven, then you will—if you put your faith in Christ. If you want to go to hell, then you will. It is your choice.
People will protest on that final day and say, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?" (Matthew 7:22). And Jesus will sadly but firmly say, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (verse 23).
Some people might say, "Wait! I went to church on Sunday!" And, "Wait! I received communion!" And, "Wait! I was baptized." But Jesus will say, in effect, "But I never knew you. It was just a thing you did. We never had a relationship. You broke My commandments left and right. It's your own choice that you are facing."
It is not enough to say you believe in God. It is not enough to acknowledge that God exists. You need to turn from your sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ, and Him alone, as Savior and Lord.
As Timothy Keller said, "Hell is simply one's freely chosen path going on forever." If that is what you want, then that is what you will get. God wants you to go to heaven, but He will not force you. He gives you a choice, and it is up to you what you do with that choice.
Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God.
Some people say, "Well, I don't need Jesus Christ because I live by the Ten Commandments."
My response to someone who said that would be, "Let's start by asking if you can name the Ten Commandments."
"Uh, thou shalt recycle?"
"No. . . . Have you broken any of them?"
"Well, I don't know."
Those who want to live by the law are in trouble, because the Bible says, "For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God's laws" (James 2:10). God's law was never given to make a person righteous; it is a moral mirror that shows us our true state before God, to drive us into the open arms of Jesus. The law says, "You are not good enough. You need God's help."
The Bible compares God's law to a mirror. Mirrors are helpful, because they reveal truth to us. If you go out to lunch with your friends and don't know why they seem to be laughing as you are talking, then they probably haven't told you something that you need to know. When you go into the restroom, you realize that when you put your lipstick on in the dark that morning, you missed your lips. Your friends didn't tell you the truth about yourself, but the mirror did. So God's law was not given to make you righteous, but to show you that you have fallen short of it.
Romans 3:19 says, "Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God." Everyone who has been exposed to the truth of God's law will be held responsible.
American Idol is back with a new panelist and an endless list of hopefuls, wanting to be America’s next pop star. Each one competes before the judges, who will decide the winner of the top prize.
I suggest the same is true for us as Christians too. We decide who our God or idol will be.
Make no mistake about it, idols are alive and well in our culture today. We may not call them Dagon, Ashtoreth, Baal, Zeus, or Thor, as people of ancient times did. They may have different names, but we still bow before them.
Everybody has a god
Paul tells us then when we believe in Jesus, we turn away from idols to serve God. The apostle John wrote, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols“ (1 John 5:21).
So, what exactly would an idol be today? An idol is anything or anyone that takes the place of God in our lives.
And know this: everybody has a God. Even atheists have a god. It is not the true God, but nonetheless they have a god that they worship and serve.
Believe it or not, idolatry comes naturally to us all. Why? Because we must worship,and we will worship.
Even as nature abhors a vacuum, so does the human soul. The human soul will find an object of worship, either on the shelf, on the altar, in the mirror, or in heaven.
Why? Because we are born idolators.
Why would we trade the living God for some fake one? Because it gives us control!
Albert Mohler, in his book Hearing the Voice of God in the Ten Commandments, wrote this:
We can pick an idol up and we can put an idol down. We can move an idol to this place, and then we can remove it to another place. The idol is at our disposal. We can hide it from our sight, or we can put it in the center of the room. We will devise our own worship because we have devised our own God.
To that, I might add to that we feel we can then live our own way.
So, my question to you is, who or what is your God?
What gets you excited? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What do you think about, dream about, plan for, or perhaps scheme for.
What are you really passionate about? Because that is your God.
I hope your answer is the Lord God and not a false one. Because the Lord can save you, but false gods can’t.
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