Sunday Devotional: Matthew 10:16-23

“Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves. Because people will hand you over to sanhedrins and flog you in their synagogues, beware of them. You will even be brought before governors and kings because of Me, to bear witness to them and to the nations. But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you should speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, because you are not speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you.

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will even rise up against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of My name. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered. When they persecute you in one town, escape to another. For I assure you: You will not have covered the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” (Matthew 10:16-23)

Jesus spoke these words to the 12 disciples before sending them out on mission to preach the Gospel.  He was letting them know about the dangers and risks that were in front of them.  He was informing them of the harshness that they would face.  He was telling them the truth about how hard the mission would be.  It was not going to be easy but it would be worth it.

The same is true today. We will face hardships and persecution when preaching the truth of Jesus Christ. We will be hated. We will be despised. We will be rejected. Jesus Himself was despised and rejected. We as his followers should not expect less. But Jesus promised us we would never be alone.  He has promised the Holy Spirit with us. And one day He will return.

In the meantime, we are called to share the truth in love. We are to keep sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the midst of hardship and persecution, in the midst of being hated and despised. We are to keep fighting the good fight for the sake of the Gospel.

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Sunday Devotional: Psalm 119:9-16

“How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word.
 With my whole heart I seek you;
    let me not wander from your commandments!
 I have stored up your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.
 Blessed are you, O Lord;
    teach me your statutes!
 With my lips I declare
    all the rules of your mouth.
 In the way of your testimonies I delight
    as much as in all riches.
 I will meditate on your precepts
    and fix my eyes on your ways.
 I will delight in your statutes;
    I will not forget your word.” (Psalm 119:9-16)

These are words written by David in part of what is known as the longest chapter in the Bible.  David knew the importance of knowing God’s word (at that time the Torah) and keeping it close to his heart and mind.  The way to follow God and be faithful was to keep his teachings close by and “stored up” in one’s heart.

Today we have both the Old Testament and New Testament.  Both teach us of God’s faithfulness throughout the ages as well as His love for us.  He wants us to “store up” His word in our hearts so that we “might not sin” against Him.  Through the Holy Spirit, we are able to study and hear for God as we read the Bible.  That should give us great joy.

This week, as we are in our personal study times of the Bible, let us delight in His statues.  Let us not forget His word.  Let us fix our eyes on His ways.  And let us share this good news to a world that is in desperate need of good news.

Sunday Devotional: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-12

“For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.  You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers.  For you know how, like a father with his children,  we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”  (1 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Paul loved the Thessalonians.  The brief time he was in the city, he worked hard and loved on the people there.  They bore witness to the work that Paul and Silas did in sharing the Good News and making disciples.  And he wanted them to follow in his footsteps.  He cared for them like a father to his children.

Let us this week care for those around us like that.  Let us work hard and love on the people around us.  Let us share the Good News and be about making disciples and encouraging others to do the same.

Sunday Devotional: Ezra 7:1-10

“Now after this, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest— this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the Lord, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him.

And there went up also to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king, some of the people of Israel, and some of the priests and Levites, the singers and gatekeepers, and the temple servants.  And Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king.  For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him.  For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.”

Ezra knew what he was supposed to do.  He had those who came before him and their track record of following God and leading the people in worshiping God.  He had the education in studying God’s word.  And he had the calling on his life from God to serve.  Ezra led a group of people from Babylon back to Jerusalem while the temple was being rebuilt.  There was spiritual rebuilding as well that needed to take place.  Ezra knew what he was supposed to do in helping in the spiritual rebuilding in Israel.

This week, there may be places and opportunities for us to help in the rebuilding of someone’s spiritual life.  Let us be like Ezra and have our hearts set on studying God’s Word and doing what it says to do & be willing to share what we learn with others.

Sunday Devotional: 1 John 2:12-14

“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.  I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.  I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.  I write to you, children, because you know the Father.  I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.  I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”  (1 John 2:12-14)

The apostle John is writing to believers in this letter and he makes a point to encourage them in their faith.  No matter what stage of their Christian walk they were at, John wanted to encourage them.  Those that were just starting out, those that were going for a while and those that had been going for a long time.

As Christians, we are all at different stages of our walk.  But we are not to stay at those stages, we are to continue to grow.  As we follow Jesus, we will grow and mature and be there to encourage others to grow in their faith.  This week, I hope that whatever stage you are at, you are thankful for Christ and what he’s done for you and will continue to grow and mature in following Him.