Sunday Devotional: Romans 15:5-7

“Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.

Therefore accept one another, just as the Messiah also accepted you, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:5-7)

We live in a world with a lot of discord and disharmony.  There is a lot of division.  Sin divides us.  But Jesus brings us together.  Paul wrote to the church in Rome and reminded them of this.  On their own, there is division and strife.  But with God, there is unity.

God gives us the endurance and encouragement.  He gives us the hope to come together united.  This is possible through the work of Jesus Christ.  Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins and rose again, is able to bring together people from all walks of life.

The other big thing in this passage is accepting.  Paul is not saying we are to accept sins but we are to accept sinners because we all are sinners.  But through the grace and glory of God, we have been accepted by the work on Jesus Christ and we can repent and turn to Him.

This week let us encourage one another.  Let us live in harmony and let us show love and acceptance to others and as we do point them to Jesus.

Sunday Devotional: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

“Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed for no purpose.  For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:

that Christ died for our sins
according to the Scriptures,
that He was buried,
that He was raised on the third day
according to the Scriptures,
and that He appeared to Cephas,
then to the Twelve.
Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time;
most of them are still alive,
but some have fallen asleep.
Then He appeared to James,
then to all the apostles.
Last of all, as to one abnormally born,
He also appeared to me.

For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me. Therefore, whether it is I or they, so we proclaim and so you have believed.”  (1 Corinthians 15:1-11)

This passage written by Paul one of his letters to the Corinthians church was in essence the Gospel message.  Paul shared with the Corinthians what was at heart of the message: Christ.  Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and who was resurrected.  This death and resurrection was foretold according to the scriptures.  And that there were eyewitnesses to this resurrection.

This is the message that the apostles proclaimed.  It is the message that Paul proclaimed.  It is the message that we are to proclaim.  And through the grace of God we have received this message and believe it.  And we are called to share this message as well.  This week, let us remember the message that we have been given.  That Jesus Christ died for our sins and was resurrected according to the scriptures.  And by that we are able to repent and receive forgiveness and believe.

Sunday Devotional: Ephesians 2:11-18

“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—  remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,  and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.  And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” (Ephesians 2:11-18)

Paul, in this letter to the church in Ephesus, like many of his letters to various churches wanted to encourage and exhort his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  Here he wanted to remind them of what brings us all together and that’s Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross.  At one time the Gentiles (non Jews or the “uncircumcision”) were far away from God and the promises that God gives to His people.  There was no hope.  However because of Jesus Christ and what He has done, He made a way not just the Jews but the Gentiles as well.

Because of Jesus Christ, we can not only be reconciled to the Father but we can be reconciled with one another as well.  Jesus brings peace to those who were “far off” and to those who were “near”.  All have the opportunity to be reconciled and to be at peace.

This week, let us be reminded of this great news.  We are not left without hope.  We have hope in Jesus Christ.  We are not left without peace.  We have peace through Jesus Christ.  And we get to share that message with the world to everyone.

Sunday Devotional: Psalm 71:1-8

“In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
    let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
    turn your ear to me and save me.
Be my rock of refuge,
    to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.
Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
    from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.

For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
    my confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on you;
    you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
    I will ever praise you.
I have become a sign to many;
    you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
    declaring your splendor all day long.” (Psalm 71:1-8)

This portion of scripture is another of David’s writings.  Throughout many of the Psalms, David writes and sings about God’s faithfulness.  He praises the Lord for being his hope and salvation.  He knows that the Lord is the one who is able to deliver.

David went through good times and bad.  He was a part of great victories and he suffered heartbreaking losses.  Yet through it all He relied on the Lord.  May we have that kind of faith.  May we have that trust in the Lord that He will deliver us through our sufferings and hardships  May we have that kind of praise of the Lord in giving thanks for what He has done in our lives.  May be, like David, be a sign to all those around us about who God is and what He has done.

This week let us take refuge in the Lord.  Let us have our mouths filled with praise.  And let us be that sign to many that God is faithful, He is loving and that He delivers.

Sunday Devotional: Matthew 14:53-58

“And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?  And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”  And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.”  And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”  (Matthew 14:53-58)

What happened in this portion of Matthew is a reminder that not everyone that heard the message that Jesus preached believed.  He went back to the city of Nazareth in which he grew up and did the same thing that he did in other cities, preached and taught in the synagogues.  However, the people there didn’t believe.  They grew up with Jesus but they did not see Him as the Son of God.  So he moved on from Nazareth and continued on His mission.

Even Jesus was rejected.  We see that numerous times throughout the Gospels.  There were those that heard the message and rejected it.  Yet there were others that heard the message and gladly received it.  It is through God’s grace and mercy that we have that message today.  So as we share the good news of Jesus, let us remember that we may be rejected for it.  However, the Gospel is worth continuing to share to all.  Let us be encouraged this week in being about sharing that good news.

Thursday Quote Day: Amy Carmichael

This week’s “Thursday Quote Day” features a quote from missionary Amy Carmichael:

“But God is the God of the waves and the billows, and they are still His when they come over us; and again and again we have proved that the overwhelming thing does not overwhelm. Once more by His interposition deliverance came. We were cast down, but not destroyed.”  (Amy Carmichael)