Sunday Devotional: Romans 8:1-4

“Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering,  in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4)

This week in the news brought a reminder to the truth about condemnation.  We all apart from Jesus Christ stand condemned before God.  We are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God.  On our own, we are unable to be considered righteous.  However, this is not thankfully the end of the story.

Paul in his letter to the Romans reminds them that because of Jesus Christ there is hope  Those who are in Jesus, who follow Him, are saved from that condemnation.  He has set us free from sin and death through his life and work on the cross.  The law shows that our righteousness is not good enough.  However Jesus Christ met all of the law’s requirements and through His righteousness we are made whole.

This week, let us share that good news.  That there doesn’t have to be condemnation but through Christ there is salvation and hope.

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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: 1 Peter 4:7-11

“Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7-11)

Peter wrote these words to fellow believers in one of his letters to the churches.  These verses are a part of the end of the letter as he is beginning to wrap up his thoughts.

There are many passages that deal with how to handle the “end times”.  Some of them are prophetic of the actual “day of the Lord” and some are more of the times that are to signal the “day of the Lord”.  This is one of those passages that’s the latter.  Peter is telling the readers (and in turn telling us) that we should be prepared for when the Lord returns.

How are we to prepare?  First, we need to be all about prayer.  Praying to God giving thanks, praying for strength to endure, praying for others and their needs.  We need to be praying.  Second, we need to show love to one another.  Peter says to “maintain an intense love”.  In the world right now we see hate permeate.  But we know that God is love and when we are connected to Him then we are able to love one another better.  Third, our words and actions should reflect the Father.  We are here to advance the Kingdom of God and proclaim the Good News.  Our words and actions should be all about that.

In these times now more than ever, let us be about praying, let us be about loving, let us be about serving and let us be about sharing the Good news of Jesus.

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.

Sunday Devotional: Isaiah 53:6-12

“All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:6-12)

These verses are a part of the chapter in the book of Isaiah known as the “Suffering Servant” chapter.  It is a prophesy by Isaiah about the coming messiah who would suffer and die for the people.  That coming messiah was Jesus.  He was the lamb that was led to slaughter.  He went willingly to die for our sins.  He had done no wrong but yet he suffered and died.  He bore our sins and paid the price for them so that we don’t have to do so.

These verses are a reminder that no matter where we are or what we’re going through, Jesus understand and knows.  He knows what it’s like to be rejected.  He knows what it’s like to be hurt by those who are strangers and those who are friends.  He knows what it’s like to be alone.  He loves us so much and wants us to know that we’re not alone and that He went through all He went through for us.

This week, let us trust in that.  Let us hope in that.  Let us share that with others.  Jesus suffered and died for us.  He also was resurrected so that we can have hope and new life.  He was a “man of sorrows” but he brings joy.

Sunday Devotional: Ephesians 3:7-13

“Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.  To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,  and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.  This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,  in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.  So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.”  (Ephesians 3:7-13)

Paul always wanted to encourage others to continue in the faith.  He loved the cities in which he ministered and planted churches and Ephesus was no exception.  In this letter to the Ephesians, Paul shared again with them of the mission that he was called to do by God.  He was given this mission by God to share the Gospel.  It is God working in and through Paul that this is accomplished.  And even though there were hardships and struggles, Paul wanted the Ephesians to not be discouraged.

This says a lot about the love and concern that Paul had.  Even though he was the one that was suffering, he didn’t want others to be discouraged by the things he was going through.  I’m sure there were moments where he was discouraged but yet he persevered because he trusted God and the message he was given to share.

This week let us encourage one another to be faithful to message we’ve been given to share.  Let us love one another and build one another up.  And let us persevere in the faith.  God loves us and is there for us.  He will always be there for us and will help us to endure.