THE POWER OF GOD TO CHANGE LIVES!

EXTENDED READING: MARK 1:21-28

DEVOTIONAL READING: VERSES 27–28

27 And they were all amazed, so they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28 Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding region of Galilee.

During Christ’s earthly ministry He not only taught the people about God, their creator, sustainer, and savior, He also displayed the power of God in His many miracles and healings that He performed. This scripture displays one such time in the life of Christ when He and His disciples walked into a town known as Capernaum.

His teaching had authority behind it, unlike that of the Scribes and Pharisees. His authority extended into the realm of healing people from various diseases and demon possessions, as is testified to hear by Mark. The audience was amazed at what had just taken place, a man who was possessed by an evil spirit inside the synagogue, was freed from his bondage by Jesus Christ!

God’s power to change lives was on display then and is still active today! If this Jesus has the power to cast out demons, how much more able is He to free us of our bondage, our sins that so easily entangle us? 

John”s testimony was : “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Will you look to Him today and have have your sins forgiven?

PRAYER: Father, I pray for anyone reading this devotional that does not know Jesus and has not yet received His saving grace. Please draw them to yourself, grant them repentant faith and new life in Christ. Help them understand that you are able to remove the bondage of sin that they are under and replace it with thy righteousness thru Jesus’ finished work on the cross. Amen

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY

In speaking of a person’s faults,
Pray don’t forget your own;
Remember those with homes of glass
should seldom throw a stone;
If we have nothing else to do,
But talk of those who sin,
‘Tis better we commence at home,
And from that point begin.

We have no right to judge a man
Until he’s fairly tried;
Should we not like his company,
We know the world is wide;
Some may have faults – and who has not?
The old as well as the young –
Perhaps we may, for aught we know,
Have fifty to their one.

I’ll tell you of a better plan,
You’ll find it works full well;
To try my own defects to cure
before of others’ tell;
And though sometimes I hope to be
No worse than some I know,
My own shortcomings bid me let
The faults of others go.

Then let us all, when we commence
To surrender friend or foe,
Think of the harm one word would do
To those we little know;
Remember, curses, sometimes, like
Our chickens, “roost at home,”
Don’t speak of others’ faults until We have none of our own.

James J. Boucher

ONCE FOR ALL

I had a conversation with a new acquaintance a while back, and this part of the conversation was troubling: “So, I do believe that if he (his friend) was a true follower, he relinquished his faith and trust in Christ and will pay the price of that rejection.”

Ugg, this grieves my heart. Within the belief system that fosters such an erroneous theology is an evident misunderstanding of the extent of the atoning work of Christ on the cross.

How many sins did Christ’s death atone forThe answer according to Romans 6:10: “for the death He died, He died to sin, once for all.” Isaiah 53:5-6 “the Lord caused the iniquity (all of it) of us all to fall on Him (Christ.)” And in 1 Peter 3:18, we read: “for Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God.”

Some people struggle with scriptures like Hebrews 6:4-6 and Revelation 3:5 for example. But this is unnecessary! According to the scriptures mentioned above, there is NO sin that Christ has forgotten about or refused to die for! 

Dear Christian, in order for you or I to be able to lose are salvation these scriptures would have to be false. We know they are not. We also know that Jesus is not coming again to do it all over on the cross to pay for that one sin you think damns you. All your sin was paid for, ALL OF IT, so be encouraged with the promise of Jesus that He will lose none! 

WALK BY THE SPIRIT

Extended reading: Galatians 5:16-25

Devotional: Verse 16

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

In life, whenever we want to accomplish something, we have to first attempt whatever it is, and second, be diligent in our effort at it. Think of when you were a child, and you wanted to learn how to ride a bicycle. It didn’t just happen, did it? No, you had to get on it and learn how to balance yourself. Your mother and father helped you by holding onto the bicycle until you yelled, “ok, let me go.” 

By not giving up and persevering through the many falls and the bruises that came with them, you eventually learned how to ride that bike! All analogies break down at some point, and this one is no exception.

In our text, Paul explains how our flesh (old man), and its desires, are set against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. There is a war going on within us, and we often lose many of the battles because we do not grasp and exercise this great truth. It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Walk by the Spirit, and the flesh loses! We’re all in, right? 

The problem is, though, just like learning to ride a bicycle, we need help. We can’t do it alone. Paul tells us to “walk by the Spirit,” or keep in step with, live by, or be occupied with the Spirit. In other words, the ONLY way to defeat the flesh and its wicked desires are by being so preoccupied with the Holy Spirit that there is no time for us to give sway to those temptations that want only to destroy us.

For us to “walk in the Spirit,” we have to first be “led” by the Spirit (Romans 8:13-14). This means that we are sensitive to His will for us and are actively cooperating with Him to fulfill it in our lives. It means that we are “putting to death,” or adamantly fighting against anything in our hearts that is at odds with the Spirit’s will for us.

The difference between the two, walking in the flesh, or walking in the Spirit, is as different as night and day. If we walk in the Spirit, we are led by Him, walking in obedience to Him, encouraged and strengthened by Him, and will enjoy unimaginable blessings. And, WE WILL NOT carry out those things that bring us guilt and shame before Him. Suppose we walk in the flesh, satisfying its evil desires. In that case, we grieve the Holy Spirit within us, are working against His good and perfect will for us, and have to face the guilt and consequences of yet another unnecessary defeat by our arch enemy.

Here is where my analogy breaks down. Once you learn how to ride your bicycle, you no longer need your mother and father to help you. You will go through life riding your bike without their help. It is quite the opposite, however, in the Christian walk of faith. WE ALWAYS need the help of the Holy Spirit. He is divine, and we are not. He sanctifies, empowers, and indwells each person He graciously saves! So, let us walk by the Spirit. It’s the only way to defeat our old nature.

SIN AND ITS CURE

The worst of all diseases

Is light compared with sin;

On every part it seizes,

But rages most within.

It’s palsy, plaque, and fever,

And madness all combined;

And none but a believer

The least relief can find.

From men great skill professing

I thought a cure to gain,

But this proved more distressing, and added to my pain.

Some said that nothing ailed me, some gave me up for lost;

Thus every refuge failed me,

And all my hopes were crossed.

At length the Great Physician-

How matchless is His grace,

Accepted my petition,

And undertook my case.

First gave me sight to view Him-

For sin my eyes had sealed,

Then bid me look unto Him;

I looked, and I was healed!

Author unknown

I’M ON MY WAY

Photo by Rahul Pandit on Pexels.com

I’m on my way to glory,
Thank God I’m glory bound;
I hope you’ll be there with me,
Why remain on enemy ground.

I’m on my way to glory,
The best is yet to come;
To be with my loving savior
Who redeemed this sinning one.

I’m on my way to glory,
Christ’s radiance to behold;
And with the angels singing
Not an ounce of praise I’ll withhold.

I’m on my way to glory,
Where the creator of life will be;
And with Him forever enjoy
His grace throughout eternity.

Written by: Larry Stump

LET THE BLOOD OF JESUS

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By: Connie Faust

Blood dripped down from His wounded hands,

outstretched for all to see.

It stained the wood  on which He hung

as it trickled down that tree.

Let the blood from Jesus’ wounds fall on me.

Let His blood wash away each guilty stain,

flowing down into my heart,

giving me a brand new start

as forgiveness covers me like falling rain.

Blood ran down from His wounded feet,

cruelly nailed to the cross.

His blood told of the dying King

Who came to save the lost.

Too precious was the blood that flowed

to soak into the ground,

but I was standing there that day

in sin and sorrow bound,

and as the blood began to fall

in droplets all around,

He drew me to His loving heart,

where sweet salvation I found.

Let the blood from Jesus’ wounds fall on me.

Let His blood wash away each guilty stain,

flowing down into my heart,

giving me a brand new start

as forgiveness covers me like falling rain

GENTLE RESTORATION

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Extended reading: Galatians 6:1-5

Devotional verse: Galatians 6:1

“Brothers and sisters, even if a person is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you are not tempted as well.”

People make mistakes all the time. “I’m only human” is the explanation we hear so often after someone has failed relationally, morally, or otherwise. It seems like we do not take sin as seriously as we should. We tend to think that we won’t fall prey to another temptation since we suffered dire consequences last time. How is that working for you?

The most recent events surrounding some leaders in the Hillsong church movement and those that have surfaced about a famous apologist, well known in Evangelical circles, prove painfully otherwise. In these verses, Paul instructs his readers to gently pursue restoring a fellow Christian who fell into sin back into a right relationship with God and those they have sinned against.

Paul gives two reasons for such tenderness. The first is not as obvious but is implied in the word “gentleness.” When we fall into temptation and succumb to its pressure, we feel ashamed, foolish, and heartbroken that we gave way to the flesh once more. If we were caught in it, the embarrassment and consequences following the particular sin could be a heavy burden to bear. So, Paul is expressing the need for us to humbly admit our sins to one another so we can mutually encourage and hold each other accountable in our Christian walk. 

If we would be more willing to share our struggles and help others who are struggling with sin, we would be able to move forward in our walk of faith more confident, encouraged that we are not in this fight alone. 

Prayer: Father, As much as we hate sin, we confess that we often fall into it. We often compound the issue by not being honest with others about our struggles. Holy Spirit, work within us a greater sense of honesty and humility so that we can mutually encourage one another along the way. Amen.