Discrimination in the Church

As people we have many beautiful differences, some of which are race, role, and gender. These differences have been ordained by God for His glory and for our good. Together, they form a more complete and intricate reflection of God and are a witness of His love and beauty to the world. Though there are ways in which we are different, in the body of Christ we are one (1 Corinthians 12:27, Romans 12:5, Galatians 3:28). Our differences, no matter what they may be, do not change our value or importance to God and should not change our value or importance to each other or ourselves. It is because of the great value that God places on us that he intricately wove us together our in mother’s womb with those things that make us different from one another. It is his handiwork and creativity on display through us.

Sadly we have allowed the world, the enemy, and our sin to turn blessings from God into things that divide us or are used as a reason to mistreat one another. What should be a cause for celebration and a more full expression of worship to our God is hijacked for a host of reasons.

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Daily Devotion: Words to Speak

While Jesus was on earth, He promised that when the disciples were arrested and brought before the authorities to testify, the Holy Spirit would give them the words to say. They would not need to worry about “what to say or how to say it.”

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. – Matthew 10:16-20

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Daily Devotion: Baptized with Fire

At times, the work and role of the Holy Spirit is mysterious in the life of the believer. Because of the mystery involved, we often neglect or fail to grasp the magnitude of what it means that the Spirit of God has indwelt us as believers. For various reasons, some churches are a bit “light” on teaching about the Spirit while of those that place more of an emphasis on the Spirit some misrepresent the work and expression of the Spirit.

This devotional will not be exhaustive or conclusive. I have much to learn about this topic and even if I knew more could not hope to synthesize it in a few hundred words. My hope here is to point us to a few scriptures about the Holy Spirit that will begin to help us grow in our understanding of this marvelous mystery.

“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.’

John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” – Matthew 3:1-6

 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” – Matthew 3:11

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Daily Devotion: What truly brings Peace

During the Triumphal entry, this scene occurs when Jesus sees the city.

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” – Luke 19:41-44

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Daily Devotion: The Humility of accepting Grace

Why do we have a hard time fully accepting the grace that is offered through Christ?

By “fully” I mean completely, from beginning to end. Similar to my previous devotion about trying to earn forgiveness and righteousness, we often try to do as much as we are capable of and then rely on God to cover the rest. Even if that means all we think we can do is 0.00001 percent of what is needed and rely on God for 99.99999 percent of the work. We still try to “do our part.”

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Daily Devotion: The beginning of the Good News

“The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way’—
‘a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
“Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.”

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: ‘After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” – Mark 1:1-8

John the Baptist’s message that the Messiah was coming was the beginning of the good news about Jesus. The good news starts with the promise of salvation. The fact that Jesus was coming to rescue His people. God’s promise of salvation is first seen in Genesis 3:14-15 immediately after the fall and is contained throughout the Old Testament in prophecies and stories.

John prepares the people for Jesus by making them aware of their need for repentance and forgiveness. John’s ministry was to “prepare the way for the Lord”. His message opens the eyes of the people to their situation, that they are stained by sin and far from being righteous before God. They are baptized in the waters of the Jordan River, symbolizing repentance from their sin, but the reality is that they need far more than just an acknowledgement of their sin. They need a savior who not only makes them aware of their sin, but deals with it permanently and is able to make them righteous before God. They need to be baptized by the Holy Spirit, not just physical water.

The good news now is that He has come. He has dealt with sin permanently through His death and resurrection and He has made a way for us to be perfectly righteous before God. This is the story that the gospels tell, this is the good news that they bring. What has been hoped for and longed for through the centuries has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

After Paul is arrested, he gives a defense of his faith before King Agrippa, Bernice, Festus and many other high-ranking officials and prominent citizens (Acts 25:23). During his defense he makes these statements in regards to Jesus fulfilling the Old Testament.

“And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today. This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night.” – Acts 26:6-7a

“But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen—that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” – Acts – 26:22-23

The hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ develops throughout the Bible. It begins with the good news that the Messiah is coming. Then it tells the story of how He came and what He did to work our salvation. Now we tell the good news of both the hope that is fulfilled in Jesus and the truth that He is coming again.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” – John 14:3

He is coming. He is here. He will come again.

Daily Devotion: You can learn from anyone

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” – Matthew 23:1-4 

Many places in scripture Jesus denounces and rebukes the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. Interestingly enough, in this short passage He tells the crowds to listen to what they say, but not do what they do.

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