Devotions by Pastor Joseph

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Feb 18, 2018 - Galatians 5: 1

“For freedom Christ has set us free.” 
In our confession of sin we declare, “we were born in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.”  We also arrogantly say, “We are not slaves to sin!”  Really?  Then quit sinning.  It will take you an hour or less to sin in thought, word, or deed.  We are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.  The cost, the price of our freedom is the life of one perfect, sinless being.  One who is blameless, yet willingly takes on the sins of all people from the beginning to the end of time.  As Christ suffers and dies on the cross the chains of our bondage are broken and we are free at last, free at last.  Thank God almighty we are free at last.  But freedom is not freedom from something but it is freedom too something.  Freedom to be the children of God and not the slaves to sin.  Freedom to love instead of hating.  Freedom to forgive instead of getting even.  Freedom to live a Christ-like life and not a life of evil selfishness.  You are free.  Now live as God’s free children.   

Feb 11, 2018 - Isaiah 63:7

“We will recount the gracious deeds of the Lord,   the praiseworthy acts of the Lord, because of all that the Lord has done for us…”
This week marks the beginning of the forty day period known as Lent.  It is a time of meditation, prayer, and introspection.   A time for us to reflect on God’s love given to us through the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Some people have been known to beat themselves during Lent to remind themselves of Christ’s suffering.  In some cultures, men are actually nailed to a cross to remind themselves of Christ’s suffering.  Most of us take the opportunity “give up” something for Lent.  Isaiah calls on us to recount the gracious deeds of the Lord.  So, instead of beating or crucifying ourselves, instead of giving something up for Lent, let us recount the gracious deeds of the Lord by doing at least one good deed or saying one kind word a day to a complete and total stranger.  There is no greater way to share the love of God than by doing something kind and wonderful for someone in need.  Have a wonderful Lent as you recount the gracious deeds of the Lord. 

Feb 4, 2018 - Isaiah 62: 1

“ For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,   and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn,   and her salvation like a burning torch.” 
Nothing worse than being accused of something you didn’t do.  Nothing sweeter than having the truth come out and you are vindicated in your innocence.  These words of God through the prophet are written to Israel.  A people who had turned their backs on God, a people who deserved discipline, who had been unfaithful and refused to follow God’s Word.  But even in the midst of their discipline God makes a promise.  Yes, they deserve discipline, but they are after all His children and no good parent can discipline their children forever.  God will forgive them, God will bless them, God will restore them and Israel will no longer be the laughingstock of the world.  We too have sinned, we too have turned away from God, and we too have been disciplined, but after the discipline, God always forgives and brings us back into the family.

Jan 28, 2018 - MARK 2: 3 & 5

Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them…When Jesus saw their faith…”
The word “intercede” literally means “to plead someone else’s case.”  In this story several men bring a man who is paralyzed to Jesus, believing that Jesus will heal the man.  There is no record of the paralyzed man wanting to come to Jesus.  No record of the faith of the paralyzed man, but only the faith of the people who brought him.  Their faith led them to intercede, to plead the paralyzed man’s case, to Jesus.  And Jesus healed the man because of the faith of the men who brought the paralyzed man to Jesus.  There is no limit to strength of intercessory prayer.  At another time Jesus said, “Whatever two or three agree to pray for will be granted.”   The message is clear that our faith in Jesus and intercession on behalf of another can indeed change a person’s life.   

Jan 21, 2018 - Isaiah 61: 1

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,  because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,   to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives,  and release to the prisoners:
The word “anointed” means; “chosen, set apart for a particular task.”  God’s anointed Messiah was chosen to bring good news to the oppressed; bind up the broken hearted; proclaim liberty to the captives; to release the prisoners.  In our confession of sin we declare that, “we are in bondage to sin and death and cannot free ourselves.”   In Dicken’s story, “A Christmas Carol,” we see Marley weighed down with the chains of his own sinful life.  Marley tells Scrooge that Scrooge’s chain is much longer.  The slave, the one who is oppressed, the captive, the prisoner cannot free himself.  Freedom, the end of oppression, liberation can only be granted by some authority outside of ourselves.  Jesus Chris is the authority who has torn asunder our bonds of sin and death.  He has freed us from the oppression of the evil one and he has made us the sons and daughters of God once again. 

Jan 14, 2018 - MARK 1: 27

They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching—with authority!
We often use the words “power” and “authority” synonymously, but are they the same?  Today we live in a world where people long for power.  The vast majority of people who serve in government today are invested in power.  They want control.  They want the power to change things, to make the world in their own image.  One seizes power.  Authority on the other hand is granted, is given to someone who is willing to serve and to do what the will of the one who granted him the authority.  Jesus never tried to seize power.  He never tried to re-make or re-create the world in his image.  No, he came to do the will of God the Father and because of that willing, servant heart, he was granted authority by God.  Are you hungry for power or are you a willing servant of God?

Jan 7, 2018 - MATTHEW 2: 1-2

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men* from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?
Tradition tells us that the wise men came to pay honor to the Christ on January 6.  We call that Epiphany.  Epiphany is a Greek word which means. “enlightenment.”  The people of Israel were not the only ones looking for a Savior.  People from other countries and ethnic backgrounds had heard of the promise of a Savior and when a fantastic star rose in the sky, many believed that this marked the coming of the Messiah.  Wise men were philosophers, scientists, astronomers, and theologians.  They too longed for “peace on earth, good will to all people.”  They journeyed to Bethlehem to see the fulfillment of a centuries old prophecy and to find peace and hope.  They were indeed wise and the question is, “Are you wise enough to find your enlightenment in Jesus Christ?”   You alone have the answer. 

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