Every Day Words | Daily Devotional
First Presbyterian Church • January 18, 2022
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
– James 1:17-18
The greatest gift to mankind is salvation: God’s mercy and grace to withhold His wrath and give us eternal life. And here we see that God brings Christians forth of His own will.
John 1:13 says the same truth that those who believe “were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” This is the prime way that God retains glory in salvation. He promises salvation, and then He brings it about in individuals.
Our heads tend to get spun up in circles at this point. If God is the one doing these things, where does that leave us? We tend to think if we can’t fit a puzzle together, then it can’t be solved. This is true not just with God, but with many things in our lives. We always think we are the perfect keepers of wisdom and knowledge. If we don’t understand it, then it can’t be.
But remember, God is not like us. His mind is far greater than ours. His plans are far higher. His ways are far above. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “… [D]o not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him….” Don’t expect to have your own mind settled on HOW God does these things without depriving us of our own will, just that He absolutely does. And He does it to retain His glory.
First Presbyterian Church • January 17, 2022
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.
– Isaiah 48:11
We all know the importance of a good foundation. It must be broad enough, deep enough, and strong enough for whatever structure we put on top. The foundations of Christianity are similarly important.
How do we know what is foundational in God’s word? How can we distinguish between true things that are primary and true things that are secondary?
Let’s test the truth above: God’s glory is precious to him. He does things so that He might receive the glory due His name and He will not share that glory with anyone. In the context of Isaiah 48, God is referring to His restraint and mercy despite sin. He does it for His glory.
Which truth is foundational? Is it that God defers His anger or that He does it for His glory? Which one holds the weight of the other?
The primacy of God’s glory is the base, the reason, that He defers His anger. His desire to promote His glory is the foundation for His action. It is an essential truth.
The question that comes naturally is, How does God retain His glory in salvation?
First Presbyterian Church • January 14, 2022
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.
– John 14:21
We like to make things complicated. The more complicated things are, the easier it is to slip something through the cracks and avoid being caught. You see this when someone is lying to cover their tracks – they often tell an intricate, detailed story so that the listener is lost. The truth is almost always simpler.
So it is with the will of God. Finding the will of God is simple, because He reveals it today in the same way He has since the beginning: through His Word, His Law, and His Commandments.
What does it mean to love? Jesus sums it up with Love God and Love your neighbor. Those two statements are summaries of the Ten Commandments. And the Ten Commandments are a summary of the whole of God’s Word to us. How can we please Him? By loving Him and loving others. How do we do that? By keeping His commands.
If you want to know the will of God, go know it and be renewed by it. It is the Word of God. It is not far off, but close by and clear. It will mean the end of your own desires and the building up of God’s glory. It will mean putting to death your former self and its sins. It will mean walking wisely. In short, it will mean being holy as God is holy. And, because He has given us His Spirit as The Helper, we will do it!
First Presbyterian Church • January 13, 2022
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
– Ephesians 5:15-16
Imagine you are hiking in a minefield during a war. Would you spend your time thinking about your next financial move or the fact that the person next to you sneezed an hour ago? Of course not. You would dedicate yourself to the survival of everyone. If one person detonates a landmine, many more will perish. Wise walking is careful walking; it is not idle walking.
Although we may not think about it, we are not walking in a meadow of wildflowers today. We are not living in a time of peace. We are at war. And that war, first and foremost, should be a war within ourselves: a battle of whether we will fear man or fear God. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” So to fear man is to lack wisdom: we won’t say the thing we should say for fear of losing a friend. We won’t do the thing we should do for fear of losing a job. But we must fear God – He alone is the giver and taker of life.
How can you be wiser? The first step is to ask God for wisdom. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” If we keep praying for wisdom God will give us the power to pay attention in our war – He will help us to fear Him rather than the world.
First Presbyterian Church • January 12, 2022
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
— 1 Peter 1:14-15
Holiness is directly opposed to everything you were before knowing Christ. Back then, your whole life was directed away from God and against God, but you must not be conformed to those things any longer.
What are some of those passions God called you out of? First Peter 2:1 tells us, “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.“ Malice: those twinges of anger that turn to something darker in the corners of your mind. Deceit: distorting the truth to mislead others. Hypocrisy: being dishonest about the fact that you do have sinful urges and thoughts. Envy: whatever your cup of tea is, someone else has a better one. Slander: hidden often as a polite discussion of someone else’s life choice.
Why does Peter tell us to put away these things? It does us no good to pretend that these things are not swimming around in our heads and hearts – that’s just being deceitful. Be honest about your sins. Repent of them. Then turn from them, and walk in a way that is pleasing to the One who called you.
First Presbyterian Church • January 11, 2022
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
– Romans 12:1
Death is not something anybody likes to think about. After all, it is a most unpleasant thing to die. But death is one of the most important themes of Scripture. It is first mentioned in Genesis 2: “on the day you eat of it you shall surely die.” God thought it appropriate to tell Adam that death awaited him if he disobeyed.
Here in Romans 12:1 we are told to die by sacrifice. A death that is willing and thought out. A sacrificial death is not accidental. Christians are to be thinking about death in two ways: we will one day taste physical death, and we should be dying every day so that we might have eternal life when that day comes.
We are to be self-sacrificing because we are created beings - created in the image of God. And, as Christians, we are being made into the image of Christ. That means everything that is not in line with Christ-likeness has to go. It has to be cut out. We have to kill it. There is a whole lot of killing and cutting and sacrificing to be done.
But it is God’s mercy that drives us to this self-sacrifice. Think of the alternative: God’s wrath against our sinfulness. We do not want God’s wrath. We do want God’s mercy, and, in fact, we have God’s mercy if we love Him. So, because we have it and we want it, we will sacrifice our lives.
First Presbyterian Church • January 10, 2022
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
– Romans 12:2
Knowing the will of God sounds like a mystical power that belongs to ancient Greeks or Nostradamus. In fact, many cults throughout history have used the guise of knowing “the will of God” to do many terrible things.
It is true that He has secret plans which belong only to him, but He has revealed to us all that we need to please Him. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” So how can we find out His will? By looking in His Word. Read it, study it, and let it renew your mind.
In Romans 12:1, Paul calls us to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice.” Think about that. God’s will is, at the root, a death to self-interested activity and an ignition of Godward behavior. It is bringing our sinful desires, thoughts, and longings under the control of the will of God. There is no other way to do that but through death: we must die to ourselves and live to God. That is the first, and most basic, idea of God’s will.
The first man, Adam, lived for self and brought physical death into the world. The last Adam, Jesus, died so that we might live again to God.
First Presbyterian Church • December 21, 2021
When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”
– John 6:60
Yesterday we saw the emphasis on the electing plan of the Father. Election is not without controversy today. But it may give you some comfort to know that it has never been an easy doctrine.
Paul says this in Romans 9:2-3: “…I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
We love many people who are, right now, outside of Christ. They may have grown up in the church. They may have been baptized. They may have memorized Scripture. But, like those who saw and heard Jesus feed all those with the fishes and loaves, they have not come to Christ to be fed by Him. And, they have not come because the Father has not drawn them.
But rather than to despair and reject the doctrine of election, we should remember that Paul had “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” for those whom he knew who rejected the Savior of the World. The doctrine of predestination is grounded in grief. And God is still good. God himself says he takes “no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 33:11). Let us then, with humble hearts, accept the great goodness of God in His eternal plans.
As Christmas comes tomorrow let us be humble before the Son of God who came to us in such a humble way.
First Presbyterian Church • December 21, 2021
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day
– John 6:44
The eternal plans of God are not always spelled out. Many of them remain hidden in God’s mind. But He has revealed many things for us. One of those is the predestining providence of God to save His people.
No one can come unless the Father draws him. No one. There is something that must happen before any man comes – the drawing of God. And, if God has drawn him, He will surely bring him to the great banquet table of His Son.
“But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” – John 6:36-37
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” – John 6:63
“And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” – John 6:65
I quote these verses to show the emphasis God has placed on the truth of election in John 6. God’s eternal plan is one of the greatest gifts to us, without which none of us could be saved. His plan also promises us that the Son of God will bring all those who love God into the Kingdom in the unchangeable end. This week we celebrate the great entrance of the Son into the world to bring about that end.
First Presbyterian Church • December 21, 2021
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,”
— John 6:68
Jesus is the bread of life. His words have life. His words are not just the red letters of the Gospels but the whole of the sixty-six books of the Bible. There is no place besides the Bible where we might be fed.
When Jesus came to this earth, He came to set us free. At Christmastime, when we focus on the birth of Jesus, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that His whole life was part of a perfect plan to free us and feed us.
Have you been to Jesus to eat? Have you gone to the Word this week hungry, looking to be filled? If not, though you may not feel it, you are hungry and growing weaker.
From the outset, God showed His people that they were utterly dependent upon Him for their needs. Over and again, they forgot. Over and again, they grumbled. Over and again, they sought refuge elsewhere.
After the Feeding of the 5,000, the people who were fed grumbled against Him. However, His disciples believed that Jesus was the only one who could feed them.
We must be like those who go only to Jesus to be fed. Remember Abraham and Sarah. Remember the Israelites with the manna. Remember Naomi and Ruth. Remember Bethlehem – the House of Bread. And remember Jesus, the Bread of Life.