Weekly Devotionals by Pastor Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D.
April 1, 2013 – Functional Relationships in a Dysfunctional World
There can be no doubt that we live in a decidedly dysfunctional world. The Bible teaches us that Adam’s sin brought a curse upon mankind, destroying the perfect relationship Adam and Eve had with their Creator, Gen. 3:14-19, and making everyone and everything dysfunctional, Rom. 5:12-14. When we ask ourselves, “What constitutes a healthy relationship, we should first realize that the foundational aspect of any relationship will be spiritual in nature.
The physical universe and everything contained therein was created out of nothing (ex nihilo) by the Holy Spirit (Who is Spirit), acting on the instructions of God the Father (Who is Spirit) and the living Word of God, God the Son, who manifests Himself to His creation in a physical form, often as the Angel Jehovah:
As the Angel of the Lord to Hagar, Gen. 16:7-13.
As the Angel of the Lord to Abraham and Isaac, Gen. 22:9-18.
As the Angel of the Lord in the burning bush, Ex. 3:2-10.
As the Angel of the Lord who brought God’s people out of Egypt, Nu. 20:16.
As the Angel of the Lord who opposed Balaam, Num 22:22-35
As the Angel of the Lord who brought God’s people to the Promised Land, Ju. 2:1-4.
As the Angel of the Lord who cursed those who failed to help Israel, Ju. 5:23
As the Angel of the Lord who raised up Gideon, Ju. 6:11-24.
As the Angel of the Lord who raised up Samson, Ju. 13:13-22
As the Angel of the Lord bringing judgment on Israel, II Sam. 24:15-17; I Chron. 21:12-27.
As the Angel of the Lord who ministers to Elijah, I Kings 19:1-7, II Kings 1:3, 15.
As the Angel of the Lord killing 185,000 troops in one night, II Kings 19:35; Is. 37:36.
As the Angel of the Lord as the protector of God’s people, Ps. 34:7, 35:5-6.
As the Angel of the Lord as the Word of the Lord, Zech. 1:7-17.
As the Angel of the Lord defending against the accusations of Satan, Zech. 3:1-10.
In the Person of a Jewish carpenter, John 1:1-2, 14; Luke 2:8-14; Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3.
Who is the Creator of all things, manifested in the flesh, John 1:3; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3.
When God planned a way for Him to restore fellowship with mankind through the New Covenant, Jer. 31:31-37; Ez. 36:26-27; John 3:3, He decided that it would be accomplished by a Spirit to spirit connection. God’s Holy Spirit would take up residence inside our mortal bodies, bonding together with the new creation we are in Messiah, II Cor. 5:17, and connecting to our human spirit.
April 7, 2013 –“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth,” John 4:24
So the Bible makes it crystal clear that communion with God is based on a Holy Spirit to human (born again) spirit relationship. So sin has broken and destroyed us. We can no longer have a proper relationship with God (or anyone else for that matter). However, the remedy for this is a a free gift, a personal relationship by grace through faith, Eph. 2:8-9, with God through His Son, the Messiah, Rom. 5:15-19.
Since God is a Spirit Being, those who are created in His image are also spirit beings. We are often so heavily wired and oriented into our material world via our five senses, that we cannot properly understand or navigate in the spiritual realm. For this reason, we are very susceptible to being led astray by unholy spiritual beings and teachings. God clearly warned the children of Israel about such dangers, Deut. 18:9-13, practices that were well established in the land of Canaan at that time.
Unfortunately, the children of Israel disobeyed God’s instructions and left some of the Canaanites alive when they invaded the Promised Land. This act of disobedience caused idolatry and child sacrifice to become part of the false worship of Israel, Lev. 18:21; Deut. 18:10. A practice that the evil kings of Judah and Israel were themselves involved with, II Kings 16:3, 17:17, 21:6, 23:10. The contemporary prophets Isaiah (Is.47:12-15) and Jeremiah (Jer. 32:35) contronted these occult practices during their ministries.
Disobedience can have serious and unintended consequences. Sparing the Canaanites would later lead to child sacrifice to the pagan deity Baal. When we compromise God’s righteousness and substitute worldly wisdom and worldly ways, we do damage to the cause of Messiah. We will do well to heed the hymnist in the classic song, Trust and Obey:
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
April 14, 2013 – Keeping our relationship with God healthy
This is the most important relationship a person can have in life. In fact, this is so important, that God says we are dead (spiritually dead) if we are still in bondage to sin (unbelief, Rom. 14:23). Only those who know God’s Word can discern what is, and what is not, kosher. For themselves personally, Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You, Ps. 199:11,and for discerning of spiritual truth, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work, II Tim. 3:16-17.
When we have a healthy relationship with our heavenly Father, one that is based on faith and hope, rooted in His agape love, you will be able to live your life in the victorious faith God has ordained for His children, Rom. 8:37. That is why the Word of God instructs us to live by faith, Hab. 2:4. This instruction is written in the present perfect tense in the Greek, Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38. It would be correctly translated: The just (those who have been justified by grace through faith) will(continually, every day), live by faith (God’s gift that enables us to trust and obey Him).
April 21, 2013 – All of the steps leading to functional relationships begin with our relationship with God
God has accomplished His purposes for mankind through the gospel of His Son, the Messiah. When we place our faith in the risen Savior, we are born again, John 3:3. A series of benefits ensue as we begin to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord.
Obedience secures the benefits of a healthy relationship, Matt. 12:50; Luke 8:21.
Heirship assures those benefits will always be there, Rom. 8:17, 9:26, 16:13; I Cor. 4:17.
He is a faithful heavenly Father, II Tim. 2:11-13; Heb. 2:17, 12:10-11.
Barriers that separate are broken between God and man, Is. 59:1-2, 1:18; and between man and man,
Now we are united in fellowship with all the saints, past and present, Eph. 3:15.
When we identify the fear-based lies the enemy of our souls is constantly throwing our way, it is the shield of faith that defends against that attack, Eph. 6:16. Prayer allows us to be in constant communion with God, and His Word (both the Living Word, Yeshua, and the written Word, the Bible) ensures our victory over the world, the flesh (even our own carnal nature that is left over from the person who died with Messiah and was raised to newness of life, Rom. 6:3-7), and the Devil.
April 28, 2013 – All of God’s Relationships are Fully Functional
The writer of the letter to the first century Hebrew was mindful that they were undergoing severe persecuation. Jewish believers were being ostracized from their own people (Jewish people that did not believer that Jesus was the Messiah) as well as the Romans who considered the Judean people troublemakers and pagan’s because they were monotheists and the Romans were polytheists.
At one time, it become necessary for Paul to raise support for the poor saints in Jerusalem, Rom. 15:26. Things have not changed so very much in two millenia. Satan continues to hate and attack everyone God loves. God loves His ancient chosen people, so anti-Semitism rears its ugly head in every generation. Satan hates the Bride, the Church, so he roams around looking for those who straggle behind or get separated from the flock, I Peter 5:8.
The world, the flesh, and the Devil are completely dysfunctional.
God is always functional and because we are “in Christ,” we too are truly functional, able to love, accept, and forgive others as God has loved, accepted, and forgiven us.
This forms the basis for true spirit to Holy Spirit communion.
This functional relationship with God allows us to fulfill our calling as His children, II Cor. 5:17-21.
We may not have started out in functional families and anything less than Christ is dysfunctional. But the truth always sets us free. The new creation we are in Messiah is not dysfunctional! We have the mind of Messiah, I Cor. 2:16b; a healthy mind:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind, II Tim. 1:7.