Weekly Devotionals by Pastor Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D.
Feb. 3, 2013 – Famous Last Words & Why They Matter So Much
We often give great weight to a person’s last words. Sometimes they are documented at the bedside by loved ones, sometimes they are not, but a “Last Will and Testament” is often read as all the immediate family members have been gathered together. Some trusted person acts as the executor, the one who executes the wishes of the one who has died. This is sometimes a trusted family member or friend, and sometimes it is a family attorney who acts as the executor for the deceased estate. The Last Will and Testament is a message from beyond the grave of a person’s final wishes regarding the disposition of what they had accumulated during life. Sometimes they are of sentimental value, sometimes financial value, sometime both, however, it is an important part of the process of life and death and everyone who has loved ones should prepare for their departure from this life, prior to them going into glory.
We frequently do not realize that the New Testament is called a testament because it is considered the “Last Will and Testament of the King-Messiah,” the One who “died for our sins according to Scriptures, was buried, that that he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures,” I Cor. 15:3-4.
That is the Gospel as defined by God’s Word. This is the Good News related to us in the form of a Last Will and Testament. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the Letter to the Hebrew Christians.
[Christ, the Messiah] is therefore the Negotiator and Mediator of an [entirely] new agreement (testament, covenant), so that those who are called and offered it may receive the fulfillment of the promised everlasting inheritance--since a death has taken place which rescues and delivers and redeems them from the transgressions committed under the [old] first agreement. For where there is a [last] will and testament involved, the death of the one who made it must be established, For a will and testament is valid and takes effect only at death, since it has no force or legal power as long as the one who made it is alive, Hebrews 9:15-17 (The Amplified Bible).
Clearly, the writer of the Letter to the Jewish believers is making the case that we have been named as the beneficiaries of the Messiah’s Last Will and Testament. A document, e.g. the promises contained in the Word of God, which constitute what our heavenly Father has willed to His adopted children in Messiah to receive at the time they are Born Again, John 3:3, crucified with Christ, Rom. 6:3-7.
"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you”… These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you,”John 14:16-18, 25-26 (NASB).
As joint heirs with Messiah, we should understand how important His promises are to His adopted children. That is why the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to pray as he did in Eph. 1:18-19. We should do likewise.
Feb. 10, 2013 – How Rich is His Glorious Inheritance in the Saints
Now we have some further insight into the prayer that the Apostle Paul gave to the believers at Ephesus. God understands that we have to be taught as beneficiaries of an inheritance, just what that inheritance really entails. That is why we are all encouraged to pray this prayer along with the Apostle Paul.
[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, Which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places], Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come, Eph. 1:17-21 (The Amplified Bible)
The importance of this prayer should not be overlooked. In his letter to the believers at Ephesus, Paul is relating to this predominantly Gentile group of believers what it means for them to be “in Messiah.” The phrase “in Christ” (or in Him) appears seven times in the first chapter and ten times throughout the remaining letter. It is constantly repeated in Paul’s writings, ninety nine times and this does not include phrases like “in the Lord” or “in Him.”
It seems evident that this recurring phrase is always pointing us to the Author and Finisher of our faith. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Messiah Jesus. He is the One who died to include us in His Last Will and Testament.
…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God, Heb. 12:2.
Feb. 17, 2013 – The saving grace of the Lord
When we read in Rev. 7:14 of the Tribulations saints, Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.
This same phrase is repeated Rev. 22:14, although some translations omit “those who cleanse their garments” and insert “those who do His commandments” instead,most translations do not.
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city, Rev. 22:14 KJV & NKJV.
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city, Rev. 22:14 NASB.
Blessed (happy and to be envied) are those who cleanse their garments, that they may have the authority and right to [approach] the tree of life and to enter through the gates into the city, Rev. 22:14 Amplified Bible.
Happy are those who wash their robes, for they have the right to the tree of life and the freedom of the gates of the city, Rev. 22:14 J.B. Philips Translation.
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city, Rev. 22:14 NIV.
Once you have been washed clean in the blood of the Lamb, you become a righteous one, a saint. When Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth, he called them sanctified and holy, I Cor. 1:2. They were by all accounts the most carnal bunch of believers perhaps in the history of the church. Still, Paul understood that their pagan backgrounds put them at a disadvantage when it came to holy living. How else could their communion worship degenerate into drunken parties, I Cor. 11:23-34, or their tolerate an openly incestuous relationship in their midst, I Cor. 5:1-2, or the misuse of spiritual gifts, I Cor. 12:1-11. Paul’s follow up letter give evidence that godly sorrow resulted from his earlier letter of correction.
If Christianity was a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict you? God is interested in what we do, after we enter into the kingdom and are “just as if we never sinned” in His sight. We will all stand before the Judgment Seat of Messiah and our works will be examined. Either we will be rewarded or loose rewards based on whether or not God’s love was the motive for what we did.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad, II Cor. 5:10.
Feb. 24, 2013 – What would people write about us in our obituary?
If someone were to write an obituary concerning us today, what would be said? Let’s look at the final words recorded in God’s Word, the Bible. Let’s look and see what the emphasis of the Holy Spirit is where God’s holy Word is concerned. It is clearly as restatement of the truth contained in the Gospel.
Behold, I am coming soon, and I shall bring My wages and rewards with Me, to repay and render to each one just what his own actions and his own work merit. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last(the Before all and the End of all).
This is a very interesting statement. Israel’s Messiah clearly states that He is coming soon, and He will bring His wages (what He has earned through His death, burial and resurrection, I Cor. 15:3-4) and His rewards (What He provides for His children, the beneficiaries of His Last Will and Testament). He then goes on to tell us that He will by judging our actions and the merits of what we have done. Unless you understand the glorious nature of the gospel, you will think erroneously that God wants us to be good and do good works in order to be accepted by Him.
We, who are in Messiah, reap what He has sown in, and through, the new creations He has made us to be, I Cor. 5:17-21. The next two verses clear up any erroneous thoughts concerning salvation by deeds of the flesh.
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie, Rev. 22:14-15.
The above verses describe those who were not born again, John 3:3. They remained unregenerate sinners. Their behaviors are connected to their carnal minds. They are incapable of producing fruit of the Holy Spirit because they remained in their sins and died without receiving the only acceptable sacrifice for the sins of mankind, John 8:23-24, the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, John 1:29. If someone wrote our obituary, what would they say about us? Would they note that we lived our lives by grace through faith, Col. 2:6, and that the love of Jesus was evident in what we said and did? Our inheritance includes our new identity as Messiah’s personal representatives, His ambassadors, II Cor. 5:17-21. Is that what people would write about us? That we were truly children of the King, children of God who loved and accepted others, the way God loved and accepted us in Messiah? That should be our daily prayer, to fulfill our calling as priests and priestesses of the Most High God, ministers of the gospel of reconciliation. After all, that is our true inheritance.