Weekly Devotionals by Pastor Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D.
June 3, 2012 – Everlasting Joy is our Strength
When all is said and done, what will be the legacy of our lives? This is something that people usually do not contemplate. Mortality is not really a pressing issue for people who will live eternally in the presence of God, Matt. 19:29; John 3:15-16, 3:36, 4:14, 10:28, 17:3; Acts 14:38; Rom. 6:3; I Tim. 1:16.
Is there an overwhelming characteristic of our lives that describes us, that is evident throughout our entire lifespan? Is there something about you or me that stand out about us? We usually remember certain things about the men and women of the Bible, e.g. the patience of Job; David was a man after God’s own heart, Samson’s great physical strength, Abraham and Sarah’s faith, and Rahab’s choice to honor the God of an exiled group of slaves by hiding the Jewish spies. Many of the heroes of faith are listed in Hebrews 11.
The Bible clearly teaches us that those who know God personally, who have responded to the offer of the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth, the good news, have many reasons to rejoice. Look at the opening to I Peter 1:1-12 and let’s see what we have to be joyful about from God’s Word.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into, I Peter 1:1-12
We have been born again, of incorruptible seed, the Seed of Messiah, John 3:3-8. We do not belong to ourselves any longer. We used to be property of the Devil, children by nature of the evil one, John 8:42-47, but now we are God’s personally chosen and adopted children, Eph. 1:4-5. We are property of Yeshua, purchased by His blood and adopted into His family. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together, Rom. 8:14-19.
June 10, 2012 – I Give You Joy
The Messiah promised His adopted children joy.
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you, John 15:1-12.
This is by no means an empty promise. This joy is present in the children of God even when circumstances are not joyful. This joy remains as part of undergirds us when we are disappointed or fail to reach desired goal. This is very different from happiness, because happiness depends on happenstance, linked to external circumstances. But joy is rooted in God’s love. It is not transient or fickle. It will be with us no matter what the future may bring.
This joy is also a characteristic of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, Gal. 5:22.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Gal. 5:22.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love. God’s agape love is unconditional, sacrificial, intelligent and everlasting love. This love, like a perfect diamond cut by the hand of the Master, has many facets. Each facet reflects an attribute, a characteristic of God’s agape love. One of these cuts represents the joy of the Lord.
June 17, 2012 – The Joy of the Lord is our Strength
Why is joy such an important factor in the lives of God’s children? It is a facet of God’s agape love, Gal. 5:22. This is a valid question and we should be considering the reasons that might exist in our lives that prevent us from experiencing His joy as He has ordained for us in His word, I Thess. 5:16.
We have already noted that our joy is connected to our personal relationship with God. It is a direct result of the fruit of the Spirit of Messiah in our lives. It is rooted in the promises of God for His children. So how does the enemy of our souls manage to rob us of our joy? Right after the Apostle Peter warns the body of believers against pride, telling them that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble, I Pet. 5:5-7, he warns them of our real enemy, the Devil.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world, I Peter 5:8-9.
We are also told how to arm ourselves against this enemy by putting on the complete armor of God, Eph. 6:10-19. because our true enemy is not people, places and things, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, Eph. 6:12.
We already know that Satan is a liar. That is how he became the god of this world, Gen. 3:1-7. We also know that we are supposed to live our lives in faith, taking God at His Word. When our carnal minds begin to take over our thought processes; the enemy steals our joy, our peace, and our power. We are told that the tribulation saints overcame the enemy in the following manner. We are just like them and can learn from their example.
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” Rev. 12:10-12
Our victory as believers is always linked to the gospel, I Cor. 15:3-4. Our victory is always (and will always be) in Christ. First, and foremost, it is the blood of the Lamb that cleanses us from all unrighteousness. But then, it is our own testimony derived from personally trusting in the risen Savior that solidifies our victory.
June 23, 2012 – The Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our Testimony
The blood of the Lamb is the way of entry into a personal relationship with the living God through His Messiah. The blood o the Lamb of God cleanses us of all unrighteousness and causes us to be seen as just as if we never sinned, e.g. justified in God’s sight.
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith,to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Rom. 3:21-26.
You are either walking in faith or living in fear, you are either believing God, taking Him at His Word or your not. There is no middle ground. You are either Holy Spirit controlled and able to manifest the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, or you are carnally minded and operating in the realm of negative, sinful emotions. Let this mind be in you, the same mindset that was in Messiah Yeshua, Phil. 2:5. Then we will fulfill our callings as His beloved children and be filled with the joy of Yeshua, which is God’s will for us, I Thess. 5:16-18.
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, Phil. 2:14-16a