Devotional for April 8, 2020

Greetings in Christ,

  This selected scripture readings for this devotional reminds us about our purpose to live towards a goal of reaching out to people, and not to walk aimlessly in our Christian life. 

  Jeremiah declares God’s displeasure with the false prophets who are leading the people in the wrong direction.  They were proclaiming false hopes of peace from God; God’s message from the true prophets declared punishment to the people for their acts of disobedience. 

  God called Jeremiah to proclaim His version of the truth and to call out the false prophets.  He was letting the people know if He truly called the false prophets they would really speak what they were told to speak.  “I did not send these prophets, but they ran.  I did not speak to them, but they prophesied.  But if they had stood in My council, then they would have announced My words to My people, and would have turned them back from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds.”

  God wanted the people to know what kind of God He truly was.  “Am I a God who is near, declares the Lord, and not a God far off?  Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill the heavens and the earth? declares the Lord.”  God was letting the people know if they wanted true advice, He was close, in fact so close, He was everywhere.  All the people had to do was call on Him and He would listen to them.  God was reminding them they had a purpose, and it was important they understood how to receive good sound advice before making decisions which affected their lives.

  Paul was writing to the Corinthians about his endeavors to be all things to all people.  He was trying to let them know it takes effort to be effective for Jesus Christ.  He had to take the time to get to know the people he was trying to reach.  He took the time to understand their beliefs, and why they believed what they believed, but Paul did not stop there.  Paul did his homework and had the right answer for their misunderstandings.

  Paul was comparing his approach to his work as if he was running or boxing.  “Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air.”  Paul was giving them examples they easily understand.  They were aware and knew people ran to a certain point in a race.  They followed a path which led to somewhere and produced results.  A boxer did not enter into the ring just to box the air, but rather to knock out his opponent.  The boxer wanted his blows to hit their mark so not to waste his effort and strength.  He wanted every move to count towards winning the fight.  Paul did not want to waste his energy and strength.  He wanted every moment, every word, and every action to count so he could lead people to Christ.

     Mark wrote about Jesus telling the people if they truly want to follow Him they must pick up their cross.  “And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, if anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”  Although Jesus did not go into details about picking up the cross, He knew the people were aware of a crucifixion on the cross.  They knew about carrying the cross through the town before reaching the final destination.  They knew everyone would be looking at them seeing how they react to the insults and the throwing of stones.  Jesus knew it was not a pretty sight and carrying a cross would have it difficulties, but it was something which had to be done.

  Jesus also went on to say, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”  Jesus wanted them to hold their heads high as they carry their cross and not be ashamed of what others may think or say.   They must remain faithful to call on the One who can save their soul.   “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?  For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

  God’s desire is for everyone to establish a relationship with Him.  He has some good advice to share with those who call upon Him.  He has provided mankind with many opportunities to recognize Him as the one true God.

  Paul understood what it took to reach the many people as he proclaimed the truth of Jesus.  He modeled the very same thing God proclaimed in Jeremiah as he established a relationship with those he was trying to reach.  He became all things to all people in order to tell them what he knew.   

  For those of us who have chosen to pick up our cross and to carry it, we represent Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us.  He knows there will be many difficult times as we carry our cross, but He will make it worth it in the end as we reach our final destination. 

  There are times it takes an effort to proclaim God’s plan of salvation, but in the end it will be worth it.  If we are truly infected with God, we will be affected by God, and we will be effective for God.    

  “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”  Psalms 118:8

  “The Lord has disciplined me severely, but He has not given me over to death.”  Psalm 118:18

  “Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.”  Psalms 145:3

  “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”  Psalms 145:18

  Lord help us to see with Your eyes and reach with Your heart so the we can be effective for You.  Amen


  Mark Johnson

  Psalm 118, 145; Jeremiah 23:16-32; 1 Corinthians 9:19-27; Mark 8:31-9:1

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