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Note: Today’s devotional was supposed to have posted Saturday. Internet gremlins kept that from happening. Our next scheduled Bible reading is on Tuesday.


In today’s Bible reading from Hebrews 6, we come across more scary words. The writer warns that if someone were to have been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift and God’s good word, and shared in the Holy Spirit, and then to fall away, there is no redemption, no repentance to enable them to come back because it would mean recrucifying Jesus, which is impossible to do. (Hebrews 6:4–6 CSB)

These are very scary words because it means that if it’s possible to lose your salvation, there is no way to get it back!

I remember growing up, never being sure whether or not I would go to heaven or not when I died. Sure, I was a pretty good kid, but with every white lie, every little sin, the thought would cross my mind, “Am I sure that I’m saved?”

Such questions can be healthy. The fact that we ask the question demonstrates spiritual interest. A lost person won’t worry if they’re saved or not because they have no interest; they’re spiritually dead. Spiritually dead people have no spiritual concerns.

Unfortunately, a lot of preachers have told a lot of lost people that since they prayed a prayer, since they were baptized, etc., they’re saved and they don’t ever need to ask the question again. But what if they were never saved to begin with? They’ve been given false assurance! And that’s really bad news!

Application

I was saved for almost ten years before I heard that it was possible to know that you’re saved for all eternity; I had never heard, “once saved, always saved.” I grieve for those who have never been told that it’s possible to know that you’re a child of God. And I grieve for those who fear that maybe they’ve committed the “unpardonable sin” (Matthew 12:31)

But the bottom line is, if you are one of God’s kids, you can be absolutely sure that you’re saved. And if you’re one of His kids, know that the security of your eternal destiny is based in your Father’s character. The Holy Spirit has been given as a downpayment for your salvation. (Ephesians 1:14)

For God to take away your salvation,
He would have to forfeit the Holy Spirit!

Getting back to the original point, I think that the emphasis the writer was trying to make was not on those who fall away, but the sufficiency of Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice. His sacrifice is more than enough to cover our depravity and all the behavior it gives birth to. And as I said a couple of days ago, our salvation has nothing to do with our behavior — neither for getting salvation, nor for keeping it — but it has everything to do with Jesus’ behavior.

If you’re one of God’s kids, don’t have to worry about Do. Do. Do. Do. Don’t do. Don’t do. Don’t even think about doing. Just rest in Jesus’ “Done!”

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Getting to know God through His Word.

We begin reading through the book of Hebrews using our Bible reading plan. No one (but God) knows who wrote Hebrews; the author didn’t give any obvious clues to his identity. Some have pointed to Dr. Luke as the author, however, the book doesn’t begin with an attribute to Theophilus as Dr. Luke did with Luke’s Gospel and Acts. In the end, it really doesn’t matter because God Himself is the Chief Editor.

As we read Hebrews, we’ll see the development of the major idea that Jesus is better. He begins by saying that in the past, God spoke by prophets, but recently, God spoke by Jesus. He adds that Jesus is the exact expression of God’s nature. (Hebrews 1:2–3 )

It’s as if the author already knew the following verses:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. Colossians 1:15 (CSB)

Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time and you do not know me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:9 (CSB)

In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4 (CSB)

The twenty-five cent theological word, incarnation sums up what the author is summarizing. John summarized incarnation this way, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ” John 1:14 (CSB)

Application

Jesus defined eternal life this way, “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent.” (John 17:3 CSB) If you want to have eternal life, you have to know God.

Hebrews shows us how everything points to Jesus. And Jesus points to God. If you want to know what God looks like, how He acts, what He likes and dislikes, just look at Jesus.

I’ll go one step further: If you want to know God (and not just about Him), get to know Jesus (and not just about Him).

And how do we get to know Jesus? Just like we get to know any other person: Spend time with Him. Talk to Him. Listen to Him. Love Him. We do all of these things through the Spiritual Disciplines of Bible reading, Bible study, Bible memory, prayer, worship, fellowshipping with other believers, etc.

Today’s application is to do just that! Get to know Him better by spending time with Him, listening to Him and talking to Him. If you want to know what God looks like, just look at Jesus. He is the exact image of His father.

For more information on the Spiritual Disciplines, check out Don Whitney and Dave Matthis’s excellent books below. (affiliate links)

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With today’s Bible reading, we conclude our reading through the book of Acts. The book ends rather abruptly, almost as if Chapter 29 has been lost. But of course, that didn’t happen. Some have suggested that Dr. Luke didn’t finish the book and that we are living today in Acts 29.

One very important thing I want to point out from today’s reading is easily missed by reading many of our Bible translations. Now, before I go any further on this, please hear me say this loud and clear: I believe that God’s Word is inspired by God, it is infallible, and it does not err in any way. Having said that, let me add that modern translations of the Bible accurately convey God’s Word very clearly. I encourage you to read from several recent Bible translations in your native language, comparing words and phrases used by the translators. Doing so can bring out nuances that don’t always translate as clearly as they should..* No, I don’t believe that you have to be a Greek or Hebrew scholar to hear God speak as you read your Bible. But knowing the languages can help to bring out a better clarity in your study.

Most of us in the US have at least one TV in our home. A few of the older TVs display shades of black and white, while the newer ones display in color. Some of the newer TVs are digital. And some of the newest (and most expensive) ones have 4K High Definition displays. It’s possible to watch your favorite football game on a 13″ black and white TV and not miss a single play. However, watching the same game on a 60″ high-definition 4K color TV allows you to see more detail as you watch. Reading and studying with most of our modern translations is like watching the game on most people’s TVs. Studying the Bible in its original languages is like watching the game on a high-definition TV.

Unfortunately, several modern English translations miss a very important point in Acts 28:8-9. This is one of those cases where comparing translations, and perhaps using some language tools can help to bring God’s Word into clearer focus.

Ok, I’ve spent a LOT more time prefacing this than I intended, but here’s the point. Let’s compare a few translations of Acts 28:8-9.

Christian Standard Bible
8Publius’s father was in bed suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went to him, and praying and laying his hands on him, he healed him. 9After this, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed.

English Standard Version
8It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him. 9And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured.

Did you catch the difference? The CSB uses the word healed twice, but the ESV uses two different words: healed and cured. Dr. Luke was very precise in how he described what Paul did with Publius’ father and what he did with the other islanders.

When Paul visited Publius’ father, God gave a miraculous, instantaneous healing. However, the rest of the people were given therapy which led to their restored health over a period of time. The end result was the same. Publius’ father and the rest of the islanders were restored to a healthy state. And Dr. Luke points out that God just restored them differently.

Application

So what difference does it make? It makes a huge difference!

Someone may tell you that you don’t need to see a doctor; all you have to do is believe and pray. Another person may tell you that there are no miraculous healings; the way God heals today is with doctors and medicine. Each person prays differently. One prays that God will miraculously, instantaneously heal you. The other prays that God will use the medicine and guide the surgeon’s hands during surgery to restore you to health.

I pray both ways because both ways are Biblical! And you can’t (or you shouldn’t!) do either one without the other. Know that regardless of how He does it, God always heals!

God may choose to heal you miraculously. God may choose to cure you through medicine, surgery, or some other therapy. Either way, praise God for restoring you to health! But don’t neglect praying for healing, and don’t neglect going to your doctor and taking your meds.

What about people who aren’t restored to health miraculously or cured over time? Great question!

A couple of paragraphs back, I said that regardless of how He does it, God always heals! But God doesn’t always restore people’s health the way we want Him to and He doesn’t always restore people’s health when we want Him to. Sometimes God brings healing when the person crosses over to the other side of eternity, where there is no sickness, no pain, no suffering, and no tears.

The bottom line is: God is God. Let Him accomplish His work His way in His time. Yes, pray for healing! Yes, pray and seek medical help.

Do both … and trust God to be God.

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* I don’t want to get distracted too much by this, so please refer to my other posts on Bible translations for more information.

Stormy seas

As I was reading today’s Bible reading in Acts 27, I was struck by Paul’s confidence that everyone would survive the horrendous storm. Growing up in Eastern North Carolina, I lived through a few small hurricanes, but I can’t imagine fourteen days at sea in a storm as powerful as the one Dr. Luke describes.

And yet, here’s Paul, encouraging the men to sit down for lunch. He confidently tells them that an angel from his God (not the god they believe in) told him things would be alright. (Acts 27:22-25) He adds, “Oh, and by the way, we’re going to run aground.” So this prisoner tells a ship of 276 people, including seasoned sailors that they’ll all survive this storm, but the ship will wreck.

While everyone else is filled with despair, Paul is as cool as a cucumber. Why? Because he has heard God’s message of hope. He is convinced that the God Who brought the storm will deliver him … and everyone with him … through the storm.

Application

The prosperity gospel televangelist will tell you that God wants you to be healthy and wealthy. He’ll tell you that no harm can come to a child of God, that God will never give you more than you can handle.

But I’m telling you that everyone will face storms in life. You will. I will. We all will. To believe otherwise is to deny reality on this side of eternity. And if God never gives you more than you can handle, you’ll never see that you need Him!

So how do you face your storms? Do you despair? Or do you face them with confident hope?

Believer, regardless of how your storms may look, you can rest in the arms of your Father: a loving, completely sovereign God who has never been surprised about anything. He has never frantically run around heaven worried about how He’s going to fix a problem. And He has promised that He will work every thing out so that you will be more like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29)

Paul says that if you will replace worry with prayer, God will give you His incomprehensible peace. (Philippians 6:6-7) And if you keep your focus on Him, He promises to give you not only His peace, but He promises to give you … Himself. (Philippians 4:8-9)

Sometimes God calms the storm and sometimes God calms His child.

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On January 30, I asked the question, How low can we go? The context of this question had to do with how Virginia and New York seemed to be besting each other to be more liberal than the other.

And then I read about yesterday’s Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S. 130) that failed to pass in the Senate. If passed, the Bill would protect babies who survived an abortion, granting them full, protected human rights and would require medical professionals to report such situations.

Unfortunately, the bill which received somewhat bipartisan support failed to reach cloture (2/3 majority vote). Three Democrats voted in favor and no Republicans voted against, and three Republicans did not vote, Lisa Murkowski (AK), Kevin Cramer (ND), and Tim Scott (SC).

The bill couldn’t get a 2/3 majority vote! Who can’t vote to protect a living, post-birth baby?! This shouldn’t be considered a “Right vs. Left” issue. This is a “Right vs. Wrong” issue. Can we not agree on this basic definition?!

President Woodrow Wilson was right when he said of the US Senate,

“the only legislative body in the world which cannot act when its majority is ready for action. A little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own, have rendered the great government of the United States helpless and contemptible.”

I commented on Facebook this morning, “The fact that this legislation didn’t sail through with 100% support is a terrible indictment on our nation. I honestly cannot see how any decent human being could vote against infanticide. God have mercy on us!”

“Decent human being”. Evidently, the bar for my definition is set too high.

It is past time for God’s people to fall on our knees and cry out to God to have mercy to us and to grant us the grace of a deep repentance. We need a Spiritual Awakening greater than the First and Second Great Awakenings to right this ship.


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