Daily Devotions from June 2021

Daily Devotions from June 2021

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”  Ecclesiastes 9:10
 
A humorous sermon illustration gives an example of the wrong attitude toward work: Manager: “I’m sorry I can’t hire you, but there isn’t enough work to keep you busy.” Applicant: “You’d be surprised how little it takes.”
 
This is clearly an exaggeration in order to make a point, but some people truly have this mentality toward work: they don’t take pride in the performance of their responsibilities, rather they take pride in their profession. According to the Bible, however, this is backward thinking. Solomon, in all his wisdom, wrote that everything we do, we should do with all our might. The apostle Paul wrote a similar message to the Colossians, going a step further and giving the reason we should do our best in everything – “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him … and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men … for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:17,23-24). He even tells servants to do their best, not caring about their lowly position, but working with integrity unto their real Master, who is God (v.22).
 
It is difficult not to get caught up in the pursuit of power and position, whether in school, at work, in the community or even within the church. After all, in the eyes of those around us, these are highly prized and sought after treasures. But when we lock eyes with Jesus and turn a deaf ear to the praises of men, the only thing that truly matters is doing everything with an attitude of pleasing and honouring Him. Whether we are students, employees, public servants or hold a position within the church, we ought to have a servant-attitude. The apostle Paul describes this attitude this way – “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free” (Eph. 6:5-7).
 
It is from God that the gift of work comes, and He expects that we will do our best with the work that He has set before us to do – physically and spiritually. Many people find it easy to apply this in a physical sense and work very hard and very long at their jobs, but are they doing it as unto the Lord? And others may sink a ton of effort into doing things at church or being busy in church activities, but are they doing it for the Lord? And what does it mean to be doing our best in the spiritual work of the kingdom? What is consuming most of our energy, time and treasure – the physical world or the spiritual realm? Remember the words of Solomon – we are going to the grave and can’t take anything physical with us. Today, carefully consider what is consuming you, where you are spending your energy, time and treasure, and how much of your life is done heartily, as to the Lord, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ, as servants of Christ doing the will of God from the heart. If you are honest with yourself, you won’t be surprised with the answer.
Copyright © 2021, Mark Varga, All rights reserved. Copied with permission
June 29 2021
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3:28

W.C. Fields once quipped, “I’m free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally.” While some may laugh at that statement, there is a hint of truth in it. In every heart there lurks a splinter of prejudice, causing us to view with discomfort or disdain someone different in some way than us. Maybe it’s the tattoo artist, the school bully, the neighbour who has everything, the person who challenges us, someone who holds different values or beliefs than us, or fellow Christians who take certain liberties that we don’t feel are appropriate for us. Whatever the case, we hold a small degree of partiality, perceived opinions or prejudice towards them, and treat, behave or at least think differently about them. 

The apostle Peter also fell into this trap and cultivated an atmosphere of partiality and prejudice – “For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation” (Gal. 2:12-13). Peter may have initially thought that his separating from the Gentiles wouldn’t affect anyone, but unfortunately, these types of attitudes and sins are catchy.

Jesus, being sinless, didn’t fall into that trap. When He met the Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well in Sychar, He effortlessly crossed every barrier that might have separated them. He crossed the racial barrier, for the Jew of that day despised the Samaritans. He crossed the gender barrier, for men of that era didn’t initiate dialogue with unknown women. He passed the social divide because the two of them were from radically different lifestyles. He was a man; she was a woman. He was a rabbi; she was uneducated. He was moral; she was immoral. But Jesus loves everyone and takes no notice of race, language, gender, social status, education, appearance, actions or behaviours. He died for every single person in the world.

Being Christlike means that we prayerfully and continually purge from our hearts every trace of pride, bias, partiality, preconceived opinions and prejudices. Notice the high standard and calling in apostle Paul’s exhortation – “I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality” (1 Tim. 5:21). And the apostle James tells us to combat prejudice with godly wisdom – “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). 

So be careful little heart and mind, for there’s a bit of pride, partiality, preconceived opinions, and prejudice lurking in everyone – but this ought not be so in those who call themselves Christians. James tells us plainly, “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons (for) if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors” (James 2:1,9).
Copyright © 2021, Mark Varga, All rights reserved. Copied by Permission
June 25 2021
“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Matthew 4:18-19

When Jesus called Simon (Peter) and Andrew, He said that He was going to make them fishers of men. And just a short time later, when they were again by the sea of Galilee, after Jesus taught the people while standing on Simon’s boat, He told them to “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word will I let down the net. And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake … and Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men” (Luke 5:4-5,10).

Catching men isn’t just the job of churches in general, but of Christians in particular. Too often, we just sit back and rely upon or expect the church to catch whatever people happen to swim by or enter the doors of the building. But if we are followers of Christ, we should be fishing – and not the kind of fishing where you just sit at the dock with the pole in the water, sleeping and waiting for a fish to come along. A good fisherman, especially in a spiritual sense, realizes that he/she has to go to where the fish are. A postal carrier recently told a friend about his church, which had grown from 50 to 500 in a relatively short period. “Sixty of the new members are from my mail route,” he said. “I find it easy to talk with people as I go up and down the streets, and I’m always looking for a way to turn the conversation toward the Lord.”

He’s a fisherman for Christ and he’s catching men and women with the Gospel message. That’s how each of us ought to be viewing the “sea” in which we work or go to school or where we live. There are fish all around us and all God is asking us to do is let down our nets for a draught (a catch or haul of fish). Sometimes we think that this requires a lot of toiling or effort on our part – we think we need to have elaborate programs, flashy activities, ingenious ministries and other advertising gimmicks to draw the crowds and wow or woo them. But in reality, all that was required of the disciples to draw in a multitude of fishes was simple obedience to the Master’s command to launch out into the deep and let down their nets. 

And this event happens again after the death and resurrection of Christ, as if to teach the disciples the lesson and principle all over again. In John 21, we find Simon Peter saying unto the disciples, “I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately: and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus … and he saith unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes” (v.3-4,6). Are you a fisher of men? Do you even have a hook or net in the water? What is your catch rate? Are you too busy toiling or are you simply obeying the Spirit’s command to cast your net or throw out your line? Ask the Lord to make you a fisher of men and women, and then follow His Spirit’s leading – He knows where the fish are, He prepares or sends the fish, and He’s the best Fisherman of all times.
Copyright © 2021, Mark Varga, All rights reserved.– Copied by Permission