You Can Make the devil Flee from You

Daily Devotional: Day 148

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, KJV). 

Live your life with one purpose in mind: to please God in all things. This is important for many reasons. But let’s focus on just one today.

You can easily make the devil flee from you. It’s not complicated. You don’t need to be a guru or have any special religious titles. You don’t have to recite some special prayers or have some special anointing over your life. All you have to do is to be obedient to the Lord. Once you do that, you don’t have to worry about the devil.  That is the beauty of God’s Word. It is simple.

The truth is, satan is scared of people who live in obedience to the Lord. Therefore, your ability to spot and overcome the wiles of the devil depends on your submission to God. In other words, your power to resist satan flows from your submission to God. If, however, you resist the Holy Spirit, it would be impossible to resist the devil, because resistance to God weakens your ability to withstand the devil.

 But you can resist the devil easily and make him flee from you. 

 When you resist satan, it means you oppose everything he stands for, including deeds of darkness. As you do this, you’ll inevitably become a threat to the devil, and he will have no choice but to run from you. If you submit to God, the devil is no match for you. Remember this: Those who are faithful to the Lord pose the biggest threat to the kingdom of satan. God wants you to have complete victory over the devil. Start submitting to God today and notice the flow of divine power in your life.

The peace of the Lord be upon you today! Amen.

For further study: 1 Peter 5:5-11

Christianity: Religion or Not?

Daily Devotional: Day 144

“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.  Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:26-27, NKJV).

In today’s Scripture reading, James is addressing Christians about pure religion versus vain religion. If Christianity is a religion, that should not be a bad thing. Paul described Judaism as a religion (cf. Acts 26:4-5), though we know that Judaism may also refer to nationality, ethnicity and culture. Jesus was a Jew, and He faithfully practiced Judaism, which means He practiced a religion. Jesus was religious, a man of religion.

We know, of course, that Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets and to usher in the New Covenant. But, Jesus did not attack Judaism for being a religion. What He attacked was the man-made doctrines and commandments which the Pharisees and other religious leaders had incorporated into Judaism, thereby corrupting the purity of the Jewish religion. The fact is, the Jewish religion was God’s own idea, not man’s idea. It was the Jewish religion which gave us godly people like Moses, Joshua, Ruth, Samuel, Elijah, David, Isaiah, Anna, Mary, Elizabeth, Zachariah, John the Baptist, etc.

A common expression among some modern Christians is, “Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship.” But what’s the difference between religion and relationship? And, whose job is it to define the difference? If Christianity is a religion, then it necessarily involves a relationship. Nowhere in the Bible is Christianity described as ‘a relationship.’ The attempt to create a dichotomy between religion and relationship is a modern human construct. It has no biblical basis. The phraseology is vague, confusing and misleading. All religion involves a relationship, but not all relationship qualifies as a religion. You can have a relationship with your bag, your clothing, your TV and your dog. But it does not mean you are involved in a religion.

When you are involved in a religion, it means you have some kind of relationship with  Deity that involves worship. The Bible term ‘religion’ is a translation of the New Testament Greek word threiskeia, which means worship (of God). Any practice which involves worship can be legitimately classified as a religion. Christianity involves worship of God; therefore, it is not wrong to call it a religion. 

The modern disdain for organized ‘religion’ – in Christian circles – can be traced, at least in part, to the Protestant reaction to centuries of abuse and oppression in the name of so-called religion. In the wake of the Protestant Reformation, the reformers had had enough of the abuses within the Catholic ‘religion’ (its moral corruption, persecution, oppression, and departure from the Bible). Part of their reaction was an attempt to distance themselves from the term  or entity called ‘religion.’ If you are interested in the historical background to the modern distaste for religion or the confusion about the term ‘religion,’ the following articles will shed some light on the subject:

(http://www.christinyou.net/pages/Xnotrel.html), (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion).

Religion per se is not man’s creation, as some suppose. It is of God, but like everything from God, humans can corrupt it with their own ideas. Adam and Eve, and for that matter all humans, were created to know and worship the one true God. God gave us marriage, but we have corrupted it with all manner of ideas and evil practices. Today, marriage means different things to different people; so is gender. Shall we stop using the term ‘marriage’ because the meaning has been corrupted? Jesus gave us the Church, but today “church” means different things to different people. The Church has been adversely impacted by false doctrines and moral decay. Moreover, contrary to what the Bible teaches, when many Christians think of Church, what comes to mind is a physical building or a denomination. But, this state of confusion doesn’t mean we should distance ourselves from the term ‘Church.’

 In sum, Christianity is a religion; we should get used to that fact. What we need to do is to distinguish between God-inspired (pure) religion (cf. James 1:26-27) and man-made (corrupted) religion (cf. Mark 7:1-13); between pure Christianity which is described in the Bible and perverted (counterfeit) Christianity which is the product of human doctrines, traditions, and elaborate rituals.

The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and your loved ones today! Amen.

Make the devil Flee from You

Daily Devotional: Day 130

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, KJV).

Your blessing as a Christian consists in submitting to God. This means to subordinate your will to God’s will – as Jesus did. You recall what Jesus said in John 6:38: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (emphasis added). If you wish to be like Jesus, submit your will to God’s. Let God do with you whatever He pleases. Live your life with one purpose in mind: to please God in all things. This is important for many reasons. But let’s focus on just one today.

Your ability to spot and overcome the wiles of the devil depends on your submission to God. In other words, your power to resist satan flows from your submission to God. If you resist God – through disobedience – it would be impossible to resist the devil, because those who live in disobedience are vulnerable and can easily be exploited by the adversary.

 But you can resist the devil easily.

To resist the devil means to fiercely oppose everything he represents and to have nothing to do with deeds of darkness. As you do this, you’ll become a threat to the devil, and he will have no choice but to flee from you. If you submit to God, the devil is no match for you. Remember this: Those who – through obedience – are faithful to the Lord pose the biggest threat to satan. God wants you to have victory over the devil. Start today by submitting to God.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you today! Amen.

Take time to pray to the Father about today’s message.

For further study: 1 Peter 5:5-11

Are You Religious?

Daily Devotional: Day 75

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27, RSV).

Religion is good (I’m not referring to institutionalized religious groups broadly labeled as “Christianity,” “Islam,” “Buddhism,” etc.). And today, the Word of God describes for us what good religion looks like. The Letter of James characterizes good religion as pure and undefiled before God. And it tells us that pure and undefiled religion consists in visiting orphans and widows in their affliction, and keeping oneself unpolluted by the corruption of the world. This is a succinct, yet powerful biblical definition of religion. It tells us in practical terms how to distinguish pure religion from false religion. The term religion used in this context, therefore, refers to observable evidence displayed by professed Christians who back their confession of faith with practical works of love, wholehearted devotion to God and detachment from a worldly lifestyle. 

God wants us to be attentive to the needs of vulnerable people in our communities. At the time James was writing, orphans and widows were in this category. Even today, there are millions of orphaned children around the world who are hoping to be received into a family. According to a 2012 report, in the USA alone, almost 398,000 children are living in the foster care system, out of which 101,666 are eligible for adoption (source: https://adoption.life/2015/us-and-world-orphan-statistics/). These are not the only vulnerable (afflicted) people in our society. We can also include thousands of homeless people as well as those who can’t afford a doctor, clothing or even a meal. We don’t have to look far. Some of these people are in our churches, some live in our neighborhood, and still others probably live next door. The Bible says that truly religious people should make it a priority to visit and assist vulnerable people among us. If they are fellow Christians, the obligation is even more urgent, because through the Blood of Jesus, they are our family.

God isn’t expecting us to solve everyone’s problem; but He is expecting us to do what we can, based our means. Finally, God says pure religion means abstaining from the defilement of the world. This is true, for as James 4:4 says, whoever is a friend of the world is an enemy of God. If there was ever a time to display pure religion, it is now. Are you religious?

Prayer:

Dear Father, thank you for all your blessings. Make me sensitive to the needs of people around me. And give me an open heart to reach out and bless them for your glory. Also, I give you my heart. Keep it unstained from the world. Thank you that you always hear my prayer. In the Name of Jesus.

For further study: Isaiah 1:1-18

Don’t Let Your Past Hold You Back

Daily Devotional: Day 42

“Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way” (James 2:25, KJV).

When the name Rahab is mentioned, it’s often associated with prostitution. But surprisingly, the Letter of James (2:25) and the Letter to the Hebrews (11:31) present Rahab as a model of faith and righteousness. In the Bible, only James and Hebrews associate her with faith and righteousness. How Rahab moved from a prostitute to a model of faith is astonishing. James cites her life as an example of how faith produces corresponding works. Rahab was from Jericho. Like her fellow countrymen, she had heard stories of the mighty deeds of the God of Israel. However, unlike everyone else, she believed in her heart that Israel’s God was the true God worthy of worship. While her countrymen remained afraid and defiant, she put her trust in the God of Israel and surrendered to him. She was, therefore, prepared to leave behind her profession, her homeland, her friends and any gods she may have previously served, to follow Israel to the Promised Land. She subsequently made a deal with the two Israelite spies, that she and her relatives would be spared when Israel came against Jericho (You can read the full account in Joshua chapters 2 and 6). For what Rahab did, the New Testament presents her to Christians as a model of faith and righteousness. Incredible story!

We can draw many lessons from Rahab, but let’s focus on only the following: Her history as a prostitute left her with little to no moral credibility. But, she didn’t let this become an obstacle. She looked past her bad record and saw a future with Israel’s God. With the eyes of faith, she embraced God’s love, forgiveness and protection. By faith, she bid farewell to the old Rahab and welcomed the new Rahab. Fearless, she marched into her new life, free from the bondage of sin, fear and shame. This tells us that your history doesn’t have to define the rest of your life. By faith, go ahead and close certain chapters in your life. Stop worrying about what has happened. You can’t change the past, but you can change what happens from this point. Learn your lessons and look ahead. Lift up your eyes of faith and see a new you in Christ: forgiven, accepted, transformed and restored. In Christ, the Father has opened a new door for you. Walk through it and never look back.

Pray:

Daddy, thank you for the gift of a new life. In Christ, you’ve made me a new creation. I embrace this new life and all the blessings that come with it: freedom from sin, fear and shame; and power to live for righteousness. Thank you for this life. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Luke 19:1-10