Devotional: ‘How We React Reveals Who We Are’  

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The book of 1st Peter was written to Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. The word ‘persecution’ means to be attacked for the purpose of making us run. Many of the Christians Peter was writing to were being tempted to run, not only from those who were persecuting them, but also from the reason for their persecution. Some were being tempted to think, “If being a Christian causes us to be attacked, maybe we shouldn’t be Christians.” Peter wrote this important letter to encourage them to not turn from Christ, but rather to stand firm in their faith. “There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.” (1 Peter 1:6 NLT) Peter reminded them that their suffering was only for a season and that there was wonderful joy just ahead.

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Devotional:  ‘Focus on the Joy That is Ahead’  

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1 Peter 1:3 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, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you…

The book of 1st Peter was written to Christians who were being heavily persecuted for their faith. Historians tell us that the Roman emperor Nero set fire to the city of Rome in 64 AD as a way to clear out the slum areas. But because of high winds, the fire got out of control and burned much of the city. Not only was there great monetary loss, but hundreds of people also died. Once the rumor began to circulate that Nero might be to blame, he looked for a scapegoat. Because Christians were already viewed by many as a religious sect of strange and bizarre behavior, Nero put the blame on them. Thus, a time of cruel and intense persecution began for the church. Historians tell us that this persecution included such hideous acts as the tying of animal skins to the Christians’ backs so that wild dogs would chase them or covering them with tar and setting them on fire to light up the evening sky. It is not hard to imagine how these acts of cruelty must have frightened many of the Christians and therefore, in order to encourage them to stand strong in their faith, Peter wrote them this letter.

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Devotional: ‘Jesus is Everything I Need’   

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Colossians 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

In these verses Paul is making two tremendous and very important statements. The first involves the supremacy of Christ and the second involves His sufficiency.

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Devotional: ‘Jesus is the Lord of Creation’    

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

What did Paul mean when He said that Jesus is the first born over / of all creation? Those who deny the deity of Jesus try to use verse to say that He can’t be God because scripture says He was created. But is that what Paul is saying? Is Paul saying that Jesus was created or that He is the Creator?

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Devotional: ‘Jesus is God We Can See and Touch’ 

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Colossians 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God…

Is God invisible? Is He completely transparent? Several references are given in scripture that refer to God being invisible. See 1 Timothy 1:17, 1 Timothy 6:16; Hebrews 11:27. Does this mean that God has no visible form for us to see or does it mean that we cannot look upon His holiness because of our sinfulness? Moses asked to see God’s glory. See Exodus 33:18-23. God replied to Moses, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” Perhaps we will not know for sure what God is like until we are with Him in heaven.

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Devotional: ‘Let it Shine!’   

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Colossians 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Paul warned the Colossians to ‘beware.’ The word ‘beware’ implies danger. The New King James version says that they were in danger of being cheated, but probably a better translation would be ‘taken captive.’ Many of the Colossian believers were in danger of being taken captive by some of Satan’s lies.

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Devotional: ‘Combatting Counterfeit Christianity’   

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Satan has always been in opposition to Christ and His church. To illustrate this truth, Jesus told a parable in which He said, “but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way….” (Matthew 13:25) A tare is a weed that looks much like wheat. According to Jesus, Satan will seek to plant counterfeit Christians within the church for the purpose of producing a counterfeit Christianity. With this in mind, consider what Paul wrote to the church at Colossae,

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

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Devotional: ‘Whosoever Will’   

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Luke 19:9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Of all the truths we can learn about Jesus, one of the most precious to me is the truth that His salvation is for ‘whosoever will.’ Christ offers salvation not only for the very religious like Nicodemus, He also offers it for the not-so-religious such as someone like Zacchaeus. Consider the conversion of another tax-collector named Matthew.

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Devotional: ‘If Any Man Be in Christ, He is a New Creation’  

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Luke 19:5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.

Zacchaeus’ life was completely changed that day. He went from being a sinful man to becoming a saint. Not only did Zacchaeus welcome Jesus into his home, but he also welcomed Jesus into his heart.

As we go on in the story, we read these words that Zacchaeus spoke –

Luke 19:8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” 

Consider these three important truths about his conversion:

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Devotional: ‘Today is the Day of Your Salvation’ 

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Luke 19:5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.

Only Jesus knew that this would be the last time He would pass through Jericho. If we put the story of Zacchaeus in its original setting, we see that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to be crucified. Therefore, because Jesus would not be passing this way again, it was imperative that Zacchaeus respond immediately to the Lord’s command.

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