David Virts

David Virts

Weekly Devotional

1505, 2022

At times it seems that a person is all alone!

May 15th, 2022|0 Comments

Scripture Text: John 13:31-33 Title: All Alone

Question of the Day: Why is it that we have to go through life’s toughest times all alone?

In today’s passage the Lord is spending His last few hours before His arrest with His closest friends. These words are spoken just after Judas was identified as the betrayer, Satan entered him, and he made his exit to do his dastardly deed of betrayal. Then Jesus speaks to the remaining eleven disciples about how God the Father is going to get great glory through what He is about to do. He mentioned to them that He had to do it all alone. But, why all alone?

Here is today’s text: “So when Judas had left Jesus said, ‘Now will the Son of Man bring glory and praise to God and God will be glorified through Him. If God is glorified in Him, then God will glorify Him and exalt Him and all in all great glory will come to this next event. My little children, I will be with you for just a little while. You will then seek to be with Me, and as I said to the Jews, “Where I am going you cannot come,” now I say the same things to you.’”

The disciples had learned to lean completely on the Lord—whether out on a lake in a violent storm, or when they faced the death of a loved one, or when the crowds got so large and the food supply was short, they had learned that He always had the answer—and the solution. He also told them about the kingdom of heaven and how they could enter it, but they had no idea what was about to take place. They assumed that He would next overthrow the hated Roman government and revise the temple worship to focus on God and then establish a kingdom that would never end.

But as they approached the showdown in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, He seemed to get more somber and serious and determined to go through with it. What we want to focus on in this devotional is how Jesus had to go through this horrible experience all alone. From the time that the arrest took place He went through with the mock trial, the beating, the questioning, the mocking and ridiculing, and the crucifixion all alone. In today’s text He told the disciples, “My little children, I will be with you for just a little while. You will then seek to be with Me, and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going you cannot come,’ now I say the same things to you.”

In the next verses Peter would boldly say that he would follow Him—even to death, but Jesus explained to him that it was not possible for him to go through His time of suffering with anyone. In chapter 16:32 He said, “Look, the time has finally come, yes it is here right now, and you will all be scattered and leave Me alone; but I am never totally alone because the Father is always with Me.” What Jesus showed us, and what we must learn, is that when we go through life’s toughest times, we must do it all alone and learn to lean totally on the Father—who is always with us. One of the most helpless feelings for a believer is to try to stand by a fellow believer or a loved one, and just be there for them. We can’t do anything about what they are going through and we can’t fix it, we just have to leave them in the hands of God and let Him sustain them.

For the person going though the extreme trial, they always feel totally alone and then it is just that person and God walking on together. Many Christians who have gone through deep trials and severe tests of faith have reported to us that the presence of God never felt closer. It is something that each of us must bear alone, and since we are so used to leaning on others around us, it is a time of being “one on one” with our Creator as he walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We may be close to death, or we may wish we were dead, or we may just be dying inside with the pain of the moment, but it is then that God Himself shows up and envelops us with His presence. It is the most awesome time of one’s life!

Prayer: Lord, thank You for going through Your most challenging hours—the darkest hours of Your earthly life—and showing us how to do it. May we ever be mindful of Your Presence as You surround us with Your great love and draw us closer to Yourself. We wouldn’t miss those intimate times for anything in the world. Surround us with Your presence—always. Amen!

105, 2022

Do you know when Satan is stalking you?

May 1st, 2022|0 Comments

Scripture Text: John 13:21-30 Title: Satanic Betrayal

Question of the Day: When and how does Satan enter a person to do a dastardly deed?

The study of the life of Judas from the gospels is very instructive. We know very little about him; he was specifically chosen by Jesus to be one of His closest followers; he was carefully chosen after Jesus had spent all night in prayer; he was the treasurer for the group because he held “the bag” of money; before today’s passage he had gone to the chief priests and offered to deliver Jesus to them at an opportune time when there were no crowds around Him; and he had just had his feet washed by the Lord, the Master, as He gave Judas one more opportunity to repent before he betrayed Him. In all of this, how did Judas end up being demonically inspired by the devil himself so that he would betray the Lord?

In today’s passage Jesus finally unveiled to the disciples who the betrayer was, but they missed His cue until Judas showed up in the garden with the mob. Here is today’s text: “When Jesus had said that, He was deeply troubled and got all chocked up in His spirit and said, ‘The absolute truth is in these words: one of you will betray Me.’ The disciples looked at each other in shock and wondered who He was talking about. Now the one next to Jesus at the table was that disciple that Jesus loved. Simon Peter then motioned to him to ask Jesus who He was talking about. So he leaned over to Jesus and said to Him, ‘Lord, who are you talking about?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the person to whom I give this piece of bread after I have dipped it in the sauce.’ And when He had taken the piece of bread and dipped it, He then gave it to Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son.

“When Judas had received the piece of bread from Jesus, Satan entered him, and Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do it quickly.’ Now no one at the table why Jesus said those words. Some of them thought that because Judas was their treasurer Jesus had told him, ‘Go and buy something that we need for this feast,’ or that he should give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had received the piece of bread from Jesus, he immediately left, and it was then after dark.” It is in this scene that the devil entered Judas to make sure that the betrayal took place.

Jesus had mentioned in John 6:70-71 that one of the disciples had a devil, and John, looking back on that occasion years later realized that He had been speaking about Judas. The disciples were a rowdy bunch who were always jockeying for a prominent position in this new kingdom that Jesus was setting up. It was here at the final Passover meal, though, that He chose to finally unveil who the betrayer was, and He did it in a unique way. John recorded here that he was sitting on one side of Jesus, and it seems that Judas was on the other side—a place of prominence and honor to be next to the Master. Then Jesus chose to make a statement to the whole group revealing that one of them was the betrayer.

This statement surprised and shocked the disciples and they reacted in bewilderment. Next Jesus chose to tell them that it was the person to whom He gave the piece of bread after He had dipped it in the common dish. So He then dipped the bread and handed it to Judas—and it is at that point that Satan entered him. Judas knew and the devil knew and the Lord knew that he had gone to the chief priests and offered to betray Jesus so that He could be arrested when there were no crowds around, and this was Jesus’ signal to Judas that the time had come. Satan has his victim firmly in his grasp: Judas had been offered thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus, so Jesus urged him, “What you have planned to do; do it quickly!”

It is then recorded that Judas left the group—for the last time. He went to the chief priests, got the mob together and marched to the Garden of Gethsemane where he knew Jesus was with the other disciples, walked brazenly up to our Lord and said, ‘Hail, Master!” and kissed Him, and his job was done. Nothing is recorded more about this except that John reacted with surprise that it was Judas who turned on the Lord. Later it is reported that Judas realized what he had done and went to the chief priests with the thirty pieces of silver wanting to undo the dastardly deed that he had done. It is just like in the Garden of Eden: when an act of evil is done, the consequences are permanent and devastating. You cannot undo an evil act. Though he felt so bad about it he threw the pieces of silver into the temple and went and committed suicide by hanging himself.

What the life of Judas teaches us is the depth of the wickedness that is in each heart of man. We cringe to think that we could do such a thing, but the Scriptures unveils for us fully the wickedness of our hearts, and what our lives would be like if we didn’t fully repent and become born again. The Scripture records that Judas “repented”, and what it means is that he felt deep remorse for his sin, but it was too late; he had given himself totally over to Satan and the end was devastating. Satan does that sort of thing…

Prayer: Lord, thank You so much for cleansing my heart and creating in me a clean and a new heart. Guide me in “…the paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake” so that I can now and forever give glory and praise to Your great name. Thank You too for keeping my life from such evil. Amen!

Practical Hint: Know when the enemy is stalking you; be ready; resist; and stand firm!

1904, 2022

The Ugly Forces of Evil were exposed . . .

April 19th, 2022|0 Comments

. . . as The Lamb of God went to Calvary.

Scripture Text: John 13:18-22 Title: Betrayer Revealed

Question of the Day: Why would Jesus wait until the last minute to reveal to the disciples the identity of the Betrayer?

David Virts

If we are to understand the life of Jesus and learn from it, we must study the timing that He chose to unveil certain truths and do the specific things He did. This is illustrated in this passage as we have now just moved through the last Passover meal with Jesus and the disciples. Jesus had just washed their feet and explained to them why He did it, and now the time had come for Him to reveal the Betrayer to them. John indicated that Jesus knew from the beginning who it was who would betray Him, and in these verses Jesus even reveals that He specifically chose each one of them, and He said it in the context of revealing the betrayer to them.

Here is what He said: “I am not speaking about all of you. I know each of you that I have specifically chosen, and you were chosen so that the Scripture would be fulfilled that says, ‘He that eats bread with Me is the one who will betrays Me.’ I am telling you now so that when it happens, you will then believe fully who I am. The absolute truth is in these words: the person who receives the person that I send will receive Me; and when one receives me, the he also receives the One who sent me.’ When Jesus had said that, He was deeply troubled and got all chocked up and His spirit was deeply troubled as He said, ‘The absolute truth is in these words: one of you will betray Me.’ The disciples looked at each other in shock and wondered which of them He was talking about.”

Jesus had stated near the middle of His ministry in John 6:70-71 that He had chosen the twelve, but that one of them had a devil—speaking of Judas Iscariot who would betray Him. The rest of the gospels mention Judas when listing the twelve disciples that Jesus picked to be His closest followers, but none of them figured our who He was speaking about until at the last Passover meal. John remembered that Jesus had recorded those words in John 6, but the surprise he demonstrated when Judas showed up in the Garden of Gethsemane with the arresting mob showed that neither he nor the rest of the disciples had figured the identity of the betrayer until that moment.

Jesus knew His disciples well: He had heard them talking among themselves often about which of them was the greatest and would have the coveted position of being next to Jesus in His kingdom and sit at His right hand of power and authority; Jesus rebuked them several times for their pride and wanting a position of influence; just before today’s text Jesus had washed their feet and showed them what it meant to be a real Servant; and Jesus knew that if He told them what He knew—that Judas was the one who would betray Him—it would cause even more tension among these young and immature believers who had become His closest followers. At times Jesus had to rebuke them sharply and keep them in line so that they didn’t bite and devour one another.

When the time came to unveil the betrayer, Jesus was deeply “troubled in spirit”, the text says, and it was hard for Him to point the finger at one He considered His close friend with these words, “He that eats bread with Me is the one who will betrays Me.” The disciples were about to come to pieces as a group: one would betray Him; another would swear and deny Him three times; and the rest would forsake Him and flee. Jesus was deeply troubled to have to identify to this group that one of them would do such a dastardly deed as to betray the innocent Son of Man into the hands of evil men. But Jesus revealed to them why He unveiled the betrayer before it happened, “I am telling you know before it happens so that when it does happen, you will then believe fully My identity.”

God’s Spirit had revealed to Him through the Scriptures that one of His closest associates would turn against Him and betray Him, and after much prayer to His Father, He specifically chose a man—Judas—to be one of His closest followers with the knowledge that he would betray Him. Now that is what the Son of God in action does! It bothered Jesus deeply, and in revealing publicly the betrayer at the last Passover meal, He was giving Judas one more chance to repent before he carried out his evil plan. Jesus’ revelation of the betrayer clearly showed His deity, brought the rest of the disciples to a deeper faith in Him, and sealed the doom of a wicked man who would turn on an innocent man that he was so close to. Yes, Jesus is Lord, and Master, and God!

Prayer: Lord, we learn so much from Your life when You were here on earth. Bring us all to a full and much deeper faith in You so that we will see You, the Son of God, in all of Your glory and splendor. We believe, yet we need to come to believe fully—and You proved it again and again when You were here on earth. Amen!

3103, 2022

Being and Acting like a Servant is humbling; but don’t we need that?

March 31st, 2022|0 Comments

Scripture Text: John 13:12-17 Title: Blessing and Servanthood

Question of the Day: What blessing is in store for a believer when he to learn to serve his fellow believers?

In today’s text Jesus set an example for His disciples when He took a towel and a basin and washed the disciples’ feet. The disciples were all there—including Judas—and the last Passover meal with them was over. Jesus then laid aside His outer garments, took a towel and a basin of water and began to wash the disciples’ feet. All went well until He came to wash Peter’s feet and Peter objected. “You will understand later,” He told him, and it was necessary for the Master and Lord to wash his feet for then he would be part of His life and ministry. As he later explained to them in today’s text what He had just done, He ended up telling them of future blessings if they followed His example. How is that?

Here is today’s text: “So after He had finished washing their feet and put His outer garments back on, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You refer to Me as “Master” and “Lord”, and you have well said because that is who I am. So if I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, then you too should wash one another’s feet. I have just given you an example so that you will do as I have just done for you. The absolute truth from God is this: the employee is not greater than his boss, and the one who is sent is not greater that the one who sent him. If you keep these things in mind, you will be very happy and richly blessed if you practice them.’”

Our Lord’s example here is stunning. In those days, we are told, it was a custom to have the feet of the guests in a house to be washed before a meal by a servant. But what were the disciples doing? Luke 22:24 records that just after the last Passover meal—which is right at this same time—the disciples were arguing among themselves as to which of them was the greatest. So Jesus arose from the table, took off His outer garments, put a towel over His shoulder, got a basin of water and knelt down before them and washed their feet. Why would He do that? In the verses that followed He explained to them the greatness of a servant.

A Christian learns greatness when he or she learns to humble themselves and become a servant to their fellow man—and especially to their fellow believer. But, since I have been a Christian longer, shouldn’t I have more and more believers serving me? Or since God has given me this important position and big task to accomplish, shouldn’t other jump in and serve me so that I can fulfill what God has given me to do? Often we let thoughts like that control our minds and actions, but Jesus demonstrated for us the epitome of what it means to be a servant. At one point He said that we are not to be like the Gentiles lording it over others—and a servant never does that (See Mark 10:42).

Jesus then brought in the thought of greatness and servanthood. When we call Him our Lord and Master, we are right, but when our Lord and Master became our Servant, then He was showing us the path to greatness. In our world we have an organizational chart with the “top dog” at the top of the chart, and then the dozens or hundreds that we are “over” in this organization. Jesus turned the organizational chart up-side-down! He stooped to become our Servant—the bottom of the bottom (see Philippians 2:8-11 where He stooped to become a man and to die a criminal’s death—and He did it by “humbling Himself”). You see, we are never more like Christ when we have humbled ourselves and become a servant to our fellow believers and to the world around us. The surprising result? When we learn to be a servant, then we are blessed richly by God when we carry out our role as a servant.

Prayer: Lord, teach me to be a servant like You. You were a model Servant when You walked this earth. Instead of jockeying for a position of leadership, teach me to be the number one servant in any situation or any church that I work with. I desire the blessings that come from being a very good servant, so teach me to humble myself like You did, and serve freely th

803, 2022

 Imagine the task of picking the twelve men who would follow Jesus!

March 8th, 2022|0 Comments

Scripture Text: John 13:10c-11 and other passages  Title: Bad Pick?

Question of the Day: Would you purposely choose an enemy to serve beside you?

Suppose you were a pastor of a medium sized church or a leader of a Biblically based ministry and you were to be involved in picking a group of deacons (or elders) to serve with you, would you purposely pick one who you knew beforehand would everything he could to destroy what God had called you to do, would you pick that man to serve with you? Why not! Jesus did! This is the profound insight that Jesus had. Now we know that Jesus did it to fulfill Scripture, but there were other bumps in the road where Judas was involved in trying to stop or slow down what Jesus was doing. Still the question remains: why would He specifically chose Judas? What was to be gained by that?

Let’s look at several texts in the gospels that mentions Judas: Matthew 10:4 tells us that Jesus called the twelve to Himself and give them power over demonic spirits and power to heal sickness and disease and sent them out, and then names them and Matthew added last on the list, ‘Judas Iscariot, who also would betray Him.’ Mark 3:14-19 tells us that when the disciples were listed, Judas was always last. It also mentioned the fact that after they went into a house after the twelve had been called. Luke 6:12-16 tells us that before Jesus chose the twelve that He prayed all night to God before He made the choice.

But it was John who mentioned Judas the most: it seems to have bothered John the most that one of them, one of the twelve closest followers of Jesus would betray Him; in chapter 6:70-71, near the middle of Jesus’ ministry, John recorded a comment by Jesus that He knew that Judas was a devil and that he would eventually betray the Lord; in chapter 12:1-8 Judas is indignant that the precious costly perfume was “wasted” on Jesus, that he openly fussed about it, that he was the group’s treasurer and used to pilfer the money he was entrusted with, and that Jesus rebuked him for being so indignant; in chapter 13:2-30 John tells us that Judas had already made his decision to betray the Lord before the supper, that he was one of the disciples who had their feet washed by the Model Servant, that it bothered Jesus very deeply to have to identify the betrayer, that after he was given the piece of bread, Satan entered him and Jesus urged him to do quickly his dastardly deed, that when the bread was given, none of the disciples realized at that time what had just happened and they thought that he had been instructed to get something for the feast or give something to the poor, and that after he had received the bread, he immediately left the room and that it was at night when he left; and finally in chapter 18:1-5 Judas is mentioned in the garden because it was then that the disciples realized who the betrayer was.

Then at the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane we learn this about Judas: in Matthew 26:14-16 he initiated the contact with the chief priest and told them he could deliver Jesus to them, so what would they give him? They agreed on thirty pieces of silver and from then on he was looking for an opportunity to carry out the dastardly deed. Matthew also tells us that at the Passover meal that Judas asked the Lord, Master is it I? And the Lord replied, “You said it!” Then in Matthew 26:47—50 we are told that Judas came with a mob with a well armed mob and gave the signal: “…the one I walk up to and kiss, that is He, so arrest Him.” Then he walked up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Master, and he kissed Him,” and Jesus replied, “Friend, why are you the one to come?”, and then they arrested Him. Later on in Matthew 27:1-5 it is recorded that Judas felt remorse when he realized he was condemned and went out and hanged himself after casting the blood money in the temple. (Many of these same details are repeated in the other gospels.)

Mark doesn’t add any significant details, but Luke 22:3-6 tells us that Judas promised to betray Jesus to them when there wasn’t a crowd gathered (because the chief priests feared the crowd and their mob mentality). Later on in verses 21-24 Jesus gave a stern warning to Judas before he did his dastardly deed. (This is also corroborated by several other gospel writers.) Jesus was giving Judas a final chance to repent before it was too late and the dastardly deed was done.

What can we learn from the life of Judas and his relationship with Jesus? Jesus called him a “friend”, and yet even the closest of friends can turn on us. It reveals to us the wicked heart of man and how evil it is. Jesus was determined to fulfill Scripture—even though it cost Him His life. John and the rest of the disciples were stunned when it was Judas who returned with a well armed mob to arrest Jesus. We may be surprised like they were when Scripture is fulfilled right in front of our eyes, and that is why, if needed be, we could and would choose someone like Judas—even though we knew it would cost us.

Prayer: Lord, we know that Your number one purpose here on earth was to fulfill the Father’s will and to fulfill Scripture. Teach us the concentration on Your Word so fully that we are determined to fulfill the Father’s will for our lives and to be part of that great army of saints who are fulfilling Scripture. To that end we give ourselves fully. Amen!

1102, 2022

When you were saved, did you not feel clean and free from the penalty of since forever?

February 11th, 2022|0 Comments

Scripture Text: John 13:4-10 Title: Clean or Dirty?

Question of the Day: Was the Lord’s washing of the disciple’s feet because they were clean or dirty?

The bottom line in this account of Jesus’ washing the disciple’s feet is obviously that Jesus was teaching the disciples the importance of learning to stoop down and be a servant to those we are ministering to—and that is a badge of honor for the believer. But what other main truths are seen in this scene at the table that night? Who was clean and who was dirty? And who needed what to be cleansed?

Let’s look at today’s text: “Jesus then got up from the table and took off His outer garments, picked up a towel, and prepared to serve. Then He poured a basin of water and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel over His arm. When He came to Simon Peter, Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, are You aren’t going to wash my feet? Jesus answered him, ‘What I am doing you don’t understand now, but you will understand later.’ Peter then said, ‘You will never wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I don’t wash your feet, then you are not part of My team.’ Peter answered, ‘Lord, then wash not only my feet, but my hands and my head.’ Jesus said to him, ‘When a person is washed, only his feet needs to be washed and he is clean—but not all of you are clean.’”

Next we have the greatest example of servanthood given to us by our Lord. Jesus waited until after the supper part of the meal to wash their feet and dismiss Judas and give His disciples final instructions before His crucifixion. He rose up, laid aside His garments and prepared to do the work of a servant. He took a towel, tied up His undergarments so He could work, poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciple’s feet and to wipe them with the towel. We are told that this is one of the jobs that a servant would do in those days. So is this something that the Master should do? Why would He do it? (He would explain it to them later.)

Everything came to a halt when Jesus came to Peter to wash his feet. Peter’s words were startling and firm: “Lord, are You going to wash my feet?” Peter would be humiliated if Jesus stooped to wash his feet. The rest of the disciples probably felt the same way, but Peter was bold enough to speak up and say something. Jesus explained to Peter that he didn’t understand what He was doing then, but He would understand later. How much of the Christian life is built around the fact that much of what we do in the body of Christ is not understood—yet. But the promise from the Lord is that we will understand much much more later on.

Peter got much more bold (like he did when he took Jesus aside to rebuke Him for speaking of going to the cross) and refused to let the Lord wash his feet at all. What words of embarrassment and rebuke to the Lord, “You will never wash my feet.” Peter had to be thinking that he should be the one to wash the Master’s feet, but because He had taken the role of a servant—well, later he would understand. The Lord’s answer to Peter was both firm and direct and to the point: “If I don’t wash your feet, then you have no part with Me (or, you are not part of My team).”

Notice how gently the Lord dealt with Peter when it was Peter who didn’t understand what was going on and why the Lord would want to wash his feet. Jesus was telling Peter that if he didn’t allow the Lord of the universe to serve Him, then he didn’t understand what it was that Jesus was doing, and he would not be part of, really, part of the kingdom of God. That is a pretty strong statement, but when you look at Peter’s answer, it is clear that Jesus was forceful and Peter, because of his lack of understanding, was at least uninformed. Simon Peter’s answer back to the Lord was quick and swift.

Here is Peter responding with a little more information, a little more understanding, and also with a willing clean heart wanting to get it right and respond properly to the Lord. “Lord, don’t stop at just washing my feet, give me a bath—wash my feet and my hands if it means that I can be part of Your team and have a part with You.” Peter’s response shows the heart of Peter. He dearly loved his Lord. He wanted to serve Him wholeheartedly. He wanted to “jump in with both feet” into whatever the Lord was doing—not knowing that in a few months he would be the head of the church in Jerusalem and one of the first great leaders in church history.

Jesus’ answer to Peter not only ended the conversation here about footwashing, but it is also a transition to John’s next topic: the explanation of what He was doing in washing their feet and the dismissal of Judas to go and do his dastardly deed. First, Jesus had just told Peter that if He washed his feet, then he would be clean all over. What Jesus meant by that is revealed in the next phrase: Peter’s heart was willing and clean, but Judas’ heart was calloused and hard and unrepentant and he was ready to do a “dirty deed” (since we are talking about cleanliness here). So who had the clean heart and who needed the clean feet? Jesus gave Judas one more chance to repent before he did an evil deed, and our Lord gives us many opportunities to clean up our lives before we make a major mistake. Do we want to live clean or dirty?

Prayer: Lord, we are so grateful that You have cleaned up our lives. We now live with a clean and clear conscience—even though we are still growing in You—because You became a Servant and a Savior and a Redeemer so that we could live clean. Teach us to be like You in every way. Lord, clean me up often—I need it!  Amen!

102, 2022

Coming to Belief in God and the Gospel is very hard for many adults

February 1st, 2022|0 Comments

Text: John 12:44-50 Believe See Speak

Question of the Day: As Jesus ministered to people, what was His passion, and what were His words?

Many times during His earthly ministry Jesus revealed His heart of compassion and love for mankind. He saw them as walking in darkness; He saw them as lost sheep without a shepherd; He saw them as lost and going to hell; He saw them rejecting Him time after time; yet He saw some who took a bold step of faith and actually believed that He was the Son of God—the One sent from God. So then, how did Jesus carry out the Father’s will for His life so that men would see and believe?

Here is today’s text: “Then Jesus cried out loudly to many and said, ‘The person who believes on Me does not only believe on Me, but also on the One who sent Me. When you see and know Me, then you see and know the One who sent Me. I have come as a light into this dark world so that those who believe in Me won’t have to live in darkness. If anyone hears the words that I say and does not believe, I do not judge him at this time because I didn’t come to judge the world, but to save the world. The person who rejects Me and cannot receive My words has One who judges him; the words that I have spoken will judge that person at the proper time of judgment. I have not spoken words that I just thought up; it was the Father who sent Me who has given Me a command what I should say and how I should say it. The words that I speak are a command that will last forever; everything I speak, just as the Father instructed Me, that I speak.’”

In this scene Jesus poured out His heart to those who, according the previous verses, were deciding whether to believe and receive Him, or reject Him and turn on Him. Their fear was that they would be rejected by the religious leaders of their day and be barred from going to the synagogue (verses 42-43). So Jesus made it clear to them that when they came to believe on Him, they were not only believing on Him, but on His Father in heaven who had sent Him. Jesus had been born into a very dark world that had very little hope and very little light, so He was offering Himself as the Light of the world. John spoke often about Jesus being the “Light” sent from God into the world. In a dark world, light is hope; light is welcome by those who were being drawn to the Son, and it is the Light that would make the difference between walking in the light forever and being banished forever in judgment to eternal darkness.

As Jesus expressed His passion for those who were wavering between light and darkness and believing or rejecting Him, He gave us His secret. This is powerful because it lightens the pathway for every child of God who has been called to serve the Lord. Here is Jesus’ secret for successfully carrying out the Father’s plan: simply speak the words that one has been given to speak and say them in the way that would carry a powerful eternal impact—Jesus did! He told us that He didn’t just think up the words that He was saying, but He knew the Scriptures so well that He spoke to those listening the words that had been given Him to speak by His Father who had commissioned Him and sent Him into the world.

Many times we wonder, “What could I say that would have an impact for God on those to whom I have been sent,” and the answer is always, “just speak the words of God and all will be OK”. Jesus made it clear that He was speaking the exact words that the Father had given Him to speak, and when one speaks with that confidence some will believe and receive the words and the Son, and some will turn away and reject both the words and the person speaking them. It is the difference between light and darkness and between words that all will be judged by one day and the gift of eternal life that has been offered to us. Jesus’ final words say it all: “Whatever words I speak, just as the Father has given them to Me, that is what I speak!”

Prayer: O God, make the words that I speak so powerful because they come from You. Fill my heart and mind with Your words so thoroughly that whenever I speak, those are the only words that come to my mind. I know that Your word is very powerful, help me to use it wisely and boldly as Your Word goes forth throughout this world. Empower me to speak only Your words—just as Your Son did. Amen!

601, 2022

COLUMNS: Seeing and Carrying out God’s will…

January 6th, 2022|0 Comments

… for one’s life gives believers the message from their heart.

Text: John 12:44-50 Believe See Speak

Question of the Day: As Jesus ministered to people, what was His passion, and what were His words?

Many times during His earthly ministry Jesus revealed His heart of compassion and love for mankind. He saw them as walking in darkness; He saw them as lost sheep without a shepherd; He saw them as lost and going to hell; He saw them rejecting Him time after time; yet He saw some who took a bold step of faith and actually believed that He was the Son of God—the One sent from God. So then, how did Jesus carry out the Father’s will for His life so that men would see and believe?

Here is today’s text: “Then Jesus cried out loudly to many and said, ‘The person who believes on Me does not only believe on Me, but also on the One who sent Me. When you see and know Me, then you see and know the One who sent Me. I have come as a light into this dark world so that those who believe in Me won’t have to live in darkness. If anyone hears the words that I say and does not believe, I do not judge him at this time because I didn’t come to judge the world, but to save the world. The person who rejects Me and cannot receive My words has One who judges him; the words that I have spoken will judge that person at the proper time of judgment. I have not spoken words that I just thought up; it was the Father who sent Me who has given Me a command what I should say and how I should say it. The words that I speak are a command that will last forever; everything I speak, just as the Father instructed Me, that I speak.’”

In this scene Jesus poured out His heart to those who, according the previous verses, were deciding whether to believe and receive Him, or reject Him and turn on Him. Their fear was that they would be rejected by the religious leaders of their day and be barred from going to the synagogue (verses 42-43). So Jesus made it clear to them that when they came to believe on Him, they were not only believing on Him, but on His Father in heaven who had sent Him. Jesus had been born into a very dark world that had very little hope and very little light, so He was offering Himself as the Light of the world. John spoke often about Jesus being the “Light” sent from God into the world. In a dark world, light is hope; light is welcome by those who were being drawn to the Son, and it is the Light that would make the difference between walking in the light forever and being banished forever in judgment to eternal darkness.

As Jesus expressed His passion for those who were wavering between light and darkness and believing or rejecting Him, He gave us His secret. This is powerful because it lightens the pathway for every child of God who has been called to serve the Lord. Here is Jesus’ secret for successfully carrying out the Father’s plan: simply speak the words that one has been given to speak and say them in the way that would carry a powerful eternal impact—Jesus did! He told us that He didn’t just think up the words that He was saying, but He knew the Scriptures so well that He spoke to those listening the words that had been given Him to speak by His Father who had commissioned Him and sent Him into the world.

Many times we wonder, “What could I say that would have an impact for God on those to whom I have been sent,” and the answer is always, “just speak the words of God and all will be OK”. Jesus made it clear that He was speaking the exact words that the Father had given Him to speak, and when one speaks with that confidence some will believe and receive the words and the Son, and some will turn away and reject both the words and the person speaking them. It is the difference between light and darkness and between words that all will be judged by one day and the gift of eternal life that has been offered to us. Jesus’ final words say it all: “Whatever words I speak, just as the Father has given them to Me, that is what I speak!”

Prayer: O God, make the words that I speak so powerful because they come from You. Fill my heart and mind with Your words so thoroughly that whenever I speak, those are the only words that come to my mind. I know that Your word is very powerful, help me to use it wisely and boldly as Your Word goes forth throughout this world. Empower me to speak only Your words—just as Your Son did.

1812, 2021

Unusual Events Need an Unusual Response!

December 18th, 2021|0 Comments

Text: Luke 1:46-56 Mary’s Outburst

Question of the Day: How do believers, like Jesus’ mother, Mary, give an outburst of praise when God does something spectacular?

Mary had just gone through a time of a much unexpected event and a very unusual happening, and her head must have been spinning. After her encounter with the angel, Gabriel (which would make anyone tremble with fear), she needed to get away and think things through and get her mind around this event, so she had packed up and went to visit her relative, Elizabeth, who herself had gone through a very unusual event herself in being pregnant after she was an old lady, but who also would know how to help her through this time of trial. She may have told Joseph about her encounter with Gabriel, the Holy Spirit coming on her, and now, according to the word of the angel, she was pregnant with the Messiah, but we aren’t told anything about that happening.

So now here she was ready to enter the house of Elizabeth, and as she did, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb literally jumped and gave a vicious kick. Elizabeth, being “filled with the Holy Spirit” then blessed Mary and exclaimed “blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Then she quizzed Mary as to “why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoke to her from the Lord.”

Joseph hadn’t had his dream from the angel of the Lord yet (according to Matthew’s account), and their potential marriage hadn’t taken place, but here was a woman of great faith who believed the word of the Lord for a most unusual happening to her body! So how did she respond? It was at that point Mary gave this offering of praise to the Lord: “My whole inner being delights in magnifying the Lord, and my spirit soars rejoicing in God my Savior since he has looked with favor on the humble estate of His servant. From this day on all generations will call me “richly blessed by God” because God has done great things for me and has made His holy name to be magnified greatly.

“He has proven His mercy toward those who hold Him in high respect and reverence generation after generation; He has shown His powerful arm time and again; He has time and again scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts; He has brought down mighty kings from their lofty position and He has lifted up those who are humble and meek; the rich He has sent away empty; He has come to the aid of Israel again and again by remembering His merciful lovingkindness that He has promised to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Then we are told that Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months and then returned to her home. It would take some time for the dust to settle on this spectacular event; so, was she ready to go ahead with her plans to marry Joseph so Jesus would be raised by a godly man? How would he ever come to terms with her pregnancy? Her mind and her world must have been swirling around her as she made that journey (all alone according to the record) back to her home and to Joseph—her beloved husband-to-be. Yet here is the point: she had responded correctly in faith and acceptance, she knew that God would work out all the details of her swirling cyclonic life at this point, and she had given an outburst of praise to God that is still with us 2000+ years later inspiring us to bring praise to God—no matter what has just happened.

Prayer: O God, may an outburst of praise to You come from our lives when events take an unusual twist and our lives are in a swirl. Teach our faith to be as strong as Mary’s was when You show Yourself mighty on our behalf.

Practical Hint: Prepare your heart in faith for unusual happenings—as you never know what God is up to tomorrow in your life!

612, 2021

Only one Man could say “I was before I was born!”

December 6th, 2021|0 Comments

Text: John 1:1-5 IAM Was!

Question of the Day: How could any Person pre-exist His earthly birth?

Jesus: and at the sound of His name heaven breaks out in praise and worship around the Throne of God. Now every person begins their existence in the womb of their mother, and when they are born they start their earthly life—all that is except one Man, Jesus of Nazareth. The writer of today’s text is the Apostle John, who was first a disciple (which is a follower of a Rabbi) of John the Baptist; but then along came Jesus and He and others immediately began to follow Jesus. After walking with the Lord and after He left for heaven, John had many years to ponder who this remarkable Man was. He preached and became known as “the Elder John”, and by the time he was an old man he wrote the gospel of John.

Here are his words as he looked back over the whole life of Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John began his gospel—which was the last one of the gospels written—by introducing Jesus of Nazareth: He was the Word; He was the Creator; He was the light of the world; He was the resurrection and the life; He was the bread of life; He was the Good Shepherd; He was the Vine; He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life; and so on.

The key word in all of this is the word “was”; Jesus’ existence didn’t start in the manger of Bethlehem being birthed by Mary: He existed from eternity past with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, and as God He could say at one time, “Before Abraham was…IAM!” This is so far beyond our ability to comprehend, but then God is incomprehensible, and what He does and who “He is” is beyond our earthly ability to understand; our only one response is to worship Him, and that we do—at Christmas, throughout the year, and will throughout all of eternity.

It is interesting that many in the world also celebrate Christmas; O yes, they have commercialized it and celebrate it for many of the wrong reasons, but much of the world does stop and celebrate and hit the “pause button” on life for a brief moment. But those who are believers stop to worship Him as they worship no other human being because He “was”.

Prayer: O God, teach our hearts at this celebration time of year to pause and worship You again and again. Truly Your Son “was”, and for that we fall on our knees as did the Shepherds and later the Wise Men to worship You. Amen.

1011, 2021

Fear Can Paralyze If It Is Fear of Man

November 10th, 2021|0 Comments

Scripture Text: John 12:42-43 Title: Synagogue Fear

Question of the Day: What is it that keeps many Christians from standing up for the Lord?

The life and ministry of Jesus is a textbook on so many issues, and this is one of them. Jesus gave His life for man’s sin—and He did it all alone—and yet many Christians don’t feel compelled to speak up for Him or to take a stand with Him on many current issues of the day. We feel fear and we feel intimidated when we face the pressures of this world to conform to their system and their demonic control over everything. Why do we lack boldness? Is this a problem new to our day? What was it like in the days of Christ?

Here is today’s text: “At the same time, many among the leading religious leaders of that day came to believe in Jesus, but because of the pressure of the Pharisees they didn’t openly confess their faith in Him because they would have been excommunicated from the synagogue. The problem: they loved the praise and approval of men more than the praise of God.”

John had an inside track to know and smooshed with the leaders among the Jews. He knew a number of them who believed (for sure Nicodemus, and possibly Joseph of Arimathea, for example). John indicated that he knew a number of them, and that a number of them believed on Jesus. So, why then did they not join Jesus publicly and stick up for Him and stand with Him against the pressures of the Pharisees? The text says that they didn’t confess openly their faith in Jesus because of the Pharisees. Evidentially the power and pressure from the Pharisees was so intense that no one dared cross them.

The blind man’s parents in chapter 9 were afraid to cross the Pharisees. Why? They were afraid that if they crossed the Pharisees, they would have then been put out of the synagogue. But wasn’t the temple the place of temple worship? It must have been that the most prestigious place to be in those days was in the synagogue—where Jesus often went on the Sabbath, and where many first came to know the Lord when Paul went out to preach. But John went on to give the underlying reason: actually, they loved the praise of men more than the praise from God. When do we get praise and affirmation from God the Father? Is it not when we believe and worship the Son? The Pharisees rejected the Son, and those who sided with them never got praise from God—even though it says that they believed in Jesus.

Is that why so many today profess to be a Christian and a member of a certain church, and yet they are afraid to stand up for and with the Lord Jesus Christ and be counted as one of His followers? Are we afraid of the opinion and pressure from the world system that controls the whole world—including many religious leaders? Jesus was so richly blessed by God because He stood and stood many times alone when everyone else denied Him or forsook Him and fled or just refused to buck the system. How many changes would come in our lives if we sought the praise of God instead the praise and acceptance from man. Standing against the system cost Jesus His life! What will it cost me?

Prayer: Lord, I know that from the time that the prophets came in the Old Testament, many have died just for taking a stand with and for You. Give me the courage to stand—even if it means death. Teach me to be totally focused on the praise that comes from You. Amen!

710, 2021

WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL: BELIEVE:

October 7th, 2021|0 Comments

To understand and believe all that

God has said is a huge challenge.

 

Scripture Text: John 12:36b-41 Title: Understanding Heart

Question of the Day: How does true understanding come to a person?

Jesus helped make many things clear to us as He walked this earth and taught us the truth of God. The setting for today’s text comes very close to the end of His earthly ministry; many were still talking about the man who had been born blind and about Lazarus who had just been raised from the dead; and the disciples drank all of these events in, but had no comprehension of what was about to take place as Jesus faced the cross. John remembered today’s text some years later and wrote it down for us because he now believed and had great spiritual insight. How does insight and understanding like that come to us?

Here is today’s text: “Jesus spoke these words and then left and went into hiding. Even though He had done so many miracles while they watched, yet they didn’t put their complete faith and trust in Him. This too fulfilled what Isaiah the prophet meant when he said, ‘Lord, who has believed the report we gave about You? And to whom has the strong arm of the Lord God been revealed?’ It seems that those people could not believe because as Isaiah later said, ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts so that they can’t see with their eyes or understand with their heart so that they can be converted and then I could heal them.’ Isaiah said these things when He saw the glory of God and spoke about Him.”

John commented that even though Jesus did many miracles, yet they would not believe on Him. Jesus had spoken often of the faith in action that must characterize the believer’s life. John picked up on this and remembered what Jesus had said and done at this time in His ministry because what Jesus was about to do for mankind was to take the faith of a believer and put it into action to believe and receive eternal life. Wouldn’t they believe if they saw Him turn water into wine? Or feed 5000 with just a few loaves and a few fish? Or make a blind man who had been physically blind from the day he was born to see for the first time? Or even raise a man from death who had been in the tomb for four days?

John explained this to us to show us the blindness and the hardness of man’s heart. Man cannot see because man does not want to see. The prophets tried to get people to believe and be converted. Even Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord, explained it to people, and was grieved that their hearts were so hard they could not believe. It seems that Isaiah must have been somewhat incredulous—how could people hear the message of the gospel and not believe and accept it? The ones who believe are the ones to whom God has revealed “His arm”. In the Scripture the arm of the Lord is seen as the power of God stepping in to do for helpless man what he could never do for himself; and for God to save a person is the primere way for man to demonstrate saving faith.

Why does man find it so difficult to place faith in God for salvation? Isaiah says that they can’t believe because God has blinded their eyes and God has hardened their hearts. Why would God do that? The primere example of hardening of one’s heart is when God hardened the heart of Pharaoh’s at the time of the Exodus. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart only after Pharaoh had hardened his own heart a number of times. When man turns away from God time after time, their hearts are hardened; and when man hardens his heart toward God instead of becoming more and more responsive, then God steps in and hardens that person’s heart.

What happens when man hardens his heart and then God further hardens their hearts? First, they cannot see with their eyes. How can anyone with eyes not see? Many times the Scripture is using the example of the physical to explain to our hearts and minds spiritual truth. Man wants to see things with his physical eyes and touch with his hands; but God is Spirit, and the greatest understanding comes when we learn to discern things spiritually—with our spirit. That’s why the Christian life begins with spiritual understanding and spiritual discernment that comes from a spiritual rebirth. Second, unbelievers can’t understand with their heart. Isaiah went on to explain that true understanding comes from a change of heart. Man thinks that a change of mind brings understanding; but the real change that comes to man starts in the change of the heart. When man’s heart is right, then everything else falls into place and even the mind has much better understanding. Hebrews 11:3 says it all when it says, “By faith we understand…”

What we must do is to cease straining to understand everything with our minds and intellect before we accept the truth of God by faith. We know that faith opens the door of eternal life for us, but faith also takes us deeper and deeper into an intimate walk with God by leaning on Him and not on our own understanding. Straining to understand the ways of God and what He is doing in our world with our minds is exhausting; but resting in the fact that our great God is always in complete control is faith that is resting in Him completely. It is a fact that faith brings spiritual rest and refreshment.

Prayer: Lord, teach my heart to learn to rest in You by faith. My desire is that every bit of hardness of heart be removed and that healing and restoration come to this fretful heart. Teach me that true rest comes, not from straining to understand with my mind, but to believe with my heart so that You can change my heart. Thanks for the understanding that comes from just believing and resting. Amen!

2809, 2021

We all look forward to complete restoration, body, sold and spirit!

September 28th, 2021|0 Comments

Scripture Text: John 12:36b-41 Title: Belief and Healing

Question of the Day: What is it that heals all the hurts deep within the heart of man?

One of the things that renders a person ineffective are the deep hurt feelings that we experience down in our hearts: harsh words from others wound our spirit; the chains of our own sin bind us and leaves us tied up; we don’t understand the future events—even in our own lives—and we feel helpless against the unknown; many have been verbally abused or sexually abused, and the abuse leaves deep scars that it seems will never go away; and it is these deep inner hurts that hinder us from being all that God intended us to be. So what should we do when life seems to have us hemmed in and tied in knots?

Here is today’s text: “Jesus spoke these words and then left and went into hiding. Even though He had done so many miracles while they watched, yet they didn’t put their complete faith and trust in Him. This too fulfilled what Isaiah the prophet meant when he said, ‘Lord, who has believed the report we gave about You? And to whom has the strong arm of the Lord God been revealed?’ It seems that those people could not believe because as Isaiah later said, ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts so that they can’t see with their eyes or understand with their heart so that they can be converted and then I could heal them.’ Isaiah said these things when He saw the glory of God and spoke about Him.”

We have all heard a great many sermons on faith because it is so essential to our lives and our walk with God. We often wonder how different our lives would be if we lived by faith as the Word encourages us to live. In today’s text Jesus had just encouraged the people questioning Him to walk in the light while it is still daylight. It sure beats walking in darkness. But then Jesus walked away and went into hiding. What did He do that for? They needed Him to keep doing all that He had done for them in teaching them, healing them, casting out demonic spirits, feeding the crowds and raising the dead (earlier in this chapter Lazarus had come back from death).

John went on to comment on how hard the hearts of the people still were after all that they had witnessed. He asked the rhetorical question, “Does anyone believe the words He just spoke?” If they really believed, they wouldn’t have pursued and crucified our Lord. But why didn’t they believe? Why don’t we believe fully in the words, the power, and the presence of our Lord? John went on to explain why from the words of the prophet Isaiah: “They can’t believe because their eyes have been blinded and their hearts hardened.” Our unbelief in the fact that our Lord cancelled the debt of sin on our behalf and broke the power of sin in our lives leaves us paralyzed and unable to live in the freedom made available to us.

John then went on to explain that when a person acts and lives in faith in what Jesus Christ did for us, then that person is “converted”, that is their lives are forever “turned around” from going away from God into sin and into healing and freedom. This is when our eyes are opened and our hearts understand. Before salvation we were walking around in the dark, but now the light has come and is now shining in our hearts; we were walking away from God, now we embrace Him; we were deeply wounded by our sins, by other’s words and actions, by the trials and tribulations we go through, but it is our faith that leads our way back to restoration and health—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It is through our strong faith in a great and powerful God that we healed, and that is why our God brings us through deep trials and hurts that increase our faith in Him. He pries our death grip on this world and this life, and gives us something far better—eternal perspective and eternal life with Him forever!

Prayer: Lord, keep my on the path to a growing faith—even if it means more trials and tribulations, and teach us to avoid many of them by placing our faith in You and in You alone to sustain us. Thank You for healing and for restoration and for opening our eyes and for turning us from darkness to light so that the healing can take place. We fully trust You in everything You do in our lives and every way that You lead us as we walk with You. Amen!

2508, 2021

DEVOTIONAL: Turn us all Loose!

August 25th, 2021|0 Comments

David Virts

Scripture Text: John 11:41-44 Title: Loose Him!

Question of the Day: Why did Jesus give the order to loose Lazarus from his grave clothes and let him go?

As we go over this very familiar story, we notice a good many details that need to be studied, and here is another detail: in those days a person’s body was wrapped in a cloth—something like we have seen a mummy—and their mouths were tied shut with a cloth—here called a napkin. How Lazarus even walked out of the tomb is in itself a mystery to us, but he must have been able to at least stagger out of the cave to the entrance. That must have been quite a sight, but there he stood, alive, and yet bound by clothes and a napkin.

Here is what the text says, “Then they removed the stone that blocked the entrance of the cave where Lazarus was buried. And Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘O Father, I thank You that you have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of these people gathered here I have said these things so that they can fully believe that You sent Me.’ When Jesus had finished those words he called out with a loud booming voice, ‘Lazarus, come here!’ And the man who had been dead came out of the cave and his hands and feet were bound with the grave clothes and his head was tied to keep his mouth from gaping open with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Now loose him and let him go!’

This story of Lazarus being raised from the dead is a good illustration of a person who has just been raised from the dead spiritually. As Lazarus was raised from physical death to new life, in the same way when a person is born again for the first time in their life they have spiritual life. They have passed from death into life and been saved out of darkness into God’s marvelous light. But there was a problem with Lazarus: he was still bound with grave clothes, and the same is true of the new Christian. Yes, there is newness of life, but throughout this life we are still plagued by sin and the shackles that sin brings.

So, how are we released from those shackles of sin? In Lazarus’ case Jesus gave the command to “loose him and let him go”; and in our case spiritually, we also need a lot of help from those around us to be loosed from the shackles of sin. We need older believers to teach us the facts about our new life; we have to learn that we are already “dead to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord”; many generations of believers have gone before us preserving for us the Scriptures and searching them to give us insight into the depth and breadth of the knowledge of God and His Word; they have also gone through many of the same struggles that we are now experiencing as we learn to do battle spiritually with the forces of evil; and the encouragement and prayers that they give for us help greatly to bring us to maturity.

Then we find out that we are part of the body of Christ. For a new member of the body to grow the rest of the body pitches in teaching, encouraging, rebuking, exhorting, fellowshipping, and doing whatever each Christian needs at that stage of their life to get through each trial. In this way the body is built up and grows to maturity, and the glimpses that we have of the body of Christ throughout eternity are a unit working together and praising God and living together in one great city as we worship and exalt Him forever! What a thought! And, even more than that, we have the privilege of reflecting to the rest of God’s many great creations the love, mercy, and forgiveness of our magnificent God forever and ever. And all of this happened because of what our Lord did for us in preparing the way, and because many other believers came along side us and encouraged us toward the goal of maturity. So the statement of Jesus still stands for each of us in the spiritual sense: “Loose him and let him go!”

Prayer: Lord, each of us are aware of our need to become like You, and You have chosen to give us a lot of help through other members of Your body. Thank You for those who went before us and prepared the way for us and encouraged and strengthened us through each trial until our faith in You is strong enough to stand the fiercest storms. Lord, loose me from the bondage of sin through what You did for me on the cross and through the help of my fellow believers. Then I will be loosed from sin’s bondage to serve You—forever. Amen!

1108, 2021

WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL: Wicked Perspective…

August 11th, 2021|0 Comments

David Virts

Scripture Text: John 11:46-53

Question of the Day: What goes through minds of wicked people when they see a fantastic miracle?

As Jesus’ ministry unfolded there were many reactions to His miracles from various people: some gave praise and glory to God; some were so excited that they told everyone; some were to go home and tell people what great things that God had done for them; and some, like the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, had a surly rotten attitude and not a word of thanks to Jesus. What was the reaction of some of those who witnessed Lazarus’ being raised from the dead? And what do we learn about the wicked heart of man after a great miracle has taken place?

Here is today’s text: “But some of the Jews immediately left and reported to the Pharisees what Jesus had done. Then they convened the Sanhedrin Council with the chief priests, saying: ‘What are we going to do? This Man is doing so many miracles, why if we let Him go, everyone will believe in Him and the Roman government will come and take away our land and disband our nation.’ One of them named Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year, said to them, ‘what you need to understand is this: it is necessary for us that one Man must die for the masses so that the whole nation won’t have to be destroyed.’ Now he didn’t speak this of his own knowledge, but, being the high priest that year, he was prophesying that Jesus would die in the place of the whole nation, and that He would then gather together in one body all of the children of God who are scattered all over the world. From that statement, and from that day on, they plotted together how they could put Him to death.”

There are always those around who don’t believe and who are there to stir up trouble when there is no trouble in sight. What is fascinating is to look at a dynamic miracle through the eyes of those who don’t believe: first, they were just looking for trouble. The chief priests and Pharisees weren’t at all concerned about the fact that Lazarus had been dead and now experienced life, but instead, they decided to get together to see what they had to do to stop Jesus from doing any more miracles!

They hated the Roman government, but as an unbeliever, they hated Jesus more. They were concerned about the wrath of the Roman government—but not the wrath of Almighty God for what they were about to do to Jesus. They were afraid that “all men would believe in Him”. If Jesus had been a threat to the Roman government, He would have been stopped long ago, so their flimsy excuse that the Roman government would come and take away their place and nation was just that—a flimsy excuse. It also is pointed out in their response that they were more concerned about their land and hanging on to their beloved nation than they were about a dead man coming back to life or accepting the King of kings and the Lord of lords as their Messiah.

Next, the high priest that year, Caiaphas, made a statement that is startling because it was a prophetic statement about how Jesus would die for the people, but how that His death would keep the whole nation from perishing—at least for the time being. (It is pointed out in this section that the high priest in those days served only a term of a year.) Can an unbeliever prophesy and get a prophecy right? If God can speak to and through a wicked covetous prophet like Balaam and also through his donkey, then He can speak through anyone or in any way.

It says clearly here that Caiaphas “didn’t speak of himself”; in other words, it was not his idea to say those words prophetically, but his words were used to get the Jewish leaders to carry out their dastardly deed in crucifying Jesus. Not only would Jesus die—according to Caiaphas’ words—for the nation, but Jesus would gather into one all of the children of God who are scattered all over the world. The writer John remembered that this statement had been made and now, years later, he recorded it for us to ponder. The bottom line is this: from that time on they had firm plans in place to put Him to death. The only thoughts they had about the Son of God was to “put Him to death”.

Each of their statements and John’s recording of those statements unveil the heart of man in all of its wickedness and deceit and godlessness. What a pathetic lack of concern for the man who had died! To them it was more important that they get rid of Jesus and stop Him than it was for a blind man to receive his eyesight or to have a dead man come back to life! Man’s heart is always being unveiled, and, whew, does it ever stink!

Prayer: Lord, we thank You for being so kind to each of us—even when the wicked heart of man is constantly being exposed in our world. Teach us to patiently wait for You to clean up this evil world, and, at the same time, to live a godly life before You in spite of the cesspool of iniquity that defines this world. Help us to have the right priorities and rejoice when a miracle happens and another person has been brought from darkness into Your marvelous light, and when they are transformed from death to new life—forever. Amen!

508, 2021

DEVOTIONAL: Be Alert and Watch and Pray Always!

August 5th, 2021|0 Comments

Scripture Text: Luke 22:39-46 Title: Prayer and Temptation

Question of the Day: How does one’s prayer life help when facing temptation?

David Virts

The scene of today’s text is in the Garden of Gethsemane just before Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. He urged His disciples several times in this passage to pray so that they wouldn’t enter into temptation. Why would Jesus say He was facing temptation when He was facing arrest and death? Was he facing the temptation to “cut and run” so that Judas and the mob wouldn’t find Him? Why would He urge the disciples to pray so that they wouldn’t enter into temptation?

Here is today’s text: “And Jesus went out of the city, and, as was His habit, went to the Mount of Olives and His disciples followed Him. And when He came to His usual place He said to them, ‘You need to pray now so that you will be strong in the hour of trial.’ And then He went aside from them about as far as you can throw a rock and knelt down and began to pray with these words: ‘Father, if it be possible and if You would be willing, take away the awfulness of this hour from Me; yet I desire for Your will to be done, not Mine.’ And an angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him. And the anguish of His soul was so great that has He prayed earnestly, He sweat great drops of blood that fell to the ground. And when He got up from prayer and came to His disciples, He found them so overcome with sorrow that they fell asleep exhausted. He said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Be alert and pray so that you too won’t be tempted to quit and run.’”

Was Jesus tempted in the Garden? Being the Son of Man and being a man, it is said of Him “He was tempted in all points like we are, and yet He didn’t sin” in Hebrews 4:15. So, yes, He was tempted; He asked the Father that if it were possible—if there is any other way to accomplish the redemption of mankind—then remove this bitter cup from Me; however, Your will be done, not mine. Here again Jesus showed His humanity, and yet it is here that He showed us what to do: we don’t understand how the devil tempts us to sin, but we know by the results that temptations are devastating. At the same time, as He was praying, an angel strengthened Him and He was able to surrender to the Father’s will and carry it out.

How about the disciples? Judas had already gone, but Simon Peter was going to be tempted to deny Him in the next few hours, and the other disciples all “forsook Him and fled”. Jesus had just urged them to do what He did, pray so that when the hour of temptation did come, they would be strong enough to withstand the fiercest temptation that the devil could throw at them. If the disciples had been able to figure out what was about to happen, they should have gathered around the Savior as He knelt and prayed, and encouraged and strengthened Him by laying their hands on His shoulders and saying words like, “We know You can do it! You must go forth to accomplish redemption, so just be strong and let the strength of God flow through You.” But they didn’t do that; however they did witness an angel coming to strengthen Him.

So, had the disciples prayed so that they wouldn’t be tempted to sin—to cut and run? NO! It says that they were “so overcome with sorrow that they fell asleep exhausted.” They knew from His words and actions that something big was about to happen to the Lord, but they weren’t ready for it, and they weren’t ready for His arrest, trial, scourging, and crucifixion, and they weren’t ready because they hadn’t follow His instructions to them and prayed.

There is so much instruction in this passage as to how to face life’s greatest temptations successfully. So, when we are faced with temptation, why don’t we pray? Is it because our wicked heart doesn’t really want to avoid sin and its pitfalls? Is it because we think we can face temptation successfully on our own? Or are we just ignorant of the power that God has left at our disposal through prayer to accomplish great things for Him—including not being bogged down in life with the baggage and bondage of sin? Here is an important point: in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry He faced the tempter and the demonic suggestions that he brought, but He knew how to stand against those temptations using the Word of God. No wonder His life was filled with the power of God—He knew how to successfully face the temptations of the devil and maintain a clean and pure relationship with the Father.

So the question comes to us: are we going to follow the Lord’s advice and instructions to us and learn how to, when facing temptation, to pray and receive the victory from the Father over that temptation? Or are we going to succumb to temptation like the disciples did and fall asleep during prayer and be weak and deny our Lord and forsake Him and flee? The choice is yours! And the power of God is at your fingertips in prayer to Him. Here’s where the Lord’s prayer would teach us, “…lead us not into temptation…”, and it is in that prayer that we find victory.

Prayer: Lord, in this prayer we pray that You will give us such a hatred for sin and its consequences, and such a passion for holy living that we pray often—at least whenever we are facing temptation—to be delivered from sin and its power. Thanks for blazing the trail for us in the Garden and showing us how to be totally ready for the greatest test of our lives—simply by praying and tapping into Your power for our weakest moment. Amen!

2907, 2021

DEVOTIONAL: Have you ever witnessed an extravagant gift being given?

July 29th, 2021|0 Comments

David Virts

Scripture Text:  John 12:1-11 Title: Appropriate Anointing

Question of the Day: When is it the appropriate time to give an extravagant gift to the Savior?

We look back in awe at the life and ministry of Jesus because we have had revealed to us His awesome presence from the beginning of creation to the culmination of events as God unveils His Son in the future as “the King of kings, and the Lord of lords”. But those who walked with Him didn’t know all that we know, and though they understood that He was the Messiah, they didn’t comprehend the full scope of His identity. There were a few in His day that at times seemed to grasp a little of the magnitude of the presence of God among men, and Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus in today’s text seemed to grasp a little of it.

Here is today’s text: “Then six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus was, who had been dead and whom Jesus had raised from the dead. It was there that they served Him supper, and, once again, Martha was serving, but this time Lazarus was one of those who were at the meal with Him. Then Mary went a got a large which contained a pound of spikenard—a very costly anointing ointment—and poured it over the feet of Jesus and then wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance from the perfume. Then one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon—the one who would betray Jesus—said, ‘Why wasn’t this expensive ointment sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor?’ Now he said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief and was the treasurer for the twelve, and he used to embezzle money from them. Then Jesus said, ‘Let her alone! She has done this because of My upcoming burial. You will always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have Me with you.’”

Here we have Mary once again doing what she does best—sitting at the feet of Jesus, but this time she is anointing His feet. She took a whole pound of ointment named spikenard. It was very costly, and she used it to anoint Jesus’ feet, and then proceeded to wipe His feet with her hair. It also says that the whole house was filled with the odor of this ointment; well, I guess! If you took a pound of any ointment and poured it out in a house, it would be breathtaking and maybe even overwhelming. The outcry of Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, is one indication as to how expensive and how pervasive the perfume filled the house. He was incensed about it, and the main reason seemed to be because of the high cost of the perfume.

It was so expensive that it would have taken 300 days’ work worth of wages to buy this expensive an ointment. This would be just about a full years wages, and if the average wage in America today was about $25,000, that would be a very expensive flask of ointment. It was probably more expensive than perfume would be because there were certain ointments that were to be used only in special occasions—like when anointing a King, or the special ointment used exclusively by the priests who served in the temple/tabernacle.

Judas’ ruse was that the money could have been better spent giving it to the poor: this indicates that some of the money that the disciples had in their treasury was given periodically to the poor. It also tells us that Judas was the treasurer for the group, and it also seems that later John and the other disciples figured it out that he used to steal from the bag that he kept for them. Also, John recorded that he was convinced that Judas really didn’t care about the poor; he just wanted to pilfer what was put in the bag. Who appointed Judas as treasurer? Jesus must have known what was happening, and chose to do nothing about it; it is only John who, in this passage, mentioned these facts about Judas. So what was Jesus’ statement directly to Judas? “Let her alone…” In other words: “Stop bugging her!” Jesus knew why Mary had done this: it is obvious that He had many times talked to many people about His upcoming death. She must have understood and accepted the fact of His upcoming death—even though He had just raised her brother back from death. It was only appropriate that Jesus be anointed, but why His feet? And why would she wipe them with her hair? This would show her deep devotion to Jesus, and would be the one way that He would be prepared for His death.

But why this extravagant gift? And why at this particular time? It has been pointed out that after Jesus’ death they hurriedly took Him down from the cross and buried Him in a nearby tomb because the Sabbath was near, and this is verified by the fact that the women came to the tomb early on the first day of the week bringing spices to complete the anointing of Jesus’ body. Not only was this the appropriate time for the anointing, but it was the only time available for Mary to do this. She deeply loved the Savior and would do anything for Him, and, since He had mentioned His upcoming death, it was the proper time. Mary completed the act of worship by wiping His feet with her hair.

“…but you won’t always have Me with you,” He said. What grace, what humility the Master showed. He knew from Scripture who He was and accepted it even though He lived in a human body like us. The greatest thing about Him up to this time was that He was the Son of God and our Creator, but now He was to become our Savior and change things for lost mankind forever. Mary seemed to sense that a major change in all of history was about to take place, and she wanted to anoint His feet for the most special occasion of His life—His death, resurrection, and ascension. How and when is it appropriate for us to give an extravagant gift to the Savior? How about now?

Prayer: Lord, we just sit at Your feet in worship and service. The greatest part of this life is being Your child and taking the first steps in service to You as part of Your body. Teach us to be like Mary and Martha where Martha prepared the meal and made the event possible, and Mary completed the best thing she could possibly do—just sit at Your feet and offer an extravagant gift. You are worth of any and all gifts that we could offer, so we just give You our all in both worship and service. What a privilege! Amen!

1607, 2021

DEVOTIONAL: Wickedness displays its ugly head constantly

July 16th, 2021|0 Comments

David Virts

David Virts

Scripture Text: John 11:46-53 Title: Wicked Perspective

Question of the Day: What goes through minds of wicked people when they see a fantastic miracle?

As Jesus’ ministry unfolded there were many reactions to His miracles from various people: some gave praise and glory to God; some were so excited that they told everyone; some were to go home and tell people what great things that God had done for them; and some, like the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, had a surly rotten attitude and not a word of thanks to Jesus. What was the reaction of some of those who witnessed Lazarus’ being raised from the dead? And what do we learn about the wicked heart of man after a great miracle has taken place?

Here is today’s text: “But some of the Jews immediately left and reported to the Pharisees what Jesus had done. Then they convened the Sanhedrin Council with the chief priests, saying: ‘What are we going to do? This Man is doing so many miracles, why if we let Him go, everyone will believe in Him and the Roman government will come and take away our land and disband our nation.’ One of them named Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year, said to them, ‘what you need to understand is this: it is necessary for us that one Man must die for the masses so that the whole nation won’t have to be destroyed.’ Now he didn’t speak this of his own knowledge, but, being the high priest that year, he was prophesying that Jesus would die in the place of the whole nation, and that He would then gather together in one body all of the children of God who are scattered all over the world. From that statement, and from that day on, they plotted together how they could put Him to death.”

There are always those around who don’t believe and who are there to stir up trouble when there is no trouble in sight. What is fascinating is to look at a dynamic miracle through the eyes of those who don’t believe: first, they were just looking for trouble. The chief priests and Pharisees weren’t at all concerned about the fact that Lazarus had been dead and now experienced life, but instead, they decided to get together to see what they had to do to stop Jesus from doing any more miracles!

They hated the Roman government, but as an unbeliever, they hated Jesus more. They were concerned about the wrath of the Roman government—but not the wrath of Almighty God for what they were about to do to Jesus. They were afraid that “all men would believe in Him”. If Jesus had been a threat to the Roman government, He would have been stopped long ago, so their flimsy excuse that the Roman government would come and take away their place and nation was just that—a flimsy excuse. It also is pointed out in their response that they were more concerned about their land and hanging on to their beloved nation than they were about a dead man coming back to life or accepting the King of kings and the Lord of lords as their Messiah.

Next, the high priest that year, Caiaphas, made a statement that is startling because it was a prophetic statement about how Jesus would die for the people, but how that His death would keep the whole nation from perishing—at least for the time being. (It is pointed out in this section that the high priest in those days served only a term of a year.) Can an unbeliever prophesy and get a prophecy right? If God can speak to and through a wicked covetous prophet like Balaam and also through his donkey, then He can speak through anyone or in any way.

It says clearly here that Caiaphas “didn’t speak of himself”; in other words, it was not his idea to say those words prophetically, but his words were used to get the Jewish leaders to carry out their dastardly deed in crucifying Jesus. Not only would Jesus die—according to Caiaphas’ words—for the nation, but Jesus would gather into one all of the children of God who are scattered all over the world. The writer John remembered that this statement had been made and now, years later, he recorded it for us to ponder. The bottom line is this: from that time on they had firm plans in place to put Him to death. The only thoughts they had about the Son of God was to “put Him to death”.

Each of their statements and John’s recording of those statements unveil the heart of man in all of its wickedness and deceit and godlessness. What a pathetic lack of concern for the man who had died! To them it was more important that they get rid of Jesus and stop Him than it was for a blind man to receive his eyesight or to have a dead man come back to life! Man’s heart is always being unveiled, and, whew, does it ever stink!

Prayer: Lord, we thank You for being so kind to each of us—even when the wicked heart of man is constantly being exposed in our world. Teach us to patiently wait for You to clean up this evil world, and, at the same time, to live a godly life before You in spite of the cesspool of iniquity that defines this world. Help us to have the right priorities and rejoice when a miracle happens and another person has been brought from darkness into Your marvelous light, and when they are transformed from death to new life—forever. Amen!

1305, 2021

WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL: All times we underestimate the power of prayer!

May 13th, 2021|0 Comments

David Virts

Scripture Text: John 11:41-44 Title: Powerful Prayer

Question of the Day: What would be the outline of a powerful prayer that would raise the dead?

When Jesus approached Lazarus’ tomb that day, the hearts of His closest followers and friends who were there must have been deeply moved wondering what was going to happen. They had seen Him raise Jairus’ daughter and the widow’s son from Nain, but they had just died; but Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. He had been wrapped in burial cloth and a napkin was tied around his head—so he was really dead dead! If there ever was a hopeless case, this was it—that is until the Master came, but what could He do now? Does the power of God still work in such extreme hopeless cases?

Here is today’s text: “Then they removed the stone that blocked the entrance of the cave where Lazarus was buried. And Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘O Father, I thank You that you have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of these people gathered here I have said these things so that they can fully believe that You sent Me.’ When Jesus had finished those words he called out with a loud booming voice, ‘Lazarus, come here!’ And the man who had been dead came out of the cave and his hands and feet were bound with the grave clothes and his head was tied to keep his mouth from gaping open with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Now loose him and let him go!’ Then many of the Jews there who had come to see Mary, when they saw the things that Jesus did believed in Him.”

To have witnessed this miracle must have been the one miracle that would stick out the most in John’s mind (that is, until the Master Himself came out of the tomb). John looked back on this one as an “impossible miracle” because of the decomposed condition of Lazarus’ body. John not only recorded the miracle, but the prayer of Jesus that plugged into the power of God and produced the miracle. Notice several things in Jesus’ prayer:
1. Jesus first addressed God as “Father”. He knew the source of the power He was about to tap into. This is quite good for us because God is also our Father, and we are His beloved children, and the intimacy that we share with Him and the relationship we have through Jesus Christ is the basis of all of our communication.
2. Next Jesus thanked His Father—even before the miracle took place. A thankful heart is also always a good place for us to start.
3. Does God hear and answer the prayer of His beloved children? Yes! And Jesus said in this passage that He knew that the Father had heard Him, and that He always heard Him. Doesn’t our Father in heaven always hear our prayers too?
4. Why would Jesus speak so intimately to His Father when others were listening? Now this is where we must sit up and take good notice: He prayed to His Father because He knew His Father would listen to His prayer, and He knew His Father would act because when He acted people would believe! What would cause people to believe? When they saw the power of God in action, and when they saw His power in action (verse 45), they did believe on Jesus.
5. Here’s the bottom line: God the Father longs to do things to demonstrate His power so that you and I will come to a deeper faith in His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord! God the Father is glorified when people believe in His Son—because that is the key thing in the plan of God for this world. When people believe in His Son, then He honors His Son; and when He honors His Son then glory and praise and honor come through the Son back to Himself—and that is the key.

So when we come to God and ask Him for a miracle, that is what we can learn from the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. Jesus didn’t do it just because Lazarus was His friend; He did it to bring glory to God and to cause people to come to faith in Him. What miracle would God do for you to bring glory to Himself and to bring people to come to faith in His Son? Just ask… That in itself is a powerful prayer!

Prayer: O God, You have made life quite simple so that we can grasp it and live it. Teach us to tap into Your awesome power and do an amazing miracle so that glory will come back to You, and so that people who hear of that miracle will believe in Your Son. O God, I, right now, ask You for… Amen!

605, 2021

WEEKLY SCRIPTURE: Mother’s Day!

May 6th, 2021|0 Comments

Scripture Text: Psalm 113

Question of the Day: What significance does God place on the position of mothers in our lives?

David Virts

In many cases throughout the historical section of the Scriptures, the father of the child is mentioned, and that relationship is significant in the development and success of that child. But what significance does God place on mothers? How many mothers are mentioned in Scripture? Let’s see, from Cain and Abel’s mom to Isaac and Jacob and Joseph and Moses’ mom and… the list goes on and on. We know of the mother of Samson, and Solomon and nearly every king of Israel, so the role of a mother is quite significant in many lives. In the New Testament we know of Jesus’ mother and the mother of several of the disciples, and the list goes on.

So what does this psalm teach us about mothers? Here are the words of the psalm, and when you follow the words all the way down, wait till you get to the last verse: “Praise the LORD! All believers who are His servants here on earth, give praise, yes, give praise to the name of the LORD! The name of the LORD is full of rich blessings, and will be from this day forward forever. From one horizon to another as the sun runs its course every day and in every place on earth the name of the LORD is to be praised by all!

“The LORD is to be exalted high above all the nations of the world and His glory towers over the whole universe! Who is like the LORD, the God that we worship? He is firmly enthroned high above all else and He looks down on the earth. It is He who raises the poor man out of the trash heap and meets the needs of the needy who are in the dumps of despair. He makes them sit with the highest rulers of His people. He gives the woman who is barren a home and makes her the joyful mother of children. Hallelujah! Praise the LORD!”

After exalting the LORD in praise and showing us of His high position as we make Him known to a lost and dying world, the psalmist teaches us what the LORD, the God over the whole earth, does for man: In verse 8 we are told that He raises up those of us who are poor, and He reaches all the way down to the dust—where we are—to do it. In verse 8 we are also told, and He lifts the needy from the ash heap. In verse 9 we are told and He raises up the poor and needy and makes them sit with princes. How many times has the LORD taken one of His servants and put them in high influential positions here on earth? For example: Moses, Joseph, David, Jeremiah, Jesus, and all of His disciples. God majors in taking that which the world deems as “not important” or poor or needy and does a very significant work with them for His plan and His purposes. In verse 9 we are also told that it is He who also gives a woman who is barren a home and makes here the joyful mother of children—so that she too has a fulfilling life. Who raised each of those great people whom the world has deemed as “insignificant” and made them into the man or woman of God? It is fascinating how a great series of kings or people who think that they are raising a child prodigy are raised by a mother who lived in the shadows, we probably don’t even know her name, and we may even know the name of that important person’s wife, but we hear very little about their mother—the very one who shaped and molded their life? For example, look at all of the kings of Israel and Judah—good and bad—and see how many of them it is mentioned who their mother was!

“HALLELUJAH! and PRAISE THE LORD!” Those are the words that close this psalm, and as we see how the LORD raises up those who are the castaways of society, the downtrodden, the least significant person and sets them on high and makes them “great” in the eyes of the world, all we can say is “Praise the LORD!”

Prayer: O God, thank You for seeing all the way to the bottom of the barrel and picking out me to be one of Your special children by saving me by Your grace. Lord, bless the women that you have specially chosen to be mothers—and thank You for giving me a godly mother who helped shape and mold my life to be a man who loves God. Amen!

David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.

2904, 2021

WEEKLY SCRIPTURE: Wait for What?

April 29th, 2021|0 Comments

Scripture Text: Zephaniah 3:8

Question of the Day: What are we waiting for? What is God waiting for?

David Virts

Believers have been impatient for years because we are waiting for God to come and clean up the mess that is in this world. We are instructed not to want it to come with glee because we will be so glad when God comes and wipes out the wickedness in our world; but isn’t that what He has said that He will do? So, what are we supposed to do while we wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ? Of course we have a job to do, but what must our attitude be as we “occupy until I return” as our Lord told us to do?

Today’s text gives us a state of mind that we must have as we serve our Lord: “‘So wait on Me,’ says the LORD, ‘until the day that I rise up to destroy them. I have determined to gather all nations and assemble all the armies of the world so that I can pour out My wrath that is boiling over and My fierce anger; all the earth will be devoured with the fire of My jealousy.’” In this verse it is evident that He is speaking of the time period that is coming soon of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. And how and why is He coming? He has made it clear that He will begin to clean up the mess in this world by gathering all the armies of the world together and deal with them, and when that great Battle of Armageddon is over, “then the nations of the world will know and fully recognize that I am the LORD.”

So we return to our question: aren’t we waiting for that event? So what is God waiting for? Why hasn’t He done it some time ago? In today’s text He instructs us to “wait on Me”. This involves two major things: Wait for His longsuffering. Wait for His perfect timing to judge the world. Wait because He is waiting for more people to respond before His judgment falls.

The LORD says here and in Revelation 19:11-21 that the following events will take place: 1. We are instructed to wait for the LORD. It is He who decides when and where and how He will come to judge the armies and the nations of the world. 2. It is a time for the LORD to “seize the prey”. At this time He will thoroughly judge all nations at one time and they will become the “prey” that He will seize. 3. His decision is to gather all the “nations and kingdoms” together. 4. The description of the battle in Revelation informs us that the One sitting on the white horse that comes to judge all the nations of the world and their armies, His name is called “Faithful and True”. 5. It is a time when He will pour out His indignation and all of His burning anger and the “fire of His jealousy” on the wicked nations of the world as the LORD consumes them. These nations gathered will represent all the nations of the world and all of the nations that have ever existed. It will be a thorough wipe out by the LORD as His anger and wrath is finally justified with all of the rebellion on earth. 6. Jesus Christ, One who is the Faithful and True, will come and judge—by means of war—in righteousness. 7. He eyes are like flaming torches of fire, on His head will be many crowns, and He will have on Him a name that is known only to Him. 8. His robe will be sprinkled with blood. 9. The name by which He will be known is “The Word of God”. 10. The armies of heaven will follow behind Him, all dressed in the finest white linen and they too will be on white horses. 11. Out of His mouth will come a sharp sword with which He will smite and destroy the nations of the world, and then He will rule them with a rod of iron. 12. He will unleash the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 13. On His robe and on His thigh will be the name written, “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” 14. All the carrion birds will gather to eat the flesh of the armies of the nations—the kings will be there, the commanders of the armies, the mighty elite soldiers, their horses and riders, and all men of every social-economic stratus. 15. The beast (the anti-christ), the kings of the earth and their armies will have gathered, and they will all be captured, and the beast and the blasphemous false prophet will be the first to be cast into “the Lake of Fire that burns with sulfur.” 16. All the rest of the troops will be slain and the vulture birds of the earth will be gorged with their flesh.

The bottom line is this: that is what we are waiting for. We would like the judgment to be over with so that we can enjoy the rich blessings of eternal bliss with our Savior and our Lord forever, but for now we must wait. He will act when He is ready, and in the meantime, the gospel is being preached to the ends of the earth and souls are being saved from eternal damnation.

Prayer: Lord, we must learn to wait on You to come and destroy all the evil forces of the world. It breaks our hearts—as it must break Your heart also—to see wickedness reign when righteousness could be dominating our world, but then we would never fully understand Your holiness and Your righteousness unless we lived through the wickedness that is in our hearts and in our world. But we do wait on You… Amen!

2204, 2021

WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL: Meek Lifted Up?

April 22nd, 2021|0 Comments

Scripture Text: Psalm 147:6 

Question of the Day: When we are deeply in trouble, what is God looking for in us so He can lift us up?

David Virts

When we are overwhelmed by earthly problems, we often wonder what God wants to do in us before He comes to our rescue and restores us. There are several things that He is looking for including He wants to strengthen our faith; He wants to make us stronger as we learn to look to Him; and sometimes He wants to correct us in love so that we are walking in His ways. The Psalmist hit on one more thing in this verse that can help us understand one more thing He is doing.

Here is today’s text: Psalm 147:6: “The LORD will lift up those who are meek; but those who are cold and unresponsive and wicked He will throw down to the ground.” Let’s focus on the fact that He will lift up the meek. Why would He specifically “lift up” only those who are meek? First, let’s look briefly at meekness. God has given to each believer a massive amount of power available to him, and it is in using that power to accomplish His plan and purposes, and we must very careful not to beat up on people or to use that power selfishly to gain advantage over others.

For example, the Bible teaches us that there is great power in the use of the tongue. In fact, death and life are in the power of the tongue. One believer can mortally wound another believer with the misuse of the tongue. We can ask God for the use of His power to get done what we want to get done, and for the good of the whole body or to accomplish His plan and purpose for the church as a whole. Misuse of power and authority is a big problem that many Christians face, and meekness is clearly defined as “power with restraint”. Jesus is the primere example of that: He had the power to straighten out kings and religious leaders and all the judges of His day, but He restrained that power to demonstrate God’s great love and die for the sins of the world.

So for us to use the power of God that is available to us by faith through prayer and though the power of a godly life for our personal gain is sin before God; but to restrain it is meekness—highly cherished in God’s sight, and He will, according to this verse, reach down and lift us up when we have learned it. It is patently obvious that God’s blessings do not flow to and through many of us because of many reasons, and this is one that is glaring in our day and time. Let’s learn to use the power of God available to us to accomplish His plan and purposes in spreading the gospel and building up other believers so that His rich blessings can flow unhindered through us.

Prayer: Lord, teach all of us to exemplify meekness like You taught us while You were here on earth. Our sinful hearts want to run over each other for personal gain, yet You have commanded us to be meek and use the power You gave us to build up fellow believers and reach the lost. We desperately need to be lifted up by You—and we come with a meek and gentle spirit. Amen!

1504, 2021

WEEKLY SCRIPTURE: Blessings Overflow

April 15th, 2021|0 Comments

Scripture Text: Psalm 146:5-7 

Question of the Day: On whom do the rich blessings of God come to?

David Virts

As a believer walks with God, it becomes evident very soon after salvation that they need God’s blessings on their lives. Then a believer learns that God has a vast supply of grace and power and blessings to fill every need and every desire He lays on their hearts. Then He gives each of us a task to perform that will need a maximum outpouring of His grace, power, and blessing to accomplish the task. So now the question: on whom does He pour out those rich blessings?

Today’s text give us part of the answer: “God’s rich blessings are on the person who has learned to rely totally on the God of Jacob for his help, and on the person who has his hope totally in the LORD his God. This can only be because He is the One who made heaven and earth, the oceans of the world and all that is in them, and He is faithful to the truth of His Word forever. He also executes justice for those who are oppressed and beaten up by life, and He provides food to those who are hungry.”

The main problem we have is that God has created us with a lot of man-type ability, and we believe that we can handle anything that comes our way. The second problem we have is that we pin our hopes on what we can see and attain in this life. Let’s look at each of these problems and how God answers each one:

One thing that many American’s have as part of the “American spirit” is the feeling that we are self-reliant. As one little child mispronounced it while learning to tie his shoes said, “I want to do it myselfs!” We would like to think that we can handle life on our own. Obviously this is an outworking of the pride in the heart of every person on earth. Even though God created the world and the environment in which we live; and though He made us in His image; and since He is the only One who is ultimately self-sufficient, yet since sin entered the world, our sinful human nature decided to live without a thought of God, so we mistakenly think that we can do it ourselves.

Further, man’s heart is so rebellious against God because he doesn’t want anyone ruling over him and telling him what to do; but that is the essence of who God is and what He does. He rules over all of His creation and desires all of us to learn to lean fully on Him for every facet of our lives. When we do that we get the focus of our lives off ourselves and onto Him—the eternal God.

That brings us to the second problem: one of keeping the focus of our lives on things temporal instead of on the eternal. God is determined to take each of us through the most difficult things in life to teach us two things: that we can’t do it ourselves—it is far beyond us to take care of ourselves, and then to look to Him for everything that we need. To do that we must lift our eyes up to Him in faith and see the eternal, the “forever purpose” that He created us for. He wants to teach us that this world is not our home, so He gives us trials and tribulations and a body that is decaying and dying so that we will look to Him for eternal life; He puts us in situations where our only hope is in Him, so then we lift our eyes off the temporal and fix our hope fully on the eternal.

One primere example of this is in the life of Abraham. God called him to leave his home town and become a nomad, traveling from place to place. This meant he had to live totally by faith—which was not new to men and women of God, but the ultimate test of faith would come to him after he was 100 years old—which was to take his son and sacrifice him on Mount Moriah. The write of the Hebrews 11:10 says, “For Abraham looked forward to living in a city that had eternal foundations, and whose Founder and Designer is God.” God’s ultimate test of faith for him helped him get his eyes off the temporal—the promised son that walked beside him—and onto that eternal city.

It is on people like this on whom God wants to pour out His richest blessings. They have learned to let loose of the things, the desires, and the ambitions of the rest of the world, and focus instead on the eternal. One of the key ways a believer can do this is to learn to worship God—who is all around us, but we will never “see Him” until we get into heaven and worship Him fully without all the trappings of this life. When we accomplish that, it is then that we have begun to tear our wicked selfish hearts away from the temporal, and onto the eternal. The psalmist went on to tell us about who God is and what He will do for each of His children. When our help and our hope is fully in Him, He then takes care of every detail of our lives. Who would want to live any other way?

Prayer: O God, we are aware of the downward pull of our sinful hearts, yet You have set us free from the sin and death that pulls us downward, and taught us to live by faith by having us look up to You as You supply every need, every God-given desire of our hearts. Thank You so much for the life of faith that we must all live if we are to walk with You every step of the way in this life, and then lift our eyes up to Your eternal throne—the one place where everything in the universe is centered around. We desire to let loose of this life and look up. Amen!

804, 2021

WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL: The Righteous and the Wicked

April 8th, 2021|0 Comments

Scripture Text: Daniel 12:10 Title

Question of the Day: How are the righteous and the wicked contrasted throughout Scripture?

David Virts

by David Virts

From the beginning of time just after the Garden of Eden it has become clear that there are two distinct kinds of people on earth—the righteous and the wicked, the saved and the lost. Note the contrast between Cain and Abel: Cain was self-willed, rebellious, defiant, had to fear of God, and careless in bringing God “whatever worship I want, and He better accept it” attitude, and then was angry with God when He refused his sacrifice; on the other hand Abel found out what was acceptable to God, brought the proper sacrifice by faith, had a deep reverence and respect for God, and showed distinct characteristics of a “righteous man”.

Since that time in history the wicked has always tried to wipe out the righteous. This distinction has become more marked throughout history, and will continue right up to the very end. In today’s text the angelic being speaking made a statement about this contrast. Daniel had just been instructed about a series of events—especially pertaining to world powers and as they came to destroy God’s people and the land of Israel. What would happen from Daniel’s time right down through to the “latter days”, the “day of the LORD”? Here is today’s text: “Many will be purified, made crystal clean, and thoroughly tested; on the other hand the wicked will do very wickedly. None of the wicked will understand what hit them, but those who are wise will understand the events as they unfold.”

In that statement the angelic being was summarizing what would happen from God’s perspective down through time: many would be righteous and purify their lives; while others will be in a contest to see who can act more wickedly. Many people will have a passion to live a clean pure life, and will find the answer in the cross and death of Jesus Christ and become “refined and white”; that is, their souls will be cleansed and they will be ready to enter the presence of God sanctified and ready to be used by their Master in His service forever. However, the wicked people of the world will act more wickedly—and none of the wicked will understand. The wicked actually think that they are “building a bigger and better world” to live in; but what they don’t know is that are setting themselves up for judgment and devastation and destruction.

When anyone or any governmental position—or any position of leadership—does not seek God, what they do will only make things worse—and they are blind and cannot see that. There are those in this country today who believe that America is salvageable; but God has given edict that every nation on earth will be destroyed when He comes in judgment and He is coming soon, and America will be no exception! This world today is on a collision course with the judgment of God, and He will totally destroy all that man has tried to do, and because it is all futile and sin-cursed, it will all be burned up and destroyed. You see, in judgment God does two major things: He wipes out the wicked, and He purifies the righteous. The wicked are so evil and they have so turned away from God and His righteous character, the only thing left for them is to be destroyed.

But the angelic being went on to say that the wise will understand. God gives wisdom, understanding, and insight to those who are righteous. Christians today who are alert and in the Word of God searching for God’s answers to the complex evil plans of this world are well aware that we are right on the doorstep of what the Bible calls “the latter days” and “the day of the LORD”. They are striving to live a pure and clean life in a lost, confused, wicked, and God-hating world, and it is these peoples that the angelic being said would understand. We know clearly where this world is headed, and it breaks our hearts because so many have not yet repented and accepted the gift of God’s Son, eternal life, before He judges them and sends them to eternal death in the Lake of Fire. So the contrast between the righteous and the wicked will be fully realized as God’s wrath is poured out on a sinful and wicked world, and at the same time rescues the righteous and completes redemption in their lives so that they are fit to be with Him forever in heaven.

Prayer: O God, to look forward with glee to what is going to happen to the wicked in this world is to fail to understand Your heart—a heart where You “are not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to eternal life”. We look forward to being all cleaned up and living in Your presence forever, but we turn our heads away in disgust and horror as You give the wicked what we really deserve—eternal death and condemnation. The gift of Your love—though underserved—is the greatest gift any man can ever embrace, and I embrace it; I accept it as mine! May my life be a contrast far different than the wicked world around me. Amen!

David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.

304, 2021

DEVOTIONAL: Frightened, yet Peaceful

April 3rd, 2021|0 Comments

Scripture Text: Luke 24:33-38 Title: Frightened to Peace

Question of the Day: What would your reaction be if you stood face to face with Someone who had been resurrected?

David Virts

Many times we look back with the perspective of having the Bible complete in our hands and wonder why people reacted the way they did. This is the case when this small group of people who had gathered that first resurrection morning was face to face with their Lord—and they didn’t seem to know who He was. Since none of us have seen anyone with a resurrection body, we probably don’t know how we would react either.

Here is today’s text speaking about the two men who had been on the road to Emmaus that first resurrection day: “They immediately got up and returned to Jerusalem and found the eleven gathered together with other disciples and said to them, ‘The Lord has for sure risen from the dead and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they explained to them what had happened as they walked and how He had revealed Himself to them during the meal as He broke bread with them. And as they were relating the day’s events, Jesus Himself appeared and was suddenly standing among them, and He said to them, ‘May God’s peace rest in this place.’ But they were literally terrified and scared stiff, and because He appeared instantly they thought they were seeing a ghost. And then Jesus spoke again, ‘Why are you so terrified? And why are there confusing thoughts in your minds?’”

Their reaction, as ours would have been, was to be frightened, troubled, and their thoughts were whirling around in their heads. Think of it this way: the last time they saw the Lord He had been badly beaten, Isaiah tells us that His face was marred so that He was beyond recognition, and some of them had watched as He was crucified. They were in such shock didn’t know what to think. They were bewildered and confused and perplexed as they tried to ponder this day’s events.

Earlier that first Easter morning a group of women had gone to the tomb, found it empty, and two angels had reported to them that He was not there, He was risen; they and the other women had scattered and passed the word around, and several had gone to the tomb and found it empty; Mary Magdalene had stayed at the tomb, and the Lord had appeared to her, so she came and told everyone; and then later that evening two walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus and Jesus caught up with them and explained to them the Scripture; they urged Him to stay with them—of course they didn’t recognize Him, and as He broke the bread they instantly knew who He was; they excitedly had run back to Jerusalem where the disciples were gathered and the women and other believers, when all of the sudden their beloved Lord stood among them and scared them out of their wits.

We are still puzzled because we have never seen a resurrected person, but we can somewhat identify with their bewilderment and the fact that when He did appear, they were frightened. But then the Master came to them (as He comes to us) and speaks the most important words that we need to hear, “Peace be with you.” And His peace came over them, and the rest is history! They instantly went from being frightened to having great peace.

Prayer: Lord, thanks that You came that first Sunday morning and revealed Yourself to the disciples. Your presence is always welcome to us, so we bow before You. Our hearts at times are trembling, but we accept Your peace. When we stand before Your resurrected body and ours are resurrected too, then we will understand the awesome transformation that has taken place. Until then we worship You for the fact that You came back to life—permanently, and that encourages our hearts. Thanks for Your overwhelming peace!