Devotional – Psalms 1

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the [a]ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he [b]meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the [c]rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Psalms 1

The Way of the Righteous and the End of the Ungodly.  If a blessed man is not listening to the ungodly, he is listening to, counseled by the godly, or God Himself through the Word.  He heeds the word of God and depends on His wise counsel.  

A blessed man does not stand in the path of sinners. To share that path risks being overcome by sin, or being tempted by it unnecessarily.  That path is the wide path, the wrong path, the one that leads to death and destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).  The righteous man  takes the narrow path.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 [a]Because narrow is the gate and [b]difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Matthew 7:13-14

A blessed man does not sit in the seat of the scornful, not bitter or holding contempt against others.  He is at peace, always forgiving and heeding God’s will as he delights in the law of the Lord.

A blessed man is like a tree planted where it would be best nourished, by a river, so it always bears fruit in its season, full of everlasting life that brings prosperity.

All of this stands in stark contrast to the ungodly, who are not rooted in faith.  They don’t hold fast to the source of all life and are driven away like worthless chaff by the slightest wind.  They will not stand before God at judgment but be eternally separated from Him.  Nor would they stand with the righteous.  The way of the righteous is eternal life, but the ungodly is death.

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Devotional – Amos 2:4-5

Judgment on Judah

Thus says the Lord:

“For three transgressions of Judah, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because they have despised the law of the Lord,
And have not kept His commandments.
Their lies lead them astray,
Lies which their fathers followed.
But I will send a fire upon Judah,
And it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.”

Amos 2:4-5

Judgment on Judah.  These verses repeat the statement “for three transgressions, and for the fourth” repeatedly.  What this means is not an exact number of sins, but a limit was hit.  Three was the limit before judgment would be delivered by God.  The fourth was the tipping point where it could not be allowed to continue.

Judah despised the law, and failed to keep His commandments.  They were led astray by their own lies.  For this God vowed to send a fire that would devour the palaces of Jerusalem.  God would again turn worldly wealth to ash.

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Devotional – Amos 1 & 2:1-3

The words of Amos, who was among the sheepbreeders of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.

And he said:

“The Lord roars from Zion,
And utters His voice from Jerusalem;
The pastures of the shepherds mourn,
And the top of Carmel withers.”

Judgment on the Nations

Thus says the Lord:

“For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because they have threshed Gilead with implements of iron.
But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael,
Which shall devour the palaces of Ben-Hadad.
I will also break the gate bar of Damascus,
And cut off the inhabitant from the Valley of Aven,
And the one who [a]holds the scepter from [b]Beth Eden.
The people of Syria shall go captive to Kir,”
Says the Lord.

Thus says the Lord:

“For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because they took captive the whole captivity
To deliver them up to Edom.
But I will send a fire upon the wall of Gaza,
Which shall devour its palaces.
I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod,
And the one who holds the scepter from Ashkelon;
I will turn My hand against Ekron,
And the remnant of the Philistines shall perish,”
Says the Lord God.

Thus says the Lord:

“For three transgressions of Tyre, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom,
And did not remember the covenant of brotherhood.
10 But I will send a fire upon the wall of Tyre,
Which shall devour its palaces.”

11 Thus says the Lord:

“For three transgressions of Edom, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because he pursued his brother with the sword,
And cast off all pity;
His anger tore perpetually,
And he kept his wrath forever.
12 But I will send a fire upon Teman,
Which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.”

13 Thus says the Lord:

“For three transgressions of the people of Ammon, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because they ripped open the women with child in Gilead,
That they might enlarge their territory.
14 But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah,
And it shall devour its palaces,
Amid shouting in the day of battle,
And a tempest in the day of the whirlwind.
15 Their king shall go into captivity,
He and his princes together,”
Says the Lord.

Judgment on Israel

Thus says the Lord:

“For three transgressions of Moab, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime.
But I will send a fire upon Moab,
And it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth;
Moab shall die with tumult,
With shouting and trumpet sound.
And I will cut off the judge from its midst,
And slay all its princes with him,”
Says the Lord.

Amos 1,2:1-3

Judgment on Israel’s neighbors.  Here, through Amos, the Lord expounds upon the crimes of the neighbors of Israel against Israel and each other, and describes the punishment that is coming for them as a result of their actions.

Damascus ran over Gilead like a threshing sledge cuts through stalks of grain.

Gaza exiled and sold entire Israeli communities into slavery in Edom, as did Tyre who additionally took up arms against his brother, Israel.  Edom also took up arms against its brother, Israel.  The ammonites murdered pregnant women, the language was more gruesome as it described tearing them open.

Moab would be punished for desecrating the bones of the king of Edom, an act of pure hatred and not how the culture would treat their dead (by burial).  The Lord vowed to bring fire that would turn their worldly opulence to ash and humble them.

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Devotional – Luke 24:50-53

50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple [a]praising and blessing God. [b]Amen.

Luke 24:50-53

The ascension.  The book of Luke ends where it began, in the temple in Jerusalem.  Starting with Zacharias (Luke 1:8), a priest, burning incense and praying to the Lord.  At the right hand of the altar an angel appeared and blessed him with news that he would have a son who was great in the eyes of the Lord.

It ends with Jesus Christ, His work complete, blessing His disciples and ascending into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father.  By His sacrifice and intercession, we are worthy in the eyes of the Father.  The disciples returned to Jerusalem from Bethany with great Joy, praising and blessing God in the temple, as they would soon bear witness to all they had seen.

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Devotional – Luke 24:44-49

44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, [a]and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city [b]of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

Luke 24:44-49

The scriptures opened.  Jesus reminds His disciples of all He said and taught them in His ministry, while He was still with them.  From the Law of Moses to the prophets and psalms, all pointed to Jesus and had to be fulfilled.  He then opened their understanding so they could see how the scriptures foretold all of this.

Jesus reinforced that truth, it is written in the Word of God, so it was necessary.  Christ had to suffer, die and rise again.  Repentance and remission of sin must be preached in His name to all nations.  The disciples were to wait in expectation in Jerusalem, until they were endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

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Devotional – Luke 24:36-43

36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

40 [a]When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish [b]and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.

Luke 24:36-43

Jesus appears to His disciples.  Now Jesus had appeared to a few folks by now, the tomb was empty and open, and all of His disciples were in discussion, attempting to reconcile all they had seen and heard.  Suddenly Jesus appears amongst them, terrifying and frightening them.  I definitely could see being startled here, but the terror and fright may need more explanation.

Factor in that Jesus was still in the body which had been crucified.  His hands and feet were pierced, His side was punctured if not torn open, the damage from the beatings and scourging still evident.  His beard was torn out.  He could have healed Himself but chose to bear all of this evidence so His disciples would truly believe it was He.

Jesus asked why they were still troubled and doubting, but He knew the answers.  So many times He had made clear what was coming and they still did not believe.  They knew He was crucified and died.  They knew the tomb was empty.  Now He stands before them, His temple restored on the 3rd day.  He knew they would need more.

Jesus tells them to see His state, pointing out that a spirit does not have flesh and bones.  They still did not believe for joy, and marveled – this is a reference back to Genesis 45:26 where Jacob’s heart stood still because He couldn’t believe what he heard of Joseph.  The disciples were in shock, it was too good to be true, a very human reaction to what they were witnessing.

26 And they told him, saying, “Joseph is still alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt.” And Jacob’s heart stood still, because he did not believe them.

Genesis 45:26

Of course, Jesus followed up with a very human question… Do you have anything to eat?

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Devotional – Luke 24:28-35

28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He [a]indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.

30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.

32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was [b]known to them in the breaking of bread.

Luke 24:28-35

The Disciples’ Eyes Opened. These disciples, not of the eleven, have been talking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus for some time.  Upon reaching their destination, Christ wished to carry on but they invited Him in (hints of Revelation 3:20 here?) to stay with them… At this point He was still a stranger with a strong knowledge of scripture.

After breaking the bread and blessing it, the disciples’ eyes were opened to the truth.  Christ had risen and was with them in their time of grief, assuring them of what had come to pass being of God by sharing the scriptures. Shortly after seeing Him as He truly was, Jesus vanished from their sight.  Afterwards, both disciples recalled how their hearts burned in His presence.

Their discouraged hearts had faith restored, and they now knew that Jesus was alive.  They quickly returned to Jerusalem, to the 11 (not the 12 as Mathias hadn’t been chosen to replace Judas yet) only to discover that the 11 already knew, and Peter had seen Him.  Now I’d started down a bit of a rabbit hole with Luke 24:34 as it seemed a little out of place.

Earlier in the book of Luke, it was Mary Magdalene and the other women who first witnessed the empty tomb and were told by angels that Christ was alive.  Then Peter saw the tomb next, but there was no mention of a specific interaction between Peter and the risen Jesus just yet as Luke 24:34 indicates.

I’ve seen some explain that Cleopas (one of the disciples on the road to Emmaus) and Cephas (Simon Peter) were conflated here, I’ll keep digging through.  I read it mainly as Peter’s denial and doubt being countered by being the first to believe that Christ had risen.  I’m open to further discussion / correction here as at first glance I found it curious.

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Devotional – Luke 24:13-27

13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was [a]seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.

17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you [b]walk and are sad?”

18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”

19 And He said to them, “What things?”

So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”

25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He [c]expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Luke 24:13-27

The road to Emmaus.  Two disciples, lamenting over the death of Jesus were unknowingly approached by Jesus on the third day.  They couldn’t recognize him as their “eyes were restrained” allowing Jesus to quiz them in a way.  He asked them why they were sad, and they proceeded to bear witness to the death and apparent resurrection of Christ, even as they were unsure that He had been resurrected.

They were telling Jesus what happened to Him, from their own worldly perspective, and expressed their disappointment that God had not done what they expected Him to do.  Instead of redeeming Israel, Christ was condemned and crucified.  Now they wondered what was next, as they knew of prophecy but maybe not enough to know what was next.

Jesus first admonishes them for being slow hearted in believing the prophets, for they already had the knowledge and teaching from Him, yet they still didn’t fully believe.  Jesus, as “the stranger” then proceeds to lay out all the prophecy, starting from Moses, leading to what transpired and what was to come.  I’d imagine these men found themselves humbled in that conversation as with prophecy alone, He educated them… again!  Wise correction indeed!

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The devil is not attacking you because you are weak.

The devil is not attacking you because you are weak. The devil is attacking you because you are a threat. Because there is something valuable inside you. Remember, thieves don’t try to break into empty houses. The devil couldn’t take you out, so he’s trying to wear you out. So don’t ever give in, because the tide is about to turn in your favor. God knows you’re tired; He knows you’re trying. Put Him first, trust Him, and He will make a way. Even when you aren’t sure of the outcome, you can be sure of your God. He is with you, He is for you, and He is working all things together for your good.

I’ve heard the above quote many a time, I see online it’s regularly attributed to Denzel Washington, and at points the voice does sound very much like his… but I have yet to see any original source. If you come across this post and actually have an idea who wrote it, please reach out.

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Devotional – Luke 24:1-12

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, [a]and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were [b]greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”

And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like [c]idle tales, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths [d]lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.

Luke 24:1-12

He is risen, hallelujah!  As the women returned to the tomb to apply the oils and spices to the Lord’s body, they discovered an open and empty tomb.  Waiting there were two men, perhaps angels, who asked why they sought the living amongst the dead?  The women were reminded of Christ’s prophecy of all that just happened.

The women returned to the apostles, shared what they saw, and were greeted mainly by disbelief.  Now Peter (and John, who in some accounts ran faster and got there first) ran to the tomb, discovered the truth of what the women said, and marveled that Jesus had risen.  Such pain on Friday to such joy on Sunday.

As Christ was delivered from death to life, so were His apostles delivered from doubt to faith.

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