Daily Devotions

Spiritual Prison Inmates Freed

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“For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14)

 

The Mormon Church struggled to understand what happens to loved ones who never heard of the Prophet Moroni or the Book of Mormon. They felt it wasn’t fair for those who never heard the “truth” to be denied salvation for something that was beyond their control. So, genealogy became vitally important. They would go through their family tree, baptizing the dead, so they would be incorporated into the Mormon Church and hence be prepared for the apocalypse. Those dead who are unbaptized remain in “spirit prison” waiting for the opportunity to avoid damnation.

 

Thankfully, we do not need to require human initiative for salvation of our ancestors, to say nothing of ourselves. First, God is not a vengeful deity waiting for us to screw up or follow the wrong path, so we can be cast into hell. God created us in love, redeems us in compassion, and sustains us in joy. God’s power to provide grace is more powerful than our ability to sin. God’s love, compassion, and joy trumps our sin. We don’t need after-death baptism, extreme unction, or any other means of securing our own salvation. God is totally in control of our salvation and God loves us and desperately wants us to be with God for eternity.

 

Today, offer God your prayer of confession and lay out your life to God. Ask God for forgiveness and then trust God to provide. Then, think about the people you love most in this world. Every one of them has sinned and falls short of the glory of God. Yet, you love them and would never want them to experience eternal damnation. How much more loving is God than you? Thank God for being so forgiving and loving. Throw your life on God’s altar and let God forgive you and the rest of God’s people on earth. Trust God to forgive and restore all creation! Praise God!

In Between Bank Shots

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“Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great: He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory.” (1 Thessalonians 3:16)

 

I have a good friend I meet with just about every Friday. We have lunch and then shoot pool or play guitars. What is truly upsetting, is that I am not nearly as good at playing the guitar or shooting pool. We are both believers in Christ and we often talk about biblical issues. My friend is an award-winning artist and a number of his works have biblical themes. He sent me one with a Revelation - end times - theme and asked for my input, from a biblical perspective. I told him he had free range to symbolically express themes of “end times” but that the idea of the Anti-Christ and hell are not necessarily literally historical, and the rapture isn’t literally going to happen in the [near] future.

 

My friend, like so many other people, reads parts of the Bible as one might visit a fortune teller. This was never the intention of the book of Revelation. It was not written for this unique time, early in the 21st century, some 2000 years into the future. No, it was written to provide comfort and hope for people in their time. Once we know what the author was describing for the people 2000 years ago, only then can we seek to find out what Revelation reveals to us in 2017.

 

Like Revelation, the entire Bible is in some way a “mystery.” As such, we cannot rely only on our own wisdom. No, we must also rely on God’s wisdom, that we receive through the Holy Spirit. This means, each time we read the Bible we should pray first, inviting the Holy Spirit into our reading. We should want Divine wisdom to instruct our understanding. Prayer provides that opportunity. So today, pray before you read, and then read 1 Thessalonians chapter 3. See what you think God is trying to tell you about what Paul writes, but also what God is saying to you as you read. The more you practice prayerful reading, the better you will become at recognizing true biblical wisdom. That is even more exciting than beating my friend at 8 ball!

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