Simplicity and Purity of Devotion

August 12, 2022

The apostle Paul had great concern for the church at Corinth because they were allowing themselves to be led astray by false teachers who were preaching a different Jesus, a different Spirit, and a different gospel (see 
2 Corinthians 11:4). The church was being deceived and Paul had to address this problem. He writes, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3 NAS95) The devil is crafty. His goal is to lead our minds away from Christ through subtle false teachings. It is easy to be taken in, so we must be on the alert.

Notice in this verse how our devotion to Christ is described. Our devotion to Him is supposed to be simple, or sincere. In other words, it is to be heartfelt, genuine, and plain. Our devotion is to be pure. Our devotion to Him is not to be mixed with other extraneous or unnecessary things. Simple and pure devotion—this is what the Lord wants.

But it is very easy to be deceived and to be led astray from God’s ideal. This is especially true when it comes to our worship, which is an expression of our devotion to Him. Sometimes people want glitz and glam in worship. Sometimes the focus becomes great music, a dynamic speaker, dramatic stage settings, or funny and emotional stories. It is so easy for our focus to be turned from sincere and pure devotion of the heart to external things (sights, sounds, atmosphere, etc.). Before we know it, our worship is no longer about devotion to Christ at all, but about our own desires.

Do you see a brother sitting in quiet reverence, singing a simple hymn from the heart to God? Though there may not be much to see externally, and though the fleshly-minded may be thoroughly unimpressed, God is pleased because He sees simple, sincere devotion to Christ! Do you see a sister quietly bowing her head as she partakes of the bread and the cup, just like she does every Lord’s Day? Again, there is not much going on externally. The world may think such a thing to be lifeless and uninteresting, but that’s not what God thinks! God sees simple and pure devotion to Jesus, and it is pleasing to Him!

Let us not be deceived. Let us not be led astray by Satan’s craftiness. Let us not get caught up in the thinking of the world. Simple, pure devotion to Jesus is what pleases our God. Let us offer it to Him on this Lord’s Day.

—Scott Colvin


The Day of the Lord

August 9, 2022

The day of the Lord is coming! The things that will occur on that day are so far outside of the realm of our natural experiences that we can hardly imagine them, and because of that, perhaps we don’t take the reality of it seriously enough. The coming day of the Lord is a reality that should mold and shape how we are living our lives today.

What will happen on the day of the Lord? “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10 NAS95) Can you picture it? Everything in this world is going to be destroyed by fire. The earth and all its works will be burned up. Can you hear it in your mind? The heavens will pass away with a roar. What words could we even use to describe a sound such as that?

Such a monumental truth should have monumental consequences for our lives. Knowing that this day will come should deeply affect us! Peter continues, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!” (2 Peter 3:11-12 NAS95) Isn’t that a great question? What sort of people ought we be, knowing these things to be true? What difference should it make in our lives to know that everything in this world is going to burn up? We need to keep the day of the Lord firmly fixed in our minds and hearts and let the reality of that day motivate us toward holy, godly living.

Jesus is coming soon! He will come like a thief in the night. Whether we are alive or dead when Jesus comes again, we will all experience that day. Does the thought of it fill you with dread? Faithful Christians should not be filled with dread but with longing! If you are striving to live in holiness and godliness, you can have confidence on that day! You can look forward to that day, for you can be assured that He is yours, and you are His, and that you will be going home to your loving Father, to be with Him always. Are you ready for that day to come?


The Deceitfulness of Sin

July 29, 2022

“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:12-13 NASB)

Sin is deceitful. Sin promises pleasure and fun. Sin promises freedom and fulfillment. But Satan is the father of lies and he uses sin to lure souls into destruction. If we could only see more clearly the deceitfulness of it all! Sin may bring brief pleasure and fun, but in the end, it always brings ruin and death. Sin may promise freedom and fulfillment, but in reality, it always brings enslavement and spiritual poverty.

Not only does sin deceive, but it also hardens. Some may think that they can play around with sin, reap the temporary pleasures, and repent later. But this is a deadly game because sin hardens the heart and sears the conscience over time. Sin can harden the heart so much that a person no longer wants to listen to the word of God and no longer responds to it. Sin can make a person hostile to God and to the truth of His word.

Because of the great dangers of sin, we need to make sure that we are taking care of our hearts. We need to be very careful that our hearts don’t fall away from God. You and I can and should be helping one another with this. We need to be encouraging one another every day, urging one another to stay true to the Lord and to not be deceived by the temporary, deceitful pleasures of sin. We all could probably do a better job of this. It is an important job that each of us have from the Lord. We also need to make a commitment to be assembling with the saints on the Lord’s Day. We need to make that commitment for our own sakes as a way of strengthening our own hearts, and we need to make that commitment for our brothers and sisters. We need to encourage one another! And not just on the Lord’s Day, but every day!

Sin is deceitful. Sin hardens. Sin destroys. Would you reach out to someone today to encourage their heart? Would you reach out to give encouragement to your brethren throughout the week? Let’s strive to help one another in this way.

—Scott Colvin


Jesus, the Only Way

July 26, 2022

We live in a world filled with religious confusion. How many times have you heard someone say something like this: “I believe we’re all going to heaven; we’re just taking different paths to get there.” Or maybe you have heard something like this: “I believe all of the world’s religions are filled with truth and that they all lead people to God.” As commonplace as these statements are, it is even more common for people to have thoughts like this: “I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but I’m basically a good person, and I think God will accept me in the end!” Or, “I think the good things I have done will outweigh the bad things!”

These kinds of statements sound religious and can bring people a sense of comfort about death and the afterlife. Sometimes we in the church can even start thinking along these lines. But of course, just because something sounds good and is accepted by most people, that doesn’t mean that it is true! We need to remind ourselves what God has said. His word is the source of what is true and what is real.

In John chapter 14, Jesus is preparing his disciples for his imminent death, resurrection, and ascension back to the Father. He assures them that He is going to prepare a place for them, that He will receive them to Himself, and that they know the way where He is going. “Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’” (John 14:5-6 NASB) Listen carefully to the words of Jesus. No one comes to the Father but through Jesus! Jesus is the only way! There are not many paths to God provided through various world religions. There is only one way to God, and that way is through Jesus. There is no path to God that comes from “being a pretty good person.” The only path is through Jesus, not through trying to establish our own righteousness.

No one will come to the Father except through Jesus Christ. No one! We need to know and understand this fact for our own sake, and for the sake of our loved ones, friends, and acquaintances in the world. Because He is the only way, we need to be clinging to Jesus with all our might! Because He is the only way, we need to be sharing the truth about Jesus with as many as we can. Jesus Christ will take us to the Father. May God help us to know and believe this truth.

—Scott Colvin


A Higher Plane

July 19, 2022

Is there a dramatic difference between you and those in the world?  It is easy to profess the Christian life.  The question is, are you living the Christian life?  The life that God calls us to is radically different.  He calls us to holiness.  He calls us to be led by the Spirit, not by our natural impulses.  He calls us to walk in His love.  Knowing God—having a relationship with Him—will have a profound impact on us and will most certainly be shown in the way that we live.

Jesus said, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them.  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”  (Luke 6:31-36 NASB).  It is natural and common to love those who love you back.  But here is the test:  are you willing to love those who hate you?  When someone is unkind to you, will you treat them with kindness?  When someone speaks evil of you, will you give them a blessing?  Are you willing to do good for those who will never care and never say thank you?  Are you willing to give to those who can never pay you back?

You see, God is calling us to a higher plane!  To live in this way is not natural, but God is trying to get us to move away from what comes naturally to us!  He wants us to be like Him!  God loves His enemies.  God does good to those who do not care and to those who can never pay Him back.  God is merciful and kind.  He clearly demonstrated all of this when He sent His Son to die for us.  When we live like God, it shows that we are truly born of Him.  When we love like God, it shows that we are His children in reality—not just in empty words. 

May the Lord help us to truly live on a higher plane with Him, and thereby prove that we are His children.

—Scott Colvin


Love in Marriage

July 12, 2022

I’ve frequently heard 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 read at a wedding ceremony. Paul’s ode to love is beautiful and appropriate for the occasion. But there is something to notice about Paul’s definitions of love. They are actions and not feelings. This passage contains things we do and don’t do to fulfill love. This kind of love can be commanded. This kind of love is a matter of the choice of will. When we think of romantic love, we often are thinking about an emotional high which we feel towards our loved one. This emotion seems quite involuntary. Paul’s teaching about love is different from this.

Now I am all for romantic love. I suspect that Jacob had romantic love for Rachel, or he wouldn’t have worked another seven years for her. And the Song of Solomon definitely seems to be love poetry. But we need wisdom as we deal with it.

Scientists have even studied romantic love. Researchers from the University of Pavia found that the powerful emotions of new love are triggered by a molecule known as nerve growth factor (NGF). But after one year, the couples who have stayed together find their levels of NGF dropping down to the same level as singles and couples in a long-term relationship. This chemistry may be important to bonding two people together, but this emotional high does not last. Although researchers can now point to a particular molecule, the wise have always known this truth from human experience.

Marriage has its ups and downs: children, illnesses, and stress. The reality of life means our feelings of love for our spouse may also ebb and flow. We need the commanded love of 1 Corinthians to sustain romantic love. Marriage is a covenant—the vows say how you promise to treat one another, not necessarily how you will always feel. These feelings of love may also ebb and flow. The vows call on you to place your actions before feelings—to allow your actions to deepen and at times even rekindle your feelings. That’s why Paul’s teaching on love is so important. He places the emphasis on right actions. This kind of love seeks the best for the beloved.

Love sums up and encompasses every other virtue. To treat with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness is to love. Love boldly acts with the other’s best interest at heart. Love is the fulfillment of the law. Love encompasses all the virtues. This kind of love seeks the best for the other. This is the love that can fulfill vows which say for better or for worse until death do us part.


Love, the Driver of Obedience

July 5, 2022

Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 NASB) There is a deep connection between our love for Jesus and our obedience to Him.  These powerful words of Jesus are simply stated, but I don’t think I have always understood them properly.

In the past, in my mind, I basically flipped the statement around to say, “If I keep His commandments, then I will really prove that I love Him.”  In other words, I believed that commandment keeping was the way in which I could show my love for Jesus. Or, with a slightly different nuance, one might say love and obedience are the same thing.  I’m not saying that these thoughts are wrong or unbiblical (see for example 1 John 5:3), but I don’t think they capture what Jesus was saying in John 14:15.

I believe Jesus was saying that love is the driver of obedience.  Love for Jesus is the force that motivates our obedience to Jesus.  If we love Him, keeping His commandments will follow as a natural consequence of that love. 

What does it mean, then, to love Jesus?  It means to cherish Him, to delight in Him, to take immense pleasure in Him, and to have great satisfaction in Him.  When is the last time you just took time to marvel at Jesus and delight in Him?  When is the last time you took time to praise and adore Him for everything He is, everything He has done, and everything He is doing now?  When is the last time you have expressed your love to Him without any other agenda in your mind?  As our love for Jesus grows, our desire to keep His commandments will grow.  Why?  Because we will want to please the One we love.  We will want to be near to Him and be like Him. When we love Him, keeping His commandments will not be a burden, but love in action.

And this love is not a one-way street.  He loves us, too!  Of course, He loves all mankind, but He loves His disciples in a very special way.  As Jesus says later in the same passage, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” (John 14:21 NASB)

Not only will the Father and Son love us, but Jesus promises to disclose Himself to us.  What a blessed thought!  May our love for Jesus be ever growing.     

—Scott Colvin


Acknowledging Sin

June 28, 2022

Have you ever been engaged in sin but refused to admit it to yourself or to God?  We sometimes rationalize our sin, or make excuses for it, or pretend that it’s not a big deal.  This is a very dangerous game.  Unacknowledged, unforgiven sin in our lives will lead to feelings of guilt.  Unresolved guilt is a powerful force that can have a devastating effect on your life.

Listen to the experience of David when he refused to acknowledge his sin.  “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.” (Psalm 32:3-4 NASB) What did David experience when he kept silent about his sin?  He suffered severe physical and emotional consequences.  The Lord’s hand was pressing heavily upon him, and it was causing his body to waste away and become weak.  It was causing him to groan all day long.  I am convinced that the Lord pressed His hand down upon David out of love for his soul—to try to get his attention and to get him to confess his sins and turn away from them before it was too late. 

It is interesting to note how sin can also have such a profound effect on our bodies.  Of course, it would be incorrect to think that anytime we have physical ailments it is because we have sinned.  This is clearly not true.  But if we are practicing sin and refusing to acknowledge it to the Lord, physical and emotional anguish can certainly come as a result.

What do we need to do?  Instead of justifying, excusing, or hiding our sin, we need to admit it to God.  We need to come to Him and confess our wrongdoing.  Sometimes this is not easy, but it will bring peace and joy back into our lives.  It will be a great relief to us.  As David says, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’; and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5 NASB)

Let us confess our sins to God and rejoice in the fact that they are covered by the blood of Jesus our Lord.

—Scott Colvin


Fellowship with Jesus

June 21, 2022

 “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9, NASB) You and I have been called by God into fellowship with Jesus.  What a staggering statement!  Having fellowship with Jesus means that we can enjoy a close relationship with Him.  It means that we share in His life, His light, His nature, and His glory.  We cannot obtain this fellowship by our own means or our own goodness.  It took God to call us into this relationship with His Son.  He called us by His grace through the cross of Christ.

This truth—that we have fellowship with Jesus—should have a profound impact on our lives. 

It should change the way that we think of ourselves.  We know we are sinful people who fall well short of God’s holy standard.  And yet, despite our weakness and struggles with sin, we have fellowship with Jesus.  If we continue to walk in the light, that fellowship with Him continues unbroken.  And because of our fellowship with Jesus, God looks at us with deep love and compassion, as a father looks upon his children.  Because of our fellowship with Jesus, He will remember our sins no more.  Because of our fellowship with Jesus, we can rightfully think of ourselves as right with God—and this changes everything!  What joy and peace we can have, what freedom, what confidence we can have before God if we could just understand that we have fellowship with Him.

An understanding of our fellowship with Jesus should cause us to want to live for Him.  It should cause us to gladly flee from sin.  It should cause us to abhor what is evil and cling to what is good because we don’t want anything destroying that sweet fellowship.

An understanding of our fellowship with Jesus will show itself as an eagerness to maintain our fellowship with one another.  Our fellowship with each other is a result of our fellowship with Him, and to willfully destroy fellowship with a brother or sister is to destroy our fellowship with Jesus.  Therefore, I will never promote divisions, factions, loveless attitudes, or bitterness among the Lord’s people.

You have been called by God into fellowship with Jesus Christ!  May this precious truth permeate every aspect of our lives!

—Scott Colvin


Keep Seeking, Keep Pursuing

June 13, 2022

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of
God.” (Colossians 3:1, NASB) When you and I were baptized into Jesus, we were raised up with Him. We were raised with Him to a new life. We became a new creation. We were made alive again. Haven’t we been blessed beyond measure in Christ?

Since all of this is true, what shall we do now? The verse above makes it clear. Keep seeking the things above! Keep on moving forward in His ways. Keep on striving to know Him more deeply. Keep on pursuing holiness in your life. We must never stop pursuing God. We must never think that we have arrived or that we have grown as much as we need to grow. We must never become complacent or stagnate in our walk with Him. God wants us to keep seeking Him with all our heart.

I am encouraged by these words of Paul concerning our ongoing pursuit of God: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1 NASB) Notice that he did not say “having perfected holiness”, but “perfecting holiness.” This carries the idea of pursuit, of continual striving, of growth over time. Perfecting holiness requires that we don’t get discouraged and quit in our struggles against sin. It requires that when we fall short, we confess our sins to Him, ask for His forgiveness, get up, and continue to pursue holiness, trusting in His promise to keep us continually cleansed by the blood of Christ.

God knows we’re all sinners. He knows we fall short. But He expects us to keep seeking and to keep perfecting. Don’t ever give up the pursuit!

—Scott Colvin