Arson

“How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness . . . set on fire by hell.” (James 3:5-6)

The wicked tongue of a stranger
pierces my unprotected heart.
His senseless vain remarks
are set aflame by hell.

Today the world can see and hear
what used to be so private.
Bold and brash they are because
they are anonymous.

They’re like the arsonist who sets
the sleepy town ablaze.
The fire is there for all to see,
but not the enemy.

And that’s the state our world is in;
the very air’s unsafe.
The fires are burning all around
while demons run amok.

Copyright 2020 | Dennis M. Cortes | All rights reserved.

Photo by Dawn Armfield on Unsplash

What Does Humility Look Like?

Philippians 2:5-11

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Continue reading “What Does Humility Look Like?”

Christian Unity

Philippians 2:1–4

[1] So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, [2] complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. [3] Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. [4] Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (ESV)

INTRODUCTION:

If we really want to advance the gospel, we must be united (Phil. 1:5). Division harms the body of Christ and hinders the gospel (1 Cor. 3:3). However, unity cannot be imposed from the outside; it must come from within. That is why Paul appeals to the heart.

1. MOTIVES TO UNITY

A) Consolation in Christ (John 17:21)
B) Comfort of love (John 13:34-35)
C) Fellowship of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13)
D) Affection and Mercy (Luke 6:36)
E) The joy of our ministers

2. MEANS TO UNITY

A) We have to renew our minds. Unity of mind, purpose, and love. (Rom. 12:2; Amos 3:3) Renewal of the mind leads to transformation of life. We all have to become spiritually minded if we are to be united in love and purpose (1 Cor. 2:14-3:3).

B) We have to avoid selfish ambition. Jesus Christ himself did not hang on to his privileges as God, but humbled himself. He was born in a manger, he worked as a humble carpenter, he ministered as an itinerant preacher who was dependent on others for support (Luke 8:1-3), and he died on a cross intended for criminals.

C) We have to consider others better than ourselves. Jesus himself – the Master! – washed his disciples’ feet.

D) We have to be interested in other people’s concerns. Such was Jesus. He was interested in all kinds of people.

APPLICATION

  1. In what ways have I been selfish recently?
  2. What steps should I take in order to become more interested in others rather than just in myself?

PRAYER

Lord, please forgive me for the many times I’ve been selfish and divisive. Help me to love people, especially my fellow Christians, and to be interested in them. Amen

(Photo by Wylly Suhendra on Unsplash)

Songwriter

I force myself to write a song;
I find it hard to write.
What will it take to make it strong?
I strive with all my might.

And even if there’s no one else
To listen to my song,
I’d never give up on my gift.
To do so would be wrong.

Success is not the only goal
That one can have in life.
At least, I’ve made the effort;
At least, at least, I’ve tried.

And when my days have quickly passed,
And I have no more voice,
I’ll still feel gladness at the last,
Although my eyes are moist.

Copyright 2020 Dennis Cortes

Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash

Rain

Believe the raindrops from above;
There is a Providence that cares.
Lovingkindness watches o’er us,
Watering plants and trees and grass.

The earth drinks in the pouring rain;
The skies are happy to oblige.
The gifts of heaven, daily given,
Are free. Receive – and more besides!

2020 Copyright Dennis Cortes

Photo by Geetanjal Khanna on Unsplash

Temptation

I totter on the steep cliff’s edge.
The roaring waves like music
Beckon to me: “Hurl thyself
Onto the waiting rocks!”

Ne’er have Jaws been so alluring;
Flames leap up the watery pit.
Devils’ heartbeats are expecting:
”Come on down! Come, lift thy feet!”

(I think it’s a good idea to write a poem every time I write a devotional. That way I get to hit two birds with one stone. I also think it would be a good idea to sometimes explain what I’ve written. For example, the poem above is not an encouragement to end one’s life. It’s a picture of temptation. I wanted to capture horrific aspects of temptation: seduction, destruction, enticement, hellishness, etc. It’s serious and demonic and not something to treat lightly. And yes, giving in to temptation is akin to suicide.)

Photo by Lane Smith on Unsplash

Copyright Dennis Cortes 2020

Something in my hand

I carry something in my hand
as heavy as this big round world:
A book so full of heavenly wisdom,
more precious than perishable gold.

An explanation is in order: I’m now applying Atomic Habits to my blogging. Since it’s so difficult for me to get started writing a poem nowadays, I decided to write just one stanza a week. At least I get to write something. Better than nothing.

Copyright Dennis Cortes 2020

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

TEXT:

Matthew 6:13

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

INTRODUCTION

Sin is the Christian’s greatest grief. Christians can still sin and this happens when we succumb to temptation. Temptation isn’t sin, but giving in to temptation is. We need to be prepared for temptation when it strikes. We should prepare ahead of time how we may avoid it.

EXPLANATION

Temptation is common to man (1 Cor. 10:13). It is part of human experience. Christians are not exempt from temptation. Even the Lord Jesus Christ himself was tempted in the wilderness.

God is not the author of temptation (James 1:13, 15), but he is the governor of it. He does not directly tempt anyone, but he does allow it in accordance with his own wise and good purposes. Thus, he allowed Satan to sift Peter like wheat (Luke 22:31-32). And Joseph could say to his brothers who did a lot of evil towards him, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

We need God’s help to avoid and overcome temptation (Hebrews 2:18). We can’t do in in our own strength.

But although God provides the strength and the wisdom, we are to also exercise responsibility in the matter. We are to watch and pray that we may not enter into temptation (Matthew 26:41). And we are to resist the devil, so that he may flee from us (James 4:7). We should also plan ahead to avoid circumstances that unnecessarily expose us to temptations. Ironically, we sometimes tempt the devil to tempt us!

APPLICATION

Do we regularly pray to be preserved from temptation and delivered from the evil one?

Photo by Nick Coleman on Unsplash

For me to live is Christ

TEXT:

Philippians 1:19-30

INTRODUCTION:

Probably the most important question in life is: What is the meaning of my life? How should I live my life? Paul answers this question in a very straightforward manner: To live is Christ. And why not? After all, he gave his life for us!

2 Corinthians 5:15 ESV
[15] and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Philippians 1:20
as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

Continue reading “For me to live is Christ”