Monday, June 30, 2014

Spiritual work out...Philippians 2:12-13

Philippians 2:12–13 presents a good cause for our cooperating with the Lord's leading:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

These verses highlight three specifics: There's a willingness to obey. There's the need to "work out" or give ourselves to doing our part with a sensitive spirit (fear and trembling). And then there's the promise that God will "work in you" to accomplish His plan. As we remain alert to His working, paying close attention to doors He opens and closes, He directs us into His will.

Closed doors are just as much God's leading as open ones. The believer who wants to do God's will must remain sensitive and cooperative, not forcing his or her way into areas that God closes off. The Lord uses circumstances and expects us to "read" them with a sensitive, alert conscience.

We must stop and check His Word. We must look around and within. And there is one more helpful piece of advice to remember. We must . . .

3. Listen to the Counsel 
of Qualified People

Solomon the wise once wrote:

A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, 
But a man of understanding draws it out. (Proverbs 20:5)

Iron sharpens iron, 
So one man sharpens another. . . .

As in water face reflects face, 
So the heart of man reflects man. (Proverbs 27:17, 19)

Like a quarterback, facing fourth-and-one on the thirty-yard line, who calls a time-out to consult with the coach, so must we. God uses others to help us know His desires.

God makes His will known: (1) through His Word . . . as we stop and study it, (2) through circumstances . . . as we look within and sense what He is saying, and (3) through the counsel of others . . . as we listen carefully. 

 The better we know God’s Word, the more clearly we will know His will for us.

author unknown

God Cannot Lie...Titus 1:2

“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” - Titus 1:2

We speak of the Bible as inerrant and infallible. But is it really important that we believe that the Word of God is true and perfect?

Yes. If any part of His Word is not true, then we must conclude that God is a liar. But God cannot lie! Every word in the Bible can be relied upon. Billy Graham came to this conclusion in the early years of his ministry and prayed, “I have seen enough of the transforming power of this Word to know that You are behind it…. I take it by faith…and trust You to make clear to me what it means.”

F. B. Myer, one of the greatest devotional writers of all time, said if any promise of God should fail, “the heavens will clothe themselves in sackcloth, and the sun and moon and stars will reel from their seats, the universe will rock, and a hollow wind moan through creation, bearing the tidings that God is mutable, that God can lie.”

A God of truth cannot inspire untruth. Praise God for His absolute trustworthiness.

Author unknown

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Lead by Grace...Deut 32:10

“He led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.” - Deut 32:10

“He led them about.” This was true literally. What a circuitous, tangled, backward and forward route was that of the children of Israel in the wilderness! Yet every step was under God’s direction; they never moved until the cloudy pillar led the way.

But how does the Lord lead about in grace? By leading his Israel into a path of which they do not see the end. One turn of the road hides the next. I have read that you may make a road with a curve at every quarter of a mile, and yet in a hundred miles the distance will not be so much as a mile more than a perfectly straight line. So in grace. The length of the road swallows up the turnings.

But these turnings make the road seem more round about than it really is. All before us is hidden. For instance, when the Lord begins a work of grace, he brings convictions of sin, opens up the spirituality of the law, makes the soul feel guilty, guilty, guilty in every thought, word, and deed. But does a man in that condition know what the Lord is doing? Can he clearly trace out the work of God upon his soul? Is he able to say, “This, this is the work of God upon my heart?” For the most part, he knows not what is the matter with him; why he is so distressed; why he can take no rest; why the things of eternity keep rolling in upon his soul; why he stands in continual dread of the wrath to come; why his mind is so exercised with thoughts upon God; why he feels condemnation, bondage, and misery.

Nor even when the Lord is pleased to raise him up to some hope, to apply some sweet promise to his soul, to encourage him in various ways under the ministry of the word, can he often take the full comfort of it. He may for a time, but it is soon gone, and he can scarcely believe it to be real. Unbelief suggests that it did not come exactly in the right way, or did not last long enough, or did not go deep enough, or was not just such as he has heard others speak of; and so he is filled with doubts, fears, and anxieties whether it was really from the Lord. But when God leads him on a step further; opens up the gospel, reveals Christ, drops into his heart some sweet testimony, gives him some blessed discovery of his saving interest in the Lord Jesus, and seals it with a divine witness in his heart, this banishes all his doubts and fears, and fills his soul with joy and peace. Yet even after this, when the sweet feeling is gone, he may sink again very low, and may question the reality of the revelation he has enjoyed. All this is “leading about;” for one turn of the road hides the other.

Source: Daily Blessings

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Gifts for the Kingdom...1 Corinthians 12:4-7

1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Many people hear the word "serve" and feel that they do not have the necessary qualities to make a difference in others' lives. This is true--apart from God. But He has gifted each of us in unique ways with a purpose in mind. His plan for us involves using these talents to serve Him for the good of others.

Satan would like us to believe otherwise. Our Enemy wants us to notice what others are doing and then to feel inferior. For instance, I have heard women say, "I am just a homemaker." They see people preaching and singing in the choir and wish they could accomplish something so great for God. Friends, there could be nothing further from the truth. An enormous responsibility rests with those who train their children in righteousness.

In fact, the Holy Spirit has gifted each believer for specific work in God's kingdom. Scripture explains this idea by a comparison with a human body: each person has gifts and purposes that make the entire system function well. But if the heel wants the eye's role, the whole being will lose balance.

Each part is crucial, even though some are less noticeable than others. Truthfully, those with less apparent talents have an advantage because pride and self-sufficiency may be less of a temptation.

Notice how Peter defined himself: "a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 1:1). He was no longer a man motivated by self-interest. Once He followed Jesus, he saw himself as a servant of God. We, too, are called to serve the King of Kings with whatever abilities we are given.

Author unknown

Friday, June 27, 2014

Hear His Word...Romans 10:17

Genesis 3; Acts 5:22-42

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. - Romans 10:17

The Bible is clear in its teachings on faith. Faith is essential to our salvation. If we do not have faith to believe in Jesus Christ, then we cannot receive Him as Savior. It takes faith to believe in God. Believing in God through our faith is the victory that has overcome the world (1 John 5:4). Jesus says in Matthew 17:20 that with faith we can move mountains and that nothing will be impossible for us. The power of God's Holy Spirit lives within each believer; but do we live as if we believe it? Not without faith.

How do we get more faith? First of all, faith is given to each of us as a gift. Everyone has faith. But we can have more faith in the things of the world than in the things of God. We have faith that the sun will rise and set each day, even though we have no way of controlling its movements; we just trust that it will continue to work the way it always has. But we need to grow in trusting the One who makes the sun rise and set, the One who put it there in the first place. Therefore, our first step in gaining more faith is by getting to know more about our God, our Lord, our Creator. And the way to obtain knowledge of God is by getting into His word.

I love today's verse because it tells us to hear the word of God. Did you know that when you start reading His Word, you will start hearing His voice? When you start hearing His voice through His Word, then you will see His intervention in all areas of your life. You will pray in accordance with His will because you will know where He is leading you. You will see God answer your prayers. And the end result: more faith! Take a moment to ask the Lord to help you in your faith by helping you hear His Word. Ask for more of Him, more of His Word in your life—more faith.

Author unknown

Thursday, June 26, 2014

God's Grace...Romans 5:1-5

Romans 5:1-5

Grace is one of God's most amazing gifts. It provides us with everything we need to live in perfect freedom: pardon for our sins, healing for our hearts, the companionship of God's indwelling Holy Spirit, and access to freely cultivate our relationship with Him. We work, worship, and enjoy life surrounded by His unconditional love. His grace upholds us, fills us, and sustains us.

Since we are forgiven people, the Lord responds to us not as enemies but as His dearly loved children (Rom. 8:15; Eph. 5:1). He hears our prayers, speaks to us, and acts on our behalf.

The knowledge that we live under the covering of God's grace gives us...

Security about our position. No one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28).

Boldness to live for Christ. Nothing anyone does or says can shake our confidence in who the Lord is or who we are in Him.

Peace for today because we can fully trust in His sovereignty. The Lord is carrying out His perfect will--and we can be sure that nothing is able to thwart His plans when we cooperate with Him.

Hope for the future. This life is just the beginning. One day we'll see Jesus face to face, be perfected as the individuals He created us to be, and live with Him in our true home forever.

The Lord is committed to transforming each of us according to His special plan for our lives. Even His correction is an expression of His loving favor (Heb. 12:10). When we falter or fail, we can rest assured that His amazing grace hems us in and always offers us redemption.

Author unknown

Monday, June 23, 2014

Free Offer...Romans 3:10-18

Romans 3:10–18

It doesn't take a Ph.D. in English Literature to observe that God offers us a gift in salvation. The gift is eternal life, which is directly connected to His Son.

Now let's be clear and cautious. Becoming a member of a church is not the way to salvation—just believing in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Neither does God require a long list of heavy-duty accomplishments. Nor vast sums of money. God is coming to the rescue of those who are lost by offering the free gift of eternal life to those who will simply believe. Those who do may know they have been rescued.

"But it seems too easy," you say. "Something as vital as eternal salvation seems far more valuable than that." Don't misunderstand. It is valuable . . . the most priceless possession one can have. But because we don't have to work for it or pay for it does not mean it's cheap or that nobody paid a handsome price. Someone did. His name? Jesus. Perhaps you already forgot that this gift of salvation is directly connected to God's Son, Christ Himself. Because He paid the full price, because He opened the way for us, we are able to take it as a gift.

It's funny, but most of us are suspicious of free gifts. "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch" is more than a line out of a comedian's script. We have too much skepticism (or pride) to believe we can get something for nothing. So it's understandable that we'd be reluctant to accept a gift as important as eternal salvation if it has the appearance of a "free lunch," right?

In all honesty, to say that God's rescue offer costs nobody anything is misleading. It costs us nothing today, but it cost His Son's life. That's the part we forget about.

When sin first reared its ugly head on earth, the holy God of heaven could no longer enjoy a close relationship with the human race. And the longer mankind practiced his or her wicked ways, the wider the gap grew between man and God. This sin disease, contracted at birth and inescapably contagious, spread like wildfire from one generation to the next. With sin came death, as this verse of Scripture declares:

When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. His sin spread death throughout all the world, so everything began to grow old and die, for all sinned. (Romans 5:12 TLB)

Yes, everything. In fact, this universal sin disease impacted every part of our being. Hard as it may be to read these words, please do so:

As the Scriptures say, 'No one is good—no one in all the world is innocent.' No one has ever really followed God's paths, or even truly wanted to. Every one has turned away; all have gone wrong. No one anywhere has kept on doing what is right; not one. (Romans 3:10–18 TLB).

That's the way we are in God's sight. Being lost, we are in such a miserable spiritual condition that we have no hope of finding our way to Him on our own. Sin separates us from our Creator. His rightful requirement is that sin must be punished. Someone who is qualified must rescue mankind by satisfying God's wrath against sin. Someone must pay the awful price, dying as our substitute, taking our place and bearing our sin before God.

Jesus Christ did just that.

Don't simply believe my words . . . believe the words from the Bible:

For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God's goodness into us! (2 Corinthians 5:21 TLB)

We aren't saved from sin's grasp by knowing the commandments of God, because we can't and don't keep them, but God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent his own Son in a human body like ours—except that ours are sinful—and destroyed sin's control over us by giving himself as a sacrifice for our sins. (Romans 8:3 TLB)

For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life . . . . And all who trust him—God's Son—to save them have eternal life; those who don't believe and obey him shall never see heaven, but the wrath of God remains upon them. (John 3:16, 36 TLB)

Christ also suffered. He died once for the sins of all us guilty sinners, although he himself was innocent of any sin at any time, that he might bring us safely home to God. (1 Peter 3:18 TLB)

Yes, it certainly cost somebody something. I repeat, it cost Jesus Christ His life. But because He paid the price in full on our behalf, we are able to accept God's offer free and clear of any cost to us. The payment has been made. The ransom has been provided in full.

The only issue that remains is this: Will you accept the gift God offers you today? Now that the remedy for sin has been provided, all that remains is receiving it.

 Now that the remedy for sin has been provided all that remains is receiving it.

Author unknown

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Are you Lost?..1 John 5:11-13

1 John 5:11–13

Being lost is a terrifying experience. A person's head spins as panic creeps up, shouting threats like, "You'll never find your way!" or "It's impossible!" Fear clutches at you.

Several strange things are true about being lost. One is that we can think we really aren't when we are. Sincerity is no guarantee we're on the right road. Furthermore, we don't have to be alone to be lost. We can be surrounded by a lot of folks—even a large group of nice people—and be totally off track. Running faster doesn't help, either. Speed, like sincerity, is no friend to the bewildered.

We can't trust our feelings or our hunches to solve our dilemma. We need help from something or someone outside ourselves. A map. A person who knows the way. Whatever or whoever . . . we must have accurate assistance.

One of the terms the Bible uses to describe people who don't know God in a personal and meaningful manner is "lost." That doesn't necessarily mean they are immoral or lawless or bad neighbors or emotionally unstable or irresponsible or even unfriendly folks. Just lost. They may even feel good about themselves—confident, secure, enthusiastic . . . yet still lost. Physically active and healthy, yet spiritually off track. Sincerely deluded. Unconsciously moving through life and out of touch with the One who made them. Disconnected from the living God.

Take a close look at this statement I've copied from the old, reliable book of Proverbs in the Bible.

There is a way which seems right to a man,

But its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12)

Isn't that penetrating? The "way" a person is going through life may seem right. It may also have the approval and admiration of other rather influential individuals. But its end result is the ultimate dead-end street.

All this reminds me of a true yet tragic World War II story. The Lady-Be-Good was a bomber whose crew was a well-seasoned flight team, a group of intelligent and combat-ready airmen. After a successful bombing mission, they were returning to home base late one night. In front of the pilot and copilot was a panel of instruments and radar equipment they had to rely on to reach their final destination. They had made the flight many times before, so they knew about how long it took to return.

But this flight was different. Unaware of a strong tailwind that pushed the bomber much more rapidly through the night air than usual, the men in the cockpit looked in amazement at their instruments as they correctly signaled it was time to land.

The crew, however, refused to believe those accurate dials and gauges. Confident that they were still miles away from home, they kept flying and hoping, looking intently for those familiar lights below. The fuel supply was finally depleted. The big olive drab bomber never made it back. It was found deep in the desert many miles farther and many days later. Its fine crew had all perished, having overshot the field by a great distance . . . because they followed the promptings of their own feelings, which "seemed right" but proved wrong. Dead wrong.

What happened in the air back in the early 1940s is happening in principle every day on earth. There are good, sincere, well-meaning, intelligent people traveling on a collision course with death, yet totally unaware of their destiny. That's why we read that Jesus, God's great Son, came "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). His coming to earth was God's seek-and-save mission designed to help those who are lost find the right way home.

That needs some explanation.

Think of the Bible as the absolutely reliable instrument panel designed to get people (and to keep people) on the right track. We won't be confused if we believe its signals and respond to its directions, even though we may not "feel" in agreement at times. In this Book we find a bold yet true statement:

God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:11–13)

 Read that again, this time a little more slowly and, if possible, aloud.

Take this truth to heart. Are you lost?

by Charles R. Swindoll

Friday, June 20, 2014

Change your Routine...Genesis 2:1-3

Genesis 2:1–3

Following the sixth day of creation, the Lord God deliberately stopped working. He rested. It wasn't that there was nothing else He could have done. It certainly wasn't because He was exhausted. Omnipotence never gets tired! He hadn't run out of ideas, for omniscience knows no mental limitations. He could easily have made more worlds, created an infinite number of other forms of life, and provided multiple millions of galaxies beyond what He did.

But He didn't. He stopped.

He spent an entire day resting. In fact, He "blessed the seventh day and sanctified it," something He did not do on the other six days. He marked this one day off as extremely special. Like none other. Sounds to me like He made the day on which He rested a "priority" period of time.

If we intend to "be imitators of God," as Ephesians 5:1 suggests, we, too, will need to make rest a priority.

A good night's rest on a regular basis

A full day's rest at least once a week

Moments of rest snatched here and there during the week

Vacation times of rest for the refreshment and repair of both body and soul

A release from the fierce grip of intense stress brought on by daily hassles

Tell me, why do we have such a hard time with this? I'd like to suggest that several things contribute to our lack of inner rest:

Failure to give play, fun, rest, and leisure a proper place of dignity.

Our strong tendency to compete and compare, leading to a wholesale dissatisfaction with things as they are.

Our preoccupation with always wanting more and self-imposed guilt . . . unrealistic expectations.

Our long-time "heredity habit" of the all-work-and-no-play-will-make-me-happy philosophy of life.

The result? Look around. Stretched across the faces of most Americans driving to and from work is boredom. Not fulfillment. Not a deep sense of satisfaction. Not even a smile of quiet contentment.

Even though our work-week is decreasing and our weekend time is increasing, our country lacks inner peace. External leisure does not guarantee internal rest, does it?

Sure, we have more time on our hands. But meaningful "rest" in the biblical sense of the term? No way!

I suggest you and I do more than wag our heads at the problem. That helps nobody! Our greatest contribution to the answer is a radical break with the rut of normal living.

Change your routine, my friend. Blow the dust of boredom off your schedule. Shake yourself loose and get a taste of fresh life. Need several suggestions to add "zip" to your leisure?

Begin jogging and/or an exercise program.

Get a CD of your favorite music or your MP3 player and lie down flat on your back, drinking in the sounds.

Start writing letters of encouragement to people you appreciate.

Dig around in the soil, plant a small garden, and watch God cooperate with your efforts.

By the way, don't miss those sunrises and sunsets, or the smells along with the sights.

Broaden your world. Kick away the thick, brick walls of tradition. Silence the old enemy Guilt, who will sing his same old tune in your ears. And work on that deep crease between your eyes. Look for things to laugh at . . . and laugh out loud. It's biblical! "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones" (Proverbs 17:22).

Author unknown

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Learn from Him...Nehemiah 7

Nehemiah 7; Acts 3

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Psalm 32:8-9

We have all we need when we truly understand what God has provided for us through His Holy Spirit. Many times we run to our families, friends and counselors for instruction or guidance. Many times we search horizontally for guidance when the Lord in His mercy and grace has told us to come to Him. By learning from Him, we can avoid a lot of unnecessary hurts, sins and problems.

There was a long period of time when my mother and I were inseparable. We spent our days together and truly enjoyed each other’s fellowship. One day, the Lord spoke so clearly to me that He desired to change the relationship. We have similar gifts and callings, and His desire was for us to minister to others, not just to each other. Instead of trusting the Lord, I told Him that I couldn’t do it and He would have to do it. Two years later, the Lord did intervene and our relationship changed. Both of us were very hurt and both of us needed to cling to the Lord each day to learn a new way of life. In the midst of that change, the Lord gave me this verse to hold on to. I knew that I would need counsel and instruction. I did not want to run to a new friend to fill the void and I did not want to sin against the Lord during this time of very uncomfortable change because I had known this was His will for years.

The Lord did do a new work in both of us. She and I are in separate ministries, teaching the gospel of Christ. God had His way. We both struggled to let each other go, but in the depths of our hearts we have seen good fruit, eternal fruit, by submitting to God. If you are struggling with a relationship of which you know God is speaking to you about, trust Him. Come to Him for instruction and counsel. He will give you the desires of your heart if you truly turn to Him. Change is scary but the Lord promises to watch over you, lead you and help you as you chose to come to Him. He will fill that void. In His council, you will receive peace and in time, He will give you understanding.

Author unknown

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Got Wisdom?...Proverbs 10:9-17

Proverbs 10:9-17

"The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out." (v.9)

We turn now to look at what I consider to be the second pillar of wisdom - integrity. This theme, like trust, is one that is continually emphasised in Proverbs for, as we shall see, no one can be truly successful in life without integrity. The dictionary defines integrity as: "wholeness, soundness, trustworthiness, uprightness, honesty." You can see at once that there is a moral quantity about integrity and that morality is an essential characteristic of wisdom. One of the mistakes many people make when thinking about wisdom is to confuse it with learning, intelligence, brilliance or cleverness. How many times do we read in our newspapers of those who have climbed the ladder of success, have been highly educated or have achieved great prominence in the world, only to see them come tumbling down because of some moral indiscretion? Many professional people have a great deal of knowledge but lack wisdom. For example, you see this in the marriage counselor who, in spite of all his credentials, can't hold his own marriage together; in the economist who goes bankrupt playing the stock market; in the preacher who shocks his congregation by running off with a young woman. Learning, understanding, intelligence and professional training are important - dont hear me demean them - but if we are to be experts in the art of living, as Proverbs sets out to teach us, then we must see that without wisdom the things I have listed don't count for too much. "The simplicity of integrity is the profundity of wisdom," says Paul Larsen. How true! How very true!

Author unknown

Monday, June 16, 2014

God's in Charge...1 Samuel 9:4

So he passed through the mountains of Ephraim and through the land of Shalisha, but they did not find them. Then they passed through the land of Shaalim, and they were not there. Then he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they did not find them.

1 Samuel 9:4

Saul and his servant were going throughout the land looking for his father’s donkeys. How far could they have gone? They could have been around the corner. It was not about the donkeys; God was in charge of the situation, and He was leading them to exactly the place He needed him to be. God was in charge.

I think they were a little frustrated, because they could not find the donkeys, but again it was God’s plan. He was leading and guiding them to the perfect place to meet Samuel. It was all God’s doing. He told the people He would give them a king from the tribe of Benjamin, and He was going to bring it to pass.

Just like Saul, sometimes, we cannot figure out why we are going through something or why there is a delay and yet, it is all God’s timing. Sometimes, we think God is punishing us or He hates us, because we are in a difficult situation.

That is not the case. God loves us and His plans for us are greater than anything we could ever imagine. We have to trust in Him and be open to His plans and His timing, or we will miss out on the great blessings He has for us. Remember Jeremiah 29:11, God promises us a future and a hope.

Author unknown

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Relax!...Matthew 6:25

Matthew 6:25

Today's devotional has one primary objective: to help you enjoy yourself, your life, and your Lord more . . . without feeling guilty or unspiritual. Yes, enjoy!

In our work-worshiping society, that is no small task. Many have cultivated such an unrealistic standard of high-level achievement that a neurotic compulsion to perform, to produce, to accomplish the maximum is now the rule rather than the exception. Enough is no longer enough.

Christians are not immune from stress fractures, especially vocational Christian workers. How many pastors or missionaries do you know who truly enjoy guilt-free leisure? How many Christian executives can you name who really take sufficient time to relax? On the other hand, how often have you heard someone boast about not having taken a vacation in several years? Or being too busy to have time to rest and repair?

Work is fast becoming the American Christian's major source of identity. The answer to most of our problems (we are told) is "work harder." And to add the ultimate pressure, "You aren't really serving the Lord unless you consistently push yourself to the point of fatigue." It's the old burn-out-rather-than-rust-out line. Let's go with a different rationale: not only, "It's okay to relax," but also, "It's essential!" Without encouraging an irresponsible mentality, it says, "You can have fun and still be efficient." In fact, you will be more efficient!

Join me in this prayer to start our new commitment:

Lord, our God,

Our world has become too small, too routine, too grim. We are enduring the scenery instead of enjoying it. We really take ourselves too seriously . . . and our stress continues to multiply.

We desire change . . . a cure from this terminal illness of dullness and routine.

You have made us whole people who are free to think and relax in leisure, not slaves chained to a schedule. Enable us to break loose! Show us ways to do that. Give us the courage to start today and the hope we need to stay fresh tomorrow . . . and the next day, and the next.

Bring the child out from within us. Introduce us again to the sounds and smells and sights of this beautiful world you wrapped around us. Convince us of the importance of friendships and laughter and wonder. Put our world back together.

May we become people like Your Son, committed to the highest standard of excellence and devotion to Your will, yet easy to live with and at peace within.

In His strong name we pray,


Happy Fathers Day!

Author unknown

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Defiance...Proverbs 5:21-23

Proverbs 5:21–23

Talk about going from bad to worse. Defiance is the classic illustration. First, defiance begins with carnal attitudes. Long before there are carnal actions, there are carnal attitudes. It can happen to adults just as quickly as it can to teens or kids. Perhaps it would help if I spelled out a few of the attitudes by describing some actual thoughts in the minds of the defiant.

The first thought says: "I want my own way." Those who are defiant aren't interested in your way, or God's way. "I want my way." That is an attitude of selfishness.

The second thought says this: "I won't quit until I get it." That is an attitude of stubbornness. "I want my way, and I want it when I want it. I will not quit until I get it." That's just plain obstinacy; that's stubbornness.

Third: "I don't care who it hurts." In other words, "I want my way. I won't quit until I get it, and I don't care who it hurts—husband, wife, peers, parents, kids, the team, my church—I don't care. I'm gonna get my way." That is an attitude of indifference.

Fourth: "I refuse to listen to counsel." Obviously, that is an attitude of resistance. "I know God has something to tell me, but I don't want to hear what He's got to say." Or, "I know what He's going to tell me—I know what that Book says. I don't want to listen to God's counsel." That's resistance.

Fifth, and finally: "I am not concerned about the consequences." That's contempt. Pushed to the wall, this extreme reaction includes ignoring the consequences—a total lack of concern for the results.

"I want my own way. I won't quit until I get it. I don't care who it hurts. I will not listen to counsel. I am not concerned about the consequences." Those are the words of a defiant person. And they can come from our lips just as readily as from a person without Christ. They represent selfishness and stubbornness and indifference and resistance and contempt. As I mentioned earlier, defiance begins with carnal attitudes.

Continuing the downward spiral, the second inescapable reality about defiance is this: Defiance leads to personal misery. The defiant person wants freedom, but he finds himself captured. He wants his own way, but he finds himself ensnared by the restrictions that misery brings.

Look at Proverbs 13:15 and you'll see a pretty good illustration or statement of that kind of misery. I want to examine two particular terms:

Good understanding produces favor,

But the way of the treacherous is hard.

The word treacherous is translated from the Hebrew verb that means "to deal treacherously or defiantly." The way of one who deals in defiance is hard. Interesting term. It means "to be perpetual, steady, constant, ever enduring, rugged." The etymology of the term finally leads to "ruggedness." The way of the person who deals in defiant thoughts and actions is perpetually rugged, hard, and miserable. Defiance leads to personal misery.

There is a third stage on this downward spiral:

Defiance results in inescapable bondage. Those most defiant are most bound, not free.

For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD,

And He watches all his paths. (Proverbs 5:21)

That's quite a thought. But the next two verses complete the picture:

His own iniquities will capture the wicked,

And he will be held with the cords of his sin.

He will die for lack of instruction,

And in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.

Look at that! The "cords" from one's own defiance will wrap themselves around the victim and will cause him or her to be inescapably bound up. In the margin of my mind I have written "Samson," who was literally bound with the cords of his own sin—unconquered lust.

Frankly, I'm much more concerned about "acceptable" defiance than bold defiance. Why? Because that's what happens more often than not. We cover up. We hide our defiance. We sit on the lid. But, sure enough—given sufficient pressure—something eventually snaps.

Your defiance will come out in the most amazing ways: a battered child; a crime of passion; a blistering tongue-lashing; running away from home; an illicit pregnancy; an ugly, caustic line of profane words; an affair; domestic disharmony; a ruined testimony. I charge you before God to deal severely with this giant. It may be slumbering right now—but I warn you—not for long.

I would like you to think about your life for just a few moments. I'd like you to trace your actions and attitudes back a day or two, or maybe several weeks. Take a long, straightforward look at where you are. Are any signs of defiance there? "I want my own way. I won't quit till I get it. I don't care who it hurts. I refuse to listen to counsel. I'm not concerned about consequences."

My friend, those are dangerous words. If they are there in your head, you're on a powder keg that's going to explode. Your stress fracture will soon become a compound fracture. I ask you to find the hope of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. He is there, and He awaits your turning all that turmoil over to Him . . . that hot cauldron of resentment. The longer it boils, the more lethal it could become.

Don't rationalize and say, "Well, that's just the way I am." Call it what it is and say, "Lord, I come to You in my need. I need You to take it, take it now."

Author unknown

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Master Builder...2 Chronicles 30

2 Chronicles 30; John 18:1-18

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Corinthians 5:1

I had an opportunity to watch as the first side (panel) of a new building was put in place. The sides of the building were made of concrete and steel. I learned that the foundation of the building was laid first, then the sides were actually placed on top of the foundation. Each panel was engineered and laid out on the ground first, then lifted off the surface foundation and raised up on its side. To say the least, the size of the crane to do this kind of work was awesome. I was told that this particular crane could move up to 300 tons in one lift. The panels were massive in size and weight, but the crane seemed to move them about effortlessly. Within a few hours, the first outside walls of the building were affixed in their places.

As I looked upon this awesome structure, the Lord reminded me of Who made the materials that went into that building. The Lord of heaven and earth created all things and oversees all things that take place here on earth. I reflected on some basic truths about God and me in relation to Him. Buildings made with man's hands can and will be destroyed, regardless of their size and strength. Our physical bodies are to be considered buildings that house our souls and spirits; and they, too, can and will die at some point, regardless of how healthy we try to be. The only building that will remain is the one God builds–"a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." This is the building we should be the most concerned about.

How much time and energy do we put into our earthly buildings? Whether they are the buildings that house our souls or the buildings that house our bodies, we all live within some sort of frame. And regardless of how strong and powerful they seem to be, there is One who handles them all as though they were but dust. Our focus today should be on the Master builder, the One who made each of us in His image. God is the One who created all things and will be the One who determines what happens to all things, even us. For those of us who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, we have an eternal building prepared for us in heaven. Let's spend some time today working on our spiritual life, not just the physical. Spend some time today with the Master builder.

Commentating author unknown 

God angry?...1 Kings 11:6, 9-13

1 Kings 11:6, 9–13

Solomon planted seeds of willfulness and independence that reaped a harvest of age-old rebellion in his heart. Let's see what God did in response to Solomon's defiance. Read 1 Kings 11:9–11. His very first reaction was a strong statement of divine anger. Right off the bat: "Now the LORD was angry with Solomon" (v. 9).

What a refreshing balance, what a clean breath of air! Of course God was angry! Week after week we hear of the love of God. We are told of the compassion and the mercy and the grace of God, and we surely should be. But to the exclusion of His anger? I think not. How easy to forget that He is holy. How seldom we hear teaching of the wrath and the anger of God, of the jealousy God has for the purity of His people.

Mark it down in bold print: Defiance still makes God angry.

Not too long ago, I did a scriptural study on divine anger. To tell you the truth, I was amazed at how often the word anger appears in the Bible in relation to God. Usually, the word kindled accompanies the term. His anger is often kindled. Our English word has in mind the idea of arousing or stirring something up or starting embers to glow. It's usually related to the kindling of a fire. The Hebrew word translated kindled comes from the root verb that suggests "to be heated to the point of vexation." It vexes God when He sees His children walk against His plan. I repeat, it still makes Him angry.

I have several old Puritan books. Every time I read them, I find myself reminded of the holiness of God. God stands ready to deal with His people, modern-day teaching notwithstanding. We need the reminder that He is still jealous for our hearts, and when we walk against His way, He deals with us. The Bible is replete with illustrations such as these.

Is He patient? Yes. Loving? Of course. Merciful? Always. But holy? And jealous? Absolutely. Never, ever forget that when we serve the idols of our own lives, the Lord becomes angry because our hearts are turned off to Him. Even His longsuffering has a limit; His patience reaches an end.

It's like what my folks used to say when I finally went too far. In a tone clearly reserved for finality, they would say: "Albert”, THAT'S IT!" Oh—those awful two words! "That's it!" How I would long for a place to hide . . . or the coming of the Lord for His own! At times God says to His children, "That's it! No more!" And He moves right in. Defiance, I find more often than any other attitude, is the thing that kindles God's anger. Let us never forget that our defiance gives Him every right to be angry. We've broken His holy plan for us. He wants us to walk in the light, in fellowship with Him, just as He is in the light.

Did you notice how God said He would remove Solomon's kingdom? According to verse 11, He would "tear" the kingdom from him. T-E-A-R. That, my friends, is a serious stress fracture. When we exhibit defiance, forcing the Lord to step in and deal with us, it's a tearing experience. It's a ripping away of things that are very important to us. Our peace and calm are disturbed. Our diplomatic relationships with people are stirred up. We don't get along with our parents. We don't get along with our kids. We don't get along with our peers as we once did. All of that is a tearing away of kingdoms that were built in defiance.

Let's not overlook the Lord's mercy here. He says in verses 12 and 13:

"Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen."

Those are hard, strong words. Frankly, defiant people only hear hard, strong words. They are not listening to the whisperings or the quiet movements of God.

So, we see that God responds to defiance with righteous anger. He also takes action. 

Commentating author unknown

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Biblical Warning...1 Kings 11:1-8

1 Kings 11:1–8

When it comes to the topic of rebellion, King Solomon's story is pretty incredible. Although bright, rich, capable, and the son of a famous father, Solomon became an insolent, carnal man. We need to see how God dealt with him—the epitome of defiance.

The part of Solomon's biography that interests us today is recorded in 1 Kings 11. This is not a teenaged, rebellious son living under the roof of his parents; this is a middle-aged man who has reached the pinnacle of success. (Remember, there is no age restriction on defiance—you can be defiant and be up in years. You can be defiant as a child, a teenager, or an adult.) By now, Solomon was "running the show" of the kingdom. But, like a bolt out of the blue, he broke free. He must have thought, "I'm going to get my way regardless." He seemed to change overnight. When that happens, it's time for people like us to sit up and learn some lessons. Solomon's life continues to be a warning to all of us.

Actually, Solomon's defiance was not a sudden thing. Not at all. There were some seeds he'd planted early in life which he later harvested in adulthood.

The first were seeds of compromise. Remember when he had an alliance with Pharaoh and married Pharaoh's daughter? The story is recorded in 1 Kings, chapter 3. As a result of that compromising alliance, he began to make concessions in his spiritual walk. The compromise seeds grew into a loss of distinction as a sensitive man of God. He lost his distinction as a monotheistic Jewish ruler. He had been instructed not to cohabit or even mingle with foreign women. His Jewish upbringing included strong admonitions against intermarrying with Gentiles. The seeds of compromise were now harvested in a loss of distinction.

A little later on in his life, Solomon planted seeds of extravagance. He lived extravagantly. He spent extravagantly. He built extravagantly. There were no parameters on his budget. He was able to buy at will, build whatever he desired, and live wherever and however he wished. Self-control and restraint were not in his vocabulary. In the journal he kept, Ecclesiastes, we discover that his fast-lane, go-for-broke lifestyle led to cynicism, boredom, and disillusionment. Such is the fruit of extravagance.

Third, there was unaccountability. The more closely you study his managerial habits, the more you realize Solomon was never willing to be accountable—not to any of his counselors, not to any of the prophets, not to any of his wives who surrounded him. We never read of Solomon's asking for straight answers or listening to sound advice. He mentions the wisdom of it—theoretically—in the Book of Proverbs, but it is conspicuously absent in his life. He operated like the Lone Ranger. He was close-minded. Ultimately, he even ignored what God was saying through His spokesmen, which is lethal for any spiritual leader.

The seeds of unaccountability were finally harvested . . . as they always are. The fruit? Unchecked independence. Nobody can get away with unaccountability. After a while, you've got to pay the piper. And that's what Solomon did in the latter years of his life.

One more category of seeds should be mentioned—the seeds of idolatry. When harvested, idolatry led to lust and open defiance.

This is precisely where we find Solomon in 1 Kings 11. The man is living in the backwash of carnality. He doesn't know it, but he is about to be dealt with by the Lord God, who always takes a dim view of defiance.

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, "You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods." Solomon held fast to these in love. (1 Kings 11:1–2)

Solomon not only married foreign women, he married many of them, in direct defiance of Scripture. Defiance always denies Scripture willfully—not ignorantly, willfully.

And did you notice how verse 2 closes? "Solomon held fast to these in love." He flaunted it. He not only embraced them, he embraced them publicly. He not only married them, he courted them in front of the people of Israel. He not only played around . . . he held fast to them in love.

We should not be surprised to read in the very next verse that "his wives turned his heart away" (11:4). We don't use that expression today. We use the words "turned off." He was "turned off" to spiritual things. Take time to note the harvest of Solomon's seeds of defiance in verses 4–8. His defiance was his downfall. In Part Three we'll look at God's response.

Commentating author unknown

Monday, June 9, 2014

Attitude...1 Kings 3

We should all learn that God is pleased to bless us.  But that prosperity must be accompanied by a special attitude…an attitude that is captured in 1 Kings 3.

This passage records God's appearance to Solomon in a dream at Gibeon.  In the dream God said to Solomon, "Ask!  What shall I give you?"

What an incredible statement, and question!  Equally incredible is Solomon's response, which revealed the attitude of his heart, the attitude which must accompany our prosperity.  That response is captured in verses 7-10,

"Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.  And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted.  Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil.  For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?"  The speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.

God is pleased when, in our hearts, we put others before ourselves.  God delights in prospering us when prosperity is not our chief aim.  When we get it right, and in our hearts we do place others before ourselves, God can bless us beyond our wildest dreams.

God will give you everything you need to fulfill His plan for your life. He will give you richly all things to enjoy, as long as you have a prosperous attitude that puts His plans and His people first.

Commentating author unknown

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Dealing with Defiance...Deuteronomy 21:18-21

Deuteronomy 21:18–21

Defiance and stress are inseparable co-conspirators. Together, they scheme to steal your peace of mind.

Although the term defiance does not appear in Scripture, acts and attitudes of defiance often do. No matter what the term, the scene is never pretty.

The same is true in life today . . . but the tragedy is that defiance is frequently permitted and sometimes totally ignored, leaving others in the wake of its serious consequences. Talk about stress fractures!

God never overlooks or winks at defiance. He deals with it, and we are to take our cues from our Lord.

Let's take a quick look at God's attitude, His abhorrence of rebellious acts. Please consider Deuteronomy 21:18–21. Even though this event occurred in the days when the severity of punishment was much greater than today, it nevertheless reveals how strongly the Lord feels about defiance.

I take it, from the way this narrative unfolds, that the person in question is a young man—old enough to live outside the home, but perhaps not quite ready for that. He's living under the roof of his parents but has been demonstrating insubordinate independence. His lifestyle reveals an unbending determination to have his own way.

"If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. They shall say to the elders of his city, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.' Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear."

I remember the first time I read that passage; I was a teenager! In fact, I was getting pretty big for my britches. I thought about those words till very late in the evening, believe me. I can still remember the chill that ran down my back when I realized how seriously God feels about defiance. I was also grateful that I was not living under the Law! The Lord made no provision for domestic insolence, even when the child living at home was approaching adulthood. Defiance is never excusable, never of little concern.

Before proceeding, perhaps I should clarify that this passage is not suggesting that parents have the right to be despotic dictators in the home, mistreating and manipulating their children. No! Please observe that the parents mentioned in Deuteronomy 21 apparently had attempted to work with their son—to no avail. He defied their authority. He refused to cooperate, to curtail his habit of getting drunk, to restrain himself in other things as well. This young man was turning the home into a "hell on earth." He left the parents with no alternative other than to call on city authorities to help, which still occurs today.

Take time to observe, parents! The peace, the moral standards, and the joy of your home are not to be sacrificed on the altar of indulgence. Defiance will send stress fractures through the structure of a home just as it will ruin a life. If you do not deal with it, who will? Believe me, the teacher at school or the minister at church cannot take the place of the parent at home.

In the days of Samuel, there once lived a self-willed king named Saul. On one occasion King Saul did his own thing, in defiance of God's instructions through the prophet-judge Samuel. The prophet was dispatched by the Lord to face the king. Saul excused himself, backpedaled, rationalized, and even denied being defiant. Finally, Samuel had had enough. He looked straight at Saul, pointed that long, bony finger of his and said, "Rebellion is as the sin of divination . . . and idolatry." That's quite a statement! The Living Bible captures the thought in this paraphrase:

For rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. (1 Samuel 15:23a TLB)

The next time you're tempted to pass over defiance, remember that analogy.

Commentating author unknown

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Faith Pleases God...Hebrews 11

When we talk about what pleases God, I think we must put faith at the top of the list.  Very simply, faith pleases God.

Hebrews 11—often called the faith chapter—makes it very clear how vital faith is to pleasing God.  In fact, Hebrews 11:6 tells us,

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Notice it doesn't say, "Without faith it is very difficult to please Him."  No, it is impossible to please God without faith.  You and I must learn to trust God if we are to bring a smile to the face of God.

Some people say, "Well, there is just too much teaching on faith."  I disagree.  Why?  Because it takes faith to please God.  Without it, we have no chance at all of pleasing Him.  In fact, Hebrews 10:38 states,

Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.

That is pretty black and white, isn't it?  If you desire to please God, it starts with faith, trusting God completely.

I challenge you today to ask yourself, "Do I really trust God with every part of my life?  Do I place my faith in Him moment by moment?  Or do I refuse to trust Him as I should?"

If this is an area of struggle for you, determine today to spend time in the Word of God.  For the Bible tells us that faith comes by hearing the Word of God.  Ask God to speak to you through His Word.  Your faith and trust in Him will grow.  Our great God is worthy of your trust.

Commentating Author unknown

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

In His Time...2 Chronicles 19

2 Chronicles 19; John 13:21-38

Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. - Genesis 40:23

When Joseph gave the dream interpretations for both the butler and the baker, he requested that the butler tell Pharaoh about him, hoping that the king would release him from prison. When the butler was restored to his position again serving the king, he forgot to mention Joseph to him. No doubt Joseph was disappointed at being forgotten. Can you imagine how it would feel to be in prison for a crime you did not commit and then to be overlooked by the one person who could put in a good word for you? Joseph endured a great deal of anguish through his trials but he remained steadfast as the Lord continued to grant him favor.

How often do we overlook the good deeds of those around us? Have you ever promised to return a favor but for some reason never really did it? When we are in trouble or need help, we tend to pledge whatever someone wants in return for helping us. This bargaining is not always a requirement or necessity for getting help, but it often comes in times of desperation. Have you ever prayed so hard for God to answer a prayer that you vowed something back to Him in return? God is gracious in how He answers such prayers, as most of us can never keep our end of the bargain.

Joseph made a sincere plea to the butler who was about to be set free. "But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house" (Genesis 40:14). God had a different plan for Joseph as to how he would be set free from prison, a plan that would bless his life and his family's lives in amazing ways. God has a plan for you as well. Pray against discouragement in your circumstances and ask the Lord to give you peace as you wait on His perfect timing. God is sovereign and always knows what is best for us.

Commentating author unknown

Monday, June 2, 2014

Prayer...Acts 12:1-5

What Did You Pray For This Morning?

“Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James, the brother of John, with the sword.  And…he proceeded further to take Peter also…. And…he put him in prison….Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him….And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him….And the angel said unto him, “Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals…and follow me.”… And…he came to the house of Mary the mother of John…where many were gathered together praying….Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.” - Acts 12: 1-5, 7-8, 12, 16

Peter was in prison and the church was praying. They had no other recourse. They couldn’t petition the government to release him. They had no political influence, no money to bribe Herod. But they could pray. The world might have laughed, but friend, the devil didn’t laugh.

Someone wisely said, “The devil trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.” They offered focused prayer to God, and God controls the universe.

Notice that “Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him” (v. 5). They prayed for Peter not only with intensity but with specificity.

What did you pray for this morning? Many of our prayers, like “Lord, save the lost,” are so vague, if God were to answer them we wouldn’t know it, and if God didn’t answer them we wouldn’t have to admit it.

Stop praying vague, general prayers. Get specific. When they prayed for Peter and the answer came, they knew it was an answer to prayer.

Commentating author unknown

Sunday, June 1, 2014

No Kindness...Psalm 69:21

Psalms 69:21

They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Sometimes we think things are going really bad in our lives. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking we're worse off than anyone else. When we feel sorry for ourselves, all we need do is turn to the story of Jesus' last few hours on earth. There the man who knew no sin became sin for us, so we might have eternal life. He was tripped, beaten, spit upon, and when, as His dying request, He asked for a drink to wet His lips, they put vinegar before Him instead of water. No kindness was shown the Prince of Peace, the one who had done nothing in His life to warrant such cruel mistreatment. Compared with the trial and misfortune of our Lord, we have very little to complain about. To even compare ourselves to Him is to open ourselves to shame. Christ endured torment and death upon a cross for our sakes. Now, He abides with us to help us endure every trial.

Prayer: I can hardly believe all that You did for me, Lord. You walked this earth so that I might one day walk with You in heaven. Thank you for giving me so much. Amen.

Commentating author unknown