Saturday, February 28, 2015

Harder to be Full than Empty...

Daily Devotional for February 10, 2015
I know how to abound.  Philippians 4:12

There are many who know "how to be brought low" who have not learned "how to abound." When they are set upon the top of a pinnacle their heads grow dizzy, and they are ready to fall. The Christian disgraces his profession more often in prosperity than in adversity.
It is a dangerous thing to be prosperous. The crucible of adversity is a less severe trial for the Christian than the place of prosperity. What leanness of soul and neglect of spiritual things have been brought on through the very mercies and bounties of God!
Yet this is not a matter of necessity, for the apostle tells us that he knew how to abound. When he had much, he knew how to use it. Abundant grace enabled him to bear abundant prosperity. When he had a full sail he was loaded with much ballast, and so floated safely. It needs more than human skill to carry the brimming cup of earthly joy with a steady hand; yet Paul had learned that skill, for he declares, "In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger."
It is a divine lesson to know how to be full, for the Israelites were full once, but while the food was still in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them. Many have asked for mercies, that they might satisfy their own hearts' lust. Fullness of bread has often made fullness of blood, and that has brought on emptiness of spirit.
When we have plenty of God's providential mercies, it often happens that we have but little of God's grace, and little gratitude for the blessings we have received. We are full, and we forget God: Satisfied with earth, we are content to do without heaven.
Rest assured, it is harder to know how to be full than it is to know how to be hungry--so desperate is the tendency of human nature to pride and forgetfulness of God. Take care that you ask in your prayers that God would teach you how to be full.
Let not the gifts Thy love bestows
Estrange our hearts from Thee.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Yes, to Him be the Glory...

To Him Be the Glory

Daily Devotional for February 15, 2015 from Truth for Life

To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.  ~ 2 Peter 3:18

Heaven will be full of the ceaseless praises of Jesus. Eternity! 
Your unnumbered years shall run their everlasting course, but forever and forever; "to him be the glory." 
Is He not a "priest forever after the order of Melchizedek"? 
"To him be the glory." 

Is He not king forever--King of kings and Lord of lords, the everlasting Father? 
"To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity." 
His praises shall never end.

That which was bought with blood deserves to last while immortality endures. 
The glory of the cross must never be eclipsed; 
the luster of the grave and of the resurrection must never be dimmed. 

O Jesus, You will be praised forever. 
So long as immortal spirits live
--as long as the Father's throne endures
--forever, forever, unto You shall be glory.

Believer, you are anticipating the time when you will join the saints above in ascribing all glory to Jesus; 
but are you glorifying Him now? 

The apostle's words are, 
"To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity." 
Will you not today make it your prayer? 
Lord, help me to glorify You. 
I am poor; 
help me to glorify You by contentment. 

I am sick; 
help me to give You honor by patience. 

I have talents; 
help me to extol You by spending them for You. 

I have time, Lord; 
help me to redeem it, that I may serve You. 

I have a heart to feel; 
Lord, let that heart feel no love but Yours, and glow with no flame but affection for You. 

I have a mind to think, Lord; 
help me to think of You and for You. 

You have put me in this world for something. 
Lord, show me what that is, 
and help me to work out my life-purpose. 

I cannot do much, but as the widow put in her two copper coins, which were all her living, so, Lord, I cast my time and eternity too into Your treasury. 

I am all Yours; 
take me, and enable me 
to glorify You now, 
in all that I say, 
in all that I do, 
and 
with all that I have.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

God allows us to know Him...

The Infinite God Allows Us to Know Him

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“All things are delivered unto Me of My Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” Matthew 11:27

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
When God condescends to make Himself known to us, the Bible calls that “revelation.” The Infinite reveals Himself to the finite. Now, what is the agent in this revelation? The Holy Spirit.  Only the Holy Spirit knows the mind of God and searches the deep things of God.

You and I cannot know God apart from the Holy Spirit revealing Him to us. Isaiah 55:9 says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” 

ACTION POINT:
Even in the human realm, the only way you and I know anything about each other is when we reveal ourselves to one another. And the only way that man will ever know God is for God to reveal Himself. Praise God that He has chosen to do that!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Encourage others...

Jan 27, 2015

The Making of an Encourager

People love encouragers, and the Lord intends for each of His children to be one. An encourager is able to stand beside someone else to give hope and the motivation to persevere through difficult times. We are not born with this ability fully developed, but we can follow several essential steps to become capable of supporting and empathizing with a hurting friend.
First, we must be willing to experience pain. The apostle Paul was an encourager; in verse 4 of today’s passage, he urges us to reach out to others with the “comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” To experience comfort and have it flow through us, we must suffer some heartache. There’s power in the touch of a person who has been in the valley. Someone who experiences pain does not offer empty words, but hope.
Second, we need to learn the principles that are available to us in our suffering. If we can view our heartache as a class in God’s university, where our enrollment will produce a degree in encouragement, much of the sting will dissipate. The Lord teaches us to place our trust in Him alone, and then we can pass that wisdom on to others.
The most effective encouragers are those who say, “There was nothing I could do but cry out to God. Let me tell you what the Lord did in response.” If we try to escape pain, we will miss out on the principles that can be learned only from suffering; then we cannot be useful to others. Our loving Father builds encouragers from the material of a life willing to be broken.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Service to God....

Jan 24, 2015

A Passion to Serve God

Read | Ephesians 2:8-10

Oswald Chambers, author of My Utmost for His Highest, died in 1917 at age 43. His influence, however, lives on. Almost a century later, God is still using this man’s book to speak to hearts; I am one of the many convicted by his words. Chambers’ message has lasted because he gave priority to things of eternal value rather than to things of the world.

Sadly, many people choose an existence with no enduring significance. Setting out to make as much money as possible, please oneself, and retire to enjoy the good life is unbiblical. Worthwhile living involves giving ourselves unreservedly to God so He can use us in any way He sees fit. Christians like Chambers, who make a lasting impact in their sphere of influence, have a passion to serve the Lord. They look for ways to express their love and devotion to Him.

As citizens of a heavenly kingdom, believers should see their job title as “servant of almighty God.” Perhaps you are thinking, I have a secular job or My life doesn't matter much. Friend, if you are determined to find ways to be useful for the kingdom, God will supply tasks of eternal value. Be sensitive to people in need. Share your faith with those who hurt. Whether through your vocation or in your community, make yourself available to individuals who need help. Tell others what the Lord is doing in your life.

You are called to serve God where you are. We have all been given the work of evangelists and teachers (Matt. 28:19) as well as the task of caring for those who are in need (Isa. 1:17; Gal. 6:2). There is much work to be done.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Develope a Tender Heart - from InTouch.org

February 6
 
Developing a Tender Heart
 
The Lord wants to give each of us a "heart of flesh" so that we will be pliable and responsive to Him. When touched by the finger of God, a tender heart yields to the pressure and assumes the form He desires, much like a lump of clay that allows the potter to determine the shape of the vessel.
To aid in this process, God has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell each believer and awaken responsiveness in him or her. By yielding to the Spirit's promptings with ready obedience, the heart becomes increasingly tender and sensitive to His leading. The Lord is able to impart greater understanding of His Word to a soft heart because it has faithfully accepted and obeyed previous teachings.
Any resistance to God will result in hardening. But those who are accustomed to intimacy with Christ—which is the result of submission to Him—will be quick to deal with sin and return to the place of obedience and blessing.

People with tender hearts stay closely connected to the body of Christ, seeking to build up and encourage others in their walk of faith. Such individuals are not only receptive to what God wants to tell them; they are also teachable, in that they are willing to listen and be corrected by others.

This week when you read your Bible and 
pray, let your heart be soft toward the words of God. As He pokes His finger into each hard area, listen to His instructions, and rely on the Spirit's power to help you yield and obey. Let Him shape you into a beautiful and useful vessel.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.


Praise God from whom all blessings flow...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Life Principle #1

Our intimacy with God--His highest priority for our lives--determines the impact of our lives!


30 Life Principles
Click on link above or...
Go to InTouch.org and click on 30 Life Principles at the bottom of the page to read more about these principles.

...from Pastor Charles Stanley at InTouch.org




Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sing in the ways of the Lord...

Feb. 1 - journal entry

"They shall sing in the ways of the Lord"
~ Psalm 138:5

The time when Christians begin to sing in the ways of the Lord is when they first lose their burden at the foot of the cross.

Not even the songs of the angels seem so sweet as the first song of the rapture which gushes from the soul of the forgiven child of God.

Believer, do you remember the day when your chains fell off?

Do you remember the place where Jesus met you and said,
"I have loved thee with an everlasting love; I have blotted out as a cloud thy transgressions, and as a thick cloud thy sins; they shall not be mentioned against thee any more forever" (Jer. 31:3).

How wonderful it is when Jesus takes away the pain of sin!

It is not only at the beginning of the Christian life that believers have reason for song. As long as they live, they discover cause to sing in the ways of the Lord.

Their experience of His constant lovingkindness leads them to say,
"I will bless the Lord at all times:
His praise shall continually be in my mouth"
(Psalm 34:1).

...from Morning by Morning by CH Spurgeon

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Lesson/Study #1 - Repentance

Repentance


Religion vs. Repentance




  • Many think the word repent means "to get your act together" or to "get religion" or "fly straight"; as if we could. Repentance requires taking in a whole new point of view; looking at it God's way. God simply asks us to turn. This is the way we accept His gift. When we do, certain outcomes are promised. If we don't, or we "turn back", alternate outcomes are promised.



  • Look And Live

    Numbers 21:8-9 (NIV) The Lord said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." ...Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.



  • Let's imagine ourselves in this situation. Poisonous snakes have bitten everyone, and while we are not dead yet, the prospects do not look good. Suddenly a voice yells out: "We must do something. We must save ourselves!" But how? Various ideas surface such as: "If you run around in frantic activity it will work out the poison!" A few people try this, and die trying. Others, by staring at their bites, go totally berserk into a frenzy of panic. Alternately, some try to convince themselves that they are not bitten, or that the snakes were not poisonous, and form little groups to delude each other while dying. And here's a person selling "snake oil" which purports to be an antitoxin, but makes people even worse.


  • Enter Moses who says, "If you look at the bronze snake that has been lifted up on this pole, you will live. If you do not, no matter what else you do, you will die." Now let's really picture how we might react, having been given this revelation. "He must be kidding," we would think. "Do nothing? Just look? How insulting a solution! What part do we play in it?" Moses responds, "Cease your activities. Just look, and live!" Really now, if you had been there, would you have believed it? Do you believe God's solution today?


  • John 3:14 (NIV) [Jesus:] "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up."



  • We all have been bitten, and sin is coursing through our veins. It will most certainly lead to death. There is only one solution, but it is an offense to our ability to save ourselves. 

  • John 6:40a (NIV) "For my father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life."

    John 6:29 (NIV) Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."


    Turn Or Burn

    Luke 13:3b (NIV) "But unless you repent, you too will all perish." [This is often termed the "Turn or Burn" passage.]

    Matthew 4:17 (NIV) From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

    Matthew 3:2 (Phi) "You must change your hearts and minds, for the Kingdom of Heaven has arrived!"

    Mark 6:12 (TEB) So they went out and preached that people should turn away from their sins.

    Acts 2:38 (NIV) Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."


    The Two Ways



  • The "way" we are looking: 1) will make sense if we look long enough; 2) willcreate desire to move in that direction; and 3) will lead to something. First, we will look at how this applies to man's way.
  • Proverbs 14:12 (NIV) There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.


  • If our line of sight is along our own way, or the way of the world, then this will begin to make sense to us as we continue to meditate on it, even if the way we are looking is really stupid. With this mind set, desire will spring up, which is the fuel that will lead us to destruction.

  • Any sin would do as an example, but let's take bitterness. If someone has done evil to us, the more we think about it, the more it will make sense to hate them, to burn with anger, to feel again the hurt. As we focus on the way of revenge, desire takes root and bitterness sets in. And where does this all lead?


  • James 1:14-15 (NIV) But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

  • Ezekiel 18:23-31 (NIV) "Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?" declares the Sovereign Lord. "Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?... Because he considers all the offenses he has committed and turns away from them, he will surely live; he will not die... Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel?"
    Ezekiel 33:11 (NIV) ... "I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways!..."


    Man's Way And God's Way Contrasted

    Ephesians 4:17-24 (NIV) So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in thefutility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off the old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

    Ephesians 2:1-3 (Phi) You were spiritually dead through your sins and failures, all the time you followed this world's ideas of living, and obeyed the evil ruler of the spiritual realm, who is indeed fully operative today in those who disobey God. We all lived like that in the past, and followed the desires and imaginings of our lower natures, being, in fact, under the wrath of God by nature, like everyone else.
    Galatians 5:16 (NIV) So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.


    What Are You Looking At?



  • It has been said that "a righteous man does whatever he wants , but only wants to do the will of God." The "only wants" part comes from reckoning our carnal selves crucified with Christ. We do this by quickly repenting when we are caught meditating on sin, turning to God. If we do not, and give the "way of the world" its chance, our desire to sin will grow. Unconsummated carnal desire is corruption and death, even if we do not actually commit the sin.


  • Matthew 5:28-29 (NIV) "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."



  • Desire itself is not the problem. The problem is the object of our desire. Desires are meant to be consummated, not to burn on uncrucified or spent on sin. Knowing how we function, God promises and gives us new desires by His Spirit, which makes righteousness an "easy yoke" to the repentant. We turn; He empowers. We lose "our" lives; He makes us new creations with a new mind, new desires (heart), and new works (fruit). 


  • Romans 8:5-9 (NIV) Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are not controlled by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.


  • Looking At It God's Way


  • So how can we break out of the death-spiral of the way of sin seeming right,creating desire, and leading to destruction? We must repent; we must turn or perish. But to what? If we turn to just another of "man's ways" we have just set our sights down another road to death. Instead, we must find out what God's will, God's way, is and turn to that.


  • Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV) Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.



  • Back to our example of bitterness, if we turn from fantasizing about actually hurting the perpetrator in some vengeful way to just wallowing in hurt, pain, and pity instead; this is not repentance. Repentance is taking in God's point of view; looking at it His way.


  • Ephesians 5:8-10 (NIV) For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.



  • Note that if God by His grace reveals something to us that we can turn to, it may not make sense right away. In our example of bitterness, God's will is forgiveness! "Ridiculous, that would not be right," is our first reaction. (Again, any sin will do as an example.) But if we do not allow our eye to flinch as we take in God's perspective, if we keep staring at it, we will find that it is good, pleasing, and perfect. Beyond "seeming right", it reallyis right.


  • In our example, if we move from bitterness to forgiveness, we find out that God's way is the best "revenge", that forgiveness is like "pouring coals over the heads" of our enemies. If we forgive instead of wallowing in bitterness, the perpetrator's grip over us is broken, and we find that we were only hurting ourselves. If we continue to take in God's point of view, then after time we will look back at the old way and say "What was I thinking? Ridiculous!" So do not grow impatient if God's way does not immediately appeal to you; keep staring at it.


  • James 1:25 (Phi) But the man who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and makes a habit of so doing, is not the man who hears and forgets. He puts that law into practice and he wins true happiness.

  • Ps 34:5,8 (NIV) Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame... Taste and see that the Lord is good.


    The Gift Of God That Goes With Repentance: New Appetites

    1 Peter 2:2 (NIV) Like newborn babies,crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

    Ps 119:104-105 (NIV) I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore, I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

    Ps 16:11 (NIV) You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasuresat your right hand.

    2 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV) His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

    Rom 12:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is, his good, pleasing, and perfect will.


    Warnings To Those Who Hanker To "Look Back"

    Isaiah 30:15 (NIV) This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it."
    Philippians 3:19 (NIV) Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.

    2 Peter 2:21-22 (NIV) It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its own vomit," and "A sow that is washed goes back to wallowing in the mud."

    Luke 9:62 (NEB) To him Jesus said, "No one who sets his hand to the plow and then keeps looking back is fit for the kingdom of God."


    The Urgency Of Repentance

    Isaiah 55:6-7 (NIV) Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn tothe Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

    Rom 2:4 (Phi) Are you, perhaps, misinterpreting God's generosity and patient mercy towards you as weakness on his part? Don't you realize that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

    Acts 17:30 (NIV) In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

    James 5:19-20 (Phi) My brothers, if any of you should wander away from the truth and another should turn him back on to the right path, then the latter may be sure that in turning a man back from his wandering course he has rescued a soul from death, and in so doing will "cover a multitude of sins."

    Rev 3:3 (Phi) "Remember what you were taught. Hold to those things and repent."


    The Object Of Desire

    1 John 2:15-17 (Phi) Never give your hearts to this world or to any of the things in it. A man cannot love the Father and love the world at the same time. For the whole world-system, based as it is onmen's desires, their greedy ambitions and the glamour of all that they think splendid, is not derived from the Father at all, but from the world itself. The world and all of its passionate desires will one day disappear. But the man who is following God's will is part of the permanent and cannot die.

    Matthew 6:32-33 (Phi) That is what pagans are always looking for; your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Set your heart first on his kingdom and his goodness, and all these things will come to you as a matter of course.

    Col 3:2 (NIV) Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

    Ps 101:3a (NIV) I will set before my eyes no vile thing.

    Rom 13:14 (NIV) ... clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of your sinful nature.

    Ps 105:4 (NIV) Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

    Ps 119:36-37 (NIV) Turn my heart toward your statutes and not towards selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.

    Acts 2:38 (TEB) Peter said to them, "Turn away from your sins, each one of you, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven; and you will receive God's gift, the Holy Spirit."

    Turn Or Burn

    2 Tim 2:19 (NIV) "The Lord knows those who are his," and "everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness."



  • When at first we hear "repent or perish", it seems harsh. But as we turn, we see that it is an incredible gift to have something to turn to. If not for God's love, our only option would be to perish. But the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has appeared. To have the option to turn is sweet indeed.


  • Acts 3:19 (NIV) "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord."

  • Hebrews 12:2a (NIV) Let us fix our eyeson Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

    Seal
    Extra Stuff on Repentance | Acts 17:11 Home Page
    http://www.acts17-11.com/repent.html


    Praise God from whom all blessings flow!