Thursday, May 31, 2012

Limiting God

Today’s Text: Mark 5:15 

“They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the ‘legion’; and they became frightened.”

Words of Devotion

These people were afraid. But “why?” we might wonder. What had Jesus done that they found so upsetting?

Entering their region, He had been met by a “man from the tombs with an unclean spirit.” This man had been a constant nuisance, disrupting community life. No one could control him, not even after he was bound with a chain.
(vs. 2-3)

Then Jesus appeared. Knowing the spiritual root of the problem, He commanded the demon to come out of the man. Instantly, the man was freed. After the news spread, people came to see the man, amazed that he looked normal. But there was no celebration. Instead, the people reacted with fear.

What had Jesus done to merit such a reaction? He had disrupted their status quo. He had challenged their assumptions, and perhaps even their theology.

The reaction was so intense that they asked Him to leave their region. They would rather live with their preconceived ideas than experience the power of God in a new way. They would rather have had the demon-possessed man cause havoc in their community, than for Jesus to demonstrate His power. They would rather have lived within their comfort zone, than to have Jesus do something unexpected—something they couldn’t understand.

Today, many react to Jesus in a similar way. They may face problems, but they place limits on what they will allow Him to do in their lives.

How open are you to Jesus’ power in your life? Do you have preconceived ideas that limit what He can do for you? Are you open to allowing Him to intervene in the problems you face? Or are you trapped in your own comfort zones, unwilling to let Him teach you new things or open new doors of understanding?

Closing Inspirational Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, forgive me for limiting You. Open my eyes. I give You permission to use me and reveal the fullness of the Gospel in my life. In Your name, Amen

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Learning from Experience

Today’s Text: Mark 6:34-37

“He began to teach them many things…His disciples came to Him and said, ‘This place is desolate and it is already quite late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’ But He answered them, ‘You give them something to eat!’”

Words of Devotional

Jesus was a master teacher who loved to teach. He also was fully aware of the importance of firsthand experience—not just hearing, but actually doing.

We see this principle in action when the multitudes followed Jesus and His disciples to a desolate place. Jesus knew that the people were hungry, and it would have been easy for Him to feed them. But He wanted to teach a valuable lesson to His disciples.

Faced with the hungry multitude, His disciples wanted to send the people away. But, wanting them to think differently, Jesus told them to give the people “something to eat!” Yet they continued to think from a human perspective, asking, “Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” (v. 37)

The disciples still did not see any realistic solution. But Jesus forced them to dig deeper, asking, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” They obeyed, and found five loaves and two fish (v. 38). Jesus continued to force them to stay involved, telling them to organize the people into groups.

Then Jesus did the only thing without their involvement: He prayed. Afterward, as the disciples shared the food they had gathered, the miracle took place. When everyone was satisfied, the disciples completed the process, picking up 12 full baskets of what was left over.

Jesus had performed the miracle, but His disciples were involved in every step. They could look back and remember exactly what had taken place.

Jesus often works the same way in our lives. Just as He did with the disciples, He desires for us to learn, gain experience, and develop in our faith.

Today, learn to cooperate with Jesus. Let Him teach you along the way.

A Closing Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, help me be sensitive to Your leading. I want to grow in my faith. Use my resources, and show me how to impact others with the Gospel. In Your name Amen

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Popular Opinion

Today’s Text: Mark 5:35 

“While He was still speaking, they came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, ‘Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?’”

Words of Devotion

Jairus faced a crisis. His daughter was “at the point of death.” In desperation, he reached out to Jesus. Then, as Jesus was traveling to see the girl, a woman in the crowd around Him touched His hem and was healed of a hemorrhage that had plagued her for 12 years.

While Jesus ministered to the woman, Jairus learned that his daughter already had died. The crowd concluded that nothing more could be done, except to “trouble” Jesus. The Greek word here means to annoy or harass. To them, the matter was closed.

These people had placed limits on their faith and what Jesus could do. But He wanted to demonstrate that He wasn’t limited by popular opinion…that no situation was impossible…that He had no time limits…that He wasn’t annoyed or troubled by Jairus’ needs…and that He didn’t feel harassed. He told him, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” (v. 36). Despite outward evidence that seemed daunting, Jesus was able to bring the girl back to life!

When we face problems, it can seem natural to be like these people who surrounded Jairus. It would be easy to be limited by popular opinion, to stop looking to Jesus, to stop believing, and to give up hope.

As you face problems, people around you may feel that things are hopeless. But as Jesus demonstrated with Jairus, faith is more important than popular opinion. Never limit His power. And remember that you never will annoy or trouble Him.

Commit your problems to Jesus—problems about health or finances, relationships or direction; problems big and small; problems in your own life or in the lives of friends or family members; even problems that seem impossible to solve. 

Keep believing and trusting. Keep acting in faith. As Jairus learned, with Jesus no situation is truly hopeless. It’s never too late. All things are possible!

A Closing Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I commit these situations to You: _______. Thank You that all things are possible for You! I believe You for miracles! In Your name  Amen

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Call from the Throne: Here I am Send me

Today’s Text: Isaiah 6:1-13

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.

Words of Devotion

“Here I am! Send me.” These words are among the most popular of Old Testament texts. Often, they are taught in a motivational light in an attempt to inspire people to step up and serve. Sadly, what is frequently left out is the mission that Isaiah was volunteering for. But God doesn’t treat us like that. He doesn’t try to hide our mission and message from us before we’re sent, He’s straightforward. Isaiah was going to be an unpopular preacher with an unpopular message. Essentially, God instructed Isaiah:

 “Yes, go, and say to this people,
‘Listen carefully, but do not understand.
    Watch closely, but learn nothing.’
 Harden the hearts of these people.
    Plug their ears and shut their eyes.
That way, they will not see with their eyes,
    nor hear with their ears,
nor understand with their hearts
    and turn to me for healing.” (Vrs 9-10)

The commentator Matthew Henry wrote of this passage, “There are many who hear the sound of God’s word, but do not feel the power of it.” There are a few hard lessons to be learned here. For starters, God’s word doesn’t only soften us, it also hardens us. Those Isaiah was called to speak God’s words to, were going to be willfully obstinate and therefore hard toward the truth. What do you think his conversion rate was? By our standards today, would we hold Isaiah up as a picture of ministerial success? Or would we cast him aside as unloving and non-anointed? What this encounter with God should teach us is that first and foremost our success should be judged by obedience and not by immediate results. Obedience to God will most certainly produce fruit, but we may not always be able to see it right away. Let your life be defined by obedience rather than expedience.”

So is God speaking to you? Are willing to listen? Are you willing to obey God’s instructions?

Today listen for God’s voice, and like Isaiah, say, “Here I am Send me”.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

His Throne: Woe is Me!

Today’s Text: Isaiah 6:5-7

And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Words of Devotion

Isaiah witnessed the amazing reality of what goes on around Jesus every minute of every day: blazing angels covering their faces and feet in reverence and calling out in worship. This encounter had a profound affect on him and urged his response,
“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Isaiah responded in humility, realizing his utter lostness, his sin separating him from the pure holiness he stood before. But Isaiah didn’t only admit his guilt, but that of his entire nation. He admitted that compared to Jesus he was not worthy. Jesus didn’t banish Isaiah from His presence, or command him to clean up and come back when he was a better man. However Jesus was moved with compassion from the throne to cleanse and purify Isaiah, which prefigured what Jesus would do for us. Like that “burning coal” Jesus descended from His place of authority and power and let Himself become powerless, even to the point of death (Philippians 2:8). 

Jesus lived as a man just like Isaiah, just like any of us. He was surrounded by the same temptation and sin yet, unlike Isaiah and us, he remained perfect. Through His sacrifice on the cross He paid the penalty for sin, and through His spilled blood we are cleansed. As with Isaiah’s lips, “[our] guilt is taken away, and [our] sin atoned for.”

Are you like Isaiah who responded to Jesus’ divinity humbly and thankfully accepted His sacrifice?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

On the Throne: King Jesus

Today’s Text: Isaiah 6:2-4

Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

Words of Devotion

This is an unbelievable picture. If you skipped reading the verse, stop the devotion now and let the words play out this scene in your mind. Burning, six-winged angels surrounded God’s throne in worship of glory so great that the Temple shook and filled with smoke when God even spoke. What’s happening here is the Eternal King is ruling and reigning in absolute power, yet still taking an interest in his people, still revealing himself to Isaiah.

It might seem a silly question to ask, but who was this great King Isaiah saw? Was it God the Father? Jesus? The Holy Spirit? We’ll refer to Jesus’ words for the quick answer, “Isaiah said these things because he saw His glory and spoke of Him” (John 12:41). “His” and “Him” mean Jesus. Because he continued in John 12:44 saying, “Whoever believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Hm who sent Me.” He connected this glorious vision to Himself as the eternal, undying King whose rule never ends.

This is so important because we are often stuck on the picture of Jesus’ incarnation and forget about his exultation. Here, blazing angels were calling out, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD”! This repetition of “Holy” in Hebrew conveys that He is thrice holy, or beyond anything we can compare Him to. Think of it like this, “You are holy, you are most holy, you are holier than anything we could ever conceive! You are God!” Holiness is defined by God alone. There is no power higher and nothing beyond Him. This is Jesus, our Jesus! Though He came to earth in humility, He reigns forever on the throne of power, and “the whole earth is full of His glory!”

Don’t simply worship part of Jesus; worship all of Him, remembering Him as the all-powerful King in Isaiah’s day, and in ours.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Power in Prayer

Today’s Text: 1 John 3:19-24

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him. And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. 

Words of Devotion

Part of the reason so many are finding Christianity to be boring is because they are not experiencing the kind of Christian living described in this passage. They have not entered into this kind of relationship, where each day they experience the glorious adventure of seeing a living God at work, answering prayer, and giving to them things that they ask. But in this passage we have a beautiful picture of the normal life of a Christian. It is all centered in prayer, because prayer is the most fundamental relational activity that a Christian can experience. Prayer is the expression of dependence on a loving God, and the whole Christian life is to be characterized by a continuous attitude and spirit of prayer.

Look at the earmarks of true prayer that John brings out in this passage. First, there is the spirit of prayer. We have confidence before God (and the word is, literally, boldness); we have boldness before God. If you have boldness before someone, it implies that you are in a close relationship with that person, that you have a clear right to come before him or her. There is no fear of rebuke but a good understanding between you. Thus, to have confidence or boldness before God implies that you have a clear understanding of your right to come before Him.

Prayer is to grow out of such an understanding of the truth God has declared in His Word, that we have no questions about our right to come. We do not come on our own merit or position before Him, for we know that we have no such ground. We come on Christ's merit. We come in His name, and thus we can have boldness.

Notice also the purpose of prayer. We have confidence before God and receive from Him... That is what prayer is for. It is that you and I might be on the receiving end of God's grace. God is a giving God; He delights to give. He has all the resources of a superabundant universe from which to pour out to us. You know the figures that Scripture adopts in order to make clear to us how full God's riches are. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

This is God's purpose, to make us rich. Not in material things, for that is not where true riches lie. Many millionaires would give every cent of their money if they could have a little peace of heart or joy of spirit. But God loves to pour out true riches into human life. The riches of abundant life—that is what Christ came to give. There is nothing more exciting than to see an invisible God do in your life, visible things that only He can do; meeting your needs, satisfying your heart, doing what you could never do. If we are poverty-stricken in spirit, it is only our own fault, for God has designed a wonderful process by which we might receive from Him. That is the purpose of prayer.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the wonderful adventure waiting for me to step into each day through prayer. May I have the simple faith to approach You boldly in prayer, knowing that You love to give to Your children.

Life Application: Nothing is quite so boring as Christianity without Christ. An intimate relationship is immersed in communication. Is our daily prayer free & flowing or merely formulated?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tested and Proven

Today’s Text: Mark 1:12-13

 “Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.”

Words of Devotion

Jesus had been baptized. The Father had declared that He was pleased with His Son. We might think the stage had been fully set for Jesus’ ministry to begin, with everything in place. Yet there was one additional step: Jesus needed to face temptation. 

Yes, even though He was the Son of God, Jesus was “impelled” by the Spirit to go into the wilderness, where, alone, He would be “tempted by Satan.” He would be forced to deal with many critical pressures—the pressure to conform; pressure to misuse His power, privileges, and authority; pressure to seek personal fame and fortune; pressure to compromise; pressure to yield to satanic influence; and pressure to abandon His mission. 

How would Jesus respond when He was pushed to His physical and emotional limits? What would He do when there was no one else to lean upon, when no one else could see what He was doing? 

Only when Jesus emerged from this time of testing and temptation did His ministry begin. And when He emerged triumphant, He was illustrating a pattern that would be true for all of His followers. For if the Son of God needed to go through testing and temptation, it’s logical that His followers would face this as well. 

In our flesh, we may feel that these moments are unnecessary. But, in fact, real ministry only is possible after we’ve been tested…after we’ve been proven…after we’ve faced temptation…after we’ve had real experience…after our character has been refined and deepened…after we’re toughened and ready for battle…and after we’ve matured spiritually and can stand against the “schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). 

So if you’re going through tough times today, don’t despair. God is preparing you for service!

Today’s Prayer: Father, thank You that You are with me in every situation. Thank You for power over the enemy. Thank You for helping me to stand in the face of temptation. I trust You. In Jesus’ name Amen

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Call to Godly Living

Today’s Text: Romans 12:1

 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Words of Devotion

The apostle Paul lived in an age when sensuality, the pursuit of pleasure, and rebellion against the Lord were prevalent. In response, he wrote letters urging Christians not to follow in the ways of the world. Like those early believers, we are to pursue godliness by...

1.  Presenting our bodies to God… Our total being--mind, will, emotions, personality, and physical body--is to be turned over to our heavenly Father (James 4:7a). Submitting ourselves to the Lord requires a definite decision to give Him control and a daily commitment to remain under His authority. By surrendering to Him, we will position ourselves for godly living.

2. Becoming living sacrifices… The Christian life is built around the concept of sacrifice. Jesus left the perfection of heaven to dwell among a sinful people so He might reconcile us to God. He offered up His life to make payment for our sins (1 John 3:16) and brought us into His family. As believers, we are to follow His example. Paul called it a living sacrifice, because it is ongoing--one that is repeated daily.

Life is full of options. Many decisions involve a choice between following God's way or our own. Maturing Christians will increasingly sacrifice their own desires and embrace His will.

A life of godliness is characterized by a heart and mind bent toward the things of God. Although we will live imperfectly, our focus is to be on obeying His will and pleasing Him. Let's commit to becoming more like Jesus, the One who willingly gave Himself to God as a sacrifice for us.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The God Story – A Family Tradition

Today’s Text: Genesis 48: 15

And he blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my father’s Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day.”

Words of Devotion

As literacy increases in our cultures and instant access to information on the web is so readily available, the need to pass down history through verbal forms or storytelling is gradually dying, if not already dead in your part of the world.

This was not the case in the Old Testament. As Jacob was blessing his son Joseph, he reminded him of his family history and how God was so important in it. We also see that God introduces Himself to Jacob as, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. (Genesis 28:13). And we see this again to Moses in Exodus 3:6. There is obviously something important about knowing your roots in God. Especially if this is how He introduces Himself throughout the Old Testament. The Israelites constantly refer to God this way.

Does God really want us to refer to Him this way? 

We can also refer to Him as the God who was the God of our grandparents and our parents. That might seem weird because we may not really know the God stories of our parents or grandparents. They may not have been passed down to us. That doesn’t mean we can’t start doing it now for future generations. As the world becomes more hostile to Jesus and less writing reflects the positives of Christianity.

We still have our oral stories that we can pass down from one generation to another telling of what God has done in our lives and in the lives of our family members. Maybe there isn’t a tradition of God stories in your family, no worries. You can be the one to start them. You can be your family’s first Abraham!

What God story can you tell?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Becoming Pure

Today’s Text: 1 John 3: 2-3

Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure. (Vrs 3)

Words of Devotion

What a powerful motivation this is to become like Him now; to accept your circumstances, to stop quarreling with what God sends to you, and begin in everything to give thanks, allowing these strange instruments of God's grace to do their work in your life. Paul says, “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).

A few experiences like this and you know absolutely that God is adequate, that He is able to work everything out. You know that every testing is another opportunity for God to demonstrate His great ability to work things out. Thus hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:5); it gives confidence, a sense of unbeatable confidence that keeps you poised and assured under any circumstance. All that is what happens now, as God begins to work through our circumstances to make us like Him. 

That is why John says that all those who have this kind of hope—this certainty—and understand this process purify themselves, even as Christ is pure. But you say, “Purify myself? That's the one thing I can't do”. That is true. God knows that. He knows you cannot purify yourself, yet here He says to purify yourself. What does He mean? 

You purify yourself when you use the means He has provided for purification.

 You mothers know how this works. Your little boy has been playing outside and is covered with dirt. He comes in, and you send him into the bathroom to purify himself. Like all boys, he turns on the water, runs his hands through it, turns the water off, wipes his hands on the towel, and comes out. You look him over and say, “But you're not clean”. Well, he says, “I washed myself”. "But look at the dirt on your hands and on your arms and on your face and behind your ears. You're not clean at all”. Then every wise mother asks, “Did you use soap?” Of course he hasn't, so she sends him back to use soap. What is soap? It is a purifying agent, a cleansing agent. It will do the job if it is employed. So when he comes back the second time, he has washed with soap, and the soap has cleansed him, purified him. Now he says, “Look, Mom, I've cleaned myself up”. It is true that he did it, but he did it by using his mother's provision.

The provision for our cleansing is the Word of God and the Holy SpiritThe blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin(1 John 1:7) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9)

This means we must begin to take seriously this matter of a break of fellowship with Christ because of an impatient spirit or an ugly word or a lustful idea or thought that we have dwelt on. We must realize the stain of it does not disappear with the passage of time. It has interfered with our fellowship with the Son of God, and we must do something about it. We cannot simply forget it; we must do something about it. We must purify ourselves using His provision, that we might be clean.

Prayer: Lord, teach me to purify myself using the means You have given to me to do it. Amen

Life Application: Thank God for simple soap that helps wash us clean when we are stinky, greasy or muddy! What is God's provision for purifying ourselves after we fall into the pit of sin?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Vertical to Horizontal Relationships

Today’s Text: Philippians 3:7-8

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.

Words of Devotion

We can often get caught up in the relationships of our lives.  They might be with a spouse or loved one, maybe a good friend, or even someone we disciple.  Should these relationships be the most important things to us?  

From the verse we have for today, probably not.  Our goal in life should be knowing Christ above everything and from there letting Jesus affect our relationships. In essence, we should first work on our vertical relationship and then let the love of that relationship influence the horizontal relationships we have with those around us. Here are a few questions for you to ask yourself as you meditate on this verse today:

  1. What would my life and ministry look like if I focused on my vertical relationship first and then learned to bend that vertical fruit of love to all of my horizontal relationships?

     2. Is the life I’m living, the family we’re growing, the relationships I’m building, and the ministry I’m starting all really about Jesus?

  3. Am I trying to pray God into my agenda and my plans or am I faithfully responding to who He is and what He’s doing?

     4. What if following God’s path leads to greater suffering and sacrifice than I anticipated- is Jesus worth that much to me?

    5. Is everything in my horizontal life the overflow of a vibrant vertical love relationship with Jesus?

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Living Word

Today’s Text: 1 John 2: 24-25

And this is what he promised us—even eternal life. (Vrs 25)

Words of Devotion

Most of us read the words eternal life as though they only apply to heaven in the future. Everlasting life, we call it, life that never ends. That is not inaccurate. Eternal life is life that never ends, but the essential factor about eternal life is not quantity, but quality. What John is speaking of here is not merely something we are going to get in heaven someday, but it is something we can experience and enjoy now. It is fullness of life, the full quality of divine life lived out in your situation, right now, and increasing in fullness of enjoyment forever. In other words, eternal life is the daily adventure of experiencing God's solution to every problem instead of your own. It is the discovery of God's program for every opportunity, instead of yours. Every time we are confronted with a problem, there are two things we can do.

In the weakness of our own intellect, relying upon our own human resources, we can try to work out the problem. When we do, the result is inevitably the same. Life dissipates into a drabness, a boredom, a routine that leaves us utterly uninterested and desiring to be uninvolved. That is our program.

Or we can have God's solution to any problem or any opportunity. In any situation we can say, Lord, You are in me, and You have come in me to live through me. This situation has been brought about by your planning and your programming. Father, I wouldn't be in it if it were not for you. Now, Lord, do through me what you want to do with it. Then we watch to see what God does, and we become instantly available to Him to move in whatever direction it looks like the situation demands. As we do, we discover that His program begins to unfold in that situation. Every obstacle becomes a glorious opportunity to display the fullness of glory, wisdom, and power that is in the God who has come to live and make His home within us.

I remember as a young Christian reading that great promise in Ephesians, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” ... (Ephesians 3:20). I remember looking at that verse and saying to myself, Is that really true? Does God really offer to do for me beyond that which I can ever ask or think at this moment? That's fantastic! I can ask a lot of life. I can dream and imagine a great many wonderful experiences that I would love to have, to bring satisfaction to my life and heart. I even had the program outlined in my mind, just how God could do it. But as I look back across these many years, I can see that God did not take my program and do it my way, but He has abundantly fulfilled the promise. My life is richer than I ever dreamed it would be when I was a young Christian.

If we are ready to give ourselves to the Word of God, to let it possess us, to understand it, and to obey it—if that which you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. The experience of that is eternal life!

Prayer: Father, grant to me, through all the feeble searching’s of my heart, the discovery of eternal life in my everyday experience.

Life Application: What is the daily adventure of experiencing God's solution to every problem instead of our own called? Are we willingly letting the living Word possess us each day?

Friday, May 11, 2012

No Gray Areas

Today’s Text: 1 John 2:20-22 lie comes from the truth (Vrs 21b)

Words of Devotion

Have you learned yet that no lie is of the truth, that there is no possible harmony between a lie and the truth? In other words, that there are no gray areas in life; that a thing is either black (a lie) or it is white (the truth), and there are no gray areas, though there may be a mingling of black with white. Every Christian has an ability to exercise moral judgment to distinguish right from wrong. It is amazing how many Christians have not learned this yet and still go on echoing the lie of the world, that there can be a blending of truth and error. John utterly cuts the ground out from under that. I wrote to you, he says, because you have found this out, if you know Jesus Christ. You may not have thought through the implications, but you must know that there is no possibility of blending a lie with the truth.

One of the glorious things about God's secret purpose, which is the restoring of the life of God to the spirit of man and this also reestablishes standards of absolute values and makes moral judgments possible. It shifts us from control by a conscience of convenience to control by a conscience of conviction. (the work of the Holy Spirit)These days we are hearing much about situational ethics, relativism in the realm of moral judgments. What are these? Example: If you cheat on an examination because you do not like the teacher, this would be wrong. But if you do it because you are desperate to get a good grade and there is no other way to do it—you have been letting the whole thing slide until exam time and there is no other way but to cheat, then, that is right.

But John says, No more! Now you know the one who is the truth, and you cannot get by so easily any more. Sooner or later you must explain your actions to Him, and all those wonderful excuses that went over so smoothly with your spouse or friends sound very lame when repeated to Him. He is totally unimpressed by them. He does not say anything; He simply folds His arms and looks at you. You start stammering, and pretty soon you stop, because, as John says, No lie comes from the truth, and you know that now.

Start to apply these things. Begin to examine the philosophies around you, the suggestions and explanations of life that are presented to you. Measure them according to the truth. Have you come to know the truth as it is in Jesus? Are you ready to listen to the Word of God, unfolded by the Spirit of God, in order that you might understand the world in which you live and the person who lives in it—you? Are you willing to understand how God made you, how He intends you to function, how He wants you to react to situations? 

Will you let Him teach you to depend no longer upon the false sense of ability that you have lived on all your life, but to renounce that and rely instead upon His life within? 

he says, because he knows the necessary equipment is there. Now use it!

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (JN 8:32)

Prayer: Father, help me to understand the truth as it is in Christ. Help me to turn from every siren voice that beckons me away from Him and to bring all the things I discover, all experiences, all reasoning’s, to Him. Amen

Life ApplicationExcuses we make can merely echo the lies of the world. Have we found the absolute truth as it is in Christ or do our excuses reveal gray areas where none should exist?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Your Open Line to God

Today’s Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Words of Devotion

On October 24, 1861, a telegraph line between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California, was completed, providing the first high-speed link between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States. This was part of the explosion of technology in the 19th century that changed the world in profound ways.

Previously, communications over such long distances could take days, weeks, or even months. But after the telegraph was completed, people suddenly could communicate across thousands of miles within a matter of minutes.

The existence of instant communications revolutionized the ways business, politics, and military operations were conducted. It also changed personal lives. Long distances no longer provided obstacles to communication.

Today, it’s easy to take instant communication and the resulting revolutions for granted. In our modern world, distances present no barriers. People of all ages and backgrounds have access to cell phones, text messages, email, and other media. We can easily communicate with people anywhere in the world.

Yet we too often forget that in the spiritual realm we have an even more important and more instantaneous communication link with Almighty God. With Him, we’re not separated by space or time. He always can hear our prayers. He does not “slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:3-4). Because He always is with us, we should “pray without ceasing”.

Remember: God is with you wherever you go and whatever you do. You can talk with Him anytime, day or night. You can talk about anything. You can describe your fears and anxieties. You can seek His direction and guidance. You can ask for revelation about His Word and develop a more intimate relationship with Him.

Make today a day to pray without ceasing. God is available and waiting to hear from you, right now.

Prayer: Father, I commit these situations to You: ___________. I desire to hear from You. I seek Your direction, wisdom, and peace. Thank You that I can call on You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Today’s Text: Matthew 3

“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
 (Vrs 1-2)

Words of Devotion

Repentance was so important that both John and Jesus began their ministry with the same message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2, 4:17). Repentance also was central to the disciples’ ministry, as they “went out and preached that men should repent” (Mark 6:12). Then, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter brought the same message…that his listeners should “repent” (Acts 2:38).

This emphasis on repentance is not accidental. Clearly, the Kingdom of Heaven opens after we “repent”. The Greek word here means to change our mind, to think differently. Jesus, John, and the early disciples agreed that we cannot be transformed by the Gospel unless we’re willing to change—unless we “repent”. 

To enter God’s Kingdom, we cannot continue as we have in the past. There needs to be a decisive, definitive change. This is not hazy hope or wishful thinking—we must genuinely be willing to go in a new direction. 

Without repentance, we will continue to focus on ourselves. Repentance helps us recognize our inadequacy, the weakness of our flesh, and our need for God. Without repentance, we’re blinded by our own pride and prejudice, and we continue to be self-centered. 

But as we “repent” and change, we understand more about God and His Kingdom. We experience more of the fullness of His blessings. We begin to flow more freely in the Spirit. We think His thoughts and are more in tune with His voice. We hunger to know His Word. Others around us may seek the temporary pleasures and treasures of this world, but we find unparalleled joy in serving Jesus and surrendering our lives to Him as our Lord and Savior. 

Today, remember the message of repentance. Seek to stay humble and clean before God.

Prayer: Father, it’s my desire to be clean in Your sight. Search my heart. Convict me of anything that displeases You. Help me to think Your thoughts and be pleasing to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Friday, May 4, 2012

Listening with Purpose

Today’s Text: 1 Samuel 3:1-10

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” (Vrs. 1-5a)

Words of Devotion

Yesterday we learned about spiritual discernment, and applying the Scriptures. Taking what we have read from head knowledge to our hearts with understanding. Now let’s think about approaching the Bible purposefully, expectantly, and prayerfully.

Christians study the Scriptures not just individually but also corporately to learn more about God and His ways. Underlying this simple concept is a big challenge. To gather biblical knowledge with purpose means determining in our heart to obey what we hear (Ps. 119:33). And to do so expectantly means we believe that the Lord is going to speak specifically to us (Ps. 25:4). Sermons, Sunday school lessons, and quiet times on our own are all things to be anticipated. God uses these to build us up, strengthen us, or offer us comfort—He certainly makes listening to Him worthwhile. And obedience is the only proper response to this kind of personal attention.

Approaching the reading of Scripture prayerfully prepares our hearts to listen well and ushers in an attitude of purpose and expectancy. Today’s passage tells the story of young Samuel’s first encounter with God. The priest Eli gives the boy valuable advice—that when the Lord calls, he should say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (v. 9). Pray those simple words with conviction before you open your Bible, and you will hear God more clearly.

If you want to experience God working in your life, come to Scripture with a prayerful, expectant, purpose-filled attitude. The mourner will be comforted. The weary will gain strength. Those convicted of their sin will repent and know peace. All will sense joy. Recognize what a gift God’s Word is.