Sunday, May 31, 2015

Seeing God In Your Circumstances

by Theodore Epp

Philippians 1: 12-21

The life of the indwelling Christ enabled Paul to be free from worry and self-care during his imprisonment, which could have led to death.

Paul was bold and unashamed and was concerned only that Christ would be magnified in his body regardless of what awaited him--life or death. There was no wavering on his part.

We tend to think that these tremendous qualities were true only of the great men of God, such as the Apostle Paul, but that it is impossible for us to attain them. Somehow satan blinds our eyes to the fact that we can have the same determination to glorify Christ in our lives that Paul had in his.

The same Christ indwells us, not only to give us the desire to glorify Him but also to enable us to have the boldness to carry out that desire.

Having told of his desire to please Christ in everything, whether through life or through death, Paul said, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21).

This was the basis for Paul's being able to live victoriously in Christ. He was not concerned about drawing attention to himself; rather, he wanted to glorify Jesus Christ in everything. All of Paul's life was focused on Jesus Christ.

It is good for each of us to weigh his or her activities and ask, "Are the things I am doing all done to further my own interests, or are they really glorifying Christ?"
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself up for me" (Gal. 2:20, NASB).

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Devoted to God

Having been saved by faith in Christ, we express our love and gratitude through devotion to Him. Regular Bible study and prayer will be an integral part of our daily lives. In addition, our commitment to the Lord will be revealed through a passion to obey, a spirit of humility, and a servant's heart.
  1. Obedience. David sought to obey God all his life. As a shepherd boy, he faithfully tended the animals in his father's fields. While king, he set aside his desire to build the temple and let Solomon lead the effort, as God had commanded. Although David lived imperfectly, his desire was to do what the Lord asked. We see from Jesus' words in John 14:15 that obedience should be our high priority as well: He said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."
  2. Humility. After David killed Goliath, the crowds shouted praise about the young man. However, he did not become prideful. Instead, he remained in King Saul's service and waited for God to make him the ruler of Israel. Even as king, he remained humble. He knew that what had been accomplished was because of the Lord's actions and not his own (2 Sam. 7:18).
  3. Service. Whether David was a lowly shepherd or a mighty king, his goal was to obey God and serve Him.
This man after God's own heart was devoted to his Lord. He sought to know Him and longed to carry out His will. David's actions reflected His humble attitude of servant hood and his longing to please his heavenly Father. Take steps each day to be sure your life expresses commitment to Jesus.

Friday, May 29, 2015

She Got What She Wanted

"Then she said to him, 'How can you say, "I love you," when you won't confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven't told me the secret of your great strength.' With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it." Judges 16:15-16 (NIV)
Although I should have been listening to every detail of my repair bill, the mechanic's voice faded as my own thoughts increased: Why did you have to have this car? Look at all this is going to cost you. You should have listened to Greg.
Years earlier, with our first baby on the way, I had in mind the exact car I wanted. Not wanting to waste time, I went to the car lot, picked out the "perfect" car and drove it to meet my husband, Greg.
He greeted me ... but not with the words I wanted to hear.
"Lynn, these cars don't have reputations for being dependable. I think we need to keep looking."
But I'd found the car I wanted and didn't need to hear any reason whatsoever as to why we shouldn't drive it home from the lot that day. Attempting to keep his young wife happy, my husband gave in to my request.
Now, here I was, standing in a repair shop, hearing my husband's sound judgment replaying in my mind: We need to keep looking. Unfortunately I had manipulated him to get what I wanted, and now I wished I hadn't.
I think Delilah might have felt the same way.
In Judges 16, we read of Samson's love for Delilah, and how she wanted to know the secret to his strength. She whined. She manipulated. Today's verse tells us, "With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it" (v. 16).
Eventually, her pestering and nagging worked: she got what she wanted, as Samson revealed his coveted secret.
I wonder what Delilah thought when she got what she wanted. Sadly Delilah shared the secret with Samson's enemies, who used the information to capture Samson, gouge out his eyes and throw him in prison. Might she have thought, "That's not what I wanted"?
Sometimes when we get what we want, we discover we didn't want it either.
Delilah got what she asked for, but not what she really wanted ... and it cost everything. Her relationship with Samson. Samson's freedom. And eventually, it even cost Samson his life.
Delilah knew the power of a woman's words — how if she just persisted she would eventually get what she wanted. She misused the power of influence God had given her.
At times, I've behaved just like Delilah, manipulating to get what I want.
When my child asks for permission and my words say, "You can choose," but later my attitude says, "I don't like the choice you made."
When my husband expresses his desire, but I manipulate for mine.
And when the fight with my child ends in tears or the meal with my husband is eaten in silence, like Delilah, I realize that what I've gotten isn't what I wanted.
It's hard to admit, but I've acted like Delilah.
How about you?
Ever found yourself pressing for what you think you want?
Take a moment. Think through this question when your emotions are spinning: Where will this end? A fight? Hurtful words? Debt? Resentment? Divorce? Estrangement?
We can learn a lot from Delilah. We can take a moment and ask ourselves: If I keep pushing, where will I end up?
Because maybe we can get what we want, but is that really what's best? Is it what God wants? Thankfully, we can stop and change our course while we still have time.
Lord, sometimes my emotions get so fueled. I don't realize I am being a Delilah until it is too late. The fight, and the ensuing silence, have already come. Holy Spirit, help me see when I am pressing and pushing for what I want. Empower me to stop and change my course before the consequences come. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Don't Judge?

Greg Laurie
Do you know what the nonbeliever's favorite verse is? It is Matthew 7:1: "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged." This verse is usually quoted after we say something like, "Well you know what? I don't think that is right."
This verse, however, is not telling us that we should not make judgments, because in other passages we read that as believers, we are indeed to make evaluations, to be discerning, and yes - to even make judgments. In fact, thebible asks, "Don't you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can't you decide even these little things among yourselves?" (1 Corinthians 6:2). We are also told in Scripture that "judgment must begin with God's household" (1 Peter 4:17).
We are to judge, but we are not to condemn. In fact, a better translation of Matthew 7:1 would be: "Do not condemn others, and you will not be condemned." I am in no position to condemn a person. But I am in a position to make judgments about things, situations, viewpoints, and even about people to some degree.
"Don't judge!" is said by people who don't like it when we dare to have a christian worldview. In fact, I have found that the most narrow-minded people are those who claim to be the most broad-minded. Those who claim to be the most accepting are often the least accepting. Because when a Christian has an opinion, a nonbeliever will say, "How dare you say that! Who are you to judge?"
There is a living God, and He has revealed himself in the pages of Scripture. Therefore, as believers, we accept the fact that we have absolute truth from God. And we develop our worldview from what the Bible teaches.
Taken from "The Nonbeliever's Favorite Verse" by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What Did Jesus Understand About His Own Miracles?

Verse: Luke 11:20

Jesus’ deeds—especially his miracles—offer additional insights into how Jesus viewed himself. It’s not the fact that Jesus performed miracles that illuminates his self-understanding (especially since his own disciples later performed miracles), but what’s important is how he interpreted his own miracles.

Jesus said, “If I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20). He’s not like other miracle workers who do amazing things and then life proceeds as it always has. No—to Jesus, his miracles were a sign indicating the coming of the kingdom of God. They were a foretaste of what the kingdom is going to be like. And that sets Jesus apart.

Jesus saw his miracles as bringing about something unprecedented—the coming of God’s dominion. He didn't merely see himself as a worker of miracles; he saw himself as the one in whom and through whom the promises of God come to pass. That’s a not-too-thinly-veiled claim of transcendence.

— Adapted from interview with Dr. Ben Witherington III

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Guilt Can be Good for You

By Skip Heitzig
Have you noticed that people will do almost anything to avoid the feeling of guilt? Just think of the many “guilt-free” foods available at your local supermarket. Webster’s Dictionary defines guilt as having committed a breach of conduct, something violating law and involving a penalty. To modern society guilt is passé, puritanical, inhibiting, and downright cruel. But the Bible teaches that guilt can be good for you. Let’s look at how King David’s guilt did him a world of good.

In Psalm 51 David was in the depths of despair. You know the story; David committed adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. Then he made matters worse by sending Uriah to the front line of battle where he was sure to be slain. The prophet Nathan confronted David with his actions and David finally admitted to God: “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4). Yes, David sinned against Uriah by taking his wife and sending him to his death. He also sinned against Bathsheba by luring her into an adulterous relationship. But at the bottom of the blackness of sin is rebellion against God Himself.
In Psalm 32, David explained the blessings he had experienced when he confessed his sin: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Psalm 32:1-2). Here David used three words to describe what God is willing to do when we confess our sin:

1) Forgiven means to lift up, like lifting a burden, or to take away. In other words, God carries it away. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

2) Covered means to conceal or hide from sight. This means that our sins are invisible! How is this possible? The book of Revelation tells us that Jesus “loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Revelation 1:5). Our sins are covered with Christ’s precious blood.

3) Not impute is a bookkeeping term meaning that God does not place sin into our account. In other words, God cancels the debt of our sin. Paul put it this way: “What joy for those whose sin is no longer counted against them by the Lord” (Romans 4:8 NLT).

Despite society’s willingness to overlook wrongdoing, are you still feeling guilty? God wants to use that for your good. Regardless of the sin you’ve committed, God wants to forgive you. When you ask Him for forgiveness, you’ll experience the joy and freedom that comes from His plan for guilt-free living through faith in Jesus Christ.

Copyright © 2014 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Inquire Of HIM First

Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, "A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar" (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. - 2 Chronicles 20:2-4 

Think about one difficulty you are facing right now. It might have to do with your family, your finances, conflicts at work or even an accident you recently had. All these things can be considered as armies coming against you. I know from personal experience that any circumstance that has overpowered me is an army coming against me. I might come up with my own schemes and plans, but nothing I do is going to fix it. In desperation and anxiety, I cry out to the Lord.

Crying out to the Lord as a last resort is a lot different than "resolving to inquire of the Lord" from the start (as Jehoshaphat did). God honored Jehoshaphat's prayer and then he honored the Lord by singing praises to God before the battle even began.

Circumstances are difficult in life. Many times, we wonder what is really going on and why is the Lord allowing this to happen? All the Lord wants is for you to include Him. Circumstances can be hard but His answers to your prayers are not. Go to God today first. Tell Him, "Lord, I don't know what to do but I am looking to You." He not only hears, sees and answers, but He assures the victory. 

Our mission is to evangelize the lost and awaken the saved to live empowered lives by the Work of God and His Holy Spirit. Daily Disciples Ministries makes a difference for the kingdom of God by teaching and training believers how to be in God's Word, how to pray and how to walk with Jesus every day, as His daily disciple.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Supreme Act of Faith

by Pastor Greg Laurie

Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did. - (Genesis 6:22)

Noah’s decision to build an ark required a supreme act of faith. There was no body of water nearby. In fact, it had never rained on Earth before. At that time, God had placed a water canopy over the planet that created a greenhouse effect of sorts. So in one of the greatest acts of faith in human history, Noah cut down his first gopher tree to start building the ark.

It was such a bold act of faith that Noah was memorialized in Hebrews 11, known as the Hall of Faith: “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (verse 7).

This verse gives us a number of important insights into what made Noah tick. First of all, we read that he was “divinely warned.” God spoke to Noah. Romans 10:17 says that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Your faith will grow when you read what the Bible says and then take the next step and put it into action.

We also read that Noah “moved with godly fear.” Noah had a reverence for, or a fear of, the Lord. And a good definition I have heard for the fear of the Lord is “a wholesome dread of displeasing Him.”

Noah’s walk with God caused him to work for God. And one must always precede the other. If you walk with God, you will want to work for God. Works don’t save you; faith does. But if your faith is real, then it will produce works. That is how Noah’s faith worked when God told him to build the ark.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


"O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him." - Psalm 34:8
Do you remember taking medicine when you were a kid? I’m not sure how children’s medicine tastes now, but back in the day when I was a kid, most of it tasted awful! As kids we didn’t know what was worse, the sickness or the medicine? The bottom line was no matter how terrible the medicine may have tasted, it was necessary to get us well.
Did you know that many people view Bible Study, prayer, worship, and walking with God much like bad-tasting medicine? They know they need it, but they don’t really enjoy it. They just hold their nose, so to speak, to get it down. How sad! How twisted!
The Christian life is not bad-tasting medicine. The Christian life is a great-tasting feast! It is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment walk with the glorious, gracious King of the universe. It is an exciting adventure with the God who calls us to get out of the boat and walk on the water with Him. It is a life filled with love, joy, peace, acceptance, meaning, and fulfillment. It is the most wonderful life of all. Think about it: what could be better than having a genuine, personal, loving relationship with the God who spoke the worlds into existence?
Be totally honest for a moment. Are you enjoying your relationship with God? Are you feasting on His goodness? Are you really walking with the King? If you are not quite sure, there is an easy way to tell. Are joy and peace in your heart right now? You see, when Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is truly allowed to sit on the throne of your life, then your life is filled with His peace and joy, regardless of the present circumstances. Granted, you may be suffering with sickness, heartache, or pain today. David wrote Psalm 34 from the dark and lonely cave of Adullam. I certainly understand that circumstances can be very difficult at times, but there is a peace that passes understanding when you are yielded to the Lord.
Perhaps you have believed the lie that a life lived for Jesus Christ is a second-rate life, devoid of fun and excitement. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Scripture says, “O taste and see that the LORD is good” (Ps 34:8). God invites you to take a true taste of what it means to walk with Jesus. He came to this earth that we might have life, abundant and overflowing (see John 10:10). If that doesn’t describe your life today, then yield to Jesus anew and afresh. Take a taste of the real thing, and see for yourself that the LORD is good, and He blesses those who walk with Him!
Pastor Jeff Schreve,
From His Heart Ministries 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Yes You May—Desires of Your Heart

Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 

Dr. Joseph Sizoo was a Washington D.C. pastor whose parishioners included Robert Todd Lincoln, the eldest son of Abraham Lincoln. One day Sizoo was allowed to handle the late president’s Bible. It was the Bible from which Lincoln’s mother read to him and was the only possession he carried with him from childhood. “Book in my hand,” recalled Sizoo, “I wondered where it would fall open. It opened to a page which was thumb marked and which he must have read many times. It was the thirty-seventh Psalm.”1

How wonderful if our Bibles would turn automatically to Psalm 37. This passage tells us not to fret nor be envious. Rather trust in the Lord and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Is this true? Absolutely. But remember—delighting in the Lord changes our desires. When we delight in Him, we begin desiring what He desires for us. And having planted those desires in our hearts, the Lord is then only too happy to fulfill them.

Only as we truly delight in God is it safe to give us our desires, for then they are not likely to become idols.

John Eldredge, in The Journey of Desire

Thursday, May 21, 2015

In Prison

Are you in prison? You are if you feel better when you have more and worse when you have less. If happiness is one delivery away…you are in prison—the prison of want! That’s the bad news. The good news is, you have a visitor. Look across the visiting table at the psalmist, David. He whispers, I have a secret to tell you, the secret of satisfaction. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” It’s as if David is saying what I have in God is greater than what I don’t have in life.

Contentment comes when we can honestly say with Paul, “I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have. I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty.” You think you and I could learn to say the same?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Christian’s Three Enemies

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. - (James 1:14–15)

I don’t know why people become perplexed as to why they fall into sin when they hang around places where they are vulnerable. Let’s say that someone is struggling with drinking and then suddenly falls off the wagon, so to speak. So a friend asks, “Where were you?”

“Well, I was at a bar.”

“Why would you go hang out in a bar when you have a problem with this?”

“Well, they have a nice big-screen TV. I really like to watch the game there, and they also have the best chicken wings ever.”

People will put themselves in a place of vulnerability and then are shocked when they fall.

That is how it started for Eve when she ate from the only tree that God had forbidden. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time, listening to the wrong voice, which led her to do the wrong thing.

Eve had access to all of the Garden of Eden to discover and enjoy it. But where was she? She was hanging around in the one place God told her to stay away from. Genesis 3:6 tells us, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (NKJV).

As you look at that verse, it is a foundational statement about the origin of all temptation. As Christians, we basically have three enemies that we face on a daily basis: the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world, with its allure, is the external foe. The flesh, with its evil desires, is the internal foe. The devil, with his enticements, is the infernal foe.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Looking Like A Christian

By Alan Smith
A little old Jewish lady is flying out of New York City on her way to Miami Beach. She looks at the businessman sitting next to her and asks him, "Excuse me sir, but are you Jewish?" 

The man responds politely, "No, ma'am, I'm not Jewish." 

After a little while, she again asks him. "You're really Jewish, aren't you?" 

Again he responds, "No, ma'am, I am not Jewish." 

Barely 10 minutes later, the little old lady asks him once more, "Are you sure you're not Jewish?" 

Finally, in exasperation and in a final effort to shut her up, he replies, "OK. Yes, ma'am, I am Jewish." 

"Funny," she says, looking puzzled. "You don't look Jewish!"
Makes me wonder. If anyone approached me and asked me, "Are you a Christian?" and I answered, "Yes", would they be inclined to say, "Funny, you don't look like a Christian"? 

I'm not talking about looking like the world's stereotype of a Christian -- a sour-looking guy with a scowl on his face, not enjoying life at all. I merely wonder if my Christianity is something that can be seen by the people who see me every day. I know what I believe, but is that belief translating into action? Can anyone tell? 

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16) 

Do you look like a Christian?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Change of Heart

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. —1 PETER 4:8

The first time I cheated on a test, it was easy," Marilyn recalls. "The cheating itself, that is. But after I walked out of the classroom, I felt terrible. All I could think was, I've disappointed my favorite teacher. Then the test grades came out, and it felt great to be at the head of the class. So I did it again. And again.

"Somewhere near the end of that semester, the guilt got to be too much. I went over to Mrs. Marlow's desk, and before I could say anything, I burst into tears. She put her arms around me. I kept saying, ‘You don't understand,' because of course she wouldn't be comforting me if she knew what I'd done. I told her everything. The worst part was the look of sadness on her face as she listened.

"When I finished talking, she looked me in the eyes and said, ‘Marilyn, I forgive you. I'm glad you were able to tell me.'

"I received a C in physics that semester, after working hard with Mrs. Marlow after school and retaking the exams. Even with all that studying, I don't remember much about physics. I do remember how much Mrs. Marlow's forgiveness meant to me. When I became a Christian years later, I looked back at that moment as an important step toward realizing the forgiveness of Christ. Mrs. Marlow never knew what a difference her love made in my life. But she helped me see just how powerful words of forgiveness can be."


When has someone offering you their forgiveness made a difference in your life later on?

Dr. Gary Chapman

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Following Him

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 16; Luke 22:47-71

And Elijah came to all the people, and said, "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people answered him not a word. 1 Kings 18:21

Do you ever find yourself faltering between two opinions? Have you ever felt torn between decisions and not sure of what to do? Maybe we get torn sometimes because we are focusing more on the what, than on the Who. Whether we want to admit it, everything comes down to a choice. We must choose between who, what and how almost everyday of our lives. The Bible makes it clear that we are to choose whom we will follow. There really is no middle road.

The problem lies in the fact that we do not like to think of ourselves as choosing to follow a false god, like Baal. But when we turn from following the Lord, we are turning to follow something else. We get caught up in life’s activities and look for God only when we need Him. Did we just choose those activities over the Lord? Probably so. How do we make sure that we choose God first in everything?

We must make the Lord our priority everyday. We must start our day with Him, praying about our schedules, asking for His guidance, reading His word for instruction, and worshiping Him with grateful hearts. We must learn to practice these things every day.

If we put these actions into practice, then we will find ourselves following God, without faltering. God knows our hearts and He wants us to want Him more than anything else. He wants us to stop choosing the what in our lives and start choosing the Who, Jesus Christ. Start your day with the Lord and ask Him to guide you. Beware of choosing to serve the false gods of this world. The Lord will help you if you just ask Him.

Our mission is to evangelize the lost and awaken the saved to live empowered lives by the Work of God and His Holy Spirit. Daily Disciples Ministries makes a difference for the kingdom of God by teaching and training believers how to be in God's Word, how to pray and how to walk with Jesus every day, as His daily disciple.

Daily Disciples Ministries, Inc.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Presumption versus faith

For reading & meditation: Psalms 37:1-26
  "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him '" (v.7)
We look now at God's second purpose for money: to confirm His loving direction in our lives. God will use the supply of money or the lack of it to confirm His direction and guidance for many of the decisions we make in our lives. I constantly meet Christians who tell me that one of the biggest lessons they have learned in the Christian life is that of discerning God's guidance through His giving or His withholding of money. Some years ago, a minister shared with me how he had asked God to guide him over a certain project, and part of his prayer, he said, went like this: "Lord, give me the money to do this, or else it just cannot be done." The money didn't come, so the minister went ahead and borrowed money for the project. A few weeks later, the project got into difficulties and he was declared bankrupt. I said to him: "Do you know what made you go ahead even though God did not provide the money?" He paused for a few minutes, and said with tears in his eyes: "I had not then learned the difference between presumption and faith." "What is the difference?" I asked. He replied: "Faith is trusting God to achieve His purposes through us, presumption is deciding what we want to accomplish and trying to get God to do it for us." It is so easy to claim that Christ is Lord of our lives, but, as someone put it: "His Lordship is only confirmed when we are obedient to the promptings and limitations which He places on our daily decisions."
My Lord and my God, You know my proneness to "nudge" You when I don't think You are working things out right. Make me sensitive to the promptings of Your Spirit and the limitations that You set upon my life. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.

For further study:
1. How can we know God?
2. How much time will you spend waiting on Him today?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Lamb of God

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6, NIV)

“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NIV)

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24, NIV), but His sin-bearing did not begin on Golgotha.

As He emptied Himself of all that made Him equal to the Father (Philippians 2:5-8), He was taking our sins upon Himself.

John the Baptist introduced Jesus as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, NIV), not at the end of His ministry, but at its very beginning. The first public act of this sinless One was to humble Himself, line up with sinners, and symbolically die beneath the waters of the Jordan. There, from day one, He bore our sins.

For forty days He faced extreme deprivation and temptation in the wilderness, all that we might have a high priest…who has been tempted in every way, just as we are…that he might make atonement for the sins of the people  (Hebrews 4:15; 2:17, NIV).

Throughout His ministry He bore all the fruits of our sin. Homelessness, rejection, hatred, poverty, and persecution were His daily experience. He took upon Himself the needs of the thousands that flocked to Him—their ignorance, disease, demon possession, grief, and hunger.

Finally, He laid down His life before those who hated Him and thirsted for His blood. He silently surrendered Himself to their humiliation, torture, and cruel execution.

But this was only the culmination of His self-sacrifice. He bore our sins, not for a few hours, but for His entire holy life.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

One reason why the church has so little influence over the world

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind!" Romans 12:2

I believe that one reason why the church has so little influence over the world--is because the world has so much influence over the church!

It is overwhelming to see the growing worldliness of the visible church. Many professed Christians--the Lord alone knows whether they are true believers or not--give us grave cause for apprehension. We see them tolerating practices which would not have been endured by their fathers; my blood chills when I think of how far some fashionable professors go astray!

When the Church descends to the world's level, her spiritual power is gone. Jesus said, "Preach the gospel to every creature!" But men are getting tired of the divine plan; they are going to be saved by the music, or by the theatricals, or by the amusements! Well, they may try these things as long as ever they like; but nothing can ever come of the whole thing, but utter disappointment and confusion: God is dishonored, the gospel is travestied, hypocrites are manufactured by thousands, and the church is dragged down to the level of the world!

"The world has absorbed the Church, and the church was content that it should be so!" (Horatius Bonar)

"Conformity to the world, in all ages, has proved the ruin of the church!"  (Rowland Hill)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Forgiveness Cycle

And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation. (Luke 11:4)

Who forgives whom first?

• “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” ( Luke 11:4) • “As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” ( Colossians 3:13)

When Jesus teaches us to pray that God forgive us “for we ourselves forgive,” he is not saying that the first move in forgiveness was our move. Rather, it goes like this: God forgave us when we believed in Christ ( Acts 10:43). Then, from this broken, joyful, grateful, hopeful, experience of being forgiven, we offer forgiveness to others.

This signifies that we have been savingly forgiven. That is, our forgiving others shows that we have faith; we are united to Christ; we are indwelt by the Spirit.

But we still sin ( 1 John 1:8, 10). So we still turn to God for fresh applications of the work of Christ on our behalf — fresh applications of forgiveness. We cannot do this with any confidence if we are harboring an unforgiving spirit (Matthew 18:23–35).

That’s why Jesus says we ask for forgiveness because we are forgiving. This is like saying: “Father, continue to extend to me the mercies purchased by Christ because by these mercies I forsake vengeance and extend to others what you have extended to me.”

May you know God’s forgiveness afresh today, and may that grace overflow in your heart in forgiveness toward others.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Acts 4:29-31

Acts 4:29-31 (NIV) 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Peter and John were warned by the hardhearted religious leaders not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. Peter’s bold response was that they had to obey God. When they gathered with the other believers, they reported what the religious leaders had told them.

They lifted their voices together in prayer and asked God to consider the threats against them. They asked for great boldness to continue in the face of those threats. Jesus’ last words had sent them out into the world to teach and preach the good news. They asked for healings, signs and wonders to be performed through the name of Jesus to fulfill Jesus’ instructions.

After the prayer, their meeting place was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. The fear was gone. They spoke boldly. These were some of the same people that were filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. We see that God can refill us when we face fear or feel defeated. They recognized the need for the empowerment to continue in the face of threats and prayed according to the will of God. God answers that kind of prayer.

Is something keeping your from obeying Jesus? Have threats or discouragement or even defeat robbed you of that fullness you once had? Ask again! Ask in His name and for His sake, and expect God to answer.

Remember: He pours the Holy Spirit out and fills us up when we ask according to His will, in obedience to His word.

Monday, May 11, 2015

1 Chronicles 11:9

1 Chronicles 11:9 (NIV)9 And David became more and more powerful, because the LORD Almighty was with him.
In this summary of the reign of David we are reminded why he continually increased in power. The LORD Almighty was with him. God is all-powerful, and all power comes from Him and returns to Him. Several other passages in Scripture remind us of this spiritual truth. When God is with you, there is increase. Psalms 84:7 (NIV) 7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV) 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
The increase in your life will not be in the ways the world counts increase. David’s increase in strength was influence for the Kingdom of God. We find much of our musical heritage goes back to David and his instruments and positions he appointed at the Tent of worship. The Psalms of David have inspired and comforted millions. The world can’t see an increase in glory, but your brothers and sisters in the LORD can. This increase is an increase in eternal substance, not in temporal passing things. It is the most valuable type of increase, for it is eternal.

We run after all kinds of other increase in the world, but the heart that is after God will seek the increase that comes from the presence of the LORD Almighty.

Consider: Is that the kind of increase you are seeking? It is the only kind worth seeking.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

How Long, O LORD?

By Bonnie Ricks
Psalm 13 NIV

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.
Oh, how easily we can relate to David's feelings! "How long, O Lord?" How often does it seem that God has us "on hold," taking forever to respond to our prayers. so very slow in acting on our behalf. allowing evil to go unchecked. bills to go unpaid. pain to go on and on. loneliness to continue unceasingly. life to continue to be frustrating?
Take a look at the number of people in the Bible who had to wait YEARS for God's promises to come true. Look at Abraham. he was 75 years old when God first told him, "I will make you into a great nation." (Genesis 12:2 NIV), but there he was with a barren wife, and already well past his prime. Twenty-five years later Isaac was finally born! What a wait!

Remember, God does not wear a watch, nor does He pay attention to our calendar. He exists outside of time and space, and He causes things to happen in HIS time according to HIS eternal purpose. But even though we know that, we can become frustrated while waiting for God's promises to be fulfilled. I can remember one particular promise God made to me through His word, and it took five months for Him to begin to fulfill that promise, and He is still fulfilling it today, sixteen years later, one step at a time.

When we feel the same feelings that David expressed in this Psalm, we must also emulate David's commitment - to continue to trust in God's unfailing love for us. to rejoice in His salvation in the midst of our pain. to sing praises to God. to remember how good He has been to us already. to seek His purpose in our lives. and to continue to live for Him, no matter how slow He seems to be to act.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 NIV

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Psalm 77:1-3, 16-20

By Kerry Nelson
“I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, that he may hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. I think of God, and I moan; I meditate, and my spirit faints….When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; the very deep trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies thundered; your arrows flashed on every side. The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook. Your way was through the sea, your path, through the mighty waters; yet your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” Psalm 77:1-3, 16-20 

Two of the oldest sermon illustrations in the book begin our devotions this morning.

The first: He came across a beach covered with stranded starfish. In the distance he saw an old man picking up starfish, one at a time, and throwing it back into the sea. “What are you doing, old man?” he laughed. “What difference can you possibly make?”

“All the difference in the world to this one,” said the old man as he rescued yet another starfish.”

And the second: The man prayed from the rooftop for God to rescue him. He turned back a jeep, a boat and a helicopter because he kept waiting for his miracle.

As we conclude this week, we begin to learn the lessons that Katrina is teaching. We have all, no doubt, been hearing amazing stories of individuals and organizations who have taken personal responsibility to do their part in being helpful. Children have raised money in many creative ways. People have opened their hearts, homes, churches and community centers to welcome the stranded.

One life at a time, one problem at a time, one challenge at a time, the rebuilding process has already begun. It will continue for a long time.

At the same time, we have come to realize the vast disparity among the victims. Those with means will do OK. They had transportation to get out and insurance to cover their losses. The hardest hit were those with nothing. The desperate conditions faced by poor hurricane victims are not all that different from the desperate conditions that the poor face every day.

Whether it was cold calculation or not, the truth is emerging that it was the poorest of the poor, the elderly and the infirm, who were left out of the emergency planning and among the last to be adequately cared for in the face of what everyone knew was the inevitable storm that would hit the Gulf Coast.

There is much talk now about personal responsibility. People taking personal responsibility for their own lives. People taking responsibility for their behaviors, their choices, their willingness to do what it takes to make it. People in elected offices taking personal responsibility for the roles they play. Government at every level reconsidering how disparate decisions can carry unintended consequences.

God led people through the water under the leadership of Moses – but that took Moses’ leadership and the willingness of the people to follow!

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, as the rescues give way to rebuilding, we continue to pray for the victims of Katrina and for those doing all they can to be helpful. We pray that you teach us what we need to learn and give us the willingness to learn those lessons well. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Friday, May 8, 2015

People Are Lost without Christ!

. . . Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39
Have you ever been lost? Being separated from the people you're with, even for a few minutes, is scary! There's another way a person can be "lost." People who never receive Jesus Christ as their Savior are lost in sin. Because they are sinners, they are separated from God forever.

People who are lost are not part of God's family. They don't have God's peace when things go wrong. They never feel the joy God gives to His children. They don't have the assurance that God will answer their prayers.

When lost people die, they are separated forever from God. They will never be able to be with God in the beautiful place called Heaven that He has prepared for those who love Him. Instead, they will go to a terrible place of suffering and punishment called Hell.

People who have never trusted the Lord Jesus as their Savior may not know they are lost. That's why it's important for you, as a Christian, to tell them that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven. Jesus said, " . . . No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Is there someone you can talk to about Jesus this week?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Listening to God

By David Muyskens
Read: 1 Samuel 3:4-10

"Speak, for your servant is listening." (v. 10)
The word for prayer in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, means to open oneself to God. In prayer I enter a relationship in which I am attentive to God, listening as well as speaking.
If I truly want to pray I need to do some listening to what God is saying to me. Reading the Bible is a way of doing that. I ask God, "What is it that you want to say to me?" As I approach the Bible with that request I am attentive to a word or phrase that seems to carry something that demands my attention. I am not trying to comprehend all that is said in the text. I am paying attention to a word that resonates in me.

When I receive that word I spend some time asking, "What does this mean for me? What am I being told? How does this apply to my life?"

Then I form my words of response. It may be in thanksgiving for what I have heard. It may be a petition for help in following what is indicated.

Finally, I let the word I have received sink deep into my heart. I give some time of silence to this. Then I can take that word with me for the day. Listening prayer isn't easy, just richly rewarding.

Prayer: Help us, Triune God, to listen attentively to your word for us. Amen.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Landmine of Fear

By Charles Stanley
Psalm 27:1-4
Fear has been a part of our emotional makeup since the fall of man. When Adam and Eve rebelled against the Lord, they hid themselves from Him and were afraid as recorded in Genesis 3:10.

Things haven’t changed much. Anxiety often affects our thinking. It controls our actions. Anxiety can keep us boxed in and unwilling to go into unknown territory.

Let the truth help you defeat fear. God is Almighty. Through the Savior’s perfect life and his sacrifice on the cross, our two greatest enemies have been defeated, Satan and death. Jesus set us free from slavery to sin. The Devil has lost control over our lives. What’s more, we no longer face eternal separation from God. Jesus’ physical death has become the gateway to heaven, where we can live with the Father forever.

God is always with us. God called Abraham to move away from all that was familiar. But God promised to remain nearby. In Matthew 28:20, we’re similarly reassured by Jesus. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we as believers have God not only near us but also in us. Nothing can ever separate us from Him. That includes past mistakes, present circumstances, or difficult people.

God is actively involved. God promises His help. He always keeps His word. God knows what is happening in our lives. He can turn hardships into a time of spiritual growth and ultimate blessing.

God Himself is the reason we should not be afraid. Grasp the truth of His power, presence, and involvement. We should use them to disarm the landmine of fear.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Devil is Selling Lemons

By Ed Wrather
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. - 1 Peter 5:5-11.
Have you ever bought a car that was a lemon? Wikipedia gives this definition for an automobile that is a lemon: "A lemon is a defective car that, when purchased new or used, is found by the purchaser to have numerous or severe defects not readily apparent before the purchase. Any vehicle with these issues can be termed a 'lemon,' and, by extension, any product which has major flaws that render it unfit for its purpose can be described as a 'lemon'."
I did once buy a used car that was a "lemon" and it was not a pleasant experience. The car was for my oldest son and on the outside it was beautiful, however, I failed to inspect it sufficiently. It was raining on the day we purchased the car and so I did not crawl underneath of the vehicle. If I had crawled under it I would have seen that the car had been in a severe accident. Later I found out that it had been totaled and sold for salvage or junk. Someone had bought it and rebuilt it enough for it to pass as a desirable vehicle.

This car was at the mechanics too many times to remember. I thought that eventually we could replace and repair what was wrong with it. We had too much money in it to just give up or at least that was what I was thinking. After sinking several thousand dollars more into the car a service manager told me that if it was his car he would get rid of it. Why? Because it was a "lemon" and it would never be a good car and it would always have problems. Now he tells me, right!

That old devil is constantly trying to sell us some things too. They all look good on the outside but if we look at them closely we will see that they are lemons. What harm will one snort of cocaine do? Ask the person who drops dead from a heart attack. What harm will a few minutes with a prostitute do? Ask the man who contracted HIV. What harm will a little gambling do? Ask the person who develops an addiction and loses their family.

Before we buy what the devil's selling we ought to crawl underneath and take a good long look. Submit yourself to God's will in every area of your life and resist the devil - the Lord will "exalt you in due time."

Monday, May 4, 2015

Who's Your Boss?

Colossians 3:23-25
Bob closed his door, threw himself on his bed, and pounded his fist into his pillow again and again. "It's not fair!" he growled out loud. "I use a few words that Dad says all the time, and I get sent to my room! No one punishes him."
"What do you say we have another break?" asked a loud voice. Startled, Bob glanced out his open window. Three men were working on the road in front of his house.

"Good idea," answered the tallest one, and two of the men walked to a nearby tree and flopped down in the shade. The third, a dark-haired man, kept working. Soon one of the others came back and tried to persuade him to join them.

The dark-haired man shook his head. "No, Pete. I've already had my break this afternoon," he said as he pushed his shovel.

"Haven't we all?" replied the other man. "So what's to keep us from taking another one? Harry's gone for the day, so who's to know or care? Besides, George over there has been with the company a long time-way longer than us, so he's kinda like our boss now that Harry left."

"Well, Mr. Grant wants this job finished today, and we'll have to push to get it done," replied the third man.

The other one laughed. "You're crazy to turn down a chance to loaf on the job-especially when the boss does."

"Maybe you think it's foolish," the dark-haired man said, "but I wouldn't feel right taking what isn't mine-time or anything else. Besides, I work for Mr. Grant. He's the real boss on this job."

Wow! That guy's really honest! Bob thought as he turned from the window. He keeps working even when the other guys set a bad example for him. I . . . I guess I shouldn't follow bad examples, either. I'm a Christian, and-like my Sunday school verse said-I'm supposed to be serving God. I guess it's like He's my boss, so . . . well, even though my own dad uses bad words, I should do what God wants. He sighed. I'll have to apologize to Mom, too. Then a new thought came to his mind. Instead of following Dad's example in this, I should be an example to him if he's ever going to accept Jesus like I have.

How About You?
What kind of example do you set? Perhaps people you love and generally respect set poor examples for you. You may hear them say bad words or see them cheat or do other things that are not right. When that happens, it's probably hard for you to do what you should. But if you're a Christian, you serve Christ. Do and say what He approves of, not what others are doing or saying-even if they're parents, teachers, or other adults. Set a good example for anyone who may be watching you.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Key To Controlling Chaos In Our Culture

Jack Graham

Unless the LORD builds the house,
            those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
           the watchman stays awake in vain.

Years ago, Newsweek magazine printed an article about the many problems in our society. And one of the conclusions of the article was: “There is a high correlation between disrupted homes and just about every social problem imaginable.”

I remember reading that article, putting the magazine down, and thinking, “Wow… what a well-researched, thoughtful, and utterly biblical conclusion!” Newsweek was exactly right. If the home is not in line, then there is going to be chaos.
The home isn't just a dwelling where people go to eat and sleep. It's a place where lessons should be taught, love given and received, and Jesus exalted. That’s the biblical model for the home – and it’s one that has been proven to be a tremendous benefit to society.

Any attack on the home is an attack on the very foundations of our society and our way of life. That’s because the home is an establishment created by God with the divine imperative to live in relationship with Him and train the next generation to do the same. So stand for the family and help fight chaos and broken lives!


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Just Throw the Net

Greg Laurie
He brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” - (Acts 16:30)

Many of us are afraid, for one simple reason, to ask someone if they would like to give their life to Jesus Christ. We’re afraid the answer will be no. And it just may be. But there are those wonderful times when someone will surprise you and say, “Tell me more” or maybe even, “I want to give my life to Jesus Christ.”

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to be reunited with my father, Oscar Laurie, the man who adopted me. My mother had divorced him when I was a young boy, and that was the last time I had seen him. Years later, when I had an opportunity to preach on the East Coast, he invited our family to stay at his house for the weekend.

After dinner one night, his wife said, “Greg, tell me about how you came to put your faith in Jesus Christ.” As I shared my testimony and what Christ had done for me, my dad sat there listening with his hands folded. I thought, He’s not buying this at all. But later that night, he asked me to go walking with him the next morning.

As we walked out into the cold morning air, he said, “I was listening to what you said last night. I want to know what I need to do to give my life to Jesus Christ.” He made a commitment to Christ that day, and he faithfully served the Lord for the remaining fifteen years of his life.

Sometimes when you share your faith, you don’t think you’re getting through. But you never know. That is why we need to simply throw out the net, so to speak. We need to give people the opportunity.

Friday, May 1, 2015

On Getting Older

By David Jeremiah, 

In his book, Coming Home, James Dobson notes that Immanuel Kant wrote one of his most famous philosophical works at age seventy-four; Verdi was still composing when he was eighty-five. When he completed The Pieta, his greatest work of art, Michelangelo was eighty-seven; and Ronald Reagan was the most powerful man in the world as president of the United States at age seventy-five. Instead of sixty-five being the presumed age for retirement, it ought to be seen as the age when a lifetime of learning is focused on new achievement.

Consider the following biblical figures over the age of eighty who were still going strong: Abraham becoming a father and raising his son Isaac; Moses and Aaron leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and to the Promised Land. ... The fact is, the older we get, the more accumulated wisdom and perspective we should have to bring to bear on new goals. Regardless of your age, consider replacing "retirement" with "transition" in your vocabulary. See life as a continual process of moving from one accomplishment to the next with God as your guide.

Yes, age is a small part of growing old, but attitude is the largest.

Today's Thought:
"All God's giants have been weak men, who did great things for God because they reckoned on His being with them..."
- James Hudson Taylor