Letting God Choose 05/04/2010
We may have secret longings too deep to utter to others—perhaps a desire for marriage, or a work or ministry we’d like to perform, or a special place to serve. We must put each desire in God’s hands and pray, “Lord, You must choose for me. I will not choose for myself.”
Genesis 13:10-11 tells us that Lot made his own choice about a desire he had. He “lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere . . . like the garden of the Lord . . . . Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan.”
The plain of Jordan, with its rich soil and copious water supply, looked best to Lot. But the land was polluted with wickedness (v.13). Pastor Ray Stedman wrote that “Lot, presuming to run his own life, ‘chose for himself,’ and, deceived by what he saw, stumbled blindly into heartache and judgment. Abram, on the other hand, was content to let God choose for him. . . . Abram saw it in its true light.” Lot chose for himself and lost everything—his family, his fortune, his favor with man.
It is always the best course for us to let God choose and to follow His direction, knowing as we do that all our heavenly Father’s choices are prompted by infinite wisdom and love. — David H. Roper
Long ago I made my life’s decision
To serve the Lord and have Him choose my way;
And when I’ve felt uncertain at a crossroad,
He’s never failed to lead me day by day. —Hess
Eliana Level 05/02/2010
“Do this in remembrance of Me.”
My wife babysits for our young granddaughter Eliana during the school year while her mom teaches. We do many things to make her feel at home. For example, we put pictures of her and her parents on our refrigerator at “Eliana level.: That way she can see them or carry them around with her during the day. We want her to think of her mom and dad often throughout the day.
Why do this? Is there a chance she would forget them? Of course not. But it is comforting for her to have an ongoing remembrance of them.
Now think about this. Before Jesus was crucified, He created a remembrance of Himself. He told His disciples--- and us by extension--- to “do this [eat the bread and drink from the cup]in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). Is this because we might forget Jesus? Of course not! How could we forget the One who died for our sins? Yet He started this way of remembrance--- the Lord’s supper---as a comforting reminder of His great sacrifice. His presence, His power, and His promises.
Just as Eliana’s photo remind her of her parent’s love, so the celebration of communion provides a valuable reminder of the One who will come again to take us home.
But drops of grief can never repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away ---
‘Tis all that I can do. –Watts
The Work of our Hands 05/01/2010
“The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.”
One reason we’re left here on earth and not taken to heaven immediately after trusting in Christ for salvation is that God has work for us to do. “Man is immortal,” Augustine said, “until his work is done.”
The time of our death is not determined by anyone or anything here on earth. That decision is made in the councils of heaven. When we have done all that God has in mind for us to do, then and only then will He take us home---and not one second before. As Paul put it, “David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep” (Acts 13:36).
In the meantime, until God takes us home, there’s plenty to do. “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day,” Jesus said. “Night is coming when no one can work” (John 3:4). Night is coming when we will once for all close our eyes on this world, or our Lord will return to take us to be with Him. Each day brings that time a little closer.
As long as we have the light of day, we must work---not to conquer, acquire, accumulate, and retire, but to make visible the invisible Christ by touching people with His love. We can then be confident that our “labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). –David Roper
If you rely upon God’s strength
And live a life that’s true,
Then what you do in Jesus’ name
Will be His work through you. – D. De Haan
The Cheat Test 04/30/2010
“Direct my by Your Word, and let no inquiry have dominion over me.”
Dan Ariely, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, conducted some tests on human behavior. In one experiment, the participants took an examination in which they would receive money for each correct answer. The participants didn’t know, however, that Ariely was not testing their knowledge but whether they would cheat. He set up the test so that the groups thought it would be easy to get away with cheating.
Prior to taking the exam, one group was asked to write down as many of the Ten Commandments as they could remember. To Ariely’s astonishment, none from this group cheated! But all the other groups did have those who cheated. Recalling a moral benchmark made the difference.
Centuries ago, the psalmist understood the need for a moral benchmark and asked for divine aid in following it. He prayed to the Lord. “Direct my steps by Your Word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me . . . Teach me Your statutes” (Psalms 119:133-135).
Ariely’s “cheat test” experiment illustrates our need for moral guidance. The Lord has given us His Word as a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (v. 105) to direct us in our moral choices/ -- Dennis Fisher
How precious is the Book divine
By inspiration given!
Bright as a lamp its doctrines shine.
To guide our souls to heaven. -- Fawcett
I Will Never Leave You 04/29/2010
“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
One of my earliest memories of hearing good music was when a male quartet rehearsed at our home. I was about 10 years old, and I was especially attentive to my dad, who sang first tenor. One of the quartet’s favorites was titled. “I Am With You.” Even at that tender age, I not only appreciated the music but I “got the message.”
Those words of Jesus to His disciples just before He ascended—“I am with you always”—became precious to me as the quartet sang, “In the sunlight, in the shadow, I am with you where you go.”
One of the first references to God’s unfailing presence was spoken by Moses Deutronomy 31:6-8, when he instructed his successor about leading God’s people into the “land of promise.” And Joshua himself heard the same word Lord, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you” (Josh 1:5).
That promise is repeated in the New Testament, where the writer of Hebrews gave this assurance: “He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you’”(13:5).
Wherever you may be today, you are not alone. If you’ve placed your trust in Jesus for your eternal salvation, you can be certain that He will never leave you. –Clair Hess
Jesus whispers “I am with you”
In the hour of deepest need;
When the way is dark and lonesome,
“I am with you, I will lead.” –Morris
Drifting Away 04/28/2010
“Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall not accept adversity?”
Imagine relaxing on a rubber raft along the beach, eyes closed, soaking up the sun and listening to the gentle crash of waves along the shore. You don’t have a care in the world—until you open your eyes! Suddenly the shore is alarmingly distant.
We tend to drift like that spiritually. It’s subtle yet shocking when we suddenly realize how far we’ve drifted from God. The point of departure begins when Satan steals our affection for our loving Creator by putting a deceitful twist on our experiences and causing us to suspect God instead of trust Him.
Consider Job and his wife. Both had plenty of reasons to be mad at God. Their children were dead, their fortune lost, and Job’s health destroyed. His wife told him, “Curse God and die!” But Job replied, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and . . . not accept adversity?” (Job 2:9-10).
There are many attitudes that can set us adrift: believing that we need more than God to be happy; placing meaningful relationships above loyalty to God; thinking God should live up to our expectations; resisting His reproofs; turning a deaf ear when His Word is uncomfortable.
If you’re beginning to drift, remember to stay close to the One who is the sole source of satisfaction. – Joe Stowell
Lord, help me to stay close to You
And trust You more each day,
So when the storms of life appear
I will not drift away. -- Sper
Slapton Sands 04/27/2010
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, whom he may devour.”
On the southern shores of England is Slapton Sands. This beautiful beach area carries a tragic memory from its past.
On April 28, 1994, during World War II, Allied soldiers were engaged in Operation Tiger, a training exercise in amphibious beach landings in preparation for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Suddenly, enemy gunboats appeared and killed over 700 American servicemen in a surprise attack. Today, a monument stands on Slapton Sands to commemorate the sacrifice of those young men who died while training for battle but were never able to enter the conflict.
This tragedy is a metaphor that warns the believer in Christ. We too are involved in combat with an enemy who is powerful and deceptive. That is why the apostle Peter warned: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whim he ma devour”(1 Peter 5:8).
Like the soldiers on Slapton Sands, we face an enemy who desires our undoing. In the service of our King, we must be on the alert. The call to be effective in battle (2 Tim. 2:2-4) challenges us to be ready for the surprise attacks of our spiritual enemy – so that we can endure to serve another day. – Bill Crowder
The devil’s tactic is surprise
To stop you in your tracks,
So keep on guard and trust God’s Word;
Resist his strong attacks.-- Branon
First Things First 04/26/2010
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
A seminar leader wanted to make an important point, so he took a wide-mouth jar filled it with rocks. “Is the jar full?” he asked. “Yes,” came a reply. “oh really?” he said. Then he poured smaller pebbles into the jar to fill the spaces between the rocks. “Is it full now?” “Yes,” said someone else. “Oh really?” He then filled the remaining spaces between the rocks and stones with sand. “Is it full now?” he asked. “Probably not,” said another, to the amusement of the audience. Then he took a pitcher of water and poured it into the jar.
“What’s the lesson we learn from this?” he asked. An eager participant spoke up, “No matter how full the jar is, there’s always room for more.”
“Not quite,” said the leader. “The lesson is: to get everything in the jar, you must always put the big things in first.” Jesus proclaimed a similar principle in the Sermon on the Mount. He knew that we waste out time worrying about the little things that seem so urgent but crowd out the big things of eternal value. “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things,” Jesus reminded His hearers, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:32-33).
What are you putting in your life?—Dennis De Haan
MAKE IT PRACTICAL
· Always pray before planning.
· Always love people more than things.
· Do all things to please God.
Lip Service 04/25/2010
“This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.”
Smile,” said Jay as we drove to church. “You look so unhappy.” I wasn’t; I was just thinking, and I can’t do two things at once. But to make him happy, I smiled. “Not like that,” he said, “I mean a real smile.”
His comment got me thinking even more intently. Is it reasonable to expect a real smile from someone who’s being issued a command? A real smile comes from inside; it’s an expression of the heart, not of the face.
We settle for phony smiles in photographs. We’re happy when everyone cooperates at the photographer’s studio and we get at least one picture with everyone smiling. After all, we’re creating an icon of happiness, so it doesn’t have to be genuine.
But phoniness before God is unacceptable. Whether we’re happy or sad or mad, honesty is essential. God doesn’t want false expressions of worship any more than He wants false statements about people or circumstances (Mark 7:6).
Changing our facial expression is easier than changing our attitude, but true worship requires that all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength agree that God is worthy of praise. Even when our circumstances are sad, we can be grateful for God’s mercy and compassion, which are worth more than the “lip service” of a phony smile.—Julie Ackerman Link
What a God we have to worship!
What a Son we have to praise!
What a future lies before us –
Everlasting, love-filled days! -- Maynard
Against the Wall 04/24/2010
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
On April 25, 1915, soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the Gallipoli peninsula expecting a quick victory. But fierce resistance by the Turkish defenders resulted in an 8-month stalemate during which thousands on both sides were wounded or killed.
Many of the ANZAC troops who were evacuated to Egypt visited the YMCA camp outside Cairo where chaplain Oswald Chambers offered hospitality and hope to these men so broken and disillusioned by war. With great insight and compassion, Chambers told them, “No man is the same after an agony; he is either better or worse, and the agony if a man’s experience is nearly always the first thing that opens his minds to understand the need of redemption worked out by Jesus Christ. At the back of the wall of the world stands God with His arms outstretched, and every man driven into the arms of God. The cross of Jesus is the supreme evidence of the love of God.”
Paul asked: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”(Rom. 8:35). His confident answer was nothing can remove us from God’s love in Christ (vv.38-39).
When we’re up against the wall, God is there with open arms.—David McCasland
God knows each winding way I take
And every sorrow, pain, and ache;
His children He will not forsake—
He knows and loves His own.--Bosch