Father of Jesus, give me that same Holy Spirit, who raised him from the dead, that he may raise me also. I long that his risen life may be more evidently mine, and that I may experience the power of his resurrection, rising as a fountain in my soul.
Daily Prayers: A Classic Collection.
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:12
Yes, he is blessed while he is enduring the trial. No eye can see this till it has been anointed with heavenly eye-salve. But he must endure it, and neither rebel against God, nor turn aside from his integrity. He is blessed who has gone through the fire, and has not been consumed as a counterfeit.
When the test is over, then comes the hallmark of divine approval — “the crown of life.” As if the Lord said, “Let him live; he has been weighed in the balances, and he is not found wanting.” Life is the reward: not mere being; but holy, happy, true existence, the realization of the divine purpose concerning us. Already a higher form of spiritual life and enjoyment crowns those who have safely passed through fiercest trials of faith and love.
The Lord hath promised the crown of life to those who love Him. Only lovers of the Lord will hold out in the hour of trial; the rest will either sink or sulk, or slink back to the world. Come, my heart, dost thou love thy Lord? Truly? Deeply? Wholly? Then that love will be tried; but many waters will not quench it, neither will the floods drown it. Lord, let thy love nourish mine to the end.
A MOTHER WAS preparing pancakes for her two young sons, Kevin and Ryan. The boys began arguing over who would get the first pancake. The mother scolded them, and then took the opportunity to relay some moral truths to her children.
“What would Jesus do if he were here?” asked the mother. The boys shrugged their shoulders in unison. “Jesus would insist that his brother take the first pancake,” she told them. “And then he would wait for the next one.”
The boys nodded, and the mother felt confident that her lesson had taken. She turned her back and continued baking, but soon heard her oldest boy whispering to the younger one, “Ryan, you be Jesus.”
It’s a cute story, but at times it hits a little too close to home to be very funny. How often do you and I see an opportunity for good and instead of acting, wait for someone else to play the part of Jesus? Ever cast your eyes downward in a meeting hoping someone else will volunteer for the sacrificial jobs? Ever looked the other way when a brother in need walked past you? Ever passed the buck to a deacon when news of a needy family came your way? “I’m a little busy at the moment. Why don’t you be Jesus?”
I’ve been guilty more than once of leaving the tough jobs to others. I know a couple who have spent years working in inner-city missions, and we’ve spent years supporting them. Somehow it makes me feel noble and sacrificial. At least it did until we took a trip to visit them for the weekend. I saw firsthand the way they lived and ministered to some of the most needy and helpless people in our country, and suddenly I didn’t feel quite as merciful for my small contributions. Here’s a little money. Why don’t you be Jesus?
“We are each responsible for our own conduct,” writes the apostle Paul. “Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time” (Galatians 6:5, 8-9). It’s easy to let others be Jesus for us, but a true follower doesn’t pass on that responsibility when it comes. Jesus expects more from us than we often expect from ourselves. Sacrifice means getting involved, not just getting others to do it.
In what ways do you allow others to do the work of Christ for you? How can you take more responsibility in service to Jesus?
Embracing Eternity: Living Each Day with a Heart Toward Heaven.
Galatians 6:6-10 (CEV) 6 Share every good thing you have with anyone who teaches you what God has said. 7 You cannot fool God, so don’t make a fool of yourself! You will harvest what you plant. 8 If you follow your selfish desires, you will harvest destruction, but if you follow the Spirit, you will harvest eternal life. 9 Don’t get tired of helping others. You will be rewarded when the time is right, if you don’t give up. 10 We should help people whenever we can, especially if they are followers of the Lord.
The most effective lies are those that are based on a partial truth. The package of beliefs, notions, theories and hypotheses that are known as “Evolution” are no exception! All of “evolution” is not true. At the very least, a fair-minded individual would have to admit that most of it cannot be proven by the scientific method. But, all the same, I cringe when someone says that “evolution” is a total lie, because people hear that, see the part of evolution that makes sense and discounts anything said after that about “evolution” being false.
We are familiar with the part of evolution that says we evolved from a one celled organism into homo sapiens mankind. Most would agree that there is no proof for this. There is a missing link showing the transition, which is to say where is the proof? You can see many species of animals for instance and geneticists say surely one evolved from the other, but where is the in between creature? Extinct, they say! Isn’t it suspicious (and against the scientific method) that in all these cases, all the “in-between” links went extinct? The former version survived, even though it was disadvantaged and “replaced” with a more fit version…and the ultimate version survived in all its evolutionary splendor! But the very link in between, that could prove trans-specie natural selection is missing. It did not survive….every single time! How can anyone dedicated to the scientific method of discovery ever believe that bunk?
The part of “evolution known as “natural selection” (perhaps better known as survival of the fittest) is absolutely true, to a point. We see it in action around us. Mankind has not been protective of some species, and they have gone extinct. At the top of the food chain, we should have done better. But my point is, if you say natural selection is a lie, by lumping it together under the general title of “evolution”, then you are simply mistaken, despite your good intentions, and no one hears anything else you have to offer. Your lie has discredited you.
Of all the people debating this issue, less than half are truly well-informed on all the aspects. It takes study! You cannot just take one part you do not agree with and proclaim evolution to be bunk, any more than your opponent can take one part they believe in and fill in the blanks to say all of evolution is true.
A lot has been said about “faith” and how it takes more faith to believe in evolution than it takes to believe in the Biblical account of creation. If both sides tried better to understand the topics, the answer would be obvious. Facts and conclusions based upon the scientific method are seen on both sides. Faith-based conclusions are present on both sides. This controversy may go on until the end of time. But we must be careful to know both sides of an issue before we make strong dogmatic statements.
I assume this post will draw some comments. Let’s keep them on point and avoid name-calling, pigeon-holing, stereotyping, etc. Let’s be respectful of one another, otherwise how can anyone learn?
Let us not imagine that the soul sleeps in insensibility. “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise,” is the whisper of Christ to every dying saint. They “sleep in Jesus,” but their souls are before the throne of God, praising Him day and night in His temple, singing hallelujahs to Him who washed them from their sins in His blood. The body sleeps in its lonely bed of earth, beneath the coverlet of grass. But what is this sleep? The idea connected with sleep is “rest,” and that is the thought which the Spirit of God would convey to us. Sleep makes each night a Sabbath for the day. Sleep shuts fast the door of the soul, and bids all intruders tarry for a while, that the life within may enter its summer garden of ease. The toil-worn believer quietly sleeps, as does the weary child when it slumbers on its mother’s breast. Oh! happy they who die in the Lord; they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them. Their quiet repose shall never be broken until God shall rouse them to give them their full reward. Guarded by angel watchers, curtained by eternal mysteries, they sleep on, the heritors of glory, till the fulness of time shall bring the fulness of redemption. What an awaking shall be theirs! They were laid in their last resting place, weary and worn, but such they shall not rise. They went to their rest with the furrowed brow, and the wasted features, but they wake up in beauty and glory. The shrivelled seed, so destitute of form and comeliness, rises from the dust a beauteous flower. The winter of the grave gives way to the spring of redemption and the summer of glory. Blessed is death, since it, through the divine power, disrobes us of this work-day garment, to clothe us with the wedding garment of incorruption. Blessed are those who “sleep in Jesus.”
“Howbeit, in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that He might know all that was in his heart.” 2Chronicles 32:31
Hezekiah was growing so inwardly great, and priding himself so much upon the favour of God, that self-righteousness crept in, and through his carnal security, the grace of God was for a time, in its more active operations, withdrawn. Here is quite enough to account with the Babylonians; for if the grace of God should leave the best Christian, there is enough of sin in his heart to make him the worst of transgressors. If left to yourselves, you who are warmest for Christ would cool down like Laodicea into sickening lukewarmness: you who are sound in the faith would be white with the leprosy of false doctrine; you who now walk before the Lord in excellency and integrity would reel to and fro, and stagger with a drunkenness of evil passion. Like the moon, we borrow our light; bright as we are when grace shines on us, we are darkness itself when the Sun of Righteousness withdraws Himself. Therefore let us cry to God never to leave us. “Lord, take not thy Holy Spirit from us! Withdraw not from us Thine indwelling grace! Hast Thou not said, ‘I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day’? Lord, keep us everywhere. Keep us when in the valley, that we murmur not against Thy humbling hand; keep us when on the mountain, that we wax not giddy through being lifted up; keep us in youth, when our passions are strong; keep us in old age, when becoming conceited of our wisdom, we may therefore prove greater fools than the young and giddy; keep us when we come to die, lest, at the very last, we should deny Thee! Keep us living, keep us dying, keep us labouring, keep us suffering, keep us fighting, keep us resting, keep us everywhere, for everywhere we need Thee, O our God!”
If your hand does wrong, cut it off. Better live forever with one hand than be thrown into the unquenchable fires of hell with two! If your foot carries you toward evil, cut it off! Better be lame and live forever than have two feet that carry you to hell.
“And if your eye is sinful, gouge it out. Better enter the Kingdom of God half blind than have two eyes and see the fires of hell, where the worm never dies, and the fire never goes out—where all are salted with fire.
“Good salt is worthless if it loses its saltiness; it can’t season anything. So don’t lose your flavor! Live in peace with each other.”
Jesus used startling language to stress the importance of cutting sin out of our lives. Painful discipline is required of his true followers. Giving up a relationship, job, or habit that is against God’s will may seem just as painful as cutting off a hand. Nothing should stand in the way of faith.
Jesus used salt to illustrate three qualities that should be found in his people: (1) We should remember God’s faithfulness, just as salt when used with a sacrifice recalled God’s covenant with his people (Leviticus 2:13). (2) We should make a difference in the “flavor” of the world we live in, just as salt changes meat’s flavor (see Matthew 5:13). (3) We should counteract the moral decay in society, just as salt preserves food from decay. When we lose this desire to “salt” the earth with the love and message of God, we become useless to him. Think of how you can be salty this week.
One Year with Jesus: 365 Daily Devotions based on the chronological life of Christ.
I would like to submit this famous poem about fog by Carl Sandburg. I thought of it when my brother moved up to Florence, Oregon. It doesn’t rain all the time in Oregon…most of the time it is overcast and dripping with moisture reflective of an impending cloudburst. I grew up in Port Hueneme, CA. Every day was about the same. In the morning we would have fog (or overcast clouds) to the point that those of us in the marching band had to change socks and sometimes shoes between our practice before school and First Period. Then, usually by mid-morning, or at least by noon, the sun would come out, burn off the fog and it would be a bright sunny day. But then, by mid afternoon, the west wind would start blowing off the Pacific Ocean and make everything cool, sometimes uncomfortably so. If you were out for the day, you had to dress inlayers, because all day was spent putting on or taking off clothes. I’m certain Cargo Pants (the kind with the zippered detachable legs) were invented by someone who lived in a similar place.
I am amazed that my brother would move to a place with weather like this, bearing in mind the past experiences. But that brings us back to Sandburg’s Poem. “It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches….and then moves on.” Every day, it was like the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day“, at least weather-wise. The fog moved on, as if blown away by the west wind, leaving many a clear night, but the next day- it started all over again!
I thought that this was like “grace” with God. Every day, we let Him down, but He is faithful to stick with us, and gives us a clean slate, every day. He doesn’t obsess with our shortcomings, He moves on. When I mess up with God, I want to confess and get past it, starting over with a clean slate. He is so good to give that to us.
Psalm 103:11-12 (NKJV) 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
God, let us be mindful of your grace and never forget how much you are eager to forgive us!
I am happy that prayer is more informal and casual today. The following excerpt from the reference cited tells how it used to be!
It is interesting to trace the development of prayer in the Scriptures. In the life of the patriarch Abraham prayer seems to have taken the form of a dialogue–God and man drawing near and talking to each other (Gen. 18; 19); developing into intercession (Gen. 17:18; 18:23, 32), and then into personal prayer (Gen. 15:2; 24:12); Jacob, (Gen. 28:20; 32:9-12, 24; Hosea 12:4). The patriarchal blessings are called prayers (Gen 49:1; Deut. 33:11). During the period of the Law. Not very much prominence is given to formal prayer during this period. Deut. 26:1-15 seems to be the only one definitely recorded. Prayer had not yet found a stated place in the ritual of the law. It seems to have been more of a personal than a formal matter, and so while the Law may not afford much material, yet the life of the lawgiver, Moses, abounds with prayer (Exod. 5:22; 32:11; Num. 11:11-15).*
*Evans, William (2004-07-01). The Great Doctrines of the Bible (p. 136). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.
Now, we can stop and talk to God, anytime, anywhere, in a conversational manner. He is our Father and He sometimes just wants to hear from us. Or we can wax eloquent and make a speech to our Father like reciting a school play. As long as we talk to Him, He listens and enjoys the time in fellowship.
This is why we are told not to pray in a way to be heard by others! Our time with our Father is personal and no one else need be concerned. We get alone time with “Dad!” Our speech with Him should not be designed to impress others or move them in any way. It is to communicate with our Maker.
This is not to say that there is no place for corporate prayer, when we gather together. That prayer is for unity of purpose and for uniting our hearts around requests. It is not like the prayers of the Pharisees, who were prideful in their approach.
My prayer for you today is that we will pray with appreciation for the ease with which we can approach our Father. We can ask for anything, according to His will, and know that He hears us! (I John 5) Let us Pray with Humility!
Give to me the pilgrim spirit I must have to be in the world, but not of it. Give me grace to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. May I always obey my heavenly calling.
Daily Prayers: A Classic Collection.
This is important for those who worry too much about world affairs. World events cannot happen unless God allows it. I will not be caught doubting His grace to carry me through. His kingdom is not of this world, but within us. I will stay close to Him so that none of this superfluous stuff can hurt me.