Saturday, November 20, 2010

Eternal Success

"But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.
For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either."
1 Timothy 6:6-7

From the time we are born until we die the message of the world is "be successful". But what is success? Is it measured by the number of initials we have behind our name? Or the square footage and location of our home? The size of our bank account, or the make of our automobile? We may spend our lives attaining wealth and material possessions, but as the saying goes, "I've never seen a hearse pulling a u-haul." There is nothing wrong with pursuing education or living in a nice home. It's not wrong to have money or belongings. But when we are never content with what we have, but are constantly striving to get more, then we grieve the Lord and miss the true measure of our worth. That is that we belong to Him. If we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, if we can say that He is our Savior and we are content with whatever we have, as long as we have Him, then we are truly successful.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Words of Wisdom

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." 
Ephesians 4:2-3

Having aged spiritually, as well as chronologically, I've come to see the wisdom of these words in Ephesians. It is not through forceful words or logical arguments that we Christians will win souls for Christ. Rather, it is in the "unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace". The world is full of discord. Unfortunately, the Church is all too often as discordant as the world. What a difference a humble, gentle, forbearing, loving, unified group of believers could make in their community. And think what could happen if this Ephesians model was multiplied across the globe; all to the glory of God. It begins with me. It begins with you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Eager Learners

"And all the people would get up early in the morning to come to Him in the temple to listen to Him." 
Luke 21:38

Jesus is in Jerusalem, teaching daily in the temple. The scribes and chief priests try to discredit Him, to no avail. The people rise early in the morning and flock to the synagogue to hear Him preach. They are eager to accept what He has to tell them. The Lord is still speaking to us today through scripture. I wonder if we are as anxious to learn from Him as those ancient people were.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fit for Battle

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of the darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm." 
Ephesians 6:12

Today is one of those days when I'm very aware of the dark unseen world around me; what the Apostle Paul calls "the world forces of the darkness". For those who don't know Christ and what it's like to live as one of His true followers, these words may sound very strange. But the Bible makes it very clear that there is a spiritual battle raging around all of us. And although we cannot see it, that doesn't make it any less real. It is for times like these that we must put on God's full armor, as described in Ephesians 6:13-18. I like the way The Message puts it: "Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out." We are in a spiritual battle. Let's be sure we're spiritually fit for it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Finishing Well

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Hebrews 12:1-3

The writer of Hebrews likens living the Christian life to running a race. In the previous chapter, which is commonly called the "Hall of Faith", we see a roll call of those who have gone before us and endured the extreme challenges to their faith all the way to the end of their lives. This "cloud of witnesses" finished well and certainly they are an encouragement to us. But it is Jesus Christ, the one who initiated our faith and who is perfecting it, that we are to fix our eyes upon. He is the supreme example of finishing well. Christ fixed His eyes on the joy He would receive after enduring the cross, receiving the reward of sitting down at the right hand of the Father. Remembering the price He paid so that we could enter the race, helps us to keep running and not lose heart. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

God Is Still There

"This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope. 
The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. 
'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul,
'Therefore I have hope in Him.'" 
Lamentations 3:21-24

In every life there comes a time of disappointment. It may come in the form of something we thought we would receive from God, such as a home, or job, or restored health. But then the house deal falls through, the company changes their mind about filling the position, the illness we thought was in remission returns. Or it may appear as the loss of someone close to us: a spouse, a child or other loved one. Oh, how our faith is tested then. We may ask, "What in the world are You doing, God?" And we may wonder if He really loves us. If He did, would He allow this pain into our lives? At times such as these, we must cling to everything we know about God; recalling His love, kindness and compassion. It may be necessary to write down all the incidents when God showed His faithfulness. When everything else vanishes, God is still there. When we recognize this truth, it is then that we confess, "God, You are all I need (my portion), and I choose to put my hope in You."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Don't Dwell On The Past

Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past. 
Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
Isaiah 43:18-19

One day my husband and I hiked in a part of Rocky Mountain National Park where a fire had burned down a few trees. It appeared they had been struck by lightning. As I surveyed the blackened ground, I noticed little shoots of green plants among the dead wood and charred pine cones. Yes, trees and vegetation had been destroyed by the fire, but God was doing a new thing. Fresh growth was springing up in the middle of the devastation. If I had kept my eye on what had been destroyed, I would have completely missed the lovely greenery pushing through the earth. God's work in our lives is like that scene. When we surrender our burned out lives to Him, He restores them into something new and beautiful. He doesn't want us to dwell on our past mistakes and failures. He wants us to place our trust in Him and look to see where He is doing something new. 
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