Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Servant

"When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed."
Mark 1:32

On this particular Sabbath day that Mark wrote about, Jesus taught in the synagogue and cast a demon out of a man. From the synagogue he went to Peter's home where He healed Peter's mother-in-law. After sundown the "whole city" (Mark 1:33 NASB) came to the door, many bringing sick and demon-possessed people. And He healed them and cast out the demons.  He didn't turn anyone away. He didn't tell them to come back tomorrow. In His typical selfless manner, the Lord met them right where they were and gave them what they needed. This is just one recorded day in the three years of our Savior's ministry on earth, but it is a prime example of His humility, love and compassion. Jesus said He came "not to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many." Stop and think about Christ's words. Meditate on HIs sacrificial love. This is who our God is. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Abounding Hope

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13

Some people -- even Christians -- spend their time and money finding joy and peace in the things the world has to offer. Perhaps they shop until they drop. Or they hit the party circuit. But eventually the items purchased lose their luster, the party comes to an end, and joy and peace fade. To get that feeling of joy and peace again requires another shopping spree, another party. We don't have to settle for that kind of roller coaster existence. Going from lows to highs and back down to lows, over and over again. The God of hope offers us lasting joy and peace through belief in Him. It begins with a personal relationship with Him, and a conscious decision to make God enough. When we look to anything other than God to satisfy us, we are telling Him that He's just not cutting it. And as long as we do this, we quench the power of the Holy Spirit. God has promised us joy and peace in believing. Belief removes all the obstacles to God's gifts of joy and peace. Belief opens the door to our hearts and says to the Holy Spirit, "Come in and give me abounding hope." 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

He Overwhelmingly Conquers

"But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us." 
Romans 8:37

Through the worst of times, Paul could encourage his readers that "in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loves us." And what were "all these things" of which Paul wrote? We find them in verse 35: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword. Paul wrote from experience, as he had faced all those things and had won victory over them through Christ. Whatever distress you may currently be facing, if Jesus is your Savior you will overwhelmingly conquer. The conquering will come from drawing closer to Him. For it is when we are in distress, that we run to the Lord. We cry out, and because of His great love for us, He comes to our aid. He overwhelmingly conquers our fear and gives us hope. We find that no matter what happens to us, we can never be separated from the Lord. He doesn't let go. His grip is eternal. "Yea, when death comes, that breaks all other unions, even that of the soul and body, it carries the believer's soul into the nearest union with its beloved Lord Jesus, and the full enjoyment of him for ever." -- Matthew Henry

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Whose Fault Is It?

"But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."
1 Timothy 1:5

God has a goal in mind when He teaches us through His word. It is to love the Lord our God with all of our being, and then to love others and care for them as we would care for ourselves. This kind of love comes from a pure heart. Love from a pure heart is selfless, without manipulation. It doesn't seek its own good, but the good of others -- even at personal sacrifice. In our own humanity we can't love this way. It takes the transforming work of the Holy Spirit to cleanse our hearts and minds of sinful desires and thoughts; to give us a good conscience and a sincere faith. A sincere faith desires to walk with Christ at all times and to please and glorify Him. We hear so much about the lack of real love in our society. If we don't love purely, it's not God's fault. It's ours.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

He Reigns

"The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all." Psalm 103:19

God has fixed His authority high above us. (The word heavens in this verse is from the root word "lofty"). No one placed Him there. Unlike an earthly monarch, He will not die and be replaced by another member of the royal family, nor is He a ruler in name only. He is not elected for a certain term, nor is His power subject to re-election. His supremacy is irrevocable. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. All government on earth exists because He wills it. And when He determines such government shall cease, so it shall be. Everything that happens in our world is ordained by Him and there is nothing that happens that is not first sifted through His hands. For those who belong to Him, this truth should bring joy and peace. This same God, who determines the affairs of men, is also a God of love and compassion, of mercy and grace. He is just and altogether trustworthy. Be anxious for nothing. Our God reigns! 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Naomi the Mentor

"Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God."
Ruth 1:16

The story of Ruth and Naomi is a beautiful picture of love and devotion between a woman and her mother-in-law. After the death of her husband and two sons, Naomi determines to leave Moab and return to Bethlehem. She releases her Moabite daughters-in-law to go back to their homes and their gods, where they can start afresh. Orpah departs, but not Ruth. She pleads with Naomi to allow her to stay by her side. To stay with Naomi and Naomi's God.  For Ruth to abandon everything she knew -- her home, her religion, her friends -- to follow her mother-in-law and God to a strange land, speaks volumes not only of Ruth's devotion, but of Naomi's character. Spending time with Naomi changed Ruth. She came into Naomi's life as an idolatress, but left her false god to follow Jehovah, the one true God. She became the great grandmother of King David and received honorable mention in the genealogy of the Messiah. Naomi impacted Ruth's life. In the words of Alexander McLaren, "If we had more elder women like Naomi, we should have more younger women like Ruth."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Prayer for a United Heart

"Unite my heart to fear Your name." 
Psalm 86:11

Give me an undivided heart, Lord. Jeremiah said the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can understand it? He was right, Father. Like Paul, the things I want to do, I don't do. And the things I don't want to do, those I do. Only you, Lord, can unite the opposing forces of my heart and  cause it to do Your will. This is what I want, Lord. And I ask it for all those who come here today. 
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