Saturday, February 18, 2012

God's Smile

"Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; Save me in Your lovingkindness." 
Psalm 31:16

For a woman to know that God is smiling upon her is the greatest jewel she could possess. For a man to realize that God takes pleasure in him is more valuable than the largest bank account. When we are in Jesus Christ -- when we have accepted Him and He dwells in us --God is well pleased. Not because of who we are or what we have done, but because of who Jesus is and what He has done. It is the salvation that comes through Jesus that ushers in God's lovingkindness and fills us with peace. "Why should he fret when God smiles? What matters though all the world should censure, if Jehovah countenances his servant. A look of approval from God creates a deep, delightful calm within the soul." (Spurgeon)

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Love of Christ

"For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. "
2 Corinthians 5:13-15

Paul served Christ with such extravagance. But it was Christ's love for him that moved him to do so. The apostle's heart was captivated by His Redeemer's love. Yes, Paul loved the Lord. But it was the Lord who first loved Paul and pursued him on the Damascus Road. Before that time Paul persecuted those who followed Christ, and in so doing he persecuted the Lord Himself. But after He met the King of Kings everything about Paul changed. No longer did he live for himself, but for "Him who died and rose again on [his] behalf." This is evidence of a true conversioin. Those who have made a profession of faith in Christ no longer live for themselves. They now live for Christ.  It's a great mystery how the transformation takes place. It can only happen through the power of the Holy Spirit. And that power is available to all who will come to Christ and receive Him as Lord and Savior. ". . .the death of Christ for all, which is equivalent to the death of Christ for each, is the great solvent by which the love of God melts men's hearts, and is the great proof that Jesus Christ loves me, and thee, and all of us." -- Alexander Maclaren

Thursday, February 16, 2012

His Witnesses

"Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.But whoever denies Me before men, 
I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven."
Matthew 10:33

Jesus calls us to be His witnesses in the world. In the preceding verses of Matthew 10 He talks about the price of discipleship. He warned that there would be a cost to follow Him. For some it would mean persecution; maybe even death. In other parts of the world that is currently taking place. Christians are losing their lives for speaking out about their faith in Jesus Christ. In the U.S we're seeing more and more criticism of people who speak the name of Jesus.  The Lord said, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."  (Matthew 10:28) To confess Jesus Christ means we identify with Him as our Lord and Savior. "There is no believer whom the Son of God does not require to be his witness. In what place, at what time, with what degree of frequency, in what manner, and to what extent, we ought to profess our faith, cannot easily be determined by a fixed rule; but we must consider the occasion, that not one of us may fail to discharge his duty at the proper time" -- John Calvin

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rivers in the Desert

"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? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert." 
 Isaiah 43:18-19

In May of 1988 my heart felt like a desert.  I was on a plane, headed for home after seeing my mother who was dying of cancer.  For years I had tried to control my own life without any thought of what God wanted.  Now, like the Prodigal Son, I realized my pathetic state.  I felt parched; in need of the Living Stream.  Right there on the plane I repented of my sins -- of refusing to do things God' s way -- and surrendered to the Lord.  I let Him take the reigns of my heart.  He refreshed my soul with the water of mercy and began to do "something new" in my life. Forgiven prodigals often feel guilt that comes from squandered years.  Such guilt doesn’t come from God.  Once we repent and confess our sins to Him, He forgives us and remembers our sins no more.  They are "as far as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12).   God wants us to forget the past and praise Him for the new thing He is doing.  Instead of wandering aimlessly in the wilderness, we can turn to Him and experience His "rivers in the desert."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Forgiveness Releases Us

"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; 
just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you."
Colossian 3:12-13

Every one of the virtues listed here has to do with relationships. If we want to live in harmony with others, then we must take seriously what God is telling us. We can't wait for the other person to go first in putting on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. It begins with each of us. If we say we belong to God, then we will imitate Him. God did not wait for us to love Him, He loved us first. "We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen." (1 John 4:19-20). Forgiving those who have hurt us, especially when they are not repentant, is a hard thing to do. But God has told us that if we want to be forgiven by Him, we must forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15). We forgive the unrepentant offender and leave the rest to God. He will deal with the other person. When we refuse to forgive we become embittered and resentful. We're not fun to be around and our bodies take a toll from the resulting stress. Dale Carnegie tells about a visit to Yellowstone Park where he saw a grizzly bear. The huge animal was in the center of a clearing, feeding on some discarded camp food. For several minutes he feasted alone; no other creature dared draw near. After a few moments a skunk walked through the meadow toward the food and took his place next to the grizzly. The bear didn't object and Carnegie knew why. "The grizzly," he said, "knew the high cost of getting even." [House of God p. 122] God wants us to live in joy and peace. Forgiveness releases us to do so. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

What Makes God Grieve?

"Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart." 
Genesis 6:5-6

In the days of Noah men and women were so wicked that God was sorry He had created us, and His heart grieved. When I read these words I wonder that humans can believe that God is unloving, unjust and unkind. And even more so when I consider that God gave His only Son to rescue us from destruction. That's how much He loves us. "The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works." (Psalm 145:8-9) God's holiness will not allow Him to ignore sin, but He doesn't delight in the death of the wicked. "'As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live.'" (Ezekiel 33:11) God hates sin, but loves the sinner. He doesn't send anyone to hell. Man sends himself when he refuses to receive the free gift of salvation. The gift that God paid for with His own life. "No doubt God will pity sinners in hell forever. He has given the highest evidence that He loves sinners. Think how long He spares them to live in their sins; at how great a sacrifice He sent His Son to die for them, even while they were yet enemies. What proof of love can be greater that this?" -- Finney

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Gentle Wisdom

"Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior 
his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom."
James 3:13

We may have a lot of knowledge, but unless it is applied properly it does not equate with wisdom. True wisdom mirrors godliness. Proverbs 9:10 says "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." So wisdom begins with reverence for God and a desire to live in a way that pleases Him. As we study God's word and communicate with Him through prayer, the Holy Spirit teaches us all we need to know about how to live in godliness. The more we yield to the Spirit's teaching, the more we comprehend how to apply the knowledge we have gained in gentleness. This is fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). We can't possess wisdom without Him.

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