Saturday, February 25, 2012

Beyond Our Comfort Zone

"And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles."
Acts 8:1

If the first Christians had not faced persecution in Jerusalem, it is possible they never would have left the comfort of their homes and the gospel would never have spread beyond Jerusalem's walls. God will sometimes use hard circumstances -- even persecution --  to move us out of our comfort zone. "You may be wondering why God has turned up the heat right now; why the pressure is growing. Maybe He wants to make a change in your life, and you won't move unless He squeezes you to do it. Oh you can stubbornly choose the pain of staying put if you want or you can obediently choose what He knows is best for you in His kingdom. Now if you're feeling the pressure right now, it isn't so much that God is mad at you - He's just got something better for you, something bigger for you, and He wants you to choose it." -- Ron Hutchcraft

Friday, February 24, 2012

Our Wounded Culture

"For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, 
the forgiveness of sins."
Colossians 1:13-14

Our culture doesn't talk about sin and Satan. People would much rather stay in the darkness then enter into God's light. "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil." (John 3:19) This is just the way Satan our enemy likes it. He doesn't want people to realize their perilous state and their need for redemption. Christ sacrificed everything to rescue the world from Satan's grip -- the domain of darkness -- and transfer them into His glorious kingdom. Those of us who have received this Divine Transfer have a responsibility to pray for those who haven't. Ours is a wounded culture that needs God's healing, and He has promised to hear us from heaven and heal our land if we humble ourselves and pray (2 Chronicles 7:14). 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

God at the Helm

"The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps."
Proverbs 16:9

There's nothing wrong with making plans, but always we should make them with the knowledge that God may take us in an entirely different direction. If He does, we can be assured that it is for our good. We serve a loving God who wants the best for us. So we prayerfully chart our course with the understanding that God will ultimately steer the ship where He wants it to go. It's exciting to willingly let Him take the helm and find that His destination for us is so much better than the one we had devised . "THE WAYS of a man, we justify them to ourselves, and think that they are necessarily right, but we are liable to be self-deceived. We must employ our sanctified common-sense, or, to adopt the phrase of our text, our heart must seriously and thoughtfully devise our way. First pray for direction; then weigh the pros and cons; then view the matter from the standpoint of trusted friends; see that your eye is single to do only the will of God; be sure that no selfish or evil consideration is allowed to bias or divert you: then make your decision, asking God to block you in whatever would be hurtful, foolish, or perilous. You will not make a mistake if you sincerely and prayerfully adopt these rules." -- F. B. Meyer

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The One and Only Advocate

"And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, 
but also for those of the whole world."
1 John 2:1-2

ad·vo·cate n. a person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor.

If ever we needed an advocate, it is when we stand in front of a Holy God. There is nothing in us with which we can plead our own case. To stand sinless before God is impossible, for the Bible tells us that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23).  This is bad news for anyone who thinks she can enter Heaven based on how much good she has done. Good works? Isaiah 64:6 says, "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away." Bad news, indeed. But God doesn't want our iniquities to take us away like the wind. He gave us an Advocate in the person of Jesus Christ. The perfect, sinless Son of God took our sins upon the cross and paid the price that God's holiness and righteousness demands. And so the man who recognizes his pitiful condition -- his wholly sinful state - can receive the righteousness of Christ and therefore allow HIm to intercede with the Father on his behalf. Christ is the propitiation - the atonement - for our sins. More than that, for the sins of the whole world. But the only way Christ can step in as our Advocate is if we ask him to.  "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12). It's not enough to believe Christ existed, we have to believe that His sacrifice is sufficient for our sins and receive Him as our only Advocate. Now that's good news.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Exposed by the Light

"Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 
for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things 
which are done by them in secret."
Ephesians 5:11-12

As Christians, we have a responsibility to lead the lost to our Savior. Of course we should share the good news of the gospel in words, but our words will have little effect if our behavior is no different from those to whom we are witnessing. We should live our lives in such obedience to Christ that His light of truth shines through us and convicts those who don't yet know Him of their own sinful condition. Pastor Steven Cole gives a wonderful illustration of exposing the darkness: "Living in Flagstaff, where it’s cold in the winter with lots of snow, our cars get caked with the salt and grime from the roads, so that after a few weeks of regular snowstorms, they look pretty bad. But, everyone else’s car looks as bad as mine, so I don’t think much about it. But, if I have to drive down to Phoenix, where it’s warm and sunny, I am suddenly surrounded by clean cars! Those clean cars expose the filthiness of my car and make me want to go straight to a car wash. Our clean lives expose the sin of unbelievers’ lives. As God works in their hearts, it often drives them to get their sins washed at the cross." 

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Exalted One

"Be exalted, O LORD, in Your strength; We will sing and praise Your power."
Psalm 21:13

Psalm 21 is David's song of praise for what God has done: He has delivered his people from the hands of their enemy. And David looks forward to what God will do in the future. He will continue to rescue His beloved children from their enemies. We have a spiritual enemy --  Satan -- who seeks to destroy us. But he has no power over those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ. "God makes sinners willing by His grace, receives them to His favour, and delivers them from the wrath to come. May He exalt himself, by His all-powerful grace, in our hearts, destroying all the strong-holds of sin and Satan. How great should be our joy and praise to behold our Brother and Friend upon the throne, and for all the blessings we may expect from Him! Yet He delights in His exalted state, as enabling Him to confer happiness and glory on poor sinners, who are taught to love and trust in Him." -- Matthew Henry. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Will of the Father

"For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
John 6:40

If we want to know what God's will for humankind is, here we have it. It is His will that everyone who looks upon Christ with spiritual eyes, seeing Him as Redeemer and Lord and trusting in Him for their salvation, would live forever with Him in Heaven. "Men are by nature blind, their eyes are shut to all that is spiritually good; it is the Spirit of God that opens blind eyes, and illuminates the understanding: and in His light men see not only themselves, their sin, and want of righteousness, and their lost state and condition, but Christ, and a beauty, glory, and excellency in Him, ability and willingness to save, a suitableness in Him for them, and a fulness of all grace; they see righteousness, peace, pardon, cleansing, wisdom, strength, grace, life, and salvation, and go out of themselves to him for all." (Gill) 
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