Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Divine Appointment

"Then the Spirit said to Philip, 'Go up and join this chariot.' Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' And he said, 'Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?' And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him." 
Acts 8:29-31

Philip had a divine appointment with the Ethiopian eunuch. The Holy Spirit had arranged it by first opening up the Ethiopian's heart and mind to scripture. Then, at the moment he was fully prepared to receive Christ, the Spirit moved Philip to go to the Ethiopian and explain the scripture to him. The result was the evangelization of the Ethiopian. The Spirit is still moving in the hearts and minds of people today, prompting them to seek God. And He is still prompting believers to be His witnesses to those He has prepared. It's up to us to be sensitive to His call and obey. Just as Philip did.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fear Nothing

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, 
for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."
Psalm 23:4

On his deathbed, British preacher Charles Simeon smiled brightly and asked the people gathered in his room, "What do you think especially gives me comfort at this time?" When they all remained silent, he exclaimed, "The creation! I ask myself, 'Did Jehovah create the world or did I?' He did! Now if He made the world and all the rolling spheres of the universe, He certainly can take care of me. Into Jesus' hands I can safely commit my spirit!" Simeon rested in the truth that even in death's shadow the Christian has nothing to fear. Jesus has promised never to leave us (Matthew 28:20). Nothing can separate us from Him. The Apostle Paul wrote:  "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)  Fear nothing. Jesus is with you.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Encouragement of a Friend

"Now David became aware that Saul had come out to seek his life while David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. And Jonathan, Saul’s son, 
arose and went to David at Horesh, and encouraged him in God."
1 Samuel 23:15-16

During what was the lowest point of David's life, when Saul was determined to kill him, Jonathan went to David to "encourage him in God". Jonathan pointed David to the Lord. He reminded David of God's promises and faithfulness. That's what friends do for their friend who is in distress. They encourage him to place his confidence in God, not in himself. Jonathan's encouragement was especially significant because he had the most to lose if David lived. God had promised David that he would be king, which meant that Jonathan who was next in line to replace his father Saul as king would lose out. "As a pious friend, [Jonathan] directed him to God, the foundation of his confidence and the fountain of his comfort: He strengthened his hand in God. David, though a strong believer, needed the help of his friends for the perfecting of what was lacking in his faith; and herein Jonathan was helpful to him, by reminding him of the promise of God, the holy oil wherewith he was anointed, the presence of God with him hitherto, and the many experiences he had had of God's goodness to him. Thus he strengthened his hands for action, by encouraging his heart, not in the creature, but in God. Jonathan was not in a capacity of doing any thing to strengthen him, but he assured him God would." (Matthew Henry) 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Everlasting Foundation

"When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, 
But the righteous has an everlasting foundation."
Proverbs 10:25

The Lord is an Everlasting Foundation for those who are righteous. And who are the righteous? Those who claim Christ as their Savior. What a relief to know that our righteousness doesn't depend on our goodness, but rather on the goodness of Jesus Christ. I know for myself there are far too many times when my pride and self-centeredness would count me among the wicked if it weren't for Him. When life becomes a whirlwind the wicked lack the foundation needed to stand through the storm. And when life here comes to a close, the wicked will face divine judgment and be blown away. But the righteous will stand firm in the Lord -- the Everlasting Foundation -- for eternity.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Daily Bread

 "Give us each day our daily bread. "
Luke 11:3

The Lord tells us to ask for bread. Real bread, daily physical provisions. Dave Guzik says,  "Early theologians allegorized "daily bread". They couldn't imagine a mundane thing like bread in such a majestic prayer as this. Calvin said of interpretations that fail to see God's interest in the mundane: 'This is exceedingly absurd.' God does care about everyday things." In Luke 12:6-7 Jesus says, "Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows." If God won't forget the sparrows, He surely won't forget us. We are valuable to God. He loves us and wants us to ask Him for what we need so that He can provide for us. This is for His glory and for our good.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Cost of Worship

However, the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, 
for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing.”
2 Samuel 24:24

God has instructed David through the prophet Gad to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah. To do this, he would need to purchase Araunah's property. When David approached Araunah and told him he needed his property so he could build an altar and offer sacrifices to God, Araunah offered to give David the property, the two oxen he was using, and the threshing sledges drawn by the oxen. Araunah offered David everything he needed to offer a sacrifice to God free of charge. But David refused to accept Araunah's offer. Instead he bought everything from Araunah. David displayed an important principle: worship comes with sacrifice. Whether it's money, time or devotion, true worship should cost us something. "Let us learn from David that there is no worship without sacrifice. Ultimately, of course, our worship is based upon the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. But there is also a sense in which our worship should take place through our own sacrifice." (Bob Deffinbaugh) 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Submitting to God's Sovereignty

"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? 
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 
Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.'” 
James 4:14-15

After several days of temperatures near 70 degrees, we awoke one morning this week to a blanket of snow on the ground. The unexpected snowfall reminded me that we aren't the ones in control of the weather, or any other part of life. We are not in control of the future, we are not sovereign. But the Lord is. We are wise to humbly make plans with the caveat that our plans will come to fruition only if it is the Lord's will. When we plan in submission to His sovereignty we are never disappointed. "Napoleon Bonaparte was a military genius, but his pride led to his downfall. He was about to invade Russia, but a friend tried to dissuade him. When it became apparent that Napoleon would not be budged, the friend shared the familiar proverb, 'Man proposes, God disposes.' Napoleon angrily snapped back, 'I dispose as well as propose.' A Christian upon hearing this remark said, 'I set that down as the turning point of Bonaparte’s fortunes. God will not suffer a creature with impunity to usurp His prerogative.' Sure enough, Napoleon’s invasion of Russia was the beginning of his downfall" (Steven J. Cole quoting from Harold Fickett, Faith that Works [G/L Regal Books], p. 134)."
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