Saturday, May 5, 2012

On Our Knees

"Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach."
Acts 5:21

H. A. Ironside told of a godly man named Andrew Frazer, who had come to southern California to recover from a serious illness. Though this Irishman was quite weak, he opened his worn Bible and began expounding the truths of God’s Word in a way that Ironside had never heard before. So moved by Frazer’s words was Ironside, that his curiosity drove him to ask, “Where did you learn these things? Did you learn them in some college or seminary?” The sickly man said, “My dear young man, I learned these things on my knees on the mud floor of a little sod cottage in the north of Ireland. There, with my open Bible before me, I used to kneel for hours at a time and ask the Spirit of God to reveal Christ to my soul and to open the Word to my heart. He taught me more on my knees on that mud floor than I ever could have learned in all the seminaries or colleges in the world.” The Holy Spirit filled the apostles and gave them the knowledge and ability to teach in the temple. He is able to do the same today. Not everyone can attend a theology class or go to seminary, but everyone can open the word of God and humbly ask Him to teach them. Like Andrew Frazer, we can learn on our knees.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Joyful Lips

"My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips."
Psalm 63:5

Have you ever been worn out at the end of a long day and felt your joy slipping away? The cure for those times is the Lord. When we turn to Him with praise and thanksgiving for who He is, something wonderful happens. Our weary soul is satisfied as a hungry tummy is satisfied with a big, juicy steak. Our Heavenly Father is always available, always eager to refresh us. He's our Abba Father -- Daddy -- the One we can run to for comfort. Praise Him with joyful lips!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Encouraging our Children

 "Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart."
Colossians 3:21

We exasperate our children when we demean them, when we constantly put them down and demand perfection from them. Our  children lose heart when they don't feel unconditionally loved and accepted. This doesn't mean we don't discipline them when necessary, but we discipline them in an attitude of love and never out of anger.

Benjamin West tells how he became a painter. One day his mother went out, leaving him in charge of his little sister Sally. In his mother's absence he discovered some bottles of ink and began to paint Sally's portrait. In doing so he made a considerable mess of things with ink blots all over. His mother came back. She saw the mess but said nothing. She picked up the piece of paper and saw the drawing. "Why," she said, "it's Sally!" and she stooped and kissed him. West used to say; "My mother's kiss made me a painter." If Mrs. West had not looked past the mess to the potential, she could have exasperated her son so that he lost heart. Instead she encouraged him and he became a great painter. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Real Hope

"For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures 
we might have hope."
Romans 15:4

Paul can only be speaking of the Old Testament here. He had just quoted from Psalm 69. What was written then was not just for that time, it was written for our instruction as well. "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;" (2 Timothy 3:16). When we study Scripture we see God's perspective on things and find wisdom to deal with the trials and challenges that come into our life. We learn how others persevered through hardship and persecution, and came out stronger in their faith and trust in God. This is the encouragement we need to give us hope in hopeless situations. "You won’t find any hope in the daily newspaper. You won’t find any hope in modern literature. Look at any field and see if you can find any hope. There is none whatsoever. It is dark and dismal when you look out at this world today. My friend, the only place you can find real hope is in the Word of God." (J. Vernon McGee)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How Do We Know?

"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments."
1 John 5:1

How do we know we are "born of God"? That we are saved? This is evidence of salvation: to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The one who believes -- who has staked their eternal life on this truth -- has died to the "old self" and has been born again. A spiritual rebirth. It is not our belief that saves us. It is only by God's grace that we are saved. We are transformed by Him when we place our faith in Jesus. Further evidence is that we love other Christians, and by loving other Christians we show that we love God, since we are obedient to His command to love others.

". . . the risk of a counterfeit Christianity is so strong.  There are people who are naturally compassionate (just like those who are naturally sour).  It is part of their personality.  There are those who are naturally rule-keepers (just like there are natural rebels).  Still others are naturally academic and quick to believe (just as there are others who seem to be natural skeptics).  We are not saved by our personality!  We are saved by the work of God inside of us.  The evidence that we are a child of God is that we see ALL THREE of these things in our lives:
A belief and surrender to Jesus as God become man who is our way of salvation
Increasing love for God and for others
Obedience to God’s commands" (Bruce Goettsche)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Faithful Hospitality

"Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they 
have testified to your love before the church."
(3 John 1:5-6)

Christian travelers in John's day depended upon the hospitality of other Christians. Extending hospitality is not a small thing to God. It is a fulfillment of God's command to "love on another". Even a cup of cold water offered to one of God's children will not be forgotten by God. (Matthew 10:42). John praises Gaius, who is well-known for his hospitality; those who have received his hospitality have testified to it.  "What high praise: you do faithfully whatever you do! Whatever God has given us to do, we should do faithfully. Jesus said that when we see Him face to face, some would hear the words, well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. (Matthew 25:21) Of the good servant, it is said he was faithful." (David Guzik)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

God is Faithful

 "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, 
I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” 
1 Kings 17:9

The seventeenth chapter of 1 Kings is rich with God's faithfulness. First, He provides food and drink for Elijah by the creek of Cherith. "The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook." (v. 6) Then the brook dries up (Elijah had prayed to stop the rain as judgment for King Ahab and the Israelites disobedience to the Lord, and God had answered Elijah's prayer for drought) and the Lord tells Elijah to go to Zarephath, where He had "commanded a widow" to provide for him. The widow is gathering sticks to build a fire when Elijah finds her and asks her for bread and meat. She explains that she only has a little flour and oil and that she is gathering sticks to make a fire for a last meal for her son and herself. After that they will die of starvation. Elijah instructs her to first make a cake for him out of the flour and oil and afterward she can make one for herself and her son. He says, "'The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth.' So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through Elijah." (vs. 14-16) Just when things are looking up for the widow, her son becomes ill and dies. Things look hopeless again, but Elijah prays and God through Elijah provides a miracle: returning life to the son. Elijah returns the child to his mother and says, “See, your son is alive.” Then the woman testifies about the Lord, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.” (v. 24) What a fantastic account of God's faithfulness. He provides a way for Elijah to be fed, the widow and her son to be fed, the son to be restored, and glory given to His name. All this through Elijah's encounter with the widow in Zarephath. God may orchestrate many things and people to accomplish His purpose. We may move us away from our homes or take something away from us, causing us to doubt His love. But in all things -- even when we don't see how anything positive can come out of a situation -- God is faithful. He lovingly works all things together for good. In this He is glorified.
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