Wednesday, August 16, 2017

ESTRANGEMENT AND RECONCILIATION

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst of it we hung our harps.”  (Psalm 137:1-2)

Methodist missionary and evangelist E. Stanley Jones once wrote of a time early in his Christian experience. “For months after my conversion,” he wrote, “I was running under cloudless skies. And then suddenly I tripped, almost fell, pulled back this side of sin, but was shaken and humiliated that I could come that close to sin. I thought I was emancipated and found I wasn’t.”

Then he goes on to tell of the effort of special friends in his small group who played an intercessory role: “I went to the class meeting -- I’m grateful that I didn’t stay away -- went, but my (spiritual) music had gone. I had hung my harp on a weeping willow tree. As the others spoke of their joys and victories of the week, I sat there with the tears rolling down my cheeks. I was heartbroken. After the others had spoken, John Zink, the class leader, said, ‘Now, Stanley, tell us what is the matter.’ I told them I couldn’t, but would they please pray for me? Like one man they fell to their knees, and they lifted me back to the bosom of God by faith and love. When we got up from our knees, I was reconciled. The universe opened its arms and took me in again. The estrangement was gone. I took my heart from the willow tree and began to sing again…”

-- E. Stanley Jones in “A Song of Ascents”


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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

GOD IS THE CENTER

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."  (Jeremiah 1:5)

Our lives are not puzzles to be figured out.  Rather, we come to God, who knows us and reveals to us the truth of our lives.  The fundamental mistake is to begin with ourselves and not God.  God is the center from which all life develops.  If we use our ego as the center from which to plot the geometry of our lives, we will live eccentrically.

-- Eugene H. Peterson in “Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at its Best”


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Monday, August 14, 2017

A FORCE STRONGER THAN HATE


“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the LORD. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:14-15)

Grace is Christianity's best gift to the world, a spiritual nova in our midst exerting a force stronger than vengeance, stronger than racism, stronger than hate.

-- Philip Yancey in “What's So Amazing About Grace?


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Friday, August 11, 2017

“FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL” FAITH


I remember two things about the first day of school. The first was how exciting it was. New clothes. New notebooks. New teacher. On the first day of school, it seemed like the world was full of endless possibilities.

As an adult, I sometimes miss that excitement. Life can be pretty routine at times. When I start feeling that way, it's good to remind myself that while I may be through with first days of school, I have a God who loves to do new things in and through me. He told Isaiah in the Bible, “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth...” (Isaiah 43:19 KJV). God likes to begin new things in our lives. The “first day of school” experience He has for you or me might be a new friend who is going to teach us things we never knew about ourselves. Or it might be a new ministry where we get to see God use us in ways He never has before.

The other thing I remember about the first day of school was how scary it was. What if I couldn't find my classroom? What if I got lost in the hall? What if none of my friends were in my class?

God understands that part of new experiences too. Even though He loves to do new things, the Bible tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 KJV). So even when we face something brand new that seems scary or strange, we can trust that Jesus is always the same. He'll be there for us like He always has been and He'll guide us through. We can count on His character.

So as the new school year begins, whether we're a part of it or not, let's ask God to do something new in and through us. Then we can move forward in confidence knowing that however God answers that prayer, it will be good, because we know He is.

-- Holley Gerth, DaySpring Cards


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Thursday, August 10, 2017

ACHIEVING WHOLENESS


Human beings have a remarkable capacity to take things that are related to each other and stick them in separate airtight compartments so they don’t rub against each other and cause them much pain.

We’re all familiar with the man who goes to church on Sunday morning, believing that he loves God and God’s creation and his fellow human beings, but who, on Monday morning, has no trouble with his company’s policy of dumping toxic waste in the local stream. He can do this because he has religion in one compartment and his business in another… It is a very comfortable way to operate, but integrity it is not.

The word integrity comes from the same root as integrate. It means to achieve wholeness, which is the opposite of compartmentalize. Compartmentalization is easy. Integrity is painful. But without it there can be no wholeness.

-- M. Scott Peck in “Further Along the Road Less Traveled”


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