Thursday, July 29, 2021

AN OLYMPIC CHALLENGE

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  (Ephesians 6:12 NIV)

We are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power [this world] does not reckon with.  But we are "harmless," and therefore unharmed.  We are spiritual pacifists, non-militants, conscientious objectors in this battle-to-the-death with principalities and powers in high places.  Meekness must be had for contact with men, but brass, outspoken boldness is required to take part in the comradeship of the Cross.  We are "sideliners" -- coaching and criticizing the real wrestlers while content to sit by and leave the enemies of God unchallenged.  The world cannot hate us, we are too much like its own.  Oh that God would make us dangerous!  

--  Jim Elliot (1927-1956)


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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

NO PEDESTALS – Part 2

The Bible is remarkably transparent about the flaws and brokenness of the marriages of every character – yet how often in churches do couples sit in silent agony? They have an image of spiritual success to project, but under the surface the reality is that they have not slept together for months. Or there is verbal or physical abuse going on. Or they have a young daughter who is pregnant and they don’t know what to do. Or one of them is a secret alcoholic. Or they are facing bankruptcy.

Often the people who need help the most receive it the least, because that would mean leaving the pedestal. But what if real people could be as honest as the Bible about marriage? In a community gathered around a cross, there is no room for pedestals. In the Bible, marriage is not the fulfillment of our dreams; it is a place where we learn.

-- John Ortberg in “The Me I Want to Be”


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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

NO PEDESTALS – Part 1

It is a remarkable thing how the writers of Scripture never do what churches are so temped to do, which is put people on a pedestal. To illustrate how grittily honest the biblical writers are about human nature, answer this question: Who in the Bible would you say had the best marriage?

Adam and Eve had their honeymoon in paradise, and it all went down-hill from there. Abraham lied that Sarah was his sister – twice – and impregnated her servant, Hagar. Isaac and Rebekah spent their marriage battling because he favored Esau and she favored Jacob. Jacob had children by two wives and the wives’ servants. About all we know of Moses’ wife, Zipporah, is that they had an argument over circumcising their son and she called Moses a “bridegroom of blood.” David was a disaster as a husband; Solomon was worse. When Job’s life got hard, Mrs. Job told him to “curse God and die!” I am not making this up: Someone online said they thought the best marriage in the Bible was between Noah and Joan of Ark.

In fairy tales, life is a difficult adventure until you get married – and then you live happily ever after. But nowhere in the Bible do a couple get married and then live “happily ever after.” Marriage doesn’t save anyone. Only Jesus does that.

-- John Ortberg in “The Me I Want to Be”


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Friday, July 23, 2021

FILLING OUR MINDS

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- His good, pleasing and perfect will.”  (Romans 12:2 NIV)

How we act will be determined by how we think. If God is to change our lives, He must first change our minds. The human mind cannot be a vacuum. It will be filled either with good or evil. It will be filled either with Christ or with carnality. What will make the difference? It depends on us, and on what we allow to enter our minds. Negatively, our minds must be turned away from evil. We must be careful what kind of [things we watch on the screen], what kind of books we read, the things that occupy our thoughts. But it isn’t enough to put bad thoughts out of our minds. Positively, they must be replaced with good thoughts -- thoughts that are shaped by God and His word, by prayer. 

-- Billy Graham in “Hope for Each Day: Words of Wisdom and Faith”


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Thursday, July 22, 2021

WAIT FOR THE LORD

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  (Psalm 27:14)

Waiting may be one of the ultimate tests of our faith. It certainly is one of the hardest spiritual disciplines to learn.

Isaiah wisely encouraged those who are waiting on God to consider others who have waited on Him. He pointed out in Isaiah 64:4, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides You, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.”

Scripture says if we wait on God we will be blessed. If we grow impatient while waiting and take matters into our own hands, we’ll be in trouble.

Are you waiting on God for something? Then take heart. Don’t run ahead. Be strong enough to wait. Wait. And again I say, wait for the Lord. 

-- Anne Graham Lotz in “Fixing My Eyes on Jesus”


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