Thursday, June 30, 2011

ALIVENESS IN GOD

"We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (Romans 6:2-4)

Once we've tasted being alive, we can't go back to being dead. Aliveness in God is addictive.

-- Nancy Groom

 
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

THE DWELLING PLACE OF THE SPIRIT

"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

What does it mean to honor God with our Bodies? It means we pay attention to where we take our bodies, who we let touch our bodies, how we take care of our bodies. It means we keep our bodies away from sin, we protect them from abusive people and situations, and we actively pursue physical health. Maintaining sexual purity is one specific means of honoring God with our bodies, as is avoiding nicotine, excessive alcohol and caffeine, or any other drugs or substances that could bring them harm… Our bodies are so alive with conflicting desires, so attuned to pleasures and pains, so tempted by immediate gratification. Responding in a God-honoring way to these natural drives and desires requires more discipline and determination than almost anything else. It also requires a conscious submission to God's purpose for our lives, which is to be a pure dwelling place for His own Spirit.

-- Bill Hybels in Making Life Work: Putting God's Wisdom into Action

 
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

INWARD SPIRITUALITY, OUTWARD HOLINESS

Our inward spirituality must manifest itself in our outward holiness. Donald Shelby reminds us that "unless the ecstasy of God's indwelling presence becomes the agony of sacrifice and obedience -- working for God's kingdom by going the second mile, turning the other cheek, fulfilling our moral imperatives, and serving the least and the lost -- then our ecstasy is pure baloney, our piety is a rank form of idolatry, and our religious talk is mere rhetoric."

One of the primary reasons I'm a Methodist is because of the emphasis on social holiness. John Wesley, our father in the faith, passionately argued that there could be no holiness but social holiness… and that to turn Christianity into a solitary religion is to destroy it.

-- Maxie Dunnam in Living the Psalms

 
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Monday, June 27, 2011

USING OUR UNIQUE GIFTS

God has made us uniquely for service to one another. When we abandon that uniqueness, we abandon God's will for our lives.

A healthy church is made up of individuals with a full range of emotions, intellect, free will, and the ability to function independently. God has created each person individually in His own image. He does not want to waste the uniqueness of any of us. He has given us many unique gifts that He wants us to develop in service to Him. The church is one body of many members. We must continue to come together as a group so that God can use our individual gifts for the benefit of all who worship Him. As healthy faith grows,… we delight in finding that we do not have to live in the image of another person – only in the image of God.

-- Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton in More Jesus, Less Religion


 
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Friday, June 24, 2011

A GOOD AND GRACIOUS GIFT

"The world had many kings, but only one Michelangelo," said his contemporary Aretino.

Do not be discouraged. History is on your side. God has given you a talent. You are important to Him and live in the court of God, not the court of men… By expressing yourself as an artist and by exercising those talents God has given you, you are praising Him… [Your creative talents are] a good and gracious gift from our Heavenly Father, freely given, to be enjoyed, practiced, and treasured.

-- Franky Schaeffer in Addicted to Mediocrity


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Thursday, June 23, 2011

RENEWING YOUR MIND

J. B. Phillips’ famous translation of Romans 12:2 is “Do not let the world squeeze you into its mold, but instead let yourself be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
It’s easy to apply this to the big things in life: immorality, drunkenness, pornography. But Paul has in view the subtle as well as the obvious, as the next chapters prove. And perhaps the best way to expose our failings in this area is to examine the things we do without thinking. It’s those things that show us what our mind is really like…

So what of you? What of me? Has the world squeezed us into its mold? If so, then Paul’s help is clear. I need to take a view of God’s mercy, and offer my whole self to Christ. Whatever You want me to be, I will be. Wherever You want me to go, I will go. Whatever You want me to do, I will do. Here I am Lord, send me. I hold nothing back. Then, having given myself to Him, I must fill my mind with Him.

-- Mark Barnes

 
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

SEIZING THE MOMENT

No other group or resource can claim the unique call and ministry of the church to offer "living water" to a thirsty world. The church can "seize the moment" and choose to diligently affirm and renew its mission to persons in a world in need of spiritual balance and restored hope. Or the church can remain quietly passive, watching as the world "parties" on in hope of finding meaning, direction, and fulfillment. I believe that God is calling the church to [act] with holy confidence and spiritual boldness. With its unique Good News, the church can be in the world, but not of the world, calming anxiety, eliminating the dread, instilling hope.

-- Roger C. Dowdy in Standing at the Door

 
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A THREE-FOLD IMPACT

The gift without the giver is bare:
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three, --
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and Me.

-- James Russell Lowell

 
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Monday, June 20, 2011

OUR RESPONSE TO GOD

"Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice -- the kind that He will accept. When you think of what He has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." (Romans 12:1-2 NLT)

We generally associate worship with what happens in church, but in actual fact it is far more all-encompassing than that. Worship is our response to the loving work of God. In view of God's mercy, Paul urges, offer your bodies or lives as a living sacrifice to God. As we live out our lives, the way we live is an expression of our response to God. As Jesus offered up his life in serving us, so we in response offer up our lives in grateful response, to the undeserved way in which God has shown mercy to us in Jesus. The whole of our life is a response to God, the way we live is an act of worship.

-- Stephen Hale

 
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Friday, June 17, 2011

KEEPING THE FIRE BURNING

"Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:24-25 NRSV)

One winter night we were sitting near the fire and warming ourselves while our eight-year-old son tended the fire, a task he enjoys. He would take out a small coal from the fire and watch it burn for a little while. It would soon go out. Then he would put the coal back into the fire and watch it begin to burn brightly again.

This experience helped me to see a truth about our Christian lives: we need fellowship with other believers to keep our spirit burning within us and to encourage us as committed witnesses. Sometimes we stop going to church or to a particular fellowship because someone hurt us at some time or we did not like something about that place. But when we distance ourselves from other Christians, we can quench the fire of the Spirit within us and lose our enthusiasm to witness for Christ.

-- Pramila Barkataki (Uttar Pradesh, India) in The Upper Room Devotional, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN. Used with permission.

 
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Friday, June 10, 2011

GOD'S SYMPHONY

It is the Spirit’s work to draw what might otherwise be a cacophonic disunity into symphony. The Spirit worked to transcribe God’s music for playing on the human instrument of Jesus of Nazareth; the Spirit now works to orchestrate that theme for an ensemble of billions.

-- Mike Higton in Christian Doctrine


 
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

THE RIGHT COACHING

The Holy Spirit is like a coach during a game. He can see things I can't because he has a different point of view. If we choose to follow Jesus, we will have the right coaching in life.

-- Aeneas Williams, retired NFL player

 
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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

THE BLESSED HOLY SPIRIT

The Holy Spirit longs to reveal to you the deeper things of God. He longs to love through you. He longs to work through you. Through the blessed Holy Spirit you may have: strength for every duty, wisdom for every problem, comfort in every sorrow, joy in His overflowing service.

-- T.J. Bach

 
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

ONE LIFE TOGETHER

Perhaps the greatest blessing in marriage is that it lasts so long. The years, like the varying interests of each year, combine to buttress and enrich each other. Out of many shared years, one life. In a series of temporary relationships, one misses the ripening, gathering, harvesting joys, the deep, hard-won truths of marriage.

-- Richard C. Cabot

 
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Monday, June 6, 2011

SHAKING EVERY BRANCH

For some years now I have read through the Bible twice every year. If you picture the Bible to be a mighty tree and every word a little branch, I have shaken every one of these branches because I wanted to know what it was and what it meant.

-- Martin Luther (1483-1546)


#2781

Friday, June 3, 2011

CELEBRATING AND PROCLAIMING THE ASCENSION

As Paul sums it up, God's power "raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms. Now He is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else… God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made Him head over all things for the benefit of the church" (Ephesians 1:20-22).

Celebrating and proclaiming the ascension is therefore crucial if we are to fully exalt Christ. Jesus is not only risen but reigning, not only alive but sovereign, not only central but supreme. Moreover, as theologian Douglas Farrow demonstrates, whenever we fail to proclaim Christ as ascended, enthroned, and exalted, something else -- our personal agendas, the world's agendas, the church's agendas -- moves in to fill the vacuum. Mark it down, when we fail to exalt and enthrone Jesus, something or someone else inevitably assumes the throne.

-- Stephen Seamands in an article entitled "He Ascended into Heaven" in Good News, May/June 2011

 
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Thursday, June 2, 2011

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD

Silence is as common as the air we breathe. It is a vast pool always available to us where we can refresh and renew ourselves, or simply stop in for a while. Silence is God's gift to our minds, a gift that modern life seems to have lost or crowded out. We need more silence in our lives, more stillness in our homes. We need, in our increasingly complex and frenetic world, to silence ourselves -- and to listen… The key ingredient is not so much the total absence of noise as receptivity and access to the "still small voice within".
The cultivated ability to hear that voice is the most enduring value of silence. In silence we can discover the divine within, which is universally accessible but speaks to each of us in a unique voice. If we can locate, at the very center of silence, our individual "still small voice," we will have found our greatest ally in life. Because if we listen to that voice with an open heart, it will guide us through the most challenging crossroads of our lives: in work, in love, in distinguishing right from wrong.

We need only trust the voice that speaks to us out of the silence.

-- Robert Lawrence Smith in A Quaker Book of Wisdom


#2779

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

UNEXPECTEDLY AND IRRESISTIBLY APPEALING

The ministry of Jesus is grounded in personal practices. Jesus' life is marked by prayer, solitude, worship, reflection, the study of Scripture, conversation, community, serving, engagement with suffering, and generosity. These personal practices sustained a ministry that opened people to God's grace, transformed human hearts, and changed the circumstances of people in need. Jesus modeled going away to quiet places, spending time in the Temple, and listening for God. Jesus spoke to the woman at the well; the tax collector in the tree; the rich young ruler on the road; the paralyzed man beside the pool; to the lepers and the blind and the widowed and the wealthy; to Mary and Martha and Peter and John. He held a child in His arms, noticed the woman who touched His rob, healed a soldier's servant, ate with sinners, told stories to Pharisees, and blessed the thief beside Him on the cross. He intervened to challenge unjust systems that abused vulnerable people, overturning the money changers' tables and dispersing those ready to kill a woman accused of adultery. He connected people to God, opened their hearts and minds to God's kingdom, invited them to follow in His steps, and set them on the path toward God. Jesus knitted them into community, interlaced their lives with one another by the Holy Spirit, and wove them into the body of Christ, the church. By example and story, by lessons and parables, and by inviting them into ministry and sending them out in His name, He taught them to practice and live the ways of God. Jesus made maturing in faith and growth toward God unexpectedly and irresistibly appealing.

-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living

 
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