Friday, February 24, 2012

EXPRESSING PRAISE


Our entire being is fashioned as an instrument of praise. Just as a master violin maker designs an instrument to produce maximum aesthetic results, so God tailor-made our bodies, souls and spirits to work together in consonance to produce pleasing expressions of praise and worship. When we use body language to express praise, that which is internal becomes visible.

-- Lamar Boschman in A Heart for Worship

 
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

HOLY OBEDIENCE

As worship begins in holy expectancy, it ends in holy obedience. Holy obedience saves worship from becoming an opiate, an escape from the pressing needs of modern life.
-- Richard Foster


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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A PLACE OF REPENTANCE

"They set out from Kadesh, and the Israelites, the whole congregation, came to Mount Hor. ... Moses stripped Aaron of his vestments, and put them on his son Eleazar; and Aaron died there on top of the mountain." (Numbers 20: 22, 28)

Aaron died on [Mount] Hor and was gathered to his ancestors. God takes us up our own Mount Hor, not to end our lives but to let us see what we are missing and to give us the chance to change. In this place of repentance, we are shown the kingdom of God and how far we are from being ready for it. Confronted with our sin, we have the opportunity to strip ourselves of self-interest, self-will, and self-importance. We have the chance to repent and to take up the work of building the kingdom of God in the world by doing the will of God.

-- Mary Anna Vidakovich in Meeting God on the Mountain


 
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

WAIT FOR HIS WORKING

It's safe to give ourselves up to God's love. He created us out of love and His love is never wearied or worn out by our sins. He is relentless in His pursuit of us and in His determination that one day we will be pure love, at whatever cost to us or to Himself.

"Good and upright is the Lord," the psalmist reminds us, "therefore He instructs sinners in His ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way" (Psalm 25:8-9, italics added). The only requirement is humility and the patience to wait for His working. God is not known for haste, but He does mean business.

-- David Roper in Growing Slowly Wise

 
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Monday, February 20, 2012

FORGETTING GOD

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, the many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.

We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to God that made us!

-- Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation of 1863

 
#2936

Friday, February 17, 2012

THREE PRINCIPLES TO CHANGE THE WORLD

Rev. H. S. Vigeveno in his book, Thirteen Men Who Changed the World, asks how the disciples changed the course of history given they had “no financial backing, no elaborate organization, no social pull, no prestige, no churches in which to worship and no committees. They were outnumbered, persecuted, forbidden to preach and finally killed.”

In the prayer recorded in the Gospel of John chapter 17, Jesus spoke three phrases which I believe distinguished the disciples and made them the leaven that changed the world. These three phrases – “… these are in the world” (Vs 11), “… they are not of the world” (Vs 14) and “… I also have sent them into the world” (Vs 18) – appear to represent three principles:

Principle #1

God has called us to be “in the world”. Unlike the Pharisees who separated themselves from all secular association, Jesus taught us to be “in the world” - because God loves the world.

Principle #2

God has called us to be “not of the world”. Unlike the Sadducees who compromised their stand with the secular authority, Jesus taught us not to be conformed to the secular age but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

Principle #3

God has called us “into the world”. This is the thought form of the missionary. Unlike the Zealots who sought to overthrow secular power, Jesus taught us to be zealous, not for the world’s power but for the world’s welfare.

The first principle is incarnation; we must be in the world, not separated from it. The second principle is transformation. We must be transformed inside out by the Word and not outside in by the world. The third principle is reformation. We are to live for a missionary purpose.

We are “in the world” by incarnation, we are “not of this world” by transformation and we are “sent into the world” for reformation.

-- Peter Geizer

 
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Friday, February 10, 2012

RAINING QUAIL

"Now the LORD sent a wind that brought quail from the sea and let them fall all around the camp. For miles in every direction there were quail flying about three feet above the ground. So the people went out and caught quail all that day and throughout the night and all the next day, too. No one gathered less than fifty bushels!" (Numbers 11:31-32 NLT)
One of the reasons I love this miracle is because it is a miracle pun. This miracle is recorded in the book of Numbers, and the Greek name for Numbers is arithmoi. That's where we get our word arithmetic. Recorded in the book of arithmetic is a miracle that doesn't even begin to add up.

Moses could have never anticipated this answer to prayer. It was unpredictable and unprecedented, but Moses had the guts to circle the promise anyway! And when you circle the promise, you never know how God will provide, but it's always cloudy with a chance of quail.

-- Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker

 
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Thursday, February 9, 2012

MANNA MIRACLES

"The people of Israel also began to complain, 'Oh for some meat!' they exclaimed. 'We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!'" (Numbers 11:4-6)

The Israelites were complaining. I know, shocking! Instead of manna, they want meat to eat. And as a hardcore carnivore, I understand that. If you haven't eaten at an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse, you aren't ready to die yet. But talk about selective memory! The Israelites longingly remember the free fish they ate in Egypt, and forget the little fact that the food was free because they weren't. The Israelites weren't just slaves; they had been the victims of genocide. Yet they missed the meat on the menu? And isn't it just a little ironic that the Israelites were complaining about one miracle while asking for another one? Their capacity for complaining was simply astounding, and we scoff at the Israelites for grumbling about a meal of manna that was miraculously delivered to their doorsteps every day, but don't we do the same thing?

There are miracles all around us all the time, yet it's easy to find something to complain about in the midst of those miracles. The simple act of reading involves millions of impulses firing across billions of synapses. While you're reading, your heart goes about its business circulating five quarts of blood through a hundred thousand miles of veins, arteries, and capillaries. And it's amazing you can even concentrate, given the fact that you're on a planet that is traveling 67,000 miles per hour through space while spinning around its axis at a speed of 1,000 miles per hour. But we take those manna miracles, the miracles that happen day in, day out, for granted.

-- Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker

 
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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

THE CONCEPT OF OBEDIENCE

Many Americans have difficulty with the concept of obedience. We are used to a democracy that gives us many different choices and opportunities for input and involvement. We can choose where to live, what to do for a vocation, whom to marry, and the organizations we will join. We even choose what we want to believe or not believe... At the heart of a democracy lies the concept of freedom of choice. Jesus, however, did not come proclaiming a democracy. He came proclaiming [God's] kingdom.

-- Michael Slaughter in Beyond Playing Church


 
#2932

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

AT ONE WITH GOD

Deeper than acts of wrongdoing, sin is broken relationships. God is offended. Barriers are erected. Guilt and shame come rushing in. Neighbor is alienated from neighbor. The human soul begins to fight a civil war within itself...

The ancient Israelites ritualized their expressions of guilt with carefully prescribed worship experiences. They confessed their sin and expressed their guilt and shame as a corporate community of faith. They made amends directly to the One who was offended -- their Creator, Redeemer God.

Leviticus 16 helps us understand the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and atonement sacrifices. Once a year the chief priest (Aaron) cleansed himself, put on holy garments, killed a bull as an offering. The blood sacrifice was a sin offering for himself and his house. Then Aaron chose two goats to bear symbolically the sins of the people. He offered one as a blood sacrifice for atonement. Aaron then laid both his hands on the head of the second goat, confessing "all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins." He put their sins upon the head of the goat and sent the goat into wilderness (Leviticus 16:21). The goat vicariously carried the sins away, freeing the people from their guilt and shame. Hence the name "scapegoat."

Many teachers have explained atonement as AT-ONE-MENT. Through atonement we are reconciled to God, made AT ONE with God. We are freed to be in fellowship and no longer need carry the load of guilt.

-- U.M. Bishop Richard Wilke in DISCIPLE: Becoming Disciples Through Bible Study

 
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Monday, February 6, 2012

THE HABIT OF WORSHIP

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25 NIV)

My wife and I recently had a dinner conversation with a couple who said that they left another church as a result of a pastor, had tried another church with no success, and now were not worshipping anywhere. They said it was too easy to get out of the habit.

Let me encourage you to be in the habit of worshipping every Sunday, not just when you feel like it, not just when you're in town, not just when the kids have Sunday school. Make it your habit to worship and you'll find that God has made it His habit to show up as well.

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson

 
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Friday, February 3, 2012

EFFECTIVE EVANGELISM

During the span of my adult life, I've witnessed dozens of evangelistic fads. Perhaps you can remember some of the eras I've seen rise and fall. Let's see, there was the Tract Era. The Televangelist Era. The Bus Ministry Era. There were eras revolving around saving professionals, saving women, saving men, saving the rich, the poor, homemakers, movie stars, you name it.

And to the extent that any of these approaches brought people to Christ, I am genuinely grateful.

But each time a new approach surfaced, I secretly wonder how long the wave would last, how long the movement could possibly be sustained. Sure, even I hopped on a few of them, but I knew they all lacked longevity.

In the next few decades, I'm quite certain there will be even more "new and exciting" approaches to evangelism. And I'll say it again: If people find faith as a result of them, who am I to criticize? But as far as I'm concerned, there is only one paradigm that will not wear thin with the passing of time. These days, I'm more convinced that ever that the absolute highest value in personal evangelism is staying attuned to and cooperative with the Holy Spirit.

You read it right. The only thing you need in order to sustain an effective approach to evangelism year after year after year is an ear fine-tuned to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

-- Bill Hybels in Just Walk Across the Room

 
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Thursday, February 2, 2012

PRIDE LIES IN WAIT

"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18)

Other sins find their vent in the accomplishment of evil deeds, whereas pride lies in wait for good deeds, to destroy them.

-- St. Augustine

 
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

PRAYER BLESSINGS

Even as the cloud foreshadows the rain, so prayer foreshadows the blessing; even as the green blade is the beginning of the harvest, so is prayer the prophecy of the blessing that is about to come.
-- Charles H. Spurgeon

 
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