Friday, May 29, 2015

THE GRIEVING EYES OF A DOCTOR

The role of a doctor may be the most revealing image in thinking about God and sin. What a doctor does for me physically -- guide me toward health -- God does for me spiritually. I am learning to view sins not as an arbitrary list of rules drawn up by a cranky Judge but rather as a list of dangers that must be avoided at all costs -- for our own sakes…


Sin represents a grave danger to my spiritual, and perhaps my physical, health. The more I see my sins in this light, the more I understand God's strong words against them. I find myself gazing into the grieving eyes of a Doctor whose patients are destroying themselves. As Jesus said, applying the doctor image to Himself, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."


-- Phillip Yancey




#3665

Thursday, May 28, 2015

THE DEPTH AND THE HEIGHT

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23 NRSV)

To comprehend the height of our salvation, we must know the depth of our sin.

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


#3664

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A FAITH WITH THE POWER TO CAPTIVATE


The faith that [John] Wesley lived engaged head, heart, and hands. It held together both the evangelical gospel, calling us to trust in Christ as Savior and Lord, and the social gospel, calling us to be God's instruments for healing in a broken world. It was characterized by a "reasonable enthusiasm" -- guided by strong minds engaged in theological reflection and study, and at the same time marked by strangely warmed hearts and a deep spiritual passion. It combined a belief in the wideness of God's mercy with a call to holiness of heart and life. I believe that Wesley's faith -- grace-filled, authentic, passionate, personal, practical, intellectual; shared in small groups, celebrated in worship, lived out in the world -- is a faith with the power to captivate the hearts of a whole new generation of people and to bring revival in our time.

-- Adam Hamilton in Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It


#3663

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

THE TROUBLE SPOTS IN LIFE


In her beautiful novel about Maine, The Country of the Pointed Firs, Sara Orne Jewett describes the ascent of a woman writer on the pathway leading to the home of a retired sea captain named Elijah Tilley.


On the way, the woman notes a number of wooden stakes randomly scattered about the property, with no discernible order.  Each is painted white and trimmed in yellow, like the captain's house.  Curious, she asks Captain Tilley what they mean.  When he first plowed the ground, he says, his plow snagged on many large rocks just beneath the surface.  So he set out the stakes where the rocks lay in order to avoid them in the future.


In a sense, this is what God has done with the Ten Commandments… He has said, "These are the trouble spots in life.  Avoid these, and you won't snag your plow."


-- John Killinger in To My People with Love




#3662

Friday, May 22, 2015

BY THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT

"But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth." (Acts 1:8 AMP)


The work of the Lord is done not primarily by human effort or ingenuity -- although God uses these -- but by the power of His Spirit. Those who wish to rise above the status of the Lord's assistants by establishing their own empires and demanding allegiance to themselves will not accomplish the Lord's work. Those who endeavor to succeed without the resources of the Spirit will be doomed to fail. But those who humbly, joyfully, and willingly make themselves available to the Lord for all that He has in mind and who keep their lives open to the full flow of His Spirit's power will assist the Lord's work to its glorious consummation.


-- Stuart Briscoe in Daily Study Bible for Men


#3661

Thursday, May 21, 2015

THE SPIRIT OF GOD


A person can, indeed, shut the wind out.  One can hide behind walls of willfulness until, in time, the Spirit's breath can no longer be felt.  Not because the Spirit is unable to break down our walls of resistance, but because the Spirit won't.  No one in heaven or on earth is so respectful of the integrity of human personality as is the Spirit of God.  God's Spirit will plead but will not demand.  The Spirit is not a bully, but a Lover; and while that love pursues passionately, it will not intrude where it is not wanted; after all, if it did, it would cease to be love. 

 

-- J. Ellsworth Kalas in New Testament Stories from the Back Side


#3660

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

POWER OUTAGE


Jesus said to them… "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…" (Acts 1:8)

Yesterday I arrived at church to find that the power was out as a result of planned changeover for our air-conditioning project. The building was dark; the computers were blank; the phones were silent, and the coffee was cold. By mid-afternoon the power was restored and we went on with 'business' as usual.

In our traditional worship services we sing, "Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee, perfect in power, in love and purity." And in our contemporary service we sing, "More love, more power, more of You in my life." The outage made me wonder what would happen if the power of the Holy Spirit were to be temporarily cut off from our lives, from our churches. Would we notice any difference?

How much do we rely on the power of the Spirit to deal with our personal problems and worries? How much do we rely on the power of the Spirit to accomplish ministry in and through us? How much do we rely on the power of the Spirit to witness to the Father's love demonstrated in the Son's sacrifice? Or are we simply relying on our own strength, our own wisdom, and our words?

This coming Sunday we celebrate Pentecost -- the commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus' followers following His ascension. Pentecost is considered the "birthday" of the church. (Acts 2:1-11) Pentecost is a good time to wrestle with these questions.

 

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson


#3659

Monday, May 18, 2015

UNDERSTANDING AND APPLICATION


The fundamental mode whereby our rational Creator guides His rational creatures is by understanding and application of His written Word… the true way to honour the Holy Spirit as our guide is to honour the Holy Scriptures through which He guides us… The Spirit leads within the limits which the Word sets, not beyond them. "He guideth me in the paths of righteousness" -- but not anywhere else.

-- J. I. Packer in Knowing God


#3658

Friday, May 15, 2015

COMPLETE SURRENDER


When did we start believing that God wants to send us to safe places to do easy things? That faithfulness is holding the fort? That playing it safe is safe? That there is any greater privilege than sacrifice? That radical is anything but normal?

Jesus didn't die to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous. Faithfulness is not holding the fort. It's storming the gates of hell. The will of God is not an insurance plan. It's a daring plan. The complete surrender of your life to the cause of Christ isn't radical. It's normal.

It's time to quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. It's time to go all in and all out for the All in All.

-- Mark Batterson in All In


#3657

Thursday, May 14, 2015

PREACHING CHRIST CRUCIFIED


The story has been told of a church in the former Soviet Union on which was painted, "But we preach Christ crucified" (1 Corinthians 1:23). During the communist era the church was not cared for and weeds began to overtake the building. The weeds first obscured the bottom word, "crucified," changing the verse to read, "But we preach Christ."  The weeds pressed upward and concealed "Christ," leaving simply, "But we preach."  Finally the weeds hid "preach," yielding the disturbing words, "But we."

The weeds teach a profound lesson. When the church neglects to preach the cross and the full range of biblical teaching connected with it, it is not long before interest in Christ Himself fades. The church may continue preaching, but now says only what people wish to hear. Finally, the church is left to itself and to its doubts in an empty fellowship of the "But we."

-- from Wesley: Adult Bible Student, Jul - Aug, 2000


#3656

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

THROWING OFF WHAT HINDERS


In Jules Verne's novel The Mysterious Island, he tells of five men who escape a Civil War prison camp by hijacking a hot-air balloon.  As they rise into the air, they realize the wind is carrying them over the ocean.  Watching their homeland disappear on the horizon, they wonder how much longer the balloon can stay aloft.

As the hours pass and the surface of the ocean draws closer, the men decide they must cast overboard some of the weight, for they had no way to heat the air in the balloon.  Shoes, overcoats, and weapons are reluctantly discarded, and the uncomfortable aviators feel their balloon rise.  But only temporarily.  Soon they find themselves dangerously close to the waves again, so they toss their food.  Better to be high and hungry than to drown on a full belly!

Unfortunately, this, too, is only a temporary solution, and the craft again threatens to lower the men into the sea.  One man has an idea:  they can tie the ropes that hold the passenger car and sit on those ropes.  Then they can cut away the basket beneath them.  As they sever the very thing they had been standing on, it drops into the ocean, and the balloon rises.

Not a minute too soon, they spot land.  Eager to stand on terra firma once again, the five jump into the water and swim to the island.  They live, spared because they were able to discern the difference between what really was needed and what was not.  The "necessities" they once thought they couldn't live without were the very weights that almost cost them their lives.

The writer to the Hebrews says, "Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles."  (Heb. 12:1, NIV)

--  Ed Haynes


#3655

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

PREACHING THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST


I believe in justice, but I am not a preacher of the gospel of justice; I am a preacher of the Gospel of Christ who calls us to justice.

I believe in love, but I am not a preacher of the gospel of love; I am a preacher of the Gospel of Christ who calls us to love.

I am committed to peace, but I am not a preacher of the gospel of peace; I am a preacher of the Gospel of Christ who calls us to peace.

I believe in the value of the simple life, but I am not a preacher of the simple life; I am a preacher of the Gospel of Christ that calls us to the simple life…

Let us beware of the ultimate plagiarism of borrowing great concepts from Jesus; then running off proclaiming these concepts and not sharing the Christ that empowers these concepts.

-- Dr. Myron Augsburger, Mennonite theologian


#3654

Monday, May 11, 2015

RESTING OUR WEARY SOULS


"So too the Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance." (Romans 8:26 AMP)

It is not necessary to maintain a conversation when we are in the presence of God.  We can come into His presence and rest our weary souls in quiet contemplation of Him.  Our groanings, which cannot be uttered, rise to Him and tell Him better than words how dependent we are upon Him.

-- O. Hallesby in Prayer


#3653

Friday, May 8, 2015

PRAYER AND OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD


Let us beware of two extremes in prayer: of thinking ourselves so friendly with God that we forget His majesty, or being so fearful of God that we forget His desire for intimacy.

-- Jerry Mercer in Cry Joy!


#3652

Thursday, May 7, 2015

PRAYER AND SPECIFIC ACTIONS


Saint Paul speaks of praying “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

It is not as hard as it sounds, really. You merely learn to be aware of God’s presence with you all the time, whatever you are doing.

A friend who commutes to work says that he sits and communes with God every time he stops at a traffic light. You can do it every time you open the refrigerator. Or when you brush your teeth.

The point is simply to turn your thoughts toward God at many specific times each day.

One way to do this is to practice remembering God when you are performing one specific action all week. When you are making the bed, for instance. Or setting the table. Or checking your mail. Or walking to school. Then, for the next week, pick another action.

-- John Killinger in Beginning Prayer


#3651

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

PRAYER AND GOD'S WILL


"Thy will be done…"

Prayer opens our lives to God so His will can be done in and through us, because in true prayer we habitually put ourselves into the attitude of willingness to do whatever God wills.

-- Harry Emerson Fosdick in The Meaning of Prayer


#3650

Monday, May 4, 2015

PRAYER AND IMAGINATION


As we age, either imagination overtakes memory or memory overtakes imagination.  Imagination is the road less taken, but it is the pathway of prayer.  Prayer and imagination are directly proportional: the more you pray the bigger your imagination becomes because the Holy Spirit supersizes it with God-sized dreams.  One litmus test of spiritual maturity is whether your dreams are getting bigger or smaller.  The older you get, the more faith you should have because you've experienced more of God's faithfulness.  And it is God's faithfulness that increases our faith and enlarges our dreams.

There is certainly nothing wrong with an occasional stroll down memory lane, but God wants you to keep dreaming until the day you die.  You're never too old to go after the dreams God has put in your heart.  And for the record, you're never too young either.  Age is never a valid excuse …

If you keep praying, you'll keep dreaming, and conversely, if you keep dreaming, you'll keep praying.  Dreaming is a form of praying, and praying is a form of dreaming.  The more you pray the bigger your dreams will become.  And the bigger your dreams become the more you will have to pray.  In that process of drawing ever-enlarging prayer circles, the sphere of God's glory is expanded.

-- Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker


#3649