Monday, May 16, 2022

UNEARNED AND UNDESERVED

“For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation].”  (Ephesians 2:8-9 Amplified Bible)

Salvation is worth working for. It is worth one’s going around the world on one’s hands and knees, climbing its mountains, crossing its valleys, swimming its rivers, going through all manner of hardship in order to attain it. But we do not get it that way. It is to the one who [simply and humbly] believes [in Christ]. 

-- Dwight Lyman Moody


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Friday, May 13, 2022

IN THE LIKENESS OF HUMANITY

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)

Our earthly existence takes on new meaning when we remember that God [in Christ] chose to put on our humanity and chose to wear that humanity as an ordinary working man.

Our ordinary existence is not so ordinary when we remember that God chose this existence to give us a true picture of the divine. Therefore there are no unimportant moments in any lifetime.  All are precious gifts of opportunity to know and serve the One who made us and chose to stand with us and like us in the gift of life. 

-- Rueben P. Job in “A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God” (Nashville, Tenn.: Upper Room Books, 2003, Used with permission)


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Thursday, May 12, 2022

JESUS OUR GUIDE

“’Lord,’ said Thomas, ‘we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’”  (John 14:5-6a)

In “A Slow and Certain Light,” missionary Elisabeth Elliott tells of two adventurers who stopped by to see her, all loaded with equipment for the rain forest east of the Andes. They sought no advice, just a few phrases to converse with the Indians.

She writes: “Sometimes we come to God as the two adventurers came to me -- confident and, we think, well-informed and well-equipped. But has it occurred to us that with all our accumulation of stuff, something is missing?”

She suggests that we often ask God for too little. “We know what we need -- a yes or no answer, please, to a simple question. Perhaps a road sign. Something quick and easy to point the way.

“What we really ought to have is the Guide Himself. Maps, road signs, a few useful phrases are good things, but infinitely better is Someone who has been there before and knows the way.” 

-- From “750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers” compiled by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal


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Wednesday, May 11, 2022

NO MAN IS AN ISLAND

Men, I hate to break it to those of us who like to exercise worn stereotypes, but women are not the only gender to have benefited from the social revolutions of the past thirty years. Like it or not, John Wayne is long gone; sometimes manly men really do just need to have a good cry; and the idea that strong, silent men are supposed to “bite the bullet and get the job done, by golly, because we don’t ask for help from anyone…” is not only pathetically inappropriate but fundamentally contrary to God’s best intention for our lives.

Men who want to grow in Christlike grace need one another.

Men who intend to be the kind of followers Christ empowers through His strength and love more often than not discover their purpose and their power in community.

Besides, we were created specifically for relationship, relationship with God and with one another. We were created for communion with God and with other men. Being alone runs contrary to the most primary and basic intention of creation. 

-- Derek Maul in “Get Real: A Spiritual Journey for Men”


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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

SPIRITUAL PREPARATION FOR MISSION

When we expect spiritually immature people suddenly to become committed to outreach, we end up asking people to serve a compulsion, not God. Look at the example of Jesus and His disciples. He did not call them and immediately ask them to care for the poor, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, heal the sick, and make disciples of all nations. Instead, He spent the early part of His ministry preparing them. He focused on forming their faith. Eventually He gave them small missions of teaching and healing. When they failed and became discouraged, He encouraged them and taught them how to succeed. It was only toward the end of His life that He gave them the authority to fully serve Him in mission, and it was only after His death and resurrection that He commanded them to go out and share the gospel. Mission and ministry were the result of spiritual preparation and maturation.

In far too many… churches there has not been enough focus on preparing people spiritually for mission. We prepare people for mission by creating an environment of trust, encouragement, compassion, vision, selflessness, and sacrifice. Spiritual leaders recognize the importance of first forming people spiritually for their mission. 

-- N. Graham Standish in “Becoming a Blessed Church: Forming a Church of Spiritual Purpose, Presence, and Power”


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