Wednesday, May 22, 2019

GOD’S WAY IS ALWAYS BEST

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV)

Doing things God’s way is always best. When God’s people do not follow His ways, the consequences can be extremely painful and discouraging. God promised the people of Israel joy and fulfillment if they would live according to His ways, but their failure to follow Him ultimately cost them everything.  He said to Israel: “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. But My people did not listen to Me; Israel did not obey Me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own plans.” (Psalm 81:10-12)

One of God’s most devastating acts of discipline is when He allows us to experience the natural consequences of doing things our way instead of His way.

-- Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby and Claude King in “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God”


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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

OVERFLOWING LIFE

“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  (Titus 3:4-7)

We fence God in by the boundaries of our experience. "How much do Daddy and Mommy love you?" we ask a three-year-old; and the child stretches baby arms to their limit while answering happily, "This much!"  Yes, indeed -- and vastly more.  But a child's capacity to perceive and to describe is limited by the length of his arms and the measure of his experience.

So it is with our expectations when we acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives.  After all, we have so little basis for comparison.  Our secular culture promises extravagant possibilities from miracle drugs, or from investments, or from the lottery genie that may drive to our address.  We evaluate such problems cautiously, as we should; and then we recognize, with pain, that we need much more than that, and we want much more.  Something deep within insists that life ought to hold more.  But we rarely realize that the "much more," the overflowing life we desire, awaits us in Jesus Christ.  We think He is a membership to be joined, a cause to which we enlist, a doctrine to which we will subscribe.  We are slow to understand that He is a King in whom all of life finds a new center and a new circumference, new time and new eternity.

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


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Monday, May 20, 2019

SERVING GOD

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  (1 Corinthians 9:6-8 NIV)

One of the principal rules of religion is, to lose no occasion of serving God. And, since He is invisible to our eyes, we are to serve Him in our neighbor; which He receives as if done to Himself in person, standing visibly before us.

-- John Wesley in “A Plain Account of Christian Perfection"


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Friday, May 17, 2019

GOD’S WORD, ALIVE AND POWERFUL

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”  (Hebrews 4:12 NLT)

Have you ever read a verse [of Scripture] scores of times and yet never had it affect you? Then you casually pass by it again and -- ZAP! -- it hits you squarely between your heart and mind.

There are times when you welcome the Spirit's intrusion. The new insight makes you smile. Out of nowhere you see what God means. A bright new idea opens up.

At other times… no smiles. The new insight only brings a groan or tears. You're convicted of manipulating a friend. You're crushed over snubbing a new coworker. Shamed for gossiping about a neighbor, you've been wounded by the Word of God, and you have no excuse not to obey from then on.

Andrew Murray put it this way: "Jesus has no tenderness toward anything that is ultimately going to ruin a person in service to Him. If God brings to mind a verse which hurts you, you may be sure that there is something He wants to hurt."

That's the way God works. He is so exacting. That's because He doesn't want us to see our disobedience vaguely or in general. Specific verses have a way of convicting us specifically.

-- Joni Eareckson Tada in “Glorious Intruder


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Thursday, May 16, 2019

ENGAGEMENT WITH GOD’S WORD

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  (Matthew 7:24 NIV)

More people these days feel an absence in their lives, expressed as an acute desire for "something more," a spiritual home, a community of faith.  But when they try to read the Bible, they end up throwing it across the room.  To me, this seems encouraging, a good place to start, a sign of real engagement with the God who is revealed in the Scripture.  Others find it easy to dismiss the Bible out of hand, as negative, vengeful, violent.  I can only hope that they are rejecting the violence-as-entertainment of movies and television on the same grounds, and that they say a prayer every time they pick up a daily newspaper or turn on CNN.  In the context of real life, the Bible seems refreshingly whole, an honest reflection on humanity in relation to the sacred and the profane.  I can't learn enough about it, but I also have to trust what little I know, and proceed, in faith, to seek God there.

-- Kathleen Norris in “Amazing Grace”


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