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Theology => Apologetics => Topic started by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:03:05 PM



Title: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:03:05 PM
Changing Minds, Changing Directions, Changing Lives

    Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (1 Cor.5:17).

Coming into the transforming presence of God is something that will open our eyes to a great many things. Drawing near to Him will guarantee that we will begin to rethink the way we think, and question the way we have always considered things to be. We progress forward toward Him until we face areas we may be unwilling to give up, or that we are not wanting to consider changing. It's then that we shelter our eyes from His light as He reveals truth that we choose not to see.
The painful reality is most painful to our flesh. Our flesh chooses to cling to that which is loved in the flesh--those things that are of this earth which bring to us a sense of security and comfort. Our flesh is unwilling to part with such things or even to consider doing so. It is not until we can willingly deny ourselves and selfish nature, that we will move forward toward God. It is not until we are willing to abandon all we have ever treasured, believed or thought we knew, that we will truly "throw off everything that hinders" so that we can fully come into the transforming presence of our Lord.
I have heard people ask, in reference to heaven, "What will there be to do up there?" or "What will we do for fun?" Such questions seem innocent enough, yet they are contrived only out of that part of humanity that seeks self-pleasure--the part that "savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men." To think otherwise is to yield to the self-deceit of the flesh, allowing our thinking to remain imprisoned by the thoughts which once led us, rather than our thinking being transformed in the presence of God. To seek heaven is to seek God and to forsake self and that which is pleasing to self. For, "whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it" (Lk.17:33).
A great many things hinder us from coming into the transforming presence of God. Continuing to hold to ideas, philosophies, patriotisms and beliefs that we once held before we stepped into the light--those things will hinder us from moving toward God. Continuing to cling to earthly desires, careers, ambitions and success as we defined them before we came to Christ--those too will hinder us and cause us not only to hesitate from moving toward God--they will cause us to turn away.
The question of "What will we do in heaven for fun?" should change to "Whom will we be with?" For Christ died so that we might come to the Father, heaven happens to be the place wherein we shall be with Him. Going to Heaven means going to be with and live with God, if that does not sound like "fun" to us, then we might want to examine our hearts to discover what our true treasures are and where our true loyalties lie. We cannot claim to truly love God while refusing to come closer to Him because we are unwilling to let go of what we cling to on this earth. Remember Lot's wife. She clung to what she was supposed to be leaving behind. Life was in front of her, yet she turned instead to lifelessness.
We are new creatures in Christ, and just as a butterfly does not try to live like a caterpillar, so we should remember that we are not as once we were--nor should we act like it.

    And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. . .But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt (Gen.19:17,26).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:04:28 PM
Job Security

    The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry
    but He thwarts the craving of the wicked (Proverbs 10:3).

The Lord does not condone laziness, nor does He condone the use of scripture to make the level of one's work-effort justifiable. Some might explain that they do not need to worry about working because the Lord will provide for their needs. This is true. We do not have to, nor should we, worry about working so that our needs will be met (Mt.6:25-34). However, it is also true that we are not to use such reasoning to excuse personal laziness. But this is only one side of the coin and hardly a side anyone dare try to argue as correct. For we will find it equally true that scripture is misused if it is used to excuse one's excessive work efforts.
If we are to examine the reasons why we work today--and more-so, the reasons why both mother and father "have" to work--we are sure to find a multitude of good sounding reasons, and those often scripturally backed.

"A man's gotta eat."
It is a well known fact that we must eat to live, and lesser known that many of us live to eat. Nevertheless, we mark this first cliché as "Reason #1." And there is a solid verse of scripture that seems to firmly back it up. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." There is certainly no error in the verse, but there is often error within the application of the verse. For there are more who will use this scripture to provide support to their need to work and work many hours, or put work ahead of their family, God or church; than there are those who use it in reference to someone in the body of Christ who does not work. And as we have grown accustomed to Reason #1, we find that we no longer bat an eye at having to work on Sundays. That which at one time was unthinkable for a Christian, has now become the acceptable.

"A man who does not provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever."
This is a powerful statement that could become cliché if not for the fact that it is straight from scripture. 1 Timothy 5:8 tells us, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." Yet even as with Reason #1, this one (Reason #2) is more often quoted to support one's reasons why they must work, than to why they should. Reason's we must work often include: to pay the bills, and to provide for our needs. However, these are often the reasons that only graze the surface of our true motivations.

The reasons seem very valid until we get beneath the surface layer of rationale and logical explanation. What we often find motivates us to work is not a desire to fulfill our obligations to God and family, instead it is fear. For example, when we consider getting laid off from work or being a casualty of a company down-sizing, do we see ourselves disheartened because we cannot do that which God has directed. Of course not. We know that God honors our efforts to do His will. He is not going to chastise us for not supporting our families if there are no jobs currently available. Suddenly being out of work does not make us feel disobedient to God, it makes us feel frightened. Frightened of the trouble we will find ourselves in when we cannot pay our bills, rent or mortgage. Frightened of the possibilities that we might not be covered by a company medical plan and suddenly have an illness in the family. Or Frightened because the job market is at an all time low.
If we honestly look inside our hearts, we might find that what makes us work two or three jobs, or jobs that exceed 40 or 50 hours a week is not a desire to honor God, but a desire to feel comfortable and financially secure. And to find that security through the work of our own hands while quoting scripture to back it up. One has to wonder how much we really rely upon and trust in our Heavenly Father, when we work so hard to do for ourselves.
Just think, at the end of it all we can look back and say to ourselves, "I carved out a life for myself with these two hands." And we can pat ourselves on the back with those two hands, while trying to remember what joy we gained by the fruits of our labor.
We do not have to struggle to make ends meet. We need simply to obey God and trust that He is good for His word, "The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry."


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:05:00 PM
The Taste Test

    Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good (1 Pt.2:2-3).

Many of us have been approached at a supermarket entrance by someone performing a taste test. They want us to test two or more products and then respond by telling them which product was the one that we liked the best. Its sometimes hard to distinguish one product from another if the products are extremely similar. But there are other times when we might be offered something that we like against something we do not really care for. Our response in the latter instance is usually much quicker and easier to make.
In Psalm 34:8, David encourages us, "O taste and see that the LORD [is] good: blessed [is] the man [that] trusteth in him." If we held a taste test between item "a" (The Lord), and item "b" (the world), which do you think would win? What we would discover might not surprise us, in fact, it would most likely sadden us. But consider the tasters in the test. They are people who have been enjoying item "b" (the world) for all their lives. Many have not tasted item "a" at all, and many who have, have done so incorrectly. In other words, you cannot get an accurate account of a new taste, while the old one lingers in your mouth. That is why it is necessary to repent, turn away from, those things you have been tasting all your life as we come to God. We cannot get a true representation of God's person while we cling to those things of the earth that tickle our taste buds.
Let me briefly illustrate. A good judge of a pie baking contest or chili cook-off will not go from one item directly to the next. He will taste one item and then use some means to clear his palate, some means that will clear his mouth of the taste of one item before proceeding to the next. This gives him a better representation of the taste of each with out confusing the lot. Let us then consider once more that we cannot truly taste of the fullness of God's goodness, while the taste of those things we have embraced that are not of Him still lingers.
To conclude, let us consider something else. The more we taste of God, the more our tastes will be transformed. The things that once tickled our taste buds will seem bitter or perhaps begin to make us gag or become sick to our stomachs. Many people can think of a time where they had gotten sick enough to vomit, and can associate that time with a particular food. They often lose the taste for that food and never want to taste it again. In fact, the very idea of eating it often makes them nauseous. As we turn from the tastes of the world, clearing our palates of that taste--so to speak, and we taste of the goodness of God, we will begin to be repulsed by the mere thought of speaking, thinking or doing things we once embraced. Living as a Christian becomes much easier when we savor the things that are of God, and sin is so much easier to gain victory over when all it ever does is leave a bad taste in our mouths.

    Bread of deceit [is] sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel (Proverbs 20:17).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:05:51 PM
A Time To Be Weaned

    In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil (Heb.5:12-14).

To come into the consuming presence of God is to taste His goodness. Once again we recall David's words, "O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him" (Psalms 34:8). Tasting God's goodness will cause us to desire more of what He has to offer, so long as the tastes for the things of this world do not linger in our mouths. As we come nearer to God and continue to taste of His goodness, those tastes we once desired will begin to lose their appeal. Our appetite for the things we embraced in the darkness will diminish, and will begin to leave a bad taste in our mouths if we taste of those things once more. Yet it is not enough that our tastes be changed, they must also continue to change and to mature.
Herein lies a problem. So many of us come to the Lord and taste that He is good. We become satisfied with what we first receive and become content to remain at that place--the place wherein we first tasted of the Lord's goodness. But even as a baby must someday begin to eat solid foods, so must we. Our first taste of God is not something that should make us desire to curl up with our spiritual bottles and be babied the rest of our lives. We were not meant to remain in a condition in which we require someone to hold us and feed us and pamper us. Instead we are meant to be in that condition for a short time. And during the days of our spiritual infancy, we do need someone to care for us and guide us and help us to develop into mature children of God. But that is just the beginning of a long growth process; in which, as we mature, we become the ones who help care for the spiritual infants.
So what happens when the infants do not mature? When those who "ought to be teachers, . . .need someone to teach. . .the elementary truths of God's word all over again," do we wind up with a church full of baby Christians--or lifeless ones perhaps? If the teachers in the church have had no one to teach them, how many teachers still have need of being taught? How many church leaders still hold to the "elementary truths" because they themselves have not tasted the mature food that God provides?
It is a sad reason why so many of us do not mature, one that is wrapped up in an old cliché-- "We want to have their cake, and eat it too." We want to straddle the fence, living in a place wherein we can hold the milk of God in our right hand and a plate of worldly cake in the left. This is nothing more than a selfish and bratty mentality--clinging to that which we crave--refusing to let go for any reason. The problem is that the milk of God does not go with the cake of this world, nor will it ever. And until we release the cake of the world, and move beyond the milk, we will never experience the fullness and favor of the fruits of righteousness.
The reasons we cling to cake and milk are pleasure sustaining wishful thoughts. These thoughts keep us from moving forward toward God, they keep us from maturing and they keep us from truly caring about others the way God desires us to. They keep us at a place wherein we require teaching, and wherein we do not teach anyone else above our immature understandings of the Kingdom of God. If we truly want to ever help others in their Christian walk, we must be willing to forsake the world, and continue moving toward God.

    "You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? (Jn.3:10).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:07:00 PM
In Spirit And In Truth

    Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father is spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth (Jn.4:23-24).

What is worship? Is it some fanatical display designed to peak the awareness of God through an emotional outpour? Is it an organized meeting which draws our attention toward God through structure and deliberate methods? Perhaps it is a time that an individual sets aside each day to read the Bible and to pray. In truth, it is none of these, because each can be done completely within the flesh and may never draw our attentions toward God, and because each were described only in the perspective of what can be seen with human eyes. True worship cannot be seen, due to the nature of true worship being something that is done in the spirit. What can be seen with the eye is the fruit of worship--physical expressions of inward events.
Unfortunately worship, like so many other things, is something that we seem to misunderstand unless we can see some tangible evidence that it exists. So it becomes easier to cut to the chase and skip the worship "in spirit and in truth" all together. If certain physical expressions are attached to the exercise of worship then why not take short cuts to get the results we are LOOKING for? This kind of thinking can motivate large numbers of people to "do" worship in the flesh without ever connecting with God in the spirit. We wind up putting the proverbial cart before the horse--as though our worshipful actions will invoke the Holy Spirit to come upon us. When in truth, it is as we come in contact with the Spirit that He invokes within us a response that may include outward expressions. And those expression that may not fit into our preconceived ideas of what outward worship should LOOK like.
If we need to SEE outward expressions so that we can determine that we have truly worshipped, then we have missed the point. For in so doing, we go into worship more concerned with what we will do to worship, than Whom we will be worshipping. Our contentment then does not rest in whether or not we meet God, but in whether or not our actions to worship meet our individual, or collective, approval.
Some say that true worship leads to physical manifestations such as speaking in tongues, raising hands or being so overcome by the Spirit that one would grow weak in the knees and fall to the ground. Some say that true worship does not include any of that, but that it is something that is done deliberately and is well organized because, "God is not the author of confusion." Yet in both cases, what is failed to seen is that true worship is not seen--it is a matter of the heart. And if it is seen only in terms of what can be seen, then it is not seen at all. For we are to worship in "spirit and in truth," not in "sight and acceptable practices." We cannot measure what takes place in the spirit by what is seen, but we can most certainly, and often do, quench it.

    1 Thessalonians 5:19:
    Quench not the Spirit (KJV). Do not put out the Spirit's fire (NIV).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:07:35 PM
Draw Near to God

    "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:8).

Monday
Strengthened by the words of Sunday morning,
guided by the thoughts of yesterday,
we often find our greatest expectations,
get lost within the passing of a day.

"God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (Jn.4:24). To worship God is to draw near to Him. "There is a way that seems right to a man," yet many of our ways are so far away from the right ways that though we follow the path with the best intentions, we miss the road-signs that tell us we're going the wrong way. Drawing near to God is an act of relationship, not religion. All of the quiet times in the world will be useless if there is an absence of focus on God.
True, there are benefits from reading the Bible and praying at any time. These righteous acts will put us in mind of heavenly matters in an earthly realm. But if the righteous acts become the focus over God then what we do is seldom empowered by God, and often initiated by human effort.
We can take what we hear in sermons or in Sunday school, and we can add what we read each day from God's Word, and still come up short to get what we need to get us through the day, let alone an entire week. In fact, a person could fill all of their waking hours with Christian music, Bible reading, recorded sermons and prayer, and still feel empty and dry. It may be a person that could practically quote the entire Bible, chapter and verse, yet he could still have a look of defeatedness in his eyes.
I have often heard others say (and I have said it myself) that they were going through a dry time--a time when it did not matter what they did, they just could not seem to get anything out of their quiet times and Bible readings. They mention that their prayers just seem to be going into the air, and that it does not seem like there is any kind of connection with God. I personally do not know a Christian who has not been through such a time, but I do know that the Scripture says, "Draw near to God, and He WILL draw near to you." And we may do just that and still not feel the way we think that we should. But I once heard someone say, "Some days I don't feel much like a Christian, but that does not change the fact that I am a Christian."
But dry times can come to earlier ends when we deliberately shift our focus off of the cares of this life and on to Christ. Music, Bible reading, sermons and prayer are more easily accomplished and carried out by a soul that has first set their eyes upon the Lord. As we draw near to God we come closer to His Peace in the midst of difficult circumstances. We come closer to His Joy in the midst of sorrow. We come closer to the Person of the Heavenly Father and discover what it means to be children of God.
When we enter our quiet times of devotion and Bible reading, we should do what is necessary to first shift our focus to our Lord. To begin with, we can ask Him to help us to do so. We can also listen to music or reflect on poetry about God or meditate on a verse of scripture to help us draw near to Him. Whatever we do it should be something that speaks about God's person and draws us to consider Him for who He is. This will enable us to better focus on Him throughout the day. This will better enable us to draw near to God, and this will better enable us to rise above religious rhetoric, and enjoy our Christianity by clinging to God in a daily, thriving relationship.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:08:22 PM
The Message Received

    Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).

From church to church, from Sunday to Sunday, there is a message that is communicated to congregating Christians and visitors alike. What that message is may vary depending upon the denomination, creed, pastor and people. Yet, within all, there is a line that can often be drawn. It is a line that separates the message of God from the message of man. And to our loss we may discover that, regardless of sermon and song, the message that is often received is one of "Be like us," rather than, "Be like Christ."
There are many people who do not go to church. If asked why, most often the reply has something to do with the people in the church, rather that the words that come from the pulpit. We have all heard and more than likely believe that, "Actions speak louder than words." So if it were that a church had to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ without a word, what would it be saying? Do the nonverbal communications of a Sunday morning congregation express the love of Christ through unconditional love, or the peace of God by demonstrating a faith that reaches beyond life's circumstances? Does the congregation, without a word, tell an onlooker that what God has said is true and that He can help them to live an abundant life in the midst of a lost and confused world? Perhaps our message is one of struggle more than one of strength, one of defeatedness more than one of victory. If we sing "Oh victory in Jesus" yet we look beaten by the world, who then have we demonstrated has victory over us?
Nevertheless, we cling to our beliefs and promote our ideologies with incongruency and contradiction. Not that it is wrong to cling to or to promote, but that this cannot be done in word alone, for we know what the scripture says, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves" (James 1:22).
Relying on words alone to testify to a lost world will most often leave people looking for answers. They hear our words about the "Power in the blood" and they begin to see a glimmer of hope for themselves. Then they look into our anemic lifestyles and turn away in disappointment, continuing their search for what can bring them what they need to fill the void in their hearts.
Is the message of the Church, "Be like us?" Do people feel that joining a church means that they will be expected to act and do as those within its congregation? If so, the wrong message is getting across and what they are hearing is that if they want to be holy then they need to heed our creed--if they want to be saved then they must surrender what they feel, think and do and become like us. Rather than seeing that they can take the yoke of Christ which is easy, and take Christ's burden which is light; they see that they must take on the heavy burdens of religious do's and don'ts, and therefore feel as though they are giving up life, rather than finding it.
But if the message of the Church is, "Be like Christ," then they are free to discover who Christ is in them. They are free to come to Him just as they are and to be accepted with unconditional love, and they are free to give up their lives in the world so that they can find true life in Christ. This message will help them to find Christ before Christianity, and it will enable them to bear spiritual fruit as a result of Christ dwelling within them, not as a result of group pressure within a congregation, telling them to do this or that.
Belief in the person of Christ is not justified by consensus of the majority, it is justified as it is expressed and lived out in the lives of those who follow Him.
What message do we want to communicate? To say "Be like us" is easy, as it sets the standard based upon what we have done with what Christ has given us. But to say "Be like Christ," sets a higher standard that requires us not to rest within our beliefs, but to see them worked out in our lives and lifestyles so that the message that is seen by onlookers, is the same as the one that is heard.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:10:07 PM
Consider the Cross

    And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me (Mt.10:38).

Consider the cross. It was once a symbol of death, but now a symbol of beauty to adorn wearers of necklaces, earrings, and the like. The cross was a symbol of the end--to take up the cross was to walk a road of hopelessness and helplessness. It once evoked feelings of dread and despair in the hearts of those who lived in the time of Roman crucifixions. But it now evokes thoughts and feelings of pleasantry as one gazes upon its aesthetic qualities or craftsmanship. And yet there are those who still look upon it today with an entirely different outlook. To them it is a symbol of life through the death of one, it is a symbol of hope and new beginning and it is a symbol of the manifest love of a Heavenly Father for his children. Within these sentiments we find the true meaning of the cross.
During this season, we take a closer look at the cross. We consider what it meant to the people of the time and what it means to us today. And we consider what it meant to Christ and to His Father. We remember how Christ took up a cross, and willingly gave up His life so that many others could find life. Christ, "who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb.12:2). And we consider how "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor.5:21).
We consider "what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" (1 Jn.3:1). And how great a love this is, for "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn.15:13). And "Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom.5:7-8). And "Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren" (1Jn.3:16).
So now let us consider the cross in our own lives today and every day. How Christ says to us, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?" (Lk.9:23-25). Therefore we do not look at the cross to see Jesus alone, but to see that we should say even as Paul, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal.2:20).
The world once looked upon the cross as a symbol of suffering and shame. Much of the world around us today looks upon it as a religious icon without considering its implications, or they simply see it as an adornment worn on necklaces and the like--seeing it as not much different than a peace symbol. And though it invokes thoughts of Christ's sacrifice and death in the hearts of Christ's followers, it equally carries a meaning of self-death and self-sacrifice in the hearts of those who will follow Christ each day--giving up rights to personal desires and wants in this lifetime.
Consider the cross. How far will you carry it? How willing are you to die to self and personal desires so that you can live to Christ? Will you say as Paul, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil.1:21). Will you forfeit your rights to a life of your choice on this earth so that God's glory may be manifested in Heaven? Remember once again Christ's words, "whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?"
It was necessary that Christ should die that others, through Him, might live; and it is necessary for us to die to self if we want to see a dying world find life in Christ through us.

    And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me (Mt.10:38).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:11:15 PM
Desert Rain

    As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you , O God
    (Psalms 42:1).

"The dry and thirsty land, where no water is. . ." (Ps.63:1).
We often spend our summer days looking forward to the next rain; while at the same time dreading the possibility of heavy storms. As the ground hardens and sometimes cracks and the farmers crops begin to droop, we pray for rain to come and quench the "dry and thirsty land." But when the storm is upon us and winds gust and giant trees are whipped back and forth, and lightning cracks and thunder booms; it is a time we hope to get the rain we have prayed for without anyone or anything being hurt by the violent storms that accompany. But storms bring rain and rain brings growth, and through the storms the land receives what it needs to be sustained.
"My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. . ." (Ps.42:2).
The dry spells of the soul can at times be almost unbearable. Accompanying symptoms may include a hardening of the heart, a feeling of spiritual numbness, a loss of compassion and a feeling of isolation. It is a time when the human need for God is fully realized and it is a time when God is recognized as what we need to sustain us, to bring us out of dry times that harden and crack the soul.
"The rain falls on the just, and the unjust. . ."
We know without a doubt that though we are able to call ourselves children of God, we are not exempt from the storms of this life. In deed, some who belong to God suffer more greatly than some who do not. Yet, within it all, those who have learned to call upon the name of the Lord have learned as well that the storms of this life seem threatening at first, but in the end they are a blessed relief from the dry times that constantly pursue us. And though some storms would seem to devastate us, those are the storms that God can use to make us rise above the circumstances--stronger than before.
We seem at times a desert place. Our strength dries up and all that once seemed vibrant within, seems to have wilted in the seemingly endless heat. Perhaps it is within the tendency to gravitate toward self-fulfillment that we find ourselves within the driest times of our lives--times that we choose to find our own way to satisfy what we believe we need. We seek after the waters of this life that look to be all we could hope for, but in the end they are stagnate pools of bitter waters. They hold no real redeeming value, and not only do they not quench the thirsts we have, they leave us worse off than when we came to them.
But though our tendency is toward self-fulfilling waters, there is within us all a desire to come to the rivers of life. It is when we can say as David did, "My soul thirst for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?" that we will once more draw near to God--allowing  His rains to cleanse our nurture our souls. Where once we sought the apparently pleasant waters of this earth, we now find the greatest blessings in the midst of the rain storms.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:11:59 PM
Bringing It Down To Earth

    What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
    (Philippians 3:8).

The presence of God is the most holy place. It is the place wherein we come and in essence remove the sandals from our feet. For how we clothe ourselves to walk in this world is not fitting as we tread upon the holy ground to approach the presence of God. And entering into His presence causes us to realize our need. We see ourselves for who we really are in comparison to Him, and we see our imperfection and inadequacy. But this does not spur us to retreat in shame, but instead, we confidently approach the throne of grace because of the work of Christ.
But how do we approach Him? Much about this only seems to touch the spiritual, how do we bring it down to earth?
To begin with, we know that sin keeps us from coming into the presence of God, sin--and even more so--the desire to cling to sin. Our sins have been forgiven us and therefore are no longer a wall that separate us from God's Salvation (Jesus tore down that wall). Instead, they separate us from His fellowship, and become a greater barrier when we refuse to let go of them.
Clinging to anything behind us will keep us from moving forward. Remember what the writer of Hebrews has said, "let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles" (12:1). This is our act of repentance: to turn away from what is behind us and to press on toward the Holy place of God. We see that the kingdom to which we belong is not of this earth, and so we shake the dust of this earth from our feet and set our focus on the Kingdom of God. Our goals, ambitions and dreams for a life on this earth will fade, and our desires will be transformed and our hearts will no longer cling to the treasures of this world.
While letting go (of sin, the world, our wants, etc.) is the first step to drawing near to God; clinging to Christ as Lord and Master is the second step. Jesus tells us, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Lk.9:23). We move away from our past that is wrapped up on self-fulfillment, and we follow the path of Christ that leads to righteousness (or right living).
The path that leads to righteousness is where we bring the vague idea of drawing near to God down to earth. While drawing near to God is a spiritual matter, there are several things we can physically do to help us draw near. But to put it simply, we can say it in one statement, "be like Christ." The writer of Hebrews encourages, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith" (12:2). Christ is the physical representation of God. He is our example to follow. To be like Christ is to draw near to God. Christ prayed, therefore we must pray. He knew scripture and we too must not only read, but gain understanding of and memorize scripture. He served others more than self. He sacrificed His rights to anything from this life. He was fully devoted to the work of God. If we are to draw near to God, this is the path we must follow. It will not do us any good to wish we could be more Christ-like if we are not willing to follow in His path.
Christ Jesus, while on earth, walked each day fully in the presence of God the Father. He has come to dwell in each of us who believe in Him, to provide to us all we need to follow God as He did. But, the truth be known, the reason so many of us struggle with step two (following Jesus), is because we have failed to accomplish step 1 (denying self). As long as we refuse to let go of our endearments in this life, we cannot fully draw near to God, we cannot be the child of God we desire to be and we cannot be effectively used to draw a lost world to Jesus. The song says, "I surrender all."  How much have we given up so others might find life?
In considering the vague ideas of the spiritual calling in our lives, we realize we need to find ways to bring it down to earth so that we can better understand what we can do to draw near to God. But God understands all of our needs better than we do, and He has already brought it down to earth within the physical manifestation of His Son--Jesus.

To follow Jesus, we must learn to let go of this life. If we are to be the agents of change we must be willing to be changed. A lost world is counting on us.

    But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ (Philippians 3:7).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:12:59 PM
Abstinence

    Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us
    (1 Peter 2:11-12).

What comes to mind when the word abstinence is brought up has a great deal more to do with our present culture than to the word itself. If you were to ask someone today what they think about "abstinence" you would probably not be surprised to hear an answer pertaining to the other person's viewpoint on sexual restraint and promiscuity. But let's see if we can broaden our view of this word to encompass the ideas Peter was trying to convey to the readers of his letter.
While sexual abstinence is an important issue, it hardly touches the surface of the broad spectrum of the "sinful desires, which war against the soul." sexual sin gets a great deal of attention as do other sins that seem to be the "bad" ones--ones that make our jaws drop or perhaps peak our interests--or perhaps even still, provide us a good conversational topic. But the sins that truly so easily beset us seldom climb to reach the heights of the perceived "top ten" of the "Worst Sins" list.
Peter warns us to "abstain from sinful desires, which war against the soul." And if our attentions are drawn to the so called "bad" sins, we will easily overlook the subtle sins that will keep us held captive to them, so that we do not experience the freedom we should know in Christ.
One particular subtle sin is the sin of the "I's." It is, unfortunately, a sin that holds many of us within its grip. As most sins, the sin of the "I's" begins within the heart. It may take the shape of discontentment, feelings of uneasiness, feelings of need or desires to be heard, liked, understood, desired, adored, etc. Whatever shape it takes, it will quickly draw a person's attentions and focus inward, to where what is seen first and foremost is what, "I want," "I feel," " I need," " I deserve," or "I don't" want, feel, need, or deserve.
To put it simply, the sin that so easily besets us is self-centeredness. This might in fact be the root of all sin, for all sin springs from a desire to please self regardless of what God wants for us.
It is a simple thing that we see our selfishness as the root of our sin, yet it is profoundly odd that we, knowing this about selfishness, would be as sheep led astray because we long for greener grass.
In our seeking to draw near to God, we know we must abstain from sinful desires. To abstain, we first must stop neglecting the "lesser sins," for they are the subtle sins that will beset us, defeat us and draw us further away from God to look for the presumed "greener grass."
The subtle lies of the devil will lead us to rationalize reasons to possess that which pleases us. But the truth of Christ will lead us to deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily and follow Him. How long will we go on believing Satan's lies? He took Jesus to the top of a mountain and offered Him the world--Jesus refused. But the devil has tempted us with a few creature comforts in this life, and we have bought the lie--hook, line and sinker.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:14:15 PM
Who Has Suffered

    Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God (1 Pt.4:1-2).

The writer of Hebrews tells us, "In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood" (12:4). There is a willingness to forego earthly desire for the sake of Christ, and there is a willingness to suffer for the cause of Christ. It is a willingness that puts aside human want to follow the will of God. It is a willingness, however, that escapes the largest portion the Church as we know it.
It is a stiff necked people who stand tall and proud and refuse to bow to the Lord. It is a deceived people who bow heads to give thanks for three full meals a day, yet refuse to bow to the will of God if He would ask them to give up some of what they have grown accustomed to. The majority of the Christian Church of the United States is such a people. May God have mercy on us all, and no longer withdraw His Hand, for we are in need of His discipline.
We gather each Sunday to praise Him with our lips, but our hearts are far from Him. We sing songs of worship being more concerned with how much we like the song's tempo or familiarity rather than whether it is offered as a vocal sacrifice to the Lord. We listen to sermon after sermon, only to pick at the preacher's oratory abilities afterwards and behind his back.
We are they who have a form of godliness while denying the power thereof. Trusting our human appraisal of things and our reasoning abilities to deal with difficult, or even daily, circumstances; while claiming that we trust God for everything. We trust our own hands for provision of sustenance. We trust our financial fortitude for the promotion of church growth, building programs and organized activity. We enter into business discussions about the church with little mention of God's will, with the exception of a brief, traditional opening prayer.
We are they who cling to our ways, our lifestyles, our likes and our wants, refusing to let go without a fight (or perhaps, without a church split). And somehow within it all, we have deceived ourselves into believing that we are living as righteously as is humanly possible, and that we are making valiant efforts to carry out the will of God.
Woe to us. For we have become so blinded by our selfish desires that the truth of righteous living has escaped us. We have become blind leaders of the blind. For we mix our desires from this life with our desires for the next, and hope we can keep from slipping too far in either direction. For the one side of the fence would mean that we are godless, and no better than the lost world and all their godless lusts. And fully dwelling on the other side of the fence would mean giving up those things we treasure of the world--the same world we think to live above. We are a selfish and bratty people who want our cake and eat it too.
We are a people who want to be entertained. We want church to be an enjoyable experience that will keep people coming back. It would seem that fellowship with other believers and with God is not enough. We must gear functions and services to a level suitable to the liking of the majority or else they might lose interest and stay home and watch television where they are sure to be entertained. Rather than the church setting the standards, it has chosen to bow to the world as if to say, "If you can't beat'em, join'em." We reason that a church needs money to function, and therefore needs members to have money, and so it makes perfect sense that it should be formatted in a fashion that will attract the most people--or at least the ones with money. And if that means bringing football into the church on Superbowl Sunday--why not? After all, we have determined that we can't compete with what the world offers.
And so in our efforts, out from our human reasoning and in order to sustain what we desire, we have modeled the church after the world. And in essence have limited the choices of the world around us. For once upon a time, people saw the distinct qualities of the local church. It was a place where, when they finally grew up and got serious about life, they would come to discover truth, purpose and the will of God. Now days, what does the church have to offer anyone who is searching but more of the same?
It is time the church remembers what it means to set the standard and stop trying to compete with the world in order to grow a membership.
It is time we stop deceiving ourselves to think that we can have our cake and eat it too--having an eternal inheritance with Christ in Glory; while partaking of earthly delectables.



Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:15:36 PM
The Souls Purpose: To Be Profoundly Filled

    God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground
    (Gen.1:28).

(There are many scriptures which demonstrate marvelous parallels between one thing, event or truth and another. We can read scripture closely and often find spiritual truth that is not at first obvious. But they are truths that exist between the lines of fact and description. This may seem to some as though we are reading into the scripture something that is not there. And while we cannot promote such parallel interpretations as fact, we cannot ignore the possibility of such an existence of the parallel truths God would demonstrate through His Word. Jesus Himself used simple parables to teach more profound spiritual realities. In saying the kingdom of Heaven is like a tree that sprouted from a mustard seed, He is not saying it is a tree. And when Jesus related a story of the man with the ten talents, He did not do so to relate a story, but the spiritual truth within the story. And though Genesis does not say that the flood was to be a symbol of the baptism we would receive as believers, Peter uses the simple story of the flood to describe a more profound truth within it (1 Peter3:13-22). )

God's commands should be taken at face value. God is very clear in what He desires from us. It is we who muddy the waters with excuse, worldly thought and human reasoning, causing God's will to be something vague and difficult to understand. God's commands have immediate implications that require long lasting commitment and obedience. We hear God's Word, take Him at His Word, and loyally obey Him today and every tomorrow. Adam and Eve were to physically carry out what God commanded. They were to fill the earth, subdue it and rule over it (all the creatures of it).
Secondly, the deeper truths are wrapped up in all that lingers on. This is what separates God's living and active Word from that of human decision and effort. Very little is perpetuated out from human thought and reason for a long while. Though some human effort may produce residuals for a time, God's Word continues to produce residual benefits into eternity.

There are three instructions that God gave to Adam and Eve shortly after He created them. He told them to fill the earth, to subdue it and to rule over it. These commands could be seen as the outward expression of an inward truth. An amazing parallel that seems to exist is one which would put the course of man and the course of earth in a similar path. Simply put, even as the earth goes--so goes mankind. The earth was created a empty mass, it was brought to life beneath the active work of God's own hand, it was baptized with water--and finally--it will be recreated in a non-corruptible form. As Christians, we were once an empty soul, we were brought to life beneath the active Hand of God, we were baptized with water and will be recreated in a non-corruptible body.
Adam and Eve were commanded to fill the earth. We are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. They were commanded to subdue and rule over the earth. We are told we must learn to subdue and rule over our flesh.
Consider this, that even as the earth has been filled physically, we are to be filled spiritually with God. Everywhere we look on the earth it is teaming with life. Life that God brought. Life that God commanded to go forth and multiply.
The Spark of life within each of us that began when we came to God through Christ, was never meant to remain a spark, even as Adam and Eve were never meant to remain the only two human beings on the face of the planet. The Spark that Christ began in us is to spread so that everywhere within us that someone else might look, is filled with the Life that God has brought forth. Our design is much like that of the earth, and our glory is to be filled.

    And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit (Eph.5:18).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:16:29 PM
Watching

    Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ love us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Eph.5:1-2).

During an effort to pass out flyers for an upcoming revival, I approached a lady working behind the counter of a rental store. I began to tell her about the revival and tried to encourage her to go. She began to briefly explain why she would not be able to go. I tried to encourage her further and soon found myself on the other side of a verbal attack. However the attack was not personal, she pretty much attacked everyone I was affiliated with. Yet, after she calmed down and we talked further the true issues began to surface. She was angry because there were others who had come before me, some who were part of the local Christian college. The same college from which she claimed came a great many of her delinquent or non-paying customers.
The woman claimed that she realized that they were struggling students and that she tried to be understanding. But she could not understand how people who called themselves Christians could sign agreements to make payments on rental items, only to fail to live up to their end of the agreement. These were Christians, and she was troubled and even angered because these should have been her better customers--not her worst.
How we live, work, do business and entertain ourselves, says a lot to the lost world around us. We may consider some things, such as delinquent payments or missed appointments or even forgetfulness to be trivial things. If so, then perhaps we do not consider that we are actually trivializing the thoughts and feelings of those who are left hanging because of us. Perhaps we need to consider our thoughts about someone who is a Christian who owes money to us and fails to pay. Such an occurrence might have us questioning that person's integrity.
It is reported that Ghandi stated that he would have converted to Christianity if he could have seen just one living example of the Christ proclaimed. We cannot go on being slack in our responsibilities and act as though it really does not matter. How can people trust us when we tell them that Jesus is who we say He is, if they cannot trust us to pay our debts, or keep our word, or make an effort to remember important information? They can't. And it may end up that those who did not trust Jesus, did not because they could not trust those who claim to follow him.

We are not perfect.  Yet, we are instructed to watch that we do not become stumbling blocks to others.  And while others may just be making excuses and using us as scapegoats, we cannot use that as an excuse for our own behavior.  The Lost souls need to see Jesus and to see His followers walking the talk--their very lives depend on it.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:17:07 PM
In the Fullness of Time

    He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field (Lk.10:2).

It has been said that history repeats itself. It is more than likely that we would all agree with that statement. Looking back through history reveals to the children of God, a world that moves forward when ignited by hearts seeking God, and a world that stumbles when they lose sight of Him. There is a cycle throughout our past that continues today and will do so into our future (how ever long that may be) on this earth. One generation boldly follows God, willing to die for God. A few generations later, we find a people who are content to be their own gods. It is then that God often allows them to suffer the consequences of their wickedness (Romans 1:18-32), and in so doing, many come to the end of themselves, yield to God and return to a path of righteousness. And as history would indicate--the process starts all over again.
We see in church history, times of great awakenings--times when the church seems to have been revived and people become strong in their faith once more. They are the times of revival that churches today look back on so fondly, and try so diligently to duplicate. Yet all the good intentions and valiant efforts return unto us void as we learn that we cannot fabricate revival when and where we choose, but that it is something that comes in the fullness of time.
The fullness of time is the time of harvest. It is the season of reaping what has been sown. even as the crops of a field must go through a process before being ready to be harvested, so the world must also. It is in due season that the planting is done, and it is in due season that the rains come (Lev.26:4), and it is "in due season we shall reap" (Gal.6:9). It is a process that will come to its fullness--its season of reaping. It is necessary for the children of God to find their place within God's process. To continue diligently in obedience to God, doing what He has given each of us to do. One does not harvest in the season of rain, and one does not plant in the season of harvest--so also we must find our place within the process so that "in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
The time is coming, and very soon, when our nation will come into a season of want. The people, having fed on their lusts, are realizing as Solomon did that it is all in vain--a "chasing after the wind." They are only now realizing their emptiness, and even those who seem to have it all have turned up wanting. We are entering into a season of hunger, driven by spiritual famine. For all who have not sown to the spirit are beginning to feel that they are starving to death. But not all have come to that realization, and so the fullness of the season has not yet come.
The time is coming, and very soon, when our nation will be given over to face the consequences of its actions. It will be the season of desperation. All that once was, will be gone. All that people held precious will be lost, and all that they had depended on for security in this life, will vanish. It will be the season of crisis--the turning point for many that leads them toward their only true hope, Jesus Christ. But it will also be the end for many, as they see no reason to go on. They will feel it is too late for them to turn to God, and seeing nowhere else to turn, they will end their own lives--many of whom had once called themselves Christians.
The time is coming when the fields will be ripe for the harvest. But it will not come by force and it will not be a shockwave set off by a man-made revival. It will only come when people come to the end of themselves and learn to quit trying to be the masters of their own destiny (lost souls and Christians alike).
We must continue diligently within the process, and prepare ourselves for the coming storms. For if we, like the world around us, spend our time sowing to reap the benefits of this world, this life and the pleasure thereof, then we too will suffer loss in the fullness of time.

    The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life (Gal.6:8).

    Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God (Rom.8:5-8).

    Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe" (Revelation 14:15).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:17:42 PM
What Stirs The Heart

    If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Sprit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose (Phil. 2:1-2).

Drawing near to God creates in each of us a sensitivity for the activity of the Spirit of our living Lord. At the mention of God and His activity, our hearts begin to dance. And not just that His Name is mentioned, but that it is fondly spoken of by others of like heart, and like spirit to that of your own. They too, thirst for the living God. They too desire to walk a blameless and holy life after the similitude of Jesus. They too become enthralled by discussions that center entirely around the work and person of the Lord. We find within moments with kindred spirits, a time of open and honest sharing that stirs our soul like nothing else.
Where two or more are gathered. . .
Prayer times can be elating. Within the moments of a simple quiet time, we can feel the presence of God so strongly that we cling to the moment and hope that it never pass. And as wonderful as those times are, they seldom are as uplifting as the times that two or more come together in like spirit to pray together to God. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus said, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." This does not imply that He is not with us when we are away from others. But see for yourself the difference as you come together with others who love God dearly. The presence of God is strong, and the moments within these quiet time circles are often extremely uplifting.
The Word of God is living. . .
God's Word is a wonderful source of encouragement and guidance. His Word is "living and powerful." It often moves and stirs the soul of the reader. And while it is a refreshing stream in the dry and thirsty land; it is a drink more refreshing when shared than when drank in the solitude of one's quiet time alone. It is the cup that overflows. We are filled with it so that it will spill over into the lives of those closest to us. And as we share the living waters with another who loves God, and they share with us as well, we begin to probe the depths of God's fountains together, to discover treasures we would not have come to alone.
What stirs the soul of one who loves God? For me, probably more than anything else--it is to hear the voice of another who loves God speaking out from that love for God, and about God. It is to see the enthusiasm in another's eyes as they talk about what God means to that person personally. It is to see in the soul of one who lives today, the passion of Paul for the lost, or the boldness of Peter to proclaim God's good, or a deep love like John held for our Lord. It is in the heart of one who truly loves God, that another who loves God will find a place of the stirring of the soul. Where two or three are gathered together, there are few blessings as precious as a mutual love for God


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:18:25 PM
To Count It All Loss

    He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me
    (Matthew 10:37).

I am not from a Catholic family, but I have some relatives who are Catholic. Some of their rituals fascinated me when I was younger. It seemed quite strange that anyone did church different than the way I had grown accustomed to. I remember that once a year, my cousins would give up something for what they called "Lent." It was something I thought was kind of funny and strange that my cousin often gave up chocolate zingers or the like. But I guess what really stands out in my mind is how each year they were learning how to sacrifice some things that pleased them--giving them up for a period of time if for no other reason than that it seemed to them the right thing to do.
I really do not know what it meant to them to give up something for Lent. I have no idea what kind of thoughts went through the minds of my aunt and uncle as they gave up something each year, and also led their children to do the same. I have never asked them what it means to them, but I look forward to the next time I see them so I can ask them that very question. It is always interesting to know why people sacrifice the things that please them, even if only for a season.
True sacrifice is not something that is easy to make, but it is something that is made because the benefits from the sacrifice are seen to be greater than the sacrifice itself. Within my own denomination there is often an emphasis on giving tithes and offerings, and an encouragement to give sacrificially. Occasionally, the pastor might call the church into a church wide fast to take place on a particular day, in which he encourages the congregation to be in prayer regarding a particular issue of importance. And there is the occasional sacrifice of time to go to the church on "work day" or to do something else for the church or community. But in our efforts as a denomination, not to become ritualistic I do believe we have succeeded. For there are very few, if any, rituals of any kind that are performed any longer. Rituals with all intents and purposes of drawing one's thoughts toward God, or regularly making sacrifice of something more from our lives than a tenth of our income or a Saturday church work day. Outside of Sunday morning, it would seem that we do very little else to draw our thoughts toward God as a whole. The times we come together to fellowship have become social gatherings most often designed toward recreation and entertainment than toward drawing our thoughts toward God. And, in most cases, our worship has become the dry and empty ritual that we have tried so carefully to avoid.
"The 40 days from Ash Wednesday until Easter observed by Christians as a season of fasting and penitence." That is one dictionary's definition of the word "Lent." What long periods of time have we set aside to focus on our need for God, to hunger for Him and realize our need to draw further away from our selfish and sinful state?
What if our pastors were to get behind the pulpit this coming Sunday, and to tell us that God is calling us to sacrifice some of the pleasantries in this life, so that we could draw closer to Him? And what if the pastor began to define some of those things, to include things like TV or movies, or perhaps types of music that we like? How soon do think it would be before the church asks him to resign? But the fact is that Christ has already asked us to give up everything, and has told us that if we are not willing to give up all of it--then we are not worthy of Him. Clinging to our precious earthly treasures is keeping us from drawing closer to Him, and therefore keeping Him from drawing nearer to a world that needs Him. For we say that the world needs Jesus, and rightly so, but God cannot do His work through us in this world because we do not draw near to Him. We say we want to draw near to Him, but we cling to the earthly treasures. Because of this, He cannot draw near to us, and therefore cannot bring the thousands of lost souls into His Kingdom. Are we willing to count it all loss--to look at what we desire from this life as something to be sacrificed--just so one person might come to know the Love of God in Christ? How long will be continue to be blinded by our selfish wants?

    But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served. . .in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:19:05 PM
The Way Of Cain

    So Cain went out from the Lord's presence. . .(Genesis 4:16).

This is perhaps one of the saddest statements in the Bible. Cain had killed his brother Abel, and he had to suffer the consequences. But the passage of scripture this verse is in does not imply that God threw Cain out of His presence. Instead, it was the willful act of Cain to go out from God's presence.
Perhaps Cain was so ashamed or guilt ridden that he believed himself to be unforgivable. No longer did he see himself fit to come into the presence of the Lord, so he made his dwelling, his life and his home outside of God--outside of His influence and outside of His presence.
But the presence of God is a place wherein our spirit longs to dwell. Our spirit longs to be in God, rest in God and trust in God. Our spirit longs to have fellowship with our Creator, to walk with Him in the cool of the day, to talk with Him and to hear Him talk to us.
But all too often we break off our fellowship with Him as we choose to abide outside of His presence. Perhaps we are attracted by the things of this life, and therefore choose to remove ourselves from God just far enough so that we can enjoy certain aspects of this world that we desire to. Perhaps we are uncertain as to whether our dreams, ambitions and desires for ourselves are things that God wants for us as well. It may be that we are so much like little children afraid to ask God 's permission about something because we fear the answer will be a firm "No." And for one reason or another we draw away from God, choosing to dwell on the outskirts of His person rather than coming near.
We must find the strength to avoid the distractions of this life. For we have a loving and gracious Heavenly Father who longs to spend time with us--who desires to have His children near. And it must break His heart to see us come near, only to turn away from Him when something 'more appealing' catches our eyes--and we proceed the way of Cain--to go out from the presence of the Lord. And it must break His heart to see us come near, only to turn away from Him when something goes wrong--when we fail Him--when we are ashamed.   Whether it is because our eyes are filled with our wants or our failures, both blind us.  And so we fail to see our Father calling us back.  But if we take our focus off of the things and our failures, and fix our eyes on Him; then shall we see clearly to draw near to Him once more.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:19:39 PM
Following

    And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed
    (Acts 14:23).

We live in a society in which we hope that the democratic process will be something that is practiced in truth--not just in theory. We desire that our government and institutions be of the people, for the people and by the people. This is a land in which, through democratic processes, the majority is said to rule. And if indeed we live beneath the rule of the mindset of the majority, how does this affect us as individuals? Better yet, if we use the same democratic process in our church business, what should we expect will be the outcome?
We have, within our churches, adopted the civil and orderly ways to conduct business as is predominant in the mindset of our nation. We see the many needs within our individual local churches, and respond to those needs through business meetings and church votes. What the church does is often what the majority of the people agree should be done.
However, perhaps there is a problem with this kind of business like conduct concerning the matters of the church. That problem is that of what kind of people the majority of the church is made up of. Let me explain. When we consider the number of spiritual giants (so to speak) within a church body, how many people might we consider to be so--to be the kind of people who we believe walk closely with God--having more interest in the matters of God's desires than for the matters of their own desires? How many members of a church body would we consider to be spiritual leaders within that body? Is the number large--or small? Even as there are few who find the road that leads to life, there are few who are willing to lay down their lives or right to a life of their choice in this world, for the sake of the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, I think the answer to the previous questions must be that there are few who walk with God, there are few who truly seek Him and there are few who are truly the spiritual leaders within a church body.
Does that make the rest of the body evil? Not at all. But it certainly disqualifies many from making up a spiritual leadership of a church. We must remember that in conducting the business of a church (whose purpose is to serve and minister as a spiritual light in the world), that worldly logic and thinking cannot apply to the churches matters. Every part of who we are and what we have, both collectively and individually, belongs to God. We are simply the stewards of what He has and has supplied us. Therefore it is not our place to do with God's things as we think best, but to do with God's things as He would have us to do. Not according to majority consensus brought to be by human reason, but according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit through humble prayer.
If decisions are to be made that most closely resemble what Christ would do, then they should be made by those within the body who are the most Christ-Like. Each church can often readily pick out those people who are Christ-Like--it is seldom an issue for debate.
It is the position of spiritual leaders to lead a church toward a direction that God would have them to move. To involve the majority is to taint the reasoning with earthly thought from a worldly mindset. If we as God's church are going to follow God's desires, we are going to have to realize that the majority of us are spiritually weak, and that the best choices will be made by those who are walking closest to God. It is all a matter of whose best good we desire--do we desire God's greater good to be accomplished--or our own?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:20:21 PM
Providing

    If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever
    (1 Timothy 5:8).

How do we label a man who is slack concerning his responsibilities to care for his family? Do we see him as lazy and irresponsible? Do we see him as immature and uncaring--seeking only to satisfy his personal wants while letting the needs of his wife and children to go unattended? Do we see him to be "worse than an unbeliever," or do we see him worse yet?
I was raised, as many men have been, to see it as my responsibility to take care of my family. As a husband and father, it is my God given place to look after my wife and children, to see to it that their basic needs are met--and if necessary--to sacrifice what I might want for me, for the greater good of the family. 1 Timothy 5:8 firmly supports this. However, though the scripture tells us to provide for our family, that provision does not end with a regular paycheck and food on the table. In fact, that is only the beginning.
For we know that the members of our family are much more than flesh and bone, they are also spirit. While flesh and bone require food, clothing and shelter to sustain life, the spirit also has needs--needs that often go unnoticed and unmet. A person's spirit has need to be fed spiritual food so that the child of God might grow up strong in the Lord. The spirit has need of spiritual clothing--the armor of God (if you will)--that protects the child of God from a cruel and godless environment. And the spirit has need of spiritual shelter that can be found beneath the protective love of God as a child of God is shown the way to draw nearer to God each day.
Though we know these things to be true, we have fallen short of our fatherly and parental duties to our families. For we will spend 40 hours per week making money so everyone can fill their bellies and so the family can afford some entertainment as well. Yet, the amount of time we spend teaching our children about God is almost negligible.
It is no father's desire to give his children a stone if they ask him for bread. A good father wants to give his family what is best for them, to meet their real needs and to make them strong and healthy in body, mind and spirit. We must realize that good godly instruction will go further to helping our children than all the hours we spend carving out a living. And we must also keep in mind that providing for our families goes far beyond their physical needs, we must nurture our familie's spirit as well. Keep in mind the words of Paul, "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8).

Providing we care--providing: we care.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:20:58 PM
Heart And Soul

    Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee (Ps.119:11,NAS).
    Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man. . .(Mt.7:24).

A number of years ago, my grandfather gave me an old wooden, Gibson ukulele. It had been his for a long time, and I do not recall why he gave it to me, but I was so excited when he did. My dad showed me a few chords on it an even taught me a little song. It was probably the only song I ever learned to play on it, and the chords he taught me were probably the only chords I ever learned.
The ukulele is something that I treasure. I treasure it because it was my grandpa's and it still reminds me of him. But it sits in its case most of the time--collecting dust--and about the only time I have gotten it out lately is when we have moved from one house to the next. I am sure it is way out of tune, and I am sure I do not remember how to tune it. My memory of the chords that formed the song I once knew are a vague memory. I would have to struggle very hard just to remember one chord.
I also have a guitar. It sits in a corner or closet most of the time. When I first got it I sat for hours at a time trying to learn the chords and learn some songs. I was hoping to get good enough with at least a few songs so that I could take my guitar to different church functions, like youth retreats and children's summer Bible schools. But after a time and only a few learned chords, I stopped picking up my guitar. And now, most of the time, it is like my ukulele--sitting somewhere gathering dust. My skills are rusty at best. My memory of what I did know is fading and is only somewhat refreshed when I go back and tune the guitar, strum it a few times, and then put it back in the closet.
Our Father in Heaven has given us a treasured possession--it is His word. It is something so many of us, His children, were very excited about when we first began to pick it up. We began making our way through it, hoping to read the whole thing within a certain amount of time. Perhaps we memorized favorite verses, and even committed daily to sit down in a morning quiet time to read and study the Word. But for one reason or another, our skills have become rusty. Perhaps the practicing of the Word became too difficult, time consuming or tedious. Perhaps we just lost interest somewhere along the way, but cannot recall when that was. And now, the Bible we treasure still reminds us of the One who gave it to us, but it spends most of the time sitting--unopened and collecting dust.
There are many, however, who still pick up God's Word daily to read it and perhaps even memorize a verse or two. But for many of them, perhaps it is obligatory--like a child being forced to learn the piano--they're present, but their heart just is not in it.
We can't all play the ukulele, the guitar, or the piano--or at least play skillfully. But there is one thing all of us who are children of God can do, we can become skilled in God's Word, learning how to apply it to our lives and making it a very real and vital part of who we are. We can "practice" the Bible each day with a desire to become better and better--learning more and more of its "chords" and sharpening the skills we have already learned. We can even become good enough to use our skills to minister to others--like the playing of a song to soothe a wounded heart, our knowledge of God's Word can help others in their darkest hours. If we practice long and hard, we might discover that reading and applying God's Word is not a tedious task but actually a joy. We might learn that any thoughts we have ever had that we would "never understand" or learn His Word were mistaken. And we might discover that what it takes to become skilled in God's Word is really no different than what it takes to become a great pianist--it is all a matter of what you put into it--it is all a matter of heart and soul.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:22:38 PM
Of Greater Influence

    These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, whey you lie down and when you get up (Deut.6:6-7).

Parental pains and parenting problems may be perpetuated by paranoia. Then again--maybe not. None the less, being a parent is not easy. It is a job we first take on with no experience and little training. Many of us go into it with less instruction than is required to take a driver's test. And we do so often simply because we want to be a mommy or daddy--not fully realizing the implications of just such a commitment. Not fully understanding the responsibility, trials and fears that will accompany our love for our children. And whether we consider it being anxious or just being concerned, most parents will readily confess that they often fear for their children.
Are those fears substantiated? You will have to answer that question for yourself, and only truly answer it once you have been or are a parent. For we know that we have many fears that are unsubstantiated, but also many that are substantiated. I watch my son climb a tree like I once did and it makes me nervous. Is that unsubstantiated? I still don't know the answer to that one. Nevertheless, I still get nervous and fear for his safety, and I try to let go of him a little more each day, entrusting him into God's capable Hands. But that's not always easy.
While parents have many fears for their children, perhaps one of the greatest fears is in regard to how others will influence our children. Within the child's early years many of them spend a great deal of their time with a baby sitter. It is soon thereafter that they are enrolled in school and surrounded by more people than they have come into contact with within the short span of their lifetime. Their teenage years are filled with trying to find their place to fit in and peer pressure becomes a strong motivating force in their lives. Throughout their lives, they will be exposed to beliefs, thinking and viewpoints through their contact with others, with television, movies, music, books, with school, church, and work. Within all of this we hope they will be levelheaded and listen to the right influences, while turning away from the bad.
So what determines who or what becomes of greater influence? Is it a question of time? If it were a matter of time alone we could all be doomed when considering the amount of time that is spent in front the television set. Is it a question of quality teaching within those teachable moments we encounter along the way? Perhaps, for a few well chosen words at the right time can impact a person and stay with them for a lifetime. But even still, if those words are few and far between, we will wonder, what is of the greater influence?
It is most certainly the quality and quantity coupled together, and supported by a good parental role model who has genuine concern and love for the welfare of the child that will be of greater influence. And as we cannot raise our children in a glass bubble, only allowing them to be exposed to our influence, it is vital that we take advantage of our time with them in effort to counter the worldly influences with plenty of godly influence. It is imperative for the sake of our children, that we have them in church and spend time with them, loving them, caring for them, and teaching them the Word of God and how to live holy and righteous lives "in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation" (Phil.2:15). And if time does not seem to permit, then we are going to have to carefully weigh the possible consequences of our inability to spend time with our children, and determine who we are going to allow to be of greater influence.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:23:14 PM
Of Sound Mind


    Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him (Lk.12:35-36).

Read Matthew 24:36-51

Time will tell, and usually does, whether the words of a prophet are truth or nothing but vain ramblings. There are some in our world who with the best intentions proclaim that God has revealed the date of His return. These people often manage to draw many to follow them to a place where they will be ready for Jesus to come and gather them home. But to their sorrow, they discover their error and leave perplexed--wondering where they went wrong with their interpretation of the signs of the times.
As the end approaches, Jesus warns, "At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, there he is! do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect--if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time" (Mark 13:21-23). Again He tells us, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" (Mt.24:36). Of these matters, Jesus warns us, "Watch out that know one deceives you" and "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come" (Mt.24:42).
"Therefore watch," Jesus says, conveying to us the importance of being ready and alert. It is a statement of urgency and exhortation. "Be on your guard." Be ready, watch, be alert and do not be deceived. There are two sides to this coin, we are either as Noah in the days before the flood, preparing for what was to come and watching for the signs of the Lord's movement; or we are as the people who continued to live life as "business as usual." Those are they who shunned the truth--choosing to live in blissful ignorance because the truth was something they would not tolerate.
As we live our day to day, perhaps it slips our minds that Jesus is coming back. Maybe we have fallen into doing life as "business as usual," and have become slack in our preparations for the inevitable. Perhaps we prefer the blissful ignorance over the painful truth of coming storms, lives lost and certain disruption of our way of life. None the less, the day approaches and soon will be. And what shall we say to God when we stand before Him to confess our belief in Him, after living a life as though He was never coming back.
Many of us have already, or will, make preparations for the time we will leave this earth. Considering what we will leave behind for our loved ones is a sobering and serious venture, one in which we must attest to our being of sound mind. It is a preparation for an end. Most of us do not go around in denial, pretending that we will never someday die. To do so would pretty much nullify our claim to be of sound mind, and our last will and testament would not likely hold up if it were strongly contested. And while we may consider it a bit crazy for someone to live their life as though they are immortal, we do not make the same judgment of those who live as though Christ will never come again, because that would probably be the majority of us. For we do not truly watch for His coming, and we do not make preparations for it. Instead, we go on living our daily lives--"business as usual"--living a denial of the truth, even while professing that truth. If we were really of sound mind, knowing that Christ could come tomorrow, we would live as though it were truth. But we have settled to become a part of the large and silent mass and there is no longer anyone to proclaim the truth of the coming "floods."
Can you think of someone who is urgently proclaiming the coming of the end? Is it a wacko? Is it a preacher? Is it you?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:24:05 PM
Silent Pondering

    But Mary kept all these things, and pondered [them] in her heart
    (Luke 2:19).

There are those things we would proclaim upon house and mountain top, wanting everyone to know what we know and share in our excitement. And there are those things that we quietly treasure within our hearts, like some special sentimental secret which reveals itself only through the glimmer in our eyes. Mary observed the reactions of the shepherds to the birth of Jesus, and she marked well the many words, events and jubilant expressions that accompanied. And she "kept all these things," and treasured them, "and pondered them in her heart."
It is a very special love that exists between us and our Lord. There are many aspects of our times with God that we cannot wait to share with others. We look forward to telling others about some new thing God has revealed to us, or some new way God has moved within our lives. It is, after all, and encouragement to others and to us when we come together to share excitements over a common love we have for Jesus.
But every morsel of truth is not necessarily meant for public knowledge, and every movement of God does not have to immediately be moved beyond the confines of our personal relationship with Him. There are those times when what God allows us to be a part of is something that He would have us keep and "ponder them" in our hearts. Within any close relationship, there are those things that are kept within a small and intimate circle. It is then nurtured and grows and soon flourishes beyond expectation.
What God gives to us is sometimes meant to be a small piece of a greater whole. It is meant to be preliminary to things to come, as well as being laid upon things already present. It is a process of the revelation of God's will and desire in our lives. To ponder it is to allow it to unfold. We are not always meant to act upon it immediately or to proclaim it loudly. But sometimes, we are simply meant to take it in, think about it, pray and wait upon the Lord to fully develop our understanding.
Some things are meant to stay between us and God. Those things will be like a rose bud on a stem, concealing a beautiful secret that it is not quite ready to share. Much of God's work in our lives is part of the ongoing process, and much of it requires our patience and the necessary time to allow the rose bud to become the rose. While we would not want to keep the rose bud forever closed, we would also not want to rush the process of it's opening.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:24:46 PM
Clothed In Christ

    You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Gal.3:26).

Read Galatians 3:26-4:20

A friend of mine told me a story of a time he went to a Baptist church, where one Sunday, there was a baptism service being held. The pastor began to tell everyone that baptism has no real significant meaning, but that it is only something done to enter the membership of the church. I could not believe what I was hearing. I have attended a number of Baptist churches and I have never heard such a statement. In fact, most Baptist churches spell out the significance of Baptism in their church doctrine, and it goes far beyond a ritualistic right of passage into church membership.
Could it be we are coming to an age where we will no longer think it is necessary to baptize new believers? Most assuredly so. For it is only a matter of a simple following of suit. The reason such important sacraments could be easily set aside is that they have already been set aside in the heart. The writer of Galatians tells us that "you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." It stands to reason that a generation who have clothed themselves like the world would see no reason to clothe themselves in Christ. After all, who puts on two sets of clothing?
To some, Baptism is a step in the salvation process. To others, it is a outward expression of and inward happening. For many, it is the identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. For Jesus, it was so that all righteousness might be fulfilled (Mt.3:15).
Our believing in God concerning Christ identifies us with Abraham who "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." We are made righteous through our faith in Christ because we have believed God, that Christ is the way to salvation for all of us, and that salvation is as secure as He that has offered it is faithful.
When a baby is born, one of the first things we do is put clothes on the baby. Clothes that we have picked out with and excitement and love for the new child. When Jesus came up from the baptismal waters, God said "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." When we are baptized in Christ we are clothed in Christ and are thereby identified as God's child. And just like the new child in the maternity ward, we too shall be taken home to be with our Father.
Baptism can mean a great deal to us, or it can mean almost nothing. The condition of one's heart will determine which. For if someone desires to be clothed in Christ yet continues identifying with the world, then he is trying to wear two sets of clothing. This will get quite uncomfortable and will lead him to eventually remove the set of clothing that is not worn closest to his heart. To the one who sees baptism as nothing more than right of passage, he will not identify himself with Christ as a child of God. To the one who sees baptism as very significant and somewhat mysterious, he will continue to discover the awe-inspiring implications of what it means to be clothed in Christ and identified as a child of God--one day to be taken home to be with the Father.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:25:51 PM
Stretching

    Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest into your souls. For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light (Mt.11:28-30).

A dear friend of mind has often referred to trials and tribulations as "growing times." These words are often accompanied with a deep sigh that rings of the weariness experienced within such times. They are times we do not particularly want to endure. Nevertheless, we know there is no way to get around them--except to go through them.
The weary times can stretch us so thin, that we fear we will snap somewhere in the middle if things keep going the way they are. We become so fatigued by our life circumstances that just a little thinking is something that seems to be to much to do. And it is just when we think we cannot take any more that one of two things usually happens. Either something is added to our load and we learn that we can take more than we thought, or we come to the end of our burden to find a much anticipated rest. Regardless, we do find our rest, and within it--we find God.
It is a wonderful Sabbath rest. It is the walk in the garden in the cool of the day. It is the time when the work and weariness is finally at an end and we can take a long deep breath, relax, and just be with Him. We do not purpose to find rest, and therefore we do not arrange our circumstances to bring about the Sabbath rest. But we discover that rest only after the work is done. It is a reward to those who seek no reward. It is a taking of pleasure in looking back and knowing you did well within your struggle.
But before that kind of rest is reached, we will most assuredly be stretched. It is the picture of our arms spread as wide as they can be. One hand holds that which we must release to put behind us, while the other hand strains to grasp that which must be held. We try to hold on to both to feel secure but we cannot truly enter into the rest until we let go of what must be put behind.
The things that must be put behind differ for each of us. Some of us must release life dreams or ambitions. Some of us must let go of what we once may have loved or treasured because it is already gone but we fight to keep it going. Wishing for things that cannot be only frustrates us. That frustration can turn to anger and the anger into bitterness. The more we struggle to cling to the things we can never possess, the greater our frustration, anger and bitterness will become. And our hearts will not know rest, for we will struggle within the quietness the same as we do in chaos.
If life is like a jungle, we must keep in mind that we won't make it very far if we refuse to release one vine to take hold of the next. The growing times are there to bring positive change to our lives.  The stretching is seldom fun, but always necessary, as we are continually shaped within the hands of our Creator.
Work hard to allow God to stretch you as He needs, and then, discover the joy of His wonderful Sabbath rest.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:26:49 PM
Don't Go Empty Handed

    Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all [was] vanity and vexation of spirit, and [there was] no profit under the sun
    (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

We have each been given two hands. With our hands we greet strangers with a friendly handshake, we open doors on buildings and cars, we pick things up and we put things down. With our hands we embrace what is dear to us, and with our hands we push away what we do not like. But two hands are all we have, and they will only hold so much. So we must choose what we will hold and of what we will let go.
We come into the world empty handed. Many things will pass through our hands as we learn and grow. And as we grow, we are bound to find some things that pass through our hands that we do not wish to let go of. We embrace them and decide that we will hold on to these things while continuing to try out new things.
But there comes a time of letting go. We may choose to hold on to what is most pleasing and let go of those things that do not bring as much pleasure. Nevertheless, we cannot hold onto it all.
It is obvious that by hanging onto some things that we will miss out on some others. We might even become afraid of what we will miss out on and never really hang on to anything, only to discover that we let something of value slip through our fingers.
We are continuously letting go of one thing while clinging to another. It is kind of like musical chairs in some cases, as we quickly move from one chair to the next, ready to settle into one chair but cautiously moving forward. And we hope that when the music stops that we will have what we want.
But God gave us two hands--only two hands--why not more? Like anything else, God has given us what is needed and therefore we can say that it is because we do not need any more than two. But and if He did, think of all the extra things we could hold on to. Think of all the things we could try to cling to while at the same time clinging to our Heavenly Father.
But even with two hands, perhaps we can hold on to the Father and also to something else. Yes, and indeed we do. But what is it we try to hold on to, and is it meant to be held on to, and can it go with us into God's Kingdom? Consider what things we hold on to and then consider how far they will go--will they make it to Heaven?
Perhaps if we could truly let go of what the one hand hangs on to that is of this life, we might discover what it was meant to grasp. For while one hand holds tightly to the Hand of Christ, the other would be holding the hand of someone who needs Christ. And as we hold that person's hand and draw them toward the Lord, he will grab onto His hand and turn ours loose. Then his hand will be empty, as will ours, and we then can grab onto the hand of another to continue the process.
Consider what you can hold onto that you can take to Heaven--it is the hand of another who would come to know Christ once we choose to release our grip off our wants and this world. Embrace the truth, and your hands will hold more in Heaven than they ever could have held on this earth.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:28:43 PM
Severed Ties

    Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought form death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master because you are not under law, but under grace (Rom.6:12-14).

Read Romans 7:7-8:1

                              Sin

                    Ebony cubes
                    enclosing all
                    who stray from God
                    in endless pain.
                    Within the chamber
                    of it's grip,
                    blackened soot
                    fills every breath.
                    Children
                    suffocate to death.

And so we wonder just what sin is. Is it something to be saved from? Is it something we cannot escape? Is it something we are born with or into? Does it threaten to suffocate us within it's walls and keep us in bondage to it's grip? Perhaps we should spell it out rather than summing it up in a single word. Sin is disobedience to God. But it is not just disobedience, to think so might cause one to think that obeying the rules is enough.
To sin against God means that we have offended Him or wronged Him in some fashion. It happens, just as in our relationships with others, when we ignore what we know is desired by the other so that we can have what we want. It is in not doing what is for the good of another, or it is in doing that which is harmful, even at the most remote level. To live in sin is to subscribe to our Selfish Nature--putting the self ahead of others regardless of what is right or wrong.
Now we know that by our sin, our relationship with God was severed. But we know as well that God made a way for us to restore that relationship and be reconciled to Him through His Son, Jesus. And that restoration is complete. We cannot do anything to add to or take away from the work of Jesus. All we can do is to trust that what He did was sufficient to restore us to the Father, once and for all.
With this in mind, we need not confuse broken fellowship with God as being a separation from Him like unto the separation we have from Him before we trust in the work of Christ and are reconciled to Him. We will sin against God even after we have been reconciled to Him, but the relationship remains secure because it is dependent upon the work of Christ, not upon the tally of my wrongs and rights or goods and bads.
Our fellowship with God is broken or hindered by our sin, but we still think to see this as a separation from God like that before we trusted Christ. It is not a complete separation. If that were the case there would be no thought to make things right. For our God does not turn His back on His children, but reaches out to them to bring them back. Away from Him we sense no need to repent, but as He draws us near we feel the friction within the relationship that is there because of our selfish acts. And we are faced with dealing with our sin if we are to have peace in Him once more.

    God [is] faithful, by whom you were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:9).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:29:44 PM
Guard Your Heart

    When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, "I will return to the house I left." When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first (Lk.11:24-26).

More than once I have left a church service convicted over sin in my life. More than once I have repented of that sin and determined to do better. And more than once I have lost the battle before it barely got started. It would seem that feeling remorse for my sin and good intentions to do better are not quite enough. Sure, I manage to do well at first--I face temptation head on and come away victorious. But that often does not seem to last long. It seems that I have, more frequently than I would care to confess, found myself right back where I started--failing to a temptation I thought I had gained a final victory over.
However, we must first consider the first mistake; and that is the attitude that we will not make the same mistake again. For as soon as we think we stand, that is truly when we will be blind-sided and knocked to the ground in humiliating defeat. Keeping in mind that we are not above sinning will help us to keep a watchful eye open, and to be on guard against the devil's fiery darts.
A second thing that we must keep in mind is that we cannot keep fighting against our selfish nature--we must change it. Fighting against our selfish nature will wear us down until a time we are weak and that nature will prevail. That is why we never try to fight temptation alone. Instead, we turn to Christ saying, "Lord, save us." And we rely on Him to provide us a way to escape. We come to Christ to be our strength, and we come to Him so that through our prolonged contact with Him, our selfish nature might be changed.
But let us keep in mind that just because we have chosen to lay off the fatty foods and sugars, we have not decided to give up food. We can turn from temptation, and we can fight it by the power of God, and we can draw near to Christ to be changed, but Christ did not come to empty and clean our "house" of the bad, without providing something good to take the place of the bad. As we fight off temptation, quitting what is wrong may give us a victory over a battle; but without fortifying the walls of the fort, the enemy will eventually penetrate our defenses. It is necessary not only to be cleaned, but to be filled. For example, if you feel that you need to avoid television and movies because of their godless influence, you might determine to not turn the TV on except for the news and perhaps public TV. Perhaps you will just not watch it at all. And so, you have emptied yourself of the godless influence that would normally come through that medium. The problem is that your person is going to want something to replace that, and the flesh is weak. This craving for want and the weak flesh combined, spell out trouble. But if we were to go out of our way to find videos, movies or TV channels that are entertaining, and have spiritual benefit while containing no godlessness, then we would be filled with something good to replace the bad. The result will not only be more frequent victories over the sin, but our tastes will change to enjoy the godly things, which will cause us to lose more and more of the desire for the things that are godless.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:30:17 PM
Following On

    Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word (Psalms 119:33-37).

“Nobody said it would be easy, they only said it would be worth it.” Those familiar words ring in the ears of many who seek to remind themselves why they sacrifice, or why they uphold godliness in the face of adversity, or why they simply keep following the Lord no matter what the cost. No one said that you would have no more troubles or that God would snap His fingers and make your life perfect in every respect. God did not promise us that. What He promises instead is that He will never leave us nor forsake us, and that He will provide for our needs in Christ Jesus. And with that, we see within His grace another well known matter of fact--and that is that “He may not make your troubles go away, but He will help you make it through.”
“Nobody said it would be easy...”
In fact, truth be known, most will tell you that the Christian life is anything but easy. It is a life of growing pains and hard lessons. I remember one particular time when I was so excited about reading my Bible that I read it on my job while neglecting some important work. Did God want me reading my Bible? Of course. Did He want me reading it instead of doing a job I was being paid to do? No. And in fact, God kindly warned me through three different times and ways. He did so until I finally reaped according to what I had sewn and so I received a stern reprimand from my boss. That was a hard lesson learned. But it was only one of so very many.
I remember another time shortly after I had become a Christian, when while in my enthusiasm, my pastor told me that I would have to come down out of the clouds sometime. I know He meant well, but I have to admit that I resented being told that this was some kind of elated “cloud nine” experience that was sure to pass. In time I learned that a certain amount of the excitement would diminish, but I also learned that a loving relationship with God goes much deeper than spiritual highs and momentary mountain top experiences.
“...they only said it would be worth it.”
The pain and hardship is nothing new to believers in Jesus. And neither is the reward that comes as a result of the trials. You may have heard someone say that you won’t find a rainbow without going through some rain. And just as the world around us needs rain to bring growth, so also it would seem that in order for us to experience growth in our Christian lives, we must also go through some rain. James tells us to, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:3). In Romans 8:18, we are encouraged as Paul explains “that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” In fact, we find much encouragement throughout the Bible as we look into the lives of children of God who realized that the riches in the Lord were far greater a prize than anything of this earth--and they were willing to suffer to attain what God has for those who will continue to follow Him.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:30:53 PM
Acquired Taste

    I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalms 119:101-103)

I am, what you might call, “a serious coffee drinker.” I like all kinds of brands and flavors. I have a cappuccino maker, a ten cup coffee pot, and a four cup coffee pot as well. I drink coffee at various hours of the day, not just morning, and when I go out of town, I am sure to see to it that I will have a coffee pot where I am staying--even if it means bringing my own.
My wife, on the other hand, has these words to say about coffee: “I don’t know how anything that smells so good can taste so bad.” More than once I have told her how coffee is really kind of an acquired taste--one I have grown accustomed to--one I miss when it is not there.
In Psalms, we are invited to, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” (Psalms 34:8). Now, would we say that our “taste” for the Lord is an acquired taste? I would say so. For it is only through the contact with the Holy Spirit that we even begin to discover what the Psalmist is talking about when he writes, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
So how does one taste of the Lord? In Psalms 119, we read, “I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” To taste of the Lord, simply means to walk with Him and according to His word. It means meditating on the things of God--chewing on them, if you will. And it means experiencing God in an up close and personal way as we keep our feet from evil and purposely set our hearts on the purposes of our Maker.
In time, our acquired taste is one that we cannot hardly go a day without. We enjoy the pleasantry of His company. We enjoy the warmth of His filling. We enjoy the aroma of His sweet Spirit as He embraces us in all His goodness. We have grown so accustomed to tasting the Lord on a daily basis that, when we do not spend time with Him, we soon feel the effects thereof.
Another aspect of our acquired taste is that as we taste of His goodness, we recognize the empty foods of this world as just that--empty. In Proverbs 20:17 we read, “Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel.” Simply put, the empty foods of this fleeting world can leave a bad taste in our mouths.
We need to be, what you might call, “ a serious child of God.” The kind of people who enjoy God at all times and look forward to that next moment together. People who, whether we are at church, home, or away, we seek to ensure that we have the things of God with us--even if it means taking a Bible to the beach.

    Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:1-3)


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:31:32 PM
Self Defense

    I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, "The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him." So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer (Ezra 8:22-23).

In recent days there have been churches who have began offering self-defense classes to the women of the church, or to anyone who wants to take the classes. Perhaps the church leadership decided they need to find better ways of providing for the physical needs of the members as well as the spiritual needs. And with this, hoping to give to some a sense of security--one more reason not to fear this life or this world.
Regardless of the reasoning, it seems as though the chosen course of action is one that so closely resembles the same course of action that those outside of the church would take. When considering how one should protect one's self, where is the difference between what a child of God does and what someone who is not a child of God would do? Perhaps we might think the difference is in the condition of the heart. That may be so, yet are we so different if our trust is put in the same self-protection methods and devices as that which others use?
Some would argue that God may lead us to use such methods. That may be so as well. But the question then becomes, "Have we asked God?" How many people who are the children of God have "fasted and petitioned" to find out God's desire and way to protect us? We would have to admit that we know of few such people--probably none. Most of us who take self-defense courses are seldom there because we struggled with weather it was wrong or right, and then felt God leading that direction. How many of us would be as Ezra, ashamed of even thinking to seek protection of any worldly type because we would want the world to know that God is our protection?
The point is this: God does love us and He protects us. It is not a question of does He protect, but do we trust? When David swung his sling against Goliath, he did not trust in what he could do with a sling but what God would do through him. David's trust was clearly in God and not his own skills and abilities. And as we seek an answer from God concerning the question of self-defense, we may be frightened of what He might say because we still have a hard time trusting others or in something we cannot see when it pertains to our safety. Nevertheless, we must not rationalize and quickly find solutions as the world does. Instead, we must first remember that God is our protection and then pray earnestly to Him to determine how He wants to carry out that protection. What He has to protect us is always far better than any worldly methods we could settle for.

    Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. for I am the Lord, your God (Isaiah 43:1-3).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:32:14 PM
In Humility Consider Others

    Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others
    (Philippians 2:3-4).

We live in an age of deliberate separation. We easily make decisions that affect others while only considering the way it effects us individually. We have little difficulty absolving ourselves of responsibility for our actions if at times those actions are most beneficial to our own personal desires.
In Romans 12, Paul tells us that we should "be devoted to one another in brotherly love." That we should, "Honor one another above yourselves." In verse 13 he encourages us to, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn," and to "live in harmony with one another."
If we pursue what is in our best interest, we cannot ignore the fact that what we do effects those around us. And while we might not always make popular decisions, we cannot turn away and simply say, "I have done no wrong," or "I have done all I can." While there are still those who have been hurt, or those who have been offended--there is also a need for healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. Letting bygones be bygones is not a viable solution if forgiveness does not accompany. Sweeping broken relationships and fractured fellowship under the rug does not repair a problem--it only causes the rug to be lumpy. And even once the fragments under the rug have been trampled by the footsteps of time, there will always be something of it remaining--regardless how visible it is to the eye.
Few of us handle confrontation well. It is a creature that frightens us and instills within us a desire to turn tail and run completely away. But confrontation is the doorway to forgiveness, and a doorway that must be walked through if true forgiveness, and peace, is ever to be found.
We have all made mistakes and we have all caused strife within our relationships, whether inadvertently or not. But we do not have to let circumstances lay, saying, "what's done is done," and seek to absolve ourselves of personal responsibility. Instead, we can go to our brother or sister and seek their forgiveness. For there comes a time when it does not matter who was wrong to begin with--as long as both harbor resentment there will be no peace.

    Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift (Mt.5:23-24).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:32:50 PM
A Timely Word

    Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:24).

A kind word. A soft answer. A hug that goes further than the best advice. These are the medicines for the sick and strength for the weary.
It is a timely word, or a time without a single word. A time when all you simply have to do is be present. It is not as difficult as we make it. We simply put aside the feelings of awkwardness surrounding what we should do or say, and just simply be. And within the moments of genuine concern, we will find the words we do not look for, and do the things we have not planned. And all in all we will be a blessing to one in need by forgetting ourselves for the benefit of another.
We often want to help. We so badly want to reach out to someone who has had a rough time or who has suffered a tragedy. And so we approach them and struggle to think of just the right thing to say. That's when it happens. The clichés come stumbling out over our tongues as though we opened our mouths not realizing what words were lurking behind our sealed and somber lips. And even though the moments seem awkward, we feel we must do something to reach out to that someone who is hurting--only to retreat in regret and realize that it is not just words that help, but that the words must be right, well timed and from the heart.
Understand we have the best intentions, but good intentions do little good if they are not carried out in wisdom. If we mean to do good in ministering to another, we must first determine what they truly need; and that need is not as we see it, or even as they see it, but as God sees it. Remember how Job's friends went about telling Job what he needed, as they saw it, and consider how much it seemed they helped Job--not much.
Ministering is God's work. It is something that we can only truly do under His leadership. We do not see the whole person as God does, and no matter how well we think we know someone, God knows far better. He knows far better what is best for them--whether it is a kind word or a soft answer, or a hug and nothing more. It may be at times that there is need for tough love, but who are we to know what is best? Our reasoning is heavily biased and distorted, and falls short of factoring in all of the many parts of a situation or a person. Therefore we must turn to the One who knows best, therein finding the right words to say and the right things to do to help someone up who has fallen, or to strengthen someone who is weak. We then become an instrument of healing to a tired and broken heart as we place ourselves, as instruments of healing, comfortably in the hands of the Master, our Lord God.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:33:19 PM
Fireworks

Read James 3:3-12

    Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell (James 3:5-6).

The news carried stories of fires started by stray fireworks. This particular fourth of July season seemed drier than most. But even with all the warnings, it was feared that many would ignore the warnings and that, as a result, there would be many more fires to come. For even with the knowledge that a small spark could easily turn into a giant blaze, there would be those who would still strive to do what would please them--regardless of the consequences.
Consider the tongue as James discusses it in James 3:3-12. It is such a small member of the body but seems to have great power over the whole. We allow it to steer us into situations that are detrimental to us. We let it exercise a freedom of speech and justify the words it speaks by claiming a need to express one's self. And when the tongue has run it's course, we expect that others should understand our need to say what we think, and that they have no right to hold any part of it against us.
But a tongue that exercises no self-control lives by a double standard. If someone else expresses what is thought or felt, and it is in some way offensive, then it's "Where do they get off?" and "They have no right!"
The tongue is like the fireworks on a dry summer day. If the fireworks are treated with careful control and kept within necessary confines, then what comes will be a beautiful display. But should one lack wisdom in the use, the devastation that results could be extremely severe.
While we consider our freedom on this Independence day, we might want to consider the why behind free speech. Free speech is something that is meant to help society, and bring about good to all people. As free speech is exercised properly, we behold the beauty of power under control. But should free speech be something to excuse thoughtless or even malicious words, then the tongue becomes the master, and the free speech that was meant to set us free becomes something that further enslaves us, as we suffer the devastation of an untamed tongue.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:33:52 PM
Cloven Tongues Like As Of Fire

    And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language (Acts 2:1-6).

There was a significant purpose behind the events of the Day of Pentecost as described in Acts chapter two. The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) was a "one day festival. . .observed as a Sabbath with a holy gathering at the tabernacle."* Many people had gathered for the Pentecost, from all around. They spoke many different languages and dialects, and as the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak concerning the matters of Christ, those who had gathered heard the Word of God in their own language.
The Apostles did not will this to happen, it was a movement of God. And as a movement of God, there was much purpose within it. It was not a demonstration of the filling of the Holy Spirit to satisfy the eyes of men that the Holy Spirit had truly come. God moves the Holy Spirit into the lives of those who are His own, and that is always a blessing and a miracle. But the purpose of the manifestation of tongues far exceeds any idea that the reason behind it is to provide proof to those who look on that one has come under the power of the Holy Spirit. We sadly diminish the power of God if we choose to see speaking in tongues as something to show men that someone is truly saved. Why should God have to prove anything to us--including the extent to which He has changed a heart.
And while there are those who require speaking in tongues as a demonstration that the Holy Spirit has come, there are also those who forbid the speaking of tongues all together. But Paul would tell us, "be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid the speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way" (1 Cor.14:39-40). There is a need and purpose for the use of every gift, and that is not something to be exercised without control, or to be completely forbidden.
The bottom line is this: there are many ways that God would choose to use us to encourage and edify others. To restrict His time and method is to quench the movement of the Holy Spirit. To require His movement, is to be confused regarding who should be God. And while there is still such controversy over the issue of tongues in the church, so many of us overlook the real issue. For there are those who would claim to speak in tongues in a Holy language only to go away from that point and perhaps use their tongue to talk about someone else behind their back. And there are those who would frown upon tongues in church, who would also refrain from giving a word of encouragement to someone in their time of need.
Perhaps we could find a sad irony in the whole issue. That as we would discuss the issue of tongues interdenominationally, we would likely argue, raise our voices and perhaps even make some biting and hurtful comments. And in our efforts to determine the best way to glorify God with our tongues, we would dishonor Him through our tearing down of each other.
May God grant us the wisdom to see that the true gift of tongues is in using them to encourage, to help and to love others.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:34:27 PM
Breaking Of Bread

    And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread (Luke 24:35).

We break bread together as a gesture of fellowship. Even if we do not physically break bread, we often come together over fellowship dinners and engage in time of conversation. Our time around the fellowship table could last for hours and sometimes do as we talk and laugh and enjoy the company of friends. It is with those who are special to us that we often come together and truly know what it means to "break bread."
This is not a strange fellowship. For we have all been created with a desire to have such fellowship. And that fellowship is desired because it is something the Father desires to have with us. So He beckons us to come to His fellowship table and break bread and engage in joyful hours passed in delightful conversation. And God so much desires to have fellowship with us that He has provided the bread--bread to be broken so that fellowship may be full.
In John 6 verse 51, Jesus tells us, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Jesus is the fellowship bread. He was broken so that fellowship might be restored between a fallen world and a Holy God. He willingly laid Himself out to be broken, and that upon a fellowship table we call the cross.
And in all of this, we stand in awe and quite perplexed by the love of God. But this breaking of Christ, the manna from Heaven, should not be so mysterious to us. It was the natural response of a loving God toward His lost children. It was the very nature of God to provide us such a beautiful way to be restored to Him.
The mystery is in the many times that we do not follow His example. We look at the wonder of God's work through Christ, the breaking of the fellowship bread, and see it was the perfect answer. We know that His plan of Salvation brought us together with Him into a sweet and glorious union of love. And though we see the wonders and benefits of His work, we often shy away from the breaking of bread, even though it is the perfect means to restore fellowship with others whom we have wronged or who has wronged us. Through Christ, there could come beautiful reconciliation, but we choose instead to harbor ill feelings or simply ignore a problem and hope it will all go away.
We see Christ--the Bread from heaven--who offered Himself up to be broken in order to restore fellowship. He says to us, "This is my body, broken for you." He did so that we might be reconciled to God, and so we might be reconciled with others. He beckons us from the fellowship table, "Come and break bread." And if we choose to heed His call and come together with those with whom we need to be restored, we find that all things can be mended through the work of the broken Bread.

    And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:42).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:34:59 PM
To Know His Will

    If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (Jn.8:31-32).

Being a disciple of Christ means continuing in His word. It is a seeking for His truth so that the truth may dwell in us. Not just so it will make us free, but also that the truth revealed in us will free others. As we abide in Christ and His word abides within us, we become one with Him in spirit, thought and purpose. Out from this relationship comes an understanding of God's will for our lives--an understanding that is clear and definite. As we reside in Christ there need be no guesswork concerning God's purpose and direction for us. It is a truth we shall know, and that truth is a liberating truth.
If this is the case--that God's will is clear as we remain in Christ, and that there is really no guesswork--one might wonder why we often seem to keep coming to a place wherein we ask, "How can I truly know His will for me?" Sometimes we feel we know without a doubt what His will is; while at other times we feel we don't have a clue. Still other times we may feel as though we thought we knew what His will was, but suddenly everything seemed to change and then we are not quite so certain that we knew His will to begin with.
The fact of the matter is that His will is not what we should be in question of, but our perception of His will, and why we think it is one thing or another--that is what we should question. For as we consider the will of God on a day that we feel close to Him, we might find it to be one thing; while the next day might find us feeling spiritually weak, which might lead us to feel that His will is not what we thought at all, but something entirely different. We may have began to pursue God's direction when we felt spiritually strong. We may have felt strengthened and as though the path was already set, and that by the power of God we knew we would follow the course to the end. But somewhere along the way we became fatigued, weary and worn. Some of the other options suddenly begin to catch our eyes. In fact, we soon begin to reason that maybe God is leading us to follow a different course now--maybe even the one that looks the most satisfying to our flesh and comforting to our lives here on this earth. We then may even talk ourselves into believing that God wants us to have certain things that at one time we would not have even considered--a time when we were closer to Him.
When it appears the will of God has changed or that we might not have perceived it correctly to begin with, we might want to ask ourselves a couple of questions: "How close was I to God when I felt His leading me this way?" Where are we at in our relationship with Him is a good indication of how well we can hear His voice and there with discern His will. "What has changed?" Since I began following what I believed to be His will, what has changed? Did God change what He wants? Has something changed with me? Have I taken my eyes off of what He wants and put them on my wants? Have I grown distant from Him and therefore am being more heavily influenced by the world than by God?
Finding God's will is something we make very difficult when is should be the truth that sets us free. Number one: we must draw near to Him. We cannot hear His voice if we are not close to Him. Number two: we must spend adequate time in prayer, bible study and individual worship. Fifteen minute quiet times are all too often too quiet and become little more than a faint whisper in the midst of our noisy lives. We need to give the necessary time to these areas so that God's influence can be easily heard above the influences of the world in our daily lives. Number three: we need good godly counsel. This is not seeking counsel by going to someone who always agrees with us. Instead, it is asking for the thoughts of someone who walks with God and therefore will be honest and encouraging. Above all we must remember to draw near. Jesus said "If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:35:33 PM
A Note To The Perfectionist

    I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Rom.12:1).

The God who fashioned you before you existed and knew you while you were within your mother's womb is He who knows both your capabilities and your limitations. He is the manufacturer of your heart and the builder of your life, and in His wisdom, He does not expect you to be anything that you were not created to be.
However, God does expect us to do our best at whatever we do as though we do it for His benefit and not our own. And what is pleasing to Him is when He sees in us a fervent spirit that works hard and afterwards can settle back and find confidence in knowing that we have done a good job. Not that we might boast of ourselves, but that we might recognize our own hard work and find pleasure in a productive day--and within that, give glory to God for making us thus and so.
Yet many times we meet challenges and hit them with all we have only to find that we cannot do what we expect ourselves to do. We might lose heart and wonder where we went wrong. . ."Did I overestimate my abilities?" we might ask. But then perhaps we become like the pessimist who sees the glass half empty, and rather than seeing the hard work we have done, we diminish the good from it by reflecting only upon our limitations.
Jesus tells us in John 7:24 that we should "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." Yet we find that if we quickly turn around that we are often the only ones who are breathing down our necks or staring over our shoulders. We are our own worse critics, and we are often the first to proclaim that our best is not good enough. And rather than looking at what God has given us the ability to accomplish, we sneer our lips and mutter, "I should have done better!"
Perhaps we do not realize that when we have done our best and then reject it, we are not only putting down who we are but we are also putting God down. For we are the work of His hands and we should stand in awe of all that He has done. When God's creation functions the way it was supposed to it is a reason for praise. But for some reason His standard is not good enough for us. For if we live up to His expectations yet fall short of ours, we are somehow insinuating that we know better than God what is "acceptable" and that "which is [our] reasonable service."
There is a righteous pleasure that we can come to experience as we do our best at all we do. For in so doing we magnify our Creator as we allow ourselves as His creation to function the way He had purposed before we were born. As God is the maker of our person He is also the one who sets the standard that we are to live by. Trying to live up to our standards or the standards of others will often leave us feeling that we are somewhat of a failure. For though we are less than perfect, we often expect nothing less than perfect from ourselves. But God sees in truth, and as we learn to trust in what He thinks of us rather than what we or what others think, then we will come to accept who we are, and we will learn that our best is good enough, and worth giving glory to God for when we do it. In this we find what is that good and perfect and acceptable will of God, which is our reasonable service. We should look at ourselves through the eyes of God, for as we do we will see ourselves for who we really are--not less than, or greater than--but we shall know ourselves even as we are known--and then comes contentment to be the person God has made us to be.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:36:04 PM
Godly Ambitions

    Delight thyself also in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart (Ps.37:4).

The greatest rewards are those that are often overlooked--and almost always unexpected. Psalms 37:4, at first look, might seem like a statement of cause and effect. A person may read the verse by itself and quickly deduce that if he was to "delight" in God, then he could have what he wants. The problem is that the focus often shifts from the first part of the verse to the second. And so the verse is understood to tell a person that if he wants to get what he wants out of life, then all he need do is delight himself in the Lord. The result is that the person attempts to live a lifestyle that he believes will please God, so that he can have what he wants from this life. An example might be a person who, knowing that God rewards giving, decides to give twenty percent of his income to the church, feeling certain that God will give more to him than what he had to begin with. The problem with this line of thinking is when the motivation is more focused upon getting a desired reward rather than being a delight to God.
But as a person's focus is directed toward the first part of Psalms 34:7 ("Delight thyeself in the Lord"), then the rest of the verse falls into place. For as we draw near to God and delight to do His will, the desires of our heart are steadily transformed. Our ambitions, goals and aspirations begin to change--in perspective at least, if not also in direction. For what we desire moves away from selfish desire and moves toward godly ambition. We move away from pouring ourselves into doing what will bring us pleasure and seek how we might please God instead. And as we do, God grants us the desires of our heart because our desires have become a smaller reflection of His greater glory.
Jesus told us that "whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will
lose his life for [Jesus'] sake shall find it" (Matthew 16:25). Our greatest rewards will come when we do not seek them. As we seek to "lose" our lives, we open ourselves up to be the instruments of God's purpose, to accomplish His will on earth. Living this way will bring us great rewards, and that is because we do not seek rewards. We do not seek to store up treasures in heaven and we do not do our righteous acts so that God will reward us--we simply do them because--and we require nothing in return.
If our only reason to live the Christian life is to gain better reward then we have missed the point. Following Christ means sacrifice of our wants and giving up of personal desires so that God's greater good will prevail.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:36:41 PM
God's Math

    And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to [his] disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. (Matthew 14:19).

How many times does 5000 go into 5 and 2? Once--with some of the 5 and 2 left over.

With our new life in Christ we better be prepared to be reeducated. The way we have thought about things in the past will not be the way we need to think about things present or in the future. Realizing that we are new creations, and that old things are past away and all things have become new (2 Cor.5:17), we should be ready to check our old ways of reasoning and thinking at the door. No, that does not mean we check our brains at the door--it simply means that we learn to "walk by faith, no longer by sight." Because, if we are not careful, our human reasoning will quickly put our eyes on the wrong things. And rather than keeping our eyes upon Christ, we train our focus steadily upon our problems and situations.
With our new life comes new math. That math is not the new math taught in public schools. Instead, it is a math that only makes sense in the spirit and when read within the context of the Bible and seen in the movement of God's Spirit. It is the math that tells us that all we need to feed 5000 men and their families is five loaves of bread and two fishes. It is a math that is not logical and is not constrained by mathematical laws and theorems. It is not a math that is worked out on paper--but worked out in faith.
This kind of math leads us to become extraordinary givers. For as we see a need that God desires to meet, and we see that need requiring X amount of dollars, we do not flinch and throw up our hands and say that it must not have been God's will. Imagine the 5000 if Jesus would have assessed the situation and determined that since He could not readily see God's provision with His eyes. that it must not have been God's will for the people to eat.
As extraordinary givers we trust God to meet X when all we have on hand is half of X, or maybe less. As extraordinary givers we do not consider a need for a financial cushion because we realize that God's math means that He will always supply our need.
It is not enough to ask God to show us needs that need met, we must also ask Him to meet that need through us. And as we see the need and realize that meeting the need will blow the budget plans, we do not throw up our hands and say, "Oh well, we can't do it 'cause we haven't got the money."
The thing to keep in mind is that God is not going to ask us to do something for which He will not also make a way to do it. And as we consider the work of the church and examine our budgets, we might discover some wondrous events will occur when we stop being slave to the bottom line, and start moving toward ministry with full knowledge that God will give us everything we need to do what He asks.

It is not a question of math or human reasoning--but instead, it is a matter of simple trust and obedience.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:37:15 PM
All Together Now

    Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cling to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing [diligently] in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits (Rom.12:9-16).

We struggle for uniqueness, and we strive for individuality. Our hope is that we find ourselves, our purpose and our place in this world. A place in this world that was made specifically for us. A place that no one else can fill. We seek a place wherein we feel that we are the perfect fit and that we are somehow special as an individual. And this is not just a fact of growth as a person, it has become a right of ascension in a society where we have adopted the attitude of looking out for number one.
And it is not enough that I find who I am as a person, a family member or even a Christian; I will strive so that others will also see my importance and all that there is that makes me a special and unique individual. While many would say that there is nothing wrong with such behavior, we should not overlook the fact that as we strive for independence and individuality, our focus becomes more and more self-centered. So much so that it becomes harder and harder to truly see things from anther's point of view, or perhaps even suffer with them when they suffer or be joyful when they are joyful.
It seems to be the trend to find creative ways to build one's self-esteem. And while it is necessary for us not to see ourselves as less than we are, it is also dangerous to overinflate our personal viewpoints of ourselves to an extreme and idealistic distorted level. What's more is that we should not think we need to find ways to boost ourselves and our self worth, it seems to be a natural tendency to promote one's self or to even distort the truth in favor of a better reflection of who we are. We seem to naturally gravitate toward whatever is good for the self while neglecting our effect on the whole of society, or even on those closest to us.
We are not an island. Yet we live our lives acting as if what we do or say carries very little weight. But if we stop being so narrow-minded, looking solely to our own existence as though we are the center of the universe, we might discover that we are just a small part of a much greater whole. We are responsible for far more than just ourselves, for everything we say or do ripples outwardly into the lives of those around us. No where does God say to us that He wants us to do as we please or that we should go out and build a life and lifestyle that is centered around ourselves. Instead, we are frequently instructed that we should "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Phil.2:3-4).
We are all together. And what one does affects the others. There is no escaping that and there is no shirking of the responsibility we have to care for each other, and to see that every decision we make weighs in the balance of all things and in all lives. Our first need is to stop living as though we were put on this earth to live as an individual. While we are an individual, we hold a place in the greater whole. And it is necessary for us to function properly within our place for the good of all people. Ask God to help us to see the greater whole, and to show us ways to serve others and to move away from serving self.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:38:32 PM
Learning How

    In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work (2 Tim.2:20-21).

A young boy observes his dad fixing the car. The father asks the boy to hand him certain tools, and explains to the boy which tool is which and patiently waits while the boy finds the tool. Once the boy gives his father the tool, the father then begins to explain the tool's purpose, and how each tool is shaped for a specific function. The boy watches intently while the father uses the tool, and by watching his father he learns something that will one day help him to work even as his father works.
As God's children, we are both the tool and the child looking on. As a tool, we are shaped for a specific function. We are designed with a purpose in mind--for a specific function in life and in the body of Christ. By watching our Heavenly Father, we will learn how we as His instrument will be used to perform our function effectively. And we will see how we are being shaped to fit the work God has given us, and to snugly fit into His hand as He works through us.
As God's child, we should find ourselves in a position that we are following our Lord and observing what He does. We do not take the role of one who knows, but of one who is learning. For no matter how much we think we know, we must realize that we do not see the whole of God's intended purpose for us. He is shaping us daily, and we become presumptuous in thinking that we have figured out all that's involved in who we are and how we are to complete a task. We are to do a job, and we are to become an instrument, yet we are also to follow the Teacher. And as we keep our place as the child student, then we will discover far more than we could have ever presumed on our own.
In discovering God's will for our use and purpose within the body of Christ, we will find it helpful to keep a couple of things in mind. First, we need to be near to God--watching Him intently to learn from Him what we will need for every single day. And with that, we must not forget who the Teacher is and who the child student is. Secondly, we need to consider how God has shaped us. As we examine the different ways He might use us, we must realize what kind of tool we are. And just as we would not use a hammer to turn a bolt, we are seldom going to be called to do a job that we were not fashioned for. When weighing the possibilities, if there are three types of jobs to be done and only one of those jobs fits who God has made us to be, then that is probably where God wants us.

Draw near to God as His child, and you will discover your place and purpose in the body of believers in Christ.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:39:07 PM
The Eyes Are The Windows

    Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb.12:2-3).

It is said that if one stays in a rut long enough, the rut will become a grave. Not everything that is endured is what is necessary. For there is much that is gone through that God had not intended. For the chains that hold a weary soul are seldom what one's mind perceives, but more or less a prison forged from selfish wants the mind conceives. Much of what is burdensome is that we bring upon ourselves. And so we feel imprisoned by what we feel we must attain.
Look in to the eyes of many Christians. They are those who claim to have been freed by the work of a Gracious Savior Lord. And where we might think to find a dancing flicker of the Light of God, instead we find distress. For these are those who are released from chains of sin and death. These are they who have embraced the Light of God in Christ. And these are they who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. Yet what is seen within there eyes tell little of such knowledge. But rather tales of burdened life, paying bills and getting by.
The eyes do tell the story, and perhaps better than any word or gesture. For they reveal what's in the heart and speak as loud as any word. One by one the children of Light leave Sunday's worship service's doors, to shake the hand of the preacher man, and tell him how much they loved his words. But he then looks into their eyes to see the troubled waters. And he wonders what he has to do to help them find a greater joy--to free them from the burdens.
There is an old hymn called, "I Love To Tell The Story." It is a hymn the reflects the feelings of joy that comes from telling the story of Christ, about His glory and His love. It is the story of eyes that are focused on Christ. For as one's eyes beholds the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world, there is a sense of victory, there is a sense of hope--and there is a flicker of God's Light within the eyes as one steadfastly fixes his gaze upon Him.
What you see when you look into the eyes of those that fix their gaze upon the affairs of this life will be burden and defeat. For the day to day grind of getting by and paying bills is enough to make any heart falter who sees no hope beyond a paycheck. But when you look into the eyes of one who looks steadfastly at the Savior Lord, you will see a light and sparkle of joy that seems to remain regardless of the person's circumstances. You will see one who looks beyond the problems and sees the Glory of God. You will see within the person's eyes the freedom we claim to have in Christ and the Victory that Jesus holds for all who follow Him.
When people look into your eyes, what story do your eyes tell? Do your eyes love to tell the story of victory in Christ, or do they say, "I'm weary?"

    Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light (Mt.11:28-30).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:39:43 PM
By What We Judge

    Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in you own eye? How can you say to your brother. Let me take the speck out of your eye," when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye (Mt.7:1-5).

Matthew 7:1 has been a popular verse among so many. It has frequently been waved as a flag of defense--held high by those who find it handy to justify wrong or selfish behavior. As with any scripture, the first place of application rests in how it relates to the self. Yet this verse is more often used like a weapon, with little thought given to its true meaning and application. Those who recite the familiar verse often do so with valiant vigor. They would say, "The Bible says do not judge!" while holding little regard in their hearts for the rest of the Bible's standards for life.
On the other hand, those who read to find God's purpose for the scripture in their lives, take heed to the words with cautious respect, and wonder how one can truly look into the eyes of another and not make some sort of judgment. And yet it is not that there is not a need for a judgment to be made, but that the judgment is faulty at best when made by one who cannot see things clearly.
We are warned not to judge or we too shall be judged, and that with what measure we use it shall be measured to us the same. Does this mean that as I judge others, God also will judge me? We should hope not. For then we compare God's righteous judgment to that of ours which is often impaired and inadequate. But God's judgment is true, so we cannot assume that He would judge us by our standards. However, if we judge by a standard by which we do not live, we must ready to be judged even as we judge. And those whom we would seek to judge and to help to deal with their problems, they are those who will look us in the eyes and say, "who are you to help me?" For they will measure us in accordance with our own standard and will judge us even as we have judged them.
The focus is not that we should not judge, but that we should come before God and be made holy each day, so that we can see clearly--and having acknowledged our misgivings and having sought God to help us to deal with our faults--we then find clarity in Christ that will help us to help others find their way as well.
The cares of this life, the problems that bring us to worry rather than to God, and the sin we return to: these are the things that cloud our eyes, impair our vision, and make it difficult to accurately assess another's spiritual condition. If we want to help others, we will have to evaluate them--seeing them through the eyes of God--this could be called a righteous judgment.  But we must first deal with those things which cloud our vision; "then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

It is our place to judge a righteous judgment so that in so doing, we can help ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ to live a holy life--acceptable and pleasing unto God.

    Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment (John 7:24).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 15, 2006, 08:40:27 PM
A Proper Respect

    My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, [the Lord] of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? (James 2:1-5).

There are no weird people, only weird perceptions of people. For as many people as there are there are as many different personalities and each embracing a certain degree of eccentricity. Basically stated, we are all strange in some fashion. And with that we might do well to keep in mind that though another seems odd to me, it is quite possible the feeling is mutual--or perhaps should be.
Each of us are a collage of wonders, extravagantly packaged by a glorious creator. All that makes up who we are is wondrous, and all that makes us who we will be is already known to Him that holds tomorrow. How arrogant to think that I should be better, know better or have better than another. For we all sojourn a dusty trail and thirst for what is right and good and pure. And though we make mistakes and often lose our way within the windstorms of our lives, there is One who persists to draw us.
To ponder these things, at least for a time, might begin to enlighten us somewhat. And perhaps we will open ourselves to the heart of God and discover what it means that "with God, there is no respect of persons." For it is out of His love for us that He respects us in truth, and not as though we have earned it. For God's treatment is just and His love is constant, and with that He knows no preferential treatment.
What shall we say then, we who call ourselves followers of the Son of the very God who loves in such a manner? Where do we find our justification to esteem one man above another due to position, wealth or education? Perhaps we do not seek to justify it at all, but instead, to try to overlook it. For our preferential treatment is often subtle, but nonetheless it exists. It exists in churches where we would listen to one man above another because of his looks or education; while the Davids and Samuels go unnoticed by our prejudicial appetites. It exists in our churches where we turn from one who is different, though we are not sure just how; nonetheless, we do not feel comfortable around him as we do with others we've known for some time. And the preferential treatment is evident in churches when the fellowships break into clicks and one or two sit in the shadows, not sure where someone like he or she would find a place--they are those who know only fellowship with God because He's the only One who loves them regardless.
A great deal of talk is kicked about regarding our witness to a lost world. We plan and program and train, and we go--and what we often do is reach out to others--others like ourselves. A middle-class church draws middle-class people, and an all white church draws whites. And so we arm ourselves to take the love of Christ to the dying world, and somewhere along the way it gets watered down and run through the filter of our preference--and so goes the message of God's love.

What will we do to show a love that is of God--a love that has no preference?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 02:35:07 AM
Riding out the Storm

Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm." (Matthew 8:24-25)

The Disciples cried out, "Lord save us, we're going to drown!" Jesus rebuked their lack of faith. Then He turned to the storm and put an end to it. The storms of life are going to come. But Jesus reminds us that they will not take our lives. We will not perish. Yet we often become overwhelmed and afraid at the immensity of our circumstances. In those times, we--like the disciples--sometimes cry out for God to put an end to the storm and bring the calm into our lives once more. His merciful, loving response is at times to grant our request. But it is out of that same love He holds for us that sometimes He denies our request. He allows us to go through the storm to its finish because the benefits to us are too great for Him to do otherwise.
The storm is a time of tempering, when God works on us to make us a little stronger than before, to build our faith and to bring growth that would not come otherwise. It is part of His patient work He diligently performs in our lives, not just so we can ride out the storm, but so we can hold our eyes steadfast on Him throughout, and be able to rest in knowing we are safe.
How many times do we cry out in fear, forgetting He is with us, only to put a stop to His work in us prematurely? When we cry out for the calm, do we lose the benefits of the storm? Fortunately, though God may stop a storm or two, He does not stop His work on us (Phil. 1:6). Where one building process is ended, another will sometimes begin. Nevertheless, I cannot help but wonder what God could do in us if we would just ride out the storm.
With the beginning of a new year, each of us hopes for a better year than those before. We often hope for the new year to be one full of peace, prosperity and joy. Those are easy things to embrace. Yet perhaps each of us should be willing to embrace the storms that we will face this year, ride them out and allow God's work in our lives to bring the truest prosperity we will ever know--as we are shaped after the image of our Lord.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18)


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 02:35:39 AM
Blessed are you...

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks n all curcumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thes. 5:18).

If we were of the world rather than of God, being blessed would begin and end with ideals of health, wealth and happiness. A good job, a loving spouse and a comfortable lifestyle are certainly things with which we find pleasure. But these things can be gained through good decisions, timely choices and hard work, and often with little thought of God. All in all if our blessings are counted in similar fashion as the rest of the world, we, as Christians, have just as much chance in being blessed as the rest--or not.
So long as we are counting blessings, we might as well count the greatest blessing of all, that being the very thing that separates us from the rest of the world. No, it is not our Christian lifestyle or higher moral standard, it is the indwelling Spirit of the God of the universe.
We are truly blessed above the rest, but it is not in what we have in our success or in our health. Albeit we should express thanks to God for that which we consider good, indeed for all things. For "every good and perfect gift" comes from God. But what of the other blessings--those through which God demonstrates to us that we are His own?
What about the blessing of His correction when we go astray--done with the love of a Father to help His child find the way? How about the way we are allowed to experience a rough time in order to learn and to grow? Or what about God withdrawing His protection in order to allow us to face the consequences of our actions? Do these things sound much like blessings? Probably not the kind of blessings we are used to hearing about. Certainly not the kind we are used to proudly proclaiming at a church prayer meeting.
But these are the blessings of a loving Father, who cares for His children so much more than to see to it that they have a comfortable life--He wants to see that they have a healthy faith, good character and pure hearts. By the world's standards, these are not the blessings that make us comfortable in this life, but they are the blessings that will take us into the next.
We quickly say, "Look how God has blessed me!" when things are going our way--maybe we need to seek the same attitude when things are not exactly as we would have them. And in that moment, we can then look to God who brings good in all things (Rom. 8:28), and we might simply thank Him for how He has so richly blessed us.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 02:36:13 AM
Unseen Abundance

Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him Jesus and said, "Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here." He replied, "You give them something to eat" (Luke 9:12-13).

The disciples had noticed that the people were in need of food. They asked the Lord to send the people away so they could get something to eat. Jesus' response: "You give them something to eat." The disciples took inventory of their resources and decided they could not feed the 5000 plus people with what they had available. Their next step was to put their problem solving abilities to work. Their reasoning skills and common sense told them they would have to "go and by food for all the crowd." The next step would have probably been to take up a collection, and hope they would collect enough money to buy what was needed.
Jesus, however, saw the need as well. His response was to take what was available, give thanks for it, and use it to meet the need. He did not look at what they had alone, but at the potential of what it could become through God's power. He thanked God for it--even though to most it did not look like it would come close to being enough.
How many times do we see a need at home, or in our neighborhood or church, only to respond with "I can't" or "We can't" after examining the resources. Then we would do much the same as the twelve--begin reasoning what we must do to meet the need, and easily finding excuses why we cannot.
Jesus demonstrated that there are more resources available to us than what meets the human eye. It is the unseen abundance of all that God has, that with which He desires us to   meet the needs for our lives, our homes, our communities and our churches.
God gave us the ability to reason and think and work things out, but He did not give us these abilities to be the beginning and the end of our solution finding process. They are to be tightly woven together with faith--and they are nothing without God.
We often come to God for direction, then ask Him to bless us as we make our best efforts to accomplish a given task. Many times the majority of the process becomes just that--our best effort--as we somehow forget God's availability and ableness to help. Perhaps the approach we would use should be more similar to that of our Lord's: take whatever we have, give thanks, and use it to meet the need. There will always be more than enough to do so.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 02:36:58 AM
Through the Process

"Listen Carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men." But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it" (Luke 9:44-45).

Did you ever wonder how many things are hidden from us or how many times God tells us something while the meaning is hidden from our understanding? Jesus told the disciples something He knew they would not understand. Yet He knew that one day, when the timing was best, what He told them would make perfect sense to them.
It has been said that God works in mysterious ways--mysterious to us, perhaps, but not so mysterious to Him.  Mysterious or not, His ways hold true to His nature.  There are times that God will tell us something which seems hidden, but only because He tells us long before He reveals its meaning to us. And when He does reveal the meaning to us, it is certain to be at a time that the final piece of the puzzle is put in place. It is then that we remember several previous times that God spoke in relation to a particular topic or event. And it is then that His most recent revelation draws everything together into a neatly packaged whole.
There are many things that God can only show us a little at a time, while He conceals the meaning of the whole until the perfect time. Piece by piece He constructs the puzzle to show us the whole picture--very possibly because we are unable to bear the whole picture all at once. It is a process of revelation that brings lasting significance to the end result.
Our responsibility is to allow God to take us through this process. We are not to see the first piece and then determine that we understand the whole. For if we do, we may act only on what we see at a particular point within the process. Therefore, we must be careful not to jump the gun, but to "wait upon the Lord," ponder what He has shown us so far, and eagerly anticipate the next piece of the puzzle. When the puzzle is complete, we will know it, and God will have made it clear what our next step is.
Consider Abraham. Throughout his life he was given direction one piece at a time. He was told to leave his homeland and to go to a place that God would reveal to him later. Abraham did not conclude where he was to go, but went, and trusted God to show him in God's time. Abraham did not know what God's plan would be for his life, but he followed God through the process, step by faithful step.
What God shows us today is what is often what is needed for now. But it is quite possibly just a piece of a greater picture. If we can keep this in mind, we will have an easier time waiting upon the Lord to reveal his plan piece by piece--as He takes us through the process.

Patience is a virtue,
But faith is its cornerstone.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 02:37:27 AM
Quiet Times

"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge n him" (Psalms 24:8).

Some of my favorite times are those quiet times when I feel myself engulfed by the warm love of God. His arms wrapped around me, holding me near to Him. He is truly a loving Father.
His love for us is never-ending. His grace is immeasurable. As His children, we should all know what it means to "taste and see that the Lord is good." This is often hard to do as we are so distracted by the cares of this life. But if we could just clear our minds and focus on God and His goodness, we might begin to understand this a little more each time we come to Him in those blessed quiet times.

            Quiet Times

        Quiet fills the house
        as each have gone their separate ways
        yet I am not afraid
        within the quiet of this still embrace.
        I bask in the warm hug
        the emptiness provides,
        and slip into the silence
        to hide and seek alone.
        A cup of coffee and my easy chair
        prepare to add to this enchanting bliss.
        I sink myself into them both,
        a sweet kiss of morning love.
        Revealing now in unchurned air
        I move my hand as to beckon the letters
        from the table drawer.
        I open them and soon begin
        to drink in every letter--every word.
        Raising eyes briefly time to time
        to query my aloneness in secure.
        I feel enjoined within the hour
        to my gracious God,
        through love and letters,
        within His living Word.

        Quiet fills the house,
        and all have gone their separate ways.
        And I am loved
        within the quiet of this lasting still embrace.

Today, take time to be with God. Tell Him you love Him. Tell Him what you love about Him. And lose yourself in His love. Be sure to clear your mind of all distractions. If you do not think that will be easy, ask God to help. You will not be disappointed. Just taste, and see that the Lord is good.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 02:38:00 AM
For the Love of God

"Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners. Christ died for us (Rom. 5:7-8).

What do we do for the love of God? Perhaps a lot of the same kinds of things that we do to feel we are loved by others. For some odd reason we have a human mind-set that bases the love we receive upon conditions--"You will love me if..." Understanding that God's love is unconditional does not seem to have jarred that "conditional love" mind-set we have. We know His love is unconditional, yet we continue trying to be good enough, or work hard enough to deserve His love.
We can never do enough to deserve God's love. To say that we can is to imply that God's love has limits. His love knows no limit. No matter how much (or how little) we do, His love remains constant. He loves us far and beyond our ability to grasp His love.
A parent loves a child simply because the child is that parent's child--no strings attached. The child does not have to perform, or do all the right things, or make very few mistakes in order to keep that parent's love. The parent loves the child unconditionally. And out of that love the parent gives many good things to the child--not because the child deserves it, but because the parent loves. Jesus asked that if we being evil know how to give good gifts to our children, "how much more shall your Father, in heaven, give good things to them that ask him?" (Mat. 7:11).
So much of what happens to us is filtered through a human reasoned, reward and punishment mentality. God demonstrates His love toward us by giving good things, and we begin looking at the good things and thinking we must be living right "for God to bless me so." Or He demonstrates His love toward us by withholding something we don't really need or by allowing "bad" things to happen, and we begin trying to figure out what we have done wrong. Sometimes God does reward good behavior, or punish bad behavior, but everything God does is out of His love for us, and sometimes just because.
We do God an injustice if we always must attach what He does out of love to something we have done. He gives because He loves, as a Father loves His children. When we can begin to see God's love with no strings attached, we can begin to understand His grace. And what it means that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
As children of earthly parents many of us have received much more good than we deserved, simply because our parents loved us. We need to stop asking God "What did I do to deserve...?" and just thank Him, and accept what we receive just because He loves.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 02:38:33 AM
Faith & Freedom

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.. . .And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him"
(Heb. 11:1,6; NIV).

Jesus tells us that unless we have the faith of a little child, it is impossible for us to enter the kingdom of heaven. This faith is to be "sure of what we hope for" and "certain of what we do not see." Without this child-like faith, "it is impossible to please God." If we are to find freedom within our faith, this is where we will find it:  complete trust and utter dependence upon our Heavenly Father. There is no other way to experience true freedom than to wholeheartedly submit to God's leadership.
Obedience is freedom. Obeying God means trusting God. It means that we put aside our understanding of what is best, accepting what God knows is best, and putting our faith into action by doing as He instructs, regardless of our lack of understanding. God does not ask that we understand everything He tells us, but that we obey. That does not mean that He does not want us to understand, for he will bring understanding to us as He desires. But for us to insist upon understanding before we obey shows that we do not trust Him wholey, and our faith is lacking.
Consider the children. They do not worry "saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'" For they know that all these things are provided for them by their parents. They do not even consider the possibility of not having thier needs met. They are carefree with respect to their basic needs, taking it for granted that they will always have food, and water, and clothing. They do not worry about 'making ends meet,' or 'which bill will get paid and which one won't.' These thoughts do not enter their minds.
Consider the faith of a child--the type of faith we are to have. God tells us plainly that we are to trust Him to provide for our needs. He desires that we trust Him as a little child--not giving a second thought to what we are to eat, drink and wear. Yet we continue to promote self-sufficiency. We say things like, "God helps those who help themselves," or "A person's gotta eat." These ideals of self-sufficiency do much more than show a mature acceptance of responsibility, they show a tremendous lack of faith. God says that He will provide, yet we continue thinking we need to provide for ourselves, then disguise our faithlessness with a false mask of obedience, saying, "God expects us to provide for our families." But true obedience exsists when our purpose for having a particular job is because God has directed it, not because we need a pay-check. If the paycheck is what dictates the who, what, where, when, why and how we work, then the paycheck is the master that commands our obedience. God desires that we work, but He wants our work to be for one Master. God may have many reasons why we are to work at a particular job, but we have one reason alone--obedience.

Read Matthew chapter 6. Consider the depth of what Jesus is telling us.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 02:39:03 AM
Saving Faith, Daily Faith

    And Abraham Believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Rom. 4:3).

Faith is a word that is difficult for many of us to define. In Romans, The last part of chapter 3 through the first part of chapter 5, Paul uses the word "faith" at least 20 times in effort to convey understanding of saving faith. Even after reading his discourse, many of us may still have difficulty defining faith in our own words.
Hebrews 11:1 states that "faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen." But even this definition contains abstract imagery which spurs a variant of ideas from person to person. A simple way I have heard it stated is that "faith is simply putting your trust in God." Simply put, we take God at His word--that which he says He will do, He will do (Rom. 4:21; Num. 23:19; Jer. 1:12).
The same faith that saves us today, saved Abraham many centuries before Jesus was born. "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." We believe God regarding Christ, we take Him at His word that Christ is our salvation--our righteousness (Rom. 1:16). We believe God, and it is counted as righteousness.
But that is just the beginning. Faith in God means taking Him at His word daily. We read scripture and pray, and when we are face to face with an issue we cannot quite comprehend, we lean not to our own understanding (Prov. 3:5). Instead, we believe God, and trust Him whole heartily.
Consider the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). This is a challenging passage of scripture, one which is often read but so often leaves readers a bit puzzled. Many of the ideas presented in these three chapters rub painfully against human thinking. Nevertheless, it is truth spoken to us by God through His Son.
Matthew 6 discusses how we are to trust God to meet our basic needs. Jesus explains that God knows these needs and will meet them, and He tells us not to worry. God says He will take care of us. But so many of us still worry about making ends meet, or having a secure income. If we trust God, taking Him at His word, our faith will go beyond trusting Him with our soul for eternity--it will mean trusting Him to meet our earthly needs today. Faith in God means believing EVERYTHING He tells us--not just what fits our human reasoning.

    But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 02:39:38 AM
Left Undone

    The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him... (Luke 12:46)

It seems we all have something (or things) we are always putting off. Whether a new exercise program or those unattended odd jobs around the house, or working on the car, or...the list goes on. But nothing is quite as haunting as realizing you are putting off the really important things. Many a person has fell into the snare of neglect and procrastination only to become trapped in a situation in which there is no escape. Perhaps a physical exam would have caught a cancer in a stage early enough to do something about it. Maybe taking care of your financial situation earlier would have prevented the compounding of late fees and overdraft charges. Maybe a kind word would have mended a broken relationship before it was too late. Neglect leads to regret. Fortunately, God is in the business of helping us turn regret into wisdom. Then hopefully the next time we are faced with the serious decisions, we won't try to ignore them and hope they just go away.

Just One More Verse

            His mind began to frantically search,
            to learn what felt so wrong.
            His heart beat grew enormous,
            with each chorus of the song.
            He wished it to be over,
            it seemed an endless curse.
            But deep inside, a voice cried out,
            "Please sing just one more verse."

            Another Sunday came and went,
            And another invitation.
            But once again it passed him by,
            due to his hesitation.
            For every time the songs were sung,
            the struggle grew much worse.
            And his grip of pride grew tighter,
            Through the passing of each verse.

            The day soon came which was to be,
            his last day in the church.
            It seemed he no longer had the need,
            to carry on his search.
            But as they came to carry him,
            from the alter to the hearse,
            deep down inside, his spirit cried,
            "Please sing just one more verse."

Things left undone. Words left unsaid. Procrastination and neglect are the nails to the coffin of the man in the poem. But whose neglect is it? It's obvious he procrastinated too long, but what about the Christians who carried his coffin? Could they have been led by the Spirit to say something, to pray with him, to simply be a friend? Perhaps someone felt a strong compelling to call this man the night before, but talked himself out of it because it was too late at night, or he was too tired.  Maybe, like so many of us, that person thought to himself, "I'll call him tomorrow."
We do not know the hour that our Lord will come, nor do we know the hour we will go. That is why we will always be wise to take heed to Jesus' words to His disciples, "watch and pray." Because some things are far too important to leave undone.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 02:40:12 AM
An Audible Word

"For the heart of this people has become dull, And with their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I should heal them" (Matthew 13:15, NASB)

In a Sunday morning sermon, a preacher described an event as he believed it would happen if Jesus were to walk through the sanctuary doors, walk down the isle and stand at the front of the church. He believed that if this were to happen, if Jesus were to appear in that manner--in the flesh--that we would get up and run to him. While the image was one that brought me warmth and joy, it also brought me some discomfort. To see him like that would be great, to run to him, to behold and to be held was a wonderful thought. But then to be in the physical presence of One who knew everything about me, One who knows me better than I know myself--that can be kind of scary.
How many of us could come to Christ, spiritually naked and unashamed? How many of us could come to Christ even though we would be ashamed, making ourselves vulnerable and trusting him to love us just as we are? I fear that many of us would never benefit from such an occurrence. We might be afraid of what he might say or what He might see. Our masks that we put on for the church family would fall to the ground at Jesus' feet, exposing us to him and possibly to everyone else. Instead of running to him we might just sit where we are and hang our heads, looking down at the ground.
Though many of us do not hear an audible word from God, we do hear His voice through other means. And just as if Christ were physically standing before you, you have the choice of whether or not you will listen and act upon what you hear. His word to us has been made available. His word to us is unchanging, but it can change us if we allow it to do so. Try reading Matthew 5-7 with an attitude of unbiased, unquestioned acceptance. Take what Jesus says to you at face value and commit to apply whatever God says to do--regardless of the apparent difficulty of the task. In childlike faith accept what He says--even when it doesn't make sense. Apply it--and you will experience God's power in ways you've never imagined. We do have a wonderful Lord. Instead of coming and standing in front of the church, He comes to us. He meets us where we are and accepts us just as we are, and He gives us what we need to draw near to Him unashamed.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 02:40:44 AM
Sufficiency of Grace

    Now to the one who works, His wage is not reckoned as a favor but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness (Rom. 4:4-5).

We are a busy people. Everyone of us, it seems, are having more trouble finding more time to do more things. Even our quiet times and church activities are sardined into an already tight schedule. Church has become a state of "doing" --a task to be accomplished. If righteousness were to come by works, many of us would be in the fast lane to Heaven. But God has made it clear to us that righteousness comes by faith. It is more a state of being than one of doing.
We may believe that, but how do we reflect that belief? How do we make that belief more evident in our fast-paced lives? A simple answer is to simply slow down. Simply put. But hard to do. Schedules busting at the seems of over-commitment make us feel powerless to live any other way. But God says "My grace is sufficient for you." You don't have to be doing and doing and doing.
There are those who preach quality over quantity, saying, "Make the most of the time you have." Good advise. But what do you do when your "quality time" is interrupted by thoughts of what needs done next? No wonder Jesus said "Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Living such hectic lives develops the mentality of works--one of "I have to be busy for God or I'm not being obedient to Him." Whatever happened to "Be still and know that I am God." Or what about Mary and Martha? Mary was BEING with the Lord Jesus while Martha was DOING for Him. Jesus considered Mary to be minding that which was important.
Our ability to please God does not increase with our activity for Him, but with our time spent with Him. It is then we discover His Grace is sufficient. Because it is then we discover it is His grace--not our effort--that carries us through each day.
Take some real time to spend time with our Lord. Sacrifice some of the other activities scheduled if necessary. You might be surprised to find that everything that is really important is still getting done. What have you got to lose--a headache or two? Or a possible forthcoming ulcer? The key is to ask God what you need to do today. You may be surprised to find your list of things to do get shorter. Try turning your schedule planning over to Him, and remember--His grace is sufficient.

    Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established (Prov. 16:3).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 02:41:22 AM
Coffee Cakes and Coffee

    And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water. . .shall in no way lose his reward (Mt. 10:42).

It was an early morning after I had dropped the kids off at school. I had my usual hour before I myself had to be in class. I had bought my usual cup of coffee, and this time I picked up a package of three small coffee cakes--my favorite kind. I then pulled into an empty parking lot in front of the building that my class was in. I parked, opened my Bible, and bowed my head in preparation for my morning quiet time with God.
I felt so close to Him. And then a smile came across my face as I thought about God being right there with me. I thought of what I would do if anyone else were there in the car with me--I would offer them one of the coffee cakes I had with me. Then I smiled even more, in a silly kind of fashion, as I asked God if He would like one. The mere words coming out of my mouth made me smirk, however I was quite serious. I did not expect Him to materialize beside me or that one of the coffee cakes to suddenly disappear, but in my heart I just wanted to share what I had with God, as we sat together over morning coffee.
Then I heard His voice clearly within my heart. He said to me, "Even as you do unto the least of these, by brethren, you have done it unto me." I was struck by that, and sat there thinking about what that could mean to me. I then understood that He was telling me that the way I could share with Him was to share with others--the way I could give to Him and to love Him, was to give to and love others. The thought was very enlightening. And I responded by assuring God that next time I was in a similar situation, I would go to someone and do just what He had told me. His reply was to tell me to go do it now. I looked around, but saw no one. I then saw the building in front of me where my classes were and thought that there might be someone in there, even though it was still quite early. I told God I would go in there and that the first person I came across I would share with that person my coffee cake.
The first person I met was the department secretary. But she told me she could not have those kinds of sweets. The next person to come in was one of my professors. I asked him if he would like to share my coffee cakes and he invited me into his office. We sat down, ate, and I shared my story of what had brought me to him. Our conversation moved from one thing to the next, and eventually found its way to some of the troubles I was having in school. God used him to speak to me regarding my anxieties, and I left there with much more than I had came in with.
I left my professor's office with a new peace for where I was in school, my life, and God's will. Though my intention was to give, I was the one who received. Though my desire was to sacrifice (albeit a coffee cake), I was the one who gained. And what began as a desire to share a coffee cake with my Lord, became a life-changing moment, bringing peace to a troubled heart.
We can never ever outgive God.

    Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over (Luke 6:38).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 02:41:54 AM
Perfect Strangers

    Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers and exiles in this world to abstain from the sensual urges (the evil desires, the passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul
    (1 Pt. 2:11, The Amplified Bible).

One of my all time favorite TV shows was one called "Perfect Strangers." In it, two cousins decide to share an apartment in Chicago. The twist was that one of them happened to be from a foreign country. The absurdity was that it was not only foreign, but it was very strange in custom and culture. The show's hilarious antics often keyed on the eccentric behaviors and beliefs of the one cousin's background in relation to the other's. The amazing thing was that Balci, who was the foreigner, often was the one with the best answers to the more important questions.
Peter tells us that as we belong to God, we are the strangers in the world. But what does it mean to be a stranger? Most of us would agree that if we met someone like Balci, who was from a land as different to ours as night is to day, that we could define a stranger as: someone who stands out from the rest, as different, or peculiar. They would have characteristics and customs unlike those of the people in whose land they now lived. Often, one look bears the evidence of this fact.
If we as God's children are strangers in this land, then it should be evident. As others look at us, they might notice that we have different choices in lifestyle, entertainment, and desires from life. And not simply because they are choices, as much as it is because of what's inside of us.
Balci's Meposian heritage simply shined through in every movement he made, every syllable he uttered. He could not help but be who he was. He was born into a way of life, and that life was ingrained in every part of his being.
We are much the same way. Our culture we are born into is very much a part of who we are. It has become entangled within every fiber of our being. Our actions, our words, our choices--all can indicate where we are from. But as Christians we are well aware of the scripture that tells us we are to be born again. This would imply that we are born into a new culture, one that is vastly different from the culture we previously were a part of.
We are born into a new way of life. But there is an old way of life that has become ingrained into each of us. And to our own sorrow, many of us are strangers in Heavenly lands because our ingrained worldly heritage seeps through. And to our pain, if we walked the streets of gold today, we would be the ones who stood out as eccentric.
This is not to paint too dismal a picture. But if we are the strangers of this land, and we are the children of Light; when one looks at us along side the world--the difference should be night and day. We may seem very odd to those around us, but if we are the reflection a heavenly land--then we are the ones who will know the answers to many of the most important questions.

    But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of the darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pt. 2:9).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 02:42:24 AM
Hand in Hand

    Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor; For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

Have you ever knelt beside a stream of water to take a drink and use your hands, cupped together, to draw the water to your mouth. Even if you haven't, I'm sure you can picture doing so. One hand does all right, but when the two are brought together the amount of water that is held increases quite a bit more, making it easier to carry the water to your mouth without it all going down the front of your shirt.
I remember a preacher who desired very much to see his church grow, both spiritually and in number. He really cared. Yet, out of his concern he tried to do everything that had to be done. He took it upon himself to lead, plan and approve any and all activities within the church. It was not long before his efforts led to his own fatigue. His concern gave way to the undue pressures he placed upon himself and his work of love soon became nothing more than a task to be accomplished. The church's response was to see him as a dictator, and before long they asked him for his resignation.
A lot of good intentions are at the root of many efforts for doing God's work. Sure, our heart is in it and we want to see God's work done--we want to see lives changed. But to go it alone was never God's intent for any of us. We need the support and prayer of others, no matter how great or how small the work we do. Sometimes we need the help of others--along side of us--working hand in hand. We most definitely need God no matter what we are doing. We simply were not intended to do it on our own.
How many times have you felt that you were alone in your cause, your work, or your beliefs? Did you ever feel stronger because of it? Or did you feel isolated and like you just wanted to withdraw from the world for a while so you could get your strength back? Maybe you felt like your thoughts were yours alone and that no one else understood, and so you would just keep your mouth shut and wait for everything to blow over.
The only thing that comes from such feelings of personal aloneness is that we become even more isolated than before. We want to be effective and fruitful in the work for the Lord, yet we cripple our efforts by standing on our own two feet.
God's plan for us is to have a support group of which He is the coordinator. He (not us), directs the course of His work. He shows us the what, where, who and how of something to be done. Then He provides us with people in our lives that will encourage and pray for us, and sometimes work right along side of us.

First, find out what God is wanting you to do. Secondly, rely on Him to empower you to do it (trust in His abilities--not your own). Third, have at least two or three people who will support you, advise you, pray for you and encourage you. Report to them the progress of the work, and keep them aware of how they can be praying for you. The increase will come and you will know more than ever before that you are not alone.

    I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 02:42:55 AM
Great Expectations

    My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation [is] from him (Ps.62:5).

A man came into some money and was considering how best to invest it. He had always wanted to have an apple orchard yet never thought it would be possible. Since he really knew very little about raising apples, much less a whole orchard, he decided to start small with about ten to twenty trees and work his way up. He purchased the land and purchased the apple tree saplings, and soon planted and cared for the trees to raise them up healthy and strong. Imagine his surprise when his apple trees began to produce peaches. It seems that his saplings had been packaged wrong at the time he bought them, and since he didn't know an apple tree from a peach tree, he got peaches.
The peach trees naturally produced what was in them to make. And no matter what the man expected from the tree, it could only naturally produce what was in it to produce. Jesus spoke of this when he said, "Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?" (Mt.7:16). He went further to describe that in the same way, that which is in people to produce is what will come out. If we abide in Him, he tells us we will produce good fruit. But as we know, abiding may not be the easiest thing for us to do. For even if the world and the cares of this life do not steal our attentions from Christ, something else usually does.
More subtle than evil are the good intentions that beset us. Our desires to be righteous are often our stumbling stones as they become our guide above Christ. We see things that need done to serve and to minister, and while these things fill us with good intentions and noble desires, they can often be the very things that pull us out of the will of God. We can easily become consumed by good works. So much so that we take our eyes off of Christ and get wrapped up in our work until one day we look back and realize that we left Christ at the starting gate, or somewhere behind.
It is often that God begins to direct us, and we take what He has told us to a point and then run with it. We see only in part and then jump to our expected conclusions and we tell God, "OK Lord, I got it. I'll take it from here." Then we wonder why we get peaches out of apple trees.
If we are not careful, we can become ruled by the expectations we place on ourselves or by expectations that others or the church place upon us. We then lose sight of Christ as we have left him in our super spiritual up-kicked dust, and we venture ahead out of our own strength or abilities. We do so until we grow tired and cannot go another step. We may get physically sick or mentally exhausted. Mind and body are drained by self-effort to produce the expected fruits until we have to stop, and sit down, and rest. Christ then catches up to us (at His pace) to find us worn and weary. He then picks us up to walk with Him again and we begin to produce the natural fruits once more.
It seems no matter how hard we try, or how much we or others expect from us, we cannot force a peach tree to produce apples.

    Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her
    (Luke 10:38-42).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 11:17:11 AM
Hearts of Lamentations

    Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted (Mt.5:4).

Ecclesiates tells us that "in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow" (1:18). There is no one I can think of who grieved more for fallen humanity than Christ Himself. He knew what was in man (John 2:25). He walked among humankind daily, knowing what was behind the masks they put on for everyone else. He knew their secrets, ambitions, desires and thoughts. Yet, He did not run away from that sorrow--he bore it. He faced up to it, even though it grieved Him, so that all mankind could know joy.
Jesus tells us that to whom much is given, much is required. We have been given eternal life, His joy, and the gift of His indwelling presence (to name a few things). We have also been given a great responsibility. We are to look humanity in the face and not wince. We are to see the wickedness of mankind and not run. As we draw closer to God, we cannot help but feel His pain for a fallen people. We cannot help but fall to our knees and yearn for God to bring Light to those who dwell in darkness.

Mourning Walk

        Early morning silence embraces,
        his footsteps softly traverse the hall.
        Bluish tinted walls lay left and right,
        a wake within the peripheral of night.
        The couch waits in the darkness like a friend.
        And meets him as he bends his knees beside,
        He lays, head on arm, across the cushion,
        as though within the stillness he would hide.
        His heart beats into his eyes
        and forces tears to fall to arm and couch.
        Bemoaning what has driven man from God,
        He pleads for Light,
        and waits with longing for the Morning Son.

A very familiar song tells us that "People Need the Lord." We must allow ourselves to feel some of the Father's pain that He feels as He watches His children do things that are hurting them. Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted." It may be painful to experience the kind of knowledge and wisdom that Solomon speaks of--the kind that brings us grief and sorrow. But God assures us that we will be comforted. And in this process, we may discover that the depressing thoughts of a fallen people may be worth having--they may be the very thing that compel us to fall to our knees and lift up a fallen soul to the God who can lift them up.

    ...how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Mt. 23:37).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 11:17:43 AM
A Place of Honor

    Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase (Pr. 3:9).

In a dream, you see yourself seated at an immense banquet table in what seems to be the biggest, most beautifully decorated banquet hall you have ever seen. The table you are seated at seems to go on forever. It is large and round, and seems to have thousands of people seated at it, many of whom you can barely make out as people at all. In fact, if not for their movement, you are certain they would blend into the background. You then notice someone seated at the place of honor--it is God Himself. You can hardly believe it and you can hardly wait to see what will happen next.
One by one people begin to stand and make their way to the podium to speak. Each one tells of what God has done in their lives, the wonderful lessons taught, life saving and life changing events. There are heartfelt words about God's grace, and tearful words about His mercy. One by one, each tells the rest what God meant to him or her personally. Then you notice that it's your turn. You stand. You make your way to the podium...
What do you do? What do you say? How long will your time of honoring be--or how short? Does a warm smile come to your face as your heart melts in joy to tell of God's love for you and the wonderful times you have spent together? Or do you grow anxious--worried how your story will compare to the rest?
What does it mean to honor God? Proverbs 3:9 tells us to "Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase." In other scripture, we are instructed that honor goes far beyond righteous acts, it is a matter of honoring God in our hearts as well (Isa.29:13; Ps.78:36; Mk.7:6-7). The Bible does not focus merely on tithes, offerings and righteous acts, it focuses more on the condition of the heart when we are doing those things--and when we are not doing them.
Honoring God with your "substance" (or wealth in other translations), is not referring merely to income. If we limit ourselves to this we are certainly defining who we are within narrow margins. Your substance is defined by everything you are and all you have to offer. I'm sure you agree that you have a lot more to offer than money. In fact, if someone were to limit what you have to offer as only having to do with money, you would more than likely be offended.
So why is it that when we hear words like, "Honor the Lord with thy substance," that the main thing that comes to mind is money? Perhaps God should be offended. After all, He made you to be, and to have the potential to be, far more than a walking bank account. You--aside from your net worth--are important to God. Who you are as a person is what is most important to Him. And the best way you can honor Him is by honoring Him in who you are.
As you allow Him to shape your life so that you can honor Him in it, honoring Him with money and righteous acts will be a byproduct, not the main product.

    For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; Thou art not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise (Ps. 51:16-17).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 11:18:17 AM
One Body: United in Christ, Like-minded in Purpose

    I appeal to you brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought (1 Cor. 1:10).

God has called us to be like minded, after the likeness of the mind of Christ; and in this that we might have unity and not division. So why then do we not only debate issues but have let them divide us, and continue to do so. Even as the early Church did, so do we today. For in Paul's time the church was divided; some saying they were of Paul, and some of Apollos, and some of Cephas, and some of Christ. To which Paul responded "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Cor. 1:12-13) And yet, have we not done the same today? For some say, I am Baptist; and some I am Methodist; and some I am Pentacostal; and some I am Catholic. To which the response remains, "Is Christ divided?" Is it God's determination that we divide ourselves in such a way as to join with those with whom we can agree? Or was it instead His intentions that we allow our differences to draw us together, to strengthen us, and to balance us? For as it is, we have divided the Body of Christ, placing an arm here, and a leg there. Each detached as though it were able to maintain self sufficiency. For we are not one within the Baptist, or one within the Catholic, or Presbyterian, or Methodist. But we are all one within the Body, even the Body of Christ.
Keep in mind that each group's truth within these issues is not founded lightly. They have searched and researched the scriptures and can support their individual beliefs with scripture. Not to accept anything another part of Christ's body believes is to be arrogant; and to ignore their thoughts and insights completely is simply ignorant. Holding to a denominational viewpoint simply because it is ones own is foolish, and stems from pride, and not from God. Their is no one denomination, group or individual that holds all truth, it is God's alone.
However, we must not agree to disagree, but agree that one day we can agree. Not that we might all compromise the Truth, but that we might discover it as a whole. And not that it should be one groups truth over another, but that we might be willing to put aside our individual truth, and embrace God's Truth in unity of heart and likeness of mind. Knowing the day will come when our thinking will come into alignment with one another's, as it becomes in alignment with God's.
So we then should draw together as one Body, enabling the Body to function as a whole, allowing each part to function within the Body according to it's design. Some parts for prophesy, some for tongues, some for healing, some for teaching, some for serving, some for administration, some for giving, and all for the Head of the Body, which is Christ. Working together as one in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. For the cause and the needs and the purpose of the whole far outweigh those of the individuals. Therefore, do not continue in division as to cripple the Body of Christ, but come together and serve His purpose as one.

    Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others (Rom. 12:4-5).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 11:18:50 AM
The Defense Rests

    Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels (2 Tim. 2:23).

Many areas of Scripture continue to surface in 'religious' conversations as an issue of debate. Although "no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation" (2 Pet. 1:20); many continue to hold to the interpretations which best support their own personal ideology. While it is true that we can only with extreme difficulty, escape surrounding influences and personal biases, it is necessary for us to examine the scriptures apart from these influences to the best of our ability. This is not to separate ourselves to the point that we do not apply the Scriptures to our own lives, rather it is to enable us to discover God's truth, not ours, regarding His Scripture. And then to accept the truth--and then to apply it.
So what is truth? There is only one Truth and that is God's Truth. Only by seeking God's Truth can we truly align ourselves with Him in purpose and in heart. After all, we claim this very thing to be our goal. That is, to imitate the Father, and be like Him in purpose and in heart. This then being the intent that we claim, it is surprising that we do not seek God's Truth all the more. Sure, we say that we seek His Truth; but when it is given it is then that we often run the other way. For we seek to avoid pain more readily than to bathe in pain which accompanies Truth. "For the Word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). Knowing this very thing to be Truth, how is it then that we turn the more quickly to accept the pleasant truth. Which is really no truth at all but instead the bliss of ignorance. Ignorance is not living, or powerful, or piercing; but it is dead, weak, and dull. It seeks to pacify to the point of regression, and never promotes perseverance and growth.
As for those who claim not only to seek God's truth, but to also have obtained it. God's truth is not something to be obtained but applied. After all who's truth is it? Is it yours or God's? I cannot obtain it as to possess it. It is God's alone. So then, why the controversy? Why the debate? Did God give it to us for us to argue? Certainly not. So why then do we argue? Is it because we are defending God's Truth--or our truth? God's Truth is a defense to itself. It is a stable rock and does not require defense from the unstable. It is not in the Spirit then that we argue the truth. (Search your own spirit and see if this is not so). But it is more often prideful boastings that are being defended; and human intellect being exalted. For if it were for truth sake that we debate, the Spirit would be in it. As it is, the Spirit removes Himself when the quest for Truth becomes a debate of issues. The Spirit has no regard for points to be proven through lengthy discussion, but that the truth might be known, and to the edification of those who receive it. Therefore accept God's Truth as He reveals it, and apply it as He directs. For only in so doing can the truth become part of you.

    And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hop that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 24-25).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 11:19:22 AM
Transforming Thoughts

    And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom. 12:2).

A writer of Proverbs tells us that there is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is destruction. We live in a society that is propelled along by a self-seeking mentality. One that employs each of us to find our own way, get all we can out of life, to find the thing that makes us happy and make it ours. Slogans like, "Look out for number one," have become popular within the last few decades, encouraging us to push on toward success in this life. That is, success as defined by the world we live in.
Sad as it is, most of us have bought into the lies of our culture. So much so, that the difference between the church and the lost community is hard to see. Some of the solid lines that were drawn between perceived godliness and worldliness have become vague and in some cases, almost nonexistent.
So what's the matter? The matter is that as we grow up in such a culture, the culture becomes a part of us, so much so, that we are very much the product of our culture. Our philosophies, ideals, and desires are shaped, molded and carved out of the clay our culture consists of . As much as the people of this nation want to claim that we are all individuals, there is an awful lot done to look, act, dress and live according to the pre-established guidelines of cultural norms. Very few of us are indeed true individuals, unaffected by societal sculpting. Being such, how we think is very much influenced by the common societal mind-set. We think much like everyone else around us. And if we think like those around us, then how we act or react to a given situation will be much the same as those around us. How we solve problems, how we make a living and even how we raise our children are all impacted by the thinking-style that is part of who we are because of where we have grown up.
Needless to say, the thinking patterns that have become part of us have become intertwined with every part of our being. And they affect every facet of our lives. The problem is that much of the societal thinking which has infected us is not of God. Much of the how we transact business, raise families, engage in friendships, choose where we will live and work, etc. is thought out first in terms of our cultural thinking. Even our churches do most of their business and financial planning based on such reasoning. Often what seems to be the best business decision supersedes providential ministry.
Romans 12 tells us that we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. That would indicate a change in our old thought patterns. We abandon our old ways of thinking, problem solving, business transacting, etc., and we adopt a new way of thinking as defined in scripture. It won't be easy. We are use to handling things a certain way, and giving that up takes hard work. Yet, if we are to find true successful living, we must learn to do it God's way and find the strength to question our usual ways of doing things--rejecting that which clashes with the Word of God.
Be certain that your so called "common sense" will take a beating. But I am sure that if you are willing to abandon everything you have ever known, and trust God to guide you, you will find the life that God has chosen for you--and you will know God's blessing in your life to the fullest.

    . . .I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (Jesus, Jn. 10:10).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 11:19:51 AM
Our Darkest Hour

    And behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the boat was covered with the waves; but he [Jesus] was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us; we perish (Mt. 8:24-25).

I once watched a seen on the television show, "Little House on the Prairie" in which the Ingles family were going through a desperate time. I do not really remember what was wrong, but I remembered one of the ways they chose to deal with their circumstances. One of the family members read from the Psalms while the others sat by and listened. This seemed to help give them hope in the midst of their darkest storm.
As I thought about this, I wondered how many of us today handle our darkest hour in a similar fashion. Do we come together and read aloud the scriptures, or do we withdraw to our own quiet corner in despair? Do we quickly come to God and ask Him for His help, or do we sit motionless, staring into space like helpless zombies?
The disciples were afraid because of the storm. And because of that fear they felt certain they would perish. Yet, even still, they knew where to run. They knew who to turn to.
Within our dark storms, the fountains of worry and fear spring up all around. We easily lose sight of God, because we get to where we cannot see anything but the problems. The more we focus on the problems, the bigger they become. They begin to overwhelm, and we soon find ourselves victims of circumstance. The situation becomes more and more powerful, demanding all of our energy, time and attention, until we are weak and unable to do anything but think about the unconquerable happening.
What can be done? For starters we need to force ourselves to move our focus away from the problem and toward the solution. Coming together with others and reading the Word of God is a way to provide hope, encouragement and strength. It is a way for us to take control of the immense problem and put it into perspective. It is nothing God cannot handle. It is nothing that took God by surprise. And it is nothing He cannot help us through. Compared to Him--it is nothing.
We have our own ways of handling painful and troublesome situations. If we are honest with ourselves, many of us might agree that our own ways usually draw us to wallow in pools of self pity, or cause us to retreat and lick our wounds. We do at times handle things fairly well. We get by. We make it through. Yet, there is a way that is best. A way that can bring the good, out of what may appear to be a bad situation. We just have to let go of our way and allow ourselves to be lifted up by the Hand of God.

    And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 11:20:22 AM
The Paradox of Purity

    Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God (Mt. 5:8).

Some time ago, I wrestled with a deep and troubling thought. It had occurred to me that a lot of good ministry is done for the wrong reasons. Some of the most enthusiastic Christians, clergy and lay people alike, were quite busy about the work of God, yet it seemed their motivations were less than pure.
Sure, we know about the TV evangelist caught in a scandal because he chose to line his pockets with the tithes and love offerings of the parishioners. But these are not of whom I speak. I am talking about those who are doing the work with what seems to be the best of intentions--outwardly. Yet inwardly, they are even deceiving themselves. Or should I say--we are often deceiving ourselves.
In order for a righteous work to be pure, many of us would agree that it should be done with no thought of self. Works motivated by self-gain or by desire to be recognized will quickly turn a pure motive to impure. In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us that our reward is in doing our righteous acts not to be seen by people, but by God. And that if our motives are impure, we will have our reward. That reward will be the superficial recognition we desired, or perhaps a sense of satisfaction that we did our righteous duty.
Perhaps the most common impure motivation we find in our churches today is guilt. If we do something so that we don't feel guilty, we then are doing it for ourselves and not so much for another. We do it so that we can go to sleep with a clear conscience, so we can feel good about self. Otherwise, we may not feel good about who we are beneath our Christian label, that somehow we are not living up to what is expected of us. If we claim to be a Christian, "we should be..." Many things can complete that sentence. And many things that do are birthed from a sense of religious obligation, driven far too often by guilt.
The thing that struck me in all of this was to think about a young man who seems to be driven. He witnesses everyday, yet the people's faces and names slip away from memory. He feels he must continue, yet his genuine concern for the people he talks to seems fleeting. What if the only deep down driving factor for this young man is that he wants to feel better about himself as a Christian? The guilt is gone, but what else does he have? What is his reward?
Here's the paradox. If your motives are to remove guilt, to do religious duty or gain a sense of self-satisfaction, as Jesus puts it, "Verily I say unto you, [you] have [your] reward." But if you can look at yourself honestly and see that your motives are impure, and then you can determine "I will do what needs to be done even if I get nothing from it, because. . ." then you will have your reward. Simply put, "I realize my motives are often impure, however, I can choose not to let that keep me from doing what needs done--even if I don't believe I will get anything out of it." If I do what I do thinking there may be nothing in it for me, then there is truly something for me. But if I do it thinking about what's in it for me, then there is nothing.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 11:20:57 AM
Meeting Needs

    Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (Matthew 6:26).

Time and again all throughout scripture, God promises us that He will take care of us. Matthew six makes specific references to food, water and clothing. Yet the context of scripture indicates that it is God who meets all of your needs. Philippians 4:19 tells us "But my God shall supply all of your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
We have a difficult time remembering that He supplies for the things mentioned in Matthew six, let alone everything else. For some odd reason, we think that by our abilities we get a job. And that by our work, we earn an income. And that by our income, we are able to have food to eat, clothing to wear and a house to live in. We take the responsibility to provide for our families seriously and believe that since working is what God expects of us, then His expectation is as far as He goes with us. Sure, we say God gives us this or that, but underneath it all we often feel it is us who has provided these things. This must be so, otherwise we wouldn't worry so much when we find ourselves out of work. Who we trust shines through when we are unemployed. We pray and everything, but we then scramble for classified adds and job applications--ready to take just about anything that means a steady paycheck.
Such situations are difficult to be sure, but they can be a lot easier to endure when we stop putting our trust in what we can do to provide and start looking to see what God has provided us to do.

He Knows

            When things are not as clear,
            as we thought that they might be.
            And our not so distant future's filled,
            with great uncertainty.
            It's then I need to cling to God,
            more fervent than before.
            And seek an open window,
            when it seems He's shut the door.
            For I know there are more avenues,
            than I can sometimes see.
            And God will never close the door,
            to just abandon me.
            At times my way of thinking,
            doesn't match His way divine.
            Or things I seek do not fall in,
            His way, His place, or time.
            So now I must determine,
            to let go of it all.
            And know that God is faithful,
            to make the judgment call.
            He knows the road ahead of me,
            contains some rocks and weeds.
            And He alone knows what it takes,
            to fill all of my needs.

God knows our needs, but He needs to know we trust Him to meet those needs. If we do trust Him with the faith of a child, then we can rest worry free in the interim.

    ". . .God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we say in confidence, 'The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. . ." (Heb. 13:5-6).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 11:21:29 AM
All The Things That Money Can Buy

    Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Heb. 13:5).

This is perhaps a very familiar verse of scripture to many of us. Probably due to one word that seems to stand out above the rest--"money." It is probably not surprising that it should stand out as it does, when we see the word all sorts of thoughts may come to mind. Perhaps even a feeling of dread as we prepare for the Bible to tell us that our thoughts toward money may be impure, or that we may have to give some up or give up wanting it.
Amazing as it may be, this verse is not so much focused on money as we might think. It probably just seems that way due to our cultural biases. Instead, the focus is toward the end of the verse, within the reason not to love money--"because God has said. . ."
Perhaps a paraphrase like this might be helpful:

    God will never leave you or allow your needs to be forgotten. Believe that, for it is so true. Because of this fact, you don't have to worry about running out of money or material wealth--He will see to it that you always have what you need. Be at peace with your current life circumstances, the Lord is faithful.

The verse does not focus on the money as much as on the reason why people seem to love money, or seem to lack contentment with what they have--they simply fear not having it. Why do people love money? It makes them feel secure. The more they have, the more they feel secure. We seem to think that if we have enough money we won't have to worry about things, like, where our next meal is coming from, or will I be able to pay the rent this month. But money is not a sure thing--just keep an eye on the stock market. Watch the fluctuation of the value of a dollar. Take a good look at empires (such as Russia) that collapse economically.
Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and [money]" (Mt. 6:24). We like to feel secure, and we will tend to love that which can make us feel secure. We will tend to "hold to the one" that provides security "and despise" the one that does not. It is not a matter of what you say you believe, but a matter of where you demonstrate that you have placed your trust.
Money fluctuates. God is stable. Money is not a sure life-long investment. God is sure to be invested in your long life. We say that our paychecks are spent before we even get them, and leave us wanting. "But my God shall supply all of your needs."
Who is it that supplies all of your needs? Which one have you put your trust in? Ask God to search your heart and show you matters of security that you have trusted money to provide for, and ask Him to help you trust everything to Him alone.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 11:22:01 AM
Managing God's Resources

    He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If, therefore, ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous [money], who will commit to your trust the true riches? (Lk. 16:10-11).

How many times have heard someone say, "If only I had more money, I would. . ."? Maybe you have said it yourself--I know I have. By the look of many things, it would seem to be much more feasible to do some things if we had a larger net worth.
My dreams have included things like Christian clubs that provided a wholesome environment for Christians of all ages to come and fellowship. I once thought I would like to have enough money to buy a large apartment complex and make it a home for the homeless--no cost to them. Those are just two of the many desires I had, "had I only had more money."
But my thinking was jarred by a familiar passage of scripture where Jesus fed the 5000. He didn't sit on the grassy hill side and mutter to himself, "If only I had more money, I could feed every one of these people." What He did was take what He had, gave thanks, and trusted God to meet the existing need. He didn't need more resources, He knew God could help him to make do with what was available.
The major difference here is that I had looked at what I could do--"if only." Jesus looked at what God willed to do. It was God's will to feed the multitudes, Jesus just followed through with what needed to be done, trusting God to provided the resource to make it happen.
What would we do "if only"? Who's will would we follow? It is not for us to decide what God's will is, but to find and follow it. If we have a predisposition to do a particular ministry given enough resource, then when the necessary resources come along we will probably apply them toward what we have willed to do. But we could be forgetting to see what God has willed for giving us the resources. He may have an entirely different direction for us to take that we may never see if our ambitions cloud our vision to see His will. Maybe what we think would be a good use of money is not what God's good use is. We may want to pay off a new church building project with an inheritance, when it is God's desire to have a church body built by coming together to pay for it.
Jesus showed faith in the apparent lack of resource to meet the need. We are to do the same, trusting God to provide. Yet, we are also to trust God when we have an apparent abundance that He already has in mind what we are to use the excess for.
We may have some great and worthy ambitions, yet if they fall outside of God's will then they need to be abandoned. God is not so much wanting to see what you can do "if only" you get what you think is needed to do a ministry or other work, as He is interested in seeing that you are faithful to do what He gives you to do with the little you have. If we are not following God's will for us with what we already have, why should He entrust us with any more that He has already given us?

Doing God's will may sometimes mean holding back when much is held, at other times, giving from what cannot be seen.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 11:22:34 AM
Practice, Practice, Practice

    He [Christ] replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice (Lk. 8:21).

I once had a Christian friend tell me that the Sermon on the Mount was an ideal, but nothing we are to try to live up to because we would most certainly fail. I was not quite sure I understood what he meant. But what I think he was getting at was that he believed that Christ was presenting us with the truest standard of measure by which we would have to live in order to please God--a standard of righteousness and purity that is beyond us.
The people of the Jesus' day were trying to live up to the Law as their religious leaders had interpreted it. Needless to say, over time the interpretations of the Law fell prey to human reasoning and religious rhetoric. Jesus, however, brought forth from the mangled misunderstandings a clearer representation of what the Law was intended to be.
My friend's understanding was most likely founded in an understanding of God's grace in his own life. A grace that goes beyond the Law in that we are not able--without the grace of God--to live up to the standards of truest righteousness. To see the Sermon on the Mount as the ideal of what should be, yet cannot because of our inadequacy, leaves us depending on nothing of our selves but entirely on the merciful grace of God. My friend would more than likely contend that what Christ was drawing us to was not so much the unreachable standard, as He was drawing us to an understanding of our complete dependency on the grace of God.
But to stop there would be inconsistent with the message of the Scripture. For although we are inadequate and therefore under grace, we must never give up striving toward the righteousness Christ spoke of. The apostle Paul knew the struggle with sin and selfish desire (Rom.7:15-20), yet he states "I press toward the mark for the prize. . ." (Phil. 3:14). The writer of Hebrews similarly encourages, "let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" (Heb. 12:1-2). The truest Christian Ideal is that we realize the ideal is one that may elude us from time to time, yet we strive for the goal of righteousness found in Christ and through His strength alone.
The ideals of the Sermon on the Mount may be difficult to understand, swallow or practice, yet Christ ends His sermon with the illustration of the foolish builder and the wise builder. He tells us:

    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. . .But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. . ." (Mt.7:24-27).

An Olympic Ice-skater must practice very hard every day. Rest assured that person does not hit the ice perfect the first time. Many setbacks occur--and lots of falling down. Yet the skater is determined to get back up and press on toward the goal. Christ wants us to put into practice the words in the Sermon. He knows full well we will fall down a number of times, yet He encourages us to get back up and keep at it. The more we practice, the fewer setbacks we are likely to experience. We will discover the blessings of perfecting God's will in some areas of our lives, while we gain a greater awareness of His grace each time we fall down and He reaches His hand to us to help us up--and to help us try again.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 11:23:06 AM
What Is Not Seen With Human Eyes

    The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).

My wife and I joined a local church after searching for about six months for the church where God wanted us. We looked at a number of churches, each one had some outstanding characteristics that separated it from the rest. One we visited was renovating and looked more contemporary than the rest. Another seemed to be very traditional, including the cathedral ceiling and choir robes. One seemed to fall right in the middle. One was large, another small. One sang upbeat songs while another the old hymns.
I was at a point where I had had my fill of "traditional churches" feeling that they were stuck. It seemed they had fell into a routine of "doing church" the way they had always been doing it. There seemed to be a stagnate heart about such churches, which to me seemed unwilling to change even if God Himself were to speak audibly to them and tell them to do so. I believe Jesus addressed such an attitude when He said (speaking of the Pharisees) that they teach "for doctrines the commandments of men" (Mt.15:9). Such churches seemed more directed by budget and bylaw than by Christ. They seem to do business according to the dollar sign and Robert's Rules than by the guidance of the Head of the Church which is Christ.
One of the churches we visited seemed to be rooted in tradition. It held the traditional sanctuary decor, along with choir robes and mostly old hymns. Yet, to my amazement this was the church for us. We were at our first Sunday service at the church and it was not long before we discovered something wonderful. This church had a vision. It had direction. And it had purpose. It was one that seemed motivated by a deeply seated desire to see God's work done, and was driven to act on the same. Not to glorify the church but what God was evidently doing in it, through it, and with it.
Sometime during the process, God showed me an example of a great truth. Just as in all things, you cannot judge the heart by the exterior. And you cannot let the exterior guide your actions. What appears to be right, good and best is not always right, good and best. We know this truth well. Yet, for some odd reason so many of us continue making more of our decisions based on outward appearance than on inward reality.
By the grace of a loving, guiding God who opened my eyes, I have found a church home for me and my family. Had I allowed my human eyes to guide me I would have certainly gone elsewhere. Yet God allowed me to see beneath the traditional coverings of this old church--to see a young, vibrant heart beating for Him.
Imagine how much we miss out on because we allow our choices to be influenced by appearance. We may miss out on a relationship with a wonderful, godly person because maybe they seem a little odd. Or maybe we miss out on working a job where God knows we would be happiest, because it doesn't seem to pay what we think it should. Perhaps we miss out on leading a soul to Christ because of the apparent lack of time, money, etc.
It is time we stop looking with the eyes of flesh and start looking through the eyes of God. Only then will we experience His will perfected in us, and have the abundant and full life that He wants for us. Only then will we be able to beyond what seems to be to what is.
How can we do this? We must question our first impression. Before we even give way to wrong thoughts we must back up and see if what we are thinking is Christ-like. We must take our thoughts before God in prayer and ask Him to help us to see His truth in the matter. And we must base our decisions upon what He shows us to be, and not what we think that we see. Until our nature learns to respond more like Christ, our greatest enemy is our first response.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 11:23:41 AM
Falling Down

    I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do (Rom.7:15).

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do (Rom.7:15).
If you've ever watched a toddler learning to walk, you have probably noticed several things about the process. First of all, it's no easy task. It takes time to develop the muscle strength and coordination to even stand up, much less take off walking. Secondly, the child needs something to pull up with--something secure that he can hold on to as he gets to his feet. Often that secure thing might be the pant-leg of a standing parent. A third reality is that the child will fall down. Bumps, bruises and banged up body parts are often a result. And with that--falling down hurts.
You have probably already heard comparisons between our walking with God and our learning to walk as a toddler. Nevertheless it seems to be one of the best illustrations to describe the work that goes into learning to walk in the Spirit. It is no easy task. It takes time to develop the spiritual stamina to stand in your beliefs--much less walk. It is something we cannot do alone. We need something secure to pull ourselves up and help us to stay on our feet. We see that secure something as being our Lord. It is the "pant-leg" of our Heavenly Father that provides us the place to hold onto as we pull ourselves up.
The unpleasant reality is that as we learn to walk in the Spirit we will fall down. We will be knocked off of our feet by a troublesome sin that seems to keep tripping us up. Throughout our walk we continue to be threatened to trip over the shoelaces of selfishness, or lose our balance by being more concerned with what we see around us than keeping our mind on what we are doing. No matter how long we are on this earth we will experience times that it would seem nothing can stop us now, only to trip over an unnoticed obstacle.
Getting up is not easy. When we fall down we get hurt. A bruised ego or a bang to the complacency often results. Sometimes we seem to brush ourselves off, grab on to God's pant-leg and pull ourselves back up to try it again. But there are those times where we cannot find the strength to get back up--when it's easier to sulk in the pain.
The hard fact is: we will sin. We will mess up and we will feel bad. It's not a pleasant feeling to disappoint God and ourselves when we blow it. Nevertheless, God wants us to get back up and try again. It's not His will for us to beat ourselves up over our mistakes, but to learn from them and "press on toward the mark." Do you need a hand getting up? God is a secure place to grab onto. He will reach down and comfort you when you mourn over your sin ("blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted" Mt.5:4). He will also lift you to your feet when you have no strength to do it ("I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Phil.4:13). And He places people around you that can help you as well ("If one falls down, his friend can help him up" Eccl. 4:10).
It's OK to cry when you hurt. But there is always a time to brush yourself off and get to your feet. You cannot move forward in your Christian walk when your sitting in self-pity. God wants you to see your sin for what it is, be sorry for it and move (walk) away from it. He understands you feel bad, but beating yourself up is as much out of His will as the reason you are beating yourself up. Both things keep you from moving forward.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 11:24:14 AM
Bad Roots

    Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned (Rom.5:12).

I once had received some shrubbery from a friend of mine who felt he had too many shrubs and wanted to get rid of them. I was looking forward to how they would add character to the front yard and soon began to dig holes to plant them in. But it seemed that in the transplanting process that the roots had become enormously damaged. Not to mention I really didn't know what I was doing as well. Yet I still tried to make it work.
I planted and watered and they looked great, that is, for the first week or so. But it was not long before the leaves turned brown and then the branches became brittle. There was nothing I could do now but to pull them up and throw them away.
We too have bad roots. Not to put it all on Adam, but it is true that our roots are tainted with sin and the effects thereof. God, of course, saw this condition and knew what to do to bring life back to us [For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned. . .much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ (Rom.5:17)]. God replaced the roots. Or should I say, He engrafted the branches onto a new root system--one that was full of life. Jesus said, "I am the vine and you are the branches, if a man remains in me and I in him he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn.15:5). Jesus was God's answer to our bad roots.
But strange as it is, we continue to try to do so much on our own--out of self will and self determination. Referring back to the vine and the branches, we would think it odd if the branches on a plant suddenly jumped off, deciding they would go it alone for a while. Yet that is exactly what we do when we choose our way over God's. We stop abiding in the Vine (Christ), and somehow think we have the strength within ourselves to do all things--or at least some things.
The only way to abide fully in our Lord is to shed selfish will. Not an easy task. Yet we must remember that any time we go it alone we are depending on our own old, rotting root system. Not much life in that.
How then do we shed selfish will? By abiding in Him. How do we abide in Him? By surrendering self will to Him. But it won't happen overnight so don't get discouraged by setbacks. Confess it, get it right and get back in the right Root System of Christ.
Remember that it takes no strength to remain in Christ, for if we do then He is our strength. But when we do not remain in Him we will soon be sapped of all our strength, and become dry and brittle.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 11:24:44 AM
Equip Yourself

    Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. . so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground. . . (Eph.6:11-13).

These verses come from a wonderful passage that vividly conjures imaginations in our minds of Holy Armor and Righteous warfare. Anyone with an imaginative flare for the days of shields and swords might see themselves in fierce battles with demonic forces, seeking to save the lives of lost souls fallen prey to the wiles of Satan.
That might not be what you see, but you probably have some sort of strong mental image that is drawn as you read Paul's description of the figurative armor he encourages us to don.
Paul talks about a belt of truth, helmet of salvation, a shield of faith, a breastplate of righteousness and the sword of the Spirit (which is the Word of God), and feet fitted with readiness. Paul is trying to help us to understand how we need to be protected from the "fiery darts" of the enemy. But what about the enemy within? What about the enemy inside the armor?
The greatest enemy we shall know is a selfish heart. As we put ourselves before God we will find that, were we to have our armor on, it would be useless. Wrong attitudes will remove the edge from our swords, and complacent spirits will drop our shields of faith to our sides. Even if we don our armor daily through reading the Word and praying, if the armor is not in good repair or donned carelessly, we might as well be going without. Half hearted quiet times filtered through the distractions of the day are no match for the devil's attacks.
But let's not forget about our other armor. It is the armor of self-will. God cannot use a stubborn, selfish heart, but He will try to change the heart to make it usable. His Truth is a cutting knife. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that "the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword; piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
What happens when we resist the piercing Word? We begin to don a different armor, girded with the belt of ignorance and hidden behind the shield of self-confidence. We become numb to God's penetrating Word, and in turn, we develop an armor that defends us against Him.
It should be evident to us, then, that what is on the inside will oppose what is on the outside. If God is allowed to penetrate into all of your being, then you will have His strength in you to oppose the devils attacks. But if worldliness is allowed in, then it will be a shield against God, and you will become numb to God's influence. You must choose what or Who you will allow in, you cannot have it both ways. Jesus was very clear when He said, "No man can serve two masters" (Mt.6:24).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 11:25:14 AM
Hold Still

    The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).

Love found. Love lost. A goal reached. A broken dream. Both good and bad are in our lives. Each thing we experience helps to shape who we become. Each thing that happens to us should be looked upon as purposeful, allowed by the Sovereign Hand of God.
Our circumstances are not always pleasing, yet we can always take pleasure within them in knowing that God's perfect will is being accomplished. It's not easy, yet the benefits are tremendous.
With each and everything we face, God has a perfect purpose. To say otherwise would be to say that some of what shapes us is beyond His control. He sees in us the potential of who we can be. His will is to see that we meet that potential, and He will only allow us to experience those things that can be used in doing so.
Where we fail ourselves is when we guard ourselves against His work on us. Imagine a child who has a splinter in his finger, and has come to mom to get it removed. He wants the splinter out because it hurts, but he is afraid it will hurt to get it taken out. Every time mom gets the tweezers close to the splinter the boy winces and jerks back. This process winds up being dragged out several times longer than it would normally take.
As hard as it is, we must become totally vulnerable before God. We need to stop tensing up when He comes near. What He has to do may seem to hurt for a moment but the end result is much better that the present state. He loves us and will try to do whatever needs done with the least amount of pain possible.
Trying to help my daughter with a splinter, or the like, is quite a struggle. Yet, her best interest is what I have at heart. I have become quite frustrated trying to help her as she pulls back. And I often say to her something like, "Would you stop that, I am only trying to help you and you know I don't want to hurt you--Trust me." I can imagine God saying something like that to us: "Be still. . .Trust me."
If only we could let ourselves refuse our natural tendency to pull away, His work would go a lot more smoothly and be done a lot quicker.
Whether small or big, devastating or exuberant, we need to always keep in mind that God is at work in our lives through it all. As we allow ourselves to trust Him, we too will be able in all things to say, "Blessed be the name of the Lord."


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 16, 2006, 07:51:35 PM
Building Blocks

    But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "Why did you make me like this?" (Rom.9:20).

I use to love building models as a boy, or should I say, the idea of building them. I did not build many before I got discouraged with my results. I was go excited to see the finished product that I would never give the glue time to dry before moving on to the next step. As a result, the model would drop a piece or two from the bottom while I worked on the top, or visa-versa. Or perhaps I would be lucky enough to get it all together and painted, only to see wads of glue showing through the drips of model paint which had been put on thick rather than by using a few thin coats. It seems I was so interested in the results being what I had imagined, that I was not willing to allow the time and patience needed to get those results.
Each of us are in the process of becoming. It is a slow and often tedious process. It is also one that we continuously try to rush. If we have a habit to kick, we want to do it in a day. Or if we have a habit we think would be good to develop, we want it to be a habit after one time. Yet we know that is not realistic.
Our walk with God is much the same, and we often face discouragement when we don't see ourselves to be the types of Christians we think we should be "by now." This may lead us to push the results. To try to force a finished product without the essential ingredients--time and patience. We then become like the model car, boat or plane, so distorted from what should have been because the process was hurried.
Perhaps we are motivated by what we feel others think of us, or by what we think of ourselves, or perhaps even what we think God thinks of us. Nevertheless, what we have done to appear that we have it all together will not cover up the blemishes. Our impatience shows through, and everyone including ourselves will be able to notice that it is not real. It's just something done to make us think we are doing what we need to be as a Christian.
There is an end product God has in mind when He looks at us. And it may look nothing like what we think it should. It certainly looks nothing like anything we force ourselves to be. God's will for us is that we be where we are, and allow Him to take us where we are going. Paul said, "I have learned the secret of being content" (Phil.4:12).
We are to rest at ease in the process. Otherwise we become anxious, and in so doing, hurry the process. The Bible tells us we are to be anxious for nothing (Phil.4:6). This includes our Christian walk. It is to be shaped, not forced. It is a daily process, not a finished product. It is God's will for us that we be content with who we are today, and realize that God is making us for tomorrow.

    Being convinced of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil.1:6).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 02:09:39 PM
Holding Hands

    My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand (John 10:29).

The old song tells us, "I don't know about tomorrow, but I know who holds my hand." There are those times, however, when it would seem that we have forgotten that there is indeed someone who holds our hand. He has promised to be with us. He has been and will always remain to be faithful to His Word. And when He says "I will never leave you, nor forsake you," we can be certain that that is exactly what will be.
If you were to draw a picture of God's hand, what would it look like? I remember a picture that I had seen that depicts a girl swinging joyfully in a swing that is suspended by two ropes. The ends of the ropes are draped over the finger of the Hand of God, and held between His finger and His thumb. In that picture, we see the typical illustration of the Hand of God--it is very large and strong, and it is able to easily be the security and safety of one who trusts in Him. Isn't it amazing that even as so many of us would imagine God's Hand to be large, strong and secure, that we can so often become anxious as though our lives could slip through the fingers of His mighty Hand?
There are many surprises in this life--some good, and some not so good. But perhaps some of the most pleasant surprises are those that would seem as though they should not be surprising at all. For we are often pleasantly surprised when God comes to our aid in time of need, or speaks a gentle, healing word when we are in the midst of sorrow. And we behold His timing, His touch and His tenderness and stand in awe. As well we should, but why is it we seemed surprised? For God so loves us dearly, and what He does for us out of His extraordinary love is never surprising, but simply a natural part of who He is.
As you walk your personal road today, take thought of the strong and secure Hand that is holding on to your hand, and holding on to you. His grip is not as such that you will slip through His grasp. His faithfulness is not as such that He will not remain beside you every step of the way. And none of us walk our paths alone, for He will never leave us or forsake us. Anything we face will not take God by surprise, He already knows what tomorrow holds and has already prepared our way through the days to come.

The Mighty Hand of God,
is strong enough to hold,
the worries of our everyday,
the achings of our soul.
The Mighty Hand of God,
is skilled enough to shape,
our worries and our achings,
in to wondrous cause for praise.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 07:53:57 PM
In The Scheme of All Things

    For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you (Rom.12:3).

I heard an interesting joke once that went something like this: A brother in the Lord came enthusiastically approaching his pastor, bursting with some sort of exciting news. The pastor said, "Brother, you seem so excited today. What are you so excited about?" The brother said to him, "Pastor, I believe God has spoke to me, and He has told me that I am going to be an eye!" The pastor, knowing the brother fairly well replied, "Brother, I am really sorry but I don't think that God would call you to be an eye. You just don't seem like someone who God has equipped that way. To be totally honest with you, I think God is calling you to be a foot." "A foot!" the brother exclaimed, "why there's no way God would call me to be a foot. I am certain He wants me to be an eye." The pastor thought for a moment then thoughtfully replied, "Brother, I'll tell you what, let's spend some time in prayer together and see what God tells us." The two found a quiet place to pray, and spent a good deal of time praying and asking God for wisdom and direction. Finally they finished. The Pastor then turned to the brother and asked, "So, brother, what do you think God is saying to you now?" The brother maintained the excitement as before and said, "Oh, pastor, I believe very much that God is telling me that I am called to be an eye!" The pastor then replied, "Brother, God told me that He's going to let you be an eye. But the only thing you are ever going to see is the inside of a sock."

This is a rather amusing little story, and it is a great illustration (though exaggerated somewhat), of some of what might occur as we seek God's calling on our lives.
Most of us really want to know what special calling God has placed on us. We pray and seek and search to gain understanding as to what place God has perfectly made us to fit--our niche--if you will.
We as humans need to know that our lives have purpose, and we as Christians know that that purpose must be found in Christ. But let's face it, finding that purpose is no easy task. Too many things can distract us from where we should be for one reason or another. One thing is when we try to find our niche for life tomorrow, when God wants to reveal His purpose for us today. His will for our today may not be His will for our tomorrow. If He calls one of us to be a Preacher for our today, and a cab driver for our tomorrow, what is that to us? Our responsibility is to be within His will whatever that may be.
We discredit God and ourselves when we strive for a path other that the one He has chosen for us. We discredit ourselves by trying to force ourselves to do something we're just not cut out for. The end result is that we make ourselves miserable, trying to fit a mold of what we think we should be to be one thing, when we just need to be what God made us to be. We discredit God by not trusting that what He made us to be is what is best--for us and for the body of Christ. Our place of joy and contentment is only within God's divine purpose for each of us.
Remember that a body with 50,000 eyes can probably see just about everything that goes on around it. Yet, without the feet, the body cannot go to what it sees. And without the hands, the body cannot do anything that it sees needs done.

    But how hath God set the members, everyone of them, in the body, as it hath pleased him (1 Cor.12:18).

    Read 1 Cor. 12


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 07:54:35 PM
Spiritual Sight

    For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).

How many times have you heard someone say, "I just wish that God would send an angel," or "I wish God would tell me what to do so I can hear it." These wishes are generally joined with, "If only." As in, "If only He would. . .then I could." He might respond with, "I have shown you that you could, now if only you would."

The trouble that comes from this is that we are trying to force our spiritual nature to be guided by the physical. However, we must remember that we have been born again (Jn.3:3), and now must learn how to walk, hear and see all over. When we were born in the flesh, we had to learn how to see and understand what we were looking at with eyes of flesh. We had to learn how to hear and discern one sound from another. We had to learn how to crawl, walk and run.

Being  born again in the Spirit, we must realize that we cannot make our spiritual selves respond to our environment the way our physical selves do. If our spirits are to mature in the Lord, then our spiritual selves must take the appropriate steps to learn how to live in the spiritual realm. It is God's desire that we walk in the Spirit. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25).  God may accommodate us with an occasional audible word, or some sort of sign. Yet that is not generally how He works. After all, He is trying to help us to learn to walk in the Spirit. So why would He guide us entirely in the flesh. Sure, He uses things around us to help us see His direction for us. Yet we are not to become dependent on those things around us.

In our desires to know and follow God, we must be willing to let go of what our physical world would tell us, and learn to experience life in the spiritual. We must let go of the "if only's" and stop seeking an angel, or an audible word or sign. In so doing we can further surrender what we perceive with physical eyes, and learn to see through spiritual eyes--to see things more like God sees them.

    A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign" (Mt. 16:4).

    "[There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Rom.8:1).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 07:55:05 PM
Stolen Joy

    Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance (Psalms 42:5).

The best way to lose control of your life is to try to control it. Take those people for instance, who seem to have it all together. Their lives are often wound tightly around a schedule that permits little flexibility. Sure, everything seems to be in order. But let one of the balls they're juggling fall, and the rest are likely to follow.

It often takes so much of our concentration to keep our lives going.  This may not seem so bad at first, but, if you are like me, it is so easy to take on more than we should.  This often results in added stress, over-tiredness and unneeded worry.

It is often said that worry is sin, so as Christians we do not like to admit when we worry. We may instead call it "concern."  Is it a concern that seems to occupy most of my thinking? Is it concern when it is something I can't seem to get out of my head? Maybe it is something that makes it hard for me to concentrate on other things in my life, or maybe something that keeps me up at night.  Is that concern?  Call it what you want--worry, concern--it doesn't really matter. The fact is, the very things we seek to control soon find a way of controlling us.

Jesus said, "Take therefore no thought for tomorrow: for tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof (Matthew 6:34). Christ knew how easily we can get caught up in the cares of this life. And He knew how easily the cares of this life could steal our joy, and how they could impact our Christian walk [. . .and the care of this age, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful (Mt.13:22)].

Galatians 5:22 tells us that one of the fruits of the Spirit is joy. Jesus' desire was that His joy might remain in us, and that our joy would be full (John 15:11). It is something that He intended us to know in this life, and it is something we can know--Real Joy! But that joy will not come as long as we harbor undue concern over things we have no control over--things that only God should be entrusted with.

Do you, as David, ever find yourself asking "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me?" At the root of a downcast heart there is often a worry harbored. It is then we should tell our "soul" even as David did, "Hope thou in God."


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 07:55:45 PM
The Controlling Factor

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. . . (Gal.5:22-23).

A while back I was listening to a sermon of Chuck Swindol's in which I heard a very liberating remark. He was discussing personality and personality traits, and he said something to the effect that certain traits are a part of who we are, but we don't have to let those characteristics control us.

I tend to be somewhat melancholy and have my occasional mood swings which accompany such a temperament. God used Chuck's words to speak greatly to me. I realized that I did not have to try to change my temperament, but that I could learn how to control it.

It is kind of a funny thing when you gain a new understanding of yourself. Being able to say, "Yes, I am moody sometimes" and to be accepting of that; while at the same time saying, "But, I don't have to let my moods control me." This somehow gives us back the control we need over our own temperament. Because, when the mood begins to swing, I can recognize it and keep that in mind when all the depressing thoughts and pity trips try to take hold. I can then say to myself, "This is not really what I think, it is just how I feel today because of my mood." Being able to recognize that, now enables me to turn to God and say, "Lord, I am not in the best of moods today. Please help me to keep a level head and see things through your wisdom. Please strengthen me and take control of my day so it goes the way You want it to."

Since the day I realized I could be moody with out losing my cool, God has been there with me to help me see reality in the midst of my melancholy. He has softly encouraged me and graciously challenged my irrational thinking, telling me with love, "You know that's not how it is, the way you feel today is causing you to exaggerate things."

All of us have times when our emotions tend to get the best of us. We exaggerate someone's actions toward us or distort the severity of our circumstances. But God did not give His children up to be controlled by life, instead He has given strength through Himself for our life to be controlled.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 07:56:28 PM
Frantic Times

    The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray (1 Peter 4:7).

Do frantic times call for more frantic measures? One would think so to objectively observe the world around us. Everyone seems to be running from one thing to the next, trying to find life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But happiness today seems greatly defined by immediate and temporary happen-stance, rather than by what is lasting.
Our culture seems to be in a frenzy, with little real direction. With everyone so self-absorbed, looking out for "number one" and "all they can get out of life, " there seems to be little exercise of any real self-control. Sex scandals rock the Whitehouse. Evangelists are caught lining their pockets with church funds. Community no longer means coming together as much as it means living in a neighborhood full of people hiding out behind locked doors and privacy fences, protecting (with lethal force at times) what's theirs materialistically. The "WELCOME" mat has been withdrawn, at least in spirit, if not literally.
Just about anyone you talk to will readily agree that our society is heading for a fall. We are plagued by a mentality that lives for today--ignoring the ramifications we will have to face tomorrow. The deficit climbs and we hold our collective breath as we watch the ups and downs of the stock market. For we know it is only a matter of time before the economy comes crashing in on itself.
Peter gives us some good advice as we approach "the end of all things." He tells us to "be clear minded and self-controlled" so that we can pray. It is imperative that we as Christians keep our heads in the days to come, so that we can be lifting a fallen people up to God. Otherwise, we will be facing the frantic times just as anyone who does not know God. We will be depending on ourselves, our own strength and our own abilities to get us through. And like the rest of the world, we will only be concerned for our own, rather than praying for all. And like the rest we will be shaken by the circumstances of our day.

Here's the exhortation, the strong encouragement for us all: We must prepare ourselves for what is to come. Again I repeat Peter's words, "be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray." We need to pull our attentions off of the "worries of this life" (Mt.13:23), and focus on God. He is the only Rock, and sure foundation. He is the only unchanging place where we will find true security. Many of us have placed our future security in money, retirement funds or social securities. Yet the economy of this country is fluctuating like the thoughts of it's people. And it will not last.
We must see that in these final days as the end approaches, that we must place our trust completely in God alone. We must realize that when the market crashes and money is scarce, their will be thousands of people who will take their own lives. Many of which will be church going Christians who were unfortunate enough to see no way to go on without a job or and income or their financial future.
There is a day coming that will shake the very foundations of our way of life. But there is a God who will not be moved. And if we are truly hanging on to Him, looking Him steadfastly in His eyes, while all else crumbles around us--we will not be moved either. But we will remain standing with the hope and assurance we have in Christ our Lord. And we will survive the crumbling world around us by knowing that God is with us--even if we have nothing else.

    The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray (1 Peter 4:7).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 07:57:03 PM
Weighing What's Important

    Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun (Eccl.2:11,NIV).

When all is said and done, what will we have to show for our lives? How much time do we spend on things that will only be a part of this life, and not on things that have eternal impact? We are all too often a busy and distracted people. We run from one thing to the next, but to what end? Jesus said, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul?" (Mt.16:26).
Solomon, in all his wisdom, chased after things of this life that were fading and, in the end, fruitless.  He lived the life of a king who did not deny himself any pleasure he desired.  He had it all, yet came up feeling as though he had nothing.
How many times have you worked so hard for something that once you attained it, you realized it wasn't all you thought it would be?  How much time did you spend in pursuit of it?
One of the hardest things to do at times has been to put aside whatever important task I had to complete so that I could give my attention to someone who needed to talk, or had a question, or just wanted to visit.  But I cannot remember one time where I did not feel extremely blessed by doing so.  It has always been worth it to put aside some thing for some one, and trust that God would give me the time I needed to get  all the little things done.
It is so easy to get wrapped up and focused on where we are headed that we forget about what we are leaving behind. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He replied, love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love others as yourself.   The time and love invested in another person is something that carries eternal effects.
Perhaps you have heard someone say that when a person is on his deathbed, it is not his material possessions that he requests be brought to him.  Instead, it is that his family be gathered together.  So that in a his final moments, he can be looking into the eyes of what mattered most.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 07:57:44 PM
Even As You Have Done

    And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me (Mt.25:40).

One of the most stirring and convicting scriptures I have ever encountered is Matthew 25:40. Jesus' words, "as ye have done unto one of the least of these. . .ye have done unto me," to be honest, are quite haunting words. They are the words that it sometimes takes to shake me out of a numb complacency. They are the words it sometimes takes to remind me how important it is to Christ how we treat other people.
In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus is speaking concerning the treatment of others and how we respond to their needs. It does not seem that He is speaking to us in regard only to the others in our lives that are close to us, or those with whom we associate. When He says "one of the least of these," it does not seem that He is limiting us to people we work with, go to church with or live next-door to. In fact, you might agree that Jesus' use of the words, "one of the least of these" does not exclude, but instead includes every person with whom we have any form of contact.
What does He say about the "least of these"? He tells us that as we have done to them we have done it to Jesus Himself. That's not the easiest thought to swallow. I guess that would mean that if I treat someone poorly, it is as if I am doing it to Christ. So every time I break a promise to someone, I am breaking a promise to Him. If I am grumpy, and snap at my family--I am snapping at Him. If I talk about someone behind his or her back, it is as though I am doing it to Him. If I pass a person by who is in need, it is as though I have chosen to pass Jesus by.
It's much easier to detach people from God so that I can easily excuse my behavior toward them. For if I can somehow rationalize, and make myself believe that another person deserved how I acted toward them, then I can rest a little easier. But let my every word and action toward another be as if toward Christ--somehow I quickly run out of reasons and discover that my behavior is just plain wrong. An example that comes to mind is how I can easily get agitated while driving. Just let someone cut me off or go to slow or some other horrible crime against me, and watch out. They won't hear me through my rolled up windows but chances are I'm giving them an ear full. That is a time that I know I need to hear those haunting words, "Inasmuch as ye have done unto the least of these. . ."
There is an upside however, that is that even as we do good to someone else, it is also unto Christ. Just as the thought of doing bad to Christ should motivate us away from doing bad to another; the thought of doing good to Christ should motivate us to do good to others. If we say we love Christ, then one of the best ways we can demonstrate that love for Him is by loving others.
If I saw Jesus talking with a group of people on the street, what would my first impulse be? Would I want to run to Him and be near Him? Would I be interested in hearing what He has to say? Would I want to spend time with Him? Many of us would answer yes to those questions. But put Jesus in someone else's body and what happens? How do we respond now? If we were to run to Jesus and not to the someone else, then perhaps we are more of a fan than a follower.
We run to Christ to find His love--we find His love to run to others.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 07:59:39 PM
Giving It Back

    Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).

There is a wonderful little story God once gave to me. I like to share it from time to time, hoping it will mean as much to others as it has to me. It goes something like this:
There was a man who had two young sons whom he loved very much. His sons loved him in return and were proud to have him as their father. One day the father brought home a large bag filled with construction paper, glue, markers and such. The boys watched with anticipation as their father emptied the contents of the bag onto the floor, and began to divide what he had into two equal piles. He then told the boys to take the things that he had given them. Each son gratefully took what was given him and went to his own place.
One son, looking at what he had and being moved by his father's loving gesture, took what he had and thoughtfully divided it into ten equal piles. He then took the first pile and went in to his father. "Daddy," he said, "thanks for what you gave me, I really like it." He continued, "Here." As he gave a portion back to his father, "this is for you," he said. His father was very pleased, and smiled warmly at his son. "I love you daddy," the boy said. "I love you too," his father replied. Then the boy went on his way to cut and paste and create something nice for himself out of the nine piles that remained.
The second son took what he had been given and began to cut and paste, draw and color to create his own little masterpiece. He worked long and hard and when he was finished, he took what he had made and went in to his father. "Daddy," the boy said, "this is for you." He then gave his father a big hug and told him that he loved him, and quickly darted back off to his room. The father smiled as he looked at his son, for He loved them both dearly.
When God gave me this story it had a message attached. Both sons pleased the father, but one did a more excellent thing. The first son saw what he had and returned a tenth of it to God, just as he had received it. Yet the second son took all his father had given, made something wonderful out of it and then gave it back to his father.
We are given a lot throughout our lives (which we can easily see when our eyes stop searching for what we still want). Jesus tells us, "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required (Lk.12:48).
I think it a noble thing that God's children dutifully give a tenth of their income to the church. I think it a sad thing when that is where our giving stops. But I think it is a more wonderful thing that a child of God would take what God gives, make something wonderful of it, and then give it all back to Him in sacrificial love, worship and praise. Just so I am not misunderstood--I do not refer to money alone. Money is not the sum total of who we are. We have much more God has given us, and much more to gain. God has given us a life that will have as many years on this earth as He allows. Our greatest love offering to Him would be to take that life, make something wonderful out of it (designed especially for Him), and give it back.

    For all [they] did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, [even] all her living (Mark 12:44).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:00:13 PM
Our Daily Manna

    So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it (Isaiah 55:11).

    For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

The Word of God--it is our manna in the wilderness. It is our daily bread-the provision of God to meet our needs. And yet so often His Word sits on a shelf untouched. Perhaps we do not realize just how vital the Word of God is to our life. It is our life, but do we really believe that? Do we really understand just how important His Word is to us?
As a parent, I am like so many others who try to do my best to provide for my family. In truth, it is God who provides, I just try to take what He gives though my occupation and pass it along to them. When I think of my family's health, I know it is important that we have good food on the table and that growing kids get plenty of the right things to eat. With that, I would not think of ignoring their needs and letting them go hungry. But as important as their physical needs are, how do their spiritual needs compare? Do I give as much attention to ensuring they are getting plenty of spiritual food they need to grow in Christ?
As we eat food, it is not the process of eating that keeps us alive, but the unseen processes within us as the nutrients are broken down and distributed throughout the body. As we take in the spiritual food-the Word of God-it is the unseen processes that feed us, strengthen us, and transform us into the likeness of Jesus. But just like with physical food, we cannot grow and be healthy if we do not eat. We need God's manna.
When the Israelites were in the wilderness and ate the manna from heaven, they grew tired of it day after day. Perhaps they had already prepared it every way they could imagine-manna-k-bobs, manna potpie, manna flambé... And in time, they got fed up with manna. They grumbled and they groaned. But it was not their diets that needed changed, but their attitudes. God had provided what they needed and they turned their noses up in protest.
How ungrateful, right? And yet it begs the question: How often do we complain about what God provides? Do we sometimes need an attitude adjustment when we think that reading God's Word is too difficult or too dull? Or how often do we listen to a preacher and think somehow that it is his fault that we get nothing from a sermon, or that it put us to sleep, or is too dry, or…you get the picture.
God promises to provide, and He does. He provides through many ways but not all of them are going to look just like what we think they should. I guess it is all in how you look at things. Do we gratefully accept the provision of God's Word just as He gives it, and do we understand how important it is to our lives? Or do we live a life where we expect preachers to spoon-feed us, or God to make us happy and therewith forget our responsibility to gather the manna He has sent? We spend a significant amount of time each day preparing meals and feeding our physical bodies. Imagine how God could transform our lives if we gave that kind of time and attention to feeding from His Word every day. We would be amazed just how much of a difference it would make.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:00:52 PM
Quiet Time Killers

    . . .let us throw off everything that hinders (Heb.12:1b).

There are a number of things that can quickly quench a quiet time: sin, self-centeredness and unresolved differences with another person, to name a few. And though these hindrances must be dealt with, they are far less subtle than what hinders us perhaps the most.
What calls us to be with the Lord daily? Is it our religious duty, our Christian obligation or responsibility? Is it because if we do not, we feel guilty or maybe that we just don't feel quite right throughout a day that we miss our morning Bible time? If it is any of these, we may quickly find that our time we have scheduled for God has become a dull, dry drudgery.
Many times throughout scripture, God calls His people to BE with Him. The whole purpose of Christ's coming was to provide a way for us to be "reconciled" to the Father. The context of scripture repeatedly uses language that conveys to us the message that God wants a relationship with each and everyone of us. So why do we persist to chain ourselves to ritual and religious acts.
Don't get me wrong, I by no means condone a lifestyle free of prayer and Bible study. And that is not God's will for us. But it is no more His will for us to pray and read, read and pray so that we can fulfill our Christian obligations. He wants us to experience Him through reading His word, and through communicating with Him in prayer.
So why then do we regulate the life out of the relationship? Let's face it--how many other relationships do we have where we get together with someone and say:

    "OK, here's the plan: We will get together everyday at the same time for twenty to thirty minutes. It must be before everything else I have to do so that my priorities are right (no matter how awake I am). While were together, we will follow a set procedure that I think will be sufficient to cover all the business that needs attention. When I talk to you, I will use specific steps so that I don't forget something. We will need to meet in the same place everyday so it will become a habit, thereby making it easier as time goes by. . ."

How would you feel if you were the second party involved in this relationship? If I was having someone telling me about a schedule like this, I would probably be thinking, "Oh joy--I just can't wait to get started." I'm not trying to sound critical of the efforts so many of us make to have a meaningful quiet time. I'm sure God appreciates the effort. But can you imagine anticipating the time that you are going to be with someone you love, and then when you get together they already have your whole time together planned out--and that's the way they intend your time be together every time you are together. It seems to me that we try so hard to have time with God and to make it a habit, that we forget to show Him the consideration we would show anyone else by simply asking, "What would you like to do today?"
We need our time with God each day. But we must remember we are not sitting down "to do the bills," we are sitting down to be with a person. We are spending time building a relationship, not meeting righteous duty or religious obligation.

    Now it came to pass, as they went, that he [Jesus] entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her (Luke 10:38-42).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:01:30 PM
Follow Thou Me

    Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following. . .Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what [shall] this man [do]? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what [is that] to thee? follow thou me (Jn.21:20-22).

I have two children, and with them, the joys and headaches that are a very real part of parenthood. As I watch them, I am still amazed by their persistent worry over the concerns of the other. One of them seems to always be worried about what the other is doing, or saying, or getting that may in some way not be fair to his or her self. The concern is generally selfishly motivated and seldom bears two-way thinking. That is to say, they each concern themselves when the other is not doing what they have been told to do, yet they do not readily become concerned over their own wrong doing.
While that seems like something that we all are very aware of already, we (just as children) often still do not apply such ideas to ourselves. We sometimes observe the acts of others and quickly begin to question and criticize. This comes very natural to us. After all, we have been practicing such biased evaluations since we were tiny children.
What comes to mind here is probably summed up in the word, "judging." And though we know we are not to sit in critical judgment of others, and are not to stand around questioning, "what shall this man do?" this is not where our focus shall be at this time. For we are aware that we are to, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment"  (John 7:24).  If each of us are honest with ourselves and were to request of God to, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts" (Psalms 139:23), I believe we would be able to sense in our spirit whether our judgment is righteous, being for the sake of another; or whether it is a critical, self-motivated judgment.

Peter questioned what God would do with John. He may have been coveting what God would do with John, envious of what seemed to him a better "hand being dealt" to John. Or perhaps he felt that what God gave himself to do would be tedious and trying, somehow feeling unfairly treated compared to John. Maybe Peter was just curious. Nevertheless, Jesus' response was "If I will that he tarry till I come, what [is that] to thee? follow thou me."
Each of us have an individual relationship with Christ. Each relationship is developed within, and based upon, our uniqueness in Christ. To try to make your relationship with God be a mirror of someone else's relationship with God, is to try to force it into a mold it was not designed to fit. You can no more have that exact same relationship as you can actually be that other person. To try and do so is to kill some of the living characteristics that makes what you alone have with God unique.

The only way we can experience God's power, love and design for our lives is to follow the path He has given us uniquely. God doesn't want us to try to be spiritual giants, He just wants us to faithfully and fully follow him. What that means for me may appear very different than what it means for you, yet it means that all of us are to be obedient to God's personal, and unique call on our lives.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:02:09 PM
Afraid of the Water

    But Jesus immediately said to them; "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
    "Lord if it is you," Peter replied. "tell me to come to you on the water."
    "Come," he said.
    Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, cried out. "Lord, save me!"
    Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" (Mt.14:27-31).

I remember one summer when we and some of our friends had rented a pontoon boat during a weekend camping trip. At some point of our boat trip, we had stopped and the kids all wanted to go for a swim. Being that we were away from the shore, the water where we were at was well over their heads. But we had secured each in a life-vest to ensure they would bob rather than sink.
While the other children were swimming around, my daughter was content to remain next to the boat, holding tightly to the railing at the rear of the boat. We encouraged her to let go, ensuring her she would not sink. But there was no convincing her. She was placing more trust in the boat railing than the life-vest.
Finally we tried to help her move away from the boat so she could see there was nothing to be afraid of. A friend tried and then I tried, but to no avail. I kneeled at the rear of the boat, gave her my arm, and slowly tried to move her away from the boat. I wanted to let her trust in the life-vest develop like it needed to--gradually. Yet no matter how hard I tried or how much I tried to convince her that she had nothing to be afraid of, she tensed in fear anytime she even let go of the boat. And she refused to believe that she was safe; even while I was assuring her, "You don't have to worry. I love you, and I will not let you sink."

Jesus said, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:11). What strikes me about this is that no matter how much I love my daughter, my heavenly Father loves all of us far more. And just as I would not let my child sink below the water, our heavenly Father will not let us sink--He loves us far too much.

You may be thinking, "But what about the terrible things that happen all around us. Where is God in that?" I would love to be able to answer that for you. But I cannot convince you that your life-vest is secure. And I must face the fact that no matter how much I encourage you, and tell you that God will not let you sink, only you can turn loose of whatever it is you are hanging on to that keeps you from fully putting your faith in God.

We first must keep in mind that He loves us more than we will ever know; and with greater love than a parent has for a child. And even though he may sometimes ask us, "Where is your faith?" He will reach out to us, and provide us His hand of security so that in the midst of the storm, we will not sink.

Look at the verse at the top of the page again, and read only Jesus words (which should be in red).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:02:43 PM
Rescuers

    But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me (Mt.14:30).

"Grab my hand!" a man shouts into the storm, reaching his hand toward a stranger who happened to share the same misfortune as himself. The ship that had carried them through the ocean waters was now no where to be seen. The waters roared with great force, and the wind blown spray made it difficult for either to see his outstretched hand. The man desperately crawled through the rocking waves, closer and closer to one who could help. And finally drawing close enough, he threw his arm toward his hope and felt the strong grip of a stranger's hand enclose around his wrist. The rescuer then pulled the man toward him, and placed his hand securely on the protruding rock which stood above the beating waves.

There is little doubt that our lives will have storms. In the midst of which, we often feel frightened and alone. But there are many who are tossed--and some who are lost. And though our storms may gnaw at us to claim our attention, there is a stronghold that stands high above the threats of life. Jesus is the Rock of our security.
But now let's look at the third party--the rescuer. He is one who is in the storm too. He is faced with the same threats and should he panic and lose his grip, he too will suffer the terror of the rocking waves. In that event, he will not be there to reach out his hand to draw in a stranger, a friend, or even a family member. Because as soon as he loses his grip, his thoughts turn inward--thinking how to survive. But should he keep in mind that he is now safe because he is on the Rock, then his eyes turn outward to help draw others in.
The rescuer is one who has found confidence outside of himself. And because of that, he can be an instrument of God's hand to help others find the same confidence in Christ.

In life, we are faced with many trials and troubles. Yet, how we face them can be an example to the world of whom we place our confidence in. If we place it in ourselves, then we will be tossed to and fro like the rest. But if we place that confidence in Christ, then we become the lighthouse on the Rock--drawing people to their only true security.

    Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good
    works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Mt.5:14-16)

On this Valentine's day let's remember that we love others when their best interest is at heart--rather than our own skins.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:04:04 PM
The Never-ending Prayer

    Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Many a person has pondered the practicality of this puzzling verse. I've heard people ask, "How is anyone supposed to pray like that?" This would be impossible if it meant that we were to be on our knees with head bowed and eyes closed 24 hours a day. I think therefore it is safe to say that this is not what Paul was saying. He simply meant that we should maintain a prayerful attitude with the Father throughout the day.
We can do this very simply. We begin our day by waking up and telling God "good morning," and we end our day by telling God "good night." And the time in between we spend in communication with Him as we go. We do things like invite Him along with us to work or school, and to the things after work or school or wherever it is we have to go. We tell Him our thoughts and we ask Him for His. We ask Him for help and we offer to do whatever He would have us to. We talk to Him, sing to Him, and even walk hand in Hand with Him as we go through the day remembering that He is right there with us all along. It's kind of like if there is someone who goes everywhere with you in a day--you tend to communicate with that person as you go. We simply extend God the same courtesy. But we keep in mind that with Him it's a deep, meaningful part of our relationship to Him.
Jesus stayed in a constant communication with the Father. Yet, He was in the practice of getting alone with Him to have a focused, and isolated time with the Father--a time that was free of the distractions of the day. It is necessary for us to be with God throughout the day, but it is also necessary for us to get alone with Him. It's hard to talk seriously with anyone unless you are able to get away to a private place. Then you can more fully focus on whom you are with.
The Lord is with us all day, try keeping that in mind and see if it helps to keep a prayerful attitude all day long. Something else that might help is to stop saying "Amen." The word "amen" means "so be it." But for Christians these days it has become the period to the prayer sentence. It marks the end of our prayer time with God, which usually precedes us going on about business as usual. If "amen" becomes the closing statement that caps off our time with God, then perhaps we should try not saying it. It seems a bit awkward when you don't say it. But what it does do is leave our prayer with loose ends, which means that it goes lingering on throughout our day. Try it yourself. Pray to God without your usual closing remarks and see how hard it is not to. Then watch and see how it effects your day to have a conversation with God that does not end.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:04:42 PM
The Mainstream

    All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6).

Have you ever sat along side a swiftly flowing river to watch the waters move. You can fix your eyes on a stick and follow it with your eyes as it passes then eventually fades from sight. Fix your eyes on the floating object long enough and you may notice that it seems as though the object and the water move as one, and everything on the shores become a blur.
But put yourself in the stick's place. You happened to have sort of fallen into the place you are now. You're going with the flow, following the currents for the time. After a while you don't really notice the speed you are moving. In fact, it doesn't really seem that you're moving that fast at all. When you first started moving, you noticed the shoreline becoming a blur. But now, you hardly notice the shore at all. It's easier to watch as another stick seems to be catching up to you or passing you by.
I recently found myself concerned as one of my children was wowed by a musical group that has recently grown to fame. I really didn't know that much about the group and I was not too sure of their values and beliefs. But I did know that they were mainstream, and this disturbed me. Why? Because I know how entrancing the things in the mainstream can be, and I know how distracting they can become. Things in the mainstream are often wondrous, causing onlookers to wonder where they came from and where they are headed. Things in the mainstream always seem like they're going somewhere while someone on the sidelines may feel like he is not going anywhere. The mainstream is attractive and tempting, and has claimed many souls who have jumped in--who lose focus on the reality of stable shorelines.
In the day in which we live, we must be very careful that we are not taken in by the false promises of a fading existence. Jesus warned, "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they
shall deceive the very elect" (Matthew 24:24). We live in an age full of self-flattering ideologies and self indulgent philosophies. It would be real easy to be taken in by the enticing mainstream currents of our day. Yet Christ warns us so that we will not be deceived--so that we will not be taken in by the false teachings to lose our sight of reality as it blurs into the background.
In 1 John 2:15 we are instructed, "Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." What is it that we love of this world? What thing in our lives can we think of that might suck us into the current and lose sight on God's purpose for our lives? It could be any of a number of things: money, career, fame, love, romance, sports, material possessions. . . ("For after all these things do the Gentiles seek" (Matthew 6:32)).
The thing of significance about the mainstream is this: though we do not all get into the stream at the same place, as long as we remain in it we will end up in the same place as everyone else therein.

    Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:13-14).

Something to think about: How much does mainstream Christianity resemble mainstream society? If you were to list the differences, how long would it take?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:05:15 PM
To Tell The Truth
Read James 3:1-12

    Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ (Eph. 4:15).

I once knew a well intended Christian who went to a sister in Christ to offer instruction on the error of her way. There was little doubt that the sister in question was caught up in activities that were harmful as well as sinful. The unfortunate end, however, to the unsolicited counsel was that the sister felt judged, scorned and humiliated. While it is true she may have felt that way no matter how she was approached; it is also true that the well intended Christian may have done well to administer the truth in love, rather than in accusation.
There is a song by Michael Card called, "The Final Word." One of the lines in the song states, "You and me we use so very many clumsy words, the noise of what we often say is not worth being heard." The Bible has a lot to say about the lot we say:

    "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise" (Prov.10:19).
    "The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment" (Prov.10:21).
    "With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous escape" (Prov.11:9).
    "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" (Prov.12:18).
    "He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin" (Prov.13:3).
    "A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even tempered" (Prov.17:27).
    "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue" (Prov.17:28).

Our words are powerful. They can be used to encourage and edify, or they can be used to attack and humiliate. We often forget the power of the spoken word, and are all too often careless with what is said. Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:36, "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." He also said, "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man" (Matthew 15:11).
With every spoken word comes a great responsibility in the administration of a word. This is not to make us overly anxious, or overly self conscious. But it is to make us take care in what comes out of our mouths, that our mouths become nurturing rivers of life, and not loose cannons. Pray today that God will teach you about the power of a word, and that He will help you to speak with wisdom, restraint and grace.

    Pleasant words are a honey comb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Prov.16:24).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:05:47 PM
The Greatest Commandments

    And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments [is], Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment. And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these (Mk.12:29-31).

You know the story of the ugly duckling. How all the ducks basically thought that the baby swan was actually supposed to be a duck. And how for a duckling it was sure not to win any beauty contest. Yet, no one knew the potential beauty of the baby swan because they all looked at what they thought it to be, or what they thought it should be--overlooking what it truly was. But as the swan grew their harsh words were quieted, as they beheld  the baby that grew to be the most beautiful creature of them all.

Though this is what we would call a child's story, it is one that bears repeating. The principle is one that we find ourselves having to be reminded of often. It seems that no matter how old we get, we will in some way be affected by preferential treatment--whether giving it, receiving it or being excluded due to it (see James 2:1-9).

In James 2, James is surprisingly addressing the church when he discusses preferential treatment that was taking place. For we consider church to be the one place that anyone should be able to be loved and accepted and received. The only exception to being accepted and received are those who continue willfully disobeying God. They are to be loved, but they are supposed to be dealt with as well (see Gal.6:1; Mt.18:15-17). Could it be, however, that the people who are not accepted are the ones who are not accepted outwardly? Maybe they dress differently, talk or act differently. Maybe it's someone who's personality rubs hard against the comfort levels of others. It may be someone with a heart of gold, but they smell bad, or are ugly or. . . you fill in the blank.

I attended a church where there was one couple that did not have a car and were always calling the church to ask for someone to come and get them. What a tragedy that many of the members complained about them and made light of them behind the couple's back. The couple were very nice, but did not manage to be the kind of people others wanted to be around. They have since left that church. No matter how different people are, it seems most can figure out when they're not wanted.

Jesus said, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12). He also said, ". . .Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me" (Mt.25:40). Our response to all people should be without preferential treatment--and we should bear in mind that Christ takes our treatment of others very personally.

    For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. . .We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death. . . Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren. . .My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. . .And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:06:20 PM
Beneath the Surface

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law (Gal.5:22-23).

You have heard the old saying, "A watched pot never boils." Few of us would sit still long enough to watch the water come to a boil after we have just turned on the heat. But we know that as the heat is applied that the pot will get hot. And we know that as the pot gets hot, the water will eventually boil. Few of us show any concern as to the whole process, we are just watching for the bubbles on the surface.
In Matthew 12:33, Jesus tells us that a tree is known by it's fruit. The fruit is evidence of what is happening on the inside of the tree. Bad fruit indicates a problem in the tree. But perhaps only some of the fruit is bad--perhaps only on one branch. What do you do? You prune the tree so that the bad is removed and the good is nourished.
Have you ever been around someone who's pot is boiling over. Maybe it was someone close to you who one day just blew up at you for no apparent reason. Maybe this someone seemed hateful, snotty or rude, or made some sort of hurtful remark. Whatever it was--it was some pretty rotten fruit.
Now maybe this person was a Christian brother or sister and what he/she did seemed completely out of character. What do we do about it? Our natural reaction is often to throw up the walls of defense. This person snaps at me for no reason so naturally I snap back. Now who's fruit is bad? This other person may have something deep beneath his behavior or maybe just a bad day, but what about me? I may have been having a great day, but "There's no way I'll put up with someone treating me like that--how dare he!"
It seems that just like with a pot of boiling water, we only respond to the bubbles. The fact that there is a lot of heat beneath the bubbles does not seem to interest us. And instead of doing something to reduce the heat--we often add fuel to the fire.
Good people sometimes treat you poorly. A response with spiritual fruits (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance) rather than a hasty retaliation, can go a long way to reducing the heat a person is feeling from what's beneath the surface. We do not respond by overlooking their behavior, but by underlooking it. That is to say, we recognize the behavior as the bubbles on the surface of a deeper problem. We can then see more clearly to help them find the cause, and with the love of God, help the person to deal with it.
If someone has treated you poorly, consider what's beneath his/her actions. Maybe it's just a bad day or maybe worse, but it's not likely to be that he/she is treating you badly just for kicks. Take yourself out of the picture and find a way to pray for the person, love him/her, and minister to him/her to help them through the process.

    Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye (Luke 6:42).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:06:59 PM
The Easy Way

    Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'" (Matthew 4:4).

When tempted with the quick solution, where do we turn? We know that the solution that is the easiest is seldom the best. Jesus, though faced with great hunger, could have easily turned the rocks in the desert into bread--providing for himself more than plenty to eat. He chose however to look to God for his solution, instead of the obviously easy out.
Our choices in life have lasting effects as we well know. But what we do with what we have already done, remains to be the next choice. We often opt for the easy way only to find ourselves stuck between the proverbial rock and the hard place. This due to turning to our own solution rather than the one God would lead us to. If we would trust Him in the first place, we would not find ourselves in such a way. Yet, we jump at the quick remedy and then ask God to "bless" what we have done--whether we have bungled it or not.
Although it seems harmless enough that Christ would turn the stones to bread, He looked beyond His present circumstance to a more lasting situation. He could have said to himself, "The Father won't mind if I turn the stones to bread. After all, I am hungry and I have the ability to do it--what harm could there be in that? There's no one else here to see and besides, whether I do this or not, it's not like it's going to hurt anyone."
But Christ chose to look beyond himself and determine what God would make of the situation. He determined that taking the easy way was in effect going to put God to a test. The devil tried to get Jesus to use God's power in a selfish manner to do something outside of the will of God, this so he (Jesus) could get what he needed quickly. Had Jesus not seen through the deceit, he might have succumbed to temptation and in so doing would have destroyed his ability to become the unblemished sacrificial Lamb who would take away the sins of the world. Jesus would have been like Esau who sold his birthright for a bowl of soup.
Obeying our lusts for quick decisions and prefabricated answers will steal away our birthrights just as Esau's decision did for him. We juggle possible solutions around in our minds using intellect, reason and common sense, then zero in on the easiest, quickest solutions that will best serve our purposes with the least amount of presumed damage. What we perhaps forget is that in all of our reasoning there are significant gaps. We do not know all of the factors, but God does. That is why we are not to live by bread alone but by every word that precedes from God's mouth. For what He has to give us is bread that brings life.
Jesus learned to trust God above himself. He did not decide that just because he was all grown up, a man, the Son of God, that he knew what was best for himself. He continued to entrust that to the Father and as a result he never sinned but remained obedient, "even to death on the cross."


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:07:36 PM
Faithful Friends

    Faithful [are] the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy [are] deceitful (Proverbs 27:6).

Have you ever found yourself caught between a need for an honest evaluation and a fear of hearing the truth? We all know that we sometimes need that outside opinion regarding some part of our lives so that we can make necessary adjustments where needed. Whether those adjustments are to a project we have been working on, or to the particular way we do something, or perhaps even to a part of our personality. We realize we are not perfect and that we need to hear and to weigh the viewpoints of another--and yet we wince at what we know we may hear that we really do not want to hear.
In the quest to be Christ-like, we cannot become serious without realizing at some point that it is necessary to have someone who will be a good enough friend to let us know when we mess up. Perhaps I have made an off-colored remark or used a harsh tone that caused someone to feel hurt. Perhaps I acted in a way that made someone else feel put down, unimportant or unappreciated. There are many ways that our actions and attitudes can easily reflect more of a selfish heart than a Christ like character.
Realizing that we do and say things without thinking, and often without noticing, it is necessary for some sort of accountability. We need someone to help us keep ourselves honest. It could be a close friend or a number of friends in whom we place the sacred trust of being our help to walk as a child of God, and not as a child of the world. It is so important that our actions are not hurtful, and that our words are not cutting. Our wrong deeds can hurt our relationship with God, with others and with self. Those wrong doings can also hinder someone coming to know Jesus.
Our love for God will lead us to love humanity, and our love for humanity will lead us to observe how we affect those around us. If we love others, then we will seek to do what is needed to prevent their harm. And because of our love for our friends, we will help them by telling them the truth they need to hear--no matter how painful it is to them or to us.

    A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17).

    A man [that hath] friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend [that] sticketh closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:08:13 PM
The Prayer Warrior

    Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16).

Picture in your mind a warrior. The warrior is one who has been trained to fight. It is one who is brave and prepared. It is one who is unafraid to give his or her life for a noble cause, or for the life of another. A warrior often returns from battle wounded in some fashion, and yet when the next battle arises the warrior is ready to do whatever is necessary to ensure a victory over the enemy.
Consider the Prayer Warrior. The unsung hero. The man or woman who battles on his or her knees to ensure the victory over the enemy. They are adorned with mercy and their weapons are grace and love. When lifting up another, they lose themselves in sight of the concerns of another. And placing themselves in the shoes of another, they weep, cry and ache with a fallen heart so that the one for whom they pray might be restored.

Intercession
 
Rain, the tapestry of night.
Darkened clouds conceal
the Light which would break through
if not for thunder's quaking bite.
And I would kneel beside the bed
of one surrounded by the storm.
To say a word of warm embrace
to shelter with a smile.
And lifting up my eyes to God,
entrust Him with the very soul
of one who knows a greater pain
than I have ever dared endured.
My deepest parts would ache
to rid this one from Satan's grip.
In time, the bloodlet tears of pain
the moans, and cries
would find refrain
as Light breaks through
to rest upon
a weary, troubled heart,
And I within my weary rest
would soon rejoice for answered prayer
to see the end of sorrows borne
by one who suffers endless rain.

I do not have the gifts that drive me to be such an intercessor for another. I do the best I can with the Love of God helping me to pray for someone else. Few times have I ached for another's ache, and fewer times are there still that I have cried for another's tears. But I am well aware that there are many brothers and sisters in the Lord who are the unseen Prayer Warriors behind much of what God does in the lives of others.
A prayer warrior would not presume to get up and preach a Sunday Sermon if they were not gifted in proclaiming the Word of God. In the same way, the rest of us must not presume that we can easily jump into the role of the prayer warrior. We need to see that there are prayer matters that need to be taken outside of our efforts alone, and placed in the hands of the gifted intercessor. We are to continue to pray, but we need also to filter the concerns through the Church so that the Prayer Warrior can do the part God has given them to do.
I once heard that Billy Graham had said that without the prayers of so many, he would never have been used to the extent that God has used him. The work that God has given us each to do is not our work but His, and it is too important to think that we can go it alone. We must be willing, therefore, to humble ourselves and ask for the prayers of support that each of us needs for God to fully accomplish His work in us.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:08:47 PM
Counter Measures

    Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly (Matthew 6:16-18).

I once heard of a man who felt as though God led him to go into topless bars and strip clubs to witness to the people there. From what I hear, people were saved as a result. While I think that is great, I must say that there are many men who would not exactly be cut out for such a job. Most men I know struggle from time to time with lust, and know that if they think they need to go into a topless club and remain sinless throughout, they might as well gouge out their eyes at the entrance.
The point is that many of us would not be called to work around an area of which we are highly susceptible to sin. In fact, we would more than likely be led to take preventative measures against the possibility of placing ourselves in such a situation. In Romans 13:14 Paul writes, "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof]."
Jesus knew humanity all too well when he addressed His followers in His sermon on the mount. He knew that the closer we get to our weaknesses the more likely we are to give in to them. Matthew 5-7 deals with many temptations that threaten to make us stumble in our spiritual walk. But Jesus not only addresses the temptations and what happens if we give in to them, He also provides us with countermeasures to further distance ourselves from those temptations.
In the passage above, Jesus tells His followers that they are not to fast in a manner as to draw attention to their righteous acts, so to be seen by men and somehow considered better by their deeds. Jesus tells them to fast in secret, keeping the righteous act between the person and God. But He doesn't stop there. He instructs them to go one step further. "But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast," Jesus explains, and in so doing provides His followers with counter measures.
The pride from the praise of men is powerfully destructive to the work of the Spirit in our lives. Jesus not only wants us to avoid calling attention to our acts, He also wants us to go out of our way to ensure that nothing draws attention to our acts. So doing would ensure that what is done is done with pure motives, with absolutely no chance of us using righteous acts as a means for self-glorification.
If you have ever stood at the edge of a high cliff and looked down, (for most of us) it is not a safe feeling. One wrong move could cause you to slip and fall over. Or have you noticed that high voltage areas have fences several yards away from the danger, so that someone does not get too close and get electrocuted. God loves us and does not want us standing to close to what is dangerous for us. He wants us to remove any chance of harm. How we do it is to put up the fence several yards away from the danger. That way if you are harmed it is because you willfully jumped the fence and not because you slipped into a danger you were not aware of.
What is the sin that besets you? What is the weakness that trips you up over and over again? You know what it is, and chances are you have already been given instruction by God as to how to place a fence between you and it. If not, then pray and find out. And once you know--build the fence.

    There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].1 Corinthians 10:13


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:09:23 PM
The God of Christian Present

    But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26).

The verse above comes from a very familiar passage of scripture. It is part of the Bible story about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and of course, what happened to Lot's wife as she looked back at the city after being warned not to.
You may wonder, as I did, why she was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back. I really don't know the answer to that one. I know God commanded Lot's family not to look back and when she did she suffered the consequences. But as to why He told them not to look back still remains a mystery which yields much speculation on the part of Bible student and theologian alike.
Although I don't know the exact "whys" and "what fors" of what happened to Lot's wife, I believe there is a very powerful lesson very well illustrated within this familiar passage. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were doomed. God had not found even ten righteous people within them. The cities were full of wickedness which means that spiritually they were already dead (For the wages of sin is death. . .Rom. 6:23). But God chose to save out from the city one family. He sent angels to rescue them from the death that the cities had brought upon themselves. Lot's family was to quickly leave before they were sucked into the death of these cities as well. As mentioned already, they were instructed not to look back. Looking back would take their eyes off of their salvation which lay ahead, and would place their eyes on their death which was to be left behind. Lot's wife no doubt looked back with a longing for her home in the city, for what she was leaving behind. Doing so kept her from being able to concentrate on her future. What she would in essence experience would be lifelessness.
This is not uncommon to us in our Christian walk. We are children of God, called out of lifelessness and into life (Jn.10:10). We are not to be guided by our past endearments but by our present salvation. Too many times we find ourselves in a situation that is difficult or uncomfortable (much like Lot's wife, leaving her home), and we begin to remember an easier time and wish it could be like that again. In so doing we can't see where God is wanting to take us because our hearts are stuck in the past.
A good example is when as Christians we remember the passion we had for God when we first came to know His salvation, then we find ourselves frustrated by our current state and wishing we could be like we once were. Though the intention is good, this can be very self-defeating. What we in turn end up doing is sitting around wanting things to be like they were, when God is wanting to move in our lives where we are.
God never promised that we would remain on our spiritual peaks. He never instructed that once we have come down, that we are to do everything we can to get back up on top of those same peaks. Those are the peaks of the past and as such, to dream for something that cannot be is lifelessness. Because as long as we do, we cannot move forward. There are new peaks, as well as valleys, for each of us to encounter. We need to stop being the child of Christian past, and be the child of Christian present because that is where God is at work.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:09:57 PM
Up Close and Personal

    For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father (Romans 8:15).
    And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father (Galatians 4:6).

There is a myth that Christ came and died on the cross so that we could go to heaven. Why do I say a myth? If I were to tell you that the reason that I breathe is so I can see my chest go in and out you might think I am a little odd. We all know that we breathe so that our bodies can take in the oxygen it needs for us to live. The fact that my chest goes in and out is a one of the results of my breathing. Now be certain I am not making light of Heaven, for I believe it to be the place of God's throne--a very wonderful and holy place. What I am saying is that when we reduce the work of Christ down to whether or not we gain the better of two ends (heaven or hell), then we rob the gospel of much of its glory.
Christ came to reconcile us to God (2 Cor.5:18), Heaven is a part of it but not the end of it. God did not save us so that we could dwell in heaven and see Him, but that we might dwell with Him and see Heaven. We seem to have somehow distorted this fact with fiery sermons of hell with no greater intention than to scare someone into Heaven. What a shame that we resort to such tactics. Is it because we don't think that a right relationship with God is something desirable to the people of this earth? We think the only way we will get them to come to God is by scaring them away from something else--essentially chasing them into His arms.
Perhaps with some people that seems to be the only way to get them to budge, otherwise it seems they would never make a decision. I must concede to this thinking due to the fact that Jesus spoke a great deal about hell. But for us to leave it there would be quite irresponsible. People need to know that Jesus did not come just to rescue from hell, but more importantly to mend our relationship with God.
Perhaps as a result of the black and white, turn or burn philosophy, there are still a lot of Christians who live under fear of God's wrath rather than living in the joy of a close relationship to Him. Christ's purpose was to bring us out from under the fear of judgment so that we may dwell with God daily in a relationship that is up close and personal.
God did not save you so He could look down on you ready to jump when you make a wrong move. He is not sitting "up there" just waiting for you to blow it. He is a loving Father who wants to see you do well in your life. He is also a loving Father who corrects His children when they do wrong--not out of some kind of vindictive anger, but out of the love of a concerned daddy.
It is the love and purpose of Christ to reconcile us unto God.  That we might have a life on this earth that is filled with fellowship with the Father--walking closely to Him daily.  With that, heaven is not seen so much as a reward or a next life, but the continuing of something wonderful in our relationship with God--carried into forever.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:10:32 PM
Even As You Are Known

    For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:3).

A pendulum swings both ways, and seems to be forever in coming to a stop in the middle. So the way we consider ourselves from one week to the next, or from one day to the next, seems always to be on one side or the other--seldom ever resting in the middle. Today I may feel good about myself in such a way that I become prideful, thinking of myself better that I really am. Tomorrow I may experience set-backs which break my spirit and cause me to feel worthless or worse as a person than I really am.
A popular mind-set of our culture seems to be to say or do anything to reason away feelings of inadequacies; to blame any personal misgivings on background, education or race. Believing that a person needs to feel good about himself/herself, our society adheres to philosophies that provide us with an arsenal of excuses rather than telling us how to take responsibility for our mistakes. The popular mind-set is to believe anything that builds a high level of self-esteem, regardless of how true it is.
While we are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, we are also not to think of ourselves more lowly. While it is true that we do not deserve what God has done for us, that does not give way to actions or words that seek to place ourselves beneath the place that God has placed us. If I proclaim to be more than I am it is a lie; and if I proclaim to be less than I am it is also a lie. As thinking more highly is pride, so thinking more lowly may be considered false humility.
We are to walk in the light of God's truth in regard to every area of our lives. That means that we are to trust God's appraisal of who we are, avoiding the appraisal of others and of self. God alone can make an accurate assessment of who we are without bias or selfish motivation.
In order for us to live lives that are content in who we are, we must know ourselves even as we are known. This helps us to keep from pride as well as from the depressing feelings of worthlessness. Seeing ourselves through God's eyes helps us to see ourselves for who we really are. It helps us to recognize our good points without becoming puffed up, and it allows us to see and recognize our flaws as well. We can then learn to find the middle ground where we are not drawn to our good and repelled by our bad. Instead we can objectively look at the whole mix of who we are and say, "God's not done with me yet."
Don't be afraid to look at your flaws, but don't let your flaws become your focus. See what's wrong, acknowledge it to God and ask Him to help you deal with it. God will help you so that you can see yourself for who you really are--in His eyes.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:11:06 PM
Trial & Error

    But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man [is] unstable in all his ways (James 1:4-8).

Through the process of growing up and gaining experience, we have learned a lot of things through trial and error. If something we do does not produce a desired result we find ways to improve upon what we have done in hopes that we will get closer to the desired result. If what we do produces the exact result we desire, then the next time we want the same result, it is more than likely that we will attempt to get the result by doing exactly as we had done before.
But what about the supernatural process? Is the way we work through the spiritual matters of our lives supposed to be handled by the same trial and error fashion? One might think so. Although as Christians we are no longer to walk by sight but by faith (2 Cor.5:7), many of us continue to walk by sight. We lead our new lives in Christ much the same as we led our old lives outside of Christ. We look for solutions to problems based on experience and trial and error. We try this or that, and if they fail to produce what we think is best, we try something else, or perhaps we find something that works and from there on out we try to make it the magic formula for whatever it seemed to work on before.
A good example might be in the way a lot of church activities are handled. If funds are needed to send youth to camp and the car wash fund raiser worked last time, then we will no doubt try it again. Or if it did not work, we will most certainly look for a different money making venture. Another example could be the way a revival is held. We try to put together the right evangelist, the right music, the right time frame and so on, to produce the desired results--decisions for Christ. We want to see something happen as a result, and when it doesn't happen as we think it should, we begin questioning what went wrong. Or if the results are as we desire, then revival might be prolonged.
We cannot truly walk by faith and by results too. God did not intend for us to live our Christian lives hit and miss, or trial and error. Instead we are intended to fix our eyes on Christ, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb.12:2). We are intended to hear God's voice and be obedient to Him, regardless of what we think we know. We must abandon everything that our experience tells us and forget the past results when it comes to complete and total obedience to God. Otherwise, our experience and past results become our masters rather than God.
What we think the results should be may be out of line with what God is doing in a given situation. To try this or that in order to get our desired results is disobedience. We need to find out what His desire is and line up with that. Then there is no discouragement and frustration with a surprise outcome. Instead there is a confidence that God was able to do as He wanted with us because we followed Him, regardless of the results.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:11:40 PM
Peaceful Resolutions

    Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil.4:6-7).

Tired and torn, once again you find yourself standing at the crossroads. Not sure of what to do, you have prayed but don't really know if God has answered, or if you are really listening. You seek the advise of friends who tell you to "pray about it," or "give it to Jesus." And while you know that is exactly what you must do, you struggle as to know how to "let go and let God."
How can I ever really give something over to God and know that I have indeed left it in His hands? This is not an easy task, but it is one that gets easier in time. It's the difference between walking on an ice-covered lake and walking on a concrete sidewalk. The first time we entrust something to God, we may experience the "I'll take it from here" syndrome. We give something to God up until we begin to feel insecure about it and then we want to jump in and take over. Our trust in God at this point is like walking on the ice, unsure of what each step might bring.
After some time of taking step after trusting step, we begin to feel much more confident--much less fearful. We begin to see that there is really nothing to be afraid of at all--like walking on the concrete sidewalk. This is because the more we trust God the easier it becomes. But we have to take that first step of faith before we can ever experience the concreteness of His faithfulness.
If you are going to walk on ice it's nice to know how thick it is. That is to say that the way you will first learn to put your trust in God is by learning what you can about Him. Find some Christian brothers and sisters whom you would describe as someone who is experiencing the peace of God in their lives. Ask them to tell you about what God has done for them. This is a witness to you of God's faithfulness and it will help you take that step in knowing who you are placing your trust in. And certainly be reading your Bible and praying--asking God to help you trust Him the way you need to. In time you will notice that it gets easier to entrust every issue of your life into His capable hands.
Here is a way that may help to measure how much we are trusting Him. When we entrust something to God we do not hold our breath until the problem is resolved, and then breathe a sigh of relief. If we have truly entrusted something to God we should feel God's peace at the moment we trusted. We REST assured that God has it under control, and that He will make us aware of any word needing said or any thing needing done. So if we say we have given it to God yet breathe the sigh of relief only after things are resolved, then we did not completely trust. But if we can say we have given it to God and then feel the worry free peace from trusting Him, then we have really begun to learn how to walk on the ice (or water) as though it were a sidewalk.

    . . .for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day (2 Timothy 1:12).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 17, 2006, 08:12:14 PM
Finding Mercy

    May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day
    (1 Tim.1:18).

Jesus tells a story of a man who owed an incredible debt to his master. A day came when the master sent to the servant and required that he should pay what he owed or suffer the consequences. As the servant owed a great amount, he knew there was no way that he could pay his master, so he pleaded with his master to forgive him of his debt. The master took pity on the servant, and forgave him all that he owed and let him go his way. As the story continues, the servant went to a fellow servant who owed him a small amount of money and demanded that he pay. When his fellow servant could not pay him, he had him arrested and held until he could pay him what he owed. Word soon got back to the master who became very angry by what the servant had done, and he punished the wicked servant who had not forgiven even as he had been forgiven.

Consider the mercies of our Lord. Consider Christ who made intercession for us so that we might find grace in the eyes of God. Through the work of our Lord, our debts have been forgiven completely. But let us not forget that to whom much is given, much also is required. God expects no less from us but that we demonstrate the same forgiveness to those around us, and that we can allow that forgiveness to grow and be stretched to include all people--for all time. “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Mt.6:15).
Through the course of discussions surrounding speculations and “what if’s,” many of us have considered certain scenarios as they might play out, and with that, our role within. Somewhere along the way we are sure to have been faced with a question as to how we think we might respond in a given situation or in regard to certain people. This is often in response to our taking a stand on a certain belief. For instance, I believe that God loves everyone equal, and that we are to do the same. The question put to me, therefore, was something like, “What about Charles Manson?” The reply to that is simply--”Yes, him too.” The next question is something like, “How can you?”
The mercy demonstrated by God in Christ is the same mercy that He desires to extend through us. It is the same love that the Father desires to see reflected in His children’s hearts. It is a love of intercession--a compassion for the lost--a desire to see all people come to experience God.
So what shall I do with the mercy I have received? The answer is to reflect that mercy and extend it to others. But not just my mercy, or the mercy in me, but to seek that God’s mercy is found by others who have not yet experienced His mercy. God wants to demonstrate His mercy to everyone, and it is His desire that His children will want to see the same, and by that mercy that we should make intercession for others. What is needed from us is that we would pray in faith that God will show mercy on people. That He will not allow hearts to remain hard, but that He will take steps to draw all people unto Himself.
As we pray we must remember that it is God’s will that none should perish, and therefore we must believe that He is ready to answer our cries for mercy for a lost and fallen world.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 18, 2006, 11:43:52 AM
Balancing Petitions

    Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God
    (Philippians 4:6).

Consider your needs. Consider your wants. Examine and weigh what is needed, against what is desired. With what is true contentment found? How much is enough? What motivates us to make a request of God? To answer these questions we best not leave it entirely up to ourselves or we will most certainly convince ourselves that our motives are noble and pure. And to look for the answers through the eyes of others may leave us in want, if they are like we are and give much advise with regard primarily to how it affects them or their interests. And though that may not even be the case, there is no question that the only one who sees us without bias and predisposition is God Himself. So as we consider our needs and wants and determine to come before God to make petition, we would be wise to first ask God to cut through our selfish motivations and teach us to truly ask according to His will.
"According to His will." Now that's a phrase that often carries a great deal of good intention, but all too often caries little effort. We ask, petition and pray and say, "Thy will be done," yet when it gets right down to it, little effort is expended in truly determining what is what and where to go. Sure, we want to know His way and follow it. But His question to us might be, "How badly do you desire to really know my will?" Do we desire His will and His way badly enough to fast and pray for one day? Or how about doing so until we receive and answer? Do we shun our desires seeking clarity of mind and heart so as not to be led astray by our personal passions? Are we willing to religiously come before God in prayer, and search the scriptures daily and diligently to see what God would say?
Acts 17:11 tells us about a people who wanted to know the truth. And because of their diligent search for the truth, their way was made clear to them. Of them the writer of Acts explains, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." They would not settle for a truth that could not be substantiated by the witness of God's Word, and they would not settle for a truth that would fit their own preconceived notions of what the Word of God stated.
In identifying our needs and desires and taking them before God, we might do well to remember something, that though our faith be strong and our motives pure, God is still the one who has to OK the requests we make. He sees the big picture--we do not. And though something we ask may be in the purest motivation, we must remember that it is something that fits into God's plan not just for our lives personally, but also every life around us. Name it and claim it thinking does not make God do anything. And faith that can move mountains will not move God to act outside of His will. It is not by faith that God moves, but it is by our faith that we see Him move, and by the same faith that our prayers mature and soon line up with His will. Through all we are instructed to let our requests be made known unto God, and to pray believing--but lest we see God as a magical wish granter let's keep in mind that our requests are just that--and God weighs them all in balance with His good and perfect will.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:40:30 AM
An Encouraging Word

    "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Heb.10:24).

It is easier to tell than to train, to enforce than to encourage, to punish than to discipline. Much of what is said and done as it relates to someone other than self, can often be done in the most convenient, most uninvolving fashion. This could be due to carelessness, laziness or perhaps due to too tight of a time schedule. Whatever the case, the fast paced lives we live today seem to have all of us investing more time in our daily activities than in other people.
At home we are surrounded by the ones we love most. Yet, we can involve ourselves in so many activities outside of the home that we sometimes can go almost a full day without even talking to or seeing one or more of our family members. And often when we do manage to be around each other, we wind up in front of the TV or each doing "his own thing" which requires very little interaction with anyone else. We want to see our family grow and flourish, but our tactics are often to demand and expect, rather than to encourage and teach. How would God have us invest time in our families?
The church is a family as well. One which has many members who need encouragement, love and nurturing. This requires time and attention. But if the only contact between members occurs on Sunday, there is very little quality time that can be given to any other member. And if the only interaction takes place during services and planned activities, it's hard for anyone to really get close enough to someone else to encourage them. Even the pulpit, in some cases, has taken the less involved role with the members. It has become the platform from which the members are often told what they should be doing, or what they are doing wrong. Yet, in some cases there seems to be little said or done to instruct the members just how they are to do what they should, or how to avoid the wrong.
For some congregations, what is perhaps needed more is less preaching and more teaching, and one on one instruction, and love, and nurture. If you are told that, "You need to be witnessing," it is the responsibility of your leaders to tell you how to do it, and to show you if need be (and that in itself must also be done according to the Spirit and not human standards). If you are instructed, "You need to be giving," it would be beneficial that someone should first demonstrate proper giving on all levels--including time and attention (this too as led by the Spirit).
Each week, there are many Christians who hear what they "need" to be doing and haven't a clue where to start. They go out, and they try, and many fail. They are then discouraged and feel ashamed in their inability to accomplish their religious duty. Then they are back in church the next week to start the process all over again.
Those who are given the responsibility to lead realize that is not to be taken lightly. They should also consider that a well-rehearsed discourse and three points and a poem may often fall short of fulfilling their spiritual duty. If the message leaves the members realizing their need but not knowing what to do about it, then they leave as empty as they came. Only now they are burdened whereas they may not have been at first.
The responsibility that God has placed upon us all is to encourage and nurture--to edify and lift up. This will not leave a member empty and disheartened, but filled and prepared and with a sense of "I can do it!" How far will we go to encourage another? Is it worth our time? Of course. From a kind word to a one-on-one Bible study, there are many ways to encourage. Ask God to show you ways to teach and encourage others in Christ. Then make a list of what He tells you.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:41:06 AM
On Becoming A Person

    I will praise thee; for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made: marvelous [are] thy works; and [that] my soul knoweth right well (Psalms 139:14).

There is a well known Humanistic Psychologist by the name of Carl Rogers. Much of his theory and practice of "Person Centered Therapy" is taught and widely used today. Rogers is a man who seems to have revolutionized the way counseling and therapy is done in our nation. And while Rogers' ideas contain important principles and excellent practices, it seems that somewhere in the mix he forgot God (intentional as it was).
As we think of what makes a person a person--or more close to home--what makes us who we are individually, there are many theories and philosophies as to how indeed we become "a person." Much of what is considered is wrapped up in the framework of experience and opportunity, explaining who we are in terms of what has made us rather than Who.
And while we expect that a man without God is a self-made man, we would not expect that one who is of God would be a self-made man as well. There is a sad but very real truth concerning the church today--it is full of self-made men and women, some more self-made than others. The point being that as we define who we are based upon what we have done, we see ourselves more in the light of our own works and accomplishments than in light of what God has done. We see ourselves in terms of our own abilities, self-effort, and personal choices. In short, we begin to ascribe a worth to ourselves that excludes God.
But we have heard that without God we can do nothing, and with God all things are possible, His grace is sufficient, our God shall supply all of our needs, He is our Rock, our Fortress, our Salvation. . . If becoming a person is limited to the sum total of our experiences, where does the work of God in our lives fit into that.
If we see ourselves based upon what we have accomplished, then we cannot see the potential of what God can do in and through each of us. We would continue going through our lives, doing the best we can. We would make choices for our future that we think would make us happy and then hope for the best, and hope God will bless. But God wanted us to see that there is much more than that. There is a greater joy in being a God-made person.
God is the Master builder. He knows the you who you are, and He knew what kind of life to design for you that would best fit the you who you are. He knows everything about you, and lets face it, He knows more than you about you. You don't trust a person who kind-a-sort-a knows how a car works to fix your car. Instead you trust it to someone who knows very well how the car works, what it needs, and how to fix it.
From the beginning of each of our lives, God begins to prepare us and develop us for what He has designed us to do. He knows what the finished you will look like. When we see what we can do and become awed by ourselves, we become very dangerous to our future. We may begin to weigh the limited number of facts we have and decide what we are to do with the "you" God is making us to be. Our trouble starts when we take the clay out of God's hands because it looks like a cup, and we start using it as a cup--not realizing He was making a vase.
We must let the vase become the vase. We can only do this by submitting to God and allowing Him to direct our paths--daily. We as Christians often attack the ideas of Humanistic Psychology that promote the making of self in this life and the becoming a person aside from God. Yet, when we who call God "Lord and Master" take the clay out of His hands and use it as we desire, then we fit in the mold of a godless ideology to raise the banner above our heads which proclaim, "I am a self-made man."

    Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (Rom.9:20-21).

    Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye [ought] to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that (James 4:13-15)


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:41:49 AM
Just A Closer Walk

    And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory (Mark 10:35-37).

Imagine yourself in heaven, seated at a banquet table. At the place of honor is Jesus. There are people to His left, and then His right, as far as the eye can see. You go to find your seat, marked by a place-card with your name on it. The Father has chosen where you will sit in regard to Jesus and has had that place reserved just for you. Where do you see yourself seated? Where would you like to see yourself seated?
In the world we live in today, there is a lot of emphasis put on our standing, our place or position. The higher the position, the greater the person. Power and prestige are the marks of success in our world today. How the people think of you and perhaps how easily your name rolls off their lips determines your worth as the world sees it. As for the corporate or political dinner gathering, the closer you are to the seat of the guest of honor, the more important you are in the eyes of your constituents, peers and leaders.
Jesus responded to Jame's and John's request by telling them that whoever wants to be the greatest should be the least, a servant unto the rest. In this way they would become more like their master. As Matthew 20:28 says, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
This could be said then: "if I want to be close to Christ in Heaven, I must learn to walk close to Him on earth."
I think of heaven as a beautiful valley with a large number of houses. The one in the middle is the one where Jesus lives--the one where His radiance shines out from and lights the hillsides. I wonder where my house will be in reference to His. I would hope, as many, to live right next door. That would be incredible!

        The street was paved with golden brick,
        the sky was deepest blue.
        The trees were filled with fruit and leaves,
        the grass was fresh with dew.
        I walked and gazed as God displayed,
        a creation made for me,
        and saw my home of God's design,
        for my eternity.
        My house was not the biggest,
        nor the smallest on the block.
        But shared the view of chosen few,
        with foundations laid on rock.
        For what I had been given,
        I know that I was blessed.
        But what would God have made for me,
        if I'd only done my best.

How I live my life on this earth will directly effect my place in Heaven. If I want to have a place close to Him in the next life, I must seek to be close to Him in this one--living as He would live, making choices as He would make choices. But if I choose to live this life for me--walking the path of my choice, serving my wants over God's desires--how then shall I hope to be close to Jesus in His glory. If I live close to the Light of Christ on earth, I will one day find myself basking in the Light of His Glory. But if I live away from the Light then I will one day find myself on the outskirts--living in the outer darkness.
Keep in mind that the outer darkness is not a place to be desired. It is a place where there is a longing to be closer to Christ in heaven, and regret from not living closer to Him on earth. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [Note: I say this about outer darkness in regard to my own speculations surrounding the outer darkness Jesus was referring to in the gospels (Mt.8:5-13; 22:1-14; 25:14-30).]
We cannot live this life like an astronaut on a tether. We cannot live a life here that sees how far we can get from God, yet still remain attached. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7).
How close do you want to be to Christ in His Glory? Do you want it bad enough to live close to Him on earth?

    But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but [it shall be given to them] for whom it is prepared (Mark 10:38-40).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:42:49 AM
Operation Saturation

    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8).

I had this dream once that I was playing Nintendo and that I had to get Mario to make some incredibly difficult jumps. Each jump was onto a tall slender column, which if I missed it, Mario would plummet to the bottomless screen. But as difficult as it was, I knew it must be done, because each of the twelve columns represented each of the twelve tribes of Israel. And my efforts determined whether or not they would hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Keep in mind, I did say this was a dream.
I happened to have had that dream within a few short months after I had began to walk with God. I had been reading my Bible about three hours per day, and couldn't get enough. I desired to spend every spare minute in the Word. As a result, God's Word in me had begun to produce noticeable fruit in my life (Gal.5:22-23). I noticed I was becoming more patient, more loving, more joyful, and so on. I noticed that God was changing me from the inside out. And that the good work He had begun in me began to seep out every part of my being--even to the point of my dreams (odd as some of them were).
Perhaps all of us have heard the old, old saying, "You are what you eat." This idea is expressed in abundance throughout the Bible as it relates to our spiritual life. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Jesus emphasizes this repeatedly and perhaps no place more concentrated than in His sermon on the mount. We are instructed over and over that we are to guard our thoughts, to allow God to transform them and to make them after the likeness of God's own thinking. Not so we would be held under His thumb, but so we might be free to experience life to the fullest the way He designed us to. For as we line our thinking up with His, we gain the wisdom to make the best choices. We gain peace that passes our understanding and we gain joy that remains even in the midst of turbulent circumstances.
It's the difference between a diet of fruits and vegetables, and a diet of candy and pizza. The one will strengthen us while the other will weaken. The one will make us feel good physically, mentally and emotionally; while the other will make us feel sick. And while we may say that it is OK to do this or that in moderation, we often are aware that our choice may not be the healthiest.
Yet, as this is to illustrate the spirit, how much moderation is used? If we are to be completely honest, the average Christian lifestyle seems directed more to the choosing of healthy food in moderation, while that which is unhealthy has free reign. We are God's children, and just as any good parent seeks to control their child's appetite for candy, so God also seeks to control that in His children as well. And for the very same reason any of us do for our children--we simply know what is best for them.
What is it you want to become? Do you want to be someone that oozes the Love of Christ? If so, remember that what you fill yourself with is what is going to be seen. We can't have our Father's eyes when our eyes constantly lust for want of things or visual entertainment. We can't have our Father's demeanor if we consistently fill ourselves with things that are not of God. We cannot grow to be like Him if we do not eat our vegetables.
One last illustration: Have you ever eaten anything with very strong onion in it? It seems like the odor of that onion begins to seep out every pore and that you are lucky if you don't smell like an onion the rest of the day. It would seem as though your whole body is saturated with onion. We have a choice as to what we take into our spirit. And while the odor of the things of this world seem to stick to us like a stinky onion and drive people away, the fragrance of the things of God is a sweet savoring smell that will draw people near.

    But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things [which were sent] from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God (Philippians 4:18)


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:43:44 AM
Purging and Purification

    Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4, NIV).

The Big Cover-up:
As we all well know, we have a tendency to keep hidden that which is in us that we hope know one will ever see. We expend a great deal of strength to conceal our flaws and failures (as we see them). We have a horrible day and suddenly we are faced with a "How are you today?" and we muster the strength to produce a smile and enthusiastically reply, "Oh fine, thank you."
We have become the quick-change artists who can don a smile to cover the frown, or add cheer to our voices to conceal a weary and troubled heart. All in hope that no one will see that anything is wrong. Otherwise, they may find out what is bothering us--or worse--they may not approve.
The Deception:
While we become experts in organizing our efforts to the donning of glimmering smiles with attitudes to match, we may begin to notice something. People around us seem to almost believe we really are fine. They have begun to respond to our casual dismissal of our problems with a casual, "Great!" only to move quickly on to something else to talk about.
So it seems our efforts have paid off. We have got just what we wanted--no one seems to notice we are hurting or struggling. In fact, we even begin to believe it ourselves. And so we bury the problems along with the causes and hope it will all go away. What we do not realize is that we are most likely the only person who is really deceived.
The Heat is On:
It is not healthy for us to bury what we don't want to see. It does not make it go away. Instead it lays beneath the surface--unattended--and soon begins to fester and rot.
Here is where God comes in. Our loving Father does not want to see us with problems buried and impurities unnoticed. He knows that if He would let us, we would just ignore the problem as long as we could--unto the point that it would be like a cancer that has spread throughout the entire body and has eaten up all of who we are. God will not let that happen to His children. Therefore, He takes action to remove the impurities we have tried so hard to pretend do not exist.
It is like the process of purifying gold. The gold is melted over a searing heat in order for the impurities to rise to the surface. At that point, the impurities are scooped off of the surface and disposed of.
God has to do something very much the same with us. Our lives are filled with impurities that would otherwise go unattended. God allows some circumstances in our lives to effectively turn up the heat. As the impurities surface, He helps us to deal with them in a manner that will free us a little more each time, from that which festers within.
What floats to the surface will often surprise us. We may say something like, "I thought I dealt with this already!" But the purifying process is a life-long process. It is a process that is administered by a gracious and loving Heavenly Father--not to torture, but to cleanse. He allows us time to heal and to grow from each past cleansing, while preparing us for future times of purging and purification. It is a necessary part of growing in Christ. It is a needed "shot in the arm" if we are to be free from the yuk within that would otherwise eat us like cancer.
The Joy is Available:
You may wonder how James could tell us to consider it joy to face suffering. It is because we can take confidence in knowing that with each cleansing time we face, we become a little stronger, a little more content and a little more ready to face what life may dish out.
A coffee pot, made of tempered glass can be boiled dry and taken straight from the burner to the sink and placed beneath a stream of cold water, and in so doing, it will not break. It is because the glass has been prepared to face the extreme and yet remain in tact.
God wants to preapare us for whatever extremes we might face. When one day it seems that everything is going our way and the next we face our worse day ever, God does not want us to shatter--but to remain in tact. Consider this joy--God loves you and wants you to maintain peace of mind in the storm, and contentment of heart in the midst of crisis, knowing that He has your best interest at heart.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:44:31 AM
Freedom (Part 1)

    If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed (John 8:36).

I have heard that an elephant can be chained by a flimsy piece of rope, and that a rat exposed to multiple electric shocks will in time do nothing to flee from the place where it knows the shock will come from.
It is said that you can chain an elephant so that the animal cannot break free. That is not so surprising. But what may seem surprising is that in time, you could replace the chain with a flimsy rope which the elephant could break easily. Yet, when the elephant feels the slightest resistance from reaching the end of the rope, it will not even try to break free.
The laboratory rat that is repeatedly exposed to a shock will in time just lay down and take it. It will not try to run away even if the way to escape has now been made available.
In both situations, the animals demonstrated what is called learned helplessness. They tried to resist uncomfortable situations at first, yet as time went on, they gave up even trying to change their unpleasant situation. They had once tried to force their boundaries, but their experience taught them that there was no point--and so they gave up their fight for freedom--and eventually gave up their freedom without a fight.
The Bible tells us that Jesus came to set us free. Paul writes, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery" (Gal.5:1). In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus encourages, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and by burden is light."
Jesus did not free us so that we could remain helplessly bound to the chains of our past. What once held us as chains, no longer has power over us. If we are still enslaved it is due to our learned helplessness and no longer the chains, since Christ has broken the chains and set us free. It is not because we are bound, but because we do not truly believe that we are free. Yet, Christ has said that you have been set free and "God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" (Num.23:19).
The skeletons in our closets and the sins of our past have a way of popping up in our minds to remind us of our failures. If we allow, Satan will use them to cause us to feel deep regret, and to become disheartened by our shame. We will become unable to serve God because we think, "Who am I to be used by God. Just look at me." We become helpless to move forward in our Christian walk because we have believed the lies of the devil who holds us captive with a flimsy rope.
When you trusted Christ that what He did was sufficient to cleanse you of your sins, you were given a clean record. What you have done you have done, but you do not have to let it haunt you--it has been forgiven, and God does not want it to have control over you any longer. He has broken the chains of your past sins, so that you may freely live for Him in the present.

    For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace (Rom.6:10-14).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:45:06 AM
Freedom (Part 2)

    If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed (John 8:36).

Jesus not only sets us free from our sinful past but free from the legalism which can quickly imprison us in our present (see Paul's epistles, specifically Gal.5). Though the best intentions are involved, we often take new Christians into the fold of the church and begin heaping on them the burdens of religious works. We tell them they must do this or that because they are now a Christian, and that they cannot do this or the other for the same reason. If they are lucky, they won't buckle under the weight--and if they are luckier, they won't have their joy stolen like many do who try to accomplish the impossible.
Someone once said, "You cannot live the Christian life. It is impossible." Think of an area of weakness in your life and how hard it is for you to deal with it. A lot of Christians have difficulty witnessing. They are told that it is their spiritual duty and they feel this is right, but somehow it seems to be a never ending struggle which leaves most Christians feeling like a failure. Here's the Good News! You don't have to be anxious about serving God. You don't have to be anxious about righteous acts, and religious do's and don'ts. In fact, we are instructed, "Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything. by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil.4:6-7).
In John 15:5 Jesus states, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." The fruit that we bear is the evidence of Christ dwelling within, in whatever form that evidence takes. Our duty is simply to remain in Christ. If we do this, He does not say we might bear fruit but He promises that we WILL bear fruit. And not only that--but much fruit.
What kinds of fruits should we expect to produce? Is that strictly talking about witnessing and bringing lost people to Christ? If that were the case, why be interested in transforming our lives and our thoughts? The fruits are far greater that what we do, it is the evidence of who we are--or better yet, who is within us. As we spend a lot of time with someone we begin to take on some of that person's characteristics. In a sense we are bearing witness that we have been with that person. The same goes for our walk with Christ--as we are with Him, we become more like Him. Our characteristics and mannerisms are transformed, and through this we bear witness that we have been with Him.
Do you want to experience freedom? Remain in Christ. Be with Him, walk with Him, talk with Him, pray and read His Word. Get as close as you can possibly get to Him and you will notice that He will start to rub off on you. As a result, He will begin to rub off on others through you. Who He is will overflow out from your life and into the lives of those around you. This is a free and natural process of bearing fruit. The fruit does not force itself to grow or force itself to release seeds at the appointed time--it is all a natural occurrence. This is the process that is required to bear "fruit that lasts" (Jn.15:16).
Don't worry about witnessing or other religious works. Instead, walk with God--remain in Christ. You will find that it is only natural to share your faith and to serve out of love. We must stop putting the cart before the horse--religious acts do not bring us closer to God, but being closer to God brings His desired works out from us. Naturally.
As we chain ourselves to religious laws, we confine ourselves to the boundaries of what we should do; but as we remain in Christ as the branch in the vine, we are free to experience whatever it is Christ would choose to do through us.
Jesus has come to set us free from the chains of our past disobedience (when we did not know God), and free from the chains of our present obedience to religion. Our allegiance is not to a religion, a denomination, a creed or a doctrine. Instead, our allegiance is to God. And as we remain in Christ, we will maintain the standard God sets for us--and we will experience the freedom in a holy life of obedience to our Lord.

    Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me (Jn.17:20-21).

    Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me(John 15:4).

    The answer in not in more religious works, but in more abiding in Christ.
    Jesus said this in regard to those who are His disciples:
    They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world (Jn.17:16).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:45:44 AM
Stretching For the Truth

    Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (Jn.8:32).

I remember as a boy how I use to love to climb trees. The bigger the tree, the greater the challenge and the more thrilling it was to climb. I remember how I would climb as high as I possibly could, often getting up to what would seem to be very flimsy branches. I can remember how the limbs would sway and the breeze would blow through my hair. I felt like I was in my own little world--it was a feeling of freedom, a feeling of becoming part of the tree as it moved with the gentle brush of the wind.
I now have a son who likes to do the very same thing. Though when he does, I stand below him on solid ground looking up and thinking that he needs to come down a little bit. I look at him high up in the tree and fear for his safety and get nervous for him--while he remains completely unafraid. It seems I quickly forget how much I enjoyed the same thing as a child.
I see God's Truth like a Great Tree to be climbed. It is a massive and challenging tree that stretches into the sky. Each and every branch represents another part of God's person, and the higher I climb and the more I stretch, the more I become one with Him--holding tightly to Him--moving with Him as He moves.
As a child in Christ, as a new Christian, we may find that we like heights. We cannot wait to get back up the tree of God's truth each and every day. We climb and climb, hoping to discover something new about His person. With each stretch toward another branch we cling more fervently to Him. The higher up we move, the more dependent we become upon Him to support us. It is a feeling of freedom.
But as we get bigger the heights appear too high, and the risk appears too dangerous. Fear begins to replace freedom and we find ourselves standing on the ground, looking up and perhaps wondering what has made us afraid to climb the tree the way we did once upon a time. And when we do get up the courage to climb, we cannot seem to bring ourselves to go as high as we once did. We stop short of limbs we had once traversed, and we see no hope of ever stretching beyond the place we have already been.
We, therefore, settle for the familiar. We climb to a point that feels comfortable, a point that we can settle with because it fits our logic, our preconceived ideas or our religious doctrines. We then live our lives never searching out the depths of who God is, but settle for the pleasant familiar and miss out on so much that He has to offer.
To speak plainly; there are many things that God has yet to show us. There are many ways to love Him, many ways to minister to others and many ways to live out our Christian life that we have yet to begin to discover. We rob ourselves of true freedom by learning one way to love, minister and live--then settling within the comfortable familiar, reluctant to stretch any further.
We do not learn to walk with a walker in our infancy and then use one the rest of our lives. In the same way, God does not teach us ways to walk in our Christian infancy that we are to cling to throughout our Christian lives (see Heb.6:1-3). He wants us to move beyond what is familiar and trust Him that he won't let us fall out of the tree.
God's truth is limitless. When we stop stretching beyond some part of the comfortable truth, we begin to put our trust in that truth, understanding or doctrine (these are the branches we rest on), and we begin to withdraw our trust from Him. God did not give us doctrine so that we could walk in it, but doctrine is a spiritual walker to help us to learn to walk in Him. It is not something to settle with, but something to help us move beyond ourselves as we learn to abandon everything we have ever known--and trust completely in our Lord.
Where do you want to be? Do you want to be the one who enjoys the freedom that comes from being stretched by God's truth? Or do you want to be the one standing on the ground looking up--wishing that those who are in the heights would come down a little bit so that you feel more comfortable?

    Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so (Heb.6:1-3).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:46:22 AM
Fruits and Fruitcakes

    Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them (Matthew 7:20).

What do you think of when you think of fruit cakes? Does Christmas come to mind? More than likely. Yet the story behind the fruitcake is quite interesting. It seems that at wartime, fruitcakes were one of the best things to send through the mail to the service men overseas. The cakes seemed to travel very well, as I'm sure many could attest to. When I think of fruitcakes I also think of humorous stories of the fruitcake that would get passed around from person to person--from one Christmas to the next. What strikes me about this is that this is one resilient food product that seems to last forever.
In John 15:16, Jesus instructs us to bear "fruit that will last." Perhaps the illustration of the fruitcake can help. We are not only to be interested in witnessing, serving, loving and giving. . . in such a way as to satisfy the moment, but in such a way that the effects are long lasting--the proverbial fruitcake of spiritual fruits.
Living in a fast paced world as we do, we are driven to do things expediently, getting the most out of the fleeting moments. While this looks good on paper, this kind of thinking alone will seldom produce lasting results. Unfortunately, our business mindedness seems to have crept over into the way we live our lives for Christ. We try to press our time with God into 5 minute morning quiet times, hoping this will get us through the rest of the day. Or we try to tell others about our life in Christ with a two-minute "hit-and-run" testimony, and hope the seeds we toss over our shoulders will someday take root.
Bearing fruit that lasts takes time. It takes time to put into us the things that are of God so that the fruits of God are evident in our lives. It takes time invested in someone who is lost, so that once the person becomes a Christian they will walk in the ways of Christ for a lifetime--not just a day.
We all know that if you plant 5000 fruit trees but do not water or fertilize or care for them in anyway shape or form, you will be lucky if you get a basket of fruit from the lot. Without what they need to live, most will die, and most of the rest will lose their ability to produce fruit at all. Yet, if you have one tree--and you care for it, and nurture it, and give it what it needs to live--it will produce more fruit than the great number of weak trees. Of the 5000 and the one, which is truly the greater work?
Many righteous works may appear the same on the outside, but the ones that are the good fruit will have lasting effects. They will be the ones that change and impact lives. They will be the fruits that bear witness of the work of God rather than man. And they will be the fruits that are remembered far beyond the righteous work, because they were sown out of love rather than Christian duty.
I have heard evangelists say that if we really care about a lost soul going to hell, then we would tell them about Jesus. But I have also heard that if you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day; but if you teach a man to fish, he will fish for a lifetime. If we really care, we will not only tell them about Jesus, but we will show them Jesus. And we will not only show them the Jesus who will rescue them from hell in eternity, but we will show them the Jesus who will bring them an abundance of life today.
The streets of America are teaming with those who claim to be Christians but show no evidence of Christ in them. We need to see that the answer is not in making more Christian converts, but more Christians who produce fruits that show the evidence of Christ at work in their lives. They will in turn produce lasting fruit, and the seeds of that fruit will yield a plentiful harvest because it is the good seed.
Quality work is lasting work--there is no such thing as the "minute-rice-Christian."


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:47:01 AM
A Great Cloud Of Witnesses

    Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Heb.12:1).

I have read this passage many times, and heard it read from and preached on in church. It is one that paints vivid imagery of people surrounding us in great number, in the likeness of a cloud. I use to read this and envision a huge stadium filled with the saints who had gone on before, faithful men and women who believed and obeyed God in this life. I would see them, now seated in the stands, watching us as we "run with perseverance the race marked out for us." I once thought that they witnessed what we were doing in our efforts for the Kingdom of God, cheering us on to finish well.
More recently, I read this passage and the words of one of my college professors came back to me, "What is therefore there for?" Hebrews 12:1 begins with the word "Therefore." I had been taught in a Bible study methods class that any time we come across a word like, "but," "and," "for," and "therefore," that this should prompt us to look back at what came before this passage to see what the passage being read from was adding to the previous one.
As I looked back, I saw in Hebrews 11 a long list of faithful followers of God. This chapter is sometimes referred to the "faith hall of fame" of the Bible. It is a list of people who believed and trusted God, and who experienced God's faithfulness to them in ways that are described within the chapter.
As I began to determine the purpose of the word "therefore," the meaning became more clear. These people were not sitting in the stands of some great stadium, watching me and cheering me on to do well. These people were not a great cloud surrounding us to witness what we have done and are doing. These people were the witnesses to God's faithfulness. They were witness of what God had done, and what God was doing. Hebrews 11 contains just a sample list of people who witnessed what God can and will do in the lives of His children. They were a testimony to the rest of us that "what he (God) had promised, he was able also to perform (Romans 4:21).
I do not believe this list was made to let us know that we are being encouraged by the saints who have gone before us. Instead, I believe it is a list to encourage us to place our faith fully in our God. Example after example is provided by the writer, in effort to demonstrate that God is faithful, and to show us what God is capable of doing through the lives of those who will simply believe Him.
Hebrews 11 is to be an encouragement to us all. The God who was faithful to them is the same God we serve today. He is as faithful to His children as He ever was. He does protect. He does provide. He does watch over you and He does care for you. But it is necessary to entrust Him to do so. It is necessary to let go of the control of your life into the capable hands of your Heavenly Father. Do you have some trouble with that--read the "faith hall of fame" (Heb.11).
Reading Hebrews 11 may not be enough for many of us. After all, that was then and this is now. Perhaps what we could stand to see is a list of people who are alive right now who are witnesses to God's faithfulness. If that's what you need, ask God. He will provide you examples you need to encourage you because He is still active in the lives of His children today, just as He was in the past.
Our responsibility may be seen as two-fold. First, if we are struggling in our Christian walk, feeling that we are weak and unable to experience God's work in our lives, we should then seek out those who can witness to us about God's faithfulness in the lives of His children. On the other hand, if we have experienced God's faithfulness as we walk with Him, we need to help our brothers and sisters with a word of encouragement--telling them about the faithfulness of God, bearing testimony to them of how our God is able to do for us even as He has done in the past--in the lives of His saints, in the lives of His followers, in the lives of His children--and in your life today.
A testimony of God's faithfulness may be all that is needed to help another child of God be loosed from the chains of the cares of this age.

    I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation (Psalms 40:10).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:47:37 AM
Trusting Means Everything

    Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord. . .But the Egyptians are men and not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit (Isaiah 31:1-3).

As you may well be aware of, Israel's past is filled with wars and conflict. In the middle of their struggles they often forgot that they needed to trust God to help them to overcome their dire circumstances. Instead, they placed their trust in horses and chariots, a strong army or a good king to lead them to victory. They sometimes chose to place their trust in a strong ally. They chose to place their trust in what they could physically see rather than in God. It was often not until they were completely out of options that they turned to God for help--not until they came to the end of themselves before they could see Him.
Imagine yourself in such a land. One ripped by war from decade to decade, having only brief periods of peace. If you found yourself in the midst of battle, alone and surrounded by hundreds of enemy soldiers, what would you choose to do? Do you see yourself transforming into Rambo, defeating the enemy and saving the day? Very exciting but highly unlikely. Do you see yourself fighting to your very last breath? Or maybe you see yourself stopping and dropping to your knees to pray for God to deliver you.
King David knew what it was like to be in the midst of battle, and he knew victory much of the time. Yet, David knew where to place his trust first, last and always. In Psalms 20:7, David states, "Some [trust] in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God."
Now imagine the battle somewhat differently. You are in the midst of battle and the battle is nearing the end. You and your army surround the last three or four men that remain of the all but wiped out enemy army. What do you choose to do? Can you picture yourself dropping to your knees to call on God for help? If not, why not
The God who will protect us from the hundreds, or even the thousands, is the same God who will protect us from the one. His faithfulness is not conditional based upon our circumstances, and neither is our faith in Him to be conditional. Trusting God does not mean that we do all we can do within and of ourselves, and then--after we have exhausted our resources--and only then, do we turn to Him for help. It is far more difficult to entrust something to someone that we ourselves are capable of handling, than to entrust to them what we cannot.
Maybe what you are facing in your life is something you feel you have under control. You feel full well that you can handle it and have no doubts of your own efforts and abilities. Yet, in order to see that God's will is met within everything we must learn to trust Him with everything. The BIG things are easy to entrust to Him because there is absolutely nothing we can do about them. But it is the little things that Satan will use to beset us because those are the things we handle many times without even a word to God, or even a prayerful thought. And what we end up doing is building more trust in our abilities, decisions and experience--trusting ourselves with all the little things that make up the greater portion of our lives. In turn, we trust the greater portion of our lives to ourselves--trusting less and less to God.
Just as a parent knows better than the child what is best for the child, God knows what is best for His children. The majority of your life is best entrusted to the One who knows what is best for you. Don't be fooled into thinking that God will handle the big things while you take care of the rest. It is often the little things that bring us down.

    Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:48:12 AM
If Only Angels

    For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would (Gal.5:17).

A young man walks grimly down a cold dark street. He lifts his arm to place his hand upon his head, and cradles his forehead in his palm. Confused and disheartened, he looks skyward and cries out, "I can't go on like this. . . Please--help me!" He falls to his knees in the quiet abandoned street to hear nothing at all but the sound of his sobs bouncing off the shadow painted walls of the lifeless buildings surrounding him. Staring down at the ground, his eyes lose focus as his thoughts begin to wander. "Why are you frightened?" a voice from behind questions. The young man turns, and with excitement mixed with fear he asks, "Are you an angel?" "Yes," the glowing figure of a man replies, "God has sent me to bring you a message. . ."

Heavenly messengers robed in light. They come in the name of the most High bringing news of God's plans, ministering to the needs of one of God's chosen, or preparing a place, time or situation for the forthcoming work of God. And while we experience their comings and goings throughout the scriptures, many of us are left with questions, "Why not now?" "Why not today?" "Why don't angels appear to people today?" And, "Why not to me?"
We all experience times of life that are troublesome, times in which we feel confused and disheartened. We desperately want to get our lives back to a more pleasant, more comfortable state, and we desperately want to know what we need to do to end times of difficulty. We may find ourselves crying out to God, and indeed we should seek His guidance as His children. After all, He is the one who has the answers we so dearly need to hear. That is when we sometimes finally say it--we say it and perhaps even put it to God in the form of a request--"If only angels could come and tell me what to do. . . If only God would tell me what to do so I can hear it. . .If only He would give me some kind of sign. . ." "If only angels. . ."
Yet, God in His wisdom chooses not to comply to such requests. That is, unless it is in line with His will to do so. If He did comply with every request for angels, seeing angels would soon become commonplace and eventually we would even begin to doubt what would be said through them. For even though we would receive the message clearly we would still find ways to confuse the issue if our hidden intent is to cower in the shadows of self-pity. Or perhaps we would simply become numb to the audible words of God after hearing them over and over.
Even if we were to gladly receive everything God would say to us, what might be the result. How does God, who is a Spirit, teach us to walk by faith, no longer by sight if He continuously caters to our wants for physical affirmations? We cannot learn to walk in the spirit if we are led only by what we see with our physical eyes or hear with our physical ears or touch with our physical hands. We cannot learn to trust in the spirit if we cannot grow beyond putting our trust in what is tangible. Therefore, if we only trust what is seen, heard and felt in the flesh, how shall we learn to trust God in the spirit?
If we were only creatures of flesh this would not be a problem. We have been learning through our physical senses from day one. Yet, there is a nature to each of us that is not of the flesh, but spirit. That is the part of us that needs to learn how to walk, see and hear that which is in the spirit.
But God is a loving Heavenly Father who wants to see His children grow so that they can face the challenges of life in spirit and in truth. This way He teaches us to hear Him when the rest of the world is confused by what they hear from politicians, religious leaders and media. He teaches us to see Him when the rest of the world is blinded by self-ambition, self-promotion and self-absorption. He teaches us to walk in the spirit, when the rest of the world stumbles over the cares and concerns of this life. He does not want us to seek that which is the easier way, but He longs to teach us how to walk confidently when the way is hard.

    For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subjec to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. . .For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (from Romans chapter 8).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:48:50 AM
Upholding Faithfulness

    Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness"
    (Isaiah 41:10).

"Fear not," God says to us. And yet we fear. "Be not dismayed." And yet we worry and become anxious over many things. God continually tells us "I am with you," yet we continue to become panic stricken by the cares of this life, not realizing just how close He really is. Our eyes are so often on our problems that surround us that we cannot see the God who remains with us.
God is near. So why do we act like He is far off? Is it because our problems are so overwhelming that they keep us from seeing God through them? They press in on every side and as we give them more and more attention, we give them more and more power. We eventually give them more power in our lives than God as we let them control what we think and what we think we must do.
Perhaps the reason God seems so far off is because I have wandered. Maybe I have gotten my eyes off of Him by putting them on all the wonderful things I want out of life. But as I move away from the Light of God to chase after the world I am only filled with darkness, and cannot see because I must have light to see. "If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Mt.6:25).
God is near. But if I am blinded by my problems or selfish wants, how shall I see Him? And if I cannot see Him, how can I bring myself to trust Him? And if I cannot bring myself to trust Him, how shall I learn to depend on Him when I am surrounded by trouble, or burdened by the cares of this life? How will I learn to have peace when the budget is tight, the job insecure, the relationships weak or when my day to day becomes a tedious "daily grind?"
The daily grind can and does get to most of us. Yet, God has something to say to us about that. He says, "Do you feel weak? I will strengthen you. Do you need assistance? I'll be there--I will help you. Are you weary and feel like you cannot take another step? I will hold you up." These are not simply words but they are the promises from God. Would God lie to you? Of course not. Do you think He is talking to everyone but you? Of course He is talking to you--He is talking to all of us. We just simply have to believe that what He said He will do, He will do. Not because of your faith--but because of His faithfulness. He is faithful to His word even when we are faithless.
What is holding you back? Are your eyes glued on the problems or perhaps on what you want? "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you" (James 4:8). "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart" (Psalms 37:4). ". . .for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5). "Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness" (Isaiah 41:10).

    But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31)


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:49:23 AM
Sound Doctrine

    Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth (2 Tim.2:23-25).

I have witnessed arguments over doctrine. I have watched as what began as a moment of sharing turned into debates of spiritual matters in which neither person really won. I have seen within such times, people losing control, losing their tempers and losing respect for another. A matter that should be approached with love and understanding becomes a reason to belittle the other for their viewpoints--acting as if they must be the devil himself to think some of what they think.
We are such creatures of the moment. We so frequently fail to see beyond our immediate circumstance long enough to see the big picture. And by doing so, we fail to look at ourselves and others as the work in progress that we are.
None of us has all the answers. No one is perfect or maintains perfect doctrine, for we are still being perfected. Where we disagree, there is disunity. But rather than agreeing to disagree, we can agree that we don't agree which means that one or both of us are wrong.
However, though we be wrong in doctrine it is important to remember that we can maintain a rightness of heart. As mentioned, we are being perfected. This is not an enlightenment that provides us with all the answers at the point we first come to Christ. Instead, it is a process that continues as we abide in Christ. My doctrine might not line up with yours, and yours may not line up with mine, and it would be a miracle if we agreed on everything. No matter how we line up, our doctrine will fall short of the whole of Christ's doctrine--on that we can all agree.
With this knowledge of our imperfections we are very understanding with ourselves. We can tell ourselves that we're not perfect but that God is still working on us and this helps us to live with our faulty thinking until God can change it. But do we fail to extend others the same courtesy? Do we fail to be understanding with them and give them the same tolerance for imperfections as we give ourselves?
As previously said, "though we be wrong in doctrine it is important to remember that we can maintain a rightness of heart." If someone had all the right doctrine yet failed to seek God, what good would it be? God is not as concerned with how much truth you possess as He is with whether or not you are seeking Him. The rightness of heart is not maintained by doctrine, but by continuing to seek God, to draw near to and abide in Him. If we truly seek God He will bring our doctrine into proper alignment with His. And that will not necessarily line up with what we once thought it should be, or what others think it should be or sometimes with what a church thinks it should be.
This brings with it freedom and responsibility. We are free from the law that states that all of us must have the same doctrines. We are all at different levels of Christian maturity and as such we must be allowed to grow to the likeness of Christ, not be brow-beaten into it. Yet we are responsible to remain in Christ, listening attentively to our teachers and weighing what they say with the Spirit, so that we will continue to grow toward maturity in Christ. We are not allowed to plead the fifth, or say "We agree to disagree" or "I just don't see it that way," and leave it at that.

    Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or [whether] I speak of myself (John 7:16-17).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:49:56 AM
Great Expectations

    My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation [is] from him (Ps.62:5).

A man came into some money and was considering how best to invest it. He had always wanted to have an apple orchard yet never thought it would be possible. Since he really knew very little about raising apples, much less a whole orchard, he decided to start small with about ten to twenty trees and work his way up. He purchased the land and purchased the apple tree saplings, and soon planted and cared for the trees to raise them up healthy and strong. Imagine his surprise when his apple trees began to produce peaches. It seems that his saplings had been packaged wrong at the time he bought them, and since he didn't know an apple tree from a peach tree, he got peaches.
The peach trees naturally produced what was in them to make. And no matter what the man expected from the tree, it could only naturally produce what was in it to produce. Jesus spoke of this when he said, "Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?" (Mt.7:16). He went further to describe that in the same way, that which is in people to produce is what will come out. If we abide in Him, he tells us we will produce good fruit. But as we know, abiding may not be the easiest thing for us to do. For even if the world and the cares of this life do not steal our attentions from Christ, something else usually does.
More subtle than evil are the good intentions that beset us. Our desires to be righteous are often our stumbling stones as they become our guide above Christ. We see things that need done to serve and to minister, and while these things fill us with good intentions and noble desires, they can often be the very things that pull us out of the will of God. We can easily become consumed by good works. So much so that we take our eyes off of Christ and get wrapped up in our work until one day we look back and realize that we left Christ at the starting gate, or somewhere behind.
It is often that God begins to direct us, and we take what He has told us to a point and then run with it. We see only in part and then jump to our expected conclusions and we tell God, "OK Lord, I got it. I'll take it from here." Then we wonder why we get peaches out of apple trees.
If we are not careful, we can become ruled by the expectations we place on ourselves or by expectations that others or the church place upon us. We then lose sight of Christ as we have left him in our super spiritual up-kicked dust, and we venture ahead out of our own strength or abilities. We do so until we grow tired and cannot go another step. We may get physically sick or mentally exhausted. Mind and body are drained by self-effort to produce the expected fruits until we have to stop, and sit down, and rest. Christ then catches up to us (at His pace) to find us worn and weary. He then picks us up to walk with Him again and we begin to produce the natural fruits once more.
It seems no matter how hard we try, or how much we or others expect from us, we cannot force a peach tree to produce apples.

    Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her
    (Luke 10:38-42).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:50:30 AM
On Your Behalf

    I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name--the name you gave me--so that they may be one as we are one. . .My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. . .My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn.17:11-21).

Read John chapter 17 sometime, and in it you will find one of the most beautiful passages of the Bible. It is a passage wherein Jesus prays to the Father on behalf of His followers. He not only brings His concerns for His current followers to God, but also for those who are yet to come. His desire was that we might all be protected from the evil one and that we might all be one with Him. He prayed for us because He loved us, because He knew we needed it and because He knew it would make a difference.
The reason He knew it would make a difference was because what He asked was in line with the will of the Father. Because He asked according the Father's will, He was confident that His prayers would be answered. And His prayers that we would be protected from evil and that we would be one with Him are continually being answered as more and more people turn to God to follow Him.
Jesus tells us that we will show that we are His disciples if we love one another (Jn.13:35). That love that we have for our brothers and sisters in Christ will often have a natural tendency to manifest itself through our prayers for those whom we love. Our response of love will be to pray much like Christ has prayed for us--this is only natural as we become one with Him as He had prayed.
But do not fear, just because you are not Jesus does not mean that your prayers cannot be as effective. We can have confidence that our prayers will be answered even as Christ's prayers were. 1 John 5:14 says, "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us." The power of our prayers do not originate with the one who prays but in Who we are praying to. When we pray "His will" in the matters of another's life we become one with Christ in His purpose for that other person. It is because of this that we can have confidence that our prayers make a difference.
With that in mind, what do we do with this power that is available? There are so many around each of us who need a special touch or word from God. They need to feel His Love, His strength and His guidance. Even as God chose for Jesus to pray as a means for Him to work His will in our lives, so He desires for us to pray as a means to work His desires in the lives of those around us.
Imagine that you were told by God that you were responsible to pray for a particular person everyday, and that when you prayed it would make a positive difference in their day. Imagine that if you did not pray that it would mean them having a worse day. What would you feel you needed to do? Suddenly, someone else's day depends completely upon you.
To what degree our praying impacts another's day we may never know on this earth. Yet, as Jesus demonstrated through His intercession, prayer does make a difference. And for some of our loved ones in Christ, it could make all the difference in the world.
Pray for those around you, that God will give them wisdom and courage to face everything they will face today. Wrap them in the warm hug of a prayer lifted up to God on their behalf. God will hear you, and He will use your prayers to better the hearts and lives of the people you lift up.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:51:01 AM
Bread Winner

    When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do (Jn.6:5-6).

Who was the bread winner of your home? You might first think of dad since that is the traditional way of thinking. Now days, many would say mom or perhaps that both parents are the providers for the household. This may seem perfectly natural to ascribe to one or both parents the title of "bread winner," yet this expression may mean different things to different people. To what extent does the adult, head of the house, parent or guardian have to go to provide for their family?
2 Thessalonians reads, "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat (3:10). This verse is often used to instruct Christians regarding their responsibility to provide for their families. And we would agree that we are all supposed to work as unto the Lord, and we are to care for our families and we are to take responsibility within our earthly situations. Yet, even though the intentions are the noblest, it is easy to take on more responsibility than we are meant to.
Regardless of our life situation, regardless of our circumstances, there is a way that God would have us to go. God wants us to trust and obey. We are to trust Him that He knows the road ahead of us. We are to obey Him in His leadership as to what we are to do in every area of our lives--that includes the "how to" that the food is put on the table.
What many of us do, however, is put trust in ourselves--what we can do or how much we can earn. We quickly forget how God shall supply all our needs, and we begin to see as the rest of the world does that the "who" behind the food on the table is a human being in the household who holds a job. And since there is one in the house who thinks he/she is the provider, they become anxious over job security and pay cuts. They worry about tomorrow and begin to shuffle through the classifieds every time their jobs are threatened. But if God is seen as the provider, then there is nothing to worry about--because the one who holds tomorrow is the one who is the Provider.
As Jesus fed the 5000, He did more than a miracle for the moment, He demonstrated God's provision to us even as God wanted us to understand it. Jesus came to manifest the Father to us, to show us who the Father was and what the Father desired for His children.
He wants us to work as unto God, with all our heart, soul and might, but He wants us to trust God to bring the increase. He wants us to trust that God will not let His children starve.
This is a difficult concept to grasp. It's hard to truly trust God with your livelihood. Yet that is exactly what must be done to have true peace of mind. Trusting self to provide can make you feel insecure even when you have a job. Yet, trusting God to provide can make you feel secure even when you're unemployed and looking for a job in a tight job market.
What is hard to keep in mind is that we are not the bread winners, God is. We are simply to be obedient to Him and we will have what we need because He is faithful.

    Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you (Jn.6:27).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:51:34 AM
Blissful Ignorance

    On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching, who can accept it?" . . .From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him (Jn.6:60&66).

Jesus had finished explaining to many of his disciples some of the principles surrounding who He was. But what Jesus said was difficult for them to receive because what He said rubbed harshly against their flesh. What Jesus said did not settle with what they in their own human wisdom could reason out. "Many of his disciples," the scripture tells us, "turned back and no longer followed him." Their response was to say within themselves, "I just can't understand that--I don't even want to think about it."
Ignorance is often thought of as another word for stupidity or as a lack of intelligence. Perhaps a more correct understanding of the word, "ignorance," would be to see it as the act of ignoring. This implies a knowledge that something exists, yet with that, a willful desire to pay no mind to whatever that something is. These days we might call that "denial."
We like to feel secure in our beliefs and understandings about the way things are. When something or someone comes along that shakes those beliefs and causes us to question things of which we have felt secure in our understanding, our tendency is to resist. We become uncomfortable and insecure and find ourselves at the crossroads--wondering what is right and who is wrong. Our choice is to struggle through the questions or to bow to the bliss of ignorance.
There are a lot of hard sayings in the Bible. And Christ challenges our way of thinking as He draws us out of the world to become His disciples. Everyday we are faced with decisions that we can make using the spiritual mind that Christ nurtures within us, or we can make the decisions using reasoning that is more settling to our worldly thought patterns. How we choose is the difference in following or not following Jesus. Each time we turn away from the hard sayings of Christ, it becomes easier and easier to do so. We do it enough and we may find ourselves in the likeness of those who were Jesus' disciples who turned back and followed Him no longer.
What resource do you use to make your day to day decisions? Do you call on the wisdom of God or upon the powers of human reasoning and experience? No matter how bright we become or how much experience we gain, we will never be equipped enough to depend upon self rather than God. God alone sees everything that impacts your life and He alone can provide the Wisdom to fill in all the gaps of human reasoning. Trust Him with your decisions and for God's sake as well as your own, don't turn away in ignorance. His truth is a solid Rock--it is hard and cumbersome when it comes to rest on top of us, yet it is our security when we come to rest on it.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:52:08 AM
Children Of God

    For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together (Rom.8:14-17).

We are no longer children of this world, but children of our Heavenly Father. And being the children of God means that we begin to follow His example and become more and more like Him as we mature. This is not to be taken lightly. What it took for us to become the children of God required a great sacrifice. God gave up the life of His son, Jesus. Jesus forfeited His right and His life in order that we might be called the children of the Most High.
As we go from day to day and become occupied with occupations and focused on daily routine, it becomes very easy to lose sight of what it really means to be called the children of God--and what it took for us to become joint heirs with Christ.

Birthright

I wish I could have taken His place,
but I am not like Him:
perfect, without blemish,
completely without sin.
I know it may be easy,
for me right now to say,
I would have died in place of Him,
and take His place that day.
For I will never have to face,
a death such as He died,
for if I had, I might have tried,
to run away and hide.
But ifs, and speculations,
will never change what is.
He took my rightful birthright,
and He gave me what was His.
I should have died in place of Him,
for all that I have done.
Instead I've gained a Father,
through the death of His own Son.
If I were some how able,
to travel back in time.
I still could not have taken His place,
for He had taken mine.

Take time today to remember what God has done for you in making you His child. Take time today to remember what it means to be His child. Christ gave up His life that we might live--what would result if we would give up our lives that He might live through us?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:52:41 AM
The Line of Faith

    When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick (Lk.9:1-2).

You may be someone who believes that miraculous powers were only appointed for a season (specifically during the early New Testament times). Or perhaps you are someone who believes that we can be empowered today to do even as Christ had done (casting out demons, healing the sick and so on). Whatever the case, what you think about works of faith may not be nearly as important as to why you think what you think.
The Bible is full of what we often refer to as miracles. To God, however, they might not be seen as miracles at all but rather as an act of His will. It is no miracle for God to act within His will for it is His nature to do so. This is not to downplay the mighty works of God, but possibly to bring to attention the lesser works--which are really not lesser at all. God's works are praiseworthy because of who He is and not because of how extraordinary His works may appear to us to be.
All that God does carries with it His intents and purposes to bring about the greater good. Whether He heals you of a terminal disease or sends you a cool breeze on a hot summer day, if He has put it into motion then it is out of His wonderful love for you that He does so.
All too often, we act surprised (or become skeptical) when a supernatural act of healing occurs--that which seems extraordinary. Or we take the everyday (seemingly small) miracles for granted--overlooking all the wonderful things God does for us that we would not consider extraordinary.
It's really no wonder that we think in such mediocre mindsets--skeptical of the extraordinary, while ignoring the day to day blessings. Our doctrines seem to be progressively painting us into the corners of faithlessness. The things we preach that a Christian should do are, for many, easy to do out of one's own strength. We say that a Christian must read the Bible and pray, he must witness, she must go to church and must give. Each of these things can be done without an ounce of faith. Yet we manage to steer clear of preaching works of faith that are above that which people could accomplish in and of themselves (healing, for example).
Where do we draw the line of faith? Does it stop short of that which can only be described as Supernatural? We speak of great commissions to preach and teach and neglect commandments to heal. If the truth be known, we might realize that it is not our doctrine at all that prevents us from moving into works of faith, but it is the lack of faith to see God move beyond the ordinary--and a lack of appreciation when He moves within the ordinary.
Nothing about God is ordinary. He has a great many things to accomplish through each of us. What He asks you to do may go beyond your limitations--but it will never exceed His abilities.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:53:17 AM
Righteous Anger

    In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold (Eph.4:26-27).

Self-control seems at times to be much more than a spiritual fruit--it seems to be a spiritual art. It is something that takes self-discipline and many hard hours of practice. A person has to go into each day making a mental choice to restrain the reactions to difficult situations--avoiding the desires to do or say things that will later be regretted. No time is it more difficult than when a person feels that his/her rights have been violated.
When someone has wronged us it is very easy to retaliate in some fashion. Perhaps we even feel it is our right to do so--to defend ourselves--to stand up for our rights and not let others walk all over us. Yet God says, "It is mine to avenge: I will repay" (Rom 12:19). We are instructed, "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Rom.1217-18).
Have you ever heard someone say, "It's all right to get angry. Even Jesus got angry at the temple and chased everyone out with a whip?" What perhaps is lost in this interpretation is the purpose behind Jesus' anger. He was not defending His rights. He was not standing up to others because He felt that His rights had been violated. He did not chase people out of the temple with a whip because He wanted to show them that they were not going to walk on Him anymore. Jesus was angered and acted upon His anger while in defense of the Holiness of God which had been defiled by those who chose to turn God's house into a "den of thieves" (Mt.21:13).
The anger of Christ was a righteous anger. It was an anger on the behalf of something outside of Himself. Personal interests did not motivate His anger, and if we are to hold up the fact that Jesus got angry as an illustration that it is all right to be angry, then we need to be willing to examine our motives to see if they are pure--to see if our anger is a righteous anger or a self-centered anger.
We will get angry, but that anger is to be contained in a manner that will keep us from sin. Our society has tried to find constructive ways for people to vent their anger in a socially acceptable way. Yet, what would be best to do first is to take it before the Lord and let Him show us the root of our anger. If the root is selfishness, then any act out from that anger will be selfish. If the anger is righteous, then the act out from that will be righteous. Though we should understand that we will have selfish anger, we are not to excuse it, justify it or in any way try to vent it in such a way that the spiritual fruits of self-control are sacrificed.
In Christ we seek to grow to be angry only for reasons other than selfish reasons. In Christ we are transformed to be angry on another's behalf, to be angry when injustice is done, to be angry when God is blasphemed, to be angry when God's people blatantly sin against Him--nevertheless--to be angry and sin not.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:53:52 AM
Moving Forward

    The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit (Jn.3:8).

The Spirit of God can be likened to the wind. You do not see it, but you can identify its presence by how it effects what it comes in contact with. You may not be able to see what God has been doing prior to a noticeable moving and you do not know what will transpire, yet if you are watching for His moving you will notice the effects of His Spirit in your life and the lives of those around you.
There are many ways that we like to see movement. Noticing that certain things are moving means to us that they have not ceased to function properly. If you are on hold for ten minutes and you hear music playing over the phone the whole time, you know that you are still on hold and that someone might pick up the line soon. But have someone place you on hold so that you hear nothing but silence, and pretty soon you may start wondering if you have been disconnected.
Computers cater to this need to be pacified as we wait. Seems most every computer now days has some sort of way to tell you that its working. It may display an hourglass or a "please wait" message, or something like that. The flashing light of a hard drive and the soft grinding noise that accompanies are good ways to see that the system has not locked up. These are indicators to us that there is still movement--that everything is still functioning as it should.
If a tree stops growing or does not bud, we assume it is dead or soon will be. If a river stops flowing and the water settles into individual pools, we know that if the water in those pools remains long enough that the water will stagnate--becoming lifeless.
There are many things that trouble us when we do not see the effects of movement. And there are some things that should trouble us perhaps a little more than they do. As those who are born of the Spirit, we are to be moving. Moving away from a previous state toward a new state, a state of maturity in Christ. If we can look at our lives and see no movement then the practical observation would be to see that something is wrong. Have we been disconnected from God? Have we locked up and become unable to function the way He has designed us? Have we stopped growing in Christ and become stagnate and empty of the abundant life of God?
Growing comfortable with "the way things are" leads to complacency. Complacency leads to spiritual stagnation. It is important for us to keep moving forward in our Christian walk, leaning on God for support along the way--asking Him to give us the strength to keep moving.
If the Spirit is moving in your life, you will see the effects of His movement as though it were the wind in the tree tops. If you cannot recall the last time you saw the effects of the movement of God then you have probably landed in a pool of stagnation. However, you do not have to stay there. Ask God to do what is necessary to get you moving again. Ask him to make you uncomfortable with complacency and the lack of desire to grow. He will show you what it will take to get your Christian walk moving forward again.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:54:26 AM
Deserving

    One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan (Lk.17:15-16).

   The question was raised in a Sunday school class, "Why are we often not thankful?" Luke 17:11-19 tells the story of ten men who had leprosy and cried out to Christ as He passed by. Jesus told them to "Go, show yourselves to the priests." As they went on their way they were all healed, but only one returned to thank Jesus. The question is raised as to why the other nine did not return--why only one out of the ten returned--and why only the Samaritan.
   Samaritans were a people who were despised by the Jews. The Jews would have nothing to do with them, even to the point of not speaking to them. But of the ten that had been together, there was one among them that was Samaritan, the rest being Jewish. So then, in a group of nine of God's chosen people and one Samaritan, why did not those who claim to be God's children realize who had healed them and praise God all the more?
The answer may be as close as your own family.
   I have children, and I have watched them as I give them things from time to time. Sometimes it's like pulling teeth to get them to remember to say thank you. It is almost as though they feel that because they are my children that I somehow owe them what I give. It's not always, but it is often that they take what is given as though they deserve it--slow to say thank you, and soon to forget.
   We cannot know for certain why the nine did not return. Perhaps they somehow felt that they deserved what they received. They were Jewish and part of God's chosen people, and maybe they were like children sometimes are--slow to say thank you, then soon to forget.
   The Samaritan however, most likely did not feel deserving. He did not consider himself God's chosen yet he received the same thing that God's chosen received. What he received he did not feel he deserved, or that it was owed him or even like it was something he should expect--he received the gift of a new life. For having being healed of the leprosy, he was able to move back into a normal, and perhaps long and healthy, life.
   We too have been given the gift of a new life--a new life in Christ. We have also been blessed in that we have been made part of God's family, and we can now call ourselves His children. How much then, does our Heavenly Father give to us that we take for granted? How much of what He does for us goes unnoticed? Is it because we grow accustomed to His gifts and to His love that we begin to not notice the daily blessings he sends our way?
   The nine may not have had a conscious thought that they deserved what happened to them--yet, they also did not have a conscious thought to say thanks. We too may not have a conscious thought as to say, "I deserve this." Yet, how often does our lack of a simple "Thank you Father," send the message that we somehow expect Him to do all He does for us in a manner as though He owes it to us?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:54:59 AM
More Than Meets The Eye (Part I)

    The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Mt.6:22-23).

"Seeing is believing!" Or so some have said. "Show me the bottom line--give it to me in black and white and then I will consider it." We sit ourselves at the table of life ready to feast upon all things we can physically set before our eyes. And within our search for the solid proof and tangible truth, we give up power over our will only to that which can be seen with human eyes.
"The lust of the eyes." It is what is set before the eyes so that one's soul can feast upon carnal desire. It is the lusting after the flesh for sensual satisfaction, and it is the lusting after material goods for desired security--looking upon something or someone in such a way that you begin to yearn to possess what you see. It is not a natural desire, as some would have us believe. The Spirit of God who created us did not include this lusting nature. Instead, there is a spirit of lust that overshadows us and is extremely prevalent in our society. It is not a question of natural passions but of whom has control over those passions, and what has been the result.
The spirit of lust has intertwined itself into our nation. Material goods, good looks, sexual desire, fame, power--these are the lures of the spirit of lust that beckons us from the TV, the magazine rack and wayward imaginations. To conquer the problem we must get to the root--it is not within the flesh but within who is given power over the flesh. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph.6:12).
The obvious things to do involves removing as much from in front of our eyes as needed to decrease our chances to lust. Perhaps we might even be very successful at doing so. Yet, the problem is still prevalent and the spirit of lust seems to grow stronger and stronger. What then can we do with such a devil? Perhaps we should turn to something Jesus said, "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Mt.17:21).
If we look at the condition of our world, seeing the material greed and the sexual perversion and we feel saddened--there is something more we can do than to sit and bemoan the certain peril of the people of this nation. First, we can make a choice not to place in front of our eyes those things that we might lust after. Second, we need to seek God--to fast and pray--asking God to cast the spirit of lust out of this nation. If you want to kill a weed you never cut off its top--instead you do what is necessary to kill the root.
Too much of our living is influenced by what we want, what looks good or what brings us pleasure. God would have us remember that behind all the hype and perfect presentations of pleasure that the world has to offer, there is truly more than meets the eye—and it is certainly not all we would have hoped it to be.
The world offers "more than meets the eye." It is the hidden agenda, the false advertisement, the small print that holds deceit. But God offers "more than meets the eye" in the form of His grace that works behind the scenes of our everyday, His love that sustains us, and His working out of everything in our lives while keeping our best interests at heart. The question then is: "Which one do you choose to trust?"


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:55:36 AM
More Than Meets The Eye (Part II)

    "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12).

There are many ways that seem right to us. Those ways may have been established by tradition, doctrine, culture or here-say. Yet, there is a way that IS right and that is the way that follows Christ steadfastly in moment by moment obedience.
Much of what pulls us away from obedience to God is putting great trust in our own reasoning abilities. We examine and weigh the facts, then we draw our conclusions. Then we often make decisions as to how to act based primarily upon what we SEE to be the right way to go.
A particular job or career is often chosen for reasons of income or security or interest. Yet, how many of us set our directions for livelihood based upon what God would have us do?
A number of ministers follow the well beaten paths of ministers who have gone before, often holding to the course of the past. Bible college, Seminary and then the pulpit--there is a particular order of becoming that seems to be the same for all. Yet, could it be possible that those who feel called to serve God are sometimes led more by the standard way of men than the particular way of God?
A number of churches make a large number of decisions based upon the bottom line of the budget, certain that they cannot step outside of monetary means to accomplish the work of God. Yet, could it be possible that the church is guided more by money than by the Lord? For we say we cannot do this or that because of the money--yet, we know that all things are possible with God (Consider 5000 fed with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish).
There is a grave danger to following what appears to be right. When we say that God gave us minds to use them that is true. But what that means is that He gives us knowledge and Wisdom to question what is, to determine whether we are being led by God or by our usual way of doing things.
Eyes led by what seems to be right are often blinded by barriers that constrain human effort--yet could never contain God.

Living by faith means living by "more than meets the eye." If we are to truly experience the magnificence of God, we must learn how to stop trusting our eyes and simply trust the Maker of our eyes. He gave us eyes so we could see, but not so we would be led by what we see. He gave us minds to use, but not so we would be led by what we think. Bottom line, results based living will probably allow us to feel comfortable in life, but it will not allow us to experience the wonders of God, and what He offers that is truly more than meets the eye.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:56:14 AM
More Than Meets The Eye (Conclusion)

    Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What shall we drink?' or `What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:19-34).

As our eyes become steadfastly fixed on wants from this life, as we stare into the familiar of what we reason in our minds to be so, we can easily find ourselves trusting only in that which is reasonable and comprehensible.
Claiming to be people of faith does not make faith real. Engaging in religious activities does not instill true belief, but practiced religion.
We see a lot of the same problems in the church as we see in the rest of the nation. The dreams and ambitions of church going people have few differences from those desires of the unchurched. The churches are filled with people who have similar problems as the unchurched population and persist in solving problems the same as those who do not know God. By using their personal resources and their own reasoning powers.
We have got to stop looking to the world around us as an example of how to live life. We must embrace a higher standard of living through the teachings of Christ. We cannot go on looking for answers as the rest of the world does and expect God to bless it. He has established a way that is right and it is not the way that leads to death but to life.
The eye is the lamp of the body, Jesus tells us. But the lamp cannot shine forth if the eye is full of the darkness of this present age.
Somewhere along the way a choice has to be made: "Will I forsake my desires from this world, or will I cling to them?" "Will I care more about what I can get out of this life, or how much I can give?"


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:56:48 AM
Canned Testimonies & Tainted Love

Picture this: a well dressed man approaches you as you are standing in line waiting to order your lunch from your favorite fast food restaurant. He asks you how your doing and politely introduces himself. You tell him your fine but your day really hasn't been that great to this point. And even though you say you are fine your tone of voice gives you away so that anyone can figure out that you are not quite as fine as you have let on.
The man looks right at you and begins recounting to you a well rehearsed two-minute testimony about his salvation experience. He does not seem to skip a beat. It is not until he gets finished that you are finally able to tell him that you are already a Christian. He looks at you surprisingly, "Oh," he says and then moves to another line.
You stand there wondering what just happened. "Did this person even realize that you were having a bad day?" You knew your mood showed through but it seemed to fail to come to his attention at all.
He was a man with a mission. His intentions were to find non-Christians and bring to them life-saving news. However, as good as intentions as they were it seems that the person got lost in the shuffle of the task.
What would come across to most of us is that this person did not really care at all, he was just interested in making converts. He could have been doing so because he felt it was his obligation as a Christian, or perhaps he felt guilty if he did not witness. Perhaps he is a person who is truly seeking to be obedient to God and that is why he is trying to spread the gospel to all the earth (all by himself if necessary). Yet, something seems to be missing.
1 Corinthians 13 tells us that if we do anything without love it is nothing. Someone might say that the man in the illustration could have been doing what he was out of love. That because of his love for others he was willing to do his part. But what kind of love overlooks a person's needs due to being so focused on a task? It is not the kind of love that Jesus demonstrated. Christ took time to tend the needs of people, to show them love and genuineness in what he said and did in regard to each person. We are told that "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude. . ." (1 Cor.13:4-5). Without love, the best intentions still amount to nothing. For where is it written in scripture, "The end justifies the means?"
Where within the "canned-witness" do we leave room to seek wisdom in determining the needs of another? Where within a hit-and-run testimony is there time to minister to someone's pains, hurts and needs? While we try to get the message of Christ across to the many who are lost, we must see that the attitude of Christ is at least as important as the words we use. Others need to feel like we are interested in them as people and not as someone else's goal to make one convert per day. They need to see Christ loving them through us rather than finding themselves somewhere in the wake of our fly-by. If we are not careful, what people will see will not be the genuine concern that Christ has for them, they will see instead salesman type tactics that have little more in mind that meeting a quota.
There are many who testify that they found Christ because of someone who cared enough to approach them in a fashion as described above, or who left a tract which gave them the "how to" to become a Christian. That's great and we should be thankful. Paul wrote, "What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice (Philippians 1:18). The glory is truly God's because He is able to use any way to bring people to salvation--but that never means that every way is acceptable.
If we seek to be obedient to God's command, "Go ye therefore. . ." but fail to be obedient in following God's way, we are still disobedient regardless of the results. God's way is the way that must be followed. It is the only way that will bring true and lasting results.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:57:24 AM
On Broadway

    Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Mt.7:13-14).

Consider the world around you. Consider the way you see people living their lives in this world. Which road would you say that most people have chosen--the broad or the narrow? Jesus tells us that many choose the broad way and that few find the narrow. Consider the destination of the two roads. The narrow way leads to life. It is the way that leads to godliness, goodness and glory. It is the way that is found through choosing Christ and Christ-likeness in our daily lives. The broad way leads to destruction, death and Hell.
Can a person choose the narrow way yet remain living in the broad way? That may be like asking if a person can head north on a freeway while driving south, it's just not possible. A choice has to be made--will you go north or will you go south--you can't have it both ways. The person who attempts to do so may find themselves switching from southbound to northbound and back again. The result is that they really go nowhere but in circles. If they go in circles long enough they will find that they really do not know where they are headed. But Jesus is clear when he tells us that the broad way leads to destruction. A person cannot get on and off of the broad way and assume it will not affect him or her. The broad way is destructive, and it is playing with dynamite to even get on it--even for a quick look around.
If there was offered a choice of two lines--one that leads to life (i.e. Heaven) or one that leads to death (i.e. Hell)--which line would most people choose? How about most Christians, which would they choose? Maybe it's believed that they have already chosen the line that leads to life, after all, they are Christians--right?
The lost world around us it on a road that leads to Destruction. They live for self-satisfaction and self-gain, seeking to get the most for themselves out of this life: success, high paying jobs, big houses, nice cars and lots of money. If they are on a road that leads to Destruction, why do so many who call themselves Christians want to get in line behind them (or perhaps in front of them). It is a road that leads to destruction! So why do Christians want any part of it? Perhaps its for the same self-seeking, self-fulfilling reasons--we are unwilling to give up what we want out of this life. So what makes us any different from the lost world around us?
If you choose to live like the lost world, you might as well plan on dying like the lost world. You cannot travel south on a northbound road. You cannot have it both ways, you must make a choice.

    . . .choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD (Joshua 24:15)

Modern Paraphrase:
. . .today you must choose whom you will serve; whether the gods of money, fame, power, success, self-satisfaction, self-desire or selfish gain which are the gods of those in whose land you dwell, or the God who is God, who is the God of love and self-sacrifice and mercy and truth. Who will you serve?

Let's pick the God who is God!


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:57:56 AM
Harvest Time

    Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest (Matthew 9:38).

   Is harvest time approaching? Are the fields beginning to ripen? Do we see in the people surrounding us, a people who are hungry for Truth and real and lasting answers? Some may say that the fields are always ripe and ready to be harvested. That this is an ongoing act of bringing lost souls to repentance. But could it be that it is more like the fields Jesus used in His illustration--that there is a season of harvest as well as a season of planting?
   The people of Jesus' day were looking for answers. They had tried their religion and many had tried other religions as well. They were a nation believing themselves to be God's chosen yet, they found themselves ruled by pagan idolaters. The many factions that made up their religious leadership seemed divided and unable to supply the masses with needed guidance and comfort. The people were simply out of answers, and therefore ripe for the harvest.
   Many examples throughout the Old Testament can be cited of times when the nation of Israel, God's Chosen, came to a desperate times and soon discovered that they were completely out of answers. It was then that they were ripe for God's harvest because they had come to the end of their own efforts, their own answers and the end of their pride. They came to a place where they realized they could do nothing in and of themselves and they finally understood their need for God.
   We see America a proud and arrogant people. Everyone has their own answers and no one else is permitted to impose their beliefs on another. Phrases like, "Look out for number one," are the order of the day, perpetuating ideologies of self-reliance, self-concern and selfish gain. The idea that "what's good for you might not be good for me," has penetrated Christian thought as many turn from Truth and reply to a brother's counsel with, "I'm just not convicted of that right now." It would seem that even the Churches are long from being ripe for God's picking.
   We should pray God loves us enough to allow us to come to the end of ourselves (I say this facetiously believing that He indeed loves us even more). When we as a nation run out of answers, become unable to be self-sustaining, and realize we have a need for God--then the fields will be ripe with harvest once more.
   Jesus had told us to watch the signs of the times and by this we would know when the coming of the Son of Man was near. The seasons change and we know what to expect as we see the signs of one season moving to another. The world was ripe for harvest when Jesus came into the earth--as it will also be when He returns. We should pray that God will help us to see the coming harvest, and we should most diligently pray that He will send laborers into the harvest.
   A plentiful harvest is near--just watch for the change of the seasons.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:58:26 AM
Burdened With Externals

    Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light (Mt.11:28-30).

I come from a family of bowlers. I can remember sitting on the ball returns at my Grandfather's bowling alley at the age of three. My brother and I use to straddle the center hub of the circular ball return table and use it as a sit-n-spin. I don't remember how many people were involved in teaching me how to bowl, but by the age of twelve I had bowled a 245 due to the guidance of those who coached me. The things they had showed me to do stayed with me and became a natural part of my bowling style. But the most important thing I have learned is that one must always keep his eye on the mark.
There are so many variables involved in bowling: speed, stance, approach, armswing, etc. And it is amazing how if one area becomes difficult to manage it quickly effects every part of the workings. What's more, it would seem at times that the bowler would have completely forgotten how to do a particular part of what was once routine, practically having to learn it all over again. Only to find out that it was not really forgotten but instead, had become the center of focus when it should have been kept in focus in the back of the mind.
There are many elements to the Christian life. We go to church, read our Bible, pray, perhaps serve in the Church in some fashion, or witness or go to visitation. We continue to increase awareness of the do's we should do, while at the same time avoiding the dont's. If one was to step back and look at all that must be done and all that must be avoided, he might just become exhausted trying to keep a handle on all of it. There are so many things to keep in mind, and if we are not careful--we will.
That is to say this: as much as it is important to do what is right and avoid what is wrong, if we put those things in the forefront of our thoughts, thereby making them our focus, we can easily become so distracted by our good intentions that we loose sight of our mark. Simply put, if our focus is on the do's and don'ts, then Christ (our mark) becomes a blur and He might even escape our sight completely.
The Christian life that is focused on all the do's and don'ts becomes cumbersome and virtually impossible to live. In bowling I remember times when I was so focused on my mark that everything else fell into place. As Christians, among all of the "we need to's" and the "stay away from's," we need to do only one thing--keep our focus on our mark who is Jesus. As we do we will see everything else become a blur compared to Him, and we will notice our Christian life become a joy rather than a burden as everything else starts falling into place.

    Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. . .(Heb.12:2)


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 10:58:59 AM
To Go Our Separate Ways

    Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus (Acts 15:36-39).

When a church comes to a fork in the road, and half of the body wants to choose one direction while the other half the other, what can be done? What would you say is the usual result? Do we see a church who will defy the statistics and find a way to work together and choose God's direction for them? Or do we see a church who is destined to split as they choose opposing corners, preparing to defend their rights and their viewpoints?
Perhaps the fork in the road is not so much a fork as it is a path that slowly begins to become wider and wider until one day the path splits. Perhaps everyone seems to be going the same direction until one day they realize they have been heading close to the same direction, but having enough difference to become evident only after a long term. Like two ships that leave the same port; one maintaining a course of 75 degrees, while the other maintains a course of 76 degrees. They will appear at first to be heading the same way, but the further they go the greater the distance becomes between them.
Such are churches who seemingly have a oneness of heart, a unity of mind, until one day the contention rises to the surface as members begin to voice that they "just don't like the way the church is headed." Then comes the murmuring and complaining, and eventually harsh words behind the backs of members who were once adored. Then come the threats to leave the church if things do not return to the way they once were--or at least to the way someone has determined they want it to be.
There can be many reasons behind such contentions. One such as false doctrines being proclaimed would seem a necessary reason to voice concern. Yet, consider the more probable causes of church dissension: division over what color of carpet to put in the sanctuary, what hymnal to sing from, how songs are sung, raising hands, no raising hands, how to do church fund raisers and how the church money is spent. Would that it were that a church be divided over such a noble cause as standing up for God's truth in the congregation, rather than the petty bickering that demonstrates nothing more than childish attitudes and spoiled brat behavior.
James asks, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. . ." (4:1-2). Truth be known, most of the contentions and divisions arise from selfish want. We hear people stating their view points with phrases beginning and ending with the "I"--"I think we should' or "I think we shouldn't" or "I just don't like it" If we are a people led by God then their is no place for the wants of the "I". If we are a people led by God then we should be stating our viewpoints beginning with a different kind of "i"--one that is submissive to God's desires rather than the desires of self. "i believe God wants" or "i believe we should seek God and find out His direction" are the statements that should come from the mouths of those who claim to follow Christ.
We need to be honest before ourselves, our churches and our God. If we are dissatisfied with the way things are going in church, we must ask ourselves, "Do I feel this way because I feel what God wants is not being accomplished, or is it because what I want is not being done?" And if we are unwilling to ask the question--the answer is already apparent.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:02:25 PM


    Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7).

If you read the story of Jacob, which begins in Genesis 25, you will find the story of one who was a deceiver, as well as the story of one deceived. You probably remember the story of how Jacob covered himself with goatskins, dressed in Esau's cloths and went in to his blind father's tent to receive the blessing that belonged to Esau. And how by doing so he was given rights to the firstborn's inheritance by fooling his father.
You may also recall another time of Jacob's life when he worked for Laban seven years in order to marry Laban's youngest daughter, Rachel. Yet, when he had completed his side of the agreement, Laban fooled Jacob and married him to his oldest daughter, Leah.
Jacob's name itself means, "he grasps the heel," or figuratively, "he deceives." How fitting that when Jacob came to the place in his life that he would wrestle with God, that his name would be changed. For after his encounter with God, no longer would he be known as one who deceives but instead, "one who struggles with God." which is the name, "Israel."
Jacob was deceived in both instances because of his wants. He first wanted his brother's birthright, and he secondly wanted Rachel for his wife. The first instance led him to be blinded by his desires so that he could deceive his own father. The second instance led him to be blinded by his desires so that he was easily deceived. In both cases, the one who remained deceived the greatest was Jacob. He had thought he could have what he wanted, do what he wanted to get it, and somehow escape unscathed. But while he ran from the truth he eventually ran right into it--and as a result, God changed him forever.
Do we play the same deceiving hide and seek games with God? Are there ever things that we want bad enough to ignore the truth, or possibly ignore God? Perhaps we even can cleverly convince ourselves that what we want is in fact within God's will for us. After all, "He wants us to have nice things," doesn't He. I mean, "He won't mind if we do certain things in moderation,"--will He?
If we think we can chase down our wants and remain in God's will, we're only fooling ourselves. And if we think that we can do some things (since we're adults) and remain unaffected, we are not being very honest with ourselves. For if we were, we would see that we are just trying to fulfill selfish desires and are not really interested in the consequences--no matter how inconsequential they may seem. Let us determine to take all of our times we say, "I think its OK with God if. . ." and bring those times before God to ask Him what is really OK with Him. If we have been deceiving ourselves we will probably not want to do that, or we might excuse our behavior and see no point in seeking God regarding it.
But as the verse says, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." We cannot go on fooling ourselves forever. And no matter how hard we try we will never outrun the truth. Jacob's encounter with God taught him not to run--God dislocated Jacob's hip in the incident. What will be necessary for God to do with each of us when we go on fooling ourselves?
When we encounter God, we will be changed. For God is not raising His children up to be fools.



Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:03:21 PM
Watch And Pray

    Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Mt.26:41).

It was the end of a long hard day. A day that, for the disciples, had been filled with words and acts difficult for them to internalize. Jesus was preparing to face the crucifixion and had spent the day preparing his disciples for what they would witness in the forthcoming hours. Now, at Gathsemane, Jesus had gone on a little ways ahead of His disciples to be alone with God. He had instructed His disciples to "keep watch" with Him. But they were exhausted and when Jesus returned He found them asleep. "Watch and pray," He told them, "so that you will not fall into temptation." He continued, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."
We face much uncertainty in our world today. Taking a good look around reveals a people who are trying one thing after another to find satisfaction in this life. It seems so many want whatever way is the easiest--the least difficult to obtain. If we are headed on a course that will require day in and day out discipline and hard work, most of us become weary and choose a different course, or just give up. Consider how many diets are blown, and exercise routines abandoned.
Avoiding the easy way becomes a job within itself. We naturally lean toward doing what is easiest, and therefore it takes real effort just to choose a direction that will be the most beneficial--the one with the best and the most lasting results.
Our walk with God is a long and sometimes difficult road. It requires from us a daily decision to follow Him. It requires us to become disciplined in how we live each day of our lives. We must exercise our spiritual bodies, through daily prayer and Bible study, so that we will be alert and ready to meet the challenges of each day in a manner that is Christ-like rather than worldly. And though there are times when we feel weak and weary, we must press on so that we do not fall asleep spiritually, and lose sight of the reality around us.
Seared consciences and desensitized hearts render us helpless to come to the aid of a world that is headed for hell. We see the pain and agony of others who fall prey to the evil in this world, and we are faced with an internal personal crisis of sorts--we must either choose to be concerned and be moved to prayer or action or even just to care; or we must choose to be further numbed so that what we have witnessed will not bring any personal discomfort. We can choose to come to the aid of another, a group or perhaps a nation--praying for them and ministering to their need--taking the part of the good Samaritan; or we can walk around the problems and hope that we can soon forget what we have witnessed so that we will not lose any sleep.
The boozier on the streets carries a bottle that holds for him a season of forgetting. He finds, for a time, comfort in the middle of his sorrow. What difference is there between us (Christians), and him, if we spend more time trying to avoid the world than looking at it. We spend time and energy finding ways to entertain ourselves: TV, movies, theme-parks, zoos. . . and all the while we hope to find, for a time, comfort in the middle of sorrow--a way to forget the bad and embrace thoughts easier to live with--thoughts that won't keep us up at night.
Jesus said, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." The truth is not easy to look at. It's like opening your eyes to a bright light after being asleep in a dark room for a number of hours--it hurts at first, but everything eventually becomes clear. We then make sense of our surroundings and even determine how to move within them. It is no use to shut our eyes to what we see and hope that when we open them again that everything will be different.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:03:56 PM
Letters

    You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts (2 Cor.3:3).

These words were written nearly 2000 years ago as a letter to the church at Corinth. They have since become part of the greatest written letter that we have ever known--the Bible. The Bible is a treasure chest for those who will open it up to discover what's inside. It is a letter from the Living God to His children to help them to handle life from day to day, to give them direction in a world that has lost its way and to instruct them in righteousness while they live surrounded by evil. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that "All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." The scripture is God's love letter to us, given to encourage, edify, strengthen, lead and instruct. And as great as that letter is, no grander a letter is there than the living letters that are still being written today.
   It has been said, "I would rather see a sermon, than to hear one anytime." It has also been said that "We may be the only Bible many people ever read." Many groups have been formed to take Bibles to all the world. Groups such as the Gideons have been quite successful in getting Bibles to many people. Just count up how many times you have seen a Bible "Placed here by the Gideons" in a hotel room somewhere. Now consider the number of letters written "on tablets of human hearts." How many walking testaments of our Lord are there who have been "written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God?"
   Compare the number of times you have seen a Gideon Bible with the number of times you have seen the walking testaments. Which number is the greater?
   We are to be God's love letter to the world. If we allow Him to use us as such, we as God's letters will be scattered across the face of the earth--a feat the Gideons would applaud. No shipping or handling fees. No fund raisers to buy more Bibles to ship. Instead the letters of God would be placed by the One who wrote them and in such a way that would impact the world in one massive sweep.
   Open up the Bible and what do you see? You will see Words written through men by the Spirit of God to lead, instruct and strengthen. They are Words that are set apart from any other words in any other book. They are Words that draw attention to the God who brought them to be. If we then are God's letters to this world, should we be any less? Shouldn't we be seen as ones who know the Way, and therefore draw others to follow? Shouldn't we also be ones who can demonstrate the use of sound wisdom within the foolishness of this world, or be the ones who can encourage, strengthen and edify those around us? Shouldn't we be set apart and different from others? And shouldn't we, as God's letters, draw attention to the God who brought us to be?
   If we are letters to those around us, what kind of letters are we? Are we love letters from a Gracious God, written to draw people to Him? Or are we letters so filled with stories about personal desires and achievements that all anyone who reads us will ever see is us?

   Who's letter are you? As people read you today, who do they see? If they see only you how will they ever see God and how will they ever be drawn to Him and find Life everlasting?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:04:50 PM
In Jesus Name

Read John 15:9-17

    You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name (John 15:16).

What does it mean to ask something, "In Jesus' name?" To most of us today, we hear these words tacked onto the end of a prayer though we may be uncertain as to why. To some it is a way to keep in mind who's will we are praying--God's, not our own. To some it is a way to attach the power of God to the words of man. To others it is more like the magic words that will make what they ask come true, and still others see it as a way to let everyone know they are done praying--like the period at the end of a sentence. And for some people, it is simply something they have always done. But what could Jesus be telling us when he says, "the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name?"
To do anything in the name of someone else was to do it as a representative of that person. The one who would go in the name of another, did not go as himself, but as if he was the one he went in the name of. That is not to say that he pretended to be someone he was not--but that he did not represent his own concerns, ideas, desires. . . but he represented the concerns, etc., of the one in who's name he went.
To pray in Jesus' name means that we come before God in prayer as a representative of Christ. That is, we determine the will of He that has sent us (Jesus), and we carry the concerns of that will to the Father. This may be with regard to our lives, the lives of others, or something else that the Spirit would move us to pray for. It is a method of looking at what we need to pray about and then doing it the way that Christ would do it if He Himself were speaking the words, but using our lips.
Praying in Jesus' name leaves little room for selfish motivations and godless desires. Taking our concerns before the Lord in the likeness of Christ holds us accountable to God and to ourselves--to ensure that we are praying the will of God rather than our own will.
This is not to say that we cannot take even our smallest concerns before the Lord in Jesus' name. On the contrary, He wants us to share every aspect of our lives with Him, therefore, this too is in His will. And doing so in a Christ-like manner will help us to be honest with how we speak our needs, feelings or wants. It also helps us to weigh every part of our lives beside the Holy Will of God. This helps us to walk in the spirit powerfully, so that we can stop being deceived by the desires of the flesh.
As we go before God as a representative of Christ we express His concerns. It is His will for us to take the concerns of this world before God in Jesus' name because He is concerned for the world. It is His will for us to take the concerns of friends, loved-ones and communities before God in Jesus' name because He is also concerned about the part of the world that is closest to us. And it is His will for us to take the smallest of our concerns before God in Jesus' name because He is concerned about everything in each of our lives. In this, we represent Christ because He desires to represent us. But His representation is true and for the best good of all concerned, whereas if we represent self, our representation can be tainted by selfish desire.
As we represent Christ, He will represent us. As we concern ourselves with His will, He will concern Himself with our needs. And in coming before God in Jesus' name, we join with Christ in His work and His desires for the world, our communities, our families and even the smallest of our personal needs.
So let us go on ending our prayers with the words, "In Jesus name." Let us do it because it sounds right, and because it seems to attach the power of God to the words of man, and because it puts us in mind of who's will we are to be praying. For it is the perfect period to the prayer, when all that was said before it was said in the likeness and character of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:05:28 PM
In Spirit And In Truth

    Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father is spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth (Jn.4:23-24).

What is worship? Is it some fanatical display designed to peak the awareness of God through an emotional outpour? Is it an organized meeting which draws our attention toward God through structure and deliberate methods? Perhaps it is a time that an individual sets aside each day to read the Bible and to pray. In truth, it is none of these, because each can be done completely within the flesh and may never draw our attentions toward God, and because each were described only in the perspective of what can be seen with human eyes. True worship cannot be seen, due to the nature of true worship being something that is done in the spirit. What can be seen with the eye is the fruit of worship--physical expressions of inward events.
Unfortunately worship, like so many other things, is something that we seem to misunderstand unless we can see some tangible evidence that it exists. So it becomes easier to cut to the chase and skip the worship "in spirit and in truth" all together. If certain physical expressions are attached to the exercise of worship then why not take short cuts to get the results we are LOOKING for? This kind of thinking can motivate large numbers of people to "do" worship in the flesh without ever connecting with God in the spirit. We wind up putting the proverbial cart before the horse--as though our worshipful actions will invoke the Holy Spirit to come upon us. When in truth, it is as we come in contact with the Spirit that He invokes within us a response that may include outward expressions. And those expression that may not fit into our preconceived ideas of what outward worship should LOOK like.
If we need to SEE outward expressions so that we can determine that we have truly worshipped, then we have missed the point. For in so doing, we go into worship more concerned with what we will do to worship, than Whom we will be worshipping. Our contentment then does not rest in whether or not we meet God, but in whether or not our actions to worship meet our individual, or collective, approval.
Some say that true worship leads to physical manifestations such as speaking in tongues, raising hands or being so overcome by the Spirit that one would grow weak in the knees and fall to the ground. Some say that true worship does not include any of that, but that it is something that is done deliberately and is well organized because, "God is not the author of confusion." Yet in both cases, what is failed to seen is that true worship is not seen--it is a matter of the heart. And if it is seen only in terms of what can be seen, then it is not seen at all. For we are to worship in "spirit and in truth," not in "sight and acceptable practices." We cannot measure what takes place in the spirit by what is seen, but we can most certainly, and often do, quench it.

    1 Thessalonians 5:19:
    Quench not the Spirit (KJV). Do not put out the Spirit's fire (NIV).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:06:05 PM
Draw Near to God

    "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:8).

Monday
Strengthened by the words of Sunday morning,
guided by the thoughts of yesterday,
we often find our greatest expectations,
get lost within the passing of a day.

"God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (Jn.4:24). To worship God is to draw near to Him. "There is a way that seems right to a man," yet many of our ways are so far away from the right ways that though we follow the path with the best intentions, we miss the road-signs that tell us we're going the wrong way. Drawing near to God is an act of relationship, not religion. All of the quiet times in the world will be useless if there is an absence of focus on God.
True, there are benefits from reading the Bible and praying at any time. These righteous acts will put us in mind of heavenly matters in an earthly realm. But if the righteous acts become the focus over God then what we do is seldom empowered by God, and often initiated by human effort.
We can take what we hear in sermons or in Sunday school, and we can add what we read each day from God's Word, and still come up short to get what we need to get us through the day, let alone an entire week. In fact, a person could fill all of their waking hours with Christian music, Bible reading, recorded sermons and prayer, and still feel empty and dry. It may be a person that could practically quote the entire Bible, chapter and verse, yet he could still have a look of defeatedness in his eyes.
I have often heard others say (and I have said it myself) that they were going through a dry time--a time when it did not matter what they did, they just could not seem to get anything out of their quiet times and Bible readings. They mention that their prayers just seem to be going into the air, and that it does not seem like there is any kind of connection with God. I personally do not know a Christian who has not been through such a time, but I do know that the Scripture says, "Draw near to God, and He WILL draw near to you." And we may do just that and still not feel the way we think that we should. But I once heard someone say, "Some days I don't feel much like a Christian, but that does not change the fact that I am a Christian."
But dry times can come to earlier ends when we deliberately shift our focus off of the cares of this life and on to Christ. Music, Bible reading, sermons and prayer are more easily accomplished and carried out by a soul that has first set their eyes upon the Lord. As we draw near to God we come closer to His Peace in the midst of difficult circumstances. We come closer to His Joy in the midst of sorrow. We come closer to the Person of the Heavenly Father and discover what it means to be children of God.
When we enter our quiet times of devotion and Bible reading, we should do what is necessary to first shift our focus to our Lord. To begin with, we can ask Him to help us to do so. We can also listen to music or reflect on poetry about God or meditate on a verse of scripture to help us draw near to Him. Whatever we do it should be something that speaks about God's person and draws us to consider Him for who He is. This will enable us to better focus on Him throughout the day. This will better enable us to draw near to God, and this will better enable us to rise above religious rhetoric, and enjoy our Christianity by clinging to God in a daily, thriving relationship.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:06:43 PM
The Message Received

    Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).

From church to church, from Sunday to Sunday, there is a message that is communicated to congregating Christians and visitors alike. What that message is may vary depending upon the denomination, creed, pastor and people. Yet, within all, there is a line that can often be drawn. It is a line that separates the message of God from the message of man. And to our loss we may discover that, regardless of sermon and song, the message that is often received is one of "Be like us," rather than, "Be like Christ."
There are many people who do not go to church. If asked why, most often the reply has something to do with the people in the church, rather that the words that come from the pulpit. We have all heard and more than likely believe that, "Actions speak louder than words." So if it were that a church had to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ without a word, what would it be saying? Do the nonverbal communications of a Sunday morning congregation express the love of Christ through unconditional love, or the peace of God by demonstrating a faith that reaches beyond life's circumstances? Does the congregation, without a word, tell an onlooker that what God has said is true and that He can help them to live an abundant life in the midst of a lost and confused world? Perhaps our message is one of struggle more than one of strength, one of defeatedness more than one of victory. If we sing "Oh victory in Jesus" yet we look beaten by the world, who then have we demonstrated has victory over us?
Nevertheless, we cling to our beliefs and promote our ideologies with incongruency and contradiction. Not that it is wrong to cling to or to promote, but that this cannot be done in word alone, for we know what the scripture says, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves" (James 1:22).
Relying on words alone to testify to a lost world will most often leave people looking for answers. They hear our words about the "Power in the blood" and they begin to see a glimmer of hope for themselves. Then they look into our anemic lifestyles and turn away in disappointment, continuing their search for what can bring them what they need to fill the void in their hearts.
Is the message of the Church, "Be like us?" Do people feel that joining a church means that they will be expected to act and do as those within its congregation? If so, the wrong message is getting across and what they are hearing is that if they want to be holy then they need to heed our creed--if they want to be saved then they must surrender what they feel, think and do and become like us. Rather than seeing that they can take the yoke of Christ which is easy, and take Christ's burden which is light; they see that they must take on the heavy burdens of religious do's and don'ts, and therefore feel as though they are giving up life, rather than finding it.
But if the message of the Church is, "Be like Christ," then they are free to discover who Christ is in them. They are free to come to Him just as they are and to be accepted with unconditional love, and they are free to give up their lives in the world so that they can find true life in Christ. This message will help them to find Christ before Christianity, and it will enable them to bear spiritual fruit as a result of Christ dwelling within them, not as a result of group pressure within a congregation, telling them to do this or that.
Belief in the person of Christ is not justified by consensus of the majority, it is justified as it is expressed and lived out in the lives of those who follow Him.
What message do we want to communicate? To say "Be like us" is easy, as it sets the standard based upon what we have done with what Christ has given us. But to say "Be like Christ," sets a higher standard that requires us not to rest within our beliefs, but to see them worked out in our lives and lifestyles so that the message that is seen by onlookers, is the same as the one that is heard.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:07:17 PM
Consider the Cross

    And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me (Mt.10:38).

Consider the cross. It was once a symbol of death, but now a symbol of beauty to adorn wearers of necklaces, earrings, and the like. The cross was a symbol of the end--to take up the cross was to walk a road of hopelessness and helplessness. It once evoked feelings of dread and despair in the hearts of those who lived in the time of Roman crucifixions. But it now evokes thoughts and feelings of pleasantry as one gazes upon its aesthetic qualities or craftsmanship. And yet there are those who still look upon it today with an entirely different outlook. To them it is a symbol of life through the death of one, it is a symbol of hope and new beginning and it is a symbol of the manifest love of a Heavenly Father for his children. Within these sentiments we find the true meaning of the cross.
During this season, we take a closer look at the cross. We consider what it meant to the people of the time and what it means to us today. And we consider what it meant to Christ and to His Father. We remember how Christ took up a cross, and willingly gave up His life so that many others could find life. Christ, "who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb.12:2). And we consider how "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor.5:21).
We consider "what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" (1 Jn.3:1). And how great a love this is, for "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn.15:13). And "Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom.5:7-8). And "Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren" (1Jn.3:16).
So now let us consider the cross in our own lives today and every day. How Christ says to us, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?" (Lk.9:23-25). Therefore we do not look at the cross to see Jesus alone, but to see that we should say even as Paul, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal.2:20).
The world once looked upon the cross as a symbol of suffering and shame. Much of the world around us today looks upon it as a religious icon without considering its implications, or they simply see it as an adornment worn on necklaces and the like--seeing it as not much different than a peace symbol. And though it invokes thoughts of Christ's sacrifice and death in the hearts of Christ's followers, it equally carries a meaning of self-death and self-sacrifice in the hearts of those who will follow Christ each day--giving up rights to personal desires and wants in this lifetime.
Consider the cross. How far will you carry it? How willing are you to die to self and personal desires so that you can live to Christ? Will you say as Paul, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil.1:21). Will you forfeit your rights to a life of your choice on this earth so that God's glory may be manifested in Heaven? Remember once again Christ's words, "whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?"
It was necessary that Christ should die that others, through Him, might live; and it is necessary for us to die to self if we want to see a dying world find life in Christ through us.

    And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me (Mt.10:38).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:07:52 PM
Twisted Together, A Crown of Thorns

    They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him, "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again (Mt.27:28-30).

He wore a crown made of thorns. Thorns that came into this world as a result of sin. They are the very essence of burden, struggle and cumbersome things. God said to Adam after he had sinned, "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food" (Gen3:17-19). As a result of man deciding to provide for himself what he desired, and in spite of God's warning, mankind would now reap what was sown--they would learn the burden and struggle of being one's own god. They would learn what it meant to depend upon one's own decisions outside of God's will--it would be a path filled with troubles and pain. One in which they would still be able to make ends meet, but would never accomplish what was once accomplished when working within God's blessing and His will.
The thorns Christ bore represent the cares of this life. In the parable of the sower, Jesus tells us, "The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful" (Mt.13:22). These are those who have heard the truth, and even some who understand that Jesus came to set us free from such worries, yet they cannot seem to let go of being their own god. They still feel they must take matters into their own hands in such a way that "the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke" the truth that God has placed in them. And so they are still entangled in the twisted thorns from which Christ has set them free.
In the Garden (at the time of sin), and in life today we can see the entanglement of the thorns. It comes in the form of thoughts that tell us that there is something else we must have to live in order to be content, regardless of what God tells us we need. For Adam and Eve, it was the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; for us it could be anything we feel we need to be happy, content and secure. The result is a never-ending struggle to attain. Just as Adam struggled to bring his crops from the ground, so we today still struggle with the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of riches. And we convince ourselves we are doing right--even to the point that we become so concerned with rent, mortgages and bills that the word of truth that God has placed in each of us is choked so that the truth is not seen in us. Therefore, we who claim victory in Jesus, appear to the lost world around us to be struggling even as they are with the worries and cares of this life. And in so doing, we exchange a crown of glory, for one of thorns--making Christ's sacrifice (wearing the thorns for us) of no effect.
The worries of this life are pressing. They will be thorns if they become the focus. Christ set us free from the worries of this life so that we can rejoice in our freedom to walk with God once more. Don't let the everyday grind become your god. God is God. And a mind that is worried about life, cannot be focused on the Life which is Christ.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:08:22 PM
Let Your Light Shine

    You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Mt.5:14-16).

There is no question--"You are the light of the world." Jesus did not say "you might be the light of the world," or "you are the light of the world one day--but maybe not the next." As a follower of Jesus Christ, a believer and disciple of His teachings, you are the light of the world. To be a Christian means to be light--the two cannot be separated. But even as a light can be dimmed or blocked or covered, so also our light can be hidden from the view of others and even ourselves. This is seldom a thing that occurs overnight, otherwise one might think the light was never there to begin with. Instead it is a process that occurs over time and often goes unnoticed until the light inside becomes so dim that one suddenly realizes how far he has backslid away from the light.
Jesus instructs, "let your light shine before men." Although we are the light of the world, we must do what is necessary to let our light shine. The first thing we must do is to keep the light fueled. A flame will not burn if there is nothing feeding it. Our source of fuel is Christ Himself, for He is the true Light and He is the Life of the light that He has placed within us. We must remain in Him if we are to be seen as a part of Him. Jesus said, "apart from me, you can do nothing" (Jn.15:5). Spending time with Christ is an absolute essential for letting our light shine. Worship, Bible study (with application), prayer, service and music are a few of the ways that we can draw near to Christ and in so doing keep our light fueled.
Even as we must remain within Christ who fuels our light, we must avoid whatever would extinguish our light. No one tries to light a candle and hold it under water if they want the light to continue to shine. Even so, if we truly want our lights to shine then we are not going to plunge ourselves into a lifestyle that is not characteristic of Christ. The familiar words, "What would Jesus do?" should help us here. We must avoid godlessness, godless thoughts and godless activities if our light is to shine.
More subtle are the "light dimmers" that are the cares of this life that steal our focus away from Christ. Day to day worries, frustrations, disappointments, wants, needs, etc. are the slow poisons that quench the light little by little, until we wake up one day and wonder where the joy of being a child of God went.
Consider this: whatever you look at is reflected in our eyes. When looking into the eyes of someone who is looking at you, you can see your reflection in their eyes. In another sense, if your eyes are focused on Christ, then Christ will be seen in you. If your eyes are focused on your self, then all that will be seen by others is another someone who is "looking out for number one." And if your eyes are focused on your troubles then all that will be seen in you is someone who is troubled. The cares of this age: desires, wants, relationships, careers, money and just getting by, can easily become the things that cover the light of Christ in each of us. They will steal our focus and draw us to pay more attention to them than we do to Christ. They will push Christ out of our focus so much that we can no longer see Him through the crowd of our concerns. We must realize that Christ cannot be seen in someone who cannot see Him. We must do what is necessary to allow our lights to shine, so that others will see God in us and be drawn to Him to find for themselves the Light that is Life.

    The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Mt.6:22-23).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:08:57 PM
The Sacrificial Family

    When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11).

It has been reported that fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce. Domestic violence in the form of physical and verbal abuse escalates. Runaways, teenage pregnancies, adolescent suicides, substance abuse. . .the list goes on. People begin building families with high ideals and glorious visions of the perfect family. A man and a women profess and undying love--'til death do they part--only to wake up to a cold, hard reality of life and the work that is involved in building a new life with another. And so what began as a dream begins to seem more like a nightmare, and everyone involved takes a beating of sorts.
There is a common belief of our culture that "You can have it all!" An extreme (and I mean extreme) emphasis is placed upon what the individual can get out of life. It is taught to us at the time we are children, and is carried within us into our adult years. It is the mentality that "I should be able to have what I want," or "Don't I have the right to be happy?" But it is a subtle lie straight from hell. It deceives us and holds us prisoner to a childish, selfish way of thinking, keeping us from really ever growing up. Instead of maturing toward ideals that include selflessness, sacrifice and commitment, our culture has been impregnated with beliefs that stem from self-centeredness, greed and deceit.
The mentality of "I deserve" this or that has crept in and great expectations are being placed on the others to fulfill the desires and dreams of the self. And when the other person cannot live up to those expectations, the mentality shifts from "I deserve this" to "I deserve better."
Consider the modern American family. Each person is so busy with his or her own thing that they seldom have any time for anyone else. Are the things of our lives more important to us than the people in our lives? It would certainly appear so to a child or spouse who is dropped further and further on one person's list of priorities. It may be completely unintentional, but if not kept in check, all the things we "have to do" will crowd out the people we have swore to love.
Once the time factor is conquered, that is to say, once we get to where we determine that people are far more important than all the things we think must be done, then we face a greater challenge. We must characterize the love of Christ for each other by giving up the rights of the self. We have to drop the ideals of "I deserve" and begin to say "How can I serve?"
The sacrificial family is one that looks out for the interest of the others more than the interests of the self. It is one where members are not burdened by what others expect them to be, but where they are loved for who they are, and where they are given time to mature and become what God would have them to be. It is one where children are nurtured, taught and understood. And it is one where parents have grown up and taken responsibility for their decisions, and have abandoned childish and self-serving thoughts, and realize they must live in reality with real and flawed human beings, rather than living in a fantasy where everyone is exactly as they would have them to be.
There are many troubles in the family today. Yet I am confident that if we sought to become as Christ within our families, extending a sacrificial love to each other, then we would see families come together once more. It's time we grow up and stop fighting, and stop splitting our families because we cannot have everything the way we want it.

    When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:09:37 PM
The Leadership of Love

    Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself (Eph. 5:25-27).

There is a God given structure within the household in which God has made the husband the head. Like it or not, gentlemen, you are the leader of your home. Yet this is not something to be taken lightly, nor is it something to be lorded over the other members. Consider the example of Christ and how husbands are to love their wives (and family) just as Christ has loved the church. It is a sacrificial love. It is a leadership that is selfless and one that keeps the best interest of the whole family at heart. Christ did not use his position of authority to fulfill his own desires, instead He humbled Himself to God and allowed God to accomplish his purpose through Him within the position He had been placed, that being the Head of the church, and heir to the Kingdom of Heaven.
The husband must set the example of Christ's love, integrity and selflessness. He must lead his family by demonstrating Christ to them, counting his own life as nothing so that he may be a caretaker to his family. He must not shirk his responsibilities so that the wife must bear his load along with her own. And He must not expect his wife or children to serve him, excusing laziness at home with reasons of "a hard day at the office." A man's responsibility to his family does not end at his wallet. Christ gave of himself always and He is our example. Although he was the Son of God, He did not see it as a reason for he himself to kick back and be served. Instead He continued diligently in a labor of love, setting out to accomplish what would benefit the whole.
Husbands, demonstrate Christ to you families. In so doing you will draw them closer to God as they see the likeness of God in you. Not through power, but through meekness (which we may see as power under control). Not through words alone, but through actions. And not through calling attention to your head-ship, but by living it out within a labor of love that puts your family ahead of yourself. To lead as Christ lead is to lay down your life for those whom you love.

    Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything (Eph.5:22-23).

When searching out the God given structure of the household, we are certain to come across scriptures like Ephesians 5:22-23, Colossians 3:18 or 1 Peter 3.  These may, however, not be the most popular scriptures due to the negative feelings which surround the use of the word "submit" as in "Wives, submit to your husbands."  To consider that a wife should submit to her husband is not a popular mindset of our culture.  It is a statement that is counter-culture. It rubs profusely against the ideologies instilled in us through our society today.  Maybe it is because of the misinterpretation of the word, or maybe its a question of semantics.  Maybe it is simply that we forget that we should approach scripture to determine what God would say to us through it, rather than what society says about it.
But even as the husband's role is defined through love and self-sacrifice, so is the wife's role also defined.  Just as a man should approach these passages of scripture seeking to find how God would have him serve, love, give and lead; so also a woman should examine God's Word for His instruction to her.  And both should follow it to the best of there ability--as unto God.
Satan and our society would have us get hung up on words and fear that such words will be misused, or misunderstood, by the husband or by the wife in such a way that one person will try to dominate the other.  But the message of the Bible is clear--we are to love, we are to serve, and we are to give up our lives for the sake of the other.   There is a God given structure--the man under Christ, the woman under the man.   Yet, this is not a structure of power, but one instead, of service and sacrificial love.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:10:22 PM
One Flesh

    "Haven't your read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

If we examine the Scriptures closely we will notice that in regard to marriage (as with many areas), the way our society looks on marriage and the way that the Scripture looks at marriage are in sharp disagreement. Our society promotes independence (which usually amounts to selfishness), while the Bible promotes more of an interdependence. The church, for example, is made up of many individuals, but if those individuals do not become one in purpose, direction and spirit, then the church will not function properly because its members are each trying to pull the body in different directions. And doing so, more than not, in order to promote the individual desires above that of the whole, or of God.
In regard to marriage, the Scripture is clear when it says "they are no longer two, but one." So why are we persistent to continue living as two individuals? Look at society and determine where the good has come from the promotion of self. People are so concerned about how things affect only themselves that few will get involved in something that they believe does not concern them. The world has withdrawn inside borders, and nations inside cities, and cities inside smaller communities and neighborhoods. And neighborhoods have withdrawn behind privacy fences, and it has not stopped there. Members of the same family have withdrawn to their own concerns, wants and desires to a point that true unity is seldom seen and rarely experienced.
It is really no wonder that the divorce rate is so high. People have bought the lies which declare that you must look out for yourself because no else will, and have done so to a degree that they even have difficulty putting trust in those whom they love. This can be evidenced by marriages that begin with prenuptial agreements, as one or both people enter into what is to be a joining by defining clear boundaries of separation of what's hers and what's his. Two, who are to give themselves completely to the other hold back, afraid of losing what makes them who they are individually--afraid to sacrificially give up what they have determined defines him or her as a person.
To enter into Biblical marriage means to forsake, give up and abandon who you were as an individual and to cling to who you have become as one flesh within a union ordained by God. For where does it say in scripture, "You do not have to give up what you want as an individual," or "getting married does not mean you cannot follow the dreams you had as a single person"? Where in the Word of God is it written, "You can have it your way"? The Bible, over and over again, demonstrates sacrificial love and the denial of self. If we are to be Christ-like in our marriages, it means we lay aside our rights and become servants to God, to spouse and to others.
Do you want your marriage to be all it can be? Do you want to feel loved and secure within it? Then you must be willing to abandon what you consider to be your rights. You must be willing to let go of your feelings that you must fend for yourself because no one else will. God knows your needs and you must trust Him to meet them--all of them. And you must be willing to be completely naked with your spouse. That is to say, open, honest and vulnerable, entrusting him or her to care for you as they do for themselves. For you are "no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." Therefore, let us not be a house divided--having a marriage that is made of two who reside beneath the same roof, yet strive to remain separate. May God bless you as you seek to be the husband or wife that God has called you to be.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:13:19 PM
That I Would Do...?

    We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it in no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing (Rom.7:14-19).

The passage above, a selection from the letters of Paul, might not hold true to our many ideas of what kind of a man Paul is. The words sound like those of a man who is struggling greatly with his humanity, and perhaps still trying to establish a clear and comfortable understanding of where one should draw lines of right and wrong. His words seem to ramble, or perhaps change direction, as though he is discontent or perhaps unsure of himself.
It is more likely that he was frustrated as he wrote these words. For rather than being uncertain of what is right, he felt foolish for knowingly doing opposite of what he knew was right. And rather than embracing directions that would draw him into blissful and ignorant complacency, he wrestled with his human tendency to repel blame or pass the buck. Paul was not trying to excuse his wrong behaviors by saying, "it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me." Instead, he willingly acknowledged that he was not above struggling with temptation, and he realized that it was something within himself that drove him toward what he knew was wrong. He did not settle for personal rationalizations that would excuse his behavior, but he recognized his flaws in an effort to pursue their end, rather than letting them be perpetuated in ignorance.

        Are we willing to simply give up,
        because we cannot live up,
        to the standards God has given us to follow?
        And when it's hard to look,
        at the words inside His Book,
        will we burn the words that we find hard to swallow?
        Why do we call Him Lord,
        if we cannot afford,
        the price that He is asking us to pay?
        If we know what He would do,
        why can't we do it too,
        to follow Him, when He would walk away?
        Why do we let our eyes,
        be fooled by some disguise,
        letting sin be hidden by our point of view?
        When the question should not be,
        asked of you or asked of me,
        but instead--what would Jesus do?

It is a struggle to live righteously. It is especially difficult to live above suspicion of wrong doing. We live in a nation of excuse makers, and unfortunately, many of us who are the children of God have adopted the self excusing mentality. The truth may be painful, it may be haunting and it may keep us up at nights, but it is something that must be faced. Like Paul, we must wrestle with it so that we can see ourselves as God sees us, so that He can continue His work of perfecting us without having to wait on us to open our eyes and admit that we are more prone to follow our own ways than His.
What have you been keeping from yourself?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:13:56 PM
In the Fullness of Time

    He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field (Lk.10:2).

It has been said that history repeats itself. It is more than likely that we would all agree with that statement. Looking back through history reveals to the children of God, a world that moves forward when ignited by hearts seeking God, and a world that stumbles when they lose sight of Him. There is a cycle throughout our past that continues today and will do so into our future (how ever long that may be) on this earth. One generation boldly follows God, willing to die for God. A few generations later, we find a people who are content to be their own gods. It is then that God often allows them to suffer the consequences of their wickedness (Romans 1:18-32), and in so doing, many come to the end of themselves, yield to God and return to a path of righteousness. And as history would indicate--the process starts all over again.
We see in church history, times of great awakenings--times when the church seems to have been revived and people become strong in their faith once more. They are the times of revival that churches today look back on so fondly, and try so diligently to duplicate. Yet all the good intentions and valiant efforts return unto us void as we learn that we cannot fabricate revival when and where we choose, but that it is something that comes in the fullness of time.
The fullness of time is the time of harvest. It is the season of reaping what has been sown. even as the crops of a field must go through a process before being ready to be harvested, so the world must also. It is in due season that the planting is done, and it is in due season that the rains come (Lev.26:4), and it is "in due season we shall reap" (Gal.6:9). It is a process that will come to its fullness--its season of reaping. It is necessary for the children of God to find their place within God's process. To continue diligently in obedience to God, doing what He has given each of us to do. One does not harvest in the season of rain, and one does not plant in the season of harvest--so also we must find our place within the process so that "in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
The time is coming, and very soon, when our nation will come into a season of want. The people, having fed on their lusts, are realizing as Solomon did that it is all in vain--a "chasing after the wind." They are only now realizing their emptiness, and even those who seem to have it all have turned up wanting. We are entering into a season of hunger, driven by spiritual famine. For all who have not sown to the spirit are beginning to feel that they are starving to death. But not all have come to that realization, and so the fullness of the season has not yet come.
The time is coming, and very soon, when our nation will be given over to face the consequences of its actions. It will be the season of desperation. All that once was, will be gone. All that people held precious will be lost, and all that they had depended on for security in this life, will vanish. It will be the season of crisis--the turning point for many that leads them toward their only true hope, Jesus Christ. But it will also be the end for many, as they see no reason to go on. They will feel it is too late for them to turn to God, and seeing nowhere else to turn, they will end their own lives--many of whom had once called themselves Christians.
The time is coming when the fields will be ripe for the harvest. But it will not come by force and it will not be a shockwave set off by a man-made revival. It will only come when people come to the end of themselves and learn to quit trying to be the masters of their own destiny (lost souls and Christians alike).
We must continue diligently within the process, and prepare ourselves for the coming storms. For if we, like the world around us, spend our time sowing to reap the benefits of this world, this life and the pleasure thereof, then we too will suffer loss in the fullness of time.

    The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life (Gal.6:8).

    Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God (Rom.8:5-8).

    Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe" (Revelation 14:15).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:14:28 PM
A Stranger's Voice

    The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice" (Jn.10:2-5).

If you do not have caller ID, and you pick up the phone when it rings, you cannot be certain who will be at the other end. At the sound of a familiar voice, we immediately begin to make associations that will stir feelings, thoughts or questions, based on the knowledge of who the person is on the other end of the phone. But let it be the voice of a stranger and we are full of questions more than anything. One of our first thoughts may be, "OK, what is this person going to try to sell me?" A stranger's voice often generates a level of curiosity within us that is most likely balanced with cautious listening and carefully chosen responses. But let the voice of the stranger become the familiar and accepted, and the guard is often dropped. Perhaps, even when it is not wise to let it do so.
Within our world today, there are many voices calling to us to do this or that, or to think this or that. We hear voices that declare godless activities to be acceptable. Voices that become louder and louder until they penetrate the walls of the church--until the church one day begins to somewhat agree. We hear voices that loudly promote self-promotion, self-awareness, and self-esteem in such a way as to declare each person as his or her own god--suggesting they can be all they need to be in and of themselves. We hear voices that nag and pressure us to be like the majority. They tell us to be careful not to be different, radical or to be too righteous so as not to offend anyone. They press in on every side until we are molded and shaped after the image of man's ideal of the ideal man--based solely on social norms and popular opinion.
But these are the voices of strangers. They are not the voice of Christ, though some will seek to resemble His voice and lure us in. But is it possible for we who are in Christ to be lured in by the voices that are not His? In Matthew 24:24, Jesus says, "For there shall arise false Christ's, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; inasmuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect." It is not only possible, but probable that many who claim to hear the voice of Christ, are actually following the voices of this world. In as much as we compromise the standards of God for ideals more suitably palatable to our society, we follow the voices of the strangers, and no longer recognize the voice of our true Master, Jesus Christ.
But who is our master if we claim to follow Jesus, but we yield to the voices of society and allow them to shape our thinking? Jesus tells us that "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other" (Mt.6:24). We either yield to the voices of the stranger, or we yield to the voice of Christ. We cannot hear Christ's voice and yet follow the world. The voice we hear is the one we follow.
Can you hear Christ's voice? What does He say to you about money and material wealth? What are His words concerning abortion, divorce, premarital sex, euthanasia, etc.? Do you know what He says about these things? Do you believe that God's desires and man's ideals line up, or do they sharply contrast? Can you hear His voice right now? What is He saying to you? Be careful you are not deceived by the voices of the world around you--Christ's voice has a distinct sound that separates it from the world we live in. Is that sound the ring of the familiar to you? Or are you unsure what Christ's words are because the voices of this world and this age have become the familiar voice to you, rather than His voice? Who's voice will you follow?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:15:09 PM
Can You See What You Say?

    Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish (Matthew 18:14).

An evening news report tells the story of a major fire in an apartment complex. Many people have been left homeless and some have died as a result of the fire that spread quickly through the old three story building late one evening. Some people were injured as panic stricken people fled the blaze. Some people never made it out in their efforts to escape, and still others died of smoke inhalation while sleeping--still in their beds--as though they had been completely unaware anything was happening. Onlookers stood outside, paralyzed by fear, unable to draw the courage to rescue a trapped child who was sitting on the window ledge of a second floor window. But there were two men who worked vigorously from within the inferno, each seeking to save as many as they possibly could. One of the two heroes died in his efforts and the other was taken to a critical care unit at the local hospital.

The above illustration is not real, but as you read it you did not have to be told of the reality of just such a situation. Most all of us have seen news footage of devastating fires that left many without of home, and others without their lives. We look on in pity, feeling sorry for the victims, and hoping we never have to find out first hand what they were going through.
The reality of the blaze has different effects on different people. Some people panic and desperately seek a way of escape--even if they have to trample someone else to find it. Some people may not even be aware of the danger and so they die as a result. Still others stand outside and are too afraid to help the helpless to come to safety. And there are a very small number who will actually give life and limb to rescue as many as possible. The reality of what is happening summons a response in all--even if that response is to freeze in a helpless, catatonic state.

The world today suffers a very real and dangerous fate. There are those who cannot escape the flames because they cannot find their way to life and freedom without the help of a rescuer. If the rescuer (the Christian who knows the way to life, which is Christ) does not make it to them they are doomed (they will die and end up in the very real flames of hell). There are those who are sleeping (maintaining a state of blissful ignorance), unaware that there is any real danger. There are those who may not even believe there is any real danger at all, they do not believe the fires of hell are real. But sadly, there are those who know the fires of hell are real yet maintain a safe distance and blankly look on as the fire consumes those who desperately need someone to lead them to life.

What kind of people are we if we say we believe that hell is real and that death is imminent, yet we live our lives more concerned about what to do this weekend, than how we can live as a light to this world that leads others to the safety of the arms of God?
As you consider that question, I want you to realize that I do not say this as to motivate anyone to do anything because of guilt. Guilt has been used and overused to motivate people to "do" witnessing, and yet these tactics have failed. Also, I do not say these words as an advocate of scare tactics that are used to chase people away from the wrath of hell into the arms of God as Judge. I believe it is by such tactics that people see their Heavenly Father as someone just waiting to pounce on them when they have messed up, rather than seeing Him as a loving God who desires unbroken, and untainted fellowship with His children.
My reason to write this is simple: many Christians express beliefs by words that go unnoticed in their deeds. People will not believe in a heaven or hell when the person who speaks of it lives as though there is nothing beyond this earth. People will not believe in a God who is faithful, who provides and protects, and loves, when those who speak of such things place their trusts in the securities of self-effort, self-protection and self-provision. And let us not deceive ourselves to think that we trust God for all things, if we know that we are anxious about matters regarding what we will eat, or what we will wear, or what we will do to make ends meet. Who we really trust can be seen in our eyes--within the struggling, strenuous look of self effort--or else, within the peaceful look of contentment in Christ.
People are out there searching for answers these days, (they are those trapped in the burning building), and they are weighing what is said with what they see. They look into the eyes of defeated, carnal Christians who have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof, and they turn away (2 Tim. 3:5), and resume there search for the way that leads to life. They cannot find the way if someone will not lead them. They cannot follow someone who is not there. And they cannot trust someone who seems to be sleeping as they frantically search for a way of escape.
It is time we wake up and really get a hold on what we believe, and let it change us so that Christ's light might shine through us, so that through us the world might come to know life. This is no guilt trip--it is merely a wake-up call. If this should motivate anyone to do anything, then let it be the main thing that Christ bids us to do--remain in Him.

    Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not (John 11:50).
    And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? (1 Corinthians 8:11).
    The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

"People will not believe in a heaven or hell when the person who speaks of it lives as though there is nothing beyond this earth."


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:15:42 PM
Feast Your Eyes!

    The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Mt.6:22-23).

You have probably heard the expression, "Feast your eyes upon" this or that. And though we realize that we cannot physically feed something into our eyes, we are aware of the implications of such an idea. Though the eyes do not eat, they have an appetite--and though that cannot consume, they can be filled. The eyes are as scouts for the body--they lookout for things that seem appealing and desirable to the whole body, and within the passing moments of a steady gaze, the eyes can whet the appetite of all the other senses--exciting them to "dig in!"
Yet, if the eyes are the "windows to the soul," then what is fed through them if not the soul? If we feast our eyes on what is good, are we not filled with that which is good? But if we feast our eyes on what is bad, what then? Shall we turn and say, "It doesn't affect me"? In so doing we make reason to allow ourselves to continue to feast our eyes with expressions like, "It's OK to look as long as you don't touch!" or "Everything is OK in moderation." But Jesus tells us, "if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness." How does this set with the mentality that it is all right to watch the sexual exploits of people in movies as long as you remain objective? The reason we set in front of "the set" anyway is to feast our eyes and be entertained, or feast our eyes and relax, or to feast our eyes and enjoy hidden sin for a season, as our thoughts follow our eyes and trespass into forbidden visions of delight. Or are we always so strong that we can sit through even the steamiest love seen, or vulgar language, or mindless violence and shut if off without any of it surfacing in our thoughts or, God forbid, our actions at a later time?
Why do we feel so compelled to feast our eyes on such things? Is it part of our efforts to be Christ like? God forbid. More likely, it is because we want to do what we want to do and we don't want anything or anyone restricting us. There are many who will say, "Well, I think its OK if. . .," But how many can say, "I know that God wants me to. . ."? It's always, "I think" but never "I know." That should be our first clue that we are being deceived by our own wants.
We say we want to see a lost world come to know Christ, and we say so with all sincerity because we do not want to see anyone go to hell. But the world is living in darkness and they need a light so they can find their way to Life. Jesus has chosen to shine that light through us. He tells us, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men. . ." (Mt.5:14-16). And He also says, "if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness." We cannot expect people will see the light of Christ in us if we persist to feast our eyes upon darkness. Somewhere along the way, we are going to have to answer ourselves a question--do we want to see a world lost in darkness come to know Christ so badly that we are willing to be a light--that we are willing to abstain from feasting our eyes long enough for someone to look into them and see the light of God? If our eyes are full of darkness, how great is that darkness? How will it affect me, and how will it affect the ability of others to see the Light of Life, which is Christ, in me?

    And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye (Mt.7:3-5).

    . . .they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch (Matthew 15:14).

"We cannot expect people will see the light of Christ in us, if we persist to feast our eyes upon darkness."



Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:18:18 PM
The Internal God

        Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (Jn.20:28-29).

Is seeing, believing--or is believing, seeing? Do we, like Thomas, require some sort of visual affirmation to assure us that what God says is true--believing only through seeing? Or do we believe that God is faithful without requiring any sign or wonder? Have we seen that "what he had promised, he was able also to perform" (Rom.4:21), and therefore because we believe, we are able to see?
In the flesh, seeing is believing--but in the spirit, believing is the means by which we see. For truth is not confirmed to us in the flesh, as the flesh is corrupt and will distort truth to suit self-interests. But truth is confirmed to us in the spirit when no physical evidence is available to substantiate it. To trust in the "evidence of things unseen" is how Hebrews 11:1 (in part), defines faith. The verse adds to this that "faith is the substance of things hoped for." How many of us can see an abstract thing such as hope as something that has substance? In the flesh it does not have any substance of itself. Instead, hope is a vague idea in the eyes of the flesh, that can only be substantiated through end results and physical evidences. But in the spirit, faith and hope are not abstracts, but concrete realities. Not because of what they are, but because of Whom they are within. As faith and hope are placed within God, they become firm and secure. They provide us a foundation upon which we can stand and not be shaken, they provide us a seat of security in which we can rest, and they provide us bed of contentment in which we can find peace.
Jesus said, "A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign" (Mt.16:4). He spoke this of people in His time on earth, but how true is that of this generation today? There are television evangelists that would have you to believe that God's power can only be substantiated through the evidence of signs and wonders. There are Christians and churches who agree and promote the same. It would seem that we do not see the work of the Lord and the manifested power of God unless it comes in extravagant, "thunder and lightning," type packages. Many people seem to live just to hear a word of such occurrences, in hopes to experience the same kind of things in their own church or lives. And yet in all of the external alertness to super spiritual activities, many remain empty within. They seek so desperately to see God move mountains, and miss out on the power of God that can change their own soul. They seek desperately the signs and wonders that will substantiate their faith, all the while God would seek to secure them in their faith through His internal workings in their hearts--teaching them that believing is the beginning of sight, and that, "blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
In the spirit, believing is seeing. And we require no proof that God is who He is, or that He will fulfill His Word to us. God is substantiated within Himself and need not present himself in the fire, thunder and lightening in order that we might believe. Those who seek signs and wonders will find signs and wonders. In seeking to substantiate their faith, they will produce evidences of God at a level necessary to provide them security in their faith--helping them affirm to themselves that what they believe is true, so that they can have what they need to overcome their own doubts and fears that what they claim to be true, might not be. And seeking to believe because of what they see, they remain insecure in their own faith--continuously needing it affirmed to them through miraculous signs large enough to overcome their own anxieties.
But those who seek God himself, and not the signs and wonders, will find God. For God has said, "And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). For the incredible power of God is far greater than the external, mighty, moving events--it is a power that can reach into a hopeless human heart and change it forever--providing it all it needs to be secure, without the extravagance of signs and wonders.

    And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; [but] the LORD [was] not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; [but] the LORD [was] not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; [but] the LORD [was] not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was [so], when Elijah heard [it] that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, [there came] a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? (1 Kings 19:11-13).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:19:01 PM
Long Term Investments

    And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' Then he said, 'This is what I'll do, I will tear down by barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years, Take life easy' eat, drink and be merry." ' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God (Lk.12:16-21).

I am one who believes in long term investments, though not in the way that most people may think. I do not give much thought to stocks, IRA's and retirement funds, probably not enough, yet that does not really bother me. While those may seem like wise, long term investments, to me, they remain very short term in the perspective of all things. For I believe that $50 dollars given to someone in need will have greater, long-lasting returns than any interest accruing account could possibly hold. I see the one as an investment in a life; while the other I see as an investment in this life. The one is eternal, as it is invested in that which is eternal; while the other may only truly be of benefit in a short lived retirement. The question would then be, "In what am I invested?"
I may be invested in making money, or putting away for retirement, or making a good living so that "me and mine" can be financially stable. These have been noble ideals of our nation for some time. Free enterprise and democracy have created for us a country in which we are free to seek life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But whom do I seek these for, and whom do I store up wealth for, and how long will it last? In Luke 12, Jesus tells the story of a man who had no doubt invested wisely, and had put away more than enough for his own lifetime. He patted himself on his own back as he admired his accomplishments, "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" (vs. 20). Jesus concludes his parable by telling us that, "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God" (vs. 21).
Perhaps I am invested in my appearance. I may place so much time in developing physical fortitude that I have little time for anything else. It is not uncommon for people today to become slaves to their bodies, and to become so absorbed in keeping themselves toned and looking good, that they can see little beyond their own reflection in the weightroom mirror. 2 Cor. 4:16 would tell us that our outward person is wasting away, and we know this is true. And we all know that dedication to rigorous body development cannot deliver any from the inevitable end. It makes one feel good for a time, but what ramifications will it have in regard to eternity. While taking care of our bodies is not only good, but right and necessary, too much time invested in appearance will come of nothing. And the time that one slaves within self-concern of physical beauty, that which is of more importance (the spirit that is eternal) is neglected and becomes weak, and cannot help the self or anyone else.
I may be invested in my intellect. Perhaps I spend hour upon hour reading and learning and acquiring as much knowledge as I can. Perhaps I will become a "professional student," filling my educational portfolio with a stack of degrees that would impress the likes of the most educated people of times past or present. Yet the vanity of such a quest surfaces as old age creeps in and claims bit by educated bit of precious memory and hard earned knowledge.
"So what's wrong with these pursuits?" you may be asking. I believe that answer would lie in the motive behind the pursuit. If we are motivated by self concern and nothing more, then everything is wrong with it. We become as the man in Jesus parable, investing time, energy and money in ourselves alone for this life alone, only to have it all stripped away in the end. But if we are motivated by a desire to be invested in others then the benefits are eternal--never to be lost. But do not be deceived, it is ever so easy to invest in the self, while attaching a noble cause as to convince one's self that the interests of others are at heart, when in fact, much is done to meet selfish wants and personal concern.
The question remains, "In what am I invested?" Am I more concerned about what this life holds for me? Or is it of greater importance to me, what the eternal life holds for us all?

    Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire (1Cor.3:13-15).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:19:38 PM
Knowing the Plan

    Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that" (James 4:13-16).

My understanding of a construction site goes something like this: I see many workers, each doing their perspective jobs. They are working diligently to raise up a structure that will be safe, strong and enduring. I see them using their skills and abilities within their designated area, yet they are not the ones with the plans. Instead they are following one set of plans which are kept by the architect or foreman. He, the architect, carries the plans with him from place to place, instructing the workers as to the direction their work is to be going. There are many workers, but one architect. There are many ideas as to how this structure could be built, but there is one plan. Imagine if all the workers began building the structure according to their own set of plans--each following his own set of blueprints without regard to the blueprints of the others. Who knows what you would end up with.
Building the body of Christ is very similar. There are many workers. Each has been equipped with skills and abilities to do their labor. And each are to follow the central Plan of the Architect of the body. What would happen if each one had their own set of blueprints to follow rather than following the blueprints of the Architect? Take a good look at the Church today and you might find that answer a little more readily than you would like to. We know that there is one and only one Architect of the Body of Christ, that is the Head which is Christ Himself. Yet, to look at all the different churches, locally and abroad, one might think that they each have their own set of plans--and in most cases that would be right.
It is not enough that we become equipped to do a work, we must also follow the Plan to do the job; and not our interpretation of the Plan, but the Plan as it directed by the Architect, which is Christ. All of our training, education, skills and experience will never make us to be the Architect. No matter what the nature of the work is that God gives us to do, we are not the One who holds the Plans. We are to do the work we have been given to do being directed by the One who holds the Plans. If we try to be the one's who make the plans then we become disorganized in our efforts as one body. The result is that we begin to follow our plans rather than following the Plan, which is Christ.
We within the church are notorious for developing plans and programs in the face of new activities, growth or just the everyday church functions. We look at situations and begin devising ways to accomplish a task in a format that is easy to follow and pleasantly packaged. And then, if we can get the majority to agree, we proceed to carry out those plans to the best of our abilities. It would probably shock us to know how much of this is done without ever consulting the One who holds the Plans. Instead of asking for direction from the One who holds the Plans for the whole Body, we are content to find a plan that is suitable to our personal fragment of the body. We might even function adequately in and of ourselves, getting things done that we set out to do; but as we fail to consult the Architect, we neglect how what we do goes beyond the walls of our own church. And therefore, we neglect the greater work of the whole as we embrace our own concerns of a tiny fragment. Perhaps Jesus words apply here well, as he said, "[Ye] blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel" (Mt.23:24).
Seminary training, spiritual gifts and experiential learning do not give any one man, or any group the right to take the role of the Architect. There is one Plan that was established long ago in the Person of Jesus Christ. We are to follow Him alone. To follow our plans is more comfortable, but it makes our plans out to be lord as we follow them. To follow God's Plan is often uncomfortable as it will take us directions we are uncertain of, and into places of unfamiliarity.
We cannot follow plans that are packaged to meet every situation. God alone knows all the dynamics of any given situation. That is why we must be willing to abandon our agendas, and our ways of doing things, and our incessant desire to bring spiritual issues into terms our physical eyes can behold and understand.
This is not to say that we should lack organization. God is not the author of confusion. But it is to say that if we will see the Body of Christ come together, we must stop relying on ourselves to initiate the plan--and we must surrender the position of Architect to Christ--the Master Builder.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:20:14 PM
To Life

    I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds (John 12:24).

There is a cycle of life in which that which is to live must receive from what dies. We know that in order for us to live we must eat. That generally means that in order for us to live it is necessary for something else to die so that we might be fed. Jesus used the example of the wheat to illustrate a much greater exchange of death for life, as he related it to himself. For in order that we might live, it was necessary for One, who is Christ, to die, so that through his death we might find life. And even as the "kernel of wheat" fell to the ground and died to produce many seeds, so also the death of One was purposed to bring abundance of life. For what greater sacrifice has been made? Some have died and brought life to many, yet Christ alone had within Him the abundance of life for us all.
Through the physical death of children of God, many have come to know Christ who brings life to the world. For a child of the living God never truly dies in that, though they might die physically, new life emerges from the seeds left behind. How many times has the untimely death of one who lived for God, been the very thing by which hearts have been turned from ways that lead to death, to the ways that lead to life through Jesus? The Lord has said, "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it (Isa.55:11). Even so is anyone who lives to Christ while in this world. They are the living letters from God to the people living in this world. By their life God is glorified and honored. And though they die, God's word does not return to Him void--so through their death, new life will also emerge.
But it is the similitude of the death of Christ within us that will draw many to come to know life. For as we follow the example of Christ which is to die to self, we, through death to self, become the kernel of wheat that falls to the ground from which much new life springs up. But if we live to sustain our own lives, we remain intact within ourselves and are unable to give up what is necessary to see new life emerge. If we do not die to self, new life will not result in others coming to know the life of Christ through us. If we do not die to self, new life will not even emerge within the self. Scripture is clear--it is only through death that life can come. It is only in the laying down of one's life on this earth, that many might come to know life. For, "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (Jn.12:25).
In considering our rights in this life we seldom can do so without some selfish intent. To give up our lives is to give up our rights, our wants, and our needs. It is something we may not want to do, or it is something that some will feel is not necessary. Yet, it is what is necessary if life is to come through us.
How bad do we want to see the life of Christ come to others? Are we willing to give up everything (career, home, dreams), to follow Jesus, so that through our sacrificial death to self, others might find life in Christ? What is of the greater importance--my happiness in a home on this earth, or the eternal home of happiness for others?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:21:00 PM
Show and Tell

    Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works (James 2:17-18).

Show and Tell. Those very words bring to mind visions of grade school and memories of our childhood when we would take something to school with us that we wanted everyone else to see. We could not wait to stand up and show everyone what we had and then to talk about it--explaining where we got it, how long we had it and what we did with it. It was something fun to share because it was something we liked, and it was something we perhaps thought that others, when they saw it, would wish that they had it too.
In Christ, we are the little children of God. We have a prized possession in what we have in Him. It should be as such that we cannot wait to stand up and show everyone what we have and talk about it--explaining where we got it, how long we have had it and what we do with it. What we have in Christ should be something fun for us to share because of the joy we have in it, and because we believe that when others see it, they will hope to have it too.
Imagine the look on the faces of those within your grade-school class if you were to have stood up, holding out your hands as though you had something in them, and then begin telling them about it. They would have had to take your word for it, because even though you were describing to them what you supposedly possessed, they would not be able to see any evidence of it. Or how about if you were to stand up with a bowling ball in your hands, and begin to describe a tennis racket to the class. The words "show and tell" take on a whole new meaning when there is nothing to show, or when what you are describing looks nothing like what you hold.
The world today simply needs to see evidence of the Christ we claim to possess. We live in a time when words are many. And unless what we say somehow spurs the interest of someone they will probably not listen for very long. People today have developed, and are developing further, a very selective hearing--ready to "change the channel" if they don't agree or have simply "heard it all before." Words are many, credentials seem lacking, and people simply do not believe much of what they hear anymore.
As such, our evangelical efforts are going to require much more that two-minute testimonies, and witnessing classes designed to equip individuals with well rehearsed scripts to be taken to the world in a "door to door salesman" fashion. In the midst of many words, it has become like sorting through the mail--we first sort out the junk mail and throw it away--paying little attention to that which does not interest us. Even the junk mail is often designed with attractive, eye catching print in hope that a person will look further. Only to be a disappointment to any who stop long enough to look inside, and find that what looked good on the outside has nothing of value to offer on the inside. So are the polished words of a witness who dutifully tells others about a Christ that they claim has changed their lives--when there is so little evidence to support it.
We can go on telling people how they must tell the good news, but if we do not emphasize a lifestyle that shows evidence of Christ, then we send our witnesses out to testify of what they have not seen. Witnessing is necessary, yet it must come from a soul who is being transformed by the power of God. For if the root is good, the whole tree will flourish. And words will no longer be the means by which others discover what you believe--instead, your words will be the confirmation of what others have suspected.

    A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh (Luke 6:45 ).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:22:01 PM
Willful Regression

    For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father (Romans 8:15).

Regression is a term that is used to describe the way a person will seek to cope with his life situation, by a psychological "going back" to a time in his life that was more secure. This sort of behavior is probably most often noticeable in children who do not seem to let go of "baby talk" or behaviors that marked earlier childhood years. It is their way to deal with the current pressures they may face that cause them to feel unsettled and insecure, or unsure how to behave in a given situation. It is in their seeking to remove the tension caused by these pressures that they strive to go back to a place in which they felt safe--a place that, to them, offered true security.
"Growing up is hard to do," the saying goes. From a child's perspective it can be quite frightening. There are the ever present expectations, with interest, compiled monthly and placed upon their young, inexperienced shoulders. They must grow to act, live and be a certain way, why? Because there is a proper way to conduct one's self that must be learned--otherwise they will not be accepted. Within much of these expectations there comes much unnecessary demands from those around them, while much of what is more important goes unattended. For instance, our society places a great deal of emphasis on looks and athletic ability or intelligence or normalcy; while things such as good character, integrity and taking responsibility for one's actions are neglected or just plain looked at as being unimportant.
It is no wonder people are stressed, look at what growing up means today--many added pressures with little real joy (unless of course you have lots of money). Plus you have to give up certain behaviors, or modify them so that others will accept you. Imagine a group of adults outside, playing tag or hide and seek as they once did as children. People would think they were crazy. That sort of behavior is not destructive or ungodly. In fact, it might even be beneficial for us to continue certain childhood behaviors well into old age--it might even keep us healthy. Yet, such behavior would be looked down upon by others and therefore should not be acted upon (or so we think).
Unfortunately, this idea of "maturity" (I use this term loosely), has carried over into our spiritual lives as well. We try so hard to live up to the expectations of those around us in how we conduct our religious side, that we lose sight of the joys of childhood. Perhaps we have forgotten where it says "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God" (Jn.1:12). We have forgotten what it means to be children. Seeking to become mature in our faith, we often lose sight of it. Faith has become something that is equated with hard work and righteous duty, rather than simply trusting in God--resting in His arms to find our security.
It is in growing up that we become dependent upon ourselves, trusting ourselves to be the ones to take care of us. After all, it is something that is culturally ingrained in us--"hard, honest work will get you what you need in this life." And the more we hear this, and the more we grow up within ourselves, we begin to find our security within ourselves and our abilities. But let us come to the end of our rope, let us come to a time when everything within our capabilities cannot produce what we need to be secure and we finally realize that we, in all of our "adult" glory, have limits; and we must face the fact that we are not self-sustaining grown-ups as we once thought. It is at this time of crisis that God's children then regress--they return to that place of security within the loving arms of God.
Perhaps the crisis could be avoided if only the children of God would remain within His security in the first place. God does not tell His children to leave His house, go out into the world and "make a way for yourself." Instead, He tells us to reside with Him, be obedient to Him and He will provide you what you need to be secure. This is not to advocate sitting at home waiting for everything we need to fall out of the sky. There are few instances in the Bible of such an occurrence. Yet, this is also not to advocate following your own plan in how to meet your needs. We are to be obedient to God in all areas of our lives. We are to "do" life, as His children, while residing in our Father's house. And as little children, we are not to "worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Mt.6:31-33).
We live in a time of undue anxiety. We worry about security in jobs, relationships and life in general. Perhaps it is time to regress. It is time we quit trying to be so "grown-up" (for that often translates as being complete within one's own self). It is time we take our rightful place as the children of the living God--finding our security in Him once more.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:23:25 PM
Reconciled

    All this is from God, who reconciled the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God
    (2 Cor.5:18-21).

The gospel of reconciliation has been entrusted to us to carry as the ambassadors of Christ unto a dark and lost world. This gospel of truly good news, is one that conveys the Love of God as Father to all of mankind. It is the essence of God's plan for us established since the foundation of the world, and revealed in the embodiment of saving grace within the person of Jesus Christ, God's Son. Therefore, the good news of God's plan is that mankind can be reconciled to God as Father, no more to fear the wrath and judgment for sins that He no longer counts against us. For we know that "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:1).
The Good News of reconciliation which has been entrusted to us as the ambassadors is so magnificent that it requires no additional flare or hype within its presentation. It is to be "as though God were making his appeal through us." We need not package it as to give it a greater appeal so that it becomes more attractive to those who we seek to bring it to. In seeking to make the Gospel something that is more attractive to those who live in darkness, we will distort the truth of it--sometimes to the point that, if it were possible, the light would resemble the darkness. So it is, with ways that are derived to make God more appealing to men, when we should be presenting God as such that men seek to make appeal before Him.

The Good news of reconciliation draws men into a relationship with the Father. We need not emphasize His wrath to the point that we chase frightened people toward God, as they seek to avoid Hell. In so doing, their picture of God is one of Judge alone, and they do not know how to look on Him as Abba, Father. They run to Him to escape hell, yet are afraid to approach Him for fear of His furry. As we package Salvation as such, many people may have great difficulty coming to experience a close and personal relationship with their Heavenly Father. They will keep Him at arms length, where they can keep their eyes on Him. They will be certain that He is always ready to jump on them when they mess up. When they do fail, they will be more than ashamed, they will be almost paralyzed to the point that they cannot come to God to make necessary confession. They will therefore find it easier and easier to slip back into their old ways, never having truly gotten close enough to God to experience His love intimately.
Some of us tell people of a God of love to such a degree that we package a life of following Jesus as full of frills and fluff. Those who come to Christ through such a distortion will quickly become disappointed and wonder what they did wrong once they discover that following Christ is not quite as easy as they were led to believe.

Some of us tell people of a God of wrath, hoping to scare them out of hell and sin. Such scare tactics can prevent people from experiencing joy in their walk with God as Father.
If we have other people's best interest at heart in our seeking to share the Gospel, one might wonder why we think we must use such tactics. Perhaps we are afraid that if they see a bad side to walking with God, that they will turn away and in so doing, one day die in their sin. Perhaps we think the only thing that will make people want to choose God over the delightfulness of the world is to scare them away from hell. Maybe such a tactic is only used to satisfy our need to see quick decisions for Christ as a result of our evangelical efforts. Whatever the motives involved, one thing is clear: The Gospel of Reconciliation provided Through Christ our Lord does not need our "fixing up." We are to present it for what God has made it to be--and let the Holy Spirit use it in the lives of others accordingly.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:24:04 PM
To Fall From Grace

    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph.2:8-9).
    I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! (Gal.2:21).
    You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace (Gal.5:4).

The words "fall from grace," draw most of us to consider thoughts or questions regarding the "once saved, always saved" issue. To some it is no issue as they hold to a belief that a person who has truly believed in Christ for his/her salvation, cannot lose that salvation. For others, however, there is a belief that one can be enlightened by the truth of God, having received recompense for their sins and with that, have been cleansed from all past unrighteousness. Yet they, as strongly as they profess salvation through Christ they also believe that one can sin presently, and without remorse fail to come before God to make confession and in so doing, lose his or her salvation.
Consider how great the salvation of God that has been provided through His Grace and the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Consider how demeaning it is to the Work of Christ that men should see it as something to be obtained as a personal possession through hard work and conquest; or to be lost through works that are contrary to God. To continue living as though our works can cause the Grace of God to waver is to make the established work of Christ of no effect. Whether I do good or bad, live or die, God's Grace remains and is not dependent upon my efforts, my sins or my understanding of it. It is not something we claim, but something we live within--as a result of Christ's work--not ours.
The "works based faith" mentality has been a crippling factor to God's children long enough. We come to grips with the understanding that whether or not we lose our grip on God, He will not lose His grip on us. This is faith: that we trust that Christ's work was sufficient to pay the penalty of our sins--yesterday, today and tomorrow. If I do bad, the work of Christ remains--bringing me comfort to know that God's Grace exceeds my downfalls. If I do good, the work of Christ remains to keep me in mind that even if I live a life of righteousness, I still depend completely upon His work rather than mine. His Grace is greater than my greatest good, and His grace is greater than my greatest bad. And He continues to say to us, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength
is made perfect in weakness." And we reply, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in
my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
But consider now how many have fallen from Grace. For there are many. Though it is not through wicked deeds or failure to do what is right, because it is not a loss of salvation but a loss of perspective. For there are many who come to God through Christ for salvation through Grace, only to belittle God's Grace through the adoption of "rightness by works" thinking. Many a Christian has come to fall on the Grace of God only to surrender to a life under the law. They receive, with gladness, the gift of eternal life through grace, only to submit themselves to a code of laws of right and wrong. Where they once trusted Christ's work to be sufficient to please God that God's grace might abound toward us; they now trust their own efforts to please God and soon find the Christian life to be too difficult for them to live.
How many of us have heard that it is impossible to live the Christian life, and that we must let Christ live it through us, and yet we continue trying to be what is expected of us? When we attempt to live the Christian life through works, we fall from Grace. It is a slipping away from dependency upon Christ's work, and the moving into a need to "be" and to "do" better in and of ourselves. There is within Grace a simplicity that escapes us. It is the simplicity of one "to do"--not a list of laws, and right and wrongs, but one simple "do"--and that is to simply abide in Christ. As we draw near to our Lord and remain with Him, His Grace is sufficient for every aspect of our lives. His Grace enables us to do right, and His Grace helps us to avoid what is wrong. And as we live within Him, we rediscover each day, the sufficiency of His limitless Grace. And rather than being compelled to work harder and harder to please Him, we are drawn closer and closer to Him, to sit at His feet, hear His voice and simply be with Him.

    Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her (Lk.10:38-42).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:24:38 PM
Manna Again!

    The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost--also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna! (Num.11:4-6).

Stirred by discontent, the Israelites complained about the manna that God had supplied them. Sure, they rejoiced the first time the manna was supplied. They had been hungry and was sure that they were going to starve to death in the dessert. The manna had been God's answer to their need. But as the story goes, in time they grew weary of what God had given them. And whereas they once were grateful to have any food at all, they now complained because they could not have something to suit their taste as well.
This brings to mind an image of a child who has plenty of food, who refuses to eat vegetables or a particular food item simply because he doesn't like it. That image is sharply contrasted along side the image of a child in a third world country who is starving and is happy to get any kind of food--regardless of how it tastes.
Could it be, however, that within such a nation as that in which we live, that although we have plenty of variety, we still grumble because we have grown weary of what we have? This question could open up discussion on a multitude of topics--all of which would be relative to selfish gain and greed. For we are a people who are discontent, always wanting something else and never happy with what we have. Even now if you or I are to honestly ask ourselves what we want, most of us could quickly start a list of material goods and earthly possessions. And though the material realm is a kingdom that rules many, it is not the end of our discontentment, but only a small part of it. For though the quest for comfort in the physical can cause us to be unhappy with what we have, the quest for comfort in the spiritual can do the same.
If having our needs met is the only reason we are spiritual then we are sure to grow discontent. Let's say we find a church suitable to what we feel will best meet our needs. We join it and are very excited about it. The people seem friendly, the Sunday School class is educational, the song service is a joy and the preaching is inspiring. We then no for certain that we have never been to another church like it. But after time, the people seem a little more distant than they did at first, the Sunday School class almost puts us to sleep and the song service does. And "What happened to the preaching?" The preacher use to really make you think and now it is hard to tell one sermon from the next, or the last.
Most likely, the only thing that has changed is you--the "manna" is still the same, you just don't quite like the way it tastes any longer. You have gotten use to the people, the classes, the songs and the sermons, and now you have decided that the church is not what it use to be. After a while you may grow board and wonder if you shouldn't look for another church, with another set of people, classes, songs and sermons. You may feel you need to go where you will "get fed," "feel welcome" or feel God's spirit moving once more.
We are not a content people. We grumble and complain about our churches, the way they do things, the speed of the songs in the song service, the way the preacher holds his mouth (I exaggerate--or so I hope). These are all too often the indications that the question at heart is, "What am I getting out of it?" Here in lies a great trouble: in approaching the matters of our lives with such an attitude, we are sure to remain discontent. Our physical needs will never seem to be met to our satisfaction, and our spiritual needs will seem the same.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:25:14 PM
The Greatest Priorities

    Then one of them, [which was] a lawyer, asked [him a question], tempting him, and saying, Master, which [is] the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Mt.22:35-40).

Life can get so incredibly busy. Perhaps some would see this as a bit of an understatement. Our jobs, schooling, church and activities occupy most of our schedules. Days, weeks and months seem to be flying by. At the end of which we often look back and wonder where it all went. Perhaps we wonder as well, just how important all those activities were, and what difference they really made. When life is a blur, its hard to see where you have been, where you are going, and sometimes it is even difficult to see where you are. And somewhere in the mix, we completely lose sight of what is important--as life that would be lived for God, people and purpose, becomes an endless list of "to do's."
Recall if you will, a time in your life when you would not have even noticed if the whole world were suddenly to go away. A time that you were so taken by another person that he or she occupied your every thought. That person made it hard for you to keep your mind on your work, your school, your activities and your "to do" list. All you wanted to do was just to be with that person. You did not care how, or when or why, just being in that person's presence was satisfactory. And if you could not be physically present with him or her, maybe you would call on the phone and mix minutes of conversation with periods of silence, as neither could think of anything to say but neither wanted to hang up the phone. For even in the periods of telephone silence, there was still a sense of each other's presence that somehow brought you closer.
And then you wake up. That's how some would have us think. Oh sure, the kind of enthrallment, described above, that two people share for one another cannot be expected to be lifelong--yet it is also something that should not be expected to completely disappear either. Relationships are to grow stronger and to endure through the "to do's" of life, but they should never become a "to do" themselves. If we are not careful, we will let our lives slip into the mode of daily accomplishment of tasks, and we will wonder where the joy went that was once held so precious.
There is a song that says, "Precious and few are the moments we two can share." It would seem that life in the 90's has many of us finding it harder and harder to find those few and precious moments. But what we must keep in mind is that we do not have to be slaves to our lifestyles. Our lifestyles are not to rule us, otherwise they become our lord and master, rather than God. Our "to do's" (if they rule us) will confuse our priorities and draw our attention away from what is most important, to whatever is loudest at demanding our attentions. And within the wake of our excuses (i.e. "I want to. . .but I have so much to do), we neglect what is most important (God, people and purpose), to join a rat race that is ran in a never-ending maze.
You may be a person who wants that relationship time, yet others seem too busy for you. Rest assured that no one understands that more than God Himself. He wants so dearly to spend time with His children, yet He gets lost in the shuffle of our "urgent" matters of this life. To our loss, God has become a task to do within a brief morning quiet time, when what He desires is to meet with us throughout the day--to walk with us, talk with us. . . We have no idea what we are missing out on when we rationalize God out of our schedules because, "I have so much to do."
You may be a person who wants relationship time, realizing the importance of it, yet you just cannot seem to find the time because of all that needs done. It has often been said that "we make time for what is important to us." If you are going to spend time on what is really important, then you are going to have to make yourself see the importance of it. Don't let things that won't matter ten years from now, be that which is utmost important today. There are so many insignificant things that can easily be let in to clutter our thinking. Re-prioritize. Cut the list down to the necessary things. And for everyone's sake, let the top priorities be God, family and others. Ask God to show you what is important and how to prioritize, and follow what He says to do. You will find that anything that really matters will get done, and you might find that you even have some time to enjoy life rather than looking back at it and wondering where the time went.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:25:45 PM
Tolerance

    In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to way what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away form the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry (2 Tim.4:1-5).

We live in what many would say is becoming a society of tolerance. We are led to believe that one is not allowed to question another's lifestyle or actions that do not demonstrate any danger to the lives of others. "It's none of your business!" they will proclaim, and then proceed to justify behaviors that bring to question moral right and wrong. And if morality does not suit one's lifestyle, then morality is either discarded or changed to fit one's own perspective. This is the world's theory of relativity: "I'm OK--You're OK" And if you disagree that right and wrong is up to the individual, then you are the problem.
There are many who never touch a Bible, yet they can quote Matthew 7:1, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." Yet other verses seem less popular, such as John 7:24, "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment." These two verses do not contradict one another but support each other as they are examined within the context. There is a right way to judge. But our trouble with the word "judge" is more of a trouble with semantics than one that deals with morality. The word "judge" has become a very negative word that has caused many of us to draw back from situations that may require outward rebuke. On one hand there are the ones who will say, "It's not my place to judge," and on the other hand there are those who will say "You have no right to judge me." One may often be used to excuse one's self from an uncomfortable situation in effort to avoid confrontation. While the other side is one that is to remove one's self from any blame or any wrong. So as we avoid the confrontations, our tolerance level rises.
We must see that to judge does not mean to pass sentence. We are to seek God in the recognition of His right and wrong, and we are to follow He who is a Fair and Just Judge in what we are to do regarding the wrong that is done. We do not have authority in and of ourselves to rebuke, our authority is from and in God. And we have a responsibility to God and others to stand for what is right, and stand against what is wrong. Yet how we do that is not up to us. We are to seek God and follow His wisdom within all matters. We cannot say "I will stand against" this or that, only to allow our stance to lead us. We, instead, are to determine what God stands for and follow Him within it.
Our responsibility to God is to do His will. That may mean that we confront people by His guidance, and that may mean that we keep our mouths shut by His guidance. Our responsibility it to others, in that we are not confronting so as to promote our cause, our purpose or our plan. Instead, we stand against and above something so that we can help others out of there darkness--not so we can defeat them within it.
We are also responsible to not be tolerant to sin. If we hate the sin and love the sinner, we will do with them as we would someone whom we love dearly who might be making some bad decisions. We would approach that loved one in love and seek to find a way to carefully administer the truth to them. We would not approach them as the enemy, ready to jump down their throats. Remember that we are instructed to speak the truth in love. And if we are incapable of doing so we best keep our mouths shut because, in such a case, it is not the Spirit of God within us that speaks but our own self interests.
In regard to tolerance, have you noticed how tolerant we can be with ourselves? Our instructions regarding this matter are clear, "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then
shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye" (Mt.7:3-5). If we are to become less tolerant in our lives, it had better begin at home. We better demonstrate no tolerance to sin in our own lives before we even think of "standing against" the moral decadence of our society. The fact is, we will sin and so will the world around us. We are to approach the matter through God's Wisdom as led by His Spirit, and we are to approach it in a love that has the best interests of everyone at heart. Therefore, we do not tolerate our sins or the sins of others, but we love all persons enough to do something about it in a Christ-like manner.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 19, 2006, 01:26:14 PM
What Would Jesus Do?

    If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me (Lk.9:23).

Perhaps you have seen the bracelets that bear the bold faced letters, "WWJD." They serve as a nice reminder to us that we should consider how our Lord would respond to a situation, so that we might try to follow His example. The bracelets or T-shirts that display these letters can also serve as a great "door opener" to get conversation started about our faith. In wondering what "WWJD" means, people will ask us to explain. You can then almost feel the blood rushing faster through your veins as you anticipate an opportunity to share Jesus with another person.
"What Would Jesus Do?" That question is one most often used in efforts to avoid making poor decisions, or to avoid doing things that would be dishonoring to God. It may also be asked of one's self when we see someone in need and maybe we don't feel like taking the time out of our busy schedules to lend a hand. Then the words come to mind again to remind us to give up the selfishness and try to be like Christ in any given situation.
We may use these words to Help us to become more like Christ, but how far do these words take us? Where do we draw the line in our likeness to Him? We may consider what Jesus would do if He were in a given situation, but even as the Spirit of Christ indwells us we should consider what He still wants to do--not just what He would do.

        If Jesus were here among us,
        and walked every day through this land,
        would He still feed the hungry thousands,
        or heal with the touch of His hand?
        Would He teach us the way of the Father,
        and tell us the way we should live?
        Would He still live His life the way that He did,
        giving all He could possibly give?
        Would He still raise the dead from the grave,
        bringing life where no life could be found?
        Would He still bring freedom to servant and slave,
        breaking chains by which they were bound?
        Jesus would still do all of those things,
        the need has not gone away.
        The same things He did, so long ago,
        He would do them again, still today.
        We say Jesus lives inside of us,
        but why is it we don't ever see,
        the things that Jesus would still do today,
        being done through you and through me?

Jesus has not changed, and the needs of fallen humanity have not gone away. When Jesus walked among us, He gave of himself, his time and his energy; and invested himself into people so that people might come to know the love of the Father through Him. He denied Himself for our benefit. And now it is our turn to follow His example. We are going to have to deny ourselves if we are going to see what Jesus would do be done through us. We might want to consider that instead of saying "What Would Jesus Do?" we might ought to say, "What Would Jesus Do THROUGH Me and You?"
As we allow Him to live through us, He is more than just an example somewhere up in front of us for us to follow--He is the person who will lead us from within.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:25:57 PM
Heart And Soul

    Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee (Ps.119:11,NAS).
    Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man. . .(Mt.7:24).

A number of years ago, my grandfather gave me an old wooden, Gibson ukulele. It had been his for a long time, and I do not recall why he gave it to me, but I was so excited when he did. My dad showed me a few chords on it an even taught me a little song. It was probably the only song I ever learned to play on it, and the chords he taught me were probably the only chords I ever learned.
The ukulele is something that I treasure. I treasure it because it was my grandpa's and it still reminds me of him. But it sits in its case most of the time--collecting dust--and about the only time I have gotten it out lately is when we have moved from one house to the next. I am sure it is way out of tune, and I am sure I do not remember how to tune it. My memory of the chords that formed the song I once knew are a vague memory. I would have to struggle very hard just to remember one chord.
I also have a guitar. It sits in a corner or closet most of the time. When I first got it I sat for hours at a time trying to learn the chords and learn some songs. I was hoping to get good enough with at least a few songs so that I could take my guitar to different church functions, like youth retreats and children's summer Bible schools. But after a time and only a few learned chords, I stopped picking up my guitar. And now, most of the time, it is like my ukulele--sitting somewhere gathering dust. My skills are rusty at best. My memory of what I did know is fading and is only somewhat refreshed when I go back and tune the guitar, strum it a few times, and then put it back in the closet.
Our Father in Heaven has given us a treasured possession--it is His word. It is something so many of us, His children, were very excited about when we first began to pick it up. We began making our way through it, hoping to read the whole thing within a certain amount of time. Perhaps we memorized favorite verses, and even committed daily to sit down in a morning quiet time to read and study the Word. But for one reason or another, our skills have become rusty. Perhaps the practicing of the Word became too difficult, time consuming or tedious. Perhaps we just lost interest somewhere along the way, but cannot recall when that was. And now, the Bible we treasure still reminds us of the One who gave it to us, but it spends most of the time sitting--unopened and collecting dust.
There are many, however, who still pick up God's Word daily to read it and perhaps even memorize a verse or two. But for many of them, perhaps it is obligatory--like a child being forced to learn the piano--they're present, but their heart just is not in it.
We can't all play the ukulele, the guitar, or the piano--or at least play skillfully. But there is one thing all of us who are children of God can do, we can become skilled in God's Word, learning how to apply it to our lives and making it a very real and vital part of who we are. We can "practice" the Bible each day with a desire to become better and better--learning more and more of its "chords" and sharpening the skills we have already learned. We can even become good enough to use our skills to minister to others--like the playing of a song to soothe a wounded heart, our knowledge of God's Word can help others in their darkest hours. If we practice long and hard, we might discover that reading and applying God's Word is not a tedious task but actually a joy. We might learn that any thoughts we have ever had that we would "never understand" or learn His Word were mistaken. And we might discover that what it takes to become skilled in God's Word is really no different than what it takes to become a great pianist--it is all a matter of what you put into it--it is all a matter of heart and soul.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:26:41 PM
Of Greater Influence

    These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, whey you lie down and when you get up (Deut.6:6-7).

Parental pains and parenting problems may be perpetuated by paranoia. Then again--maybe not. None the less, being a parent is not easy. It is a job we first take on with no experience and little training. Many of us go into it with less instruction than is required to take a driver's test. And we do so often simply because we want to be a mommy or daddy--not fully realizing the implications of just such a commitment. Not fully understanding the responsibility, trials and fears that will accompany our love for our children. And whether we consider it being anxious or just being concerned, most parents will readily confess that they often fear for their children.
Are those fears substantiated? You will have to answer that question for yourself, and only truly answer it once you have been or are a parent. For we know that we have many fears that are unsubstantiated, but also many that are substantiated. I watch my son climb a tree like I once did and it makes me nervous. Is that unsubstantiated? I still don't know the answer to that one. Nevertheless, I still get nervous and fear for his safety, and I try to let go of him a little more each day, entrusting him into God's capable Hands. But that's not always easy.
While parents have many fears for their children, perhaps one of the greatest fears is in regard to how others will influence our children. Within the child's early years many of them spend a great deal of their time with a baby sitter. It is soon thereafter that they are enrolled in school and surrounded by more people than they have come into contact with within the short span of their lifetime. Their teenage years are filled with trying to find their place to fit in and peer pressure becomes a strong motivating force in their lives. Throughout their lives, they will be exposed to beliefs, thinking and viewpoints through their contact with others, with television, movies, music, books, with school, church, and work. Within all of this we hope they will be levelheaded and listen to the right influences, while turning away from the bad.
So what determines who or what becomes of greater influence? Is it a question of time? If it were a matter of time alone we could all be doomed when considering the amount of time that is spent in front the television set. Is it a question of quality teaching within those teachable moments we encounter along the way? Perhaps, for a few well chosen words at the right time can impact a person and stay with them for a lifetime. But even still, if those words are few and far between, we will wonder, what is of the greater influence?
It is most certainly the quality and quantity coupled together, and supported by a good parental role model who has genuine concern and love for the welfare of the child that will be of greater influence. And as we cannot raise our children in a glass bubble, only allowing them to be exposed to our influence, it is vital that we take advantage of our time with them in effort to counter the worldly influences with plenty of godly influence. It is imperative for the sake of our children, that we have them in church and spend time with them, loving them, caring for them, and teaching them the Word of God and how to live holy and righteous lives "in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation" (Phil.2:15). And if time does not seem to permit, then we are going to have to carefully weigh the possible consequences of our inability to spend time with our children, and determine who we are going to allow to be of greater influence.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:27:15 PM
Of Sound Mind


    Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him (Lk.12:35-36).

Read Matthew 24:36-51

Time will tell, and usually does, whether the words of a prophet are truth or nothing but vain ramblings. There are some in our world who with the best intentions proclaim that God has revealed the date of His return. These people often manage to draw many to follow them to a place where they will be ready for Jesus to come and gather them home. But to their sorrow, they discover their error and leave perplexed--wondering where they went wrong with their interpretation of the signs of the times.
As the end approaches, Jesus warns, "At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, there he is! do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect--if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time" (Mark 13:21-23). Again He tells us, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" (Mt.24:36). Of these matters, Jesus warns us, "Watch out that know one deceives you" and "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come" (Mt.24:42).
"Therefore watch," Jesus says, conveying to us the importance of being ready and alert. It is a statement of urgency and exhortation. "Be on your guard." Be ready, watch, be alert and do not be deceived. There are two sides to this coin, we are either as Noah in the days before the flood, preparing for what was to come and watching for the signs of the Lord's movement; or we are as the people who continued to live life as "business as usual." Those are they who shunned the truth--choosing to live in blissful ignorance because the truth was something they would not tolerate.
As we live our day to day, perhaps it slips our minds that Jesus is coming back. Maybe we have fallen into doing life as "business as usual," and have become slack in our preparations for the inevitable. Perhaps we prefer the blissful ignorance over the painful truth of coming storms, lives lost and certain disruption of our way of life. None the less, the day approaches and soon will be. And what shall we say to God when we stand before Him to confess our belief in Him, after living a life as though He was never coming back.
Many of us have already, or will, make preparations for the time we will leave this earth. Considering what we will leave behind for our loved ones is a sobering and serious venture, one in which we must attest to our being of sound mind. It is a preparation for an end. Most of us do not go around in denial, pretending that we will never someday die. To do so would pretty much nullify our claim to be of sound mind, and our last will and testament would not likely hold up if it were strongly contested. And while we may consider it a bit crazy for someone to live their life as though they are immortal, we do not make the same judgment of those who live as though Christ will never come again, because that would probably be the majority of us. For we do not truly watch for His coming, and we do not make preparations for it. Instead, we go on living our daily lives--"business as usual"--living a denial of the truth, even while professing that truth. If we were really of sound mind, knowing that Christ could come tomorrow, we would live as though it were truth. But we have settled to become a part of the large and silent mass and there is no longer anyone to proclaim the truth of the coming "floods."
Can you think of someone who is urgently proclaiming the coming of the end? Is it a wacko? Is it a preacher? Is it you?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:27:47 PM
Silent Pondering

    But Mary kept all these things, and pondered [them] in her heart
    (Luke 2:19).

There are those things we would proclaim upon house and mountain top, wanting everyone to know what we know and share in our excitement. And there are those things that we quietly treasure within our hearts, like some special sentimental secret which reveals itself only through the glimmer in our eyes. Mary observed the reactions of the shepherds to the birth of Jesus, and she marked well the many words, events and jubilant expressions that accompanied. And she "kept all these things," and treasured them, "and pondered them in her heart."
It is a very special love that exists between us and our Lord. There are many aspects of our times with God that we cannot wait to share with others. We look forward to telling others about some new thing God has revealed to us, or some new way God has moved within our lives. It is, after all, and encouragement to others and to us when we come together to share excitements over a common love we have for Jesus.
But every morsel of truth is not necessarily meant for public knowledge, and every movement of God does not have to immediately be moved beyond the confines of our personal relationship with Him. There are those times when what God allows us to be a part of is something that He would have us keep and "ponder them" in our hearts. Within any close relationship, there are those things that are kept within a small and intimate circle. It is then nurtured and grows and soon flourishes beyond expectation.
What God gives to us is sometimes meant to be a small piece of a greater whole. It is meant to be preliminary to things to come, as well as being laid upon things already present. It is a process of the revelation of God's will and desire in our lives. To ponder it is to allow it to unfold. We are not always meant to act upon it immediately or to proclaim it loudly. But sometimes, we are simply meant to take it in, think about it, pray and wait upon the Lord to fully develop our understanding.
Some things are meant to stay between us and God. Those things will be like a rose bud on a stem, concealing a beautiful secret that it is not quite ready to share. Much of God's work in our lives is part of the ongoing process, and much of it requires our patience and the necessary time to allow the rose bud to become the rose. While we would not want to keep the rose bud forever closed, we would also not want to rush the process of it's opening.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:28:21 PM
Clothed In Christ

    You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Gal.3:26).

Read Galatians 3:26-4:20

A friend of mine told me a story of a time he went to a Baptist church, where one Sunday, there was a baptism service being held. The pastor began to tell everyone that baptism has no real significant meaning, but that it is only something done to enter the membership of the church. I could not believe what I was hearing. I have attended a number of Baptist churches and I have never heard such a statement. In fact, most Baptist churches spell out the significance of Baptism in their church doctrine, and it goes far beyond a ritualistic right of passage into church membership.
Could it be we are coming to an age where we will no longer think it is necessary to baptize new believers? Most assuredly so. For it is only a matter of a simple following of suit. The reason such important sacraments could be easily set aside is that they have already been set aside in the heart. The writer of Galatians tells us that "you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." It stands to reason that a generation who have clothed themselves like the world would see no reason to clothe themselves in Christ. After all, who puts on two sets of clothing?
To some, Baptism is a step in the salvation process. To others, it is a outward expression of and inward happening. For many, it is the identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. For Jesus, it was so that all righteousness might be fulfilled (Mt.3:15).
Our believing in God concerning Christ identifies us with Abraham who "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." We are made righteous through our faith in Christ because we have believed God, that Christ is the way to salvation for all of us, and that salvation is as secure as He that has offered it is faithful.
When a baby is born, one of the first things we do is put clothes on the baby. Clothes that we have picked out with and excitement and love for the new child. When Jesus came up from the baptismal waters, God said "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." When we are baptized in Christ we are clothed in Christ and are thereby identified as God's child. And just like the new child in the maternity ward, we too shall be taken home to be with our Father.
Baptism can mean a great deal to us, or it can mean almost nothing. The condition of one's heart will determine which. For if someone desires to be clothed in Christ yet continues identifying with the world, then he is trying to wear two sets of clothing. This will get quite uncomfortable and will lead him to eventually remove the set of clothing that is not worn closest to his heart. To the one who sees baptism as nothing more than right of passage, he will not identify himself with Christ as a child of God. To the one who sees baptism as very significant and somewhat mysterious, he will continue to discover the awe-inspiring implications of what it means to be clothed in Christ and identified as a child of God--one day to be taken home to be with the Father.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:28:56 PM
Stretching

    Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest into your souls. For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light (Mt.11:28-30).

A dear friend of mind has often referred to trials and tribulations as "growing times." These words are often accompanied with a deep sigh that rings of the weariness experienced within such times. They are times we do not particularly want to endure. Nevertheless, we know there is no way to get around them--except to go through them.
The weary times can stretch us so thin, that we fear we will snap somewhere in the middle if things keep going the way they are. We become so fatigued by our life circumstances that just a little thinking is something that seems to be to much to do. And it is just when we think we cannot take any more that one of two things usually happens. Either something is added to our load and we learn that we can take more than we thought, or we come to the end of our burden to find a much anticipated rest. Regardless, we do find our rest, and within it--we find God.
It is a wonderful Sabbath rest. It is the walk in the garden in the cool of the day. It is the time when the work and weariness is finally at an end and we can take a long deep breath, relax, and just be with Him. We do not purpose to find rest, and therefore we do not arrange our circumstances to bring about the Sabbath rest. But we discover that rest only after the work is done. It is a reward to those who seek no reward. It is a taking of pleasure in looking back and knowing you did well within your struggle.
But before that kind of rest is reached, we will most assuredly be stretched. It is the picture of our arms spread as wide as they can be. One hand holds that which we must release to put behind us, while the other hand strains to grasp that which must be held. We try to hold on to both to feel secure but we cannot truly enter into the rest until we let go of what must be put behind.
The things that must be put behind differ for each of us. Some of us must release life dreams or ambitions. Some of us must let go of what we once may have loved or treasured because it is already gone but we fight to keep it going. Wishing for things that cannot be only frustrates us. That frustration can turn to anger and the anger into bitterness. The more we struggle to cling to the things we can never possess, the greater our frustration, anger and bitterness will become. And our hearts will not know rest, for we will struggle within the quietness the same as we do in chaos.
If life is like a jungle, we must keep in mind that we won't make it very far if we refuse to release one vine to take hold of the next. The growing times are there to bring positive change to our lives.  The stretching is seldom fun, but always necessary, as we are continually shaped within the hands of our Creator.
Work hard to allow God to stretch you as He needs, and then, discover the joy of His wonderful Sabbath rest.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:29:30 PM
Don't Go Empty Handed

    Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all [was] vanity and vexation of spirit, and [there was] no profit under the sun
    (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

We have each been given two hands. With our hands we greet strangers with a friendly handshake, we open doors on buildings and cars, we pick things up and we put things down. With our hands we embrace what is dear to us, and with our hands we push away what we do not like. But two hands are all we have, and they will only hold so much. So we must choose what we will hold and of what we will let go.
We come into the world empty handed. Many things will pass through our hands as we learn and grow. And as we grow, we are bound to find some things that pass through our hands that we do not wish to let go of. We embrace them and decide that we will hold on to these things while continuing to try out new things.
But there comes a time of letting go. We may choose to hold on to what is most pleasing and let go of those things that do not bring as much pleasure. Nevertheless, we cannot hold onto it all.
It is obvious that by hanging onto some things that we will miss out on some others. We might even become afraid of what we will miss out on and never really hang on to anything, only to discover that we let something of value slip through our fingers.
We are continuously letting go of one thing while clinging to another. It is kind of like musical chairs in some cases, as we quickly move from one chair to the next, ready to settle into one chair but cautiously moving forward. And we hope that when the music stops that we will have what we want.
But God gave us two hands--only two hands--why not more? Like anything else, God has given us what is needed and therefore we can say that it is because we do not need any more than two. But and if He did, think of all the extra things we could hold on to. Think of all the things we could try to cling to while at the same time clinging to our Heavenly Father.
But even with two hands, perhaps we can hold on to the Father and also to something else. Yes, and indeed we do. But what is it we try to hold on to, and is it meant to be held on to, and can it go with us into God's Kingdom? Consider what things we hold on to and then consider how far they will go--will they make it to Heaven?
Perhaps if we could truly let go of what the one hand hangs on to that is of this life, we might discover what it was meant to grasp. For while one hand holds tightly to the Hand of Christ, the other would be holding the hand of someone who needs Christ. And as we hold that person's hand and draw them toward the Lord, he will grab onto His hand and turn ours loose. Then his hand will be empty, as will ours, and we then can grab onto the hand of another to continue the process.
Consider what you can hold onto that you can take to Heaven--it is the hand of another who would come to know Christ once we choose to release our grip off our wants and this world. Embrace the truth, and your hands will hold more in Heaven than they ever could have held on this earth.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:30:07 PM
Severed Ties

    Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought form death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master because you are not under law, but under grace (Rom.6:12-14).

Read Romans 7:7-8:1

                              Sin

                    Ebony cubes
                    enclosing all
                    who stray from God
                    in endless pain.
                    Within the chamber
                    of it's grip,
                    blackened soot
                    fills every breath.
                    Children
                    suffocate to death.

And so we wonder just what sin is. Is it something to be saved from? Is it something we cannot escape? Is it something we are born with or into? Does it threaten to suffocate us within it's walls and keep us in bondage to it's grip? Perhaps we should spell it out rather than summing it up in a single word. Sin is disobedience to God. But it is not just disobedience, to think so might cause one to think that obeying the rules is enough.
To sin against God means that we have offended Him or wronged Him in some fashion. It happens, just as in our relationships with others, when we ignore what we know is desired by the other so that we can have what we want. It is in not doing what is for the good of another, or it is in doing that which is harmful, even at the most remote level. To live in sin is to subscribe to our Selfish Nature--putting the self ahead of others regardless of what is right or wrong.
Now we know that by our sin, our relationship with God was severed. But we know as well that God made a way for us to restore that relationship and be reconciled to Him through His Son, Jesus. And that restoration is complete. We cannot do anything to add to or take away from the work of Jesus. All we can do is to trust that what He did was sufficient to restore us to the Father, once and for all.
With this in mind, we need not confuse broken fellowship with God as being a separation from Him like unto the separation we have from Him before we trust in the work of Christ and are reconciled to Him. We will sin against God even after we have been reconciled to Him, but the relationship remains secure because it is dependent upon the work of Christ, not upon the tally of my wrongs and rights or goods and bads.
Our fellowship with God is broken or hindered by our sin, but we still think to see this as a separation from God like that before we trusted Christ. It is not a complete separation. If that were the case there would be no thought to make things right. For our God does not turn His back on His children, but reaches out to them to bring them back. Away from Him we sense no need to repent, but as He draws us near we feel the friction within the relationship that is there because of our selfish acts. And we are faced with dealing with our sin if we are to have peace in Him once more.

    God [is] faithful, by whom you were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:9).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:30:40 PM
Guard Your Heart

    When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, "I will return to the house I left." When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first (Lk.11:24-26).

More than once I have left a church service convicted over sin in my life. More than once I have repented of that sin and determined to do better. And more than once I have lost the battle before it barely got started. It would seem that feeling remorse for my sin and good intentions to do better are not quite enough. Sure, I manage to do well at first--I face temptation head on and come away victorious. But that often does not seem to last long. It seems that I have, more frequently than I would care to confess, found myself right back where I started--failing to a temptation I thought I had gained a final victory over.
However, we must first consider the first mistake; and that is the attitude that we will not make the same mistake again. For as soon as we think we stand, that is truly when we will be blind-sided and knocked to the ground in humiliating defeat. Keeping in mind that we are not above sinning will help us to keep a watchful eye open, and to be on guard against the devil's fiery darts.
A second thing that we must keep in mind is that we cannot keep fighting against our selfish nature--we must change it. Fighting against our selfish nature will wear us down until a time we are weak and that nature will prevail. That is why we never try to fight temptation alone. Instead, we turn to Christ saying, "Lord, save us." And we rely on Him to provide us a way to escape. We come to Christ to be our strength, and we come to Him so that through our prolonged contact with Him, our selfish nature might be changed.
But let us keep in mind that just because we have chosen to lay off the fatty foods and sugars, we have not decided to give up food. We can turn from temptation, and we can fight it by the power of God, and we can draw near to Christ to be changed, but Christ did not come to empty and clean our "house" of the bad, without providing something good to take the place of the bad. As we fight off temptation, quitting what is wrong may give us a victory over a battle; but without fortifying the walls of the fort, the enemy will eventually penetrate our defenses. It is necessary not only to be cleaned, but to be filled. For example, if you feel that you need to avoid television and movies because of their godless influence, you might determine to not turn the TV on except for the news and perhaps public TV. Perhaps you will just not watch it at all. And so, you have emptied yourself of the godless influence that would normally come through that medium. The problem is that your person is going to want something to replace that, and the flesh is weak. This craving for want and the weak flesh combined, spell out trouble. But if we were to go out of our way to find videos, movies or TV channels that are entertaining, and have spiritual benefit while containing no godlessness, then we would be filled with something good to replace the bad. The result will not only be more frequent victories over the sin, but our tastes will change to enjoy the godly things, which will cause us to lose more and more of the desire for the things that are godless.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:31:15 PM
Following On

    Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word (Psalms 119:33-37).

“Nobody said it would be easy, they only said it would be worth it.” Those familiar words ring in the ears of many who seek to remind themselves why they sacrifice, or why they uphold godliness in the face of adversity, or why they simply keep following the Lord no matter what the cost. No one said that you would have no more troubles or that God would snap His fingers and make your life perfect in every respect. God did not promise us that. What He promises instead is that He will never leave us nor forsake us, and that He will provide for our needs in Christ Jesus. And with that, we see within His grace another well known matter of fact--and that is that “He may not make your troubles go away, but He will help you make it through.”
“Nobody said it would be easy...”
In fact, truth be known, most will tell you that the Christian life is anything but easy. It is a life of growing pains and hard lessons. I remember one particular time when I was so excited about reading my Bible that I read it on my job while neglecting some important work. Did God want me reading my Bible? Of course. Did He want me reading it instead of doing a job I was being paid to do? No. And in fact, God kindly warned me through three different times and ways. He did so until I finally reaped according to what I had sewn and so I received a stern reprimand from my boss. That was a hard lesson learned. But it was only one of so very many.
I remember another time shortly after I had become a Christian, when while in my enthusiasm, my pastor told me that I would have to come down out of the clouds sometime. I know He meant well, but I have to admit that I resented being told that this was some kind of elated “cloud nine” experience that was sure to pass. In time I learned that a certain amount of the excitement would diminish, but I also learned that a loving relationship with God goes much deeper than spiritual highs and momentary mountain top experiences.
“...they only said it would be worth it.”
The pain and hardship is nothing new to believers in Jesus. And neither is the reward that comes as a result of the trials. You may have heard someone say that you won’t find a rainbow without going through some rain. And just as the world around us needs rain to bring growth, so also it would seem that in order for us to experience growth in our Christian lives, we must also go through some rain. James tells us to, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:3). In Romans 8:18, we are encouraged as Paul explains “that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” In fact, we find much encouragement throughout the Bible as we look into the lives of children of God who realized that the riches in the Lord were far greater a prize than anything of this earth--and they were willing to suffer to attain what God has for those who will continue to follow Him.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:31:50 PM
Acquired Taste

    I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalms 119:101-103)

I am, what you might call, “a serious coffee drinker.” I like all kinds of brands and flavors. I have a cappuccino maker, a ten cup coffee pot, and a four cup coffee pot as well. I drink coffee at various hours of the day, not just morning, and when I go out of town, I am sure to see to it that I will have a coffee pot where I am staying--even if it means bringing my own.
My wife, on the other hand, has these words to say about coffee: “I don’t know how anything that smells so good can taste so bad.” More than once I have told her how coffee is really kind of an acquired taste--one I have grown accustomed to--one I miss when it is not there.
In Psalms, we are invited to, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” (Psalms 34:8). Now, would we say that our “taste” for the Lord is an acquired taste? I would say so. For it is only through the contact with the Holy Spirit that we even begin to discover what the Psalmist is talking about when he writes, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
So how does one taste of the Lord? In Psalms 119, we read, “I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” To taste of the Lord, simply means to walk with Him and according to His word. It means meditating on the things of God--chewing on them, if you will. And it means experiencing God in an up close and personal way as we keep our feet from evil and purposely set our hearts on the purposes of our Maker.
In time, our acquired taste is one that we cannot hardly go a day without. We enjoy the pleasantry of His company. We enjoy the warmth of His filling. We enjoy the aroma of His sweet Spirit as He embraces us in all His goodness. We have grown so accustomed to tasting the Lord on a daily basis that, when we do not spend time with Him, we soon feel the effects thereof.
Another aspect of our acquired taste is that as we taste of His goodness, we recognize the empty foods of this world as just that--empty. In Proverbs 20:17 we read, “Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel.” Simply put, the empty foods of this fleeting world can leave a bad taste in our mouths.
We need to be, what you might call, “ a serious child of God.” The kind of people who enjoy God at all times and look forward to that next moment together. People who, whether we are at church, home, or away, we seek to ensure that we have the things of God with us--even if it means taking a Bible to the beach.

    Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:1-3)


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:32:27 PM
Self Defense

    I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, "The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him." So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer (Ezra 8:22-23).

In recent days there have been churches who have began offering self-defense classes to the women of the church, or to anyone who wants to take the classes. Perhaps the church leadership decided they need to find better ways of providing for the physical needs of the members as well as the spiritual needs. And with this, hoping to give to some a sense of security--one more reason not to fear this life or this world.
Regardless of the reasoning, it seems as though the chosen course of action is one that so closely resembles the same course of action that those outside of the church would take. When considering how one should protect one's self, where is the difference between what a child of God does and what someone who is not a child of God would do? Perhaps we might think the difference is in the condition of the heart. That may be so, yet are we so different if our trust is put in the same self-protection methods and devices as that which others use?
Some would argue that God may lead us to use such methods. That may be so as well. But the question then becomes, "Have we asked God?" How many people who are the children of God have "fasted and petitioned" to find out God's desire and way to protect us? We would have to admit that we know of few such people--probably none. Most of us who take self-defense courses are seldom there because we struggled with weather it was wrong or right, and then felt God leading that direction. How many of us would be as Ezra, ashamed of even thinking to seek protection of any worldly type because we would want the world to know that God is our protection?
The point is this: God does love us and He protects us. It is not a question of does He protect, but do we trust? When David swung his sling against Goliath, he did not trust in what he could do with a sling but what God would do through him. David's trust was clearly in God and not his own skills and abilities. And as we seek an answer from God concerning the question of self-defense, we may be frightened of what He might say because we still have a hard time trusting others or in something we cannot see when it pertains to our safety. Nevertheless, we must not rationalize and quickly find solutions as the world does. Instead, we must first remember that God is our protection and then pray earnestly to Him to determine how He wants to carry out that protection. What He has to protect us is always far better than any worldly methods we could settle for.

    Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. for I am the Lord, your God (Isaiah 43:1-3).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:32:55 PM
In Humility Consider Others

    Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others
    (Philippians 2:3-4).

We live in an age of deliberate separation. We easily make decisions that affect others while only considering the way it effects us individually. We have little difficulty absolving ourselves of responsibility for our actions if at times those actions are most beneficial to our own personal desires.
In Romans 12, Paul tells us that we should "be devoted to one another in brotherly love." That we should, "Honor one another above yourselves." In verse 13 he encourages us to, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn," and to "live in harmony with one another."
If we pursue what is in our best interest, we cannot ignore the fact that what we do effects those around us. And while we might not always make popular decisions, we cannot turn away and simply say, "I have done no wrong," or "I have done all I can." While there are still those who have been hurt, or those who have been offended--there is also a need for healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. Letting bygones be bygones is not a viable solution if forgiveness does not accompany. Sweeping broken relationships and fractured fellowship under the rug does not repair a problem--it only causes the rug to be lumpy. And even once the fragments under the rug have been trampled by the footsteps of time, there will always be something of it remaining--regardless how visible it is to the eye.
Few of us handle confrontation well. It is a creature that frightens us and instills within us a desire to turn tail and run completely away. But confrontation is the doorway to forgiveness, and a doorway that must be walked through if true forgiveness, and peace, is ever to be found.
We have all made mistakes and we have all caused strife within our relationships, whether inadvertently or not. But we do not have to let circumstances lay, saying, "what's done is done," and seek to absolve ourselves of personal responsibility. Instead, we can go to our brother or sister and seek their forgiveness. For there comes a time when it does not matter who was wrong to begin with--as long as both harbor resentment there will be no peace.

    Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift (Mt.5:23-24).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:33:26 PM
A Timely Word

    Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:24).

A kind word. A soft answer. A hug that goes further than the best advice. These are the medicines for the sick and strength for the weary.
It is a timely word, or a time without a single word. A time when all you simply have to do is be present. It is not as difficult as we make it. We simply put aside the feelings of awkwardness surrounding what we should do or say, and just simply be. And within the moments of genuine concern, we will find the words we do not look for, and do the things we have not planned. And all in all we will be a blessing to one in need by forgetting ourselves for the benefit of another.
We often want to help. We so badly want to reach out to someone who has had a rough time or who has suffered a tragedy. And so we approach them and struggle to think of just the right thing to say. That's when it happens. The clichés come stumbling out over our tongues as though we opened our mouths not realizing what words were lurking behind our sealed and somber lips. And even though the moments seem awkward, we feel we must do something to reach out to that someone who is hurting--only to retreat in regret and realize that it is not just words that help, but that the words must be right, well timed and from the heart.
Understand we have the best intentions, but good intentions do little good if they are not carried out in wisdom. If we mean to do good in ministering to another, we must first determine what they truly need; and that need is not as we see it, or even as they see it, but as God sees it. Remember how Job's friends went about telling Job what he needed, as they saw it, and consider how much it seemed they helped Job--not much.
Ministering is God's work. It is something that we can only truly do under His leadership. We do not see the whole person as God does, and no matter how well we think we know someone, God knows far better. He knows far better what is best for them--whether it is a kind word or a soft answer, or a hug and nothing more. It may be at times that there is need for tough love, but who are we to know what is best? Our reasoning is heavily biased and distorted, and falls short of factoring in all of the many parts of a situation or a person. Therefore we must turn to the One who knows best, therein finding the right words to say and the right things to do to help someone up who has fallen, or to strengthen someone who is weak. We then become an instrument of healing to a tired and broken heart as we place ourselves, as instruments of healing, comfortably in the hands of the Master, our Lord God.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:33:58 PM
Fireworks

Read James 3:3-12

    Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell (James 3:5-6).

The news carried stories of fires started by stray fireworks. This particular fourth of July season seemed drier than most. But even with all the warnings, it was feared that many would ignore the warnings and that, as a result, there would be many more fires to come. For even with the knowledge that a small spark could easily turn into a giant blaze, there would be those who would still strive to do what would please them--regardless of the consequences.
Consider the tongue as James discusses it in James 3:3-12. It is such a small member of the body but seems to have great power over the whole. We allow it to steer us into situations that are detrimental to us. We let it exercise a freedom of speech and justify the words it speaks by claiming a need to express one's self. And when the tongue has run it's course, we expect that others should understand our need to say what we think, and that they have no right to hold any part of it against us.
But a tongue that exercises no self-control lives by a double standard. If someone else expresses what is thought or felt, and it is in some way offensive, then it's "Where do they get off?" and "They have no right!"
The tongue is like the fireworks on a dry summer day. If the fireworks are treated with careful control and kept within necessary confines, then what comes will be a beautiful display. But should one lack wisdom in the use, the devastation that results could be extremely severe.
While we consider our freedom on this Independence day, we might want to consider the why behind free speech. Free speech is something that is meant to help society, and bring about good to all people. As free speech is exercised properly, we behold the beauty of power under control. But should free speech be something to excuse thoughtless or even malicious words, then the tongue becomes the master, and the free speech that was meant to set us free becomes something that further enslaves us, as we suffer the devastation of an untamed tongue.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:34:31 PM
Cloven Tongues Like As Of Fire

    And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language (Acts 2:1-6).

There was a significant purpose behind the events of the Day of Pentecost as described in Acts chapter two. The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) was a "one day festival. . .observed as a Sabbath with a holy gathering at the tabernacle."* Many people had gathered for the Pentecost, from all around. They spoke many different languages and dialects, and as the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak concerning the matters of Christ, those who had gathered heard the Word of God in their own language.
The Apostles did not will this to happen, it was a movement of God. And as a movement of God, there was much purpose within it. It was not a demonstration of the filling of the Holy Spirit to satisfy the eyes of men that the Holy Spirit had truly come. God moves the Holy Spirit into the lives of those who are His own, and that is always a blessing and a miracle. But the purpose of the manifestation of tongues far exceeds any idea that the reason behind it is to provide proof to those who look on that one has come under the power of the Holy Spirit. We sadly diminish the power of God if we choose to see speaking in tongues as something to show men that someone is truly saved. Why should God have to prove anything to us--including the extent to which He has changed a heart.
And while there are those who require speaking in tongues as a demonstration that the Holy Spirit has come, there are also those who forbid the speaking of tongues all together. But Paul would tell us, "be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid the speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way" (1 Cor.14:39-40). There is a need and purpose for the use of every gift, and that is not something to be exercised without control, or to be completely forbidden.
The bottom line is this: there are many ways that God would choose to use us to encourage and edify others. To restrict His time and method is to quench the movement of the Holy Spirit. To require His movement, is to be confused regarding who should be God. And while there is still such controversy over the issue of tongues in the church, so many of us overlook the real issue. For there are those who would claim to speak in tongues in a Holy language only to go away from that point and perhaps use their tongue to talk about someone else behind their back. And there are those who would frown upon tongues in church, who would also refrain from giving a word of encouragement to someone in their time of need.
Perhaps we could find a sad irony in the whole issue. That as we would discuss the issue of tongues interdenominationally, we would likely argue, raise our voices and perhaps even make some biting and hurtful comments. And in our efforts to determine the best way to glorify God with our tongues, we would dishonor Him through our tearing down of each other.
May God grant us the wisdom to see that the true gift of tongues is in using them to encourage, to help and to love others.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:35:03 PM
Breaking Of Bread

    And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread (Luke 24:35).

We break bread together as a gesture of fellowship. Even if we do not physically break bread, we often come together over fellowship dinners and engage in time of conversation. Our time around the fellowship table could last for hours and sometimes do as we talk and laugh and enjoy the company of friends. It is with those who are special to us that we often come together and truly know what it means to "break bread."
This is not a strange fellowship. For we have all been created with a desire to have such fellowship. And that fellowship is desired because it is something the Father desires to have with us. So He beckons us to come to His fellowship table and break bread and engage in joyful hours passed in delightful conversation. And God so much desires to have fellowship with us that He has provided the bread--bread to be broken so that fellowship may be full.
In John 6 verse 51, Jesus tells us, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Jesus is the fellowship bread. He was broken so that fellowship might be restored between a fallen world and a Holy God. He willingly laid Himself out to be broken, and that upon a fellowship table we call the cross.
And in all of this, we stand in awe and quite perplexed by the love of God. But this breaking of Christ, the manna from Heaven, should not be so mysterious to us. It was the natural response of a loving God toward His lost children. It was the very nature of God to provide us such a beautiful way to be restored to Him.
The mystery is in the many times that we do not follow His example. We look at the wonder of God's work through Christ, the breaking of the fellowship bread, and see it was the perfect answer. We know that His plan of Salvation brought us together with Him into a sweet and glorious union of love. And though we see the wonders and benefits of His work, we often shy away from the breaking of bread, even though it is the perfect means to restore fellowship with others whom we have wronged or who has wronged us. Through Christ, there could come beautiful reconciliation, but we choose instead to harbor ill feelings or simply ignore a problem and hope it will all go away.
We see Christ--the Bread from heaven--who offered Himself up to be broken in order to restore fellowship. He says to us, "This is my body, broken for you." He did so that we might be reconciled to God, and so we might be reconciled with others. He beckons us from the fellowship table, "Come and break bread." And if we choose to heed His call and come together with those with whom we need to be restored, we find that all things can be mended through the work of the broken Bread.

    And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:42).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:35:35 PM
To Know His Will

    If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (Jn.8:31-32).

Being a disciple of Christ means continuing in His word. It is a seeking for His truth so that the truth may dwell in us. Not just so it will make us free, but also that the truth revealed in us will free others. As we abide in Christ and His word abides within us, we become one with Him in spirit, thought and purpose. Out from this relationship comes an understanding of God's will for our lives--an understanding that is clear and definite. As we reside in Christ there need be no guesswork concerning God's purpose and direction for us. It is a truth we shall know, and that truth is a liberating truth.
If this is the case--that God's will is clear as we remain in Christ, and that there is really no guesswork--one might wonder why we often seem to keep coming to a place wherein we ask, "How can I truly know His will for me?" Sometimes we feel we know without a doubt what His will is; while at other times we feel we don't have a clue. Still other times we may feel as though we thought we knew what His will was, but suddenly everything seemed to change and then we are not quite so certain that we knew His will to begin with.
The fact of the matter is that His will is not what we should be in question of, but our perception of His will, and why we think it is one thing or another--that is what we should question. For as we consider the will of God on a day that we feel close to Him, we might find it to be one thing; while the next day might find us feeling spiritually weak, which might lead us to feel that His will is not what we thought at all, but something entirely different. We may have began to pursue God's direction when we felt spiritually strong. We may have felt strengthened and as though the path was already set, and that by the power of God we knew we would follow the course to the end. But somewhere along the way we became fatigued, weary and worn. Some of the other options suddenly begin to catch our eyes. In fact, we soon begin to reason that maybe God is leading us to follow a different course now--maybe even the one that looks the most satisfying to our flesh and comforting to our lives here on this earth. We then may even talk ourselves into believing that God wants us to have certain things that at one time we would not have even considered--a time when we were closer to Him.
When it appears the will of God has changed or that we might not have perceived it correctly to begin with, we might want to ask ourselves a couple of questions: "How close was I to God when I felt His leading me this way?" Where are we at in our relationship with Him is a good indication of how well we can hear His voice and there with discern His will. "What has changed?" Since I began following what I believed to be His will, what has changed? Did God change what He wants? Has something changed with me? Have I taken my eyes off of what He wants and put them on my wants? Have I grown distant from Him and therefore am being more heavily influenced by the world than by God?
Finding God's will is something we make very difficult when is should be the truth that sets us free. Number one: we must draw near to Him. We cannot hear His voice if we are not close to Him. Number two: we must spend adequate time in prayer, bible study and individual worship. Fifteen minute quiet times are all too often too quiet and become little more than a faint whisper in the midst of our noisy lives. We need to give the necessary time to these areas so that God's influence can be easily heard above the influences of the world in our daily lives. Number three: we need good godly counsel. This is not seeking counsel by going to someone who always agrees with us. Instead, it is asking for the thoughts of someone who walks with God and therefore will be honest and encouraging. Above all we must remember to draw near. Jesus said "If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:36:05 PM
A Note To The Perfectionist

    I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Rom.12:1).

The God who fashioned you before you existed and knew you while you were within your mother's womb is He who knows both your capabilities and your limitations. He is the manufacturer of your heart and the builder of your life, and in His wisdom, He does not expect you to be anything that you were not created to be.
However, God does expect us to do our best at whatever we do as though we do it for His benefit and not our own. And what is pleasing to Him is when He sees in us a fervent spirit that works hard and afterwards can settle back and find confidence in knowing that we have done a good job. Not that we might boast of ourselves, but that we might recognize our own hard work and find pleasure in a productive day--and within that, give glory to God for making us thus and so.
Yet many times we meet challenges and hit them with all we have only to find that we cannot do what we expect ourselves to do. We might lose heart and wonder where we went wrong. . ."Did I overestimate my abilities?" we might ask. But then perhaps we become like the pessimist who sees the glass half empty, and rather than seeing the hard work we have done, we diminish the good from it by reflecting only upon our limitations.
Jesus tells us in John 7:24 that we should "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." Yet we find that if we quickly turn around that we are often the only ones who are breathing down our necks or staring over our shoulders. We are our own worse critics, and we are often the first to proclaim that our best is not good enough. And rather than looking at what God has given us the ability to accomplish, we sneer our lips and mutter, "I should have done better!"
Perhaps we do not realize that when we have done our best and then reject it, we are not only putting down who we are but we are also putting God down. For we are the work of His hands and we should stand in awe of all that He has done. When God's creation functions the way it was supposed to it is a reason for praise. But for some reason His standard is not good enough for us. For if we live up to His expectations yet fall short of ours, we are somehow insinuating that we know better than God what is "acceptable" and that "which is [our] reasonable service."
There is a righteous pleasure that we can come to experience as we do our best at all we do. For in so doing we magnify our Creator as we allow ourselves as His creation to function the way He had purposed before we were born. As God is the maker of our person He is also the one who sets the standard that we are to live by. Trying to live up to our standards or the standards of others will often leave us feeling that we are somewhat of a failure. For though we are less than perfect, we often expect nothing less than perfect from ourselves. But God sees in truth, and as we learn to trust in what He thinks of us rather than what we or what others think, then we will come to accept who we are, and we will learn that our best is good enough, and worth giving glory to God for when we do it. In this we find what is that good and perfect and acceptable will of God, which is our reasonable service. We should look at ourselves through the eyes of God, for as we do we will see ourselves for who we really are--not less than, or greater than--but we shall know ourselves even as we are known--and then comes contentment to be the person God has made us to be.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:36:38 PM
Godly Ambitions

    Delight thyself also in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart (Ps.37:4).

The greatest rewards are those that are often overlooked--and almost always unexpected. Psalms 37:4, at first look, might seem like a statement of cause and effect. A person may read the verse by itself and quickly deduce that if he was to "delight" in God, then he could have what he wants. The problem is that the focus often shifts from the first part of the verse to the second. And so the verse is understood to tell a person that if he wants to get what he wants out of life, then all he need do is delight himself in the Lord. The result is that the person attempts to live a lifestyle that he believes will please God, so that he can have what he wants from this life. An example might be a person who, knowing that God rewards giving, decides to give twenty percent of his income to the church, feeling certain that God will give more to him than what he had to begin with. The problem with this line of thinking is when the motivation is more focused upon getting a desired reward rather than being a delight to God.
But as a person's focus is directed toward the first part of Psalms 34:7 ("Delight thyeself in the Lord"), then the rest of the verse falls into place. For as we draw near to God and delight to do His will, the desires of our heart are steadily transformed. Our ambitions, goals and aspirations begin to change--in perspective at least, if not also in direction. For what we desire moves away from selfish desire and moves toward godly ambition. We move away from pouring ourselves into doing what will bring us pleasure and seek how we might please God instead. And as we do, God grants us the desires of our heart because our desires have become a smaller reflection of His greater glory.
Jesus told us that "whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will
lose his life for [Jesus'] sake shall find it" (Matthew 16:25). Our greatest rewards will come when we do not seek them. As we seek to "lose" our lives, we open ourselves up to be the instruments of God's purpose, to accomplish His will on earth. Living this way will bring us great rewards, and that is because we do not seek rewards. We do not seek to store up treasures in heaven and we do not do our righteous acts so that God will reward us--we simply do them because--and we require nothing in return.
If our only reason to live the Christian life is to gain better reward then we have missed the point. Following Christ means sacrifice of our wants and giving up of personal desires so that God's greater good will prevail.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:37:10 PM
God's Math

    And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to [his] disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. (Matthew 14:19).

How many times does 5000 go into 5 and 2? Once--with some of the 5 and 2 left over.

With our new life in Christ we better be prepared to be reeducated. The way we have thought about things in the past will not be the way we need to think about things present or in the future. Realizing that we are new creations, and that old things are past away and all things have become new (2 Cor.5:17), we should be ready to check our old ways of reasoning and thinking at the door. No, that does not mean we check our brains at the door--it simply means that we learn to "walk by faith, no longer by sight." Because, if we are not careful, our human reasoning will quickly put our eyes on the wrong things. And rather than keeping our eyes upon Christ, we train our focus steadily upon our problems and situations.
With our new life comes new math. That math is not the new math taught in public schools. Instead, it is a math that only makes sense in the spirit and when read within the context of the Bible and seen in the movement of God's Spirit. It is the math that tells us that all we need to feed 5000 men and their families is five loaves of bread and two fishes. It is a math that is not logical and is not constrained by mathematical laws and theorems. It is not a math that is worked out on paper--but worked out in faith.
This kind of math leads us to become extraordinary givers. For as we see a need that God desires to meet, and we see that need requiring X amount of dollars, we do not flinch and throw up our hands and say that it must not have been God's will. Imagine the 5000 if Jesus would have assessed the situation and determined that since He could not readily see God's provision with His eyes. that it must not have been God's will for the people to eat.
As extraordinary givers we trust God to meet X when all we have on hand is half of X, or maybe less. As extraordinary givers we do not consider a need for a financial cushion because we realize that God's math means that He will always supply our need.
It is not enough to ask God to show us needs that need met, we must also ask Him to meet that need through us. And as we see the need and realize that meeting the need will blow the budget plans, we do not throw up our hands and say, "Oh well, we can't do it 'cause we haven't got the money."
The thing to keep in mind is that God is not going to ask us to do something for which He will not also make a way to do it. And as we consider the work of the church and examine our budgets, we might discover some wondrous events will occur when we stop being slave to the bottom line, and start moving toward ministry with full knowledge that God will give us everything we need to do what He asks.

It is not a question of math or human reasoning--but instead, it is a matter of simple trust and obedience.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:37:39 PM
All Together Now

    Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cling to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing [diligently] in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits (Rom.12:9-16).

We struggle for uniqueness, and we strive for individuality. Our hope is that we find ourselves, our purpose and our place in this world. A place in this world that was made specifically for us. A place that no one else can fill. We seek a place wherein we feel that we are the perfect fit and that we are somehow special as an individual. And this is not just a fact of growth as a person, it has become a right of ascension in a society where we have adopted the attitude of looking out for number one.
And it is not enough that I find who I am as a person, a family member or even a Christian; I will strive so that others will also see my importance and all that there is that makes me a special and unique individual. While many would say that there is nothing wrong with such behavior, we should not overlook the fact that as we strive for independence and individuality, our focus becomes more and more self-centered. So much so that it becomes harder and harder to truly see things from anther's point of view, or perhaps even suffer with them when they suffer or be joyful when they are joyful.
It seems to be the trend to find creative ways to build one's self-esteem. And while it is necessary for us not to see ourselves as less than we are, it is also dangerous to overinflate our personal viewpoints of ourselves to an extreme and idealistic distorted level. What's more is that we should not think we need to find ways to boost ourselves and our self worth, it seems to be a natural tendency to promote one's self or to even distort the truth in favor of a better reflection of who we are. We seem to naturally gravitate toward whatever is good for the self while neglecting our effect on the whole of society, or even on those closest to us.
We are not an island. Yet we live our lives acting as if what we do or say carries very little weight. But if we stop being so narrow-minded, looking solely to our own existence as though we are the center of the universe, we might discover that we are just a small part of a much greater whole. We are responsible for far more than just ourselves, for everything we say or do ripples outwardly into the lives of those around us. No where does God say to us that He wants us to do as we please or that we should go out and build a life and lifestyle that is centered around ourselves. Instead, we are frequently instructed that we should "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Phil.2:3-4).
We are all together. And what one does affects the others. There is no escaping that and there is no shirking of the responsibility we have to care for each other, and to see that every decision we make weighs in the balance of all things and in all lives. Our first need is to stop living as though we were put on this earth to live as an individual. While we are an individual, we hold a place in the greater whole. And it is necessary for us to function properly within our place for the good of all people. Ask God to help us to see the greater whole, and to show us ways to serve others and to move away from serving self.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:38:09 PM
Learning How

    In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work (2 Tim.2:20-21).

A young boy observes his dad fixing the car. The father asks the boy to hand him certain tools, and explains to the boy which tool is which and patiently waits while the boy finds the tool. Once the boy gives his father the tool, the father then begins to explain the tool's purpose, and how each tool is shaped for a specific function. The boy watches intently while the father uses the tool, and by watching his father he learns something that will one day help him to work even as his father works.
As God's children, we are both the tool and the child looking on. As a tool, we are shaped for a specific function. We are designed with a purpose in mind--for a specific function in life and in the body of Christ. By watching our Heavenly Father, we will learn how we as His instrument will be used to perform our function effectively. And we will see how we are being shaped to fit the work God has given us, and to snugly fit into His hand as He works through us.
As God's child, we should find ourselves in a position that we are following our Lord and observing what He does. We do not take the role of one who knows, but of one who is learning. For no matter how much we think we know, we must realize that we do not see the whole of God's intended purpose for us. He is shaping us daily, and we become presumptuous in thinking that we have figured out all that's involved in who we are and how we are to complete a task. We are to do a job, and we are to become an instrument, yet we are also to follow the Teacher. And as we keep our place as the child student, then we will discover far more than we could have ever presumed on our own.
In discovering God's will for our use and purpose within the body of Christ, we will find it helpful to keep a couple of things in mind. First, we need to be near to God--watching Him intently to learn from Him what we will need for every single day. And with that, we must not forget who the Teacher is and who the child student is. Secondly, we need to consider how God has shaped us. As we examine the different ways He might use us, we must realize what kind of tool we are. And just as we would not use a hammer to turn a bolt, we are seldom going to be called to do a job that we were not fashioned for. When weighing the possibilities, if there are three types of jobs to be done and only one of those jobs fits who God has made us to be, then that is probably where God wants us.

Draw near to God as His child, and you will discover your place and purpose in the body of believers in Christ.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:38:41 PM
The Eyes Are The Windows

    Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb.12:2-3).

It is said that if one stays in a rut long enough, the rut will become a grave. Not everything that is endured is what is necessary. For there is much that is gone through that God had not intended. For the chains that hold a weary soul are seldom what one's mind perceives, but more or less a prison forged from selfish wants the mind conceives. Much of what is burdensome is that we bring upon ourselves. And so we feel imprisoned by what we feel we must attain.
Look in to the eyes of many Christians. They are those who claim to have been freed by the work of a Gracious Savior Lord. And where we might think to find a dancing flicker of the Light of God, instead we find distress. For these are those who are released from chains of sin and death. These are they who have embraced the Light of God in Christ. And these are they who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. Yet what is seen within there eyes tell little of such knowledge. But rather tales of burdened life, paying bills and getting by.
The eyes do tell the story, and perhaps better than any word or gesture. For they reveal what's in the heart and speak as loud as any word. One by one the children of Light leave Sunday's worship service's doors, to shake the hand of the preacher man, and tell him how much they loved his words. But he then looks into their eyes to see the troubled waters. And he wonders what he has to do to help them find a greater joy--to free them from the burdens.
There is an old hymn called, "I Love To Tell The Story." It is a hymn the reflects the feelings of joy that comes from telling the story of Christ, about His glory and His love. It is the story of eyes that are focused on Christ. For as one's eyes beholds the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world, there is a sense of victory, there is a sense of hope--and there is a flicker of God's Light within the eyes as one steadfastly fixes his gaze upon Him.
What you see when you look into the eyes of those that fix their gaze upon the affairs of this life will be burden and defeat. For the day to day grind of getting by and paying bills is enough to make any heart falter who sees no hope beyond a paycheck. But when you look into the eyes of one who looks steadfastly at the Savior Lord, you will see a light and sparkle of joy that seems to remain regardless of the person's circumstances. You will see one who looks beyond the problems and sees the Glory of God. You will see within the person's eyes the freedom we claim to have in Christ and the Victory that Jesus holds for all who follow Him.
When people look into your eyes, what story do your eyes tell? Do your eyes love to tell the story of victory in Christ, or do they say, "I'm weary?"

    Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light (Mt.11:28-30).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:39:13 PM
By What We Judge

    Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in you own eye? How can you say to your brother. Let me take the speck out of your eye," when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye (Mt.7:1-5).

Matthew 7:1 has been a popular verse among so many. It has frequently been waved as a flag of defense--held high by those who find it handy to justify wrong or selfish behavior. As with any scripture, the first place of application rests in how it relates to the self. Yet this verse is more often used like a weapon, with little thought given to its true meaning and application. Those who recite the familiar verse often do so with valiant vigor. They would say, "The Bible says do not judge!" while holding little regard in their hearts for the rest of the Bible's standards for life.
On the other hand, those who read to find God's purpose for the scripture in their lives, take heed to the words with cautious respect, and wonder how one can truly look into the eyes of another and not make some sort of judgment. And yet it is not that there is not a need for a judgment to be made, but that the judgment is faulty at best when made by one who cannot see things clearly.
We are warned not to judge or we too shall be judged, and that with what measure we use it shall be measured to us the same. Does this mean that as I judge others, God also will judge me? We should hope not. For then we compare God's righteous judgment to that of ours which is often impaired and inadequate. But God's judgment is true, so we cannot assume that He would judge us by our standards. However, if we judge by a standard by which we do not live, we must ready to be judged even as we judge. And those whom we would seek to judge and to help to deal with their problems, they are those who will look us in the eyes and say, "who are you to help me?" For they will measure us in accordance with our own standard and will judge us even as we have judged them.
The focus is not that we should not judge, but that we should come before God and be made holy each day, so that we can see clearly--and having acknowledged our misgivings and having sought God to help us to deal with our faults--we then find clarity in Christ that will help us to help others find their way as well.
The cares of this life, the problems that bring us to worry rather than to God, and the sin we return to: these are the things that cloud our eyes, impair our vision, and make it difficult to accurately assess another's spiritual condition. If we want to help others, we will have to evaluate them--seeing them through the eyes of God--this could be called a righteous judgment.  But we must first deal with those things which cloud our vision; "then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

It is our place to judge a righteous judgment so that in so doing, we can help ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ to live a holy life--acceptable and pleasing unto God.

    Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment (John 7:24).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:39:44 PM
A Proper Respect

    My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, [the Lord] of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? (James 2:1-5).

There are no weird people, only weird perceptions of people. For as many people as there are there are as many different personalities and each embracing a certain degree of eccentricity. Basically stated, we are all strange in some fashion. And with that we might do well to keep in mind that though another seems odd to me, it is quite possible the feeling is mutual--or perhaps should be.
Each of us are a collage of wonders, extravagantly packaged by a glorious creator. All that makes up who we are is wondrous, and all that makes us who we will be is already known to Him that holds tomorrow. How arrogant to think that I should be better, know better or have better than another. For we all sojourn a dusty trail and thirst for what is right and good and pure. And though we make mistakes and often lose our way within the windstorms of our lives, there is One who persists to draw us.
To ponder these things, at least for a time, might begin to enlighten us somewhat. And perhaps we will open ourselves to the heart of God and discover what it means that "with God, there is no respect of persons." For it is out of His love for us that He respects us in truth, and not as though we have earned it. For God's treatment is just and His love is constant, and with that He knows no preferential treatment.
What shall we say then, we who call ourselves followers of the Son of the very God who loves in such a manner? Where do we find our justification to esteem one man above another due to position, wealth or education? Perhaps we do not seek to justify it at all, but instead, to try to overlook it. For our preferential treatment is often subtle, but nonetheless it exists. It exists in churches where we would listen to one man above another because of his looks or education; while the Davids and Samuels go unnoticed by our prejudicial appetites. It exists in our churches where we turn from one who is different, though we are not sure just how; nonetheless, we do not feel comfortable around him as we do with others we've known for some time. And the preferential treatment is evident in churches when the fellowships break into clicks and one or two sit in the shadows, not sure where someone like he or she would find a place--they are those who know only fellowship with God because He's the only One who loves them regardless.
A great deal of talk is kicked about regarding our witness to a lost world. We plan and program and train, and we go--and what we often do is reach out to others--others like ourselves. A middle-class church draws middle-class people, and an all white church draws whites. And so we arm ourselves to take the love of Christ to the dying world, and somewhere along the way it gets watered down and run through the filter of our preference--and so goes the message of God's love.

What will we do to show a love that is of God--a love that has no preference?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:40:17 PM
Rebuilding The Temple

    This is what the Lord Almighty says: "These people say, 'The time has not yet come for the Lord's house to be built.'" The word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?" Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it" (Haggai 1:2-6).

The people to whom this passage was referring had been directed to rebuild God's temple. But through the course of time they had become sidetracked by many things: the cares of this earth, making a living, and building for themselves a nice comfortable house. Where they had once purposed to give of what they had so that God's house might be established, they had instead used there resources to gather what was pleasing to themselves. They were given a responsibility to care for the temple--the house of God--and so are we.
In 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul asks, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" In that we are the dwelling place of God we are the temple of His Spirit. Even as the temple was to be consecrated and kept holy--divided unto God for His purpose--so we are to be kept holy and divided from the godless for the purpose and will of our righteous Father.
And yet, what would God say to us through Haggai today? Would He not say much the same as He did in Haggai's time? For we have been given charge over the temple of God even as we are His Holy Temple. And we (as a people) also have grown slack in our responsibilities to the temple's upkeep. For though we should be making ourselves a Holy dwelling place for the Lord, we are more concerned with filling ourselves with that which pleases us. The temple of the Lord receives a portion of our time, our attention and our wages, when indeed much more is needed to restore it to its proper place. We take what should be used to build God's house and we panel the walls of our lives with comfort and pleasantry.
And to what end? What shall we show for our days when our days come to a close? We will see our days gone by, spent in countless hours of working to provide even more and more comfort to pacify us in this life. We eat, drink, work and spend and are never satisfied. For the labor of our hands seem unable to keep up with what our desires would consume.
Meanwhile, the house of God in each of us goes unattended. We become more and more weakened within our spirits and question God when life gets too difficult. We soon wonder why we cannot seem to stop doing what is wrong and do more of what is right. We wonder why it is so difficult to live as God wants us to. And we feel defeated and unable to stand as a child of God.
We have given much time, energy, attention and thought to pleasing ourselves, having fun and being comfortable. "What do you do for fun?" seems to be one of the primary questions in getting to know someone. Perhaps it is time we begin to turn the tide, and start placing our resources toward the best good. Perhaps it is time we put aside our wants and desires and comforts, and take up the work of rebuilding the temple once more.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:40:50 PM
Holding Hands

    My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand (John 10:29).

The old song tells us, "I don't know about tomorrow, but I know who holds my hand." There are those times, however, when it would seem that we have forgotten that there is indeed someone who holds our hand. He has promised to be with us. He has been and will always remain to be faithful to His Word. And when He says "I will never leave you, nor forsake you," we can be certain that that is exactly what will be.
If you were to draw a picture of God's hand, what would it look like? I remember a picture that I had seen that depicts a girl swinging joyfully in a swing that is suspended by two ropes. The ends of the ropes are draped over the finger of the Hand of God, and held between His finger and His thumb. In that picture, we see the typical illustration of the Hand of God--it is very large and strong, and it is able to easily be the security and safety of one who trusts in Him. Isn't it amazing that even as so many of us would imagine God's Hand to be large, strong and secure, that we can so often become anxious as though our lives could slip through the fingers of His mighty Hand?
There are many surprises in this life--some good, and some not so good. But perhaps some of the most pleasant surprises are those that would seem as though they should not be surprising at all. For we are often pleasantly surprised when God comes to our aid in time of need, or speaks a gentle, healing word when we are in the midst of sorrow. And we behold His timing, His touch and His tenderness and stand in awe. As well we should, but why is it we seemed surprised? For God so loves us dearly, and what He does for us out of His extraordinary love is never surprising, but simply a natural part of who He is.
As you walk your personal road today, take thought of the strong and secure Hand that is holding on to your hand, and holding on to you. His grip is not as such that you will slip through His grasp. His faithfulness is not as such that He will not remain beside you every step of the way. And none of us walk our paths alone, for He will never leave us or forsake us. Anything we face will not take God by surprise, He already knows what tomorrow holds and has already prepared our way through the days to come.

The Mighty Hand of God,
is strong enough to hold,
the worries of our everyday,
the achings of our soul.
The Mighty Hand of God,
is skilled enough to shape,
our worries and our achings,
in to wondrous cause for praise.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:41:20 PM
Balancing Petitions

    Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God
    (Philippians 4:6).

Consider your needs. Consider your wants. Examine and weigh what is needed, against what is desired. With what is true contentment found? How much is enough? What motivates us to make a request of God? To answer these questions we best not leave it entirely up to ourselves or we will most certainly convince ourselves that our motives are noble and pure. And to look for the answers through the eyes of others may leave us in want, if they are like we are and give much advise with regard primarily to how it affects them or their interests. And though that may not even be the case, there is no question that the only one who sees us without bias and predisposition is God Himself. So as we consider our needs and wants and determine to come before God to make petition, we would be wise to first ask God to cut through our selfish motivations and teach us to truly ask according to His will.
"According to His will." Now that's a phrase that often carries a great deal of good intention, but all too often caries little effort. We ask, petition and pray and say, "Thy will be done," yet when it gets right down to it, little effort is expended in truly determining what is what and where to go. Sure, we want to know His way and follow it. But His question to us might be, "How badly do you desire to really know my will?" Do we desire His will and His way badly enough to fast and pray for one day? Or how about doing so until we receive and answer? Do we shun our desires seeking clarity of mind and heart so as not to be led astray by our personal passions? Are we willing to religiously come before God in prayer, and search the scriptures daily and diligently to see what God would say?
Acts 17:11 tells us about a people who wanted to know the truth. And because of their diligent search for the truth, their way was made clear to them. Of them the writer of Acts explains, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." They would not settle for a truth that could not be substantiated by the witness of God's Word, and they would not settle for a truth that would fit their own preconceived notions of what the Word of God stated.
In identifying our needs and desires and taking them before God, we might do well to remember something, that though our faith be strong and our motives pure, God is still the one who has to OK the requests we make. He sees the big picture--we do not. And though something we ask may be in the purest motivation, we must remember that it is something that fits into God's plan not just for our lives personally, but also every life around us. Name it and claim it thinking does not make God do anything. And faith that can move mountains will not move God to act outside of His will. It is not by faith that God moves, but it is by our faith that we see Him move, and by the same faith that our prayers mature and soon line up with His will. Through all we are instructed to let our requests be made known unto God, and to pray believing--but lest we see God as a magical wish granter let's keep in mind that our requests are just that--and God weighs them all in balance with His good and perfect will.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:41:52 PM
Missing Daddy

    As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:1-2)

She stands at the kitchen window looking outside. She watches as her daughter, who had been at grandmas for a week, runs outside to greet her daddy as he gets home from work. She sees the two hug before her husband even gets fully out of the car. Her eyes tear up at the sweetness of the scene, and she stops for a moment in the middle of her hurried day, allowing her mind to run with the wonder of such things.
What does she see as she embraces the warmth of this passing moment? It could be many things, or perhaps just one. It could be one in particular that starts as a solid and vivid image, and then ripples into several images that fade and mix together. And what she gleans from this can bring a soft, warm smile to her face--and can touch the deepest reaches of her heart as He who controls all uses the simple things of life to stir the soul.
She watches. And in her mind she finds anew her love for her husband. Not that she had lost it, but that she simply remembered one of the reasons that she cares so deeply for him. She sees her strong and sometimes determined man, and is intrigued by the sensitivity and gentleness that emerges. And she feels once more like the young woman who first fell in love with him.
She watches. And in her mind she sees the picture of herself. As once she was that little girl who ran to her father with love and excitement. She reminisces on the times they shared and her eyes begin to turn toward home--toward a time when she can see him again, and once more feel like that little girl, safe in her daddy's arms.
She watches. And in her mind she imagines another reunion of sorts. More difficult for her to comprehend, but nonetheless the excitement emerges and lights her eyes with anticipation. For she has experienced the warmth and care of her Heavenly Father while here on this earth, but knows that a day is coming when she will be with Him up close--when she will rest in His sheltering and loving arms and live beneath His roof, and dwell with her Heavenly Daddy forever more.
At a glance and through our Father's eyes, we see what is good and the good that is yet to come. Within those times we find the truth of love and anticipate the culmination of that love. And though we are called to a work within this time and place, we long for another time--and our love for Him draws us ever toward Him. But when we are away from Him, for whatever reason, and though our minds be caught up in the hurriedness of our lives, He uses the simplicity of surrounding events to draw our thoughts back toward Him. And our hearts ache for what we have had with Him, and the warmth returns to our souls as in the passing of a quiet moment we discover that we are missing Daddy.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 20, 2006, 03:42:27 PM
The Threshold of Happiness

    Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Matthew 7:7).

One definition of "threshold" depicts a threshold as "an entrance or doorway," "the place or point of beginning". It is a word that is used often to describe a starting point. Perhaps it's most familiar use is in relation to an old custom whereby the groom would carry his bride over the threshold (doorway) of the new couples home--signifying a beginning as man and wife. It is perhaps a place as well where there is great anticipation and hope-filled thinking. Certainly that is often the case with newly weds, isn't it? It seems to be a place or situation wherein those who enter believe they will find happiness.
But what is happiness? To look again to the dictionary, we will find several varying definitions of the word. Yet the one which seems to start them off is in relation to happenstance. At the root of both words, "happiness," and "happenstance" we find a commonality within the word "hap," which within its very definition eludes once again to circumstances that are favorable or fortunate, and completely by chance.
So the threshold of happiness is a place wherein there are great expectations for fortunate and favorable chance happenings to occur--providing we play our cards right or hold our heads just right or cross our fingers or. . . Whatever the case may be, it is as though we often see our direction as coincidental and the good things that come our way as mere chance within our situations we face. If you don't think so, consider how we act when things are going really well, and in such a way that it is something that is making us happy, and watch what you do. Such situations often bring with them the anxiety as we begin to think that somehow we won't be able to maintain the circumstances as they are in order to keep ourselves in the current state of happiness. Something comes along (happenstance) that we really like and we begin to worry that it will soon be gone.
As we seek to maintain happiness, we may see that we have one major problem: we believe it to be based on events and circumstances. And so we will work to bring about circumstances that we know will make us feel as though we are happy. The problem is that such happiness is fleeting--it does not last long, and is seldom what we really expect it to be.
But God did not want our joy to be built on happenstance, good fortune or favorable circumstance. And He did not set us on a path wherein we are to be solemnly righteous, only to stumble upon enjoyable circumstances if we are lucky. Instead, God has provided to us a way to find real joy within our lives that is constant regardless of our circumstances--a joy that is not determined by chance happenings. This joy is not found through wishful thinking as we cross thresholds to happiness, but it is found as we seek a definite direction in how we will live and how we will follow the will of God for our lives.
The pursuit of happiness will yield some happiness, but that happiness will be fleeting. The things we think will make us happy are often not what we had expected and often leave us wanting. But as we ask God according to His will, and seek His will to be done, and then knock as to put His will into action, what we will discover is greater than any accidental momentary feel good--it will be a joy that transcends all understanding, as we find the true happiness within God's will--and not blind fate.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 21, 2006, 02:55:50 PM
July 21
Invited

Read Luke 14:15-24

    Jesus replied, "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.' But they all alike began to make excuses. . ." (Luke 14:16-18).

To read Luke 14:15-24, we might soon discover a strange parallel. For if we were to look closely at our lives in this society as compared to the lives of those in this story, we would probably see that the people in the story that made excuses for why they could not come sound a lot like many of us today. Sure, we think it would be great to go when someone invites us, but we feel that we are just too busy. It seems that no matter what time someone wants to invite us to be with them, that it always lands on a bad time for us--a time when we just cannot get away from the other pressing matters of our lives.
It is true that we are certain to miss some opportunities along the way. After all, we cannot take advantage of every invitation extended to us. There is no way that we can have a job, family, church-life and sleep, and still squeeze in everything and everyone that demands our time and attention--can we? So we are often faced with a decision, and that decision is the product of the placement of our priorities. And what should be the priority? What should get the attention while some other things are pushed to the side?
It would be interesting to see how many mundane things we focus on throughout our day, and how many things we do that seem so important but really won't matter tomorrow. It seems that so many things that require our immediate attention would really not hurt anything to be pushed aside for a day or two. But isn't that procrastination? Is it, when why we put something off is because there is a live and breathing soul who would like to fellowship with us? Perhaps we should consider for a moment how many times we tell someone, "I can't right now, I really have to do this," and compare that to the number of times we say, "Everything else can wait. You are more important."
If Christ were to hide who He is from us, and come to each of us with an invitation to come and have dinner with Him this Friday or Saturday night, I wonder how many of us would accept His invitation. And yet He tells us that even as we "have done unto the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto me." Sure, we cannot be there for everyone, but will we be there for anyone? And will we make time for another who would be with us when we have no other plans?
A man went to a deacon in the church and told him that he needed to talk. The deacon kindly replied, "Yes, we'll have to get together." Days went by and the man did not hear from the deacon. Finally, Sunday came again and the man, who had been having doubts about his salvation, went forward after the service and gave his life to Christ. The deacon quickly approached him after the service and excitedly he asked him, "Is that what you wanted to talk about?" The man nodded and said, "yes." The deacon replied, "If only I would have known," he continued, "I'm sorry," and he walked away.
The opportunities we have to make a difference in this life come and go. They approach us in the form of a person in need, and sometimes they go with someone who walks away because their need is not being met. As we are busy with so many "important" things in our lives, perhaps we should consider what else is slipping through our fingers--it could be the soul of one who needs a hand to hold onto and lead them to Christ.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:06:57 AM
What Love Is Not

Read 1 Corinthians 13

    Love is patient, love is kind, It does not envy , it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth (1Cor.13:4-6).

It seems that we have great difficulty describing what love is. It is a vague idea that, brought to mind in the form of the question, "What is love?" it might produce as many different answers as the number of people asked. When thinking of love as it is seen by our world today, most of us might first think of romantic love. This should not be surprising. When one examines our culture at just a glance it is easy to quickly pick up our society's viewpoints of love and what it means to be "in love." Love generally has much to do with what a person treasures because it is pleasing to him or her, rather than being something that spurs a person to be willing to give up being pleased. It is what someone can do "for me" that makes me love them--if they have little to offer, I will probably not take too much interest in them. That is, if I love in a manner that is like the love within our society.
To put it simply, our society today has taught us more ways to love one's self than it has taught us how to love others. For in loving others, most people are actually demonstrating love for self by surrounding self with that which is in some way pleasing to the self. Selfish love is demonstrated, promoted and flaunted by the people of our nation. We attribute more time to showing self a "good time" than we ever do to making a difference in someone else's life. We want to draw near to those who are "fun" to be with; while we often "duck" those who "bring us down." There is little that we can do without ever wondering "what's in it for me?" Even if that is just a passing thought, it is often a first thought for most of us. Sure, it may not come in the form of that question--after all, we don't want to think of ourselves as selfish. More often than not, our selfishness is hidden behind subtleties, buried in rationalizations and excuses--all of which provide us justification for our uncaring attitudes and unwillingness to help someone in need. We may tell ourselves that we have no time, only to list a days events that we are already "committed" to. And we know that keeping a commitment is the right thing to do. If lack of time cannot excuse us, we look elsewhere for some way to withdraw into a place of comfort--one that only requires commitment to self.
Defining love in a godless society puts self on a pedestal, and everyone else around us to meet our needs and wishes. Because, within a godless society we become our own gods, filled with our own concerns, busy surrounding the self with that which is pleasing to the self--busy demonstrating what love is not.
How each of us defines love is not the 50 point essay question for extra credit in life. It is not something we answer with a few well worded thoughts or by reciting a dictionary definition. Instead, we each define love through action. What love is to us is demonstrated within the intricacies of our lives. When we are willing to give up everything to take up our cross and follow Christ--abandoning any desire to please one's self in this life--therein we demonstrate love for God. When we are willing to spend time with another, having a genuine desire to see their needs met and their spirits lifted, therein we demonstrate love for others. And when we are willing to withdraw into the comfort of our homes and surround ourselves with that which pleases us, and spend our time making money so we can spend our money making ourselves happy, therein we demonstrate love for self.
We are selfish by nature, and we will most certainly find it easier to demonstrate love for self than for others and God. Yet we do not have to settle for that and throw up our hands as if to say, "I can't help it. It's just the way I am." It is the love of God in us that will work its way to the surface of our lives in order to define what true love is. And as we surrender more to Him and become more willing to give up personal wants or rights for the good of others, it is then that God's love can shine through us as a light in the darkness--and it is then the world will begin to learn what love is not.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:07:36 AM
May 2
A Multitude Of Words

    Then Naomi said, "Wait my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today" (Ruth 3:18).

There was a time when a man's word was his bond. If a word so much as came out of a person's mouth, it was as good as a signed contract--perhaps better. To break one's word was one time a mark of poor character. To say one thing and do another would raise suspicion in the minds of many, and distrust in the hearts of all.
There was a time when if a person said he would do something that he "would not rest until the matter" was settled. The accomplishment of the word was not enough, it also required diligence in the accomplishment of it. You would dare not tell someone you would do this or that only to let days and weeks go by before doing so. The task still needing done might be keeping the one you would do it for in need, and in an awkward position. They would want to give you the chance to make your word good, at the same time they would feel like they must look elsewhere for help--to someone who would "not rest until the matter" was settled--to someone who meant what he said.
Our society today is full of people who cannot remember half of what they say, and perhaps only accomplish half (if that) of what they do remember saying they would do. It has become common place for promises and appointments to be broken, and for people to say they will do something and never get around to it. It has not only become common but expected and almost even acceptable. If someone doesn't keep their word, we may even make excuses for them so as not to think badly of them. And if we don't make excuses for them, they more than likely will--just as we all may be inclined to do..
It seems we find it easier to excuse ourselves than to keep tight control of our tongues. For if we learned how to speak less, saying only what needs to be said and careful not speak an "idle word," we might find it easier to remember what we have told one person or another. We might find that we would learn not to promise things we cannot accomplish because of tight schedules and the overextending of one's abilities or resources. We might find that it would be much easier to be a person of integrity than we might think.
It is in the multitude of our words that we forget what we say or promise that which we cannot fulfill. And just as one lie leads to another, so our many broken words lead to even more in the form of excuses.

    When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise (Prov.10:19).
    But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:08:12 AM
The Essence of Love

    The disciple is not above [his] master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. (Mt.10:24-25).

Consider Christ. The essence of love. The epitome of compassion. The embodiment of God's grace and mercy. He came to this earth to draw people to God and restore relationship between a fallen mankind and a Holy God. It meant for Him the giving up of anything He could get out of this life for Himself. It meant for Him the abandoning of thoughts and ideas that most of us hold dear. The thoughts that we should have opportunity to make a life for ourselves. The ideas that we have the right to happiness and the right to sculpt out for ourselves a life that will be pleasant and satisfying.
The road Christ walked was not a glamorous one. It promised nothing of worldly goods or gain. It was not a road that led to satisfaction and financial comfort while on this earth. It was a road of self-denial, self-sacrifice--self-death. It was a road that led to a cross on a hill of death, appropriately named Golgotha, "the place of the skull."
If to follow Christ means to walk the road He walked, does it not also mean to die, truly die, to self? If to follow Christ means to call Him Master, does it not also mean that it is enough for us to be like our Master? Can we call Him Master and follow Him without walking the road that He walked?
Look around and consider Christ. Consider His road that He walked, and then consider how many people you see on the same road. How many of those who claim to be His followers are walking a road that is like His: a road holding no glamour, not promising worldly goods, satisfaction or financial comfort while on this earth? How many of us have fought to stay on the path that Jesus walked, have fought to deny self, and have fought to be holy at the risk of being uncomfortable? The writer of Hebrews would tell us, "In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood" (12:4).
Consider Christ. The essence of love. The epitome of compassion. The embodiment of God's grace and mercy. He came to this earth to draw people to God and restore relationship between a fallen mankind and a Holy God. It meant for Him the giving up of anything He could get out of this life for Himself. It meant for Him the abandoning of thoughts and ideas that most of us hold dear. The thoughts that we should have opportunity to make a life for ourselves. The ideas that we have the right to happiness and the right to sculpt out for ourselves a life that will be pleasant and satisfying.
Isn't it enough for us that we be like Christ? If we can find the strength to stay on the road He walked, we too will find that the road does not end at the Cross--it only begins there. for within the accomplished work of the cross, you and I enjoy the knowledge that we will be resurrected into the Glory of God. In the accomplished work of the cross we too know that we will have life beyond this life, and this life more abundant.
We look at the condition of the world today and shake our heads in disappointment. We try to do right and wish we could do more to impact the lost world around us, yet many of us have already given up. Within all our plans, programs and evangelical efforts, what we may be forgetting is the simple yet profound power of the cross. Jesus took a road that led to death, so that through His death, many might find life. Our greatest evangelical effort involves no revival meetings, Bible schools or other organized events; but our greatest evangelical effort will be one whereby we allow the power of the cross to do the work through us. As we take the road that Jesus took--we too will find that to die to self, is to bring life to many.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:08:47 AM
Mission Minded

    These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Heb.11:13).

Many of us can recall a time when a missionary came to our church to speak to us about what they had witnessed God doing. They have told us about wonderful happenings that could hold no earthly explanation--the only explanation was that God had intervened in a way that was uncommon to what we had ever seen. The missionaries' stories were perhaps very intriguing to us as they seemed more like stories right out of the Old Testament, yet set in modern times.
There is a wonder within the words of the missionary. And there is often amazement on the part of those who hear of tales of God's work in some strange and distant place. The question might then be raised, "Why do we not experience such occurrences here?" "Why don't we see God doing miracles, saving thousands and using a whole church within a small community to accomplish something similar to what He can do with one man within a country?" Perhaps if we were to look at some of the characteristics of the missionary, we might find the answers to such questions. For our purposes here, let's confine our discussion to foreign missionaries.
Consider, first of all, the life of a missionary. He has committed himself to a "new" life in a place that he does not really consider his home. He has willingly left behind the life and lifestyle that he has always known, to proceed by the Grace of God into the unknown, He realizes that where he is going is a place where he will most probably not have all the "things" and "creature comforts" that have made life easier, and he is willing to relinquish any rights to have those things in the future.
Consider the person of the missionary as seen within his new surroundings. He is the stranger, the outsider and person who generally stands out. The difference between his own customs and those of the culture he has committed himself to live within are as different as day and night. He couldn't "fit in" if he wanted to, for no matter how hard he tried to be like them, the truth of who he is would still shine through.
Consider the relationships of the missionary. He is often placed in difficult circumstances far away from friends and family. He is not only a person who has given up a known way of life, or someone who has placed himself in a strange world; he is also someone who undergoes these circumstances without the comfort of having friends or loved ones close by. He may have his immediate family with him, yet where he and his family were once surrounded by people they knew, or at least ones that spoke the same language, they are now isolated from that familiarity.
Consider the faith of the missionary. Whereas once he could find security in material goods, familiar surroundings or a network of church, friends and family; he now must place more and more faith in God to meet all of his needs.
Now consider this: we too can see God do mighty works through us and the local church with the likeness that He does through His missionaries. If we would first realize that this earth is not our home, but that we are strangers in Christ--as different from this world as day is to night. If we would be willing not to call this place home but to live here so that Christ might be witnessed in our lives and lifestyles by those who have never seen Christ. If we could abandon our claims to the right to have a life filled with the "creature comforts," and be willing to place ourselves in an uncomfortable environment for the sake of others. If we could be willing to be influenced by God more than the thoughts and opinions of peers, friends and loved-ones. If we could take our faith out of the security of material goods, jobs, familiar surroundings, and our network of church, family and friends. If we could we could live this life as a missionary in a foreign land, then we might get to see the magnificent tales of God's work come to life, first hand.
The power of God will move through hearts that are sold out to Him--hearts that have abandoned everything familiar and trusted God for their security so that He might accomplish His work through them. God will use us to change the world once we stop looking like the world, and start resembling the Christ who came to free it.

    Dearly beloved, I beseech [you] as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11).

    These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Heb.11:13).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:09:25 AM
Blessed Assurance

    And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever (Isaiah 32:17).

    Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste, of glory divine!
    Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.
    . . .Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blessed:
    Watching and waiting, looking above, Filled with his goodness, lost in his love ("Blessed Assurance", Fanny J. Crosby, 1873).

As you read the words of Fanny Crosby above, do you get the impression that she understood the peace, quietness and assurance that Isaiah spoke of in the verse above her words? There is a blessed assurance to everyone who trusts in Christ. Regardless of our sin and shame, Christ gave His life to take our blame! Sins past, present and future are no longer remembered. God provided a way for all of us to approach Him with a clear conscience so that we might come to Him without hindrance, anxiety or guilt. In and of ourselves we are guilty, yet as we truly trust in Jesus our guilt is removed! Believe it!
In Hebrews 10:19-23, the writer tells us this:

    Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful.

The writer tells us that SINCE we have confidence, and we have a great priest, THEN "let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith." and "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful." We are therefore shown that we do not enter into God's presence because we are worthy to do so, and we are shown that we do not have to fear coming into His presence because of our sin and shame. We do not come to God taking account of our rights and wrongs, hoping that we are good enough to be near Him. Instead we enter into the presence of God by trusting that Christ has given us access to God through His righteousness--so we do not regard our righteousness at all, but fully trust in Him.
Why does God tell us these things? Because He wants you to be able to approach Him without fear of retribution, without fear that you have failed to live up to His expectations, and without fear that we may have some overlooked imperfection that will keep us from approaching God, regardless of our efforts to do what is right.
He wants a relationship with you as a child, not as a subject in His court; and He wants you to "have confidence" when you approach Him. He wants you to enter into fellowship with Him without fear, anxiety or hindrance, so that you may come to know Him for who He really is, in His fullness.
Do not believe that you cannot approach God. If you have trusted in Christ, you are given free passage to come into the presence of the Father. Then, if there is unconfessed sin in your life, the Father will help you to deal with it as necessary. The point is, we should never let our sin keep us from coming to God to get things right. God is wanting to help us overcome sin, not destroy us for it. And He certainly does not want us to destroy ourselves over it either. It is a lie from the devil that tells you that God is no longer approachable because of your sin, or that God does not love you anymore. God wants to restore you, and that requires you coming to Him and letting Him help you deal with your sin. Running away from God will solve nothing. It is because of Christ's work that we can approach God regardless of our deeds. This is the blessed assurance, the "full assurance of faith" that enables us to "hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful."
May God grant you the ability to come to know fully, His full and blessed assurance.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:10:00 AM
Good Stewards

    As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same [gift] one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God
    (1 Pt.4:10,KJV).
    Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administrating God's grace in its various forms (1 Pt.4:10,NIV).

Wouldn't it be a twist at Christmas time to give gifts with the intent that those gifts, once received, are to be given away. Or perhaps it would be that they are not actually given away, but that the only use that there would be for a particular item is in a fashion that it is used to do something for someone else. Imagine receiving a gift that is not just for your benefit. Imagine it is something like a free pass to work in a soup kitchen for one year. Imagine the look on someone's face when they open their present to find a basin, towel and soap, and a note attached that says, "May you find great joy and fulfillment as you use these items to wash the feet of strangers."
Most of us would probably not be to pleased with such a gift. Our ideas of a Christmas present are usually material in nature and have little to do with serving someone else. Yet, in the scripture we find that we have been given gifts, "different gifts, according to the grace given us" (Rom.12:6). But to further examine the scriptures, we will find that these gifts are not given to us just to benefit self, but that they are given to us to benefit many. They are the "Christmas Gifts" with strings attached. That is not a bad thing, for anything worth having often carries a degree of responsibility on the part of one who possesses it. Jesus tells us in Luke 12:48, "For unto whomsoever much is give, of him shall much be required." And in Matthew 10:8 He says, "freely ye have received, freely give."
The gifts of God far exceed our vision and version of annually distributed Christmas gifts. Our gifts are often designed to end at the receiver; while God's gifts just begin with the receiver--flowing outward from the receiver to the many he or she would share them with. While we may give something to wear, or hang on the wall, or something given just for our immediate gratification; God gives that which brings deeper and lasting satisfaction to our souls as we truly learn the meaning of the old expression, "It is far better to give than to receive."
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17). As good stewards of God's manifold grace, we should be able to see that nothing we have belongs to us--it is all His, and we are responsible for what we do with it. Whether spiritual gifts, or earthly endowment, all is given with strings attached--strings that should not end with us, but stretch out into the lives of so many around us--creating a beautifully designed web made up of the service and the giving to others of what we have received. It is not our right to store up for ourselves treasures on this earth, that God has given us. Instead we have been given the right to be a channel of giving--a conduit of love in service to those around us. If we are good stewards of all we have, we will be God's open channel to the world; but if we hoard that which has been given to us, we become an impasse, clogged by concerns for self, and self-gain.
Do you feel that your "giving" channel has been clogged by self-concern and self-gain? If so, you will be happy to know that there is a kind of spiritual "draino"--it's simply called "service." The practice of service to others will eat at the clog of self-centeredness until God can freely use you as a spiritual conduit of His grace.

    Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful
    (1 Corinthians 4:2).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:10:39 AM
All Things Common

    All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need
    (Acts 2:44-45).
    All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had
    (Acts 4:32).

Many wonderful things were the result of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The believers of the early church saw the power of God manifested in signs, wonders, healings, the salvation of thousands at one time, disciples speaking in foreign tongues so that others might hear the Gospel in their own language. . .the list goes on. There is one more incredible happening that has perhaps been overlooked--the miracle of giving.
It seems that one of the evidences that God was moving in the people of the early church is that they had an overwhelming desire to give up everything. "No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had." There was a desire to see that each person's basic needs were met. And that desire was so strong that believers were willing to give up their personal possessions to see that those needs were met. They did not consider their desire for "creature comforts" something to be reasoned within themselves as something they needed. They were of one heart. And rather than feeling compelled to cling to earthly possessions, the basic needs of their brothers and sisters in Christ became as their own, and compelled them to give to them as though they were giving to themselves.
To read through the book of Acts and see the demonstration of selfless giving can be quite convicting. It is hard to read the many accounts laid out in scripture and not feel a sense of inadequacy in personal giving. Many of our homes are filled with material goods, and items we do not need to live or bring some sort of spiritual or relationship building benefit. Our houses hold many things until our houses become to small to hold all of our things, then we have to find a bigger (and more expensive) house.
Our houses of worship are similar. The lavish decorations and beautiful landscaping of our churches are a reflection of our individual homes--they too are adorned with that which is pleasing to the eye and soothing to the flesh. We like our homes to be a place where we feel comfortable and we like our churches to be the same.
Where the right and wrong of all this is, may be hard to define. Yet if we enjoy the creature comforts at home, while a neighbor goes without food, we must be moved to some sort of discomfort within the zone of our comfort. Certainly we have not grown so comfortable within our surroundings that we have grown numb to the genuine needs right outside our front door--have we? And if we enjoy the comforts of a beautifully designed and maintained place of worship, while some members of the congregation are doing without some of the basic needs, certainly we will be moved to forego the building programs for a time until the real needs of people are met--won't we?
We live in a time where appearance is more important (or so it would seem) than reality. We preoccupy ourselves with aesthetic quality of life while real needs go unattended. And while we find ourselves able to gather in beautifully adorned sanctuaries and find pleasure in what our tithes hath wrought; we can do nothing short of lower our heads in shame to look on surrounding communities full of homeless and starving souls.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:11:26 AM
The Fruit Of Repentance

    Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord (Acts 3:19).

The power of forgiveness in an awesome thing. It is the device that tares down the barriers that stand between people and people, and people and God. Where forgiveness is provided, there is no fear of retaliation. There is no concern that the one who truly forgives will exact revenge at a later date--at "the perfect moment." There is no anxiety or tension any longer, as two who were at odds come together, having reconciled and renewed fellowship.
We are assured time and again in the Scriptures, that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1Jn.1:9). We are assured that, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" (Ps.103:12). We are encouraged to "draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience" (Heb.10:22). The Lord assures us over and over, that He has established forgiveness for us, and that, in the offering up of His only Son. Therefore, we have nothing to fear in seeking Him, for in seeking Him we shall find Him (Dt.4:29). Through the work of Christ (nothing of ourselves), we are able to approach God and embrace Him fully. There is no reason for apprehensiveness on our part, as the work of reconciliation has already been fulfilled.
We have forgiveness, and we have freedom to approach God without fear, so what else is there that might keep us from coming to Him in repentance so "that times of refreshing may come from the Lord?" Perhaps it not a fear of God's wrath, but a fear of change that compels us to keep God at arm's length. To repent means to turn completely away from one thing (that which is our selfish purpose that is not within the will of God), and to turn toward another (that which is of God and within His will). That is a very scary thought. It means to us that we might have to give up some things that we might hold dear. We do not dare hold those treasured things up before God to ask what He desires, because we fear that He may not want us to have them and that He might make us give them up. Instead, we continue to hold onto our things, habits and wants, like a child huddling over something enclosed in his hands--taking a peak at it every so often, and hoping no one will notice what he has so they don't take it away.
But rest assured that God will not leave you empty handed. As you let go your grasp on your treasures that are not of God, God will replace what you gave up, with eternal treasures that will mean so much more to you than anything you held previously. What He has to offer is so much better than anything we hold for ourselves. It is a "refreshing"--a breath of fresh air--like wearing a wool hood for years because you thought it was best, and then pulling it off. What you may think is what you want cannot compare to the "refreshing" movement of God in your life.
Repent. Turn away from "everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles" (Heb.12:1), so that you may discover true and lasting freedom. Repent. Do not fear God's wrath but confess your sin and embrace His love. Repent. Learn the riches of His glory through the sacrifice of your wants. Repent and be refreshed and renewed--there is so much wonderful fresh air to breath if we would only stop smothering ourselves with our ways and wants we think are best.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:12:01 AM
Raising Hands

    And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with [their] faces to the ground (Nehemiah 8:6).

In some churches, raising hands in worship is a controversial topic. Some see it as a demonstration of "attention getting" more than an act of worship; and for some people it is. Some see it as wrong because it is not the traditional approach to worship, while others see nothing wrong with it because, for them, it is the traditional approach. No matter the reasoning, there are sure to be a great number of people to raise hands for wrong reasons as there are people who don't. For while some would look down on someone for raising hands, they may within themselves quench the Spirit that guides them to lift their own hands. Not that they might lift hands as some sort of demonstration of religious freedom, or because it is based in some sort of traditional "properness"--but simply because they are so focused on God, that they are led to respond by "lifting up their hands."

            I raise my hands to God,
            to some it may seem odd,
            But do they know the reasons why I do?
            It is not done for show,
            but for simply letting go,
            of the things my hands have tried to hang on to.
            I lift my arms up high,
            though some people wonder why,
            It's clear to see they do not understand.
            I am not some "Charismatic,"
            with cobwebs in my attic,
            I just want to grab onto my Father's hand.
            Maybe if they knew,
            the reason that I do,
            is not for some fanatical display.
            Instead it is a plea,
            for God to comfort me,
            and hold me as I go from day to day.

Jesus said it well when he described a group of people as those, "which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel" (Mt.23:24). We can so easily get caught up in nit-picky, outward particulars, that we lose sight of deeper, more purposeful intentions. Raising hands should not be an issue. Unfortunately, those who argue for it often do so with an attitude of "I have a right. . ." while those who argue against it often do so with expressions like, "I just don't like it." All the while, hearts are more focused on appearance than worship.
A congregation who raises hands, and one that does not, they can both be spiritually dead.
The psalmist writes, "Let my prayer be set forth before thee [as] incense; [and] the lifting up of my hands [as] the evening sacrifice" (Psalms 141:2). A greater sacrifice is to put aside petty differences and lines of contentions, and find it within our hearts to remember that their are people beneath the hands that are lifted.
Paul writes, "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting" (1 Timothy 2:8). "Without wrath," he says. Oh that we could stop using our hands as issues of disagreement, using them to hold each other down--and begin using them as true instruments of worship by raising them (in spirit, if not physically), to lift one another up.
You do not have to lift your hands to worship God, but you do not have to keep them down either.
I personally have lifted my hands in a congregation only a couple of times. I have lifted them often in the privacy of my home as I have worshipped and loved on my Lord. Some may yet wonder why. For me, it has been a response to God as Father. A small child that wants to be picked up by a parent comes to that parent with arms lifted and hands high. "Pick me up daddy," they might say. I too, have come to my Heavenly Father and raised my arms to Him to say, "Pick me up Daddy." I want to be lifted. I want to be loved. And I want to be held in the safe and secure arms of my Lord.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:12:37 AM
All Consuming Fire

    At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken--that is, created things--so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
    Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire (Heb.12:26-29).

There is a song by Rich Mullins in which he writes that, "everything I had was shaken, and all that remained was all I ever really had." Drawing near to the holiness of God brings us further within His Light, and enables us to see things as they really are. The things we have clung to in darkness will lose their appeal as we see them beneath the light of God. And as we draw even nearer to our Lord, that which is part of us which has no part in God will be shaken and burned up, "for our God is a consuming fire."
In the Light of God's consuming fire, we can see that which we once refused to look at--the painful truth of our imperfections. Yet, the consuming fire of God not only reveals truth, it also establishes it. The truth is established as that which is in us which is not holy or true is burned up; while that which is holy and true remains. God's purpose is not for us to draw near so we can see our imperfections, cry out in despair, and suffer our humanity as we see no hope. But His purpose is for us to come even closer so to allow His consuming fire to purge, purify and make us holy so that we can fully dwell with Him.
Keep in mind that we could not even approach God but for the work of Christ. Christ's blood has protected us so that God's consuming fire will not completely destroy us, and His removing the veil from between us and God allows us to come into the Holy presence of God. But though we are covered and protected so that we can pass through the fire, we have yet to be transformed. His Hand continues to shape and transform us as we continue to draw ever closer to Him.
But lest I paint to rosy a picture, let us consider another aspect of drawing near to God's all consuming fire. As we approach God we will often experience a certain amount of pain--sometimes, a great deal of pain. Seeing things as they are is not always easy. Our egos do not want to see any thing wrong with who we are or how we live. Our pride embraces the "I'm OK you're OK" philosophy. We will also experience pain as we are purged of our lusts, wants, greeds and lifestyles that we have held on to because they bring us pleasure in the world. Yet, the closer we come to God and get beneath His Light, those things which we thought we held (but really held us) will lose their grip on us.
It is nothing less than a war. We have to struggle to find our freedom from those things which lure us away from God. We have to resist the temptation to run from God's truth when we know we need to push on toward His presence--regardless of how much it hurts. Freedom has always seemed to be something people have had to fight and even die for. As we draw near to our freedom in God, we will find it to be a never-ending battle. But what we have to gain by coming into God's presence, is a freedom that is worth dying for.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:13:11 AM
Transforming the Shapeless, And Filling the Voids

    In him was life; and the life was the light of men (Jn.1:4).

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (Gen.1:1-3). And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (Jn.1:5). In him was life; and the life was the light of men (Jn.1:4). He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not (Jn.1:10). And God saw the light, that [it was] good: and God divided the light from the darkness (Gen .1:4).

If we take the first part of the creation account and replace the word "earth" with the word "man" or "mankind," we will witness the unfolding of a Love plan put into motion by our Heavenly Father. For in the beginning, God created mankind. And mankind was empty (or void) and shapeless in spiritual definition. And darkness was upon the face of the souls of a fallen and lost mankind.
And God came near. And He moved upon the face of the waters of the soul of mankind. He examined the condition of a fallen, empty and needful humanity. And then He established a Plan and put it into motion within His Word.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men (Jn.1:1-4).
God's answer to a people dwelling in darkness was to bring to them the Light. The void of man's heart and the shapelessness of man's spirit could only truly begin to take a "form of godliness" once the Light had come. In the darkness, we do not see our condition, we do not see our emptiness, and we do not see our need. God's Light in Christ was provided so that we might see ourselves in truth--not so we would despair, but that we might realize our need to be recreated by the Creator--to move from being void and shapeless to becoming like our creator as we draw near to Him.
Drawing near to God will transform us. Getting next to Him will cause us to be repulsed by our former state and empower us to turn away from the sin we once embraced when we lived in the darkness. We cannot remain in the darkness and transform ourselves to be like God by our own power. For then we "have a form of godliness" while denying the power of God because we seek to transform ourselves.
Many Christians despair when they try to overcome sin and yet find themselves returning to particular sins time and again. Many Christians are grieved because they try so hard to do what is right yet find themselves all too often missing the mark--falling short of their desired goals for themselves as children of God.
We must keep in mind that the earth did not transform itself. The Light of God came upon it, and then the Hand of God began to shape it. It is as we come beneath the Light of God that we will experience victory over sin and victory over the darkness. And it is as we come beneath His Hand that we will begin to take shape and be filled--having a form of godliness, embracing His power and reflecting His Person as we are transformed after the nature and character of our Lord.

    Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and [your] joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (James 4:7-10).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:13:46 AM
Pillows, Pencils &  Golf Balls

    "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness (Matthew 23:27-28).

What do pillows, pencils and golf balls have in common? Let’s answer that by asking some more questions. What do you get when you take all of the stuffing out of a pillow? A short bed sheet perhaps? Certainly nothing you can use for a decent pillow. And what do you get when you remove the graphite (or ‘lead’) from a pencil? That’s simple, right? You get a hollow stick. And what about a golf ball? What do you get when you remove the core and rubber bands from the center of the golf ball? That would probably leave you with a hunk of plastic that takes fifty strokes just to get it to the green. So, what do pillows, pencils and golf balls have in common? They are just three examples of things that are not much use to anyone if they do not have what is needed on the inside.
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees whom Jesus was addressing in Matthew 23 were the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. From a distance, they looked good. They were dressed in nice apparel and adorned with religious items and symbols that drew attention to who, and what, they were supposed to be. They seemed outwardly to adhere to all the religious do’s and don’ts. They held the places of honor at feasts, and were considered highly respected leaders of the community. Yet Jesus saw through the outward trappings and perceived what was behind their well kept exterior. They were like pillows without stuffing, pencils without graphite, and golf balls without a core. They looked like what others thought they should, yet they were inadequate to truly be useful as the religious leaders the people desperately needed.
Jude speaks of such men like this: “These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm--shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted--twice dead” (Jude 1:12).
Perhaps you have seen their kind—religious leader types that seem to purport much more about themselves than the truth would hold. They dress nice and are adorned with beautiful trinkets and perhaps even some symbols of a faith they claim to stand by. They are as the “clouds without rain” in a season of drought.
In contrast, there are those who have no fancy clothes, no attractive appearance. They hold no prominent place, and are seldom thought of as one who would sit at the place of honor at a banquet table. They are quiet and humble and would rather choose the place of service over a place of being served. They are adorned with nothing eye-catching, but inside, they have a heart of gold.
To those people, Jesus says this: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth…” (Mt. 5:3-).
The pillow, the pencil and the golf ball have a purpose for which each is designed. They have been fashioned, inside and out, for that specific purpose. Though the outside may be made attractive, it is truly what is on the inside that counts.
You may be someone struggling with who you are. Maybe your outside is not what you would like. Maybe your inside needs some work. But consider the golf ball, which even after it has been scarred by time and wear, it is still able to go the distance. And while we may choose to spend time working on our outward appearance that is seen by others; we may want to consider that what is on the inside is what will truly go the distance, if what is there is allowed to be shaped to be pleasing to God.

Draw near to God, read the Bible, pray and be a servant—these are the disciplines of a soul who longs to keep the inside in shape.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:14:24 AM
Faith: Belief in Action

    In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (James 2:17).

The Question of Faith and Works:
There is a faith that can move mountains. Yet if that faith exists in someone today, won't we witness the proverbial mountain being moved? The question of faith and works asks, "Is faith really faith if there is no working out of that faith?" Do we believe that we can believe yet do nothing with what we believe? If we believe that we can believe yet not be inclined to act upon that belief, is it really a true belief?
While I believe the sky is blue I do not find it necessary to do something with that belief. Perhaps it is because that is a truth that just is--the mere acceptance of that fact is enough of an action to suit our purpose. Yet if we take belief a step further we find trust. It is the action based upon a belief that requires more than a mere acceptance of a fact. Belief would say "I believe God can move that mountain," while trust would say, "I believe God will. . ." (and not as some optimistic wishful thinking). I not only accept God's ability to do something, I am "fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform" (Rom.4:21).
There is a belief that is nothing more than the acceptance of fact of who God is and His ability. For "the devils also believe, and tremble" (James 2:19). But their belief does not take the necessary step toward trust. Trust is the line that must be crossed to move from belief (as we know it today) into faith.
I may believe that a chair can be sat in and that it will hold me us up, yet until I sit in the chair I am doing nothing with my belief. What I then do is to make claims to the chair's ability without ever having trusted in it myself.
Many of us claim to have faith in God. By doing so, we would readily admit to a belief that who God claims to be to us--He is. He is our Protector, Provider, Redeemer and Savior. We therefore believe that He will protect us, meet our needs, deliver us from slavery to sin and provide us a means to be restored, renewed and revived.
However, our actions might say something entirely different. For if we fully trust another person with a particular responsibility, then complete trust in them and their ability is something that puts our minds at ease. We relax and are at peace in regard to the task that we have entrusted that person to do. But this does not seem to be the case regarding our so called belief in what God can do. For we make claims regarding what God can do and how He will care for us, only to become anxious, worried and restless. We say that He is capable to care for us, then we work as hard as we can to deal with the situations ourselves.
We have at our request a faith that will move mountains; while we remain content to struggle with molehills. Placing our trust in God's abilities will move us to act upon His direction, it will not lead us to make rash decisions while placing our trust in our own abilities. True belief will move us to take action, but keep in mind that the lack of faith will do the same. True belief will act upon what God wants to do--false hope will cause us to act for fear that God won't. Both will produce works, but only genuine faith will move mountains.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:15:00 AM
Victoriously

    Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . .No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Rom. 8:35-37).

We are told that we are more than conquerors, and so we are. Yet, we may not grasp the depth of that statement and we may never, but we believe it to be so. For we know that the Christian life is one that is meant to be lived victoriously--having victory over sin and the world, having victory over our circumstances, and having victory over self.

Many times do the words, "There's power in the blood," roll off of the tongues of the spiritually anemic. There are many who hold on to a "name it and claim it" faith as though it is some kind of lifeline--tightly, and afraid they may lose their grip. And though our salvation is something that is to be worked out with fear and trembling, it is not something meant to cause anxiety within us for fear of losing it.

Christ has brought to us victory over sin--sin that blocks us from experiencing the power of God, and sin that would lead us to feel severed from God in the emptiness of times we fall short of His glory and are distant from His presence. But our victory is sure because it is in Christ, and not of ourselves, but in the all sufficient work He has accomplished. And this is our hope in His victory: that we may not always fall to the sin that seems to so easily beset us.

Our hope is alive because our hope is in Him who has made us alive through His resurrection--He who is the resurrection and the life. The closer we draw to Him, the more tasteless sin becomes. We are then compelled to draw even closer to Him, and release the sin that we think holds us. We draw ever so near to our Lord and with that, we learn to abide in Him. We find our strength in Him through which we can daily overcome sin, for as we remain in Him and He in us, we will bear much fruit--"apart from [Him we] can to nothing."

In Him there is hope for victory over the circumstances. Not that the circumstances may change, but that we may be encouraged within our circumstances. The circumstances can no longer hold power over us and cause us to move frantically within uncertain times. Instead, we can hold fast and remain at peace. For as life becomes full of turmoil, we can fix our eyes on He who is stable, and we can rest assured that He is still in control.

In Him there is hope for victory over self. For many times we are our worse enemy. We are full of selfish motive and ambition. We gravitate toward what is beneficial to the self. Even some of our good toward others is laced with ulterior motives. But this is not our lot in life, and we can have something else. We can have victory over our own childish and selfish concerns by drawing near to, and remaining in Christ our Lord. For as we spend time with Him, we will begin to take on His nature--we will learn how to love as He loves, how to give expecting nothing in return and how to sacrifice for the good of another.

Sometimes it is so very hard for us to realize that Christ has already brought to us a victory over all of these things--but He has. But that victory is not handed to us as such that we can take it, name it and claim it, and use it outside of the purposes of Christ. The victory is only found in Christ and it is only fully realized through walking closely with Him. His victory does not change our circumstances, but it will always help us to rise above them. It is, after all, His promise to us--signed in His blood, and sealed through His resurrection.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:15:33 AM
Get In Line

    Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ (1Cor.11:1).

We walk a long and weary road in our course throughout this life. What we endure can build us up in stature, character and righteousness--or it can tear us down. But there is hope along the way as we seek a seemingly somewhat distant goal. It is a goal that we might come to be with Christ in the fullness of His glory.

John, like so many others, walked the road of Christianity. He began his journey at a place in time that he vaguely can remember now. And though he wishes that the memories of his "salvation experience" were as vivid as once they were, he has learned that true contentment comes in looking forward to today--not in clinging to the past.
There is truly comfort in the company of others who share a similar concern. John found a certain delight in being around those with whom he felt a common bond of this thing called Christianity. For though he felt that there were few with whom he had a likeness of heart, he counted it a blessing that he was able to call any man a brother.
Taking up his "disciple's cross," to lay aside his own desires, each day he takes his journey where last he had left off. Every day he rises from his sleep, renewing his decision that he will rise and walk again, down a path of much uncertainty.
But John has found within this uncertainty, a certain peace and joy that comes from simply observing godly men and women whom he would call "examples." To him, they are reflections of a Christ he has come to love. They are living illustrations of the teachings of his Lord. They are the people who are like road signs on his path to righteousness, for they point the way for him to walk so he will reach his intended goal. For in his heart he knows that many walk the road ahead--each depending on those closest to the goal to provide the rest some clear direction. And while John knew he must seek the true and godly persons to be to him a compass, he knew as well he must endure to be the same for those who would come behind him.

It is the picture of a lifeline. It spans the length of life and time, stretching from the newest believer to those who near their journey's end. Hand in hand they move from new life to afterlife, holding one another in a grip of love--held between the outstretched arms of Christ.
There are good and right examples for each of us to follow. It is the wiser person who realizes the need to depend on others. We were not salvaged by God to be an island unto self, but to become a link in a chain that is firmly secured to our Lord Jesus Christ. Each link has other links ahead of it. And each link has links behind. As we remain linked to one another, and secure within Christ, we are strong.
As we seek to be individuals in a society of many, and as we seek to be independent so that we can find security within ourselves; let us not forget that there are many who are counting on us to remain linked to others, and remain secured to Christ. Our example to them could mean them getting in the line that leads to eternal life.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:16:06 AM
Letting Go

    For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Mt.6:14-15).

Many of us can recall the names of people and the circumstances surrounding the times we have been hurt. Perhaps it was an enemy who enjoyed persecuting you in front of peers, coworkers, school-mates or friends. Perhaps it was someone close whose fleeting loyalty drove a solid wedge between you--establishing a gap seemingly to difficult to bridge. Maybe you have simply been hurt by someone who did so unintentionally. You know they meant no harm, nor would they ever do anything with the intent to hurt you, yet they hurt you in a way that stirs your soul to pain each time you think of it. Whatever it was may have caused you to begin closing your heart to another, little by little the trust diminishes and the once free and open relationship is now restrained against the thought of being hurt again.
The pain is real and often intense, yet wounds must be given time to heal--and they must be given the proper environment in which to heal fully. We know that in order for a wound to heal it must be doctored. That is, it must be kept clean and free of infection or it will linger on and on.
When we are hurt, we perhaps feel a sense of justice in holding on to the hurt. We do not want to let go or else we may set ourselves up to be hurt again and we do not want to let go so as to always hold that someone accountable for the wrongs he or she did to us. What we may deem as cautious observation of a person based upon their previous acts, might instead be nothing more than our defensive posturing to avoid being hurt any further.
To forgive is to reestablish a trust. This is not to say that I forgive another and pretend that they are above wronging me further. Instead, it is to say that I forgive and reestablish trust in someone who I know very well might fail me further. To forgive is to make yourself vulnerable to one who hurt you, knowing they could hurt you again, yet not holding them in comtempt for past, present or future wrongs.
True forgiveness is unconditional. That is what is so great about the forgiveness of God. He sees our imperfection, our self-centered nature and our tendency to wrong Him, yet He forgives us today knowing very well that we will fail Him tomorrow. He opens Himself up fully and freely to us, His arms open wide to receive us in love--knowing all too well that we will forsake that love if at a particular time we believe it is to our benefit to do so. (Therein we define "sin").
Shall we demonstrate the Love of God to enemies and friends alike, then we must also show forgiveness. Shall we truly forgive another of their wrongs against us? Then we, for the sake of true forgiveness, must forgive not only the sins of today or the past, but also the future.
And so we must let go of pain that we embrace which would prohibit us from   forgetting. We must allow the hurts to turn to prayer of love lifted up on the behalf of those who have hurt us. We must forgive he who wrongs us today and he who wrongs us tomorrow. We must let go so the Spirit can bring true healing of our hearts through truest forgiveness of others.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:16:44 AM
The Tree Beneath

    The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (Ps.18:2).

Imagine that you are making your way up two-by-fours that have been nailed to the side of a tree. The somewhat crooked steps lead up to a treehouse made mostly of branches and scrap lumber. Only a few of the boards look to be of any good quality. The rest appear as though one wrong move might cause the whole thing to come down. Nevertheless, you continue to climb, intending to get into the structure to spend some quality time with your son who has been begging you for days to come with him into his newly built fortress.
Does this not sound like something you might do? Climb up what is uncertain to what may appear unsafe.  What's amazing is that we do it all the time, but the treehouses are people and the steps are good intentions. We see before us people who are imperfect, flawed and who will on occasion fail us. Yet we continue to seek to place trust in them so long as they do not hurt us.
When placing our trust in "unsound structures" many things can go wrong and many dangers exist. There is a danger first, that we do not recognize the dangers. That is to say that we look at the flawed structure as though it were perfect. And then when the structure fails us and we get hurt as a result, we act surprised and swear never to trust that structure again--or any one like it.
Another danger could be in how we treat the structure. If we place our weight upon the weakest places, say a loose board or one with a huge crack in it, we are sure to come tumbling down. We cannot expect to hand a bottle of alcohol to an alcoholic and tell him not to drink it, then leave him completely alone and then suddenly be surprised when he fails. It is necessary to place trust, yet it is necessary to use discretion as well. We should not expect the treehouse to hold up to pressures at its weakest area.
Still there are situations and circumstances that will undoubtedly lead us to misplace our trust. We may not see the danger, or we may unwittingly apply pressure to the weak spots. Why? Because we are imperfect even as those we place our trust in are imperfect. Because of that, we often fail others from the beginning when we place the expectations on them never to fail us. Then it is not only that they let us down, but that we also let them down by expecting them to hold us up--regardless of circumstances.
But there is a saving grace. We have a way that we can place our trust in others and keep ourselves out of harms way. Any two treehouses are seldom built alike, yet they all have something in common--they are built in a tree. The tree that is alive and sturdy remains secure and strong, even when the house is flawed. The best place to place our trust then is in the tree beneath the treehouse. We sit or stand on areas that are firmly supported by the branches of the tree.
Christ is a strong and living tree. He is always our security even when others fail us due to their flaws, and even when we fail ourselves due to our flaws. But we do not come to rest on ourselves or others. We instead come to rest and place our trust in He who holds us up.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:19:16 AM
The Sleeping Giant

    Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, "I am the Christ," and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains (Mt.24:4-8).

I have heard the church of today referred to as "the sleeping giant." Perhaps we can see the truth of that statement when we consider the influence the church has on the world today--or lack thereof. That is not to be critical, but to say that the direction of influence seems to be heading in the opposite direction. The world has definitely become the greater influence on society and on the church.
In Matthew 24, Jesus tells of the condition of the earth toward the end times. He speaks of political and social unrest, He speaks of earthquakes, famines, nations rising against nation, and so called "spiritual leaders" claiming to hold the answers--claiming to be "the Christ." As Jesus explains these events, He compares them to birth panes to illustrate the frequency and intensity of the occurrences. As the end draws near, the events will become closer and closer together, eventually leaving no rest time between catastrophes. The intensity of the events will be of, shall I say, "Biblical proportions."

There is a point wherein a women who is giving birth is waken from the deepest sleep by the pains of the onset of labor. As many can attest to, it does not matter what time of the night it is--two, three in the morning--when the pains hit hard and the baby's birth is now a soon to come reality, mom's not going to truly rest until the baby comes.

Looking at the world today can make one wonder, "What is it going to take to wake up the 'sleeping giant'?" How troubled is this world going to have to be before the church comes up out of its slumber to seek to deal with the surrounding circumstances rather than ignoring them? How frequent and intense will the events have to be to snap us out of our complacency, wherein we do life as usual--chasing after careers and creature comforts--blatantly closing our eyes to the inevitable coming reality?
The end is coming. And it would be better for us if we see that as a reality now rather than waiting until it is upon us. Life is not about making a living and surrounding ourselves with the people, places and things that please us. And until we stop chasing after the American "dream" we will remain a people, and a church, in slumber.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:21:35 AM
Square Pegs and Round Holes

    No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved" (Mt.9:16-17).

It has been said, and seems to be true, that all people are born with an innate desire to come to know the Lord. It has been said that we all possess a "Christ-shaped" hole, if you will, within our souls, and that there is nothing else that can fit into that hole except Christ Himself. A soul, therefore, without Christ contains a void where Christ should be, and this void produces a longing or a hunger which must be filled. But as with many things, we find quickly that although our bodies have certain needs, we often confuse those needs and therefore fill the soul or body with that which pacifies rather than that which truly satisfies--"that" being the very thing we need.

Without proper education, whether it be by experience or external teaching, we cannot identify our need, but can only identify that we have a need. The entirety of who we are will then begin to search all that we know, believe or have experienced, in order to determine how best to meet the need.
In a godless society, or one where God is more of a vague and relative figurehead, there is very little to point people to what will truly meet their spiritual need. It is like an entire community being lost in the woods, each person possessing a compass but no one knows how to really use it. And many of those who do know how to use the compass are confused because it seems that no two compasses look the same. Simply put, we live in a blind society where the blind lead the blind. Even the religious figureheads and individual churches have difficulty seeing anything alike--all professing to know the way of Christ while few show any resemblance to Him.

We do not truly understand our own plight, and most refuse to understand the plight of others. For it is easier to criticize, ostracize and judge than it is to love and minister. It is far easier to point out the sins of the godless than it is to help them find the Truth that will sustain them and fill their needs in full. We feel secure in our faith, saying that our void has been filled by the presence of God in Christ, then turn to gnash our teeth at homosexuals and abortionists. Have we forgotten the plight we once endured? How we once had no direction and sought to fill the void of our soul with anything that seemed it might fit? Can we not understand how people who have never heard of or seen examples of Christ might try just about anything to find love, acceptance and fulfillment?

Perhaps the reason we cannot look on the godless offenders with the love of God is because we have filled ourselves with a love for self. We shake our heads at what the godless fill themselves with to fill their personal void, yet we who claim to have the answer continue to fill our Christ-shaped place with "what-ever" seems to fit. Ours is not the blatant seven abominations unto the Lord (Prov.6:16-19), instead, ours is more subtle. Filling ourselves with want of material things and earthly possessions, we work harder at providing for self and family than we do at being a compass to a lost world. Yet we contrast ourselves with the homosexuals, murders and thieves and find comfort in ourselves for we are not like they. And the void in our lives that should be filled with the Love of God remains content to hold onto the "square pegs" that seem to fit.

Whether Christian or pagan, it is a godless act to seek to fill our Christ-shaped places with anything that is not of Him. Only Christ can truly satisfy. And we must ask ourselves just what we are trying to do to satisfy ourselves each day. Why do we seek after jobs, financial security, homes, and families, and how much of those things do we try to squeeze into the places that only Christ belongs?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:22:22 AM
I Believe I Can Fly

    The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit (Jn.3:8).

It comes at times as a gentle breeze. At other times it is a force to be reckoned with. You cannot see it but you know it is there, for you can see its effects and "hear its sound." The wind is all around us everyday. We do not consider it to have a beginning or and end in time or space--it has just always been--and will remain to be.
Imagine not believing in the wind. You would be thought to be ludicrous. "No one in there right mind would say they don't believe in the wind." Would they? Perhaps if they were blind, they could say they do not believe. And yet, we would wonder, "Can't they at least hear it?" Perhaps the person is deaf as well, and that's why he does not believe in the wind. We might then ask, "Well, can't he at least feel it when he is outside?" Well then, what if he has never been outside? Now we are really starting to stretch it.
And yet, there are so many who would see God's work but who are spiritually blind. There are so many who might hear God's Truth but they have become dull in hearing. And there are many who might at least feel God's presence but along with being spiritually deaf and blind, they have lost there ability to feel.
There are also those of us who have seen, heard and even felt God in our lives, but have since shut our eyes and ears and spiritually locked ourselves into a house of self-trust and self-security. Many of us who have trusted in God have become frightened by where "the wind" might take us, and have withdrawn to a place of safety--a place in which we feel comfortable. We have forgotten how to truly trust in God and have instead become more dependent upon self. We have forgotten how to rest in God's peace and not worry. We have forgotten that Jesus came to bring life, and life more abundant. In short--we have forgotten how to fly.

                Upon the wings of butterflies
                and tails of whippoorwills,
                there is a grace my eyes behold
                and for my heart a peace that stills.
                As in the birds I see the joy
                of hearts that are completely free,
                And in the wind that holds them up
                I see God's faithfulness to me.
                To see winged beauty glide upon
                the currents of the wind,
                as easy as my human feet upon
                the ground do stand;
                It is the essence of a faith
                which chooses not to trust the eye,
                but finds the wind beneath the wing
                is all I really need to fly.

God comes at times as a gentle breeze. At other times He is a force to be reckoned with. You cannot see Him but you know He is there, for you can see His effects and hear His sound. He is all around us everyday. We do not consider Him to have a beginning or and end in time or space--He has just always been--and will remain to be. To not believe in Him is ludicrous. And to place trust in something other than Him will leave you standing on the ground--when indeed, you could be soaring.

    But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:23:01 AM
Yet Not I

    I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Gal.2:20).

A depressing thought. A frustrating, gnawing at the heart. What is desired cannot be possessed. What is desired to be, cannot be achieved. And the milestones, once reached, seem to lose their glamour and flare as a soul ponders, "What's the point?"
He slips into a mild depression that cannot be hidden by the fake smile he dons. No one is fooled. He tries to clear his mind and focus on other things, yet he is drawn like a magnet to think about his emptiness and what perhaps might ever fill it.
And so his thoughts spiral inward, stealing his ability to concentrate on anything else. "Why?" is the lingering question--even when he does not verbalize it, he continues to ask it in his heart.
"Life is meaningless!" he sharply retorts as though in debate with himself. Seeing no other way, he writes his last note to the world.

We seldom know why someone ends their own life. Sure, we can speculate. Yet, we cannot get inside their mind and ever truly understand. Did they hate themselves? Did they hate life? Did they hate us? Did they feel lonely or afraid, or did they feel that life was hopeless? The questions could go on forever. And even still there are many who are asking themselves today, "Why go on?"
I won't pretend to hold the answers to the questions surrounding suicide, but I will claim to know the One who does hold the answers. And yet I would say that due to my own difficulty with understanding the "Why?" of it all, I would readily proclaim that I am sure to unwittingly blind myself to the answers that God would provide.
But in considering what leads a person to this end we might consider the fate of all humanity. For though there are few of us who would kill the body, there are many of us who would kill the soul. Both are happening daily to some degree. For what draws a person to a chosen and untimely end is not something that happened over night. The physical end was preceded by an inward dying that occurred over time. This in not to be confused with a spiritual death related to heaven or hell. Instead it is regarding what brings life to us--and what brings death.
True life is brought through death. This is not physical or spiritual death but instead it is the self-death. As we die to self we find life. For in so doing, we find our greatest fulfillment will come through serving and loving others. Once we die to self, we live to Christ and we live to others. Therein we find purpose, meaning and contentment. Therein we find what makes life worth while. Therein we find reason to go on.
To live to self is not life, but death. The more we seek to do for self, the emptier we become. Life loses it's meaning and its purpose. We then become disheartened and discontent. As our thoughts turn inward to our wants and our problems and concerns, we stop drawing from that which is outside of us that brings us life. We can then no longer experience life because life has become centered entirely on self.
Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, depression, self-pity, etc. are perpetuated by a person's growing intensity of inward focus. The more the self focuses on self, the greater the problems become. Where the true need is to move outside of self, the person withdraws, and in seeking to take care of self, they do self harm instead.
The question raised here is one that seeks to draw the line between meaningless and meaningful death. The soul who lives a life that is inwardly focused is a soul that slowly kills itself. It is the empty shell of what could have been--lifelessness where there should be life. But the soul who lives a life that is outwardly focused--living to Christ and others--is a soul that finds new life each day, and flourishes even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances.
When waters are allowed to flow freely the stream is replenished, but a dammed up stream will stagnate without a proper spillway.
If we desire to find the cure for care, and the remedy for frustration, worry and depression; we might try reversing the flow from inward to outward. The soul that dies to self will live, but the soul who seeks to save itself shall indeed be empty.

    Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it (Luke 17:33).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:23:37 AM
Peaches and Ministry

    Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mk.10:41-45).

A certain man was hired by another man to do odd jobs around the home. He worked for him a number of times for a fair amount of pay. It came about that the last time he worked for the man, that he told him after the job was completed not to worry about paying him as he said, "This one's on me." The astonished employer looked back to a woman who was with him. The woman seemed shocked as well, and just stood still for a moment then uttered, "That's a switch," in an almost disbelieving fashion. The employer thought for a moment then told the man to follow him. He led him into the garage and to several large baskets of fresh peaches. The employer looked to the other man and asked him to take one of the baskets of his choice. But the peaches were not offered as payment--but instead, they were a token of gratitude--a gift for the giver.

The power of sacrificial service and selfless giving is a power that moves the heart, and baffles the mind. It is seldom that we consider that someone would do anything without expecting something in return. And when we experience such giving, we might often become suspicious or skeptical, wondering what strings are attached to the gift, and what are the true intentions of the giver.
It would seem that our nation, society and even our churches are full of people who are more accustomed to serving self, than serving others. True and sacrificial giving are so foreign to us that when we see the genuine article, it astonishes us. I once knew of a situation where a church wanted to hire someone to cook Wednesday night supper. They could not understand it when a lady in the church stepped forward and offered to do it for free--as a ministry. They insisted on paying her, yet she insisted more greatly because she wanted it to be her service, not her job.
What does it mean to minister? The dictionary says that ministry is "the act of service." When we consider serving one another in Christ, do we generally attach strings, or paychecks? We might consider that true ministry is a gift, and "paid ministry" as a contradiction of terms. For those who truly minister are focused on meeting the needs of another--aren't they? They are not expecting anything in return--are they? As a minister the person does a service requiring no compensation, his or her ministry is a gift--a love offering, if you will. The response to the gift is "peaches." That is to say that as the minister gives, it is also given unto him. The service he does for others reciprocates a service to himself. Not that he desires to be served, but that the "peaches" he receives from whom he serves is a product of his ministry sown in love.
It is sad to say what has become of the word ministry today. There are "paid" ministers who would not "minister" without the pay. There are many who are called to serve who will not serve to meet the needs of a church who cannot guarantee they will be able to meet his needs. There are churches and fellowships who will not lend a van to another church, freely offer the use of their recreation center to a local Big Brothers group, or perform simple wedding ceremonies without first defining the terms of payment for "services" rendered.
With all the various examples of "ministry" and "service," perhaps it would be good of Webster to redefine the words--it would seem that we certainly have.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:24:16 AM
What Seek Ye?

    And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour (Jn.1:36-39).

Our hearts seem to be unraveled at times, and our minds seem to lack any real concrete understanding as to where we are going, what we are seeking and why we seek it. The best intentions fail us and our motivations blind us all too often. What we often think we seek is often not what we truly seek. Even as we seek Christ we might on occasion find that in reality we seek something from Him or of Him, or perhaps some part of Him we desire rather than Him in His entirety.
As we know, we do not always seek Him but instead we often seek our own. So we see we must first make the choice to seek after Him, get behind Him and follow. It is then He turns to us and says, "What seek ye?" We are then perhaps slightly baffled by the question. If we follow Him, isn't it He that we seek? Why then would He pose such a question?
He would ask, however, not so that He might understand what we seek, for He knows already what is "in man" (Jn.2:24-25). He asks instead so that we might look within ourselves and discover for ourselves the what, who and why that we follow Him.
There are those who say to seek the peace of God, or seek God and you will find peace. In either case, peace is the focus of the quest and simply sees Jesus as a means. And what if our aim is the "joy of the Lord?" To know the Lord is to know His joy. Once we embrace Him we need not seek any further.
But "What seek ye?" Heaven? Salvation? Joy, peace, acceptance? We do possess a need for these and it is a need that only Christ can fill. Yet these are not the goals of our quest, they are simply the benefits. If then, we truly seek, we will seek the Person of our Lord. Not that we might know heaven, salvation, joy, peace and acceptance--but that we might know Him. That we might come to know Him and to be known by Him.
Some might contend that we have no choice but to seek what He gives us ahead of seeking Him, because by nature we are self-centered creatures. And while that is true of our flesh nature, it is not true of the standard Christ has set for us.
As we answer Christ's question, "What seek ye?" we come face to face with our raw humanity. We see our imperfections and impure motivations. Not that we might wallow in a pool of self pity, but that we may learn how to seek Him in truth--and not pretense, hoping to receive the benefits of knowing Him.
God seeks to have a relationship with you and me, not so He can get something for Himself. Therein we find our standard of love we will ever endeavor to reach. Therein we see our need for Him to develop that kind of love within us, for we within our selfish natures will never know how to love like God loves without Him doing it through us. But as He develops His love in us, we will one day begin to mature and say to Him, "I love you. Not because of what you do for me, but simply because of who you are."


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:24:51 AM
Of Love And Doctrine

    Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.
    (2 Tim.23-25).

Mid afternoon a knock came on the door. John knew of no one who was coming by, so he half way prepared himself for another salesman. He opened the door to find two nicely dressed ladies standing before him. He noticed their smiles, and then noticed their Bibles. "Hello," John said inquisitively. One of the ladies proceeded to tell him that they were the members of a local group of Jehovah's Witnesses. She barely got the next sentence out of her mouth before John slammed the door and went on about his business. John felt like he was doing a righteous duty--"slamming the door" on false doctrines. So much so that he proudly shared the story with several Christian brothers at church the next Sunday.
Perhaps you have heard similar stories before, or perhaps you have heard other Christians proclaiming that such actions are the only ones we should take, saying, "When one of those folks comes to your door just slam the door in their face. Have nothing to do with them. Nothing you say is going to change their minds."
It may be true that nothing we say will change their minds, but what about what we do? What does the slamming of a door communicate to them? Can you imagine John smiling kindly at the two ladies and saying "Jesus loves you, and I love you too," right before slamming the door in their faces?
I once sat down with two Mormon elders who had come to pay a similar visit. We must have talked for at least an hour. I must say it was a pleasant meeting. They asked me a couple of questions, one of which opened the door for me to testify, not of doctrine, but of love. We could have easily sat and debated scripture and become frustrated with each other as no one would budge from their stance. Instead we were able to communicate. Why? Because we did not discuss issues which we were sure to disagree, instead we discussed God's love for us.
Some people might adamantly disagree with this approach. They might argue that correct doctrine must be proclaimed. While that is true it is also true that truth must be spoken in love. Therefore it is love that precedes doctrine and it is love that empowers it.
As the elders and I talked, I was able to share with them my testimony without scripture. That is to say, I told them about the love of God I had experienced and I shared who He is to me. I asked them about their relationship with God, and I was listened to as I shared about my relationship with God as well. It was a time of sharing, a time of nurturing and a time that was conducive to a good sewing of the gospel seeds. For though the two elders held vast knowledge of scripture and Mormon doctrine, they still seemed hungry for the love relationship that I described to them.
I never saw the two elders again. I cannot say they were converted at our meeting, and I do not know what became of them. But I do know that the Love of God which Christ manifested in me gave them a lot to think about.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:25:26 AM
Words In Deed

    Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:15-16).

There are those who do not know to do good, yet they do it. And there are those who know to do good and do not do it. And there are those who fall some where in the middle--or perhaps no where within any part of it.  Many of us may feel that we are what you might call "people of the Book," yet with all our theological soundness, there are perhaps not nearly enough of us who practice the truths we profess.
We are a people guided by pastors and theologians who diligently dissect the Word of God to further discover its truths. We have our meetings and times of Bible studies, and leave such sessions thrilled by the intellectual stimulations and new spiritual insights. Yet, all too often we then take our morsels of truth home with us and put them up on our book shelves to gather dust, to later wonder why we don't see God's power in our lives.
If we look around, we will see some who practice mercy, some who practice truth, and perhaps some who have learned how to balance the two.  While mercy without truth can lead to a lax approach to the adherance to God's standards; so also truth without mercy can lead to cold, heartless legalism.  The point is that we should be careful not to stand too far to one side of a line that we draw to separate mercy and truth, but we must realize that there is no line between God's Turth and God's Mercy--they are simply qualities of Christ that we must allow to be manifested in us so we can effectively minister.
While it is true that all people must learn God's truth and allow it to guide them, it is as great a need for those who have learned the truth to live out that truth within their lives. We can stand back and point fingers and complain about other faiths who seem to embrace incorrect ideology. But it is far too often we who stand back and point out truth, are guilty of taking no actions of mercy.
We could spend hours each day in God's Word, and we could study our commentaries, word studies, lexicons and expository dictionaries; but if we do not put our faith into action (not words alone) it is nothing. And those who do not seem to know what is right, yet do what is right, they will be the ones who make the greatest impact.
Inflated intellects will not save the world. Neither will love without truth. As James has written, faith without works is dead. It is a faith that lies dormant within a believer who never shares it. It becomes a stagnate pond as it has no outlet. Before we point our fingers at those who are seem Biblically impaired, we better remember that where they are moving--we might be standing still.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:26:01 AM
Behind the Veil

    Read Hebrews 9:6-10:25
    Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain (veil, NAS,KJV) that is , his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water (Heb.10:19-22).

Only once per year was someone permitted to enter the Most Holy Place--the place wherein they would come into the very presence of God. And the only person permitted to enter was the high priest, and only after he had undergone the proper cleansing ceremonies. No other person was permitted to enter behind the veil. To do so would have been to write their own death sentence. They instead could go no further than the Holy place. It was in that place that many ceremonial functions were carried out. It was in that place that they could come and worship God, doing so from behind a curtain, continually separated from His presence. Even as they entered their place of worship they remained at a distance.
We perhaps take for granted the ease of our access to the very presence of God in Spirit. Christ entered though the curtains that stand to separate us from the living God. Having being clean already, yet taking upon Himself the sins of the world He incurred God's wrath and suffered death for us all. And being given access to the very presence of God, we who are no longer separated from God by veils or curtains, can boldly and confidently approach Him with assurance that though we come into the presence of pure Holiness, we will not die but live, and that only because Christ died in our place.
But now let us consider how we who are given such access to the Most Holy Place remain content to dwell in the Holy Place behind the veil. But the veil is not one established because of our sin--that veil was removed through the work of Christ. Instead it is a veil that we raise up of our own free will. We have access to God, but this is not something we consider to be grasped and therefore we cling instead to the religious activities behind the veil. Rather than enter into the presence of God, we remain at a safe and secure distance. We grow content to do church and even perhaps read the Bible on a daily basis. Yet the thought of entering into the transforming presence of the living God frightens us. And so we hold to ritual and device to demonstrate to God our love for Him, and perhaps even to demonstrate to ourselves our love for Him. And all of this being done from a distance.
We are a people hidden behind veils. We hide ourselves behind veils that protect us from becoming vulnerable in relationships. We hide behind veils that provide to us security from the world, our friends, our family and our church. Many of us may refer to these veils as masks. They keep us from being seen for who we are, and enable us to look upon others through self edifying glasses.
Our veils have become our security blankets. God had established the first veil to keep us safe from His wrath. He then made a way to completely remove the veil so that we could approach Him in His Holiness. But even as we are afraid to be truly known by others, we are also afraid of being fully known by God. We are afraid that He will look at our inward selves and see the perverted and wicked thoughts within, and that when He sees what is there, that He will turn away and have nothing else to do with us. But as Christ removed the veil, God looked upon us all with Love. Not as one who looks through a veil, but as one who looks through truth.
A bride lifts her veil to signify the entrance into a union with her husband. Christ has removed the veil that stood between our God and us . We no longer have to fear God's wrath. We no longer have to be afraid of God fully knowing who we are. We no longer have to be a people who dwell behind the veil.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:26:36 AM
Giving Up Without A Fight

    For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph.6:12).

Within some of the times that the nation of Israel was held captive, they found themselves separated from the life they once knew, the land they called home, and a freedom they loved. But many of their captors followed a brilliant plan which would in essence make the people who were captives become more like citizens of the nation who carried them off, than prisoners. The captors would slowly work them into their society so that they would become comfortable with their new lives. They would give them a place, a purpose and a home so that over time they would claim their captor's land as their own home.
Doing so would instill within the captives a sense of loyalty to their captors. It was a way to turn them from possibly being rebellious patriots into being faithful citizens. Sure, they were allowed to keep some of their religious freedoms and practices, and some of their cultural and traditional customs. But for many those things became little more than time honored heritage which made up a only a small part of who they were individually; while on a greater scale, they took on the resemblance of their captors--eventually becoming as one with them while clinging to their past homes, people and God with sentimental attachment only.
Why not fight back? In such a situation it may have often been easier to "make the best of it." Life was hard enough and who wants to live a life complicated by chaos and conflict. When the captor is willing to give you a place among their society, a home to live in, and overall a pretty good life, why not surrender? Over time the memories would fade and the people would grow content to live their lives in the foreign land. For even that which is foreign becomes the familiar over time.
There would be many benefits from conforming. The people would be able to live in peace. If the nation who took them captive has a massive empire they would no longer have to worry about some other country taking them captive--one who might treat them poorly. And if all of that is not enough, the captor was so strong that resistance would be a waste of time and lives, so why resist?
We might consider these things and consider ourselves blessed. We live in a nation that is strong, one in which we are free to live as we choose, and one in which we have religious freedoms. We have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness--don't we? And yet what is the difference between us and those who are held captive?
For Christians there is not much difference at all. For even though we claim to be free, we often practice our Christianity within the closets of sentimental tradition. Rather than it being seen as the core of who we are, it is seen more as a private and personal individual choice. After all, we don't want to be fanatical about it, that might stir up chaos and conflict. It's easier to be captive to the culture and customs of the society in which we live than to stand against the forces that keep us as a loyal and peaceful part of a decadent land.
We as Christians have allowed ourselves to be taken in by the land in which we live. We have taken a home, purpose and place within the society in the land in which we live, and we have become comfortable. We have turned away from being a threat to our society to being supporters of it within our lifestyles. Our religious freedoms and practices have become little more than time honored heritage. On a greater scale, we have taken on the resemblance of those in whose land we dwell, and have become as one with them while our memories of our promised land fade with the passing of each generation.
We are Christians. We live in a foreign land. One in which, over time, we have allowed to become home and cause our memories of our heritage to fade. We have forgotten what it means to be Christian, and have chosen instead to become a faithful and contributing member to a godless society. We have surrendered to live like those around us, and have forgotten that God has given us the land.
It is time we refuse to silently stand by and watch our Christian nation be destroyed and our children along with it. It is time we remember that our God is bigger than any thing, nation, society or person that holds us captive. It is time we remember our heritage is not as Americans, it is as Christians. It is time we remember who we are. It is time we remember whose land this is and it is time we take it back.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:36:12 AM
Stand Firm

    Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1.Cor.15:58).

I like to fish. I am not that great of a fisherman, nevertheless, I enjoy kicking back on a lake shore or riverbank and drowning a few worms. I come from a family who enjoys fishing, I married a woman who's dad is quite a fisherman, and I have a son who seems to out fish me all too often--as he would be sure to tell you.
When I fish, I would rather use a bobber and live bait than to use a lure. With a bobber I can just toss it out there and let it sit. And then I can sit back and relax and patiently wait for a bite. But even that is not all I would hope it would be. If there is a slight wind or current, my bobber is bound and determined not to stay where I put it. Even if I cast out past the place I want it to be and reel it in to just the perfect place, it isn't long before It moves so close to shore so that my bait comes to rest on the bottom--often hugging a bed of underwater weeds or rocks or some such thing.
I reel it in. I cast it out. Over and over, I have to recast to put it where I want it to be, because time after time, it drifts away from where it needs to stay.
Some days it seems my Christian walk has been taking lessons from the drifting bobber. No matter how diligently and frequently I try to keep things where they are in the right place, it seems that the influences of life keep causing me to drift. I manage to stay in the water, but I start to feel like I'm dragging the bottom. At those times I realize where I need to be, but it becomes a constant struggle to remain there.
Though the place to remain is in Christ with our focus on Him, we may often find that we are like the slow drifting bobber. We find our focus and launch out to be strong and keep things where they need to be, only to wake up the next day on the other side of the bed, or perhaps to a whole new set of problems. And as life pulls our eyes away from our Lord, we begin to drift. And we might possibly continue to drift until we get to a place that we suddenly notice that we are not where we should be.
I have seen bobbers that seem to ride the rippled waves and remain where they were cast. This is because there is something holding the bobber and line that is stronger than the breeze and ripples that beat against them.
Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 15:58 to stand firm and to let nothing move us. How do we do this? Paul adds, "always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord." A heart that remains diligent in serving God will find that the cares of this life become less and less important, and they become less of a distracter.
It takes a lot of strength to remain where we need to be, and to remain focused on Christ above the circumstances. But even as it is God's will for us to remain in Him, He will provide us the means to do so. So be encouraged--stand firm, diligently serve God and lift your eyes off of your circumstances. Determine in your heart to say, "Even if it means losing everything, I will serve the Lord." Therein lies the strength to remain in Him and to stand firm.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:36:47 AM
Rough Edges

Read Matthew 13:25-40

    These six [things] doth the LORD hate: yea, seven [are] an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness [that] speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren (Prov.6:16-19).

We often compare the process of God's work in our lives as one of smoothing off the rough edges. The sinful nature and selfish characteristics that once defined who we were are no longer desirable, and if they are to remain they will hinder God's desired outcome of who we are to be in Him. The rough edges are the thorns that distract us from God's purpose, they are the eyesores that keep others from seeing the nature of Christ within us, and they are the calluses that prevent us from being sensitive to the movement of the Spirit of the living God.
We indeed are less than perfect and praise God, He's not done with us yet. But God forbid that rather than have a few rough edges that we would instead become the rough edges. God forbid that we would actually become so callused and desensitized to God's purpose that we would seem to be and eyesore and something that most would desire to see removed. And that not because we are not perfect, but because we would allow ourselves to be the kind of people who bring strife instead of encouragement and turmoil rather than aid. For within a church body there are many who need encouraged and there are those who are encouragers. But to our sorrow there are also those who are the rough edges, who have become nothing more than hard spots in the body of Christ, who distract from the purposes of God and prevent the body from being sensitive to the movement of the Spirit.
What would we say of such people? Is it God's intention that we suffer them a little while longer? That we just put up with them because, "That's just how they are," or "They'll never change so we will just have to bear with them" until. . .until when? Until they pass on? Then what is to be said of the people who take their place--the one's less noticeable until the other is gone? We would not take a non-confrontational stance with regard to having cancer--would we? Trying to ignore a cancer until it someday goes away is seldom a wise choice. A person who has cancer realizes that he must acknowledge it and take steps to get rid of it. But let their be a cancer in the body of Christ and we fold our hands and mumble under our breath--waiting for the matter to resolve itself.
Where would we find ourselves in that mix? Are we the rough edges that need to be removed so that the body of Christ might flourish? Do we argue and fight to get our way in the decisions of the church with little concern for God's direction? Are we a compass to God's direction or a distraction from His purpose?
If we are not the rough edges, are we those who would sit by and hope it will all resolve itself? We sit by and wait for the sore-spots to heal, leave or eventually die, and keep our mouths shut the whole time with exception to grumbling behind the backs of others?
Or are we those who refuse to allow the church of the living God to become callused and desensitized to our culture and the sin of a lost and darkened world? We refuse to let the church become a passive audience to the self-destructive behaviors of our world today. We do not let the calluses thicken because we dig beneath them until we strike a nerve, shaking church members out of comfortable complacency.
Where is it that you see yourself? How will you deal with rough edges? God has a perfect way to deal with the rough edges in our personal lives and in the body of the church, let's not pretend the rough edges don't exist, but instead, give them up to God for His loving hand to smooth all that is rough.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:37:20 AM
Within Yelling Distance

    Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love (John 15:4-10).

As a parent, I am concerned for the safety of my children. As such, and like so many other families, we have our established rules that have been made for the purpose of keeping the peace, safety, sanity, and so forth of each member of the family. One such rule has been that when the children go out to play, that they must stay “within yelling distance.” The underlying theory has been that if they cannot hear us, then they are too far away--too far for us to reach them--too far to hear what they may need to hear in a time they need to hear it.
What we want for our children is simply for their best. We may not always have the best ideas on how to bring that about, but we know that with God’s help, we can discover some of what that is and help our children to discover that as well. This is not a process that is always easy to figure out, but there is one thing that is very certain and that is that God has our children’s best interest at heart. Just as God has every one of his children’s best interest at heart.
It is because of the love that God has for us that He has established rules for us to follow. The ten commandments, the beatitudes, and so much more has been provided for us to have a clear understanding of what is necessary for us to do to stay within the boundaries God has set for us. Perhaps the eleventh commandment could be, “You shall stay within yelling distance.” But why would such a rule be necessary? Perhaps because, as we are His children, it is necessary for us to be in such a place that we can continuously hear the voice of our Father.
Though such a commandment does not exist, we can see within scripture the principle of, “...stay within yelling distance.” Moreover, we see within scripture a principle that says, get as close as you can to God, “Draw near to God,” and “Remain” with Him even as branches remain with the vine they are a part of. James tells us, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (4:8). In John 15, Jesus explains the principle of remaining in Him, even as a branch must remain in the vine to continue to draw life through the vine.
Why is it necessary to “stay within yelling distance?” So that we can hear the voice of our Father. We must die daily to selfish want; focus our eyes on Christ through times of Bible reading, meditation on Him, and prayer; and we must turn over to Him the cares and concerns of our lives. In so doing, we discipline ourselves to remain in Him--and in the boundaries that He has set up for our best good. And in so doing, we will remain in a place where we can hear His voice, know His will, and know what it means to have a rich and abundant life in Christ.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 23, 2006, 11:37:54 AM
Perceived--Much More

    So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them (Genesis 1:27).

There are some things you just cannot sum up in a sentence, or even a short paragraph. Perhaps someone would ask you to define "love" in fifty words or less, and no matter how much you try, you may find it difficult to truly sum up all the aspects of love within such a limited amount of words. Perhaps you are two minutes away from the time you must leave a get together, and you are asked to described an important event in your life that you know would take much longer to explain all the details involved. There are so many topics for discussion and issues of interest that we would begin with, "Where do I start?" and wonder how we would ever do our explanation justice because there just is not enough time to go into it. But let us be asked to tell someone what we think about a person. How long a discourse do we engage into? Truth be known, we have far more to say about issues and events than we have to say about most people; and rather than seeking to convey a full and adequate understanding regarding another, we often choose to sum up an entire soul and that soul's life within brief statements and packaged labels.
How can an individual be summed up? There is much more to us than meets the eye, so why is it that we so easily and briefly describe the traits and characteristics of a whole person? Is it because it is too difficult for us to adequately define a person? Indeed, we are inadequate, nevertheless we try to do just that. Perhaps it is just easier to package a person to present a precise picture to someone else. This makes us appear that we know more about the person than we really do, and is certainly a lot more favorable for us than to simply say, "I don't know him well enough to do him justice in my description." .
Maybe we suppose that we cannot possibly describe a person so that another has a good understanding of that person, so we feel inclined to use short characteristic words to convey some understanding of who a person is. While this is true that we cannot ever describe a person adequately, we should never suppose that we can; or that someone else's description of another to us should be seen as an entire picture of the person in question.
The point is this: it takes away from a person when we attach labels and characteristics to them and act as though that pretty well sums them up. We are people with full lives--each one full of purpose and promise, each one full of hope, dreams and desires--and each one created in the image of God. The same God, who by the way, we inadequately try to sum up in theological expressions of His Person to bring clarity of understanding. And though that may be a noble purpose, it none the less can diminish the fact that His Person is truly beyond our comprehension. And therefore, it takes something away from Him within our perception of Him, to try and package Him in easy to read wrappings.
There is a due respect we owe to God simply because of who He is. We do not need to explain His entirety, and we know we could not possibly do that anyway. To act as though we could briefly describe God as a matter of fact and within an entirety, one would have to be confused as to who God really is and perhaps somewhat arrogant as to think that they could ever adequately describe Him. In our attempts to describe another person, and to sum them up for someone else to understand who that person is, perhaps we need to consider Who's image they were fashioned in. There is more to a person than we could ever summarize in a sentence or even a brief paragraph.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:07:31 PM
June 1

Changing Minds, Changing Directions, Changing Lives

    Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (1 Cor.5:17).

Coming into the transforming presence of God is something that will open our eyes to a great many things. Drawing near to Him will guarantee that we will begin to rethink the way we think, and question the way we have always considered things to be. We progress forward toward Him until we face areas we may be unwilling to give up, or that we are not wanting to consider changing. It's then that we shelter our eyes from His light as He reveals truth that we choose not to see.
The painful reality is most painful to our flesh. Our flesh chooses to cling to that which is loved in the flesh--those things that are of this earth which bring to us a sense of security and comfort. Our flesh is unwilling to part with such things or even to consider doing so. It is not until we can willingly deny ourselves and selfish nature, that we will move forward toward God. It is not until we are willing to abandon all we have ever treasured, believed or thought we knew, that we will truly "throw off everything that hinders" so that we can fully come into the transforming presence of our Lord.
I have heard people ask, in reference to heaven, "What will there be to do up there?" or "What will we do for fun?" Such questions seem innocent enough, yet they are contrived only out of that part of humanity that seeks self-pleasure--the part that "savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men." To think otherwise is to yield to the self-deceit of the flesh, allowing our thinking to remain imprisoned by the thoughts which once led us, rather than our thinking being transformed in the presence of God. To seek heaven is to seek God and to forsake self and that which is pleasing to self. For, "whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it" (Lk.17:33).
A great many things hinder us from coming into the transforming presence of God. Continuing to hold to ideas, philosophies, patriotisms and beliefs that we once held before we stepped into the light--those things will hinder us from moving toward God. Continuing to cling to earthly desires, careers, ambitions and success as we defined them before we came to Christ--those too will hinder us and cause us not only to hesitate from moving toward God--they will cause us to turn away.
The question of "What will we do in heaven for fun?" should change to "Whom will we be with?" For Christ died so that we might come to the Father, heaven happens to be the place wherein we shall be with Him. Going to Heaven means going to be with and live with God, if that does not sound like "fun" to us, then we might want to examine our hearts to discover what our true treasures are and where our true loyalties lie. We cannot claim to truly love God while refusing to come closer to Him because we are unwilling to let go of what we cling to on this earth. Remember Lot's wife. She clung to what she was supposed to be leaving behind. Life was in front of her, yet she turned instead to lifelessness.
We are new creatures in Christ, and just as a butterfly does not try to live like a caterpillar, so we should remember that we are not as once we were--nor should we act like it.

    And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. . .But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt (Gen.19:17,26).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:08:02 PM
Job Security

    The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry
    but He thwarts the craving of the wicked (Proverbs 10:3).

The Lord does not condone laziness, nor does He condone the use of scripture to make the level of one's work-effort justifiable. Some might explain that they do not need to worry about working because the Lord will provide for their needs. This is true. We do not have to, nor should we, worry about working so that our needs will be met (Mt.6:25-34). However, it is also true that we are not to use such reasoning to excuse personal laziness. But this is only one side of the coin and hardly a side anyone dare try to argue as correct. For we will find it equally true that scripture is misused if it is used to excuse one's excessive work efforts.
If we are to examine the reasons why we work today--and more-so, the reasons why both mother and father "have" to work--we are sure to find a multitude of good sounding reasons, and those often scripturally backed.

"A man's gotta eat."
It is a well known fact that we must eat to live, and lesser known that many of us live to eat. Nevertheless, we mark this first cliché as "Reason #1." And there is a solid verse of scripture that seems to firmly back it up. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." There is certainly no error in the verse, but there is often error within the application of the verse. For there are more who will use this scripture to provide support to their need to work and work many hours, or put work ahead of their family, God or church; than there are those who use it in reference to someone in the body of Christ who does not work. And as we have grown accustomed to Reason #1, we find that we no longer bat an eye at having to work on Sundays. That which at one time was unthinkable for a Christian, has now become the acceptable.

"A man who does not provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever."
This is a powerful statement that could become cliché if not for the fact that it is straight from scripture. 1 Timothy 5:8 tells us, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." Yet even as with Reason #1, this one (Reason #2) is more often quoted to support one's reasons why they must work, than to why they should. Reason's we must work often include: to pay the bills, and to provide for our needs. However, these are often the reasons that only graze the surface of our true motivations.

The reasons seem very valid until we get beneath the surface layer of rationale and logical explanation. What we often find motivates us to work is not a desire to fulfill our obligations to God and family, instead it is fear. For example, when we consider getting laid off from work or being a casualty of a company down-sizing, do we see ourselves disheartened because we cannot do that which God has directed. Of course not. We know that God honors our efforts to do His will. He is not going to chastise us for not supporting our families if there are no jobs currently available. Suddenly being out of work does not make us feel disobedient to God, it makes us feel frightened. Frightened of the trouble we will find ourselves in when we cannot pay our bills, rent or mortgage. Frightened of the possibilities that we might not be covered by a company medical plan and suddenly have an illness in the family. Or Frightened because the job market is at an all time low.
If we honestly look inside our hearts, we might find that what makes us work two or three jobs, or jobs that exceed 40 or 50 hours a week is not a desire to honor God, but a desire to feel comfortable and financially secure. And to find that security through the work of our own hands while quoting scripture to back it up. One has to wonder how much we really rely upon and trust in our Heavenly Father, when we work so hard to do for ourselves.
Just think, at the end of it all we can look back and say to ourselves, "I carved out a life for myself with these two hands." And we can pat ourselves on the back with those two hands, while trying to remember what joy we gained by the fruits of our labor.
We do not have to struggle to make ends meet. We need simply to obey God and trust that He is good for His word, "The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry."


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:08:36 PM
The Taste Test

    Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good (1 Pt.2:2-3).

Many of us have been approached at a supermarket entrance by someone performing a taste test. They want us to test two or more products and then respond by telling them which product was the one that we liked the best. Its sometimes hard to distinguish one product from another if the products are extremely similar. But there are other times when we might be offered something that we like against something we do not really care for. Our response in the latter instance is usually much quicker and easier to make.
In Psalm 34:8, David encourages us, "O taste and see that the LORD [is] good: blessed [is] the man [that] trusteth in him." If we held a taste test between item "a" (The Lord), and item "b" (the world), which do you think would win? What we would discover might not surprise us, in fact, it would most likely sadden us. But consider the tasters in the test. They are people who have been enjoying item "b" (the world) for all their lives. Many have not tasted item "a" at all, and many who have, have done so incorrectly. In other words, you cannot get an accurate account of a new taste, while the old one lingers in your mouth. That is why it is necessary to repent, turn away from, those things you have been tasting all your life as we come to God. We cannot get a true representation of God's person while we cling to those things of the earth that tickle our taste buds.
Let me briefly illustrate. A good judge of a pie baking contest or chili cook-off will not go from one item directly to the next. He will taste one item and then use some means to clear his palate, some means that will clear his mouth of the taste of one item before proceeding to the next. This gives him a better representation of the taste of each with out confusing the lot. Let us then consider once more that we cannot truly taste of the fullness of God's goodness, while the taste of those things we have embraced that are not of Him still lingers.
To conclude, let us consider something else. The more we taste of God, the more our tastes will be transformed. The things that once tickled our taste buds will seem bitter or perhaps begin to make us gag or become sick to our stomachs. Many people can think of a time where they had gotten sick enough to vomit, and can associate that time with a particular food. They often lose the taste for that food and never want to taste it again. In fact, the very idea of eating it often makes them nauseous. As we turn from the tastes of the world, clearing our palates of that taste--so to speak, and we taste of the goodness of God, we will begin to be repulsed by the mere thought of speaking, thinking or doing things we once embraced. Living as a Christian becomes much easier when we savor the things that are of God, and sin is so much easier to gain victory over when all it ever does is leave a bad taste in our mouths.

    Bread of deceit [is] sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel (Proverbs 20:17).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:09:11 PM
A Time To Be Weaned

    In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil (Heb.5:12-14).

To come into the consuming presence of God is to taste His goodness. Once again we recall David's words, "O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him" (Psalms 34:8). Tasting God's goodness will cause us to desire more of what He has to offer, so long as the tastes for the things of this world do not linger in our mouths. As we come nearer to God and continue to taste of His goodness, those tastes we once desired will begin to lose their appeal. Our appetite for the things we embraced in the darkness will diminish, and will begin to leave a bad taste in our mouths if we taste of those things once more. Yet it is not enough that our tastes be changed, they must also continue to change and to mature.
Herein lies a problem. So many of us come to the Lord and taste that He is good. We become satisfied with what we first receive and become content to remain at that place--the place wherein we first tasted of the Lord's goodness. But even as a baby must someday begin to eat solid foods, so must we. Our first taste of God is not something that should make us desire to curl up with our spiritual bottles and be babied the rest of our lives. We were not meant to remain in a condition in which we require someone to hold us and feed us and pamper us. Instead we are meant to be in that condition for a short time. And during the days of our spiritual infancy, we do need someone to care for us and guide us and help us to develop into mature children of God. But that is just the beginning of a long growth process; in which, as we mature, we become the ones who help care for the spiritual infants.
So what happens when the infants do not mature? When those who "ought to be teachers, . . .need someone to teach. . .the elementary truths of God's word all over again," do we wind up with a church full of baby Christians--or lifeless ones perhaps? If the teachers in the church have had no one to teach them, how many teachers still have need of being taught? How many church leaders still hold to the "elementary truths" because they themselves have not tasted the mature food that God provides?
It is a sad reason why so many of us do not mature, one that is wrapped up in an old cliché-- "We want to have their cake, and eat it too." We want to straddle the fence, living in a place wherein we can hold the milk of God in our right hand and a plate of worldly cake in the left. This is nothing more than a selfish and bratty mentality--clinging to that which we crave--refusing to let go for any reason. The problem is that the milk of God does not go with the cake of this world, nor will it ever. And until we release the cake of the world, and move beyond the milk, we will never experience the fullness and favor of the fruits of righteousness.
The reasons we cling to cake and milk are pleasure sustaining wishful thoughts. These thoughts keep us from moving forward toward God, they keep us from maturing and they keep us from truly caring about others the way God desires us to. They keep us at a place wherein we require teaching, and wherein we do not teach anyone else above our immature understandings of the Kingdom of God. If we truly want to ever help others in their Christian walk, we must be willing to forsake the world, and continue moving toward God.

    "You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? (Jn.3:10).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:09:47 PM
The Shadow of His Wings

    Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God (Isaiah 43:1-3).

The all consuming presence of God is a place of transformation. It is a place wherein we grow to become like Him. Our thoughts, our attitudes, our desires and characteristics begin to change and take shape after the image of God. We, who were created in His image, return to be recreated and cleansed from the impurities of this earth. And as we draw ever so near to Him, and take on His likeness, we begin to experience a joy and peace and fullness unlike we have ever known. Not because we came to God seeking those things, but because those things are in God. And as we come further into the presence of our Lord, we become enveloped in His goodness. And it is in seeking to be within His presence that we find more than we ever thought we could experience. We find His holiness that transforms us, we find His peace and joy that gives us rest, and we find His protection that further brings us peace as we find that God is our security.
David knew God's love, peace and protection. He was a man to who trusted in the Lord and expressed that trust so frequently within the Psalms. One such beautiful expression of David's understanding of God's protection is written in Psalm 57:1, where David says, "Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed." David did not just say that God would protect him, he knew it, he believed it and he experienced it. It was not some half-hearted claim that he made.
There are many of us who will proclaim God's power and power to protect, only to run in fear from situations that God would most assuredly help us through. Facing the giants of our lives, causes many of us to fall back to a safe distance and quickly devise plans of our own human logic, seeking ways that we can get through something within our own strength. But God would assure us that His presence is a dwelling place, it is a mansion with many rooms. His presence is not only a place wherein we are transformed, but also a place where in we are protected.
We can come into His presence, drawing ever nearer to Him, experiencing the fullness of His goodness, love, protection and grace. We can bring our cares, troubles, pains and problems with all the questions that surround them. And He will answer us, "Draw near to me, and I will draw near to you. For in my presence you will find what you need." It seems that no matter what we need, the answer is simply, "Draw near."


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:10:21 PM
You, Who Through Faith Are Shielded

    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

We draw near to God, and in His presence we find safety. This truth is echoed throughout Scripture. It is not some warm sentiment that loses application when faced by cold harsh reality of a cruel, dark and sinful world. God's protection is a fact. It is greater than any difficulty we might face and stronger than anyone who might do us harm. David writes, "The LORD [is] my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD [is] the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalms 27:1). In God's presence we do not have to fear or be anxious about our lives. For we are surrounded by the arms of the Almighty.
Those who are in God's presence are of His fold. In the book of John, Jesus illustrated His care for us as us being His sheep, and He as the shepherd who cares for the sheep. Jesus tells us, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one (John 10:27-30).
The sheep who remain in God's fold are protected. Not as perhaps our human minds would perceive protection, for it goes far beyond what our natural thoughts would lead us to expect. At a distance from God, we might face a troubled time and be afraid, and perhaps expect God to deliver us out of the trouble. Perhaps we believe that if God loves us and truly protects us that He would not let the bad things happen to begin with. But as we draw closer to Him our problems lose their power, and the fear subsides, and in this we learn the true nature of His protection. In His presence we no longer expect God to take the troubles out of our lives; instead, we know He will take us through.
Those who remain in the presence of God, remain protected. And those who purpose in their heart to draw closer to God each day, they will come to understand and experience the true nature of that protection. Those who stand on the outskirts of God's presence and fear coming closer, also hold other unsubstantiated fears, such as; fearing letting go of the false securities they hold onto in the world that is outside of God's presence, and fearing that God's protection is not "full coverage." At a distance it does not appear that His protection will protect from the things that are feared (pain, tragedy, loss of endearments or jobs or wealth, etc.). But God's protection remains constant and can be fully experienced within His presence. As we draw closer to Him, our human perceptions of what His protection should be begins to fade. We turn loose of our false securities and embrace His warm realities, finding that the nature of His protection is something that goes far beyond what we once speculated at a distance. We ask the questions of, "How shall God protect me. . ." from this or that, and again the answer is, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you."

How long shall we cling to the false securities of this world that hinder us from fully entering into the presence of God?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:10:55 PM
To Have Fellowship With Him

    This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin
    (1 Jn.1:5-7).

In His presence, we find fellowship. And that fellowship is a true and meaningful fellowship. It is not an event wherein we gather to talk over a meal and then leave to go our separate ways, thinking little more about those with whom we have been. True Fellowship in the presence of God is coupled with care and concern, and a willingness to get beneath the surface of superficial chatter.
While church socials can be enjoyable events, they do not constitute true fellowship. The true fellowship occurs in smaller group settings that are favorable for nurturing and quality time along with the fun and laughter we enjoy so much. While there are some churches which regularly engage in small group functions, there are some that never get beyond the pot-luck Sunday luncheons, and therein miss out on the true and deeper fellowship that, in essence, can be the glue that holds the body of believers together.
The nature of true fellowship is something that encounters us at the deepest part of who we are. As we consider what it means to have fellowship with God, we do not usually associate that fellowship with large gatherings and social events. And even as our fellowship with God is, so it is also to be with the body of believers. At the same time, God should not be beheld within the isolation of our quiet times alone. Fellowship with God is something that should be carried into our times with each other. He is a part of who we are collectively and individually, and we should come together in true fellowship with a knowledge that God is with us. To acknowledge His presence is to be mindful of Him throughout our time together--not only within the passing moments of our opening and closing prayers.
In His presence is true fellowship. John writes, "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another." Drawing near to God and abiding within His presence is a place wherein we live in the Light. It is a place wherein we draw further away from the darkness of the world.  We don't embrace the world or cling to it, refusing to let go. We cannot truly abide in the Light while living in pursuit of the pleasures of this age--treasuring in our hearts the same things that those who do not know Christ also treasure. Yet if we do hold onto our wants and ambitions of this world and chase after the American dream; while at the same time claiming to have a fellowship with God. John would remind us that we cannot "walk in the darkness" and claim to have fellowship with God. If we do, we are liars and have deceived ourselves.
In Him is Light, and the Light is the Life of all mankind. It is within Him that we discover true fellowship. And out from that fellowship with Him, we find our fellowship with others who also fellowship with Him. It is a fellowship that is pure, and it is a fellowship that is nurturing and well as pleasurable. It is a fellowship that will hold the body of believers together like glue, while reaching out to draw others into the blessed union of love and encouragement within the family of God.

If fellowship is to be true, it must get beneath the surface, minister to the needs, and draw all hearts nearer to God in a blessed and vibrant encounter.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:12:39 PM
Minister The Same

    As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10).

In the Presence of God there is a revitalizing, and a spiritual awakening. As we draw ever nearer to God we are purified and transformed after the likeness of His Son. We find true joy, peace and fellowship so sweet that we seek to remain forever in the embrace of His overwhelming presence. As we spend time with Him, we find it an awe-inspiring thing to sit at the feet of our Lord as Teacher. For what He speaks to us is far greater than mere fact and far surpasses the sharing of knowledge. The truth He speaks into our lives is a truth that transforms.
God shares His truth with us, but as He does, He does not try to give it to us all at once--we could not live through that. And even when it is obvious what is needed to be said to us, He does not just reveal it to us all at once, but He balances the administration of His truth with wisdom and love. He prepares us to hear the truth, and reveals it to us at the perfect moment, when his truth will mean the most and do the most for us.
Even as God shares His truth with us, He would have us to share His truth with others. "Freely you have received, freely give" (Mt.10:8). But our sharing is not to be something to be taken lightly. We should not only share with others what God has given us, but do it in His likeness. We should weigh what we would say with wisdom and love. We must keep in mind that we are not boldly speaking truth because it is our righteous duty, but we speak as God's instrument of ministry. Through what we say, we are seeking to minister to, or give aid to, another person in their need. We should remember God's patience and love and gentleness He has shown us, and we should practice the same with others.
If we are given the place of pastor or teacher among a congregation, it could be easy to forget that what we do is a ministry. A weekly role of teaching or preaching could easily become a task more than a avenue to meet need. We can easily lose sight of the hearts of those who listen, and focus more upon the method that we would use. The sermon or lesson becomes part of the job, and the people become a huddled mass.
What lengths do we go to in our preparations to share the Word of God? Whether our sharing is through a sermon, a lesson or just with a friend, what do we feel is necessary to do before hand? If we are drawing near to God everyday, isn't He faithful to minister to us, provide for us, and teach us? As we draw near to Him, He reveals His truth to us, and truth that we can share with others. In this, we find our greatest preparations--in that while we walk daily with our Lord, He provides enough for us and for those with whom we would share.
Our lives of daily walking with Him is all the preparation we need for the sharing of God's Word and truth with others. Keep in mind that daily walking is disciplined Christian living within the Presence of God, within His Word and the exercising of our faith. This is not an excuse for laziness when approaching a time of sharing. This is simply to say, that our greatest preparations do not come out from many hours devoted to putting together a lesson or sermon. Instead, our greatest preparations come from many hours devoted to drawing near to God. Within that time with God we will be given much, and we will look so forward to the moments in which we get to share, on Sunday perhaps, what God has given us that very week.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:17:07 PM
Desert Rain

    As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you , O God
    (Psalms 42:1).

"The dry and thirsty land, where no water is. . ." (Ps.63:1).
We often spend our summer days looking forward to the next rain; while at the same time dreading the possibility of heavy storms. As the ground hardens and sometimes cracks and the farmers crops begin to droop, we pray for rain to come and quench the "dry and thirsty land." But when the storm is upon us and winds gust and giant trees are whipped back and forth, and lightning cracks and thunder booms; it is a time we hope to get the rain we have prayed for without anyone or anything being hurt by the violent storms that accompany. But storms bring rain and rain brings growth, and through the storms the land receives what it needs to be sustained.
"My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. . ." (Ps.42:2).
The dry spells of the soul can at times be almost unbearable. Accompanying symptoms may include a hardening of the heart, a feeling of spiritual numbness, a loss of compassion and a feeling of isolation. It is a time when the human need for God is fully realized and it is a time when God is recognized as what we need to sustain us, to bring us out of dry times that harden and crack the soul.
"The rain falls on the just, and the unjust. . ."
We know without a doubt that though we are able to call ourselves children of God, we are not exempt from the storms of this life. In deed, some who belong to God suffer more greatly than some who do not. Yet, within it all, those who have learned to call upon the name of the Lord have learned as well that the storms of this life seem threatening at first, but in the end they are a blessed relief from the dry times that constantly pursue us. And though some storms would seem to devastate us, those are the storms that God can use to make us rise above the circumstances--stronger than before.
We seem at times a desert place. Our strength dries up and all that once seemed vibrant within, seems to have wilted in the seemingly endless heat. Perhaps it is within the tendency to gravitate toward self-fulfillment that we find ourselves within the driest times of our lives--times that we choose to find our own way to satisfy what we believe we need. We seek after the waters of this life that look to be all we could hope for, but in the end they are stagnate pools of bitter waters. They hold no real redeeming value, and not only do they not quench the thirsts we have, they leave us worse off than when we came to them.
But though our tendency is toward self-fulfilling waters, there is within us all a desire to come to the rivers of life. It is when we can say as David did, "My soul thirst for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?" that we will once more draw near to God--allowing  His rains to cleanse our nurture our souls. Where once we sought the apparently pleasant waters of this earth, we now find the greatest blessings in the midst of the rain storms.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:17:40 PM
Bringing It Down To Earth

    What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
    (Philippians 3:8).

The presence of God is the most holy place. It is the place wherein we come and in essence remove the sandals from our feet. For how we clothe ourselves to walk in this world is not fitting as we tread upon the holy ground to approach the presence of God. And entering into His presence causes us to realize our need. We see ourselves for who we really are in comparison to Him, and we see our imperfection and inadequacy. But this does not spur us to retreat in shame, but instead, we confidently approach the throne of grace because of the work of Christ.
But how do we approach Him? Much about this only seems to touch the spiritual, how do we bring it down to earth?
To begin with, we know that sin keeps us from coming into the presence of God, sin--and even more so--the desire to cling to sin. Our sins have been forgiven us and therefore are no longer a wall that separate us from God's Salvation (Jesus tore down that wall). Instead, they separate us from His fellowship, and become a greater barrier when we refuse to let go of them.
Clinging to anything behind us will keep us from moving forward. Remember what the writer of Hebrews has said, "let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles" (12:1). This is our act of repentance: to turn away from what is behind us and to press on toward the Holy place of God. We see that the kingdom to which we belong is not of this earth, and so we shake the dust of this earth from our feet and set our focus on the Kingdom of God. Our goals, ambitions and dreams for a life on this earth will fade, and our desires will be transformed and our hearts will no longer cling to the treasures of this world.
While letting go (of sin, the world, our wants, etc.) is the first step to drawing near to God; clinging to Christ as Lord and Master is the second step. Jesus tells us, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Lk.9:23). We move away from our past that is wrapped up on self-fulfillment, and we follow the path of Christ that leads to righteousness (or right living).
The path that leads to righteousness is where we bring the vague idea of drawing near to God down to earth. While drawing near to God is a spiritual matter, there are several things we can physically do to help us draw near. But to put it simply, we can say it in one statement, "be like Christ." The writer of Hebrews encourages, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith" (12:2). Christ is the physical representation of God. He is our example to follow. To be like Christ is to draw near to God. Christ prayed, therefore we must pray. He knew scripture and we too must not only read, but gain understanding of and memorize scripture. He served others more than self. He sacrificed His rights to anything from this life. He was fully devoted to the work of God. If we are to draw near to God, this is the path we must follow. It will not do us any good to wish we could be more Christ-like if we are not willing to follow in His path.
Christ Jesus, while on earth, walked each day fully in the presence of God the Father. He has come to dwell in each of us who believe in Him, to provide to us all we need to follow God as He did. But, the truth be known, the reason so many of us struggle with step two (following Jesus), is because we have failed to accomplish step 1 (denying self). As long as we refuse to let go of our endearments in this life, we cannot fully draw near to God, we cannot be the child of God we desire to be and we cannot be effectively used to draw a lost world to Jesus. The song says, "I surrender all."  How much have we given up so others might find life?
In considering the vague ideas of the spiritual calling in our lives, we realize we need to find ways to bring it down to earth so that we can better understand what we can do to draw near to God. But God understands all of our needs better than we do, and He has already brought it down to earth within the physical manifestation of His Son--Jesus.

To follow Jesus, we must learn to let go of this life. If we are to be the agents of change we must be willing to be changed. A lost world is counting on us.

    But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ (Philippians 3:7).



Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:18:15 PM
Abstinence

    Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us
    (1 Peter 2:11-12).

What comes to mind when the word abstinence is brought up has a great deal more to do with our present culture than to the word itself. If you were to ask someone today what they think about "abstinence" you would probably not be surprised to hear an answer pertaining to the other person's viewpoint on sexual restraint and promiscuity. But let's see if we can broaden our view of this word to encompass the ideas Peter was trying to convey to the readers of his letter.
While sexual abstinence is an important issue, it hardly touches the surface of the broad spectrum of the "sinful desires, which war against the soul." sexual sin gets a great deal of attention as do other sins that seem to be the "bad" ones--ones that make our jaws drop or perhaps peak our interests--or perhaps even still, provide us a good conversational topic. But the sins that truly so easily beset us seldom climb to reach the heights of the perceived "top ten" of the "Worst Sins" list.
Peter warns us to "abstain from sinful desires, which war against the soul." And if our attentions are drawn to the so called "bad" sins, we will easily overlook the subtle sins that will keep us held captive to them, so that we do not experience the freedom we should know in Christ.
One particular subtle sin is the sin of the "I's." It is, unfortunately, a sin that holds many of us within its grip. As most sins, the sin of the "I's" begins within the heart. It may take the shape of discontentment, feelings of uneasiness, feelings of need or desires to be heard, liked, understood, desired, adored, etc. Whatever shape it takes, it will quickly draw a person's attentions and focus inward, to where what is seen first and foremost is what, "I want," "I feel," " I need," " I deserve," or "I don't" want, feel, need, or deserve.
To put it simply, the sin that so easily besets us is self-centeredness. This might in fact be the root of all sin, for all sin springs from a desire to please self regardless of what God wants for us.
It is a simple thing that we see our selfishness as the root of our sin, yet it is profoundly odd that we, knowing this about selfishness, would be as sheep led astray because we long for greener grass.
In our seeking to draw near to God, we know we must abstain from sinful desires. To abstain, we first must stop neglecting the "lesser sins," for they are the subtle sins that will beset us, defeat us and draw us further away from God to look for the presumed "greener grass."
The subtle lies of the devil will lead us to rationalize reasons to possess that which pleases us. But the truth of Christ will lead us to deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily and follow Him. How long will we go on believing Satan's lies? He took Jesus to the top of a mountain and offered Him the world--Jesus refused. But the devil has tempted us with a few creature comforts in this life, and we have bought the lie--hook, line and sinker.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:19:53 PM
Who Has Suffered

    Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God (1 Pt.4:1-2).

The writer of Hebrews tells us, "In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood" (12:4). There is a willingness to forego earthly desire for the sake of Christ, and there is a willingness to suffer for the cause of Christ. It is a willingness that puts aside human want to follow the will of God. It is a willingness, however, that escapes the largest portion the Church as we know it.
It is a stiff necked people who stand tall and proud and refuse to bow to the Lord. It is a deceived people who bow heads to give thanks for three full meals a day, yet refuse to bow to the will of God if He would ask them to give up some of what they have grown accustomed to. The majority of the Christian Church of the United States is such a people. May God have mercy on us all, and no longer withdraw His Hand, for we are in need of His discipline.
We gather each Sunday to praise Him with our lips, but our hearts are far from Him. We sing songs of worship being more concerned with how much we like the song's tempo or familiarity rather than whether it is offered as a vocal sacrifice to the Lord. We listen to sermon after sermon, only to pick at the preacher's oratory abilities afterwards and behind his back.
We are they who have a form of godliness while denying the power thereof. Trusting our human appraisal of things and our reasoning abilities to deal with difficult, or even daily, circumstances; while claiming that we trust God for everything. We trust our own hands for provision of sustenance. We trust our financial fortitude for the promotion of church growth, building programs and organized activity. We enter into business discussions about the church with little mention of God's will, with the exception of a brief, traditional opening prayer.
We are they who cling to our ways, our lifestyles, our likes and our wants, refusing to let go without a fight (or perhaps, without a church split). And somehow within it all, we have deceived ourselves into believing that we are living as righteously as is humanly possible, and that we are making valiant efforts to carry out the will of God.
Woe to us. For we have become so blinded by our selfish desires that the truth of righteous living has escaped us. We have become blind leaders of the blind. For we mix our desires from this life with our desires for the next, and hope we can keep from slipping too far in either direction. For the one side of the fence would mean that we are godless, and no better than the lost world and all their godless lusts. And fully dwelling on the other side of the fence would mean giving up those things we treasure of the world--the same world we think to live above. We are a selfish and bratty people who want our cake and eat it too.
We are a people who want to be entertained. We want church to be an enjoyable experience that will keep people coming back. It would seem that fellowship with other believers and with God is not enough. We must gear functions and services to a level suitable to the liking of the majority or else they might lose interest and stay home and watch television where they are sure to be entertained. Rather than the church setting the standards, it has chosen to bow to the world as if to say, "If you can't beat'em, join'em." We reason that a church needs money to function, and therefore needs members to have money, and so it makes perfect sense that it should be formatted in a fashion that will attract the most people--or at least the ones with money. And if that means bringing football into the church on Superbowl Sunday--why not? After all, we have determined that we can't compete with what the world offers.
And so in our efforts, out from our human reasoning and in order to sustain what we desire, we have modeled the church after the world. And in essence have limited the choices of the world around us. For once upon a time, people saw the distinct qualities of the local church. It was a place where, when they finally grew up and got serious about life, they would come to discover truth, purpose and the will of God. Now days, what does the church have to offer anyone who is searching but more of the same?
It is time the church remembers what it means to set the standard and stop trying to compete with the world in order to grow a membership.
It is time we stop deceiving ourselves to think that we can have our cake and eat it too--having an eternal inheritance with Christ in Glory; while partaking of earthly delectables.



Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:20:28 PM
The Souls Purpose: To Be Profoundly Filled

    God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground
    (Gen.1:28).

(There are many scriptures which demonstrate marvelous parallels between one thing, event or truth and another. We can read scripture closely and often find spiritual truth that is not at first obvious. But they are truths that exist between the lines of fact and description. This may seem to some as though we are reading into the scripture something that is not there. And while we cannot promote such parallel interpretations as fact, we cannot ignore the possibility of such an existence of the parallel truths God would demonstrate through His Word. Jesus Himself used simple parables to teach more profound spiritual realities. In saying the kingdom of Heaven is like a tree that sprouted from a mustard seed, He is not saying it is a tree. And when Jesus related a story of the man with the ten talents, He did not do so to relate a story, but the spiritual truth within the story. And though Genesis does not say that the flood was to be a symbol of the baptism we would receive as believers, Peter uses the simple story of the flood to describe a more profound truth within it (1 Peter3:13-22). )

God's commands should be taken at face value. God is very clear in what He desires from us. It is we who muddy the waters with excuse, worldly thought and human reasoning, causing God's will to be something vague and difficult to understand. God's commands have immediate implications that require long lasting commitment and obedience. We hear God's Word, take Him at His Word, and loyally obey Him today and every tomorrow. Adam and Eve were to physically carry out what God commanded. They were to fill the earth, subdue it and rule over it (all the creatures of it).
Secondly, the deeper truths are wrapped up in all that lingers on. This is what separates God's living and active Word from that of human decision and effort. Very little is perpetuated out from human thought and reason for a long while. Though some human effort may produce residuals for a time, God's Word continues to produce residual benefits into eternity.

There are three instructions that God gave to Adam and Eve shortly after He created them. He told them to fill the earth, to subdue it and to rule over it. These commands could be seen as the outward expression of an inward truth. An amazing parallel that seems to exist is one which would put the course of man and the course of earth in a similar path. Simply put, even as the earth goes--so goes mankind. The earth was created a empty mass, it was brought to life beneath the active work of God's own hand, it was baptized with water--and finally--it will be recreated in a non-corruptible form. As Christians, we were once an empty soul, we were brought to life beneath the active Hand of God, we were baptized with water and will be recreated in a non-corruptible body.
Adam and Eve were commanded to fill the earth. We are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. They were commanded to subdue and rule over the earth. We are told we must learn to subdue and rule over our flesh.
Consider this, that even as the earth has been filled physically, we are to be filled spiritually with God. Everywhere we look on the earth it is teaming with life. Life that God brought. Life that God commanded to go forth and multiply.
The Spark of life within each of us that began when we came to God through Christ, was never meant to remain a spark, even as Adam and Eve were never meant to remain the only two human beings on the face of the planet. The Spark that Christ began in us is to spread so that everywhere within us that someone else might look, is filled with the Life that God has brought forth. Our design is much like that of the earth, and our glory is to be filled.

    And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit (Eph.5:18).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:21:05 PM
Watching

    Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ love us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Eph.5:1-2).

During an effort to pass out flyers for an upcoming revival, I approached a lady working behind the counter of a rental store. I began to tell her about the revival and tried to encourage her to go. She began to briefly explain why she would not be able to go. I tried to encourage her further and soon found myself on the other side of a verbal attack. However the attack was not personal, she pretty much attacked everyone I was affiliated with. Yet, after she calmed down and we talked further the true issues began to surface. She was angry because there were others who had come before me, some who were part of the local Christian college. The same college from which she claimed came a great many of her delinquent or non-paying customers.
The woman claimed that she realized that they were struggling students and that she tried to be understanding. But she could not understand how people who called themselves Christians could sign agreements to make payments on rental items, only to fail to live up to their end of the agreement. These were Christians, and she was troubled and even angered because these should have been her better customers--not her worst.
How we live, work, do business and entertain ourselves, says a lot to the lost world around us. We may consider some things, such as delinquent payments or missed appointments or even forgetfulness to be trivial things. If so, then perhaps we do not consider that we are actually trivializing the thoughts and feelings of those who are left hanging because of us. Perhaps we need to consider our thoughts about someone who is a Christian who owes money to us and fails to pay. Such an occurrence might have us questioning that person's integrity.
It is reported that Ghandi stated that he would have converted to Christianity if he could have seen just one living example of the Christ proclaimed. We cannot go on being slack in our responsibilities and act as though it really does not matter. How can people trust us when we tell them that Jesus is who we say He is, if they cannot trust us to pay our debts, or keep our word, or make an effort to remember important information? They can't. And it may end up that those who did not trust Jesus, did not because they could not trust those who claim to follow him.

We are not perfect.  Yet, we are instructed to watch that we do not become stumbling blocks to others.  And while others may just be making excuses and using us as scapegoats, we cannot use that as an excuse for our own behavior.  The Lost souls need to see Jesus and to see His followers walking the talk--their very lives depend on it.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:21:42 PM
What Stirs The Heart

    If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Sprit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose (Phil. 2:1-2).

Drawing near to God creates in each of us a sensitivity for the activity of the Spirit of our living Lord. At the mention of God and His activity, our hearts begin to dance. And not just that His Name is mentioned, but that it is fondly spoken of by others of like heart, and like spirit to that of your own. They too, thirst for the living God. They too desire to walk a blameless and holy life after the similitude of Jesus. They too become enthralled by discussions that center entirely around the work and person of the Lord. We find within moments with kindred spirits, a time of open and honest sharing that stirs our soul like nothing else.
Where two or more are gathered. . .
Prayer times can be elating. Within the moments of a simple quiet time, we can feel the presence of God so strongly that we cling to the moment and hope that it never pass. And as wonderful as those times are, they seldom are as uplifting as the times that two or more come together in like spirit to pray together to God. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus said, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." This does not imply that He is not with us when we are away from others. But see for yourself the difference as you come together with others who love God dearly. The presence of God is strong, and the moments within these quiet time circles are often extremely uplifting.
The Word of God is living. . .
God's Word is a wonderful source of encouragement and guidance. His Word is "living and powerful." It often moves and stirs the soul of the reader. And while it is a refreshing stream in the dry and thirsty land; it is a drink more refreshing when shared than when drank in the solitude of one's quiet time alone. It is the cup that overflows. We are filled with it so that it will spill over into the lives of those closest to us. And as we share the living waters with another who loves God, and they share with us as well, we begin to probe the depths of God's fountains together, to discover treasures we would not have come to alone.
What stirs the soul of one who loves God? For me, probably more than anything else--it is to hear the voice of another who loves God speaking out from that love for God, and about God. It is to see the enthusiasm in another's eyes as they talk about what God means to that person personally. It is to see in the soul of one who lives today, the passion of Paul for the lost, or the boldness of Peter to proclaim God's good, or a deep love like John held for our Lord. It is in the heart of one who truly loves God, that another who loves God will find a place of the stirring of the soul. Where two or three are gathered together, there are few blessings as precious as a mutual love for God


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:22:18 PM
To Count It All Loss

    He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me
    (Matthew 10:37).

I am not from a Catholic family, but I have some relatives who are Catholic. Some of their rituals fascinated me when I was younger. It seemed quite strange that anyone did church different than the way I had grown accustomed to. I remember that once a year, my cousins would give up something for what they called "Lent." It was something I thought was kind of funny and strange that my cousin often gave up chocolate zingers or the like. But I guess what really stands out in my mind is how each year they were learning how to sacrifice some things that pleased them--giving them up for a period of time if for no other reason than that it seemed to them the right thing to do.
I really do not know what it meant to them to give up something for Lent. I have no idea what kind of thoughts went through the minds of my aunt and uncle as they gave up something each year, and also led their children to do the same. I have never asked them what it means to them, but I look forward to the next time I see them so I can ask them that very question. It is always interesting to know why people sacrifice the things that please them, even if only for a season.
True sacrifice is not something that is easy to make, but it is something that is made because the benefits from the sacrifice are seen to be greater than the sacrifice itself. Within my own denomination there is often an emphasis on giving tithes and offerings, and an encouragement to give sacrificially. Occasionally, the pastor might call the church into a church wide fast to take place on a particular day, in which he encourages the congregation to be in prayer regarding a particular issue of importance. And there is the occasional sacrifice of time to go to the church on "work day" or to do something else for the church or community. But in our efforts as a denomination, not to become ritualistic I do believe we have succeeded. For there are very few, if any, rituals of any kind that are performed any longer. Rituals with all intents and purposes of drawing one's thoughts toward God, or regularly making sacrifice of something more from our lives than a tenth of our income or a Saturday church work day. Outside of Sunday morning, it would seem that we do very little else to draw our thoughts toward God as a whole. The times we come together to fellowship have become social gatherings most often designed toward recreation and entertainment than toward drawing our thoughts toward God. And, in most cases, our worship has become the dry and empty ritual that we have tried so carefully to avoid.
"The 40 days from Ash Wednesday until Easter observed by Christians as a season of fasting and penitence." That is one dictionary's definition of the word "Lent." What long periods of time have we set aside to focus on our need for God, to hunger for Him and realize our need to draw further away from our selfish and sinful state?
What if our pastors were to get behind the pulpit this coming Sunday, and to tell us that God is calling us to sacrifice some of the pleasantries in this life, so that we could draw closer to Him? And what if the pastor began to define some of those things, to include things like TV or movies, or perhaps types of music that we like? How soon do think it would be before the church asks him to resign? But the fact is that Christ has already asked us to give up everything, and has told us that if we are not willing to give up all of it--then we are not worthy of Him. Clinging to our precious earthly treasures is keeping us from drawing closer to Him, and therefore keeping Him from drawing nearer to a world that needs Him. For we say that the world needs Jesus, and rightly so, but God cannot do His work through us in this world because we do not draw near to Him. We say we want to draw near to Him, but we cling to the earthly treasures. Because of this, He cannot draw near to us, and therefore cannot bring the thousands of lost souls into His Kingdom. Are we willing to count it all loss--to look at what we desire from this life as something to be sacrificed--just so one person might come to know the Love of God in Christ? How long will be continue to be blinded by our selfish wants?

    But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served. . .in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:22:55 PM
The Way Of Cain

    So Cain went out from the Lord's presence. . .(Genesis 4:16).

This is perhaps one of the saddest statements in the Bible. Cain had killed his brother Abel, and he had to suffer the consequences. But the passage of scripture this verse is in does not imply that God threw Cain out of His presence. Instead, it was the willful act of Cain to go out from God's presence.
Perhaps Cain was so ashamed or guilt ridden that he believed himself to be unforgivable. No longer did he see himself fit to come into the presence of the Lord, so he made his dwelling, his life and his home outside of God--outside of His influence and outside of His presence.
But the presence of God is a place wherein our spirit longs to dwell. Our spirit longs to be in God, rest in God and trust in God. Our spirit longs to have fellowship with our Creator, to walk with Him in the cool of the day, to talk with Him and to hear Him talk to us.
But all too often we break off our fellowship with Him as we choose to abide outside of His presence. Perhaps we are attracted by the things of this life, and therefore choose to remove ourselves from God just far enough so that we can enjoy certain aspects of this world that we desire to. Perhaps we are uncertain as to whether our dreams, ambitions and desires for ourselves are things that God wants for us as well. It may be that we are so much like little children afraid to ask God 's permission about something because we fear the answer will be a firm "No." And for one reason or another we draw away from God, choosing to dwell on the outskirts of His person rather than coming near.
We must find the strength to avoid the distractions of this life. For we have a loving and gracious Heavenly Father who longs to spend time with us--who desires to have His children near. And it must break His heart to see us come near, only to turn away from Him when something 'more appealing' catches our eyes--and we proceed the way of Cain--to go out from the presence of the Lord. And it must break His heart to see us come near, only to turn away from Him when something goes wrong--when we fail Him--when we are ashamed.   Whether it is because our eyes are filled with our wants or our failures, both blind us.  And so we fail to see our Father calling us back.  But if we take our focus off of the things and our failures, and fix our eyes on Him; then shall we see clearly to draw near to Him once more.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:23:32 PM
Following

    And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed
    (Acts 14:23).

We live in a society in which we hope that the democratic process will be something that is practiced in truth--not just in theory. We desire that our government and institutions be of the people, for the people and by the people. This is a land in which, through democratic processes, the majority is said to rule. And if indeed we live beneath the rule of the mindset of the majority, how does this affect us as individuals? Better yet, if we use the same democratic process in our church business, what should we expect will be the outcome?
We have, within our churches, adopted the civil and orderly ways to conduct business as is predominant in the mindset of our nation. We see the many needs within our individual local churches, and respond to those needs through business meetings and church votes. What the church does is often what the majority of the people agree should be done.
However, perhaps there is a problem with this kind of business like conduct concerning the matters of the church. That problem is that of what kind of people the majority of the church is made up of. Let me explain. When we consider the number of spiritual giants (so to speak) within a church body, how many people might we consider to be so--to be the kind of people who we believe walk closely with God--having more interest in the matters of God's desires than for the matters of their own desires? How many members of a church body would we consider to be spiritual leaders within that body? Is the number large--or small? Even as there are few who find the road that leads to life, there are few who are willing to lay down their lives or right to a life of their choice in this world, for the sake of the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, I think the answer to the previous questions must be that there are few who walk with God, there are few who truly seek Him and there are few who are truly the spiritual leaders within a church body.
Does that make the rest of the body evil? Not at all. But it certainly disqualifies many from making up a spiritual leadership of a church. We must remember that in conducting the business of a church (whose purpose is to serve and minister as a spiritual light in the world), that worldly logic and thinking cannot apply to the churches matters. Every part of who we are and what we have, both collectively and individually, belongs to God. We are simply the stewards of what He has and has supplied us. Therefore it is not our place to do with God's things as we think best, but to do with God's things as He would have us to do. Not according to majority consensus brought to be by human reason, but according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit through humble prayer.
If decisions are to be made that most closely resemble what Christ would do, then they should be made by those within the body who are the most Christ-Like. Each church can often readily pick out those people who are Christ-Like--it is seldom an issue for debate.
It is the position of spiritual leaders to lead a church toward a direction that God would have them to move. To involve the majority is to taint the reasoning with earthly thought from a worldly mindset. If we as God's church are going to follow God's desires, we are going to have to realize that the majority of us are spiritually weak, and that the best choices will be made by those who are walking closest to God. It is all a matter of whose best good we desire--do we desire God's greater good to be accomplished--or our own?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:24:06 PM
Providing

    If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever
    (1 Timothy 5:8).

How do we label a man who is slack concerning his responsibilities to care for his family? Do we see him as lazy and irresponsible? Do we see him as immature and uncaring--seeking only to satisfy his personal wants while letting the needs of his wife and children to go unattended? Do we see him to be "worse than an unbeliever," or do we see him worse yet?
I was raised, as many men have been, to see it as my responsibility to take care of my family. As a husband and father, it is my God given place to look after my wife and children, to see to it that their basic needs are met--and if necessary--to sacrifice what I might want for me, for the greater good of the family. 1 Timothy 5:8 firmly supports this. However, though the scripture tells us to provide for our family, that provision does not end with a regular paycheck and food on the table. In fact, that is only the beginning.
For we know that the members of our family are much more than flesh and bone, they are also spirit. While flesh and bone require food, clothing and shelter to sustain life, the spirit also has needs--needs that often go unnoticed and unmet. A person's spirit has need to be fed spiritual food so that the child of God might grow up strong in the Lord. The spirit has need of spiritual clothing--the armor of God (if you will)--that protects the child of God from a cruel and godless environment. And the spirit has need of spiritual shelter that can be found beneath the protective love of God as a child of God is shown the way to draw nearer to God each day.
Though we know these things to be true, we have fallen short of our fatherly and parental duties to our families. For we will spend 40 hours per week making money so everyone can fill their bellies and so the family can afford some entertainment as well. Yet, the amount of time we spend teaching our children about God is almost negligible.
It is no father's desire to give his children a stone if they ask him for bread. A good father wants to give his family what is best for them, to meet their real needs and to make them strong and healthy in body, mind and spirit. We must realize that good godly instruction will go further to helping our children than all the hours we spend carving out a living. And we must also keep in mind that providing for our families goes far beyond their physical needs, we must nurture our familie's spirit as well. Keep in mind the words of Paul, "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8).

Providing we care--providing: we care.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:24:39 PM
Heart And Soul

    Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee (Ps.119:11,NAS).
    Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man. . .(Mt.7:24).

A number of years ago, my grandfather gave me an old wooden, Gibson ukulele. It had been his for a long time, and I do not recall why he gave it to me, but I was so excited when he did. My dad showed me a few chords on it an even taught me a little song. It was probably the only song I ever learned to play on it, and the chords he taught me were probably the only chords I ever learned.
The ukulele is something that I treasure. I treasure it because it was my grandpa's and it still reminds me of him. But it sits in its case most of the time--collecting dust--and about the only time I have gotten it out lately is when we have moved from one house to the next. I am sure it is way out of tune, and I am sure I do not remember how to tune it. My memory of the chords that formed the song I once knew are a vague memory. I would have to struggle very hard just to remember one chord.
I also have a guitar. It sits in a corner or closet most of the time. When I first got it I sat for hours at a time trying to learn the chords and learn some songs. I was hoping to get good enough with at least a few songs so that I could take my guitar to different church functions, like youth retreats and children's summer Bible schools. But after a time and only a few learned chords, I stopped picking up my guitar. And now, most of the time, it is like my ukulele--sitting somewhere gathering dust. My skills are rusty at best. My memory of what I did know is fading and is only somewhat refreshed when I go back and tune the guitar, strum it a few times, and then put it back in the closet.
Our Father in Heaven has given us a treasured possession--it is His word. It is something so many of us, His children, were very excited about when we first began to pick it up. We began making our way through it, hoping to read the whole thing within a certain amount of time. Perhaps we memorized favorite verses, and even committed daily to sit down in a morning quiet time to read and study the Word. But for one reason or another, our skills have become rusty. Perhaps the practicing of the Word became too difficult, time consuming or tedious. Perhaps we just lost interest somewhere along the way, but cannot recall when that was. And now, the Bible we treasure still reminds us of the One who gave it to us, but it spends most of the time sitting--unopened and collecting dust.
There are many, however, who still pick up God's Word daily to read it and perhaps even memorize a verse or two. But for many of them, perhaps it is obligatory--like a child being forced to learn the piano--they're present, but their heart just is not in it.
We can't all play the ukulele, the guitar, or the piano--or at least play skillfully. But there is one thing all of us who are children of God can do, we can become skilled in God's Word, learning how to apply it to our lives and making it a very real and vital part of who we are. We can "practice" the Bible each day with a desire to become better and better--learning more and more of its "chords" and sharpening the skills we have already learned. We can even become good enough to use our skills to minister to others--like the playing of a song to soothe a wounded heart, our knowledge of God's Word can help others in their darkest hours. If we practice long and hard, we might discover that reading and applying God's Word is not a tedious task but actually a joy. We might learn that any thoughts we have ever had that we would "never understand" or learn His Word were mistaken. And we might discover that what it takes to become skilled in God's Word is really no different than what it takes to become a great pianist--it is all a matter of what you put into it--it is all a matter of heart and soul.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:25:13 PM
Of Greater Influence

    These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, whey you lie down and when you get up (Deut.6:6-7).

Parental pains and parenting problems may be perpetuated by paranoia. Then again--maybe not. None the less, being a parent is not easy. It is a job we first take on with no experience and little training. Many of us go into it with less instruction than is required to take a driver's test. And we do so often simply because we want to be a mommy or daddy--not fully realizing the implications of just such a commitment. Not fully understanding the responsibility, trials and fears that will accompany our love for our children. And whether we consider it being anxious or just being concerned, most parents will readily confess that they often fear for their children.
Are those fears substantiated? You will have to answer that question for yourself, and only truly answer it once you have been or are a parent. For we know that we have many fears that are unsubstantiated, but also many that are substantiated. I watch my son climb a tree like I once did and it makes me nervous. Is that unsubstantiated? I still don't know the answer to that one. Nevertheless, I still get nervous and fear for his safety, and I try to let go of him a little more each day, entrusting him into God's capable Hands. But that's not always easy.
While parents have many fears for their children, perhaps one of the greatest fears is in regard to how others will influence our children. Within the child's early years many of them spend a great deal of their time with a baby sitter. It is soon thereafter that they are enrolled in school and surrounded by more people than they have come into contact with within the short span of their lifetime. Their teenage years are filled with trying to find their place to fit in and peer pressure becomes a strong motivating force in their lives. Throughout their lives, they will be exposed to beliefs, thinking and viewpoints through their contact with others, with television, movies, music, books, with school, church, and work. Within all of this we hope they will be levelheaded and listen to the right influences, while turning away from the bad.
So what determines who or what becomes of greater influence? Is it a question of time? If it were a matter of time alone we could all be doomed when considering the amount of time that is spent in front the television set. Is it a question of quality teaching within those teachable moments we encounter along the way? Perhaps, for a few well chosen words at the right time can impact a person and stay with them for a lifetime. But even still, if those words are few and far between, we will wonder, what is of the greater influence?
It is most certainly the quality and quantity coupled together, and supported by a good parental role model who has genuine concern and love for the welfare of the child that will be of greater influence. And as we cannot raise our children in a glass bubble, only allowing them to be exposed to our influence, it is vital that we take advantage of our time with them in effort to counter the worldly influences with plenty of godly influence. It is imperative for the sake of our children, that we have them in church and spend time with them, loving them, caring for them, and teaching them the Word of God and how to live holy and righteous lives "in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation" (Phil.2:15). And if time does not seem to permit, then we are going to have to carefully weigh the possible consequences of our inability to spend time with our children, and determine who we are going to allow to be of greater influence.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:25:48 PM
Of Sound Mind


    Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him (Lk.12:35-36).

Read Matthew 24:36-51

Time will tell, and usually does, whether the words of a prophet are truth or nothing but vain ramblings. There are some in our world who with the best intentions proclaim that God has revealed the date of His return. These people often manage to draw many to follow them to a place where they will be ready for Jesus to come and gather them home. But to their sorrow, they discover their error and leave perplexed--wondering where they went wrong with their interpretation of the signs of the times.
As the end approaches, Jesus warns, "At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, there he is! do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect--if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time" (Mark 13:21-23). Again He tells us, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" (Mt.24:36). Of these matters, Jesus warns us, "Watch out that know one deceives you" and "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come" (Mt.24:42).
"Therefore watch," Jesus says, conveying to us the importance of being ready and alert. It is a statement of urgency and exhortation. "Be on your guard." Be ready, watch, be alert and do not be deceived. There are two sides to this coin, we are either as Noah in the days before the flood, preparing for what was to come and watching for the signs of the Lord's movement; or we are as the people who continued to live life as "business as usual." Those are they who shunned the truth--choosing to live in blissful ignorance because the truth was something they would not tolerate.
As we live our day to day, perhaps it slips our minds that Jesus is coming back. Maybe we have fallen into doing life as "business as usual," and have become slack in our preparations for the inevitable. Perhaps we prefer the blissful ignorance over the painful truth of coming storms, lives lost and certain disruption of our way of life. None the less, the day approaches and soon will be. And what shall we say to God when we stand before Him to confess our belief in Him, after living a life as though He was never coming back.
Many of us have already, or will, make preparations for the time we will leave this earth. Considering what we will leave behind for our loved ones is a sobering and serious venture, one in which we must attest to our being of sound mind. It is a preparation for an end. Most of us do not go around in denial, pretending that we will never someday die. To do so would pretty much nullify our claim to be of sound mind, and our last will and testament would not likely hold up if it were strongly contested. And while we may consider it a bit crazy for someone to live their life as though they are immortal, we do not make the same judgment of those who live as though Christ will never come again, because that would probably be the majority of us. For we do not truly watch for His coming, and we do not make preparations for it. Instead, we go on living our daily lives--"business as usual"--living a denial of the truth, even while professing that truth. If we were really of sound mind, knowing that Christ could come tomorrow, we would live as though it were truth. But we have settled to become a part of the large and silent mass and there is no longer anyone to proclaim the truth of the coming "floods."
Can you think of someone who is urgently proclaiming the coming of the end? Is it a wacko? Is it a preacher? Is it you?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:26:26 PM
Silent Pondering

    But Mary kept all these things, and pondered [them] in her heart
    (Luke 2:19).

There are those things we would proclaim upon house and mountain top, wanting everyone to know what we know and share in our excitement. And there are those things that we quietly treasure within our hearts, like some special sentimental secret which reveals itself only through the glimmer in our eyes. Mary observed the reactions of the shepherds to the birth of Jesus, and she marked well the many words, events and jubilant expressions that accompanied. And she "kept all these things," and treasured them, "and pondered them in her heart."
It is a very special love that exists between us and our Lord. There are many aspects of our times with God that we cannot wait to share with others. We look forward to telling others about some new thing God has revealed to us, or some new way God has moved within our lives. It is, after all, and encouragement to others and to us when we come together to share excitements over a common love we have for Jesus.
But every morsel of truth is not necessarily meant for public knowledge, and every movement of God does not have to immediately be moved beyond the confines of our personal relationship with Him. There are those times when what God allows us to be a part of is something that He would have us keep and "ponder them" in our hearts. Within any close relationship, there are those things that are kept within a small and intimate circle. It is then nurtured and grows and soon flourishes beyond expectation.
What God gives to us is sometimes meant to be a small piece of a greater whole. It is meant to be preliminary to things to come, as well as being laid upon things already present. It is a process of the revelation of God's will and desire in our lives. To ponder it is to allow it to unfold. We are not always meant to act upon it immediately or to proclaim it loudly. But sometimes, we are simply meant to take it in, think about it, pray and wait upon the Lord to fully develop our understanding.
Some things are meant to stay between us and God. Those things will be like a rose bud on a stem, concealing a beautiful secret that it is not quite ready to share. Much of God's work in our lives is part of the ongoing process, and much of it requires our patience and the necessary time to allow the rose bud to become the rose. While we would not want to keep the rose bud forever closed, we would also not want to rush the process of it's opening.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:27:07 PM
Clothed In Christ

    You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Gal.3:26).

Read Galatians 3:26-4:20

A friend of mine told me a story of a time he went to a Baptist church, where one Sunday, there was a baptism service being held. The pastor began to tell everyone that baptism has no real significant meaning, but that it is only something done to enter the membership of the church. I could not believe what I was hearing. I have attended a number of Baptist churches and I have never heard such a statement. In fact, most Baptist churches spell out the significance of Baptism in their church doctrine, and it goes far beyond a ritualistic right of passage into church membership.
Could it be we are coming to an age where we will no longer think it is necessary to baptize new believers? Most assuredly so. For it is only a matter of a simple following of suit. The reason such important sacraments could be easily set aside is that they have already been set aside in the heart. The writer of Galatians tells us that "you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." It stands to reason that a generation who have clothed themselves like the world would see no reason to clothe themselves in Christ. After all, who puts on two sets of clothing?
To some, Baptism is a step in the salvation process. To others, it is a outward expression of and inward happening. For many, it is the identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. For Jesus, it was so that all righteousness might be fulfilled (Mt.3:15).
Our believing in God concerning Christ identifies us with Abraham who "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." We are made righteous through our faith in Christ because we have believed God, that Christ is the way to salvation for all of us, and that salvation is as secure as He that has offered it is faithful.
When a baby is born, one of the first things we do is put clothes on the baby. Clothes that we have picked out with and excitement and love for the new child. When Jesus came up from the baptismal waters, God said "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." When we are baptized in Christ we are clothed in Christ and are thereby identified as God's child. And just like the new child in the maternity ward, we too shall be taken home to be with our Father.
Baptism can mean a great deal to us, or it can mean almost nothing. The condition of one's heart will determine which. For if someone desires to be clothed in Christ yet continues identifying with the world, then he is trying to wear two sets of clothing. This will get quite uncomfortable and will lead him to eventually remove the set of clothing that is not worn closest to his heart. To the one who sees baptism as nothing more than right of passage, he will not identify himself with Christ as a child of God. To the one who sees baptism as very significant and somewhat mysterious, he will continue to discover the awe-inspiring implications of what it means to be clothed in Christ and identified as a child of God--one day to be taken home to be with the Father.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:27:41 PM
Stretching

    Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest into your souls. For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light (Mt.11:28-30).

A dear friend of mind has often referred to trials and tribulations as "growing times." These words are often accompanied with a deep sigh that rings of the weariness experienced within such times. They are times we do not particularly want to endure. Nevertheless, we know there is no way to get around them--except to go through them.
The weary times can stretch us so thin, that we fear we will snap somewhere in the middle if things keep going the way they are. We become so fatigued by our life circumstances that just a little thinking is something that seems to be to much to do. And it is just when we think we cannot take any more that one of two things usually happens. Either something is added to our load and we learn that we can take more than we thought, or we come to the end of our burden to find a much anticipated rest. Regardless, we do find our rest, and within it--we find God.
It is a wonderful Sabbath rest. It is the walk in the garden in the cool of the day. It is the time when the work and weariness is finally at an end and we can take a long deep breath, relax, and just be with Him. We do not purpose to find rest, and therefore we do not arrange our circumstances to bring about the Sabbath rest. But we discover that rest only after the work is done. It is a reward to those who seek no reward. It is a taking of pleasure in looking back and knowing you did well within your struggle.
But before that kind of rest is reached, we will most assuredly be stretched. It is the picture of our arms spread as wide as they can be. One hand holds that which we must release to put behind us, while the other hand strains to grasp that which must be held. We try to hold on to both to feel secure but we cannot truly enter into the rest until we let go of what must be put behind.
The things that must be put behind differ for each of us. Some of us must release life dreams or ambitions. Some of us must let go of what we once may have loved or treasured because it is already gone but we fight to keep it going. Wishing for things that cannot be only frustrates us. That frustration can turn to anger and the anger into bitterness. The more we struggle to cling to the things we can never possess, the greater our frustration, anger and bitterness will become. And our hearts will not know rest, for we will struggle within the quietness the same as we do in chaos.
If life is like a jungle, we must keep in mind that we won't make it very far if we refuse to release one vine to take hold of the next. The growing times are there to bring positive change to our lives.  The stretching is seldom fun, but always necessary, as we are continually shaped within the hands of our Creator.
Work hard to allow God to stretch you as He needs, and then, discover the joy of His wonderful Sabbath rest.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:28:14 PM
Don't Go Empty Handed

    Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all [was] vanity and vexation of spirit, and [there was] no profit under the sun
    (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

We have each been given two hands. With our hands we greet strangers with a friendly handshake, we open doors on buildings and cars, we pick things up and we put things down. With our hands we embrace what is dear to us, and with our hands we push away what we do not like. But two hands are all we have, and they will only hold so much. So we must choose what we will hold and of what we will let go.
We come into the world empty handed. Many things will pass through our hands as we learn and grow. And as we grow, we are bound to find some things that pass through our hands that we do not wish to let go of. We embrace them and decide that we will hold on to these things while continuing to try out new things.
But there comes a time of letting go. We may choose to hold on to what is most pleasing and let go of those things that do not bring as much pleasure. Nevertheless, we cannot hold onto it all.
It is obvious that by hanging onto some things that we will miss out on some others. We might even become afraid of what we will miss out on and never really hang on to anything, only to discover that we let something of value slip through our fingers.
We are continuously letting go of one thing while clinging to another. It is kind of like musical chairs in some cases, as we quickly move from one chair to the next, ready to settle into one chair but cautiously moving forward. And we hope that when the music stops that we will have what we want.
But God gave us two hands--only two hands--why not more? Like anything else, God has given us what is needed and therefore we can say that it is because we do not need any more than two. But and if He did, think of all the extra things we could hold on to. Think of all the things we could try to cling to while at the same time clinging to our Heavenly Father.
But even with two hands, perhaps we can hold on to the Father and also to something else. Yes, and indeed we do. But what is it we try to hold on to, and is it meant to be held on to, and can it go with us into God's Kingdom? Consider what things we hold on to and then consider how far they will go--will they make it to Heaven?
Perhaps if we could truly let go of what the one hand hangs on to that is of this life, we might discover what it was meant to grasp. For while one hand holds tightly to the Hand of Christ, the other would be holding the hand of someone who needs Christ. And as we hold that person's hand and draw them toward the Lord, he will grab onto His hand and turn ours loose. Then his hand will be empty, as will ours, and we then can grab onto the hand of another to continue the process.
Consider what you can hold onto that you can take to Heaven--it is the hand of another who would come to know Christ once we choose to release our grip off our wants and this world. Embrace the truth, and your hands will hold more in Heaven than they ever could have held on this earth.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:28:53 PM
Severed Ties

    Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought form death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master because you are not under law, but under grace (Rom.6:12-14).

Read Romans 7:7-8:1

                              Sin

                    Ebony cubes
                    enclosing all
                    who stray from God
                    in endless pain.
                    Within the chamber
                    of it's grip,
                    blackened soot
                    fills every breath.
                    Children
                    suffocate to death.

And so we wonder just what sin is. Is it something to be saved from? Is it something we cannot escape? Is it something we are born with or into? Does it threaten to suffocate us within it's walls and keep us in bondage to it's grip? Perhaps we should spell it out rather than summing it up in a single word. Sin is disobedience to God. But it is not just disobedience, to think so might cause one to think that obeying the rules is enough.
To sin against God means that we have offended Him or wronged Him in some fashion. It happens, just as in our relationships with others, when we ignore what we know is desired by the other so that we can have what we want. It is in not doing what is for the good of another, or it is in doing that which is harmful, even at the most remote level. To live in sin is to subscribe to our Selfish Nature--putting the self ahead of others regardless of what is right or wrong.
Now we know that by our sin, our relationship with God was severed. But we know as well that God made a way for us to restore that relationship and be reconciled to Him through His Son, Jesus. And that restoration is complete. We cannot do anything to add to or take away from the work of Jesus. All we can do is to trust that what He did was sufficient to restore us to the Father, once and for all.
With this in mind, we need not confuse broken fellowship with God as being a separation from Him like unto the separation we have from Him before we trust in the work of Christ and are reconciled to Him. We will sin against God even after we have been reconciled to Him, but the relationship remains secure because it is dependent upon the work of Christ, not upon the tally of my wrongs and rights or goods and bads.
Our fellowship with God is broken or hindered by our sin, but we still think to see this as a separation from God like that before we trusted Christ. It is not a complete separation. If that were the case there would be no thought to make things right. For our God does not turn His back on His children, but reaches out to them to bring them back. Away from Him we sense no need to repent, but as He draws us near we feel the friction within the relationship that is there because of our selfish acts. And we are faced with dealing with our sin if we are to have peace in Him once more.

    God [is] faithful, by whom you were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:9).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:29:24 PM
Guard Your Heart

    When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, "I will return to the house I left." When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first (Lk.11:24-26).

More than once I have left a church service convicted over sin in my life. More than once I have repented of that sin and determined to do better. And more than once I have lost the battle before it barely got started. It would seem that feeling remorse for my sin and good intentions to do better are not quite enough. Sure, I manage to do well at first--I face temptation head on and come away victorious. But that often does not seem to last long. It seems that I have, more frequently than I would care to confess, found myself right back where I started--failing to a temptation I thought I had gained a final victory over.
However, we must first consider the first mistake; and that is the attitude that we will not make the same mistake again. For as soon as we think we stand, that is truly when we will be blind-sided and knocked to the ground in humiliating defeat. Keeping in mind that we are not above sinning will help us to keep a watchful eye open, and to be on guard against the devil's fiery darts.
A second thing that we must keep in mind is that we cannot keep fighting against our selfish nature--we must change it. Fighting against our selfish nature will wear us down until a time we are weak and that nature will prevail. That is why we never try to fight temptation alone. Instead, we turn to Christ saying, "Lord, save us." And we rely on Him to provide us a way to escape. We come to Christ to be our strength, and we come to Him so that through our prolonged contact with Him, our selfish nature might be changed.
But let us keep in mind that just because we have chosen to lay off the fatty foods and sugars, we have not decided to give up food. We can turn from temptation, and we can fight it by the power of God, and we can draw near to Christ to be changed, but Christ did not come to empty and clean our "house" of the bad, without providing something good to take the place of the bad. As we fight off temptation, quitting what is wrong may give us a victory over a battle; but without fortifying the walls of the fort, the enemy will eventually penetrate our defenses. It is necessary not only to be cleaned, but to be filled. For example, if you feel that you need to avoid television and movies because of their godless influence, you might determine to not turn the TV on except for the news and perhaps public TV. Perhaps you will just not watch it at all. And so, you have emptied yourself of the godless influence that would normally come through that medium. The problem is that your person is going to want something to replace that, and the flesh is weak. This craving for want and the weak flesh combined, spell out trouble. But if we were to go out of our way to find videos, movies or TV channels that are entertaining, and have spiritual benefit while containing no godlessness, then we would be filled with something good to replace the bad. The result will not only be more frequent victories over the sin, but our tastes will change to enjoy the godly things, which will cause us to lose more and more of the desire for the things that are godless.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:29:57 PM
Following On

    Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word (Psalms 119:33-37).

“Nobody said it would be easy, they only said it would be worth it.” Those familiar words ring in the ears of many who seek to remind themselves why they sacrifice, or why they uphold godliness in the face of adversity, or why they simply keep following the Lord no matter what the cost. No one said that you would have no more troubles or that God would snap His fingers and make your life perfect in every respect. God did not promise us that. What He promises instead is that He will never leave us nor forsake us, and that He will provide for our needs in Christ Jesus. And with that, we see within His grace another well known matter of fact--and that is that “He may not make your troubles go away, but He will help you make it through.”
“Nobody said it would be easy...”
In fact, truth be known, most will tell you that the Christian life is anything but easy. It is a life of growing pains and hard lessons. I remember one particular time when I was so excited about reading my Bible that I read it on my job while neglecting some important work. Did God want me reading my Bible? Of course. Did He want me reading it instead of doing a job I was being paid to do? No. And in fact, God kindly warned me through three different times and ways. He did so until I finally reaped according to what I had sewn and so I received a stern reprimand from my boss. That was a hard lesson learned. But it was only one of so very many.
I remember another time shortly after I had become a Christian, when while in my enthusiasm, my pastor told me that I would have to come down out of the clouds sometime. I know He meant well, but I have to admit that I resented being told that this was some kind of elated “cloud nine” experience that was sure to pass. In time I learned that a certain amount of the excitement would diminish, but I also learned that a loving relationship with God goes much deeper than spiritual highs and momentary mountain top experiences.
“...they only said it would be worth it.”
The pain and hardship is nothing new to believers in Jesus. And neither is the reward that comes as a result of the trials. You may have heard someone say that you won’t find a rainbow without going through some rain. And just as the world around us needs rain to bring growth, so also it would seem that in order for us to experience growth in our Christian lives, we must also go through some rain. James tells us to, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:3). In Romans 8:18, we are encouraged as Paul explains “that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” In fact, we find much encouragement throughout the Bible as we look into the lives of children of God who realized that the riches in the Lord were far greater a prize than anything of this earth--and they were willing to suffer to attain what God has for those who will continue to follow Him.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:32:12 PM
Acquired Taste

    I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalms 119:101-103)

I am, what you might call, “a serious coffee drinker.” I like all kinds of brands and flavors. I have a cappuccino maker, a ten cup coffee pot, and a four cup coffee pot as well. I drink coffee at various hours of the day, not just morning, and when I go out of town, I am sure to see to it that I will have a coffee pot where I am staying--even if it means bringing my own.
My wife, on the other hand, has these words to say about coffee: “I don’t know how anything that smells so good can taste so bad.” More than once I have told her how coffee is really kind of an acquired taste--one I have grown accustomed to--one I miss when it is not there.
In Psalms, we are invited to, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” (Psalms 34:8). Now, would we say that our “taste” for the Lord is an acquired taste? I would say so. For it is only through the contact with the Holy Spirit that we even begin to discover what the Psalmist is talking about when he writes, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
So how does one taste of the Lord? In Psalms 119, we read, “I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” To taste of the Lord, simply means to walk with Him and according to His word. It means meditating on the things of God--chewing on them, if you will. And it means experiencing God in an up close and personal way as we keep our feet from evil and purposely set our hearts on the purposes of our Maker.
In time, our acquired taste is one that we cannot hardly go a day without. We enjoy the pleasantry of His company. We enjoy the warmth of His filling. We enjoy the aroma of His sweet Spirit as He embraces us in all His goodness. We have grown so accustomed to tasting the Lord on a daily basis that, when we do not spend time with Him, we soon feel the effects thereof.
Another aspect of our acquired taste is that as we taste of His goodness, we recognize the empty foods of this world as just that--empty. In Proverbs 20:17 we read, “Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel.” Simply put, the empty foods of this fleeting world can leave a bad taste in our mouths.
We need to be, what you might call, “ a serious child of God.” The kind of people who enjoy God at all times and look forward to that next moment together. People who, whether we are at church, home, or away, we seek to ensure that we have the things of God with us--even if it means taking a Bible to the beach.

    Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:1-3)


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 24, 2006, 12:33:04 PM
Not Quite Black &  White

    But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is  the evil thereof (Mt.6:33-34).

The ultimate question is, and should always remain, "What does God want?' It is not unheard of for a church to ask this question from time to time, but it seems that many churches are asking it far less than they should. Most situations are confronted with the consolidation of our collective wit and human reasoning. And only if and when we find that we have run out of answers do we, as one united group, ask God what He wants.
And there are those times where we do come together and ask God what He wants. As it is within a group, it is often done formally--led by one, while some may be praying in their hearts along with him. But let the unity be lacking and the direction be intellectually derived and we will see no awe-inspiring movements of God. For we will as before tackle our troubles with human ingenuity, and the results are as would be expected without any supernatural intervention.
Throughout the Bible, God used ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary doings. God's hand often moved a person beyond their limitations, using that person in such ways as to demonstrate His purpose, power and love. God's desire for the church is no different. He wants to take us beyond our abilities and reasoning and limitations, and use us in such a way that all who witness cannot help but see the movement of God's hand within it.
But when the church is governed by majority rule, what will be seen is the opinion of the majority. And anyone who stands up and declares, "We need to seek God more fully," will be looked at like they are fanatical. Someone might even explain to them that their faith is a little unrealistic. Perhaps they might respond, "Why does it seem unrealistic to you? You believe in a God you cannot see--don't you?"
Why would such a faith seem unrealistic? Possibly because there are many who walk not by faith but by sight. They are those who place their stake in the bottom line and limit the operations of the church within the confines of budgets and bylaws. For it is truly easier to let written words and numbers be our Lord than a God we cannot see.
Nevertheless, it is not the church collectively who suffers vision impairment due to the cataracts of the bottom line, it is also the individuals in their personal lives. And it is everyone of us from one time to another. For as we are faced with a difficulty our first response is often to venture out to solve the problems on our own, with what we have and within the confines of our limitations. Why do we do this rather than coming to God first? Is it some sort of frantic search for answers that leads us to mentally scroll through a list of options; which once we come to the end of our list we look at it again or pick the best choice even if it does not really solve anything? A sad but true statement for most of us much of the time is that there are times where God is not even on the list of possibilities. Though not because we do not want Him there--we just simply forget about Him.
It is truly God's desire to work within our life situations, bringing us peace and resolution before, during and after our storms. We often frantically search our minds for answers. We might even pray first and then, praying aside, we begin to search our minds for the answers. But we should keep in mind that there are many times that we have no answers on our own, and when we reach the end of our list of possibilities we will become worried and frustrated--and worried and scared--and worried. . . You get the idea. Yet rather than finding comfort once we have found an answer, God would have us find our comfort and then find the answer. For as we seek Him first, we find His peace and comfort and we release worry and anxiety, and then our eyes are open to see His answers for our situations.
God cannot find room in our hearts to bring peace when our hearts are full of worry, and He cannot find room to speak the answer into our minds when our minds are filled with human reasoning.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 25, 2006, 12:27:05 PM
In All Our Ways

    From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
    Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:21-26).

Many of us may read this passage and feel sorry for Peter. His intentions seem noble as he took Jesus aside and told Him, "This shall never happen to you!" But Peter’s rebuke carried with it overtones of selfish concern, and Jesus promptly responded with a rebuke of His own, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." We do not know exactly what Peter’s thoughts were, or what he was trying to say to Jesus, but it is clear by what Jesus said that Peter’s motives were not pure.

Jesus had a purpose, and He reminded Peter of that purpose as He spoke of the cross. Jesus had come to lay down His life. He was not given a normal life in this world, but a cross to carry. As he followed God, He counted His life as forfeited--given up for the will and purpose of the Father.

Peter’s remarks clearly expressed his desire to see God work in Jesus according to Peter’s plan. But Jesus reminded Peter that there is a greater plan than ours, and it is the plan we must follow. Even as Christ gave up His right to a life of His choice on this earth so that the greater plan of God might be accomplished, He admonished that the rest of us are asked to do the same. To do any less is to become a stumbling block to the purposes of God. To choose our plan over His is to “not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

We make a lot of plans in this life, and so often without consulting God. Careers, churches, locations, marriage partners, and many other life decisions are made with the “things of man” in mind. May God help us to follow Him in all our ways, and not just a selected few.

    “in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 26, 2006, 05:57:50 PM
Every Opportunity

    Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord. always giving thanks to God the Father for everything. in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph.5:15-20).

We do not know how much time we have left, as a group or as an individual. We are all well aware that our lives could be over today, but seldom do we sit around thinking about it to any real and serious degree. We consider our activities, ambitions and goals for today and tomorrow; and in so doing, we may or may not have our priorities in order. And being that some, or most, of our lives are wasted upon many petty things, perhaps it would be a good time to evaluate our direction, our wants and our reasons.
It is certain that the coming to grips with our "out of sorts" priorities can be painful and maybe even frightening. But let us hold to the love of God that will not suffer us to bear above what we are able. Knowing this, then, let us realize the benefits of coming before our Lord and asking Him to clearly point out the priority adjustments we must make. May we say to the Lord, "Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom" (Psalms 51:6); and also, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts" (Psalms 139:23). Let our seeking be for His truth and may we avoid the seeking of the fulfillment of our own desires.
"Therefore do not be foolish, but understand the Lord's will." And what would be foolish is to pay more attention to the things that will not last. But we know that the will of God will endure and continue on into the next life. For we were designed to seek after the things that matter most within the person of God, yet so often we "strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel" (Mt.23:24). Simply put, we place such a great emphasis on things that do not really matter while practically allowing the important things to completely go ignored.
But what is important, and what should be our greatest priority? Jesus told us that the two greatest commandments were that we love God with all our person, and that we love all others as ourselves. In this we find that which is of the greatest value. For what we accomplish here may never reach heaven, yet we will ourselves will one day be with God in heaven. On the other hand, what we do accomplish here may not seem like much to the world, but it may have resounding effects throughout eternity in the hearts of those to whom we have reached out.
Does God want us to sit around and dwell upon our end or the end of the world? I don't believe so. Yet, I am certain He wants us to consider the end's effects and to remember that to love God and others is our greatest priority.
So let's not allow the time to slip by as we hurry through our busyness, but let us make "the most of every opportunity," holding tight to the glory that is before us and pressing on toward the goals the Lord Himself has established for us.
There are many things we can do to help others find their life in God, but truly loving them as we go is what its all about.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 27, 2006, 02:13:13 PM
Somewhere In The Middle

    I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth (Rev.3:15-16).

There is a broad area that lies somewhere between one extreme and another. Take the water temperature gauge on a car's dashboard for instance; on the one end there is a "C" for cold and to at the other end there is an "H" for hot. That which is in the middle might sometimes be labeled as normal and therefore does not raise any feelings of alarm or uneasiness if the needle remains in that area. But let the needle sit at the maximum cold or the maximum hot and those who look on might become somewhat uncomfortable and find themselves continuously and cautiously watching the gauge and hoping to see it return to a normal state of operation.
Revelation 3:15-16 comes from a passage wherein Jesus is speaking concerning the church of the Laodiceans. He compares their state to that of lukewarm water, which when drank would cause one to spew the water out because it is neither hot nor cold. Evidently, they were not a people who were excited about God and His work, or a people passionate concerning the Kingdom of God. Perhaps they were a people who showed very little interest in a spiritual life at all, but were content to go through the motions of doing church as though to fulfill a religious obligation.
The Laodiceans were also a people who were not completely turned away from God. They did not openly and outwardly defy God and His righteousness. For if they had been cold to God perhaps their would have been some anger, bitterness or distrust regarding God for one reason or another. Yet it seems obvious that they were not angry at God, and it is also apparent that they were not passionate toward Him. Instead they were somewhere in the middle--having no real feelings whatsoever. It was probably an intellectual faith more than one of the heart.
The amazing thing about being somewhere in the middle is that it is something that seems to make everyone else more comfortable. It's like the water temperature gauge--let it remain in the "normal" state and those who look on are settled and feel comfortable to proceed as usual--but let it go to either extreme and there will be a lot of troubled onlookers who will be trying to find a way to get things back to the more comfortable, "normal" state.
If someone is "too hot" in regard to God then "they are not realistic." They are seen to speak of faith in a fanciful way and are viewed as persons more led by unpredictable emotions than by rational thinking. The "normal" dwellers look at them as fanatics who have good intentions, but are expected to settle into the normal state over time. So those who are truly passionate for God may be seen as "going through a phase" that will soon pass.
On the other hand, if a person is "too cold," well, first of all they probably won't be in church to begin with. And if they are at church, they probably won't stay for very long. For they are those who do not agree with us or believe in what we stand for. They do not fall into the norm, and we really don't believe a lot of them ever will--but we hope some day they might.
Now consider the gas gauge--it is seen as at its best when it is at one extreme, and only one--"full." It may be seen as all right if it lies somewhere between the extremes, but we know that the best place is always at the one end--and we begin to worry if it gets too close to the other.
If only our churches could be more like the gas gauge instead of the water gauge. Perhaps then we would encourage our members to be filled, rather than holding them back from going too far so to keep them at a level that makes the rest of us comfortable. If we could only see ourselves as gas gauges, then we would all be motivated to return and be filled when we see our needle moving downward, and we would find our greatest comfort when we are completely filled.
When Jesus explained to us that we should take up a cross and follow Him, and give up every attachment to everything and everyone, He was clearly encouraging us toward an extreme. An extreme wherein we would indeed find true comfort, and an extreme in which we would truly experience the fullness of God's Person, Purpose and Kingdom.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 28, 2006, 03:04:05 PM
Paid Dearly

    Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it (Mt.13:45-46).

The story is told of a young boy who had worked hard to build a model boat. The boat was beautiful and the boy was pleased as he looked at what he had made. The day came that the boy had long awaited, the day he would take his boat to the lake at the city park and set it afloat in the water. With excitement, he set the boat in the water and gave it a push. But in his excitement he pushed it a little too hard and the boat soon moved out beyond the boy's reach. In a short time the boat was pushed along by a breeze and moved further and further until it faded from sight. The young boy was heart-broken and ran home and told his father what had happened. His father assured him they would go and by another boat--one even bigger and better than the one he had lost The following day, the boy was walking down the street when while he was passing a pawn shop he noticed a model boat in the store window. But it was not just any boat, it was his boat--the very one he had labored to build and had lost at the lake. The boy quickly ran into the store and told the owner what had happened, but the store owner insisted that if the boy wanted the boat he would have to pay for it. The price was not too great for the boy as he gave the owner the money to buy back what was already his. For the boy thought to himself, "This is my boat again. For I made it, and then it was lost, and now I have found it and have bought it back again. And it is mine once more."
Sometimes, it seems that we forget the value that we hold in the eyes of our maker. We look at our lives and sometimes let the circumstances persuade us that we have been all but forgotten. There are those times when we are like the lost boat, adrift without a sense of direction or purpose, and we might feel as though we are far and away from the safety of a shore whereon our Maker stands--watching us move further away from Him.
But our Lord has not forgotten, and He misses the one who is lost while many are not. He longs to bring back to Himself those who for some reason have drifted away and are not where they belong. He has not forgotten, and He will leave the ninety nine to find the one, and He notices just one that is missing among thousands who are not.
Sometimes we forget the price that was paid for us. We forget how great a love the Father has for us that He would give His own Son so we might be in His Hands once more.

    Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God (Isa.43:1-3).


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 29, 2006, 01:43:07 PM
Missing The Miracles

    For this people's heart has become callused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them (Mt.13:15).

I remember the first time I saw an illustration of a light spectrum in a science book. It was amazing to me how each and every color was somehow contained in the light, and that as a particular light wave hit the surface of an item, some of the light waves were absorbed while others were deflected off. This, I am certain, is a very simplistic description of what light is like and how it is reflected. Nevertheless, it is still something that is fascinating when considering it.
Many a child has stood still, eyes wide and beholding the wonderful colors refracted through a prism. Many adults still enjoy the array of colors that seem to bounce around on the walls of a room wherein a prism hangs in a window on a sunny afternoon. But what has always been even more amazing to me is that there are many colors we cannot see--colors that are invisible to the human eye, but no less there.
Even as we know that there is light we cannot see, we know there is sound we cannot hear. We know, for instance, that a dog can hear a dog whistle, while we on the other hand cannot. And though we cannot see all light and hear all sound, we do not debate the existence of either. For we know that there are electronic devices that can show us some of the hidden light, and as we watch a dog respond to a dog whistle, we can observe a response to the sounds we cannot hear.
With all this in mind, we would then surrender to the knowledge that we are not able to perceive all physical occurrences with our human senses. We simply trust that these things are so because there are evidences of them, and evidences we realize we may never witness first hand.
If therefore, we are able to believe in physical forces we cannot see, we have no basis for disbelieving the spiritual forces we cannot see. For we are no more equipped to sense within our human capacity all the things which are supernatural, than we are the natural. Yet, many would contend that certain supernatural movements, specifically "miracles," are more likely the movement of one's imagination rather than the movement of God's Hand. Would such people also contend that light that cannot be seen and sound that cannot be heard is also the creation of human imagination? Such people might respond like so many others by requiring some sort of proof, and that proof often as defined by the doubter.
The problem with such thinking is that we cannot expect God to move outside of His will in order to prove that He moves by His will. When God reveals Himself to us it is how and when He chooses, it is by His nature and because of that, it is not confined to the laws of our physical perceptions no more than subsonic frequencies and infrared light.
God moves as He will, and the only way we shall see his movement is when we have a developed sensitivity to His movement. It is likely that those who do not believe in miracles do not because they have never personally witnessed any; but it is more likely that they did not witness any because they have eyes that cannot see, and ears that cannot hear.
Let us pray to God to develop in each of us a keen awareness of His supernatural movement--that He will give us eyes that see and ears that hear.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 30, 2006, 11:53:10 AM
Faith In Faith

    Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"
    "From childhood," he answered. "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything take pity on us and help us."
    "If you can?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
    Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief (Mk. 9:21-24).

We are faced all too often with difficult situations in which we believe more in our ability to doubt than in God's ability to work in spite of our doubts. For in the midst of certain events we cross our fingers and hope that our faith will outlast our circumstances, and it seems that the tighter we try to hang on to our faith the more difficult it becomes. For in reality, as we fear losing faith we have in essence already began to doubt. The doubt grows--our faith weakens--and we react. And then it is time to pick up the pieces.
For some of us, that is when the real trouble begins. That is when we begin to analyze what went wrong, and we try to determine where we messed up. We might begin to think, "If only my faith were stronger. . ." or "If only I could have" done this or done that. This is the time we begin to list out all of the possible errors, blame ourselves for messing up, and then determine we are hopeless.
Perhaps it would be good at this point to remind ourselves which of us is God. Though it is not us who are God, one might think that we think it is. For you see, we act as though we have so much power over all of our circumstances. We take all of our scenarios in hand and determine all of the ways we have changed the course of our lives. We act as though God's will changes and is conditional--as though the administration of His will in our lives is directly proportional to our performance.
What we must keep in mind is that anything we do, or don't do; any amount of faith we have or lack, or any direction we choose never surprises our Lord. He is quite aware when we are about to make a mistake, and He knows when and where our faith is going to give out. But rather than steer us away from such catastrophe He has chosen to take us through it.
God is not sitting up in Heaven looking down at us and shaking His head in frustration--saying to Himself, "There he goes again. What am I going to do now." The point is that God is greater than our mistakes and is more than able to keep us on a path He has chosen for us if we veer off from time to time because we have misread His purpose in and around a particular event, and regarding His will. If our hearts are toward Him, if our desire is truly to serve Him and do His will, He will correct us and help us to get back on track--we just need to trust Him to do that. For our faith is not placed in our ability to believe, but in His ability to help us in the midst of our unbelief. In this we see the faith that moves mountains, because we know it is not our faith that moves the mountains, but Who we place our faith in.


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 31, 2006, 11:23:56 AM
The Enemy

    Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings (1Pt.5:8-9).

Who is our enemy? Is it the man or women at work who seems to be trying to undermine our credibility with our fellow employees or our employers? Is it the neighbor who seems to be having a miserable life and is intent on making ours as miserable as theirs? Is it someone at school who is spreading malicious gossip about things that are not true, and means to ruin our reputations? Perhaps Scripture would help us to understand who our real enemy is. Consider an enemy who can have no change of heart, who will not respond to any amount of kindness, who will hate you and continue to hate you no matter what. Even some of the most difficult people can be won over in time--wounds can heal, and bygones be bygones. But there is no reconciliation with the one true enemy, for he is always out to beset us.
We must always remember that the devil is our one true enemy, lest we forget and begin thinking it is another human being. Ephesians 6:12 tells us, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Our battles are not with human beings but with the dark powers that control a significant portion of humanity. We wrestle with satan's control over the lives of others, and we wrestle with his control of ourselves. And we must continue to wrestle--to resist the devil and to stand "firm in the faith."
And our wrestling is not something we do alone, for there are many who "are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." So we do not wrestle for our cause and for our lives alone, but also for the lives of others like us who strive against the enemy and fight to bring light to the world. The enemy would have us think that we are alone in our struggle. He would have us believe that the majority have abandoned the call of God and no longer listen to Him, for the devil knows that if we believe we are alone in our struggle that we will be easier to defeat.
The enemy's tactics are old, but well practiced. He is one who divides churches with petty differences or with opinionated doctrines. He distracts us with the pleasures and pleasantries of this life--he feeds our ambition, he caters to our lusts and he motivates us toward a life of self-centeredness. For he knows that if he can keep us distracted from the realities of his certain defeat, that he will be able to take many with him when he goes down.
But Peter warns us to be alert. We are to ready ourselves and refrain from becoming distracted from the truth of reality no matter how much it hurts to look at it. And Peter also tells us to be self-controlled. For we know that the enemy will tempt us, but it is the enemy within that yields to temptation. It is our selfish nature that will draw us toward the enticements of our enemy,
What shall we consider as we go out into our lives today? Shall we do business as usual, and do so in such a way that heaven and hell, and life and death escape our attentions. Will we face a day thinking that those are important issues, yet not live our lives as if they are. We know that in the church there are many people who say they believe in an afterlife while acting as if there is no life beyond this life. And that's just fine with the enemy, for as long as we live like we don't believe when we say we do, that just makes his job all the easier.
Do you believe "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour?" Does it show in your life? What actions are you taking against your truest enemy?


Title: Re: Day by Day
Post by: Soldier4Christ on August 01, 2006, 06:39:06 AM
What's Wrong

    This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away (2 Tim.3:1-5).

The civil war of words is growing stronger. The divisions are becoming more clear and definitions of morality draw the lines that divide us. "What is wrong with what I do?" the question is asserted with a rhetorical line in the dirt. Should someone cross that line with a response that remotely seems accusing, they will be chewed up and spit out.
The United States is a land of free speech, or so it is said. As long as your speech agrees with liberal media and relativistic viewpoints, you're free to say anything you want. But ridicule and character assassination are the rewards for those who stand to say that something is wrong with our direction as a nation--that something is wrong with a society that believes individuals should be able to do whatever they choose as long as it does not hurt anyone else.
But what is wrong with this thinking is that it goes against the laws of community living. Can any of us say that we are truly alone within a group? We have heard the old saying, "No man is an island," yet our society would have us believe otherwise. When in fact, every word and every action of an individual will to some degree effect those around them. If the effect is remotely adverse, then questions should be raised.
"What's wrong with abortion?"
It is amazing how quickly logic can escape people who are motivated primarily by selfish want. The abortion issue, after all, for so many is not an issue of wrong or right, but more about what they as individuals should be free to do. But to continue, we are a society with many intelligent and educated people. But because we struggle for freedom to do as we choose, the lines of right and wrong are blurry at best. As a nation, we will imprison a woman who kills her baby immediately upon giving birth, and we call that murder. But the same woman could have the child aborted one month earlier and be looked at as someone exercising her rights. Is something wrong with this picture?
What's wrong with homosexuality?
Once again, if we were to approach our question with sheer logic, we would find inconsistencies in the thinking and arguments for homosexuality. The primary purpose of gotcha146 is first and foremost a biological function for procreation. There is no chance that two males that get married will ever procreate as a couple. Is something wrong with this picture?
What's wrong with cheating on your taxes?  What's wrong with not telling the wh