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Author Message

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted April 30th, 2011 01:50 PM   IP              
Don’t Forget

“Be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 6:12

We all have little slips in our memory once in a while, right? I love the story about the guy who decided to do something about his increasing forgetfulness. This poor chap decided to attend a seminar on how to increase his ability to remember things. And, to his great delight, the seminar worked! A few weeks later he sat in his living room, chatting with a friend about his newly improved recall ability.

“You won’t believe it,” he gushed, “This memory seminar really has helped me remember things better. I have a whole new lease on life!”

“That’s great,” his friend replied. “How does it work?”

“Well, you simply think of a common object that helps you build a link to whatever you need to remember. If you can remember the common object, then you’ll remember the other object.”

“Wow!” said his friend. “You know, to be honest, my memory’s slipping a little. What’s the name of the seminar? I think I might sign up for it.”

“Okay,” the guy replied. “Let’s see, think of a flower with red petals . . . long stem . . . thorns . . . rose.” Then he yelled to his wife in the next room, “Hey, Rose, what was the name of that seminar I went to?”

In Deuteronomy 6:12, Moses is talking to the Israelites about the danger of memory loss when it comes to forgetting God. God’s people were standing on the edge of the Promised Land, ready to enter a land with great cities they did not build, houses full of good things they did not fill, and vast and lush vineyards they didn’t plant. And, as good as the prospect of all this prosperity was, there was a danger lurking under the blessing. Moses knew that in good times it’s easy to forget God. The people were in danger of forgetting that it was God who had given them this land flowing with milk and honey; forgetting that it was God who went before them in each battle; forgetting, in fact, that it was only through God’s gracious choice of them as His people that they were enjoying the blessings of their new home and country. And, when we forget God, we become unthankful, proud, and self-sufficient—the kinds of things that are offensive to the Giver of every good and perfect gift.

So the solution for Israel—and for that matter, for us—is keeping God in mind! The book of Deuteronomy is actually a memory seminar about God’s goodness to His people. Moses reminds the Israelites of the law that was given on Mount Sinai. He tracks the Israelites back over the ways God miraculously provided for them—battles won, food given, shoes that didn’t wear out—the list of God’s providing work is long.

So, here’s the lesson. Beware! When God is abundantly good to us we are in great danger. We are in danger because in good times it’s easy to forget God. It’s easy to be so consumed with the gifts that we forget the Giver! And if we do that, we end up worshiping the blessings and not the One who in His amazing grace has blessed us.

The benefit of keeping God in mind is that it keeps our hearts grateful, appropriately humble, and delighted in our God for His goodness to us. Believe me, delighting in Him beats being consumed by the stuff that He has given us.

Memory lapses in our daily routines may be normal for us. But remembering God’s goodness in our lives is something we can’t afford to forget!


•Take some time to write out what God has done for you. Let it be an exercise in remembering His goodness and grace in your life!
•While we can rejoice in the fact that God forgives and forgets the sins that we confess before Him, it’s sometimes helpful for us to remember just how much He has forgiven us. We are, as Paul said, examples of God’s “unlimited patience” (1 Timothy 1:16).
•How does remembering what God has done for you personally affect the way that you will live your life today?

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 1st, 2011 01:18 PM   IP              
I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger. —John 6:35

Once I made the mistake of thinking I could single-handedly finish a 28-ounce steak at a restaurant. I had the remainder boxed up to take home. I thought, At least it will give me another feast to look forward to.

As I left the restaurant, a homeless man approached me, asking for money. At first I refused. But struck by sudden guilt, I called him back, gave him $5, and blessed him in Jesus’ name. Having done my Christian duty, I was happy to go on my way, boxed-up steak in hand, until he asked, “What about the box?” I have to admit, I had a hard time parting with my steak.

One of my favorite stories in the New Testament is about the little boy who brown-bagged it to a revival service (John 6:1-14). If he was like most boys, his lunch was a very important commodity. Yet he was willing to give his lunch of five barley loaves and two small fish to the Lord. I think he may have known that by putting his lunch in the hands of Jesus, He could do something extraordinary with it. And He did. He fed thousands of hungry people.

Jesus is still looking for a few common folk like you and me who are willing to commit out-of-the-ordinary, intentional acts of selfless sacrifice so that He can turn our offering into His glory. Commit such an act today!

Let me give of myself, dear Lord,
Always ready to sacrifice,
Willing to share what I hold dear,
Never deterred by the price. —Hess

Let Jesus share with others what you want to keep for yourself.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 2nd, 2011 12:16 PM   IP              
Out Of Proportion

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Psalm 111:10

I¡¯ll never forget the time I had my picture taken with Shaquille O¡¯Neal, one of the giants of professional basketball. I never thought of myself as short until I stood next to his 7¡¯1¡å frame. With my head tucked under his arm, I suddenly realized that I wasn¡¯t as tall as I thought I was, at least not when standing next to the Shaq!

The psalmist wrote, ¡°The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom¡± (Psalm 111:10). Fearing God requires that we get things in the proper proportion, like the fact that He is so much greater in every way than we are. ¡°The works of the Lord are great¡± (Psalm 111:2). They are the outworking of His love, strength, wisdom, foresight, will, and faithfulness. Fearing God means coming to grips with this truth.

But it¡¯s easy to miss the point when we don¡¯t stay close to God. The closer we get to Him, the more we realize how much we are lacking, and how desperately we need His far greater wisdom to direct our lives. Left to our little selves, we get everything out of sync. If we¡¯re honest, we have to admit that our limited perspective is often wrong and sometimes can be destructive.

Wise people realize how little they know and how much they need the great wisdom of God.

Great works, Jehovah, You have wrought,
Exceeding deep Your every thought;
A foolish man knows not their worth,
Nor he whose mind is of the earth. ¡ªPsalter

The wise will recognize their limitations and God¡¯s unlimited power.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 3rd, 2011 12:44 PM   IP              

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Interesting, isn’t it, how some childhood experiences are permanently seared into our memory banks? One of my unforgettable memories is of watching my boyhood friend Bobby getting hit by a car. After church one Sunday morning, he and I were standing on the front steps talking. Why he decided to bolt into the street between two parked cars I’ll never know. But that is exactly what he did. As Bobby ran between the cars, his mother, who could see a car coming, screamed: “Stop! Bobby, Stop!” Whether he didn’t hear her or didn’t care I’m not sure. He just kept running. What haunts me to this day is the memory of the sound of screeching brakes and the thud of his body against the car’s fender. I need to tell you that I am tired of hearing the thud of fellow followers of Jesus getting hit by Satan. Like friends who thought that the most important thing in life was career advancement, only to hear the thud of the long-term damage to their kids and spouses. Or of those who sold out to the allure of an affair—or to the addictive seduction of porn—and are now left with the regrets of the collateral damage of their choices.

It’s easy to think you can get ahead by putting other people down or that intimidation and manipulation are handy tools for staying in control. But the thud of ruined relationships and reputations is a big price to pay for doing whatever is necessary to keep yourself on top. Lying to weasel out of a problem erodes the trust factor and compromises the strength of your character. The list of thud-able choices is long and the consequences are often irreversible.

Granted, we are sometimes blindsided by our ignorance or instinctively wrong about our responses to life. But thankfully, God is never blindsided. And, He’s never wrong. From His vantage point He has a clear view of Satan’s destructive attempts to thud our lives. So, like Bobby’s mom, He warns us with clear and unmistakable shouts from His Word. God’s Word is full of warnings about things like greed, selfishness, lying, lust, gossip, hatred, bitterness, envy, argumentative attitudes, stealing, murmuring, oppression, and ignoring the needs of the poor and underprivileged. So, it’s not that there is a lack of clarity in His voice. The problem is ours. Too often, like Bobby, we either are not listening, or we just don’t care.

The warning shouts of Bobby’s mother came from a heart of love and concern for Bobby’s welfare and safety. God warns us as well because He loves us deeply and wants to rescue us from the impending disaster of that thud in our own lives. It’s easy to think of God’s warnings and prohibitions as His attempt to take all the fun out of our lives, but that’s so wrong. In fact, nothing would give Satan more joy than getting you to think like that, because the more you think like that, the easier it is for him to “devour” you. And that’s a thud that I never want to hear!


•Think of a situation when you ignored God’s warnings and experienced Satan’s damage in your life. Envision what you could have done to heed the warnings. How would your life be different today if you had listened?
•Is there an area of your life where Satan has so controlled you that you habitually repeat the damage of his devouring desires for your life? Be specific.
•Look through God’s Word and memorize at least three warnings about that area of your life, and pray that every time you are tempted to fail you will remember the warning and avoid the thud of a disastrous consequence. What positive habit of righteousness could you put in its place?

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 4th, 2011 11:55 AM   IP              
Wake Him Up!

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Eloise worked the cash register in the food court at Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute. She was, by far and away, one of my favorite people. I liked a lot of things about Eloise: her happy smile, helpful spirit, and love for everyone. But what I liked best was her down-home, streetwise wisdom that came out in some of the most memorable quips. I could give you a bunch of them, but here’s one that just might be a good word for you.

One morning, as I reached into my pocket to pull out the cash for my breakfast, I asked Eloise how she was doing, to which she replied, “Not all that great.”

“Really?” I asked, “What’s wrong?”

“Well,” she quipped, “I had to wake Him up this morning!”

I wasn’t quite getting where she was going with that, so I asked, “What do you mean? Wake who up?”

“Don’t you know your Bible?” she teasingly said with an obvious sense of joy at stumping the Moody president. To save me any further embarrassment, she went on to say, “When the disciples thought they were going to die in the storm at sea, they had to wake up Jesus so He would help them. I had to wake Him up this morning,” she said, “’cause I needed His help!”

See why she’s one of my favorite people?

What she didn’t say, though, was that it seems like Jesus was the last resort for those panicked disciples. Luke tells us that it wasn’t until the boat was nearly swamped, and it was clear that they were in great danger, that someone had the brilliant idea to wake up Jesus.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we are usually pretty slow as well to wake Him up. Well, actually, we don’t need to wake Him up since the God who watches over us neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:3)! In reality, we’re the ones who need to wake up. We need to wake up to the truth that we are not as capable as we think we are to deal with life’s challenges; that our wisdom and instincts are flawed; that trying to manage life by the seat of our pants usually gets us into a heap of trouble.

So, thankfully, the writer to the Hebrews assures us that we can come to Jesus with what the text literally says is “unstaggering confidence”—confidence that He understands our plight and is ready to help us in our time of need. And, in case you’re wondering how He will help you in your time of need, think about His grace that will help you endure, His mercy, His power to overcome, His wisdom to show you the way. And don’t forget His calming presence and His peace that passes understanding in the midst of life’s storms. They are all available for the asking!

So, next time you are overwhelmed with life and don’t know what to do, take a little advice from my friend Eloise: wake Him up! And don’t wait until He is your last resort. You’ll get exhausted and disheartened if you try to bail out your boat all by yourself!

Which reminds me of a wonderful old song that we used to sing in church when I was a boy. It goes, “I need thee, Oh, I need thee! Every hour I need thee! Oh, bless me now my Savior, I come to thee.” You’ll need Him sometime—probably today—so make that the theme song of your life.


•Would you say that Jesus is your first option when life gets in your face? Or is He your last resort?
•What specific steps can you take toward being aware of God’s presence and desire to step in and help you?
•At least once today, plan to intentionally call on God. Ask for His wisdom to know what to do and His grace to do it in a way that would be pleasing to Him. Make it a daily, lifelong habit!

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 5th, 2011 01:23 PM   IP              
A Parent's Pain

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

I’ll never forget meeting Nathan and Connie. With five sons, they loved the Lord and were busy going about His work. Suddenly, their world was decimated by an unthinkable tragedy. The three oldest boys were driving home from Wal-Mart when a drunk driver crossed the centerline, hitting them head-on. All three were killed as a result of the accident—snatched away in a cruel, horrible moment.

Connie told me that though the accident had happened three years ago, the pain was still fresh. “To this day, it’s wrenching,” she said. But then she continued, “I’ve often wondered if that’s how Mary felt when she looked at the excruciating and publicly humiliating death of Jesus as He hung on the cross.”

It’s a sobering thought. We have sung of the cross, put it on our steeples and on chains around our necks. But if we are not careful, we grow accustomed to the thought of the cross, forgetting the very real pain, real sorrow, and loss that it represents. And while we think of Mary’s agony and the torment of the cross for Jesus, I wonder if the pain wasn’t deepest in the heart of God. Think of the heartache for the One who willingly sent His only Son! No one knew more deeply what the crushing weight and torture of the sins of the world—your sins and my sins—would be like as they were embedded into the soul of the Savior. Think of how God must have felt in that moment.

The apostle John knew full well what that moment looked like. He was there at the foot of the cross, and from Christ’s words on the cross it seems apparent that he was an eyewitness to the grief of Mary (John 19:26). Years later he would describe this moment as the supreme expression of love. “This is love,” John writes, “not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

The marvel is not that we would love God or choose to offer our lives to Him. It is that He would choose to love us and offer His only Son on our behalf! He willingly endured that pain to bring us back into relationship with Him. This alone—even if God never did anything else for us—should stimulate our hearts to live in grateful love and adoration toward Him for the rest of our lives. The thought of this indescribable love should constantly remind us that we, though undeserving and unlovable in His sight, have been blessed beyond measure and loved like no one else could love us!

I love the words to the hymn penned by Stuart Townend (who clearly has not grown accustomed to impact of the cross):

How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure,

That He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turns His face away,

As wounds which mar the Holy One, bring many sons to glory.

Keeping the cross in mind with all of its heavy, yet joyful, implications may just be the most important thing we do in life!


•Take a few minutes to read John 19, then turn back to 1 John 4:17-21. How do you think John’s experience as an eyewitness of the crucifixion affected his instruction in his epistle?
•One of John’s key instructions in the book of 1 John is that, because God loved us, we must love each other. In what ways can you better love others today because of God’s love for you?
•Perhaps you are experiencing some pain as a parent—a son or daughter who is not walking with Christ, a rift in a relationship with one of your children, a child’s extended illness, or the tragic loss of a child. Please know that you can bring that pain openly and honestly before the Father, who experienced it firsthand, and receive grace and help in your time of need.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 6th, 2011 12:12 PM   IP              
Dare to Call Him “Dad”

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” Romans 8:15

Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis has a beautiful, stately auditorium. I’ll never forget the time I preached there. I was taken with the beauty of it all—the chimes of the carillon, the poetry of the liturgy, and even the majestic robes that the pastor Dr. Sandy Willson and I were wearing. It was all very ornate and regal.

I was soaking in the experience as I climbed the steps up to the platform, when I noticed something surprising—something that seemed strangely out of place. Perched on Dr. Willson’s robed lap was his four-year-old daughter! In the midst of all this majesty, my friend had welcomed his little girl to sit on the platform with him, right there in public. Incredible!

That wonderful picture is still etched in my mind.

I think about it when I read through our passage in Romans 8: 1-15. The apostle Paul has just reminded us that we are free from condemnation—that sin and death no longer have a claim on us if we have surrendered to Jesus (Rom. 8:1-2). Our minds are no longer held captive by sin and we are free to set them on what God desires (Rom. 8:5-8). And with the Holy Spirit now living within us, we are truly alive, able to live a life that better reflects Christ (Rom. 8:9-11). Then we get to the picture Paul paints in Rom. 8:15.

We no longer have to be slaves to fear, Paul says. Look at your world. People all around us are gripped by fear—fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of the future, and the fear of death. But in Jesus it’s all gone. Paul says that the Holy Spirit, living within the followers of Jesus, sets us free from our bondage to that fear.

And if that weren’t good enough, there’s more.

Paul then makes the staggering claim that we have the “Spirit of sonship.” We’ve been adopted into the family of God! He makes the claim explicit by giving us permission to call God—the Creator of the Universe—“Abba, Father.” In the language of Paul’s day, “Abba” was really the equivalent of “Daddy.” Imagine that! God says to you and to me, “You know what? Now that you’re my son (or daughter), I want you to call me Daddy!” Or, if you want a slightly more masculine metaphor, picture a father affectionately calling his son over and saying, “Give me a high five!” It’s intimate, close access with the Father because you’re a privileged child. He loves to be close to you. His own Son, Jesus, died to give you the privilege of being able to call the most important Person in the universe “Abba, Father”!

That’s why the picture of Dr. Willson with his daughter on his lap was so moving to me. Dr. Willson’s position hadn’t changed. He had a position of authority, of respect, and of honor. Nothing about that moment changed his position. But this little girl had immediate access to her father, and she felt safe with him. She was welcomed to his lap, and he was proud to be her daddy.

God’s position doesn’t change when we obey Scripture and call him our “Dad.” He is the ultimate authority, infinitely worthy of our honor and our respect. That never changes. But it makes the privilege of intimacy with the Father all the more incredible and all the more wonderful. Don’t waste another minute sensing that you are too small and insignificant to merit a special relationship with God. Jesus died to make you God’s child. Climb up on His lap and feel safe with Him.

Dare to call Him “Dad”!


•The privilege of calling God your Father is available to those who have placed their hope and trust in Jesus and His death and resurrection. Have you made that commitment and experienced His forgiveness and cleansing?
•List some of the privileges of being a child of God.
•How does being able to call the Creator of the universe “Dad” impact your attitude in prayer and in worship?

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 7th, 2011 01:29 PM   IP              
Thank God for Mothers!

“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” 2 Timothy 1:5

It was Sunday morning and her son still had not appeared at the breakfast table. She had tried yelling up the stairs: “Wake up and get down here!” But there had been no response. Finally, she went up the stairs and opened the door to her son’s room and said, “You need to get up and get dressed. It’s time to go to church!”

“I don’t want to go to church,” her son groaned from under the covers.

“You can’t give me a good reason not to go to church, so get up!” his mom replied.

“Actually, I’ll give you three reasons. Number one: it’s boring. Number two: the people there are gossipy and critical. And number three: no one likes me. So why should I bother?”

“I’ll give you three reasons,” retorted his mom. “Number one: the Bible says you should go. Number two: you’re 45 years old. And number three: you’re the pastor! Now get out of bed and get dressed for church!”

Where would we be without the tireless urging of our mothers to do what is right? All over the United States this weekend, flowers will be delivered, homemade cards will be given, and moms will be celebrated on Mother’s Day. And it’s fitting that we should do so. I know of very few roles that demand such unconditional, self-sacrificing perseverance and commitment as that of motherhood.

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul pauses to acknowledge the impact that a mother can have, mentioning Lois, Timothy’s grandmother, and Eunice, his mother. Paul’s mention of these women is interesting because he personally could claim a great deal of influence on the spiritual journey of Timothy. Paul called him his spiritual son (2 Timothy 1:6; 1 Corinthians 4:17; Philippians 2:22) and had not only included Timothy on missionary journeys, but had entrusted numerous assignments to him, including shepherding the growing church at Ephesus. It’s clear that Paul had invested much of his life in mentoring and helping to make Timothy capable and usable.

But Paul readily and willingly acknowledged that the seeds of Timothy’s faith were planted by these two women. We know very little about Lois and Eunice, but our imaginations can picture them praying with young Timothy, teaching him the simple stories of Jesus and the life-changing truths of God’s Word, and introducing him to the early leaders of the church. All of us know that mothering is a challenging task, but the rewards to faithful moms are great. Think of how Timothy’s mother and grandmother must have felt to see him blossom as a leader in the work of Jesus!

I know for certain that my character and faith has been shaped and molded by my mom. I will be forever grateful for her influence in my life. And it’s been a privilege for me to watch the way my wife, Martie, has impacted the lives of our kids, and now our grandkids. So this weekend, I’m excited for the opportunity to celebrate the significant role of our mothers.

Because, let’s face it, where would we be without them? Let’s hear it for moms!


•For some, Mother’s Day brings pain—perhaps the pain of a fractured relationship between a mother and child, the pain of losing a loved one, or the pain of unfulfilled longings for motherhood. Psalm 34:18 offers these compassionate words: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Jesus knows and understands your pain and is ready to not only grieve with you, but to bring you His gentle peace and hope.
•If you are a mom, how does it encourage and excite you to know that you can have such a key role in the life of your kids (and grandkids)?
•Take a moment to thank the Lord for your mom, and then be sure to express your thanks to your mom in specific ways!

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 8th, 2011 12:36 PM   IP              
God's Presence At Church

"Walk worthy of the Lord." Colossians 1:10

I love reading church slogans. You know, the ones you see on the marquee in front of churches. Recently I noticed a slogan that said, “Come in and experience the presence of God.” That one caught my attention, primarily because it’s an important promise to make and sometimes a hard promise to keep. Hard, because if we’re not careful our churches might reflect the presence of its people more than the presence of our God.

So what would a church have to do to display the presence of God? Its people would have to live like Him! Dynamics like hospitality, the loving acceptance of all kinds of people, a quickness to serve, a tangible love for one another that makes people feel safe and included regardless of color or class, and a patient tolerance of one another’s weaknesses would all be a great way to start. Paul said we should walk in a manner “worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:10). And he also said that being worthy means that we will be humble, gentle, bearing with one another in love, eagerly maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:2-3).

Let’s live in such a way that others will experience the presence of the God who lives in us—wherever we are, but especially at church.

The world gets a glimpse of God
When those who claim to be
The followers of Jesus Christ
Are living righteously. —Sper

Those who walk with Christ bring the presence of God to everyone around them.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 9th, 2011 05:25 PM   IP              
Reborn Identity

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

One of my favorite movies is The Bourne Identity. The main character, Jason Bourne, suffers from a severe amnesia that leaves him haunted, frustrated, and confused.

A lot of us live like Jason Bourne. Our stories are not as dramatic but the issues are the same: Who am I, and does anyone care? We run from relationship to relationship, social event to social event, job to job, or even church to church, trying to “find ourselves.” And if we seek our sense of identity in our career, who will we be when we retire?

But there’s good news for “identity seekers.” We can have a significant and secure identity in a relationship with Jesus.

Although God made us in His image (Gen. 1:27), sin ravaged our souls and denied us the joy of a relationship with our Creator. Our identity as His prized and precious creation was damaged—until Jesus Christ came on the scene to rescue us and reclaim His created ones for His own (see Rom. 5:12-19). When we trust Christ for salvation, we gain the privileged status of being “in Him.” He takes all that is old and makes it new.

Once you realize that you are a new creation, your identity crisis will be over.

When we’re reborn—made new in Christ—
It should be plain for all to see
That God has changed us from within
And placed us in His family. —Sper

To resolve our identity crisis we must be identified with Christ.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 10th, 2011 01:29 PM   IP              
Drumroll, Please . . .

“I will bless those who bless you, . . . and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:3

There are some moments in Scripture that I would have choreographed a little differently if it had been up to me. Now, before you start writing in to tell me I’m a heretic, please know that I believe wholeheartedly in the final authority of Scripture and the sovereignty of God. I don’t want to risk a lightning bolt and am not slacking off in my theology!

But if you or I were consulted about some of these moments in Scripture, we might have orchestrated them with a little more fanfare. For instance, the moment when Adam woke up to find Eve before him had to be a “fireworks, roses, and violins” kind of moment! Or what about the birth of Christ? Though God had a purpose in it, we probably would have chosen something a little more dramatic than a dingy stable and a few shepherds.

I have the same kinds of thoughts when I read through Genesis 12:1-3. This conversation between Abraham and God occurs in the middle of nowhere. I think of Abraham as a great patriarch, but in this moment he is an uninitiated nomad with no doubt an idolatrous background. And yet, here in this conversation between God and a rather unlikely person, God makes an earth-shattering promise. God shows up and tells Abraham that he would become a great nation. Then God promises—this is the moment we would cue the drum roll and a thousand-trumpet fanfare—that through him, “All peoples on earth will be blessed.”

This is one of the first prophecies of the coming of Jesus Christ through the seed of Abraham. Take it personally—you and I, who are followers of Jesus today, are recipients of the phenomenal benefits of that promise.

Both genealogies of Jesus in the Gospels trace His lineage back to Abraham. Through the entire Old Testament, even when it seemed that the promise had been jeopardized by the unfaithfulness of Israel, God was faithfully preparing to keep His promise to Abraham. And then the moment arrived when the promise was fulfilled. On the hill of Calvary, it was a descendant of Abraham hanging on the cross, giving His life for us so that, as the promise predicted, you and I could be “blessed” in massive proportion. And it all started with a promise made to a wandering nomad over 4,000 years ago. No cheering crowds or angelic choirs—just God, His promise, and an unlikely recipient.

And here is the good news. God still shows up to speak to rather unassuming people like you and me. Every time we read His promises to us it is a profound moment. Behind every promise and plan He lays out for us in His Word, there are ramifications of strategic proportions. You may not hear a lot of fanfare, but the God who was faithful to Abraham will be faithful to His promises to you! So strike up the band—drum roll, please—God still speaks and delivers on His promises! Are you listening? Do you believe?


•Think of a specific promise that God has made to you. Perhaps it’s that His grace is sufficient for you (2 Corinthians 12:9), or that His presence is always with you 24/7 so you need not fear anything (Hebrews 13:5). Think of His promise to give you wisdom when you need it (James 1:5) and to supply your needs as you are faithful to Him (Philippians 4:19). Or perhaps it’s His promise to forgive your sins as you confess them to Him (1 John 1:9). Do you really believe that the promises are true? If He waits a while to fulfill a promise in your life, will He find you still trusting?
•What would you expect to experience if your heart was fully confident of God’s faithfulness in keeping His promise? Words like peace, perseverance, patience, and praise in advance of the provision should come to mind!
•Could you cling to His promise even if it weren’t fulfilled in your lifetime?

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
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 Posted May 11th, 2011 07:23 PM   IP              
Whose Side Are You On?

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” James 4:4

Ever been caught in the middle of a fight? When I was a kid in junior high school, two of my buddies had a disagreement and planned to prove their dominant masculinity in a fight at the park after school. “Red” was a friend from my youth group at church, and Larry was a buddy from my neighborhood. As we walked to the park after school that day, all of Red’s friends were following him, while all of Larry’s friends clustered around him. I didn’t know what to do. Both of them were my friends. So I decided to do the diplomatic thing. First, I walked for a bit with Larry, and then I slipped over to Red’s side of the street. I’ll never forget what Red said to me. “Joe, you’re either my friend or Larry’s friend. You can’t have it both ways. Make up your mind.”


I knew right away that what he said had a ring of truth to it. Not unlike Red’s remark to me, the apostle James jabs us with a stinging warning: “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

I doubt that any of us would want to be on the wrong side of that equation. Yet it’s so easy to sidle up to the ways of the world. How can we know whose side we’re really on? Thankfully, Paul gives us a clue. In Galatians 5:19-21, just before he gives the famous list of the fruits of the Spirit, he lists several examples of how friendship with the world shows up in our actions: “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.”

If you find yourself in that list, you’re making a huge statement about whose side you’re on. And here’s a scary thought—not only are you a friend of the world, but an enemy of God when your actions stand in sharp contrast to His will and His ways. Thankfully, Paul doesn’t leave us in enemy territory. He goes on to list some examples of what friendship with God looks like: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Jesus Himself made the grounds for friendship with Him clear when He said to His disciples, “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). Doing His will is what proves our friendship with Him, and it is what empowers us to bear much fruit to His glory!

So, whose side are you on? Friendship with Jesus is proven when we walk with Him in His will and His ways, which means that friendship with Jesus is a choice—a choice between Him and the ways of this fallen world.

Take it from me, James, Paul, and my friend Red, you can’t have it both ways. So be sure that you’re walking in Jesus’ crowd!


•Read carefully through the lists in Galatians 5:19-23. Which list best describes you? Would the people who know you agree with your answer?
•What do you think James meant when he used the phrase “adulterous people”? How does it affect you to think of your relationship with God and the world in terms of a love relationship?
•None of us wants to be described as an “enemy of God.” What do we need to do to prevent that from happening?
•Remember, God’s most passionate desire for your life is that you will bear fruit. Do you have that passion in common with Him?
•Think of a practical way that you can be a friend of God today. (Hint: consult the list in Galatians 5:22-23.)

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

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Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 12th, 2011 12:32 PM   IP              
Under Pressure

“You know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:3

When our kids were growing up, we loved having picnics in the backyard. No picnic was complete without a plate full of big, juicy watermelon slices! From my kids’ point of view, part of the fun was playing with the seeds. As soon as a wet seed hit the table, they couldn’t resist the urge to press it with their thumb to see how far they could make it fly across the table.

I can’t help but think we’re a lot like that when life presses down on us. When the pressure gets too intense, we start looking for ways to bail out from under the thumb of circumstances that seem too much to handle. And all too often we are tempted to bail in terms of our attitudes, feeling angry, bitter, or even mad at God—or anyone else we can blame our problems on. Or, we are tempted to bail in our actions by refusing to persevere in righteous ways.

Thankfully, James offers some great advice about why it’s so important to stay under the pressure. He reminds us that God has a purpose in mind when He allows trials to press down on us. Like turning coals into diamonds, some things only happen under a lot of pressure. Staying under the pressure is how God tests our faith in order to make us “mature and complete” (James 1:4). But, if we bail in our attitudes or actions under the burden, we interfere with the productive intentions that God has for our lives.

It’s interesting that the Greek word James uses in our text for “perseverance” (James 1:3) is hupomeno. It’s derived from two Greek words: hupo (under) and meno (remain). James is making the point that in order to achieve God’s refining goals for our lives, we need to be willing to cooperatively remain under the pressure.

It boils down to whether or not you want comfort or character. You may think that life should be a bed of roses, but if that’s your take on life, you’re in for a big surprise—trouble happens! The issue is not if you will face trials, it’s how you will respond to the inevitable pressure that the problems of life bring.

It may be that you face pressure at work. In the face of a seemingly insurmountable project, it’s easy to think, “If I just fudge a little bit I could get this job done faster.” Or, when the problems at home won’t go away, we find ourselves wondering, “Maybe I’ll just leave so I won’t have to deal with this anymore.” The sin of pride causes us to respond to problems with thoughts like, “I don’t deserve this.” And soon our attitudes are in the dumper and God’s work is derailed.

In fact, the next time you’re tempted to bail on God and squeeze out from under the trouble, think of Jesus, who “humbled himself and became obedient to death” (Philippians 2:8). He “remained under” great suffering for the purpose of making you better.

So embrace the process and permit God to do His work of making you more mature and usable, for your good and His glory. Believe me—the pain will be worth the gain!


•Do you try to bail out from under pressure? Why it is hard to remain under it?
•What are some reasons why you might try to bail on God’s maturing process in your life?
•What are some steps you can take to be more committed to the process of growth?
•Take some time to pray and thank God for His desire to produce maturity in your life, and then surrender to the process.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

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Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 13th, 2011 01:26 PM   IP              
Disappointing Sideshows

"For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world." 1 John 2:16

When I was a boy, one of the biggest annual events in town was the circus. My dad would take us early in the morning to watch the circus trains unload the tigers, lions, elephants, monkeys, and all the other animals and paraphernalia that made the circus so intriguing.

Once the circus was set up, great attractions were lined along the midway. The midway was the walkway leading to the big tent. Vendors hawked their wares, happy music played, the smell of hot dogs and cotton candy mingled in the air, and multicolored balloons bounced in the wind. With bursts of laughter and excited screams, customers twisted and turned on amusement rides. The midway was almost more than a boy could take.

The most intriguing sights of all for me were the sideshows. Large posters advertised all kinds of physical deformity and daring feats of bravery—a man with three eyes, a bearded woman, sword-swallowers, and fire-eaters. I would pull on my dad’s hand and beg him to take me to see them, only to hear him say, “Joe, it’s a waste of money. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.”

This is the warning we see in 1 John 2:16. The world is a lot like the midway. Much of it is exciting. But as our Father walks us through experiences, He warns us of what will disappoint us, waste our resources, and distort and destroy us. It’s the sideshows that seduce us and endanger our experience here. Our world constantly puts us in tension with all that it offers.

This tension forces us to make up our minds about whom or what we will believe and follow. Will it be our Father or the sideshow?

When I grew up and went to the circus on my own, I couldn’t wait to put up my own money to see the sideshows—only to find out that my father had been right. My money was wasted.

It’s like that in life, but the stakes are far greater.


•What sideshows threaten to seduce and distract me?
•What will I do to turn from them?
•How can I learn to follow Jesus more faithfully?
•Where is my heart for God? for the world? How can I show my love for God today?

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 14th, 2011 12:56 PM   IP              
Final Exam

“God tested Abraham.” Genesis 22:1

In universities everywhere, mid-May brings late-night study sessions, caffeine-fueled writing binges, and ulcer-inducing stress as students are preparing for final exams—those critically important tests to determine how well the student has learned the lessons of the semester.

Let’s look at a familiar incident in the life of Abraham through that lens.

Genesis 22 begins by saying, “God tested Abraham.” In other words, it’s like Abraham’s big exam. And what is the test? God is about to test Abraham’s allegiance to the one true God in a most stressful way.

So let’s review: God called out Abraham to the city of Ur. Ur was an advanced culture and a highly sophisticated town, but it was rampant with idolatry. When God passed out this test to Abraham, Abraham was wandering through Canaan—yet another pagan, idolatrous region. And keep in mind that in pagan idolatry, the highest demonstration of loyalty to one’s god was to offer—you guessed it—your children as a sacrifice.

With that in mind, look back at Genesis 22:1. The text actually says that it is the God who tests Abraham. This is in contrast to those lifeless forms of wood and stone that were the idols of the pagan Canaanites. And it’s the one true God who comes to Abraham and gives him the following test.

Would the loyalty and allegiance of Abraham to the genuine Creator God match the misplaced loyalty and devotion of the surrounding nations to their false idols? The test is simple yet very demanding: “Abraham,” God says, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love . . . and sacrifice him.”

That’s the test, plain and simple. It’s a pass/fail exam with no room for grading on the curve. If Abraham obeys, demonstrating his allegiance, loyalty, and trust in the promises of God, he passes the test. If he refuses, he retains control over his son’s destiny, but fails to demonstrate his commitment to following God no matter what the cost.

Well, we know the rest of the story. In fact, it’s amplified and explained beautifully in the book of Hebrews where the writer explains that Abraham by faith obeyed, reckoning that even if Isaac died, God could raise him from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19).

So what does Abraham’s test have to do with us? While God won’t ask you to literally sacrifice a child on an altar, He does often require the things in your life that are precious to you. Think about it. Isaac was God’s gift to Abraham. All of God’s promises were wrapped up in that miracle child. How easy it would have been for Abraham to love Isaac more than he loved God. Or to put it another way, to love the gift more than the Giver! The test may be the same for you. God always wants to know that nothing in your life is more important or more valuable than your relationship to Him. It may even be a sinful pattern that for some reason provides temporary kicks, comfort, or security. Do you love Him more than the sin in your life?

If by faith you can believe with Abraham that when God takes something from you, God will give something back in even better terms, then you will pass the test and give Him all He demands and all He desires. Whether it’s your money, your possessions, your career, your dreams, or even your children to His service—everything we give to Him is an opportunity to pass the test and in worship prove to Him that nothing in our lives is of greater value than His friendship and fellowship.

As you face the tests of this week, know that your Tester loves you deeply and is ready to help you pass, like Abraham, with flying colors!


•What tests are you currently facing? What can you learn from the example of Abraham to help you pass the test with flying colors?
•James 1:2-4 also addresses the issue of tests. Based on this passage, what is God testing and why?
•If you’re one of those people who has always dreaded taking exams, ask the Lord to change your perspective about His tests. Think through the reasons that He wants to test you, and trust Him to supply the courage and faith you need to pass the exam in a way that glorifies Him.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

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Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 15th, 2011 11:05 AM   IP              
Full Pockets

"God . . . has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." Ephesians 1:3

Every man needs pockets large enough to carry all the important things in life: wallet, keys, breath mints. By looking at my wife’s purse, it seems she has a whole universe of resources, but at least men have the essentials! With just a quick reach into a pocket, I have access to cash, credit cards, and the exclusive privileges that a set of keys offers.

And children know that if they ask Mom or Dad to search their pocket or purse for a piece of gum, a mint, a comb, a tissue, or a dollar—whatever it is they think will meet their need at the moment—they will receive it!

It’s not unlike our privilege as God’s children. At salvation, we are placed “in Christ” and granted full access to all the valuable resources God offers us. Resources such as His wisdom: “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105). Forgiveness and grace: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). New perspectives that bring hope and confidence even in the toughest of times (Eph. 1:18), material provision (Matt. 6:30-31), and peace (Eph. 2:14) are also ours in Him.

God lavishes His resources on us “according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). Dig in!

I know not by what methods rare
The Lord provides for me;
I only know that all my needs
He meets so graciously. —Adams

Children of the King have no reason to live like paupers.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

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 Posted May 16th, 2011 01:31 PM   IP              
Hearing The Sermon Again

From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" Matthew 4:17

A story is told about a man who preached an impressive sermon, seeking to be the pastor of a new church. Everybody loved it and voted for him to become their new pastor. They were a bit surprised, however, when he preached the same sermon his first Sunday there—and even more surprised when he preached it again the next week. After he preached the same sermon the third week in a row, the leaders met with him to find out what was going on. The pastor assured them, “I know what I’m doing. When you start living out this sermon, I’ll go on to my next one.”

Jesus’ sermons had a notably recurring theme. Not surprisingly, the King of kings wanted to be sure that the people understood what was required of them to be part of His kingdom. He came to announce a whole new world order that was totally out of step with life as it was usually lived. Themes such as forgiveness, servanthood, and unconditional mercy and grace were repeatedly on His lips.

Two thousand years later we find ourselves in need of the same message. As soon as we start repenting and living under the authority, reign, and rule of Jesus our King, we will experience benefit to our lives, glory to His name, and blessing to others.

The Bible gives us all we need
To live our lives for God each day,
But it won’t help if we don’t read
And practice what its pages say. —Sper

A sermon isn’t complete until it’s put into practice.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

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 Posted May 17th, 2011 12:43 PM   IP              
A Known Commodity

“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12

My new ministry was at a large, sophisticated church just outside of Detroit. I confess—at only 36 years old, I felt more than a little intimidated in this congregation populated with high-powered automobile industry executives. With my securities running full bore, like a fool rushing in where angels fear to tread, I dove in. And of course, everyone was outwardly very kind: “Oh, we are so glad you’re here. Let’s go forward for the Lord!” But inwardly, I’m sure their thoughts were more like: “Who are you? What will you do to us? Can we really trust you?”

The tipping point for me came about two years into the ministry as I was driving home from a board meeting. I sensed that something had been different in that meeting. The elders were listening to me. What I was saying seemed to be carrying some weight, and we were interacting on a deeper level. I had crossed the bridge of their initial uncertainties and had gained their trust. I was no longer a question mark in their hearts but a known commodity.

Paul talks about the importance of relationships being built on trust in his second letter to Timothy. His circumstances were anything but great. He was imprisoned for his proclamation of Jesus and was concerned that Timothy be able to effectively and accurately guard the precious message of the gospel. And yet in the storm of his circumstances, he found an anchor—his unwavering trust in Jesus; a trust that Paul had experienced personally in His walk with the Lord.

I love the fact that Paul expresses his confidence in Jesus in relational terms: “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard that which I have entrusted to him for that day.” Paul is all about doctrine, but at the very core of his belief structure is his unshakable trust in the person of Jesus. He tells the Philippians that everything else is “a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Philippians 3:8).” There is nothing dry or dusty about Paul’s theology. It’s all about what he knows and has experienced of Christ! And, in all that he has experienced—shipwreck, torture, imprisonment, ridicule—he is able to trust because he knows Jesus is true.

Having a proven sense of confidence in Jesus will change the way that you and I view life. The more you get to know Him, the more your trust will increase. The more you consider His character and the more you trace the pattern of His work across the pages of your life, the more you’ll know and be convinced that He is worthy of your trust. We may not know where our circumstances are going to take us, and we may not know what the future holds, but if we know Him, that’s enough.

Because He is, in the strongest, most wonderful terms possible, a known commodity!


•How is Paul’s passion for knowing Jesus expressed in Philippians 3:7-11?
•How does that passion fuel his confidence when he writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:8-14?
•What tangible steps can you take to get to know Jesus better today?

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

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 Posted May 18th, 2011 12:21 PM   IP              
An Eclipse of Heaven

“The city [heaven] does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” Revelation 21:23

Solar eclipses are an amazing phenomenon. As the moon slides between the earth and the sun, the sun’s brilliance gradually fades. Its light grows dim, as if there’s a layer of dust on everything you see. The effect is most dramatic on a bright cloudless day. While the eclipse is in full force, it’s easy to forget that the sun is still there in all its force and glory.

As amazing as a solar eclipse may be, more amazing is the fact that as followers of Jesus we often live with heaven eclipsed in our hearts. I don’t know what you think of when you think of heaven, but count on it, heaven is a glorious destination and, as Paul described, because of Christ’s presence there, it is far better than anything we could experience here (Philippians 1:23).

But heaven’s glory and the excitement of getting there often fades in the light of our dim view of heaven and the lure of lesser stuff here on earth.

If the word heaven evokes images of an eternity lounging on clouds, plucking out melodies on a harp, adjusting our halos, and singing in a choir, then no wonder that the brilliance of heaven may be going through an eclipse in your heart. It’s hard to muster a lot of enthusiasm if we think that heaven will be boring! But believe me, the God who died for you is not planning an eternity of boring assignments for you!

If your thoughts about what heaven may be like aren’t distorted, then you’re not necessarily off the hook. Heaven is often eclipsed in our hearts by the lure and glitter of earth-side stuff. It’s easy to think we can create heaven on earth by stacking up all that we think will make us happy and comfortable. Only to find that the initial thrill of it all quickly wears off as we disappointingly discover that there is no such thing as heaven on earth.

So let’s dismiss our twisted thoughts about heaven and forget trying to make heaven here on earth. Getting heaven in clear view starts by focusing on what we do know to be true about heaven. Your first thoughts no doubt are about streets of gold and gates of pearl. As spectacular as that might be, they are not the draw of heaven. We get used to stuff like that. The real excitement of heaven will be our eternal delight in living in the unveiled presence of Jesus, our Savior and friend! No matter how nice the place, it’s the people in the place who make the place—and in this place it is the presence of God in the new heaven and the new earth that will fill our hearts with delight and unfading joy. It’s the way it was meant to be before sin raped the landscape of our existence. It’s Eden all over again!

In this city there will be no power outages! Our text today tells us, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Rev. 21:23). And this Lamb, who conquered death, guarantees that there will be no more sorrow, death, or dying. In fact, He Himself will wipe away all our tears (Rev. 21:4)!

De-eclipse heaven in your heart and live with something to look forward to!


•Are you curious about what heaven will really be like? Read the following passages to get a sneak preview.Revelation 4:1-11; 21:10-27; 22:1-5.
•Compare your thoughts of heaven with the truth of God’s Word. Create two columns on a piece of paper. In one column, brainstorm a list of prevalent thoughts about heaven. In the other column, write the truth about what the Bible says about that topic.
•Pray and ask the Lord to keep the light of heaven alive in your heart. Thank Him for the promise of heaven for all those who believe.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

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 Posted May 19th, 2011 12:20 PM   IP              
Join the Revolution

“I am the way…” John 14:6

In one of my all-time favorite Peanuts cartoons, Charlie Brown is standing on the deck of a cruise ship with a rather disheartened look on his face clutching his unfolded deck chair. Lucy, who always seems to have it all together, has already unfolded her deck chair and is waxing eloquently about life. She says to Charlie that some people set the deck chairs of life to look at all that has gone by, others set their deck chairs to look at all that is in the here and now, and that still others position their chairs to look at all that is ahead. To which Charlie responds, “I can’t even get my deck chair unfolded.”

My guess is that we’ve all had days when we feel more like Charlie Brown than Lucy. Down deep inside—sometimes way down deep inside—there is this nagging feeling that we don’t quite have life figured out. That when we are really honest with ourselves, life isn’t all we thought it would be. Shouldn’t there be something more than the endless to-do lists? And, why does the pressure to perform and prosper make us feel like the proverbial donkey chasing the carrot dangling forever in front of us? And why is it that when we take life by the throat and pull off a smashing success, it quickly morphs into a mere memory as life trudges on?

Want something more—something different? Then pack up your bags and enlist yourself as a Person of the Way. Join the revolution! The revolution headed by the world’s greatest revolutionary, Jesus. I’m not sure what you think about when the thought of Jesus crosses your mind, but my guess is that the word revolutionary rarely surfaces. Yet that is exactly who He is! Missing the point that Jesus came to spark a revolution in this upside-down world—a revolution to take upside-down people and turn them right side up—is to miss the very heart of why He came and to miss the point of life as it is intended to be.

Jesus’ arrival on our planet was an invasion from another world to overthrow the ruthless regime of King Beelzebub and to set earthbound captives free. But the revolution doesn’t stop there. It’s about freeing us sin slaves from the grip of hell in every aspect of our lives. It’s about setting up a whole new way of thinking and living, about giving freed captives a life of purpose and significance. And I don’t mean that it is a revolution whose end game is to get you to go to church more, to keep more rules, or to get busy doing more jobs for God. We already have too many who are on that bandwagon yet have no clue about the revolution. This revolution is about changing the way we think, act, and react and then raising the torch and taking the way into every aspect of our lives—into every encounter, every relationship, every responsibility, and every commodity we own.

If you see yourself as a follower of Jesus, but you still think about your money like everyone else; react to your offenders like everyone else; think about your career like everyone else; live with “you” at the center of your universe like everyone else; think about sex like everyone else; find life to be an endless string of random unfulfilling events like everyone else, then one thing is clear: You have missed the revolution.


•In what ways can you say that Jesus has revolutionized your life? Be specific!
•Do you still think about your money, career, sex, and relationships like everyone else? What would the revolution look like in these areas if you were a “Person of the Way”?
•Plan to do one revolutionary thing today for Jesus.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

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 Posted May 20th, 2011 03:26 PM   IP              
Stuck with a Thorn?

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” 2 Corinthians 12:9

A small, older, hunched-over lady greeted us with a glowing smile at the doorway of our little son Matthew’s Sunday school room. She was one of the most effective Sunday school teachers at our church, and Matt loved her. I’ll never forget the time she told me, “Pastor, God made me small and bent over so that I can be right down here where the children are! If I weren’t like this, I couldn’t relate to them so well.” I was blown away by her perspective on her plight in life—her “thorn in the flesh.”

A thorn in the flesh is any affliction in our lives that, if we aren’t careful, can defeat us with a good dose of self-pity and embitter us toward God. But the important thing to know about our thorns is that Satan desires to use them to defeat us, while God is determined to use them for our good and His glory.

The apostle Paul is probably the most famous example of someone who was stuck with a thorn in the flesh. Paul knew right where the thorn had come from. He referred to it as a messenger of Satan. And though Paul never tells us what his thorn was, I think it’s clear that it was a serious problem to Paul. He said: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me” (2 Corinthians 12:8). God didn’t answer his prayer with a miraculous healing, but rather assured Paul that, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

It’s important to know that when God permits a thorn to remain, He gives us grace to accept it and sometimes even the grace to understand the purpose for which the thorn is intended. Paul came to realize that God permitted his affliction “to keep me from becoming conceited” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Paul was a gifted person and could have easily become proud in his abilities and accomplishments. That proud spirit would have been a disaster to his usefulness for God. So God took what Satan had intended to defeat Paul and turned it into a smashing victory by enabling him to stay appropriately humble and therefore useful.

Getting a grip on why God permits our afflictions, weaknesses, or disabilities to remain has a powerful effect on our attitudes. Instead of shaking his fist at God and grumbling about his thorn, Paul realized that God’s power was being made perfect in his weakness. That insight produced an upbeat spirit of delight and satisfaction. As Paul said, “for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

We normally don’t think of being strong in weakness, but that’s just how God works. He knows that if we think we are strong in and of ourselves, then we will become proud and self-sufficient. And when we feel that way, we are in reality very weak and unable to accomplish much of anything except for thinking how cool and capable we are. God has a better plan. When He needs to accomplish really great things through us, He sometimes needs to get our twisted view of ourselves out of the way. So He takes Satan’s intrusions into our lives and beats Satan at his own game! You may see it as a thorn, but God sees it as a triumph!

You don’t have to be Paul to start seeing what God is doing through your thorn. Rejoice that He cares enough to keep you from getting in the way of the great things that He wants to do through your life!


•Read Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:3-9. What do these passages have in common?
•What thorn is sticking in your side right now? How could God use it to glorify Himself?
•Have you given in to your thorn to the point where it has made you bitter and defeated? How can you reclaim that ground for Christ’s glory?
•Thorns are a mark of suffering. It is no coincidence that Jesus wore a crown of thorns before He was crucified. What does Christ’s suffering mean to you?

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 21st, 2011 01:12 PM   IP              
See Ya in Heaven

"You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." Luke 12:40

Periodically, current world events stir up discussion about the endtimes. While I believe in the importance of being ready for Christ’s return, I don’t put much stock in date setters who think they have the timing all figured out. After all, it has been almost 20 years since the book, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988 was published! In America, the book took Christians by storm, and, as the president of Moody Bible Institute at that time, I received dozens of copies from well-meaning saints who wanted us to spread the word through Moody Radio that Jesus was coming back on September 18. Since Jesus said that no one knew the time of His return, I dismissed the book as another Bible crackpot publication.

But to this day I’ll never forget getting up on the morning of September 18th. As skeptical as I was, I couldn’t help but wonder, What if the guy who wrote this book is right? What if this is my last day on earth? Our family talked about it at the breakfast table. And as my daughter walked down the driveway on her way to school, she turned around and said with a smile, “Hey, Dad—see ya in heaven.”

I couldn’t help but think how right that sounded. I found myself thinking that I should live every day as though this were my last day here—the day that He returns to take me home; the day that I will at last see Him face-to-face! I thought about how differently I would treat people, how interested I would be to share the gospel with friends and colleagues, how I would want to clear up past offenses and live to be really pure and ready. As Jesus said in Luke 12, “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home . . . . Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes” (Luke 12:35-37).

So here are four habits of hearts that are fixed on heaven:

•Be confidently riveted on His sudden return. Remember, He will come “like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2).
•Be pure. Throughout the New Testament, the strongest motivation for purity was always connected to the return of Jesus (1 John 3:3).
•Refuse to get stuck here. After all, as people of faith, we are “strangers and exiles” here (Hebrews 11:13).
•Invest in eternity. Commit your time and resources to kingdom gain and values (Luke 12:33).
God wants heaven to be the fire in your heart. As a friend of mine says, our lives here should be a sneak preview of the really big show to come!

See ya in heaven!


•Think about the things you did yesterday. What would you have done differently if it had been your last day? How will that make a difference in the way you live today? Be specific. Think of people you should call, or people you should hug.
•Are you passionate about heaven? If not, make a list of some things that might be hindering your passion.
•Which of the four habits is the easiest for you? Which one is the hardest?
•Have you ever thought of yourself as an “exile” on this planet? How does that identity help bring eternal things into focus?

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 22nd, 2011 11:35 AM   IP              
Speak Up!

"If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy." 2 Kings 5:3

If you’re like most people, you think that when God does something important, He uses important people to get it done—people like John Stott, Billy Graham, or Joni Eareckson Tada. The rest of us just fill space until Jesus comes. But that’s not true.

Most often in Scripture, we see that God uses ordinary folk to get things done. Just take a look at the unlikely prophets of the Old Testament and the disciples of the New Testament.

The girl in 2 Kings 5 was just an ordinary servant. Yet she bravely suggested that Naaman go to the prophet of Israel for healing. What sounds like a simple request was actually a bold suggestion. For Naaman to go to Israel, it would mean turning his back on the local pagan gods, inviting criticism from his countrymen for putting the military might of his nation at risk.

This nameless servant could have paid a steep price for making a suggestion like that, but she knew where the true source of healing was. Because of her deep concern for Naaman’s well-being, she courageously put herself at risk to direct him to that source—the one and only living God.

Like this young servant girl, let’s be willing to be used by God to guide family and friends to the true source of hope and healing.

God can take a lowly vessel,
Shape it with His mighty hand,
Fill it with a matchless treasure,
Make it serve a purpose grand. —Bosch

God is looking for ordinary people to do extraordinary work.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 24th, 2011 01:02 PM   IP              
Put A Lid On It

“In your anger do not sin.” Ephesians 4:26

Now that the weather is getting warmer, it will be my job to barbecue the hamburgers, or steaks if I’m fortunate! Over the years I have learned, through trial and error, how to regulate the heat on the grill so that the meat is properly cooked. If I waited until the coals were too hot, they would reach a point where I couldn’t keep the fire under control—and sure enough, everything would be charred to a crisp. My solution to this problem was to buy a grill with a lid on it. Closing the lid while the food was cooking reduced the oxygen flow and transformed the flames into a constructive, controlled heat. The outcome was tender, flavorful char-grilled food for everyone to enjoy!

Like barbecuing, we have the ability, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to put a lid on our anger so that it can become a productive force in our lives. Anger does not have to rage untended in our souls until it scorches everything and everybody nearby.

I find it important to note in our text that anger in itself is not a sin. The Bible says, “In your anger do not sin.” Anger alerts us that something has gone wrong. It’s a sign that we have suffered an injustice, or that someone has been treated unfairly. You can’t keep anger from happening but you can make sure that it doesn’t do collateral damage. If we are not careful, anger easily ignites other destructive sins.

So how do we keep the energy of our anger from bringing sin into our lives? One of the keys is to be slow to anger. The Bible tells us that God Himself experiences anger, but it also says He is slow to anger. Psalm 103:8 says, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”

As we follow God’s example, being slow to anger will give us time to prayerfully evaluate the emotion. We might ask the Lord to show us if our emotion is really justified, or if we have done anything to contribute to the situation that has caused the anger in the first place. Slowing down gives us time to ask ourselves: “Do I have all the facts?” and “In the long run is this situation even worth my anger?” And time enough to ask, “What could I do to be a part of the solution by showing God’s patience, love, and compassion?”

It’s all about counting to 10—in a spiritual sort of way!

The combination of prayer and a bit of contemplation will empower us to redirect our anger to positive outcomes. It’s all about keeping the lid on the flames before you ruin someone’s dinner!


•Use the counting to 10 routine to take 10 seconds to pray!
•The next time you’re able to resist a sinful response to anger, spend time journaling about the experience. How did you feel as a result of choosing righteousness? What impact did your choice have on those around you?
•Unresolved anger is the root of many sins such as hatred, slander, and revenge. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you areas of residual anger; then take the necessary steps to free yourself from that pitfall.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 25th, 2011 02:01 PM   IP              
Leaving Sin City

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’—and you forgave the guilt of my sin” Psalm 32:5

A seriously disturbing commercial made its way to TV sets across America recently. The ad begins with a chauffeur opening the door of a stretch limousine for a woman who is dressed for a night on the town. As the limousine cruises to the airport, the driver looks back and tries to make conversation with the woman, who appears to be attempting to seduce him. As they continue along, the divider window in the car goes up and the camera cuts away to a shot of the car pulling up to the curb, where the driver gets out and opens the back door for his passenger. She climbs out of the car, hair neatly pinned up, dressed in a business suit, chatting away on her cell phone. While on the phone she leans in for one last flirtation with the puzzled driver, and then continues off to catch her flight. The commercial fades to the tag line: “What happens here stays here. Las Vegas.”

The message is obvious. Las Vegas is a place where you can pursue your lust and greed with abandon, somehow disconnecting it from the rest of your life and hiding it from friends and family. Check your morals at the door and revel in unbridled freedom. No guilt, no fear, no consequences. It is, they claim, an adult playground, existing solely for your indulgence and amusement, where your secrets are kept.

Before you start taking the bait “hook, line, and sinker” you need to know that what you do in Las Vegas—or anywhere else for that matter—doesn’t stay there. What you do is a part of you, and you’ll take it all home with you!

The words of King David provide ample warning for us. I would suspect that, with much of his kingdom away in battle, David assumed that “What happens in the palace stays in the palace.” However, his secret fling with Bathsheba was exposed all too quickly with the expanding signs of her pregnancy. His attempts to cover his tracks led him to one desperate scheme after another. Yet in the end, with the blood of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, on his hands, he found himself face to face with the prophet Nathan and the consequences of his sin exposed to all. His reign and service to the Lord would forever be marked by that tragic moment in his life.

More tellingly, Psalm 32:1-11 records that, even before the sin was publicly exposed, the pangs of David’s conscience kept him in anguish. “When I kept silent,” he writes, “my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4). He didn’t leave his sin with Bathsheba behind in the bed of adultery; he was crushed by the guilt and shame that he carried with him.

When we choose to sin, we do not leave the sin behind without a trace. If you belong to God, the indwelling Holy Spirit will sound the alarm. And though no one knows, we will be haunted by the fear of discovery and the loss of self worth. As Scripture says, “You may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23)!

So join King David. Know the joy of being done with the cover-ups and finished with the secrets. Genuine confession before our loving and forgiving God will trigger His grace and forgiveness and will enable you to leave Sin City far, far behind!


•Did the Holy Spirit spotlight any area of your life that needs to be brought into the light? Go before the Lord in genuine, heartfelt confession, acknowledging your need of His forgiveness.
•What other lies does Satan try to feed us to convince us that sinning is worth the toll that it takes on our lives?
•How can time in God’s Word and in prayer help us to more quickly recognize areas of sin and struggle in our lives?

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 26th, 2011 12:09 PM   IP              
The Great Race

“Run in such a way as to get the prize” 1 Corinthians 9:24

The month of June brings many sure signs of summer: the sweet smell of cut grass, soft breezes, picnics, fireflies, thunderstorms—and runners. This unique breed of humanity, forced to run circles in cramped indoor quarters during the North American winter, emerges with the first hint of spring and spends the summer dashing through neighborhoods and parks.

I have nothing against runners. Some of my best friends are addicted runners. Though I have never seen a runner smiling, apparently there is something fulfilling about it. I even tried it once, waiting for that surge of ecstasy that my friends told me I would experience, only to find that the ecstasy came when I stopped running!

So, whatever you think about running, it’s important to note that the Bible often speaks of living the Christian life as if it we were running a race. Following Jesus is clearly more than a leisurely stroll in the park! And the issue is not whether you will run the race. When you became His follower, you were put in the race. The question is not will you run, but how will you run?

So, here are three keys to running well.

First, stay in shape! I like Paul’s perspective in 1 Corinthians 9:24: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” In other words, you need to be in it to win, and, like any race, winning requires discipline. As spiritual runners, we must discipline ourselves in the exercise and dietary habits of prayer and reading God’s Word. Drinking at the fountain of prayer and digesting the food of God’s Word gives us strength and motivation to run and win.

Secondly, obey the rules! Like all races, running to win means staying in the boundaries. Paul committed himself to living his life by God’s rules. He did not want to be “disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:27). As good runners, we embrace the rules and gladly submit to them.

Thirdly, run light! As Hebrews 12:1 instructs us, we are to lay aside every hindering weight and the sin that so easily besets us. What is it that distracts you and what is the sin that slows you down? Take them off and run light!

And finally, a couple more tips. Hebrews 12:1 also tells us to be willing to persevere. Our race is more than a few laps around the track—it’s a long-distance marathon. And let’s face it, this marathon can be stressful. Sometimes it’s the wind of life blowing against us—or mud kicked in our face from the runner in front of us. But whatever the case, runners that win never give up!

And keep your eyes on the finish line. Jesus is there! When you run for the honor and glory of His name, He reaches out with the victor’s crown and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

In my book, that’s worth running for!


•Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Would you say that you are running “aimlessly,” or are you competing for the “crown that will last forever”?
•Read Hebrews 12:1-3. What things hinder and entangle you, and how do you intend to throw them off? What does Paul say to do so that you will not “grow weary and lose heart”?
•In Paul’s parting words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, he says that he is not the only one who will be awarded by the Lord. How does that encourage you to keep running for the prize?

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 27th, 2011 02:00 PM   IP              
Finger Pointer's Anonymous

Stop passing judgment on one another.” Romans 14:13

A glass of wine or not a glass of wine? To dance or not to dance? To work on Sunday or not to work on Sunday? To play cards or not to play cards? Or, in some places, to play dominoes or not to play dominoes?!

Let’s face it, we tend to feel strongly about our personal preferences regarding what Christians should and should not do. And, when others violate our spiritual preferences, the finger-pointing begins!

This is nothing new for Christians. Paul had to address the subject of preferences with the early believers in Rome who were troubled by a few issues. Believers who had been saved out of Judaism wondered what to do about the holy days prescribed in the Old Testament and the keeping of certain strict Sabbath rules. With their newfound freedom in Jesus, they didn’t know what to do with the ceremonial laws concerning “unclean” meat, not to mention the meat offered to idols in the pagan temples of their day.

In the face of conflicting preferences, note that Paul doesn’t take sides. Rather, he says, “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). Paul continued, “He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God” (Romans 14:6). Simply put, each of us should be convinced that what we are doing can be done to please the Lord.

Before you start thinking that this doesn’t apply to us because we don’t deal with these particular issues today, think again. The issues are different, but the lesson is the same: Each of us is individually accountable to God for our actions. Which, by the way, means that no one is accountable to—you guessed it—you for what they do or don’t do.

When we think that our point of view on personal preferences is the only point of view, we start finger-pointing and end up violating God’s call for us to reject a judgmental spirit. Often without even realizing it, we hold our preferences as standards of biblical spirituality. If thoughts like, He can’t be too serious about God—just look at his car! or, I can’t believe she watches that TV program! have ever crossed your mind, you know what I’m talking about!

So what’s the solution?

Take Paul’s exhortation to heart and “stop passing judgment on one another” (Romans 14:13). Some matters of personal preference are just that—personal, which means that it’s between that person and God. Paul called them “disputable matters” (Romans 14:1)—referring to issues that are not clearly outlined in Scripture as right or wrong. Rather than using our preferences as a spiritual whipping post, we must give room for others to express a different opinion and to love them as Jesus does. And, Paul tells us, “make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way” (Romans 14:13). When we know that something we feel is okay might endanger another’s walk with Jesus, then it’s up to us to love them enough to yield our preferences for the sake of their well-being.

And that’s the bottom line: love. It’s the glue that keeps us together when we face “disputable matters.” Next time you feel your grip tighten around a matter of personal preference, think about Romans 14:13. Stop passing judgment and make up your mind about what really matters—and hopefully love will win out every time!


•What are some personal preferences you feel strongly about? In what ways might you be inclined to judge others who don’t match up to your view?
•Sometimes it’s easy to get confused between non-negotiable biblical principles and our own personal convictions. Ask the Lord to help you carefully evaluate your personal preferences in light of Scripture.
•According to Paul’s practical instructions in Romans 14:13, what are two steps you can take to avoid conflicts concerning personal preferences?

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

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Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 28th, 2011 12:21 PM   IP              
Support the Troops!

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against . . . the powers of this dark world.” Ephesians 6:12

As the war in Iraq drags on, we are all a little war weary from the complex battle that continues to wage over there. The tired troops want to come home, but with courage and dedication to the cause, they remain on the frontlines. Those of us watching from a distance do what we can to support them, driving around with our “Support the Troops” stickers on our cars and praying fervently for their safety and success.

While no one can accurately predict the resolution, the war carries a poignant lesson for all those who care about the cause of Jesus Christ. As God’s people, we are engaged in a war of far greater proportions—warfare against the hierarchies and unseen powers of the satanic hosts (Ephesians 6:10-12). This battle concerns the liberation of the eternally lost, the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, and the glory of His name.

What strikes me is the surprising lack of support for the frontline men and women who are in the trenches waging this war against the gates of hell. Some of our spiritual troops are dug in on battlefields far away. From massive urban centers like Hong Kong and Rio de Janeiro to the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea, among executives and shopkeepers and natives, these soldiers are penetrating enemy territory with the life-changing claims of Christ.

I am frequently brought face-to-face with the everyday struggles of missionaries who serve as soldiers in the work of the kingdom. Some spend an inordinate amount of time getting to the frontlines because the funds they need are not available. Others often feel forgotten and neglected during their stint on the field. When they finally come home, they feel that somehow they don’t fit.

I also have the privilege of talking heart-to-heart with pastors who labor in their homelands. While some feel loved and supported, others speak of the difficulty they face in trying to focus their church’s attention on the advancement of the gospel. Often a pastor is the target of bickering and petty agendas that turn the congregation inward and end up dividing and sapping its strength.

Laymen fight it out in the trenches of the marketplace, where they see their careers as an opportunity to show Jesus to their world by working with integrity and ethical purity, and some of them do this against great odds. Yet many find little enthusiasm or support for what they are doing in the tough arena of secular society.

So, as Americans commemorate Memorial Day, I think it’s fitting to stop and consider how we are doing in terms of spiritual warfare. Let’s take seriously Paul’s advice to “put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Eph. 6:11). If each of us were to make a personal commitment to put away what is petty and temporary and instead concentrate on what will advance the cause of Christ, think of the ground we could claim for His kingdom! If we pledge to pray consistently and specifically for those involved on the frontlines, we will provide a vital aspect of support. And if we put our money where we say our hearts are, we will keep the battle lines supplied.

The big difference, of course, between earth-side battles and spiritual battles, is that we already know the outcome. Jesus already claimed eternal victory, and in the meantime He gives us the power for victory in the skirmishes we face along the way. So enlist yourself today, and don’t forget to support the troops!


•Are you on the frontlines waging war with the forces of darkness? If so, make a list of the personal battles you are facing, and commit those areas to prayer with your armor on!
•What are some of the battles the church at large is facing today? How can you help support the cause in a way that brings glory to the name of our Leader?
•Think of some specific ways you can encourage others who are slugging it out on the frontlines. Write a note, send a gift, or make a phone call—be creative!

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 29th, 2011 12:45 PM   IP              
What’s For Dinner?

It came to pass . . . that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Genesis 22:1"

I can hardly imagine inviting special friends over for dinner and then throwing a few leftovers into the microwave to serve up to them. But if I were to do that, it would speak volumes about how I really feel about them.

Giving God the leftovers of our lives speaks volumes about His true worth to us. When God asked Abraham to give Isaac back to Him as an act of worship, Genesis 22:1 calls it a test. A test to see if there was anything in his life that he treasured more than God.

It’s no different for us. There are times when God requires something really important to get His work done. He’ll ask us to give up our natural instincts to seek revenge so that we can communicate His forgiving love by forgiving our enemies. He may call us to sacrifice portions of our time or money or comforts to advance His cause. Or He may require us to allow our sons and daughters to go to a far-off land to tell others about His saving love. The way we respond to what He requires says volumes about how we really feel about Him.

Anyone can offer the leftovers. Only those who love God more than anything else will serve up the very best for Him.

“Take up thy cross and follow Me,”
I hear the blessed Savior call;
How can I make a lesser sacrifice
When Jesus gave His all? —Ackley

No sacrifice we make is too great for the One who sacrificed His all.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted May 30th, 2011 11:00 AM   IP              
no satisfaction

In May of 1965, The Rolling Stones recorded the song I Can’t Get No Satisfaction. Shortly after its release, the tune rose to the No. 1 song in the United States. How right they were. No matter how much we try and try and try, satisfaction seems to slip through our fingers.

But is it true that satisfaction is impossible to find in this life? Or could it be that we tend to look for it in all the wrong places? Maybe the true source of satisfaction is right under our noses, but we don’t see it because we’re trying so hard to obtain it on our own.

Consider these words from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah as he declared the words of the coming Messiah: “Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to Me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food” (Isaiah 55:1-2). Souls delighting in the “finest of food.”? Hmm—sounds pretty fulfilling to me.

Jesus would later illustrate this reality another way when He spoke these words to a woman who had a history of turning to men to find satisfaction: “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life” (John 4:13-14).

Jesus didn’t say we can’t find satisfaction in our relationships, work, or hobbies. But He did say that without finding it first in Him, it won’t be complete.

So, where are you trying to find your satisfaction?

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

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