Monthly Archives: April 2013

Today’s Scripture – April 30, 2013

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NIV):  May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

 

Many Christians today have a philosophy that says that the body is evil and unredeemable, unable to be made holy.  They believe that their souls may be sanctified, but they will be trapped in the “prison” of the “flesh” until the day of their death – then they will be released and be the pure spirits that they truly are inside.  But that philosophy is rooted in Gnosticism and in Greek philosophy, not in God’s word.  It was Paul’s understanding, and he was correct, that even a person’s body was to be sanctified completely, and kept blameless from now until Jesus returns.  He assured the Christians that God is faithful, and will accomplish it.  In Romans 12:1-2 Paul wrote that God’s people were to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and pleasing to God, as their reasonable service to Him.  The crux of the matter is that God calls His people, ALL of His people, to be holy and blameless, not just in their spirits, but in their physical bodies as well; not just at special times, but all day every day, in every thought, word, and deed.  And God, who created the physical body of man from the dust of the earth and breathed the breath of life into it to make Adam a living soul, is absolutely able to sanctify a person, both inside and out; to not only make them 100% holy in mind and spirit, but in body as well.

 

Father, I praise You and thank You that everything You require of us You can and will do in us.  Thank You for real deliverance from sin in every dimension of our lives.  Help us to seek You always for real sanctification, and then help us to live it out every day of our lives, all the way to Jesus’ return.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – April 29, 2013

1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NIV):  Test everything. Hold on to the good.

 

Just as Jesus foretold that there would come many false messiahs (and there have been), so there is much false information available today about Jesus and about God, and about what He is working toward in the world today.  With the massive increase in and spread of information has come a proportionate lowering of discernment, even among God’s people.  The multiplication of self-published books and blogs have removed many of the previous obstacles to falsehood being published as truth (even though these obstacles have never been a perfect filter, and always required discernment and testing for truth).  These days people can publish whatever they want with no accountability at all, and even some publishers are willing to publish half-truths, misinterpretations, and outright lies, as long as there is a profit to be made.  If writers throw in a few scriptures, works of falsehood and “religious fiction” can even deceive Christians, unless they make the time and effort to seek out where the truth really lies, and to allow God to distill discernment into their hearts and minds.  Some of the lies being published these days fall into a category that could be called “hopeful falsehoods” that are very attractive, even to Christians, but are totally false.  For example, books and blogs that state that everyone will ultimately be saved, and that God won’t send anyone to hell, a statement that is totally contradicted by God’s clear word in the Bible, are being avidly consumed, even by Christians, who are altering their world-views and mindsets toward the gospel in response.

But in every area, God has urged His people to exercise solid, biblical discernment; to test EVERYTHING against the only standard of truth that He has provided:  His word as contained in the Bible.  Feelings are a totally inadequate meter of truth.  Opinions, no matter how strongly held, are worthless in discerning what is true.  Even what some call an “inner sense,” or an “inner validation,” or a “leading of the Spirit,” are useless since they tend to depend on a “sense” or “feeling,” and can be easily influenced by events, emotions, prejudices, and even the enemy.  No, the only sure guide is the Bible, read plainly and accurately, and in its full context.  No other resource is an adequate test of the truth.  To the Scriptures!

 

Father, thank You for this reminder.  Thank You for Your word, graciously given, freely available (at least in North America), and absolutely true in every specific.  Help us to always keep Your word (in its full context) before us every day, and in our hearts constantly, so that we can test everything, and only hold on to what passes the Scriptural test of being right and good.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – April 25, 2013

atthew 22:34-40 (NIV):  Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.  One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 

The greatest commandment has never changed from the time of Adam until today.  Even though it was never stated explicitly to Adam, it underlaid the commandment to not eat the fruit from the forbidden tree.  If Adam had loved God with all of his being, he would never have disobeyed.  That is, and always has been, the key to true holiness and righteousness.  Fear of God alone will merely drive sin underground, trying to hide the evil in the dark.  But true love makes righteousness shine in the broad daylight, like a bouquet presented to thrill the heart of the beloved.

But this love for God must be all-consuming to be effective.  It must encompass the entire heart (the will), the soul (the prime motive in life), and the mind (the thought processes).  If any of these are less than total, the enemy is given a foothold into which he can set a hook and drag a person away into compromise, half-hearted obedience, and, ultimately, sin.

Once again, this greatest command is central to everything else, to being able to obey every other commandment.  If true love for God is not present in every area of a person’s life and heart, they will not be able to love their neighbor as themselves, either.  They will end up sinning against them if there seems to be something to gain, or neglecting them if the “return” for caring does not seem adequate.

 

Father, I do love You.  Help my love for You to always be complete, whole, entire, and utterly pure, with no alloy or contamination at all.  Help me to keep You and my love for You at the center of my every thought, word, and deed, today and every day.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – April 25, 2013

atthew 22:34-40 (NIV):  Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.  One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 

The greatest commandment has never changed from the time of Adam until today.  Even though it was never stated explicitly to Adam, it underlaid the commandment to not eat the fruit from the forbidden tree.  If Adam had loved God with all of his being, he would never have disobeyed.  That is, and always has been, the key to true holiness and righteousness.  Fear of God alone will merely drive sin underground, trying to hide the evil in the dark.  But true love makes righteousness shine in the broad daylight, like a bouquet presented to thrill the heart of the beloved.

But this love for God must be all-consuming to be effective.  It must encompass the entire heart (the will), the soul (the prime motive in life), and the mind (the thought processes).  If any of these are less than total, the enemy is given a foothold into which he can set a hook and drag a person away into compromise, half-hearted obedience, and, ultimately, sin.

Once again, this greatest command is central to everything else, to being able to obey every other commandment.  If true love for God is not present in every area of a person’s life and heart, they will not be able to love their neighbor as themselves, either.  They will end up sinning against them if there seems to be something to gain, or neglecting them if the “return” for caring does not seem adequate.

 

Father, I do love You.  Help my love for You to always be complete, whole, entire, and utterly pure, with no alloy or contamination at all.  Help me to keep You and my love for You at the center of my every thought, word, and deed, today and every day.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – April 24, 2013

Matthew 14:22-23 (NIV):  Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.  After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone…

 

After Jesus fed the 5,000, the whole crowd was excited, figuring that He really was the Messiah, and wanting to declare Him the king of Israel on the spot.  But Jesus knew their hearts, and what they planned to do.  The easiest thing in the world to do at that point would have been to let the crowd have their way, get swept into Jerusalem on a wave of public approval, and figure that since it was all positive, that this was God’s way of moving the ball forward toward the ultimate goal.  But Jesus knew better.

This was yet one more temptation that Jesus had to withstand in order to actually move forward – very similar, in fact, to satan’s offer of all the world’s kingdoms in exchange for a little worship.  It was very tempting, because these people were coming very near to worshiping Him, which actually was in the end-game plan all along.  But Jesus knew that their commitment to Him was not based on Who He truly was, or on what He had actually come to do, but only on what He had just done for them – providing healing and food.  Their shallow adulation could easily be turned to rejection as soon as the “goodies” stopped flowing.

Even though Jesus knew all of this, this was still a powerful temptation to Him, and so He handled the temptation properly – He retreated from it by separating Himself from the crowd and going up on the mountain, and He sought the counsel and direction of His Father.  That night, His vision was clarified and renewed, so that He was able to powerfully confront the issue head-on with the people (cf. John 6:25-71), even though it meant that many of those who had wanted Him to be their king turned away and chose not to follow Him any longer.

This temptation is not peculiar to Jesus.  Many of God’s people have allowed themselves to get turned away from their calling and God’s agenda by public acclaim.  They have assumed that, because people were flocking to them, and praising them, that they were “obviously” within God’s will.  In a sense, they are using human though processes, human wisdom, to discern what is God’s will, much as Joshua did with the Gibeonites (cf. Joshua 9:1-27, especially vv14-15).

When things seem to be going well, extra caution is necessary to keep from being lulled into self-sufficiency and, ultimately, sin.  Seek God’s face ALWAYS, most especially when it seems like things are going well enough to not need to.  If Jesus needed to see God’s will in the midst of seeming “success” in order to avoid being led astray, His people need to do it even more!

 

Father, I can see how this can easily be a very subtle trap, and how many of Your people have fallen into it over the years, and have been ultimately led right off the path!  Help me, Lord, to never grow self-assured or self-confident, but always, whether in times of trouble and frustration, or in times of success, to seek Your face, so that I can always stay right in the center of Your plan.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – April 22, 2013

1 John 4:16b-17 (NIV):  God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.

 

Love is God’s predominant characteristic, and defines all of His other traits.  But this love is not love as the world knows it.  The love that is God is not an emotion, although there is an emotional element to it.  It is not about desire, although there is a wanting of relationship with those He loves.  Instead, God’s love is focused on those He loves, desiring the absolute best for them, both now and for all eternity; and desiring that best so deeply, so strongly, that He will give whatever of Himself, even His very life, to get that best for them.  When God loves someone, it’s not about Him, how he feels, or how He will benefit from the relationship.  It is always about the other.

God’s people are to show forth that same other-centered, self-sacrificing love to the rest of the world.  It is to characterize our lives, just as it does God’s.  It is to motivate our every action, just as it does His.  It is to be the defining characteristic of our being, just as it is with Him, to the point where people who know us will say without hesitation, “John is love,” or “Amelia is love.”  God’s people are to be like Him principally in this way.  If this foundational resemblance of love has been worked into our lives and hearts by His Spirit, then all the rest, true holiness, power, grace, strength, wisdom, peace, joy, mercy, and all the rest will follow naturally.

 

Father, thank You for Your love that led You to give Jesus to die for our sins, for MY sins.  Thank You for the love that moved You to seek and to save me when I was so lost.  Thank You for Your love that gave me hope and a forever future with You at such great cost to You.  Now, Lord, please work all of that love back through me, so that it penetrates and permeates every fiber of my being.  Make Your love become the controlling, defining characteristic of my life, so that I am just like You in this world.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – April 20, 2013

Psalm 18:28-29 (NIV):  You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.  With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.

 

Far too many of God’s people have low expectations of what He can do in and through them.  They work and strive in their own strength, and they don’t rely on Him.  They plan and scheme using their own cleverness, and don’t ask what God’s plan is, or how they might fit into it.  They work and slave, and ask the Lord to bless their efforts, but make no effort to see where He is working and what He is trying to accomplish.  And then, when their efforts fail, or produce less than they hoped, they figure that God is impotent, disinterested, or at least not as powerful as He is depicted in the Bible.

But they don’t see God’s mighty right arm at work, not because He is weak, but because they are trying to impose their wills, their own plans and dreams, on Him, instead of surrendering everything to align themselves with His agenda.  When David kept himself aligned with God, he was protected and empowered.  He killed lions, bears, and even a giant, and had victory over all of his enemies.  None of that was his own idea, but was the result of listening to God’s voice, aligning himself with God’s plan, and intentionally doing His will.  That is the only way for God’s people to experience His power, and His victory.  We must become like David, and like Jesus Himself, who never made a move on His own, but ONLY did what His Father told Him to do.  (John 5:19)  If we, as God’s people, will repent of our self-will, turn away from our insistence on having our own plans succeed, and seek to do precisely what God tells us to do, then we will see His hand at work through us, and we can change the world!

 

Father, forgive us for trying to impose our plans on You, and trying to get You to bless our own strategies and empower our own efforts.  Lord, I want to be used in YOUR plans, to be instantly responsive to YOUR will, so that I can be victorious in YOUR strength.  I want to be used by You to change the world.  May YOUR will be done in me.  Amen.

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