Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Instrument for God

Don't hide your light under a bushel!  Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.  (Matthew 5:15-16 NLT).

   Shortly after I received Christ as Savior, my wife and I went with Bob and Frances Lytle to lead worship at the Jesus Saves Rescue mission in San Francisco.  Elaine played her accordion, and I gave my testimony.  After several months, I was asked to bring the message.  My first reactions were, "What could I say that would touch the hearts of the down and outers' that ventured into the mission?"  How simple do I need to make the gospel message?  Will they understand the words I use?  Will they be sober enough to grasp the truth?  All these questions flooded my mind as I hesitantly rose to speak.  My voice quavered and my knees shook, but God enabled me to present the simple gospel truth. When the invitation was given a middle aged lady came forward weeping profusely.  She knelt at the altar.  I knelt beside her to counsel and pray with her.  The alochol smell on her breath was enough to knock a horse out, but we wept together, and she prayed for God's forgiveness.  In spite of all my doubts and fears God used his word to pierce her heart.

   When Jesus sent out his twelve disciples, he warned them to be as shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.  They were to expect opposition, ridicule, and lack of interest, but they had the assurance of two truths: (1) the Holy Spirit would speak through them, and (2) God's word would not return to him void.

   As you go forth, remember, God goes before you paving the way.  He gives you the message.  He provides the supplies and abilities you'll need, and he will bring about the results.  Go in faith believing that God can do the impossible, and he will bless you.

Thought for the Day: God is the potter, and we are his instruments of clay.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An Innocent Bystander

They pressed (forced) into service a passer-by coming from the country.  Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross.  (Mark 15:21 NASV)

   Simon had done no wrong.  No charges were leveled against him.  No criminal record.  No history of violence.  No strike breaker.  Nothing to cause the soldiers to pick him out of the crowd.  He wasn't a native of Jerusalem.  Cyrene was his home.  He apparently came in from the country to do business or shop.  He had no clue as to what the commotion was all about.  He was just an innocent bystander.  Was it just a coincidence that the soldiers chose him out of the crowd axnd forced him to carry the cross?  Was he simply at the wrong place at the wrong time?  No, thousand times, No!  God never causes accidents -- only incidents.  Everything God engineers has an eternal purpose.  After all, He is Sovereign.

   What affect do you think this incident had on Simon the Cyrenian?  Was he appalled at the appearance of Jesus' condition?  His face marred, his back lacerated, his beard plucked out, his head bloody from the crown of thorns, his body emaciated.  What affect would that have had on you, if you were in his shoes?

   Jesus never cried out.  Not a word was uttered.  No moaning or groaning.  No pleas for help.  OH, but his eyes.  There were the eyes of a Savior King.  Eyes of compassion, love, sadness, and concern.  Simon saw it all.  He was a part of the crucifixion.  He saw them nail Jesus to the cross.  Yes, he saw it all.

   How did he respond?  How would you have responded?  Would you weep, wail, cry out in agony, or would you jeer and mock like the rest of the crowd?  We aren't told how Simon responded, but I believe that he fell down at the foot of the cross in humble worship of the King.  What do you think?

Thought for the Day: God is still choosing innocent bystanders to accomplish his will. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Alternate Routes

Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, "the people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt."  (Exodus 13:17)

   While on a trip, have you ever decided to take a shortcut, only to find yourself lost?  I was travelling on old highway 66 through Oklahoma City and made a wrong turn ending up in Wickenburg, Arizona.  It took me a full day's driving to get back north to our original Hwy. 66 route.

   The children of Israel took an alternatre route only to come face to face with the Red Sea in front and the Egyiptian army behind.  Alternate routes may look attractive but can often have unexpected consequences. 

   Satan tried the alternate route tactic with Jesus in the wilderness, but the Lord simply replied, "It is written."  This reveals to me that nothing short of doing God's will guarantees that I will arrive safely at my destination. 

   Many times in the past, I tried to convince God that my way was best, only to fail.  God has the road map of your life and mine all planned out, and it is our responsiblity to seek his help in finding it.  The writer of Hebrews said, "And make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed."  (Hebrews 12:13 NASV). 

   God wants us to stay on the main line and not turn off onto alterante routes.  You will find no short cuts to a mature spiritual life.  Alternate routes will not get you there.  God has a prsescribed plan to achieve a mature life.  This plan is revealed in the Word of God. Only as we read and study God's word regularly can we hope to stay on the right path.  Maturity takes time.  As the old saying goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day."

Thought for the Day: Staying on the main line will get you to your destination quicker.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Allegiance Tested

Later on God tested Abraham's faith and obedience.  (Genesis 22:1 NLT).

    When was the last time God tested your faith and obedience?  Perhaps you are presently going through a testing period.  If you've never experienced a test of your faith, it would be wise to examine where you stand with the Lord.

    Can you envision Abaham singing, "Take my life, and let it be" -- only to have God change the words to, "I want your only son, take the joy of your life and give him to me."  Wow!  Wouldn't you be tempted to say, "God do you know what you are asking?"  Do you really expect me to give up my son, Isaac, as a sacrifice?

    The  command of God shocks us with its blunt and sobering truth:  God wants total allegiance.  Nothing less than a total commitment will suffice.  God wants to be the treasure of our hearts.  He wants us to sing without question, "All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give."

    As you read the rest of Genesis 22, you'll find that Abraham obeyed without question and proved to God that his love for God was greater than his love for his son. 

     Where have you placed your allegiance?  Does God have every room in your heart, or are you withholding some for yourself?  Once you come to realize that only God can satisfy the hungry heart, then you can sing without hesitation: "Take my heart, it is Thine own, it shall be they royal throne."

Thought for the Day: God has allows no rivals -- he wants all of you.



Thursday, March 24, 2011

Agape Love

No one has ever seen God.  But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.  (1 John4:12).

     How would you describe the love of God?  The two basic needs of man are: the need to love and to be loved.  Everyone needs to love someone and to have someone love them.  We have within us the natural ability to love others with a human kind of love.

     Three Greek words are used to describe this natural love.  Storge is used to indicate a feeling of affectionate love for one another.  This kind of love wants to be reciprocated.  Eros is a Greek word for our natural, sexual love based upon physical attraction.  The third Greek word is Phileo and stands for our friendship love.  It involves companionship, sharing of common interests, being compatible, being able to think alike or see eye to eye.  Many marriages are built on this kind of love.  These three kinds of natural love as not comparable to what the Bible calls Agape love.

     Natural love says, "I'll love you as long as you love me, but if you stop loving me, then I'll stop loving you."  Natural love is a conditional kind of love.  God's Agape love is just the opposite.  His love is unconditional.  God's love doesn't require a response or make demands.  You cannot stop the love of God from coming, and as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:8, "His love never fails."

     Do you have Agape love residing within your heart?  The answer to that querstion is "absolutely" if you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior.  The moment you believed in Jesus as Savior, God implanted his agape love within your heart.  The verse at the top of this devotional is proof that God's love resides within us.  You have the capacity to love as God loves.  For this love to flow outward we must allow the indwelling Spirit to be in control.  Have you submitted to Him?

Thought for the Day: Agape love is the very essence and nature of God.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Accountability Partner

Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as his own life. (1 Samuel 20:17)

     Every believer needs someone who can be his/her mentor.  A friend who will act as an accountability paqrtner.  Someone who's not afraid to call the shots when we step out of line.  Someone who will pray with and for us.  I have such a friend.  I call him Big Al.  He's my accountability partner, a brother in Christ, and one who loves the Lord.

     The young man, David, had such a friend.  He and Jonathan, Saul's son, made a covenant with each other before God.  They sealed the bond with an oath.  At last Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the Lord's name.  The Lord is witness of a bond between us and our children forever." (1 Samuel 20:42 NLT).  Jonathan agreed to test his father to see how he felt about David.  The two of them devised a plan whereby Jonathan could let David know if his father meant to kill him, and David could flee the area.

     My accountability partner has helped me on numerous occasions from making mistakes of judgment, saying the wrong things, or taking wrong turns.  At times I have gone to Big Al and cautioned him to think through something before speaking.  Our willingness to counsel and mentor each other has deepened our relationship with the Lord.  Sometimes you just need someone to listen and pray with you.  That's what an accountability partner does.

     Do you have an accountability partner?  Do you have someone who loves you and cares about your spiritual walk enough to act as a counselor and mentor?  Find someone with whom you can share your deepest needs, concerns, fears, doubts, and hopes.  Pray together on a regular basis.  If you can't get together in person, call and pray over the phone.  Agree to keep all information confidential.  This trust is a vital part of your relationship.  Gossip is a sin, so avoid it at all costs.

Thought for the Day: Accountability is required of all believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Acceptable Offerings

The Lord accepted Abel and his offering, but he did not accept Cain and his offering.  This made Cain very angry and dejected. (Genesis 4:4-5 NLT).

    Why did God accept Abel's offering and reject the offering presented by Cain?  Is God being unfair?  Is He showing favoritism?  What can we learn from the experience of Cain and Abel?
     Recently I heard of a deceased person who offered one quarter of her estate to the church.  The executor of the estate informed the church of the offering and presented the board with a list of stipulations as to how the monies should be dispersed.  It was obvious that certain requirements had to be met by the church body in order for the monies to be allocated.
    Could this have been the problem involving Cain and his offering?  It seems obvious that Cain wanted to worship God in his own way  without taking into consideration what God wanted from him. He did not ask God, "What kind ofoffering do you want me to bring?"  He proceeded to approach God with preconceived ideas of worship that revealed the arrogance and pride in his heart.  His offering reflected an attitude of self-centeredness and disregarded God's mercy and goodness.
     Like Cain, many people today bring offerings to God that are unacceptable.  Any offering that boasts of pride is unacceptable.  Offerings that are less than our best are repugnant to God.  We often sing, "Give our best to the master," but our hearts respond by giving only a token offering of the leftovers of our lives.  What kind of offering does God really want from us?
    The offering God wants most is our heart, dedicated and fully open to Him.  He wants you and me to release our talents, gifts, and abilities to him.  Why don't you ask him what kind of sacrifice he wants from you?  The answer might surprise you.  Make list of the kinds of offerings God wants you to bring.

Thought for the Day: God's offering of his Son, Jesus Christ, was a total offering of Himself.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Absolutely Amazing -- And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and answers.  (Luke 2:47).
  Peter, James, and John were burly fishermen.  Their arms bulged with strength from years of pulling on the oars of the boat and nets.  They had no Bible college education; they were just unlearned men of the sea.  Yet God chose them to be his future messengers.
   When arrested and questioned by the Saddeucees these unlearned fishermen amazed them with their knowledge of the Scriptures.  The only conclusion that the religious leaders could reach was that they had been with Jesus. 
   The teachers in the temple at Jerusalem reached a similar conclusion while discussing the things of God with a twelve year old boy called Jesus.  As Luke 2:47 says, they were amazed at his understanding and answers. 
   How do we attain the level of knowledge that Peter and John possessed?  We are told by Peter himself in his epistle, "Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.  (1 Peter 2:2). 
   The only way to grow in the knowledge of Christ is by spending time with him in the Word of God.  Daily Bible study is vital to spiritual growth.  Why not make a commitment today to spend time daily in the word of God?