Thursday, April 28, 2011

Identity Crisis

   There is a serious problem amongst the Christian community in American and elsewhere.  It is called an "identity crisis."

   We are not talking here about the stealing of your personal information through credit card theft, although that too is a serious problem.  We are referring to the tricks and devices that Satan uses to capture the minds of believers and leave them confused and defeated. 

   How does this crisis take place, and what are some of Satan's schemes?  If you know his plan, then you can build the necessary defenses to thwart his efforts.  Have no fear Christian believers, you are secure in Christ. (Romans 8:38-39)  Satan's plan is to keep you in spiritual bondage so that you have no effectiveness in your witness for Christ.

   Satan messed with Eve's mind in the garden of Eden, and he seeks to do the same with you and me.  He loves to work through the subconscious where we tend to push problems that we fail to process properly.  He loves self-sufficiency and independency.  God never intended for us to be totally independent from Him.  Jesus said in John 15, "apart from me you can do nothing."  Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." 

    What is our defense against Satan's attacks?  Paul gives us the solution in Ephesians 6:11-18.  We must daily pray on the offensive and defensive armour of God tools available to us.  Have you put on yours today?

Thought for the Day: The victory in the Christian life is through the person and work of Jesus Christ. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


A broken and contrite heart, O God, yiou kwill not despise.  Psalm 51:17b

    As I pause, here in Yaounde, Cameroon, to write this devotional, the word "brokenness" comes to mind.

The world places little or no value on broken things.  They are cast aside by society as useless and worthless, including people.  The undesirable unborn are aborted.  People of old age are hidden away in poorly run nursing homes and forgotten.  The old adage: "out of sight is out of mind" is applied to all kinds of unfavorable situations. 

   On the other hand, brokenness is revered by God.  He takes special notice of people who are broken.  Jesus healed many people who were broken physically and spiritually. 

What is meant by "brokenness?"
Tony Evans in his book Free at Last says, "brokeness is the work of God by which he strips us of our pride and self-succifiency so that the beauty of the life of Christ will shine through."  (p. 170)

   Manasseh, the king over Jerusalem, was a rotten, brutal person and provoked God to anger.  God sent the Assyrian army again him and he was captured.  They put hooks in his nose and bronze shackles on his feet and hauled him away to Babylon.  They threw him into the Newgate prison of Babylon where he suffered intense agony for twelve long years.  While in distress he called out for favor to the Lord his God, humbled himself and prayed a prayer of repentance.  His humility came as a by-product of "brokenness."  After twelve years, he was a broken man. 

   Through God's grace he was forgiven and had his kingdom restored.  The first and only time that has ever happened in the history of Israel.  The last twenty-three years of his life were spent in worshipping God.

     Does God see brokenness in your life? 



Saturday, April 23, 2011

Blood Stained Cross

For the life of the body is in its blood.  I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord.  (Leviticus 17:11 NLT)

   Have you ever considered the gruesomeness of some of the old time hymns?  Lines like:
      There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emanuel's veins.
      What can wash away my sins?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
      Alas!  And did my Savior bleede.
      Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb.

   Do those lines seem bloody and gruesome?  Why did so many hymn writers emphasize the blood of Christ in worship?  Isn't the Psalmist's hymn book full of lament and sorrow over sin, as well as uplifting praises of thanksgiving and gratitude? 

   The Old Testament worshipers couldn't approach God apart from sacrifices and shedding of blood.  Death, the shedding of innocent blood, is the only means of atonement for sin.  Jesus paid the ultimate price by shedding his precious blood while giving his life on Calvary. 

   Present day post-modern religious expression of worship seeks to eliminate the blood entirely.  These so-called Evangelical members of Christianity emphasize to the extreme the goodness and love aspects of God's character, while completely ignoring the many Scripurres related to his wrath and punishment for sin.  These feel good, prosperity, seeker friendly churches will all have to stand before God someday and answer for their false teaching that has drawn many people away from the blood-stained cross. 

   What are you relying upon for your slavation?  Will good works apart from the shed blood of Jesus get you there?  God said, "Without the shedding of blood, there is remission for sin." 

Thought for the day:  God is still singing, "Nothing but the blood of Jesus."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blessings from the Book

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it, for the time is near.  (Revelation 1:3 NASV)

   Are you tired of seeing other Christians being blessed while you seem to come up empty?  I know that empty feeling because it happened to me.  A friend of mine came up to me one day overflowing with joy and the blessing of the Lord.  To tell you the truth, I felt like choking him.  Why did I react that way?  Because I was empty and joyless.  Nothing exciting was happening in my life.  No joy.  No spark.  No enthusiasm.  No time spent in God's word either.

   It was then that I came in contact with a friend who invited me to read the Word of God with him.  We started reading in the book of Revelation.  When we came to verse three I was shocked.  The Holy Spirit through the Apostle John said, "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear this prophecy."  I asked my friend, "Do you mean I am guaranteed a blessing from God just for reading this book of Revelation." 

   "That's the promise,"  he said.  Since then, whenever I want a special blessing I read the book. 

   Have you found the secret of the blessed life?  I believe David found that secret through his daily meditations with God.  Almost every Psalm of Davie extols God.  Over and over David said, "Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my innermost  being, praise his Holy name.  Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.  (Psalm 103:1-2 NIV).

   You too can experience the blessings of the Lord.  As I said before, all you have to do is READ THE BOOK!

Thought for the Day: God's blessings are new and fresh every day. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Benefits of Wisdom

Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.  Cry out for insight and understanding.  Search for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure.  (Proverbs 2:2-4)

   The writer of Proverbs saw wsidom as a treasure worth seeking.  Every day we face decisions, choices, and judgments that require wisdom.  How many times have you wondered, What should I do, where should I go, how should I proceed?  The way to go looks gray and overcast, and we would prefer it be black and white.

   Solomon says, "The Lord grants wisdom!  From his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.  He grants a treasure of good sense to the godly.  He is their shield, protecting those who walk with integrity."  (Proverbs 2:6-7)

   How do we receive this promise so aptly stated?  James, in his epistle, gives the answer -- we must ask for it.  "If you need wisdom -- if you want to know what God wants you to do -- ask him, and he will gladly tell you.  He will not resent your asking.  But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind."  (James 1:5-6).

   Do you need wisdom?  Are you facing a crossroads and don't know which way to turn?  Pour out to God your lack of understanding, your confusion, your fears and doubts.  Admit to him that you don't know what to do or which way to turn.  Then, in faith, believing, ask him for wisdom to make the proper faith choices.  Claim his promise that "God grants wisdom!"

   Write down five needs that require God's wisdom.  Take them one by one to him and ask for wisdom.  Then thank God for listening to you, and wait expectantly for the answer.

Thought for the Day: God gives wisdom to those who ask him by faith.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Benefits of Waiting

Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD. (Ps. 27:14)

   Why is it so hard to wait?  We live in a fast paced world. Everyone wants instant gratification.  Young and old alike want it -- right now.  When we don't get our way, we fuss, fume, and stomp our feet.  I remember when my kids were small, temper tantrums would be used as a way to get what they wanted.  It almost never worked, but that didn't stop them from trying. 

   The other day I stood and watched a busy intersection.  A car approached as the light turned yellow.  Did he slow down and wait?  No, he stomped on the gas pedal and roared through even as the light turned red.  No regard for others.  No concern that someone might be crossing the street.  No fear of an oncoming auto.  Hurry!  Hurry! Hurry!  The world is racing to its own destruction. 

   God isn't in a hurry!  He doesn't count time like we do.  With God "a single day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a single day." (2 Peter 3:8)  He could have created the world in a moment of time; instead he tood six days.  God knows that good things take time.

   I am well aware that growth and maturity in the Christian life take a lifetime of effort.  Nothing comes easily, and nothing comes quickly.  The Holy Spirit needs time to adjust our attitudes, correct our missteps, and deepen our faith.  I don't find waiting to be easy, the benefits come through waiting. 

   Waiting develops patience, and I sure do need patience.  Waiting gives me time to reflect upon God's goodness.  Waiting helps me learn the ways of God.  Waiting strengthens my resolve and gets me through trying circumstances.  The next time you face a difficult situation, slow down and wait on the Lord.  God wants to give you his best.  

   Are you willing to wait on the Lord?  He promises to renew your strength.  Turn over all control to him and see how much fuller your life will be.

Thought for the Day: Waiting develops patience and perseverance.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Being Like Jesus

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.  (John 1:14)

   What does it mean "to be like Jesus"???

   The Holy Spirit has saved us a lot of time researching and listing all the character traits of Jesus by summing up what it means "to be like Jesus" in the verse quoted above.

   If people will look at Jesus, they'll see what God is like.  The same holds true for you and me.  When people look at us, they should be able to see what Jesus is like.  People will form their opinions about Christ by what they see in you and me.  If you exhibit both grace and truth, you will be like Jesus. 

   Although you can find lots of examples of grace in the Old Testament, it is overshadowed by the truth.  The Pharisees never taught about grace, only truth.  We need to see that grace and truth do not contradict one another; rather they are intertwined.  You cannot do justice to one without the other. 

   Where do you find yourself with regard to grace and truth?  Do you have them both in balance, or do you emphasize one to the detriment of the other?  If you know a truth about someone that is negative in nature and withold spreading that truth around, you are showing grace.  Negative truth pulls people down; whereas grace builds people up.  List some ways you can show grace to someone while upholding the truth. 

   Jesus always exercised grace and truth in perfxect balance.  Can we do any less?

Thought for the Day: Being like Jesus requires grace and truth in perfect balance.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Beautiful Feet

How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.  (Romans 10:15)

   I never thought of feet as beautiful until reading the verse printed above.  In fact, I know a man who, through no fault of his own, has ugly looking feet.  Jim has rheumatoid arthritis and his toes are twisted on top of each other in a grotesque manner.  When I first saw Jim's feet, I wondered how he could possibly walk or wear shoes. 

   In Jesus' day sandals were the normal footwear.  Thye roads were dusty and rough.  During the rainy season a person's feet would become caked with mud.  Not a very pretty sight.  Many nationals in third world countries today don't have sandals making their feet scared and often twisted.  In Biblical times, the normal task of the servant was to wash the feet of all guests entering the house.

   I know missionaries, servants of God, who travel long distances over rugged terrain to carry the good news of the gospel.  Their feet are dirty and mud stained; yet God calls them beautiful.  In the highlands of Papua New Guinea national tribes live on the tugged mountain ridges, and the only means of transporation are by foot or in a small airplane.

   At one recent dedication of a New Testament that had been translated into the heart language of the people, large boxes of the New Testazment had to be carried on poles over very narrow trails to reach the village.  The nationals were barefoot, and their feet showed the wear and tear of the muddy trail.  Would you consider their feet ugly and unsuitable for such a divine task?  Certainly not in God's sight; he considered them to be beautiful!  Why?  Because they were the bearers of His "good news."

   Are you using your feet to carry the good news of God's love to people groups in your locality?  Whether you wear sandals, shoes, or no shoes, God says your feet are beautiful. 

Thought for the Day: All feet that carry the good news are beautiful in God's sight.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Be Prepared

So stay awak and be prepared, because you do not know the day or hour of my return.  (Matthew 25:12 NLT).

   The first thing I learned after joning the Boy Scouts was their motto -- "Be Prepared."  The motto has a twofold meaning: (1) be prepared in mind by disciplining yourself to be obedient to every order and (2) be prepared in body by making yourself strong and active.  This same philosophy was drilled into me while serving in the military.  I have vivid memories of the physical and mental training supervised by overbearing drill sergeants.

   I am reminded of David's flight through the wilderness as King Saul sought his life.  He had to be physically strong and mentally alert for the slightest danger.  He had at his right hand 600 strong, courageous, loyal men who were willing to lay down their lives for their future king.

   Believers are instructed to be prepared for the soon return of the Prince of Peace.  This requires vigilance, alterness, and steadfastness in maintaining a living relationship with the Savior.

   Preparing ourselves to be physically strong and mentally alert is profitable, but as Paul says to young Timothy, "Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come."  (1 Timothy 4:8 NLT).

   Are you are preparing for the soon return of our Lord?  Would Jesus receive a warm welcome if he were to knock on your door today?  Paul says, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, ....we will be changed.  Let's "Be Prepared."

Thought for the Day: God is preparing hearts for the coming Prince of Peace.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Be Imitators

You also became imitators of us and of the LORD, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit.  (1 Thessalonians 1:6 NASV).

   My handicapped grandson looked up at me and patted the floor.  I knew what that meant.  Come down and play with me. As we sat on the floor together, I noticed Jonathan copying each move I made with the cars and trucks.  I lined them up in a row; he did the same.  I said to him, "Jonathan you are a copycat."

   At that moment I realized what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, "You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia."  (1 Thess. 1:6-7 NASV). 

   Since those around me are watching, I need to duplicate the words and actions of Jesus for them to imitate. There is no better way to demonstrate the message Jesus brought than through my everyday actions.  I need to be a living example of the love of God. 

   Jesus showed compassion.  He provided help to the needy.  He prayed over the sick.  He modeled the kind of Christian life that I should follow.  What kind of example do I portray to the grocery clerk, the gas station attendant, the postman, the delivery boy, or the average person on the street? 

   Jonathan's actions in imitating all the different ways I moved the cars and trucks reveal to me that countless people within the sphere of my existence may be copying my moves as well.  Are you living the type of life that God wants other people to imitate?  If you are, then praise God for a life well lived.  If not, then why not ask God to help you become an imitator of Christ.  Make a list of ways you can imitate Christ today!

   Thought for the Day: God is looking for imitators of His Son.



Sunday, April 3, 2011

B-1 for Someone

This is a trustworthy statement, and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds.  These things are good and profitable for men.  (Titus 3:8).

   My wife and I have been married for fifty-nine years.  Twenty-five of those years we spend "B-1 for Someone" to our five children.  Once the empty-nest syndrome hit our house, we felt rather lost until God directed our lives to B - 1 for Someone else's children.  We joined the Kid-Zone children's department at Wycliffe Associates to help take care of missionary children in various foreign fields.  We took a VBS program and all the necessary supplies to one of the SIL branch conferences and provided a child care program so the parents could participate fully in the conference activities. 

   There are many ways to B- 1 for Someone.  You can bring a little joy into someone's life just by doing the little things like -- walkin g the dog, helping clean up a neighborhood, doing errands for the physically handicapped, reading to the blind, writing notes for the crippled, and any number of other deeds.  I had a friend who went through radiation and chemo treatments for cancer.  The radiation almost fried his bones. He had to have two hip replacements and could no longer sit on a riding mower.  Mowing his grace was a B - 1 Someone act.  What a joy it is to help someone else in need!

   As Dr. David Jeremiah says, "We can be God's music in someone's life" (Turning Point devotional -- June 2009).  You too can be a B - 1 for Someone who cares, helps, gives, prays, or goes.  All it takes is a willing heart.  God will do the rest.  

Thought for the Day: God is looking for a few willing B - 1's for Someone.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Awesome Glory of God

The Israelites at the foot of the mountain saw an awesome sight.  The awesome glory of the Lord on the mountaintop looked like a devouring fire.  (Exodus 24:17)

   What an awesome view!  As I stood watching the setting sun over the Canadian Rockies, I was awestruck by its beauty.  The deep orange sky turned to lighter shades and intermingled with the cumulous clouds overhead giving it a ghostlike appearance.

   What do you suppose the Israelites felt as they stood at the foot of the mountain and saw the glory of God on display?  Were they fearful?  Did it silence them?  Did the glory of God generate a great respect?

   To be awesome is to command foth fear and adoration.  God chose Mount Sinai to demonstrate his character, including his awesomeness.  God torched the mountain.  Fire and smoke covered its heights.  The people trembled with fear.  You would think that such a display of power and glory would guarantee their worship.  Sadly, a month later the people were bowing down to a golden calf.

   Worship is not something that can be coerced through displays of supernatural power.  Experiencing the awesomeness of God is only one step closer to him.  We need to look forward and acknowledge the truth about ourselves, confessing our own frality and depending on him for everything.  Picture yourself standing before God and let God's spirit give you a yearning for his presence in worship.  God desires to impact and work in the lives of those who humble themselves before him.

   The next time you see the awesome glory of God in nature, offer him words of praise in worshipful adoration for such a glorious scene.  God is always ready to hear our praise. 

Thought for the Day:  God's glory can be seen all around us if we look long enough.