Friday, May 31, 2013

The Scripture

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

Every book, every page, every verse, every truth in the Bible is profitable for us. Christ followers know that to become a mature disciple, one must allow every passage to teach us what God wants us to learn.

Being grounded in the Word is essential for stability because we are daily challenged by a secular, godless culture. So, let’s be honest here. It is difficult to live a righteous life apart from God’s Word. Righteousness—living a holy life—is cultivated. As we fill ourselves with the Word, and obey its instructions, God will, by His Holy Spirit, guide us in the ways of holiness. Not only that, but Scripture will equip us for every good work.

Unfortunately, some Christ followers cheat themselves by picking and choosing which verses they will read and study, ignoring other precious treasures. That’s why a daily, consistent, and comprehensive reading of the Bible is so important.

If you aren’t doing so already, I kindly urge you to begin a 1-year Bible reading plan. Here is the general rule of thumb; if you read three chapters a day (Monday-Saturday), and five chapters (Sunday), you’ll read the Bible through in a year. There are many ways to accomplish it from reading it straight through from Genesis to Revelation, or chronologically, or devotionally (there are many programs to help you with this—I highly recommend and there’s an app for that!). 

Allow the Word of God to permeate, guide, and enrich your life.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Rain of Righteousness

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

The Israelites often became hardened to God’s Word. That was especially true in the days of Hosea. How would God deal with them? He spoke to them in a way they understood—with an illustration of farming. He told them to plow their untilled land. In other words, they were to allow God to cultivate them; to soften their hardened hearts.

Farmers know that’s what you need to do; loosen the soil and make it ready/receptive for seeding and the subsequent life giving rain. The people were to dig up the barriers that prevented God’s Word from piercing their hearts. If they did that, Hosea said that God would restore life and refresh them with a rain of righteousness.

Christ followers must do this as well. We must keep our hearts supple and receptive to God’s Word. The word of Isaiah resounded, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight His paths” (Isaiah 40:3). If we do that, we can encourage others to seek the Lord, and model obedience to our families. We can recount our blessings, ours that are a result of obedience.

Christ followers, if we keep our hearts prepared, we will be ready when God’s Word comes to us.

Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you. (Hosea 10:12)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bigger Is Not Always Better

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

The world gravitates to the spectacular, to the “AWESOME!” God is certainly capable of the spectacular. Let’s be honest, the Bible is filled with the awesome works of God. Yet He most often works through the ordinary or what may seem to us to be insignificant.

Think about Gideon and his battle with the Midianite oppression. God intentionally trimmed his army down to just 300 soldiers, when there were many more men available. God preferred to demonstrate His power through the “small” rather than the “large.”

When Jesus chose His first disciples, He didn’t go the best Rabbinical school in the country and choose Phi Beta Kappa’s. No! He chose regular, ordinary men—fishermen to be exact—not high up in the social strata of the day.

When the time was right to send the Messiah into the world, He didn’t come by means of a kingly palace. He was born in a cave, wrapped in strips of cloth, and laid in a feeding trough.

Christ followers often fall into the trap of “the bigger, the better.” A better view is God’s view: God is interested in the heart; He is pleased with obedience.

For who has despised the day of small things? (Zechariah 4:10)

Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.  (1st Samuel 15:22)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

By My Spirit

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

God sent His word to Israel at a critical time. For 70 years they had been exiled in Babylon. They had firsthand knowledge of the strength of the most powerful military complex in the world. Not only had they seen them conquer other nations, but they had been conquered as well. Then along came the Persians and the unthinkable happened—Babylon was defeated by the new superpower.

No wonder they lost heart. When they compared their strength, or should I say their weakness, to the superpowers of the day, they paled in comparison. But they did make it back to their land, just as the prophets said. But when they did, they found Jerusalem in ruins. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple, and the city walls had been torn down. And think about it, they really had no resources to restore their beloved Jerusalem. What a tremendous task laid before them.

But wait...God spoke! He gave His word that they would rebuild their city—but it wouldn’t happen through their own ingenuity. It would be accomplished in and through the Spirit of God. Therefore, they had everything they needed.

Likewise, as a Christ follower, God, the Holy Spirit, is in you. You have the resources of heaven at your disposal. Don’t rely on your acumen. With God on your side, you can accomplish much.

This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, Says the LORD of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Temptations Will Come

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

In beginning His public ministry, Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River. The Father confirmed His pleasure of this by acknowledging that Jesus was His dearly loved Son (Matthew 3:17). With those words still ringing in His ears, we read Jesus was “brought up [led] by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1).

After fasting 40 days, Satan met Him and presented three temptations.

First, Satan enticed Jesus to use His divine power to transform stones into bread. That seems logical, doesn’t it? Jesus was hungry, who wouldn’t be after fasting that long? But the Father had led Him to fast. Which was the greater need; to feed Himself or follow His Father’s leading?

Second, Satan tried to convince Jesus to short circuit God’s plan. “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down” (Matt. 4:6). Satan’s plan included a spectacular miracle, but he was presumptuous to think His way was better than God’s way. Jesus must be lifted up, not cast down (Matthew 3:14). The world looks for spectacular displays; God uses a holy life.

Third, Satan proposed for Jesus to achieve God’s will by worshiping him. What would Jesus get in return? Satan said, “…the kingdoms of the world” (Matt. 4:8–9). Jesus knew, as we should, that God alone is to be worshipped. Although Satan promised Him kingdoms, Jesus know worshipping Satan would not lead to success, but devastating failure.

A Christ follower will experience temptations. They will inevitably come. Interestingly, they often come after a time of spiritual success or victory. Jesus relied on God’s Word to thwart Satan’s schemes and so should we. He is our model to follow.

Jesus was tempted in every way that we are, yet He never sinned (Heb. 4:15).