Tuesday, January 31, 2017

All Aboard

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

When I was a kid, my Dad would often say, “Rickey, your train of thought has jumped its track.” “Train of thought.” I think it is a great metaphor for describing how our minds work. Our thoughts take us somewhere, like a train. And if you want to make it to your desired destination, you had better board the right train!

The truth is, we can choose what we want to think about. That’s why Scripture exhorts us to think about godly things [Philippians 4.8]. Try as hard as you can, you can’t stop ungodly thoughts from entering your mind. If that were the case, there would be no need of Paul’s instruction to set our minds on “things above,” godly things [Colossians 3.2]. 

That’s where the renewed mind comes to bear. Many trains of thought about God, people, even ourselves and our destiny, are completely contrary to God’s Word. Perhaps they have developed from our experiences rather than “thus sayeth the Lord.” 

While it is hard work, we must exercise our mind muscle. When the train of thought that is contrary to the Holy pulls up to the platform, don’t get on board. Pick the train that leads to the right destination. It’s the reason we must study and meditate on Scripture. If we don’t know it, how will we know which train to avoid? 

A renewed mind is not a singular event in the life of a Christ follower. It should be a day-by-day — sometimes a moment-by-moment — experience. That’s right, a lifelong process. It’s easy to become weary, so be ready to fight off the frustration that will come your way. Pick your train carefully and you will always end up at the right, and desired, destination.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12.2

Monday, January 30, 2017

An Anchor for the Soul

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

In the ancient Mediterranean world, an anchor was a popular image. It was a symbol of safety and steadiness. Perhaps that’s why the writer of Hebrews used it, to remind us of our hope that is secure in any storm. 

Hope is comforting to the soul. It is in stark contrast to hopelessness - that overwhelming and depressing feeling that your situation cannot be resolved. Hopelessness is a dark tunnel going nowhere. 

The writer of Proverbs knew this only too well. He wrote, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” [Proverbs 13.12]. The word “sick” here, is interesting. It’s the Hebrew word, which means, weak. It’s the same word used by Samson when he told Delilah that if she were to cut off his hair, he would be “sick — weak!”

So, it’s great to know that as Christ followers, we have a hope that anchors the soul. Our relationship with Christ allows us access to the very throne of heaven, where it is possible to lay all our burdens aside, casting them before an omnipotent God. Furthermore, He’s with us through every circumstance that comes our way. His great love provides strength for weary bodies, peace for anxious minds, and comfort for grieving hearts.  

Hope — the anchor we need. It’s wrapped in God’s oath and promise, steadfast and secure. With that, we have confidence when we flee to Him for safety. Keep hope alive. God is with us. Be anchored in that truth.

God also bound Himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that He would never change His mind. So God has given both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. Hebrews 6.17-19

Friday, January 27, 2017

Misdirected Trust

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

The year was 1978 and we had decided to drive to Reggio Calabria, at the boot of Italy. Instead of driving on the Mediterranean side, we decided to take the AutoStrata on the Adriatic side and cut across on another major highway deep in the South of Italy. We mapped everything out carefully.

We were driving, talking, and enjoying the new scenery of the trip when, all of a sudden, the AutoStata came to a DEAD END! We looked at our map trying to figure out what went wrong, and then we saw it. It was an asterisk, which in very fine print said, “Road not complete until 1980.” 

We had to turn around and drive about 2 hours in the opposite direction to connect with a highway that would take us to our destination. 

Over the years, that trip taught me a valuable lesson: Putting your trust in worldly things is tempting — our careers, our abilities, our paychecks, our possessions, our relationships… even Google! While these things may bring a measure of assurance, nothing can replace the unshakeable security we have when we rely on God! He is where we should direct our trust. 

His all-knowing wisdom and eternal Word are flawless. Trusting other things may seem like a good idea at the time, but they can lead us miles away from the path God has in mind.

If you find yourself in an unfamiliar place, or in uncharted territory, wondering how you got there, stop relying on other things, especially self-reliance. Seek God. Better yet, before heading out on any life trip, check things out with God first. He will not steer you wrong!

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalm 20.7

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Give Me Patience — Right Now!

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

“I want what I want — right now!” That’s how life is in these days. Generally speaking, it’s what we have collectively become: a patience-is-hard-to-come-by-culture. Impatience in traffic, when we yell at the driver doing 63 mph in the fast lane. Impatient with the person who put 11 items on the counter right under a sign that reads, “10 ITEMS ONLY.” The nerve of some people! 

The Bible has things to say about salvation and heaven, but what about patience. Does it say anything about that? Well, you guessed it, it surely does. So let’s start with the word itself. It comes from a Greek word that means, slow to boil. In other words, a patient person has a long fuse before explosion… a very long fuse! 

Biblical patience deals with three specific aspects of life. 

1. Patience doesn’t give in to negative circumstances no matter how difficult they may be. When God promised Abraham and Sarah a son, they had to wait many years before God would make good on His promise. But they became impatient as the child-bearing years rushed by. So they took matters into their own hands and, well, you know the rest of the story. Ishmael came along, and we still haven’t recovered from that sin today. They had to wait another fourteen years before the son of promise came. To that, it was said of Abraham, “Having waited patiently, [Abraham] obtained the promise” [Hebrews 6.15].

2. Patience copes with difficult people. That’s why the Apostle Paul told the Thessalonian Christ followers to, “be patient with all men” [5.14]. Patience refuses to be vengeful. It refuses to retaliate. In other words, patience bears insult, slander, hatred, even persecution. You can’t start a fight with a patient person!

3. Patience takes every aspect of God’s plan as a good thing. While it may question God at times, it is always obedient, even when it lacks understanding. Patience says, “I will do Your will, Lord. Whatever You have planned for me, You will make it right.” That’s the point of Romans 8.28, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

There you have it. Patience endures negative circumstances, copes with difficult people, and accepts God’s plan for everything. Since God is in control, let’s be patient people, waiting for Him to do His good work in all things.

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering [patience], bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4.1-2

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sealed with Promise

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

I was asked not too long ago how the Holy Spirit “seals” us for protection. The one asking the question was a fairly new convert and thought the Holy Spirit wrapped us up in a spiritual bubble-wrap, keeping us safe in the world. 

I spent a little time explaining that being sealed by the Holy Spirit speaks of ownership, authenticity, security, and authority. In times past, nobles placed an official seal on documents or other possessions to guarantee inviolability. If anyone were to break that seal, they would immediately incur the wrath of the one it represented (see Daniel 6.17; Matthew 27.62-66]. 

That kind of an official seal was put on documents, deeds, and wills when they were finalized. Not only that, but anyone holding a decree from a sovereign, which had his seal on it, had the sovereign’s authority to act on it. 

Everything I just said is a picture of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He is the Sovereign’s guarantee of salvation. He proves that you are an authentic child of God. You are the Sovereign’s possession, purchased with His Son’s precious blood [1 Peter 1.18-19]. You are the Sovereign’s ambassador, given authority to act on, proclaim, His message of salvation [2 Corinthians 5.20]. 

There’s one more thing to be added. Paul told the Ephesian Christ followers that the Holy Spirit was the “pledge” or “guarantee” of their eternal inheritance. He used an interesting Greek word to convey it, arrabon, which literally means, down payment or earnest money. A down payment is the promise to secure a purchase. The Holy Spirit is the pledge that God will keep His promise, that you are His for eternity—the first installment of your eternal inheritance.

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1.13-14

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Be Uniquely You

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

You may not have the strength of another believer in certain things, but God has given each of us the strength to be, and do, what He created us to do.

The Psalmist said, “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure” [Psalm 18.32].

The Apostle Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” [Philippians 4.13].

King David adds, “In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all” [1Chronicles 29.12]. 

How about that! God gives strength to all. But I also believe there are specific things, unique only to you, that He gives strength to make you individually strong. The Psalmist said, “From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works” [Psalm 33.14-15]. Paul wrote, “Now you are the body of Christ, and member individually” [1 Corinthians 12.27].

In other words, God wired us the way He wants. We fit together, but each is powered somewhat differently. He has strengthened some one way, and some another. Each person has a kind of strength that another doesn’t possess.

Here’s my point. There is something uniquely you, something God has put in you that gives you strength and character and purpose. It’s your foundation, the place from which God wants to use you to serve and bless others. 

We often wish for someone else’s strength rather than to discover and cultivate our own. So remember, God individually fashioned you! You are wonderfully unique. It’s that you, which God wants to bring blessing to others.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139.14

Monday, January 23, 2017

Guard Your Ways

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

“I will guard my ways,” the Psalmist said. His point had to do with repeated, engrained behavior - guard where I tread. I get that from the Hebrew word translated ways. It’s a word that pictures a beaten path. 

Perhaps you’ve heard that old saying, “He’s set in his ways,” meaning you’re not likely to change the way a person acts, his behavior. The “ways” are habits, attitudes, and responses that aren’t likely to change without strong motivation, or, from a Christian perspective, without some sort of an encounter with God. 

Your “ways” have to start somewhere. I believe they start with our thinking. Steven Covey, in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote, “Sow a thought; reap an action. Sow an action; reap a habit. Sow a habit; reap a character. Sow a character; reap a destiny." It all points back to a thought that perhaps should have been dealt with, but wasn’t.

It’s the beginning of a new week. Take some time today to consider your thoughts. Ask yourself, “Am I giving in to thoughts that lead to ungodly ways?” If so, cast those thoughts aside and ask God to help your resolve to put them behind you. Then, replace them with positive things, things the Apostle Paul told the Philippian Christ followers to think about: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” [Philippians 4.8].

Godly thoughts lead to godly ways.

Therefore I said to myself, “I will guard my ways and not sin in what I say. I will hold my tongue when the ungodly are around me.” Psalm 39.1

Friday, January 20, 2017

Be Prepared

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

“Be Prepared” are words every Boy Scout knows well. It has been their motto since 1907. In his book, Scouting for Boys, Robert Baden-Powell explained: “The scout Motto is: BE PREPARED which means you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your DUTY.”

The Apostle Peter, though not a Scout, wrote about the same thing — to be prepared. He knew hard days lay just ahead for his fellow believers. After reminding them of their security as children of God [1 Peter 1.1-5], he gave them two specific ways to prepare for the coming trials. Those divinely inspired words were good for his day, and for ours too.

His first instruction relates to the mind. What you believe will have a direct bearing on your response to life’s problems. If you trust that God is on your side making the best of every situation in your life, you will feel less threatened by life’s difficulties. Negativity, whether from anger, fear, worry, or envy, can make hard times even worse. So, be prepared. Start with biblical thinking. I like the older translations that say, “…gird up the loins of your mind.” That’s an interesting way to say, “Be Prepared.”

The next instruction had to do with your spirit. He wrote, “…be sober in spirit…” The biblical idea of sober in spirit is to maintain balance. In other words, resist quick fixes and refuse to embrace ungodly ideas or solutions, all of which are designed by Satan to turn us from God’s way. Strengthened by the Spirit, we can learn to stand firm in crisis and steadfastly follow the Lord. 

A true Christ follower is always prepared for whatever the future may bring, good or bad, rough or smooth, with little or a lot, we are of good cheer, for Christ has overcome the world [John 16.33].

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober in spirit, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1.13

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Living Sermons on Courage

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

I’m convinced that Satan uses fear to immobilize our witness more than anything else. And that’s what caught my eye in an article in Christianity Today. It was an interview with Heather Mercer, on the 10th anniversary of her release from a prison in Kabul, Afghanistan.  She told the interviewer, “There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. God sent me to prison to set me free. I don't think I realized how much fear I actually had in my life until I had to confront some of my deepest, darkest fears. When I first set out to go to Afghanistan, I knew it might cost me my life to reach Muslims with the love of Jesus. Then I had this opportunity to face that fear of, ‘What would I do if someone tried to kill me for sharing the gospel?’ God made Himself known in such a profound way that now, what do I have to fear?”    

Today, Heather and her husband, an Iraqi Christian, continue to minister in the northern, Kurdish region of Iraq.

Wycliff magazine tells the story of Sue Ambrose in Papua New Guinea. She went out for a walk on day, and was attacked by a man wielding a knife. The man ran off and she was rushed to a clinic where co-workers were astonished at her condition; many abrasions, a damaged hand, a puncture wound just below her lungs, and the knife stuck in her hip! 
The clinical staff remarked about how calm she was through the process of stabilization. Afterwards, she was transferred to a medical facility in Australia. 

While in the hospital, Sue said she was visited by an angel, “A big warrior kind of guy that was eight or ten feet tall with his sword raised, saying, ‘No, that is enough! I am not going to let you kill her.’ That really opened my eyes to the whole spiritual realm; that this man was part of Satan’s attacks on us, on the training centre and on the work of SIL [Summer Institute of Linguistics].”   
Two and a half weeks later, she returned to Papua New Guinea to continue in ministry.

I call these two incidents, “Living Sermons on Courage.” They challenge us to reject fear and to be courageous in our witness and ministry.

RESOLVED:  I will not allow the enemy to use the tactic of fear against me.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1.7

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

God Is Preeminent

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

We don’t use the word “preeminent” much these days. Maybe that’s because we so often speak about something as being “awesome.” My Grandson saw an Uncle of mine use a Polaroid Camera for the first time. When the picture spit out and developed in front of his eyes, he ran to his Mother and said, “This is awesome!” 

Preeminent is better than awesome. It’s an adjective meaning, surpassing all others. It implies supreme standing, one who is distinguished over everyone in a quality or achievement. That certainly is true of God. Nothing is more preeminent than God. 

Our salvation underscores that truth. We have been granted salvation so that God may be glorified. Sure, we benefit as well, but bringing glory to God is the primary issue, not our blessings from it. 

That’s one of the big problems with our self-centered culture. We are on a completely different page when it comes to whom receives glory. Unfortunately, a self-glorifying mentality has worked its way into the church, even subjecting its influence on the gospel. As an example, we often hear how sin affects man, but rarely how it dishonors God. Salvation is often offered as a way to get what Christ offers, not to obey His commands. Modern evangelism, in many cases, has reduced the gospel to a formula for a happy and fulfilling life. In other words, the focus is on man’s benefit, not God’s glory!

Christ followers know better. We understand that the purpose of our salvation is to live to His glory — His glory is to govern all we do. 

Paul understood this well. He told the Philippian Christ followers that he pressed, “toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” [Philippians 3.14]. That’s a noble goal, one to keep in mind daily. If you do, each day will be to the praise of God’s glory.

In our salvation, like everything else, God is preeminent and deserves all the credit.

… that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1.12

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

You Have an Inheritance

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

When Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christ followers, he told them about an inheritance waiting for them, and yet it had immediate benefits as well. An inheritance is something received as a result of a legal process. It can be in a variety of forms, so let’s just call it a legacy one obtains from being connected to a family or friend. 

The inheritance I’m referring to is mentioned several times in the New Testament. Paul told the Roman Christ followers that, as members of the family of God, they were an heir of God and fellow-heir with Christ [Romans 8.17]. Peter wrote about the inheritance as “imperishable and undefiled…reserved in heaven for you” [1 Peter 1.4]. Imperishable means it’s timeless. Undefiled means it’s sinless. It will not diminish in any way because it is secure in heaven. What a thought!

But heaven is not the totality of the inheritance. There are present benefits as well. In addition to receiving Christ and the Holy Spirit, we inherit peace, love, grace, wisdom, joy, victory, strength, guidance, mercy, forgiveness, righteousness, discernment, and every other spiritual benefit — great blessings, one and all. I might have left something out, so let me use the words of Paul when he told the Ephesian Christ followers that we have inherited, “every spiritual blessing in Christ” [Ephesians 1.3]. Or as he told the Corinthian Christ followers, “all things belong to you, and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” [1 Corinthians 3.22-23].

Having the right outlook about your inheritance will help you keep a proper perspective on material, temporal things and inspire you to praise and adore God. As a member of God’s family, you have obtained an inheritance, one with many benefits, both present and future.

… that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1.10-12

Monday, January 16, 2017

From Covetousness to Contentment

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

I think it is safe to say that everyone experiences discontentment on occasion — discontent being a wistful wishing that life was somehow different. Some have suggested that kind of discontentment leads to sin because, through it, we become covetous, craving for things that don’t belong to us, thus becoming greedy and envious. “If only I had what ‘they’ have, I would be happier in life. If only… If only… If only…” That kind of discontent may not only lead to covetousness, but also to self-pity and misery.

There are many Scriptures that speak to that kind of discontent. Luke 12.15 comes to mind, “Then He said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.

There is another approach to this because not all discontentment is bad. One of the definitions of discontent is a dissatisfaction for a level of achievement. To a Christ follower, this may equate with the desire to be more like Christ. In other words, it can be a positive motivator for godly change in our lives. It can serve as a warning sign that we need to make changes in our walk with God, which leads to more contentment. Contented, we can face life’s ‘detours’ and ‘roadblocks’ looking to trust God in new ways, which bring glory to Him. 

That’s what the Apostle Paul discovered: “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” [Philippians 4.11-13].  

Keep growing in Christlikeness. That’s moving from covetousness to contentment.

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13.5

Friday, January 13, 2017

Grace Talk

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Job knew what it was to hear “ungraceful” words. In the darkest hour of his life, one of his so-called friends, Eliphaz, said, “It’s your ignorance, Job. You’re getting what you deserve.” You get that kind of stuff from people lacking grace. It may not always be that brutal, but you’ve probably heard that tone from ungraceful people. Rather than lifting you up when you’re down, they kick you. When you’re confused, they complicate the matter even more. They write you off the first chance they get. Other than that, they’re pretty good friends! 

As I was reading through the book again, I wondered what was going on in Job’s mind that day. Held in a vice-like grip of grief from the sudden loss of his family, how do you process words like that? It was then I thought that there is a lesson to be learned, other than the patience of Job; a lesson about grace talk. Grace talk is always appropriate and always needed. 

Unless you have insight that most of us don’t have, you really don’t know what’s going on in the minds of those around you. That agitated person behind you in line at the grocery store, that person with the slumped shoulders filling his car with gas, that teary-eyed student on the other side of the classroom. You have no idea what’s going on in their lives. Perhaps if we did, we’d be much quicker with encouraging, grace-filled words. 

“How sweet the sound.” Grace-filled words are amazing. And remember, they are always appropriate and always needed! Let’s make it a point to be quicker with grace talk!

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4.6

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Govern Yourself

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

The title of this eDevotion is Govern Yourself. I could have said it another way that is more familiar to you: Self-Control. To govern yourself is to control your attitudes and actions without external coercion. In my way of thinking, it is the foundation upon which governing rests, because those who cannot govern themselves must be controlled another way, by others. The ultimate goal of a Christ follower, then, is to govern oneself under Christ. 

Governing yourself has serious implications, not the least of which is that you, and you alone, are responsible to God for what you do. When standing before God, you can’t call on witnesses to defend yourself; no politician, pastor, family member, or friend can speak up on your behalf. That may sound frightful, but it doesn’t have to be, depending on the way you govern your life under Christ. 

We all need help governing our sinful flesh to keep it under control. And, thankfully, we have it. Self-Governing is a Fruit of the Spirit. You know it by its other name, Self-Control. The holy Spirit of God has given His Fruit to each Christ follower, making Self-Governing possible. While He won’t do the work for you, He is ready with enabling power, supporting your resolve to keep the flesh at bay. 

I prayed a short prayer this morning about this very thing. Part of the prayer was, “Lord, I know I’m responsible for the choices I make. Good or bad, I have no one to blame but myself. Remind me to keep that reality on the front burner so that I choose to better please you in what I say, what I think, and what I do.”

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Galatians 5.13a

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hope for the Future

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

In some of the darkest days of Israel’s history, God was thinking about His people. “I have thoughts, plans, for you,” He told them through the prophet Jeremiah. They were about to endure 70 years of captivity in Babylon. And yet right there, in the dark days, the light of hope was already beginning to shine through.

God didn’t neglect His people. He didn’t leave them in the tough days. He was there in their calamity. That’s just like the God of Israel, our God, and He has promised not to leave us either. His presence is near, no matter the dark hour, offering confidence and peace that will see us through any hardship we face. And when we come out on the other side, we’re stronger, faith-filled. The pain we endure is never wasted. We gain strength and perseverance through the trials no matter how hard they may be. 

We can rest in that truth today, knowing that we’re not in control of all that happens in our lives, nor do we have to figure it all out. God does. He knows, understands, and is there through it all. We’re never alone, so keep pressing on. Because He loves you, cares for you, and is with you, there is peace — that passes all understanding, the Apostle Paul said.

OK, it’s time for a reality check. Have the problems you are facing caused you to lose hope? Take them to the Lord today. Release yourself from the need to make sense of it all right now. Ask for a renewed mind. Be fully persuaded that God will make it good again, to make your future hopeful. Better days ahead!

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29.11 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

You Are A Living Letter

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

You’ve probably heard this statement in some fashion, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (attributed to George Santayana). That’s why it is a good thing to learn from those before us. And that is especially true when it comes to the early Christians. 

While their lives were an open rebuke to the immoral practices of their culture, it was difficult to find fault with them. When they were observed by others around them, it became clear that they were living out the high moral standards they professed.

Perhaps they got if from the Apostle Peter who wrote, “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of the foolish. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover–up for evil; live as God’s servants” [1 Peter 2.15].

The Apostle Paul wrote the same thing, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us” [Titus 2.7-8].

They, of course, were repeating the words of Jesus when He said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” [Matthew 5.16].

These precious words should remind us to seek after a credible and worthy walk, because the world is watching us.

The great preacher Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910) wrote, “The world takes its notion of God most of all from those who say they belong to God’s family. They read us a great deal more than they read the Bible. They see us; they only hear about Jesus.” 

One of my Bible College professors was fond of saying, “A knowledge of Bible doctrine, as important as it is, is inadequate by itself to influence the world for Christ. To be a testimony to the world, we need to live what we profess.”

I say, “Amen.” What do you say?

Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men. 2 Corinthians 3.1-2 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Remember God Moments

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

I’ve read numerous book about how to “build up” my faith. Some of them were helpful and some of them, well, not so much. I read them because throughout my Christian life, I’ve been urged to have more faith. In former days, I groped for answers. I, along with my Bible College and Seminary friends, wanted more faith. We were willing to try anything to achieve that goal. So the question is: How do you build up your faith?

Many years ago, I was struck by passages that seemed to leap off the pages of my Bible. It started with the Passover, “Then Moses said to the people, ‘Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt” [Exodus 13.3]. 

There was a reason behind the Lord’s command, “And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes’” [Exodus 13.9]. 

Remember. Commemorate. In other words, don’t forget. As I kept searching the Scriptures with “fresh eyes,” I began to see it everywhere!

Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life” [Deuteronomy 4.9].

You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” [Deuteronomy 5.15].

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” [Psalm 103:2].

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first” [Revelation 2:5].

What struck me is that there is no “secret” when it comes to building your faith. What is true, however, is that your faith remains and grows by remembering what God has done for others, and for YOU. 

That’s the key: Remember, recount, rehearse, recite the things that God has done in your life. He has always been there because you are a citizen of His kingdom. The more you recall what God has done in your life, the more your faith will grow. 

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. Hebrews 11.1-2