Each week a member of LLC offers a short devotional to support you in your walk with Christ. We hope each week is an encouragement to you and leads you deeper in your relationship with our marvelous, ever loving God.
Sometimes maybe what we need is a reminder of (some) of the non-negotiables of our faith.
Jesus is God.
Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus was virgin born.
Jesus lived a sinless life.
Jesus died a substitutionary death.
Jesus rose from the dead.
Jesus ascended to God.
Jesus is returning.
Jesus is the only way to God.
(Penned by Dustin Benge as a post of Reformed Christian Voice Radio)
I have a copy of a prayer from long ago that I pray regularly... it helps me focus. I did not write it but I have prayed it over the years.
"LORD, Give me a teachable attitude. Help me to be willing to be taught. Help me to be a student of the Word. Help me to forsake all learning disabilities. Oh, may I be teachable, that is my prayer. In Jesus' name, Amen."
Each day via the marvel of electronics I receive a pre-written prayer from a friend. She forwards it from a website called "Hope For The Broken Hearted.com". The written prayer for yesterday was:
"Dear Lord, as I face the world today, may I hear Your voice above all others. May any critical or negative things I hear go in one ear and out the other. Help me remember that the peace You offer, the world cannot give or take away. Thank You for being my strength, my shield, my refuge, my healer, my defender, my provider and my advocate. You are everything I need. You are greater than anything I will face today. If You are for me, it doesn't matter who or what comes against me. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen.
It is amazing how God is faithful to send pre-written prayers into my life at just the right time. May I be teachable as I pray the pre-written prayer and to anticipate with joy that God will hear and answer my prayer.
My community group is going through the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. It's been a great study filled with laughter and thought-provoking questions. If you've never read this book I would highly recommend you do so, because it has a lot of hard-hitting truths that make you think deep about your relationship with Christ.
One of the things this book has opened my eyes to is how many Christians still long for and chase after temporal things because they believe if they could just have this "one more thing"...THEN they will be happy. THEN they would switch their focus to God and to what he's doing.
Of course we know how that goes. There's always something more, there's always something newer, there's always something better...and that insatiable lust for the "next big thing" is never satisfied. Instead of seeking the will and presence of the living and Holy God, they seek after possessions while jockeying for fleeting positions on this temporary stage called life.
In Bob Madden's Tuesday night gatherings, we are examining CS Lewis' "Screwtape Letters". These "letters" have helped me to understand certain aspects of how the enemy of Our Lord potentially operates. One of the things that CS Lewis contends the enemy does most often is to make their primary goal distraction rather than "direct attacks". See direct attacks would be too easy for us to detect and combat against but if Satan's minions and pawns can keep us distracted from our true purpose, they still win...and often times with us not even being aware that we're in a fight.
GK Chesterton once said, "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." It's not easy to live the Christian Life...all too often we are pulled off the narrow path due to shiny trinkets and little pleasures on the side of the road. They eagerly and emphatically demand our attention...and all too often we are quick to give it.
In the Book of James, chapter 2 verse 17, James rights, "Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead". While nobody would take this verse to mean we are saved by what we do, the verse is clear that out of our Salvation our actions change. And our actions change because our desires are changed by this newfound reality born out of the love that God has displayed through the Gospel.
But if we're aware of the enemy's tactics we may be, perhaps, better equipped to combat them. If we're aware of the trinkets, snares, and traps laid along the roadside...maybe we'll be better equipped to ignore them, and keep our eyes and hearts firmly fixed on Jesus.
And for the true Christian, we can always take heart that no matter what happens, no matter what we do, not matter how hard it gets, or how many times we get distracted and pulled off course, God will always find us and will always bering us back home.
Recently in my devotions, I’ve been reading through the book of Numbers. Sometimes it’s a challenge for me to make personal application with all of the laws, rituals and guidelines God prescribes for Israel to follow in those early books. Yet today, as I read Numbers 5 I was strangely encouraged to trust in God’s sovereignty and providence by an obscure practice God commanded Israel to follow.
In that section, God prescribes a process by which husbands who suspect their wives of infidelity, yet have no proof of such an indiscretion, can seek God’s justice. There is a lot going on in this passage, but essentially the husband takes his wife to the priest and the priest practices a ritual with the accused woman. If she miscarries, she is guilty, but if she is able to have children, she is absolved.
Today people use DNA tests, private detectives, digital tracking and a variety of other means to determine guilt or innocence in a situation of suspected infidelity. This can be very effective in determining innocence or guilt in the 21st century; however, one of the potential unintended consequences is that people will put their faith in these technological advances over and above the sovereignty and providence of God. Israel had no other remedy for justice in unclear situations, and as a result, experiencing peace and justice demanded they have faith in the all powerful, all controlling God.
Peace, justice, hope and security in the 21st century are all dependent on that same faith. No matter how far our technology comes, no matter how balanced the scales of justice may be, never will worldly processes provide the security that faith in God provides. As a people, let us be like Israel and place our faith in the one, true, all-powerful, benevolent God who provides for us in ways the world can never do.
1 John 1:9 (HCBS) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
It is said that "confession is good for the soul". It really is! When you pray do you pray deep or on the surface? Do you confess your failures in general or are you deeply honest and specific with your Father in Heaven? Perhaps you need to probe deeper than the failure of today and examine the unresolved actions of past years, those memories that bind you and hold you back.
We live in such a busy time that often we communicate with God in short hand. When you come before your Heavenly Father take time to pause from the business, confess to Him your love, be honest with Him about your life and your failures. Explain to Him your pain and revisit your failures together and God promises not only to forgive your failures, but to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.
Trust His ability to receive your confession more than your ability to confess it. Don't fear that you weren't sincere or that you might forget a failure, of course you will! Do you think God tells us to confess our failures so that He might know what they are? God knows long before we confess what our failures are. God desires that you acknowledge your failures that you might know the forgiveness that is already yours in Christ Jesus.
Let this prayer of the Psalmist be yours. "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." Psalms 139:23-24 NLT "And the peace of God, which surpasses ever thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7 (HCSB)
Ever since the beginning of the Zoom study on C.S. Lewis' "Screwtape Letters" that Bob and Mickey and about a dozen others of us have been enjoying, I've been thinking a good bit about Satan.
Far from being a comical imp who "makes us do things" as Flip Wilson said, or a horned creature with a pitch fork and a pointed tail, the Bible tells us that Satan is real. He desires for us to fail and be separated from God. We have an enemy whose aim is to kill, steal and destroy. (John 10:10) Satan wastes no time...from our birth he whispers lies to us and looks for ways to deceive us. (John 8:44)
When we are trusting in Jesus the Bible tells us that we have the power to overcome Satans attacks. If we submit to God and resist the devil, he will flee from us! (James 4:7) No attack from Satan can ever separate us from Gods love...in romans 8:38-39 we find these fantastic words of comfort. "Neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
I plan to do more reading and studying about this enemy of ours. I want to know ALL of his limitations! Satan knows his time is short and in the end when Christ returns in all His glory He will kick Satan our for good. (Revelation 22:10) Praising God with you that we have these promises!
I have the difficult task of following Kate Weigel and Ramona Davis this week. Both Kate and Ramona wrote of fear and anxiety and what we must do if we wish to conquer these worldly emotions. Last year, I started reading a daily devotional based on the wisdom of Proverbs, God's Wisdom for Navigating Life by Timothy and Kathy Keller. It just so happens I am currently reading in the section on anxiety and fear. I marked the devotional on April 15th because it made such an impact on me and thought I would share it. Kate's devotional, which also made quite an impact on me, was also dated April 15th! Here's good advice, based on God's wisdom, from the Kellers on how we should conquer anxiety:
Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25
Anxiety. The Hebrew word translated as anxiety means the emotional distress caused when something vital to your life is threatened. The key to dealing with anxiety is to look at our heart attitude toward the thing threatened. There are many things that are considered important for a hight quality of life in this world Yet as we have seen, if we rely on God the most, that makes everything else less vital and thus our lives less fragile.
Anxiety cannot be completely eliminated. Because Paul loved his young churches, he was anxious for them (2 Corinthians 11:28), and yet he counsels us to avoid debilitating anxiety by deliberately resting our hearts in God rather than anything else (Philippians 4:6-9). In this proverb, however, we are told we should not try to deal with anxiety on our own. We need a kind word from others. We need people to affirm us, to relate their own experience, to point us to God, or even just to be there so we don't feel so alone.
What helps you the most when you are anxious? Have you used all the spiritual resources you have for anxiety?
Prayer: Lord, you have instructed that I deal with anxiety through, among other things, thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6-9). So I thank you for all the ways in the past you took care of me. And I thank you ahead of time, knowing it will be wise and good, for whatever you do with my future. Amen.
As many of you know I am currently using CH Spurgeon's Morning and Evening Readings as a guide to my daily time with the Lord. And as many of you also know I am currently leading the Women's Bible study at LLC. Recently, these two activities merged in application.
The morning reading centered on o Isaiah 2:3....
"Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord."
I found the opening sentence of Spurgeon's devotion amazing given the present moral state of my beloved country, the United States of America. We call evil good and good is punished. Spurgeon says, "It is exceedingly beneficial to our souls to mount above this present evil world to something nobler and better."
He then continues, "May the Spirit of God assist us to leave the mists of fear and the fevers of anxiety and all the ills which gather in this valley of earth and to ascend the mountain of anticipated joy and blessedness. May God the Holy Spirit cut the cords that keep us here below, and assist us to mount! We sit too often like chained eagles fastened to the rock, only that, unlike the eagle, we begin to love our chain and would perhaps if it really came to the test be loath to have the chain snapped. May God now grant grace that our soul may attain the top of the mountain, thus to indulge in communion with the most high!
Communion with the most hight...here enters the point in the Hebrews study...The Holy Spirit has had the author of Hebrews realize those who originally received this letter are living in a culture that is very difficult; they are experiencing persecution...their culture called evil good and good is punished... and his exhortation to them is to Consider Jesus. That word 'consider' is a powerful word that means 'fix your thoughts on'; 'give concentration attention to Jesus who is the very imprint of the nature of God". In the preceding verses the author of Hebrews has just pictured Jesus as "The Son enthroned in heaven". He is saying turn your full focus upward...or as Spurgeon puts it, "May the Spirit of God assist us to leave the mists of fear and the fevers of anxiety and all the ills which gather in this valley of earth and to ascend the mountain of anticipated joy and blessedness."
God is so good to bring the devotional thoughts of Spurgeon and the words from the book of Hebrews together and encourage me to loop upward out of the valley to see Jesus and commune with Him.