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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Beautiful Things

The way we see ourselves and the way God see’s us. An awesome video – worth sharing with others!

Two gates, two ways, two ends! (Alexander Smellie, “The Hour of Silence” 1899)

bible-verse-matthew-714-for-the-gate-is-narrow-and-the-way-is-hard-that-leads-to-life-2013“Enter by the narrow gate.

For wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction–and there are many who go in by it.
Because narrow is the gate, and difficult is the way which leads to life–and there are few who find it!” Matthew 7:13-14

There are only two GATES:
One of them wide. Its name is Self . . .
my own desires,
my own proud thoughts,
my own righteousness,
my own beloved and darling sins,
my own plans and pleasures.

The other gate is narrow. Its name is Christ–Christ sought with repentance and godly sorrow–Christ followed at any hazard. It is the gate of the crucifixion of Self!

There are only two WAYS:
One of them is broad, easy, pleasant, comfortable, pleasing to the flesh, thronged with multitudes–a primrose path, but always tending downward, and bringing disastrous consequences.

The other way is difficult and narrow, as it were through a gorge between craggy cliffs which nearly meet, haunted by dangers and enemies, chosen by comparatively few. The Christian’s toilsome pilgrimage and dangerous journey–ah, how the road climbs up and up!

There are only two ENDS:
One of them is destruction
dark, hopeless, irretrievable,
the death of peace,
the death of hope,
the death of every good impulse,
the death of the soul!

The other end is life
life at its fullest, sublimest, sweetest,
life without sin and without sorrow,
life in the land of life and glory,
life in the presence of Christ to all eternity!

Consciously, deliberately, unequivocally, may I seek . . .
the narrow gate,
the difficult way,
the end which is everlasting life!

Supernatural Ability of the “Renewed Mind,” – by Charles R. Swindoll

renew2 Corinthians 10:3–5

As the truth of God’s Word penetrates our hearts, it displaces those secular mental barriers we have erected over the years. In fact, we receive several very exciting benefits. Paul names two of them in 2 Corinthians 10—divine power (10:4) and authentic independence (10:11–12).

We get the distinct impression that nothing on this earth can intimidate us. The New International Version helps clarify this supernatural ability of the “renewed mind”:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
(2 Corinthians 10:3–5 NIV)

Did you catch the reality of divine power? Servants with renewed minds have a perspective on life and a power to live life that is altogether unique—divinely empowered.

That explains how wrongs can be forgiven, and how offenses can be forgotten, and how objectives can be pursued day in and day out without our quitting. It’s divine power. God promises that He will pour His power into us (Philippians 4:13) and supply all we need if we will simply operate under His full control. When we think correctly, we instantly begin to respond correctly.

How can we “demolish” those things that once blew us away? With Christ living out His very life through ours, that’s how. By His power we can give ourselves away again and again and again. And we won’t fear the outcome. We won’t even feel slighted when we don’t get the same treatment in return. Servants, remember, don’t “keep score.”

When God is in control of the servant’s mind, we realize as never before that life’s greatest joy is to give Christ’s love away.

2 Corinthians 10:11–12

As we allow God’s truth to pierce the tough, hardened barriers we have erected in our minds, we receive surprising benefits. We saw yesterday that God gives us His divine power (2 Corinthians 10:4). He also grants us what I call authentic independence.

Look at verses 11 and 12 in 2 Corinthians 10:

Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when absent, such persons we are also in deed when present. For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.
(2 Corinthians 10:11–12)

Isn’t that refreshing? No masks of hypocrisy. No competition with other believers—just authentic independence. A Christian with this type of attitude refuses to get caught in the trap of comparing himself or herself with others. It all comes to those with a “renewed mind” . . . those who determine they are going to allow the Spirit of God to invade all those walls and towers, capturing the guards that have kept the Lord at arm’s length for too many years.

I can’t recall the precise date when these truths began to fall into place, but I distinctly remember how I began to change deep within. My fierce tendency to compete with others started to diminish. My insecure need to win—always win—also started to fade. Less and less was I interested in comparing myself with other speakers and pastors. This growing, healthy independence freed me to be me, not a mixture of what I thought others expected me to be.

I mean it when I say that my heart really goes out to others when I see in them that misery-making “comparison syndrome” that held me in its grip for so many years. Don’t misunderstand me; I still have very far to go. Nevertheless, it was not until I started thinking biblically that this authentic, independent identity began to take shape.

I believe God has designed it to occur this way.

 

The Power of Your Presence – Bayless Conley

let-your-light-shine-300x234Jesus said in Matthew 5:16,

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”    

The way you let your light shine is just being yourself around people.  Witness everywhere you go through your life, and use words, if necessary.

You can sow seeds just by showing people that you are real.  Some people call it friendship evangelism:  being a genuine friend, touchable, genuinely caring for people, just letting your light shine.

Jesus also said you are a city set on a hill.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nobody lights a lamp and puts it under a basket.  You and I are to live a life that brightly shines the gospel to the unsaved.

I read a story years ago about a guy who had his doorbell hooked up to a big buzzer in the back room.  The buzzer was really loud.  He wanted to change it and put a light there instead that would illuminate when somebody pushed the doorbell.  So he rigged it up to do just that.

The problem was the light would barely illuminate.  He could not figure out what was wrong, so he called an electrician friend.  His friend looked at it and told him, “Oh, you don’t understand.  It takes more power to shine than it does to make noise.”

That is very true.  Jesus said, “Let your light shine.”  Without having to necessarily confront people, they will just notice something different about you.  If you are walking with God, it is reflected in your attitude, your work ethic, and your countenance.  It is a discernable difference that will lead some people to ask about your faith.  You will be able to sow seeds just with your presence

The Antidote to Worry – R.C. Sproul

603059_303263579796173_1224358734_nMatthew 6:25–34 “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (v. 33).

Having told us not to store up earthly treasures (Matt. 6:19–24), in today’s passage Jesus anticipates an objection to His teaching. Sure, some may think, it is easy to tell us not to pursue earthly treasures, but we need money and other goods to meet our needs. Will we not worry if we do not go after such treasures? After all, how will we afford to eat, buy clothes, and so on without money?

Our Savior’s answer to this unstated problem is simple: “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on” (v. 25a). In the examples that follow, Jesus shows us why we need not fret about such things. But before we get into these reasons, note that Christ is not here commending a lackadaisical approach to life in which we expect everything to fall into our laps. Nor does His teaching release us from the duty to feed our families. Scripture is clear that we should be industrious, just like the ants (Prov. 6:6–11), and that anyone who does not provide for his family is worse than the unbeliever who does (1 Tim. 5:8). Even so, toiling away out of fear for the future is not the same thing as God-glorifying labor.

Life’s pressures invite us to worry incessantly about tomorrow. Yet Christ says divine providence makes this anxiety foolish. Birds do not worry, they sing, and still they find food each day without sowing or reaping. We as God’s image-bearers have more worth than they and can be all the more confident that He will feed us as well (Matt. 6:26; see Gen. 1:26–27). “The lilies of the field” neither toil nor spin. Their life and worth is so limited that they are fuel for our fires, yet their glory is far greater than Solomon’s. Since the Father provides for these, He also will provide for us, His beloved people (Matt. 6:28–30).

Far from compounding our anxiety, making God’s kingdom the center of our lives frees us from anxiety. If we seek this kingdom first, He will meet all our needs (v. 33). Those who serve Him wholeheartedly and live out the ethics of God’s kingdom will share what they have (5:42; 6:1–4), and thereby our Father will meet our needs through our efforts and the generosity of others. We need not worry about tomorrow, for God always takes care of His own (Ps. 37:25).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Some of us are more prone to anxiety than others. Yet as we read in today’s passage, persistent worry is not our calling as Christians. We need not be anxious about tomorrow if we are serving Jesus, for while we may not get all of our wants, He will certainly give us all of our needs. If you are struggling with anxiety this day, take your eyes off yourself and do a good deed for another person. Then, ask God to help you learn how to trust in Him confidently.

Transforming Power, from Our Daily Bread

Be transformedThese words which I command you today shall be in your heart. —Deuteronomy 6:6

Many people love to play games that test their knowledge. Recently, a colleague and I were testing a Bible-knowledge game. Since we were seated in an open area of our office, those nearby could hear our conversation. Soon questions ranging from Noah’s ark to the woman at the well were being answered by those within earshot of us. It was a delight to hear various staff members volunteering responses to Bible questions.

A knowledge of the Bible is important, but God desires us to be saturated with His Word and to internalize it so we can grow in our relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit uses the Word to make us more like Christ (Eph. 4:20-24). Consider these benefits of internalizing the Bible: joy and rejoicing (Jer. 15:16); spiritual success (Josh. 1:8); a tool in spiritual warfare (Matt. 4:1-11); correction (2 Tim. 3:15-16); light for our path (Ps. 119:105); wisdom with problem solving (Prov. 1:1-2); and stimulating faith (Rom. 10:17).

Learning about the Bible just to increase our knowledge can lead to spiritual pride (1 Cor. 8:1). But allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us by the Word helps us navigate through life’s twists and turns and respond in love to God and to each other. —Dennis Fisher

My hunger for the truth He satisfies;
Upon the Word, the Living Bread, I feed:
No parching thirst I know, because His grace,
A pool of endless depth, supplies my need. —Sanders

Many books can inform, but only the Bible can transform.

 

There is no record in the Bible of God speaking to anyone in any form—including dreams, oracles, or visions—from the time of Joseph to the time of Moses. When the people of Israel were led out into the wilderness, it is likely that they had little knowledge of the God who had delivered them and was leading them to a new home. The commands given through Moses were meant to reintroduce God to them and to help them to be people who would be a light to others (cf. Isa. 49:3). By keeping God’s words always in front of them (Deut. 6:6-9), they could live by those words and be transformed into people who showed God to the world.