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Monthly Archives: April 2014

I Can Go Into the Holy of Holies

Suffering for Doing What Is Right, by Charles Swindoll

worship1Read – 1 Peter 2:20–24; 3:17–18
As you serve people in ministry, you will give, forgive, forget, release your own will, obey God to the maximum, and wash dirty feet with an attitude of gentleness and humility. And after all those beautiful things, you will get ripped off occasionally. Knowing all this ahead of time will help “improve your serve,” believe me.

The Bible doesn’t hide this painful reality from us. In 1 Peter 2:20 (addressed to servants, by the way—see verse 18), we read: “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.”

Part of this “makes sense,” according to our logical and fair standard. Part of it doesn’t. If a person does wrong and then suffers the consequences, even though he or she patiently endures the punishment, nobody applauds.

But—now get this clearly fixed in your mind—when you do what is right and suffer for it with grace and patience, God applauds! Illustration: Jesus Christ’s suffering and death on the cross. He, the perfect God-man, was mistreated, hated, maligned, beaten, and finally nailed cruelly to a cross. He suffered awful consequences, even though He spent His life giving and serving (1 Peter 3:17–18).

One thing is certain: if people treated a perfect individual that way, then imperfect people cannot expect to escape mistreatment. If mistreatment hasn’t happened to you yet, it will.

God’s workmanship! by Frank Hall

Rom 8.29“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

There is an infinite difference between the materials that men employ to construct and compose their masterpieces–and the materials that God uses to create sinners anew in Christ Jesus. Men work with the best of materials to showcase their talents, but God works with the worst–to showcase His power, wisdom, and skill.

The most gifted sculptors carve their creations out of the finest pieces of ivory, marble, and jade. The best jewelers seek only the finest gold and silver to form their bracelets and rings–they utilize only the most desirable gems to adorn their jewelry; rubies of the highest grade, diamonds of most exquisite clarity, and emeralds of impeccable luster. Da Vinci painted on a clean canvas with fresh paint when he painted the Mona Lisa. Beethoven and Bach chose blank sheets of clean white paper upon which to compose their symphonies.

But God is not like men. His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways. God employs, not the best, not the finest, not the most appealing of materials when creating His masterpieces–but the worst! He uses what no one else wants. He uses the offscouring of humanity–to display His handiwork and magnify His grace. God constructs His masterpiece, not from a perfectly shaped piece of ivory–but from a deformed, twisted, marred chunk of hard rough stone that has no attraction.

God has purposed to conform His redeemed people into the pristine image of His darling Son. While keeping His eye fixed upon His Son, using the chisel of His grace–God sculpts rebel sinners into the likeness of Christ!

God paints, not on a clean white canvas–but on a canvas that has been . . .
stained with sin, spotted with corruption, and bespattered with the filth of the fall.
As the perfect Painter, God looks to Christ His Model, and, with the brush of omnipotent mercy in His ever steady hand of sovereign power–He begins to paint His children, one by one, into the family portrait; tracing every line with divine precision, filling in every grace with unfailing accuracy, accentuating every corner of their character with a whole array of heavenly hues: blues of faith and surrender, violets of honesty and godly fear, greens of tenderness and gratitude, reds of love and compassion, yellows of patience and perseverance–painting them all in the similitude of Christ His beloved Son!

God does not compose His symphony on a blank piece of sheet music. Rather, He blots out the discordant notes of sin, rebellion, and impurity–and with the permanent ink of immutable grace, He rewrites the sorrowful sonnet of sin, transforming it into the song of salvation, inscribing on our hearts the heavenly notes of free forgiveness, eternal life, and everlasting righteousness through Christ our Savior! With heavenly wisdom and unseen skill, God makes the sad song of human misery–into a glorious gospel melody, a tune that sounds best when played on the broken instruments of contrite hearts!

Our God has . . . .
done the unthinkable,
saved the unsavable,
fixed the unfixable!
He has created a masterpiece using a rotting chunk of fallen humanity as His workpiece! What a wonder! By the grace and power of God, “The king’s daughter is all glorious within!”

When God’s work is all done,
when His poem is finished,
when His symphony composed,
and His masterpiece complete–
He will present us to Himself holy and without blemish, “a glorious church, having no spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing!”

God’s work of grace in us begins in regeneration and conversion. It continues until the day when our salvation is consummated in resurrection glory, when we will be perfectly conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ!

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son!” Romans 8:29

Is Fatigue Next to Godliness? by Charles R. Swindoll

CatRead Luke 9:18
Now here’s a rhyme I’ll never understand:
Pussy-cat, pussy-cat, where have you been?
I’ve been to London to look at the queen.
Pussy-cat, pussy-cat, what did you there?
I frightened a little mouse under the chair.

That little pussy-cat had the chance of her lifetime. All of London stretched out before her. Dozens of famous, time-worn scenes to drink in. Westminster Abbey. Trafalgar Square. The unsurpassable British Museum. She could have scurried up an old lamppost and watched the changing of the guards. Or slipped in the side entrance and enjoyed an evening with the London Philharmonic.

Not this cat! She was such a mouseaholic that she couldn’t break with the monotonous routine even when she was on vacation.
That mouseaholic has a lot to say to all workaholics . . . and churchaholics, for that matter. Overcommitted, pushed, in a hurry, grim-faced, and determined, we plow through our responsibilities like a freight train under a full head of steam. What we lack in enthusiasm, we make up for in diligence.

We’ve been programmed to think that fatigue is next to godliness. That the more exhausted we are (and look!), the more spiritual we are and the more we earn God’s smile of approval. We bury all thoughts of enjoying life . . . for we all know that committed, truly committed, Christians are those who work, work, work. Preferably, with great intensity. As a result, we have become a generation of people who worship our work, who work at our play, and who play at our worship.

Hold it! Who wrote that rule? Why have we bought that philosophy? What gave someone the right to declare such a statement?

I challenge you to support it from the Scriptures. Or to go back into the life (and lifestyle) of Jesus Christ and find a trace of corroborating evidence that He embraced such a theory. Some will be surprised to learn there is not one reference in the New Testament saying (or even implying) that Jesus intensely worked and labored in an occupation to the point of emotional exhaustion. No, but there are several times when we are told He deliberately took a break. He got away from the demands of the public and enjoyed periods of relaxation with His disciples. I’m not saying He rambled through His ministry in an aimless, halfhearted fashion. Not at all! But neither did He come anywhere near an ulcer. Never once do we find Him in a frenzy.

His was a life of beautiful balance. He accomplished everything the Father sent Him to do. Everything. And He did it without ignoring those essential times of leisure. If that is the way He lived, then it makes good sense for you and me to live that way, too.

He is My Savior

Surely I am with you all the days! by Alexander Smellie (1907)

I am with you always“Surely I am with you all the days, to the very end of the age!” Matthew 28:20

The path in front of me may be full of flowers–or full of thorns.
Or, as is more probable, flower and thorn may be mingled together.
The sky may be light–or dark.
The weather may be glorious summer–or bleakest winter.
But I go safely and happily, if the Lord Jesus, who can and will supply my every need, is with me all the days.

Some of the days will be days of discipline–of the pruning knife and the cleansing fire. But when He is with me, the discipline is a blessing, and not a curse. It teaches me . . .
to grasp His strong right hand with a tighter hold,
to pray more earnestly,
to find heights and depths of meaning in the promises of God,
to feel for others who are in tribulation.
Mind and heart and character are bettered by the endurance of affliction.

Many of the days, too, will be days of monotony. They must be spent in little things–household labors, common concerns, unnoticed toil. I may long for a more striking and romantic experience. But when He is with me, I know that He makes my life like His own–the blessed life He lived among carpenters’ tools, and village streets, and peasant people. The drudgery is a love-message–it is Jesus Christ in disguise!

Every day will be a day of temptation. In the home, in the business, in company, in loneliness–I shall encounter the devil’s subtle snares. But let my Lord be with me, and temptation will but reveal the closeness and blessedness of the tie. It will be an instrument which He uses to impart more maturity to my graces–more courage, more patience, more trust.

Perhaps one of the days will be the day of death. But if He does not leave or forsake me, then death will be an ingredient in the training that fits me for the glorious inheritance! As John Bunyan pictures it–I must cross the ‘River of Death’ to reach the ‘Celestial City’. Jesus did it Himself, and the disciple is not above the Master. His Everlasting Arms will sustain me in the flood; and, on the other side, I shall enter the ‘Beautiful Gate’ and see His face!

ALL the days He is with me–to the end, and through the end, and beyond the end forever and ever! Whether I live, therefore, or whether I die–I am His and He is mine!

Enough is Enough by Charles Swindoll

grace is enoughMatthew 6:25
Today’s devotional has one primary objective: to help you enjoy yourself, your life, and your Lord more . . . without feeling guilty or unspiritual. Yes, enjoy!
In our work-worshiping society, that is no small task. Many have cultivated such an unrealistic standard of high-level achievement that a neurotic compulsion to perform, to produce, to accomplish the maximum is now the rule rather than the exception. Enough is no longer enough.
Christians are not immune from stress fractures, especially vocational Christian workers. How many pastors or missionaries do you know who truly enjoy guilt-free leisure? How many Christian executives can you name who really take sufficient time to relax? On the other hand, how often have you heard someone boast about not having taken a vacation in several years? Or being too busy to have time to rest and repair?
Work is fast becoming the American Christian’s major source of identity. The answer to most of our problems (we are told) is “work harder.” And to add the ultimate pressure, “You aren’t really serving the Lord unless you consistently push yourself to the point of fatigue.” It’s the old burn-out-rather-than-rust-out line. Let’s go with a different rationale: not only, “It’s okay to relax,” but also, “It’s essential!” Without encouraging an irresponsible mentality, it says, “You can have fun and still be efficient.” In fact, you will be more efficient!