Sorry… no devotional today; but, we’ll be back online tomorrow!
≈ Devotional for Tuesday, July 15, 2008
“Epitome of Change”
“My dear brothers and sisters, don't let anyone fool you.Every good and perfect gift is from God.It comes down from the Father.He created the heavenly lights.He does not change like shadows that move.God chose to give us new birth through the message of truth.He wanted us to be the first and best of everything he created.”
(James 1:16-18; New International Reader's Version)
The election season is upon us and the political buzz-word this cycle is change.Whether you’ve experienced a little or a lot of life, you know that change is inevitable. This year has been fraught with several personal adjustments in my life and change came and will do so again.
It takes but a moment to realize how fragile and yet precious our lives are.We can balance on an emotional tightrope and it, along with our physical health, or the health of those we love can change in an instant.We just need to live long enough…
But, God has been steadfast and HIS presence continues to carry me through.As Marvin Sapp sings in “Never Would Have Made It”--
“I never would have made it, I never could have made it without You, I would have lost it all, but now I see how You were there for me!”
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I acknowledge I NEVER would have made it without YOU!!!I am delicate as the petals on the rose bush that still stands proudly against the raging winds of life.I’ve been pruned despite my thorns, but make way for my new growth after a dormant season…
I am stronger and wiser because You allowed me to walk through the fire… blossoming once again into what You say I am and not how the world chooses to see me.You are my deliverer and I am humbled.
While I may have been resistant to change, Your gift of truth and love ignites my soul.
Help me become the epitome of change.
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, July 16, 2008
"The Key to Forgiveness"
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace..." (John 16:33)
(The names in this true story have been changed.)
With deep remorse, Ron shared his story about deserting his former wife and daughter.I saw him as a devoted husband and father, and a faithful church member.However, twenty years before I knew him, and before he knew Jesus, drinking and youthful rage contributed to his story of abandonment.Now he wanted to apologize and seek forgiveness for his behavior.Ron asked me to find his daughter who was now a senior at a large university.
Within a few hours, I was talking with Angie at her dormitory and relayed her father's message of remorse.Her anger was no surprise, but I was disappointed that she was unwilling to speak with her dad.She alone held the key to forgiveness, but would not open the door for Ron to find peace in his heart for the wrongs he had committed.
During the final hours of Jesus' life, He told His disciples that they would desert Him and scatter back to their homes.His harsh words broke their unbelieving hearts and they denied it would ever happen.Simon became indignant and bragged that he would never leave his beloved Master.
Jesus was facing his darkest hour as He marched toward the crucifixion.But in this brief moment, He set His own needs and concerns aside and focused upon His disciples.Knowing that they would be unable stand up to the test... knowing that they would abandon Him, He said to them, "When you look back at this moment and realize what you have done, I want you to know that I am not alone.My Father is with Me.Don't beat yourselves up because you deserted.I forgive you and I pray that you will find peace in Me."
Beloved, if you hold the key to forgiveness over someone because of what they did to you, I urge you to let them find peace in you.If another person has carried a burden because of something they have done to you, go to them and allow them to find resolution.It has been long enough.Help them to find peace.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, unlike Peter, I cannot even brag that I will never desert You.Yet, there You stand with open arms, waiting to embrace me again and again.O, my Lord and my God... forgive me, and wipe away my tears of remorse.Place my feet on stable ground and grant that I will never again turn my back upon You.Amen and amen.
Bereanism: The Christian version of “I’ll get back to you"
Someone recently suggested that I might, from time to time, be just a tiny bit obstinate.If you knew me, you’d just smile and say, “That’s our Ron.” Ok, I’ll admit it; but, it could have something to do with working for almost 40 years as an engineer/physicist - people whose job is to do things that have never been done before sometimes tend to get a little "headstrong."
It might also have something to do with an extreme passion for the Word and for our Lord Jesus.
Engineers look at every situation from as many different perspectives as possible trying to find any flaws or defects.They put products through unbelievable tests trying to find any hidden weakness that could cause failure sometime in the future or under some unforeseen circumstance.They call it FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis).
Christians should use a similar process when examining situations, doctrines, or views that purportedly expounds on Scripture.We should look at every position and every doctrine for any possible deviation from the Word – any hidden error that could cause us to stumble in the future.Perhaps we could call this practice "Bereanism."
Luke recorded an interesting comment about the Bereans in Acts 17:11…
“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
They knew who Paul was – they knew he was an Apostle; but, nonetheless, they compared his words to the words of Scripture before they accepted anything he said.And, they didn’t just do it once, they did it every day.Now that’s Bereanism any engineer would be proud of!
Brothers and sisters, God gave us His Holy Word to keep us from being led astray by false teachers.But, that Word cannot keep us on the right path unless, like the Bereans, we study it every day and always let the Word be the standard by which everything else is measured.You may not be an engineer or a physicist; but, you can sure be a Berean.Just open His Word…
"…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
The guest list for Simon's party included his fellow Pharisees, and the upstart from Nazareth who was causing a stir among the Jews in town.Jesus had been making alarming claims about being the Messiah and, what was worse, He was backing it up with miracles that only someone like Jehovah could perform.
At the feast, Jesus was given the preferred place to sit so everyone could hear Him teach.On this occasion a woman came, known by reputation and appearance to be a prostitute, wearing her hair unbound, a sign of her despicable profession.She may well have heard him preach in the streets that wonderful burden-lifting message:"Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."Her struggle in her own conscience had been enough to crush the life out, and she was resolved to see Him.To brave the ridicule of being in the presence of these men was worth it.She slipped through the curtains at the entrance and saw Him reclining at the banquet table in the house of the Pharisee.She stood behind the Prophet, holding a jar of expensive perfume in her trembling hands, and listened to the words that offered redemption and freedom from her life of torment.
She stood weeping because of her wicked life, brought home to her the more by hearing the gracious words of Jesus.She also met the icy scowl of Simon:"What is she doing here?"Ashamed, repentant and grieved, she bent over to hide her confusion, and as she did a shower of tears fell upon Jesus' feet.As if in apology and having no cloth, she began to wipe the tears from His feet with the long tresses of her hair.Among the Jews it was a shameful thing for a woman to let down her hair in public, but she made this sacrifice on this night.
The woman recognized her debt.She turned to Jesus and demonstrated the genuineness of her faith by pouring out gifts of love on Him.Christ received her gifts because they sprang from her heart.Then he turned to her and declared, "Your sins are forgiven."
Beloved, that same Messenger of Reconciliation and Peace is speaking to you now.No longer allow the sins of yesterday to hold you captive, but come to the banquet table of Jesus.He awaits your confession, ready to utter those precious words anew:"Your sins are forgiven."(Excerpts from: The Words and Works of Jesus Christ, J. Dwight Pentecost.)
GospeLines Prayer:Father, deliver me from unnecessary judgment, unrighteous condemnation, and unholy confrontation.I surrender my critical eye and haughty spirit to You.Replace it with a love for the down-and-out as well as the up-and-coming; show me that the sin of the streets is no more or less punishable than the sin from the pews.Amen and amen.