February 17, 2011 – Stanley

The Power of the Holy Spirit Luke 24:44-53

The principle we will explore today is basic but so powerful that it determines whether we experience victory in our lives.

You are probably familiar with the book The Little Engine That Could, in which a small engine keeps repeating the words “I think I can.” By using sheer willpower, she pulls an entire train over the mountain. That’s a nice children’s story, but the truth of the Christian life is very different. In the real world, our efforts and determination often fall short. Only by walking in the power of the Holy Spirit can the godly life be achieved.

Throughout the Old Testament, God’s Spirit would temporarily come upon saints for a particular work. However, after Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent the Spirit to dwell permanently within each believer. Consider what this means: If you’re a Christian, God is living inside of you, available to help all through life by providing guidance, comfort, and empowerment.

Obedience to Christ is too difficult for anyone relying on his own strength. And discerning what to do in every situation is far too complicated for a fleshly mind. For some reason, though, Christians often try to live life by depending on their own energy and reasoning. Defeat and failure are unavoidable without His power in our lives.

Do you recognize your need for the Lord? Begin each day confessing your dependence upon Him. Ask to be filled with His Spirit so that all you think, do, and say will be an overflow from Him. Then trust Him to work in mighty ways through you. Watch what almighty God can do.

February 17, 2011 – Begg

Dwelling in God’s Presence

Isaac settled at Beer-lahai-roi.

Genesis 25:11

Hagar had once found deliverance there, and Ishmael had drunk from the water so graciously revealed by the God who lives and sees the sons of men; but that was a merely casual visit, such as unbelievers pay to the Lord in times of need, when it suits them. They cry to Him in trouble but forsake Him in prosperity. Isaac dwelt there and made the well of the living and all-seeing God his constant source of supply.

The usual tenor of a man’s life, the dwelling of his soul, is the true test of his state. Perhaps the providential visitation experienced by Hagar struck Isaac’s mind and led him to revere the place. Its mystical name endeared it to him; his frequent musings at its brim at evening made him familiar with the well. Meeting Rebecca there had made his spirit feel at home near the spot; but best of all, the fact that there he enjoyed fellowship with the living God had made him select that hallowed ground for his dwelling.

Let us learn to live in the presence of the living God; let us ask the Holy Spirit that this day, and every other day, we may sense, “God, You see me.” May the Lord be as a well to us, delightful, comforting, unfailing, springing up unto eternal life. The bottle of the creature cracks and dries up, but the well of the Creator never fails; happy is he who dwells at the well and as a result has abundant and constant supplies at hand.

The Lord has been a sure helper to others: His name is Shaddai, God All-sufficient. Our hearts have often had most delightful communion with Him; through Him our soul has found her glorious Husband, the Lord Jesus; and in Him this day we live and move and have our being. Let us, then, dwell in closest fellowship with Him. Glorious Lord, constrain us, that we may never leave You but dwell by the well of the living God.

February 16, 2011 – Stanley

The Touch That Transforms Matthew 19:13-15

There are many types of touch—such as the encouraging pat on the back, the comforting hug, and a parent’s loving squeeze. Each conveys something unique and can communicate powerfully.

No matter what the situation was, Jesus knew just how to touch people—sometimes with His hand but always with His heart. Consider how lives were affected by coming in contact with Him. For instance, in today’s reading, Jesus called the children to Himself, placed His hand upon those little ones, and blessed them.

With His physical touch, the Savior also cured many illnesses. Peter’s mother-in-law was immediately better when Jesus placed His hand on hers (Matt. 8:14-15). Later, when soldiers and religious leaders came to arrest Christ, Peter struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his ear. The Lord, however, lovingly reached out and healed the injury (Luke 22:50-51).

Other times, Jesus used words to impact people. For example, when He told Lazarus to come out of the grave, the dead man arose (John 11:43-44). Christ also healed a paralytic by speaking to him (Matt. 9:6). And the Samaritan woman’s life was transformed through a mere conversation with the Savior (John 4:7-29). She felt His heart even though there was no physical touch.

God touches us today as well. We can’t experience Him physically hugging us or placing a hand of blessing upon our heads, but His Word, His Spirit, and His truth move us in the depths of our being. Jesus feels our pain and moves us, giving us salvation and transforming our lives.

February 16, 2011 – Begg

The College of Contentment

For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

Philippians 4:11

These words show us that contentment is not a natural propensity of man. Weeds grow easily. Covetousness, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil. We do not need to sow thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth. And so we do not need to teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education.

But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. In order to have wheat, we must plow and sow; if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care.

Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated; it will not grow in us by nature. It is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be specially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace that God has sown in us. Paul says, “I have learned . . . to be content,” as much as to say he did not know how at one time. It cost him some pains to discover that great truth. No doubt he sometimes thought he had learned, and then broke down. And when at last he had attained to it and could say, “I have learned in whatsoever situation I am to be content,” he was an old, gray-headed man, upon the borders of the grave–a poor prisoner shut up in Nero’s dungeon at Rome.

We might well be willing to endure Paul’s infirmities and share the cold dungeon with him, if we also might by some means attain to his good stature. Do not indulge the notion that you can be contented with learning or learn without discipline. It is not a power that may be exercised naturally but a science to be acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Christian, hush that murmur, even though it is natural, and continue as a diligent pupil in the College of Contentment.