June 16, 2010 – Stanley

Ignoring the Conscience 1 Timothy 1:18-19; 4:1-2

Are you making certain choices today that your conscience would not have allowed in the past? If that’s the case, you may have become desensitized over time. This is a dangerous place to be.

As we discussed yesterday, God uses our internal “moral compass” along with the Holy Spirit’s guidance to direct our daily choices. The conscience serves as an “alarm system,” intervening when a Christian is about to take part in ungodly behavior. In that way, it offers protection. But sin can throw off the system’s sensitivity.

The insidious process begins if we choose to disobey and then refuse to deal with our rebellion. The conscience warns us repeatedly, but it will eventually become “gummed up” and ineffective if we persist in ignoring the distress signal. When that happens, there are no longer any signals from the heart to point us back toward godliness. In other words, the conscience has become seared.

This situation is akin to removing all traffic lights from a busy intersection: it is a recipe for disaster. If you are at this place, get on your knees and repent, immersing yourself in God’s Word and bathing your life in prayer. Pursue accountability and fellowship with other believers. A healthy conscience is worth the effort.

Are your internal signals in good working order, or have they become muffled? Don’t delay. Scripture warns us that we have a real Enemy who desires to lure us away from godliness and into destruction. God uses a clear conscience to guide, protect, and lead us into His light and peace.

June 16, 2010 – Begg

Light in Our Darkness

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalms 27:1

The LORD is my light and my salvation.” Here is personal interest: “my light,” “my salvation“; the soul is assured of it, and therefore declares it boldly. Into the soul at the new birth, divine light is poured as the forerunner of salvation; where there is not enough light to reveal our own darkness and to make us long for the Lord Jesus, there is no evidence of salvation.

After conversion our God is our joy, comfort, guide, teacher, and in every sense our light: He is light within us, light around us, light reflected from us, and light to be revealed to us. Note, it does not just say that the Lord gives light, but that He is light; nor that He gives salvation, but that He is salvation; so, then, whoever by faith has laid hold upon God has all the covenant blessings in their possession. Once this fact is assured, the deduction from it is put in the form of a question, “Whom shall I fear?” A question that is its own answer. The powers of darkness are not to be feared, for the Lord, our light, destroys them; and we need not dread the damnation of hell, for the Lord is our salvation.

This is a very different challenge from that of boastful Goliath, for it rests not upon the conceited vigor of human strength, but upon the real power of the omnipotent I AM. “The LORD is the stronghold of my life.” Here is a third glowing quality showing that the writer’s hope was fastened with a threefold cord that could not be broken. It is no surprise that we accumulate terms of praise where the Lord lavishes deeds of grace.

Our life derives all its strength from God; and if He deigns to make us strong, we cannot be weakened by all the cunning movements of our adversary. “Whom shall I fear?” The bold question looks into the future as well as the present. “If God is for us, who can be against us,”1 either now or in time to come?

1 Romans 8:31

June 15, 2010 – Stanley

A Clear Conscience Acts 24:10-16

When facing hard decisions, do you pay attention to your conscience? And is it necessarily wise to trust this inner voice?

God gave everyone an internal “moral compass.” In fact, reflecting His truth within all men is one way that He reveals Himself to mankind. The conscience is a divine alarm system that warns us of oncoming danger or consequences. Its primary purpose is godly protection and guidance.

But sin warps perception and can lead us astray. So it’s important to understand the difference between following your heart and allowing a clear conscience to help with decisions. To make a determination, ask, What is the greatest influence on my morality? If the world’s system of what is acceptable has infiltrated your heart, then your conscience cannot be trusted. But if you have allowed God’s Word to permeate and transform your thinking (Rom. 12:2), that inner voice is likely trustworthy.

The Holy Spirit, along with a divinely informed conscience, guides believers. In order to maintain a healthy internal compass, we should continually meditate on Scripture. The Ten Commandments are a solid basis for morality, and we are wise to internalize them—especially the two Jesus highlighted: to love God above all else and to love others (Matt. 22:36-40).

What would you say has the greatest impact on your belief system? Is it the truth of Scripture? Or do the world’s standards of right and wrong infect your heart? Almighty God knows what is best for you, His child—and He gave you a conscience to aid in making wise decisions.

June 15, 2010 – Begg

He Sets an Open Door

. . . Who opens and no one will shut.

Revelation 3:7

Jesus is the keeper of the gates of paradise, and before every believing soul He sets an open door, which no man or devil will be able to close. What joy it will be to find that faith in Him is the golden key to the everlasting doors. My soul, do you carry this key close to you, or are you trusting in some dishonest locksmith who will fail you in the end?

Pay attention to a parable of the preacher, and remember it. The great King has made a banquet, and He has proclaimed to all the world that no one will enter except those who bring with them the fairest flower that blooms. The spirits of men advance to the gate by thousands, and each one brings the flower that he esteems the queen of the garden; but in crowds they are driven from the royal presence and do not enter into the festive halls. Some are carrying the poisonous plant of superstition, others the flaunting poppies of empty religion, and some the hemlock of self-righteousness; but these are not precious to the King, and so those carrying them are shut out of the pearly gates.

My soul, have you gathered the rose of Sharon? Do you wear the lily of the valley on your lapel constantly? If so, when you arrive at the gates of heaven you will know its value, for you only have to show this choicest of flowers, and the Porter will open and without a moment’s delay, for to that rose the Porter always opens. You will find your way with the rose of Sharon in your hand up to the throne of God Himself, for heaven itself possesses nothing that excels its radiant beauty, and of all the flowers that bloom in paradise, none of them can rival the lily of the valley. My soul, get Calvary’s blood-red rose into your hand by faith, by love wear it, by communion preserve it, by daily watchfulness make it your all in all, and you will be blessed beyond all bliss, happy beyond a dream. Jesus, be mine forever, my God, my heaven, my all.

June 14, 2010 – Stanley

The Privilege Corrupted Romans 1:21-34

God has revealed Himself to mankind and provided all that is necessary for a relationship with Him. Yet many people foolishly refuse His offer.

By choosing to live without God, a person will spiral downward into sin and a skewed understanding about the truth that’s evident all around. As ignorance overpowers the capacity for intelligent understanding, an ever-darkening heart develops. The individual hungers for something to fill his emptiness but fails to recognize that only the Lord can satisfy his longing.

Desiring to fill his spiritual void, the person will look for an idol to worship. It won’t be a statue of wood or gold, but rather something on which to focus his affections. “Idols” occupy a person’s passion, time, and energy; in today’s world, they often take the form of money, prominence, and relationships. The “worshiper” begins to indulge in earthly pleasures and desires. Yet nothing can satisfy the emptiness. Eventually, as Romans 1:28 makes clear, the Lord will turn him over to a depraved mind—one that can no longer make right judgments.

Remember, the heavenly Father desires a relationship with us. He even gave His own Son to make this possible. It is man who rejects Him and begins the journey toward godlessness and emptiness.

Look around; notice the manifold evidence that points to a holy, loving God who desires an intimate friendship with you. Don’t put off accepting His offer of relationship—the consequences of rejection are far too dangerous, and the benefits of saying yes are beyond what you can imagine (Eph. 3:20).

June 14, 2010 – Begg

Lie Low Before the Throne

To us, O Lord, belongs open shame . . . Because we have sinned against you.

Daniel 9:8

A deep sense and clear view of sin, its dreadfulness, and the punishment that it deserves should make us lie low before the throne. We have sinned as Christians. It is sad that it should be so. We have been favored, and yet we have been ungrateful; privileged beyond most, but we have not brought forth fruit in proportion. Who is there, although he may have been engaged in the Christian warfare for years, who will not blush when he looks back upon the past? As for our days before we were born again, may they be forgiven and forgotten; but since then, though we have not sinned as before, yet we have sinned against light and against love—light that has really penetrated our minds, and love in which we have rejoiced.

The sin of a pardoned soul is an atrocity! An unpardoned sinner sins cheaply compared with the sin of one of God’s elect, who has had communion with Christ and leaned upon Him for his comfort. Look at David! Many will talk of his sin, but I ask you to look at his repentance and hear his broken bones as each one of them moans out its mournful confession! Consider his tears as they fall upon the ground, and the deep sighs with which he accompanies the softened music of his harp!

We have strayed: Let us, therefore, seek the spirit of penitence. Look again at Peter! We often speak of how he denied Christ. Remember, it is written, “He wept bitterly.” Do we have no denials of our Lord to be lamented with tears? These sins of ours, before and after conversion, would consign us to the place of inextinguishable fire if it were not for God’s sovereign mercy, which snatched us like sticks from the fire.

My soul, bow down under a sense of your natural sinfulness, and worship your God. Admire the grace that saves you—the mercy that spares you—the love that pardons you!

June 12, 2010 – Stanley

The Privilege of Knowing God Psalm 19:1-6

There is no greater privilege than knowing God—and no greater tragedy than failing to develop a relationship with Him. Yet many people live their whole life apart from Jesus, and, therefore, when they die, they are separated from Him eternally.

While on earth, both the righteous and unrighteous enjoy benefits of divine blessing (Matt. 5:45), so those who choose to live without Christ probably have no clue how dreadful a godless eternity will be. Some people seem to ignore the Bible’s warnings about “outer darkness,” “weeping,” and “gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; Luke 13:28). Or is it possible they’ve simply never heard the good news of salvation?

Romans 1:18-20 answers that: Creation offers so much evidence of God that man is held accountable for unbelief. Consider nature’s design, beauty, and order—these things don’t just evolve.

What’s more, God reveals Himself in the human conscience (2:14-15). Even societies with no access to Scripture forbid ungodly behaviors like rape, murder, and theft.

In addition, we have God’s revelation of Himself through both His Word and the incarnation of Jesus (John 14:7-9). Christ, who was fully God, became fully man. And His life perfectly demonstrates the heavenly Father’s character and heart.

Can you recognize evidence of the Almighty in creation and in the “law” written on your conscience? Do you seek to know Him better through His Word and the example of Christ? The Lord desires a relationship with you and is calling. Answer with a seeking heart, and watch for God to “show up.”

June 12, 2010 – Begg

We Are Saved

. . . Who saved us and called us to a holy calling.

2 Timothy 1:9

The apostle uses the perfect tense and says, “who saved us.” Believers in Christ Jesus are saved. They are not looked upon as people who are in a hopeful state and may ultimately be saved, but they are already saved. Salvation is not a blessing to be enjoyed upon our dying bed and to be sung of in a future state above, but a matter to be obtained, received, promised, and enjoyed now.

The Christian is perfectly saved in God’s purpose; God has ordained him to salvation, and that purpose is complete. He is saved also as to the price that has been paid for him: “It is finished” was the cry of the Savior before He died. The believer is also perfectly saved in His covenant Head, for as he fell in Adam, so he lives in Christ.

This complete salvation is accompanied by a holy calling. Those whom the Savior saved upon the cross are in due time effectually called by the power of God the Holy Spirit to holiness: They leave their sins; they endeavor to be like Christ; they choose holiness, not out of any compulsion, but from the power of a new nature, which leads them to rejoice in holiness just as naturally as when previously they delighted in sin. God neither chose them nor called them because they were holy, but He called them that they might be holy, and holiness is the beauty produced by His workmanship in them.

The excellencies that we see in a believer are as much the work of God as the Atonement itself. In this way the fullness of the grace of God is beautifully displayed. Salvation must be of grace, because the Lord is the author of it: And what motive but grace could move Him to save the guilty? Salvation must be of grace because the Lord works in such a manner that our righteousness is forever excluded. Such is the believer’s privilege—a present salvation; such is the evidence that he is called to it—a holy life

June 11, 2010 – Stanley

Strength for the Lonely Isaiah 41:9-11

Loneliness is one of man’s most painful and feared emotions. Many people consider isolation, disconnectedness, and abandonment excruciating—especially during periods of crisis. Because Paul knew what it felt like to be deserted, his life and letters offer encouragement for such difficult times. As we saw yesterday, the apostle was motivated by the presence of Christ. Now let’s look at what fueled His courage.

First, Paul experienced the strength of God. He wrote, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Often, the Lord allows us to come to the end of our ability so that we see His hand. Otherwise, we’d attribute success to our own doing. For example, the apostle was facing possible death charges in court, and it must have been tempting to water down the truth in order to save his own life. But God enabled him to be forthright in proclaiming again the gospel of Jesus Christ—fearlessly, boldly, and effectively.

Second, Paul knew he was fulfilling God’s will, so he didn’t compromise, even in the face of death. Instead, the apostle found satisfaction, energy, and overwhelming joy because he was obedient to the call on his life. The believer’s reality is bigger than the “seen”—bigger than the imminent moment. So obeying Christ is our goal and our joy.

Remember, even in painful circumstances, three truths are certain: Jesus stands with us; He strengthens us for whatever task God wants us to accomplish; and He will enable us to fulfill God’s purpose till our final breath. Be comforted and encouraged by these promises of the living Lord.

June 11, 2010 – Begg

No Condemnation

There he broke the flashing arrows, the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.

Psalms 76:3

Our Redeemer’s glorious cry of “It is finished” was the death-knell of all the adversaries of His people, the breaking of “the weapons of war.” Behold the hero of Golgotha using His cross as an anvil, and His wounds as a hammer, dashing to pieces bundle after bundle of our sins, those poisoned “flashing arrows,” trampling on every indictment and destroying every accusation. What glorious blows the mighty Breaker gives with a hammer far more powerful than the fabled weapon of Thor! How the diabolical darts break in pieces, and the infernal swords are broken like old clay pots! Consider how He draws from its sheath of hellish workmanship the dreadful sword of satanic power! He snaps it across His knee as a man breaks dry sticks and throws it into the fire.

Beloved, no sin of a believer can now be an arrow bringing death, no condemnation can now be a sword to kill him, for the punishment of our sin was borne by Christ, and a full atonement was made for all our iniquities by our blessed Substitute and Surety. Who now accuses? Who now condemns? Christ has died, yes, has risen again. Jesus has removed the weapons of hell, has quenched every fiery dart, and has broken the head off every arrow of wrath; the ground is covered with the splinters and relics of the weapons of hell’s warfare, which are only visible to us to remind us of our former danger and of our great deliverance.

Sin no longer has dominion over us. Jesus has made an end of it and put it away forever. Our enemy’s destructions have come to a perpetual end. Declare all the wonderful works of the Lord, all you who make mention of His name; do not be silent, neither by day, nor when the sun goes down. Bless the Lord, O my soul.

June 10, 2010 – Stanley

Courage in the Lonely Hour 2 Timothy 4:6-18

Today’s passage captures a painful time in the life of Paul the apostle. As he sat in a prison cell, he knew that death was imminent. He had devoted the last years to teaching, training, and winning souls for Christ, but he now stood alone, unsupported during his trial and time in jail. Loneliness must have felt overwhelming.

Paul felt abandoned, yet he didn’t blame anyone or pity himself. Instead, he met the suffering with courage. What motivated him to stand with strength during this trying time?

For the apostle, an awareness of Christ’s presence gave comfort and motivated him to persevere. Having a copy of Scripture in his cell no doubt encouraged him in this way (2 Tim. 4:13). And he not only knew God was right there with him in the current moment; he also recalled earlier times when the Lord had intervened. For instance, years before, Paul had had a vision telling him not to fear during a storm on the sea. And though the ship ran aground, all of the men survived (Acts 27:22-24).

For those of us who know Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, strength is readily available in His intimate presence. Our heavenly Father promises that He will never abandon His children—even when everyone else has left.

Have your circumstances left you feeling lonely? Remember times when God was evident to you—when He clearly revealed His hand in your life. And read His Word so that the truth of His presence can comfort and encourage you. As a believer, you are truly never alone.

June 10, 2010 – Begg

Christ at the Center

It is they that bear witness about me.

John 5:39

Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega of the Bible. He is the constant theme of its sacred pages; from beginning to end they bear witness to Him. At the creation we immediately recognize Him as one of the sacred Trinity; we catch a glimpse of Him in the promise of the woman’s seed; we see Him pictured in the ark of Noah; we walk with Abraham as He sees Messiah’s day; we live in the tents of Isaac and Jacob, feeding upon the gracious promise; and in the numerous types of the law, we find the Redeemer abundantly foreshadowed. Prophets and kings, priests and preachers all look one way—they all stand as the cherubs did over the ark, desiring to look within and to read the mystery of God’s great propitiation. Even more obvious in the New Testament we discover that Jesus is the one pervading subject.

It is not that He is mentioned every so often or that we can find Him in the shadows; no, the whole substance of the New Testament is Jesus crucified, and even its closing sentence sparkles with the Redeemer’s name. We should always read Scripture in this light; we should consider the Word to be like a mirror into which Christ looks down from heaven; and then we, looking into it, see His face reflected—darkly, it is true, but still in such a way as to be a blessed preparation for one day seeing Him face to face.

The New Testament contains Jesus Christ’s letters to us, which are perfumed by His love. These pages are like the garments of our King, and they all bear His fragrance. Scripture is the royal chariot in which Jesus rides, and it is paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem. The Scriptures are like the swaddling clothes of the holy child Jesus; unroll them, and there you find your Savior. The essence of the Word of God is Christ.

June 9, 2010 – Stanley

Open Up to Others 2 Corinthians 6:11-13

Social networking is big business. Things like Facebook, e-mail, and texting reveal our hunger to connect with one another, yet many people still feel lonely. The fall of Adam and Eve usually brings to mind the disconnection that sin created between God and mankind, but it also affected all human relationships from that time onward. As a result, fear and pride threaten to keep us in bondage to isolation and self-protection.

Surprisingly, many homes, workplaces, and churches are gatherings of strangers. Even husbands and wives can live in the same house without really knowing each other. Being able to list many facts about those we live and work with is not the same as really knowing them. To some degree, whether we are known by others is our responsibility. Even the friendliest person may not be able to penetrate someone else’s self-erected walls. To be known, we must risk opening up and letting others in.

Paul pled with the Corinthians to open up to him as he had to them. Because they’d built emotional walls, their relation-ship with him and their effectiveness as a church were hindered. Of all people, believers are called to live in open honesty and accountability with one another. We cannot shut everybody out and expect to have an open relationship with God.

Relational walls can be hard to recognize. Unforgiveness, a sense of unworthiness, and fear of rejection are common reasons for self-protective barriers. Ask God to reveal any ways that you’re shutting someone out. He will help you demolish all hindrances to your relationship with Him and others.

June 9, 2010 – Begg

Hunt for Truth

Search the Scriptures.

John 5:39

The Greek word translated search signifies a strict, close, diligent, curious search, the kind men make when they are seeking gold, or hunters when they are in pursuit of game. We must not be content with giving a superficial glance to one or two chapters, but with the candle of the Spirit we must deliberately seek out the meaning of the Word.

Holy Scripture requires searching—much of it can only be learned by careful study. There is milk for babies, but also meat for strong men. The rabbis wisely say that a mountain of matter hangs upon every word, indeed, upon every title of Scripture. Tertullian declared, “I adore the fullness of the Scriptures.” The person who merely skims the Book of God will not profit from it; we must dig and mine until we obtain the treasure. The door of the Word only opens to the key of diligence. The Scriptures demand to be searched. They are the writings of God, bearing the divine stamp and imprimatur—who shall dare to treat them casually? To despise them is to despise the God who wrote them.

God forbid that any of us should allow our Bibles to become witnesses against us in the great day of account. The Word of God will repay searching. God does not ask us to sift through a mountain of chaff with only here and there a grain of wheat in it, but the Bible is sifted corn—we have only to open the granary door and find it. Scripture grows upon the student.

It is full of surprises. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to the searching eye, it glows with splendor of revelation, like a vast temple paved with gold and roofed with rubies, emeralds, and all manner of gems. There is no merchandise like the merchandise of scriptural truth. Finally, the Scriptures reveal Jesus: “They that bear witness about me.” No more powerful motive can be urged upon Bible readers than this: He who finds Jesus finds life, heaven, and all things. Happy are they who, in searching the Bible, discover their Savior.

United States of America update

A few days ago we remembered D-day and next month we will be having the 4th of July celebrations. I came across a video clip that reminded me about how our national anthem has four verses and I wanted to share it with you so that you would be able to think about the words and their importance. There is nothing wrong about being patriotic, no mater what our stupid leaders in government say.

The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics  By Francis Scott Key 1814

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

I hope you enjoy this guy as much as I did and just because he is a regular guy. He isn’t perfect, like us he makes mistakes. The second verse he is talking about is really the fourth, which really makes this all the more real and heartfelt to me.

watch?v=I0fQd858cRc&feature=player_embedded

June 8, 2010 – Stanley

God’s Grace and Our Finances Proverbs 3:9-10

If you knew that something you desired could destroy your life, would you keep chasing after it? The Bible warns about a certain kind of pursuit that can cause one to:

  • Fall into sin.
  • Be mastered by foolish wishes.
  • Engage in activities that erode character.
  • Plunge into moral ruin.
  • Wander from faith.

In spite of these dire warnings, many people are ruled by a longing to get rich.

There is nothing wrong with being affluent so long as we follow God’s rules for wise living. Specifically, we are to honor Him with our money (Prov. 3:9), which includes acknowledging that He is the rightful owner and giving it cheerfully (Ps. 50:10; 2 Cor. 9:7). The desire for riches becomes a sin when accumulation is among our highest priorities. In that case, the god we serve is treasure.

Believers are to live by grace in every aspect of their lives, including finances. That means we surrender wages, portfolio, and charitable giving into God’s hands. Furthermore, we accept what He gives as enough, even when the bank account seems low by the world’s standards. He has promised to supply our needs, so we’re to regard financial gains and losses as part of His will and plan.

I am not preaching a so-called “prosperity gospel,” wherein godly people are rewarded with riches. Poverty and tough times are as common to believers as to unbelievers. However, the Bible promises that if we live by God’s grace, He will provide amply for whatever we need (2 Cor. 9:8).

June 8, 2010 – Begg

Look to the Creator

Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.

Numbers 11:23

God had made a positive promise to Moses that for the space of a whole month He would feed the vast company in the wilderness with meat. Moses is then overtaken by a fit of unbelief, looks to the outward means, and is at a loss to know how the promise can be fulfilled. He looked to the creature instead of the Creator. But does the Creator expect the creature to fulfill His promise for Him? No; He who makes the promise always fulfills it by His own unaided omnipotence. If He speaks, it is done—done by Himself. His promises do not depend for their fulfillment upon the cooperation of the puny strength of man. We can immediately see the mistake that Moses made. And yet how routinely we do the same!

God has promised to supply our needs, and we look to the creature to do what God has promised to do; and then, because we perceive the creature to be weak and feeble, we indulge in unbelief. Why do we look in that direction at all? Will you look to the North Pole to gather fruits ripened in the sun? You would be acting no more foolishly in doing this than when you look to the weak for strength, and to the creature to do the Creator’s work. Let us, then, put the question on the right footing. The ground of faith is not the sufficiency of the visible means for the performance of the promise, but the all-sufficiency of the invisible God, who will definitely do what He has said.

If after clearly seeing that the onus lies with the Lord and not with the creature we dare to indulge in mistrust, the question of God comes home forcefully to us: “Is the LORD’s hand shortened?” May it also be that in His mercy the question will be accompanied by this blessed declaration: “Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.”

June 7, 2010 – Stanley

A Cheerful Giver 2 Corinthians 9:6-12

God loves a cheerful giver because He Himself is one. He wants the bounty that He pours out on His children to overflow toward others. Sadly, many people treat their wealth more like a personal reservoir than a divine channel.

The reservoir mentality treats wealth as a means to provide solely for one’s own family, goals, and desires; money for God’s work is given reluctantly. The stingy person figures that as long as he offers something, it shouldn’t matter that he’d rather not. However, attitude is vital. To God, the state of a believer’s heart is more important than his or her actions (Hos. 6:6). Lukewarm giving is a signal that we aren’t fully engaged in seeing the Lord’s work done. We’d rather ensure our own security.

What surprises the tightfisted believer is that God does not fill a reservoir. Even people who appear affluent never feel that they have enough. True contentment comes with accepting that our wealth—however limited—belongs to the Lord and is sufficient for our needs. As soon as we understand that, our reservoir bursts its banks to become part of God’s divine channel. As He pours in, we cheerfully pour out with full confidence that He will provide for both our needs and our gifts.

The Lord’s ultimate plan does not include making all of His children prosperous. His purpose is to make every one of us generous with all that we have—wealth, compassion, knowledge, etc. Cheerful giving is courageous giving because we have to trust that the Lord will provide.

June 7, 2010 – Begg

Be Filled with Zeal

Revelation 3:19

If you want to see souls converted, if you want to hear the cry that “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord,”1 if you want to place crowns upon the head of the Savior and see His throne lifted high, then be filled with zeal. For under God, the way the world will be converted is by the zeal of the church. Every element of grace will do its work, but zeal will be first; prudence, knowledge, patience, and courage will follow in their places, but zeal must lead the charge. It is not the extent of your knowledge, though that is useful, it is not the extent of your talent, though that is not to be despised, it is your zeal that will do great exploits.

This zeal is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: It draws its vital force from the continued operations of the Holy Spirit in the soul. If our inner life dwindles, if our heart beats slowly before God, we will not know zeal; but if everything inside is strong and vigorous, then we cannot but feel a loving urgency to see Christ’s kingdom come, and His will done on earth, even as it is in heaven.

A deep sense of gratitude will nourish Christian zeal. When we reflect on the miry pit from which we were lifted, we find plenty of reason for spending ourselves for God. And zeal is also stimulated by the thought of the eternal future. It looks with tearful eyes down to the flames of hell, and it cannot sleep: It looks up with anxious gaze to the glories of heaven, and it cannot stay still. It feels that time is short compared with the work to be done, and therefore it devotes all that it has to the cause of its Lord. And it is continually strengthened by remembering Christ’s example. He was clothed with zeal as with a cloak. How swift the chariot-wheels of duty went with Him! He never loitered on the way. Let us prove that we are His disciples by displaying the same spirit of zeal.

1Revelation 11:15

June 5, 2010 – Stanley

Healing for Inferiority Ephesians 3:14-21

The world bombards us with messages that nourish feelings of inferiority. Happiness and satisfaction are promised if we will only drive the latest car, wear the newest styles, or build up those muscles while losing unsightly pounds. If we do not guard against the onslaught of commercialism, it will drive the truth of God from our minds, and we will pursue a fruitless search for adequacy and value.

So often we look at externals to prove to ourselves and others that we’re valuable. Or we think, If only I were better-looking, richer, or smarter, I would be accepted and esteemed. It’s not wise to let others’ opinions and standards determine our feelings about ourselves; the only accurate assessment of our worth comes from looking into the eyes of the One who loved us enough to die in our place.

Paul told his readers that true significance comes from knowing and understanding the full dimensions of God’s love for them. This knowledge is our anchor when feelings of worthlessness overwhelm or failures tempt us to berate ourselves and withdraw in defeat. Notice that the Lord doesn’t say He’ll give us all the qualities and possessions we think will overcome our sense of inferiority. Instead, He promises to strengthen us “in the inner man” (v. 16).

“God is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (v. 20), but His method is to work from the inside out, “according to the power that works within us.” If you struggle with feelings of inferiority, ask God to heal your soul by doing a great work within.

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