Saturday, August 18, 2018

If We Confess

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

Our Lord is determined to set us free from the bondage of sin and death, and He has prescribed the Blood of Jesus as the only substance able to accomplish His desire. The weight of sin on humanity was so powerful and pervasive, that the Father had to send His Son to pay the price and lift the awful burden of judgment and damnation off the shoulders of every man who would simply believe. You see, there is nothing unholy or unclean in heaven, nor shall there ever be. So, the Lord made provision for us in His Son, imputing His righteousness and holiness to us in exchange for our sin and sadness. Now, we can stand before a Heavenly Father who sees us wrapped in the grace and glory of His Son. This is the thought of God as it pertains to men and salvation, and there is no other thought, no other way, no other Gospel. Thank God for the profound, yet simple path to Life -- Jesus Christ.

Let's Pray - Dear Lord, thank You for every provision made for us by the shed blood and broken body of our Savior, Jesus Christ. May we never turn away from the powerful simplicity of the truth in Christ. There is truly no other way. Amen.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Patience and Perfection

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:4)

Before the Lord can use us to change things around us, He must first change us. God is doing a new thing in you, and “new” means something that has never been done before. The life of this new creature is not learned overnight. It is a beautiful and difficult work that only the Lord can accomplish, and He does that work according to His will, His Spirit, and His timing. So, be still and trust Him. Let Him have His way with you. He knows what He is doing.

The saint who "lacks nothing" is one who is filled with the Holy Spirit and the wisdom that prepares him for every situation and conversation. This preparation is a sovereign work of God that cannot and will not be done according to our efforts or desire; but the Lord employs times and seasons to accomplish His work, and His goals are higher than ours. We suppose God will move according to our prayers and desires, but that is not so. He will move according to His will, and by patience He will perfect our prayers and desires to agree with His. So, empty yourself today, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. That is what it means to be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  

Let's Pray - Father, have Your way in me. You are sovereign, and that means Your will is superior to mine. I humble myself in Your sight. Amen.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Discerning and Wise

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. (James 3:1)

We live in a time when many have taken it upon themselves to speak in the name of the Lord. The Bible warns us to be very careful and to judge these teachers by their works and their fruit. If we are filled with the Word, we will recognize the presence or absence of the Word in their teaching. If we are full of good works, we will recognize and rightly discern theirs. Yes, every Christian must be well equipped to wisely discern what we see and hear. Thank God for His Holy Spirit!

"Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:22-23)

It is a dangerous thing to read the warnings in Scripture and imagine they are spoken to others and not to us. Notice, the Lord says "many" who engage in ministry will be judged for deceiving themselves and others. God is not fooled or mocked, and the heart and works of every minister will be revealed on that Day for all to see. Those of us who preach the Gospel do well to heed these words and judge ourselves, so that we might not be judged.

Let's Pray - Dear Lord, we are saved by grace through faith, and we must minister by grace through faith. May every minister who calls on Your name examine himself or herself today. Wash us clean and set us free from all ambition and agenda. In Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Change Me, Lord

But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (Romans 14:10)

The first thing God must change in us is a judgmental attitude toward others. Are we more interested in being right than glorifying God? Our words become abrasive and harsh when we judge those He sent us to love and show grace. We can even convince ourselves we are glorifying Him, when we are only grieving Him by demanding our rights and defending our point of view. Truthfully, we only hear God clearly when we humble ourselves and stop insisting on winning the argument and having things our way. Forgive us, Lord!

Let's Pray Dear Lord, please forgive me for judging others and misrepresenting You. Give me Your heart for my fellow man and help me to see my brothers and sisters in the Lord as You see them. Amen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A Hard Place

So Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mountains, and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mountains of Gilead . . . (Genesis 31:25)

Then the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” So Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies. (Genesis 32:6-7)

Have you ever felt like Jacob, trapped between a rock and a hard place? And when you looked honestly at the situation, did you realize it was a bed of your own making? You can’t go back, because you’ve burned the bridge –- and you cannot go forward, because you burned that bridge, too. This is the time when we finally realize the error of meddling with the steps ordained for us, and that pursuing our agenda has brought on more difficulty than there had to be. Yet, here we are, once again –- between that rock and hard place. Hopefully, this is when we cry out to God and realize His faithfulness in spite of our failures. His calling is irrevocable, and His Word and His will stands. Jacob would finally realize this, as the Lord delivered Him time and again -- and he would eventually learn to trust, wait, and obey. Thanks be to God that He is patient with us, as He was with Jacob -- and His mercy is greater than our folly. 

Let's Pray - Dear Father, please do not leave me to my own devices. Deliver me from foolishness, and I will turn back to You, never to turn away again. Amen.    

Monday, August 13, 2018

Send Me, Lord

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

The holy pattern for God’s ministers is seen here. We must not simply go, but be sent –- for we cannot reveal the true and living God to others until we ourselves have seen Him and been sent by Him. We must not send ourselves, for it is not our interest we are representing, but His. Isaiah understood this, and he responded with a sincere purpose to go and to glorify the God he’d just seen. May it be the same for every one of us who wish to be known as servants of God. May we wait until we have seen, heard, and been sent by the Lord before we go.

There are three witnesses regarding every man or woman called to the ministry - the Lord Himself, the minster himself (or herself), and the elders of the church. This is the pattern set forth in the New Testament, and it is the third requirement that is most likely to be neglected. Many are convinced that God has called them to go out, and they go out on the strength of that conviction. However, there must also be a "laying on of hands," as men and women of stature in the church agree and consent to the minister's call and commission. That is a more complete picture of God's thought for those who seek to go out into vocational ministry today; and it is very important to heed and honor each step. Remember, it is much better to be sent than to just go!

Let's Pray - Lord, I am not only willing to go, but willing to wait until You send me. Give me the patience and wisdom necessary for Spirit-filled ministry. I desire to glorify You alone. Amen.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Do Not Grumble

Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. (James 5:9-11)

Certainly, we live in difficult times. But times have always been difficult, and they always will be, as long as we are pilgrims and strangers on earth. The Lord would have us to be examples and instruments of His grace and mercy in the midst of our circumstances, whatever they may be. That is what it means to be His witnesses. Can He trust you to represent Him well in the hard and dry season?

Endurance and perseverance are very precious attributes for the believer. They are so much more than the will to outlast our difficulties; they are a display of God's grace and mercy through those times. The saint who endures does so with a sweetness that defies the temptation to grouse and complain. Perseverance brings us through hardship with a joy we could not know otherwise, because we discover God is good and gracious, even when no one else is.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

Let's Pray - Father, I thank you for the sweet grace of patience and endurance. Your compassion and mercy are gifts to Your children, and we praise You for them. In Christ Jesus alone, Amen.