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Monday, October 9, 2017

MY BROTHER!

"The Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said: I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?" — Gen_4:9.

"He that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness." — 1Jn_2:11.

MAN'S FALL, whatever else it may have been, resulted in a complete change of the centre of his being. He was made in the likeness of God, and God's nature is absolutely selfless. God's will and purpose was the one rule of man's existence until the moment came when our first parents substituted the gratification of self for the will and law of God. From that hour the self-life became the dominant principle of mankind, and the world is what it is because the essence of life is the service of self.

We do not know what really caused the difference in the disposition of Cain and Abel. There are hints and suggestions, but the fundamental reason why these two brothers differed so is veiled in mystery, though the like of it still shows itself in our homes. St. John gives us the clue in his first Epistle, where he says that Cain slew his brother, because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.

God remonstrated with Cain and warned him that sin was lying at the door of his heart, waiting to enter. He exhorted him to watch and not allow it to intrude. When the dreadful deed was done, Cain found that all nature was in arms against him, and he became an outcast. The blood of Abel cried against Cain, for all sin cries to God, and He is the Avenger and Vindicator of wronged ones who in simplicity and faith have cast themselves upon Him. Thank God, also, there is a cry louder than that of Abel's, which pleads not for judgment but for mercy (Heb_12:24).

This world is full of envy, jealousy, strife, and murder, because men keep themselves instead of keeping their brothers; because our own instead of another's welfare revolves round the pivot of "I". The first Epistle of St. John is the antipode of this story in Genesis, and contains its corrective, for it is when we love God first and best that we love our brother, and as we open our whole soul to the tidal wave of God's love, we are lifted above the jagged rocks of the self-life into the broad full ocean of life which is life indeed (1Jn_3:14-17).

PRAYER
Our Father! Help us to consider the interests of others, and to act generously towards them, because we are Thy children, and Thy infinite resources are at our commands. AMEN.
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Monday, October 9, 2017

The Unflappable Champion

“He gathered up His courage and steeled Himself for the journey…” (Luk_9:51, The Message)

There are some things that require little effort, and yield small results. Many people content themselves to spend their days in just such trivial pursuit. Will you settle for being one of them?

F. W. Boreham wrote, “There is no intellectual stimulant so intoxicating as the formation of a noble purpose, the conception of a sudden resolve, the making of a great decision.”

Friends, we are partakers of an upward call, and so we strain constantly against the downward pull of lesser things. “I am doing a great work,” Nehemiah said, “why should the work stop while I come down to you?” (Neh_6:3). Thus did he silence those who tempted him to ease off from his quest.

The truly heroic moments in life demand something far more than a casual commitment. Christ Himself set his face to Jerusalem, and resolved to go the full length of God’s will. He gathered up His courage and steeled Himself for the journey. He was, and forever will be the Unflappable Champion. And we have been called to follow in His steps.

There is talk these days of vision. But vision is much more than a good idea that stirs the soul to temporary endeavors. Vision is the ability to see it, the faith to believe it, the courage to do it, and the hope to endure until it happens. Take any of these components away and vision fails. Each is vital, and indispensable.
has a way of summoning our hearts to rise to the calling God has placed on our lives. It also supplies us with the grace to pace ourselves to go the full distance, regardless of the difficulties that await us. Courage is the mental and moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.

The journey we have undertaken as followers of Christ demands all the courage we possess. It requires of us a steely, unwavering resolve to meet whatever seeks to delay us, defeat us, detour us, or deny us – to meet such things with a faith that says, “Nevertheless!” Courage is one of the distinguishing marks of true faith.

God’s Spirit has given us an ingrained capacity to face the strain and stress of faithfulness with fortitude, patience, and joy. Thus did Jesus walk up Calvary’s mountain one dreadful morn, and there face unflinching the dark trinity of Satan, Sin, and Death. And there, on a hill far away, our Lord did win a resounding victory. And, be sure of this one fact – He did it for you!

That victory is now yours. Lay claim to it by faith, and you, like Jesus, can gather up your courage and steel yourself for the journey of a lifetime.
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Monday, October 9, 2017

Growing in Grace through Living by Faith

Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith . . . For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." (Hab_2:4 and Rom_1:16-17)

In our four previous devotions on Jesus as our ultimate example, we concluded our series on "humility and grace" and began to consider "faith and grace." If we want to grow in the grace of God, we must live by faith, since faith accesses grace. "We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Rom_5:2).

Our present, initial verse also builds upon our earlier studies on humility, which was repeatedly contrasted with pride. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (Jas_4:6). Habakkuk was inspired of the Spirit to state the same truth in this form. "Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him." James contrasted pride with humility. Here, the prophet concluded his statement by contrasting pride with faith. The proud person is depending upon himself. The humble person is willing to depend upon the Lord. The humble person is the one who will be growing in the grace of God.

This simple proclamation of living by faith is so profound that it is repeated in three strategic epistles in the New Testament. The first mention is in Romans in connection with the gospel of grace. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." Paul was not embarrassed by the good news of the grace of God that was available in Jesus Christ. He knew that it was God's powerful truth that would save the soul of anyone (Jew or Gentile) who would believe in Christ. That message of grace offered God's righteousness to all who would believe. "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith." The same righteousness that the law demanded, the gospel of grace provided. "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe" (Rom_3:21-22).
The righteousness that people need (both for a standing in heaven and for a walk on earth) comes by grace through faith. Yes, initially and continually, "The just shall live by faith."

O righteous Lord, I praise You for the gift of Your righteousness, by grace through faith. My heart rejoices that I have a righteous standing before You in heaven above. My heart humbly cries out in faith for a daily impartation of that same righteousness in and through my life for a godly walk on earth below, through the grace of Christ, Amen.
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Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Unshakable Man

“Whoever does these things will never be shaken.” (Psa_15:5, God’s Word Translation)

As we saw in yesterday’s post, when your life is marked by personal integrity, relational faithfulness, moral strength, sacrificial dedication, and financial honesty – you may live in the Lord’s Presence forever. And furthermore, as we will see today, you have a rock solid promise that you can stand upon in the face of anything that comes your way. The Bible says, “Whoever does these things will never be shaken” (Psa_15:5).

In the Presence of the Lord you become the Unshakable Man; the Unshakable Woman.

In a day of flim-flam personalities, posturing politicians, fame-chasing ding-bats, pontificating preachers, and waffling masses caught in the whirl of a world turned upside down by policies and procedures dictated by idiots who are clueless of God – YOU can take a stand on the Solid Rock and be unshakable.
’t for a moment underestimate the value of your decision to do so.

Now more than ever before in our history, men and women of unshakable fiber are needed. Men and women whose word is true, whose lives are solid, whose character is commendable, and whose presence make a difference that matters…and that lasts.

I pray that you may be such a person. And that I may, by the grace of God, be one with you.

The Bible says that a time is coming – indeed it may already be upon us – when all things that can be shaken will be shaken….so that only the unshakable things will remain (See Heb_12:27).

May God grant you grace to stand unshaken, and give you the profound honor of being a source of hope to all around you who see their world falling apart at the seams.
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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Jesus, the Ultimate Example of Faith's Results

The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary . . . The Lord God has opened My ear . . . I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed. (Isa_50:4-7)

In our previous prophetic verses, we saw that the promised Servant of the Lord would undertake His Messianic mission through faith in His heavenly Father. " My God shall be My strength" (Isa_49:5). These verses depicted Jesus as the ultimate example of faith. Now, a corresponding prophetic passage reveals the blessed consequences of trusting in the Lord. Herein, we see Jesus as the ultimate example of faith's results.

Once again, the prophetic parties are the Messiah and His heavenly Father. The confessions of Jesus (trusting in the Father) comprise the prophetic statements. "The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned." Jesus was "discipled" day by day by the Father (certainly using, in part, His godly parents). "The Lord God has opened My ear." This equipped Jesus to minister to burdened lives: "that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary." In fact, people were amazed in general at the manner in which He spoke. "So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth" (Luk_4:22).

As Jesus would trust in the Father, He would also be prepared for the mounting difficulties that He would face. "I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting." In approaching the cross, these prophecies of Jesus (and the enablement He found through depending upon the Father) were fulfilled. "Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands" (Mat_26:67). Though He knew all of this awaited Him before He came to Jerusalem that last time, He put His faith in the Father. "For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed." The Father helped Him. He marched on resolutely to keep His redemption appointment at the cross. "Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem" (Luk_9:51). These are the wonderful consequences of faith.

Father, Your Son, my Savior, was prepared, strengthened, sustained, and used through faith in You. I need to experience in my own life these same blessed results of faith. Please build my faith, more and more, for Your glory and service, Amen.
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Sunday, October 8, 2017

PRACTISING CHRISTIANITY

"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." — 1Jn_3:14.

IT IS a great comfort to find that Love is not regarded by the Apostle as though it were merely an emotional or sentimental matter, for every reference points to action! The love of God was manifested in the laying down of His life, and we are to be willing to follow in His steps (1Jn_3:16). The injunction is that we should love in our deeds. We are not to shut up our hearts in compassion, but to help our brother in need. If we begin with doing kind and loving actions, we shall end by feeling the same. Often when people come to me, saying that love has completely died out of their life towards some other person, I have bidden them go back again, and act with love, making the other one the centre and object of helpful ministry; the invariable result is the refreshing and rekindling of the hot geyser-springs of affection.

Do not wait to feel love, but begin at once to show it, because it is right, and your duty, and as you step out in simple faith you will find that God will make this to abound towards that also abound in grace you may this good work. Love of such kind is self-giving and it is the gift of the Spirit of God. This exotic bloom cannot flourish on our wintry soil; the heart of man cannot furnish it. There may be a few wild growths, but they bear small comparison to its beautiful flower and fruit. Love is of God. It proceeds from His Nature, and is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us. "The fruit of the Spirit is love," and as we are united with Christ by faith, the love of God will be shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and we shall be able to love with God's love.

We know that we have been born from above as soon as we find ourselves willing to put the interests of another before our own, not because we have a natural affection or affinity for him, but because he and we belong to God. If there is hatred or dislike in our hearts towards any, let us beware! We must uproot it by generous action, or it will bring darkness into our own lives (1Jn_2:9-11).

PRAYER
Enable us, O God of patience, to bear one another's burdens, and to forbear one another in love. Oh, teach and help us all to live in peace and to love in truth. Subdue all bitter resentments in our minds, and let the law of kindness be in our tongues. AMEN.
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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

More on David Confessing the Lord as His God

For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me . . . I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long . . . in You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God . . . Do not forsake me, O LORD; O my God, be not far from me! (Psa_38:4, Psa_38:6, Psa_38:15 and Psa_38:21)

When the battles raged with pain and cruelty, David drew upon God's grace by humbly confessing the Lord as his God. "I hear the slander of many; Fear is on every side . . . But as for me . . . I say, 'You are my God' " (Psa_31:13-14). Then David added, "My times are in Your hand" (Psa_31:15). He knew that all of his times were in the hand of his sovereign God. David demonstrated this comprehensive dependence upon the Lord in all types of situations (not only during the agonizing betrayals that he faced).

When David experienced times of personal sin and failure, he turned to the Lord, his God. "For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me." The guilt of David's sins overwhelmed him like mighty flood waters and crushed him like a massive weight. "I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long." This left David distressed, greatly pressed down, and continually grieving. Thus, with a broken and humble repentance, he confessed the Lord as his God. "In You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God . . . Do not forsake me, O LORD; O my God, be not far from me! "

In other times, David confessed the Lord as his God. When he was sick and near to death, he turned to the Lord, confessing Him as his God. "O LORD my God, I cried out to You, And You have healed me. O LORD, You have brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit" (Psa_30:2-3). When David was humbly aware of his lack of innate goodness, he also confessed the Lord as his remedy. "Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust. O my soul, you have said to the LORD, 'You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from You' " (Psa_16:1-2). On the other hand, when David was joyously abounding in the goodness of the Lord, he also confessed the Lord as his God. "Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; And Your thoughts which are toward us cannot be recounted to You in order" (Psa_40:5).

Dear Lord, You are my God as well! Yet, I know that in many situations, I have not confessed You as my God. Lord, teach me to confess You as my God in every circumstance—when I have sinned, when I am sick, when I am abased, when I am abounding. Wherever I am, whatever comes my way, may I see You as my God, lovingly and powerfully handling my times, in Jesus name, Amen.
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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

FISHERS OF MEN

"Jesus saw two brethren, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." — Mat_4:18-19.

IT IS thus that Christ adapts Himself to the understanding and the heart. He caught these fishermen with bait suited to them. Notice the undoubting certainty of His promise to make these two brothers fishers of men, casting their drag-net not into the waters of the sea of Galilee, but into the great ocean of humanity. How impossible it would have been to convince Peter then that within four years he would make the great haul of three thousand souls (Act_2:41). We never know what awaits us when we leave all to follow in obedience to the Master's Call!

"Follow Me!" Our Lord is always making this challenge (Joh_21:19-22). It means bearing the cross, but we must be willing to follow Christ until, like Him, we fall into the ground and die—die to our own ambitions, our love of power and influence, our own strength and gifts, that we may make way for God to work through us. We must learn not to obtrude ourselves, but to lie hidden. The first, the second, and the third condition of successful fishing is to be hidden from sight. The best line and bait for catching men are those where the human element is out of sight, and our one aim is to serve Christ's purpose, and to glorify Him.

There must be a leaving of our nets and boats, and even those who are nearest and dearest (Mat_4:20-23). It must have been something of a wrench for these brothers to leave their nets and fishing to follow Christ. But the attraction of His Personality prevailed. There is no difficulty in persuading men to surrender the lower and inferior article, if you can unfold to them the immense value of the Pearl of great price. Then they will gladly sell all that they have to buy it.

PRAYER
Jesus calls us: by Thy mercies,
Saviour, make us hear Thy call.
Give our hearts to Thine obedience,
Serve and love Thee best of all. AMEN.
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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hammered by Hard Times

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.” (Jas_1:2, The Message)

By now you’ve discovered that God doesn’t do things our way. “My ways are not your ways,” He tells us, “and My thoughts are not your thoughts.” Often you will find that things in the Kingdom are the opposite to things in this world.

For example, he that puts himself first will be last; he that would be great, must becomes the servant. And so on and so on.

In this world of ours, trouble is TROUBLE. But not so in the Kingdom.

There, trouble is a GIFT. “A sheer gift,” James tells us. Pure and unmixed, complete and all inclusive — like sheer joy. So the Bible tells us to count it all joy when we are hammered by hard times!

Why? Because God is up to something so extraordinarily wonderful that once we see what it is He is doing, we will be beside ourselves with unspeakable delight! Yes, He is working on something in us; and once He puts it on display it will fills others with wonder…and we ourselves will be flooded with joy.

Here’s what James goes on to tell us — “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (Jas_1:3-4, The Message). Mature. well-developed, and not deficient in any way. How’s that for starters?

So while others around you may be wringing their hands in dismay, and moaning over losing this or that — you lift your vision higher and see the Lord’s hand at work in your affairs; making you everything you ever dreamed of becoming — and more!

Like a blacksmith, God is using the fire and pressure of hard times to shape you into something powerful and useful. And you would do well to consider that “a sheer gift” — for indeed it is!
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

SECRET IDOLS

"Jesus beholding him loved him, and said: One thing thou lackest .. sell whatever thou hast, and give to the poor .... Come, take up thy cross, and follow Me. And he was sad, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions." — Mar_10:21-22.

HOW MANY there are who know in their hearts what their duty is, but fail to do it because they are hiding some forbidden thing; they refuse to launch on the current sweeping past them, because they are secretly anchored to a sandbank; they go from one teacher to another, with an appearance of earnest inquiry after eternal life, which never comes to anything, because they are unwilling to renounce their secret idol.

In the case of this young man, it was the love of money. "He had great possessions." There is no harm in money It is one of God's gifts to men, but it is hard to own it without coming to look upon it as one's own, instead of realizing that we are stewards only. It was for this reason that our Lord proposed this supreme test. St. Francis of Assisi thought that these words applied universally, and founded the Order of the Franciscans, pledged to poverty. But it seems more in harmony with the spirit of the Gospel to believe that it was a special test put to this seeker after truth, to reveal him to himself.

The law of love is not negative only but positive. The most essential condition for each of us is to be willing, like another young man who was living at that time, "to count all things but loss, in order to win Christ and to be found in Him" (Php_3:8). If you would follow Christ and are prepared for Love's sake to surrender all, you will probably be entrusted with manifold more, because Christ knows that He can make you His almoner with no fear of gold dust adhering to your palm in its transmission.

Let us guard against the idol of money or possessions. Riches which open most doors, will not furnish a pass-key to Heaven. Let us see to it that we always act as stewards of God's property, but this is not possible unless we are living perpetually in fellowship with our Master, who though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich, and who says to us also, "Come, take up the cross, and follow Me."

PRAYER
The dearest idol I have known, Whate'er that idol be, Help me to tear it from Thy throne, And worship only Thee. AMEN.
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