How do you and I plan to live the rest of our lives?

Being a senior this devotion grasps my heart. Will the rest of my life be live in ‘fear’ or ‘faith’? Does God still have significant works for me to do? Let’s see what Dwight Hill had to say on that matters.

Recently I asked a group of businessmen their greatest concern in life. Their answer? Fear:

Of the future, failure, the past, peers, financial ruin, superiors, bad health, the competition, death, personal inadequacies, parents, the rejection of their children, and the unknown.

Aristotle observed the paralyzing effect of fear upon our lives:

“Elderly men… have often been taken in, and often made mistakes. The result is they are sure about nothing and under-do everything. They ‘think’, but they never ‘know’; and because of their hesitation, they always add a ‘possibility’ or a ‘perhaps’, putting everything this way and nothing positively… They are cynical; that is, they tend to put the worst construction on everything.”

They are small-minded, because they have been humbled by life: their desires are set upon nothing more exalted or unusual than what will help them to keep aliveTHEY GUIDE THEIR LIVES TOO MUCH BY CONSIDERATIONS OF WHAT IS USEFUL AND TOO LITTLE BY WHAT IS NOBLE[They] lack confidence in the futurepartly because of their cowardice. They live by memory rather than by hope… ”

Obviously, “fear has to do with torment… ” (1 John 4:18b). But the good news is that God offers us deliverance from its bondage,

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)

If you are struggling with fear, refuse to allow Satan to gain the upper hand. Claim God’s promises. Memorize, meditate, and appropriate His promises for your life. By so doing, you will put yourself in a position where God can, and will, set you free from the bondage of fear:

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32) (See John 8:36; Psalm 119:45; Romans 6:14-18,22; 8:2)

“‘… Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraidfor I myself will help you, declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:10, 11, 14) (See Psalm 27:1, 2; 46:2; 56:3; Isaiah 12:2; 2 Timothy 1:7; Romans 8:15; 1 John 4:18)

QUESTION:

How do you and I plan to live the rest of our lives?

Paralyzed and diminished by fear?

Or liberated by the promises in God’s Word?

As always, the choice is ours.

 

The Fisherless Fishermen

Adapted from a story told by Luis Palau.

“‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.'” (Matthew 4:19)

There was a group called “Fishermen’s Fellowship”. They were surrounded by streams and lakes full of hungry fish. They met regularly to discuss the call to fish, the abundance of fish and the thrill of catching fish. They got excited about fishing.

Someone suggested they needed a philosophy of fishing. So they carefully defined and redefined fishing and the purpose of fishing. They developed fishing strategies and tactics.

Then they realized they had been going at it backward. They had approached fishing from the point of the fisherman and not from the point of view of the fish. How do fish view the world? How does the fisherman appear to the fish? What do fish eat and when? These are all good things to know.

So they began research studies and attended conferences on fishing. Some traveled far away to study different kinds of fish with different habits. Some got Ph.D.’s in Fishology. But none had yet gone fishing.

So a committee was formed to send out fishermen. As prospective fishing places outnumbered the fishermen, the committee needed to determine priorities. A priority list of fishing places was posted on bulletin boards in all the Fellowship halls.

Still, no one was fishing. A survey was launched to find out why. Most did not answer the questionnaire but from those who did respond, it was discovered that some felt called to study fish, a few to furnish fishing equipment and several to go around encouraging fishermen.

What with meetings, conferences, and seminars, others simply didn’t have time to fish.

Jake was a newcomer to the “Fishermen’s Fellowship”. After one stirring meeting of the “Fellowship,” Jake went fishing. He tried a few things, got the hang of it and caught a choice fish. At the next meeting, he told his story, was honored for his catch and was then scheduled to speak at all the “Fellowship” chapters to tell how he did it.

Soon he began to feel restless and empty. He longed to feel the tug on the line once again. He cut the speaking, resigned from the Board and said to a friend, “Let’s go fishing.” They did just the two of them and they caught fish.

The members of the “Fishermen’s Fellowship” were many, the fish were plentiful, but the fishers were few.

QUESTION: When was the last time you and I did some serious fishing for men? What are we waiting for? After all, Jesus did say, “‘Come, follow me… and I will make you fishers of men.'”

The Next Time You Are Down In The Dumps

The last few days were rather gray days in my mind, I felt like I was down in the valley. On the outside, everything seemed fine to others, but I knew another reality. Then this delightful meditation came along. Hope it will benefit some else and brighten your day.


Struggling with your worth as a person…

Or despairing of life…

Or nursing your wounds over being hurt, shunned, or put down,

Do a reality check as to just who you are in the eyes of God:

  • GOD HAS ALWAYS LOVED YOU – FROM ALL ETERNITY:

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3b) (See Psalm 103:17; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; James 1:18)

  • GOD HAS ALWAYS PLANNED TO CHOSE YOU FOR HIMSELF:

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:4) (See 1 Peter 2:9; Deuteronomy 7:6, 7; 14:2)

  • GOD THOUGHT ENOUGH OF YOU TO SPILL HIS SON’S BLOOD TO RESCUE YOU:

You were redeemed from the empty way of lifewith the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18b, 19) (See Psalm 74:2; Hebrews 9:12-14)

  • GOD CONSIDERS YOU HIS SOLE POSSESSION:

(He) gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:14) (See Acts 15:14; Deuteronomy 4:20; 14:2)

  • GOD HAS INVITED YOU INTO HIS FAMILY TO BE A JOINT-HEIR WITH HIS SON, JESUS:

We areheirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:17b) (See Luke 12:32; Galatians 3:29; 4:7)

So take heart, my fellow struggler – and heir. True, “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) But take comfort in knowing that Jesus is returning to take you with Him:

They will see the Son of Man comingwith power and great glory. When these things begin to take placelift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27b, 28)

By Dwight Hill, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals.

Evil Priority

Luke 4:3 (NLT)

Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, change this stone into a loaf of bread.”

Satan advanced an evil priority in telling Christ to make bread out of stones.

This evil priority can be stated in many different ways. We list ten ways it can be stated.

First, the priority of our will over God’s will. It was not God’s will to make bread out of stones here. Christ came to do the will of God, not His own will.

Second, the priority of body over soul. This temptation made the physical need (bread) more important that the spiritual need (obeying God). It is like the social Gospel. It puts more emphasis on feeding the stomach than saving the soul.

Third, the priority of reputation over character. In tempting Christ, Satan emphasized the Son of God’s identity. Doing this miracle would enhance His reputation as the Son of God. But Christ was more interested in character than reputation.

Fourth, the priority of privilege over responsibility. Christ had many privileges including miracle power. But Christ emphasized His responsibilities more than His privileges.

Fifth, the priority of circumstances over commands. Christ had some dire circumstances. But the commands of God, not circumstances, guided His conduct.

Sixth, the priority of pleasure over purity. Bread would give him physical pleasure. But it would defile Him because here bread would come through evil means.

Seventh, the priority of self over others. Had Christ done what the devil advocated, He would have sinned and thus ended the redemption plan to save others.

Eighth, the priority of temporal over eternal. Satan said to take care of the temporal need of bread and ignore eternal consequences for disobedience.

Ninth, the priority of sight over faith. Satan tempted Christ to live by sight—the bread you can see, and not by faith—trusting God to supply bread you cannot see.

Tenth, the priority of the false over the genuine. Satan tempted Christ to have a great achievement, but it would have been a false success, not a real success.

 

John G Butler, Daily Bible Reading: Sermonettes #1.

Intimacy And Immediacy

INTIMACY – Cultivating the practice of moment-by-moment communion with Christ.  Sensitivity to His prompting, sensitivity to sin, dependency upon Him in the littlest of things, humility, gentleness, perhaps even brokenness.

I am the vine itself, you are the branches. It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitful. For the plain fact is that apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 – Phillips)

IMMEDIACY – The antennas are up, aware, utilizing every opportunity to lovingly and graciously share the love of Christ with others. Reflective indeed of Paul’s mind-set:

So, naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, (evangelism) and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about Him, (discipleship) so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ Jesus. This is what I am working at all the time, with all the strength that God gives me.” (Colossians 1:28, 29 – Phillips)

Perhaps their motto is: “if not you – who? If not now – When?”

Notice the guidelines Paul gives, derived from Colossians 4:5, 6; 2 Timothy 2:24-26:

  • Wise. Clever and skilled.
  • Utilizing every opportunity. Immediacy.
  • Gracious: Gentle, meek, humble, mild. Patient, enduring evil or ill-will.
  • Salty: Pointed; not insipid; “an edge of liveliness” (Knox Translation)
  • Correcting: Chastening, educating, teaching and training.
  • Not quarrelsome: Not disputing or striving.

SUGGESTION: Can you take a moment and ask God, “Lord, if I am not walking intimately with you, why? And if I lack a sense of immediacy in getting the Gospel to others, why?

Leadership Or Servanthood?

 

There are some “Leadership Conference” and the turnout is surprisingly high. The term “leadership” kind of titillates your ego, doesn’t it? Interesting, is it not, that Christ had little to say about leadership, but spoke profusely on servanthood. For example,

Whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:44b, 45) (John 12:26; 13:2-17)

Dr. R. Edmund understood the Biblical perspective on leadership and servanthood in stating that as Christian educators and disciplers “our job is to train servants. It is Gods responsibility to raise up leaders.

We often find the idea of “servanthood” similar to a chicken bone wedged in our throat because:

  • e don’t like to be treated like a servant. Yet, we like to be known as one: “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” (1 Peter 2:18)
  • We don’t like to serve when the visible results are meager or nonexistent: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) (1 Thessalonians 3:5)
  • We don’t like to be taken for granted: “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.‘” (Luke 17:10)
  • We don’t like to be maligned, misunderstood, or judged for our efforts: “As servants of God…: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger.” (2 Corinthians 6:4, 5) (1 Corinthians 4:13)
  • We don’t like what it costs us in terms of time, resources, comfort or safety: “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtainsalvation… ” (2 Timothy 2:10a, c) (1 Corinthians 9:19-24; 2 Corinthians 6:4, 5; 11:23-29)

Christ’s true ungrudging toilers anticipate the day when He will utter to them,

Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your masters happiness!‘” (Matthew 25:21b) (2 Corinthians 5:9)

Slow Down!

I just came from two days away from home for business and visiting a good old friend. Much driving, stress driving in Toronto, sleeping away from home is never the same. This morning I am rather tired. During my Quiet Time this morning I came across a very timely devotion written by John G Butler. The title caught my attention “Slow Down”.

 

God is still in heaven. You are not responsible for doing it all – yourself – right now!

In a few minutes, I am having breakfast with a business executive who is experiencing recurring health problems (heart attack 5 years ago). Unabated work pressure, frequent travel, and little time for himself are taking their toll on his life. Perhaps slowing down is at least part of the solution. Six pointers:

  • Allow yourself some time to be lazy and unproductive. Rest isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.

Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.‘” (Mark 6:31)

  • Once in a while, turn down the lights and the volume. Turn down the throttle, and the invitations. Less really can be more.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet lifeBetter one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11a; Ecclesiastes 4:6)

  • Create a place in your home — At your work… in your heart… where you can go for quiet and recollection.

The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence foreverIn quietness and trust is your strength… ” (Isaiah 32:17; 30:15a)

  • Take time just to think — Action is good and necessary, but it’s fruitful only if we muse, ponder, and mull.

Watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!

Dont live carelessly, unthinkingly… ” (Ephesians 5:15, 17b – The Message)

  • Talk and play with children – It will bring out the unhurried little person inside you.

Jesus said, ‘… Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes meLet the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:5, 14)

  • Take time to wonder — Without wonder, life is merely existence.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3, 4)