Those who are close students of the Word, following Christ in humility of soul, will not go to extremes. The Savior never went to extremes, never lost self-control, never violated the laws of good taste. He knew when to speak and when to keep silent. He was always self-possessed.
Those who follow the example of Christ will not be extremists. They will cultivate calmness and self-possession. The peace that was seen in the life of Christ will be seen in their lives.
- Gospel Workers, pp. 316,317
It is in nature that I think we who are so busy, can slow down enough to hear God speaking to us most intimately. If you want to hear the voice of God, don't lock yourself away indoors. Brave the elements. Breathe deeply and savor the smells. Don't grumble and complain that the weather isn't exactly to your liking. Instead praise the Lord for variety. And if you're outdoors as the sun is sinking in the west, maybe just maybe, God will bless you with a stunningly radiant blast of color as the sun sinks below the horizon.
Why spend your years chasing rumors of hidden treasure. There is nothing like enjoying God's free gold, the kind you find in nature.
Imagine what the Christian church would be like if more careful attention were given to the heart that produces words.
In Ephesians 4:29 Paul warns believers of the nature of words and how they can spread treachery, but also goodness: â€œDo not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.â€ James will agree that, â€œEveryone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save youâ€ (James 1:19-21). Common to both passages is how the mind or the heart are the center and source of anything that is spoken.
Take a moment and try to remember the conversations you have had recently. If your conversations tend to be short and superficial, what does that say about your heart? Well, it doesnâ€™t mean you are superficial, but it does reveal how busy, or shy, or careful you might be. What if your
words tend to find problems or things that are inconsistent or not helpful? Perhaps you know people who tend to see all the things that are broken. Part of this trait is the noble quality of being analytical. However, you may also observe that people who criticize more often than edify are wrestling in their hearts with more than meets the eye.
To be sure, those who deepen in the core convictions are often people who recognize how keenly the heart is connected to what people say and do. No one is more familiar with the way of the heart than the One who designed it.
What is the condition of your heart today? Are the words you speak a window into your mind? May the grace that has been freely given to you make you ready to speak well to others this week.
A friend of mine went to Africa to conduct evangelistic meetings. During the weeks, he got to know the chief of the village and at the end of the third week, with a degree of supercilious pride and ego, he asked, â€œWhat did you think of my sermon?â€ The chief replied, â€œWell, I hear a lot of thunder â€¦ but no rain.â€
Sometimes, thatâ€™s exactly how our Christian life looks to outsidersâ€”we blow hot air. We say we are a loving church, we are about forgiveness, assurances, and hope in His mercy and grace, but look at our behavior. I have visited churches that are so cold, I can ice-skate down the aisle.
We act like the priests and Levites when passing by a dying man, and we say, â€œIf I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?â€ Itâ€™s all about me! But the Samaritan passes by and asks, â€œIf I donâ€™t stop and help this man, what will happen to him?â€ Thatâ€™s Christianity.
Christianity is not about â€œWhat do I get?â€ We need to put others above us. Jesus came and died for us, not because we deserved Him, but because we needed Him. There are so many people dying every day not knowing who God is, not experiencing His love and mercy. They may seem to not want Him, but they need Him. This is why we proclaim the good news and demonstrate the love of God.
So, the question is not â€œWho is my neighbor?â€ The fundamental question is: â€œAm I being a neighbor? Am I being a neighbor to all people, all the timeâ€”not just on Sabbath morning?â€
She tilts her head to secure my stare. "I can't sleep without you." She sighs.
She pushes her body as close as she can to the wall and pats the bed at her right. She is making room for me. It is a small gesture, but it packs a punch.
My daughter's attempt to lure me into her toddler bed has been going on for nearly a year...
Sometimes we ask God to intervene in our lives. We want big missions and large roles. We want to be commanders of a Christian army; to write bestsellers, or hold a Bible study that runs out of seating. These are the things we want to do with Him, and are bitter when some of our prayers go unanswered. We are saying all the right things; we have good intentions, why are things not panning out how we planned? In my own life, and through the help of my two year old, I have realized this; if you want God to squeeze his big presence in your tiny space, you have to make room for Him. Itâ€™s simple, yet profound.
Far too often our words say one thing but the heart says another. We ask Him to come into our lives, but we donâ€™t actually make room for Him. We lay sprawled out, legs dangling over the edge, taking up as much room as possible because it is important that we remain comfortable. After all, life is about us, isnâ€™t it? That is how we ended up naked isnâ€™t? Satan thought God wasnâ€™t recognizing how important his role should be, Eve thought God was holding out on her, Adam couldnâ€™t bear an Eden without Eve and so, all of us, continue the sin cycle, putting ourselves before God. We lay sprawled out in our lives, because that is how we are most comfortable, and want God to figure out where He can slip in.
One day my husband and I went to a maze not far from where we were staying while on holiday. The maze was made up of wooden panels with four towers you were meant to go to--in the proper order. We were told, "If you get stuck, you can always go to the platform above the maze." We worked out the only way to get to the first tower--by using the viewing platform.
I thought of how God is our viewing platform. We may run into dead ends and take wrong turns; but when we look at our challenges from His perspective, we see our way clear to get to our objective. . . .
Our lives may seem like mazes at times. Yet, through it all, God makes our way clear. He never leaves us alone in life's complexities. He has provided everything we need to make it safely to the end.
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There is not a human being alive who could possibly carry out the gospel commission alone. Not only would it prove impossible to execute such a gargantuan task by oneself, sinful human beings simply do not have the capacity to conceive of a workable plan of action that would achieve Christ's objectives.
That is why you and I are not in charge of the work. It is directed from heaven's sanctuary by our great High Priest, Jesus, and He communicates with the church through the voice of the Holy Spirit. If it were left to a church committee to select appropriate workers to carry out the gospel commission, we would likely choose all the wrong people, using the wrong criteria. It is far better to seek God's will. Ask Him to reveal His plan for the work, and then join Him where He is working.
The key to working successfully for God is to allow Him to lead. . . . If we push self aside and allow the Spirit to lead, we will discvoer that He still speaks rather clearly.
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We are soldiers of Christ; and those who enlist in His army are expected to do difficult work, work which will tax their energies to the utmost. We must understand that a soldier's life is one of aggressive warfare, of perseverance and endurance. For Christ's sake we are to endure trials. We are not engaged in mimic battles.
Resolve, not in your own strength, but in the strength and grace given of God, that you will consecrate to Him now, just now, every power, every ability. You will then follow Jesus because He bids you, and you will not ask where, or what reward will be given. . . .
We are soldiers of Christ. He is the Captain of our salvation, and we are under His order and rules. We are to wear His armor; we are to be marshaled only under His banner. . . . We are to keep on the whole armor of God, and work as in view of the universe of heaven.
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Was it because Daniel already had such deep conviction that he did not hesitate to pray in the face of danger, or did praying faithfully cause his core beliefs to run deeper than ever before? . . .
One of the more renowned "one-liners" in the Bible is Jeremiah's prophecy where God promises, " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future' " (Jeremiah 29:11). What a beautiful promise for young people embarking on the cusp of life's great adventure!
However, that promise is couched in the context of another more technical reality: "This is what the Lord says: 'When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place' " (Jeremiah 29:10). The promise of prosperity comes after seventy years of captivity--again. Daniel knew that his life would be consumed in Babylon, but still he turned his face to Jerusalem, remembering the promise, and praying gratefully to His God.
This week, take the opportunity to practice a lifestyle of praying. As you pray, may the glory of God's promises shine on you and may the mouths of the lions in your life be shut.
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It is of the greatest importance that you continually search the Scriptures, storing the mind with the truths of God. You may be separated from the companionship of Christians and placed where you will not have the privilege of meeting with the children of God. You need the treasures of God's Word hidden in your heart. Make the promises of God your own. Then when test and trial come, these promises will be to you glad springs of heavenly comfort.
Temptations often appear irresistable because, through neglect of prayer and the study of the Bible, the tempted one cannot readily remember God's promises and meet Satan with the Scripture weapons. But angels are round about those who are willing to be taught in divine things; and in the time of great necessity they will bring to their remembrance the very truths which are needed.
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Christ's victory on the cross made Him worthy to take and unseal the covenant scroll, which, because of human disobedience, was sealed. In the throne room, when Christ the Lamb approached the throne to take the scroll, an anthem of praise and adoration arose from the heavenly assembly, acknowledging the act. This was the climactic moment of the scene. The covenant book, which had been sealed and stored for ages, was handed to the triumphant Christ--the long-awaited King of the Davidic lineage and the lion from the tribe of Judah. . . .
The symbolic taking of the scroll by Christ the Lamb signified the transference of authority from Satan to Christ. . . . What was lost with Adam has now been regained by Christ. His installment on the heavenly throne demonstrates that His sacrifice has been accepted on behalf of humanity. The death of Jesus purchased people for God from every tribe, language, people, and nation.
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God speaks to us in His word. Here we have in clearer lines the revelation of His character, of his dealings with men, and the great work of redemption. Here is open before us the history of patriarchs and prophets and other holy men of old. . . . As we read of the precious experiences granted them, of the light and love and blessing it was theirs to enjoy, and of the work they wrought through the grace given them, the spirit that inspired them kindles a flame of holy emulation in our hearts and a desire to be like them in character--like them to walk with God.
Jesus said of the Old Testament Scriptures,--and how much more it is true of the New,--"They are they which testify of Me," the Redeemer, Him in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered. Yes, the whole Bible tells of Christ. From the first record of creation--for "without Him was not anything made that was made"--to the closing promise, "Behold, I come quickly," we are reading of His works and listening to His voice. If you would become acquainted with the Saviour, study the Holy Scriptures.
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