Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Perfect Health!

How many brothers and sisters that I know and love are dealing with the corruption of their human body for indeed this corruptible must put on incorruption and as mortals we will one day put on mortality. What a glorious day that will be because the victory that has already been given us in Christ will finally be ours to enjoy!

"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."" (1 Corinthians 15:50–54, NKJV)

"The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:56–57, NKJV)


Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.—Ecclesiastes 11:41

"That we must be reasonably careful of our bodies we all know; it is one of the plainest of our Christian duties. By the coming of the Son of God in our flesh and by making the body the temple of the Spirit, by the great doctrine of the resurrection, when what is sown in weakness will be raised in glory, the gospel of Christ has glorified the body in a way that even the Greeks had never dreamed of."1
-------------------------

1 Wallis, D. (2001). Take Heart: daily devotions with the church's great preachers (p. 292). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

God is saying to us that in the midst of all of this pain and inconvenience , we must continually be mindful of the final result. One day (and we know not how soon that is) we will put on incorruption and walk in total freedom and health. In that day we will shout out together -

   ""O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?"" (1 Corinthians 15:55, NKJV)  



"Freed In Christ",

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dependence or Independence? That is the Question.

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7 NKJV)

Consecration is a personal thing, a transaction between two persons, the Lord Jesus Christ and you. Following that, the Holy Spirit will commence a great work in you; for the work of the Lord Jesus Christ for us needs to be followed by the work of the Holy Spirit in us.  JOHN PRITCHARD

Harrison, Nick (2010-12-21). His Victorious Indwelling: Daily Devotions for a Deeper Christian Life (p. 370). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Meditation

The original sin in the Garden of Eden was man's decision to become independent from God. Satan's words to Eve were, "For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When Eve and then her husband Adam chose to partake of it, thus taking control of their lives, the trouble began. And evil has reigned in the lives of human beings ever since. We live in a world that chose to turn its back on its Creator and live independently by their own standards since then. And the end result has been chaos and destruction. We live in a society of people that has gone mad and is even now threatening to self-destruct. We cannot take back control or change the destiny of the world. Only God Himself can do that but He has not chosen to intervene yet. Why?

The simple answer is that He created us with free will and He has chosen not to violate that freedom. Had He not made us with that free will and instead made us like the birds that have no choice as to whether to fly south for the winter, we would have been incapable of choosing to love Him. By choosing to love Him we can enter into a relationship with Him which is what He desires for us to do above all else.

The good news is that we can still choose to do that. God the Father sent His Son Jesus Christ to the earth to pay the penalty for sin so that we can enter the relationship with Him that we were created for. By trusting in the Lord with all of our heart and not leaning on our own understanding, we can depart from the evil of independence from God. We are free to choose to live in harmony with Him as we were created to live. Then the world will cease to be chaotic and paradise will be restored.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  (Revelation 21:1-3 ESV)

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1. What was original sin in the Garden of Eden and how has it continued until the present time?

2. Why did God create us with free will and why will he not violate it?

3.  How does God desire us to live?

Responsive Prayer

Father God, Your wisdom is higher than the heavens, Your thoughts and Your ways are higher than mine. Help me, I pray to escape the futility of leaning on my own understanding and teach me to trust fully in You. I confess that I have given way to my flesh too often and reaped the consequences of this folly. Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to direct my steps and for giving me the opportunity to depart from the evil independence from You. Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Sunday, October 4, 2015

To Forgive or not to Forgive?

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV)

Meditation

The Pharisees were concerned with outward appearances, while Jesus Christ was more interested in condition of one's heart. He said that the world would identify His true disciples by their love for one another. The apostle John said, "If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?"(1 John 4:20 NKJV) Satan on the other hand often disrupts the harmony of the church by causing schisms among the brethren, seeking to steal, kill and destroy our Christian fellowship.

Often times our anger against a brother or sister in the Lord is founded on misconceptions or an incomplete understanding of all the facts in a given situation. I have heard it said that to harbor a spirit of bitterness or resentment is likened to "drinking a glass of poison and waiting for the other person to die!" Or there is the old adage that "unforgiveness does much more damage to the vessel in which it is stored than to the object on which it is poured!"

The person who is unable to forgive is the one who doesn't truly grasp the significance of God's forgiveness of themselves. So when we don't understand how much God has forgiven us we don't see the need to forgive one who has offended us. We become easily offended and harbor a superior attitude of pride over our offender. Jesus is saying here that if we aren't convicted of our own sinfulness and need for God's mercy, our heart condition might be indicative of the fact that we ourselves are unregenerate and doomed to suffer the fires of Hell. That is a matter that deserves serious consideration.

For those coming out of a life dominated by sin, bitterness and resentment are open doors that can lead to relapse. We might once again find ourselves captive to the bondage that once held us in slavery. This is a serious enough threat to cause Jesus to say, "This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God." (Matthew 5:23-24 MSG)

 

Questions for Meditation or Discussion

1.     How is it that our treatment of our brothers and sisters in Christ is a reflection of our love for God?

2.     What do we need to consider in forgiving others for offences committed against us?

3.     Why is harboring resentments against another so dangerous for those coming out of bondage to life dominating sin?

 

Responsive Prayer

Heavenly Father blessed be Your Holy Name. Thank You for price that You paid for the forgiveness of my sin against You. I know that nothing that another human being does to me could ever compare to that. Grant me the grace to forgive those who have offended me, so that I can continue to walk in fellowship with You. Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pacing Ourselves

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

"I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry." (Psalms 40:1 NKJV)

What you do, do well. Work faithfully in My vineyard. I will be your reward. Write, read, sing, mourn, keep silence, pray, and bear hardships like a man. Eternal life is worth all these and greater battles. Peace will come on a day which is known to the Lord, and then there shall be no day or night as at present but perpetual light, infinite brightness, lasting peace, and safe repose. (Emphasis mine)

Thomas à Kempis. (1996). The Imitation of Christ (p. 194). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.

Meditation

Waiting and patience never seem to come easy for us. That is not surprising because a person driven by the flesh to achieve great things is naturally anxious to see results. But the person who in traffic passes our vehicle at great risk to himself and everyone else only to be waiting at the next traffic signal, demonstrates the futility of going through this life at breakneck speed. So as we grow older, the Spirit of God within us helps us to better understand the need to pace ourselves for a healthier life. We learn that although there appears to be so much to do, everything doesn't have to be done this instant, or by ourselves alone.

Now in saying all of that, there are some people that are very difficult to wait for because we are uncertain of whether they will ever get the task we are waiting for accomplished at all. We can be grateful that waiting for our Heavenly Father is not like that at all. What He has promised in His word will be accomplished for certain. There is absolutely no doubt about it at all. The plan that He has for our lives is part of a much bigger plan for the entire universe. We can be sure of that because He put it in writing in His book, the Bible, and had it preserved down through the ages. Even at that, intellectual knowledge is not sufficient, we need more. And He knows that so He has given us His Holy Spirit to confirm it in our hearts. We need personal affirmation and so our Father provides that affirmation along with all of our other needs.

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:15-17 NKJV) (Emphasis mine)

So as we wait patiently we never have to wait alone or wonder if our waiting will be in vain.

It will not do for the believer to simply say, "I rest upon Scripture, and upon the Word of God." He must not be satisfied without experientially having the comfort of the Holy Spirit. ….And is not the Holy Spirit to be, to the believer, the evidence and witness of our new place and of the actual relationship in which we stand to God our Father? Of course. The Holy Spirit feeds the new creation, comforts him, minister to him, and unfolds the beauties and glories of Christ to him. These things are to be known, and if you do not know them, you have need to know them.  W. T. P. WOLSTON

Harrison, Nick (2010-12-21). His Victorious Indwelling: Daily Devotions for a Deeper Christian Life (p. 350). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1.     Why is waiting patiently such a difficult thing for most of us to do?

2.     How is waiting on God different from waiting on men?

3.     What is the role of the Holy Spirit in the waiting process?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Father in heaven, my God in Whom I trust, blessed be Your Holy Name. I confess that there are times that I find the waiting process to be a difficult one, especially when I am walking in the flesh rather than walking in the Spirit. Grant me the patience, by Your grace to glorify You in the process of waiting, knowing that my future in Christ is certain.  Thank You for Your Holy Spirit Who comforts and affirms Your Presence and assures my inheritance in Christ. Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Affirmation of a Father

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

"And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him." (Luke 15:20 NKJV)

Meditation

As I advance in years, my curiosity increases about what it will be like to see Christ face to face and be welcomed home. I am so grateful that Jesus Christ, the only one to ever live in heaven with God the Father before coming to earth, gave just a picturesque description of what that meeting will be like.

When He walked as a man on this earth He, in His humanity, like you and I, longed for the affirmation that every person wants from their father. At a key moment in His life, as He was preparing to undertake the ministry that would cost Him His human life, His Heavenly Father showed up in a unique and emphatic way to affirm His Son.

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:16-17 NKJV)

That affirmation is something that a person never outgrows their longing for. And God the Father, knowing that that need can never be fully satisfied by human resources, longs to meet it Himself for you and me as well. When the prodigal son in Jesus' story arose and decided to make the journey back to his father, he had his expectations and fears, much the same as you and I. He conjured up a deal that he could propose to his father in order to regain his acceptance. But as the story unfolded he wasn't able to, and he didn't need to use it anyway. The father was so glad to see him and welcome him home that he never got the speech completely out. The father didn't need to be bargained with or convinced. The son was filthy and smelled of pigs, but that didn't matter because the father had been anticipating his son's return for a long time.

Jesus told this story so that you and would know how the Father feels about us coming home to Him. Now we can stop mentally justifying our behavior and having imaginary conversations about what we will say when we get there. God loves us and is willing to cover our filth with the robe of Christ's righteousness. It's not about what we have done or promise to do for Him in the future. He loves us for who we are, not what we do. If you have strayed from Him and long for His affirmation, He is waiting even now for your return and will greet you with open arms.

"God is asking me, the unworthy, to forget my unworthiness and that of my brothers, and dare to advance in the love which has redeemed and renewed us all in God's likeness."

Manning, B. (2009). Abba's child: the cry of the heart for intimate belonging expanded edition. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1.     What was it that made Jesus more qualified than any other man that ever lived to describe that character of God?

2.     Why is it more meaningful to gain affirmation from God than anyone else?

3.     How does God the Father deal with the filthiness of our past?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Father in heaven, my God, thank You for sending Your Son Jesus Christ to show me the way home to You. I confess that my search for affirmation has taken me into some dark places. I also am guilty of trying to justify myself in my imagination, composing speeches and believing lies. Thank You for welcoming me home today. Amen

 

 


"Freed In Christ",

Monday, September 28, 2015

Cooperating with the Holy Spirit

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. For You will save the humble people, But will bring down haughty looks. (Psalms 18:25-27 NKJV)

Meditation

Our Father in heaven is gracious in that He meets us where we are at in the moment. I've heard it said that "He loves us just the way we are but too much to let us stay that way!" He is indeed causing all things to work together for good in shaping us into His image, as we were initially created to be. As the author and finisher of our faith, our Father uses other people and the circumstances of this world to conform our character into the image of His Son Jesus Christ. And rather than grumbling and complaining, which can often times be our fleshly tendency, we can choose to be grateful and in all things give thanks.

But I see another application in this scripture that until today, I hadn't seen. In dealing with others as a spiritual director (the Holy Spirit is always the Counselor) I must align myself with what He is doing in the lives of others. When we perceive a person to be in one of the categories in these verses, it is only reasonable that we align ourselves with what the Holy Spirit is accomplishing in their lives. In cooperating with the Holy Spirit we can help further their progress rather than hindering it. A merciful person needs to be dealt with mercifully and a devious person needs to be dealt with shrewdly. This presents a challenge for most believers in giving counsel and assistance to others. To treat the devious mercifully would be to hinder the work of the Spirit in their life and actually interfere with God's discipline. So we must not allow our spiritual condition to influence us in how we minister to them. This requires selflessness in our lives along with the spiritual gift of discernment. Ultimately God saves the humble, but for most of us the Holy Spirit must first bring us to a place of brokenness. May we seek never to hinder the Spirit's work in the life of another believer, but to minister with the wisdom God provides to do so.

 

For You will light my lamp; The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. (Psalms 18:28 NKJV)

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1.     How is God using people and circumstances to conform you into the image of Christ?

2.     Have you helped or hindered the work of the Spirit in the lives of others?

3.     What is God using in your life to bring you to a place of brokenness so He can bless you?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Heavenly Father in heaven, my God, how blessed am I to know You as my Redeemer, Savior and friend. Day by day You open my eyes to the truth contained in Your Word. You have given me Your Spirit as the author and finisher of my faith and caused all things to work together for my good. I confess that too often I view life through a fleshly perspective and don't see what You are trying to accomplish in my life and the lives of those I minister to. Help me I pray to have clarity of vision in seeing Your will and helping to accomplish it. Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Home Lighting

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.                         (Matthew 5:14-16 NKJV)

Meditation

Being the light of the world is a significant calling, especially in a world of ever increasing darkness. The Holy Spirit as the source of light and for that matter our very life shines like the beacon of a lighthouse on a dark, clear night. Jesus says here that would be easier to conceal an entire city built on a hill under a basket. So we must ask the questions, "What impact does our life have on the people around us? When we walk into a crowd of people are their spirits lifted or weighed down?"

But perhaps the more relevant question here is what impact does our life have on the people in our own household? Who we are in the privacy of our own homes is as important if not more important than who we are in public. In fact if who we are in private is different from who we are in public, we are hypocrites. Jesus also had a lot to say about hypocrites and most often it was directed against the Pharisees. These were those who tried to be the most religious. There are some who know just enough about God's Word to be dangerous!

In contrast Jesus' religion and His life was genuine. He loved children and He loved people, all kinds of people. He didn't love only the rich and influential people, but He love the lost, the weak and the sinful hurting people. This is proven by the fact that He loved you and I. While we were yet sinners, He died for us.

The light that emanates from a lamp cannot bypass an object and shine on the area behind it. It originates with its source and illuminates everything in its path. The love of Christ within us must do the same thing. Beginning with those of our own household, we must let our light shine so that the love of Christ will illuminate the whole world beginning with those closest to us.

"For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops." (Luke 12:2-3 NKJV)

Questions for Meditation or Discussion

1.     Why is the life and light of Jesus Christ within us impossible to conceal?

2.     How was Jesus' life and light different from those of the Pharisees?

3.     What hinders you from letting your light shine brightest on those closest to you?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, blessed be Your Holy Name. You have placed Your love and light within me that it may illuminate the darkness of this world. I confess that too often I struggle to allow that light to shine in my own household. Grant me the grace to love those that seem to others to be unlovable. May I never forget the love that You showed me when You saved me from the path of eternal damnation. Amen


"Freed In Christ",