Monday, August 31, 2015

Homeless No More!

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

John 14:1-2 NKJV 

"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  (2)  In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."

John 14:23 NKJV 

Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."

Meditation

There is a lot of talk about the mansions that we will live in when we get to heaven. Much of it is speculation about whose mansion will be the biggest. It is only natural to want to know where one will live for eternity. The word that is rendered "mansion" in some translations and "rooms" in others is monai which is the plural of monen, a word that is translated "home" in John 14 verse 23. These are the only two places this word is used in the New Testament. So rather than focus on where we will spend eternity, something that we have little or no control over, let's give our attention to where Jesus will live today.

I imagine that Jesus, much like you and I, would not choose to live where He is not welcome. So He makes it clear that He and His Father desire to come and return the love of those who truly love them. That only stands to reason. Obedience to Jesus' words is more than just a requirement, as some would see it, but it is the natural outflowing of the love in one's heart. 1 John 5:3 says "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." And isn't it true that the greatest obstacles that are overcome and the greatest achievements that are accomplished are done in the power of love? Jesus is not saying here that you have to earn the right to have Him and His Father to come and make their home with you. No He is saying if you love Him it will be evident by your obedience.

There are people who say that they are willing to die to be with Jesus in heaven, but aren't living for Him on this earth. They imagine that they have received a "Get Out of Hell Free" card but no significant change of heart has ever taken place. I've heard it said that "a sinner in heaven would be as out of place in heaven as a fish in a tree." If we are to spend eternity in heaven with Jesus it is only logical that our heart will be a suitable home for Him here on earth.

Luke 17:20-21 NKJV 

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you." 

"God is especially present in the hearts of his people, by his Holy Spirit. Indeed the hearts of Christians are truly temples; and, in type and shadow, they are heaven itself. For God reigns in the hearts of his servants: there is his kingdom."

Harrison, Nick (2010-12-21). His Victorious Indwelling: Daily Devotions for a Deeper Christian Life (p. 312). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.   

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1. What are your thoughts about the mansions in heaven?

2. Does Jesus come with the Father to live in us because of our obedience? Why or why not?

3.  Why would a sinner not be at home in heaven?

Responsive Prayer

My Father in heaven, my God how truly amazing You are. Your words are like soothing balm to a troubled soul. In Your presence there truly is fullness of joy. Thank Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You Father God. Thank You Holy Spirit. Thank You Holy Trinity for making Your home in my heart. Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Living A Lie - WHY?

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

1 John 1:6-7 NKJV 

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  (7)  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Meditation

We have all at one time or another tried to find something in a dark room either because the light wasn't working or because we didn't think that we needed to make the effort to turn it on. Most of the time when the light was turned on we found the object that we were looking for was right in front of us all the time, and we wondered why we didn't try harder to turn the light on sooner.

When we live our life under false pretenses the results are similar but with much greater consequences. To bear the burden of secret sin whether it is ours or someone else's severely hinders our ability to interact with the people around us. We are limited as to what we can say so we are never free to open up and be our true selves in their company.

But according to today's scripture reading the consequences are more far reaching than that. We become deluded into thinking that our fellowship with God is as good as it can be if we are walking under the cloak of deception or secrecy. Notice that the Apostle says "if we say we have fellowship with Him." So according to this we must be in fellowship with others to have fellowship with God. When we believe otherwise we are the ones being deceived!

King David knew the peril of deception firsthand, because when he sinned with Bathsheba he tried to cover it up for about a year before he was forced to come clean. He wrote of the effects of living in secrecy in Psalm 32 when he said, "Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones grew old. Through my groaning all the day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer." (emphasis mine)

Coming out of the darkness is really a matter of trust. We must stop trying to control the circumstances around us and the consequences of our actions, and trust God to do what only He is capable of doing. I would encourage you today if you are living with a secret to come out of the darkness, turn on the light, and allow God to relieve your burden. You will probably find that the pain of staying in the darkness was actually greater than the pain of getting honest. And in doing so you will once again enjoy intimate fellowship with the Father!

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1. What are the obstacles associated with keeping a secret?

2. How does our need for secrecy hinder our relationship with others and with God?

3.  Why is secrecy a trust issue?

Responsive Prayer

My Father in heaven, my God blessed be Your Holy Name. You are omniscient and there is nothing that is hidden from Your sight. You are sovereign over every circumstance in the universe. I confess that there are times that my fear of what You might allow to happen keeps me from trusting You as I should. Grant me the courage I pray to come completely into the light and trust You fully with whatever the outcome might be, so that I can live in fellowship with others and enjoy total intimacy with You. Thank You for convicting me by Your Holy Spirit of the situations in my life that need to be addressed directly, and empower me to accept and handle whatever consequences may occur. Be glorified in my life as my inner testimony comes into full harmony with my outward testimony. Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Friday, August 28, 2015

What will you put on today?

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

Colossians 3:12-14 NKJV

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  (13)  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  (14)  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

Meditation

Every day we must decide what clothes we are to wear, depending on where we will be, who we will be with, what we will be doing and what the weather is supposed to be like in the place that we will be spending our time. We might decide the night before or even in the morning when we wake up, but we must each make these choices on a daily basis. And although this is a deliberate decision we are admonished by scripture not to be anxious about it. "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25 ESV)

Besides advising us to be modest the Bible says very little about how we are to look on the outside, but in today's passage it does speak of how we are to look on the inside. Our heart attitudes must reflect our true identity as the elect of God, holy and beloved. While our outward attire may allow us to fit in with the world around us, the attitude of our hearts will cause us to be much different from those of the world. This harmonizes with Jesus Christ who Himself once walked in the same world that we are living in today. His outward appearance was so ordinary that when the Roman army came to arrest Him they needed one of His own followers to identify Him. Judas Iscariot whom Jesus addressed as "friend" identified Him with a kiss. On the other hand those who concerned themselves with His heart not only followed Him in droves, but often left everything in order to do so.

If people today are to know of Jesus rather than merely know about Him, they will need to see Him in us. So while our outward appearance may be ordinary, the radiance of Christ's character must be allowed to shine through us brilliantly.

John 13:34-35 NKJV 

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

 Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1. How much thought do you put into choosing what you will wear each day?

2. What heart attitude could you put on today that would glorify God most?

3.  How could the love of Christ manifest itself more radiantly in your life today?

Responsive Prayer

My father in heaven, My God, blessed be Your Holy Name. You sent Your Son to rescue me from the darkness and usher me into the Kingdom of Light. I confess that too often dear Father, I spend more time concerned about what I will wear on the outside than who I am on the inside. Thank You for placing the radiance of Jesus Christ in me in the Person of the Holy Spirit. Allow the beauty of Christ to shine through this rustic exterior. May I consistently be clothed with the love of Jesus Christ today. Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Conviction or Condemnation, What's the Difference?

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

Romans 8:1 NKJV 

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Meditation

Most of us before coming to know Christ as our Savior and our life have done some pretty shameful things. The memories of our past life seem to haunt us at times and prevent us from fully believing that we can ever escape the bondage of sin. This is called in biblical terms, a stronghold. The condemnation of our conscience is what is being spoken of here in Romans 8:1. The key to escaping the bondage of this stronghold is found in the three words, "in Christ Jesus." Perhaps that is why the writers of the New King James Version of the bible included the phrase, "who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." When we are regenerated we have the option of living out of the flesh or out of our regenerated Spirit. When we rely on our own resources, the enemy uses our past memories to condemn us which keeps us from experiencing the abundant life. This passage teaches us that God's Spirit does not condemn us, but instead He convicts us. And there is quite a difference in the two. Listen to what author Miles Stanford says;

"There is a world of difference between the nagging, corroding condemnations of the devil, and the clear convictions of the Holy Spirit. The enemy speaks in generalities, seeking to smear us by a vague sense of failure, uncleanness, confusion, heaviness of spirit. The answer to that is there is 'now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.'

"The Holy Spirit speaks specifically, and His convicting, although rebuking us, is sweet and clean and true and acceptable. He points out some exact and immediate action by which we have temporarily given in to sin. Satan points downward to despair, but the Spirit points upward to cleansing."

Our choice is whether to continue to allow ourselves to be badgered by the enemy or to allow Christ to live His life through us by living out of our newly regenerated spirit.

Galatians 5:16 NKJV 

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

 

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1.     What memories of guilt and shame has the enemy used to keep you in bondage to your past sinful lifestyle?

2.     How is it possible to eliminate condemnation in your consciousness?

3.     Which choice given in the last paragraph would be the best for you to make and why?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Lord and Holy Redeemer, Jesus Christ, blessed be Your Name and blessed am I to have You as my intimate companion in the person of the Holy Spirit. I confess Lord that too often the voice of the enemy condemning me in my mind is mistaken for Your voice. Starting today may I have the discernment that I need to distinguish between his voice and Yours. May I reject the condemnation as a lie and accept the conviction as the voice of a loving Father seeking my personal growth and wellbeing. Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",