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Proverbs

Proverbs

Today’s Scripture: “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” Proverbs 11:25

The promise is made to the liberal soul — the one who is liberal in giving not only material things but giving of his time, his love, his ministry to others. In our human nature we tend to be selfish, consumed with our own interests, pursuing our own plans. But the previous verse tells us that spirit leads to poverty.

In contrast, the one who by grace loves his neighbor, considers others and looks for opportunities to minister to them is the one who is made “fat.” God has promised that the one who sows bountifully will reap bountifully. It is a principle that Paul tells us concerns our giving but it reaches into every avenue of Christian service.

No one is more impoverished than the covetous man who finds no joy in giving or the person who is so caught up in her own plans that she has no time to pray for or minister to others. But when one is giving liberally of his money, his time and himself, he is then watered with great joy in serving God.

Just as an individual with a giving spirit is enjoying showers from on high, it is equally true of a church that possesses that generous spirit. There is a joy that prevails within the body of Christ as joyous givers give and others are blessed by their giving. A church with a giving spirit is a church which is honoring Jesus Christ as it faithfully ministers to those in need.

 

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The Power Of Love

The Power of Love

Today’s Scripture: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” I Corinthians 13:4-6

Today’s verses teach that love does not “rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.” This means believers aren’t to dwell on another man’s wrongs and give up on him as a hopeless, despicable criminal. Love enables us to hate the evil unjustly visited upon the innocent while valuing the one who committed the act. More simply, we hate the sin but love the sinner.

In spite of everything that seems apparent about someone who’s been driven to sinful actions, God has created him or her with the potential to be made into something good. Outwardly, it may seem as if substandard upbringing, poor treatment, or negative influences have corrupted a person’s morality and worldview beyond repair. For such individuals, the capacity to love and rise above circumstances can get buried so deep that it may seem nonexistent.

God still considers the most evil and corrupt person worth saving. How do I know this is true? Because in the first verse we teach our school children, He said that whoever believes in God’s Son will have eternal life (John 3:16). Many of us are guilty of thinking we deserve His love because we look so good compared to unlovable kinds of people. God doesn’t work that way. He loves every single person, no matter how awful his or her sin may be.

God doesn’t want anyone to mistreat others; such sinful action will bring repercussions or divine discipline. But the Lord does extend His care, His mercy, and His salvation to anybody who wants it. He keeps no record of wrongs. He loves without conditions. And He wants us to love in the same way.

 

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Impossible Love Made Possible

 

Impossible Love Made Possible

Today’s Scripture: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23

When a lawyer asked Jesus which commandment was the greatest, He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37, 39). What an overwhelming assignment!

 

In our own strength, none of us can live up to this obligation, but the Lord has provided a way for Christians to do the impossible. The indwelling Holy Spirit works to produce His fruit in us, and first on the list is love (Galatians 5:22). In fact, the other eight qualities are really just descriptions of its expression.

 

Whenever we demonstrate kindness, patience, or gentleness, we see the Lord’s love at work through us, especially when the other person has been unkind and doesn’t deserve such pleasant treatment. This fruit is not produced by trying harder to muster good will toward someone who is irritating or hard to get along with. Instead, think of the process more like sap running through a branch on a grape-vine. The branch doesn’t make grapes; the sap does. In the same way, the Spirit flows through us, producing God’s love in us, so that we can pass it on to Him and others.

 

Agape love is the reason we are able to care for someone who mistreats us—it’s God’s doing, not ours. Even the adoration we offer the Lord is not something that we can produce in our own heart apart from His assistance. Though the command to love is enormous, God’s grace makes it possible.

 

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Serving Others

Serving Others

Today’s Scripture: “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” Philippians 2:3b-4

What mindset invariably leads to serving others? Humility. When we see ourselves as undeserving of the least of God’s goodness, then we esteem others better than ourselves. When our own faults are clearly before our eyes, we have no room left for criticizing others.

And when we, in genuine and personal humility, esteem others as we ought, we will cease to look for ways to please ourselves and begin to look for ways to help others. Rather than using others to better ourselves, we will use ourselves to better others.

What have your goals and thoughts been about this day? Are you planning the hours in such a way as to better your own situation or as to better the situation of others around you? Is your great concern the fulfillment of personal ambitions or is your ambition to lose yourself in the service and benefiting of God’s people around you?

How we plan our day, how we use our time, how we spend our money — these are all barometers of true humility. May your self-esteem be transformed today into service for others. May you find the great joy and satisfaction that only and paradoxically comes from giving up your own pleasure for the sake of others’.

 

 

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Entering The King’s Service

Entering The King’s Service

Today’s Scripture: “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear. Forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: For He is thy Lord; and worship thou Him.”—Psalm  45:10-11.

IT IS difficult to decide the occasion of this Psalm, which was written to celebrate a royal marriage. But there is much which goes far beyond the immediate circumstances out of which it sprang. We recognize its prophetic character, as well as its historic basis, and that it points onward to Christ the King. It is so quoted in Hebrews 1:8-9, and we may therefore certainly appropriate the Psalm as directly addressed to our Lord, who is our rightful King.

Christ’s claim rests on these grounds: The Righteousness of His Rule. His sceptre is not a rod of iron, but of “uprightness.” Our King loves righteousness and hates wickedness. Therefore His throne stands firm, and He claims the allegiance of all pure and upright souls. Would that all rulers and leaders realized that right makes might!

The Gladness of His Reign. The righteous heart is the joyful one; and our King teaches us that so far from holiness meaning gloom and depression, it is the root and fountain of true and abiding joy. Jesus was “the Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” but underneath was an abiding and eternal joy, like the spring flowers that nestle under the warm coverlet of snow. There is a blessed attractiveness in Christian joy and gladness, which is characteristic of our King, and should mark all His subjects.

The Love of His Heart. The bride is willing to forsake her own people and her father’s house, and if we take the Lord Jesus to be our King and Husband, we shall be willing to count all things but loss for love of Him. Therefore He said, “Whosoever he be that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple.”

“‘He is thy Lord.” We are reminded that however tender may be the sense of Christ’s love to us, we must reverence Him as our King. Reverence is the best foundation for true affection. We shall never fully know His salvation until we recognize and own Him as King. “Thy King cometh unto thee, having salvation.” “He is exalted as Prince and Saviour.” Lift up your heads, O gates of Mansoul, and the King of Glory shall come in! (Revelation 3:20).

PRAYER

In all things attune our hearts to the holiness and harmony of Thy Kingdom. Hasten the time when Thy Kingdom shall come, and Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. AMEN.

 

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Supreme Love

Supreme Love

Today’s Scripture:  “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”   I Corinthians 13:1-3

There is no emotion of greater importance than love. Paul’s incomparable treatise on this subject in 1 Corinthians 13 is sandwiched between two chapters that deal with spiritual gifts. The Corinthians focused too much on their display of such gifts, so the apostle showed them the “more excellent way” of love (I  Corinthians  12:31). Interestingly, he made no attempt to define love but instead described its importance and expression.

The type of love which Paul is talking about is not human in origin, but rather a love coming from God—a part of His very nature. It’s unselfish, sacrificial love which acts on behalf of someone else. Since the Lord wants to transform our character into the image of His Son, this priority makes perfect sense, because whenever we display such selfless care for one another, that’s when we are the most like Christ.

The first three verses of this chapter issue us a warning. Without the motivation of love, all our good deeds—even service for the Lord—will profit us nothing. In God’s eyes, a loving spirit is more important than all our impressive words, knowledge, faith, generosity, and self-sacrifice. When we stand before Christ to be judged for our good works, those deeds done for selfish reasons will not be worthy of reward.

We are all blinded to some degree when it comes to our motives, so discerning why we serve God or do good deeds can be difficult. Pray to know your heart’s hidden intentions, and replace any self-centered motivations with His “more excellent way” of love. Then your works will be of eternal value.

 

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God’s Challenge To Man

God’s Challenge To Man

Today’s Scripture: “I heard the voice of the Lord. saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”—Isaiah 6:8.

FROM THE midst of Heaven there comes to our earth this cry for help, an appeal from the Eternal Trinity: “Who will go for us!” It reminds us of the last commission of our Lord to His disciples, that they should go into all the world, and preach His Gospel to every creature. The Seraphim may minister to those who have become the heirs of salvation, but only those who have been redeemed from among men have the high privilege of being called to the supreme work of redemption.

Notice the preparation for responding to that appeal. The vision of the Eternal: “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne.” Suddenly the material temple, in which Isaiah was probably worshipping, gave place to the eternal, the altar and the laver to the Throne of God; the cloud of incense, to the skirts of glory that filled the air; the choir of Levites, to the bands of the Seraphim that engirdled the sapphire throne. And above all, he beheld the glory of Christ (John 12:41).

This led to the vision of his own heart: “Woe is me, for I am undone.” It is when a man reaches the snowline that he realizes the comparative impurity of the whitest white that earth can produce. Probably there was no one in all Jerusalem who lived nearer to God than Isaiah, but when he learned that, in the estimation of the Seraphim, God was thrice holy; when he saw them veil their faces in adoration; when he discovered that the whole universe was filled with God, then he remembered the hidden evil of his own heart, and cried out “I am unclean!” Not a moment intervened between his confession and the cleansing of his iniquity, and he was able to say: “Send me.”

Have you heard that cry for help from the heart of Christ? Are you seeking to enter into His yearning love for the souls of men? He says to each one of us: “Could ye not watch with Me one hour?” Give yourself to Him that you may be used in His service: “Here am I, send me, use me.”

PRAYER

Lord, grant us ears to hear, eyes to see, wills to obey, hearts to love; then declare what Thou wilt, reveal what Thou wilt, command what Thou wilt, demand what Thou wilt. AMEN.

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Decision Making

Decision Making

Today’s Scripture: “Walk as children of light: proving what is acceptable unto the LordEphesians 5:8b, 10

What criteria do you use in order to decide for or against a particular action, ambition, or way of life? Do you weigh the financial benefit, the career advancement, or perhaps the physical pleasure that any given opportunity may afford?

Paul tells us, first, to walk as children of light. In other words, our lives ought to be radically, fundamentally, unmistakably different that those who do not claim Christ as their Lord and Savior. Light is glaringly different than darkness.

We should not be asking the same questions that anyone in the world would ask in our same situation. We should not be making decisions that reflect the priorities and self-seeking ways of sinful, unsaved individuals. We should not have the same goals as those who don’t have an eternal perspective.

In short, Paul says, we should be testing everything to see, not whether it is pleasing to our palate or to the world, but what is acceptable to the Lord. Is this thing in agreement with His Word? Will this draw me closer to Christ? Does this further the cause of Christ in the world, through me?

Thankfully, God has not left us in the dark regarding how to walk as children of light. We do not have to guess about what is pleasing to Christ. He has given us all we need to know about His desires and pleasures by communicating them to us in His Word.

Therefore, take His Word, discover what is acceptable to the Lord, and walk in it as a child of light.

 

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Seeking Lost Souls

Seeking Lost Souls

“Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost….Likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.”– Luke_15:6-7.

 

OUR LORD sought the proximity of sinners, not because there was any affinity between His character and theirs, but because He desired to bring them back from the far country into which they had wandered. The straying sheep heedlessly nibbles at the grass which lies immediately in front, and so crops its way until it has wandered a great distance from the shepherd, and the rest of the flock.

Is this a picture of your life? Have you lived only for personal gratification, drifting in thoughtlessness and unconsciousness of the dangers which threaten to destroy you? Then remember, that though you care not for yourself, your condition is stirring the deepest solicitude in the heart of Christ. Probably you will never find your way back to Him, but Christ is on your track, and He will not relinquish his quest until He has come just where you are, and has extricated you from the rocks on which you have fallen, or from the thorns in which you are entangled.

The lost coin bears the image and superscription of the sovereign, once clear-cut by the mint, but it lies unused, tarnished and perhaps defaced, amidst the dust of the corner, or the chink of the floor. Its owner sweeps, ransacks, and explores every possible hiding-place until it is found. How aptly that lost coin represents the soul of man, made in the image of God, lying amid the dust of sin. The one hope for the sinner is the anxiety in the heart of God, who leaves no stone unturned that He may win us back. There is disturbance and removal, and the house of life is upset in every part, for no other reason than that we should be recovered.

 

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Gratitude

Gratitude

Today’s Scripture: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Psalm 103:2

How easily, in the muck and clamor and distractions of life, we seem to forget the Lord’s many blessings to us. If we pray at all then our prayers are largely taken up with requests for family and friends and health and blessing. But how often do we pause to bless the Lord, to praise Him for the many benefits He has given to us already?

Thousands of people struggle daily with discouragement and frustration, or at least with discontentment, even though they are surrounded by prosperity and property. Why is this? Why does there seem to be so little contentment in the midst of such enormous wealth? Perhaps it is because we have neglected to develop grateful hearts.

But we are here encouraged to develop the habit of gratefulness — forget no all his benefits. Not a single blessing of God should be taken for granted. Not a single benefit should come to us without our carefully marking it as yet another unmerited favor from our heavenly Father.

It is also interesting that this admonition is an entirely inward one. The psalmist is actually speaking to himself, addressing his own soul. He is keeping a close check on his spirit and correcting trends that he sees there toward ingratitude, complaining, or dissatisfaction.

We ought, also, to stir ourselves up to habitual, genuine, God-centered gratitude; which will then lead us to habitual, genuine, God-centered praise.