Category: Growth And Faith

Today’s Growvotion

8-8

“The Holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

http://utmost.org/

 The Spirit Controlled Life

The natural tendency in the life of most Christians today is to let Christ in but not relinquish control.

The reason so many professing Christians are living carnal lives is they recognize His presence but not His Lordship. They consider Jesus Christ as a factor in their lives when it is convenient but never let Him be the major factor.

The committed Christian puts Christ in the driver’s seat instead of Him just riding along as a passenger. It doesn’t make life easier, however. In fact, it becomes somewhat harder but infinitely more joyous.

Prayer: That I relinquish all control over my life to the Holy Spirit’s control.

(These notes are by John Griffin. To more fully understand these comments, read the daily devotion for the day dated the same as this in “My Utmost For His Highest”).

A Little Bit More Read more »

Be Intentional

11 …pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. (1 Tim.6:11)

As Christians, we attempt to live the life God desires of us. But, often, the old sin nature raises its ugly head and we act out of our human selfishness and greed. We know we are prone to do this and often excuse it as normal. But, for the Christian Disciple of Christ, we are not a slave to the normal, that sinful nature.

Paul puts it this way, Romans 6:11-14 (NKJV)
11  Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
12  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
13  And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
14  For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

V16
16  Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

We do not have to obey that urge to indulge in selfish behavior. We have the power to overcome that which previously controlled our lives. But we are no longer that person.

We might admit that we are weak. But, that is an excuse for our behavior which is not God’s will for us.

The best way to display the righteousness which God has granted us is to be intentional. That means we consciously and intentionally abandon that selfish tendency to react in ungodly ways. Then we determine that we will do that which is pleasing to Him.

God’s word says, “James 4:17 (NKJV)
17  Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

You can’t get any plainer than that. It is not enough to avoid doing wrong, we also must seek opportunities to do good things.

Obedience

Obedience Precedes Understanding

Obedience to Christ’s commands always brings fulfillment. When the Lord gives you instructions, obey immediately. Don’t wait until you have figured it all out and everything makes perfect sense to you.

Sometimes God will lead you to do things that you will not fully understand until after you have done them. He does not usually reveal all the details of His will when He first speaks to you. Instead, He tells you enough so you can implement what He has said, but He withholds enough information so that you must continue to rely upon His guidance.

Your response will affect what God does next in your life. Your obedience may affect how others around you experience Christ as well. If there is any directive God has given you that you have not obeyed, obey that word immediately and watch God’s perfect plan unfold in your life.

Experiencing God Day by Day: A Devotional and Journal.

God does not tell us all we want to know about anything, but He will tell us all we need to know.
Vance Havner – All the Days.

Yet will I Rejoice

“Yet” – A Powerful Word

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (KJV)

17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

The times in Vs 17 were common occurrences in Habakkuk’s day. They happened to everybody.

Today’s parallels might be more like: When my roof is leaking and my car won’t start, and I’ve run out of money before the end of the month and my kids are sick and my dog bit my neighbor and my boss yelled at me and my husband or wife is mad at me ….

Or, the worse times like, I’ve lost my job, or I’ve lost a loved one or, my spouse has left me, I’ve got to move because I no longer can afford my house payments, or I’m facing a jail sentence…

The passage doesn’t say “if” bad things happen but “when” they happen. Trouble is going to come. Life is not like the song from Oklahoma, ” I’ve got a wonderful feeling, everything’s going my way.”

Your reactions on the day that trouble comes will depend upon the decisions you make today about what will affect your JOY.

Verse 19 is the result of verse 17. When you will “yet” rejoice in the face of trouble, You then release God to open up the windows of Heaven and bless you beyond measure.

Are you a Practical Atheist?

Are you a practical atheist?

What is that?

A practical atheist is one who believes God can perform miracles, but does not believe He will do it in your life.

There is something missing in the life of the Christian who never seems to be able to grasp the impractical side of the Christian life. That means, he is so set in his logic that he cannot accept the fact that God is able to transcend that which just doesn’t make sense. He is bound mentally to accept only that which can be explained.

He admires people who can give a testimony of praise of something miraculous that has happened to them.  He may even at times pray that God will show Himself real and mighty in some way. But, he has never felt the spiritual unction to ask God in the faith that is necessary.

It is no sin to be practical minded. In many ways it is admirable, but until a person is able to fully acknowledge the capability of God’s ability to transcend the natural and do the supernatural it will not happen. Too often we acknowledge our belief that God can do whatever He wants, then we add a safety clause: “But I just don’t think God will do that with me!” We become practical atheists, believing that God can perform miracles but never expecting a miracle in our own lives.
(Experiencing God Day by Day: A Devotional and Journal).  It is truly a sad state to be in.

What is the answer? The answer lies in our ability to set aside that practical thinking and accept that God can and will do that which should not be possible. Read more »

Perfecting Holiness

2 Corinthians 7:1 (NKJV)
… let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

As I read this verse of scripture, I began to ponder the difference in “Pursuing” and “Perfecting”.

I Timothy 6:11 tells us to “pursue Righteousness and Godliness

2 Cor. 7:1 says to “perfect Holiness”

If we try to stick to these words as I understand them, we pursue something we need and want but we perfect that which we already have.

It is probably only a matter of semantics. Or, something in the translation.

I have always held to the idea that we receive Holiness as part of our salvation and the word “perfect” would agree with that.

How do we perfect Holiness?

The beginning words of that statement tell us. “…cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit”. That’s scripture talk for, “get the sin out of your life”. That’s a tall order but, we are not alone. Obedience is our response to the Holy Spirit when He “blows the whistle” on us when we stray from His will. That’s His job. Our job is to hear Him with a willingness to correct those things that He calls sin.

For Righteousness, we also receive the righteousness of Jesus as God lets His righteousness count as our righteousness (I Cor. 1:30). To me, my righteousness needs to be perfected just as Holiness needs to be perfected.

“Godliness” however is different from righteousness in that (with the Sanctifying process), we are made more and more “Godly” as we grow in our Christ-likeness. It is a “more and more” growing process. We will never achieve perfect Godliness.

So, just what is Godliness? My definition of Godliness is “becoming more and more like God”. Our pattern of perfect Godliness is the image of Jesus Christ. We look at Jesus and let the Holy Spirit teach us how to be like Jesus because He said, “To see me is to see the Father” (John 14:9).

Sometimes we can get hung up on wording and let it confuse us. I believe that what we read in God’s word must be consistent with itself. Therefore when I read something that seems inconsistent, I can usually clear it up by reading similar passages. (A good commentary helps).

The real message in all of this is to continuously seek to learn and understand, (and apply) the word of God and not let “semantics” be a stumbling block.

What are you after?

11 …pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. (I Tim. 6:11)

What are you after?

I dare say most of us would say, “a good life”, “love”, “security”. There is certainly nothing wrong with these things. They are worthy of our longing for joy and peace.

What does God’s word say should be our pursuits?

  1. Righteousness – the birthright of every true Christian. It is an extension of the Righteousness of Jesus Himself. (Phlp. 3:9)
  2. Godliness – a deep passion to grow in Christ-likeness (in grace, mercy, love, joy, forgiveness, peace, contentment etc.) (I Peter 6:6-7)
  3. Faith – without faith it impossible to please God. (Heb. 11:6)
  4. Love – God commands that we love one another. (Jn. 15:12)
  5. Patience – grows out of tribulation and trials. (James 1:3)
  6. Gentleness – strength under restraint. (Eph. 4:2)

Are not these just an expansion of a good life, love, and security? Of all the things included in God’s word pointing to how to have a good life are expressed in these 6 words.

The opposite are found in Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV)
19  The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
20  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Few “Christians” would admit to most of these characteristics. But, even one of them characterizes one who is living on the border of ungodliness. Any one of them would call to question the claim of desiring to live a life of holiness and godliness.

Can you identify an area in your life that is lacking in that which defines the sincerity of the born again Christian?

What are you after? Comfort, pleasure and things, or a life that is acceptable and pleasing to God?

Obedience

It is never a minor thing to know God’s will and not do it. God calls this sin. We can make excuses for our lack of obedience: “I’m just not ready yet” or “I’ll do it later!” or “I don’t think it will make a difference” or “I can’t afford to!” We rationalize, we procrastinate; yet, in God’s eyes, rationalization and procrastination are nothing more than disobedience. At times we deceive ourselves into thinking that good intentions equal obedient actions. They do not. A good intention without corresponding activity is disobedience. When we encounter God and He gives us a direction, it is not enough to write down the date in our spiritual journal, or even to tell our friends and church of our “decision.” God’s call is not to “make a decision” but to obey! Deciding to obey is not equal to obeying! (Matt. 21:28–31). Loudly affirming the necessity of obedience is not the same as obeying (Luke 6:46). Making commitments, even publicly, is not the same as obeying our Lord. Substituting our own good works is not the same as obeying.

Experiencing God Day by Day: A Devotional and Journal.

The Bitter Cup

THE BITTER CUP

One of the biggest mistakes we as committed disciples can make is to try to sweeten the bitter cup God has given a fellow Christian. Our first impulse is to “make it better”. We grieve to see a friend or family member go through a difficult circumstance. We may even take measures to help the person out of that circumstance.

Seldom do we stop to consider that God may be doing a work through that circumstance that is His will for that person. We are quick to credit bad things to Satan’s attack. There are things that are Satan’s doing but we must remember, Satan is as much under God’s power and will as we are.

The Christian that is undergoing a difficult time is often being subjected to the refining fire that is designed to strengthen him spiritually.  When the Christian friend tries to do the “Christian” thing and tries to remove that person from that circumstance he may be thwarting God’s working in his life.

I can look back over my own life and think about the worst things that happened to me and now I can consider many of them to be the best things that ever happened to me. I can see now how those things helped mold me into the person I am today under the Holy Spirit. There were some bad things and I regret some of my actions during those times but, even those were growth periods in my life.

If we could only understand that for those of us who “love God and called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28), there really are no bad things. Uncomfortable? yes!, bad? perhaps at the time, but still, under God’s permissive will, they were things that have brought me into a greater understanding of who God is and what He has been trying to do in my life. I can’t say I was always glad for them but I can still say they were good for me.

And, yes, there were those who would have rescued me during those times (if they could), and I appreciated their sentiment and caring. They did help my feelings but I still know that it was not God’s will that I be rescued.

There is still much that God wants to teach us. It is up to us, whether we would be the rescued, or the (would be), rescuer, that we can learn about God’s purpose for those bitter times that seem to overwhelm us.

So, what are we to do when we see a brother suffer?

  1. First, understand that God may be trying to teach him something and we may never know what that may be.
  2. Second, be sympathetic without trying to fix it.
  3. Third, do not try to sweeten the bitter cup. He just may need to endure it.
  4. Fourth, Let him know you care.

These are the things that God will use to make him malleable into the image of Jesus Christ.

Discipleship

What is a Disciple?

 Do you consider yourself a Disciple of Jesus Christ? Do you really understand what Discipleship means?

Of course, it involves developing a strong prayer life, a disciplined pattern of Scripture memory, and being a faithful witness to the lost? But, true discipleship is so much more than that.

There are three fundamental areas involved in true discipleship. (1 Corinthians 13:13):

FAITH

Is your faith such that you are willing to lay it on the line when the chips are down, even to the point of climbing into the fiery furnace (so to speak), as did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? (Daniel 3)

Are you able to authenticate your faith by demonstrating congruency of life between the secular and the spiritual? (Psalm 24:3, 4)

Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek himThe work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.” (Hebrews 11:6; John 6:29)

HOPE  

Is your primary focus on the temporal or on the eternal? Do you, by your life demonstrate the fact that you understand the transitory nature of our earthly existence, and the importance of investing in the eternal?

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earthlooking for a country of their ownlonging for a better country—a heavenly one… ” (Hebrews 11:13-16-nkjv)

LOVE

Do you live a life of selfless sacrifice? Have you been so impacted by Christ’s love that you are compelled to live a life of loving service rather than selfish indulgence?

For Christs love compels usthat those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15)

These are the fundamental characteristics of Discipleship. If you were unable to say an unqualified YES to these questions, don’t despair.

Few of us are able to be so adamant in our answers. In fact, we know that Jesus’ disciples were often fickle and shallow in their understanding of the basics of discipleship. But, they were willing to hang in there by determination and focus on what Jesus required of His Disciples. They also believed so deeply in their cause that many were killed for their belief.

But, they were also able to change the world and leave a legacy of discipleship that we are able to follow.

Adapted from “Facts of the Matter” Daily Devotionals”