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Discussion in 'Discussions about Religion.' started by RiverOL, Oct 29, 2013.

  1. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Unmitigated Genius
    . . . he will teach you all things—John 14:26
    What’s the Holy Spirit like? Well, we know he’s a genius, but not the kind we’re used to. His genius is “not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age” (1 Corinthians 2:6). His genius is beyond human discovery. He “searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). He’s an unmitigated genius. A perfect genius.

    We also know, he’s here for us. He was sent by God the Father, at the request of our King, Jesus Christ, to bring truth “out into the open” and “make everything plain”—all to “bring out his best in us” (1 Corinthians 2:6-10; John 14:25-27 MSG). He was sent to take you and me “by the hand” and guide us “into all the truth there is” (John 16:12-15 MSG). Think about that . . . “all the truth there is” . . . suffused into our lives. Well, that’s his mission.

    So, the only question is, what do we do? The answer is, not that much, actually. We just give him a chance, by doing the simple things Jesus taught: meditate, pray, study, fast, serve, confess, repent, worship, celebrate. He does everything else. Of course, the more we do, the better—though, even one of those, even imperfectly done, allows the Spirit to introduce some of his genius into our lives. When we fail to do even a little, though, it doesn’t: “The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16 MSG).
    Okay, so what do we do?

    Do something, brother, right now. Even something small. Let’s all do something—and allow the Spirit to inject a bit of his genius into our lives, this day. He’s waiting. He’s right there, right inside your very being, right now . . . excited . . . waiting.
     
  2. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Stay in the kitchen
    For reading & meditation: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
    "God ' will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but ' will provide the way of escape '" (v.13, NASB)

    We turn now to another sphere of life from which many of us might long to be exempted - the area of strong and unrelenting temptation. Most of us, if we are honest, would like to be excused from having to face temptation, but temptation has its uses: it can work in Gods hands to the development of character, and help perfect the image of Christ in our lives.

    Mark Antony was called "the silver-throated orator of Rome", but he had the fatal flaw of not being able to resist a temptation. That indictment, I'm afraid, applies not just to Mark Antony, or to the ranks of the unconverted, but to many in the Church also. We all face temptation, and unfortunately far too many of us fall beneath its power. The root meaning of the word "temptation" (Greek, peirasmos) is that of testing. The dictionary defines temptation as the act of enticement to do wrong, by promise of pleasure or gain".

    Charles Swindoll commented: "Temptation motivates you to be bad by promising something good." Isn't that just like the devil? Are you facing a particularly fierce temptation at the moment? Then take heart - you have all the power you need to stand up under the blast. Harry S. Truman, a former President of the United States, is famous for saying: "If you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen." But I've not found anyone who was able to stay strong without spending time in the "kitchen". If you can't stand the heat, stay in the kitchen - and in God's strength, learn to handle it."

    Prayer:
    O Father, show me how to experience continual victory over temptation. And help me, in this area of life also, not to be "a corn of wheat afraid to die" I face the fire in Your strength, knowing that You never allow what You cannot use. Amen.
     
  3. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    All I Need to Know

    "Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."1

    You are probably familiar with the article by Robert Fulghum titled, "All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." It's a classic and contains priceless advice.

    "Most of what I really need to know about life, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but here in the sandbox at nursery school.

    "These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush! Live a balanced life. Learn and think, draw and paint, sing and dance, play and work a little every day.

    "When you get out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder.

    "Remember the little seed in the plastic cup. The roots go down and the plant goes up, and nobody really knows why, but we are all like that.

    "Goldfish, hamsters, white mice, and even the little seed in the plastic cup—they all die. So do we.

    "And then remember the book about Dick and Jane, and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK. Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule, love and basic sanitation, ecology, politics and sane living.

    "Think of what a better world it would be if all of us—the whole world—had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon, and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had a basic policy in our nation, and other nations, always to put things back where we found them, and cleaned up our own messes.

    "And it's still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it's best to hold hands and stick together."

    Personally speaking, I had a dear friend whom I met very early in life. We went through grade school and technical college together. We'd been through national service together, too, and even though we'd lived thousands of miles apart, we never lost contact with each other. Not so long ago my friend fell on hard times, became discouraged, withdrew into himself and took his life. A tragic waste. I wish he had reached out to me in his hour of despair. How sad it is when, in our hour of need, as adults, we forget to hold hands and reach out for the help and support we need—so we can, as Jesus taught, "bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."

    Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be a loving and kind burden-bearer, and above all to be Christ-like in all that I say and do for others. And when I need help, give me the courage to reach out and admit that I have a problem and need help. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
     
  4. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    The original quitters
    For reading & meditation: Psalms 78:1-11
    "They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them." (v.11)

    We ended yesterday with the advice: "If you can't stand the heat, stay in the kitchen - and in God's strength, learn to handle it." The psalm before us today begins by commanding us to listen: "O my people, hear my teaching." You have only to read a few verses of this psalm to see that the psalmist Asaph is recalling the disobedience which characterised the Jews during their forty years' wandering in the wilderness. Then a strange verse appears: "The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle" (v.9).

    These Ephraimites were equipped with all they needed for warfare, but on the day of the battle - that is, the first day of the fray - they "turned back". Although well armed, in the moment of testing they were overcome by fear. Doubtless they paraded well and looked fine as they marched out to battle, but when they came face to face with the enemy, the only weapon they used was a cloud of dust as they retreated en masse - and in a hurry. A preacher I once heard referred to the Ephraimites in this verse as "the original quitters".

    What an indictment. The Ephraimites live on, you know; they are to be found in the rank and file of many a modern-day congregation. They look fine in church on Sunday mornings with a hymn book and a Bible in their hands, but let the hot rays of temptation beat upon them - and they run. They surrender to temptation because they have never learned how to surrender to God. As I've said before - when we surrender to God, then we need not surrender to anything else.

    Prayer:
    Lord Jesus, help me clarify to myself whether I am surrendered or not. For I see that if I do not fall at Your feet, then I fall at the feet of things and circumstances. Show me at whose feet I am lying. For Your own Name's sake. Amen.
     
  5. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Is Unbelief an Intellectual Issue?

    "Now, therefore, fear [reverence] the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth…. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve … but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."1

    "I don't believe in God," say some, "because to do so means committing intellectual suicide." Really?

    There is nothing wrong with having honest doubts about God, asking intelligent questions, and examining evidence. This is good for one's growth. Furthermore, most of us struggle with doubts from time to time. I certainly do. And there are many things I don't understand and probably won't be able to this side of heaven. However, is belief in God an intellectual issue?

    Partially yes, but I wonder if it's not more a moral issue. For example, if I choose to believe in God, I know that I am morally responsible and accountable for my life and actions. This is a demanding path to choose and follow. If, on the other hand, I choose not to believe in God, I don't have to follow his directives. I then deceive myself into thinking that I am not responsible for my life and actions and am only accountable to myself. This way I can live and do as I please—a very easy path to follow. This, however, is not only self-deceptive but also ultimately self-destructive. For as God's Word clearly states, in the end "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ," 2 and again, "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment."3

    And, by the way, if I say I believe in God but disregard his directives, do I really believe in God? Belief may have many facets but one thing is certain, it is also a moral issue and a moral choice. And it's not what we say that counts, but what we do.

    Furthermore, choice needs to be based not on emotion but on an act of one's will. As another has wisely said, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

    Remember too, "It is choice, not chance that determines destiny." This includes our eternal destiny. And as Joshua said to the ancient Israelites, "Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve."

    Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please open the eyes of my understanding so that I can see my true motives in all the choices I make. Help me to see truth from your perspective and give me the wisdom and courage to choose your way and not my own. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
     
  6. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    "No" to self - "Yes" to God
    For reading & meditation: Colossians 3:1-17
    "' seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature '" (vv.9-10, RSV)

    We continue from where we left off yesterday, saying that the reason why many of today's Christians surrender so easily to temptation is because they have never really learned how to surrender to God. Many (not all) of the people who come for counselling are struggling with the fact that they have never understood how to die to their own purposes and live for God's purposes.

    Time and time again in counselling, it has been my experience to watch a person slowly recognise that his problem is due, not so much to what is happening to him as his reactions to what is happening to him - and then decide not to do anything about it. I am saddened by the trend to treat biblical principles as optional rather than obligatory. It is amazing to notice the casualness with which so many approach Scripture and say: "I suppose I shouldn't really be living like this; I had better try to change - if I can."

    When that attitude is present, there is little hope of change. You see, if there is no experienced death, there can be no experienced life. When a person does not see the importance of recognising, albeit painfully, that God's way is the way of obedience, irrespective of whether we feel like it or not, and involves death to wrong patterns of thinking and wrong patterns of behaving, there will be no victory and no change. Putting on the new nature requires first putting off the old nature by asserting, with all the conviction possible, that one is going to go God's way no matter how much the carnal nature argues to the contrary.

    Prayer:
    O Father, help me shout a thunderous "No" to anything that is contrary to You, and a mighty "Yes" to all You want to do in my life. And when my carnal nature argues back, help me to put it in its place - under my feet. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
     
  7. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Living With Urgency
    The night is about over, dawn is about to break—Romans 13:11-14
    No question, a lot of us men are living in “I know, I know” mode . . . in “I’m gonna do it, but just not right now” mode. You see, we know what’s important; we’ve just convinced ourselves we’ve got all kinds of time. And, because life is crazy busy right now, we’ve resolved to get around to doing what we know we should be doing, later—when things slow a bit. We’ll change our ways, later. We’ll get around to actually living out our faith, later.

    But, what if there’s no later? What if this day, today, was our last day?

    It couldn’t possibly be. Waking up this morning was just like waking up yesterday. Tomorrow’s sure to be the same. There’ll always be plenty of time . . . right? Well, the Apostle Peter wrote that God’s right now “restraining himself,” because he loves you and me (2 Peter 3:8-9 MSG). He’s “holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost.

    He’s giving everyone space and time to change” (2 Peter 3:8-9 MSG). But, warned Peter, it won’t last forever: “. . . when the Day of God’s Judgment does come, it will be unannounced, like a thief” (2 Peter 3:8-10 MSG). When the last day comes, the “space and time” God’s been giving us will vanish. So Peter made his appeal: “Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life?” (2 Peter 3:11-13 MSG). So Peter made his appeal: live with urgency.


    Take a look at your life. Where are you spending money and talent? Where, and with whom, are you spending time? What’s being neglected? What needs to change? Are you willing, brother? It’s time—time to shift into “I’m on it” mode.
     
  8. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Be a nonconformist
    For reading & meditation: Romans 12:1-13
    "Dont let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould '" (v.2, Phillips)

    We must spend some more time focusing on the fact that many of today's Christians are like the Ephraimites we spoke of a few days ago - good at parading, but not so good in battle. They cry out for help with their problems, but when confronted with the demands of Scripture, one of which is to die to self, they scurry like rats down the first bolthole they can find.

    They want a medicine man with a quick cure, not direct advice about how to repent of their egocentricity. I sometimes wonder to myself whether this trend in todays Church is the result of our being brain-washed by an age that tends to make quitting a way of life. Anna Sklar, in her book Runaway Wives, uncovered an incredible statistic of American life when she said that a decade ago, for every woman who walked away from her home and family responsibility, 600 husbands and fathers did so.

    Today, for each man who does that, two women do. My purpose in making this statement is not to take sides with either group, but simply to point out that, more and more, the modern trend is to choose the way of escape as the method of dealing with problems. Things that were once viewed by society as a stigma are now accepted without the flicker of an eyelid. "Let's just quit" are almost household words. A marriage gets shaky, hits a few rough patches and the solution is: "Let's get a divorce." How much of today's worldly patterns are affecting our thinking, I wonder? And how much are we letting the world squeeze us into its own mould?

    Prayer:
    Father, make me a nonconformist - not in a denominational sense, but in a dynamic sense. Forgive me if I have allowed the world to squeeze me into its own mould. Change my way of thinking to Your way of thinking. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
     
  9. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Where Has All the Security Gone?

    "'I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,' says the LORD Almighty."1

    The sun set last night and rose again this morning as it has for thousands or millions of years. While some things never change, we can't say that about life in the last few decades—not to mention what lies ahead in the coming years!

    I read that if we were to put the entire world's knowledge from the beginning of time until 1845 on a graph it would measure only one inch tall. From 1845 to 1945—just 100 years—the graph would measure three inches tall. But from 1945 until today the graph would be as tall as [or much taller than] the Washington monument in Washington, DC.

    Change today is the order of the day. It has been said that today's average worker will need to be retrained at least three times during his working career to keep up with all the changes. Changes in technology, lifestyle, philosophy, morals, etc., are happening so fast it is difficult to keep up with them all.

    Furthermore, the security that so many of us knew in earlier times has pretty much vanished. With escalating terrorism worldwide, unless we have an anchor for the soul, we can be left drifting on a restless changing sea of uncertainty. But for those who have faith in God, of this one thing we can be absolutely sure: He never changes! His love is from everlasting to everlasting and he is still in control of the world and universe no matter what. As the Bible says, "I the Lord do not change."2

    Americans have engraved on their coins, "In God we trust." But until that commitment is engraved on people's hearts and we genuinely trust in the God who changes not, we will have no lasting security.

    Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help us as a nation to come to the realization that blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, and that without our trust in you, there is no security. And please start your work in my heart. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

    1. Malachi 3:6-7 (NIV).
    2. See Psalm 15:4 (NKJV).
     
  10. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    The greatest temptation
    For reading & meditation: Luke 4:1-13
    "Jesus ' was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil." (vv.1-2)

    I am often asked the question: What is the greatest temptation a Christian faces? My reply is usually this: the temptation to avoid the way of the cross. It was temptation that constantly faced our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is one that constantly faces us: It is the way the Master went Should not the servant tread it still? There were two outstanding periods in Jesus life when He was greatly tempted to face the sorrow and sin of the world in some way other than the one He took.

    One such time was the temptation in the desert, and the other was at the coming of the Greeks. As we have already looked at the latter incident - and will briefly examine it once more before we conclude - we shall focus our thinking over the next few days on our Lord's temptation in the desert. Following His baptism in the River Jordan, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted (or tested) by the devil. He got away from humanity in order to prepare Himself for the ordeal of giving Himself to humanity. In a sense, the temptation began as soon as He entered the desert. What temptation?

    The testing of His purposes to see whether, being the Son of God, He would also be the Son of Man. For to be the Son of Man would mean that He would take upon Himself all that falls on the sons of men. Yet on that issue, He never wavered. The Son of God willingly accepted all that was involved in becoming the Son of Man, so that the sons of men might become the sons of God.

    Prayer:
    Lord Jesus, Son of God and also Son of Man, how can I ever sufficiently thank You for aligning Yourself with this sinful human race? I cannot understand it, but yet I stand upon it - and stand upon it for all eternity. Amen.
     
  11. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Living With a Challenge

    "Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do."1

    A few years ago a dear friend was diagnosed with cancer. It was not an encouraging diagnosis. In the months ahead even when she was going through chemo therapy treatment and was very sick, she always had a positive outlook and often said, "I'm living with cancer, not dying of cancer."

    Sad to say, in due course the cancer took her. However, her positive outlook made her final days much brighter because of her upbeat attitude.

    I have a close family member who is bi-polar, which caused him many struggles in the past. He felt this was a problem that made life discouraging. My goal was to encourage him to change his thinking from, "I'm living with a problem" to "I'm living with a challenge."

    If we change our attitude it can change our life. The reality is that we eventually become what we think about. If I keep thinking I have a problem that is holding me back, I will end up believing this and act accordingly.

    No wonder the Bible teaches us to guard our heart, which applies to our thinking, our feelings, and our actions. If my thoughts are constantly negative, my emotions will become negative, and my actions will be self-defeating. As the King James Version of the Bible advises: "Keep your heart with all diligence."

    So … if you have a problem—one that you have to live with—think of it this way, "I'm living with a challenge … and with God's help I will overcome."

    Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for the principles you teach in your Word. Please help me to apply them to my life and help me to turn my challenge into something that will be a blessing and help to others. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

    1. Proverbs 4:23 (NLT).
     
  12. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Feeding on the wrong bread
    For reading & meditation: Hebrews 10:1-18
    "' I have come to do your will, O God."(v.7)

    We continue looking at Christ's temptation in the desert, but from a slightly different perspective. We are seeing how the temptation was designed to keep Him from identifying Himself with the sons of men. We saw yesterday how, He withdrew from men in order that He might give Himself to men. The issue was not so much whether He was the Son of God - He had heard that confirmed quite clearly at His baptism - but whether, being the Son of God, He would also be the Son of Man.

    Once Jesus feels that His period of fasting is over, He prepares to return to feed His weakened body, but the tempter intervenes and tempts Him to turn the stones of the desert into bread. In doing this, is he really saying to Jesus: "Why go back to men? Stay here and feed Yourself. You are the Son of God, isn't that enough"? We cannot be sure, of course, but seen in this light, it is a possibility. In all spiritual work, there is always the temptation to withdraw, to feed ourselves apart, to rejoice in the fact that we are sons of God and feast upon it.

    Many Christians down the ages have fallen for this, and have opted for an "escape mentality" in which they attempt to avoid the issue of death via a cross by isolating themselves from it. Mark this and mark it well: a similar temptation will come to you - the temptation to avoid the challenge of going down into the death of your self-life, by focusing on the fact that you are already a son of God, and that there is no need for any further humiliation or pain.

    Prayer:
    Gracious and loving heavenly Father, help me, as You did Your Son, to resist every temptation that tries to keep me from coming to grips with my own personal Calvary. Abide with me, and then I can abide with anything. Amen.
     
  13. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Never Forget

    "Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."1

    I have read that, back in the 19th century, when many people from Ireland were seeking passage to move to the New World, a young boy who didn't have the fare secretly boarded a ship as a stowaway. At sea the ship ran into an iceberg and began to sink. When the boy realized what was happening, he came out of hiding and rushed to the deck only to see the captain taking the last seat in the last lifeboat. In the tradition of the sea the captain got out of the lifeboat and gave his seat to the boy. The last thing the captain said to him was, "Never forget what's been done for you."

    In the years ahead the boy grew up to be a very successful man. When asked what was the secret of his motivation, he said, "Whenever I begin to doubt myself or let up from what I ought to be doing, I always remember a captain standing on a deck and saying, 'Never forget what's been done for you.'"2

    May you and I never forget what Jesus Christ has done for us in giving his life on the cross in your place and mine to pay the penalty for all our sins, to grant us a full and free pardon, and to give us the gift of eternal life. May our manner of life and how we live for God and others be evidence of our heartfelt gratitude.

    Suggested prayer: "Dear God, how can I ever thank you enough for giving your Son, Jesus, to give his life in my place so that I could be totally forgiven and receive your gift of eternal life in Heaven forever. Help me never to forget this in the way that I live, in what I do, and how I serve you and help others. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
     
  14. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    The divine end
    For reading & meditation: Philippians 3:1-14
    "' that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings '" (v.10, RSV)

    If the first temptation contained elements designed to prevent Christ from returning to humanity as the Son of Man, then the second temptation might be seen as an attempt to get Him to take a different attitude to men. Was the devil saying: "If you must go back, then do not take the attitude You took when You began.

    Don't stand alongside man, but stand on the pinnacle of the Temple. Be worshipped, be honoured and respected. Your place is up there, not down among those wretched multitudes"? A similar temptation will come to you, too. Satan will say: "Stay above all this talk of going down into death; escape the pain by remaining above it. You can descend to help men and women, but then let the angels carry you back to your exalted position." Then came the subtle third temptation, which seemed to suggest this: "If You are determined to be the Son of Man and to be one with men, then adopt humanity's methods - fall down and worship me.

    If You are going to be like them, be like them in everything, and take a similar attitude to those who obey me." Jesus refused this way too. He would be the Son of Man and let everything that falls on men fall on Him. But there would be this difference - He would reach the divine end only by means of the divine method, and by doing the will of His Father in heaven. At that point, He put His feet upon the way that He knew would lead ultimately to the cross. No temptation would divert Him from that. And no temptation must divert you and me either.

    Prayer:
    O Father, help me to do with temptation what Jesus did with it - to use it to reinforce my readiness to do Your will. I am so thankful that Your tests are not meant to catch me out, but to spur me on. Help me to meet every test - triumphantly. Amen.
     
  15. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    A second look
    For reading & meditation: John 12:20-36
    "Jesus replied, The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.' " (v.23)

    Having experienced the principle that life is always preceded by death, we return now to focus again on the incident which launched us into this study the coming of the Greeks to Jesus. I firmly believe that this incident has been greatly overlooked by Bible expositors and commentators. We usually take the text, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus" (v.21), and leave it at that. But this is one of the most momentous events in the life of our Lord - an event that is next in importance, in my judgement, to His temptation in the wilderness.

    In many ways, it was more subtle than the wilderness experience, for the wilderness represents the temptation that comes at the beginning of one's ministry, while the coming of the Greeks represents the temptation that comes as one gets close to the end. It is often as one gets close to one's goal that the temptation to compromise, or to take an easier way becomes more acute. Just as, in the desert, there was a pull to get Jesus to take another way, so here we see a similar situation.

    As I said at the beginning of our study, we cannot be at all sure that the Greeks arrived with the intention of enticing Christ to come to Athens, but it is significant that their arrival threw Him into a spiritual crisis. Assuming that to be so, the issue before Him was acceptance in Athens or rejection in Jerusalem. A philosopher's chair, or a grisly cross. A similar issue confronts those of us who are His followers. Do we go the way of the cross, or do we go the way of the crowds?

    Prayer:
    Father, my mind is made up - I want to go Your way. Help me to come out clearly on Your side - for You and against everything that is against You. This I pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.
     
  16. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    It Matters
    . . . work with a smile on your face
    . . . you’re really serving God—Ephesians 6:5-8

    How do you think about work, about your work? Is it awesome? Drudgery? A calling? A means to an end? Separate from your faith? An expression of your faith?

    God designed us, built us, for work (Genesis 2:15). Work is his gift, not his punishment, nor even a necessary evil. It’s how we’re brought into how he’s blessing and helping his sons and daughters (Ephesians 4:28). You see, God provides his blessings and help . . . through people . . . through us. The blessing of a house, for example, is given by God, but through the people who build it; who assist in its purchase, like the realtor and the banker; who make and sell the furnishings; who maintain it; and even those who insure the house against its loss. All this seemingly secular work becomes sacred when it’s done (1) to love and serve God and his purposes, and (2) to love and serve God’s sons and daughters. It may not seem like it sometimes—especially with supply chains as long and complex as they are today—but it does. There’s no menial or meaningless work as long as it helps someone else in a positive way.

    It’s in this, in being part of God’s blessing and helping others, that we find our purpose and meaning (Matthew 20:26-28). It’s also how we find joy. Our King, Jesus Christ, teaches us this: “You’re far happier giving than getting” (Acts 20:33-35; John 15:11-15 MSG). Contrary to what our culture teaches, we’re happier exhausting ourselves for the good of others—putting their needs before our own.


    Who are you serving? Who are you blessing with your work? How might God view it? Spend a few moments in prayer, asking these questions . . . and listening . . . listening for the Holy Spirit.
     

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