Friday, February 16, 2018

Choosing the Right Pattern

And be not conformed to this world . . .” Romans 12:2
Have you watched any TV lately? Have you seen on any major network an advertisement for a product designed to glorify God? Have you seen any advertisements for products to indulge the flesh? This world is not a friend to God. In fact, this world hates God. Jesus said so in John 15:18, “If this world hate you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” As Isaac Watts asked in one of his hymns, “Is this vile world a friend of grace to bring me home to God?” The answer was and is “NO!”
So why do we want to be so much like something that hates our Savior? What allure does it have that we would want to live like, think like, and desire worldly ways when those ways are contrary to, and openly enemies of, God? Would it not be better to conform to the image of Christ? Therefore, Paul says in Corinthians, be imitators of me as I also am of Christ.
Dear Father, Help me guard my heart and mind from worldly conformity. Amen.


  The Friday Benediction
Until Monday, my friends, may the good God envelop you with His grace; may you prove the common confession of faith, “I believe in the holy Christian church and in the fellowship of the saints”, and may you be enriched with joy and hope as you exercise that confession this weekend.  Amen



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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Climb on the Altar

That you present your bodies a living sacrifice . . .” Romans 12:1
A trip through an old cemetery will give us some interesting epitaphs. Some can be humorous, some serious, some poetic, and some so personal it is like an invasion of privacy to read them. The thing is, not many people go to those old cemeteries and read the epitaphs. The final words of the dead are seldom heard. We do a better job of communicating when we are alive.
Therefore, God wants living sacrifices, not dead ones. God wants to use our words, our actions, our emotions, and our fervor for Him while we are alive. He wants us to sacrifice the desires for self-indulgence and replace it with spiritual dedication. He wants the evidence of our life to exhibit heavenly enthusiasm. Such enthusiasm places Christ firmly in first place in all the affairs of our life. That is a living sacrifice. That is our reasonable response to the sacrifice of Christ for us.
Dear Father, May a passion for Your glory be my consuming fire. Amen.



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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love and Sorrow

February is the month of Love! Valentines went on sale the day after Christmas. Candy sales are booming and if you want to give your truelove a dozen roses, make it an early Valentine’s Day gift because the price will triple starting February eleventh. Romance, hearts, and flowers will be the theme of the day on February 14th.
But that date also holds another special event, a day celebrated in the Church for over a thousand years. It is Ash Wednesday. It is a time of penance. A time of looking at our sin and not at our bouquets of roses. It is a night when the faithful will gather to confess and mourn their sins that sent Jesus to the cross to die for our forgiveness. It is the beginning of a period of self-examination that is designed to help us remold our life not just for forty days, but for life.
With that sorrow also comes a remembrance of a greater love than we can ever have for our sweethearts here on earth. It is time to remember the great love that God the Father had in sending His Son to die for us that we might live not just now, but forever. It is a time to remember our commitments to God that were made at our baptisms, our confirmations, and at other major moments in our lives. Have we kept the promises we made to our truest love, Jesus Christ? Have we strayed from our devotion of love and service to God while we are really trying to seek the things of earth? Ash Wednesday is to remind us to reorder our thinking and realize that the things of earth do not remain, but that our call to be faithful to the true Lover of Our Soul does remain.

Perhaps it is the most apt of all alignments to find Valentines Day on Ash Wednesday. It is time to be reconnected in true faith, love, and devotion to Him who loves us so. 


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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Responding to Mercy

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God . . .” Romans 12:1
When presenting a case for a major change to the way a system works, the first thing to do is to explain why things would be better if the system were changed. The last paragraph of that new proposal begins with the word “therefore”. Paul has presented 11 chapters of reasons the system of living our lives needs to change. We were sinners in a reprobate state of certain condemnation. God intervened with grace through the blood of His Son. God the Father and God the Son have acted on our behalf and also given us God the Holy Spirit to be active in our lives.
Therefore, by the mercies of God, we need to live our lives differently than we did before we knew Christ. Freedom from sin and judgment compel us. His love compels us. His presence compels us. The evidence of history compels us. Therefore, we now need to live for Him instead of ourselves.
Dear Father, Help me daily to live for the glory of Your Name. Amen.  



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Monday, February 12, 2018

We Are Not Required to Understand

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” Romans 11:33
The hardest word to answer is “why”. The problem is that we feel compelled to know the answer. Our human minds rebel against the unknown. When we can’t figure out “why”, we tend to blame God. When something bad happens, it’s always His fault. But what if it wasn’t really something bad? What if it is only bad in our puny human understanding?
We can’t know why God does what He does. His wisdom and knowledge dwarf all of human accomplishments more than a great blue whale dwarfs an amoeba. This is why Paul tells us to live by faith. Faith trusts God to know what is right. Faith trusts God to always be true to His character. Faith trusts, because even if He tried to explain it we still wouldn’t understand.
Dear Father, Everyday help me to trust that You know best. Amen.




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Friday, February 9, 2018

A Lifelong Work

For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Romans 11:29
What kind of giver would retract the gift each time a person failed to meet the giver’s expectations? We would think that person to be unloving, unforgiving, uncaring; in short we would see that person as a real baddie! Well, God is good. And when God gives gifts He does not do so with repentance: He does not take back the gift.
God gives faith (Eph. 2:8) and God gives eternal life (Rom. 6:23). We couldn’t muster enough faith to fill half a mustard seed on our own. God gave us faith so that we could also have the gift of eternal life. God does not retract, or repent, of His gifts. Then God gives us gifts to use for His glory. He isn’t repenting of those either. We can confidently say that God gives His gifts freely and without retraction. He can, and does, still disapprove of our sin; but His gift of grace and of the Holy Spirit moves us to repentance and joy in His forever gifts.
Dear Father, Thank You for the faithfulness of all that You give. Amen.


  The Friday Benediction
Until Monday, my friends, may the good God envelop you with His grace; may you prove the common confession of faith, “I believe in the holy Christian church and in the fellowship of the saints”, and may you be enriched with joy and hope as you exercise that confession this weekend.  Amen
 



Thursday, February 8, 2018

Not Alone

I have reserved to myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” Romans 11:4
Sometimes being a Christian can be a lonely, even scary, thing. There is overt government hostility to righteousness. There is increasing media attention denouncing righteousness. There are more and more global reports of Christian persecution. Sometimes believers can feel very alone. Elijah had felt this way and God had given him some encouragement.
We are not alone. The number of Bible believing Christians is larger in China than the United States. Asian nations now send more missionaries than does the United States. God’s word and God’s work is not dead; it is on the march. We can be encouraged and be encouragers. Let us pray more fervently for the believers around the world and be confident in the future when Christ will reign supreme.
Dear Father, Forgive us for being too self-centered to remember that You are really in control and that You have faithful children everywhere. Amen.



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