A Battle of Wills

Posted June 30th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NAS)

Do you respond to God’s direction, even when you don’t understand what’s going on?

Part of the strength God gives you to “do all things through him” is the ability to choose to do his will, even before you know the full implications of what that means. He will begin to change your “wanter,” developing within you more and more of a ‘want’ to do his will.

But this is where we often stall in our steps toward being more like Jesus. We get into a battle of wills with God, wanting him to reveal his plan first, and only then – when we have a full understanding of his plan – will we decide to respond, or not.

But that has us walking by sight, and not by faith, the exact opposite of how God teaches us to walk: “We live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Am I willing to decide – in advance – that I will do what God asks me to do, no matter what it is? Am I abandoned to him and his will, believing he will strengthen me to do all the things he asks? Or do I behave as if I believe I am the final judge of what is best for my life: “God, show me the whole plan, wait for me to understand, and then I’ll decide whether or not to do what you ask.”

The Good News is that, even if you’re not ready for immediate obedience, God will give you strength to be honest with him. He already knows about your hesitancy, so he won’t be surprised by prayerful confession, such as: “Father, I’m not sure I’m ready to do your will. I don’t know if I want to do it or not.”

Yet God is gracious and patient. Tell him, “I don’t know that I’m willing to step out in faith without first knowing everything that’s going to happen, but I’m willing to be made willing.”

So what?

· Build your confidence in God – Each time you take a step of faith, your confidence in God will increase, as you see that he is waiting for you on the other side of your decision.

· Polaroid vision – Each time you take a step of faith, God will reveal more of his plan to you. It’s what Rick Warren calls “Polaroid vision:” You can see God’s picture developing, but not all of it is visible right away.

· Grow into God’s vision – You may be frustrated that God hasn’t shown you the whole picture of his vision for you, but he may be holding it back because he knows you will be overwhelmed by what you see. He’s calling you to a God-sized mission, one that will appear impossible for you to complete. But that’s the point – there’s no way you can fulfill your mission without God and his strength working within you.

· Relax in God’s will – If you think discovering and following God’s will depends entirely on you, then you’ll probably start getting nervous, wondering, “Am I taking the right step here? Have I missed something?” God doesn’t need you to figure it all out; he’ll provide the answers as you need them.

By Jon Walker

Friendship with Jesus

Posted June 29th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
—John 15

How do we show our friendship for Jesus? How do we show our love for Him? In John 15:14, Jesus points out three things we can do to show our friendship with God.

First, true friends of Jesus will obey Him. Quite simply, we will do what He says. If we don’t, then we have no right to call ourselves His friends.

Next, this friendship with Jesus, this obedience that results from it, is an active obedience. Some people think it’s enough if they avoid what He forbids. And certainly being a Christian means ceasing to do certain things. But it also means starting to do certain things. It is not merely avoiding the wrong, but it is doing the right.

How do we find out what God wants us to do? By reading the Bible, by becoming familiar with its content. The more we know of this Book, the more we will know of God. The more we know of this Book, the more we will know about what He requires of us and what friendship with Him actually is.

Lastly, true friends of Jesus obey Him continually. In other words, we are constantly obedient—not perfect, but trying. And if we fail, then we repent and get up and try again.

This obedience should not be too hard because of whom we are obedient to. This is Jesus asking for our obedience. That changes everything, because we love Him. When we are in love with God, obedience will not be a duty; it will be a delight. And if our Christian life has become drudgery, merely consisting of rules and regulations, then we are missing out on what friendship with God is all about.

by Greg Laurie

But Could You Hurry Up, Lord?

Posted June 28th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

…that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those
who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Hebrews 6:12

Last year, my church was privileged to have Lynda Randle of the Gaither Homecoming fame share her heart and voice with us. She was super. I was able to meet her two daughters, Joy and Patience. Now I have heard of lots of people named Joy… but never anyone named Patience. What a name to live up to.

Patience is something we all tend to struggle with. Waiting on God is one of the hardest things to do. Often, we will believe God and trust God for a miracle… but we want it NOW! In our waiting, we can easily get stressed out, frustrated and discouraged because God is not moving as fast as we think He should. Who hasn’t been there?

The truth of the matter is this: God is never late… and never in a hurry. He is always right on time. He quietly whispers, “Be patient, my child. Wait on Me, and I will answer in mighty power… at just the right moment.”

FAITH AND PATIENCE

Faith and patience go together. The one who believes God… and patiently waits on God is the one who receives from God. Abraham and Sarah were promised a son. They were old and childless when the promise came. Obviously, they were excited and ready for God’s promise to come to fruition, but they had to wait… and wait… and wait. Nearly 30 years passed before God gave them Isaac, the son of promise. The Bible says, “Yet, with respect to the promise of God, he [Abraham] did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was also able to perform” (Rom. 4:20-21). Abraham grew closer to the Lord as He waited on His good promise to come to pass.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Have you gotten tired of waiting for your miracle? Tired of waiting for Mr. or Ms. Right? Tired of waiting for your healing… or your deliverance… or your promotion… or your dream to become reality? Could it be that you have secretly given up on your promise from God?

If you have quit on your promise, pick up the towel of defeat and get back in the waiting room! Add patience to your faith. God’s promise to you will come to pass in His timing… and you will be so glad that you waited for it!

by Pastor Jeff Schreve

Anger Living Free

Posted June 27th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs. Proverbs 19:11 NLT

Thoughts for Today
What causes anger? In reality, the answer could be “nothing.” We might think that a rude driver or unfair criticism or a friend’s betrayal angers us, but the anger is actually our own doing. It’s our response that creates the anger.

Many factors can stimulate anger. Behavior we learned in childhood, a stressful work environment, poor health or medicines we take can cause our temper to flare more easily – but only if we allow them to.

Consider this…
When someone insults us or treats us badly, we can choose how to respond. If we have feelings of anger, we can choose how to express that anger. God has given us free will to control our feelings, thoughts and actions. Will we choose unkind words or finding a way to “get even” – or will we overlook and forgive. It’s our choice. No matter what our background or the current circumstances, we are responsible for our own behavior.

None of us express our feelings appropriately all the time. But the Bible tells us, “For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” (Philippians 4:13 NLT) Jesus can help us make anger our servant instead of our master.

Prayer…
Father, when I am wronged in some way, help me to choose the right response – the one that is pleasing to you. Teach me to overlook and forgive. In Jesus’ name …

by Larry Heath

The Ultimate Race

Posted June 26th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joyawaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (New Living Translation)

Throughout a grueling 26.2-mile marathon, a runner’s body goes through changes. He must fight the inclination to run too fast early in the race. He must overcome muscle cramps and blisters. He must ignore the whispering voice mid-way through the race that says, “You’ve already done a great job. Everyone is impressed that you even got this far. Why don’t you just quit now?”

With every step, the runner reaffirms his decision to keep going and move closer to the finish line. His eye is on the goal. He will not be distracted or denied. This is endurance.

To endure doesn’t mean to sit back, take it easy, or look for a way out. Endurance also doesn’t mean casually accepting a setback and quitting the race early. Instead, it implies “staying power.” This involves the initiative to do whatever it takes to win. It involves pushing through obstacles and overcoming hindrances, one step at a time, as you keep moving. Endurance means you won’t quit until you have achieved victory.

We should keep this image in mind as we read the challenge in Hebrews 12:1:”lay aside every encumbrance . . . [and] run with endurance the race that is set before us.” One who endures says, “Whatever it takes, Lord, I’m going to get there. I will not give up. I will not step off Your path until You’ve brought me to the finish line.”

Do you believe the goals God’s given you are worth the effort? Then run toward them with endurance.