Preserving Unity

Posted June 25th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

Ephesians 4:3
Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace

I really don’t mind taking a stand on biblical grounds and living with the conflict that comes from those who oppose the gospel. I think that is part of our calling. What grieves God is when our ministry and work is stopped because well-intentioned people resist the inevitable and needlessly fight change.

I tell my students that the greatest asset they will have in their early years of ministry is older, mature saints in the church. The greatest liability they will have is old saints who have stopped growing years ago. All these saints do is censor. They reflect no more love or kindness now than they did 20 years ago. They don’t worship–they critique the worship service. They no longer sit under the judgment of Scripture–they sit in judgment of the pastor. They no longer bear fruit–they actually prevent it. They insist that they are right when what they need to be is holy.

Mature saints have learned to restrict their freedom for the sake of weaker believers. Their faith doesn’t rest in traditions, so they gladly accept changes in style of ministry that will reach the younger generation.

Another problem arises when young Christian leaders act impulsively as change agents without giving thought to what the consequences will be to the fellowship. Any movement forward that results in the loss of fellowship is not an improvement. We must be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit. Such change agents seem to be unaware that patience is a fruit of the Spirit. The modern generation wants it now. They seem to have forgotten the fact that God does everything decently and in order. He is not the author of confusion.

Prayer:

Father, please don’t allow me to sit, soak and sour, but to remain open-minded, lighthearted and nonjudgmental.

by Neil Anderson

Fearlessly Facing Eternity

Posted June 23rd, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

Joe Allbright is a fair and fearless West Texas rancher, a square-jawed, rawboned man with a neck by Rawlings. In Andrews County, where I was raised, everyone knew him.

One of Joe’s sons, James, and I were best friends in high school. We played football together. (More honest, he played while I guarded the team bench.) One Friday night after an out-of-town game, James invited me to stay at his house. By the time we reached his property, the hour was way past midnight, and he hadn’t told his father he was bringing anyone home.

Mr. Allbright didn’t know me or my vehicle, so when I stepped out of the car in front of his house, he popped on a floodlight and aimed it right at my face. Through the glare I saw this block of a man (I think he was in his underwear), and I heard his deep voice. “Who are you?” I gulped. My mind moved at the speed of cold honey. I started to say my name but didn’t. Mr. Allbright doesn’t know me. My only hope was that James would speak up. A glacier could have melted before he did so. Finally he interceded. “It’s okay, Dad. That’s my friend Max. He’s with me.” The light went off, and Mr. Allbright threw open the door. “Come on in, boys. Food is in the kitchen.”

What changed? What made Mr. Allbright flip off the light? One fact. I had aligned myself with his son. My sudden safety had nothing to do with my accomplishments or offerings. I knew his son. Period.

For the same reason, you need never fear God’s judgment. Not today. Not on Judgment Day. Jesus, in the light of God’s glory, is speaking on your behalf. “That’s my friend,” he says. And when he does, the door of heaven opens.

Trust God’s love. His perfect love. Don’t fear he will discover your past. He already has. Don’t fear disappointing him in the future. He can show you the chapter in which you will. With perfect knowledge of the past and perfect vision of the future, he loves you perfectly in spite of both.

Perfect love can handle your fear of judgment.

by Max Lucado

When Trouble Comes

Posted June 22nd, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

“He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”

—Psalm 91:15–16

Are you facing an emergency today? Dial 911—Psalm 91:1, that is. God can use adversity in the life of the Christian. None of us wants adversity in our lives, but God can be glorified through it. It might be a sickness that looks life-threatening, and then God heals you. Or it might be a sickness that He allows you to experience, but He is glorified in the midst of it.

Psalm 91 does not say you will never die. But it is saying that you won’t die before your time. It is saying that until God is done with you, His angels will keep you in all your ways . . . in your ups and downs, when you are awake and asleep, in the sunshine and the rain.

What is your part? It is to dwell in the secret place of the Most High and abide under the shadow of the Almighty. It is to live in quiet and resting and enduring and remaining, with consistency.

Your objective as a Christian should be to stay as close to the Lord as you possibly can. Because this all-powerful, all-knowing God possesses heaven and earth, has made a covenant with you, loves you, and offers to protect you and provide for you, you should make it your objective to get closer to Him, asking, How can I walk so closely with Him that I will be in His very shadow?

Periodically ask yourself whether you are meeting the criteria of this great psalm, whether you are living up to the conditions that have been set forth. If your answer is yes, then you have God’s word that these promises will be activated in your life.

by Pastor Greg Laurie

The Issue Of Control

Posted June 21st, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

Galatians 5:22, 23
The fruit of the Spirit is . . . self-control

More times than not, the need to control our children comes from the false belief that our identity and worth derives from how well our children behave. Think it through: If your worth comes from something outside yourself, your tendency is to control the people and factors on which your worth is based. Look at sick dictators like Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein who control their subjects through ruthless force and intimidation. But there is no one more insecure than a controller, because he labors under the false belief that the external affairs of this world are determining who he is, not God and his response to Him. The fruit of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:23), not child- or spouse-control.

If your identity is in Christ and your heart is set on being the person God wants you to be, nobody can block that goal but you. “But what if my child rebels?” you ask. Your child can’t stop you from being the father or mother God wants you to be. Only you can do that. In reality, during a crisis of rebellion, your child and your spouse need you to be the parent God wants you to be more than ever.

Massive research has shown that the best children come from parents who love their children and manage their behavior. The worst children come from loveless controllers. The second best children are raised by permissive parents who love unconditionally.

Here’s the point: You may not always be able to control your child, but based on your position and character in Christ, you can always love him. Loving your child is dependent only on you and your response to God. Controlling him is somewhat dependent on the cooperation of your child. Your identity and security in Christ do not depend on things you have no right or ability to control.

Prayer:

Lord, continue to mature me as a loving parent and keep me from trying to control my children from selfish motives.

by Neil Anderson

Tests of Prosperity

Posted June 19th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

–Philippians 4:11-12

God is committed to your success as a Christian. And one of the ways He prepares you for godly success is…believe it or not…through tests of prosperity.

Now, usually you hear preachers talk a lot about tests of adversity…which we’ve spent a lot of time over the past several days. But I’d argue that perhaps the most difficult test in life is not the test of adversity but rather the test of prosperity.

Most of us are able to handle adversity in Christ. But many of us have more difficulty in handling our prosperity when we have been so blessed in Christ.

Paul was able to handle both adversity and prosperity…as we note in today’s passage. But what about you? How do you respond when God blesses you? Do you find yourself depending less on God when times are good? Do you ever find yourself spending less time in God’s Word and in prayer when your needs aren’t so pressing?

As you grow in your relationship with Christ, it’s my hope that you’ll fall so much in love with Jesus that your desire to spend time with Him won’t hinge on how stressed out you are. That you will learn, as Paul did, to be content in both adversity and prosperity.

Godly success comes through the tests of prosperity.

by Dr. Jack Graham