It’s Hard to Die

It’s Hard to Die

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:36).

Scripture: Luke 6:32-36

Jesus spoke many hard sayings. Is it really possible to show mercy in the same way God shows mercy? Do we really want the Father to forgive us as we forgive others? And that hardest saying of all: Are we ready to die for Him?

Jesus spoke that hard saying to those closest to Him: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Denying self runs contrary to our times; surely I have rights! But Jesus didn’t stop with a simple moral decision. Those who would follow Him must take up their cross daily. The cross meant one thing: death.

Dealing with this theme, the speaker at a men’s retreat handed out small metal crosses. He told the men, “Carry the cross in your pocket to remind you of Jesus’ command. When tempted to be selfish, finger the cross; when tempted to sin, finger the cross. Let it remind you that you died with Christ so you can live unto Him, not only in eternity, but right now.”

The speaker had it right: We can never know joy until we learn to die to self and give ourselves to others. But self doesn’t die easily. That is the meaning in Jesus’ words following this hard saying: If you live for self, you lose your life; die to self, you come alive.

O Eternal Lord God, give me the grace to surrender self so I may come alive to You. Then show me how to bring others to Your glorious cross. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.

(From the iPhone app “Devotions 365”.)

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A reciprocal principle

Psalm 111:2 The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

A reciprocal principle

“Reciprocal: given or felt by each toward the other.” When we refer to something as being reciprocal, it means there’s a continual exchange of expression taking place. For example, when a husband loves his wife, she tends to love him back. The expression of love is exchanged back and forth. That’s a picture of something being reciprocated. We have another picture of this principle embedded in the verse before us. “The works of the LORD are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them.” Those who study the works of the Lord, who are truly engaged and open to them, will also be those who find great pleasure in them. Do you see the reciprocal nature here? The more you take in God, the more you will want to take in God, which will lead you to take in more of Him, which will then make you want even more of Him, and on and on and on. It’s a continual exchange that occurs. Now let’s make it relevant. There are those who know they ought to be more into the things of God but they lack motivation. To them, opening the Bible and studying about the works of the Lord seem dull and boring. And that’s how it will seem until they take the first step to study them. But once they open the Word up and consider God’s great works, the more they’re going to be drawn to go even deeper, and the cycle is set in motion. Of course the “they” is really “us,” because at some point we’ve all been in this place. But should that happen, we need to remember that the more we study and learn of the Lord, the more we will be pleased with what we find. Lord, make us seekers and students of Your works and ways…and in doing so may our joy be full.

– Bob Coy

The Fog Is Lifting

The Fog Is Lifting
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Esther 7:1–2

Imagine swimming in a vast lake and getting three or four hundred yards offshore when suddenly a freak fog rolls in and surrounds you. You’re trapped in this tiny circle of diffused light, but you can’t see beyond your arm’s reach.

You and I are locked in a tiny space on this foggy lake of life called the present. Because our entire perspective is based on this moment in which we find ourselves, we speak of the present, the past, and the future. If we want to know the hour or minute or second, we merely look at our watches. If we want to know the day or the month, the year or the century, we look at the calendar. Time. Easily marked, carefully measured. It is all very objective: measurable, understandable, and conscious.

God is not like that at all. As a matter of fact, He lives and moves outside the realm of earthly time. In His time and only in His time, He begins to move in subtle ways until, suddenly, as His surprising sovereignty unfolds, a change occurs. It’s God’s way of lifting the fog, which always happens when He decides and when He pleases!

“What is your petition?” the king asks Esther. “What is your request?”

He’s already asked that two other times: when she first approached him and he held out his scepter, and then at the first banquet. But Esther never answered him, because the time wasn’t right. Esther had a sensitive ear, a wise heart; she sensed something wasn’t quite right. So, she didn’t push it. She knew when to act—and she knew when to wait.

Are you as sensitive as that? Do you know when to listen? Do you know when to speak up and when to keep quiet? Do you know how much to say and when to say it? Do you have the wisdom to hold back until exactly the right moment in order to achieve maximum results? Those things make a difference, you know. The question is: Are you sufficiently in tune with God to read His subtle signals? It’s easy to jump at the first sighting of the fog’s lifting.

As Solomon once wrote, “There is a time for every event under heaven . . . a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7).

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. )

You are Light

“And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Genesis 1:5

”The evening was “darkness” and the morning was “light,” and yet the two together are called by the name that is given to the light alone! In every believer there is darkness and light, and yet he is not a sinner because there is sin in him, but he is a saint because he possesses some degree of holiness. This will be a most comforting thought to those who ask, “Can I be a child of God while there is so much darkness in me?” Yes; for you, like the day, take not your name from the evening, but from the morning; and you are spoken of in the word of God as if you were even now perfectly holy.

– Charles Spurgeon

In this piece of writing, “The Prince of Preachers”, as Spurgeon is known, points out some thing that should be a comfort to us all: in Christ Jesus we have a pure righteousness that covers all sins, no matter our perception of how bad they are. Of and by ourselves our goodness is as filthy rags. But when we put on the Lord Jesus Christ He gives us a robe of pure white: His holiness is imputed to us. So, who will we choose? Light or dark? Day or night? Jesus or the devil? It all boils down to that one question: Who will you choose?

Has God Forsaken You?

Trials are not necessarily a sign that God has forsaken you. The Christian life is filled with lion’s dens and Red Seas. Trust God to shut the mouths of lions and open Red Seas. However, even if He doesn’t see fit to do the things for which you are hoping, joyfully trust Him anyway, because whatever you are going through will be worked out for your good (see Rom. 8:28). Follow the example of Shadrach and his friends, who would not bow to an idol. They told the king, “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Dan. 3:17,18, emphasis added).

– Ray Comfort

Dirty Hands

This evening I got to be the receiver of a few pokes-in-fun from some of my church family. I dish out plenty of pokes and prods so I was due my turn of being prodded I readily admit. But this kind of teasing is a good thing; it’s how family treats one another, having fun in a loving way.

The story is a long one but it ends with the joke of me missing church because I “had dirty hands” and then with my pastor “casually” telling me to study on Psalm 26:6 which reads “I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD:”. We all had some laughs and I expect I’ve not (and may never) heard the end of them.

But the point behind all this was God showing me His sovereignty.Sunday afternoon my day just crashed, after having a wonderful time worshipping and praising the Lord Sunday morning. As it turned out, the crash I thought I was experiencing was just God showing me He is in total control and is taking care of me, even when I don’t understand how He is working things out. The way I thought things were to go Sunday weren’t the way He planned them. And they went as He wanted. I thank Him for reminding me of His sovereign control and for watching out for me, even when I don’t realize it. No, especially when I don’t realize it.

It’s Worth the Effort

I found this quote in a newsletter I receive:

“It is clear that there must be difficulties for us in a revelation such as the Bible. If someone were to hand me a book that was as simple to me as the multiplication table, and say, ‘This is the Word of God. In it He has revealed His whole will and wisdom,’ I would shake my head and say, ‘I cannot believe it; that is too easy to be a perfect revelation of infinite wisdom.’ There must be, in any complete revelation of God’s mind and will and character and being, things hard for the beginner to understand; and the wisest and best of us are but beginners.” R. A. Torrey

Just think about that statement for a moment. To me it rings crystal clear. The younger we are in age and the faith, the more assistance we need with understanding God’s Word, from both elders and the Holy Spirit. But no matter how long we are privileged to read, study and meditate I don’t think any of us will ever uncover all of the treasures and truths contained in the Bible. That, though, is no excuse to not try, every day, to uncover a little more!