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In step

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
Selective expression
For reading & meditation: John 2:13-17
"How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" (v.16)

We continue thinking about the psalmist's decision to take himself in hand and refrain from relaying his doubts to others. I feel it important at this point to say a further word about repression and expression. Christians, we said earlier, are never to pretend about anything. Whether we worry, covet, resent, hate, we are to acknowledge the reality of who we are at any given moment.

Fully admitting to ourselves and to God that we are angry, worried or full of doubts, is not sin. It becomes sin when we constantly focus on it and allow it to drag us down into despair. But does this mean that in order to experience emotional health we must let everything out and tell everybody exactly how we feel? The clear answer to that question is "No", but it is an answer that must be qualified. For example, when seeking help from a counsellor or minister, it would be right to share exactly how you feel.

The principle I suggest we adopt in relation to this is as follows: we may express our acknowledged emotions only when such expression is consistent with God's purposes. This is a critical point and it must be understood. The cure for repression is not to "let it all hang out" but to be selective, expressing only those emotions that are in harmony with God's will. We must freely admit to ourselves and to God what is happening to us, but then we must carefully and selectively consider whether it is right and in line with God's purposes to share what we feel with others.

Prayer:
Gracious and loving Father, help me to be honest with my feelings, yet willing to subordinate the expression of them in both timing and manner to Your perfect will. In Jesus' Name I ask it Amen.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
A Relationship > A Rule
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track—Proverbs 3:6


We men like formulas. We like bullet points. We like bright lines. They make life easier. They cut through mystery and doubt. We’d love it if such things could govern our relationships with God. They would make following him easier, too. At least, we think they would. So we try to create them. It starts innocently: Someone seeks God and finds him—through a specific prayer or practice, or through a particular way of studying Scripture or being in community or doing service. But, then, that person decides that’s “the” way to find God. Others are persuaded, of course, because they want to find God too. And a formula is born, a bullet point, a bright line, a rule about how our relationships with God must look.

The thing is, while God never changes (James 1:17, Hebrews 13:8), our relationships with him do. They’re ever changing, ever challenging (2 Corinthians 3:18). There’s always more with God. There’s always mystery. And there’s always something new. But because we fear change and fear being challenged, we often cling to what’s worked in the past or what’s worked for someone else. We create a rule, repeat a ritual, but we may not grow and mature in our relationships with God.


“Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do”(Matthew 23:8-10 MSG).

Set aside some time to pray and to listen. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Ask where you might find him next—maybe in Scripture; maybe through serving; or on a short-term mission trip; or out in his creation; or something else. Let him guide your thoughts. Let him keep you on track.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
A mature response
For reading & meditation: Galatians 5:16-26
"But the fruit of the Spirit is ' self-control." (vv.22-23)

So important is the point we raised yesterday - the need for selective expression - that we will spend another day considering it. Listen to how the Amplified Bible translates Psalm 73:15: "Had I spoken thus and given expression to my feelings, I would have been untrue and have dealt treacherously against the generation of your children" (emphasis mine).

Notice that although the psalmist experienced strong feelings of uncertainty, he refrained from expressing these emotions because they would have had a negative effect upon his brothers and sisters. He acknowledged his emotions, but he refused to express them because he knew they would hurt and hinder the family of God. Expression of our feelings with no thought of another's welfare amounts to sinful, selfish indulgence. We must allow ourselves to feel the full weight of our emotions but then subordinate their expression to the purposes of God.

Only if it is Gods will for us to share those feelings with others must we do so. Thus the apostle could write stinging words of rebuke to the Corinthian church because his words were in harmony with God's purposes. We have to be on our guard here, because whenever we feel angry, and vent our anger on someone, it is so easy to justify our angry feelings by saying, "God wanted to use me to teach you a lesson."It more often than not, if we examine our hearts we will find that our goal was not the will of God but the desire to get those angry feelings out from inside us. Selective expression of feelings is a mature and spiritual response; indiscrimate expression is immature and unspiritual.

Prayer:
Gracious God and loving heavenly Father, forgive me for the times I have hurt others by the indiscriminate expression of my negative feelings. Help me understand and apply this principle of "selective expression" In Jesus' Name. Amen.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
Consider the consequences
For reading & meditation: Nehemiah 6:9-13
"But I said, 'Should a man like me run away? ' I will not go!'" v.11)

We continue meditating on the fact that the psalmist, though filled with doubts about the goodness of God, nevertheless refrained from expressing those doubts to others. He carefully considered what effect his action might have on the family of God. Nothing that we do in life is without consequences. Someone has put it like this: "Every effect has a cause and every cause produces an effect."

Many of our difficulties in life arise from the fact that we forget the principle that consequences follow our actions. The devil often inveigles us into thinking that the situation we are in is an isolated event, and he gets us to believe that what we do, or are about to do or say, will have little or no effect upon others. He is exceedingly skilful at getting us to become preoccupied with the thing he puts before us.

This one thing on which we focus then takes up our whole attention and we become oblivious of everything else, including the results that may follow our actions. Troubled though the psalmist was, in his heart he considered the consequences of his actions. And this is what Nehemiah did in the passage before us today. A false "friend" came to him and told him that he should not risk his life.

The proposition undoubtedly appealed to him, but Nehemiah considered the consequences and stayed where he was. If he hadn't, the whole course of Israel's history would have been changed. Believe me, this one principle alone - of carefully considering consequences - would be the means of saving us from endless difficulties if we were to take it and consistently apply it.

Prayer:
Father, how grateful I am that Your inspired Word teaches me the when next I am tempted. May I obey Your Word and not just hear it. In Christ's Name I pray. Amen.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
The Thing I Fear

"What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me."1

A Daily Encounter reader writes, "My new husband is in the military and recently left for his first deployment. I have been feeling very sad and mournful about his leaving. I felt like the Lord showed me that I feel abandoned. I know this is an irrational feeling, because I know he has been working so hard to get to this place for two years. He and I both feel like this is a calling on his life. I knew when I married him that he would be leaving for months at a time. But now that it is here, I can't help but feel like his love for me is smaller than his love for his job. What steps should I take to deal with my abandonment issue?"

Dear Jane (not her real name), chances are your abandonment issue has little, if anything, to do with your husband being away. His absence has merely triggered unresolved issues from your past—in all probability (as you also implied) going back to your early relationship with your emotionally-uninvolved father and then reinforced by your former marriage. If this is true, you need effective counseling to help you resolve your "father wound." If you don't resolve this issue, you will be troubled by it in some way for the rest of your life. Furthermore, it is very important that you don't project this feeling onto your husband, or the thing you fear you may unconsciously make to happen.

While your feelings of abandonment may seem to be irrational, they are actually logical in that they are authentic feelings based on your past experiences. This is why it is so important not to project these emotions onto your present situation and blame your husband for the way you feel. For those of us who have an abandonment issue, we need in-depth therapy to help us resolve our problem. It seems to me that if we have a "father wound," we need to resolve this with a trusted male therapist and, if a "mother wound," with a female therapist.

Unfortunately, there are no simple quick-fix answers. True, God can heal quickly, but more often than not he heals these wounds through healing relationships. That is, as we were damaged in damaging relationships, we are healed in healing relationships. The healing takes place over time as we are connected to a safe, loving, non-threatening counselor or very understanding friend who gets to know all about us and loves and accepts us just as we are—unconditionally and without strings attached. Little by little this experience reprograms our feelings to produce in us what counselors call "object constancy." In other words we become secure in our love with our loved ones so that when we are separated from them, we no longer feel abandoned nor suffer from separation anxiety.

To start, tell God exactly how you feel and ask him to lead you to a safe counselor and to the help you need to overcome your abandonment issue. And don't ever give up praying for and getting the help you need until your abandonment issue/father wound is healed. Until you are freed from this past issue, you will not be free to fully live and fully love.*

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that your love for me is totally unconditional and everlasting. Help me to feel secure in your love and get the help I need to feel secure in my human relationships knowing that I have 'object constancy.' Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name. Amen.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
I Hit Him over the Head

"Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again."1

Sports Illustrated writer Jeannette Bruce once spent two-and-a-half years taking judo lessons, progressing steadily through the entire spectrum of self-defense "belts."

"On one rainy night," she said, "it all seemed worthwhile. The thing every judo student dreams of happened to me. I was walking down Sixth Avenue about 9:00 p.m. when a man stepped out of a dark doorway and tried to snatch my purse. How prepared I should have been, how ready to smash him to the pavement with a flourishing foot sweep!

"Instead . . . I hit him over the head with my umbrella!"2

I suppose most of us can identify with Jeanette in some way. We get a great opportunity to do something worthwhile and blow it by doing or saying something stupid. Or when faced with temptation, we know how to resist the enemy because we know all the right Bible verses to fend for ourselves. However, instead of putting on the "whole armor of God," we seek to overcome in our own strength—and fail miserably.

However, when we do fail, the important thing is to get up, learn from our mistakes, and go on, having learned to put our trust in God in every situation in which we find ourselves. When I am tempted with bad thoughts, knowing my vulnerability, I simply pray, "Help, Jesus, help! Help, Jesus, help!"

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that when I stumble and fall, you do not condemn me but reach out to help me get back on my feet again. In every failure please help me to learn from my mistakes, get up, and, trusting in you, to go on. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
Say nothing unless it is helpful
For reading & meditation: Colossians 4:2-6
"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt '" (v.6)

From what we have been seeing over the past few days, it is clear that although the psalmist was struggling with doubts about the goodness of God,he took a stand on something he knew to be right. He realised that if he were to speak as he was tempted to speak, the immediate consequence would be the hurt of God's people - so he chose to keep his thoughts and feelings to himself. He was not sure about the goodness of God but he was sure it would not be right to be a stumbling-block to God's children - and he held on to that fact.

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones said in one of his sermons: "When you are puzzled and perplexed the thing to do is to try and find something of which you are certain, and then take your stand on it. It may not be the central thing; that does not matter." Note the words: "it may not be the central thing". We can struggle in the midst of our doubts, waiting for some great revelation to hit us, and fail to apply the remedy that is immediately to hand. The psalmist saved himself from slipping by saying to himself: "My heart is full of uncertainties and I cannot say with conviction that God is good. But one thing I am certain of: it is wrong to hurt others because of my own doubts.

Therefore I will say nothing." We should be careful about how we express our doubts to other Christians, especially those who are immature. This principle applies also to non-Christian friends, partners, or family members. If we can say nothing helpful we should say nothing at all. The psalmist determined to say nothing until he could say: "God is good to Israel." Then he was entitled to speak.


Prayer:
Gracious and loving God, I can do no better today than frame my prayer in the words of Your servant David: "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips." Help me, my Father. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
The Power of Unity

"Locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks."1

In younger days I trained in Australia's National Service in the Engineers Corps. When constructing Bailey bridges over rivers, we would use large folding boats that were manned by six oarsmen and one helmsman. When we oarsmen all pulled together in harmony, we moved along very well. But it only took one of us to be out of sync and our boat would get off course immediately. At first there were times we went in circles and a time or two we ran into another boat, or into the river bank. With practice we eventually learned to work as a team and pull together. Only then did we get the job done.

Even if stronger people have to slow down a little (which can be difficult for some) to allow weaker ones to keep up, pulling together as a team at home, at work, or at play makes life so much more fulfilling and harmonious. It also gets us to where we want to go. Without this unity we spend lots of energy going around in circles getting nowhere fast.

The locusts teach us a valuable lesson about the power and impact that can be made when we learn to work together in unity and harmony.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be a team player at home, at work, at play, and in the work you have for me to do as a partner in what you are doing in the world today. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
When you fall - others fall
For reading & meditation: Romans 14:5-13
"For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone." (v.7)

It seems almost unbelievable that the thing which stopped the psalmist's feet from slipping and sliding was not the awareness of his relationship with God but the awareness of his relationship with his brothers and sisters. It might not have been the highest spiritual principle he could have held on to, but it saved him from disaster. It is this matter - our relationship with one another - that Paul is speaking about in today's passage. You will be familiar, I am sure, with the passages in 1 Corinthians 8 and 10 where Paul enlarges on this subject and where, in a remarkable statement, he says: "I mean for the sake of his conscience, not yours, do not eat it.

For why should another man's scruples apply to me, and my liberty of action be determined by his conscience?' (1 Cor. 10:29, Amplified Bible). He is saying, in other words, that you might see no need to refrain from eating meat offered to idols for your own sake, because your conscience is not offended, but what about your weaker brother for whom Christ also died?

You see, "none of us lives to himself alone", so when next the devil tries to convince you that you are an isolated case and that what he is suggesting concerns you and you alone, quote this verse to him. We do not act in isolation; if you fall, you do not fall alone, the whole Church falls also. If nothing else can stop you from doing wrong, remember the people to whom you belong, remember you are part of a heavenly family, and that when you fall, others fall with you.

Prayer:
Father, drive deeply into my spirit this truth that I cannot act in isolation, for I am bound up with my redeemed brothers and sisters. Help me experience an ever-growing consciousness of this important fact. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
Ready for an Upgrade?
. . . the wisdom from above is first pure,
then peaceable, gentle, open to reason,
full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere—James 3:17

A lot of men—not every man—but a lot of us struggle to hold back a harsh and judgmental attitude toward the world around us, sometimes even toward those we love the most. In the rush and charge of life, with the volatility of family, the pressure of work, the friction of the world, we too often give in to snap impulses to anger and criticism. They feel right in the moment, but they never are (Proverbs 14:17). More considered, gentler approaches are always better—less destructive, more effective, more powerful (Proverbs 19:11, 29:11; James 3:13-18).

These impulses also reveal something deeper: our pride. If we’re honest, they come from thinking too highly of ourselves, trusting ourselves too much, trusting our wisdom, our capabilities, and our “ways” too much . . . and thinking too little of those of the people around us. But, “God opposes the proud,” as pride leads only to hurt and separation (James 4:6; Proverbs 16:18).

So, we must take ground in this struggle. We mustn’t let another day, another year, another decade slip by, doing nothing. These impulses are too hard on others. We must allow our guide, God the Holy Spirit, to train us in humility, to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).


Confess and repent to God, in prayer. Turn your back on that harsh, judgmental man. Declare that you want to be a different kind of man. Invite God’s training. That’s a bold prayer—so bring a brother (or a few) into the endeavor. Ask him/them to pray for you, speak truth to you, and keep you accountable as God begins to move in your life.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
The Man Who Robbed Himself

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his [Jesus Christ's] appearing."1

Arthur Berry was a charming man who loved only the finest things life had to offer. During the Roaring '20s he was a master thief who stole from only the wealthiest people. Berry was eventually caught and spent the next 18 years in prison. After serving his sentence he moved to a small town in New England where he led a quiet life.

Some years later word got out who he was and his true identity was revealed and a horde of reporters came to interview the notorious thief. One reporter asked him, "Do you remember who it was that you stole the most from?"

Berry replied, "The person that I stole the most from was Arthur Berry. I could have made a contribution to society. I could have been a teacher. I could have been a businessman. I could have done anything worthwhile, but instead I spent two-thirds of my adult life in prison. I have spent a lifetime robbing myself."2

While you and I would never steal a man's property, we may steal his reputation through idle gossip. And while most of us will never receive notoriety through criminal behavior, I wonder how many of us have robbed ourselves in that, when it comes to eternal values, we have wasted our life investing it only in earthly possessions and things that have no eternal value. And when we stand face to face with Jesus our Savior, will have "nothing to offer but leaves?"

Remember, though, it is never too late to start investing your life in eternity and eternal values. As martyred missionary, Jim Elliot, said, "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to so live that my life will be an investment in eternity so that I will not be embarrassed at your coming or when I stand before you at the end of my life's journey. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
A Call to Discipleship

"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'"1

To be a true follower of Jesus, we are commissioned by him, not just to be a casual believer, but to be a disciple. So what is a disciple?

According to Webster's Dictionary a disciple is a "pupil or follower of any teacher or school of religion, learning, art, etc." Pastor Tod Bolsinger takes it a step further. His definition of a disciple is "one who learns what the teacher knows so you can be like, and do, what the teacher knows and does."

Thus, as a disciple of Christ we are to learn from him, obey his teachings, and do what he does. In other words, we need to be an example of him in the way we live, talk, act, and reach out to others—and to make other disciples. The Apostle Paul said, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."2 We, too, need to follow the example of Christ so that others, seeing Jesus in us, will want to be a disciple of Jesus too.

Furthermore, to be a disciple of Jesus, we need to count the cost. With God's help, regardless of the opposition, we need to take a stand for truth as defined by God's Word, and take a stand for that which is right, for that which is moral, and for that which is just. It also means that we will take a stand against all falsehoods, evil, immorality, and injustice. To count the cost we need to realize that the day is coming—and getting closer all the time—when to take a stand for what God's Word teaches we may very well be charged with hate crimes that will be punishable by law. The important thing is that we take a stand in love and not in hatred.

Remember, too, that people who don't take a stand for something worthwhile are just as likely to fall for anything that is worthless. In today's ever-increasing anti-God morass, there is an urgent need for Christians to stand up and be counted as genuine disciples of Jesus Christ. His call to you and me today is just as relative and equally imperative as it was to his early followers.

If you haven't already done so, with God's help will you make a commitment todayto be a true disciple of Jesus? Will you stand for truth as proclaimed by the Word of God? Will you discipline yourself to read, learn and understand what God's Word, the Bible, teaches so you will know how to live for Jesus Christ in your everyday life?

Will you commit to faithfully serve God in a church that is true to the Word of God? Will you give to financially support, not only your local church, but also missions that are committed to doing God's work, to organizations that are spreading the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, and to organizations that are helping the truly needy? Will you also commit to doing what you can to share the gospel with others to help bring them to Jesus?

If so, will you please pray the following prayer: "Dear God, today I come to you just as I am—warts and all—and, regardless of the cost, I commit my life to you to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. So help me God. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
Use everything you can
For reading & meditation: Zechariah 4
"Who despises the day of small things? '" (v.10)

Having followed the experience of the psalmist, who was saved from a spiritual fall by thinking of his brethren, we now ask ourselves: What does all this have to say to us? I think the answer to that question must be this: to stand is more important than to understand. We said a few days ago that the psalmist took his stand at a very low level on the scale of spiritual values.

The principle he followed was this: "If I spread my doubts, I will harm my brethren." I am sure you and I could think of much higher spiritual principles with which to confront ourselves when tempted. What about the principle of reminding ourselves of the blessings of God in times past? Or actually talking to ourselves in the way the psalmist did in Psalm 42:5: "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God '" . The psalmist employed none of these, but the one he did employ, low as it was on the scale of spiritual values, worked. And that is the point - use everything you can to stop yourself from falling, however small or insignificant it might appear to be. We are involved in spiritual mountaineering, where sometimes the slopes are like glass. When your feet slip you must reach out and hold on to anything that will stop you in your slide even though it be only a small branch. Stop and steady yourself. Don't concern yourself about climbing, just concern yourself with stopping your slide. Once you have stopped sliding you can then plan how to climb again.

Prayer:
Father, I see that when I am in danger of slipping it is better to take advantage of the smallest foothold than to slide into the depths of despair. Help me grasp the full importance and value of this. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
Where’s Home?
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest—Matthew 11:28

“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:2-3). How does God restore your soul, brother? Where do you find rest? How are you most able to forget, even for a few moments, the pressures of this life? Where do you get reset and realigned? How do you connect with God most easily? Where are you most able to hear his voice or feel his guidance?

Is it in praying at your breakfast table in the early morning, before anyone else wakes? Or in reading Scripture on the treadmill or in your car over the lunch hour? Is it in a few minutes of stillness and solitude in the evening? Or in boisterous community around a table, with brothers or with family? Is it in walking or running or biking through streets or through hills? Is it in listening to music? Or in making your own music, singing in church perhaps? Or in something else entirely?

Recognize that God designed you, uniquely, to have ways—even amid the busyness—to find him, to find rest and restoration through him. You were designed to, every so often, just come home. So open your eyes. Search your heart. He has, no doubt, already shown you how.


Think back on times when you most felt God’s peace, most felt his presence. That you have experienced him in particular ways, in particular places, in particular activities, means he has spoken . . . right to you. He’s given you permission to do those things, whatever they are. He’s told you he wants you to do those things—that you’vegot to do those things. Now, you simply must choose to do them, consistently and often.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
Staying with the pain
For reading & meditation: Job 13:13-19
"Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him '" (v.15, NKJ)

We ended yesterday with the thought that the moments after we have been saved from slipping and sliding, but are left with our main problem still unresolved, are exceedingly critical. Why critical? Because, as we said, the desire to relieve the pain that is going on inside us can sometimes lead us to settle for answers that are less than the best.

We feel better when we can make sense of the ways of God - even a little sense. When we are confronted by a spiritual problem that appears to have no immediate resolution and causes strong emotions to rage within us, there are, as far as I can see, just two options: either to live with the troublesome emotions, as Job did, and wait patiently for God to give a clear answer, in His time; or to replace the confusion with some form of understanding.

The first option is often difficult, for it demands something which, especially when we are confused, we find hard to do - trust. The second is a lot easier, but potentially more dangerous, for unless we are careful, it can lead us into accepting solutions that are not solutions. The pressure to move confidently in the midst of ambiguity and uncertainty and come up with "clear" answers is a strong one. But we must be careful that we dont settle for an answer that, although it helps to reduce the level of confusion, is not a real solution. Better to stay with the pain of confusion and uncertainty than to grasp at answers that are not answers because they evade the real problem.

Prayer:
O Father, help me as I think through this issue. I sense there is something here that I need to learn, but I need Your love and wisdom and insight to support me as I learn it. Come close to me - particularly over these next few days. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
The Special Thing
For reading & meditation: Proverbs 29:1-18
"Where there is no vision, the people perish '" (v.18, AV)

What is the point we are making? It is this: as we are faithful in following the Lord, we can expect Him to reveal His special plan for our lives. Just as Nehemiah caught the vision of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, so we, too, if we are ready and alert, will catch the vision of what God has specially equipped us to do.

Many years ago, I asked God to give me a vision of the special thing He wanted me to achieve for Him. He gave me the vision of launching a daily Bible reading programme which is now read by half a million people daily. He also, so I believe, inspired the choice of the title, Every Day with Jesus. I sometimes tremble at the awesome responsibility I now have of developing a spiritual theme month by month which will minister to the needs in people's lives.

What if I had not asked God to give me a vision of what He wanted me to do? I might have continued in a ministry that would have been good, but not the best. I believe there are many of you now reading these lines who are living faithful lives for God, but you have never asked Him to show you the special thing He wants you to achieve for Him.

And don't think of that special calling in terms of something that will bring you prestige and glamour - to do that will take you right off the track. If you have never done so before, ask the Lord right now to give you a vision of what He wants you to achieve for Him. Who knows - this could be, not just a new day, but a new beginning.

Prayer:
O Father, I don't just want to achieve the good - I want to achieve the best. If I have not yet caught the vision of that special thing You want to achieve through my life, then reveal it to me today. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
A Unique Way to Pray

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God."1

Terry tells how she "was in the habit of praying very specifically for what she wanted. She told God in great detail about the kind of job, the kind of husband, the kind of life that she envisioned for herself. And Terry was frequently frustrated. But one day, Terry's friend suggested that she try a different tack. 'Give God a blank sheet of paper,' the friend suggested, 'and let God give you his list for your life.'

"Not long afterwards, Terry went back to school—something she hadn't anticipated doing. And she met a wonderful new man, whom she eventually married. He didn't fit the criteria of her earlier lists, but he was everything she wanted in a husband. When Terry turned her life over to God's will, God provided for her needs in ways she couldn't have imagined."2

Another excellent way to pray is—taking off on the famous quote by JFK—"Ask not what God can do for you but rather, what can you do for God—today?"

Suggested Prayer: "Dear God, in light of all that you have done for me, what can I do for you today? Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
A critical position
For reading & meditation: 1 Peter 1:1-7
"These have come so that your faith ' may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour '" (v.7)

Today we examine the fact that although the psalmist's feet are no longer slipping and sliding, he continues to struggle inwardly with his problem. Listen to what he says: "But when I considered how to understand this, it was too great an effort for me and too painful" (Psa. 73:16, Amplified Bible). It is clear that although he has stopped himself from falling, he is still in great anguish of heart and mind; he is still perplexed over the issue of why the ungodly are prospering while he, a child of God, has to face all kinds of difficulties.

He cannot bear the thought of scandalising the family of God, and yet his confusion continues. Have you ever been in this position in your spiritual life - saved from slipping and sliding but still harassed by a giant-sized spiritual problem? You know enough to stop you falling, but not enough to start you climbing. It is a strange position to be in but one, I must confess, in which I have found myself on many occasions. Perhaps you are there right now - your feet have stopped slipping, but strong emotions continue to rage inside you.

This is a very critical position to be in - critical because the temptation at this point is to quieten the raging emotions within by settling for answers that are less than the real ones. I know many Christians who have been in this position, and because their goal has been to alleviate the pain in their heart rather than find the real solutions to their problem, they have grasped at superficial answers that do nothing more than provide temporary relief.

Prayer:
O Father, save me from settling for less than the best, even though it means struggling a little longer with some difficult and turbulent emotions. Help me be concerned with maturity, not just temporary relief. Amen.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
Listen to the Whisper

Jesus said, "And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded."1

A successful man known for his generosity was driving his new car through a poor part of town. A boy tried to flag him down. The man didn't want to get involved, so pretended he didn't see the child. As he slowed for a red traffic light, he heard a loud crash. Someone had thrown a brick at his car, denting the trunk.

The man stopped, jumped out of his car and grabbed the boy that threw the brick. "You juvenile delinquent!" he yelled. "You'll pay for this or go to jail!"

"I'm sorry, mister," the boy cried. "My mom's lying on the floor in our apartment. I think she's dying. Our phone's been cut off and I've been trying for ten minutes to get someone to stop. I didn't know what else to do! Take me to jail, but please, call a doctor for my mom first."

The man was filled with shame. "I'm a doctor," he said and asked, "where is she?" The boy took him to his mother and the doctor administered CPR and called an ambulance.

"Will she live?" the boy sobbed.

"Yes, son, she will," the doctor said.

"Then it's worth going to jail. I'm so sorry I ruined your car. You can take me in now."

"You're not going anywhere," the doctor said. "It was my fault you had to throw a brick to get my attention."

The doctor made sure the boy was taken care of, and as he drove home he resolved not to fix the dent. He would keep it as a reminder that not everyone in need has a brick to throw.2

Or, as another version concluded, "Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention! God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don't have time to listen, he has to throw a "brick" at us. It's our choice: Listen to the whisper…or wait for the brick!"

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me a sensitive heart and a listening ear so that when someone in need reaches out for help, I will stop and be as Jesus to this person simply because of your love and all that you have done for me. Help me never to forget this. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
Why do I cry over nothing?
For reading & meditation: John 8:31-41
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (v.32)

You have probably sensed that the issue we have been dealing with is extremely important. In fact, I know of nothing of greater consequence for the Christian Church than the need to resolve the issue of why it is, when facing the tough questions of life, we settle for answers that are not answers. Let me illustrate what I mean.

Many years ago a woman approached me at the end of a prayer meeting and said: "Why is it that I cry so much over nothing?" I replied that there could be a number of reasons and I recommended that if this situation continued she should seek the help of a Christian counsellor. My own feeling was that the problem arose from some unresolved conflicts in her life that needed identifying. Some time later I met the woman again and she said to me: "I still have the problem, but I know now why it happens to me - it is an attack of the devil."

I felt deeply saddened by her conclusion for I sensed that she had settled for an answer that helped to reduce her confusion but was not a real solution. Yes, the devil does attack and harass, but in my opinion something else was going on inside her which needed attention. I gently suggested this to her, but she was adamant that the devil was responsible and that the problem would eventually go. I prayed much for that woman because I saw in her what I see in many parts of the Christian Church - a tendency to reach out and settle for "answers" that help reduce the confusion but do nothing to stimulate spiritual growth and understanding.

Prayer:
O God, I do not want to live my life amid illusions. 1 want to be real and I want to live really. Help me face the tough questions of life and not be content until I find the true answers - Your answers. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
 
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