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RiverOL

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Loyal
No to the Ten Suggestions

"If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them … then the Lord will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt."1

Television's well-known newscaster, Ted Koppel, said one night on ABC's Nightline:

"We have actually convinced ourselves that slogans will save us. 'Shoot up if you must, but use a clean needle.' Or, 'Enjoy sex whenever and with whomever you wish, but protect yourself.'

"No! The answer is no! Not because it isn't cool or smart or because you might wind up in jail or dying in the AIDS ward, but because it's wrong!

"What Moses brought down from Mount Sinai were not the Ten Suggestions, but the Ten Commandments!"

Author Dr. S.I. McMillen in his book, None of These Diseases, pointed out how many of the directives given by God to the ancient Israelites were for health and hygiene purposes. God assured his people that if they obeyed his laws they would be free from the diseases the Egyptians suffered. Not to eat pork (for obvious reasons back then) was just one of these. It's the same with all of God's directives and commandments. They are for our total well-being—physical and emotional as well as spiritual.

We can't improve on God's plan. The wisest thing to do is to get in on it.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to live by your rules and not mine, because your rules are for my total well-being—physical, emotional and spiritual. Thank you for giving us these rules by which to live life to the fullest. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."
 

RiverOL

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Going - yet not knowing
For reading & meditation: Acts 20:17-35
"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there." (v.22)

We come now to examine another area into which our Lord, eager to obtain fruit from our lives, may be leading us: that of ambiguity and uncertainty. By ambiguity, I mean those situations we sometimes find ourselves in where the Lord's purposes are not clear, and by uncertainty, I mean the feelings we get when we dont know which direction to take on the road ahead. Are you the kind of person who likes to see the way ahead as far as you possibly can? Do you find yourself getting irritated and frustrated when the Lord unfolds His purposes just one step at a time? If so, then your irritation is saying something about you.

What is it saying? Perhaps it is saying that in this area of your life, you are "a corn of wheat afraid to die"; you are fearful of trusting yourself to the unseen and unknown purposes of God. There isn't a Christian reading my words now who hasn't been called to walk this path of uncertainty and ambiguity, and there may be many who are there at this moment.

The apostle Paul, in the verse before us today, was in this situation when he said: "I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there" (v.22, GNB). What an honest admission: going - yet not knowing. Yet there seems to be no anxiety or apprehension in that statement. And why? Because the great apostle had died to all self-interest. Having surrendered to God, he was not at the mercy of circumstances, situations, feelings - anything. Sure of God - the one great Certainty - he needed to fear no uncertainty.

Prayer:
O God, I see that unless my certainty is in You - the divine Certainty - I will be at the mercy of all uncertainties. Forgive my little antics of self-dependence. Help me to live in God-dependence. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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And he said to them, “Follow me”—Matthew 4:19
We confront two mutually exclusive, diametrically opposed if-then statements, each claiming to be true. The first is from the enemy and goes like this: if we chase created things—wealth, status, sex—then our lives will be more full, then we’ll have more peace, joy, security, freedom, fulfillment, significance. The second is from God: if we chase him, our Creator—if we listen to him, if we surrender, if we love, if we serve—our lives will be more full then, we’ll have more peace, joy, security, freedom, fulfillment, significance then.

The simple question before us, therefore, is which statement we’ll believe and adopt and follow in faith. But, before we can answer, we’ve got to get serious. We’ve got to stop playing around, trying to convince ourselves the statements are not actually mutually exclusive and not actually diametrically opposed. We’ve got to stop trying to convince ourselves we can believe both statements at once, that we can prioritize both created things and the Creator—and that it’ll be okay if we try. We can’t and it’s not.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24).

We must choose. And, it’s a real choice between good and evil. For, while God uses his if-then statement to invite us into “more and better life” than we could “ever dreamed of,” the enemy uses his to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:6-10 MSG).


Spend some time searching for, and meditating upon, those places in the Bible where God offers if-then statements. There are so many. Do any come to mind, right now? Focus most on his promises that, for you, stand out from the rest.
 

RiverOL

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Talking to God all night
For reading & meditation: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation '" (v.17)

We ended yesterday by saying that because Paul had died to all self-interest, he was not at the mercy of ambiguity and uncertainty. Sure of God, he was sure of the future. You see, if you don't surrender to God, don't think you don't surrender. Everybody surrenders to something. If you don't surrender to God, then you will surrender to something else - your moods, your circumstances, your fears, your self-centred concerns. And if you do, you will end up becoming downcast and disillusioned.

A doctor tells of being called to see a patient, the head of a large company, who was having increasing attacks of asthma. The doctor could find no physical basis for the asthma, and so he asked the man: "Is there anything troubling you?" The patient replied: "No, doctor, I'm a member of a church, in fact an official in the church - nothing is troubling me." The next day the patient again sent for the doctor and said to him: "Yesterday I told you nothing was troubling me, but I've been talking to God all night. I looked at the ceiling and saw the words: 'Seek first the kingdom of God.' Doctor, I've been seeking my own kingdom.

I've been a completely self-centred man. But last night something happened to me. I'm seeking first the kingdom of God." The doctor said: "I went away with tears streaming down my cheeks. I had seen the birth of a soul." Surrender means not just the birth of a soul, but the birth of everything - new relationships, new perspectives on life, new power to face whatever comes, and a new sense of certainty and belonging - a new everything.

Prayer:
O Father, it is obvious that unless my confidence is placed in the Ultimate, then I will not be able to cope with the immediate. Help me to be a fully surrendered person. For surrendered to You, I need surrender to nothing else. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Watch out for Phonies

"Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono. But they were scheming to harm me."1

When Nehemiah and the ancient Israelites had almost completed rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem several centuries BC, enemies were not happy with their progress and sought to discourage Nehemiah and get rid of him. They tried to lure him away from his work by inviting him to meet with them in the Plain of Ono.

But Nehemiah's reply was, "Oh no!" He knew their stories were fabricated and that they were lying. Just as well he did, otherwise he would have been destroyed and God's work frustrated. Nehemiah stuck to the job until the work was finished and the walls rebuilt.

Whenever we get involved in a fruitful work for God, opposition is usually par for the course. The enemy attacks at every opportunity and usually at our most vulnerable points. He is a master of deceit and will seek to discourage us, sidetrack us from the main task to waste our time on less important matters, tempt us to stray from the beaten path, and so on. Whatever devices he uses we, like Nehemiah, need to be aware of these, for more often than not he comes as an angel of light.

When in doubt, we need to pray for God to reveal to us the truth of the situation in which we find ourselves. Realize, too, that the more authentic and real we are, the easier we will "smell" (discern) those who are not for real and are seeking to distract us so that they can lure us away from what God wants us to do.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me the same kind of insight, wisdom and courage that Nehemiah had and stick to the work you have for me to do until it is finished. Help me to say 'no' to any temptation or distraction that would take me away from following and serving you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
 

RiverOL

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The future - safe with Him
For reading & meditation: Colossians 3:1-15
"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." (v.3)

We are discovering that when we are surrendered to the certain, we need never surrender to the uncertain. Sure of God, we do not have to be sure of anything else. A Christian who shrinks from walking the road of ambiguity and uncertainty in company with his Lord is saying, in effect: "My trust is in myself and not in Him." We don't like to put it in those terms, of course, because it challenges our self-interest.

And if there is one thing we must learn about the self, it is that it does not like to be challenged, confronted or dislodged. The self, however, must be disciplined to die. It must die to being first in order to live as second. That is why the centre of the kingdom of God is a cross. We must go through spiritually what Jesus went through physically - we must die and be buried in order to experience a resurrection into freedom and fullness of life. A man who was part of a small group who had met together to deepen their spiritual understanding said: "I see what I need, and I see that I don't want what I need."

In those words, he identified the struggle we all have with this business of self. Who is to be first - myself or God? That decision decides all other decisions - it is a seed decision. The moment you fully surrender to Christ, you automatically die to your own intentions and purposes and you gain a new perspective on life. From then on, you live in a state of Christ-reference - not self-reference. You look out at ambiguity and uncertainty and say: "I may not know what the future holds - so what? I know who holds the future."

Prayer:
My Father and my God, I see now that I've been out of focus, and all of life's pictures have been blurred and distorted. Help me to see life from a new point of view - Your point of view. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Look Where You're Going

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…."1

I was amused at the story our now "middle-aged" pastor recently told about himself when trying to learn surfing a few short years ago. He had a difficult time "getting it" and, according to his own confession, still hasn't mastered the art of successful surfing.

I could identify with him in my trying to learn snow skiing later in life. I never fully mastered the art either … my biggest problem was trying to turn. On one occasion I skied right into the back of one of my skiing buddies because I couldn't turn quick enough to get out of the way. On another occasion somehow I collided with a lady skier and we got locked together with her facing forwards and me facing backwards as we continued skiing down the slope totally out of control until we crashed. Sprawled out on the snow I couldn't resist making the comment, "We've got to stop meeting this way!" Fortunately neither one of us was hurt.

The big lesson I needed to learn, like the lesson my pastor was taught, "You always go where you are looking so keep looking toward where you want to go—not to where you don't want to go!"

That's a great lesson regarding most aspects of life too. If we fix our eyes only on the pleasures and benefits this world has to offer, that's the direction our life will take and, while we might gain great material wealth, we will end up becoming spiritually bankrupt—morally bankrupt too if all we look for is the sinful pleasures this life has to offer in abundance.

On the other hand, if we commit our life to and fix our eyes on spiritual and eternal values, that's the direction our life will take—and the rewards will be eternal, for we always reap what we sow, even if it is eventually!

As today's Scripture lesson teaches: "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith."

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to live with eternal values in view, looking always unto Jesus for help and direction in every aspect of my life. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
 

RiverOL

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Loyal
Strangers and pilgrims
For reading & meditation: Hebrews 11:8-16
"' Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." (v.16)

We continue meditating on the fact that one of the reasons why we find it so difficult to cope with ambiguity and uncertainty is because we have never really died to self-interest. We are more concerned about our own purposes than we are about His - hence we are uncertain and insecure. Today we look at Abraham and the way he handled his situation of ambiguity and uncertainty. He was almost seventy-five years old when God called him to step out on the pathway of uncertainty.

There he was, loading up his camel caravan with his wife and nephew, bound for 'somewhere'. The Amplified Bible puts if most effectively when it says: "' he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go." Charles Swindoll humorously pictures a conversation between Abraham and his neighbours going something like this: "Abraham, where are your going?" "I'm moving." "Why? Why ever would you want to leave Ur?" "God has made it clear that I should go." "God? You've been talking to Him again?" "Right. He told me to leave. I must go." "Well, where are you going?" "I don't know; He didn't tell me that." "Wait a minute, you know you ought to go, but you don't know where you ought to go?" "Yes." "Abraham, you really have gone off the deep end."

And so it continues. It isn't easy to obey without understanding. It is the same thing that we talked about two days ago: going - without knowing. It might help to remind ourselves of the term God sometimes uses to describe us - strangers and pilgrims. People on the move, free to follow Him wherever He leads - regardless.

Prayer:
O God, You who wrap me around as the atmosphere wraps itself around my body. Let me respond to You as my physical body responds to its environment - and lives. Help me to trust You even when I cannot trace You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
Slippers for Sale

"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' In tithes and offerings."1

On May 25, 2001, a set of Dorothy's ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz" sold for $660,000.00 at an auction of movie and TV memorabilia titled "A century of Hollywood" at Christie's East. According to an auction house spokesperson, the famous shoes had sold in 1988 for $150,000 at Christie's. The evening auction brought in more than $1.6 million.

Dorothy's ruby slippers sold for $660,000.00! Imagine that! In comparison, what is an eternal soul worth? There is no comparison! Obviously, the world thinks much more of earthly fame and material possessions than it does about eternal values.

I wonder how many Christians do the same, at least concerning material possessions. The answer to this question is found in how we spend our money and resources and on what we spend these. I have read that the average church spends 95% of its income on itself . . . and that only 3% of Christians tithe of their income to support God's work here on earth. What we do and what we give—and to what we give it—speaks volumes as to what we value in life.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you valued my soul so much that you gave your life to die on the cross to save me from sin's eternal damnation. Please help me place the same value on every human soul as you do and live and give accordingly—not just in words but in my actions and in my giving. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
A personal word
For reading & meditation: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
"But by the grace of God I am what I am '" (v.10)

Today we ask ourselves: Why is it that even though we may have a fairly mature faith in God, we still find it frustrating to be caught up in situations where we have no clear direction or control? The root cause of this is misplaced dependency - we depend too much upon ourselves and not enough upon God.

As I examine my own life, I am constantly amazed that after over fifty years' experience in the Christian faith, I am still sometimes prone to take the way of independence rather than dependence. Do you not find a similar tendency in yourself? I want God's way - so very much - but I want it on my own terms. Granted, this is less of a problem now than it was, say, thirty years ago, but it is still sometimes a struggle nevertheless. What does this say about me?

It says that in this area of my life, there is still a need to die to my own self-concern, and even before these lines were written I had to get down on my knees and acknowledge this before the Lord. I may still have struggles with this issue in the future, but I know for sure that at this moment, my will is more yielded to Him than ever. Perhaps this is the last battle I shall have to fight on this matter, and when I find myself facing situations in the future that are vague and ambiguous without fearing the outcome, I will know the issue has been settled once and for all. I have exposed my heart to you in obedience to the prompting of the Spirit. I need Him as much as you.

Prayer:
O Father, as we see yet again where we should be centred - in You - help us to die in those areas of life where we have established our independence. Only in You can we be safe and steady and growing. Help us, dear Lord. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Believing Is Seeing

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."1

When explorers from England first went to Australia they discovered some strange and wonderful animals not seen anywhere else in the world—animals such as the kangaroo, the koala (which isn't a bear as it is often called), and the ornithorhynchus—a mammal that laid eggs, spent some time in water and some on land, had a broad, flat tail, webbed feet, and a bill similar to a duck (now known as the platypus).

When the explorers returned home, nobody would believe their story about the platypus. All felt it was a hoax. Even after they returned to Australia and brought back a pelt from this strange animal, people still felt it was a hoax and refused to believe it was real.2

Many people say, "I believe only what I see for myself." That's not necessarily true either because, by and large, people see and believe only what they want to see and believe—and refuse to see and believe all else—regardless of the evidence.

However, what I see and believe has absolutely no effect on what is. What is, is—whether I see and believe it or not. For instance, I've never seen an atom but I've seen (at least in pictures) the evidence of its incredible power and believe it is real. I live close to a nuclear power plant and can't see the electric power it is generating, but its electricity is probably powering my computer on which I am typing this article right now. I can't see the electricity but whether I believe it is real or not doesn't affect its reality. It just is.

I've never seen God either but I see evidence of his presence and mighty power everywhere I look—I see and believe because I want and choose to believe. With God, as with many things in life, believing is seeing. Indeed, the heavens declare the glory of God. Believe it and you will see.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, open my eyes and help me to see the marvels of your creation, the majesty of your presence, the magnificence of your power and, above all, help me to see all the riches in Jesus Christ you have for me—including the gift of forgiveness and eternal life to live with you forever in heaven. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
 

RiverOL

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Loyal
The crucified "self"
For reading & meditation: Galatians 2:15-21
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me '" (v.20)

If there is one note ringing through these pages, it is this: to the extent that we are afraid to die to our self-interest, to that extent will our Christian lives be unfruitful. We remind ourselves again: "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just one grain; never becomes more but lives by itself alone.

But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest" (John 12:24, Amplified Bible). It is easy to say but difficult to put into practice - difficult but not impossible. Today we ask ourselves: What exactly happens when we "die" to self? Does it mean that the "self" undergoes annihilation? No. The death to which we are called is the death of the false life we have been living, the false ideas and values we have set up, the false world of sin and evil, and the false self, organised around self-concern.

When Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ", he meant that he had died to all the purposes in his life except Christ's purposes. This whole passage telling of Paul's burial and resurrection is one of the most exciting in the New Testament. He goes on to say: "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." Paul discovered that life was much more positive and powerful when he pursued God's purposes rather than his own purposes. He got on better with Christ than he did with himself. This may take some thinking through, but the truth is, if you won't live with God, you won't be able to live harmoniously with yourself - nor, for that matter, with anyone else.

Prayer:
O God, I just can't go through life with this ghastly contradiction - the self - at the centre of my being. I cannot bear this constant civil war within me. Command it to cease and command me to be free. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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God's Discipline

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."1

Billy Graham commented how, "When a ship's carpenter needed timber to make a mast for a sailing vessel, he did not cut it in the valley, but up on the mountainside where the trees have been buffeted by the winds. These trees, he knew, were the strongest of all. Hardship is not our choice; but if we face it bravely, it can toughen the fiber of our souls."

And that's exactly why God disciplines us and allows us to go through trials. They are designed to strengthen us and help us to grow healthy and strong. And while "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful," what we always need to remember is that "the Lord disciplines those he loves."2

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you love me as I am, but love me too much to leave me as I am. Thank you, too, that you allow trials to come into my life to help me grow, mature and become strong. Help me to accept your discipline and use it to fulfill your purpose for my life. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name. Amen."
 

RiverOL

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Grace upon grace
For reading & meditation: John 1:1-17
"And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace." (v.16, RSV)

Today we ask: What purpose does God have in leading us into situations which are uncertain and ambiguous? He does so in order that we might learn to depend on Him and not on ourselves. Just as in times of loneliness we learn to realise His presence, so in times of uncertainty we learn to realise His power. The major reason why our lives are unfruitful lies right here: we depend more on our own strength than we do on His. How can God teach us dependence unless He puts us into situations which are so uncertain that we are compelled either to choose the way of frustration or the way of faith? And if we draw back from entering such situations, we will miss a valuable spiritual education and our lives will become barren.

A statement I came across some time ago sums up what I want to say concerning ambiguity and uncertainty. It is this: "God's purposes are always God's enablings." In other words, when God steers you into strange and uncertain situations, He will keep you very much in the dark concerning His purposes, but He will not leave you bereft of His grace. The purpose of God and the grace of God are two sides of the one coin. If you accept the purpose, you get the grace; if you refuse the purpose, you annul the grace.

Anything God purposes for you, He gives you the grace to perform. John speaks in our text for today of "grace upon grace". One preacher I know translates that text like this: "Use the grace I give you and rest assured - there will always be more to follow."

Prayer:
O Father, how wonderful it would be if I could master this lesson today, and become a living illustration of "grace upon grace". May it be so, to the honour and glory of Your peerless and precious Name. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Loyal
The final battle
For reading & meditation: 1 Timothy 6:3-11
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil '" (v.10)

We now start examining some of the areas of life into which we are led by God in order that He might make our lives more fruitful and profitable to Him. First we focus upon the problem of cramped financial circumstances. No one can deny that money plays an enormous part in our lives. It was Balzac who said more than a century ago: "The final battle for Christian discipleship will be over the money problem: till that is solved there can be no universal application of Christianity."

It comes as a great surprise to many new Christians that the Bible talks a good deal about money, and more than one preacher has pointed out that when Jesus was here on earth, this was one of the subjects He talked about most. One of the most interesting aspects of money to a Christian is that through either the giving or the withholding of it, God is able to steer our lives into the areas in which He wants us involved. Do you find yourself in financial straits at the moment? Does your bank account need month-to-month resuscitation? Then dont panic - God may be allowing this financial stringency in order to teach you some valuable lessons about Himself.

Thousands of Christians will testify that God has no more certain way of getting our undivided attention than by withholding money or putting us into tight financial circumstances. How strange that when our pockets are full, often God has to shout to get our attention, but when they are empty, we are alert and ready to hear His faintest whisper.

Prayer:
O Father, if it is true that the final battle for Christian discipleship will be over the money problem, then help me resolve this issue once and for all in these next few days. Help me to make whatever I own the instrument of Your purposes. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Lessons from a Lizard

"A lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in king's palaces."1

What could a tiny lizard possibly teach us? For one thing it can teach us the rewards of persistence.

It has been said that "the race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running." This principle certainly applies to fulfilling our God-given life-purpose and achieving our human and spiritual potential. We don't have to be geniuses to do this, but we do need to be persistent and keep on keeping on regardless of our circumstances.

The Apostle Paul experienced all sorts of trials and setbacks. He was shipwrecked, stoned and left for dead, whipped and beaten, thrown in jail for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He knew firsthand what it was to experience loneliness, cold and hunger. He wrote some of his great letters to the churches while he was in prison—as did John Bunyan with his book, Pilgrim's Progress, when he was in prison.

I listened to a preacher some time ago, a preacher who had cerebral palsy and struggled with every sentence he spoke. I was deeply moved. God used this man to influence hundreds of lives for all eternity. If ever I saw persistence it was in this man. In spite of his debilitating handicap, he reached his top and was maximizing his full potential.

God has a plan and a life-purpose for every one of us. To achieve it will take dedication, commitment, hard work and persistence. As Paul said, "It is God himself in his mercy who has given us this wonderful work . . . and so we never give up."2

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, in the midst of setbacks and the disappointments of life, please give me the gift of persistence to never give up the challenge to become what you want me to be and to keep on doing what you want me to do. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name. Amen."
 

RiverOL

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Gods four purposes for money
For reading & meditation: 1 Timothy 6:6-19
"But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that."(v.8)

Before we can understand what God may be trying to achieve in our lives by putting us into tight financial circumstances, we must know something of our Lord's purposes for money. Many Christians think that the purpose of money is to provide security, establish independence, or create power and influence, but this is a very worldly view of the subject.

The Bible shows us that God has four basic purposes which He wants to achieve through money - and understanding these purposes is crucial if we are to be fruitful and productive Christians. The first purpose of money is to provide basic needs. Its surprising how little money we need in order to sustain the basic needs of life. These needs can be summed up in the words food, clothing and shelter. And God demonstrates His loving care by assuring us of His help in obtaining these basic essentials: "And why do you worry about clothes?

See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin ' will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (Matt. 6:28-30). Since the dawn on time, humankind has tried to become independent of God. There are tendencies in our fallen nature to be self-sufficient and self-supporting. We would much rather pray, "Give us this month our monthly pay cheque" than "Give us this day our daily bread." And why? Because it doesn't bring us face to face with our need to be daily dependent on the Lord. How wise was our Lord in including that phrase in the model prayer He gave His disciples. He knew the recognition of daily needs would help to produce daily dependence.

Prayer:
Father, I pray that You will bring me under the complete sway of Your Spirit so that my spiritual dependence will not be year by year, month by month or week by week - but day by day. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Making Today Count

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."1

I have read how, when William Montague Dyke was a child, he was blinded in an accident, but he never allowed this handicap to deter him. He graduated with high honors from an English university and, while a student, fell in love with the daughter of a high-ranking British naval office whom he was to marry.

Before the wedding he had an eye operation in the hopes that it would restore his eyesight. However, he didn't want the bandages removed from his eyes until his wedding day when he stood before his bride to be. If the surgery failed, he would remain blind for the rest of his life. If successful, the person he wanted to see first was to be his bride.

The wedding day arrived. The dignitaries and guests waited in anticipation as the organ played the wedding march and the bride, accompanied by her father and the groom's surgeon, slowly walked the aisle to the altar. As William's sweetheart stood before him, the surgeon took a pair of scissors from his pocket and removed the bandages.

The entire party and all the guests held their breath for a brief moment until they heard the words of William which echoed throughout the cathedral as he said to his soon-to-be bride, "You're more beautiful than I ever imagined!"2

In one sense this gives us a faint glimpse as to what it will be like when we get to heaven and stand face to face with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. When we see him in all his majestic beauty—the God of all creation—no words this side of heaven could ever describe, nor any imagination ever perceive, what this experience will be like. As a hymn we used to sing with great enthusiasm in my childhood days expressed it, "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory!"

Just make sure that your name is written in God's book of life and that you, too, are on your way to heaven. For help be sure to read, "How to know God and be sure you're a real Christian" at: http://tinyurl.com/real-christian.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, Thank you for your wonderful promise that all who believe in your Son, Jesus, and have accepted him as their personal Lord and Savior and have had their sins forgiven have Jesus' promise that he is now in Heaven preparing a place for us and is coming back to take us to be with him and you for all eternity. 'What a day of rejoicing that will be.' Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
True contentment?
For reading & meditation: 1 Timothy 6:6
"But godliness with contentment is great gain."(v.6)

We continue meditating on the first of God's four purposes for money - to provide our basic needs. We saw yesterday that God longs for us to be dependent on Him. This is not because God is possessive, but because He knows that we experience our greatest happiness and freedom when we rely on Him alone.

When we fail to recognise our need for God, we tend to lose our love for God. And the more we lose our love for God, the more we come to depend upon ourselves. Permit me to remind you again of the text we looked at yesterday: "If we have food and clothing, we will be content" (1 Tim. 6:8). Contentment is the satisfaction we get from knowing there will be provision for our basic needs. We begin to lose our contentment when we compare what we have with what others have - and then before long expectations dominate our focus.

To the degree that our expectations increase, contentment diminishes. One of the great advantages of being content with basics is that it equips us to resist the alluring advertising which seeks to convince us that we are able really to enjoy life unless we buy some new commodity. A contented person feels wealthy because he knows that what he already possesses is all he needs for daily living. A veteran missionary, meeting some new recruits to the mission field, surprised them by saying: "The first thing I would like you to do is to make a list of all the things you think you need - then I will spend some time with you showing you how to do without them."

Prayer:
O my Father, I see that material things can be a good servant but a bad master. Deliver me from the bondage of the material and help me to become a truly contented person. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
Keeping Fueled & Aflame
Take your everyday, ordinary life . . .
and place it before God as an offering—Romans 12:1

The author of Hebrews laid down a challenge: “. . . let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). Eugene Peterson translated it as, “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out” (Hebrews 10:24 MSG). What a great challenge for us men, today. It dares us to engage our God-given capacities for imagining and inventing. But, it also dares to direct these capacities toward good purposes, toward God’s purposes.

Too often we use our imaginations to envision prosperous futures for ourselves, futures of comfort and materialism and separation . . . or . . . we use them to envision worrisome futures, futures where our worst fears come to pass. And too often, we use our inventiveness to build our own prosperity . . . or . . . to build barricades around our lives to protect ourselves from our fears.

What if we stopped doing that so much? What if, in faith, we were to refocus these imaginative and inventive capacities? What if we put them toward the task of keeping ourselves, and keeping those around us “fueled and aflame” (Romans 12:11-13 MSG)? What if we dedicated a few moments―every week, every month―to look at ourselves, our families, our friends, our communities, and allowed ourselves to dream and create? We wouldn’t be alone. God the Holy Spirit would be right there, in those moments, guiding us, inspiring us.


It’s not easy to change how we think and how we act. We need help. Take a few minutes to pray and listen for the Holy Spirit. Be still. Consider the question of how you might encourage “love and good deeds” in your family, among your friends, in your community. Whatever comes―if it fits within the principles of Scripture―trust it and make it happen.
 
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