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RiverOL

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God Is in Control
For reading & meditation - Isaiah 46:3-13
"... I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning ... My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please." (vv. 9-10)

Recognize that because you are finite you will never be able to fully understand the ways of God. It was a wonderful moment in my life when I was delivered from the torment of trying to figure out the reasons why God behaves the way He does. I was reading the Scripture at the top of this page when these thoughts hit me like a bolt from the blue: God is in control of the world. Don't try to grasp all the ramifications of this truth; just accept it. I have never spent a single moment since in trying to figure out why God does what He does.​

I accept His sovereignty without question - and I am all the better for it. "One of the marks of maturity," says Charles Swindoll, "is the quiet confidence that God is in control ... without the need to understand why He does what He does." "He does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, 'What doest thou?' " (Dan. 4:35, RSV). There are, of course, many more Scriptures that make the same point - the Almighty is in charge. If you are in a turmoil of fear trying to figure out the reasons why God does what He does, then stop. You can't anyway.

Feverishly trying to unravel all the knots can bring you to the edge of a nervous breakdown. The finite can never plumb the infinite. Face the fact that God's ways are unsearchable and unfathomable. Then you will start to live - really live.
Prayer: My gracious Father, set me free today from the tyranny of trying to fathom the unfathomable. Quietly I breathe the calm and peace of Your sovereignty into my being. No longer will I struggle to understand: I shall just stand. Thank You, Father. Amen.​
 

RiverOL

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Confession? Ugh . . .

. . . for all have sinned
and fall short of the glory of God—Romans 3:23

Confession—real, raw confession—is a critical component of a healthy spiritual life. It’s also an essential element of robust Christian brotherhood. We may not want to admit it, but we men need to be known, truly known . . . and be accepted by our brothers still.

We’ve all believed, though, that to be accepted we can project images that are only partially accurate. It seems so right, at first. But make no mistake—it’s not. It’s a lie from our enemy. As long as we conceal parts of our lives, we cannot know the true depth of friendships. As long as we hide, brotherhood is never tested. As long as we hide, we harbour doubts: would they stand by me, if they knew the real me? This leads to shame, and we forsake the compassion of true Christian community. “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Moreover, if friends see us only partially, they cannot fight for us—because we obscure what’s going wrong. But we’ve all “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And when we fall short, we need others to see . . . to step in, to help, and to pray. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another . . . pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power” (James 5:16).

You must figure out what to confess and to whom. What is easy: whatever you haven’t already. There shouldn’t be anything in your life that someone doesn’t know. Who requires you to ask God and to search your own heart. He’s put men into your life specifically for this type of transparency. Reach out to them today and have a conversation.
 

RiverOL

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7

A Father's Blessing

"When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, 'Who are these?' 'They are the sons God has given me here,' Joseph said to his father. Then Israel said, 'Bring them to me so I may bless them.'"1

One of the major causes of emotional and relational conflicts among teens, adults, and even children is that of fatherless homes, absentee fathers, emotionally uninvolved fathers, and/or abusive fathers. In God's economy and plan fathers have an extremely important and significant role to play, not only providing for their children's physical needs, but also for their emotional and spiritual needs. Equally important is the God-given role of mothers, but today we are focusing on fathers.

Regardless of what women's libbers and/or gay couples try to tell us, one of the greatest needs for healthy homes and families—healthy children, teens, and healthy, mature adults—is to have (or to have had) a father who is/was not only present emotionally, but also affirming, loving, accepting, and loving and giving full support to his wife—the mother of his children—and modeling what it means to be a kind, loving and supportive father, man, and adult. Every child needs this support and blessing from his/her father. The importance of this for the healthy nurturing of children simply cannot be over-emphasized.

For a few simple tips on being a supportive father, listen to what Gary Smalley, popular author and psychologist, had to say after he asked 100 people, "What is one specific way you knew that you had received your father's blessing?"

Here are some of those answers:

1. "My father would put his arm around me at church and let me lay my head on his shoulder."

2. "When my father was facing being transferred at work, he purposely took another job so that I could finish my senior year in high school at the same school."

3. "When I wrecked my parent's car, my father's first reaction was to hug me and let me cry instead of yelling at me."

4. "When I was thirteen, my dad trusted me to use his favorite hunting rifle when I was invited to go hunting with a friend and his father."

5. "My father went with me when I had to take back an ugly dress a saleswoman had talked me into buying."

6. "My father would let me practice pitching to him for a long time when he got home from work."

7. "Even though I had never seen him cry before, my father cried during my wedding because he was going to miss my no longer being at home."2

Perhaps the greatest need of fathers is to be emotionally as well as physically present for his wife and children. At the same time, it's the multiplication of the everyday little loving, caring things over the years that help a child to feel affirmed and blessed by his/her father.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to be the kind of father (or mother) you want me to be. And please help me to be a channel of your love, and because of your love flowing through me, grant that my children will know without a shadow of a doubt that they have indeed been blessed by their father. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
 

RiverOL

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God Tests before He Entrusts
For reading & meditation - 1 Peter 4:12-19
"... those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." (v. 19)

God seldom uses anyone unless He puts that person through the test of suffering and adversity. Jesus, you remember, began His ministry in the wilderness of temptation, but it culminated in a garden in Jerusalem on Easter morning. Our lesser ministries, too, need the test of suffering. An ancient proverb says: "He who is born in the fire will not fade in the sun." If God lets us suffer in the fire of adversity, depend on it - He is only making sure that we will not fade in the sun of smaller difficulties. Has life broken you by suffering and affliction?

Are you feeling weakened and drained by the things that have happened to you? Take hold of the principles we have been examining this week, and I promise you that never again will life break you at the point of suffering. This does not mean that you will never again experience suffering, but it does mean that you will respond to the suffering with a new and positive faith. Let me draw your attention once more to the text we looked at the other day: "Although they may in the usual way slander you as evildoers, yet when disasters come they may glorify God when they see how well you conduct yourselves" (1 Pet. 2:12, Phillips). Make no mistake about it - the world is watching how we Christians react to suffering. What do they see? People who struggle on in continual weakness, or people who have been made "strong at the broken places"?

Prayer: O Father, I am one of Your followers, but so often I am afraid to follow You all the way. Yet I see that Your way is right - nothing else is right. I know You will stand by me; help me to stand by You. For Jesus' sake. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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What Is That in Your Hand?

"Moses answered [God], 'What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, "The LORD did not appear to you?"' Then the LORD said to him, 'What is that in your hand?' 'A staff,' he replied. The LORD said, 'Throw it on the ground.' Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it."1

I have read how "there was a 10-year-old boy, whose left arm was damaged and subsequently amputated. He decided to learn judo. His sensei (teacher) was an old Japanese judo expert.

"The boy learned quickly. After a short time, he had mastered one important move. He asked his teacher to teach him more moves. The sensei told him that this was all he would need.

"Soon after, the boy entered a tournament where his opponent was bigger and more experienced. The boy seemed outmatched. After a long match, the opponent seemed to lose concentration. Quickly, the boy took advantage and pinned what seemed to be his superior opponent.

"On the ride home, the boy asked his sensei, 'How could I win with this one move?' The sensei replied, 'You have mastered one of the difficult moves in judo. And a good defense against that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm.'"2

Sometimes we don't think we have much to offer in service to God. But we all have at least "one thing in our hand." If we offer that willingly to God, he will use it for his glory. And as the writer of the above story said, "Sometimes your biggest weakness can become your greatest strength."

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for the gift you have given to me. Help me to know what it is and how I can best use it for serving you and helping others. I want to be a winner in your book. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
 

RiverOL

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When Riches Take Wings
For reading & meditation - Proverbs 23
"Do not wear yourself out to get rich.... Cast but a glance at riches ... for they will surely sprout wings and fly off ..." (vv. 4-5)

We move on now to consider yet another way in which life can break us - through financial disaster or material loss. Some Christians speak scornfully against money. I have heard them quote Scripture in this way: "Money is the root of all evil." They forget that the text actually reads: "The love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Tim. 6:10, KJV). Money in itself is not evil. It feeds the hungry, clothes the naked and succors the destitute, and through it many errands of mercy are performed. Some years ago the recorder at the Old Bailey made a statement which was reported in almost every newspaper.

He said, "A couple of pounds very often saves a life - and sometimes a soul." It may be true that money cannot bring happiness but, as somebody said, "It can certainly put our creditors in a better frame of mind." Perhaps nothing hurts more than when life breaks us through a financial crisis, and we experience something of what the writer of the Proverbs describes - "riches taking wings." Can we be made strong at the broken place of financial failure? We can. I think now as I write of a man I knew some years ago who lost all his assets. Such was his financial crisis that he lost everything - literally everything. Life broke him. He came out of it, however, with a new philosophy that changed his whole attitude toward money. I am sure of this: life will never break him there again. He was made strong at the broken place. And so, my friend, can you be.

Prayer: O Father, help me to settle once and for all my attitude toward this complex problem of money. If it is a weakness, then help me make it a strength. For Jesus' sake. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Transferring the Ownership
For reading & meditation - Genesis 22:1-19
"... because you ... have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you ..." (vv. 16-17)

We referred yesterday to the man who was broken by a financial disaster, but came out of it enabled to say, "Never again will I be broken by material loss." And why? Because he built for himself a biblical framework which enabled him to see the whole issue of finances from God's point of view. Here are the steps my friend took in moving from financial bondage to financial freedom. (1) In a definite act of commitment, transfer the ownership of all your possessions to God.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we do not in reality own our possessions. We are stewards, not proprietors, of the assets which God puts into our hands. After reading the story of Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son, my friend got alone with God and offered every single one of his possessions to the Lord. He said, "I continued in prayer until every single item I had was laid on God's altar, and when it was over I was a transformed man.

That act of dedication became the transformation point in my finances." If, in reality, we do not own our possessions, then the obvious thing to do is to have the sense to say to God: "Lord, I'm not the owner, but the ower. Teach me how to work out that relationship for as long as I live." When you let go of your possessions and let God have full control, the whole issue of stewardship becomes meaningful. You are handling something on behalf of Another. Money is no longer your master - it becomes instead your messenger.

Prayer: Father, I'm conscious that, once again, You have Your finger on another sensitive spot. I wince, but I know I can never be a true disciple until I make this commitment. I do it today - gladly. For Your own dear Name's sake. Amen
 

RiverOL

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Ready to Go? Let’s Go.

For I am ready . . . even to die in Jerusalem
for the name of the Lord Jesus—Acts 21:13


When we follow him, God will—sooner or later—ask us to do something we don’t want to do, to go someplace we don’t want to go. Maybe his “ask” will come through a nudge or as a thought in prayer. Maybe it will come as a prompt while reading Scripture. Maybe through the encouraging or challenging words of a friend. However it comes, it will come.

After visiting Ephesus and Macedonia, the Apostle Paul got an “ask” from God the Holy Spirit to go on to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21). The Spirit warned him, however: if he went there, he’d be arrested. Paul’s friends begged him not to go. Paul answered: “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).

For us to become the men we were created to become, for us to become the men the world needs us to become, we must act with the same boldness and confidence. Paul was bold and confident because he trusted two things: God’s in charge and God’s good. We must trust those too. For they allow us, like Paul, to trust one thing more: our affirmative answers to God’s “asks” are ultimately good for us, good for others, and good for God’s Kingdom . . . and will very likely become the proudest moments of our lives. Indeed, these “asks” lead us into the very adventures for which we were created.



What do you feel God might be asking of you, right now? Is there anything you just know he’s prompting you, quietly, to do? If so, resolve to trust him. And today take a practical and measurable step—bold and confident—toward that thing.
 

RiverOL

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Hitched to a Plough
For reading & meditation - Colossians 3
"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." (v. 2)

We continue to consider the steps that can move us from financial freedom: (2) Streamline your life toward the purposes of God's kingdom. Livingstone said, "I will place no value on anything that I have or possess, except in relation to the kingdom of Christ. If anything I have will advance that kingdom it shall be given or kept, whichever will best promote the glory of Him to whom I owe all my hopes, both for time and eternity " Another missionary said, "That first sentence of Livingstone's should become the life motto of every Christian.

Each Christian should repeat this slowly to himself every day: I will place no value on anything I have or possess, except in relation to the kingdom of Christ." If it advances the kingdom it has value - it can stay. If it is useless to the kingdom it is valueless - it must be made useful, or go. John Wanamaker, a fine Christian businessman, visited China many years ago to see if the donations he had made to missionary work were being used to their best advantage. One day he came to a village where there was a beautiful church, and in a nearby field, he caught sight of a young man yoked together with an ox, ploughing a field.

He went over and asked what was the purpose of this strange yoking. An old man who was driving the plough said, "When we were trying to build the church, my son and I had no money to give, and my son said, 'Let us sell one of our two oxen and I will take its yoke.' We did so and gave the money to the chapel." Wanamaker wept!

Prayer: Father, I feel like weeping too when I consider how little of my life is streamlined for kingdom purposes. Help me to be willing to be hitched to a plough and know the joy of sacrifice. For Jesus' sake. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Going out on a Limb

"Choose you this day whom you will serve . . . But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."1

"Don't be afraid to go out on a limb. That's where the fruit is," said one insightful person.

To achieve anything worthwhile in life that has eternal value and dividends, we need to genuinely serve God. To do this we may need to go out on a limb and be willing to swim against the tide of popular thought, to be different but not odd, assertive but not aggressive, strong but not pushy, meek but not weak, honest and truthful but not unkind.

We may, at times, even be considered a little bit crazy, but as another has said, "You've got to be a little bit crazy because if you always keep both feet on the ground, you can never get your pants on!"

Seriously, to serve God, also means knowing what your God-given life purpose is; that is, knowing what God wants you to be and what he wants you to do with your life. It will include having a worthwhile goal and work into which you can put your heart and best efforts. But doing this can be scary because like Noah, Abraham and other men and women of faith we, too, (even if it isn't to the same extent) may need to step out in faith and go out on a limb! But remember, that's where the fruit is.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me the courage and help me to so live in harmony with Your will that, when necessary, I will not be afraid to go out on a limb, so that whatever I do—with Your help—will be fruitful, productive and bring glory to Your name. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
 

RiverOL

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Riches or Poverty - So What?
For reading & meditation - Philippians 4:4-13
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any ... situation ..." (v. 12)

Here is another step that can move us from financial bondage to financial freedom. Recognize that you are only free when you are free to use either poverty or plenty. There are two ways in which men and women try to defend themselves against financial disaster. One is by saving as much as possible in an attempt to avert it. The other is by renouncing money or material things entirely in order to be free from their clutches. Both methods have disadvantages. The first, because it can cause miserliness and anxiety, and tends to make a person as metallic as the coins they seek to amass.

The second, because it seeks to get rid of the difficulty by washing one's hands of it entirely. In each case, there is a bondage - one is a bondage to material things, the other a bondage to poverty. The man who is free to use plenty only is bound by that, while the man who is free to use poverty only is also bound. They are both bound. But the person who, like Paul in the text before us today, has "learned the secret of being content ... whether living in plenty or in want" is free, really free.

While waiting for a train in India, a missionary got into a conversation with a high-caste Indian. "Are you traveling on the next train?" the missionary asked. "No," he replied, "that train has only third-class carriages. It's all right for you, because you are a Christian. Third class doesn't degrade you and first class doesn't exalt you. You are above these distinctions, but I have to observe them." Lifted above all distinctions!

Prayer: O Father, what a way to live - lifted above all distinctions. Plenty doesn't entangle my spirit, and poverty doesn't break it. No matter how I have lived in the past - this is how I want to live in the future. Help me, dear Lord. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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A Need or a Want?
For reading & meditation - Philippians 4:14-23
"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (v. 19)

Today we look at yet another step that will help us overcome financial disaster: (4) Learn to differentiate between a need and a want. Your needs are important, but not your wants. God has promised to supply all your needs, but not all your wants. What are our needs? Someone defined it like this: "We need as much as will make us physically, mentally, and spiritually fit for the purposes of the kingdom of God.

Anything beyond that belongs to other people's needs." If this is true, then how do we decide what belongs to our needs? No one can decide that for you; it must be worked out between you and God. Go over your life in God's presence and see what belongs to your needs, and what belongs to your wants. Let the Holy Spirit sensitize your conscience so that you can distinguish the difference. A fisherman tells this story: "Yesterday on the lake I let my boat drift.

As I looked at the water, I could see no drift at all. Only as I looked at the fixed point of the shoreline could I see how far I was drifting." It is a parable! It is only as you fix your eyes on Christ, and watch for His approval, that you will know whether you are staying on God's course - or drifting away from it. One more thing: keep your needs strictly to needs, not luxuries disguised as needs. If you eat more than you need, you clog up your system. It is the same with other things. Needs contribute; luxuries choke.

Prayer: Gracious Father, bring me under the sway of Your creative Spirit. Sensitize my inner being so that I might hear Your voice when I am about to go off course. This I ask for Your own dear Name's sake. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Light It Up . . . Right Where You Are

You are the light of the world—Matthew 5:14

The strongest evidence that we are where God wants us—in our jobs, in our careers, in our cities—is simply that we’re there. God Almighty knows where we are. He sees us (Luke 12:6-7). He is with us (1 Corinthians 3:16). There is a plan. King David sang to God, “in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16). So, where we are—right now—is no accident. And until further notice (which may come), we’ve got to assume that where we are is where he wants us to be . . . for specific reasons, for his specific purposes.

High on that list of God’s purposes is that we’re his light in our existing regions of influence and impact (Matthew 5:14). Jesus tells us to not hide the light that radiates from us when we follow him: “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Our lights dim, however, when we get too comfortable with the cultures of the places where we find ourselves—in our jobs, in our careers, in our cities. We must, therefore, resist adoption, whether conscious or subconscious, of the prevailing beliefs, codes, or values of those places. We follow Christ. We believe him. That’s our code. Our values are his values.

Look around. How would you describe the top two or three most apparent and distinct values/beliefs in your place of work or your city? What is the accepted “code” for someone in your career? Be specific and matter-of-fact. Now, give it some thought . . . what do you think about the answers to those questions?
 

RiverOL

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Promises! Promises!
For reading & meditation - Proverbs 20
"...'it's no good!? says the buyer; then off he goes and boasts about his purchase." (v. 14)

We continue following the steps that help us become strong at the broken place of financial disaster: (5) Ask God to help you resist the powerful pressures of this modern-day consumer society. I once listened to a sermon in which the preacher likened Satan's conversation with Eve in the Garden of Eden to the subtle tactics of modern advertising.

The main point he made was that if Eve could become discontent with all she had in that lush garden called Paradise, there is little hope for us unless we identify and reject modern methods of alluring advertising. What exactly is alluring advertising? One definition puts it like this: "Alluring advertising is a carefully planned appeal to our human weakness, which is designed to make us discontented with what we have so that we can rationalize buying things we know we do not need and should not have." Not all advertising, of course, falls into this category, but much of it does. Charles Swindoll, an American author, claims that some advertising is not just alluring, but definitely demonic.

I agree. He says that he and his family have developed a simple technique to overrule television commercials that attempt to convince us that we need a certain product in order to be happy. He describes it like this: "Everytime we feel a persuasive tug from a television commercial, we simply shout at the top of our voices: 'Who do you think you're kidding!'" He claims it really works. God expects us to discipline ourselves in relation to many things, and not the least is the discipline of spiritual "sales resistance."

Prayer:
Father, help me, I pray, to see right through the alluring advertising of today's world, and develop within me the wisdom and strength to build up a strong spiritual "sales resistance." For Your honor and glory I ask it. Amen
 

RiverOL

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The Baffling Call of God

"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'"1

While it doesn't have to do with age, another thing I struggled with in earlier days was how would I know if God was calling me to some kind of Christian ministry? I went to my pastor for counsel. His advice was: "If God is calling you to Christian ministry, then you'd better do it. If he isn't, you'd better not!" Good advice but it didn't answer my question. I came away as confused as when I went in.

Perhaps the most helpful counsel I received came from Oswald Chambers who described God's call as being like "the call of the sea to the sailor. Only he who has the nature of the see within can hear that call."

In other words, a man who is "called" to be a sailor has, metaphorically speaking, salt water in his veins and he cannot rest until he launches out to sea. So it is with the call of God, one cannot rest until he or she steps out from the safety of the shore and launches out into the deep of what he believes God is calling him or her to do.

Another test is the same as it would be for a musician. Are you gifted for what you believe you are being called to do? For instance, I don't think God calls people who can't sing on key to be soloists or choir members. As a general rule, although not always, friends can help you face this test realistically; that is, they can see if you are gifted for what you think you are being called to do.

Another excellent test is to try doing what you feel called to do. For example, when I feel God is leading or calling me to do something, I try doing it in a small way to see if it is from God or from myself. I would rather put it to the test and be wrong than, through fear of failure, never step out and try it to see if it is of God. You may need to test what you feel called to do several times because anything worthwhile rarely comes easily. I suggest others do the same. Only you can test what you feel and believe is your call.

Be assured, however, if God has called or led you to do something, he will help you. But we have to do our part too—and get the training necessary to do well what we are gifted for and called of God to do. As a general rule, answering God's call and doing his will is something we will delight in doing—even if it takes a while! As the psalmist wrote about Jesus saying, "I delight to do Your will, Oh my God."2

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me a receptive heart and a listening ear to hear what You might be calling me to do—no matter what that might be. Give me the courage to step out and test it and, if it be of You, get the training I need to do my job as well as possible for Your glory and the benefit of others. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
 
Be a Generous Person
For reading & meditation - 1 Timothy 6:6-19
"Command them ... to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves ..." (vv. 18-19)

We have been discussing the steps we need to take to become strong at the place where life breaks us through a financial disaster. The sixth and final principle the friend I previously referred to used, and which we need to practice too, is this: (6) Become a generous person. Look again at the text at the top of this page. It is so clear that it hardly needs any explanation. Woven through the fabric of these verses, as well as in many others in the New Testament, is the thought: give, give, give, give, give. When you have money, don't hoard it, release it.

Let generosity become your trademark. This is not to say that you have to give all your money away, but give as much as you can, and as much as you believe God would have you give. Jesus once said, "If your eye is generous, the whole of your body will be illumined" (Matt. 6:22, Moffatt). What does this mean? If your eye - your outlook on life, your whole way of looking at things and people - is generous, then your whole personality is illumined, lit up. Jesus had little to give in terms of finances, but He was generous toward all - the sick, the needy, the maimed, the sinful, and the unlovely. His whole personality was full of light. So be like Jesus - begin to see everybody and everything with a generous eye. Don't be a mean person. One of the greatest definitions of Christianity I have ever heard is simply this: "Give, give, give, give give...."

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me this day and every day of my life from now on, to make generosity the basis of all my dealings with people. Make me the channel and not the dead end of all Your generosity to me. For Your dear Name's sake. Amen.
 
When the Devil Knocks on My Door

"Resist the devil and he will flee from you."1

A friend recently gave me the following suggestion: "When Satan comes to remind me about my past, I remind him about his future."

One thing Satan does is continually accuse us before God (See Revelation 12:10). He will accuse us, too, of our past in our mind if we allow him to. When he does, however, we can remind him not only about his future in hell, but also that Christ shed his blood on the cross and gave his life to pay for our sins and has washed them all away. So what's there to accuse us of if we have confessed our sins to Christ and asked for and accepted his forgiveness? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Because Christ died for us and cleansed us from our sins, we can, in His name, resist the devil and, as James said, he will flee from us. Satan hates the name of Jesus. Be sure to mention it when Satan comes to tempt you. Instead of trying to reason with Satan, just remind him of his future and mention the name of Jesus saying, 'Jesus Christ is Lord!'"

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You that You have defeated Satan and all his evil demons, and that there is power in Your name to defend against any and all of Satan's devious ways and to defeat him. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
 
When Evil Thoughts Oppress
For reading & meditation - Matthew 15
"For out of the heart come evil thoughts ..." (v. 19)

We turn now to focus on yet another place where life can break us - through the affliction of evil thoughts. I am thinking not simply of an occasional wrong thought popping into one's mind, but of those situations where people become oppressed by thoughts which are obsessive and repetitive. A letter I received some time ago said, "My private discussions with Christians of all denominations has led me to believe that more are afflicted and oppressed by evil thoughts than we might imagine." When the late Dr. Sangster, the great Methodistpreacher, once visited Bexhill-on-Sea, he found a lovely avenue of trees.

A nature lover to the core, he walked admiringly up and down the avenue, and then noticed a strange thing. Two of the trees were dead, and not only dead, but dismally and evilly offensive. Frost could not account for it; their neighbors were all healthy. He made inquiries, and found out that the gas main which ran underneath them had been leaking! Everything on the surface had been in their favor - the sea breezes, sunshine, rain ... but they had been poisoned from beneath.

There are many Christians like that. Perhaps you are one. The circumstances of their lives all seem in their favor - a good job, a happy family, a pleasant environment, a fine church, yet their lives are mysteriously blighted by evil thoughts. Who can help us when our lives are spoiled by continual and oppressive evil thoughts? Jesus can! Christ can not only heal the brokenness but also make you strong at the broken place.

Prayer: O Father, I am so grateful that You are showing me Your indomitable way. You can do more than sustain me in my weakness; You can turn my weakness into strength. Make me strong in this area. For Jesus' sake. Amen.
 
Universal Laws

"Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."1

"The Bible has changed the lives of more persons than any other book," said W. Clement Stone. "It has helped countless thousands to develop physical, mental and moral health."

At least here in America, the ever increasing and accelerating moral decline, the tearing down of marriage, the promotion of homosexuality as a normal alternative lifestyle, unthinkable abortion practices, the never ending bombardment from online pornographers and pornographic pedophiles, etc., etc., are, without question, directly related to the ever increasing attacks against the Bible, Christianity, the Ten Commandments, and the laws prohibiting prayer and the display of Christian symbols in public places.

Every rule, every law, every principle in God's Word, the Bible, is there, not because God is a kill-joy, but for our protection and the total physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of the individual, the family, the community, and the nation as a whole.

God's moral law is as much a universal law as is the law of gravity. We know better than to try and break this law. In fact, we can't break the law of gravity. If we try to, it breaks us. Or rather, we break ourselves by disregarding it. This law holds the physical universe together, keeps the planets in their orbit, and the earth revolving around the sun. It also keeps our feet on good old mother earth. Without it life could not exist on earth.

Likewise, God's moral law holds the moral universe together. It, too, is for our protection and total well-being. We can't break it any more than we can break the law of gravity. When we try to it breaks us. Or rather, in our disregard of it, we break and destroy ourselves.

In this sense it's not God who judges us for our disregard of his laws. We bring the judgment or the natural consequences upon ourselves. Obeying God's Word leads to life. Disregarding it and going our own way leads, not only to disaster in this life, but also to eternal death in the after-life—which is not the cessation of life but eternal separation from God, the author of all love and life.

In other words, God's laws are to protect us from hell—hell on earth and hell in life-after-life. We disregard God's laws to our own peril and end up unhappily destroying ourselves.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You that you have given us the words of life—and that you have given us all the laws we need to live wholesome, fulfilling, and satisfying lives. Give me a love and great respect for Your laws and help me to live in harmony with them. And please grant a great spiritual awakening throughout our nation so we will embrace Your laws and your ways, so that we will save our land for our children and our children's children. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Psalm 119:105 (NIV).
 
Little Eyes"
For reading & meditation - Mark 9:42-50
"And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out." (v. 47)

What are the principles we must follow if we are to move from weakness to strength in relation to this matter of evil thoughts?

The first is: Take steps to ensure that you are not contributing to the problem by the literature you read or the things you watch. One great philosopher said that if you want to evaluate the moral tone of a society, just examine its literature. These days it is hardly possible to pick up a newspaper that does not contain a picture oran article that is calculated to inflame our passions.

We live in an age which is preoccupied with sensuality and hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure). Any discussion on this subject must inevitably be linked with sex, as this is one of the main ingredients in the problem of evil thoughts. Although sex is not evil in itself, few topics can so engross the mind or kindle our curiosity.

People with a passionate nature, however high their ideals, often fight a battle in their mind and imagination with sexual fantasies. These, in turn, make them the kind of people of whom Montaigne speaks with much contempt: "Men and women whose heads are a merry- go-round of lustful images."

Fix it firmly in your mind that the first step to victory over evil thoughts is to cut off the supply at the source. Burn any books or magazines in your possession that others might describe as "really hot." Turn off the TV when it violates biblical standards. Avoid newspapers that go in for nudity. Saying "no" to sensuality is the same as saying "yes" to God.

Prayer: Father, help me to realize that although Christianity is a privilege and not a prohibition - it does have prohibition in it. Today I am going to make up my mind to say a firm "no" to the things that are not of You. Strengthen me in this resolve. Amen.
 
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