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In step


Doing What is Right

For reading & meditation - Philippians 2:5-16

"... continue to work out your salvation ... for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." (vv. 12-13)

We ended yesterday's devotional by saying that the biblical response to all of life's problems is to take advantage of the unfailing grace of God, and turn our setbacks into springboards. I know that some will respond to that statement by saying, "It sounds good in theory, but it's hard to put it into practice.

What about the hurts that some people carry inside them, that make it difficult or sometimes impossible for them to make use of God's grace to turn their problems into possibilities?" I do understand and sympathize with the wounds that people have, which sometimes militate against their desire to respond to life in a biblical way. I know from firsthand experience the arguments that people can put forward to avoid doing what God asks in His Word.

However, I must take my stand, and so must you, on the authority of Scripture, and affirm that God never asks us to do what we are incapable of doing. Much of evangelical Christianity, I am afraid, is man-centered.

We need a return to a God-centered position which does exactly what God asks, whether we feel like it or not. I freely confess that there are times when I don't feel like obeying God. I know, however, what is right - that God has redeemed me and that I belong to Him - and I do what He wants me to whether I feel like it or not. What controls you in your Christian life - your feelings or what you know God asks and expects you to do? Your answer will reveal just who is in the driver's seat!

Gracious and loving heavenly Father, teach me the art of responding to life, not with my feelings but with a clear mind and a clear resolve. Help me to do what is right - whether I feel like it or not. For Jesus' sake. Amen..


Get Hold of This!

For reading & meditation - Romans 8:28-39

"... we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (v. 28)

Before going on to examine some of the major ways in which life breaks us, we pause to review what we have been saying over these past few days. We said that while the same things may happen to us all, they do not have the same effect upon us all. Life's blows make some people querulous and bitter; others, they sweeten and refine.

We also saw that the reason some respond to life positively and turn their problems into possibilities is because of right inner attitudes. There are many non-Christians who put us to shame when it comes to the question of rightly responding to life, and it is high time, therefore, that we Christians got our philosophy of living sorted out once and for all.

If, as the Scripture teaches, God will let nothing happen to one of His children without supplying the necessary grace to turn the stumbling block into a stepping stone, then we ought to be ahead of the world in demonstrating how to meet whatever life sends us with confidence and faith.

Be quite clear about this: no one can fully represent the Christian way of living until they commit themselves to believing that, though God may allow what appears to be a disaster in the life of one of His children, He does so only if He can turn it to good effect.

If transformation is not possible, then God would never have allowed it to happen in the first place. So let this truth sink deep into your spirit - God only allows what He can use.

Father, I come to You now to ask that this truth be so impressed upon me during the weeks ahead that never again will I have to be reminded of it. For Your own dear Name's sake. Amen.


Never Soar as High Again?

For reading & meditation - 1 Peter 1:3-9

"These have come so that your faith ... may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (v. 7)

We turn now to examine some of the ways in which our lives become fractured, and what we can do to become "strong at the broken places." We begin by looking at the brokenness which comes about through failure.

Probably someone reading these words is caught up in a vortex of gloom due to a failure. You may be feeling like the man who said to me: "I am stunned by my failure. My life is shattered into smithereens. I read somewhere that 'the bird with the broken wing will never soar as high again.'

Does that mean I can never rise to the heights in God which once I knew?" I reminded him of Simon Peter - a man with one of the worst track records in the New Testament. He was prejudiced, bigoted, stubborn, and spiritually insensitive.

Again and again he got his wires crossed, such as the time when he attempted to divert Christ from going to His death in Jerusalem (Matt. 16:22), or his insistence that they should stay on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:4). Then, on the eve of Christ's crucifixion, he denied and even cursed his Lord. I can imagine Satan whispering in his ear: "Now you're finished. Burned out. A failure. You'll be forgotten ... replaced."

But by God's grace, Peter rose from failure to success. He became "strong at the broken places." Because he refused to live in the shadow of his bad track record, his two letters are enshrined forever in the Scriptures. Failures, you see, are only temporary tests to prepare us for more permanent triumphs.

O Father, I see so clearly that no failure is a failure if it succeeds in driving me to Your side. All things serve me - when I serve You. Amen.


Incisive Questions

For reading & meditation - Ecclesiastes 7:21-29

"So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom ..." (v. 25)

What steps must we take, when broken by failure, to ensure that we become strong at the place of weakness? Keep in mind that the principles we are considering are not only corrective, but also preventative.

The first thing we should do, whenever we have failed in anything, is to analyze the reason for the failure. These are some of the questions you should ask yourself: Have I contributed in any way to this failure by such things as inattention to detail, lack of preparation, naivet?, wrong timing, disregard of moral principles, or insensitivity to other people?s feelings?

Another question is: What does God want me to learn from this failure? It is difficult, of course, to sit down and question yourself like this when failure strikes; but, as soon as possible after the event, try to assess the lessons that can be learned by honestly facing your emotions - such as hurt, anger, anxiety. Remember, when we stop learning, we stop living.

Yet another question to ask yourself is this: Has God allowed this failure so that His purposes for me might be made clear? I know a man, well-known in evangelical circles, who, when he was in his teens, mapped out a career for himself. Although a brilliant student, he failed the entrance examination into his chosen profession. When the news was broken to him, he simply said, "Lord, I just know You are involved in this: what do You want me to do?"

This was the moment God had been waiting for, and He showed him a new path that has made him Christ's ambassador to millions.

Father, help me to face my failure in the knowledge that some good can be wrested from even the most depressing circumstances. Show me that incisive questions can bring incisive answers. In Jesus' Name. Amen.


Looking Failure in the Face

For reading & meditation - John 13:12-32

"... 'Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him.'" (v. 31)

The second thing we should do when failure strikes is to face it in the knowledge that with God something can be made out of it. The account before us today tells of Christ's betrayal by Judas.

Notice how Jesus first accepted the situation before He went on to make something out of it. The Master said: "What you are about to do, do quickly." He made no attempt to ignore the situation, sweep it under the carpet, or pretend it was not there - instead He calmly and deliberately faced reality.

Before we go any further, make up your mind to face up to all of life's problems, because if you try to ignore them, you will become inwardly demeaned. The account continues: "As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. When he was gone, Jesus said, 'Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. '"

Not only did Jesus accept the situation, but He moved on to turn it into victory. No self-pity, no egotistical concern - He took charge of the situation and made the betrayal contribute to His victory. Was Jesus hurt by Judas' betrayal? I should think so.

But instead of spending the night wallowing in self-pity He looked at the situation from God's point of view and quietly affirmed: "Now is the Son of Man glorified." It may take you a little while to be able to respond to difficult situations in the way Jesus did, but remember this - the resources on which the Master drew are yours for the asking.

Father, I see that my life will be made or broken at the place where I acknowledge and deal with my failures. Help me not to run away from them, because in You I am more than a match for anything. Thank You, Father. Amen.


A Biblical Mentality
For reading & meditation - 1 Thessalonians 2
"You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure." (v. 1)

Today we examine yet another principle which we must develop in our lives if we are to become strong at the broken places of failure: cultivate a biblical perspective on everything.

You may be familiar with the passage before us today, but I want to emphasize several points from it which help us to see how effectively Paul believed and practiced spiritual principles. Firstly, his words and preaching, despite strong public opposition, were not the result of his own thinking - they were the result of the gospel of God (v. 2).
Secondly, the very foundation of his life and character were based on the truth of the gospel (v. 3). Thirdly, he considered God's Word as something "entrusted" to him, and it gave him such security that he didn't feel the need to compromise or become a "people pleaser" (v. 4).

It may sound old-fashioned and naive to some, but I believe with all my heart that the secret of surviving life's crushing defeats and blows is to develop a spiritual and biblical perspective on everything.

"It is blessed," wrote C. H. Spurgeon, "to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord, so that your blood is Bibline and the very essence of the Bible flows from you." Descriptive, isn't it? I find this idea of being committed to a biblical mentality so rare among modern-day Christians that I sometimes tremble inwardly with concern. Someone said, "Time spent with the Bible knits up the ravelled sleeve of care." It does.

O Father, help me, also, "to eat into the very soul of the Bible ... until my spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord." Give me a biblical mentality. For Jesus' sake I pray. Amen.


"I Didn't"
For reading & meditation - Hebrews 12
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus ... who for the joy set before him endured the cross ..." (v. 2)

Another principle in coping with failure is this: If the thing in which you failed is clearly the right thing for you to do, then dedicate your energies to God, try again, and don't give up. A father, trying to encourage his teenage son after he had failed an examination, said, "Don?t give up, try again."

"What's the use?" said the son. "It's easier to quit." His father remonstrated with him, saying, "The people who are remembered in life are the people who, when they failed, didn't give up, but tried again." He went on, "Remember Churchill? Remember Thomas Edison? They didn't give up!" The boy nodded. His father went on, "Remember John McCringle?"

"Who is John McCringle?" the boy asked. "You see," said the father, "you don't remember him - he gave up." A poster showed a picture of a man sitting on a park bench looking depressed and disconsolate. His arms were folded across his chest, and there was a look of resignation on his face.

The caption read, "I give up." When I first saw this poster, I looked at it for a few moments and turned away, but then my eye was attracted to something in the right-hand corner of the poster. It was a picture of a black hill and on it a very tiny cross. These words, barely perceptible, were printed beneath it: "I didn't." Feel like giving up at this moment? Then lift your eyes to the cross. The one who triumphed over all obstacles holds out His hands toward you. Take His hand, and in His strength and power - try again.

O God, help me to link my littleness to Your greatness, my faintheartedness to Your boldness, my fear to Your faith. Then nothing can stop me. Amen.


Grace - Greater than Failure
For reading & meditation - 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
"... God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times ... you will abound in every good work." (v. 8)

Another principle we must develop in our lives if we are to cope with failure is this: However disappointing and discouraging our failures, grace covers them all. No fears need creep in today from yesterday's failures, for grace has wiped them out and works to turn them to good effect.

This does not mean that we evade the consequences of our failures, but providing we respond correctly and with honesty, grace flows in to take over and transform. Emerson says: "Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders, some failures, some absurdities will have crept in. But forget them.

Tomorrow is a new day." This is good advice, but not quite good enough. We cannot just "forget them," especially if our failures have brought distress to others also. However, when we face things honestly and determine to learn from our failures, then God transforms those failures by His grace.

He wipes away the burning memories of shame and self-disgust so that our failures, seen through grace, do not paralyze us but propel us forward. The Old Testament ends with a curse (Mal. 4:6), but the New Testament ends with grace (Rev. 22:21).

What does this suggest? It suggests that grace does not simply look back at past deeds; it looks forward to hold that future steady. You are under grace today, and you will be under grace tomorrow. What a prospect! The past can't hurt you, and both today and tomorrow are secure. Our failures, therefore, make us sing - sing at the redemption that grace draws from them.

O Father, I am so thankful that grace holds the keys of yesterday and tomorrow. You lock the one - and open the other. And there is grace for today too! I am eternally grateful. Amen.


Men Cry Out Against the Heavens
For reading & meditation - Psalms 9
"he [God] ... cares for the helpless. He does not ignore those who cry t o him for help" (v. 12, NLT)

Having learned something about how to cope with failure, we turn now to face the issue of what to do when life breaks us with unmerited suffering and affliction. I get more letters on this subject than on almost any other. People write and say, "My suffering is so great that I sometimes doubt the existence of a God of love.

Can you say something that will help me regain my faith in this tragic hour?" One of the most poignant elements in suffering is that there often seems to be no meaning in it. One great writer said that anyone who was undisturbed by the problem of unmerited suffering was a victim of either a hardened heart or a softened brain. He was right.

Everyone who is mentally alive, especially if he believes in a God of love, finds this problem difficult to solve. No wonder the poet cried out: My son, the world is dark with griefs and graves So dark that men cry out against the heavens.

I suppose there is nothing that makes people cry out against the heavens so much as the anguish which comes unbidden and unmerited. Some of our sufferings are the result of our own crassness and stupidity.

But what about when life breaks us with sufferings that are not directly related to us? Does God remember us then? Our text today says that He does. This in itself should be enough to keep us brave, if not blithe; in peace, if not in happiness. Write it on your heart. God remembers you in your suffering. He really does!

Lord Jesus, You who experienced suffering in a way I will never know, hold me close to Your heart so that my sufferings will not demolish me, but develop me. For Your own dear Name's sake. Amen


Suffering is Inevitable
For reading & meditation - Job 5:1-18
"Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward." (v. 7)

How do we, as Christians, cope with the problem of unmerited suffering? The first thing we must do is to recognize that in a universe whose balance has been greatly upset by sin, undeserved suffering is bound to come.

Face this, and you are halfway to turning the problem into a possibility. In an Indian palace, many years ago, a child was born whose parents decided to keep all signs of decay and death from him. When he was taken into the garden, maids were sent before him to remove all the decaying flowers and fallen leaves, so that he would be protected from all signs of suffering and death.

One day, however, he left his home and, while wandering through the streets, came across a corpse. His reaction was so strong that he set about establishing the teaching that, as life is fundamentally suffering, the only thing to do is to escape into Nirvana, the state of extinction of self.

The young man was Guatama Buddha, whose beliefs are shared by millions of his followers, not only in India but around the world. His philosophy is a dramatic and tragic result of trying to protect oneself from the realities of life, one of which is suffering. The Christian faith is the opposite of that: it exposes us to the very heart of suffering - the cross. Then it takes that suffering, and turns it into salvation. This is why Christians should not be afraid to face the worst that can happen - because with God it can be turned into the best.

Prayer: Father, I am so thankful for the cross - what is my suffering compared to that? And even if I have to bear similar suffering, I know that out of it will come to me what came to You - a resurrection. Blessed be Your Name forever. Amen.


The Best Out of the Worst
For reading & meditation - 1 Peter 2:11-25"Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God ..." (v. 12)

Yesterday we said that the first attitude we should adopt toward unmerited suffering is to accept that it is bound to come. Sin has unbalanced the universe, and suffering is one of the inevitable results. To deny this is to deny reality, and the denial of reality is the denial of life.

Arising out of this comes our second principle: God is able to turn all suffering to good and glorious ends. J. B. Phillips translates today's verse: "... 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."

Note the phrase, "when disasters come." They are bound to come to everyone - it's foolish to think that, just because we are Christians, we are exempt. We are part of a universe that has been unbalanced by sin, part of a mortal, decaying world.

However, though we may fall victims to life's disasters, we are able, through the redemptive purposes of God, to turn them into doors of opportunity and step through them into richer, more abundant living.

A woman who was converted from one of the cults said in a testimony meeting in her church: "They taught me that the first thing I should concern myself about is my happiness. You have taught me that the first thing is to 'belong.' That makes me feel safe." Since she was safe, her happiness was safe too. Others are baffled by life's tragedies. Only the cross has an answer. Out of the worst, Christ brings the best, and makes life's victims victorious.

Prayer: Father, the more I think about this, the more excited I get. You have given me such security. I can stand anything because I can use everything. Oh glory! Amen.


Not Comfort - But Character
For reading & meditation
Job 2:1-10 "... Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (v. 10)

We come today to one of the most difficult principles to understand in relation to suffering - but it must be grasped nevertheless. It is this - accept suffering as a gift from God.

This principle flows out of today's verse - a verse which one commentator describes as "the most profound verse in the Bible." It is obvious from reading this passage that Job's God is not a celestial Being who sits on the parapets of heaven, dropping nice little gifts into the laps of His children, at the same time saying, "There, that will make you happy; that will surely please you."

There is much more to God than that. The God of the Bible dispenses the things that bring most glory to His Name. If, in achieving glory, He sees that suffering is the best means to that end, then that is what He will give. So mark this well - God is not under an obligation to make you comfortable.

Can you see the truth that is contained in the words of our text today? "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (NASB).

You are ready to accept good, but are you just as ready to accept adversity? You see, God's goal is not our comfort, but our character. That is why it is wrong to tell a non- Christian, "Trust God, and your troubles will all be over."

It's unfair, dishonest, and downright unbiblical. In fact, becoming a Christian may mean that you will have more troubles than before. And why? Because character is formed in the furnace of affliction - no suffering, no character.

Father, if ever I needed Your help I need it now. It's easy for me to accept good from Your hand; help me also to accept adversity. Etch these words, not merely into my mind, but into my spirit. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.


The Agony of God
For reading & meditation - Isaiah 53
"... he ... carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted." (v. 4)

Dr. E. Stanley Jones said: "Christianity is the only religion that dares ask its followers to accept suffering as a gift from God, because it is the only religion that dares say God too has suffered."

Surely it must mean something to us, as Christians, to know that though living in this world is costing us pain, it is costing God more. But how much has God suffered? Some Christians think that the full extent of God's sufferings were the hours in which He watched His Son die upon the cross, but it means much more than that.

The Bible tells us that Christ was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8, KJV). That means that there was a cross set up in the heart of God long before there was a cross set up on the hill of Calvary. God's sufferings began at the moment He planned the universe, and tugged at His heartstrings from the moment that He laid the foundations of the world.

The pain of the cross must have pierced right through Him as He waited for that awful moment when His Son would die on Calvary. How long did He wait? Centuries? Millennia!

Then finally it came - the awful screaming agony of crucifixion. Was this the end? No. Now His sufferings continue in the world's rejection of His Son, and in the indifference of His children. So doesn?t it mean something, even everything, to know that, though living in this world is costing us pain, it is costing God more? I find this thought deeply comforting. I pray that you will too.

Father, I realize that now I am looking into the heart of the deepest mystery of the universe - Your sacrificial love. Help me to understand this fully, for when I see this I see everything. Amen.


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.


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


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.


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


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.