Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Strength Out of Weakness

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.  (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

"It is not our littleness that hinders Christ; but our bigness. It is not our weakness that hinders Christ; it is our strength. It is not our darkness that hinders Christ; it is our supposed light that holds back His hand."  Charles H. Spurgeon
Surprisingly, we Christians sometime develop the wrong idea about who needs what.  Don’t misunderstand.  Certainly, we should obey God’s commands, we ought to take seriously the work God has given us to take the gospel to all people, everywhere, and surely we ought to be involved in doing good in this world so full of things that are bad.  We ought to make a positive difference.
The trouble is that we sometimes get the idea that God can’t get along very well without us.  We develop the attitude that it is through our strength, our ingenuity, our talents and effort that great things are done.  Actually, while we should offer Him all of these, our offering is really pretty puny.
Charles Spurgeon understood something about God’s greatness.  It works best when we don’t hamper it by getting our puny little selves in God’s way.  In fact, we end up accomplishing more and better things when we allow God to work in and through us.
When you think about all the great things that God has done throughout man’s history, you’ve got to be impressed with how He used the least expected resources.  Take the nation of Israel.  Compared to other nations, it never was really much at all, yet God used Israel to bring the Messiah into the world.
Getting more specific, who would have picked an isolated shepherd, keeping a flock out in the middle of nowhere, to be the guy to lead God’s people out of Egypt?  Yet that’s exactly what Moses was at the time he was called.  King David was just a young man, probably rather small, yet he took on the giant Goliath when Israel’s army shook in fear of him.  And, who really, expected a handful of Galileans–former tax collectors, ex-revolutionaries, and fishermen–to change the world?  No, you just have to stand back and be amazed at how God has chosen to do things.  He picks the weaknesses in humans and turns those weaknesses into great accomplishments, all to display His own power and might.
The question for us, though, is how to get out of God’s way.  It’s not always clear.  God certainly can and will use us for His purposes.  What isn’t so clear is when we are effective tools and when we are a hindrance to what God wants to do.  Perhaps the answer is to keep recognizing that it doesn’t depend on us.  Maybe the concern is one of our faith in God.  When we realize that it’s not our strength that matters, but God’s, then we’re ready to become as useful as possible in God’s hands.  It doesn’t mean we should sit down and refuse to act.  It means that we act with the knowledge that God will use us.
That, by the way, is really the only way you’ll ever take on things that look bigger than you, and sooner or later, you’ll run into a few of those.  When you do, let God make you strong. 
Scripture to Claim:
"And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Psalm 19

Psalm 19:7-11
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are
    radiant, giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
New International Version (NIV)

This passage is everything we need to know in a nutshell!  God has given us His word, the Bible, which is His perfect law: 
·             It is trustworthy, good, and simple.  
·             Its precepts, or directions, are right and bring joy to the heart – especially a heart burdened with the weight of sin and the desire to be rid of it.
·             The Lord’s commands are enlightening.  They open the eyes of the blind and help the confused and those blinded by sin to see the way, to turn back to the Lord.
·             The fear of the Lord – true Godliness – is pure, clean and it will cleanse us.  It lasts forever, never running out.
·             The laws of the Lord are firm, never wavering or changing. There is no unrighteousness in them at all.
·             More precious than Gold – a precious metal – and sweeter than honey.  Honey is sweet; but honey just out of the comb has a sweetness, richness and flavor, far beyond what it has after it becomes exposed to the air. Only those who have eaten of honey from the comb can feel the force of the psalmist's comparison: it is better than gold, yea, than fine gold in the greatest quantity; it is sweeter than honey, yea, than honey from the comb. –Adam Clarke Commentary
·             The reward is in following God, living a life pleasing to Him and lining your life up with His word. 
If we use it like we are supposed to and spend time with God every day in His word and prayer, we will be changed for the better.  The Bible is a tool, an instruction manual, and its worth is more valuable than anything in the world.  Focus on this passage today and think about all the good things God gave us when he gave us the Bible.   

Monday, September 28, 2015

Incoming! Flaming Arrows!

…in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Ephesians 6:16

As Christians, we all know we belong to God.  In knowing that we belong to God we can understand that His enemy, the devil, will always be on the prowl, looking for hostages and prisoners of war.  There is a very real war going on between good and evil, and the enemy is looking to take you out in any way possible.  He is a cunning and sly adversary, watching and studying his prey carefully.  He knows how we operate and what our weaknesses are.  Just like the military of the New Testament, He always has his flaming arrows ready to launch. 
There were three types of arrows used by the military of New Testament times. First, there were plain arrows that were similar to the arrows that one would shoot from a bow today. Next, there were arrows that were dipped into tar, set on fire, and then shot through the air. Last, there were arrows that contained combustible fluids that burst into flames upon impacts. Fire-bearing arrows were reserved to inflict damage upon a fortified place; an encampment. If an army had fortified its position so that the enemy could not easily break in to destroy it, then the enemy would revert to using the long deadly arrows of fire. (Rick Renner, "The Shield of Faith," Dressed to Kill, 229).
A Chink in the Armor
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Ephesians 6:10-16
Paul warns us about the devil and his war on Christians in Ephesians.  He advises us to be strong in the Lord and put on the full armor of God to defend against Satan and his wiles.  It is a war we cannot see with our eyes but it is very real. 
The devil is sneaky and knows how to break us down.  He knows what will make us stumble and where we are the weakest.  He will send his flaming arrows straight at us and he will aim for the chinks in our armor.  Arrows are small and can stick in between the large parts of our armor that protect the bulk of our being.  Flaming arrows only need a little opening and once the flame gets in it can ignite an inferno.  Nothing makes Satan happier than to see a Christian fall. 
The shield of faith can quench the flaming arrows of Satan.  It his flaming arrow strikes the shield of faith and sticks there, the fire will just burn out.  It will be quenched instead of catching us on fire.  Thus the fire would not spread. Really what this means is that whatever your flaming arrow is that can bring you down – it may be drugs, pornography, alcohol, lust, anger, whatever it is - cannot get in. If you let it, it can take over your thinking, emotions, mind, and spirit.  It can be like a fire out of control so we must be vigilant with our shields and deflect every flaming arrow the devil sends our way. The rest of the armor stays in one place but the shield moves to confront the arrows.  The shield of faith – our faith – moves to where the attack is.  Be vigilant.
Scripture to Claim:
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
2 Corinthians 10:3-4

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