Friday, August 31, 2007

Devotions 31-08-07

Philemon 15-16
For perhaps he (Onesimus) was for this reason parted from you for a while, that you should have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

The reason Onesimus left Philemon was that he did not want to be a slave and ran away, which was a serious thing in those days. Yet, in God's sovereign plan Onesimus met Paul and became a believer. Now Paul is sending him back to work for Philemon not just as a slave but now a brother in Christ.

What stands out to me in this account is the eternal perspective Paul has and is explaining to Philemon. He escaped from being a slave but he did so in order to become a believer. I am sure he went through some tough situations but it was worth all the pain for what God had in store for him.

So what do I learn from this? There are things that happen in my life and in the life of others that seems to be bad and filled with problems. Yet, God has a purpose that is beneficial to everyone because He is the blessed controller of all things. He is God Almighty the Sovereign Lord of all. Lord, help me to maintain this perspective as I go through life and as I seek to help others in their lives.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Devotions 30-08-07

Philemon 4-7
I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, because I hear of your love, and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all the saints; and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake. For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.

There is so much to learn from Paul the great bible teacher and christian leader who is ministering to Philemon one of his disciples. Of all things I must do for those I am seeking to help is to pray for them. Second is to stay in contact with them and to encourage them. Third he prays that the fellowship of his faith would be effective. This would be those people who are around him and they are encouraging each other in their faith. Fourth this faith is from the knowledge of every good thing which is in him because of Christ. The concern for the effectiveness of the fellowship of faith is for Christ sake and for His glory.

Then Paul expresses how Philemon has brought such joy and comfort to him because the hearts of others or being refreshed or encouraged. That is what our faith is all about. Not how we are doing but how are we reaching others and they are growing in their faith. True we must begin by helping others to walk with God and to live the life of faith but they must move beyond this and share their faith and knowledge of God to those they love and care about.This is the commission the Lord Jesus gave to his disciples and to us. Go to the world and make disciples.

Lord, I thank you for Sid my father in the faith that taught me the importance of reaching out to others. There have been others that have been my teachers and counsellors. There is Jack who helped me so much when I was in Germany along with Dave. Later Skip became such a vital part in me leaving my military career to be a missionary for Christ. Lord, you used these men and others who took a personal interest in what I was doing and encouraged me to trust You completely and be available to others . Lord, help me to effectively teach others what You have taught me through Your godly servants.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Devotions 29-08-07

Philemon 10-14

I appeal to you for my child whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, Onesimus, who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me. And I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, whom I wished to keep with me, that in your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel; but without your consent I did not want to do anything, that your goodness should not be as it were by compulsion but of your own free will.

I want to point out that Paul has a real heart for Onesimus as if he was his child. He also has a very meaningful relationship with Philemon whom he had a significant ministry in his life as well. Both of these men trusted Paul because they knew that he loved them and had their best interest on his heart. This is what discipleship is all about. It is not about recruiting people to help me in my ministry but it is investing in people who will do the ministry you have trained them to do. This training is done in love and intense dynamic relationships.

The book of Philemon is about one man, Paul, writing to one man, Philemon, about one man, Onesimus. It is written to communicate the value of one person and the time that was invested in him to build a deep and effective relationship with God. Paul was able to do this because he had a deep and effective personal relationship with God. I can not teach others effectively what I am not doing.

Lord, thank you for Sid and his investment in my life. He loved me and shared his life with me. I know he prayed so faithfully for me and was always available to me. He lived what he taught me and was a model of a godly man who sought to honor the Lord with his life. This month he went to be with God, his Savior and Lord. He was a precious man to me who I loved and admired. Lord, help me to have a love for the lost that Sid had always telling others about Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Devotions 28-08-07

Titus 2:15
These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

I was unable to say much about this verse yesterday and wanted to comment on this a little. The apostle Paul was writing to his disciple Titus and was urging him to take what he,Paul, had written to him and to share it with others. He said not only speak to others but you may have to exhort some that this is really important and they need to do something about it. There might also be others that need to be reproved or sternly encouraged that this vital information is important to the world. Do not hesitate but go and share these truths with others.

I was puzzled for awhile as to what the last sentence is saying. How does one do this. How would I "let no one disregard me"? For sure it is not by force or by some deceptive means so how do I do this. How could I share important information and be sure that others would listen to me?

I think it is in the presentation of the one speaking. I must pray and work hard to present this important information in such a way that it is interesting and so applicable to them that they would not think of not listening to what I have to say. I am afraid that many Christians do not think through on their message from God enough to capture the ears, minds and hearts of those they are trying to reach.

Lord, forgive me for not working harder at presenting the truths you have entrusted to me to share with others. I must be creative and realize the importance of what I must share with others. Help me as I meditate on this passage to gain the full meaning of how it should apply to my life. I am confident that there are some rich truths that I need to understand and make application to my life.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Devotions 27-08-07

Titus 2:11-15
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Paul gave this word to his disciple Titus but it is still so applicable to me today. The great grace of God has been revealed and it has brought us such a wonderful deliverance from our sin nature and our proneness to sin. It gives me the power to turn from worldly desires and to live a life that is reasonable. It also gives me the strength to live righteously and godly in spite of all the sin going on around me.

I am not trapped in this evil world because Jesus is coming again. Paul urges me to look expectantly toward the second appearing of my great God and Savior Jesus Christ. He has bought me freedom from every lawless deed and has made me pure to be a person of His own possession, able to do good things. I am to speak and encourage and correct with the authority of God. I have an important message given to me by God and I must be faithful to share it others.

What wonderful thoughts to ponder and to grasp the rich truths that are for me and for all who love Jesus Christ. I memorized some of these verses many years ago but in the whole sentence there is such comfort and joy and hope. Lord, thank You for refreshing me again with the truth of what You have done for me and anyone who would receive Your great Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Lord help me to meditate on this passage today as I do the tasks You have for me to do.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Devotions 24-08-07

Titus 1:8-9
An overseer of God's ministry must have the following values in their lives as a good steward of God. "He must be hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching...."

A good steward of God must be one willing to share his home with others that are around him or stranger passing through. There is a generosity and kindness in being hospitable to others. He must be one who loves what is good. He does not allow evil to influence him or lessen his standard of loving what is good. He must be sensible and easy to reason with and provides stability with those he is around. He must be just and is not partial to anyone but does what is right in every situation. He must be a person who is devoted to the Lord and is devout in honoring God in all he does. He must exercise self-control in the whole of life. He must be an example of self-control and encourage others in having self-control.

Last of all God's steward must have a good grip on the faithful Word of God just as he has been taught. He must teach it's truths faithfully and be able to correct others from the Word when they are opposing the truth. He is someone who can skillfully use God's Word to guide others to God and rebuke those who are opposing God and His values.

The last of the seven I would say is maybe the most important. As a steward of God I must be able to handle the Word of God with skill. I must live what I am teaching and teach what I am living. I must have the courage and the skill to oppose those who are not living or teaching the scriptures correctly. Lord, how often I fail in all of this myself and I am an overseer as one of God's stewards. Lord grant me the humility to admit my errors and the strength to do what is right and honoring to You.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Devotions 21-08-07

Titus 1:7
There are five things an overseer must not do as a steward of God; not self-willed , not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, and not fond of sordid gain.

I had to begin with the dictionary to get some of these words clarified in my own mind. Self-willed is someone who does not yield to the wishes of others. He is not reasonable to deal with. Of course a quick-tempered person is one who has no control over his emotions. He is angered easily. Someone who is addicted to wine is allowing himself to be controlled by his desires. We should not be addicted to anything. A pugnacious person is a belligerent person. He is inclined to be assertive and hostile to others. Last of all fond of sordid gain is to enjoy evil gain.

So how am I doing in these areas of life? Am I a reasonable person to deal with and do others enjoy working with me. Am I a slow tempered person who has control over my emotions? Am I free of any sort of addiction? Am I willing to follow others and not have to be the leader or do I function well as part of a team? And last of all do I seek only for honest gain and turn away from any sort of evil gain?

I do think I am free of these negative things but I want to be always alert to these evils that would disqualify me from being a good steward of what God gives to me. It is not only that I stay away from the bad but I should be doing good and I will look at those tomorrow. Lord, help me not to just know what I should not do but that I purpose that these evils must not be a part of my life or character.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Devotions 20-08-07

Titus 1:7-9
"For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict."

There are five things an overseer for God must not do. 1, not self-willed 2. not quick tempered 3. not addicted to wine 4 not pugnacious and 5 not fond of sordid gain.

There are seven things an overseer must do. hospitable 2. love what is good 3. be sensible 4. be just 5. be devout 6. be self-controlled 7. hold fast the faithful word of God.

This Word of God is what has been taught me and I must use it in teaching others. I must use it to exhort people in sound doctrine or teaching and to explain clearly what is wrong with the teachings that contradict the truth of God.

I want to mull over this passage today and tomorrow seek to get a better grip on the five things an overseer for God must not do. The following day I will seek to understand more fully the seven things an overseer of God must do. I hope to get a better handle on holding fast to the faithful Word of God that I must use to exhort others and to refute those who contradict the truth of God. Lord help me to grasp these truths so I might be an overseer who is above reproach. I want to honor You Lord as my King and Lord.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Devotions 17-08-07

II Timothy 4:5-7
"But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, have finished the course, I have kept the faith;"

I see there are four things I should be doing. 1. I need to be sober in all things. So I should take seriously the things God has given me because they are important. I must be careful that I do not overemphasize this but to make this an important part of prayer. 2. I must be prepared to endure difficult situations. Life is full of hardships and I must be a good soldier of the cross and be able to persevere through these hard situations. 3. I need to be alert to share the good news of Jesus Christ at every opportunity. I may not be an evangelist but the news of Jesus must be proclaimed by all believers as much as we have opportunity. 4. I need to fulfil the ministry God has given me. We each have a special work God has given us and we should keep that ministry in focus. My ministry is personal discipling and I must be faithful to His calling for me.

When I reach the end of the trail for my life I want to be able to say I have fought the good fight and I have finished the course and I have kept the faith. I am in a spiritual battle and I want to fight the battle faithfully as God gives me strength. I want to finish the things God has laid out for me to do. I do not want to quit but to finish His work for me. Last of all I must do all this by faith; without faith I cannot please God (Heb 11:6).

Lord, I am grateful for all You have done for me and I want to be serious about the life You have given me. I do not want to over emphaize my work and become a workaholic but neither do I want to take this privilege lightly. Lord help me to be a man of faith and to live before my family and those who know me that I do seek to trust You in everything in my life. Lord, bring honor to Your name as I fight this good fight to be a man of faith.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Devotions 16-08-07

II Timothy 4:1-2
"I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom; preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction."

There is much that is ahead of us and Paul is urging us to do the following: Preach the word and be ready to do it at anytime. There is a lot of correcting that must be done and we must have the courage to do it and the knowledge to do it. It is to be done with a whole lot of patience and with clear instructions. I cannot be a weak Christian but must be strong in the faith and have a close relationship with God.

Paul said this was a solemn charge so he is very serious about what he is saying. He adds that God is in our presence and also His Son Jesus Christ who is the judge of everyone. He will soon be appearing and will establish His eternal Kingdom. Do not allow the world to weaken our conviction in the truths of God.

Lord, I do take seriously what Paul has warned me about. Help me to be diligent in my faith and in my obedience to Your word. I must meditate over these truths and allow them to grip my heart and soul. I do want to warn others and especially my own family. Lord give me strength and wisdom in the remaining months we have in Estonia before we leave. Lord help me to fulfill the ministry that You sent me here to accomplish. I give You all the praise.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Devotions 15-08-07

II Timothy 2:24-25

"And the Lord's bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of truth..."

This is describing what the servant of the Lord should look like and how he should respond to those who oppose him. I think there are two things that stand out to me. One is to be patient when wronged. It is so easy to react in the wrong way and show the person wronging you why they are wrong and get into a quarrel and both say things you may later regret. The second issue is I must be gentle to those who are opposing me and trust God to use my love and kindness to cause them to consider what I might say. I must allow the Lord do the convincing and not try to take this responsibility on myself.

Lord, I have not done this on many ocassions and I must consider what I should do to correct this. I want to go back and ask forgiveness for my lack of patience and gentleness. I was to harsh in my response and damaged my relationship to some very dear folks. I also want to learn from this because my brother Don has some of these issues and I do not want to respond to him incorrectly. Thank You Lord for showing me how I ought to respond to those who oppose me and see things differently than what I see. I need spiritual discernment to know how to correct
and lead people to the truth. In the end it is You Lord that must do the convincing. I want to be a bondservant of Yours that honors You in my conduct and the way I minister Your Word.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Devotions 14-08-07

II Timothy 2:15
"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth."

Paul instructs me to work hard as a workman of God so I will not be ashamed of the work I am seeking to do for the Lord. My basic instrument is the Word of Truth. One translation says I should rightly divide the word of truth.

It is clear that I have a responsibility to do my best for God. I have a choice in being ashamed of what I do or I can do my best and that is all God wants from me. The important item is how I handle His precious word of truth. It is so mishandled in the world and many are confused as to what it says because they do not work at it and make it a lifetime goal to know it well.

So I must ask myself as to how I am handling God's precious Word of Truth? Am I working my very best to know it and to present what it says to others accurately and wisely?

I think an important part in handling it is am I living it out in my life? I am working hard to do that but I have not arrived. I keep seeking to obey God's Word in all I do. I must not be afraid to say I can not explain everything clearly. I do know clearly and with great conviction who God is and what He expects of me. Lord, I need Your Grace to do the work You have called me to do. You know how weak I am and how I struggle with my limitations. I love You Lord!!!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Devotions 10-08-07

I Timothy 6:11-12
"...... pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith...."

God is telling me to pursue qualities of the Christain faith. They do not just happen nor should I just consider them but I am to run after them and to chase them as long as I live. These are important qualities that God knows I must have to be all that God wants me to be.

Righteousness is doing what is right according to God's Word . Godliness is having the character of God in my own character. Faith is trusting God and believing all that He has promised me. Love is thinking more of others than I do of my self. Perseverance is steadfastness or endurance. Never quitting or giving up no matter how difficult situations may be. Gentleness is being patient and helping others as they seek to know God and to obey Him.

The christian life is all about Faith. Trusting and believing God to do what He has said and promised. It is a struggle or a fight against all the evil and distractions that want me to lose my faith and begin to doubt. It is truth that is worth fighting for and it is a good fight.

Lord, help me in my fight to grow in Faith. I do not want to just maintain my faith but to grow more in faith each day I live. Give me the strength to fight the lies and doubts that the world is giving to me each and every day I live. Lord, You alone are the Sovereign of the world. You alone are King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Devotions 09-08-07

I Timothy 6:1-2
Let all who are under the yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine may not be spoken against. And let those who have believers as their masters not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but let them serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.

When I am working for someone I should honor them so the name of God and the truths of God will not be spoken against. When I have a believer as a boss I must not disrespect him but serve him all the more because those who will be blessed by my boss are my brothers and loved by God. I must teach and preach these principles to others.

It is interesting that God makes a special note of how I should treat those believers over me. You would think that people would naturally want to do this but in reality the opposite is true. Because of our sinful nature we often expect more ease when working for a believer than an unbeliever. We should do our best at all times but when I am working for a believer I should want to do a little extra because he is my brother in Christ. I want to help him to be successful because when he excels then he will bring honor to the Lord as well.

I have sought to do this all my life but I realize this morning that I need to evaluate more regularly how I am doing to make sure I have not slipped. Am I doing this for those I am responsible to and do they see my work as one of excellence. I know I can improve and I do realize that I have slipped in some issues over time. I also need to be more faithful in teaching others to do their work with excellence. I have not honored my donors as I ought because of my lack of communications. Lord, help me to correct this quickly.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Devotions 06-08-07

I Timothy 4:16
Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

My general problem is that I think of my self to much as to what I want or what I think I need or how I am being treated. I am by nature very selfish and the scriptures teach me that I need to die to self and my selfish cravings. My focus should be on God and His greatness and how I can help the needy of the world because of the goodness of God to me and my family.

But in this case God wants me to pay close attention to what I am teaching and that I carefully do what I am saying. He urges me to persevere or to stay at it without quitting because it will enable me to live what I teach and to communicate with passion what I teach. I am unable to teach the scriptures with passion if I am not wholly living what I believer to be true.

This salvation is not deliverance from my sin nature which I received when I asked Jesus to be my savior. This is the deliverance from the sin that is all around me and causes me to stumble when I am not walking close to my Lord. God's Word will keep me from sin or sin will keep me from God's Word. This salvation or deliverance is achieved by persevering in obeying God's Word, not in the letter but in the Spirit in which God gave it to us.

I need as much prayer as anyone in making this truth a vital part of my life. It requires time and determination along with humble and regular prayer to be able to follow consistently what God tells us to do in His Word. I may have to cut back in ministry or in fellowship in order to keep myself in check so I do not move outside the will of God for my life. There is no shortcut to living what God urges me to do even when I know the scriptures and can teach them so convincingly.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Devotions 02-08-07

I Timothy 2:8

Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

So God wants men everywhere to pray. Not only to pray but to pray in a certain way and with certain guidelines. I think it is sometimes hard for men to pray period. Men are always wanting to do things and to many, and I include myself, at times feel they should be doing something more important. The truth is there is generally nothing more important. God wants us to pray so we should make that a priority.

First I need to pray with holy hands. I need to pray with my sins confessed and having nothing against anyone nor knowing that someone is upset with me and we have not talked. I must come before God wanting His will and willing to do His will. Second I must not be angry with anyone but to be at peace with everyone I know. My spirit must not be troubled by any unsettled issues with anyone. Third I must not have a strong angry disagreement with anyone which is partisan and leads to contention and quarreling. I can not pray to a Holy God when these issues are in my mind, soul or spirit.

Maybe this is why men find it hard to pray. Many times I find it hard to meet the qualifications or take the time to insure these issues are not present in my life. I can also at times forget to consider these issues and pray but find that my praying is not effective.

Lord, help me as I pray this morning to pray with holy hands and not have any angry toward anyone or disagreements that would lead me to quarrel with anyone. I want to pray for Your will to be done and that I would be available to serve You in any way that I can. Most of all, Lord, I want to pray so You may move and act in the world in which I am in so You are glorified and Your work is accomplished among all people. I am so grateful that You hear and answer our prayers.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Devotions 01-08-07

I Timothy 1:5
But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

The Apostle Paul was telling his young disciple, Timothy, what he was wanting to accomplish as he was working with people in the ministry. He saw three things that he wanted to be sure and teach others. 1. He wanted people to love others from a pure heart. Love others with no other motives other than to help them to know and trust God. 2. That everyone would have a good consicence about everything they do. They would not be deceiving,taking advantage of anyone or seeking for personal gain in the process of teaching and helping others. 3. That everyone would have a genuine or sincere faith in God and their faith in Jesus would draw others into a trust in Jesus that would forever change their lives. This was Paul's goal in the ministry God had given him.

I memorized this verse some 40+year ago and have wanted to do this as well in my life and ministry. I am grateful for the ministry the Lord has graciously given me over the years. I pray I would continue to do this and seek to do it more fervently in the years I have left in ministry. Lord, help Piret, Stella and Robert to learn these truths in their lives as they minister to others.