Friday, September 28, 2007

Devotions 28-09-07

Mark 3:14-15 (Again)

And He (Jesus) appointed twelve that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons.

I have been thinking on these verses more and feel I was not very exact in my conclusions that I wrote yesterday. I would like to try it again. I think there are three different issues that Jesus was dealing with concerning His disciples and not just two. 1. He wanted them to be with Him. 2. He wanted to send them out to preach. 3. He gave them authority to cast out demons. I did not list this as a separate item yesterday.

All three of these are important and I think we must grow in our ability to move up to the next level. I think each one demands more spiritual maturity and a closer walk with God. I know God is not bound to any steps of growth and can give us all three at once but I do not think this is the general case.

I think we each need to spend much time to be with Jesus. I do not think we every grow out of this and the more mature we become the more we are driven to spend time with our Lord. Our ministry is not in our own strength but it is in His. So we begin by spending time with Jesus and we never grow out of this vital need.

But the purpose of our time with Jesus is so we can know how to go to the lost world. That is why Jesus has left us in the world to reach those who we know and love and those in our sphere of influence. Even when we know what we should do we need His strength and wisdom in actually doing this work.

The third issue is having authority over the demons that are in our world to do evil and to inspire evil. God will give us this authority as we are faithful to Him and allow Him to work through us. This is serious warfare and demands serious commitment to the ways of God. I must be ever close to the Lord Jesus and submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct my life.

Lord, this is Your plan to reach the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. It was true when You were on earth and it is still true today. Lord, help me to pay close attention to Your Word and to obey it with all my heart. Continue to teach me every day how much time I must spend with You and in Your Word. Lord give me Your wisdom and strength as I speak of this tomorrow.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Devotions 27-09-07

Mark 3:14
He(Jesus) appointed twelve (whom He named apostles)that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out demons.

I am speaking at a one day conference this Sat and this is the main verse I am going to focus on. The conference is about small groups and I think this verse gives the core of what small groups should be about. The words in brackets are added in some early manuscripts. It does not change the meaning but it does broaden the text some.

There seems to be two main reasons why Jesus did this. 1. He wanted these men to be with Him so they would get to know Him and He would be able to train them. We sometimes refer to this as the "with Him principle". 2. The purpose in this time together is to equip them to be able to go and do what Jesus was doing. There is a world out there lost in their sins and some are being held captive by demons from satan, the leader of demons. They were being equipped to go into the world and do battle with the evil that was there.

Lord, I thank You for bringing men into my life who brought me into their small group and who took a personal interest in me to equip me to go into the world and do what they did for me. I thank You for all those individuals who You have given me to pour my life into so they might repeat what I have done with them. It all began with Jesus and it is still going on today. Praise the Lord!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Devotions 26-09-07

Hebrews 13:15-17
"Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of the lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you."

Praise and thanksgiving is such a vital part of our christian lives. When I become ungrateful and do not praise the Lord regularly I am in real trouble in my walk with God. This requires me to guard my life from busyness and trying to do more than I should.

God says that we must not neglect doing good and sharing with others. God is pleased when I make time and have time to do what is good and share with others.

I believe that is why God has given us leaders so we do not fail in the first two items I have mentioned. Leaders must set the example in these matters and urge those under them to follow a wholesome life as directed by the scriptures. I know this thought could be twisted to give some one too much authority over subordinates but the other extreme is also bad when I do not follow any one's authority and I am the authority of my own life.

How wonderful it is to be able to be under a godly person who is personally interested me and I have the freedom to submit to their godly leadership. I have gained so much over the years by being under such leadership.

Lord, help me to be the kind of leader that others would trust and find beneficial to their lives. It is a responsibility from God that I must handle carefully and prayerfully. Lord, thanks for the opportunity to be a leader for my family and those you have given to me in the process of ministry over the years. It is such a joy to see them successful in their walk with God and their ministry in depth to others.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Devotions 24-09-07

Hebrews 13:5-6
Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you" so that we confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid . what shall man do to me?"

My character is very important to God and it must be focused on His all sufficiency for me. So I must not let the love of money distract me from my confidence in God and I must be satisfied with what I have and not be envious of what others may have.

He has made it very clear that He will never desert me nor will He forsake me. He wants me to be confident that the Lord is my helper and I will not be afraid of what others might do to me. This confidence is so important in this day in which there is so much fear of terror and wickedness doing such evil. God will not leave me unguarded and will protect me until my work on earth is done. This gives me great confidence and freedom to be His servant in whatever He might ask me to do.

I love the verse in Prov 28:1 "The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are bold as a lion." This boldness comes from from my confidence in my God.

Lord, I want this confidence and boldness to be in my life. I know it is a matter of faith and believing what You have said is true. Thank You for reminding me today how important this is to have in my character. You are worthy of all my trust and faith.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Devotions 17-09-07

Mary Lou and I just returned from Roosta Village near Happsalu, Estonia for four days of rest and time with God in prayer and being in His Word. It was a very refreshing time and it was encouraging to us.

Before we left I was in Heb 4:14-16 and wrote in my blogg my thoughts concerning these verses. While in Roosta I spent a morning alone with the Lord and memorized these verses and did some meditating on them. I felt God gave me a refreshing time and I grasped a little deeper meaning of what God is saying to us here. I was out on the beach with the cool breeze blowing against me and I just praised the Lord for Jesus being my high priest. He knows all about how I feel and struggle with life and ministry and He is eager to give me mercy and grace when I come to Him.

Pray that I could follow through on what I have learned and it would be a bench mark for me in my time in prayer. I think there are three basic things I have grasped in a new way.

1. My high priest is Jesus the Son of God who has passed through the heavens. I must hold fast to that confession. I must not treat this truth lightly but let it forever grasp my soul and being. When I pray, I am not merely praying but coming before Jesus the Son of the living God who is my High Priest. What a privilege and what an honor and what a wonderful and comforting truth.

2. My high priest is not one who does not understand what I am going through but He know exactly how I feel. He has been here and done that yet with out sin. He knows all my temptations and my weaknesses and my limitations and He is available to help me through them all. Oh, that I could remember this and not complain about all I am facing and the struggle I may have.

3. I can be confident as I approach the great Throne of Grace that Jesus my High Priest will show me mercy and give me grace to accomplish the work He has for me in my life. Oh, how I need His mercy for all the foolish things I have done or failed to do. Equally as much I need His Grace (the desire and the strength) to do what I know He wants me to do.

Days go by so quickly but I know there is plenty of time to do His will. God is not in a rush but has time and eternity all planned out and I must rest in His perfect will for my life and those I love so dearly.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Devotions 07-09-07

Hebrews 4:14-16
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

Wow, I have a high priest who knows exactly how I feel. He has been tempted just like I have been or as I am currently. Yet He has gone through all this without sin. He is willing and eager to listen to me and to help me to overcome my temptations and not sin.

If I truly believe this I would have great confidence and run swiftly as often as I need His mercy and grace. I am so grateful that this throne is not a long ways away but it is only a prayer away. I can approach it at any time and in any circumstance.

Lord, I am grateful for this wonderful privilege and I must come to You more than do. I do need to have more confidence and not hesitate to come to You for all my needs. My needs are so great and I am so weak but You know all this. Thank You Lord for this reminder of what I must do and why I should come confidently to You for Your mercy and grace. I bow in awe of You and worship You and give You all my Praise.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Devotions 06-09-07

Prov 16:9
"The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Prov 24:6
"For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

There are many more verses on guidance and counsel in Proverbs but I have been reflecting on these two today. What are the truths in them?

The first one seems to be saying that a person plans what they want to do but how things go will depend on God. If a person violates God's laws in the process he will not succeed. He might for awhile but in the end things will not go well. A believer who makes wrong plans will not find the blessing of God on his plans. If his plans are what God wants him to do he will find God's blessing with him.

The second one is the same but said in a different way. If you are making plans to do something the more advice or opinions you can get the more information you have to make some good plans. Note that the guidance is from wise men and in the context they are godly men.

Why do people not follow God's counsel; pride or what? It is an important question to ask oneself.

I know I have made many plans in my life on my own without the guidance of people wiser than me and they have not turned out well. I see many others doing the same. I long to help others to avoid the pitfalls I have made in my life. I can give advice to others only if they see the need and want my advice. Lord, help me to be wise in any advice I might give. I truly want to give advice based on what You say in Your Word.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Devotions 05-09-07

Hebrews 4:12
"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of the soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

I remember from years ago how amazing I thought this verse from the bible was. To think that the bible is truly able to do all these things. It is not just another book of writings but it is living and active and God uses it like a doubled edged sword. It is able to do what a surgeon's knife is unable to do. It even divides the soul and the spirit and evaluates and judges the thoughts and intentions of my heart.

But it can not do this unless I pick up God's Word and spend time in it or place myself in the presence of someone teaching from it. I must make my life vulnerable to what God has written and allow the Spirit of God to use these truth in my whole being. Even in ministry I feel myself getting so busy doing good things that I do not spend time thinking and meditating on the truths God has in His Word.

Lord, I long to get my responsibilities out of the way and spend more time reading and meditating on what You have said. I must read, study, memorize, meditate and apply Your truths to my life. Life is so much richer when I make the time to do these things. But it is not only information in my head but the living out these truths before and with others. Lord, thank you for all You have done in my life and in the lives of others that You have brought into my life.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Devotions 04-09-07

Prov 18:1-2
"He who separates himself seeks his own desire, he quarrels against all sound wisdom. A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind."

A person who pulls away from others and will not work with others could be a proud person who is just seeking his own way. He is not wise because he is going against very basic wisdom. To succeed I need the advice and skill of others. None of us have all the knowledge we need for everything.

I can be very foolish if I do not seek to have good understanding with others. This understanding could be very beneficial to everyone and especially to me. If I am stuck on just sharing what I think then I am acting very foolishly.

Lord, I pray I could be careful to follow this counsel from Solomon and help me to teach others the value of following these wise sayings. They have been true over the centuries. God is the one who has given these and He knows what is best for me and everyone else. Lord give me wisdom and understanding in where I am today and the wisdom to follow Your ways.