Monday, December 31, 2007

Devotions 31-12-07 (Eph 4:32)

"And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."

Today is the last day of 2007. Tomorrow will begin a brand new year and I think the above verse is good to end things with and a great way to begin a new year. The context of this verse makes it even more dynamic. Read Eph 4:25-32 to get the real impact of what God is saying.

There are three things I must do and one thing I must never forget. I am to be kind to others and that means to do whatever I can to help them and to encourage them. I am to be tender hearted to others and that means I must think with my heart and not just with my head. I must seek to understand how their heart is feeling and help or encourage them in their emotional condition. Last of all I must forgive others and not hold grudges or be bitter or any number of responses I could have but they will not work.

What I am to remember is that Christ has done all of this for me and I am His child and His servant. I want to honor Him just as he has honored me with such kindness, tender heartedness and most of all forgiveness of all my sin and selfishness. I must review daily all that Christ has done for me so I might be kind and tender hearted to others. The hardest is to be forgiving to others as Christ has forgiven me. Yet, this is the most wonderful part of walking with God is that I carry no grudges or bitterness toward anyone and this gives me freedom that Christ came to give me.

Pray for me as I seek to apply this truth to my life in the days and years ahead.

I want to thank the Lord for His grace and mercy to me this past year and these 7+ years we have been living in Estonia. We return to the USA this coming year and begin a new life again and seek to serve our Lord closer to our family and loved ones the remaining years of our lives. I turn 75 in 2008 and Mary Lou is a few years behind me. God has been so gracious to use us in the lives of some very special Estonians that have become part of our lives like family.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Devotions 28-12-07 (Eph 4:29)

"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear."

What unwholesome words do I allow to come out of my mouth? I can not blame others for what I say no matter what they do. God says to me do not speak words that are unwholesome. In fact He tells me the kind of words that I should be saying.

I just realized that God does not say watch your words but watch each word that you speak. No word is to be unwholesome but each word is to build up others and not tear them down. Each word should be appropriate for that moment in time. This gives me the responsibility to think carefully before I speak. Each word I use should give grace to those who hear it.

It is important what I say and each word that I use. God does not want me to be a man of many words but the few I use should be according to His desire and according to His plan. Lord give me the grace to speak carefully and with wisdom that I do not hurt or offend but that I would be able to encourage and help others in what they are struggling with. Help me as I meditate on what You have said that I may understand how I can apply this to my life.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Devotions 27-12-07 (Eph 4:25)

"Therefore, laying aside false hood, speak Truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another."

This is such a simple statement and yet how very powerful it is. Do not lie or give false information, speak Truth. Do this with everyone but especially someone close to you, like a neighbor or someone in your church or fellowship or especially a family member.

Why is this so important? If I am not honest with those who are close to me then it will become a part of my character and this will in the end destroy me. Why is this so hard? It is very humbling to admit to someone that you care about that you have lied to them. I know it will take a long time to rebuild that trust. I hate it when I am not honest with some one whom I respect and want to respected by.

This should be one of the marks of a true believer in Christ. The world is filled with lies and deceit because satan is the prince of this world and he is the author of lies and deceit. It is so sad when believers can not be trusted because they have allowed satan to corrupt their morals.

Lord, give me the strength to be truthful in all I do or say. Help me to be ever so careful in this very vital truth. Jesus said that He was the Way the Truth and the Life. I must keep my focus on Jesus if I want to lay aside falsehood and to speak Truth. Lord in this New Year may I find Your strength to be more careful than I have ever before to be a man of Truth.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Devotions 21-12-07 (Eph 4:14-16)

"As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love."

We discussed the above passage in our bible study this morning and were challenged to do our part in making this true in our lives and in the life of the fellowship we are committed to.

First I must not be a spiritual child but grow up and take responsibility in how I serve my Lord. I must seek to be a maturing believer and do my part to see the body of Christ to grow.

I must seek to speak the truth in love and not in arrogance or pride but in humility and in a caring attitude. I must follow my Lord and King because He is the One directing the whole growth of His body.

He is concerned for us as individuals but also as a body of believers. All of this must be done in love in order for it to have any real and true value. I Cor 13 is very clear that if I do anything with out love it is worthless and accomplishes nothing.

So how do I do this? In a real sense I cannot; only by the power of Christ in me am I be able to do anything. I am not a lone ranger but I need my fellow believers in order to bring honor to my Lord and King. I must help individuals in their personal growth and yet together with others we must impact the world around us with the good news of Jesus Christ. What a wonderful time of the year to share this message of Jesus coming to earth to reveal to us God's love and sacrifice for each one of us. The Lord Jesus in the crib in Bethlehem is the same Lord Jesus that went to the cross outside Jerusalem. Thank You God for Your great gift to the world for our deliverance and freedom from sin and evil.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Devotions 19-12-07 (John 19)

The story of Jesus being condemened to die and his crucifixion. It is just the closing end of my reading the New Testament through this year. I also must read the The Revelation to John before the last day of 2007. As I was reading this today I thought about the Christmas season and just six days until Christmas day.

Yet the coming of Jesus as a babe in Bethlehem will end in just about 33 years with the cross outside of Jerusalem. Jesus life and death and resurrection is the reason He came as a babe. What a glorious Christmas gift. The gift to all the world from a loving God.

What should I learn from all this? Maybe there are more important things going on in my world that I need to pay attention to rather than the big news of the day. I need to be more aware of what God is doing in the lives of people rather than the political and economic events of the day. What is the Spirit of God laying on my heart for me to do?

Lord, thank You for all You have done for everyone throughout the ages. Thank You for Jesus coming but most of all for His life, death and resurrection. Lord, help me to not forget all You have done for me as I enjoy the peace and joy there is during the Christmas season. Help me to remember each day the total gift you gave and not just the babe in Bethlehem.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Devotions 10-12-07 (Eph 4:11-13)

"And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ."

There is so much in these few verses but I am going to focus on the objective of what the leaders are suppose to be doing and their results. Not their individual jobs but who they are seeking to help and equip. Verse 12 "for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;..." It is the saints who are suppose to be doing the work of service and not the leaders.

Yet in another sense both the leaders and the saints are to be building up the body of Christ and seeing unity and faith produced. We are all students of our Lord and He is the One who is enabling us all to do our part in building up the body of Christ and His glorious Kingdom.

Lord thank You for the privilege to be a light to the world around me and help me to fulfill Your task for me in seeing Your body built up in Estonia. I pray that my labor would multiply greatly in the lives of many Estonians after I leave this small but strategic country. Help me to use these last six months wisely and be focused on what I should be doing. Thank You for enabling the going away party for Ed to be successful. Lord use it in even a far greater way than I could ever imagine. Use it for Your glory and honor.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Devotions 07-12-07 (Eph 4:4-6)

"There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all."

There are seven one's listed above. The number seven is the number of completeness in the bible. To make the above list brief it would look like this: one body, one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father. It would take some days to think and meditate on each of these seven items listed.

Maybe the most obvious is where to begin. God is one and He wants us to be focused on one thing at a time. He has a great desire that we are one with Him and that we are one with each other.

Lord I have a lot to learn about what it means to be one with You and with others. I am still learning what it means to be one with my wife and sweetheart of nearly 50 years. Thank You for making it clear what is really important in life and what should be my focus. I need Your help to truly say, this one thing I do and I will do it well by Your grace.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Devotions 06-12-07 (Eph 4:1-3)

"I therefore the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Does this sound like an impossible task to you? It sure does to me! I am called to be humble, gentle with patience and showing a forbearing spirit to others in love and at the same time to be diligent to keep unity of the Spirit in the boundaries of peace. Surely only God could produce such relationships among sinners such as me. Yet it sounds so very wonderful that I know I must try my best with God's help even if I fail. Even if I come close to this it would be a wonderful experience.

I know the ways of God are the best ways and I must do my best to follow His ways. He has promised to be with me and to help me and I know that He can be trusted completely.

Lord, I am grateful for Your Word and Your wisdom. I know I will be most fulfilled and experience Your peace if I would only obey Your Word and follow Your instructions. Guide me in Prayer Lord that Your thoughts in these verses might burn in my heart as I bow before You now.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Devotions 05-12-07 (Eph 4:1-2)

"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love..."

I am urged to live my Christian life in a way that would bring honor and respect to my calling in the Lord Jesus. It is an honorable and wonderful calling to be called a child of God Almighty. He has paid a great price for my salvation and my new life in Jesus. I must seek to have or to receive the character God desires for me to possess; humility, gentleness, patience and loving forbearance.

It is amazing how quickly I can lose the resolve to live my life worthy of my calling in Jesus Christ and to give in to thoughts of the world and my temporal desires. I am learning more each day just how weak I am and how I need the awareness of His presence in me every moment of the day and night. I am gaining a new awareness of praying without ceasing and discussing all things in my life with my Lord throughout my waking hours.

Lord, I am grateful for Your indwelling presence in my life and I want to be ever more aware of how You want to lead me by Your Spirit. I need Your strength and wisdom in all I seek to do to honor You. Lord, guide my steps today and help me to live my life worthy of my calling in the Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Devotions 04-12-07 (Eph 3:19)

"and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God"

I want to revisit this verse again and make some more notes that I have thought about the last few days. How is the love of Christ greater than knowledge? What is the love of Christ?

I think the love of Christ is perfect love. He loved us even when we were so unlovable. He humbled Himself to be like us and served mankind as a servant. Then He allowed men to treat Him as a criminal and to bear the judgement of the Father against all sin. He went to the Cross to die for the sins of all mankind. That is the love of Christ!

So how do I gain the love of Christ. First I begin with the knowledge of what love is; that is pretty clear in I Corinthians 13. Then I must seek to live this truth in all my relationships. Last of all I live this truth when I am opposed and go through difficult trials yet I keep loving. This is the love of Christ that is far greater than any knowledge I may gain.

Am I willing to pay such a price for the love of Christ? I cannot unless I have an eternal perspective. Only then does it really make sense. It is not an easy path to follow and one that requires faith and courage. Yet it is the most glorious love that the world will ever know and I can be a part of it by faith in God.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Devotions 03-12-07 (Eph 3:17-19) that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God."

In studying chapter 3 of Ephesians one of my applications was on this love described in the above verses. I was challenged to make the love of God the foundation of my character. I must not forget that God's love in and through me is more important than anything I may know or do.

It is amazing how quickly this love and compassion can leave my being and is replaced by selfishness and concern for things or projects that crowds out the love of God from my life. I know that prayer is a major key to prevent this from happening. The above passage is in the context of a prayer that the apostle Paul is praying. This alone should help me to get my heart and spirit focused on prayer more than it is.

Lord, thank You for Your great and magnificent love which reaches out in every direction and must fill my total being. I truly want this to be in my life but I must spend more time in your presence in order for this to become a reality. Thank You for Your patience with me and the Love You show me so very richly. Lord protect me from being so selfish with Your love but I would be eager to give to others the Love you have shown me.