Jesus

All That I Need

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There was a barrier keeping the young man in Mark 10:17-31 out of the kingdom:  his love of money.  Money represented his pride of accomplishment and self-effort.  Ironically, his attitude made him unable to keep the first commandment, to let nothing be more important than God.  This man came to Jesus wondering what he could do; he left seeing what he was unable to do.

Jesus said it was very difficult for the rich to get into the kingdom of God because the rich have most of their basic physical needs met and thus often become self-reliant.  When they feel empty, they can buy something new to dull the pain that was meant to drive them toward God.  Their abundance becomes their deficiency.  Jesus explained that in the world to come, the values of this world will be reversed.

Commentary from The One Year NIV Devotional NT, April 20, Tyndale House Publishers. 2003.

Destroyer

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Satan’s deceptive cunning is highlighted by Paul’s statement that he becomes an angel of light, disguising evil as good (2 Cor. 11:14).  His destructive ferocity comes out in the description of him as a roaring, devouring lion (1 Pet. 5:8) and as a dragon (Rev. 12:9).  As he was Christ’s sworn foe (Matt. 4:1-11; 16:23; Luke 4:13; John 14:30; cf. Luke 22:3, 53), so now he is the Christian’s, always probing for weaknesses, misdirecting strengths, and undermining faith, hope, and character (Luke 22:32; 2 Cor. 2:11; 11:3-15; Eph. 6:16).  He should be taken seriously, for malice and cunning make him fearsome; yet not so seriously as to provoke abject terror of him, for he is a beaten enemy.  Satan is stronger than we are, but Christ has triumphed over Satan (Matt. 12:29), and Christian’s will triumph over him too if they resist him with the resources that Christ supplies (Eph. 6:10-13; James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:9-10, 1 John 4:4).

Acknowledging Satan’s reality, taking his opposition seriously, noting his strategy (anything, provided it be not biblical Christianity), and reckoning on always being at war with him-this is not a lapse into a dualistic concept of two gods, one good, one evil, fighting it out.  Satan is a creature, superhuman but not divine; he has much knowledge and power, but he is neither omniscient nor omnipotent; he can move around in ways that humans cannot, but he is not omnipresent; and he is an already defeated rebel, having no more power than God allows him and being destined for the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).

Commentary from, Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer, page 70.

“Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present.  With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past.  But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity.  It is far better to make them live in the Future.”  The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis, page 76/chap. 15.

True Blue

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Ending Gossip in Our Life-follow up to, “Not Sometimes, But Always”, May 16, 2017.

Spreading rumors about other people exposes little about their true nature but reveals quite a lot about the speaker’s own character.  Such behavior shows a willingness to sin against the Lord by causing harm to someone else.  Until a gossiping believer confronts his sin, he can’t progress toward becoming the person God wants him to be.

Confession is the first step in dealing with sinful speech.  This should be followed by repentance-the pledge to turn away from opportunities to talk about others.  A useful scripture for a redeemed gossip to pray daily is Psalm 141:3:  “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

Next, be on guard against temptation.  Believers have a responsibility to set themselves apart from gossip in order to keep their thoughts and words pleasing to God.  Being in the presence of one who spreads stories can tempt us to participate.  In a situation where rumors are being shared, the best course of action is to speak out against the practice and then leave.

Finally, instead of talking about someone, it’s wise to pray for that person.  Getting into this habit will help train the mind to replace sinful patterns with God-pleasing ways.  The Bible teaches us to encourage and comfort each other, and prayer is a good way to obey that instruction 1 Thess. 5:11, 14).

A gossiping Christian dishonors God’s name-and his own.  Instead of using words that disparage and injure, choose to speak well of everyone.  In so doing, you will bring glory to the Lord.

Commentary from the In Touch Devotional by Charles Stanley, May 9, 2017.

Photo credit:  T. Link

I Hope to Meet You There

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Picture this:  A city shaped like a cube that covers the United States from the Atlantic coast to the middle of Kansas, and from Texas to the Canadian border-1,400 miles long, wide, and high.  It covers about two million square miles of land; but because it’s a cube with room for about 600 “floors”, all total it has 1.2 billion square miles of living space.  That’s the city the Bible calls the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2).

Sometimes people wonder whether there will be room in heaven for all the millions of believers destined to go there.  Based on the above dimensions, it would appear so!  The New Jerusalem is not heaven-it’s a city in heaven that will serve as the “capital” of heaven.  In it are the thrones of God and the Lamb, a river of the water of life, and the tree of life:  food, water, and Jesus Christ-everything needed to live forever.  The question is not whether there will be room in the New Jerusalem for everyone-there will be-but rather, will you be there?  Jesus has invited you to join Him there.

Commentary from the Pathways Devotional by David Jeremiah, May 11.

The city is laid out as a square;

its length is as great as its breadth.

And he measured the city with the reed:

twelve thousand furlongs.

Its length, breadth, and height are equal.

Revelation 21:16

Stop Giving Up On People

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Consider the command in Ephesians 4:32 to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, and forgiving.  When we carry resentment in our hearts, it’s like a little pocket of poison that pulls down our personalities and sours our spirits.  But when we’re kind and pleasant, it lightens our burdens and brightens our days-not to mention what it does for others.

God knows how we best function-He created us-and He’s an expert on the care of the soul.  Obedience not only glorifies Him, it blesses our lives.

Commentary from David Jeremiah’s Pathways Devotional, May 10.

An Eternal Perspective

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In the Bible, Mark 9:43-48, Jesus used startling language to stress the importance of cutting sin out of our lives.  Painful discipline is required of his true followers.  Giving up a relationship, job, or habit that is against God’s will may seem just as painful as cutting off a hand.  Our high goal, however, is worth any sacrifice; Christ is worth any possible loss.  Nothing should stand in the way of faith.  We must be ruthless in removing sins from our lives.  Make your choices from an eternal perspective.

Commentary from the One Year NIV Devotional NT, April 17.  Tyndale House Publishers (2003).

Reliance

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Faith is not something tangible to be taken like medicine.  It is an attitude of trusting and believing.  But even our ability to believe is a gift from God.  No matter how much faith we have, we never reach the point of being self-sufficient.  Faith is not stored away like money in the bank.  Growing in faith is a constant process of daily renewing our trust in Jesus.

Jesus was telling the disciples that they would face difficult situations that could be resolved only through prayer.  Prayer is the key that unlocks faith in our lives.  Effective prayer needs both an attitude-complete dependence-and an action-asking.  Prayer demonstrates our reliance on God as we humbly invite God to fill us with faith and power.  There is no substitute for prayer, especially in circumstances that seem unconquerable.  

Commentary from The One Year NIV Devotional New Testament, (2003), Tyndale House Publishers, April 15.