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Thread: In step

  1. #1621
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    Doing What is Right

    For reading & meditation - Philippians 2:5-16

    "... continue to work out your salvation ... for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." (vv. 12-13)

    We ended yesterday's devotional by saying that the biblical response to all of life's problems is to take advantage of the unfailing grace of God, and turn our setbacks into springboards. I know that some will respond to that statement by saying, "It sounds good in theory, but it's hard to put it into practice.

    What about the hurts that some people carry inside them, that make it difficult or sometimes impossible for them to make use of God's grace to turn their problems into possibilities?" I do understand and sympathize with the wounds that people have, which sometimes militate against their desire to respond to life in a biblical way. I know from firsthand experience the arguments that people can put forward to avoid doing what God asks in His Word.

    However, I must take my stand, and so must you, on the authority of Scripture, and affirm that God never asks us to do what we are incapable of doing. Much of evangelical Christianity, I am afraid, is man-centered.

    We need a return to a God-centered position which does exactly what God asks, whether we feel like it or not. I freely confess that there are times when I don't feel like obeying God. I know, however, what is right - that God has redeemed me and that I belong to Him - and I do what He wants me to whether I feel like it or not. What controls you in your Christian life - your feelings or what you know God asks and expects you to do? Your answer will reveal just who is in the driver's seat!

    Gracious and loving heavenly Father, teach me the art of responding to life, not with my feelings but with a clear mind and a clear resolve. Help me to do what is right - whether I feel like it or not. For Jesus' sake. Amen..

  2. #1622
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    Get Hold of This!

    For reading & meditation - Romans 8:28-39

    "... we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (v. 28)

    Before going on to examine some of the major ways in which life breaks us, we pause to review what we have been saying over these past few days. We said that while the same things may happen to us all, they do not have the same effect upon us all. Life's blows make some people querulous and bitter; others, they sweeten and refine.

    We also saw that the reason some respond to life positively and turn their problems into possibilities is because of right inner attitudes. There are many non-Christians who put us to shame when it comes to the question of rightly responding to life, and it is high time, therefore, that we Christians got our philosophy of living sorted out once and for all.

    If, as the Scripture teaches, God will let nothing happen to one of His children without supplying the necessary grace to turn the stumbling block into a stepping stone, then we ought to be ahead of the world in demonstrating how to meet whatever life sends us with confidence and faith.

    Be quite clear about this: no one can fully represent the Christian way of living until they commit themselves to believing that, though God may allow what appears to be a disaster in the life of one of His children, He does so only if He can turn it to good effect.

    If transformation is not possible, then God would never have allowed it to happen in the first place. So let this truth sink deep into your spirit - God only allows what He can use.

    Father, I come to You now to ask that this truth be so impressed upon me during the weeks ahead that never again will I have to be reminded of it. For Your own dear Name's sake. Amen.

  3. #1623
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    Never Soar as High Again?

    For reading & meditation - 1 Peter 1:3-9

    "These have come so that your faith ... may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (v. 7)

    We turn now to examine some of the ways in which our lives become fractured, and what we can do to become "strong at the broken places." We begin by looking at the brokenness which comes about through failure.

    Probably someone reading these words is caught up in a vortex of gloom due to a failure. You may be feeling like the man who said to me: "I am stunned by my failure. My life is shattered into smithereens. I read somewhere that 'the bird with the broken wing will never soar as high again.'

    Does that mean I can never rise to the heights in God which once I knew?" I reminded him of Simon Peter - a man with one of the worst track records in the New Testament. He was prejudiced, bigoted, stubborn, and spiritually insensitive.

    Again and again he got his wires crossed, such as the time when he attempted to divert Christ from going to His death in Jerusalem (Matt. 16:22), or his insistence that they should stay on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:4). Then, on the eve of Christ's crucifixion, he denied and even cursed his Lord. I can imagine Satan whispering in his ear: "Now you're finished. Burned out. A failure. You'll be forgotten ... replaced."

    But by God's grace, Peter rose from failure to success. He became "strong at the broken places." Because he refused to live in the shadow of his bad track record, his two letters are enshrined forever in the Scriptures. Failures, you see, are only temporary tests to prepare us for more permanent triumphs.

    O Father, I see so clearly that no failure is a failure if it succeeds in driving me to Your side. All things serve me - when I serve You. Amen.

  4. #1624
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    Incisive Questions

    For reading & meditation - Ecclesiastes 7:21-29

    "So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom ..." (v. 25)

    What steps must we take, when broken by failure, to ensure that we become strong at the place of weakness? Keep in mind that the principles we are considering are not only corrective, but also preventative.

    The first thing we should do, whenever we have failed in anything, is to analyze the reason for the failure. These are some of the questions you should ask yourself: Have I contributed in any way to this failure by such things as inattention to detail, lack of preparation, naivet?, wrong timing, disregard of moral principles, or insensitivity to other people?s feelings?

    Another question is: What does God want me to learn from this failure? It is difficult, of course, to sit down and question yourself like this when failure strikes; but, as soon as possible after the event, try to assess the lessons that can be learned by honestly facing your emotions - such as hurt, anger, anxiety. Remember, when we stop learning, we stop living.

    Yet another question to ask yourself is this: Has God allowed this failure so that His purposes for me might be made clear? I know a man, well-known in evangelical circles, who, when he was in his teens, mapped out a career for himself. Although a brilliant student, he failed the entrance examination into his chosen profession. When the news was broken to him, he simply said, "Lord, I just know You are involved in this: what do You want me to do?"

    This was the moment God had been waiting for, and He showed him a new path that has made him Christ's ambassador to millions.

    Father, help me to face my failure in the knowledge that some good can be wrested from even the most depressing circumstances. Show me that incisive questions can bring incisive answers. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

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