Archive for July, 2012


Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility — young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.” — Daniel 1:3–4

Nebuchadnezzar had an ingenious plan. He would enrich his own country while impoverishing Judea and assuring that she would have no rebirth by finding the best and brightest youth in Judea and bringing them to live with him in Babylon.

There, through a carefully regimented program, he would turn them into loyal Babylonians and reap the benefits of their brilliance. He never considered that things might turn out the other way around! Yet, after just a short while with Daniel and his friends, Nebuchadnezzar proclaims, “Surely your God is the God of godsand the Lord of kings” (Daniel 2:47).

In 1974, media heiress Patty Hearst became famous when she was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army. Patty subsequently joined the SLA and identified with the very captors who had abducted her. Patty’s odd behavior was attributed to a phenomenon known as the Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological condition where abductees associate positive feelings with their captors.

We would expect that those held captive would resent those who had abducted them. However we find that in stressful situations, some victims not only tolerate their abusers, they also admire them.

When young Daniel and his friends were kidnapped and brought to Nebuchadnezzar, they were treated like royalty. They were given food from the royal table, wine, regal lodging, and an elite education. They even were furnished with respectful Babylonian names. All of this was done in order to get the young boys to shed their old identity as Jews and associate with their new society in Babylon.

But Daniel could not be changed:  “Daniel resolved not to defile himself” (Daniel 1:8). From the very beginning of his captivity and all throughout his life, Daniel could not be persuaded or forced to change his ways. No Stockholm Syndrome here! In fact, just the opposite occurred — Daniel was able to get his captors to identify with him!

Several kings later, King Darius proclaims: “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and revere the God of Daniel” (Daniel 6:26). How’s that for a positive influence?

We say we live in a free world, but no one can deny that mass media has a hold on our minds. Society has a set of values that are not always our own – and we are bombarded by them every single day. The question for each one of us is: will we let the world change us, or will we change the world?

We can associate with those who bring us down, or – like Daniel – we can influence everyone around us and raise them up.  By sticking to a moral code dictated by biblical values instead of the latest magazines, we set an example and encourage others.

http://www.holylandmoments.org/devotionals/from-captive-to-captivator


As Jesus went out of the Temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Master, see what great stones and what a beautiful building!” Then Jesus answered, “This Temple, made by man’s hands, shall be destroyed. But another will soon arise, made without hands.” And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when shall these things happen, and what is to be the sign to show when all these things are about to happen?” Jesus said to them, “No one knows the day or the hour when this will happen, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

“The Kingdom of God shall be like ten maidens who took their torches and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. For the foolish ones, when they took their torches, took no oil with them; but the wise took oil in their vessels with their torches.

“Now while the bridegroom delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was raised: ‘Look! The bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those maidens rose, and trimmed their torches. And the foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; for our torches are going out.’ But the wise maidens answered, ‘There may not be enough for us and for you. Go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ Now while they went away to buy, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also and said, ‘Sir, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘I tell you truly, I do not know you.’

“Watch, therefore, for you do not know the day nor the hour when the Kingdom of God shall come.”

http://kids.ochristian.com/Childrens-Bible/Jesus-Warns-His-Disciples.shtml


Why should God have to lead us thus, and allow the pressure to be so hard and constant?

Well, in the first place, it shows His all-sufficient strength and grace much better than if we were exempt from pressure and trial. “The treasure is in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

It make us more conscious of our dependence upon Him. God is constantly trying to teach us our dependence, and to hold us absolutely in His hand and hanging upon His care.

This was the place where Jesus Himself stood and where He wants us to stand, not with a self-constituted strength, but with a hand ever leaning upon His, and a trust that dare not take one step alone.

It teaches us trust. There is no way of learning faith except by trial. It is God’s school of faith, and it is far better for us to learn to trust God than to enjoy life.

The lesson of faith, once learned, is an everlasting acquisition and an eternal fortune made; and without trust even riches will leave us poor.

http://devotionals.ochristian.com/a-b-simpson-devotional.shtml

 


Receive Christ’s Full Purchase of Forgiveness.


In 2010, auto manufacturers recalled a staggering 20 million cars in the US for various defects. The thought of such a large number of defective cars on the road is startling enough. But what is more disturbing is the apathy of some owners. In one instance, the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety warned owners, “It’s a free repair. Get it done. It may save your life.” Yet, despite the risk to their own lives, 30 percent never responded.

Likewise, many ignore God’s “recall notice” to the entire human race. Unlike a defect found in automobiles, the moral defect of the human race is not the Maker’s fault. He made everything “very good” (Gen. 1:31), but people’s sin ruined it. God’s offer to us is “repent . . . that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).

God offers not just a free repair of the human heart but a replacement of it (Ezek. 36:26; 2 Cor. 5:17). Though the offer costs us nothing (Eph. 2:8-9), it cost God the life of His only Son Jesus Christ. “[Jesus] bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

Don’t ignore the Lord’s call. The free and permanent remedy offered by God for your spiritual defect will save your life!

The heart of man is stained by sin, From Adam’s fall this has been true; Yet God in Christ can make a change— Through faith in Him we are made new. —Fitzhugh
For a new start, ask God for a new heart.

Wanted: Worshipers

It remains only to be said that worship as we have described it here is almost (though, thank God, not quite) a forgotten art in our day. For whatever we can say of modern Bible-believing Christians, it can hardly be denied that we are not remarkable for our spirit of worship. The gospel as preached by good men in our times may save souls, but it does not create worshipers. Our meetings are characterized by cordiality, humor, affability, zeal and high animal spirits; but hardly anywhere do we find gatherings marked by the overshadowing presence of God. We manage to get along on correct doctrine, fast tunes, pleasing personalities and religious amusements. How few, how pitifully few are the enraptured souls who languish for love of Christ. The sweet “madness” that visited such men as Bernard and St. Francis and Richard Rolle and Jonathan Edwards and Samuel Rutherford is scarcely known today. The passionate adorations of Teresa and Madame Guyon are a thing of the past. Christianity has fallen into the hands of leaders who knew not Joseph. The very memory of better days is slowly passing from us and a new type of religious person is emerging. How is the gold tarnished and the silver become lead! If Bible Christianity is to survive the present world upheaval, we shall need to recapture the spirit of worship. We shall need to have a fresh revelation of the greatness of God and the beauty of Jesus. We shall need to put away our phobias and our prejudices against the deeper life and seek again to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He alone can raise our cold hearts to rapture and restore again the art of true worship.

http://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer?id=627


If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9 makes it clear that salvation depends upon our relationship with Jesus Christ. We are not saved because of good works or good intentions. Rather, our salvation depends on trusting Christ completely. It’s a matter of what we say and what we believe. There must be coherence between our lips and our heart. Elsewhere Paul will make sure we understand that our faith must be lived out as well (for example, Eph. 2:8-10). In the end, our saving faith in Christ affects every part of our lives: how we think, feel, speak, and live.

We might wonder why it’s so important to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. Isn’t this just one of many core Christian beliefs? Yes, indeed. But the resurrection is the linchpin of our faith. It holds together our belief that Jesus’ death on the cross effected our forgiveness and that through him we can begin to experience the new life of God’s glorious future. The resurrection of Jesus proved that he was not just some pretender to the messianic throne, but God’s anointed and, indeed, the Lord before whom every knee will one day bow.

Romans 10:9 offers reassurance that our salvation does not depend on our success as Christians, but upon our faith in the God who saves us through Jesus Christ. Thus when we fall short in our discipleship, we press on with assurance that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When did you first confess the lordship of Jesus and believe in his resurrection? What does it mean for Jesus to be the Lord of your life?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, how I thank you for your grace given to me through Christ. For all the ways you have helped me to have faith, I am eternally grateful…literally.

I ask for yet more grace, so that I might not just confess Jesus as Lord, but live with him as my Lord each and every day. Help me especially in situations where I’m apt to forget or neglect his lordship. May my life be a continuous act of worship to my Lord who is also my Savior.

Finally, I pray for those who are struggling to confess Jesus as Lord or to believe in his resurrection, pour out your grace upon them. Stir in their minds and hearts by your Spirit. Bring them to the place where they can truly confess and believe. To you be all the glory, Amen.

http://www.thehighcalling.org/reflection/confess-and-believe-0