Posts Tagged ‘Lord’


But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.

One of my all-time favorite movies in Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray as Phil Connors, a self-centered weatherman who ends up trapped in a time warp. He is stuck in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, for Groundhog Day, the same Groundhog Day over and over and over again. After satisfying his hedonistic pleasures, Phil begins to grow into a person committed to helping others. For example, from experience, he knows that at precisely 11:05 a.m., a boy will fall out of a tree onto the sidewalk. So Phil makes sure to be there at exactly the right moment to catch the boy, saving him from serious injury. But, every single time, the boy runs away without even acknowledging Phil. In one scene, Phil laments, “That’s right. Never thank you, not once. You never say thank you.”

Things like this happen all the time, not just in the movies. This should not surprise us. In fact, the Apostle Paul informs us that ingratitude is to be expected in “the last days,” that is, in the days between the ascension of Christ and his return. People will act in all sorts of terrible ways and will be, among other deplorable things, “ungrateful” (2 Tim. 3:2).

What is the cost of ingratitude? To be sure, one cost accrues to the person who deserves thanks. In Groundhog Day, Phil Connors is deprived of the recognition and gladness he should receive from the boy he saved. When we fail to thank God, God loses out on the recognition that he rightly deserves. So, ingratitude wrongs the one who should have received thanks.

But there is another penalty that is paid when we are ungrateful. We lose the opportunity to delight in the blessings of our lives. We deny ourselves the joy that comes to us when we give others the joy that comes from our thanks. Ingratitude deprives the one who should offer thanks of a deeper, richer, fuller experience of life’s goodness.

So, ingratitude hurts the one who should receive thanks and the one who should give it. Not surprisingly, therefore, it also fails to nourish the relationship between the two parties. Whereas, a word of thanks can build intimacy and trust; thanks neglected creates distance and guardedness.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you experienced some of the costs of ingratitude? Are there times you forget to thank the Lord? Are there people in your life whom you need to thank, for their sake, for your sake, and for the sake of your relationship? When and how will you thank these people?

PRAYER: Gracious God, I don’t want to be one of those people described in 2 Timothy 3. I don’t want to be ungrateful. Yet, I know there are times when I fail to thank you for your blessings. There are also times I forget to thank others. I can get so busy, so focused, that I just don’t stop to say a simple “Thank you.”

Forgive me, Lord, for my ingratitude. Tenderize my heart, so that I might feel grateful when I am the recipient of goodness. Remind me, Lord, to thank you and to thank others…starting right now. Amen.

 

P.S. from Mark – Beginning with this coming Sunday, December 2, we will enter the season of Advent. This time of year helps us prepare for a richer experience of Christmas as we get in touch with just how much we need a Savior. I have been privileged to work with my colleagues in Laity Lodge Youth Camp and Laity Lodge Family Camp on the production of an Advent Family Devotional Guide. This guide will help you, your family, and your friends deepen your experience of God during Advent. We are giving away a PDF copy of this guide. Click here to download the 2012 Advent Devotional.

http://www.thehighcalling.org/reflection/cost-ingratitude

Advertisements

Experiencing God Despite the Distractions

In the normal course of things a certain number of distractions are bound to come to each one of us; but if we learn to be inwardly still these can be rendered relatively harmless. It would not be hard to compile a long list of names of Christians who carried upon their shoulders the burden of state or the responsibilities of business and yet managed to live in great inward peace with the face of the Lord in full view. They have left us a precious legacy in the form of letters, journals, hymns and devotional books that witness to the ability of Christ to calm the troubled waters of the soul as He once calmed the waves on the Sea of Galilee. And today as always those who listen can hear His still, small voice above the earthquake and the whirlwind.

While the grace of God will enable us to overcome inevitable distractions, we dare not presume upon God’s aid and throw ourselves open to unnecessary ones. The roving imagination, an inquisitive interest in other people’s business, preoccupation with external affairs beyond what is absolutely necessary: these are certain to lead us into serious trouble sooner or later. The heart is like a garden and must be kept free from weeds and insects. To expect the fruits and flowers of Paradise to grow in an untended heart is to misunderstand completely the processes of grace and the ways of God with men. Only grief and disappointment can result from continued violation of the divine principles that underlie the spiritual life.

http://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer?id=738


Our days are few, and are far better spent in doing good, than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and our Churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a field. Questions upon points wherein Scripture is silent; upon mysteries which belong to God alone; upon prophecies of doubtful interpretation; and upon mere modes of observing human ceremonials, are all foolish, and wise men avoid them. Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether; and if we observe the apostle’s precept (Titus 3:8) to be careful to maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with profitable business to take muc h interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings. There are, however, some questions which are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid, but fairly and honestly meet, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my conversation adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord, and watching as a servant should do who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus? Such enquiries as these urgently demand our attention; and if we have been at all given to cavilling, let us now turn our critical abilities to a service so much more profitable. Let us be peace-makers, and endeavour to lead others both by our precept and example, to “avoid foolish questions.”

http://www.crosswalkmail.com/ShareArticle.do?perform=view&articleID=ortwlmmqr&siteID=ivgnhzydngnycdfbkqtptyzcvkkcgmythhf&recipID=526889780


If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed —John 8:36

If there is even a trace of individual self-satisfaction left in us, it always says, “I can’t surrender,” or “I can’t be free.” But the spiritual part of our being never says “I can’t”; it simply soaks up everything around it. Our spirit hungers for more and more. It is the way we are built. We are designed with a great capacity for God, but sin, our own individuality, and wrong thinking keep us from getting to Him. God delivers us from sin— we have to deliver ourselves from our individuality. This means offering our natural life to God and sacrificing it to Him, so He may transform it into spiritual life through our obedience.

God pays no attention to our natural individuality in the development of our spiritual life. His plan runs right through our natural life. We must see to it that we aid and assist God, and not stand against Him by saying, “I can’t do that.” God will not discipline us; we must discipline ourselves. God will not bring our “arguments . . . and every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5)— we have to do it. Don’t say, “Oh, Lord, I suffer from wandering thoughts.” Don’t suffer from wandering thoughts. Stop listening to the tyranny of your individual natural life and win freedom into the spiritual life.

“If the Son makes you free . . . .” Do not substitute Savior for Son in this passage. The Savior has set us free from sin, but this is the freedom that comes from being set free from myself by the Son. It is what Paul meant in Galatians 2:20  when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ . . . .” His individuality had been broken and his spirit had been united with his Lord; not just merged into Him, but made one with Him. “. . . you shall be free indeed”— free to the very core of your being; free from the inside to the outside. We tend to rely on our own energy, instead of being energized by the power that comes from identification with Jesus.

http://utmost.org/winning-into-freedom/


“He led them forth.” Forth out of the world–forth out of sin–forth out of a profession–forth out of a name to live–forth out of everything hateful to his holy and pure eyes. “To go to a city of habitation.” They had no city to dwell in here below; but they were journeying to a city of habitation above, whose walls and bulwarks are salvation, and whose gates are praise; where there are eternal realities to be enjoyed by the soul; where there is something stable and eternal; something to satisfy all the wants of a capacious and immortal spirit, and give it that rest which it never could find while wandering here below. If we have a city here, we want no city above; and if we have a city above, we want no city here.

This then must be our state and case; either to be pilgrims, journeying onwards, through troubles, to things above, or taking up our abode below; seeking heaven here, or heaven hereafter; resting upon the world, or resting upon the Lord; panting after the things of time, or panting after the things of eternity; satisfied in self, or satisfied only in Christ. One of the two must be our state and case. The Lord decide it clearly in the hearts of his people that they are on his side; and give us to know and feel that our very restlessness and inability to find food and shelter in the things of time and sense, are leading us more earnestly and believingly to seek after the things that have reality in them; that finding no city to dwell in here below, we may press forward to be manifestly enjoying testimonies of being citizens of that city which is above, “which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God!”

http://devotionals.ochristian.com/j-c-philpot-daily-portions.shtml


Warning labels are everywhere today—from new appliances to toys. Even medications include pages of small print about all that could possibly go wrong.

God’s Word is filled with warning labels, alerting us to things that are harmful to our spiritual health. When we read, “These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him” (Prov. 6:16), it grabs our attention like a flashing warning signal. The list that follows (vv.17-19) warns against destructive tendencies like pride and dishonesty—sins that damage earthly relationships and grieve our heavenly Father. The text further states that “reproofs of instruction are the way of life” (v.23). In other words, God’s warnings aren’t meant to take the fun out of life, but rather to protect and preserve life.

I’ll always remember as a child standing with my friend Bobby outside after church and watching him suddenly run toward the busy street. I heard his mother yell, “Stop!” It was a warning to protect him, not to hinder his freedom.

Too often we’ve ignored God’s warnings to stop running in the wrong direction and suffered the consequences. Let’s remember that there’s freedom in heeding His warnings. They’re for our good.

Lord, thank You for the warnings in Your Word that are intended to protect and preserve my life. Help me to heed Your reproofs and instruction that I may live a life that is pleasing to You.
God’s Word is full of loving warnings to protect and preserve us.

May the words of my mouth      and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you,      O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Growing up, one of my heroes was a Presbyterian pastor named Ben Patterson. He was the speaker at many of the Christian conferences I attended as a teenager, and I was gripped by his theological insight and poetic skill. When I began work as a young pastor, I listened to dozens of Ben’s tapes, seeking to learn from him how to be an effective communicator of the Gospel.

One of the traditions I picked up from Ben was to pray, right before I preached, a version of Psalm 19:14. As I recall, he would pray something like this: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts together be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.” I didn’t always use this prayer in the pulpit, but I often did because it expressed the yearning of my heart as a preacher: that my words would honor the Lord, as would the thoughts of the whole congregation. Using this prayer reminded me that my effectiveness as a preacher did not depend on me, on my insight or skill, but upon the Lord, who was “my rock and my redeemer.”

I still think Psalm 19:14 is a fine prayer for the pulpit. And I still use it at times when I am a guest preacher. But I have come to realize that this prayer belongs not just in the pulpit, but also in the world. For one thing, the identified poet of Psalm 19, David, was not a priest or a prophet. He didn’t do “religious work” in the usual sense. Rather, he was a shepherd, a warrior, a musician, a poet, and most famously, a king. David did, if you’ll pardon the expression, secular work. Nevertheless, he sought to please the Lord with his words and thoughts, not just in his private prayers, but in every sector of life.

You and I are privileged to live for God‘s glory in all that we do, in every word, every thought, and every deed. This means we ought to borrow David’s prayer in Psalm 19:14, not just if we happen to be preaching a sermon, but all the time.

How would your life be different if you began praying Psalm 19:14 in the day-to-day situations of your life? What difference might it make if, before you participated in a meeting at work, you prayed, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer”? How might praying this way transform your language and actions on the athletic field, when you’re out on the town with your friends, when you’re writing a letter to a client, or when you’re negotiating a contract? How might it affect the way you speak to your spouse, your children, your roommate, or your colleagues?

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Use whichever questions in the previous paragraph fit your life to consider how Psalm 19:14 might change your life. Feel free to add other questions that make sense for you. How might your life be enriched if you were to pray often: “May the words of my mouth…”?

PRAYER: O Lord, my rock and my redeemer, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you:      at work and at home,      at church and at play,      with friends and family,      in meetings and in solitude,      in every situation, all the time. To you be all the glory. Amen.

http://www.thehighcalling.org/reflection/prayer-thats-not-just-pulpit