It was one of those conversations you want to take back. It was one of those conversations when you go where your desires and emotions are leading you. It was one of those conversations when you know you should stop or walk away but feel you can’t.
It was one of those conversations when afterward you are confronted with the sin that still lives inside you. Can you relate?
It wasn’t a big deal in one way. Just a small conversation that had turned a bit ugly. It wasn’t a dramatic life-altering moment. It was in the privacy of my home with one of my family members.
But maybe that’s the point.
Perhaps it’s very important because that’s where I live every day. You see, you and I don’t live in a series of big, dramatic moments. We don’t careen from big decision to big decision. We all live in an endless series of mundane moments and little conversations.
So I knew I couldn’t back away from this little conversation that turned ugly. I knew I had to own my sin. But the minute I thought this, an inner struggle began.
“I wasn’t the only one at fault. If he hadn’t said what he said, I wouldn’t have become angry. I was actually pretty patient for much of the conversation.” These were some of the arguments I was giving myself.
Rather than appealing to the mercy of the Lord in the face of my sin, what I actually do instead is function as my own defense lawyer and present a list of arguments for my own righteousness.
The theology behind the defense is that my greatest problem is outside me, not inside me. In so arguing, I’m telling myself that I don’t really need to be rescued by the Lord’s mercy. Instead, I’m telling myself that what I need to be rescued from is that sinner in the conversation who caused me to respond as I did.
Here’s the point. Before you can ever make a clean and unamended confession of your sin, you have to first begin by confessing your righteousness.
It’s not just your sin that separates you from God; your righteousness does as well. Because when you are convinced you are righteous, you don’t seek the forgiving, rescuing, and restoring mercy that can be found only in Jesus Christ.
So the next time you have a little conversation that turns ugly, don’t argue for your righteousness, shift the blame, or run away. Instead, appeal to the one thing in your life that’s sure and will never fail.
Leave the courtroom of your own defense, come out of hiding, and admit whom you are. But do so unafraid, because you’ve been personally and eternally blessed. Because of what Jesus did, God looks on you with mercy.
Taken from: https://www.paultripp.com/wednesdays-word/posts/a-little-conversation-that-turned-ugly
"By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith".True faith works.
When James said, "Faith without works is dead", he stated a principle that's consistent throughout Scripture: True faith always produces righteous works.
The people described in Hebrews 11 made their genuine faith known in the things they did. The same applies to us today. Paul said, "The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age".
Perhaps better than anyone else in history, Noah illustrates the obedience of faith. Scripture characterizes him as "a righteous man, blameless in his time . . . [who] walked with God" .
I remember a sportscaster interviewing a professional football player and asking him what he thought of his team's chances of winning the Super Bowl. The player replied, "We believe that if we just do what the coach says, we'll win." The team had absolute confidence in their coach, but they realized they had to do their part as well.
That illustrates the quality of faith Noah had in God, whom he trusted absolutely as he pursued a task that seemed utterly foolish and useless from a human perspective. Imagine instantly surrendering all your time and effort to devote 120 years to building something you'd never seen (a vessel the size of a ocean liner or battleship) to protect you from something you'd never experienced (rain and flooding). Yet Noah did it without question.
Noah's faith is unique in the sheer magnitude and time span of the task God gave him to do. He didn't argue with God or deviate from his assignment. Is that true of you? Are you pursuing your ministry as faithfully and persistently as Noah did his? Is your faith a faith that works?
Suggestions for Prayer
Thank God for the ministry He's called you to. If you sense there's more you could be doing, ask Him for guidance. Pray for added faithfulness and tenacity in serving Him.
taken from: https://www.gty.org/library/devotionals
"By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain" (Heb 11:4).True worship requires coming to God on His terms.
At the heart of every false religion is the notion that man can come to God by any means he chooses—by meditating, doing good deeds, and so on. But Scripture says, "There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). That name is Jesus Christ, and we come to Him by confessing and repenting of our sin, trusting in His atoning death on the cross, and affirming His bodily resurrection from the grave (cf. Rom. 10:9-10). There is no other way to God.
Centuries before Christ's death, God provided a means of worship and sacrifice. Genesis 4:3-5says, "It came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard."
Apparently God had designated a special time for sacrificing because "in the course of time" (v. 3) literally means, "at the end of days"—at the end of a certain period of time. Additionally, He initiated a particular pattern for worship and sacrifices. Otherwise Cain and Abel would have known nothing about how it was to be done.
God required a blood offering for sin. Abel came in faith, acknowledged his sin, and made the appropriate sacrifice. His offering was better than Cain's because Cain neglected the prescribed sacrifice, thereby demonstrating his unwillingness to submit to God and deal with his sin.
There was nothing intrinsically wrong with Cain's offering. Grain, fruit, or vegetable offerings were included in the Mosaic covenant. But the sin offering had to come first. Like so many today, Cain wrongly assumed he could approach God on his own terms. In doing so he became the father of all false religions, and his name became synonymous with rebellion and apostasy (cf. Jude 11).
taken from: https://www.gty.org/library/devotionals
. . . And they were unaware until the flood came, and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
The doom was universal. Neither rich nor poor escaped: the learned and the illiterate, the admired and the despised, the religious and the profane, the old and the young all sank in one common ruin. Some had doubtless ridiculed the preacher, but where were their merry jests now? Others had threatened Noah for his zeal, which they regarded as madness. What happened to their boastings and hard speeches? The critic who judged the old man's work drowns in the same sea that covers his sneering companions. Those who spoke patronizingly of the good man's faithfulness to his convictions, but did not share them, have sunk to rise no more, and the workers who for pay helped to build the wondrous ark are all lost also. The Flood swept them all away and made no single exception. Even so, outside of Christ, final destruction is sure to everyone; no rank, possession, or character will be enough to save a single soul who has not believed in the Lord Jesus. My soul, consider this widespread judgment and tremble at it.
How incredible was the general apathy! They were all eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the awful morning dawned. There was not one wise individual upon earth outside of the ark. Folly duped the whole race: folly as to self-preservation, the most fooling of all follies. Folly in doubting the most true God: the most malignant foolishness. Is it not strange, my soul? All men are negligent of their souls until grace gives them reason; then they leave their madness and act like rational beings, but not until then.
All, blessed be God, were safe in the ark; no ruin entered there. From the huge elephant down to the tiny mouse all were safe. The timid hare was equally secure with the courageous lion, the helpless lamb as safe as the laborious ox. All are safe in Jesus. My soul, are you in Him?
taken from https://info.truthforlife.org/devo-nov1-2018
And those whom he predestined he also called.
In the second letter to Timothy, first chapter and ninth verse, we read these words: "who saved us and called us to a holy calling." Now here is a touchstone by which we may test our calling. It is "a holy calling, not because of our works, but because of his own purpose and grace." This calling forbids all trust in our own doings and turns us to Christ alone for salvation, but it afterwards purges us from dead works to serve the living and true God.
As He who called you is holy, so must you be holy. If you are living in sin, you are not called; but if you are truly Christ's, you can say, "Nothing pains me so much as sin; I desire to be rid of it. Lord, help me to be holy." Is this the longing of your heart? Is this the substance of your life toward God and His divine will? Again, in Philippians 3:13-14 we are told of "the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Is your calling an upward call? Has it refined your heart and focused it upon heavenly things? Has it elevated your hopes, your tastes, your desires? Has it raised the constant tenor of your life, so that you spend it with God and for God?
We find another test in Hebrews 3:1—"you who share in a heavenlycalling." "Heavenly calling" means a call from heaven. If your call comes from man alone, you are uncalled. Is your calling from God? Is it a call toheaven as well as from heaven? Unless you are a stranger here, and heaven is your home, you have not been called with a heavenly calling, for those who have been called from heaven declare that they look for a city that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God, and they find themselves strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Is your calling holy, high, heavenly? Then, beloved, you have been called of God, for such is the calling by which God calls His people.
taken from https://www.truthforlife.org/resources/daily-devotionals/10/11/0
Whom God made our wisdom.
1 Corinthians 1:30
Man's intellect seeks for peace and by nature seeks it apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. Men of education are apt, even when converted, to look upon the simplicities of the cross of Christ with too little reverence and love. They are trapped in the old net in which the Greeks were taken and have a hankering to mix philosophy with revelation.
The temptation with a man of refined thought and high education is to depart from the simple truth of Christ crucified and to invent, as the term is, a more intellectual doctrine. This led the early Christian churches into Gnosticism and bewitched them with all sorts of heresies. This is the root of unorthodoxy and the other high-sounding notions that in the past were so fashionable in Germany and are now so enthralling to certain classes of divines. Whoever you are, good reader, and whatever your education may be, if you are the Lord's, rest assured that you will find no peace in philosophizing divinity.
You may receive the dogma of one great thinker or the dream of another profound reasoner, but what the chaff is to the wheat is what these notions are to the pure Word of God. Reason at its best can only discover the ABCs of truth, and even that lacks certainty, while in Christ Jesus there is treasured up all the fullness of wisdom and knowledge. All attempts on the part of Christians to be content with the systems that Unitarian and liberal-church thinkers approve of must fail; true heirs of heaven must come back to the grandly simple reality that makes the plow boy's eye flash with joy and rejoices the pious pauper's heart—"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."1 Jesus satisfies the most elevated intellect when He is believingly received, but apart from Him the mind of the regenerate discovers no rest. "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge."2"All those who practice it have a good understanding."
taken from https://info.truthforlife.org/devo-sept25-2018
I will sing of steadfast love and justice.
Faith is triumphant in trial. When reason has her feet fastened in the stocks of the inner prison, faith makes the dungeon walls ring with her happy notes as she cries, "I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music." Faith pulls the dark mask from the face of trouble and discovers the angel beneath. Faith looks up at the cloud and sees that
"It is big with mercy and will break
In blessings on her head."
There is a subject for song even in the judgments of God toward us. For, first, the trial is not as difficult as it might have been; next, the trouble is not as severe as we deserved; and our affliction is not as crushing as the burden that others have to carry. Faith sees that in her deepest sorrow there is no punishment. There is not a drop of God's wrath in it; it is all sent in love. Faith finds love gleaming like a jewel on the breast of an angry God. Faith wears her grief "like a badge of honor" and sings of the sweet result of her sorrows, because they work for her spiritual good. Faith says, "For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison."1 So faith rides out in victory, trampling down earthly wisdom and carnal knowledge, and singing songs of triumph where the battle rages.
All I meet I find assists me
In my path to heavenly joy:
Where, though trials now attend me,
Trials never more annoy.
Blest there with a weight of glory,
Still the path I'll not forget,
But, exulting, cry, it led me
To my blessed Savior's seat.
1) 2 Corinthians 4:17
taken from: https://info.truthforlife.org/devo-sept12-2018
Have you entered into the springs of the sea?
Some things in nature remain a mystery even to the most intelligent and enterprising investigators. Human knowledge has boundaries beyond which it cannot pass. Universal knowledge is for God alone. If this is true in the things that are seen and temporal, I can be certain that it is even more so in spiritual and eternal matters. Why, then, have I been torturing my brain with speculations about divine sovereignty and human responsibility? These deep and dark truths I am no more able to comprehend than to discover the source from which the ocean draws her watery supplies.
Why am I so curious to know the reason for my Lord's providences, the motive of His actions, the design of His visitations? Will I ever be able to clasp the sun in my fist or hold the universe in my palm? Yet these are as a drop in a bucket compared with the Lord my God. Do not let me strive to understand the infinite, but spend my strength in love. What I cannot gain by intellect I can possess by affection, and that should be enough for me. I cannot penetrate the heart of the sea, but I can enjoy the healthy breezes that sweep across it, and I can sail over its blue waves with propitious winds.
If I could enter the springs of the sea, the feat would serve no useful purpose either to myself or to others; it would not save the sinking ship or restore the drowned sailor to his weeping wife and children. Neither would my solving deep mysteries avail me a single whit. The simplest act of obedience to Him is better than the profoundest knowledge. My Lord, I leave the infinite to You and ask You to put far from me a love for the tree of knowledge that would keep me from the tree of life.
taken from https://info.truthforlife.org/devo-sep5-2018
We’re all familiar with Jesus’ last instructions to His followers: Matthew 28:19 says to make disciples and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But the next verse contains a second aspect of the directive: “Teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” The Great Commission is usually associated with world evangelism, but baptism and obedience to Christ are also important because they are outward signs of a disciple’s inward faith.
In today’s passage, Paul explains the reason for proclaiming Christ and admonishing and teaching believers: “That we may present every man complete in Christ” (Col. 1:28). To simply lead someone to salvation without teaching him God’s Word is equivalent to leaving a newborn baby to fend for himself. Salvation begins the lifelong process of learning obedience and growing into spiritual maturity.
Furthermore, we can’t limit the task of teaching to pastors and missionaries any more than we can say that they alone are called to evangelize the lost. The entire church is given the assignment of making disciples and teaching them to obey the Lord. Instead of simply sitting in church services, Sunday schools, and Bible studies to soak up more truth for our own benefit, let’s pass on to others what we have learned.
Teaching isn’t the exclusive role of those who stand at podiums in front of large groups. It’s something that can be done one-on-one over coffee. Think about all that you have learned since you were saved. What can you share with someone else that will help him or her grow in Christ?
taken from http://beta.intouch.org/read/magazine/daily-devotions
"Love . . . is not jealous" (1 Cor. 13:4).Jealousy thrives in a climate of selfish ambition.
Jealousy is an insidious sin that cries out, "I want what you have, and furthermore, I don't want you to have it." It replaces contentment with resentment and spawns a myriad of other sins.
The Corinthians, in truth, were jealous of one another's spiritual gifts. First Corinthians 12:31literally says, "You are earnestly desiring the showy gifts, but I show you a more excellent way." The word translated "earnestly desiring" is translated "jealous" in 1 Corinthians 13:4. It means "to boil" and speaks of the inner seething that comes from wanting something that someone else has. In 1 Corinthians 3:3 Paul rebukes them for the jealousy and strife that existed among them.
Paul knew what it meant to be victimized by jealous people. During one of his imprisonments he candidly wrote, "Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment" (Phil. 1:15-17).
Paul's attitude toward those who envied him was exemplary: "Whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice" (v. 18). He wasn't motivated by personal comfort or selfish ambition. He loved Christ deeply and wanted as many people as possible to hear the gospel. As long as Christ was being proclaimed, Paul was happy—regardless of his own circumstances or the motives of others. That should be your perspective too.
Love is the antidote for jealousy. When godly love governs your heart, you can rejoice in the spiritual successes of others, even when you know their motives are wrong. But if you seek prominence and selfish gain, you become an easy target for jealousy and resentment.
Suggestions for Prayer