"Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit" (John 15:2).
This is a precious promise to one who lives for fruitfulness. At first it seems to wear a sharp aspect. Must the fruitful bough be pruned? Must the knife cut even the best and most useful? No doubt it is so, for very much of our LORD's purging work is done by means of afflictions of one kind or another. It is not the evil but the good who have the promise of tribulation in this life. But, then, the end makes more than full amends for the painful nature of the means. If we may bring forth more fruit for our LORD, we will not mind the pruning and the loss. Still, purging is sometimes wrought by the Word apart from trial, and this takes away whatever appeared rough in the flavor of the promise. We shall by the Word be made more gracious and more useful. The LORD who has made us, in a measure, fruit-bearing, will operate upon us till we reach a far higher degree of fertility. Is not this a great joy? Truly there is more comfort in a promise of fruitfulness than if we had been warranted riches, or health, or honor. LORD Jesus, speedily fulfill Thy gracious word to me and cause me to abound in fruit to Thy praise!
taken from: https://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/faithcheckbook/
“And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:8).
God wants believers’ lives to be simplified, free from the burdens of material cares.
Today’s verse declares how Christians ought to be free from material distractions. The apostle Paul asserts that life’s basic needs should be adequate to satisfy believers. He does not say it is wrong to own nice things, especially if God providentially allows you to have them. What is wrong is to have a selfish craving for money because you are discontent. The highest goal of the Christian life is to love God and glorify Him forever, not to pile up material goods. Even if you have wealth, the Lord wants you to use and manage it from a motivation that puts God first.
The problem you and I continually face is that our fast-paced, complex, technological societies place materialism first. Objects and things come before people; entertainment options replace conversations with members of our family. All this has so often caused us to lose the simple joys of life’s relationships, which are the essence of Christian fellowship.
To keep those simple but essential joys primary, I’d invite you to apply the following principles. I’ve found them helpful in keeping my own life simplified and free from materialism.
First, evaluate every purchase as to how it would make your ministry more effective.
Second, since God owes you nothing, everything you receive from Him should make you thankful.
Third, learn to distinguish wants from needs, and thereby increase the amount of money you have available for the Lord.
Fourth, discipline yourself to spend less than you earn and save the rest for worthwhile causes and needs that arise. Do not amass credit card debt.
Lastly, learn to give sacrificially to God’s kingdom.
If you implement these and other sound principles of Christian stewardship, you’ll experience much joy and realize anew that the simple life means accepting what God provides and avoiding covetousness.
Suggestions for Prayer
Pray that God would motivate you to be faithful in the five principles of good stewardship listed in the lesson. If you have not been following any of them, ask the Lord to help you start today.
For Further Study
Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called.
1 Corinthians 7:20
Some people have the foolish notion that the only way in which they can live for God is by becoming pastors, missionaries, or Bible teachers. How many would be excluded from any opportunity of spiritual usefulness if this were the case. Beloved, it is not office—it is sincerity; it is not position—it is grace that will enable us to serve and glorify God. God is definitely glorified at the workbench, where the godly worker fulfills his task singing of the Savior's love. In this humble setting God is glorified far more than in many a lofty pulpit where official religion performs its scanty duties. The name of Jesus is glorified by the taxicab driver as he blesses God and speaks to his passengers of the living hope. He will be more useful than the popular preacher who goes about peddling the Gospel for profit. God is glorified when we serve Him in our proper vocations.
Take care, dear reader, that you do not neglect the path of duty by leaving your occupation, and take care you do not dishonor your profession while in it. Think little of yourselves, but do not think too little of your callings. Every lawful trade may be sanctified by the Gospel to noblest ends. Turn to the Bible, and you will find the most menial forms of labor connected either with most daring deeds of faith or with persons whose lives have been illustrations of holiness.
Therefore do not be discontented with your calling. Whatever God has made your position or your work, remain in that, unless you are quite sure that He calls you to something else. Let your first concern be to glorify God to the best of your ability where you are. Fill your present sphere to His praise, and if He needs you in another, He will show it to you. This evening lay aside anxious ambition, and embrace peaceful content.
taken from: truthforlife.org/devo-june27-2018
The righteous shall live by faith
- Romans 1:16-17Authentic faith in our Creator is not a blind leap into the dark, but it is a committed trust in God based on His revelation of Himself in nature and in Scripture. It is not an act of irrationality but a conviction grounded in the surety of the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15). Knowing that the Lord is trustworthy, faith holds firm to God even in the most difficult of circumstances, confident that He will never fail to keep His promises (Gen. 22:1–14).
Faith is eminently rational because it is faith in the supreme revelation of God—Jesus Christ. And as we see in the Gospels, those who trust in Jesus are never the same. Faith results in a life of ever-increaseding obedience to our Maker, in our being willing to die unto ourselves more and more and to take up our cross in following Jesus (Mark 8:34).
In sum, righteous people live by faith; their continuing trust in God demonstrates that our Lord sees them as righteous, and they bear fruit in acts of righteousness. This is part of what Paul is getting at in to-day’s passage. Of course, our acts of obedience are not the ground on which we are declared righteous in God’s sight, for only the perfect righteousness of Christ is the basis for our acceptance by God (Rom. 5:12–21; 2 Cor. 5:21). This righteousness is received only by faith. Nevertheless, those whom God declares righteous He is also conforming to the image of His Son. Faith continues after our conversion, our trust in God proving that we have been reconciled to Him in Christ and moving us to greater and greater obedience.
A few days ago, we saw that one essential component of saving faith is fiducia, which is the personal trust that we place in Christ to save us. But fiducia means not only that we entrust ourselves to Christ once but that we do so over the course of our lives. We give our lives continually to Jesus, pledging and living out our loyalty to Him. Inspired by our personal trust in the promises of God, we are loyal to Him, and we strive never to compromise our loyalty to Him and His way.
Loyalty to God bears fruit in our continuing commitment to Him but also in our loyalty to others. Those whom God has declared righteous live lives of integrity because they live by faith, by abiding trust and commitment to God. Living by faith means we keep our promises to God and to other people. It means we can be trusted when we make commitments. By faith, we are being conformed to Christ, the eminently trustworthy One, and so we imitate Him in becoming more trustworthy ourselves.
Are you a trustworthy person? As believers have been predestined to be conformed to Christ’s image (Rom. 8:29) and Christ is supremely trustworthy, then evidence of Christian growth comes as we become more trustworthy. As we live by faith, let us seek to become more trustworthy friends, relatives, workers, and citizens
taken from: https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/fruit-faith/
. . . Who saved us and called us to a holy calling.
2 Timothy 1:9
The apostle uses the perfect tense and says, "who saved us." Believers in Christ Jesus are saved. They are not looked upon as people who are in a hopeful state and may ultimately be saved, but they are already saved. Salvation is not a blessing to be enjoyed upon our dying bed and to be sung of in a future state above, but a matter to be obtained, received, promised, and enjoyed now.
The Christian is perfectly saved in God's purpose; God has ordained him to salvation, and that purpose is complete. He is saved also as to the price that has been paid for him: "It is finished" was the cry of the Savior before He died. The believer is also perfectly saved in His covenant Head, for as he fell in Adam, so he lives in Christ.
This complete salvation is accompanied by a holy calling. Those whom the Savior saved upon the cross are in due time effectually called by the power of God the Holy Spirit to holiness: They leave their sins; they endeavor to be like Christ; they choose holiness, not out of any compulsion, but from the power of a new nature, which leads them to rejoice in holiness just as naturally as when previously they delighted in sin. God neither chose them nor called them because they were holy, but He called them that they might be holy, and holiness is the beauty produced by His workmanship in them.
The excellencies that we see in a believer are as much the work of God as the Atonement itself. In this way the fullness of the grace of God is beautifully displayed. Salvation must be of grace, because the Lord is the author of it: And what motive but grace could move Him to save the guilty? Salvation must be of grace because the Lord works in such a manner that our righteousness is forever excluded. Such is the believer's privilege—a present salvation; such is the evidence that he is called to it--a holy life.
taken from http://info.truthforlife.org/devo-june12-2018
Are they Israelites? So am I.
2 Corinthians 11:22
We have here a personal claim, and one that needs proof. The apostle knew that his claim was indisputable, but there are many people who have no right to the title yet still claim to belong to the Israel of God. If we are confidently declaring, "I am also an Israelite," let us only say it after we have searched our hearts as in the presence of God. But if we can give proof that we are following Jesus, if we can say from the heart, "I trust Him wholly, trust Him only, trust Him simply, trust Him now, and trust Him ever," then the position that the saints of God hold also belongs to us.
All their enjoyments are our possessions; we may be the very least in Israel, "least of all saints," but since the mercies of God belong to the saints as saints, and not as advanced saints or well-taught saints, we may put in our plea and say, "Are they Israelites? So am I. The promises are mine, grace is mine, and glory will be mine." The claim, rightfully made, is one that will yield untold comfort. When God's people are rejoicing that they are His, what a happiness to be able to say, "So am I!"
When they speak of being pardoned and justified and accepted in the Beloved, how joyful to respond, "Through the grace of God, so am I." But this claim not only has its enjoyments and privileges, but also its conditions and duties. We must share with God's people in cloud as well as in sunshine. When we hear them spoken of with contempt and ridicule for being Christians, we must come boldly forward and say, "So am I." When we see them working for Christ, giving their time, their talent, their whole heart to Jesus, we must be able to say, "So do I." Let us then prove our gratitude by our devotion and live as those who, having claimed a privilege, are willing to take the responsibility connected with it.
taken from: truthforlife.org/devo-june6-2018
. . . So that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
Christian, why would you play with sin? Has it not cost you enough already? Burnt child, will you play with the fire? What! When you have already been between the jaws of the lion, will you step a second time into his den? Have you not had enough of the old serpent? Did he not poison all your veins once, and will you play at the cobra's den and put your hand in the dragon's lair a second time?
Do not be not so mad, so foolish! Did sin ever yield you real pleasure? Did you find solid satisfaction in it? If so, go back to your old drudgery, and wear the chain again, if it delights you. But inasmuch as sin never gave you what it promised to bestow but deluded you with lies, do not be snared by the old fowler: Be free, and let the memory of your enslavement prevent you from entering the net again!
It is contrary to the designs of eternal love, which are all focused on your purity and holiness; therefore do not run counter to the purposes of your Lord.
Another thought should restrain you from sin. Christians can never sin cheaply; they pay a heavy price for iniquity. Transgression destroys peace of mind, obscures fellowship with Jesus, hinders prayer, brings darkness over the soul; therefore do not be the serf and slave of sin.
There is still a higher argument: Each time you serve sin you are "crucifying once again the Son of God . . . and holding him up to contempt."1 Can you bear that thought? If you have fallen into any special sin during this day, it may be that my Master has sent this admonition this evening to bring you back before you have wandered very far. Turn to Jesus afresh. He has not forgotten His love for you; His grace is still the same. With weeping and repentance, come to His footstool, and you shall be reunited in His love; you will be set upon a rock again, and your goings shall be established.
taken from http://info.truthforlife.org/devo-may30-2018
You have not bought me sweet cane with money.
Worshipers at the temple were keen to bring presents of sweet perfumes to be burned upon the altar of God. But Israel, in the time of her backsliding, became ungenerous and made fewer offerings to her Lord. This was an evidence of coldness of heart toward God and His house.
Reader, does this never happen with you? Is it not possible that the complaint of this text may occasionally, if not frequently, be brought against you? Those who are poor in pocket, if rich in faith, will be accepted even though their gifts are small; but, poor reader, do you give in fair proportion to the Lord, or is the widow's mite kept back from the sacred treasury? The rich believer should be thankful for the wealth entrusted to him but should not forget his large responsibility, for where much is given, much will be required.
But, rich reader, are you mindful of your obligations, and is your giving to the Lord proportionate to the benefit you enjoy? Jesus gave His blood for us; what shall we give to Him? We are His, and He has purchased us for Himself—can we act as if we were our own? O for more consecration! O for more love! Blessed Jesus, how good it is of You to accept our sweet cane bought with money! Nothing is too costly as a tribute to Your unrivaled love, and yet You receive with favor the smallest sincere token of affection! You receive our poor forget-me-nots and love-tokens as though they were intrinsically precious, though indeed they are but as the bunch of wild flowers that the child brings to his mother.
Let us never grow stingy toward You, and from this hour may we never hear You complain of us again for withholding the gifts of our love. We will give You the firstfruits of our increase and pay You tithes of all, and then we will confess, "of your own have we given you."
taken from: http://info.truthforlife.org
19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21And having an high priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Summer is quickly approaching and we have all waited for this long winter to be over so we can enjoy all the good things warm weather brings. Outdoor activities, biking (or riding the scooter), hiking, picnicking, sports and leisure just to name a few activities that seem to compete for our time. Our time is limited and like most of us, we prioritize, or better, we make time for what we want to make time for.
In the above verses, as well as others, we can draw out some principles that should help us determine our motives and our decisions to “miss church”. First, we need to understand that missing church hurts the body. We are one body in Christ, right? When we miss church, we fail to edify and encourage each other. We miss our “spiritual meal” that quite frankly many of us only get once a week. Our faith, over time becomes weak when we fail to hear Gods word proclaimed. And if all this was not enough, we are commanded to assemble together.
Eric Liddell was an Olympic athlete in the early 1900’s. Eric refused to run races on Sundays even during the Olympics. He believed so strongly in the Sabbath that he would not allow himself to participate even on Olympic stage. He was born to missionary parents who taught him the importance of the Sabbath and he himself became a missionary to China for almost 20 years. When asked of his decision to leave fame and glory his reply “It's natural for a chap to think over all that sometimes, but I'm glad I'm at the work I'm engaged in now. A fellow's life counts for far more at this than the other."
Eric Liddell’s testimony should be an eye opener for all of us. This man had a seat at the highest of athletic honors and he did not let that get in the way of his faith. We all know there will be times when we will miss church and many times, it can’t be helped. Most times however are self-inflicted reasons we miss. If we are not careful, our reasons to “miss church” will become easier and before you know it, church has become a byproduct of our life and no longer a staple.
Pray that God will give us all the desire to meet together as a body to love and edify one another.
Are you living through a period of life when you don't understand what God is doing, and you can't seem to improve your situation, location, or relationships?
Maybe you don't feel utterly helpless, but you feel something like this:
It is a painful exercise in spiritual maturity, but there are inescapable, necessary, and helpful reasons why we feel confused and powerless:
1. Because We Live In A Broken World With Fallen PeopleGenesis 3:17-19 defines what happened when sin entered the world. "Cursed is the ground … in pain … all the days of your life … thorns and thistles … by the sweat of your face." In a world that is broken - and with people who are selfish, competitive, and impatient (including me and you) - everything we do is harder and more complicated.
2. Because God Is Sovereign And The Narrative Is Not About UsWe are not the authors of life. Our individual stories are woven into the grand origin-to-destiny narrative that God alone has written. While circumstances may seem out of our control, they have never been outside of the infinitely attentive control of your Father. At the same time, you and I must remember that the narrative of the universe exists solely for the eternal glory of the Creator, not for our momentary pleasure and comfort.
3. Because God Is Ministering To Us And OthersGod is the ultimate definition of what is wise, loving, and good, using these moments to rescue us from our bondage to the kingdom of self and to draw us into a greater allegiance to his Kingdom. Simultaneously, God calls us to be part of what he is doing in the lives of others. Moments of hardship and confusion equip us to minster to others in their times of struggle (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Let's be honest with ourselves and with God: What have these moments revealed about our functional, street-level faith? Maybe what we thought was a robust faith in God's presence, promises, power, wisdom, and love was actually our seeming power to control our circumstances through intelligence, determination, prosperity, or something else.
In love, God will take you where you do want to go in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own. It is uncomfortable grace, but it is still divine, tender grace.
The question is, are you allowing moments of hardship and confusion to produce in you a faith that is stronger, or weaker? Have your responses to hardship and confusion drawn you closer to God, or further away?
In each case, it's your choice. So take hold of the new morning mercies that God makes available! How you respond is contingent on whether you choose God or self.
taken from: https://mailchi.mp/paultripp/wednesdays-word-5-2-2018-confused-and-powerless?e=ecd06331e2