Dangerous Shortcuts

Detour
[Jesus said,] “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” —Matthew 4:4

During recent elections in my country, one struggling mom I know exchanged her vote for a bag of diapers. We had discussed the benefits of each candidate, so her choice disappointed me. “But what about your convictions?” I asked. She remained silent. Six months after her candidate won, taxes went even higher. Everything is now more expensive than before . . . even diapers!

In countries around the world, political corruption is not new. Spiritual corruption is not new either. Satan tried to lure Jesus into “selling” His convictions (Matt. 4:1-10). The tempter came to Him when He was tired and hungry. He offered Him immediate satisfaction, fresh bread in seconds, a miraculous delivery, the kingdoms of the world and their glory.

But Jesus knew better. He knew that shortcuts were dangerous enemies. They may offer a road free from suffering, but in the end the pain they carry is much worse than anything we can imagine. “It is written,” Jesus said three times during His temptation (vv.4,7,10). He held firm to what He knew was true from God and His Word.

When we are tempted, God can help us too. We can depend on Him and the truth of His Word to help us avoid dangerous shortcuts. By Keila Ochoa

One of the most compelling elements of the temptations of Jesus is found in Matthew 4:1, where we read that it was the Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested. This surprising action of the Spirit immediately follows the baptism of Jesus where the Spirit descended upon Him, indicating the Father’s endorsement of the Son (Matt. 3:16-17).

Help me not to take shortcuts to satisfaction, Lord. Help me to run to You and Your Word for the strength to fight the enemy. I’m confident that You will be there to help me.

God’s road is not easy, but it leads to eternal satisfaction.

Freedom From Self-Rejection

What God Knows About Me
Romans 5:5-8

We saw yesterday that many people struggle with a poor self-image and find it hard to accept themselves. Often, the thought patterns contributing to their perception have existed for years. How, then, can the cycle be broken?

The basis for a Christian’s acceptance is Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. But to eliminate wrong patterns of thought and behavior, it takes more than simply knowing why we are accepted—we must meditate on God’s truth. As we saturate our minds with His Word, the Holy Spirit will work in our subconscious to filter out erroneous thinking and develop a healthier outlook. For instance, the Scriptures tell us that believers should have a . . .

• Sense of belonging. Romans 8:15-17 says that Christians are members of the heavenly Father’s family. And God also assures us, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).

• Sense of worth. Our value does not change with circumstances. Rather, it is based in God’s infinite and unchanging love, the proof of which is Christ’s sacrificial death on our behalf (Rom. 5:5-8).

• Sense of competence. Romans 8:11 teaches that the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us. We are unable to successfully live the Christian life on our own, but when we are obedient, the Spirit guides us and enables us to be victorious.

Rely on the truth, and appropriate feelings will eventually follow. Scripture says that if you believe in Jesus Christ, you belong, you are worthwhile, and you are competent in Him. Allow these three facts to permeate your being.

Yesterday’s post
https://stopandpraytv.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/identifying-self-rejection/

The Poetry of God

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

The word “poem” is derived from the Greek poiema. Used only twice in the New Testament, it refers to two great works of God Himself. Thus, God is the divine poet who has created two great masterpieces—artistic creations of marvelous intricacy and surpassing beauty.

The first is the entire physical universe: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). In this key verse, poiema is translated “things that are made.” Everything in the universe, animate and inanimate, constitutes a marvelous product of God’s creative forethought and inventive skill. If a beautiful poem requires a poet to create it, so much the more does the complex cosmic poem of the universe demand a great poet of consummate wisdom and infinite power. The rejection of the poet and the message of the poem not only leaves one “without excuse” (v. 20), but facing “the wrath of God” (v. 18).

Yet an even more amazing poem is the work of transforming redemption accomplished in a lost soul saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). For then it is we, ourselves, who become His poem! This also is a great creative masterpiece, for “we are his workmanship [same word, Greek poiema], created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” A life once dead in sin, now born again and walking in good works—this is God’s greatest poetic masterpiece of all!

Both the mighty universe and the soul made new in Christ are special creations of God, and both manifest His greatness and His love. “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15) of grace. HMM

Spiritual Leadership of Anointed Men

For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption. —Acts 13:36

The life ideal was described by the apostle in the Book of Acts: “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep” (Acts 13:36).

We submit that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to improve upon this. It embraces the whole sphere of religion, appearing as it does in its three directions: God, the individual, society. Within that simple triangle all possible human activities are carried on. To each of us there can be but these three dimensions: God, myself, others. Beyond this we cannot go, nor should we even attempt to go. If we serve God according to His own will, and in doing so serve our generation, we shall have accomplished all that is possible for any human being.

David was smart enough to serve God and his generation before he fell asleep. To fall asleep before we have served our generation is nothing short of tragic. It is good to sleep at last, as all our honored fathers have done, but it is a moral calamity to sleep without having first labored to bless the world. No man has any right to die until he has put mankind in debt to him.

Lord, keep me faithful. Let me serve my present generation well, for Your glory, before You take me home. Amen.

A Bible Fact: A Regenerated Man Knows God

Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. Acts 27:25

The Bible assumes as a self-evident fact that men can know God with at least the same degree of immediacy as they know any other person or thing that comes within the field of their experience.

The same terms are used to express the knowledge of God as are used to express knowledge of physical things:

“O TASTE and see that the Lord is good.”
“All thy garments SMELL of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia.”
“My sheep HEAR my voice.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall SEE God.”

These are but four of countless such passages from the Word of God. And more important than any proof text is the fact that the whole import of the Scripture is toward this belief.

We apprehend the physical world by exercising the faculties given us for the purpose, and we possess spiritual faculties by means of which we can know God and the spiritual world if we will obey the Spirit’s urge and begin to use them.

That a saving work must first be done in the heart is taken for granted here.

The spiritual faculties of the unregenerate man lie asleep in his nature; they may be quickened to active life again by the operation of the Holy Spirit in regeneration!

The Crowd Turns Back

From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. JOHN 6:66

Our Lord Jesus Christ called men to follow Him, but He plainly taught that “no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (John 6:65).

It is not surprising that many of His early followers, upon hearing these words, went back and walked no more with Him. Such teaching cannot but be deeply disturbing to the natural mind. It takes from sinful men much of the power of self-determination. It cuts the ground out from under their self-help and throws them back upon the sovereign good pleasure of God—and that is precisely where they do not want to be!

These statements by our Lord run contrary to the current assumptions of popular Christianity. Men are willing to be saved by grace, but to preserve their self-esteem, they must hold that the desire to be saved originated with them.

Most Christians today seem afraid to talk about these plain words of Jesus concerning the sovereign operation of God—so they use the simple trick of ignoring them!

Dear Lord, I do not want to be counted among those who turn their backs on You. I want to follow You, Lord. Guide me today.