Look at the Tassels – The Service of Passionate Devotion

Look at the Tassels
Remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them. —Numbers 15:39

Best-selling author Chaim Potok began his novel The Chosen by describing a baseball game between two Jewish teams in New York City. Reuven Malter, the book’s main character, notices that the opposing players’ uniforms have a unique accessory—four long ropelike tassels that extend below each teammate’s shirt. Reuven recognizes the tassels as a sign of strict obedience to God’s Old Testament laws.

The history of these fringes—known as tzitzit—began with a message from God. Through Moses, God told His people to create tassels containing some strands of blue thread and attach them to the four corners of their top garments (Num. 15:38). God said, “You may look upon [the tassels] and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them” (v. 39).

God’s memory device for the ancient Israelites has a parallel for us today. We can look at Christ who consistently kept the whole law in our place and obeyed His heavenly Father (John 8:29). Having received His work on our behalf, we now “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Rom. 13:14). Keeping our eyes on God’s Son helps us to honor our heavenly Father.

Dear Jesus, thank You for being my spiritual role model. Help me to walk in Your steps so that I can honor and obey God with the Holy Spirit’s help.

If Christ is the center of your life, you’ll always be focused on Him.

By Jennifer Benson Schuldt

The Service of Passionate Devotion

…do you love Me?…Tend My sheep. —John 21:16

Jesus did not say to make converts to your way of thinking, but He said to look after His sheep, to see that they get nourished in the knowledge of Him. We consider what we do in the way of Christian work as service, yet Jesus Christ calls service to be what we are to Him, not what we do for Him. Discipleship is based solely on devotion to Jesus Christ, not on following after a particular belief or doctrine. “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate…, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). In this verse, there is no argument and no pressure from Jesus to follow Him; He is simply saying, in effect, “If you want to be My disciple, you must be devoted solely to Me.” A person touched by the Spirit of God suddenly says, “Now I see who Jesus is!”— that is the source of devotion.

Today we have substituted doctrinal belief for personal belief, and that is why so many people are devoted to causes and so few are devoted to Jesus Christ. People do not really want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. Jesus Christ is deeply offensive to the educated minds of today, to those who only want Him to be their Friend, and who are unwilling to accept Him in any other way. Our Lord’s primary obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of people— the saving of people was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father.

If I am devoted solely to the cause of humanity, I will soon be exhausted and come to the point where my love will waver and stumble. But if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity, even though people may treat me like a “doormat.” The secret of a disciple’s life is devotion to Jesus Christ, and the characteristic of that life is its seeming insignificance and its meekness. Yet it is like a grain of wheat that “falls into the ground and dies”— it will spring up and change the entire landscape (John 12:24).

By Oswald Chambers

Our Caring and Able Father – The Lost Boys

Our Caring and Able Father

2 Chronicles 20:1-4

Everyone faces challenges in life. Whether our struggles are financial, vocational, relational, or physical, we can be certain that nobody is exempt. Fortunately, we serve a God who is both interested in our problems and able to take care of them.

When trouble looms, prayer is always a good first step to take. But having a foundation upon which to build our prayers also makes a difference. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, faced an enormous challenge. Three different tribes—the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites—simultaneously waged war against him. Most leaders would have crumbled under such pressure, or at the very least taken drastic measures, but Jehoshaphat was a wise leader. Though afraid, he did not strike out against his enemies. Instead, knowing that God was interested in his dilemma, he “turned his attention to seek the Lord” and proclaimed a fast throughout the land (2 Chronicles 20:1-3).

Jehoshaphat also knew that God, who was more powerful than any earthly problem, had done miraculous things for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David. That same God would help him, too, in his hour of need. We should never underestimate the Lord’s interest in our affairs. He helped our biblical ancestors, and He can and will help His children today.

It’s easy to think our problems are unimportant in God’s eyes, but He doesn’t feel that way at all. Whatever concerns us concerns Him. If we, like Jehoshaphat, turn to the Lord and proclaim His power, He will intervene. And no matter how great our challenges are, God is greater.

The Lost Boys

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!
1 John 3:1a

God’s generosity toward us is highlighted in the parable of the Prodigal Son, which is really about two lost sons. One of them physically runs away from home and wastes his father’s inheritance. The other son, although physically present, remains emotionally distant. He does not understand or accept his father’s love. Instead, he is focused on earning the father’s approval.

Although it’s easy to lose sight of God, He is waiting for us to return. God is not a reluctant Father; He created us and, like the father in the parable, stands ready to welcome us back into relationship. Just as a loving earthly father provides for, protects, and invests in his children, God does all this and more. He sustains our bodies and souls. He hears our prayers and delights in being intimately involved in our day-to-day lives. When we begin to grasp who He is and the relationship He longs to have with us, we find the peace, confidence, security, and meaning we are searching for.

Our heavenly Father understands our disappointment, suffering, pain, fear, and doubt. He is always there to encourage our hearts and help us understand that He’s sufficient for all of our needs. When I accepted this as an absolute truth in my life, I found that my worrying stopped. Charles Stanley

Higher Ground

“Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Over the years, Christians have used many hymns to enhance the study of Scripture. Consider one such hymn, “Higher Ground,” as an impetus to our own study. Its refrain encapsulates the desire of many Christians.

Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

Many Christians live on a “plateau,” enjoying the Christian life around them, but inwardly they yearn for something more, something deeper and more lasting. They long to make a difference in the lives of their friends, lost or unlost. They want to live in victory over sin. They want more fruitfulness from their witness. They desire a deeper walk with God and to live by faith, living in a way that pleases God.

No longer satisfied with the accustomed “plateau,” they pray for God to grant them a “tableland” or “higher ground.” But this high ground is not one from which simply to minister. It is to know God in His entirety. We desire the same as Paul: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).

This may be the most lasting message we can take from this song. We want to know God more fully and serve as more effective Christians. We are encouraged to plant our feet on higher ground and be eternally more abundant as Christians. JDM

Worship with a Stench

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil. —Isaiah 1:16

Let us suppose we are back in the old days of the high priest, who took incense into the sanctum and went behind the veil and offered it there. And let us suppose that rubber—the worst-smelling thing I can think of when it burns—had been available in those days. Let us suppose that chips of rubber had been mixed with the incense, so that instead of the pure smoke of the spices filling the temple with sweet perfume, there had been the black, angry, rancid smell of rubber mixed with it. How could a priest worship God by mixing with the sweet-smelling ingredients some foul ingredient that would be a stench in the nostrils of priest and people?

So how can we worship God acceptably when there is within our nature something that, when it catches on fire, gives off not a fragrance but a smell? How can we hope to worship God acceptably when there is something in our nature which is undisciplined, uncorrected, unpurged, unpurified—which is evil and which will not and cannot worship God acceptably? Even granted that a man with evil ingredients in his nature might with some part of him worship God half acceptably, what kind of a way is that to live?

Purify my heart. Bring to my remembrance anything that might be a stench in Your holy nostrils. Cleanse me, that my worship this morning might be a sweet perfume, pleasing to You in every way. Amen.

The True Christian: Still an Enigma to the World

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. Ephesians 4:15

Today, as in all the centuries, true Christians are an enigma to the world, a thorn in the flesh of Adam, a puzzle to angels, the delight of God and a habitation of the Holy Spirit!

Our fellowship ought to take in all of the true children of God, regardless of who and where and what, if they are washed in the blood, born of the Spirit, walking with God the Father, begotten unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and rejoicing in the salvation to be revealed!

The true Christian fears God with a trembling reverence and yet he is not afraid of God at all. He draws nigh to Him with full assurance of faith and victory, and yet at the same time is trembling with holy awe and fear.

The world will never understand that the Christian, though born on earth, still knows by faith that he is a citizen of heaven!

Some of our critics say: “You Christians talk about yourself and your relation to God as if you were God’s very best!”

I have a good answer to that. The very Christian who believes that he is the apple of God’s eye is the same unselfish Christian who is giving sacrificially of his money, sending his sons and daughters or going himself to preach the gospel to the least and the last of the peoples of the earth!

The Conditions of Peace

He… came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas… and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? ACTS 16:29-30

In a world like ours, with conditions being what they are, what should a serious-minded man or woman do?

First, accept the truth concerning yourself. You do not go to a doctor to seek consolation, but to find out what is wrong and what to do about it.

Then seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Seek through Jesus Christ a right relationship to God and then insist upon maintaining a right relation to your fellow man.

Set about reverently and honestly to amend your doings. Magnify God, mortify the flesh, simplify your life. Take up your cross and learn of Jesus Christ, to die to this world that He may raise you up in due time.

If you will do these things in faith and love, you will know peace—the peace of God that passes all understanding.

You will know joy—the joy of resurrection. You will know too the comfort of the indwelling Spirit of God, for you have sought to do the will of God at any price!

Dear Lord, teach me and my family what it means to both live in this world and at the same time “die to this world” for the sake of Christ.