VIDEO Still, I will Soar With You

Jun 12, 2011

“Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever” (Psalm 136:26).

God’s Itinerary

And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. Psalm 139:16b

If a vacationer can afford it, concierge-type travel services can plan and provide for every day—actually, every hour—of an itinerary. From the moment you are picked up at your door until the moment you return, your trip has been planned and executed in detail. For some, eliminating the serendipitous, unplanned moments from a trip removes all the fun. For others, security and not worrying about details is worth the price.

Life as a child of God provides that kind of security. Psalm 139:16 says that God has written down all the days created for us before a single day has come to pass. And Philippians 4:19 says that “my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” That covers the big picture and the details of our trip to heaven. God has arranged the itinerary—the order of our days—and has planned to meet all our needs along the way. So what is there to fear about the future?

Do you know what the future holds? Do you have everything today that you will need in the future? “No” to both questions. But God has already answered “Yes” to both in His Word. We must have faith and courage.

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. Corrie ten Boom

The Spiritual Discipline of Fasting

Acts 13:1-3

Fasting has two important components. One is abstention, which eliminates distractions. The other is undivided attention on God, which allows connection with Him on a deeper level.

Daniel was living under captivity in Babylon when he read God’s promise to free the Israelites after a certain period of time. He earnestly sought the Lord by means of prayer and fasting (Dan. 9:2-3). Then through the angel Gabriel, God gave the young man greater understanding of what He had previously pledged.

Scripture contains other examples as well. When King Jehoshaphat learned that a powerful army was on the offensive, he called for all of Judah to come together and fast (2 Chron. 20:1-4). God gave encouragement and strength for the future. Fasting was also part of the early church’s preparation for choosing its first missionaries, during which the Holy Spirit directed that Barnabas and Saul be commissioned for the work (Acts 13:2).

Fasting does not bring us a quicker answer from God or persuade Him to follow our plan. Instead, it prepares us to see our situation through His eyes and to act on what we learn. At times I have sought the Lord to get His assessment of how I am doing. This discipline has helped me gain His perspective on my life and work.

Fasting involves a strong desire to hear from God, a period of time to connect with Him, and a willingness to abstain from food or some activity. If the idea intimidates you, remember its purpose is preparation so we might draw closer to God and receive His encouragement and direction.

Sacrifice and Service

“Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” (Philippians 2:17)

Paul saw himself as “poured out” as an offering (Greek spendo) on the “sacrifice and service” of these precious friends. This special word is used only one other time, when Paul was “ready to be offered” at his death (2 Timothy 4:6).

Paul’s ministry among the Philippians resulted in the godly lifestyle of the church. They became sacrifices (Greek thusia) much like the Lord Jesus “hath given himself for us” (Ephesians 5:2) and as we are all told to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [our] reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

The service that is commended of the Philippians is a public service undertaken at one’s own expense (Greek leitourgia). Several men in the church at Antioch were noted for their ministry (Acts 13:2 uses the same word), and some in Macedonia and Achaia were also acknowledged for giving contributions to the saints at Jerusalem (Romans 15:26-27).

Paul’s joy and rejoicing at the godly activity of the faithful saints at Philippi are the key to understanding the tone of the entire book. He had “poured out” himself, even being “shamefully entreated” during his ministry there (1 Thessalonians 2:2). Yet while writing this poignant letter back to the church, he gives joyful greetings to them at the certain knowledge that his ministry among them has resulted in their sacrifice and service.

Would God that all of us could see our offerings for the sake of others with the same passionate expectation. Often our Lord calls on us to give of ourselves in selfless ways so that others may learn from our example. Sometimes, we must even pour out our own souls (1 Thessalonians 2:8) for the sake of the gospel. HMM III

Is Truth Divorced from Life?

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word…. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. —Psalm 119:9, 11

There is scarcely anything so dull and meaningless as Bible doctrine taught for its own sake. Truth divorced from life is not truth in its biblical sense, but something else and something less. Theology is a set of facts concerning God, man and the world. These facts may be and often are set forth as values in themselves; and there lies the snare both for the teacher and for the hearer….

The Bible, however, is more than a volume of hitherto unknown facts about God, man and the universe. It is a book of exhortation based upon those facts. By far the greater portion of the book is devoted to an urgent effort to persuade people to alter their ways and bring their lives into harmony with the will of God….

No man is better for knowing that God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth. The devil knows that, and so did Ahab and Judas Iscariot. No man is better for knowing that God so loved the world of men that He gave His only begotten Son to die for their redemption. In hell there are millions who know that. Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action. OGM025-026

Lord, help me move beyond knowing You and Your Word only academically. Lead me to obedience, to submission and to proper moral action. Amen.

Are You Weak in Discipleship

Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. (Hebrews 13:13)

The absence of the concept of discipleship from present-day Christianity leaves a vacuum which men and women instinctively try to fill with a variety of substitutes.

One is a kind of pietism—an enjoyable feeling of affection for the person of our Lord, which is valued for itself and is wholly unrelated to cross-bearing.

Another substitute is literalism—which manifests itself among us by insisting on keeping the letter of the Word while ignoring its spirit. It habitually fails to apprehend the inward meaning of Christ’s words and contents itself with external compliance with the text.

A third substitute surely is zealous religious activity. “Working for Christ” has today been accepted as the ultimate test of godliness among all but a few evangelical Christians. Christ has become a project to be promoted or a cause to be served, instead of a Lord to be obeyed! To avoid the snare of unauthorized substitution, I recommend careful and prayerful study of the Lordship of Christ and the discipleship of the believer!

To this man will I look

To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.” Stoop if you would climb to heaven. Do we not say of Jesus, “He descended that He might ascend?” So must you. You must grow downwards, that you may grow upwards; for the sweetest fellowship with heaven is to be had by humble souls, and by them alone. God will deny no blessing to a thoroughly humbled spirit. Humility makes us ready to be blessed by the God of all grace, and fits us to deal efficiently with our fellow-men. Whether it be prayer or praise, whether it be work or suffering, the genuine salt of humility cannot be used in excess.