VIDEO Begin Where You Are

Jan 31, 2017

God is the maker and sustainer of all things. He cares for you and graciously gives His love forever. No matter where we are in life, we can rest in that and simply give Him our thanks.

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Loving Perfectly

[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:7–8

Her voice shook as she shared the problems she was having with her daughter. Worried about her teenager’s questionable friends, this concerned mum confiscated her daughter’s mobile phone and chaperoned her everywhere. Their relationship seemed only to go from bad to worse.

When I spoke with the daughter, I discovered that she loves her mum dearly but is suffocating under a smothering love. She longs to break free.

Thank You for being our model in showing us how to live and love.

As imperfect beings, we all struggle in our relationships. Whether we are a parent or child, single or married, we grapple with expressing love the right way, saying and doing the right thing at the right time. We grow in love throughout our lifetime.

In 1 Corinthians 13 the apostle Paul outlines what perfect love looks like. His standard sounds wonderful, but putting that love into practice can be absolutely daunting. Thankfully, we have Jesus as our example. As He interacted with people with varying needs and issues, He showed us what perfect love looks like in action. As we walk with Him, keeping ourselves in His love and steeping our mind in His Word, we’ll reflect more and more of His likeness. We’ll still make mistakes, but God is able to redeem them and cause good to come out of every situation, for His love “always protects” and it “never fails” (vv. 7–8).

Lord, our intentions are good but we fail each other in so many ways. Thank You for being our model in showing us how to live and love.

To show His love, Jesus died for us; to show our love, we live for Him.

INSIGHT:Do you ever find yourself hurting those you love, and maybe even forgetting in the emotion of the moment how much you really do care about them? If so, keep in mind that long before Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13 he was an angry man who was mindlessly hurting the God he thought he knew and loved (Acts 9:1–6). So what brought about Paul’s change? First he needed to see how wrong he’d been about Jesus. He also needed to see that knowing the law is not the same as keeping it—and that he himself needed not only mercy but also the help of the Spirit of God to love others as God loved him. The Spirit who brought him from law to grace now invites and leads us into the loving patience and kindness that our Lord wants to express in and through us.

 

Deal With Distractions

Nehemiah 1:1-11

When Nehemiah was cupbearer to the king, his heart was deeply stirred over the plight of the Israelites back home and the condition of their city. With the king’s permission, he set out to rebuild Jerusalem. He encountered numerous obstacles but refused to let them distract him from the task.

From his example, we learn the importance of:

Being in the center of God’s will. When Nehemiah cried out in prayer about his people and homeland (Neh. 1:4-11), the Lord showed him exactly what to do. Then God caused the king to be favorably disposed toward the request and to provide everything needed. Knowing we are right where God wants us will give us confidence to move through trials without being sidetracked.

Remembering what the goal is. Nehemiah knew that the Lord’s priority for him was to rebuild the city. God has also planned things for us to do, and His work is always of great value. We are not to underestimate our part, no matter how small it seems to us.

Accomplishing each task. Following every crisis, Nehemiah returned to the task at hand. By keeping the Lord’s goal in mind, we’ll be able to stay in our God-appointed place, carry out each step, and remain on course.

Accurately identifying our distractions. Those who seek to interrupt our work, divert our attention, or attack us personally are not from God. With the Father’s help, Nehemiah recognized whom to heed and whom to ignore.

Think about people and situations that are likely to distract you. Being aware of their potential to get you off track can help you stay focused.

He Shall Never See Death

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” (John 8:51)

This passage has been difficult for commentators. Most would interpret it to mean that a Christian will not experience spiritual death. While it is true that a Christian, one who has been born twice (the second birth being a spiritual birth), will not experience spiritual death, in this passage Jesus seems to be talking about physical death. This is evidenced by the fact that the Jewish skeptics around Christ called Him a heretic for saying it, since it was obvious that Abraham and the other prophets had died physically. Christ did not correct them by clarifying His words to mean spiritual death. Despite the fact that the grave is full of those who physically died while believing in Christ, He teaches that His followers will “never see death.”

Actually, the Greek is very emphatic here. The combination of words could be literally translated “He shall absolutely not see [physical] death, never.” Perhaps Christ is teaching that a believer will never see real death, since, to such a one, death is, in reality, only “sleep.”

But perhaps the key to understanding this teaching might be in the word “see.” What does this mean? Several Greek words are translated by the English word “see,” but this one merits special study. It implies a look that is more than indifferent, but one of pondering, intensely interested, preoccupied, and fully acquainted with its object.

A Christian, therefore, will not “see” death with such interest, for his attention will not be on death’s terrors, but upon the One who Himself bore all that death had to offer yet conquered it forever. A Christian can look even at his own approaching death calmly, with passive interest, for it holds little influence over him. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). JDM

“He shall deliver thee in six troubles.”

Job 4:12-21

Eliphaz, the Temanite, though he took a wrong and cruel line of argument with Job, nevertheless, in the course of his reasoning, uttered some grand things: we will read two passages of his first speech. In the first, he shows that weak and erring man must not question the wisdom and justice of God’s actions.

Job 4:12-21

In comparison with God what are men or even angels? Angels have but finite wisdom, and where their wisdom ends folly begins; theirs is not sinful folly, but such as ever must be in creatures when compared with the Omniscient One. Even angels know but little in comparison with God. How then can we think highly of frail beings, who from day to day are dying, and are so accustomed to see each other turn to dust that they think nothing of it? How can a mere insect like man, who is moreover foolish and sinful, dare to call in question the doings of the Eternal God?

Job 5:17-27

In our second extract Eliphaz teaches us not to repine under divine chastisements, for they will be blessed to our highest good.

Job 5:17

Be not averse to it, rebel not against it, ascribe it not to anger, and do not disregard it as if it were a trifle.

Job 5:18

The same Lord is in both our afflictions and our consolations, and he arranges that the one shall be surely followed by the other.

Job 5:19

Trouble may roar upon us, but it cannot devour us. It may vex us, but it shall not do us real harm. If we suffer a perfect number of trials we shall also have an all-sufficient degree of grace.

Job 5:21

a mercy indeed

Job 5:23

The Great Masters dogs will not bite his friends.

Job 5:25

The Friend of the father will be gracious to the children.

Job 5:26-27

We have not only been told this, but we have assured ourselves of it—”We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.”

 

Why should I doubt his love at last,

With anxious thoughts perplex’d?

Who saved me in the troubles pass’d,

Will save me in the next.

 

Will save, till at my latest hour,

With more than conquest bless’d,

I soar beyond temptation’s power,

To my Redeemer’s breast.

 

It’s Time for You To Start Acting Like God!

Ephesians 5:1

Have you ever been in a situation that made you so uncomfortable, you wished you could turn and run, but you knew you had to stay? Did you throw a fit and cry in front of everyone, alerting them to the fact that you were upset? Or did you speak to yourself, telling your emotions to get a grip and to be controlled? Did you make the choice to grit your teeth, put a smile on your face, and act like you were happy to be there, although truthfully that wasn’t what you felt at all?

Let me give you two more common scenarios to consider. Have you ever been depressed, but because you were with other people, you had no choice but to smile, laugh, and act as if everything was fine? Or can you remember a moment when you were having a very upsetting or emotional talk with someone in your household—and suddenly the phone rang? Did you notice how your voice changed from sounding gloomy to sounding like a cheerful welcoming committee when you answered the telephone? “Hello! I’m so glad to hear from you. How are you?”

To disguise what you really were feeling in these different situations, you were required to act. All of us have found ourselves in similar situations.

Acting is an ability that every human being possesses. Children know how to act; teenagers know how to act; husbands and wives know how to act; and employees know how to act. If needed, every person on the planet knows how to switch into an acting mode! Acting is something that everyone can do.

In Ephesians 5:1, the apostle Paul wrote these words: “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.” The word “followers” is the Greek word mimetes. The word mimetes means to imitate someone or to mimic what you see someone else doing. It was also used to describe actors or performing arts artists who acted on the stage for their profession. In addition, mimetes frequently depicted the modeling of a parent, teacher, champion, or hero. When a person was known for his high moral character, others were encouraged to emulate or copy that person.

The word mimetes is frequently used in the New Testament. For instance, Paul used the word mimetes when he told the Corinthians, “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” (1 Corinthians 4:16). This verse could be translated, “I’m urging you to act like me! Watch what I do, and duplicate in your own life everything you see in me….”

In Second Thessalonians 3:7, Paul used the word mimetes when he told the Thessalonians, “For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us….” This could be translated, “It would behoove you to follow our example—to imitate and mimic us with the goal of replicating the things you observe in our lives.”

Hebrews 13:7 also uses the word mimetes. It says, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” The last section of that verse could be translated, “… You need to carefully model your faith after theirs—doing what they do, saying what they say, acting like they act—considering the great maturity and fruit produced by their lives.”

Because Paul uses this word in Ephesians 5:1, he is telling us to model our lives after God. Just as a professional actor is committed to capturing the emotions, looks, voice, character, and even the appearance of the person he is portraying, we are to put our whole heart and soul into imitating God in every sphere of our lives. This means we must make a decision to act like God!

But let’s go back a little to see how Paul begins this verse. He says, “Be ye therefore….” The Greek word used here is the word ginomai; however, here it appears as the word ginesthe and would be better translated: “Be constantly in the process of becoming….” It expresses the idea of someone who has started some action in his life and is now continuing to work on it. He hasn’t arrived at his goal yet, but he is committed to keep working on it and to stay in the process of becoming.

Successfully acting like God is not something you will attain the first time you try. For you to capture the emotions, looks, voice, and character of God—in other words, to successfully replicate Him in your life—will require commitment and time. Don’t expect to arrive at this high level of duplication overnight. Instead, resolve to start where you are today; then do more tomorrow. Keep it up until you finally begin to think like God, talk like God, sound like God, and carry yourself in the confidence of God!

 

When all of this is put together in Ephesians 5:1, it could be interpreted:

“Be constantly in the process of becoming more like Godmaking it your aim to act like Him, to duplicate Him, and to exactly copy Him in every area of your life….”

I noted already that children, parents, husbands, wives, students, and employees have the ability to act. Very early in life, people learn that they must act a certain way in order to get what they want. If their behavior is wrong, they know that they must act differently. Changing behavior requires a decision to do things differently—to speak differently, to think differently, and to act differently. It all starts with a decision.

Why don’t you make a decision to put your unsanctified emotions, thoughts, feelings, and behavior aside, and start acting like God? What would happen to your life, your family, your church, your community, your nation, and the world if you did that? What would happen if you approached every problem acting as God does when He approaches problems? What difference would it make in your life if you acted like God every time you have to deal with an unloving person?

In all these cases, your world would be dramatically affected if you acted like God. Problems would appear very small, and you’d believe you could overcome every one of them. You’d have sufficient love, patience, and forgiveness for every unloving person.

So why don’t you make the decision to take up acting? Resolve today that in every situation, you’re going to imitate your Heavenly Father, the greatest Role Model of all. And remember, when you face a challenge, you don’t have to sit around wondering what God would say or do. His “script”—His anointed Word—is always available to help you learn how to act like Him!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, help me make the decision to put my unsanctified emotions, thoughts, feelings, and behavior aside and to start acting like You. I know that if I approached every problem “acting” like You, it would make a huge difference in my life. You see everything from a viewpoint of power and victory, so please help me to see like You, think like You, and act like You. Help me make the decision to change my way of thinking—to learn how to respond as You do to every situation I am confronted with in life.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I declare by faith that I am going to take up acting! In every situation I face, I am going to imitate the character of my Heavenly Father, successfully replicating Him in every sphere of my life. I know it will require a great deal of time and commitment for me to arrive at this high level of duplication, but I resolve to start where I am today and then do more each day from this moment forward. And I’ll keep up my efforts to act like God until I finally begin to think like Him, talk like Him, sound like Him, and carry myself in His confidence!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. What would happen if you approached every problem acting as God does when He approaches problems?
  2. What difference would it make in your life if you acted like God every time you dealt with an unloving person?
  3. When you are faced with a difficult situation, do you ask yourself what God would say or do?

 

Jesus Christ Called Us To Fish For Men

Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

  • Fishermen are a unique breed. They’re not always understood by the nonfishing fraternity. More often than not, they are looked at kind of oddly. Likewise, fishers of men don’t lend themselves toward neat ecclesiastical job descriptions.
  • Fishermen are passionate. They are willing to rise at godforsaken hours to pursue their love. Likewise, fishers of men are passionate about their devotional life and are not deterred by their need for sleep.
  • Fishermen are people of knowledge and skill. They know the terrain of the stream and where fish like to hide out and what they like to feed on. Likewise, fishers of men know the world people live in and the things they’re being attracted to.
  • Fishermen are characterized by singleness of purpose. They are focused and concentrated on the task at hand, consumed by one simple overarching concern, catching fish. Likewise, fishers of men are highly singular, driven by one desire, to see people become mature disciples. That is, spending personal time daily with God, growing in prayer and understanding the Word (and as a result, living in profound dependence upon Christ), sharing Christ with others, and not only that, but going on to invest time and work in them until they too are reproducing those traits in others.
  • Fishermen are people of adventure. They are always looking for the next bend in the stream, never content with a fished-out hole but always on the lookout for the next productive place in the river. Likewise, fishers of men are never content with maintenance but are always on the lookout for the next opportune spot in the world.
  • Fishermen stick to the basics. Old fishermen aren’t particularly captivated by the latest fads and techniques. Likewise, fishers of men are not easily drawn away from the basics of discipleship, prayer, Scripture and evangelism.
  • Fishermen are eager to share their knowledge and skill with others. They are only too eager to share their passion with someone of like passion. Likewise, fishers of men know the great joy and exhilaration of catching men and are genuinely excited to share that joy with others.
  • Fishermen catch fish. True fishermen don’t use the line, “You should have seen the one that got away.” They, without commenting, just hold up their full stringer. Likewise, fishers of men don’t have any excuses or empty words, just a legacy of men who have been caught for Christ. No bull here.

 

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