VIDEO Servant’s Primary Goal

“We make it our aim….” It requires a conscious decision and effort to keep our primary goal constantly in front of us. It means holding ourselves to the highest priority year in and year out; not making our first priority to win souls, or to establish churches, or to have revivals, but seeking only “to be well pleasing to Him.” It is not a lack of spiritual experience that leads to failure, but a lack of working to keep our eyes focused and on the right goal. At least once a week examine yourself before God to see if your life is measuring up to the standard He has for you. Paul was like a musician who gives no thought to audience approval, if he can only catch a look of approval from his Conductor.

Any goal we have that diverts us even to the slightest degree from the central goal of being “approved to God” (2 Timothy 2:15) may result in our rejection from further service for Him. When you discern where the goal leads, you will understand why it is so necessary to keep “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). Paul spoke of the importance of controlling his own body so that it would not take him in the wrong direction. He said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest…I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

I must learn to relate everything to the primary goal, maintaining it without interruption. My worth to God publicly is measured by what I really am in my private life. Is my primary goal in life to please Him and to be acceptable to Him, or is it something less, no matter how lofty it may sound?

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

The emphasis to-day is placed on the furtherance of an organization; the note is, “We must keep this thing going.” If we are in God’s order the thing will go; if we are not in His order, it won’t.  Conformed to His Image, 357 R


Jul 16, 2010

All that I am, all that I have
I lay them down before you, oh Lord
All my regrets, all my acclaims
The joy and the pain, I’m making them yours

(Chorus)
Lord, I offer my life to you
Everything I’ve been through
Use it for your glory
Lord I offer my days to you
Lifting my praise to you
As a pleasing sacrifice
Lord I offer you my life

(Verse 2)
Things in the past, things yet unseen
Wishes and dreams that are yet to come true
All of my heart, all of my praise
My heart and my hands are lifted to you

(Chorus)
Lord, I offer my life to you
Everything I’ve been through
Use it for your glory
Lord I offer my days to you
Lifting my praise to you
As a pleasing sacrifice
Lord I offer you my life

(Bridge)
What can we give
That you have not given?
And what do we have
That is not already yours?
All we possess
Are these lives we’re living
That’s what we give to you, Lord

(Chorus)
Lord, I offer my life to you
Everything I’ve been through
Use it for your glory
Lord I offer my days to you
Lifting my praise to you
As a pleasing sacrifice
Lord I offer you my life

(Chorus)
Lord, I offer my life to you
Everything I’ve been through
Use it for your glory
Lord I offer my days to you
Lifting my praise to you
As a pleasing sacrifice
Lord I offer you my life
Lord I offer you my life

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A Clean Rap Sheet

Love . . . thinks no evil. 1 Corinthians 13:5b

A rap sheet is often referred to as a Record of Arrests and Prosecutions, though that likely wasn’t its original meaning. Centuries ago it referred to a punishment as in a “rap on the knuckles.” Regardless of origin, today a rap sheet is a record of an individual’s criminal history. Unless a crime is officially expunged from the record, it stays there forever.

What if God kept a rap sheet in heaven on us—a permanent record of all our sins and failures? Every time we violated God’s righteous standards, our rap sheet would grow longer. Fortunately, the New Testament says that God took the list of all our violations against His law and nailed it to the cross of Christ, forever to be cancelled (Colossians 2:13-14). Our rap sheet has been erased and made clean. We have been forgiven by God. And because we have been forgiven, we are to forgive others as God in Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). God is love (1 John 4:8, 16), and Paul writes that love “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5b, NIV). If we are to love as God loves, we will keep no record of wrongs either.

There is no escaping being hurt and wronged in this life. Just make sure you forgive as God forgives and keep no record of those wrongs.

Forgiveness is God’s command. Martin Luther

Can You Afford Not To Trust Your Conscience?

1 Timothy 1:18-19

To enable us to distinguish between what is morally right and wrong, God has given us a conscience. It is His gift to help us avoid shipwreck in our lives. Your conscience serves as a kind of spiritual radar; the condition you keep it in will determine how much you can trust it.

The sacred conscience is one that has been kept spotless through confession of sin (1 John 1:9) and reflects a desire to know and follow God’s will. Once we are cleansed, we can live without guilt, walking openly and transparently before the Lord. When we do sin, we know immediately that we need to get right with God.

The struggling conscience is clogged with rules and regulations, and its spirit of legalism makes us critical of our performance. Having created our own radar system of “should, ought, and must,” we’ve used it to determine right or wrong. In doing so, we fail to understand God’s righteousness, which can never be replaced with self-righteousness.

The soiled conscience is stained from harboring sin. If we consistently choose our way over God’s, we lose sight of what’s suitable and true. Excuses like “I can’t help it” add to our lack of peace and the unreliability of our inner compass.

The seared conscience is insensitive to sin. When we continually resist and ignore its warnings, such a conscience will, over time, become numb to moral alarm.

Ask God to show you how well your internal conscience is operating, and then allow Him to restore it.

He Who Made the Stars

“Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.” (Amos 5:8)

This striking exhortation is inserted in the midst of a prophetic rebuke by God of His people Israel. They were rapidly drifting into pagan idolatry, and Amos was trying to call them back.

His exhortation, given almost 2,800 years ago, is more needed today than it ever was before. Modern pagan scientists have developed elaborate but absurdly impossible theories about the chance origin of the universe from nothing, and the evolution of stars, planets, and people from primordial hydrogen. But the mighty cosmos and its galaxies of stars—even the very constellations, such as Orion and the Pleiades (the “seven stars”), as well as the solar system—were made. All of these had to be made by an omniscient, omnipotent Creator, who certainly had a glorious purpose for it all.

Similarly, the global evidences that waters once covered all the earth’s mountains (i.e., marine fossils and water-laid sediments at their summits) cannot possibly be explained—as evolutionary geologists try to do—by slow processes acting over aeons of time. God, the Creator, had to call massive volumes of water forth from their original reservoirs and pour them out on the earth in His Flood judgment on a rebellious world.

All of these witness to the fact of creation and judgment, not to impotent “gods” personifying natural forces. Men urgently need to seek the true God of creation and salvation before judgment falls again, for “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). HMM

“Pride goeth before destruction.”

Exodus 7:1-5, 10-22

Exodus 7:1-5

God’s judgments hardened Pharaoh’s heart. They are sure to harden if they do not soften. The monarch was of such a nature that terrors and plagues only made his spirit more unbending.

Exodus 7:10

They had delivered their message, they here show their credentials.

Exodus 7:11-13

He concluded that Moses was only a magician, like those in his own pay, and he therefore again defied the power of Jehovah.

Exodus 7:14-18

They had before defiled the river with the blood of innocents, and now it appears to them in blood-red colours; as if it published aloud their murderous deeds.

Exodus 7:19-21

Horrible! A crowd of horrors! Their drink becomes blood; the river which they accounted sacred pours forth an intolerable stench; the delicious water grows worse than putrid; and the fish which were a great part of their food float dead upon the abominable stream! This was a plague indeed.

Exodus 7:22

Proud Pharaoh cares not. His magicians ingeniously imitate the miracle by sleight of hand, and the heartless king cares nothing for the sufferings of his people.

 

Lo, Moses scatters plagues of wrath,

A ministry of fire and death,

But our Immanuel cometh forth,

With life and love in every breath.

 

He turn’d their water into blood,

For vengeance was his dread design:

But, thanks to our incarnate God,

He turn’d our water into wine.

 

Stick Your Neck Out—Commit Yourself to Someone!

2 Timothy 2:2

Can you think of an occasion when you were hurt by someone so badly that you were tempted to think, That’s it! I’ll never give my heart to anyone like that ever again! This hurts too much to go through this a second time. I’ve had all the abuse I can take, and I’ll never put my neck back on the chopping block again!

I think everyone has been through heart-wrenching experiences of betrayal, disloyalty, deception, and unfaithfulness in his or her relationships with others. Sometimes people put on one face in front of you but show a totally different side when they are out of your presence. Maybe it was a close friend you thought would be faithful to you forever; but then that person walked out on you, stabbing you in the back as he exited! Or perhaps you had a trusted friend whom you confided in, but he violated your trust by repeating all the private things you had shared with him.

There’s no doubt about it—it hurts when you find out that certain people in your life have been unfaithful, especially if they were people who you sincerely believed would be loyal to the end. These feelings of hurt must be exactly what Timothy felt as he was serving as senior pastor of the church of Ephesus. After investing his life into his group of leaders for three years—spending time with them, loving them, caring for them, teaching them, forgiving them, and literally pouring his whole heart and soul into them, as pastors are required to do— Timothy correctly expected a return on his investment. In other words, he expected those leaders to stay with him forever!

The return Timothy anticipated from his leaders was commitment and faithfulness. For those same men to deny him their loyalty after all he had poured into them was a flagrant violation of relationship, yet that is precisely what they did. The majority of those leaders walked out of the church and deserted Timothy.

It is a historical fact that because of Nero’s persecutions against the Church, masses of believers left the Ephesian church and returned to their old pagan temples. The fires of persecution had revealed the genuine level of these people’s commitment to Jesus. When they realized they might die for their faith, they reevaluated their commitment and deserted the Lord, the Church, and their pastor in order to save their lives.

Many of those who left the church of Ephesus were the leaders Timothy had trained and poured his life into. Timothy thought he could count on these leaders to serve at his side in both good and hard times. But now hard times had come, and the ones he had assumed he could trust walked out and abandoned him.

As a result, Timothy had a severe deficit of leaders whom he could rely on and was facing the task of selecting new leaders. So Paul tells him, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men….”

These are pretty heavy instructions for Paul to give his young disciple! Timothy had already been “burned” once after giving his life to a group of people. He knew what it felt like to have people he trusted stab him in the back. Nevertheless, Paul now tells Timothy to choose a new group and start all over again!

At that moment, Timothy’s emotional pain must have been enormous. I’m sure Paul’s words were hard for him to hear. Just as you and I have felt in the past, he probably thought, Forget it! I’ve already been through this pain once, and I don’t like the idea of going through it again. I’ll just pastor this church by myself.

But it’s not possible to do any monumental job alone. Therefore, if a person has been hurt, he eventually has to get over it, choose new leaders and friends, and start over again. That is why Paul told him, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men….”

The word “commit” comes from the Greek compound word paratithimi, a compound of the words para and tithimi. The word para is a Greek word that means alongside. It refers to something that is near or close by. But in Second Timothy 2:2, it presents a picture of close relationships.

The second part of the word is the Greek word tithimi, meaning to place, to lay something down, or to position something. When the words para and tithimi are compounded together, creating the word paratithimi, it means to come close in order to make some type of deposit, like a person who goes to the bank to place a deposit into the repository for safekeeping. Significantly, this is now the word Paul uses when he tells Timothy to “commit” himself to a new group of leaders.

Timothy clearly understood Paul’s instruction. He was to pick a new group of leaders, come closely alongside of them, and deposit his life into them. The Greek word para made it plain that this was not something that could be done from a distance. Timothy would be required to push aside his hurt and pain and to make himself vulnerable to a new group of leaders; in other words, he had to give his heart a second time.

Because of Timothy’s past experience with leaders who had defected, this order from Paul may have been one of the scariest thoughts the younger minister had ever had. Timothy may have thought, Wait a minute! I already poured my life into one group of people. But when I needed them—when I needed to draw on that deposit—they were gone! My last deposit in people didn’t work out too well. They hurt me. I don’t know if I’m willing to make that kind of investment in people again!

Timothy may have asked himself, Isn’t this taking things one step too far? Does God really expect me to stick out my neck all over again after I’ve been hurt? But that is exactly what Paul was telling him to do—and it’s what you must do as well! Stick out your neck and your heart, and try again!

 

The use of the word paratithimi meant that Paul wanted Timothy to understand this message:

“… You need to choose some new people who have proven themselves faithful. Pull up alongside those people; get as close to them as you can so you can deposit everything you are and everything you know into them.”

Timothy’s future depended on how well he was able to connect and work with other people. The same is true with your future. Rather than allow the pain from past experiences to paralyze you today, you must do what Paul commanded Timothy to do: Put the past away; decide to quit focusing on how others have failed you; and begin to search for a new group of people or friends so you can start over again. If you don’t do this, the devil will have the victory over you—paralyzing and immobilizing you, effectively preventing you and your gifts from ever being fully realized. Don’t give the devil the pleasure of that victory!

It’s time for you to grab hold of the power of God and to emerge out of your place of hiding! It may be true that a person or a group of people hurt you in the past, but there are friends out there who are just waiting for you. They are the ones who will be faithful and steadfast all the way to the end. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and direct you to them. Once you connect with them, you’ll be so thankful that you didn’t hide from relationships for the rest of your life and that you took the bold step to start all over again!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, help me overcome the hurts and disappointment I’ve experienced because of people who proved to be unfaithful. When I am tempted to judge those who have wronged me, help me remember those whom I myself have wronged in the past. Just as I never intended to hurt anyone, help me realize that my offenders probably didn’t intend to hurt me either. As I was forgiven then, I am asking You now to help me forgive—and not just to forgive, but to stick out my neck again and begin to rebuild my life with other people in the Body of Christ!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I don’t hold grudges or bitterness against anyone who has wronged me in the past. Just as I’ve been forgiven, I freely forgive. As others gave me a second chance, I give people the benefit of the doubt and allow them to prove themselves even if they’ve done something to hurt me. The devil can’t paralyze me with fears of being hurt again, because I refuse to allow that kind of fear to operate inside me. I have too much to do to let the devil immobilize me with something that happened to me in the past, so I confess right now that I am freed from every past hurt and I am moving forward to possess all that God has for me!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Has anyone ever let you down so badly that you felt like you never wanted to stick out your neck and risk getting hurt again?
  2. Have you ever been the source of this type of pain to someone else? If your answer is yes, did you ever go back to that person to repent for being the source of his or her pain?
  3. What can you do differently in your relationships today to make sure that never happens again?

You must decide to quit focusing on how others have failed you and begin to search for a new group of people or friends so you can start over again. If you don’t do this, the devil will have the victory over you—paralyzing and immobilizing you, effectively preventing you and your gifts from ever being fully realized.

 

From Wealthy Rancher To Impoverished Cave-Dweller

That’s the story of Lot, the nephew of Abraham. Here’s how he did it:

 

LOT MADE THREE BAD DECISIONS:

 

1. He embraced the negative values of Abraham:

 

Lot observed Abraham as he sacrificed Sarah to Pharaoh to save his neck. Years later, Lot also attempted to save his neck (and those of his house guests), by offering to give his daughters to the men of Sodom (See Genesis 12:1-12; 19:4-8).

 

2. He allowed himself to be overtaken by greed:

 

When prosperity forced Abraham and Lot to separate, Lot ravenously chose the better portion of land for himself (Genesis 13:1-11).

 

3. He loved the world’s sinful environment:

 

After separating from Abraham, he settled next to wicked Sodom (Genesis 13:12; 19:15, 16).

 

LOT SUFFERED THREE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES:

 

1. He demonstrated no confidence in God’s Word:

 

When the angels told him to flee Sodom, he hesitated and sought a compromise (Genesis 19:16-20).

 

2. He destroyed his family spiritually:

  • His sons-in-law had no respect for God’s Word when spoken by him (Genesis 19:14).
  • His wife lost her life by embracing his values (Genesis 19:17, 26).
  • His daughters (who, no doubt were traumatized by his disregard for them) stooped to an incestuous relationship with him in order to preserve the family line (Genesis 19:4-8, 32-36).

3. He experienced the reduction of his life from rancher to an impoverished cave-dweller (Genesis 13:5, 6; 19:30).

 

Perhaps the most astonishing thing about this story is Peter’s assessment of this rancher gone awry, in referring to him as “Righteous Lot” (See 2 Peter 2:7). If that isn’t the grace of God, I don’t know what is!

 

 

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