VIDEO Secret of Giving (1999)

Dec 30, 2015

As Christmas approaches, a single mother struggles to raise her son and keep up the payments on her Oregon ranch, which is difficult since she’s heavily in debt. But she’s a tough cookie, and proves that a steadfast attitude and an open heart go a long way in surviving the cold hearts and greed of the Scrooges around her.

Choose Life Over Sin

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12

On June 28, 1914, Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, were being driven on the streets of Sarajevo. Unknown to them, an assassin was lying in wait. The assassin’s plan went awry, but his cohort happened to be loitering elsewhere.  Suddenly, the cohort realized the Archduke’s limousine was coming down the street, the Archduke’s driver having taken a wrong turn in the crowded city. Two shots later and the Archduke and Duchess were dead. Four years later, more than sixteen million people were dead from the World War ignited by the assassin. All because of a wrong turn.

That story is true, but it’s an over-dramatization of this fact: Wrong turns can lead to tragic consequences—even death. The Bible says as much about the wrong turns called sin. Think of the deaths that resulted from King David’s sin of adultery: Uriah the Hittite, David and Bathsheba’s son, Amnon, Absalom, and the death of honor. And from those deaths, sorrow was multiplied to all who were affected. Sin gives birth to spiritual and physical death, and death to sorrow.

Pray about every choice, every change in plans. Go slow. Be careful. Reverse any wrong turns. Choose God’s way, not man’s; take the road that leads to life.

Sin pays—but it pays in remorse, regret, and failure.  Billy Graham

Building Intimacy With God

Genesis 16:1-16; Genesis 17:1-8

Intimacy with God doesn’t just happen. It requires determination and a significant investment of time and effort. As we seek closeness with Him, we must learn …

Conflict Resolution. In human disputes, there is usually error on both sides. But if we find ourselves in conflict with God, then we know we are in the wrong—He is always right. When Abraham fathered a child by Hagar, there was great strife in his home. God kept His promise to make Abraham a father of many nations but did not lift the multi-generational discord that resulted from his actions. No matter the circumstances, tension with God can be resolved by yielding our desires and seeking His viewpoint.

Trust. Intimacy grows only in an atmosphere of trust. As we understand God’s character better, our confidence grows, and we are drawn closer to Him. Our part is to show ourselves trustworthy.

Risk Taking. The more we reveal who we are in Christ to those around us, the more we risk facing arguments, experiencing rejection, or being misunderstood. But God understands us fully and promises that we belong to Him forever (John 10:27-29).

Agreement. For us to maintain a close affinity with God, our schedule and plans must reflect that He is a priority. We are to be available for His use and open to His direction.

God designed us for intimacy with Him. All that He requires is our presence and cooperation. What priority have you placed on building a deeper relationship with Him?

So Send I You

“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” (John 20:21)

For approximately three years the disciples had followed Jesus in His travels, had listened to His teaching, and participated in His ministry. They had forsaken “all, and followed him” (Luke 5:11). They had seen Him ridiculed, opposed, oppressed, suffer deprivation, and be rejected by the religious leaders of the day, as well as by most of the common folk. They had watched while Judas, a trusted friend, had betrayed Him and then had fled when the Jewish leaders and a Roman guard arrested Him. This beloved leader, for whom they had had such great hopes and in whom they had placed such great trust, had then been scourged, beaten, spit upon, lied about, and nailed to a cruel cross to die in agony and abject loneliness, even abandoned by His loving heavenly Father.

A few days later, the disciples had “assembled for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19), for perhaps the Jewish leaders were trying to stamp out all semblance of His following, and they feared for their own lives now that Jesus was dead. But suddenly, Jesus stood in their midst and showed to them His hands and His side as proof of His death. Yet, He was alive. “Then were the disciples glad” (v. 20).

We are now prepared to fully appreciate the words of our text. It is as if Jesus said, as my Father has sent me, so I send you, and look what they’ve done to me. But even though suffering and hardship will follow, have no fear. My peace and my Holy Spirit will be with you to assure your ultimate victory (compare verses 21-22).

If we would be His disciples, sent out as He was sent out to accomplish His eternal work here on Earth in His physical absence, we must likewise expect persecution, peace, power, and victory. JDM

“Keep the door of my lips.”

1 Samuel 21:1-3, 6-7

1 Samuel 21:1

David being driven away by Saul from the prophet Samuel, fled at once to the priests. He loved the servants of God, and would not leave their company:

1 Samuel 21:1

Seeing David alone, and evidently in distress, Ahimelech suspected something wrong.

1 Samuel 21:1

Here David spake falsely, and his error is recorded not to his honour, but for our warning. This sad falsehood led to terrible consequences. O that good men could always trust in the Lord.

1 Samuel 21:3, 6

This act was a violation of the ceremonial law, but in a case of necessity it was justified, for the Lord loves mercy better than sacrifice.

1 Samuel 21:7

This man, being full of enmity, hastened away to accuse the priests of succouring a traitor.

1 Samuel 22:9-23

1 Samuel 22:14, 15

The simple-minded high priest was blameless, he knew nothing of the feud between Saul and David. David had deceived him, and Doeg knew that he had done so, but did not mention that circumstance. When we report a matter, we are bound to tell it all, or the most innocent may be made to appear guilty.

1 Samuel 22:18

None but a foreigner would fulfil the cruel edict. This the house of Eli was again smitten as the Lord had threatened, but base was the wretched spy whose one-sided report caused so many murders, and hateful the king who commanded the slaughter.

1 Samuel 22:23

David must have been cut to the heart when he saw the result of his falsehood. The Lord keep each of us true in every word that we utter.

 

Truthfully Assessing Your Situation

Philippians 3:13, 14

Every once in a while, my wife and I take time to seriously and thoughtfully review what we are accomplishing and what we are not accomplishing in our lives and our ministry. We do our best to be very honest with ourselves and each other about these questions.

Taking this kind of look at ourselves and our work is not always pleasant. Sometimes we find areas of glaring failure or areas where we know the Lord expected more of us. But in order for us to see the truth about our lives the way God sees it, He requires us to lay down our pride and be honest with ourselves. In the end, we’re always glad we did the review because it helps us repent for the times we failed, rejoice over what God helped us to accomplish, and make sure we’re on the right course where we will be the most focused and effective.

When other people say, “Wow, you accomplish so much!” we are always glad that they can see fruit in our lives. However, the most important question to us is not what other people think, but what the Lord thinks of us and our accomplishments. Maybe it’s true that we accomplished a lot compared to what others have done. But how we compare to other people and ministries is not the measuring stick we are to use to determine how we are doing.

In Second Corinthians 10:12 (amp), the apostle Paul wrote that when people “… measure themselves with themselves and compare themselves with one another, they… behave unwisely.” This means our measuring stick should never be how we measure up to other human beings. Compared to them, we may have done well, but the real issue is how we “measure up” to the goals the Lord gave us. When we stand before Jesus, He isn’t going to judge us by how we did in comparison to others. He will judge us for how we did with the assignments He gave us to do.

Therefore, you should ask yourself on a regular basis:

  • Am I accomplishing the goals the Lord has given me?
  • Can I stand before Him with a heart free of condemnation, knowing that I gave my very best effort, work, and faith to achieve His will?
  • What, if any, changes do I need to make in my life, schedule, commitment, and financial resources to do what the Lord has told me to do?

Learning to be honest about ourselves, our work, our successes, and our failures is vitally important. We learn from our past mistakes. We ask the Lord to forgive us for our failures. Then we turn our eyes to the present—and we begin to make the necessary corrections in order to start doing better!

When Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he had a lot of time to think, so he sat in that prison and reflected on his life and achievements. He thought about what he had done, what he hadn’t done, and what he still needed to do. I’m sure that, like all of us, Paul was tempted to look at his life in comparison to others. And compared to others, he had done a great deal!

  • He had preached all around the Mediterranean Sea.
  • He had preached in the imperial palace.
  • He had started churches all over Asia Minor.
  • He had written most of the New Testament.
  • He was one of the greatest apostles of his generation.

Paul could have rightfully told himself, I’ve done more than most men will ever dream of doing! I’ve done more than anyone else I know! But rather than revel in his own accomplishments, Paul used that time in prison to truthfully assess his life. Then he wrote these famous words: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, 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).

Notice that Paul said, “I count not myself to have apprehended….” The words “count not” give us insight into the way Paul looked at his life. Paul borrowed these words from the bookkeeping profession. It is the Greek word logidzomai, which originally meant to mathematically count, calculate, or tabulate or to make a conclusion. This word was primarily used in the bookkeeping world to portray the idea of a balance sheet or a profit-and-loss statement that a bookkeeper prepared at the end of the month or year.

You might “think” your business is doing quite well, but when the bookkeeper adds up all the numbers and hands you the profit-and-loss statement to read, that’s the moment you find out how well your business is really doing. You don’t have to guess anymore about your situation, because “the numbers” tell the real story.

Why did Paul use this word as he wrote verse 13? It is obvious that Paul had been seriously reviewing his life. Rather than “guess” about how well he had done, Paul carefully reviewed the original goals God had given him. It is almost as if Paul had written God’s plan for his life on one side of the page and what he had actually accomplished on the other side of the page. After looking at the original goal and truthfully assessing how much of that goal he had accomplished, he wrote, “I count not myself to have apprehended….”

Although Paul had accomplished a great deal in his ministry, he knew he hadn’t done everything he was supposed to do. That is one reason he knew it was not time for him to die. His prison situation was dreadful, and the legal prognosis didn’t look good. But Paul knew it wasn’t time for him to leave yet because he still had so much work to do. (He referred to this work in Philippians 1:22-26.)

I’m sure Paul was thankful for everything he had seen and all that God had already accomplished through him. This is why Paul went on to say, “… but this one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Philippians 3:13). But I want you to stop and think about what Paul was choosing to forget and put behind him!

Some say Paul was forgetting his past life of sin, but he had put that behind him long ago. Now he was putting his past successes and accomplishments behind him. Do you know why he had to do this? Because stopping at past victories is what keeps most people from moving into future victories. They become so fixated on what they have done that they lose sight of what they need to do—and that keeps them from moving forward to possess new territory in God’s plan for their lives!

Think of it like this: Many big corporations lost the cutting edge they once held because they spent most of their energy gloating about how big and how good they were. While they were gloating, some smaller company with dedicated people and a huge vision snuck up from behind and surpassed that larger corporation! Before the larger company knew what was happening, they had lost the leading edge they once held and were no longer the leader. They had spent so much time focusing on the past that someone else passed them by!

Paul knew he had done more than most men, and it was all right for him to cherish those memories. But dwelling on his past accomplishments wasn’t going to get him out of jail or back in the swing of what he needed to be doing. There were still huge parts of his vision that were unfinished. Even though the past had been great and he was thankful to God for every victory he had experienced, it was now time for him to begin reaching forth unto those things which were before him (Philippians 3:13).

You need to rejoice over all that God has already done in your life; however, you must still focus on what you haven’t seen yet! Thinking of the past victories will encourage and remind you of God’s faithfulness, but eventually you have to leave the past behind and turn your eyes to the present and the future. You can’t go forward while constantly looking backward.

  • Yesterday’s victories were for yesterday.
  • Yesterday’s good reports were for yesterday.
  • Yesterday’s accomplishments were for yesterday.

Your future is important, so treat it that way. Look at your life, and seriously appraise your status. Let the Holy Spirit speak to your heart, and be willing to accept what He says to you. Thank God for every victory, but keep your eyes fixed on the future so you can keep marching forward to fulfill every detail of the vision God has put into your heart!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I am so very thankful to You for all the progress I’ve already seen in my life. But today I am turning my eyes to the future because I know You have so much for me to do. I don’t want to miss anything You have designed for me, so I am choosing to turn my attention to the vision and to run my race with all my might! Help me remove anything that would hinder my race so I can press forward toward the prize of the high calling of God for my life!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I boldly confess that I am focused, concentrated, and determined to run my race! God has called me and anointed me; therefore, I can do exactly what He has asked me to do. I have no excuse for failure or any reason to slow down or quit, for God’s Spirit in me is ready to empower me to run this race all the way to the finish. Doing it halfway will never do, so I am committed to seeing this all the way through!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. How long has it been since you assessed your situation to determine the progress you are making in your life, church, or business? How frequently do you take time to review your situation so you can gauge your progress?
  2. Are you stuck in a rut, or are you still moving forward with the same speed and the same passion that once possessed you? Does the vision still burn in your heart?
  3. What alterations do you need to make in your church, business, organization, or ministry in order to get back on track and to start moving forward again?

 

Are You Living A Life Of True Significance?

I may, I suppose, regard myself as a relatively successful man. People occasionally stare at me in the streets. Thats fame; I can fairly easily earn enough money to qualify for admission to the higher slopes of the Internal Revenue Service. Thats success. Furnished with money and a little fame[I] may partake of friendly diversions. Thats pleasure. It might even happenthat something I said or wrote was sufficiently heeded for me to persuade myself that it represented a serious impact on our time. Thats fulfillment

 

I beg you to believe me, multiply these tiny triumphs by millionsand they are nothing, less than nothing.” So wrote the highly visible and “successful” Malcolm Muggeridge.

 

H. L. Mencken sardonically stated, “The problem with life is not that its a tragedy, but that its a bore.

 

King Solomon echoes Mencken’s cynicism in declaring, “For what does a man get for all his toil and for all his hearts striving with which he wearies himselfFor all his days are full of pain and his task vexationseven at night his mind has no rest. This also is emptiness.” (Ecclesiastes 2:22, 23 – Berkeley Translation)

 

We too may have fame, success, pleasure… perhaps even a measure of fulfillment. But the question we must ask of ourselves is, “From Gods perspective, am I living a life of true significance?

 

The following questions may prove helpful in assessing that penetrating inquiry:

 

1. What is my unique role in God’s greater plan? (Romans 12:3-6a; 1 Corinthians 12:1-4)

 

2. What eternal legacy will I leave behind? (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Peter 3:10-14)

 

3. What will it take for me to finish well? (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 15:58; Philippians 3:17-19)

 

4. How can I leverage my life for maximum contribution to my fellow man and for the Kingdom of God? (Proverbs 4:18; Matthew 5:14-30)

 

5. Am I clear in knowing how to get from where I am to where I want to go in life? (Proverbs 17:24; Ephesians 5:14 -17)

 

Only one life will soon be past. Only whats done for Christ will last.