Feb 13, 2017
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Feb 13, 2017
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No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. John 3:3
A few years ago a publisher made a big mistake. A book had been on the market for several years, so it was time for a makeover. The author rewrote the book to bring it up to date. But when the revision was published, there was a problem. The publisher gave the book a nice new cover but printed the old book inside.
The exterior was fresh and new, but the interior was old and out of date. This “reprint” was not really new at all.
Sometimes that kind of thing happens with people. They realize a change needs to be made in life. Things are heading in the wrong direction. So they may put on a new exterior without making a vital change in their heart. They may change a behavior on the outside but may not realize that it is only God who can change us on the inside.
In John 3, Nicodemus sensed that because Jesus came “from God” (v. 2) He offered something very different. What Jesus told Nicodemus made him realize that He offered nothing short of a rebirth (v. 4): He needed to be “born again,” to be made totally new (v. 7).
That change comes only through faith in Jesus Christ. That’s when “the old has gone, the new is here” (2 Cor. 5:17). Do you need a change? Put your faith in Jesus. He’s the one who changes your heart and makes all things new.
Lord, I now know that changes on the outside—behavior, looks, attitude—don’t change me inside. I put my faith in Jesus, who died on the cross and rose again to forgive my sins. Make me new on the inside—in my soul.
How has your life been changed by Jesus? Share it with us at odb.org.
Only God can make us new.
A central theme in John is that it isn’t possible to be neutral about Jesus. We need to make a choice—either to live in the life, light, and joy found in Him, or to remain in darkness (3:19–21). But Jesus was patient in explaining the good news of transformation available through Him, knowing that understanding the gospel requires being “taught by God” (6:45).
We take our own spiritual consecration and try to make it into a call of God, but when we get right with Him He brushes all this aside. Then He gives us a tremendous, riveting pain to fasten our attention on something that we never even dreamed could be His call for us. And for one radiant, flashing moment we see His purpose, and we say, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).
This call has nothing to do with personal sanctification, but with being made broken bread and poured-out wine. Yet God can never make us into wine if we object to the fingers He chooses to use to crush us. We say, “If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way, then I wouldn’t object!” But when He uses someone we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, to crush us, then we object. Yet we must never try to choose the place of our own martyrdom. If we are ever going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed—you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.
I wonder what finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you? Have you been as hard as a marble and escaped? If you are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you anyway, the wine produced would have been remarkably bitter. To be a holy person means that the elements of our natural life experience the very presence of God as they are providentially broken in His service. We have to be placed into God and brought into agreement with Him before we can be broken bread in His hands. Stay right with God and let Him do as He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children.
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
Civilization is based on principles which imply that the passing moment is permanent. The only permanent thing is God, and if I put anything else as permanent, I become atheistic. I must build only on God (John 14:6). The Highest Good—Thy Great Redemption, 565 L
In the parable of the talents, the master gave three servants an assignment to carry out in his absence, along with the resources to accomplish it. Upon his return, he asked for an accounting of what they’d done.
From this parable, we can deduce several principles about the Christian life. First, God has chosen us to be His servants. Second, He has prepared work for us to do, and He supplies the assets and abilities we’ll need to achieve it. Some of His work is applicable to all believers—such as loving Him through service, showing love to others, and making disciples. Other aspects are specific to the individual, utilizing each one’s unique talents and skills. Finally, the Lord blesses all who obey Him. Pleased by the obedience of the first two servants, the master in the parable recompensed them accordingly. We, too, are promised a heavenly reward for our faithful service.
Being a good steward of what God has entrusted to us is a serious matter. He wants us to invest in His kingdom plan rather than overcommitting time to earthly matters or overspending on the pursuit of pleasure. You might wonder about the third servant, who did nothing with his talent and was cast out of his master’s presence. This cannot happen to believers, for we are permanently adopted into God’s family. But the Lord will hold us accountable.
Through Jesus Christ, we have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). With His help, we can move past our self-centered ways to carry out God’s plan. Do you long to obey the Lord above all else? Are you prepared to stand before Him and give account for your life?
“Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.” (Psalm 27:11-12)
These requests are simple: “teach, lead, and deliver” so that we will be able to get away from the “will” of our enemies and the “cruelty” of the plans of those who plot against us.
We need to be taught the way of God so that we can be effectively directed to live as the God of all creation intended for us to live. “O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me” (Psalm 25:4-5). Once we have been twice-born, our active drive should be to “walk in thy truth” (Psalm 86:11). John 17:17 equates truth to the Word of God. That Word is the basis upon which and by which the Holy Spirit will guide us “into all truth” (John 16:13).
The prayer for deliverance must of necessity be a prayer in accordance with the revealed will of God. That means, above all else, in agreement with the written Word of God. God does not circumvent His Word, even for the sake of delivering His children. The Holy Spirit does not invent some new truth just to help one of God’s erring children get out of a sin-produced jam. The deliverance will be in a “plain path.” God will “lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them” (Isaiah 42:16).
May our prayer contain the prayer of Psalm 143:10: “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.” HMM III
Adapted from Treasures in the Psalms, Henry M. Morris III, 345-346.
2 Samuel 15:29
This was a mournful procession indeed. To see a good king in his old age fleeing with heavy heart, covered head, weeping eyes, and bare feet, from the rage of his own son—this was a spectacle of woe such as is seldom seen. Well might the people join in the royal lamentation. Little did David think when he acted so wickedly with Bathsheba that his sin would cost him so dear.
2 Samuel 15:31
David was not too sorrowful to pray. He knew where his strength lay, and took care to resort to his strong helper.
2 Samuel 15:32
Perhaps at the brow of the hill the king paused, looked after the ark, and solemnly prostrated himself in worship. Just as he rose from his knees, he found that God had sent him a valuable ally in the person of Hushai, by whose diplomacy Ahithophel’s devices were to be defeated. When we most honour God he will be most ready to help us. David was glad to see Hushai, but thought that he would be most useful to his cause by returning to Jerusalem:
2 Samuel 15:33, 34
This species of trickery no Christian can approve of, but among Orientals it is highly esteemed. We are sorry that David should fall into it. We must, in this matter, look at him as a warning, rather than as an example.
The intelligence which Hushai sent by the two young priests induced the king to flee further away, and to retreat beyond the Jordan into the far east of the country.
2 Samuel 17:22
Here was another sad march. It was a gloomy sight to see David and the people fording the Jordan at the dead of night.
2 Samuel 17:24
This wicked young prince hotly pursued his father, and could not be content unless he could shed his blood. Yet this was a son of David! What bad sons may come of holy sires!
2 Samuel 17:27-29
Thus strangers became the good man’s friends. There were some sweetening drops in his cup. The Lord never utterly leaves his people. If he smites them, he at the same time supports them. Let us always trust in him.
When a person becomes offended and doesn’t deal with that offense correctly, that bitterness often churns so long in a person’s soul that it turns into a root of bitterness. This is exactly what Hebrews 12:15 is talking about when it says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”
The word “root” is the Greek word ridzo. It refers to a root, such as the root of a tree. These are roots that have gone down deep and are now deeply embedded. Therefore, the word ridzo often denotes something that is established or firmly fixed.
By using the word ridzo (“root”), God is telling you that if you don’t repent of bitterness and remove it from your life, it becomes deeply embedded in your soul. Once it becomes this deeply rooted in your soul, your negative opinion of the offender will become firmly fixed. As time passes, your thoughts of judgment against him will become more developed, rationalized, and established. That root of bitterness will become so firmly fixed inside you that your angry, judgmental thoughts about the person will actually begin to make sense to you.
When a “root of bitterness” gets this deeply embedded in your mind and emotions, it’s no longer just a “root” you’re dealing with; now you have a mental stronghold. That stronghold of bitterness will take a lofty position in your mind and emotions. From that position, it will then present a myriad of logical reasons to explain why you shouldn’t have anything else to do with that person and why you should keep your distance from him.
The word “bitterness” comes from the Greek word pikria. It refers to an inward attitude that is so bitter, it produces a scowl on one’s face. In other words, you become so inwardly infected with bitterness that you are outwardly affected in your appearance and disposition.
This “bitterness” is acid to one’s soul, and eventually it begins to surface. When it does, the fruit it produces is unkind, sour, sharp, sarcastic, scornful, cynical, mocking contemptuous, and wounding. Bitterness has nothing good to say about the other person. In fact, it looks for negative things to say about that person in order to affect others’ opinions about him as well.
If you find yourself constantly saying negative things about someone who has offended you or upset you in the past, it may be that a root of bitterness is trying to grow inside your heart. If this describes you, it is essential that you grab hold of that root of bitterness through the act of repentance and rip those destructive roots clear out of your soul! If you don’t, the roots of bitterness will go down deep into the soil of your soul, and eventually you’ll be filled with the bitter fruit that bitterness produces.
If God’s Spirit has been trying to deal with you about a negative attitude you have toward someone else, pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying to you. Go get alone with God. Ask Him to put His divine hand into your soul and to extract that ugly growth that is trying to grow inside of you. God wants to liberate you, but it must begin with your invitation!
Lord, I don’t want any bitterness to sprout inside me, so I am asking You to turn on the spotlight of the Holy Spirit and reveal any unforgiveness or resentment that might be lurking inside my heart. I know that the fruit of bitterness is very sour, and I don’t want that fruit to be a part of my life. So, Holy Spirit, I ask You to please show me every root of bitterness, and then help me rip it clear out of my soul!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I refuse to allow a root of bitterness to grow deep into the soil of my heart. The instant I recognize that a seed of bitterness is trying to sprout in me, I will grab hold of that root, and through the act of repentance, rip those destructive roots out of my soul. I choose to walk in forgiveness and to stay free!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
If you find yourself constantly saying negative things about someone who has offended you or upset you in the past, could it be possible that a root of bitterness is trying to grow inside your heart?
Fear is the opposite of faith, and is displeasing to God:
“My righteous one shall live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him… Without faith, it is impossible to please God… ” (Hebrews 10:38; 11:6a) Fear:
How do we break the bondage and cycle of fear? By choosing to believe God through acting upon His promises. So right now, if you are struggling with fear, choose to believe these promises:
“God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 – kjv)
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea… Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:1, 2a, 10)
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears… The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:4, 17)
It was amidst the storm that Jesus told Peter to step out of the boat and walk on the water to Him. The moment he looked away from the Master to the circumstances Peter’s faith turned to fear, and he began to sink. And so it is with us. (Matthew 14:22-34)
You and I have a simple choice to make: Either we will allow the demons of fear, doubt, inadequacy etc., to paralyze and diminish us into spiritual midgets, or we will live above life’s crippling circumstances by choosing to believe and act upon His promises.
QUESTION: Today, which do you choose? Faith or fear?