VIDEO Following Him

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24

 

An adult and a four-year-old child go for a walk outdoors. They begin their walk on a sidewalk or path, with the adult carrying on a lively conversation with the little one. Pretty soon, the adult realizes the conversation has become one-sided. The child has stopped responding to questions and has stopped contributing verbally. The adult turns around, only to discover the child has stopped following. He is way behind, looking at rocks, flowers, and bugs, and wandering into a neighbor’s yard. For the conversation to resume and be meaningful, the child needs to follow the adult more closely.

“Following” is a central theme of life with Jesus Christ. He identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd; His sheep follow Him so closely and so consistently that they know the sound of His voice. That means they can immediately detect a stranger’s (possibly dangerous) voice and then hear the Good Shepherd’s voice of safety and direction.

If you want to hear God’s voice, make sure to stay close to the Good Shepherd through prayer, worship, and the Word.

It costs to follow Jesus Christ, but it costs more not to.  Greg Laurie


Matthew 16:24-27 – Skip Heitzig

Keepers of the Light

Today's Devotional

For God . . . made his light shine in our hearts. 2 Corinthians 4:6

They call them “Keepers of the Light.”

At the lighthouse on the cape of Hatteras Island just off the North Carolina coast of the United States, there’s a memorial to those who’ve tended the light stations there since 1803. Shortly after the existing structure was moved inland because of shoreline erosion, the names of the keepers were etched on the old foundation stones and arranged into an amphitheater shape facing the new site. That way—as a placard explains—today’s visitors can follow in the historical keepers’ footsteps and “watch over” the lighthouse as well.

Jesus is the ultimate light-giver. He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). That’s a radical thing for anyone to claim. But Jesus said it to affirm His relationship with His heavenly Father, the Creator of light and life who sent Him.

When we look to Jesus for salvation and follow His teaching, we’re restored in relationship with God, and He gives us new power and purpose. His transforming life and love—“the light of all mankind” (1:4)—shines in us and through us and out to a dark and sometimes dangerous world.

As believers in Jesus, we become “keepers of the light.” May others see His light shine from us and discover the life and hope He alone can give!

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

In what practical ways can you shine Jesus’ light? Where is God calling you to be obedient to Him today?

Jesus, I praise You for Your light and love. Help me to shine for You

When We Ignore God

James 4:17

Have you ever felt ignored? We all long for love, acceptance, and attention, but perhaps an important person in your life has shown little interest in you or what you have to say.

There’s something even worse, though, than ignoring others: disregarding God. But we’ve all done it. One way we ignore Him is by failing to obey His instructions. Or maybe we sense His leading but don’t follow. And unless we seek time with our Father—whether in His Word, prayer, or worship—we are neglecting Him again.

The consequences are painful. For one thing, neglect grieves God because He is our heavenly Father, who desires closeness with each of His children. We also miss out on the best for our life. Ignoring our connection with the Lord and choosing not to abide in Him would mean missing out on His plan and the fruit of the Spirit. As a result, we shortchange ourselves out of fulfilling the purpose for which He created us—glorifying Him. And remember, we eventually will be held accountable for our actions.

How are you choosing to live—do you pay attention to what God says, or are you living with your own set of standards? Your conscious choices affect your walk with Jesus. If you tune your spirit to listen and discipline yourself to obey, you’ll enjoy great intimacy with the Lord.

Veil over the Nations

“And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.” (Isaiah 25:7)

Many people feel that every nation should be encouraged simply to practice its own religion. God’s Word, however, makes it plain that all nations are blinded, cut off from the truth by a deadly covering. This is true of the Jews, for “even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart” (2 Corinthians 3:15). It is also true of the Gentiles, who have “the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18).

The veil that keeps them in such darkness is a Satanic blindfold. “The god of this world [i.e., Satan] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2 Corinthians 4:4). And how did the devil ever gain such control over human minds? “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened….Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:21, 25).

So today men and women almost everywhere—atheists, Communists, humanists, Buddhists, Confucianists, animists, Hindus, Taoists, Shintoists, occultists, “New Agers,” and even the “liberals” in the monotheistic religions (Judaism, Islam, Christianity)—really all believe and practice the same religion, rejecting God as Creator and worshipping instead some man or man-exalting evolutionary philosophy.

Someday, God will destroy this pervasive veil over the nations. In the meantime, we must reach everyone we can with the true and everlasting gospel of Christ, for that “vail is done away in Christ” (2 Corinthians 3:14). HMM

On Morally Wrong Teaching

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

—John 8:31-32

 

No one can know truth except the one who obeys truth. You think you know truth. People memorize the Scriptures by the yard, but that is not a guarantee of knowing the truth. Truth is not a text. Truth is in the text, but it takes the text plus the Holy Spirit to bring truth to a human soul….

Charles G. Finney taught that it was wrong—morally wrong—to teach objective doctrine without a moral application. I have gone to Bible classes and listened to men who were learned in the Word of God. Still I have come away as cold as a pickled fish. There was no help, no lift in my spirit, nothing to warm the inside of my heart. The truth had been given to me just like a proposition in Euclid or a mathematical formula from Pythagoras. And the answer is, “So what? Let’s go and have a soda!” Are we aware that we can give people objective truth without moral application? If God’s moral Word is true, it means us. And if it means us, we ought to obey it. That is life. That is knowing the truth.   FBR064-065

Forgive me, Father, for those times I have been guilty of “morally wrong” teaching. Send Your Spirit both to embolden my preaching and to move the hearts of my hearers to action. Amen.

 

How Well Do I Know My Heart?

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

—Psalm 51:10

 

None of us can really tell how weak and useless we are until God has exposed us—and no one wants to be exposed! But God knows so much better than we do that He must expose us for our own good.

Neither do any of us really know how unstable we are until we have been exposed by the Holy Ghost. Peter was a big, bold, strong fisherman, and it seemed easy for him to say to the Lord, “Let everyone else run away, but I will always stand by. You can count on me, Master!” I am sure it was hard for him to take the answer that Jesus gave him: “Before the rooster crows tonight you will say three times that you do not know me!” (See Matthew 26:33-34.) But Jesus knew the instability of the man who still tried to stand in his own strength and in his own self-trust.

We do not really know how unstable we are, and we often refuse to admit the truth when we find out, when we are exposed. That is why it is too dangerous to trust our good habits and our virtues—and that is why our distrust of ourselves must be the work of God’s hand! ITB131-132

We must pass sentence upon our sinful heart and give God the right to cleanse it. CTBC, Vol. 5/313

 

What Holiness Is Not and Is

Hebrews 12:10

First of all, holiness is not necessarily a state in which there is perpetual, rapturous joy. Isaiah 53:3 tells us that Jesus was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” and Paul tells us that he, too, had continual sorrow and great heaviness.

Joy is the normal state of a holy man, but it may be mingled with sorrow and grief and perplexities and heaviness on account of manifold temptations. The low-water mark, however, in the experience of a holy person is one of perfect peace; the high-water mark is up in the third heaven somewhere; however, this third heaven experience is not likely to be constantly maintained.

Holiness is not a state of freedom from temptation. This is a world of trial and conflict with principalities and powers, darkness and terrible evils, and the holy soul who is in the forefront of the conflict may expect the fiercest assaults of the devil. Our blessed Lord was tried and tempted for forty days and forty nights by the devil, and the servant must not be surprised if he is as his Master was.

Holiness is not a state of freedom from infirmities. It does not produce a perfect head, but rather a perfect heart.

Holiness is not a state of freedom from affliction. The saints of all ages have been chosen “in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10). It is not God’s purpose to take us to heaven on flowery beds of ease. That would not develop strength of character.

Holiness is not a state in which there is no further development. When the heart is purified it develops more rapidly than ever before.

Holiness is not a state from which we cannot fall. It is only those who endure to the end who shall be saved. But while we may fall, thank God holiness is a state from which we need not fall.

Finally, holiness is a state of conformity to the divine nature. He [the believer] is like God, not in God’s natural perfection of power and wisdom and omnipresence, but in patience, humility, self-control, purity of heart and love. As the drop out of the ocean is like the ocean, not in its bigness, but in its essence, so is the holy soul like God.

Samuel Logan Brengle, Heart Talks on Holiness