VIDEO Coached From Within

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27

Thank the Lord that self-control is on the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23! In other words, we needn’t try to develop self-discipline on our own. Like an athlete without a coach, it’s very hard by oneself to keep oneself in game day shape. 

Yes, we must make the effort. Paul spoke of how he disciplined his body and brought it into subjection. Apparently he worked hard to ward off laziness, gluttony, immoral thoughts and actions, undue expressions of temper, and drunkenness. But his attempts were empowered by the work of the Holy Spirit within him, giving him both the desire and the power to do what pleases the Lord (Philippians 2:13).

God gives us the desire to do what we should do, and then He gives us the power to accomplish it. When we walk consciously and constantly with the Lord, we are coached from within by His Spirit, which is the most fulfilling life possible on this earth.

We need the rugged strength of Christian character that can only come from discipline. V. Raymond Edman


1 Corinthians 9 :24-27 It’s All About Faithfulness

Sharing Jesus

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Isaiah 12:4

Shortly after Dwight Moody (1837–99) came to faith in Christ, the evangelist resolved not to let a day pass without sharing God’s good news with at least one person. On busy days, he’d sometimes forget his resolution until late. One night, he was in bed before he remembered. As he stepped outside, he thought, No one will be out in this pouring rain. Just then he saw a man walking down the street. Moody rushed over and asked to stand under his umbrella to avoid the rain. When granted permission, he asked, “Have you any shelter in the time of storm? Could I tell you about Jesus?”

Moody embodied a readiness to share how God saves us from the consequences of our sins. He obeyed God’s instructions to the Israelites to proclaim His name and “make known among the nations what he has done” (Isaiah 12:4). Not only were God’s people called to “proclaim that his name is exalted” (v. 4), but they were also to share how He had “become [their] salvation” (v. 2). Centuries later, our call remains to tell the wonders of Jesus becoming a man, dying on the cross, and rising again.

Perhaps we heard about God’s love when, as Moody did, someone left their comfort zone to talk with us about Jesus. And we too, each in our own way, can let someone know about the One who saves.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

What has God done in your life that you can share with another? How has He equipped you to present the good news?

Jesus, thank You for setting me free from my sins. Help me to be ready to tell others of Your good news.

Read Evangelism: Reaching out through Relationships at DiscoverySeries.org/Q0913

The Blessing of Grace

Ephesians 2:4-10

Why did God save you? Was it because of His love for you, His mercy for your helpless condition, His desire to rescue you from hell, or His providential choice? All of these answers—along with many others—are correct. But do you know what God’s ultimate reason for salvation is?

According to today’s passage, He saved us “so that in the ages to come He might show the boundless riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). We are not the shining stars of salvation; God is. He saved us in order to display His grace, which is His undeserved favor toward us.

God didn’t bestow grace on us at the moment of salvation, only to leave us on our own to live the Christian life as best we can. No, He lavishes it on us every day of our life. Through Scripture, His grace instructs us how to live righteously in this present age, and it empowers us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires (Titus 2:11-12).

Once God extends His favor to us through Christ, He will never take it away. We are saved by grace, we live in grace, and we will be recipients of it throughout eternity.

Early Risers

“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

One of the best ways to meet the Lord is to rise up early in the morning, before activities of the day can interfere. This apparently was the practice of Jesus Himself.

There are also many other occurrences in the Bible: “Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD” (Genesis 19:27). In order to set up an altar, “Jacob rose up early in the morning” (Genesis 28:18). When Moses gave the people the laws of God, he “wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill” (Exodus 24:4). Later, when he was to receive the commandments a second time, “Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto Mount Sinai” (Exodus 34:4). “Joshua rose early in the morning” to lead Israel over the Jordan, and then to capture Jericho; and to take Ai, “Joshua rose up early in the morning” (Joshua 3:1; 6:12; 8:10).

During the time of the Judges, Gideon “rose up early on the morrow” to prove God’s will through putting out the fleece (Judges 6:38). Hannah and Elkanah, in praying for the son who would later become Samuel, “rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:19).

No doubt there are justifiable exceptions, but late sleeping is in general not a good thing. “How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?…he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame” (Proverbs 6:9; 10:5). It is good to seek the Lord early each day. “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me” (Proverbs 8:17). “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up” (Psalm 5:3). HMM

His Faithfulness-Psalm 105

He forever remembers His covenant, the promise He ordained for a thousand generations—[the covenant] He made with Abraham, swore to Isaac,… Then He brought Israel out with silver and gold, and no one among His tribes stumbled. Egypt was glad when they left, for dread of Israel had fallen on them. He spread a cloud as a covering and [gave] a fire to light up the night. They asked, and He brought quail and satisfied them with bread from heaven. He opened a rock, and water gushed out; it flowed like a stream in the desert (vv. 8-9, 37-41).

Certain key words leap from the pages of the Psalms—words used repeatedly to speak of the enduring quality of God’s covenant with his people—words and phrases such as “forever, ” “for a thousand generations, ” “everlasting” (vv. 8-10).

In this psalm the musician is praising the Lord for taking his promises seriously. Unfortunately, we contemporary Christians use these words and phrases pretty casually. They have a certain ring that makes them attractive to songwriters and poets. In fact, our list of synonyms is extensive: eternal, always, evermore, unending, endless, ceaseless, continual, perpetual. But do we really grasp the meaning of forever?

In reviewing this passage, I see again the “forever” faithfulness of God in keeping his covenant with Israel. First, he protected them as aliens in foreign lands, keeping his eye on Abraham wherever he went—Chaldea, Haran, Canaan, Egypt, and the Negev (vv. 12-15). Second, the Lord guided his people to Egypt and promoted Joseph to rule over them (vv. 17-22). Third, the lord blessed his oppressed people with productivity (v. 14). Fourth, the Lord used Moses and Aaron to deliver them from Egypt (vv. 26-36). Finally, the Lord was faithful in providing for them while they were in the wilderness (vv. 39-41). So even when Israel was “following afar off, ” God was faithful in meeting their needs (vv. 42-45).

If I were to trace the steps of my own pilgrimage, there would be many parallels because God’s character never changes. It is this kind of endless love and provision he promises me today.

Personal Prayer

Dear Lord, I thank you for providing for Israel’s needs in the ancient world. Because your character never changes, I know you will care for me unceasingly, always, forever!

The Ceaseless Creator

May my meditation be pleasing to Him; I will rejoice in the Lord.—Psalm 104:34

Dr. Douglas Speere says that with advancing years, “Our greatest danger is not hardening of the arteries but hardening of the attitudes.” We harden our viewpoint, refusing to look at anything beyond it. We groove our thinking and acting, and the grooves get deeper until they -become graves that bury us. As someone put it: “You don’t grow old; you get old by not growing.” Some people are dead at 40, although their funerals are postponed until they are 60. For many Christians, life has settled into ruts—mental, physical, and spiritual ruts. “And a rut,” said someone, “is a grave with ends knocked out.” In Canada I saw a dirt road leading off the main highway which had a sign on it that read: “Choose your rut—you will be in it for the next 20 miles.” When New Year’s Day comes, many could say to themselves: “I’d better choose my rut, for I’ll be in it for the next 365 days.” Life for them is not an adventure. It holds no surprises, offers no excitement, and is uncreative. My friend, I beg you, open your mind to God today and don’t resist the Divine Eagle as He prepares to push you out into a more creative way of thinking, acting, and living. Someone has said that the last words of the church when it is taken up to heaven will be these: “It has never been done like this before.” Focus your mind once again on today’s psalm, and keep in mind that the God who created all things desires to live, move, and think in you.

Prayer

O Father, You who are a ceaseless Creator, make me a ceaseless creator. Break the molds of my thinking patterns, and give me new ones. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Col 2; Isa 11:2; Mt 13:15; 1Co 1:25; Rm 11:33

What are the characteristics of Christ’s thoughts?

How are they opposed to human philosophy and tradition?

God’s Ecology of Holiness

2 Peter 3:18

Ecology is that branch of biology that deals with the relationships between living organisms and their environment. Every living thing is immersed in a context or environment with specific characteristics.

Just as there are biological ecologies, there are social ecologies where individuals are immersed in social environments. It is not uncommon for us to be in and out of several social ecologies in one day: for example, home, marriage, work, the supermarket, church. Among my favorite social ecologies are Christian summer camps.

When Peter says “Grow in grace,” (2 Pet. 3:18) he is speaking ecologically. He means that we should immerse ourselves in God’s grace, in His loving kindness and in His presence. He provides a nutrient-enriched environment through our relationships with Him and others.

In the ecology of holiness, God’s plan is that we first develop and progress. As we move ahead in our relationship with Christ, He does a deepening work. Often the work is done in a social/spiritual context of others and always in the context of God’s presence in our lives. Second, at every stage of our growth and development, His love goes before us to help us move toward a restoration to His image and likeness. Third, He provides for us a nutrient-enriched environment to be the “means of grace,” promoting our growth and well-being. This includes Christian teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:42), and all the wholesome activities of small fellowship groups. God uses others to mediate His grace to us. It is this daily immersion in the means of grace that promotes this social ecology of holiness.

Brother Lawrence, a twelfth-century monk, understood the ecology of holiness when he practiced the presence of God throughout the day. In the wonderful book The Practice of the Presence of God, Lawrence tells how Jesus was experienced as present at all times, and with whom fellowship was immediately enjoyed and never ceasing. He was assigned often menial and mundane work in the monastery and yet he carried out his assignments in partnership with Christ, as his co-laborer, rejoicing and praising Him continually throughout each day.

Our lives represent the threads of the tapestry woven together to be both beautiful and functional for our Lord. To “grow in grace” is, like Brother Lawrence, to daily abide in Jesus Christ and to be immersed in the ecology of God’s grace and holiness.

Jonathan S. Raymond, The War Cry