First Things First

1 Timothy 1:5

Holiness was a passion with Paul. Reading what he wrote about it in epistle after epistle, it is impossible to miss the note of intensity. Addressing Timothy, the apostle impressed upon the young pastor that he ought to enjoy the blessing himself, and lead the Ephesian believers to the life of holiness: “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).

Paul challenged Timothy to lead the Church toward God’s ideal. That ideal is love. It is powerful, making an immensely effective impact because it is the essence of holiness.

The divine love for the world—so immense, so unconditional, continuing to pour out its undeserved care even when rejected and answered by human hate—is to be reflected, and in some measure to be repeated, in Christian people.

Love like that glows through an evangelist of whom Billy Graham tells. At a university he had tried to reach the students with the gospel, but their reaction was hostile. One girl told him she didn’t believe the things he had said. So the evangelist asked if he could pray with her. She replied, “Nobody ever prayed for me before, I guess it won’t do any harm.” He prayed, while she sat with her eyes open. But then she noticed something that amazed her. His tears were flowing as he prayed. She began to cry, too. “No one in my entire life has shed a tear for me,” she sobbed, and then that young woman accepted Christ.

Anyone who imagines that sanctification sets you apart from sinners, aloof in your isolation, needs to take another look at the loving, approachable, healing Son of God. There is holiness incarnate.

To make His people caring and compassionate, resolutely willing to be Christlike in all their relationships, is the end toward which God’s Spirit is always working. Only when a person lives lovingly does he or she demonstrate genuine Christianity.

Love and holiness, standing together in our text, are inseparable. Love, purity, a good conscience, sincere faith. Simple qualities all, but utterly indispensable components of the character of any who would serve in Christ’s name. These are the elements of holiness, and that is surely first among first things.

Edward Read, Timothy, My Son

The Unexpected Jesus

Luke 19:1-9

Zacchaeus was a wealthy Jew who lived in Jericho and made a handsome

living as a tax collector for the Romans. Because of his occupation, he was

viewed by his contemporaries as a sinner before God and a traitor to his country.

Despite his ostracization by fellow Jews, Zacchaeus was not void of spiritual sensitivity. When he learned that Jesus was coming to the area, he determined that he must see the much-heralded Teacher whose preaching, teaching and miracle-working were having such a profound effect.

Because he was short, he climbed a sycamore-fig tree in order to get a good view of Jesus. It must have taken a good deal of fortitude for this rich, sophisticated businessman to throw caution to the wind, to run ahead of Jesus and His entourage and to scamper up a tree as he probably had not done since boyhood.

Amazingly, when Jesus reached the spot, He took notice of the figure hidden among the branches, and He addressed Zacchaeus.

The mass of humanity Crowding around the Master would not have expected Jesus to notice Zacchaeus, much less address him. But God Incarnate had thoughts that were not merely human thoughts. His ways, as the prophet Isaiah declared, are not our ways. So Jesus spoke to Zacchaeus.

Again the crowd was amazed. They might have expected Jesus to rebuke Zacchaeus for his traitorous ways, for serving as an agent of the Roman government, for seeking personal gain by charging more than the assessed tax. There is no way they could have been prepared to hear Jesus say: “Zacchaeus, come down immediately, I must stay at your house today.”

It was an invitation Zacchaeus could not refuse. We can assume that the Holy Guest spoke lovingly and directly to the chief tax collector of the district. And we can assume that the divine Visitor outlined the plan of salvation. These assumptions are based on the results of their meeting. We know, first of all, that Zacchaeus found salvation, for Jesus declared, “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9). We know, also, that a great transformation had taken place in Zacchaeus. This man, who had accumulated a fortune through dishonest means, now stated freely, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8).

What a marvelous change came to the life of one who had an unexpected encounter with Jesus Christ. And such unexpected encounters are still happening!

Robert E. Thomson, The War Cry

The Conqueror (cont.)

Luke 1:74

Jesus Christ has come to you and to me, to deliver us from sin. No one would want to localize this purpose, or contract it, by saying He was intended to save a man from drink, falsehood, thieving—that is, to take the outworks, while the very citadel, the heart, is left infected with pride, selfishness, hatred, bad temper and everything that is bad and unlike God. Surely, to deliver him He must destroy those inward enemies and save us out of the hands of all that is devilish in our own secret passions, tempers, and dispositions.

Now, I think I hear you say, “How far can I be saved in this direction? Is there such a thing as an uttermost salvation? I am wonderfully saved already. I do now enjoy a wonderful salvation. A wonderful change has been wrought within me. I am not what I used to be by any comparison, but still I am conscious that there is sin within me.”

For every man has two characters. He has a character with which the outer world is conversant, and an inward character which is only known to him and his Maker. Of this inner character many may say there are in it blots, much that is selfish, much that is devilish, much of which they would be ashamed to have the record transcribed on paper and read out before their fellow men. But there they are; evils spring up, continually grieving them and bring them into bondage. The cry often goes up to heaven from such hearts, “Can I be saved from these inward sins?” I answer in the words of this man, Zacharias, who spoke full of the Holy Spirit, “He came to save you out of the hand of your enemies” (Luke 1:74). That is, to make you free from their power, so deliver you that they shall have no hold upon you, in order that you may “serve God in holiness all your days” (Luke 1:75).

Now, mark the duration of this deliverance. Not merely for a few minutes just before you die, nor for an hour or two in a holiness convention. There is a deliverance—a deliverance from all sin—that can last all the days of your life, if you live to be as old as Methuselah. May the Lord save you properly and then people will be sorry when they hear about your funeral!

Do you hear? You never need sin any more. He’s the conqueror. He can toss His enemies out of your heart. He will not only conquer, but He will annex your heart and make it His own territory over which He will reign absolutely. Thank God! He is Almighty to save and Almighty to keep.

William Booth, Salvation Soldiery

“What Manner of Man!”

Mark 4:35-41

FULL of truth for us today is the Gospel account of our Lord stilling the tempest (Matt. 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25). Matthew tells us (8:18) that when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave orders to depart unto the other side of the sea. There is a time to mix with and minister to the crowd, and there is also a time to leave the crowd. Some of us, in our zeal to serve, stay with the crowd when we need to get away for rest and renewed strength.

Mark says the disciples took the Lord “even as He was” in the ship. Tired from the busy day, He soon fell asleep. The storm must have been terrific, for these disciples were seasoned fishermen for the most part, used to the waves, and yet they were alarmed. But no matter how fierce the tempest, they had seen our Lord perform His miracles, had witnessed His power over nature, and they should not have given way to panic. How typical of human nature! We believe in a Christ who works wonders. We believe, theoretically, in His supernatural power, but when the actual crisis arises, we are terrified. No wonder that He asks, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” This incident has been misinterpreted again and again. We have heard it applied in this way: Christ asleep in the boat is Christ in the believer, dormant, not called into action; but when the crisis arises, we may call upon Him and be delivered. But this is erroneous. If the disciples had more faith they would not have awakened our Lord, they would have let Him sleep. It was fear and not faith that led them to arouse Him. Besides, Christ is not supposed to be a dormant guest in our hearts, to be aroused only in emergency. He abides in us, and if we trusted as we ought we would rest in peace in any storm because, although at times He may seem to be asleep, we are sure of the fact of His presence—and that is enough.

We have grown accustomed to hearing this familiar story, but if we valued it aright we would cry out as did these disciples: “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Here He manifested His power over wind and wave, for all things are subject to Him by whom and for whom all things were made.

Mark also adds the significant little note: “And there were also with him other little ships.” We are not alone upon life’s sea. Other lives share in our blessing; and if the Lord is with us, His benefits to us reach out and indirectly bless others. All the little ships profited from our Lord’s presence in one ship. The ship that carries Jesus liveth not unto itself. Even lives in which He does not dwell personally are benefitted by His presence in our lives.

Is the Lord in your boat? At times He may seem asleep. He may answer you not a word. He may tarry as He did in Lazarus’ sickness. But rest assured that if He be present, all things shall work together for good. Do not awaken Him in panic; rest upon His word, “Where is your faith?”

VIDEO Learning to Trust – Through it all I learn to trust in Jesus

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25

Every thirty days we pay the mortgage or rent, the utility bills, insurance premiums, and more. Once we clear the bills, the thirty-day cycle starts all over again. For that reason, modern Christians have a hard time with Jesus’ admonition not to worry about life—to take no thought for tomorrow. How will the bills be paid if we “take no thought”?

Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t work”; He said, “Don’t worry.” Part of life in the kingdom of God is the realization that we are stewards and God is the Master. He provides opportunities for us to do His work. That was a central theme when Jesus sent His disciples out, two by two, to preach and heal with kingdom power (Mark 6:7-13). They were instructed to take no worldly resources with them. They were to live like Jesus lived—in complete dependence on the Father (Luke 9:58).

We work to eat and provide for our families (2 Thessalonians 3:10), but we do so with God’s blessing and provision. It is a reminder to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Worry is an indication that we think God cannot look after us.  Oswald Chambers


Through it all I learn to trust in Jesus. ..I learn to trust in God

VIDEO Thank You Lord for all You’ve done in life

I think that most – if not all of us – would agree that our Nation has been blessed. We have been blessed materially, geographically, educationally, and technologically.

As we celebrate the birth our Nation this weekend, on July 4th, we need to be Thankful to the Lord and seek Him for His continual blessings in the future.

Today, we are reminded again (as young men and women have died defending our Freedoms), that our Freedom comes with a high price. Men and women throughout the history of our Country have given their lives to make this country what it is – for our Independence!

It was this way from the beginning – out of the 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence:

– 5 were captured and tortured by the British before they died.

– 12 had their homes ransacked and burned to the ground.

– 2 lost their sons in the war.

– 1 had two sons captured.

– 9 fought and died from wounds or the hardships of war.

– Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home to pay his debts died poor.

– Thomas McKean was forced to move his family almost constantly because he was so hounded by the British. He served in Congress without pay and died in poverty.

– Thomas Nelson’s home was seized by the British at the Battle of Yorktown and used as a command post. He urged Gen. George Washington to open fire on it. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt.

give thanks psm 136 1 unashamedofjesus

Jun 10, 2010

 

 

Dear Lord, You know what we have been worrying about, keeping us awake at night. We give it all to You, for You are faithful, and Your promises of help are certain. You will never fail us nor forsake us. Thank You for Your kindness to us, Your creatures. We don’t deserve such grace, but Your mercies are new every morning, and Your promises are all firm and sure, to be counted on. In Jesus, we see all this to be true, so we come to Him and offer into His hands all our worries and fears. Through Jesus, our Lord, we receive perfect peace. Thank You, O Lord. Amen.

VIDEO Through It All – Going Through Spiritual Confusion

Going Through Spiritual Confusion

There are times in your spiritual life when there is confusion, and the way out of it is not simply to say that you should not be confused. It is not a matter of right and wrong, but a matter of God taking you through a way that you temporarily do not understand. And it is only by going through the spiritual confusion that you will come to the understanding of what God wants for you.

The Shrouding of His Friendship (see Luke 11:5-8). Jesus gave the illustration here of a man who appears not to care for his friend. He was saying, in effect, that is how the heavenly Father will appear to you at times. You will think that He is an unkind friend, but remember— He is not. The time will come when everything will be explained. There seems to be a cloud on the friendship of the heart, and often even love itself has to wait in pain and tears for the blessing of fuller fellowship and oneness. When God appears to be completely shrouded, will you hang on with confidence in Him?

The Shadow on His Fatherhood (see Luke 11:11-13). Jesus said that there are times when your Father will appear as if He were an unnatural father— as if He were callous and indifferent— but remember, He is not. “Everyone who asks receives…” (Luke 11:10). If all you see is a shadow on the face of the Father right now, hang on to the fact that He will ultimately give you clear understanding and will fully justify Himself in everything that He has allowed into your life.

The Strangeness of His Faithfulness (see Luke 18:1-8). “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Will He find the kind of faith that counts on Him in spite of the confusion? Stand firm in faith, believing that what Jesus said is true, although in the meantime you do not understand what God is doing. He has bigger issues at stake than the particular things you are asking of Him right now.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

Our danger is to water down God’s word to suit ourselves. God never fits His word to suit me; He fits me to suit His word. Not Knowing Whither, 901 R


 

Through It All Andrae Crouch

Andrae Crouch sings “Through It All” at a Billy Graham crusade in New Mexico in 1975

VIDEO Missionary’s Master and Teacher – Jesus Washes The Disciples’ Feet

The Missionary’s Master and Teacher

To have a master and teacher is not the same thing as being mastered and taught. Having a master and teacher means that there is someone who knows me better than I know myself, who is closer than a friend, and who understands the remotest depths of my heart and is able to satisfy them fully. It means having someone who has made me secure in the knowledge that he has met and solved all the doubts, uncertainties, and problems in my mind. To have a master and teacher is this and nothing less— “…for One is your Teacher, the Christ…” (Matthew 23:8).

Our Lord never takes measures to make me do what He wants. Sometimes I wish God would master and control me to make me do what He wants, but He will not. And at other times I wish He would leave me alone, and He does not.

“You call Me Teacher and Lord…”— but is He? Teacher, Master, and Lord have little place in our vocabulary. We prefer the words Savior, Sanctifier, and Healer. The only word that truly describes the experience of being mastered is love, and we know little about love as God reveals it in His Word. The way we use the word obey is proof of this. In the Bible, obedience is based on a relationship between equals; for example, that of a son with his father. Our Lord was not simply God’s servant— He was His Son. “…though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience…” (Hebrews 5:8). If we are consciously aware that we are being mastered, that idea itself is proof that we have no master. If that is our attitude toward Jesus, we are far away from having the relationship He wants with us. He wants us in a relationship where He is so easily our Master and Teacher that we have no conscious awareness of it— a relationship where all we know is that we are His to obey.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

I have no right to say I believe in God unless I order my life as under His all-seeing Eye. Disciples Indeed, 385 L


Jesus Washes The Disciples’ Feet – (John 13:1-17)

VIDEO What Love Is This – Approved to God

Approved to God

If you cannot express yourself well on each of your beliefs, work and study until you can. If you don’t, other people may miss out on the blessings that come from knowing the truth. Strive to re-express a truth of God to yourself clearly and understandably, and God will use that same explanation when you share it with someone else. But you must be willing to go through God’s winepress where the grapes are crushed. You must struggle, experiment, and rehearse your words to express God’s truth clearly. Then the time will come when that very expression will become God’s wine of strength to someone else. But if you are not diligent and say, “I’m not going to study and struggle to express this truth in my own words; I’ll just borrow my words from someone else,” then the words will be of no value to you or to others. Try to state to yourself what you believe to be the absolute truth of God, and you will be allowing God the opportunity to pass it on through you to someone else.

Always make it a practice to stir your own mind thoroughly to think through what you have easily believed. Your position is not really yours until you make it yours through suffering and study. The author or speaker from whom you learn the most is not the one who teaches you something you didn’t know before, but the one who helps you take a truth with which you have quietly struggled, give it expression, and speak it clearly and boldly.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

Wherever the providence of God may dump us down, in a slum, in a shop, in the desert, we have to labour along the line of His direction. Never allow this thought—“I am of no use where I am,” because you certainly can be of no use where you are not! Wherever He has engineered your circumstances, pray. So Send I You, 1325 L

 


 

Kari Jobe: Where I Find You: Christmas Edition. New Song in 2012.

VIDEO The Light That Never Fails

The Light That Never Fails

The Light That Never Fails

We all, with unveiled face, beholding…the glory of the Lord… —2 Corinthians 3:18

A servant of God must stand so very much alone that he never realizes he is alone. In the early stages of the Christian life, disappointments will come— people who used to be lights will flicker out, and those who used to stand with us will turn away. We have to get so used to it that we will not even realize we are standing alone. Paul said, “…no one stood with me, but all forsook me….But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…” (2 Timothy 4:16-17). We must build our faith not on fading lights but on the Light that never fails. When “important” individuals go away we are sad, until we see that they are meant to go, so that only one thing is left for us to do— to look into the face of God for ourselves.

Allow nothing to keep you from looking with strong determination into the face of God regarding yourself and your doctrine. And every time you preach make sure you look God in the face about the message first, then the glory will remain through all of it. A Christian servant is one who perpetually looks into the face of God and then goes forth to talk to others. The ministry of Christ is characterized by an abiding glory of which the servant is totally unaware— “…Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him” (Exodus 34:29).

We are never called on to display our doubts openly or to express the hidden joys and delights of our life with God. The secret of the servant’s life is that he stays in tune with God all the time.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

There is nothing, naturally speaking, that makes us lose heart quicker than decay—the decay of bodily beauty, of natural life, of friendship, of associations, all these things make a man lose heart; but Paul says when we are trusting in Jesus Christ these things do not find us discouraged, light comes through them.  The Place of Help, 1032 L


Andra Day – The Light That Never Fails

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