Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Daily Diligence

Sunset violinist
Sunset violinist,
originally uploaded by L e f t y J o r.
Read: 2 Timothy 2:3-16
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. —2 Timothy 2:15

Internationally acclaimed violinist Midori believes that focused, diligent practice is the key to performance. While playing a rigorous schedule of 90 concerts a year, she still practices an average of 5 or 6 hours a day. Jane Ammeson, in NWA WorldTraveler magazine, quoted Midori as saying: “I have to practice for my job and I practice every day. . . . It’s not really the hours, but the quality of the work that needs to be done. I see with students, that they play and they call it practice, but they are not listening and not watching. If you have your textbook open, it doesn’t mean that you are studying.”
That same principle applies to our walk of faith. Paul wrote to Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Diligence implies constant, earnest effort, and is the opposite of a careless, inattentive approach. It embraces every aspect of our relationship with God.
Just as a musician strives for excellence, we should want to serve God with confidence, seek His approval, and skillfully share His Word with others.
Am I diligently studying, praying, and listening to the Lord today?

When we live with expectancy,
Awaiting Christ’s return,
Our diligent obedience
Becomes our main concern. —Sper
God speaks to those who take time to listen, and He listens to those who take time to pray.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Special Virtue

Read: 1 Cor. 9:24-27
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. —Galatians 5:22-23

In her book Food in Medieval Times, author Melitta Adamson writes of European culinary delights in the Middle Ages. Wild game, pastries, puddings, and other exotic foods illustrate the creative joy taken in food preparation. But with all these wonderful entrĂ©es there was a problem—overeating. This tendency was compounded by the Christian calendar, which abounded with fasts and feasts. Abstaining from meals was often followed by gluttony.
To address this problem, theologian Thomas Aquinas uplifted the Christian character quality of temperance, calling it “a special virtue.” He saw how self-restraint should extend to all areas of life.
For the believer, temperance, or moderation, does not derive from sheer human willpower. Instead, it comes from the Holy Spirit who gives us self-control: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). Self-control is the Spirit-produced quality that enables us to be “temperate in all things” (1 Cor. 9:25).
Overindulgence in food, rest, work, recreation, ministry, and a variety of “good things” can be corrected only through the balance of self-control. Take a few minutes to ask God to produce that special virtue in you.

If gaining the fruit of self-control
Is something you’re trying to do;
Submit your will in everything
To the Spirit living in you. —Kieda
To gain self-control, give the Spirit control.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Aim High!

Aim high !
Aim high ! ,
originally uploaded by pfala.
Read: Hebrews 5:12–6:3
Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. —2 Corinthians 13:11

When my daughter and her family were in town for a visit, I had a chance to take my son and two sons-in-law out for a “guy” outing.
We decided that while the ladies were shopping, we would go to a firing range and practice shooting. We rented two pistols and took aim at our targets. While shooting, all four of us discovered that on one of the firearms the sight was set too low. If we aimed using that sight, we hit the bottom of the target. We had to aim high in order to hit anywhere near the bull’s-eye.
Isn’t life a lot like that? If we set our sights too low, we really don’t accomplish all that we can. Sometimes we have to aim high in order to reach a desired goal.
What should be our aim in life? How high should we point our ambitions? Well, since Scripture is our true guide, we will shoot for nothing but spiritual maturity. In fact, in Paul’s farewell to the people of Corinth, he said, “Aim for perfection” (2 Cor. 13:11 NIV). And we also have the high aim of these words from the lips of Jesus, “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).
Perfection is a lofty target, and we won’t attain it in this life. But if we want to honor God and get close to that high goal, we need to aim high.

O to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear. —Chisholm
Conversion is the miracle of a moment; maturing takes a lifetime.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

God’s Presence At Church

originally uploaded by ianchan1949.
Read: Colossians 1:9-14
Walk worthy of the Lord. —Colossians 1:10

I love reading church slogans. You know, the ones you see on the marquee in front of churches. Recently I noticed a slogan that said, “Come in and experience the presence of God.” That one caught my attention, primarily because it’s an important promise to make and sometimes a hard promise to keep. Hard, because if we’re not careful our churches might reflect the presence of its people more than the presence of our God.
So what would a church have to do to display the presence of God? Its people would have to live like Him! Dynamics like hospitality, the loving acceptance of all kinds of people, a quickness to serve, a tangible love for one another that makes people feel safe and included regardless of color or class, and a patient tolerance of one another’s weaknesses would all be a great way to start. Paul said we should walk in a manner “worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:10). And he also said that being worthy means that we will be humble, gentle, bearing with one another in love, eagerly maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:2-3).
Let’s live in such a way that others will experience the presence of the God who lives in us—wherever we are, but especially at church.

The world gets a glimpse of God
When those who claim to be
The followers of Jesus Christ
Are living righteously. —Sper
Those who walk with Christ
bring the presence of God to everyone around them.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Remember John-The Ordinary People

Read: 2 Kings 5:1-15
Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel. —2 Kings 5:15

John is a humble, uneducated man. Yet God used him to start the peace process in Mozambique. His name is not mentioned in any official documents; all he did was arrange a meeting between two of his acquaintances— Kenyan Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat and a Mozambican. But that introduction set in motion the events that led to a peace treaty after a 10-year civil war.
From that experience, Ambassador Kiplagat learned the importance of respecting everyone. “You never dismiss people because they are not educated, because they are white, because they are black, because they are women, because they are old or young. Every encounter is sacred, and we need to value that encounter,” the ambassador said. “You never know what word might be there for you.”
The Bible confirms that this is true. Naaman was a great man in Syria when he got the dreaded disease of leprosy. A servant girl whom he had captured from Israel told Naaman’s wife that the prophet Elisha could heal him. Because Naaman was willing to listen to this lowly servant girl, his life was spared and he came to know the one true God (2 Kings 5:15).
God often speaks through those to whom few are willing to listen. To hear God, be sure to listen to the humble.

God often uses lowly things
His purpose to fulfill,
Because it takes a humble heart
To carry out His will. —D. De Haan
God uses ordinary people to carry out His extraordinary plan.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It Can Never Happen To Me

Read: Psalm 30:6-12
Now in my prosperity I said, “I shall never be moved.” —Psalm 30:6

Actor Christopher Reeve was para- lyzed in a horseback riding accident in 1995. Prior to this tragedy, he had played the part of a paraplegic in a movie. In preparation, Reeve visited a rehabilitation facility. He recalled: “Every time I left that rehab center, I said, ‘Thank God that’s not me.’ ” After his accident, Reeve regretted that statement: “I was so setting myself apart from those people who were suffering without realizing that in a second that could be me.” And sadly, for him, it was.
We too may look at the troubles of others and think that it could never happen to us. Especially if our life journey has led to a measure of success, financial security, and family harmony. In a moment of vanity and self-sufficiency, King David admitted to falling into the trap of feeling invulnerable: “Now in my prosperity I said, ‘I shall never be moved’” (Ps. 30:6). But David quickly caught himself and redirected his heart away from self-sufficiency. He remembered that he had known adversity in the past and God had delivered him: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing” (v.11).
Whether He has brought us blessing or trial, God still deserves our gratitude and trust.

I can always count on God, my heavenly Father,
For He changes not; He always is the same;
Yesterday, today, forever, He is faithful,
And I know He loves me, praise His holy name. —Felten
In good times and bad, our greatest need is God.