Archive for September, 2009

Be Strong In Grace

Daily God Walk for Wednesday, September 30, 2009

 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.  – 2 Timothy 2:1

Paul was instructing Timothy to be strong in the charis (grace) that he has received in Christ. A meaning of this Greek word, charis, is graciousness, or some would say, goodness. It especially applies to the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life (Strong’s Concordance).

How does one become strong in grace? By practicing grace, or goodness. The tendency for most of us is to learn a good thing, practice it for a while, then move on to another good thing. The result is that we know many things but do few things well.

Timothy and every believer who would read this passage is being instructed to continue practicing grace so that they would be strong in goodness. Practice gracious works of goodness and you will discover that grace will become the standard of your life.

Some have limited the word of grace to salvation, and missed the greater effect of grace in their lives. As we serve others graciously God’s gift of grace grows within us and we become stronger in our faith.

Another aspect of applying this passage is the “pass it on” concept. The lessons of faith we have learned are to be passed on to others. We are given the instruction to find others who will become faithful in grace, train them in being gracious, then challenge them to teach others the concepts of gracious living.

We are concluding September, a month of devotions on the virtue of goodness, with a challenge to seek the Lord for more grace, more goodness, in your life. Ask him how you can affect the world around you with kind acts of goodness. By practicing this you will grow strong in grace.

 Principle: Seek the Lord for more grace – then pass it on to others.

 Affirmation: I am practicing gracious living and passing it on to

Prayer: Lord, help me understand what it means to live my life in such a way that others are impacted by your goodness. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 47 – Jeremiah 49-50 – Titus 1 – Proverbs 30

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The Power Of A Good Eye

Daily God Walk for Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, our whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!                      –  Matthew 6:22-23

 Truth has little value if it is obscured by darkness. I have looked into many religions over the years and I have found that there is some truth in all religions. The unfortunate reality is that the effect of the truth is often overshadowed by the philosophies of men that house that truth.

Jesus was born into a religious community that was looking for a messiah to bring them deliverance from oppression. Jesus came to be that messiah, but he was not received by the religious leaders because the truth they had was obscured by the traditions they carried.

If Jesus had limited his mission to the philosophies and traditions of men he would not have accomplished the purposes he came to earth to accomplish.

Our traditions tend to put us in the position of covering our truth with the philosophies of men rather than exploring truth to find current applications. If the Jews of Jesus time would have followed his instructions to search the scriptures that testified of him they would have been able to reexamine their traditions in the light of who Jesus really was and what he came to do.

Most of us begin our journey of faith with a commitment to Christ then we become associated with a body of believers where we learn more truth along with the traditions of that body. The task that we face is discerning what is truth and what is tradition. Truth should be held on to at any cost; tradition should only be kept as long as it is functional and does not shield us from truth.

Jesus said, “If the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness?” I take that to mean that some folks who have a light are afraid of a greater light and consequently the light they shelter protects them from the light they could have, resulting in a form of darkness.

 Principle: Light that exposes traditions leads to greater light.

 Affirmation: I examine my traditions in the light of truth.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be willing to release traditions if those traditions prevent me from growing in grace. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 17 – Jeremiah 47-48 – 2 Timothy 4 – Proverbs 29

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Goodness Helps Us Understand God’s Authority

Daily God Walk for Monday, September 28, 2009

 The Spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely… That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. – James 4:5-7

 There is so much said in this chapter of James that we could take a month of devotions to cover it all. I’m going to try to summarize the thoughts in just a few paragraphs.

He addresses the tension that is among believers produced by each one trying to have things their own way. He basically says that they fight among themselves and only pray to gain more things to satisfy their cravings.

James speaks some pretty harsh words about the folks he was addressing and sums it up with, “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the word becomes an enemy of God.” That’s very strong language. I wonder how that would go over in churches today.

I can’t say it any better than The Message, so here is how it reads:

“You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”

 If we can learn the lesson that “The Spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely” we will pursue him with passion. It is with these things in mind that James writes, “Submit yourselves then to God.” The Spirit in us desires the way of God and calls us to surrender our will and our way to him.

 Principle: The Spirit in us calls us to surrender our will and our way to him.

Affirmation: Because surrender to his will because it is the source of life.

 Prayer: Lord, help me to see beyond my own desires to your will and your way. Help me surrender my all to you so that your goodness lives through me. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 136 – Jeremiah 45-46 – 2 Timothy 3 – Proverbs 28

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A Good Man Trusts God In All Things

Daily God Walk for Wednesday, September 23, 2009

 I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances….  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.  – Philippians 4:11-13

 The Apostle Paul endured a lot to be recognized as an apostle. He even calls himself an “apostle out of due season.” It took a while for the church leaders to accept him, and even then his road was not easy. Persecution and hardships became the norm for him.

When he wrote this letter to the church at Philippi he was in a Roman prison. What makes this passage so inspiring is that in the midst of such trials he writes, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” How could he say that while he was in chains?

Paul had learned that his life was in God’s hands and that he would accept whatever God brought his way. He wrote in Romans, “All things work together for the good to those who love the Lord and are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). That was his philosophy of life.

Because Paul knew that God was working out the circumstances of his life for his ultimate good and for the benefit of the kingdom of God, he was able to say, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength. He was saying he could endure all things, whether good or bad, because his eyes were on God.

Most of us would have complained about being kept from the ministry if we were in chains as Paul was. We would write letters to garner support to hire the best attorneys to get us out of prison. What did Paul do? He wrote encouraging letters to believers in the churches where he had ministered.

A large portion of the New Testament was written by Paul when he was in prison. Can you see the hand of God? It would have been difficult, if not impossible, for him to do all that writing while he was walking through Europe and Asia preaching the gospel. He trusted the purposes of God.

 Principle: The Holy Spirit enables us to endure all things with contentment.

 Affirmation: I practice communing with the Holy  Spirit to find contentment.

 Prayer: Lord, like everyone else I tend to be influenced by the circumstances. Give me grace to trust you in all things – the good and the bad. Amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 16 – Jeremiah 35-36 – 1 Timothy 6 – Proverbs 23

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Zerubbabel – Given God’s Grace To Build The Temple

Daily God Walk for Sunday, September 20, 2009

 Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God.           – Ezra 3:2

 There were three notables in the era of the Jews returning to Jerusalem. We have already taken a brief look at Ezra, the scholar priest, who was given the responsibility to re-establish the Law of Moses and Jehovah worship. And we have looked at Nehemiah who was called by God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem so that those who were committed to serving the true God could live in safety. Now we take a brief look at Zerubbabel and his work.

Little is known of Zerubbabel except that he was committed to rebuilding the temple of the Lord at Jerusalem. He knew that the Jews needed a physical place where they could connect with their God.

Without the temple there was no point of focus for believers. One reason the people kept falling into idolatry was that idol worship provided a focal point for them. The people needed the temple to remain faithful to the Law that  had restored to them. Zerubbabel was given grace to build the temple.

The need for people to have a focal point for worship has not changed. We still need the temple of the Lord; and we still have the temple of the Lord, but it is different than the old temple. In the old temple there must be a priest who brought their sin offerings before the Lord and offer the blood of animals for atonement, in the new temple the Lord himself is the priest.

Today, there is no longer a physical temple in which the Lord dwells, but he dwells in the heart of every believer. There are no more priests making sacrifice  because Jesus, the high priest of our faith, has made the final sacrifice for sin. Jesus, the high priest, now dwells in his temple; our heart.

God has chosen to make his temple in the hearts of men. We have learned that the law alone will not save us. We have also learned that we must open our hearts to be the temple of the Lord. And finally, we have learned that we must build walls of consecration to keep our faith pure.

 Principle: Jesus is both priest and sacrifice and dwells in the hearts of believers.

 Affirmation: I trust Christ who is in the temple of the Lord – my heart.

 Prayer: Lord, help me keep your temple pure. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 75 – Jeremiah 29-30 – Proverbs 20

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Nehemiah – A Man With God’s Favor

Daily God Walk for Saturday, September 19, 2009

 Remember me with favor, O my God, for all I have done for these people.   – Nehemiah 5:19

 The book of Nehemiah has long been one of my favorite books of the Bible. It tells the story of Nehemiah, who held a high position in the palace of Artexerxes king of Persia, and his devotion to Jerusalem, his home land.

Visitors from Jerusalem had arrived and Nehemiah inquired about the state of affairs there. He was greatly disturbed by the news that the city was in bad shape. The walls were destroyed and the gates to the city had been burned.

The king noticed that Nehemiah seemed discouraged and asked what was wrong. When he shared the news God gave him favor with the king and the king took up the cause with him. He was sent to Jerusalem with enough money and supplies to rebuild the walls.

When he arrived there he was as moved by the condition of the people as he was the condition of the walls. The elders and leaders were taking advantage of the poor farmers and the workers.  They were extracting heavy taxes from their own people, causing them to have to sell their children into slavery so that the elders could live in luxury.

The true character of Nehemiah was shown when he refused to live lavishly and demanded that the elders return the monies they had unfairly extracted from the people. All of this is recorded in Nehemiah chapter five. Nehemiah’s prayer for God’s favor is at the end of this chapter that tells of the reform he brought to the political structure of Jerusalem.

The true character of a person is shown when he is given authority over others. Nehemiah had been appointed governor over Jerusalem, but he did not use his office to demand payment from the people. He had God’s favor because he was gracious to those over whom he had authority.

We should learn from Nehemiah’s example. Our character is tested and demonstrated by how we treat people of less standing than ourselves.

 Principle: How we treat those who are in need reveals our own character.

 Affirmation: I purpose not to take advantage of those of less position.

 Prayer: Lord, I know that it is less than noble to gain at the expense of others and I need your grace to consider the needs of others first. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm119:89-96– Jeremiah 27-28– 1 Timothy 3 – Proverbs 19

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Noah – A Man Of Grace And Goodness

Daily God Walk for Thursday, September 17, 2009

 God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually… And the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth”… But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.  – Genesis 6:5-8

 What a statement! “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” All the people of the earth were filled with evil imaginations and God said he would destroy all of mankind, but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

The Hebrew word translated “grace” means graciousness, kindness or goodness. When God was contemplating the destruction that would come upon the world he looked at Noah and saw that we was a good, kind and gracious man. The Message says it this way; “God liked what he saw in Noah.”

Because of what God saw in Noah he gave him grace, or favor. It would be a wonderful testimony if it was said of any of us, “When God looked at so and so he liked what he saw.” We don’t know just what God saw in Noah, but it seems that he was gracious enough to get the attention of the Lord and for God to use him as an instrument of salvation for his family and the animals of the world.

One of the lessons we learn from the example of Noah is that God didn’t call Noah because he was building a big boat. Noah wasn’t trying to be something he wasn’t, neither was he trying to become something that was beyond him – Noah was just being Noah; a gracious, kind and good man. He was an anomaly in his culture, but that didn’t bother him.

Another lesson we can learn from Noah is that when God spoke to him he listened. He not only listened but he did what God instructed him to do. A big part of gaining the favor of God is being obedient to what he has instructed us to do. God is not looking for super stars, but he is looking for someone whose ego doesn’t get in the way of what he is needed to do.

 Principle: Live so that God will like what he sees in you.

 Affirmation: I daily strive to submit to the goodness of the Holy Spirit.

 Prayer: Lord, I don’t want to be a Noah or anything, but I do want to live so that when you look at me you like what you see. Help me live that way. Amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 15 – Jeremiah 23-24 – 1 Timothy 1 – Proverbs 17

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Paul ”Hope Preacher” Smith

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