Archive for September, 2009



Gives Thanks For His Love Endures Forever

Daily God Walk for Sunday, September 13, 2009

 Give thanks to the Lord for he is good –  His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods – His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of Lords – His love endures forever.

 

To him who alone does great wonders –  His love endures forever

… who by his understanding made the heavens – His love endures forever.

… who spread out the earth upon the waters – His love endures forever.

 

Who made the great lights – His love endures forever.

… the sun to govern the day – His love endures forever.

… the moon and stars to govern the night – His love endures forever.

 

[Give thanks to the Lord of Lords]… to the One who remembered us in our low estate – His love endures forever

…and freed us from our enemies – His love endures forever

…and who gives food to every creature – His love endures forever

Give thanks to the God of heaven – His love endures forever. – Psalm 136

 

The psalmist is heralding the goodness of God as he tells the story of Israel being led out of Egypt to the promised land. This psalm is antiphonal, much the same as scripture reading in a service when a leader will read a portion of scripture, or make a declaration, and the congregation will affirm what is said in unison.

You can imagine the emotion generated when hearing these statements made to the congregation then hearing thousands of people respond with, “His love endures forever.” The purpose of this psalm is to point to the goodness of God in redemption and to reiterate his enduring love and grace.

I encourage you to make a list of events in your life when the hand of the Lord was evident and after each entry write, “His love endures forever.” When you have done that get with friends or family and recite it together.

 Principle: Remembering God’s works reminds us of his enduring love.

 Affirmation: I will take time to reflect on the goodness of God.

 Prayer: Lord, you have been so good to me and my family. I agree with the psalmist that your love does endure forever. Amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 44 – Jeremiah 15-16 – Proverbs 13

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Jesus – Our Example Of Doing Good

Daily God Walk for Wednesday, September 9, 2009

  God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and… he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.              – Acts 10:38

 God was not only in the Christ but it was the God in Christ that anointed him with power to go around doing good, healing the sick and casting out demons. The good that Jesus did is an example of the good God wants to continue to do through those who have the Spirit of the Christ in them today.

There is far less of the power of God being made manifest in the world of believers today because too many of us receive the power of God unto salvation, and the power of God to live a godly life, but we do not receive the power of God to affect the world around us.

Our relationship with God is more ego-centric than it is theo-centric and others oriented. We tend to be in relationship with God because of what he can do for us rather than for what we can do for him and the world around us.

The primary function of the power of God in Jesus when he was on the earth was to do the works of God. The works of God include teaching the truth of the kingdom of God, restoring mankind to relationship with God and answering the ills of mankind, including poverty, sickness and demonization, by the power of God.

Those of us who have received the Spirit of the Christ, and claim the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, have access to the same power and have the same responsibility to carry the message of the kingdom to our world. Jesus said as he was leaving this world, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Mark 16 records certain signs that would be evidences of believing in the Christ. The book of mark ends with this verse: “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Think about it.

 Principle: We must have power to affect the world to fulfill God’s purposes.

 Affirmation: Without God I can do nothing – With God all things are possible.

 Prayer: Lord, help me to take the focus off of what you can do for me and focus on what I can do for you and the world around me. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 103 – Jeremiah 7-8 – 1 Thessalonians 3   – Proverbs 9

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Called By The Goodness Of God

Daily God Walk for Tuesday, September 8, 2009

 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.       – 2 Peter 1:3

 

From before the age of time and creation God had a purpose for mankind. Even before the first man walked on this earth God had already planned to have a people to whom he could show his glory and the goodness of his nature.

It was with his purpose in mind that God established the laws that govern nature and man’s relationship with him. God knows that by living in harmony with the laws of nature we are in harmony with creation and with him. The problem that we as humans have is that we are not inclined to submit to a higher order, but our desire is to establish our own order.

From Adam and Eve partaking of the forbidden fruit to the Tower of Babel man has shown himself to be in rebellion against God’s order. It is that warring against the divinely established order that has created the ills of the world. War, famine and disease are all the result of man’s rebellion against God.

The good news is that God has made available all that we need to live in harmony with him and his creation. By grace he has given us the ability to live godly through faith in our knowledge of him. It is his goodness that has called us into his glory and by his grace he has given us life that is eternal.

God has not only called us, but he has also empowered us, to show the world his glory through living out the goodness of a godly life. Our challenge is that we must turn loose of our self-oriented nature and commit ourselves to living according to his purposes. When we do that he graciously honors our faith by releasing his goodness to us. That is his glory in the world today.

Paul, in Colossians 1:27, speaks of God’s hope and says it is “Christ in you.” Yes, the purpose of God from before creation was that his goodness would be known to the world through the Christ he would birth in us.

 Principle: God’s purpose is to show his goodness through Christ in us.

 Affirmation: The grace of God enables me to display the glory of his goodness.

 Prayer: Lord, it is my nature to want to do it my way, but I am learning that my way is not adequate. Grant me the grace to walk in your way. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 73  – Jeremiah 6-7 – 1 Thessalonians 2 – Proverbs 8

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His Power In Us Fulfills Every Good Purpose

Daily God Walk for Monday, September 7, 2009

 We constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.          – 2 Thessalonians 1:11

 I have often been amused by new converts who are so excited about what God has done in them that they believe everyone in the world would believe if they just had the chance. With faith, courage and boldness they set out to win the world only to find out that the rest of the world is just as disinterested in hearing the gospel as they were before their conversion.

It has saddened me to watch as these newly enthused believers become disillusioned with witnessing and conclude that “no one wants to hear the gospel.” The fact is that people do not want the gospel preached to them – they want to see it lived before them.

What is the gospel? It is not the doctrine that we have developed from the life of Christ, but it is the effect of the Christ-life. Jesus came with the purpose bringing the good news of restoration to the poor, the broken hearted, the afflicted and the oppressed – and he did restore them.

I believe that Paul’s prayer in this passage is that we who have received the grace of God, and have been empowered by the Holy Spirit, will affect the world with the good works produced by our faith. It is not the words of the gospel that changes lives it is the work of the gospel.

The most respected person of the modern age is a woman who surrendered all of her life to serving needy children in India. Just the mention of Mother Theresa evokes reverence and admiration. The power of this woman of God was not in her words but in her deeds.

Our prayer for the church today should be that we who are believers in the Christ will accept the power he has given us to do the good works of the gospel so that the world will know that God is alive and will give them life.

 Principle: The gospel is more than words – it is the effect of the Christ-life.

 Affirmation: I serve others so they will hear what they see.

 Prayer: Lord, grant me the grace to show the world the good purposes you have placed in me by serving them with good works. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 43   – Jeremiah 5-6 – 1 Thessalonians 1 – Proverbs 7

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Believers Are Full Of Goodness

Daily God Walk for Sunday, September 6, 2009

 I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. – Romans 15:14

 Mankind by nature has some sense of goodness about him. We tend to want the best for everyone and we are willing to help others, as long as it doesn’t interfere with what we are trying to achieve for ourselves. By nature we are benevolent to the point that our benevolence begins to affect our own lifestyle. At that point we begin to choose our own comfort and satisfaction over the needs and desires of others.

While that is the nature of man in his natural state, we who have been born into the family of God possess a different nature. When we are enthused with the nature of Christ our purposes change and our objectives are set by agape love rather than being driven toward self-fulfillment.

Paul is expressing to the church at Rome the concept that believers are given to a different standard than the world. He writes, “you are full of goodness.” The Greek word used here for goodness is “agathosune.” The meaning of this word is “virtue,” or “beneficence.” Virtue I know, but beneficence I had to look up.

Virtue is simply moral excellence. Paul was saying that the Roman church was full of moral excellence. But the word beneficence is more than that. A benefice is an endowment, as in the case of a wealthy person giving an endowment to a university with the goal of granting scholarships to worthy students from the interest produced by wise investment of the endowment. Beneficence is the state of being enabled by the benefice to do good works.

When Paul tells the Romans that they are full of goodness he is telling them that the Spirit of Christ has filled them with moral excellence and has equipped and enabled them to accomplish beneficent, or benevolent, works.

It is the virtue of Christ that has been placed in us as an endowment that enables us to reach beyond our own comfort to serve the needs of others.

 Principle: God has endowed us with moral excellence.

 Affirmation: I am committed to serving with moral excellence.

 Prayer: Lord, grant me the grace to allow your virtue to be my guide in life and to serve the needs of others with agape love. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 13 – Jeremiah 3-4 – Proverbs 6

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The Fruit Of Light Consists In All Goodness

Daily God Walk for Saturday, September 5, 2009

  You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consist in all goodness, righteousness and truth).   – Ephesians 5:8-9

 The things we did before we knew Christ may not have been evil in the sense of being sinister or malicious, but they were certainly evil in the sense that our will is at odds with God’s will. Many times Jesus refers to the evil of man, but not always in the sense of being malicious.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:11, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.” When Jesus called the crowd evil he did not imply that they were mean, he was simply showing that even flawed humanity will treat their children well and in like manner the Father treats us well.

If we understand that the evil which is in all men is the darkness that keeps men separated from God, then we can better understand the value of being in the light. In this passage Paul is making a distinction between those who are in darkness, satisfying their worldly desires, and those who have entered the light and whose deeds consist of all goodness, righteousness and truth.

This fruit of the Spirit we call goodness is more than good deeds. It is what is alive on the inside of us. In darkness we gratified the fleshly desires but in the light our desires have changed. The fruit of being light is that we desire goodness. Righteousness flows from us because of the goodness of the Holy Spirit in us.

Far too many believers see the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit only in the light of eternal redemption and do not see how our everyday life is to be affected. We cannot live in the Spirit and respond as the world responds; we cannot live in the Spirit and desire wealth, fame and ambition as the world does. If those things have a strong influence in our life then we have not fully come out of the darkness. Think about it.

 Principle: It is the nature of darkness in man that separates him from the light.

 Affirmation: I am committed to living in the light of God’s grace.

 Prayer: Lord, at times I can feel the tug of this world drawing me back toward the darkness. Grant me grace to continue in the light. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 119:73-80 – Jeremiah 1-2 – Proverbs 5

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Overcome Evil With Good

Daily God Walk for Friday, September 4, 2009

  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:21

 It seems that the rule of thumb before the age of grace was “an eye for an eye.” In fact, that is what is stated in the law. However, that particular law was not given as an exact measure by which all things should be judged. Rather it was given as a rule of maximum retribution.

This law was designed to set limits on retribution. If by the fault of another one’s eye was put out the offended party is not given the right to go on a rampage and kill the offender. The offending party could only exact as much from the offender as the damage he had caused.

In the age of grace we are given a new law regarding retribution for offense. The new law is “overcome evil by returning kindness for evil.” How does one do that? By trusting God to be our avenger. When we take heed to his warning, “Do not take revenge… but leave room for God’s wrath,” we are affirming our faith in the Lord to be both our protector and our avenger.

There are few things more humbling to those who have done evil toward us than for us to shower kindness upon them. When we return kindness for evil we demonstrate a goodness that can only be gained through being born into God’s kingdom and submitted to the Holy Spirit.

The idea of returning kindness for evil is not so we can hide around the corner and wait for the judgment of God to fall upon our enemies. God’s purpose is to give the offender an opportunity to repent, turning to God and asking forgiveness for their sins.

If we exact justice and demand retribution from the offender they will not have an opportunity to see the love of God in action. Yes, we will be vindicated, but the probable result is that our enemy will still be our enemy and they will not come to repentance because we did not allow God to use us as an instrument of grace.

 Principle: We are an instrument of grace when we return good for evil.

 Affirmation: By God’s grace I respond to evil with good deeds.

 Prayer: Lord, it isn’t easy foregoing the right to exact equal justice from my enemies. Grant me the grace to do that. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 132– Isaiah 65-66 – Colossians 4 –   Proverbs 4

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The Holy Spirit Makes Us A Good Tree

Daily God Walk for Thursday, September 3, 2009

  Make a tree good and the fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad…The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.   – Matthew 12:33,35

 Jesus uses this apt analogy of a tree that produces fruit to demonstrate how our lives produce fruit. Just as with the tree, the fruit we produce comes from the life that is within us. If our life has been infected by the world’s attitudes, desires and ambitions, then the fruit of our life will reflect that.

Christ was teaching this lesson in response to the Pharisees who were spreading the rumor that he did his works by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. He begins a rebuke of the Pharisees by inquiring, “If I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out?” (v27). The unspoken answer is that they do not drive out demons.

It was by the power of God that Jesus did good works, and it is by the power of God that we are enabled to do good works. If we are to produce good fruit it will only be because the Holy Spirit has placed his life in us. When we live out the life of Christ, as we are enabled by the Holy Spirit, we will only have good stored inside us. If we only have good stored inside us then only good will come out of us. Thus, the Holy Spirit makes us a good tree.

This Spring we bought three tomato plants to raise a few tomatoes. We watched anxiously as the plants grew and began to sprout tiny buds. Soon the buds turned to very small tomatoes. They were at first green, then slowly they turned red. They looked very good, but the first one we pulled off was rotten on the bottom. Then we watched each tomato ripen and become rotten on the bottom.

What was wrong with our tomatoes? We found out that these otherwise healthy looking plants had a disease. We weren’t aware of the disease until the fruit was tested. When the fruit of  your life is tested, what will it reflect?

 Principle: The Holy Spirit makes us a good tree.

 Affirmation: I practice nurturing the Holy Spirit in me to produce good fruit.

 Prayer:. Lord, I tend to be tainted by the world around me. Grant me the grace of being committed to the work of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus name, amen.

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Add To Your Faith Goodness

Daily God Walk for Wednesday, September 2, 2009

 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him… Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises… For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness… If you possess these qualities… they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive.                    – 2 Peter 1:3-8

 It is interesting that Peter uses a different word for goodness here than Paul uses for goodness in Galatians. Paul uses the Greek word, “agathosune,” which means “virtue, beneficence” or simply goodness. Peter uses the word, “arête.” This word means “Any excellence of a person, or of a thing, an eminent endowment, property or quality. Used of the human mind and in an ethical sense, it denotes a virtuous course of thought, feeling and action; virtue, moral goodness” (Thayer’s).

In the devotion for yesterday we looked at man’s inability to be good, or virtuous, on his own, yet Peter is telling believers to add virtue, or goodness to their faith. How does one do that? We’ll be exploring that question throughout this month, but let’s begin with Paul’s instruction in Philippians.

In Philippians 4:8 Paul writes, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” The word translated “excellent” in this passage is the same word as “goodness” in our text passage. The KJV translates this word “virtue.”

Peter is telling us to add the virtue of excellence to our faith, and Paul, in Philippians is telling us how to do that. We add excellence, or virtue, by guarding what we think. He instructs us to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.

We all know that is what we are supposed to do, but how do we do that? We appeal to the Holy Spirit. We first submit to the Lordship of Christ then we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we open ourselves to become bearers of his fruit. We do that with our focus on the virtuous thoughts Paul mentions.

 Principle: We bear Spiritual fruit when we think on the right things.

 Affirmation: I submit to the Spirit, think on right things, and bear good fruit.

 Prayer: Lord, help me to think the thoughts that produce the virtue of excellence. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 72 – Isaiah 61-62– Colossians 2 – Proverbs 2

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Fruit of Spirit: Goodness

Daily God Walk for Tuesday, September 1, 2009

 The fruit of the Spirit is… goodness… Against such there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.       – Galatians 5:22-24

 I was talking to a friend recently. He is a good man and lives a morally upright life. We were talking about the Christian life and the varying opinions about how a believer should live. He stated his belief as this; “As long as a person tries to do what is right he is going to be alright.”

We would all agree that a person should try to do what is right, but is that really the answer to the question, “How should a believer live?” In our theme passage for this series of devotions we are given a number of virtues that are called “Fruit of the Spirit.” We are also given a contrasting set of characteristics that are called, “Acts of the sinful nature.” How does one change from doing the behaviors of the sinful nature to exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit?

Can we grow the fruit of the Spirit in our lives by “trying to do good?” We can reach a certain level of success in that endeavor, but inevitably we fall short. In fact, when we are trying to do what is right according to what we feel is right we are often at odds with what the Spirit is trying to lead us to do.

Paul deals with this dilemma in Romans 7. He concludes that the law is good, but man by his own efforts cannot successfully perform its obligations. This leaves man frustrated with the realization that, though he struggle valiantly, he is bound to a body of sin that separates from God and leads to death. What then is the answer?

He gives us the answer in Romans 7:24-25, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

The Holy Spirit, through his indwelling presence, produces the fruit of goodness in us. All he asks is that we give him control of our life and allow him to produce the fruit that we could never produce on our own.

 Principle: The Holy Spirit produces fruit in us that we can’t grow ourselves.

 Affirmation: I consciously yield to the Holy Spirit so his fruit can grow in me.

 Prayer:  Lord, you know I have tried to do right, but I so often fall short. Grant me the grace of surrendering to the Holy Spirit. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 42– Isaiah 59-60 – Colossians 1 – Proverbs 1

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Paul ”Hope Preacher” Smith

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