Archive for November, 2009

God Listens To Our Conversations

Daily God Walk for Monday, November 23, 2009

 Those who feared the Lord talked with each other and the Lord listened. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. “They will be mine,” says the Lord Almighty, “In the day when I make up my treasured possession.”  – Malachi 3:16-17

 What a statement this is, “Those who feared the Lord talked with each other and the Lord listened.” I can remember as a child my parents visiting with friends and invariably the conversation would to go the goodness of the Lord and the things he has done. According to this passage the Lord is listening in on those conversations.

Hearing my mom and dad sharing what they had seen God do and hearing their friends sharing what they had seen God do was like reading the faith chapter in Hebrews (Hebrews 11). They would talk of the time my brother died in an industrial accident and God brought him back.

 My dad told the story of being snatched by a cable from beneath a falling 40 ton chunk of concrete so quickly that those who were watching thought he was under it. Why was my dad spared? When he saw the concrete coming toward him he only had time to cry out, “Lord you know I’m not ready to die.” The Lord heard his cry and spared him.

There were times when the stories continued late into the night. Often I have fallen asleep to the familiar sound of my mother rejoicing in the stories of healing and redemption. All that time the Lord was listening.

God has been listening to every story of faith that has ever been shared among believers and he is keeping a book of remembrance. God has a treasure chest of stories which tell of victorious faith.

I have a box where I keep my precious things. There isn’t anything in there that would bring even a dollar in a garage sale, but they are all priceless to me. There are letters from my parents from my college days, and there is even a pair of my baby shoes. My first “preaching Bible” with many pages stained and torn from use is there.

One day, I’ll pass from this life and all of those priceless treasures will pass on to someone who may not value them as I do. But one day, We will be sitting around in heaven talking about the goodness of the Lord and he will bring out his book of precious treasures.

Principle: Those who talk about the Lord are his treasured possessions.

Affirmation: It is a joy to speak of the things of God with my friends.

 Prayer: Lord, I am thankful that you listen when I talk about you. Grant me the grace to talk to you more and to share your many blessings with others. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 86 – Hosea 1-2 – Revelation 3 – Proverbs 23

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Friends Among Believers

Daily God Walk for Sunday, November 22 2009

 I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.            – Psalm 119:63

 Many years ago I was holding a series of meetings at a church in California. There was a young man there that I only saw on the first night of the meetings and then again on the last night. Being friendly to him I mentioned that I had missed him. His reply took me back a little. He said, “I went fishing and I’m not backslid either.”

The depth of feeling in his response revealed something deeper than just a fishing trip. He wasn’t backslidden, but it was obvious that his affections were not with those who were seeking God. It wasn’t long until he didn’t have time for church and Christian fellowship at all.

The writer of this verse in the Psalms knew the value of being friends with others who fear the Lord and who follow his precepts. He knew that the people he called friends had an influence on his life and he wanted to be influenced in the ways of the Lord.

He also knew, as apostle James, that “friendship with the world is hatred toward God” (James 4:4). Jesus said something similar in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24).

When we are truly given to the Lord and his word we will seek out those who have the same belief system as do. We look for people to befriend who are going to strengthen our faith and inspire us to greater things in our God walk.

Who are your friends? Have you purposed to surround yourself with committed believers, or are you content with maintaining friendships with people who do not share your depth of commitment to the Lord? Your choice of friends reflects the depth of your faith.

 Principle: Your choice of friends reflects the depth of your faith.

 Affirmation: I seek the friendship of people who have great faith.

 Prayer: Lord, the world is attractive to me and I’m not sure I have the strength to resist it by myself. Grant me friends in the faith. Amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 56 – Song of Solomon 5-8 – Proverbs 22

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A True Friend Perseveres With Us

Daily God Walk for Saturday, November 21, 2009

 May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me.   – 2 Timothy 2:16-17

 

We know little about Onesiphorus for he is only mentioned briefly two times in Scripture, both times in 2 Timothy. We can only speculate as to the details of his life and relationship to Paul, but it can all be summed up in these two verses. We gain insight into the kind of man that he was and the commitment he had to his friend.

Paul prefaces his comments about Onesiphorus with verse 16, “You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me.” Paul was in chains and the others from Asia who had been with him there had fled back home, undoubtedly fearful for their own life.

Then he addresses the household of Onesiphorus contrasting him with the others by saying, “He often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.” While others were abandoning him His friend searched him out and ministered to him. A true friend will persevere to serve, even when they are in danger themselves.

We can’t know for sure, but by other comments Paul made this man had served well even at Ephesus, which was apparently his home. In fact, it is very likely that Onesiphorus was a convert of Paul when he was in Ephesus.

An interesting side note is the meaning of the name Onesiphorus. It is a Greek word that is a compound of two words. One word means to derive pleasure from and the other means to bring tribute or tax. Thus, the meaning of Onesiphorus becomes “profit bringer” or one who bears profit. That is exactly what he was to Paul.

When I think of my friends I don’t know if there are many who could say of me, “I am profited for having him as a friend.” However, I have had many friends who have blessed me in times of need and I certainly could not have done the things I have done in the kingdom of God had it not been for friends who were a great profit to the ministry.

I am convicted that I must be a more profitable friend.

 Principle: A true friend will serve even in the face of danger.

 Affirmation:  A am committed to being a true friend.

 Prayer: Lord, I have not always been a faithful friend. Grant me the grace to serve others above myself. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 119:161-168 – Song Solomon 3-4 – Proverbs 21 

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Friends Will Persevere For Friends

Daily God Walk for Friday, November 20, 2009

 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but  all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. – Romans 16:14

 Priscilla and Aquila are unique in New Testament times. Men are usually referred to in leadership roles like teaching and preaching, and women are often referred to in support roles. This couple are known as a team and many believe that Priscilla was the leader and primary speaker.

They, along with all the Jews in Rome, were expelled from Rome and sent to Corinth. It was in Corinth where they met Paul. Paul lived with them for about 18 months and apparently spent much time in the Scripture with them schooling them in the message of Christ.

In time Priscilla and Aquila followed Paul to Ephesus and settled there. It appears that it was in Ephesus that their popularity grew as teachers and leaders in the church there. When Paul is writing his letter to the church at Rome it appears that they are there in Rome. Later, they appear to have been back in Ephesus.

This couple, as so many have even today, committed their life to serving God wherever he led them. And, wherever they went they were recognized for their passion for Christ and their commitment to the gospel of the kingdom of God.

Paul mentions that they have risked their lives for him and not only for him but for all the churches in that region. Indeed, it appears that they arranged their lives and gave up their own dreams and ambitions for the sake of the gospel.

Tradition tells us that Aquila became the first bishop to Asia and that Priscilla and Aquila were martyrs for the gospel. They not only risked their lives but in the end gave their lives for the Christ they loved.

Priscilla and Aquila are a model of couples who are called to serve God in ministry. Such people are frontline warriors and merit our prayers. I encourage you to put pastors, missionaries and other ministry leaders  on your prayer list and pray for them regularly; they need the prayer and you need the practice.

 Principle: All God asks is you – are you willing to give yourself?

 Affirmation: Daily I ask, “How can I give myself today?”

 Prayer: Lord, this couple stand as a model for others to emulate. Grant me that grace. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 26 – Song Solomon 1-2 – Revelation 2 – Proverbs 20

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Jesus Shows The Full Extent Of His Love

Daily God Walk for Thursday, November 19, 2009

 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”   – John 13:1

 

We’ve all played the “How much do you love me” game with our children or our true love. They’ll ask how much do you love me and we will spread our arms as wide as we can and reply, “This much.” The reason it is that much is because that is far as our arms can reach.

When Jesus spread his arms as wide as he could to show how much he loved us they drove nails in his hands. The disciples and others knew he loved them, but they just didn’t know how much. It was Jesus himself who said, “No greater love has any man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

There were many who followed Jesus, and a few he called friends. He said, “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). This was not a statement he was making to coerce people into doing what he said, this is the statement that followed the one about giving your life for a friend.

The point Jesus was making is that the father was asking him to do what no one else could do and he would do it willingly for his friends. All he is asking his friends to do is realize the value of his friendship and respect his wishes and direction for their lives.

We know that while on this earth Jesus was God/man. He was both God and man, but it was not God who was dying on the cross it was the man in whom God dwelt. It was the man Jesus who would have his hands and feet nailed to the cross, a spear driven in his side and a mocking crown placed on his head.

It was this man who was driven to persevere all pain and humiliation to show his followers “the full extent of his love.” There is no sacrifice we could make that would equal his, but we are still asked to show our love by giving ourselves as he gave himself.

You have shown God and the world the full extent of your love – what have they seen to be the full extent of your love?

 Principle: God sees the extent of your love – what have you shown him?

 Affirmation: I am committed to obeying him, whatever he asks.

 Prayer: Thank you Lord for showing us how much you love us. Grant me the grace to return that love. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 145 – Esther 9-10 – Revelation 1 – Proverbs 19

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Committed To Christ – Even To Death

Daily God Walk for Wednesday, November 18, 2009

  Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” – John 11:16

 The setting for the Scripture reading today is that Jesus had been ministering with his disciples in Galilee and received word that Lazarus was sick and near death. After a few days Jesus decided to leave Galilee and go to Judea.

The disciples were perplexed. When they thought there was a chance to heal Lazarus they were willing to take the risk of going to Judea, but now he was more than likely dead and there would be no value in risking their lives just to visit his sisters.

They disciples argued with Jesus saying, “A short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?” After a bit of bantering the disciples showed their true devotion to Jesus.

Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go that we may die with him.” It is quite a fatalist perspective but it does demonstrate the depth of their commitment to the Christ. They were willing to follow him even if it meant their death.

Many today would say, “There is no value in following Jesus to sure death. I’ll just remain here and carry on when he is gone.” Very few are willing to pay the price of the kind of commitment that the disciples were making.

Some would call this blind faith, but people of faith do understand what was happening. It was not blind faith but their faith was being challenged. Were they willing to risk even death to follow Jesus whom they called Christ?

That is the question facing most of us today. Will we persevere in our devotion to Christ in the face of the most extraordinary trials? Are we willing to face rejection and persecution for Christ? Or will we find some way to excuse ourselves from the commitment required to follow him all the way?

To know him is to serve him and to serve him is to be willing to die for him.

 Principle: To serve him is to be willing to die for him.

 Affirmation: I am committed to go all the way with him, even to death.

 Prayer: Lord, I find myself sometimes making excuses as to why I can’t do a certain thing you have asked. Grant me grace to follow all the way.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 115 – Esther 7-8 – Jude  – Proverbs 18

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Committed To Serving Him

Daily God Walk for Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were May Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.                – Matthew 27:56

 

It was the saddest day in the lives of those who followed Jesus. He had endured a sham of a trial, brutal beatings, then the cross. The crowds had deserted him and his disciples were nowhere to be seen. All that is recorded is that there were a few women who stood at a distance and watched. They had come from Galilee to care for his needs.

There was Mary Magdalene, the woman who many believe was delivered from demons and freed from prostitution. There was also Mary the mother of James and Joses and thought also to be the mother of Jesus. Then there was the unnamed mother of the “sons of Zebedee.” This mother had hoped that the Christ would have a special place for her sons.

All of those who stood watching from a distance had a vested interest in the one who had just died on the cross. It was this connection of concern that drew them to risk their own safety to care for the needs of Jesus..

Some have commented about the fact that they watched from a distance and have left the impression that these women were less than fully committed. The point is that they did follow him and that they were there to minister to his needs on the day of his crucifixion.

The message I see in this vignette is that these women were willing to serve the one who had so greatly impacted their life. These are the ones who went to the Grave early on the morning of resurrection to prepare the body  of Jesus for its final interment  and they are the ones who found the empty tomb. It was their commitment to Jesus that led them to discover the resurrection.

Their commitment to the Christ took them to their greatest sorrow and ultimately to their greatest joy. We all need that kind of commitment.

 Principle: We who are redeemed are called to serve the redeemer.

 Affirmation: I am committed to serving the one who died for me.

 Prayer: Lord, you gave so much and I give so little. Grant me the grace to commitment my life fully to serving your kingdom. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 85 – Esther 5-6 – 3 John – Proverbs 17

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Elisha Pursued His Goal Resolutely

Daily God Walk for Monday, November 16, 2009

 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you. So they went down to Bethel.”  – 2 Kings 2:2 –

 Elijah was one of the most renowned prophets in Israel’s history and Elisha was his protégé. Elisha wanted to carry on the ministry of Elijah and he knew that he would have to stay close to him to learn all that he could. He also knew that the Lord was going to take Elijah soon, and Elisha wanted to be there to receive Elijah’s mantle of anointing.

Three times Elijah tried to send Elisha away, but Elisha would hear nothing of it. He knew that the thing he wanted most would be given him only if he stayed close to Elijah. As they were walking they came to the Jordan. Elijah took off his coat and struck the water with it. The water divide  and they crossed over on dry ground.

“When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what canI do for you before I am taken from you?’ ‘Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,’ Elisha replied. ‘You have asked a difficult thin,’ Elijah said, ‘yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours – otherwise not” (v9-11).

Elisha had been mentored by Elijah to be the next prophet in the land. One thing he had learned is that to be mentored by another person one must pursue the mentor with a passion. If Elisha had not had a firm resolve to be with Elijah when he was taken up he might have left when Elijah told him to go – but he didn’t because he was committed to getting the blessing.

We have all known people who were impressed by someone else and wanted to be mentored by them, but they lacked the tenacity to pursue their mentor. Usually a person worth emulating is a busy person and busy people require a lot of tenacity to get close to them. Elisha had that kind of perseverance in his pursuit of Elijah.

Perseverance in pursuit of a goal has great rewards.

Principle: Perseverance in pursuit of a goal has great rewards.

Affirmation: I resolutely pursue excellence in serving God.

 Prayer: Lord, I do desire your best for me, but it is easy to become sidetracked; grant me the grace to stay focused on you. In Jesus name, amen.

Bible Reading: Psalm 55 – Esther 3-4 – 2 John– Proverbs 16

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Enduring Friendship Requires Mutual Respect

Daily God Walk for Sunday, November 15, 2009

 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself…And Jonathan made a covenant with David.  – 1 Samuel 18:1-4

 The friendship of Jonathan and David is one the great stories in the Bible. Two young men, one was the son of a king the other would someday become king. Jonathon, the son of Saul, the king, and David, the son of Jesse, the shepherd. Men of differing status, but who had become as one in spirit.

If you know the story you know how that Saul sought to kill David, and had even ordered Jonathan to kill him, but Jonathan was true to the covenant he made with David. Every time his father would devise another plan to kill David Jonathan would warn him. Even though they were separated by time and circumstance they persevered in preserving their friendship.

We all need friends like that. Friends who will put their own ambition on the shelf and help us work through our difficult times. It is also just as important, and probably even more so, for us to be that kind of a friend.

I have friends who were homeless. Actually, I met them when they were homeless and we invited them to come live with us for a while until they could get on their feet. While they were living with us they recommitted their life to Christ and began to grow in spiritual maturity.

They have been living in their own place for nearly three years and don’t need our friendship to survive. However, our friendship never was based on need but rather mutual respect and the Holy Spirit knitting our hearts together. 

I have a physical condition that prevents me from doing much outside work and my friend has planted and maintained a garden for us. He regularly mows our yard and has planted flowers. We will leave town for a few days and when we return she has cleaned our house and washed our clothes.

The fact that my friends are from a different race has never been a factor in our friendship. Their friendship is a treasure I will cherish my entire life.

Principle: Lasting friendships are formed through mutual respect.

Affirmation: I am committed to building lasting relationships.

Prayer: Lord, grant me the grace to be a good friend. In Jesus name, amen.

Bible Reading: Psalm 25 – Esther 1-2 – Proverbs 15

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The Value Of Family Relationships

Daily God Walk for Saturday, November 14, 2009

 Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Y our people will be my people and your God my God.           – Ruth 1:16

 Tragedy had struck Naomi. Famine had struck and her family had fled to Moab to survive. In time her sons grew and married, then tragedy struck. First her husband died then her sons died. Now, widowed, in a foreign land with two daughters-in-law, she is in despair.

Naomi decides to leave Moab and go home. She is trying to send her daughters-in-law back to their old home, but Ruth will not go. That is the setting of our Scripture passage today.

When Naomi told Ruth to go back to her people her reply to Naomi was the inspiration for a song that is sometimes sung by a bride to her bridegroom, “Whether Thou Goest.” Ruth was not speaking to her groom, she was speaking to the mother of her deceased husband. However, the principle was the same; she had made a commitment to her husband that now carried to her mother-in-law.

It is hard to get the story of Ruth condensed to a few words, but the message which comes out of the story is the value of loyalty and perseverance in the face of adversity. Ruth was loyal to the family she had committed herself to. She was not only committed to Naomi, all that was left of the family, but she was also committed to Naomi’s God.

When we are tempted to give up on relationships in trying times we should remember the story of Ruth. We not only learn the value of loyalty, and commitment, but we learn the reward of perseverance.

The end of the story is that Ruth married a wealthy farmer, a relative of her deceased husband, and had a son whose name was Obed. Obed had a son whose name was Jesse. Jesse had a son whose name was David. Because of her perseverance Ruth is mentioned in Matthew as being in the lineage of Christ.

 Principle: Perseverance in the face of adversity pays great dividends.

 Affirmation: I continue being faithful to my commitments because it’s right.

 Prayer: Lord, it is a temptation to give up on relationships when we are required to step out of our comfort zone. Grant me the grace of Perseverance. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 119:153-160 – Nehemiah 13-14 –Proverbs 14

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Paul ”Hope Preacher” Smith

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