Archive for September, 2011

Our Greatest Ability is Availability

Daily God Walk for Friday, September 30, 2011

 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” – Matthew 16:24

Far too often today we hear a message taught that if we just come to Jesus he will give us everything we need without teaching the corresponding call to responsible discipleship. We are promised that God will supply all of our needs according to his riches (Philippians 4:19), but that is only half the story.

When Jesus called people to follow him he wasn’t inviting them to a Sunday afternoon picnic. He was asking them to make a radical change in the focus of their lives. The Greek word here translated “deny” is aparneomai and means to disown. Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon says, “to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests.”

William Borden got the message of self denial as a teenager. Born into a wealthy family his was sent him on a journey to see the world after his high school graduation. He was so moved by the poverty and wretchedness he saw around the world that he gave himself fully to God and committed to be a missionary. Upon making that commitment he wrote two words in the back of his Bible, “No Reserve.”

Through college at Yale he stirred his classmate so deeply that by the time he graduated there were over 1000 students meeting for weekly prayer. After graduation he was offered many high paying positions, but turned them down so that he could pursue being a missionary. He wrote two more words in his Bible: “No Retreat.”

On his way to China as a missionary he contracted spinal meningitis and was dead within a month. Before he died he wrote two more words in his Bible: “No regrets.”

William Borden’s life, short as it was has had an eternal impact. Jesus is calling you and I to make such a commitment. Does your life reflect no reserve, no retreat and no regrets?

 Prayer: Lord, grant me the grace to live for you and at the end of my life to say no reserve, no retreat, and no regrets.

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Be Content With What God Gives You

Daily God Walk for Thursday, September 29, 2011

 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with wheat you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13-5

 We live in an age of malcontent. People are not satisfied with the government. The economy is in the tank. Relationships are breaking down and families are being scattered.

Charles Dickens captured the moment when he wrote the opening paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Doesn’t that sound like the way it is today? There is so much frustration that some are predicting some kind of revolution. Yet, in the middle of all this the flowers bloom, the geese fly south in the fall, and north in the spring. The Sun rises and sets everyday. And the Lord has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

By all reports we are facing hard economic times, not only in our nation but around the world. And in that context the author of Proverbs writes, “Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.”

The Apostle Paul speaks of the trials and troubles he faced in several of his writings. In Philippians he was writing about being content in whatever state a person finds himself. He speaks of being in want, and having plenty. Then he says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” And to show his faith he says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

A greater part of faith is learning to have godly contentment.

 Prayer: Lord, help me to be content with what you provide. Amen.

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The Diligent Reap the Reward

Daily God Walk for Wednesday, September 28, 2011

 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. – Hebrews 6:11-12

 Hebrews 6 begins with an admonition to move beyond the most elementary teachings about Christ and move toward maturity. As we mature we should be able to build our lives on the foundation of repentance, faith, baptism, and concern for the judgment. The writer is not saying that we should now ignore these issues, but that once we have reached maturity we do not need to continue going back to address them.

What does that mean to us in a practical sense? It means that when we are growing in maturity we have already established a lifestyle of repentance. We are continually turning away from our flesh born desires and we are turning toward Christ.

It also means that when we have grown in our faith we should have a sense of security in our relationship with the Lord and we should no longer be concerned about judgment. We are not concerned with judgment because our life has been made holy by faith in Christ and it is he who lives through us now.

As the writer is encouraging others in faith he warns that land which does not bare good produce is in danger of being cursed (just as Jesus cursed the fig tree and it withered).

Finally he says, “Even though we speak this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case – things that accompany salvation” (v9). He warns them then speaks encouragement to them.  Then he addresses the subject of diligence.

“We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end.”He speaks of those “who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” Diligence, faith and patience are the marks of faithful saints.

In another place Apostle Paul tells us the race doesn’t go to the one runs the fastest but it goes to the one who endures to the end. God has promised the diligent a great eternal inheritance.

 Prayer: Lord, I need a spirit of diligence to achieve your purposes.

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Hospitality is an Eternal Investment

Daily God Walk for Tuesday, September 27, 2011

 When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. – Luke 14:12-14

 Jesus had been invited to dinner at the home of a prominent Pharisee. He observed how the guests were maneuvering to get the best seats. Those present at the dinner were in the “who’s who” of the city. It is on this occasion that Jesus gives instructions concerning seating at a banquet. He told them that they should look for the less prominent seats then if the host feels they should be put in a more prominent place he will invite them to the better seat. Jesus also points out that if they have taken the seat of a more prominent person they will be embarrassed when asked to move to a less prominent seat (Luke 14:7-11).

Then he gives the instruction which is our text for today. The message seems very clear. When you do acts of kindness do not expect those you have blessed by the kindness to be in your debt. Don’t expect them to pay you back. We should do kind deeds just because it is right to do so, and not so we can get something in return.

I remember a time when my wife and I invited a couple to live with us for a period because they were being evicted. We could have referred them to a homeless shelter, or could have just blessed them and told them we would be praying for them, but we didn’t. We invited them to come live with us. These folks were of a different ethnic group that my wife and I, but that didn’t matter. They just needed a place to stay for a while.

Today that couple are among our closest friends. And as a result of the kindness we extended to them they rededicated their lives to Christ and are faithful workers in the church.

Someone coined a phrase I like. It is simply to do a random act of kindness every day. You can cure depression by finding someone with greater needs than yourself and blessing them. Are you discouraged about your position in life? Find a homeless person and take them to lunch. You’ll be surprised at how that will lift your spirits.

 Prayer: Lord, help me give out of a pure heart not expecting a return.

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Overflowing Thankfulness

Daily God Walk for Monday, September 26, 2011

 Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. – Colossians 2:6-7

 I have a friend who is constantly talking about how much he loves the Lord. He tells how that he was a drug addict for 35 years and when he came to God it was because he was afraid of going to hell. Now he tells people that it began out of fear but now he serves Jesus out of Love.

Nearly every time I talk to him he tells me that he is so thankful that Jesus saved him and took away his addictions. That is thankfulness.

There is a tendency for most of us to begin taking our relationship with the Lord for granted. We just seem to slide into the routines of life without giving a lot of thought to where we would be without the hand of God on our lives.

I have noticed that believers who tend to lose their thankful attitude also begin to lose enthusiasm in their spiritual journey. In fact there seems to be a connection between a lack of being thankful, a coolness in our spiritual journey, and allowing the world system and way of doing things to creep into our lives.

Luke tells the story of ten lepers who were healed by Jesus. Of the ten, nine forgot to return to give thanks for what Jesus had done. The one who did return threw himself at Jesus feet and thanked him. Nine men received the gift of healing, but only one gave the gift of thankfulness (Luke 17).

One of the keys to unlocking the abundant life of joy and peace is thankfulness. Apostle Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

As you are presenting your needs and requests before the Lord do not neglect showing him your thankfulness for what he has already done.

 Prayer: God, grant me the grace of a thankful heart. Amen.

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Enduring Weariness and Discouragement

Daily God Walk for Sunday, September 25, 2011

 He returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”       – Matthew 26:41

 The message here is not just prayer, although prayer is the primary point. The message extends to endurance. We have been reminded in many Scriptures that our walk of faith requires endurance and there is no other part of our faith walk which requires more tenacity than prayer.

I will confess that neglecting a consistent prayer times is the easiest habit for me to fall into. After all, I have so much to do; messages to write, people to visit, administrative details, etc., etc. God understands that with limited time it is very difficult to be consistent with a meaningful prayer life.

It is no doubt that the disciples were weary after a day of trying to keep up with Jesus as he ministered, then the lingering meal in which he revealed that one of them would betray him. Finally, there was the walk to the garden of Gethsemane where he left them to go pray. What was he to expect anyway, they were only human and they were tired.

What he expected was that they would endure just one hour of watching and praying. But what he got instead was a bunch of tired men who had not yet realized the value of demonstrating endurance in prayer.

I have a feeling that Jesus observes his modern followers with the same consternation. He sees our daily routine. He knows are busyness. He can see how we wear ourselves out trying to do the work that can only be done through being enthused with Holy Spirit power; And he cries out to us, “Can’t you just take the time to pray one hour? Are you so busy that you don’t have time to establish a prayer filled watch for your soul and for the work of the kingdom?”

We should be mindful of his concerned question, “Could you not keep watch with me one hour?”

 Prayer: Lord, grant me repentance over my prayerlessness. Amen.

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How Can We Best Serve Him?

Daily God Walk for Saturday, September 24, 2011

 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

          “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”– Luke 10:38-42

 Those of us who are achievers tend to be so driven by the task that we sometimes miss the better part. Such was the case with the two sisters, Mary and Martha. It was not a bad thing that Martha wanted everything to be just right for the dinner she was putting on in honor of Jesus, it just wasn’t the best thing to be concerned about at the moment.

Martha, on the other hand, was focused on Jesus. His every word held her attention as he taught her the principles of the kingdom. Martha was not lazy neither was she neglecting her duty to help her sister, but she was doing the better thing for that moment.

I once heard a well known radio preacher make a confession. He tells of how he was walking across the parking lot of the church one Sunday morning with one of his elders on his way to the service. His mind was on the church service as he walked past a very concerned looking young man who approached him calling, “Hello pastor.” This pastor hardly looked the young man’s way as he walked by mumbling “Good morning.”

His elder told him, “You’ve done it again.” He asked, “What have I done?” “You walked right past that young man who was obviously troubled and you didn’t give him even a few seconds,” he was told. He realized that the urgency of the service had overrun his sensitivity to the necessities of this young man.

There are times when we must choose the better over the urgent.

 Prayer: Lord, help me so that I don’t get so busy doing your work that I fail to serve you and others properly. In Jesus name, amen.

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A Steadfast Faith

Daily God Walk for Friday, September 23, 2011

 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel. – Philippians 1:27

 The world is changing so rapidly around us that it is difficult to keep pace. Freshmen in college are taught that by the time they graduate everything they have learned about modern technology will be obsolete.

When I was a child statistics said that the average person would change jobs 5-8 times in his life. Now they say that people entering the job market today can expect to change jobs in excess of 20 times in their life.

We have become a world of sound-bites and 15 second TV advertising. We are being cultured to have a short attention span and be ready to make changes in lifestyle, relationships, families and beliefs.

In the middle of all this the Scripture calls us to “stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.” I recently read some alarming news about the people of my generation. Statistics show that they are moving away from traditional Christianity by the multitudes and they are embracing other religions, or no religion at all.

There is a passage in Proverbs which reads, “Do not move ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers” (Proverbs 22:28). Very little is taught today about boundaries. I’m talking about social, moral and spiritual boundaries. We have been greatly influenced by the modern culture which calls us to abandon convention and do whatever feels good.

The message of the Word of God is simply this; “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” We must not be as concerned about what we desire as we are to be concerned about what God desires.

Apostle Paul warns about being tossed back and forth by waves of worldly influence and blown about by changing winds of the doctrines of men. He warns that our enemy is scheming to deceive us and destroy our faith (Ephesians 4:14).

The only protection we have against the deceitfulness of this age and our arch enemy, the devil, is to stand together, firm in the faith and present a united front against the assault of evil. Stand steadfast in faith.

 Prayer: Lord, grant me a steadfast heart to stand firm in the faith. Amen.

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Wait for the Promise

Daily God Walk Thursday, September 22, 2011

 Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. – Acts 1:4-5 

 The art of waiting upon the Lord is being lost among many believers today. Our life is filled with much activity and far to much to be accomplished than we will ever get done; the work is endless and there is little time to be used for prayer and waiting upon God, yet there is blessing for those who wait upon the Lord.

Jesus gave the command to those who would follow him, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised.” This was not a casual request. It was his last request as he was about to ascend to heaven. We would do well today take the time to wait upon the promise of the Father.

I recognize that he was sending his disciples to Jerusalem with the anticipation that Holy Spirit would descend, they would be given great power and the church would be birthed. However, knowing that, we should be all the more impressed with the value of waiting for God to express his presence and his will in our lives.

I can look back to times when my life was most impacted by a touch from God and those times are marked by time of consecration to prayer and spending much time before the Lord praying and reading his word.

Jesus called his followers to forsake everything else and spend all the time necessary to connect with the promise of the Father. He is still calling for believers to separate themselves from the world and devote themselves to seeking the Father until Holy Spirit comes with great power and revelation of the Father’s will.

God is not just making a call to all believers – he is making an appeal to you. He is calling you to spend times of focused prayer, meditation and reading God’s word as you seek his will for your place in the kingdom.

Jesus sent them to Jerusalem to receive the promise of the Father. Find your place to pray; seek him and he will come.

 Prayer: Holy Spirit, come as I seek the Father. Fill me now. Amen.

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Receive God’s Power

Daily God Walk for Wednesday, September 21, 2011

 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. – Luke 24:49

 Jesus left his disciples with a mandate which could not be carried out by man’s ability alone. The gospel can certainly be preached in man’s power, just as surely as the message of any other religion, but all man can do by his speaking and his intellect is reach the intellect of another man; man cannot touch the spirit of another man without Holy Spirit power.

That is why believers have been promised Holy Spirit power. When Jesus gave the command to go to Jerusalem where they would be given this power he refers to John the Baptist saying, “John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5).

He gave them The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), then reiterated the promise of the Father (Luke 24), and finally told them that when the promised Holy Spirit came upon them they would receive power (Acts 1:8). That power was not for performing spectacular feats, but it was given so that signs and wonders would be performed as a witness that the gospel message they preached was indeed a message from God.

The concluding verse to the Gospel of Mark reads, “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Jesus gave them a promise, told them to stay in Jerusalem until it came, then when it came they received great power.

I am afraid that many today sell the Holy Spirit short. It is common today to teach that we receive the Holy Spirit at conversion (and we do), but that is all there is to it. My friend, That is not what Jesus taught. In fact, it was converted believers who were sent to Jerusalem to seek God for the promise of power and they were to stay there until the power came.

Here’s a question: If we just receive the Holy Spirit by faith, and there is no evidence that he has come, how do we know when he has come? How did the disciples know when their time of waiting for the Holy Spirit was over? Holy Spirit infilling was accompanied by signs and wonders.

Here’s another question: What signs and wonders have accompanied your claim of being filled with the Holy Spirit? It might be something we need to think about.

 Prayer: Lord, I need to be filled with Holy Spirit power; fill me. Amen.

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Paul ”Hope Preacher” Smith

Messages of inspiration for the journey of faith

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