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Day 21

Run In Such A Way

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Seek Me And Live

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Sometimes I wonder why so many people who profess to be Christians live lives of defeat and have minimal impact on those around them.  The other day I came across this devotional in my YouVersion bible reading plan (Daily Encouragement by David Evans). I wonder if this might be part of the reason?

“Seek me and live” – this is the essence of true religion: to seek and find the one true and living God, and in finding him, to enter into a life which pleases him. That life is inevitably characterized by good works and the evident presence of God: “Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you” (Amos 5:14).

The tragedy of nominal, formal, merely traditional religion is that it is just religion and nothing more. It does not change the life of the individual, and the Lord is conspicuous by his absence. The ritual is carried on while righteousness is missing in public and private life. People go to Bethel, but they do not meet with God. There is no lack of religious feasts, assemblies and music, but this ritual goes hand in hand with injustice and immorality and is an abomination to the Lord.

The test of all religious profession and practice lies here. Is there a genuine seeking of God, and does it produce holy living? We do well to bring our meetings, our music, our charity, and our whole lifestyle to this searching examination. Our Bible study must be subject to it too, because it is possible to search the Scriptures and yet not come to Christ (John 5:39,40).

All In

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Recently I was reading Jeremiah 29, which contains some verses familiar to many of us. Normally my attention is drawn to verse 11, which is the life verse God gave my middle daughter:  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” We like to read that verse.  But as I reflected, it struck me that this promise comes with conditions (or at least a roadmap). The words that immediately follow it, verses 12 & 13, explain: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” For at least a week now, I keep thinking about verse 13 … when you seek me with all your heart.  Sounds like the picture of someone who is “all in”, fully committed. What a challenge this can be, but what a glorious outcome. When I get down about the state of God’s People today, or with my own walk for that matter, I am reminded of the solution laid out in these verses. We must call on Him, come to Him, pray to Him, and seek Him with all our heart. The question is, am I “all in”?  Are you?

Identity

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The other day I came across this devotional from Os Hillman in his Today God Is First series. It was a challenge I faced years ago, but one I still revisit from time to time.  How about you?

 

“All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the soul is not satisfied” (Eccl. 6:7 NKJV).

How would you feel about yourself if your job was removed from you tomorrow? Let’s imagine that your income wouldn’t change, just what you did everyday.

One of the schemes that Satan uses in the life of the Christian worker is to get him/her to view their value solely based on the type of work they do and how well they do it. We call this performance-based acceptance. It says “As long as I have a good job and I do it well, I have self-esteem.”

This is a “slippery slope” and can be used by Satan to keep our focus on our performance versus Christ. We are never to find our value in what we do. Instead, our value is solely based on who we are in Christ. The apostle Paul wrestled with this after he came to faith in Christ. He had grown to the top of his field as a Jewish leader.

“If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (Phil 3:4-9).

You’ll never really know to the degree that your self-esteem is rooted in your work until your work is removed. Unemployment, illness, or a financial crisis can lead to job loss.

Why not evaluate where you are in this area of your life. Affirm with God your desire to be known by Who you know versus what you do.

Covenant

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Have you ever thought about the agreements you enter into, and your heart attitude towards them? Sometimes we fear our ability to accomplish what God calls us to. Other times we don’t live up to the promises we make to others, whether at work or in our personal lives.

The devotional that follows is from Os Hillman’s Today God Is First. Perhaps it will give you some more food for thought.

“But I will establish My covenant with you, and you will enter the ark – you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.” Genesis 6:18

The Bible is filled with covenants made between God and people. Six of those covenants were made with Old Testament figures: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David. The seventh was made with His own Son, Jesus Christ. God is always the strongest partner in a covenant relationship.

God made a covenant with Noah in order to preserve the human race. This covenant involved Noah’s participation by building an ark. He’d never built an ark before. He’d never had a boat. It was a totally new concept to Noah and the rest of the world. Why would he need a boat in a dry land?

Noah did not have to invent the ark; God gave him the plans-in specific dimensional detail. He did not have to gather the animals-God led them into the ark. God even closed the door when they all came on board. God made it rain to prove why the ark was needed.

The covenant provided all Noah needed to complete his mission in life. When God spoke to Noah to do this thing, he needed only to respond to God’s call to do it. Noah could rest in knowing the covenant made with God was going to be fulfilled if he fulfilled his part.

If you have entered into a covenant relationship with God, you too can be assured that God will uphold His part of the covenant relationship. He is committed to fulfilling His covenant with you and to fulfill His purposes in and through your life. It only requires one thing on your part-obedience. He will even provide grace and faith to you to help you fulfill your part of the covenant.

Each of us has a covenant with God. But we also enter covenants with others in our personal and business lives. How are you doing in fulfilling covenants to others? God has given us the example to follow. Ask God if you have any unfulfilled covenants you need to honor. He has called you and me to be covenant keepers. The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Success

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My father-in-law was very “successful” financially as a businessman, then for many years lived the retired American dream lifestyle. He now has poor health and suffers from dementia. His life has changed dramatically in just a matter of months. I spent this past weekend going through a storage unit of stuff that he had accumulated, and it was like a time capsule of his life. As I was reflecting on what God was trying to teach me through this experience, I received a devotional from Os Hillman’s Today God Is First.  In it, Os says: “For many people in the world, real meaning in life is the next vacation, career success, or stepping up the income ladder. It is a life based on pleasurable experiences. Many a human being has toiled their whole life to gain a pleasurable lifestyle only to find a life that is empty and meaningless. You only have to watch television for one evening to discover that advertisers want us to believe this is the goal of life. The work-to-play theme is consistent with most advertising messages. Knowing Christ brings the only real meaning and purpose to the human soul. Spend time today getting to know the Lord in a more intimate way. Then you will discover real meaning and purpose in life.” God then told me, “this is Truth. It resonates with the Gospel. But, there’s one more ingredient. The Truth (Gospel) must be shared with others.”

I guess that was my answer to finding purpose and success.  What is yours?

Racial Reconciliation

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It seems like everywhere we turn these days, we’re confronted with the issue of racism. Whether it’s a simple conversation over coffee or a violent protest that makes headlines, racial conflict seems to be on the minds of many people. But, one question that has not really been fully addressed is this: what is my role as a Christian? Or better yet, how does the Gospel touch the issue of racial reconciliation? If we believe that the Gospel impacts every area of our lives, and every aspect of society, then surely we must give this careful consideration.

The video below was recorded by The Village Church. It is an interview with author and pastor Bryan Loritts, and it focuses on how the Gospel is the ONLY hope for racial reconciliation …. and what reconciliation means for all sides involved.

Faith

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I was reading through a You Version Bible devotional and encountered this entry on Faith. May reading this impact yours.

“The Lord expects his people to trust in him at all times. How clearly this is seen in the record of his earthly life. Faith to him was “natural” and he marveled at unbelief. He expects the royal official to trust his word as he walks the lonely road back to Capernaum (John 4:50). Even in the face of death he looks for faith. So he says to Martha, “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?“ (John 11:25,26). The burden of his prayer for Peter is that his “faith may not fail” (Luke 22:32).

The nature of faith makes trust in the Lord a possibility at all times. For faith is not feeling, or sight, or mere human understanding. Faith is the helpless cast upon the Mighty, the weak leaning upon the Strong (S of S. 8:5). It is the obedience of those “called to belong to Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:5-6), the confession of “Jesus as Lord” (Ps. 10:9).

Trusting the Lord at all times is not a cold, indifferent exercise but the pouring out of the heart before him.”

The Killer Angels

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I’m currently going through Michael Shaara’s book The Killer Angels, an engaging account of the United States Civil War Battle of Gettysburg from the point of view of several commanding officers.  As the book’s foreword describes, Shaara’s one goal above all others was to leave something behind, something to be remembered for.  Unfortunately, the book had only a lukewarm reception, and even after winning the 1975 Pulitzer Price for Fiction it simply didn’t sell. This was a crushing disappointment for him, and Shaara died in 1988 believing he had failed.  But you have to hear the rest of the story.  In 1993 the movie Gettysburg was released, which was based on his book.  The momentum from the movie propelled The Killer Angels to the top of the New York Times Best Seller List, and it is regarded by many as the finest Civil War novel ever written.

As I reflected on this, it made me think how similar this is to our everyday reality. We long to leave a legacy of significance, to do something great for ourselves or for God’s Kingdom. But often, we don’t see the fruit we expected, or things don’t turn out anything like what we had hoped for. We feel like failures. If only we could read the last chapter, because the story isn’t over. God is not finished yet. Our part is to be faithful in obedience, and the outcome is up to Him. The next time you start feeling the discouragement Michael Shaara experienced, remember Galatians 6:9  …. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Generations

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A coworker recently sent me a link to the video below.  It has to do with our legacy, spanning out over 5 generations.  Here’s what I took away from it: 1) The choices we make can affect thousands for good, or for bad. 2) No matter what your heritage is, a conscience decision on your part can put things back on the right track. 3) It’s all possible because of what Jesus did.  What does the video say to you? How will it affect your choices?