Friday, May 31, 2013

May 31: I want you to excel

Since you excel in so many ways — in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us — I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches. You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.   (2 Corinthians 8:7-9 — New Living Translation)

Paul the apostle is writing to a church that he started. God had blessed them and they excelled in many aspects, but now he tells them that they need to excel also in the gracious act of giving. When people truly love the Lord, they want to give. Jesus said, if we love Him we would obey His commandments. It is also true to say, if we love Jesus we will give to see His church grow in the world. The lost are waiting for a church to open in their city, to find a flyer on their door knob, or to come across an ad on the internet.

And all this and more depends on our giving. God wants to bless us with more money, but first we need to be faithful with what He’s already given us. The Lord Jesus Christ left the glory and riches of heaven and became poor for us. To make us rich in blessings, eternal life, and even physical wealth — Jesus first became poor.

God's people have always shown their love, thankfulness, and faithfulness by giving tithes (10%), offerings, and sacrifices. But this is something that has to come from your own heart and faith. Giving in the right way will enrich your life and the lives of others. Giving properly is a way for us to honor God and manifest our devotion to Him. God wants us to excel in giving.

Let’s be honest… we’re all eager to receive. We love it. We love receiving gifts. We love payday, and don’t so much love those days towards the end of our paycheck. We love being forgiven… But receiving gifts isn’t a test of character, whereas giving is. When we teach ourselves to give — whether it is the tithe, offerings, forgiveness, our lives, time, helping someone less fortunate than ourselves, or anything else — we prove the genuineness of our love to God. And if giving proves how authentic our love is, refusing to give proves how fake it is. If Jesus is the supreme example of giving, how can we, as His children, refuse to give? Impossible. — If you are not yet a giver, why not? What are you waiting for?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

May 30: What is of infinite value?

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!  (Philippians 3:7-11 — New Living Translation)

Paul the apostle wrote this. Before he was converted to the Lord Jesus he had been a leader of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of the Jewish religion. He had also been the main persecutor of Christians — imprisoning them, killing their leaders, and trying his best to destroy the church of Jesus Christ. But after he became a Christian, his life was completely changed. The things that were important to him before — his high position among the Pharisees, his pride in keeping all the traditions and requirements of the law, his birth as a Jew and strict upbringing — were now nothing to him. Now he knew the greatest thing in all the world was to know Jesus, and to be seen as righteous by faith in Him. He wanted to know God better, to know the power of Jesus in his life, to suffer for Him whenever necessary, and to experience the glorious resurrection from the dead at Jesus’ coming.

You feel the same way when you are truly converted to the Lord Jesus. Some things that used to be important are like filth to you now. Your whole life has been turned around. God has helped you see who you are and what reality is; you are no longer blinded and deceived. Now you are living for Jesus and in Him you are completely accepted by God. You are righteous through faith and an heir of eternal life and the resurrection from the dead.

Unless we regard everything else in life as garbage when compared to the Lord Jesus, or as some other versions of the Bible put it — filth or dog dung — we will be unable to experience His power or to become one with Him. We will be unable to… It’s impossible to have two masters. You will end up pleasing one and making the other angry, or vice versa. It’s also impossible to be a good husband or wife when you have a lover on the side, or an addiction. Being one with Jesus demands extreme devotion, a foreign, old-fashioned concept to many today, and yet one that worked wonderfully for the apostle Paul. — Meditate on this verse and ask the Holy spirit to make it a reality in your life.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

May 29: Make Him your food and drink

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.   (John 6:53-57 — New King James Version)

The Lord Jesus is talking about a tremendously important truth in this passage. He is saying that it is not enough to see Him, to hear Him, to learn His teaching, or even to believe that He is the Son of God. We must eat His flesh and drink His blood! By this He means that we must absorb Him and His teaching; His thoughts and actions must become our thoughts and actions; His character must become our character. He must become as much a part of us as our own breath, our own heart, our own mind. To most people, Jesus in kept on the outside; He is not a part of them; they view Him from a distance. One passage says, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Another says, “For all… who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

Have you eaten the flesh and drunk the blood of the Lord Jesus? Not just in the Lord's Supper, but the reality that the Lord’s Supper represents. Have you brought Him into your life and given Him absolute control? Is He Lord of your thoughts, Lord of your behavior, Lord of your speech, the Lord of all?

This is where most “Christians” fail. They may give Jesus some time, they may give Him some money, and some of them may go to church; but Jesus does not live in them. He is not their Master and Lord and the most important One in their lives. As a result, they never experience the great blessings that are reserved for those who eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you noticed how bored many people are? Not just teenagers, but businessmen, housewives, doctors, and people in general. Some have to keep buying new things in an effort to keep themselves happy. Others turn to alcohol, pills, or drugs to help them feel better about themselves. Many people can’t bear to be in a house without the TV blaring because they don’t want to be alone with their own thoughts. Why is this? Because they have no life in them. We only have real life when we absorb Jesus into our inner beings, and allow Him to complete and empower us. — Make Him your food and drink. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May 28: Moving mountains

Jesus replied to them, “Have faith in God. I assure you: If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all the things you pray and ask for — believe that you have received them, and you will have them.”  (Mark 11:22-24 — Holman Christian Standard Bible)

There is no more powerful teaching on prayer than this! Here, the Lord Jesus begins by saying we must have faith in God; not an intellectual acknowledgement that He exists, but faith that He answers prayer and helps His people today in miraculous ways. Then He says, “I assure you.” He guarantees that this promise of His is absolutely true and reliable. If we don't believe it, we will lose out. But if we accept His word, nothing will be impossible for us.

Jesus declares that we, His people, can perform great miracles. We can command things to happen in this world — there is no limit to what we can do if we have faith. First there is the command; then there is faith, that does not doubt but believes that what we command will come to pass; and finally there is the answer. Jesus promises that whatever we ask for in prayer will be ours, if we ask and believe that we have already received it! This prayer involves absolute confidence in the Father and asking for things that are according to His will.

If you’ve tried this and it hasn't worked, remember that this is a promise of Jesus Christ Himself. He is not a liar; His promises cannot fail. If it hasn't worked for you yet, it will! Continue to command the mountains in your life to disappear. Ask God to reveal anything that might be blocking your faith. Then bulldoze forward in faith and determination and these verses will come true for you.

When a boss tells his employees to do something, he is certain that they will do it, even when it’s hard and challenging. He knows his employees have to obey him. That’s their job. If they don’t they could be fired. — If I give you $300 cash to spend at the supermarket on groceries, you would walk into the supermarket with the absolute certainty that 30 minutes later you’d be able to walk out with meat, bread, milk, eggs and various other things you needed at home. You know that three $100 bills would make that possible.

And yet when it comes to faith and prayer, we need to have the same certainty. God has much more power and authority than three $100 bills, and so certainty in God’s answer is in fact a very reasonable, smart attitude to have. Sadly, most people have more confidence in $100 bills than they do the One who made the heavens and the earth. — Start to pray this way. Start moving mountains. Remember, God is the one who made this promise.

Monday, May 27, 2013

May 27: Tell the next generation

Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness. Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness.   (Psalm 145:3-6 — New Living Translation)

No one can fully understand or fathom God’s power and greatness. He is a God who reveals Himself through supernatural changes. From the beginning of the Bible right through to the end, we read about the miracles that God performs to help and deliver His people. When the Lord Jesus came into the world there was a great increase in miracles. When the church began in the first century and the Holy Spirit was poured out, people experienced amazing miracles and transformations. And when the disciples were sent out into the world they were instructed not only to preach the Good News about the Lord Jesus, but to heal the sick and cast out demons.

It is sad to hear Christians say that “the age of miracles has passed.” If you do not believe in a God of miracles, it is safe to say that you will never see one. And if you do happen to see one, you’ll find a way to explain it away. But that does not change the fact that God does not change, that Jesus Christ is still the same, and that God’s desire to help us is still unfailing.

It is hard to read the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — the first four books of the New Testament — and the book of Acts — about the early church — and not develop a thirst for the same kind of power. Those stories are not ancient history, they are the living and active Word of God. The Lord Jesus wants to do amazing things in your life today, so that you will have a treasure to pass down to the next generation. A true treasure.

How can anyone say they know God when they haven’t seen a miracle… whether it’s financial, health-related, having to do with their family, or most importantly, having to do with inner transformation? You can’t say you know God unless you’ve had a personal experience with His power. Throughout the Bible God rescued His people from impossible situations, transformed people’s characters, made losers into leaders, and conquered His people’s enemies. If you remove God’s supernatural acts from the Bible, what do you have? Not much. God’s power and intervention in people’s lives shows who He really is. — Make sure you have something great to pass down to the next generation.