Sunday, January 30, 2011

Be Resolute

Another minister of the gospel has left his wife. He seems to have followed a familiar pattern: dedication to god, call to the ministry, difficulties, discouragement, loss of self-confidence which turns to loss of confidence in God, resentment, rebellion, and finally the deliberate choice to “worship other gods.”

“Be resolute!” said Joshua just before he died at 110. “You must hold fast to the Lord….Be on your guard then, love the Lord….worship Him in loyalty and truth…. Choose here and now whom you will worship” (Josh. 23:6, 8, 11; 24:14-15).

Responsibility is laid upon us to exercise the wills God gave us. We cannot let go of our wills and wait passively for God or fate or somebody else to do for us what the will was given us to do. We have choices. We must resolve. We must purpose to obey. There are powerful forces against which we must be on guard. The only defense is the Lord Himself, who is a mighty Fortress, indeed, our Refuge, our Shield against the enemy. Run to Him! Trust Him!

A heart turned to Him will be filled with Him.

Help me, Lord, to resist with all my strength the very first beginnings of evil. Grant me Your strength and grace.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Powerful Advocate

“Their captors hold them firmly and refuse to release them. But they have a powerful advocate, whose name is the Lord of Hosts” (Jer. 50:33-34).

Not many who read this are literal captives of their enemies as Israel and Judah were, but it is possible to be limited and constrained by others in such a way that we feel captive. The One who left heaven for us was put into the hands of sinful men, bound, beaten, and led away to be fastened on a cross. He is our companion and fellow sufferer, understanding well the sense of helplessness that the captive feels.

“Since he himself has passed through the test of suffering, he is able to help those who are meeting their test now” Hebrew 2:18.

Not only does Christ fully understand our test---He can do something about it. He is no longer held by nails on a cross, but stands as our powerful Advocate before God, victor over whatever enemy we face today.

The “captivity” may last a while----He did, too----but He can make it shine for you. Bear it in His name and be glad. It will be transformed into a privilege as you offer it back to Him.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Heart With Skill To Listen

Solomon recognized that he could not fulfill his responsibility as king without the help of the Lord. The assignment came from God (“Thou hast made thy servant king”; 1 Kings 3:7) so the qualifications must also come from Him. “I am a mere child, unskilled in leadership,” Solomon said, but he did not go on to say, “Therefore make me a great leadership.” He prayed rather for a heart with skill to listen (v.9).

What temptation it is, when one is in a position of leadership so that others want to (or must) hear what one has to say ---what a temptation to talk! The skill of listening must begin with the heart, silent and open first to God for His word, then ready to hear others before speaking. Solomon listened to God. He stood ----in silence, I should think---- before the Ark of the Covenant, the place of the Mercy Seat, before he met the people.

God give me a heart with skill to listen. May I have grace to stand silent before You when I am tempted to open my mouth at once. Help me to cultivate in quietness that skilled heart.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Continual Transformation

What is it that makes a Christian “shine”? Paul explains it in his second letter to the Corinthians. As we look steadily to the Lord, “beholding” or “reflecting” His glory, we are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another (see 2 Cor. 3:18). The Greek verb is present tense, showing action going on now ----that is, effective as long as we keep our eyes on the Lord and not on ourselves or anybody else. W.J. Conybeare’s translation is “The glory which shines upon us is reflected by us.” The moon shines steadily with the sun’s glory so long as earth doesn’t get in the way.

Shine on me, Lord of Light, and let no shadow of anything temporal (possessions, people, ambitions, fears, anger, despair, or anything whatsoever) come between us.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Price of Life

“He saved others, but he cannot save Himself” (Matt. 27:42). This was a joke among the chief priests and lawyers. If they had comprehended the profound truth of their jest it would have died on their lips. If He had saved Himself He would have saved no one else. The principle is true for us as well: self-giving is the price of Life ---of eternal life, of course, for it was Christ who first gave His life, and if we want eternal life we must give ourselves to Him completely. But if we would help another toward finding real Life, we must lay down our lives. If we ourselves want to live, let us “lose” it all ---and then, miraculously, find.

Help me, Lord, to bring this principle down to where I live today. Is there some fear of loss? Some unwillingness to relinquish? Some determination to have it my way? Some insistence on what I “deserve”? May I, by Your strength, let it go, and thus find a greater freedom and a more fulfilling life.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Too Rich To Follow Him

In the forests of Ecuador I soon learned that there were journeys I could not make if I wanted to carry baggage.  Traveling narrow, muddy, and often steep trails on foot was impossible if I was heavily loaded.
So it is with the spiritual journey.  We cannot make it if we insist on taking along everything we think indispensable.  A rich young man was attracted to Jesus and contemplated joining His company, but Jesus spoke plainly of the necessary condition:  Sell all you have first.
If he had not had much, perhaps he would have laid it down readily.  But he was too rich to follow Jesus.  He turned away, sorrowful.
We may be willing to part with almost everything God is asking us to relinquish, but perhaps we are clutching one thing tightly—“all but this, Lord.”  “Lay it down,”  Jesus says.  “Let it go.”  If we refuse, too rich to follow Him, we have chosen a greater poverty in the end.