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Monday, June 27, 2016

Each of Us to Give An Account (and other devotionals)

Revelation 20:12-13

(12) And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. (13) The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.

  Romans 14:11-12

(11) For it is written:
"As I live, says the LORD,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God." (12) So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.
New King James Version   
Since all are to be judged according to their works, what if one claiming to be Christian has no works to show whenGod clearly expects them? James 2:19-20 clinches the argument: "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe - and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?"
This entire issue is actually quite simple. No amount of works can justify us before God. Justification by faith in Christ's atoning blood makes one legally free to access God and to begin a relationship with Him. However, from that point on, works are absolutely required for sanctification unto holiness - to the extent that, not only is one's reward contingent upon them, but also salvation itself. Will God reward one who can show no works at all, or provide salvation to one whose faith is so weak it produces bad works? Such a person would be totally out of place, unfit for living eternally in the Kingdom of God.
Ephesians 2:8-10 makes this reality even stronger. Even though we are saved by grace through faith, the very reason we are created is for good works that God Himself prepared beforehand for us to walk in. The gospel of theKingdom of God provides the reasons for which works are required - the major one being to prepare us for living in God's Kingdom.
God intended Israel's forty-year journey through the wilderness to prepare them for living in the Promised Land. However, even though Israel had the gospel preached to them and had godly leadership provided by the likes ofMoses, Aaron, and Joshua, in their stiff-necked unbelief they refused to submit in obedience to God's commands. They thus failed to receive the necessary preparation for using the Promised Land rightly, becoming an eternal example of why works of preparation are needed (Hebrews 4:1-2).
Can we learn a lesson from their examples? When God brings us out of spiritual Egypt, He is not done with us yet. In fact, a great deal of spiritual creating within us remains to be accomplished before we will be fit to live and occupy a working position in God's Kingdom. We are being created in Christ Jesus, created in His image. Can we honestly say we are already in His image when we are merely legally cleared of sin? Absolutely not! As great as this is, it is not the end of God's creative process. God is not merely "saving" us. His purpose is far greater than that.

~John W. Ritenbaugh~

Today's ReadingGenesis 16Matthew 5:27-28

Today's Thoughts: Fall on your Face

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly."  Then Abram fell on his faceand God talked with him. Genesis 17:1-3 

Notice what the last verse says: "Then Abram fell on his face." The Lord has appeared to Abram and has begun to speak to him. As soon as Abram hears the Lord, he falls on his face. It does not say that he knelt down or bowed to the ground. It says he "fell on his face." We are not told from the Scriptures how the Lord appeared to Abram or how He spoke to him, but we can assume that Abram recognized the appearance and voice of God Almighty. At that moment, Abram lost all composure. Then, God talked with him some more. As the chapter continues, God continues to speak to Abram. What an awesome experience to be in the presence of God!
How do you react to the presence of God? When was the last time you fell on your face before the Lord? Many Christians today have never heard the Lord speak to them and have no idea of what it means to be in God's presence. Just saying you heard the Lord speak at all can bring raised eyebrows and concerned looks from other believers. Does the Lord still speak to His people? Can we really be in His presence and know it is Him? The answers are yes and yes. Yes, we can fall on our faces in the presence of holy God and yes, He will talk to us. 
We wrote and taught a study called "Practicing the Presence of God," and in the study we included two sections on how to Practice the Presence of Hearing God's Voice. The response from Christians was enlightening and encouraging. Those who had never experienced an intimacy with the Lord learned how to worship and pray. Those who were not sure how to know if they were hearing God's voice learned how to find confirmation in the Word as well as other ways that God confirms His message to us. Most of all, we learned how to fall on our face in worship, how to come to His throne in reverence, and how to know His presence.
Today, find time to fall on your face and worship the Lord. Ask Him to speak to you through His Word and to confirm His message to you through His Spirit. Your day will be blessed and nothing else will matter as much as it once did.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Evangelize or Fossilize

They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared meals with great joy and generosity--all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of the people. And the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

—Acts 2:46–47

If you've ever gone to Disneyland with only adults, then you know it's kind of boring. First they'll complain about how much it costs. Then they'll complain about how the lines are too long. Then, after one or two rides, they'll say, "Where can we go to eat?"

On the other hand, when you go to Disneyland with children, they want to go on the fastest or coolest ride. Then they're ready to go on the next one, and then the next, and then the next. Experiencing it through a child's eyes makes it more meaningful for you as well.

The same is true when it comes to someone who is new to the faith. When more mature believers take new believers into their lives and see them discover the truths of God for the first time, they rediscover those truths for themselves. A new believer gets excited about the fact that God has forgiven his or her sin, while a mature believer may have taken that for granted. A new believer gets excited about the fact that Christ could return at any moment, while a mature believer maybe has forgotten about the urgency of the Lord's return. That is why mature believers need younger believers.

The problem with mature believers is they can start to stagnate. As a result, sometimes the best thing for them is to have new believers in their lives who ask them the hard questions.

Show me a church that doesn't have a constant flow of new believers coming in, and I will show you a church that is stagnating. With the church of the first century, "each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47). The church of today has a choice: either we evangelize or we fossilize.
~Greg Laurie~

(Charles Spurgeon,  "The Fair Portrait of a Saint")

"My feet have closely followed His steps--I have kept to His way without turning aside." Job 23:11

A very beautiful motto is hung up in our classroom at the Stockwell Orphanage, "What would Jesus do?" Not only may children take it as their guide, but all of us may do the same, whatever our age.

"What would Jesus do?"

If you desire to know what you ought to do under any circumstances, imagine Jesus to be in that position and then think, "What would Jesus do? For what Jesus would do--that ought I to do."

This principle unties the knot of all moral difficulty in the most practical way, and does it so simply that no great wit or wisdom will be needed.
"I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." John 13:15

"Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

"Whoever claims to live in Him, must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6

Far better that the serpent should be discovered and brought out into the light of day!

(George Everard, "Bitten by Four Rattlesnakes!")

"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles--and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us!" Hebrews 12:1 
What has been your own besetting sin? 

Has it been pride or self-will? 
Has it been some form of self-indulgence that you know is wrong?
Has it been the neglect of some duty?
Has it been the lack of genuine piety? 
Has it been evil-speaking, or envy, or a bitter, revengeful spirit against someone whom you think has wronged you?

Track your sin to its hiding-place! Search it out and look it in the face. Far better that the serpentshould be discovered and brought out into the light of day--than hidden in your bosom or in some secret corner of your heart! Out with it, however deadly, however strong, yes, however enticing! Out with it, and bring it into Christ's presence, that He may slay your enemy and save your soul alive.

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5 

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