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Thursday, August 4, 2016

I Can Do Anything Through Christ (and other devotionals)

I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NLT)

Christ's spirituality was not that He was remote from what was practical in everyday life. It was that He was bringing heavenly forces and resources to bear upon the practical matters of everyday life. You can wash doors, or clothes, or floors, or do any of these ordinary domestic things, in spirituality. People seem to think that spiritual work and ordinary work, household work for example, are two different things. They talk about the spiritual work and the other work. Now, you can bring heavenly resources in to do anything that is legitimate, and the doing of those things may be a testimony.
The majority of people have no occasion to draw upon heavenly resources for a platform ministry. For the most part their work is of some regular, daily kind, and very often they feel utterly unable for it, and they are tempted to think that if they had some spiritual ministry to fulfill, if they had to go and take a meeting, or speak to some souls about spiritual matters, they could make a claim upon the Lord for help and He would carry them through. For the trivial round and common task such a thought is all too often wholly absent from the mind. Now, exactly the same resources have to come into the ordinary work as into what we call spiritual work. It has all to be done on a spiritual basis, and therefore to be a testimony. To get through an ordinary day's work often requires something more than ordinary human resources. Spirituality consists in our doing everything as out from heaven. Let us be careful how we draw a line, lest we make a distinction between the spiritual and “the rest.”

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Let love be your highest goal!

(George Everard)

"Let love be your highest goal!" 1 Corinthians 14:1 
Love is the most beautiful of all graces. 

Love comes down from above, for love is one of the first-fruits of the Spirit. 

Love is a plant of Paradise. 

Love is a breath of celestial air. 

Love is a beam from the countenance of a God of love. 

Love is the golden belt, the bond of peace, that knits all heavenly virtues in one. 

Love is full of humility, forbearance, and patience. It is slow to anger, but quick to support and comfort those in trouble. It is full of tender consideration for the sorrows, trials, weaknesses, infirmities, feelings, of those around. Be clothed with love.

Now be honest about this point. 
What is your religion worth? 
Is it a sham and a pretense--or a reality?
Are you daily waging war against these three deadly sins--sloth, self-will, and selfishness?
Are you shining as a bright lamp in your own home? 
Are you careful about common, every-day duties? 
Are you mindful . . .
   to curb the tongue,
   to watch against vain and evil thoughts,
   to be considerate of the feelings and needs of those around you? 
Are you ever ready to seize an opportunity for doing good, to lighten the burden of another, or to help a fellow-pilgrim on the way to Zion?

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you--so you must love one another." John 13:34

Our Number One Goal

"Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth, for the Lord is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed."

—1 Samuel 2:3

I was born in the generation known as the Baby Boomers. Our children are now called the Millennials, also dubbed the Me Generation. My generation thought the problem with the world was low self-esteem. Therefore, a lot of emphasis was given to, and a lot of money was spent on, the self-esteem movement. (This was never the problem, by the way, because it never has been a problem for us to learn to love ourselves. The problem is that we love ourselves enough already.)

As a result, a sense of entitlement—the idea that you don't have to work hard and that everything should be given to you because you're so wonderful—is now a big problem in our country. If you don't believe me, then just watch some auditions for American Idol. People with no ability whatsoever are completely oblivious to it. And when a judge has the audacity to tell them that singing is probably not what they should do with their lives, they get upset.

Consider these statistics from a Time magazine article in 2013: "The National Institutes of Health found that for people in their 20s, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is three times as high than the generation that's 65 or older. . . . Millennials received so many participation trophies growing up that 40 percent of them think they should be promoted every two years—regardless of performance."

Not long ago, a group of 18 to 25 year-olds were asked what their goals were in life. The number one goal cited was to get rich. The second most-mentioned goal was to be famous. These are people who have their priorities out of order.

Our number one goal should be to know God . . . and then to find His plan and purpose for our lives.
~Greg Laurie~
What the flesh wants is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to the flesh. They are opposed to each other. (Galatians 5:17 ISV)

These two are in age-long conflict, in antagonism. It is ever so. When you have a fresh experience of the Holy Spirit, the next thing you find is that you are in a new conflict against the old flesh-life in yourself. This rising up of the flesh within is provoked by the devil because he sees the inheritance in view, for when the Spirit comes, the inheritance comes into view. He has come to bring to the inheritance. So do not be surprised if after an experience of the Spirit the next thing you have to face is this conflict with the assertion of the flesh across the path to hinder your going into possession.
It is only when you have received the Holy Spirit that you know the conflict of the flesh and what is the withstanding of the flesh. Those who have not the Spirit have no such conflict of flesh and Spirit; they are not in that realm, but wholly in the flesh realm. The Holy Spirit has come in relation to the end, and the end is the inheritance in Christ, and flesh moved by Satan rises up to frustrate that end, and to rob you of the inheritance. The peril is that having begun in the Spirit, you might turn aside to make some compromise with Amalek, because of the hardness of the way, the greatness of the cost, by reason of the conflict and forgetting God's word - "utterly destroy Amalek" (1 Samuel 15:3). "Walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit" (Rom. 8:4).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Don't be the slave of worldly amusements!

(George Everard)

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2Be separate from a world that lies in wickedness. 

Of course in some measure you must mix in the world, while you live on earth--but let it be evident that you rise above it. Don't be the slave of worldly amusements! God loves that His people should be cheerful and happy--but there is little true enjoyment in the excitement of the theater, the race-course, the ball-room, the gambling-table, and the like. Choose something higher and better.

Consider how such things check the growth of true piety. 
If you err, let it be on the safe side. 
Do not ask, "How far may I go, and yet be guiltless?" 
Rather ask, 
  "How may I walk more closely with God?" 
  "How may I enjoy most of the love of Christ?" 
  "How shall I best glorify my Father in Heaven?" 

Whenever you stand in doubt as to whether it is right or not to go to any place, bear in mind the old rule. Ask yourself, "Can I kneel down and with a good conscience ask the Lord to go with me?" If not, be sure that it is not safe for you. 

Above all, bear witness for Christ in the world by a very holy and consistent life. 
Manfully resist sin in every shape and form. 
Watchfully guard against the least approach to youthful lusts. 
In thought, word, and deed--be pure, be chaste. 
Regard the least allusion to anything impure, as the poison of the old serpent which is death to the soul. 

Keep a very tender conscience. 

Don't make light of little sins
, as many think them. Little acts . . . 
  of dishonesty,
  of selfishness,
  of neglect,
  of indulged vanity,
  of pride and self-conceit,
  of the love of dress, 
  of petty deceits and half-untruths--
who can tell how much harm is often done by these things, and to what far greater evils they often lead?

Do not judge of sin by the standard of those around you
, but . . .
  in the light of God's Word,
  in the light of the cross, and
  in remembrance of the day of judgment.

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