Our Daily Devotional:
Each of us are in the process of becoming. It is a slow and often tedious process. It is also one that we continuously try to rush. If we have a habit to kick, we want to do it in a day. Or if we have a habit we think would be good to develop, we want it to be a habit after one time. Yet we know that is not realistic. Our walk with God is much the same, and we often face discouragement when we don’t see ourselves to be the types of Christians we think we should be “by now.” This may lead us to try to push the results–to try to force a finished product without the essential ingredients: time and patience. “God, why did you make me this way?” we ask. But God already sees the finished product He is making you to be, and He sees the purpose He has made you for. As hard as it may be, we have to learn to rest in Him, trust in Him, and give Him the time to help us become the Christian He sees us as in His Son.
written by Randy Chambers
Our Daily Devotional:
God calls me to do something, and I begin with enthusiasm. But as
some point my fervor fades, and my dedication dissipates. I find I’ve very
little left to give. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been neglecting being filled.
David said, “My cup overflows.” It is difficult to find your cup overflowing if
you do not intentionally hold your cup under the outpouring of God. All too
often, we ask the Lord why we feel empty, or why we don’t see His fruits, or why
we don’t feel His presence, or His power, or understand His purpose. All too
often, we struggle to find His will and wonder what we’re missing; all the while
we have yet to diligently seek Him with all our heart. We are like a man who
eats nothing all day and wonders why he is hungry the next morning. But God is
faithful, and “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Are you empty
inside? Seek the Lord diligently and with all your heart. “Blessed are they that
hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
written by Randy Chambers
“… Watch out that no [bitter] root… grows up [among] you… ” – Hebrews 12:15 NLT
Have you been ‘burned’ by people? You’re not alone, we all have. But instead of being consumed by it, God tells you to forgive it and let it go. When you deny your feelings and stew under the surface, you give the devil the advantage over you (2 Corinthians 2:11). But by dealing scripturally with the situation your painful experiences can make you better, not bitter. If you’re struggling with bitterness today do these three things. First, forgive. Forgiveness isn’t based on an emotion. Don’t wait until you ‘feel’ like it, decide today to let the offence go. When you do, God’s Spirit will calm your emotions and help you overcome the urge to retaliate. Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy’ (Matthew 5:7 NIV). Since you yourself will always need to make withdrawals, God calls you to keep making ‘mercy deposits’. Second, pray about it. The moment you sense resentment, turn to God and He will give you the strength to act in love rather than react in anger. When you commit to living this way He promises to give you ‘… power to keep [yourself] calm in the days of adversity… ‘ (Psalm 94:13 AMP). Third, think scripturally. Look up every verse you can find on showing forgiveness and meditate on them. Remember, each time you choose to do the right thing, a little more of the old you dies and the new you develops. That’s how God prepares you for greater blessing. But you must be in position to receive it. So decide now that although you’ve been ‘burned’, you won’t become bitter.
Most of us have no idea how much other people’s emotions, self-esteem and hopes are influenced by what we say. Paul said, ‘Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus… have been a wonderful encouragement to me.’ If you’ve never heard of them, it’s because most encouragers hate being the centre of attention. They’re happy to work in a supporting role. But without them very little would get done. The opposite of giving encouragement is spreading discouragement, and Paul says, ‘Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up… that it may benefit those who listen’ (Ephesians 4:29 NIV). Jesus said, ‘… [You'll] give account… by your words you will be justified, and… condemned’ (Matthew 12:36-37 NKJV). What you say can never be taken back, and it’ll be used as evidence for or against you one day. Dr Thomas Blackaby points out, ‘Words… can leave scars for a lifetime, and many people will never forget some of the things you’ve said to them, both good things, such as words of encouragement, and bad things, such as criticism and rebuke… Make the best possible use of words so they bring blessings on others.’ So, are your words encouraging? Can it be said that there’s ‘… nothing crooked or perverse… in them’ (Proverbs 8:8 NKJV)? Ask God to ‘Set a guard… over [your] mouth… ‘ (Psalm 141:3 NKJV) so whatever you say glorifies Him and lifts others up.
“… Relish life with the spouse you love each and every day… ” -Ecclesiastes 9:9 TM
Counsellors reckon that less than 25 per cent of marriages today are truly happy. What does it take to be one of them? Thinking about marriage in God‘s terms, not selfish terms. From God’s perspective, happiness in marriage depends on distinguishing fact from fiction. The world of movie magic creates unrealistic expectations. To ‘relish life with the spouse you love each and every day’, you must re-examine your thinking. Every marriage is made up of two flawed people: ‘For all have sinned and fall short… ‘ (Romans 3:23 NIV). That includes you and your partner. It’s not that we don’t know this, it’s that we keep forgetting it, or hoping we’re the exception to the rule. Expecting perfection is naïve and will keep undermining your relationship. Happiness in marriage depends on coming to terms with your mutual defects and dealing with them realistically. Recognise fiction; deal with facts – especially in certain vulnerable areas. For example, finances. Practise tithing, generosity, delayed gratification, and fiscal discipline. Second, personal appearance. Always try to look your best, but accept unchangeable features – both yours and your partner’s. Ageing is God’s idea, so accept it with dignity and become wiser with it. Third, lifestyle. Happiness is about comfort and contentment, not materialism and pride that lead to crushing indebtedness. Then, courtesy. Small kindnesses, considerate acts and words are low-cost, high-yield investments. Finally, physical satisfaction. The greatest satisfaction results from providing satisfaction for your partner. Self-focus, manipulation and demanding your way can never match God’s unfailing system: ‘Give, and it shall be given unto you… ‘ (Luke 6:38 KJV).
Luke 9:23-24, NIV: “Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.’”
If I were to deny to myself, what would that look like? Jesus denied Himself, and it meant a life of slavery to God the Father. He counted His rights to anything from this life as forfeit: “Not my will, but Thy will…” Am I willing to recognize that I must deny myself what I want out of life in order that God’s purpose be fulfilled in me? Am I willing to take up my cross daily and follow Him? Jesus took up His cross as one condemned to die. Do I live as though I am on death row–condemned to die? If so, my considerations are to putting my house in order, seeking God, and loving others while there is time. I do not plug away making for myself a life in this world, for the next world weighs heavy on my mind. “…anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Mt. 10:38). The natural reaction is to begin to question, “But, doesn’t God want me to have…” this or that? God wants our full and complete surrender to Jesus. In turn, He is able to give you what He wants you to have–and that is far greater than anything we would seek for ourselves.
written by Randy Chambers
At the pool of Bethesda Jesus was drawn to a man who’d been physically incapacitated for 38 years and couldn’t walk. That’s a long time to wait for things to change. Many of us would have given up. ‘When Jesus… asked… “Do you want to get well?”… [he] replied, “I have no one to help me… While I am trying to get in, someone else goes… ahead of me.” Then Jesus said… “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk”‘ (vv. 6-8 NIV). How do you see yourself? As a helpless victim? Wendy Blight says, ‘I lived like that… for a decade. At 21 I was raped by a masked stranger hiding in my apartment. Before that I loved life. I’d just completed college… graduated with honours… become engaged to a wonderful man… and had an amazing job waiting for me… My attacker’s… act shattered my hopes and dreams. I lived in a prison of fear and despair. Then I encountered Christ… the words He spoke… pierced my soul. I… was the man on that mat… accustomed to my place of sorrow… I enjoyed being the victim… I was comfortable. The Bible says, ‘… The Word of God is living and active… it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart’ (Hebrews 4:12 NIV) and it spoke personally to me. I knew I needed to take the first step. I surrendered my fear, pity, and grief… I learned God had a plan for my life and a purpose for my pain. However, I’d never see it until I had the courage to get up and walk. If you’re on the mat… open God’s Word. Let Him speak… promises of hope and healing. Before you can get off the mat, you must surrender your fear, self-pity, and despair. Will you do it?’
David desired to know God above all else. He used words like longing, yearning, thirsting and hungering. ‘I ask only one thing of the Lord. This is what I want: Let me live in the Lord’s house all my life.’ (Psalm 27:4 NCV). Again he said, ‘Your love means more than life to me… ‘ (Psalm 63:3 CEV). Jacob‘s desire was so intense that he wrestled with God all night, saying, ‘… “I will not let you go unless you bless me”‘ (Genesis 32:26 NIV). And the amazing thing is, God, who is all powerful, let Jacob win. Why? Because wrestling requires personal contact; it brings us close to Him. Paul was another man who was passionate about his friendship with God. ‘… [My determined purpose is]… [that I may... become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him]… ‘ (Philippians 3:10 AMP). You say, ‘I’d like to have a closer relationship with God, but I’m so busy.’ The truth is, you are as close to God as you desire and discipline yourself to be! Friendship with God must become your passion. You must intentionally seek it. That means answering questions like, ‘Do I value it more than anything else? Is it worth giving up other things for? Is it worth developing the habits and skills required? Am I willing to say, ‘Lord, more than anything else, I want to know You’?’ God’s answer to that prayer has always been: ‘… “When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed”‘ (Jeremiah 29:13-14 TM).
Resolve, endurance, fortitude, perseverance, determination, steadfastness, tenacity–all characteristic of someone who holds the course, fights the good fight, and finishes the race. Many there are who with great bursts of energy jet from the starting line once inspired to follow Christ more closely. Many there are who quickly lose steam and falter, fade in their own strength, and fall far short of the finish line. So many of us start out strong, only to give up when the Christian life becomes a struggle. We grow weary. We tire. Our inspiration turns to hopelessness. Our enthusiasm becomes exhausted. Why is it so many of us give up? Perhaps we have forgotten what we live for, would fight for, and were at one time ready to die for. Perhaps the obstacles have taken toll and left us without of anything left to give. We do have hope in Christ. He will help us get through. But we must not lose sight of our purpose, goal and our Lord. We must not give up. We must not quit. We must find through Jesus the determination to carry on.
written by Randy Chambers
Behind everything you do, there’s a thought! So if you’re serious about changing your life, you must change how you think. That’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen instantly. Picture yourself in a boat with the automatic pilot set to go in a certain direction, then you suddenly decide to go somewhere else. First option: willpower. Grab the wheel and force it to go where you want; by sheer willpower, overcome the autopilot. But you’ll feel constant resistance. Your arms will get tired, and when you let go of the wheel, guess what? The boat will go the way it’s programmed to go. Get the idea? That’s what happens when you try to change your life through willpower: ‘I’ll force myself to quit drinking, cheating, or overeating’, and so on. Your willpower can only produce short-term change, but it creates constant stress because you haven’t dealt with the root cause and reprogrammed your mind. The change doesn’t feel natural so eventually you give up, revert to your old patterns and say, ‘I guess this is just the way I am. I’ll never change.’ Second option: God’s power. There is a better way! The Bible says, ‘… Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.’ Change always begins in your mind! The way you think determines the way you feel, and the way you feel determines the way you act. You say, ‘How can I change the way I think?’ By programming your mind each day with God’s Word. ‘How can a… man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word’ (Psalm 119:9 NKJV).