Peter Rebuked

Here’s Today’s Devotional from The Vine…

 

But he turned, and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men.”– Matthew 16:23

It was Peter’s love for Christ that made him fight against this portrayal of his Lord. In his love he wanted to hold the Master back from wasting His life, but in doing this he was acting the part of Satan in seeking to tempt Jesus from His great work of sacrifice. This way of the cross was not an accident; it was the way marked out for Christ. To go away from it would be to fail in His mission.

Our best friends may tempt us in the same way. In their love for us they may try to keep us from doing things which will lead to sacrifice. Parents may seek to restrain their children from going overseas. Any of us, with the best intentions for our friends, may discourage them from dangerous or painful service which may be their duty to accomplish. We need to guard ourselves at this point. The path of true success does not always lie along the sunny hillside. Sometimes it goes down into the dark valley of self-sacrifice. If we try to stop anyone from doing hard tasks or urging them to choose easier ways, we may be doing Satan’s work. We may be plucking the crown from the brow of our friend by holding back his or her feet from the way of the cross.

We all need to guard against the counsel of friends who would restrain us from costly or dangerous service. In matters of duty we must know only one guide and follow the call of only one voice. We are not set in this world to have an easy time. We are not born to focus on our own desires. We are here to go where Christ leads and to follow Him to [pain and to death if He leads us in those paths. We dare not allow ourselves to be turned aside by misguided good intentions of human love. It is the way of duty that takes us home.

The Lord’s Time

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Here’s Today’s Devotional from The Vine

Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with you and me? My hour has not yet come.” – John 2:4

He meant that His time for beginning to work miracles had not yet come. With all divine power slumbering in His hands, He would do nothing at any bidding but His Father’s. Even His human mother’s request He could not in this matter regard.

One thought here is our Lord‘s perfect devotion to His Father’s will. We find the same all through His life. He did nothing of Himself. He took His work moment by moment from His Father’s hand. He waited always for His “hour.” He had no plans of His own, but followed the Divine purpose in all His acts. All those early years at Nazareth, with omnipotence in His arm, He wrought no miracle. Even now, though appealed to by His mother whom He so deeply loved, He would not do anything even one minute before His hour came.

The practical lesson for us here is devotion to God’s will. We should always wait for God. Too many of us run before we are sent. In our zeal for God’s cause and kingdom we do not wait for Divine direction. We speak words out of season which, despite their earnestness and sincerity, do harm rather than good. We try to feed others with unripe fruits. We address men before they are prepared to hear, and ofttimes in words that drive them beyond our reach. We hurry out to preach when we ought ourselves to be sitting quietly at our Master’s feet as learners.

The most common fault among Christians is that they are too slow in doing Christ‘s work and in heeding His calls; but it is a fault also to go too fast for God, to go before He sends us. With all warm love for Christ we must learn to wait for Him, to wait till our hour is come. He must prepare us for the work before we are ready to do it, and then He must prepare the work for our hand. In Christian work we need patience and self-restraint as well as zeal and earnestness.

Christ Our Friend

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“I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known unto you.”– Jn  15:15.

I HAVE READ somewhere that when Michael Angelo was in the height of his fame, a boy named Raphael, destined to be his worthy successor –was introduced to him as a promising-pupil. At first the lad was employed in the simplest duties of the studio, cleaning brushes and mixing paints, but as he developed the qualities of exactness, punctuality, and sympathy, he became entrusted with increasing responsibility, until the master made him his friend and confidant. So we come to Christ, first, as redeemed from the slavery of Satan, to be His Servants, and He calls us His friends.

A friend will reveal himself. All the world may suppose that it knows a famous man, but after all, if he calls me his friend, I expect to get closer to him and hear from his own lips items of confidential information. Thus it is with the Lord Jesus. He manifests Himself to those who love Him, and keep His word, as He does not to the world.

A friend will interest his friends in his undertakings. It is a joy to Christ when those whom He loves are able to take a share in His world-wide redemptive schemes. For us, of course, it is a high honour, but it is as great a pleasure and delight to Him as it is for some loving soul to have the pleasure of working with that other twin-soul, to which it is attached. It is wonderful that Jesus is glad to have us as His fellow-workers.

A friend will be interested in our failures and successes. Not otherwise is it with our Lord. When He sees some peril menacing us, does He not make the trial-hour one of special intercession? If we fail, He meets us with the same tender affection, not alienated from us, but only intensely sorry, ready to point out the cause of our failure and to encourage us to try again. If we stand our ground, He meets us as we come forth from the fight, glad for us, eager to refresh us in our weariness, careful to heal any wound that we may have received.

Such is the Friendship of Jesus. He is always the same, His love never wanes, its manifestations are never remiss. Is it not worth while to make every effort so to keep His commandments that our entire abandonment to Him may induce His entire abandonment to us?

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, we pray that Jesus Christ may become dearer to us. May we love Him as a personal Friend, and hide ourselves in the hourly consciousness of His presence. May we have no taste or desire for things which He would disapprove. Let His love constrain us not to live unto ourselves, but to His glory. AMEN.

F.B. Meyer

Trained to Discern

Hebrews 5:11-14

In today’s world, impatience is all too common a trait. We want food, help, and information fast. Just waiting for the computer to boot up or the “next avail-able agent” to answer our call can cause frustration. But the Lord specializes in slow, steady work. He’s more interested in a quality outcome than a speedy process.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of spiritual discernment. When we become Christians, we aren’t instantly wise and knowledgeable. It takes a lifetime to grow to maturity. Some believers, however, don’t seem to grow up at all. They get older, but their understanding of God’s Word never goes very deep.

This lack of godly wisdom is caused by ignorance of the Scriptures, apathy and complacency about spiritual things, and a failure to apply biblical truths. Discernment requires time and effort. You can’t simply move through life, thoughtlessly reacting to situations yet never learning from them. Take time to reflect on your responses and observe the consequences of your actions and choices. If you feel convicted by what you notice, let that motivate you to begin a lifelong pursuit of the Lord and His ways. Start reading the Bible regularly. And as you do, ask the Lord to open your heart and mind to understand what He’s saying.

But just reading God’s Word isn’t enough. Without applying what you’ve read, all you’ll have is head knowledge. Obedience trains us to discern good and evil. Through practice, we learn wisdom and develop spiritual maturity. If you’ll begin today and patiently persevere, in time discernment will come.

Dr. Charles Stanley

Peacemaker’s

Here’s Today’s Devotional from The Vine…

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. – Matthew 5:9

This seems to be too much an overlooked beatitude. There are many people who are really strifemakers rather than peacemakers. They do not seek to heal estrangements between others, to prevent quarrels and contentions, and to bring together those who have begun to drift apart. Indeed, their whole influence goes toward widening breaches, intensifying bitterness, and exciting anger and hatred. When they find in any one a germ of suspicion or dislike of another, they stimulate the evil growth. Is it not time that we should get our Lord’s beatitude down out of the skies and begin to work it into our lives? Is it not time that we should become peacemakers in a world whose beauty is marred by so much strife?

The peacemaking spirit is divine. No one in heaven finds delight in separating friends. Just so far as we get the peacemaking spirit into our lives do we bear the mark of God’s image. To be peacemakers we must first of all strive to live peaceably with all men. “If it be possible , as much as in you lieth,” says St. Paul, “be at peace with all men.”

But, further, we are also to strive to make and promote peace between others. Our ministry is not to be confined to the settlement of great quarrels, but may find even its most fruitful work in the healing of the petty contentions which we discover all about us. Whenever we find one man angry with another, we should seek to remove the angry feeling, The little rifts in others’ friendships we should strive to heal. The unkind thoughts of others which we find in people’s minds we should seek to change into kindly thoughts. We can do no more Christ like service than to seek always to promote peace between man and man, to keep people from drifting apart, and to get them to live together more lovingly.

The Power Source for Discernment

1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Spiritual discernment is a supernatural ability, which requires supernatural power. In our human strength, we can rely only on what we see, hear, feel, and know in order to make decisions and evaluate circumstances and relationships. But when the Holy Spirit comes to live within us, He opens up an entirely new dimension of understanding. He shows us things we could never figure out by ourselves.

Although the Bible is the basis for spiritual discernment, without the interpreting power of the Spirit, reading it would be strictly an academic endeavor. But the Spirit takes the words and brings them to life in the hearts of those who have trusted Christ as their Savior. He knows precisely how to apply God’s Word to our exact need at just the right moment. Haven’t you found this to be true? You’ve read a passage many times, but just when you need a particular message, that familiar verse jumps off the page right into your heart.

That’s the work of the Spirit. He is the only one who knows the thoughts of the Father, and His job is to open our minds to understand “the things freely given to us by God” (v. 12). The Lord isn’t trying to hide His thoughts from us; rather, He wants us to know how He thinks so that we can proceed wisely.

So what should we do if we’re struggling to understand Scripture? First of all, the Lord wants us to seek Him and ask for wisdom to comprehend. This requires time and energy invested in Bible study and prayer. Second, the more yielded we are to the Spirit, the more we’ll be able to hear His voice.

Dr. Charles Stanley

God Has Unlimited Resources

By Gary Wilkerson

When her husband died, a poor widow was left in a frightening situation with
two children to support. Unable to meet her obligations, she was threatened by
creditors.

This woman was desperate and she appealed to Elisha: “Now the wife of one of
the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and
you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my
two children to be his slaves'” (2 Kings 4:1, ESV).

The fact is, God uses our dilemmas to glorify His name. For that reason, our
own God-story may be formed through pain or delay. One in ten Americans is
unemployed and others have had to take a reduction in pay. In some homes both
spouses work two jobs to keep from losing everything they own.

Perhaps you have reasoned in your own dilemma, “If I don’t have a breakthrough
soon, it’s over. I need a miracle just to survive.” I picture this widow having
those very thoughts.

Elisha asked her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in your
house?” (4:2, NKJV). He was not asking her to sell her valuables for cash;
actually, she didn’t have any valuables left. Elisha was saying, in essence,
“God can meet you just as you are. If you have faith, He can multiply even the
smallest thing you have.”

The widow answered, “All I have is one jar of oil.” We know from Scripture that
oil represents God’s blessing and provision. At this point Elisha gave her a
strange instruction: “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars.
Don’t ask for just a few” (4:3, NIV).

She did as the prophet instructed. Then Elisha said, “Then go inside and shut
the door behind you. . . . Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled,
put it to one side” (4:4, NIV). Once more she followed Elisha’s word. As she
poured oil from her own jar, it filled a borrowed jar. The same thing happened
again as the next borrowed jar was also filled. It happened again with the
next. And the next. There was an endless supply of oil!

Here is the point: When God tells us He has our needed supply, it is not just a
meager amount. God has everything we need. His ability to meet our situation is
endless.

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