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Sunday, June 5, 2016

From Anger to Love (and other devotionals)

From Anger to Love 

"He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea"   (Micah 7:19).

God never turns from His love, but He soon turns from His wrath. His love to His chosen is according to His nature; His anger is only according to His office. He loves because He is love; He frowns because it is necessary for our good. He will come back to the place in which His heart rests, namely, His love to His own, and then He will take pity upon our griefs and end them. What a choice promise is this--"He will subdue our iniquities"! He will conquer them. They cry to enslave us, but the LORD will give us victory over them by His own right hand. Like the Canaanites, they shall be beaten, put under the yoke, and ultimately slain. As for the guilt of our sins, how gloriously is that removed! "All their sins"--yes, the whole host of them; "thou wilt cast"--only an almighty arm could perform such a wonder; "into the depths of the sea"--where Pharaoh and his chariots went down. Not into the shallows out of which they might be washed up by the tide, but into the "depths" shall our sins be hurled. They are all gone. They sank into the bottom like a stone. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

~Charles Spurgeon~
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It pleased God... to reveal His Son in me. (Galatians 1:15,16)
It is always futile and dangerous to advise people to leave one thing until they have a revelation of the fuller, and only such a revelation will accomplish the true emancipation.... It may not be applicable to many of us, but the principle is what I want you to recognize. You may not need to be emancipated from anything like Judaism or legalism, but the principle is this, that for all increase, progress, enlargement, growth, and maturity, it is essential that there should be in the heart a continuous unveiling of Jesus Christ, and you and I will never get to the end of that unveiling. It is possible for some of us to say with truth that this year we have seen more of the meaning of the Lord Jesus than in all the previous years of our lives. Can you say that?
It is the most blessed and most wonderful thing to be able to recognize that there is a growing revelation of Jesus Christ within; you see more and more of what He means from God’s standpoint, and as that is so, there comes this increase of the Lord Jesus... the fruit of the Spirit – love. An increase of the revelation of Jesus Christ in the heart is an increase of the love of the Lord Jesus, the fruit of the Spirit. You are conscious that your heart is coming more and more under the constraint of His love and that unloveliness is becoming subordinate to His love. There is more joy in the Lord Jesus today than ever, because you are seeing more of what He is. It is practical. That is spiritual growth: “It pleased God... to reveal His Son in me....” It is so important that there should be this continual, living unveiling of Christ in the heart if we are to reach God’s full end.

~T. Austin-Sparks~
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Ephesians 5:1-2

(1) Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. (2) And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
New King James Version   
Love is extremely rewarding yet also costly, since one who loves will sacrifice. Indeed, sacrifice is love's very essence.
We can illuminate Paul's thought in Ephesians 5:1-2 by placing it in a larger context. Note Ephesians 2:8-10:
For by grace you have been saved throughfaith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in ChristJesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Salvation indeed is a free gift; it cannot be earned by works. Yet, after saving us from our sins, God requires us to work! We are to perform work that He has laid out beforehand for us to accomplish. In fact, verse 10, standing by itself, asserts that to do these good works is the very reason we have received justification!
This verse, in the phrase, "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus," also says that God, in turn, is working on us. Before being saved, we were not in Christ Jesus. God's creative processes brought us into Christ, and once there, He continues to shape and form us into His Son's image (II Corinthians 3:18).
We are being formed, shaped, and molded by our Creator and Savior to become Christ-like. What kinds of work are required of us for this to happen?
As he progresses toward his statement in Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul says in Ephesians 4:17-18:
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk [live your life] as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart. . . .
Is it twisting these verses to say that Paul is commanding these converted and already-saved people to work to sacrifice their lives as Christ did? Doing what he commands takes the work of consciously praying, studying, investigating, and meditating on God's Word to remove a person's ignorance and blindness. It also takes the additional hard work of resisting Satan, human nature, and the world to implement what is learned into daily life.
Such labor will be very pleasing to God, but in no way does it earn us salvation! Moreover, this is clearly obeying God's command. Even though it is not one of the Ten Commandments, it nonetheless expresses God's will for His children after they have been saved from past sins.

~John W. Ritenbaugh~
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If a man carried a bag of gunpowder with him!

(George Everard, "Heart-Work")

"Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the issues of life." Proverbs 4:23

Remember that the heart regulates the life. If the heart is right, then . . .
  the hands will do right--they will not steal or be idle, but do their work faithfully;
  the feet will move right, not going where they should not, standing in the way of sinners, or treading forbidden paths--but walking straight in the ways of godliness;
  the eyes will look right, not coveting forbidden fruit, or reading debasing literature--but spying out work that ought to be done, and looking kindly and pleasantly on those around;
the ears will hearken aright, not eagerly drinking in false reports, or the advice of those who have not yet learned to teach themselves--but ever willing to listen to a faithful reproof, or to a word of wise counsel;
  the lips will speak aright, not uttering words of slander, or falsehood, or folly--but words of truth and purity and love, words of earnest prayer and of grateful praise.

But HOW shall the heart be kept right? 


1. First of all, remember that He  who made the heart, can alone fashion and dispose it to that which is good. Whatever is amiss, He knows how to remedy it:
  He gives it a new mainspring--He puts within it the love of Christ, instead of the love of the world;
  He sends His Holy Spirit to control and order its unruly passions and affections;
  He can cleanse it from all its defilements;
  When the chain is off the wheel, He can replace it--I mean, when something has turned our desires from their right object, He can restore them.

Then ask earnestly for grace, "Create in me a clean heart, O God! Incline my heart to Your testimonies! Let my heart be sound in Your statutes that I may honor You!"

But then, He bids us to be workers together with Him in this matter. There is that which He alone can do--but there is that which is our part by His grace to do also.

2. You must take care not to run into scenes of temptation. If a man carried a bag of gunpowder with him, he would be very careful not to go where sparks were flying about--he would feel that in a moment a spark might be his destruction.

Now your heart is very like that gunpowder--a little thing may set it all alight with evil passions! Words may be spoken that may arouse unholy thoughts or desires--therefore be careful. Never go near places where the devil is accustomed to come. Keep far away from the theater, the dancing-room, and never enter the bar of a tavern if you can avoid it.

3. You must watch against any evil thoughts lodging in your mind. You may not be able to prevent them arising, but endeavor to drive them away as soon as you can. A flock of birds may fly over your head--but you would not let them build a nest in your hair! Little flies or insects in summer are very troublesome sometimes--but you take pains to keep them from getting into your eyes, or irritating your face and hands. In the same way, watch against every bad thought.

Remember that among the thousands of thoughts that pass through your mind in a day, there is not one hidden from God! He understands your thoughts afar off, and in His sight the thought of foolishness is sin. Therefore be watchful--do not dwell on anything that may pollute the mind. Cast away murmuring thoughts, angry thoughts, impure thoughts--and pray that God would preserve you from them. "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be always acceptable in Your sight, O Lord!"

4. But to keep away thoughts that do harm--nourish thoughts that will do you good. "Finally, brothers . . .
  whatever is true,
  whatever is noble,
  whatever is right,
  whatever is pure,
  whatever is lovely,
  whatever is admirable,
  if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
--think about such things." Philippians 4:8

There is a good old proverb, "Fill the sack with wheat--and there will be no room for chaff!" Fill your heart with kind thoughts, grateful thoughts, holy thoughts--and you will be safe. Let God's thoughts which are given to us in the Bible--leaven all your thoughts. Hide in your heart the promises andprecepts of His Word.

5. But above all, live in a spirit of prayer. Believe that God is always ready to hear you--and often go to Him for help. Draw near to God--and He will draw near to you. Nothing will keep your heart in a holy, happy frame, so much as prayer.
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Make Your Choice

"If it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

—Joshua 24:15

Are you trying to live in two worlds? If so, then I know something about you. I know you're not happy. Am I right? When you spend time around other Christians, you're uncomfortable because of your sin. On the other hand, when you're doing things you know you shouldn't as a Christian, then you have the conviction of that sin.

I have an idea: Stop doing that stuff. Make your choice. As Joshua said to the Israelites, "Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. . . . But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).

Every one of us must make that decision. I can't make it for you, and you can't make it for me.

Are you in a relationship that is dragging you down (see 2 Corinthians 6:14)? Are you doing things that are weakening your resolve? Stop doing those things.

I'm not saying it is easy. We all get tempted. We all have a sinful nature. And as Christians we all have a God who will give us the strength to do what He has called us to do.

It really comes down to this: Do you really want to change? If you do, then God will give you that resolve. When the Lord came to Moses and spoke to him through the burning bush, Moses basically said, "I can't do this. I don't know what to say. I stumble over my words."

But later in Exodus we see him facing off with the most powerful man on the face of the earth. That is because God gave him the strength.

In the same way, God will give you the strength to do what you need to do. Don't live in two worlds. Make a complete commitment to Jesus.
~Greg Laurie~

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