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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Respect His Name (and other devotionals)

Respect His Name

"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain."

—Exodus 20:7

Do you care about your name? Do you like it when people slander you or say things that aren't true about you? Have you ever had that happen? I have. No one enjoys that. We want to protect our name. The Bible says that "a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold" (Proverbs 22:1).

God cares about His name, too. And He tells us, "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (Exodus 20:7). The words in vain literally could be translated "in an empty, idle, insincere, frivolous way."

So how do people take the Lord's name in vain? One obvious way is profanity. Isn't it interesting how people use the name of Jesus Christ so often? Even nonbelievers, in their spiritually deadened state, know there is something different about the name of Jesus. We don't hear people exclaiming, "Buddha!" or "Hare Krishna!" In a backhanded way, nonbelievers acknowledge the power of Jesus even when they're misusing His name.

Another way people take His name in vain is by saying "I swear to God." Jesus said, "But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one" (Matthew 5:37). Your word should be enough.

Let me add another way that people take God's name in vain that's important for us to be aware of: Saying "Oh my God" a lot. That seems to be a popular phrase now. But it's taking God's name in vain. The same goes for texting OMG. Don't do that. Don't use God's name in an empty way.

God cares about His name, and so should we.
~Greg Laurie~

Today's ReadingGenesis 1Matthew 1

Today's Thoughts: Back to the Beginning

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:1-4

Sometimes I need to go back to the beginning of the Bible to get a new perspective on things. The book of Genesis is a wonderful book filled with all kinds of new beginnings. From the creation of the universe to the beginnings of civilization, I am always blessed when I start reading Genesis. Let's look at the first four verses to see how they can give us a fresh and new perspective for today.
I love the first four words: "In the beginning God…." That says it all. Sometimes I just need to be reminded that God has always existed. It is hard to comprehend the concept that before "the beginning," there was God, but it is a truth that we can embrace with love and respect. He is God and there is none other. "God," as used in this passage, is the Hebrew word "Elohim," which is plural (meaning more than one). Elohim refers to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, existing since the beginning of creation. It brings great comfort in being reminded that God is all-knowing, all-powerful and ever-present, from beginning to end (Alpha and Omega), while taking care of us in the middle too.
The next amazing part of these verses describes how God separated the light from the darkness. The earth was dark and had no form or substance. But God is light and in Him, there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). God saw the darkness and knew that the whole earth needed His light. Thus, God brought forth His light for us. When we feel as though darkness surrounds us, we look upon Jesus and He is still bringing forth His light for us today. These verses remind us that God understands darkness and never intended for us to live in it. He created the light, separated the light from darkness, and said, "it was good."
When man sinned, darkness entered into our hearts and the light of God went out. God sent His Son, Jesus, to bring light into the world so that all who believe in Him might be saved from the eternal darkness. For those of us today who have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we are filled with His eternal presence through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. Everywhere we go, we shine His light. Isn't it great to go back to the beginning?

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

The lever which has turned the world upside down!

(J.C. Ryle)

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Galatians 6:14 

The cross of Christ is the strength of the minister--it is the heart of the gospel.

I would not preach a sermon without preaching Christ Crucified. I would feel . . .
  like a soldier without a weapon,
  like an artist without a brush,
  like a ship without a rudder,
  like a laborer without tools.

Let others, if they will, preach law and morality; let others drench their congregations with baptisms and church laws--but give me the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ!

This is the lever which has turned the world upside down!

This is the only gospel that will cause men to repent and forsake their sins.

This is the only message which can give peace to a troubled soul.

And if the cross of Christ will not do it, nothing will.

A man may begin preaching with a perfect knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew; but he will do his hearers no good unless he experimentally knows Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

A missionary may go forth with compassion for the poor, tenderness for the sick, and pity for the enslaved; but he will never relieve poverty of spirit, sickness of soul, nor bondage of will--unless he takes them the gospel of Christ Crucified.

This is the preaching the Holy Spirit will bless. He honors those who honor Christ Crucified!

Keep Looking Up!
George Everard

A sailor lad was climbing the mast for the first time. After a while he began to grow dizzy, and feared lest he might fall. "What shall I do?" he anxiously cried out to the captain, who was watching him from below. "Keep looking up, my boy!" was the answer he received. He obeyed, and soon lost his fear, so that he was able steadily to move along the rigging.
In another and a more important sense, this direction is applicable to every Christian. Whatever your position is, whatever are your fears or dangers — keep looking up! Think of God, of your soul and its salvation, of Christ, and of forgiveness through Him. Lift up your eyes to Him who dwells in the heavens. Expect help from above. Your Father is ever ready to support you. Your Almighty Savior is ever pleading your cause. Therefore you can never be disappointed. The look of faith will ever have a response from the heart and hand of God.
Keep looking up! This is what David did. He was surrounded by foes and dangers. He was hated by Saul, who sought him every day to kill him. He was often in the greatest peril, but his spiritual sight was ever heavenward. "I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help. My help comes from the Lord, who has made Heaven and earth." "My eyes are ever toward the Lord; for He shall pluck my feet out of the net." Nor did he look in vain. The Lord delivered him from all his enemies, and set him upon the throne of the kingdom. He was ever with him, and prospered him on every side.
Keep looking up! This is what Jehoshaphat did. He was compassed about by a great host of adversaries. Various powers united together for the destruction of Jerusalem; but Jehoshaphat set himself to seek the Lord. He gathered the people for prayer and supplication; and he kept looking up for help. He said: "O our God, will You not exercise judgment upon them? For we have no might to stand against this great company that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You!" 2 Chronicles 20:12. And God regarded him, and sent him deliverance — before a blow was struck, the confederacy was broken up and the army scattered. The people had but to rejoice and praise the Lord.
Keep looking up! Be sure that the Lord cannot disregard the upward glance of the weakest of His children as they turn to Him.

Imagine a little child in fear and trembling. Perhaps the peril is great, and he cannot speak, but he turns a wistful look for help to his father or mother who is near. Would any parent disregard such a look? Would not the father or mother run to support the child who thus appealed to their love? And shall it not be so with our Father in Heaven? Has He not far more than any parent's love? Will He refuse to help and comfort the one who thus relies upon Him?
Keep looking up! Here is a message for the anxious, seeking soul. You desire salvation. You know something of your sin and misery. You feel that you are lost and wretched and undone. But all seems dark and hopeless. But look up.
Look straight up to Jesus! Not to your faith, not to your repentance, not to anything in yourself or anything you can do; looking downwards to these will make you wretched — therefore look up to Jesus only. He died for your sins, and now pleads your cause. He saves to the uttermost, the greatest sinners, and rejects none who trust in Him.
"There is life for a look at the Crucified One,
 There is life at this moment for you!"
Keep looking up! Here is a message for a believer who would hold fast and make progress in grace and holiness. From first to last, the strength is in Jesus, and not in yourself. You have no power to stand for a moment, or to advance one step along the narrow way. But keep looking up, and all will be well.
You will be kept from falling. While Peter looked to Jesus, he was able to walk in safety over the rough and boisterous waves; but when he looked off from Him he began to sink. So fix your eye constantly on the Savior.
He can bring you through a thousand temptations;
He can hold you up and keep you safe;
\He can strengthen you with might by His Spirit in the inner man;
He can endue you with wisdom and power for every call of duty;
He can make you, day by day, more holy and more like Himself in all things.
As you keep looking to Him, He will transform you into His lovely image by the renewing of your mind. "We, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord."
Keep looking up! Here is a message for the pilgrim who is cast down and sorely tried by the difficulties and sorrows of the way. You are passing through much tribulation. You have to endure days and nights of suffering, or perhaps it may be you have to witness the failing health of one dear to you. Or perhaps your means are very insufficient, and you look in vain for friends to assist you.
But whatever is the trial — look above it. Don't fix your eye on that bitter trial, on that dark providence — but on Him who sits above the water-floods. When you can't see His hand — trust His heart! Be sure that there is a silver lining in the dark cloud, and that redeeming love has appointed all your sorrow. Christ Himself is ever near you. He is by your side, close by you in tender pity and compassion. He will never fail you, nor ever forsake you. He will make all things work together for your good. He will bring you through all your wilderness journeys, to His bright House of Glory. Therefore keep looking up.

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