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Monday, July 18, 2016

The Remnant (and other devotionals)


And the remnant... shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. (Isaiah 37:31)

The Lord must have something which cannot be carried away, which cannot be removed, cannot be shaken, and certainly something which cannot be rooted up. That is His remnant. That, He must have for His own glory, and, that being so, He will take every measure with His remnant to have them after that kind, with roots downward. Of course, unto fruit upward. We speak much about the upward side of things, life in the heavenlies, sitting in the heavenlies, and our warfare and work – the fruitfulness of our life in union with the Lord. That is only possible as our roots are downward. In order that that might be so, we have to get into a place of unshakeableness where the roots have got such a grip that nothing can overthrow. And I believe that explains a very great deal of what the Lord is doing with His own spiritual people in these days.
It is true that the true children of God are going through a time of intense trial and testing spiritually in these days; everywhere it is so. Why? Because the Lord must have something against which hell is impotent and by which He demonstrates to the universe that strength of His might which causes to stand and withstand, and having done all to stand. If one were asked what the last issue for the Church in this age is, I would say that it stands, and that is saying a tremendous thing. Oh, you say, that is surely limiting things, are you not expecting much more than that? Progress, advance, sweeping movements? The Church will have all its work cut out in the end to stand, but its standing will be its victory. Just to be able, through testing, trial, when everything is blowing round you like a blizzard; when everything is dark, mysterious, and even God seems far away and unreal, and faith is tested and you are being assailed on the right hand and on the left, and there is every reason outwardly for your moving, giving up, falling down, surrendering, lowering your standard, just to stand and not be moved in your faith is the greatest possible victory.... We are passing through deep experiences, the enemy is doing it and the Lord is not preventing him, but we are coming to a fuller knowledge of the power of our God and a deeper rooting beyond all previous shakeableness. And the Lord is seeking to have a people who cannot be shaken, against whom hell with all its demonstration of arrogance and pride, is impotent. “And the remnant... shall again take root downward.” That is what the Lord needs.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

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Matthew 5:44

(44) But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
New King James Version   
We might think for a moment, "Who are our enemies?" Many of us believe we have no enemies. However, an enemy might be someone we thought was a friend, a family member with a long-held grudge, or even a brother or sister in Christ. An enemy can be someone we feel does not like us and has hurt or mistreated us. Whether we consider them enemies or not, there is no denying their hostility. In the same verse, Jesus goes on to expand His list of hostiles: "Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you."
We have probably all been through this particular trial and test as we grow to love one another as brethren. The church is just like a big family, where people can be hurt or feel mistreated in one way or another. Conflicts, misunderstandings, and slights—real or imagined—occur in every group of human beings, Christian or not.
It is very difficult to "love," "bless," "do good," and "pray" for a person who has hurt us deeply. It goes against our human nature to behave positively toward someone we feel deserves shame, censure, and punishment! Putting this principle into practice is a high hurdle for any Christian to clear.
Yet, as Christians, we know that forgiveness is one of the keys that Jesus taught for healing. Not only is it a teaching—it is also a command. Christ admonishes us to keep this charge in His model prayer in Matthew 6:12: "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Alternatively, it could be said, "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us" (see Luke 11:4).
Jesus comments further on this in Matthew 6:14-15: "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
In Matthew 18:21-22, we find another example: "Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brothersin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." In other words, we must always be willing to forgive a brother.
~John Rittenbaugh~
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The One to Please 

Do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. 
Galatians 1:10 
Recommended Reading
Galatians 1:6-10
Andrew Garfield, who played Spider-Man on the big screen, recently spoke of the frustration of trying to please everyone connected with his movies. “The pressure to get it right, to please everyone…You end up pleasing no one, or everyone just a little bit.”

Whether we’re a movie star, a mother, a pastor, a coach, or the sales clerk in a department store, it’s frustrating to try to please everyone. According to the Bible, we should focus on pleasing God. Jesus said, “I always do those things that please Him” (John 8:29), and He is our example.

Obedience comes as the result of our desire to please the Lord. Is your life well-pleasing to Him? The apostle Paul said, “Brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God” (1 Thessalonians 4:1). Let’s abound in pleasing Him.

Everyone lives to please somebody. Most people live to please themselves.… Pleasing God ought to be the major motive of the Christian life
~David Jeremiah~
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The Call to Discipleship

So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him.

—1 Kings 19:19

The ministry of the great prophet Elijah was coming to an end. God had directed him to pass his mantle on, which meant the calling that God placed on Elijah's life was about to be placed on Elijah's successor. It would be symbolized by Elijah's pulling off his mantle and giving it to someone else in a symbolic way.

Interestingly, the man to whom Elijah passed his calling had a similar name: Elisha. Elisha didn't have to take up the calling to be the prophet to the nation of Israel. He had a choice in the matter. He could have said, "That's okay. I'm out. This is too much for me." But he didn't. He accepted it.

Elijah was doing what every mature Christian should do. Whether you're a preacher, a missionary or a believer just living your life in this very harsh world, you are called to help others. After you have known the Lord for a while, you need to mentor other people. Older women should mentor younger women. Older men should mentor younger men.

Quite frankly, this a part of the Great Commission. The Great Commission is not merely to preach the gospel. The Great Commission is to go and "make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that [He has] commanded you" (Matthew 28:19–20).

The goal is to tell people about Jesus, try to lead them to the Lord, and then prayerfully take them under your wing and help them get on their feet spiritually.

We all have a part to play. I think somewhere along the line, evangelism has been isolated from discipleship. But you need younger Christians—and younger Christians need you.
~Greg Laurie~
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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

(16) Rejoice always, (17) pray without ceasing, (18) in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
New King James Version   
Paul addresses I Thessalonians 5:16-18 directly to us, and its commands can greatly affect our attitudes during trials so that we make the best use of them without getting down on life: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in ChristJesus for you.” These are quite challenging! But since God commands them of us, they are things that He will enable us to accomplish. Therefore, they are not impossible tasks.
These are attitudes and actions that we can control. Other scriptures reveal that God permits us to be saddened or disappointed about what is happening. For example, the gospels say that Jesus sorrowed about various things. Here, Paul's concern is that, in our relationship with God—as the mention of prayer establishes—we will not remain depressed for an extended time because of our contact with God. We should be able to come out of our funks. If we do not, it is because we are too focused on ourselves.
These commands guard against allowing ourselves to sink from an upbeat, positive, and hopeful attitude of a child of God to a discouraged and self-centered one. How? By doing spiritual work directly in relation to God, holding onto God in the midst of all circumstances in life. Peter writes that if God is our hope, He will lift us up (I Peter 5:6-7).
I Timothy 6:6-8 reminds us of an important reality: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” This passage's central issue concerns wealth. Great discontentment and discouragement are generated through coveting wealth. However, the attitude of a reasoned, faith-based contentment, regardless of economic circumstances, causes great spiritual gain.
Within a relationship with God, this faith-based attitude greatly assists in enabling a Christian to live an “over the sun” life. In a converted person's mind, because he is living such a life, God is the Central Figure, and he accepts whatever life throws his way. A Christian with that focus works his way through his trials, overcoming the pulls toward self-centeredness because he knows God is with him.
Without God being the beacon that provides guidance and encouragement, a person can much more easily drift into an easily discouraged, discontented, covetous, “life is down on me,” self-centered existence. When that happens, spiritual progress grinds to a halt.

~John W. Ritenbaugh~




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