Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Hopes and Fears of All the Years...

"And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds."~(Luke 2:16-18)

Phillips Brooks, Rector of Philadelphia, wrote the words to O Little Town of Bethlehem in 1868, following a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He was inspired by the view of Bethlehem from the hills of Palestine especially at night time; hence the lyrics.

His church organist, Lewis Redner, wrote the melody for the Sunday school children's choir.

There is a line from in the first verse that almost gets lost in the bigger picture of the song. "The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."

Hopes and Fears represent the polar ends of a wide range of feelings.

As we gaze back into that historic moment laid out before us in the Gospels, there we see a most remarkable assortment of figures gathering round about this infant boy. And unknowingly they unite to send a singular message down through the Ages.

We can come together in the presence of Christ.

This is the message of Christmas — kings and shepherds, angels and men, rich and poor, foreigner and citizen, influential and powerless — all ALIKE in one unforgettable moment of Community in the presence of the infant Christ.

Now consider — if the Babe in the Manger or bed was with such compelling influence that He could bring together those who otherwise would have nothing to do with one another, how much more so is this possible now that He is crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

The hopes and fears of all the years were once gathered and resolved in a sacred evening long ago. O Lord, do it again in our world today — for night has fallen upon us, and we need Your light to show us the way.

May the full blessings of that first Christmas be yours on this blessed day, and everyday hereafter through the remaining days of your journey!

Merry Christmas!

Culled from Daily Devotions by James Ryle

Monday, December 19, 2011

Away in a Manger?

"Away in a Manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head; the stars in the sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay. The cattle are lowing the baby awakes, the little Lord Jesus no crying He makes....oh, well, you know how it goes.

There is something here that is soft, safe and sweet – the Baby Jesus. Something serene, composed, and peaceful. It's enough to make us say, "Oh, isn't that precious.”

But He is more than this. The angels said to the shepherds, "Unto you is born this day in the house of David, a Savior — who is Christ the Lord." The Baby became a Man; the Man is both Lord and Christ.

Is it possible some may prefer to keep Him away, rather than near; in a manger, rather than on a throne?

Some people say Christmas is for children, and there is a lot of truth in that. But Christ is for all ages. And while we may delight in the innocence with which our kids sing the sweet chorus, "Away in a Manger" — let's make sure that that is not where we leave Him.

~James Ryle

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Is Marriage Getting Obsolete?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Lord is My Shepherd ...

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." (Psalm 23:1).

Jesus is Lord and King, Conqueror, Savior, the Mighty God, Prince of Peace, the Christ, Emmanuel, Teacher, Prophet and Master. Of the many titles given to the Lord, Shepherd must undoubtedly be one of His favorite. It links Him in the most personal way to those He loves.

Say it out loud and let the truth settle deep in your heart: "The Lord is my Shepherd!"

Isaiah prophesied, "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." (Isaiah 40:11). Peter preached, "For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." (1 Pet 2:25).

David, himself a shepherd, penned the Twenty-third Psalm as a comprehensive tribute to the Lord. He encompasses in this short poem at least fifteen provisions that are made for us when we follow the Lord as our Shepherd.

1. Rest - He maketh me to lie down in green pastures
2. Peace - He leadeth me beside the still waters
3. Restoration - He restoreth my soul
4. Guidance - He leadeth me in paths of righteousness
5. Honor - for His name's sake
6. Hope - I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
7. Courage - I will fear no evil
8. Companionship - Thou art with me
9. Comfort - Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me
10. Sustenance - Thou preparest a table before me
11. Vindication - in the presence of my enemies
12. Blessing - Thou anointest my head with oil
13. Fulness - My cup runneth over
14. Abundant Life- goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life
15. Eternal Security - I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever

As you can see, there is nothing left out. No wonder David said, "I shall not want!" The Lord gives us everything we need when we follow Him as our Shepherd.

"And now may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he who became the great Shepherd of the sheep by an everlasting agreement between God and you, signed with his blood, produce in you through the power of Christ all that is pleasing to him. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20,21).

Culled from Daily Devotions by James Ryle.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ashamed of Jesus?

Jesus said, "Whoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38).

Sometimes following Jesus is not the popular thing to do. Thus, these words strike at the coward that lingers within our hearts during those times when social trends are decidedly anti-christian.
God knows we must be motivated outside ourselves in order to rise above that within us which holds us down — namely, the fear of failure, embarrassment, and rejection. This fear can be defeated by openly embracing Jesus Christ.

Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16).
He wrote his young disciple, Timothy, and encouraged him to take a stand for Jesus. He said, "God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God."(2 Tim 1:7,8).
Our response to Christ's presence and purpose makes Him proud to stand up for us as our God! The writer of Hebrews tells us, "He is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Heb.2:11), and, "God is not ashamed to be called their God" (Heb.11:16).

Turning the pages in an old book, I came upon this wonderful poem by Joseph Grigg entitled Ashamed of Jesus?

Jesus, and shall it ever be, a mortal man ashamed of Thee?
Ashamed of Thee, whom angels praise, Whose glories shine through endless days?
Ashamed of Jesus! Sooner far let evening blush to own a star!
He sheds the beams of light divine O'er this benighted soul of mine.
Ashamed of Jesus! That dear Friend On whom my hopes of heaven depend!
No! When I blush, be this my shame, that I no more revere His name.
Ashamed of Jesus! Yes, I may, when I've no guilt to wash away;
no tear to wipe, no good to crave, no fears to quell, no soul to save.
Till then, nor is my boasting vain, Till then I boast a Savior slain.
And, O, may this my glory be, That Christ is not ashamed of me!

My friends — when darkness increases our lights shines brightest. Do not be ashamed of Jesus under any circumstance. And He will not be ashamed of you!

Culled from Daily Devotions by James Ryle

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Delivered into Delight!

"He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me." (Psalm 18:19, KJV).

The Psalmist is overwhelmed with wonder at not only how the Lord acted on his behalf — but why.
When we read about how the Lord dramatically delivered him from his enemies we are stirred more deeply than any action movie could ever do. For he portrays the Lord as a Mighty Warrior unleashing His dreadful wrath against His enemies —
"Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of His anger. Smoke poured from His nostrils; fierce flames leaped from His mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from Him. He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath His feet. Mounted on a mighty angelic being, He flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. He shrouded Himself in darkness, veiling His approach with dark rain clouds. Thick clouds shielded the brightness around Him and rained down hail and burning coals. The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded amid the hail and burning coals. He shot His arrows and scattered His enemies; His lightning flashed, and they were greatly confused." (Psalm 18:7-14, The Living Translation).
This is HOW the Lord delivered the Psalmist — but here is WHY. "He delivered me because He delighted in me."

Did you know that God loves you so much that when the enemy messes with you to the point that in your distress you cry out to God — He goes on the warpath just for you! He brings you out of the distress into the delight of His presence and shows you the pleasure He has over your life.

Wow. How great is that?

Culled from Daily Devotions by James Ryle.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Enlarged in Distress

"Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress." ~Psalm 4:1(KJV)

The poetry of this verse is too beautiful to overlook. David is deliberately placing two extremes side by side to demonstrate the profound difference that God's power makes in our lives when we call out to Him for mercy.

Distress means "a tight spot." Enlarged means "a spacious place."
From the very moment of our birth we have known that in order to get to a spacious place, we must first pass through a tight spot. Our mother's labor pains pushed us through the distress of delivery and ushered us into the largeness of Life itself.
Is it not the same when we are born again? Wasn't it some pressing weight of sorrow, some overbearing load of guilt and shame, some driving fear, or suffocating loneliness that distressed your soul sufficient enough for you to call upon the Name of the Lord? And didn't He answer in the day of your trouble and deliver you into a large place?
It is a law in the Kingdom of Heaven — God always enlarges us when we are in distress.
Therefore, when God wants to make us larger than we have settled for being, what do you suppose He does? He introduces distress into our comfortable lives, and thereby invites us to ascend to a larger place.

Charles Spurgeon wrote, "I must confess that all the grace I have got out of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have received from my sorrows and pains and griefs is altogether incalculable. What do I not owe to the hammer and the anvil, the fire and the file!"

If you are in a tight spot — God is enlarging you my friend, and the best you can do right now is to thank Him for it.

Culled from Daily Devotions by James Ryle.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Your New Job Description — BLESS!

"This goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that's your job, to bless. You'll be a blessing and also get a blessing." (1 Peter 3:9, The Message).

We have been called to live exemplary lives — the kind that inspire others to do the same. This is our assignment from Jesus. The challenge is that we have been placed in a world filled with un-exemplary conduct.

From Main Street to the Back Streets; from Broadway to the Belt-Way; from Wall Street to the Waysides — name calling, finger pointing, blame-fixing, sass and sarcasm are the standard fare. We are living in a grown up school yard — but no one seems to have grown up.
So the Lord has given us a job.

"BLESS," He says to each one of us, "That's your job — to bless." And then He adds this wonderful promise: "You will BE and blessing, and will also GET a blessing."

Culled from James Ryle’s Daily Devotions.

Monday, October 3, 2011

It’s All Still in There...

“For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn”~(Romans 11:29, NLT)

Today, I want to remind you that you are full of incredible potential. When God created you, He deposited seeds of greatness inside of you. He’s given you your own dreams and desires. You have something to offer that no one else has. But too often, we allow adversities, disappointments and setbacks to push these things down, until one day, we find that we’re not pressing forward anymore. We’re not stretching; we’re not believing to rise any higher.

When adversity comes, it’s easy to think, “Why is this happening to me?” The answer is because the enemy knows what’s on the inside of you. He’s going to do everything he can to keep that seed from taking root. But, he will only be successful if you let him. He can’t stop you unless you quit.

During the difficult times, remember that the gifts and callings God has placed within you are still there. Don’t become stagnate in pursuing your dreams. It’s time to get your fire back! It’s time to press forward. It’s time to dig deep inside and take hold of the marvelous destiny God has prepared for you!

Father, thank You for the gifts and dreams You’ve placed within me. Today, I release my cares and concerns to You. Give me the strength, wisdom and clarity to keep moving forward so I can boldly embrace the good things You have in store for my future in Jesus’ name. Amen.

— Joel & Victoria Osteen

Sunday, October 2, 2011

...And who is my neighbor?

“....Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.” Also, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”~Luke 10:27 (NCV)

A religion scholar once asked Jesus this question: “......who is my neighbor?”~Luke 10:29b (NCV)

Jesus answered by telling a story.

"There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man. "A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man's condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill--I'll pay you on my way back.' "What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?" "The one who treated him kindly," the religion scholar responded. Jesus said, "Go and do the same."~ (Luke 10:30-37 -The Message)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Its not what it looks like...

“...for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength)”(2 Corinthians 12:10, AMP)

No matter what weakness you think you may have, no matter what inadequacies or setbacks you’ve encountered, God wants to give you His divine strength. He wants to make up the difference and put you further ahead than you ever thought possible.

One time in the Old Testament, God simply multiplied the sound of four men’s footsteps and caused them to sound like a mighty army. When their enemies heard them, they took off running. There were thousands of enemy troops running for their lives, scared to death, thinking they were being attacked by a massive army when in fact, it was just four people! What happened? God made up the difference.

Friend, God can make you seem bigger than you really are. He can make you look more powerful. He knows how to multiply your influence, your strength, your talent and your income. Don’t just look at what you have in your hand; look at what Almighty God can do with it! You don’t have to figure it all out. All you have to do is put your trust in Him and let Him work because when you do, He will lead you and guide you into victory all the days of your life!

Heavenly Father, today I commit every area of my life to You. I trust that You are working behind the scenes on my behalf. Use me for Your glory as I put my faith and hope in You in Jesus’ name. Amen.

— Joel & Victoria Osteen

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Psalm 91 Remixed: Word up!

God's glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon. Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening. Their words aren't heard, their voices aren't recorded, But their silence fills the earth: unspoken truth is spoken everywhere. God makes a huge dome for the sun--a superdome!

The morning sun's a new husband leaping from his honeymoon bed, The daybreaking sun an athlete racing to the tape. That's how God's Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset, Melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith.

The revelation of GOD is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of GOD are clear and point out the right road. The life-maps of GOD are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of GOD are plain and easy on the eyes. GOD's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of GOD are accurate down to the nth degree.

God's Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds. You'll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries. There's more: God's Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise how will we find our way? Or know when we play the fool?

Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh! Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work; Then I can start this day sun-washed, scrubbed clean of the grime of sin. These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar.

~(Psalms 19:1-14 MSG)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

When you are mine....

This is what God says to His people:

“Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you. I've called your name. You're mine. When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. When you're in rough waters, you will not go down. When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end -  Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That's how much you mean to me! That's how much I love you! I'd sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.

"So don't be afraid: I'm with you. I'll round up all your scattered children, pull them in from east and west. I'll send orders north and south: 'Send them back. Return my sons from distant lands, my daughters from faraway places. I want them back, every last one who bears my name, every man, woman, and child Whom I created for my glory, yes, personally formed and made each one.'" ~Isaiah 43:1-7 (The Message)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Be full of it...

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full”~(John 15:11, KJV)

Jesus came to give you joy and joy to the full! When your joy is full, it can be seen by others. Joy is supposed to be displayed. As believers, we should have a smile on our face and a spring in our step. We should be kind and friendly. We should be fun to be around. We should be full of His supernatural joy!

Have you allowed the pressures of life to push you down? Have you been more focused on your circumstances than on your God? If you’re not enjoying your life or relationships, it’s time to refocus and tap into the full joy within. It’s time to draw the line in the sand and say, “That’s it. I’m not going to live another day negative, discouraged, sour or grumpy. I’m going to put a smile on my face. I’m going to let my joy be seen so I can brighten somebody else’s day. I’m going to live my life happy and full of joy!”

Friend, when you take that step of faith and choose to trust God with your future, something changes on the inside. Your feelings will soon line up. Your faith will tap into His supernatural joy. And when you tap into joy, you tap into His strength and victory so you can live the full, abundant life He has prepared for you!

Father, thank You for the gift of joy. Thank You for lavishing Your love and grace on me. Fill me with Your power, strength and virtue so that my joy will overflow and be a blessing everywhere I go in Jesus’ name. Amen.

— Joel & Victoria Osteen

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Be Joyful in Hope!

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”~(Romans 12:12, NIV)

God has given you everything you need in order to enjoy your life. Think about that for a minute. What is keeping you from living life to the full? You may not be in the home you want. You may not have the exact job you would like. Maybe you’re single and really want to be married. If you focus on these temporary things, it opens the door to comparison and frustration.

It’s good to have big dreams. It’s good to want to increase. But if you start comparing yourself to others, it opens the door for the enemy to steal your joy. If you don’t learn to be happy where you are, you’ll never get to where you want to be. But if you’ll choose to be happy, refuse self-pity and refuse to complain, then you are sowing good seeds for God to take you where you want to be in your future.

Friend, realize today that God is directing your steps. You have a future and a hope. Take joy in knowing that He is working all things together for your good according to His divine plan. Stay in faith, focus on Him and obey His commands. Soon, you’ll see those new doors open so you can walk boldly into the place of blessing God has in store for you!

Father, today I choose to put my hope and trust in You. I know that You are working all things together for my good. I refuse self-pity. I refuse to compare. I choose joy and the divine plan You have prepared for me in Jesus’ name! Amen.

— Joel & Victoria Osteen

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Step by step in faith...

  “ Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.”~Genesis 6:9

Saying that Noah was "righteous" and "blameless" does not mean that he never sinned. Rather, it means that Noah wholeheartedly loved and obeyed God. For a lifetime he walked step by step in faith as a living example to his generation. Like Noah, we live in a world filled with evil. Are we influencing others or being influenced by them?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Job Well Done...

“And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” ~(Genesis 1:25)

God saw that his work was good. People sometimes feel guilty for having a good time or for feeling good about an accomplishment. This need not be so. Just as God felt good about his work, we can be pleased with ours. However, we should not feel good about our work if God would not be pleased with it. What are you doing that pleases both you and God?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Even when no one is looking...

7 After some time the wife of Joseph’s master began to desire Joseph, and one day she said to him, “Have sexual relations with me.”
8 But Joseph refused and said to her, “My master trusts me with everything in his house. He has put me in charge of everything he owns.

9 There is no one in his house greater than I. He has not kept anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How can I do such an evil thing? It is a sin against God.”

10 The woman talked to Joseph every day, but he refused to have sexual relations with her or even spend time with her. (Genesis 39:7-10 NCV)

The setting of Joseph's story might seem a little foreign to you and me, but there's nothing unfamiliar with the temptation that he was facing. Beyond the watchful eye of anyone who knew him, Joseph had the opportunity to sin. It's likely that no one else would have found out...and yet Joseph knew what was right. And he chose to obey God.

Notice his remarkable reply to Potiphar's wife's solicitation in verse nine: “How can I do such an evil thing? It is a sin against God.” He knew the bottomline: To do the wrong thing was to sin against God. Regardless of whether it was done in secret, regardless of whether the participating adults were both consenting, it wasn't what God wanted.

The Internet, late night cable TV, week-long business trips in distant cities, the check-out aisle at the grocery store...sexual temptation is everywhere. And God's high moral standards, the very standards that Joseph recognized and upheld, haven't changed. You and I need to claim Joseph's perspective on sin and ask God for the strength to make the same right choice.

*Culled from Dad's Bible, by Robert D. Wolgemuth

Monday, September 5, 2011

Being honest with God...

I am worn out from sobbing.
All night I flood my bed with weeping,
drenching it with my tears. (Psalm 6:6 NLT)

Pouring out his heart with tears, David was completely honest with God. We can be honest with God even when we are filled with anger or despair because God knows us thoroughly and wants the very best for us. Anger may result in rash outward acts or turning inward toward depression. But because we trust in our all-powerful God, we don't have to be victims of circumstance or be weighted down by the guilt of sin. Be honest with God, and he will help you turn your attention from yourself to him and his mercy.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Go and Tell....

After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb. Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God's angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn't move.

The angel spoke to the women: "There is nothing to fear here. I know you're looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed.

"Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, 'He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.' That's the message."

The women, deep in wonder and full of joy, lost no time in leaving the tomb. They ran to tell the disciples. Then Jesus met them, stopping them in their tracks. "Good morning!" he said. They fell to their knees, embraced his feet, and worshiped him. Jesus said, "You're holding on to me for dear life! Don't be frightened like that. Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee, and that I'll meet them there."

Matthew 28:1-10 (The Message)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Holy Nation...

"Blessed in the Nation whose God is the Lord" (Psalm 33:12).

There is a Nation in the earth whose geographical boundaries are not charted on any map or model globe; whose government is not recognized in any Congress or House of Parliament; whose flag flies not at the United Nations Building in New York; and whose King is not invited to any Summit Meetings with other Heads of State.

The citizens of this Nation are distinguished from the citizens of all other countries in that they are uniquely related to one another as brothers and sisters; it is a Tribal Nation. It has the finest educational system in the earth, affording each of its citizens such opportunities of learning that even the most simple of its students excel in wisdom the chief scholars of others countries. Its military is second to none, by far surpassing all others in superiority of weaponry, of intelligence, of strategy, and in its vision of conquest. For it seeks not its own, but the peace, liberty and welfare of all other nations; and it so fights against their unseen enemies so as to secure it for them without charge! Its soldiers are the finest and most valiant of warriors, each one more than a conqueror; indeed, during battle, one puts a thousand of the enemy to flight.

This Nation has an economic structure unmatched by any. The combined resources total in the hundreds of billions of dollars. There is no need to balance the budget, for there is no National debt. There are no taxes imposed upon the people, for there is no need. Every one gives freely of his substance to help maintain the cost of government. Its political structure is unique in all the history of governed nations. It has a King, who is dearly loved and personally known by every single citizen. He is just in all His rulings, loving in all His ways, and right in all His affairs. There are no votes taken, for there are no disagreements to settle; every man sees eye to eye, all stand firm in one spirit and one mind.

Socially, this Nation enjoys the peace known by no other country, yet coveted by all. It has no prisons, for there are no criminals; the only news is good news. Purity of conduct is a highly cherished virtue; honesty in all things, a top priority; love and compassion, a common concern; kindness and helpfulness, an open and constant exchange participated in by all.

This Nation is the wealthiest, healthiest, happiest, wisest, most peaceful, strongest, and securest Nation in all the history of the world, and it shall abide as such forevermore! It is the Holy Nation; it is the Kingdom of God; it is Society as God planned it to be all along — it is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. And you are welcomed in its warm embrace.

Culled from Rylisms by James Ryle.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Choice of a Life-Work...

“Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 1Kings 3:7-9 NIV.

WE SHALL never rightly choose our life-course until we are determined to put first things first. Wealth, honour, fame, the surpassing of our rivals, are not the chief things to be considered, or our judgment will be impaired and our vision distorted. It was because Solomon desired and sought the kingdom and glory of God, that He gave him also the things for which he did not ask (1Kings 3:13; Matthew 6:33).

Impressed by the greatness of his responsibilities, the young king had gone to Gibeon to worship God. He wished to fulfil his opportunities to their highest measure, and to serve his fatherland, but he realized his inefficiency. Do you feel like this? You realize the wonderful opportunities and responsibilities of life in this marvellous age, and long to be of service to God and your fellows, but what can you do? You are but as a little child, and "know not how to go out or come in." "Going out" stands for the active life in the world of men; "coming in" for the hours spent in the home, in recreation and society. It is like the systole and diastole of the heart's action, which should be alike consecrated to God and of service to man.

Solomon asked for an understanding heart, that he might discern between good and bad. We all need this faculty, that we may discriminate between things that look very much alike, but are different in nature and direction (Hebrews 5:14; Philippians 1:9-10). It is not an enduement of intellectual power, but of moral taste and discernment. It has been said, that the difficulty in life is not to discriminate between white and black, but to choose between the different shades of grey. In our fellowships, recreations, literature, business--we are in urgent need of the understanding heart, which listens for and heeds the voice of God.

Solomon offered a thousand burnt-offerings upon the altar (1Kings 3:4). We are required to present our bodies as living sacrifices unto God, which is our reasonable service. Our career is often determined by our circumstances, or by our special gifts and talents, and, on the whole, we succeed best in doing what we like best. But if we yield ourselves to do God's will, He will direct our paths.

O God, make us diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. May we prove all things, and hold fast to that which is good. AMEN.

Culled from Rick Meyers Daily Devotional.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Headlines in Heaven...

"Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!" (Matthew 3:2)

After 400 years of silence from Heaven, a man is sent from God with a message. His name was John, and they called him the Baptizer. His message was singular — "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!" Thus does the New Testament begin.

These words were not spoken with a snarl, like we see on many tired and angry pulpit faces these days. No! John's message was filled with hope and wonder. When he said the word repent, it was not a rebuke — but an invitation. An invitation extended from God Himself, offering His fallen and captive sons and daughters a way out of the darkness.

The word means "to change." It signifies the turning from one thing, and unto another. In this case, it is the turning away from the bondage of sin unto the liberty of Christ's kingdom. Thus John says, "for the Kingdom of God is at hand!"

In other words — you can turn from sin to God because His ruling authority has now over-ruled all other claims to your soul. There is no title, nor deed, nor any papers of authorization clutched in greedy hands, that surpass the unyielding power of the Lord's decree that you be free. And free you are, despite all lies to the contrary. Now, you may indeed not be walking in your freedom ; but that does not mean it is not yours. It just means you need to repent — you need to change. You can now because the power of God is present to help you.

As Light is immeasurably greater than darkness, so is Jesus far greater than the prince of darkness. And His Kingdom is superior in every way to the kingdom of darkness. There is no law from that dark world that can now do anything but wither like a weed in the blaze of Christ's royal ruling power. All satanic decrees have now been overruled, and all tried cases have been overturned. The captives have been released from the dungeons of doom, and restored to their better estates.

And this made the Headlines in Heaven.

Now then, what will you do today on Earth? What good turn can you make that demonstrates the present power of Christ's rule in your heart. What stand can you take that shows openly the defeat of the devil, and the withering weakness of his wicked kingdom. Oh, prove it to a watching world that the Kingdom of God is at hand!

And your life will also make the Headlines in Heaven!

Culled from James Ryle's Daily Devotion.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Titanic Decision...

"God is not willing that any should perish..." (1 Peter 3:9)

The RMS Titanic, that ill-fated luxury liner now known all over the world, had a passenger list of some of the world's richest and most influential people. It also carried on board a host of middle class, and blue collar workers.

Its full compliment of travelers ranged from the very rich, to the very poor; very successful men (and their doting women), along with those who were struggling just to make ends meet. There were those who were highly educated and well traveled, alongside those who had no education to speak of, and for whom The Titanic voyage would be their first....and last trip.

The Great Ship was supposedly unsinkable, yet she went down in the icy waters of the North Atlantic on her maiden voyage in the early morning of April 15, 1912.

Over 1500 perished at sea; there were fewer than half as many survivors. Despite all the aforementioned things that distinguished this vast group of people from one another, at shore their names were posted in two simple and unmistakable columns – SAVED and LOST. In the end that was the only difference that truly mattered.

This planet Earth, a Great Titan on its maiden voyage among the stars of God's heaven, is itself on a collision course with a great and dreadful Day of Judgment. Though many scoff at the thought, the unthinkable will happen – the unsinkable will sink.

And on that final Day when the names are posted on the shores of God's heaven, we will not be listed according to our wealth, status, fame, achievements, religious affiliation or ethnicity. No. There will be but two columns of names recorded in sobering finality – SAVED and LOST. On which list, my friend, will your name appear?

You are faced with a titanic decision. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved. This means you. Even now, if you will call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, He will save you — and secure you in His strong and loving arms, both now and forever.

Oh, why not take this decision today my dear reader and friend — an iceberg approaches, and your Saviour stands at shore, waiting to record your name in the Book of Life.

Culled from James Ryle's Daily Devotion.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Genuine Lightbulb Moment...

"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." ~~~1 John 4:8 (NIV)

The Bible tells us God is love. The Bible also tells us that love is patient. Doesn't it stand to reason, therefore, that God is patient? Of course! With this thought in mind, I believe that when the Apostle Paul wrote 1st Corinthians 13, he was not attempting to give us a definition of Love; rather, he was in fact giving us an inspired description of God Himself!

The following is my paraphrase of that most famous passage of Scripture, inserting God in the place of the word love. Brace yourself — this is a genuine lightbulb moment. You are about to see what God is really like.

"God is always patient; He waits, and waits, and waits; and does not grow anxious or hurried. God is always gracious and kind. Always. God does not behave indecently, or inappropriately. There is nothing He would ever say or do, that would intentionally embarrass or humiliate us. Never.

God is never envious, insolent, or rude. He is not sarcastic in His speech, cutting in His wit, nor condemning in His tone. God is not puffed up, nor conceited. He does not cherish inflated ideas of His own importance. He does not walk about heaven staring at Himself in mirrors.

God does not behave in an unseemly manner in any situation, or towards anybody. He is never vulgar nor haughty. God does not pursue His own things; He does not seek, nor demand His own way. God is not irritable or touchy. He is not easily annoyed, nor quickly provoked. He is not resentful. God hardly notices when He is wronged, and doesn't even take it much into account when it occurs. He certainly does not keep a personal record of petty offenses; a scorecard of all the times others have tried to tick Him off.

God does not impute evil on anybody. He doesn't even think evil; such things do not enter His mind. God is never glad with sin, but always glad to side with truth. He is never glad about injustice of any kind, and He sings the loudest whenever the truth wins.

God quietly covers all things that could otherwise bring shame and dishonor to your life, and He graciously bears you up under everything that tries to put you down. God believes the best about you at all times and in all things, and He will never give up on you. Never.

His hope is unlimited, His love is unfailing, His commitment is unflagging, and His power is unending — no matter what the circumstances of your life may be, you will find Him there at your side...and on your side.

He will always stand His ground defending you, no matter what it cost Him. Dear friend, God loves you. He not only loves you in what you are facing, but He will also love you through it. And in the end, you will love Him for it." (from I Corinthians 13:4-6)

Do you hear that popping sound? It's light bulbs going on all around the world!

Culled from James Ryle’s Daily Devotion.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pressing On the Upward Way....

"I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philipians 3:14).

Notice the cooperative partnership in the above verse of scripture — God calls us upward, and we press toward the goal. Both are necessary. If God calls, but no one answers – nothing happens. If man presses, but God's not with him – nothing happens. Nothing good, anyway.

Have you ever taken a volley ball into a swimming pool, pushed it down into the water, and then tried to balance yourself by standing on it? Did you notice that the deeper you pushed the ball into the water, the greater the force it exerted to rise back up to the top? The air inside the ball belongs with the air above the water, and it will press upward to return back to where it belongs. That's the way it is with us as followers of Jesus. There is something inside us that urges us to the summit; it's the upward call.
unfortunately some merely drift along, hoping for a break here or there. But in Life, as in nature, nothing ever drifts upstream. Left to ourselves we will not rise, but retreat. However, God does not leave us to ourselves; He calls us upward. Something deep inside us is hooked to heaven; there's a pull on our hearts which lifts us towards the higher way.

As the old hymn says, "I'm pressing on the upward way; new heights I'm gaining everyday. Still, praying as I onward bound, 'Lord, plant my feet on higher ground!’”

When you hear God calling, press upward. One day heaven will be your home.

Adapted from James Ryle's Daily Devotions.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Power of Partnership (Part 1)

“It's better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth.” ~~~(Ecclesiastes 4:9- The Message)


It is often the single most determining factor in the difference between success and failure.

Jesus illustrated the power of partnership when He "called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits" (Mark.6:7). The Lord understands our need for support, and the inherent difficulties and dangers of being alone in ministry.

In the beginning God said, "It is not good for man to be alone." It is true to this day. In order to have any lasting effectiveness in countering the works of darkness with the power of truth and light we must not only be called by Christ, but also sent forth in partnership with others to do His will.

Solomon wrote, “It's better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, But if there's no one to help, tough! Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you're unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn't easily snapped.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 –The Message).

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego proved the power of partnership when they withstood the threats of Nebuchadnezzar and survived the fiery furnace of Babylon. Eleazar, the son of Dodo, proved the power of partnership when he stood with David and the two defeated an entire Philistine army.

The idea of partnership is championed throughout Scripture. Moses had Aaron, and then Joshua. Joshua had Caleb. Ruth had Naomi; Esther had Mordecai; Aquila had Pricilla; Paul had Barnabas; and James had John.

You see, it takes teamwork to make the dream work.

Culled from James Ryle’s Daily Devotion.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Experience the Power of 1...

"May they all be one, just as You, Father; are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so that the world may believe You sent Me. I have given them the glory that You have given to Me. May they be one just as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so that the world may know You sent Me and that You have loved them just as You loved Me." ~~~John 17: 21-23

Thursday, February 10, 2011

“I Know How to Abound.”

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound. In everything and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (Philippians 4:12 NKJV)

There are many who know “how to be abased” who have not learned “how to abound.” When they are set upon the top of a pinnacle of success their heads grow dizzy, and they are ready to fall. The Christian oftentimes disgraces his profession in prosperity than in adversity. It could be a “dangerous” thing to be prosperous. The crucible of adversity is a less severe trial to the Christian than the refining pot of prosperity.

Oh, what leanness of soul and neglect of spiritual things have been brought on through the very mercies and bounties of God! Yet this is not a matter of necessity, for the apostle tells us that he knew how to abound. When he had much he knew how to use it. Abundant grace enabled him to bear abundant prosperity. When he had a full sail he was loaded with much ballast, and so floated safely. It needs more than human skill to carry the brimming cup of mortal joy with a steady hand, yet Paul had learned that skill, for he declares, “In all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry.” It is a divine lesson to know how to be full, for the Israelites were full once, but while the flesh was yet in their mouth, the wrath of God came upon them. Many have asked for mercies that they might satisfy their own hearts’ lust.

Fullness of bread has often made fullness of blood, and that has brought on wantonness of spirit. When we have much of God’s providential mercies, it often happens that we have but little of God’s grace, and little gratitude for the bounties we have received. We are full and we forget God: satisfied with earth, we are content to do without heaven. Rest assured it is harder to know how to be full than it is to know how to be hungry-so desperate is the tendency of human nature to pride and forgetfulness of God. Take care that you ask in your prayers that God would teach you “how to be full.”

“Let not the gifts thy love bestows

Estrange our hearts from thee.”

*Culled from Charles Spurgeon’s Notes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Shock! The Bible says: “There is no God.”

Yes, it is true. The sentence “There is no God” appears in the Bible. In fact, the words appear twice. They can be found in Psalms 14:1 and Psalms 53:1.

But (and this is a very big ‘but’), look up these verses and you will find that the complete text reads: ‘The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”’

In other words, it is vital to read Bible verses in context.

When someone quotes a Scripture, the first check as to whether they are using it correctly is to read the immediate context – that is, the words preceding and the words following – and then examine the wider context, asking questions such as: Who was speaking, and to whom, and why? Was God pointing to a truth that would be fulfilled later? And the questions don’t end there.

Scripture deals with matters that affect people’s eternal destiny. It is important to handle the Word of God correctly – 2 Timothy 2:15.

The devil can, and does, quote Scripture.

Matthew 4:5-7 records that the devil tempted Jesus by quoting Scripture. Jesus answered through His knowledge of Scripture, using it correctly and in context. Accurate Bible knowledge was Jesus’ defence.

It is your protection too.

The devil has no need to deceive non-believers by quoting the Bible.

No, the devil sets out to deceive believers by attempting to distort the meaning of Scripture. The attacks are subtle. They come in an unexpected way. They come in a way that appeals to pride and self-interest.

You have powerful protection when you know the Bible, when you know the whole counsel of God. Sad to say, most Christians do not know the Bible. They have heard many sermons. They know certain Bible passages and the doctrines of their denomination. But, frequently, there are gaps in their knowledge.

An important question to ask therefore, is: Does it matter? Does it matter whether you have correct doctrines or not? And, if it does matter, what should Christians do to complete their spiritual protection?

Jesus had a public ministry that lasted about three and a half years, from the age of about 30, until His death and resurrection. What did He do, in His humanity, in the years leading up to the life and sacrifice that is recorded in the gospels?

The answer is: He lived a quiet life, barely noticed by anyone. He worked with His hands. And He studied the Scriptures.

Culled in part from: