DEVOTIONALS

PRACTICE HUMILITY

The Bible says: “Clothe yourselves with humility…for God is opposed of the proud, but gives grace to the humble…humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (vv. 5-7 NAS). Let’s break this Scripture down into four parts: (1) “Clothe yourselves with humility.” In this context, the word clothe refers to a white scarf or apron that was typically worn by servants. Does that mean you have to conform to everybody’s wishes? No; if you do that everybody else may like you but you won’t like yourself. Just be who God called you to be, and be willing to serve others as the opportunity arises. (2) “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less and putting others” symbolizes two things: God’s hand of discipline and His hand of deliverance, and you need both. So submit to His discipline and you’ll experience His deliverance. (4) “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Here Peter addresses one of our core human concerns: that if we don’t look out for ourselves, nobody else will. But if we really believe God “cares” for us we needn’t worry about serving our own interest. We’re free to focus on the needs of others, confident that God will spare nothing when it comes to meeting our needs.

HAVBD

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DEVOTIONALS

SMALL THINGS MATTER

hen God gave Gideon victory over the Midianites, He used an army of just three hundred to defeat an enemy that was hundreds of thousands strong (See Jdg 7). That wasn’t because there weren’t more soldiers available; it was because God wanted to demonstrate His power in “the day of small things.” Jesus could have chosen any number of followers, but He handpicked twelve to reach the world with the gospel. One day He fed five thousand people with five bread rolls and two small fish from a child’s lunchbox. He compared God’s kingdom to a mustard seed – the smallest there is, yet it grows into a massive tree. He also likened His kingdom to yeast that’s barely discernible, yet it can raise an entire batch of dough. Then He went on to say, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Lk 16:10 NIV). So if you’re asking God to make you bigger instead of better, you may be disappointed. All the prayers in the world won’t pressure Him into giving you what you are not ready to handle. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Most people would succeed in small things if they weren’t troubled with blind ambition.” Your drive to be bigger can give you ulcers, keep you awake at night, and stop you from enjoying the blessings God has already given you. Better may be harder to measure and not as glamorous, but the inner stability that comes from gradual success is more valuable and lasting. So if you’re “in the day of small things,” rejoice and be confident that God has bigger and better things in mind for you. HAVBD

DEVOTIONALS

USE YOUR COMMON SENSE

The key to success lies in doing the right thing at the right time. Theologian Tryon Edwards said, “Have a time and place for everything, and do everything in its time and place….you’ll not only accomplish more, but have far more leisure than those who are always hurrying.” If you’re tired of living with constant stress, Theology professor Dr. Howard Hendricks draws our attention to four major sources: (1) Saying yes to far too many things. Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer once said, “Much of our spiritual activity is little more than a cheap anesthetic to deaden the pain of an empty life.” All our “going and doing” fails to address our core emptiness. (2) Not stopping to recharge our batteries. We dutifully pull out our day planner and fill the spaces between activities. But let’s not fool ourselves; avoiding overlapping activities isn’t planning. As a result, we’re a stressed-out, short-tempered crowd, commuting between poorly planned activities that add little to our spiritual well-being. (3) Failure to enjoy what we accomplish. “A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul” (Pr 13::19 NKJV). With always too much to do, we dash off to the next obligation, often without finishing the previous one or taking time to stand back and savor a job well done. No wonder we worry that our existence seems meaningless. (4) Owning more than we can repay. Next time you’re faced with a credit purchase – wait! Don’t necessarily say no. Just present your so-called “need” to God and see what He says about it. If you’re serious about developing your spiritual life, use your common sense and put these four principles to work. HAVBD

DEVOTIONALS

CONFESSIONS OF A SECRET SINNER (5)

CONFESSIONS OF A SECRET SINNER (5)

Pastor and author John MacAuthur says: “Jesus’ exposition of the law is a devastating blow  against the lie that image is everything.  Secret sin is especially abhorrent because: (1) God sees the heart.  In fact,, if we realized He’s the only audience we’d be less inclined to write it off.  It’s folly to mitigate sin by keeping it private…it’s double-folly to think you’re better than others because you sin privately…and it’s the height of folly to conceal it.  ‘He who covers his sin will not prosper’ (Pr 28:13 NKJV).  (2) sinful thoughts originate from the same source as sinful deeds.  When Jesus said hatred carries the same guilt as murder, and that lust is the essence of adultery, He wasn’t saying there’s no difference in degree…He was saying that a lustful person has no right to feel superior to a fornicator.  The fact that somebody thinks such thoughts proves they’re capable of immoral acts, and someone who hates his brother already has murder lurking in his heart.  (3) Hypocrisy compounds hidden sin.  Why?  Because it means covering it up.  Jesus called hypocrisy ‘the leaven of the Pharisees’ (Lk 12:1) because it compounds itself like leaven.  It sears your conscience and paves the way for other character-damaging sins…When somebody tries to tell you appearances are everything – don’t buy it!  Your secret life is a litmus test of your character: ‘As he thinks within himself, so he is’ (Pr 23:7 NAS).  If you want to know who you really are, look at your private life.  Then gaze into the mirror of God’s Word and let Him disclose and correct the thoughts and intents of your heart.”

 

HAVBE

 

DEVOTIONALS

CONFESSIONS OF A SECRET SINNER (4)

CONFESSIONS OF A SECRET SINNER (4)

David said, “I confessed all my sins to you….And you forgave me!  All my guilt is gone.”  Julie Ann Barnhill writes: “If you’re tired of pretending you have it all together, it’s time to act.  For too long Christian women in particular have believed they’re the only ones dealing with shameful issues, agonizing regrets, and skeletons in their closet.  Once we open up to God, ourselves, and others, we experience exhilarating freedom and peace.  A woman wrote to me: ‘I had an abortion when I was eighteen.  Nobody knows.  For years I marked the date on my calendar and grieved for the child nobody knew about, and the young woman who bore the guilt alone.  No more!  Now I know I’m not alone, and for the first time in my life I truly believe God is bigger than my secret – and He’s willing to forgive.’  Secrets only hold power when they’re hidden.  Once they’re revealed in the light of God’s love they lose their control.  However, there are some things to consider before opening up to someone: (1) If that person repeats things others have shared in confidence, guess who’s up next for discussion?  (2) Beware of someone who’s appt to offer unsolicited advice, then take offense when it’s ignored.  (3) Stay away from somebody who tries to ‘fix’ you, and tells you not to worry about your secrets.  Instead, look for someone who: (a) has good sense and knows when to ‘back off’ and/or move forward when you’re upset; (b) is up-front about their own struggles; (c) is quick to listen and slow to speak; (d) undergirds their words and counsel with scriptural truths.”

 

HAVBD

 

DEVOTIONALS

BE A SHAMGAR (3)

BE A SHAMGAR (3)

 

If Shamgar had focused on the fact that he was going up against six hundred Philistines, he would have probably have given up before he even started.  Understand this: Satan will try to discourage and defeat you by making you feel overwhelmed by the problem.  That’s when you need to counterpunch, by breaking down your goals into smaller steps.  You may not be able to overcome your addiction, anxiety, or anorexia for the rest of your life, but with God’s help you can win the battle today.  Don’t worry about next week or next year.  Live in day-tight compartments.  Can you resist temptation for twenty-four hours?  Can you win the battle for one day?  You know you can.  And so does the Enemy.  So take it one day at a time.  We spend far too much energy focusing on the very thing we can’t control – the outcome.  You say, “What if I fall back into my bad habit?  What if my romantic efforts aren’t reciprocated?  What if I don’t hit my target weight or get my dream job?”  Jesus said, “Don’t be anxious about tomorrow.  God will take care of your tomorrow too.  Live one day at a time” (Mt 6:34 TLB).  The manna the Israelites received in the wilderness arrived daily, not weekly or monthly.  Why?  Because God wanted them to live in total dependence on Him.  God’s grace, not your own works, is the key to victory.  The word for you today is: “His compassion never ends.  It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction.  Great is His faithfulness; his lovingkindness begins afresh each day….therefore I will hope in Him” (La 3:22-24 TLB).

 

HAVBD

DEVOTIONALS

BE A SHAMGAR (2)

BE A SHAMGAR (2)

When Shamgar picked up his oxgoad and slew six hundred Philistines, he made a decision that if he was going to go down, he was going to go down fighting (See Jdg 3:31).  And that’s the key to deliverance, whether it’s from the Philistines, or pride, or prejudice, or pornography, or any other stubborn problem in your life.  You’ve got to go on the offensive.  There comes a point when you say, “Enough is enough.”  You know you cannot continue down the path you are on because it’s a dead end relationally, physically, or spiritually.  It may not kill you, but it will eat you alive.  You know you cannot keep doing what you’ve always done.  Not if you want to get into shape, or get out of debt.  Not if you want to recapture the romance, or reach the goal.  Not if you want to leave a legacy worth living up to.  And the good news is this: You are only one decision away from a totally different life.  But you’ve got to grab your oxgoad and go for it.  Cut up that credit card.  Apply for the graduate program.  Take the mission trip.  Set up the counseling appointment.  William A. Lawrence wrote, “On the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to wait, and waiting – died!”  Stop being a procrastinator.  Stop being a perfectionist.  Spiritual growth is about progress, not perfection.  When it comes to going after your goals, your greatest adversary is inertia.  We have a tendency to keep doing what we’ve always done, hoping that somehow things will change.  They won’t, so be a Shamgar and take action!

 

HAVBD

DEVOTIONALS

BE A SHAMGAR (1)

BE A SHAMGAR 1

Shamgar is only mentioned twice in Scripture, and his story takes up three lines and two verses.  But his impact was amazing.  And it’s a challenge to all those who think, “God would never use someone like me.”  He may have been the least qualified person to deliver Israel from the Philistines.  For starters, he likely wasn’t even an Israelite.  His name is Hurrian in the original.  He could have rationalized inaction in a dozen different ways.  “I don’t have the right weapon.  I can’t do this by myself.  These aren’t even my people.”  If you look for an excuse you’ll find one.  If you don’t, you won’t.  When it comes to making excuses, we are infinitely creative.  What if we channeled that creativity into finding solutions instead of finding excuses?  If we did, God could use us as an instrument to fulfill His purposes just as He used Shamgar.  When God stirs your spirit or moves your heart, you cannot sit back, you’ve got to step up and step in.  And when you do, it can become a defining moment in your life.  Don’t worry about the results.  If it’s the right thing, the results are God’s responsibility.  Focus on doing the right things for the right reason, and don’t buy into the lie that it can’t be done!  Yes, it will take all-out effort, but you can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives you strength (See Php 4:13).  A failed attempt is not failing.  Failing is not trying.  If you are trying, in God’s eyes you are succeeding.  So grab your oxgoad – and go for it.

 

HAVBD

DEVOTIONALS

ONCE AND FOR ALL

ONCE AND FOR ALL

There were many pieces of furniture in the tabernacle, and each served a different purpose. But there wasn’t a single seat. Do you know why? Because the priest’s work was never finished! The people sinned constantly, so lambs had to be constantly sacrificed to atone for their sins. However, when Jesus died, rose again and went back to heaven, the first thing He did was sit down (See Heb 10:12). That’s because the work of salvation was finished! The Bible says: “Christ did not have to offer himself many times. He wasn’t like a high priest who goes into the most holy place each year to offer the blood of an animal….instead…he offered himself once and for all, so that he could be a sacrifice that does away with sin” (Heb 9:25-26 CEV). And because of Christ’s “once and for all” sacrifice on the cross, you have direct access to God at any time. The moment you say, “Father, I come in the name of Jesus,” you’re made welcome and all your needs are met. There’s a story from Civil War days about a soldier sitting on a bench outside the White House looking depressed. A little boy was passing by and stopped and asked what was wrong. The soldier told him he needed to see President Lincoln but the guard wouldn’t let him in. Hearing this, the boy took him by the hand and led him directly into the President’s office. “Father,” he said, “this man really needs to speak with you.” That boy was the president’s son; he had direct and continuous access to his father. And because you belong to Jesus, you do too!

 

HAVBD

DEVOTIONALS

KEEP PRAYING!

KEEP PRAYING

In 1964, Communist Simba rebels besiege the town of Bunia in Zaire. They arrested and executed many citizens. A pastor by the name of Zebedayo Idu was one of their victims. They sentenced him to death by a firing squad and placed him in jail for the night. The next morning he and a large number of prisoners were herded onto a truck and driven to a public place for execution. With no explanation, the official told the prisoners to “line up and number off – one, two, one, two one, two.” The “ones” were placed in front of the firing squad, and the “twos” were taken back to the prison. Pastor Idu was among those who were spared. Back in their jail cells, the prisoners could hear the sound of gunfire. The pastor took advantage of the dramatic moment to share the story of Jesus and the hope of heaven. Eight of the prisoners gave their lives to Christ that day. About the time pastor Idu finished sharing, an excited messenger came to the door with a release order. The pastor had been arrested by mistake and was free to leave. He said goodbye to the prisoners and hurried to his home next to the chapel. There he discovered a crowd of believers who were praying for his release. When they saw the answer to their prayers walk through the door, their prayer service turned into a praise service. The same God who heard the prayers of the New Testament church in Jerusalem and saved Peter from execution, heard prayers from Zaire and delivered their pastor (See Ac 12:5). And God is still listening, so keep praying!

 

HAVBD