Devotionals

5 KEYS FOR YOUR 2016 SPIRITUAL TRAVEL GUIDE

I wanted to write a ‘Facing the New Year’ post to focus myself on the main things, but I came across this piece by Dr. David Allen which I don’t think I could improve upon.  Hope it blesses you.  Happy New Year!

 

Two things are important when you take a trip: transportation and discrimination. You must know how you are going to get there and you must determine what to take with you. If you want to ruin your trip, take too much luggage.

It is the same in your Christian life. Knowing what to take and what to leave behind is the critical issue. The Christian life is a journey. We are pilgrims just passing through. Travel light.

Some Christians have accumulated lots of stuff over the years. Spiritual pack rats they are. With every passing year, their spiritual luggage gets more cumbersome. Time to unpack that luggage and throw out the things you don’t need.

Backpacks of bitterness. Handbags of hurt feelings. Suitcases of self-pity. Trunks full of anger, fear, unforgiveness, and other assorted burdens and sins.

Philippians 3:12-16 is Paul’s travel guide for your Christian life and he lists five key points you need to know to travel light.

  • Develop a healthy DISSATISFACTION with where you are spiritually. (12)

Notice I said a “healthy dissatisfaction,” not a paranoid or morbid dissatisfaction. Picture a scale of spiritual maturity from 1 to 10 with 1 being very immature and 10 being sinless perfection. How would you rate your spiritual maturity? Are you a 3? A 6? Wherever you are, don’t be content to remain there in 2016. Don’t be addicted to spiritual mediocrity. If you are a 3, move to 4. If you are a 6, move to 7.

  • Develop a single-minded DEVOTION. (13)

Paul says, “one thing I do.” Jesus said to the rich young ruler: “one thing you lack.” He said to Martha, “one thing is important….”

One thing. Not two things or ten things, but one thing. The one thing that is the main thing in your life is being like Jesus; a mature disciple in Christ.

A laser is focused light. It can cut through wood or metal. When you get focused you will learn how to travel light.

  • Develop a dogged DETERMINATION to be like Christ! (14)

This is the content of Paul’s “one thing”: “I Press toward the goal of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Picture of the runner whose eyes are fixed on the goal. With every effort of physical and mental exertion, he “presses” for the goal. Our goal is Christlikeness.

In order to press toward this goal, Paul lists two absolutely necessary things you must do.

First, discard all DISTRACTIONS. (13b) “Forgetting the things that are behind.” You cannot erase the memory of the past, but you can live in the present no longer influenced by the past. Two things distract us: past failures and past successes. You can depend on neither for today’s Christlikeness. Get a spiritual waste basket and chunk those past failures in it. You break the power of the past by living for the future.

Second, develop DILIGENCE. (13c) “Reaching forth to the things ahead.” The best picture I know of this word “reaching” is a football receiver sprinting down field. The ball is in the air and is arcing down in front of him just short of the goal line. An ordinary reach will not do. So the receiver, taking no thought for his body, leaves his feet, stretches out his body until he is parallel with the turf, extends his arms to the limit . . . and comes down with the ball in hand over the goal line for a touchdown.

  • Develop spiritual DISCERNMENT. (15)

“. . . and if any of you on some point think differently, God will reveal this to you.” Discernment comes through knowledge of the Scriptures, prayer, and a lifetime of walking with God.

  • Develop spiritual DISCIPLINE. (16)

“Let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” The Bible is filled with people who began well, but ended poorly: Lot, Samson, Saul . . . . Why? They lacked spiritual discipline. They disregarded the rules.

August 7, 1954. The Empire Games in Vancouver, B.C. The mile race. Roger Banister and John Landy, the two fastest men in the world in the mile run, were competing against each other for the first time. Each had broken the four-minute mile earlier in the year. Landy’s strategy was to get the lead and never relinquish it. Bannister’s strategy was to allow Landy to be just ahead through the first 3 laps, then in lap 4, kick in and pass him.

Bannister was surprised at the strength and stamina of Landy. After lap 3, Landy was pulling away. Bannister moved it up a notch and began to gain ground. Around the last turn, on the last straightway, Landy was in the lead. He did not know exactly how far behind Bannister was because he could no longer hear footsteps due to the deafening roar of the crowd. With less than 90 yards to go, Landy suddenly turned to look over his left shoulder. At that instant Bannister was on Landy’s right shoulder and as soon as Landy looked back, Bannister kicked in, streaked by him, and won the race in the last 20 steps.

Travel Light! And don’t look back!

 

The Maxims of Leonard Ravenhill

http://www.scrollpublishing.com/store/Ravenhill.html

The link above is to David Bercot’s short Bio of the Evangelist Leonard Ravenhill.  We have been reading his book Why Revival Tarries at our midweek study.  Though somewhat dated and not always in line with my own theology, this work always stirs up my spiritual torpor and makes me feel uncomfortable.  I need that!

Ravenhill lived in Lindale, TX in the last years of his life.  Once a month I take a Bible Study in nearby Mineola, and have to pass through Lindale on the way.    I often think about him when I drive through that little town, as I did this past Tuesday.  Anyway, I thought I would reproduce Bercot’s list of memorable sayings of this man of God.  They are as direct as they are edifying.

He writes,

One of Leonard’s gifts was his ability to spontaneously create insightful spiritual maxims as he spoke. These were short, memorable observations about God, the church, and the world. I always took a notebook with me to these meetings to write down some of his observations and maxims. Here are some of Leonard’s spiritual insights from those meetings:

“A popular evangelist reaches your emotions. A true prophet reaches your conscience.”

“The last words of Jesus to the church (in Revelation) were ‘Repent!’”

“A true shepherd leads the way. He does not merely point the way.”

“You never have to advertise a fire. Everyone comes running when there’s a fire. Likewise, if your church is on fire, you will not have to advertise it. The community will already know it.”

“Your doctrine can be as straight as a gun barrel—and just as empty!”

“John the Baptist never performed any miracles. Yet, he was greater than any of the Old Testament prophets.”

“I doubt that more than two percent of professing Christians in the United States are truly born again.”

“Our God is a consuming fire. He consumes pride, lust, materialism, and other sin.”

“There are only two kinds of persons: those dead in sin and those dead to sin.”

[Concerning the darkness that has enveloped most of Christendom:] “When you’re sitting in a dark room, you can either sit and curse the darkness—or you can light a candle.”

“Children can tell you what Channel 7 says, but not what Matthew 7 says.”

“Some women will spend thirty minutes to an hour preparing for church externally (putting on special clothes and makeup, etc.). What would happen if we all spent the same amount of time preparing internally for church—with prayer and meditation?”

“Maturity comes from obedience, not necessarily from age.”

“What good does it do to speak in tongues on Sunday if you have been using your tongue during the week to curse and gossip?”

“Would we send our daughters off to have sex if it would benefit our country? Yet, we send our sons off to kill when we think it would benefit our country!”

“The only time you can really say that ‘Christ is all I need,’ is when Christ is all you have.”

“The Bible is either absolute, or it’s obsolete.”

“Why do we expect to be better treated in this world than Jesus was?”

“Today’s church wants to be raptured from responsibility.”

“Testimonies are wonderful. But, so often our lives don’t fit our testimonies.”

[Concerning one of the new “movements” in the church that was causing a stir among Christians:] “There’s also a stir when the circus comes to town.”

“My main ambition in life is to be on the Devil’s most wanted list.” (more…)

Real Spirituality: What Does The Incarnation Teach Us?

Our world is certainly troubled.  There is so much hostility, so much greed, so much unfairness.  For many people today, the way through the hardness of day to day life is through “spirituality.”  Indeed, “spirituality” is on the rise in our society.  Whatever the growling New Atheists say, it is a fact that the majority of people yearn to find some sense of meaning in a form of spirituality.

Even Christians may have leanings this way too.  For example, in taking my students through the first era of Church History I have had cause on several occasions to call to their attention that practically all of the so-called great leaders in the early Church for the first five centuries were ascetics.  That is, they believed in celibacy and simple diet and longed for solitude.  Well, which of these is spirituality?  Are any of them “spiritual” per se?  I don’t think so. (more…)

I waited patiently for the Lord…

I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me,
and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible
pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and
established my steps.” – Psalm 40: 1-2.

It is so hard to wait on the Lord. Especially when one is in trouble or hurting and there just isn’t anyone else who can help. Truthfully, that is not a bad place to be in, since our natural propensity is to lean on God very half-heartedly most of the time. If we want a good spiritual road check I suggest that all we do is to realize how quickly and easily we slip back into the driver’s seat of our lives whenever we think that things are within our own control. Limited dependence on God is the Christian’s default position and the cause of many of his troubles. What God wants from us; what He has always wanted from men and women is total dependence. This is one of the reasons God puts us to waiting for things. If circumstances are against us and nothing is happening to change them it is second nature for us to want to manipulate the situation so the ‘things get done.’ In most cases things don’t change and we have to wait for God to do something.

David understood this. He knew who was in control, and he “waited patiently for the LORD.” David faith caused him to see both that God hears and that He considers. (more…)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart…

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. – Prov. 3:5-6.

It is easy to say “I have faith in God.” It is very easy to say it when everything is going swimmingly and life is not presenting us with any trials designed to tax our allegiance. But it is a thing rather more difficult, even when times are steady, to trust God with all our heart. That makes demands upon us that we may not always feel entirely comfortable with. When God says, “Give me your heart,” He is not going to be content with a passing “Praise the Lord” or a casual “God is so good to me” inserted once or twice a day into our busy schedules. What He wants is we ourselves. He wants us in our deepest thoughts and longings and motivations. He above all things is deserving of our greatest and unreserved trust. He who made all things for Himself and who has redeemed us so we can share in “the restitution of all things” is so far the sanest object of our trust that to question His right to it is sheer folly. Indeed, it is devilish!

Here we are in the midst of a torrid world; directionless, uncaring, and fundamentally incapable of addressing soberly any of the really big questions in life, and there is God, who has not abandoned us to our moral and intellectual aporia but who in love and grace beckons us to Himself. (more…)