Archive for February, 2010

Our Misgivings About Jesus 2-26-2010

February 26th, 2010
February 26, 2010
Our Misgivings About Jesus

The woman said to Him, ’Sir, You have nothing to draw [water] with, and the well is deep’ —John 4:11

Have you ever said to yourself, “I am impressed with the wonderful truths of God’s Word, but He can’t really expect me to live up to that and work all those details into my life!” When it comes to confronting Jesus Christ on the basis of His qualities and abilities, our attitudes reflect religious superiority. We think His ideals are lofty and they impress us, but we believe He is not in touch with reality— that what He says cannot actually be done. Each of us thinks this about Jesus in one area of our life or another. These doubts or misgivings about Jesus begin as we consider questions that divert our focus away from God. While we talk of our dealings with Him, others ask us, “Where are you going to get enough money to live? How will you live and who will take care of you?” Or our misgivings begin within ourselves when we tell Jesus that our circumstances are just a little too difficult for Him. We say, “It’s easy to say, ’Trust in the Lord,’ but a person has to live; and besides, Jesus has nothing with which to draw water— no means to be able to give us these things.” And beware of exhibiting religious deceit by saying, “Oh, I have no misgivings about Jesus, only misgivings about myself.” If we are honest, we will admit that we never have misgivings or doubts about ourselves, because we know exactly what we are capable or incapable of doing. But we do have misgivings about Jesus. And our pride is hurt even at the thought that He can do what we can’t.

My misgivings arise from the fact that I search within to find how He will do what He says. My doubts spring from the depths of my own inferiority. If I detect these misgivings in myself, I should bring them into the light and confess them openly— “Lord, I have had misgivings about You. I have not believed in Your abilities, but only my own. And I have not believed in Your almighty power apart from my finite understanding of it.”

The Destitution of Service 2-25-2010

February 25th, 2010
February 25, 2010
The Destitution of Service

. . . though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved —2 Corinthians 12:15

Natural human love expects something in return. But Paul is saying, “It doesn’t really matter to me whether you love me or not. I am willing to be completely destitute anyway; willing to be poverty-stricken, not just for your sakes, but also that I may be able to get you to God.” “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor . . .” ( 2 Corinthians 8:9 ). And Paul’s idea of service was the same as our Lord’s. He did not care how high the cost was to himself— he would gladly pay it. It was a joyful thing to Paul.

When we are connected ALL things are joyous-all service is right and proper. When we are truly connected we do not know about things such as drudgery or destitution, we simply are connected and do the will of God. JDV/DJR

The institutional church’s idea of a servant of God is not at all like Jesus Christ’s idea. His idea is that we serve Him by being the servants of others. Jesus Christ actually “out-socialized” the socialists. He said that in His kingdom the greatest one would be the servant of all (see Matthew 23:11 ). The real test of a saint is not one’s willingness to preach the gospel, but one’s willingness to do something like washing the disciples’ feet— that is, being willing to do those things that seem unimportant in human estimation but count as everything to God.

When we are connected we begin to see others as Jesus taught us we see them; as extensions of Him. JDV/DJR

It was Paul’s delight to spend his life for God’s interests in other people, and he did not care what it cost. But before we will serve, we stop to ponder our personal and financial concerns— “What if God wants me to go over there? And what about my salary? What is the climate like there? Who will take care of me? A person must consider all these things.” All that is an indication that we have reservations about serving God. But the apostle Paul had no conditions or reservations. Paul focused his life on Jesus Christ’s idea of a New Testament saint; that is, not one who merely proclaims the gospel, but one who becomes broken bread and poured-out wine in the hands of Jesus Christ for the sake of others.

The Delight of Sacrifice 2-24-2010

February 23rd, 2010
February 24, 2010
The Delight of Sacrifice

I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls . . . —2 Corinthians 12:15

Once “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit,” we deliberately begin to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ’s interests and purposes in others’ lives (Romans 5:5 ). And Jesus has an interest in every individual person. We have no right in Christian service to be guided by our own interests and desires. In fact, this is one of the greatest tests of our relationship with Jesus Christ. The delight of sacrifice is that I lay down my life for my Friend, Jesus (see John 15:13 ). I don’t throw my life away, but I willingly and deliberately lay it down for Him and His interests in other people. And I do this for no cause or purpose of my own. Paul spent his life for only one purpose— that he might win people to Jesus Christ. Paul always attracted people to his Lord, but never to himself. He said, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” ( 1 Corinthians 9:22 ).

When someone thinks that to develop a holy life he must always be alone with God, he is no longer of any use to others. This is like putting himself on a pedestal and isolating himself from the rest of society. Paul was a holy person, but wherever he went Jesus Christ was always allowed to help Himself to his life. Many of us are interested only in our own goals, and Jesus cannot help Himself to our lives. But if we are totally surrendered to Him, we have no goals of our own to serve. Paul said that he knew how to be a “doormat” without resenting it, because the motivation of his life was devotion to Jesus. We tend to be devoted, not to Jesus Christ, but to the things which allow us more spiritual freedom than total surrender to Him would allow. Freedom was not Paul’s motive at all. In fact, he stated, “I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren . . .” ( Romans 9:3 ). Had Paul lost his ability to reason? Not at all! For someone who is in love, this is not an overstatement. And Paul was in love with Jesus Christ.

It may be that our own goals and hopes and dreams need not be discarded IF we give ourselves and all our desires up to God first and ask Him to give us more meaningful and everlasting goals. It is then paramount for us to stay connected with the Spirit of God so we can stay on point with His goals that have replaced ours.

We should remember that Jesus told the discipiles to wait until they received the Holy Spirit  and the corresponding power  from being connected to the Holy Spirit. We too should wait on defining and pursuing our goals until we are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.  His goals become ours through the power of the Holy Spirit when our Spirit is connected to the Spirit of God. JDV/DJR

The Determination to Serve 2-23-2010

February 23rd, 2010
February 23, 2010
The Determination to Serve

The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve . . . —Matthew 20:28

Jesus also said, “Yet I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27). Paul’s idea of service was the same as our Lord’s— “. . . ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake” ( 2 Corinthians 4:5 ). We somehow have the idea that a person called to the ministry is called to be different and above other people. But according to Jesus Christ, he is called to be a “doormat” for others— called to be their spiritual leader, but never their superior. Paul said, “I know how to be abased . . .” (Philippians 4:12 ). Paul’s idea of service was to pour his life out to the last drop for others. And whether he received praise or blame made no difference. As long as there was one human being who did not know Jesus, Paul felt a debt of service to that person until he did come to know Him. But the chief motivation behind Paul’s service was not love for others but love for his Lord. If our devotion is to the cause of humanity, we will be quickly defeated and broken-hearted, since we will often be confronted with a great deal of ingratitude from other people. But if we are motivated by our love for God, no amount of ingratitude will be able to hinder us from serving one another.

Paul’s understanding of how Christ had dealt with him is the secret behind his determination to serve others. “I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man . . .” ( 1 Timothy 1:13 ). In other words, no matter how badly others may have treated Paul, they could never have treated him with the same degree of spite and hatred with which he had treated Jesus Christ. Once we realize that Jesus has served us even to the depths of our meagerness, our selfishness, and our sin, nothing we encounter from others will be able to exhaust our determination to serve others for His sake.

The Discipline of Spiritual Perseverance 2-22-2010

February 22nd, 2010
February 22, 2010
The Discipline of Spiritual Perseverance
Be still, and know that I am God . . . —Psalm 46:10

Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen. Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be only exposing our fear of letting go and falling. Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered. Our greatest fear is not that we will be damned, but that somehow Jesus Christ will be defeated. Also, our fear is that the very things our Lord stood for— love, justice, forgiveness, and kindness among men— will not win out in the end and will represent an unattainable goal for us. Then there is the call to spiritual perseverance. A call not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately, knowing with certainty that God will never be defeated.

If our hopes seem to be experiencing disappointment right now, it simply means that they are being purified. Every hope or dream of the human mind will be fulfilled if it is noble and of God. But one of the greatest stresses in life is the stress of waiting for God. He brings fulfillment, “because you have kept My command to persevere . . .” ( Revelation 3:10 ).

Continue to persevere spiritually.

Taking the Initiative Against Drudgery 2-19-2010

February 19th, 2010
February 19, 2010
Arise, shine . . . —Isaiah 60:1

When it comes to taking the initiative against drudgery, we have to take the first step as though there were no God.

There is no point in waiting for God to help us— He will not. But once we arise, immediately we find He is there. Whenever God gives us His inspiration, suddenly taking the initiative becomes a moral issue— a matter of obedience. Then we must act to be obedient and not continue to lie down doing nothing. If we will arise and shine, drudgery will be divinely transformed.

However, just arising out of our own power can result in  in just”religion”. Arising out of a real  connection with the Spirit of God results in an intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ. JDV/DJR

By taking the first step we activate the faith necessary to engage and connect with the Spirit of God. It is not that we must take the first step necessarily, but that we take an active step of faith. JDV/DJR

Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character. Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work.

And when we experience it, our spirituality is instantly tested and we will know whether or not we are spiritually genuine. Read John 13. In this chapter, we see the Incarnate God performing the greatest example of drudgery— washing fishermen’s feet. He then says to them, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14 ). The inspiration of God is required if drudgery is to shine with the light of God upon it. In some cases the way a person does a task makes that work sanctified and holy forever. It may be a very common everyday task,

but after we have seen it done, it becomes different.
When the Lord does something through us, He always transforms it. Our Lord takes our human flesh and transforms it, and now every believer’s body has become “the temple of the Holy Spirit”

Taking the Initiative Against Despair 2-18-2010

February 18th, 2010
February 18, 2010
Taking the Initiative Against Despair
Rise, let us be going —Matthew 26:46

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples went to sleep when they should have stayed awake, and once they realized what they had done it produced despair. The sense of having done something irreversible tends to make us despair. We say, “Well, it’s all over and ruined now; what’s the point in trying anymore.” If we think this kind of despair is an exception, we are mistaken. It is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realize we have not taken advantage of a magnificent opportunity, we are apt to sink into despair. But Jesus comes and lovingly says to us, in essence, “Sleep on now. That opportunity is lost forever and you can’t change that. But get up, and let’s go on to the next thing.” In other words, let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him.

There will be experiences like this in each of our lives. We will have times of despair caused by real events in our lives, and we will be unable to lift ourselves out of them. The disciples, in this instance, had done a downright unthinkable thing— they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus. But our Lord came to them taking the spiritual initiative against their despair and said, in effect, “Get up, and do the next thing.” If we are inspired by God, what is the next thing? It is to trust Him absolutely and to pray on the basis of His redemption.

Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.

1 Corinthians 13:8

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away

Taking the Initiative Against Depression 2-17-2010

February 17th, 2010
February 17, 2010
Taking the Initiative Against Depression

Sometimes your calling, comes in dream
Sometimes in comes in the spirit’s breeze,
You reach for the deepest part of me,
And call out for the things of eternity.


But i’m a man, of dust and stains,
You move in me, so i can say,

Here i am, lord send me,
All of my life, i make an offering,
Here i am, lord send me,
Somehow my story, is part of your plan,
Here i am

When setbacks and failures, and upset plans,
Test my faith and leave me with empty hands,
Are you not the closest when it’s hardest to stand?
I know that you will finish what you began.

These broken parts you redeem,
Become the song, that i can sing

Overwhelmed by the thought of my weakness,
And the fear that i’ll fail you in the end,
In this mess, i’m just one of the pieces,
I can’t put this together but you can.

Arise and eat—1 Kings 19:5

The angel in this passage did not give Elijah a vision, or explain the Scriptures to him, or do anything remarkable. He simply told Elijah to do a very ordinary thing, that is, to get up and eat. If we were never depressed, we would not be alive—only material things don’t suffer depression. If human beings were not capable of depression, we would have no capacity for happiness and exaltation. There are things in life that are designed to depress us; for example, things that are associated with death. Whenever you examine yourself, always take into account your capacity for depression.

When the Spirit of God comes to us, He does not give us glorious visions, but He tells us to do the most ordinary things imaginable. Depression tends to turn us away from the everyday things of God’s creation. But whenever God steps in, His inspiration is to do the most natural, simple things-things we would never have imagined God was in, but as we do them we find Him there. The inspiration that comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression. But we must take the first step and do it in the inspiration of God. If, however, we do something simply to overcome our depression, we will only deepen it. But when the Spirit of God leads us instinctively to do something, the moment we do it the depression is gone. As soon as we arise and obey, we enter a higher plane of life.

The Inspiration of Spiritual Initiative 2-16-2010

February 16th, 2010
February 16, 2010
The Inspiration of Spiritual Initiative

Arise from the dead . . . —Ephesians 5:14

Not all initiative, the willingness to take the first step, is inspired by God. Someone may say to you, “Get up and get going! Take your reluctance by the throat and throw it overboard— just do what needs to be done!” That is what we mean by ordinary human initiative. But when the Spirit of God comes to us and says, in effect, “Get up and get going,” suddenly we find that the initiative is inspired.

We all have many dreams and aspirations when we are young, but sooner or later we realize we have no power to accomplish them. We cannot do the things we long to do, so our tendency is to think of our dreams and aspirations as dead. But God comes and says to us, “Arise from the dead . . . .” When God sends His inspiration, it comes to us with such miraculous power that we are able to “arise from the dead” and do the impossible. The remarkable thing about spiritual initiative is that the life and power comes after we “get up and get going.” God does not give us overcoming life— He gives us life as weovercome. When the inspiration of God comes, and He says, “Arise from the dead . . . ,” we have to get ourselves up; God will not lift us up. Our Lord said to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch out your hand” (Matthew 12:13 ). As soon as the man did so, his hand was healed. But he had to take the initiative. If we will take the initiative to overcome, we will find that we have the inspiration of God, because He immediately gives us the power of life.

It can be a struggle to understand when it is our own voice, our own strength or the voice, strength and initiative from God. We are told to wait on the Lord, be patient and wait upon Him, and now we are told, we are to take the initiative. Which is it to be?In every spiritual example we can find, God does require us to accept His grace, gifts and blessings. We are required to reach out and up, we are required to believe. The key once again is our connection.

When we are connected to God, we know when God speaks to us, we know when He wants us to move or stay or simply wait patiently.  When we are connected to God we hear His voice very clearly and know it is God guiding us. When we know it is God guiding us, we are always inspired to do exactly what He wants.  JDV/DJR

“Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” 2-15-2010

February 15th, 2010
February 15, 2010
“Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”
None of us lives to himself . . . —Romans 14:7

Has it ever dawned on you that you are responsible spiritually to God for other people? For instance, if I allow any turning away from God in my private life, everyone around me suffers. We “sit together in the heavenly places . . .” ( Ephesians 2:6 ). “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it . . .” ( 1 Corinthians 12:26 ). If you allow physical selfishness, mental carelessness, moral insensitivity, or spiritual weakness, everyone in contact with you will suffer. But you ask, “Who is sufficient to be able to live up to such a lofty standard?” “Our sufficiency is from God . . .” and God alone (2 Corinthians 3:5 ).

“You shall be witnesses to Me . . .” ( Acts 1:8 ). How many of us are willing to spend every bit of our nervous, mental, moral, and spiritual energy for Jesus Christ? That is what God means when He uses the word witness. But it takes time, so be patient with yourself. Why has God left us on the earth? Is it simply to be saved and sanctified? No, it is to be at work in service to Him. Am I willing to be broken bread and poured-out wine for Him? Am I willing to be of no value to this age or this life except for one purpose and one alone— to be used to disciple men and women to the Lord Jesus Christ. My life of service to God is the way I say “thank you” to Him for His inexpressibly wonderful salvation. Remember, it is quite possible for God to set any of us aside if we refuse to be of service to Him— “. . . lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” ( 1 Corinthians 9:27 ).