Thursday, May 15, 2014

Guest Devotion: "The Oil Will Not Run Dry"

Today is a "guest devotion" from one of my internet friends I have known for about a decade now. This short thought from her heart , I felt needed to be shared with all of you.   May it speak to your heart.

The Oil Will Not Run Dry

by Inspired Fountain (By DeDe)
road aheadEver hit that 'wall'? The wall commonly known as the athlete's wall. Picture a runner, nearing the end of the race, all energy has been spent, their breathing is labored, their body screams in agony. Doubt, fear, and confusion, even anger now rages through them. "There is nothing left, I have nothing left to give!" is their cry. Yet and yet, theydo finish the race.

There are many 'walls' of life.  Moments when we feel we have little left to give, and what we do have, we feel we need to conserve it to make it to the next day. Perhaps, our supply is empty, seeing the bottom is too easy.  For many of us, we have opted to just allow ourselves to dry up and die. I have been there, it is painful.
This morning I was awaken very early in the morning. The calm of the soon coming dawn still lingered outside my window. My thoughts went to Elijah. How often do our thoughts go to Elijah at 3:30 am.? The story of the widow and her son came to mind, out of 1 Kings 17. They had just enough flour and oil to make one last meal, after that nothing was left, they surely would die. In walks Elijah into their story, (God is always on time) asking her to make him a meal first. Telling him of her plight and empty cupboards, he tells her "Don't be afraid" God says, "your supply of flour will not end, and the oil will not run dry." She does what he says, and miraculously there is plenty of continuous oil and flour.
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'The oil will not run dry,' what a wonderful promise. This encouraged me. Just when we think we have spent all that there is in us ... there will be more. More coming from HIM. More energy to face another day. When our breathing is labored ...more power to enable us to fight the good fight. When all that is in us SCREAMS ... there will always be more. The oil will not run dry, a continuous flow of God is offered to us. We accept the oil by doing what God asks of us. Take what we have and give it to HIM, He increases it.

Whatever we are facing, whatever our race, "Don't be afraid", the walls of life are met with a jug of oil. Allow its continuous flow.
In Him, DeDe ("Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds" - Heb. 10:24)

Friday, February 14, 2014

"I Have Failed, Can God Use Me?"

Matthew 26:33-35 (before Jesus was crucified)

26:33 Peter answered and said unto Him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
26:34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee that this night, before the cock crows, thou shalt deny me thrice.
26:35 Peter said unto Him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

John 21:14-17 (after Jesus resurrection)
21:14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (Agapeo) thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (Phileo) thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
21:16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (Agapeo) thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (Phileo) thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (Phileo) thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, lovest (Phileo) thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love (Phileo) thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

This passage in John deals with Peter seeing Jesus after He was risen from the dead. Peter was understandably ashamed, as he had boasted prior to Jesus being crucified that he would never deny Jesus, but would die for him, yet when the true life test came, Peter denied knowing Jesus.

Now let’s get some insight into this passage by looking at the Greek words Agapao and Phileo.

For the sake of keeping it simple I’ll go with the following basic definition (someday maybe we’ll do an in-depth study on Agape).

Agapao - An unselfish, unconditional, sacrificial love, and is often referred to as the God kind of love.
Phileo - A friendship, fondness or to have the same interest with another person.

Now let’s look at this passage again with the the Greek meaning to the words LOVE.

21:14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me with an unselfish, unconditional, sacrificial love more than these?" He saith unto him, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love you as a friend." He saith unto him, "Feed my lambs."
21:16 He saith to him again the second time, "Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me with an unselfish, unconditional, sacrificial love?" And he said unto him, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love you as a friend." He saith unto him, "Feed my sheep."
21:17 He saith unto him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me as a friend?" And this time Jesus used Peter's word, "phileo." Peter was grieved because Jesus said unto him the third time, do you love me as a friend? It hurt Peter deeply that Jesus had come to his level in essence saying, Peter, you do love me as a friend. And he said unto him, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love you as a friend." Jesus saith unto him, "Feed my sheep."

Note: Some believe, as Bob Deffinbaugh states:
Peter was grieved because Jesus found it necessary to ask virtually the same question three times. I do not like to be asked the same question repeatedly. I conclude that either the person asking the question wasn’t paying attention (this could not be the case with Jesus), or that my answer was not acceptable or credible. The three-fold repetition must have registered with Peter as being related to his three-fold denial. Peter was grieved because he realized that the bold and even arrogant claims he had made proved to be empty. Peter is not distressed with Jesus; he is grieved over his own sin. Jesus is not attempting to shame Peter; he is seeking to reaffirm his call to service

Either or both ways you look at this passage you find one thing for sure, Peter was feeling inadequate for the task of feeding Jesus' sheep. Jesus still told Peter feed my sheep.

Do you feel inadequate for whatever it is that God has called you to do? 
Are you saying Lord, I have failed you, I have acted ashamed of you when I should have stood up for the name of Christ?

Lord, I just don’t feel I love you like I should, and Jesus may very well be saying, do what I have called you to do anyway! Jesus knew what a man of God was in Peter, and Jesus knows what a Servant of God you can be.  Jesus hasn’t changed His purpose for you, so don’t doubt what God may have for you to do. Just like Peter we need to obey the Lord even during the growing process while we are feeling inadequate, not qualified for the task at hand. God says, "Feed my Sheep."

So take this as an encouragement to obey whatever the Lord is calling you to do.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"We Are ALL On A Mission From God"

BibleFood "classic" Devotional [slightly updated] 



"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and YE SHALL BE WITNESSES unto ME both in JERUSALEM, and in all JUDAEA, and in SAMARIA, and unto the UTTERMOST PART OF THE EARTH." - Acts 1:8 



Over the years I have ministered to the lost and hurting through various means. Some periods in my life were more full of sharing Christ, other times just seemed as dry as could be.  I have cried out to God to help me get back to sharing the Gospel with the lost and hurting more.


I believe God led me into a form of evangelism that I had not used often enough or effectively in the past. That is what I'll call "Lifestyle Evangelism." What I mean by that [which is different than some people's definition] is that we don't just share Christ on our weekly "witnessing outreach," where maybe every Friday night we flood the streets and pass out tracts, or every Saturday we go door to door witnessing, etc. [don't even see this much anymore in 2014]. In NO way are we not to do those things if God has put us in such an outreach, but don't think that's your only time to witness. There are still all the other days of the week to witness for God. We are truly ALL on a mission from God to be available 24 hours a day to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

I don't consider myself an evangelist - I really don't. But I do believe I am on a mission from God to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. About 10 years ago I took a job that was not easy for me. ALL I would hear in my heart was "You are a missionary to your fellow employees." As long as I kept my focus on that I was fine, but when I started to just think of my job as a job, that is when I ran into problems (just being honest)!  Also, the LORD was moving me on to a new mission field [billiard industry, see my site at: www.christianpoolplayers.com], which involved what I consider a mission trip to work with a billiards/pool ministry (www.gospeltrickshot.com). It was a glorious time of taking an INTEREST in the lost and hurting people around me, and it was a great time of ministry. But that was only for a week! So, did I come home and just stop sharing about the lost and hurting? Absolutely not! I was called on a mission from God BEFORE I went to Las Vegas, while I was there, and now back in my homeland (Atlanta, Georgia)! THE MISSION STAYS THE SAME!!!

Acts 1:8 says, "...YE SHALL BE WITNESSES unto ME both in JERUSALEM, and in all JUDAEA, and in SAMARIA, and unto the UTTERMOST PART OF THE EARTH."

We are to be God's WITNESS of the Good News of Jesus Christ in our Jerusalem, then in whatever may be our Judaea, and our Samaria, and then to end all debates, God says, "...UNTO THE UTTERMOST PART OF THE EARTH." I guess that leaves NO place for us to not be His witnesses!!! Does that mean we have to run up to everyone we meet and ask them do they know Jesus?  Personally, I don't think so. But let me tell you when you look at EVERY place you go as your MISSION FIELD, i.e., your job, going to the grocery store, coaching kids in sports, filling up the car at the gas station, and where ever else your day brings you - I'll tell you it's exciting. Do I share Christ everywhere I go? No! But I try to stay alert to God opening a door to minister with Christ to someone. I believe the more alert we are in Christ and available. the more opportunities the LORD will put us in. I'm sure I have missed many opportunities to share Christ, but Praise God I'm learning to be alert and available as His minister (servant) on a 24/7 basis.

This devotion is NOT to get you into a guilt trip or bondage. I've known some who would try to put you in that state. Just be available to God 24/7 and believe for opportunities. I'm telling you they'll happen!!!

I also want to close with what I'll call "Friendship Evangelism," which is what God has used me most often in for the last year or so. Without EVER compromising, I have built relationships with family, neighbors, coworkers, and strangers to give me opportunity to sow seeds (big or small) into people's lives over a period of time. In Las Vegas it was over a few days or a week. Here in Atlanta, GA, and on the Internet (in some cases) it is brief, and in other cases it has been over a year or more. But they are being built, and in God's timetable He will open opportunities to share Christ with them more and more. In some cases they will be even coming to YOU to have you tell them more about Jesus. This is NOT loving the WORLD (I John 2:15-17). But loving THOSE IN THE WORLD, until we see them come from this dark world to being a citizen of heaven (Phil. 3:20).

Take this devotion as an encouragement, and allow God to open the opportunities, just be alert and available :-)

God's Pruning Process!

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:1, 2


As we look into the pruning process I must share my wife's pruning ability. When I first saw the pruning work of my wife, Joyce, I thought she killed the plant or at least stunted its growth forever.  Boy, was I wrong! It grew back and looked great!  Now, if my wife does a heavy duty pruning I trust her, as I have seen that her pruning is helping the plant.  Also, after my wife first prunes a plant it is rather ugly, but given time it turns beautiful. 

Most of you know that trees need pruning in order to grow properly and bear fruit. Pruning involves cutting off the dead branches and cutting back the living branches, both to shape the tree or vine and to stimulate growth.  So much more with our heavenly Father, as He is the perfect pruner, when He prunes us we know that He knows what He's doing and the end result is you will be more beautiful in God's vineyard. According to this verse, pruning sounds to me like a painful process! However, as painful as it can be to go through this “process,” it is necessary and worthwhile. Think about it, the branch that bears NO FRUIT is history, but it is the fruit bearing branch that he PRUNES so that it will bear MORE FRUIT.  As Christians you are pruned NOT because you have no fruit, but so you'll have even more.


Here’s why:
1. God's pruning is to get rid of stuff in our life that is not healthy.
Often we allow sin (always wrong and bad) or even weights (not necessarily bad/sin, but not beneficial, something that holds us back) into our lives, and it hinders us from bearing fruit or much fruit. 
Heb. 12:11 states: " For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
Heb. 12:1 states: "...let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..."


2. God’s pruning redirects our spiritual growth.
Each branch that is cut stops the plant's growth in one direction and redirects it in another. Sometimes God shuts a door in one area because He wants to refocus our efforts, energy and gifting in another – often one where He knows we’ll be more effective. If we exist to bring God glory and build His kingdom, it’s not so much about where I want to go and what I want to do, but where He can use me the most.

3. God’s pruning improves the quantity and quality of fruit in our lives.
Pruning at the right time and in the right place can actually increase the number of shoots produced by a plant, thus, increasing its yield. A temporary decrease in an area of your life will actually bring the increase! Don’t give up on the vision God has given you, but press on. Your breakthrough could be right around the next corner.

Jesus desires for us to bear fruit for him, we start with fruit, then MORE fruit and then MUCH fruit.  
I like what I have heard stated that we find ourselves in one of three states right now.

Either we are:
1. Being pruned
2. Healing/recovering after being pruned or
3. We are in full bloom.
(But don’t get too excited if you are in full bloom, because you are about to be pruned again.)

If you are a Christian, you are going to be pruned. Count on it. None of us are immune to it. You may not be in the pruning process right now…you may be in full bloom, enjoying a relatively easy life. Praise God! Enjoy it! But don’t get too comfortable…the scissors are going to come your way again!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Review of "Future Grace, The Purifying Power of the Promises of God"


The whole book has many great, encouraging words. A quote from Piper about the purpose of this book is found on page 115, "I am writing this book – if by any means I might come into the deeper experience of living by faith in future grace, and take as many people with me as I can."

Another thing I like in this book, as well as others by Piper, is his transparency when he shares about his life and often his struggles (and then his victories) with getting a hold of wonderful truths and promises in God's Word (Bible).

While I love John Pipers teaching, I have many of his books and have listened to multiple sermons by him, my only problem is I find his large books (like this one with 400 pages) have a lot of repetition in them, which to a certain extent is good.  Repetition does help a point to sink in, but still a little too repetitious in my opinion.  The most incredible book I ever read by John Piper was "Finally Alive" with only 208 pages, but it was incredible. 

At over 400 pages, "Future Grace" is one of his larger volumes, and while there is a lot of repetition, he really hits on a lot of aspects of grace. In the process, he also covers a lot about faith and taking hold of the promises of God.  He even deals with the sin of doubt in a very effective way. 

This book should encourage you in many aspects of your Christian walk and taking God at His word. If He made a promise to you in scripture, it is a DONE deal in future grace.  God's yes promises are yes, and we need to believe and take hold of them with all of our hearts.  As you read this book, it may show you that you have not been taking hold of all the promises God has for you by Future Grace. 

This is a good book whether you read it quickly or take your time.  I believe by the time you read the last page (if not way before the last page), you will be able to say this booked enriched my life and it was worth the read.  

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Review of "Humble Orthodoxy" a very good short book.



Review of "Humble Orthodoxy"


Before I get into my review let me encourage you get this book!  It is so needed by Christians today.

My first thought in readying the title almost scared me away from this book, just because seeing the word "orthodoxy" personally brings negative, overly traditional connotations to my mind.   But then seeing "humble" in front of it got my curiosity, plus I respect Joshua Harris as a Christian author and pastor.   I'm happy to have read this small book (61 short pages plus an added beneficial study guide). If you're a Pharisee in heart you really need this book, but likely won't want to read it.  As stated in his forward to the book, "Pharisaism is a poisonous weed that grows in every garden of orthodox religion."

In this book the author, Joshua Harris, does not down play the importance of Biblical truth, but stresses the importance of having the right spirit about these Bible truths.  The way in which Joshua uses "orthodoxy" is "...right thinking about God.  It's about teaching and belief based on the established, proven, cherished truths of the faith."  I like that definition of "orthodoxy."  As he expresses "humble orthodoxy" he says, "We must care about truth, and we must also defend and share this truth with compassion and humility."  He says, "We don't get to choose between humility and orthodoxy. We need both."

He brings balance to the whole subject of "biblical truth" and "humility." We so often get in the ditch of all Bible teaching (doctrine) and not an ounce of love and humility, or we get in the opposite ditch of all love, love, love and no concern or priority put on Biblical truth (orthodoxy). As I stated earlier (and worth repeating), I so love how Joshua says we need Biblical truth (orthodoxy) and humility, it's not either or, but both!  

As you prayerfully read this book, hopefully, you will see the need for both and that they don't have to be viewed as oxymoron's, but can flow together.

In one to two short readings you will have read this short book. Even if you do this book as a group, it is basically only going to be 4 sessions (utilizing the study guide in the back of the book).  When you are finished you will have a lot to think about and pray about.

None of us has a right to be proud of the truth we do understand, even that knowledge is all by God's grace!  And none of us has the right to dismiss/compromise the truth in the name of love or humility. 

As Joshua says, "We can demonstrate a humble orthodoxy, holding on to our identity in the gospel.  We are not those who are right; we are those who are redeemed".   

To that I simply say, "AMEN!"



I received this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Review: "Simply Jesus"



 
Simply Jesus by Joe Stowell

"Simply Jesus" is a book on really experiencing Jesus in your life. That is not hard to do, as I believe this book shows.

This is a short book and easy read with only 62 pages, but definitely worth the read.  Many authors would have made this a 200+ page book with lots of drawn out repetition.  I like that this book said what was needed to be said on this subject and did it in 62 pages.  He enhances the book by telling some stories which is a good thing.  He also makes it clear that this is a 24/7 lifestyle, and you won't experience Jesus in the way he talks about unless you give your heart to the Lord 24/7.  He also shares how it is God working in us (grace) and not about our doing good works.  Fruit will always be the result of a life in communion with Jesus (see The Gospel of John chapter 15 and Matthew 7:17 & 18).

In this short 9-chapter book you will find a wealth of good information on knowing Jesus intimately mostly based on the truth found in Phil. 3:7-11.

This book is NOT to short and does NOT need to be longer, it is just the right length to get those wonderful truths into our hearts.

The only negative would be the use of too many versions of the Bible and some weak paraphrases. 

I received this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.