BEING A CHRISTIAN
! Bible Reading: Acts 11:1-26 Key Verse: Acts 11:26- “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
Key Words: And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch
There is a difference between being born again and being a Christian. Being born again is when we accept what Jesus did for us in dying, being buried, and raising from the dead. Salvation is what Jesus did for us; being a Christian is what we do for Him – not because we have to but because we want to.
The very word Christian means “to resemble, to identify with.” So a Christian is one who can be identified because they resemble Christ in word and actions. The young son of a humble, consecrated pastor became very ill. After the boy had undergone an exhaustive series of tests, the father was told the shocking news that his son had a terminal illness. The youngster had accepted Christ as his Savior, so the minister knew that death would usher him into Glory; but he wondered how to inform him that he would soon die. After earnestly seeking the direction of the Holy Spirit, he went with a heavy heart through the hospital ward to the boy’s bedside. First he read a passage of
In our daily walk we should strive to reflect Christ…
Scripture and had a time of prayer with his dear child. Then he gently told him that the doctors could promise him only a few more days to live. “Are you afraid to meet Jesus, my boy?” asked his devout father.
Blinking away a few tears, the little fellow said bravely, “No, not if He’s like you, Dad.”
In our daily walk we should strive to reflect Christ in our lives. What to do: ! Let others see Jesus through you.
A CHRISTIAN IS A SOLDIER
! Bible Reading: II Timothy 2:1-13 Key Verse: II Timothy 2:3- “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
Key Words: as a good soldier of Jesus Christ
A Christian is a soldier and should fight the good fight of faith, not becoming entangled in the affairs of this life. The Greek word translated entangle means “to entwine.” This reminds us of Samson, the mighty soldier who lost his power because he became entangled with Delilah, or maybe Lot who became entangled with Sodom, or Rehoboam who became entangled with power. One of my granddaughters wanted to wear one of her momma’s necklaces. As I walked by the room where my granddaughter was dressing, I heard her grunting and sighing and such; finally, I heard a loud sigh that sounded like someone speaking in tongues. In fear and trembling I knocked on the door, to see if I could help. My granddaughter looked at me and muttered something that sounded like an angry bull snorting at a matador. I calmly asked if I could help, still not knowing what the problem was. She said, “Sure,” tossing the necklace on the bed. “But I can tell you now it’s hopeless.” Being her Paw-Paw and her pastor, I reassured her with soothing words that where there is life, there is hope. So I walked over and picked up the item off the bed to find a necklace entwined in seemingly a hundred or more knots. I worked with the necklace for several minutes, which, in actuality seemed like several hours, until I found myself speaking and snorting in a muttering tone, totally frustrated with the job that was before me, when finally I declared to my granddaughter, “This is hopeless!” only to hear her reply, “I tried to tell you.” The point is that we are useless as a soldier of God when we become entangled in the world. I encourage you as a Christian soldier to fight the good fight of faith and don’t let yourself become entangled with the things of this world.
What to do: ! Endure hardness as a good soldier and be leery of the enemy – the world.
THE CHRISTIAN IS IN A RACE
! Bible Reading: Hebrews 12:1-11 Key Verse: Hebrews 12:1- “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”
Key Words: let us run
The Jewish believers to whom Paul is writing were weary and wanted to give up; but Paul encouraged them to keep running. As a Christian, if we are to win the race we must keep running. Warren Wiersbe writes about his day in junior high school. “I had a coach who felt it his duty to make an athlete out of me. Everybody in my class could have told him he was wasting his time, because I was the worst athlete in the class – perhaps in the school! I entered a city-wide school competition, running the low hurdles. I knocked down six hurdles, fractured my left ankle, and immediately abandoned my sports career. (Shortly after, the coach enlisted in the army. I may have driven him to it.) “Coach Walker used several techniques to get me to do my best. ‘Other students have done it, and so can you!’ was one of his encouragements. ‘Just think of what it will do for you physically!’ was another. ‘Now, watch the other kids – see how they do it!’ was a third. As I reflect on this experience, I am amazed to discover that these same three approaches are used in this paragraph, to encourage us in the Christian race: 1. Look around at the winners: verse 1 ‘the great cloud of witnesses.’ 2. Look at yourself: verse 1 ‘lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us.’ 3. Look at Christ: verse 2 ‘looking unto Jesus.’”
Let me encourage you as a believer to run the race that is set before you – that’s what a Christian does. What to do: ! Run, not to just compete, but run, to win the race which is before you.
CHRISTIANS ARE AMBASSADORS
! Bible Reading: II Corinthians 5 Key Verse: II Corinthians 5:20- “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”
Key Words: Now then we are ambassadors for Christ
Some years ago I was attending a meeting and the dress for that meeting was casual: you know, dress pants, pull-over shirts, etc. That day we had the ambassador for the nation of Israel speak to our group. After he had finished his speech, the moderator said, “I’m sorry we didn’t advise you that the dress was casual.” The ambassador politely smiled and said, “It would not have mattered. For an ambassador this is proper dress. You must act like an ambassador, look like an ambassador, and carry yourself like an ambassador because you represent the greatest nation on earth, the United States of America.” Should not the same be true for us? For Christians are ambassadors and we should look, act, and carry ourselves like ambassadors. James Packer, in his book, Your Father Loves You, says, “Paul considered himself Christ’s ambassador. What is an ambassador? He is an authorized representative of a sovereign. He speaks not in his own name but on behalf of the ruler whose deputy he is, and his whole duty and responsibility is to interpret that ruler’s mind faithfully to those to whom he is sent. “Paul used this ‘ambassador’ image twice – both in connection with his evangelistic work. Pray for me, he wrote from prison, ‘that utterance may be given unto me, That I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.’ (Ephesians 6:18-20) He wrote also that God ‘hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. (II Corinthians 5:18-20) “Paul called himself an ambassador because he knew that when he proclaimed the gospel facts and promises and urged sinners to receive the reconciliation effected at Calvary, he was declaring Christ’s message to the world. The figure of
ambassadorship highlights the authority Paul had, as representing his Lord, as long as he remained faithful to the terms of his commission and said neither less nor more than he had been given to say.” Never forget! A Christian is to be an ambassador for Christ.
What to do: ! Be a great ambassador.
CHRISTIANS ARE A NEW CREATION
! Bible Reading: John 3:1-8 and II Corinthians 5:17 Key Verse: II Corinthians 5:17- “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Key Words: Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature
As a new creature of God’s, we now see and act differently than we did before we were born again. All one has to do to verify that fact is look at the Samaritan woman in John 4 or Luke 10.
London businessman Lindsay Clegg told the story of a warehouse property he was selling. The building had been empty for months and needed repairs.
Vandals had damaged the
doors, smashed the windows, and strewn trash around the interior.
As he showed a prospective buyer the property, Clegg took pains to say that he would replace the
As Christians we are a new creation.
broken windows, bring in a crew to correct any structural damage, and clean out the garbage. “Forget about the repairs,” the buyer said. “When I buy this place, I’m going to build something completely different. I don’t want the building. I want the site.”
Compared with the renovation God has in mind, our efforts to improve our own lives are as trivial as sweeping a warehouse slated for the wrecking ball. When we become God’s, the old life is over (II Corinthians 5:17). He makes all things new. All He wants is the site and permission to build.
As Christians we are a new creation. I trust and pray you live like a new creation.
What to do: ! Let others see Jesus through you.
CHRISTIANS ARE SHEEP FEBRUARY 6 ! Bible Reading: Psalm 23 Key Verse: Psalm 23:1- “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Key Words: The Lord is my shepherd
Aren’t you glad today that we have the Lord as our Shepherd? “Dr. Andrew Bonar told me how, in the Highlands of Scotland, a sheep would often wander off into the rocks and get into places that they couldn’t get out of. The grass on these mountains is very sweet and the sheep like it, and they will jump down ten or twelve feet, and then they can’t jump back again, and the shepherd hears them bleating in distress. They may be there for days, until they have eaten all the grass. The shepherd will wait until they are so faint they cannot stand, and then they will put a rope around him, and he will go over and pull that sheep up out of the jaws of death. ‘Why don’t they go down there when the sheep first gets there?’ I asked. ‘Ah!’ he said, ‘They are so very foolish they would dash right over the precipice and be killed if they did!’ And that is the way with men; they won’t go back to God till they have no friends and have lost everything. If you are a wanderer I tell you that the Good Shepherd will bring you back the moment you have given up trying to save yourself and are willing to let Him save you His own way.” Today, I challenge you not to be a straying sheep, but a loving, faithful sheep to our loving and faithful Shepherd.
What to do: ! As a Christian, be a faithful sheep.
CHRISTIANS ARE SAINTS
! Bible Reading: Romans 1:1-12 Key Verse: Romans 1:7- “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Key Words: called to be saints
The word saints in our text carries the idea of “sacred, blameless.” The church doesn’t and can’t promise us that we will be saints, only those in Christ are saints. Donald Barnhouse relates a story about Dr. H. A. Ironside in his earlier ministry: “He was on his way to the Pacific Coast at a time when it still took about four days to make the trip from Chicago. In his railway car was a party of nuns, and day by day he spoke to them and they spoke to him. He would sit reading his Bible, and at times the group of nuns talked with him about spiritual things. He read some of the stories from the Word, and they were delighted with the reading. About the third day, he asked them if any one of them had ever seen a saint. They all answered they never had. Then he asked them if they would like to see a saint. They all declared they would like to very much. Then he astonished them greatly by saying, ‘I am a saint. I’m Saint Harry.’ He then opened the New Testament and showed them the truth...that God Almighty does not make a saint by exalting an individual, but by exalting the Lord Jesus Christ.” So today, I write this devotion as Saint Mike, not because of anything I have done, but because of what Jesus Christ has done.
What to do: ! Exalt Jesus in and through your life.
"Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
! Bible Reading: Luke 6:20-38 Key Verse: Luke 6:37- “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:”
Key Words: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven
I’ve often said the only person who shouldn’t forgive is the one who never needs forgiveness. But you do realize that Jesus needed no forgiveness, yet He forgave. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. John D. Rockefeller built the great Standard Oil empire. Not surprisingly, Rockefeller was a man who demanded high performance from his company executives. One day, one of those executives made a two million dollar mistake.
Word of the man’s enormous error quickly spread throughout the executive offices, and the other men began to make themselves scarce. Afraid of Rockefeller’s reaction, they didn’t even want to cross his path.
One man didn’t have any choice, however, since he had an appointment with
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
the boss. So he straightened his shoulders and tightened his belt and walked into Rockefeller’s office. As he approached the oil monarch’s desk, Rockefeller looked up from the piece of paper on which he was writing. “I guess you’ve heard about the two million dollar mistake our friend made,” he said abruptly. “Yes,” the executive said, expecting Rockefeller to explode. “Well, I’ve been sitting here listing all of our friend’s good qualities on this sheet of paper, and I’ve discovered that in the past he has made us many more times the amount he lost for us today by his one mistake. His good points far outweigh this one human error. So I think we ought to forgive him, don’t you?”
What to do: ! Remember that forgiveness is surrendering my right to hurt you for hurting me.
CHRISTIANS ARE NOT FORGOTTEN
! Bible Reading: Matthew 10:16-42 Key Verse: Matthew 10:39- “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
Key Words: he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
I love football; and in the ‘60s the Green Bay Packers were unbelievable. But do you know, I tried to remember the simple starting lineup of either their offense or defense and I batted zero. I could remember only three or four on each team. And I thought I would never forget them. Famous people back then, but forgotten today. Bobby Richardson talks about this in a poem at the end of his book on his life. As long as you’ve got your batting average up there, everybody knows about Bobby Richardson, everybody knows who plays second base for the Yankees, but three, four, five years later, “Who was the fellow?” Famous then, but forgotten now. Or some great basketball team in the days of the Celtics when they just swept it year after year in the NBA. And I’m just using sports as an example. The same could be said of stardom. The same could be said for great scientists. They’ve come and gone. They’ve left their works, but their names are forgotten. Men honor and highlight the famous and then they forget them. God, however, remembers the unknowns and never forgets us. Such is the life and joy of being a Christian.
What to do: ! Live for the Lord, He will never forget you. The world always will!!
CHRISTIANS AND MISTAKES FEBRUARY 10 ! Bible Reading: Matthew 26:47-56 Key Verse: Matthew 26:51- “And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.”
Key Words: and smote off his ear
As Christians we should be people of action rather than reaction. It’s often our reactions that tend to destroy our Christian testimony.
I recently read about a fellow who was getting ready to travel abroad. Several people warned him to watch for pickpockets when he got to a particular busy city. If he went down to the crowded subway, a pickpocket could grab his wallet and get on the train, the doors would shut, and the pickpocket would be gone. So he determined to be very careful. One evening after arriving in the city he was dressed casually in a sport coat, and he came to the crush of people down in the subway. Sure enough, just about the time the door opened and some people were pouring on, a fellow bumped up against him and he thought, “That was strange.” So he reached into his pocket and he didn’t find his wallet! Well, he grabbed this fellow’s coat just as the door began to close and began to pull. Finally he got the coat all the way out even though the guy was struggling, and the door closed and the fellow inside looked bewildered as the subway train took off. Proud of himself, the guy thought, “Well, that showed him!” But when he looked in the fellow’s coat, he didn’t find his wallet. All that for nothing. But the story has a happy ending – he found his wallet on the bureau at the hotel. Oops!! We do tend to react rather than act, do we not?
What to do: ! Remember, it’s far better to act than react.
CHRISTIANS ARE PATIENT
! Bible Reading: James 5:1-12 Key Verse: James 5:7- “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.”
Key Words: Be patient, therefore
Patience doesn’t come naturally; it comes supernaturally. It is a product of the fruit of the Spirit. One of the ways we show our Christianity is through patience. At three o’clock one wintry morning, a missionary candidate climbed the steps to the examiner’s home. He was shown into the study where he waited until eight o’clock for an interview. Upon arriving, the old clergyman proceeded to ask questions.
“Can you spell?” “Yes, sir,” was the reply. “All right – spell baker.” “Baker – b-a-k-e-r.” “Fine. Now do you know anything about figures?” the examiner inquired. “Yes, sir – something.” “How much is two times two?” “Four,” replied the lad. “That’s splendid,” returned the old man. “I believe you have passed. I’ll see the board tomorrow.” At the board meeting the man submitted his account of the interview. “He has all the qualifications of a missionary,” he began. “First, I tested him on self-denial. I told him to be at my house at three o’clock in the morning. He left a warm bed and came out in the cold without a word of complaint. Second, I tried him out on promptness. He appeared on time. Third, I examined him on patience. I made him wait five hours to see me, after telling him to come at three. Fourth, I tested him on temper. He failed to show any sign of it; he didn’t even question my delay. Fifth, I tried his humility. I asked him questions that a five-year-old child could answer, and he showed no indignation. So you see, I believe this lad meets the requirements. He will make the missionary we need.” In other words, he conducted himself as a “Christian.”
What to do: ! Ask God to work through you so you can act “supernaturally,” rather than “naturally.”
CHRISTIANS AND PEER PRESSURE FEBRUARY 12 ! Bible Reading: Genesis 3:1-19 Key Verse: Genesis 3:6- “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
Key Words: and he did eat
If you live as a Christian then you’ll never fall into the trap of peer pressure.
I once read about a spider that built a beautiful web in an old house. He kept it clean and shiny so that flies would patronize it. The minute he got a “customer” he would clean up after him so the other flies would not get suspicious. Then one day this fairly intelligent fly came buzzing by the clean spider web. Old Some of us want to man spider called out, “Come in and sit.” But be with the crowd so the fairly intelligent fly said, “No, sir. I don’t see other flies in your house, and I am not badly that we end up going in alone!” But presently he saw on the floor below in a mess. a large crowd of flies dancing around on a piece of brown paper. He was delighted! He was not afraid if lots of flies were doing it, so he came in for a landing. Just before he landed, a bee zoomed by, saying, “Don’t land there, stupid! That’s flypaper!” But the fairly intelligent fly shouted back, “Don’t be silly. Those flies are dancing. There’s a big crowd there. Everybody’s doing it. That many flies can’t be wrong.” Well, you know what happened. He died on the spot. Some of us want to be with the crowd so badly that we end up in a mess. What does it profit a fly (or a person) if he escapes the web only to end up in the glue? As a Christian, we should not long for things simply because others do, but rather we should long for the things of God.
What to do: ! You are free to do as you want, but you are not free to choose the consequences of your actions.
"Either sin is with you, lying on your shoulders, or it is lying on Christ, the Lamb of God."
- Martin Luther
A CHRISTIAN HAS THE RIGHT PRIORITIES
! Bible Reading: Matthew 6:19-34 Key Verse: Matthew 6:33- “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Key Words: Seek ye first the kingdom of God
Now, you can’t be any clearer than that. God comes first! When we fail to put God first, we show not only a lack of respect for God, we also show a lack of spiritual wisdom. So let me ask, are your priorities straight?
A couple I heard about in Atlanta read that My Fair Lady was still playing on
Broadway in New York City. They wanted to go so badly, so they bought their tickets months ahead of time and planned their vacation.
The long-awaited day came and they flew to New York City. They presented their tickets, walked in, and sat down in wonderful seats, seven rows from the front, near the orchestra.
To the man’s amazement, the entire place filled up except the seat right next to him. He was curious about that. At the intermission, he leaned over in conversation with the lady in the second seat away from him and commented how they had to wait so many months to get tickets to a performance. When there was such a demand for tickets, why would someone not come? Did she have an idea? She said, “Yes, as a matter of fact, these two seats are mine: this one and that one.” She explained further, “You see, that seat belonged to my husband, and he died.” The man said, “I’m...I’m terribly sorry. But couldn’t you have invited a friend to come with you?” Her answer was classic. She said, “No, they’re all at the funeral home right now.”
Let me encourage you to make sure God is the number one priority of your life. What to do: ! Prioritize your life based upon: 1) that which is necessary, 2) that which is needy, and lastly, 3) that which is nice.
CHRISTIANS ARE SALT
! Bible Reading: Matthew 5:13-20 Key Verse: Matthew 5:13- “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”
Key Words: Ye are the salt of the earth
I read the following which illustrates so vividly the importance of salt: Have you ever smelled old, rotten meat? Remember forgetting for several weeks something you put in the refrigerator? There is an odor that accompanies decay that’s like nothing else. Down in Houston where I was raised, we were only fifty miles from the seaport city of Galveston. Delicious, fresh seafood was available in numerous restaurants in that area – and still is. But there were other ways we used to use seafood, especially shrimp. When a friend would get married, one of our favorite tricks was to secretly pull off the hubcaps of his getaway car and stuff them full of shrimp. It was great! Those shrimp wouldn’t make any noise as they sloshed around hour after hour in the heat of South Texas; but the result was unreal. After two or three days of driving, parking in the sun, stop-and-go traffic, the bride (bless her shy heart) would slowly start sliding over closer to the door. She would begin to wonder if maybe her beloved groom had forgotten his Right Guard. As the day wore on, he would begin to wonder the same about her! All the while those little shrimp were doing their thing in each wheel. Finally (and sometimes they wouldn’t discover the trick for over a week!), young Don Juan would pop off the hubcap – and I don’t need to tell you the result. Old shrimp inside a hot hubcap for a week would make a skunk’s spray seem like a shot of Chanel No. 5. It is gross! To keep shrimp, you must preserve them. If you don’t, they perish. Years ago salt was used. Today we use ice more often. Think of this earth as shrimp. The earth’s inhabitants are in a continual state of perishing. We are “salt of the earth” so don’t lose your savor.
What to do: ! Remember this old decaying world needs salt.
CHRISTIANS ON GOD’S POWER
! Bible Reading: Acts 1:1-11 Key Verse: Acts 1:8- “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.”
Key Words: But you shall receive power
A believer that resembles Christ will have the power of God on their life. This is primarily evidenced through their daily witness to others. But we must be careful to be “a Christian!” Remember a Christian is one who is born again and desires to resemble Christ in the daily walk through their life. In Kentucky the electricity used over a wide area is generated from the power furnished by the Kentucky River. One night the power failed. All lights were out – no electricity. The engineer tested the power plant, but could find nothing wrong with the turbines. They were still operative; but still there was no electricity. Hours later a wader discovered a black snake which had crawled across some main power lines, killing the snake but causing an outage in power. As Christians we need to be on constant alert lest some “black snake” comes wiggling its way into our life and causes an outage of God’s power.
What to do: ! I know the depth of my Christianity by the desire of my heart to be a witness.
I DARE YOU FEBRUARY 16 ! Bible Reading: II Kings 10:1-17 Key Verse: II Kings 10:16- “And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot.”
Key Words: Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord
Come on, I dare you! As a child I often heard these words from my peers. But I never recall any of my peers ever daring me to be a Christian in my actions and attitudes.
In our Scripture reading for today, Jehu had determined to take Israel back from the worship of Baal to worshipping the true and living God. In verse sixteen he gives Jehonadab a dare: “If your heart is right, then come and see my zeal for the Lord.” In essence, Jehu is saying, “Come with me, I dare you.” In a sermon by Missionary Carlos Ortiz, he spoke of a conversation he had with a circus trapeze artist. The performer admitted the net underneath him was there to keep them from injuring, or even killing, themselves with a fall. Then he added, “The net also keeps us from being nervous about a possible fall. It is a source of strength to us. Imagine if there was no net. We would be so afraid; we undoubtedly would make some mistakes causing us to fall. We dare to do what we do, thanks to the net.” Ortiz makes this observation, “We have security in God. When we are sure in His arms we dare to do great things for Him. We dare to attempt big things for God. We dare to be holy. We dare to be obedient. We dare to be different. Because we know that the eternal arms of God will hold us and keep us from the fall.” So as a Christian, if we are to resemble Christ, we must dare to be different from the world. We can rest assured that in doing so, we are safe in the arms of God.
What to do: ! Take a dare. Be Christian in your conduct and attitude. Come on, I dare you!
CHRISTIANITY AND TRUST FEBRUARY 17 ! Bible Reading: Psalm 91 Key Verse: Psalm 91:4- “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.”
Key Words: and under his wings shalt thou trust
I have discovered in my life that the saying of J. Oswald Sanders is so true: “There is no conceivable situation in which it is not safe to trust God.” Corrie Ten Boom said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” A distressed believer once said to a Christian counselor, “It’s hard for me to trust God when everything looks dark.”
The man replied, “Well, brother, if you can’t trust someone when he’s out of your sight, he isn’t worth much. So, too, if you can’t trust God in the dark, you really don’t consider Him trustworthy.” Then pointing to a baby chick that had just taken refuge beneath a large hen he added, “See that little chick hiding under the wing of its mother? As long as it’s there, it can’t see anything, but it’s still protected and secure.” Opening his Bible to Psalm 91, the counselor continued, “Notice it doesn’t say ‘under His wings shalt thou see,’ but ‘under His wings shalt thou trust.’” A Christian’s trust is always under the wings of God.
What to do: ! Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:5.
CHRISTIANS SEEKING THE WILL OF GOD FEBRUARY 18 ! Bible Reading: I Thessalonians 4 Key Verse: I Thessalonians 4:3- “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:”
Key Words: for this is the will of God
“There is only one way to bring peace to the heart, joy to the mind, and beauty to the life: it is to accept and do the will of God.” ~ William Barclay
In September 1952, David Young and I were attending our college’s camp at Catalina Island. We went hiking one sunny, hot afternoon to the top of a ridge of mountains. We were thirsty and didn’t have any water with us, so we were glad to see a beautiful, blue lake in the valley a few hundred yards below us. We hiked down the mountain very fast to get a drink, but when we got to the bottom of the hill and walked to the lake, the whole shore was muddy and hundreds of green slimy frogs jumped into the water. We saw that it wasn’t such good water after all; it was very muddy. So we went without our drink. Sometimes we see something that looks so good that we believe it must be God’s plan for us. But it is not always what it seems to be. We need the guidance of the Spirit to show us if it is really God’s plan for us.
Christians want to know and do the will of God for their lives. What to do: ! “If you are not willing to be used by God, then ask God to make you willing.” ~ F. B. Meyer
CHRISTIANS ARE THANKFUL
! Bible Reading: Psalm 100 Key Verse: Psalm 100:4- “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”
Key Words: be thankful unto him
All of us – yes, all of us – this includes you and me – have many, many reasons to be thankful. If we are to be Christian in our actions and attitude and resemble Christ, then we are to be a thankful person. Let me reiterate, we all have reasons to be thankful.
It is said that one day Charles Spurgeon was robbed after which he said he had three reasons to be thankful. First of all, he said, “I’m thankful that the robber took my money and not my life.” Secondly, he said, “I’m thankful that I did not have my money with me.” And thirdly, he said, “I’m thankful it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed.”
As two men were walking through a field, they spotted an angry bull.
darted toward the nearest fence. The raging bull followed in hot pursuit. It was soon apparent that they were not going to outrun the raging bull. Terrified, one shouted to the other,
Oh, Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful.
“Put up a prayer, John, because we are in for it!” John answered, “I can’t. I’ve never prayed in public.” “But you must,” shouted his partner, “the bull is catching up to us.” “All right,” panted John, “I’ll say the only prayer I know, the one my father used to repeat before every meal. ‘Oh, Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful.’”
I’m reminded of what Paul told the church at Thessalonica, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (I Thessalonians 5:18)
Christians are thankful people. What to do: ! Ask God to give you an attitude of gratitude.
THE CHRISTIANS AND PRAYER
! Bible Reading: Psalm 4 Key Verse: Psalm 4:1- “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.”
Key Words: I was in distress
The Christian (the person who resembles Christ) spends time in prayer and desires to do so. What an honor and privilege to be allowed in before the Throne of the Almighty One! Have you ever considered though that much of what perplexes us in our daily life is nothing but God answering our prayers? Let me explain. We pray for patience and God sends us tribulation because it’s tribulation that worketh patience (Romans 5:3-5). We pray for submission and God sends us suffering. We learn obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8). We ask for unselfishness and God gives us opportunities to sacrifice ourselves for others (Philippians 2:4). We pray for victory and triumph, and the storms of life come swooping down upon us; but it’s through the storms of life that God brings victory (I John 5:4). We pray for strength and humility and some messenger from Satan comes to buffet us (II Corinthians 12:7). We pray for love and God allows into our life some of the most unloving people one could ever meet (I Corinthians 13:4-8).
As Christians we understand that God knows how to best answer our prayers. We simply cry out, “To God be the glory for the great things He hath done.”
What to do: ! Let prayer be the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.
CHRISTIANS HAVE A VISION
! Bible Reading: Genesis 12 Key Verse: Genesis 12:1- “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:”
Key Words: unto a land I will show thee
Abram had never left his homeland, the region of country where he dwelt was all he knew and he was quite successful there. Now God calls Abram and tells him to go to a land He will show him. In the process, God gives Abram a sevenfold promise. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
I will make thee a great nation (verse 2). I will bless thee (verse 2). I will make thy name great (verse 2). I will make you a blessing to others (verse 2). I will bless them that bless you (verse 3). I will curse them that curse you (verse 3). I will make all the families of the earth blessed because of you (verse 3).
None of these things had occurred when Abram left his homeland. Abram though had a vision: a vision of what would be – thus he obeyed. As Christians if we are to be successful, we too must have a vision of not just what is but what will be. The four-word question must have made both men smile later on when they thought about it: “Do you see anything?” It was asked by an aide whose name has not found its way into the history books, but the one who was asked the question is known by many – Dr. Howard Carter, a well-known British archaeologist who at the time had his head poked into an ancient Egyptian tomb. For six uninterrupted years
the man had been digging. There were trenches all around the area, endless trenches, tons of sand and rock that had been moved aside and made into mounds, big boulders, as well as smaller rocks. Mounds of worthless debris were all over the area and nothing for six years had been discovered until this most unusual historymaking day in 1922. You see, everyone else had dug into the Royal Valley and said by the time they finished combing the area there was nothing to be discovered, nothing else to be found; which made the question all the more interesting as Dr. Carter stared in disbelief into this ancient tomb, soon to discover in the minds of many archaeologists the most significant discoveries in the history of that particular discipline. Peering into silent darkness, Howard Carter saw wooden animals, statues, chests, gilded chariots, carved cobras, unguent boxes, vases, daggers, jewels, a throne, a wooden figure of the goddess Sekhmet, and a hand-carved coffin of a teenaged king. In his own words, he saw “strange animals, statues, and gods – everywhere the glint of gold.” It was, of course, the priceless tomb and treasure of King Tutankhamen, the world’s most exciting archaeological discovery up to that time. More than three thousand objects in all, taking Carter the next ten years to remove, catalog, and restore. “Exquisite!” “Incredible!” “Elegant!” “Magnificent!” “Aah!” were all words and phrases used by Dr. Carter and his aide, who had earlier asked, “Do you see anything?”
What to do: ! Remember that a vision is looking at life through the lens of God’s eyes.
CHRISTIANS AND GRAPES FEBRUARY 22 ! Bible Reading: Philemon Key Verse: Philemon 2- “And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:”
Key Words: and to the church in thy house
I asked a pastor of a “mega” church some time back, “How do you pastor so many people?” His response will probably shock you. It did me. “I don’t pastor them. I’m not their pastor; I’m their preacher.” He went on to say, “Why, most of these people don’t even know one another.” Now he didn’t say this with a haughty spirit but with a sorrowful heart.
I believe that Christians can be grouped into two categories – marbles and grapes. Marbles are “single units that don’t affect each other except in collision.” Grapes, on the other hand, mingle juices: each one is a “part of the fragrance” of the church body. The early Christians didn’t bounce around like loose marbles, ricocheting in all directions. Picture them as a cluster of ripe grapes, squeezed together by persecution, bleeding and mingling into one another. Fellowship and worship, then, is genuine Christianity freely shared among God’s family members. It’s sad to think of how many Christians today are missing that kind of closeness. Sermons and songs, while uplifting and necessary, provide only part of a vital church encounter. We need involvement with others too. If we roll in and out of church each week without acquiring a few grape juice stains, we really haven’t tasted the sweet juice of fellowship. Christians get involved, so let me ask how involved are you with your church?
What to do: ! Be a grape, not a marble.
CHRISTIANS APPLY THE BIBLE
! Bible Reading: James 1:17-27 Key Verse: James 1:22- “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
Key Words: Be ye doers of the word, not hearers only
We are to be doers of the Word, not hearers only. In our everyday vernacular, this means apply what you learn. I heard about a young Christian who went into a mission station in Korea to visit the pastor who was instrumental in his conversion. After the customary questions, the missionary asked the reason for his coming. “I have been memorizing verses from the Bible,” he said. “And I want to quote them to you.” He had walked hundreds of miles just to recite some Scripture verses to his mentor in the faith. The pastor listened as he repeated without error the entire Sermon on the Mount. He commended the young man for his remarkable feat of memory, then cautioned him that he must not only “say” the verses but put them into daily practice.
With his face aglow, the young man responded, “Oh, that is the way I learn them. I tried to memorize them, but they wouldn’t stick, so I developed a plan. First, I would learn a verse, then I would talk to a neighbor who was not a believer and put the verse into practice. After doing this, I found I could remember the verse with ease.” So let me challenge each of us, not just to read the Word, but live the Word. That’s really what a Christian does. Come to think of it, isn’t that why people call us Christians?
What to do: ! Remember, a Bible that is falling apart, probably belongs to someone who isn’t.
CHRISTIANS DO THEIR BEST
! Bible Reading: Genesis 43:1-14 Key Verse: Genesis 43:11- “And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds:”
Key Words: take of the best fruits
A Christian understands that we are to give of our very best. That’s what Jacob told his sons to do when offering a gift to Joseph. Your very best, isn’t that what God wants from us? Cathy Rigby was a member of the U. S. Women’s Gymnastics Team in the 1972 God has never asked Olympics in Munich, Germany; and she had one goal in mind: to win a gold medal. She us to be the best; but had trained hard for a long time. He does ask us to do On the day she was scheduled to perform, she prayed for strength and control our best. to get through her routine without any mistakes. She was tense with determination not to let herself or her country down.
She performed well, but when it was all over, and the winner announced, her name was not among them. Cathy was crushed! Afterward, she joined her parents in the stands all set for a good cry. As she sat down, she could barely manage to say, “I’m sorry; I did my best!” “You know that, and I know that,” her mother said. “And I’m sure God knows that too.” Then Cathy recalls, her mother said ten words that she has never forgotten: “Doing your best is more important than being the best.” God has never asked us to be the best; but He does ask us to do our best. Are you?
What to do: ! Your best.
CHRISTIANS AND CRITICISM FEBRUARY 25 ! Bible Reading: Matthew 7:1-12 Key Verse: Matthew 7:3- “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”
Key Words: considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye
The believer that resembles Christ isn’t free from criticism. Why, Jesus criticized the hypocrites (Matthew 23), Job criticized his friends, and Paul was critical of the church at Corinth. But there is a difference Now before you between their criticism and others’ criticism in criticize others… that they not only pointed out their wrong, they also pointed out how to get right. … honestly Now, with that being said, most criticism evaluate your own has little to do with helping a person. It is only a means of self-justification or self-gratification. life. For example, the Pharisees criticized Jesus in order to justify their rejection of Him. Diotrephes criticized John for self-gratification so he could have pre-eminence in the church. The church at Corinth criticized Paul because they loved their wicked ways.
Now before you criticize others, though, you need to honestly evaluate your own life. Before you criticize your church, you need to ask yourself these questions: if every member were just like me, what kind of church would we have? For example, what would the Wednesday night attendance be? What would the offering look like? How many missionaries would we be supporting? And the list goes on and on – but you have the idea. A woman was highly critical of her neighbors’ windows. She claimed that they were always dirty. One day after complaining, a wise friend encouraged her to wash her own windows. She followed her advice and the next time the friend came over for a visit, she said, “I can’t believe it! As soon as I washed my windows, my neighbor must have cleaned hers as well. Look at them shine!” So it with us – if we’ll clean up our life, we’ll find amazingly that others have as well.
What to do: ! Before you criticize others, clean up your own life.
CHRISTIANS ARE DEDICATED
! Bible Reading: II Corinthians 11:21-33 Key Verse: II Corinthians 11:31- “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.”
Key Words: knoweth that I lie not
No doubt Paul was dedicated to God! No man could go through what he went through without a well-grounded desire to live for God. Trials do not make us; they simply reveal what we really are. If we are not real in our Christianity, then we will certainly quit. Ernest Lowe wrote the following in regard to the dedication of his friend, Jim Elliot. “Jim Elliot was a classmate of mine in college. He was a young wrestler, goodlooking, and tough of body. He was also a deeply spiritual young man. Every morning he arose at five or five-thirty and read his Bible and made notes in his diary. One day, in his praying about the people overseas, he thought to himself, ‘Why shouldn’t I go? There is one minister for every 500 people in the United States, and
one for every 500,000 overseas. Why shouldn’t I go?’ And he went. He went to the Auca Indians in Ecuador and he was murdered. After his death, they found, scattered along the shore, a river-soaked diary. In it Jim Elliot had written, ‘Make me a crisis man, O Lord; not just a sign-post on the highway of life, but a fork in the road so that men who meet me will come to know Jesus Christ.’” That’s dedication!!
What to do: ! Live your life being a dedicated Christian.
CHRISTIANS AND HAPPINESS FEBRUARY 27 ! Bible Reading: Acts 26:1-23 Key Verse: Acts 26:2- “I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:”
Key Words: I think myself happy
Don’t you just love this verse? “I think myself happy.” Now there are those who think themselves angry, and others who think themselves discouraged; but as Christians if we are to resemble Christ then we must “think ourselves happy.”
Robert Louis Stevenson had twelve things he focused on to think himself happy. 1. Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things. 2. Make the best of your circumstances. No one has everything, and everyone has something of sorrow intermingled with the gladness of life. The trick is to make the laughter outweigh the tears. 3. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t think that somehow you should be protected from misfortunes that befall others. 4. You can’t please everybody. Don’t let criticism worry you. 5. Don’t let your neighbor set your standards. Be yourself. 6. Do the things you enjoy doing, but stay out of debt. 7. Don’t borrow trouble. Imaginary burdens are harder to bear than the actual ones.
8. Since hate poisons the soul, do not cherish enmities or grudges. Avoid people who make you unhappy. 9. Have many interests. If you can’t travel, read about new places. 10. Don’t hold postmortems. Don’t spend your life brooding over sorrows and mistakes. Don’t be one who never gets over things. 11. Do what you can for those less fortunate than yourself. 12. Keep busy at something. A busy person never has time to be unhappy.
I always encourage believers to invest their lives in others. That’s what a Christian does. What to do: ! Think yourself happy.
CHRISTIANS ARE FAITHFUL
! Bible Reading: Revelation 2:1-11 Key Verse: Revelation 2:10- “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
Key Words: Be thou faithful unto death
F. B. Meyer signed many of his letters, “Yours to count on.” Meyer also is credited with saying: “A little thing is a little thing; but faithfulness in little things is a very great thing.” The one ability that is within each of us is the ability to be faithful: faithful to our family, faithful on our job, faithful in our church attendance, and faithful in our giving. Just be faithful! After the tragic bombing of a marine base in Beirut in October of 1983, the steadfastness of one young soldier moved and heartened Americans back home. He had been critically wounded in the explosion of the revamped hotel where he and his fellow marines had been staying. Many of his buddies had been killed. He was covered with bandages and a jungle of tubes was attached to his body. He could not speak. Yet when he was visited by General Paul Kelly, Commandant of the Marine Corps, he indicated that he wanted to write something. Painfully, he
wrote the words semper fi, a shortened form of the U. S. Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis, which means “Always faithful.” We can all be faithful. That’s what a Christian is: faithful.
What to do: ! Be faithful; it’s just that simple.
I deeply appreciate the help of Laurie Blankenship Trisha Bookout Kathy Endicott Cathy Fortenberry Sandy Lancaster Cathy Lang Pam Lee Marie Moore Mary Parsons John and Tascha Piatt Reba Pontbriand And my lovely wife, Linda
Without God using these people to help this devotional would not have been possible.
Dr. Mike Rouse