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Archive for November, 2010

The Surprising Call

November 30th, 2010

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God…”

Luke 1:28-30

 

The angel’s announcement disturbed the otherwise quiet world of Mary, the poor virgin of Nazareth. The calling of God often comes unexpectedly into the world of someone comfortable with his or her obscurity. They do not aspire for the spotlight or for the attention of others, let alone the praise of others. They are quite content just to be left alone. But God as our Creator has the ultimate say in the matter of our usefulness to Him, and how that will be achieved. With Mary she was to be the one destined to be the mother of our Lord, with you and I we will be called to do a different type of ministry.

 

The dedicated follower of Christ has no choice nor asks for choices in the matter. The Lord has spoken and he will trust all things into the hands of the Lord who calls. Joy is to be found in doing the Master’s will. He lives and serves for an audience of One – God. The more dedicated the disciple and the more convinced he is that the world has no hope outside of Christ, the further he is willing to go, the more he is willing to endure, and the longer he is willing to stay for the sake of the gospel.

 

But the Lord is gracious and we do not serve without encouragement and joy along the way. The angel’s words, “Do not be afraid,” were often repeated by the Son that Mary bore, and by His Spirit today to His followers. The task given to Mary was one that raised suspicions among many people and even today the Virgin birth is often ridiculed by the world, and even rejected as unnecessary by some Christians. Yet it should not surprise us to see God use such a method to bring about His incarnation into human flesh, and there is certainly nothing that could prevent Him, the Creator of the human reproductive system, from doing so.

 

But in spite of the difficulty or the aloneness of the task we are called to do for God, there is the comfort of the Spirit and the companionship of other believers. We are not alone. The consecrated know of a joy that the world does not and experience a peace that comes from God alone.

 

Prayer:

 

Lord, let us make ourselves useful to You, to be obedient in the path You have called us to walk and in the race You have called us to run. Give us joy and companionship along the way. Amen.

 

 

Evening Devotionals

Purity First

November 29th, 2010

..The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure…

James 3:17

 

The impact on our lives of the wisdom from God contained in the gospel and in His word is to purify our hearts. The meaning is that the word is to be believed and in so believing we are transformed, and in being transformed we are being remade into the spiritual image of Christ Himself. The meaning here is similar to what Christ said on the night of His betrayal as He prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). This is the goal of God in communicating to us, to make us righteous and holy, and from this flows all else.

 

This is a verse that has been abused from time to time, some claiming that an order is here given, “first of all pure than peaceable,” claiming that we are justified in not being peaceable so long as we are protecting the purity of our doctrine. Though the protection of doctrine of the faith is a central concern for believers, that is not the emphasis here. In fact, elsewhere, it is clearly taught that even in the defense of the faith, that a quarrelsome spirit is not to be possessed by the Lord’s servant (2 Timothy 2:24). Even in confronting our most angry and difficult foes the Christian spirit is to be one of graciousness and patience.

 

I read the doctrinal statement of a church lately that emphasized three aspects of God’s desire for His people: transformation, healing, and prosperity. Though one can hardly disagree that God does desire to heal and to providentially care for His people – at least we could agree that it is not the will of God to impoverish His people – the clear biblical emphasis is strongly slanted toward transformation, or holiness. In fact, in a dishonest world, a loss of opportunities can be a testimony to our character. Certainly we cannot boast that God provided for us if we used unethical and immoral means to make that money. And even in healing, there are lengths that some are willing to go to that involve unholy activity, and though God desires our healing – emotional and physical – His priority is on holiness and healing, as well as prosperity, must come His way.

 

The word says that the wisdom from heaven is first of all pure, and upon that reality follows the other attributes. Today let the purity of God’s word and His will lead you to righteousness. Do not take the unethical shortcut to gain prosperity, or seek treatments of the body and soul that are clearly outside the realm of decency and Christian morality. Let the word have God’s desired effect, to purify your heart and life from all that is immoral.

 

Prayer:

 

Lord, Your word is holy and pure. Show us what in our life needs to go and what spiritual attributes need to grow that we might be transformed into Your image. Amen.

Evening Devotionals