Monthly Archives: September 2016

How to be Spiritually Smart

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”Proverbs 1:7 NKJV

The word “fear” in this scripture does not mean you are afraid of God. Instead, it means reverence or respect, so the respect of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. When I think of someone having a lot of knowledge, I think of someone who is very intelligent, who has lots of common sense as well as book knowledge. However, this verse found in the Proverbs of Solomon, refers to a different type of knowledge.
Solomon was the son of David and Bathsheba, who became king of God’s people at a young age. When Solomon asked God for knowledge, he was not asking to be smarter and know more than anyone else. He was asking for wisdom in being able to tell his people what they should and shouldn’t do. In other words, he wanted to know what is right and wrong.

It is hard sometimes to know what we should and shouldn’t do. Sometimes the television tells us one thing is right, our friends may say something different and our parents something else. It can be very confusing. But the Bible says if we are smart, we will respect and trust the Lord to show us right from wrong.

The Lord has given us certain principles to live by as Christians; the Bible tells us about them, and they teach them in church. The good news is that as our love and reverence for Him grows so does our ability to interpret the way in which He would have us live our lives.

The Bible tells us that Solomon was a wise king. That reputation began by his going to the Lord in prayer and asking for wisdom and understanding. Maybe we should take notes from Solomon and ask the Lord to grant us understanding so that we can tell the difference between right and wrong.

Dear Lord, it is often hard to distinguish right from wrong in today’s world. I ask you to give me the understanding, and wisdom to know what you would have me do each day. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Meditation by Karen B. White

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The Definition of You

I sat, waiting for the results to come up on the screen. Soon, I had my answer: “Lori, the song of your life is I Will Survive,” followed by a paragraph explaining why. Obviously, it was late and I was putting off more important work by doing one of those silly online quizzes. Have you done them? It’s fun for the moment, but when you think about it – how often do we let others define us, to tell us who and how we are?

Sometimes it’s harmless. The facebook quiz says I’m a nurturing parent, a spontaneous friend and my aura is pink. Other times, not so much: The test says I’m way below average or the counselor tells me I’m dysfunctional.

Not to discount helpful advice or professional analyses or to deny reality, but we can’t allow ourselves to be forever labeled by a single evaluation. Sure, we all have weaknesses and we struggle, some more than others, but, Christian, do you know Who resides in you? The One greater than everything around you! Discover what His Word says about you – we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37 NKJV). He is the strength of our lives (Psalm 27:1 NKJV), and He has given us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV), and let it sink into your soul.

Don’t let a number, a diagnosis, or anyone who isn’t the God of the universe define you. After all, God created you, knows you, loves you and died for you. Let Him define you. Nothing less will do.

Meditation by Lori Othouse

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Fire Ants

In Africa, after the rains, all sorts of bugs suddenly make their presence known. One of these is the fire ant. This medium-sized ant begins its life as larva and progresses to the stage of having legs to crawl. Over the course of time it grows wings, which make it possible to fly. Its instinctive attraction to light causes it to fly toward flames where its wings get singed off. It is then left to crawl again, lay eggs, and die.

The fire ant, when it is crawling around in its initial stages of life, must be eager to have those wings. Later it discovers that being airborne is not the end.

So often I think goals are an end to themselves. My goal in life was to get to the mission field. But being on the mission field was not the end. In fact, it was only a step in the process. I remember the surprise I felt when I discovered that more stages awaited me after arriving in Africa and thought it was a difficult process to complete. However, Paul’s words enlightened me in Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

God sees the goals in a different light. God is the One who began this work in me. “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, without which man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, lit.) Only through the perspective of eternity will I understand that reaching each of my goals was not an end, but rather a place where God continued the transformation.

Devotional by Faithe Thomas

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Our Lord does not like Wastage

“When they were filled! he said unto his disciples. Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing he lost. Therefore they gathered them, together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which remained over and above unto them that had eaten” (John 612,13).

Our Lord does not like wastage; and that is why He commanded that nothing be lost. If He was so particular about those fragments left behind, how much more is He particular about our time, money and energy! When we look. at our lives, we have to admit that much of our time is being wasted, much of our money is being mis-spent, and much of our energy is dissipated.

I was at a standstill. I was not growing spiritually. So when I prayed, “Lord, what is wrong with me?” the Lord showed me that l was serving Him in my own strength and wisdom, and that I was wasting time. He showed me how I had cut short my quiet time both morning and evening in order to be out serving. I repented of my negligence and determined that I would wait for the Lord’s plan first before going out. I wanted to see fruit.

I had been praying for three hours, when the Lord told me that l was to go to “Soldiers’ Bazaar”.. The Lord gave us souls every day not only one but many. That is how God began to give me fruit. He expects us to see fruit.

The same principle applies in our use of money also. Do we misuse our money?

In the olden days, I would carry many coins in my pockets! because I was in the habit of giving to anyone who would ask me for money. But one day, when I gave, God spoke to me, and said, “It is not your money it is Mine. Who are you to spend My money. From that day I decided never to spend even one paisa without asking God’s permission.

Your time and your money both belong to God. I never regard money as my own. I never buy anything until I am sure God has a purpose in my spending the money. I remember in America I needed a hair-cut. I had the money, but the Lord never gave me any freedom to get it cut. I kept praying for three weeks, while my hair was getting very long.

I came to Minneapolis, and the Lord told me to go downstairs to the barbershop where I would get a good hair-cut. And while the barber was cutting my hair, I asked him, “Mr. Bruce, can you tell me whether you are born again?” He said, “No, but I want to be”. So after he finished, I took my Bible and explained the way to him. He knelt down and accepted the Lord. He refused to give me the bill; so the Lord gave me a hair-cut and also the privilege to lead the barber to Himself. l believe from God’s Word that we will have to give account for our time and money.

Meditation by Bakht Singh

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Recovering From Bad Choices

We live in a fallen world where evil rules, and we tend to view everything through the natural, time-dominated view. This life is no more than a vapor; however what we do during this brief period not only impacts our lives but that of everyone whose lives we touch. Wrong decisions not only affect our future but the future of those we care about.

The enemy wants to focus attention on our suffering and disappointment which is often a result of our bad choices. As a result, we indulge in self-pity which will always lead to more improper decisions. We turn a deaf ear to God and blame others for our problems. As a result, we are rendered useless in accomplishing our God-given purpose in life. This may go on for years before we realize the truth.

We all have made wrong choices. But God has not forsaken us he never turns his back on his people. Often we make more wrong decisions in an attempt to overcome the first. If we are to have any hope of things changing, we must conduct ourselves in our present situation the way God directs. He can take the bad choices we made and use them for our good and his glory.
We must honestly abandon ourselves to God’s protection and guidance. As long as we persist in looking at our life from a personal perspective, we will not be able to hear God or see the path he has set before us. Seek God’s guidance through prayer and meditation. I have found journaling my prayers very helpful in seeking God’s will in any situation. Remember he speaks to us in a still small voice. In order to hear, we must be silent and listen.

 

Meditation by R. Jamerson  

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Surviving the Preparation

Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character. (Psalms 105:19 NLT)

Often when God gives us a dream or a promise, the fulfillment is almost always punctuated by a significant waiting period. Why? God is taking this opportunity to prepare us to receive the vision. Unfortunately, some never make it through the preparatory phase.

God gave Joseph a marvelous dream. The sun, the moon and eleven stars bowed down before him, representing his Father, Mother, and Brothers. Before the fulfillment of the dream, his elevation to second in command in all of Egypt, the word of the Lord tested him. When he told his brothers the truth, it invoked jealousy and betrayal. When he lived righteously, he was falsely accused and ended up in bondage. Those he tried to help forgot him. Hardship and disappointment litter his path in seeing his vision become a reality. He learned the character traits needed to rule in Egypt, such as integrity, perseverance, and ingenuity, in the school of hard knocks.

What was the key ingredient that enabled Joseph in the midst of such adversity to see the dream come to reality? It must have been that no matter what happened to him, he believed in the goodness of a sovereign God. Genesis 50:19-20 gives us some insight into Joseph’s thought process when he said to his brothers, “God turned into good what you mean for evil.” Whether in the pit or prison, Joseph believed that God was still in control.

Have you given up on your dream? Have disappointments or ill treatment even by God’s people dampened your faith. You must remember as Joseph did, they may have meant it for harm, but God meant it for good.

Meditation by Ken Barnes 

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Refining Fire

“Behold I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” (Isa. 48.10).

This verse is not a very happy one to begin with, for nobody likes to go through affliction. The Lord says: “I will refine thee” because He wants us to be holy, as He is holy. The highest aim of God is to make us partakers of His own holiness. That is why we have to go through many refining fires. Gold can only be refined by fire. What is more, the fire must be beneath and above. In the same way, silk, pearls and diamonds, have all to go through much pressure and suffering to make them what they are. When God chooses us, He sets us a very high standard because He wants us to be holy and without spot, or blemish of any kind. He wants us to be far more glorious than even the angels, so He takes us through a furnace of affliction.

Such is God’s way of preparing us for our high vocation. God uses different ways and different times to refine each of us, but all of us must be refined in God’s way only, and only thus can we attain to God’s standard of holiness. It was through afflictions that Paul became a mighty vessel. I don’t think God used anybody as He used this man of God. The Lord accomplished a very deep work in Paul and it was through all those refining fires, that the Lord refined him and taught him many deep truths. First the Lord took him to a desert, and then through refining fires, and through these things He was able to pour into him divine revelations and mysteries.

Meditation by Bakht Singh

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Encouragement for the Fearful

You are in the hands of a loving God, who loved you enough to die for you, literally. He would never abandon you or any of his children. I don’t know what is fueling your fear, but I do know that God has not given his children a spirit of fear.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” 2 Tim. 1:7).

I don’t know what you are struggling with at this time. However, I know everything that happens to a child of God will be used for his good and God will get the glory.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

God has a plan for you as he does for all his children, and it is a good plan not because we are good, but because he is. He doesn’t love us because we deserve it: we could never be good enough to deserve his love.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” …….(Jeremiah 29:11).

Fear is the opposite of faith. They cannot co-exist. The one will cancel out the other. Believers are told repeatedly throughout scripture not to be fearful. When the enemy threatens you with fear, use God’s own words to oppose him.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 (KJV)

Meditation by R. Jamerson

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