Abide

 

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Friday, January 23, 2015

Based Upon John 15

Abide! While this little word only has five letters, when combined with the blessed phrase, “in Christ,” it mysteriously becomes a huge, eternal principle full of rich rewards.

It is very interesting how many of us find it difficult to stick to a plan. With the New Year’s resolution honeymoon bliss steadily wearing off, so many of us have all but forgotten the promises we made to ourselves. Instead of exercising more, some of us have slid into eating more. Instead of getting up earlier to devote ourselves to our God, many of us are staying up later, devoting ourselves to mindless activities making it impossible to rise early. Instead of being more attentive to our spouses, some of us have fallen back into being their roommates, and passing them like ships in the night.

Our loving heavenly Father has just the thing we need in order to help us keep worthy commitments—abide in Christ. You see, as long as we are living in humble submission to Christ, there is nothing [good] that is impossible for us. When we abide in Him as a healthy branch abides in the vine, we can ask anything according to His will, and He will grant it. But, the key is for us to seek His will and abide in Him at all costs.

Just how do we abide in Christ? The first thing we need to do is submit our wills fully to Him. Whenever He says that He desires a thing for us, whether we initially desire or not, we must step aside, knowing He is sovereign and has our best interest at heart.

Second, we must ask Him to make us willing to do His will. So many times people are confused about what is right or wrong, simply because they are not willing to do whatever God says. Thus, there is confusion. Being willing to do God’s will, even when it is difficult, sets us in prime position to understand His every word as He reveals it.

Last, we need to embrace the principles of thanksgiving and praise. The Bible says that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. The more we praise Him from a sincere heart, is the more of His presence we will experience. In this, we are abiding in Him. We thank Him for what He has done. We praise Him for who He is. He has done great things, and He is so good, we can scarcely articulate it. He is faithful and willing to bestow the richest blessings upon those who abide in Him.

At this point it is not hard to believe that our watchword for today is, “Abide.”




Serious Half-Stepping

OK, sure your works won’t save you, but neither will doing the minimum to get by. Are you all in or what?

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Thursday, January 22, 2015
Based Upon John 14

While speaking to His disciples, Jesus was very clear about the level of commitment that He required of them. His teachings on this subject are also for us. In the commandments, He said that He is a jealous God. He refuses to compete with anything else that we may love more than Him. If we love our parents, spouses, children, or our own ideas more than we love Him, we are not worthy of being His disciple. Jesus has given us His all, therefore He expects us to reciprocate. This is reasonable.

Have you ever heard that the Lord requires only one seventh of your week that should be set aside for Him? How about this: He requires only one tenth of our increase as a tithe, and He will be satisfied? Some say that all He requires of us during a day is morning and evening prayer. Jesus was trying to erase such minimalist thinking when He said that we should forsake all for Him. If we were to give Him these portions of ourselves as a tip for His services, it would be offensive. He told Moses to gather the jewels of the people for the building of the sanctuary. He said that if they were unwilling to give freely, that He should reject the offerings. The same is true today. If we give only of necessity or in neat little portions merely to meet the requirement, we have missed the point all together.

If I give the Lord merely one seventh of my week for worship, what kind of relationship would we have? Should I then live like the devil the remaining six days? If I gave the Lord control over one tenth of my increase along with a generous offering could I squander the remaining portion? If I prayed twice per day only, would I be prepared to face the enemy? How well would I know the voice of God? The point is, if we do not sacrifice all that we are and all that we have, dedicating all to Jesus, these required portions are meaningless. In that case, we could dedicate eighty percent of our income to the poor and still come up short in the eyes of God. On the other hand, if we are fully surrendered to the Lord, and all that we have is His, we could offer two mites as the widow did, and heaven would rejoice.

Our priority should be pleasing the Lord. He wants entire commitment and service. He provides both the power and the means for us to do this. It is reasonable to return to the Lord all that He has blessed us with. He gave unreservedly, and we should do the same.




The Appointment

Christ lay down His life when His mission was to be accomplished, and we honor Him when we trust His divine timing.

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Based Upon John 13

Satan assailed the entire journey of Christ’s ministry on earth. From the time of Christ’s birth, the enemy tried to cut His life short, because he knew that he would be defeated, as when he was cast out of heaven. Hatred for Jesus caused Satan to inspire men to attempt to murder Jesus. Herod signed a decree to murder every child two years and younger, hoping to eliminate a potential king whom he thought would threaten his dominion. Many times evil men tried to either stone Him or throw Him from a mountain to His death (Luke 4:30). They failed because there was an appointed time for the willing sacrifice of Jesus’ life.

Often, He said that His time had not yet come. When His time came, He would yield His life for the salvation of humankind. “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” (John 10:17, 18).

As He did regularly, Jesus was ministering, when some Pharisees approached Him. “The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.” (Luke 13:31-33).

What was Jesus’ perfection? What event did Jesus often reference when threatened by death? He knew that only when the time was right, He would be perfected through His sacrificial death on the cross. Jesus’ reference of today, tomorrow, and the third day was directly related to His ministry on earth. He spoke using the symbols of the Old Testament to state that His public ministry would be no less than or no more than approximately three years. He employed the day for a year principle found in scripture relating to symbolic Bible prophecy (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6). Each day in symbolic Bible prophecy equals one literal year.

It is a blessing to know that the Lord has our lives under His control. When the enemy attempts to take our lives, God must first permit him to. It is only as God’s people have fulfilled their individual mission that they will lay down their heads in death. If we trust the Lord as did Jesus, our eternal lives are secure in Him




Givers and Takers

Mary learned to be a giver. Judas educated himself in taking. Which one are you?

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Based Upon John 12
As I meditate on the story of Mary who gave her most precious offering to Jesus, it occurs to me that this world is full of two kinds of people—givers and takers. That is not to say that each group exclusively does one or the other, but the givers of which I speak are more willing to give than receive. They are most satisfied, when God is most glorified. They choose not to withhold any part of their existence from God. He has done so much for them, and they know it. Mary learned to be a giver.

Takers, on the other hand, are those who would rather wait for a handout than work, receive praise from people than give praise to God, and live selfishly with clenched fists rather than with hands open to bless others. When they pray (if they pray), the focus is almost exclusively on asking and receiving, never mind giving thanks for what God has already done or praising Him for who He is. Judas educated himself in the selfish school of taking.

While Mary anointed the feet of her Lord with a most precious ointment and bathed them with her tears, some questioned Jesus’ association with such a sinner. As the lovely aroma of her worship permeated the room, the stench of Judas’ greed pervaded the atmosphere. That which he considered a waste under pretense of benevolent concern for the needy, God considered an investment in the legacy of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins.

So, are you a giver or taker? Are you most satisfied when God is glorified, or are you most satisfied when you are most, well, satisfied? Ask the Lord to give you the heart of a giver today, and brighten the lives of those around you.




Hope When The Wait Is Too Much

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, January 19, 2015
Based Upon John 11

Jesus’ friend Lazarus was so sick that he was about to die. His sisters sent for Jesus asking Him to please come and help. The one you love dearly is about to die. One day passed and then two. At least by the third day the loving Savior would show up right? Can you imagine the sadness and utter confusion that must have seized the minds of Lazarus’ sisters when it appeared that Jesus was not coming? As the story continues, we discover that Jesus does not come until the forth day. What took Him so long? Now, Lazarus is dead.

In Bethany, many are sorrowful about the death of Lazarus. Jesus finally appears on the fourth day. There are so many questions in the minds of the mournful onlookers. I can hear it now, “What took you so long Jesus? If you were here, Lazarus would not be dead!” Have you ever felt as if Jesus took too long to appear in your distressful situation? Jesus says, “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.” (John 11:15). Soon after, Jesus tested the faith of Lazarus’ sister Martha by saying that he would rise again. Martha said yes, he would rise on resurrection day (John 11:24). “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:” (John 11:25). Jesus was saying to all generations that when our hopes are decomposing quickly like Lazarus’ body, and as a result, the terrible odor of doubt and apparent impossibilities overwhelm us, He is the resurrection and brings life to the dead.

 

Jesus was saying to all generations that when our hopes are decomposing quickly like Lazarus’ body, and as a result, the terrible odor of doubt and apparent impossibilities overwhelm us, He is the resurrection and brings life to the dead.

 

What happens next is amazing. “And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.” (John 11:43-45).

God’s role as Creator is closely aligned with His role as Redeemer. The same God who created us with purpose, also came in human form when we needed Him the most, and continued His re-creative process of saving us from sin (Romans 5:6-8). If Jesus could raise a decomposing dead man from the grave, can He not also deliver those that are dead in sin? It is our privilege, in the last days, to worship a personal God who created us with purpose and loves to deliver us from sin. What a wonderful God He is.




Willful

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Thursday, January 15, 2015
Based Upon John 7

There is so much confusion concerning the things of God these days. One person will say this, another person will say that. One person will say X, another will say Y. If you say up concerning a Bible principle, someone else will most certainly say down concerning the exact same thing. Unfortunately, so many have just given up, because of these subjective thoughts concerning Scripture.

I have good news, as it is also implied in the first chapter of the book of Revelation, Jesus gave a clear principle that simplifies all of this in our theme chapter: He basically said, “If you are willing to do God’s will, truth will become clear to you.” This is comforting to me, because I am not as educated as so many others, and not as bright as still others. Is this also your reality? Yet, I do have the will to do God’s will. When we submit to the will of God in our lives, things that have seemed so complex prior to our submission, mysteriously become as clear as the noonday sun.

So, here is the question you need to ask yourself today: “Am I willing to do God’s will?” The answer to this question will determine how clearly you can behold the power of God in your life, and sense His presence in all of the circumstances you face. If you find that your desire to do His will is weak, simply ask for strength in this area. Believe that you receive it, and it shall be done unto you. It is most definitely God’s will for us to experience Him more fully, so rest in that reality and that God for the abundance of His grace that will certainly follow.




Leave Nothing of His Overabundance Behind

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, January 14, 2015 Based Upon 6

Special Feature
Listen to a Classic Program Based Upon Today’s Theme Chapter (With Dr. Gina Brown): http://www.spreaker.com/user/reachmanyradio/where_shall_we_go

Jesus and His disciples often sailed over the Sea of Galilee; this day was no different. The disciples were in the school of Christ listening to the profound, life-giving words that He spoke, and witnessing, first hand, His miracles. Because of Jesus’ miracles, as they often did, the multitudes followed Him. Jesus understood this, yet He did not discourage them. Instead, “When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” (John 6:5). Jesus was getting ready to do something great.

After some interchange between Christ and two of the disciples, Jesus had them bring a young boy and his lunch to Him. “And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.” (John 6:10, 11). Christ performed another miracle. A small lunch was transformed into a great feast that fed five thousand people. “When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” (John 6:12).

From this story, many lessons can be learned. One lesson is that God uses human instruments to accomplish His will on earth. Jesus could have made bread appear from nowhere, and supernaturally, before each hungry person, cause a feast to appear, but He didn’t. He chose to use a young boy, and His disciples to accomplish His will.
Another lesson to be derived from the story is that God uses people to share Himself with others. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35). The disciples amongst the waiting multitude, shared the bread.

The lesson that perhaps may go unnoticed is that God gives an abundance of what we need. The text says that there were fragments left after the multitude was completely filled. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Ephesians 3:20. “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:” Romans 5:20. Whatever our need, whether it is God’s love or His grace, He gives an overabundance of it so that some will be left. The fragments should be gathered that nothing be lost.

Have you begun to experience the power of God in your life? Do you recognize the abundance? By all means, gather up the fragments, and share them with others. God has not given these precious gifts for them to be squandered. “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)

 




Answer For Your Community’s Needs

Jesus gave the woman at the well living water, and it changed her world.

What will His gift do for yours?

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, January 12, 2015

Based Upon John 4

Great needs exist in our communities all around the world. From Jamaica to Sri Lanka, many children are starving. From Sierra Leone to Vietnam, diseases overcome multitudes of people. From Croatia to California, orphans lack the attention and love they need. Even with humanitarian efforts in each land, the money falls short of accomplishing the goals. Governments obsessed with other matters, exhaust the money on those matters while their citizens languish. Unfortunately, this is not a peculiar issue. There is abundant room for improvement in every land.

One day, as Jesus went about His duties, He stopped at a well where He met a Samaritan woman. In His brief encounter with her, He meticulously broke down several barriers. He penetrated religious, gender, racial, and social bigotry in one pointed conversation with her. Their dialog on all of these matters played out like a spiritual game of chess. By the time this match was almost over, Jesus was offering the woman the eternal water of life. With joy and thanksgiving she accepted this gift, and went into the city doing what comes natural to those who have life changing encounters with Jesus. She began to invite people to meet Him. “The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.” (John 4:28-30). By sharing her real-life Jesus encounter with others, she demonstrated the ultimate in community service.

When those whom the Samaritan woman brought to Jesus had their own experience with Him, they too were convinced that Jesus was the Messiah and asked Him to stay with them. As a result of His two-day stay, many more were converted. “So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. And many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” (John 4:40-42).

The answer to all community needs is Jesus Christ. It is as Jesus lives in all who would bring relief to those victimized by their circumstances, that we are led to fulfill community needs. He is willing and available to teach believers how to give money, food, medical supplies, education, and other resources necessary to restore communities, one at a time. Most of all, He wants to give everlasting life to the suffering ones. With this gift, one day all needs will disappear. With this gift, all will live with God where there will be no more sickness, death or pain. For the former things will all be passed away (Revelation 21:4). I look forward to that day. How about you?




Sacrificially And Eternally Rich

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, January 5, 2015
Based Upon Luke 21

Are you rich or poor? The answer to this can be tricky, depending upon perspective.

Jesus told a story about two categories of people. One category is of those He called rich. The second, who were represented by a widow, are poor. The context of His story is giving offering during worship. Jesus said that there were rich people who gave lots of money and there was one poor widow who only had less than two cents to offer. “Which of the two,” He asked, “gave most? Was it the rich or this poor widow with less than two cents?”

This question is quite intriguing. The simple fact that someone would even ask a question with what would seem to be such an obvious answer lets us know that there is more here than meets the eye. Since Jesus used this question as a teaching tool, He told the people that this woman who gave out of her extreme need, did so with more abundance than those who had riches to spare. Why? The more of a sacrifice that is involved in our dedication is a sweeter service than that which we offer without any real loss. Jesus, the greatest Example of this principle, submitted His all as He hung, horribly beaten and bloodied on a cruel cross for our sins.

Do we the same? Do we give of our very best to the master?

If we are rich toward God, our riches, as well as our extreme need alike are freely given to Him, for whatever most glorifies Him. Therefore, riches that matter are those invested in heaven. The poor of eternal import are those who give without sacrifice. So, I ask again, are you rich or poor?




A Quick Word About a Short Meeting

Three life-changing moments in the experience of Zacchaeus that can be yours.

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sabbath, January 3, 2015
Based Upon Luke 19

When you know someone is coming to your house, how do you prepare? What if that person is a dignitary worthy of honor? This is exactly what happened to Zacchaeus, and it was the best day of his life. I left out one important detail: Zacchaeus did not know Jesus was coming over.

Take a moment and read our theme chapter for the details of this story and you will discover that what we might think are our plans, are actually the providence of God in action. You will also discover that when God passes on the road of your life, all that you are, and all that you possess can be changed forever.

I would like to share a few things I learned from the story of Zacchaeus: Firstly, when Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was going to be in a certain place, for whatever his reasons, he cleared his schedule, adjusted his plans, and modified his path of travel to guarantee his path would intersect with that of Christ’s, for he knew Jesus would pass that way. There are times in our lives when we become keenly aware of our need for change. We realize that whatever direction our lives have taken thus far, must be changed. And, sometimes we think that we have arrived at that realization ourselves, when it was really the power and grace of God, which led us, step-by-step until we were willing to encounter the Lord for our life changing experience.

Secondly, when Zacchaeus encountered a seemingly impossible obstacle to his Christ encounter, instead of lamenting the fact and being defeated, he exercised his God-given ingenuity to increase his chances of accomplishing his goal. The obstacle Zacchaeus encountered was not merely the masses of people who had similar desires of meeting the Master. No. Zacchaeus had to overcome a genetic obstacle—one for which science has no cure. Zacchaeus was short of stature. There is no reconstructive surgery, height reassignment surgery, or pill he could have taken to change this characteristic, which was encoded into his DNA. Is this not the case with us. Do we not have deep-seated impediments to righteousness in our lives? Do not general predispositions to evil hamper our every effort to change? Have not cultivated tendencies toward evil etched pathways into our actual brains that make second nature, that which we should never have experienced in the first place? We all have impediments that hinder our ability to do the right thing. Yet, the Lord makes provision for us, as He did for Zacchaeus. That day, the short, little guy, who absolutely needed to experience Christ, was led to a common tree, and that common tree became a minister of righteousness. It provided a desperate man the facility to get a life saving glimpse of Jesus.

Lastly, when we finally do encounter the Lord on our paths of life, His power and will are present to create a remarkable change within us. When Jesus saw Zacchaeus in that strategically positioned tree, He told the man, who had many weaknesses to overcome, that He was going to his house that day. Whoa! When Jesus looks into your life and says that He is going to enter your house, don’t you worry about fixing things up. Don’t you worry about throwing all of your rubbish away. Don’t you worry about hiding those old things that clutter your guest room. When Jesus comes into a place, everything changes! When Jesus comes into a life everything in that life changes! Why was the Old Testament sanctuary holy? Why was the ground beneath the feet of Moses and Joshua as they met God on two separate occasions holy? Why is New Jerusalem holy? All that is holy, and all who are holy, are such because Jesus is there. His presence changes the very atmosphere. As such, Zacchaeus immediately began to live according to his new, God-given holiness.

Will you let Jesus lead you on the path to righteousness this fine Sabbath morning? Will you allow Him into your house and disrupt the hiding of skeletons in your closets and destroy your efforts to tidy the place for Him? Will you give Him the keys to your heart and let Him recreate you? Zacchaeus was neither unique or privileged. You, too, can have a life-changing encounter with your God today. I know He is even now passing your way. Come on over and meet Him.