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Moments of Guidance in the Presence of God
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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 21, 2011. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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Table of Contents
Most of us get excited about taking a trip, whether it is a weekend excursion, a family reunion, or a long-planned vacation to a place of our dreams. Part of the excitement is the planning, the anticipation, and the hopeful expectation of what our journey will bring. Some could say that we "long for" those times of retreat and refreshment.
Our lives are often like a journey, with unexpected mishaps, missteps, and mistakes. But as believers our lives are also filled with surprising moments of joy, faith for each trial and triumph, and a deep-seated peace with the knowledge that the God of the universe is traveling that same road with us. Just as we look forward to a holiday or a special trip, as Christians we live in anticipation of the crossing we will take with Him someday, knowing that it will be unlike anything we can expect or imagine.
As you begin your journey into the next year, take time each day to remember your Creator, to read His Word, to consider all that He has done for you. Our hope is that the Journey 365-day devotional provides refreshment, encouragement, and blessing to you throughout the coming year as you live in anticipation of His return.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
OUR HOPE FOR YEARS TO COME
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.
This verse provides a happy formula for the New Year. Notice the progression.
First, we realize that the Lord is our strength and shield. No matter what unfolds from day to day or from month to month, He will give us sufficient strength, and His presence will surround us as a shield.
Second, our hearts can fully trust Him. We can relax, rest, and lean on Him, knowing He is fully able to do all He has promised.
Third, as we recognize who He is and trust Him, we are helped. There's no sense of panic as it relates to the uncertain future. He helps us in everything at every time. The past, the present, and the future are His.
Fourth, our heart can therefore rejoice. Today is a day for a joyful and glad attitude. And that leads to a song of praise. We can have a hymn in our hearts today—like this one: "O God our Help in ages past, our hope for years to come; be Thou our Guide while life shall last, and our eternal home."
Under the shadow of Thy throne Thy saints have dwelt secure; sufficient is Thine arm alone, and our defense is sure.
THE LAST LECTURE
For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2 CORINTHIANS 5:1
When Professor Randy Pausch learned he was dying of pancreatic cancer, he gave a talk to his students at Carnegie Mellon University. His presentation circulated widely on the Internet, and then it appeared in book form titled The Last Lecture. In an interview with Reader's Digest, Pausch said that his life was measured now in months, not years, and that he simply wanted to do what good he could do "on my way out of the building."
That's reminiscent of Paul's teaching in 2 Corinthians 5. We're laboring now in an earthly tent that is passing away, but we have an eternal house in the heavens. Therefore we make it our aim to be well pleasing to Him, "whether present or absent." We don't know if our remaining days on earth are measured in years, months, weeks, or minutes. Our times are in His hands, and our goal is to do all the good we can on our way out of the tent. "Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him" (verse 9).
O Lord, help me to do all the good I can, by all the means I can, in all the ways I can, in all the places I can, in all the times I can, to all the people I can as long as ever I can.
THE BLIND MAN OF BETHSAIDA
And he looked up and said, "I see men like trees, walking."
Jesus never does anything half-way, but sometimes He does work in stages. In Mark 8, the disciples only partially understood His teachings and they didn't fully grasp what He was saying. "How is it you do not understand?" He asked (verse 21).
In verse 22, Jesus taught them a lesson. Meeting a blind man in Bethsaida, Jesus healed him in stages. At first, the man saw people as trees walking. Then Jesus put His hands on his eyes again, and his sight was restored 20/20.
This two-stage miracle is very encouraging. When we're confused about some aspect of Bible study, when life seems blurry, or when we're bothered by events we can't explain, we're seeing trees walking. But how wonderful to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior! As we walk with the Lord day by day, we find that our focus improves, our knowledge grows, our wisdom increases. And even if things are still a little blurry just now, we can be assured that with the Great Physician we'll understand it better by and by.
The simplicity of the Gospel gives what the complexity of human wisdom promises but never delivers.
There is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease. Though its root may grow old in the earth, and its stump may die in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches….
In 2004 in Sweden, researchers found the oldest known living plant on earth, a 13-foot-tall Norway spruce. The visible part of the tree—the part above ground—is about 600 years old; but the tree's roots predate Abraham. Whenever a stem or trunk dies, a new one emerges from the root stock, and that's what gives the tree its incredible longevity.
The Bible says we're like trees planted by the waters that spread our roots by the river (Jeremiah 17:8). We are told to be rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17) and rooted and built up in Him, established in the faith (Colossians 2:7). Jesus warned of the danger of springing up quickly, but, having no roots, withering away (Matthew 13:6).
Personal Bible study is the best way to sink your roots deeply into the faith. At the beginning of this New Year, make up your mind to read and meditate on God's Word daily. You'll be like a tree planted by rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in season (Psalm 1:3).
As a tree by the waters grows, in spite of drought all around it, so I, by drawing upon the life of Christ, grow into His strength.
W. PHILLIP KELLER
THE SOURCE OF EVERYTHING
But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You.
1 CHRONICLES 29:14
When it came time to build the first temple in Jerusalem, King David set the example by being the first to give. He gave 3,000 talents of gold and 7,000 talents of silver out of his pocket—about $3.14 billion and $106 million respectively in today's dollars. But then he surprised everyone by saying, in essence, "I'm giving away someone else's money."
When David prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for the resources given by all the people, he made it plain that whatever they had given came first from God. It's so easy for us to forget the origin of everything we own. Wherever you are right now, look around—everything you see is a gift from God. Those gifts include the eyes with which you see and the breath that keeps you alive. Every human heartbeat should be a silent refrain of thanksgiving to the God who created the heart and gives it life. Be careful today not to take credit for something that heaven first gave as a gift.
When we give to God, it is not a credit to our own creativity and resourcefulness, but to His.
Evangelical repentance is not at the beck and call of the creature. It is the gift of God.
A. W. PINK
LEARNING TO THINK ETERNALLY
Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.
In his book Maximum Achievement, corporate trainer Brian Tracy writes, "Virtually everything you do is the result of habit. The way you talk, the way you work, drive, think, interact with others, spend money and deal with the important people in your life are all largely habitual." But then he says, "The good news is that all habits are learned, and they can therefore be unlearned."1
It's easy to see the habits in our lives. We brush our teeth, dress ourselves, and drive to work the same way. Those habits may or may not need changing. But here's one habit we should definitely unlearn: our tendency to consider the temporal implications of life's choices and events before we consider the eternal. The apostle Paul learned to emphasize the eternal after meeting Christ. He said that his only goal was to know "Christ Jesus [his] Lord" (Philippians 3:8).
What do you think of first when deciding or reacting in life—the here and now or the life to come? Start a new habit based on today's events: Think first of the eternal difference your choices will make.
Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.
E. H. CHAPIN
Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
2 JOHN 8
There are two words that, at first glance, might not seem to go with one another: procrastination and priorities. We think of procrastinators as people who put off doing what should be done—that is, life's priorities. But that doesn't mean procrastinators put off everything. They do what is important to them—even procrastinators have priorities!
And that applies to everyone. All of us have things we choose to do each day based on our personal set of values. And if the disciplines of the spiritual life are continually excluded from our day—week after week, month after month—then it means they don't have the value in our lives that would move them higher on our list of priorities. We need to be honest with ourselves and with God. Calling ourselves Christians, but failing to manifest Christlike characteristics in our life—prayer, service, acts of compassion, study of God's Word, worship—sets up a disconnect for which we will one day give account.
Take stock today. Are you procrastinating about the real priorities in your spiritual life? This would be a good day to move them higher on your "To-Do" list.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done.
Book of Common Prayer, "GENERAL CONFESSION"
GRACE TO GIVE
But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace [of giving] also.
2 CORINTHIANS 8:7
How often do you use, or hear others use, the word "grace" in conversation? It is one of the most often-used words in Christianity, but one of the hardest to define. For instance, "grace" is the word at the root of spiritual gifts in the New Testament, and as such represents special favor or ability from God. Grace, directly or indirectly, almost always refers to power or ability from God to live supernaturally.
For that reason, when it came time for Paul to ask the church at Corinth to participate in his financial rescue plan for the suffering church in Jerusalem, he knew it would only happen by the grace of God. Why? Because he was asking people with few and limited means to give generously. So in 2 Corinthians 8:1-9 the word "grace" appears four times, and twice more in chapter nine on the same subject. It takes God's grace to give, and even more grace to give sacrificially—the same kind of grace Jesus Christ displayed when He intentionally became poor that we might be made rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).
If you struggle to give, ask God to give you grace.
A giving Saviour should have giving disciples.
J. C. RYLE
THESE OLD SKINFLINTS
Freely you have received, freely give.
According to Clive Anderson's book, Travel with C. H. Spurgeon, one day the great London pastor spoke to a group about his various ministries for the impoverished and destitute of the city. Afterward he passed his hat around for the collection. No one put anything into it, and some in the crowd wondered what Spurgeon would do next. The famous preacher simply bowed in prayer and said, "I thank you, O Lord, that at least these old skinflints have given me my hat back!"
There's no shortage of "skinflints," but how different to be in the presence of those who radiate grace! How wonderful to be a Grace-Giver. We may not always have much to give, but there's something wonderful about being generous with our time, treasure, and talents—ready to give an extra dollar, spend an extra moment, tackle an extra task, or go an extra mile.
It's not enough just to return the hat. We should put something into it. God's grace is freely given that we might freely give.
As thou, Lord, hast lived for others, so may we for others live; freely have Thy gifts been granted, freely may Thy servants give.
OUR BILLFOLDS GO ALONG FOR THE RIDE
I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD….
1 CHRONICLES 28:2
According to economists, some industries seem virtually recession proof. During the current downturn, spending on pets has increased, as has spending on candy. Fast food hasn't taken much of a hit, nor has doling out money for entertainment and recreation. Despite some belt-tightening and lifestyle adjustments, we usually find ways of spending on the things that are important to us.
How we manage what God has given us is a leading indicator of our priorities.
In 1 Chronicles 28, King David had a leadership conference for his government officials. He rose to his feet and addressed the group, giving them a vision of the temple he longed to build for the Lord in Jerusalem. It was in his heart. As a result, he dedicated his own fortune to the project, and he challenged his leaders to do the same, saying, "Who then is willing to consecrate himself this day to the LORD?" (1 Chronicles 29:5)
When we consecrate ourselves to the Lord, our billfolds go along for the ride.
Money requires discipline, as do the decisions that money makes possible.
FRED SMITH, SR.
SAUL OF TARSUS
Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.
How strange that Saul of Tarsus was blinded by the very light that would soon light up his life! Journeying toward Damascus to imprison Christians, he fell to the ground when a sudden light burst on him. It was the glorified Jesus, which tells us something wonderful about our Lord's current appearance in the heavens.
Psalm 104 (NIV) says that the Lord wraps Himself in light as a garment. In 1 Timothy 6:16, we read that He dwells in unapproachable light. When John saw Him in Revelation 1, "His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength." In the Eternal City, there will be no need for sun or moon, for the Lamb is its light. And on the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples saw Jesus resplendent in a portion of the glory that is eternally His.
By faith, we can walk in the light of His presence now. We can visualize our glorified Jesus, seated on the throne of heaven and be reflectors of His light today. "They looked to Him and were radiant" (Psalm 34:5).
I know that the light of His presence with me doth continually dwell.
GOD'S HARVEST LAW
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
Why are Isaac Newton's three Laws of Motion (inertia, resultant force, reciprocal action) and his Law of Universal Gravitation (Law of Gravity) called laws? Why is Michael Faraday's Law of Induction (law of electromagnetism) called a law? Because they are universal physical certainties that have never been proved not to govern the situations to which they apply.
Just as there are laws in the physical realm, so there are laws in the spiritual realm. One found in Galatians 6:7 is the universal Law of the Harvest: "… for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." That spiritual law is based on observations from the first-century world of agriculture: plant a seed and, absent unnatural forces, it will germinate and lead to a harvest. Paul applied that universal law to spiritually-based actions. If we sow a godly action, we will reap a godly blessing. If we sow an ungodly action, we reap godly discipline or judgment. Strangely, people who know the Law of Gravity applies to them feel they are exempt from the effects of God's Harvest Law.
Before you act this week, decide what kind of harvest you want to reap—and sow accordingly.
Holiness in the seed shall have happiness in the harvest.
He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and…."
In the book, Teaching Children Physical Education, George Graham warns against letting school teams "choose up sides." He rightly says the custom is "excruciatingly painful to children and creates lasting, haunting impressions as adults." It "should be banned from schools—against the law. It simply hurts too much to stand and wait, only to be picked last or next to last."1
If this brings back bad memories of gym class, you know what he's talking about.
But what happens when we pick God last?
Lord, I will follow You, but first let me earn a living, raise a family, take a trip, pay the bills, get an education, enjoy myself, go out with my buddies, have a little fun, save up some money.
Jesus Christ isn't something we include in the mix of events that makes up our lives. He is someone whom we call Master, Lord, and King. He's the First who orders all other events according to His will. We can never say, "Lord, let me first…," but "Lord, You are First!"
"Christ… is first in everything" (Colossians 1:18, NLT).
Oh! Yes, I do love Jesus, because He first loved me.
CHARLES H. SPURGEON
TO BE FOUND FAITHFUL
Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
1 CORINTHIANS 4:2
Steward" used to be a common concept, most notably in the form of a "stewardess"—when airline flight attendants were all females. Now, stewards are mostly found in labor unions (shop steward), fancy restaurants (wine steward), and cruise ships (ship's steward).
The earliest, and still the best, biblical example of a steward is Joseph—the favorite son of Jacob who was sold as a slave into Egypt by his jealous brothers. So rich was the blessing of God on Joseph that his Egyptian master, the wealthy Potiphar, made Joseph the overseer and manager (steward) of his entire household. Joseph was responsible for everything: finances, the other servants and employees, and Potiphar's reputation as it related to all his affairs. A steward's chief occupation is to do what his master would want done. A steward's responsibilities can be summed up in two words—loyalty and faithfulness.
- On Sale
- Dec 21, 2011
- Page Count
- 384 pages