Monday, February 28, 2011

+DEV+ Promise of the Dawn

Date: February 28, 2011 10:36 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Promise of the Dawn

Promise of the Dawn

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning" (Psalm 130:5-6).
Scripture Focus: Psalm 30:1-12

One translation reads "more than sentries wait for the dawn." I have a vivid memory of being on night guard duty in South Korea in the winter. I was training at a mountainous camp, south of Seoul, one of many of the 1st Signal Brigade. There was a sense of foreboding, and all felt the reality of war. As a sentry, I remember the pitch dark, the intense cold and the responsibility of the loaded rifle. Any noise, and one called out, "Who goes there?" But mostly, I remember eagerly waiting for the dawn. It was a strangely desolate experience.

So this verse springs off the page for me. The dawn always comes! If we are suffering in any way, our reading speaks to us. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." Literally it is "In the morning, Behold, Joy!" The joy comes as a surprise. And the unexpected dawn of a consoling vision of our beloved Lord will come just at the moment when we feel the night of suffering would last forever.

Insight: Are you suffering bereavement or some other sharp pain? Do you feel it will never end? Dawn will come. "The sun also rises" (Ecclesiastes 1:5).

Sunday, February 27, 2011

+DEV+ Promise of Holiness

Date: February 27, 2011 6:25 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Promise of Holiness

Promise of Holiness

"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy" (Leviticus 19:1-2, KJV).
Scripture Focus: John 17:6-19

I found this verse quite daunting when I first came to Christ. The standard of being holy as God is holy seemed to be far beyond my capacity. Then I came to see it as a promise as much as it is a command. It is precisely because God is holy that we will be holy.

In Jesus' prayer in our reading, He sets Himself apart, dedicates Himself to one goal: the saving of His people so that we might be set apart, holy, to Him.

The Father delights to answer Jesus' prayer. Jesus living in us by His Holy Spirit will be holy in and through us. Think not of being a haloed, statue of a saint, but rather of being, as one man has described, "the glory of God, a man fully alive." This holiness is authoritative, powerful and active, engaging the world and loving people without reserve.

This is the holiness of Jesus which He will exercise in us to defeat all the enemy's attempts to drag us down into sin and despair. Take heart, as I have!

Insight: Jesus has promised to make us holy. He lives in us as our new self. Are we strengthening our old self with unholy influences?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

+DEV+ Promise of Resurrection Power

Date: February 24, 2011 7:38 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Promise of Resurrection Power

Promise of Resurrection Power

"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death" (Philippians 3:10).
Scripture Focus: Philippians 3:1-14, Ephesians 1:15-23

After he was raised, Jesus promised His disciples power - power to witness for Him and power to exercise His authority in the fellowship.

This power also is available to us as believers in our personal lives; power not to sin, power through prayer to pull down strongholds (centers of besetting sin in our lives and in the lives of others).

It is not at all dependent on our own strength. In fact, the opposite is true. Paul says that he will actually boast about his weakness "so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9). This power is not something we can muster up; it is totally supernatural. As Paul explains, it is the power of the resurrection of Christ.

In Ephesians Paul prays for the disciples to experience the incredible greatness of the power (a Greek word similar to "dynamite") of Christ's resurrection. He prays they would know the energy of God's infinite strength and explosive force exercised in that event. We can ourselves know this incredible power to overcome sin and difficulties.

Insight: God's guidance in times of trouble is very clear, so start listening for His voice.

+DEV+ Promise of Peace

Date: February 24, 2011 12:02 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Promise of Peace

Promise of Peace

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever" (Isaiah 26:3-4, KJV).
Scripture Focus: John 14:23-27

According to the world, peace is simply the absence of war. In Hebrew "peace" (shalom) means complete well-being. It is resting in the shelter of the Almighty. When Jesus promises peace to His disciples, it is the peace in the soul that only He can give through the Holy Spirit. This is quite distinct from any peace the world offers - a mere absence of conflict or the removal of irksome difficulties. The Lord's peace can be experienced even in suffering and cannot be taken away.

The Amplified Bible translates Colossians 3:15 this way: "And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds]..." God's peace does not allow us to constantly be in turmoil of indecision, or an agony of regret, or to wallow in guilt.

Evan Roberts, evangelist of the 1905 Welsh revival, would often cry out to congregations, "Is there anything here too hard for the cross of Christ?"

Insight: Is there anything troubling you today? Do you think your problem is too great for the cross of Christ? Find peace in Him.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

+DEV+ Promise of Potential

Date: February 22, 2011 11:29 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Promise of Potential

Promise of Potential

"When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, 'The Lord is with you, mighty warrior'" (Judges 6:12).
Scripture Focus: Judges 6:11-40

The angel addresses Gideon as "you mighty hero." We could not have foreseen that description because we first encounter Gideon (vs. 11) in the winepress, threshing wheat there to hide it from the Midianites. The angel then says to Gideon, "Go in this thy might and thou shall save Israel..." What "might" is this? you may well ask. Gideon has just complained that the Lord deserted Israel. Later we see he doesn't wholly trust God. He thinks God will kill him because he has seen the angel's face. He asks God to prove Himself with the fleece. Later (8:27) after his astounding feats against the Midianites, Gideon fails God and Israel by setting up an idol.

How does all of that add up to "great hero"? Well, like us, Gideon was flawed, but God was with him and God had sent him. This will make Gideon into a hero and be his strength. God provided him with new potential, and he became the hero of the many exploits we read about in Judges because the real hero, the Lord, was behind him all the way.

Insight: God sees, not who I am, but who He is going to make me. Do you trust His promise of your potential?

Monday, February 21, 2011

+DEV+ Promise of Meaning

Date: February 21, 2011 8:53 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Promise of Meaning

Promise of Meaning

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).
Scripture Focus: Isaiah 45:5-19

God would not have us seek Him in vain, meaning in emptiness. He is a God of order. His first act in creation was to speak into the chaos and say, "Let there be light." Because He is a God of order, we do not live meaningless lives. He plans and gives meaning to the events of our lives even if we feel that they do not make sense at times. We are not at the mercy of some random and cruel destiny. Love's hand is on the tiller whatever the buffeting.

A submarine commander wrote to his mother just before he was lost at sea: "If I should die, just consider I have drowned in a pool in the hand of Jesus."

The God who made the greatest evil - the cruel death of the perfect man on a Roman cross - into the greatest good can give meaning even to the worst things in our lives, though they be painful or misunderstood at present.

A tapestry, which, when seen from behind, is a mere jumble of threads, presents a beautiful picture when seen from the front.

Insight: God is love and in charge of your life. Can you come to any ultimate harm? Commit to Him your life and all that happens.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

+DEV+ Promise of Fulfillment

Date: February 20, 2011 6:00 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Promise of Fulfillment

Promise of Fulfillment

"You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand" (Psalm 16:11).
Scripture Focus: John 16:12-24

Michelangelo painted sublime frescoes covering the Sistine Chapel in Rome; his sculpture of "David" towers over the Piazza in Florence. For 500 years he has been considered perhaps the greatest artist ever. When he was dying, he wrote this sonnet:

"Neither painting or sculpture can quieten
Any more the soul
Turned to that Divine Love
Who opened his arms on the cross
And takes us in."

Despite the undoubted fulfillment of his artistic achievements, Michelangelo realized that the greatest gift of all - salvation - comes only from the crucified hands of Jesus. This is the ultimate fulfillment.

Whatever His hand gives us to do, He will supply the inspiration to do it well. Whether in work or recreation, He will grant us fulfillment, joy and peace.

Seeking Him, we find our fulfillment.

Insight: To test whether anything will give us "fullness of joy," envisage it being given by the hand of Jesus.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

+DEV+ Promise of Significance

Date: February 17, 2011 8:23 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Promise of Significance

Promise of Significance

"'They will be mine,' says the Lord Almighty, 'in that day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them...'" (Malachi 3:17).
Scripture Focus: Song of Solomon 4:1-15

Am I fully aware that God delights in me? He does, just as a bridegroom delights in his bride! Zephaniah 3:17 tells us, "He will rejoice over you with singing."

It is this love which led Jesus to the cross. "God was in Christ" shouldering the blame, taking the shame. While we were still spurning His love, He took our separation from God and suffered an eternity of pain for us. He did this because He delights in us. Through this He has given us our significance and our worth.

In verse 16 Malachi says, "Those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name" (Malachi 3:16). I shared these verses with a friend who hadn't heard them before. But when he considered Malachi's words, an amazed smile spread over his face as it dawned on him that God delighted in him. It is truly marvelous that God considers us His treasure. Dare we value ourselves less?

Insight: Do I look anywhere else for significance? Do I look to others, abilities, qualifications, or occupations? Our true significance does not lie there.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

+DEV+ Promise of Guidance

Date: February 16, 2011 9:03 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Promise of Guidance

Promise of Guidance

"And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, 'This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left'" (Isaiah 30:21, KJV).
Scripture Focus: Psalm 23

I once knew someone who would wait for guidance before buying any particular brand of cornflakes in the supermarket. It must have taken an age to get around the store!

When we were youth leaders, sincere youngsters would sometimes get themselves into a paralysis of indecision about choices they faced. God guides us often by our prayerful weighing up of pros and cons and by opening some doors or closing others.

Our verse says that we receive guidance "when" we turn to the left or right. There is no merit in standing indecisively at the crossroads. The Lord does not guide by magical means. A man came to a fork in the road and threw a stick into the air. It landed, pointing up one road. He threw it again. When it landed, it pointed up the other road, so he went. An observer asked him why he threw the stick in the air. He replied, "I go the way the stick points." When he asked why he didn't go the way it pointed the first time, he replied, "Oh, I didn't want to go that way."

Insight: Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators, said, "God gave us a lot of guidance when he gave us a head!"
"Obama Lied, Americans Died, Bad Change!"

+DEV+ Promise of Steadfastness

Date: February 16, 2011 12:55 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Promise of Steadfastness

Promise of Steadfastness

"Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered for ever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord" (Psalm 112:6-7).
Scripture Focus: 1 Corinthians 15:51-58

The King James Version of this passage says "his heart is fixed." Similarly, Isaiah 26:3: You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is fixed on you." This "fixing" of our hearts is the essence of steadfastness.

Job was unwavering in heart when he cried out, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him" (Job13:15). To be fixed is to be like Abraham of whom it is said that when all hope was gone, he still hoped, knowing that God would never let His word fail. God's promises will always be kept.

A story goes that a man walking along a cliff slips over the edge. He clings to a sapling and is hanging over a sheer drop, hundreds of feet. He yells, "Is there anyone up there? Help! Help!" He hears a voice saying, "This is God. Just let go! I will catch you and set you safely on the ground." There is silence and then an even louder, frantic cry: "Is there anyone else up there?"

There is no one else up there and no one else anywhere as steadfast as He!

Insight: Perhaps our hearts are not as fixed as they should be? Let us ask God today to fix our hearts fully on Him.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

+DEV+ Promise to Blot Out Our Sins

Date: February 15, 2011 12:58 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Promise to Blot Out Our Sins

Promise to Blot Out Our Sins

"...Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross" (Colossians 2:14, KJV).
Scripture Focus: Isaiah 43:16-25

I am no computer whiz, but apparently experts have ways of retrieving old memory which has been canceled on the computer. Some trace is always left behind.

It is not like that for us. The Lord says in Isaiah 1:18, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." We might suspect that these days forensics might be able to reveal some staining! Not so, however, because the Lord removes all possible suspicion of that. The Greek word for "blotting out" means wiping a slate, totally obliterating what was there before. Our sins do not belong to us anymore. Our slate is clean. God took them on Himself, nailing them to the cross.

Always ready to beat ourselves up, we then say what about our on-going sinfulness? Martin Luther said, "The remnant of sin is not laid to our charge but freely pardoned. Sometimes we fall into sin, yet we are not discouraged and must not think that our state of life displeases God lest we despair, but we raise ourselves up through faith!"

Insight: Luther does not excuse flying in the face of the known will of God. He is addressing our weaknesses as Christians trying to obey God.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

+DEV+ Valuing the Promises

Date: February 13, 2011 8:19 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Valuing the Promises

Valuing the Promises

"He [Moses] regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures in Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward" (Hebrews 11:26).
Scripture Focus: Hebrews 11:1-40

The 17th Century Scottish pastor, Samuel Rutherford said, "I know not a thing worth the buying but heaven." Heaven was such a reality to him that it was the only thing worth investing in.

Perhaps it is because we don't like to think about hell or that we value heaven less than we should. As believers, heaven is the reward. Jesus spoke of it as entering into the joy of the Master. Jesus himself endured the cross for the joy set before Him.

Often the faith of some believers in God's promises is eroded by short-term thinking. When a dear one is ill, they cling to the promise that the Lord is Healer. They pray, but sometimes death prevails. It seems God's promise has failed. If told that sometimes God's promise of full healing is fulfilled only in heaven, they think that this is a cop-out and wonder whether they can trust His promises. Verse 39 points out that none of the heroes of faith listed received on earth what had been promised. But in heaven they did receive the promise and the reward.

Insight: Jesus so valued heaven that He suffered hell for us on the cross. Does this not give us profound respect for the reward of heaven?

Friday, February 11, 2011

+DEV+ Promises Fulfilled in Jesus

Date: February 11, 2011 12:21 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Promises Fulfilled in Jesus

Promises Fulfilled in Jesus

"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God" (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Scripture Focus: 2 Corinthians 1:12-22

All God's promises are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He lived them, implements them at the right hand of God (the place of power), and brings them to fruition through the indwelling Spirit. So how can any of His promises ever fail or not capture our hearts with authority and power?

Richard Sibbes, the 16th Century Puritan, said "For any good I hope from God, I must have a promise." That is why it is important we ask the Lord to show us His promises, both general and personal, in His Word. Otherwise our experience of God will not reach its full potential, and our trust in Him will not grow. Hebrews 10:23 says, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." 1 Thessalonians 5:24 reminds us, "The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."

Sibbes also said that the promise is the plate on which the Bread of Life is found: It carries Christ who is the meal. The promise is the menu, but Jesus is the meal itself.

Insight: We gain no sustenance by eating the plate or the menu. Let us feast on the Bread of Life in the Word and in prayer.

Monday, February 7, 2011

+DEV+ Poor Promises, Good Promises

Date: February 8, 2011 12:29 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Poor Promises, Good Promises

Poor Promises, Good Promises

"Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he" (Isaiah 2:22)?
Scripture Focus: Isaiah 2:5-22

The essence of trusting God's promises is trusting the God who makes them. In the rather philosophical film "Revolutionary Road," someone says to the principal character, "You have put your trust in a promise no one ever made to you." That is a broken reed indeed!

Many put their trust in human promises. For instance, the remedies from self-help literature promise the earth and do not deliver. The thing about God is that He is the only one who can always deliver. He has the will, and He has the power to perform His promises. The 18th Century English writer, William Romaine, wrote to a friend, "As I was going along the road, I heard a voice saying, 'CEASE YE FROM MAN, from yourself, from others: put no confidence in them. Put not your trust in princes, not in any child of man, be he wise, or great, or good. Nay, look not at them, but with a single eye, look unto Jesus.'"

He set out on a new path of not heeding other promises but only the promises of God.

Insight: In difficulties do we look first to our own understanding or to others' advice? Put your fundamental trust in the Lord Jesus.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

+DEV+ God's Gracious Promises

Date: February 6, 2011 8:39 PM
Topic: +DEV+ God's Gracious Promises

God's Gracious Promises

"For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless...Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace..." (Romans 4:14, 16).
Scripture Focus: Romans 4:1-16

Human promises are fallible. All denominations of English pound notes bear the caption "The Bank of England promises to pay the bearer on demand the sum of __ pounds." Especially in the current economic climate, they are unlikely to be of the same value in the future as they are today.

God's promises are gracious. That is, there is nothing we can do to earn them. God's gift of eternal life in His Son is all of grace (Great Riches At Christ's Expense).

The new covenant with us is not a contract: God does something for us if we do something reciprocal for Him. I spent a large part of my career in a business based on contractual relationships. No, Christ loved us and died for us when we were still sinners. That is the graciousness of God's dealing.

The Christian life is all about God's promises to us, not about our promises to Him. He is the Promise Keeper while our New Year resolutions fade before January is out! "If we are faithless, he will remain faithful" (2 Timothy 2:13).

Insight: Nothing devalues God's promises. They are free and infinitely valuable. We can confidently cash them right now at the Bank of Faith by prayer!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

+DEV+ God Gives Good Promises

Date: February 3, 2011 11:48 PM
Topic: +DEV+ God Gives Good Promises

God Gives Good Promises

"'Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses'" (1 Kings 8:56).
Scripture Focus: 2 Peter 1:3-21

"Promises, promises," we say when we know there is little hope of their fulfillment. That is the world's cynicism and perhaps our thinking, too, since people do often break promises. Likely, those were bad promises to begin with.

But God deals with us by good promises. He means us to fasten on to His promises, and He loves to have us claim them from Him in prayer. He loves to hear us ask for what He longs to give.

Solomon blesses God because God has kept the promise that He made to Israel through Moses "that he will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops...and your flocks...You will be blessed more than any other people" (Deuteronomy 7:13-14).

Solomon was dedicating the Temple, which itself had been promised, and saw that all God's promises to Moses had been kept. How humbling it must have been for God's often-grumbling people to hear these words. Their God - your God! - never fails.

Insight: Have we based our lives once and for all on the God who cannot lie? Will we stake everything on the promises of His Word?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

+DEV+ God's First Promise

Date: February 2, 2011 10:57 PM
Topic: +DEV+ God's First Promise

God's First Promise

"...a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time" (Titus 1:2).
Scripture Focus: Proverbs 8:22-31

This is Wondrous! God promised before the world began to give his people (not yet created) eternal life - everlasting joy in His presence! This was His purpose in creating us. And this was given us in Christ before all time.

This promise makes me keenly aware that my future is not dependent on my past or my present. Nor does it rest on any aspect of my life - my shortcomings and misdeeds, any virtues I may have. My future is founded entirely and securely on God's promise eons before I ever was. My eternal being is rooted in God's ageless plan. What security that gives us!

My destiny, therefore, is founded on God's character not on mine, on His promise, not on any I might make. And our aim in sharing this good news is that others might also become heirs of this promise, made before time began, in Christ.

As our hearts are warmed to Him for His tremendous love, we say with Paul, "O, the depth of the riches of wisdom and knowledge of God!"

Insight: Do we grasp that God's promise of eternal life is not based on our doing? It was made in God's heart before we were created.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

+DEV+ He Works Through My Weakness

Date: February 1, 2011 11:43 PM
Topic: +DEV+ He Works Through My Weakness

He Works Through My Weakness

"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, 'So shall your offspring be'" (Romans 4:18).
Scripture Focus: Genesis 22:1-18, Hebrews 11:17-19

God promised Abraham that He'd bless him and make his descendants a great nation which would be a blessing to all nations (Genesis 12:2).

Then Abraham had to wait until he and his wife were very old before the promised heir, Isaac was born. Imagine Abraham's feelings when he was then asked by God to sacrifice Isaac as an offering to God. How could that be? Was God breaking His promise that his descendants would bless the world?

But Abraham trusted in God. He didn't know how, but one way or another God was going to honor His promise. And God did just that. This faith, credited to him as righteousness, is the saving faith of Galatians 3:6-9.

The blessing is ours when we put our trust in Jesus as our Savior; we believe He is whom God's Word declares Him to be, and we receive Him into our hearts and are born again. His is the foundation promise, the gateway for us to become heirs of the promise of eternal life (see 1 John 2:25).

Insight: The faith that justifies us is the faith that trusts His promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Have you trusted in that promise?

+DEV+ Unexpected Answer

Date: February 1, 2011 1:42 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Unexpected Answer

Unexpected Answer

"Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door...she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it..." (Acts 12:13).
Scripture Focus: Acts 12:1-17

Do you sometimes pray with a degree of skepticism? Even while you're asking God to show the way out of your financial ruin or to take the cancer away or to grant comfort in the recent loss of a loved one, you don't actually expect to see "an answer" from God.

In today's reading, an angel miraculously freed Peter from jail. The fervent prayers of Peter's friends had been answered just as they'd hoped! Rhoda quickly recognized Peter's voice and God's answer to prayer. The other friends' cynical response when Rhoda told them he was at the door indicates their lack of faith.

How often do we pray for others, only to lose faith the longer we wait? The beauty of this story isn't just God sparing Peter's life; it's also God's willingness to allow skeptics to recognize His hand and share in the joy of God's answer.

Rejoice when God provides finances, healing, or comfort. Realize He may choose not to provide those. But above all trust Him and rest in His care.

Insight: You can believe in God's answers to prayer! Rejoice in His miracles, and tell others of His faithfulness.