Tuesday, May 31, 2011

+DEV+ In Christ: Our Refuge

Date: May 31, 2011 10:16 PM
Topic: +DEV+ In Christ: Our Refuge

In Christ: Our Refuge

"To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth." (ISAIAH 54:9)
Scripture Focus: Isaiah 54:9-10

The Old Testament is filled with types of Christ. The story of Noah contains one of those. The people had become exceedingly wicked and did evil continually. God became grieved and decided to remove mankind from the face of the earth. However, in the midst of this wickedness, there was a righteous man named Noah.

God instructed Noah to build a big boat and bring into the boat his family and two of every kind of creature on the earth. When this was accomplished, God sent a flood that covered the earth and took the lives of all who were not inside.

After several months, Noah found that the land had dried again, and his family came out of the boat to what was essentially a new earth. They began to multiply and again fill the earth.

That boat is a picture of Christ. We who have been called in Christ are preserved when the judgment comes and will, like Noah and his family, come out on the other side into a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Our refuge is in Him

Insight: Are You In The Boat? Believe On The Lord Jesus Christ And You Will Be Saved.

+DEV+ The Source of Victory

Date: May 31, 2011 2:59 AM
Topic: +DEV+ The Source of Victory

The Source of Victory

"Praise be to the God and Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." (EPHESIANS 1:3)
Scripture Focus: Ephesians 1:3-10

When attempting to explain the greatness of this mystery we have in Christ, a pastor once said, "It takes just a second to get saved, but then we spend the rest of our lives finding out what happened."

Often there is a moment in time when we consciously respond to the call of God to believe the gospel and receive Christ as our Savior. Then we begin to understand things like the fact that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Think about that: every spiritual blessing that is possible is ours in Christ right now. Those blessings are not something we work at gaining; they are ours now. What are those spiritual blessings? More than I can delineate in this limited space! Consider forgiveness, love, holiness, joy, and peace, to name a few. Later Paul prays that we will be strengthened in our inner man so we will be able to grasp this. You see, without God's grace, it is incomprehensible. The blessing we have in Christ that brings victory over sin is that great.

Insight: Take Time To Consider The Spiritual Blessings Given To You In Christ; Then, Bask In The Glory Of The One Who Gave Them.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

+DEV+ Power to Grasp

Date: May 29, 2011 10:06 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Power to Grasp

Power to Grasp

"And I pray that you, may have power, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge." (EPHESIANS 3: 17B-19A)
Scripture Focus: Ephesians 3:14-19

Some prayers won't be answered until we are with Christ after the consummation of all things. I believe this prayer of Paul is one of those. Paul prays that we would have the power to know the full depths of God's love that surpasses knowledge.

God is infinite; therefore, His love is infinite in its depths. We humans are finite and, in this life, broken - even though we may be redeemed.

A fresh insight into God from the Bible always brings a joyful thrill, a delight, to the heart of a believer. You might call it a Holy Spirit inspired "Eureka!" experience. We will be able to enjoy that fantastic thrill throughout eternity because we will continually know our Savior better. We'll find perfect delight and utter joy in the eternal and infinite love of God.

Paul ends this prayer, "to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen." This forever prayer is open to all who believe the gospel. There are no secrets reserved only for the "initiated."

Insight: As Vast As The Universe Is, It Is Minuscule Compared To The Infinite Creator. Contemplate God's Love That Surpasses Of Our Immense Universe.

Friday, May 27, 2011

+DEV+ Inheritance Guaranteed

Date: May 27, 2011 1:16 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Inheritance Guaranteed

Inheritance Guaranteed

"Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of his glory." (EPHESIANS 1:13B-14)
Scripture Focus: Ephesians 1:11-14

For those who have never lived on a ranch or farm with cattle, think of a Western movie with cattle ranchers. Picture the scene with the branding irons heating up in the fire. When the cow is thrown to the ground and tied, one of the ranch hands brings the branding iron out of the fire to press it against the animal. Smoke goes up with a stench of burnt flesh and hair. That mark is permanent and proves ownership of the rancher. It says, "This is mine! Don't mess with it."

In Christ, you have also been branded, though not with an external mark. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit that identifies you as being in Christ. The presence of the Holy Spirit in your heart says to the enemy, Satan, "This is God's child! Don't mess with him."

Not only does the Holy Spirit identify you as being God's child in Christ, He also is your guarantee of the final inheritance of heaven. So you are identified as belonging to Christ and guaranteed the full inheritance of a son or daughter of God in heaven.

Insight: Since God is 100% for you, who can be against you? The Holy Spirit has sealed you in Christ and Guaranteed your full inheritance.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

+DEV+ Liberty in Christ Jesus

Date: May 24, 2011 12:37 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Liberty in Christ Jesus

Liberty in Christ Jesus

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened against a yoke of slavery." (GALATIANS 5:1)
Scripture Focus: Galatians 2:1-10

Solomon said, "There is nothing new under the sun." Today, we still fight the battles that Paul fought in the first century. One of those is legalism, the notion that in order for us to either gain or maintain God's favor, we have to keep particular rules. In Paul's ministry, it was largely Jewish law.

The Galatian believers accepted that one could come to faith and be a member of God's household, but in order to maintain God's favor, they insisted that perfect obedience was required. Paul's response was strong. "We did not give in to them [the teachers of legalism] for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you" (Galatians 2:5).

The truth of the gospel is that our relationship with God is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. We can do nothing to bolster our relationship with Him. We have liberty from legalism in Christ. His favor rests on us even in our imperfections and flaws. There is no condemnation for those like you and me who are in Christ Jesus.

Insight: The liberty of grace prompts overflowing gratitude to God for His salvation that transforms our lives from the inside out.

"Let us not forget to pray for those in Joplin Missouri"

Monday, May 23, 2011

+DEV+ The Ultimate Arrival

Date: May 23, 2011 1:12 AM
Topic: +DEV+ The Ultimate Arrival

The Ultimate Arrival

"...For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority." (COLOSSIANS 2:9-10)
Scripture Focus: Colossians 1:3-14

People everywhere want fulfillment, satisfaction, value and purpose. We pursue it in our careers, in our families, in our personal interests. But something always seems to be missing. Some will go to great lengths seeking advice from "professionals" or invest time and money for courses which "reveal the secrets of the universe" to make them whole.

The Creator of the universe, the One who is self-sufficient and in need of nothing - not seeking fulfillment, not looking for satisfaction, not trying to find value or discover His purpose - has arranged for pure fellowship with all who are in Christ. If you are in Christ, in Him you find your fulfillment, your great satisfaction, your absolute value and your ultimate purpose which is to glorify God and fully enjoy Him forever.

You need not seek a wise man or pay thousands of dollars to learn the secrets of the universe, for "in Christ all the fullness of Deity lives," and in Him you are complete. You've been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Insight: If you are striving to understand your purpose for being, look to Jesus Christ, for in Him you have been made complete

Friday, May 20, 2011

+DEV+ Justified as a Gift

Date: May 19, 2011 11:59 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Justified as a Gift

Justified as a Gift

"...and justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (ROMANS 3:24)
Scripture Focus: Romans 3:21-26

The notion of righteousness has two prominent meanings in the Bible. We readily identify with the notion of our conduct: behave righteously; be consistent with God's character. But even at our best, we fall short of this ideal.

This inability to fully live in accordance with God's righteous character is what necessitates the other notion of righteousness. This is something that is positively added to our credit. It isn't just not sinning; it is a positive entry in our account. Not sinning is like not owing anything - a zero balance. But having Christ's righteousness attributed to us is like having a bank account with an unlimited positive balance. You are unable to even use it all up!

This is also referred to as justification. Paul says that we are justified "as a gift." When we come to faith in Christ, not only are our sins or debts forgiven, but we are supplied with a righteousness bank account that has an unlimited balance in it. It is God's gracious free gift to us. Receive His gift today.

Insight: Living righteously comes about as we learn to live on the unlimited righteous balance in our Heavenly bank account that was given to us in Christ.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

+DEV+ By His Doing

Date: May 18, 2011 1:26 AM
Topic: +DEV+ By His Doing

By His Doing

"By his doing you are in Christ Jesus”,
“Let him who boasts, boast in the LORD." (1 CORINTHIANS 1:30-31)
Scripture Focus: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

It is a natural perception that anything we have of value, we have earned. My financial status is a measurement of my productivity and, for many of us, that translates into personal worth.

It is then logical to believe that my standing with God is something I also have to earn. But that is not the way of the gospel. Earth-bound values don't translate to the kingdom of God.

Paul makes it clear to the Corinthians that neither human wisdom nor strength earn anything with God; otherwise we could boast in our wisdom and strength. It is "by His doing" that you are in Christ So boast in the Lord. Your being blessed in Christ is not dependent on you and your ability to persevere. It is "by His doing."

Delight yourself in the Lord. If our being in Christ is dependent on our performance, we will fall under constant pressure to do more. Rather than delighting, we'll be striving. It is the will of God that we find pleasure in Him. That is easy to do when our relationship to Him is "by His doing," not by our own efforts.

Insight: You will find great delight when you focus on what God has done on your behalf rather than on what you have done for Him.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

+DEV+ Encourage One Another

Date: May 17, 2011 12:08 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Encourage One Another

Encourage One Another

"If it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully." (ROMANS 12:8)
Scripture Focus: Romans 12:1-8

When I write or speak words of encouragement, I personally am performing a function for which I was created in Christ. I am, by God's design, an encourager. If I neglect to speak or write, I am depriving my fellow believers of some of the grace that God has placed in His church.

There are at least seven expressions of grace identified in Romans 12: prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, contribution, leading and mercy. These are all ways in which God reveals His love.

Paul speaks to his readers and us of offering ourselves as living sacrifices. The gifts with which we have been endowed are not to be kept to ourselves, but shared. We are actually giving something up. Yet how small our "sacrifice" is when we consider the immense surrender of Jesus Christ who gave His whole life for us. His sacrifice is the greatest plan for our lives; without it we wouldn't really have life at all. He came that we might have life, and have it to the full (see John 10:10). Now that's an encouragement!

Insight: Think about what God has uniquely gifted you with and share it with the Body of Christ and the world around you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

+DEV+ Stop the Struggle

Date: May 11, 2011 1:18 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Stop the Struggle

Stop the Struggle

"It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God - that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." (1 CORINTHIANS 1:30)

Scripture Focus: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

If you ask around to find out how people became Christians, the responses will vary. Some will say it was because of Billy Graham or because of their mother who faithfully prayed for them. Others attribute it to a friend who faithfully exemplified the Christian life so that when the time came, they were open to the gospel. All of these are valid means, but Scripture gives Someone else the credit.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians, "It is because of him (God the Father) that you are in Christ Jesus" Now that makes me feel better. Salvation is initiated by God, not by me. While I have never had the sense that the kingdom of God rested on my shoulders, I did feel that somehow I was responsible to make things happen, especially in the lives of others I know. What a relief! It is because of Him.

This doesn't take us out of God's plan. We need only be available for God's love so that the gospel is extended through us. We are instruments in His hands. The response in the heart of others is because of Him.

Do you find yourself pressured for Gospel results? Remind yourself that it is because of the Father that anyone is found in Christ.

Monday, May 9, 2011

+DEV+ Chosen in Him

Date: May 9, 2011 11:32 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Chosen in Him

Chosen in Him

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." (EPHESIANS 1:4)
Scripture Focus: Ephesians 1:1-14

Have you ever felt like you were living your life swimming upstream? Swimming upstream is difficult, if not impossible. You might make some headway in a wide, slow-moving river. But, if you are in whitewater rafting territory, forget it. You are going downstream, and no matter how hard you paddle, your strength will not save you. You might even die.

Instead, picture yourself seated in an unsinkable, inflated boat as you head down the river. It's inevitable; you will wind up downstream at your destination simply because you are in the boat, whitewater or not.

As a believer, you were chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the earth. Your destination, holiness and blamelessness before God, is assured because you are in the unsinkable boat: Christ. It is not because you've been "paddling" so hard to meet God's standard of holiness that you "arrive." It is because He is taking you. Be assured that when you "pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you" (Isaiah 43:2) because He is there!

Insight: Stop paddling. You are assured by God's choice to be blameless before Him. Worship Him today.

+DEV+ Our Victory in Christ

Date: May 9, 2011 1:58 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Our Victory in Christ

Our Victory in Christ

"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." (ROMANS 6:11)
Scripture Focus: Romans 6:8-14

Do you remember the Greek myth about the Trojan War? The story goes that after years of battle, the Greeks finally conceived a deception that would allow them to penetrate the city of Troy and give them victory. A large, hollow wooden horse was built. Some of the Greeks climbed into it while the rest sailed away with the Greek fleet. The Trojans, thinking the war was ended, moved the great horse inside the city walls. After dark, the Greeks slipped out of the horse and slaughtered the enemy. The secret to entry and victory was being "inside the horse."

We serve a Holy God who is wholly unapproachable. Were we to attempt to enter His presence on our own, we would be consumed by His holiness and our imperfection. But we have a "secret weapon." We have crawled into Christ, so to speak, and are hidden from view. The only thing He sees is His Holy Son who is perfection. We come to Him, not because of our own attributes, but purely because we are "in Christ" who gives us victory from sin.

Insight: God's providence ensures us that everything that happens to us is working for our ultimate good. Thank you, Lord!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

+DEV+ Set Free by the Gospel

Date: May 5, 2011 10:56 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Set Free by the Gospel

Set Free by the Gospel

"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons"
(Galatians 4:4-5).
Scripture Focus: Romans 5:12-14, Galatians 2:15-16

I wonder how long Adam and Eve lived the perfect life before even that wasn't enough to satisfy them. We would've failed just as miserably, and we have continued in our depravity. Every one of us is in dire need of a Savior.

Only through Jesus can we be set free from the chains of trying to justify ourselves. What tempted Adam and Eve so was the notion that they could take care of things themselves and "be like God." What sounded freeing to them was actually enslaving. That's how sin has always been in a person's life, from the moment he first visibly disobeys his parents to the time, when the tyranny of sin overwhelms or even lands a person in prison. We think it will free us, but it only binds us more.

Adam and Eve and all God's elect knew the promise of the Messiah to come, by way of the prophecies and their fulfillment. This was the Gospel which was preached from the beginning. They looked forward hopefully as we look back to the cross gratefully.

Insight: The Old and New Testaments are one book of life. Don't try to separate them. God is the same now as He was then.

+DEV+ The Final Prayer in the Bible

Date: May 5, 2011 1:49 AM
Topic: +DEV+ The Final Prayer in the Bible

The Final Prayer in the Bible

"We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" (Romans 8:26).
Scripture Focus: Romans 8:17-27

There is meant to be an element of groaning in our prayers, not just for us, but also for the world. It's a groaning that strains for the future like a woman in labor strains to give birth. Paul tells us the whole creation is groaning in eager anticipation of seeing the sons of God come into their glory and that the Holy Spirit is in us, groaning with that same desire.

We're meant to join in the groaning until we see justice done, suffering ended, and the whole earth filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.

We groan because we know the Lamb has triumphed, and that a new heaven and a new earth will burst forth one day as a result of His victory. We groan because we know Jesus is coming again, and as His bride we're looking forward to that day like it's the only day on the calendar. We groan because we have the first fruits of transformation in us; we long to be fully changed. Take comfort in the Holy Spirit's nearness through life's struggles.

Insight: "He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming quickly.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

+DEV+ What Jesus Wants

Date: May 3, 2011 10:35 PM
Topic: +DEV+ What Jesus Wants

What Jesus Wants

"After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: 'Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you'" (John 17:1).
Scripture Focus: John 17

It's the final hour. Jesus is in the upper room. He finishes teaching and then begins to pray - out loud so that we can hear. In John 17 we get to listen in on the eternal relationship between the Father and the Son. His prayer reveals the passionate desires He has for us. This is what He wants; this is what He asks:

That we be kept safe in the Father's name.

That we be set apart from the world by the truth.

That we experience the joy He has in His relationship with the Father.

That we be one as He and the Father are one, united in love with each other.

That we experience and understand the love the Father has for us.

That we be with Him and see Him as He is, in all His glory.

These are all the things that Jesus knew were the most important to lay before the throne of the Father. They still are most important. Jesus pours Himself out in prayer for us, and then He pours out His blood to make it happen.

Insight: "The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands" (John 3:35).

+DEV+ Growing Down, Not Up

Date: May 3, 2011 12:07 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Growing Down, Not Up

Growing Down, Not Up

"I am the vine; you are the branches, If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you" (John 15:5,7).
Scripture Focus: John 15

My children's generation was once dubbed the "boomerangs" because so many of them come back home to live with their parents. The economy has something to do with that trend ... it's not so easy to launch out on your own anymore.

Our culture values independence, but spiritually it's never the goal. The Lord doesn't want us to grow up and stand on our own two feet. Jesus wants us to remain, or abide, in a close, constantly dependent relationship with Him.

As believers we grow up by growing more and more dependent on Jesus. Living life on our own is a formula for anxiety, and Jesus wants to relieve us of that pressure. We can give Him all the burden of being grownups and move in with Him. We can trust Him to provide everything we need. It was my daughter Kate who showed me the connection between prayer and Jesus' command to remain in him. Abiding means spending intimate time with Jesus, drawing on Him as our life and asking and receiving from Him as we go through the day.

Insight: "Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will rescue you" (Isaiah 46:4).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

+DEV+ Slowing Down

Date: May 1, 2011 6:37 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Slowing Down

Slowing Down

"Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love"
(Psalm 48:9).
Scripture Focus: Psalm 48

Imagine vine-ripened summer tomatoes simmering in a pot with fresh herbs and garlic and sausage from the corner butcher. That's slow food. In 1989, the International Movement for the Defense of the Right to Pleasure was formed because "we have been enslaved by speed which disrupts our habits and forces us to eat fast food." Their remedy was a return to the leisurely pleasure of slowly prepared foods, cooked with fresh ingredients, savored over conversation with friends and family.

In this fast-paced world, we need "slow food" and we need to read the Bible like we're eating slow food. It restores our soul when we take time to meditate on God's Word. Meditation means savoring His words, pausing to consider them and to take them in. We don't meditate in isolation; we do it in conversation with Jesus, asking Him to teach us, to turn Scripture into nourishment for our faith, and to integrate it into our hearts. Meditation means slowing down and saying to Jesus, "Speak Lord, for you servant listens."

Insight: "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth" (Psalm 119:103).