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  • You Must Come Down

    07/07/2020

    Day 188: You Must Come Down


    Philippians 2:5

    5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  


    Have you ever felt as if Jesus were distant? You must come down. You've gotten too high. You can't praise Him when you're up there. It's easy to do, you know. A little bit of success goes to your head. Things are going smoothly. You're handling yourself well. Yes, sir, you must come down.


    Jesus stooped from Eternity's Throne, to dwell within the bounds of limitation. He condescended further than that, all the way to a lowly manger in Judah's smallest town among some of Judah's poorest residents. He was raised by a humble carpenter and brought up in the dusty village of Nazareth, not even in the excellent Rabbinical schools of Jerusalem.


    You must come down.


    Lower.


    He doesn't even have a home. He's handpicked a ragtag bunch, a dozen men to be exact, to follow Him as He preaches His itinerant ministry in the countryside. He doesn't even set up shop in the big town. He had all the most exceptional schools to choose from, yet He bypasses the lofty heights of the religious intellectualism for the common ones. Some were even less than standard. About four of them were fishers. One was a rebel, and one a tax-collector. These men were the opposite of high. You must come down.


    He's poor. He's derided. He's hated. You won't find Him hanging with the high-societal folk, but with the bums in the slums, whores and sinners, demon-possessed, and drunkards. Not the likes of the proud and lofty. You must come down.


    If the presence of Jesus is distant, come a little lower. Watch as they take Him in chains, tying Him to a post, and beating Him. They've ripped the skin and muscle from His back. He doesn't pull a gun. He doesn't yell insults. He doesn't defend Himself. This makes absolutely no sense at all. Every ounce in me screams as I read this story, DO SOMETHING!! He does. He lowers Himself. He takes every bit of it. He gets nailed between two thieves. You must come down.


    This High and Holy Jesus, having never sinned, is being crucified with wicked, vile men? This is insane! Not a grumble comes from His lips. He cries out to His Father in agony as His soul is made sin for the sinner, and He gives up the fight.


    Where will you find Jesus? Way up there. He is seated at the right hand of God. You can't get any higher than that!


    Philippians 2:9

    9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  


    How can you get there? You must come down. The way up is down. Praise God! I don't have to climb the highest peak to get there! I don't have to dig to China to get there! I just have to humble myself in His sight. He'll meet me right where I am.


    Isaiah 66:1–2 (AV) — 1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.  


    He's waiting for you. Just come down. He'll receive you, not up there, but down here. It's good to be in His presence. You'll know you're getting close when all your scars start showing, and your sins aren't so quiet to your conscience anymore. 


    Jesus took those 12 men and changed the world. So when an atheist says God doesn't exist, I mean, You must come down. Death and Hell, the Devil, and the Roman Empire couldn't stop Jesus and His ragtag group of 12 men, and you think you're that big to say, It's all fake? I pity you. Come down. Your eyes will get opened down here.


    1. When the Deck is Stacked Against You

      07/06/2020

      Day 188: When the Deck is Stacked Against You


      2 Chronicles 20:12

      12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.  


      No one likes a game that's rigged unless you are the one who rigged it.


      Our life's circumstances at times seem as if we are in a game that has been rigged, and we are set to lose. I am speaking to the Christian. We know the end game, and we know God wins, but we want to see present, glorious victory now, do we not?


      Judah wanted to see victory. They'd experienced a great revival under the leadership of king Jehoshaphat. But now, all that they saw God do and all that they worked so hard for was now under threat of immediate annihilation. They were outnumbered ten to one. "We have no might against this great company."


      Well, somebody needs to do something, right? That's the thought that runs through our minds.


      But faith teaches another lesson about what not to do.


      Do not take matters into your own hands.


      One of the hardest tests of faith is when God allows our circumstances to box us in and makes victory in our strength impossible. Moses and the children of Israel experienced this when they were camped at the Red Sea. One little teenager named David, with only a slingshot, experienced it when facing a giant warrior with armor and spear. The disciples of Jesus experienced it as they watched helplessly as they laid the body of Jesus in the tomb. It is not out of the norm for the life of faith.


      Faith teaches us this lesson:


      "But our eyes are upon thee."


      A. B. Simpson said:


      A life was lost in Israel because a pair of human hands were laid unbidden upon the ark of God. They were placed upon it with the best intent, to steady it when trembling and shaking as the oxen drew it along the rough way; but they touched God's work presumptuously, and they fell paralyzed and lifeless. Much of the life of faith consists in letting things alone.


      The worst thing that we can do in these situations is anything at all. We feel we must do something! And there is one thing and one thing alone we can do:


      We train our hearts to look up to our El-Shaddai, our Almighty God. He will deliver, and He will do it to maximize His glory.


      It's in those moments of trying that I have to remind myself that I've been in this place before. Every time I tried to work out my deliverance, I ended up making matters worse. It's only when with the eye of faith that I looked upon God and praised Him for His faithfulness and mercy did I begin to see my situation change.


      The deck may be stacked against you, my friend, but God overrules the enemy's hand.


      Isaiah 54:17

      17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.  





      1. Praise After Failure

        07/05/2020

        Day 187: Praise After Failure


        Philippians 3:13

        13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,  


        There is no greater moment of triumph for the devil than when God’s people fail and stay down; neither is there a greater opportunity for God to show just how amazing grace is. 


        Ecclesiastes 7:20

        20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.  


        You know the devil likes to accuse you, right? He wants you to wallow in your failure so that he might define you by it. Don’t let him. Yes, you shouldn’t have sinned. Yes, you disobeyed, and there will be consequences. But that’s not the end of the story. When we sin, we come to a fork in the road. We can either get it right with Jesus or allow our sins to remain upon us and allow guilt to drive us to do worse things. YOU are human, and humans (thanks to Adam) have a high inclination to do wrong. My preacher always says, “The only thing you need to do to backslide is to do nothing.” We have the natural gravitational pull, like a black hole, that pulls us toward certain destruction.


        Thank God we don’t have to fight that pull of sin alone! (Unless we wallow in self-pity) We can turn to Christ right this moment, and praise Him for the blood that was shed on Calvary for sins both past and present (yes, and even future).


        Colossians 2:14

        14 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;  


        Every sin I’ve ever committed was nailed to the cross through the body of Jesus. I can look forward because He took my punishment. I can live because He lives. Is there not a cause to praise? Is there not a cause to get back up?


        Proverbs 24:16

        16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.  


        The distinguishing mark between the righteous and the wicked isn’t sin. We’re all sinners. The difference is in the getting up and forsaking it even if that means doing it over and over (seven times=the number of completion) until you get the victory over it through Jesus’ name.



        1.  — Edited

          Freedom to Praise

          07/04/2020

          Day 186: Freedom to Praise 


          2 Corinthians 3:17

          17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  


          There is always danger that a free nation may imperil its freedom by a series of small choices destructive to that freedom. In the realm of religion right choices are even more critically important! --A. W. Tozer


          We are watching the erosion of American liberty take place right before our very eyes. But don’t be surprised. The church has lost her freedom a long time now and has been unwittingly serving the devil. We lack any real power because our power is derived from technology and programming and not from the Spirit of God being poured forth in holy power. We watch as the world shackles the hearts of believers by the droves and can only weep as we pray for deliverance to come once again.


          The key to our liberty is found in our yielding to the Spirit of the Lord. Every time I say yes to me and no to God, I am putting the shackles of bondage back on and saying yes to my old master.


          God, through His word, instructs me to pray, to read my Bible and study its precepts, to faithfully assemble with believers to form the local church. He also teaches me to give and labor to bring others the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, to resist sin, to yield to the life of Jesus within, and to live my life daily in His praise. All of this, He gives me the liberty to do.


          Tozer went on to say,


          The casual indifference with which millions...view their God-blessed religious liberty is ominous. Being let go, they go on weekends at the lakes and mountains and beaches to play...fish and sunbathe. They go where their heart is and come back to praying company only when the bad weather drives them in. Let this continue long enough and evangelicals...will be ripe for a takeover...


          There is nothing wrong with going to any of those places. But when our hearts ignore the liberty of the Spirit, and we mistake freedom in Jesus for the license to do as we please that we end up in bondage. We have the freedom to praise, the freedom to look to Jesus, and to look away from the sinful ways of the world. We do not, however, have the liberty to live as we please and expect spiritual freedom.


          Galatians 5:13

          13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.  


          The Christian’s freedom is found in serving one another in the power of God’s love. Let’s get back to that.


          The choice is fast approaching as to whether we are going to stand up for Jesus. We can be at liberty in Him, or we can be in bondage by complying with the edicts of a God-rejecting culture. Early Christians were fed to lions for refusing to acknowledge Caesar as Lord and only bowed the knee to Jesus. What will we do? 


          1. Unmixed Praise

            07/03/2020

            Day 185: Unmixed Praise


            Exodus 12:38

            38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. 


            Influenced by the mixed multitude which had accompanied them, the people hungered after the things of Egypt, apparently forgetting the cruelty of its bondage. -G. Campbell Morgan


            When we forsake the world and follow Christ, we must be vigilant to recognize the “mixed multitude” that goes along with us, namely, the flesh, and its longing for Egypt. As born-again believers, we have two natures that are opposed to each other and are irreconcilable. At one moment, we follow the leading of the Spirit; at the next, the flesh catches us unawares, and we follow its leading. 


            On the one hand, we have the leading of the Spirit of God, which we know is always faithful and always pure, and on the other hand, we have the flesh, which will always be mixed with error. 


            John Van Gelderen comments on this topic,


            “Writers have referred to the introduction of deceptive aspects as dual streams. We must understand that while a pure stream does not condone an impure stream, an impure stream does not negate a pure stream.”


            He referred to this as “dual streams.” The Apostle James speaks of this:


            James 3:10

            10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.  


            We are living in strange times. We are in uncharted waters here in America. For the past 244 years, our nation has, for the most part, either supported or allowed the free exercise of religion. Now, we are facing civil restrictions that are becoming anti-Scriptural, meaning, we will be required to be either obedient to God, or compliant to government, not both.


            The great danger of our time is to get wrapped up in politics. We must remember that God did not promise power from on high for us to preach our political views, but to preach the Gospel. Our praise must be pure, unmixed by the tainted stream of the world’s political parties.


            Remember, that Herod and Pilate were political enemies until it came time to persecute and crucify Jesus.


            Luke 23:12

            12 And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.  


            We swear allegiance to our political party, but they do not swear allegiance to us. We have only one Lord and Master, and His name is Jesus.


            We need a fresh revival for the love of the Bible and a disdain for the media outlets that are polluted by untruth.


            Books and letters written in a proper spirit, may, if the Lord is pleased to smile upon them, have their use; but an awakened mind that thirsts after the Savior, and seeks wisdom by reading and praying over the scripture, has little occasion for a library of human writings. The Bible is the fountain from whence every stream that deserves our notice is drawn; and, though we may occasionally pay some attention to the streams—we have personally an equal right with others to apply immediately to the fountain-head, and draw the water of life for ourselves. The purest streams are not wholly freed from the gout de terroir—a twang of the soil through which they run; a mixture of human infirmity is inseparable from the best human composition; but in the fountain the truth is unmixed.1

            1 Water, Mark. The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations. Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd, 2000. Print.


            1. Following the Leader

               07/02/2020

              Day 184: Following the Leader


              Revelation 14:4

              ...These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. 


              We get stopped by the whithersoever. Lord, I will follow you anywhere except...a place without a/c, a place of poverty, a place of sickness or pestilence, and fill in the blank. Those mentioned in this text follow Jesus wherever He leads them, even into death. 


              Whithersoever means to whatever place. Who or what is leading your heart today? What's at the end of that rainbow? Is it the proverbial pot of gold or a pit of despair and sorrow? Jesus leads to reconciliation with truth and, therefore, to peace. He brings our souls to poverty so that we might learn that true riches are not found in our possessions but our spiritual inheritance. 


              Psalm 16:5

              5 The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.  


              Psalm 73:26

              26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.  


              Jeremiah 10:16

              16 The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The LORD of hosts is his name.  


              The problem is that we can't find our way to our inheritance, but must be led by the Lamb. The Barnett's wrote a beautiful song that has this line in it,


              "Cause with a thousand different roads out there for me to use:

              If I had to pick, I wouldn't know which one to choose.

              But there's nothing left to fear when my Jesus is so near:

              Cause He's not just a guide, He is the Way."


              He's not just a guide; He isThe Way. He isn't just the destination; He's also the road. What fuels us for our journey with Jesus? His joy. His peace. His assurance and love, to name a few.


              So how do we know we're following our Leader?


              • He leads in the way of righteousness by His light and truth. (See Psalm 5:8Psalm 43:3)
              • His path will be clear for us. (See Psalm 27:11)
              • He leads us to depend upon His omnipotence instead of our feeble strength. (See Psalm 61:2)
              • His way always leads to the land of uprightness. (See Psalm 143:10)
              • He leads gently and does not drive (See Isaiah 40:11)
              • He leads by way of humility and grief over sin (See Jeremiah 31:9)
              • He leads to fountains of living water. (Revelation 7:17)


              Our Shepherd leads us and goes before us. Let us not trust in our wisdom to live out the Christian life, but let us remember to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and obey Him.


              Everybody out there's running to and fro

              Not knowing what direction that they need to go

              They keep running right in, to another dead end

              And if they'd only look, they would see

               

              There is One who knows each step they need to take

              And for all those who will follow, He will show the way

              To the life we're looking for

              The One with peace and so much more

              And all we have to do is let Him lead

               

              I'm following the Leader

              Everywhere I go I'm going with my Savior

              And though walking all alone, so afraid of the unknown

              I just trust the one who walks in front of me

              I don't worry 'bout tomorrow

              Where He leads me I will follow

              When this ol' world gets dim, I just keep my eyes on Him

              Cause He's the only One I need to see

              Life is so much sweeter

              When I'm following the Leader

               

              I may not always know exactly where He's taking me

              But He brought me from a place that I don't want to be

              So I carry on ahead with my faith in what He said

              That He'd be there to help me every day

              Cause with a thousand different roads out there for me to use

              If I had to pick, I wouldn't know which one to choose

              But there's nothing left to fear when my Jesus is so near

              Cause He's not just a guide, He is the way

               

              I'm following the Leader

              Everywhere I go I'm going with my Savior

              And though walking all alone, so afraid of the unknown

              I just trust the one who walks in front of me

              I don't worry 'bout tomorrow

              Where He leads me I will follow

              When this ol' world gets dim, I just keep my eyes on Him

              Cause He's the only One I need to see 

              I'm following the Leader

              He's my Savior


              --The Barnett Family


              1. Praise the God Who Cares

                07/01/2020

                Day 183: Praise the God Who Cares


                John 3:16

                16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  


                This verse has only 25 words. Twenty-five words that describe in detail the great care God has for you. What does the phrase, "For God so loved the world" mean?


                Tozer broke it down in straightforward terms:


                To boil it down into the familiar terms and words we can understand, I can restate this phrase by simply saying it means I mean something to God. Once that phrase is stated, nothing more needs to be said. That sums up in compressed, pressurized fashion the whole intent of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation1

                1 Tozer, A. W. And He Dwelt among Us: Teachings from the Gospel of John. Ed. James L. Snyder. Ventura, CA: Regal, 2009. Print.


                Did you catch that? You mean something to God. The very God who breathed the molecules into existence and sang them into form, spinning worlds off the tips of His fingers cares about you, and you mean something to Him.


                He sees your every step and counts the very number of hairs on your head. He cares about the sorrow in your heart and the fears that grip you and keep you up at night. He cares about the little things just as much as the big things, for they are all beneath Him. The Bible speaks of the condescension of God. The word condescend means to descend from the privileges of superior rank or dignity, to do some act to an inferior, which strict justice or ordinary rules of civility do not require. God is high above all. He is not required by His superior rank above all to stoop, but love behooved Him to do so.


                God's love isn't some general, universal love, but an individual, personal love. This love moved Him to leave heaven, and come, be a man, to suffer with and for you. Yes, He loves the whole world, but He did not die for mankind, but man. He did not die for man corporate, but man the individual. He cares for you.


                His first care is for the destination of your soul "that whosoever believeth in him should not perish," His next concern is the condition of your soul, "but have everlasting life.


                Sin not only condemns men to a Christ-less eternity in eternal suffering and torment, but it makes men miserable in this life. He cares about what your heart cherishes, especially when what we often love does not bring us good, but evil; is not eternal but only short-lived. He cares about the condition of our life. He wants the power of everlasting to be stamped upon our souls.


                When this truth pierces the garb of religiosity, and through the darkness of sin's ruin, it rescues men from vanity and empty pain and brings them into the light of God's personal, intimate love that moved Him to the point where "He gave His only begotten Son."


                All my life was full of sin when Jesus found me;

                All my heart was full of misery and woe,

                Jesus placed His strong arms about me

                And He led me in the way I ought to go. 

                 

                No one ever cared for me like Jesus;

                There's no other friend so kind as He.

                No one else could take the sin and darkness from me;

                O how much He cared for me. --Charles Weigel


                1.  — Edited

                  The Pause of Praise

                  06/30/2020

                  Day 182: The Pause of Praise


                  Psalm 4:4

                  4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.  


                  Practice the pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray. -- Source Unknown


                  The word Selah is mentioned 75 times in Scripture, most notably, the Psalms. Scholars believe it is a musical instruction for the musicians to pause.


                  The word pause means to make a short stop; to cease to speak for a time; to intermit speaking or action. Our society has forgotten the art of the pause, and it shows by the ugly way people treat each other. It has crept into our churches, our homes, this monstrous attraction to busyness and harshness. Irritability and fatigue plague us, and we can't seem to get a hold of our emotions.


                  Our psalmist understood this. He speaks of the need for the pause in God's presence, "Stand in awe, and sin not:" Awe is something that is done in a person as they witness grandeur and majesty. A beautiful sunrise, a view of the ocean, the singing of birds in a forest or a park, a view of a mountain range, all have the potential to reflect the awe of their Creator, and if we pause long enough, we can get a dose of wonder, "and sin not." We need to stop long enough to realize it's not all about us.


                  Secondly, our psalmist speaks of the need to pause for reflection, "Commune with your own heart." To commune means to talk with yourself. When was the last time you reflected on why you got angry about a situation or spoke unkindly to your child, spouse, or co-worker? If your answer is, "If they wouldn't have done this or said that," then chances are, you've not paused in a while. We can't control what others do, only how we respond. When we pause to consider how our heart has been behaving, it allows God to point to our sore spots and to deal with them.


                  Lastly, our psalmist addresses our need to pause for Sabbath "and be still." The word still means to be silent; to stand still, depicting a state of being motionless." The Sabbath is not a suggestion but a commandment. It's a commandment that reminds us that we are not God and that we need to honor God and trust our lives to Him. God made us human beings and not human doings and cares more about our well-being than all our doings.


                  Psalm 127:2

                  2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.  


                  We live as if our world rests upon our shoulders but forget two things: it's not our world, and our shoulders aren't meant to carry that kind of weight. We require rest. Rest allows for refreshing and restoration.


                  When was the last time you unplugged from the world and plugged into God and let Him charge your batteries?


                  1 Kings 19:8

                  8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.  


                  The mansions of the heart will become larger when their doors are thrown open to Christ and closed against the world and sin. Try it. -- A. W. Tozer