Tag Archives: Devotional

From the writings of James Ryle

Outside the Camp

“Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” (Hebrews 13:13)

This world is a campy place, and people gravitate to the camp that suits them. This is true in may ways — political, religious, economic, recreational, vocational, educational, or ideological. We find our niche and get our name, and learn the secret handshake. We also learn why we are superior to those in other camps.

But Jesus is outside the camp. He is a man with no labels. And the moment you link up with one group or another, and take unto yourself the labels and causes and agendas and issues of this or that group, then it is you cease following Jesus and begin following men. That will lead to pride, division, strife, and trouble.

Men love to build empires and fight enemies. But Jesus has called us to something better and higher. He has called us unto Himself.
We are in this world, but not of this world. Here we have no continuing city; for we seek a city whose builder and maker is God.

Therefore, we are pilgrims passing through the many camps we come in contact with; exchanging greetings in the marketplace, dining in the restaurants, sunning on the beach, or playing in the fields — but only for a while. For this is not our home; this is not our camp.
Jesus calls us onward, upward, and outward.

Onward insures that we will experience progress in our lives; upward insures we will reach our potential; and outward insures we will be misunderstood…and rejected. For the moment you leave the camp and go out to Jesus, the others campers will hold you in reproach — just like they did to Him.

But while we may be reproached by the world, we are embraced by the Lord. Not such a bad trade off if you ask me!
See you outside the camp?

From “The Word For You Today” by Bruce Christian – Temptation

          Part of dealing with temptation is in how you view it.  A good word here.

 

TEMPTATION (1)

     Christ’s temptation in the wilderness answers two questions: (1) Who is tempted?  Everyone!  If Jesus was tempted, you’ll be tempted too.  Now, you can be victorious over temptation, but you can’t pray temptation away.  Satan tried different approaches with Jesus and he will do the same with you.  Being tempted doesn’t mean you’re not in the will of God, it just means that Satan doesn’t give up his rule in your life without a fight.  The battle begins the moment you decide to serve God, and the attacks come at you every day.  So, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Eph 6:11 NIV).  (2)  When are you tempted?  When you have an important role to play in God’s plan you’re a high value target to the devil.  Matthew records, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”  But notice what had just taken place before this: “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.  And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased'” (Mt 3:16-17 NKJV).  So temptation is a compliment; it proves you are called by God.    And it’s also a confirmation; it’s evidence that you are walking in His will.  Following His temptation, we read, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee” (Lk 4:14 NKJV).  And you will too!

False And Deceptive Pleasures

     Greg Coleman’s “A Particular Baptist Blog” is a great blog.  He does a great job on it, and works very hard.  Every post I’ve ever read on it has been grounded in truth, and is always relevant.  This post False And Deceptive Pleasures is about as true and relevant as it gets.  If you get a chance drop by and give him a read.  He’s worth it.

From “The Word For You Today” by Bruce Christian, What Kind of Example Are You (4)

     Something for you to meditate upon as you go through the day.    

 

WHAT KIND OF EXAMPLE ARE YOU (4)

     Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be the sons of the Most High.  For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.  Therefore be merciful, just as your Father is also merciful” (Lk 6:35-36 NKJV).  Such words bring us to our knees, for we fall far short of practicing them.  The pastor of a large church tells of being on an elevator with a drunk man who was throwing up.  The pastor couldn’t wait to get off.  All the way to his room he kept criticizing the man.  Later that night God spoke to him and said, “You laughed at him, but I loved him enough to die for him.”  Watch your attitude!  The same sunshine that melts the butter hardens the clay.  When you constantly deal with people’s problems, it will make you either callous or compassionate.  In spite of his disappointment in people, Jesus never lost His sense of compassion.  Love isn’t a virus you catch, it’s a virtue you’re supposed to practice every day.  And there’s a divine dimension to this kind of love.  “The love of God has been poured out in your hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Ro 5:5 NKJV).  You can’t reach into the well of your own emotions to find such love; you can only take the love of God that’s been poured into your heart and share it with others.  And if you are to serve God successfully you must have regular transfusions of his love.

A Thought on Apathy

     As many of you know from reading my about page, I’m a Sunday school teacher.  Teaching is something I love and enjoy.  I teach a group of senior adults who are all older than I am.  It’s sort of intimidating trying to teach people who have so much more experience with life than I do, and who quite frankly know the Bible better than I do.  Most of the time, I feel like I’m their student instead of the other way around, and that’s a good thing.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned about being a teacher, it’s that you are the first one to get hit with the subject matter of the lesson you’re preparing for, and there’s not been a single time when somehow or other what I’m studying hasn’t come to the forefront of my life during the week I’m preparing.  I don’t know if it’s just that my focus is already directed toward things so I tend to notice them more, or if the good Lord is just taking the opportunity to give me an abject lesson, but either way I get the first chance to learn from it.

     This past week the lesson title was, “Just Going Through The Motions” and it covers the book of Malachi, chapter 1.  If you’ve never read the book of Malachi I’d like to encourage you to do so.  It’s short, but does it ever have an impact.  The lesson title itself brought different things to mind as I’m sure that it did for yours as well.  We’ve all encountered that phrase either through observation or practice.  You know what going through the motions is, don’t you.  It’s when we do something, but our heart isn’t in it.  I bet if you think about it you can think of a time when you’ve been guilty of it yourself.  I know I’ve been guilty of it.

     There’s a word for it.  It’s called “apathy,” and when we’re doing it we’re being apathetic.  The definition for it goes something like this, “feeling or showing a lack of concern, being indifferent.  Showing little emotion, being unresponsive.”  Makes the picture a little clearer, doesn’t it.  I can remember a time in our country when it didn’t show as much as it does now.  As a matter of fact, it shows so much now people don’t even recognize it for what it is.  It’s a normal state for a lot of people anymore.  Being indifferent, showing a lack of concern, being unresponsive to the problems and needs of others. 

     You don’t have to look very hard to see apathy rear it’s ugly head.  It’s always been a part of humanity, and will continue to be.  It’s everywhere.  Apathy is a killer!  A destroyer!  Bet you never thought of it like that, huh?  I know you’re thinking that statement is a little harsh, aren’t you?  After all, showing a lack of concern, being indifferent, and being unresponsive to the problems and needs of others isn’t a crime, is it?  Legally, being apathetic, isn’t a crime, but from a moral standpoint, I can’t think of anything much worse.  Not caring, showing a lack of concern, being unresponsive to the needs and problems of others is akin to murder.  Apathy destroys hope, faith, and love. 

     In reality this is what the priests of Malachi’s day were doing.  They were just going through the motions, they had the appearance, but no substance, and that’s why their actions were so detestable to God.  Today God is just as displeased with those who do the same kind of thing.  The priests in Malachi’s day offered God not the best of what they had, but that which wasn’t even good to begin with, and many people do the same thing today.  We don’t sacrifice the sick, the blind and the lame animals to God, but we do much the same thing by failing to give him the best of what we have.  We give him our leftovers instead of the first fruits of our time, our money, our effort, our dedication, our willingness to follow and serve him. 

     Apathy and being apathetic happens subtly, quietly.  No alarm bells will ring.  It happens slowly over time.  Apathy is the result of losing focus, not paying attention to what’s really important.  It happens when we start allowing little things into our lives that didn’t use to be there, when we start thinking in terms of being different instead of being right; When we start accepting what we should be rejecting.  It happens because we forget why we’re doing what we’re doing.  Apathy is above all the result of an attitude that fails to honor God with our lives.

From “Morning Thoughts” by Winslow

     We live in a world, and in a culture, where we pay lipservice to God; where we embrace Him in every way except in the ways that mean the most to Him.  We live in a time where there are many spiritual people, and where spirituality runs rampant, but let me ask you something.  Does God still care about Holiness?  Does He expect His children to be holy?  Does He expect His children to be obedient?  There are some hard truths that a lot of people in this world don’t want to see, and that goes for me too.  We’re willing to accept some truth, the parts of it that don’t bother us too much, but when we come across those parts that get in the way, that put walls between us and what we want to do then we go about the business of tearing them down and making them more palatable.  
     We live with a lot of false ideas in this world.  We believe in God, but don’t believe the Bible is His infallible, inerrant word, and the only truth we should live our lives by.  We believe we can love Jesus, and hate the church.  We belive that God is all about love, but doesn’t care about Justice, Mercy, Compassion,  and Holiness.  We believe that God loves us and it’s okay to live any way we want.      We believe we can really know God without spending any time in prayer or in reading His word.  The list goes on and on.  
     So what do you really believe.  Just as an experiment take a sheet of paper and write down the top 5 things you truly believe to be true, then take the rest of your day and try to notice the way you go about living today, your words and actions, and at the end of your evening reflect back upon your day.   How did it go? 

” Submit yourselves therefore to God.”  James 4:7

 

Submission to the Divine will is a great advance in holiness; and this is mainly and effectually attained through sanctified chastisement. In prosperity, how full are we of self-sufficiency! When the Lord asks our obedience, we give Him our counsel. But when He sends the rod, and by the accompanying grace of His Spirit sanctifies its stroke, we learn in what true obedience consists. It was in this school our blessed Lord Himself was taught. “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” He learned to obey in suffering- to bring His will in suffering into complete submission to His Father’s will. God has not in His family such obedient children as those who, “passing under the rod,” are “brought into the bond of the covenant.” Oh, what a high Christian attainment is submission to the will of God! The noblest grace attainable upon earth is it.

When our Lord taught His disciples to pray to the Father for the spread of holiness, He embodied the petition, in these words, “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” The universal and complete holiness of heaven springs from the universal and complete perfection in which the will of God is done by angels and glorified spirits. In proportion as the Divine will prevails upon earth, holiness will reign. And, oh, what a beauteous earth and what a blissful world would this be, were the will of God done by every creature! In the new earth, in which will dwell righteousness, it will be so. The original harmony of this fallen universe will then be restored, its pristine beauty recovered, and God, in the person of His Son, will once more reign over, and walk in the midst of, a people whose will shall be but the reflection of His own. Thus to approximate to the Divine will is to assimilate with the Divine holiness. What God will, how God will, and when God will, defines the rule which should govern all the conduct and limit all the desires of the child of God. The instant the overwhelmed heart is brought into this state, the afflicted believer has planted his feet upon the Rock that is higher than he. All is peace, all is composure, because all is submission to the will of God. “The Lord reigns” is the truth whose all-commanding yet gentle whisper has stilled the tempest and calmed the waves. In its intense anxiety that the Divine will might be done, the chastened soul is but breathing after deeper holiness; and every fervent desire for the attainment of holiness is holiness already attained. Blessed chastening of love, that produces in this world, so distant and uncongenial, the buds and blossoms and fruits of heaven! A richer fruit grows not within the Paradise of God than Holiness. And yet, in the experience of a chastened believer, bleeding under the rod of his heavenly Father, there may be obtained such victories over sin, such purification of heart, such meekness of spirit, such Christ-like conformity, and such a discipline of the will, as to make him a rich “partaker of the Divine holiness.”

From “The Word For You Today” by Bruce Christian, “What Kind of Example Are You, 1”

What Kind Of Example Are You (1)

     Andrew Murray wrote, “God has no more precious gift than a man who lives as an embodiment of His will and inspires those  around him with the faith of what grace can do.”  When Paul writes, “Be an example,” he means “to be a role model.”  The first car off the assembly line is a prototype of all that follows.  Dressmakers study the pattern, then design the garment accordingly.  The word ideal sounds lofty, and it is.  But even if you don’t achieve the ideal, it should still be your goal.  What Paul was saying to youg Timothy was, “When you talk about Jesus, people should see so much of Him in your life that they desire to know Him.  When you talk about faith the evidence of it should be so compelling that they want to live by it.
     The poet wrote: “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely show the way.  The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear, fine counsel is confusing but example’s always clear.  And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds, for to see good put in action is what everybody needs.  I soon can learn to do it if you’ll let me see it done; I can see your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.  And the lectures you deliver may be very fine and true; but I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do.  For I may not understand you and the high advice you give; but there’s no misunderstanding how you act and live.