Archive for November, 2010

Being Still this Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

This is a repost from 2007 post titled, A Thanksgiving Reflection from While it might be getting old by the internet’s standards, the advice has aged well.

How can you take time to “be still” before God and reflect this Thanksgiving weekend?

As those of us living in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving today (our friends in Canada celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October), we here at would like to encourage all of us—no matter where we live—to take time this week to reflect on the many things for which we should be thankful.

It might be easy to call these days “uncertain times,” especially when we focus on the temporal events and concerns that bombard us each day. But God is at work in our world, and if we take the time to “be still” and look for Him, we can see that handiwork.

Our prayer this Thanksgiving is that each of us might know the reality of a living Savior, that we might have the eyes to see where He is at work in our world, and that we might have the courage to get involved where we see Him working.

May you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Today’s Devotional: Looking forward to being healed

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

When we are sick, we feel as if the world is out of order. It doesn’t take much to put us in that state either, a simple cold can make our emotional and spiritual lives feel off-kilter. Not to mention the havoc it plays on our physical bodies. Our Daily Bread reflects today on how physical healing is a portent of what to expect in God’s kingdom:

Within our orderly world, disease is a sign that something is “out of order.” Healing is a sign that God will some day restore all things to their original condition (Acts 3:21). When John the Baptist wanted to know whether Jesus was the “Coming One,” Jesus said, “Go and tell John . . . the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Luke 7:20-22). Healing was evidence that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah (Mal. 4:2).

We look forward to a time when our bodies are restored by God, but until that time, what are ways you thank God for the health you have?

Today’s Devotional: Upward to heaven! Nearer to God!

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

It’s easy to slip into a routine faith. We go to church, read our Bibles and pray every once in a while, and think that’s enough. We forget that God wants us to continually yearn for Him.

Our devotional this morning from Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening can be seen as a wakeup call to any of us who have slipped into a lazy faith. In it, he exhorts us to forcefully cast off whatever it is that is keeping us from experiencing God to the fullest:

Rouse thee, O believer, from thy low condition! Cast away thy sloth, thy lethargy, thy coldness, or whatever interferes with thy chaste and pure love to Christ, thy soul’s Husband. Make him the source, the centre, and the circumference of all thy soul’s range of delight. What enchants thee into such folly as to remain in a pit when thou mayst sit on a throne? Live not in the lowlands of bondage now that mountain liberty is conferred upon thee. Rest no longer satisfied with thy dwarfish attainments, but press forward to things more sublime and heavenly. Aspire to a higher, a nobler, a fuller life. Upward to heaven! Nearer to God!

Is there anything in your life that you’ve let come between you and the fullness of God’s love and grace?

Today’s Devotional: Even the Mundane Belongs to God

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

It’s easy to forget that God is present in everything that we experience. And when we do remember that fact, there’s a human tendency to attempt to imbue all of those rote experiences of life with a sort of spiritual seriousness. Oswald Chambers argues that those “shallow” moments of our lives life provide a context for the real spiritual moments of life, and when we spiritualize mundane experiences of life, we invite pride into our lives. We should remember that Jesus had many shallow experiences during his life on Earth, and that was okay:

Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained by God; they are ordained by Him equally as much as the profound. We sometimes refuse to be shallow, not out of our deep devotion to God but because we wish to impress other people with the fact that we are not shallow. This is a sure sign of spiritual pride. We must be careful, for this is how contempt for others is produced in our lives. And it causes us to be a walking rebuke to other people because they are more shallow than we are. Beware of posing as a profound person— God became a baby.

To be shallow is not a sign of being sinful, nor is shallowness an indication that there is no depth to your life at all— the ocean has a shore. Even the shallow things of life, such as eating and drinking, walking and talking, are ordained by God. These are all things our Lord did. He did them as the Son of God, and He said, “A disciple is not above his teacher . . .” (Matthew 10:24).

Is there any area or activity in your life that you’ve wrongly overspiritualized?

Today’s Devotional: What Should be Our Priorities?

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

How much time do you spend worrying about clothes, food and other necessities of life?

In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us that our worry over those things is misguided. Instead, our priorities should be seeking the kingdom of God and pursuing God’s righteousness (or justice depending on the translation). And, as Kent Van Til of the Today devotional reminds us, by seeking the kingdom and God’s justice, everything that we need will follow:

In ancient times, a king was the provider of justice and peace in the land. So seeking God’s kingdom involves a search for the justice of God. And we know what God’s justice is like if we have read Jesus’ teaching in the text surrounding our passage for today (see Matthew 5-7). In the kingdom great reversals occur—the poor inherit kingdom riches, the sorrowful are comforted, the empty are filled. The justice of God turns worldly “justice” on its head. The first are last, and the last first.

As Christians, we are called to seek out and establish this upside-down justice of God’s kingdom. Remember that seeking this justice is primary. To justice seekers in God’s kingdom, other “things” will come.

Is God convicting you about any of your priorities? What changes could you make to your life in order to make pursuing the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness bigger priorities?

Today’s devotional: open to God’s timing

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Are you so wrapped up in the “schedule” of your life, work, and ministry that you risk missing the unexpected opportunities God sends your way?

Blaine Smith describes following God’s timing as one of the great challenges of the Christian life. It’s easy for us to get so focused on what we think God has planned for us, that we aren’t prepared to take advantage of unplanned ministry openings. He points to Jesus’ ministry as an example of a life lived in accordance with God’s timing:

Much of Jesus’ ministry was a sanctified response to interruptions. Take a typical day: After teaching a large crowd for a long time, he breaks for time alone, only to have his disciples ask him to explain his parables (Mk 4:10). That evening, while traveling in a boat, they awake him to deal with an unruly storm (Mk 4:38), and when they arrive at the other side of the lake, Jesus is confronted by a man with multiple demons (Mk 5:1-13). In each of these cases, Jesus responds immediately to those who need his help.

Many opportunities, both for serving Christ and for experiencing his provision for our own needs, come packaged in unwelcome interruptions. We need to pray constantly for alertness to these openings when they confront us. Without such awareness, we’re likely to lag behind God’s timing.

Is there an “interruption” knocking at your door right now, threatening to divert you from the careful plan you’ve set for yourself? It’s worth asking yourself if it’s truly a diversion, or if God is presenting you with an unexpected opportunity to serve Him.

Today’s Devotional: Extending Friendship to Everyone

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Have you ever written off someone just because of the way they look or act?

Every day, we pass up opportunities to connect with people because we assume that they’re too busy, or too angry, or too different than us. When we jump to such conclusions, we may be missing out on an opportunity to share God’s love. Our Daily Bread offers us a simple story about how reaching out without judgment can be a life-changing action:

Two young men with mischief on their minds approached a missionary’s outreach bus parked in a downtown area of a German city.

The missionaries were there to offer refreshments as a way to open up conversations about Christ. The two visitors, wearing skull-and-crossbones bandannas, were there to offer trouble.

But the missionaries didn’t respond to the ruffians as they expected. The Christians welcomed them warmly and engaged them in discussion. Surprised, the guys hung around long enough to hear the gospel. One trusted Jesus that day. The other, the next day.

Those two young men and the missionaries who reached them were light-years apart culturally. The guys were German; the missionaries, American. The guys were involved in a culture of darkness and death; the missionaries were shining the light. The cultural divide was crossed with cookies and nonjudgmental love.

Are there particular people in your life that you ignore because you think you’re too different from them? Have you ever shared God’s love with someone who was “different”? How did it go?

Today’s Devotional: God’s Everlasting Arms

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

In this Morning and Evening devotional, Charles Spurgeon observes a simple yet profound truth of the Christian life: no matter how low we sink, no matter what we do or what trials we face, God is always there:

God—the eternal God—is himself our support at all times, and especially when we are sinking in deep trouble. There are seasons when the Christian sinks very low in humiliation. Under a deep sense of his great sinfulness, he is humbled before God till he scarcely knows how to pray, because he appears, in his own sight, so worthless. Well, child of God, remember that when thou art at thy worst and lowest, yet “underneath” thee “are everlasting arms.” Sin may drag thee ever so low, but Christ’s great atonement is still under all. You may have descended into the deeps, but you cannot have fallen so low as “the uttermost;” and to the uttermost he saves. Again, the Christian sometimes sinks very deeply in sore trial from without. Every earthly prop is cut away. What then? Still underneath him are “the everlasting arms.” He cannot fall so deep in distress and affliction but what the covenant grace of an ever-faithful God will still encircle him. The Christian may be sinking under trouble from within through fierce conflict, but even then he cannot be brought so low as to be beyond the reach of the “everlasting arms”—they are underneath him; and, while thus sustained, all Satan’s efforts to harm him avail nothing.”

Does knowing that we can never “be beyond the reach of the “everlasting arms”’ comfort you? How does that knowledge change how you approach situations in your life?

Today’s devotional: following God’s purpose for our lives, not our own

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

What’s your purpose in life? What do you feel called to do? Christians often talk about discerning God’s purpose for our lives, or about learning “what God wants us to do” with our talents and skills.

These are reasonable things to ponder. But in this devotional from My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers cautions us against presuming to know for certain what God has in mind for our lives:

After sanctification, it is difficult to state what your purpose in life is, because God has moved you into His purpose through the Holy Spirit. He is using you now for His purposes throughout the world as He used His Son for the purpose of our salvation. If you seek great things for yourself, thinking, “God has called me for this and for that,” you barricade God from using you. As long as you maintain your own personal interests and ambitions, you cannot be completely aligned or identified with God’s interests. This can only be accomplished by giving up all of your personal plans once and for all, and by allowing God to take you directly into His purpose for the world. Your understanding of your ways must also be surrendered, because they are now the ways of the Lord.

The truth is that we simply cannot know for certain how, exactly, God plans to use us. God might use us in exactly the way we expect… or His plans for our lives might be completely at odds with what we want or imagine. Christians must be prepared for the possibility that at any time, God might pull us out of our carefully planned routines and present us with challenges and opportunities we never imagined.

Does this frighten you or reassure you? Have you ever had the experience of serving God in a way you would never have planned or guessed?

Today’s devotional: how cordial are you?

Monday, November 8th, 2010

As a child, I participated in the Calvinist Cadet Corps, my church denomination’s variant on the Boy Scouts. At each monthly meeting, we would gather in our gray uniforms (heavy-laden with merit badges) and recite the Cadet motto:

A Cadet must be reverent, obedient, compassionate, consecrated, trustworthy, pure, grateful, loyal, industrious, and cheerful.

Most of those are fairly straightforward spiritual virtues. But the last word always struck me as slightly out of place: is cheerfulness really a Christian virtue in the same sense as compassion and obedience?

That question sprang to mind today as I read a Charles Swindoll devotional explaining the importance of cordiality. The outward grace and politeness (or lack thereof) with which we treat others is a strong indicator of the state of our heart:

Being cordial literally starts from the heart, as I see it. It begins with the deep-seated belief that the other person is important, genuinely significant, deserving of my undivided attention, my unrivaled interest, if only for a few seconds. Encouraged by such a belief, I am prompted to be sensitive to that person’s feelings. If he is uneasy and self-conscious, cordiality alerts me to put him at ease. lf she is shy, cordiality provides a relief. If he is bored, cordiality stimulates and invigorates him. If she is sad, cordiality brings cheer. What a needed and necessary virtue it is!

What does cordiality look like in a Christian’s life? Swindoll lists out four simple ways we can communicate our love, care, and respect for others in day-to-day interactions.

Are you a cordial person? Have you ever considered that even your most minor everyday interactions with others can reflect the state of your heart? Consider applying these simple practices of cordiality in your conversations at work and home this week.