Contemplating Winter

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Cold, wet and dark are three of my least favorite things, and winter has them in spades. This winter though, I’ve been attempting to find God’s handiwork in the season rather than just being upset that it’s not spring yet. Needless to say, it’s been a very enlightening experience.

Appreciation of Creation is a way in which we worship the Creator. It’s almost trivially easy to do in spring, summer and fall; the colors and smells draw us into a celebratory and worshipful mood. To find praise-worthy elements of winter has meant being purposeful about noticing the world around me.

One quick example: call me dense, but it took me until this winter to really realize how serene a heavy snowfall can be. There are few sensations as relaxing as standing in a freshly blanketed field looking around at the world covered in a white sheen. This year, the snow was even enough to force cities into a rare and well-needed quietude. Just being able to soak in the silence and sit in the awe of the expansiveness of God’s Creation has been wonderfully refreshing.

What about you? Do you take time to thank God for all of the seasons? Is there anything you find praise-worthy about winter?

When is the last time you thought about what you think about?

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that we should attempt to bring every thought into captivity. And as Oswald Chambers writes in his My Utmost for His Highest devotional, when we give our minds over to Christ we can stop being impulsive and instead “be used in service to God.”

Is your mind stayed on God or is it starved? Starvation of the mind, caused by neglect, is one of the chief sources of exhaustion and weakness in a servant’s life. If you have never used your mind to place yourself before God, begin to do it now. There is no reason to wait for God to come to you. You must turn your thoughts and your eyes away from the face of idols and look to Him and be saved (see Isaiah 45:22).

Your mind is the greatest gift God has given you and it ought to be devoted entirely to Him. You should seek to be “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ . . .” (2 Corinthians 10:5). This will be one of the greatest assets of your faith when a time of trial comes, because then your faith and the Spirit of God will work together. When you have thoughts and ideas that are worthy of credit to God, learn to compare and associate them with all that happens in nature-the rising and the setting of the sun, the shining of the moon and the stars, and the changing of the seasons. You will begin to see that your thoughts are from God as well, and your mind will no longer be at the mercy of your impulsive thinking, but will always be used in service to God.

If it’s been a while since you’ve done so, take time today to quietly sit in a distraction free environment and catalog all the thoughts that are cluttering your mind. You might be surprised to find out what you’re devoting your mind to. This process can help you root out of the causes of stress or worry in your life, which then gives you an opportunity to seek resolutions or to give the worry over to God.

Today’s Devotional: Stating Not Arguing

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Perhaps I’m alone in this, but when I encounter someone who disagrees with me my natural inclination is to argue with them. After all, they’re wrong!

A.W. Tozer challenges us in this devotional that when it comes to matters of defending God our only responsibility is to positively declare God’s truth. With that act, we put the burden of persuasion upon God, who is far more capable than you or I:

The answer to the question, “Where did I come from?” can never be better answered than by the Christian mother who tells her child, “God made you!” The great store of knowledge in today’s world cannot improve on that simple answer! The scientist can tell us the secrets of how matter operates, but the origin of matter lies in deep silence, refusing to give an answer to man’s question. … Our chief business is not to argue or to persuade our generation. With our positive declaration of God’s Word and revelation, we make God responsible for the outcome.

Are you in the midst of an on-going argument with someone over issues of God and faith? How would taking Tozer’s advice change your approach to the disagreement?

Today’s Devotional: Our Refuge

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Where do you turn in times of trouble?

If you’re like me you’ll try everything but God when life gets difficult: friends, work, church duties. On their own, they’re not bad things, yet compared to what we need they’re mere distractions. The Today devotional reminds us this morning that God is our only true refuge. Until we run to Him we’ll never find rest:

The psalmist names God as our refuge from powers that tear at our peace. We are invited to know him as our rock and fortress, a sheltering presence when we feel overwhelmed by a world full of arrogance and intrigue. It’s a mistake to think shelter happens just by getting cozy with other Christians—although Christian friends certainly are important. Only the Holy One provides security for the frightened soul. We soon discover that the world snared in our own hearts is what terrorizes us most. We need our Maker as our Refuge—and nothing less.

Read the rest of the devotional at thisistoday.com.

Have you been avoiding God in the midst of your troubles?

Today’s Devotional: Beyond the Trifling Things

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Do you make it a habit to thank God for the spiritual blessings He’s given you?

Most of us do a good job of thanking God for our material and relational blessings, but sometimes we forget to thank God for His greatest gift to us: forgiveness. A. W. Tozer draws our attention to the eternal life that God has given us:

We ought to spend more time remembering the blessings and the benefits God is continually giving us while we are alive-before we leave this vale of tears! He gives us forgivenes – so we are to live for Him as forgiven sinners. He gives us eternal life. This is not just a future reality – our life in Him is a present bestowment. He gives us sonship: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God!” In this relationship there are many other gifts we receive from God, and if we do not possess them it is because we are not God’s children in faith! We ask God to help us, to meet some need, to do something for you, and the Lord mercifully does it. I consider these the little and the trifling things, yet we make a great deal of them. But they are really the passing things compared to the great present benefactions of forgiveness, reinstatement in favor with God, sonship and eternal life!

Read the rest of the devotional at cmalliance.org.

Take some time today to thank God for your salvation, every other blessing we’ve been given pales in comparison.

Today’s Devotional: Loving God

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Why do you call yourself a Christian? Is it out of duty to a past decision? Or because you’re still in love with God?

As time passes it can be easy to forget our first passionate declaration of faith. Consequently, we begin to see our relationship with God as one in which we need to appease Him. As our devotional from Our Daily Bread today reminds us, our faith should be informed primarily by an all encompassing love for God and His ways:

When Jesus was asked to name the greatest command in the Law, He replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matt. 22:37-38). The questioner wanted to test Jesus, but the Lord answered him with the key element in pleasing God. First and foremost, our relationship with Him is a matter of the heart.

If we see God as a taskmaster and consider obedience to Him as a burden, then we have joined those of whom the Lord said, “I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev. 2:4).

Would you say that your faith in God is based on love or something else? If it’s based on something else, what would it take for you to remember and pursue the original love commitment that lead you to Him?

Just a quick note on the relaxed posting schedule over the past few weeks. Most of our team was out on vacation, but we’re slowly getting caught up and getting back into the swing of things. We hope you had a wonderful Holiday season!

Today’s Devotional: The Source of Our Success

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Humility is almost easy to practice when life is difficult. Our circumstances remind us of our need to rely on God. However, when life is going well we have a tendency to pridefully take credit for our success.

Our Daily Bread this morning relates the story of King Uzziah’s downfall. Uzziah allowed his pride to consume him and he ignored God’s role in his success. As a consequence he was struck with leprosy:

Dwight L. Moody said, “When a man thinks he has got a good deal of strength, and is self-confident, you may look for his downfall. It may be years before it comes to light, but it is already commenced.” This was true of King Uzziah.

[...]

Uzziah’s life was one of great power and human success until he became blinded by it. His pride was evidenced in several ways: he challenged God’s holiness by trespassing the temple and presuming upon a position he would never be able to have (v.16); he viewed God’s power as good but not absolutely necessary for his leadership (vv.5,16); he refused godly correction and counsel (vv.18-19); he bypassed his opportunity to repent; and he ignored, instead of feared, the consequences of his sin (vv.18-19).

Read the rest of the devotional at odb.org.

Are there any areas of success in your life that you haven’t given credit to God for?

Being Still this Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

This is a repost from 2007 Gospel.com post titled, A Thanksgiving Reflection from Gospel.com. 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 Gospel.com 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: 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: 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?