"Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness." (Psalm 150:1-2 KJV)Sometimes we get so busy asking God for things that we forget to praise Him. We can praise Him anywhere and in the verses above we are told to praise Him for His power and greatness. We praise God to glorify Him. The Bible says: "Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD." (Psalm 150:6 KJV) When we praise God we praise Him for who He is – His character and attributes. We should thank God for everything and praise Him continually. We praise God because He is worthy of praise. "And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?" (Deuteronomy 10:12-13 KJV) We are to fear the Lord, have reverence for Him. We are to obey His word and walk in His ways. We are to love Him and serve Him with all of our heart and soul. Although the Bible commands us to praise Him, praise should come naturally from a grateful heart. David praised God as his Deliverer and Savior. "And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies." (2 Samuel 22:2-4 KJV) In the New Testament we think of the word "Savior" as Jesus who saves us from our sins and gives us the gift of eternal life. That we surely can praise the Lord for. But in the Old testament, Savior referred to God delivering His people in time of danger and need. Oh, how we should praise Him for His help in times of trouble. The idea of praising God is giving thanks and honor to the One who is worthy of praise. The Book of Psalm is full of praises. "Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven." (Psalm 148:13 KJV) God wants us to come to Him for our needs and in times of suffering and trials, but He also wants us to praise Him just for who He is. If you know God as Your savior, that's a strong reason to praise Him. But He also restores, renews, heals, sustains, supplies, provides, strengthens…on and on we could go. The only reasonable response to all of this is "I praise You Lord!"
The study of the Word and growing in your relationship with Christ is critical to the life of a seminarian. We have provided a weekly devotional to help you in your journey towards the ministry God has called you to.
Praise Him, Praise Him, Jesus our blessed Redeemer...
Do you praise your LORD and Saviour?
Standing on the promises while sitting on the premises, or standing on the sure foundation of Christ?
"According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." (1 Corinthians 3:10-15 KJV) All Christians are God's workers, or should be. Nobody is left out and all are needed. Christians are servants for the Lord. They are to work together in unity without jealousy and quarreling. Christians need to remember that it is not them that is doing God's word, but it is God working in and through them enabling them to be good workers and servants. The Holy Spirit lives in every believer and He teaches and leads us. But just think about it…to be indwelled by the Holy Spirit is to live in the presence of God and to have God living in us. What a wonderful gift! A building is only as solid as its foundation and when we have Jesus as our foundation we have a solid foundation and a reason for being. Work that has been done on the foundation of Jesus will endure but work done in pride and for our own glory will be burned up. We are to humble ourselves and be holy so we can do good work for God. "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:13-16 KJV) We are to be mentally alert, disciplined and focused. To be holy as God is holy…holy in everything we do. Holiness means being totally devoted or dedicated to God, set aside for His special use and set apart from sin and its influence. We are to be set apart and different, not blending in with the crowd, yet not being different just for the sake of being different. What makes us different are God's characteristics in our lives. Our focus and priorities must be His. We cannot become holy on our own. The Holy Spirit will help us obey and will give us power to overcome sin when we yield to Him. "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue." (2 Peter 1:3 KJV) Are you living on the solid foundation?
In today's devotional, we examine the premise of Christian maturity. Question: Are you STILL a babe in Christ?
"And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?" (1 Corinthians 3:1-4 KJV) Are you spiritual or are you worldly? Are you a mere infant in Christ or an adult? There's a story about a preacher that kept preaching the same sermon over and over. Finally, the leaders of the church came to him and complained about hearing the same sermon over and over. The preacher responded by saying: "When you get this sermon right, then I'll preach another." We can know a lot about the Bible but still be mere infants in our faith. Unless we obey what God's word says, we will live and act just like the world does. Christians are in Christ and therefore should do all they can to live in unity. "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he thatwatereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." (1 Corinthians 3:5-9 KJV) All Christians are God's workers. Nobody is left out and everybody is needed. Nobody should think they are more needed or more important then others. "For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself." (Galatians 6:3 KJV) This kind of thinking comes from "babes" in Christ, not mature Christians. Remember, Jesus said, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:5 KJV) The only way we can become mature Christians is by allowing Jesus to live His life in and through us. While apart from Him we can do nothing, in Him we can do anything He calls us to do. Remember, it's not how much you know about the Bible, but how much of the Bible you obey. As we look back at the Scriptures above, jealousy and quarreling should not be a part of a Christian's life. We are to be servants of God and are to live in unity with one another. We cannot do this in our own strength, but praise God He has given us the Holy Spirit to give us the wisdom and strength we need to grow and become mature Christians. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13 KJV)
Do you have a spirit of self absorption and vanity? Let's see what the scripture says about this:
Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain." (Proverbs 30:8-9 KJV) We live in a "Give Me" world but sad to say, people aren't asking God to give them what the verses above say. People say, "Give me more things, more success, more money, more, more, more." However, wanting more is a never ending cycle…it can never be fulfilled. But when we desire less "worldly things" and more godly things, we will be able to live a fulfilling life. Have you ever noticed that when you got that one thing that you thought would satisfy your desire, it didn't? Or perhaps you have everything you have ever wanted but still you have times of sadness and loneliness and a need for something else to fulfill your life and give your contentment. No matter how much we have, we will never feel contentment until we know God and have a relationship with Him. Jesus said: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33 KJV) We can grow content as we look to God as our Provider. He has promised to provide all our needs. We often focus on our wants…we focus on what we do not have instead of all that we do have. The Bible says:"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content." (1 Timothy 6:6-8 KJV) We need to focus on the necessities of life and at the top of that list is to live godly lives. Much of our discontentment comes from desiring what the world has to offer and what others have. And yet, when we get those things, we are still not content. We can find contentment when we learn to thank God for what we do have instead of complaining about what we don't have."Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:5 KJV) We can have lots of money but without God we will never be content. Have you taken inventory recently of all that you have? Satan is the one that is directing us to focus on what we do not have so he can get us to doubt God's provision and loving care. So instead of saying, "Give me more things," ask God to help you live a godly life and to be content with what He gives you. "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." (Psalm 37:4 KJV)
In today's devotional, we will examine weather or not one of the most important questions in life applies to you...Do YOU want to hear God?
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV) Yesterday was Easter Sunday, or Resurrection Sunday. It is the day set aside that we remember the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus is alive! That's something we should celebrate every day. We know from the Scriptures that after Jesus arose from the grave that He appeared to many and talked with many. This is a true story, not just a fable as some people say. And although we have not seen Him, He still speaks to us today through His word. The Scripture is a record of God speaking to His people. And His word is alive and active. "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." (Hebrews 4:12-13 KJV) Yes, God's word was preached in verbal form, lived out in person by Jesus, and finally placed in written form which we have today. It is powerful, constantly working in human lives. It shows us where we are wrong in what we do, say, think and even feel. We would like to hide some of our thoughts and actions but we cannot. God knows everything. He knows what is best for us and He wants us to have what is best for us. That is why He has given us His powerful word. He wants us to talk to Him but He also wants us to listen to Him. One of the most encouraging passage in God's Word is where He tells us that it is His inspired word. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV) The Bible is God's love letter to us. It teaches children and adults how to receive salvation, provides guidance for living godly lives and gives us strength, courage, comfort and so much more. However, it won't do us any good unless we read it. And not just read it, but listen to what God is saying to us. People want to hear from God, but they don't want to take the time to read His word and spend time with Him. God wants to speak to us. Do you want to hear Him?
In today's devotional, we examine the question: Are we useful in God's work?
"Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins. But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter. How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end." (Jeremiah 12:1-4 KJV) We know and confess that God always does what is right but there are times we cannot see or understand why God does the things He does. Do you ever feel like Jeremiah and wonder why those who hate God and do not follow Him are prospering and seem to have everything they want, while those loving and obeying God are struggling with life? People often focus on what is seen and give up too quickly, rather than struggling on to achieve what God has planned for us. God said to Jeremiah: "If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously with thee; yea, they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee." (Jeremiah 12:5-6 KJV)Although it is the right thing to do, it is not always easy to follow God especially when even our family betrays us. We know that God's word teaches us that whatever comes into our lives is for a purpose and we need to trust Him and focus on His truth rather than the wicked and those who seemed to be prospering. God wants us to listen to Him, not to man. God will take care of the wicked. "This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing." (Jeremiah 13:10 KJV)This is referring to a linen belt that God used to show how Israel had been to God. (Read Jeremiah 13:1-11) They had let idols and sins corrupt them to the point they were no good to God. Have you allowed idols and sins to make you good for nothing? Have you refused to listen to God's Word? Why not do as Jeremiah did…"Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts." (Jeremiah 15:16 KJV) God's word brings joy and makes us useful to God.
How we deal with problems is key in our Christian lives. In this world, Jesus tells us, you WILL have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I (Jesus) have OVERCOME THE WORLD.
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." (2 Corinthians 4:8-10 KJV) It is difficult to understand how strength and blessing can come from brokenness but they do. The Bible tells us that although we may feel like trials are coming at us at every side we won't be crushed. Although we don't understand why, we can understand that God is with us and will help us so we do not need to feel desperate about the situation. Although we may be persecuted, God has promised never to leave us or forsake us. We may feel pretty beaten up but we will not be destroyed. Paul faced discouragement and many hardships but he knew God was in control and he placed his hope and faith in Jesus Christ. Paul believed that the trials in his life were for a purpose. "But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us." (2 Corinthians 1:9-10 KJV) Trials and hardship are tools in God's hands and He is reshaping, refining and refocusing our life so we can reflect the life of Christ to the world. Paul fought with emotional and physical difficulties. "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Corinthians 12:7-9 KJV) It is during times of trials and hardships that we learn to rely upon God's help and God's powerful grace is sufficient in all our weaknesses. We may feel like we are coming apart at the seams but when we give our fear and worry to Jesus, then something amazing will happen. Not only is His grace sufficient but we will also learn to be content as Paul had learned. "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:12-13 KJV) It really is no secret. God will provide whatever we need in all situations. We just need to learn to trust Him and believe He will do what He says He will do.
In today's blog we ask the age old question: What needs to be removed from my life in order to serve Jesus Christ better?
"From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." (Matthew 16:21-23 KJV) We probably read about Peter and shake our heads wondering why he did or said the things he said. But if we let the Scriptures truly speak to us, we may find out that we are a lot like Peter. In the passage above we find Peter telling Jesus what should happen. Jesus tells Peter that he is listening to Satan and is a stumbling block to Him. Do we sometimes listen to Satan, and become a stumbling block? In fact, we can become a stumbling block in many areas of our lives if they are not dealt with. How about forgiveness? Peter understood that he needed to forgive but he just wanted to know how many times he had to keep forgiving."Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:21-22 KJV) Before you start keeping track of how many times you have forgiven someone, Jesus' use of exaggeration is to let us know that there is no limit to forgiveness. As we continue to look at Peter, we again find him trying to tell Jesus what to do. "Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." (John 13:6-8 KJV) Many people can relate to Peter. Many times we try and tell God what to do. Just like Peter, we have many areas in our lives that need to be broken if we are going to be able to serve the Lord effectively. One more look at Peter in John, chapter 21. Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him and each time Peter says he does and each time Jesus tells Peter to feed and take care of his sheep. But again we find Peter questioning Jesus about John who was following behind them. "Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me." (John 21:21-22 KJV) Christians only have one requirement and that is to love Jesus so deeply that they are willing to do whatever He asks. What is in your life that is keeping you from being the person God wants you to be?
Today's devotional focuses on the great truth of spiritual judgement and reconciliation God has provided us in the person of Jesus Christ.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit – Romans 8:1
Here we find two descriptions of the same person — the person that is in Christ Jesus. Those that are in Christ Jesus are described first by their position and then by their practice. They have no condemnation against them, Paul says, and they walk after the Spirit instead of the flesh.
No condemnation! Because God is completely holy, even our greatest deeds and thoughts are sin-soaked, filthy rags in his perfect sight. We stand guilty before a virtuous and fair judge; justice will be served (he will not compromise his own righteousness in order to have mercy on us) and so we must be condemned.
But those who are in Christ have their punishment transferred to Jesus, so that they are without condemnation. Those who believe on Jesus Christ have the assurance that he has taken their place—acted as their substitute—and so, in spite of their great shortcomings, they are without condemnation. Christ's perfect sacrifice on their behalf has wiped their criminal record clean.
How do these pardoned sinners then live? They follow the promptings and leadership of the Spirit of God. As Paul explains a few verses later, "as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (14). They no longer follow the dictates of their corrupted nature or of the sinful world; they march to the beat of a spiritual Drummer, following the footsteps of their perfect Savior.
What a joy, what a privilege it is to be in Christ! Our desire, like Paul's, should therefore be to "be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Philippians 3:9).
No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. -Jesus referring to his l ife, John 10:18
He Did It Without Regret
'Tis the season of love. At this time of the year we usually think about love in the context of spousal love, or that which we have for our significant other. Visions of a baby in a diaper flying around and shooting arrows at sometimes unsuspecting couples are conjured in our minds. The Hallmark Channel is replete with love stories played so much that by the end of the season one can almost quote the entire script from memory. Occasionally, however, there comes an illustration of love in another realm that arrests our attention at this season. Here is one such account.
United States Senator Jake Garn of Utah did something most of us admire--and perhaps should consider doing ourselves. He donated one of his organs to save a life.
A recent survey says 73 percent of Americans approve organ donation. But only about 20 percent actually sign donor cards and make arrangements for our corneas, kidneys, or other organs to be used when we die.
In Senator Garn's case, however, he did not wait until his death to donate his left kidney. His 27-year-old daughter, Susan Garn Horne, suffered from progressive kidney failure due to diabetes. Her condition deteriorated, and doctors determined that she needed a kidney transplant immediately.
Jake Garn and his two sons were all found to be compatible donors. The senator insisted that he should be the one to give the kidney. "Her mother carried her for nine months," he said, "and I am honored to give her part of me."
So, on September 10, 1986, in a Washington, D.C. hospital, a six-hour surgical procedure was performed to remove one of his kidneys and to implant it into his daughter.
The radio news broadcast a story on Garns, and in it was a comment from the doctor who put the donated kidney into Susan's body. At a press briefing at Georgetown University Hospital, the doctor said, "The senator is awake, has a bit of a grin on his face. He seems very self-satisfied, and happy and peaceful."
The senator had to be in pain at that moment. The incision through which his kidney was removed goes from his back to his front ribs. There were tubes in him, needles yet to come, and several weeks of recuperation lying ahead. But he was smiling!
That grin on Jake Garn's face could have meant only one thing: no regrets. Love makes it possible for a person to do the most difficult and dreaded of things without looking back.
That is certainly a tremendous illustration of love-perhaps the greatest sacrifice a parent could make for his child. But there is another picture of love that is far greater. Think for a moment about what Jesus did to save you. He left the worship of angels to be born in a stable. He accepted the limitations of human form, suffered indignities of the greatest magnitude, and shed His lifeblood to purchase your redemption.
The most astounding thing about all He did is that there is not a word in the Bible which indicates that the Son of God regretted doing it. On the day of His ascension back to the Father, there may have been a bit of a grin on His face.
His only regret would come if you refused His gift of life.
This week's bulletin contributed by HBITS Vice-President, Dr. William Kryger