WORDDEVO: "The Weekly Word with Calvary Chapel Blogs" [11-11 thru 11-17]

Seven Days of Devotion

The Weekly Word is a Collection of Devotionals to be read on the Day Listed and presented freely as a service to and for the Body of Christ and Believers throughout the World that We may Hear God Speak to us as the Spirit of God gives us ears to hear and eyes to see what God would have for us daily in relationship to Him. 

 A Profound Need for Love 

Chuck Smith

 

A profound need to love and be loved lies at the very center of the human heart. Yet despite this obvious fact, the world clearly suffers from a shortage of love. In fact, our world screams for love.

Just look around. Everywhere you turn, you see the effects of people seeking love, desperately trying to fill their lives with something. When they cannot find true love, they turn to substitutes: drugs, sex, fame, fortune—anything to fill the hole in their soul.

“Chuck,” you may say, “I disagree. I think there is plenty of love in the world. I love my kids. I love my spouse. I try to love my neighbor. I am full of love. And I know many other people who are just like me.”

I understand. We are all in the process of trying to love—and in many cases, we really do show love to those around us. But the point is not: Do we love? but rather, do we love as God wants us to love? In other words, do we love with the love of God in Christ? Sure, we love our family, yes, we love our friends; and at times, we might even love our neighbor. But many of us do not love as Jesus calls us to love—uncon­ditionally, with grace, and influenced by the truth of God’s Word.

That is the kind of love our world craves. And that is the only kind of love that will satisfy our deepest longings.

Our core problem, I believe, is that we badly misunderstand love. We think it has its source in us. It does not. To truly understand and prac­tice love, we need to begin by grasping the true source: God Himself. All true love depends on God as its Author and Conduit. Otherwise, true love will never flow.

Genuine love begins with God and His unchanging character. God is love. In fact, He loved us long before we loved anything. The very act of our loving begins with God—in both receiving His love and returning that love. Only then can we fully love others.

This means that if you truly want to love a person, you must first under­stand God’s love. Once you begin to grasp His love, you can begin to enthusiastically reflect it back to Him. And out of that delightful over­flow, you can genuinely love others.

True love relies—at every point—upon God. Only then can love have its greatest effect in your life and in mine.

- excerpted from Love The More Excellent Way by Chuck Smith

 

  MONDAY

Apollos and the Google Effect

 David Guzik

Teaching through Acts, I was recently impressed by this phrase used to describe Apollos from Alexandria: mighty in the Scriptures (Acts 18:24). It’s a remarkable compliment paid to Apollos, especially considering the circumstances.

From Acts 18:24-28, we know that Apollos was from Alexandria and that he was Jewish (yet he had name inspired by Greco-Roman culture, not Jewish culture). We know that he came from Alexandria to Ephesus, though perhaps not directly. We know that he was eloquent, that he had been instructed in the way of the Lord (Acts 18:25), and that he was passionate in what he both believed and taught – which he taught accurately (again, Acts 18:25). Add to all that, Luke tells us that Apollos was mighty in the Scriptures.

Here’s the strange part. Apollos had an effective ministry at the synagogue in Ephesus, teaching accurately, eloquently, passionately, and boldly. Yet, he knew only the baptism of John (Acts 18:25) needing and receiving the instruction of Aquila and Priscilla, whom Paul left in Ephesus as they accompanied him on his return to Antioch on his second missionary expedition. Aquila and Priscilla heard the passionate preaching of Apollos in the Ephesian synagogue and knew they should teach him more about the fullness of who Jesus is and what He did for us in His life, death, and resurrection.

Yet all those great things are noted in Acts 18:24-25 about Apollos before he had much depth of understanding regarding who Jesus is and what He did.

Therefore, “mighty in the Scriptures” refers more to the depth and passion of Apollos’ knowledge than it does the spread or breadth of his knowledge. We could say that Apollos didn’t know much, but what he knew, he knew it deeply and was fervently convinced of it.

It’s easy to think that our effectiveness in preaching, teaching, or serving God in other ways depends on how much we know about the Bible and theology. Many are hesitant to teach others (either one-on-one or groups) because they feel they don’t know enough. I believe the example of Apollos makes us think differently, suggesting that even if we don’t know much, if we know it deeply and passionately, we can be effective in teaching and reaching others.

I hope that no one misunderstands me – it is good to know more and more, and to gain a greater breadth of Biblical and theological knowledge. When Apollos knew more, he was even more effective for Jesus and His kingdom. Yet in our pursuit to know a little about many things, we shouldn’t neglect knowing some things deeply and passionately.

This is of special concern in our present day. We are in the midst of an information and technology revolution, and the effect of that revolution works against depth of belief and knowledge. Some researchers call it the Google Effect, noting how the popular search tool makes it easy to find information about countless things – yet makes little demand on either memory or deep thinking. With the mental muscles of memory and deep thinking not used, they become weaker and less effective.

In this and many other ways, our culture works against deep Biblical thought that leads to passionate belief – the kind of things that make someone mighty in the Scriptures. So our call is to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. We should be willing to make our mind and heart do the work that will make us mighty in the Scriptures.

 

TUESDAY

We All Need Love

Our church, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, has sent out missionaries to assist orphanages in Romania. While we preach the gospel there and disciple the people, do you know what is one of our primary reasons for going? It’s just to hold the infants. We want to cuddle them in our arms and love them.

Why?

Scientists tell us that an infant brain’s development depends upon touch and love. Children, like all of us, desire to be loved upon. Too little attention of this kind can result in a condition known as “failure to thrive.” If these infants do not get the love and touch they need, they become seriously at risk for lifelong mental and physical problems.

That’s why we send out teams to love and hold the babies.

It intrigues me that even babies have an inborn desire to be loved. Just as interesting is that many adults have a desire to love those babies in return. People simply want to love and be loved.

Clearly, the Lord has implanted this need for love deep within us. As human beings created in God’s image, we reflect Him who is love. The Bible describes love as a mutual exchange of giving and receiving—and we embrace this mutual exchange when we love God and love one another.

The wonderful reality of love is this: God so loved the world that He sent Jesus, His Son, to lay down His life on our behalf. And now He calls us, His people, to spend our days loving as Jesus would have us love, through the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s what love is all about.

If you ever want to approach God for anything, it is vitally important that you understand His character. If you do not know that God is merciful, then it will be difficult for you to ask Him for mercy. If you do not realize that He is gracious, then it will be difficult for you to ask Him for grace. Knowing the character of God gives you the rock-solid confidence to come to Him with joyful expectancy.

And here’s the great Bible truth about God’s character: He is love (1 John 4:8, 16). God’s love never fails! God has never stopped loving you. He does not love you when you are good and hate you when you are bad. God’s love for you remains constant and unchanging. It cannot fail. God continually pours out His love upon your life, for His love for you does not depend upon what you are, but upon Who He is.

And quite simply, “God is love.” That’s the place to begin.

I want to encourage you to gaze for a little while into the loving eyes of our heavenly Father. And then reflect that divine love back to the Source. Then, and only then, I challenge you to direct His love to the people around us—to those whom Jesus died to save.

Love is a magnificent and glorious truth of who God is. The Lord is our great example of love. And we fulfill His purpose for us when we become conduits of His love to those who desperately need it.

 

- excerpted from Love The More Excellent Way by Chuck Smith

 

 
 

 

WEDNESDAY

An Eternal Covenant of Love 

 Chuck Smith

The apostle John tells us,

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10).

God’s love for us is so great that He wants to spend eternity with us—not, “until death do us part,” but “until death unites us forever.”

On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus took a cup of wine and said to His disciples, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). This new covenant is a love covenant. Because of God’s great love, Jesus gave His life for you. He took your sins, your guilt, your condemnation, your just desserts. He took the penalty and the wrath of God against you and your sin, and in its place He established God’s love covenant with you through His death.

And now God invites you to enter into that love covenant with Him. He wants you to become His child so that He can live His life through you. He wants others to know of His love through you.

Many parents, dads especially, like to live their lives through their sons. My dad was no exception. When I was just two years old, he put a glove in my hand and started throwing baseballs to me. By the time I was four, I could proficiently field any ball. Dad always seemed to be throwing footballs at me or shooting basketball hoops in the yard. In my teen years after I scored a touchdown, I could always hear my dad’s voice above the hundreds of fans yelling and cheering. He could out-yell them all! I’m told that he would bow to the people in the stands and say, “That’s my son.”

In a sense, my dad lived his life through his son, hoping that my achievements would exceed his. I knew he felt proud of me, his son, and gloried in the acclaim that came to me through my athletic exploits.

I think our heavenly Father feels much the same. At two special moments in the earthly life of Jesus, God took great pains to say, “That’s My boy!” At Jesus’ baptism, for example, a voice rang out from heaven:

“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). In other words, “Hey, folks—that’s My boy!” Again at the Mount of Transfiguration, God said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5).

Today, your Father God wants to live His life through you. As you enter into this covenant of love, it becomes possible for God to express His life—His nature, His desires, and His actions—through you. God wants your life to testify to Who He is. He wants you to do great exploits for Him. By entering into this love covenant with God, the Lord can begin to use you to reveal Himself to the world around you.

Through this love covenant, God agrees to provide for you and to take care of you. He pledges to watch over you, to keep you, to shield you and to protect you. The author of Psalm 91 begins by writing,

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust” (Psalm 91:1-2).

By the end of the psalm, God Himself starts speaking:

Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation (vv. 14-16).

That’s God describing what He’ll do for you when you enter into this love covenant with Him. All of these rich blessings and amazing benefits are yours when you “set your love upon Him.”

 

 

 

THURSDAY  

His Banner Over You

Several years ago we received an invitation to join the king of Tonga for a celebration of his birthday. We gathered with hundreds of others on a soccer field where we saw table after table—some 300 feet long—loaded with food. There had to be a quarter of a mile of savory dishes covering these tables—succulent pigs and all kinds of fruit, and too many culinary delights to number.

Each island group invited to the feast had a banner above its assigned table so that the guests could know where to sit. Soon we found our group and we sat down to enjoy a thoroughly memorable meal. I’ve never seen so much food! The king provided a fabulous royal banquet to celebrate his birthday. And as I sat there, I couldn’t help but think of a favorite Scripture from the Old Testament:

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love (Song of Solomon 2:4).

Have you ever entered a large banquet hall where a grand dinner was about to be served? Perhaps you saw thousands of settings but didn’t know where you were to sit. So you started searching to find the right place, but nothing looked promising. Finally you spotted a familiar banner across the hall and you made your way over to it. There you began looking on the table for your own nametag. When at last you found your place, you said, “There is my nametag. Here is where I sit.” And so you sat down and waited for the meal to begin.

Jesus has given you just such a special place. Can you see it? His banner over you is love. He loves you more than you can understand, more than you can know. His love for you is far better than unconditional. He loves you actively, personally, thoughtfully. And He does so knowing everything about you.

During courtship we often do our best to hide the truth about ourselves. We have come to love this person and we fear that if he or she knew the whole truth, the love would end. And so we go in with a bit of deceit.

Maybe he spills a soda on you and you say, “Oh, that’s all right. My, that doesn’t matter a bit. I can get it cleaned, no problem.” While inside you’re thinking, You clumsy oaf! What’s wrong with you? Or maybe he takes you out to McDonald’s for three nights in a row. You smile and say, “McDonald’s, how wonderful. I think that’s great! Yes, I like fries and Big Macs.” And you act so sweet. But beneath the smiles you’re thinking, You cheapskate, why don’t you take me someplace where they use plates?

We don’t dare reveal the truth, however, because we want this person to think we’re always sweet and smiling. We never get angry or upset. We always present ourselves as the very soul of graciousness.

Now, why do we engage in such deceit? We do so because we’re afraid that if this person knew the real truth, he or she might stop liking us. So we keep it up until the day we get married—and then what a shock we get as our beloved begins to express his or her real feelings and we learn the truth.

Frankly, this is the wonderful thing about the love of Jesus. He knew the truth about you all the while! Before you ever enter His covenant of love, He already knows all there is to know about you—even things you don’t know yourself. He knows every one of your bad qualities—and loves you anyhow. He loves you despite your weaknesses. The Lord knows you backwards and forwards, inside and out, upside and down, and yet still He loves you. So He invites you to His banqueting table and His banner over you is love. He wishes to announce to the whole assembly, to the world, “This is the one I love. This is My beloved.”

 

 

 

  FRIDAY

 Revelation on Revelation

 Brian Brodersen

 

Over the past few weeks, I have been meditating on the book of Revelation and finding myself unusually moved during my reading times. What I mean by "unusually" moved is that I have felt almost a part of the book as I've been reading it. Everything seemed to be clearer than usual this time through, and I found myself resonating with every word of that great prophecy.

I walked away with a greater sense of the absolute certainty of the things contained in the book. Whether it was the redeemed rejoicing around the throne of God; or the righteous judgments coming upon the obstinately unrepentant; or the two witnesses prophesying in Jerusalem for three-and-a-half years and then being slain by the beast, only to be raised by God three days later; or the gathering of the beast and the kings of the earth to make war with the Lamb; or the return of Christ when the beast and the false prophet are cast into the lake of fire, Satan is bound for a thousand years, and the saints live and reign with Christ on the earth; or the new heavens and new earth, the holy city the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven; the walls of the city made up of precious stones, its gates made of pearl with the names of the twelve tribes of the Israel over each gate, the foundation stones engraved with the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; the tree of life, the throne of God, and the Lamb, no temple or night for the Lord God and the Lamb are its temple and its light, no sin, no curse, no end to the glory! All of these great and glorious truths stirred me to want to shout out: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15).

Occasionally over these past few weeks, I would share a few things with Cheryl that the Lord had impressed on me during my reading, and each time she would come back with some gem that she had picked up while doing an in-depth study of the book last year. As I finished the last two chapters, these words hit me so powerfully: “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (Rev. 21:6). What hit me strongly was the sureness of it all—the absolute truth of this last and greatest book of prophecy!

Sadly, many people have been discouraged from reading or studying Revelation. Some say it’s just too hard to understand. But the book itself tells us there is a blessing promised to those who read and hear it.

Granted, there are some challenging portions to the book, but the overall message is crystal clear: “‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me ‘Write for these words are true and faithful’” (Rev. 21:3-5).

Are you anxious and worried about life? About your future? About the future? I know a great remedy: the book of Revelation! Take some time; read it, meditate on it, believe it, and receive God’s joy and peace as you get a look at the future from His perspective. 

 

SATURDAY

The Unconscious Ill-Equippin 

Bill Walden

The good Bible teaching that occurs in many churches is not enough to equip Christ following congregants to interact effectively with the world.  In fact, I believe that some pastors are unconsciously hindering their flocks, and are, as a result, “ill-equipping” them for the work of ministry.  

I recently heard a tremendous quote, and I will try to paraphrase.  The speaker spoke of the American Church and said, “We are a subculture of a sub culture.  We read each other’s book, we sing each other’s songs, and we scratch each other’s backs”.

I completely agree that the Body of Christ is a sub culture, and that each movement or denomination is a further sub culture, and finally, that each individual church within a movement or denomination is a sub, sub, sub culture.  There is nothing wrong with that…to a point.

Each culture and sub culture has its own language.  The lack of awareness that we (the Church) have regarding our sub, sub culture language is the thing that concerns me. What do we sound like to the world?

As followers of Jesus, we have been given the Great Commission, to “make disciples of all nations”.  Most of the people in our churches understand and agree with that.

However, here is the rub.  Here is the problem.  The people in our churches often parrot the words they hear us pastors speak.  If they hear us only speak “Christianese”, and our particular brand of “Christianese”, then that is how many of them will speak.  They will seek to explain the eternal truths of God by using language that is familiar only to their sub, sub culture.

I believe that we who stand in the pulpit need to speak in the language of our culture and of the current generation.  We do not need to descend into vulgar speaking or innuendo, but we need to communicate the truths of Jesus in ways that would make sense to any unbeliever walking in off the street.

The purpose for that is not just for the unbeliever who walks into our church.  The bigger and perhaps more important purpose is that we will equip our churches to use words that the unbelieving world will recognize.  Without telling them how to communicate the Gospel, we will be bestowing upon them a language, a vocabulary, and a communication style, whereby they will be unconsciously equipped to speak to an unbelieving world.

A word to those who preach and teach: Let us be careful to not use decades old “Christianese” simply because that is what we grew up on.  May the younger generation of pastors not only use the Christian sub culture language of their generation. May we read and listen widely, that we may adopt the language of this generation, so that we might more effectively preach the Gospel, and equip our listeners to share the Gospel in a language that can be understood by the world around us.

 

 

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WORDDEVO: "The Weekly Word with Rick Warren" [11-11 thru 11-17] DEVOTIONALS

 

Seven Days of Devotion
The Weekly Word is a Collection of Devotionals to be read on the Day Listed and presented freely as a service to and for the Body of Christ and Believers throughout the World that We may Hear God Speak to us as the Spirit of God gives us ears to hear and eyes to see what God would have for us daily in relationship to Him. 

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6 NLT)

It takes years for us to grow to adulthood, and it takes a full season for fruit to mature and ripen. The same is true for the fruit of the Spirit. The development of Christlike character cannot be rushed. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, takes time.

When you try to ripen fruit quickly, it loses its flavor. In America, tomatoes are usually picked unripened so they won't bruise during shipping to the stores. Then, before they are sold, these green tomatoes are sprayed with CO2 gas to turn them red instantly. Gassed tomatoes are edible, but they are no match to the flavor of a vine-ripened tomato that is allowed to mature slowly.

While we worry about how fast we grow, God is concerned about how strong we grow. God views our lives from and for eternity, so he is never in a hurry.

Billy Graham associate Lane Adams once compared the process of spiritual growth to the strategy the Allies used in World War II to liberate islands in the South Pacific. First they would "soften up" an island, weakening the resistance by shelling the enemy strongholds with bombs from offshore ships.

Next, a small group of Marines would invade the island and establish a "beachhead"—a tiny fragment of the island that they could control. Once the beachhead was secured, they would begin the long process of liberating the rest of the island, one bit of territory at a time.

Eventually the entire island would be brought under control, but not without some costly battles.

Adams drew this parallel: Before Christ invades our lives at conversion, he sometimes has to "soften us up" by allowing problems we can't handle. While some open their lives to Christ the first time he knocks on the door, most of us are resistant and defensive. Our pre-conversion experience is Jesus saying, "Behold I stand at the door and bomb!"

The moment you open yourself to Christ, God gets a "beachhead" in your life. You may think you have surrendered all your life to him, but the truth is, there is a lot to your life that you aren't even aware of. You can only give God as much of you as you understand at that moment. That's okay.

Once Christ is given a beachhead, he begins the campaign to take over more and more territory until all of your life is completely his. There will be struggles and battles, but the outcome will never be in doubt. God has promised that "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion."  (Philippians 1:6, NIV)

 
  MONDAY
 
 Be patient with God and with yourself

"Don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed." (James 1:4 Msg)

 

Be patient with God and with yourself. One of life's frustrations is that God's timetable is rarely the same as ours. We are often in a hurry when God isn't. You may feel frustrated with the seemingly slow progress you're making in life.

Remember that God is never in a hurry, but he is always on time. He will use your entire lifetime to prepare you for your role in eternity.

The Bible is filled with examples of how God uses a long process to develop character, especially in leaders. He took eighty years to prepare Moses, including forty in the wilderness. For 14,600 days Moses kept waiting and wondering, "Is it time yet?" But God kept saying, "Not yet."

Contrary to popular book titles, there are no Easy Steps to Maturity or Secrets of Instant Sainthood. When God wants to make a giant oak, he takes a hundred years, but when he want to make a mushroom, he does it overnight.

Great souls are grown through struggles and storms and seasons of suffering. Be patient with the process. James advised, "Don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed." (James 1:4 Msg)

Don't get discouraged. When Habakkuk became depressed because he didn't think God was acting quickly enough, God had this to say: "These things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!" (Habakkuk 2:3 LB)

A delay is not a denial from God!

Remember how far you've come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be. Years ago people wore a popular button with the letters PBPGINFWMY. It stood for "Please Be Patient, God Is Not Finished With Me Yet." God isn't finished with you, either, so keep on moving forward. Even the snail reached the ark by persevering!  
 
TUESDAY

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Proverbs 3:9 (NLT)

God promises to meet all your financial needs, if you (1) ask him for help; (2) learn to be content; and (3) practice giving in faith --

There is a universal law called the principle of sowing and reaping. If I sow criticism, I'm going to reap criticism. If I sow generosity, it's going to come back to me, and I'm going to reap generosity.

Every farmer knows this. A farmer has four sacks of seed in his barn and he looks at his empty field. He doesn't complain, "There's no crop! I wish there was a crop!" He just goes out and starts planting seed. When you have a need, plant a seed.

It seems illogical that when I have a need, I should give. That's why it requires faith. God says, "My ways are not your ways."

Why did God set it up that way? Because God is a giver. He is the most generous giver in the universe, and God wants you to learn to be like him. He wants to build character in you.

The Bible says, "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce." (Proverbs 3:9, NLT) This is the principle of tithing. It's the principle that says every time I make $100 -- the first $10 goes back to God.

Tithing is an act of worship. We're giving to God. We're saying, "All of it came from you anyway." God says, "Put me first in your life and watch what I do." You may think you can't afford to tithe, but the reality is, you can't afford not to.

Tomorrow we'll look at maintaining integrity, another condition for answered prayer
 
WEDNESDAY

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. John 3:17-18 (NIV)

Jesus came to do whatever was necessary to cleanse us of our sins so that we could come home to the Father. Again and again, we see Jesus in the New Testament willing to use his power to heal; we see him willing to use his authority to cleanse.

If, while Earth-bound, Jesus showed compassion for people in need, why would he be any different today? The difference is not with him; it is with the lie within us that whispers God sent his son into the world to condemn it, not to save -- a contradiction of God's Word, which says, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned ...." (John 3:17 NIV)

Can you hear the hiss of the serpent saying the yoke of Jesus is heavy and hard, and so we must hide from the Truth?

A man with a dreaded disease once came to Jesus and said, "Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean."

Jesus reached out and touched the man, saying, "I do want to. Be clean!"

At once the man was healed of his disease. (based on Matthew 8:2-3 TEV)

Today, Jesus still says, "I do want to!"

He wants us to be with him in his kingdom. (John 17:24) His whole mission was to "rescue us from the present evil age." (Galatians 1:4 NIV)
 
 
  THURSDAY

"Teacher," he asked, "which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.' Matthew 22:36-39 (TEV)

Any successful marriage is built upon the biblical truth that God designed each of us with five purposes in mind: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and missions.

I suppose you'd expect a man who's been married over 30 years to a beautiful, intelligent woman would be able to share with you the intimate secrets to having a perfect marriage.

But I'm going to disappoint you! That's because Kay and I don't have a perfect marriage. She is without a doubt my best friend, and we have a wonderful relationship -- but as far as a perfect marriage, well, there's no such thing.

What Kay and I do have is a marriage centered on Christ, specifically focused on glorifying God. We remain committed to each other because we remain committed to Christ and his work within us.

Jesus said the greatest commandment is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." The he added, "The second most important commandment is like it: 'Love your [spouse] as you love yourself.'" (Matthew 22:37, 39, TEV)

In this sense, you worship God when you love and sacrifice for your spouse. That brings pleasure to God, and any time you give pleasure to God, you're worshiping him. Read through Romans 12 with a view of what its applications would mean to your marriage: "Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other." (Romans 12:10, NLT)
 
 
FRIDAY  

For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them. Matthew 18:20 (TEV)

Any successful marriage is built upon the biblical truth that God designed each of us with five purposes in mind: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and missions.

Until you realize you and your mate were placed together for God's purposes, then your marriage will be difficult, complicated, and exhausting. But once you understand God's plan, your marriage takes on new meaning.

You and your spouse were formed for God's family. God made an incredible promise about the gathering of even just two believers: "For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them." (Matthew 18:20, TEV)

So if both you and your spouse are believers, God is already in your marriage working to transform the two of you into a purpose driven family!

Your marriage is a lab for learning how to love like Jesus loves. Within marriage, God has created an opportunity for us to develop a true intimacy and authenticity with another human being.

To go this deep requires genuine, heart-to-heart, gut-level sharing, where you and your spouse get honest about who you are and what's happening in your lives. This happens when you both share your hurts, reveal your feelings, confess your failures, disclose your doubts, admit your fears, acknowledge your weaknesses, and ask each other for help and prayer  
 
 

 

SATURDAY

Biblical Marriage -

Growing in Christ Together
by Rick Warren

I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you. John 13:15 (TEV)

Any successful marriage is built upon the biblical truth that God designed each of us with five purposes in mind: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and missions.

You and your spouse were both created to become like Christ. God uses your spouse to build his values, attitudes, morals, and character within you. God uses your spouse, and your relationship with each other, to form you into an image of Jesus.

Once you understand this, a lot of what happens within your marriage will begin to make more sense. When you start to ask, "Why is this happening to me?" The answer is -- to make you more like Jesus!

If God's purpose for each of our lives is to make us look more like Jesus, what better tool could he use than the marriage relationship? Who better for God to use to chisel you than the person you live with seven days a week? God is using each of you to shape the other person more and more into the image of Jesus.

God's work within your marriage is designed to produce "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control" within you and your spouse. (Galatians 5:22-23, TEV 

 

 


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WORDDEVO: "The Weekly Word with Mike MacIntosh" [11-11 thru 11-17] DEVOTIONALS

 

 

Seven Days of Devotion

The Weekly Word is a Collection of Devotionals to be read on the Day Listed and presented freely as a service to and for the Body of Christ and Believers throughout the World that We may Hear God Speak to us as the Spirit of God gives us ears to hear and eyes to see what God would have for us daily in relationship to Him.

 

"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. And the second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Matthew 22:37-39

Growing up, I tended to push the envelope. I think I was thrown out of more bars than I walked into. I wasn't a bad guy, but I was always getting into mischievous trouble. Why? Deep down, I felt empty. I feared I would never amount to anything. I was afraid of what people might do to me. I feared where I was headed, but I feared changing course. I lived in perpetual fear... and I blamed myself.

Years later, as a new Christian, I came across a verse that changed my life. 1 John 3:20 says, "For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things." Boy, I could relate! If anyone had a condemning heart, I did. I carried such guilt. I knew God loved me enough to forgive my every sin, but I was afraid to forgive myself. In essence, I had made God smaller than myself -- I had allowed my own sense of guilt and sinfulness to trump the perfecting work of His love in my life. One thing had always stood in my way: fear.

The opposite of love is fear. Perfect love and fear cannot coexist, because "perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). Where there is fear, love is lacking. And in my heart, God's love was lacking. You see, I'd never realized that all the guilt, shame, bitterness, and anger in my life was rooted in fear. I was afraid of love, because I didn't think I deserved it. From the moment I allowed God to uproot the fear, I realized the sheer power of His love. I didn't have to defend myself. I didn't need to strive to be somebody. If God was in charge, why should I fear? "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).

All the Lord requires of us is love -- to love Him, and to love others. That's it. All the commandments boil down to this one thing: love. Nothing is more powerful than the perfect love of Jesus Christ. Today, allow His love to permeate every cell of your body. Let Him cast out all the fear in your heart, and the sin it causes. Let His love bring forgiveness and restoration to you, your family, your friends, and your enemies. Let Him give you a love for others that you've never known or experienced, and that radically transforms your world. "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:8).


 

 MONDAY

And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Matthew 23:12

Jesus never got angry with anyone... except the religious leaders of His day. He never yelled at a teenager for having sex on a Friday night. He never scolded anyone for smoking a joint, or getting drunk, or stealing from a business partner. Instead, He always said, "Repent."

But it was a different story with the religious leaders. Jesus didn't hesitate to rebuke the scribes and Pharisees. And He did it in front of the people who respected them most -- the public.

The scribes and Pharisees were hugely popular among the people of Jesus' time.

Unlike the Sadducees, who were the "snobby," upper-class aristocrats, the scribes and Pharisees were mostly middle-class businessmen, lawyers, and judges. Even though the Sadducees were technically more powerful, the scribes and Pharisees were much more famous -- and they knew it.

They liked that the people looked to them for the interpretation of the truth, rather than looking to God. They liked making themselves the peoples' only access to God. But Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).

You see, the scribes and Pharisees had exalted themselves to the very throne that Jesus came to occupy. They had made themselves the "way" and the "truth" -- except they neither had the power to give life to one lost soul, nor did they even desire such a thing; they only wanted power and fame for themselves.

They didn't love the people -- they thought they were better than the people. They didn't care for the people -- they burdened the people. And Jesus would not tolerate it. Four times in Matthew 23, He says, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees!" Is it a surprise that Jesus would want to warn the multitudes of such vultures? Is it any wonder that He would be outraged by such pride?

Today, who sits on the throne of your heart?

Is it you? Are you, like the Pharisees, living only for yourself, even when it burdens and impedes others? When we exalt ourselves, we tell the world that this is exactly the case. But if Jesus Christ sits on the throne of your heart, He will be life to you, and you will bring life to others.

Some of us walk around with these big burdens on our shoulders, but if you will place Jesus on the throne of your heart, you will be totally free -- free from religion and the entanglements that men have put in your way; free from the stumbling blocks that make you feel guilty. God is madly in love with you. Not just a little bit. His love is overpowering. He forgives you of your sins, and He sets you free. Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

May I encourage you to exalt Jesus higher and higher in your life. Make Him the center of everything. Don't exalt yourself, and don't look to others who exalt themselves. Matthew 23:11 says that "he who is greatest among you shall be your servant."

 

Humble yourself, and become someone, like Jesus, who gives, who loves, who pours out their life for others -- and who never asks for anything in return. That is being a servant... and that is greatness.

 

 


   

TUESDAY

But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Matthew 24:37-39

A little boy was invited to dinner for the first time in his life. He would just be going to his next-door neighbor's house, but to him, this was a huge event. "See ya, Mom! See ya, Dad!" he hollered as he raced to the house next door. When they sat down at the table to eat, the boy, who was raised in a Christian home, bowed his head. "Lord, thank you for this food," he began to pray out loud. But nobody stopped; everyone kept passing food across the table.

The little boy opened his eyes and asked, without a hint of embarrassment, "Don't you people thank God for your food?" After an awkward silence, the lady of the house said, "No, honey, we don't." The little fellow thought for a moment. "You know, you're like my dogs" he told them. "They just start right in."

You and I can be like that, can't we? We can make $100,000 on a real estate deal, and not give God a penny. We can "start right in," carelessly feasting on the food before us, ignorant of God's graciousness to provide it. But when we lose $100,000, we're quick to cry out to God. When things go wrong, we look to Him with eyes of desperation. Why? Because instead of loving God, we think we can use Him. Instead of blessing God with our gifts, talents, finances -- you name it -- we expect God to bless us. We are self-focused. And we are deceived.

The people of Noah's time were living the good life. They ate, they drank, and they partied. And that's not necessarily bad. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says that "whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." But the people were self-focused, not God-focused. They didn't eat and drink to celebrate God, but to satisfy themselves.

When Noah warned of God's imminent judgment, a world-wide flood, they mocked him. "Oh come on, that's ridiculous!" they must have said, laughing. After all, it had never rained! They had never even heard of a flood! But must God use means with which we are familiar? Must He work in ways we expect? Because the people couldn't even imagine such a substantial work of God, they were swept away by it. "So also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:39).

You see, deception comes through selfishness. When our hopes and dreams are only rooted in self-glory, not only do we miss the glory of God -- we can't even imagine it. When our eyes are fixed on ourselves, not only are we oblivious to God -- we assume His role in our lives. Self-focus always results in self-deception because when we lose sight of God, we lose sight of our purpose.

Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and [you shall love] your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27). That is our purpose, lest we deceive ourselves.

Today, we live in days very similar to the days of Noah. Jesus Christ is coming to take you home, and what a glorious day it will be to stand in His presence and worship Him "in the beauty of holiness" (Psalm 96:9)! But you must be prepared. Don't live a self-centered life; you only deceive yourself. Give your life to Jesus, and live for His glory.  

 

 

WEDNESDAY

For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.
Matthew 25:29

On March 26, 1994, Ronald Opus jumped from the top of a ten-story building, intending to commit suicide. He died that day, but not from the ten-story leap. As he fell past the 9th floor, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast passing through a window, which killed him instantly.

Neither the shooter nor the deceased was aware that a safety net had been installed just below the 8th floor to protect building workers. Were it not for the gunshot, Mr. Opus would have lived.

Here's what happened. An elderly man and his wife, who had been arguing vigorously, occupied the 9th-floor room where the shotgun blast emanated. The man had been threatening his wife with the gun, and became so upset that he pulled the trigger and missed his wife completely. The pellets went through the window, striking Mr. Opus.

Bizarrely, the elderly man told authorities that it was a long-standing habit of his to threaten his wife with an unloaded shotgun, but that he never had any intent to kill her. Someone else, he insisted, had loaded the gun.

And sure enough, a witness confirmed that the couples' son had done so. An investigation found that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support, and that the son had loaded the gun, knowing his father's propensity to threaten her with it. He wanted his mother dead. But it doesn't end there.

Authorities determined that the son would be guilty of murder, even though he had not actually pulled the trigger.

After all, the blood of Ronald Opus was on his hands. But as the investigation continued, authorities were shocked to find that the son was, in fact, Ronald Opus. He had become despondent over his failure to engineer his mother's murder, and had jumped off the ten-story building, only to be killed by the shotgun blast passing through the 9th-story window.

Ronald Opus had actually murdered himself.

Unbelievable. When I heard that story, I thought, "What a waste!" Here was a man who valued life so little -- his mother's life, his father's life, and his own life -- that he actively pursued death. He tried to kill not only his mother, but himself.

He had been given the greatest resources available -- life, family, health -- and in squandering his family's lives, lost his own. He held such little value in that which he had been given that he murdered the last resource that ultimately mattered to him: himself.

You know, the way we treat our resources says a lot about what we value. We don't squander that which we hold dear. We don't let go to waste that which holds potential. Jesus tells the parable in Matthew 25 of a master who gives his three servants a measure of money. The first two servants invest the money, and make the master a profit.

But the third servant does nothing with it. And without notice, the master takes the money from the third servant, giving it to the servant who had more. Why? Because the third servant didn't value the little he'd been given. Sure, he says he did, but he sat on it. Maybe he didn't realize its potential to grow. Maybe he didn't care, or was afraid. Whatever the case, the master took the money away. You see, if we truly value the resources God has given us, we will use them. If we hold dear our life, our family, our health -- we will do everything we can not only to preserve them, but to invest in them.

No doubt, God has given us amazing resources. Do you realize the value of your breath? Of your family? Of God's Word? Of His power to work in and through you?

 

Today, don't squander God's blessings.

 

Don't sit on the gifts he's given you. Actively invest in them, grow them, and realize their potential. May we become people who appreciate and use the awesome resources God has given us!


 

THURSDAY

And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table.
Matthew 26:6-7

Years ago, a chaplain friend of mine in northern California received a 2:00 AM phone call.  It was the Highway Patrol, and they needed him right away -- there had been an accident, and it was ugly.  So he raced to the scene, exhausted, but eager to help.  As he pulled up, he saw car parts everywhere and the typical ominous, swirling police lights. "How can I help?" he asked an officer.  "Chaplain, this is one of the worst accidents we've seen, but we need to identify the victim, the driver..."  Without hesitation, the chaplain interrupted, saying, "I'll do it; I'll get in the car somehow."  He walked up to the shattered car; the driver's body was beyond recognition.  He pulled out the driver's wallet, and froze.  The driver was his son.

Understandably, he flipped out, unable to absorb what was happening.  That night, he broke the news to his wife that their only son had lost his life on Interstate 5.  It was the start of a horrible time in his life -- a time of anger and bitterness towards God.  A time of brokenness and unanswered questions.

Shortly thereafter, he received another phone call, this time from back east.  Terrorists had just flown two planes into the World Trade Center towers, and the voice on the other end of the line pleaded, "We need you to come to Ground Zero."  He refused.  It was the last place he wanted to go.  Months passed, though, and that Christmas, after some convincing from his wife, he packed his bags and made the trip to New York.

Walking Ground Zero, he encountered a devastated couple, still wondering if their daughter had been killed in the attacks.  "Can you tell me about her?" he asked them.  He wrote down her description -- 24 years old, brown hair, brown eyes, 115 pounds -- and said he'd ask around.  Later that day, as he walked inside the police perimeter, a truck came around the corner, filled with debris.  As it passed by, something fell off the back, and he randomly picked it up.  Pulling out his notes, he realized what he had just found: the identification for the couples' missing daughter.

He went back to the couple, hugged them, and cried.  And cried, and cried.  "Is this your daughter?"  Mom and Dad fell apart.  But that day, the chaplain was able to put it all in perspective.  God healed his heart that day, and used him to lead the couple to Jesus.

You know, it's amazing how God not only loves the broken-hearted -- He uses them to bring love and healing to other broken-hearted people.  In Matthew 26, Jesus visits the home of someone who knew what it felt like to be broken-hearted: a leper.  Here was a man who had been ostracized and rejected not only by his friends and family, but even by the religious leaders of his day.  Jesus, though, freely visited his home.  He loved this leper, even when everyone else rejected him.  Why?  Because Jesus, too, was broken-hearted.

You see, Jesus knew that He would be crucified in only a matter of days.  He knew the burden of sin He would carry as He would be tortured and nailed to a cross.  And it broke His heart.  But there, in the leper's home of all places, a woman poured out expensive fragrant oil over His head to bless Him.  Can you imagine how encouraged Jesus must have felt?  Can you imagine how blessed He must have been by this woman, broken before her Lord, sacrificing her costly fragrance to honor Him?  The disciples, though, grumbled amongst themselves.  "This fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor," they reasoned (Matthew 26:9).  They didn't share Jesus' brokenness, and couldn't minister to Him. They didn't understand.

Maybe today you feel like a failure, or an outcast, or that you'll never amount to anything.  Maybe you, like my chaplain friend, are broken-hearted and crushed.  Jesus understands.  He loves you, and He wants to heal you.  He suffered great loss -- even death on a cross -- because He cares for you so much.  Let Jesus heal your heart, and He will use you to heal others.

 

 

FRIDAY

 

Jesus said to Peter, "Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" And so said all the disciples.
Matthew 26:34-35

Peter and Judas were seemingly polar opposites.  Peter was pushy, presumptuous, aggressive, and often flippant with his mouth.  "Even if I have to die with You," he arrogantly announced to Jesus, "I will not deny You!"  Judas, on the other hand, flew under the radar.  He stayed in the background, unlike Peter, never making such bold statements.  But both men were arrogant.  Both acted selfishly.  And both betrayed Jesus.  Really, for all their apparent dissimilarities, they only differed in one major aspect: Peter had an authentic, loving relationship with Jesus Christ, and Judas didn't.

Judas had walked with Jesus, had heard Jesus teach, and had witnessed the miracles Jesus had performed.  He had seen Jesusfeed people, heal people, raise people from the dead -- and yet the whole time, had probably speculated, "How can I profit from whatJesus is doing?"  He had likely wondered to himself, "What's in it for me?"  Boy, his eyes must have lit up as he watched the Pharisees, seeing in them his golden opportunity to turn a profit.  Surely he could tell that they wanted Jesus dead, so he approached the chief priest with a bribe.  "What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?" he asked (Matthew 26:14).  And for thirty pieces of silver, Judas betrayed Jesus to them.

Peter, too, betrayed Jesus; He denied even knowing Him.  Not once, or even twice, but three times.  Matthew 26:74 says that he became so vehement in his denial that he "began to curse and swear, saying, 'I do not know the Man!'"  And immediately, as the rooster crowed, Peter realized his sin, remembering how pompously he had sworn toJesus that he would never deny Him -- the way he had just done.

Both men denied Jesus, but we see their hearts in the way they reacted.  Peter, when he realized his sin, "went out and wept bitterly" (Matthew 26:74).  Judas, on the other hand, "went out and hanged himself" (Matthew 27:5).  Peter reacted with tears of indignity; Judas attempted to salvage his dignity, with the selfish act of suicide.  Peter wept over his sin, while Judas ran from his.

You see, if Judas had any relationship with Jesus, it was so shallow and inconsequential that it could be undone by thirty mere pieces of silver.  If he loved Jesus, he wouldn't have tried to profit off Him.  If he truly knew Jesus, he wouldn't have run from his sin, but would have repented from it.  Peter, for all his flaws, not only recognized his sin, but wept over it, and repented from it.

We have all betrayed Jesus.  We have all sinned.  Romans 3:10 says, "There is none righteous, no, not one."  But may we be like Peter, who "wept bitterly" over his sin and repented.  Today, if you have an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ, you don't have to run from your sin -- you are forgiven!  If you will repent from your sin, "He is faithful and just to forgive us" (1 John 1:9).  Today, may you realize God's unfailing love for you, even as you inevitably fail him.  May you know the "width and length and depth and height" of the "love of Christ, which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:18-19).

SATURDAY

No grain offering which you bring to the LORD shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey in any offering to the LORD made by fire.
Leviticus 2:11

Any good marketing executive will tell you that in order to sell a new product to the public, you can't just tell your audience what it is; you must show them how it will improve their lives. In essence, you must show your audience a version of themselves that is happier, more attractive, and more fulfilled than the current, real version -- all because of your product. Weight loss ads, movie trailers, beer commercials -- they don't simply tell you about the product they're selling, but show you how consuming it in some way will make you happier and more fulfilled. Why does this work so well? Because we all want that which makes us happy. We all want to be fulfilled.

But when the world is quick to offer you the lure of happiness and the promise of fulfillment, do they really care about a more fulfilled, happier you? Of course not. To the world, you are simply a means to profit; you are a pawn to be played. The world wants us to act like it, dress like it, spend money like it, talk like it -- all for the sake of draining us of everything we hold dear. Is it any wonder, then, that in looking to the world for fulfillment, we end up drained? Is it any surprise that in trying to "fit in" with the world, we are gouged by it?

The Israelites had a bad habit of looking to the world and imitating it, just as we often do. But the Lord did not want the Israelites acting like, dressing like, or talking like the rest of the world. They were to be set apart -- a "special treasure to Me above all people" (Exodus 19:5) and "a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6). Notice in Leviticus 2:11 that the Lord forbid their grain offerings from being made with leaven or honey. This may sound like a small detail to us, but leaven and honey were used heavily by the Gentiles in making sacrifices to their false gods. The Lord was commanding His people to be unlike the Gentiles -- to make a different kind of sacrifice. He was calling His people to be set apart from the rest of the world.

We, like the Israelites, are called to be set apart. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world." But where the Lord commanded the Israelites to make a different kind of sacrifice, He calls us to be a different kind of sacrifice. We are to present our bodies a "living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God" (Romans 12:1). We are to not only act differently than the world, but to truly live differently. How else will the world ever know the power of God in our lives unless they first acknowledge a difference in us?

Proverbs 4:27 says, "Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil." Today, may I encourage you to look straight ahead into the loving eyes of Jesus, and follow Him -- and Him alone -- at all costs. Don't waste time looking to your left and your right. The world has nothing to offer you, but as a believer in Jesus Christ, you have something to offer the world. Be set apart. Look to Jesus, and let Him fulfill you.

 

 

 

THE WEEKLY WORD WITH MIKE MACINTOSH 

Can be found here:

http://theweeklywordmikemacintosh.blogspot.com/

 


 

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