Aside

Treasuring the Things of God – My Daily Bread!

Our encouragement to follow Christ is taken from Psalm 73: 2-3, NIV and it says

“But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.  For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” 

Does this sound familiar?  I’m sure it does!  Sometime or another we may have looked around and envied the advantages of others, especially those who do not call upon the name of the Lord and we may have wonder how did they get all ‘that’, they don’t even serve the Lord?  A good friend of mind reminded me that we have all been there at some point in our lives; but the key is not to stay there for the effects can be devastating!

For the record, what is the definition of envy?  The Online Free Dictionary describes envy as ‘to feel resentful or painful desire for another’s advantages or possessions’.  Another word for envy is covet.  Saints the resentful desire for others ‘stuff’ can lead to discontent with our own ‘stuff’ and circumstances.  Our discontent if not checked can lead to other actions that are not pleasing to God.

There is a compelling story in the Word about a man who was envious and the horrible consequences of his actions to himself and his family.   It is the story of Achan, which is told in the book of Joshua Chapter 7.   Achan was of the tribe of Judah and when we first meet him, a terrible tragedy has just occurred to the Nation of Israel.  The Israelites had just witnessed God’s victory at the city of Jericho where the walls of Jericho were shouted down; the Israelites first military campaign to conquer the Land of Canaan, the promised inheritance of Abraham.  The tragedy however occurred when they attempted to take the City of Ai, a much smaller town, not far from Jericho.  They were defeated!  What happened?

God told them what the problem was, He said to Joshua “Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep.  They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions.  That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies.  I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.  You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it.”  (vs. 11-13, NIV)

God had one caveat regarding the victory at Jericho; He expressly told them that everything in the city was to be destroyed except for Rahab and her family because she trusted in the Lord and helped the Israelite spies and the precious metals that were to be used in worship.  Everything else, including the people, clothes, animals were to be destroyed (devoted to the Lord).  (Joshua 6:15-19,NIV)  God was enacting His Judgment on the Canaanite City of Jericho for their evil practices and idolatry; nothing was to remain of them to remind the Israelites of their gross rebellion against God.   Someone had stolen something from the City of Jericho that should have been destroyed and now the entire nation stood in judgment.

When confronted Achan confessed and said “It is true, I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel.  This is what I have done.  When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them.  They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”  (vs 20-21, NIV)

Because of his sin, he along with his entire family and everything they possessed was destroyed!  But there were other devastating consequences of his sin:  many men died and the heart of God’s people melted in fear (vs. 5), Joshua questioned God (vs. 7-9) and God threatened to withdraw his presence from the Israelites (vs. 12).  God made it clear that sin was in the camp and until it was dealt with He could not abide with them!

Achan lost everything, including his blessings from God.  All of this sorrow stemmed from an intense desire to have something that was not his to have.  His envy lead to thievery and then concealment (lying) – ultimately direct defiance of God’s express command.  He may have thought that it was a small thing, but in the end, it proved to be bigger than life for him and his family.

Coveting and envy usually began with what we see with our eyes!  And as the Psalmist said, can make us ‘almost slip’ or ‘nearly lose’ our way with our God!  It can also affect others in our lives as well.  At the core of an envious heart is a heart that does not trust in the Lord to know and provide what we need.   So here is a sure remedy:  Ask the Lord to increase your faith in Him, take your eyes off of others and their ‘stuff’ and count your blessing through the eyes of God with a view towards eternity.  And remember, our riches are not measured as the world measures, but they are measured by the treasures of our Master, the King of the Universe who knows just what we need!

  Copyright© 2011-2013 Colleen Holton All Rights Reserved.

Aside

Remembering the Promises of God – My Daily Bread!

Our courage to believe in our God for His promises is taken from 2 Peter 1:3-4, NIV:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.  Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. “

Saints, what a beautiful picture of the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian!  We do not live by our own power; but by the divine power of the Living God.    It is through God’s divine power that we are given all we need for life!  It is only through the divine power of our Great God that we are able to attain to His godliness.   And here is the most treasured portion of this passage:  Because of His glory and goodness we are given His ‘great and precious promises’ which keeps us in His grace!

What are these ‘great and precious promises’ of the Lord?   Some that come to mind include:

Salvation, reconciliation and life through Christ: “this is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  (1 John 4: 9-10, NIV)  “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in  His Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”  (1 John 5: 11, NIV)

God with us:   “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave your nor forsake you.”  (Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV)

Forgiveness of sins and purification:  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1: 9, NIV)

God’s quickened Spirit within us:  “Now, it is God who has made us for this very purpose, and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”  (2 Corinthians 5:5, NIV)

That He will answer our prayers:  “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.”  (1 John 5: 14-15, NIV)

He will work out all things for our ultimate good:  “For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  (Roman 8:28, NIV)

He will supply all our needs:  “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4: 19, NIV)

God has a plan to prosper us in His Will:  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29: 11, NIV)

His Joy, Peace and Comfort:  “You have made known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”  (Psalm 16:11, NIV)  “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”   (Isaiah 26: 3, NIV)   “Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice O earth; burst into song, O mountains!  For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones.  (Isaiah 49: 13)

These are truly ‘great and precious promises’!  I pray Saints that they fill you to the utmost joy and praise!  For believing in them safeguards us from being consumed!  Ask God for increased courage to believe!

 Copyright© 2011-2013 Colleen Holton All Rights Reserved.

Aside

Rejoice in the Living Bread  – My Daily Bread!

Our call to desire Christ is taken from John 6: 33, 35-40, NIV, which reads:

“For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.  Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.  But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.  All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never drive away.  For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent Me.  And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given Me, but raise them up at the last day.  For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.’” 

What lead up to this profound truth of who Jesus was?  He made this awesome statement to a crowd that had followed Him after He had performed the miracle where He fed five thousand.   However they received an unexpected reply from Jesus when they found him.  Perhaps they expected to be commended by Jesus for being diligent in seeking Him out.  Instead Jesus revealed to them the truth of their hearts – namely that they followed Him “not because you saw the miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” (John 6: 26, NIV)  Jesus knew that their perspective was motivated by material gain rather than a true desire to understand the significance of who He really was, His mission and His message.

Then Jesus chastised them and told them to “not work for the food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life.”  (John 6: 27, NIV)  This comment from Jesus led them to ask Him “what must we do to do the works God requires?”  (John 4: 28, NIV)  They believed that they needed to do works in order to gain everlasting life.  Then Jesus confronted them with a shift in their spiritual paradigm, a colossal change in their thinking that would need to occur for them to see the Kingdom.  He simply said:  “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.”  (John 6: 29, NIV)

After this profound statement, they still did not believe, for they asked Him for a miraculous sign that they might see and believe; and they reminded Him of the manna that their forefathers were fed while in the wilderness.  They were minimizing Jesus’ miracle of feeding the 5,000 as something fairly insignificant when compared to manna for millions daily.  How did Jesus respond to their doubt and self-seeking materialism?

Christ in a few sentences shook their world upside down with the key passage above.  They wanted eternal life by a works ministry, He told them to get eternal life they had only to believe in Him, they wanted another sign, He told them that He was the sign, they spoke of temporal bread that satisfied for a little while, He spoke of life-giving bread that lasted an eternity and of a thirst that was forever quenched!   They spoke of their life on earth; Jesus spoke of the life that could be had in the resurrection!    They simply could not fathom that life would be very different in the Kingdom that Jesus was beginning to sketch for them.

Saints, sometimes God has the same kind of conversations with us today.  We come to Him with our heart closed and with our hands out expecting to get what we want; He opens our eyes to what it means to walk with Him, to accept our cross and follow Christ.   We come entangled and snared by the material things of this world; He strips away all the things not needed for His kingdom and focuses us on what He knows is important  – for He is preparing us for eternity.  We  come with our priorities all out of whack after living a lifetime with God on the fringes of our lives;  He lovingly shapes and molds us into the likeness  of His Son,  all the while fixing our hearts on the things that matter to Him.

And through it all, we come to appreciate that Jesus is our necessary food– the living bread that came down from Heaven to do the will of the Father.  That only through a relationship with Him can we enter into the Fathers rest!  Our Christ has the power to transform and remake us anew for He is the “way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through” Him.  (John 14:6, NIV)   Rejoice in the Living Bread, Oh the Bread of Heaven for He is risen and sits at the right hand of God!  Look to the Son, believe and receive the gift of eternal life!

 Copyright© 2011-2013 Colleen Holton All Rights Reserved.

Aside

I Hear an Answer to My Prayer – My Daily Bread!

Our call to trust mightily in the Lord comes to us today from Psalm 86: 4, 6-7, NKJV which reads:

“Rejoice the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.  Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications.  In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, for You will answer me.” 

Saints, in times of deep despair, we can rejoice that our God is always near.  Look to Him to bring and sustain your joy and remember that He is preparing you for Himself.   Know that God understands your circumstances and already has a plan.  Call upon Him, and have the courage to believe that “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”.  (Hebrews 11: 6, NKJV)

Prayer: O Lord, hold my fragile heart until your work is complete in me.  Do not let my soul grow faint by what my eyes can or cannot see, but bring joy to me!  Give ear to my prayer and cover me with your strength for today and enduring hope of your merciful blessings for all my tomorrows.  I hold onto You Lord for your loving kindness has been my comfort through the night and your peace, my shade by day.   My God, I know you will rejoice my soul for great is your faithfulness to me!

  Copyright© 2011-2013 Colleen Holton All Rights Reserved.

Aside

Truth in Love Leads to Growing in Christ!

Our inspirational prayers to God for our personal ‘Extreme Makeovers’ for this week will be based on, Ephesians 4:15, NIV.  During the next week reflect on this passage in light of your walk with the Lord and share your, prayers, thoughts, and comments with all whom the Lord commands.  May your witness stir someone’s faith in the Living God!  The passage reads:

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is Christ.”

Prayer: Lord, receive the meditations of our hearts, our prayers and comments as an acknowledgement that although we are Women of God, we are not whole in you.  Let me seize every opportunity to be a blessing to others.  We know you can make us complete; hear us O Lord and incline your ear to your servants as we pray in the Spirit, our Helper, that we may stand complete before You.  Amen.

Copyright© 2011-2013 Colleen Holton All Rights Reserved.