Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Commands of Christ: Follow Me

Have a Tent Mind-Set!

Welcome to our second week of meditation! In order to live out Christ’s second command, we must comprehend the rich insights of a “tent mind-set.”

Command Two:

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).
Those who heard the call to follow Jesus understood that it meant forsaking their way of life and being trained by Him as a disciple.
This is consistent with God’s call to Abraham. Abraham was told to leave his land, kindred, and father’s house and follow the Lord to a land of promise. In the process, he learned the mind-set of a tent-dweller. When Abraham’s descendants went down to Egypt (symbolic of the world), they lost their tent perspective. Soon the pressure of their bondage caused them to cry out to God for deliverance.
God brought them “out of the house of bondage” (see Deuteronomy 13:5) and restored their perspective of tent dwelling in the wilderness. God also lived with them in a tent (the Tabernacle) and had them look to heaven for their daily bread and daily direction. In the land of promise they lived in goodly houses, but God warned them never to lose their tent mind-set. So, He established an annual feast in which they would live in a tent for one week and be reminded of their total dependence upon God. (See Leviticus 23:34.)
A tent mind-set is realizing that this world is not our home and that we are on a holy pursuit of God’s kingdom with total dependence on Him as “strangers and pilgrims.”
Peter speaks of this mind-set as a powerful basis for conquering lust: “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (I Peter 2:11).
A tent mind-set helps us lay aside temporal things and see the value in eternal things, such as discipling others. Therefore, when a would-be follower of Jesus volunteered his services, Jesus immediately focused on his need for a tent mind-set by saying, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). There is nothing wrong with living in a house as long as we don’t lose a tent mind-set and view our home as a temporary base from which to fulfill the Great Commission.
Congratulations for completing your first week!


Get a Double Portion!

The invitation to follow Jesus is no small matter. The more we follow Him, the more we will become like Him. Imagine what this will mean for daily success! We will multiply our wisdom, because Jesus is ultimate wisdom, and “he that walketh with wise men shall be wise” (Proverbs 13:20).
We will also gain the rare quality of creativity that is so essential to success, because Jesus is the Creator. (See John 1:3.) Most of all, we will grow in the character of Christ, because He is the perfect expression of all the character qualities of God.
In addition to all of these benefits, there is something even more exciting.
Those who follow Jesus can receive a “double portion” of His power if they fulfill one important requirement. Do you know what it is?
Many heroes of faith accomplished greater things than the one they followed because they fulfilled this one prerequisite.
  • Samuel served Eli and then accomplished greater things than Eli.
  • Joshua served Moses and then accomplished what Moses failed to do.
  • David served Saul and achieved greater victories than Saul.
  • Elisha served Elijah and got a double portion of his power.
Each one of these men remained faithful until the end. Elijah explained this prerequisite when Elisha asked him for a double portion of his power. “…If thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee….” (II Kings 2:10).
Jesus made the same stipulation when He said to His disciples, “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22). The word saved is the Greek word sozo, which can refer to physical, emotional, or spiritual vibrancy. During the ministry of Jesus, many disciples became offended and stopped following Him, but Jesus said of those who remained faithful:
“…The works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12).
The faithful disciples had a double portion of Jesus’ power because the Holy Spirit was sent to them. And, through the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, they accomplished great things for God. Let’s purpose now to follow their example by faithfully following Jesus until the end.


Follow Very Closely!

The crowds followed Jesus, but only those closest to Him heard the rich teaching He gave along the way. There were others who followed Him from afar. (See John 19:38.) John followed Jesus as closely as he could. As a result, John heard rich truths, which he shares in his writings.
Closeness is determined by how well we can hear Jesus speak to us, and this ability is determined by how much we meditate on His Word day and night.
John was one of the three who were in Jesus’ “inner circle.” He was with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and on the mount of Calvary. He sat right next to Jesus at the Last Supper and wanted to sit next to Him in His kingdom. Because of this very close relationship, John shared truths from Jesus that are found in no other gospel or epistle.
For example, John recorded the secret of intimate fellowship and effective discipleship through meditation on the commands of Christ. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). John further emphasized the importance of meditation when he wrote, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).
Secrets bind the spirits of people together. Jesus wants to share His secrets with us, but we must follow closely to hear them.
Does your walk with Jesus allow Him to whisper secrets to you, or does He have to shout to get your attention? The more you meditate on Christ’s words, the closer your walk with Him will be!


Use Transformed “Rods”!

Meditation is imagining the action involved in carrying out the command. For example, imagine what would happen if you were Peter or Andrew and heard Jesus’ call to follow Him and be made a fisher of men. There is a principle here.
Jesus will take our talents and skills and transform them for eternal achievement. This is what He did with Matthew’s experience as a tax collector. Matthew teaches more about money in his Gospel than any other writer. The same principle is true with David; his shepherding skills were transformed by God into tools with which to shepherd, or care for, the whole nation of Israel. The skills he used for the sheep were applied to taking care of people. “So he [David] fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands” (Psalm 78:72). However, before God can use our skills, something must happen.
God will use whatever we bring to Him, but it must first be transformed by an action on our part. That action is demonstrated by the rod of Moses.
When God called Moses to follow Him back to Egypt and deliver the nation of Israel from bondage, He asked Moses to cast down his rod. That rod represented his skill and livelihood as a shepherd. The rod became a snake and was so terrifying that Moses fled from it. What a precise picture of personal skills and abilities that are not dedicated to God.
Once the rod was given to God and seen in a totally new light by Moses, God told him to pick it up. When he did, it was transformed into a new rod. No longer was it referred to as the rod of Moses, but rather the rod of God, and with it God was able to accomplish great and mighty deeds, which brought much glory to Him.
God will not use our skills or abilities, but He will transform them into His skills and abilities when we place them at His feet.
As a young boy I had an interest in drawing, but I had no unusual skill. However, when I dedicated my body to God at about the age of twelve, God took my interest in drawing and directed it to chalk art. As a result, millions of people have received spiritual encouragement and direction from the drawings. What “rods” do you presently have in your hand that are going to “bite you” if you don’t give them to God today?


Fish With Light!

As we continue meditating on Christ’s second command, we see that the ultimate purpose for following Jesus is to become fishers of men. God loves people, and He wants us to draw as many as we can to Him; it is not His will that any should perish. But how will He make us effective fishermen? The answer is found in an understanding of fishing methods of Christ’s day.
Peter and Andrew were fishing with nets during the day. That is when Jesus called them. However, James and John were mending their nets, indicating that they fished at night, which can be far more effective.
God’s way to fish is to attract people with Christ’s light in us and then draw them in with nets of love.
It is for the purpose of drawing people to Christ that Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14) and Paul wrote, “Ye are light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). The intensity of the brightness of our light is directly proportional to our meditation day and night, because Scripture itself is light. When it becomes a living part of our lives, we increase our brightness.
Scripture states, “The entrance of thy words giveth light” (Psalm 119:130) and “…it giveth light unto all that are in the house” (Matthew 5:15). It is especially significant that God relates His commandments to the function of light: “The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:8).
At night, the fishermen in Jesus’ day suspended lamps out from the boat and attracted fish to the light. Scripture states that the word of God is a “lamp” and a “light” (Psalm 119:105).
Is our light bright enough to attract others to Christ, and do we have enough love to draw them in?
The reason that Christ’s commands are so effective in drawing people to Christ is that they are all practical expressions of loving God and loving one another. In fact, Jesus explained that the entire Law and prophets hung on two commands: loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Let’s turn up our light by intensifying our meditation day and night!

Reject Deceptive Lures!

When we think of fishing, we tend to picture a fisherman with rod and reel. He is casting out his line with bait and hook. The bait is designed to look as close to the real thing as possible.
When the fish bite the bait, they are hooked and reeled in. Would this be a method that Jesus would use to draw people to the Gospel? Imagine the conflict and turmoil of such a “catch”! These “fish” were not drawn to the light but drawn to deceptive bait. They expected one thing and got another.
Attracting people with lures rather than light will draw “light haters” into the church, and their mission will be to extinguish the light.
Haters of light are committed to a way of life that is contrary to the holy standards of God’s Word. Jesus describes them by saying, “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:20–21).
Paul understood the damage that results from using deceptive lures. He wrote, “We … have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (II Corinthians 4:1–2). The word deceitfully is translated from the Greek word doloo, which means “to adulterate for the sake of personal gain.” Mixing the Gospel with human traditions is an example of this adulteration.
Mixing the light of Christ with the lusts of the world is a contradiction to the Gospel of Christ.
John makes it very clear that the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life are not of the Father, but are of the world. Therefore, if we use things that are not of God to lure people to God, we are contradicting the very message we preach.
May God give us discernment to attract people by the brilliant light of Christ rather than the clever manipulation of deceptive lures!

Record Your Progress!

Congratulations on finishing the second week of daily meditation. By now the living power of God’s Word should be having a significant effect upon your life and the lives of those around you. Today is an excellent day to record what is happening. Such a record is important for the following reasons:
  1. Your written report proves to your family that you are committed to daily success.
  2. It forces you to honestly evaluate how consistent and effective you have been.
  3. It encourages your family to trust you because you are in daily contact with God.
  4. It creates a longing in your family to seek after the God you love.
  5. It preserves a valuable record for your children and their children.
Ten years from now, your Daily Success journal will be a powerful encouragement to you. Fifty years from now, it will be an inspiring challenge to your descendants.
It is important that you record victories and defeats in daily meditation. It is also important to note the responses of others in your family. Here are some examples:
This week I started strong, but things at work piled up and crowded out my meditation. I now see that the less I meditated, the more pressure I experienced.
I have been quoting Scripture back to God while going to sleep, and it has definitely improved my quality of rest. I did, however, have some unusual dreams.
One night I went to bed with a question, and during the night God gave me the answer. This was a thrilling experience!
I was encouraged when my young son asked me what it meant to meditate day and night. I was able to explain it to him, and now he wants to join me.
Meditation should not be something we have to stop to do, but should become a natural expression of our thoughts throughout the day.
Millions of people today find tremendous strength and encouragement because one man was faithful in writing out his daily experiences of meditation. His name is David—a man after God’s own heart!

I've given you a taste of the first two weeks of the  Daily Success Program, if you like what you see please leave me a comment and I'll send you an invite to get the emails in your own inbox. There is no charge at all, just a pile of challenges!
Shalom!

Friday, August 12, 2011

I Am David

by Anne Holm. More info on book here.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It made me think long and hard about how I respond to life.  I found that I came up short....I take too many things for granted in this western culture we live in.  Comfort is a "requirement" not a luxury.  A huge variety of food is a "requirement" if we don't want to "feel" poor.  How have we gotten so spoiled in this thing we call life?

I plan to read this book again and again and adjust my attitudes towards my expectations in life and I also plan to read it aloud to the family so we can adjust together....so we can see the beauty of YHVH's Creation and not dwell on the uncomfortable muggy day etc....kind of like the lesson that Mary Poppins teaches her charges when she sings the song "Spoon full of Sugar".

A fabulous attitude adjustment is what the rest of Aug. is going to be all about in our house!  And perhaps we'll watch the movie based on this book in Sept! 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Commands of Christ: Repent

 For the next little while I'll be posting a "command" every week.  Please keep in mind that just because I'm reading these every day doesn't mean I agree with everything...If I find something to be questionable or if I have some insight to share I will share in the comments, if YOU read it and find something questionable, I would love to hear from you as well!! Feel free to comment! I'd love to hear if something blesses you or you have further insight into something as well.

http://iblp.org/iblp/discipleship/dailysuccess/commands/01/?dse

Welcome to Your First Day of the Daily Success Plan!

We are thrilled that this plan has the best guarantee in the world—it is guaranteed by God Himself. However, we must never forget that the guarantee is based on one requirement—to meditate on God’s Law day and night. The purpose of this entire plan is to encourage and motivate us to be faithful in doing this.
The Law of Moses is a shadow of the brilliant light of Christ’s commands. Thus, for our first week of meditation, we will concentrate on the following verse:

Command One:

“Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).
Our plan is to memorize this verse and quote it back to God at least ten times throughout the day. On our Web site dailysuccess.org, you will receive a wealth of practical information on this plan to help you meditate day and night.
For each command, we have a study question. If you can answer this question, you will understand the essence of the command. Why not read the study question to your whole family in the morning and see what their answers are by the evening?

Study Question One:

“Why did Esau find no place of repentance for simply selling his birthright while David found repentance for adultery and murder?” (See Hebrews 12:16–17 and Psalms 51.)
We want to explain how each command is directly related to success, so how does repentance relate? Repentance puts us into fellowship with the Lord and allows Him to bless everything we do. Our greatest asset is the blessing of the Lord, because “the blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich and he addeth no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22). Without God’s blessing, Satan is given opportunity to devour our strength, family, health, and resources, so that there is no possible way to be successful.
Another major key to success is to understand why God designed our day to begin in the evening and not the morning. This key will be explained in tomorrow’s e-mail.

Start Your Day in the Evening!

First let’s answer the question of why Esau failed to find repentance for simply selling his birthright even though he sought it desperately with tears. Esau’s repentance was faulty because he did not understand true repentance. He was a profane fornicator (see Hebrews 12:16–17), and he simply wanted to regain the blessings that he had lost (see Genesis 25:33–34).
However, when David was confronted with his sin, he repented for the right reason. He wanted to restore fellowship with God. If we repent for any other reason than this we are not experiencing true repentance. (See Psalm 51.)1
Now let’s discuss the question of why God designed the day to begin in the evening rather than in the morning. “The evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5).
  • The evening is the most important part of our day because it affects the quality of our sleep and sets our mental attitude for the rest of the day. Therefore, people do not “get up on the wrong side of the bed”; they go to bed on the “wrong side.”
  • The evening is the best time to evaluate the achievements of the previous day and to set new goals for the next day.
  • As we go to sleep meditating on Scripture and setting our goals before the Lord, our minds will be cleansed (this may produce unusual dreams). Then we will experience an exciting phenomenon: our “reins will instruct us in the night seasons” (see Psalm 16:7). This means that God will give us practical insights from His Word and clear direction, which will have a profound impact on the success of our lives.
This has been one of the most exciting experiences of my life. It is how the questions for this study came into being, including the question on true repentance. If we meditate on the wisdom of God’s Word, we can claim this promise: “I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions” (Proverbs 8:12).
Remember! Our responsibility is to meditate day and night. God’s responsibility is to give us creative insights and direction. “The entrance of thy words giveth light” (Psalm 119:130).

Be Cleansed by the Word

How would you evaluate your success in meditating day and night? Whatever your answer is, don’t be discouraged!
You cannot imagine the delight and admiration of family that you are producing because of your commitment to daily success!
They have reason to be grateful and joyful, because as you cleanse your heart and mind with the Word of God, a supernatural work also takes place in them.
Paul speaks of this when he tells husbands to cleanse their wives with the washing of the Word (see Ephesians 5:25–33). This does not mean to get your wife to read the Bible or even to read it to her. It means to cleanse your own heart and soul by engrafting the pure Word of God into it. Jesus affirmed this meaning when He prayed in John 17:19: “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” If Jesus sanctified Himself through the truth for our sakes, how much more should we do it for those who are under our spiritual care?
The fact is that children reap the benefits of their father’s successes, but they also experience the consequences of their defeats.

Family Question:

Abraham lied to Pharaoh by saying that his beautiful wife was his sister and Pharaoh heaped riches on Abraham. There is no record of Abraham’s repentance. Instead he justified his deception by saying Sarah was indeed his half-sister. Did any consequences result from Abraham’s lie?
The surprising answer will come tomorrow. As you meditate on the command to repent, are there things that God is wanting to cleanse out of your life?

Repent With Sincerity!

As we meditate on the command to repent and call upon God for understanding, He will reveal to us the true essence of repentance and also give us the grace to do it. One of the best ways to understand repentance is by reading the prayers of those who did repent in Scripture. One such prayer is Psalm 51.
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1–2).
James describes sincere repentance by calling for our laughter to be turned to mourning and our joy to be turned to heaviness. He exhorts us to cleanse our hands of past sins and purify our hearts of double-mindedness. (See James 4.)
The rewards of true repentance are not only a clear conscience and restored fellowship with God, but also a Godly heritage for our children and grandchildren. The failures of parents can affect children for generations to come, as in the case of Abraham.
After Abraham returned from Egypt, where he got riches by deception, God blessed him; however, the blessing began with the horror of darkness. (See Genesis 15:5–17.) This was a strange setting for a blessing until we realize what God was doing. He informed Abraham that his descendants would be in Egypt as slaves for 400 years, but that God would judge Egypt and in the end Abraham’s family would be freed from bondage and taken to the land God promised to Abraham. (See Genesis 15:12–13.)
Could it be that God was sending Abraham’s descendants down to Egypt for 400 years to pay back the riches that Abraham got by deception? If so, it was a high price to pay for failure to repent and make restitution!
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
David broke through to genuine repentance when he realized that even though his sins hurt other people, they were primarily against God. Therefore, he prayed, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight” (Psalm 51:4). Let’s begin our repentance now by praying the words of Psalm 51 back to God.

Conquer the Greatest Sin!

One day the president of a successful real estate company stood before his sales staff of about one hundred. After presenting several new properties, he stated, “My success story has been written up in a national business magazine. If you would like a copy, just see my secretary.”
A lightning bolt of dismay and tension struck the staff. Angry looks were exchanged, and murmuring began: “Who does he think he is?! We are the ones that made this company successful! It is our success story, not his.”
That very afternoon, several of his top salesmen quit and formed their own company. Soon there was not enough money to close contracts, so the president used money from other escrow accounts, which is a federal offense. Within six months, the once-successful company was dissolved, and the president began serving a prison sentence, all because of the lack of one character quality—humility.
“By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life” (Proverbs 22:4).
Pride is the sin that God hates the most and punishes the swiftest. Pride caused Satan and a third of the angels to be cast out of heaven. Pride was the cause of Adam and Eve’s dismissal from the Garden of Eden. It is also the cause of our unrepentance over sin, which keeps God from blessing us with riches, honor, and life. “Pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way … do I hate” (Proverbs 8:13). God resists the proud and so do people. That is why conflicts are stirred up, because “only by pride cometh contention” (Proverbs 13:10).
Pride is putting ourselves on an equal level with God. It is reserving for ourselves the right to decide what is right or wrong. Our pride is what put Jesus on the cross. We are just like those who said, “We will not have this man reign over us.”
Pride is projecting on the outside what is not true on the inside. Today, let’s conquer this primary hindrance to daily success by humbling ourselves before a holy God and making things right with all those whom we have offended.

Put Spirit Over Mind

The secret of effective meditation is quoting Scripture back to God with the spirit rather than the mind. This means that rather than trying to intellectually understand God’s truth, we discern it by His Spirit speaking to our spirit because “the things of the Spirit of God … are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14).
If we evaluate Scripture with the mind we tend to become proud, because “knowledge puffeth up,” but if Scripture “evaluates” the heart, we become humble because it exposes our secret sins.
By coming to Scripture with our spirit, we cry out, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24).
Your spirit has direct access to God’s Spirit, because “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). The Spirit of God has direct access to the conscience and is able to activate it with the spiritual understanding of what is right and what is wrong as we meditate upon His truth. It is this intimate fellowship of Spirit-to-spirit communication that constitutes true meditation and results in daily success.
Scripture is “the wisdom of God” and is given to us “in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world.” God determined that this wisdom would be “unto our glory.” However, it is revealed to us only “by his Spirit for the Spirit searcheth all things: yea, the deep things of God” (I Corinthians 2:7–10).
“The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23).
Our natural inclination is to simply quote Scripture back to God as a mental or intellectual exercise. This will rob us of the riches of God’s wisdom and the joy of His fellowship. Therefore, we must bring the mind under the control of God’s Spirit with a definite act of the will.
Thus, it would be wise to pray, “Heavenly Father, right now I do place my mind under the control of Your Holy Spirit and the authority of Your Word.” With this prayer, you have just taken a giant step toward daily success.

Write It Down!

How often have we heard these words “Write it down or you’ll forget it”? If that is true for our daily efficiency, how much truer is it for the treasures of our experiences with God’s Word?
One of the greatest heritages that you could pass on to your descendants is a written account of your walk with God. The struggles and trials that you experienced and the steps that you took to overcome them will be a tremendous resource to those who follow you.
You do not know what you are thinking until you write it down.
When you begin keeping a written record of your experiences, you will become much more alert to the people and events that affect your life. You will learn how to be precise with words and ideas. The result will be a greater ability to communicate truth with others, and this is an important foundation for daily success.
So, what should you include in your “daily success journal”? Here are some ideas:
  • How consistent were you able to be during this first week of meditation?
  • What hindered you from keeping Scripture before your mind?
  • What was your experience in meditating before going to sleep?
  • Did you have any unusual dreams?
  • How were you able to personalize the Scripture?
  • What practical applications have you applied from this command?
  • How has God blessed you or your family this week?
You might be encouraged to know that God is also writing a journal about you:
“Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name” (Malachi 3:16).
Congratulations for completing your first week!

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I hope this blesses you as it has me!  Be sure to go to the link above for more info on the various daily lessons.