Tuesday, June 19, 2018

COME TO THE LORD AND GO OUT FOR HIM


Coming to the Lord for salvation is just the beginning. We must then be willing to go out for Him, obeying His will to reach others with His love and mercies. Through His Word, prayer, and fellowship with other believers, He will guide us in so doing. Blessings as you come and go for Him.

Eternal Perspectives               By Sally Bair

Comings and Goings
           
The squirrels and chipmunks are everywhere, it seems. They hurry and scurry from one backyard tree to another. They run across the patio and climb the bird feeders to steal food from them. It’s fun to watch their endless comings and goings.

Watching the critters, I’m reminded of my own comings and goings. Some days it seems that’s all I do—come and go, with nothing of value to show for my hurry-scurry.

Jesus, on the other hand, had a special coming, to earth, and a special going, to the cross. Since we believers are to follow His example, our comings and goings should have value as His did.

Jesus invites every one of us to come to Him—for healing, deliverance, and salvation. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

The best way we can come to Him for rest and sustenance is through daily, intentional, committed prayer and Bible reading. Once we come to Christ, we are told to go for Him. In fact, He commands us to “follow” Him. That going means we must be willing to go to the cross—that is, humble ourselves as He did, and deny ourselves so we will be holy, sacrificial servants of His love. Jesus means that we should make our love, devotion and service to Him our highest priority, even to the point of being willing to give up our physical lives for His sake. Followers of Him throughout the world have died and are still dying for their faith in Christ. Can we be willing to do less for His sake?

Jesus said, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)

Lord, forgive us for our frantic comings and goings. Give us the will and strength to take up Your cross and follow Your will, not our own. Help us remember to spend special time with You daily. In Jesus’ name, amen.




Tuesday, June 12, 2018

MEMORIES ABOUT GOD ARE THE BEST



Eternal Perspectives              by Sally Bair

I recently spent time with my sister to edit our life stories. We’re each writing a memoir about our childhood spent as identical twins. Along with her husband, who also grew up in the same area, we reminisced about the past. Many events and details that we thought we’d forgotten came back to mind.

Memories are like that. We recall them through our journals and diaries, and we share them during family get-togethers. As we remember a few, we recall others, and others, until they fill our minds like a tapestry waiting to be finished.

Memories can help us understand our present circumstances. As I write my memoir, I’m surprised how many of my remembrances show me a different perspective about my life. And they also remind me that I have the choice of which memories I want to keep and which I need to erase. When we keep the negative ones alive, we may tend to view our world as dark and dangerous. Positive memories, however—the ones that bring a laugh or a smile—can bring healing, health and joy. Others who hear us share good memories, and even bad memories that we can laugh about now, can’t help but rejoice with us.

God shows us the value of good memories through His Word. After He led His people across the Red Sea into freedom, He told them through Moses to “remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place ….” (Exodus 13:3)

King David, who faced many hardships and threats, took refuge in his memories of the Lord’s past help. “I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds.” (Psalm 77:11)

The more time we spend in God’s Word and in remembering the good things, the more we will remember His mercies. In doing so, we will keep a positive outlook regardless what is going on around us. And when we do tend to forget, God sends help. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [Jesus], will … bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26)

Lord, thank You for memories. Show us by Your Holy Spirit how best to use them for Your glory and our spiritual, mental and physical health. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

DO YOU KNOW JESUS?


To know Him is to love Him above all others.


Eternal Perspectives              by Sally Bair

I met a woman whom I admired so much that I wanted to get to know her better. But circumstances prevented me from further exchanges. Others admired her, too. They shared their good thoughts about the woman and then asked, “Do you know her?” My answer always was, “No, I don’t know her personally, but I hear all about the good things she’s doing so I feel like I know her.”

Sometimes we may feel like we know God, too, through the beauty of nature or the peaceful music of a symphony. But can we trust our feelings? They come and go and are undependable. What brings us up one moment can cause us to plummet the next. The question therefore begs, do we really know God and His Son, Jesus? If so, how do we know Him?

“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is in him.” (1 John 2:3-4)

As humans, we’re unable to keep God’s commandments. To love God with our whole heart, soul and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves, we need His help. And as the psalmist says, our help comes from the Lord. We can overcome our human desires, such as putting ourselves before God and others, through His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.

The value of knowing Jesus surpasses all else. Paul writes: “I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may … know Him and the power of His resurrection.” (Philippians 3:8-9)

We would be wise to take daily inventory of our lives—those things we hang onto and consider too important to lose—so that we too can begin to count all things as rubbish compared to the greatness of God’s mercies.

 Lord, thank You for showing us, through Your Word and Spirit, the knowledge of Jesus. Give us a hunger to know You better, to know You personally and to surrender our selfish will to Yours. Renew our minds so our every thought will be to know You, to worship You and to glorify You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
           

Monday, May 28, 2018

BE TRANSFORMED INTO GOD'S IMAGE


We can try all we want to change into a better Christian, but only by God’s Holy Spirit can we be transformed into what He would want us to be.

Eternal Perspectives              by Sally Bair

Transformers

Before the days of buried cables, an electric line ran from a pole by our road to one in our yard. The roadside pole held a transformer that changed electric power from high voltage, enough to serve the neighborhood, to low voltage for our house and barn.

To transform means to change in nature, form, or appearance. Transformation also means metamorphosis, as a caterpillar changes into a butterfly. By our own efforts, we can cause transformations, too. We can turn a run-down house into a castle, a rock into a polished gem, a piece of wood into a table. Overweight people can transform their bodies, by diet and exercise, into ones of health and beauty. Struggling students can become successful through hard work and determination.

The Bible speaks of transformation, too. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2) The words conform and transform given here are opposites. Instead of being conformed, or molded, by the world’s values, Paul wants us to be transformed.

If our mind is dedicated to worldly concerns, it will not line up with God’s perfect will. When we choose to believe the truth of God’s Word, however, and consistently meditate on it, the Holy Spirit will guide and shape our thoughts and behaviors. Such action will renew our mind until “we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)

Lord, thank You for Your Spirit, who gives us the strength, encouragement, and power to resist worldly pursuits and to transform our minds into the mind of Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen.

(Reprinted from The Nature of God: Daily Devotionals Celebrating Summer, by Sally Bair

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

HOW THICK OR THIN IS YOUR FAITH?


Like grass that grows thicker in some spots and thin in others, our life with Christ can compare to its healthiness. How is yours growing?

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES        by Sally Bair

Blades of grass

While mowing the lawn for the first time one year, I zipped through some sparse areas of grass. In other areas, the grass grew thick, causing me to push for all I was worth with my battery-operated mower that was not self-propelled. The sparse area looked like it hadn’t even been mowed. Conversely, the thick grass looked luxurious and inviting.

Our lives may work that way, too. When we work hard at something, it brings us a deep sense of satisfaction for having done a job well. When we fly through a task, the result is often boredom or the sense of being unfulfilled. Think of intelligent school children who are not challenged to learn new and more lessons. Often, boredom brings the desire to start trouble, refuse to follow rules, or skip school. Some even drop out of school. Some take the initiative, however, to strive for excellence and growth by doing extra credit work or seeking new, independent ways of learning.

Of course, many children and adults would rather do the minimum amount of work. Like the sparse lawn, they barely get by in many areas of their life.

We can apply this analogy to our spiritual life. Many Christians are content to attend church once a week, depending on their spiritual leader to spoon feed them with a short dose of the Word. Some may throw a handful of change in the Christmas kettle, believing they’ve done their Christian duty.

Such a sparse life, like the thin grass, will be prone to dis-ease when drought or flood come. Its shallow roots can easily allow weeds to take over.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15: 5)

God, our spiritual gardener, can cause our immature, thin roots to grow. All we have to do is become willing to follow His instructions. A daily dose of His Word is full of the growth-enhancing minerals we need to become flourishing plants. A constant attitude of praise, thanksgiving, and humility as well as a desire to learn more about His works and wonders will bring richness to our mind and spirit.

Lord, we don’t want to languish like sparse patches of grass, content to take the easy way out. We want to flourish with the fruit of Your Holy Spirit, unafraid of the effort it may involve. Help us to abide in You, to desire nothing so much as to depend on Your grace and love for our growth. In Jesus’ name, amen.