Walking With Jesus Devotion #2

Here’s a fun activity for you. Check your feet for calluses. What did you find?

What purpose does the callus serve? If you said it protects your foot because its’ build up reduces pain, you’re right. Think about what happens when you buy a new pair of shoes and wear them for a full day. Sometimes you will get painful blisters and it will take a few days for your foot or toe to develop a callus which protects you from pain and allows you to walk or run comfortably.

Our walk with God is much the same. God knows when we are weak and have weak spots. You know, those times when and where we are easily led off the path, and have trouble staying in step with Jesus. When that happens, it hurts, we learn a lesson, and ask for help to build up resistance to the temptation. To recognize a sin or temptation is an important step in resisting it. Through our faith, we are built up and are able to strengthen our efforts for the fight with the devil, the world and others who try to harm us.

Sure. there will be new temptations and even failures and they will hurt just like the new shoes that make blisters on different parts of our feet. When that happens, we need to ask Jesus for help in growing stronger–building calluses–so that we can go about our daily activities toughened up. Paul says it this way:

“….suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” Romans 5:3

*Think of some areas God has helped you to toughen through your life experience and faith.

*Pray a prayer for spiritual toughness to help you resist temptation and grow in your faith.

For more about growing stronger in your faith see:

Strengthen Your Feeble Arms

Weakness = Strength?

In the Valleys I Grow

A Lenten Message Part 2

This is a continuation of a Lenten message which my husband, our pastor, sent out to the congregation.  For part 1 see: A Lenten Message Part 1.

The Lord Jesus was not only humble, He was constantly concerned with the well being of others.  When he looked upon people lost like sheep without a shepherd, He felt pity for them.  When He saw a group of men with leprosy which kept them exiled from the rest of society, He healed them.  When He saw a widow grieving over her dead son, He brought the boy back to life.  So, we can ask ourselves, how have I served other people? How have I worked to relieve their pain and promote their welfare?  If I have cared about others and served them in some way, did I allow any thought of self regard to mingle with and abase the good I have done?

Certainly, Jesus was God become Man, but He lived and learned as a man.  He learned how to be a carpenter.  He learned how to live comfortably in the world around Him.  He learned the Scriptures thoroughly.  So we should ask ourselves, have I spent enough time in God’s Word over the past year?  What did I learn or relearn about God’s will in my life?  If the devil tempts me to sin, can I respond as did our Lord, quoting Scripture or will I be unable to resist those glittering baubles the enemy holds before me.

We also see that Jesus not only loved other Jews, but all people.  More than once the Lord went out of His way to help Gentiles, people who were not like His own.  As we look at the news today, we see attacks on people of Asian descent, seemingly for no reason.  We see disdain for people of other races or cultures being displayed almost daily.  Yet these too are people for whom Christ died.  So we should search our hearts and minds and see if we too love those who are different from us.  Loving those just like us is easy, it’s not always so with loving those who aren’t.  But we should all remember that we who have been saved were descended not from Palestinian Jews, but from different cultures with different customs.  God’s love is not narrow, but wide.

For more about examining yourself see:

Examine Yourself

Examination of Conscience

 

Surrender to Be Strong?

Charles Gore (22 January 1853 – 17 January 1932) was the Bishop of Oxford, and one of the most influential Anglican theologians of his day.  Here is what he had to say about how surrendering to God actually strengthens us:

“We are conscious of our own weakness and the strength of evil;  but not of the third force, stronger than either ourselves or the power of evil, which is at our disposal if we will draw upon it.  What is needed is a deliberate and whole-hearted realization that we are in Christ and Christ is in us by His Spirit;  an unconditional surrender of faith to Him;  a practice which grows more natural by exercise of remembering and deliberately drawing by faith upon His strength in the moments of temptation and not merely upon our own resources.  ‘In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth I will do thus and thus.’  So we too may form, like St. Paul, the habit of victory.”

Charles Gore

And here’s how Saint Paul expressed the same idea:

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.                    2Corinthians 12:7-10

So exercise and grow strong — practice surrender!

For another quote by Charles Gore see:

The Power of the Holy Spirit

 

Being More Than Conquerers

                                                             E. B. Pusey was an Anglican theologian, and I seem to like what he has to say, because I have posted several of his quotes (see Advice From E. B. PuseyHave Patience and Know Yourself/Know God).  This one reminds me of the verse from Romans:

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

Do you agree?

“Do not try only to abstain from sin, but strive, by God’s grace, to gain the opposite grace.  If thou wouldest not slip back into sin, thou must stretch forward to Christ and His holiness.  It is a dull, heavy, dreary, toilsome way, just to avoid sin.  Thou wouldest not simply not be impatient;  thou wouldest long to be like thy Lord, who was meek and lowly of heart.  Thou wouldest not only not openly murmur;  thou wouldest surely long, like the beloved Apostle to rest on Jesus’ breast and do what He wills.” E.B. Pusey

 

 

Prayer for the Growth of the Church

This prayer comes from the book Prayers of the Reformers compiled by Clyde Manschreck.  It was written by John Calvin.

“Grant, almighty God, since thou dost try the faith of thy people by many tests that they may obtain strength from the unconquered fortitude of thy Holy Spirit.  May we constantly march under thy standard, even to the end, and never succumb to any temptation.  May we join intelligence with zeal in building up thy church.  As each of us is endowed with superior gifts so may he strive for the edification of his brethren with greater boldness, manliness and fervor, while he endeavors to add numbers to the cause.  And should the number diminish, yet may some seed always remain, until abundant produce shall flow forth from it, and such fruitfulness arise as shall cause thy name to be glorified throughout the world, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”