December, 2010

Divine Purpose – Devotional for Saturday, January 1, 2011

On December 31, 1969, I drove up to the home of Rosemary Nicks. We had met back in October, only briefly and had been dating since I came home for Christmas leave, only a couple of weeks before. I was very casually dressed and when she opened the door she was all “decked out.” She had obviously planned an evening out and I had not. In the 42 years since we have developed a tradition of not going out on New Years eve. It’s still a very significant date for us. On that evening 42 years ago I was coming to the end of the fabulous two weeks I had spent with Rose and didn’t want it to end. So I asked her to marry me. We were married the following May. I don’t recommend two week courtships for  most folks; but it sure worked out for me. Thanks Rose.
As the New Year begins, we traditionally consider resolutions: diets, more bible reading, a better use of our time. I have never experienced much success with resolutions. I think we would do better to consider our Purpose. For most of us, our purposes in life arise from circumstances. On that wonderful New Years Eve 42 years ago, one of my main purposes in life, Rosemary’s husband, began. From it other purposes arose: father, grandfather, great grandfather, provider, etc. There is nothing wrong having purposes arise from circumstances, particularly if they are wonderful purposes such as these. I weep for the current generation which tends to avoid marriage and family and then can’t understand their feeling of loss and Purposelessness. 
There are problems with these circumstanced-based purposes: when the situations change we find ourselves without purpose. When the nest empties, we find ourselves adrift. If a marriage fails, or we lose a job, we lose our sense of purpose. 
It is important that we have a purpose driven life, with purposes that have eternal significance. We are put here for good reasons, including family. But we are here for more. What are our purposes? We should consider our areas of influence. Where and with whom can we make a difference? We should consider the leading of our Lord heard in times of meditation and prayer. We should ask our Lord, “What would you have me do?”
Finally, it’s good to translate purpose to everyday life. What am I being called to do today? What am I planning? Of those things on my calendar, what are of eternal significance? What can I do to make them of eternal significance?
Tonight we are “babysitting” with Nicky and Sam. Clearly a chance to fulfill one of our purposes. Why not do it in a special loving way? Why not do it such that it will have eternal signficance?
May God’s purposes in your life be clear. May He guide you to living them out in His will each day.
Nick

Yesterday – Devotional for December 31, 2010

You shall not go out with haste, . . . for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard —Isaiah 52:12
 
These are insecure times, politically, physically and fiscally. There is much to unsettle and create fear. Security is the great gift of the saved, security in Christ. With security comes joy and the absence of fear. It is His gift to us; don’t let Satan steal it from you. 

Security from Yesterday. New Years tends to be very forward looking. At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise when we remember our yesterdays. Our past can drag us down. Satan can use the past to condemn and distract us from the all important now.  Our present enjoyment of God’s grace tends to be lessened by the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future. God reminds us of the past to protect us from a very shallow security in the present.
Security for Tomorrow. “. . . the Lord will go before you . . . .” This is a gracious revelation— that God will send His forces out where we have failed to do so. He will keep watch so that we will not be tripped up again by the same failures, as would undoubtedly happen if He were not our “rear guard.” And God’s hand reaches back to the past, settling all the claims against our conscience.
Security for Today. “You shall not go out with haste . . . .” As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, forgetful delight, nor with the quickness of impulsive thoughtlessness. But let us go out with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us. It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ.
Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.
Be blessed in 2011.
Nick

Nick’s Walk in the New Year

A bit over a year ago my Pastor suggested that I use Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest as a basis for my daily devotional for 2010. After some prayer and thought I agreed. I have been greatly blessed by the process. Sometimes I simply quoted the devotionals word-for-word. On others I picked out and tried to explain one aspect of Chambers’ thoughts. On still other days, Oswald’s words led me to share on something only generally related. It has been a great experience. I considered repeating it for 2011, but have decided against it.
Beginning on Saturday I will be embarking on more “original” daily postings. I have subscribed to several devotionals which I hope to draw from in the year ahead. I pray I will receive guidance from the Lord on what and how to share in the year ahead. I also pray these sharings will be of some benefit to each of you.
Looking forward to 2011.
Nick

And Every Virtue We Possess – Devotional for Thursday, December 30, 2010


We have natural talents. They vary person to person. Folks who are successful in life are those who correctly identify and develop those talents. and apply them to the puzzle of life. It is important to know what gifts we have been given and focus on those. The frustrated are those who try, maybe all their lives, to “develop” talents they have never been given. 
When we come to Christ it is “natural” to want to use these natural virtues in a new way, to glorify Christ. But this ignores the fact that we are new creations and the glory should not go to what we have been given naturally, but to glorify Him who know resides in us. We want to cling to our natural virtues, while all the time God is trying to get us in contact with the life of Jesus Christ— a life that can never be described in terms of natural virtues. It is the saddest thing to see people who are trying to serve God depending on that which the grace of God never gave them. They are depending solely on what they have by virtue of heredity. God does not take our natural virtues and transform them, because our natural virtues could never even come close to what Jesus Christ wants. No natural love, no natural patience, no natural purity can ever come up to His demands. But as we bring every part of our natural bodily life into harmony with the new life God has placed within us, He will exhibit in us the virtues that were characteristic of the Lord Jesus.
And every virtue we possess
Is His alone.
Nick

Deserter or Disciple – Devotional for Wednesday, December 28, 2010

Visions are greatly misunderstood by Christians. God, by His Spirit through His Word, gives us a clear vision of His will.  This can be a personal vision of what He is calling us to do, or a group vision, His plan for a church or ministry. When received, we must “walk in the light” of that vision (1 John 1:7).  These visions are personal. We get ourselves into trouble when we apply our vision to others or try to apply the vision of others to our situations. God has plans for all His children; they are not all exactly the same.
Take a moment now and give it some thought. Has God revealed His plan for you, a vision. If not or if you are not sure then more time with Him and His word is called for. Visions are never contrary to the word of God and are usually conveyed through it. Visions become clearer and more real as we begin to walk in them, one step at a time.
Group visions require additional effort. We should openly discuss the vision with other members of any Christian group we are part of. Failure to have a common vision will cripple the group and insure its failure.
 “”And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” Joel 2:28 We are so blessed to live in the times of which Joel prophesied. Be sure to grab hold of and walk out God’s vision for you.
Nick

Continuous Conversion – Devotional for Tuesday, December 28, 2010

. . . unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven —Matthew 18:3

Kaydence is sick. She is running those triple digit temperatures and has a running nose and a cough. Because of that we have spent much time together. Her on my lap, playing with my phone, just talking or watching TV. Grandchildren, and even more so, great grandchildren come to us at just the right time in life. When they arrive we have begun to use youth and the positive attributes of youth: whatever beauty we formerly possessed, energy, dreams for a future. 
When they come we have reached a stage where we don’t feel particularly loved and are way behind on our hug quota. Into this world they bring their energy, trust and unconditional love. One of the reasons why the Christ Child is so venerated is because He represents a God of unconditional child like love who hugs and kisses without reason or excuse. 
That’s also a model for how we are to be: trusting, unconditionally loving, giving out kisses and hugs at random. Our natural tendency is to “grow up” to lose our energy, loving spirits and dreams. This should not be as we repeatedly make sure our natural life submits to the spiritual. 
No matter what our situation is, the Spirit of God remains unchanged and His salvation unaltered. But we must “put on the new man . . .” (Ephesians 4:24). And the new man is a young man, a child, full of dreams and wonder and love. 
Thanks for grand and great grands. Today is the first day of a a short week and I have much to do; but I will probably make Kaydence a doctor’s appointment, take her to the doctor and spend lots of time with her running nose on my lap. It’s going to be a great day. The kind of day we were born for and are reborn to enjoy.
Be blessed.
Nick.

Where the Battle is Won or Lost – Devotional for December 27, 2010

Our battles are first won or lost in the secret places of our will in God’s presence, never in full view of the world. Our time spent alone with our God is precious and crucial to our performance as soldiers in the Army of Heaven. Nothing has any power over someone who has fought the battle before God and won there.
It is unwise to go into the battles of everyday life thinking I will call on God as needed. The time to spend time with God is pre-battle. The battle is won. In our time with Him, we become convinced of the victory and confident of our small part in it.
Get alone for awhile, then get in the battle.
Nick

Walk in the Light – Devotional for December 26, 2010

If we walk in the light as He is in the light . . . the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin —1 John 1:7

Christians are often considered “judgmental.” This is often due to an unloving attitude displayed by some who call themselves Christians. But there is some real basis for this. A Christian knows sin like no other. No one fully knows what sin is until he is born again. Sin is what Jesus Christ faced at Calvary. The evidence that I have been delivered from sin is that I know the real nature of sin in me. For a person to really know what sin is requires the full work and deep touch of the atonement of Jesus Christ, that is, the imparting of His absolute perfection. Our problem is that this is a personal knowledge: the sin in ME, his impartation of grace to ME. We go astray when we apply these standards to others. We should not expect the unsaved to truly understand sin or the natural of their transgression against God. This is something they must come to if they are to be saved.
It is not until we truly perceive the unrivaled power of the Spirit in us that we understand the meaning of 1 John 1:7 , which says, “. . . the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
I must “walk in the light as He is in the light . . .”— not in the light of my own conscience, but in God’s light. If I will walk there, with nothing held back or hidden, then this amazing truth is revealed to me: “. . . the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses [me] from all sin” so that God Almighty can see nothing to rebuke in me. On the conscious level it produces a keen, sorrowful knowledge of what sin really is. The love of God working in me causes me to hate, with the Holy Spirit’s hatred for sin, anything that is not in keeping with God’s holiness. Don’t make the mistake of hating the sinner instead of the sin. That attitude is a blockade to others access to saving grace, and a total misunderstanding of the depths from which we have been saved only by His grace.
Be blessed.
Nick
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