Romans 6:12-13 (NKJV)Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
Instruments! They are tools we use to accomplish something, to carry out a task. We use all sorts of them every day and don't even give it a thought. From computers and machines to the can opener and spatula in the kitchen, instruments make life do-able and enjoyable.
There are instruments of music like the piano, trumpet, guitar, and drums. Instruments of medicine and healing such as the stethoscope, thermometer, and scalpel that take trained and skilled hands to use. But what are instruments of righteousness?
In his instruction to the believers at Rome, the Apostle Paul told them to overcome sin in their lives and to live unto God, using their bodily members, or faculties, as instruments of righteousness.
In other words, your hands, your feet, your eyes, your ears, your mouth, and your mind are all to be used for good, helping you carry out the task of showing Christ to a dying world, and nurturing and serving fellow believers. Some versions of the Bible refer to these instruments as tools, implements, and even weapons to fight against unrighteousness. These do not lead us to salvation, but they are our means of living out our salvation as a witness of God's work in our lives. This we do out of obedience to God and only by the power of His Holy Spirit living in us (Rom. 6:16).
You choose what you do with your bodily members. Will it be for right living, reflecting the character and attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ, or will it be for ungodly and evil living that defies and denies the power of the gospel. It's your choice! Choose carefully and intentionally.
PRAYER: Gracious Lord, be my strength and wisdom as I live each day for You, using every part of my being to serve You well.
WORDS TO PONDER: 'Jesus calls us to be light, and He reminds us that it's no good covering up a lamp. How do we light up the world? By our good deeds, says Jesus, 'by everything we do as Christians.'-Nicky Gumbel, Why and How Should I Tell Others?
Matthew 5:16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
The whole life of Joseph Scriven (1819-1886) bears witness to his deep faith and great mission to help those in need. Serving others was a way of life to the man who penned the words of the now famous hymn, 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus'.
Unsettled and aimless, he wandered here and there trying to escape his sorrow. He eventually moved Canada where he settled down to begin anew serving the financially destitute and physically hindered. Once again, he fell in love and was engaged, but death claimed the life of his soon-to-be bride after she developed pneumonia.
The grief following this second tragedy was enormous, but he found solace in the arms of the Lord Jesus Christ, and took a vow of poverty, committing the rest of his life to work among the poor and destitute.
Joseph Scriven often worked without pay, cut wood for those who could not afford it, and shared his material possessions freely. He was a selfless man who showed the world the light of Christ by serving others in some way nearly every day of his life.
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, thank You for the life of Joseph Scriven who lived out the command of Jesus to 'Let your light shine.'
WORDS TO PONDER: 'The overriding Christian attitude of Joseph Scriven can be summed up in one word'-OTHERS.'
-Lindsay Terry, 'A Woodcutter For the Poor', Significant Living Magazine, September 2011
Proverbs 18:24. . . there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
What a Friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Ev'rything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Ev'rything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged-Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness-Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge-Take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer; In His arms He'll take and shield thee-Thou wilt find a solace there. -Joseph Scriven, written 1855
Joseph Scriven knew heartache and devastation first hand. As a young man his hopes and dreams vanished on the day before his wedding when he watched in horror as the lifeless body of his beloved was pulled from the water where she had drowned. Sorrow overwhelmed him, yet in the months and years that followed, Scriven turned repeatedly to the only Friend who would never leave him. Although he battled loneliness and depression for the rest of his life, he never let go of the hand of his Savior. Scriven knew that Jesus cared and that He was acquainted with loneliness and sorrow. This man knew that he could take his grief to Jesus and find strength and peace that no one else could give. Years later Scriven took what he had learned through his pain and put it into the words of a poem that we now sing as "What A Friend We Have In Jesus."
My friend, in your moments of trial, temptation and hardship, turn to the Friend who is always there. Listen to His words as He speaks to you through the Scriptures. Be honest with God and with yourself about your thoughts and feelings. Spend time in prayer and experience the comfort of His presence. Seek His forgiveness when you stray from Him and His ways. Be encouraged as you remember that no matter what happens, He will not leave you. He will not abandon you. Let Him hug you close to His heart. Rest in Him and find peace for He truly is a Friend that sticks closer than a brother!
Lord Jesus, thank You for always being there when I need a friend. Even when I cannot see Your hand at work, let me feel the warmth of Your love.
ROMANS 5:6-9 (NKJV)For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
JOHN 19:30 (NKJV)Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished . . . He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
Some stories are just too good to keep to myself. Here's one that I hope will encourage and inspire you.
The Starfish Story
There was once a wise man that used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
He was walking along the shore one day when he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself as he didn't think anybody would dance on the beach at this time of the day. Hence, he began to walk faster to try and catch up with the person.
As he got closer, he saw that the person was a young man and he wasn't dancing. Instead, he was reaching down to pick up something on the beach every now and then before throwing it into the ocean very gently.
When the wise man got closer, he called out, "Good morning! What are you doing?"
The young man looked up and replied, "Throwing starfish into the ocean."
"Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?"
"The sun is up and the tide is going down. If I don't throw them in they'll die."
"There are miles and miles of beach and there are starfishes all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!"
The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves.
He said, "It made a difference for that one."
You can make a difference in your world! If you take just one step at a time, over a lifetime you will travel miles and miles!
-Copied, Original Source Unknown
Prayer: Father God, use me to make a difference in the lives of those around me. Touch them with Your love. Fill them with Your hope. Use them, then, to touch the lives of others'-one by one.
Words to Ponder: 'Let's say you share your faith with two people tomorrow. The next day, each of those two people shares it with two others. Then the next day each of those two continues the chain . . . By the end of three weeks 3,145,728 people will have heart the faith story.'
Psalms 105:4, 5 and 8Seek the LORD, and His strength: seek His face evermore. Remember His marvelous works that He hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of His mouth . . . He hath remembered His covenant for ever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations.
Memorial Day is set aside to remember those who have fallen in our nation's wars. Sadly , the day will pass and most of us will be so caught up in picnics, family gatherings, or outdoor projects that we won't even give much thought to the real meaning of the day. That's too bad, because remembering does many things. It brings me back to the reality of what actually happened. It also encourages me to see the dedication of those who fought and died. Remembering stirs within me a sense of gratitude and appreciation, and it strengthens my resolve to do my part in serving God, country and others.
Throughout the Bible, God's people are instructed to stop and recall what He did for them. Psalm 105 is a song of remembrance of God's goodness to His beloved ones. It traces His direction, provision and protection through their history and the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. As believers in the 21st century, we can look back over a much longer history and see how God's plan has and is unfolding, and observe His incredible goodness to us.
Psalm 105:1-5 shows the natural progression of what happens when I pause to remember'-I give thanks to Him and continue calling on Him. I sing of Him, and talk with fellow believers of all He has done. Then I must go tell others of His greatness. When I stop to trace the work of God's hand in my life and in the world around me, these things just come naturally.
But the key to being able to rejoice in the past is not found in counting the number of good things that have happened, but in remembering that God remembers! I can rejoice because He never forgets His plan and He never forsakes His promises. Even when life is tough and things don't seem to make sense to me, I can rest assured that He is in control and He is working out His plan. He has my best interest at heart. Knowing this encourages and strengthens me, and pushes me to do my best to live for Him.
A song that was popular when I was younger went something like this:
'When I remember the cross that He bore, When I remember the thorns that He wore, My heart cries out, 'Oh Christ divine, I'm thine forever!' When I remember what He did for me.'
I encourage you, my friend, at this Memorial season, take time to remember.
Prayer: Dear Father, help me daily to look back at Your faithfulness and praise You for being a God who remembers.
John 21:17 Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.
Currently I'm doing pre-marital counseling with several young couples. Each time they come in, I can see the love in their eyes and feel the romance in the air. That's quite a switch from many of the couples who come to me for counseling!
Christian counselor, Dr. Gary Chapman has written extensively on the ways to communicate your love to others, and how to hear and understand God's messages of love to you. In his delightful books, The Five Love Languages, Dr. Chapman points out that we communicate that we care with words, gifts, time, touch and acts of service.
The problem in human relationships is that people can't always 'hear' what I am saying through my words, gifts, time, touch, or acts of service. Sometimes I fail to communicate it properly. Sometimes because of their own hurts or inability to recognize my efforts, my attempts to communicate that I care go unnoticed or are misconstrued. Not so with God. He hears and sees every thought, word, and action that I speak '- and what tells Him if I really love Him is the attitude of my heart. Truly, He knows all things. Does He know that I love Him? Does my life demonstrate that to Him unquestionably?
Prayer: Sweet Jesus, how I love You! I adore You and pray that my life will be lived in such a way that You will always know that I love You, and that others will recognize that love relationship as well.
Proverbs 14:1 NKJVThe wise woman builds her house,But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.
It wasn't until yesterday that I realized this year marks the 20th anniversary of my mother's death. It seems impossible that she's been gone that long, because memories of her, and the things she taught me are a part of my everyday living.
When Mom and Dad moved to Pennsylvania in 1991, I had a chance to spend time with them in ways that I had not been able to in my adult life because of our missionary work.
After my father died in 1995, Mother lived in a nursing home where she won the hearts of all the nurses and staff with her gentle and sweet spirit and her sweet smile. And 'sweet' is the word that describes our last few months together.
Even though she was battling the ravages of dementia, it was such a special time. She had lost all her hurt and anger from years gone by, and she would so often look at me and say, 'We had good times, didn't we? And she'd nod and answer her own question with, 'Yes, we had good times.'
She seemed to have forgotten the hard times, the family stresses, the loneliness of moving to another state and leaving behind beloved family and friends, and memories of hurtful relationships, and financial setbacks. She didn't speak of the difficult years she had as my mother, but rather she focused on the good times.
Mom and I would reminisce and talk about her youth, our family times, birthday celebrations and holidays together, and of course, the grandchildren. And over and over again she pointed out how good God had been over the years, how He blessed us, cared for us, and always met our needs.
It was typical of my mother to talk of the goodness of the Lord. She taught my brother and me to work hard, to trust God, and to follow Him. Together our parents taught us the meaning of commitment, and what it is like to be giving, caring people.
My mother died in 1998, and as I look back over her life, there were good times, many of them. In the hospital, the last understandable thing that she said to me was in response to what I said to her. At that point, she couldn't easily talk anymore, and I looked at her and said, 'We had good times, didn't we?' and she smiled and said, 'Oh yea.'
So today as I remember Mom, I am thankful for God's faithfulness throughout her lifetime, for the testimony she left behind, and for the way she lived out her faith. Truly, she worked hard, she trusted God, and she followed Him.
PRAYER: Lord, what a gift You gave me in my mother! Thank You for the sweet times we shared, and the memories of a life well-lived.
WORDS TO PONDER: Someone once said, 'Your mother knows you love her, so you don't need to tell her.' That somebody isn't a mother.
Habakkuk 3:19The LORD God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds' feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places.
Every year as spring arrives, I remember the time when we lived in France and went high into the Alps to a rustic retreat center. The sky was blue, the air was crisp and patches of snow spotted the mountainside. Here and there delicate little wild flowers showed their faces, some even pushing up through the crusty snow patches. At that elevation it seemed we could see forever. Being in the high place gave a different perspective to the whole world. It was a moment I wished would never end.
Three times in the Old Testament we read nearly the same words as the writers draw a beautiful word picture of being able to climb like the mountain hind (deer) to the high places because of the strength, agility, and balance that the Lord Himself provides (II Samuel 22:33-34, Psalm 18:33, and Habakkuk 3:19). Each reference comes after a traumatic and fearful event in the writer's life, and he finds great joy in knowing that God will take him above his circumstances, beyond all fear and pain to a place where the world is bright and God's glory shines. A place of hope, joy and new perspective await him as he relies on God's strength to take him there.
My friend, when you find yourself in the valley of difficulty, sadness and despair, ask God to take you to the high places. Even if it's only a momentary visit your soul will be refreshed and new hope will strengthen your heart.
Almighty Father, help me set my sights on the high places. Give me strength, confidence, balance, and direction to take me to the place where I feel Your presence and see You in Your greatness.
By Ann Shorb Copyright Ann Shorb, 2018
Please Tell a Friend
Would you take just a moment to prayerfully consider sending this to two friends who might be blessed by what we've shared today?
Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
Many years ago while I was driving around town doing errands, well-known Bible teacher and author, Dr. Warren Wiersbe was on the radio. He was presenting a lesson on discouragement from Romans chapter eight that I've never forgotten.
His entire message was encouraging, but here's one nugget that I've shared with many people. Whenever the clouds of discouragement hang over you, pick up your Bible and read the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 8. Pay particular attention to verses 31-39, and the many times he uses the phrase 'for us.'
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God who justifieth.
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As you focus on the thought, 'If God be for us, who can be against us?' rephrase it and make it personal. Remind yourself, 'GOD IS FOR ME!' Say it to yourself four times emphasizing a different word each time: God is for me! God is for me! God is for me! God is for me! You can even substitute your own name for the word 'me' and read it through again and again. Meditate on this truth and carry it with you from morning till night. In fact, why not print it on a card and stick it on your mirror, windowsill, refrigerator or computer'"anywhere you'll see it often? Read it and rejoice!
Prayer: Almighty God, when discouragement settles around me, please replace my depressing thoughts with strength, hope and joy as I recall that Your love is so strong that it will never let me go, and that You are always working on my behalf.
By Ann Shorb
Copyright Ann Shorb 2018
Please Tell a Friend
Would you take just a moment to prayerfully consider sending this to two friends who might be blessed by what we've shared today?
I JOHN 1:7 (KJV) If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanseth us from all sin.
Nearly every day I talk with people who struggle with painful friendships. Betrayal, broken trust, abandonment, deceit, hatefulness, and hurtful words weigh down their heavy hearts. They long for close, healthy friendships that will support, help, encourage and meet their god-given need for relationship.
The strongest foundation you can have for building healthy friendships is making sure that your own relationship with God is right. When you are born again and have His Spirit living within you, then the good fruit of the Spirit begins to grow. As you daily read His Word and seek to live in the light of what He teaches you, godly character naturally develops. You learn to treat others with His love and grace. Things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are evident in your life, and these are all conducive to satisfying relationships.
If I walk in God's light and you walk in His light as well, then it is impossible for us not to have a healthy friendship! We automatically have things in common. Our overall goals and values will be in harmony with each other. Our relationship will not be destroyed by pride, anger, hurt, unkindness or jealousy. We'll confront when necessary, speak the truth in love, and leave past hurts and frustrations at the cross of Christ.
Walking in His light and living His way doesn't guarantee that others will do the same, however, but at least you know you are doing right and that you bring to the friendship ingredients for growth and harmony. Remember you are only responsible for your part in the relationship not the other person's. You can only control your thoughts, feelings and actions, no one else's.
For and interesting study, take a look at 1 Corinthians 13 considering this to be an instruction manual for developing healthy relationships. Think about each of the characteristics of love described in that passage and see how it applies to starting and growing a satisfying, lasting friendship.
Lord Jesus, thank You for being my Friend and for blessing me with other friends as well. Help me to be a faithful friend to You and to those you've placed beside me.