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Scripture

[ecko_quote source="1 Thessalonians 5:16-18"]Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you [/ecko_quote]

Devotion

How can you know that you are in the centre of God’s will at every moment and have no doubts about it? The answer to this great question is clearly given in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians: “Rejoice evermore, Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 These 5:16-18)

These verses are clear to understand without any Greek interpreter. They guarantee that we are in the centre of God’s will at all times when we are rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks. We protest, “that is too simple; I have got to do something about and louse it up somehow”. But it is right there in the Word of God. Crystal clear!

An important part of doing God’s will has to do with the use of a very small organ of our bodies, the tongue. The tongue has everything to do with the course of our life. In the Book of James, God says “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. … and the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell (3:2-6)

Here God is saying that the tongue directs the course of our lives much as a rudder does a ship, or a bit in the horse’s mouth guides the horse. A couple of ounce of steel in a thousand- pound horse does not sound crucial, but that is how you steer him. The tongue is to the body and to the Christian life, as the rudder is to the ship, and the bit to the horse. When the tongue is used negatively, as “a world of iniquity”, it produces a lot of things that are second best.

If I am a Christian and I am complaining and grumbling, the world does not know that I am any different from pagans. My spirituality is gone, my testimony has departed, and my effect in dispelling the world of darkness has flown the coop because I have chosen to magnify the problem by motor-mouthing about it instead of magnifying the answer by praising Jesus.

What's Next?

When, right in the midst of whatever is going on, I say “Lord, I am going to thank you for one reason, because “You said to, “immediately I enter into a new dimension. Do you think it sounds scary, altogether crazy, to praise God when things are falling apart all around? That is all right. Nowhere does God say that praising Him will make any sense to finite minds; He just says,” Do, it. And then you can know that you are in my will”. Where we are in His will, we are in line to experience perfectly answered prayers.

 

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Scripture

[ecko_quote source="Jeremiah 33:3"] Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know [/ecko_quote]

Devotion

The prophet Jeremiah was not a popular man. When he declared the truth, God had given him - that Judah would soon start seventy long years in captivity - people threw him into prison.

Yet in such dire circumstances, Jeremiah learned something profound about prayer. Jeremiah 33:1-3 says: "The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the prison, saying, 'Thus says the LORD who made it, the Lord who formed it to establish it (the LORD is His name): "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."'"

Prayer is a significant part of a vital relationship with God. It is not for some special spiritual elite; it is for you. Three principles within these verses can transform your old notions about prayer into something fresh and new.

First, God says, "Call to Me." He wants to hear from you. His all-loving, omnipotent heart desires to hear your innermost thoughts and feelings. He wants to hear from you in the hard times and also when life is going on smoothly. In fact, your sweetest times of prayer happen when you come before Him simply to praise and worship and give thanks for what He has done.

Second, God says, "I will answer you." Do you believe that? Perhaps you once asked God for something He did not give you, and since then, you have harboured secret worries that He did not hear or did not care to answer. But God Himself says to you, "I will answer you." That answer may not take the form you anticipate or come when you desire, but He will respond. He might say "yes," "no," or "wait." You may not understand the reasons behind His answer - but you can trust that they are best for you (Rom. 8:28).

Third, God says, "I will show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." You have finite wisdom and understanding; God knows all. He knows the big picture; you see merely a tiny piece. When you ask Him to guide you, He works to direct you as a part of His higher vision and calling.

What's Next?

If you take that first step of calling out to Him, prayer can become an important part of a dynamic relationship with almighty God. Do it today - He waits to hear your voice.

Source: Jonah Ravinder- UEC Ministries; Dr Charles Stanley

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Scripture

[ecko_quote source="John 15:15"] I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me  [/ecko_quote]

Devotion

Years ago, there was an old German Professor whose beautiful life was a marvel to his students. Some of them decided to find out by resolving the secret of it; so, one of their student's hid in the study room where the old Professor spent his evenings.

It was late, when the Professor came in. He was exhausted, but he sat down and spent an hour with his Bible. Then he bowed his head in secret prayer and finally by closing the Book of books, he said,

“Well, Lord Jesus, we are on the same old terms”.

To know Him is life’s highest attainment and at all costs, every Christian should strive to be “on the same old terms with Him”.

The reality of Jesus comes because of a secret prayer, and a personal study of the Bible that is devotional and understanding. Christ becomes more real to the one who persists in the cultivation of His presence.

It's simple. Intimacy is close or confidential friendship. And God, far from making it mysterious or unobtainable, has sought that kind of relationship with us from the beginning: "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness" (Gen. 1:26). He revealed Himself to the patriarchs and prophets; He led the Israelites in the wilderness by cloud and by fire.

God’s ultimate invitation to fellowship with Him was in sending His Son to pay the price for our sin so that we who believe could be called His children. To seal His presence in us, He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

God continually invites us to respond to His love and a desire to have fellowship with Him. He longs to love us because only He can, and He wants us to know Him in all His fullness. His commandment to us is "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Dt. 6:5). He wants us to be intimate with Him.

Those saints—past and present—who have enjoyed exceptional closeness with God are first of all those who have deeply longed for it. God promised in Jer. 29:13: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

David’s longing for God was insatiable. Even when enemies pursued him, he did not seek deliverance or a change in circumstances; he sought God.

A desire to only know the Lord and His character must be our motive for intimacy. If all I seek are His gifts or whet He can do for me; then I have a self-centered relationship based on God’s "performance" in meeting my perceived needs. Instead, my desire to seek Him must be based on a longing just to know Him, to fellowship with Him, to enjoy His company.

What's Next?

Someone once said that "The essence of holiness is not that we are perfect, but that we never stop pursuing it." If I truly want to draw closer to God, then my heart’s desire will be to please the Lord and to bring Him glory in all that I do.

 

Source: Jonah Ravinder- UEC Ministries; Cynthia Heald-Bible.ORG; Steams in the Desert

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Scripture

[ecko_quote source="Roman 6:1-2"]Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?  [/ecko_quote]

Devotion

Evangelist Reinhart Bonnke said, “Cool or casual Christianity will accomplish nothing. Our nation’s most urgent need is the flaming message of the cross --'Now' and not at our leisure.”

The story is told about a young boy who was failing in mathematics. So, his parents sent him to a special evening class at the local Christian academy. To their amazement, the boy began to get straight A’s. When asked, what made the difference, the boy replied, “Those people don’t fool around about maths. On the wall, they have a picture of some guy nailed to a plus sign!” Do we see the cross of Christ as a plus or a minus?

Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Do we see the cross of Christ as a positive or a negative? Crucifixion means that I choose to die, not physically, but in a more abstract sense. Yet this death is just as real as a physical crucifixion.

A Christian is dead to sin. Sin has no control over a corpse. Temptations can present itself enticingly and persistently, yet a corpse will not yield! Before you were a Christian you were keenly susceptible to sin. Sin held you in its grip. When you become a Christian, your 'old self' has died. Now, sin  has no more control over you than temptation has over a corpse. You have died to sin. You can still sin, but you are no longer in sin’s power. If you choose to succumb to temptation, you are rejecting the freedom from sin that Christ gained for you by His death.

God’s grace(power) is further motivation for us to resist sin. It was God’s grace that enabled Jesus to endure mocking, beating, and crucifixion at the hands of those whom He had come to save. It was grace that led God to forgive our sins despite our rebellion against Him. It is this same grace that God expresses toward us each time we sin against Him. Knowing this grace, we cannot continue to practice sin (Roman 6:1-2). We cannot presume upon God’s forgiveness by committing further offenses.

What's Next?

You are no longer the helpless victim of your sin. The victory has already been won. God does not have to win a victory over your sin. He already has! You need only to apply His victory to each area of your life. If there is a sinful habit, an ungodly attitude, or an unrighteous relationship that you need to put to death, claim the victory of Christ’s resurrection today. Then you will be free to experience the abundant life that God intends for you.

 

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Scripture

[ecko_quote source="2 Timothy 2:2"]You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others [/ecko_quote]

Devotion

A self-centered Christian leader hinders others below him from becoming leaders, let his own position be threatened. Moreover, he ministers in such a way that he makes himself a necessity to those to whom he ministers. This is utterly contrary to God's will. Oswald Chambers once said that anyone who made himself a necessity to some other soul had got out of God's order. God alone is the only absolute necessity to any human soul. May none of us ever try to take that place.

No one is indispensable in Christ's Church. God's work can easily carry on without us. In fact, it can carry on much better without the help of those conceited folk who consider themselves indispensable! We must recognise this fact constantly. And so, we must be willing to withdraw into the background anytime God wants us to. However, the self-centered Christian worker will never accept that. He will want to hold on to his position for as long as possible. Many such "Christian leaders" are rotting away on their "thrones" today, hindering the work of God. They do not know what it is to face graciously into the background and let someone else take their place.

You have probably heard the saying that success without a successor is a failure. Jesus recognised this and trained people to carry on His work. In 3 1/2 years, He had trained people to take over the leadership. Paul recognised the necessity of training other people to carry on the work. In 2 Timothy 2:2, he says, "Now Timothy, what I have committed to you. I want you to pass on to other people who will, in turn, be able to train others (right on up to the fourth generation)" (Paraphrased). What Paul was saying in effect was, "You must ensure that you commit this treasure to others. Don't ever hinder people younger than you, from coming up." The people in the business world recognise this principle too. However, many Christian leaders do not. Truly, "the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light."

It is indeed nothing but self-centeredness that makes a man jealous of someone younger doing things better than he. Cain was jealous of the fact that God had accepted Abel’s and rejected his offering.  If Abel had been older than he, that might have been tolerable. But it was the awful fact that his younger brother was better than he that made him furious enough to slay Abel.

We see the same in the case of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph received Divine revelations, and that made all his ten elder brothers green with jealousy, and they tried to do away with him.

King Saul was jealous of young David, because the women sang, "Saul has slain thousands while David has slain ten thousand." From that day, he determined to kill him. Man's history - and alas, the history of the Christian Church too - is filled with the same story over and over again.

On the other hand, what a refreshing contrast it is to look at a man like Barnabas in the New Testament. He was a senior worker who took the newly-converted Paul of Tarsus under his wing when no one else would accept Paul. Barnabas brought him to the church in Antioch and encouraged him. In Acts chapter 13, we read that Barnabas and Paul went out together on a missionary journey. And when Barnabas saw that God was calling this junior worker, Paul, to a larger ministry than his own, he willingly stepped back and graciously faded into the background. And the phrase, "Barnabas and Paul" changes almost unnoticed to "Paul and Barnabas" in the book of Acts.

What's Next?

The Christian Church suffers today because there are only a few like Barnabas who know what it is to step back and let another be honored. We are willing to step back in matters of no importance. When passing through a door, for example, we do not mind stepping back and permitting another to go through first. But in the realms that matter - such as a position and leadership in the Church - we are not so ready to step back. Our self-life is so deceitful. We can have a false humility in things that don't count. But it is in important matters that we see ourselves as we really are.

Source: Jonah Ravinder- UEC Ministries; & Zac Poonen

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Scripture

[ecko_quote source="Genesis 5:1-3"] This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God……………. And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth [/ecko_quote]

Devotion

Throughout this week we have been meditating about one of the vital aspects of Church, that is 'Leadership'. It is an often ignored topic although it has a direct impact on the Church. Therefore let us ask God to prepare our minds and hearts so that they are receptive to His revelations while reading these devotions. If there is shallowness in the lives of most believers today, it is because the lives of their leaders are shallow. The people's lives are carnal, because of the leader's life - his thought-life, his relationship with his wife, and children and fellow-workers - is carnal.

A church invariably becomes like its leader. In Revelation chapters 2 and 3, we see that in each of the seven cases, the Lord spoke the same message to the church as He did to its messenger. Each message concluded with the statement that the Spirit was saying the same thing to that church. Where five messengers (elders) were carnal, their churches were carnal. And where two messengers were spiritual, their churches were spiritual too. The messenger in Laodicea was lukewarm and so was his church. The messenger in Philadelphia was faithful and so was his church.

In Genesis 1, a phrase that occurs frequently is “after their kind”. We read there about fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, plants yielding seed after their kind, the fish and the birds after their kind, and beasts, creeping things and cattle after their kind (verses 11,12,21,25). In creation, everything produces after its own kind.

God created Adam "in the likeness of God" (Gen.5:1). But Adam produced a son "according to his own image" (v.3). He could not produce a son in the likeness of God. He could only produce the one after his own kind.

Spiritually too, we will all produce children according to our own likeness and after our own kind. If we are the intellectual type of individuals, we will produce intellectually-minded people through our ministry. If we are misers, we will produce misers. And if we're haughty and proud, we will only produce haughty and pride people through our ministry. On the other hand, if we have the spirit of a servant, our spiritual children will also have a servant-spirit too

It is possible, however, that a rare brother may break out of his leader's mould and seek God for himself and become spiritual, in spite of his leader's carnality. But such a case is rare. Generally speaking, most believers are like sheep who blindly follow their leader, wherever he goes. Like a preacher, like people! And when both sheep and leader are blind, they both fall into the ditch.

 

What's Next?

In every church - in the best and in the worst - those sitting in the outer court will be of the same type - half- hearted, worldly, seeking their own, lovers of money and lovers of ease and pleasure. But a good church will have a strong inner core of leaders who are godly. This core determines which way the church is going to go. The central core will usually begin with two men who have become one with each other. God will be with them and the core will begin to grow in size and unity.

Source: Jonah Ravinder- UEC Ministries; & Zac Poonen

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Scripture

[ecko_quote source=" 1 Timothy 3:2"]So, a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach [/ecko_quote]

Devotion

Paul says to Timothy that it is a faithful saying that if a man desires the position of a leader (bishop), he desires a good work, but he must be a man that is temperate, sober-minded, of good behaviour, and hospitable. He must be a man who can teach the Word of God. He must be blameless.

All of these conditions apply to us. There is no point in casting out demons, praying for the sick, performing signs and wonders, If we do not live by what we preach; the Word of God. The Lord makes it very clear that a leader should not be given to wine, is not a drunkard or a winebibber, is not greedy for money, is not quarrelsome, and is not someone who covets what their brother has. They should be humble without pride and arrogance. It is sad to see in these times some believers giving others wine bottles as a gift and a token of gesture. I could not understand the rationale and wisdom beyond these forbidden gifts. It came to my notice once, and I objected it in the light of the above verse, and they have shown me the exit door.

A leader is someone who rules their house in such a way that their children are obedient and respectful. He must be respected among those around him as a person of God. If you want God to use you in the realm of faith, in the area of signs, wonders and miracles, you first need to get your own house in order. Sadly, some leaders pay the least attention towards their children but desire to look after the congregation. Their children's lives seem to be going downhill in every aspect yet they least bother to address it. Nevertheless, they are always eager to address and whine about others children. So far, my top ten inches could not comprehend about what sort of preaching they would do and who will listen to them. My dear ones’ leadership is a serious Christian aspect, and we do not have any luxury to play around with it. Take the example of Moses who led the Israelites for forty years to the promised land, but unfortunately, he barred to enter the promised land because only once he did not follow God’s instruction.

If a child is still under his parents’ authority, his behaviour will disqualify his father from being an elder if it is openly insubordinate and publicly harmful to the man’s reputation, and so the reputation of the church and Christ. Secondly, it causes people to question whether or not the man can give oversight to the church.

All children disobey their parents. Most children can be wild and unruly at times. The point is not that an elder’s children never disobey him; the point is that the father leads his home through consistent, godly instruction, and discipline which leads to children who generally obey and submit to him.

If an elder/minister cannot even train his own children to be grounded in the truth so that they will not depart from it when they leave his household, how can he be expected to train others to be grounded and settled in the true faith? (Proverbs 22:6). Leadership is the key to the spiritual life of those in the church. They are the reason the church grows or decays!

Please remember this! First, we need to get our house in order before, we go out and tell others about our blessed Redeemer. That is when people will listen. Let’s work on our personal holiness first. Our dress code- your appearance is important to God because as His children, God wants your best in all areas of life. Our language- there is no place in the kingdom of God for a man who professes to be an ambassador for Jesus and yet uses filthy and hurtful language. Humility- preferring others to yourself; always going that extra mile for your fellow man.

What's Next?

Clearly, the offices of elder and deacon are important in the church. Ministering to God’s people in word and deed is a serious responsibility for a man to take on, and it should never be done lightly. A biblically unqualified individual should not occupy either the office of elder or deacon; the church/fellowship deserves better.

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Scripture

[ecko_quote source=" Hebrews 13:5"]Let your conduct be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for He has said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee[/ecko_quote]

Devotion

There is an old Persian fable of a hen, mouse, and a rabbit who lived together in a little house in the woods. They shared all the work and lived in harmony. The chicken found the firewood; the mouse brought the water from a nearby brook, and the rabbit cooked the meals. Each did his work faithfully and contentedly.

One day, while the hen was out in the forest looking for wood, a nosy crow approached her and asked what she was doing. When he heard, the crow began to caw, "That is not fair! You are doing the hardest part of the work! That rabbit and mouse are taking advantage of you!  The chicken continued her work, but try as she would, she could not stop thinking about what the crow said. These feelings festered and festered, and by the time she got home, she was so upset that she burst out in tears, screaming, "It is not fair! I do the hardest work of the three of us! That's it! I'm not going to gather this heavy firewood anymore!"

Discontent spreads. As you might expect, immediately, the rabbit and mouse also began to argue that they had been doing the hardest of the work and that they were not going to do their jobs anymore either. The three argued until they were tired and finally decided to switch jobs - from now on the rabbit would gather the firewood, the hen would bring the water, and the mouse would cook. As the rabbit hopped into the forest for wood, a Fox trailed him, caught him, and ate him. The chicken put the pail into the creek, but the current pulled the pail down under and the chicken with it. The mouse, while sitting on the edge of the big pot of soup, lost his balance and fell into it.

Discontentment not only destroyed their happiness but their very lives.

We all have a job to do here especially in the house of God. No job is greater than the next - no person is greater than the next, no matter what those crows might tell you. We are all working for the same King, and we can worship Him even while gathering firewood if that is what He is called us to do!

In the fellowship, God has equipped His children with talents and gifts to worship and spread the gospel. Some of them are musicians, singers, worship leaders, organisers, preachers, and teachers. Each one of these individuals needs to use their talents in their respective fields. In the secular world, we can use the term “multi-tasking” to carry out our jobs but not in the Kingdom of God. For example, God has given me a gift and grace to preach the word of God, and I must obey to my call. However, if I choose to play music instead of preaching the word of God, it would create disharmony and confusion because God has not yet given me grace in that field.

The Word of God says” Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble” (I Peter 1:10). Why so much confusion and disharmony in the Church of God? It is because believers are not sure of their call and election. Instead, they prefer to go by their own choice which is why they are stumbling. The Church leadership must identify the presence of talents and grace in believers and use it in the Church for the glory of God.

What's Next?

As sons of God, we are called to be led by the Spirit. This requires a level of dependence on God in which many of us really do not want to invest. It requires listening, waiting, and taking a step only when God's Spirit tells us to take a step ahead. Today's believers are "action" people. We know how to get things done, but our greatest strength can be our greatest weakness. Today, ask God to make you a Romans 8:14 man or woman of God who is led by the Spirit of God. Pray against lagging behind or moving ahead. Ask God to reveal whether the ministry you consider is a "good thing" or a "God-thing."

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