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DEVOTIONS FOR MEN
"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!" (Psalm 118:24, NIV) We may be tempted to think, "The Lord made this day? Really? Yesterday was a good day, and tomorrow may be a better day, but today is a bummer!" But the Lord made "this" day for his purposes, not ours. Have we even prayed and sought his purpose, or do we have our own selfish agenda?
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV). Isn't this saying that instead of regretting or resenting the way things are, that we should "give thanks in all circumstances"? How can we give thanks in unpleasant, difficult, disconcerting circumstances? Because we know that God is sovereign. We don't always think like he does, so we often don't understand the "why" of our circumstances. Still...
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4, NIV). Ah, here is the key. I can give thanks in any circumstances, because "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him..." (Romans 8:28, NIV). I can rejoice in spite of my circumstances because of who I am in Christ and all that is mine in Christ. And by my faith we can rejoice knowing that "our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18, NIV).
The difficulties in life are intended to make us better, not bitter.
Occasionally we will find bits of wisdom outside of the Scriptures, but that wisdom is usually based on principles and wisdom that corresponds with--and may already have been expressed in--God's Word. For example, consider this quote: "No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance." - Confucius
There are all sorts of knowledge and benefits to be gained from reading, but not all knowledge is useful. It is okay to be ignorant of some things! We need to choose wisely what knowledge is most beneficial to us. Psalm 119:105 (NIV) says "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." Who is the real authority to guide our "walk" through life other than the One who said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"? (John 14:6, NIV) At one point when many of Jesus' disciples "turned back and no longer followed him" (see John 6:66-69, NIV), Jesus asked the twelve, "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Peter answered, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
The Bible may still be the best seller of all books, but it is probably the least read. Our courts don't accept ignorance of the law as an excuse for some transgression or not living up to the law. How thorough is your knowledge of God's Word? Ignorance of God's Word is self-chosen. Do not surrender yourself to it.
Men, like the apostle Paul we are often concerned about the wrong that we do that we don’t want to do. We can really feel remorse and guilt over things we have done, especially when there are consequences for our actions. So we generally focus on trying to keep from doing anything wrong. But I wonder how badly we feel sometimes about the things left undone. James 4:17 says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”
We rarely suffer any significant consequences for things we didn’t do. But the good deed(s) left undone would have meant so much to the one(s) who would have benefited from our love, caring, and serving. And how much has the kingdom of God suffered and been held back from advancing and growing by things left undone? Do we ever think about that?
Furthermore, are we realizing the consequences of what our sins of omission does to inhibit our spiritual growth. If our faith, as James 2:17 says, “. . . if it is not accompanied by action, is dead,” then following that logic, faith with very little action will be very weak and struggling to survive, let alone grow and flourish. When our faith is active, we grow. And when we are growing, the kingdom of our Lord grows too. So James also adds this admonition: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (1:22).
How important is your faith to you? I’m not talking about your “faith” in regards to a denominational belief or a simple belief in God. I’m referring to faith in “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” In other words, I’m referring to Christianity—believing the truth of John 3:16-17 and “our hope” in Christ to the point that it is the basis for our lifestyle, the guiding factor in life’s choices, and the essence of what shapes our character.
You can tell how important your faith really is by whether your faith in Christ really influences the priorities in your lifestyle, the stewardship choices in how we spend our money and use our time, and the thoughts, attitudes, and words that define us as a person.
Often those who are not followers of Christ perceive Christianity as not that important because they don’t see it as being all that important to those who call themselves “Christian.” They see followers of Christ placing secular activities and material things of this life above their devotion to Christ. We should periodically ask ourselves what is really most important to us—our life now or life in eternity.
“If Christianity is true, it is of ultimate importance. If it’s not true, it’s of minimal importance. What doesn’t exist is the possibility that Christianity is of moderate importance.” C. S. Lewis