Keith Hunt - Our Daily Bread #18 - Page Eighteen   Restitution of All Things

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Our Daily Bread #18

Towards Maturity

                             A DEEP DEPENDENCE


Read: 2 Corinthians 3:1-11


Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anythiong as
being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God. - 
2 Corinthians 3:5


     Five for Fighting is the stage name  of a recording artist
who soared to popularity after the terrorist attacks of September
11, 2001. He sings the song "Superman (It's Not Easy)," a ballad
that imagines what it must be like m be a superhero. Yet he
struggles with the inadequacy of his strength to cope with the
world's complexities.
     People seemed to identify with the song's theme. Real life
proves we are insufficient to battle the overwhelming burdens
that confront us. Even those who want to be self-sufficient can't
manage life in their own strength.
     As followers of Christ, we have a resource that even
Superman could never claim. In our relationship with God, we find
a sufficiency for life that can overwhelm our inadequacies and
enable us to live victoriously. This was Paul's encouragement to
our hearts when he wrote to the believers at Corinth. He said,
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as
being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" (2 Car.
3:5). That makes all the difference in the world.
     Left to ourselves, we will be forced to live with the
reality that we can never be adequate to grapple with life. But
in God's strength we find all we need to navigate the storms of
life in this turbulent world. - Bill Crowder

All that I creed He will always be, All that I need till His face
I see; All that I need through eternity, Jesus is all I need -
Rowe

WE MUST EXPERIENCE OUR WEAKNESS TO EXPERIENCE GOD'S STRENGTH.




                               GETTING FREE


Read: Mark 10:17-27


One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give
to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. - Mark 10:21


     Personal downsizing usually occurs when someone moves to a
smaller home. Furniture and other possessions are sacrificed
because there is no longer room for them. But when psychologist
Jane Adams moved to a larger home, she still went through the
difficult process of parting with  many treasured items from her
worldwide travels. Instead of downsizing, she was ridding herself
of unnecessary things that bound her to the past. "Downsizing,"
she said, "is about  pinching, restricting, and cutting back
while keeping yesterday's dreams alive; divesting is about
freedom, expansion, .. and dreaming new [dreams]."
     Instead of searching for meaning in possessions, we are
called to find life and freedom in Jesus. To a religious young
man whose possessions gripped him, Christ said: " 'One thing you
lack: Go, your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the
cross, and follow Me.' But he was sad at this word, and went
away  sorrowful, for he had great possessions" (Mark 10:21-22).
     It's hard to imagine Jesus needing a storage unit for His
extra stuff. If anything I own keeps me from obeying Him
wholeheartedly, am I ready to open my hand, release it, and
freely follow Him? - David McCasland

     No longer do I ask for things, For Christ is my desire; He
walks with me and talks with me; He is my satisfier - Bang

A FAITH THAT COSTS NOTHING AND DEMANDS NOTHING IS WORTH NOTHING.




                               REACH FOR ...


Read: Psalm 55:17,22


Oh, that I had wings like a dove I would fly away and be at rest.
- Psalm 55:6


     A television commercial asks, "What do you reach for when
you're stressed?" Then it suggests, "Reach for [our product]:"
     The number of ways people try to deal with serious stresses
in life are as numerous as there are people. Having a drink.
Blaming God. Stuffing ourselves with food. Keeping our feelings
inside. Blaming others. These responses might calm us, but
they're just a temporary means of escaping our problems. No
product we reach for can take them away.
     In Psalm 55, King David described his desire to escape from
his difficulties; "My heart is severely pained within me .... Oh,
that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest"
(w.4,6). After the betrayal of his friend and counselor
Ahithophel, who had gone to help his enemy, David wanted to get
away (vv.12-13; see 2 Sam.15). In this psalm he tells us that he
reached out to God in his pain (vv.4-5,16).
     What do we reach for? Author Susan Lenzkes suggests that we
reach out to the Lord and pour out our heart to Him. She writes,
"It's all right - questions, pain, and stabbing anger can be
poured out to the Infinite One and He will not be damaged.... For
we beat on His chest from within the circle of its arms." - Anne
Cetas

Christian, when your way seems darkest, When your eyes with tears
are dim, Straight to God your Father hastening, Tell your
troubles all to Him. - Anon.

WHEN WE PUT OUR CARES INTO GOD'S HANDS, HE PUTS HIS PEACE INTO
OUR HEARTS.




                             THE PERFECT STORM


Read: Mark 4:35-41


They feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this
be, that even the wind and sea obey Him!" - Mark 4:41


     In his book "The Perfect Storm," author Sebastian Junger
reports astonishing facts about the power of a hurricane: "A
mature hurricane is by far the most powerful event on earth; the
combined nuclear arsenals of the United States and the former
Soviet Union don't contain enough energy to keep a hurricane
going for one day. A typical hurricane ... could provide all the
electric power needed by the United States for three or four
years." 
     Seafarers encounter diverse weather conditions. But those
who experience a severe storm have one emotion in common - fear.
Mark 4:35-41 records a gale that threatened the boat carrying
Jesus and His disciples on the Sea of Galilee. In a panic, the
disciples awakened Jesus. He calmly rebuked the wind and sea by
saying, "Peace, be still!" (literally "hush") as if He were
quieting an agitated child (v.39). Immediately, the gale stopped
and the water became inexplicably placid. The disciples asked,
"Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!"
(v.41).
     Do you feel as if your life's circumstances are a mighty
storm? Look to the God-man Jesus Christ, who has authority over
heaven and earth. He will give you the strength to survive the
storm until He ultimately calms. it. - Dennis Fisher

Our loving God is always near, Forever by our side; He'll bring
us comfort in our fear, And peace that will abide. - Sper

WHEN WE TRUST THE POWER OF GOD, HIS PEACE KEEPS US FROM PANIC.





                               INTEGRITY 101


Read: Psalm 101:2


I will behave wisely in a perfect way ... I will walk within my
house with a perfect heart. - Psalm 101:2


     Officials in Philadelphia were astonished to receive a
letter and payment from a motorist who had been given a speeding
ticket in 1954. John Gedge, an English tourist, had been visiting
the City of Brotherly Love when he was cited for speeding. The
penalty was $15, but Gedge forgot about the ticket for almost 52
years until he discovered it in an old coat. "I thought, I've got
to pay it," said Gedge, 84, who now lives in a nursing home in
East Sussex. "Englishmen pay their debts. My conscience is
clear."
     This story reminded me of the psalmist David's commitment to
integrity. Although he made some terrible choices in his life.
Psalm 101 declares his resolve to live blamelessly. His
integrity would begin in the privacy of his own house (v.2) and
extend to his choice of colleagues and friends (vv.6-7). In sharp
contrast to the corrupt lives of most kings of the ancient Near
East, David's integrity led him to respect the life of his sworn
enemy, King Saul (1 Sam.24:4-6; 26:8-9).

     As followers of Jesus, we are called to walk in integrity
and to maintain a clear conscience. When we honor our commitments
to God and to others, we will walk in fellowship with God. Our
integrity will guide us (Prov.11:3) and help us walk securely
(10:9). - Marvin Williams

Lord, cleanse my heart of all deceit, And teach me to be true;
Help me to have integrity, In all I say and do. - Sper

THERE IS NO BETTER TEST OF A MAN'S INTEGRITY THAN HIS BEHAVIOR
WHEN HE IS WRONG.




                                FLEXABILITY


Read: James 4:15


Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and
do this or that." - James 4:15


     Over the years, it has been my privilege to lead several
study trips to the Bible lands. In the months leading up to our
group's departure, we would have a series of orientation meetings
in preparation for our trip. Schedules, hotel accommodations,
contact information - all could be changed at a moment's notice.
For that reason, our preparation times always stressed the need
for flexibility. A willingness to go with the flow and adjust to
whatever changes we might encounter was especially valuable. Life
has an element of unpredictability for which flexibility is the
best response.
     James expressed a worldview of flexibility in chapter 4 of
his epistle. While it is wise to plan for the future, we must do
so with the recognition that God's purposes might be different
from ours. Instead of rigidly saying, "Today or tomorrow we will
go to such and such a city" (v.l3), James counseled us to flex to
God's direction in our lives. He said, "Instead you ought to say,
'If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that' " (v.15).
     The adventure of following Christ is one that rests in His
perfect plans - and flexibility helps us to be prepared for
wherever His purposes might take us. - Bill Crowder

He does not lead me year by year, Nor even day by day; But step
by step my path unfolds: My Lord directs my way. - Ryberg

A MAN'S HEART PLANS HIS WAY, BUT THE LORD DIRECTS HIS STEPS. -
Proverbs 16:9




                               HEART TROUBLE


Read: Ephesians 2:1-10


Create in me a clean heart, o god. - Psalm 51:10



     What's the most common affliction that plagues people in the
US? Heart trouble. More than any other ailment, it's the disease
that causes an early death.
     But there's an affliction even more deadly than a
malfunction of the organ that pumps blood through our bodies.
It's a spiritual heart disease from which everyone suffers. "All
have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom.3:23).
     Here's the diagnosis made by Jesus Christ, the greatest of
all heart specialists: "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,
murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness,
blasphemies. These ate the things which defile a man" (Matt.
15:19-20).
     His words echo the verdict of Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is
deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know
it?" That diagnosis includes all who are dead in their sins (Eph.
2:1).
     We need a new heart - to be made alive. But how can that
happen? It takes the healing touch of our Lord. God showed His
kindness to us in Christ Jesus when He gave His Son to die in our
place. He makes us alive by grace through faith; "it is the gift
of God" (Eph. 2:8).
     Ask Him for a spiritual heart transplant. - Vernon Grounds

Now rest, my long-divided heart, Fixed on this blissful center,
rest, Nor ever from my Lord depart, With Him of every good
possessed. - Doddridge

WE NEED MORE THGAN A NEW START, WE NEED A NEW HEART.


Note:

It is certainly true that out of the heart can come much evil.
Jesus, as part of the eternal Godhead, had seen the heart of man
from the very beginning. But the often quoted verse in Jeremiah
(as given in the above) is completely misunderstood by most. The
word "is" does not appear in the Hewbrew. And as Jeremiah would
have understood, the human heart is NOT ALWAYS deceitful above
all things, and desparately wicked. Many a person, because of
their upbringing and teaching from parents etc. have more "good"
coming from their hearts than wickedness (of course it is written
that all our righteousness is filthy rags before God, but that it
to do with our first coming to God in repentance, for we are
still sinners). 
Understood correctly, Jeremiah acctually said, "The heart CAN BE
deceiful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know
it?"
God knows it! And though we may be one who is like a Job, full of
a heart of righteousness (good living as other humans would
consider it), we still need to come to a change of heart, and see
ourselves next to God, then we realize we are still sinners, and
a long way from perfection as God is perfect. Job, finally came
to see himself next to the most Holy One, and proclaimed, "I have
heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, BUT NOW mine eye
(spiritual eye) seeth Thee. Wherefore I ABHOR (Hebrew - reject,
melt) myself, and REPENT IN DUST AND ASHES" (Job 42:5-6).

Job, found a NEW HEART, no more heart trouble for him. YOU also
can have a new heart transplant. You just have to acknowledge you
are a sinner, that you are unholy next to a Holy God. It does not
matter how righteous in deeds and life others (or yourself)
esteem you, or how vile and unrighteous your heart has been, as
the world judges unrighteousness. Either way, you have sinned
against the Most Holy One. Be like Job, confess, as Job did,
before the PERFECT ONE, and find salvation for your soul - Keith
Hunt.


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