A PILGRIM’S JOURNEY

No temptation is too great

How can you avoid the guilt experiences by John Bunyan?

How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep me from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me.

Psalm 19:12-13 

Now, all glory to God, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and who will bring you into his glorious presence innocent of sin and with great joy.

Jude 1:24 

A Pilgrim making progress

John Bunyan, who wrote the class The Pilgrim’s Progress, (CLICK LINK TO WATCH MOVIE: PILGRIM’S PROGRESS JOURNEY)had been a godless youth with a “great desire to take fill of sin, still studying what sin was yet to be committed, that might taste the sweetness of it.” However, while still in his twenties, Bunyan was convicted by the Holy Spirit of his sinfulness and his need for a Redeemer.

After this Bunyan’s conscience became so tender that he feared he was committing sins that would not be forgiven. Bunyan spent time studying Scripture, at times finding comfort and at other times being weighed down by guilt.

Looking back on those turbulent days in his life, Bunyan recognized he had made some big mistakes. Although he had prayed for cleansing, he had not prayed to be kept from future sin. In addition, he was not standing firmly on the rock of his salvation, even though he had asked Christ to be his Redeemer (see Psalm 19:12-14).

Perhaps you have trusted Christ to save you, but you still experience spiritual defeat. This is not unusual, but you do need to address the problem. Each new day ask God to help you follow him more closely. But do not be afraid, for, as Bunyan later wrote, our “righteousness is Jesus Christ himself, the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

adapted from The One Year® Book of Psalms by William J. Petersen and Randy Petersen,, Tyndale House Publishers (1999), entry for February 6

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

No Double Standards

 

God is always fair and just

How often do you want to “get even?”

The Lord despises double standards of every kind.

Proverbs 20:10 

Never pay back evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible. Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord.

Romans 12:17-19 

Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong.” Wait for the Lord to handle the matter.

Proverbs 20:22 

God’s measure

How often do we see the evil around us and pray for God’s justice? We wonder, Why does God allow this evil to go on! This kind of thinking leads to two of the most common double standards: (1) judging others more harshly than we judge ourselves, and (2) believing God should judge others but remain lenient with us.

The Lord despises double standards because they elevate one person at the expense of others. These man-made standards also lack the mercy of God.

In our cry for fairness, we should not forget the frightening consequences of justice. As sinners, God could justly destroy each of us today for missing the mark of perfection. When we remember that God’s patience and mercy block his judgment towards us, we will more likely show others patience and mercy.

WISE WAYS Before you rush to judge another person, ask yourself whether you would be able to endure the same standard.

Today, Lord, give me strength to replace judgment with mercy.

Adapted from The One Year® Book of Proverbs by Neil S. Wilson, Tyndale House Publishers (2002), entry for March 20

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

God helps those who help the poor

Matthew 419

Can the poor be happy?

God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is given to you. God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied.

Luke 6:20-21

The Happy Ones

Have you ever met someone who said, “I really do not want to be happy. Happiness might be okay for some people, but it’s really not for me”? Neither have I. That’s because deep down inside, we all want to be happy.

In what we know as the Beatitudes, Jesus described how we can be “blessed,” which means “happy.”

What did Jesus mean when he said the poor would be happy? Does poverty make us more spiritual and wealth make us less so? Are we to believe that the fewer possessions we have, the more godly we become?

No, He doesn’t mean that at all. The first beatitude simply promises the person who has nothing that possessions are not what matter most in life. What really matters is what lasts for eternity — and possessions don’t.

The problem with those who own a bunch of stuff is that they tend to become preoccupied with it.

Our Lord emphasized four essentials for true happiness: faith in God, love toward others, honesty with ourselves, and obedience toward God. Jesus is telling us, “Don’t envy those who make spiritual compromises. Though you may not be rich in this world’s eyes, you have true riches. And I promise you this: You’ll be the happy one.”

Adapted from Breakfast with Jesus by Greg Laurie (Tyndale House) p 195

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

Will You Hear?

The whole earth will hear

PS. 24:1-2
1 The earth is the LORD’s,1 and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;2
2 for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.

Homesick for God

The woman left her water jar beside the well and went back to the village and told everyone, “Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did! Can this be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him.

John 4:28-30

How many people have you made homesick for God?

Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

Spread the good news

The Samaritan woman was so amazed by Jesus and his revelations about who he was and about the secrets of her heart and life that she forgot her water jar — the very reason she’d come to the well — and rushed back to the village to tell others about the “man” she had met. Up and down the streets she shared the good news about Jesus, for she had seen the Lord, the Messiah! Having received the living water, a perpetual spring within her that gave her eternal life (v. 14), she wanted others to know him too. So the people began streaming from the village to see him, eager to meet this incredible man who told people the secrets of their hearts.

Sharing with others what Jesus had done in us and for us stirs up interest in those who don’t know him. His revelation in our lives draws to him people who desire to have him work in their lives as he does in ours. With whom could you share the Good News today? Ask the Lord to make you sensitive to his working in the lives of others, and be ready to share the hope that’s within you.

LORD, forgive me for times when my excitement over knowing you has waned. I want others to know you and experience your work in their lives. Use me to spread the Good News. I pray that I will be so amazed by what you reveal to me today that I won’t hesitate to share my hope with those who don’t yet know you.

Adapted from The One Year® Book of Praying through the Bible by Cheri Fuller, Tyndale House Publishers (2003), entry for May 5.

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

God and Your Life

God has wonderful plans for your life

How do I know which way to go?

Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.

Psalm 25:4-5

Pay attention and grow wise, for I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my teaching.

Proverbs 4:1-2

I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. If you live a life guided by wisdom, you won’t limp or stumble as you run.

Proverbs 4:11-12

Facing options

Sometimes we’re faced with several options, and we don’t know which way to go. In Psalm 25, David asked God for guidance. Perhaps he remembered when, as a shepherd boy, he had to show the right path to his sheep who were wandering away. Just as he knew which path would lead to safety for his sheep, God knew the path that would lead to everlasting life. Just as those sheep that looked to him for direction were in the least danger, so David knew he needed to look to God for direction.

Today, God still leads us by his truth — his written Word and his Spirit, which helps us to understand it. Are you not sure which path to take? Pray as David did and read what God has already said in his written Word. He will show the right road to follow.

Adapted from The One Year Book of Bible Prayers (Tyndale House) entry for September 9

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

HOW IS YOUR PRAYER LIFE?

Our prayers bring us into God’s presence

ames 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much

How is your prayer life?

The Lord is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness. The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him sincerely. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them.

Psalm 145:17-19
Then Saul said, “Let’s chase the Philistines all night and destroy every last one of them.” His men replied, “We’ll do whatever you think is best.” But the priest said, “Let’s ask God first.”

1 Samuel 14:36

The next morning Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray.

Mark 1:35

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

About this week’s promise

The most universally practiced yet least understood of human experiences, prayer is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith. Its simplest definition is communication with God. Yet so often we approach prayer like a one-way telephone conversation, forgetting that God also wants to speak to us. Prayer appears nearly on every page of the Bible as the very essence of a faith relationship with the living God.

From the TouchPoint Bible (Tyndale House) p 1246

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

GIFT OF SALVATION

The gift of salvation

HE BORN THIS FOR US!

HE BORN THIS FOR US!

None Can Boast

God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Ephesians 2:8-9

The Holy Club

Charles Wesley and two friends began a small Christian group at Oxford University in 1728. John Wesley, who had already graduated from Oxford, returned the following year as a tutor and assumed its leadership. Oxford students made fun of the group, referring to it as the “Holy Club” or “Methodists.”

The focus of the Holy Club was on religious self-discipline. Exhorting each other to live piously and do good works, they were motivated by the belief that they were working for the salvation of their souls.

George Whitefield was the first Holy Club member to question their practices. His solution, however, was to try to become a new creation through further extremes of self-denial. During Lent in 1735 he only ate a little coarse bread with tea. By Holy Week he was so weak that he could not study or even walk up a flight of stairs. After hitting bottom, he later wrote, “God was pleased to remove the heavy load, to enable me to lay hold of his dear Son by a living faith…”

On May 5, 1735, Whitefield wrote a letter to John Wesley, attempting to share what had happened to him. It would be three more years before the Wesleys found His gracious arms.

Reflection

Have you ever found yourself trying to earn your salvation? Salvation is a gift to be received from God, and there is nothing we can do to earn it. Good works do not lead us to Christ—it is out of our relationship with Christ that good works flow.

Adapted from The One Year® Book of Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten (Tyndale, 2003), entry for May 5.

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House