Sept. 22, 2021: Clear Guidance

Read Isaiah 30:19-26.

“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left” (v. 21).

I am thinking about a young man who was hired to do oil changes in a mechanic’s shop. Excited to be working on cars, he did his work well. When he was caught up on his work, he spent his time first watching, then helping a mechanic. Before long, he was doing minor repairs. A few years later, he was the lead mechanic for a dealership that sold multiple lines of new and used vehicles. He grew in his knowledge, understanding, and abilities involving auto repair.
From the moment of conversion, Christians begin experiencing spiritual growth. We learn a lot about serving God as we read His Word, pray, and listen to Bible-based preaching. Regardless of our strength or maturity, we sometimes face questions or issues in life when we don’t know the answers. In those times, as we seek God’s guidance and will, God leads us.
The Holy Spirit, who lives in every born-again person, seldom uses an audible voice. Instead, He reminds us of what the Bible teaches, what we have learned through preaching, Bible reading, and study. Sometimes we find what seems to be a “new truth” in the Bible when in reality, it has been there all the time. (MDA)

Following Jesus produces spiritual growth and maturity.

2021-09-03T19:03:02+00:00September 22nd, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

Sept. 15, 2021: The Priority of Obedience

Read 1 Samuel 15: 16-23.

“And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (v. 22).

   We often make decisions based upon what our priorities of the moment may be. Sometimes an immediate decision may reflect a momentary crisis or desire that is not in keeping with our long-term goals or intentions. This is often the cause for later hardship in our lives. The compulsive spender often bemoans his inability to save for larger purchases, the impulsive speaker often regrets the damage caused to relationships due to their quick tongue, and the person that has lived their life only for self regrets their loneliness in their latter years.
While obedience should be an automatic response for those serving God, we must recognize that there are times in our lives that it must be an intentional response. The demonstration of priority is often reflected in the promptness and completeness of our response to God. Most Christians usually desire to obey God but often will delay that obedience until a more convenient time or in a more convenient manner for them. They will often offer some type of service (or sacrifice) in place of an immediate complete response. A token type of obedience is often exposed as a heart disobedience by the excuses and justifications surrounding it (think of Cain’s sacrifice) and is not accepted by God as true obedience. (Tim J. Brubeck)

Delayed obedience is disobedience.

 

2021-09-03T19:00:51+00:00September 15th, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

Sept. 8, 2021: The Gentleness of God

Read Isaiah 42:1–4.

A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth” (v. 3).

   What an incredible prophecy of the coming Messiah! Reading the words of the text made me think of ll Samuel 22:36 and Psalm 18:35, where David’s ode to deliverance from Saul mentions that God’s gentleness had made him great. Paul claims the gentleness of Christ as he entreats the Corinthians (2 Cor. 10:1) and also reminds us that gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit.
Isaiah, then, in inspired vision, sees our Savior coming to seek and to save that which was lost, taking care to not further damage a reed that has been bruised nor to quench the wick that is barely smoldering. He seeks to save, not to destroy. A rebuke, perhaps, to our sometimes imperious observations about the “lost,” especially the backslider. Our tendency to scorn the battered and beaten flies in the face of Christ, Who, while He could declare “woe” on the hypocritical, yet would see in the multitude (Matt. 9:36) those who were fainting and who had been “flayed” by religionists; He would see them and have compassion.
In the gospel, there is an urgency relating to judgment to come and the reaping of what man sows, but there is also time and space to “let our hearts be broken with the things that break the heart of God” (Bob Pierce) and show to the bruised world His compassion. (Leonard L. Sanky)

“…tell the wanderers of One who can lead them back to the Father.”
— J. Wakefield MacGill

2021-09-03T18:56:48+00:00September 8th, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

9/1/2021: A CHOICE FOR WISDOM

Read I Kings 3:5-9.

“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” (v. 9).

   He could have asked for anything! Among all of his brothers, Solomon had been chosen to be the king of Israel. Appointed and anointed, his wishes would be largely heard as commands. Then God spoke to him and said, “Ask what I shall give thee.” Feeling the weight of his new position, the responsibility that was being laid upon him, Solomon bypassed many of the kingly aspects he could have sought and requested, “an understanding heart to judge Thy people.” Wisdom: The ability and insight to use knowledge in a fair and practical manner. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Prov. 9:10)
A church to pastor? A Sunday School class to teach? A committee to chair? Under divine direction, James wisely advises us, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally … and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5) The Wise Man said, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Prov. 4:7) Have a family to raise? A neighbor to win? A vocational task to fulfill? Wisdom is needed in every case, so ask God for wisdom to do His will His way always! (Rodney B. Stearns)

The choice, to ask wisdom of God,
Is to include God so that you can act wisely.

2021-08-16T05:35:34+00:00September 1st, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

8/25/2021: A Reason for Hope

Read Matthew 24:29-31.

“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many

to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” (v. 31)

     Your life may read like a conflicting news account of the economic condition for the day. Your hairline is in recession, you waistline is in inflation, and altogether you are in depression. The pain and pressure in your life is not responding well to the political platitudes that are giving you questionable information about the prospects for your future. It is during times like this when we best realize that life without Christ is hopeless. Our earthly successes without Christ are eternal failures.
You may be like the man who while crossing a pasture noticed an angry bull that had taken a special interest in him. In fright the man ran frantically looking for some means of escape. Then he spotted it. There was a tree ahead. It’s lowest limb was about 10 feet off the ground.             Considering he had done well in basketball and was pumped full of adrenaline the man thought he had a chance. He made a tremendous leap for the limb. He missed it on the way up, but he caught “it” on the way back down. The moral to that story is that we should do our best to reach our hope knowing that on our own we can’t make it without the One who is sure to give us the boost we need.
Without Christ we are dead in our trespasses and sins. With Christ we have the hope eternal life and a home in heaven. (L. Gayle Woods)

Without Christ we have no hope.

2021-08-16T05:29:56+00:00August 25th, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

8/18/2021: Setting An Example

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:7-18.

“Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.” (v. 9)

     I grew up in an age when many folks, including those not professing to be Christians, had principles. Ours was not a Christian home, but swearing, movies, dances were not allowed. Some slang expressions were not permitted. The remedy for an infraction resulted in washing out the mouth with soap, attempting to clean up our language. And the Sabbath was not a day to buy and sell. I look back on the example lived before me. When I became a follower of Jesus, the principles instilled in me carried over into my new life.
Example is a valuable tool for this day and age. The examples practiced in our homes will leave an impression on our children. When they accept the Lord as their Savior, principles learned will aid them in victorious lives.
I attended a four-year Bible school that only accepted students willing to work for their education. The examples followed there have been extremely beneficial, both spiritually and for setting a good example before my children. (Margaret Heilman)

Oh, to be like Thee! Blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer.
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as thou art!
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fulness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
— Thomas Obadiah Chisholm

Let Him stamp you with His image.

2021-08-16T05:24:52+00:00August 18th, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

8/11/2021: Separate From Immoral Professors of Grace

Read 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.

“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” (v 11)

Much has been written in recent years about the Amish practice of “shunning,” the Meidung. But few who rail against it understand the concept and the purpose.

The shun is instituted in a situation where a person who has become an avowed member of the church disobeys one of the church’s ordinances and will not repent. And the purpose is to cause the shunned individual to want to return. Facing isolation from the wonderful social life of the Amish community is designed to cause the prodigal to see that the price for such beautiful gifts is small indeed. And it seems that the Amish draw some of their ideas for it from this passage or ones like it. Those being shunned must eat at a separate table even from their own families.

In these verses, the Apostle Paul was zeroing in on the idea of being cozy with those who are in deliberate and unabashed rebellion to God’s Word. The Amish would hold up their rulebook, the Ordnung. But New Testament believers must give the greatest reverence to the Bible. It is the Book that demands our first allegiance. And keeping regular company with those who lightly esteem it will infect our own souls sooner or later. (Valerie Quesenberry)

Shun evil companions, Bad language disdain;
God’s name hold in rev’rence, Nor take it in vain;
— H. R. Palmer

You will become like your companions.

2021-08-09T14:17:31+00:00August 11th, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

July 28, 2021: Living by Faith

Read Galatians 2:16-20.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (v. 20)

Automobile accidents are often avoidable. Focusing away from the road will get the driver and vehicle straight into the ditch. The painted lines, arrows, guardrails, and reflectors are there to keep us on the highway. Good deeds done for show and self-centeredness may quickly divert one from the road to heaven. Keep your eyes on Jesus, Who is the true way. You will avoid difficulty, trouble, and dismay.
We live by faith in Christ and not in our human abilities. Faith in intellect, religious attentiveness, or on the law will not help us to succeed spiritually. Even religious impulses fail to save us. Allowing Christ to have clear and free course in our lives (which are not our own) is the only path of holy living. (Dale Chapman)

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
-- Edward Mote

Faith without a Christ-focus is insufficient.

2021-07-07T14:04:32+00:00July 28th, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

July 21, 2021: The Greatest Commandment

Read Matthew 22:34-40.

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (v. 37).

Man was made to love God. Instead, we are twisted by the selfishness of sin to love ourselves. Love degenerated from a principle of life to a passion. Love as a primary word in defining/describing Christianity goes beyond an emotion that may change with circumstances. It is a purposeful seeking the best interest of another. It is the conquering of all contrary dispositions involving the total person. Emotion may at times accompany the purpose of the heart but it is not the primary distinguishing characteristic. We do not “fall in love” with God, but we set our hearts to love him through an exercise of the will. It is the greatest commandment because we are the most like God and his love for us in fulfilling it. It is the greatest commandment because it demands the mind and the will. This resolve to love positions us to love him more as we know Him because it provides the moral foundation that supports greater love. It is well to remember that the giving and repeating of this commandment precedes both Calvary and Pentecost. With Calvary in view and Pentecost empowering, fulfilling this greatest commandment should be within the reach of all who purpose to find its realization in their lives. (William E. Snider)

“Christian love is not merely an emotional experience
which comes unbidden and unsought;
it is a deliberate principle of the mind and
a deliberate conquest and achievement of the will.”
— William Barclay

2021-07-07T14:00:54+00:00July 21st, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

June 30. 2021: Children Through Faith

Read Galatians 3:22-25.

"But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster" (v. 25).

How did you come to faith in Christ? Most of us have a story of people who helped us, sermons that convicted us, circumstances that influenced our decision. Seldom have I heard people say that the law of God had a part in bringing them to faith. But in our reading for today, Paul says that it was the law of God that served as a tutor to bring each of us to Christ? How does that work?

Paul himself answers that question in Romans 7:7. The law of God showed Paul that his life was missing the mark. We all needed someone or something to get our attention that we were on the wrong road. It is so easy to deceive ourselves into thinking that all is well – that we are as good as we need to be. It is God's Word that becomes the mirror to show us what is truly in our hearts.

Have you looked in the mirror today? Not the one that shows you if your hair is out of place, but the one that shows you what your priorities are; that shows you whether your goals in life reflects God's plans for you. If so, did your look in the mirror make you change anything in your life? James 1:24 reminds us that many people look at the mirror of God's law, see their faults, then forget what they saw. They fail to listen to the tutor, so ultimately fail the course. (Gordon L. Snider)

Lord, help me to listen to my tutor today!

2021-06-28T01:37:25+00:00June 30th, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

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