When Daddy Comin?

For the past two weeks, I have been home with my family celebrating our new arrival! Since there is only so much I can do for our new baby, most of my time was spent playing with and taking Read more

Angel Tree

When I was a child, my family fully embraced the traditions of Christmas. We decorated our home with the most cherished ornaments, lights, and bows. We handmade or purchased gifts with much thought about the receiver. We made plans Read more

Begin with Jesus

The autobiography of G. Stanley Jones is titled A Song of Ascent, and it’s considered to be a spiritual classic. Jones was a great man: a missionary to India, a friend to Gandhi, a tireless world traveler, and a Read more

Weeds

Have you ever been responsible for a task you didn’t particularly enjoy? Perhaps you can relate to one homemaker who developed a unique perspective on some of her less enjoyable household duties. She said: I don't do windows because I Read more

New Each Day

Patrick Henry, whose primary contribution to the history books is the phrase "Give me liberty or give me death," made another memorable statement. He said, "I know of no way of judging the future but by the past." Repeat this before Read more

Steps to Christ, Pt. 7: Growing Up Into Christ

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To begin with, this chapter identifies the simple reality that a person must be born again (John 3) in order to become a child of God.  As a result, we start walking with God as a baby/child.  The Bible clearly states that “spiritual things are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14) and as we grow both without and with Christ our discernment expands.

This chapter could be entitled The Abiding Presence of Jesus, because that is the primary focus.  Once again Ellen over emphasizes the importance of keeping our entire focus on Jesus and not on self.  By beholding Him, we will be changed!

Here are some quotes that really jumped off the page for me:

The child cannot, by any anxiety or power of its own, add to its stature.  No more can you, by anxiety or effort of yourself, secure spiritual growth.

In the matchless gift of his Son, God has encircled the whole world with an atmosphere of grace, as real as the air which circulates around the globe.  All who choose to breathe this life-giving atmosphere will live, and grow up to the stature of men and women in Christ Jesus.

Many have an idea that they must do some part of the work alone.  They have trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sin, but now they seek by their own efforts to live aright.  But every such effort must fail. Jesus says, “Without me ye can do nothing.” Our growth in grace, our joy, our usefulness,–all depend upon our union with Christ.  It is by communion with him, daily, hourly,–by abiding in him,–that we are to grow in grace.  He is not only the author but the finisher of our faith.  It is Christ first and last and always.  He is to be with us, not only at the beginning and the end of our course, but at every step of the way.

So you are not to look to yourself, not to let the mind dwell on self, but look to Christ.

 

This next quote is so important as we are growing up into Christ.  The closer we get to Him, the more we will recognize the plans and strategies that Satan uses.  Here she makes it plan how Satan functions in our live and tell me if this is not true!

It is Satan’s constant effort to keep the attention diverted from the Saviour, and thus prevent the union and communion of the soul with Christ.  The pleasures of the world, life’s cares and perplexities and sorrows, the faults of others, or your own faults and imperfections,–to any or all of these he will seek to divert the mind.  Do not be misled by his devices.  Many who are really conscientious, and who desire to live for God, he too often leads to dwell upon their own faults and weaknesses, and thus by separating them from Christ, he hopes to gain the victory.

When Christ took human nature upon him, he bound humanity to himself by a tie of love that can never be broken by any power save the choice of man himself.

When Christ abides in the heart, the whole nature is transformed.  Christ’s spirit, his love, softens the heart, subdues the soul, and raises the thoughts and desires toward God and heaven.

Jesus prayed for us, and he asked that we might be one with him, even as he is one with the Father.  What a union is this!  The Saviour had said of himself, “The Son can do nothing of himself;” “the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” Then if Christ is dwelling in our hearts, he will work in us “both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”* We shall work as he worked; we shall manifest the same spirit.  And thus, loving him and abiding in him, we shall “grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

 

May we never forget that it is ALL ABOUT JESUS.  Growing up into Christ is all about learning to trust Jesus with everything.  He will never force us to worship Him and obey Him, but by simply surrendering to Him, He will live out His life in us!  What a wonderous gift and opportunity we have to experience the very presence of God living in us!  May we not take it for granted.

READ THIS CHAPTER!

Blessings from da bedroom,

Matthew

Poolside Sabbath

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Today is the Sabbath, a day of rest to bask in God’s presence and refrain from work.  Susan, my wife, has worked over 50 hours in the last three days alone.  Needless to say she is wiped out.  And in two days we will be celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary (checks can be made out to Matthew and Susan.. j/k).  That being said we took the opportunity to spend the day together.  The goal was to drive up the coast of Connecticut to find a beach where the three of us (Mia came along too) could chill together.  While the drive up Route 167 was gorgeous, we could not find one public beach where we could park and enjoy the sights.  So we had to settle for lunch at a marina.  Wanting to be able to get in the water, we came back home to go to the pool.

Over the past few days, I have found myself re-engaging in devotional time with God in His Word.  This is not to say that I had stopped entirely, but I felt that my devotional time had come to a place of complacency, as there was no real consistency or direction.  So along with some prayer and encouraging conversations with some friends, I committed to reading the corresponding chapter for the day out of Proverbs as well as some out of another book of the Bible, which I have picked the Gospel of John.  When we made it out to the poolside, I opened to the chapter where I had left off yesterday, Chapter 5.  The title here is “The Healing at the Pool on the Sabbath.” (I actually laughed out loud… truly it is the LIVING WORD!) A couple of things stuck out to be about this story that I want to share with you.

1 – JESUS GOES WHERE FUNKY PEOPLE ARE – Jesus goes to Jerusalem for a feast.  Upon arrival he makes a b-line for the pool of Bethesda, you know the one by the Sheep Gate.  Who are there?  “A multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.” (:3) I love this about Jesus, He ALWAYS initiates!  He goes right into the cesspool of society to reveal His Father’s love and power!

2 – JESUS WANTS TO HEAR FROM US – While it may be obvious to us that these people want to be healed, Jesus doesn’t take it for granted.  He turns to one of the invalids who had been this way for 38 years and asks him, “Do you want to be healed?” (:6) Honestly, had I been there that day and overheard this question I would have laughed as it is bordering on ridiculous to ask an invalid that question.  But the more I think about it, two things dawn on me.  1) Not everyone wants to be healed.  I mean really, truly, honestly wants to be healed; and 2) Jesus wants to hear us articulate our need.

Have you ever met someone who seems perfectly content living in his or her funk?  It is as though they have resigned themselves to living in sin, brokenness, poverty, shamefulness, etc.  Their family members and friends look on and shake their head realizing that they have so much more potential, but they chose to remain in the situation they are in.  In some respects the saying is true that Jesus will help those who help themselves.  Jesus tells the man, “take up your bed and walk” and “at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.” (:8,9)

I don’t know about you today, but I am tired of being hypocritical, stagnant, lying around in my complacency and accepting mediocracy!  I believe that Jesus is coming to me and you today, meeting us in our funk and telling us to stand up and walk as sons and daughters of the most High God.  How do we do it?  How about “take up your cross and follow Him!” (Luke 9:23)

Blessings from the poolside!

Steps to Christ, Pt. 6: The Test of Discipleship

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So we continue today looking at chapter 6, The Test of Discipleship.  This is really where the rubber hits the road because when Jesus died and rose again, He did not go out saying, “Go make more Christians”, He said, “Go, make disciples” (Matthew 28).

The question begs to be asked, What is a disciple?  Simply put, a disciple is a student.  Jesus is often referred to in the Bible as a Rabbi, which means teacher.  Putting it all together, when we decide to follow Jesus by putting all our faith, hope, trust and love into Him (His life, teachings, death, resurrection), we become a “student” of the Master Rabbi Jesus.

There are going to be a lot of quotes in this one!  It is a great chapter.  Be sure to read it and if you need a copy check it out at www.stepstoChrist.us!

To know whether or not you are a student of Jesus, Ellen states, “while we must not trust at all to ourselves or our good works, our lives will reveal whether the grace of God is dwelling within us.  A change will be seen in the character, the habits, the pursuits.  The contrast will be clear and decided between what they have been and what they are.  The character is revealed, not by occasional good deeds and occasional misdeeds, but by the tendency of the habitual words and acts.” In another one of her writings, Ellen states that it is not the occasional misdeed, but the trajectory of a lifetime.  A true disciple or follower of Jesus will notice that the rhythm of their lives is stepping to the beat of a new drum(er), so to speak.  Or for you more methodologically conservative folk, the rhythm of your life will now be set to a non-syncopated rhythm.

Reminding me of the passage in Romans 8:6 where Paul states that “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace”, Ellen continues to add, “Who has the heart?  With whom are our thoughts?  Of whom do we love to converse?  Who has our warmest affections and our best energies?  If we are Christ’s, our thoughts are with him, and our sweetest thoughts are of him.  All that we have and are is consecrated to him.  We long to bear his image, breathe his spirit, do his will and please him in all things.” With absolutely no desire to boost in my flesh, I can honestly say that Jesus is my greatest hope, my greatest thought, my greatest desire, my favorite topic to talk about, etc….  What about you?  Is He your everything?

Remember when I said that there were going to be a lot of quotes?  Take a gander at these paragraphs:

There are two errors against which the children of God–particularly those who have just come to trust in his grace–especially need to guard.  The first, already dwelt upon, is that of looking to their own works, trusting to anything they can do, to bring themselves into harmony with God.  He who is trying to become holy by his own works in keeping the law, is attempting an impossibility.  All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin.  It is the grace of Christ alone, through faith, that can make us holy.

The opposite and no less dangerous error is, that belief in Christ releases men from keeping the law of God; that since by faith alone we become partakers of the grace of Christ, our works have nothing to do with our redemption.

But notice here that obedience is not a mere outward compliance, but the service of love.  The law of God is an expression of his very nature; it is an embodiment of the great principle of love, and hence is the foundation of his government in heaven and earth.  If our hearts are renewed in the likeness of God, if the divine love is implanted in the soul, will not the law of God be carried out in the life?  When the principle of love is implanted in the heart, when man is renewed after the image of Him that created him, the new covenant promise is fulfilled, “I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.”* And if the law is written in the heart, will it not shape the life?  Obedience–the service and allegiance of love–is the true sign of discipleship.  Thus the Scripture says, “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”* Instead of releasing man from obedience, it is faith, and faith only, that makes us partakers of the grace of Christ, which enables us to render obedience.

We do not earn salvation by our obedience; for salvation is the free gift of God, to be received by faith.  But obedience is the fruit of faith.

 

If you are struggling today with your performance, I want to simply invite you to give up.  Your righteousness is as filthy rags (see the prophet Isaiah).  If you think that Ellen White was a legalist, please read these paragraphs again!  I re-quote, “He who is trying to become holy by his own works in keeping the law, is attempting an impossibility.” In and of yourself you cannot do it.  However, according to 1 Corinthians 6:19, “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit”!  This is only available for the believer.  What does this mean?  It means that the very Spirit of God actually makes His dwelling place INSIDE YOU!  And it is only by HIM LIVING IN YOU that you can walk as He walked.  AND with Him living in you, you will begin to, as the Psalmist David says, “delight in the law”!  That is what Hebrews 10:16 is all about, “I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.”

I could go on and on about this chapter.  Please read the book!  Let me know your thoughts, questions, comments, prayer requests, etc.

Courage!

Matthew