The Quest – Day 39

This is the devotional for Friday, November 3, 2006 which is the 39th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 39 of Frank Moore’s life-changing book, The Power To Be Free.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

 

Day 39 – Life in the Spirit of Christ

We live life in the Spirit of Christ every day through a thousand daily choices.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2 NIV)

To develop Christlike character we must look to Christ as our example. Then we consecrate ourselves completely to God. Next, we receive His gift of sanctification. Then we move from one growth cycle to another for the rest of our lives.

If you have heard that God quantum-leaps you to Christlike maturity in one moment with one prayer, you have been misled. Yes, our consecration can be accepted and our hearts purified in a moment. But the work of maturity is done in the many choices we make daily.

In our Scripture text for today Paul speaks of God’s incredible freedom that enables you to choose daily the way you think, value, and live. You have the freedom to choose one of two ways of life:

    Two preferences
Life in Christ Jesus, or
Life in the flesh, by which paul means living according to the carnal nature of humanity that prefers self over God

    Two walks
A spiritual walk in step with God’s value system, or
A fleshly walk in step with one’s own value system

    Two laws
The law of the Spirit of life – not a list of dos and don’ts, but the guidance of our deep love for God
The second law is the law of death – the outcome of doing what you please ends in spiritual death.

    Two powers
The power of Christ to forgive and free us from sin, or
The power of the old, condemning law which is powerless to deliver us.

    Two loyalties
Loyalty to the Spirit in which our pleasure is to do His pleasure, or
Loyalty to the flesh in which we become enslaved to our desires, passions and addictions

    Two destinies
Eternal life, or
Eternal death

Each day we have a choice between these two ways of life. You validate your consecration and affirm your sanctification in daily choices as you continue to live out your resolve to make Christ Lord of all!

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 1:27, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

For more information on both the FaithBuilders podcast and the Faith Church podcast visit www.buildyourfaith.net. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

Build your faith today by choosing life in the Spirit of Christ.

The Quest – Day 38

This is the devotional for Thursday, November 2, 2006 which is the 38th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 38 of Frank Moore’s life-changing book, The Power To Be Free. 

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

 

Day 38 – Growing in the Spirit of Christ

 

The Spirit of Christ wants to grow a Christlike character in you.

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”   (Colossians 1:9 NIV) 

Character growth doesn’t happen while you sleep or watch television.  God expects you to roll up your sleeves and do your part to exercise, grow and mature.  You and I cannot build a foundation on feeling and emotion.  Growth in wisdom, understanding and good works lead to growth in our knowledge of God as well as growth in Christlike character.

On Days 34 and 35 we reviewed the characteristics of Jesus’ life that offer goals for us to develop Christlike character.  We can’t develop these qualities on our own.  God works in our hearts to create these qualities in us.  God accomplishes decisive, character-building work in us only after we consecrate ourselves totally to Him.  After we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, He fills us with the Spirit of Christ.  We then enter a clear path to a lifetime of growth and development in Christlike character.  So take a moment to review the strategies for growth we mentioned on Day 3

In Ephesians 4 Paul shows us that God’s plan is to enrich our lives personally as well as to enrich the community of faith.  We grow as we minister to one another and the community of faith grows as well.  Christ works like glue holding believers together to form His Body on earth.  The purpose of this plan is to bring us to a common belief, a common Savior, and a common model for our spiritual maturity.  God doesn’t want you to be a spiritual baby, an infant who will never grow out of the “baby stage.”

Right standing with God does not exempt us from the need for further spiritual growth.  We must balance our thinking between satisfaction in what Christ accomplished for us on the Cross and a hunger to press on to a deeper walk with God. 

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 1:27, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

For more information on both the FaithBuilders podcast and the Faith Church podcast visit www.buildyourfaith.net.  For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.  

Build your faith today by pressing on toward maturity.

The Quest – Day 37

This is the devotional for Wednesday, November 1, 2006 which is the 37th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 37 of Frank Moore’s life-changing book, The Power To Be Free.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

 

Day 37 – Accepting God’s Gift

 

Our quest will succeed only after we receive God’s gift of sanctification. 

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”   (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NIV)

In Charles Dickens’ classic book Great Expectations, the character Abel Magwitch worked quietly behind the scenes as a secret benefactor to Philip Pirrip, nicknamed Pip, to provide him with resources and opportunities throughout his life that elevated him into high society.  Much later, Pip looked back and saw the unmistakable hand of his secret benefactor in his life.  More often than not, we also succeed because of a team effort or a friend or relative working quietly behind the scenes to assist in our accomplishments. 

The same is true of spiritual success.  God gives us many benefits.  Just as we do not earn or deserve the new birth, we do not earn or deserve sanctification.  In our Scripture focus today Paul shows us that sanctification is not something we do for ourselves; God does it.  We receive God’s gift by faith. 

“To sanctify” means to set apart for God.  In the New Testament, it is believers who are sanctified rather than places or things as was true in the Old Testament.  God sets us apart for himself, but with an added dimension.  He cleanses and purifies our hearts and places His Spirit within us to enable us to live the lives to which He calls us. 

Paul’s description of the work of the Spirit in 1 Thessalonians 4:8 and 5:23 shows us that  God accepts our consecration (which was yesterday’s topic) by giving us the gift of sanctification in a moment in time, but that He also places His Spirit in us on an ongoing basis.  So, we experience both a moment-in-time experience and a daily process of growth toward maturity.  This experience affects every part of our being:  spirit, soul, and body. 

So, what is the source of this sanctification?  Paul says God calls us; God is faithful; God will do it.  Yes, my commitment to Him and my self-discipline are important.  However, God’s gift of His Spirit and His sanctification are the real reasons we can live holy lives. 

God’s plan for us to live holy lives calls us to sanctification which is also God’s gift to us.  He sanctifies in a moment and gives us His Spirit each moment for a lifetime of growth in sanctification.

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 1:27, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” 

For more information on both the FaithBuilders podcast and the Faith Church podcast visit www.buildyourfaith.net.  For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org. 

Build your faith today by receiving God’s gift of sanctification by faith.

The Quest – Day 26

This is the devotional for Saturday, October 21, 2006 which is the 26th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 26 of Frank Moore’s insightful book, The Power To Be Free.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 26 – Heart Pure

You can be heart pure with a single-minded heart toward God.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8 NIV)

Author Frank Moore says that he hates the bait and switch. He has seen a product advertised in the newspaper, but the sales clerk politely informs him that the item is currently out of stock. But he tells him they have a much better product that costs only $50 more.

The bait and switch sometimes occurs in our quest for purity. We read the Bible and talk with Christian friends about God’s provision for our spiritual development and maturity, so we pursue it. Then somehow during the process we find we’ve been switched to performance-based approval.

Now, don’t misunderstand. Becoming a Christian always leads naturally into a new lifestyle that flows from becoming a new creature in Christ. It becomes a problem, however, if we attempt to reduce our Christian lifestyle into a codified checklist of duties.

Purity of heart is singleness of purpose for God’s will and way. More than anything, the person with a pure heart wants to find and do God’s will. So does single-mindedness classify a believer as pure in heart? If you’re talking perfect performance, the answer is no. Maturity and growth bring that. If you’re talking about perfect motive or desire to please God, the answer is yes.

When a small child gets her dad a glass of ice water while he’s working it is an act of pure love. So the dad forgives the muddy water from his child’s unwashed hands because the glass was full of love! Is your action always flawless? No. Can the desire of your heart be pure and clean? Yes!

The memory verse for this week is Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders podcast at www.buildyourfaith.net. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

If you were unable to attend Sunday’s service, focusing on Discovery 3 of the Quest, or if you’d like to hear previous messages in The Quest series, please sign up for our Faith Nazarene Church podcast. You will find the link at www.buildyourfaith.net.

Build your faith today by loving God out of a pure heart.

The Quest – Day 3

This is the devotional for Thursday, September 28, 2006, which is the 3rd day of our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 3 of Frank Moore’s book, The Power to Be Free.

If you were unable to attend Sunday’s Kickoff service for the Quest, we’d love you have you participate via our Faith Nazarene Church podcast.

Day 3 – Got Growth?

Spiritual life brings growth.

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2, NIV)

It was a sad sight to behold! Every time I looked out the living room window or pushed the lawn mower next to it, I just couldn’t believe it–that poor little oak tree in our front yard. It reminded me of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. It stood about 8 feet tall.

One day as I stood under my neighbor’s 40-foot tree, he told me something I couldn’t believe. “You know our trees were planted on the same day?” Impossible!

I’ve since learned that oak trees have taproots that need to drill deep into the ground. My lawn sat on a solid rock shelf that prevented a deep root system. My oak just couldn’t grow on solid rock.

We expect oak trees to grow. We ought to be able to say the same about Christian believers. It is natural for Christians that after we discover our purpose in life we would continue to search for something more.

The Bible outlines some elements necessary for spiritual growth. Here is a partial list.

1. Participate in a variety of means of grace, such as prayer, Bible reading, meditation, worship with a group of believers, the Lord’s Supper, Christian fellowship and fasting. Also add listening to Christian music and reading Christian literature. Organize your life around your faith.

2. Practice the presence of God in your every day life. Talk with Him throughout the day as would you talk with your closest friend. Listen for His voice to direct you and obey Him.

3. Discipline your life to make it consistent with your commitment to Christ. This discipline applies to areas like eating habits, entertainment choices, time usage, choice of friends, responsibility to commitments, keeping your word, honesty in business dealings, responsibility with your money, and attitudes. You may stumble along the way. If you do, talk to the Lord about it, get back up and keep walking with Christ.

4. Learn to cope with life’s daily circumstances. Learn not to gauge your level of spiritual maturity on how well things happen to be going at the time.

5. Commit to the Lord your past failures, appetites, weaknesses, temptations, the failures of others, and situations you cannot change. Becoming a Christian does not solve all of your problems. Get help from trusted Christian friends or counselors if you need it.

6. Open your life to Kingdom priorities in each area of your life. This includes giving time and money to the cause of Christ. Give your life away in service to others.

All spiritual growth centers on Christlikeness. The more time you spend with Him, reading His Word and Christian literature, listening to music about Him, fellowshipping with other believers, the more like Him you will become.

Want to know if you are alive in Christ? Look in the mirror and ask yourself the question, “Got growth?”

Let’s review our memory verse for the week from Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

40 Days of Purpose – Day 29

This is the devotional for Sunday, May 28, 2006 which is Day 29 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 29 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 29 – Accepting Your Assignment

You were put on earth to make a contribution!

“It is God himself who made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.” Ephesians 2:10 (LB)

You were created to serve God. “God has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10b (TEV) These “good deeds” are your service to the world. Whenever you serve others in any way, you are actually serving God and fulfilling one of your purposes.

You were saved to serve God. Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t just immediately take us to heaven the moment we accept his grace? Once you are saved, God intends to use you for his goals. God has a ministry for you in his church and a mission for you in the world.

You are called to serve God. The Bible says, “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27 (NLT) Each of us has a role to play, and every role is important.

You are commanded to serve God. The mature follower of Jesus stops asking, “Who’s going to meet my needs?” and starts asking, “Whose needs can I meet?” Do you ever ask that question? One day God will compare how much time and energy we spent on ourselves compared with what we invested in serving others.

The memory verse for this week is “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.” 1 Peter 4:10

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. This podcast is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. Visit our website at jaxnaz.org for more information about our church. Build your faith today by serving God!

40 Days of Purpose – Day 28

This is the devotional for Saturday, May 27, 2006 which is Day 28 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 28 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 28 – It Takes Time

There are no shortcuts to maturity!

“I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.” Philippians 1:6 (LB)

It takes years for us to grow to adulthood, and it takes a full season for fruit to mature and ripen. The same is true for the fruit of the Spirit. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, takes time.

While we worry about how fast we grow, God is concerned about how strong we grow. Today we’re obsessed with speed, but God is more interested in strength and stability than swiftness.

When Habakkuk became depressed because he didn’t think God was acting quickly enough, God had this to say: “These things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” Habakkuk 2:3 (LB)

A delay is not a denial from God. Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be. God isn’t finished with you, so keep on moving forward. Even the snail reached the ark by persevering!

Take time today to review our verse of the week, Philippians 2:5 (NIV), “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” Have you memorized it yet?
Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. This podcast is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. Visit our website at jaxnaz.org for more information about our church. Build your faith today by committing to life-long growth!

40 Days of Purpose – Day 26

This is the devotional for Thursday, May 25, 2006 which is Day 26 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 26 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 26 – Growing Through Temptation

Every temptation is an opportunity to do good!

“Happy is the man who doesn’t give in and do wrong when he is tempted, for afterwards he will get as his reward the crown of life that God has promised those who love him.” James 1:12 (LB)

On the path to spiritual maturity, even temptation becomes a stepping-stone rather than a stumbling block when you realize that it is just as much an occasion to do the right thing, as it is to do the wrong thing.

While temptation is Satan’s primary weapon to destroy you, God wants to turn Satan’s weapon around to use it to develop you. Every time you choose to do good instead of sin, you are growing in the character of Christ. To understand this, you must first identify the character qualities of Jesus. One of the most concise descriptions of his character is the fruit of the Spirit: “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

Character development always involves a choice, and temptation provides that opportunity. Temptations keep us dependent upon God. Just as the roots grow stronger when wind blows against a tree, so every time you stand up to a temptation you become more like Jesus.

Instead of giving in or giving up, look up to God, expect him to help you, and remember the reward that is waiting for you: “When people are tempted and still continue strong, they should be happy. After they have proved their faith, God will reward them with life forever.” James 1:12 (NCV)

Let me encourage you to spread the word about the FaithBuilders Blog/Podcast which is hosted at http://www.buildyourfaith.net. FaithBuilders is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. For more information about our church, visit our website at jaxnaz.org.

Build your faith today by choosing to do good!

40 Days of Purpose – Day 23

This is the devotional for Monday, May 22, 2006 which is Day 23 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 23 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 23 – How We Grow

God wants you to grow up! “God wants us to grow up … like Christ in everything.” Ephesians 4:15a (Msg)

Your heavenly Father’s goal for you is to mature and develop the characteristics of Jesus Christ. Sadly, millions of Christians grow older but never grow up. They are stuck in perpetual spiritual infancy, remaining in diapers and booties. The reason is that they never intended to grow.

When the first disciples chose to follow Jesus, they didn’t understand all the implications of their decision. They simply responded to Jesus’ invitation. That’s all you need to get started: decide to become a disciple. Christ-likeness is the result of the sanctifying work of the Spirit and of making Christ-like choices and cooperating with his Spirit to help you fulfill those choices. Once you decide to get serious about becoming like Christ, you must begin to act in new ways. You will need to let go of some old routines, develop some new habits, and intentionally change the way you think. You can be certain that the Holy Spirit will help you with these changes.

The Bible says, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV)

The Christian life is far more than creeds and convictions; it includes conduct and character. Our deeds must be consistent with our creeds, and our beliefs must be backed up with Christlike behavior.

Review this week’s memory verse from Philippians 2:5 (NIV), “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. This podcast is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. Visit our website at jaxnaz.org for more information about our church. Build your faith today by cooperating with God’s plan to make you like His Son, Jesus Christ!

40 Days of Purpose – Day 20

This is the devotional for Friday, May 19, 2006 which is Day 20 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 20 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 20 – Restoring Broken Fellowship

Relationships are always worth restoring!

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you … Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.” Philippians 2:1-2 (Msg)

Because life is all about learning how to love, God wants us to value relationships and make the effort to maintain them instead of discarding them whenever there is a rift, a hurt, or a conflict.

Paul taught that our ability to get along with others is a mark of spiritual maturity. If you want God’s blessing on your life and you want to be known as a child of God, you must learn to be a peacemaker. Here are seven Biblical steps to restoring fellowship:

1. Talk to God before talking to the person.

2. Always take the initiative.

3. Sympathize with their feelings.

4. Confess your part of the conflict.

5. Attack the problem, not the person.

6. Cooperate as much as possible.

7. Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution.

Who do you need to contact as a result of reading this today? With whom do you need to restore fellowship? Don’t delay another second. Pause right now and talk to God about that person. Then pick up the phone and begin the process.

It takes a lot of effort to restore a relationship. That’s why Peter urged, “Work hard at living in peace with others.” 1 Peter 3:11 (NLT)

But when you work for peace, you are doing what God would do. That’s why God calls peacemakers his children.

Thank you for reading “FaithBuilders” at buildyourfaith.net. The FaithBuilders blog is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. Build your faith by taking steps to restore any broken relationships in your life today.

Take time to review the Memory Verse for the week: “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5 (NIV)