Psalm 17:3 Go ahead, examine me from inside out, surprise me in the middle of the night-- You'll find I'm just what I say I am. My words don't run loose.
Was David saying he was sinless? Far from a proud assumption of purity, David's claim was an understanding of his relationship with God. In Psalms 32 and 51, David freely acknowledged his own sins. Nevertheless his relationship with God was one of close fellowship and constant repentance and forgiveness. His claim to goodness, therefore, was based on his continual seeking after God. H e was asking God to search him from the inside out. His statement, "My words don't run loose" is a claim that every child of God should strive to be able to make.
As I read our verse this morning, I prayed, "Lord please forgive me for the times my words HAVE run loose, which is too often. I get frustrated or aggravated and run off with my mouth. I don't DIE to my flesh, I yield to my flesh and allow my words to run loose. The Holy Spirit brought the following verses to my mind this morning:
Ephesians 4:29-32 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. (30) Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted. (31) Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. (32) Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
We can bring sorrow to the Holy Spirit by the way we live. Paul warns us against unwholesome language, bitterness, improper use of anger, harsh words, slander, and bad attitudes toward others. Instead of acting that way, we should be forgiving, just as God has forgiven us. Are you bringing sorrow or pleasing God with your attitudes and actions? Act in love toward your brothers and sisters in Christ, just as God acted in love by sending his Son to die for your sins. Do I allow my words to "run loose"? I'm afraid way too often, I do.
When I allow my words to "run loose" I am breaking the heart of the Holy Spirit, I am grieving Him. I need to remember today that "the Holy Spirit, moving and breathing" in me is the most intimate part of my life. As He convicts me of the angry, frustrated, agitated words that I speak, I must repent of them because God is making me "fit for Himself" according to the verse above. Today...I choose to reign my words in by dying to my flesh, in Jesus' name!
"Lord, I ask you to forgive me for allowing my words to run loose and grieving Your Holy Spirit. Today, I want to please you and allow YOU to have control of my life today. This cannot happen if I do not make a conscious effort to "crucify my flesh." I refuse to allow my words to run rampant in my life. They hurt you and those who are around. I want my words to edify and encourage not tear down and discourage. In Jesus' name, amen!"
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 7:20 AM
Monday, October 18, 2010
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 8:38 AM
Friday, October 15, 2010
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
This "huge crowd of witnesses" is composed of the people described in chapter 11. Their faithfulness is a constant encouragement to us. We do not struggle alone, and we are not the first to struggle with the problems we face. Others have run the race and won, and their witness stirs us to run and win also. What an inspiring heritage we have!
Long-distance runners work hard to build endurance and strength. On race day, their clothes are lightweight and their bodies lean. To run the race that God has set before us, we must also strip off the excess weight that slows us down. How can we do that? (1) Choose friends who are also committed to the race. Wrong friends will have values and activities that may deter you from the course. Much of your own weight may result from the crowd you run with. Make wise choices. (2) Drop certain activities. That is, for you at this time these may be weight. Try dropping them for a while; then check the results in your life. (3) Get help for addictions that disable you. If you have a secret "weight" such as pornography, gambling, or alcohol, admit your need and get help today.
Achilles, the Greek hero of the Trojan War, was invulnerable, with one exception: his heel. Shoot him there and he'd go down. Guess what? He died from an arrow to the heel! We all have our Achilles' heel - the 'sin that so easily trips us up'. Here, blindness, indifference or denial sets us up for failure.
So how do we overcome our Achilles' heel? Author John Piper offers us a solution in the form of an acronym: ANTHEM.
A: avoid sights and situations that arouse unfitting desires. Prevent what fuels your appetite for sin.
N: say no to every lustful thought within five seconds. In the first two seconds shout 'No, get out of my head!' In the next two, cry out, 'Oh God, in the name of Jesus, help me. Save me now. I am yours.' Say it out loud. The Puritan writer John Owen said, 'Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.'
T: turn the mind forcefully towards Christ. Attack sin with the promises of Christ.
H: hold the promise and pleasure of Christ firmly in mind. For how long? Until it pushes other images out. Hold it. Don't let it go. Hold it until you win!
E: enjoy a superior satisfaction, namely, pleasure in Christ. If you have little taste for Jesus, competing pleasures will triumph.
M: move into useful activity, away from idleness and other vulnerable behaviours. Abound in the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Replace deceitful lusts with a passion for good deeds. Today, using this simple acronym, you can move from vulnerability to victory by drawing on the power of God's Spirit within you (Galatians 5:25):
"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."
"Lord, help me to be aware of my spiritual 'Achilles heel', blind spots in my life that will set me up for failure if I do not keep in step with the Spirit. Help me today to memorize and live by this 'ANTHEM' acrostic. I thank You for the victory. In Jesus' name!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 7:20 AM
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Leviticus 26:1 "Don't make idols for yourselves; don't set up an image or a sacred pillar for yourselves, and don't place a carved stone in your land that you can bow down to in worship. I am GOD, your God.
Twice as much space is devoted to warning as to blessing in this chapter. The people of the Old Testament were warned over and over against worshiping idols. Adversity, the promised fruit of disobedience, is a tool which God uses, not to inflict revenge but to lead His people to repentance (vv. 40-42). National chastisement would be increasingly severe until the people confessed their iniquity. Notice the progression in verses 14, 18, 21, 24, and 28.
After warnings against idolatry (v. 1), sabbath-breaking, and irreverence (v. 2), the Lord promised the following blessings to the nation if it would keep His commandments: rain, fertility (v. 4), productivity, security (v. 5), peace, safety (v. 6), victory over enemies (vv. 7, 8), fruitfulness, and the presence of the Lord (vv. 9-13).
How does this apply to me? We wonder how they could deceive themselves with these objects of wood and stone. Yet God could well give us the same warning, for we are prone to put idols before him. Idolatry is making anything more important than God, and our lives are full of that temptation. Money, looks, success, reputation, security-these are today's idols.
Idols made by our own hands:
Isaiah 2:8 (AMP) Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, what their own fingers have made.
God's people have also had a propensity to worship God's blessings. Judges 8:27 Gideon made the gold (the spoils from the battle with Midian) into a sacred ephod and put it on display in his hometown, Ophrah. All Israel prostituted itself there. Gideon and his family, too, were seduced by it. The Children of Israel were "seduced" by the blessings of God. Even Gideon committed "spiritual prostitution" by giving worship to the things that God blessed him with, instead of giving worship to God. I need to examine myself to make sure I am not being seduced to worship the blessings of God instead of the God of all blessings. Idolatry has a seductive side to it. It is constantly calling out for your attention and worship. That is why it is so important to daily spend time in praise, worship and thanksgiving to the one and only True God!
As you look at these false gods that seductively promise everything you want but nothing you need, does idolatry seem so far removed from your experience? The cry of my heart is, "Help me Lord!"
"Lord, please forgive me for allowing myself to be seduced by the very things that you have blessed me with. Every where I turn I see your blessing. Too often, I give more attention to the blessing than to the "Blessor." I truly repent of this, and ask you to forgive me. I want to daily recognize your blessings and give you heartfelt thanks! You are such a good God, and full of compassion and mercy. You pour out so much grace into my life, and yet I often forget to stop and say "Thank you, Lord!" Today, I will be more aware of the seduction that blessings can be in my life. I have made up my mind today, to give more praise to the Giver than the gift. I love you Jesus, and thank you for the process of holiness that you are bringing into my life as I daily strive to be the man of God that you want me to be. In Jesus' name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 8:10 AM
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Numbers 2:9 The total number of men assigned to Judah, troop by troop, is 186,400. They will lead the march.
Numbers 2 gives the specific arrangement and disposition of the tribes, and lists the number of each tribe and where they were to be positioned. It is seen from this arrangement that the vanguard and rear guard of the host had the strongest forces-186,400 and 157,600 respectively-with the smaller tribal groupings within them and the tabernacle in the center.
To each tribe, then, there was given a specific place and function, and each was to be in his divinely appointed place. It is not difficult to see shadows of New Testament patterns here. The apostle Paul says, "Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called" (1 Corinthians 7:20), and "You are the body of Christ, and members individually" (I Corinthians 12:27). The words in verse Numbers 2:17, "everyone in his place," provide the direct link with these New Testament references. The Danites, for example, were behind the others in most of the march; yet they were good fighting men, and therefore particularly fit for that position. They were needed there to ward off surprise attacks from the rear. The tribe of Judah was to lead the march into battle. In every battle, Judah was to go first.
How does this apply to me?
Judah, in Hebrew, means: "the praise of the Lord." When you understand this meaning, we get a clear picture of what God is telling His Children. "Praise" should always go first into every battle. It doesn't matter how great the struggle or the storm, go into the storm with praise in your heart that flows out of your mouth. God is giving His complaining, whining, belly aching children an alternative. Praise and thanksgiving! Their tendency was to go into battle complaining about "not enough food" or "no beds" and how they "needed a new leader". God knew that they would never be who God created them to be if they didn't start sending Praise (Judah) first into battle.
Many times I find myself going into a battle not with praise, but with complaining, and words of fear, or doubt. God is showing me today, through His Word that I need to have His praise in my mouth, at all times, but especially heading into a battle.
The whole pattern in Numbers 2 presents a vital picture:
Here are the people of God on the move, with the ark of the covenant in their midst, the Word of the living God at the heart of everything, as it were, directing all the operations and sending forth its influence in grace and power.
And a church with the Word of God at the heart of its life is a church that will advance purposefully, because it is one that has life and influence. It is certainly no accident that, later in the ongoing story of Israel (Joshua 2:10-11), when the Canaanite tribes heard of the advancing host of Israel, their strength was turned to water within them because they knew that in the midst of these Israelites was a real and living God, a mighty God who did exploits for His people.
What a blessed people we are! God's Word in our midst and hearts, and praise to our God going before us. I can't help but be victorious with that combination! Amen?
"Dear Lord, I am so thankful for your Word today. I am so challenged with the thought of entering each battle, struggle or storm with 'Praise' and not complaining. Please forgive me for the times that I have allowed a wrong spirit to develop within me. Also, for the times that I have been more of a complainer than a praiser. You deserve my praise. Today, I choose to emphasize praise and thanksgiving. I will also continue to hide your Word in my heart, and declare it victoriously while praising. When I enter a battle with praise and thanksgiving, I am declaring to the enemy that 'the battle is not mine, but it is Gods!' I love you Lord, and thank you for the blessing of today. In Jesus' name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 7:19 AM
Friday, October 8, 2010
Mark 4:37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.
The "lake" is the Sea of Galilee, a body of water 680 feet below sea level and surrounded by hills. Winds blowing across the land intensify close to the sea, often causing violent and unexpected storms. The disciples were seasoned fishermen, who had spent their lives fishing on this huge lake, but during this squall they panicked.
The Christian life may have more stormy weather than calm seas. The disciples needed rest, but they encountered a terrible storm. As Christ's follower, be prepared for the storms that will surely come. Do not surrender to the stress, but remain resilient and recover from setbacks. With faith in Christ, you can pray, trust, and move ahead. When a squall approaches, lean into the wind and trust God.
I would like to share with you some thoughts from Max Lucado on this subject:
When the restaurant waiter brings you a cold hamburger and a hot soda, you want to know who is in charge. When a young fellow wants to impress his girlfriend, he takes her down to the convenience store where he works and boasts, "Every night from five to ten o’clock, I’m in charge." We know what it means to be in charge of a restaurant or a store, but to be in charge of the universe? This is the claim of Jesus.
There are many examples of Jesus’ authority, but I’ll just mention one of my favorites. Jesus and the disciples are in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee. A storm arises suddenly, and what was placid becomes violent—monstrous waves rise out of the sea and slap the boat. Mark describes it clearly: "A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped" (Mark 4:37 NIV).
It’s very important that you get an accurate picture, so I’m going to ask you to imagine yourself in the boat. It’s a sturdy vessel but no match for these ten-foot waves. It plunges nose first into the wall of water. The force of the waves dangerously tips the boat until the bow seems to be pointing straight at the sky, and just when you fear flipping over backward, the vessel pitches forward into the valley of another wave. A dozen sets of hands join yours in clutching the mast. All your shipmates have wet heads and wide eyes. You tune your ear for a calming voice, but all you hear are screams and prayers. All of a sudden it hits you—someone is missing. Where is Jesus? He’s not at the mast. He’s not grabbing the edge. Where is he? Then you hear something—a noise … a displaced sound … as if someone is snoring. You turn and look, and there curled in the stern of the boat is Jesus, sleeping!
You don’t know whether to be amazed or angry, so you’re both. How can he sleep at a time like this? Or as the disciples asked, "Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?" (Mark 4:38 NIV).
The very storm that made the disciples panic made him drowsy. What put fear in their eyes put him to sleep. The boat was a tomb to the followers and a cradle to Christ. How could he sleep through the storm? Simple—he was in charge of it.
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" (Mark 4:39–40 NIV)
Incredible…Is it any wonder the disciples were willing to die for Jesus? Never had they seen such power; never had they seen such glory. It was like, well, like the whole universe was his kingdom.
It’s only right that they declare his authority. It’s only right that we do the same. And when we do, we state without question: The ruler of the universe rules our hearts. He truly is the Master of not only the wind, but of the universe!
"Lord, I am so thankful that You are not only the Master of the wind, but of every situation that I face. I choose to stay close to You today through prayer, Bible study, and meditation. Help me to remember this Word and story as I face whatever this day holds. In Jesus' name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 8:14 AM
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Leviticus 26:36-37 "'As for those of you who are left, I will make their hearts so fearful in the lands of their enemies that the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to flight. They will run as though fleeing from the sword, and they will fall, even though no one is pursuing them.
The list of curses for disobedience (Leviticus 26:14-15) is more than three times as long as the blessings for obedience. In a fallen and broken world, our proclivity toward disobedience seems to exceed our bent to obedience. Persistence in disobedience and violation of the covenant will be met with emotional and physical disease and the loss of their crops to their enemies who will conquer them (Leviticus 26:16-17). In contrast to the promised blessing, they will flee even when no one is pursuing them.
Our verse today shows one of the things that will happen as a consequence of disobedience. They would be so fearful that "sound of a windblown LEAF will put them to flight..." That's being pretty nervous isn't it? A rustling leaf will send them running as if they are fleeing from the sword, even though NO ONE is pursuing them. Paranoia is rampant in our great country. Everybody thinks someone is out to get them. We here "rustling leaf's" all the time. Constant fear, and very little of God's peace. That needs to change! That is not how God intended for us to live our lives!
Are you feeling afraid today? If so, listen to these words from the God who loves you beyond expression, protects you around the clock, and blesses everything you put your hand to.
When there seems to be no way out, He says to you, "… fear not: stand still [firm, confident, undismayed] and see the salvation [deliverance] of the Lord, which He will work for you today… (Exodus 14:13 AMP).
When the problem looks too big, He says to you, "Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6 AMP).
When you feel like you just can't cope anymore, He says to you, "… do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with my [victorious] right hand… (Isaiah 41:10 AMP).
When you long for peace of mind, He says to you, "Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance… continue to make your wants known to God. And God's peace… which transcends all understanding, shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds… (Philippians 4:6-7 AMP).
According to Author Bob Gass: Worry is something you permit; peace is something you pursue. Jesus said in John 14:27, "Do not permit yourselves to be fearful." That means you can take control of what goes on in your mind. How? By doing three things:
(1) By filling it with God's Word. Not just the Word you read casually, but the Word you process mentally, apply to each circumstance, and stand on in times of crisis.
(2) By placing each situation into God's hands, and leaving it there with confidence.
(3) By allowing the "Soldier of peace" to stand at guard of your heart and mind.
Phippians 4:7 And God's peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
"Lord, everything's in a panic! Even the sound of a LEAF will cause me to run in terror. There's far too much to do and never enough hours to do it. My head is clogged with all kinds of junk and my heart is ready to break. Lord, where are You? I feel like the disciples when the storm came up and the winds and waves rocked their boat. My cry is the same as theirs, 'Somebody go get Jesus - I'm about to drown out here!' The storms of my life have all but sunk my boat - I can't take much more. Prince of Peace I need You. Father, who never slumbers nor sleeps, take charge. I need the comfort and courage that comes from Your Spirit. Speak Lord, for the wind still remembers the sound of Your voice. Let me find in You a quiet place, a place where I can pillow my head on Your breast, hear Your heartbeat, and feel secure. In Jesus name, Amen."
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 7:36 AM
Friday, October 1, 2010
2 Corinthians 7:5-6 When we arrived in Macedonia province, we couldn't settle down. The fights in the church and the fears in our hearts kept us on pins and needles. We couldn't relax because we didn't know how it would turn out. (6) Then the God who lifts up the downcast lifted our heads and our hearts with the arrival of Titus.
Think about what Paul wrote. He was facing trouble on the outside, as well as internally. His heart was full of dread and fear, then God sent a great gift! What was the gift? Titus. The name Titus means "nurse." A Nurse is a great help and assistance to a doctor. He/she many times are the hands, words, and care of the doctor extended. The nurse represents the doctor.
Some of the people around you, even successful ones, are dying on the vine for lack of encouragement. Solomon writes, "How delightful is a timely word." (Proverbs 15:23) Isn't that true? It's delightful to receive a timely word. The Message says, "The right word at the right time - beautiful!"
Encouragement brings emotional healing, restores hope by putting the problem into perspective, and makes the day more bearable. Is there someone you know who needs encouragement? A prisoner trying to stay strong in a hostile environment while repaying his debt to society? A divorcee trying to rebuild his or her life? A breadwinner who's out of work, worried about their family? A widow who needs companionship? A servant of God labouring in an obscure and difficult ministry? Everyone is struggling with something - so everyone needs encouragement.
William Barclay writes, "One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement… it is easy to laugh at men's ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of such discouragers. But we have a duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word."
Paul writes: "Outside, trouble was on every hand… within us, our hearts were full of dread and fear. Then God who cheers those who are discouraged refreshed us by the arrival of Titus. Not only was his presence a joy, but also the news that he brought" (2 Corinthians 7:5-7 TLB).
Mark 2:17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Jesus is the great physician, the doctor. Every doctor needs a Nurse. God is looking for "Titus’" to step into situations and bring joy, cheer, encouragement, refreshment, and good news to those who are down trodden and feel like giving up. So many people are battling deep pits of despair, discouragement and depression. There is a great need for Titus’. There is a great need for Nurses in the kingdom of God.
The question that I asked myself after reading these verses was, "when I arrive at a place, do I bring encouragement? Do I bring joy? Good news? Do I refresh those who I come in contact with?" Or, am I messenger of bad news, discouragement, and do people avoid me because of my negativity?
I hope and pray that I am a nurse (Titus) for the great physician. God knows in my heart, that is what I desire! But desire left alone, isn’t effective. I must allow it to drive me to action!
So, be a Titus - encourage someone today. Amen?
"Lord, as I said above, my heart's desire is to encourage someone today. I believe that you will bring people in my path, divine appointments, that need some help because they are battling discouragment. May I be ready and willing. In Jesus name, amen!"
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 8:54 AM