Self-Control


 

Our devotion today by Bro. Ed Matthews is about self-control.

When I think of this trait, I am reminded of the word in the King James Version: “sober.”  The  apostle Paul, in the books of 1 Timothy and Titus encouraged everybody to “be sober.”

We usually think of sobriety in connection with the cessation or avoidance of alcohol or mood-altering drugs. In the New Testament, it really has to do with the responsibility one has to oneself to maintain self-control. It has to do with the responsibility we owe ourselves to maintain control and focus in our lives.

When I think of some of the incidents in scripture when good people lost self-control, I’m reminded of King David. The sight of Bathsheba bathing on a roof-top was all it took for the king to lose his self-control and abandon all reason.

Passion is a good thing used for proper purposes, but too much passion can be dangerous. When Peter took his sword and cut off Malchus’ ear, he had lost his self-control. We owe it to our God, ourselves and our friends and family to lead a disciplined, controlled life as an example of Christ. We do not honor ourselves, others, or the Lord when we lose control of behavior. That’s never a condition fit for a child of God.

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Comfort


Sovereign God, Your Son had nowhere to lay His head. It is not enough
for me to offer Him a pillow. I must abandon my comforts for His sake. Help
me to do what You want me to do. Through Him, who leads the way, Amen.

Bro. Ed Matthews added the above prayer to his devotional for today, Jan. 18. I thought it was appropriate for what he discussed about Jesus and “comfort.”

Comfort is a necessary American item. People can’t get enough of it. Most people in the United States would not go without their homes, beds, pillows, couches, food, and warmth for a day.

Jesus lived a life with few comforts. He had no home (Matthew 8:20), he had no furniture. If he were alive today, would people think Jesus was a homeless man? Probably. Yet, this homeless man was not what he appeared, was he?

Bro. Ed makes the point that Jesus’ work was “merely devoid of earthly encumbrances.” True. But, the Lord wasn’t trying to put on a show for the benefit of others. His work was about teaching as many people as he could in the time he had been given.

Are we willing to do forgo comfort for the work Jesus did? Many are not. But, for those who are, they will find more comfort in sharing Christ with others than they could ever realize from a fluffy pillow.

Here’s a link to Ed’s devotional each day. Why not join us? https://plownewground.wordpress.com/

Means


Bro. Ed Matthews’ devotional today reminds me of 2 Kings chapter six. Elisha’s servant was unnerved when he saw the Syrian army. He turned to his master and said, “Oh, no, my master. What will we do?”

Many people are impressed by what Bro. Ed Matthews today labeled, “means.” We place too much emphasis on what we think we see!

We don’t have enough money, time, ability so we worry and ask, “what will I do?” Even those who wear the name of Christ look at the state of the world today and worry about it to almost the exclusion of all else because humans can become preoccupied with “means.”

Elisha’s answer to his servant was, “Don’t be afraid, for our side outnumbers them.” The servant could not understand this until God allowed him to see for himself.

Often, we Christians are afraid because we don’t remember “our side outnumbers them.” We should remember that the Lord God has not left us without help or counsel. We have our heavenly Father who provides for us, and the eternal presence of the King Eternal.

So, all we need do is open our eyes that we might see.

Faith, hope, love and fear


In the devotional today (“Plow New Ground”), Bro. Ed Matthews wrote about the three Israelites King Nebuchadnezzar decided to incinerate in the fiery furnace (Daniel chapter 3). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to allow fear of the king to make them worship a golden image. Ed’s thought was this: “The driving force behind the command of the king was fear—fear of punishment.” 

Love destroys fear (1 John 4:18). If we love God and believe his word enough to obey it and store in our hearts the hope of eternity there is nothing to fear from the king or anyone else. Whenever we recoil from doing what is right because of some fear, it is because those three godly qualities are weakened by some unreasonable concern.

Faith, produced by the reading and studying of God’s word helps us to understand what is right and how to do it. Hope helps us to want to do what God wants because eternity matters more than this old world. Love throws fear away by placing God and Christ on the throne of our hearts. With strong faith, hope and love, there is no fear of anything in this world that can disturb our relationship with God. Without those three things, anything can.

Am I like Christ if I won’t forgive?


 

 

Two words that Bro. Ed used in today’s devotional are some of the most challenging words for those who profess faith in Christ. “Forgive Onesimus,” is a clarion call. Onesimus had been Philemon’s possession. Now, Paul says, “he is much more than that to you: he is your beloved brother!”

 

Perhaps Philemon would have forgiven Onesimus even without Paul’s letter, but with the letter, Philemon is being reminded of something all those in Christ must remember: Christ forgave us when we were slaves to sin. If we were to have learned anything it is others need forgiveness just as we did. If I can’t forgive a brother who turns from sin to serve God, how can I claim to be Christlike?

I was part of a conversation once in which I heard a brother wish condemnation and imprisonment on a group of people who had been accused of a crime. No one likes to think he/she is “soft on crime,” but I wondered if his only son had been one of the accused would he be as quick to condemn and imprison him.

Here’s my point: for those who are willing to turn from sin in repentance and obedience to Christ shouldn’t we remember how enslaved we were and offer them our support instead of wishing for their condemnation and continued imprisonment to sin? You tell me.

Diligence


My devotion today from Brother Ed Matthews is about “diligence.”

Brother Ed wrote, “To devote oneself with diligence to the work of God, is the greatest use of life, II Corinthians 12:15Philippians 2:17I Thessalonians 2:8. It is the reason for existence, the purpose for drawing breath.”

Diligence is a word we don’t use often. It means eagerness or industriousness. The New Testament word is  

σπουδή and means, “earnestness in accomplishing, promoting or striving for anything,” (Thayer). John F. Kennedy, in his inaugural address said, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

Kennedy’s words give us a pretty good idea of what diligence is. This is different than the kind of religion that some practice sitting in church. Some hope the songs will only be one or two verses, the prayers will short and the preacher eager to get home.

Oh, that God’s elect may pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship to do God’s will on earth!

 

Christian diligence is about going the extra mile. Do you know what that means? I think we all do.

Ready to be amazed


My devotional today was from Acts 4:13. The rulers of Israel, possibly some of the ones who had killed Jesus, saw and heard Peter and John preaching Jesus. The passage says, “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John and discovered that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized these men had been with Jesus.”

The force of the inceptive imperfect verbs here is amazing. These rulers began to be amazed and began to recognize these men had been with Jesus. Yes, they began to be amazed, but that amazement kept going.

Being with Jesus (hearing and obeying his will) makes people like that. They change. Those who are sin-sick begin to recover and get stronger spiritually. Those who are weak find strength growing in their souls. Those who have never been able to help others find themselves reaching out. Those who are unfaithful and distant, when they begin doing Jesus’ will, find they begin to draw closer to God.

Being with Jesus makes all the difference. James wrote, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double-minded,” (James 4:8 NET). God is willing to draw closer to you, but you must be willing to be changed by the crucified son of God.

Are you ready to be amazed?