“A Good Quality of Life” 5/22/2015 by Bill Sweeney, stricken with ALS 18 years ago

“Our Daily Bread” http://odb.org
The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie http://www.harvest.org/devotional


Written by my friend Bill Sweeney, stricken with ALS 18 years ago. He now writes by use of an eye-tracking computer, with only his eye movements. Bill’s “Unshakable Hope” should give us all a reason to count our blessings !! (bruce)

Read more about Bill @ http://unshakablehope.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/opportunities-in-trials/

Original post @ https://unshakablehope.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/a-good-quality-of-life/

A Good Quality of Life

I’ve been thinking a lot about quality of life issues lately. More specifically, I’ve been trying to figure out why some people that (in the natural) possess virtually everything we think would make for a good quality of life, yet they’re miserable. Conversely, many others have almost none of the ingredients that we think must be in the mix for a good quality of life, but they seem perfectly content.

I think about this issue more and more as life with ALS becomes an even greater challenge. If ALS takes its natural course, the victim will die of respiratory failure. The muscles needed to breathe become weaker and weaker to the point where you just can’t breathe anymore. Oftentimes the flu or pneumonia are just too much for those with advanced ALS and can speed up this respiratory failure.

I had a severe case of the flu in February, and last month, I spent five days in the hospital with pneumonia. Both times I thought it might be the end of my journey in this life. I was definitely not happy with my quality of life when it took all the strength I had (which isn’t much) just to take a breath.

In a post from a few years ago, I said that I would rather die than live with a horrible disease like ALS. At the time I made that statement (about a year before being diagnosed with this horrible disease), I was healthy and had most of the things that people associate with a good quality of life.

I know that some people look at me and think that they’d rather be dead than live like this. I get it. But, as a Christian, I now believe that I was proud and kind of shallow when I made that statement so many years ago.

It’s so easy for Christians to quote well-known Bible verses when we’re not facing difficult challenges, but these same verses become real and so profound when life gets hard. For example, quoting Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me“), is easy when you’re strong, but it takes on a whole new meaning when you don’t even have enough strength to open your Bible and turn to it.

Does Philippians 4:13 still apply to people like me? YES!

If we put that verse in its proper context by reading the two verses that precede it:

“…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

In this passage, Paul is saying that the strength Christ gives us is to be “content (with our quality of life) in whatever circumstances” that we find ourselves in. I’m convinced that it’s this strength or lack thereof that determines how we view our quality of life when going through a difficult trial.

There was a time that I really didn’t like reading verses about God making us content in difficult circumstances. Contentment means you are happy, satisfied, comfortable and other words that sounded more like a Hawaiian vacation than trying to cope with a difficult trial like ALS. I basically viewed contentment as the enemy of hope (for a better quality of life). But I’ve since learned that contentment (in the Biblical sense) is not the enemy of hope; they’re partners.

“…hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” (Romans 8:24-25)

God-given contentment gives us the perseverance we need to keep on hoping for a better quality of life. Christ gives us contentment for today and hope for a better tomorrow; if we are not content today, we won’t have hope for tomorrow.

One day “tomorrow” will be eternity; the day that contentment no longer has need of hope or faith. It will be so much better than a Hawaiian vacation.

I’ve learned that the first and most important step to improving your quality of life is to do everything possible to improve the quality of life for others.

“Give, and it will be given to you…” (Luke 6:38)

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“Are You A Thermometer or A Thermostat?” 5/21/2015 by Pastor Dennis Thurman

Our Daily Bread” http://odb.org
The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie http://www.harvest.org/devotional


Written by Pastor Dennis Thurman for http://www.mountain-top-musings.blogspot.com

Original post @ http://mensdailylife.me/2015/05/04/are-you-a-thermometer-or-a-thermostat/

Are You A Thermometer or A Thermostat?

May 4, 2015 / mattj31



By Dennis Thurman

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. (Psalms 43:5)

A thermometer shows the temperature, but a thermostat sets the temperature. As a child of God I can reflect the climate of the circumstances I am in, or I can choose to see the situation from God’s perspective and set my heart accordingly. In Psalms 42-43 we find a man in great difficulty and tempted to be a thermometer reacting to his environment with despair. Instead, he decides to be a thermostat by rejoicing in the hope he has in God. Here is how it is done.

Let sorrow give way to song (Ps.42:1-5). You can be DEDICATED THOUGH DISTRESSED IN TEARFUL TIMES. Imagine a deer relentlessly pursued by hunters–the hounds hot on its trail–panting for water and strength to escape. That describes the writer of this psalm. Maybe it’s how you feel today. Trouble is chasing you and you need help. One of the dangers at this point is to try to find wisdom by drinking from the world’s polluted streams. The Psalmist chooses to seek God–who alone can satisfy the thirst of our soul. There is where hope is found. Each stanza ends with that affirmation (42:5,11; 43:5).

See storms give way to sunshine (Ps.42:6-11). You can be DETERMINED THOUGH DEPRESSED IN TROUBLED TIMES. The psalmist is sinking fast. Troubled times have come–like waves relentlessly breaking over him, threatening to drown him in despair. Yet, he speaks of “Your waterfalls” and “Your waves,” recognizing the sovereignty of God in the storms. God has a purpose (see Rom.8:28). If the problems are permitted then we know He has a higher good in mind. The same sovereign God commands His lovingkindness to come, as the writer cries out for help. God is the Rock he can stand on. A shaft of sunshine–radiant hope–breaks through the clouds. Despite how he feels, he makes a choice, “I will remember” (42:6); “I will say” (42:9); “I will go to the altar…I will praise” (43:4). Where there is a will there is a way.

See strife give way to serenity (43:1-5). You can be DELIVERED THOUGH DISTURBED IN TOUGH TIMES. The sacred writer uses the language of the courtroom to plead his case (v.1). Still, it seemed God was oblivious to his plight (v.2). He knew that only the light of truth could be a beacon to bring him out of the darkness of despair (v.3). In John Bunyan’s, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” Christian is imprisoned in Doubting Castle, held by a giant named Despair, when he escapes by using the key of promise. Such is the power of the Word to free us! The light on his path would lead the way to the house of God, where he would offer sacrifices of delight and songs of deliverance (v.4). There hope is found despite the situation (v.5). The house of God is the place to calibrate your thermostat (read Heb.10:24-25). If you stay away, you may be sure the world will set your temperature, and you will cool off spiritually.

Will you be a thermometer or a thermostat?


Dennis Thurman has pastored churches in Western North Carolina for 36 years. Currently, he is Senior Pastor of Pole Creek Baptist Church where he has served for almost 20 years. Married to Marilyn for 40 years, they have 5 children and 11 grandchildren.

This article was originally posted on Dennis’ blog, Mountain Top Musings

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“Have You Ever Been Excluded By Others Due To Your Stand For Christ?” 5/20/2015 by Pastor Rob Barkman

Our Daily Bread” http://odb.org
The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie http://www.harvest.org/devotional

Written by Pastor Rob Barkman for “Settled In Heaven Ministries” @ http://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/

View original post @ https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/the-revelation-of-jesus-christ-no-man-might-buy-or-sell/

Have You Ever Been Excluded By Others Due To Your Stand For Christ?

SIHs HALTAL ICON RevChristRev 13:17 KJV

(17) And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Those who do not bear the mark of the beast are unable to buy or sell. In other words, those who are the servants of Christ cannot fully participate in the world’s systems, for to do so would mean great compromise in our stand for Christ.

So, because of our stand for our Lord, we are excluded, mistreated, rejected and taken advantage of by this fallen world’s economic, political and religious systems. We can see this taking place all around us, the degree of mistreatment varies based upon each particular situation the Christian is facing.

For some, it may mean simply being mocked or judged falsely; for others it may mean loss of a promotion, or even a job; there are those who may face ostracization from their circle of friends or even their families; or perhaps, losses in the legal, political, or economic systems may take place. For many Christians, especially in foreign lands, they may face physical abuse, torture and even death.

Paul described the types of mistreatment that he faced from the lost world…

1 Cor 4:12-13 KJV – “…being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.”

Some of the types of mistreatment he mentioned include:

  1. Being “reviled” (vilified) 2. Being “persecuted” (hunted down)
  2. Being “defamed” (spoken against) 4. “made as the filth” (garbage, waste)
  3. “made as the … offscouring” (scum).

Wow! Have you ever felt like Paul?

Has the world ever lied about you, and mocked you as they mischaracterized your act of honesty which looked like foolishness and naiveté to them?

Have you ever felt as though the lost world treated you like waste or scum because you choose to abstain from sinful pleasures to remain faithful to Christ?

Do you remember how “small” you felt when you were made fun of at school for carrying a Bible?

What about the feeling you had when your family turned their back on you because you had left their false religion in order to be a follower of Christ?

Our list could go one and on.

Probably, to a certain extent, we have all felt that way at one time or another. We all have been called upon to suffer abuse at the hands of the fallen world. Some of us have been greatly abused, others not so much. But in each and every case, it hurt us within and brought some type of loss into our life.

But if you notice, back in our 1 Corinthians 4: passage, we can see that Paul recognized this abuse was a tremendous opportunity to be faithful to His Lord.


  1. “blessed” (spoke kindly about and to his abusers)
  2. “suffered” (held remained firm through God’s intervention in his life)
  3. “intreated” (he prayed for his abusers and their spiritual needs)

By handling his abuse in this way, he was being faithful to the Lord in four ways…

  1. He was continuously pleasing to the Lord, before, during and after the abuse
  2. He was setting a wonderful example for other believers to follow
  3. He was showing Christ to his abusers through his acts of kindness and love towards them
  4. He was laying up for himself eternal rewards

    May we all follow Paul’s wonderful example of faithfulness in the abusive situations we face.

For an in depth look at these sections of the Revelation:


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“Tangible Proof of the Holy Spirit’s Power” 5/19/2015 by bruce

Our Daily Bread” http://odb.org
The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie http://www.harvest.org/devotional


Tangible Proof of the Holy Spirit’s Power

Revised by bruce from 7/15/2012

John 6:21… Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going. (NKJV)

Notice this immediate transfer of Jesus and His disciples boat from out in the middle of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:24)…to their final destination in Bethsaida (Mark 6:45)…

For all of you that have surely read this opening piece of scripture from the Bible, like I have several times…I am curious as to how many actually took notice that this scripture has a minor miracle, thrown in with one of Jesus’ more memorable miracles. The opening scripture was written by the apostle John…and comes at the very end of Jesus’ walk on water…John 6:15-21

We see the miracle of Jesus walking on water in two other gospels…Matthew 14:22-33…&…Mark 6:45-52… I find it interesting that all three accounts give us a little different perspective on this memorable miracle performed by Jesus. Only Matthew records the fact that Peter jumped out of the boat, and started walking on water when he saw Jesus. And only the apostle John recorded what appears to be a minor miracle, which both Matthew and Mark did not document. This is why (as I have stated before), that we must read all 4 gospels of Christ, to get a complete picture of the life of Jesus.

The point of today’s writing, is to give all of you two things that have helped me personally, get more our of my Bible Q/T (quiet time reading the Word). Several years ago, my son-in-law Scott, was teaching the youth group at my church, where I was sitting in the back of the class as one of the leaders. He suggested to the teens that they say a little prayer before they start to read their Bible…and the Holy Spirit will help them understand what they are reading.

The apostle James teaches us this about spiritual wisdom, in…

James 1:5-6… If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. (NKJV)

God promises all Christian’s that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit, at the time they become a Christian. And the apostle John writes this about the Holy Spirit, in…

John 14:26… But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (NKJV)

Indeed the Holy Spirit will help the Christian understand what they read in the Bible…IF… #1 – They are indeed a Christian to begin with… And #2 – It helps if the Christian is Walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16); and not relying on their own wisdom, without the Holy Spirit’s help.

After the first 3 months or so of my daily writing (up until 6/04/2009), I remember going to the pastor of my church, and asking him if he had any thoughts about what I could write on. You see, I was relying on my own wisdom to look for good topics, because I had taken back control from the Holy Spirit. He was always there with-in me…but He was just sitting back, waiting for me to give Him back control of my life. My peace and my joy that I once had were gone. And so was the help of the Holy Spirit, to illuminate the scripture I was reading.

Immediately…after I humbly prayed to the Lord to take back control of my life on 6/04/2009…my peace and my joy returned with the filling of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-20). And now, with the scripture illuminated by the Holy Spirit, I have a hard time deciding on what to write on, because I have so many ideas noted from my Q/T reading. Just today, for example, in the small chapter 3 of Colossians…I have 11 topics I have noted for possible future writing !!

I now always try to remember to pray before my daily Q/T reading…but I am also doing my best to allow the Holy Spirit to completely control of my life. This one fact alone, of having scripture illuminated by the Holy Spirit, giving me topics to write about…is to me, 100% positive proof in my own life, of how the Holy Spirit can help the Christian who humbly allows Him total charge of their lives. This is the very important lesson for today’s writing.

The Bible is packed with big, life changing treasures God wants us to find…as well as things like this small, obscure miracle I noticed in the opening scripture, the last time I was reading the Book of John, this past April 20th. I just went back and counted 252 topics I have noted to write about, since that day less than 3 months ago !! This is an actual realized benefit in my life…along with the absolute peace and joy I have by Walking in the Spirit, with any sins quickly confessed…

1 John 1:9… If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NKJV)

The Holy Spirit will take a back seat, and let us flounder in life…if we take back control from Him, thinking we know better than God Himself. May God be glorified by the Holy Spirit’s powerful presence in my life, as revealed in today’s writing.

Heavenly Father, I pray that the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit in my life, will be seen and understood by all readers…to give them absolute proof that total control of a Christian’s life by the Holy Spirit will make a big difference in all areas of our lives. I pray Lord that all of Your children would humble themselves, by allowing the Holy Spirit to totally control their lives. I pray for Your richest blessings for all of them; just as the fullness of the Holy Spirit has helped and blessed me…in Jesus’ most precious name and for His sake…Amen…

Blessings in Christ, bruce

P.S. Here is a link for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, after first being drawn in by God…John 6:44… http://godsmanforever.com/2014/10/26/the-truth-about-sin-10262014-by-bruce-reposted-from-7112013/

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“Are You Doing Discipleship Correctly?” 5/18/2015 by Pastor Matthew Fretwell

Our Daily Bread” http://odb.org
The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie http://www.harvest.org/devotional


Written by Matthew Fretwell for Servants of Grace

Original post @ http://mensdailylife.me/2015/05/18/are-you-doing-discipleship-correctly/

Are You Doing Discipleship Correctly?

May 18, 2015 / mattj31

By Matthew Fretwell

When I was in seminary, I was all about academia, theology, and the Word of God; admittedly, three of my favorite things, still. But when asking the pastor about having a discipleship class, he looked at me and said, “I don’t think you understand what discipleship means.” He was right; I was clueless.

Let me rewind. During this period of my life, I was of the mindset that a Bible study or some type of class was discipleship (as I stated)—that if I studied under someone, that they could teach me to be more like Jesus. Unfortunately, that is just not true; only the Holy Spirit can transform someone. Likewise, Jesus never pulled out the scroll of Jeremiah or the Torah and parsed the meanings of words to His disciples. From the beginning, discipleship looks more like on-the-job training than any classroom that I have ever seen. So, what happened for me was a transformation in understanding what discipleship was, and what it was not.

What It Was Not

I’m in the process of co-authoring another book and it happens that discipleship is a chapter focus, so this is a researched topic for me. I believe it’s something drastically missed within evangelicalism and a spiritual discipline so misunderstood. I believe the ecclesiastical church, as a whole, has mistaken discipleship for catechism, since the time of Constantine. Once the attractional method of the missio Dei came into play, the church seemed to disregard the day-to-day discipleship, which was the evident DNA within a scattered and persecuted church. Nothing can compare to discipleship inside the trenches. And so it seems that complacency is not good for true spiritual edification.

If we look at discipleship from the beginning, we take note that not only did Jesus present His disciples with new paradigms of thinking, but He also offered them visualizations of what He taught. For instance, when the disciples were discussing who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus provided an answer by taking a small child, placing him on His lap, and then discussing the attributes of a child (Matt 18:1-6). He didn’t sit them down and exegete Isaiah. Jesus gave visual and tactile teaching (seeing and touching) about something that was evident. We are people who indeed learn better by example. Everyone has been a child, so the disciples knew how children think, and act—their innocence, so to speak. So, from the beginning, discipleship was not about attending a lecture, while lectures may have been a miniscule aspect of discipleship, it was much, much more.

What It Was

Discipleship had a lot to do with contextualization and walking with a person in the everyday framework of life. Jesus, from the beginning of His earthly ministry, walked, ate, and slept with His disciples. He knew them and they experienced His relationship with the Father—a three-year process. They witnessed as He went to pray alone with the Father, heard how He openly spoke with the Father, and what He declared about the Father. The disciples witnessed how Jesus handled criticism, fraud, neglect, discernment, love, empathy, compassion, and even more importantly, the aspects of humanity: money, housing, hunger, sickness, and death. I don’t think we disciple people anymore, I think we speak at them.

I recently heard a good friend, Peyton Jones; say that a disciple must accept permission to be mentored because there is an air of superiority (albeit in Christ-like humility) within true discipleship. The one being mentored must resign to the understanding that the mentor has experienced and knows the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, intimately. The disciples were able to disciple others because they walked, talked, slept, and broke bread with Christ—they all had an intimate knowledge of the Son, and upon receiving the Holy Spirit, power from and understanding of the Father.

This means that discipleship from the beginning was neither birthed nor matured in a classroom, but in life. As well, there is no accountability from a classroom. I can’t possibly become intimate with ten to twenty people in the same forty-five to sixty minute group discussion, no matter how deep I care to go. Allow me to validate, I had a younger man approach me and ask to be discipled. I asked if he understood what he was asking. He looked as confused as I had when I approached my pastor some years ago. I knew he didn’t, so I began to explain that discipleship was about the missio Dei intersecting the gospel of life. This meant, I emphasized, “That we will have coffee with each other, lunch, go fishing, and everything in between. I want to know your fears, anxieties, depressed thoughts, and struggles.” I knew that he was searching for a Bible study, but the Bible comes to life through our daily grind. This doesn’t mean that Bible studies are bad; to the contrary, they are much needed and should be a part of every believer’s discipline, much like prayer.

Discipleship From The Beginning

When Jesus elected His disciples, calling them out of the world, He stated, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19 ESV). This means that the mentor has a responsibility, a great one. He must be prepared, as the disciple is to follow, to pour out his knowledge, time, and emotions. But a person cannot be a mentor, who has never been mentored, for he will never understand the mentor-disciple relationship. It is a deep interpersonal aspect of brotherhood, or sisterhood, for the believer. Discipleship goes beyond the spiritual, even though the spiritual is interwoven into everything; it goes beyond the natural, even though the natural is interwoven into everything. Discipleship is Trinitarian; it’s the incarnated flesh and Holy Spirit of God that comes to dwell with man. Discipleship is a slow transformation from perceiving worldly to a renewed thinking and reacting in godliness (Rom 12:2). Discipleship from the beginning is a new creative process of the Holy Spirit, a sanctification of the flesh, mind, and heart. Discipleship is about people walking with people, to be more like Christ.


Matthew Fretwell is married, has three daughters, loves Jesus, being a dad, people, and coffee. Besides being an author (Denied Desires; Identity Theft, Sanctificagious, 30:1 Manhood), he’s pastor of a 112 year old revitalized church planting church (Oak Hall Baptist) in Sandston, Virginia, and is the founder of Job 31 Ministries. Matt’s an advocate board member of Living Bread Ministries, a global comprehensive Church Planting organization and a catalyst with Planting RVA. He also writes for Church Planter Magazine.

Twitter: @w84harpazo or Facebook

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“This Is How They Know” 5/17/2015 by Wally Fry for “Truth in Palmyra”

“Our Daily Bread” http://odb.org
The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie http://www.harvest.org/devotional

Daily Devotion-May 14, 2015-This Is How They Know

Posted on May 14, 2015 by Wally Fry @ https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com

Original post @ https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/daily-devotion-november-7-2014-this-is-how-they-know-2/

John 13:35

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.


In this simple verse, Jesus gave the world the authority to evaluate the quality of our Christianity by how we, as believers, love one another. He didn’t say they would know we are Christians if we go to church, read our Bibles, not drink beer or cuss or anything else. Jesus said the world would know we are His if we love each other.

The world cannot know that we love each other unless we show the world that love. As we have previously discussed, love has to become an action and an act of the will much more than just a feeling. People cannot see our feelings; they can only see the evidence of our feelings, whether bad or good.

What do people see when they come to our church? Do they see a group of people who rejoice in the opportunity to be with one another worshiping God? Or do they see a bunch of sullen people glued to pews? Are they themselves welcomed as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (unless we find out otherwise, and that’s another love topic), or do we ignore them at best or make them feel like intruders at worst?

What do people hear when they hear about our church? Do people report it as a place known for love and getting along? Or are we the church that always has some drama going on? What do we ourselves say about our church and the people in it? Are we kind and supportive of them in public or are we running around stabbing them in the back?

Are we ourselves showing every person we encounter the kind of love we are supposed to show to a brother or sister in Christ? We can’t go wrong treating everyone that way, really. Even if they aren’t, that might be the beginning of them becoming one.

Love is the key. We already know that everything God expects of us as believers flows from love. First from our love for Him, then our love for each other. And love is how we show the world who we are. Just ask Jesus.

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“THE GREAT PURSUIT” 5/16/2015 by Pastor Dennis for www.mountain-top-musings.blogspot.com

Our Daily Bread” http://odb.org
The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie http://www.harvest.org/devotional


Written by Pastor Dennis Thurman for http://www.mountain-top-musings.blogspot.com

Original post @ http://mountain-top-musings.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-great-pursuit.html

(Written about James 4:8-12)


Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8a)

“Why do some persons ‘find’ God in a way that others do not? Why does God manifest His Presence to some and let multitudes of others struggle along in the half-light of imperfect Christian experience? Of course the will of God is the same for all. He has no favorites within His household. All He has ever done for any of His children He will do for all of His children. The difference lies not with God but with us.” That’s what A.W. Tozer said in his classic book, “The Pursuit of God.” We have as much of God as we desire. James tells us that in chapter four of his letter. This is the great pursuit, and four things are required to “find” God fully.

The first requirement is COMMITMENT (v.8a). God wants us and woos us, but we must respond to His love. There must be a commitment that we want Him. I heard a story of an old couple driving the beat up pickup truck down a dusty country road. Old Eb is behind the wheel, and his wife is scooted over to the passenger side window, wistfully looking out at the cornfields. She says, “Eb, remember how we used to sit so close? How we would ride down the road right against each other?” To that Eb simply replied, “I ain’t moved.” God hasn’t moved. We are the ones who need to scoot back over!

The second requirement is CLEANSING (v.8b). Has there been a time you were in your dirty work clothes and had to make a run to the store? You hoped no one you knew would see you—or smell you. Sin is a barrier to intimacy with a Holy God. Adam and Eve enjoyed walking with God in the garden, until sin came, and then they ran and hid. Thankfully, God made provision for their forgiveness. We can be cleansed. That’s why Jesus came. We must confess that we are soiled and the barrier will be broken.

The third requirement is CONTRITION (v.9-10). Sin is not only an activity—where we do the wrong deeds—but, it is an attitude—when we have the wrong disposition. If I do not take sin seriously, then I show I do not take God seriously. If I do not humbly repent of my pride, then access to God’s gracious presence will be denied. My heart needs to be broken by what breaks the heart of God. It has been the eyes are the windows of the soul. If that is true, then the windows need washing with tears of contrition. Then we can see God clearly, and the light of His love will flow in unobstructed.

The fourth requirement is CONTROL (v.11-12). James has much to say about the tongue and the need to control what we say. He returns to that theme here. When I speak wickedly about someone else in a judgmental way, I am inviting God to judge me accordingly. When we visit the doctor, one of the first things he does is ask you to open your mouth and stick out your tongue. He can assess much about the state of your health by looking in your mouth. That is true concerning our spiritual health as well.

Let us not accept a cheap substitute for God by pursuing the things of this world—that is idolatry. May we give ourselves fully to the great pursuit of the true and living God!

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