TRAIN OF THOUGHT

by Christine Caine

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

You may have heard the phrase “train of thought.” It certainly is a very descriptive and accurate metaphor for describing the way our minds work. Our thoughts are just like a train; they always take us somewhere. If we want to change our destination, regardless of what area of life we’re talking about, we have to change the thought trains we board.

Often, we don’t realize that we have the ability to make a choice about what we think. But clearly we do, as we are exhorted to set our mind on things above and not on earthly things (see Col. 3:2). This doesn’t mean that negative thoughts won’t enter our minds—if that were the case, there would be no need to consciously choose to set our minds on the thoughts of God.

While I was learning to renew my mind, I discovered that many of the trains of thought I had at that time about God, the people around me, myself and my destiny were completely contrary to what God thinks. They were built on my experience rather than the truth of God’s Word. I knew that I had to make a change: I had to consciously choose what thoughts I would allow to pull into the platform of my mind.

Armed with this knowledge and a firm commitment to exercise my mind muscle, I was ready to go to work. Each time a train of thought that was contrary to the Word of God pulled into the platform of my mind, I would choose not to get on board. Instead, I would purposefully board trains of thought that would take me to the right destination.

This is why it’s so important to read and meditate on the Word of God. If we don’t know what thoughts are contrary to his, how will we ever know what trains to avoid? As I continued to renew my mind on a day-to-day basis (and often on a moment-by-moment basis), I began to notice a change. I started to see this mind shift begin to affect my external behavior and responses.

During this long and often arduous process of renewing our minds, it’s vital that we fight off the feelings of frustration that will inevitably come our way. If we don’t give up, in time we will experience the fruit of this process in our lives.

Point to Ponder

Are you ready to start responding to the circumstances of your life with the strength, faith, and confidence of Christ? Then it’s time to become rooted in God’s Word. When you have the mind of Jesus, you will naturally act like him, too

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

SIMPLE TRUTHS

By Christine Caine
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. – Jeremiah 17:7–8

So often we tend to overlook the simple truths of life and forget that the profound is usually revealed in the simple. For example, we can act out what we are not (at least for a little while), but this will not produce long-term fruit in our lives. In other words, an apple can only reproduce apples, because that’s what it is at its core. Similarly, if we have an issue with anger, then no matter how kind and demure we try to act, eventually a challenging situation will arise and we’ll blow! As long as that anger goes unchecked and unhealed in our souls, we will continue to produce the fruit of anger. The same holds true for fear, jealousy, depression, low self-esteem, and so much more.

Many of us miss out on the abundant life that Jesus has for us because we haven’t taken an honest look at our spiritual core and recognized that our souls need some work. Forced to examine the fruit of my own life, I realized that I lacked any real deep joy and was only happy when things were going my way. Instead of having any peace, I was constantly striving for perfection and approval. I only had one speed, and that was supercharged. I don’t think I even knew how to spell the word “patience.” I wanted everything yesterday.

Regardless of how strong and whole we think we are, we must remember we’re all on the journey to Christlikeness and Christian maturity. This maturity is reflected in the alignment of our inner and outer worlds. But the road to maturity is always a process. As we choose to allow God to enlarge, stretch, and strengthen our soul muscles, we will be able to fulfill a second facet of the Great Commandment: loving God with all our soul. And as our core begins to change, the spiritual fruit will become the mark that defines us as followers of Christ. This outflow of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control won’t be temporary or shallow, because true and lasting transformation has taken place.

That’s the beauty of a soul restored, renewed, and ultimately reborn: When our inner and outer worlds flow from the grace of Christ, we won’t have to strive to act like a Christian, because we will simply be one.

Point to Ponder

Is your soul safely anchored in the Spirit of God? Does precious strength and nourishment flow to you from him? When your inner life and your outer life prosper as one, you will know that your soul has been restored.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

THE INCOMPREHENSIBILITY OF GOD

By R. C. Sproul
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. – Deuteronomy 29:29

The Swiss theologian Karl Barth was asked by a student during a seminar in the United States, “Dr. Barth, what is the most profound thing you have ever learned in your study of theology?” Barth thought for a moment and then replied, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” The students giggled at his simplistic answer, but their laughter was of a nervous sort as they slowly realized Barth was serious.

Barth gave a simple answer to a question of profundity. In doing so he was calling attention to at least two vitally important notions: (1) That in the simplest Christian truth there resides a profundity that can occupy the minds of the most brilliant people for a lifetime. (2) That even in learned theological sophistication, we never really rise above a child’s level of understanding the mysterious depths and riches of the character of God.

John Calvin used another analogy. He said that God speaks to us in a kind of lisping. As parents engage in “baby talk” when addressing their infant children, so God, in order to communicate with us lowly mortals, must condescend to speak to us in lisps.

No human being has the ability to understand God exhaustively. There is a built-in barrier that prohibits a total, comprehensive understanding of God. We are finite creatures; God is an infinite being. Therein lies our problem. How shall the finite comprehend the infinite? Medieval theologians had a phrase that has become a dominant axiom for all subsequent study of theology, “The finite cannot grasp (or contain) the infinite.” Nothing is more obvious than that an infinite object cannot be squeezed into a finite space.

This axiom conveys one of the most important doctrines of orthodox Christianity. It is the doctrine of the incomprehensibility of God. The term can be misleading. It may suggest to us that since the finite cannot “grasp” the infinite, that we can know nothing about God. If God is beyond human comprehension, does that not suggest that all of our religious talk is only so much theological babbling and that we are left with, at best, an altar to an unknown God?

This is by no means the intent. The incomprehensibility of God does not mean that we know nothing about God. Rather, it means that our knowledge is partial and limited, falling short of a total or comprehensive knowledge. The knowledge that God gives of Himself through revelation is both real and useful. We can know God to the degree that He chooses to reveal Himself. The finite can “grasp” the infinite, but the finite can never hold the infinite within its grasp. There is always more to God than we apprehend.

The Bible says it this way: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Martin Luther referred to two aspects of God—the hidden and the revealed. A portion of the divine knowledge remains hidden to our gaze. We work in the light of what God has revealed.

1. There is profound meaning in even the simplest of Christian truths.

  1. No matter how deep our knowledge of theology, there will always be much about the nature and character of God that will remain a mystery to us.
  2. No human being can have a comprehensive knowledge of God.
  3. The doctrine of the incomprehensibility of God does not mean that we can know nothing about God. It means that our knowledge is limited, bounded by our humanity.

    Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

PROVIDENCE

By R. C. Sproul

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. – Genesis 5:20

In Rhode Island there is a major city named Providence. There is something extraordinary about its name. The name of the city calls attention to the wide gap in thinking that exists between former generations and our present society. Who would name a city “Providence” today? The word itself sounds old-fashioned and archaic.

When I read the writings of Christians from earlier centuries I am struck by the multitude of references to God’s providence. It seems as though prior to the twentieth century, Christians were more keenly in tune with the providence of God in their lives than we are. The spirit of naturalism that views all events in nature to be ruled by independent natural forces has made its impact on our generation.

The root meaning of the word providence is “to see in advance or beforehand,” or “to provide for.” As such, the word fails to convey the deep meaning of the doctrine of providence. The doctrine signifies far more than that God is a spectator of human events. It contains far more than a mere reference to His foreknowledge.

The Westminster divines in the seventeenth century defined providence in this manner:

God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct, dispose and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.

What God creates, He also sustains. The universe is not only dependent upon God for its origin, it depends upon God for its continuity of existence. The universe can neither exist nor operate by its own power. God upholds all things by His power. It is in Him that we live, and move, and have our being.

The central point of the doctrine of providence is the stress on God’s government of the universe. He rules His creation with absolute sovereignty and authority. He governs everything that comes to pass, from the greatest to the least. Nothing ever happens beyond the scope of His sovereign providential government. He makes the rain to fall and the sun to shine. He raises up kingdoms and brings them down. He numbers the hairs on our head and the days of our life.

There is a crucial difference between the providence of God and fortune, fate, or luck. The key to this difference is found in the personal character of God. Fortune is blind while God is all-seeing. Fate is impersonal while God is a Father. Luck is dumb while God can speak. There are no blind, impersonal forces at work in human history. All is brought to pass by the invisible hand of Providence.

In a universe governed by God there are no chance events. Indeed, there is no such thing as chance. Chance does not exist. It is merely a word we use to describe mathematical possibilities. But chance itself has no power because it has no being. Chance is not an entity that can influence reality. Chance is not a thing. It is nothing.

Another aspect of providence is called concurrence. Concurrence refers to the coterminous actions of God and human beings. We are creatures with a will of our own. We make things happen. Yet the causal power we exert is secondary. God’s sovereign providence stands over and above our actions. He works out His will through the actions of human wills, without violating the freedom of those human wills. The clearest example of concurrence that we find in Scripture is in the case of Joseph and his brothers. Though Joseph’s brothers incurred true guilt through their treachery against him, the providence of God was working even through their sin. Joseph said to his brothers, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).

God’s redemptive providence can work through the most diabolical actions. The worst offense ever committed by a human being was the betrayal of Christ by Judas. Yet the death of Christ was no accident of history. It was according to the determinate counsel of God. Judas’s act of wickedness helped to bring about the best thing that ever happened in history, the Atonement. It is not fortuitous that we refer to that day in history as “Good” Friday.

1. The concept of divine providence is not generally believed in our day.

  1. Providence includes God’s work of sustaining His creation.
  2. Providence refers chiefly to God’s government of creation.
  3. In light of divine providence there are no impersonal forces such as fortune, fate, or chance.
  4. Providence includes concurrence by which God works His divine will through the wills of His creatures.

    Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

ADOPTED

By Christine Caine

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. – Psalms 139:13–16

Some years ago, my mum disclosed that my brother and I were adopted. At first, I was shaken, But I wasn’t shaken loose. Even as the underpinnings of my world were shifting radically, they were resettling in a more secure place. The truth of God’s love was holding me together.

I knew God loved me, unquestionably, unconditionally, whether I was adopted or not. His love is relentless, unyielding, passionate, unfailing, perfect. A feeling of peace, supernatural peace, engulfed me. Everything was going to be okay. That may seem like an odd conclusion, in light of the fact that my life, or at least everything I’d thought I knew about my life, was unraveling before my eyes. Nevertheless, I felt undaunted because of an unchanging, never-failing truth: God was in control of my life.

For more than a decade, I’d immersed myself daily in God’s Word. I had memorized countless verses about God’s love for me. I desperately needed his love, and when I read how he loved me, I soaked it up. I meditated upon those words, pondered and prayed over them. I found life in them. The words contained promises that excited me. Now those promises were holding me.

The truth you store up in silence comes back to you in the storm and lifts you away as on a life raft from the fears and disappointments that would otherwise pull you under. When you abide in his Word, he abides in you.

God knew me and loved me before I was even me. He knew me before I was born, and throughout my adoption, and he knew me even now that I wasn’t sure who I was anymore. He loved me despite any trouble I found myself in or challenges I faced. I could mess up or melt down and he would love me still. I could be ashamed of where I came from or try to hide who I was, and God would still love me, knowing me better than I knew myself. He loved me so much that he would always have my back in any challenge or distress, and he would go before me through anything unknown.

Yes, I thought. I’m not who I thought I was. I am so much more. I am loved by God, the maker of the universe, the maker of me, and I was loved by him before I was born and will be after I die.

Point to Ponder

Life is full of surprises. Can you trust God to go with you through any unknown circumstance or situation? Are you convinced that he has always loved you and he loves you now? Once you know who you are in him, you might be temporarily shaken but never forsaken.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

CHALLENGES ARE GOOD


By Rick Warren, DMin; Daniel Amen, MD; & Mark Hyman, MD

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Psalm 37:23−24 (NLT)

God promises that he will fit everything—even your setbacks, relapses, and failures—into his plan and purpose for your life. God loves to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones and crucifixions into resurrections.

God shows you how to change through the truth in the Bible; then his Spirit within you gives you the power to change. God will also use circumstances to get your attention. God loves you whatever way you are, but he loves you too much to let you stay that way. So he will use whatever it takes to help you grow to spiritual maturity.

—The Daniel Plan Team

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, Q

A SIGN OF SPIRITUAL ENTROPY


By John Ortberg

If you want to see a key sign of spiritual entropy, just look at Gideon.

“When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.” – Judges 6: 12-16 (NIV)

Gideon’s eyes were only on himself.  When God called him to a great task, all he could see was his own inadequacies and weaknesses. He could not see God’s power that was available to him.  Like Gideon, we also tend to look at ourselves and wonder if we have what it takes to accomplish God’s purposes.

When we face challenges in life and when God calls us to difficult tasks, we need to look to God as our source of power and confidence. Unfortunately, we often limit what God can do through us because we look at our abilities and resources and not God’s.

Here are some of the questions we tend to ask ourselves:

Do I have the strength and power to accomplish this?
Do I have enough money in the budget?
Can I manage it?
Can I handle it?
Can I do it?

These questions are not inherently bad, but if we are not careful, our answers to these questions can cause a lack of faith and lead to spiritual entropy. When we only look at our abilities, resources, and strength, we will never have the confidence to move forward and take big risks for God. If we operate with this mentality, we will never truly walk in faith. This mind-set has two pitfalls: (1) it will lead us to look at ourselves as the source of strength to accomplish God’s calling; (2) it shows a lack of faith that God can accomplish far more than we ever could.

“Whatever God can do, faith can do; and whatever faith can do, prayer can do when it is offered in faith. An invitation to prayer is, therefore, an invitation to omnipotence, for prayer engages the omnipotent God and brings him into our human affairs. Nothing is impossible to the Christian who prays in faith, just as nothing is impossible with God. This generation is yet to prove all that prayer can do for believing men and women.”  A. W. Tozer

Like Gideon, we also tend to look at ourselves and wonder if we have what it takes to accomplish God’s purposes. When followers of Christ look at themselves, what are some of the common excuses they come up with for why they can’t serve God? How do you react to life’s challenges, is your focus “in my power first, and then God if that doesn’t work”? What differences would your life show if you truly relied on God and not on “me”?

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC