December 17

Today's Bible Reading
     II Chronicles19-20
     Revelation 8
     Zachariah 4
     John 7
            ''Jesus answered them and said, ''My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority."  (John 7:16-17)
            Many people believe that it is knowing what the Bible teaches that makes them mature in the Lord, but they arewrong. The golden rule teaches that what we expect in the Christian life is conditional. To obtain spiritualunderstanding andto become mature is not one of intellectual pursuit, but one of obedience. The person who wants scientific knowledge willdiscover that intellectual curiosity must be his guide. But if he desires knowledge and insight into the teachings of JesusChrist, he can only obtain it through obedience.
            If spiritual things seem hidden to me, then I can be sure that there is a point of disobedience somewhere in my life. Intellectual darkness is a result of ignorance, but spiritual darkness is the result of something that I do not intend to obey.
            Anytime that God gives you a word, He will give you a test regarding it. You can count on it. If you disobey, youwill not be growing spiritually. Remember, Jesus said, ''Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember thatyour brother has something against you, leave your gift there before thealtar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother,and then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24) Jesus is saying, in essence, ''don't say another word to Me.First be obedient by making things right." The teachings of Jesus hit us where we live. We cannot stand as impostors beforeHim for even one second. He instructs us down to the very last detail. The Spirit of God uncovers our spirit of self-vindicationand makes us sensitive to things we have never thought ofbefore.
            Don't try to avoid it when Jesus drives something home to you through His Word. If you do, you will become areligious imposter. Examine the things you tend to simply to shrug your shoulders about, and where you refuse to be obedient,and you will know why you are not growing spiritually. As Jesus said, ''First . . .go. . ." Even at the risk of being thought of as a fanatic, you must obey what God tells you to do.
            Even when it requires sharing Him with others with boldness, you must be obedient to Him. Whatever Hesays to you, do it.  It is through that obedience that you will grow in the Christian life and experience spiritual maturity.
As you pray today, pray for a group that resides and works in the U. S. I am referring to Spanish migrant laborers who work all over theU.S. wherever they are needed to pick fruit, vegetables, or whatever the job. The numbers are unknown,but may be as many as 6-8 million (many are illegal). There are many opportunities for them to hear the Gospel. Pray forevangelistic and church planting workin Spanish,and for those organizations thatare seeking to reach the Latinos who arenow part of the American culture. It is especially important for the church to show compassion and evangelistic concern in the midst of the immigration controversy.
The world is blessed most by men who do things, and not by those who merely talk about them."
James Oliver