•  2024 21 Overcoming Spiritual Dryness in our Daily
    Life with God. I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called
    “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 26th
    of May: 2024. May 26: Overcoming Spiritual Dryness In Our Daily Life With God Last night a high-energy buddy of mine who lives on aeroplanes and thrives on the high voltage culture of the corporate world confided in me of his long-standing sense of spiritual dryness.
    Following are a few simple suggestions I made to him for overcoming dry Quiet Times:
    In approaching God, it is important to slow down, relax, and give him adequate timeto break through to the core of our encrusted, pressurised souls. God simply will not be rushed!
    In our time with God, be sure our focus is not primarily on gleaning truth from the Scriptures, but on experiencing intimacy and fellowship with Jesus. Christ cautioned the
    Pharisees:
    John 5:39–40 (NIV 2011) 39
    You study the Scriptures diligently because you think
    that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
    Prayerful meditation over a relatively small portion of Scripture usually proves more
    meaningful than attempting to cover a larger portion. Scheduled readings can have a
    stultifying effect on us.
    Keep in mind that meditation involves visualisation and application.
    In focusing on Psalm 23:1, for example, our prayerful meditation might go something like this:
    “THE LORD is my SHEPHERD, I shall not be in WANT”
    O God, I pray that you are THE Shepherd of my lifeI belong to you alone.
    O Father, I surrender to your LORD ship: My finances, careereverything.
    Lord, because you are my SHEPHERD, I know I shall never be in WANT.
    Strike a balance between intercession and worship. While petition is important, we
    need also to understand that (1) God seeks our worship, and (2) worship touches at the core
    of our need for intimate communion with him. Using worshipful music tapes and a hymnal can prove helpful.
    John 4:24 (NIV 2011) 24 God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and intruth.’”
    Keep in mind that Christ went to the Cross so that we could enjoy intimacy with him:
    1 Corinthians 1:9 (NIV 2011) “What a shame it would be to miss a life of intimacy with our Saviour this side of eternity!
    1

    Blessings,
    Tony Hodge-Williams
    Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 200

2024 20 Principle or Expediency?

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 19th of May: 2024. May 19: Principle Or Expediency?

Which do you choose when your survival is at stake: Principle or Expediency?

Expediency … of course! Isn’t survival the name of the game? Few of us, after all, have the “gift” of martyrdom!

Only a fool would die for a principle … Unless they had grasped the fact that a holy God will ultimately hold them accountable for their actions:

Ecclesiastes 11:9 (NIV 2011) “You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.”

The other evening my wife and I were interacting with a couple whose business is in a free fall. As we discussed options to rescue their company, it became apparent that without batting an eye they had already chosen a path for survival that was in clear violation of Biblical values.

Patently, they had opted for EXPEDIENCY OVER PRINCIPLE.

In reflecting on this couple’s unwillingness to trust God in a time of crisis, I was reminded of Christ’s question:

Luke 18:8 (NIV 2011) “I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’”

I wonder.

Because, when push comes to shove, only a man with a deep abiding faith in God and His promises would even consider choosing PRINCIPLE OVER EXPEDIENCY.

Daniel was one such man, as he chose to live a biblically principled life amidst unprincipled, hostile pagans. Often his decisions were made at great personal risk:

Daniel 6:4 (NIV 2011) “At this, the chief ministers and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.”

Like Daniel, we are confronted daily with choices between PRINCIPLE OR EXPEDIENCY.

How we choose will be determined by whom we trust and fear the most:

God or humanity.[1]

Blessings,
            Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

2024 19 Greed, Rationalisation and Compromise
I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called
“Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 12
th of May: 2024. May 12: Greed … Rationalisation …Compromise Recently, in the course of counselling a young businessman, I was asked if I thought insider trading
67 was wrong. Is it against company policyI inquired? Yes, he replied. Is it against the laws of the land,” I queried? “Yes,” came his response. After an awkward pause I asked, “Joe, why then, are you asking me this question?Silence. In frustration I then directed him to look at Job 27:3–6 (NIV 2011) 3 as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, 4my lips will not say anything wicked,
and my tongue will not utter lies. 5 I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. 6 I will maintain my innocence and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.”
As we read this passage from his Bible, I noticed that he already had it circled and underlined.
Had he not previously pondered and perhaps even wrestled with the truth of this passage, I wondered? How is it that he could consider these profound teachings and still
ask whetherinsider tradingis wrong?
The answer lies in the fact that many believers who are committed to, and immersed in, the cutthroat climate of the business environment have developed an amazing ability to
rationalise and sidestep the Bible’s high standard of integrity. They are able to do this simply by living in the two worlds of the spiritual and the secular as did the Old Testament Jews. We read in 2 Kings 17:41 (NIV 2011) 41
Even while these people were worshipping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.”
And by so doing, they make Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde look like a novice.
At the heart of the problem lies our stubborn refusal to allow Christ to be the Lord of our work because we fear that if we abandon ourselves to a Biblical ethic, either:
(1) Our business will collapse under the competition, or
(2) God won’t provide for us at the standard to which we have become accustomed.
The first fear centres on a carnal lack of faith, and the second on greed. Both are sin.1
Blessings,
Tony Hodge-Williams
767
Using sensitive information acquired by virtue of your position for personal gain.
1
Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000)
2024 17 When you are Maxed Out
I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 28th of April: 2024.
April 28: When You Are Maxed Out
You know you are maxed out when you: 55
1. Can’t Relax
If this is true, then guard your family time against all but life-and-death interruptions.
2. Can’t Say No
Are you responding to the urgent rather than the important? Are the “squeaky wheels”
deterring you from investing in people who will count for the future? Count for the Kingdom?
3. Can’t Take A Day Off
When you find it difficult to take at least a day off a week, could it be that you are need-driven rather than God driven?
4. Find Little Joy In Family Life
If you are emotionally absent from the family, you can be sure that it will prove destructive in terms of unsatisfying family relationships. Your spouse will be critical about
your work, feeling you are not giving quality (and quantity) time and attention.
5. Think It’s All Up To You Here, you are taking on your shoulders that which is God’s responsibility. A friend of
mine with an “A” type personality used to say that periodically he had to resign as“Chancellor of the Universe”. Do you need to do the same?
6. Find It Hard To Let Your Hair Down
We all need relationships where we can let our hair down. Perhaps this means being vulnerable. Sometimes it simply means just having fun. Beware of believing the lie that says time spent in fun is wasted time.
7. Can’t Take Time for a Holiday
Extended holidays are a must, along with occasional briefer times away. If your work or ministry-load prohibits such breaks, then you are failing to delegate as much as you should.
Keep in mind that Your enemy the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:7)1 555 Adapted from The Hidden Dangers of Stress Overload by Bob Mumford. Ministries Today, Mar/April 1995
1
Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000)

2024 16 You can Groan but you can’t Grumble

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 21st of April: 2024.April 21: You Can Groan, But You Can’t GrumbleThe pilgrimage from here to eternity was never intended to be easy.So naturally, we are inclined to grumble about our circumstances! Perhaps our grumbling is related to the fact that we are confused about the sequence of events: Rewards occur after we get to heaven! The present however, is the time for character training in preparation for eternity.The comforting news is that amidst this time of testing and development, we have been given the enabling presence of the Holy Spirit:Romans 8:23 (NIV 2011) “23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.”And so … understandably, we groan.But grumble? That is quite another matter!When we grumble, we signify a basic discontent with our lot in life, and a challenge to God’s sovereign purposes. In effect we are saying that God has unfairly violated our rights by allowing us to experience difficult circumstances. We feel we deserve better than this!In their trek across the desert en route to the Promised Land, the Jews responded similarly to adversity:They grumbled.From their perspective, there was never enough water and comfort, and the food was of the wrong variety! They felt they deserved better than this!Citing their example, Paul admonishes us: 1 Corinthians 10:5–10 (NIV 2011) “5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.’ 8We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.”QUESTION: Amidst the trials of your life, are you groaning or grumbling? How you answer that question reflects whether or not you understand and accept the fact that this earthly sojourn is God’s time and means of making you Christlike in preparation for eternity. Romans 8:28–30 (NIV 2011) “28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

11 Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000)

2024 14 Successful or Signifcant?
I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called
“Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 7 th of April: 2024.
April 7: Successful Or Significant?
That is the question we must ask of ourselves.
Is it possible we could be leading highly successful lives that are relatively insignificant?
Why is it that so many of us wake up in mid-life with a pit in our stomach, feeling we lack meaning, value or purpose?
Perhaps it is because in our drive for “success” we have highlighted the temporal at the expense of that which is truly significant: The eternal.
“Success” in life, as we are inclined to define it, usually relates to secular achievement in a manner that garners the approval or admiration of our fellow people.
Jesus cautioned us however:
Luke 16:15b (NIV 2011) “What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.”
Matthew 16:26 (NIV 2011) “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
“Significance” in life as God views it, is related to focusing primarily on the eternal:
The glory of God and the Kingdom of God.
The night before the cross, Jesus prayed to the Father: John 17:4 (NIV 2011) “I have
brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.”
That is, he had succeeded in building Kingdom values into the lives of the 11 disciples. From God’s perspective, our lives are lived in a significant manner when we emulate Jesus’ example:
He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us …” (2 Corinthians 5:19b, 20a)
IS MY LIFE SUCCESSFUL OR SIGNIFICANT?
The answer lies in whether I place my primary focus on the temporal or the eternal …On whether I view my work fundamentally as an opportunity to enhance the Kingdom of
God, or principally as an opportunity to further my personal goals?
The choice, of course, is ours.
1
Blessings
Tony Hodge-Williams
1
Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000

2024 13 On Firing Greatness in Others..

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 31st of March: 2024.March 31: On Firing Greatness In Others All of us have known or observed those rare individuals who seem to be able to take what is average and forge it into greatness:• A disinterested student• A failing company• A discouraged athlete Look into the eyes of the person on the street and more often than not you will see disappointment. Unfulfilled aspirations. People who have settled into second best. In all probability, whatever dreams they once had have failed to translate into reality.Oh, there are the exceptions to be sure. But what you don’t often see in people’s eyes is that spark … that sense of anticipation … HOPE.I have a question for we who have tasted of the richness of Christ and have come to understand the greatest challenge ever meted out to mankind—that of going and making disciples of every nation:“Must we too be consigned to that same category of dashed dreams, disappointment, and run-of-the-mill subsistence?” I would like to believe the answer is a resounding “No!” Listen to Robert K. Greenleaf: “Servant leaders are healers in the sense of making whole by helping others to a larger and nobler vision and purpose than they would be likely to attain for themselves.”The prophet Isaiah gave us the secret to fulfilled dreams and hope in writing, “If you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday and the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desires … and you shall be like a watered garden …” (Isaiah 58:10, 11)Back to Mr. Greenleaf: Those servant leaders who are great for God understand what it means to take that “average” person and serve them in Jesus’ name. They know what it means to bring healing to them by helping them “to a larger and nobler vision and purpose than he or she would be likely to attain for themselves.”That is, the servant leader knows the importance of believing in them, investing their life in them, and pouring out their soul for them. They understand what it means to take them to the top of the mountain and help them gain a vision of what they can become for God … To fire in their soul a passion for greatness that is characterised by a life of sacrificial service to others.
And in so doing, the servant leader themselves will also be lifted out of the quagmire of self-absorption and despair to become a watered garden from which others may freely drink1

BlessingsTony Hodge-Williams

2024 12 God helps those in Desperation!
I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called
“Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 24
th
of March: 2024.
March 24: God Helps The People Who Are In Desperate Need
42
A sinking ship: “Master, we are perishing!
A naked maniac: “And seeing Jesus, he cried out with a loud voice …”
A dying daughter: The father “fell at Jesusfeet and began to entreat Him …”
A bleeding woman: She came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak
…”
All helpless—and in grave need of the Master’s touch.
Man’s extremity becomes God’s opportunity.
The Gospels are silent however, about any dramatic life changes among the faceless
masses who seemed to view Jesus simply as a nice idea. To them, observing and being
around Christ was something like a spectator sport.Watch but don’t get too involved.”
By contrast, Christ extended his compassion to those souls fortunate enough to have
run out of options—people who were at the end of their rope.
So:
The ship made it to shore.
The maniac found healing and peace in Christ.
The dying daughter was restored to full health.
The woman’s bleeding was stopped.
Today, if you are in serious need of the master’s healing or helping hand, understand
that he awaits your cry for help. By faith appropriate him now.
1
Blessings, Tony Hodge-Williams
2
42
Luke 8:22–56
1
Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).
  • 2024 11 From Wealthy Farmer to poor Farmer
    I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called
    “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 17
    th
    of March: 2024.
    March 17: From Wealthy Rancher To Impoverished Cave-Dweller
    That’s the story of Lot, the nephew of Abraham. Here’s how he did it:
    LOT MADE THREE BAD DECISIONS:
    1. He embraced the negative values of Abraham:
    Lot observed Abraham as he sacrificed Sarah to Pharaoh to save his neck. Years later,
    Lot also attempted to save his neck (and those of his house guests), by offering to give his
    daughters to the men of Sodom (See Genesis 12:1–12; 19:4–8).
    2. He allowed himself to be overtaken by greed:
    When prosperity forced Abraham and Lot to separate, Lot ravenously chose the better
    portion of land for himself (Genesis 13:1–11).
    3. He loved the world’s sinful environment:
    After separating from Abraham, he settled next to wicked Sodom (Genesis 13:12;
    19:15, 16).
    LOT SUFFERED THREE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES:
    1. He demonstrated no confidence in God’s Word:
    When the angels told him to flee Sodom, he hesitated and sought a compromise
    (Genesis 19:16–20).
    2. He destroyed his family spiritually:
    His sons-in-law had no respect for God’s Word when spoken by him (Genesis
    19:14).
    His wife lost her life by embracing his values (Genesis 19:17, 26).
    His daughters (who, no doubt were traumatized by his disregard for them)
    stooped to an incestuous relationship with him in order to preserve the family line (Genesis
    19:4–8, 32–36).
    3. He experienced the reduction of his life from rancher to an impoverished cave-
    dweller (Genesis 13:5, 6; 19:30).
    Perhaps the most astonishing thing about this story is Peter’s assessment of this
    rancher gone awry, in referring to him as “Righteous Lot” (See 2 Peter 2:7). If that isn’t the
    grace of God, I don’t know what is!
    1
    Blessings, Tony Hodge-Williams
    1
    Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).
2024 10 Are You Called or Driven?
I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called
“Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 10
th
of March: 2024.
March 10: Are You “Called” Or “Driven”?
The imagery of Christ making his way through the bustling, pawing, and demanding
crowds was one of peace, bearing, and purpose. CALLED by the Father to complete his task,
Jesus never appeared to be in a hurry … yet always progressing toward his goal.
Because Jesus had a clear sense of his calling, he was able at age 33—the night before
the cross—to say to his Father, “I have finished the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4)
So it is to be with us. God has CALLED us to a work, be it in the context of the
market place or behind a pulpit.
Unfortunately, many of us conduct our lives in a manner more indicative of a
DRIVEN person
36
:
He’s results-orientated.
She’s in constant pursuit of expansion.
He’s restless and very intense.
She’s very competitive.
His people skills are underdeveloped.
She’s “too busy for integrity.”
He’s preoccupied with symbols of achievement
By contrast, Isaiah paints a picture of work accomplished God’s way:
The work of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness will be
quietness and confident trust forever.” (Isaiah 32:17)
If your lifestyle and approach to work reflect a DRIVEN person as opposed to the
CALLED person of Isaiah 32:17, perhaps it is time to take inventory.
1
Blessings,
Tony Hodge-Williams
6
36
Gordon McDonald in Ordering Your Private World
1
Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000

The Nails On the Cross

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 3rd of March: 2024.

March 3: The Nails Of The Cross

“All of us carry the nails of the cross in our pocket,” wrote Martin Luther.

How easily we crucify him!

• By subtly moving him to the peripheral of our conversation when it is embarrassing to be identified with Christ.

• By compromising his principles in business when it is to our advantage to hedge the truth.

• By smugly taking credit for accomplishments that would have been impossible without his help.

While enjoying a warm and secure evening with Christ and the other disciples the night before the cross, Peter declares, “Lord, I will lay down my life for you.”32 In a matter of hours however, Peter distances himself from any association with Christ: Personal survival winning over telling and identifying with the truth.

It is easy to promise Christ the moon when we are among his friends. The true test comes amidst times of guerrilla warfare in hostile enemy territory.

We would never physically crucify Christ. Of course. But how often do we subtly abandon him when identifying with him would jeopardise our peace, prosperity, or social standing?

Yes … we, like Peter, “carry the nails of the cross in our pocket.”

“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32–33)

Blessings,

 Tony Hodge-Williams

 

SIMPLICITY and PURITY

2024 0 7 Simplicity and Purity 

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the18th of February: 2024.
February 18: Simplicity And Purity
One of the dilemmas you and I face is how to walk with God and keep the clutter and stuff around us from burying us alive. As a society, our fixation on acquiring has reached psychotic levels.
John Wesley wrote, “The essence of Christian holiness is simplicity and purity …”
Soren Kierkegaard captured the spirit of Christian simplicity: “Purity of heart is to will one thing: God.”
“Simplicity is freedom, bringing joy and balance.
“Duplicity is bondage leading to anxiety and fear.”19
It’s difficult to keep life simple if I have multiple passions.
Count Zinzendorf stated, “I have but one passion, it is he alone.”
The test as to whether I am seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness is the lack of anxiety. (Matthew 6:25)
Following are several of Richard Foster’s20 principles that may help us in evaluating whether we have captured the inner essence of simplicity:
First, buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
Second, reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.
Third, develop a habit of giving things away.
Fourth, refuse to be propagandised by the custodians of modern gadgetry.
Fifth, learn to enjoy things without owning them.
Sixth, look with a healthy scepticism at all “buy now, pay later” schemes.
Seventh, shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.
Blessings,
Tony Hodge-WilliamsI’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the18th of February: 2024.
February 18: Simplicity And Purity
One of the dilemmas you and I face is how to walk with God and keep the clutter and stuff around us from burying us alive. As a society, our fixation on acquiring has reached psychotic levels.
John Wesley wrote, “The essence of Christian holiness is simplicity and purity …”
Soren Kierkegaard captured the spirit of Christian simplicity: “Purity of heart is to will one thing: God.”
“Simplicity is freedom, bringing joy and balance.
“Duplicity is bondage leading to anxiety and fear.”19
It’s difficult to keep life simple if I have multiple passions.
Count Zinzendorf stated, “I have but one passion, it is he alone.”
The test as to whether I am seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness is the lack of anxiety. (Matthew 6:25)
Following are several of Richard Foster’s20 principles that may help us in evaluating whether we have captured the inner essence of simplicity:
First, buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
Second, reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.
Third, develop a habit of giving things away.
Fourth, refuse to be propagandised by the custodians of modern gadgetry.
Fifth, learn to enjoy things without owning them.
Sixth, look with a healthy scepticism at all “buy now, pay later” schemes.
Seventh, shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.
Blessings,
Tony Hodge-Williams

Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the matter

 2024 06 A Good Name

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the11th of February: 2024.

February 11: A Good Name

  • Is to be more desired than great riches …” (Proverbs 22:1a)
  • Is nearly impossible to restore … once sullied.

The next time you are on the edge of giving in to sin … think about your GOOD NAME.

Is any sin worth the price of losing your GOOD NAME?

Here are two reasons why the answer is no:

  1. Our private sins have a way of becoming public property:

Be sure your sin will find you outA bird on the wing may carry your words(and) report what you say …” (Numbers 32:23b; Ecclesiastes 10:20b)

  1. Our private sins will affect our family for generations to come:

I the Lord your God (visit) the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations …” (Exodus 20:5)

Visualise one of your grandchildren a few years from now saying,

“There’s nothing to this religion stuff. My grandpa messed around with women … ripped off his company … and went to church on Sunday. Same with my old man. Forget this Christianity stuff!”

Or:

“My grandpa loved God … just like my dad does. I want to be like them!!”

Is any temporary satisfaction worth the price of your GOOD NAME?

The answer, of course is “NO”![1]

Blessings,

Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

2024 05 Jesus Christ desires our intimacy

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 4th of February: 2024.

February 4: Jesus Christ Earnestly Desires Intimacy

Jesus Christ earnestly desires intimacy with you throughout this day.

Hours before His betrayal, Jesus knew full well that the twelve disciples would soon slink away like cowards in their denial of him. Yet it was to them he said, “I have earnestly desired to eat … with you.” (Luke 22:15)

And this is his desire with you today: Intimacy … Communion.

As you progress through this day the most significant task before you will not be:

  • Clinching a “deal”
  • Picking up another client
  • Resolving another personnel problem

As important as these challenges may be, they pale in comparison to your calling of intimate communion with Christ:

“God is faithful through whom you were called into the fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:9)

Here is how Jesus put it:

“It is the man who shares my life and in whose life I share who proves fruitful, for the plain fact is that apart from me you can do nothing at all.” (John 15:5 Phillips)

God’s singular objective at the cross was to make our fellowship with the Lord Jesus a continual, moment by moment reality.

Today, let us resolve that nothing in which we are engaged will rob us of that inner relationship with him. After all, that is our calling.[1]

Blessings,

            Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

2024 04 is it difficult to accept God’s grace?

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 28th of January: 2024

January 28: Ever Have A Tough Time Accepting The Grace Of God For Your Life?

Do I have good news for you!

Consider a couple of classic failures and how God graciously dealt with them:

Abraham:

  • God tells him that his 90 year old wife is going to bear a child. (See Genesis 17:16)
  • Abraham falls on his face and laughs (literally “mocks,” “scorns”), saying, “Will Sarah … bear a child?” (Genesis 17:17)
  • In the following chapter God says of Abraham: He “will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed, for I have chosen him.” (Genesis 18:18)

THAT IS THE GRACE OF GOD!

Sarah:

  • God names Sarah “Princess,” “You (Abraham) shall call her Sarah … “(Literally, “Princess“) (Genesis 17:15)
  • God tells Abraham that within a year Sarah will bear a son. (Genesis 18:10)
  • Sarah, who is within earshot, also laughs, “Shall I indeed bear a child when I am so old?” (See Genesis 18:12, 13)

Imagine: God names Sarah “Princess” with the full knowledge that she will soon mock his promise to give her a son.

THAT IS THE GRACE OF GOD!

It is obvious that God, in his great love and grace chooses and uses less than perfect people. People who are in the process of becoming.

So the next time you are inclined to write yourself off as an unqualified candidate for his grace, keep in mind blundering Abraham and Sarah, and God’s grace in dealing with them.

“Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” (Romans 5:20)[1]

Blessings,

            Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

2024 03 Thankfulness or Bitterness

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 20th of January: 2024

January 20: Thankfulness Or Bitterness

QUESTION: Do you happen to have a gnarly problem in your life that simply will not go away? There seems to be no solution?

When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find that you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence.” (James 1:2–4—Phillips Translation)

How are you handling it?

  • Pouting over it?
  • Smashing it?
  • Trying to ignore it?
  • Running away from it?

Or thanking God for it!

… And asking him to use the problem as a chisel in his hand to fashion you into Christlikeness?

Thankfulness is the mechanism that releases us from the bondage of life’s “unsolvable issues” thereby giving God permission to use the “unsolvable issues” to mould our character into his.

Once we release our anger, our control … our “rights,” God is free to go to work … on us.!

Paul’s “unsolvable” problem was a physical one. Relatively easy perhaps compared to yours. Three times he asked God to remove the problem … To no avail. But in releasing it to God, he discovered the two resources he most needed to live with his enigma: God’s GRACE and God’s STRENGTH:

And He said to me,My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, that the power of Christ may dwell in me … for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10b)

The same sun that softens the butter hardens the clay.” In living with our unresolved issues we have a choice of becoming softened or hardened: Christlike or embittered.

Again … the choice is ours![1]

 

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

2024 02 Give Thanks—Always—and in all Things

1 Thessalonians 5:16–22 (NIV 2011) “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good,22reject every kind of evil.”

As you may be aware I’ve recently spent some time in hospital. It was a scary time because I didn’t know what was going on. I’d had several blackouts one of which resulted in some minor injuries to my head.

I was put on a cardiac monitor and sent home. For a month I had to endure the itchiness and discomfort of the pads used by the ‘bug’ to listen to my heart. Nothing came of that trial.

I had another blackout a couple of days after the monitor was removed and returned. Back to emergency! Fortunately I had yet another blackout in emergency. Fortunately? Yes because it was witnessed by a couple of paramedics and a nurse. I was admitted back into hospital and a cardiac telemetry unit was fitted. This was a device that listens to the heart in much more detail than the monitor that I had had and sends the information via the intranet to a monitoring team.

This was on Thursday. On Friday Marian came in to see me. I had been really looking forward to seeing her. She had hardly arrived when a man with a wheelchair came to take me away for an EEG. An EEG is an electroencephalogram. This is a machine that measures brain 0activity. Needless to say, I was grumpy at having been taken away from Marian.

I was taken downstairs and left. He just left me there with no information. I was frightened and—grumpy. I started to pray. I knew God had things under control but that didn’t actually help me at that moment. Finally I was taken in for the test. I was wired up with a cap which had gel all through it—yuk! The did some test to ensure it was working properly then they laid the chair back and asked me to close my eyes. Next thing I hear “Tony, Tony, Tony”. I was being called by one of the technicians. I had blacked out again.

I was wheeled back to the ward where a doctor told me that I was the luckiest man on earth. You see, when I blacked out it was recorded by the EEG machine, a video camera, the heart monitor and three people: two technicians and a nurse. The doctor said they had never had so much information during a blackout. I replied that I was not lucky, I was loved.

You may remember over Christmas we had explored that God moved Joseph and Mary so that they could be at the right place at the right time. That’s exactly what God did with me. I do not believe God caused the blackout to happen, he just ensured I was in the right place when it did happen so that it would be witnessed.

The upshot of this is that a diagnosis has been made. I have been having partial seizure event that have caused my heart to stop. On the witnessed event it stopped for 15 seconds. As a result I am now on anti-seizure medication and have to relinquish my drivers licence. They think it will only be for six months then I’ll be able to drive again. In the mean time I have to pull my head in a bit. I’ll still be working but when I do visit Marian will be driving me. I may have to rely on other people to do some visiting on my behalf.

Prayer and God’s grace are at the centre of the good things that have happened to me. So I want to encourage you to pray continually. Give thanks to God for all things he is giving you, I know I am. Ask him to help you to relinquish everything into his hands; they are so much stronger and able than ours.

Please pray for me as I endure multiple appointments, much prodding and poking, and as I adjust to not being allowed to drive. Please ask God to enable me to serve you and him during the next months, please ask him for complete healing. Please ask him to enable Marian. She really dislikes driving in Ballarat, please may he give her confidence and skill as she negotiates these difficult times.

I have been banned from doing several physical things. Therefore I would ask if there are any who would be able to help Marian finish her garden off. She mainly needs someone to help her shift soil and mulch. There may even be a little light weeding involved as well.

Finally, I ask you to pray for yourselves. Ask God for guidance and for the ability to pray faithfully. He will hear you. Especially as you ask him for what he wants you to have.

May we become the praying community that God wants for Ballarat and Sebastopol.

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

2024 01 Discipline is the price we pay for  freedom

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 7th of January: 2024

January 7: Discipline Is The Price We Pay For Freedom

  • Exercise and diet regularly and you’ll probably live better and longer.
  • Focus 100 % on one task at a time, and generally you’ll be less frazzled.

Paradoxically, the same holds true in the spiritual realm. For example, when we:

  • Take the time and effort to abide in God’s Word we are liberated from the tyranny of sin’s bondage:

If you continue in my wordyou will know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31, 32)

  • Joyfully endure trials, God is then able to forge within us that inner quality of steel belted strength that results in personal freedom:

When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends. Realize that they have come to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on and you will realize that you have become men of mature character with the right kind of independence.” (James 1:2–4 Phillips Translation)

  • Gain control over the dictates of our lower nature we are insured longevity in effective service:

Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all thingsTherefore I run in such a way, as not without aimI buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. (literally: rendered ineffective)for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.” (1 Corinthians 9:25–27; 2 Peter 2:19)

Paul speaks forcefully to this issue of discipline in stating:

Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.” (1 Timothy 4:7—The Message Translation)

I need to ask myself whether I am willing to pay the price of discipline to achieve freedom. The toll exacted upon me for the lack of discipline will, in the long run, far exceed the price I now pay for freedom through discipline![1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

DEVOTION OF THE WEEK: NUMBER 53

—EAGLES

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called
“Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 31st of December:
December 31: Eagles
If you are placing your hope in the Lord, then your life may resemble that of an
eagle:
130
Eagles Love to Play with the wind—They ride thermal updrafts to an altitude of 4,267
metres. The Golden Eagle can reach a speed of 290 km/h in a dive. Those who hope in the
Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not
grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Eagles Travel Light—Their bones are hollow and filled with air: The 7,000 feathers
on 595a Bald Eagle weigh only 21grammes. Let us strip off anything that slows us down or
holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and
trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.
(Hebrews 12:1—Living)
Eagles have Keen Eyesight—They see eight times better than human beings. They
can spot a mouse in the grass a 1.6 km away. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes
are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will
be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
(Matthew 6:22, 23)
Eagles are Focused—Once an eagle has spotted its prey, it does not take its eyes off
the creature until it strikes. This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind,
and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize
of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13b, 14)
Eagles Prefer Peace and Quiet when Raising a Family—They build their nests in high
hard-to-reach areas. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life …” (1 Thessalonians 4:11a)
Eagles, Male and Female, Work Together Building their Nest or Eyrie—The arduous
task takes several weeks to several months. Two are better than one, because they have a
good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man
who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10)
Eagles Keep Improving their Home—They continue to bring fresh green sprigs
through the nesting period. Some think the sprigs are simply for decoration. Blessed are
those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through
the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains
1
Blessings,
Tony Hodge-Williams
0
130
A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie (scriptures added by me)
1
Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000

Devotion of the Week: number 52

—Complexity and Disaster

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 24th of December:

December 24: Accelerating Complexity And Velocity Spell Disaster193

Recently I spent time with a couple whose marriage is in serious trouble. Both are talented, highly educated, and eminently “successful” in their professions. The nub of their problem, it seems to me, is their mad rush to gain a sense of self-worth and acceptance through high achievement and the incessant acquisition of things. The net effect is an accelerating pace and complexity of life that has spun out of control, causing a breakdown in relationships. Consequently, both parties have lost touch with each other, and are travelling in different orbits, and on contrary frequencies.

Their tragic situation reminds me of the worldwide convention Satan called. In his opening address to his evil angels, he said, “We can’t keep the Christians from going to church. We can’t keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can’t even keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to their churches, let them have their conservative lifestyles.

“But steal their time, so they can’t gain that relationship with Jesus Christ. This is what I want you to do, angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Saviour and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day! How shall we do this shouted the angels. ‘Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds,’ he answered. ‘Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow. Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6–7 days a week, 10–12 hours a day, so they can afford their empty lifestyles.’

“Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon, their home will offer no escape from the pressures of work! Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still, small voice. Entice them to play the radio or CD player whenever they drive. And see to it that every shop and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ.

“Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, mail order catalogues, sweepstakes, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services, and false hopes. Keep skinny, beautiful models on the magazines so the husbands will believe that external beauty is what’s important, and they’ll become dissatisfied with their wives. Ha! That will fragment those families quickly!

“And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotion. Go ahead, let them be involved in soul winning. But crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause. It will work! It will work!”

QUESTION: Are you “BUSY”?[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

193 Author Unknown

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: number 51

—2 options for following Jesus

 

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 17th of December:

December 17: Two Options For A Follower Of Christ

As a follower of Christ, I have two options as to how I will live my life:189

  1. By the “clock”—That is, manage my life by such external forces as my

Commitments

Appointments

Schedule

Goals

Activities

  1. By the “compass”—That is, lead my life by such internal values as my

Calling

Vision

Values

Mission

Direction

Our struggles come when we sense a gap between the clock and the compass; when what we do doesn’t contribute to the values we hold most dear. To help determine whether you are a slave to the clock or are guided by the compass, take a few minutes to prayerfully evaluate and answer the following questions:

  • What is my calling in life?
  • What is my vision?
  • What are my core values?
  • What is my mission in life?
  • What is my direction?
  • Can I defend how I answered the above questions Biblically?

It is God’s intention that we are guided primarily by our inner “compass” when it is based on the leading of the Spirit in accordance with the truth and authority of God’s Word:

Ephesians 5:15–17 (NIV 2011) 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

QUESTION: If your life is managed primarily by the “clock,” rather than led by the “compass,” what changes do you need to make at this time?[1]

Blessings,
Tony

 

189 Key thoughts adapted from First Things First by Steven Covey, Simon & Schuster

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Anger And Fear

Devotion of the Week: number 50

—Anger and Fear

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 10th of December:

December 10: Anger And Fear

Anger and fear are two emotions that paralyse our spiritual development and rob us of joy in our walk with Christ.

Anger usually focuses on our disappointment over occurrences of the past: The violation of our “rights,” frustration over how things have turned out, or lack of fulfillment over not having achieved our goals. We either doubt God’s ability to manage our lives, or we resent His sovereign intrusion into them:

They spoke against God, saying,Can God spread a table in the desert?’ ” (Psalm 78:19)

But his subjects hated him [Christ] and sent a delegation after him to say,We don’t want this man to be our king.’ ” (Luke 19:14)

Fear usually focusses on our anxious anticipation of the future: Do we have what it takes to realise our hopes and aspirations, or will our lives crash in upon us? In the future, will some uninvited calamity make its intrusion? Similar concerns faced the Israelites when they came back from exploring the Promised Land. Tragically, because they refused to take God at his word, they were diminished and immobilised by fear: “The Lord said to Moses,Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites …’

They came back … [and] reported … ‘We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit … But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large … But the men who had gone up with him said,We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are,andThe land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size … We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.’ ” (Numbers 13—Selected)

The opposite of anger is gratitude, and the opposite of fear is rest. If we are thankful and at ease over the fact that God is overseeing the affairs of our lives, we will experience an inner calm and joy. And joy is the necessary “oil” that lubricates the “machinery” of life. Unresolved anger or fear on the other hand, become the “sand” in the machinery, that will in time cause our lives to grind to a halt.

The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.” (Proverbs 10:28)

QUESTION: Would those closest to you say your life is driven by anger and fear, or characterised by gratitude and rest? If the answer is anger and fear, what changes do you need to make at this time?[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: number 49

—Winning Over Depression

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 3rd  of December:

December 2: Winning Over Depression

“Fog creeps in like little cat feet.”178

So does depression. Often inexplicably, without reason or rationale. It gets under your skin. Settles down into your gut.

The Psalmist asks, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” (Psalm 42:5a) Apparently, he was not sure either as to its cause. In fact, he seemed to be a bit bewildered, perhaps asking; “Why me?” “Why now?”

“Downcast” here literally means, sink, depress, bow down, collapse, despair. “Disturbed” conveys the idea of tumult, rage, moaning, clamour, troubled.

In his battle to win over depression, the Psalmist focused on five areas:

  1. Hunger—“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for God, for the living God …” (Psalm 42:1, 2a) Because nothing quells our appetite for him more than harbouring iniquity, we may want to ask ourselves the question, “Is there any sin in my life with which I need to deal?” (Hebrews 3:13; Psalm 66:18; 139:23, 24)
  2. Communicate—“These things I remember as I pour out my soul … I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?’ ” (Psalm 42:4a, 9) We may need to get on our face before God (literally) and have a real heart-to-heart talk over the issues that are troubling us at the core.
  3. Refocus—“Put your hope in God …” (Psalm 42:5b, 11b) That is, we may need to redirect our expectancy to him, rather than wallow in worry, circumstances, fear, or anger.
  4. Praise—“I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.” (Psalm 42:5b, 11b) We choose to adulate him as an alternative to grumbling or self-pity. (1 Corinthians 10:10; Philippians 2:14, 15)
  5. Remember—“My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.” (Psalm 42:6) It may be time once again, to recall (and appreciate) God’s past leading and blessings. Nothing displeases God, or quenches our spirit more than a thankless heart. (See Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 63:6; 77:11; 106:7; Isaiah 46:9)

CONCLUSION: Depression is one of the enemy’s major weapons in knocking us out of the race. So let’s resolve to win over depression by doing battle with Satan along Scripturally prescribed lines, as illustrated in Psalm 42. Have you found anything else that works? I haven’t![1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Wi

 

178 I’ve forgotten the author of a poem that begins with this refrain.

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: number 48

—Ever feel abandoned?

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the26th  of November:

November 26: Ever Feel Abandoned?

Disconnected? Cast aside? Isolated? Take heart my friend, because God is “a father to the fatherless …” and “sets the lonely in families.” (Psalm 68:5a, 6a) (See Psalm 10:4; 107:14)

Have you ever been crushed by circumstances? Overwhelmed by life? Whiplashed by a situation that seems out of your control? Take courage, because your loving Sovereign is concerned for the most defenceless among us: “A defender of widows.” (Psalm 68:5a) (See Psalm 72:2, 4)

Ever feel like a prisoner to your surroundings? Or to your sins? Or to life itself? The good news is that “God leads forth the prisoners with singing.” (Psalm 68:6) (See Psalm 107:10, 14; 147:6; Isaiah 61:1)

Perhaps you feel exhausted. Dried out. Stale. Look up because your Father promises to give you “abundant showers …” as he “refreshes his weary inheritance.” (Psalm 68:9) (See Hosea 6:3)

You may be worried about meeting your financial obligations. Be at rest. “From your bounty, O God you [provide] for the poor.” (Psalm 68:10) (See Psalm 37:25; Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 13:5)

In case you are wondering if he is there, or even cares about your situation,

  • Muse over the words from Mozart’s Requiem, “Remember, merciful Jesu, that I am the cause of your journey.”
  • Ponder the profundity of Brenan Manning’s story of an Irish priest who observes an old peasant kneeling by the side of the road, praying. Impressed, the priest says to the man, “You must be very close to God.” The peasant looks up from his prayers, thinks a moment, and then smiles, “Yes, he’s very fond of me.”
  • Identify with Karl Barth’s175 response to someone’s inquiry as to the most profound thought he had learned in all his theological studies, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Just how do we daily experience his grace? By total surrender to the lordship issues God has already identified in our lives. It is he, after all who gently reminds us that “only the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” (Psalm 68:6b) All he asks from us is radical honesty, and radical dependency, thus releasing him to do what is so dear to his heart: “Daily [bear] our burdens.” (Psalm 68:19b)

That being true, let us offer this prayer to him, “Lord, thank you for what you have allowed to come my way. I repent of my rebellion, fear, anger and stubborn self-will. In this moment I surrender to your Lordship, and choose to believe that for today you are my sufficiency and the answer to my every need. Thank you in Jesus’ Name. Amen.”[1]

Blessings,                       

 

175 Perhaps the 20th Century’s leading theologian

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

 

Devotion of the Week: number 47—

Do you have a Paul, Barnabas or Timothy in your Life?

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the19th  of November:

November 19: Everyone Needs A Paul, A Barnabas, And A Timothy In His Life

PAUL: Yesterday, I had coffee with an old friend who set out a decade ago to affect the business community of his city for Christ. God graciously granted him a reasonably fruitful ministry. Along the way, however, his marriage fell apart. “Dwight, if I had had a Paul in my life, my marriage would not have failed.” As he spoke, I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 4:14:

Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.” (See 1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; Philippians 3:7; 4:9)

QUESTION: Do you currently have a Paul in your life? Someone who knows the real you? Someone who challenges you? Someone who models godly character and discipline, and builds them into your life? Someone who lends a more mature perspective to your life? Someone who has earned your trust enough to probe the sensitive and hidden areas of your life? Someone who is committed to walking with you through the difficult times? In a word, a Paul. A spiritual father.

BARNABAS (“Encourager”—Acts 4:36) was used of God to bring Paul out of Antioch and into a fruitful ministry where the two of them teamed up. (Acts 11:25, 26) (See Acts 11:30; 12:25; 13:1, 2, 14, 43, 46, 50; 14:1–3, 23; 15:12, 22, 34)

QUESTION: Do you have a Barnabas in your life? A mate with whom you can freely share the good, the bad, and the ugly? Someone who will tell it like it is when you don’t want to hear it? (Proverbs 27:6) Someone who is committed to hanging in there with you through thick and thin? (Proverbs 17:17; 18:24)

TIMOTHY: In his travels, Paul ran into a young follower of Christ named Timothy (Acts 16:1–4). For the next decade or so, the Apostle invested deeply into his life. Reflecting back on their friendship, Paul wrote,

You … know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me … the persecutions I endured …” (2 Timothy 3:10, 11a, c) (See Acts 20:18)

In similar fashion, Paul encouraged Timothy to also invest his life into others: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:2) (See 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 6)

QUESTION: Do you have a Timothy in your life? Someone into whose life you are currently investing?

Having a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy in our life will indeed play a significant role in (1) fostering our growth towards spiritual maturity, and (2) helping us fulfill Christ’s Great Commission.[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: number 46

—Unavailable to God?

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the12th  of November:

November 12: Four Reasons Why We May Be Unavailable To God

(1) An unwillingness to give up security or comfort to follow Christ: “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him,I will follow you wherever you go.Jesus replied,Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ (Luke 9:57, 58)

Years ago, in spreading the Gospel, I took strong, red-blooded businessmen with me to the back alleys of one of the world’s most abysmal locales. But after a couple of hours of inhaling the ubiquitous aroma of burning tires and human waste, while being jostled on rutty roads in tropical heat, one of the men groaned, “Man … I can’t take this.” Today he luxuriates in California’s finest environs.

(2) An unwillingness to allow Christ, rather than man to determine your responsibilities in life: “He said to another man,Follow me.But the man replied,Lord, first let me go and bury my father.Jesus said to him,Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ ” (Luke 9:59, 60)

Family expectations dictated that this fellow stick around home until his father died. Christ however, did not allow him that option, by saying in effect, “Let your spiritually dead relatives and friends bury your father when he succumbs. Put my mission before family demands. Now.

I wonder how many of us are in bondage to family expectations at the expense of Christ’s call upon our lives?

(3) An unwillingness to sacrifice relationships closest to you to follow Christ: “Still another said,I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.Jesus replied,No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’ ” (Luke 9:61, 62)

I suspect Christ knew that if this man went home, he would never again return. As a young man struggling to follow Christ, I knew I had to physically leave the city of my family. The pull and expectations of the clan upon my life was simply too much to resist. So I left—at the cost of family favour.

(4) An unwillingness to live by a single, God-given focus: “Jesus replied,No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’ ” (Luke 9:62)

The simple fact is, “The man who trusts God, but with inward reservations … cannot hope to receive anything from the Lord, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn.” (James 1:6–8—Phillips Translation)

QUESTION: From God’s perspective, are you truly available to him? If not, what would it take to set you free?[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: number 45

—Spiritual Decline

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 5th of November:

November 5: Conducting A Spiritual Audit

Six questions to keep your personal accounts in order:162

  1. Am I content with who I am becoming? I must be sure my profession does not consume my person. It’s important that I be more than I do or have. When the time comes for me to leave my title and power, will I have anything to fill the vacuum? As I mature am I moving from power to wisdom; from the offensive to being sought out? “Throw off your old evil nature—the old you that was a partner in your evil ways—rotten through and through, full of lust and sham. Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better. Yes, you must be a new and different person, holy and good. Clothe yourself with this new nature.” (Ephesians 4:22–24 Living) (See Job 22:23; Ezekiel 18:30–32; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 2:11; 3:8, 9; Hebrews 12:1; James 1:21)
  2. Do I have a quiet centre to my life? For many of us our life motto seems to be, “When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream, and shout.” God’s Word, however, encourages us to “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) There is an important difference between the fast track and the frantic track. By way of contrast, Jesus quietly “went about doing good.” He had a quiet centre. A peace which evidenced the presence of God. Do I? (See Psalm 131:2; 23:2; Isaiah 30:15; 32:17)
  3. Is my prayer life improving? Do my decisions have prayer as an integral part, or do I make decisions out of my desires and then immerse them in a sanctimonious sauce I call prayer? “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer … present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6a, c) (See 1 Kings. 3:5; 2 Chronicles. 7:14; Psalm 37:4; Matthew 6:6–9; 7:7, 8; 21:22; John 14:13, 14; 16:23, 24; James 5:16–18)
  4. Is my humility genuine? There is nothing so arrogant as false humility. Humility is not denying the power that I have, but admitting that the power comes through me, not from me. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3) (See Psalm 37:11; 131:1; Proverbs 11:2; 27:2; Isaiah 57:15; 66:2b; Jeremiah 45:5; Micah 6:8; Luke 18:14; 1 Peter 5:5)
  5. Is obedience in small matters built into my reflexes? Do I try to bargain with God or rationalise with him? Obedience largely determines my relation with Christ. Good intentions count for little. “Obedience is the test of whether we really livein Godor not. The life of a man who professes to be living in God must bear the stamp of Christ.” (1 John 2:5, 6—Phillips Translation) (See Proverbs 19:16; 19:17; 1 John 5:3; Luke 6:46)
  6. Do I have joy? Joy is perfected in the full belief in the total sovereignty of God. Doubt dilutes joy. Does my joy extend into my suffering; understanding that my suffering is my maturation. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2–4) (See Nehemiah 8:10; Isaiah 12:1–3; 61:10; Romans 15:13; 2 Corinthians 6:10)[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

162 Adapted from the “Leadership” Magazine, Winter Quarter, 1998, pages 41–46; Mr. Fred Smith

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: number 44

Down in the Dumps

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter.” Here’s his devotion for the 29th of October:

October 29: The Next Time You Are Down In The Dumps

Struggling with your worth as a person …

Or despairing of life …

Or nursing your wounds over being hurt, shunned, or put down,

Do a reality check as to just who you are in the eyes of God:

  • God has always Loved You—From all Eternity:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3b) (See Psalm 103:17; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; James 1:18)

  • God has always Planned to choose You for Himself:

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:4) (See 1 Peter 2:9; Deuteronomy 7:6, 7; 14:2)

  • God thought enough of you to spill his Son’s Blood to Rescue you:

“You were redeemed from the empty way of life … with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18b, 19) (See Psalm 74:2; Hebrews 9:12–14)

  • God Considers you his sole Possession:

“[He] gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:14) (See Acts 15:14; Deuteronomy 4:20; 14:2)

  • God has invited you into his family to be a Joint Heir with his Son, Jesus:

“We are … heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:17b) (See Luke 12:32; Galatians 3:29; 4:7)

So take heart, my fellow struggler—and heir. True, “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) But take comfort in knowing that Jesus is returning to take you with him:

“They will see the Son of Man coming … with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place … lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27b, 28)[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: number 43

God’s Grace Overrides Satan’s Accusations

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter.” Here’s his devotion for the 22nd of October:

October 22: God’s Grace Overrides Satan’s Accusations

Andrew, a businessman in his early 30’s, is developing a relationship with Ann that may well lead to marriage. Both are deeply committed to Christ. When Andrew brought Ann in for counselling, I learned that four years ago she lost her virginity when a persuasive “friend” took advantage of her.

Since then, Satan—that great “accuser of our brothers …”—has had a field day with Ann as she has suffered from unimaginable guilt, self-recrimination, and low self-esteem, (Revelation 12:10b). After listening to her story, I felt compelled to share the following principles and Scriptures with her:

  1. When we confess and forsake our sins, God forgives and forgets:

He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy … I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more … If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.” (Proverbs 18:13; Isaiah 43:25; Psalm 130:3, 4) (See 1 John 1:9; 2:1, 2)

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:10–14)

  1. God’s grace is not a license to continue in sin:

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!… You … were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature … Jesus … asked her,Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,she said.Then neither do I condemn you,Jesus declared.Go now and leave your life of sin.’ ” (Romans 6:1, 2a; Galatians 5:13; John 8:10, 11)

After sharing the Scriptures, we prayed together, claiming and appropriating his forgiveness, healing and inner peace. The next day I received a call informing me that for the first time in years, Ann was free of guilt and was filled with joy.

QUESTION: Are you carrying around unnecessary guilt for your past sins? If so, accept His promised forgiveness, appropriate his grace, (which has already been given to you), and experience his freedom. Today.[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: number 42—

Trying to Make Sense of Life

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter.” Here’s his devotion for the 15th of October:

October 15: Trying to Make Sense of Life

Life is unfair: The righteous suffer while evil men prevail. Justice is capricious as life appears to unfold in random fashion: Innocent children are victims of war and flood, while piggish dictators ravage their people for personal gain. Good people get cancer and the brutish often live in wealth and enjoy good health into old age. (Ecclesiastes 3:11; 7:15; 8:14; Daniel 4:35; Job 11:7–9; 33:13; Romans 11:33, 34)

One could reason: If God is good, then he is weak. Otherwise he would stop the suffering and injustice. If he is strong and sovereign, then he is cruel or indifferent for allowing the carnage to continue. The book of Job however, shatters such thinking.

Here is the essence of Job: One day Satan, in conversing with God, accuses Job of following God because he is blessing him. In order to demolish his argument, God gives Satan permission to take everything of Job’s except his life. As Job loses his health, children, and resources, his “friends” argue that his suffering is due to his sin. In the end, God vindicates Job, and restores everything twofold.

FIVE CONCLUSIONS FROM THE BOOK OF JOB:

  1. God reserves the right to use us for his glory as he so chooses:

“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth … Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” (Exodus 9:16; Job 40:8) (See Isaiah 45:9; 64:8)

  1. Job demonstrates the fact that it is possible, amidst extreme suffering to maintain one’s faith:

“At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’” (Job 1:20, 21) (See Job 1:22; 13:15)

  1. Job’s counsellors wrongly assumed that his tribulations were related to sin; that righteous people always prosper, while suffering is always our punishment for engaging in evil:

“If [the righteous] obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment.” (Job 36:11)

  1. Suffering deeply enhanced Job’s relationship with God:

“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5)

  1. God owes us no explanation for his actions. He gave Job none.”

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: number 41—

Ripple Effects of Sin

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 8th of October:

October 8: The Ripple Effects Of Sin

Yesterday, a close friend shared the living hell in his marriage, and the constant pressure he felt to seek companionship elsewhere. Over the years he has made a noble effort to salvage a tragic situation. But to no avail. Every instinct within me says, “Leave. You don’t deserve this. Find someone who will love you and help you raise your children in a sane environment. Get a life!”

Then in my devotions this morning, I read of David’s sin with Bathsheba. Amazingly, at that juncture, David was at the apex of his career: Powerful. Loved by his people. Magnanimous. And lounging instead of warring. (2 Samuel 9:1–10:1, 2a; chapter 11)

What really caught my eye in the narrative was the number of people affected by David’s sin:

  • Bathsheba—Morally corrupted; lost a husband and baby. (2 Samuel 11:26; 12:24)
  • Uriah—Bathsheba’s husband whom David had killed in battle. (2 Samuel 11:6–21)
  • David and Bathsheba’s baby—Whose life God took. (2 Samuel 12:19–21)
  • Abimelech—Died unnecessarily in battle alongside Uriah. (2 Samuel 11:21)
  • David—Committed adultery and murder. Hypocritical. Suffered multiple family tragedies. Weakened as a leader. (Psalm 32; 2 Samuel 12:19–21; 13:23–29, 37–17:29; 15:13–19a)
  • Joab—David’s Chief of Staff: Corrupted; committed murder. (2 Samuel 11:6–21; 18:14, 15)
  • Nathan—The Prophet, whom God commissioned to expose David’s sin. (2 Samuel 12)
  • Tamar—David’s daughter, who was raped by her brother Amnon. (2 Samuel 13:1–22)
  • Amnon—Murdered by Absalom’s men for the rape of Tamar. (2 Samuel 13:23–29)
  • Absalom—Committed murder, insurrection, and fornication. Was estranged from David. Murdered by Joab. (2 Samuel 14; 15; 18; 16:21, 22)
  • Ahithophel—Bathsheba’s father: Rebelled against David. Committed suicide. (2 Samuel 16:20–17:23)
  • David’s wives, concubines and children—(2 Samuel 5:13–16; 16:21, 22; 1 Samuel 25:42–44)
  • David’s fighting men—Humiliated and weakened. (2 Samuel 19:5–8)
  • The Nation—Weakened, and ultimately divided. (2 Samuel 19:9–15a, 40–43; 20:1, 2; 1 Kings 11; 12)

Little did David realise the price tag for his adulterous action. In his delusion, he thought he could cover it up, failing to realise the Scripture’s warning, “You may be sure that your sin will find you out … A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction …” (Numbers 32:23b; Galatians 6:8a)

Perhaps a worthwhile exercise for us would be to jot down the names of the people who would be adversely affected if we were to fall into sin. Then we should ask the question as to whether the immediate gratification would be worth the long-term consequences? I rather doubt that it would! What do you think?[1]

Blessings,
Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: Number 40

Meditating on the Scriptures

I’m reading through some daily devotions from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 1st of October.

October 1: Prayerful Meditation on The Scriptures

Prayerful meditation on the Scriptures is fundamental to spiritual growth. Yet most believers find the experience something less than fulfilling. Here are five suggestions:148.

  1. Meditation on the Scriptures should not be viewed as a method or system, but as an attitude: Faith, openness, reverence, expectation, supplication.

“This people draw near to me with their words … but they remove their hearts far from me, and their reverence for me consists of traditions learned by rote.” (Isaiah 29:13 NASB)

  1. Meditation can actually be quite difficult at times. Thus, we should not judge its value on how we feel. Yet it is important that our efforts are enlightened, well-directed, and sustained.

“Let me understand the teachings of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders.” (Psalm 119:27)

  1. It is only if we have a heart fixed on obeying God without reservation that a little effort goes a long way. When we are resisting him through disobedience or compromise, no amount of effort can produce the desired result.

“I have more understanding … for I obey your precepts.” (Psalm 119:100)

  1. In our pride, we don’t want to be beginners. In truth, we will never be anything but beginners. Given the challenge in learning to effectively utilise meditation for spiritual growth, we would do well to recognise the need for a mature mentor.

“Whatever you have learned or received … from me or seen in me—put into practice.” (Philippians 4:9)

  1. Often, what first seemed easy and rewarding, suddenly becomes utterly impossible. We struggle with inner confusion, coldness, and lack of confidence. We find concentration difficult. Our imagination and emotions wander—or run wild. We often feel dry and desolate. Repugnant fantasies buried deep within us take over. We totally lose interest in spiritual matters.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do … For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:15, 19)

My friend in Christ, don’t give up, because God promises you that “the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” (Proverbs 4:18)[1]

Blessings,

            Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: Number 39

Spiritual Decline

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 24th  of September:

September 24: Spiritual Decline

Are there parallels between Israel’s spiritual decline and ours? She was:

Unappreciative—When our ancestors were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea.” Psalm 106:7

Independent—“They quickly forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel …:” (Psalm 106:13)

Sensual—“[They] craved intensely in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.” (Psalm 106:14)

Secular—“They exchanged their glory for the image of an ox that eats grass … They mingled with the nations, and learned their practices … And served their idols, which became a snare to them.” (Psalm 106:20, 29, 35, 36)

Discontent—“They despised the pleasant land … [They] grumbled in their tents …” (Psalm 106:24a, 25a)

Void of Faith—“They did not believe in his Word … They did not listen to the voice of the Lord.” (Psalm 106:24b, 25b)

Resistant to the Holy Spirit—“They were rebellious against his Spirit …” (Psalm 106:33a)

Willing to sacrifice her children—“They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan …” (Psalm 106:37, 38a)

We identify with William Bennett’s comment, “We have a real problem in this country when it comes to values. We have become the kind of societies that civilised countries used to send missionaries to.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34)

When God rescues a nation, he always uses a person:

I looked for a someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.” (Ezekiel 22:30)

QUESTION: What do you think God would have you do on a personal level to make a difference in the Nation? Are you up to the challenge?[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: number 38—Passion!

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 17th  of September:

September 23: Every Person Has His Passions! What Are Yours?

I know, I know, it is actually the 17th but I really liked the one for the 23rd! 😊

For security, “success,” social status, etc.? Or for such eternal values as:

A Passion for God146

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you …” (Psalm 42:1, 2; 63:1a)

A Passion for the Lost.

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. ‘Do you not say,’ Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:34, 35)

A Passion to Mentor Others in Becoming Labourers and Leaders.

“We proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring everyone  up to their full maturity in Christ Jesus. This is what I am working at all the time, with all the strength that God gives me … Ask the Lord of the harvest … to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Colossians 1:28, 29—Phillips; Matthew 9:38)

A Passion for the Nations of the World.

“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth … Therefore go and make disciples of all nations …” (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19a)

One of these days a nurse will enter your intensive care unit, observe the flat signal on the electronic heart monitor, unplug the life-support system, and quietly walk out of the room.

At that moment, you will find yourself in eternity face-to-face with God. One question he plans to ask you is whether you shared the passions of his heart, or whether you followed your own. How you answer that question will determine the quality of your existence for all eternity.147

QUESTION: Given the focus of your present passions, is that a pleasant thought?[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

146 Adapted from U. S. Staff Communiqué, Alan Andrews, The Navigators, November 19, 1997

147 See Matthew 5:10–12; 1 Corinthians 3:11–15; 4:5; Galatians 6:7–10; Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 3:24, 25; 2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 22:12

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

VALUES FOR LIVING AND DYING

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 10th  of September:

September 10: Values Worth Living And Dying For In The New Millennium

Loving and serving Christ with a passion135

“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord … We proclaim him … so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labour, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” (Philippians 3:7, 8; Colossians 1:28, 29)

Living and ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit

“Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature … My message and my preaching were … with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power …” (Galatians 5:16; 1 Corinthians 2:4, 5)

Living by faith and obedience to god’s word

“I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me … Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me …” (Acts 27:25; John 14:21a)

Sharing the gospel by life and word

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:5, 6)

Multiplying spiritual labourers

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

Ministering life-on-life

“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8)

Possessing a vision for the world

“He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ ” (Genesis 15:5)[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

135 Adapted from a U. S. Navigators publication, September 1997

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

ARE YOU CHEATING?

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 3rd of September:

September 3: “Christians” In Business Who Lie

Recently, I had a conversation with “Christian” businessmen who make a practice of manipulating financial documents and transactions in order to avoid taxation or accountability to monitoring agencies. All this is done, they tell me, to help both the customer and themselves realise a fair profit. No one is hurt. All involved stand to gain.

When I challenged them on this routine, they responded, “Dwight … that’s the way it is done here. You just can’t operate any other way.

That evening, as I recounted our conversation, I could not get a particular Scripture out of my mind:

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither … thieves nor the greedy nor … swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9a, 10)

According to this passage, three classes of people are not going to heaven:

Thieves—Perhaps you will recognise the Greek word: kleptes—from which we get kleptomaniac. This is someone who is compelled to take what is not rightfully his; is driven to take more than his fair share. In many quarters, it is standard business practice to ask, “How can we cheat others in such a way that we leave a smile on their face?

The greedy—This person, in his scramble to get, or stay ahead of the rest of the pack, has an avaricious appetite for more, and is willing to defraud others to get it.

Swindlers—The other night while eating in a restaurant, I observed a man attack his meal. Noodles hung from his lips. His cheeks were stuffed to the breaking point with food, as he gulped liquid to wash it all down. Then another helping. Gulping, etc. That is the spirit of a swindler: Grasping. Gluttonous. Ravenous. Predatory. In a hurry.

As people whose lives have been transformed by the Lord Jesus, are we not compelled to express that change in such a manner that the people around us sit up and ask, “Why are these people so different?” After all,

You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

                    WHEN LESS IS MORE

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 27th of August:

August 27: When Less Is More

An automobile ad depicts a family holding hands, blissfully skipping through the park toward their newly acquired $75,000 car. Fostering family values of peace and solidarity, the advertisement infers that by obtaining the car, everything in the family is now at a near perfect state.

Yet, we live in a society where people are ripping their lives apart to get that car … and the appropriate house to match.

The Scriptures challenge material acquisition, when it is at the expense of peace and truth:

Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.” (Proverbs 15:16)

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” (Proverbs 17:1)

Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.” (Proverbs 16:8) (Also Psalm 37:16; Proverbs 15:17; Ecclesiastes 4:6)

Proverbs 23:4, puts the issue into the right perspective in cautioning us:

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.

God assures us of his provision—and more, if we will but make the pursuit of him our supreme goal:

Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (Deuteronomy 5:33)123

Yesterday, a businessman friend of mine wrote a note of appreciation to me after several of us had discussed the importance of carving out quantity and quality time with our children:

“Thank you for the rich session we had. I had a wonderful time with [my daughter] this morning. We had breakfast and talked for nearly an hour. All the money in the world would not be able to buy what I experienced …”

By the way, are we under the illusion that we can get quality time with our kids without quantity time?

QUESTION: In your family and personal life, is there a pattern of love, righteousness, and peace? Or turmoil, strife, and a sense of chasing after the wind? How would your spouse and kids answer that question of you and the family? If their response is in the negative, perhaps you need to reassess your focus and priorities.[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

123 Also: Deuteronomy 4:1, 40; 5:29; 11:8; 29:9; Joshua 1:7, 8; 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Chronicles 31:21

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

WHEN YOU ARE NO LONGER IN CONTROL

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 20th of August:

August 20: When You Are No Longer In Control

I’m lying in bed in pain. Back problems. Two weeks of physical anguish and immobility. All appointments, travel plans, and speaking engagements cancelled.

What do you do when your plans crash and burn; when you are no longer in control of the situation? Get angry or up-tight? Start throwing things? Have a pity party? Blame others?

Well, this morning, groaning in pain with plans gone awry, I managed to pry open my Bible and read:

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.” (Psalm 16:5)

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” (Psalm 46:1, 2)

“So what am I supposed to do when I can’t gain control of the situation?”

Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a)

But I am worried about all the people who are depending on me.

The Sovereign One reassures me that he will get the job done with or without me, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10b)

QUESTION: Do you have everything under control? I doubt it! Few people do. Perhaps you have:

  • A rebellious teenager, or
  • A messy partnership issue, or
  • A continuing problem in your marriage that seems to have no resolution, or
  • A financial enigma with no solution in sight.

What to do. Well, keep in mind that ultimate freedom in life is the ability to choose the right attitude. And because your attitude is centred in your will, you can choose to “be still and know that [he is] God.” Or you can choose to get up-tight, and wrestle back the control.

Prayer: “Lord, I pause to surrender control of my circumstances to you. In fact, once again I surrender my very life into your sovereign care. Thank you that from eternity you have known about this day and my particular situation. I lift each issue up to you and rest them into your loving hands. I choose to be still and acknowledge you as my sovereign God. In Jesusname. Amen.[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: number 33

The Kingdom of Self.

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 13th of August:

August 13: The Kingdom Of Self

When a child enters the world from the warm and secure environment of the womb he announces, “I have arrived, and I expect you—all of you to respond at once to my every need, whim and desire!” And we, the enthralled parents of this little bundle of cuddly “Goo-goo-ga-ga” joyfully comply. Immediately.

And thus the “kingdom of self” is established as “Goo-goo-ga-ga” develops into a paragon of self-centred indulgence in a society where personal “rights” have been elevated to near deity status. And just how does the adult version of “Goo-goo-ga-ga” manifest itself? In at least three ways:

Self-indulgence

The insatiable quest for self-gratification focusses on the greedy longings of the mind (uncontrolled imagination, greed, etc.), the physical craving of the body (uncontrolled indulgence in sex, food, sleep, indolence, etc.), and in the unquenchable quest for recognition. (1 John 2:15, 16)

Self-protection

The former CEO of a company that went belly up told me how he was hauled into court and queried by the judge as to why the corporation had failed. “It was my fault. I failed in running the company. I am responsible,” said he. Stunned, the judge sat in muted silence. Finally, after gaining his composure he uttered, “In my 20 years on the bench, you are the first person to voluntarily admit they were to blame.

Self-protection says, “It’s not my fault.” “I couldn’t help it.” “You don’t understand my background” (Thank you, Freud!) “The devil made me do it.” (Remember Flip Wilson?).

Self-pity

Self-pity declares, “No one appreciates me.” “I got the shaft.” “Why does it always happen to me?

So what is the solution to relinquishing the enslaving “kingdom of self”?

How about a daily funeral for “self.” Better yet, how about a moment-by-moment funeral? “I am crucified with Christ …” (Galatians 2:20). In order to die to self we need to win the battle on at least two fronts:

(1) Regular quality time alone with God in meditation on his Word, worship and prayer.

(2) Cultivating the art of living moment-by-moment in his presence.[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

DO YOU EXPERIENCE GOD'S GRACE DAILY?

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 6th of August:

August 6: Unless We Daily Experience God’s Grace, We Will Despair!

Paul admonished Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” knowing that without a profound awareness of his grace he, like the rest of us, would despair of the Christian life. (2 Timothy 2:1)

Recently, upon completing a lovely meal with friends, my host unleashed a hostile barrage of superlatives on the waitress in challenging the billing. After he had vented his spleen, the waitress graciously went over the bill, pointing out the fact that it was indeed correct.

Inwardly I could identify with my host, recollecting times I had decimated others, only to be proven wrong. The host, however is a relatively new believer, and is therefore more easily excused than I.

Without a profound awareness of his grace, both he and I would despair of the Christian life!

Just this morning I awoke in a sweat, as the air conditioning in my hotel room wasn’t working correctly. So I called down to the desk,

No! Don’t send the technician up to my room. The problem is in the central cooling unit!

Soon, however, a technician gently knocked on the door, smiled, went over to the wall and adjusted the thermostat. And quietly departed.

I tell you, without a profound awareness of his grace, I would despair of the Christian life!

Certainly his grace gives us no licence to sin nor an excuse for our vile behaviour:

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Romans 6:1, 2a)

But we do need to find hope in the fact that “there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus,” or we will, in our wretchedness despair of the Christian life. (Romans 8:1a)

In our walk with Christ, our goal is to learn how to live in his presence on a moment-by-moment basis. But until we have mastered the art, let’s keep in mind the fact that we have One who pleads our cause before the Father:

I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defence—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 John 2:1)

And that is the grace of God![1]

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Do You Interprete Scripture Accurately

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 30th of July:

July 30: When Interpreting The Scriptures, Inaccuracy Is Not An Option

If you were anticipating brain surgery, I suspect you would want to be sure the surgeon got an “A” in “Brain Operations 101”! There are some things in life where inaccuracy is not an option! Interpreting the sacred Word of God is one of them:

Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved … a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analysing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skilfully teaching] the Word of Truth … Ignorant (literally: untaught) and unstable people distort [the] … Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Timothy 2:15—Amplified; 2 Peter 3:16)

As lay-people, we have a responsibility to correctly examine the Scripture, since bad doctrine usually leads to bad living. Following are 10 basic principles of Biblical interpretation105:

  1. Work from the assumption that the Bible is authoritative.
  2. The Bible interprets itself; Scripture best explains Scripture.
  3. Interpret personal experience in the light of Scripture and not Scripture in light of personal experience.
  4. Biblical examples are authoritative only when supported by a command.
  5. Scripture has only one meaning and should be taken literally.
  6. Interpret words in harmony with their meaning in the times of the author.
  7. Interpret a word in relation to its sentence and context; a passage in harmony with its context.
  8. Since Scripture originated in a historical context, it can be understood only in the light of biblical history.
  9. Historical facts or events become symbols of spiritual truths only if the Scriptures so designate them.
  10. When two doctrines taught in the Bible appear to be contradictory, accept both as scriptural in the confident belief that they resolve themselves into a higher unity.[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

105 Adapted from The Navigator Bible Studies Handbook, NavPress 1983

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

DEVOUTION OF THE WEEK NUMBER 30-A SIMPLE METHOD OF UNDERSTANDING KEY VERSES

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 23rd of July:

July 23: Simple Method Of Studying Key Verses

How would you like a simple method of studying key verses in the Bible?98

First, copy the verse from one or more versions of the Bible. Write it under the heading VERSE FOR STUDY

Second, under the heading MESSAGE, write out in your own words what the verse says—what it commands, teaches, warns of, or promises.

Third, look at the verses immediately preceding and following the verse. These are known as the context of the verse. Under the heading CONTEXT, record first the thoughts added by the verses preceding your study verse. Record the thoughts added by the verses following the study verse.

Fourth, record the questions that the verse raises in your mind, or the problems you think it might pose for yourself or someone else. These can be recorded under the heading QUESTIONS.

Finally, APPLICATION: Describe one specific way you can change your attitudes or actions because of the teaching of this verse.

Suggested verses to study:

Matthew 4:19 (18–20)—Follow Christ

Matthew 5:6 (5–7)—Hunger for righteousness

Matthew 5:11 (10–12)—Persecution

Matthew 5:44 (43–45)—Love your enemies

Matthew 6:6 (5–7)—Prayer

Matthew 9:37 (36–38)—Labourers

Matthew 23:11 (10–12)—Spiritual coldness

Matthew 28:19 (18–20)—Make disciples

Romans 1:16 (15–17)—Not ashamed of the Gospel

Romans 1:22 (21–23)—Becoming fools

Romans 6:13 (12–14)—Offer your bodies to God

Romans 8:34 (33–35)—We are not under condemnation

Romans 12:15 (14–16)—Empathy

Romans 15:2 (1–3)—Build others up

Galatians 4:2 (1–3)—Humility

Galatians 4:30 (29–31)—Do not grieve the Holy Spirit

Galatians 6:2 (1–3)—Carry each other’s burdens

Galatians 6:8 (7–9)—What you sow, you reap[1]

Blessings,
Tony Hodge-Williams

 

98 Adapted from, The Navigator Bible Studies Handbook, NavPress, 1983

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: Number 29: IS YOUR FAITH COOLING?

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 16th of July:July 16: Why Is It So Many Believers Grow Cold, Lose The Fire, And Peak Out Spiritually?This was part of a conversation I had this morning with a 74 year old war horse of the faith who is still going strong for God. My mind reflected back on my early morning meditation on the passage in Revelation where Jesus admonished the Asian churches to stay on track spiritually. In effect he told them:

WAKE UP!95

That is, stay vigilant like a person anticipating a thief: “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13) Don’t be lulled into the spiritual doldrums.

HOLD ON!

Seize what is already yours! Retain it. Don’t let it go! Don’t go back on what God has already given you! “If he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” (Hebrews 10:38)

KEEP YOUR FIRST LOVE!

Recently I received an e-mail from a Christian friend of long-standing. Anticipating a spiritual challenge, my heart sank in disappointment as he launched into a discussion of his twin passions of soccer and the stock market. Scant mention was made of the things of God. Retaining his “first love”? One wonders. (Jeremiah 2:2; Matthew 24:12)

“DON’T COMPROMISE WITH SIN!”

In two areas: (1) Idolatry: “Is there anything that commands your affections more than the Lord Jesus Christ?” (2) Sexual impurity: “Is the trend in your thought life and actions moving toward increased purity, or increased enslavement?” (2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:3–7)

“BE FAITHFUL TO THE DEATH!”

Tough times lay ahead, warned Jesus, so be prepared to suffer, even to the point of death. Many times I have rehearsed what I would do if it came down to a choice between preserving my life or confessing Christ. If pressed, I would, by his grace, point to my forehead and say, “Put the bullet right here!

QUESTION: Music scores are often characterised by the diminuendo and the crescendo. With that metaphor in mind, are you moving toward a diminuendo-type existence of selfish refuge, self-indulgence and limited vision, or toward a crescendo of faith, sacrificial service, and investment in that which is eternal?[1]

Blessings, Tony Hodge-Williams

 Wake up: Revelation 3:1–6; Hold on: Revelation 3:7–13; Keep your first love: Revelation 2:1–7; 3:15–22; Don’t compromise: 2:12–29; Be faithful to the death: 2:8–11. Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts o (WORDsearch, 2000).

DEVOTION OF THE WEEK: NUMBER 28—PEACE & LIBERTY IN YOUR LIFE
I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 9 th of July:
July 9: Want To Have Peace And Liberty In Your Life?
Then consider this92:
l. Strive to do another’s will rather than our own.
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants
to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43b–45)
2. Choose always to have less rather than more.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world,
and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of
all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:6–10)
3. Seek the lower places in life, dying to the need to be recognised and important. “Do not be snobbish, high-minded, (or) exclusive, but give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits … Everything (the Pharisees) do is done for men to see. They love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them
‘Rabbi.” (Romans 12:16 Amplified; Matthew 23:5a–7)
4. Always and in everything desire that the will of God may be completely fulfilled in you.
Christ: “Fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup (the cross) be taken from me. Yet not as 1 will, but as you will.’ ” (Matthew 26:39b) Paul: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.” (Acts 20:24a)1
Blessings,
Tony Hodge-Williams
92 Imitation of Christ by Thomas a’ Kempis (Scriptures added by me)
1 Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000)

 DEVOTION OF THE WEEK: NUMBER 27—GOD’S WILL?.
I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 18 th of June: July 2: How To Know The Will Of God
Recently I was having breakfast with a businessman who mentioned the fact that he had been offered a very attractive business opportunity which would mean a significant increase in income, but would necessitate a move to a city in another part of the world. So he asked me, “Dwight, how do I discern the will of God?” Good question!
You may want to ask yourself the following questions as you seek to determine the will of God: 90
• “Am I putting God’s desire ahead of my own?” (Matthew 26:39b) ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’
• “Will it help me to love God and others more?” (Mark 4:19, 20)
19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.’
• “How does this action relate to my personal involvement in fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission?” (Matthew 28:18–20)
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have
commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’
• “Will this help me lead a more holy life?” (1 Peter 1:14–16)
14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written:
‘Be holy, because I am holy.’
• “Will this course of action increase my personal knowledge of Christ?” (Philippians 3:7, 8)
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my
Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 90 The questions are taken from Design for Discipleship, Book #4, page 31, NavPress
Page 2 of 2Before we can discern the “unknown” will of God, we need to be sure we are obeying
the “known” will of God. Basically, the “known” will of God is to obey: The Great Commandment: “Love God with all your heart … soul and … mind,” which always translates into obedience to His Word. (Matthew 22:37, 38; John 14:21)
The Great Commission: “Love your neighbour as yourself,” which translates into a life of loving service with a view toward people knowing Christ and growing in that relationship. (Matthew 22:39; 1 John 3:16)
QUESTION: Are you at the present time actively pursuing the “known” will of God? If not, my guess is that perceiving the “unknown” will of God may prove to be a formidable, if
not an impossible task.1
Blessings,
Tony Hodge-William

DEVOTION OF THE WEEK: NUMBER 26—THEBOTTOM LINE.
I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts
of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 18
th of June:
June 25: What Is To Be The Bottom Line In Our Ministry To Others?
Consider this:
“But the goal of our instructions is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and
a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5)
1. “LOVE FROM A PURE HEART”
That is: Simply loving people with no strings attached.
While they were butchering Jesus on a pole, he cried, “Father, forgive them, for they
do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34).
That is pure love. And that is how we are to love others.
2. “LOVE FROM A CLEAR CONSCIENCE”
That is: Simply ministering to people out of pure motives: Guilt free. Only possible if:
• I understand what God wants me to do: My calling.
• I accept my God-given limitations in fulfilling that calling: My humanity.
• I appropriate the unconditional grace of God for my life and calling: My resources. “… Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1) “Therefore, since we have this ministry, we have received mercy …” (2 Corinthians 4:1)
3. “LOVE FROM A SINCERE FAITH” That is: Simply loving people without hypocrisy. (Romans 12:9a)
Judas’ kiss in betraying Christ is illustrative of hypocritical love. (Luke 22:47, 48)1
Blessings,
Tony Hodge-Williams
1 Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000)

DEVOTION OF THE WEEK: NUMBER 25 IMPACT!
I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 18th of June: June 18: Impact!
I live 14 stories above two busy crossroads. From time-to-time I will hear the screech of tyres … silence … and then IMPACT!
IMPACT! Isn’t that the effect we are to have with the Gospel upon our lost friends. But the IMPACT is to be primarily through the power of example: Salt that penetrates, and light that illuminates from our life to theirs. (Matthew 5:13, 16)
Paul told the Philippians, “I have given you a pattern” by which to live. (Philippians 3:17) That is, he had left an impression, a stamp, or imprint upon them. He had IMPACTED their lives by the power of his godly example.
I am reminded of missionary martyr Jim Elliot’s prayer, “Lord, make my life a crossroads in the life of every person I meet.”
Years ago I played racquetball each week with a professional man who had given scant attention to spiritual matters. He did however pride himself on his self-control. Yet, occasionally in the course of a heated contest he would “lose it” by cursing or throwing his racquet across the court.
I can remember praying on numerous occasions during those intense moments of competition, “Lord, help me to exhibit your love and character on this court. Help me to keep my cool.”
One day, after six months of intense competition, he asked if we might study the Scriptures together. Today he is a committed follower of Christ. Again, the power of example. IMPACT.
QUESTION: If it is true that the non-verbals do in fact speak more loudly than the verbals, what messages are you sending to your lost friends? To your children?
• Messages of anger … greed … pride … and self-centeredness?
• Or of brokenness … kindness, humility, servanthood, and dependence upon God?
How you answer that question spells the difference as to whether you are penetrating and illuminating them with the Gospel, or impeding them from the Gospel.1
Blessings, Tony Hodge-Williams

DEVOTION OF THE WEEK: NUMBER 24— DID YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU?

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts
of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 11th of June:
June 11: How Am I Doing In Expressing Love To Those The Closest To Me?
“If I speak with the eloquence of men and of angels, but have no love, I become no
more than blaring brass or crashing cymbal.
“If I have the gift of foretelling the future and hold in my mind not only all human
knowledge but the very secrets of God, and if I also have absolute faith which can move
mountains, but have no love, I achieve precisely nothing.
“This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being
constructive.
“It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas
of its own importance.
“Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage.
“It is not touchy.
“It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the
contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.
“Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can
outlast anything.
“It is in fact the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”
831
Blessings,
Tony Hodge-Williams
83 Phillips—1 Corinthians 13:1–8
1 Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

BROKENNESS

DEVOTION OF THE WEEK: NUMBER 23—BROKENNESS
I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts
of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 4 of June:
June 4: Brokenness
Brokenness is the one quality God looks for in visiting and enabling the needy:
61 “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to
proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim
freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,” Isaiah 61:1
PROUD, UNBROKEN PEOPLE BROKEN PEOPLE
Work to maintain an image/protect their
reputation
Die to their own reputation
Find it difficult to share their spiritual
needs with others
Are willing to be open/transparent with
others
Want to be sure nobody finds out about
their sin
Are willing to be exposed (once broken,
you don’t care who knows as you have
nothing to lose)
Have a hard time saying, “I was wrong;
will you forgive me?”
Are quick to admit failure and to seek
forgiveness
Deal in generalities when confessing Deal in specifics their sin
Are concerned about the consequences of
their sins
Are grieved over the cause/root of their
sins
Are remorseful over their sin; over the
fact that they got caught/found out
Are repentant over their sin (forsake it)
Wait for others to come and ask for
forgiveness
Take the initiative to be reconciled
Compare themselves with others and feel
deserving of honour
Compare themselves to the holiness of
God and feel a desperate need for mercy
Are blind to their true heart condition Walk in the light
Don’t think they have anything to repent
of
Have a continual heart attitude of
repentance
Page 2 of 2
Don’t think they need revival (but
everybody else does!)
Continually sense their need for a fresh
encounter with the filling of His Spirit!811
Blessings,
Tony Hodge-Williams

DEVOTION OF THE WEEK: NUMBER 22—THE GUY WHO MAKES IT!

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts
of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 28
th of May:
May 28: We All Admire The Guy Who “Makes It”
We’re talking about that “Fortune 500” type who grabs the brass ring and makes things
happen!
Here’s the brief autobiography of one such man:
“I built …
“I made …
“I bought …
“I owned …
“I amassed …
“I acquired …”
And finally:
“I BECAME …”
In other words, he arrived, having achieved affluence. Visibility. Status. Perhaps even
respect.
And then he indulged! “I denied myself nothing …” (Ecclesiastes 2:1–10)
But here is the kicker: According to his autobiography:
“When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”
(Ecclesiastes 2:11)
How is this possible? Had he not achieved it all? The answer is, “No, he had not.” And
the reason?
• None of his achievements could fill his inner emptiness. As Pascal sagaciously
observed, “Inside every person there is a God-shaped vacuum that only God can fill.”
• Jesus Christ cautioned, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole
world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?… A man’s life
does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Matthew 16:26; Luke 12:15)
How tragic it would be to have climbed the ladder of success, only to realise too late
(as did Solomon) that you had leaned it against the wrong wall.
Page 2 of 2
SO THE QUESTION IS: “Which wall is your ladder leaning against?”1
Blessings,
Tony Hodge-Williams2
SO THE QUESTION IS: “Which wall is your ladder leaning against?”1
Blessings,
Tony Hodge-Williams

Devotion of the Week: Number 21

Picture the Scene.

 I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 20th of May:

May 20: Picture The Scene69

Three years of camaraderie, miracles, and the infusion of his life into theirs, now culminating in a final meal together … before the tragic onslaught of denial and death.

In a few hours:

Judas would knife him in the back.

Peter would crumble under pressure.

The rest would run away in fear.

Fully aware of these events, Jesus:

Knelt before Judas and lovingly washed his feet.

As he did Peter’s

And the rest.

It’s called unconditional love.

Grace unmerited.

Of this love the Lord Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you … As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:15, 34b)

QUESTION: To what extent of loving servanthood are you willing to go for the sake of those whom God has placed in your path?

Washing traitors’ feet and dying on an instrument of execution for a pack of rebels was his level of sacrifice.

What is yours?[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

69 John 13

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: number 20—

God’s Response to Pride & Humility.

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 14th of May:

May 14: God’s Response To Pride And Humility

From the 14th floor of my apartment I am looking out over the City of Singapore on an early morning as the sun peeks its way through the clouds.

Across the heavily trafficked road beneath me lies a mud-soaked block of land a city block in size that is under preparation for the building of a massive apartment complex.

Container-type housing of weatherboard construction dot the edges of the property where immigrant labourers live. Like ants below, I can observe 2 or 3 of them as they pick their way through the mud while moving from one wood-framed living structure to the next.

In juxtaposition to this mired block lie high rise apartments 25 stories in height that are architecturally modern, and possess a breathtaking view of the harbor. The expensive cars parked below give evidence of easy affluence.

In my reading this morning from Isaiah 40, I was struck with the fact that God has great contempt for anything that smacks of humanity’s pride, while possessing limitless compassion for the weak and downtrodden of this earth:

  • “He brings princes to nothing and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing … (he) sweeps them away like chaff.” (verses 23, 24)
  • “He gathers the lambs in his arms, and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young … He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (verses 11, 29)

Appearances of course can be deceiving and only God knows the condition of the heart, as people of every station in life represent both the proud and the humble.

But one must admit that humility does not come easily when one possesses what the world esteems as status and success.

So, if you happen to be among the so-called “successful” or “privileged” of this world, you may want to keep in mind God’s admonition:

Jeremiah 9:23–24 (NIV 2011) “23 This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 24 but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”[1]

 

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: number 19—Christ Transfigured

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 7th of May:

May 7: Christ’s Transfiguration

Christ’s transfiguration reveals four desires he has for you:

  1. He wants to get alone with you:

Jesustook Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.63

Modern life can be unkind to the soul with the pressure, the pace, the distractions … and the allure. Because Jesus understood the deadening impact of the world upon the inner life of his men, he deemed it necessary to draw them apart unto himself.

If our extended times with God are sparse, could it be because we fear aloneness with him may expose the barrenness of our soul?

  1. He wants to reveal his glory to you:

As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightningPeter and his companionssaw his glory …”64

In the process of moulding the character of his men who would change the world, Jesus knew they must (in a measure) comprehend his holiness. Thus, the “Transfiguration”. And so it is to be with us: At the very core of our spiritual survival and development lies the necessity of grasping a view of his glory … his holiness.

  1. He wants to create a hunger for himself in you:

Peter said to him,Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ ”65

For a brief and glorious moment, restless, blustering Peter caught sight of Jesus’ majesty that provoked in him a longing to remain in his presence. As his pilgrims, should not that kind of hunger be the norm for us?

  1. He wants to speak to you:

A voice came from the cloud, saying,This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.66

 63 Luke 9:28–35

64 Luke 9:28–35

65 Luke 9:28–35

66 Luke 9:28–35

I wonder what truths the Spirit would whisper to our languid souls, were we to learn the art of listening over talking.[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-Williams

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

DEVOTION OF THE WEEK: NUMBER 18--MARGINS

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 30th of April:

April 30: Creating “Margin” In Our Lives57

Each page in this book has a margin. You wouldn’t read this “Fact” if the print ran to the edges of the paper because it would offend your sense of proportion. In similar fashion, our lives also need margin. They need proportion.

Margin is:

  • “The gap between rest and exhaustion …
  • “The leeway we once had between ourselves and our limits …
  • “Something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations …”

If you are running thin on margin these days, my guess is you are on overload in at least some of the following areas:

  • Too many commitments.
  • Too much competition.
  • Too much debt.
  • Too many expectations.
  • Too much ministry.

Here are six steps we can take to ensure margin is built into our lives:

  • Learn to expect the unexpected. Because almost everything takes longer than anticipated, learn to build margin into your planning.
  • Learn to say no. Contrary to your perception, you are not indispensable.
  • Cut down on the activities as they have a way of self-perpetuating; of multiplying.
  • Practice simplicity and contentment. Choose to live with less.
  • Get less done but do the right things. Assess all your activities as to their spiritual authenticity.
  • Decide to live the life of Jesus … whatever the cost:

“Let your sweet reasonableness, your forbearance, your being satisfied with less than your due, become known to all men … Stop worrying about even one thing, but in everything … let your requests … be made known in the presence of God, and the peace of God … shall mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4–6—Wuest Translation)[1]

Blessings,
                        Tony Hodge-W

 

57 Quotes and most of the ideas are drawn from Dr. R. A. Swenson’s book Margin, NavPress.

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

DEVOTION OF THE WEEK NUMBER 17: DEFEATING WORRY

 

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 23rd of April:

April 23: Defeating Worry

Here are seven truths that may help you in defeating worry:50

  1. If God gave us the great gift of life, surely He will give us the things necessary to support that life:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25)

  1. Since there is no worry in the birds’ lives, why should there be in yours?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26)

  1. Worry is useless and changes nothing:

Which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27)

  1. If God gives such beauty to a short-lived flower, how much more will He care for a person?

See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:29, 30)

  1. Worry is characteristic of the unbeliever, and not of one who knows what God is like. Worry is essentially distrust of God:

For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (Matthew 6:32)

  1. Worry can be defeated by concentrating first on the kingdom of God:

This, then is how you should pray: … ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ ” (Matthew 6:9a, 10)

  1. Worry can be defeated when we acquire the art of living one day at a time:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)[1]

 

50 Adapted from William Barclay’s Commentary on Matthew

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

HOW BITTER WE ARE!

DEVOTION OF THE WEEK: NUMBER 16—HOW BITTER WE ARE!

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts
of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 16th of April:
April 16: Bitterness And The Sovereignty Of God
Isn’t it true that you and I have every reason to be bitter? Are there any among us who
have not been exploited, abused, cheated or ignored?
So how do we deal with our bitterness?
Joseph in the Old Testament serves as an example of someone who had just cause for
bitterness and yet was able to draw on God’s grace to surmount it:
• As a lad, God gave him a dream that his brothers would serve him. In jealous
retaliation, they sold him to a caravan headed for Egypt.
• Ending up as a slave in the house of a military leader, he was falsely accused of
rape and imprisoned for an interminable period of time.
• Through a remarkable series of “circumstances” he became the prime minister
of Egypt. Years later, his devious brothers find themselves in his presence. With every reason
to visit revenge upon them, Joseph forgave them and acknowledged God’s sovereign plan in
spite of their cruel treatment:
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now
being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)
And so it is to be with us. We must grasp the fact that it is God’s sovereign intention to
use the uneven circumstances of life to conform us into his image:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who
have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be
conformed to the likeness of his Son.” (Romans 8:28, 29a)
If you are struggling with bitterness, let me make a couple of suggestions: Make a list
of their causes. Then go down the list item by item asking God to use each of these painful
experiences to make you more Christlike. Then ask him to help you forgive the persons who
were responsible. Often, sharing your struggle with another helps in the healing process.
Understand that it is only as we draw upon God’s grace that we can turn our bitterness
into praise. The alternative is bondage to a morose, angry and self-centered life that only serves
to poison everyone around us and thwart our ability to influence others for Christ:
“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause
trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15)1
Blessings,
Tony Hodge-Williams

DEVOTION OF THE WEEK: NUMBER 15—ARE WE CONTENT?

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 8th of April: April 8:

Contentment … Is It Achievable?
J. P. Morgan (1837–1913), the renowned financial and industrial magnate was once asked what it would take to make him happy. His reply? “Just a little bit more.”
By his response Mr. Morgan was affirming the truth of Proverbs 27:20: “The lust of the eyes of man is never satisfied.” (Amplified) How then can a person achieve CONTENTMENT?

Let me suggest five Biblical principles:
1. Contentment is achieved when seeking God and his kingdom are our first priority:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear … Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:25, 33)
2. Contentment is achieved by believing God will meet our needs: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
3. Contentment is achieved by graciously accepting what God allows into our lives:
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances … whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me
strength.” (Philippians 4:12b, 13)
4. Contentment is achieved through a life of simplicity over greed: “But godliness with contentment is great gain … If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these … Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income … I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner …” (1 Timothy 6:6, 8; Ecclesiastes 5:10, 13)
5. Contentment is achieved by enjoying hard work and its remuneration: “It is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor …
When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:18, 19)1

1 Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000)

 

DEVOTION OF THE WEEK: NUMBER 14—ABANDONED BY GOD?

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 2nd of April: April 2: Ever Feel Abandoned By God?
• Your prayers seem to go unanswered.
• Evidence of God’s working is scarce.
• You and fellow-believers languish while the godless appear to flourish. Is this God’s cruel joke? Or could there be a Divine reason behind our sense of abandonment?
Is it possible that God, who is intent on teaching us to live by faith, purposely removes evidence of himself from us in order to strengthen our faith? What quality of belief is required when his documentation is everywhere present?
Our faith is in its purest form when, amidst scant evidence for the existence of God, we still choose to believe.
This was precisely Job’s experience: Seemingly abandoned by God, and having sustained great personal loss, he exclaims,
“Though He slay me, yet will I trust him … I go forward but he is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive him. But he knows the way I take and when he has tried me I shall come forth as gold … he performs what is appointed for me …” (Job 13:15; 23:8, 10, 14a) A person who elects to walk with God in those bleak periods of spiritual desolation is indeed a lethal instrument in the hand of God. Consider C. S. Lewis’ perspective from his writings in “The Screwtape Letters”. In the following monologue Satan is coaching his protégé Wormwood: “Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human looks (around) … a universe from which every trace of him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”As a fellow pilgrim, may I ask you: “Have you resolved in your soul to follow the Master, whether there is evidence or not? Whether he blesses you or not?” Of such a person God is well-pleased! (Hebrews 11:6)1
Blessings,
Tony Hodge-Williams

1 Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000)

DEVOTION OF THE WEEK: NUMBER 13—AN INNOCENT BEGINNING

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 29th of March:

March 26: It All Starts Out So Innocently

  • An intriguing plot
  • An hilariously funny comedy
  • A human interest story

So you settle back after a demanding day to take in a delicious experience in entertainment.

And then, almost imperceptibly, the off-colour jokes emerge, seductive dress appears; questionable comments began sprinkling the dialogue. Four-letter words surface. Traditional or Biblical values are pre-empted, ignored, or mocked.

But you’re into the story now, and so you rationalise:

  • “The plot is so good …”
  • “I’ve got to find out what happens …”
  • “It’s only a small part of the movie … just one or two brief scenes …”

As one whose life bears the stamp of Christ, how should you handle these situations?

Certainly in our battle for spiritual integrity we must consider such truths as:

“I will set no worthless thing before my eyes.” (Psalm 101:3a)

“The one who says he abides in him ought himself to walk in the same manner as he walked.” (1 John 2:6)

We are compelled to ask, “Is this something in which Jesus would engage?”

So … if you tend to waffle when it comes to maintaining Biblical standards in the area of entertainment, why not carefully consider Philippians 4:8 and decide now just where you plan to draw the line the next time you are drawn into a compromising situation

“Finally, brothers, 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)

The person who has determined to apply Biblically-based values to entertainment, should be prepared to incur the wrath or rejection of friends … especially from some who are professing Christians.[1]

 

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

Devotion of the Week: number 12—Eternity is Waiting!

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 19th of March:

March 19: Life Is Short, Death Is Sure, Eternity Awaits

“We have finished our years like a sigh.”37

As I write, an Asia-Pacific-wide economic conference is in progress in this City. Red carpets are rolled out, the press stands at the ready, police sirens blare, and people gawk as the influential and powerful confer over economic policies affecting tens of millions of lives.

Impressive. Daunting.

Recently the founder of a Fortune 500 company passed into eternity. I had the privilege of knowing this man and his family. He was impressive! Daunting!

Shortly after his death, his son dined in our home and told of his father’s waning months, as cancer slowly took its toll. This once powerful giant of American industry withered into a shell, finding the most basic functions a chore.

He had, as the Psalmist forewarned, “finished [his] years like a sigh” (or “whisper”).

And that will be the inevitable conclusion of these powerful leaders attending this Asia-Pacific economic conference … As it will also be with us.

PERSPECTIVE is what is needed here: Life is short. Death is sure. Eternity awaits us.

Just walk through a cemetery and observe the infamous and the unknowns, along with the rich and powerful. All share the same piece of real estate.

There is no status in a cemetery.

Just as men share a common place of burial, men apart from Christ—regardless of “standing,” will meet God in a common judgment:

“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened … and they were judged, every one of them …” (Revelation 20:12, 13a)

The Psalmist’s wise words speak to our soul,

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”38

QUESTION: As you contemplate the inescapable reality that your life is moving toward death’s conclusion, are you presently applying your heart to wisdom?[1]

 

37 Psalm 90:9

38 Psalm 90:12

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL

Devotion of the Week: number 12

—Eternity is Waiting! I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the 19th of March: March 19: Life Is Short, Death Is Sure, Eternity Awaits “We have finished our years like a sigh.” As I write, an Asia-Pacific-wide economic conference is in progress in this City. Red carpets are rolled out, the press stands at the ready, police sirens blare, and people gawk as the influential and powerful confer over economic policies affecting tens of millions of lives. Impressive. Daunting. Recently the founder of a Fortune 500 company passed into eternity. I had the privilege of knowing this man and his family. He was impressive! Daunting!Shortly after his death, his son dined in our home and told of his father’s waning months, as cancer slowly took its toll. This once powerful giant of American industry withered into a shell, finding the most basic functions a chore.He had, as the Psalmist forewarned, “finished [his] years like a sigh(orwhisper).And that will be the inevitable conclusion of these powerful leaders attending this Asia-Pacific economic conference … As it will also be with us. PERSPECTIVE is what is needed here: Life is short. Death is sure. Eternity awaits us.Just walk through a cemetery and observe the infamous and the unknowns, along with the rich and powerful. All share the same piece of real estate. There is no status in a cemetery. Just as men share a common place of burial, men apart from Christ—regardless of “standing,” will meet God in a common judgment: And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and the books were openedand they were judged, every one of them …” (Revelation 20:12, 13a)

The Psalmist’s wise words speak to our soul, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”38

QUESTION: As you contemplate the inescapable reality that your life is moving toward death’s conclusion, are you presently applying your heart to wisdom?[1]

 37 Psalm 90:9

38 Psalm 90:12

[1] Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL

February 19, 2023

DEVOTION OF THE WEEK:

 NUMBER 11–

HOW’S OUR PATIENCE?

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts
of the Matter”.

Here’s his devotion for the 12th of March:
March 12: One Of Our Problems With God Is That He Seems To Be On A Different
Time Schedule
Living as we do in the fast-paced world of deadlines and a “Time is Money” paradigm,
the idea of waiting around for God to do something comes off as impractical, mystical, and …
well—Irritating. We can identify with the guy who prayed for patience, “Lord, I want patience,
and I want it now!!”
And yet … that is often what God expects us to do: Wait. We have to admit that his
sense of timing often mystifies us:
• He calls Abraham, promises him a great nation and then waits 25 years before
allowing him to have his first son, Isaac. (See Genesis 12; 16).
• He allows the Nation Israel to languish under Egypt’s heel for 430 years of
slavery before calling Moses to their rescue. (See Exodus 12:40).
• And when he finally does call Moses, he first has him out tending sheep for 40
years. (See Exodus 2; 3)
Certainly we can concur with God’s statement, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways …” (Isaiah 55:8)
So let me ask you: Are you usually rushed? In a hurry? Driving toward a goal? Anxious
about getting things done?
Could it be that from time to time you get out in front of God by pushing things your
way … accomplishing your agenda on your time table?
Our Sovereign Father who knows the end from the beginning, promises to make “All
things beautiful in his time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Everything God intends, will happen: “Surely, just as I have intended so it has
happened, and just as I have planned, so it will stand.” (Isaiah 14:24)
Perhaps we need to be reminded that the Scriptures usually equate rushing with sinning:
“It is not good for a person to be without knowledge, and he who makes haste with his
feet errs.” (Proverbs 19:2)
So take heart dear friend in Christ. Rest in the Psalmist’s admonition to “Let go, relax,
and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Our loving Father is profoundly interested in every detail of your life. He will see you
through to the end … if you will let him do it his way and on his timetable.1
1 Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000)

February 19, 2023

 DEVOTION OF THE WEEK:

 NUMBER 10–PERSONA NON GRATA

 

I’m reading through some daily devotionals from Newel Hillis in his book called “Facts of the Matter”. Here’s his devotion for the

5th of March:
March 5: Persona Non Grata
“The day after I retired I walked down the hall of the Company and I realised I was
‘persona non grata.’ ” Vice President of an international corporation.
The day will come when your status and influence in the business or professional
community will diminish. You will suffer the loss of: Position Influence And with that, you run the risk of also suffering the loss of:
Identity Confidence Motivation33 Not everyone handles these changes well. Dr. Hube Mitchell made this sobering observation, “As I observe the great men of God, few end well,”
The aging process is inescapable: “All our days have declined … we have finished our years like a sigh (or whisper).” (Psalm 90:9)
Yet, amidst this loss, it is God’s intention that we continue to live lives of significance… to be fruitful: “The righteous man will flourish like a palm tree … They will still yield fruit
in old age …” (Psalm 92:12a, 14a) For this to occur, it is imperative that today we are finding our sense of identification and significance in Christ, and in him alone: “As far as this world is concerned, you are already dead, and your true life is a hidden one in God, through Christ …” (Colossians 3:3—Phillips Translation) “God forbid that I should boast about anything or anybody except the cross of our Lord
Jesus Christ, which means that the world is a dead thing to me and I am a dead thing to the world.” (Galatians 6:13, 14—Phillips Translation) Let us determine to prove Hube Mitchell wrong: By the grace of God, we will end well.1
Blessings,
Tony Hodge-Williams
33 Compliments of Dr. Jerry White
1 Newell Dwight Hillis, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals (WORDsearch, 2000).

 

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