Be a glimmer of hope!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Backsliding

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Daniel 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

Most people have never heard of the first overseas missionary from America to Burma, Adoniram Judson. Judson was a brilliant man who learned to read when he was only 3. He went to college when he was just 16. He graduated valedictorian of his class at the age of 19. He was the son of a pastor, having been raised with Godly values, however while in college, he met a student named Jacob Eames, a deist who denied the miracles of the Bible. By the time Judson finished college he had turned completely from the Lord. For a short while, he lived a vagabond and reckless life, until a series of God-incidences turned his life inside out.

During this time, he left to visit his uncle, but instead, unexpectedly encountered a pious young man who amazed him by his strong Christian convictions, yet without being austere or dictatorial. The Lord placed this young man in the path of Judson to recapture the heart of the prodigal.

The very next night, he stayed at a small village inn where he had never been before. The innkeeper apologized that his sleep might be interrupted because a critically ill man was staying in the next room. The following day, as Judson was leaving, he asked the innkeeper about the sick man, and was informed that the man had passed during the night. Judson then asked the innkeeper, “Do you know who he was?” The man replied, “Oh yes. Young man from the college in Providence. Name was Eames, Jacob Eames.”

Upon hearing it was his old friend that just passed, Judson could hardly move. He stayed there for hours pondering death and eternity. He thought, if Jacob Eames was right, then his death was just a meaningless event. Judson could not believe it, and said, “That hell should open in that country inn and snatch Jacob Eames, his dearest friend and guide, from the next bed-this could not, simply could not, be pure coincidence.”

From that moment forward, Judson knew God was real. He rededicated his life and became a missionary in Burma for nearly 40 years. Before he died, he translated the Bible into Burmese, and planted over 100 churches.

Perhaps God will place someone in your path today because He wants you to be a light so that his or her life might be turned around! With the greatest harvest fast approaching, each of us is called to the mission field – the one right outside our door!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Backsliding

Be Faithful to the End!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Backsliding

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

A careful reading through the life of the Apostle Paul will yield insight concerning those who surrounded him. In this brief devotion, I want to focus on two of Paul's friends — Luke and Demas.

Luke was a true and faithful friend to Paul, staying with and supporting him to the very end of his life, even through the worst adversities (2 Timothy 4:11). Then, there was another friend, whose name was Demas, about whom Paul wrote positively at first, (Col. 4:14; Philemon 1:24) but who did not remain faithful to the end. Paul records that Demas forsook him because he "loved this present world." (2 Timothy 4:10)

As the end of the age approaches, we also will be tested as to where our love lies; with the Father, or with the world. The apostle John writes, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15)  I do not believe that Demas lost his salvation, but he did lose his capacity to sense and express the love of the Father, which damaged his testimony, his spiritual relationships, and undoubtedly cost him heavenly rewards. What kind of friend will we be to God? Will we be faithful, or will we allow the love of this world to quench our fire, and compromise our relationships?

My encouragement to you is to be faithful until the end. Don't forget that Yeshua gave a warning to end-time saints, saying, "because iniquity abounds, the love of many shall grow cold." Become a friend like Luke, and learn from the life of Demas — do not allow love for the world to quench your love for God.  Don't forget, a true friend loves…at all times!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Backsliding

It happened to the best of them!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Backsliding

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Psalms 51:10-12 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

David is called a “man after God’s own heart.” Considering that he lusted after his neighbor's wife, committed adultery with her, and had her husband murdered, the Lord's description of him is remarkable. How could a man who was convicted a murderer and an adulterer also be called one after God’s own heart?

The answer is simple but profound: God did not regard David according to the actions of his sinful nature, but according to the deepest motivations and disposition of his heart and will; and these were revealed by David's response to the conviction which Nathan the prophet brought upon him; a conviction which brought immediate total confession and repentance, and a broken and contrite heart. This response exemplified the shepherd king's walk with God throughout the entire journey of his life .

If, after David had fallen he made excuses, rationalized, or resisted the clear message of his sinfulness it would have been a totally different story. His heart would have revealed a self-justifying, self-righteous attitude with no realization of his absolute need for God's mercy. This would have defeated and defined him as a man after his own heart. But the immediacy and completeness of David's confession qualified him for the Lord's forgiveness and mercy, saving him from death and restoring him to that most treasured relationship of his life, his relationship with YHVH.

The consequences of his sin were very serious and followed David all the days of his life. But he demonstrated the genuineness of his repentance by never railing against God for the troubles which followed him as a consequence of his sin with Batsheva. David always rose up, submitted, and humbly praised God, writing wonderful psalms and pouring out his heart before the Lord. He served God and worshiped Him all his life. So the Lord God didn't reckon David’s life by his fall – but by his walk, and by his heart.

We all stumble in many ways, but God does not define us by our failures. It's our love for Him and our honesty before Him that reveals a true walk of faith! So if you fell, you messed up, your sin got the best of you, then come clean. Make your confession. Accept the consequences without complaining, allow the Lord to forgive and restore you completely, and continue on your journey with Him. That was David's heart. His example is worthy to follow. May you also be one of those that lived their life “after God’s own heart!”

Worthy Christian Devotions » Backsliding

Spend the Weekend Seeking His Still Small Voice!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Backsliding

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

1 Kings 19:11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.

The prophet Elijah, through his dramatic demonstration of the LORD's authority and power, inspired repentance in the people of Israel, calling them to exercise His judgment on idolaters by slaying 450 prophets of Ba'al and 400 prophets of Asherah on Mount Carmel. Yet this spiritual victory was followed by a severe demonic reprisal through the woman Jezebel. Her words so terrified Elijah that he literally ran for his life. The conflicts in the spirit realm are truly awesome. The moment of Elijah's greatest victory became the very context for his greatest temptation, as he was devastated, discouraged and depressed to the point of hopeless despair by Jezebel's vengeful threat to kill him.

But the Lord had not abandoned His man. In the midst of Elijah's flight YHVH sent His angel to feed and encourage the prophet for his forty day journey from Beersheva to Mount Horeb, where he undoubtedly expected protection at the mountain where Moses had first encountered YHVH.

Completely alone, Elijah takes refuge in a cave, where the Lord finds him and initiates a conversation which seems almost casual; "What are you doing here, Elijah?" The prophet begins to pour his heart out, complaining about his isolated desperate condition. God's reply is another dramatic demonstration, but this one is different and personally tailored for Elijah's discouragement. Whirlwind, earthquake, and fire are all devoid of His Presence. ….but there, in a still small voice, the prophet hears His Lord…

Perhaps unrepentant sinners and backslidden believers require dramatic demonstrations, catastrophes and devastating judgments to awaken their attention to God's presence and will. But we who love Him are invited to a more intimate relationship; one which takes place in privacy and quiet listening. This weekend could be a good time to renew yours…

Worthy Christian Devotions » Backsliding

Anyone can be restored!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Backsliding

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

There is a fascinating true story about the Apostle John narrated by the early church "Father", Eusebius, well worth reading.

The account goes that the elderly John took an affection and interest in a young man from Ephesus and subsequently entrusted him to the care of a bishop in the vicinity, and that, after a season, this young man became entangled with a band of criminals, and was corrupted by them, finally becoming their leader. When John returned after some time to search for the young man, expecting to find him spiritually well and maturing, the bishop despondently informed John of his fate.

Eusebius wrote, "The apostle tore his clothing, beat his head, and groaned, 'A fine guardian I left for our brother's soul! But get me a horse and someone show me the way.' He rode off from the church, just as he was. When he arrived at the hideout and was seized by the outlaws' sentries, he shouted, 'This is what I have come for, take me to your leader!'"

"When John approached and the young leader recognized him, he turned and fled in shame. But John ran after him as hard as he could, forgetting his age, and calling out, 'Why are you running away from me, child – from your own father, unarmed and old? Pity me, child, don't fear me! I will give account to Christ for you, and if necessary, gladly suffer death and give my life for yours as the Lord suffered death for us. Stop! Believe! Christ sent me.'"

"The young man stopped, stared at the ground, threw down his weapons and wept bitterly. Flinging his arms around the old man, he begged forgiveness, baptized a second time with his own tears…[John] led him back and did not leave him until – through prayer, fasting, and instruction – he restored him to the church."

What an awesome story! I've used this story many times when talking to the despondent backslider who believes he can no longer be forgiven.

Be an example of His love! No matter how far someone believes he has strayed from, or even deserted the Lord – he can always be restored! Perhaps, while reading this message, the Lord is reminding you of a person with whom you can share this story. Just possibly, you are the one that God wants to use to bring about his/her restoration. If so, I trust that, reading of the Apostle John's loving example, you've been inspired by the compassion and grace the Lord Himself feels toward His "prodigals", and moved by His Spirit to go out in faith…and rescue the lost sheep!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Backsliding