A choice of enormous significance lies before every believer in Christ. God has given each one the responsibility of deciding who will rule his or her life. Christians are indwelt and sealed with the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation, but being filled with the Spirit—in other words, being led by Him—is optional.
From the moment we are saved, God’s Spirit will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). But by refusing to submit to His authority over every area of our life, we limit His work in and through us. He will not override our will but waits for us to choose Him.
The Lord wants you to have His power to overcome sin, to become the person He designed you to be, and to accomplish the work He has called you to do. The filling of the Spirit is His provision for this kind of supernatural living. Without it, the Christian life will be full of defeat and discouragement.
God wants to motivate us to desire His fullness, and He will use various methods. Sometimes He places a longing in our hearts to be closer to Him. Other times He uses our feelings of inadequacy and failure that result from trying to live in our own strength. The Lord even uses the example of other Spirit-filled believers to make us want what they have.
The Holy Spirit promises to fill a believer who is willing to yield all aspects of life to Him. This isn’t an instantaneous event, but a gradual peeling away of the layers of self-rule. As the heavenly Father reveals an area that you have kept under your own control, surrender it to Him, and let Him fill you with His Spirit.
Bible in a Year: Isaiah 8-10
“The person who has been born into God’s family does not make a practice of sinning, because now God’s life is in him; so he can’t keep on sinning, for this new life has been born into him and controls him – he has been born again” (1 John 3:9).
I am sobered by the very thought that, having served the Lord for more than 30 exciting, wonderful, fruitful years, I might yet dishonor His name and bring disgrace to His cause. I know what has happened to other brothers and sisters in Christ – some of whom had apparently at one time been Spirit- filled Christian leaders, and I know that I too could fail the Lord if I do not continue to trust and obey Him. Even the apostle Paul lived in reverential fear that he might dishonor the name and cause of our Lord.
“So be careful. If you are thinking, ‘Oh, I would never behave like that,’ let this be a warning to you. For you too may fall into sin. But remember this: The wrong desires that come into your life aren’t anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation is irresistible.
“You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it, for He has promised this and will do what He says. He will show you how to escape temptation’s power so that you can bear up patiently against it” (1 Corinthians 10:12,13).
For many years it has been my prayer, as I pray on the offensive, “Oh, God, if there is a possibility that I may dishonor or disgrace Your name by becoming involved in a moral, financial or any other kind of scandal that you would discredit my ministry and nullify my love and witness for You, I would rather You take my life first before such a thing could happen.”
The Scripture warns all believers that any one of them, too, could fall. No one reaches the place of spiritual maturity or perfection where he can say, “I don’t need the Lord’s help anymore.” The only one who can enable us to live victorious lives is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Bible Reading: I John 2:21-29
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: At the very first sign of yielding to Satan in any way, large or small, I will remind the Lord of my utter dependence on Him and I will claim by faith His power to live a supernatural life.
Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves?’ Zechariah 7:5-6
Right motives can be illusive. One minute you can be pure in why you do what you do, the next you can subtly slip into suspect behavior. Therefore, be relentless to regularly review your motives. Pride is always looking to pounce on your purposes, so ask the Lord to cleanse your motives and mark them with His purposes. You can make faith in Jesus a filter for right motives. “Why would Jesus do this?” is a wise question that helps you get to the heart of the matter. The why question reveals intent and encourages honesty.
Regularly asking, “Why?” addresses your motives. You may want to give to someone, but why? You may want to serve someone, but why? You may want to sacrifice an opportunity, but why? You may want to perform a religious duty, but why? Where does your devotion reside? What drives you to do good things? If your reasons are self-serving, then you have missed managing your motives for eternal purposes. Your motive may be to use religion and the church to promote your profession, but God does not like to be used for anything other than His glory.
“In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables” (John 2:14-15).
So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.—Matthew 6:34
Someone once said that “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it falls due.” Trying to solve tomorrow’s problems today only steals the energy God has prearranged for you to enjoy today. Don’t waste your time worrying! It is vain and useless. Don’t be like the bassoon player who went up to his conductor and nervously said that he could not reach the high E-flat. His conductor just smiled and replied, “Don’t worry. There is no E-flat in your music tonight.” Many of our worries are like that—unfounded and unnecessary.
Worry is the end of faith, and faith is the end of worry. You can only be a confident woman once you remove fear and worry from your life, and it starts with prayer. Prayer opens the door for God to get involved and meet our needs. The apostle Paul said we are to be anxious for nothing, but in all things, by praying, we will experience the peace of God (see Philippians 4:6-7). He didn’t say in “some” things; he didn’t say in “one” thing, but he said in “everything.” Prayer must replace our worry.
Lord, I open the door and invite You into all the affairs of my life. I have needs that only You can meet, and I know it’s useless to worry about them. Today I commit my needs to You and will rest my faith in You. Amen.
From the book The Confident Woman Devotional: 365 Daily Devotions by Joyce Meyer.
Read: Psalm 34:11–18 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 35–36; Acts 25
Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil. Psalm 34:12–13
Napoleon’s defeat in Russia 200 years ago was attributed to the harsh Russian winter. One specific problem was that his horses were wearing summer horseshoes. When winter came, these horses died because they slipped on icy roads as they pulled the supply wagons. The failure of Napoleon’s supply chain reduced his 400,000-strong army to just 10,000. A small slip; a disastrous result!
James described how a slip of the tongue can do great damage. One wrong word can change the careers or destinies of people. So toxic is the tongue that James wrote, “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). The problem has increased in our modern world as a careless email or a posting on a social media site can cause great harm. It quickly goes viral and can’t always be retracted.
Our words have the power to build up or tear down.
King David tied respect for the Lord with the way we use our words. He wrote, “I will teach you the fear of the Lord. . . . Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies” (Ps. 34:11, 13). He resolved, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth” (39:1). Lord, help us to do the same.
What do James 3:1–12 and Proverbs 18:1–8 teach you about a slip of the tongue?
Our words have the power to build up or tear down.
The introduction to Psalm 34 identifies David as the author and describes the circumstances surrounding its writing: “Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek . . . .” David had just narrowly escaped King Saul’s attempt to murder him, and he had fled to the only place he felt was out of Saul’s reach—the territory of the Philistines (1 Sam. 21:10-15). After he arrived in Gath, David’s life was again threatened. He only escaped King Achish (Abimelek or Abimelech was a general title for Philistine kings) by pretending to be insane. This is the context from which David begins Psalm 34: “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”
Read: Acts 24:1-23
Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. When Lysias the commander comes, he said, I will decide your case. He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs. Acts 24:22-23
This is an account of one of God’s inscrutable delays, which often afflict us. We think that something we want to have happen is just around the corner. Then as we move toward it we find that it seems to move away from us, recede from us, elude us. Sometimes it takes us months or years to reach a point which we thought was right there. These circumstances raise questions in our minds and hearts. So with the apostle. Here we begin to see God’s discipline of delay.
Felix really doesn’t need to have Lysias come down. He has already received from him a letter exonerating Paul. But he uses this as an excuse, in order that he might hear something more from the apostle. Felix’s curiosity has been awakened and, as Luke tells us, he knew something about Christianity, and he wants to hear more. So he retains Paul in custody, even though he has every legal right to set him free.
Now, don’t blame Felix, because he is being used as an instrument to carry out God’s purposes with Paul. This is the work of a loving, heavenly Father who is concerned with a beloved son. Remember that Paul, by disobedience, despite the consistent warnings of the Holy Spirit, had chosen the pathway which led to bonds and imprisonment. He had disobeyed the direct command of the Spirit that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
Read: Jonah 3:1-3, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
. . . that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Cor. 2:5)
Lord, Jonah is going to Nineveh, but he is anything but grateful.
He was thankful enough to be rescued from the sea.
Yes, but that’s all. He doesn’t want to deliver your message. He is determined to do it as quickly as possible. His hatred for Nineveh will be obvious. There could not be a worse messenger!
My Word doesn’t depend upon the messenger. I don’t need Jonah’s help. I want it, not for my sake, or Nineveh, but for Jonah. He needs to learn. He doesn’t understand why he’s on the earth, why he was called to be part of Israel, or why they’re my chosen people. Most importantly, he doesn’t understand me. He knows my law and judgment, but he doesn’t see their deeper purpose. Jonah doesn’t know mercy and grace.
Except when he was drowning! Jonah is a slow learner as well as a terrible evangelist.
Yes, but all my servants are flawed. I’m not done with him yet. Jonah thinks he’s better than the Ninevites. He thinks I’m in his life just to meet his needs. He needs to learn it’s my work, not human effort, that saves people from their sin, and no one can earn or deserve my salvation.
God, help me get past myself—my needs and desires—to be in tune with your work in the world. Amen.
Author: Doug VanBronkhorst
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
Have you ever met someone who seemed very proud? What did the person do or say to make you think of pride? On the other hand, have you ever met someone who seemed to be humble? What did the person do or say to make you think of humility?
Jesus Christ was God. As God, He deserved to be treated like God. In order to save sinful people, God humbled Himself and became a man. He did not focus on what He deserved, even though He was perfect and almighty. Because He was God, Jesus deserved honor and glory and respect – but instead, He allowed people to ruin His reputation. Because He was God, Jesus could have made Himself a king on Earth – but He chose instead to be a homeless teacher and a servant. Because He was God, Jesus did not have to submit to authority – but He chose to become obedient.
The Bible teaches that Christians ought to be clothed in humility. Being humble is like putting on an apron to cook in the kitchen, or putting on coveralls to go clean out a barn stall.
We ought to shake off our pride and switch it for a spirit of humility. Philippians 2:5 says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” We ought to change our minds and think with the mindset (attitude) that Jesus had. A humble spirit does not care about being popular or respected by other people. A humble spirit serves others without complaining or thinking of self. A humble spirit is obedient, even when obedience hurts.
Today’s Scripture: Ecclesiastes 1:8
“The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.”
Mortification involves a struggle between what we know to be right (our convictions) and what we desire to do. This is the struggle depicted by the apostle Paul when he wrote, “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the spirit, and the spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want” (Galatians 5:17, NIV). The person who tends to overindulge in sweets will struggle between a conviction about the importance of self-control and the desire to eat that delicious, tempting dessert. The man who has developed a habit of undisciplined and wandering eyes will struggle between a conviction regarding purity and the desire to indulge a lustful look. Whatever our particular areas of vulnerability to sin are, mortification is going to involve struggle—often intense struggle—in those areas.
The ceaselessness of this struggle is suggested to us in Proverbs 27:20: “death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man” (NIV).
Our eyes, of course, are often the gateway to our desires. But whether the appeal to our desires comes through the eye or another avenue such as the memory, our desires are never satisfied. But it is these sinful desires that must be mortified, that is, subdued and weakened in their power to entice us into sin.
It is always emotionally painful to say no to those desires, especially when they represent recurring sin patterns, because those desires run deep and strong. They cry out for fulfillment. That is why Paul used such strong language: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you” (Colossians 3:5). (Excerpt taken from The Discipline of Grace)
Today’s Scripture: Acts 21-23
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? – Romans 10:14
In Acts 21-22, Paul was seized by a bloodthirsty mob who tried to kill him. Now how would you view the situation if you were in Paul’s shoes? Amazingly, Paul saw it as a witnessing opportunity and asked the Roman commander who rescued him to allow him to speak to the crowd. Most of our opportunities are more routine.
Some years ago my wife and I were in Christchurch, New Zealand, on a preaching mission. A young man came by our motel to take us to the university for a meeting, and as we headed for the car, he said, “I’ve heard you talk about witnessing, and on the way to the meeting I want to watch you witness to someone.”
“To whom?” I asked.
“Oh, we’ll just stop in some neighborhood, knock on a door, and I’ll watch you witness to the person who answers the door.” I admired his creativity, but it seemed like a faulty plan.
“Okay,” I said, “but first I need to stop at the desk to see if my laundry is done.”
I mentioned to the desk clerk that I was on my way to the university to conduct a Bible study. She seemed interested, so I proceeded to explain how I’d come to Christ, clearly outlining the gospel. Just as I finished, several people came into the lobby, and I couldn’t pursue the matter any further.
Read GENESIS 40
Two lost hikers huddled together, cold and hungry, waiting for rescue. Soon, a low-flying helicopter came into view. The hikers leaped up with joy, shouting and waving their arms. But the aircraft flew past without slowing. The hopeful moment of rescue was gone.
Joseph experienced a glimmer of hope for release from prison, which seemed to end badly. Scripture tells us that two of Pharaoh’s officers, having angered the king, were sent to the very prison where Joseph was held. One night both the cupbearer and baker were troubled by disturbing dreams. Joseph offered help, but not on his own. Notice Joseph’s continued faith in God through his words: “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams” (v. 8).
In turn each of the officers reported the details of his dream, and Joseph gave their meanings: in three days, the baker would be hanged and the cupbearer would be restored to Pharaoh’s court. Just as Joseph said, after three days the Pharaoh had the baker put to death but restored the cupbearer to his service. This was Joseph’s chance for release! His only request was for the cupbearer to tell the king about Joseph so that he might be freed from his wrongful imprisonment. The chapter ends, however, on a dejected note: “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him” (v. 23).
Joseph may very well have felt that God, not just the cupbearer, had forgotten him too. Despite his continued profession of God’s presence in his life, Joseph’s sorrowful circumstances remained. Others’ dreams were coming true, but what about the dreams of Joseph’s youth (Genesis 37)? Where was God and His promises of old? Had God forgotten? The ending of our chapter intentionally leaves us to ponder these questions.
APPLY THE WORD
Do we sometimes feel forgotten by God in the face of the brokenness of our world? Today’s chapter demonstrates that God’s hiddenness does not mean He is absent or forgetful of His people. Let your worship this Sunday renew your trust in our God who does not forsake His people, even when we cannot always see His hand at work.
When you face a trial, what is your first response? You probably would like to run away as quickly as possible to escape it. Though this is a normal feeling, God has a different way.
It is not the trials in your life that develop or destroy you, but rather your response to those hardships. How, then, should we react when difficulties feel overwhelming?
First, trust God. Believe His Word and reflect on ways He has been faithful in the past. He assures us that He limits our trials and enables us to endure.
Second, persevere. Even when we don’t understand and the suffering seems too great to bear, we should never quit. Continue seeking the Lord through His Word and prayer. Cling to hope in Christ, and praise Him in the midst of the pain.
Third, remember that our sovereign God is in control. He’s allowing this adversity for a reason and will demonstrate His sustaining power through it. Even though the pain might feel intolerable, the Lord will always prosper His children. Scripture compares our growth to gold, which is refined through fire (1 Peter 1:7). Often, I hear believers reflect on a difficult time and admit that despite the intense hurt, they wouldn’t change the situation. They see the beauty God created through the struggle and realize its value.
We will encounter difficulties—sometimes intense and painful trials that seem too much for us. Yet we can rely on our heavenly Father to deliver and grow us in ways we could never imagine. He doesn’t demand that we endure on our own, but He does want us to respond and trust Him.
Bible in a Year: Isaiah 4-7
Read: Psalm 34:1–10 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 33–34; Acts 24
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4
Fear sneaks into my heart without permission. It paints a picture of helplessness and hopelessness. It steals my peace and my concentration. What am I fearful about? I’m concerned about the safety of my family or the health of loved ones. I panic at the loss of a job or a broken relationship. Fear turns my focus inward and reveals a heart that sometimes finds it hard to trust.
When these fears and worries strike, how good it is to read David’s prayer in Psalm 34: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (v. 4). And how does God deliver us from our fears? When we “look to him” (v. 5), when we focus on Him, our fears fade; we trust Him to be in control. Then David mentions a different type of fear—not a fear that paralyzes, but a deep respect and awe of the One who surrounds us and delivers us (v. 7). We can take refuge in Him because He is good (v. 8).
Ask God to free you from your fears.
This awe of His goodness helps put our fears into perspective. When we remember who God is and how much He loves us, we can relax into His peace. “Those who fear him lack nothing” (v. 9), concludes David. How wonderful to discover that in the fear of the Lord we can be delivered from our fears.
Lord, I’m aware of my worries and fears, and I place them in Your hands. Give me peace as I face the day.
Ask God to free you from your fears.
In the Old Testament, references to the nature of life after death are obscure. Therefore, the Israelites often struggled to reconcile the injustices of life, since they believed what happened beyond the grave was uncertain. Another belief that influenced Jewish thinking about the afterlife was the principle of retribution that taught God blessed the righteous and judged the wicked—but only in this life. Three psalms focus on this concept. Psalm 34 explains the basic principle. Psalm 37 offers counsel to one who suffers without understanding. And in Psalm 73, the psalmist himself wrestles with the problem of injustice but sees an eternal solution.
“. . . in your moral excellence, knowledge” (2 Peter 1:5).
Moral excellence cannot develop in an intellectual vacuum.
It’s a frightening thing to realize the extent to which our culture downplays knowledge in favor of emotions. These days people are more likely to ask, “How will it make me feel?” instead of, “Is it true?” Sadly, the church has bought into the spirit of the age. Many people go to church, not to learn the truths of God’s Word, but to get an emotional high. The focus of theological discussion also reflects the contemporary hostility to knowledge. To a shocking extent, truth is no longer the issue; the questions being asked today are, “Will it divide?” or “Will it offend?” To ask if a theological position is biblically correct is considered unloving, and those who take a stand for historic Christian truth are labeled as divisive.
But knowledge is inseparable from moral excellence and Christian growth. It should be obvious that people can’t put into practice truths they don’t know; we must first understand the principles of God’s Word before we can live them out.
Peter knew well the importance of knowledge in developing a stable Christian walk and the assurance of salvation that accompanies it. Therefore, he urged his readers to add knowledge to their moral excellence. Gnosis (“knowledge”) refers to insight, discernment, and proper understanding of truth. Lacking such knowledge, believers become “children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14). The resulting turmoil is not conducive to spiritual growth or the development of a settled assurance of salvation.
The Bible commends child-like (i.e., trusting, humble) faith, but not childish faith. Paul exhorted the Corinthians, “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking . . . in your thinking be mature” (1 Cor. 14:20). “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord,” urged Hosea. When we do so, “He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth” (Hos. 6:3).
He [Uzziah] sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success. 2 Chronicles 26:5
It should come as no surprise that success, as God defines it, comes from seeking Him. For the follower of Jesus, doing the will of God is the highest degree of success. As you follow God’s will, you are successful. Success is not something waiting for you sometime in the future. You have already achieved success if you are walking in step with your heavenly Father. If you’re not in step with Him, you may have an outward shell of success, but inwardly and relationally you are a failure. Seeking God is a volitional and relational act. It is consciously and regularly seeking to understand your Creator. Seeking God is to know Him. Seeking God is to love Him.
Seeking God is to praise and worship Him. Seeking God is confessing and crying out to Him. It is enjoying the comfort of your heavenly Father. It is practicing the presence of Christ in you. You seek God at church, at home, at work, and with your friends. There is no place where He is not sought, other than in hell itself. What a privilege and perk for Jesus’ people, anytime, anywhere, and for any reason, to be able to seek God. Therefore, seek Him just as aggressively during the calm as you do in the chaos. Jesus doesn’t want to just be your crisis manager; He wants to be your Lord, who leads you into wise living.
The Bible says, “…seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).
You cannot seek God in isolation. This involves the counsel and advice of those much wiser—godly and mature believers in Christ. Seeking God involves validation from the wise. In danger is the man or woman who attempts to seek God without submitting to godly teaching, mentoring, and discipling from gifted leaders of the faith. You learn to fear God from those who fear God; you learn to love God from those who love God; you learn to forgive from those who forgive; you learn to pray from those who pray; you learn to serve from those who serve. Seeking God comes from seeking the godly. Avoid hero worship. No one except Christ deserves this level of admiration. A wise way to understand God is to understand the godly.
He made the stars also.
According to National Geographic, the most mind-boggling thing we can do is gaze into the starry night. On a clear night we might see 3,000 stars with the naked eye, but no one knows how many stars exist. Our universe probably contains more than 100 billion galaxies, and each galaxy may have more than 100 billion stars. What is 100 billion times 100 billion? We don’t really have a word for a number that large. We simply say ten billion trillion.1
Recommended Reading: Psalm 8
The Bible frequently tells us to stargaze. The Lord told Abraham, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them” (Genesis 15:5). He told Job, “See the highest stars, how lofty they are!” (Job 22:12) The psalmist praised God when he considered the moon and the stars, which God ordained (Psalm 8:3).
It’s harder than ever now to see the stars—we have too much light in our cities. But sometime during this summer, find a dark place, look up, count the stars, and praise the God who created them and who calls each of them by name (Isaiah 40:26).
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, / Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Read-Thru-the-Bible: Isaiah 32 – 37
Behold, God is my helper and ally; the Lord is my upholder and is with them who uphold my life.—Psalm 54:4
There are many people who have received Jesus as their Savior and Lord who will live their Christian lives and go to heaven without ever drawing on the power of the Holy Spirit available to them, never experiencing the true success God intends for them. People can be on their way to heaven, yet not enjoying the trip.
We often look at people who have wealth, position, power, fame, and consider them to be totally successful. But many people who are viewed as successful still lack good relationships, peace, joy, contentment, and other true blessings that are available only in the context of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Self-sufficient people often think it is a sign of weakness to depend on God. But by drawing on the ability of the Holy Spirit, they could accomplish more in their lives than they could by working in their own strength.
There are countless things we struggle with when we could be receiving help from the Holy Spirit. Many people never find the right answers to their problems because they seek out the wrong sources for advice and counsel instead of asking the Divine Counselor who lives within them for guidance.
I encourage you to lean on God for everything, and that means little things as well as big things.
Love God Today: The only way to experience the success God intends for you is to become totally dependent on the Holy Spirit.
From the book Love Out Loud by Joyce Meyer
“And since, when we were his enemies, we were brought back to God by the death of His Son, what a blessing He must have for us now that we are His friends, and He is living within us!” (Romans 5:10).
Marilyn had a very poor self-image. She hated the way she looked and felt that her personality was so bad that she could never expect to have true friends. She was concerned especially about marriage. How could she ever find a man to love her since she was so unattractive (in her thinking).
I was able to help her see how much God loved her, and how great was His blessing for her as a child of God. The supernatural life-style was available to her, and she was the one to determine whether or not she would measure up, as an act of the will by faith, to what God had called and enabled her to be. Her part was simply to trust and obey Him.
With God’s help, she determined to be that kind of person, the kind of person God created her to be.
We who are Christians can see ourselves as God sees us and through the enabling of the Holy Spirit become what we are in His sight. With the eyes of love, He sees us covered with the blood of Christ, which was shed on the cross for our sins, and, as expressed in Hebrews 10, He sees us as holy, righteous and totally forgiven. He holds nothing against us. The penalty for our sins has been paid – once and for all. There is nothing which we can add.
Now we have the privilege of becoming in our experience what we are already in God’s sight.
Bible Reading: Romans 5:11-15
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, I will begin to see myself as God sees me: loved, forgiven, holy, righteous, spiritually mature, aggressive and fruitful for the glory of God. Today I will live by faith the supernatural life which is my heritage in Christ.
Read: Acts 23:6-35
The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome. Acts 23:11
Literally, what the Lord Jesus says as he appears to Paul is, Be of good cheer. Cheer up, Paul. That is certainly a revelation of the state of Paul’s heart at this time. He is anything but of good cheer. He is defeated and discouraged, wallowing in an awful sense of shame and failure, but he is not abandoned. Isn’t it wonderful that the Lord comes now to restore him to his ministry?
I am sure that Luke does not give us the full account of what transpired between Paul and his Lord on that night. But there is enough here that we can see what our Lord is after. He restores Paul to usefulness. He promises Paul success in the desire of his heart, which was second only to his desire to win his kinsmen, i.e., that he might bear witness for Christ at the heart of the empire, the capital of the Gentile world itself. You remember that Paul had announced that, after he went to Jerusalem, he must go to Rome. And his prayer as he wrote to the Roman Christians was that he might be allowed to come to them. The Lord Jesus now gives that back to him.
And yet the very form which he employs contains a hint of the limitation which Paul had made necessary when he disobeyed the Spirit of God. The Lord Jesus puts it this way: As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome. In other words, the emphasis here is upon the manner in which this witness will go forth. In the way that you bore witness to me in Jerusalem, in that same way you must bear witness in Rome. And how had he testified in Jerusalem? It was as a prisoner — chained, bound, limited.
This encounter with the Lord Jesus must have been a wonderful moment in Paul’s experience. The Lord restored him to spiritual health, as he often must do with us. Have you ever been in this circumstance? Have you ever disobeyed God, knowing that you shouldn’t have but wanting something so badly that you’ve gone ahead anyway? How wonderful to have the Lord ready to restore us. I have been there too, so I know how God can tenderly deal with us and bring us back to a place of being yielded.
Read: Jonah 3:1-3, Matthew 28:16-20
I don’t know where I am, but I can feel the bottom . . . and see the shore! I’m not walking too well, but I’ll make it. That sun feels so good. But, Lord, now what?
I don’t know where I am, but I can feel the bottom . . . and see the shore! I’m not walking too well, but I’ll make it. That sun feels so good. But, Lord, now what?
Yes, I’ll go to Nineveh. It’s a long walk. It’ll be suicide to preach there, but I’m out of options. I know I can’t run from God, plus I don’t want to see the inside of that fish again! So I’ll go, and say what I’m supposed to say. It’s a big city, but I can cover it in three days. Those wicked people won’t get any encouragement from me, nor any enthusiasm or extra effort, either. What does it matter? They’re Israel’s enemy! They’ll probably kill me on sight. Is that the Lord’s plan? Well, what-ever happens, Nineveh will be destroyed. At least I can enjoy telling them that.
God, I do not understand what you are doing. Have I not been zealous for your law? These people represent everything contrary to it. Have I not hated your enemies? Nineveh does not belong to your covenant; they are not your people. I am here, I have your message, but why, God? I don’t understand. I should be with Israel, not these idol worshippers.
Lord, help me to believe I am blessed to be a blessing to others, and that your salvation is for all people. May I always be willing to joyfully obey your command to tell others this good news. Amen.
Author: Doug VanBronkhorst