How can you be sure you’re making the right decision? Sometimes it may feel as if God plays hide and seek when you’re trying to know His will, but that’s not the way He operates. The heavenly Father wants to give His children clear direction. The real question is, What do you need to do to hear His voice?
Clear the pathway. We have two main obstacles that hinder our discernment: sin in our life and our strong desires about the situation. To receive the Lord’s guidance, we must repent of all known sin and make our desires secondary to His.
Exercise patience. Sometimes it takes a great deal of strength to stand still when everything within you is shouting, “Hurry! Time is running out!” But if you rush ahead of God, you may miss His will.
Persist in prayer. The Bible clearly instructs us to keep coming to the Lord with our concerns. As we continue to pray, He will gradually weed out anything confusing until we come to His conclusion about the matter.
Search the Scriptures. The Word of God has an answer for every need, and the Holy Spirit knows just how to point us in the right direction. I remember times while I was reading the Bible that a verse jumped off the page and supplied the exact answer I needed to make an important decision.
So often when we’re faced with a critical choice, all we want from the Lord is a quick answer. But He delights to meet with us in order to deepen our relationship with Him. Don’t let the urgency of your need keep you from enjoying the intimacy of God’s presence as you seek His will.
Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 12-14
Read: Numbers 13:26–32; 14:20–24
Bible in a Year: Numbers 12–14; Mark 5:21–43
Because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.—Numbers 14:24
Caleb was a “wholehearted” person. He and Joshua were part of a twelve-man reconnaissance team that explored the Promised Land and gave a report to Moses and the people. Caleb said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Num. 13:30). But ten members of the team said they couldn’t possibly succeed. In spite of God’s promises, they saw only obstacles (vv. 31-33).
Ten men caused the people to lose heart and grumble against God, which led to forty years of wandering in the desert. But Caleb never quit. The Lord said, “Because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it” (14:24). Forty-five years later God honored His promise when Caleb, at the age of 85, received the city of Hebron “because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly” (Josh. 14:14).
Centuries later an expert in the law asked Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matt. 22:35-38).
Today Caleb is still inspiring us with his confidence in a God who deserves our wholehearted love, reliance, and commitment. —David McCasland
Lord, may we love You wholeheartedly today and follow You every day of our journey on this earth.
Commitment to Christ is a daily calling.
INSIGHT: The ten spies found the Anakim a daunting challenge because they viewed them in comparison to themselves. Joshua and Caleb, however, viewed them in comparison to God. Many of life’s circumstances—health concerns, relationship struggles, financial setbacks—can either be viewed in comparison to our own frailties or in the light of our all-powerful God. Bill Crowder
In one of Shakespeare’s most known and loved passages, the young heroine, Portia, urges Shylock, the moneylender, to show the kind of mercy that “droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven,” that “is enthroned in the hearts of kings,” and “is an attribute to God Himself.”(1) This arresting image of mercy is both noble and other-worldly, rousing images like that of Caravaggio’s “The Seven Acts of Mercy,” in which an angel’s outstretched hand reaches over seven scenes of mercy: burying the dead, feeding the hungry, refreshing the thirsty, harboring the stranger, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, and ministering to prisoners. The seven scenes are based on the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:35-36: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Though Jesus does not specifically reference burial of the dead as an act of mercy, it was deemed merciful by the church during the time of plague, when care of the dead was literally care of one’s neighbors.
Similar depictions of sympathy, provision, and kind leniency often come to mind at the mere thought of mercy wherever it is found. As Caravaggio paints it and Shakespeare depicts it, mercy is beautiful. Images of quiet humanitarianism and heavenly acts of concern afford mercy a reputation worthy of Portia’s words.
Yet this is not the only perception of mercy in action. Even Shakespeare reasons elsewhere, “Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill.”(2) There is perhaps no better representation of this contrasting perception than in the practice of “compassionate release” for convicted criminals. Every year, in each of the countries with compassionate release programs, thousands of requests are considered. Though few are granted, it is typically more than unpopular. At the release of the terminally-ill Abdel Basset Ali Megrahi, who was sentenced to life in prison for the 1988 bombing of a Pan American jetliner, mercy was justifiably detested. One headline described Megrahi’s release as “an ugly act of ‘mercy.’”(3) Mercy is indeed far less beautiful when its recipients mar the pictures.
But when you pray, go into your [most] private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open. —Matthew 6:6
Jesus rose early to be alone with God, but Peter pursued Him to let Him know that everyone was looking for Him (see Mark 1:35-36). When you get alone to pray, it may seem that everybody tries to hunt you down. But Jesus sought time alone with God so He could focus on His purpose.
We see the scenario of Jesus praying alone and then meeting the needs of others again and again. Jesus went throughout Galilee preaching and driving out demons. When a leper begged to be clean, Jesus touched him, and the leprosy completely left him (see Mark 1:39-42). If Jesus needed to be alone with the Father before He ministered to others, so do we.
From the book Starting Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer.
“You can get anything – anything you ask for in prayer – if you believe” (Matthew 21:22).
God’s Word reminds us that we have not because we ask not (James 4:2). Jesus said, “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7, KJV).
A godly widow with six children was facing great stress. The family had eaten their last loaf of bread at the evening meal. The next morning, with no food in the house, the trusting mother set seven plates on the table.
“Now, children,” she said, gathering them around her, “we must ask God to supply our need.”
Just as she finished her prayer, one of the children shouted, “There’s the baker at the door.”
“I was stalled in the snow,” the baker said, after entering the house,” and I just stopped by to get warm. Do you need any bread this morning?”
“Yes,” said the mother, “but we have no money.”
“Do you mean to say you have no bread for these children?” he asked.
“Not a bit,” said the mother.
“Well,” said the baker, “you will soon have some.” Whereupon he returned to his wagon, picked up seven loaves and brought them into the house. Then he laid one on each plate.
“Mama!” one of the children cried out. “I prayed for bread, and God heard me and sent me bread.”
“And me!” chorused each of the children, feeling that God had answered personally.
God does not require us to have great faith. We are simply to have faith in a great God.
Bible Reading: Mark 11:20-26
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will continue to abide in Christ and have His Word abide in my heart, so that when needs arise today – whether large or small; physical, material or spiritual – I will choose to place my simple faith in God, knowing that He is willing and able to hear and answer prayer. I will also encourage others to join me in the great adventure of prayer.
Read GALATIANS 6:1–6
In No Other Gospel, pastor Josh Moody wrote about Galatians 6: “I used to think that these final verses of the teaching in Galatians were just helpful, practical instruction, but actually they are what the gospel looks like in community. And they are by contrast what legalism looks like. Paul is saying that a grace-filled community is a restorative community, whereas a legalistic community is a judgmental community.”
After giving two lists, “acts of the flesh” and “fruit of the Spirit,” and especially after his exhortation not to be conceited or contentious (5:26), Paul addressed what to do about sin in both ourselves and others. In relation to others, he instructed the church to restore sinning brothers and sisters gently (v. 1). The assumption was that they had already recognized and repented of their sin. Since God forgives them, so should we. We should not erect barriers but instead restore them to fellowship and heal the relationship. Paul also exhorted us to “carry each other’s burdens” (v. 2; Rom. 15:1–3). That is, we should help each other out in areas of moral or spiritual weakness, or when our problems become excessive.
In relation to ourselves, Paul warned that we must be on guard against temptation (v. 1). Getting close to sin might pull us in, or at least tempt us to pride. This can quickly lead us into being self-deceived or giving us a false sense of self-importance (v. 3). We should instead be self-aware and responsible, testing our actions against God’s standards instead of comparing them with or judging others (v. 4; Matt. 7:1–5). In this sense, we should carry our own loads (v. 5). While we live in community as the body of Christ, we also stand accountable before God as individuals.
APPLY THE WORD
In light of Galatians 5 and 6, today might be a good day to focus on allowing the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts. Do we struggle with any of the “acts of the flesh”? Which “fruit of the Spirit” is God seeking to cultivate in our lives these days? As the Holy Spirit guides you, confess, repent, take action, and praise Him for the joy of His presence.
Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Qualified to Love: I (Do) Love You . . . Unconditionally
[Jesus] said to [Peter] again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” [Peter] said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” [Jesus] said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
How would you feel about a good friend denying any knowledge of you? We know that’s what happened when Peter denied knowing Jesus. As a disciple, Peter was outspoken and impulsive. Perhaps a weakness like his was a wake-up call.
Recommended Reading: Luke 22:54-62
But how does one recover from such a failure? After having been given the keys to the kingdom of God and declared to be the foundation of Christ’s Church, how does one regain favor after failure? (Matthew 16:17-20) Favor is the word—favor as in grace. Grace is the unmerited (unconditional) favor of God, which is what Jesus showed to Peter after His crucifixion and resurrection. When Jesus met with Peter after the Resurrection, He didn’t say, “Peter, you can continue to serve Me if you promise never to deny Me again.” He simply recommissioned Peter with no strings attached. Jesus loved Peter unconditionally in spite of his failure.
That’s how God loves you today—unconditionally, no strings attached. Rest in His grace and love today.
Christianity does not think of man finally submitting to the power of God; it thinks of him as finally surrendering to the love of God.
Read-Thru-the-Bible: Deuteronomy 12 – 19
We usually associate contentment with good conditions. When our family relationships are great, work is fulfilling, and we have no health or financial problems, then we feel at ease. But if something goes wrong, our satisfaction vanishes.
That’s not what today’s passage is talking about. Paul had learned to be content no matter what his conditions were. This is wonderful news for us because it means we aren’t at the mercy of our circumstances; we, too, can learn to be content regardless of what we’re facing. We should remember:
Paul was content because he rested in God’s faithfulness. He knew the Lord was in full control (Psalm 103:19) and promised to work all things for His children’s good (Romans 8:28). In any and every circumstance, Paul rested in the security of God’s sovereign, loving hand. The apostle also trusted that whatever he needed would be provided in the Lord’s time.
His contentment also flowed from a focus on Christ. Although he was writing from a Roman prison, Paul wasn’t feeling like a victim or wallowing in self-pity. Throughout the letter to the Philippians, he talked about Jesus. In fact, his greatest pursuit in life was to know Christ, His power, and the fellowship of His sufferings (Romans 3:10). No circumstance could hinder that pursuit. On the contrary, every situation—even when painful or difficult—was an opportunity to know Christ more intimately.
We’ll never be able to find lasting contentment in our circumstances, but we can find it in Christ. When we surrender our life to Him, our situation may not change, but we will. No matter what we face, we can be content.
Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 9-11
Read: Psalm 46:1–7
Bible in a Year: Numbers 9–11; Mark 5:1–20
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.—1 Thessalonians 4:13
Even all these years after losing our seventeen-year-old daughter Melissa in a car accident in 2002, I sometimes find myself entering the world of “What If.” It’s easy, in grief, to reimagine the events of that tragic June evening and think of factors that—if rearranged—would have had Mell arriving safely home.
In reality, though, the land of “What If” is not a good place to be for any of us. It is a place of regret, second-guessing, and hopelessness. While the grief is real and the sadness endures, life is better and God is honored if we dwell in the world of “What Is.”
In that world, we can find hope, encouragement, and comfort. We have the sure hope (1 Thess. 4:13)—the assurance—that because Melissa loved Jesus she is in a place that is “better by far” (Phil. 1:23). We have the helpful presence of the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3). We have God’s “ever-present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). And we often have the encouragement of fellow believers.
We all wish to avoid the tragedies of life. But when we do face hard times, our greatest help comes from trusting God, our sure hope in the land of What Is. —Dave Branon
Father God, You know my broken heart. You know the pain of loss because You suffered through the death of Your Son. In the midst of ongoing sorrow, help me to dwell in the comfort of Your hope, encouragement, and comfort.
Our greatest hope comes from trusting God.
INSIGHT: In Psalm 46, the psalmist uses exaggeration to express his trust in the safety God provides. He tells of feeling safe in circumstances where safety is unimaginable. When the very ground under our feet is uncertain, the psalmist expresses confidence in the protection of the Lord. He isn’t saying, “Do not fear” because our circumstances are not fear-worthy, but because our God is bigger than our troubles. In uncertain times, He is stable. The mountains crumbling into the sea is a graphic image of the most stable land feature giving way. In what circumstances do you need to remember that God is constant and unchanging? How can you express your trust in Him as your refuge? J.R. Hudberg
Doubt everything, find your own light.(1) So recommends the Buddha in his last words. It sounds like good advice, but then the human heart invariably presses on to doubt itself! After all, what kind of assurance can we have that this light is real light or true? The hunger for meaning, the quest for understanding, the search for answers and solutions are central features of the human condition.
For instance, what is the nature of reality? What is existence all about? What is the purpose of life, if any, and what should we try to give answers to?
A much-neglected resource for reflection in this area is the book of Ecclesiastes, from the preacher, or Qoheleth in Hebrew. It is a book that speaks profoundly to our times by asking questions, by setting out contradictions, and by forcing the reader to feel what absurdity as an outlook is really like.
As the book opens, we are confronted with its most famous words, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity and a striving after wind.” Or in another translation of Ecclesiastes 1:2: “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher, ‘Utterly Meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’” Not a very inspiring start! He has devoted himself to explore life, to examine what is good for humanity to do under the sun, and his observations have yielded some depressing results: Everything in life seems to be bound by inevitability. Human freedom appears to be constrained by overwhelming necessities, leading to a sense of helplessness. And the endless cycle of repetition leads to a sense of boredom, pointlessness, and despair.
Many a sage, philosopher, and guru have come to similar conclusions. What is unique to Ecclesiastes is how the author tackles the issues and what he leads us to see. By laying out the vanities of life, the propensities of youth, the all-encompassing reach of death, and the vast urgency of wisdom as a potential life-philosophy, he engages a chaotic world with some serious reflections. The writer takes us on a journey through life, and he deals with the questions and exasperations that we all inevitably encounter. His own desire was to try and figure things out so he could live well and be content, and encourage others to do the same. He likely hoped to discover the key or missing ingredient, the clues to true and lasting success and happiness.
And this is the message [the message of promise] which we have heard from Him and now are reporting to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [no, not in any way]. [So] if we say we are partakers together and enjoy fellowship with Him when we live and move and are walking about in darkness, we are [both] speaking falsely and do not live and practice the Truth [which the Gospel presents].—1 John 1:5-6
So often the things we try to hide by burying them deep inside ourselves become darkness within us. But this passage tells us in God there is no darkness at all. So when we allow Him full entrance into our hearts and minds, there will be no darkness there. I am so glad that God fills every room in my heart, so that I am filled with His light. There are no places in my heart that I know of that are blocked off from Him and the light that comes with His presence. Often one of the signs that we are walking in the light of the Gospel is that we have good relationships with everyone with whom we come in contact in our daily lives—including our spouse and our children.
I can truthfully say that right now I do not know of any person in my life with whom I have a major problem. And it is not because they have all changed. The reason is that I have allowed the Lord to come into those dark recesses of my heart and fill them with His marvelous light. When I was one person on the inside and another person on the outside, I had to wear masks and be phony. I had to put on a facade and play games. I am so glad that now I can stand before God and my family and everyone else and be at peace with myself and with others.
I no longer have to live in fear of what anyone thinks of me, because I have opened my heart to God’s Holy Spirit and He has lighted up the dark places within me so I can live free! You can say the same thing if you will open your heart to God and allow Him to fill every part of you with His life-giving Spirit.
From the book New Day, New You by Joyce Meyer.
“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time” (Matthew 6:34).
The taxi driver who drove me from the airport to the hotel in Virginia Beach stated several times that he was having difficulty making ends meet for his wife and 2-year-old son.
He had two jobs and worked seven days a week. Even so, he could hardly get by. The rent was high; the utility bills were extravagant, and he was trying to save enough money so that he could move to another city where the hourly wages were considerably higher. There, he would be able to achieve a better way of life.
I asked him if he went to church.
“No,” he said, “I don’t have time. I’m too busy.”
During the next 30 minutes we talked about the love of God, and God’s purpose and plan for men which was revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ.
“I once went to church as a young man,” he said,” and my mother is very religious. In fact, she used to preach to me all the time. But somehow I have gotten away from God and from the church.”
I shared with him the Four Spiritual Laws, and the prayer: “Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.”
By the time we reached the hotel, he was ready to pray that prayer in all earnestness, from the depths of his heart. So he offered the prayer, and I prayed with him. And it seemed as though, before my very eyes, the load he had been carrying for so long was lifted and that God, who had made the promise, had already begun to fulfill that promise.
Bible Reading: Matthew 6:28-33
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will ask God to help me forget the conflicts and unfortunate memories of the past: to take no anxious thought for tomorrow, and to joyfully live in the reality of His supernatural presence and provision.
God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called. Don’t let Satan convince you otherwise. Satan will tell you that God has an IQ requirement or an entry fee… that he employs only specialists and experts, governments and high-powered personalities.
When Satan whispers such lies, dismiss him with this truth: God stampeded the first-century society with swaybacks, not thoroughbreds! Their collars were blue, their hands were calloused, and there is no evidence that Jesus chose them because they were smarter or nicer than the guy next door. The one thing they had going for them was a willingness to take a step when Jesus said, “Follow me.”
Are you more dinghy than cruise ship? More stand-in than movie star? More plumber than executive? More blue jeans than blue blood? Congratulations! God changes the world with folks like you!
From God is With You Every Day
For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.
Should transgender people be able to use the bathroom and shower facility that corresponds to their gender identity? This was the position of the Obama administration when it issued an edict last May requiring public schools to permit this choice. The administration threatened to withhold federal funding for schools that did not comply. A federal judge then put a hold on the president’s order.
To those who claim that this decision should be left to the states and to local school districts, supporters of the Obama mandate counter that civil rights take precedence over states’ rights. For instance, in Virginia v. Loving, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Virginia’s statute forbidding interracial marriage was unconstitutional. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 likewise outlawed racial segregation in schools, even though such policies had been enacted by local school authorities.
If transgender rights are civil rights, the argument goes, they should be enforced even over the objections of states and school districts.
The Trump administration clearly disagrees. Last Wednesday, the president issued an order rescinding Mr. Obama’s directive. He stated that states and public schools should have the authority to make their own decisions without federal interference. As a result, states and school districts will now be able to decide for themselves whether federal sex discrimination law applies to gender identity.
The president’s order includes language stating that schools must protect transgender students from bullying. And it does not require individual schools to prevent transgender students from using the bathroom of their choice. It simply gives them the right to make this decision free from federal interference.
But what of the argument that civil rights supersede states’ rights? Here’s my response: unlike previous civil rights legislation, transgender civil rights significantly impact the civil rights of all people.
If you had the power to change your circumstances, would you? Since no one has a life without problems, most of us would immediately say yes. However, the reality is that we must learn to live with some of our difficult circumstances, because only God has the power to alter them—and in His providence, He’s allowed them to remain.
Take the apostle Paul, for example. He had a desire to go to Rome and preach the gospel but didn’t anticipate the route God would use to bring him there. It began with false accusations in Jerusalem, an appeal to Caesar, a rough sea voyage, and a shipwreck and eventually included time spent in a Roman prison. This was probably not what Paul had envisioned, but as he sat chained to a Roman guard, he wrote the following words to the church in Philippi: “My circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel” (Phil. 1:12). The very circumstance that may have seemed like an unfair misfortune became the avenue for fruitful service.
What looks like a shipwreck or detour in our plans could actually be God’s ordained path for our lives. It may include financial challenges, health issues, relational conflicts, or any number of other hardships, but there is one certainty to which we can cling: Jesus Christ is our life, and He never changes.
Conditions around us will fluctuate, but if we belong to Christ, He’ll use every situation to accomplish His will in and through us. Even when we face matters of life and death, we can share Paul’s desire—that Christ would be exalted in us, whether through life or death.
Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 6-8
Read: Philippians 3:12–21
Bible in a Year: Numbers 7–8; Mark 4:21–41
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 3:14
One of my favorite television programs is The Amazing Race. In this reality show, ten couples are sent to a foreign country where they must race, via trains, buses, cabs, bikes, and feet, from one point to another to get their instructions for the next challenge. The goal is for one couple to get to a designated finishing point before everyone else, and the prize is a million dollars.
The apostle Paul compared the Christian life to a race and admitted that he had not yet arrived at the finish line. “Brothers and sisters,” he said, “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize” (Phil. 3:13-14). Paul did not look back and allow his past failures to weigh him down with guilt, nor did he let his present successes make him complacent. He pressed on toward the goal of becoming more and more like Jesus.
We are running this race too. Despite our past failures or successes, let us keep pressing on toward the ultimate goal of becoming more like Jesus. We are not racing for an earthly prize, but for the ultimate reward of enjoying Him forever. —Marvin Williams
Read Philippians 4:11-13. How are we able to press on toward our future hope? Read Hebrews 12:1-2. What are some practical things we must do to continue to press on and persevere?
Never call it quits in pursuing Jesus.
INSIGHT: Philippians 3 describes the delicate balance needed to face the obstacles of the Christian life. The apostle Paul uses athletic terms to describe our journey of faith. He tells us not to look at the past, to realize we are incomplete, and to remember that moving toward the goal is everything. Only God’s grace can help us to be strong finishers in the Christian life. Dennis Fisher
The dictionary defines the word “vacation” as “a period of time devoted to pleasure, rest, or relaxation.” Though I imagine it happens less often than not, it seems the ideal vacation would come to an end just as the life we left behind begins to seem preferable. Yet even if it is with reluctance that we let go of our last vacation day, most of us can imagine why we must. By definition, a vacation is something that must come to an end. To vacate life as we know it on a permanent basis would be called something different entirely.
Though we know that the days of a vacation or holiday are short-lived, we nevertheless enjoy them. Even as they fade away into the calendar, they are remembered (and often nostalgically). That they were few does not hinder their impact. On the contrary, a few days devoted to relaxation are made valuable because of the many that are not.
And we know this to be true of life as well—that it is fleeting, makes it all the more momentous.
Art installation by Gianfranco Angelico Benvenuto in Milan on April, 23 2012, in honor of those who died working on Milan Piazza Duomo, photo by Eugenio Marongiu.
The artists among us often give voice to the things we seem collectively to work at putting out of our minds, sometimes simply stating something obvious. Musician Dave Matthews admits, “There are arbitrary lines between bad and good that often don’t make a lot of sense to me. I don’t want to die, obviously, but really, the wonder of life is amplified by the fact that it ends.”(1)
Like withering grass and dwindling summers, fading flowers and holidays, life cannot escape its end. Like the seasons we live through, generations spring forth and die away. Like the vacations we take, so our days pass away into the calendar. If we refuse to look at any of these endings we live foolishly; if we look only to their ends we miss something about living.
It is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God and made Him my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.— Psalm 73:28
There are many examples in God’s Word of men and women who went through periods of questioning, doubting, blaming, and even criticizing God. But they realized they were being foolish. They repented and turned back to trusting God instead of being angry with Him.
This psalmist is one of those people. Here is my paraphrase of his progression from anger to trust in Psalm 73: “God, it sure seems that the wicked prosper and do better than I do. I am trying to live a godly life, but it does not seem to be doing any good. It looks as if it’s all in vain. I am having nothing but trouble, and when I try to understand it, the pain is too much for me. However, I have spent time with You, and I can understand that in the end the wicked come to ruin and destruction. My heart was grieved. I was bitter and in a state of upset. I was stupid, ignorant, and behaving like a beast. Now I see that You are continually with me. You hold my right hand. Who do I have in heaven, God, but You? Who will help me? If You don’t, there is no one on earth who can help me. You are my strength and my portion forever. It is good for me to trust in You, O Lord, and make You my refuge” (see vv. 12-28).
If you are stuck in a place of bitterness toward God, I encourage you to go through the process of forgiveness. Anger toward God is a “spiritual roadblock”—perhaps stronger than any other. Why? Simply because anger closes the door to the only One Who can help, heal, comfort, or restore our emotions, relationships, and lives. While God doesn’t need our forgiveness, we need to forgive Him and repent in order to be released from bitterness and resentment. If we have been harboring a grudge against God, we must forgive Him so we can experience His power and blessing in our lives and our relationships.
Trust in Him: It isn’t wrong to feel anger, but you must quickly realize you have no reason to hold on to anger against God, the One Who knows what is best for you. Don’t let a “spiritual roadblock” keep you from trusting Him.
From the book Trusting God Day by Day by Joyce Meyer.
“Happy are those who are persecuted because they are good, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs” (Matthew 5:10).
Have you ever been persecuted because of your faith in Christ? If so, how did you respond?
While Francis Xavier was preaching one day in one of the cities of Japan, a man walked up to him as if he had something to say to him privately. As the missionary leaned closer to hear what he had to say, the man spat on his face.
Without a word or the least sign of annoyance, Xavier pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his face. Then he went on with his important message as if nothing had happened. The scorn of the audience was turned to admiration.
The most learned doctor of the city happened to be present.
“A law which teaches men such virtue, inspires them with such courage, and gives them such complete mastery over themselves,” he said, “could not but be from God.”
Supernatural power and enablement by God’s Holy Spirit make that kind of behavior possible for every believer. Furthermore, that kind of behavior probably will do more to attract and influence an unbelieving world than words ever can.
With Christ as our example, love as our motive, and humility as our covering, let us depend on God’s Holy Spirit for the wisdom and strength required to respond to mistreatment in a Christ-like way. Then, and only then, are we in a position to reflect honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Bible Reading: Matthew 5:7-12
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Mindful that millions of Christians have died as martyrs getting the message of God’s good news through to men, and remembering that “all who live godly lives in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, “I will not shrink from whatever the Lord may have in store for me today as His witness. Drawing upon the supernatural resources of God, I will demonstrate by my words and witness that I belong to Christ.
The prayer of Moses moved God to change his mind. Exodus 32:14 says, “So the Lord changed his mind and did not destroy the people as he said he might.”
This is the promise of prayer! We can change God’s mind! God’s ultimate will is inflexible. He does not change in his character and purpose, but he does alter his strategy because of the appeals of his children. After all, we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)! Ambassadors represent the king. They carry with them the imprimatur of the one who sent them. If an ambassador sends a request to the king, will the king listen? If you, God’s ambassador in this world, come to your King with a request, will he listen? By all means.
So, be bold. Be audacious. Be confident. The Lord of all heaven promises that if you ask anything according to His will, He hears you (1 John 5:14).
From God is With You Every Day
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