Everyone wants to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit. To become physically fit, we need to exercise our muscles vigorously and regularly. If our goal is to be stable in soul (our thoughts, will, and emotions), then we must apply our minds to learning and train ourselves to be self-controlled. However, to become mighty in spirit requires something more than self-effort.
You see, none of us were born with a spiritual connection to God. Because of Adam and Eve’s rebellion, we were all dead in our sins and separated from the Lord (Eph. 2:1). No amount of personal effort can bring an individual to life spiritually. Although we are unable to change this condition for ourselves, nothing is impossible for God (Matt. 19:26). By accepting Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross as payment for our sins, we are forgiven, reconciled to God, and made alive in our spirit (Eph. 2:5). This is the beginning step of the Christian life.
Once we are born again, the indwelling Holy Spirit teaches us how to view life as Jesus did, embrace His values and priorities, and follow His example. The more we yield to the Spirit’s control, the sooner we’ll be transformed into Christ’s image, equipped to carry out the Lord’s will, and strengthened in our inner spirit to serve Him.
God desires followers who will dedicate themselves to His plan and serve as ambassadors for Christ to a lost and hurting world. He doesn’t expect that we will train ourselves for this task—He has sent His Holy Spirit to prepare us for the work ahead. Have you answered His call to service?
Bible In One Year: Psalm 107-111
Read: 1 Peter 1:22–2:5
Bible in a Year: Job 20–21; Acts 10:24–48
Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.—1 Peter 2:1
Recently, I switched rooms in the home I rent. This took longer than expected, because I didn’t want to simply transfer my (extensive) mess to a new room; I wanted a completely fresh and uncluttered start. After hours and hours of cleaning and sorting, bags of stuff sat by the front door to be thrown away, donated, or recycled. But at the end of this exhausting process was a beautiful room I was excited to spend time in.
My housecleaning project gave me a fresh perspective when reading 1 Peter 2:1, as paraphrased in The Message: “So, clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy, and hurtful talk.” Interestingly, it’s after a joyful confession of their new life in Christ (1:1-12) that Peter urges them to throw away destructive habits (1:13-2:3). When our walk with the Lord feels cluttered and our love for others feels strained, this shouldn’t cause us to question our salvation. We don’t change our lives to be saved, but because we are (1:23).
As real as our new life in Christ is, bad habits learned do not disappear overnight. So, on a daily basis, we need to “clean house,” throwing away all that prevents us from fully loving others (1:22) and growing (2:2). Then, in that new, clean space, we can experience the wonder of being freshly built (v. 5) by Christ’s power and life. —Monica Brands
Heavenly Father, thank You for the new life You are building in us through our Lord Jesus. Help us to daily turn to You for cleansing and renewal.
Every day we can reject destructive habits and experience new life in Jesus.
INSIGHT: The Scriptures include both the good and the bad of Peter’s life. After Jesus’s arrest, Peter denied even knowing Jesus, but later proclaimed Him to be the Son of God. Peter struggled to be consistent in his relationship with Christ. Perhaps that is why we can relate to his story.Writing to an audience of Jews and Gentiles, Peter encourages growth in salvation. Once we are saved, our journey has merely begun (1 Peter 2:2-3). Therefore, Peter encourages us to live an examined life, ridding ourselves of things that hinder our growth (v. 1) and keep us from loving each other (1:22). But this is only half the journey; the other half is “craving pure spiritual milk”—desiring and partaking of spiritual food through God’s Word, which results in developing good habits.Are there habits you need to “rid yourself” of? What can you replace them with?
Let him search for peace…and seek it eagerly. [Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God, with your fellowmen, and with yourself, but pursue, go after them!]—1 Peter 3:11
Have you ever thought about your relationship with yourself? For years, it never occurred to me that I had a relationship with myself. In fact, I never thought about it until God began to teach me how to improve it. Maybe the idea that you have a relationship with yourself has never entered your mind, either. But the truth is, you spend more time with yourself than with anyone else! So getting along well with yourself is vital to your well-being.
Do you like yourself? Many people don’t. Self-rejection and even self-hatred contribute to many of the struggles we have in life. Think about it: Rejecting or holding hatred toward others causes all kinds of problems in relationships with them, so why wouldn’t rejecting or hating or disliking yourself cause the same kind of problems in your relationship with yourself?
Today’s scripture urges us to pursue and go after peaceful relations with God, others, and ourselves. I encourage you to embrace and accept yourself because God created you just the way He wants you to be and made every unique thing about you. He loves you tremendously, so let that truth empower you to not only like yourself, but also to love yourself. As you grow in this way, you’ll notice that some of your problems will decrease and eventually go away.
Love Yourself Today: Make a list of your good qualities. Take a moment to think about how these positive attributes are a blessing to you and to others. Thank God for making so many good things about you!
From the book Love Out Loud by Joyce Meyer.
“Is anyone sick? He should call for the elders of the church and they should pray over him and pour oil upon him, calling on the Lord to heal him. And their prayer, if offered in faith, will make him well; and if his sickness was caused by some sin, the Lord will forgive him” (James 5:14,15).
Many years ago the principal of a missionary school in Hong Kong asked me to address the student body the following day. He and others involved in the school had prayed for years for revival to come to the student body and faculty. “God has impressed me,” he said, “that you are to be His instrument for that revival.” God encouraged my heart and gave me such a sense of great excitement and anticipation that I could hardly go to sleep that night.
But early in the morning, some kind of serious amoebic illness struck me and I could hardly get out of bed. Believing that God was going to use me in spite of my illness, though, I claimed His supernatural power and was dressed and ready when the principal arrived to take me to the anticipated meeting. A famous Asian evangelist who, for several years, had been ill with a mysterious disease that even the finest medical specialists were unable to diagnose had also gotten out of his sickbed to be my interpreter.
Here we were, two very sick men delivering a message on revival. However, I had hardly spoken more than a sentence or two when I felt the supernatural healing touch of God upon me. The power was reflected in my message and God did send revival, not only to the students and faculty, but also to this speaker.
Later, as we rejoiced together, the principal asked if I would join in praying for my interpreter who was still very ill. We gathered around and laid hands on him – the principal, his wife and I. By faith we claimed his healing and I went on my way. Within days the man was miraculously restored to the fullness of health and within weeks on his first evangelistic speaking tour in several years, proclaiming the good news of God’s love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, the major denominations have left the emphasis on healing to some who have prostituted this great truth, cheapened it, and made it a laughing matter, not only among evangelical believers, but in the secular world at large. Though many for whom we pray are not healed – else no one would die – we must remember that it is a privilege and power available to believers that we can claim for the glory of our risen Savior.
Bible Reading: James 5:13-19
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will pray for those who are ill and claim God’s supernatural healing power in their behalf.
1 Peter 4:12-13
Jesus paid a huge price so that you and I could live in heaven with him forever. We can’t even begin to appreciate what he did for us—the suffering he endured, the lives that he changed—but we can be grateful for his love. This love gives us courage and strength to face hard times just like Jesus did as God’s son.
No one likes to suffer, but remember that when you do, Jesus understands all about it, not just because he’s God, but because he himself suffered on earth too. He understands when you’re sad, lonely, angry, and depressed because he experienced every one of those emotions. He felt betrayed when his closest friends handed him over to the Pharisees and pretended not to know him. He felt pain when he suffered under the whip and on the cross. And because he knows what it’s like to suffer on earth, Christ will be with you in your tough times.
Dear Lord, I’m so glad that Jesus knows everything about me. Thank you that he chose to endure the cross. Please help me endure the hard things I face. Amen
“The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:15-16)
As they walked through the aquarium, Maria’s dad helped her read the signs beside each fish tank. Most of the signs told where the fish in that tank would normally be found, what their habits were, and what they ate. Most of the fish ate seaweed, insects, or other types of underwater creatures.
Maria felt a little sad when she learned that some of the big fish liked to eat the smaller fish she had seen in other tanks. “Dad, why does God let the big fish eat the little fish?” she asked. “Doesn’t He care about the little fish?”
“Of course He does. God cares about all of His creatures.” Dad tapped the edge of the tank to point out a large shark circling slowly through the water. “But if He let the little fish have the run of the ocean, pretty soon there would be too many of them. That would cause problems for all the other creatures that share their living space. One reason that the big fish feed on the little fish is to control the number of little fish.”
Maria thought about that, and it made a lot of sense. “We eat some of the fish too,” she said.
“That’s right. In fact, after the Flood, God told Noah that all the creatures of the earth could be food for humans. So…God feeds the little fish, and they become food for the big fish, and sometimes the big fish become food for us. Pretty wise plan, eh?”
“After we’re done at the aquarium today, how’d you like to go out for lunch at a seafood place?”
Maria wrinkled her nose. “Only if I can get peanut butter and jelly there.”
Dad laughed. “It’s a deal. PB and J for you, flounder for me.”
God cares so much for His creation that He makes sure every living creature has food to eat. He not only satisfies our desires for food but also our desires for things like friendship, forgiveness, and joy. In God Himself is everything we need to satisfy our hearts.
God satisfies the desires of every living creature.
» What are some ways that God has satisfied your desires?
Read 1 CHRONICLES 1:1-2:2
Because of people’s growing interest in tracing their family history, Ancestry.com has become the largest for-profit genealogy company in the world. Subscribers can use the Internet to access billions of historical records and submit DNA samples to learn about their roots.
This month we will take a deep dive into God’s genealogical database as we study the book of 1 Chronicles. Although genealogical lists play an important role in 1 Chronicles, it is also a book of history that focuses primarily on the dynasty of David. The first chapter describes David’s lineage, beginning with Adam and Abraham’s descendants.
The list is impressive. There are 200 proper names in the first chapter alone! With so many unfamiliar names and so little narrative, we may be tempted to give up and turn to a more familiar passage. We should remember that each name listed in this book represents someone’s story. We will learn some of the details along the way, but only God can know the whole story. We should also take heart because these lists of names show us that the God who made us is also the God who knows us. He knows us by name and is familiar with every detail of our lives. The God whose actions are described along with the names listed in this book is the God of their history and of ours.
This is especially true of Jesus Christ, who “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3). As we begin this study, let’s ask God for the patience to persevere in our reading. Our circumstances may not be identical with theirs, but if we know Jesus Christ as Savior, we have become part of this story.
APPLY THE WORD
This list of names in Chronicles is more than a genealogy. It is a kind of faith history. Why not get things started by doing some research into your own family’s faith history? Ask family members about their journey of faith. How does it compare to your own? Look for an opportunity to share your faith story with your family members as well.