At one time or another, everyone feels confused, uncertain, or misled. When that happens, we can live victoriously and confidently only by possessing spiritual discernment—the ability to see life from God’s perspective. We need His help to distinguish between right and wrong, good and best, truth and error.
Each day we make many decisions—some trivial, others critical. The Lord doesn’t want us to form judgments based on mere appearance or human reasoning. But the world is so full of deceptive information that we, on our own, couldn’t know what to believe. And so God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us see the reality of each situation as He does.
We can fully trust the Lord with our relationships as well. Since He knows every person’s heart, the only way we can wisely interact with others is to be sensitive to the leading of God’s Spirit within us.
Although the Father gives each of His children the capacity for spiritual discernment, many Christians are unaware of it. They stumble through life, doing the best they can, but fail to use this wonderful provision. Others may not think they need it. They make choices according to their own knowledge and reasoning, never giving the Lord a second thought. Unless we cooperate with God in the development of His gift of discernment, it will lie dormant within us.
A discerning spirit begins with a humble, teachable attitude. If you’ve been handling decisions, situations, and relationships through your own wisdom, confess this to God. Then ask for His perspective and search His Word for direction. Your wisdom will grow, and discernment will protect you.
Bible In One Year: Psalm 132-138
Read: Genesis 45:1–11
Bible in a Year: Job 30–31; Acts 13:26–52
It was not you who sent me here, but God.—Genesis 45:8
“The perception of favoritism is one of the biggest factors in sibling rivalry,” said Dr. Barbara Howard, a developmental behavioral pediatrician (“When Parents Have a Favorite Child” nytimes.com). An example would be the Old Testament character Joseph, who was his father’s favorite son, which made his older brothers furious (Gen. 37:3-4). So they sold Joseph to merchants traveling to Egypt and made it appear that a wild animal had killed him (37:12-36). His dreams had been shattered and his future appeared hopeless.
Yet, along Joseph’s journey of life, he chose to be true to his God and rely on Him even when it seemed to make his situation worse. After being falsely accused by his employer’s wife and imprisoned for something he didn’t do, Joseph struggled with the injustice of his situation but kept trusting the Lord.
Years later his brothers came to Egypt to buy grain during a famine and were terrified to discover that their despised younger brother was now the Prime Minister. But Joseph told them, “Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you . . . . It was not you who sent me here, but God” (45:5, 8).
Joseph’s kind words cause me to wonder if I would be ready for revenge. Or would I be gracious because my heart had confidence in the Lord? —David C. McCasland
Dear Father, give us the faith to trust You today and the ability to see Your hand of good along our road of life.
In the darkest hours of life, only through the eyes of faith can we see the loving hand of God.
INSIGHT: We struggle with the pain others cause us. Why is it so hard to let go of these wounds? How can the example of Jesus, who was wounded for us, help us to find a healthier way to deal with our hurts?
A special report on This American Life follows the lives of several people currently living what they unequivocally call “Plan B.” Host Ira Glass expounds his thoughts on an informal poll and a seemingly universal human reality. He asked a room of hundred people to think back to the beginning of adulthood when they were first formulating a plan for their lives. He called it Plan A, “the fate you were sure fate had in store.” He then asked those who were still following this plan to raise their hands. Only one person confessed she was still living Plan A; she was 23 years old.
It seems a trend among us: There is the thing we plan on doing with our lives, and then there’s the thing we end up doing, which becomes our life. Here, Christians often have a nuanced view of Plan A: it is God’s plan they are trying to follow. But there is still very much an initial picture of what this plan, and subsequently our lives, will—or should—look like. God’s best becomes something like a divine Plan A, while any other plan leads the follower to something else.
But akin to the statistics in the room with Mr. Glass, it is likely that the number of Christians who find themselves living the plan they first imagined are also few and far between. For some, this is seen as good news. Many discover along their carefully laid out plans that they are doing far more leading than being led, and God seems to mercifully redirect them. “Many are the plans in a human heart,” the proverb reads, “but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Others find the journey with God from Plan A to B to C to D an interesting part of the pilgrimage itself, maybe even the gift of following an unfathomable creator, a creator who we discover is far more creative than we! Yet there are still many others who walk away from Plan A thoroughly defeated. Regretful turns and drastic detours may now be behind us, but the deviation from the journey is writ large before us. We have failed at Plan A, the plan we believed divinely inspired; God’s best is now merely God’s backup. Wrestling with the guilt or disappointment of such a deviation can be found with or without the Christian spin.
Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward. —Philippians 3:12-14
If you have been miserable because of the things that have happened in your past, I encourage you to do as I did and set your focus in a new direction. Determine to be what God wants you to be, to have what God wants you to have, and to receive what Jesus died to give you.
When you feel discouraged, say, “I am not going to live in bondage anymore. I cannot do anything about what I have done in the past, but I can do something about my future. I am going to enjoy my life and have what Jesus died for me to have. I am going to let go of the past and go on pursuing God from this day forth!”
From the book New Day, New You by Joyce Meyer
“So also the Lord can rescue you and me from the temptations that surround us, and continue to punish the ungodly until the day of final judgement comes” (2 Peter 2:9).
Charles G. Finney was one of America’s most outstanding evangelists. One day while he was still a young lawyer, he sat in his village law office in the state of New York. It was early in the day, and the Lord began to deal with him.
“Finney,” an inner voice asked, “what are you going to do when you finish your course?”
“Put out a shingle and practice law.”
“Then what?” the voice persisted.
This time the words came tremblingly, “The judgement.”
Young Finney ran for the woods half a mile away. As he prayed, he vowed that he would not leave until he had made his peace with God. After a long struggle, he discovered that he could not resist God’s call, and he came out of the woods that evening with the high purpose of living the remainder of his life to the glory of God, enjoying Him forever.
Like that great preacher and evangelist you and I can be rescued from the temptations of the world so that we will not resist any clear call from God.
Bible Reading: II Peter 2:10-17
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: When the world tries to squeeze me into its mold, I’ll not resist the clear call from our Lord Jesus Christ to follow Him.
In 1882 in New York City, Joseph Richardson owned a narrow strip of land 5 feet wide and 104 feet long. Next door was a normal-sized lot owned by a man who wanted to erect an apartment building. He offered Richardson $1,000 for his plot. Deeply offended, Richardson demanded $5,000 which the builder refused to pay. The builder went on to build the apartment building, assuming the slender lot would remain vacant and the view exposed.
But Richardson built a house instead—blocking the view! Dubbed the “Spite House”, Richardson spent the last fourteen years of his life in the narrow residence that seemed to fit his narrow state of mind. Revenge builds a lonely, narrow house. Space enough for one person. No wonder God insists we “keep a sharp eye out for the weeds of bitter discontent!” (Hebrews 12:14-17).
From You’ll Get Through This
For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.
More than 60,000 fireworks lit up the New York City sky for twenty-five minutes last night in the nation’s largest Fourth of July celebration. Seattle ranked second, with a show lasting twenty-one minutes; next came Boston, with a twenty-minute extravaganza.
Americans spent more than $7 billion on Independence Day celebrations, up from $6.8 billion last year. Of that, $947 million was spent on food ($37 million just on ketchup). And we bought more than $5 million worth of US flags imported into the country (ironically, most came from China).
The news was not all festive, however. North Korea successfully launched a missile capable of reaching Alaska. A tropical wave in the Atlantic could become a storm or depression today. And police issued a stern warning after another dog was rescued from a hot car. But the news did not deter the celebration of our country’s birthday.
Independence Day is not a uniquely American occurrence. According to A Global World, 161 countries around the world celebrate Independence Day, National Day, or a similar national holiday.
Despite the news, or rather because of it, we seek solidarity and community with each other. The reason is simple: we were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27), and our Creator is one God in three Persons who relate intimately and eternally with each other.