Yesterday we noted that to understand God’s divine promises, believers must consider the whole counsel of God. For example, the Lord’s commitment to supply our needs isn’t isolated from other parts of Scripture.
Trust God to provide (James 1:6-7). James opens his letter with a strong warning that those who doubt the Lord can expect nothing from Him. God’s trustworthiness is clear in Scripture and in believers’ lives, but our wavering confidence undermines His work.
Wait upon His timing (1 Samuel 13:9-13). Instead of waiting for Samuel, King Saul usurped the prophet’s authority by making a pre-battle sacrifice to God. Though his army won, Saul lost God’s favor as well as the throne. People who manipulate circumstances and timing expect good results but are often disappointed. No one gets what he really wants by supplying his own need.
Accept responsibility (Prov. 19:15; Prov. 20:4). We can’t expect God will open a door to opportunity while we’re just sitting back. We have to be on the lookout, ready to participate. For example, if we need a job, we should be out submitting applications. If we want to know the Father’s direction for a hard situation, we must be seeking Him regularly through prayer and His Word.
God knows our needs, and He has committed Himself to meeting every one. But He does not make promises in a vacuum. We have a responsibility to trust Him, be patient, and do our part. Then we leave it to the Lord to move heaven and earth to provide.
Bible In One Year: Proverbs 1-4
Read: Exodus 23:10–13
Bible in a Year: Job 36–37; Acts 15:22–41
Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work.—Exodus 23:12
One Sunday, I stood by the gurgling stream that wends its way through our North London community, delighting in the beauty it brings to our otherwise built-up area. I felt myself relax as I watched the cascading water and listened to the birds chirping. I paused to give the Lord thanks for how He helps us to find rest for our souls.
The Lord instituted a time of Sabbath—a time for rest and renewal—for His people in the ancient Near East because He wanted them to thrive. As we see in the book of Exodus, He tells them to sow their fields for six years and rest on the seventh. So too with working six days and resting on the seventh. His way of life set apart the Israelites from other nations, for not only they but also the foreigners and slaves in their households were allowed to follow this pattern.
We can approach our day of rest with expectancy and creativity, welcoming the chance to worship and do something that feeds our souls, which will vary according to our preferences. Some will like to play games; some to garden; some to share a meal with friends and family; some to take an afternoon nap.
How can we rediscover the beauty and richness of setting apart a day to rest, if that’s missing from our lives? —Amy Boucher Pye
Lord God, in You we find our rest. Thank You that You’ve created us both to work and to rest. Please help us to find the right rhythm for our lives.
In our faith and service, rest is as important as work.
INSIGHT: The reality of our need of rest is reinforced by Jesus’s invitation in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus speaks of life’s burdens and His provisions for us (an easy yoke and a light burden), and that is good. Notice, however, that the rest He offers is not simply found in the cessation of activity or release from burdens. It is found in actively seeking His presence and His provision for our lives. Jesus speaks of rest “for [our] souls” which is far more than mere relaxing. It is the rest that replenishes us in the core of our being. This is the ultimate goal of Sabbath—a rest that recuperates the heart and restores the spirit. Bill Crowder
Read: Exodus 3:7-10
I will send you . . . (v. 10)
God’s mission is stunning, his call is daunting, and his task towers over our lives, but for some reason God chooses us. God told Moses, “I will send you.” God invited a shepherd to rescue his people from a king. There is a mystery in this story: if God can talk from a flaming plant, can’t he just wipe out Egypt in one cosmic sweep of his hand? Well, God did destroy Pharaoh and his army in dramatic fashion, but not before Moses acted. For reasons that still sometimes baffle us, God carries out his mission through human beings.
Just as daunting as confronting a pharaoh was God’s call to a virgin to give birth to a king. God could have rolled back the clouds to enter our world but instead he chose a small-town girl who was already engaged to give birth to the Savior of the world. God could have chosen renowned philosophers but instead picked uneducated fishermen to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth. And similarly, God chooses you, too.
God still sees people all around the world who do not know him. God hears their cries of pain and sighs of sadness. God knows the suffering they endure and the injustice they bear. We might see a bit of this through the news, but God sees it all. We might demand of God, “What are you going to do about all this suffering?” But God whispers, “I will send you.” —Jon Opgenorth
Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me to be captured by the significance of your mission.
That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] that is in you.—2 Timothy 1:6
Do you ever feel like an eagle in a chicken yard? You know in your heart that there is much more within you than you are experiencing and expressing in your life right now. You feel certain God has a great purpose for your life—and you cannot escape or ignore the inner urge to “go for it.”
I encourage you today to fan the flame inside you. Fan it until it burns brightly. Never give up on the greatness for which you were created, and never try to hide your uniqueness. Instead, be thankful for it, and be thankful that God has something special in store. Realize your hunger for adventure is God-given; wanting to try something new is a wonderful desire; and embracing life and aiming high is what you were made for. You are an eagle!
Prayer of Thanks: Father, thank You for the dreams and desires You have placed in my heart. Thank You that You have a destiny for me. Today, I will dare to dream of all the wonderful things You have in Your plan for my life.
From the book The Power of Being Thankful by Joyce Meyer.
“But, dearly loved friends, if our consciences are clear, we can come to the Lord with perfect assurance and trust, and get whatever we ask for because we are obeying Him and doing the things that please Him” (1 John 3:21,22).
What a marvelous promise – unfortunately, a promise which few Christians are able to claim. Why? Because they do not have a clear conscience in regard to their sin and when they come to God, they cannot come with confidence that He will hear and answer them. As God’s Word reminds us in Psalm 66:15, if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. How wonderful to know that whatever sins have been committed, the shedding of Christ’s blood and His death on the cross have paid the penalty for them all. If we confess our sin of pride, lust, jealousy, gossip, dishonesty, greed, whatever it may be, we can by faith claim His forgiveness. Remember that if we agree with God concerning our sin, if we recognize Christ’s death on the cross has indeed paid the penalty for that sin, and if we repent or change our attitude, which results in a change of our action, we can know that we are forgiven. However, if there is no change of attitude and action, obviously there has been no true confession and therefore no forgiveness and cleansing.
If you have truly confessed your sins, you can come now into the presence of God with great joy and a clear conscience and have perfect assurance and trust that whatever you ask for, you will receive because you are praying according to the will and the Word of God.
Bible Reading: I John 3:18-24
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: One of the qualifications for supernatural living is a clear conscience. Therefore, by God’s grace I will keep my heart and motives pure through the practice of spiritual breathing knowing that when I breathe spiritually (exhale – confess, inhale – appropriate promise), I can come into God’s presence with a clear conscience and expect to receive answers to my prayers.
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Have you ever missed the school bus or a ride to an activity that was important to you? Being left is a terrible feeling! It is embarrassing and frustrating, and it can also be really sad – especially if you miss out on something you were really hoping to see or do. Sometimes it can even be dangerous to be left behind. What if you accidentally got left in a football stadium? What if you were on a hiking trail and got separated from your friends? It could be scary, and lonely, and maybe even harmful to be left like that.
Sometimes we rely on people too much. It is okay to count on your friends and family to keep an eye out for you and to remember your needs and hopes. But friends and family are human, and sometimes they forget or make mistakes. Some people might take off on you because they want to do something selfish for themselves, or some might turn their back on you when you have done something wrong. People are human. They might let you down. They might give up on you. They might leave you.
The writer of Hebrews 13:5 was reminding readers of what Jesus said to His disciples – that He would never leave them. He would never forsake them. Jesus is God; He is greater than our human friends and family. He is better than anything we might try to be or to get on our own. In this verse, the Bible shows us the kind of God Who promises to be faithful. That means He is not the kind of God Who lets His people down. He is not the kind of God Who leaves His people alone. He keeps His promises.
Read 1 CHRONICLES 7
A children’s Bible song sung for years in Sunday school and Vacation Bible School goes: “I may never march in the infantry / Ride in the cavalry / Shoot the artillery / I may never fly o’er the enemy / But I’m in the Lord’s army! Yes Sir!”
In this section, the Chronicler records the genealogy of the tribes of Issachar, Benjamin, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Asher. The author emphasizes the military strength for several of the tribes. There’s no specific timeframe given here, and some of the numbers seem to date from the time of David. In the genealogy of Ephraim he mentions another notable military leader, Joshua the son of Nun and Moses’ successor (v. 27). Notable women are also mentioned, including the daughters of Zelophehad, who were one of the first to request inheritance rights for women, and Sheerah, “who built Lower and Upper Beth Horon as well as Uzzen Sheerah” (vv. 15, 24).
The first recipients of this book could not have helped noticing the difference in their circumstances compared to these earlier days. They had no military might. The scope of the land they inhabited was significantly reduced. Those who had returned to Jerusalem must have felt like aliens in their own land. “By anyone’s standards, the fifth century was hardly a golden age for the people of God,” Old Testament scholar John Sailhamer explains. “Their future as a kingdom and a distinct people of God, in fact, seemed bleaker at that moment than perhaps ever before.”
The author’s purpose was not to discourage them by pointing to a glorious but unrecoverable past but to remind them of the power and glory of God. And though their circumstances were different, their mighty God remained the same. He had raised up mighty warriors before and He could do it again.
APPLY THE WORD
This view of the past served as a reminder that they were still the same people of God and heirs of the same promises. Are you facing a difficult change in circumstances today? Remember the God of your past is also the God of your present and your future. Jesus promised: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).