Almighty God reserves the right to reveal some things and conceal others. Although we may not know why natural disasters occur, the biblical truths we do know with absolute certainty allow us to trust the Lord even in times of great suffering. Because of the Bible, we can be certain:
God is in control (Psalm 103:19). Nothing in heaven or on earth is outside of His rule and authority. He does not react to events but sovereignly ordains or permits them to run their course. Although we cannot know for certain if He has sent a catastrophe or allowed it, we can trust in His goodness and wisdom.
The Lord loves people and wants them to be saved (John 3:16-17). Giving His Son for the salvation of the world proves without a doubt that He loves each person. This truth stands firm despite the fact that many reject the Savior. He cares for us, even when we can’t feel it or won’t accept it.
God works circumstances for His good purpose (Isa. 46:10). Though we can’t fully comprehend what He’s doing in each incident, every disaster is a wake-up call for humanity. God is alerting us to the need for repentance—so the lost can be saved and the saved can be revived to live totally for Him. The Lord wants to get our attention, and catastrophes open our ears to hear from Him.
The One who loves us perfectly is in full control, working everything out according to His plan. Knowing this should fill us with hope, even in the midst of crisis situations. The Lord promises to turn disaster to good for those who “are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
Bible in One Year: Proverbs 13-15
Read: James 4:6–10
Bible in a Year: Psalms 1–3; Acts 17:1–15
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.—Romans 6:11
They call it “The Devil’s Footprint.” It’s a foot-shaped impression in the granite on a hill beside a church in Ipswich, Massachusetts. According to local legend the “footprint” happened one fall day in 1740, when the evangelist George Whitefield preached so powerfully that the devil leaped from the church steeple, landing on the rock on his way out of town.
Though it’s only a legend, the story calls to mind an encouraging truth from God’s Word. James 4:7 reminds us, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
God has given us the strength we need to stand against our adversary and the temptations in our lives. The Bible tells us that “sin shall no longer be your master” (Rom. 6:14) because of God’s loving grace to us through Jesus Christ. As we run to Jesus when temptation comes, He enables us to stand in His strength. Nothing we face in this life can overcome Him, because He has “overcome the world” (John 16:33).
As we submit ourselves to our Savior, yielding our wills to Him in the moment and walking in obedience to God’s Word, He is helping us. When we give in to Him instead of giving in to temptation, He is able to fight our battles. In Him we can overcome. —James Banks
Lord Jesus, I give my will to You today. Help me to stay close to You in every moment, and to love You by obeying You.
The prayer of the feeblest saint . . . is a terror to Satan. Oswald ChambersFor more insight from Oswald Chambers, visit utmost.org.
INSIGHT: James’s emphasis on resisting temptation fits within his broader teaching regarding the behavior of believers. For James, being “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (1:22 nkjv) is central to being a believer, which echoes Jesus’s words that true faith is confirmed by obedience (Luke 6:49; 11:28).In today’s text, James helps believers understand one way how to live with integrity—through humility. James 4:6, a reference to Proverbs 3:34, fits within many Jewish wisdom texts emphasizing the relationship between humility and godly living. Humility allows us to submit naturally to God and His plan (v. 8). Submitting to God means we are “friends” with Him, instead of the world (v. 4). When we are friends with God, we naturally live according to His kingdom and values, not the world’s (3:15, 17). As we live and walk humbly with our God (see Micah 6:8), He lifts us up (James 4:10), draws near to us (v. 8), and makes the devil powerless. Does it surprise you to think of humility and fellowship with God as essential for resisting temptation? How can we learn to make these virtues part of our Christian lives? Monica Brands
The glory of God is the human person fully alive. I first read this quote by Irenaeus of Lyons while still a graduate student. In my early rendering of this evocative statement, I imagined people at play in a field of flowers, the sun shining brightly. Everyone is happy and smiling, laughing even, as they dance and play in the fields of the Lord. As I pictured it in my mind’s eye, the human person fully alive was a person alive to possibility, never-ending opportunities, and always happy. How could it be otherwise with God’s glory as the enlivening force?
One author suggests the same in his commentary on Irenaeus’ statement:
“God’s intentions towards me might be better than I’d thought. His happiness and my happiness are tied together? My coming fully alive is what He’s committed to? That’s the offer of Christianity? Wow! I mean, it would make no small difference if we knew–and I mean really knew–that down-deep-in-your-toes kind of knowing that no one and nothing can talk you out of–if we knew that our lives and God’s glory were bound together. Things would start looking up. It would feel promising…the offer is life.”(1)
Despite my romantic imagination and the author’s exuberant interpretation, I am often perplexed as to just what “fully alive” looks like for many people in our world. How would this read to women in the Congo, for example, whose lives are torn apart by tribal war and violence against their own bodies? What would this mean to an acquaintance of mine who is a young father recently diagnosed with lymphoma? What about those who are depressed or those who live with profound disabilities?
I have given and delivered to them Your word (message) and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world [do not belong to the world], just as I am not of the world. —John 17:14
The verse for today teaches us that as believers we are in the world but not of the world, which means that we cannot take a worldly view of things. Not becoming like the world in our ways and attitudes requires constant vigilance. Watching too much graphic violence in the form of entertainment, as happens in the world, can sear or harden our consciences and reduce our sensitivity to God’s voice. Many people in the world today are desensitized to the agonies real people suffer because they see tragedies portrayed so often on television.
The news media frequently delivers negative reports or tragic stories in unemotional, matter-of-fact ways and we often see and hear these things without feeling. We hear of so many terrible things that we no longer respond to it with the appropriate emotions of compassion or outrage we should display.
I believe these things are part of Satan’s overall plan for the world. He wants us to become hard-hearted and unengaged emotionally when we become aware of horrible events that take place around us. He does not want us to care about those affected by such things. But, as Christians, we should care, we should feel, and we should pray. Whenever we hear about what is happening in the world, we should ask God for His perspective and inquire as to how He wants us to respond. We then need to listen for His response and act accordingly. This is one way we can be in the world but not of the world.
God’s word for you today: Take a stand for godly values and never compromise.
From the book Hearing from God Each Morning: 365 Daily Devotions by Joyce Meyer.
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9, KJV).
On thousands of occasions, under all kinds of circumstances, I have found God’s promise to be true in my own experiences and in the lives of multitudes of others.
Charles Spurgeon rode home one evening after a heavy day’s work. Feeling very wearied and depressed, he suddenly recalled the Scripture, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
Immediately he compared himself to a tiny fish in the Thames river, apprehensive lest its drinking so many pints of water in the river each day might drink the Thames dry. Then he could hear Father Thames say, “Drink away, little fish, my stream is sufficient for thee.”
Then he pictured a little mouse in Joseph’s granaries in Egypt, afraid lest its consumption of the corn it needed might exhaust the supplies and it would starve to death. Then Joseph would come along and sense its fear, saying “Cheer up, little mouse, my granaries are sufficient for thee.”
He thought of himself as a mountain climber reaching the lofty summit and dreading lest he might exhaust all the oxygen in the atmosphere. Then he would hear the Creator Himself say, “Breathe away, O man, and fill thy lungs ever. My atmosphere is sufficient for thee.”
“Then,” Spurgeon told his congregation, “for the first time in my life I experienced what Abraham must have felt when he fell upon his face and laughed.”
What kinds of needs do you have today? Are they needs for which our heavenly Father is not sufficient? Can you trust Him? Is there anyone who has proven himself to be more trustworthy?
Bible Reading: II Corinthains 12:1-10
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: In every type of need, burden and problem I face today – whether my own or that of someone else – I will count on the sufficiency of Christ to handle it, and to enable me to live supernaturally.
The word good-bye. This word may be the challenge of your life. How does a person get through raging loneliness, strength-draining grief? The rest of the world has moved on and you ache to do the same. Take heart. God has served notice. All farewells are on the clock.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 begins, “The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast! He will come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we’ll be walking on air. And there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. Reassure one another with these words!” (MSG).
Revelation 21:4 promises He will wipe every tear from our eyes. Isn’t this our hope? God has promised a restoration of all things. All things—and that includes yours.
From You’ll Get Through This
For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.
John Francis did not speak for seventeen years. The problem wasn’t with his voice but with his soul. As he explained, “I used words to hide from people, and from myself. . . . I decided not to speak for one day, as a kind of gift to my community. My girlfriend thought I was doing a nice thing. When I woke the next day, I didn’t see any reason to speak, so I didn’t.”
Over the coming years, Francis earned a bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD in environmental studies. During this time, he recalls, “I liked not speaking. It gave me peace.”
Seventeen years later, he began talking again when he felt he had something to say. However, he notes, “I still practice being silent every morning, and sometimes don’t speak for several days at a time. It reminds me to listen properly; not to judge what I think I’m hearing, but to try to understand what people are really saying.”
Most of us cannot abstain completely from talking, but we clearly need to do something about the information overload of our day. A study conducted eight years ago determined that the average person consumes 100,000 words every day. Since that time, social media has added another 54,000 words a day. Experts in the field refer to our condition as “infobesity.”