The moment of salvation marks the beginning of a relationship with God. Only then can a person start to develop a deeper friendship with the Father, grow in knowledge of His Word, and serve Him. Whether one comes to faith as a child or an adult, from that point on spiritual growth should be a continual experience throughout life.
Ultimately, God develops the believer’s character and Christian walk. But you may wonder, What part does the person play in maturing spiritually?
David’s prayer in today’s psalm answers this question. He petitioned the Lord to examine his life and help him see it truthfully. David knew the consequences of sinful choices as well as the joy of walking closely with God, and he desired to rid himself of anything that was an obstacle.
We, too, can pray for the Lord to reveal any areas of our life that are hindering our walk. With a humble and honest heart before God, ask for the courage and willingness to look within. Of course, when our Father shows us something that needs work, we should resist rationalizing the behavior, as this stalls growth. What’s more, we must have patience; just as it takes decades to become an adult, spiritual maturity also takes time.
Maybe your spiritual growth has slowed or even stopped. Or perhaps you simply want to make sure your heart is clean before the Father. In either case, pray as David did—that the Lord would reveal anything blocking a close relationship with Him. Let today be the start of a fresh season of growth in your life.
Bible in One Year: 2 Corinthians 1-4
Read: 2 Chronicles 16:1–9
Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 42–44; 1 John 1
The eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.—2 Chronicles 16:9
In the fable of the chicken and the pig, the two animals discuss opening a restaurant together. As they plan their menu, the chicken suggests they serve ham and eggs. The pig swiftly objects saying, “No thanks. I’d be committed, but you would only be involved.”
Although the pig didn’t care to put himself on the platter, his understanding of commitment is instructive to me as I learn to better follow God with my whole heart.
To protect his kingdom, Asa, king of Judah, sought to break up a treaty between the kings of Israel and Aram. To accomplish this, he sent personal treasure along with “silver and gold out of the treasuries of the LORD’s temple” to secure favor with Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram (2 Chron. 16:2). Ben-Hadad agreed and their joint forces repelled Israel.
But God’s prophet Hanani called Asa foolish for relying on human help instead of God who had delivered other enemies into their hands. Hanani asserted, “The eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (v. 9).
As we face our own battles and challenges, let’s remember that God is our best ally. He strengthens us when we’re willing to “serve up” a whole-hearted commitment to Him. —Kirsten Holmberg
Lord, I want to rely on You more fully. Sometimes I see only what is around me. Please help me to look up and to trust You more.
When we are abandoned to God, He works through us all the time. Oswald Chambers
Icons are images or symbols that represent something larger than themselves. We see icons every day on computers and phones; when we open them, the program they represent becomes present.
In the same way, today’s Scripture tells us that humans are made as “images” (a word that could also be translated “icons”) of God. As “icons” of God, humans have the gift of a unique and intimate relationship with our Creator. Humans alone are made in God’s image; no other creature is given this designation. Human beings are made to represent God in the world, to make God’s very presence known wherever we go.
This truth should make us ask an important question: how do our lives point to God and represent Him in the world? First, God declared: “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over” the rest of creation (1:26). Notice the purpose given for being made in God’s image is so that we might rule. God’s divine kingship over His creation, His presence in the world, was represented by mankind. Careful care of creation was intended as a way for mankind to bear the image of the Creator God.
Second, this gift of being image-bearers was coupled with God’s word of blessing. “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (1:28). God’s “icons” in the world were to multiply and fill the earth, not just biologically but spiritually as well. God’s presence and kingship were to spread throughout the world by means of the multiplication of image-bearers. The end of our passage, then, demonstrates the perfection of God’s creation after mankind. He declared the world “very good” (1:31) and then “rested from all his work” (2:2).
APPLY THE WORD
We regularly fail in our responsibility to be “icons” of God in the world. Thankfully, because Christ is the perfect “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), our union with Him enables us to represent God to those around us. Consider one way you might bear the image of God in the world today by your creativity or caring for one who needs a friend.
For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons.— 2 Corinthians 10:3
Through careful strategy and cunning deceit, Satan attempts to wage war against you and keep you in a mindset of defeat. But God has given you spiritual weapons to use against him. Here are the three main spiritual weapons you can use to fight off the enemy:
- God’s Word: Receive it through preaching, teaching, reading and personal Bible study. Continue in the Word until it becomes revelation given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
- Praise: This defeats the devil faster and more efficiently than any other battle plan, but it must be genuine heart-praise, not just lip service or a religious ritual.
- Prayer: Prayer is relationship with the God, communicating with Him, asking Him for help or talking with Him about whatever is on your heart. It also includes being quiet in God’s presence, listening to Him speak to your heart. To have an effective prayer life, we must develop an intimate, personal relationship with the Father. Know that He loves you and that He wants to help you.
There is a war going on, but God is fighting on your side and has given you the weapons you need. Use them to send Satan running!
“Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).
Arthur S. DeMoss was a gifted and godly businessman. He had built one of the most successful businesses of its kind in America and in the process had amassed a huge fortune of an estimated half a billion dollars. Then suddenly an economic recession began and stock in his company plummeted. He lost $360 million in a period of only four months – an average of $3 million a day – more than anybody had ever lost in such a short time. One would have thought he would have been devastated. Instead, in order to avoid decreasing his Christian giving, he (personally) borrowed funds, at an incredibly high rate of interest, to enable him to increase his giving. As we talked together during that period, he was rejoicing in the Lord.
“The Lord gave me everything I have,” he said. “It all belongs to Him and if He wants to take it away that’s His business. I don’t lose any sleep. I still have a wonderful family and my life-style remains unchanged. I am prepared to do anything that God wants me to do. If He takes away everything I own and wants me to go to the mission field, I’m ready to do it. All He needs to do is tell me.”
Art had his trust completely in the Lord and not in his vast fortune. God honored his faith and obedience and ultimately restored all that he had lost and much more. Art has gone to be with the Lord, but his fortune is still being used for the glory of God.
Paul’s answer to the believers of his day is just as appropriate to the believers of our time. No person should be unduly impressed with his wealth and look down with pride and arrogance on those whom he considers to be inferior. Riches are uncertain because they can be taken away from us. In the personal emergencies of life one cannot depend upon material possessions for strength and comfort. In times of tragedy – the loss of a loved one, a financial reversal, or some other disappointment – material possessions do not insure peace. Our trust must be in the living God who is able to supply all of our needs and do for us what riches cannot do.
Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 6:6-16
TODAY’S ACTION POINT:> I will not take the blessing of God for granted and will not place my trust in any earthy possession. My confidence will be in Him who is the source of the supernatural life.
Did you ever notice that God doesn’t seem to be in a hurry? Often it seems as if he waits until the last moment to answer our prayers. God had promised Abraham that he would make a great nation out of him, but Abraham had no children. How was he to become a great nation if he had no son? It was thirty years from the time God first promised Abraham a son until he held his little boy, Isaac. Later, Isaac’s son Jacob had twelve sons, and the children started multiplying. After many years they formed a nation—the nation of Israel.
What is your family praying about? Is there something you’ve waited and waited for? Don’t give up. Keep praying, and God will answer in his time, which is always perfect.
When Isaac was finally born, there was much happiness in Abraham and Sarah’s house. God’s promise was worth the wait. And it will be for you too. When Jesus finally answers your prayer, you’ll be smiling.
Dear Lord, I’m looking forward to that happy day when you answer my prayer. Amen.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
God cares about you. He cares about your job; He cares about your fears; He cares about your spouse; He cares about your children; He cares about your parents; He cares about your worries; He cares about your finances; He cares about your car and your house; He also cares about your character, and He cares about you caring about Him and caring for others. He is a caring God.
You cannot out-care God. His capacity to care is infinite and his competence to care is matchless. You can care because He cares. There is no care of yours that God does not care about. If it is important to you, then God cares about it. Yes, you will experience misdirected cares, but God’s desire is to come alongside you and realign your cares with what He cares about the most. He cares enough to bear your anxieties and to replace them with His peace and assurance.
When you give God your worries, you in turn, receive His calming presence. God’s system of care is countercultural. God transforms your cares into what He cares about; so cast your cares on Christ. Equally spiritual people may cast their cares on God in polar opposite ways. One may find release in a quiet written prayer, while another may feel cared for by God through raucous worship. Let another’s processing of anxiety be a guide, not a guilty comparison.
You know God cares immensely. So how do you cast your cares on Him? By faith, you let Him care. He cares and can be trusted. Therefore, allow Him to do what He does best. You allow Him to care for you. This takes humility on your part. You are acknowledging a desperate need for God. Your declaration of dependence is two-fold. You admit you are anxious, and can’t handle your worry alone.