November 15, 2010 – Begg

God’s Power on Our Behalf

Summon your power, O God, the power, O God, by which you have worked for us.

Psalms 68:28

It is wise, as well as necessary, to beseech God continually to strengthen what He has worked in us. Failure to do so finds many Christians blaming themselves for those trials and afflictions of spirit that arise from unbelief. It is true that Satan seeks to flood the fair garden of the heart and make it a scene of desolation, but it is also true that many Christians leave open the floodgates themselves and let in the dreadful deluge as a result of carelessness and lack of prayer to their strong Helper.

We often forget that the Author of our faith must be the Preserver of it also. The lamp that was burning in the temple was never allowed to go out, but it had to be replenished every day with fresh oil; in the same way, our faith can only live by being sustained with the oil of grace, and we can only obtain this from God Himself. We will fail if we do not secure the needed sustenance for our lamps. He who built the world upholds it, or it would fall in one tremendous crash. He who made us Christians must maintain us by His Spirit, or our ruin will be speedy and final.

So let us, then, evening by evening, go to our Lord for the grace and strength we need. We have a strong argument to plead, for it is His own work of grace that we ask Him to strengthen—”the power . . . by which you have worked for us.” Do you think He will fail to protect and provide that? Let your faith simply take hold of His strength, and all the powers of darkness, led by the master fiend of hell, cannot cast a cloud or shadow over your joy and peace. Why faint when you can be strong? Why suffer defeat when you may conquer? Take your wavering faith and faltering graces to Him who can revive and replenish them, and earnestly pray, “Summon your power, O God . . . by which you have worked for us.”

November 13, 2010 – Stanley

Standing Firm with Jesus JOHN 10:7-10

In our daily routine, it is easy to live with a worldly mindset. When our thoughts turn away from God, we can become dangerously self-dependent. In such situations, there is a spiritual battle ensuing, with high stakes. Victory demands more than floating through each day. This war requires our alert and purposeful reliance upon Christ.

First Peter 5:8 warns us, “Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” The Enemy knows our nature and weaknesses. He whispers doubt and deception in order to accomplish his goal.

We know that the ultimate victory is God’s, but Satan’s traps still lead many astray. How can we avoid giving in to the temptation that leads away from God’s best for our lives and causes devastation?

Jesus was tempted during His 40-day fast in the wilderness. Consider how He stood firm against the Enemy: He stayed connected to His Father and submitted to God’s will. We can likewise surrender daily to the Father’s way, dying to our own desires and plans. And notice that when our Lord encountered a temptation, He resisted Satan with Scripture. The best weapon for fighting falsehood is truth. And we can emulate Jesus, who knew He had authority over Satan and commanded him to flee.

Don’t let the world lull you into managing life on your own. There’s a battle raging, and you have an enemy whose goal is to take your eyes off Christ, to destroy your life, and to steal glory from God. Our King has the victory, but we must remain alert and connected to His truth.

November 13, 2010 – Begg

The Church’s Special Privilege

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray.

Luke 18:1

Jesus has sent His Church into the world on the same errand upon which He Himself came, and this mission includes intercession. What if I say that the Church is the world’s priest? Creation is dumb, but the Church finds a mouth for it. It is the Church’s high privilege to pray with acceptance. The door of grace is always open for her petitions, and they never return empty-handed. The curtain was torn for her; the blood was sprinkled upon the altar for her; God constantly invites her to bring her requests. Will she refuse the privilege that angels might envy? Is she not the bride of Christ? Can she not approach her King at any hour? Will she allow the precious privilege to be unused?

The Church always needs to pray. There are always some among her who are declining or falling into open sin. There are lambs to be prayed for, that they may be carried in Christ’s bosom; the strong, lest they grow presumptuous; and the weak, lest they become despairing. If we kept up prayer-meetings twenty-four hours a day all the days in the year, we might never be without a special subject for supplication.

Is there ever a time when no one is sick or poor or afflicted or wavering? Is there ever a time when we do not seek the conversion of relatives, the reclaiming of backsliders, or the salvation of the lost? With congregations constantly gathering, with ministers always preaching, with millions of sinners lying dead in trespasses and sins—in a country over which the darkness of religious formalism is certainly descending—in a world full of idols, cruelties, devils—if the Church does not pray, how will she excuse her neglect of the commission of her loving Lord? Let the Church be constant in supplication; let every private believer give himself to the ministry of prayer.

November 12, 2010 – Stanley

Enduring Satanic Attacks EPHESIANS 6:10-14

Every believer faces temptation. Take a moment to recall a particularly enticing situation involving something that would displease God. Did you realize you were involved in a satanic battle?

The Devil is real. Scripture reveals that he leads an army of fallen angels and is prideful enough to think he can gain victory over God. By definition, a satanic attack is a deliberate assault upon an individual, which is designed to cause spiritual, physical, material, or emotional harm. Satan desires to thwart the Lord’s purpose in believers’ lives, to rob them of joy and peace, and ultimately to deny God the worship He receives through yielded followers.

As in any war, knowing the enemy’s plan helps us prepare for the attack. First, be aware that the battlefield takes place in our minds. To walk in a godly manner with Christ, we must first be sure that our thoughts are in submission to His Spirit. This takes daily surrender and time in God’s Word. Second, Satan tempts us during vulnerable moments. Be cautious when you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (This is often known as the H.A.L.T. warning). Third, he is deceptive; we won’t recognize the trap as an evil scheme. Instead, it will seem good, and we’ll likely wrestle with some sort of doubt.

As Christians, we should walk closely with Jesus. Satan desires to lure us into destructive actions that rob us of God’s plan for a good, full life. Stay connected to the Savior: read the Word, pray, and fellowship with other believers. These are weapons we use against the Devil in spiritual war.

November 12, 2010 – Begg

Christ’s Example

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.

Luke 6:12

If ever a man might have lived without prayer, it was our spotless, perfect Lord, and yet no one ever prayed as much as He! His love for His Father was such that He loved to be in communion with Him. His love for His people was such that He desired to be regularly interceding for them.

The fact that Jesus placed such importance on prayer is a lesson for us—He has given us an example that we may follow in His steps. The time He chose was admirable—it was the hour of silence when the crowd would not disturb Him, the time of inaction when everyone else had stopped work, and the season when sleep made men forget their difficulties and stop applying to Him for relief. While others found rest in sleep, He refreshed Himself with prayer. The place was also well selected. He was alone where none would intrude, where none could observe: And so He was free from Pharisaic ostentation and vulgar interruption. Those dark and silent hills provided a suitable prayer chapel for the Son of God. Heaven and earth in midnight stillness heard the groans and sighs of the mysterious Being in whom both worlds were blended.

The continuance of His pleadings is remarkable: The passing hours were not too long; the cold wind did not chill His devotions; the grim darkness did not cloud His faith or loneliness prevent His persistence. We fail to watch with Him for one hour, but He never fails to watch for us night and day. The occasion for this prayer is notable; it was after His enemies had been enraged. Prayer was His refuge and solace; it was before He dispatched the twelve apostles. Prayer was the gate of His enterprise, the herald of His new work. Should we not learn from Jesus to resort to special prayer when we are under peculiar trial or considering new ventures for the Master’s glory? Lord Jesus, teach us to pray

November 11, 2010 – Stanley

The Wages of Sin ROMANS 6:21-23

God sent His Son to take your punishment by dying in your place. Unless believers understand this provision, they will doubt their salvation. We can’t be good enough to earn heaven. Man is born with a corrupted nature; therefore, we will at times sin, no matter how hard we try not to. The Bible compares our attempts at righteous deeds to filthy rags (Isa. 64:6).

On its own, mankind has but one option with regard to sin: to die in it and spend eternity separated from God. But the Father so loved the world that He chose to punish His Son in our place (John 3:16). It was a severe price to pay. Holy God cannot look upon the filth of sin, so when Jesus became sin for all mankind, the Father had to turn away (2 Cor. 5:21). The physical suffering of crucifixion was terrible, but nothing compared to Jesus’ wrenching horror when the Father turned His back. The devastated Messiah cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34).

Throughout eternity past, the Father and Son had never been separated. Jesus accepted this ultimate punishment so we wouldn’t have to. When Paul said that the wages of sin was death, he was referring to eternal separation from God (Rom. 6:23). We are saved and live forever with the Lord because of what Jesus has done.

The Savior took our place and accepted humanity’s punishment for sin. He and the Father have done the hard work of salvation so we can reap the benefits and rewards of faith. If you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and He died for your sins, then you are saved.

November 11, 2010 – Begg

The Best for You

He chose our heritage for us.

Psalms 47:4

Believer, if your inheritance is meager, you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is best for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot and selected for you the safest and best condition. When a ship of large tonnage is to be brought up a river that has a large sandbank, if someone should ask, “Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel and deviate so much from a straight line?” his answer would be, “Because I could not get my ship into harbor at all if I did not keep to the deep channel.”

In the same way you would run aground and suffer shipwreck if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession. Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get only a little, but you are put there by the loving Farmer because only in that situation will you produce fruit unto perfection.

Remember this: If any other condition had been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you could choose your lot, you would soon cry, “Lord, choose my heritage for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.” Be content with the things you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God. Busy self and proud impatience must be put down; it is not for them to choose, but for the Lord of Love!

Trials must and will befall—
But with humble faith to see
Love inscribed upon them all,
This is happiness to me.

November 10, 2010 – Stanley

Assurance of Salvation 1 JOHN 5:10-13

Many of the people who call In Touch have questions about their salvation. They are frustrated to feel uncertainty about such an important issue. Today’s devotion is a three-part salvation assessment. Answer yes to every question, and you can be sure that you are in God’s family and destined for an eternity in His presence. Answer no, and you’ll know exactly what issue to talk over with your pastor or a spiritual mentor.

1. Do I trust Scripture? Salvation is a simple process: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Either we trust that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world (including ours), or we don’t (John 3:16).

2. Do I accept the witness of the Holy Spirit? Anyone who believes in Jesus has the witness dwelling within his or her being. That is, the Spirit testifies to our identity as God’s children (Rom. 8:16). It’s not about whether we feel saved; God’s Spirit offers an abiding conviction that we are.

3. Do I walk like a follower of Jesus? Those who are in Christ are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). If we have been transformed, there are going to be changes in our life. Simply put, true believers are creatures who seek the things of God–they desire to read and understand His Word, they want to gather with His people, etc.

Confirmed Christ-followers still sin. Some even backslide for a time. No matter how crooked our walk of faith, the Holy Spirit continues to convict. He cannot allow us to be satisfied with wrongdoing. That tug of guilt over sin is yet another assurance that you have placed yourself in God’s grip.

November 10, 2010 – Begg

Expect Persecution

It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher.

Matthew 10:25

No one will dispute this statement, for it would not be proper for the pupil to be exalted above his Teacher. When our Lord was on earth, what was the treatment He received? Were His claims acknowledged, His instructions followed, His perfections worshiped by those whom He came to bless? No. “He was despised and rejected by men.”1 His place was outside the city: Cross-bearing was His occupation. Did the world provide Him with comfort and rest? “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head.”2 This inhospitable country provided Him no shelter: It cast Him out and crucified Him.

If you are a follower of Jesus and maintain a consistent, Christlike walk and behavior, you must expect to experience persecution and rejection also. Your Christian testimony will be scrutinized and criticized. People will treat it as they treated the Savior—they will despise it. Do not imagine that pagans will admire you or that the more holy and the more Christlike you are, the more peaceably people will act toward you. If they did not prize the polished gem, do you think that they will esteem the rough cut jewel? If they have referred to Jesus as Satan, how much more will they denigrate the teacher’s disciples? If we were more like Christ, we would be more hated by His enemies.

It is a sad dishonor to a child of God to be the world’s favorite. It is a very bad omen to hear a wicked world clap its hands and shout “Well done” to the Christian man. He may begin to look to his character and wonder whether he has been doing wrong when the unrighteous give him their approval. Let us be true to our Master and have no friendship with a blind and base world that scorns and rejects Him. Far be it from us to seek a crown of honor where our Lord found only a crown of thorns.

1Isaiah 53:3 2Matthew 8:20

November 9, 2010 – Stanley

Instruction from the Lord MATTHEW 16:21-24

At times we may struggle with directions we receive from the Lord. We question whether they are from Him because they . . .

Clash with our personal desires. The mother of James and John asked that her sons sit beside Jesus in heaven. The Lord said no to her selfish ambition and called her sons to a life of humble service to others (Matt. 20:20-28).

Conflict with our human reasoning. Some of the disciples expected Jesus to rule as the long-prophesied King. When He told them He was going to be killed by the religious leaders, His words didn’t line up with their thinking about the future.

Challenge our faith. Christ told the disciples that He would be resurrected on the third day (Matt. 16:21). Peter and the others had to accept Jesus’ words even though many people of the day–including some religious leaders–did not believe in the resurrection of the body (Matt. 22:23).

God’s direction may call for courage as well. We see this clearly in Joshua’s life. The Lord appointed him as the leader who would take Israel into the Promised Land (Josh. 1:1-6). Our heavenly Father may ask us to become a leader in our local church, to participate in a missions trip, or to serve those who are hard to love. He wants us to step forward bravely and obey.

Following God shouldn’t involve guesswork. Scripture is a good source for confirming divine direction, as our Father won’t give any guidance that is contrary to biblical principles. Receiving godly counsel from a pastor or mature believer can also reassure us that we’ve heard correctly (Prov. 15:22).

November 9, 2010 – Begg

Do Not Doubt

His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.

Isaiah 33:16

Christian, do you doubt whether God will fulfill His promise? Will the fortresses of rock be swept away by a storm? Will the storehouses of heaven fail? Do you think that your heavenly Father, even though He knows that you need food and clothes, will forget you? When not a sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge, and the very hairs of your head are all numbered, will you mistrust and doubt Him? Perhaps your affliction will continue upon you until you dare to trust God, and then it will end.

There have been many who have been tried and troubled until at last they have been driven in sheer desperation to exercise faith in God, and the moment of their faith has been the instant of their deliverance; they have seen whether God would keep His promise or not. So I urge you, doubt Him no longer! Do not please Satan, and do not trouble yourself by indulging any more those hard thoughts of God. Do not imagine that it is a small matter to doubt Jehovah. Remember, it is a sin; and not a little sin either, but in the highest degree criminal. The angels never doubted Him, nor the devils either.

We alone, out of all the beings whom God has fashioned, dishonor Him by unbelief and tarnish His honor by mistrust. Shame on us for this! Our God does not deserve to be so poorly treated; in our past life we have proved Him to be true and faithful to His word, and with so many instances of His love and of His kindness as we have received and are daily receiving at His hands, it is base and inexcusable that we allow a doubt to lodge within our heart. From now on let us resolve to wage constant war against doubts of our God—enemies to our peace and to His honor—and with an unstaggering faith believe that what He has promised He will also perform. “I believe; help my unbelief!”1

1Mark 9:24

November 8, 2010 – Stanley

Recognizing God’s Voice JOHN 10:14-16

Children seem to have special hearing when it comes to their parents’ voices. They recognize when their mother or father is talking, regardless of how many other people are around.

In a similar way, Jesus assures us that we will be able to distinguish His voice among the insistent cries and conflicting opinions of our world (John 10:27). He promises we will be able to “hear” Him, even though He doesn’t speak in audible words–one reason is that He has given us His Holy Spirit, who knows exactly what Christ is saying and will provide us with the wisdom to understand.

Have you ever noticed the way some children pretend not to hear their parents so they won’t have to obey? Sometimes we can be like that–we might fail to recognize the heavenly Father’s direction because of our own self-centeredness. We intently focus on what we want and ignore any opposing instruction.

There is another obstacle to hearing the Lord: impatience. Just like the culture we live in, we want answers right now. This tendency can cause us to listen to the wrong speaker. Surrendering our personal desires and fixing our attention on what matters to God will make it easier for us to discern His voice.

When Peter acted on his own ideas, he encountered difficulty. But when he gave up his way and listened to Jesus, he became a disciple to whom Christ could entrust kingdom work (John 21:17). Have you learned to distinguish the Lord’s voice from the noise around you?

November 8, 2010 – Begg

Invite Him In

The teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?

Mark 14:14

Jerusalem at the time of the Passover was one great inn; each householder had invited his own friends, but no one had invited the Savior, and He had no dwelling of His own. It was by His own supernatural power that He found Himself an upper room in which to keep the feast. This is still the case today—Jesus is not received among the sons of men except when by His supernatural power and grace He makes the heart anew. All doors are open enough to the prince of darkness, but Jesus must clear a way for Himself or lodge in the streets.

On account of the mysterious power exerted by our Lord, the householder raised no question but at once cheerfully and joyfully opened his guest room. Who he was and what he was we do not know, but he willingly accepted the honor that the Redeemer proposed to confer upon him. In similar fashion we can still discover who are the Lord’s chosen and who are not, for when the Gospel comes to some, they fight against it and will not have it; but where men receive it, welcoming it, this is a sure indication that there is a secret work going on in the soul and that God has appointed them to eternal life. Are you willing, dear reader, to receive Christ?

Then there is no difficulty in the way. Christ will be your guest; His own power is working with you, making you willing. What an honor to entertain the Son of God! The heaven of heavens cannot contain Him, and yet He condescends to find a house within our hearts! We are not worthy that He should come under our roof, but what an unutterable privilege when He condescends to enter! For then He makes a feast and causes us to feast with Him upon His royal provision; we sit at a banquet where the food is immortal and provides immortality to those who feed on it. Blessed among the sons of Adam is he who entertains the angels’ Lord.

November 6, 2010 – Stanley

Christians in the Workplace PHILIPPIANS 2:5-8

One of the greatest hindrances to the gospel’s effectiveness is Christians who act one way at church and another way elsewhere. The way we live for God should permeate all areas of life. The workplace is no exception.

The way we act reflects our faith. So if we claim to be Christians, our coworkers, bosses, and employees will equate our attitudes and actions with Jesus. Do those around you at the office see a positive reflection of God in your work ethic?

Let’s look at a scriptural model for the believer to follow. For one thing, we should view ourselves as servants. Next, our true boss is Christ; therefore, we work diligently and with integrity, knowing that our reward is from Him. Then, since all authority on earth is God-given (John 19:11), we should obey our superiors gladly—unless, of course, our boss tells us to do something that goes against Scripture. And finally, all those we work with and for have worth from the Creator, and we should treat them with respect.

Think about how the golden rule–“Do unto others as you’d have others do unto you”—applies here. Putting it a different way, imagine yourself as the boss and ask, How would I like employees to work, even when I wasn’t watching them?

Even when jobs or coworkers are hard to like, we are to work as though God is our boss. That means doing tasks with joy, a servant attitude, respect for others, diligence, and obedience to those in authority. Imagine what the workplace could be if all believers approached their jobs this way.

November 6, 2010 – Begg

Power of Blood

This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.

Hebrews 9:20

There is a strange power in the very name of blood, and the sight of it is always moving. A kind heart cannot bear to see a sparrow bleed and, unless familiarized by use, turns away with horror at the slaughter of a beast. As to the blood of men, it is a consecrated thing: It is murder to shed it in anger; it is a dreadful crime to squander it in war. Is this solemnity occasioned by the fact that the blood is the life, and the shedding of it the token of death? We think so. When we rise to contemplate the blood of the Son of God, our awe is greater yet, and we shudder as we think of the guilt of sin and the terrible penalty that the Sin-bearer endured. Blood, always precious, is priceless when it streams from Immanuel’s side.

The blood of Jesus seals the covenant of grace and makes it certain forever. Covenants of old were made by sacrifice, and the everlasting covenant was ratified in the same manner. What comfort that our salvation rests upon the sure foundation of divine commitments that cannot be dishonored! Salvation by the works of the law is a frail and broken vessel whose shipwreck is sure; but the covenant vessel fears no storms, for the blood ensures the whole. The blood of Jesus made His covenant valid. Wills are of no power unless the testators die.

In this light the soldier’s spear is a blessed aid to faith, since it proved our Lord to be really dead. There can be no doubt about that matter, and we may boldly appropriate the legacies that He has left for His people. Happy are they who see their title to heavenly blessings assured to them by a dying Savior. But does this blood not speak to us? Does it not bid us sanctify ourselves unto Him by whom we have been redeemed? Does it not call us to newness of life and incite us to entire consecration to the Lord? O that the power of the blood might be known and felt in us tonight!

November 5, 2010 – Stanley

How to Get the Most Out of Your Work MATTHEW 20:25-28

According to Scripture, work is to be part of the believer’s life. We all have daily tasks, and many Christians hold jobs outside the home. Some people view these as drudgery. Others wake up excited to face the day’s challenges. What is your outlook?

There is an important biblical principle to follow if you are going to enjoy your work: View yourself as a servant. This might be hard if you feel unappreciated or your coworkers are difficult. But consider the example that the Lord set for us. He was rejected, tortured, and crucified. Yet Jesus was willing to serve even His tormentors with His attitude and, ultimately, with His life. Colossians 3:23-24 states, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men . . . It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

When I was in college, this proved to be a valuable perspective. I worked in the bleachery, which was the hottest and most uncomfortable job at the local textile mill. At first, I focused on how much I disliked this position. But I decided to change my attitude and look for opportunities to serve Jesus through my work. For the first time, the heat did not bother me. In fact, I was eager to share my faith with those around me. People listened and responded because they noticed my demeanor.

No job is perfect; each position has negative aspects. But we can find joy and excitement even in the most menial task when we decide to work for God. Choose to serve Christ in all you do. After all, why face each day with dread when you could experience excitement and anticipation?

November 5, 2010 – Begg

Think Highly of Christ

Give thanks to him; bless his name!

Psalms 100:4

Our Lord would have all His people rich in high and happy thoughts concerning His blessed person. Jesus is not content that His brethren should think poorly of Him; it is His pleasure that His people should be delighted with His beauty. We are not to regard Him as a bare necessity, like bread and water, but as a luxurious delicacy, as a rare and ravishing delight. To this end He has revealed Himself as the “pearl of great price” in its peerless beauty, as the “bundle of myrrh”1 in its refreshing fragrance, as the “rose of Sharon” in its lasting perfume, as the “lily” in its spotless purity.

As a help to high thoughts of Christ, remember the estimation that Christ has beyond the skies, where things are measured by the right standard. Think how God esteems the Only Begotten, His unspeakable gift to us. Consider what the angels think of Him, as they count it their highest honor to veil their faces at His feet. Consider what the blood-washed think of Him, as day without night they sing His well-deserved praises. High thoughts of Christ will enable us to act consistently in our relationship with Him. The more loftily we see Christ enthroned, and the more lowly we are when bowing before the foot of the throne, the more truly shall we be prepared to act our part toward Him.

Our Lord Jesus desires us to think well of Him, that we may submit cheerfully to His authority. High thoughts of Him increase our love. Love and esteem go together. Therefore, believer, think much of your Master’s excellencies. Study Him in His pre-incarnate glory, before He took upon Himself your nature! Think of the mighty love that drew Him from His throne to die upon the cross! Admire Him as He conquers all the powers of hell! See Him risen, crowned, glorified! Bow before Him as the Wonderful, the Counselor, the Mighty God, for only in this way will your love for Him be what it should.

1Song of Solomon 1:13, KJV

November 4, 2010 – Stanley

When Faith Falters MARK 9:17-29

James 1:5 tells us that God offers wisdom to anyone who asks. However, he goes on to warn that if we doubt, our prayers will not be answered. But at times, don’t all of us struggle with some degree of doubt?

Let’s explore some reasons for our disbelief. First, faith usually defies human reasoning. For example, when we are in financial difficulty, logic says to save every penny, whereas God says He will bless the generous giver. Second, feelings of fear, inadequacy, or guilt can interfere with trusting biblical truth. Third, we often focus on the circumstance rather than our heavenly Father. He is at work, yet we fail to notice His hand. And finally, uncertainty about God’s will can lead us to doubt Him.

Wavering faith has severe consequences: missed blessings, lack of peace and joy, and a heart that is easily thrown off course when difficulty arises. How, then, can we avoid faltering in our faith?

In Mark 9, a man pleaded with Jesus to rebuke the spirit possessing his son. When Christ replied that “all things are possible to him who believes,” the father said, “I do believe; help my unbelief” (vv. 23-24). And Jesus granted his request. Like that man, we can ask the Lord to increase our faith. But we should also spend time reading God’s Word and meditating on His promises.

From the story in Luke, we know that doubt is common–and that God is patient and understanding. Faith comes from Him. So when you are at a crossroads and the right response requires faith, or when you pray and notice doubt, ask Him to help you believe.

November 4, 2010 – Begg

Christ Revealed

In your light do we see light.

Psalms 36:9

No lips can tell the love of Christ to the heart until Jesus Himself shall speak within. Descriptions all fall flat and feeble unless the Holy Spirit fills them with life and power; until God makes Himself known to us, the soul does not see Him. If you would see the sun, would you gather together the common means of illumination and seek in that way to view its splendor? No; the wise man knows that the sun must reveal itself, and only by its own blaze can that mighty orb be seen. It is the same with Christ. “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah!” He said to Peter. “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you.”1 Purify flesh and blood by any educational process you may select, elevate mental faculties to the highest degree of intellectual power, yet none of these can reveal Christ.

The Spirit of God must come with power and overshadow the man with His wings, and then in that mystic holy of holies the Lord Jesus must display Himself to the sanctified eye, as He does not to the spiritually blind sons of men. Christ must be His own mirror. The great mass of this dim-sighted world can see nothing of the indescribable glories of Jesus. He stands before them without form or majesty, a root out of a dry ground, rejected by the vain and despised by the proud.

Only where the Spirit has illumined the eye, quickened the heart with divine life, and educated the soul to a heavenly taste, only there is He understood. He is precious to the believer; He is the chief cornerstone, the Rock of your salvation, your all in all; but to others He is “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”2 Happy are those to whom our Lord reveals Himself, for His promise to such is that He will make His home with them.

O Jesus, our Lord, our heart is open; come in, and never leave. Show Yourself to us now! Favor us with a glimpse of Your embracing loveliness.

1Matthew 16:17 2Romans 9:33

November 3, 2010 – Stanley

How to Develop Unwavering Faith 1 PETER 1:6-7

On occasion, every one of us will go through troubling times, and when that happens, it’s easy to get disheartened. But the Bible indicates that even during periods of challenge and adversity, God expects His children to respond correctly. And His word equips us to do so.

What does a right response look like? Today’s passage teaches us to rejoice during difficulty. Of course, this does not mean that we must be glad about the hardship. But we can be joyful because we know that God is using the circumstances to prepare and grow us. Even though having a positive attitude during something so negative does not seem logical, it actually makes sense for several reasons.

First of all, through difficult experiences, the Lord teaches us endurance. Our natural reaction to pain is oftentimes to run in the opposite direction–and as fast as possible. However, God wants us to “hang in there” so that we can derive the full benefit of whatever lesson He has for us.

Second, the heavenly Father uses trials as a refining fire to purify His children and bring them to greater spiritual maturity. He has a plan for each believer, and hardship is one of the tools necessary to prepare us to do His will. In the process, we will find that our faith has been strengthened.

As we realize God brings benefit from our adversities, we’ll begin to face challenging times with confidence that He always has our best interest in mind. This leads to joy, because we know He is building our endurance, purifying our hearts, and making us people with unshakeable trust in Him.

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