Hurricane Irma is personal for me in a way no other storm has been. The reason: it targeted my family.
My brother and his wife live in the Tampa area. My wife’s older sister and her husband live in Orlando. Last night, they were directly impacted by the largest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic. All four survived, but we do not yet know the damage to their homes.
Irma has already devastated Cuba, becoming the first Category 5 hurricane to hit the island since 1924. Havana has experienced unprecedented flooding; homes and towns across the north of Cuba are destroyed.
Then the hurricane turned its wrath on Florida. As of this morning, 6.5 million people have been evacuated. Four million Floridians are without power, more than 40 percent of all customers in the state. Five have died, in addition to twenty-seven deaths in the Caribbean.
I prayed for the Lord to push this storm away from land and out into the sea. Instead, it attacked Cuban Christians, brothers and sisters I dearly love and have visited many times over the years. Then it turned and targeted my family.
I pray each day for God’s protection for my family and nation. I’m sure you do the same. When our prayers seem unanswered, how can we continue trusting the One to whom we pray?
A physical prison is built brick by brick. Similarly, a spiritual prison can be erected one sin at a time without a believer noticing. Ensnarement happens slowly, beginning with a thought. Over time, unless the thought is eradicated, contemplation turns to action. With Satan falsely promising happiness as the reward for giving in to temptation, sin gains strength through repetition until our conscience is finally overpowered. One day we discover the devil holds our will in bondage.
But we can avoid spiritual chains. Our first step is to acknowledge two basic truths: All sin enslaves, and bondage begins in the mind. We cannot maintain a healthy relationship with the Lord while indulging sin. When a wrong thought creeps into our consciousness, we have the choice to expel it or to entertain it. Through the strength of the Holy Spirit, every believer possesses power to change his or her mind.
A strong antidote to temptation is a long-term view of disobedient behavior. A second step, then, is to ask ourselves, Is the pleasure of this sin worth the consequences of enslavement? Inevitably, the answer is no. What alcoholic would claim that his next drink is worth the powerlessness he feels against the bottle?
Third, we order our life according to Scripture. That is, we make the choice to place ourselves in bondage to the Father because we find true freedom in Him. His Word trains us to recognize sin and excises wrongdoing from our heart. Ask God to speak through the Bible today, and see what He reveals about your life.
Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 43-45
Read: 2 Corinthians 3:1–6
Bible in a Year: Proverbs 8–9; 2 Corinthians 3
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. —2 Corinthians 3:2
My mother and her sisters engage in what is increasingly becoming a lost art form—writing letters. Each week they pen personal words to each other with such consistency that one of their mail-carriers worries when he doesn’t have something to deliver! Their letters brim with the stuff of life, the joys and heartaches along with the daily happenings of friends and family.
I love to reflect on this weekly exercise of the women in my family. It helps me appreciate even more the apostle Paul’s words that those who follow Jesus are “a letter from Christ,” who were “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God” (2 Cor. 3:3). In response to false teachers who wanted to discredit his message (see 2 Cor. 11), Paul encouraged the church in Corinth to keep on following the true and living God as he had previously taught. In doing so, he memorably described the believers as Christ’s letter, with their transformed lives a more powerful witness to the Spirit working through Paul’s ministry than any written letter could be.
How wonderful that God’s Spirit in us writes a story of grace and redemption! For as meaningful as written words can be, it is our lives that are the best witness to the truth of the gospel, for they speak volumes through our compassion, service, gratitude, and joy. Through our words and actions, the Lord spreads His life-giving love. What message might you send today? —Amy Boucher Pye
Lord God, write the story of my life so that I might reflect Your love and goodness to those I encounter today.
We are Christ’s letters.
INSIGHT: Our Lord Jesus said we are the salt and light of the world (Matt. 5:13-14) to illustrate the impact believers have in their community (v. 16). We are not saved by our good works (Eph. 2:8-9), but once saved what we do and how we live are a witness to the power of Christ to change lives. Sim Kay Tee
Author Flannery O’Connor wrote stories set in the South about odd characters facing spiritual choices. “I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe,” she said. Today’s passage appears to be a disagreement about bread, but it is really about the difficult choice between belief and disbelief.
To both His disciples and to the crowd in the synagogue, Jesus claimed to be the living “bread that came down from heaven” (v. 58). This conversation clearly reveals the confused state of mind of His followers. First, they were looking for a direct solution to their physical needs. They wanted Him to be the bread that satisfied their physical cravings. Notice how they compared him to manna (v. 31). They even phrased it as a demand: “Always give us this bread” (v. 34).
They did not understand that Jesus Himself was the only bread that would satisfy their deepest spiritual longings. They wanted Jesus for what He could give them—physical healing, miraculous provisions, or political freedom. They saw a man whose parents they knew, and they resisted His claim of divinity (v. 42).
Jesus redirected the conversation to His identity as the Son of God. He referred back to the Scriptures and attempted to explain to them that He is the “bread of life” (v. 48). But even after several lengthy explanations, they continued to misunderstand His message: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (v. 52).
The religious skeptics were not the only ones confused. Even His disciples struggled to believe. In fact, many turned away from Jesus and quit following at this point. This was the fork in the road, the dividing point. Would they believe or would they walk away?
APPLY THE WORD
Each of us comes to a crossroads where we must either choose to believe or walk away. What is your choice? Do you believe that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, the bread of life? Do you trust His claims rather than demand that He conform to your own expectations? Through Jesus we can find life, but only if we follow Him.
Is not My word like fire [that consumes all that cannot endure the test]? says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks in pieces the rock [of most stubborn resistance]?— Jeremiah 23:29
What do you usually think of when you hear the word “confession”? Many people think first of the definition that has a negative connotation—being forced to admit you have done something wrong. But when we agree with God’s Word by “confessing” it out loud, the result is always positive.
An acquaintance of mine says we cannot defeat Goliath with our mouths shut. When David was preparing to do battle with the giant Goliath, he ran toward him, confessing out loud what he believed the end result of the battle would be: “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand… “(1 Sam. 17:46 AMP).
This is a good example of how we should approach the enemies in our own lives. We must open our mouths and speak the Word of God.
I strongly encourage you to confess the Word of God out loud daily. Each time a thought comes to your mind that does not agree with God’s Word, confess the truth of His Word out loud, and you will find that the power of the Word will overcome the lie.
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7, KJV).
If you and I have a desire to imitate God, seldom do we accomplish that purpose more than in the practice of showing mercy.
God delights in nothing more than in the exercise of showing mercy. One of the clear prerequisites to real happiness is this display of genuine mercy. Surely God has given us the supreme example, by giving His only Son to die in our place. That is mercy beyond comprehension, beyond description.
The world speaks often of having someone at its mercy. In a very real sense, God has us at His mercy – but He chose to be merciful and make a way of escape for us. The decision to take that way is ours.
To the degree that we show mercy to the poor, the wretched, the guilty – to that degree we are like God. And if He keeps us here on earth to be conformed more and more to His image, how important it is that we trust Him – by His indwelling Holy Spirit – to make us merciful.
When we do something to glorify God, like giving a cup of cold water in His name, in obedience to His commandments, and with a desire that He should be honored, He will consider it as done unto Him and reward us accordingly.
The lesson is clear: the merciful shall obtain mercy. And who among us is not a candidate for more of God’s mercy?
Bible Reading: Luke 6:31-36
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, with Your great mercy as the supreme example, I resolve to allow your Holy Spirit to show mercy through me.”
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15
You confront because you care about the circumstance, the person, and/or the organization. Non-confronters are driven by fear, not care. They are fearful of rejection, of hurting someone’s feelings, of losing their position, even their job. Fear drives out care and replaces it with delayed dysfunction. A non-confronting culture is filled with fear, gossip, and resentment. A confronting culture, on the other hand, is safe, secure, and rewarding. You are praised for speaking your mind. Authenticity is encouraged, and you speak up because you strongly believe in the values of the organization. You are compelled not to compromise excellence by expedience, or value results over relationships.
So you take the time to speak your mind with respect. You say what you mean and you mean what you say. Your clarity in communication means you want to resolve any relational rubs with a better process or program. You confront because you care, so confront often. This keeps any wrongs from turning into resentments. Confront caringly, for this shows respect and that you want what’s best for everyone. Confront calmly and attack the issue, not the individual; this invites dialogue. The spirit of confrontation defines its effectiveness.
It is also important to get the facts before you confront. Take the time to understand the situation and the people involved. Clarification around the truth avoids misunderstandings and many times prevents major blow-ups. Without confrontation we assume inaccuracies that come back to bite us; phrases like, “I didn’t know you meant that,” or, “I didn’t understand, so I assumed…” Fact-finding keeps us from wrongly accusing, or at the very least, wrongly assuming. Teachable hearts accept truthful speech when it’s delivered in love. So, honor the person, as this increases their receptivity. Apologize for your insensitive or inappropriate actions, for this disarms the other person and promotes trust. In the same way, receive those who confront you.
Read: Luke 1:26-38
Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. (v. 30)
In Luke 1, both Zechariah and Mary are surprised by angels who tell them not to fear. Zechariah says, “How shall I know this?” (v. 18). Mary says, “How will this be?” (v. 34). After all, the fulfillment of both promises will require a miracle. Zechariah’s wife is too old to conceive a child, and Mary is still a virgin.
Both receive comfort and encouragement from the angels who tell them about each of their promised sons. While Zechariah desperately wants a son to preserve his reputation and legacy, Mary knows that the timing of this birth could ruin her reputation. Zechariah’s and Mary’s attitudes and heart responses are also different. Zechariah’s fear causes him to be skeptical and he wants proof. Mary’s fear turns to curiosity, wonderment, and then acceptance. She replies, “I am the Lord’s servant . . . may your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38 NIV).
It is human nature to want a guarantee that when God promises something spectacular yet humanly impossible, it will happen. When God says, “Do not be afraid . . . your prayer has been heard,” or “You have found favor with God,” what will my response be? I would like to follow Mary’s example by humbly asking God how something will happen rather than following Zechariah and expecting proof. —Denise Vredevoogd
Prayer: Dear God, help us to surrender our fears and say, like Mary, “May your word to me be fulfilled.”
Is it possible to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are saved? That’s a question I often hear from people who have professed that they trust in Jesus Christ but just aren’t sure if their faith is adequate. The good news is that God wants us to have unquestionable assurance of our salvation (1 John 5:13). And there are three words that will help us determine whether our faith is genuine.
Knowledge. First, we must know that we are sinners and our sins have alienated us from God. Since we are helpless to remedy this situation, He is our only hope for salvation. Second, we need to know that Jesus is deity and He came as the God-man to die in our place and thereby pay the penalty for our sins. His resurrection proves that His sacrifice was sufficient for our salvation.
Conviction. According to John 16:8, one of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to convict us of sin so we can see our need for a Savior. But that alone is not enough. God’s Spirit also convinces us the message of salvation in Christ is true and we must respond.
Trust. Being fully persuaded of our sin and the sufficiency of Christ’s provision for our forgiveness and salvation, we believe and place trust in Jesus as our Savior and Lord.
The entire Trinity is involved in our salvation. The Son provided the perfect sacrifice for sin, the Father draws us to Christ, and the Spirit convicts and convinces us to believe in Jesus and receive Him as our Savior. We are saved because of God’s amazing grace and limitless love.
Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 40-42
Read: John 14:1–12
Bible in a Year: Proverbs 6–7; 2 Corinthians 2
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”—John 14:8
Author and pastor Erwin Lutzer recounts a story about television show host Art Linkletter and a little boy who was drawing a picture of God. Amused, Linkletter said, “You can’t do that because nobody knows what God looks like.”
“They will when I get through!” the boy declared.
We may wonder, What is God like? Is He good? Is He kind? Does He care? The simple answer to those questions is Jesus’s response to Philip’s request: “Lord, show us the Father.” Jesus replied, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:8–9).
If you ever get hungry to see God, look at Jesus. “The Son is the image of the invisible God,” said Paul (Col. 1:15). Read through the four gospels in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Think deeply about what Jesus did and said. “Draw” your own mental picture of God as you read. You’ll know much more of what He’s like when you’re through.
A friend of mine once told me that the only God he could believe in is the one he saw in Jesus. If you look closely, I think you’ll agree. As you read about Him your heart will leap, for though you may not know it, Jesus is the God you’ve been looking for all your life. —David H. Roper
We’re so prone, Lord, to want You to be something You are not. Help us to see You more clearly on the pages of Scripture. Help us reflect Your Son in our lives.
The clearer we see God, the clearer we see ourselves. Erwin Lutzer
“Stop struggling,” the lifeguard yelled at the drowning victim. “I can’t help you if you try to save yourself. Relax!” The young boy finally relaxed, and in a minute the lifeguard had him ashore and to safety. There are some situations where struggling and trying to fix things ourselves only gets us in deeper trouble. God knows that, so he says, “Give me your troubles and your struggles.” That means that when we tell Jesus about our problems, we can relax and let him carry them. We don’t have to worry about them anymore. Most struggles we have in life will pass after a while, so there’s no point worrying about them. We might just as well give them to Jesus.
It might take a while to see God doing anything about what we’ve given to him. He takes time to answer our prayers in just the right way. And even when we can’t see God doing anything, he is. So if you feel like you are drowning in trouble and questions and sadness, call for the lifeguard—Jesus—to see how he comes to your rescue.
Dear Lord, Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in problems and sorrows. Come rescue me, and I will let you carry me and my troubles to a safe place. Amen.
O fear the Lord, you His saints [revere and worship Him]! For there is no want to those who truly revere and worship Him with godly fear.
— Psalm 34:9
I remember a morning when I sat down to pray and instead began to worry about whatever my current situation was and to consider what I was going to do about it.
Suddenly I heard that still, small voice inside my spirit say, Joyce, are you going to worship your problem or Me? See, God was more than willing to handle my problem if I was willing to forget it and spend time worshipping Him.
When we worship the Lord, we release the emotional or mental burden that weighs us down. It is swallowed up in the awesomeness of God. When we keep our eyes on Him and worship, we will always see His plan for our lives work out all things for our good.
The Bible says there is no lack for those who truly worship the Lord with godly fear. Do you want to be sure all your needs will be met? Then remember to worship, not worry.
Regardless of the difficulties you face, just keep praising God and giving Him glory. Faith will rise in your heart, and you will overcome.
“Long ago, even before He made the world, God chose us to be His very own, through what Christ would do for us; He decided then to make us holy in His eyes, without a single fault – we who stand before Him covered with His love” (Ephesians 1:4).
On every continent and in scores of countries, I have asked thousands of people, including Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, communists and atheists: “Who is the greatest person who ever lived? Who has done more good for mankind than anyone else?”
Among knowledgeable people, the answer is always the same, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Born nearly 2,000 years ago, His coming had been foretold for centuries by the great prophets of Israel. The Old Testament, written by many individuals over a period of 1,500 years, contains more than 300 references concerning the promised Messiah. All of these prophecies have been fulfilled in the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. They could not have referred to anyone else.
That in itself is conclusive evidence of God’s personal and supernatural intervention in history. Jesus’ coming into this world was no accident, and we who trust Him are covered by His love.
What a beautiful picture – covered with His love!
“All the armies that ever marched and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as has that one solitary life,” declared an anonymous observer in reflecting upon the life of Jesus Christ.
Bible Reading: Ephesians 1:5-14
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Throughout this day I will picture myself embraced by the arms of the Almighty, His love covering and comforting me. I will share His love and faithfulness with others.
In an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest sit-down meal served, the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority in Washington, D.C., prepared a banquet for 16,206 guests. Two thousand employees served three tons of beef, 1.5 tons of mashed potatoes, and 40,000 pounds of bagged ice.
Today’s passage details an amazing meal when Jesus used small means to feed many people. Following intensive days of teaching and healing, He retreated for a private moment, but again He was followed by a “great crowd” (v. 5). People had heard about the wonders and teachings of this extraordinary man. They were searching for Jesus.
Seeing the crowds, Jesus asked Philip how they would feed them. Philip’s response was practical. Feeding a crowd of 5,000 men (plus women and children) would be no simple task. It would require “more than half a year’s wages” (v. 7). Andrew volunteered supplies—two small fish and five loaves of barley bread. What seemed like scarcity became abundance in the hands of Jesus. We are not told how this multiplication happened, only that everyone was fed, with plenty to spare. The miracle astounded everyone. “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world” (v. 14).
Jesus withdrew from the crowd, but again He defied the limitations of nature when He walked on the water (v. 19). He was far more than an extraordinary person—the disciples were witnessing God Himself.
The theme of this month’s study was taken from verse 24: the crowd headed to Capernaum “in search of Jesus.” Plenty of people were searching for Jesus. Would they discover the Jesus they thought they wanted, or would they recognize Him as the Son of God?
APPLY THE WORD
When facing obstacles, are you like Philip, seeing only the practical limitations? Or are you like Andrew, trusting that God can transform meager resources into abundant blessing? Do you trust your abilities or God’s plans? Ask God to amaze you with His ability not only to meet your needs but also to surpass your expectations.
I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. John 17:4
Focus is the fuel to productivity and frees you to stay on task. Focus facilitates God’s will and has the ability to bring intensity to a situation, problem, or opportunity. There is a sense of urgency that pushes out distraction and brings clarity back to the matter at hand. Focused individuals understand that some things naturally drift out of focus, so they intentionally refocus.
“Mission drift” ensues when the leader becomes distracted and unfocused as well-meaning activities can distract the team or the individual from the original purpose.
The opposite of focusing on a task is to ignore or disregard it. We lose focus when we lose interest or assess a lower value to a person or opportunity. We lose focus when something else more attractive draws us away, and like a moth to a flame, we can get burned if we are not careful. We are forever fighting to stay focused because of bad distractions and good attractions. But we don’t have to remain unfocused or get focused on the wrong things. When we stay laser-focused on the Lord, important things become priority and our minds become centered on Christ.
We focus all the time. We may not focus on our most important options, but we focus. We focus on sports. We focus on having fun. We focus on finances. We focus on fitness. We focus on frustrations. Indeed, your mind and your heart tend to follow your focus. Your life aligns around where you focus, so by God’s grace stay focused on Him and His will for your life. Focused faith goes a long way toward experiencing God’s very best. Focused intensity on the Almighty’s agenda leverages His plan for your life. Focus brings freedom to do His will without reservation; so stay focused on the one thing He has called you to do and you will be amazed at the results. Become an expert in your field.
Above all else, become an intensely focused person of faith and character. Your character determines your credibility with people. Your influence grows as your character grows; so stay focused on becoming more like Jesus. Laugh more and complain less. Relax more and worry less. Pray more and talk less. Give more and control less. One idea is to focus on your family. Focus more intently on your family than you do your work or your hobbies. Put a puzzle together, take scuba diving lessons, plan a family reunion, organize a trip, or take care of a pet.
Daniel and his friends faced the same dilemma that we do today—how to live a holy life. At times, our society seems to accept Christian values and standards, but that’s not always the case. Our challenge is to live under God’s authority while remaining in submission to the law of the land. But what if we are forced to choose between the two? Our first inclination should be to seek the Lord’s guidance before marching forward.
Had Daniel bluntly declared, “I won’t eat this food!” he wouldn’t have lasted long, and we wouldn’t have the book of Daniel in the Bible. But the Lord gave him the wisdom to humbly seek permission from the person who was in a position of authority over him. God honored the young man’s commitment and provided a way for him to live righteously in a pagan world.
We tend to hold up Daniel and his three friends as extraordinary people who lived amazing lives. But they were regular people, just like us. Have you ever wondered what the Lord could do in the life of an ordinary person like you or me? The determining factor is not the individual’s greatness, but rather his or her commitment to a heavenly Father who can do remarkable things in a life fully devoted to Him. That’s the kind of person God is looking for.
Although we don’t know all that God could do in and through us if we radically committed ourselves to Him, the thought of missing out on His plans should be enough to motivate us to obey. On arriving in heaven, we don’t want to discover blessings were forfeited because we weren’t fully devoted to Him.
Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 37-39
Read: Psalm 30:1–12
Bible in a Year: Proverbs 3–5; 2 Corinthians 1
Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.—Psalm 30:5
I recently stumbled across some of my journals from college and couldn’t resist taking time to reread them. Reading the entries, I realized I didn’t feel about myself then the same as I do today. My struggles with loneliness and doubts about my faith felt overwhelming at the time, but looking back now I can clearly see how God has carried me to a better place. Seeing how God gently brought me through those days reminded me that what feels overwhelming today will one day be part of a greater story of His healing love.
Psalm 30 is a celebration psalm that similarly looks back with amazement and gratitude on God’s powerful restoration: from sickness to healing, from threat of death to life, from feeling God’s judgment to enjoying His favor, from mourning to joy (vv. 2–3,11).
The psalm is attributed to David, to whom we owe some of the most pain-filled laments in Scripture. But David also experienced restoration so incredible he was able to confess, “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (v. 5). Despite all the pain he had endured, David discovered something even greater—God’s powerful hand of healing.
If you are hurting today and need encouragement, recall those times in your past when God carried you through to a place of healing. Pray for trust that He will do so again. —Monica Brands
Lord, when our struggles feel bigger than what we can handle, help us to find comfort and strength in how You’ve carried us before.
God is lovingly working toward restoration and joy in and through the pain of our lives.
He seemed to brace himself for what had become the typical barrage of questioning after stating his occupation. The once unrecognized field of “forensic science” now comes attached with visions of beautiful men and women swabbing for DNA, replicating gunfire trajectories, decoding cyber movement, and piecing together the truth with hair, bugs, and CODIS. The tremendous popularity of forensic dramas has made crime scene investigating a household subject. So with a real forensic scientist standing in front of me, I admit it was hard to repress my enthusiasm. Predictably, I asked if he watched any of the shows. Humoring my line of questioning for the moment, he admitted that he did not.
The vast public intrigue with forensic science has been increasing as feverously as the viewerships of crime scene television. In Great Britain alone, the increase in students applying for forensic programs is up nearly 33 percent, attributed entirely to the influence of CSI, NCIS, Bones, and many similar programs.(1) They come into their programs believing they already know a great deal about the job because they have seen it all performed. In a more damaging vein, criminologists note the pervasive misinformation that is powerfully influencing criminal justice systems in various ways, particularly and significantly in the minds and expectations of jurors.(2)
Analysts refer to this global phenomenon of forensic pop culture and its consequences as the “CSI Effect,” though speculation on the reasons for our feverish embrace of the motif is wider ranging. In my own right, I find something compellingly clean in the uncomplicated movement from mystery and crisis through clues and evidence to truth. In less than an hour, viewers are taken from dark riddle to conclusive resolution. Truth and justice emerge plainly, even where deception, obscurity, and injustice once reigned. In the rare instance when the suspect does not personally own up to the crime after the facts have emerged, the science and its expert witnesses are so definitive that it hardly matters. The truth is clear.
For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.
— Ephesians 6:12
Are you facing challenging circumstances? Are you in need of provision in some area and not sure where it’s going to come from? Many Christians today are dealing with serious hardships. Some have lost their jobs and benefits. Others struggle with critical health problems and live with constant concern about how to cover the cost of medicine and doctor visits in addition to simple necessities such as shelter, food and clothing.
There are many things in the world that threaten us. But our biggest enemy—fear—is not “out there.”
Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that we are at war not with flesh and blood, but with the enemy of our souls. We must not be confused about the identity of the enemy in our battles.
Thankfully, our unseen God is more than capable of dealing with our unseen enemy. When we come to a deep understanding of God’s unconditional love for us, we realize He will always take care of everything that concerns us.
You don’t have to be afraid of your unseen enemy. Trust in God, the only One who can defeat the spiritual forces of darkness.
“The meek and lowly are fortunate! for the whole wide world belongs to them” (Matthew 5:5).
When you think of the word “meek,” does the name Casper Milquetoast or some other similar figure come to your mind? True meekness in no sense means or implies spinelessness. In truth, genuine meekness is patience in the face of injuries, insults, abuse and persecution, whether physical or mental. It is not cowardice or a surrender of our rights. Rather it is the opposite of anger, malice, prejudice or resentment.
Meekness today is seen in the actions of believers who allow God to be their defense instead of making an effort to avenge real or imagined hurts. It is patience in the midst of extreme difficulties or humility under fire, as described in 1 Corinthians 13. It hardly even notices when others make a mistake.
Certainly this is one of the major characteristics of our Lord who claimed to be gentle and humble at heart. Matthew 11:28,29: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy- laden, 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 shall find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28,29, NAS).
The meek, like our Lord, are those who have remarkable, controlled strength and are calm and peaceful when all around there is confusion and chaos. These are the ones who will inherit the earth, who will be sought out as leaders. They are the ones who will help to build a better world.
Bible Reading: James 4:5-10
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Dear Lord, I pray that you will help me to be meek as You count meekness. Give me a right reaction to insult and injury, real or imagined, to demonstrate strength under control following the example of my Lord.