Sometimes silence is the best response to a false charge. At other times we must speak up.
Jesus told His listeners that no one could take His life from Him—He would lay it down willingly (John 10:18). This heart of voluntary surrender was prophesied by Isaiah, who wrote, “He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isa. 53:7).
Perhaps you feel as if you are mired in the “slough of despond.” Lift a song of praise to the Lord. The psalmist said, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever” (89:1). When we do that, the praise will flow not only from our lips but also from our heart. The Lord delights to give “the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isa. 61:3).
As we await our Savior’s return, let us keep on praying, working, and watching, while “looking for the blessed hope”—our only hope for this world.
In Ephesians 4, Paul called believers to that sort of decisive action. He said we are to “put off” the old self and its conduct that grieves the Holy Spirit (vv.22,30) and “put on” the new self that builds up others (v.24). As we rely on the help of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16), we can make those changes in our conduct, our thinking, and our speaking.
Obadiah condemned the Edomites for gloating: “You should not have gazed on the day of your brother in the day of his captivity; nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction” (Obad. 1:12).
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). And Peter said, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Trust Jesus. Don’t settle for the wrong gospel.
No matter where we go, the Lord’s people are there. The risen Christ is powerfully present in and through all who know Him. The Lord has His people where you are today. Look for them. Join them.
Christ is risen indeed!
Describing God’s continual concern for us, the psalmist declares, “He who keeps you will not slumber” (Ps. 121:3). In the context of this psalm, the writer makes it clear that God’s sleepless vigilance is for our good. Verse 5 says, “The Lord is your keeper.” God keeps us, protects us, and cares for us—with no need for refreshing. Our Protector is constantly seeking our good. As one song puts it: “He never sleeps, He never slumbers. He watches me both night and day.”
Truly servant-minded believers, though, don’t see it that way. They give preference to others (Rom. 12:10) because they know that God sees what others do not—and that He will reward those whose work is unseen by others (Matt. 6:4,6,18; 1 Cor. 12:24).
If you want to be an agent of change, don’t resist the true Agent of Change. He has your best interest—and His—at heart!
Our bodies, like amphorae, are temporary, fragile, and expendable. In our modern world that highly values outward beauty, we would be wise to remember that our greatest treasure is the life of Jesus within us. By God’s grace and power, may we live so that others can see Christ in us.(2 Cor. 4:7).
Ponder God’s love in Christ. Take time to reflect on how He gave His life for you. Read about Him in the Gospels, and thank Him.
Pray for the love of God. Ask Him to give you an understanding of His love and to teach you how to live that out in your relationships with your spouse and others (1 Cor. 13).
Practice the love of God. Give of yourself. A newlywed told me he thinks love is practical. He said, “My responsibility is to make life easier for my spouse.” The other, tougher side of love is to challenge each other to act in godly ways.
Love will grow when we ponder love, pray for love, and practice love.
There is a striking parallel between the misread compass and false biblical teaching. In 1 Timothy 1, Paul warned against “fables and endless genealogies” (v.4)—-man-made changes in the doctrines of God’s Word. People who teach false doctrines “have suffered shipwreck,” Paul concludes (v.19). Two people who opposed the Word of God by placing false teaching in its place, and who thus faced spiritual shipwreck, were Alexander and Hymenaeus (v.20).
The test of the effectiveness of following Jesus is not just in what we say but in how we live. Are we telling others God’s Word and doing what it says? Let’s model by words and actions what it means to follow Him.
Many people today have false hope that they can earn a place in heaven by working at being good or by doing good things. God’s standard of perfection, however, requires a totally sinless life. There’s no way any of us can ever be “good enough.” It is only through the sacrifice of the sinless Savior that we are made righteous. God made Jesus “who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Eternal life is given because of God’s gift of grace—not because of our good works (Eph. 2:8-9).
The central message of the Bible is one of rescue. Paul points out that none of us “deserve” God’s mercy and none of us can save ourselves. Like a stranded hiker, all we can do is call for help. Quoting the psalmist, he says, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God” (Rom. 3:10-11; Ps. 14:1-3).
In longing for some future good, we forget that every day—regardless of the weather or our circumstances—is a gift from God to be used for His glory.
What matters most to you? Sports? Soap Operas? Or loving God in thought, word, and action?
We often say that Jesus died for us, which of course is true. But there’s more to it than that. Because Jesus died on the cross, something inside of us died—the power of sin. It’s what Paul meant when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). We were essentially co-crucified with Him. With Jesus in the driver’s seat, the old destinations are off-limits. No more turning down the streets of self-centeredness, greed, or lust. No more off-road ventures into the swamp of pride or the ditch of bitterness. We were crucified with Him and He is at the wheel now! He died so that He alone can drive and define us.
For years, the apostle Paul traveled and preached before being imprisoned in Rome. There he continued to touch people with the gospel because he cared about them and wanted them to know Jesus Christ. The book of Acts concludes with Paul confined in Rome, living under guard in a rented house, where he “received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 28:30-31).
Paul said, “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Rom. 6:2). Our choices do reflect on God’s reputation, our witness in the world, and our fellowship with Him. But God will never reject His people, those who are truly His. The Lord cannot and will not forsake His own (Heb. 13:5).
Jesus said, “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 16:25).
Is your schedule demanding? Follow the example of Jesus and set aside a specific time for prayer. Then depend upon God’s power to help you meet each day’s demands.
An understanding of honesty begins with recognizing that God—our ultimate example—is truth (Deut. 32:4) and that He cannot lie (Num. 23:19; Heb. 6:18). Also, He hates falsehood (Prov. 6:16-19). Beyond that, all lies have as their originator Satan himself (John 8:44).
But no matter how far we may drift from God, He wants us near. He appealed to His people through the prophet Isaiah: “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance” (Isa. 55:2).
What else does God want to teach us in difficult times? That nothing is impossible with Him (Luke 1:37). That He who owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Ps. 50:10) is not limited by an economic downturn. That God hasn’t placed a moratorium on the Great Commission nor abandoned us (Matt. 28:20). Let’s not put our hopes on worldly prosperity, but on the One who owns it all!
Avoid words that reflect poorly on who we are as God’s children. Paul’s admonition to “let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth” (Eph. 4:29) sets a strong standard for the righteous use of words.
We have Someone who loves us with a devotedness that is a mystery how we as sinners ever deserved it! He is God the Father, “who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all” (Rom. 8:32). His love is wide, long, deep, and high and exceeds our knowledge (Eph. 3:18-19).
It is always the best course for us to let God choose and to follow His direction, knowing as we do that all our heavenly Father’s choices are prompted by infinite wisdom and love.
April 2012 Devotionals