Scripture Reading: Proverbs 15
Proverbs 15:5 tells us, “A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent.” In our selfish sinful pride, we tend to buck against being corrected. We like to think we have all the answers and that no one can teach us anything. We are often skeptical of instruction from others. However, the wisest amongst us are those who are careful to pay attention to instruction and receives correction with joy. We should be careful in proceeding with any plan without counsel from others. As Proverbs 15:22 states, “Without counsel, plans go awry. But in the multitude of counselors they are established.” In order to be successful in business and in ministry it is imperative that we learn to listen to others. We must seek after wise counsel. It behooves us to pay attention to correction from others especially when it comes from multiple sources. It could be that God is trying to communicate something to us that would help us to improve and be more successful. When we are corrected, we should be careful how we respond. Proverbs 15:28 says, “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.” When we fail to listen to correction, we find ourselves getting angry and retaliating against those who are trying to help us. Therefore, we should be careful and wise in our response. Our growth and success in life depends upon how we respond to those who God places in our lives to instruct us and to correct us. Proverbs 15:31-33 says, “The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise. He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding. The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility.”
What is God saying to me: I place people in your life for a reason. Listen to the instruction and correction from those godly people that I have placed in your life. Pay careful attention to correction that comes from multiple people and sources.
What should I do today: Consider the counsel, instruction, and correction from others. Respond in a positive way in order to learn and to grow.
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 15
First Corinthians 15 provides an apologetic of the death and resurrection of Christ. In the first four verses the Apostle Paul mentions how Christ died for our sins and rose from the grave according to the scriptures. To Paul this meant that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. Now that we have both the Old and New Testaments, we can include the entirety of God’s Word in Paul’s statement, ‘according to the scriptures.’ A belief in the resurrection of Christ begins with a presuppositional belief that the scriptures is in fact the Word of God and it is without any mixture of error and completely trustworthy. Such a strong faith in the validity of scriptures is not a blind faith. It is a highly intellectual faith. The evidence supporting the validity of the scriptures is astounding. Just as strong as the evidence for the scriptures, so is the evidence concerning the resurrection of Christ. It is a proven historical fact that Jesus Christ rose from the grave. The evidence is insurmountable and is far beyond scrutiny. It is such evidence that provides validity to our faith. The Christian faith is not just another religion based on philosophies and ideas of men. The Christian faith is historically factual and is proven time and again as the only true religion. In fact, it is more then a religion, for it is based on a personal relationship with the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. How strong is your faith? Do you believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus? Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God? “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
What is God saying to me? I have given you all the proof needed for you to believe in Me. I gave my Son to die for you. He rose again from the grave. He is the only way of salvation.
What should I do today? Examine the evidence. Make sure my faith is standing firm on the rock of Jesus.
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
In Second Corinthians 12:7 Paul mentions that he had an issue in his life that he referred to as his thorn in the flesh. The purpose of this thorn, Paul says, is to keep him humble. To keep him from being “exalted above measure.” This thorn was such an irritation to Paul that he identified it as a “messenger of Satan” and even asked God to remove it from his life on three different occasions. No one really knows what this ‘thorn in the flesh’ was. Most speculate that it was some type of physical ailment that Paul had to deal with. Some say it may have been a sinful habit that Paul continually battled. Perhaps the thorn was a person who constantly opposed Paul and made life difficult for him. We all have ‘thorns in the flesh.’ For me, I have many. I am sure if we are all honest, we would all admit to several ‘thorns in the flesh.’ These thorns may not necessarily be bad or evil, but they are things that Satan uses to try to distract us and keep us from being our best for God’s glory. However, God has a way of using what Satan intends for destruction and using it for our good. Some thorns God may choose to remove, while others He may choose to keep them there. These thorns keep us humble and keep us as at a place where we fully rely on God. If we had no thorns, then our faith may become weak. It is the very existence of thorns that keeps us focused on Christ alone and thus increases our faith. Paul realized this when he wrote, “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.” Instead of complaining about the thorns, give them to the Lord. Pray and ask that His perfect will and plan be done. As long as the thorns remain, thank God for them. For it is the thorns that leads us to trust in Christ more and thus be filled with His power.
What is God saying to me: I allow the thorns in your life for a reason. I will remove them at the appropriate time. However, you must trust in Him and know that I have your best in mind.
What should I do today: Ask God to help you accept the thorns and respond to them in the appropriate way.
Scripture Reading: Judges 3:1-7
In Judges chapter three, we find a very obscure passage that has a very interesting message. In verse one and four, it talks about how God was going to leave certain nations in order to prove or test Israel. This brings to mind what the apostle Paul said about having a thorn in the flesh. Sometimes God will leave or allow certain things in our lives in order prove us. It may be a certain physical problem, a circumstance, or even a relationship. We may pray for God to remove such thorns in our lives, yet He chooses not to. These things that God chooses not to remove from us may be there to keep us humble, develop patience, increase our wisdom, help us mature, keep us focused, among other things. If there is something in your life that you have been praying for God to remove and it seems that He leaves it there, it could be that it is not God’s will to remove it. It could be that it is a necessary thorn that God has allowed in your life in order to keep you on your toes. Don’t be saddened or frustrated when God does not remove the thorns. Be thankful. God is using those thorns for your own good and for His glory. What thorns do you have in your life? How is God using those thorns to make you stronger?
What is God saying to me? Those things in your life that you keep asking me to remove are there for a reason. I am leaving those thorns in your life for your own good. Those thorns are there to protect you from things you cannot see. Trust me. I know what is best for you.
What should I do today? Be thankful for the thorns in life. Embrace those things and allow them to make me stronger.
Scripture Reading: Joshua 1:1-9
From the Pastor’s Heart
In Joshua chapter one, we read the historical account of the passing of the torch of leadership to Joshua after the death of Moses. In God’s call upon Joshua He encourages him with these words: “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant command thee: turn not to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.” God continues His encouragement to Joshua with this promise: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” God desires to bless us and to give us success in all that we do. God is our biggest fan. He is cheering for us. He wants us to succeed in our service for Him in this world. However, success does not come easy. Our success is directly tied to our obedience to the Word of God. When we live in obedience to God’s Word, He will make our way prosperous and we will have success. There is a strong application here for the church. We cannot expect God to do a great work in and through us unless we are obedient to His Word. Such obedience starts with each of us as individual believers. If all of us are living in obedience to God’s Word on a personal level, then there will naturally be perfect unity and obedience within the church which will invite the blessing of God. May God help us all to live in obedience to His Word each and every day so that God may bless His church and give us good success.
What is God saying to me: Obey my Word and I will bless you in all that you do for my Kingdom.
What should I do today: Spend time in the study of God’s Word. Apply God’s Word to my daily life. Live in obedience to God’s Word.
Scripture Reading: John 14:27
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) Jesus came to give peace to all who believe on Him. It is not a peace that the world gives. The peace that the world gives is fleeting. It cannot be trusted. It is a false peace. There is no security in this world and there will be no peace until Jesus establishes His kingdom. However, the peace that comes from the Kingdom of God can be realized in our hearts today. Even in a world that is full of conflict and turmoil, there is peace in the hearts of those who are citizens of that heavenly kingdom. Therefore, we are encouraged to have no fear and to be not troubled in our hearts. Though the world around us is troubled and fearful, we can live in peace and security. This peace and security is found in knowing Jesus. It is found in trusting in the one who came as a humble baby in Bethlehem. As we celebrate Christmas and embark on a new year. Be encouraged. Do not allow the turmoil of this world to get you down. Trust in Jesus. He alone can give you peace in a troubled world.
What does it mean? True peace can only be found in knowing Jesus.
What is God saying to me? Stop being fearful of the circumstances around you. Trust in me. I will give you complete peace in the midst of this troubled world.
Scripture Reading: Psalm 18:30
Psalm 18:30 says, “As for God, His way is perfect: the Word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him.” Though we may not understand the ways of men and why things transpire the way that they do; we must take comfort in the fact that God’s way is always the best way. His way is perfect. How do we know His way? By taking heed to His Word. The Word of God is tried. It has been tested. It has been proven to be 100% accurate. Therefore, when we trust in Him, He is our buckler. He is our shield, our protection. It does not matter how much the world is in turmoil and how many dangers that await us, we need not fear. He covers us like a mother hen covering her chicks. There is no need for us to hide. We can live our lives with joy and peace, knowing that He is in control. Therefore, we must march on. We must move forward. For He is our shield. We can engage the world with confidence, knowing that God is on our side. Fill your heart with God’s Word. Regain your confidence in His way. Live beneath the shadow of His wings and you will experience a joy and peace that is beyond description.
What is God saying to me?
You don’t have to worry about the world around you. Just trust in me. There is no need to hide. I will be your shield.
What should I do today?
Read God’s Word. Trust in His promises.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 17
In Matthew 17 we have the account of the transfiguration. Peter makes an interesting comment when he tells Jesus that it is good for them to stay there and that they should build a tabernacle and just stay fixed in that moment. Have you ever had an encounter with Jesus that you did not want to end? Everyday we need to be in our prayer closet. Everyday we need to come into the presence of the Lord and spend time with Him. Nothing should every replace or come in the way of our personal time with Jesus. There will come a day when we will constantly be in the presence of the Lord. There is coming a day when we will forever worship around His throne and we will enjoy His presence and the rest we have in Him. However, that day is not now. We are here on this earth as ambassadors of Jesus Christ and we have a job to do. Therefore, as wonderful as the daily prayer closet is; we cannot stay in the prayer closet. We have responsibilities. There is work to be done. We cannot just pray and do nothing. We cannot just stay camped out in the prayer closet. We must come out and face the day and fulfill our responsibilities as ambassadors of Jesus Christ. Have you been in your prayer closet today? Do you wish you can just stay there forever? It’s good to have that moment every day. We cannot be whom God would have us to be without it. However, you can’t stay there all day. You have to come out. You have to face the world. You have to share the Jesus you encountered in the prayer closet with the world around you.
What is God saying to me: Spend time with me today. Come into my presence. But, don’t camp out in the prayer closet. Come out and go into the world and serve me.
What should I do today: Come out of the prayer closet and make a difference in the world for Jesus.
Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:7-21
What does it mean to be perfected? What is truly the end of sanctification? Is it to achieve perfection? Oswald Chambers said, “Christian perfection is not, and never can be, human perfection. Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship with God that shows itself true even amid seemingly unimportant aspects of human life.” The true purpose of sanctification is to bring us to a place of oneness with Christ. To be like Him. It is to be connected with Him in such a way that it is as if we are Him. The goal of sanctification is not human perfection; it is Jesus. Chambers writes, “I am called to live in such a perfect relationship with God that my life produces a yearning for God in the lives of others, not admiration for myself. Thoughts about myself hinder my usefulness to God.” Stop trying to be perfect; just be with Jesus. Our usefulness increases not by how perfect or sinless we are. Our usefulness increases the closer we are to Him. “God’s purpose is not to perfect me to make me a trophy in His showcase; He is getting me to a place where He can use me.”
What God is saying to me: My desire for you is not that you would be a perfect human, but, that you would be with Me. The goal is not perfection. The goal is Me. When you are with Me, then you will be perfect.
What should I do today: Take steps to close to God.
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 40:25-31
Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.” The word ‘wait’ in this passage is much more powerful than we may realize. It’s meaning is much deeper than we may understand. It comes from the Hebrew word “qavah (kaw-vaw)”. It means to bind together by twisting and to expect patiently. To wait on the Lord is not just to sit and do nothing. To wait on the Lord is to be wrapped up in Him. To be bound together with the Lord. As we are wrapped up in Jesus, we can expect that He will give us strength. When we are weary and stressed, we can patiently expect that our strength will be renewed as we are wrapped up in Him. We can run and walk through the maze of this life and not grow weary or faint because we are wrapped up in Jesus and He is our strength. We can soar through life’s difficulties like an eagle because we are holding on to the rope that is ourselves and Jesus twisted tightly together. The key to having our strength renewed is to be wrapped up in Jesus. How do we wrap ourselves up in Jesus? By faithful and careful attention given to the spiritual disciplines of daily Bible reading, prayer, meditation, etc. The closer we are to Jesus, the closer He is to us. The more we intertwine our lives with Jesus, the stronger we will be.
What is God saying to me? Intertwine your life in Me and I will strengthen you. As long as you are connected to Me you will soar like an eagle and will be victorious over life’s difficulties.
What should I do today? Wrap myself up in Jesus. Spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer so that I may be closely tied to Jesus.