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.
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:23-33
1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” In the context of this verse, Paul is instructing the Corinthian church concerning the issue of eating meat that has been offered to idols. There is a simple principle that is taught here. Some things are lawful but may not be best. In other words, there are some things that may not be necessarily sinful, but we must consider whether or not they are right for us. Just because something is not sinful does not mean it is good for you. Every person should be convinced in their own heart of what is right and wrong. As Christians, we should never violate our conscience or lead someone else to do the same. That is why in whatever we choose to do, we must do so with a heart of worship and give glory to God in everything. A fundamental principle that we should all live by is that if you cannot bring God glory through it, then don’t do it. Anything that does not give God glory is worldly. As you go about your day and make decisions as to what you will do, be sure to ask yourself: is what I am thinking of doing going to bring God glory? If not, then it is not worth doing.
What is God saying to me: A give you freedom to choose what to do and how to live within the boundaries of my Word. Whatever you choose to do, it must bring Me glory.
What should I do today: Be conscience of the choices I make today and make sure that in all I do, God is glorified.
Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 18
Ezekiel chapter 18 gives a tremendous explanation concerning human responsibility. Within the scope of God’s sovereignty, mankind has been gifted with a free will. With such freedom, comes great responsibility. Every person is responsible for his or her own sins. You cannot blame someone else and you certainly cannot blame God. Ezekiel 18 gives the illustration of a father and a son. The son is not responsible for his father’s sins. Neither is the father responsible for the sins of his son. Each person is responsible for their own actions. We all must give an account before God and we must all repent accordingly. As for God, He is full of grace and mercy. Ezekiel 18:32 speaks of the fact that God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. It is His desire that all come to repentance and are saved from the tragic consequence of sin. No matter how you look at it; you cannot take away human responsibility. We are all responsible for our own actions. Search your heart today. What do you need to repent of?
What is God saying to me? I love you. I want you to repent and turn to me. It breaks my heart when you sin. Your sin hurts our relationship. Repent and turn to me and I will forgive you.
What should I do today? Search my heart and see if there is any unconfessed sins. Repent of those sins.
Scripture Reading: Romans 7:7-25
Romans 7:7-25 talks about the struggle with sin. Let’s face it. We all struggle with sin. In those moments of physical, mental, and spiritual tiredness and weakness; we are prone to sin. In those moments in our lives, we tend to be more likely to engage in sinful activity than not. This is the depravity of our hearts and minds. It is an inescapable struggle. The struggle will never end until our sanctification is complete when we are glorified at our entrance into Heaven. How do we endure through the struggle? We know we will never be sinless in this life, but we can sin less. Here are a few ways to reduce sin in our lives:
1. Read and Study the Bible daily.
2. Pray constantly.
3. Connect with other believers at church and throughout the week.
4. Eliminate the opportunities for sin.
The first three ways to reduce sin is fairly self-explained. However, the fourth requires further thought. To eliminate opportunities for sin means to understand your weaknesses and to avoid situations that will make you more susceptible to sin. For example, if sexual lust is a weakness for you: avoid being alone with nothing to do, keep yourself busy, have safeguards in place on your electronic devices, avoid places and activities where people are most likely to dress immodestly, etc. If envy or greed is an issue for you: avoid going shopping by yourself, put spending limits on your debit/credit cards, etc. We can name any type of sinful practices and come up with practical ways to eliminate the opportunities for sin.
When it comes to our struggle with sin we must take comfort in the fact that we are forgiven. However, we must also fight. Do not allow sin to control you. Do not allow sin to define you. Stay close to Jesus and stay as far away from sin as possible.
What is God saying to me: You are forgiven if you trust in me. You do not have to sin. I have given you the Holy Spirit to empower you. I am with you in your struggle.
What should I do today: Make a fresh commitment to practicing basic spiritual disciplines and take steps to eliminate the opportunities for sin.
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 16:32
My family enjoys competition. Everything we do will often turn in to some type of competition. Over the years we have even created our own games in order to compete with one another. This is an enjoyable thing for our family; and it brings much laughter and smiles. Innocent competition is different, however, than conflict. Competition is constructive, whereas, conflict is destruction. Competition builds character and strengthens relationships. Conflict reveals the heart and turns friends into foes.
Throughout our lives we are faced with times of conflict. Many conflicts begin as simple misunderstandings. If we would learn to talk to one another and work through our differences most conflicts would never occur. Conflict occurs when there is a lack of communication. It occurs when people resort to gossip and slander. When someone comes to me with a complaint about another person, I quickly remind them of the words of Jesus. I encourage them to go to the person that they have a problem with and work it out in love and grace. Unfortunately, we fail in taking Biblical steps to resolve conflict because we feel that in doing so we lose. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s not about being right. It’s about coming together and seeking the Lord, searching the scriptures, and coming to a resolution based on truth. Resolving conflict takes work. It is hard. The cowardly and ungodly way of handling conflict is by gossip, slander, and fanning the flame to make things worse than they really are. The mature and wise way to handle conflict is through love, grace, and patience. Proverbs 16:32 says, “Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s temper than capturing a city.”
What is God saying to me: Follow my teachings on handling conflict. Do not allow problems to fester. Do not give in to gossip and slander. Communicate clearly and pray for those with whom you have conflict.
What should I do today: Practice patience in dealing with conflict. Remember, it’s not about winning, it’s about doing what is right and following the truth.
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 2:10-11
Proverbs 2:10-11 says, “When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee.” I am sure that you have heard it said before that there is a right and a wrong way to do things. Sometimes we have the right idea concerning a matter, but the way we approach the issue is counterintuitive. A lack of wisdom, discernment, and discretion comes from a heart that is not in tune with the knowledge and will of God. Wisdom, discernment, and discretion does not come merely from education. It comes from experience and trust. Experience in successes and failures. Trust in the Lord, who alone can grant true wisdom. Doing things in haste, having ulterior motives, vying for position, making emotional decisions, gossip, a lack of prayer; these are just a few evidences of a lack of wisdom. A lack of wisdom in the life of a Christian is a sign of a weak relationship with God. To increase in wisdom, discernment, and discretion one must be found faithful in spiritual disciplines. Daily Bible study, a consistent and continuous prayer life, faithful church attendance, meditating on God’s Word, giving, discipleship; these are a few of the spiritual disciplines that produces wisdom, discernment, and discretion. Wisdom brings peace and satisfaction, whereas, foolishness brings heartache and disappointment. Pursue wisdom, discernment, and discretion. Ask God to give you these things. Apply them to every circumstance in your life.
What is God saying to me: I am willing and ready to grant you widom. If you will call upon me and trust me I will give you wisdom freely.
What should I do today: Seek wisdom in every circumstance of my life.
Scripture Reading: Psalm 27:1
We all have certain fears in life. Some have simple fears such as the fear of spiders or snakes. Others have more serious fears such as the fear of death. One of my fears is the fear of certain medical procedures that I hope I never have to endure. At times, I will also have a fear of failure and a fear of confrontation. There is also the fear of saying the wrong thing or making a poor decision. Perhaps you can identify with some of these fears. Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid.” Jesus is the light that helps us navigate through life. He is our salvation when we make a mistake. He guides us and He rescues us. There is no mistake or failure that He cannot deliver us from. There is no fearful circumstance that He cannot guide us through. The issue has to do with our focus. Are we focused on our fears or are we focused on Jesus? When we focus on our fears, we will most certainly fall. When we focus on Jesus, there is nothing to fear.
What is God saying to me: I know you have fears. But, you need to understand that there is nothing to fear as long as you trust Me. I will guide you. I will deliver you. Trust Me.
What should I do today: Focus on Jesus. Don’t allow my fears to overwhelm me.
Scripture Reading: Romans 8:27 ; James 5:16
James 5:16 teaches us to pray for one another. Romans 8:27 talks about the ministry of intercession and how the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. In Upmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, he asks the question: are you helpful or heartless? Too often we tend to be heartless. We see someone who is hurting and we just pat them on the back and tell them its going to be okay. We shrug our shoulders and tell people to just get over it. To intercede for someone is to stand in the gap for them. It is stand up for them and support them and encourage them. It is to pray for them, not in a flippant way, but with passion. We will often pray for others in a general sense, but do we ever pray for them specifically? The church is a family. As a family we are to look out for one another. We are to protect each other. We are to provide for one another. We are to help each other. We are to serve one another. We are to pray for one another. Who is God leading you to intercede for? Ask God to lay someone on your heart today. Pray for the them. Give them a call and let them know you are praying for them. Help them by doing something tangible that will lighten their load. We should intercede for each other as the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.
What is God saying to me? The Holy Spirit intercedes on your behalf. Now, I want you to intercede for others.
What should I do today? Find someone to pray for and offer to help them.