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Being Still with God
A 366 Daily Devotional
By Richard Blackaby, Henry Blackaby
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 Dr.'s Richard and Henry Blackaby
All rights reserved.
He who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him.
1 John 3:24
A Fresh Beginning
"Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth ... I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert."
God uses events in our lives to shape us, to teach us, to grow us—and some of the key events are those sparked by sin (our own or someone sinning against us), by our missteps, by our confusion. Memories of the past, therefore, can too easily feel like shackles holding us to failures, regrets, ignorance, foolishness, and sin.
However, God doesn't want us bound to our past. When God saves us from the death we deserve for our sin, He frees us from the guilt and shame of our former life as well. He gives us a fresh beginning. He frees us to receive every good thing He wants to give us.
If your past feels like a wilderness, know that God wants to make a road through it, perhaps to help you navigate the difficult years and salvage the good. If your past feels like a desertland of death, know that God will make rivers of redemption flow as He brings beauty out of ashes. Embrace the fresh beginning God wants to give you.
Now That's Power!
"You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me ... to the end of the earth."
Diesel. Electrical. Mechanical. Hydroelectric. Nuclear. Atomic. There are many forms of power, but none is equal to that of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit's power is described by the Greek word dunamis, the root for dynamite and dynamic. Whereas dynamite destroys, dunamis gives life. This word for an active, energizing power implies a miracle or divine influence—and that's exactly what we need as we obey the resurrected Lord's command to be His witnesses.
Just as the Holy Spirit empowered Christ to fulfill His earthly assignment, we too need the Spirit. The Holy Spirit's power is absolutely essential to kingdom work, which is why Jesus told His disciples to wait for it (Acts 1:4–5). Jesus knew that His disciples could do more in a day in the Spirit's power than they could do in a lifetime on their own.
Jesus ministered and served, preached and taught, lived and died by the Holy Spirit's power, and now He gives His power to all who believe. As we walk in the Spirit's power, He will greatly impact the world through us.
So Abram said to Lot ... "Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left."
Lot faced a monumental decision. He had the opportunity to choose which land to settle—land that would support his family and his flocks now and in the future. It was a hugely important decision, so Lot looked around and surveyed the land carefully.
As Lot's uncle, Abraham could have pulled rank and had the first pick. But instead of carefully looking over the land, Abraham looked up to the Lord. Abraham's faith was in his unseen God. He did not make choices based on what looked most attractive to him, as Lot did. Instead Abraham acted with confidence that God would not only guide him but also accompany him in whatever direction He led him to go.
What is the basis for your decisions? Although we need to wisely consider the situation at hand, we must remember that appearances can be deceiving. When Lot chose the well-watered plain of Jordan, he also chose Sodom. So we must, like Abraham, look up to the Lord for His guidance when we need to make a choice.
Not My Will ...
[Jesus] said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will."
Just because something is the right thing to do doesn't mean it will be easy. Just because we face problems and obstacles doesn't mean we have missed or misunderstood God's will for us. All of us have undoubtedly faced times when doing God's will demanded all of our strength and determination—and our Savior has walked that path.
It's hard to imagine doing anything more difficult than what Jesus chose in Gethsemane. He was given the most difficult assignment possible. Misunderstood by His closest followers ... betrayed by one of the twelve He had poured His life into, denied by His most outspoken disciple, deserted by the rest ... arrested, unfairly tried, cruelly beaten, dying a criminal's brutal death on a cross, then facing the righteous wrath of God for the sin of humanity. This was the cup Jesus accepted in Gethsemane. Jesus submitted to God's plan and walked the path that caused Him to feel the unimaginable weight of all humanity's sin.
At times you—like your Savior and Lord—must make the difficult choice to put aside your own wishes and submit to God's will. God's way is not always the easy path, but it is always the right one.
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.
1 Timothy 1:12
Those whom God calls to a specific task He always enables. When the Lord sees we have been faithful in a little, He gives us more—and His "more" will always stretch us. We would find it easier to continue being faithful where we already are than to go to the next level in our walk with God, but then we would stop growing. So God puts us in places of greater service where we will fail unless we develop a greater trust in Him than we have ever had before.
But along with every challenging call comes God's perfect enabling. He is prepared to meet every need we will face as we step out in obedience and faith. He will grant us the strength we require to match every demand. He will bestow the wisdom we require to navigate every decision.
It is an awesome experience to realize that Almighty God is personally equipping you to serve Him. So if God is calling you to a new assignment, be encouraged! You are about to experience God in ways you have never known before.
God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM.... Say to the children of Israel: 'The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.'"
The Hebrew word for Lord, God's name, is YHWH. Translated "I AM" and used about seven thousand times in the Old Testament, this most sublime name of God was whispered by the high priest in the Most Holy Place once a year. Outside of that important occasion, the name was never written or uttered.
YHWH, or Yahweh, speaks of God as "He that always was, always is, and ever is to come." God revealed this name to Moses, and it became the name associated with the covenant between God and His people.
That Old Testament covenant has been fulfilled in the New Testament, enabling you to find forgiveness for your sins and to enjoy an intimate relationship with your heavenly Father. As you live out your faith, you will come to know God as Healer, Protector, Provider, Comforter, and Savior.
Your unique life experiences will reveal God's nature to you in countless personal ways. Ask Him to help you see this very day some of the ways He is revealing His character to you.
The Power of Scripture Beginning with Moses and All the Prophets
[Jesus] expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
As the two travelers walked toward Emmaus, their minds were swirling. How could Jesus have died? We were convinced He was the Messiah, but we saw Him nailed to the cross ... And the Eleven have scattered ... How could we have been so sure and so wrong about Jesus of Nazareth?
In times of confusion or uncertainty, Jesus will open the Scriptures to us. That's exactly what He—the resurrected Lord—did for those two men who were hungry for truth. The Scriptures are words of life that hold God's answers to whatever problems we face; they give reason for peace and hope, and they remind us of God's love and faithfulness.
God's Word is clear and direct, yet we tend to complicate it by debating it, adding to it, or being selective about what we read and believe. Ask the Holy Spirit to grant you insight into God's Word. Ask Him to use His truth to teach you, reassure you, and equip you to live your life and to serve Him. He will also use His Word to strengthen you for life's challenges so you are fully equipped for what He knows is coming next.
Grace to All
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham ...
Genealogy in this context means "origin," and the origin of Jesus of Nazareth was very important to first-century Jews wondering if He was in fact the long-awaited Messiah. Significantly, Matthew traced Jesus' lineage back through King David to Abraham, two key Jewish patriarchs.
Further reading reveals that the list includes four women. This is unusual not just because females were typically excluded from such records, but because of who these women were. Tamar had a scandalous relationship with Judah (Genesis 38); Rahab was a Canaanite harlot from Jericho (Joshua 2); Ruth was a Moabite (Ruth 1:4); and Bathsheba committed adultery with David (2 Samuel 11:1–12:25). Their inclusion reflects God's forgiveness and grace to all people.
God offers the same clemency to all people. His mercy is available to you and, through you, to others. Thank God for His amazing grace. Praise Him for opening your eyes to the reality of your sin and the good news of His forgiveness. Then let Him know you are available for His purposes—just as He used Rahab and Ruth and many other sinners and outsiders—to further His kingdom and to proclaim His grace to others.
Finding Strength in God
The word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest ... and the hand of the Lord was upon him there.
Ezekiel's name means "God will strengthen"—and God's strength is exactly what the prophet needed as he carried out his God-given assignment to proclaim judgment and restoration to the people of Judah during their Babylonian exile.
Ezekiel's ministry was marked by visions, prophecies, symbolic actions, and unpopular speeches. At times his actions appeared extreme: he set his face against a clay tablet (4:1–2), lay on one side for 390 days and on the other for 40 days (4:4–6), shaved off his hair (5:1–4), and spoke his many visions of judgment.
Under the triple burden of opposition, confusing circumstances, and an arduous assignment, Ezekiel remained faithful. He also knew that, in the midst of adversity, people do not need a better understanding of their plight; they need a fresh vision of God's majesty and the reminder that, no matter the crisis, God is sovereign.
Ezekiel's unique ministry exemplifies a life completely surrendered to God and committed to His purposes. The prophet serves as one of Scripture's most notable examples of being a living sacrifice in service to God. Ezekiel found his strength in the Lord, just as we must.
Life and Death
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Every human being will die, and that death is a doorway into an eternity of either separation from God or joyful living in His presence. Which path will be yours?
All of us are born in sin. We all inherit Adam's sinful nature; we don't stand a chance of living a life without sin. But God has made a provision for sinners who turn to Him. God sent Jesus to die for repentant sinners. Christians are therefore alive by faith, and we will never die spiritually.
Spiritual death is what Paul was referring to in Romans 6:23. In that verse death means something beyond the mere termination of physical life. The apostle was referring to spiritual death, a state of utter darkness and absolute abandonment. In spiritual death, our souls are without hope. In spiritual death, our souls are forever separated from the God whom a person refused to acknowledge during life.
So which eternal path will be yours? And which will be the destination of your loved ones, dearest friends, neighbors, and co-workers? You have an extremely important message to share with them. Make sure each person clearly knows what is at stake.
Contending for the Faith
I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
The Greek behind our word contend means "to earnestly struggle for something." It suggests striving against opposition as if in a battle. It describes a contestant straining for victory against a foe. Jude exhorts Christians to "contend ... for the faith" as combatants in a spiritual conflict.
Evil forces seek to rob us of our faith and disrupt our relationship with Jesus. Christ's adversary will do whatever is in his power to destroy the body of Christ—and this reality ought to keep us alert. We can't afford to treat our Christian faith casually. We need to guard it and nurture it. We need to fight for it. For what our enemy cannot do, our neglect and carelessness can.
In what ways is the Christian faith in general—and your faith in particular—being attacked today? More importantly, what are you doing to stand strong? Don't forget to put on the armor of God—the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:13–18). With prayer and the Holy Spirit, you are ready to do battle for your precious faith!
Always Within Us
He who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him.
1 John 3:24
Many things in your life will change over time. But thankfully, by God's grace, when the Holy Spirit enters the life of a believer, He's there to stay.
That is the implication of the Greek word translated abide: "to remain or stay in one place; to take up residence and live somewhere." The word emphasizes the permanence and faithfulness of God as He dwells within us, as He maintains a relationship with us.
We learn from Jesus Himself that God makes a believer's life a temple in which He dwells through His Spirit (John 15:4–7). That truth has profound implications for how we live. We are, for instance, to be good stewards of our body, which is the temple of God's Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).
Even as God abides in a believer's life, we are to abide in Him. To abide in God is to live in His presence and, as a result, to take on His characteristics. His life becomes our life as our life is hidden in Him.
We are therefore to face every situation and relate to every person with the distinct awareness that Jesus is always with us and within us. How is that affecting the way you are currently living?
Be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.
2 Peter 3:14
Webster's defines diligent as "characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort; painstaking" and "earnest application to some specific object or pursuit."
What God is telling us through Peter, then, is that we believers must never treat our spiritual life casually. We are to pursue the Christian life with great effort, for we know the day of the Lord is fast approaching.
We believers must also endeavor to maintain unity (Ephesians 4:3); to persevere to present ourselves approved unto God (2 Timothy 2:15); to seek carefully to enter God's rest (Hebrews 4:11); and to work to be found blameless (2 Peter 3:14). Similarly, the apostle Paul urged believers to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12).
What specific steps are you taking to "work out your salvation," to live a life that pleases your Lord? You'll be more successful if you have a specific plan—a program for reading the Bible, a person to pray with, a small group for Bible study and discussion, a church home in which to worship. As you invest time and effort in your relationship with God, you are investing in eternity. Be diligent in every area of your walk with Christ.
Excerpted from Being Still with God by Richard Blackaby, Henry Blackaby. Copyright © 2007 Dr.'s Richard and Henry Blackaby. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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