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God's Spirit continually reveals what human nature is like apart from His grace.
EVERYTHING OR NOTHING?
Who are we apart from God? We are everything, or we are nothing. Everything (or so we think)—if we tell ourselves we don't need his help and can rely on our own strength and power. Nothing—if we realize our utter dependence on him and our place in the created order. Are you willing to admit that you are nothing so that Jesus can be everything to you? Or are you holding on to areas of your life you think you can handle without him?
Believing in God doesn't always mean we trust him fully. But he is there for us, if we will accept his grace and appreciate how lost we are without him. Don't hold onto your life. Let it go, into the loving arms of the Savior.
Read John 15:5.
LORD JESUS, MAY I BECOME NOTHING SO YOU CAN BE EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE.
There is only one unhappiness: not to love God.
At face value, we might disagree that there is only one unhappiness. Why, we can recite a litany of things that make us unhappy! Unhappiness seems to come in significant doses every day of our lives.
But when we look deeper, beyond our outer circumstances and into the inner recesses of our hearts and souls, we have to ask: what do we do with the deep secrets that cannot be solved by any human intervention?
When we do not love God, we have nothing to cling to; we have no hope. That is why not loving God is the only true unhappiness. Without him, we have nothing. The converse, however, is that in loving God, we find everything we need for this life and the life to come.
Read Matthew 6:25–34.
GOD, HELP ME THROUGH THIS DAY TO SEEK AND TO EXPERIENCE MY ULTIMATE HAPPINESS IN LOVING YOU.
Bernard Of Clairvaux
Dignity is nothing without knowledge, and knowledge can even be a stumbling block without virtue.
HEAD AND HEART
Few people like a know-it-all, but we are happy to have an expert in the IT department fix our computer, an expert plumber fix the leaky pipe, an expert surgeon perform an appendectomy, or an expert accountant handle the books for our business. Their knowledge is invaluable to us.
Yet knowledge can be a stumbling block if it is without virtue. You want experts to fix what you can't, but you also want them to be honest. That experienced but dishonest accountant could siphon funds from your account without you even noticing. Knowledge loses its dignity and becomes an obstacle if it is used for evil rather than for God. Paul wrote that "Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up" (1 Corinthians 8:1 HCSB).
Pursue knowledge, but let your knowledge be used for God's glory. Let holiness be your guide.
Read 1 Corinthians 8:1–3.
JESUS, I WANT MY KNOWLEDGE TO BE SEALED BY VIRTUE AND USED FOR YOUR PURPOSES.
Faith is not a blind leap in the dark! It is instead based squarely on what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.
A BLIND LEAP?
Certainly faith involves making an intellectual assent to the truth of God revealed in creation and history. And yet, we can have an intellectual belief in the historical life and death of Jesus, but not have saving faith—a faith that promises eternal rescue from sin.
Saving faith comes down to Jesus. What do we believe about Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection from the dead? Do we say with our minds and our hearts, "Yes, I believe in Christ and receive what he has done for me"?
At some point, we all have to answer that question. For some, saying yes may feel like taking a leap, a wild jump, in the dark. But it isn't.
We can trust our souls to God because of what Jesus has done for us.
We can say, "Yes! I believe" without fear.
Read Romans 5:1–2.
THANK YOU, HEAVENLY FATHER, FOR REVEALING YOURSELF TO ME.
Donald S. Whitney
As sleep and rest are needed each day for the body, so silence and solitude are needed each day for the soul.
How often has someone responded to your question, "How are you?" with the answer: "I am so busy," followed by a verbal list of tasks completed that day? Somehow, being busy has become a marker of success in our culture. We have come to believe that busy is a synonym for productive, useful, and important.
What happens, however, when our very busyness not only affects our physical rest but our spiritual rest as well? Are we so focused on our tasks that we miss the soul-strengthening moments within a day—sitting quietly before God in silence, enjoying creation, being thankful?
What if we adopted a new way of living, reflected in a new answer to "How are you?" What if we learned to say (and live out) these words: "I am giving myself permission to slow down and find moments of silence and solitude in each day"?
Might we have healthier hearts? Might we be closer to our Father?
Read Isaiah 30:15.
FATHER, HELP ME MAKE SILENCE AND SOLITUDE A PRIORITY.
Jesus Christ allowed his men to fail in order to learn.
LESSONS FROM LOSING
Failure. We don't like the word anywhere near us. We don't want it in ourselves, in our children, in our home, in our workplace. We all long for success.
A study of top university athletes revealed that more than 60 percent came from wealthy families. After extensive interviews, researchers discovered that these students became involved in a sport because it provided a venue in which they could succeed or fail, and their parents' money would have no influence. They couldn't "buy" a sports record; they had to earn it. Losing and coming back for more led to better focus and greater discipline.
The Bible tells us Peter failed. Thomas failed. John Mark failed. From failure, they gained humility and perspective and, as a result, became heroes of the faith. Have you failed? Don't let that stop you. Ask God to teach you the lesson he has for you in the failure—and then get back into the game!
Read John 20:24–29.
LORD, USE EVEN MY MISTAKES AND FAILURES TO MAKE ME A BETTER SERVANT OF YOU.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
As I grow older I am pleasantly surprised at how relevant theology has become in my perception.
SEEK AND FIND
We may laugh at the irony, but it's true: the older we get, the smarter our parents become. When we move into our own lives, experience a few knocks, and then have children of our own, suddenly we begin to understand our parents' worries and fears for us. We understand their rules and restrictions, for now we are far too aware of what's "out there," and we want to protect our children from those threats.
Similarly, as we get older, we may discover that theology increases in relevance as well. Our knowledge and understanding of God grows deeper and wider as we willingly engage the greater issues and study the teachings and writings of those who came before. As we advance in years, we must continue to make it a priority to know the Lord more fully, for he will continue to make himself known.
Read Isaiah 46:4.
MAY YOU AND YOUR WORD MEAN MORE TO ME AS I GROW OLDER, LORD.
Teresa Of Avila
If you should at times fall, don't become discouraged and stop striving to advance. For even from this fall God will draw out good.
It is ironic that what seems like failure to us can be turned into a monumental step forward by God. Bodybuilders know that muscle must be broken down by stressing it; only then can it rebuild in a much stronger form. Musicians know that the minor notes in a symphony can add a mysterious tone to the concerto that major notes cannot evoke. Bakers know that when they pinch off a section of dough and let it become "sour," it can serve as yeast to raise a dozen future batches of sweet rolls.
The Lord can advance us in similar ways. Peter denied Christ three times, but this led to all-out devotion. John Mark was sent home from a mission trip, but he matured and became invaluable to Paul. If you fail (and you will), know that God can draw good from the situation. Don't become discouraged. Move forward. God is with you.
Read 2 Timothy 3:10–17.
LORD, TURN EVEN MY MISTAKES—MY STUMBLING BLOCKS—INTO STEPPING-STONES FOR YOUR KINGDOM.
Lloyd John Ogilvie
Whenever the Lord touches a raw nerve in us, it means that He is ready to heal it.
THE CLEANSING PAIN
The very day after a person has surgery, nurses get the patient on his or her feet for a walk. It's agonizingly painful, but it keeps the blood circulating, lessening the chance of clots and hastening the healing process. Similarly, if someone comes to the emergency room because of an accident, that person's wound is first cleansed of all dirt, then is doused in antiseptic. This cleansing process is frightfully painful, but it assists the body in warding off infection.
Often in our Christian lives, we must endure some pain in order to be healed. Saul (soon to be the apostle Paul) was made blind for three days before God restored his sight, thus giving him a lesson in spiritual blindness. Jesus made Peter tell him three times that he loved him after Peter had denied Jesus three times, thus helping Peter see that Jesus was fully forgiving him.
The pain is part of the plan. God is there, holding you up. Lean on him.
Read John 21:15–19.
LORD, GIVE ME THE INSIGHT TO SEE MY SUFFERING AS EVIDENCE OF YOUR LOVE IN MY LIFE.
John of the Cross
This dark night is an inflow of God into the soul that purges it of its habitual ignorances and imperfections, natural and spiritual.
SEEING GOD IN THE DARKNESS
The dark night of the soul is a time when God seems distant, when our soul seems lost. But purpose exists in the darkness. In any worthwhile venture, pain precedes gain, hurt comes before health, cleansing precedes completeness. During these dark seasons, God works in our inner being so we will turn from habits that bring destruction to develop a Christlike character. Like polluted water that flows through a filter, our souls will be purified.
Often when the night is blackest, we feel God has abandoned us. Yet God is working even then. Like the moon hidden by an eclipse, God is present but not visible.
During the dark times, allow God to work. You will see him again. And, better, you will be cleansed, made right, brought whole.
Hang on. Endure the night. Joy comes in the morning.
Read Psalm 30:5.
DO YOUR CLEANSING WORK IN MY HEART, O GOD.
If Christ be in us there will be communion.... And if Christ be formed within us we cannot remain altogether ignorant of his presence.
With Christ in us, we have communion with God and with one another. What a wonderful reminder of the oneness we have in Jesus—the answer to his prayer that we would be one, even as he and the Father are one (John 17:11).
How blessed is that communion! The moment we discover that we are fellow believers in Christ, we feel a closeness with complete strangers that we have not felt before. It may be a group gathered at church, students meeting in the local school for a prayer meeting, or even words spoken across the checkout line. The family of God enjoys immediate fellowship within its circle. And where two or three are gathered in Christ's name, he is present.
We cannot remain ignorant of his presence, for it is what draws us together in the first place. No wonder we are at home wherever we find fellow believers.
Read Matthew 18:19–20.
LORD, I THANK YOU THAT MY CHRISTIAN FAMILY IS EVERYWHERE I TURN.
C. S. Lewis
Every step ... from the Absolute to "Spirit" and from "Spirit" to "God," had been a step toward the more concrete, the more imminent, the more compulsive.
DRAW NEAR TO GOD
We need God; he does not need us. Often we are like a hapless sailor in a boat who throws a rope at a rock, hoping it will provide security and stability. When the rock is lassoed, it's not the sailor pulling the rock to the boat (though it may appear that way); it is the pulling of the boat to the rock.
The closer we get to God, the more real he becomes. He's the rock. If you are physically distraught, he is the lifeline that saves your drowning soul. If you are spiritually famished, he is the umbilical cord that provides nourishment to your starving spirit. If you are emotionally depleted, he is the second wind that enables you to go the distance.
Think of yourself in that boat being pulled to safety by a loving Father.
Read James 4:8.
I WILL HOLD ON TO YOU TODAY, LORD. YOU'RE MY ROCK.
V. Raymond Edman
Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light.
ONLY A GLIMMER
Combat soldiers are disciplined in how to sight an enemy down the barrel of a rifle, gauge the range, and then pull the trigger. But what about at night, when there is no sunshine to make the enemy visible? During the Vietnam War the military developed a special telescope called the Starlight Scope. This amazing piece of technology could amplify the gleam of stars to many times their normal brightness, making it seem like daylight for the soldier looking through it.
As Christians we sometimes feel alone, abandoned, and surrounded in darkness. In those times we are tempted to doubt God's promises, God's faithfulness, God's goodness. After all, we don't seem to be experiencing them.
Do not doubt in the dark what God told you in the light, for his words are always and forever true.
Read Micah 7:8–13.
LORD, I TRUST YOU EVER TO BE THE LIGHT OF MY LIFE.
We may know that God is love, Know his Father's heart.... We have seen what hath sufficed In the face of Jesus Christ.
THE FACE OF JESUS CHRIST
How amazing it is that God wants you to know his heart. He wants you to know how much he loves you. The Creator of the world, the Holy One who is above and beyond anything you can imagine, wants to know you.
How do you know the love of God? How do you know the Father's heart? The answer is found in the face of Jesus Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul gives a clue to that truth. God has given light in the darkness, and that light shines in our hearts so we can know the glory of God through the face of Jesus. It is Jesus who gives the perfect picture of God. When you know Jesus, you know God.
He wants you to know his heart. He wants you to know how much he loves you. And when you know him, you can't help but return that love to him.
Read 2 Corinthians 4:6.
THANK YOU, FATHER, FOR SHOWING YOUR FACE TO ME IN JESUS. I DESIRE TO LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will.
CLIMB THE MOUNTAIN
The picture was sobering. At 6:01 P.M. on April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who had been standing with some friends and colleagues on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, was murdered. A front-page photo in newspapers around the country portrayed the confusion and horror immediately after the event. It was a dark day in American history.
Such is the cost for some who decide to do God's will. Dr. King saw it as a privilege to do God's will, to be invited up the mountain. So did Moses. Because of Jesus, we too have been invited to come close to God in fellowship with him. It is an awesome privilege—and an awesome responsibility.
Read Exodus 19:20.
FATHER GOD, GRANT ME COURAGE TO PRAY, "I WANT YOUR WILL TO BE DONE IN MY LIFE."
Augustine of Hippo
He is everywhere in His totality; so that in Him the mind lives and moves and has its being, and consequently can remember Him.
THE LIVING WORD
Nurses and doctors report that when aged saints are on their deathbeds and under heavy sedation, they often will revert to their childhood. They begin to recite memory verses learned during vacation Bible school, or they will sing "Jesus Loves Me" or "This Little Light of Mine." Colossians 3:16 (NKJV) says, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly."
Such blessings can happen when we have made the Word of God a living, active, vibrant part of our lives, judging every action, every deed, every thought by what the Lord has instilled in our hearts. David said, "Your word have I hid in my heart." The totality of Christ living in us gives Christians a contentment that unbelievers cannot understand. But it is real. It is comforting. It is genuine.
Read Colossians 3:12–17.
LORD, I REJOICE IN KNOWING THAT YOUR SPIRIT PERMEATES MY VERY BEING.
Excerpted from Every Day with Jesus by Worthy Publishing. Copyright © 2011 Worthy Publishing. Excerpted by permission of WORTHY PUBLISHING.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted December 4, 2012
Posted December 28, 2011
No text was provided for this review.