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Pathways to His PresenceA Daily Devotional
By Charles F. Stanley
Nelson BooksCopyright © 2007 Charles F. Stanley
All right reserved.
Chapter OneJANUARY Pathway to God's Will
Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left. -Isaiah 30:21
Walking with God
Scripture Reading: Genesis 6:9-7:1 Key Verse: Genesis 7:1
Then the LORD said to Noah, "Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation."
A walk is a great way to get alone with someone special and discover more about that person. In today's Scripture passage, we see that Noah chose to spend his time walking with the most important being in his life: God. Because of this close relationship with the Lord, Scripture describes Noah in a most amazing way: "Noah walked with God" (Genesis 6:9).
The complete story of Noah and the great flood in Genesis 6-9 reveals what was involved for this one man to keep in step with his Lord. Noah's walk with God was notably marked by a steadfast faith and a willingness to trust God even when everyone else mocked him. His walk also set him apart from the wicked men and women of the world, none of whom cared to experience the power of a personal relationship with the Creator.
Most importantly, Noah's walk with God clearly represented the fellowship he enjoyed with the Lord. In a time when the world experienced its darkest day, the Lord looked to Noah and said, "I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation" (Genesis 7:1).
The wonderful news for you today is that God is just as excited about spending time with you as He was to fellowship with Noah. You are precious in His eyes, and He wants to develop a closer relationship with you. He wants to show you His amazing love in new ways. Will you walk with Him?
Lord, guide my feet so that they may not stray from the path that You have created. I want to walk through my life with You at my side.
Standing Before an Open Door
Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 2:1-9 Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 16:9
For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
If we listen to the whispers of the world, it is possible for us to lose our focus in life. We can get caught up in life and forget about God's big picture of redemption. We could miss the open door of opportunity swinging wide in front of us.
As we enter into a relationship with God, we find out that as much as He cares about us, He cares just as deeply about everyone else in the world. And as we mature in our walk with God, what is important to Him should become important to us as well.
People are important to God. He cares about mankind-it's the motivation behind sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to die for our sins. Paul wrote, "God our Savior ... desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
So, here we stand at the beginning of a new year with opportunities circling all around us-opportunities that could impact the world in an eternal way. God doesn't open doors for us to simply peer through them; He opens them so we will pass through them with faith that He will empower us to do His kingdom work.
Standing before an open door never resulted in a single changed life. Walking through an open door has changed the lives of millions. Are you willing to walk through it?
Lord, give me the singularity of heart to seek the doors You open for me, and the courage to walk through them.
A Good Opportunity
Scripture Reading: Psalm 78:1-8 Key Verse: Psalm 78:6
That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children.
A narrow mind can cripple our ability to reach people for Christ or to even think we can make a difference in this world. Being a Christian means much more than just avoiding hell at the end of life here on earth.
The door of opportunity before us as believers is great. In looking at the investments we make in other people's lives for Christ, the returns are eternal. Because God is forever-He always has been and He always will be-everything we do for Him also lasts forever:
[God] established a testimony ... That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments. (Psalm 78:5-7)
Thinking about how we can reach the entire world might overwhelm us. But we can start simply where we are. What we do today has an impact both now and in the years to come. We all know people who don't know Jesus Christ personally, and by sharing our faith with them, both with our words and our deeds, we can begin to become a part of God's redemptive plan. By seizing the opportunities God presents to us, He will begin to use us to change our world.
Lord, I feel inadequate sometimes in sharing my faith with others. Please give me wisdom and sensitivity as I seek to share the gift of Your salvation.
God Is at Work
Scripture Reading: Exodus 1:7-14 Key Verse: Exodus 3:7
And the Lord said: "I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows."
Pharaoh's reign over the Israelites had reached an unbearable point of oppression. As they increased in number, so did Pharaoh increase in hardness toward them. The Bible reports that the Egyptians "made their lives bitter with hard bondage" (Exodus 1:14).
As the weight of slavery crushed them, the Israelites called out to the God of their forefathers. Why? Because they knew He had been faithful to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They knew how He had made Joseph into a mighty ruler and how His provision had saved them from the great famine. They knew He was faithful to answer their cries.
When life crushes the heart of a believer, the first response should be to cry out to God, being sure that, no matter the circumstance, His way is the best way.
Amy Carmichael writes, "Of one thing we are sure: prayer is heard; prayer is answered; forces are set in motion by prayer in the name of the Lord Jesus, which will not cease but will continue until that which has begun is perfected. Love will perfect that which it begins. It will not forsake the work of its own hands."
God heard the cries of Israel and delivered them out of Pharaoh's hands. He did not stop the work He started in them. Neither will He stop working to deliver you.
Lord, may Your name be on my lips in times of adversity and in times of prosperity. Help me to always remember that You are my deliverer.
Experiencing God's Best
Scripture Reading: James 1:1-27 Key Verse: James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
Here are some of the requirements to experiencing God's best during the coming year:
An open and willing heart. Before you can experience the blessings of God, you must be open to His love and will for your life. He takes great joy in blessing those who love Him. "Ask and you shall receive" were the words Jesus spoke to His disciples. Being open to God's blessings does not mean just being open to receive something good from Him. It means being willing to receive whatever He sends your way. And in some cases, He may send something that you did not wish to receive. However, you can be sure that every gift is ultimately good and sent from a loving Father who has your best interests in mind. Obedience. This is a key to receiving and enjoying the goodness of God. Many times the obedience that we exercise is not noticeable to others, but God knows. When we take a step forward in obedience, the Lord always sends His blessings our way. The ability to dream. God wants us to look forward to His blessings. When we lose the ability to dream and think on the goodness of God, something inside of us dies. No matter how small your dream for the future appears, refuse to let go of it. Allow God to reshape it if necessary, but always believe in His loving ability to supply answers to your hopes and dreams.
Lord, please give me an open and willing heart. Make me obedient, and give me the ability to dream.
The Risk Of Obeying God
Scripture Reading: Luke 5:1-11 Key Verse: Luke 5:4
When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."
Jesus was speaking to the crowds on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. As they listened, they pressed closer. When Jesus saw two boats lying on the edge of the water near where the fishermen were washing their nets, He got in Simon Peter's boat, continuing to teach.
When He was finished teaching, Jesus said to Peter, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch" (Luke 5:4). Peter had a choice-either to obey or disobey God. He chose to obey. The result was so many fish that the nets began to break.
Through the simple act of obedience, Peter witnessed a miracle. He realized that Jesus had his best interest at heart, even when he did not understand what Jesus was telling him to do. Peter had toiled all night without catching any fish. But he was willing to obey.
What has God asked you to do that you are afraid to do? There are many reasons why we hesitate to obey God: fear of failure, the desire to control our own lives, or fear of what God may require of us.
What little thing has God been nudging you about? God wants you to trust and obey Him in the small things. Don't allow your unwillingness to obey God to cause you to miss the blessings He has for you. Every time God asks you to do something, He has something good in store for you.
Father, help me trust You in the small things, knowing You have something good in store for me.
Trusting the Lord
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 3:1-6 Key Verse: Proverbs 3:6
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Seeing a sweet little dog wearing a large, white Elizabethan collar may make you chuckle. Though these large cone-shaped accessories look like the puppy had an unfortunate run-in with a bigger dog, they actually serve a very valuable purpose.
According to a popular pet Internet site, these collars "prevent pets from aggravating wounds that are healing and allow topical medications to work." The dogs do not understand why they have them on, but the collars impede them from hurting themselves.
Amazingly enough, many of the hindrances God has allowed in your life serve to protect you as well. When plans fall through or events don't turn out as you expect, your first instinct is often to blame God for the disappointment. However, Proverbs 3:5-6 has a different message. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
God knows far more about your future than you ever could. He allows roadblocks so that you will not be diverted from His best. Instead of giving in to self-pity, consider why God has prevented you from continuing. You will come to a deeper understanding of how He heals, protects, and directs you. And you will learn that He is truly trustworthy.
Lord, it is hard to trust before I understand. But You know all, and I bow to Your knowledge of what is best for my life, in good times and in bad.
An Extraordinary Life
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 3:7-12 Key Verse: Proverbs 3:12
For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
Early in his life, John Donne, one of England's great poets, was known for his controversial poetry and satirical criticism of religious denominations. However, Donne did not remain antagonistic toward God.
After joining the Church of England and marrying Anne More, Donne experienced immense suffering. He and Anne lost five of their twelve children and lived in despondent poverty. Donne continually struggled with depression and physical affliction. One would think that the suffering would have driven Donne further from God.
However, the exact opposite is true. During this time, Donne studied God's ways with fervor. Donne wrote:
Batter my heart, three person'd God; for you As yet but knock, breathe, shine and seek to mend ... Take me to you, imprison me, for I Except you enthrall me, never shall be free.
Donne understood that all his trials brought him closer to God. As Proverbs 3:12 says, "For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights." If you are suffering greatly, do not think that God has abandoned you. Rather, like Donne, God is making your life into a sweet sonnet. Donne was not only one of England's great poets, but also one of its greatest preachers. God is making something extraordinary of your life too.
Father, I receive Your reproof. I know You have not abandoned me. Make my life fruitful!
Scripture Reading: Psalm 25:1-22 Key Verse: Psalm 25:12 Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.
Life is one continuous decision-making process from childhood through the golden years. Often, the decisions you will be called upon to make will be very difficult and very serious. God is willing to give you clear guidance about every circumstance in your life. However, He desires to be rightly regarded and respected in your life. In fact, He asks you to fear Him.
John Owens explains, "That fear which keeps from sin and excites the soul to cleave more firmly to God, be the object of it what it will, is no servile fear, but a holy fear and due reverence unto God and His word."
Reverence to God means serving God instead of yourself. It means comprehending His sovereignty and having confidence in His character. Understanding that God is perfect in His knowledge, all-sufficient in His strength, and unconditionally loving toward you is key to trusting Him for your future. The person who does well is the one who reveres God, respects Him, yields to Him, seeks Him, and desires to know His mind. In fact, Psalm 25:12 promises, "Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses."
Are you in the midst of a difficult situation? Check your heart and analyze your attitude toward God. Reevaluate your situation in light of His trustworthy character.
Lord, I bend my knee and my spirit in reverence before Your greatness, which is beyond human understanding.
Excerpted from Pathways to His Presence by Charles F. Stanley Copyright © 2007 by Charles F. Stanley. Excerpted by permission.
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