July 28, 2014
Joe Stowell takes a walk down “Memory Lane.” The Bible is filled with stories of people who forgot about God’s faithfulness in their lives. How easy it is for us, too, to forget what God has done for us! Joe reminds us that the Psalms repeatedly tell us to mediate on both the Word and works of God.
He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side . . . —Mark 6:45
We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.
What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish— His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see “Him walking on the sea” with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see “Him walking on the sea” (Mark 6:49). It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God.
God’s training is for now, not later. His purpose is for this very minute, not for sometime in the future. We have nothing to do with what will follow our obedience, and we are wrong to concern ourselves with it. What people call preparation, God sees as the goal itself.
God’s purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious.
2 Timothy 3:14-17
This world offers financial plans, weight loss programs, and a host of other opportunities that all claim to yield beneficial results. But nothing is as profitable to us as Scripture.
God’s plans for you do not stop at salvation. His goal is that you become conformed to the likeness of His Son, and the tool He uses to achieve His purpose is the Bible. Today’s passage outlines His comprehensive program for your spiritual transformation.
The foundation is laid with the teaching of Scripture’s basic truths. These doctrines about God’s character and work anchor our souls during the storms of life and protect us from deception. Since we all have certain flesh patterns, perfection is impossible, and we sometimes fall into sin. But when Scripture offers reproof, we are convicted about our wrongdoing.
This is followed by correction. The Lord never convicts us and leaves us in the mess we have made. He provides what we need to make things right.
The final step is training in righteousness. Think of this as a one-on-one discipleship course with the Word of God. If we heed the instruction and discipline of Scripture, we’ll grow in obedience and godliness and eventually will find that we need less reproof and correction.
Full participation in God’s scriptural benefit package involves three steps: Read the Bible each day; believe everything God says in His Word—not just the parts that appeal to you (Heb. 4:2); and do what He says. You will become equipped and qualified to fulfill His purpose for you.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27)
“Beauty is only skin deep” seems to be the modern secular equivalent of this “woe” in Matthew 23. The corresponding Old Testament statement is probably this: “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion” (Proverbs 11:22). This principle has lasted for millennia simply because it is easily observed in all cultures. Our Lord’s application to the scribes and Pharisees was particularly pointed: “Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:28). God is not interested in the “pretty outside” but in what’s on the inside. “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Hypocrisy and iniquity are the two attributes of “uncleanness” identified by Christ. The core of hypocrisy is the intent to deceive others, either with actions or words. And the core of the biblical teaching about deception is the false teacher—those who look like and talk like God’s people, “but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Iniquity is the biblical term for “without law.” Such a person has no desire to submit to authority, and is both willing to do evil and is dangerous to be around. Cain murdered Abel, the Bible insists, “because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12).
Such a condition should never plague us. Jesus “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). HMM III
Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.—Psalm 145:16.
THERE ‘s not a craving in the mind
Thou dost not meet and still;
There’s not a wish the heart can have
Which Thou dost not fulfill.
FREDERICK W. FABER.
YOU will see the truth about the eternal life soon; I don’t think it is possible to live up to the highest point of duty and of happiness without this, I know one can go on doing one’s duty thoroughly under clouds of doubt, and even in complete unbelief; there are many who do, and they are dear to God, but the duty is done sadly, without the spring of life and joy that we are meant to have. That fountain of life and strength is hid in God. Christ showed us the way to it, and we get it into our souls when we utterly trust Him and give up our hearts, and our lives, and our aspirations to Him as to a faithful Creator, who will not leave unsatisfied
any of the longings of the souls He has made; who will not let love die, or disappoint finally the cravings for joy, for perfection, for light and knowledge that He has implanted, and that are parts of Himself, immortal as He is. ANNIE KEARY.
Let your requests be made known unto God.
Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. — There was given to me a thorn in the flesh. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 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.
I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble. — Hannah … was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and … wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life. The LORD remembered her.
We know not what we should pray for as we ought. — He shall choose our inheritance for us.
Philippians 4:6. Mark 14:36. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. Psalm 142:2. 1 Samuel 1:9, 11, 20. Romans 8:26. Psalm 47:4.
Walk in love.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. — Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. — Love covereth all sins.
When ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. — Love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again. — Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and
let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth. —Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrary-wise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. — If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. — Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
Ephesians 5:2. John 13:34. 1 Peter 4:8. Proverbs 10:12. Mark 11:25. Luke 6:35. Proverbs 24:17. 1 Peter 3:9. Romans 12:18. Ephesians 4:32. 1 John 3:18.