Beautiful is the name of Jesus❤
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4
The kingdom of God is full of paradoxes: we receive by giving, we live by dying, we receive honor by dishonor, and more. One of those paradoxes is that we gain hope by suffering, which seems odd. Normally, we seem most hopeful when things are going well, and we lose hope when we suffer. But, not surprisingly, the Bible says the opposite.
Paul explains how suffering leads to hope in Romans 5:3-4. Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope. Later, in Romans 8:24-25, he clarifies what hope is. Hope is what carries us through when we can’t see the outcome. It’s what allows us to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Paul writes, “For why does one still hope for what he sees?” (Romans 8:24) If we can see the outcome of our trials then we have no need to hope. But when we cannot see the outcome, our hope carries us through—if we persevere and develop the character of Christ.
Regardless of your situation today, there is hope because there is God. Cling to Him through the promises of His Word. Hope never disappoints (Romans 5:5).
True faith is ever connected with hope. John Calvin
The book of Judges tells of Samson, a man so strong he could kill a lion with his bare hands (Judg. 14:5-6). He possessed physical strength unequaled by any human being. But this could not compensate for his inner weakness.
All of us have areas of weakness. God wants these character flaws to teach us how totally dependent we are upon Him. When we handle them properly, they drive us into a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Lord. But uncontrolled weakness wreaks havoc in a person’s life.
Samson’s Achilles’ heel was uncontrolled lust. Although he was raised in a godly home and had a clear calling in life, he gave in to his desires and deliberately violated the truth he knew so well. Despite Nazirite laws forbidding involvement with foreigners, Samson pursued a Philistine woman (Judg. 14:2). Later, he met the enticing Delilah, and even though her motives were blatantly treacherous, he gave himself over—heart, mind, and spirit—to sexual indulgence. He was in such bondage to the sin that he ultimately allowed it to dictate his actions, even at the cost of his life.
Before he died, Samson lost everything: his strength, eyesight, and honor. The man who once led his country mightily became a slave to his enemies (Judg. 16:18-25).
What are your weaknesses? Personality flaws can be a powerful motivation for good or ill, depending on your response. A proclivity for sin can ruin your life—as it did Samson’s—or drive you to utter dependence on God. The outcome is up to you.
“So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.” (Genesis 12:4)
It is not clear from the text just how God made Himself known to Abram when He called him to go to Canaan. The language would imply that there was an audible conversation of some sort—far different from what you and I might expect today. At the time of this calling, Abram was a not then a follower of Yahweh, yet the circumstances of God’s intervention were enough to persuade Abram to uproot his family and start the journey.
Abram’s calling and initial response (Genesis 12:1-5) are analogous to an “awakening,” the initial faith to “see” God (Ephesians 2:8). There were no specifics in God’s promise, only broad terms of blessing.
Abram’s response was all that he knew to do at that time, to respond in obedience (non-resistance) just as the Scripture implies we are to do (1 Thessalonians 2:13; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2-5). Salvation is completely God’s doing; our “work” is never involved (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 10:8-17). All we can ever do is rebel and reject the drawing that God wields (John 6:44). Damnation is man’s work (John 3:19-21; Romans 1:18-32).
That is why Abram became the biblical example of the faithful (Galatians 3:6-9; Hebrews 11:8-10). The actual moment of Abram’s “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24) seems to have come somewhat later when he “believes God” (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3). Although repentance and faith may come in a rapid sequence, sometimes (especially in adult conversions) the events may be drawn out over time. Either way, it is by “grace are ye saved, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). HMM III
She probably hoped that this was the Messiah. Alas! how often are parents hopes deceived. It was not “a man—the Lord” who had come to Eves bosom, but a man of sin, a child of the wicked one.
Her second child she called “Vanity” and yet he was precious in the sight of the Lord. What mistakes we make about our children.
Cain had no faith, and he had no eye to the blood of atonement: Abel had both. These should be main points in all our religious duties.) (Wroth not with himself as he ought to have been, but with his brother and with God.
It is sin which blocks the way.
Genesis 4:8, 9
We shall either be our brother’s keeper or our brother’s murderer. If we do not labour to save others, we shall be guilty of their blood.
He makes no confession of his sin, but only murmurs at his punishment. We know many whose minds are in a similar state. They cavil at hell, but they persevere in sin.
1 John 3:10-15
This ancient record of the first murder is used by John as a picture of the action of the unregenerate in all time. Love marks the children of God, and hate is the sure ensign of the heirs of wrath. Thus writes the beloved apostle:—
O for grace to purge our hearts of all anger, envy, malice, and bitterness of every kind, that like Jesus we may be full of love and gentleness.
Lord, from anger purge my heart,
Bid all enmity depart;
New-created from above,
Let my very life be love.
Quench in me each evil fire,
Envious thought or fierce desire.
Flame from heaven upon me fall!
Love of God be all in all.
When I was a small boy, my siblings and I used to play a game called “Follow the Leader.” I always wanted to be the leader, but my older sister always claimed that coveted leadership role. As leader, she had the right to tell us what to do, what games we would or would not play, who would clean the house, who would take out the trash, who would vacuum the carpets, and so on. No wonder my older sister always wanted to be the leader!
I always think of this when I read Romans 8:14. It says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” In Greek, the sentence structure is reversed so that it reads, “For as many as by the Spirit are being led, they are the sons of God.” This version puts the Holy Spirit at the first of the verse, and we are placed behind Him—just as children stay behind the leader as they play “Follow the Leader”!
The Greek word for “led” is the word ago, which simply means to lead. It was often used to depict animals that were led by a rope tied around their necks. Once tied to that rope, these animals willfully followed wherever their owner led them.
How interesting that Paul used this word! It tells us that we should be willing to let the Holy Spirit lead us in every part of our lives. We should be so surrendered to Him that wherever He tells us to go or whatever He tells us to do, we should simply be obedient and follow.
However, it must also be pointed out that this word ago is also the root for the Greek word agon, which is where we get the word agony. Even in Greek, the word agon describes an intense conflict, such as a struggle in a wrestling match or a struggle of the human will. This illustrates the fact that although the Holy Spirit wants to lead us, our human will doesn’t like the idea of being led. You see, it’s the nature of the flesh to want to go its own way, so when we choose to walk in the Spirit and let Him dictate our lives, His leadership over us creates a struggle between our will and our flesh.
Just for a moment, think of how many times a child is tempted to rebel against his parents. Or consider the many times our flesh has rebelled against exercise or a diet that we’ve imposed on ourselves. There’s no doubt about it—the human will and the flesh are strong. These parts of us have a very difficult time surrendering control to someone else—and that includes being led by the Holy Spirit!
When I was a child and we played “Follow the Leader,” I didn’t like being led by my sister and being told what to do. I wanted to be in charge myself so I could call the shots as I saw them! Maybe that’s how you’ve been feeling about your own life. But as a child of God, you have to learn to stay in your place—behind the Holy Spirit, following His lead.
Romans 8:14 really means:
“Those who follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit, they are the sons of God.”
However, because the word agonidzo is used, Romans 8:14 also carries this idea:
“Following the leadership of the Holy Spirit is one of the privileges of being a son of God, although it may be agonizing to learn how to defer to Him and to really let Him be your Leader.”
If you want to learn to live a Spirit-led life, there is no way around it—you have to deal with your flesh. The flesh wants control, so you must mortify or defeat the flesh and allow the Holy Spirit to have His way. The struggle may seem great, but it’s the only way to live a supernatural Christian life!
Make it your goal to learn how to discern the Holy Spirit’s leading. Become His constant “tag-along,” watching to see what He’s doing, where He’s going, and how He’s leading. Stay sensitive to Him so you can pick up His “nudge” in your heart. Then once you know what He wants you to do, just fall in step behind Him and “follow the Leader”!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I want to learn how to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. I know that You sent Him to be a Leader and a Guide for my life, so today I open my heart to Him. I ask You to help me learn to recognize the Holy Spirit’s voice and to know what He is leading me to do. With all my heart, I request that You help me become sensitive to Him so that He can lead me in all the paths You have designed for my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am spiritually sensitive and that the Holy Spirit is actively leading my life. I am His constant tag-along—watching what He’s doing, where He’s going, and how He’s leading. I am so sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading that I pick up every “nudge” He puts in my heart. He is my Leader, and I faithfully follow wherever He leads me to go.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you recall times in the past when you emphatically knew that the Holy Spirit was supernaturally leading you to do something?
- What were you doing at that time in your spiritual life that made it easier for you to recognize and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit?
- In order for you to be consistently led by the Holy Spirit, what actions do you need to take to keep yourself sensitive enough to hear His voice and to discern His leading?
While most of us possess encyclopedic knowledge about God, how many of us give evidence of true intimacy with God in the daily crucible of our market place existence? For example:
1. THOSE WHO KNOW GOD HAVE GREAT ENERGY FOR GOD:
His power is at work in their lives over:
- Sin: “The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:2)
- Circumstances: “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
2. THOSE WHO KNOW GOD HAVE GREAT REST IN GOD:
It is because they accept His sovereignty in the superintending of His universe that they can rest:
“I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning… saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.‘” (Isaiah 46:9, 10)
“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him… ” (Psalm 37:7)
3. THOSE WHO KNOW GOD HAVE GREAT CONTENTMENT IN GOD:
While chained to a prison wall, and awaiting execution, Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say to you, Rejoice!… I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances may be… ” (Philippians 4:4, 11; nas and Phillips Translation)
Shoe leather Christianity evidences itself in the crucible of daily living through energy, rest, and contentment. Tell me, JUST HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW GOD?