He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts…. Ecclesiastes 3:
A newspaper ran a real estate article about a three-story, 2,800 square feet, 1.2 million-dollar home on the Gulf Coast near Corpus Christi, Texas. The pictures were fabulous. The master suite on the top floor contained a private covered porch. Downstairs, the kitchen was perfectly designed. Every window had stunning views, and every room was filled with the newest conveniences. This house, announced the headline, was simply “Three Floors of Heaven.”
It’s not surprising for a reporter to describe a house in such terms because God has placed heaven in our hearts. According to Ecclesiastes 3:11, God has given us an intuitive desire for heaven. Everyone either wants to go to heaven one day, or they are trying to create heaven right now. Our society has long sought heaven on earth—a utopia. This desire is reflected in our houses and possessions. But nothing can compare with the home God is preparing for His people.
We all want a pleasant environment. But don’t try harder than you should to create heaven on earth. Jesus is preparing a place for you right now. Serve Him faithfully as He leads you, and await the glories to be revealed.
A tent or a cottage, why should I care? / They’re building a palace for me over there. Harriet E. Buell, in the hymn “A Child of the King”
1 Thessalonians 5:24
Have you ever felt discouraged about trying to live the Christian life? If your efforts to make a difference in the world seem fruitless, following the Lord’s example could change your outlook.
Christ served others in love, and His actions had tremendous impact in the world. How was He so effective? Scripture tells us that Jesus did not speak or act on His own initiative but instead depended upon His Father abiding in Him to do the work (John 14:10). And we are to do likewise.
Yet we often attempt to serve out of our own skills, intelligence, and ability to reason. Even though we may pour great effort and long hours into ministry, these alone won’t produce fruitfulness. It’s far more important to minister as the Lord intended.
True service is commissioned, empowered, and blessed by God alone. It may be our hands that are laboring, but our Father is the One at work. And the glory belongs to Him, not us.
What comfort this should give us! The Lord is not looking just for people who are extremely talented. He will use all who are willing to let His Spirit work through them. And we can be confident that He will provide everything we need in order to do whatever He asks.
Who among us can serve the living God? Truthfully, no one can. Genuine service occurs only when we allow the Almighty to pour Himself through us; we are mere vessels. Even if the impact is not obvious to us, we know that God always achieves His purpose—and what’s more, He is glorified.
“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24)
Surely one of the most godly, as well as interesting, characters who ever lived was Enoch. He is one of only two who lived before the Flood (Noah also, Genesis 6:9) of whom it is said that he “walked with God.” He is also one of only two individuals who never died (Elijah, 2 Kings 2:11). Little is known about him, but the Bible reveals him to be exemplary among men and special to God.
Notice that he was, first of all, a man of faith. “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; . . . he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is [i.e., that God exists], and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:5-6). Enoch had ample faith in the fact and work of God, which yielded a close walk with God. He also had faith in the caring character of God that rewards the diligent search for Him on His terms with sanctification, fellowship, and eternal life. This faith, we are told, pleased God.
We find in the little book of Jude a description of Enoch’s ministry. Enoch’s faith impelled him to denounce strongly the false teaching and ungodly living of his day, prophesying the coming return of, and judgment by, the Lord (Jude 1:14-15).
Some have suggested that Enoch’s ministry is not yet over. All men die, for “it is appointed unto men once to die” (Hebrews 9:27), and Enoch has not yet died. Perhaps he is one of the two tribulation “witnesses” (Revelation 11:3) whose messages are so much like those of Enoch and Elijah who will be martyred, resurrected, and taken up to heaven directly from Earth (vv. 4-12). At any rate, Enoch is certainly one of the great heroes of the faith whom we shall meet some day. JDM
Joshua was moved to speak in the name of the Lord, and remind the people of what had been done for them. Having recapitulated the wonders of Egypt and the wilderness, he mentions the Lord’s goodness to them in Canaan.
God can make insects to be more terrible than men-at-arms, and he did so in this case. Israel fought, but her victories were due to a higher arm. After all we can do, our salvation is still of the Lord alone.
Everything which we possess is as much given to us of God as Canaan was to the tribes.
Joshua 24:14, 15
Every man must have a god, the question was, who should be their god? Joshua declares that Jehovah alone should be God to him and to his household. We cannot serve two gods, and it will be a happy thing if in our house we never attempt it, but once for all choose the Lord alone to be our God. May divine grace so direct us.
They spoke well, yet not well enough, for they were much too confident in their own resolves. Having so often turned aside, it had been wiser to pray, “Lord, keep us, “than to cry so confidently, “we will” and “we will.”
Joshua 24:19, 20
Joshua reminded them that their promise would not be so easy to keep as they imagined. It is one thing to promise, but quite another to perform. How solemn are the thoughts suggested by the words—”he is a jealous God.” He will not endure a rival, nor tolerate halfhearted service.
With good intent, but far too little self-knowledge, they entered into a covenant which they soon violated: Beware of trusting self in its best mood. It is fickle as the wind.
O Lord, we in this house desire to serve thee for ever. Help us by thy grace to be thy beloved children and thy faithful servants.
Lord, I long thy will t’obey
Fain I’d put all sin away;
But that I may serve aright,
Let thy Spirit be my might.
John 16:8, 10
Have you ever complimented someone who responded by arguing with you—rejecting your compliment and essentially questioning your judgment in the matter? For example, after you told someone that he looked as if he had lost weight, did he respond by telling you how fat he is rather than by thanking you for the compliment? “Well, I’ve gained a lot of weight,” the person may have said, “and I look so fat now. I wish you could have seen me three months ago when I really looked good! I don’t look as good now.”
This is the equivalent of throwing the compliment back in your face. It would have been far more polite and gracious to say, “Thank you. I’m so glad you noticed. I appreciate you telling me that I look better.”
Here is another example that I think will make the point. A person stands before the church and sings a beautiful solo that deeply stirs your heart. At the end of the service, you make your way through the congregation to find the soloist because you want to express how much his singing moved you. After opening your heart and thanking him for allowing God to use him, the soloist responds to your compliment by saying, “Thanks for the compliment, but I thought I did a horrible job tonight. I can’t believe I sang so badly. I don’t know how you got anything out of it.”
It’s rude to respond like this to someone who is trying to thank you for being a blessing. Although you are probably not deliberately intending to be ill-mannered, your response is still equivalent to a rejection of the love, admiration, and appreciation God is expressing through someone else to you. It’s the same as saying, “I appreciate the fact that you gave me that compliment, but we both know it isn’t true, so you don’t have to say it.” In effect, you are calling the person a liar!
We sometimes respond this way to one another, not meaning to be rude. But did you know that we also do this to God almost every day? Consider, for example, what Second Corinthians 5:21 declares: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
This verse says that God sent Jesus to the Cross to take upon Himself our sin, to die in our place, and to give us His standing of righteousness in God’s sight. Yet if there is any subject about which Christians will get bent out of shape, it is this question of their being “righteous.” Most believers are so conscious of their old sinful nature that they can’t embrace the truth that they’ve been declared righteous! Tell them that they are righteous before God, and they will respond by telling you how bad they are.
Sinful nature always clings to the worst and to what is most negative. It will always gravitate downward, never upward. That is the nature of the mind that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit. If abandoned to your flesh, you’ll never believe a good report; you’ll never believe God is doing a good work in you; and you’ll certainly never believe that you have been made “the righteousness of God in him.”
Negative, base, sinful thinking has been a part of humanity for so long that it requires some special convincing to make us realize what God has done inside us. For us to really believe that we have rightstanding with God, it will take the work of the Holy Spirit to convince us! Otherwise, when God says, “You’re My child. I have made you righteous. You are beautiful to Me,” our negatively charged minds and emotions will retort, “It’s not so! I’m unworthy. I’m unholy. I’m so pitiful!”
But here is the good news: Just as the Holy Spirit convicts a sinner of his sin, He is also sent to convince believers of their new rightstanding with God! Jesus told us this about the Holy Spirit: “And when he is come, he will reprove… of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more” (John 16:8, 10).
The word “reprove” is the Greek word elegcho. It means to expose or to convict, such as to convict someone of a crime or a sin. This word was used to describe legal proceedings during which a person was examined and cross-examined in a court of law until the court issued a final ruling. If the person was deemed guilty, he was unmistakably convicted of his crime. In this sense, the word elegcho describes the work of the Spirit to completely and thoroughly convict a sinner of his sin. When the Holy Spirit is finished opening the eyes of a person to his sin, that person knows he is a sinner. There is no escaping the truth for the unbeliever once the Holy Spirit has revealed truth to his heart!
But the word “reprove” is also used in a positive sense to convince someone of something positive. Again in a legal sense, it was used to denote lawyers who worked very diligently to convince people of a new way of thinking or a new way of seeing things. Perhaps they were entrenched in a wrong mindset or had a distorted perception, so the attorneys would go to work to change their opinion. In this case, they weren’t trying to convict someone; they were working to convince someone!
Referring to the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “And when he is come, he will reprove… of righteousness…” (John 16:8). After the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and God declares us righteous, it takes a supernatural work of God to make us comprehend our new condition in Jesus Christ. This realization is just as supernatural as the moment we recognized we were lost. Only this time, we are being supernaturally awakened to the fact that we are righteous!
I can remember when I woke up to this truth many years ago. I was driving down the street, feeling totally unrighteous while listening to a teaching tape on the subject of righteousness. Suddenly my mind began to grasp what I was hearing. It was as if someone took blinders off my eyes and earplugs out of my ears! For the first time, I was seeing and hearing the truth about my new righteousness in Christ Jesus.
This truth was going straight to my heart by the power of the Holy Spirit! I not only heard the words, but I also understood them. My inward man leaped for joy when the Spirit of God illumined my understanding about righteousness. He convinced me of the truth, and I was set free!
If you struggle with a poor self-image and a constant feeling of condemnation, you need the Holy Spirit to do His convincing work in your life. Only He can open your eyes to see who you have become in Jesus Christ. Once your eyes have been opened and you understand you are righteous, you will never again throw the truth back in God’s face and argue with Him. When the Holy Spirit reminds you that you have been declared righteous, you will cry out with joy, “Thank you! That’s exactly who I am!”
This means you don’t have to be negative about yourself all the time. You don’t have to beat yourself over the head, constantly reminding yourself of how unworthy you are, because Jesus made you worthy! He made you righteous!
On the other hand, if you don’t have a grasp of this God-given righteousness, a negative self-image will most likely rule your life, inhibiting your ability to pray with the confident trust that God will answer your prayer. That sense of unworthiness will cause a cloud of heaviness to hang over your life, hindering your ability to walk in the joy and victory of the Lord.
So don’t you think it’s time to let the Holy Spirit open your eyes and ears to see and hear the truth about who God has made you to be? It may seem hard to believe that you’re righteous, and it may take a lot of convincing for you to finally believe it. But the Holy Spirit was sent to be the Great Convinced He is on the job and is ready right now to start convincing you of the truth regarding who you are in Christ!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I need the Holy Spirit to open my eyes and convince me that I’ve become righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ. I’ve read and heard this truth, and I know it intellectually, but I need a revelation of it in my heart. So Holy Spirit, go to work in my heart. Open the eyes and ears of my spirit to see and to hear that I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. Free me from religious thinking that holds me in bondage to feelings of unworthiness. Please do it today!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. Jesus became sin for me so I could become the righteousness of God in Him. The Holy Spirit is the Great Convincer, and He is busy convincing me that I am free from defects and from sin, no longer the person I used to be. Because Jesus’ blood touched, washed, and cleansed me, I am now free!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Are you consciously aware that you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus?
- Do you struggle with feelings of unworthiness, sinfulness, and shame, even though you are a child of God? If your answer is yes, what steps can you take to walk out of those lying emotions that try to hold you captive?
- Can you remember an instance in your life when you suddenly and supernaturally were illuminated with the understanding that you had been declared the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus? When did that happen, and what was the immediate result of this revelation in your life?
If you struggle with a poor self-image and a constant feeling of condemnation, you need the Holy Spirit to do His convincing work in your life. Only He can open your eyes to see who you have become in Jesus Christ.
“I’m going to sue that #@*&+|$^ company into the 4th Century! I’m taking them to court for giving me one month’s severance instead of the six we agreed upon in the contract!”
So said Sam in his fiery reaction to the mind games his boss had been imposing on him in order to force his resignation. As I listened, I could feel the hair rising on the back of my neck. Managing to keep my composure, I suggested we look at a few passages of Scripture:
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners‘ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners‘ do that… But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” (Luke 6:27b-33, 35) (See Romans 12:18-21)
“Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh… Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, HE ENTRUSTED HIMSELF TO HIM WHO JUDGES JUSTLY.” (1 Peter 2:18, 21b-23)
Later, after Sam and his wife had carefully analyzed the above passages, they decided to leave the company graciously, and accept whatever compensation package the management decided upon. What surprised them was the strong opposition they received from “Christian” relatives who insisted they go to court and demand their “rights”.
Could the key to how we respond to injustices be determined by our understanding of that little phrase, “HE ENTRUSTED HIMSELF TO HIM WHO JUDGES JUSTLY”? Isn’t it only as we see God as the One with the final word that we are able to obey Biblical imperatives that may seem to defy human logic?
It is important for us to understand that at some point God will equalize the books for the injustices visited upon us, and that He will reward us for our uncompromising obedience to His Word, difficult as that obedience may appear at the time. (2 Thessalonians 1:6; Acts 17:31; Revelation 16:5, 6; Matthew 25:34; 1 Peter 1:4)
QUESTIONS: Have you settled it in your heart that you will obey Christ and His teachings, whether they “makes sense” or not? Are you willing to pay the price of that obedience, whatever the cost?