Now the Lord says, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant… —Isaiah 49:5
The first thing that happens after we recognize our election by God in Christ Jesus is the destruction of our preconceived ideas, our narrow-minded thinking, and all of our other allegiances— we are turned solely into servants of God’s own purpose. The entire human race was created to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Sin has diverted the human race onto another course, but it has not altered God’s purpose to the slightest degree. And when we are born again we are brought into the realization of God’s great purpose for the human race, namely, that He created us for Himself. This realization of our election by God is the most joyful on earth, and we must learn to rely on this tremendous creative purpose of God. The first thing God will do is force the interests of the whole world through the channel of our hearts. The love of God, and even His very nature, is introduced into us. And we see the nature of Almighty God purely focused in John 3:16— “For God so loved the world….”
We must continually keep our soul open to the fact of God’s creative purpose, and never confuse or cloud it with our own intentions. If we do, God will have to force our intentions aside no matter how much it may hurt. A missionary is created for the purpose of being God’s servant, one in whom God is glorified. Once we realize that it is through the salvation of Jesus Christ that we are made perfectly fit for the purpose of God, we will understand why Jesus Christ is so strict and relentless in His demands. He demands absolute righteousness from His servants, because He has put into them the very nature of God.
Beware lest you forget God’s purpose for your life.
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
There is nothing, naturally speaking, that makes us lose heart quicker than decay—the decay of bodily beauty, of natural life, of friendship, of associations, all these things make a man lose heart; but Paul says when we are trusting in Jesus Christ these things do not find us discouraged, light comes through them. The Place of Help
“Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” Ruth 2:2
A Tanzanian friend has a vision for redeeming a piece of desolate land in the capital city of Dodoma. Recognizing the needs of some local widows, Ruth wants to transform these dusty acres into a place to keep chickens and grow crops. Her vision to provide for those in need is rooted in her love for God, and was inspired by her biblical namesake, Ruth.
God’s laws allowed the poor or the foreigner to glean (harvest) from the edges of the fields (Leviticus 19:9–10). Ruth (in the Bible) was a foreigner, and was therefore allowed to work in the fields, gathering food for her and her mother-in-law. Gleaning in Boaz’s field, a close relative, led to Ruth and Naomi ultimately finding a home and protection. Ruth used her ingenuity and effort in the work of the day—gathering food from the edges of the field—and God blessed her.
The passion of my friend Ruth and the dedication of the biblical Ruth stir me to give thanks to God for how He cares for the poor and downtrodden. They inspire me to seek ways to help others in my community and more broadly as a means of expressing my thanks to our giving God. How might you worship God through extending His mercy to others?
Jesus, You desire that no one would go hungry. Open our eyes to the ways we can help those in need. May we share Your love, for Your glory.
From his youth, King David was a committed follower of God. Yet there was a time when this devoted believer gave in to temptation and committed adultery with Bathsheba. His walk of integrity was severely compromised.
Ethical and moral failings have beset Christians throughout the ages. When a believer does whatever it takes to obtain something he wants, selfishness or greed is often the root cause. At other times the desire for acceptance can tempt us to manipulate people and circumstances—including making up lies. And fear of conflict can result in compromised standards, as many people try to fit in to avoid arguments. When we resort to deception to meet our own needs, we are in danger of being hurt.
At first, even those close to us may not notice our deception. But God sees. He will use our conscience to produce guilty feelings so we might confess our sin and turn from it. Self-protection will take over if we continue in unrighteousness—we will try to quiet our conscience by justifying the behavior. Over time, we will draw away from certain people so they won’t discover our ungodly behavior. By keeping them at a distance, we hope to avoid their scrutiny. If habitual sin builds over time, it can lead to serious consequences, like a lost job, a damaged friendship, or a broken family.
When confronted by Nathan, David recognized his sin, acknowledged it, and received forgiveness (2 Samuel 12:13). How do you respond when the Holy Spirit convicts you of ungodliness? Do you see the reality of your behavior and repent? Or do you try to justify and persist in your conduct?
“Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment. . . . Again, a new commandment I write unto you.” (1 John 2:7-8)
On the surface, this passage appears to be a real problem. The easily seen focus of the “commandment” is love for the brethren (vv. 9-11). The difficult wording lies in the “old” and the “new” side of the same thought.
The “old” sense of the command to love is as eternal as the very nature of God Himself. Whatever love we express in our human nature derives its source from God who is love (1 John 4:16). Even “from the beginning” (1 John 2:7) humanity was charged with the commitment of marital love (Genesis 2:24), which is the earthly example of God’s love for His church (Ephesians 5:25).
Then as God codified His “rules” for those who would submit to His authority, God insisted that we were to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18). Centuries later as the apostle Paul commented on the Mosiac Law, it was noted that “love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10).
The “new” side of the commandment has its “beginning” with the institution of the new covenant (Hebrews 8:13) and the commissioning of the apostolic leadership (John 13:34). The new focus would be on the spiritual kingdom rather than the earthly nation, and the “brethren” would not merely be genetically related but have a spiritual “new birth”(Acts 10:34-35; Galatians 3:28).
Since “the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth” (1 John 2:8), “he that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him” (1 John 2:10). This new command goes beyond marriage and nation to the entire family of God. HMM III
Because salvation is all of grace shall we plunge into yet more sin? Some of the children of darkness have been vile enough to reason thus: shall the believer adopt the same base argument?
We are new men and cannot delight in sin. Our nature has undergone a change which has made the argument just mentioned most abhorrent to us. We are dead to sin, and have made an open declaration thereof in our baptism: we should be base indeed if we lived to sin as we once did.
We are one with Jesus, being both dead with him, and risen in him; ours therefore it is to live the new life, and view ourselves as dead to all the sinful joys of our former lives. Oh for grace to carry this out to the full.
Romans 6:12, 13
We cannot obey our old tyrant, sin: as citizens of a new kingdom, we must serve our glorious Monarch.
Being under the law, it cursed you for your iniquity, and in return you transgressed the more; but now eternal love has set you free, and you cannot become again the slaves of sin.
If indeed we did run into evil because we believed in free grace, it would show that we were still the servants of sin, and not under grace at all.
How true is this! We served a bad master for bad wages: shall we not with far greater zeal devote ourselves to the delightful service of our Redeemer?
Romans 6:22, 23
Now we do not work for wages: every good thing comes to us as a free gift; therefore let gratitude move us to obedience, and constrain us to be in all things holy before the Lord. Self-interest makes the legalist work; gratitude for eternal love shall be a far stronger force in our hearts, and by the Holy Spirit’s help we will abound in good works because grace abounds.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. (Romans 8:29)
We must take a high view of what God has done for us in consummating the plan of salvation for a lost race!
The supreme work of Christ in redemption is not just to save us from hell, but to restore us to God-likeness again. Paul has confirmed this in Romans 8:29, “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.”
While perfect restoration to the divine image awaits the day of Christ’s appearing, the work of restoration is going on now. There is a slow but steady transmutation of the base metal of human nature into the gold of God-likeness effected by the faith-filled gaze of the soul at the glory of God—the face of Jesus Christ!
We have already moved from what we were to what we are, and we are now moving toward what we shall be. To become like God is and must be the supreme goal of all moral creatures!
“He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” John 16:14
The Holy Ghost Himself cannot better glorify the Lord Jesus than by showing to us Christ’s own things. Jesus is His own best commendation. There is no adorning Him except with His own gold.
The Comforter shows us that which He has received of our Lord Jesus. We never see anything aright till He reveals it. He has a way of opening our minds, and of opening the Scriptures, and by this double process He sets forth our Lord to us. There is much art in setting forth a matter, and that art belongs in the highest degree to the Spirit of truth. He shows us the things themselves. This is a great privilege, as those know who have enjoyed the hallowed vision.
Let us seek the illumination of the Spirit; not to gratify our curiosity, nor even to bring us personal comfort, so much as to glorify the Lord Jesus. Oh, to have worthy ideas of Him! Groveling notions dishonor our precious Lord. Oh, to have such vivid impressions of His person, and work, and glory, that we may with heart and soul cry out to His praise! Where there is a heart enriched by the Holy Ghost’s teaching there will be a Saviour glorified beyond expression. Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly light, and show us Jesus our Lord!
Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore! Psalm 105:4
A limited amount of time spent in the sun has its benefits—increased levels of vitamin D and serotonin are two of them. But, to keep the benefits, the exposure needs to be continued. When the disciples spent time with Jesus, they were changed, too. As they witnessed the life of Jesus, His preaching, and the miracles He performed, it would be easy to assume that faith came easily to them. It did not. Despite being physically close to Jesus and His power, the disciples struggled to believe and accept His identity as the Son of God and the unstoppable nature of His love and power. Waves and challenges quickly discouraged the disciples and pulled their gaze away from Christ.
The narrative running throughout the Gospels reveals the importance of keeping our eyes and attention on God, regardless of the situations being faced. Instead of looking at our physical surroundings and circumstances, we need to focus our attention on the Lord and His strength. Nothing can thwart His promises or purpose. As we bask in the truth of His Word and the power of His presence, we are set free.
We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts. A. W. Tozer
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
Early in our marriage, I struggled to figure out my wife’s preferences. Did she want a quiet dinner at home or a meal at a fancy restaurant? Was it okay for me to hang out with the guys, or did she expect me to keep the weekend free for her? Once, instead of guessing and deciding first, I asked her, “What do you want?”
“I’m fine with either,” she replied with a warm smile. “I’m just happy you thought of me.”
At times I’ve wanted desperately to know exactly what God wanted me to do—such as which job to take. Praying for guidance and reading the Bible didn’t reveal any specific answers. But one answer was clear: I was to trust in the Lord, take delight in Him, and commit my way to Him (Psalm 37:3–5).
That’s when I realized that God usually gives us the freedom of choice—if we first seek to put His ways before our own. That means dropping choices that are plainly wrong or would not please Him. It might be something immoral, ungodly, or unhelpful toward our relationship with Him. If the remaining options please God, then we’re free to choose from them. Our loving Father wants to give us the desires of our hearts—hearts that take delight in Him (v. 4).
Teach me, O God, to put You first in everything I do. Show me how to take delight in You, that my heart will be transformed to be like Yours.
Do your decisions please God?
By Leslie Koh
A prayerful reading of Psalm 37 yields increased joy, assurance, and confidence in the Lord. After an opening exhortation to not be upset by the short-lived vitality and success of those who ignore the Lord (vv. 1–2), a series of commands follow that call for faithful dependence on Him (vv. 3–8). The remainder of the psalm includes commentary about the conduct of two kinds of people (the righteous and the wicked), who follow two different paths and end up at two different places (vv. 9–11, 20). In various ways, the wicked harass and prey upon the righteous (vv. 12–15, 32). But the righteous are not alone. The Lord—in whom they trust and delight and upon whom they wait—protects them, making them safe and secure and stable (vv. 16–17, 23–26, 32–33). The conclusion of the psalm speaks powerfully to those who place their faith in God. “The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him” (vv. 39–40).
People tend to divide life into categories, distinguishing between issues related to work, home, faith, and leisure. Yet that’s not how the Lord sees us. His interest in His children is not confined to spiritual matters; He cares about the details of daily living as well.
Scripture shows that God is in the business of keeping our bodies fed (Luke 12:29), our minds wise (James 1:5), and our hearts at ease (Phil. 4:7). And since believers are in union with Jesus Christ through His indwelling Spirit, every aspect of a Christian’s existence has a spiritual connection. There’s no time in the day when the believer’s life separates into “sacred” and “secular” components. The anxious heart that distracts us from prayer is as much God’s concern as the tired mind that easily drifts into temptation.
Scripture emphasizes God’s commitment to the believer’s whole self: “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). The Lord doesn’t limit Himself to building godliness in us. Day-to-day particulars of life matter, too. We need never wonder if God can or wants to meet our needs. Our all-sufficient Father, whose kindness never ceases (Lam. 3:22), gives believers whatever is required to grow their faith—whether that means food, comfort, knowledge, or peace.
The loving heavenly Father sees His children in their entirety, not physical beings with a spiritual life on the side. We cheat ourselves when we think God is interested solely in our spiritual needs. He has many kinds of blessings to offer, if we will but ask.
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