For we are . . . created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
When a burly stranger approached my wife and me on a street abroad, we shrunk back in fear. Our holiday had been going badly; we had been yelled at, cheated, and extorted from several times. Were we going to be shaken down again? To our surprise, the man just wanted to show us where to get the best view of his city. Then he gave us a chocolate bar, smiled, and left. That little gesture made our day—and saved the whole trip. It made us grateful—both to the man and to God for cheering us up.
What had made the man reach out to two strangers? Had he gone around with a chocolate bar the entire day, looking to bless someone with it?
It’s amazing how the smallest action can bring the biggest smile—and possibly direct someone to God. The Bible stresses the importance of doing good works (James 2:17, 24). If that sounds challenging, we have the assurance that God not only enables us to do these works, but has even “prepared [them] in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
Perhaps God has arranged for us to “bump into” someone who needs a word of encouragement today or has given us an opportunity to offer someone a helping hand. All we have to do is respond in obedience.
Who can you pray for or help today? Who might God be putting in your path?
Do you delight in the Bible? That’s a challenging question because the answer is revealed by our actions. To delight is to take great pleasure in something or someone and to spend time in that activity or relationship. Christians want to delight in God and His Word, but our schedules often indicate a different reality.
Time spent alone with the Lord in His Word and prayer is crucial to the Christian life. If we neglect it, the delights of the world will quickly fill our mind and capture our heart, drowning out the desire for God. Then instead of time with Him being a priority, it will become an afterthought. At first this may not seem like a big deal, but eventually we’ll wither spiritually and bear no fruit.
Meditation is a means by which we make ourselves available to be instructed by the Lord through the Scriptures. It requires time, submission, and commitment, all of which are difficult for people who are busy running from one activity to the next. Yet if we want to grow in Christ, we must become like a tree firmly rooted by the river of God’s Word. That’s where we are nurtured and refreshed, and it is what’s required in order to have a spiritually fruitful life.
Over time we’ll learn to find peace in God’s presence even in stormy situations. And as we get to know the Lord, our love for Him will increase. Many people wish they loved God more, and time alone with Him in His Word is the key. Furthermore, as our love for God increases, both He and His Word will become our delight.
‘Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
This is one of the most reassuring promises in the Bible for the believer. Because “we are of God” and because He is in us (as the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 3:16) and is “greater . . . than he that is in the world,” we have already overcome!
I firmly believe that there are no empty promises in the Bible, and I know that this passage is true. But there are times when I do not feel like I am over anything. Just what does this promise promise? And who are “them” that I have to overcome?
To begin with, the Greek word means to conquer, overcome, prevail, or get the victory. It is translated similarly in speaking of the Lord’s ultimate victory as He assumes the throne in heaven to bring about the end of the age (Revelation 5:5). And in the same way, we are to conquer as we “reign in life” (Romans 5:17) because we are “born of God” (1 John 5:4). The Lord Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33), and since we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, we too will get the victory over the world (1 John 5:5; Romans 12:2).
The “them” are those who are driven to embrace ungodly antichrist doctrines (1 Timothy 4:1) and worldly philosophies (James 4:4). They are those who “love the world” (1 John 2:15-17) and seek to spoil (plunder and/or take captive) the people of God (Colossians 2:8). We, on the other hand, are to prevail over evil with good (Romans 12:21) and take them captive with the mighty “weapons of our warfare” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5), which are the Word of God and prayer (Ephesians 6:13-18). HMM III
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own.
—1 Corinthians 6:19
It is time for us to repent, for our transgressions against the blessed Third Person have been many and much aggravated. We have bitterly mistreated Him in the house of His friends. We have crucified Him in His own temple as they crucified the Eternal Son on the hill above Jerusalem. And the nails we used were not of iron, but of the finer and more precious stuff of which human life is made. Out of our hearts we took the refined metals of will and feeling and thought, and from them we fashioned the nails of suspicion and rebellion and neglect. By unworthy thoughts about Him and unfriendly attitudes toward Him we grieved and quenched Him days without end.
The truest and most acceptable repentance is to reverse the acts and attitudes of which we repent….
We can best repent our neglect by neglecting Him no more. Let us begin to think of Him as One to be worshipped and obeyed. Let us throw open every door and invite Him in. Let us surrender to Him every room in the temple of our hearts and insist that He enter and occupy as Lord and Master within His own dwelling. POM071-072
Forgive me. Change me. Indwell me. Control me. Amen.
Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.—Romans 8:9.
That life is carnal in which our spirit, meant for God, is dragged at the chariot-wheels of our lower life; and that is spiritual which is ruled and mastered by the Spirit. Secular business is spiritual if it is ruled by the divine Spirit according to the law of righteousness. Politics are spiritual, commercial and municipal life are spiritual, art and science, are spiritual, and everything that develops our faculties is spiritual, if we will allow the divine Spirit to rule in all according to the law of righteousness, truth, and beauty. For the whole of our being, with all its sum of faculties, is made by God and meant for God.
It is the very business of your life to cultivate every faculty you have (the highest most, and most in the highest directions), in the belief that He has given them to you that you may become His instruments for usefulness; and that He asks this of you, because, if you grant it, you enable Him to give you more of His own happiness than you can otherwise receive, and far more than you can imagine.
“If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up “Job 22:23
Eliphaz, in this utterance, spoke a great truth, which is the summary of many an inspired Scripture. Reader, has sin pulled you down? Have you become like a ruin? Has the hand of the Lord gone out against you, so that in estate you are impoverished, and in Spirit you are broken down? Was it your own folly which brought upon you all this dilapidation? Then the first thing to be done is to return to the Lord. With deep repentance and sincere faith find your way back from your backsliding. It is your duty, for you have turned away from Him whom you professed to serve. It is your wisdom, for you cannot strive against Him and prosper. It is your immediate necessity, for what He has done is nothing compared to what He may do in the way of chastisement, since He is Almighty to punish.
See what a promise invites you! You shall be “built up.” None but the Almighty can set up the fallen pillars, and restore the tottering walls of your condition; but He can and He will do it if you return to Him. Do not delay. Your crushed mind may quite fail you if you go on to rebel; but hearty confession will ease you, and humble faith will console you. Do this, and all will be well.