Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
I grew up in warm southern cities, so when I moved north, it took me a while to learn how to drive safely during the long, snowy months. During my first hard winter, I ended up stranded in a snowdrift three times! But after several years of practice, I began to feel comfortable driving in wintry conditions. In fact, I felt a little too comfortable. I stopped being as vigilant. And that’s when I hit a patch of black ice and skidded into a telephone pole on the side of the road!
Thankfully, no one was hurt, but I learned something important that day. I realized how dangerous it can be to feel comfortable. Instead of being watchful, I had gone on “autopilot.”
We need to practice that same kind of vigilance in our spiritual lives. Peter warns believers not to glide thoughtlessly through life, but to “be alert” (1 Peter 5:8). The devil is actively trying to destroy us, and so we too need to be active, resisting temptation and standing firm in our faith (v. 9). That’s not something we have to do on our own though. God promises to be with us in our sufferings and, ultimately, to make us “strong, firm and steadfast” (v. 10). By His power, we learn to remain watchful and alert in resisting evil and following Him.
Where do you need to be more alert? In what ways will you stay vigilant in following Jesus?
As Christians, we all long to make necessary changes in our life so we’ll become more like Jesus. And we’re also concerned about the spiritual growth of fellow believers—especially our loved ones. But transformation doesn’t come about by trying harder or putting Bible verses on sticky notes in hopes that family members will read them and shape up. The most powerful resource we have is prayer, and Paul has given us a pattern that is Christ-centered and specific.
Too often, believers pray without giving much thought to what God wants to do in a person’s life. Instead, we focus on our own ideas regarding what He should do. How much more effective our prayers would be if we prayed according to God’s will by using His Word as our source for requests.
The prayer from Colossians 1 focuses on the heavenly Father’s desires for His children. When we go before the Lord and substitute our own name or the name of a friend or family member for “you” in verses 9 and 10, we are praying His specific will for that person. The Lord delights in responding to requests that someone be filled with knowledge of His will and walk in a manner pleasing to Him.
However, we must be careful not to think of this prayer as a magic charm. It doesn’t work that way. These godly qualities take time to develop in a life. And if we are praying these things for ourselves, we must avail ourselves of the means God has provided for our sanctification or transformation—namely, His Word. If we want to know and understand God’s will, we should ask Him and search the Bible.
“Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.” (Jude 1:8)
The King James translators supplied the term “filthy” for the dreamers that Jude denounces because of the “likewise” that introduces their condemnation. The prior verses had condemned certain angels and the populations of Sodom and Gomorrha because of their perversion of God’s sexual design.
These dreamers not only “stain” the flesh but have become so arrogant that they give “no standing” to any authority and “blaspheme” those who have any “glory.” Not even Michael the archangel had that kind of attitude; Jude notes in the next verse that Michael didn’t rebuke Lucifer when he was carrying out God’s mission for Moses’ body. Some people are way out of line!
Jude’s whole message is focused on those who are attempting to resist, undo, damage, distort, or otherwise disrupt the work of God’s people. In the context, these dreamers are not merely inattentive fools who wander in and out of churches seeking some personal “fulfillment,” they are enemies within—those who may have positions of influence and who are actively seeking to hurt the ministry and mission of God’s Kingdom.
Peter calls them “presumptuous” and “selfwilled,” no better than “natural brute beasts” who mouth off about “things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption” (2 Peter 2:10-12). Strong words, but a fitting description of those who would dare to set themselves against the omnipotent and omniscient Creator. As David so aptly says: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1).
Dialogue with these dreamers is futile. The solution is: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). HMM III
But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he tool me vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.
It is written of Moses that he “went in before the LORD to speak with him…. [a] nd he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel.” This is the biblical norm from which we depart to our own undoing and to the everlasting injury of the souls of men. No man has any moral right to go before the people who has not first been long before the Lord. No man has any right to speak to men about God who has not first spoken to God about men. And the prophet of God should spend more time in the secret place praying than he spends in the public place preaching….
One swallow does not make a spring nor one hot day a summer; nor will a few minutes of frantic praying before service bring out the tender buds or make the flowers to appear on the earth. The field must be soaked in sunshine over a long period before it will give forth its treasures. The Christian’s heart must be soaked in prayer before the true spiritual fruits begin to grow. ROR105-106
Quiet my heart today, slow me down I pray. Amen.
Let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice; let them also that love Thy name be joyful in Thee.—Psalm 5:11.
That they might have My joy fulfilled in them” selves.—John 17:13.
God desires us to live as close as we can to the life that Jesus Christ lived. That is the broad avenue to perfect happiness. Most of us know by experience that in proportion as we have followed Him, we have found happiness. And we know by still larger experience that as we turn away from Him the world gets dark, and life ceases to be worth living.
Each soul has its own faculty; it can help in some way to make the world more cheerful and more beautiful. This it is which makes life worth living. If we are living only for ourselves, our own amusement, luxury, advancement, life is not worth living. But if we are living as co-workers with Christ, as fellow-helpers with God, as part of the noble army of martyrs who bear witness to the truth in all time, then our lives are full of interest. This gives sweetness and strength to all our days.
James Freeman Clarke.
“And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee.” Exod. 23:28
What the hornets were we need not consider. They were God’s own army, which He sent before His people to sting their enemies, and render Israel’s conquest easy. Our God by His own chosen means will fight for His people, and gall their foes, before they come into the actual battle. Often He confounds the adversaries of truth by methods in which reformers themselves have no hand. The air is full of mysterious influences which harass Israel’s foes. We read in the Apocalypse that “the earth helped the woman.
Let us never fear. The stars in their courses fight against the enemies of our souls. Oftentimes when we march to the conflict we find no host to contend with. “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” God’s hornets can do more than our weapons. We could never dream of the victory being won by such means as Jehovah will use. We must obey our marching orders and go forth to the conquest of the nations for Jesus, and we shall find that the Lord has gone before us, and prepared the way; so that in the end we shall joyfully confess, “His own right hand, and his holy arm, have gotten him the victory.”