If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32
Feelings are like the sea, constantly swirling and shifting, whether in small waves or monumental ones. Every sailor knows the sea can change at a moment’s notice. Thankfully God’s Word does not change or shift. He is unchanging, like an anchor, a rock, or secure fortress.
When we use our emotions as barometers of truth, we swing from side to side and every issue becomes a matter of personal preference and opinion. God invites us into the security and truth found in His Word. We are invited to embrace God and His Word because they bring life and freedom.
God’s truth sets us free from deception, discouragement, and doubt. The life of Jesus, God’s Word in the flesh, reassures us that His truth brings healing and life. As we draw close to Christ and nourish our souls, minds, and hearts with His Word, we discover the freedom we crave.
The remedy for discouragement is the Word of God. When you feed your heart and mind with its truth, you regain your perspective and find renewed strength. Warren Wiersbe
The Freedom of True Discipleship (John 8:31-36)
The third time [Jesus] said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” . . . [Peter] said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” John 21:17
Before she followed in the footsteps of John the Baptist by living in the desert, Mary of Egypt (c. ad 344–421) spent her youth pursuing illicit pleasures and seducing men. At the height of her sordid career, she journeyed to Jerusalem in an attempt to corrupt pilgrims. Instead, she experienced deep conviction of her sins and thereafter lived a life of repentance and solitude in the wilderness. Mary’s radical transformation illustrates the magnitude of God’s grace and the restoring power of the cross.
The disciple Peter denied Jesus three times. Only hours before the denials, Peter had declared his willingness to die for Jesus (Luke 22:33), so the realization of his failure was a crushing blow (vv. 61–62). After Jesus’s death and resurrection, Peter was fishing with some of the disciples when Jesus appeared to them. Jesus gave Peter a chance to declare his love for Him three times—one for each of his denials (John 21:1–3). Then, with each declaration, Jesus charged Peter to care for His people (vv. 15–17). The result of this stunning display of grace was that Peter played a key role in building the church and ultimately gave his life for Christ.
A biography of any one of us could begin with a litany of our failures and defeats. But God’s grace always allows for a different ending. By His grace, He redeems and transforms us.
Reflect & Pray
In what ways have you experienced God’s transforming grace? How can you express His grace toward others?
God’s grace transforms us from sinners to saints.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
The three commands in today’s passage may look simple because they’re short, but many people find them challenging to obey. Our lives are so full of responsibilities and activities that it’s all we can do to keep up our schedules, let alone live as these verses command. There’s only one way to succeed—not by trying harder but by focusing on Christ. When He becomes the center of our attention, our attitude and behavior will change.
Rejoice Always. The realization that our omnipotent God is constantly with us puts troubling circumstances in their proper place—under His authority. It also helps us sense the incomparable joy of His companionship, even in difficulties and suffering.
Pray without ceasing. It’s important to set aside time each day to come before the Lord with our problems and requests. But believers also long for an ongoing attitude of prayer, which, like a continual conversation, is expressed either verbally or in our thoughts. Then if a decision is required or trouble comes, our first thought is to turn to God for help.
Give thanks in everything. If our minds are set on the Lord each day, we’ll be able to thank Him regardless of the situation. That’s because we know He is with us and will work everything for our good—if not here, then in heaven.
These three admonitions are a call to become preoccupied with Christ. If we are consumed with other thoughts, it’s easy to feel irritated, worry unceasingly, and complain about everything. But when we begin each day in God’s Word, we are reminded of His instructions and His care.
“[They are] raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame.” (Jude 1:13)
Jude connects together a string of 21 illustrations to describe the character of ungodly men who are attacking “the faith once delivered to the saints” (v. 3). This very poignant letter literally sizzles with scathing imagery for those who dare to stir up dissension and disobedience among God’s people.
The particular image in verse 13 is of roiling billows surging ashore after a storm, spitting out “shame” from amidst the foam. The physical picture is disgusting enough. As the energy of the storm increases the waves’ height and frequency, the detritus in and on the ocean is picked up and carried along. As the waves rise up toward the shore, they break and the foam begins to collect and then spew out the “shame” previously covered by the depths.
Isaiah’s comparison is most apt: “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt” (Isaiah 57:20). The shame cast up by these raging waves is not just filthy but also damaging to those among whom the shame is dumped.
Paul warned the Corinthian church about those who dealt with “hidden things of dishonesty,” were “walking in craftiness,” or were “handling the word of God deceitfully.” In vivid contrast, Paul and his co-laborers openly displayed “the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2). Like Jude, Paul forecasts only destruction for these kinds of people. They brag “in their shame” and have their mind set on “earthly things” (Philippians 3:19).
“Foaming” at the mouth is frequently connected with demonic oppression in Scripture (Mark 9:17-18; Luke 9:39; etc.). Medically, the symptom is seldom positive. Perhaps Jude is offering a glimpse of the devilish source of such “raging” and raising a further alarm. HMM III
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
For years I have made a practice of writing many of my earnest prayers to God in a little book—a book now well worn. I still turn often to the petitions I recorded in that book. I remind God often of what my prayers have been.One prayer in the book—and God knows it well by this time, for I pray it often—goes like this:
Oh God, Let me die rather than to go on day by day living wrong…. I want to be right so that I can die right. Lord, I do not want my life to be extended if it would mean that I should cease to live right and fail in my mission to glorify You all of my days!…
As you will recall from Second Kings 20, the Lord gave Hezekiah a fifteen-year extension of life. Restored to health and vigor, Hezekiah disgraced himself and dishonored God before he died and was buried.
I would not want an extra fifteen years in which to backslide and dishonor my Lord. I would rather go home right now than to live on—if living on was to be a waste of God’s time and my own! JIV141-142
Please, Father, help me to finish well. Amen.
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me bless His holy name: Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth tbee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.—Psalm 113:1, 4.
I desire that thou shouldst consider with firm faith that I, thy most glorious God, who have created thee for eternal blessedness, am eternal, sovereign, omnipotent. I will that thou shouldst seriously meditate that in Me, thy God, dwell the most perfect knowledge and infinite wisdom; so that in My government of thee, the heavens, and the earth, and the entire universe, I cannot be deceived in any way, or misled by any error. Were it otherwise, I should neither be all wise, nor should I be God. Also consider attentively that, as I am thy God, so am I infinitely good, yea, love itself in My essence; that, therefore, I cannot will anything but that which is useful and salutary to thee and to all men, nor can I wish any evil to My creatures. Thus illuminated by the living light of faith, thou wilt perceive that I, thy God, have infinitely more knowledge, power, and will to advance thy happiness than thou hast. Therefore seek with all diligence to submit thyself totally to My will; so shalt thou abide in continual tranquillity of spirit, and shalt have Me forever with thee.
St. Catharine of Siena.
“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Rev. 2:17
My heart, be thou stirred up to persevere in the holy war, for the reward of victory is great. Today we eat of heavenly food which falls about our camps; the food of the wilderness, the food which comes from Heaven, the food which never fails the pilgrims to Canaan. But there is reserved for us in Christ Jesus a still higher degree of spiritual life, and a food for it which, as yet is hidden from our experience. In the golden pot which was laid up in the ark there was a portion of manna hidden away, which though kept for ages never grew stale. No one ever saw it; it was hid with the ark of the covenant, in the Holy of Holies. Even so, the highest life of the believer is hid with Christ, in God. We shall come to it soon. Being made victorious through the grace of our Lord Jesus, we shall eat of the King’s meat, and feed upon royal dainties. We shall feed upon Jesus. He is our “hidden manna” as well as the manna of the wilderness. He is all in all to us in our highest, as well as in our lowest estate. He helps us to fight, gives us the victory, and then is Himself our reward. Lord, help me to overcome.