Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
In nations with a Christian history or presence, verses about God’s presence and protection are read differently than those to whom the verses originally spoke. But we shouldn’t. Our challenges may be different from those in the past, but we are in just as much need of God’s provision and protection.
When Moses originally told the Israelites that God would not leave them nor forsake them (Deuteronomy 31:6), it was a life-saving promise. The Israelites were going into the Promised Land to face the Canaanites. When David wrote that God was his shepherd who guides, feeds, heals, provides, and protects, it was only a few years after surviving the murderous threats of King Saul (Psalm 23). And when Jesus told His disciples He would always be with them (Matthew 28:20), it was because He was sending them out “as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matthew 10:16).
You may not face threats that drastic today, but God is still with you. Tell Him your needs and let His peace guard your heart (Philippians 4:6-7).
Anxious care is out of place in a heavenly Father’s presence. Kenneth Wuest
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them. Isaiah 42:16
People ask me if I have a five-year plan. How can I plan five years “down the road” on a road I’ve never traveled?
I think back to the 1960s when I was a minister to students at Stanford University. I’d been a physical education major in college and had a lot of fun, but I left no record of being a scholar. I felt wholly inadequate in my new position. Most days I wandered around the campus, a blind man groping in the darkness, asking God to show me what to do. One day a student “out of the blue” asked me to lead a Bible study in his fraternity. It was a beginning.
God doesn’t stand at a juncture and point the way: He’s a guide, not a signpost. He walks with us, leading us down paths we never envisioned. All we have to do is walk alongside Him.
The path won’t be easy; there’ll be “rough places” along the way. But God has promised that He will “turn the darkness into light” and “will not forsake” us (Isaiah 42:16). He’ll be with us all the way.
Paul said that God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). We can scheme and envision, but our Lord’s imagination far transcends our plans. We must hold them loosely and see what God has in mind.
Reflect & Pray
In what ways has God turned your darkness into light? What have you found to be your greatest joy as you walk with Him?
Jesus, I thank You that You have plans for me far beyond my imagination. Help me follow Your lead.
Sometimes people think that life will be smooth sailing after salvation, only to discover they have even more struggles than before. However, this is normal for a Christian. Before meeting the Savior, we were drifting aimlessly with the culture, and there was no inner conflict between God’s desires and ours. But after salvation, we began an upstream journey called sanctification.
Some people thought they were signing up for a Savior who’d give them what they want, but since it’s tough to be in perpetual conflict, they quickly give up and drift back to the world. Those who’ve counted the cost and surrendered to Christ as Lord, however, aren’t left on their own to do the best they can—that would never work, because human efforts cannot overcome sin. What’s needed is divine empowerment, which is exactly what we have in the person of the Holy Spirit, who came to live within us at the moment of salvation.
In the epistle to the Galatians, Paul warns us not to use our freedom in Christ as an excuse to drift back into sin and worldliness. Instead, we are to “walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16). Though we’ll struggle, believers should seek to move toward holiness and Christlikeness through the power of the Holy Spirit. This means we are continually living in conflict with the tendencies of our flesh.
Every day we grapple with sins like jealousy, strife, lust, selfishness, and pride. Yet at the same time, we can learn to walk by the Spirit, who empowers us to set aside these fleshly desires. By fully submitting to Him, we can walk in victory over sin and self.
“That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” (Philemon 1:6)
This one-chapter epistle of Paul to his friend Philemon is essentially a personal request by Paul that Philemon forgive his runaway slave, Onesimus, and receive him back into “the church in thy house” as a new Christian, recently won to Christ (vv. 2, 10, 15-16). Our text is Paul’s prayer for Philemon and is similar to prayers by him for other believers (e.g., Colossians 1:9-10). It is an appropriate prayer on behalf of any fellow Christian. Its emphasis is on the blessings and responsibilities of true fellowship.
The “communication” of which Paul speaks is the Greek word koinonia, meaning “fellowship.” That is, genuine Christian faith involves a sharing of one’s life with others of “like precious faith” (2 Peter 1:1). That fellowship becomes “effectual” (literally, “full of power,” from the Greek energes, “energizing”) only through recognizing and appreciating all the blessings we have received through Christ.
Paul pointed out that he himself should be counted as a “partner” with Philemon (v. 17). Here the Greek is koinonos, practically the same as koinonia. Both Philemon, the wealthy Colossian master, and Onesimus, his runaway bondservant, were Paul’s spiritual children (v. 19), so they all theoretically shared “every good thing” in fellowship through Christ. Thus, Paul offered to repay anything Onesimus had stolen or any other losses, should Philemon so insist (vv. 18-19).
The demands of Christian fellowship thus might cost Onesimus his freedom, Paul his helper, and Philemon his property. True fellowship is not mere Christian socializing. It is the sharing of love and concern, time and talents, possessions and even life itself, as need and circumstance demand, with others in the household of faith. HMM
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
—1 Corinthians 15:58
It is good to come to the understanding that while God wants us to be holy and Spirit-filled, He does not expect us to look like Abraham or to play the harp like David or to have the same spiritual insight given to Paul.
All of those former heroes of the faith are dead. You are alive in your generation. A Bible proverb says that it is better to be a living dog than a dead lion. You may wish to be Abraham or Isaac or Jacob, but remember that they have been asleep for long centuries, and you are still around! You can witness for your Lord today. You can still pray. You can still give of your substance to help those in need. You can still encourage the depressed.
I hope you have not missed something good from God’s hand because you felt you did not measure up to Gideon or Isaiah. In this your generation, give God all of your attention! Give Him all of your love! Give Him all of your devotion and faithful service! You do not know what holy, happy secret God may want to whisper to your responsive heart. JAF072
Father, I commit myself to faithfulness today. You have given me life today; You have given me the gifts You want me to have and use; You have called me by Your grace to serve You. I give it all to You today. Amen.
I will walk at liberty: for I seek Thy precepts.—Psalm 119:45.
To be made with Thee one spirit,
Is the boon that I lingering ask,
To have no bar ‘twixt my soul and Thine;
My thoughts to echo Thy will divine,
Myself Thy servant for any task.
There is more effort, more steadfastness, involved in a diligent attention to little duties than appears at first sight, and that because of their continual recurrence. Such heed to little things implies a ceaseless listening to the whispers of grace, a strict watchfulness against every thought, wish, word or act which can offend God ever so little, a constant effort to do everything as perfectly as possible. All this, however, must be done with a free, childlike spirit, without restlessness and anxiety. He does not ask a fretted, shrinking service. Give yourself to Him, trust Him, fix your eye upon Him, listen to His voice, and then go on brave% and cheerfully, never doubting for an instant that His grace will lead you in small things as well as great, and will keep you from offending His law of love.
Jean Nicolas Grou.
“And I will put a division between my people and thy people: tomorrow shall this sign be.” Exod. 8:23
Pharoah has a people, and the Lord has a people. These may dwell together, and seem to fare alike, but there is a division between them, and the Lord will make it apparent. Not for ever shall one event happen alike to all, but there shall be great difference between the men of the world and the people of Jehovah’s choice.
This may happen in the time of judgments, when the Lord becomes the sanctuary of His saints. It is very conspicuous in the conversion of believers when their sin is put away, while unbelievers remain under condemnation. From that moment they become a distinct race, come under a new discipline, and enjoy new blessings. Their homes, henceforth, are free from the grievous swarms of evils which defile and torment the Egyptians. They are kept from the pollution of lust, the bite of care, the corruption of falsehood, and the cruel torment of hatred, which devour many families.
Rest assured, tried believer, that though you have your troubles you are saved from swarms of worse ones, which infest the homes and hearts of the servants of the world’s Prince. The Lord has put a division; see to it that you keep up the division in spirit, aim, character and company.