“By this we believe….” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?” —John 16:30-31
“Now we believe….” But Jesus asks, “Do you…? Indeed the hour is coming…that you…will leave Me alone” (John 16:31-32). Many Christian workers have left Jesus Christ alone and yet tried to serve Him out of a sense of duty, or because they sense a need as a result of their own discernment. The reason for this is actually the absence of the resurrection life of Jesus. Our soul has gotten out of intimate contact with God by leaning on our own religious understanding (see Proverbs 3:5-6). This is not deliberate sin and there is no punishment attached to it. But once a person realizes how he has hindered his understanding of Jesus Christ, and caused uncertainties, sorrows, and difficulties for himself, it is with shame and remorse that he has to return.
We need to rely on the resurrection life of Jesus on a much deeper level than we do now. We should get in the habit of continually seeking His counsel on everything, instead of making our own commonsense decisions and then asking Him to bless them. He cannot bless them; it is not in His realm to do so, and those decisions are severed from reality. If we do something simply out of a sense of duty, we are trying to live up to a standard that competes with Jesus Christ. We become a prideful, arrogant person, thinking we know what to do in every situation. We have put our sense of duty on the throne of our life, instead of enthroning the resurrection life of Jesus. We are not told to “walk in the light” of our conscience or in the light of a sense of duty, but to “walk in the light as He is in the light…” (1 John 1:7). When we do something out of a sense of duty, it is easy to explain the reasons for our actions to others. But when we do something out of obedience to the Lord, there can be no other explanation— just obedience. That is why a saint can be so easily ridiculed and misunderstood.
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
The Bible is a relation of facts, the truth of which must be tested. Life may go on all right for a while, when suddenly a bereavement comes, or some crisis; unrequited love or a new love, a disaster, a business collapse, or a shocking sin, and we turn up our Bibles again and God’s word comes straight home, and we say, “Why, I never saw that there before.” Shade of His Hand, 1223 L
[God’s] compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Lamentations 3:22–23
My brother Paul grew up battling severe epilepsy, and when he entered his teenage years it became even worse. Nighttime was excruciating for him and my parents, as he’d experience continuous seizures for often more than six hours at a time. Doctors couldn’t find a treatment that would alleviate the symptoms while also keeping him conscious for at least part of the day. My parents cried out in prayer: “God, oh God, help us!”
Although their emotions were battered and their bodies exhausted, Paul and my parents received enough strength from God for each new day. In addition, my parents found comfort in the words of the Bible, including the book of Lamentations. Here Jeremiah voiced his grief over the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, remembering “the bitterness and the gall” (3:19). Yet Jeremiah didn’t lose hope. He called to mind the mercies of God, that His compassions “are new every morning” (v. 23). So too did my parents.
Whatever you’re facing, know that God is faithful every morning. He renews our strength day by day and gives us hope. And sometimes, as with my family, He brings relief. After several years, a new medication became available that stopped Paul’s continuous nighttime seizures, giving my family restorative sleep and hope for the future.
When our souls are downcast within us (v. 20), may we call to mind the promises of God that His mercies are new every morning.
By: Amy Boucher Pye
Reflect & Pray
How has God sustained you through the trials you’ve faced? How could you support someone who’s enduring a challenging time?
God, Your love will never leave me. When I feel spent and without hope, remind me of Your mercies and compassion.
To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.
A few thousand years ago, the young shepherd David stepped forward to fight Goliath. We often speak of this story as a reminder of the young man’s bravery, even when the odds were against him. But David’s bravery—and success—came from His deep faith in God. (See 1 Samuel 17). And this faith helped him go on to become a successful warrior and king.
The Lord gave David many responsibilities during his reign, and he endured numerous trials—some due to his own sin. Through it all, the king returned to God again and again in humble dependence and repeatedly proclaimed his trust in the Lord’s faithfulness.
God calls us to abide in this kind of relationship with Him. In seasons of trial or abundance—and we’ll likely experience both, even simultaneously—we can cling to Him and trust that He is the source of all courage, perseverance, and abiding joy.
THINK ABOUT IT • What do you do when you’re facing a challenge? How does your relationship with God factor into the choices you make?
• Does your faith in Christ help you to feel courageous when facing something new, challenging, uncomfortable, or intimidating? Why or why not?
“But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” (Mark 6:4)
A town will give great honor to a “hometown boy” if he makes good in athletics or the entertainment world. But if he becomes known as an influential Christian, the hometown folks usually are embarrassed about it.
Jesus Himself experienced this. He grew up in Nazareth, and it was there that He had “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). When He returned to Nazareth, however, after the early days of His ministry, “as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16). He was already recognized there as proficient in the Scriptures, and they had heard tales about His miracles, so the invitation to speak was natural, but there were certain mumbles. “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” they asked. “Whence then hath this man all these things?” (Matthew 13:55-56).
At first, “all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Luke 4:22). But then, as He applied a key prophecy to Himself and rebuked them for their unbelief, they “were filled with wrath” and tried unsuccessfully to slay Him (Luke 4:28-29). “Neither did his brethren believe in him” (John 7:5), and only His mother was with Him when He was crucified (John 19:25). As David had written prophetically, “I am become a stranger unto my brethren….For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (Psalm 69:8-9).
Perhaps those Christians who have been rejected by their family and former friends can identify with Jesus when He said: “For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother” (Mark 3:35). We still have a family—an eternal one! HMM
...to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. —Ephesians 3:19
Pentecost means that the Deity came to mankind to give Himself to man, that man might breathe Him in as he breathes in the air, that He might fill men. Dr. A.B. Simpson used an illustration which was about as good as any I ever heard. He said, “Being filled with the fullness of God is like a bottle in the ocean. You take the cork out of the bottle and sink it in the ocean, and you have the bottle completely full of ocean. The bottle is in the ocean, and the ocean is in the bottle. The ocean contains the bottle, but the bottle contains only a little bit of the ocean. So it is with a Christian.”
We are filled unto the fullness of God, but, of course, we cannot contain all of God because God contains us; but we can have all of God that we can contain. If we only knew it, we could enlarge our vessel. The vessel gets bigger as we go on with God. COU068
Enlarge my vessel, Lord, and fill me with more and more of the fullness of Yourself. Amen.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. —Matthew 18:20
According to the Scriptures the Church is the habitation of God through the Spirit, and as such is the most important organism beneath the sun. She is not one more good institution along with the home, the state and the school; she is the most vital of all institutions—the only one that can claim a heavenly origin.
The cynic may inquire which church we mean, and may remind us that the Christian Church is so divided that it is impossible to tell which is the true one, even if such a one exists….
Being inside the Church we are probably as well aware of her faults as any person on the outside could possibly be. And we believe in her nevertheless wherever she manifests herself in a world of darkness and unbelief.
The Church is found wherever the Holy Spirit has drawn together a few persons who trust Christ for their salvation, worship God in spirit and have no dealings with the world and the flesh. GTM024-025
The Church was never intended to be a natural and intellectual organization, but a supernatural instrumentality wholly dependent upon the power of God. ISS029
Where then do You get that living water? —John 4:11
“The well is deep” — and even a great deal deeper than the Samaritan woman knew! (John 4:11). Think of the depths of human nature and human life; think of the depth of the “wells” in you. Have you been limiting, or impoverishing, the ministry of Jesus to the point that He is unable to work in your life? Suppose that you have a deep “well” of hurt and trouble inside your heart, and Jesus comes and says to you, “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:1). Would your response be to shrug your shoulders and say, “But, Lord, the well is too deep, and even You can’t draw up quietness and comfort out of it.” Actually, that is correct. Jesus doesn’t bring anything up from the wells of human nature— He brings them down from above. We limit the Holy One of Israel by remembering only what we have allowed Him to do for us in the past, and also by saying, “Of course, I cannot expect God to do this particular thing.” The thing that approaches the very limits of His power is the very thing we as disciples of Jesus ought to believe He will do. We impoverish and weaken His ministry in us the moment we forget He is almighty. The impoverishment is in us, not in Him. We will come to Jesus for Him to be our comforter or our sympathizer, but we refrain from approaching Him as our Almighty God.
The reason some of us are such poor examples of Christianity is that we have failed to recognize that Christ is almighty. We have Christian attributes and experiences, but there is no abandonment or surrender to Jesus Christ. When we get into difficult circumstances, we impoverish His ministry by saying, “Of course, He can’t do anything about this.” We struggle to reach the bottom of our own well, trying to get water for ourselves. Beware of sitting back, and saying, “It can’t be done.” You will know it can be done if you will look to Jesus. The well of your incompleteness runs deep, but make the effort to look away from yourself and to look toward Him.
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
It is impossible to read too much, but always keep before you why you read. Remember that “the need to receive, recognize, and rely on the Holy Spirit” is before all else. Approved Unto God, 11 L
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
In the summer of 1859, Monsieur Charles Blondin became the first person to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope—something he would go on to do hundreds of times. Once he did it with his manager Harry Colcord on his back. Blondin gave Colcord these instructions: “Look up, Harry . . . you are no longer Colcord, you are Blondin. . . . If I sway, sway with me. Do not attempt to do any balancing yourself. If you do, we will both go to our death.”
Paul, in essence, said to the Galatian believers: You can’t walk the line of living a life that is pleasing to God apart from faith in Christ. But here’s the good news—you don’t have to! No amount of attempting to earn our way to God will ever cut it. So are we passive in our salvation? No! Our invitation is to cling to Christ. Clinging to Jesus means putting to death an old, independent way of living; it’s as if we ourselves have died. Yet, we go on living. But “the life [we] now live in the body, [we] live by faith in the Son of God, who loved [us] and gave himself for [us]” (Galatians 2:20).
Where are we trying to walk the tightrope today? God hasn’t called us to walk out on the rope to Him; He’s called us to cling to Him and walk this life with Him.
By: Glenn Packiam
Reflect & Pray
How can you stop trying to please God on your own? Where do you need to cling to Jesus today, trusting His righteousness?
Dear Jesus, thank You for doing for me what I could never do for myself. I turn away from trying to please You on my own. I’m so glad I don’t need to earn Your love.
Scripture uses beautiful imagery to describe the return of Christ. Today’s passage, for example, says at the Lord’s shout and the sounding of a trumpet, the “dead in Christ” will emerge from their resting places and soar into the sky (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Close behind them will be believers who haven’t yet departed this life. They’ll be changed as they are “caught up … to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Earthly flesh and bones age, lose vitality, and succumb to sin. So God promised that the body of every believer would be transformed into a glorious one like Christ’s after His resurrection. In heaven, we will no longer have to deal with temptations or limitations of our present time-bound existence. Perhaps we won’t even be restricted by space, since John 20:19 indicates that the resurrected Jesus didn’t bother with doors! Our new bodies will be suited for the environment where we are to dwell forever—an ageless eternity in which all of our needs are perfectly met.
Each believer will still be him- or herself. Friends and family long separated will recognize one another; our personalities will be unchanged, except that we’ll be sinless. And from then on, we will each be who God intends for us to be.