you are that one’s slaves whom you obey… —Romans 6:16
The first thing I must be willing to admit when I begin to examine what controls and dominates me is that I am the one responsible for having yielded myself to whatever it may be. If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame because somewhere in the past I yielded to myself. Likewise, if I obey God I do so because at some point in my life I yielded myself to Him.
If a child gives in to selfishness, he will find it to be the most enslaving tyranny on earth. There is no power within the human soul itself that is capable of breaking the bondage of the nature created by yielding. For example, yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust, and although you may hate yourself for having yielded, you become enslaved to that thing. (Remember what lust is— “I must have it now,” whether it is the lust of the flesh or the lust of the mind.) No release or escape from it will ever come from any human power, but only through the power of redemption. You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One who can break the dominating power in your life, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. “…He has anointed Me…to proclaim liberty to the captives…” (Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1).
When you yield to something, you will soon realize the tremendous control it has over you. Even though you say, “Oh, I can give up that habit whenever I like,” you will know you can’t. You will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you willingly yielded to it. It is easy to sing, “He will break every fetter,” while at the same time living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. But yielding to Jesus will break every kind of slavery in any person’s life.
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
It is perilously possible to make our conceptions of God like molten lead poured into a specially designed mould, and when it is cold and hard we fling it at the heads of the religious people who don’t agree with us. Disciples Indeed, 388 R
[Jesus] said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:40
In a TV commercial I saw recently, a woman casually asks someone in a group watching TV, “What are you searching for, Mark?” “A version of myself that doesn’t make decisions based on fear,” he responds soberly—not realizing that she was just asking what he liked to watch on TV!
Whoa, I thought. I wasn’t expecting a TV commercial to hit me so profoundly! But I related to poor Mark: I too feel embarrassed by the way fear sometimes seems to direct my life.
Jesus’ disciples also experienced the profound power of fear. Once, as they headed across the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35), “a furious squall came up” (v. 37). Terror gripped them, and they suggested that Jesus (who’d been sleeping!) might not care about them: “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (v. 38).
Fear distorted the disciples’ vision, blinding them to Jesus’ good intentions for them. After He rebuked the wind and waves (v. 39), Christ confronted the disciples with two penetrating questions: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (v. 40).
Storms rage in our lives as well, don’t they? But Jesus’ questions can help us put our fears in perspective. His first question invites us to name our fears. The second invites us to entrust those distorted feelings to Him—asking Him for eyes to see how He guides us even through life’s most raging storms.
By: Adam R. Holz
Reflect & Pray
What storms are you facing right now? How can you entrust your fears and emotions to Jesus when the winds blow and the waters rise?
Loving Savior, thank You that You’re always present in the storm. As I move through life’s scary moments, help me each day to talk to You and entrust You with my fears.
To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.
When the Lord overturned tables in the temple court (Matt. 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18), He drove out moneychangers along with people buying and selling goods. By all accounts, this was a passionate demonstration. Jesus purposefully expressed His convictions and took action. Remembering this is helpful as we think about attachment and detachment—it highlights that being passionate about something can be totally different from a passion that draws us away from God.
Imagine how often Jesus passed those tables and chose to do nothing until it was the right time to act. But pausing didn’t mean He was indifferent. His decision to act when He did—not sooner or later—came out of His obedience to the Father and from His love and concern for the world. Freedom results from confronting and relinquishing unhealthy attachments. But we also should be motivated by love and consideration for the world, without getting caught up in it.
Think about it • Do you relate to the way Jesus took action in the temple courts? Why or why not?
• When you see an unhealthy attachment in your life, do you tend to respond rashly or to consider the situation prayerfully?
“Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.” (Philippians 1:7)
Writing from prison in Rome some 10 years after he helped found the church in Philippi, Paul still felt such a bond with those believers that he insisted they “partake” with him in his “defence and confirmation” of the gospel ministry.
The key words here are “defense” (Greek apologia) and “confirmation” (Greek bebaiosis). Both words are not common in the New Testament text. Together, they describe a mission attitude that should anchor our approach to ministry.
Apologia, in its various forms, is most often translated “answer.” Peter used this term in a passage that urged Christians to be “ready always to give an answer [as in, an answer that is logically sufficient] to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Paul used apologia twice to the Philippian church; both times stressed the “defence of the gospel” (Philippians 1:17).
Bebaiosis and its associated terms convey the meaning of firmness or having been established. Paul encouraged the Colossian church to be “rooted and built up in [Christ], and stablished in the faith” (Colossians 2:7). Peter tells us to “make [our] calling and election sure [same word, bebaiosis]” (2 Peter 1:10).
Thus, our witness and declaration of “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16) must be “with logic” (apologia) to defend the precious truth and with an eye to “establish” (bebaiosis) that truth in the mind and heart of those newly converted. The gospel tells who Christ is (the Creator, the incarnate Word, and coming King) as well as what He did on Calvary. HMM III
O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. —Psalm 95:6-7
Cattle are driven; sheep are led; and our Lord compares His people to sheep, not to cattle.
It is especially important that Christian ministers know the law of the leader—that he can lead others only as far as he himself has gone….
The minister must experience what he would teach or he will find himself in the impossible position of trying to drive sheep. For this reason he should seek to cultivate his own heart before he attempts to preach to the hearts of others….
If he tries to bring them into a heart knowledge of truth which he has not actually experienced he will surely fail. In his frustration he may attempt to drive them; and scarcely anything is so disheartening as the sight of a vexed and confused shepherd using the lash on his bewildered flock in a vain attempt to persuade them to go on beyond the point to which he himself has attained….
The law of the leader tells us who are preachers that it is better to cultivate our souls than our voices…. We cannot take our people beyond where we ourselves have been, and it thus becomes vitally important that we be men of God in the last and highest sense of that term. PON151-153
Lord help me to listen to You and be spiritually nurtured, to have my soul cultivated by You in silence and solitude. Amen.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. —Acts 2:1
Pentecost did not come and go—Pentecost came and stayed. Chronologically the day may be found on the historic calendar; dynamically it remains with us in all its fullness of power.
Today is the day of Pentecost. With the blessed Holy Spirit there is no Yesterday or Tomorrow—there is only the everlasting Now. And since He is altogether God, enjoying all the attributes of the Godhead, there is with Him no Elsewhere; He inhabits an eternal Here. His center is Everywhere; His bound is Nowhere. It is impossible to leave His presence, though it is possible to have Him withdraw the manifestation of that presence.
Our insensibility to the presence of the Spirit is one of the greatest losses that our unbelief and preoccupation have cost us. We have made Him a tenet of our creed, we have enclosed Him in a religious word, but we have known Him little in personal experience. TWP091
When the Holy Spirit comes into our [lives] He does something. He accomplishes something. He is more than a sentiment, a feeling a fancy. He is an infinite force that…enables us to accomplish all for which we were called as the disciples of
Alida Bosshardt, of the Netherlands, is a legend in her lifetime. For many years she worked as a Salvation Army officer in the Red Light district of Amsterdam, the confidant of prostitutes and the means of helping many to find a different way of life. Even members of the Dutch royal family have been among her friends.
One day she was approached by a prominent Christian lady who wanted to go into the homes of poor people and also some of the bars and brothels regularly visited by Alida to see for herself what life was really like both for the poor and the “ladies of the night.” There was some reluctance about the proposal on the part of Alida because the area of Amsterdam to which they would have to go could be dangerous. She consulted her colleagues in The Salvation Army and the idea was finally agreed upon.
The day came when the lady climbed the stairs to Alida’s flat where the two had a cup of tea and then shared a reading from the Bible and a time of prayer. Because the lady’s face was well-known, it was decided that she would go in disguise. The two set off, arm in arm.
They visited some poor homes and then they made for the pubs and brothels. The lady was amazed that Bosshardt got in without difficulty and prostitutes and others greeted her so warmly.
All was going well until in one bar photographer Peter Zonneveld recognized the lady with Alida and was able to take a quick picture before the two managed to escape by a side door. They jumped into a taxi and at one-thirty in the morning Bosshardt and her companion arrived back at their starting point. Back in Alida’s room it was time for coffee again. Then at four in the morning the lady rang for a car to take her back home after what she described as the most fascinating experience of her life.
The next day De Telegraaf, one of Holland’s most popular morning papers, carried a large photograph on its front page of Alida in the Red Light area of Amsterdam. But it was not the picture of the Salvation Army officer at work that gave Peter Zonneveld the scoop of his career. It was the lady next to her, snapped in the act of distributing copies of The War Cry, for she was none other than Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Beatrix, heir to the throne of the Netherlands and now that country’s queen!
“Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find. So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests” (Matt. 22:9-10).