VIDEO Spiritual Getaways: Day of Defining Spiritual Goals

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

It is often said that the best way to know the future is to write it yourself. Said another way, the best way to know what you should do is to do what you would do. It’s impossible to change the direction of an anchored ship, but easy to change its direction once it’s moving.

Is goal setting biblical? Or should we just wait to see what the Lord has in store for us? Solomon devoted a string of nine proverbs to the subject of goals (Proverbs 16:1-9). And his words there are consistent with his words in Proverbs 3:5-6. Make your plans and goals, but submit them to God’s guidance, trusting Him to direct your steps. Our task is to discern, through Scripture, prayer, and counsel, what God wants us to do—and then step out in faith that He will guide us. That is also the theme of the parable in James 4:13-17.

Where do you start? Plan a spiritual getaway to pray about your goals and plans. Write them down; lay them before God; and commit yourself to following where He leads.

God’s overriding goal is to glorify Himself.  J. I. Packer


Discerning the Will of God, Proverbs 3:5-6 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

Better with God

Wisdom and power are his. Daniel 2:20

On her college volleyball team, my granddaughter learned a winning principle. When the ball came her way, no matter what, she could “better the ball.” She could make a play that left her teammates in a better situation—without throwing tantrums, blaming, or making excuses. Always make the situation better.

That was Daniel’s response when he and three Hebrew friends were taken into captivity by Babylon’s king Nebuchadnezzar. Although they were given pagan names and ordered to take three years of “training” in the enemy’s palace, Daniel didn’t rage. Instead, he asked permission not to defile himself in God’s sight by eating the king’s rich food and wine. As this intriguing Bible story shows, after consuming nothing but vegetables and water for ten days (Daniel 1:12), Daniel and his friends “looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” (v. 15).

Another time, Nebuchadnezzar threatened to kill Daniel and all palace wise men if they couldn’t repeat the king’s disturbing dream and interpret it. Again, Daniel didn’t panic, but sought mercy “from the God of heaven,” and the mystery was revealed to him in a vision (2:19). As Daniel declared of God, “wisdom and power are his” (v. 20). Throughout his captivity, Daniel sought God’s best despite the conflicts he faced. In our own troubles, may we follow that example, making the situation better by taking it to God.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What battles are you facing now? As you turn from those troubles and seek God, how does He make your journey better?

Loving God, life’s challenges feel overwhelming today. As I turn to You, inspire me to shed my despair to journey better with You.

Cleansing the Temple

Matthew 21:12-17

On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered the Court of Gentiles (the only area that non-Jews could enter) and pushed through the hordes of customers haggling with merchants over livestock and doves used for sacrifices. Other pilgrims crowded around money changers’ tables, protesting unfair rates of exchange for the temple currency. The temple had become an open-air market.

The Lord had seen enough, so He stormed through the court, upending tables and overturning traders’ chairs. Picture Him driving animals toward the gate, past a throng of people scrambling for scattered money, and finally blocking the way so merchandise couldn’t be carried through the temple (Mark 11:16).

The people must have been astounded. They expected the Messiah to judge their oppressors, not His own people and their temple. Then Jesus reminded them of a scripture they’d apparently forgotten. “Is it not written,” He said, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers’” (Mark 11:17).

Jesus’ actions showed that no one should impede or interfere with those God calls to be saved. This week, consider people you know who need the eternal life Jesus promises. How can you help clear the way for them to worship?

He Really Knows

“I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.” (Revelation 2:19)

Seven times in the letters to His seven representative churches in Revelation 2 and 3, the Lord Jesus says: “I know thy works” (Revelation 2:2, 9, 13, 19; 3:1, 8, 15). Whatever we are doing—or not doing—He knows!

Sometimes such knowledge can bring—or at least should bring—great consternation. He knows, for example, all our hypocrisies: “I know…that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Revelation 3:1). He also knows when our outward display of religious activity masks a real heart-attitude of compromising self-interest. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot” (Revelation 3:15).

Yet, He also knows when our service is genuine and our testimony is God-glorifying and faithful. “I know…thy labour, and thy patience….I know…thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith” (Revelation 2:2, 13).

Of these seven testimonies of His knowledge, the central one is in our text. He knows when we really love Him, for the “charity” mentioned is nothing less than agape, or unselfish love. He knows all about our sincere “service” and true “faith” in His Word, as well as our “patience” of hope.

Perhaps the most precious of His assurances, however, is that to the suffering church at Smyrna. “I know thy…tribulation, and poverty” (Revelation 2:9). When He says that He knows, the sense is that He understands, because He has been through it all Himself. Therefore, “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). HMM

Why the Genealogies?

Matthew 1:16

THE long lists of our Lord’s ancestry given in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38 have puzzled the devout not a little. They are not identical, and the ordinary reader wades through the formidable genealogical lists perhaps to no great edification.

But there is a definite purpose and value to every portion of the God-breathed Scriptures. Matthew, writing to Jews, traces our Lord on His human side back to Abraham. Luke, writing to Gentiles, goes back to Adam. Matthew traces the line through David to our Lord’s legal father, Joseph. Notice the changed expression in 1:16: “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” Matthew, representing Christ the King, gives His kingly descent.

Much difficulty attends the fact that Jacob is given as Josephs father in Matthew while Luke says “Joseph which was of Heli” (3:23). It is believed that in Luke we have the ancestry of Mary whose father was Heli, therefore Joseph as son-in-law is called “son.”

Whatever the explanation of that, the lists afford us spiritual meat. Our Lord is the heir by descent to the throne of David, which throne He will yet occupy when He reigns on earth over a redeemed Israel.

All classes occur in this line, good and bad, rich and poor. Our Lord is the representative of collective humanity. All of us may find our types in this line of descent. He was identified in His ancestry with all sorts. Three women who were guilty of gross sins are found here: Rahab, Tamar and Bathsheba. On our side, the Lord Jesus inherited all the common tendencies of humanity so that He might be tempted in all points like as we. Yet He was without sin.

On the human side He comes through all this checkered ancestry truly representative of the race, Jew and Gentile blood in His veins. On the divine side He comes from God, the express image of God, the Word, Emmanuel. These are joined in the supreme miracle of all time, Jesus Christ the God-man. So, legally through Joseph and actually through Mary, our Lord is linked with David and Abraham in the Gospel to the Jews and with Adam in the Gospel to the Gentiles. And both writers are careful to declare His virgin birth. Matthew with his “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” and Luke with “Jesus… being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph.”

Familiarity with the story has dulled us to the wonder and mystery of this marvel of all time, God becoming man. How carefully the stage is set: the Roman, Jewish and Greek worlds converging on this focal point, each with its own contribution! And God maintained through the centuries the line of descent until in the fullness of time He would send forth His Son born of a woman. No page of His record is dull when seen in the light of His wonderful purpose!

The Hurt of Rejection

The younger [son] said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.” So he distributed the assets to them … The younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country.—Luke 15:12-13

One of the greatest, most encouraging ministries of the Holy Spirit within our lives is that of a Comforter.

During my ministry, I have observed that there are five main hurts which people experience in life. The first is the hurt of rejection. Can the Holy Spirit comfort us when we feel rejected? He most certainly can. Sooner or later in this mixed-up world, everyone feels rejected. Indeed, some go through so much rejection, they cease to expect anything else.

Rejection often happens in childhood: the child may have been unwanted by his parents, or may have been the wrong sex, or for some reason doesn’t please her parents. These feelings of rejection are recorded in our system on a kind of tape recorder, and later in life, whenever we feel rejected, we not only experience the present rejection, but in some strange way it triggers the “tape recorder” inside us, and we play back all the feelings of rejection we felt in earlier years.

Past feelings of rejection that have never been healed may put a weight on the personality that is too heavy for it to bear, and this is why, as we say, a person breaks down. People rarely break down because of one event; it is usually the one event that becomes the last straw.

Have you deep feelings of rejection within you that you are carrying from the past? Or have you been rejected in recent days or weeks? Then draw near to God. The Spirit is with you to heal your hurts—right now.

Prayer

Gracious Holy Spirit, I am so thankful that You come alongside to help in my hour of need. I offer You every feeling of rejection and hurt that lies within my heart. Heal me now in Jesus’ name. Thank You, Father. It’s done. Amen.

Further Study

Lk 15:11-32; Eph 1:6; 2Co 5:9; Ac 10:35

What is the message of the parable?

What three things did the younger son receive to verify this?

A Prayer of Turning

Isaiah 52:7

Father of mercies, God of peace, You have sent me, as my Lord was sent, into a world sick with hate. He proclaimed peace. He put hostility to death through the cross. I too would dare to be a peacemaker. Forgive me of my indifference.

The subtle savagery of racism is consuming my brothers and sisters. I have been silent at their suffering, the inequities, the humiliations, the murder of their children’s dreams.

You have ever stood by me, but I have not stood by them. I have not fought against their exclusion and exploitation. I have not struggled to my own hurt. Nor have I embraced the underclass of strangers: the mentally infirm, the disabled, the AIDS afflicted, the incarcerated, those I tend to distrust, to disdain or ignore.

Father of mercies, faltering and weak my labor has been. Have mercy.

Jesus, Son of God, Savior, You came into our neighborhood to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken, to proclaim liberty and favor with God. I too would be a mender of broken things. By your wounds we are healed, and by them we heal.

Jesus, You know the torment of the sinned-against. The refugees of our cursed wards, the famished, the maimed, the dispossessed, the 25,000 who die daily for want of clean drinking water, the one hundred million street children. You keep company with the defenseless among the poorest, the lowliest and the lost.

And I? Faltering and weak my labor has been. Jesus, forgive.

Holy Spirit, Pursuer of the prodigal, insistent Friend, I too would be a winner of souls. Blow into a flame the gift of God within me.

Missionary Spirit, faltering and weak my labors have been. Forgive.

Fit me for soldiership in an Army fully alive in Christ, pure in heart, united in purpose, aflame with a passion for God and souls, ready to take a stand for truth and justice, empowered by the Spirit.

Lyell M. Rader, Jr., The War Cry