VIDEO Impossible Mixtures – The World, the Flesh, and the Devil

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:7-8

In the ancient world, you would never see an ox and a donkey yoked together, pulling a plow. That stipulation is found in the Old Testament along with others about mixing unlike things together (Deuteronomy 22:9-11). These stipulations reflected a principle for the Israelites: Don’t be yoked together with unbelievers in Canaan. That principle made its way into the New Testament in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

But it also reflects an even more impossible mixture: the Holy Spirit and the carnal nature of man (the flesh). When we are saved, we are delivered from the power of the carnal, sinful flesh in our life; set free to live life powered by the Spirit of God. The flesh and the Spirit are like oil and water—they simply cannot be mixed. For a Christian to manifest the nature of the flesh is a signal that something is wrong.

Life in the flesh can never be pleasing to God. It is what Christ died to deliver us from! To please God, live a life yielded to the power and guidance of the Spirit.

The flesh is radically and wholly evil. A. W. Pink


Voddie Baucham: The World, the Flesh, and the Devil

Finding Joy in the Meaningless

When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 2:11

In 2010, James Ward, the creator of the blog “I Like Boring Things,” launched a conference called the “Boring Conference.” It’s a one-day celebration of the mundane, the ordinary, and the overlooked. In the past, speakers have addressed seemingly meaningless topics like sneezing, sounds that vending machines make, and inkjet printers of 1999. Ward knows the topics may be boring, but the speakers can take a mundane subject and make it interesting, meaningful, and even joyful.

Several millennia ago, Solomon, the wisest of kings, launched his own search for joy in the meaningless and mundane. He pursued work, bought flocks, built wealth, acquired singers, and constructed buildings (Ecclesiastes 2:4–9). Some of these pursuits were honorable and some were not. Ultimately, in his pursuit of meaning, the king found nothing but boredom (v. 11). Solomon maintained a worldview that didn’t press beyond the limits of human experience to include God. Ultimately, however, he realized that he’d find joy in the mundane only when he remembered and worshiped God (12:1–7).

When we find ourselves in the whirlwind of tedium, let’s launch our own daily mini-conference, as we “remember [our] Creator” (v. 1)—the God who fills the mundane with meaning. As we remember and worship Him, we’ll find wonder in the ordinary, gratitude in the mundane, and joy in the seemingly meaningless things of life.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

Why is it so hard to find meaning in things that can never satisfy? How do you need to reprioritize your commitment to and worship of God so you can find your meaning in Him?

God, take the unremarkable moments of my life and infuse them with Your joy and wonder.

The Key to Good Things in Life

The best parts of life are attainable only by pursuing the Lord—and the benefits are eternal.

Psalm 84:8-12

The title of today’s devotion sounds like a self-help book that promises fame, wealth, and prestige if you’ll follow 10 easy steps. But God defines life’s good things quite differently, and they’re achieved only by seeking Him. When we make the Lord our top priority, He gives truly good things, such as … 

  • Intimacy with Him. Those who earnestly seek God and walk uprightly learn to know and love Him deeply. He’s no longer a distant deity but a loving heavenly Father who cares for them. 
  • Satisfaction. The empty place in every heart can be filled only by the Lord. All earthly pursuits of pleasure or purpose fade in comparison to the fulfillment He gives. 

Joy. When seeking the Lord is your highest priority, you will have His joy in every circumstance. Suffering and difficulties won’t feel as devastating because you’ll trust Him and see the situation from a biblical perspective. 

Divine help. We’re invited to come boldly to God in prayer to receive grace and help in time of need (Heb. 4:16). 

The things of the world are only temporary, but God’s benefits are eternal. Are you seeking heavenly treasure, or have worldly values sidetracked you?

Greetings

Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness. (Titus 1:1)

In New Testament times it was common to begin one’s letter to a friend with a salutation such as this, which usually identified the writer and the reader and then gave personal greetings.

Contrary to his normal practice, Paul spends the first three verses of this four-verse greeting speaking about himself, but he places the emphasis not on his own authority, but on the nature of the message which he has been given.

First, in designating his position as writer, Paul refers to himself as a “servant” (literally, “slave”) of God. His will had been voluntarily surrendered to do his Master’s will. Next, he identifies himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ,” commissioned by Him to represent Him and His revelation. He then defines his apostleship as being in agreement with the message to which the elect have responded, and the “acknowledging [literally, ‘advanced knowledge’] of the truth which is after godliness.”

Next, Paul claims that his message is not a new doctrine, but has its past, present, and future aspects. It was “promised before the world began” (v. 2) by God, who has in the present been proclaiming “his word through preaching” (v. 3). Furthermore, his apostolic calling is “in [literally, ‘resting on’] hope of eternal life” (v. 2).

Paul then claims the message as his own, “committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Savior” (v. 3).

In a very real sense, this same message is now committed to us. Our knowledge of the truth and need for faith are at least as great; our call to submission and godliness equally serious. May God grant us the same level of commitment to the gospel and its propagation as that of Paul. JDM

Reward Of Children Sent From God

Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, children, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons horn in one’s youth. Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with them. Such men will never be put to shame when they speak with [their] enemies at the city gate (Psalm 127 vv. 3-5).

Many young couples in our society seem to be content to remain childless. Their two-paycheck incomes buy a lot of convenience and a lot of “stuff.” But few of them realize how children can enrich life by forcing us outside our self-centered routines. Few of them understand that children stretch our horizons and prompt us to higher goals. Few of them ever consider how lonely they’ll be in old age. And almost nobody ever mentions the importance of bringing up godly children to build a dynamic Christian community that can impact our culture and civilization!

Part of the current erosion of the family is simply that children are undervalued. They often are viewed as excess baggage, an inconvenience. They seem to get in the way of career aspirations and create pressure on the woman, robbing her of youth and beauty and sapping her energy. They are considered, by some, as more of a liability than an asset.

How different from the Oriental point of view! Children were seen as “a heritage from the Lord” (v. 3), a reward, and tokens of his grace. Furthermore, the possibility of becoming the mother of the Messiah was the coveted goal of young Hebrew women.

To the Hebrew man, adult children were regarded as a means of defense— “arrows in the hands of a warrior” (v. 4) and support— “when they speak contend with [their] enemies at the city gate” (v. 5), Cases were tried and business was transacted at the gates of the city, and if a man were to encounter difficulty, he could count on his grown sons to lend strength to his argument.

Those who were childless or who had lost a child expressed their grief openly (Gen. 30:1; 1 Sam. 1:3-17). Infertile couples now have some medical options to improve the chances of pregnancy, or, failing that, they might consider adoption. Still, God sets aside special people who will neither get married nor have children because of their unique calling. God has not placed us on an assembly line. He loves to handcraft Rolls Royces!

Personal Prayer

Dear Lord, I thank you for D.J. and Kathleen and for the love and support they give me.

We See Jesus

We do not yet see everything subjected to him. But we do see Jesus.—Hebrews 2:8-9

Are you troubled as you look out at the situation in the world? Well, according to the Bible, things are going to get worse. As Jesus said: “People will faint from fear and expectation of the things that are coming on the world” (Lk 21:26). How are Christians going to stand when the darkness deepens and things get very much worse? What will we do when international tension increases?

Christians have a glorious hope—the hope of salvation. It is this, and this alone, that enables believers to live out their lives free from mental distress. I am sure you have already discovered that after reading the morning newspaper, you move into the day feeling somewhat depressed. Why is this? It is because almost daily, our newspapers are filled with murder, rape, violence, economic distress, child abuse. And our conscience, which through conversion has been sensitized to the moral laws of God, begins to reverberate as it comes up against the reports of things we know are contrary to the divine principles.

Satan, seeing our concern, attempts to exploit it to his own ends. “Things are getting worse, aren’t they?” he says. “Why don’t you just admit that God has lost control of His world?” If we did not have the helmet of salvation to put on at such a moment, we would finish up with the same attitude as H. G. Wells, who, after the Second World War, wrote: “The spectacle of evil in the world has come near to breaking my spirit.” Again I say, there is no protection in the world for the mind.

Prayer

My Father and my God, where would I be if I could not cling to a text such as that in my reading for today? My spirit, too, would be near to breaking. I am so thankful that in You there is hope—hope with a capital H.

Further Study

Jn 17; Rm 8:35-37; 1Jn 5:4

What did Jesus pray for His disciples?

What was Paul’s conviction?

The Trouble with Time

Ephesians 5:15-16

When I get to heaven, there’s a thing or two I intend to ask St. Peter. Heading that list will be the question of time. I want to know what happened to it. When I was a child, the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas lasted longer than eternity. Today, I’m panicky if my Christmas shopping is not complete by October.

Time-saving devices now surround me. I can prepare a meal in minutes with my microwave oven. Dirty dishes get popped into the dishwasher. My giant-size washer and dryer make laundry a breeze. But a Murphy-like law of inversion is at work: the more time-savers I own, the less time I have.

Reluctantly, I am forced to admit that age might have something to do with the problem. Time no longer stretches endlessly in front of me as it did the summer I was nine. I’ve come to terms with my own mortality.

It’s clear now that if I live to be a hundred, I will not finish everything on my “to do” list. I can no longer put off determining what matters most. Some things must be tossed out and the time has arrived to give up some of the dreams of earlier days.

What priorities remain? First, I plan to revel in the beauty God has lavished on us. As for music, I embrace everything from Salvation Army marches to hymns and those I sing along with in my car. My husband has expanded my musical appreciation to include the symphony orchestra, opera, even piano duet arrangements of Mozart. I hope to explore the riches of music until I join the alto section of the heavenly choir.

Then there’s writing. I’ve gotten a late start, so I may have to seek immortalization somewhere else. No matter. Writing about people and subjects close to my heart brings me intense satisfaction.

Above all, relationships matter most—relationships with family, friends, colleagues, neighbors. I want to seize this day to tell people I love them.

I won’t be satisfied relating to God in a superficial way, either. As far back as I can remember, His loving presence has been as real as my mother’s goodnight kiss. At age 17, I made a personal commitment to follow Him. Now, just as I relish sitting down with a friend over tea, I look forward to frequent visits with Him. After all, we’re going to be together for a long, long time!

Dorothy Post, The War Cry