VIDEO Prayerful Inner-Searching

May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless… —1 Thessalonians 5:23

“Your whole spirit….” The great, mysterious work of the Holy Spirit is in the deep recesses of our being which we cannot reach. Read Psalm 139. The psalmist implies— “O Lord, You are the God of the early mornings, the God of the late nights, the God of the mountain peaks, and the God of the sea. But, my God, my soul has horizons further away than those of early mornings, deeper darkness than the nights of earth, higher peaks than any mountain peaks, greater depths than any sea in nature. You who are the God of all these, be my God. I cannot reach to the heights or to the depths; there are motives I cannot discover, dreams I cannot realize. My God, search me.”

Do we believe that God can fortify and protect our thought processes far beyond where we can go? “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). If this verse means cleansing only on our conscious level, may God have mercy on us. The man who has been dulled by sin will say that he is not even conscious of it. But the cleansing from sin we experience will reach to the heights and depths of our spirit if we will “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7). The same Spirit that fed the life of Jesus Christ will feed the life of our spirit. It is only when we are protected by God with the miraculous sacredness of the Holy Spirit that our spirit, soul, and body can be preserved in pure uprightness until the coming of Jesus-no longer condemned in God’s sight.

We should more frequently allow our minds to meditate on these great, massive truths of God.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

When we no longer seek God for His blessings, we have time to seek Him for Himself.  The Moral Foundations of Life, 728 L

Washed

You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 6:11

My friend Bill described Gerard, an acquaintance of his, as being “very far from God for a very long time.” But one day, after Bill met with Gerard and explained to him how God’s love has provided the way for us to be saved, Gerard became a believer in Jesus. Through tears, he repented of his sin and gave his life to Christ. Afterward, Bill asked Gerard how he felt. Wiping away tears, he answered simply, “Washed.”

What an amazing response! That’s precisely the essence of salvation made possible through faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross. In 1 Corinthians 6, after Paul gives examples of how disobedience against God leads to separation from Him, he says, “That is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 11). “Washed,” “sanctified,” “justified”—words that point to believers being forgiven and made right with Him.

Titus 3:4–5 tells us more about this miraculous thing called salvation. “God our Savior . . . saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth.” Our sin keeps us from God, but through faith in Jesus, sin’s penalty is washed away. We become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), gain access to our heavenly Father (Ephesians 2:18), and are made clean (1 John 1:7). He alone provides what we need to be washed.

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

Why is it vital for you to be washed and sanctified by Jesus? What has it meant or what will it mean for you to put your faith in Him?

Dear Jesus, I know I’ve sinned against You. And I realize that the penalty for my sin is separation from You. Thank You for the salvation You’ve made possible and for drawing me close to You forever.

Sunday Reflection: Decisions, Decisions

When facing any sort of decision, we should follow and trust the solid principles of Scripture

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

What do you do when you’re facing a decision? Do you approach it logically or simply go with what feels right in the moment? Many of us do the latter and “go with our gut.” This approach isn’t necessarily wrong, but you must be sure your gut is informed by the right principles and teachings—all of which can be found in the Scriptures. Every page of the Bible is filled with principles by which the Lord wants us to live (Psalm 119:105).

James says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). This year, make time to prayerfully study God’s Word and listen to what the Holy Spirit is teaching you through it. Then, when the time comes to decide, you will know the best course of action—from the top of your mind all the way down to your gut.

Think about it

• Are you making time to study Scripture daily? If not, begin with something manageable—perhaps five to 10 minutes a day—and go from there. Put Bible reading on the calendar, and integrate it into your routine.

Forgotten by God?

“How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:1-2)

David expresses deep anguish in these two verses. The question “How long” is repeated with ever-increasing intensity. In poetry this is called an anaphora. David begins by asking Yahweh, “How long wilt thou forget me…for ever?”

If being eternally forgotten isn’t disconcerting enough, the second question expresses despair in an unplumbed way—the hiding of Yahweh’s face with the feeling of intimacy’s loss. God’s servant now argues from the internal, unveiling the deep wounding effects in his inner soul as his enemy gloats over his proverbial dead body.

In verse 3 David demands (in the Hebrew imperative) that Yahweh consider, hear, and lighten his eyes. The psalm that began in a hopeless cry now takes a dramatic 180° turn, viewing life through the divine lens of God’s sovereignty. Verse 5 states, “But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.” What changed? Absolutely nothing—except for David’s view of sovereign Yahweh.

Did God ever look away from David? No. If you are in Christ, does God ever ignore His children? Absolutely not! This psalm gives us permission to cry out to Yahweh, venting all our frustrations and petitions to Him. Besides this, our Lord teaches us to cling tightly to the promises spelled out in His precious Word, namely His amazing attributes of forgiveness and steadfast love.

Furthermore, all of God’s paths, even the troubled ones described in this psalm, are steadfast love to those who are protected under the precious wings of our Lord Jesus Christ. CM

Kyrie, “Lord, Have Mercy!”

Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger; do not discipline me in Your wrath. Be gracious to me, Lord, for I am weak; heal me, Lord, for my bones are shaking; my whole being is shaken with terror. And You, Lord—how long? The Lord has heard my plea for help; the Lord accepts my prayer (Psalm 6 vv. 1-3, 9).

The painful, heart-wrenching discipline of the Lord caused David to cry out for mercy. But the Heavenly Father, an example to all fathers, had to discipline his son. Hebrews 12:5-6, the classic New Testament commentary on discipline, says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and punishes everyone he accepts as a son” (NIV).

Deeply troubled and alarmed, David almost lost heart. His conscience was uneasy, and he was exhausted and depressed. Even his prayer had died away. He could only weep.

Unlike David, I sometimes deny such feelings or at least compound my problems with rationalization. I find it hard to be vulnerable enough to face my predicament, to come to grips with my life, and to share my hurt and pain with brothers or sisters in Christ who are close to me.

David faced squarely the reality of his messed-up life. He cried out to his Heavenly Father for mercy and discovered that his walk with the Lord must begin with reality. He moved from petition to praise and found answered prayer. Then he wrote this moving psalm for those of us who have a hard time admitting, much less expressing, the deep hurt and pain of our lives. When we do as David did, God goes to work for our lives, giving us authentic reasons to praise him.

Personal Prayer

Lord, make the tough things in my life a black velvet backdrop against which you showcase the diamond of your grace.

The Language of Music

Kyrie

A Greek term for O Lord.” The complete phrase is Kyrie eleison, “Lord, have mercy.” David said, “I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great” (1 Chron. 21:13 NIV).

Your Kingdom Come”

But seek first the kingdom of God … and all these things will be provided for you.—Matthew 6:33

Let us examine the fourth phrase in the Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come.” Jesus, after making clear that the first consideration in prayer is to focus on God’s character, puts as the next issue the establishing of God’s kingdom. Any pattern of praying that does not make the kingdom a priority is not Christian praying. Our text today tells us: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” If you seek something else first, then your life will be off balance.

A newspaper report tells of a small town in Alaska where all the electric clocks were showing the wrong time. The fault, it appears, was in the local power plant. It failed to run with systematic regularity, and thus all the electric clocks were “out.” When your primary concern is for something other than the kingdom of God, then everything in your life will be “out,” too. One of the sad things about church history is that the church has never really been gripped by the vision of the kingdom of God. There are notable exceptions, of course, but by and large the church has missed its way in this matter. One theologian points out that when the church drew up its creeds—the Apostles’, the Athanasian, the Nicene—it mentioned the kingdom once in all three of them, and then only marginally. The church will never move into the dimension God has planned for it until it puts the kingdom where Jesus put it in this prayer—in a place of primary consideration and primary allegiance.

Prayer

Gracious Father, I begin to see that there is something here that demands my thought and attention, and I don’t want to miss it. Prepare me in mind and spirit for what You want to teach me in the days ahead. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Lk 9:51-62; Mt 5:3; Jn 3:3; Jms 2:5

What did Jesus teach about the kingdom?

What did Jesus say to His would-be followers?

The Pragmatism of Holy Living

Hebrews 12:10

It was Evelyn Underhill, writing in the 1930s, but with lasting relevance, who said, “There is nothing high-minded about Christian holiness. It is most at home in the slum, the street, the hospital ward.”

Holiness is for every day, hour by hour. It is for the workplace and the shopping center. It is for our dealings with all manner of people.

Most of all, and often most testingly of all, it is for our home life. None can overestimate the value to God’s kingdom of a holy life lived out among one’s relatives, especially when those relatives are unsaved and perhaps even skeptical about the gospel. There is no effective argument against the silent eloquence of holiness.

So many folk have a sadly mistaken notion of what holiness involves. They seem to think it’s about pious conversation in serious voices. Far from it! Laughter abounds and a sense of humor is essential. A natural, healthy interest in the opposite sex is only to be expected, but lust is out and so too are all forms of sexual impurity. Holiness sharpens your mind and your opinions. You can speak your mind, but strife, self-indulgent anger or deliberately cutting words must go. Irritability as a mark of personality cannot coexist with the fruits of the Spirit, but natural tension and stress through tiredness are not sins.

The believer who has set out for holiness still needs to eat, but is no glutton. He needs to sleep, but is not addicted to indolence. He needs to earn and spend, but is not in love with money. He will dress appropriately, but undue pride in personal appearance or lack of modesty will have no place.

Holiness is not an exemption from temptation. It is not moral perfection or infallibility. Mistakes will still abound. Holiness does not make a man or woman all-seeing or all-knowing. Hence the believer needs to recognize that the holy life can still encompass error, and that our errors can still hurt others. In the holy life, “I am sorry, please forgive me” will be words readily upon the lips and frequently spoken.

The essence of holiness is that deliberately choosing to sin has stopped by the rich grace of God. Bramwell Tripp summed up the possibility of pragmatic holiness in three sentences:

To say “I must sin” is to deny my Savior.

To say “I cannot sin” is to deceive myself.

To say “I need not sin” is to declare my faith in divine power!

Shaw Clifton, Never the Same Again