The first man, Adam, was not a slave, for God called him to intelligent partnership. When God wanted the animals to be named, He said, “Adam, come here and look at these animals. Tell Me what you think they should be named.” In Hebrew, a name is always indicative of one’s nature. So, in naming the animals, Adam had to understand their natures and their relationships to one another. Whatever Adam called an animal, that was its name. God did not name the animals; He told Adam to do that. But God gave Adam the insight and the wisdom that he needed to complete the assignment. Likewise, in our new relationship with God in Jesus Christ, we are not slaves; rather, we are intelligent partners with God.
John 15:15 is an astonishing statement:
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (NIV)
Jesus held nothing back. If there is something we do not know, it is because we have not availed ourselves of what is revealed. But the real problem comes in doing what we already know. Jesus acted on everything the Father showed Him; if we would do the same, the same revelation would be made available to us.
Thank You, Jesus, that You have redeemed me. I proclaim that I want to avail myself of all that the Lord reveals, and to follow through on what I already know. I proclaim that I am a friend of Christ. Amen.
Lord, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.Psalm 143:11
“I had a dark moment.” Those five words capture the internal agony of a popular female celebrity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Adjusting to a new normal was part of her challenge, and in her turmoil, she acknowledged that she wrestled with thoughts of suicide. Pulling out of the downward spiral included sharing her struggle with a friend who cared.
We’re all susceptible to tumultuous hours, days, and seasons. Valleys and hard places aren’t foreign but getting out of such places can be challenging. And seeking the assistance of mental health professionals is sometimes needed.
In Psalm 143, we hear and are instructed by David’s prayer during one of the dark times of his life. The exact situation is unknown, but his prayers to God are honest and hope-filled. “The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead. So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed” (vv. 3–4). For believers in Jesus, it’s not enough to acknowledge what’s going on within us to ourselves, to our friends, or to medical specialists. We must earnestly come to God (thoughts and all) with prayers that include the earnest petitions found in Psalm 143:7–10. Our dark moments can also be times for deep prayers—seeking the light and life only God can bring.
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. — Proverbs 16:32
When it comes to anger, someone has said that people tend to be of two different types. There are those who blow up and there are those who clam up. Some people do both. Paul deals with that in Ephesians 4:26. He says, “Be angry but do not sin.”
There is such a thing as righteous anger but the sin related to anger is when this bursts forth in all sorts of vicious speech. When we rail against another person, give place to malice, explode, and tell other people off. We have then given way to sin; we have given place to the devil.
So Paul tells us in verse 26 that we are not to let our anger explode. Furthermore, he says, “No not let the sun go down on your anger.” That is, do not close up like a clam and keep that hot boiling anger within you. There are some people who can keep it in for years, blocking any sort of communication.
But by His grace, many people are able to control their anger, to “be angry and sin not.”
Question to ponder: How has the Holy Spirit worked in your life to control your temper?
We live in daily submission to a host of authorities who circumscribe our freedom: from parents to traffic police officers to dog catchers. All authorities are to be respected and, as the Bible declares, honored. But only one authority has the intrinsic right to bind the conscience. God alone imposes absolute obligation, and He does it by the power of His holy voice.
He calls the world into existence by divine imperative, by holy fiat. He calls the dead and rotting Lazarus to life again. He calls people who were no people “My people.” He calls us out of darkness and into light. He effectually calls us to redemption. He calls us to service.
Our vocation is so named because of its Latin root vocatio, “a calling.” The term vocationalchoice is a contradiction in terms to the Christian. To be sure, we do choose it and can, in fact, choose to disobey it. But prior to the choice and hovering with absolute power over it is the divine summons, the imposition to duty from which we dare not flee.
It was vocation that drove Jonah on his flight to Tarshish and caused his terrified shipmates to dump him in the sea to still the vengeful tempest. It was vocation that elicited the anguished cry from Paul, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16). It was vocation that put a heinous cup of bitterness in the hands of Jesus.
The call of God is not always to a glamorous vocation, and its fruit in this world is often bittersweet. Yet God calls us according to our gifts and talents, and directs us to paths of the most useful service to His kingdom. How impoverished we would be if Jonah had made it to Tarshish, if Paul had refused to preach, if Jeremiah really had turned in his prophet’s card, or if Jesus had politely declined the cup.
Think about it . . . what will be the tab of spiritual losses if you do not respond to God’s call?
My mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee. —Psalm 63:5-6
What are we allowing the Word of God to say to us, and what is our reaction to that Word? Have we consumed and digested the Book? Have we absorbed the Word of God into our lives?…
When we, as Christians, love our Lord Jesus Christ with heart and soul and mind, the Word of God is on our side! If we could only grasp the fact that God’s Word is more than a book! It is the revelation of divine truth from the person of God Himself. It has come as a divine communication in the sacred Scriptures. It has come to us in the guidance and conviction imparted by the divine Spirit of God within our beings. It has been modeled for us in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word and the eternal Son….
God is not silent, and His love for His creation is such that He has never been silent. JIV164-165
Every problem that touches us is answered in the Book—stay by the Word!…God is in this Book, the Holy Spirit is in this Book, and if you want to find Him, go into this Book. COU136
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship.—Acts 2:42
I read a passage in a book that said: “We can only get to know ourselves and others to the extent that we tune in to the heartbeat of the universe.”
Here is a psychologist, a non-Christian, attempting to put into words one of the greatest truths of Scripture—namely, that it is only as we have fellowship with God that we can experience fellowship with ourselves and others. What a pity he could not see that what he calls “the heartbeat of the universe” is the heart that was broken on the cross.
Isn’t it sad that so many philosophers and scientists come so close to seeing the reality that lies behind the universe and yet, for some reason, sidestep the great issue of entering into a personal relationship with God? They struggle to know the secrets of the cosmos, and yet miss the “open secret” of God’s revelation through Christ which He laid bare at Calvary. Instead, they try to achieve fellowship through psychological processes that leave the heart estranged.
The astonishing rise in our day of the “group therapy movement” testifies to the need of the human heart for fellowship. Almost every country in the world reports a rapid rise of small groups meeting together to encourage, confront, and stimulate one another toward good emotional health and maturity. The world is waking up to the fact that we are made for fellowship. Oh, if only they could see that fellowship which does not begin with God, does not begin.
Father, I am so thankful for the discovery that fellowship cannot be produced by trying but by trusting. It begins and ends with You. Take me deeper into Your heart that I might take others deeper into mine. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has actually resulted in the advancement of the gospel. . . —Philippians 1:12
There are two ways to look at every situation: How it will affect you, and how it will affect God’s kingdom. The apostle Paul was always concerned with how his circumstances might aid the spreading of the Gospel. When he was unjustly imprisoned, he immediately looked to see how his imprisonment might provide God’s salvation to others (Phil. 1:13; Acts 16:19–34). When he was assailed by an angry mob, he used the opportunity to preach the Gospel (Acts 22:1–21). When Paul’s criminal proceedings took him before the king, his thoughts were on sharing his faith with the king! (Acts 26:1–32). Even when Paul was shipwrecked on an island, he used that opportunity to share the gospel there. Regardless of his circumstance, Paul’s concern was how he could use his current situation to tell others of God’s good news of salvation.
Often when we encounter a new situation, our first thoughts are not about God’s kingdom . When we face a crisis, we can become angry or fearful for our own well-being, rather than looking to see what God intends to do through our circumstances. If we remain self-centered we will miss so much of what God could do through our experiences, both for us and for those around us.
Ask God to make you aware of how He could use your present circumstances to bless others. Perhaps someone around you needs to see the difference Christ’s presence makes in your life. Are you willing for God to use your circumstances to demonstrate His saving power to those around you?