VIDEO Becoming Entirely His – Hard Times and Wisdom

Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. —James 1:4

Many of us appear to be all right in general, but there are still some areas in which we are careless and lazy; it is not a matter of sin, but the remnants of our carnal life that tend to make us careless. Carelessness is an insult to the Holy Spirit. We should have no carelessness about us either in the way we worship God, or even in the way we eat and drink.

Not only must our relationship to God be right, but the outward expression of that relationship must also be right. Ultimately, God will allow nothing to escape; every detail of our lives is under His scrutiny. God will bring us back in countless ways to the same point over and over again. And He never tires of bringing us back to that one point until we learn the lesson, because His purpose is to produce the finished product. It may be a problem arising from our impulsive nature, but again and again, with the most persistent patience, God has brought us back to that one particular point. Or the problem may be our idle and wandering thinking, or our independent nature and self-interest. Through this process, God is trying to impress upon us the one thing that is not entirely right in our lives.

We have been having a wonderful time in our studies over the revealed truth of God’s redemption, and our hearts are perfect toward Him. And His wonderful work in us makes us know that overall we are right with Him. “Let patience have its perfect work….” The Holy Spirit speaking through James said, “Now let your patience become a finished product.” Beware of becoming careless over the small details of life and saying, “Oh, that will have to do for now.” Whatever it may be, God will point it out with persistence until we become entirely His.


The message of the prophets is that although they have forsaken God, it has not altered God. The Apostle Paul emphasizes the same truth, that God remains God even when we are unfaithful (see 2 Timothy 2:13). Never interpret God as changing with our changes. He never does; there is no variableness in Him.  Notes on Ezekiel, 1477 L

Hard Times and Wisdom – James 1:1-8

“Make It Your Own, Dawg!”

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12

On June 11, 2002, the singing competition American Idol debuted. Each week, hopefuls performed their own versions of popular songs, and the viewing audience voted on who advanced to the next round of the competition.

As one of the panel judges on the show, Randy Jackson’s signature feedback was this zinger: “You made that song your own, dawg!” He lavished that praise when a singer took a familiar tune, learned it inside out, and then performed it in a new way that gave it a unique, personal spin. To “make it their own” was to own it completely and creatively, and then offer it to the world onstage.

Paul invites us to do something similar to own our faith and our expression of it, too. In Philippians 3, he rejects attempts to earn right standing before God (vv. 7–8). Instead, he teaches us to embrace “the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (v. 9). The gift of forgiveness and redemption transforms our motivation and goals: “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (v. 12).

Jesus has secured our victory. Our job? To take hold of that truth, internalizing God’s gospel gift and living it out amid our broken world. In other words, we’re to make our faith our own and in so doing “live up to what we have already attained” (v. 16).

By:  Adam Holz

Reflect & Pray

What do you think it looks like for you to “press on” in your faith? What most encourages and sustains you to keep moving forward?

Jesus, thank You for Your saving gift of redemption and love on the cross. Help me to respond in gratitude each day, and to press on in my faith with thankfulness.

A Safe Place

God is our safe place when the storms of life rage around us

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

We’re currently enjoying the warm, seemingly endless days of summer, but this season isn’t all sunshine and beauty. It’s also known for severe storms that bring lightning, thunder, and heavy rainfall. When they pop up, isn’t it wonderful to be able to run into a dry, comfortable shelter and be protected until the sun begins shining again?

Life is like that, too, sometimes. All is well until, suddenly and often without warning, difficulties arise. Our lives are full of “storms” of one kind or another. Regardless of what caused them, there’s seldom much we can do to stop them from running their course. All we can control is how we respond moving forward. Rather than face these troubles alone, we run to our heavenly Father, the One who deeply loves and cares for us—and waits with open arms. (See Proverbs 18:241 Peter 5:6-7; 1 John 3:1; Revelation 3:20.)

Think about it

  • How would you describe your relationship with God? Does He feel distant or is He close, like a loving friend ready to listen? Spend some time in prayer this week, asking God to help you sense just how near He is.

Offended at Him

“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.” (Mark 6:3)

There is many an individual who has by God’s grace found the Lord and has had a fruitful ministry in a place far from his hometown where he once lived a lifestyle of which he has now repented. Going home is difficult, for his former companions in sin will be there to oppose and tempt and disbelieve.

In the course of His travels, Jesus returned to His hometown (Mark 6:1), and although He had lived a sinless life in His early years, He was still only one of the local citizens, and this resulted in their prideful opposition and disbelief.

“And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?” (v. 2). As in our text, His local roots brought scorn and pride and offense.

Their unbelief (v. 6) seemed to limit His ability to work miracles (“and he could there do no mighty work,” v. 5), but such is not the case. There is no limit to the power of the omnipotent Creator! He is not limited by our feeble faith, but evidently He chose to limit His work as a way of reproof of their pride and unbelief.

Yet, note Mark’s casual mention of the healing of “a few sick folk” (v. 5). Such healings were in fact a mighty display of God’s power, a fact that Mark’s readers (primarily Romans and other Gentiles very impressed with power) would have recognized.

Let us not allow our modern-day familiarity with Christ and His power limit the honor and obedience that we return to Him (v. 4). JDM

Setting Up a Quota System

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.2 Corinthians 4:5

I have thanked God many times for the sweet, winsome ways of the Holy Spirit in dealing with the heart of this untaught lad when I was only seventeen. We had a neighbor by the name of Holman….[O]ne day I was walking up the street with this friendly neighbor. Suddenly, he put his hand on my shoulder.

“You know,” he said, “I have been wondering about you. I have been wondering if you are a Christian, if you are converted. I just wanted the chance to talk it over with you.”

“No, Mr. Holman,” I answered, “I am not converted, but I thank you for saying this to me. I am going to give it some serious thought.”…

Some Christians set up a quota system for their witnessing. I would hate to think that I was Mr. Holman’s quota for the day! Witnessing is a matter in which we need the guidance and concern of God through His Holy Spirit. MMG127-128

When seeking to bring the lost to Christ we must pray continually that they may receive the gift of seeing. And we must pit our prayer against that dark spirit who blinds the hearts of men. BAM063

Where Is Our Trust?

You have become enraged with Your anointed.Psalm 89:38

God’s glory is more important than our own well-being. The serious problem is not the pain that others have inflicted upon us, but the pain we have inflicted (and continue to inflict) upon God. Let me spell out as clearly as I can exactly what I mean.

Many Christians are far more interested in focusing on how they can get God to comfort them when they have been hurt than considering how much they have hurt Him. Not that it is wrong to seek His comfort—Scripture encourages us to do this—but it is only one side of the picture. The most popular books in our bookshops today are titles such as these: How to Be Healed of Life’s Hurts or How to Overcome the Pains of the Past. I repeat that this is a legitimate emphasis, but we must not lose sight of the fact that the important issue is not how badly people have behaved toward us, but how badly we have behaved (and continue to behave) toward God.

Take this for example: Someone hurts us or upsets us, and we decide to become the architects of their judgment. But what does God say? “Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay” (Rm 12:19). Don’t you think God is hurt when He sees us ignoring His Word? We may have been sinned against, but is that any justification for sinning against God? Let’s not mince words here, for any violation of a divine principle must be called by its rightful name—sin. And no sin ought to be treated lightly—especially a sin against God.


O God, forgive me that so often I am more concerned about how others have treated me than the way I treat You. I see that a failure to trust You is a failure in love. I say, “I love You,” but only so far. Forgive me and help me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 62:1-12; Mt 21:12-13; 23:37-39; Lk 19:41

What pain was inflicted on Jesus as He observed the Temple area?

What pain did Jesus feel as He approached the city?

God’s Presence

No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you.Joshua 1:5

God’s assignment for Joshua might have caused him some concern. Being the successor to Moses was no small task. Through Moses, God had turned the waters in Egypt into blood, parted the Red Sea, destroyed the Egyptian army, and miraculously fed the nation for forty years. God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai and gave him His law. Joshua must have wondered how he could follow Moses.

To erase any doubt, God assured Joshua that Moses’ accomplishments had all been due to God’s presence. Joshua grew confident because the same God who walked with Moses now walked with him (Josh. l:6).

As you read the accounts of God’s miraculous work through men and women in the Bible, you may wonder if God still performs such miracles today. Be assured that the same God who walked with Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Peter, James, John, and Paul now lives within you. No power can defeat the God who guides you. The God who blessed them is just as capable of working out His purposes through your life. The same God who gave them victory over seemingly invincible enemies, who provided for them when their own resources were insufficient, and who guided them in their decisions, is prepared to work as powerfully in your life today. The heroes of the faith had one thing in common: They were all ordinary people with no power of their own. The difference is the mighty presence of God. Times may change, but the effect of God’s presence remains the same.

VIDEO Jesus Prays: In Heaven

It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Romans 8:34

Our Lord’s prayer life didn’t stop when He ascended to heaven. While He was on earth, He looked up to heaven when He prayed. Now on the throne He has only to look over, as it were, and talk to the Father on behalf of His children. 

Perhaps you wished you had someone who would pray for you with more intensity. Maybe you wonder if anyone ever really prays for you in an earnest manner. Yes! Jesus makes intercession for you. The word “intercession” means to intercede for another, to speak on their behalf as by pleading or petition. Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

Take a moment to ponder this: Your Savior prays for you. He is doing so right now.

God’s hearing of our prayers doth not depend upon sanctification, but upon Christ’s intercession. Thomas Brooks

No One Can Separate Us (Romans 8:31-34)

Followed by God’s Goodness

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. Psalm 23:6

At my first job during my high school years, I worked at a women’s clothing store where a female security guard dressed as a shopper followed women she thought might steal the merchandise. Certain people fit profiles of those the store owners thought were suspicious. Others not considered a threat were left alone. I’ve been profiled in stores myself and followed, an interesting experience since I still recognize the tactic.

In sharp contrast, David declared he was followed by a divine blessing—God’s goodness and mercy. These two gifts always stay close, following him not with suspicion but real love. The “twin guardian angels,” as evangelist Charles Spurgeon described the pair, follow believers closely during both bleak days and bright. “The dreary days of winter as well as the bright days of summer. Goodness supplies our needs, and mercy blots out our sins.”

As a onetime shepherd, David understood this intentional pairing of goodness and mercy as it’s provided by God. Other things could follow believers—fear, worry, temptation, doubts. But “surely,” David declares with undoubting certainty, God’s kind goodness and loving mercy follow us always.

As David rejoiced, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). What an amazing gift to follow us home!

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

How does being followed by God’s goodness and mercy bless your life? How can you become more aware of this?

Dear God, thank You for following me with good intentions and two beautiful blessings, Your goodness and mercy.

A Clean Heart

Obeying God’s Word transforms our hearts and enables us to fulfill the plans God has for us

Psalm 119:9-11

Fulfilling God’s Purpose for our life begins with a clean heart—one that loves the Lord and wants to obey Him. However, we’re all born with a sin nature. Thankfully, though, salvation transforms us (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for our transgressions and broke sin’s power over us. By receiving Christ as Savior, we each become a new creation—with a heart sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and a mind that wants to know the Father better. We also receive the Spirit’s power to deny our selfish desires and obey God. Then we can begin to make use of the capabilities our loving Lord has given us.

But how do we keep our heart clean? The best way is to meditate on Scripture. Doing so helps us discover the areas where we have been faithful and also the places where we’ve veered from His path. Expressing genuine repentance brings God’s forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). When we strive to keep following the Lord’s ways, we will more easily discern His plan and submit our will to His.

Becoming the person God planned for each of us to be requires an intimate relationship with Him and a desire to obey. Apart from Jesus, we can achieve nothing of lasting value (John 15:5). Cooperating with the Holy Spirit’s transforming work will help us keep our heart clean and open to God